Okay, today’s the day – we’re finally here. The Oscars. Movie Superbowl. I start watching at 4:00 pm because 7:00 to midnight just isn’t long enough. I downloaded the new Ipad app so I can watch behind the scenes as I watch in front of the curtain. Supposedly, I can move the camera angle. I’m not convinced this will actually add to the experience, or just annoy me, but we’ll see. So, I’m all set, except that I have a few more thoughts to share on Best Pic before the big event begins. So here goes…
First, I did finally see “Black Swan.” My husband and I started watching it in a hotel one night, but within 15 minutes, he retired to the next room to read. Not a good sign. Ballet just isn’t his thing (big surprise there), and dance drama involving young girls, wicked mothers, and Svengali types interests him nil (ditto). For me, a former dancer who ran a ballet company for a few years, it did not put me off, at least not immediately.
Suffice it to say, I have not changed my mind about “Black Swan.” It definitely does not merit Best Picture, and I have to admit that I do not think Natalie deserves Best Actress, either. As one friend pointed out, she was in nearly every frame of the movie, and that in itself is a feat. But I am not a fan (am I singular in this sentiment?), and I found this vehicle unconvincing.
What was it, exactly, about “Black Swan?” Perhaps the thoroughly worn through treatment of ballet – I could just hear all dancers and choreographers and ballet mistresses (and ballet mothers, for that matter), groaning as the predictable plot unfolded. Perhaps it was the too clever parallel between “real” life and “Swan Lake” that drove poor Natalie mad, and that was self-satisfied in revealing the modern meaning of this old story. Perhaps it was the girl-on-girl sex that was added to placate young male audiences, who surely were dragged to this movie by a girlfriend. Or perhaps it was all of this, wrapped up in a glistening white tutu, dabbed with bright red blood. The surreal was too much (webbed toes, feathers sprouting, knee joints backward bending); the real not real enough (not a chance she could have danced that last scene with a hole in her gut).
Second, I have to clear up some of what I said about “Winter’s Bone” (have you seen it yet? – if not, skip over this paragraph.) I did not mean that I wanted to see the film graphically play out the violence. What I meant is, that with all the buildup, the warnings, the nasty environs, I did not expect Reese to be saved by the very man everyone had been warning her about. Nor did I expect her to get off so lightly, with a beating that only left her lip a bit bloodied and from which she walked away. This didn’t add up for me. And her uncle (deftly played by John Hawkes) turns from pure sleaze to the meaning incarnate of avuncular, who helps her out, even at his own peril. I didn’t believe it.
I didn’t want graphic violence; I did want the storyline to go where the movie suggested it was going. I didn’t want a happy ending. I am not sure how it should have ended, but the way it did just seemed too pat. I think they probably would have lost the house. Or she would have had to leave for being too nosey. Or her uncle would have stayed the character he started out being. And the women who beat her would not have taken pity on her, and definitely wouldn’t have gone out of their way to help her as they did. And her friend with the unsavory boyfriend would never have gotten the truck, or would have paid for it dearly if she did. And on and on with the too-neat story turns. That’s what I meant.
And to repeat (not that I’m harping): “True Grit” was perfection. Not all the Coen Brothers films are, but this one was. Now maybe this “True Grit” resembled the first version too much (I can’t recall, I saw it so long ago), but I doubt it. I doubt that any John Wayne film would have even approached the subtlety of what the Coen Brothers did. And I find it hard to believe that I am including a western in the class of a best pic, but I just can’t think of anything wrong with this film. And that is, in itself, noteworthy.
Unfortunately, neither “Winter’s Bone” or “True Grit” will win – it looks like “King’s Speech” and “Social Network” are in a close race. Lordy. “Social Network?” Ridiculous. It’s a decently acted biopic, nothing more. If it’s between those two, then “King’s Speech” for sure. But really, how many times has that movie been made?
So, as usual, I am in disagreement with the Academy. But that’s okay. I still get to see the dresses.