Klendathu Drop

29 year old male NYC film critic.

Posting thoughts about movies, life, love, politics, etc.

Posts tagged oscars

Mar 1

My Collected Reviews Of The Oscar Nominees Of 2014

For my full predictions, click here

American Hustle - Click here

"David O. Russell is not one of our “great” filmmakers, and that’s ok. His ‘American Hustle' is, like the best moments in his filmography, a great pleasure to sit through, but his films have now settled into that sloppy ramshackle method of storytelling that highlights actors and downplays escalation or stakes-raising in any real way, even when the script demands it. He’s something of a serious David Wain, in that respect, though with greater empathy for human beings.”

Captain Phillips - Click here

"And yeah, it’s tense and suspenseful and Greengrass knows how to tell a story through this action-chaos method that he’s perfected, but so what? How many movies can Greengrass make where the white American has to battle the dark-skinned foreigner? He would be Hollywood’s red-state secret weapon if he hadn’t blown $140 million on ‘Green Zone,’ which pretended that the general public would care that we went to war in the Middle East under false pretense. When he makes ‘United 93,’ it’s interesting. When he gives the defense department a freebie with the glamorous, politically-cynical ‘Bourne’ films, its understandable escapism. What do we call it now, where Phillips leads a primarily white crew (black crew members have no dialogue) against the blackest men of any mainstream Hollywood release this year? What am I saying? I’m just saying that you start to wonder about this Greengrass character. That’s all. For now."

Gravity - Click here

"This is probably the most immersive, transporting 3D I have ever seen. You step out of the dark theater as if you are just leaving from a particularly nerve-wracking space flight. There are moments in ‘Gravity’ where I didn’t seem to realize doing fear acrobatics in my chair. For the first time in my entire life, I was so terrified at points that I lifted my hands to my face. You can’t intellectualize these responses, they are different for everyone else, though I wouldn’t be surprised if I wasn’t the only one making an absolute fool of myself during this movie."

Her - Click here

"There’s something funereal about this, as if he’s keeping alive the memory of two people long gone. The argument seems to be that society doesn’t miss the loss of sincerity and affection, because we’ve learned to re-create it so well already. Of course, that’s because of people like Theodore, the star of the office, who excels because he still knows what it’s like to be wounded, to feel. You know immediately where Jonze stands on the issue of whether we bleed makes us human or not."

Nebraska - Click here

"As much as it pains this member of the Will Forte Fan Club to say this, he seems genial but out of his depth alongside Dern, who seems too bright but is otherwise fairly convincing as a bitter old man. Were the picture only about these two, it would carry similar (not equal) weight as David Lynch’s “The Straight Story.” Unfortunately, Payne loads the picture with several dopey bumpkin stereotypes just itching to get a taste of the money (including a literal Tweetledum-Tweetledee pair of brothers), artificially stretching the narrative to the breaking point. June Squibb brings considerable pluck and resolve to the role of Dern’s put-upon wife, but soon the movie finds itself leaning too hard on her aw-shucks plainspokeness. By the time she’s flashing the grave of a former suitor, you get the sense Payne’s lost the story a bit."

Philomena - Click here

"Interestingly, Stephen Frears’ gentle film doesn’t treat the mystery like a mystery, allowing actual journalism and a little canny legwork reveal the truth behind Philomena’s grown child. But the picture bogs itself down in scenes of Coogan’s atheist and Dench’s believer having stupid tit-for-tat conversations that secretly build a respectful friendship that we couldn’t care less about. A legit film about this topic would be rousing and intriguing. A lightweight road movie with a doddering old bag and her vain associate just doesn’t properly compensate."

The Wolf Of Wall Street - Click here

"Ultimately, there’s something very American, nakedly so, about The Wolf Of Wall Street, which will keep allowing the film to be debated years from now. If it’s out there, you can take it, even if others suffer. The Academy isn’t a goodwill organization. They have no need to be polite, or to reflect the ideal status of the world. This is Best Picture, not Nicest Picture. By the way, 42 years ago, another film with a central criminal figure won the Best Picture award, even though it committed the sin of depicting terrible, selfish, bloodthirsty acts on film, almost as a tacit endorsement of them. That movie was The Godfather.”

Blue Jasmine - Click here

"One of these victims is Augie (Andrew Dice Clay), Ginger’s working class husband. Their initial meeting reveals the distance between the two of them. Augie, a blustery, talkative type, barely fits his broad shoulders into his cheeseball windbreaker and Hal reacts as if he’s worried he’ll catch gangrene, clutching the lapel of his suit. It’s a small role with a number of standout scenes, but would you guess that Clay, the former shock comic, gives one of the film’s most real and lived-in performances? Clay’s always been cinematic: he holds the center of Renny Harlin’s gonzo action noir The Adventures Of Ford Fairlane with ease. Now he gets to be tragic, and he’s every goombah on the corner with a broken heart and a wasted life, cursing the sky.”

