Best Picture Profile: The Fighter

Directed by: David O. Russell

Written by: Scott Silver (screenplay), Paul Tamasy (story and screenplay),

Eric Johnson (story and screenplay), Keith Dorrington (story)

Company: Relativity Media

Runtime: 116 minutes

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The film is about Mickey Ward, an underdog boxing player, who has his drug-addicted trainer-brother Dicky Ecklund, and extroverted manager-mother Alice Ward, taking over her career. He is not doing that well because his brother always cause delays and troubles, and her mother cares more about her pride of having two boxers than actually handling his fights wisely.

Things change when her strong-willed yet passive bar girl Charlene comes to his life. With her principles mostly conflicting Alice’s, Charlene turned out to be an unpleasant person for the family. But Mickey started to think for himself. With Dicky being sent to jail, Mickey started to have a better career thanks to is new manager.

This enrages Alice, causing her whole family to go against what is happening between Charlene and Mickey. Mickey stands up for himself, and as Dicky is paroled, more troubles ensue just before Mickey’s biggest fight.

The screenplay is not the most original screenplay one could have. As you could have read, it’s almost the quintessential sports story, or boxing story for that matter (Rocky, anyone?). And it’s not quite a secret – it has a happy ending. So where is the difference? It’s on the characters. They are so three-dimensional, humane, believable,  and most of all, realistic. The characters, in a fast glimpse, may seem like they are stereotypical, but the intelligence lies on how the characters became fully rounded. Each has their own conflicts, has their imperfections, has their distinct qualities. And it’s quite thrilling when you see these characters exchange words that you know are so well-thought.

And I am really quite pleased to see that this film has humor in it. These are real people, and they get involved in realistic, but bitingly funny scenes. I like that a lot because the film did not try to take everything too seriously. Yet, it did not try to sensationalize the laughs because it knows the fact that this is a mature drama where humor is present, but not always. And how fun those words of wisdom from the  mother are!

Going to the film’s biggest asset aside from acting, the direction serves the material so well, raising the not-so-original material into a higher level of excellence. It gave life to the narrative by adding these very interesting choices in telling the story. It did not simply give us a boxing story. There is a distinct amount of uniqueness and dynamics in the story.

I hope I’m not the only one who thought that, but the direction actually made the film extraordinary. Sure, it has the sports genre thing in it, which makes it look predictable, and sure, you already know the story and the ending, for that matter, but when you actually watch the movie – you forget that. You simply throw any doubts in the film and you simply enjoy every bit of it.

The cinematography is something. It demonstrated a certain amount of naturalistic beauty. in many shots of the film. It’s not a show-off type of cinematography, but it added more life to the story. Actually, I thought the film would be dull, so I stayed away from this for the longest time. But watching the film, props for the cinematography, the visual part of the film just caught me by surprise. It found small details that may have seemed insignificant, but because the film took notice of that, the result is much more interesting.

The editing is simple, but definitely hypnotic in the least obvious way. Its skillful composition of scenes and elements is just wonderful – from the shots blended with perfect harmony with the sound and the music – the whole film simply resounded with energy. And I’m not yet talking about the boxing scenes. I’m just referring to those scenes of people exchanging lines, talking to each other. So how about the boxing scenes? Thrilling to watch all the way.

The film used a lot of pre-existing music that happened to be great choices. I mean, some of the songs here are definitely not of my taste if we are going to talk about the songs, per se, but when it was already used in the scenes in the film, they just added another layer of cinematic power in it. What is the song that played when Dicky was chased and Mickey’s hands got hit by a stick? It was a metallic rock song, and I never liked that kind of music, but it fit the scene so well. And who can question the great use of “How You Like Me Now” in the film’s most important scenes? So undeniably genius.

Also, the original music for the film cannot be discounted as of secondary importance.  Talk about power. The original music pieces in the film are distributed evenly throughout the film in those scenes where we should hear nothing but a faint echo from the minds of the characters. Putting that aside, my favorite score in the film is “Ladies’ Day Out”. This music plays when the Alice and the Sisters drive to Charlene’s house  for a confrontation. There is playfulness in it, but it never forgets the seriousness of it as a drama.

The costumes actually did a very good job in putting on the different shades on the facade of the characters, which is obviously, the costumes. You can easily identify the personality of the characters by simply looking at them, but the thing is, it’s not too obvious either. It’s just there to add a dimension on the characters.

