Monday, February 28, 2011

Top 5 flicks from the back catalogues of today's Oscar nominees

'I live in Spain. Oscars are something that are on TV Sunday night. Basically, very late at night. You don't watch, you just read the news after who won or who lost. '
~ Javier Bardem

List by Danielle

I may not have seen most of this year's Oscar-nominated films - I might see one movie at the cinema every six months at the moment, if I'm very lucky, I swear it takes me that long to save up for the teeniest-weeniest popcorn and choc-top - but there are some great movie moments in the filmographies of the actors nominated this year. So instead of hocking an arm and a leg and going out to see the latest movies, I'm taking the chance to reacquaint myself with some old (and not so old) classics, courtesy of our DVD collection.

Honorable mentions I might have included if I'd actually seen them:
Brokeback Mountain (Michelle Williams, 2011 Best Actress nominee)
The Big Lebowski (Jeff Bridges, 2011 Best Actor nominee; Coen Brothers, 2011 Best Picture/Screenplay/Director/s)
Pineapple Express (James Franco, 2011 Best Actor nominee)

The others (Nicole Kidman, 2011 Best Actress nominee for 'Rabbit hole')
While waiting her husband's return from war, Grace and her two young children live an unusually isolated existence behind the locked doors and drawn curtains of a secluded island mansion. Then, after three mysterious servants arrive and it becomes chillingly clear that there is far more to this house than can be seen, Grace finds herself in a terrifying fight to save her children and keep her sanity.

A very effective ghost tale, and one of my favourite performances of Kidman's, making great use of her air of prissy self-containment. Lovely posture, too. A shame we don't have 'To die for', a portrait of an ambitious and totally amoral anchorwoman-wannabe (Kidman) - my other fave of hers.

The grifters (Annette Bening, 2011 Best Actress nominee for 'The kids are all right')
When small-time cheat Roy Dillon winds up in the hospital following an unsuccessful scam, it sets up a confrontation between his estranged mother Lilly and sexy girlfriend Myra. Both Lilly and Myra are ruthless confidence artists playing the con game in a league far above Roy...and always looking for their next victim! The question soon becomes who's conning who as Roy finds himself caught in a complicated web of passion and mistrust!
Martin Scorcese pits Annette Bening against Anjelica Huston, and poor John Cusack is DOOMED. One of my top 5 con artist movies, list to follow. Funny and awful. Annette Bening is great in this, though my favourite movie of hers - which, again, we don't have - is 'The siege'. Wow, look at all the exclamation marks in that synopsis, it almost looks like a Silhouette back cover!

No country for old men (Javier Bardem, 2011 Best Actor nominee for 'Biutiful'; 2011 Best Picture/screenplay/director nominees the Coen Brothers for 'True grit' )
Llewelyn Moss is a Vietnam vet who could use a break. One morning while hunting antelope, he spies several trucks surrounded by dead bodies. He decides to examine the site. He finds a case filled with $2 million and a truck loaded with heroin. Moss takes it with him, tells his wife he's going away for a while, and hits the road until he can determine his next move. On his the way from El Paso to the Mexican border, he discovers he's being followed by ex-special ops agent Chigurh. Chigurh's weapon of choice is a cattle gun, and he uses it on everyone who gets in his way. Just as Sheriff Bell, a World War II vet, is on Moss's trail, Chigurh's former colleague, Wells, is on his.
Javier Bardem is excellent in this fabulously dark Coen brothers film. His hair deserves an Oscar just on it's own for this, watch it if you don't believe me. A bowl-cut that is Evil personified. Seriously, though, a mesmerising perfomance and a great, grim adaptation of the novel by Cormac McCarthy.

The prestige (Christian Bale, 2011 Best Supporting Actor nominee for 'The fighter'; 2011 Best picture/Screenplay nominee, Christopher Nolan for 'Inception')
Set against the backdrop of turn-of-the-century London. Two magicians share an intense rivalry with each other and leads them on a life-long battle for supremacy. The rivalry is so intense that it will be full of obsession, deceit and jealousy, with both dangerous and deadly consequences. From the time that Robert Angier and Alfred Bordon first met, the two were competitors. However, their once friendly competition evolves into battle for each others trade secrets.
One of those twisy-turny movies that you need to see without finding out too much about it, although I thought the trailer used some clever misdirection to point me unknowingly in the way of the wrong conclusions. Christian Bale smoulders in this 'tale of the unexpected' as he and Hugh Jackman seek to dismantle each other piece by piece in an increasingly elaborate series of magical spectacles. Great cameos from David Bowie, Andy Serkis and Scarlett Johansson. Based on the novel by Christopher Priest.

Zombieland (Jesse Eisenberg, 2011 Best Actor nominee for 'The social network')
In a world that has become overrun with zombies, two men must figure out how to survive. Wimpy Columbus is afraid of his own shadow, while Tallahassee is the biggest, baddest, gun-toting zombie-slayer who ever lived. When they meet two sisters, Wichita and Little Rock, the four strike out for an amusement park that is said to be zombie-free. This mismatched group will have to rely on each other to survive, which could be worse than surrendering to the zombies.
Pure, silly and very messy fun. I first saw this at the 24 hour Movie Marathon, where the audience broke into loud and spontaneous applause as the credits opened. And they are *great* credits. It's a daft zombie movie, with a memorable turn from Woody Harrelson (also rockin' - briefly - in 'No country for old men'), but it's Jesse Eisenberg as the leading geek who gives the film it's heart. No bodily pun intended.

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