12 Years a Gravity Hustle

12 Years a Gravity Hustle

Tonight is the Oscars, ask the biggest film award ceremony in the world. Like some of the nominated features, this year is proving to be a nail-biter. It’s unusual to see such a dead heat; Gravity, 12 Years A Slave, American Hustle are all considered Tinseltown’s favourites to win. We all have our personal picks but ultimately the Academy will choose what it chooses. So, to break it down further here is my two cents regarding some of the top contenders tonight.

12 Years A Slave

This historical account of a free black man being kidnapped and sold into slavery in the South is as gut-wrenching as it is hopeful. It is brutally difficult to watch without being unnecessarily gratuitous. In fact, the raw depiction of slavery is so powerful that it makes this the most thought-provoking and emotive film of the decade…easily. Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup is remarkable, drawing the audience into his personal hell in a way few actors are able to do. Although the Best Actor category is filled with worthy nominees, I hope Ejiofor is granted top prize. Also Steve McQueen is deserving of Best Director as his handling of this difficult subject matter was masterful. Overall, I consider this to be the one film this year that is both artfully and technically triumphant. That it brings to the screen such an important historical issue makes it all the more compelling as Best Picture.

Gravity

This year’s runaway hit stars Sandra Bullock as a medical engineer aboard a space shuttle that gets destroyed by space debris. The rest of the film shows her and George Clooney doing everything imaginable (and unimaginable) to survive and get back to earth. As I watched this epic 3D thriller I screamed, jumped out of my seat several times and had a heart rate of about 140 the whole time. It is definitely a great visual accomplishment and proves to be an immensely entertaining film. That said, I found the screenplay to be contrived at times as our doomed heroine contemplates the afterlife in a way that seems a little too forced and unlikely for someone in her situation. Regardless, it is a technical masterpiece and deserves all the tech awards. As great as Sandra Bullock is in Gravity, she’s not going to win Best Actress as the category is filled with far greater performances (Judi Dench or Cate Blanchett are far more likely to take home the statuette). A very likely win here could be for director, Alfonso Cuarón. If Steve McQueen wasn’t in the running, I’d say Cuarón deserves it completely.

American Hustle

Set in the 70’s in New York, American Hustle is a crime caper that exudes equal amounts humour, drama and suspense. If the Oscars had a “Best Ensemble Cast” category, I’d vote for this film. Everyone in this movie is at the top of their game. Of course, they fill the best acting categories. Unfortunately, none of them will win. Why? Because, while this film is excellent and memorable, it lies in the shadow of  a couple other slightly greater films. It’s a shame really. This is a fantastic movie that I’d watch over and over. I have no doubt it will win best Original Screenplay. Unfortunately, I don’t see it winning much more.

The Wolf of Wall Street

Leo plays a crafty stock trader in the 80s who builds a massive financial empire by swindling people out of their money. I loved this film as I watched it. It’s Scorsese’s funniest and most over-the-top venture yet. The story is unbelievable. The characters are larger than life. Crazy things happen that will make you laugh until your sides hurt. On top of that, apparently it’s based on a true story. But as I walked away from the movie, it dawned on me…that was horrible. Scorsese took a really awful character (Jordan Belfort played by Leonardo DiCaprio) and made the audience love this guy. I mean he beats his wife and tries to kidnap their daughter, but soon you’re smiling again as he carries out his business antics with an enthusiasm that draws you in. There is even a scene near the end where he’s giving a speech to his staff and centres out a woman in the crowd who was once a single mom who needed a job and he gave it to her because he’s such a “good” guy. Now she’s at the top as one of the company’s VPs. All because he was her saviour. Really? This guy is the scum of the earth. But Scorsese intentionally creates a film that elevates this creep, making him out to be something he’s not. And myself and millions of other movie-goers fell for it. That said, I don’t believe this film should or will win anything. Leo’s great, but any one of a dozen actors could have done what he did. Oh and this movie was three hours long. Seriously, talk about gratuitous. They could have easily cut out an hour and it wouldn’t have impeded the story or the film at all.

Dallas Buyers Club

Another true story (that should be the theme of this year’s ceremony), Dallas Buyers Club takes us back to the 80s when AIDS was becoming a frightening reality for many Americans. At a time when there are very few medical solutions an unlikely hero (Ron Woodroof played by Matthew McConaughey) rises up and smuggles an effective yet FDA-unapproved drug into the US. The story is amazing and brings to light the plight of AIDS patients as well as the disgraceful system that oversees drug approval in America. McConaughey gives the absolute best performance of his career. The screenplay is brilliant as well. It’s hard to say what awards this important movie will garner. I wouldn’t be surprised if McConaughey wins Best Actor. Jared Leto is great as a supporting actor, but will lose to Michael Fassbender for sure. Regardless, I think its great to see this little-known film get some much deserved attention.

This has definitely been a great year for Hollywood. The Best Picture category is full of really brilliant films. While I think (and hope) 12 Years A Slave will clean up overall, I have no doubt Gravity will take all technical awards. Unfortunately, I’m afraid some great movies like, Captain Phillips and Nebraska, while nominated in many categories will walk away with no statuettes. So, I think its important that we as the audience, while celebrating the winners, should also pay close attention to all the nominees. They are all there for a reason. They are all great in their own way.


About the Author

Craig the Critic

Comments:

  1. Hey Craig! Enjoyed your perspective, and overall, great call!!! It is always painful to watch only one movie or actor(ess) be the winner when really, all are deserving. My only critique of your critique is about 12 Years… though Chiwetel was obviously the star, rarely does one have the ability to shine so strongly without some equally strong performances that surround them. In 12 Years, I believe he shone so strongly due in great part to Lupita’s performance as well. Her’s was graceful and yet so painful to watch… enduring her captor’s abuse while seemingly going a bit mad at that same time and absolutely riveting as we watched her mad and tragic journey. SHE was truly the bright light at the Oscars… luminescent in beauty, speech and dress!!!

    With DBC, I wasn’t shocked that Jared won, lots of buzz about him and I think alot of that was due to the p/c’ness of supporting the subject matter. I think Fassbender was robbed on that one.

    These Oscars started out strong but as usual, undoubtedly due to time constraints, it lost steam as it went along. Ellen was fantastic and I was roaring in my seat at the Fox Theatre, but she seemed rushed halfway thru it. I could almost feel the director of the Oscars telling her to cut this or that and just get to the point. BUT… BRILLIANT going out into the audience for pizza and selfies!!! Fresh, classic and tons of fun!!! Reminding us these people that are stars, are really just people. BTW: Love Jennifer Lawrence but she always seems like a deer caught in the headlight… I like it but getting a bit old… at this point some polish is required…. and Jennifer Garnier… always… WOW!!!!

    • Hey Mike,
      Thanks for your comments. I agree. Chiwetel, while amazing, was bolstered by those around him, no doubt. And I feel absolutely the same about Fassbender being robbed. Leto was great, but let’s face it, a dozen other actors could have did what he did…they just might not have all been as pretty 😉 But seriously, Leto was great and DBC was an important film that I was glad to see celebrated. But Fassbender’s portrayal of a slave-master was so true, palpable and intense…I was stunned he didn’t win. Him and Lupita were, hands down, the greatest performances of the year.

Leave a Reply