It’s “Oscar” week! Chapter 1: Overestimated nominees

Another year,  another “Oscar” awards.  For ten years now I’ve been watching Awards closely and every year I had my share of guesses about who will win, why and most important who won’t and why. This year is one of the best in the last few, as nominees are concerned. But still, in my personal opinions three very good movies aren’t among the nominees and some which shouldn’t be there are nominated. Nevertheless, you can’t please everyone, right?

In this text I will focus on overestimated nominees, and for the sake of argument, explain why in my humble opinions they shouldn’t be nominated, and also I will point out which movies should be on the list but somehow they’re missed by the Academy voters.

Big three that is nominated, and my humble opinion is that there are better movies in the past year are: Gravity, Her and Captain Phillips.  I would rather see Prisoners, Rush and Blue Jasmine as the nominees, and The Hunt too is great choice.

1. GRAVITY/RUSH

Gravity is a spectacle. Direction of the movie is stunning, effects are wonderful. That’s about it. I have several major issues with Gravity. Sandra Bullock (don’t understand her nomination before Emma Thompson) and George Clooney are main characters in a movie that is by most critics pronounced one of the best “space movies” in history. Not only that I disagree, but I also see major plot-holes in the script. Again, typical cliche is used. Incompetent Russians (it had to be Russians, they are archenemy obviously) have destroyed their satellite and our protagonists are struck by the debris and forced to survive in the hostile environment, without support and oxygen.  They try to reach Russian (again) space station, and during that time Bullock’s whining is remarkably done. Clooney, as her opposite and more experienced colleague is making bad and unnecessary jokes and sacrifices himself in the process without any valid reason to do so. Russian station is broken-down (hey, it’s a wonder) and Sandra Bullock is actually driving the shuttle in her underwear. Nice. That’s a classic. But all that could still be forgiven, regarding great direction and visual effects if the last third of the film haven’t made Sandra in some sort of Bruce Willis and mentioning dead daughter (with curly hair if you doubted and didn’t relate to the character up to the point) and her lost shoe was just too much for any sensible SF lover. Chinese station is also derelict and falling into the atmosphere (yeah, and Chinese are communists too). Few good moments and major plot issues are reasons why such a movie (as my friend said, very irritant “Titanic” in universe) shouldn’t be among the nominees for this year.

Rush  on the other hand was great and deep movie which wasn’t only about F1 drivers, it was about relationship of the rivals, friendship and respect and it was wonderfully made human drama with great acting of Daniel Bruhl and Chris Hemsworth respectively. It also had great effects, more real human moments and script that was consisted through the whole movie. It’s a big mistake that Rush isn’t nominated in the “Best Picture” category, and Daniel Bruhl should also be nominated in one of the male categories. Rush was one of the great movies in the 2013. and it’s beyond my comprehension why was completely dismissed by the Academy voters.

2. CAPTAIN PHILLIPS/PRISONERS

Captain Phillips, movie that was announced as one of the most important movies of the year with Tom Hanks as a lead actor, seemed as a safe bet as the nominations go. I said seemed, because then I actually watched the movie.

Captain Phillips wasn’t a bad movie, based on a true story, about the kidnapping of the Captain by Somalian pirates it was very entertaining and suspenseful through the first half of the movie. Somewhere in the middle, it became just one more thriller.  Danish film A Hijacking was a much better take on the same subject. Captain Philips is a good movie, but it’s not better then the next movie I will write about, which is also unnoticed by the Academy voters.

Prisoners, on the other hand is one of the best thrillers in the past few years. Great performance by Hugh Jackman and wonderful direction and storytelling made this film one of my personal Top 10 in the last year. Story about a father who will do anything to find his young daughter which was kidnapped, risking prison and nervous breakdown is one of the best stories about love and kidnapping in the past year. Prisoners are definite nominee in comparison to Captain Philips in every aspect of film-making but Academy would disagree, obviously.

3. HER/BLUE JASMINE

HER is romantic SF movie of  director Spike Jonze, starring Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson and Amy Adams. First fifteen minutes of the movie are very promising, and social critique is great. People that aren’t only people anymore, but they’re becoming addicted to the computer software (or something similar, social network maybe) isn’t so far fetched but the dialogues in the movie are on the level of teen SMS sending, and while acting of JP is great, story which unfolds in front of us is just bad in every aspect of valuable SF and love story. It isn’t a good love story and it isn’t a good SF. I have a feeling that Jonze wanted to say a lot at once instead of just focusing on one or two main stories. Pity, it had a lot more potential than it achieved in the end.

On the other hand, Blue Jasmine by Woody Allen is great retelling of Elia Kazan’s classic Streetcar named desire. For their roles Cate Blanchett and Sally Hawkins earned nominations in their categories, and Woody Allen wrote a wonderful modern take on a well known story. Blanchett is magnificent in the movie and her emotions seem so real that you can really feel the madness and distress in her. Vivian Leigh as original Blanche Dubois and Brando as original Kowalski would be proud, I think because this modern version of the story is made by the great director with great actresses and yet with a similar point to the original. In this movie we have insight in the life of the Jasmine before she was forced to live with her sister. Insight that original story of Tennessee Williams couldn’t give.  I really don’t understand how come that this great movie wasn’t nominated in “The Best Picture” category.

In the end, choices of the critics aren’t always the choice of the Academy, and views expressed in the text above are only my own taste. Taste is something, as old Latin would say, that shouldn’t be discussed. But I really don’t understand where’s the fun in that?

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