It’s that time of year folks, the Oscars are upon us… for some people, it’s a chance to root for their favorite movies, and their favorite celebrities. For others it’s a chance to look at fashions, and beauty… and for many of us it’s just another thing to do on a Sunday night.
I personally love the Oscars, since I’m not a sports fan, this is MY Super Bowl (with gowns instead of commercials). I can’t say that I have seen every Oscar ceremony in the last 30 years, but I am sure I’ve come close. I have my Oscar memories just like you all do, and I even have my Oscar traditions just like you all do as well.
My friend Jared and I have already recorded and released our Oscar episode of Cine-rama, which you can check out here. But it wouldn’t be right for me to let this Oscar season go by with giving you my personal rundown and opinions on each of the Best Picture Nominees.
Ready, set, GO!
1) American Hustle: I can’t remember if I wrote about this movie or not, but I thought this movie was a real disappointment. The style, the cast, and the trailer had me really excited to see this crime drama set in the 70s, but in the end it fell flat and left me bored. The movie was way way way too long, and had a ludicrous plot that was almost impossible to keep up with. The performances by Bradley Cooper and Amy Adams were the two that stood out the most (both actors are nominated for their respected roles), but it’s Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence who have Hollywood buzzing. A special shout out must be given to Louis C.K. for his role as Bradley Cooper’s boss who can never finish his story about his brother on the ice. For a movie that was suppose to be hilarious, it was only Louis C.K. that delivered the humor, just by his delivery alone.
Will it win? It’s hard to say because this movie did win the Golden Globe for Best Comedy or Musical, so that helps its chances of winning the Oscar for BP. Of course, in my opinion this movie is a good fit for that award, so if it’s going to get any statue it might as well be the Golden Globe, but I don’t think (or hope) it will really win in comparison to the other films nominated.
Performances? The four main actors in this film; Bale, Cooper, Adams, and Lawrence are all nominated for an acting award in their respective categories. All of them are fine actors, Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence have both won in the past, and Amy Adams and Bradley Cooper are both deserving of one, but not for this movie. Bradley Cooper should have won for Silver Linings Playbook… just saying.
2) Captain Phillips: I liked this movie a whole lot more than I thought I would, it was intense and Tom Hanks was amazing. As an Academy Award winner though, I’m not entirely sure… it got a lot of Oscar Buzz early on, but now that we are approaching this years ceremony, you don’t hear as much about it. The film’s story has been tainted a bit by recent reports of the actual events that the movie has been based on, but hopefully that would not deter people from liking it or voting for it. Tom Hanks gave one of the best performances of his career in this film (he actually gave TWO of this best performances of his career in 2013 alone; the other being Saving Mr. Banks) and sadly did not garner a nomination.
Will it win? I think I covered this pretty well already, but this year it was hard to predict a winner, so this movie could take us by surprise and upset the rest of nominees.
Performances? Tom Hanks was great as I said above; however, Barkhad Abdi also did an amazing job in this film. He played the main terrorist in the film, and showed a lot of great depth and emotion. Will he win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor though? Probably not, I think that honor may go to either Jared Leto or Michael Fassbender. (Sorry Jonah Hill, not this year…)
3) Dallas Buyers Club: This movie was fantastic, it had it all… powerful performances, great story, and lots of Oscar buzz. Again, just like Captain Phillips, I think this movie was the favorite to win the top prize but as the awards season went on, this movie’s chances seemed to diminish. If I were asked to pick the winner (why I’m not asked, I don’t know) I would have picked Dallas Buyers Club as the best. It was such a powerful, moving picture and I think that everyone in it put their heart and soul into the performance. Matthew McConauhey and Jared Leto especially, I mean not only did they completely transform themselves to play these parts, but they also became the characters they were playing (although, McConauhey didn’t have to stretch that far). I was really impressed by this film in the end, and it’s too bad that it probably won’t win for Best Picture.
Will it win? Like I said, I think that the Oscar buzz wore off too quickly for this film, and it’s pretty much all but forgotten.
Performances? I hope McConauhey wins, and I hope Jared Leto wins… At the very least, I believe that Jared Leto is a shoe in for Best Supporting Actor, and I think many critics agree.
4) Gravity: This movie was amazing, it took the old standby story of a castaway lost at sea and shot it into space. This film was beautiful, and compelling, and I loved it. If it wasn’t for Dallas Buyers Club, this would be my pick for Best Picture, because the amount of work that Alfonso Cuaron and his team must have put into this movie is astounding. And Sandra Bullock and George Clooney really had to work hard to hold this movie together, (Sandra Bullock especially) because there was no one else in the film to help move the story along.
Will it win? I think Gravity has a really good chance of winning Best Picture, I believe it is one of the top 3 contenders at this point. I feel that at the very least, we may see Alfonso Cuaron take home the Oscar for Best Director, but you never know.
Performances? Sandra Bullock was nominated for Best Actress in a Lead Role… Jared and I talked bout this at length on our Oscar podcast, and we both feel that she is the right choice for the win.
5) Her: I liked Her. Who? Her, yes Her… (okay enough of that). I have been a fan of Spike Jonze since Being John Malkovich, and I couldn’t have been more excited by this film, and just as excited by the results. Joaquin Phoenix (who is also one of my favorite actors, sorry Jared) delivered a great performance as a sad sack loner who falls in love with his operating system. Spike Jonze picked a great time to put out this film as technology that interacts with us is starting to be a part of our lives. The emotions, and the complexity of the relationship between Theodore and Samantha are so real, and so accurate to human interactions, it makes it harder to believe that Samantha ISN’T actually real.
Will it win? Yes, I will say this movie is worthy of the nomination, but I do not believe it has a chance of winning. Not because it’s a bad movie, but because there’s so many other movies nominated that are so much better. I think that Spike Jonze has definitely set himself on a path to an Oscar win, but this is not his year.
