During this disappointing and downright disgusting golden globe season (I mean, The Tourist? REALLY? Inception? REALLY? BLACK SWAN? REALLY?) I’ve seen three films I’m going to bat for. One, Winter’s Bone, because it surprised the shit out of me. Two, The King’s Speech, because it met my reasonably high expectations. (I haven’t seen True Grit yet, but my expectations are equally high). Three, The Fighter, because it did a hat dance on the people who wanted to see C. Bale and Marky-Mark testosteroned out.
Winter’s Bone. Why isn’t this movie up for best picture? No star power? Too grim, post-Precious? What about this movie, other than it’s overly dramatic title, doesn’t capture the interest of Golden Globers? There’s some incredible writing here, story-telling with the hard edge of a gangster movie, a noir-ish dampness, a western-y showdown, and the sway of a documentary. There’s knotty family drama, great characters and little shimmerings of feminist critique. It’s jam-freaking-packed! There is nothing forgettable about this movie. It’s dark and odd and it sinks in days afterwards. Months later I’m still thinking: that was a brilliant film (and I hate, absolutely hate thrillers). If Jennifer Lawrence hadn’t gotten a nomination I would be rioting in the streets for this one. But she’s not the only good thing about this movie and everybody should recognize. Just look at the screen shot to the left… everything is happening at once!
The King’s Speech. While not as surprising as Winter’s Bone, it’s a tremendous feat. The actorliness of Firth and Rush is absolutely engaging. They’re just swinging up there. Firth’s face is like a tomato or a hamburger bun or maybe a pin cushion. He even wears the whipping boy on his chin. I’ve never seen that happen in an actor: chinliness. With all it’s tremblings and sputterings, Firth’s face goes from prince to king in this movie without missing a beat. As Paul would say: he was “superb.” And if your not looking at Firth’s face, you’re looking at the wallpaper, which plays a wonderful role in this film. Furniture too. And AV equipment. While tending toward austerity (& a wee bit too dramatic at times), the photography in the movie is something to see. But again, Firth’s face is the beginning and end.
The Fighter. Another movie Paul dragged me to and I’m so glad he did. I think I was expecting something akin to the period-ish, come-from-behindness of Crowe’s fighter movie (can’t remember name, help). And while the shell of the film’s in the underdog genre (insert Rocky music here), it veers off into the eccentricities of the fighter circuit and family dynamics. Bale is at his absolute squirreliest and really steals the show. Melissa Leo does her share of show-stealing as the opportunistic mother (%100 guts on camera). Wahlberg tones his performance way down (teetering on invisibility, actually) but I’m not sure he had any choice in the matter. The only low point was the love interest, Amy Adams (who I do like and watch because of Junebug). She just doesn’t quite shed the cheerleader in her to play a tough bartender girlfriend and there’s absolutely no chemistry between Wahlberg and Adams onscreen. But the script is fantastic and the execution/direction is very disciplined. My thumbs are up energetically.