With the Academy Awards fast approaching (in fact the nominations will be revealed on January 25th) it is fascinating to consider the question, what are 127 Hours‘ Oscar chances?
First of all 127 Hours is already destined to be nominated for several categories. James Franco will receive a Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Aron Ralston. He should have received an supporting Oscar nomination for his performance in Milk but he wont be abandoned from the nominations this time.Danny Boyle will receive a nomination for producing with Christian Colson and co-writing alongside Simon Beaufoy. Also AR Rahman will receive a nomination for Best Original Score. Whether or not Danny Boyle receives a nomination for Best direction is what I’m concerned about. I personally believe his chances are slim. He didn’t receive a Golden Globe nomination for Best Director and this could suggest, David O Russell is nominated for Best Director instead of him. Having said that, whether or not he receives a nomination, I’m pretty sure all odds are in favour of David Fincher taking home Best Director.
Now the bigger issue, after receiving its nominations what are the chances of the film winning? In terms of acting James Franco is phenomenal as Aron Ralston. This is his Cast Away performance, except even more facile and even more intricate. Franco displays every possible emotion Ralston encountered during his affliction, at the same time asserting the levity and charisma he’s invested in other roles throughout his career such as Pineapple Express. I would love to say James Franco becomes the first man to win an Oscar while at the same time hosting the Academy Awards, but I don’t see it happening. Movie critics and industry experts are literally going barmy about Colin Firth, showering him with praise as the stuttering, despairing King George VI in The King’s Speech. And, almost certainly, he looks to be the front runner for Best Actor this year.
The script was one of the most important facet of the film. How do you make an action film about someone who can’t move and stays in the same place for most of the film? This is Danny Boyle’s first crack at writing and with Simon Beaufoy they have created a movie which is at such an astounding pace. Not only have they made an honest attempt at adapting Aron Ralston’s 2005 book “Between A Rock And A Hard Place” they have dramatized it in a way in which they can skip in and out of the canyon. In the end the film is more then just about survival, there’s an important underlying moral about rectifying your wrongs. With all the qualities of the screenplay, once again I don’t think it will win Best Adapted Screenplay, primarily because they face incredible challenge from Aaron Sorkin. With The Social Network, he has produced a sharp, witty script about the inception of Facebook and you have to also consider the politics of The Oscars. Sorkin has been around in the business for a long time and he’s never recieved an Academy Award nomination before, so the Academy would have to give him one because it’s kind of his time.
With regard to original music, AR Rahman has produced an incredible score for 127 Hours. With all Danny Boyle films, music is always important. Thinking about to the pivotal scene, where Ralston cuts off his hand, the track entitled “Liberation” is impeccable. The music is pitch perfect, as Ralston undertakes the surgically necessary, the cutting of each tendon is associated with a musical shriek from Rahman’s score. I’d like to say Rahman wont win Best Original Score for 127 Hours because he won it for Slumdog Millionaire but this isn’t the case. Hans Zimmer’s electric original Score for Inception is just distinct and completely different to anything ever produced, especially the track “Dream Is Collapsing”. In a sense the heart-pumping, beating score, full of long- fleeting emotional build-ups and hair-wrenching energy will go down in cinematic history as one of the ultimate movie scores. The best feedback for it – its the blade runner score of its time.
It’s also important to consider, whether Dido and AR Rahman will receive an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song. In the film, just before the pivotal scene, Aaron has a premonition of playing with his son that hasn’t been born and the music is perfectly utilized, at the most appropriate time, with Dido’s beautiful soft, soothing harmony, which draws you in, opens you up and makes you feel really really vulnerable. Then immediately after when he begins to cut his hand you are left helpless to witness this extraordinary act he is performing to survive. It would be great if Dido received an Oscar nomination on top of all the other music accolades she has achieved in her career.
It’s also important to mention Jon Harris who is technically faultless with editing, working to the tinniest detail with the split-screen sequences (not only in the outstanding opening of the film showing the wide metropolis of life), the montage of soft-drink ads and all the different, inventive camera angles Boyle has utilized. Furthermore Danny Boyle used two cinematographers on the film so that there were no delays in shooting. This included Enrique Chediak and Anthony Dod Mantle, Academy Award winning director of photography for Slumdog Millionaire. Both capture the vibant landscapes of the Blue John Canyon superbly. One scene which stands out is when Aron has just fallen through the crevice and we really see how alone he is down there as the cinematographers utilize the vast, mountainous terrain to exhibit how segregated Ralston is from human connection.
Yes 127 Hours is one of the best films of the years – a heart-pounding, against-all-the odds action drama. It has already been nominated for three Golden Globe awards and an SAG for the ever talented, the ever versatile James Franco. When it comes to the Academy Awards I believe it is likely to miss out big time and more importantly will not win the big award Best Film, which according to current trends looks to be heading to The Social Network. Having said this, for such a small, independently-spirited film it has at least achieved the critical recognition it deserves, especially for its star James Franco and its master Danny Boyle.