And the make-up is mighty fine. The boxing injuries are believable, but it’s the Sister’s faces and hair that became the thing to watch out. These are seven sisters that should be unique from each other for them to feel necessary in the narrative flow.  With the make-up, all of them felt different from each other.

The acting is fantastic, no doubt.

Mark Wahlberg does not have the showiest character among the bunch, somewhat surprising for a lead role. He mostly steps backward for his other co-stars to shine and get the film’s bigger share of attention. But actually, it was a wise acting choice for him not to compete with the other’s attention. He keeps everything grounded and subtle, which definitely fits his character. He does a bit of a sacrifice, but it’s all worth it because it’s in is character.

I’m not the biggest fan of Christian Bale’s work here, but I admit that I intensely salute him for this immensely dedicated performance. It’s not in the weight loss where I refer my word “immensely dedicated”. It’s on how I feel when I watch every scene of Bale. You can feel the dedication from him as an actor, and yet, it also feels so effortless. I first thought that this is going to be a very showy performance, physicality aside, but it turned out to be a near-subtle performance. I like that.

Amy Adams plays Charlene, the boxer’s girlfriend, in a very smooth manner. It’s your typical Oscar character – the girlfriend – but Adams add a lot of layers in her role, filling it with nuanced complexities and well-judged purity. Her character is not a hypocrite, almost always on the edge, but she also has a time when she suppresses her feelings towards Micky, towards herself, and that’s where Adams really shine.  She need not a big scene for herself. All of her glory are in those exchanges with Wahlberg, with Bale, with Leo. And it’s also worth noticing that she fits the role so well, considering that this is against her usual work.

Coming in with a blazing, explosive, jaw-dropping creature is Melissa Leo as the mother lion of the family, Alice. There’s nothing that’s going to stop this strong force of nature Leo was able to bring to the movie. Her Alice takes no prisoners, just for the sake of her children, particularly her two sons, even if it sometimes causes their trouble.

Amidst of all the noises that she make, her love for her children felt sincere. And even if she causes a lot of trouble aside from Dicky, I still care for her. It’s such a very complicated character to play. Her Alice is extroverted, vocal, and over-the-top. And Leo acts Alice with the fact that she is over-the-top. Leo’s genius takes over the proceedings for her performance and the result is sheer actress magic.

The film’s is not original on paper, i can tell you that. But if you have such dazzling way to tell this story up to the point where everything seemed to be so new, then you have a masterfully made film. Filled with humor, drama, pathos, and intelligence, this film is definitely worth the time and the price.

For this, the movie gets:

What are your thoughts? Do you agree or not?

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Best Picture Profile: Inception

Directed by: Christopher Nolan

Written by: Christopher Nolan

Company: Warner Bros. Pictures, Legendary Pictures, Syncopy

Runtime: 148 minutes

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The film is about Dom Cobb, a man wanted for arrest in his home country because of his job, extraction, a job involving stealth where a person enters other person’s subconscious in his dreams. He wanted to go home, but because he is on the blacklist of passengers entering his home country, he cannot go home. An offer from Saito, a rich businessman who wanted to do inception in his business, forced him to do something that he did not really want to do, but he did, guaranteed that Saito will be in-charge of his return to home.

In this task, he is joined by Arthur, his partner, Ariadne, an architecture graduate, Eames, an associate, and Yusuf, the chemist. Their subject is Robert Fishcer, the heir of a business magnate who is having some issues with his father. To implement the plan, they subjected Robert and themselves to heavy sedation. In the execution of the job, some things go wrong, complicating things.

This is why movies are made.

The direction is as great as you can get. Christopher Nolan – what kind of brain does he have? He holds the whole film right from the start until the last second of with with such immense glory and pulling force that it is simply remarkable. You can see the intelligence through the display of  stunning bedazzlement that only a master filmmaker can do. It’s overwhelming, it’s astounding. The moviemaking process itself is a big mystical puzzle that Nolan was able to accomplish with the cinematic power that results to a majestic experience.

It was indeed an experience, an experience like no other. It was a rousing roller-coaster ride that brought filmmaking to new heights. It was able to push the boundary between reality and magic. And there is also the very wise usage in capturing the right pace for this movie. A lot of time in the first part was used for introductions and plot developments. It may seem tedious to go through in paper, but Nolan is a genius. He was able to sustain a dynamic stream that continues throughout the parts of development until we reach the action scenes where we see more of his directorial prowess.

