January 28, 2014

Who should win Best Picture at the 2014 Oscars?

It's that time of year again! The most wonderful time of the year! Oscar season! I usually set myself a goal of seeing every best picture nominee so I have a legitimate reason as to why that movie should win instead of it just being the only movie I saw. 

2008 was a rough year.
I usually fail. This year, I was ahead of the game. Before the nominations came out, I had already seen 4 of the 9 nominations. Now, I'm up to 6. This is a work in progress post, I am hoping to see 12 Years a Slave, Nebraska, and Philomena before March 2nd. These are the standings as of now, in order from least to best of Best Picture worthiness. My pick for best picture is the last on the list.

Captain Phillips

(Note: this was the only one I saw outside of theaters. Not sure how this effected my opinion on the film)

I didn't particularly enjoy Captain Phillips, I'm going to just throw that out there right now. It was disappointing to say the least.The only redeeming quality was that it rep'd the offical Navy standard PT shirt I wear multiple times a week, and the film was partially filmed on the destroyer my brother is on.

DDG 103 wad up

Besides that I actually found the movie pretty boring. I was not captivated by the story, thought it was slow paced and drawn out. I couldn't really tell you WHY it was so long, because I can basically sum up the plot right here: Captain Phillips boards Maersk Alabama, captains around for awhile, pirate warning, pirate hijacking, tense conversations, Captain Phillips taken ransom, tensions rise on the small lifeboat, the Navy gets involved, tense negotiations, pirates get sniped, Captain Phillips loses his shit (understandably). There now you don't have to see it.

Dis ain't my blood

The second half was better than the first,  the end was the only reason I'm not writing this movie off completely. It was pretty powerful, and that is thanks to Tom Hanks. The WHOLE movie he has a distracting accent and it was pissing me off, but his performance in the final scenes reminded me why he is a great actor. Also, like I said, the Navy BITCHES!

I would say the thing this movie lacked most was life. I had no interest in the characters, I knew nothing about them. Not the crew, not the pirates, not even Captain Phillips. There was no character development, and in a movie NAMED after the main character, that is weird to me. It was based off a true story, yet I wasn't moved at all.

Overall Consensus: At the end of the day, I understand why Captain Phillips was praised and nominated...even if I don't agree with it. I think it's ridiculous that the movie get's nominated, but not Tom Hanks. He's a gem, and takes this movie from a turd to MAYBE like a garnet or something.

Semi-Precious stones FTW!

American Hustle

Am I the only person who liked American Hustle...besides the critics rounded up on rotten tomatoes who gave it a 93%? Everyone I talked to in my real life thought it sucked. I'm somewhere in the middle. Did I enjoy the movie and laugh a lot? Yes! I thought American Hustle had it's clever moments. Do I think it is deserving of 10 Oscar Nominations? God no. That is ONE less nomination than Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. THAT is bullshit. Of course, that movie swept and won every award it won, Hustle will not AND Return of the King had no acting nominations, while Hustle is nominated for all four acting accomplishments.

"Oh, you saved middle earth but couldn't get nominated? Y'all
ain't shit"

Moving on, where American Hustle shines is comedic timing, sountrack, style, and cast. The movie was funny, I laughed out loud multiple times. It was all about the timing, and what I liked best was that it didn't take it self too seriously most of the time. Everyone was in on the ridiculousness of the situation, the stupid hair of Bale and Cooper, how much of a douche Cooper's character is, how much of a lunatic Lawrence's character is. WE ALL KNOW. It's funny and lighthearted, even with the possibility of going to jail and being busted by the FBI, the audience isn't that worried. I think some people might have been disappointed because they were expecting something more gritty? Who knows.

Now, the soundtrack was ballstastic, I was grinning with each new song that came on. As an adopted child of music from the late 70s, I was in movie soundtrack heaven. I'm talking ELO, Elton John, DONNA SUMMER, Wings, America, Bee Gees, Bowie...I GOT A MUSIC BONER. The soundtrack alone made me love this movie (I'm listening to it right now, thank you very much!)

Most underrated band of the 70s amirite?

 This is an "all star" cast. I loved the cast, I thought their chemistry was fantastic...but Adams and Lawrence shouldn't have gotten the globe, and they certainly shouldn't win the Oscar.  Jennifer Lawrence is awesome, she is a good actress, and she is entertaining off screen as well. Her performance was awesome and entertaining as well. She should be nominated, but she shouldn't win. Same with Adams, Bale, and Cooper. If anything, I think Bale had the best performance out of the group, but there is no way he is more deserving than his competition.

I was so entertained by American Hustle for 4/5 of the it's lengthy run time. I didn't want it to end, UNTIL it got to the point where the movie needed to be over. It happened in an instant. One moment I was entranced by this movie, the next I was over it. The ending was meh. I didn't like it. It wasn't even a No Country for Old Men controversial ending where you either loved it or you hated it. I wasn't angry about the ending, I wasn't like THIS IS AWESOME. I was like meh. That is the WORST.

