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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

February 14, 2011 at 10:38 AM

The Oscar countdown begins: “127 Hours”

(Best acceptance-speech comment this awards season thus far: Helena Bonham Carter, accepting her best supporting actress at the BAFTAs, “My underskirt’s got hitched up. This is not a good moment.” The speech was, take my word for it, adorable. Or don’t take my word for it; watch it here.)
And here we go, on a countdown of the ten best picture nominees. Let’s put numbers before letters and start with “127 Hours,” Danny Boyle’s follow-up to the multiple Oscar-winning “Slumdog Millionaire.” I actually like this movie far better than “Slumdog”; “127 Hours,” is, I think, the most purely uplifting and emotional of the ten nominees (for me, anyway). The final scenes, as Aron Ralston realizes that he’s surrounded by love even when alone, will stay with me probably more than any other movie moment of 2010. (And made me cry more than anything else this year, for the record.) It’s almost miraculous how Boyle achieved such resonance from the story of a guy cutting his own arm off. (Compared to this movie, making a pitch about a king who stutters or a guy who creates a website must have been child’s play.) Much as I would love to see this movie win best picture, I think it hasn’t got a chance: Too many people — which no doubt also means too many Oscar voters — just don’t want to watch a guy cutting his arm off. I didn’t want to watch it myself, but I’m so glad I did.
Total U.S. box office: $16.8 million, putting it near the bottom of the Best Picture list
Total Oscar nominations: Six, for best picture, adapted screenplay, actor (James Franco), score, song and editing.
Best chances for a win: Realistically, it probably won’t take any of these. Franco’s remarkable, but this is Colin Firth’s year; the screenplay’s terrific, but it’s Aaron Sorkin’s year, etc. Maybe the score (by A.R. Rahman) has a chance, if the voters decide to go with something more contemporary? But I’m guessing it’ll go home empty-handed.
Odds of this movie creating any fabulous Oscar-night weirdness: Well, I suspect Franco would give kind of a delightfully oddball Helena Bonham Carter-ish speech if he won (particularly since he’s the host of the show), but he’s not going to win. Boyle’s a charmer, but he’s not likely to get a chance to speak. The real Ralston may well show up, and could well be the only real-life character from a nominated film to do so (though maybe some of the “Fighter” clan might show?); let’s hope he gets some well-deserved applause.
Where I’d rank this movie among the Best Picture contenders: 3
And what do you think?

Put a tux on this guy, and there’s your Oscar host; James Franco, in “127 Hours.” (Photo credit: Chuck Zlotnick, copyright Fox Searchlight)

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