Black Swan Leads 2010 Critics Choice Nominations

Black Swan received 12 Critics Choice

Another day, more nominations and awards announcements. The New York Film Critics Circle is currently voting. Will they pick The Social Network like every other critics group?

Black Swan, meanwhile, received a record 12 nominations from the Broadcast Film Critics Association. True Grit and The King’s Speech received 11 nominations each, Inception received 10 and The Social Network received nine.

What is worth mentioning here is that The Kids Are All Right was nominated in four categories (Actress, Actor, Ensemble, and Original Screenplay) but not for Best Picture. Julianne Moore (The Kids Are All Right) and Tilda Swinton (I Am Love) are also noticeably absent from the nominations.  And despite its two lead actors being nominated, Blue Valentine did not receive a Best Picture nomination.

Like practically every other critics group, the BFCA is a decent predictor of the Academy Awards. The complete list of nominations is available here. The Critics Choice Awards are January 14 on VH1.

127 Hours
Black Swan
The Fighter
The King’s Speech
The Social Network
The Town
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter’s Bone

Jeff Bridges — True Grit
Robert Duvall — Get Low
Jesse Eisenberg — The Social Network
Colin Firth — The King’s Speech
James Franco — 127 Hours
Ryan Gosling — Blue Valentine

Annette Bening — The Kids Are All Right
Nicole Kidman — Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence — Winter’s Bone
Natalie Portman — Black Swan
Noomi Rapace — The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Michelle Williams — Blue Valentine

Christian Bale — The Fighter
Andrew Garfield — The Social Network
Jeremy Renner — The Town
Sam Rockwell — Conviction
Mark Ruffalo — The Kids Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush — The King’s Speech

Amy Adams — The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter — The King’s Speech
Mila Kunis — Black Swan
Melissa Leo — The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld — True Grit
Jacki Weaver — Animal Kingdom

Elle Fanning — Somewhere
Jennifer Lawrence — Winter’s Bone
Chloe Grace Moretz — Let Me In
Chloe Grace Moretz — Kick-Ass
Kodi Smit-McPhee — Let Me In
Hailee Steinfeld — True Grit

The Fighter
The Kids Are All Right
The King’s Speech
The Social Network
The Town

Darren Aronofsky — Black Swan
Danny Boyle — 127 Hours
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen — True Grit
David Fincher — The Social Network
Tom Hooper — The King’s Speech
Christopher Nolan — Inception

Another Year — Mike Leigh
Black Swan — Mark Heyman and Andres Heinz and John McLaughlin
The Fighter — Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson (Story by Keith Dorrington & Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson)
Inception — Christopher Nolan
The Kids Are All Right — Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg
The King’s Speech — David Seidler

127 Hours — Simon Beaufoy and Danny Boyle
The Social Network — Aaron Sorkin
The Town — Ben Affleck, Peter Craig and Sheldon Turner
Toy Story 3 — Michael Arndt (Story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich)
True Grit — Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
Winter’s Bone — Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini

Despicable Me
How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
Toy Story 3

I Am Love
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Exit Through the Gift Shop
Inside Job
Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work
The Tillman Story
Waiting for Superman

Review: Black Swan (2010)

Black Swan begins with a dream. A dancer bathed in the light takes center stage and performs a haunting scene from Swan Lake that serves as a metaphor for the remainder of this Darren Aronofsky film.

The dreamer is Nina Sayers (played by Natalie Portman), a New York City ballerina. Nina meticulously strives for perfection in her technique and appearance, no matter the cost to her body or her sanity. When artistic director Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) plans a re-imagination of Swan Lake, Nina lands the role of the Swan Queen and replaces the aging prima ballerina Beth MacIntyre (Winona Ryder).

Nina perfectly encompasses the White Swan but it is the imperfect and sensual Black Swan that is harder for her to perform. This is because Nina is very much a child. She wakes in her childhood bedroom and lives under the gaze of her controlling mother (Barbara Hershey). She has never experienced love or sex or freedom. Her life is dictated by the rigorous demands of performance. When she begins a twisted real and unreal relationship with Lily (Mila Kunis), a tattooed dancer in the company, Nina discovers the darkest depths of her being.

