Academy Awards Best Picture Focus: '127 Hours'

Academy Awards Best Picture Focus: '127 Hours' In Yidio's Academy Awards Best Picture Focus section, we take an in-depth look at all 10 films nominated for the 2011 Oscar. Today we take a look at “127 Hours,” starring James Franco and directed by Danny Boyle of “Slumdog Millionaire,” “The Beach” and “Trainspotting” fame.

About the Film

On the surface, "127 Hours" is a pretty straightforward true-life tale of Aron Ralston, an experienced mountain climber who gets trapped in a canyon with his arm pinned down by a boulder. With no one around for many miles, and no one aware of where he actually is, the situation is incredibly dire. We don’t want to spoil it for you, but let’s just say it may take losing himself a little to get out of the life-threatening jam.

Why the Nomination?

A cynic who might not have seen the film would assume Danny Boyle was just getting extra brownie points for earlier work in “Slumdog Millionaire,” which was the kind of underdog international success story that any awards show producer would dream of. But to tell you the truth, this movie’s kind of amazing.

There are a million ways Boyle could have turned this into a borderline made-for-TV movie or the type of film that was likely to garner repeated screening on an extreme sports channel (and it still might), but the director has found a way to tell a fairly predictable story of survival against the odds in a way that’s anything but typical.

James Franco delivers a powerful and thoroughly believable performance, and the movie ends up being more of a poignant modern day parable about the importance of human connection than a by-the-numbers Discovery Channel man vs. mountain tale. Using flashbacks and regular updates from Ralston (Franco) into a digital video camera, the audience manages to get a sense of who Ralston is and how he ended up in the situation he’s in.

"I remember thinking, 'I must do a film where I follow an actor the way Darren Aronofsky did with 'The Wrestler.'' So '127 Hours' is my version of that," Boyle told Entertainment Weekly, and it explains a lot.

The only thing keeping this film from massive box office success is what it takes for Ralston to get out of his bind. I’d recommend it to anyone I know, assuming they’re not particularly squeamish.

Other Awards Nominations

"127 Hours" garnered a whopping six nominations at the Oscars this year, which guarantees the film will get a wider audience after this Sunday. Besides the Best Picture nod, the film received nominations for Best Actor (James Franco), Best Adapted Screenplay (Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy), Best Original Score (A.R. Rahman), Best Original Song (A. R. Rahman, Dido and Rollo Armstrong for "If I Rise") and Best Film Editing (Jon Harris). The score is insanely good, and I want to give A.R. Rahman a special big man hug for Best Use of a Bill Withers Song, personally. Franco would be a massive upset for Best Actor over Colin Firth, but what the hell, he deserves consideration and he is hosting the evemt.

What Are the Chances?

Let’s just say the chances of this film getting a Best Picture nod are about as high as Aron Ralston escaping from a canyon with a broken arm pinned down by a boulder. It’s probably not going to happen, but you never know. At the Oscars, drama is only an arm’s length away.

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Watch the Trailer for "127 Hours"