August: Osage County - Click here

"Everyone, even the Golden Globes, seems to be aware that ‘August: Osage County' is a comedy. Everyone except TV director John Wells, one in a long line of television helmers with no visual style whatsoever who is entrusted with great actors and chooses to just put the camera on a tripod. This feels like a satire played straight, an emotionally-sprawling drama about a Southern family who can’t seem to get their shit together when their patriarch dies, letting out a treasure chest of family secrets. There’s some good dialogue, some yelling, but it’s all pretty skin-deep. See it with someone who wants a movie to sleep during.”

The Wind Rises - Click here

"Perhaps it’s fatalistic that Miyazaki feels humans destroying other humans is inevitable. Making the decision to do better, and to establish bonds from within seems to be the mission statement."

The Grandmaster - Click here

"And yet, Wong Kar-Wai remains one of the world’s most sensual filmmakers. The story feels slim, an afterthought: the picture is paced by the separation of action sequences, doled out with grace and comfort. But this isn’t even an action picture, but a ballet: when Tony Leung folds into his character of Ip Man, his kicks and punches feel like dance moves. The non-lethal aspect of many of the picture’s battles suggests a poetic eroticism, particularly in the scenes with the forceful Leung and the gorgeous Zhang Zi-Yi. Their bouts of combat, lightened with flirtation, are some of the most romantic moments of the year."

Inside Llewyn Davis - Click here

"This is a film about a young artist who has pissed away his goodwill and entered the ‘failure’ stage because of an absolute reluctance to please others, a refusal to compromise in the face of the pressures of the real world. If you’ve ever borrowed too much money, broke someone’s heart, gone from couch to couch or absorbed a beating because you suspected it was deserved, this movie will resonate with you. Keep it away from a loved one who might just realize how stubborn, selfish, petty and ultimately human you really are. And, please oh please, see it. A Coen Brothers film is like a seed, one that grows into a beanstalk on second viewing, and this is one of their tallest heights."

Prisoners - Click here

"What I wouldn’t give for another version of this film told from the perspective of the less-driven parents of the other child, played by Terrence Howard and Viola Davis, possibly called, “These Crazy White People.” There’s a patronizing point to be made about an ongoing system of abuse here, but one that’s trapped underneath so many heavy-breathing suspense-thriller revelations that you thank the gods that director Denis Villenueve got his hands on the material, and not someone like rumored first choice Antoine Fuqua, who surely would have made an actioner where executive producer Mark Wahlberg busted down doors everywhere screaming, ‘Doo youz guys know what happened to my dawtah?’"

The Great Gatsby - Click here

"The experience of watching ‘Gatsby’ is also not unlike being drunk. At first, it’s a rush of colors and layers (the 3D is a wonder) as we take a dizzying tour into Gatsby’s world, where even the simplistic act of throwing shirts at the screen becomes the onscreen creation of an endless layering universe that weirdly reminded me of the doors sequence in ‘Crimewave.’ Soon, the parties stop, and people sit down, but the camera keeps moving, the rooms keep spinning, and you begin to regret ever sitting down to watch this ridiculous movie in the first place. Like in the book, Nick is our protagonist, but he is only a bystander in a late-film encounter between the main cast where Gatsby and Tom feud over Daisy’s intentions rather than her affections. This scene is abrasively long and disjointed, made even more uncomfortable by Daisy’s emotional distance and confusion, and it perfectly captures the feeling of boozing too much and watching everyone else either sober up and/or make terrible decisions. It helps that Tobey Maguire makes for a terrific reaction shot."

The Act of Killing - Click here

“‘The Act Of Killing’ is a mesmerizing doc, one that will haunt you long after you’ve left the theater, and most assuredly a must-see, a tonic to this year’s onslaught of blockbusters that have consistently trivialized the idea of death.”

The Broken Circle Breakdown - Click here

"A wonderful cocktail of European sexiness, bluegrass music and unexpectedly pointed politics. An exhausting, affecting film, there was nothing quite like it at the movies this year."

Omar - Click here

"Ultimately, ‘Omar’ gambles too hard on the side of propulsive action setups. The logic of the film starts to slip in favor of thriller tropes where everyone and no one is a suspect at the same time. And a late-film love triangle seems like a cruel complication for a film that otherwise reveals compassion in its characters for the tough choices that must be made. By the film’s third act, alliances are made and broken, but the film doesn’t even properly establish a time frame for these actions, particularly given Omar’s under-developed, under-explained home life. You can feel the film slipping away as certain characters begin to fondle the triggers on their guns, and as the picture stretches what could be a taut, involving short into feature length."

Saving Mr. Banks - Click here

"Of course, the crowning stroke is the 20% of the movie dedicated to Travers’ childhood, where we’re forced to endure Colin Farrell’s obnoxiously plucky alcoholic dad, a flighty sort you might remember from any number of intolerable stories about “magic parents” that never misses an opportunity for playtime and finds enough opportunities to clown while a disapproving woman (here Ruth Wilson) angrily crosses her arms. It’s movie mythmaking for morons, and if you’d like, please help yourself, and try not to speak to me."

Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom - Click here

"Much of that comes from Idris Elba’s powerful performance. Elba is a beautiful man, with smoothly contoured skin and a soft smile. While he looks almost nothing like Mandela, his speech patterns are similar, and his thick-barreled chest helps spotlight the skinnier Mandela’s similarly broad shoulders. Elba makes Mandela into a bit of a sex symbol in early scenes – when his shirt comes off, it’s something of a revelation – but it fits with the idea of establishing that he was an outlaw, powering the African National Congress to take aggressive action against the government’s uneven policies and thinly-justified racism."

All Is Lost - Click here

"The film is always darting around the ship, but Redford often stops, and we’re allowed to watch him think. It’s impossible for a film buff to look at that face under siege and not think this is a legend in crisis mode, that it’s the industry that threatens to push Mr. Sundance to the margins. Ultimately it’s a sea change, and there isn’t much one of the godfathers of contemporary independent cinema can do but survive."

Lone Survivor - Click here

"The bullets growl through the scenes, and the puncture wounds are notably real and grotesque. This is a film made by people who have gotten shot, and the sensation of these men taking a slug or two from an unending avalanche of artillery is disquieting, certainly not fun. Berg doesn’t seem to have a consistent vision here. In some cases, he layers on the violence and these soldiers end up leaping tall heights, busting out full runs, and taking a couple of hot slugs. In others, the soldiers use their pinpoint precision to take out enemies one by one with a series of single shots that maximize bullets and minimize fuss."

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - Click here

"This movie has even less of its protagonist than the first film, drowning Martin Freeman’s Bilbo Baggins under a mess of coincidence and happenstance that includes Luke Evans’ seafaring rogue who… let’s face it, Hollywood, you’re not going to make Luke Evans happen. It all hinges on a conclusion that hammers home the fact that a third film promises only eight hundred more climaxes, a few winks to the “LOTR” films, and more dragon shit. At this point, Jackson’s ingenuity remains, but if you were to replace him with Rob Bowman at this point, would anyone give a shit?"

Iron Man 3 - Click here

"In spite of that snoozer of a finale, I deeply appreciated how this film subverted the politics of the previous two films to make a point about the fearmongering of the military-industrial complex. Also, maybe the funniest of these silly superhero films thus far."

Star Trek Into Darkness - Click here

"And reinvent he has. Abrams has jettisoned any sort of intellectual curiosity and spirit of adventure from this title, one he’s treated as a brand name ready to be stuffed with used parts from other films. What’s more, this is a film that emphasizes plot points and secret twists as if they advance the story: given that none of the characters know the name “Khan,” the reveal that “John Harrison” is a fake is a surprise that doesn’t move the story along and it doesn’t deepen the narrative. Instead, it flatters the audience for The Wrath Of Khan as if it was a secret society who still remembers that thirty year old film. Star Trek used to challenge the audience to think differently, to engage with the world with a new, more welcoming spirit. This new Trek only seems interested in providing a service, one that involves mimicking the biggest films of the last twenty years, specifically the ones with the biggest massacres. You wonder what Abrams, a sentimental anti-intellectual who has never directed a single memorable frame in his entire career, has planned for the less-rigorous fantasy world of Star Wars, and how it will inevitably lead Hollywood full steam ahead into a creative Darkness.”


Nov 4

HANDICAPPING BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

For reference, click here.