Black Swan emphasizes the great lengths ballerinas go to perfect their craft. The female form is explored in all its stages from that of the young ingénue to the aged, wrinkled instructor. No trace of the dancer’s body is left unscathed or is not finely manicured. Aronofsky pays close attention to this detail. Shots of feet, legs, hands, arms, backs, torsos that are bloodied, broken, and beaten down beyond real repair brings a gritty realism to this psychological thriller.

Above all, it is the psychological demands of performance that drive Black Swan. The more Nina delves into the role, the more Thomas uses sex to direct her, the more the competitive nature of the craft eats away at Nina, the more Nina loses control. A constant use of mirrors and windows reflects Nina’s image and her weakening psychological state. At times, her reflection merges with Lily’s as she becomes more like this dancer and is pushed to the brink.

Nina’s battle is not with her mother, Thomas, or the other dancers. It is with her dark alter ego, the vision that haunts her in every mirror after every pirouette. At first she cannot handle or accept her alternative self; this self wants her to experience sex, drugs, frivolity. Her body breaks down; it begins to transform beyond her control.

Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan is one of the more visually stunning and thought-provoking films I have seen in recent memory. It is a film drenched in symbolism where the smallest details matter most. Portman and Kunis tackle the physically demanding roles of ballerinas with grace and apparent ease. Their performances are rich and haunting. Nothing more so than the final moments when Nina accepts her darker self as her true self, she becomes alive. She achieves the perfect performance and she breaks free.

Black Swan Opens to Record Numbers

Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan had an impressive debut weekend grossing $1,394,265 from just 18 theaters. This $77,459 per-theater-average set a new record for Fox Searchlight. IndieWIRE breaks down the weekend’s box office here.

I, for one, misjudged Black Swan‘s appeal. When my friend Ally and I ventured to Union Square to catch an afternoon screening, this is what we discovered:

Standing and staring at this screen, we weighed our options. We could either see a later screening, see The King’s Speech, or do something else entirely.

After seeing Harry Potter three times, Ally is a little maxed out on Helena Bonham Carter so we nixed see The King’s Speech. (For now. As one man, also in a similar predicament, told us, “It’s going to get a lot of nominations.”) Neither of us had the time to go to a later show so we settled for something else. Something free.

Riding aimlessly on the Staten Island Ferry? Not a bad alternative.

New Trailer For Black Swan: Enter Winona

The release of Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan tomorrow cannot come soon enough. As the hype surrounding this movie builds, Natalie Portman continues to be shortlisted as a potential Best Actress Oscar nominee.

Until then here is the latest trailer unveiled by Fox Searchlight. It is filled with additional footage not seen in the previous trailer, including some scenes of Winona Ryder’s Beth McIntyre, the ballerina who Portman’s Nina Sayers’ replaces.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Trailer Fix: Black Swan and The King’s Speech

I’m not going to make it to the movies this weekend, which is a bummer since The Milennium Triology is playing in Boston and I want to check out the films in a theater. (Even though I hate the books.)Instead, here are two upcoming releases that are definitely going to draw some interest this awards season: Darron Aronofsky’s Black Swan and Tom Hopper’s The King’s Speech.

In Black Swan, Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis play ballet dancers in a production of Swan Lake. Nina (Portman) is the White Swan and Lily (Kunis) is the Black Swan. These roles take over their lives as Nina begins to channel the darker aspects of her personality. The trailer, embedded below, is twisted and intriguing, which is exactly what I would expect from an Aronofsky production. The psychological thriller premiered at the Venice Film Festival, where it had a strong opening. Black Swan has been described the nightmarish aspects of The Red Shoes. I’m there.

Black Swan releases December 3.

The King’s Speech won the People’s Choice award at the Toronto Film Festival. Starring Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, and a non-Bellatrix Lestrange Helena Bonham Carter it is the kind of movie critcs love: a historical film drenched in the drama of the Royal Family. The film centers around King George VI’s ascension to the throne and the stammer he had to overcome. (Royals with problems! How endearing!) Firth plays George VI and Rush is Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue, who helped the future king overcome his stammer and successfully address the Australian parliament. Knowing Firth, Rush and Carter, the performances will hopefully be great fun to watch.

The King’s Speech releases November 26.