30 Days of Oscar: Day 23 - Rabbit Hole

Movie: Rabbit Hole
Year: 2011
Nominations: Best Actress (Nicole Kidman)
Wins/Snubs: I don't think Natalie Portman lost any of the awards that season.  There are some challenges of a role that isn't as completely "leading" as another.  Every second of Black Swan is about Portman's Nina.  Not so with Kidman's Becca, which sometimes does create a slight disadvantage.  
Rabbit Hole has an unfortunate name that made it difficult to want to see because the name doesn't reveal enough, so it becomes popularly subtitled as "a movie about parents dealing with the death of a child".  That's one of the things I've learned from 4 semesters teaching - despite your best intentions giving a creative name to a class, the students are going to call it whatever they want that's easy to remember, so it's probably best to give in to that and use simple, descriptive language.  The idea that these parents are "down the rabbit hole" dealing with an unimaginable new life 8 months after their son died in a car accident, is only a part of what this movie is about, so perhaps the title was a hindrance.  
Boiling down the very complex emotions and relationships that inevitably change after the loss of a loved one, particularly a young child, into a simple title does a disservice to the intense emotions this story presents.  Becca is married to Howie (Aaron Eckhart), and they're dealing with the loss of their son in different ways, but they're trying to do it together.  They attempt to go to group therapy, but Becca doesn't want to continue as she can't bear to hear more about these people's problems.  Howie finds comfort in knowing he's not alone and connects with the loss he sees in others.  People walk around them on eggshells, trying not to offend them, but distancing them also.  
Overall, I really liked this movie - Becca is still a mother, even after her son has died.  She reaches out to the teenager who killed her son in a kind of perverse way of staying connected with that final moment of her son's life.   It's a double edged sword - she sees this kid who will get to grow up and go to prom, but knows that he lives with killing her son through all of that, and that her son will never have those chances.  The scenes where they interact are the best in the movie (the kid, Miles Teller, is really convincing).  There are some nominations where a great actor is just lauded again for doing their job (see Washington's nomination for Flight) and when Kidman was nominated for this, i thought that's all this was, but Rabbit Hole is actually a very good movie, and Kidman's performance is terrific too.  

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