Creative passions can lead to madness, sports can redeem, dreamscapes can illuminate, handicaps can be conquered and ‘friends’ can be found at the click of a mouse.
Aronofsky examines what happens when ballerinas go bad
Darren Aronofsky’s psychological horror film takes place in the ballet world, and like his last feature (“The Wrestler”), it looks at an aging performer needing to make one last push against time. One difference: Natalie Portman’s battered ballerina has never been to the top, and it’s this quest for perfection (and its heavy, emotional costs) that interests Aronofsky. Utilizing handheld cameras and reinventing a library of shock scare gags, “Black Swan” delivers and delights in high and low art in its own stab at immortality.
Powerful pugilism resonates in realistic Russell pic
Sports Illustrated called it the best sports movie of the past decade, and it’s hard to argue, though you could make a case that “The Fighter” is less about sports than it is about battling your way out of a toxic family history. Mark Wahlberg did the requisite training and is quite splendid in the film’s realistically staged fight scenes. But it’s the bouts outside the ring that provide the movie with its most electrifying triumphs.
Nolan’s dreamy pic had auds asking questions
“Wait a minute? Whose subconscious are we going into exactly?” Even if you weren’t exactly sure of the answer to Ellen Page’s question, it didn’t diminish the adrenaline rush that came from plunging into Christopher Nolan’s spectacle of ideas. Nolan remains a master at constructing elaborate puzzles and dazzling images and, though “Inception” arguably falls short of profound meaning, it does succeed in a way that few big-budget spectacles do these days — it demands its audience pay absolute attention.
“The King’s Speech”
Oz-Brit chemistry was a royal charmer
An old-fashioned crowd-pleaser — smart, sophisticated and superbly acted — “The King’s Speech” seems, at first glance, to fall into the tradition of movies about royalty. But there’s never been a portrait of a king quite like Colin Firth’s stirring take on George VI and his friendship with Lionel Logue, the man who helped him beat his stutter. Initially, it’s a battle of class and temperament, but, as the king’s reluctance gives way, Logue helps him find his true voice and a measure of heroism.
“The Social Network”
Fincher friends the Facebook story
No, it’s not about Facebook per se, though it does do a pretty thorough job in outlining, “Rashomon”-style, the founding of that immensely popular social network site. In telling the story of this start-up and the various double-crosses perpetrated along the way, director David Fincher and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin have crafted a tale of loyalty and betrayal that’s timeless, yes, but also timely in the way it examines how social media connects and distances its users.
Not since “Titanic” had so many speculated on the exhorbitant cost of a film before its release. Yet, like the famous sinking-ship story, the nearly three-hour “Avatar” proved more than a worthwhile investment for Twentieth Century Fox. At a budget of approximately $237 million, the James Cameron pic earned in the neighborhood of $2.7 billion globally — the all-time worldwide top earner. And not only did “Avatar” bring in the bucks, but the Globes awarded the film the best drama of the year. The win certainly surprised many who thought a motion-capture technology-based sci-fi film would have a difficult time defeating more “traditional” pics. What made the win even more intriguing was that not only did the pic beat out “The Hurt Locker,” but Cameron won the top director prize over his ex-wife, “Hurt Locker” helmer Kathryn Bigelow. While “Hurt Locker” had been out since summer, “Avatar” didn’t debut until Dec. 18 and was a late-charging entry. Many thought the Globes win by “Avatar” would help propel it to an Oscar triumph as well, but that was not the case. Both “Hurt Locker” and Bigelow, of course, triumphed at the Academy Awards a month later.
— Stuart Levine
No changes set for HFPA voting process | Feisty femme characters raise TV stakes
And the nominees are:
Drama | Comedy/Musical | Drama – Actor | Drama – Actress | Comedy – Actor | Comedy – Actress
Cecil B. DeMille Award: Robert De Niro
De Niro ranges from epics to Fokkers | Dangerous De Niro brought electricity to screen