ANNE HATHAWAY, LES MISERABLES - B, E, F
Hathaway’s character is dying of consumption, which is a plus. But she steps out of the narrative for a long time after the first act, which is a minus. But there’s another plus, that being Hathaway as someone the Academy adores, enough that she was able to deflect most of the criticism from her hosting gig. Also, Warner Bros. has a well-meaning Best Actress campaign in place for her in “The Dark Knight Rises,” which won’t hurt.
AMY ADAMS, THE MASTER - C, E, G, H
Again, the usual Oscar buttons are being pressed her, but in an unusual way. She has an off-putting nude scene, and another troubling sexual moment soon afterwards. Her relationship with Dodd is purposely unclear, leading some to speculate she’s playing his daughter. And she may or may not be a villain in this film, but Jesus Christ is she terrifying.
SALLY FIELD, LINCOLN - A, E
Field won thirty years ago, and most seem to forget she’s actually a two-time winner. Most would also assume that was some sort of typo, as Field, a legendary ham, seems to have conned her way into being credited as Acting Royalty. No matter — as long as she’s not awful (not a sure bet), she’ll be riding the “Lincoln” nomination wave.
HELEN HUNT, THE SURROGATE - A, G
Bumping her to supporting reads like category fraud, but it also calls attention as to how stupid it is to structure and divide acting performances as if they were dinner plates. So whatever — Hunt makes the “brave” move of being nude a whole bunch in this film, which is compounded by her being based on a real person, even if it’s someone for whom the voting bloc would be unfamiliar.
ANNETTE BENING, IMOGENE - B, F
That fifth spot seems like a tough one in this category, though Bening quite literally is Movie Royalty, having been married to Warren Beatty for years. Here, she gets to booze it up and ham her way through this film, which just might be enough to get that nod.
MAGGIE SMITH, BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL - F
The great Dame has yet to win, but she’s been so prolific, even in her older years, that voters are very likely to bow. Now, will they remember this film, which was a breakout hit in the spring? Hard to tell.
JACKI WEAVER, THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK - E
Weaver has about twenty lines in this film, and half of them are incidental filler. But if people like the picture, she could grab a nomination simply for reacting to the mental instability of Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert DeNiro. Nice work if you can get it.
SHIRLEY MCCLAINE, BERNIE - A, F
Roadside Attractions is going to campaign for her, as they should. But she’s certainly overshadowed by the career-best work from Jack Black (seriously!) and the fact that her character is mostly absent from the second half of the film. Given that this is such a small picture, those odds might be insurmountable.
ALICIA VIKANDER, ANNA KARENINA - D
“Who is she?” will read the narrative. And she’s good, but there’s not much to her character, and not a lot of love for this movie. Perhaps she should have played her character with a hook for a hand.
KERRY WASHINGTON, DJANGO UNCHAINED - B, E
If the picture is a huge favorite amongst the Academy, they’ll reach and pick on her. But all signs say she’s not going to have a role big enough for the final five.

HANDICAPPING BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

For reference, click here.

PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN, THE MASTER - A, C, F, H
A mortal lock, even if the qualities that make this performance more obviously Oscar-friendly seem mercurial. How much of Lancaster Dodd is based on L. Ron Hubbard? How much of this film takes place during World War II? And is Dodd really a villain? Hoffman’s got one Oscar on his mantle, and most expect he’ll have another couple more one day. Also, Best Supporting Actor is the ONE category where you can’t win without an incredible performance, and guess what? Here’s one.
ROBERT DE NIRO, THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK - B, D, F
DeNiro’s got the perfect double whammy - some still consider him an Oscar perennial, and others think he’s due, given that it’s been more than twenty years since his last nomination. It doesn’t hurt to remind an entire generation that this guy can act. His performance here is a gently-realized depiction of a long-suffering, undiagnosed OCD sufferer, meaning he gets to play a disease in a big Oscar movie, a golden opportunity. DeNiro’s got two of these awards already, but most rightly believe he’s the best thing about this probable Best Picture nominee.
TOMMY LEE JONES, LINCOLN - A, E
Another former winner, Jones is playing backup to DDL in the Oscar machine that is “Lincoln.” Jones, who won for the silly “The Fugitive,” may rightly believe this sort of thing is beneath him and won’t campaign, but he’s one of the few actors that could pull off such a move and still be considered an industry fave.
LEONARDO DICAPRIO, DJANGO UNCHAINED - F, H
The whole “Oscar nominated leading man” thing didn’t work for DiCaprio, so an outsized villain role was just what the doctor ordered. If “Django” is recognized by the Academy, his is the most likely performance to break through. DiCaprio keeps getting nominated for similar roles - alpha male toughies. The voters will appreciate the change-of-pace.

MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY, MAGIC MIKE - D, G, H
There was a point when McConaughey was considered one of the top leading men in Hollywood, but also something of a party-boy punchline who shied away from heavyweight acting. But as the distorted mirror image to the title character in Steven Soderbergh’s unlikely blockbuster, he turned heads, in a way which validates his recent experimental phase that saw him give excellent performances in this year’s “Killer Joe” and “Bernie” as well. His first nomination would be an acknowledgement of a career arc, and voters eat that up.
HAL HOLBROOK, THE PROMISED LAND - D
The nice way of saying this is the bullshit way — Holbrook got an “almost dead” nomination for only a few minutes in “Into The Wild,” his first ever. Five years later, and the guy’s still around. Another “almost dead” nod is certainly a possibility, though no one has seen this yet.

