Alice in Wonderland: After the supremely disappointing duo of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Sweeney Todd, I was pleasantly surprised by Alice. Mia Wasikowska is one of the least affected young actresses working today, and her performance grounded a film that is essentially one long, whimsical acid trip. I loved how strong this Alice was–this girl would never drown in her own tears. And while Depp’s warring accents were distracting, Stephen Fry as the Chesire Cat makes the whole thing worth it (not to mention Alan Rickman as the Caterpillar).
Black Swan: I was a bit underwhelmed by this movie, I have to admit, and I think the problem is Portman. The story was engaging, sure, and the costumes and effects were compellingly creepy, but her performance didn’t feel like it went beyond the surface, for all that training and drastic weight loss. While I was watching, I found myself rooting for Nina, but I can’t say her story stayed with me once it was over. The best movies of this genre will haunt you–this one was ultimately a lot of beautifully executed but forgettable parlor tricks.
Blue Valentine: Such a distressing little film this is. It feels so private that I almost wish I’d watched it at home rather than in a theater. Gosling and Williams live up to the hype surrounding their performances, as each are by turns charming and horrible to one another. My one complaint is overuse of Indie Shaky Cam cinematography, but otherwise a wonderful little snapshot of everyday dysfunction. Essentially a big middle finger to every romantic movie that led you to believe the fairy tale.