Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Playing the Awards Season Game (More TOP Movie Picks from 2010)

Making your pick is tough (AND TIMELY) work sometimes!
I've developed a deep love for cinema since my childhood. I have a vivid imagination and found early on that movies gave my mind room to travel and showed me corners of the creative realm which I wouldn't have journeyed to without their stories and visions. Last December, I gave you my Top 10 Movie Picks of 2010. Click HERE to see the List and the brief reviews of each of my recommendations.

Being a movie buff, I annually look forward to the Awards Season at the end of the year where some studios make a timely release of a movie they've sat on for 13 months while others scramble to make the deadline to enter their new flick into the awards pool. The inherent flaw in this marketing escapade around the holidays is most of the general public loses out on seeing these films before the Golden Globes and Academy Awards actually take place.  For the most part, the winner of Best Picture is released in the last quarter of each year.  One of the few recent exceptions which comes to mind is Crash from 2006.  As an avid follower of the awards, I remembered thinking it was a shame the film got a Summer release because I felt it was a strong contender to take home an Oscar.  To my surprise, it shocked many people that year taking home the award over films like Brokeback Mountain and Good Night Good Luck.  Crash deserved the honor by far with its modern commentary on human compassion in the midst of racism but lacked the hype surrounding the other movies with their timely release.  A star-studded cast made the studio seek a more "blockbuster" release date with a summer weekend when in reality they had the sleeper hit of the year with the votes of the critics backing them in the end.  Alas, I'll never have my own say or control of movie studio politics but I will remain an avid viewer of cinema.

Last year, there were several movies I didn't get a chance to see before making my Top 10 Movie Picks of 2010.  I cited several of these following up with you, constant viewer on that post.  While movies like The Fighter garnered praise though awards hype (I found Christian Bale's supporting role the only solid part of the film,) others went straight to video without a cinematic chance in American Mainstream Hell.  Here are three which would have bumped somebody off the Top 10 of 2010 in a perfect world where I had the Golden Ticket access indulged by the Hollywood Critic.

13 (Directed by Gela Babluani)

Babluani's English-language debut is one of mastery and has an independent tone with a style which plays like a Christopher Nolan movie.  We'll have to look forward to more films from this director in the coming years and you'll have to find this gem on video since it barely made an indie circuit run here in the U.S.  Garnering talent for this film with the likes of two of my favorite actors, Mickey Rourke and Ray Winstone, was a big draw for me to lend my eyes and ears to the story.  By fate- Vince, the main character, delves into the underground world of a very dangerous game of chance as he assumes the identity of a dead man in the hopes of following a trail of fortune.  Aspirations of wealth lead him to the most desperate and dangerous game one could imagine- Russian roulette for profit.  As it goes with sports, the main motivation behind this society of promoters and quietly macabre gladiators is the vast amount of money at stake literally placed on the participants' heads.  An ensemble cast really delivers and drives this unique script into a delightfully depraved place where valor and circumstance reign supreme in the ultimate wager.

True Grit (Directed by The Coen Brothers)

Even with a range of direction in their movies, these guys have just never let me down.  While I don't consider Joel and Ethan Coen the very best Directors of our time, they are indeed the most consistent.  I for one was thrilled to regress with them back to the tone of their debut film, Blood Simple with two more recent adaptations of novels in No Country for Old Men as well as last year's gem, True Grit.  There is a common misconception that this film is a remake; nothing is further from the truth.  Adapting from the original book by Charles Portis, the audience takes a surreal journey with Rooster Cogburn through the American West.  Jeff Bridges will be the first to tell you he wasn't playing John Wayne, he was embodying the character directly from the source material of the author.  What seemed a strange creative choice for the film-making duo turned out to be a perfect fit with the original book's material providing the character-driven action which they thrive upon.  Again, the cast makes this film and even the smallest role leaves lasting memories as it goes with many of The Coen Brothers' creations.  The final scene of Cogburn taking up Mattie into his arms and running her to shelter like a warrior beyond exhaustion and running on pure instinct I feel is iconic and fully embodied the definition of True Grit.

Winter's Bone (Directed by Debra Granik)

My explanation above for spotlighting these movies really roots from me finally getting to watch Winter's Bone over the summer, a few month AFTER the Academy Awards.  I was absolutely floored by both the script and the acting.  Debra Granik's masterpiece WOULD have been my #1 Pick of 2010 having been given the chance to be part of an audience for what was a limited-release movie in US theaters.  With all the glitz, glamor and CG of movie-making today, there is so much to be said about a film like this.  Winter's Bone has a razor edge to it and left me speechless, especially in the final scenes of the movie where we finally find Ree's father and she horrifically does what she must in order to use his fate to her advantage in saving her family's home.

Make certain to drop back by in a couple of weeks for my Top 10 Movie Picks of 2011 (so far... LOL!)

How many times have you had to change your mind about the Best Movie of the Year?

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