Black Swan

Alternate Title: Sexual Abuse in Three Acts
2010 Nominee

This is a movie where at the end, you turn to the person next to you and demand, “What the fuck did I just see?” Spoiler Alert: They won’t have any idea either. If you watch it alone, you’re going to call three of your friends and coerce them to watch it so that someone can maybe explain to you what was happening.

Black Swan starts with a ballerina who’s already screwed because she’s a ballerina. They operate in a culture of starvation and competition until they inevitably retire early and don’t know what else to do. It’s not really living, but constant work, the way a lot of high caliber artists function. It’s stressful and has dire consequences for Nina Sayers (Portman).

Nina’s mother (Barbara Hershey, playing a total creep) is a former ballerina who is suspiciously close with her grown daughter. By that I mean she sexually abused her and if you don’t believe me, Google search it and you’ll realize that’s part of what’s going on in this total acid trip of a motion picture.

Anyway, Nina gets the lead in Swan Lake, a story about a white swan who falls in love with a prince, but then this evil swan (the black one) tricks the prince and the white swan is grief-stricken and commits suicide. Forgive me if I have the details wrong, but the only description I’ve gotten of Swan Lake is from this movie and after what I discovered about Nina’s mom, I’m terrified to Google anything else related to it.

Nina’s director (Vincent Cassel) tries to extract her “black swan” by basically molesting her during rehearsal and giving her masturbatory “homework assignments.” His justification is that he only sees the docile white swan when he watches her dance and none of the seductress of the black swan.
As if this whole thing wasn’t creepy enough.

Meanwhile, Nina is freaking out because a fellow dancer, Lily (Kunis) appears to have the sexual prowess of the black swan down pact. She worries that Lily is trying to steal her place in the performance, especially after Lily drugs Nina’s drink in an effort to get her to relax. The drug of choice? Ecstasy.

As everyone and her mom tries to fuck her (literally), Nina slowly loses her grip on reality. This coalesces with Nina believing that she’s turning into a swan. The film is twisted in its storytelling, with you as the viewer wondering – just like Nina – whether the events are real or just an extremely vivid waking nightmare.

Black Swan is an foreboding look at the world of dancing and the trauma that comes from abusive relationships. It’s a great conversation piece for anyone who’s confused about this absolutely confusing movie.

Now it’s Your Turn…
Black Swan was nominated for Best Picture in 2010, but did the Academy get it right?

Lady Bird

Alternate Title: I was a High School Weirdo
2017 Nominee

Fuck high school.

I think the only people who really liked it were the people torturing me and people like the title character, Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan). Her real name is Christine, but you know how you made up a weird name for yourself and had everyone call you that because you were mad at your mom? A lot of people won’t admit it, but girls are mad at their moms for a pretty substantial portion of their teenage years.

Lady Bird is mad at her mom (Laurie Metcalf), but also she dates this boy who turns out to be gay. You totally don’t see it coming because he’s really good as the lead in the school musical.

Our beloved title character is simultaneously trying to go to college on the opposite coast from whichever coast Sacramento, California is on because she love/hates it and thinks New York is cool even though she’s never been there. This is why high schoolers shouldn’t be allowed to decide which institution they get to send all their parents’ money to for an education that really consists of learning how to have sex without getting pregnant and how to drink lots of alcohol without barfing.

It all boils down to a lady (bird) and her mom. I have to say, I teared up more than once. The movie is passionate and disjointed – kind of like a high school girl. There are a lot of lovely moments that make the movie feel a little like you’re flipping through a photo album, but also fighting with your mom, which makes sense because who the fuck else ever has the idea to look through a photo album?

It’s a movie that might even make you want to visit Sacramento…and  then immediately fly to New York.

Now it’s Your Turn…
Lady Bird was nominated for Best Picture in 2017, but did the Academy get it right?