Academy Awards Dump (2014)

Well, it's that time of the year again. Here are my thumbnail reviews of the best picture films for 2014 being honored at the 86th - that's right eighty six of these things have transpired - Academy Awards this weekend. Will I watch? Doubt it, because True Detective is on HBO at the same time and it's better than almost all of the movies nominated this year.

Before going any further let me say that expanding the number of films from 5 to whatever is a big mistake - the Academy doesn't pick better films just because it can pick more. This years nominees prove the point so here's the scoop.

American Hustle - This years Argo. A nostalgia piece for the 65 and older crowd who actually vote for the winner. Makes me sweaty with anticipation for the Iran-Contra epic that will be honored at the 96th Academy Awards. Great acting, direction and design, but the same problems that sunk Argo infuse this manipulative fiasco. If there wasn't a slave and transexual movie in the running it would probably win, but it won't.
Captain Phillips - I'm a pirate fan, but this can't be what I have in mind when I think "pirate movie" - in short, I have as much interest in this movie as I did in last years "Flight" staring the black Tom Hanks. Pass.
Dallas Buyers Club - Good stuff. The nitty gritty of the AIDS plague and what those who contract the virus must do to treat their symptoms (i.e. fight the power). The world is hard on trannies and if you didn't already know that then you will after seeing this movie. Best actor for MatMc but he really deserved it for Mud.
Gravity - Epic, Awesome, Profound, Moving, Magnificent - Best movie of this bunch by a mile and best movie from a studio in years. Yes, the effects are amazing. Yes, the acting is top flight. Yes, the story is exciting and disorienting. But it's the philosophy infused in this film that sets it apart and elevates it above the rest. See it and you'll be thinking about it for months - if that doesn't happen then see it again.
Her - ARRRGH. Spike Jones strikes again. Stick to music video's dude. Artsy fartsy meditations about a lonely "writer" who talks to Scarlett Johansson while he's alone. In bed. At night. Someone should do a mashup of this slog with his last feature length creation - Where the Wild Things Are - and see what gets pored out of the blender.
Nebraska - ARRRGH. Alexander Payne slaps again. The Whit Stillman of the mid-west has given us another meditation on bland - this time in Black & White. What's next? A silent movie, oops, probably shouldn't have suggested that.
Philomena - Dame Judy searches for her 50 year old baby. Zzzzzzzz.
12 Years a Slave - Django Chained! A welcome relief from the comic book treatment of slavery that Hollywood usually foists upon the mindless public. Brings last years idiotic Lincoln down to earth and strangles it in a muddy swamp. Hard to see how this one doesn't capture the prize - slavery, Southern aristocracy, Steve McQueen is the real deal and it's a powerful story. I do have to say that it's kind of strange that it took a band of Englishmen to make this movie - I guess Lee Daniels was busy making The Butler for Oprah.
The Wolf of Wall Street - 20 years ago Marty Scorsese made a movie titled The Age of Innocence and since that time it's always struck me as kind of odd that he can't make movies outside of his social milieu. It's like watching My Fair Lady's Eliza Doolittle talk about high society or aviation or finance - her pronunciation would be flawless but she'd obviously get the truth of it all wrong. Now, ask her to talk about life at the flower stand in Piccadilly Circus and she'd hold your attention for hours. Rumors are that a Sinatra film is in the works with Scorsese at the helm so we'll see him back again soon with a better movie.

So that's it. All in all a really lousy year for movies. Aside from Gravity I can't think of one that really grabbed me.

Comments

D.W.I. said…
Ring loud. Ring Clear. Good stuff. Speaking of mashups, The Wolf of Wall Street and Blue Jasmine could be combined into one good movie. On one side you have the film maker that may be moral (Scorsese) making a morally bankrupt Dionysian festival to celebrate the rip-off men in our society and on the other side the director who may or may not be a very sick and twisted dude (Allen) making a very moral film about the after-effects of being complicit in self-seeking, rule-breaking behavior.
ChasMath said…
I'd go for that. DiCap & Kate B. in a mad capped caper about greed and it's after effects. Maybe they could call it Manhattan Casino.
Unknown said…
Gravity was incredible - and incredibly far fetched...Perseverance like all the virtues is important, even if your conscience comes in the form of George Clooney (check your head).
ChasMath said…
That wasn't her conscience - it was God answering her prayer through a dream.
Earlyman said…
George Clooney is my co-pilot!

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