Black Swan

Fresh from the cinematic experience that was Black Swan, I am still reeling from what was perhaps the most psychologically tense and disturbing film I may have seen. Your first reaction has to be wow, not just its sheer intensity and magnitude but from still trying to figure out what was real and was not. I couldn’t help but feel that Aronofsky has pulled the rug from underneath our feet; lead down one path or perhaps serveral and then wondering at the end if it all could have been some twisted nightmare. Then again Aronofsky never really let’s us trust him, as is the issue when your mind is as twisted and paronoid as Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman). From the opening the sequence the ballet is exquisite and yet equally brutal; the choreography is beautiful and romantic, the dancing is distressing and excrutiating. I cringed several times and not just at bleeding toenails or ripped skin. There have been more awkward times in my life, but watching Portman indulge in self-pleasuring (there was much nervous laughter and one couple even stormed out during a steamier scene) whilst accompanied by my mum is definately up there. Along with watching Wedding Crashers with my nan. Anyway I’m digressing. It cannot be denied that Aronofsky knows how to make a film, every shot is constructed and every choice made with purpose. I especially liked the broken ballerina after Nina’s transformation. But then on greater reflection most of it you can’t help but admire. The casting was brilliant, Winona Ryder drawing on her Girl, Interrupted days and Vincent Cassell at his manipulative, seducitve best.
It is a dream, or maybe even a nightmare but you can’t help but be utterly absorbed and drawn into the perversity and peculiarity of it all. Portman is in every respect Nina; the way her face and body contorts, moves and expresses; she becomes both the white swan and black swan, as Leroy declares “its a hard fucking job” but she pulls it off magnificently.
Aronfosky’s ability to depict psychological deterioration remains as powerful as it was in Requiem. It is an enthralling and visceral experience.
P.s. Mila Kunis is also amazing and I LOVE Nina’s white dress at the party. Beautiful.

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Oscar Nominations!

Ok I just realised I should have posted my Oscar predictions on here, then I could have done a comparative rant rather than just a plain rant, but I didn’t, so prepare yourselves. I’m not doing all of them, just the main ones otherwise you will probably lose interest. Tbh I have probably lost my already limited readership at the word rant, but its carthartic.

Best Motion Picture of the Year
Nominees:

127 Hours (2010): Christian Colson, Danny Boyle, John Smithson

Black Swan (2010): Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver, Scott Franklin

The Fighter (2010): David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman, Mark Wahlberg

Inception (2010): Christopher Nolan, Emma Thomas

The Kids Are All Right (2010): Gary Gilbert, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, Celine Rattray

The King’s Speech (2010): Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, Gareth Unwin

The Social Network (2010): Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca, Ceán Chaffin

Toy Story 3 (2010): Darla K. Anderson

True Grit (2010): Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Scott Rudin

Winter’s Bone (2010): Anne Rosellini, Alix Madigan

– I’m not really sure why they started nominating (i was just about to write nomineeing!!!) 10 best film candidates other than to generate a wider audience for the Academy Awards. I happen to think it just clogs up category, Toy Story 3 is by all means a brilliant film, but its been nominated in the animated film category also and will stand a far better chance winning there, so why bother nominating it twice? As always I make an ambitious effort to try and watch all the nominated films before the actual Oscar ceremony so when I make my post-Oscar rant (bet you’re looking forward to that) I can actually make informed opinions, unlike here where I’m basing a lot of what I say on the jungle drums. I’ve seen 5/10 and plan on see 3 more very recently, so I’m not doing too shabbily. Of what I’ve seen I completely agree they should all be nominated. Inception is a truly original masterpiece, Winter’s Bone is more of a character driven drama; I commend all of its performances but I think its weaker overall than several of its opponents. For me at the moment its a toss-up between The Social Network and Inception. I thought The King’s Speech was a relatively mediocre film peppered with some magical dialogue and acting and Toy Story 3 should win animated as aforementioned. However this could all change tomorrow when I get around to see 127 hours and later on Black Swan…

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Nominees:

Javier Bardem for Biutiful (2010)

Jeff Bridges for True Grit (2010)

Jesse Eisenberg for The Social Network (2010)

Colin Firth for The King’s Speech (2010)

James Franco for 127 Hours (2010)

– This is where I could start getting hypocritical, seeing as I’ve only seen two of these performances. Personally from the Oscar buzz and watching the trailer/clips I think Ryan Gosling has been snubbed. I also think DiCaprio deserved a nod for either Inception or Shutter Island, but then I can’t really say who he would replace… If I did believe in God it would be an amalgamation of Morgan Freeman and Jeff Bridges, so I’m really glad the latter is nominated. Would be pretty cool if he won to make it a double, but I have a feeling Firth or Franco is going to walk away with this one. I’d definately be interested to see what would happen if Franco won seeing as he’s also hosting. I loved Eisenberg as Zuckerberg in TSN but I think he’s somewhat overshadowed in this category. But you never know!

