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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “‘Fighter,’ other flicks, could be contenders”

    The Fighter
    The Fighter

    ‘Tangled’

    Once upon a time, a beautiful princess in a tall tower had lush, golden, abnormally long locks. You know the drill.  

    Rapunzel, voiced by Mandy Moore in Disney’s “”Tangled,”” is like her fellow princesses. She sings, consults woodland creatures and falls in love.

    But Rapunzel also kicks some butt — a frying pan is her weapon of choice.

    Flynn Rider, voiced by Zachary Levi, is a dashing bandit out for luxury and riches. Of course, when he agrees to show the permanently grounded Rapunzel the real world, his tough outer shell begins to soften.

    It’s Disney. What do you expect?

    For all of Flynn Rider’s comical swagger, the relationship that develops between the thief and princess is enough to keep fans of Ariel and Belle sighing contentedly.

    Clichés aside, the fairy tale aspects of “”Tangled”” blend well with adventure and some humor, earning it some potential nominations in this year’s Academy Awards.

    “”I See the Light,”” a ballad in which Flynn Rider and Rapunzel realize their true and undying love for each other, has a chance at a nomination for Best Original Song. Its composer and writer, Alan Menken, is Disney’s musical juggernaut when it comes to the Oscars. He’s pocketed eight Academy Awards so far.

    “”Tangled”” also has a shot at a nomination for Best Animated Feature along with films like “”Toy Story 3,”” “”How to Train Your Dragon”” and “”Despicable Me.””

    Cheesy, spunky and charming, “”Tangled”” just might win some Oscars.

    And wouldn’t that be magical?

    — Johanna Willett

    ‘True Grit’

    With their Best-Picture-winning “”No Country for Old Men,”” the Coen brothers took the everyday evils of the modern West and twisted them into a skein of blood, cusses and dust. With “”True Grit,”” they take the Western back to its rootin’, tootin’ roots, and don’t spare on any of the knee-slapping Coen flair.

    The story more closely follows Charles Portis’ 1968 novel than the famous John Wayne Western — both in story structure and dated dialect. The young Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) narrates the tale of how she hunted down the coward who shot her pa, and in doing so met some of the bravest degenerate gunslingers north of the border. Jeff “”The Dude”” Bridges takes up The Duke’s eye patch and drunken drawl to become trigger-happy U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn, a man renowned for possessing … true grit. With the help of LaBoeuf (Matt Damon), a Texas Ranger with Southern swagger and bovine grace, Mattie and Rooster show their mettle in a frontier framed by death.

    The Coen crew is at the top of their game with this old-West homage. Expect a slew of audio-visual nominations for longtime cinematographer Roger Deakins and composer Carter Burwell. Hollywood favorite Jeff Bridges and his gruff cowboy grumble are on the trail for a Best Actor In a Leading Role nod, his second in as many years (last February he took the gold for “”Crazy Heart””). Depending on the mercy of the academy, we’ll be seeing 13-year-old newcomer Steinfeld in either the best actress or supporting actress pool. Finally, badass brothers Joel and Ethan are bound to be up for awards in directing, adapted screenplay, and Best Picture.

    Giddy-up.

    ‘The Fighter’

    If you’ve heard one true story of inspiring athleticism, you’ve heard them all. On the surface, “”The Fighter”” looks like a cookie-cutter case of muscle-bound men triumphing over adversity. And that does happen. But beyond the few familiar fight scenes is a brilliantly acted meditation on family, home and the wages of success in America.

    Mark Wahlberg plays pro boxer Micky Ward, who struggles through one-sided matches and family bickering to bring pride to his hometown of Lowell, Mass. His brother and former fighter Dickie Eklund, played to sleazy perfection by a gaunt and garrulous Christian Bale, tries to coach Micky to glory, but too often gets distracted by the call of the crack house. Micky’s mother and manager Alice (Melissa Leo) also gets distracted and mobilizes her seven frumpy daughters to harass Micky’s barmaid girlfriend Charlene (an adorable Amy Adams), one of those insufferable “”MTV girls.”” Between the adrenaline- and Aerosmith-induced boxing montages and teeth-gnashing family vitriol, “”The Fighter”” delivers a roundhouse kick to the simple definition of the word “”fight.””

    Christian Bale is a shoe-in for the Best Actor in a Supporting Role lineup. Melissa Leo’s guilt-inducing, prune-sucking glares may launch her into the Best Actress in a Supporting Role ranks, too. Editor Pamela Martin cuts between action shots like rabbit punches and deserves an editing nod. David O. Russell could go for the technical knockout in Directing and Best Picture.

    — Brandon Specktor

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