Thursday, February 03, 2011

Oscar Contenders

Despite what happens later this month at the Oscars, The King’s Speech (the KS from now on) deserves the best picture award. If you watch any TV, you’ve probably seen a spot for the movie, especially since the Oscar nominations were announced. Admittedly, the spots are a bit annoying because they use some of the best scenes in the movie and when I see them over and over again it sort of cheapens that particular scene, like I can’t take pleasure in watching it anymore. That’s a shame. However, the movie is excellent and there are no comparisons to The Social Network (the SN from now on) to be drawn.

Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush are seasoned professionals and when you watch them in the KS you are witness to their dedication and talent. I am sure I didn’t feel that about anyone in the SN. While the acting in the SN was good enough to sustain the movie, it was the writing that pushed the story and made it interesting. Thus, I feel the SN is a better contender for adapted screenplay than it is for best picture. That award should go to a film with outstanding performances from the people on screen and behind the camera, in music, in special effects, etc. As we know, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes the movie goes to the most controversial film or the most groundbreaking or the most scandalous. But the KS satisfies more of these categories than any other movie I have seen this year.

True Grit

Dry, witty, at times both despairingly hopeless and funny, the True Grit remake had many marks of a Coen Brother’s film. And from what I have seen on AMC in the last couple of weeks, the remake greatly improved on the original. Why? At the risk of sounding ignorant and unappreciative of older films, the remake looks better, the film seems less scripted, the acting is better, and when the film ends, you are sort of left in limbo, a classic finish of some Coen Bros. films. Our protagonist (Mattie Ross) is victorious, but (SPOILER ALERT) she lost an arm and she never marries and when she tries to track down Rooster Cogburn she is told he recently passed away. In the end the exuberance and youth is drained out of Ross even though her words are still poignant and sharp. You can’t help but feel for her as she stands on the horizon with a lone tree, wondering how harsh the rest of her life was, that life after she fell into the snake pit and the life after the adventure with Rooster and LaBoeuf came to an end. It must have been a life of continuous trials and tribulations because Ross is hardened and seems to no longer understand much of the world she lives in. It reminded me of the end of No Country For Old Men, when Ed Tom Bell, played by Tommy Lee Jones, sits at his kitchen table relating a dream to his wife:

…It was like we was both back in older times and I was on horseback going through the mountains…It was cold and snowin…He [his father] rode past me and kept on goin. Never said nothin goin by. He just rode on past and he had his blanket wrapped around him and his head down...And when he rode past I seen he was carryin fire in a horn the way people used to do and I could see the horn from the light inside of it…And in the dream I knew that he was goin on ahead and that he was fixin to make a fire somewhere out there in all that dark and all that cold, and I knew that whenever I got there he would be there.


Rachel Larson said...

Aaron Sorkin from West Wing did the screenplay so I hope that wins, because it was good, as Sorkin is, but best picture....gag.

Erik said...

I liked the first half of your post, but then had to stop (SPOILER ALERT). Thanks for the heads up.