Photo: Davidlohr BuesoOn Jan. 25, Mo’Nique, last year’s best supporting actress, announced the Oscar nominees for this year’s 83rd annual Academy Awards. While there’s no Inconvenient Truth nor anyone bragging they’re the greenest director of all time, we managed to find some sustainable messages in the contenders for best picture.
127 Hours: James Franco stars in this grisly film about the mountain climber who had to cut off his own arm since it was stuck under a rock. As long as he packed it in and packed it out (his litter, not his arm, silly!), this sounds pretty green to me. (For reals, though, Franco’s 2008 New Year’s Resolution was to walk more and rely less on his car.)
Black Swan: Natalie Portman, star of this creepy ballet flick, is a longtime vegan and green darling, and she said the same of director Darren Aronofsky: “Darren is a huge environmentalist and talks about it all the time.” He forbade plastic water bottles on the set, and Kleen Kanteen provided the cast and crew with reusable ones. Because it’s important to be hydrated before any self-mutilation.
Inception: Sleeping is a great way to save energy, right? But seriously, the Prius-driving Leo DiCaprio is uber-green. (Remember The Eleventh Hour? Yeah … unfortunately we do too.) Juno darling Ellen Page is no slouch, either — she appeared in a video promo for 350.org’s day of climate action last year.
The Fighter: I’ll admit it, there aren’t a lot of green connections with this boxing flick … although aforementioned green director Darren Aronofsky was once at its helm. And you can count Marky Mark as yet another knock-out with an awful eco-thriller in his past (The Happening). Co-stars Christian Bale dabbled in vegetarianism, and Amy Adams took reusable bags with her to the grocery store (hey, I’m trying here, people!).
The Kids Are All Right: Annette Bening (who played a green activist in 1995’s An American President) and Julianne Moore star in this comedy-drama about a lesbian couple and their kids — and a recent study suggests the LGBT community is greener than its hetero counterparts. And star Mark Ruffalo’s recently been in the news for his anti-fracking activism.
The King’s Speech: This period drama chronicles how King George VI overcame his stutter. It stars Colin Firth, who just might be one half of a new green power couple: “With friends he opened an eco-friendly store in west London,” reports Financial Times. And his wife Livia Guggioli has promised to only wear sustainable fashion on the red carpet.
The Social Network: Justin Timberlake brought sexy back, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in the name of clean water, and opened a “green” golf course? Add him as a friend already. (Same for Rashida Jones — her 2011 New Year’s resolution is to start composting.) And in real life, Greenpeace gave Facebook a not-so-friendly poke for using coal to power its data centers.
Toy Story 3: Clearly the take-home message of this animated blockbuster is that reusing and recycling unwanted crap is way better than sending it to the scary incinerator. Did I say “clearly”? In any case, Tom Hanks (the voice of Woody) volunteers for The Nature Conservancy, making him our favorite deputy.
True Grit: The Coen brothers directed this John Wayne remake. (Perhaps you remember their maybe-it’s-a-metaphor-for-climate-change film from three years ago, No Country for Old Men, or their definitely-mocking-clean-coal video from last year?) The Coens have made composting and recycling a priority on sets before — they composted 74 percent of the waste from A Serious Man and recycled another 6 percent. Keep it up, bros.
Winter’s Bone: This “haunting yet beautiful” drama is set in a poor rural community in the Ozarks, “where drug production and trafficking [are] just as lucrative as livestock and farming,” writes one reviewer. With zero farmwashing — instead, broken farm equipment sits in front of houses — perhaps it shines a dull flickery light on the downsides of Big Ag?
Best Supporting Actor
The Town: This bank-heist action flick features Ben Affleck as both star and director. As one-half of the greenish Bennifer, he’s campaigned for Defenders of Wildlife, been in a Live Earth PSA, and dressed like an ear of corn to promote flex fuels. Co-star (and Mad Men hottie) Jon Hamm voiced green Mercedes-Benz ads during last year’s Oscars and made the regrettable career decision of starring in an eco-flick. Finally, Blake Lively shops green and has urged her Gossip Girl co-stars to switch to reusable mugs.
Best Feature Documentary
Gasland: This puppy started getting buzz at Sundance almost a year ago. It’s a scary, compelling look at fracking (hydraulic fracturing), a chemical-intensive method of extracting natural gas, and its
negative health effects on the people who live nearby. If “flammable tap water” sounds familiar, it’s probably thanks to Gasland.
Inside Job: Tesla-driving Matt Damon narrates this documentary about the current economic meltdown. Damon’s dulcet tones have also graced green docs Running the Sahara and Journey to Planet Earth, and he started Water.org, which aims to get clean drinking water to people in developing countries.
Waste Land: Trash? Art? Global issues? Yes. Photographer Vik Muniz went to the world’s biggest landfill in Rio de Janeiro to create mixed-media portraits of the locals who pick through trash there. Then he photographed the portraits — which he made with trash from that very landfill — and sold them, donating his profits back to the locals. For a topic that sounds smelly and ugly, the film sounds uplifting and personal.
Also check out:
- An interview with Waste Land director Lucy Walker
- The Oscar-nominated green documentary short you have to watch: The Warriors of Qiugang