RUSSELL CROWE, LES MISERABLES - E, H
Inspector Javert is a role tailor-made for Oscar consideration, and if “Miserables” scores nods in a bevy of categories, Crowe could be whisked into the top five. The voters know history — Crowe’s Oscar-winning performance in “Gladiator” is probably the weakest of an incredible run of early-aught turns, some of which were never once noticed by the Academy. Everyone knows the guy’s got chops, and now he gets to sing. If Crowe is great in the role, people will notice. If he’s not, it’s certainly still possible he‘ll be nominated.
ALAN ARKIN, ARGO - E, F
“Argo” is a likely Best Picture nominee, but the performances are mostly functional. If anyone is noticed, it would be former winner Arkin, who is playing a savvy Hollywood producer, and if there’s anything last year proved, it’s that Hollywood loves to honor it’s past. Complicating matters is the fact that, in a riveting true story, Arkin’s character is actually the biggest completely fictional element.
ALBERT BROOKS, THIS IS FORTY - D, F
Also known as the Make-Em-Up. Brooks seemed like a frontrunner to win the Oscar last year, having grabbed a slew of critics awards for “Drive” until the Academy shut him out completely. He could be back as the standout performance in this film, though, again, no one’s seen it. Brooks is loved within the industry, however, and even critics of “Drive” acknowledge Brooks’ lack of recognition seemed like an oversight.
IAN MCKELLAN, THE HOBBIT - E
Christ, this shit again.

HANDICAPPING BEST ACTRESS

For reference, click here.

JENNIFER LAWRENCE, THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK - B, E, F
Coming off an Oscar nomination for “Winter’s Bone,” the young Lawrence is extremely well-liked within the industry and is garnering the most attention among the cast of one of the more likely Best Picture frontrunners. So who cares if she’s playing Juliette Lewis circa 1995? She gets to be both attractive and mentally-damaged, which the more patriarchal members of the Academy just loooove. And even though it was a terrible film, the widespread public adoration for “The Hunger Games” led to first-half talk that she might be recognized for that movie in the Oscar race. Never underestimate someone attached to two lucrative franchises (“The Hunger Games,” “X-Men”).
QUVENZHANE WALLIS, BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD - D
Aw, it’s post-Katrina New Orleans (liberal guilt) but she’s so adorable (cheap seats) and black (liberal guilt again)! She would be the youngest winner of the prize, and while the film has supporters, it also has some seriously nagging detractors, suggesting the only way they can agree on anything is by praising the little girl at the center of the picture.
MARION COTTILARD, RUST AND BONE -B, G
Marion, a previous winner, also benefits from a tenuous connection to the second biggest film of the year, “The Dark Knight Rises.” Here, she plays a woman with no legs, but she also faces her character’s sexual challenges head-on. Hollywood wants to make sex look unenjoyable, but they’ll totally root for it if it’s experienced by the handicapped.
EMMANUELLE RIVA, AMOUR - B, D, G
She’s freaking dying, Academy! Give her the Oscar! Riva is fantastic as an expiring elderly woman in Michael Haneke’s confrontational film, and it’s tough to watch for anyone who has ever lost someone to Alzheimer’s. And if there’s anything the Academy loves, it’s stuff that’s hard to watch (see: Tracy Jordan). Riva’s also a first-timer in the Oscar race, giving her a freshness not shared by some of the other candidates. And hey, hard-to-watch nude scene alert!
KEIRA KNIGHTLEY, ANNA KARENINA - E
A little reluctance plays into this nomination, as it’s hard to shake the fact that Knightley and company have done this sort of thing before. Of course, one could argue what’s keeping her from winning is the same thing that keeps getting her nominated - at such a young age, this ain’t her first rodeo.
HELEN MIRREN, HITCHCOCK - A, F
When Mirren walks onto the Oscars scene, she walks onto it LIKE A BOSS. However, in this case Mirren could be overshadowed by co-star Hopkins, as “Hitchcock” is seen as something of a showcase piece for him. There’s also the suggestion that an actor of Mirren’s power is wasted in the role of the emotionally-abused wife in the shadow of a male legend.
NAOMI WATTS, THE IMPOSSIBLE - E
Most voters probably haven’t seen it yet, and among them, there could be the suspicion that this is a genre thing. So people need to, one, see the movie, and two, forget that Watts is so good all the time that most voters ignore it. This isn’t seen as much of a performance film, though, but if it breaks through, she’ll be the most likely cast member to earn recognition.
MARY ELIZABETH WINSTEAD, SMASHED - B, D
Road to Hollywood glamour? Don’t wear makeup, and pick up an addiction. So it goes for Winstead, who takes on alcoholism in this indie. Few people expected Winstead, a geek favorite for roles in “The Thing,” “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World” and “Live Free Or Die Hard,” to start trying some serious acting, but here she is, a possible career revival that could lead to… more comic book roles, if the rumors about the “Captain America” sequel are true. Unfortunately, the smallness of this movie could hold her back, as not only does she share most of her scenes with Aaron Paul and Nick Offerman (very good, but associated with smaller screens) but the picture barely limps to the eighty minute mark. Perhaps if they set it during World War II…

ANN DOWD, COMPLIANCE - D, H
People who have seen “Compliance” absolutely HATE the character played by never-nominated Dowd, an unthinking restaurant manager who forces a girl to undergo an extended psychologically-abusive battery of assignments by order of a fake cop on the other end of the phone line. So the relatively unassuming Dowd actually comes across as quite memorable in the film, despite not being an extroverted character, and very much a believably absent-minded professional. The fact that you couldn’t pick her out in a crowd is a strength in a crowded field like this. The fact that no one has seen the movie is a decided negative.
MERYL STREEP, HOPE SPRINGS - F, G
No one liked this movie, and those who did quickly forgot about it. But never underestimate Meryl Streep.

