Counting Down to the Academy Awards: 127 Hours

18 Feb

I love the Academy Awards. I completely, unabashedly, and over-enthusiastically love the Academy Awards. Sure, you can say it’s a Hollywood circle jerk where rich, pretty people praise other rich, pretty people for doing their job. It’s like if Borders went bankrupt because they blew millions of dollars on a night where their cashiers gave each other awards for handing out the correct change. It’s a ridiculous and unnecessary spectacle but I love ridiculous and unnecessary spectacles! I love movies! I love celebrities! I love getting drunk on a Sunday night while watching an award show! But most importantly? I love loudly and incessantly sharing my opinions on the Academy Awards with everyone for the two weeks (months) leading up to the actual show. Listen, if I’m going to be in debt for the rest of my life because I made the silly decision to study movies in college, then I’m sure as hell going to pretend that those four years turned me into a film expert who is qualified to force my stupid opinions on the unsuspecting (and unwanting) e-public.

So let’s talk about movies! Starting with 127 Hours!

127 Hours tells the true story of Aron Ralston, the mountain climber who got trapped under a boulder for 127 hours (surprise!). I didn’t think I was going to hate the film because it’s directed by Danny Boyle (see also: everything else perfect) and stars James Franco (who, despite being crazy, is still so nice to look at — and talented). But I also didn’t think I’d love the film because, well, it’s about a dude trapped under a boulder and I just don’t have the attention span for that sort of stuff, y’know?

But it’s SO GOOD, YOU GUYS. It starts off a little stupid — Franco riding a bike and climbing things and swimming around with some gals and generally being so obnoxiously energetic that it’s like he can tell you are watching this movie on your computer while sitting on your bed and chasing a pound of chocolate chip cookies with malt liquor. He just wants to taunt you. Seriously, by the time he gets his arm stuck you’re like “YEAH, FUCK YOU RALSTON! LOOK AT ME, SAFE IN MY BED OF COOKIE CRUMBS!” through a mouthful of crappy food. There are the requisite lens flares (did you not reach your quota in Sunshine, Danny? Can I call you Danny?) and weird iMovie-esque wipes (I don’t want to talk about it) but it all sort of feels like a prequel — especially since the opening title doesn’t even appear until fifteen minutes in.

And fifteen minutes is when Boyle finally comes out to play! Boyle’s a fantastic director, in just about every genre (he devastates in Trainspotting, terrifies in Sunshine, uplifts in Millions, and combines everything in Slumdog Millionaire). The key to 127 Hours is making you feel just as claustrophobic as Ralston felt while under the boulder without boring you. Fortunately (?) dehydration leads to hallucinations, so we get scenes of Ralston’s life with family and friends.

The best part about the movie is that it’s a reminder Franco is a good actor! He is a bad author and an annoying overachiever but such a good actor! Plus he seems like he would be fun to hang out with, if you can get him drunk enough to stop talking about his “art” and start talking about his tongue inside of your mouth. That’s besides the point. Anyway, he totally kills it in this movie and is constantly engaging, which is perfect considering he’s in every scene of the movie. Plus, Ralston understandably loses his mind while trapped and Franco’s pretty much the best person to portray charismatic yet batshit insane. There are some great scenes where he talks to a camera and Franco seamlessly goes back and forth between humorously parodying the morning talk show format to reprimanding himself for not telling anyone that he was going hiking to devastatingly talking about not returning his mother’s phone calls. There are scenes about his family, the necessary girl that got away, dissipating hope for the future, etc. It starts to break your heart a little bit and then DUDE TOTALLY CUTS OFF HIS OWN ARM WITH A REALLY DULL KNIFE. SPOILER ALERT?! No, I’m pretty sure we all know that’s what happens. That whole scene is really well done, looks totally believable, but somehow not as nauseating as I thought it would be (the scene took a while so I paused to eat a burger, WHOOPS).

Anyway, 127 Hours is nominated for six Academy Awards:

  • Actor in a Leading Role. If Franco is going to ever win an Oscar and if 127 Hours is going to get anything then it should definitely be this. He won’t, unfortunately, but it’s really nice to daydream about especially because he’d probably give the best acceptance speech out of all of the nominees.
  • Film Editing. I’m torn between this and The Social Network, which will probably win although editing in 127 Hours is SO important.
  • Music (Original Score). I don’t remember this score? but TRENT REZNOR or BUST for TSN just so we can forever say “Oscar Award Winner Trent Reznor.”
  • Music (Original Song). Again, can’t remember but ANYONE BUT COUNTRY STRONG is the new ANYONE BUT BUSH.
  • Writing (Adapted Screenplay). I’m quickly showing that a lot of my loyalties lay with The Social Network but most of the why 127 Hours is great is based on a) visuals and b) Franco’s performance, not so much the writing. It’s engaging, sure, but it’s not really in the league as the other films nominated. Although the book this is based on is titled Between a Rock and a Hard Place and we should award Ralston an award for appropriate use of humor in terms of tragedy.

(disclaimer: it’s possible that I barely attended any classes while in college and therefore am not a film expert in any way.)

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