Overall Consensus: Funny, stylish, and well casted with an awesome sountrack, American Hustle isthe funnest movie nominated. Fun movies don't win best picture. This was mindless entertainment. This was a Saturday night "You know what I haven't seen in FOREVER?" "OMG I LOVE THAT MOVIE, LET'S WATCH IT" kind of film. Get the HELL out of best picture category, American Hustle.

Wolf of Wall Street

I didn't think I was going to enjoy Wolf of Wall Street as much as I did. That's the honest truth...I thought it was just going to be okay. It was actually pretty great and I'm glad I finally went to see it. Maybe because out of all the movies, it seemed that everyone I knew had already seen it. That's not meant to be a "mainstream sucks" thing, I just don't really trust the opinions of some people I know on movies.  Maybe it was the thought of being trapped in a movie theater for three hours. Maybe it was it's only semi favorable reviews, compared to the near universal acclaim of most of the other nominees. Whatever, this movie was very entertaining and pretty well made. I also will say that I now want to be worth millions, snort cocaine, and buy a bunch of hookers. 

Charlie Sheen, best known for his movie blog
Take you to the Picture Show, launched in 2011

Leonardo DiCaprio is what makes this film so engaging. He is actually pretty brilliant (and due for an Oscar, C'mon...no love for Calvin Candie?). I am back and forth on DiCaprio/Scorsese collaborations. The Departed is one of my favorite films, The Aviator was okay, Gangs of New York was okay, and I've never seen Shutter Island). As a purely Leo/Martin partnership, this was probably the best. I loved the "Ferris Bueller" Jordan talking to the camera, which I thought was much more effective than American Hustle's overtalk montages to explain the plot (yuck!). 

Pure gluttony and lust take center stage in this film. Titties galore! Drugs galore! Midgets galore! Fancy cars galore! Beatiful women galore! You see this character transcend into this crazy lifestyle and come crashing down, but it's not quite the fall you'd expect from a movie like this. It's quite, even though the Feds being after Jordan for a majority of the film, and there is no lesson to be learned from Jordan's fall from grace (if you could even call it that). 


One criticism I would have of this film, is yes it is shocking and yes it is superficial, but what do we get coming away from this movie? Jordan Belfort is still a sleazeball when the movie ends, cashing out on a new plan for money after he gets out of jail. I'm not trying to say that the movie should have ended with him being like a born again Christian or finally becoming a good person because not only is that not following the actual real life events or realistic, but it would leave you with the same feeling of so what? I didn't come out of this movie a more thoughtful person or thinking to myself "well, I guess that throws my dream of becoming a stockbroker out the window". Three hours later, all I can say is I enjoyed the film, much like I just simply enjoyed American Hustle. Both films had similar themes and parallels, Wolf did it better. 

A lot of controversy surrounds the film for it's graphic portrayals of sex and how many times the "F" word is said. One: Have you EVER watched Game of Thrones? Two: I personally use the "F" word as a sprinkle to any conversation. Get over yourselves, it's a rated R movie about sex, drugs, and money. WHAT DID YOU EXPECT?  

Overall Consensus: Wolf of Wallstreet brings together DiCaprio and Scorsese for their best effort yet. It was brilliantly performed, and though not best picture worthy, DiCaprio has a chance to win the Oscar for the first time. Wolf doesn't hide anything, and goes for the kill handing out sex, drugs, and immoral behavior like candy. Extremely captivating. 


I almost walked out of the theater watching Gravity about three times. Now, this wasn't because it was a bad movie, it was mostly because I was so stressed out the whole time watching it, I almost aged 5 years. Gravity  will leave you on the edge of your seat. There is no need for murderers, monsters, Kevin Spacey putting Gwyneth Paltrow's head in a box, Hitchcock, or Hannibal Lector to give you chills. It's literally just shit going down in space. Space is terrifying... it's not like the space episode of Magic School Bus where the worst thing that happened is Janet came along.

They should have left you in space.

 I was so upset by so much of this movie, I never actually want to see it ever again. It was all so suffocating and real, I was pretty much overwhelmed. That doesn't mean I wouldn't recommend it, I was in awe of this movie for a few days after I saw it. It was like nothing I've ever seen. It's not quite a disaster movie, it's not  a Sci-Fi movie, it wasn't a drama, it's not a complete thriller...I'm not really sure WHAT it is except amazing.

Despite all it's blockbuster-ness, I wasn't even planning on seeing it. I saw the trailer for it and was like "uhm...so they're in space? Yeah, okay, I'm sure that will be an entertaining movie" (with a sarcastic scoff), but believe me (for those who haven't seen it) the film runs smoothly. If Alfonso Cuaron doesn't win best director...heads will roll. Just kidding.


