Since the only thing I dislike worse than awards shows is the Super Bowl, I thought now would be the perfect time to write about some Oscar nominees. Quick and dirty, and 95% spoiler free.
I don’t always agree with the Academy, though I’ll begrudgingly admit that I can see why movies and actors might want the credential attached to them.
Nowhere do we differ more than on Boyhood. Oy. If the Golden Globes are any indication, I would spend the majority of the Oscars in a perpetual state of outraged disbelief (if I watched them). I didn’t object too much until we reached the end of the nearly 3-hour runtime and I realized that yes, it’s true, nothing was going to actually happen in this movie. I’m hardly Indiana Jones, but even I’ve had occasionally exciting things happen to me, like the time our house burned down when I was 9, or my emergency I-almost-died appendectomy the same year (it was the worst year of my life). NO-THING happens in this movie. And if you ask me, three hours to tell a story about nothing is pretty indulgent. The brou-ha-ha about filming the same child actors over twelve years seems like purely a distraction technique. But the Globes people loved it. WHY. Next time I sit through a 3-hour movie, there damn well better be dragons and magic rings involved. -2 out of 5 Shameless PR Stunts
Another film that boasts a gimmick is Birdman, namely that the entire movie is shot in one take (though a scene or two later on make it obvious there’s some sleight of hand at work). The difference is despite the gimmick, there’s actually a good story here. Michael Keaton is mesmerizing as an ex-superhero who may or may not have been Batman (the film dances on the line masterfully–he’s not Batman, but anyone who was around back then will spot parallels). The supporting cast is equally brilliant, particularly Ed Norton as the flashy, cocky veteran actor who’s there to lend the show some credibility. In fact, the more I remember this movie the better I like it. It reminded me of Mickey Rourke’s The Wrestler, a has-been desperate to relive his glory days, or at least be back on top (however, whereas the world was done with the Ram, it seems everyone wants the Birdman to put the cowl back on). 4 out of 5 Seamless Camera Tricks
Wild is one of those inspirational, against all odds films like 127 Hours, where the dramatic tension is unfortunately somewhat spoiled by the knowledge the protagonist survived to write about it. Still, this doesn’t lessen how amazing it was for a young woman to make such a spur of the moment journey alone, with zero training and even worse preparation (she packs more things than she can carry, yet somehow doesn’t realize she has the wrong propane fuel for her stove until the first night on the trail. I don’t even take a two-hour mountain bike trip without twice as much water and snacks than I’ll need. You can bet your sweet bippy if I was hiking 1100 miles for the first time, I’d take a dry run in the backyard (or a 7-Eleven parking lot); but then, not everyone is as control freaky as me). But the film interweaves flashbacks explaining why she decided to do it, making a movie about hiking effectively compelling and ultimately emotionally satisfying. 4 out of 5 Badly Fitting Hiking Boots
Big Eyes. I’m as big a fan of Tim Burton as anyone who claims to be a big fan, but even I have had to face the fact that his films are becoming increasingly terrible. The best description I found was an article that said “at some point he stopped trying to make good movies and just decided to make movies with Johnny Depp.” Johnny isn’t in Big Eyes, which is certainly a step in the right direction. Add Amy Adams and especially Christoph Waltz, and there may be hope for you yet, Tim. Needless to say they’re both excellent. In fact, my favorite thing about this film is it’s virtually unrecognizable as a Burton movie. Apart from one hallucination scene, there are zero fantasy elements here, which is as it should be, and even Danny Elfman got to spread his wings a bit and create a non-Elfmanesque score. However, is it Oscar worthy? Based on my opinion of Boyhood, and the fact that my two favorite movies of 2014 (see previous post) are nowhere to be seen, clearly I’m a little unsure about the Academy’s criteria. Aside from Waltz’s hilarious courtroom performance (where he thinks he can defend himself just because he watches Perry Mason), I hate to say the rest is pretty forgettable. It’s not bad, just not award material (unless the Academy really likes the sound of “Three time Academy Award winner Christoph Waltz”). 3 out of 5 Scoundrel Art Thieves
The Imitation Game. Here’s what I really wanted to talk to you about. Keep in mind I’m very, very, very biased by my love of Benedict Cumberbatch. The man can do no wrong in my book, and it’s not that he did wrong here either. When my fellow fangirl and I heard he’d be playing a homosexual we became very excited, even though the odds of seeing him snog a bloke were slim to none. Sure enough, he doesn’t (although he can be heard saying “being accused of entreating a young man to touch my penis”; WE’LL TAKE IT), but that isn’t my problem with the movie. In fact, I had no problem at first, thought it was well done and moving. I even liked Keira Knightley for the first time, mainly because it was the first movie I’d seen that wasn’t about her being so beautiful and everyone falling in love with her.
It wasn’t until I went to Rotten Tomatoes and noticed one negative review amongst all the positive. I clicked on it indignantly, thinking “What’s your deal, jerkface?” And ended up agreeing with him.
If you don’t know, Alan Turing was a mathematician who invented a machine to break the Nazi code and help win the war. This machine is considered to be the precursor to modern computers. Pretty significantly valuable contributions to the world, no? As thanks, because he was discovered to be gay, he was offered two years in prison or chemical castration. He opted for the second and then killed himself a year later. As jerkface points out, the movie barely touches on this (it’s covered mostly in text screens). The movie is all about his machine and hardly anything about the man himself; just like what history had done to him before his story started being told. Again, worth a watch, but try to ignore that it’s missing the human side of the story. 3 out of 5 Jerkfaces That Turned Out To Be Right