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3/3/14

OSCARS 2014 - VERDICT


So the Oscars happened.

And, barring a couple of slight surprises, it pretty much went down as you'd expect.

On that note, let's take a look at the main winners of this year's ceremony as I share my thoughts about the Academy's decisions with y'all:

BEST PICTURE

12 YEARS A SLAVE


Not a huge surprise but it's good to see 12 Years A Slave win for Best Picture nonetheless. Gravity winning this one would have really been a kick in the pants for a superior film that was actually about something. Steve McQueen's film was one of the best of last year, for sure, and, although it was a tough watch, it was so well made and performed that it never got preachy or dull, instead keeping us captivated throughout, worried for Solomon Northup's (and Patsy's) well-being. Powerful, brilliantly acted, boldly directed, 12 Years A Slave contained some of the most powerful images in any film from last year and the raw cruelty depicted certainly got its point across. A deserved win.

BEST DIRECTOR

ALFONSO CUARON


As much as I like some of Alfonso Cuaron's past work and he's by no means a bad director, literally all the other nominees in this category would have probably made more convincing winners. The worst part of the criminally overrated Gravity may not have been the direction but when you've got the likes of Steve McQueen, Martin Scorsese, Alexander Payne and David O. Russell competing, all with a fantastic new film under their belt, it's a little odd to see the director of a not-very-subtle CGI green-screen fest win the Oscar. Not that The Wolf Of Wall Street was at all subtle, mind you, but it never claimed to be. It's the fact that Gravity also won for Best Sound and Best Score that really pisses me off, though. Truly hated the sound and the score particularly in that movie.

BEST ACTOR

MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY


Now I'll admit, this was a surprise. Not a bad surprise, mind you, just a surprise. I really expected Chiwetel Ejiofor to run away with this one or Bruce Dern to pick it up for Nebraska, or even Leonardo Di Caprio to win it because the Academy usually doesn't like to ignore Mr Scorsese. That said, I would have been disappointed to see a film as good as Dallas Buyers Club walk away with nothing. McConaughey's performance in the film was both physically striking and perfectly crafted: creating a character you'd initially think it would be impossible to ever like and completely proving you wrong. This was a great year for McConaughey and, along with his bizarre turn in the series True Detective and his fun cameo in The Wolf Of Wall Street, this was one key performance to look out for.

BEST ACTRESS

CATE BLANCHETT


It really would have been an unfair shame for Cate Blanchett to be denied her deserved win following the scandal tornado surrounding director Woody Allen lately. For one thing, Blue Jasmine was a great film and a fascinating character piece, and Cate Blanchett was fantastic in it as the titular character who oscillates between charmingly eccentric and creepily insane throughout. It was certainly a far more convincing and substantial turn than that "French" spy she played in The Monuments Men. In Blue Jasmine, anytime she's on screen you can't look away, she's always expressing a bag of emotions or saying something subtly biting or cruel. Another deserved win, for sure.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

HER


Although I personally wasn't impressed by Spike Jonze's screenplay for Her and actually found said script to be the film's biggest, most glaring flaw, I found a way to accept this win gracefully: pretend like Jonze won it for Where The Wild Things Are, the superior film in my opinion. I love all of the director's pre-Her work so, in a way, it's good to see him win something but Her's hardly Adaptation so it's also somewhat bittersweet. This would have honestly been the perfect moment to give American Hustle a little win since the screenplay for that was actually sharp, very funny and much more subtle than you'd think. You saw those characters you thought were two-dimensional grow gradually and reveal more and more about their personalities, ultimately giving you people you felt like you understood. Only character I really felt like I understood in Her was that rude little dude from Theodore's video game...

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

12 YEARS A SLAVE


Whether the film was a worthy adaptation of Solomon Northup's actual account of what happened to him, I can't really say since I have yet to read the book but it, I imagine, must have captured the raw emotional and physical nightmare that Northup went through as well as a film could. A very strong, harsh screenplay which the actors and actresses really managed to sink their teeth into and bring to life.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

JARED LETO


An actor playing a transgender woman in a movie about AIDS was never going to be ignored by the Academy, let's be honest here. That said, it's hard to deny that Jared Leto's daring performance makes an impact in the film. Managing to stand out in a movie where McConaughey is firing on all cylinders couldn't have been easy and yet Leto brings enough life and charm to Rayon to make her one of the film's best assets. It's also another impressive physical performance since Leto lost a huge amount of weight and, like McConaughey, pulled off a brilliant anti-Christian Bale which earned him big.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

LUPITA NYONG'O


I was certainly afraid that Jennifer Lawrence would somehow win this one despite Lupita Nyong'o clearly deserving the award the most for her stand-out powerful performance in 12 Years A Slave. This couldn't have been an easy role to take on, Nyong'o's Patsy suffering through significant physical abuse from facial scars to rape and, in a particularly harrowing scene, an obscene, disgusting amount of lashes at the hands of Michael Fassbender's plantation owner's whip. By the end of the film, you'll certainly feel for Chiwetel Ejiofor's character but it's Patsy's tragic story you'll be left feeling long after the credits roll. The Academy got it right this time.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

FROZEN


Come on, Frozen was always going to win. Even with Hayao Miyazaki's The Wind Rises, as far as we know his final film, nominated and, perhaps, a more serious and Oscar-friendly in terms of theme. But there was no way it would ever beat the popular hit that is Disney's Frozen. Although, arguably not that much more substantial than Tangled, the film did a lot of things right: the songs were catchier (especially "Let It Go", of course), the film's central relationship was between two sisters, which is rare, and the whole thing looked amazing, especially in 3D. Barring some plot inconsistencies and a kinda rushed ending, Frozen was still a hugely entertaining and visually gorgeous animated feature with a lot going for it. An understandable win.

So that was my Oscar rant, here are more of this year's winners:

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: The Great Beauty

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: Gravity

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Gravity 

BEST SONG: Frozen

BEST COSTUME DESIGN: The Great Gatsby

BEST FEATURE DOCUMENTARY: 20 Feet From Stardom

BEST FILM EDITING: Gravity

BEST MAKE-UP/HAIR: Dallas Buyers Club

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN: The Great Gatsby

Overall, this year's Oscars weren't a complete disaster as some good movies got the awards they deserved. Shame Nebraska, The Wolf Of Wall Street and American Hustle got nothing but hey, it's still the Oscars: there was bound to be one major sell-out flick to win loads when it should have got very little!

*cough*

Gravity.

*cough* *cough*

Anyway, thanks for readin' and see you all at the Oscars next year!

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