1. Blue Valentine. Dean Pereira and Cindy Helle. Despite the ailing relationship portrayed, the heart of the film is about the many sides of love—the good, the bad and the downright ugly. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, nominated for her role, portray a multidimensional, up-and-down relationship we rarely see from Hollywood. As the marriage of hapless hopeless romantic Dean (Gosling) and practical, grounded Cindy begins to unravel, the audience is reminded of the importance of communication, of staying connected to one's partner despite the pressures of jobs and kids, and—as we watch this pair attempt to do, albeit too late—taking desperate measures to save what you've worked for years to create.
2. The Social Network. Mark Zuckerberg and Erica Albright. "You are probably going to be a very successful computer person," Erica (Rooney Mara) tells Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg, a Best Actor nominee). "But you're going to go through life thinking that girls don't like you because you're a nerd. And I want you to know, from the bottom of my heart, that that won't be true. It'll be because you're an asshole." She was right on both counts. Zuckerberg founded Facebook and became a multi-billionaire, but realized all the money in the world can't buy you a good relationship. He ends the film, nominated for Best Picture, pining after the girl who told him off, and feeling pretty much alone.
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3. Inception. Dom and Mol Cobb. Dom (Leonardo DiCaprio) can't get his dead wife, Mol (Marion Cotillard), out of his memory, which ends up dangerously sabotaging most every job he works on. Trains tearing through the city streets in your dreams? Not exactly good for business. We know Best Picture-nominated Inception is fantastical, but the lesson holds true: Dwelling on the past will never allow you to move forward. Whether it's the tough loss of a loved one or even just the end of a relationship, you have to let go. It's easier said than done but essential to keep on living.
4. Barney's Version. Barney Panofsky and Miriam. It's a real bummer when you meet the right person at completely the wrong time. But I'm pretty sure we can all agree that you should not pursue a woman at your own wedding…unless she's the gal you just got hitched to. Barney (Paul Giamatti), the star of this Best Makeup nominee, does, however, and well, it's clearly problematic on many levels. Is He The Right Man At The Wrong Time?
5. Black Swan. Nina Sayers and Thomas Leroy. Natalie Portman wrapped this Best Picture-nominated film with both a real-life love (fiance and Black Swan co-star Benjamin Millepied) and a Best Actress nomination. On the other hand, her character, Nina, found herself in a messy relationship with her theater director, Leroy (Vincent Cassel), who plays mind games with Nina, takes advantage of her youth and exploits her innocence. The love lesson here: never get involved with a boss or instructor whose intentions are dubious. We wish we could have told Nina: Run. Fast.
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