From Mary Burgan
The Academy Award presentations last Sunday evening gave movie viewers just what they expected. Although The King’s Speech didn’t win every award, it took best picture, leading actor, director, and screenplay, as predicted. But the other awards were shared with other good movies like The Fighter and Black Swan and The Social Network. I’ve checked my recent predictions for the big ones, and they were on the mark, mainly. Now, how can we see the nominees we missed?
Check out Mary’s pre-Oscar movie reviews; the list is at the bottom of this post.
Among films that were featured though not winners, Biutiful, is still in theaters around town. And West End has brought back Winter’s Bone. So has Avalon, which is also showing several other of the more famous nominees. E Street Cinema has the top winners as well, plus the heart-breaking Blue Valentine. So you can catch the top films in many places in the city, though you’ll have to get films that have left the theaters, like The Kids Are All Right, on DVD.
From Mary Burgan
Biutiful is one of the best films I’ve seen all year. Moreover, Javier Bardem as its main character deserves his Oscar nomination, and perhaps the statue itself, for his performance. The film is nominated for best foreign language film, and I would vote for it in that category, even though I’ve not had the chance to review the other nominees.
Alejandro González Iñárritu, its director, has created a mysterious and compelling world in Biutiful, one that bears comparison to the imagined worlds created by the three other master international filmmakers in my personal pantheon — Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini and Akira Kurosawa.
Earlier pre-Oscar 2011 reviews from Mary: The Town, Animal Kingdom: Crime Runs in the Family; Why You Should See Blue Valentine and Rabbit Hole; Grit and Bone: Oscar Nominates Strong Teen-Aged Girls; The King’s Speech an Oscar Picture for Colin Firth; Chasing the Oscar Buzz: Part 2 (The Fighter); and Chasing the Oscar Buzz: Part 1 (Toy Story and The Kids Are Alright).
Which is not to say that the film will please everyone. This is a “global” film, like Iñárritu’s Babel (2006), though it does not travel, as that film did, from Morocco to Mexico to Japan. Everything happens in Barcelona, but the inhabitants of that city’s poor neighborhoods come from around the world. The hero of Biutiful is a fundamentally decent man who makes a living by hustling odd jobs and drugs and making deals to exploit illegal workers from places like China, Africa, and Thailand — that host of “guest” workers who live on the margins of every great city.
From Mary Burgan.
There are two unexpected nominations in the Best Supporting Actor and Actress categories in this year’s list of Oscar-nominated actors.
One is for the role of a hothead foster brother to the hero in The Town — Ben Affleck’s film about a crime family in Boston’s Charlestown. The other is for the role of the sentimental matriarch in Animal Kingdom, a film by the new Australian film-maker, David Michôd, about a crime family in Melbourne.
Each offers some ripe roles for actors, but although both make occasional stabs at probing the sources of familial pathology, neither seems very interested in getting beneath the violence of the crime movie genre.
I don’t want to deny any hard-working actor his or her due, and the supporting actors nominated from each film do their jobs very well. However, I am not sure why Jeremy Renner of The Town or Jacki Weaver of Animal Kingdom should be singled out just for doing their bits in two movies that are so seriously flawed.
From Mary Burgan. Her movie column now runs weekly.
The front-runners in major contention for Oscars have now been named and the winners all but anointed. Natalie Portman for Black Swan and Colin Firth for The King’s Speech seem locked in.
And although the race for the best supporting actor category is more crowded, leading sentiment is that the male award should go to Christian Bale for his work in The Fighter while the female award should go to Melissa Leo for her work in the same film.
I like these choices, but there are significant nominees in more modest films that are less dependent on bravura performances by individuals than on ensemble efforts by unknown actors who carry their own roles unselfishly. I have canvassed almost all of them by now, and here I want to speak in favor of Blue Valentine and Rabbit Hole — two domestic dramas that contain some of the best acting I’ve seen all year. They deserve a viewing.
Mary Burgan is a retired professor of English and association executive. Her column now runs weekly and she will be reviewing current-run shows. You can contact Mary by email.
I am not an Anglophile, and the PBS “Masterpiece Theatre” productions tend to make me yawn, so I went to see The King’s Speech with a load of skepticism. Not another bow to the British grip on American media drama from me. But I admired Colin Firth’s Oscar-nominated acting in last year’s A Single Man, and that memory lifted my expectations, though the sedate audience in the line to buy tickets at the E Street theater did make me anxious. (I am, by the way, a senior citizen myself).
Well, The King’s Speech is a good movie, and I think Colin Firth ought to get an Academy Award for his work in it. Firth is wonderful at rendering the repressed pain of ordinary men, and it’s clear that George VI was an ordinary man pressed into extraordinary service as King of England during the rise of Hitler and the Third Reich.