Saturday, December 16

Is "the Fighter" an Academy Award Front Runner?

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“The Fighter” follows the family of a former fighter (Christian Bale) who had one short time in the spotlight when he knocked down Sugar Ray Leonard during a match, but is now an addict, and his younger brother (Mark Wahlberg), who is a fighter who has never really gotten the chance to have his own career, stifled by the drama of his family.  “The Fighter” is not a typical boxing movie as it centres around the relationships in the family of nine children and three parents.  The boxing becomes a background story in a sense.  

A movie starring Mark Wahlberg tends to be taken seriously in recent years, but in his latest movie, “The Fighter”, it is the supporting actors who are receiving most of the press buzz, as well as recognition from critics and the highest form of praise in the industry…nominations.  Christian Bale delivers a surprising performance, one that is a departure from his previous roles, and is believable as a former fighter battling a crack addiction.  He has already been nominated for Best Supporting Actor for the Screen Actor’s Guild Awards, the Critic’s Choice Awards, and the Golden Globes.  It is safe to say that when it comes to Christian Bale’s portrayal of the selfish older brother still trying to live his moment of glory, Oscar is the word on everyone’s mind.  The younger brother’s girlfriend is played by Amy Adams and she delivers a solid, understated dramatic performance that has already received three Best Supporting Actress nominations and there are certainly Oscar whispers on the horizon.  I believe that Amy Adam’s strongest competition for Best Supporting Actress will come from this very movie, as Melissa Leo, who plays the mother in the movie has also been nominated for the same three awards thus far and her performance in the movie was a standout for me.  Though she did not deliver any dramatic monologues or have as much screen time as Amy Adams, Melissa Leo’s portrayal as the mother was phenomenal.  She was able to get across tremendous emotion at times without saying a word.  The mother’s character in the movie was not a particularly likeable one and would have been a difficult role to play, but this obscure actress managed to bring depth and believability to the role.  Though Melissa Leo is not yet a household name, she has previously been nominated for an Oscar and with this movie perhaps bringing her a second nomination, it will not be long before she is known more widely.  Her work in this movie was outstanding.  Mark Wahlberg’s performance was strong and I cannot find fault in it.  He is an exceptional actor, however, the character he played in “The Fighter” was similar to others that he has portrayed, which made his acting more predictable than the surprise of Christian Bale’s performance.  Many of the other actors also delivered memorable performances and it was the acting that makes this movie stand out.

As a whole, the movie is effective and has already been nominated for Best Picture for a Critic’s Choice Award and Golden Globe, as well as a nomination for Best Director for a Golden Globe.  I think that “The Fighter” is a serious contender for an Academy Award Best Picture win.  The incorporation of varying types of filming due to part of the movie being filmed in a documentary style, as well as the excellent set and costume design which transport the viewer back to the early 1990’s add to this movie’s integrity.  The interpersonal relationships between the characters are well developed.  The co-dependancy often present with family members of addicts is shockingly real.  The screenplay, which has also already received one nomination, is well written and the story reeks of honesty.

There were moments in the movie that dragged on slightly and for my personal taste, the boxing scenes were a bit too realistic in a way that made me cringe, but overall, this movie deserves all the critical acclaim it is receiving and I will be rooting for it come Oscar time.

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