And the winners should be…. 2011 Oscar Predictions (Matt’s Picks)

Best Picture

The Social Network
Black Swan
The King’s Speech
127 Hours
Winter’s Bone
The Kids Are All Right
Inception
Toy Story 3
The Fighter
True Grit

Should Win I’d be the most happy with Social Network, Black Swan, or The Kids Are All Right.  There’s no real Blind Side this year, but The King’s Speech is the least deserving… and it’s also one of the front-runners.
Will Win: The Social Network has a real shot, but so does The King’s Speech. Many have already handed it to King George, but I’m leaning toward King Zuckerberg.
Snubbed: There’s really no Blind Side this year among the nominees. However, over The King’s Speech I would’ve nominated The Ghost Writer, Enter the Void, White Material, Exit Through the Gift Shop, Splice or I Am Love.


Best Director

Tom Hooper- The King’s Speech
Darren Aronofsky- Black Swan
Joel & Ethan Coen- True Grit
David Fincher- The Social Network
David O. Russell- The Fighter

Should Win: Aronofsky.  His direction on Black Swan was the best thing about the movie, which is saying a lot.  Fincher is also great, but so many other elements of Social Network would’ve worked on their own if not as well.  You can’t really say that about Black Swan.
Will Win: Fincher.  Even if The Social Network doesn’t walk away with the night’s biggest trophy, this one is a pretty safe bet.
Snubbed: Yes, yes, Christopher Nolan deserved a nomination  for Inception here over Tom Hooper, but don’t forget Danny Boyle.  His direction on 127 Hours was impeccable and his movie was better than both Inception and The King’s Speech.   I’d also throw in Lisa Cholodenko’s low-key genius in The Kid’s Are All Right, Gasper Noe’s hallucinatory brilliance in Enter the Void, Roman Polanski’s artful storytelling in The Ghost Writer and the mesmerizing work of Claire Denis in White Material.

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The Best Movies of 2010

Communication and identity were big themes in 2010 (and every other year), right alongside isolationism on top and kids (and their toys) growing up to mounting uncertainty.  The films, as they always do, reflect that.  The best ones had none of the problems that their characters often face, and though there are thousands of tireless idiosyncrasies among this year’s releases, it’s the bigger connections that are important, and we’ve left one out.  All of the films on this list are wonderful, if each in their own way.  So here’s a toast to the great, the weird, the insightful, the funny, and the heartbreaking, and here’s hoping Transformers 3 doesn’t prevent 2011 from being just as good if not better.

1. Black Swan- Taking lessons from classics like The Red Shoes and Repulsion and then adding in more frantic body horror, Darren Aronofsky has us follow Nina the ballerina on her nightmarish journey toward perfection in her preparation for the leads in Swan Lake. In this unlikely companion piece to 2008’s The Wrestler, we dive deeper into the depths of an athlete’s mind and body at war with itself while Nina tries to find her inner dark side to play the Black Swan.  The battle is projected onto the environment with hallucinations and onto Nina’s weary body in the form of scratches, bruises, and emerging feathers.  Aronofsky himself wages a successful battle between perfect technique and dark, brooding instinct.  He, along with a never-better Natalie Portman, creates a new masterpiece full of feverish dance sequences, controlling mothers, and fierce competition for his catalog.  Like his protagonist, he flies past the competition and lands atop the pile of 2010’s best films.  Read Full Review Continue reading

REVIEW: Black Swan

Black Swan
Directed by: Darren Aronofsky
Written by: Mark Heyman, Andres Heintz, & John J. McLaughlin
Starring: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, and Barbara Hershey

Perfection: chased to the elegant stage by way of the not-so-elegant back rooms.  That is the goal viewers watch Nina (Natalie Portman) hurt, bleed, and dance, dance, dance toward  in Darren Aronofsky’s hallucinatory Black Swan.

Aronofsky, fast becoming cinema’s brightest renegade and fiercest visionary, has never been shy about making you feel his characters’ pain.  By removing all distance between you and them by rapid cutting and frantic pacing, you feel a kinetic connection to their turmoil.

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SPOTLIGHT: Adrien Brody

Nobody would’ve believed someone who said Adrien Brody would be the science fiction star of 2010.  But here we are, with Brody offering up two performances in Splice and Predators that, along with his work in movies like King Kong, The Village, and The Jacket earn him a place among the most unconventional science fiction/fantasy stars working today.  However, Brody does much more than sci-fi.  He has triumphed the Oscars (The Pianist), solved murder mysteries (Hollywoodland), and searched for himself alongside his brothers (The Darjeeling Limited); whether or not the movie is that great, you can rely on Mr. Brody to create a character that you’ll want to watch and learn more about.  Here are his five most interesting to date.

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SPOTLIGHT: Jack Nicholson

For our new Spotlight series, I decided to kick things off with one of the greats.  While this segment of the site may not always focus on big names, they don’t get much bigger than Jack Nicholson.  Exploring a career as acclaimed and a man as legendary as this is no easy task.  What these pieces will consist of are commonalities in the career of the subject, as well as five key films to see their work in.  As always, give us feedback about what you think!

Career: As previously mentioned, Nicholson’s career has been legendary for decades.  One of the greats of both the old and especially the new American cinema, he has forged an identity on the screen that is both iconic and consistently shifting.  A lot can be done with those eyebrows, and he finds something new every time.  Whether he raises them in madness (The Shining) or in smug victory (As Good as It Gets), they are part of what defines him as an actor.  Of course the other thing is that talent.  He has given us some of the most legendary movie characters of all time and also influenced many other fine actors.  His off-screen life is kept largely private, though he makes notorious awards show appearances and is a legendary playboy.  It would be ignorant to keep him out of those shows, since he alone has won three Oscars and been nominated for 12.  At the forefront of American screen legends, Jack is not afraid to take risks, and has made it a point to work with every director he’s wanted to work with and only rarely cashing in on his image (The Bucket List).  Though there are far more than five great performances from him, here are the highlights that showcase a different side to Hollywood’s definitive wily renegade.

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