And then come the final act of the film. It’s a breathtaking, earth-shattering part of the film where we all see the peak of the film. This part is unlike anything that I have ever seen before. It’s an indescribable part of this already unforgettable film, and this is where we just let the director take charge in all of the events that unfold.

The screenplay is as original as you can get. It’s almost flawless. You can say things about the characters being used as plot devices, but who cares? The story is puzzling, but when you rewatch it, the genius of the screenplay unfolds like magic. There is a big amount of complexity in it that you can’t get with just one time of watching. Truth be told, I watched this like four to seven times before I fully got this movie. And when you already understand the whole, you can only reckon the high level of intelligence contained in this movie. It’s mindblowing.

The cinematography was fantastic. Looking back, there were very few stylized shots in this film, but the function that it served in the film was indeed vital. It is quite noticeable that the film used a fair amount of handheld shots, quite unusual for a big movie like this. Anyway, putting  the big shots aside, the cinematography was able to bring the story and the characters closer to the audience. In this massive story of epic proportions, it is quite hard to channel these characters who are almost of second importance to the plot, but somehow, the angles, the shots, the colors, the shades, were able to actually absorb us to the film.

The editing is superb. When I watch the film, I know that I’m always into something that I should watch out. Even the simple exchange of words, there is the feeling that something is about to happen in about a few moments. There’s always this on-the-edge feeling throughout the film, and that’s mainly due to the film. The actions scenes are composed in a way that’s quite different than the normal action scenes from standard action films. The dramatic scenes never felt out-of-place, and always affecting. The final third act is the editing’s crowning glory, bringing all the skills that the editor has. By the end of the film, I felt that I went one big roller-coaster ride. And wow, was it that thrilling.

The sound must be heard to be believed. This may seem to be the least evident component of the filmmaking process, but in this film, it was so important. It created the world aside from the visuals. The whole move felt like you were really in the place, and that says a lot in a film like this. It’s as if you are inside this whole movie and it’s as exhilarating as movies can be. It’s so detailed, yet it never gets annoying. And how it gave emphasis to each sound but all of those still feel like it’s one, not separate from each other.

The musical score is GREAT! What could I say? Right from the start, it already was able to set the film to a higher degree of truth. You know you are up to something, but the music never abused itself to drown to film to its strong power. And with the start of the first action scene, what comes next is the film’s majestic prowess unleashed, adding a lot to the film’s already atmospheric milieu. The power of the music lies on the fact that it went so well with the visuals. It’s breathtaking, but it’s so because of the visuals.

Impeccable the production design is. There is nothing in everything that you see in the film that you may think is not well-thought of. The rooms present in the dream scenes are beautifully designed, but some very small details in it provide the air of surrealism in it. It could have been that it’s too beautiful, but it’s never obvious. It underlines every single thing that it wants to tell, bu the message it suggests is present. The different levels of dream give a big challenge on the designers because it should be defined from the other levels of dream. And with some of the most surprising sets (fortress, hallway), and knowing that they’re all real, I’m just impressed.

The visual effects are high class. There is no visual effect shot in the film that looked fake. None whatsoever. It’s so real. Of course, you know that the shot was CGI because you know it’s very much impossible to do (the glacial style of collapse of the buildings), but there are also shots where you expect that CGI will take over, but when you watch the process, it’s surprising that it was an on-set effect. Take the collapse of the fortress. I was pretty much sure that it was CGI, until I found out that it wasn’t. It’s just so confusing if you’re watching CGI or completely on-set effects. Either way, it was enchanting.

What do you have if you have a big ensemble cast with this high caliber of actors giving top-notch performances?

Leonardo DiCaprio is good and surprisingly touching as Dom Cobb. I felt for his confusions, for his desperation, for his affliction. Not to mention that the grief part of his performance is beautifully understated.

Cillian Murphy is heartbreaking as Robert Fischer, Jr. He’s got a lot of conflict in him, and he does not have the biggest amount of time to channel that to us, but in this one small bit of a performance, he was able to give us the film’s most touching scene – his farewell to his father. It just gave a sudden eruption of emotions from me. Anyway, moving on.

Marion Cotillard is excitingly dangerous as the film’s heart, Mal. There is this breeze of fatality whenever she appears on screen. She’s the most unpredictable of all the characters because she does not have a mind of her own. She is the product of Dom’s dark past. She can kill you with one sharp stare, but she can also break your heart with that same eye. And only a skillful actress like Cotillard could handle that tricky job.

