When I was a kid, I used to love this time of year: spring training (earlier today I watched Gary, Keith and Ron on the TV, and just listened to Howie and Wayne on the radio– ah, baseball!) and the Academy Awards. One year– remember, kids, the Oscars used to be on a Monday night, before ABC realized they were missing a ton of moolah– I spent the early evening with my father, at a dinner featuring ’86 World Series M.V.P. Ray Knight, and raced home to catch the Oscars. (And life, to this kid, doesn’t get any better!) And I guess I’m still a kid, ’cause even though the Mets have a whole slew of problems, and we all know the Oscars are the most political thing this side of gerrymandering, I still love this time of year. I saw a bunch of movies (though less than ever before, although more independent flicks through IFC-on-demand), and here are my thoughts:
My Favorite Flicks of 2011: The Social Network God, I love this flick, and God I love Mr. Aaron Sorkin. A movie-writing friend of mine doesn’t understand why I love this flick oh-so-much, and it’s because it’s what Aaron Sorkin writes best: Smart people who love their work. It’s also, like A Few Good Men, a genius courtroom drama and one is better with dialogue. Toy Story 3 Pixar never misses. It’s insane. The Kids Are All Right Is there a better feel good movie of the year? And it’s so, so hard to write about real damn people. Inception This was a buy the ticket, take the ride movie, and I did. Just don’t think too, too hard about it afterwards. True Grit Classic, fantastic storytelling, and so enjoyable to view. Also, one of the many movies this year that proves storytelling is alive and well. The Town The Rodney Dangerfield of 2011: Where’s the respect? It’s not like it’s easy to make an absorbing, well-told, exciting genre flick. And I think this is a better movie than Gone Baby Gone. The Fighter Yes, it’s a bit melodramatic, but it works. Blue Valentine This is a brutal, brilliant flick. A shout-out to my movie-going colleague, and if you Netflix one flick that you haven’t seen yet this year, this is it.
Overlooked Movies: Solitary Man A terrific performance by Michael Douglas, and a reunion with Danny DeVito. A good character film. Cairo Man Is anyone better than Patricia Clarkson? How is she not up for an Independent Spirit Award? The Other Guys If you know me, you know I’m a sucker for a Will Ferrell pic, and this is the best one in years. Rent it! Please Give Oh, Nicole Holfocener, you’re the new, better, female Woody Allen. Mother and Child Terrible title, good movie, and yes, it was associate produced by a dear friend. The Ghost Writer Not a great flick, but an entertaining thriller nonetheless. And yes, I know who helmed it.
Controversial Flick Everyone Else Loved But I Didn’t: Black Swan My father adores it. To me– and yes, there are good scenes, and yes, you know the scene I’m talking bout– it’s a schlocky psychological mess that if you saw on your couch at 11 pm on the late movie on Cinemax, you’d turn off. Go ahead, hate me, but watch this awesome Jim Carrey parody from SNL.
Benign, Heartwarming Flick That Is Overrated The King’s Speech Colin Firth is tremendous, and Geoffrey Rush is always good. But in it’s history it was written as a two-hander play, and it’s stayed that on film. Also, the camera angles: Really, Mr. Hooper, really?!
Indies That No One Else Saw: Greenberg, The Extra Man, It’s Kind of A Funny Story…, Tiny Furniture, Cold Weather, Douchebag, Breaking Upwards I’ll spare you a detailed breakdown of each one (and certainly the discovery of the year is Greta Gerwig!), but while I’m impressed they made the movies, none of them dazzled me. Some were better than others (Breaking Upwards, Tiny Furniture) and some are guilty of the worst sin: wasting Kevin Kline (The Extra Man).
What I Ain’t Seen Yet: Winter’s Bone, Another Year, Carlos, Rabbit Hole, Get Low, Daddy Longlegs, 127 Hours, A Prophet, Animal Kingdom
What I’ll Never See: Tron 2
Best Picture Will: The King’s Speech Dances With Wolves beat Goodfellas, and people are still upset. Same deal here. Should: The Social Network Just go watch it again. A perfect marriage of the storytelling of Sorkin with the artistry of Fincher. Wasn’t Even Nominated?! The Town You will not see a more entertaining picture this year.
Best Actor Will: Colin Firth Should: Colin Firth I mean, sure, why not? He’s been so good for so long, though to nominated best actor is Jesse Eisenberg. ?! Ryan Gosling and Mark Whalberg Gosling gives, hands down, the most honest, raw performance since, really, John Cassavettes. As for Whalberg, please repeat after me: It’s a lot harder to pull of a person than someone with an addiction or an illness.
Best Actress Will: Natalie Portman Should: Annette Bening You just read what I wrote, right? ?! Patricia Clarkson Rent Cairo Time and just gaze at her.
Best Supporting Actor Will: Christian Bale Should: Jeremy Renner Is there a better, more exciting actor working today? And I’ll throw my hat in for Mark Ruffalo, as well. ?! Well, I never, ever thought I’d write this, but Justin Timberlake gives a go-for-broke performance in The Social Network that convinced me he’s an actor.
Best Supporting Actress Will: Melissa Leo Should: Melissa Leo And I’m not just writing that because she did a favor to our theatre co. years ago. She pulls off a real person, and she’s also been so good for so long. ?! Helena Bonham Carter over Julianne Moore?! Are you kidding me?! Also, keep an eye on The Town‘s Rebecca Hall: Beautiful and talented in a thankless role.
Best Director Will: David Fincher Should: David Fincher This’ll split the DGA vote, thankfully. (Inside baseball?) Go back and look at his work; it’s a marvelous and continuing career. Heck, he should’a won for Zodiac. ?! Ben Affleck He was left for dead as a terrible movie star, and reinvented himself. Bring on the next flick, please!
Best Adapted Screenplay Will: Aaron Sorkin Should: Aaron Sorkin And now I’m drooling on my keyboard. Saw the flick twice in the theatre. Is it too much for me to write he’s the President Bartlet of writers? ?! Hmm. Even I don’t know.
Best Original Screenplay Will: David Seidler, The King’s Speech Should: Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Bloomberg, The Kids Are All Right Is there a film more generous to its honest, human characters?
Well, I know you’re excited about Sound Editing friend, but that’s the show. Much on some popcorn, please, and root on the lovely Anne Hathaway and the everywhere James Franco! Goodnight!