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Nominees:

Annette Bening for The Kids Are All Right (2010)

Nicole Kidman for Rabbit Hole (2010)

Jennifer Lawrence for Winter’s Bone (2010)

Natalie Portman for Black Swan (2010)

Michelle Williams for Blue Valentine (2010)

– Jennifer Lawrence was stunning in Winter’s Bone; unflinching, convincing and portrayed with such integrity that your heart can’t help but ache for her. I mostly agree with this category; there are no gaping holes. Based on the golden globe win I think Natalie Portman will take this one and it will no doubt be well deserved. Also glad to see Nicole Kidman back in the game, seeing as her movie choices have been less than abominable over recent times; I liked her in Nine, but ever since Cold Mountain she has decreased in my estimations especially after Bewitched. Although I must admit I harbour quite a glaring partiality simply because her name is Nicole. A very strong category!

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Nominees:

Christian Bale for The Fighter (2010)

John Hawkes for Winter’s Bone (2010)

Jeremy Renner for The Town (2010)

Mark Ruffalo for The Kids Are All Right (2010)

Geoffrey Rush for The King’s Speech (2010)

– Andrew Garfield has been robbed. I am quite apopletic. This is based entirely on prejudice because I haven’t even seen The Fighter but I don’t want Christian Bale to win, according to the Empire magazine review Mark Wahlberg gives just as good if not better turn as Bale’s brother, but there you go. Jeremy Renner was memorable in what was a standout cast and he’ll still be on the radar after last year’s Oscars. Personally I think its between Rush, Renner and unfortunately Bale. Hawkes is the Melissa Leo of last year’s actress category, a nod toward independent filmmaking but totally replaceable. I will go and hide under a rock if he wins for fear that my film knowledge reputation shall be forever muddied. I’m still seething about Andrew Garfield though.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Nominees:

Amy Adams for The Fighter (2010)

Helena Bonham Carter for The King’s Speech (2010)

Melissa Leo for The Fighter (2010)

Hailee Steinfeld for True Grit (2010)

Jacki Weaver for Animal Kingdom (2010)

– Hailee Steinfeld must be on cloud nine right now, not only was it her first ever feature film, but she got to work with the Coen Brothers, Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon and then she only goes and gets nominated. Yes this is the green-eyed monster talking…what a bitch. Kidding, I’m sure she’s absolutely lovely. I also love it when two people from the same movie are nominated in the same category, the tension is brilliant. I think HBC was classy as ever, but I reckon this one will be between Leo and Adams; I especially hope Adams, this is her third nomination and she is always turns in a powerhouse perfomance.

Best Achievement in Directing
Nominees:

Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan (2010)

Ethan Coen, Joel Coen for True Grit (2010)

David Fincher for The Social Network (2010)

Tom Hooper for The King’s Speech (2010)

David O. Russell for The Fighter (2010)

– This is where I really let rip, so thank you if you’ve stayed with this post until now. CHRISTOPHER NOLAN NOT NOMINATED!!! There are no words… surely that was the most visionary and authourial film of the year! He poured ten years of work into that genius of an idea and not only delivered but more than exceeded any preconception of how good it would be. Shocking. I think however Aronofsky is equally deserving of such high praise, you can tell from all the reviews and trailer that Black Swan is a well-directed piece. I also think Fincher and the Coen’s are in with a shout. Fincher especially. Also I know I haven’t posted this category on here, but if Aaron Sorkin doesn’t win for the screenplay, man, I’ll be angry. That script was delicious. I just can’t comprehend how something as mind-boggingly spectacular as Inception can be bested by The King’s Speech. I will concede however that this is another strong category and overall the Academy have got it just about right.

Cannot wait for the 27th of February 😀

THE DEFINITIVE LIST

Not sure why the other post went so weird, I failed at uploading trailers and the font went all wrong. But on a more positive note I have decided after all this time to put together, if possible, my list of top 25 films of all time: in order. Its a pretty mammonth task and 10 sounds neater, but I think that would make the job more difficult.
So here goes.

1. Titanic

This part was easy. I have gotten more than a little flack for liking this film and I admit it has its flaws. The characters are caricatures, the bad guys have no redeeming features and the good guys are a little too perfect and I do find the plot a little annoying; like when Jack and Rose keep getting forced back into the flooded decks. However, no-one can deny that the sheer scale and beauty of this film deserve some recognition. Cameron’s attention to detail is flawless and the cinematography is brilliant. I especially like the shot when Jack and Rose go below decks and the sash of her dress blows past the fire and steam in slo-mo, as well as the shot of the sinking ship from one of the rescue boats far out from sea where the silence cuts dramatically after all the screaming. I fall for the love story everytime and always end in tears. It is in my opinion a classic.

2. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

The script is probably the best ever. And you can’t beat Robert Redford and Paul Newman.

3. The Sting

Quite simply: they don’t make them like they used to.

4. The Philadelphia Story

Brilliant cast, brilliant script.

5. 12 Angry Men

Its simplicity is what makes it so special.

6. Forrest Gump

Tom Hanks is flawless. It’s a little cheesy, but epic all the same.