Ellen Page – there’s nothing wrong with her, actually. I can’t see anything wrong with her performance. Actually, she was fine with her role. Not in the same caiber as Cotillard, but she did fine.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Michael Caine, Tom Berenger,  and Dileep Rao provide strong supporting work in their roles.

But in the end of the journey with this film, it’s Christopher Nolan. He is the star of this film, and all the praises of this film should be unto him. Without Nolan, this film’s nothing. This is his crown, and this year’s crown. When we look back at this year twenty years from now or so, we’ll still remember this film. I’m pretty much sure on that.

For this, the movie gets:

What are your thoughts? Do you agree or not?

Best Picture Profile: The Social Network

Directed by: David Fincher

Written by: Aaron Sorkin

Company: Columbia Pictures

Runtime: 120 minutes

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The film is about Mark Zuckerberg, a Harvard undergrad who created the social networking site Facebook.

It all started as Facemash, a polling site where Harvard students can vote between two ladies, depending on who they think is hotter. The spark that it caused in the administration caught the interest of the Winkevoss twins, also Harvard undergrads, who are planning to create their own social networking site, the Harvard Connections. They hired Zuckerberg to crate the site for them.

At the same time that he started to lose contact with the twins, Zuckerberg also started creating his own social networking site, TheFacebook. He did this with the help of his best friend, Eduardo Saverin. In the process of the expansion of the website, young net entrepreneur Sean Parker rides with them to further improve and propagate the website to more campuses. One of those changes is turning the website’s name to simply, ‘Facebook.’ Misunderstandings ensued as Facebook became bigger, causing Eduardo and Mark to break their friendship.

The events are told through the inter-weaved disposition scenes of Mark’s two lawsuits against the Winklevoss twins and against Eduardo.

This is a very intelligent film.

The direction… what could you say? It has a very interesting, though very technical subject matter, but the initial thought that I have is that it might fail in executing the story if it will just do things like in a good old-fashioned biopic style, though there’s nothing bad at it. It created a dynamic perspective on the story without letting go of the fact that it still has a straight path that it follows. It never sways on actually involving us in this story that might have been uninvolving. There is this big amount of precision int he scenes, on the way they were executed, but it did not even feel like it’s over-controlling, or let’s say, overdirected – far from that. The modern feel is also a plus, because it suits the story so much.

The screenplay is one of the best, ever. There is huge amount of skill in the dialogue. Right form the star, you can sense the over-all brilliance of it in creating the characters through the litlle and subtle shadings in the lines. And even if many lines are combated with speedy delivery, it did not tire my ears in trying to understand every word that the actors were saying because there is sense in what they are talking about. And the dialogue is of high intelligence, but it never felt unrealistic. And what’s the first scene that you remember when you think about the genius of the screenplay? The opening scene! Right from the start, it already blasts the screen with overwhelming knowledge and skill it has in creating the character background of the two people talking. And who can forget the disposition scenes? The camera is just still in its position in these scenes, but there is this very big tension because of the deft use and flow of words in the scenes. But it’s not just contained in those scenes. The power of the screenplay is evenly spread throughout the entire course of the film.

The editing brings  some of the crispiest cuts this year. There is so much energy in the way the scenes are all glued into one continuous flow of dialogue and images that strikes me as easily memorable. With sturdy direction and nimble screenplay, what you need to compose this two into this synchronized success is clever editing of the scenes. There are moments in the film where there is simply series of images overlapped by sharp lines from the screenplay and unsettling music, and the editing simply composes all of these elements into this telling of events done in a simple yet powerful fashion. But the parts where you can actually see the editing work, but not showing off in any way, are the disposition scenes when in some parts, the two cases go in a crisscross fashion. It’s a very complicated task to compress these two cases and make them interesting, and at the same time, entertaining. Or those simple scenes of dialogue – the editing propels each line to the next one without ever becoming exhausting to the senses.

The sound provides a very smooth blend between the aural elements of the movie. The way they type on the keyboard, the sound that the keyboard makes, there is rhythm in it. It’s not just sounds of people typing; there is this fine passage and beat in the way the keyboard sounded. Another example is the club scene – the music is so loud, but you can still hear the dialogue clear enough, but you can also experience the blast of music, but the lines are still so clear – it’s great sound work to cut things short. The importance of sound in creating the story in the film is that it created this air of being in the scenario. It’s different from the music creates, but there is harmony in the sounds. In every noise that you hear, there is a feeling of place. You know it’s not accidentally recorded; even the faintest sound from the movie added enough dimensions to make the story as real as possible.

