If you’re a movie fan, you know tonight is the Oscars, when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences announces what it believes to have been the best movie in 2010 (along with a bunch of other awards). The Best Picture award is usually controversial (I’m looking at you, Titanic and Avatar), and what doesn’t even get a nod is often as interesting as what wins (shout-outs to The Dark Knight!). I love the Oscars because they’re a great glimpse into the Zeitgeist, a window into where our culture is.

With that in mind, I want to explore the 10 movies up for Best Picture and talk about which I think should’ve taken home the trophy (I’m writing this on Sunday at 6:00 pm, but it won’t go live until Monday at 10:00 am. By then, I have no doubt that King’s Speech will have already taken home the grand prize). Here are the 10 nominees, linked to my reviews.

  1. 127 Hours
  2. Black Swan
  3. Inception
  4. The Fighter
  5. The Kids are All Right
  6. The King’s Speech
  7. The Social Network
  8. Toy Story 3
  9. True Grit
  10. Winter’s Bone

Image from www.explodingdog.comThe overwhelming theme in the films this year is growing up. Over half of the films (127 Hours, Black Swan, Inception, Toy Story 3, True Grit and Winter’s Bone) all discuss the process not of getting older, but of maturing. What it costs us to step into adulthood. They uniformly recognize that growing up costs you something, that the innocence of childhood is wonderful in its way, but cannot survive, cannot endure in our world.

The films don’t all treat childhood with the same reverence – Toy Story 3 obviously deeply loves childhood and mourns its passing, while True Grit and Winter’s Bone are more ambivalent. Inception and Black Swan see innocence as a dangerous illusion from which we need to wake.

I’d love to see almost any of those films take home the Oscar, but the film that we needed to win was 127 Hours. In a world that’s increasingly disconnected and fragmented (something The Social Network captured admirably but failed offer any solutions to), we need to go on Aron Ralston’s journey of rebirth. We need to see that living a life that refuses to acknowledge our need for other people is ultimately destructive. We need to see that growing up means that we need each other.

We needed 127 Hours to win this year. But it didn’t.
And neither did any of the other films dealing with the price of growing up.

I couldn't resist this homage to the greatest of all scheme-busters in cinematic history. A poingnat reminder if ever there was such a thing of the fate of the best laid plans of mice and men...More and more, I’m beginning to believe that’s because, at the end of the day, we’re a culture that doesn’t like to see our own reflection, and we don’t want to change. We’re immature and we want to revel in our childishness. We don’t want to be confronted with the high cost of growing up and living as adults in an adult world.

We’d rather give the award to a movie that says ‘You’re okay just the way you are. Anything bad that’s happened to you was someone else’s fault.’

That’s why The King’s Speech won. But I’ll save that rant for a more nuanced post. In the meantime, go see 127 Hours. Or Black Swan or True Grit or Toy Story 3 (if you haven’t seen that movie yet, you missed one of the all-around motion picture gems of all time).

Go see those films and take a minute to reflect on how you’ve matured. What it’s cost you. And how far you have to go.

What do you think? Did The King’s Speech deserve to win? If not, what did and why?

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