Performances? Many people know, and many people have expressed outrage over the fact that I DO NOT like Scarlet Johansson. In my humble opinion, she is a very boring actress with very little range. However, there are certain roles in her career that stand out as being better than others. For example, I thought she was great in Don Jon, but not so great in The Prestige. She was great in Matchpoint, but not so good in Scoop… however, I will give her credit because this was one of her stand out roles. Also, Amy Adams was cute and adorable in this movie, her role was small in comparison to American Hustle but I liked her performance a lot.
Lastly, look out for director Spike Jonze in another nominee for Best Picture; The Wolf of Wall Street. Spike has been popping up more and more these days in acting roles as well as his capacity as director.
6) Nebraska: I’ll be honest, this movie is probably going to be my number 1 for the year of 2013. I loved this movie so much, in so many ways. Alexander Payne knows how to make a moving film, and one that hits you right where you live. It’s funny, it’s touching, it’s sad, and it’s just a really great movie. I love the use of black and white, which helps to enhance the flat, bleakness of the midwest.
Will it win? Sadly, a movie like this is the underdog… it is in a category filled with giants. With 10 possible nominations, there’s always going to be 1 or 2 that just don’t stand a chance. A few years ago The Reader was an example of one of those small, understated films that was honored with a nomination, but just didn’t have a chance to win. Nebraska may be one hell of a movie, but even compared to Alexander Payne’s The Descendants it has a slim chance of winning. But I recommend this movie to anyone…
Performances? Before this movie my knowledge of Bruce Dern was very limited, with the exception of the fact that he is Laura Dern’s father, I really did not know him. I looked through his IMDb page trying to find something that stood out for me, but for the most part he lies in obscurity, yet he is apparently well respected by his fellow actors.
Bruce Dern isn’t the stand alone actor in the film, June Squibb who played Woody’s wife; Kate is also nominated for Best Supporting Actor. She was really amazing in this movie, playing a strong woman who has had to put up with a lot of crap over the years. She also served as the film’s comic relief, which is amusing considering her sons were both played by comedic actors. Will Forte plays Woody and Kate’s son who accompanies Woody on his journey. At first I questioned whether this Saturday Night Live veteran would be good in such a dramatic role, and boy was I surprised. He may not have been nominated for an Oscar, but I do hope to see him in more dramatic roles in the future. And finally, Bob Odenkirk… an actor I look up to, and I enjoy him in anything he’s in.
7) Philomena: Another film from 2013 that flew under most people’s radars is Philomena. Based on a true story, and written by actor Steve Coogan, this film follows the eponymous characters journey to find the son she was forced to give up for adoption when she was young. Played brilliantly by Judi Dench, and her journalist companion played by Steve Coogan, this film deserves to get a lot more praise and publicity than what it received. It was a real eye opener to learn about the things that happened within the Catholic Church at that time, but what was brilliant about Philomena the movie, and Philomena the character is that she teaches us to forgive, but not forget.
Will it win? I would say that just like Nebraska, it’s highly unlikely for this movie to win. It’s another underdog that will have a very hard time competing with the giants.
Performances? Judi Dench deserves every nomination she gets, I would certainly not be disappointed if she does win, especially for this film. The odds are favorite is Steve Coogan for best adapted screenplay, which I think is very much deserved.
8) 12 Years a Slave: I think with most movie lovers and film critics, 12 Years a Slave was probably the last movie on the list they wanted to watch. Movies about slavery are nothing new, and this certainly won’t be the last such movie either. However, with this film I learned so much more than I did any other film with the same topic. Whether I never learned about freed slaves getting sold into slavery, or it is something I had forgotten; the story of Solomon Northup is one I will definitely remember for as long as I live. This movie surprised me, I won’t say I enjoyed the film because how can you enjoy a film about slavery, but I empathized with the film… I felt part of it. I weeped for Solomon in the end, not because I was sad, but because this film had a happy ending… it had a hopeful ending, which was what I loved so much about the movie.
Will it win? I would say that this movie has the best chance of winning out of all the nominees. If it does win, I don’t think anyone would be surprised… and frankly it deserves to win. On the other hand, it may not win… we’ll see. (it did win the BAFTA award, which is the British equivalent of the Oscars).
Performances? Chiwetel Ejiofor is a phenomenal actor in anything that he is in… he played this part to perfection. Lupita Nyong’o I believe will win for best supporting actress, her performance was gut wrenching, and although she’s in a category filled with amazing talent, I believe that she will win this award.
On another note, Steve McQueen is a favorite for Best Director… a lot of people are saying Alfonso Cuaron is going to get Best Director, but if this film gets Best Picture, then Steve McQueen will definitely win Best Director. And, he will also be the first African American director to win the award… I’ll be rooting for him.
9) The Wolf of Wall Street: Save the best for last right? Wrong… I have so much respect for Martin Scorcese, but this was easily one of his weakest film. The 3 hour runtime made it very difficult to get through, and it didn’t help the already disjointed plot of the film. I just did not like this movie at all…
Will it win? Probably not… I think a lot of people would be pretty upset if this one beat out some of the other movies nominated.
Performances? Leonardo DiCaprio is great in this movie, but he’s not doing anything he hasn’t done before. Jonah Hill was nominated for his role in this film, a nomination that left me confused because his part was not all that great. But, he did play it to the best of his ability… and like I said above, Jonah Hill may win an Oscar some day, but I really don’t think this is the year.
I guess that about wraps it up… don’t throw it in my face if I’m wrong, because chances are… I probably will be. Enjoy the Super Bowl of Hollywood folks! And if you wanna hear more about what Jared and I have to say about the Oscars, check out episode 74.2 of Cine-rama.