As the biggest night in the film industry approaches, six Film Analysis students cover the best picture nominees

The Social Network

By Erik Krause

The film The Social Network, directed by David Fincher, shows the dramatic beginnings of Facebook and its creator Mark Zuckerberg. The film puts Zuckerberg in a dim light as he creates Facebook in an attempt to objectify women, betrays on his friend, Eduardo Saverin, to make money, and basically steals the idea for the popular website. However, upon furtur examination, much of the film is largely a dramatization, chiefly Zuckerberg’s motives for the website. When looking at this film we must remember this movie does not claim to be a documentary and does not claim to present the entire truth.

On the merits of a classic movie drama, this film does not let down. The script is nearly flawless, with a constant flow of witty writing and occasionally charming visuals. The characters were well drawn with some great acting. But, on balance, some parts of the film were off-putting in regards to the character writing. Almost all of the characters presented in this drama were unlikable, which made it hard to relate to any of them, especially when the protagonist is an anti-hero who objectifies women.

The supporting character of Eduardo is seemingly good but weak and not given enough attention. In terms of acting: Andrew Garfield as Eduardo was phenomenal. However, I fail to see why Jesse Eisenberg has received so much critical acclaim for his acting in this movie. In footage of Eisenberg off screen, he acts almost exactly the same; this suggests he is not acting at all in this film, nearly just being himself as he recites a script. In the end I would give this film three out of five stars for its well-crafted screenplay and a few exceptional performances.

Inception

By Riley Sinclair

From the opening scene to the last, Inception delivers an incredible performance of action and thrill in a poster description of “mind bending” movie. Exploring the concept of dreams, director Christopher Nolan launches the viewer face first into the action in a manner that remains as clever as it is exciting. Leonardo DeCaprio stars as James Cobb, a dream extractor specialist who infiltrates the minds of wealthy busnessmen to extract secrets as a profession. Cobb was banned from ever returing home, but after a botched assignment, his target gives him an opportunity to good too refuse. A free pass home after completing one last job in which instead of extracting an idea, he is tasked to plant one.

Set out to face the impossible, DeCaprio teams up with Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Arthur and Ellen Page as Ariadne in an adventure like no other. Interestingly enough, at no point during the movie does a narrator or onscreen character stop to fill in the audience on everything that is happening. Even as theories or ideas are explained, there is always a ticking clock reminding the viewer that the action has yet to die down. It is also refreshing to watch an action movie with a coherent plot that is engaging as opposed to mindless fight scenes and explosions. There is a mind amount of thinking required, but Nolan has crafted it brilliantly so that predicting the next turn is impossible, yet you won’t get lost along the way. And if you are able to understan the whole plot in joust one viewing, then you deserve a medal.

The King’s Speech

By Kevin Bloomfield

Colin Firth gives a masterful performance in Tom Hooper’s 2010 hit The King’s Speech, a film centered on the overwhelming need of King George VI to overcome is debilitating speech impediment.

After troubles with conventional therapy methods involving smoking cigarettes and marbles being stuffed in one’s mouth, King George and his wife Princess Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) enlist the help of the unorthodox Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). Rush gives an Oscar worthy performance, capturing nearly all the scenes he is in while allowing the driving energy behind them to remain on Firth.

All in all The King’s Speech is an excellent film that brings home a simple message: even the most severe difficulties can be overcome with persistence and the support of loved ones. This is exemplified when King George is unable to put in the work necessary to overcome his impediment and his father is dismissive of his speech problem while his brother, King Edward VIII is downright mocking. However, Princess Elizabeth never wavers in her steadfast support of George VI, who is eventually able to give a speech informing Britons that they have entered the Second World War without a stutter or a stammer.

Black Swan

By Gus Dieker

Black Swan is a feverish nightmare fueled by what is arguably Natalie Portman’s finest performance to date.  Portman plays Nina Sayers, a ballerina living in a claustrophobic apartment with her overbearing mother.  She lands the leading role in her dance company’s “re-invention” of Swan Lake with an artistic director, Thomas (Vincent Cassel), who feels she possesses the self-control and innocence needed to play the Swan Queen, but lacks the sexuality and primal energy of the Black Queen.  He urges her to free herself in these ways, and when Nina encounters Lily (Mila Kunis), her eyes are opened to a party culture she’s never been a part of.  Her quest for perfection takes her wherever necessary, no matter how unpleasant.  Nina’s delusions become more intense and grotesque as her sanity slips away.

This film is designed to discomfort the audience, and will not sit well with those unwilling to suspend their disbelief.  Director Darren Aronofsky skillfully balances the film’s contrasting images of black with white, beautiful dancing with paranoid violence. Unlike Nina, Aronofsky isn’t hesitant to take risks for his art.

127 Hours

By Jinming Zhang

127 Hours, directed by Danny Boyle, is a film inspired by true events, turned into a powerful statement about surviving. The film tells a story of a mountain climber, Aron Ralston (James Franco) whose courage and strength motivate him to survive after a fallen boulder crashes on his arm and traps him in an isolated Utah canyon for 127 hours.

For over 5 days, Ralston reviews his relationships with his friends and family through flashbacks on the screen. The viewers not only visually witness the physically painful process Ralston goes through, but also explores Ralston’s psychological struggle with his mental world.

The story, which could have easily become another plain surviving tale on Discovery Channel, is brought into play to the greatest by Danny Boyle. After viewing the film, the audience will most likely find them asking themselves: how far will I go in order to survive?

Toy Story 3

By Patrick Stasek

Regardless of whether or not you have seen Disney Pixar’s Toy Story or Toy Story 2, you are in for a treat. Toy Story 3 is another Pixar comedy featuring the lovable toys of Andy, who is now well on his way to college. Dilemmas ensure as Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen) and the other cast of tinker-toys realize they will be left behind, no longer loved or played with by their owner.

Buzz and the gang seek another home as they realize they are no longer a necessity to their friend, Andy. Eventually the gang finds Sunny Side Daycare, a place where toys can be loved and played with all day. Lotso (Ned Beatty), a purple teddy bear in charge of the toys at Sunnyside, welcomes the toys in to stay.

Woody realizes the ugly truth behind the seemingly happy-go-lucky bear and his daycare after escaping to find Andy. Torn between finding his best friend, Andy and saving his fellow toys from the shackles of Sunnyside Daycare, Woody needs to make a decision.

Filled with laughs, cries and excitement, Toy Story 3 will offer a finale to a wonderful animated experience like none other. By the end of this film, we will understand how difficult it is for a child to separate with his or her toys.