One tale features a man buried alive, the other, features a man trapped by his own appendage. One is receiving awards play, the other is barely talked about. So why the difference?
Paul's (Ryan Reynolds) encounter with death is a far different take than Aron Ralston's (James Franco). Granted, both are initially frantic but there is a zen-like quality to Ralston's that never appears in Buried. And for good reason. Ralston's predicament is - and Ralston admits as much himself - his own fault. Had he deemed it a good idea to tell anyone of his location his journey could have ended with both arms intact. Paul Conroy wakes up six feet under at an undisclosed region of the desert armed with only his phone, writing and a lighter. He has a timetable for his escape whereas Ralston had as much time as his supplies allotted.
We are a nation of the insured, so it comes to no one's surprise when Aron Ralston comes along, throws caution to the wind and ends up captivating the entire world. A story of a government contractor being held hostage brings no elation at the end of the film, only dread. Perhaps therein lies the reason why 127 Hours has played to so many positive reactions. His escape is a celebration of life where Paul Conroy's story is mostly a fear of death.
So come Oscar time, warranted or not, Franco will be the one hearing his name at the podium when the nominees are announced while Buried languishes at theatres.