Posted: February 11, 2014 in Entertainment, Movies, Reviews

It’s a tough year for Oscar predictions as there have been a bumper crop of great films, coinciding with a bumper crop in music as well.  Having seen most of the films this year, here are my personal choices.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS  :  Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle.  Is there anything that Jennifer Lawrence can’t do?  This over the top portrayal goes beyond anything seen in any of the other nominees.

BEST ACTRESS :  This is a really hard one.  Sandra Bullock is a one woman show in Gravity, -a very difficult thing to pull off.  Meryl Streep’s character was an extreme dramatic role, but the film makes it almost melodramatic, overdone and ultimately boring in its craziness.  My choice would go to Cate Banchett in Blue Jasmine, a role also full of craziness but kept interesting by the subtlety of the character and the twists and turns of the plot

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR   :  It is amazing to see Jonah Hill in The Wolf of Wall Street.  He is such an unlikely choice for that character, and he totally owns it.

BEST ACTOR  :  It is a very difficult choice between Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave and Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club.  Also, the strength of their lead roles is a big part of what makes these two films neck and neck for best film.  Personally, I would give the edge to McConaughey because of the extent of the transformation necessary for him to play the part.

BEST SCREENPLAY  :  Best Adapted Screenplay should go to The Wolf of Wall Street.  Because the roller coaster IS fun.  For Original Screenplay, I would give the award to Blue Jasmine, although all of the nominees are pretty even, all excellent.  (I confess, I haven’t seen Nebraska.)

BEST DIRECTOR  :  While Scorsese’s rollercoaster ride in The Wolf of Wall Street deserves an honorable mention, I think that the most difficult film to direct had to be 12 Years a Slave, if only for the sheer scope of the movie.

BEST FILM  :  There are many excellent choices here, but I think it is a tossup between Dallas Buyers Club and 12 Years a Slave.  Of the two, I consider 12 Years a Slave to be the more difficult film to get right, and so that would be my choice.  But only by a hair.

I haven’t seen Nebraska, and, as of this writing, Philomena.  Honestly neither one of them really appeals to me enough to go see it, although that’s what I said about Captain Phillips, which I liked.

What strikes me this year is the number of films which are very self deprecating of American culture, even if some are a more historical treatment of that theme.  12 Years a Slave is the most damning and condemning of the slavery films I’ve seen, and takes special aim at the white mentality during that period.  The Wolf of Wall Street is a stark condemnation of American capitalism out of control and the culture of excess that goes with it.  Dallas Buyers Club is full of ignorant, bigoted people, with the principal character starting out as one of them.  I understand that Nebraska is a bit of a downer as well.  Although not nominated as best film, August: Osage County has a lot of attention in other categories and is the story of family dysfunction carried to its ultimate expression.  As a season, it is roundly a condemnation of the American way of life, crushing any inkling of exceptionalism.  It seems a very harsh look in the mirror for America.

As for Captain Philips, how is it that a huge cargo ship doesn’t have the means to repel an attack by half a dozen amateurs on a motorized rowboat?  One AK47 or grenade launcher would have solved the problem.


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