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These past two weeks have seen me check off a number of films on my Oscar blitz list, all family dramas of (it turns out) escalating violence.

The first was The Kids Are All Right. I thought it was rather boring. If the central couple had been heterosexual, no one would have paid it any attention. Some might say that was the point, but that doesn’t make it a good film. An important one, maybe, but not one worthy of four Oscar nominations. I do think that Annette Bening gave a good performance though, and I would be perfectly fine with her winning.

Winter’s Bone takes the family drama up to the next level. It wasn’t a perfect film, but it was well done, with a real sense of place and foreboding. The atmosphere reminded me of Frozen River with Melissa Leo. Jennifer Lawrence is incredible as the oldest child of a more-than-deadbeat dad and invalid mother doing whatever she can to keep her family together and on their land. John Hawkes is strong (and creepy) as her uncle, but it’s Lawrence who keeps the film grounded. Even though I haven’t yet seen Rabbit Hole or Blue Valentine, I’m pretty sure that, if I were an Academy member, I would vote for her for Best Actress.

I’m still not sure what I think about Animal Kingdom. It was extremely disturbing and violent, but, at the same time, I found it fascinating. I think it was the dialogue; it felt very real. Like Winter’s Bone, it also focused on a not-quite adult trying to find his way in a world that is falling apart around him, but the star turn is definitely Jacki Weaver as the grandmother. Chilling. This film is worth watching for her alone.

On a lighter note, I also watched the street-art documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop, which was great fun, although I’m still not sure how much of it was true.

Next up, The Social Network!


*Best tagline ever for one of the worst movies ever, Jaws: The Revenge, which also produced one of the best actor quotes ever, from Michael Caine: “I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific!”

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