There’s little I love more than the Oscars. It’s the one dinner party I can be counted on to throw every year, complete with betting pool. Even while living in Paris, I continued the tradition through a variety of strategies—one year having my cousin hook up a cable descrambler and staying up all night to watch live, and another year hosting a party the following night while holding a news embargo throughout the day. One of the great fringe benefits about now living on the West Coast is being able to have people over without being up until all hours of the night.
I generally try to see all the nominations in the major categories, but, as time goes on and I go out to fewer and fewer movies, my annual Oscar blitz becomes more and more difficult, especially now that the ceremony is a month earlier than it used to be. This year, I saw more foreign films in the theaters than usual, but not much else, although I did manage to catch both Leonardo DiCaprio movies (I swear that was not intentional). While Shutter Island is unlikely to get any nominations, at the very least, Inception should garner nods in art direction and music.
So that means netflixing The Social Network, The Kids Are All Right, and Winter’s Bone, and getting out to see The Fighter, The King’s Speech, True Grit, Blue Valentine, and eventually maybe Rabbit Hole. I’m boycotting 127 Hours on principle since I generally can’t watch any bodily incisions whatsoever, let alone one performed at the bottom of a canyon (which is why you’ll never hear me talk about any television shows set in hospitals, or those involving the initials C, S, or I).
This weekend I saw The Town and Black Swan. I enjoyed one a lot more than I thought I would and the other a lot less. The Town was a fun, if unexceptional, little film. I continue to be impressed by Jeremy Renner as well as Ben Affleck’s turn to directing—it will be interesting to see where he goes with it. Black Swan was a bit of a mess. The performances were great, but the story had more holes than the bodies in The Town. Of course, from the moment we were hit over the head with the “story” of the ballet, and that story was wrong, I knew it was going to be a difficult ride. And that was before all the self-mutilation. Not even Tchaikovsky can make up for that.
While I love Swan Lake as much as anyone, if you really want to watch a movie based around one of Tchaikovsky’s most technically demanding works to perform, I’d suggest instead the feel-good French film of the year (how often do I get to say that?), The Concert, based around the sublime Violin Concerto in D major and starring the equally sublime Mélanie Laurent, last seen on this side of the pond in Quentin Tarentino’s Inglourious Basterds.
In the meantime, any Oscar contenders you recommend? What are you going to see between now and February 27th?