The end is near. We’re less than a week away from the 86th Academy Awards. In years past, I’ve just posted one massive predictions post and then updated it on Oscar night.
This year, I’m taking a different approach.
I’ll be breaking the posts up throughout the week, focusing on a key category each day. Here’s the key in case you want to jump to a specific section:
Monday: Best Picture (scroll down)
Tuesday: Best Actor
Wednesday: Best Actress
Thursday: Best Supporting Actor/Actress
Friday: Best Director & Everything Else
So let’s get into today’s category.
Once again, the Academy chose nine nominees in the best picture category, leaving many candidates scratching their heads as to why they couldn’t pick one more to round out the maximum number of ten nominees.
Here are the nominees. If you want to know who I pick as the winner, scroll to the bottom.
If this film wins anything, it’s the “Oh yea, that was nominated for best picture” award. The best picture push for this film has been basically non-existent. It’s like they’ve conceded before the battle has begun. I’ve always loved the extreme urgency with which Paul Greengrass films with and the final half hour with Tom Hanks are truly gut-wrenching, but there’s just too much shaky cam. Unless you’re filming an earthquake or war movie, say no to shaky cam.
One of the things I love about “awards season” is that we’ve been getting these movies starring Judi Dench. If you don’t freakin heart watching Dench do her thing on the big screen, there’s something wrong with you. Seriously. Anyway, with Philomena, we get a strong performance from co-star Steve Coogan (who also wrote, produced and probably helped clean up the set at the end of each day) as well. Director Stephen Frears does a nice job of letting the story unfold evenly with an emotional gut punch that leaves you looking like you’ve rubbed a bushel of onions in your eyes. Unfortunately not enough people know about this film and most voters are riding the 12 Years/Gravity/American Hustle/Dallas Buyers bandwagon.
I’m going to confess something. This is the only Best Picture nominee that I didn’t watch. There are a number of reasons why: the super limited release, the fact that it was playing in a “movie lounge” at the local theater (sorry, I ain’t sharing a couch with a bunch of strangers). I also have to be in a certain mind-set when I watch Alexander Payne movies and I just haven’t mustered the mental fortitude to undertake what is undoubtedly a bleak drama punctuated with brief moments of stinging comedy. Again, this is just my assumption of what the film must be like. Regardless, it’s an also-ran in the category, so let’s just move on.
I’m in the minority on this film. Most people LOVED this film, as in, crazy-cat-lady-who-loves-all-26-of-her-adopted-alley-cats loved it. The concept is genius and I take nothing away from Spike Jonze who remains one of the more brilliant, unique and original voices in film. Joaquin Phoenix is fantastic in the lead role, Amy Adams just keeps knocking performances out of the part and I wouldn’t mind waking up to Scarlett Johansson’s voice. So what gives? The Olivia Wilde twist. To this day, that specific moment in the film caused me to check out. It’s a good movie, just not Best Picture good.
Dallas Buyers Club
If there’s a dark horse in this category, it has to be this film. The supporting actor category is almost certainly locked with Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey has a very good chance at winning Best Actor. So does this film pull off the hat trick of marquee categories? I doubt it and frankly it’s a shame. Dallas Buyers Club is a truly powerful film that deserved better marketing and buzz than it got. I have yet to hear anyone who truly hated it. (cue series of “I hated that movie” comments) If DBC pulls off the upset on Oscar night, I’d be stunned/amazed.
The Wolf of Wall Street
I’ll leave the debate about whether this unnecessarily long film deserves this nomination for you to discuss in the comments section. The thing is, if Martin Scorsese’s name wasn’t listed next to “Director” and Leonardo DiCaprio didn’t immerse himself so deeply into the world of Jordan Belmont, this film doesn’t even enter into the conversation of Oscar nominees. Yes, Jonah Hill continues to evolve from the funny fat guy to a more versatile actor and Margot Robbie is the very essence of the word “stunning,” but Wolf just ends up feeling like a missed opportunity.
Do I think this film is incredibly overrated? Yes. Was it a bad movie? Not by any means. The performances are commendable. But the jumbled mess of a story that is masked by The Greatest Hits of the ’70s sucked me right out of this film. While it deserves the acting nominations for keeping the film somewhat watchable, it shouldn’t win anything, which is a shame considering the amount of talent associated with this film.
Alfonso Cuaron’s sci-fi thrill ride was truly THE event film of 2013. There’s no denying that with the anticipation and excitement that preceded the film’s release. And once the motion sickness wore off, I couldn’t wait to blast off into space again. I haven’t yet, mainly cuz I don’t want to pay the bulky IMAX 3D ticket price. But for as gorgeous as Gravity looked, the story was pretty simple. That’s not a bad thing, but it also wasn’t particularly compelling. Either Sandra Bullock lived or died, and I was going to be okay with either outcome. The main draw here was the technical achievements (which the film will most likely do very well in) and less the story and that is what separates it from the likely winner.
The Winner: 12 Years a Slave
Comparing Steve McQueen’s slave drama to its biggest challenger, Gravity, is like comparing two different flavors of ice cream. McQueen’s drama is a rich, emotionally draining piece of storytelling with a number of powerful performances propelling it to become something truly memorable. Gravity, for all its sparkly technical achievements lacks the depth that 12 Years has. It’s like vanilla ice cream with a whole host of toppings whereas McQueen’s film is a decadent scoop of chocolate and fudge with the sweetest of maraschino cherries on top. And a random cameo by Brad Pitt.
So do you agree with my pick for Best Picture winner? Tell me who you think is going to win in the comment section!