HANDICAPPING BEST ACTOR

For reference, click here.

DANIEL DAY-LEWIS, LINCOLN - A, F
Day-Lewis is considered acting royalty, and he’s playing a beloved President. You really don’t get more Oscar-y than that, to the point where the award has been wrapped between his Presidential, shoe-making fingers since the role was announced. It’s up to everyone else to pry it away from him.
JOAQUIN PHOENIX, THE MASTER - B, C, D
Phoenix recently spoke out about the Oscar campaigning process, which along with a yearlong departure from acting to document “I’m Still Here” effectively makes him a person of interest. It’s simply gravy that a brief scene reveals him to have fought in the Great War, and that the film’s suggestion is that it left him half-retarded.
JOHN HAWKES, THE SESSIONS - A, B, D, G
It is a MAJOR Oscar score when an actor can stumble upon a subject both real and tragic, as Hawkes did as his handicapped onscreen avatar in “The Sessions,” the late writer Mark O’Brien who appeared in the Oscar-winning short “Breathing Lessons.” Hawkes is an extremely well-liked character actor in Hollywood who worked his way up to critically-acclaimed, and now finally leading-man, status. The unexpected bonus is that the film deals with the character’s desire to lose his virginity, leading to “The Sessions” spotlighting overly-frank onscreen discussions and depictions of sex that are sterile, innocent, and wholly within the wheelhouse of the Academy bluehairs.
DENZEL WASHINGTON, FLIGHT - B, F
Two-time winner Denzel has more than his fair share of supporters in Hollywood, so anytime he wears a serious face in a half-decent movie, he’ll earn Oscar talk. This isn’t one of his better roles, but it represents a high degree of difficulty given the character’s debilitating addiction to drugs and alcohol. Great actors playing addiction puts a sexy face on a troubling subject, which always excites voters.
HUGH JACKMAN, LES MISERABLES - D, E, F
Jackman, a leading man for a consistent decade now, has yet to receive a nomination. Part of that has to do with the quality of work, though few would doubt he was superb in the otherwise-ignored “The Fountain.” Some of those people, who once scoffed at that film’s pretension, could still be in the Academy. The others, who understand the politics behind a Jackman nomination (the industry loved his hosting gig at the Oscars a couple of years ago) would happily endorse him, as he’s considered one of the industry’s good guys, an action hero who can sing, dance, emcee and spout adamantium claws. Also, he’s in “Les Mis.”
BILL MURRAY, HYDE PARK ON HUDSON - A, C, F
Fading fast from the race, it’s likely Murray and company pressed those Oscar buttons a bit too hard this time. A war-time President certainly sounds like exciting awards fodder. But the fact that he’s played by a guy Hollywood LOVES, and who has become an annual fixture in Oscar prognostications as if any former “SNL” cast members are owed Academy recognition, and it just seems a bit excessive.
ANTHONY HOPKINS, HITCHCOCK - A, F
Hopkins is acting royalty, and playing one of the all-time great filmmakers seems like a nice play for awards attention. But I’m still waiting on more advanced word before I bump him up in the rankings. He’s probably great, but Hopkins is one of those actors for whom greatness has become an expectation, not a surprise, and it’s probably cost him a second Oscar somewhere down the line.
JAMIE FOXX, DJANGO UNCHAINED - B, E
Foxx overcame “In Living Color” to earn two nominations, and one win, in a previous year (“Ray” and “Collateral”), and for that, he’ll always be a contender. But he’s done a lot of forgettable work since then, so it’s not acknowledged that he’s one of Hollywood’s few justifiable Oscar winners. He’s also playing a slave, which means his race is in play, but it’s a decidedly non-tragic representation that may seem unfamiliar (and scary!) to some voters.
RICHARD GERE, ARBITRAGE - D, F
The role, and movie, are certainly nothing special, a 90’s-flavored potboiler where Gere plays yet another upper-class douchebag. But would you believe Gere has never been nominated for an Oscar? That alone makes good copy, as Gere is always been considered a reliable leading men who often allows supporting players to reliably grab the spotlight. The amount of “Finally!” headlines his nomination would generate is beyond quantifying.

Feb 26
EVALUATING THE BEST PICTURE NOMINEES
THE TREE OF LIFE
Oh, look, it’s the best movie of the year. Read more here…
Replace It With: Up yours.

EVALUATING THE BEST PICTURE NOMINEES

THE TREE OF LIFE

Oh, look, it’s the best movie of the year. Read more here

Replace It With: Up yours.