Sandra Bullock's performance was praised universally for her portrayal, and I think it's a shame that buzz died down. The majority of the movie is Bullock on her own, and she carries herself through the film. Yes, George Clooney provided his charming self, some comedic relief, and was actual a very important plot device, but it was Bullock's performance that won me over. Her emotion was so raw and real, I was feeling everything. Not only her "problems" in space, but also the sadness of her life left behind on earth. No matter what shit was waiting for her, or what she was running away from, she still had the will to live. She was lost in space, but also sort of lost in life too. It was a beautiful, sentimental, and real performance.

Overall Consensus: Gravity seamlessly blends emotion, disaster, and space together for a truly thrilling movie. It's a wonderful achievement, that DOES deserve all the hype it is getting. Not quite best picture material, director Alfonso Cuaron and Sandra Bullock are fully deserving of the nominations they received.

Dallas Buyers Club

Slightly undercover, compared to a lot of the nominated films, most people I had to explain what this movie was about before I could rave about it. Now THIS is a movie about a real life person that deserves some praise (Ahem Captain Phillips). When people hear "It's about a guy who becomes HIV positive in the early part of the AIDS epidemic and..." they RUN (at least that was my experience talking about this film). Nobody wants to see a movie about AIDS, because AIDS is sad, especially in the early part of it's history.

You know what kept this movie from being a sappy lifetime movie? Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto's chemistry. It really goes to show you that when faced with adversary and challenges, people come together despite different backgrounds. OH GOD, that sounds so corny and lame AND SO like a sappy lifetime movie. We see Ron (McConaugheyand Rayon (Leto) develop this unlikely /business partnership that grows into a poignant and powerful friendship

As custom in my country, an obligatory"Alright, alright, alright"
is needed for any talk of Matthew McConaughey

We also slowly Ron's former homophobia and denial about his disease chip away. There's no moment this happens, it's a slow process, and you don't realize Ron's growth until after the fact. He starts out as a stubborn, resourceful, scared, lost man and ends as a still stubborn, still resoureful...but resilient, brave, strong willed survivor brilliantly portrayed by McConaugheyLeto as a transgender woman, transforms physically, but that's not what is so amazing about his performance. He takes a character that could have easily became a caricature and stereotype, and creates a poignant and funny person who you grow to love and shed legitimate tears for in the end.

And she's fabulous

Overall Consensus: I felt these characters (Ahem Captain Phillips) and was so moved by this film. McConaughey and Leto are fully deserving of their nominations, and Leto should definitely win. I loved the Ron/Rayon relationship dynamic, and I loved the whole "Dallas Buyers Club" club. Despite it's subject, this movie transcends just being "about AIDS"...and despite how I described it initially, it's not about a man who "get's HIV". It's about human resilience and survival, and most importantly learning about the world around you and the people who inhabit it no matter who they are. It doesn't quite reach Best Picture, but this is a great movie.


Her was weird.Nothing wrong with weird, but I'll say it again...Her was WEIRD. AND I loved it.

I don't know what it was...maybe it was the small things like the slightly futuristic setting, Joaquin's mustache, Scarlett's voice, or the crude/adorable video game character, but this movie was so charming and sad...in a weird, weird, weird way.

Did I mention it was weird?

The reason I liked Her the best -and what set it apart from the other movies nominated- is it made me THINK. About everything. Relationships, how we grow and adapt as human beings, what are our limits as humans, communication in this age of technology, why we fall in love, what are the boundaries of love and what draws the line for intimacy?  I haven't thought that much watching a movie in who knows how long. Her didn't ask me to think, it wasn't pretentious or anything....it was just plain fascinating.

I'm actually surprised that Phoenix didn't get a nomination. He has three noms under his belt already (Gladiator, Walk the Line, and The Master), I would think him as a shoe in, especially for a performance as good as his. Olivia Wilde's character said it best "You're a creepy dude"...and he was REALLY creepy in the most adorable,and at the same time, unnerving way possible. Theodore wasn't really likable, actually he was a self absorbed as hell, but you felt his struggle throughout his relationship with Samantha and his relationship with his wife. A very vulnerable and honest performance. Likewise, Scarlett Johannson as Samantha was extremely engaging for a just a voice. Now that was a struggle you felt without being to empathize at all...unless you're a computer program with no body reading this, then I'm sure you know how that feels.

*Que virtual tear falling*

Her is a love story, a dark and poignant love story that also manages to make you optimistic about love and the ability to move on despite heartbreak. I know that doesn't make sense and is contradicting, but I left the theater feeling good about life despite the melancholy tone. It was an intimate movie, where despite being in a theater full of people, you (and you alone) were transported into the world Spike Jonze created.

Overall Consensus: Out of all the nominees, Her is the one to rule them all. Clever, imaginative, funny, sad, thought provoking, weird, absurd, philosophical, heartfelt AND heartbreaking...so many things in this film that remind you that movies can be truly great and make you feel. Even if it doesn't win, you should see this film. Out of every film on the list, Her is the only one I want everyone to see and 100% recommend.

OMG! THERE'S A POLL! Who do you think should win best picture? Vote now!

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