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2011 Academy Awards nominated movies often too violent, dark

Last year, I wrote that the movies getting the Academy Award nod didn’t live up to the potential of what the powerful movie industry, one of the main purveyors of American popular culture, could achieve.

This year, it’s more of the same. It seems as though Hollywood executives sat around and thought about what kind of violence they hadn’t shown yet, then made their selections. Again, the emphasis often was on movie topics that appeal to young males.

Here are my picks among what was nominated for Academy Awards in 2011:

Best picture: “The King’s Speech.” Although I liked “The Social Network,” too, British historical movies are a favorite of mine. I realize the movie had historical inaccuracies.

Best director: David Fincher for “The Social Network” and Tom Hooper for “The King’s Speech.” They both did a good job on complicated, nonviolent movie topics.

Best actor: Jesse Eisenberg for “The Social Network. I agree with many commentators who said Eisenberg nailed the role of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Best actress: No pick. I didn’t see “Rabbit Hole” or “Blue Valentine.” “Black Swan” was the worst movie of 2010; the prima ballerina slipped into madness while her mother watched. “Winter’s Bone” was slow and disturbing. I couldn’t figure out what Hollywood was trying to say in “The Kids Are All Right”; lesbian families can be wrecked by male interlopers?

Best supporting actor: Geoffrey Rush in “The King’s Speech.” Rush did a great job as King George VI’s speech therapist. “The Town,” about bank robbers, had twists, but was too violent. “The Fighter” was O.K., but watching boxers plummet each other, get injured, and bleed isn’t my idea of entertainment.

Best supporting actress: Helena Bonham Carter in “The King’s Speech.” Bonham Carter did a spirited job playing the Duchess of York and Queen Elizabeth. “True Grit” was a Western remake, with way too much violence. “Animal Kingdom,” about a criminal family in Australia,” was slow and full of senseless violence.

Costume design: “The King’s Speech.” “I Am Love” actually was a story about something besides killing. “Alice in Wonderland,” about the teenage Alice,” wasn’t for children with its excessive violence. I heard an interview with the director on NPR. He said his grade-school age children could handle the violence in the movie. Children shouldn’t be expected to mature enough steel themselves against violent “entertaining” assaults.

Animated feature film: No pick. I saw two of the three movies nominated, but I didn’t think either was a superior movie for children. “How to Train Your Dragon” wasn’t too bad, but again, a lot of violence for children. “Toy Story 3” was way too dark for young children.

Visual effects: “Inception.” About manipulating dreams and dreams within dreams, it was interesting, but filled with fighting, explosions, and killing. In addition, it had the added visuals of worlds of dreams tipping and collapsing. “Iron Man 2,” with lots of fighting, explosions, and killing, was a bit entertaining with Robert Downey Jr. as the self-centered head of Stark Industries. However, I don’t quite know what to think about the movie’s comment that Iron Man brought peace between the East and the West.

Original song: No pick. I saw three of the movies nominated in this category, but I wasn’t watching them to evaluate the music. “Tangled,” a typical Hollywood story for kids, had lots of fighting between the good guys and the bad guys.

Sound mixing: No pick. I think the sound in most movies is too loud. Also, I don’t like the way sound editing is done when more sound is added to things, such as footsteps, as was done in “I Am Love.” I watched “Salt” because it was nominated for this award. The overly violent movie was unrealistic with an extremely thin Angelina Jolie overtaking dozens of burly men.

Sound editing: No pick. I saw four of the movies nominated for sound editing, but wasn’t watching to see which one had the best sound. “Unstoppable” was a pretty good movie; plenty of action and drama, but not about people killing each other.

Adapted screenplay: Aaron Sorkin for “The Social Network.” I thought the writer was creative in thinking up a way nerdy computer scenes could be entertaining. I’m interested in finding about how much of it was true. I checked Wikipedia to find out after I saw the movie, then I had to laugh. Reading a site written by thousands of people, including those who have a vested interested in a topic, was an Internet age irony. “127 Hours” was gruesome, although it was about something that really happened.

Original screenplay: David Seidler for the “The King’s Speech.”

Hopefully, movies will improve in the next year as Hollywood realizes baby boomers are returning to the theaters and want to see something beside topics that appeal to teenage males.

Copyright 2011, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist

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I didn't like “The King’s Speech”. I saw it with friends and at some point it became expectable and boring. But judging by the awards - I guess we were the problem...

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