Sunday February 27th 2011
Just in case you haven’t been paying attention to all the broadsheet supplements this weekend, I might as well inform you that it’s the Oscars tonight. I’ll be live-tweeting the entire show at @ultraculture and also blogging throughout the night right here, so if you’re demented enough to still be up at 4am, why not check in?
In the meantime, here’s one last look at the nominees, in ascending order of brilliance:
10. 127 HOURS
It’s lucky for Danny Boyle that a handful of Academy voters can just about remember how much they liked Slumdog Millionaire back in 2008, because there’s no way this misconceived, gaudy, graceless lump of a movie was getting nominated on its own merits.
9. BLACK SWAN
‘Oh shit, Darren Aronofsky made all these great movies in the noughties and we were too busy giving Oscars to Paul Haggis to notice.’ ‘Never mind, we’ll just chuck a nomination his way for whatever he churns out next, even if it turns out to be a self-parodic, tedious mess.’
8. THE FIGHTER
It certainly felt like quite a bargain to get a two-hour boxing movie free when I bought a ticket to see that Christian Bale performance a few weeks back. But calling it the best movie of the year is a bit like giving the extras on the Toy Story 3 DVD a Palme D’Or.
Christopher Nolan finally got a chance to dent his impressive record with this cinematic equivalent of a maths textbook: 50% explanation, 50% application, negligible excitement. It didn’t even do us the courtesy of putting the answers at the end.
6. TRUE GRIT
This disappointingly MOR entry from the Brothers Coen is a long way from bad, but it also lacks their trademark rebelliousness. They, more than any other directors, will be feeling the benefit of the 10-nominee system, which all but guarantees them a yearly nod from this point forward.
5. THE KING’S SPEECH
Yes, it’ll win. No, it doesn’t deserve to. But at least this Britishiest of all British movies is among the better half of this year’s nominees. Cynical and formulaic yet undeniably involving, the Academy could certainly do worse than this unnecessary love-letter to the British Monarchy.
4. WINTER’S BONE
Oscar voters filled their ‘indie gem’ and ‘misery porn’ quotients at the same time with this satisfying but forgettable blend of the two. Like The Fighter, it’s largely a performance with a film draped over the top of it, but at least here we get a few tense showdowns as well.
3. TOY STORY 3
Great in isolation but disappointing in context, the conclusion of the fifteen-year Toy Story saga was last year’s foremost victim of Difficult Third Movie Syndrome. It had laughs, it had heart, it had mind-blowing animation, but admit it, something just wasn’t right.
2. THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT
It’s a sad state of affairs when my second favourite Oscar nominee is only my nineteenth favourite movie of last year. Still, it’s lovely to see this relatively humble movie get a look in, and you’re kidding yourself if you weren’t touched by the extraordinary wealth of acting talent on display.
1. THE SOCIAL NETWORK
The only movie on the list that anyone will be talking about in ten years time is so much better than its fellow nominees that it makes a mockery of the entire procedure. Bold, uncompromising and instantly absorbing, it’s quite literally Citizen Kane by comparison.