127 Hours (2010)
127 Hours is a film about five days in the life of real-life outdoorsman and mountain climber Aron Ralston when he back in 2003 fell down in a narrow, deep canyon and got himself trapped by a boulder in Canyonlands National Park in Utah. It is a small film when it comes to events, but a massive film when it comes to psychological debth, depiction of personal struggle, and the power of character.
Danny Boyle has long since established himself as one of our time's greats, after debuting with the clever Shallow Grave in 1994 and moving on to the hard-hitting Trainspotting, before winning the Academy Award for Best Director for Slumdog Millionair two years ago. In 127 Hours, his characteristic directorial style is more distinct and refined than ever, with trademark hip hop montages used in arguably the most productive way in the history of cinema since Boyle's own Trainspotting or Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream. Boyle excels stylistically in 127 Hours, but never is the effect showy or debauched; every camera-movement, cut and juxtaposition contribute to the part inspirational part gut-clenching portrayal of a man who sinks ever deeper into himself in an existential battle to find the strength to survive.
James Franco's performance is immensely strong. It reminds me of Sam Rockwell's work in last year's brilliant Moon in that the challenges the two characters face are isolation, uncertainty and their own inner demons. There are no interpersonal elements, no easy escapes, no relief, and despite this static nature, Boyle manages to make 127 Hours a tight, suspenseful and grippingly realistic experience. I expect Oscar nominations for both gentlemen.