If the sounds had harmony, the music filled the movie with emotional energy and atmospheric immersion.

What emotional energy? The music provoked the artistic wedding of the imagery and the psychological core of the story. There is the ‘youth’ feel in the music, but there is also this maturity that you get to experience only from the youth, and while the images strongly deliver it, the music hinges the effect of the scenes to bring it to a higher power of cinematic triumph. It was very particular in what it was trying to say, but the end product of the music is something words cannot express. The craft employed in the pieces of music used in the film provided the glimpse of the vast knowledge and understanding on the subject matter.

What atmospheric immersion? Right from the start, from the already-classic musical piece “Hand Covers Bruise”, as it plays over scenes of Mark while going back to his dormitory, the music already empowers the sequence with much more sense of tangibility and specificity in environment. It captures the air that breezes in every scene with a suitable and powerhouse soundtrack.

The costume design is so subtle yet so great. It defined these characters easily by the costumes – from Mark’s sweatshirt to Eduardo’s coat and polo to Sean’s shirt and jacket to Erica’s complete outfit. The production design, as subtle as the costume design, proves to be a visceral element in setting up the world located inside the soul of Facebook through the eyes of these characters. Everything goes in place to provide an impeccably designed world with so much complexities beneath each thing and each attire that we see in the film.

The ensemble in this film is composed by the actors who gave some of the best performances of the year.

Jesse Eisenberg is completely fantastico in the lead role that fits him so well, it’s almost unnoticeable acting. He definitely inhibits the character with such ease and timing, and even if you know Eisenberg shows his acting tics, it all worked for is performance. It’s a faultless performance that only a specific actor can play with almost no flaws. As I have said, Eisenberg is an actor with what you call these ‘acting tics’, these bits in a performance where you can feel a moment of beat or pulse from him. And it’s quite distracting to see actors having that, but not if it fits the role. Those tics defined Eisenberg’s unpredictably calculated, and it’s a compliment for me. Those golden line deliveries, those look in his eyes that are not seen from him before, the cold sensitivity that he brings to the table – Eisenberg is flawless.

In par with the high excellence of the previous performance is Andrew Garfield’s creation of Eduardo Saverin. In contrast to Eisenberg’s seamless calculation is Garfield’s careful observation of his character’s totality. There is this certain amount of amorousness strongly suggested beneath and on the surface of this character, and Garfield does it with full justice. Moreover, he takes it all to a higher degree of delicacy in terms of emotional content. There is no single moment where he faltered in the execution of what could have been a role so easy to be taken for granted by someone without the knowledge on channeling an emotionally complex role, but Garfield definitely earns his every second in the movie because he never lets you down in pulling to the core of his soul. And that is something only a capable actor can do. And with that, Garfield surely is one.

Another performance worthy of praise is Rooney Mara in a three-scene performance as Erica Albright, Zuckerberg’s ex-girlfriend. Disregarding the small time that she had in this film, it’s a stirring glimpse in a woman’s life. Mara nails every bit of her presence in the film with her honest exploration of this fascinating, if fictional, character while fully embracing the film’s intricately stylized screenplay. Her role could have been small in terms of quantity, but ht impact and the impression that she left in the rest of the film is undeniable great.

The rest of the cast did great, too.

Justin Timberlake is effective the slyly evil Sean Parker. You know that he’s cool and easy-easy in his life, and he manages to do it. He’s not someone I anticipate would do good as an actor, but he just gets the arc of the character so well.

Armie Hammer is good as the twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss. He’s the hardest to judge because I don’t know if I will still recognize his good acting when he is just used in face replacement, but rest assured, he completely managed to define the two characters in a very effective way.

Brenda Song, Douglas Urbanski, Rashida Jones, Denise Grayson, and definitely more – all of these actors created this world filled with cynicism covered with formality and glamor. Each actor created something unique, something different, something remarkable.

And all of these elements came to this fascinating examination of a multi-dimensional story that could have been so boring in paper but with all of these coming together in one synchronized and dynamic assembly of cinematic facets all in place with a common denominator – excellence.

For this, the movie gets:

What are your thoughts? Do you agree or not?

