Saturday, March 1, 2014

Preferences and Predictions for This Year's Oscars

Three of the films I had on my ten best list for last year are nominated for Oscars (you can look at my December 31, 2013 post to see why I liked the first three films), so not surprisingly the same three top my list of preferred films of those nominated this year for best picture:

List of Nominated Films from Favorite to Least Favorite:

1) Nebraska

2) 12 Years a Slave

3) Gravity

4) Captain Phillips - This may be Tom Hanks best performance as the captain of ship boarded by pirates. His breakdown at the end of the film is quite powerful.

5) Dallas Buyers Club - Again, great performances especially by Matthew McConaughey and Jered Leto as AIDS patients. But I didn't like the way the film embraced the thinking of understandably desperate and at times irrational activists of the eighties. One might think from the film that doctors and hospitals were evil for denying some AIDS patients the drug AZT because they wanted to perform studies with placebos. Then we learn that doctors and hospitals were evil because they were giving patients too much AZT. And unlicensed medical clinics in Mexico were the true cutting edge of technology. And, of course, the only people more evil than Big Pharm are Republicans. But the film captures the time quite well and tells a powerful story. Plus, it has bull riding as many more films should.

6) Her - Lesser Charlie Kaufman (Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine on the Spotless Mind are examples of his bizarre magic realism) is still a good thing. For some reason, I never quite warmed to Joaquin Phoenix as a man who falls in love with his operating system. And there are scenes of "phone sex" that range from very funny to awkward and uncomfortable.

7) American Hustle - In the tradition of The Sting and the Oceans film, a con film set during the Abscam scandals of the '70's and '80's. Decent twisty plot, but there is less to it than the film makers seem to think is there.

8) The Wolf of Wall Street - For the third time, we go retro, into the '90's. At three hours, this tale of debauched, greedy stock traders is at least an hour too long.

9) Philomena - Really dislike this film. It purports to be true story of the journalist who helps a woman find her son who was taken by Irish nuns. And the journalist lectures about journalistic ethics that compel him to tell the true story. But the film makes up things, like a bonfire of convents records which didn't happen. It also has a brutal confrontation at the end of the film of the woman with a nun, who in the real world had been dead for years. We learn that nuns and the Catholic church are even more evil than doctors and hospitals. But not Republicans. We're reminded in this film that they are the worst.

Now, as for what's likely to win?

1) 12 Years a Slave (not just a good film, but a film Academy members can pat themselves on the back for voting for)

2) Gravity (perhaps the most widely liked film, perhaps a consensus pick)

3) American Hustle

4) Captain Phillips

5) Wolf of Wall Street

6) Her

7) Dallas Buyers Club

8) Nebraska

9) Philomena

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