EVALUATING THE BEST PICTURE NOMINEES
THE HELP
You know, racism is always going to be a hot button issue, so while it’s a black eye on this country, it’ll always provide entertaining drama at the movies! So let’s make another! Hm, what have previous films of this ilk been missing thus far. Sassy Mammys? Nope, got it. Cartoonishly racist white people that are completely, hopelessly outdated to make the overt racists in the audience comfortable? Got it. Cicely Tyson? We’ve got that covered. Oh, I know what we need!
SHIT PIE.
No, the compelling tension between hired hands and their rich white employers just ISN’T COMPELLING ENOUGH. This joke about feces being baked into an (apparently?) delicious pie? Make that into a SUBPLOT. Stretch that shit out, enough to make this movie’s runtime approach “The Tree Of Life”. Later on, make it overt, have one character say “eat my shit” because we were too subtle before, and then later threaten the racists with a GIANT PHALANX OF PIES POSSIBLY MADE OF SHIT. Goddamn, we’re classier that a buttload of Picassos.
Racially, there’s so much wrong with “The Help” that I don’t know where to start. But my biggest problems stems from two sources. One, the shit pie story takes up about a quarter of this film’s runtime. If you’re going to do that, be John Waters. Don’t stretch it out like it’s some sort of GIANT CLEVER TWIST that no one will see coming.
The other issue is that Hollywood can’t seem to make a movie about minorities without having a white leading character. The story of racism must be told… through the eyes of Emma Stone! She’s the lead character in someone else’s story, and it only makes sense as a nakedly commercial concession. If I may spoil this movie because who gives a shit, Ms. Stone gets to live the life of her dreams when her work transcribing the maids’ issues gets her a job out of town at a big publication. The maids? STILL FUCKIN’ MAIDS.
Replace This With: Christ, anything. I dunno, something with black people not leading embarrassing lives playing second fiddle to frizzy haired white saviors. “Pariah” was pretty heartfelt, low-key, human, and filled with great unsung performances. Let’s go with “Pariah”.

EVALUATING THE BEST PICTURE NOMINEES

THE HELP

You know, racism is always going to be a hot button issue, so while it’s a black eye on this country, it’ll always provide entertaining drama at the movies! So let’s make another! Hm, what have previous films of this ilk been missing thus far. Sassy Mammys? Nope, got it. Cartoonishly racist white people that are completely, hopelessly outdated to make the overt racists in the audience comfortable? Got it. Cicely Tyson? We’ve got that covered. Oh, I know what we need!

SHIT PIE.

No, the compelling tension between hired hands and their rich white employers just ISN’T COMPELLING ENOUGH. This joke about feces being baked into an (apparently?) delicious pie? Make that into a SUBPLOT. Stretch that shit out, enough to make this movie’s runtime approach “The Tree Of Life”. Later on, make it overt, have one character say “eat my shit” because we were too subtle before, and then later threaten the racists with a GIANT PHALANX OF PIES POSSIBLY MADE OF SHIT. Goddamn, we’re classier that a buttload of Picassos.

Racially, there’s so much wrong with “The Help” that I don’t know where to start. But my biggest problems stems from two sources. One, the shit pie story takes up about a quarter of this film’s runtime. If you’re going to do that, be John Waters. Don’t stretch it out like it’s some sort of GIANT CLEVER TWIST that no one will see coming.

The other issue is that Hollywood can’t seem to make a movie about minorities without having a white leading character. The story of racism must be told… through the eyes of Emma Stone! She’s the lead character in someone else’s story, and it only makes sense as a nakedly commercial concession. If I may spoil this movie because who gives a shit, Ms. Stone gets to live the life of her dreams when her work transcribing the maids’ issues gets her a job out of town at a big publication. The maids? STILL FUCKIN’ MAIDS.

Replace This With: Christ, anything. I dunno, something with black people not leading embarrassing lives playing second fiddle to frizzy haired white saviors. “Pariah” was pretty heartfelt, low-key, human, and filled with great unsung performances. Let’s go with “Pariah”.