Best Picture Profile: The Kids Are All Right

Directed by: Lisa Cholodenko

Written by: Lisa Cholodenko, Stuart Blumberg

Company: Focus Features

Runtime: 106 minutes

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The film is about a lesbian couple, Jules and Nic, who must react smartly after their children, Joni and Laser, decided to meet their biological father and their moms’ sperm donor, Paul. Nic is quite irritated by the effects of Paul to her children. Little to her knowledge that her partner Jules is having a sexual affair with Paul.

Okay. I won’t keep things long. I’d be much more direct to the point this time.

The direction was good. It was able to set a pace compatible for the flow of events and emotions that the screenplay carries. The film never dragged. It was a story told with breezy pacing that you just cannot get uninvolved in the story because the direction was so intelligent that it keeps the viewers hooked even in the film’s lesser moments. It was also very gentle in handling the issues of the screenplay. It did not try to give a sudden rush or unnecessary burst of controversy to sprinkle some noise in the proceedings. No, it just tells the story straight and direct-to-the-point. No sugarcoating or glossing whatsoever – just the soul of the story. The direction directs the story with an ample amount of control and at the same time, freedom. And I’m telling you – the direction here is much better than of most indie films that you see. This is competent work. One scene that impresses me a lot is the scene where the two mothers confront Laser on a mistaken issue. It’s such a dangerous scene because there is a serious issue hanging on one end, and yet, they still have this joke running in that scene to cover, but the direction was able to gracefully balance the elements of filmmaking in that specific scene that it’s seriously one of the most hilarious scenes in recent memory.

The screenplay has a lesser achievement than the direction, but it does not mean that it’s bad – just not to special. Of course, it made some efforts to create some spark on the topical issue of artificial insemination and its effects on a family, but I didn’t care that much on it. What I root for in this screenplay are the ‘human scenes’ – those scenes presenting the characters not starting to raise an issue, but it’s those scenes where they already react to the scenario. It’s in those scenes where we see the best of the screenplay because it’s the scenes where we actually see the humanity and reality of these characters. They are not just written to react as the screenplay says, but they appear to be actually from real life.

Of course, there are moments when I didn’t care that much to what’s happening, and those scenes are the only weaknesses of the screenplay. Joni’s relationship with her perverted friend and her naive crush represents the least interesting segments of this multi-layered story. I understand that it was needed to humanize the character of Joni, but I think it could have been written better.

There’s no use in talking about the technical aspects of this film, but I’ll give a very quick run of ideas. Cinematography was nothing special. Editing was able to juice out the better parts of the film with firm control with those cuts. Sound is also good, but there are not so much to be said about it. Music was okay in setting the mood in every scene, though some music fragments left me indifferent. Costume was much better that you might think.

There you go. And it’s time for the acting.

Annette Bening is flawless as Nic. She plays the character with a perfect mix of toughness, superiority, and fragility, that it may look like an easy role to play, but actually, it’s not. Bening understood that Nic is not just a half in this lesbian couple – she is the guy. She is tough, and Bening’s signature style of acting totally fits her character. The frigid nature of the character in the start is a big challenge for Bening because she needs to be the most indifferent character in the film in terms of reception to the likable character of Paul, but he is the one we should depend on for almost the entirety of the film, and while watching, I came to a realization that she’s my favorite character in this film.

She perfectly keeps authority in the ground while she also presents a very approachable character. She is someone you think is kind, but she’s no nonsense. She would not let anything bad happen to her family. You can feel that, like she is the one holding this big shield to protect her family. She does not have much time to do this as the film as her screentime suggests, but Bening, with her intelligence, did not let that discount what she could do in this film.

What followed subtlety is intensity. Right from that moment when she becomes wary of Paul’s influence to her family, she panics because it’s her family. She owns every second of her screentime even if she’s not the real focus of the story, and not because she’s a scene-stealer, but her screen presence is so strong that she is so hard to ignore. Her best scenes came in pair – her silent return to the table after she finds out the truth, and the celebrated bathroom scene where she totally surrenders her guard for us to see an authentically heartbroken and betrayed person.

Julianne Moore is also good as Jules. She’s more feminine than Nic, but she never gives a false note in her toughness. She always rings true in her scenes, even in her scenes with Bening where we see that Bening clearly dominates it. She kinds of holds back when Bening is there, but she never stops from breathing in the life that her character needs. When she shares her scenes with Mark Ruffalo, they create a vibrant tandem together, and that’s mostly because of Moore. You can say things about the character, that it’s not that complicated compared to Bening’s character, bu tby raising the stakes of her character by continuously injecting sensitivity and passion to the role, she completely wears her character and projects a fearless interpretation of a character whose conflicts and confusions are so believable that she’s almost too realistic for cinema. What’s her best scene? Her monologue. The way she tries to keep herself , then in that one moment, she cannot take it anymore. It’s an intensely honest delivery form her that could easily go against the other best acted scenes this year.

