My personal favorite movie of all the best picture nominees. It is about an older man played by Bruce Dern who has won the mail order sweepstakes for a million dollars and aims to claim it by making his way from Montana to Nebraska and bonds with his son in the process as well as reconciles his past. I loved it because it is all about relationships which can be ugly, sweet, bitter, humorous and loving just like life.
2. 12 Years a Slave
Is the pick for best picture nominee and I believe would be a major upset if it did not win. It is the true story of a free black man (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) living in the northern United States in the mid 1800’s who is a professional musician and family man who is abducted and sold into the south as a slave for twelve long years. This is a very difficult movie to watch as it looks at slavery in all of its gruesome details. Yet it is important at the same time for us a country to remember how far we have come and of course the many areas we still have to grow for racial equality. Tough and powerful, definitely not a date night movie but rather fosters empathy and soul searching.
3. American Hustle
Out of all the best picture nominees for 2013 this is easily the most fun. It is a crime scene comedy drama loosely based on real events from the 70’s and 80’s. The is a star studded movie with Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence bringing outstanding performances across the board. Bale and Adam’s characters are former con artists who are busted and forced to work for the FBI confronting politicians, petty criminals and the mafia. See it for the stars, great acting and fun.
The middle of the pack:
4. Philomena: True Story of a faithful catholic woman who had extramarital child taken by the Catholic church and the journey to reconnect decades later. Happened to thousands. Insightful, emotional and surprisingly funny.
5. Dallas Buyers Club:True story, McConaughey, insight into scary times of the 80’s for people with AIDS and big pharma.
6. Captain Phillips: true story, Tom Hanks and Somali Pirates dueling at sea. World wide inequality and suspense.
7. Gravity: Sandra Bullock and George Clooney alone in space! Claustrophobic and suspenseful.
My bottom two movies out of the nominees are not bad movies in the sense of bad writing, acting, directing etc. but rather the subject material they take on.
A futuristic sci-fi movie starring Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams and Scarlett Johansson’s voice. In a not too distant future technology is completely immersive so much so that Phoenix’s character develops an unlikely relationship with his new advanced AI operating system.
The reason I did not love this film is because it hits too close to home for what the future may hold. I am not the most optimistic about the future primarily due to climate change but if that does not have the feared dramatic results this movie seems like a very realistic possibility especially as we live more and more of our lives online and people in Japan are already marrying video game characters! It may be a brighter future than global economic crash and mass extinctions but I am not loving it.
9. The Wolf of Wall Street
If Her is a future that frightens me The wolf of wall street is a present that enrages and scares the hell out of me. It is rare that I will not sit the entire way through a movie but I made it a little over halfway through Scorsese’s take on wall street which is based on actual accounts. To summarize Wall street is a boy’s club fueled by greed, testosterone, crack and prostitution. It used the F word over 500 times and in many cases is glorified pornography that I am sure was close to receiving an NC-17 rating.
The terrifying thing about this is that many of our “best and brightest” have gone into this industry rather than something less soul crippling because of the promised rewards. Jordan Belfort the character who Leonardo takes on served 22 months in prison but now walks free while our prisons swell to record amounts with non violent poor. WTF!?
Also it is worth noting that five of the nine movies pass the "Bechdel test". For those of you unfamiliar to this term it is very low bar used to measure movies to see how they value women characters. Essentially it asks three things: Does the film have at least two named women? Do they speak to each other? And do they speak about something that isn’t a man? Doesn't seem too tough right? You can probably guess which ones do NOT: Wolf, Her, Captain Phillips and Gravity (not many characters).
I didn’t want to end with the Wolf of Wall Street so instead I’ll share my two favorite movies from 2013 neither of which were nominated for best picture.
Has it all romance, time travel, great acting, a lil cheese, and funny moments mixed with the tear inducing. It teaches us to cherish the most important things in life which are relationships with those we love. Time is always slipping through our fingers and you never know how long we have with those who really matter.
The end of a dramatic trilogy 20 years in the making. Before Sunrise (1995), and Before Sunset (2004) set the scene for this movie where Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy’s characters now have children but are still an everyday intriguing couple in love. See all three! Be forewarned though these are almost completely dialogue driven movies if that’s your cup of tea dive in but start with the first one.
So what do you think!? Do you agree? What are your picks out of the nine nominees or faves from all of 2013?