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127 Hours
I had such mixed emotions when this movie came out. On the one hand, I was so excited to see it because the trailer looked incredible and I have an undying love for all things James Franco. But on the other hand, I was seriously scared, the way I used to get when I was a kid and was next in line for the front seat of a scary looking roller coaster. I wasn’t sure how well I’d handle the material that had people passing out at early screenings.

127 Hours is the true story of adventurous thrill seeker Aron Ralston, who spent 5 days with his right arm pinned under a boulder in Utah. This movie seemed to boil down to one important question- can James Franco carry a movie almost completely alone? The answer is a resounding yes. Franco’s performance is engaging and incredible. As Aron, his time trapped is spent alternating between being incredibly resourceful and daydreaming about all the things he should have done (for instance, tell someone where he went) that would have changed things. However, I think the film suffers because the end is known. Every moment spent with Aron as he’s trapped is coupled with a level of anxiety, waiting for what is to come. There is a daydream sequence where it begins to rain and Aron’s boulder is lifted away, freeing him and allowing him to escape. But we know the whole time this isn’t real- this isn’t how the story ends. The anxiety that sets in while waiting for the inevitable end result is so overwhelming that when the end does come, it’s a huge relief. It’s an incredible story, but the film remains distinctly average. The whole time I felt as though any moment it would push into being as amazing as it’s lead actor and as inspiring as its source material, but it couldn’t quite clear that hurdle.

Ever since the Academy implemented it’s 10 Best Picture slots, I like to look at selections and determine if I think they’d have been nominated in a 5 Best Picture year. This movie would not have been; it’s definite bottom 5 material. While it boasted a fantastic performance, it just couldn’t build off of that to make the film into something memorable as well. Because it doesn’t do it’s inspiring source material as much justice as expected, I don’t think it’s a strong contender in the Best Adapted Screenplay category.

As for Best Actor, in another year, James Franco might be a frontrunner. His performance as Aron is the best thing about this film. Unfortunately, he has some steep competition and as a first time nominee, he likely won’t take the award home.

The music, both Original Score and Original Song, evoke touching images and match Aron’s spirit and emotion throughout the film. But despite being inspirational, neither are unique enough to stand out amongst the contenders.

One thing the film does get right is its energy, and that is conveyed best through the editing. It’s music video-like beginning captures Aron’s liveliness, and as the film wears on, we are brought in and out of Aron’s thoughts and mind. There are big players in the Best Editing category this year, but the Academy could choose to honor the film here.

Posted on February 15th, 2011 by Jess | Comments Off on Best Picture Nominee: 127 Hours
Filed Under Entertainment

I love this category- especially when someone unexpected and deserving wins it (see Roman Polanski for The Pianist). This year is a little unusual and, I think, a little predictable as the category is identical to Best Picture:

  • Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire
  • Stephen Daldry for The Reader
  • David Fincher for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Ron Howard for Frost/Nixon
  • Gus Van Sant for Milk

Prediction:
Danny Boyle. He has a wonderful vision and of these nominees he deserves it the most.

What Should Win:
Darren Aronofsky. Moreso than being snubbed for Best Picture, I think The Wrestler had the best direction I’ve seen this year. I really wish the Academy had done right by Aronofsky by at least giving him a nomination.

Posted on February 22nd, 2009 by Jess | Leave a Comment
Filed Under Entertainment

I saw this movie back in November last year, before it won all the awards and was surrounded by tons of hype.

Slumdog Millionaire, Oscar Nominated

When a Mumbai teen (Dev Patel) is arrested on suspicion of cheating on the game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire, he retells his past to show how he knows the answer to each and every question. Raised on the streets with his brother (Madhur Mittal), he tells of unfinished business between his brother and a long lost love (Freida Pinto).

Not only did I see this film before all the hype, but I knew almost nothing about its plot. When the credits came up on the Who Wants to be a Millionaire set I wondered what kind of weird, gimmicky movie I’d gotten myself into. But, it proved to be very touching, sweet, and extremely enjoyable. I wasn’t the least bit surprised when it started snatching up awards left and right, especially considering its competition.

Nominations:

Best Picture
Because The Wrestler’s not nominated here, this is my favorite film of the five. I also really enjoyed Milk and The Reader, the only two films with a chance to take this award away from Slumdog. The Academy is old-fashioned, so Slumdog’s feel good ending may give it the edge over Milk, but The Reader has been quietly rustling up its own buzz lately and could squeak past this indie darling.

Best Director – Danny Boyle
I definitely think that despite what wins Best Picture, Boyle will take home the gold on Oscar night. The Academy is honoring his career with his best film to date.

Best Adapted Screenplay
I’m a big fan of this category, but a little out of sorts as I have not read Q&A, the book that Slumdog is based on. I have, however, read The Reader and again think that this competition is between these two.

Best Cinematography
The film looks great, sure, but I don’t think it stands a chance here. Between The Dark Knight, The Reader, and Benjamin Button the competition is far too stiff to be considered.

Best Editing
Here I’ll put Slumdog down for another win. With the seamless transitions between past and present and a beautifully cut final sequence, this film deserves the win here.

Best Score
Another win. Everyone is flipping for Slumdog’s Bollywood music as it offers up something different that the Academy rarely sees here.

Best Original Song – “Jai Ho” and “O Saya”
Normally I’d say that having two nominations in the same category would split the vote, but now I’m just debating which one will win. “O Saya” is the song that plays in the beginning of the film as the children are running through the streets of Mumbai, while “Jai Ho” is the one that the entire cast dances to, Bollywood style, at the end of the film. I give the edge to “Jai Ho” for being the most recognizable, though both are great. Poor Peter Gabriel doesn’t stand a chance.

Best Sound and Best Sound Editing
I’ve stated before that I think these categories belong to The Dark Knight and WALL-E, respectively, and I don’t think that Slumdog will give them much of a run for their money. But you never know- these categories are often quite difficult to predict.

****½

Best Picture

  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Frost/Nixon
  • The Reader
  • Milk
  • Slumdog Millionaire

Best Director

  • David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
  • Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon
  • Gus van Sant, Milk
  • Stephen Daldry, The Reader

Continue reading to check out the full list of 2009 Oscar Nominees! And keep checking back with the site as Phasekitty watches and takes a look at all of the nominees as we march towards the awards show.

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