Mia Wasikowska is a revelation here. First and foremost, her performance got the most dynamic reactions from me through the course of time.  When I first saw this film, I thought she was the least capable of the actors. Then I also thought she was annoying. Rewatching the film made me feel about her. All of those feeling that I had, they were just because Wasikowska is so in the character. Her character is struggling – doesn’t know when to hold back and when to let go, when to protect her rights as an adult, her confusion over her crush – all of these are played so well by Wasikowska.The way her insecurity and her pride sometimes causes the trouble in the family and how Wasikowska successfully carries it with the gentleness of youth and the angst of adulthood is purely golden.

Josh Hutcherson is very good as Laser. The awkwardness of the situations his character undergoes throughout the course of the film feels natural and raw. There is nothing that was able to hinder him from giving a natural performance. I also felt the honesty of innocence he has. He was not trying to sell this character by acting shy or whatsoever. He reinforces this whole structure of emotions inside him that it feels consistent in his character.

Mark Ruffalo is also good as Paul. The inner turmoil that his character experiences from trying to keep a youthful attitude even if aging comes his way is well done by Ruffalo. It’s not the most challenging role from the film, but he surely knows how to manipulate his character to create the different dimensions of Paul. As I have said, it is not the most challenging role, that’s why I am not that satisfied with it. So, what lacked in complexities in my perspective was filled with realistic characterizations, and that, for me, is because of Ruffalo’s effort to bring the character to life. His soft-voiced explanation to her employee /sex buddy that he wants to have a family is as realistic as middle-aged desperation can get. Not that I already experienced it, but you can feel his desire to have stability in his life, and that is not just having someone to sleep with when libido calls him, but he wants to have a family. It’s a sad scene because he finally admits his troubles in his lifestyle. And although I won’t personally give him a nomination, his capability to build this semi-tragic character out of almost nothing but charm is indeed a very good effort.

The film never tried to shy away from the realities of this kind of family. It has genuine heart and humor. The actors are definitely doing their best, and I can actually see that. Even then, there is almost nothing extraordinary about his. There is a bittersweet feel in the film that is hard to overcome because you actually get it. To sum things up, the film was effective, but not something that I would easily remember when time comes that this film will simply go down to history. Like Juno, it has problems in things to make this stand out. Still, I won’t discount the successes of this film in telling the story. It feels special because it’s humane, but remarkable? I’m thinking twice right now.

Before I give my final grade, let me just tell you the history of the grade of this movie for me.

When I first watched this film, which happens to be more or less a year ago already, I immediately thought of giving it a 5, given that it’s the first best picture nominee that I saw for this year. I was already about to give this a clear 5. And then I saw more, then I rewatched. Things have changed. I went to 4.5. Then I thought about it again, so I went for 3.5, thinking that this movie is mediocre, only raised by the actors. I rewatched this film again. Before I started writing for this post, I am very ready to give it a 4. As I am writing right now, I am thinking about giving it a 4.5. Wait….. I’m thinking of 4. Or should I go back to 5? No.

Seriously, the grade that you’ll see is almost randomly picked.

For this, the movie gets:

4

What are your thoughts? Do you agree or not?

INTRODUCTION – Best Motion Picture: 2010

Well, this was a very good year, I can tell you that right now. So, to start this year immediately, here are the nominees:

127 Hours

Black Swan

The Fighter

Inception

The Kids Are All RIght

The King’s Speech

The Social Network

Toy Story 3

True Grit

Winter’s Bone

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Would it be the survival biopic? Or the psychological supernatural horror? Or the boxing biopic? Or the mind-bending sci-fi? Or the dramedic indie? Or the British period piece biopic? Or the Facebook drama? Or the last installment of a beloved animated trilogy? Or the revenge Western action-drama? Or the suspense-mystery-drama indie?

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I know this year will be hard. That’s why I’m so excited!

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The system will be by lottery, and the last would be the Best Picture Winner, The King’s Speech.

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So, dear reader, would I go with the Academy? Or would I go with an another nominee?