Friday, February 17, 2012

Pick O' the Week - February 17

The Academy Awards are two weeks away and the Oscar picture just became a whole lot clearer. The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) handed out their annual awards on Sunday, with Meryl Streep (Best Actress), Jean Dujardin (Best Actor), Octavia Spencer (The Help) and Christopher Plummer (Beginners) taking home trophies. The Artist is now the obvious frontrunner after winning BAFTA's top prize, and the director, Michel Hazanavicius, might have derailed Martin Scorsese's coronation as Best Director. But we have another fortnight to live in wild speculation. As with Marion Cotillard's undeserving 2007 Academy Award for Best Actress proves, anything is possible. (And yes, I am still bitter about Julie Christie's loss.)

As the BAFTA Awards have a very quiet following in North America, it was the Grammy Awards that took priority Sunday night. British songstress (and juggernaut) Adele became only the sixth musician to win music's three top prizes (Album of the Year, Song of the Year and Record of the Year) along with three lesser prizes (Pop Vocal Performance of the Year, Pop Album of the Year, and Short Form Music Video of the Year). Adele, recovering from vocal surgery last fall, amazed audiences with her return to the stage, performing her award-winning Rolling in the Deep. Adele is also debunking rumours that she is taking a five-year musical hiatus.

In Theatres: Last weekend Lynne Ramsay's powerful We Need to Talk About Kevin finally arrived in theatres. Tilda Swinton gives a flawless performance as a mother dealing with haunting memories of her son's childhood. Swinton is a peerless actor. I named We Need to Talk About Kevin my number one film of 2011 and Swinton's performance the best of the year. Read my review here.

At Home: My top film of 2010 is my At Home Pick O' the Week. Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan, set in the ultra-competitive world of ballet, features a career-defining performance from Natalie Portman, who deservedly won an Academy Award for Best Actress. The film is also a coming out for Mila Kunis, stepping out of the shadow of her television years. Black Swan is available for streaming on Netflix.

On TV: Keeping up with the trend, my favourite television series of 2011 is HBO's adaptation of Frank R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones. The complex story is handled quite well by the producers (including Martin), and the series is so captivating that even fantasy-challenged viewers like myself are completely in awe of the events on screen. If you have not watched the first season, be sure to check it out before season 2 airs April 1 - though the DVD will not be released until March 6!

Retro Re-watch: In 1997 Ang Lee directed The Ice Storm, based on Rick Moody's 1997 novel, about two families using alcohol and adultery to escape their lives in 1973 New England. This is the film that introduced me to the magic of Joan Allen (who was also incredible in 2000's The Contender).

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