Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Best Film of 2010

Catching you up with links to my rankings of all the 2010 Best Picture nominees:

The Introduction of William H. Dirkness

Ranking The Best Pictures: 8-10

Ranking The Best Pictures: 4-7

Ranking The Best Pictures: 2-3

1. Black Swan

Bam! The credits roll but paralysis has overtaken my body. The other people in attendance (after laughing through many of the scenes that made them squeamish or uncomfortable) are standing and leaving the theater. Meanwhile, I can't move. I can't even think. I will be the last one to leave the theater. By far. I feel like what I had just witnessed has changed me.

The sign of a great film can be traced to the emotional impact it has on you. I experienced an entire spectrum of emotions throughout Darren Aronofsky's best film to date (2. Requiem, 3. Wrestler). When I returned home, I scribbled down on a sticky note (my preferred way to record thoughts) the following words: Delusional, paranoid, confidence, created a monster, insecurities, sense of self, dark tones. My mind was so active afterwards that I could've written a Harvard dissertation on it, but instead chose to just scribble those seven notes down.

Black Swan hit me on such a personal level with what I felt was the heart of the film: Natalie Portman character's quest for perfection. I've always wrestled with the idea of perfection. It seems so boring. Without the proper perspective of losing, it just becomes ego feed (yes this is a sports rant, my specialty, but can be applied to other facets of life). Yet, so many people seek it, while really, if it's about anything, it's about the pursuit of it. The journey > final destination (A cool story: I wrote this preceding paragraph on a spiritual frolf outing before nearly missing a called ace on #5 at Shawnee Mission Park, which gets me to my next point...).

I'm afraid of perfection. I'm an avid bowler and disc golf player who has never shot 300 or thrown an ace, while numerous people of inferior skill have accomplished those feats, for just a few examples. I feel like I handle times of failure/sadness better than times of success/happiness, which is a weird concept. It's almost as if I sense the impeding upward/downward swing that follows (a result of keeping one eye on the future instead of two eyes on the present). In conclusion, I'm better from behind (as much of the local Asian population already knows) than I am in front.

Can you believe I've written 4 paragraphs on this film and haven't even discussed the hottest lesbian scene in movie history (waiting to be proven wrong)? In fact, I was so blown away by Black Swan that the carpet munching didn't even crack my ten favorite things about the film (but maybe it will on the second viewing). The transformation of Nina, both literally and metaphorically, from an innocent White Swan to an emotionally corrupted Black Swan is truly incendiary. Incendiary. The director, the most underrated character of the film, knows that he must shatter her purity in order for her to fully embrace the role of the Black Swan, which sets the metamorphosis in motion.

The process drives Nina to the brink of exhaustion, both physically and mentally, complete with delusions and paranoia, a manifestation created from her own intrinsic insecurities, with the audience left to decide what's real and what's not (Personally believe more of the scenes are her own illusions than most other people) - I theorize that every delusion is directly related to one of Nina's scratching episodes (ripping the hangnail back is absolutely terrifying and haunted me for the ensuing fortnight). Portman portrays the character so well, that just saying she should win the Oscar for Best Actress doesn't come close to expressing how I feel about her performance. The way most people are talking about Colin Firth's performance is how I felt about her achievement. It would be an absolute travesty if she didn't emerge victorious on Sunday night.

I know Black Swan doesn't have a chance of bringing home the Best Picture Oscar, but it fulfilled its destiny by snatching up one of nominations (the committee isn't ready to recognize a film of such complicated psychological depth). Plus, what it does get, is William H. Dirkness' first annual 'Best Movie of the Year' label. Furthermore, searching back a few years, Black Swan would classify as the most powerful and meaningful film to me since 2007's No Country For Old Men.

IMDB Nugget: SPOILER: There is a mirror or a reflective surface in nearly every shot of the film. The only noticeable place where there isn't one is when Nina is on stage, during the film's climax, performing the Black Swan, when her 'dark side' has taken over.

IMDB Double Dose: Nina Sayers: I was perfect...

I hope you all enjoyed my rankings of the 2010 Best Picture nominees, and hope that you gained something from atleast one of the films. Everybody enjoy the Academy Awards tomorrow night!

William H. Dirkness


The Leadoff Man said...

I have seen Aronofsky's magnum opus only twice, and no matter how much I can't wait to see it again I know that it'll be beneficial to my brain's health to give it a bit. I believe that I most likely shared the exact same open-jowled gaze that WHD had as the exquisite credits rolled til the very last thank you to Technicolor. I still appreciate my blazed-ness on first viewing and soberness upon second.. I emerged ghastly pale and speechless at the brilliance upon first viewing and I emerged confident and proud at its brilliance upon second. Aronofsky and his DP Matthew Libatique, ASC were the ones that got me truly into the art of filmmaking in the first place so their reuniting after the break they took for the Wrestler was beyond everything they had done with Pi, Requiem, and the Fountain and took all the best elements from each to form the majestic mayhem of Black Swan.

You already said everything needed about Portman's performance and character qualities, but dooode Mila Kunis has emerged as a fine actress (in addition to being a fine piece of ace). She's steadily entered the dramatic realm through Max Payne, Book of Eli(jah Johnson), and now this. Bravo to her and her perfect performance too.

WHD is the master at breaking down concepts and character analysis, so I'll give a lil shout out to ma man Libatique and his elegant, yet paranoid camerawork and lighting. No one in the world could've shot this any better in terms of mood and movement, hopefully he gets rewarded (up vs 3 of my other fav DPs!)

By the way I thought of anybody, WHD would be the one to give a holler at The Fountain! I called someone a coward the other day cuz they called it a mess, and I said they were scared like the French at Cannes to express their deepest human emotions as in how Hugh Jack the Man does throughout. Extremely underrated masterpiece.

Good article. Nice. Man.

Chris Cassler said...

Couldn't agree more with everything you just wrote. Easily my top movie of the year. I also was disappointed you didn't give props to The Fountain. This guy has it right. It is truly an underrated masterpiece.

His Dirkness said...

I really wasn't overly impressed with The Fountain. I enjoyed the visuals of it all, but it felt either sloppily put together or just way over my head. However, I think it might mean more to me via a second viewing, which I have yet to get around to. I'll let the world know what I think when that time does come.

Leadoff Man who you want to win that Cinematography category that you're sure to DVR and save for the grand finale??


Leadoff Man said...

Of course the Fountain seemed sloppily put together -- its budget was cut in half after Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett left the project cuz of "creative differences". Also, there's a graphic novel of sorts out there that has Aronofsky's original vision of it (like Southland Tales). Go watch it again WHD, it's easy to understand even with a momentous storyline, has incredible acting, and the ever-present epic cinematography. All elements that you know 'Nofsky excels in. 'Nuff said.

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