I had seen a paltry number of 2010 films. Once the nomination period – SAG/Golden Globes/Academy Awards – starts, I tend to at least try to see a lot more of the movies that a) are still available in theaters and b) reviewed well. I’ve discovered in recent years, though, that a third criterion has crept into the movies, ones that c) won’t totally creep me out. For instance, despite the PG-13 rating, the True Grit remake reportedly contains surprisingly bloody bits of action and violence.
Whereas, The King’s Speech, which I saw with my wife on December 30 at the Spectrum Theatre for our monthly date, is rated R, but it is almost certainly based entirely on language, specifically the repeated use of the F-word, and other salty talk. But it is done in the context of the future King George VI of Britain dealing with his speaking issues, and not gratuitous. Considering that the storyline is both quite straightforward, and the context historically familiar – Mrs. Wallis Simpson is a pivotal character – it was amazingly affecting, in no small part due to great use of music. And funny; I’m talking LOL, in an intelligent manner. Colin Firth might receive another Oscar nomination, after last year’s A Simple Man. But I’d wager that Geoffrey Rush, who I first could identify in 1995’s Shine, will get a Best Supporting Actor nod.
Maybe the beginning of The Fighter, which I saw New Year’s Eve at the local Madison Theater (rated R for language throughout, drug content, sexuality, and some boxing violence) was really good; maybe. I found this dysfunctional family surrounding/suffocating boxer Micky Ward really irritating, especially the Greek chorus of sisters who must have been rejects from The Real Housewives of Lowell, Massachusetts. He also has a manipulative, guilt-tripping mother, Alice (Melissa Leo), and a “Glory Days” older brother/ex-boxer with a drug problem Dicky (Christian Bale), balanced only slightly by people such as girlfriend Charlene (Amy Adams). But there was a particular point – Led Zeppelin’s “Good Times, Bad Times” was playing, when the movie finally took off for me. I see why Leo, nominated a couple of years ago for Frozen River, and Bale is getting Oscar buzz.
Finally, finishing my trifecta, back to the Spectrum on New Years Day for The Social Network (rated PG-13). I thought I was the last person in the country to see this in the theater, but the packed, albeit small screening room belied that. Of the three, this one is the most…cinematic, makes the most use of the fact that’s it a movie, with various locales. Still, I really enjoyed the framing story of a deposition, from which the narrative flowed. Did Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) rip off the twins (played primarily by Armie Hammer) and his former partner Eduardo (Andrew Garfield)? I think possibly not, and absolutely, respectively. But it’s great storytelling by Aaron Sorkin that was most impressive. And a great last song! I wonder if Zuckerberg’s less-than-stellar image in this movie had anything to do with the real Mark donating a ton of money to the schools in Newark, NJ? That fact, the movie, and Facebook’s 500,000,000 member got Zuckerberg TIME Person of the Year honors for 2010.
So, I go to three movies in three days, all starting with the article The, and I hit on three stories all based, more or less, on actual events, in 1930s England, 1980s Massachusetts, and 2000s Massachusetts, watched, totally coincidentally, in chronological order. I suppose The King’s Speech was my favorite – STILL have that Beethoven piece stuck in my head – but they all were worthwhile.