Oscars Death Race: Four-film Weekend

Inspired by Tomato Nation and my own inner stupid overachieving pop culture glutton, I’m once again attempting to see all 2011 Oscar nominated films before the ceremony. Here’s how it’s going so far.

Ambitious? Absolutely. Ill-advised? Most definitely. Necessary? If I’m going to see ’em all by Feb. 27, then yes. I caught watched four movies in the span of 36 hours this weekend, and surprisingly, I managed to enjoy most of them.

#1: The Wolfman
I feel fully justified in not just advising but begging, unabashedly begging you not to watch this movie. I have tried and tried to think of something positive to say about it for this blog post, and I came up empty. Shlocky doesn’t even begin. Acting and writing were cringe-worthy, the set was overstylized to a very Disney effect, and most of the wolfmen’s makeup (which I assumed was cause for its nomination) was either laughably transparent or digitally enhanced. There’s a mildly funny wolfman-off at the end, which would be a spoiler if it weren’t so yawnably obvious. Otherwise, not much except cliches, spooky music and a whoooole lotta shoulderpads on Emily Blunt.

#2: The King’s Speech
I wish I’d seen this right after I decided to see it, when a friend’s rave review piqued my interest several weeks ago. Instead, I saw it yesterday, after hearing all kinds of hype from friends and blogs and, um, the Oscar committee. Don’t get me wrong, this was a great movie, with actors and a director who take characters who are maybe not all that sympathetic in a story that’s maybe not all that interesting on its own merits and make the audience root them on like they’re King George’s surrogate parents. You’ve heard about how great Colin Firth is; Helena Bonham Carter’s performance has been praised as well, but I think she’s still been underrated here for making an uppity royal broad so genuinely likable. Still, this one was a victim of the hype for me. I really liked it, but it didn’t knock my socks off.

#3: Exit Through the Gift Shop
I will admit that I was fully prepared to dislike this documentary. It seemed self-important and exaggerated in the beginning, and the more I watched Thierry Guetta, the more I disliked him. And I guess it’s that feeling that fuels the second half of the film for me, with his bizarre simultaneous rise to fame/crash-and-burn art show. It seems like spoilers shouldn’t apply here, because um, these things happened and were in the news, but I’ll stay vague just in case: slow start, complex, comic and thoughtful end. (Also, Guetta’s constant filming of himself kinda made me expect Slenderman to jump out at any moment, I’m just saying.)

#4: Tron: Legacy
Two words: Ooh, pretty. I didn’t see the original, and I’ve forgotten just about everything my dad taught me about computers back when any of it would have been relevant to my understanding of the details of the plot. Also, I was on my fourth movie of the weekend. So I had kind of hard time wrapping my brain around the whole “grid-and-portal” concept, not to mention understanding programs as characters you can bring back to the real world and, um, save it? Somehow? Whatever, what I was watching was so aesthetically interesting that I kinda just tuned out. Plot, acting, etc. is what I expected, which is to say standard action-epic fare, which is to say: tune-outtable. Things I could have done without: creepy young Jeff Bridges; Olivia Wilde playing not just an objectified woman but an actual object; at least one of the many fight/race/shoot’em’up scenes towards the end, because pretty only gets you so far. Oh, and this was nominated for Sound Editing, so, um, yay sound. (Look, it was Number Four. Give me a break.)

Death Race Tally: 10 seen, 46 to go.
Remaining films:

127 Hours
Alice in Wonderland
Animal Kingdom
Another Year
Barney’s Version
Biutiful
Black Swan
Blue Valentine
The Confession
Country Strong
The Crush
Day & Night
GasLand
God of Love
The Gruffalo
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows I
Hereafter
How To Train Your Dragon
I Am Love
The Illusionist
In A Better World
Incendies
Inside Job
Killing In The Name
Let’s Pollute
The Lost Thing
Madagascar, a Journey Diary
Na Wewe
Outside The Law
Poster Girl
Rabbit Hole
Restrepo
Salt
The Social Network
Strangers No More
Sun Come Up
Tangled
The Tempest
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Unstoppable
The Warriors of Qiugang
Waste Land
The Way Back
Winter’s Bone
Wish 143

 

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