Running to the Oscars: Short reviews

I have already posted my review of The Wolf of Wall Streetbut in my haste to see as many Oscar noms before the night, I haven’t been writing reviews of them. I still haven’t seen them all, but I’ll still give my predictions. Onwards to the Oscars!

American Hustle:

The opening shot of Christian Bale’s beer gut pretty much sets the tone for this corruption story, set in 1970s New York. The screaming hair-dos, the tacky suits, and every single performance makes this one to remember. Honestly, Jeremy Renner’s wig should get a nom. Jennifer Lawrence steals the show, for better or worse. Occasionally, I found myself forgetting the actual plot to just look at the spectacle. I don’t feel American Hustle manages to justify its length, compared to The Wolf of Wall Street. While the characters are great, I wasn’t pulled in as much. Both films are full of corruption and horrible people. The Wolf of Wall Street kept me more consistently entertained, but American Hustle had a little heart hidden away that was very appealing. I think the ending, while a bit simplistic and somehow rushed, saved it for me.

Oscar chances? Not if Martin Scorcese has anything to say about it. Christian Bale could have won Best Actor, if not for the fact that Leonardo DiCaprio has already cleared a space on his shelf, and Chiwetel Ejiofor is waiting in the wings just in case they make him wait another year. 

Captain Phillips:

Barkhad Abdi, who plays the lead Somalian pirate, has been nominated for supporting actor, and that is well-deserved. Although the competition is stiff in that category, if I had to pick, it would be him. The film has some high and low points, but once the pirates are on the ship, I was pretty much in the zone to the end. I didn’t know much about the real story beforehand, which was probably an advantage. Tom Hanks was a bit of a disappointment, actually, since everyone had told me how great he was in this. His last scene was intense, but before that I really felt he was on autopilot. If that’s the level of his autopilot, however, then he can phone it in any time. I would have liked to see more of the backstory of the pirates, and maybe the ending could have been fleshed out from their perspective, but that’s not what the film is trying to tell.

Oscar chances? I’d be surprised, since although the scope of the film is big (the ocean itself creating most of this effect), I don’t think I’ll remember it for long.

Dallas Buyers Club: 

Matthew McConaughey is having a really good year, and getting an Oscar for the role of AIDS sufferer Ron Woodroof would make a cherry-top end. In a perfect world, I think he would have gotten it (him and Bale are tied in my book), but as I said above, the deck is stacked against him this year. Dallas Buyers Club is another story I hadn’t heard about, and I’m shocked that no one has made a film about the topic before. Its the characters that make the film, and Jared Leto is amazing. He got a few tears out of me before the end. I think what I enjoyed the most was the slow way that McConaughey’s character changes from a true redneck stereotype to a driven person trying to help. The film has this natural flow, and was probably the only one of the Best Picture noms I’ve seen where I didn’t wish for a shorter run-time.

Oscar chances? Good, I think, especially since I don’t think either actors will get their statues, but as Cartman knows all too well, AIDS is “over”, and the Academy might ignore it.

Gravity: 

I don’t know why this one is nominated. Best Visual Effects, Sound Mixing and Editing, , Production Design and maybe Cinematography, are all better fits, and I won’t be surprised if it wins one or all of them. But best Music and Directing? I don’t agree. It’s a stunning film in many ways of course, and I will definitely be watching it again sometime, but the utter lack of a driven plot or interesting characters makes it a weird choice for Best Picture. Sandra Bullock was good, and I’m surprised how much I enjoyed her performance, but compared to her last win, this was a walk in the park, or space as it happens. This film is visually stunning and should be remembered for that, not for stealing a spot in Best Picture.

Oscar chances? It will probably win a lot of the smaller awards, and that is as it should be.

12 Years A Slave: 

Another story that should have been told ages ago, but perhaps it’s good they waited for the right director, the right actors, and the right vision. Maybe it was a tad too long, but I wouldn’t know where to cut. I admit I was a bit uncomfortable watching some scenes, but not because of the history, although its always a bit uncomfortable watching the darker parts of humanity. I kept thinking about the actors and how draining it had to be to play some of those scenes. All the more reason to give the film at least Best Supporting Actress, Best Actor (I’m sorry, Leo!) and maybe even Best Director and/or Film. It’s not the subject matter that makes this an Oscar worthy film, but the sense of scope and intimacy at the same time. I found Solomon’s story to be both extremely personal, but also part of a world wide atrocity (especially keeping in mind that slavery still very much exists). The direction is also amazing, and you can see every single actor give their all.

Oscar chances? I think this might be my number one for Best Picture, unless the Academy is afraid of appearing as if it’s playing the apology game and gives it to Wolf. 

Those are all the Best Picture noms I’ve seen. I might get in the last three before Sunday, but the only one that looks like it might be a true contender is Her which I’m really excited to see.

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About filmroller

I'm primarily a history student, but my love of movies made me write my master thesis on historical films. This meant I read more film theory books than history, so I decided I wanted to keep writing about movies in my spare time.
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