EVALUATING THE BEST PICTURE NOMINEES
HUGO
Running a little behind on these, I suppose.
"Hugo", sadly, reminded me of movie supernerds, the people who feel no amount of suffering can equal the great achievements of the silver screen. These people have principles, but they lack faith in humanity, they lack empathy. They’re the equivalent to movie Republicans. Yes, that tsunami was a true disaster, but can you believe "Sunrise" isn’t on Blu-Ray?
I do hope Martin Scorsese is not that type of person, or he hasn’t grown nearly as cynical in his old age. Though the traces of his cynicism are there - gone is the poetry in which Jake LaMotta punched his soul to death, leaving a bloated corpse in search of humanity. In its place is the wonton savagery of the modern world, the viewpoint of “The Departed” - everyone’s out to get their’s, and if you get yours, you’ll probably, eventually, take a bullet for it. Did you really care what happened to Amsterdam in “Gangs of New York”, or were you more interested in mustached misanthrope Bill the Butcher?
Hugo Cabret’s heartbreaking milieu is this broken-down train station, where he has to make ends meet despite having no home, no parents, and no money. He can only find sanctuary once he’s escaped the clutches of the local officer who seeks to take him to what we assume is a nightmarish orphanage. He knows he cannot have his parents back, but he feels that if he can just rebuild this one robot, it will tell him the long-lost message his father bestowed onto him.
Instead, it tells him about Georges Melies, the great filmmaker who now works at the same train station and, somehow, has been forgotten by everyone (except for, I guess, Air). And soon, Hugo realizes his purpose in life is to bring this sad, elderly man out of the doldrums and resurrect his life’s work.
And this passage of the film is packed to the brim with a genuine love of cinema. But yeah… what about this kid’s parents? What about his suffering? You could argue this is one of many films where a kid realizes a family is only as good as you can make it, but the movie doesn’t even really acknowledge Hugo’s journey. I appreciate Scorsese using a blockbuster kid’s movie template to sneak in lessons about the old days of cinema, but at least be convincing that you might give a shit about your LEAD CHARACTER. This movie is called “Hugo”, right?
Late in the picture, Melies’ wife reveals to Hugo that he couldn’t, and shouldn’t, understand such pain, referring to Melies’ losing his life work. I dunno, ma’am, the kid is homeless with no friends and no family and he lives in a train station. I think he’s got an ok pain threshold.
Replace It With: As reverential this film is to Melies’ “A Trip To The Moon”, wouldn’t it be great if you represented a movie recreating and appreciating art like “The Mill And The Cross”? This picture quite literally delves into the world of the classic painting “The Way To Cavalry” in a completely immersive experience that overshadows Scorsese’s attempt to enliven old cinema by reflecting it through 3D.

EVALUATING THE BEST PICTURE NOMINEES

HUGO

Running a little behind on these, I suppose.

"Hugo", sadly, reminded me of movie supernerds, the people who feel no amount of suffering can equal the great achievements of the silver screen. These people have principles, but they lack faith in humanity, they lack empathy. They’re the equivalent to movie Republicans. Yes, that tsunami was a true disaster, but can you believe "Sunrise" isn’t on Blu-Ray?

I do hope Martin Scorsese is not that type of person, or he hasn’t grown nearly as cynical in his old age. Though the traces of his cynicism are there - gone is the poetry in which Jake LaMotta punched his soul to death, leaving a bloated corpse in search of humanity. In its place is the wonton savagery of the modern world, the viewpoint of “The Departed” - everyone’s out to get their’s, and if you get yours, you’ll probably, eventually, take a bullet for it. Did you really care what happened to Amsterdam in “Gangs of New York”, or were you more interested in mustached misanthrope Bill the Butcher?

Hugo Cabret’s heartbreaking milieu is this broken-down train station, where he has to make ends meet despite having no home, no parents, and no money. He can only find sanctuary once he’s escaped the clutches of the local officer who seeks to take him to what we assume is a nightmarish orphanage. He knows he cannot have his parents back, but he feels that if he can just rebuild this one robot, it will tell him the long-lost message his father bestowed onto him.

Instead, it tells him about Georges Melies, the great filmmaker who now works at the same train station and, somehow, has been forgotten by everyone (except for, I guess, Air). And soon, Hugo realizes his purpose in life is to bring this sad, elderly man out of the doldrums and resurrect his life’s work.

And this passage of the film is packed to the brim with a genuine love of cinema. But yeah… what about this kid’s parents? What about his suffering? You could argue this is one of many films where a kid realizes a family is only as good as you can make it, but the movie doesn’t even really acknowledge Hugo’s journey. I appreciate Scorsese using a blockbuster kid’s movie template to sneak in lessons about the old days of cinema, but at least be convincing that you might give a shit about your LEAD CHARACTER. This movie is called “Hugo”, right?

Late in the picture, Melies’ wife reveals to Hugo that he couldn’t, and shouldn’t, understand such pain, referring to Melies’ losing his life work. I dunno, ma’am, the kid is homeless with no friends and no family and he lives in a train station. I think he’s got an ok pain threshold.

Replace It With: As reverential this film is to Melies’ “A Trip To The Moon”, wouldn’t it be great if you represented a movie recreating and appreciating art like “The Mill And The Cross”? This picture quite literally delves into the world of the classic painting “The Way To Cavalry” in a completely immersive experience that overshadows Scorsese’s attempt to enliven old cinema by reflecting it through 3D.



Feb 21

Jumpcut Junkies Ep. 31 from Nick Rumaczyk on Vimeo.

The Jumpcut Junkies return.

In this lengthy installment, we discuss all the nominees for Best Picture. We also discuss golf vs. soccer, “Margaret” and, shudder, READING. Please pass this on, let it play in the background, listen intently, discuss it with others, share your thoughts, opinions, concerns or general criticisms. Just watch.


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