7. The Shawshank Redemption

Morgan Freeman’s voiceover, the opera scene, Brooks, standing in the rain. Just a few of the reasons I love this film.

8. L.A. Confidential

So clever, one of the few films where I’ve wanted to watch it straight after seeing it for the first time.

9. American History X

Loved the cinematopgrahy and how powerful it is. This just resonated with me.

10. The Godfather

The definitive gangser movie.

11. The Godfather Part 2

As good as its predecessor.

12. Field of Dreams

Heartwarming, emotional and visually stunning.

13. Kramer vs. Kramer

The second film I always cry at. Dustin Hoffman is a genius and the little kid in it is really good as well.

14. Road to Perdition

Mise-en-scene and cinematography is perhaps the best I’ve seen. Quality filmmaking.

15. When Harry Met Sally

Hilarious. You can’t beat the orgasm at the diner scene.

16. American Beauty

I heart Kevin Spacey. Beautiful, though-provoking and another great screenplay. Love the asparagus scene.

17. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

A Jim Carrey film I don’t hate!! Original, clever, tender and funny, what more do you want from a movie.

18. Dial M for Murder

Not Hitchcock’s best movie, but my personal favourite. The scissors!!!!

19. The Social Network

The most recent entry on this list. Aaron Sorkin’s script is brilliant as is Fincher’s directing. Came out of the cinema just thinking ‘damn that was good’.

20. The Lives of Others

The ideology and meaning behind the film is what captivated me most. Brilliant ending and an overall mesmerising film.

21. Crash

Loved the intertwining narrative, enthralling and well-acted.

22. Juno

Quirkiness at its best. So many good lines.

23. Lucky Number Slevin

A real surprise, it keeps you guessing and its very cool.

24. I’m Not There

Wow. Not for everyone, but I found it so heartbreaking and visually striking. Plus it has Bob Dylan music throughout.

25. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

I just love the Twist and Shout scene.

Films that were also considered:

Brokeback Mountain
Leon
Inception
His Girl Friday
The Departed
The Breakfast Club
Reservoir Dogs
Jurassic Park
Jaws
Day of the Jackal
Atonement

and probably lots more I didn’t have the time to remember…

Movies I’m most excited about for 2011.

1. Never Let Me Go

Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan AND Andrew Garfield. Enough Said.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXiRZhDEo8A



2. Country Strong

Now hear me out, I too was a little skeptical when first seeing the trailer, this is after all a Gwyneth Paltrow film and to be honest I haven’t like her since THAT Oscar speech, but her voice in this is pretty good and I do like a good bit of country; as long as it’s not too much like Jeff Bridges recent turn as redeemed alcoholic in ‘Crazy Heart’ it has potential; not that I didn’t like that film but it would be a little generic to rip it off only a year after it came out. Gwynie is also starring in an episode of Glee this series if you want a preview of her vocal talents.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90MdsHIk6po

3. Your Highness

The script sounds hilarious and it has James Franco in it. I’m sold.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FplWxtPzWY8

4. We Need To Talk About Kevin

The book is brilliant, superbly written and very though provoking, so the film has a lot to live up to and because of the depth of the novel it seems unlikely that everything will be included, however its starring Tilda Swinton who often gives classy performances, especially as quite haughty women and I’m just very curious as to how its going to work.

5. Jane Eyre

From what I’ve read the director… Cary something is very intent on staying true to the novel and allowing its Gothic flair to resonate, so this sounds promising. The trailer certainly looks impressive.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8J6Cjn06kA

6. One Day

Read this book in about two days, so realistic and absorbing. I’m not Anne Hathaway’s biggest fan, but I am a little bit in love with Jim Sturgess and it’s directed by Lone ‘An Education’ Scherfig, so it can’t be all bad. The press released photos also look like they depict chapters from the book accurately. Really excited for this one.





7. Contagion

If you have seen the cast for this then you’ll understand why I can’t wait for this. If not, here’s just a few: Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard, Gwyneth Paltrow. Plus its directed by Steven Soderbergh and his pairings with Damon have been very solid previously.

8. Source Code

Really excited about Duncan Jones’ follow-up to Moon, though if he follows in the footsteps of Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (no that wasn’t written from memory) who crashed and burned with ‘The Tourist’ after the Oscar winning ‘The Lives of Others’, then we might not be in for the treat that I think we are. The plot looks intriguing and at the moment anything with Jake Gyllenhaal looks enticing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkTrG-gpIzE

9. Water for Elephants

Reese Witherspoon has pretty much gone down in my esteem since ‘Walk the Line’, I think she peaked after that Oscar and I detest Robert Pattison, however the screenplay is written by the same fellow who penned ‘The Horse Whisperer’ and ‘The Bridges of Madison County’, this combined with director Francis Lawrence’s track record which includes high octane blockbusters such as ‘I am legend’ and ‘Constantine’ should be an interesting combination and if all else fails Christoph Waltz is back playing a bad guy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1tvIB49OOI