Evaluating the Nominees

For the films of 2013
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Re: Evaluating the Nominees

Postby ITALIANO » Wed Feb 26, 2014 12:03 pm

At first, when I read Big Magilla's post, I saw that he had Wolf of Wall Street as his first movie of the Best Picture list and I thought for a moment - oh my God, the man has changed after so many decades! Miracles can happen! There's hope for anyone - EVEN Americans!

Then I realized that it was his LEAST favorite Best Picture nominee. Oh well.

Also, I find interesting that Big Magilla - who usually loves old actresses - didn't really like June Squibb in Nebraska (he says she's not Gloria Stuart in Titanic, and he's perfectly right). And I think that this means that hers is a really great performance - because it means that it's not cliched. Not only she isn't Gloria Stuart - she also isn't Maggie Smith in that Marigold Hotel movie. This is why he didn't get her - and this is why she deserves an Oscar.

But the most embarassing moment is when he, a longtime fan of Katharine Hepburn, calls Sandra Bullock's an "emotional tour-de-force". That's when I switched to mojoe92's list looking for depth and rationality.

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Re: Evaluating the Nominees

Postby Big Magilla » Wed Feb 26, 2014 11:18 am

There has been more nitpicking over the content of this year's films than any year I can remember, some of it justified, but most of it just plain silly. Leonardo DiCaprio is too old to be playing a 22 year-old; Judi Dench is too old to be playing a 71 year-old; Gravity is unrealistic; Captain Phillips wasn't a hero in real life and on and on. Well, so what. Movies have always stretched credulity. Leslie Howard and Norma Shearer were too old to be playing Romeo and Juliet but it didn't stop them from nominating Shearer for an Oscar; Laurence Olivier was too old to be playing Hamlet but it didn't stop them from giving him an Oscar; An American in Paris, to name but one Best Picture winner, was unrealistic; Braveheart didn't sleep with the Queen of England in real life but it didn't stop them from propelling the film toward five Oscar wins.

In reverse order:

Best Picture
9. The Wolf of Wall Street - it's not porn, but as Academy member "Pat" has said, it's soulless. This is Scorsese's least Oscar-worthy film since The Gangs of New York, if not Casino.
8. Philomena - Dench's beautifully controlled portrayal of an elderly woman in search of the child she was forced to give up fifty years earlier when she 21 and he was 2 is heartbreaking in its simplicity and forgiveness which buoys the film.
7. Nebraska - wonderful performance by Bruce Dern as an elderly man in the early stages of Alzheimer's and breathtaking black-and-white cinematography cannot hide the many flaws in the film which is supposed to be set in the present but seems more representative an earlier time when small towns devoid of young people was something new; gimmicky sweepstakes were used to sell magazines instead of gadgets and no one had a cell phone or computer.
6 - Dallas Buyers Club - highly evocative of a time and place even if the story is heavily fictionalized, with two unforgettable performances.
5 - American Hustle - the screenplay is full of yocks, but it's lazily written - not the least bit realistic to anyone who was an adult in the 1970s. Still, it's nice to see a comedy in the running for Best Picture.
4 - Captain Phillips - a rousing adventure film of the kind we almost never see anymore.
3 - Her - marvelously inventive look at a not too distant future.
2 - Gravity - breathtaking sci-fi effects support rather than hinder Cuaron's tale of hope and faith in a desperate situation.
1 - 12 Years a Slave - the same message as Gravity but set in a more harrowing time telling a even more desperate, albeit true story

Best Director
5 - Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street - lots of style, very little substance.
4. Alexander Payne, Nebraska - one man's vision expertly carried out.
3. David O. Russell, American Hustle - his best comedy since Flirting With Disaster.
4. Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity - a fully realized dream come true from concept to visualization with his expert hands on every aspect of the film. For virtuosity he deserves every accolade.
1. Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave - if we concentrate on just the directorial aspect of his film, McQueen outshines Cuaron even if the DGA and likely Oscar voters don't see it that way.

Best Supporting Actress
5. Julia Roberts, August: Osage County - why was she even nominated?
4. June Squibb, Nebraska - she hits all the right notes but something about the performance seems off to me. I can't help but thinking that a more experienced actress like Olympia Dukakis might have worked better. Yes, I know she's been around but her most significant role prior to this seems to have been her replacement as Miss Mazzeppa in the original Broadway run of Gypsy more than fifty years ago. She's no Gloria Stuart.
3. Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine - marvelous portrayal of a woman who hasn't had an easy life, the best thing about Woody Allen's over-rated film.
2. Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle - sassy, smart performance even if the character doesn't seem all that realistic. It was written as a part for an actress ten years older than her husband, which would have made it more poignant, but all the same it's a bravura piece of acting.
1. Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave - dynamite performance from a heretofore unknown. Her much talked about glamorous appearances on various red carpets may signal the start of a long career in Hollywood. Let's hope so.

Best Supporting Actor
5. Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street - a performance more worthy of a Razzie than an Oscar, what is the world coming to?
4. Bradley Cooper, American Hustle - a competent actor, but I don't get his sudden prominence as an award-worthy player.
3. Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips - marvelous performance by a non-actor. Not in the same league as Haing S. Ngor in The Killing Fields, but who is?
2. Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave - Oscar-worthy depiction of evil, but not this year.
1. Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club - beautifully under-played portrayal of an outsider longing to fit in. His final scenes are heart-breaking. There was no finer piece of acting this year.

Best Actress
5. Amy Adams, American Hustle - she was good, but hers was not the best performance available to represent actresses under 40 in what was an extraordinary year for older women.
4. Meryl Streep, August: Osage County - another technically good performance from Oscar's favorite actress, but the film is such a mess that I can't endorse the nomination.
3. Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine - Blanchett is a good actress, but most of her performances, this one included, fail to hide the acting. I know I'm in the minority on this one, but this one's an also-ran for me.
2. Sandra Bullock, Gravity - an emotional tour-de-force in a sci-fi film, a rarity to be sure and the under-rated Bullock pulls it off beautifully.
1. Judi Dench, Philomena - a lovely portrayal of a woman with a happy life behind her except for the one regret she's never gotten over. Dench's natural acting style has never been put to better use.

Best Actor
5. Christian Bale, American Hustle - a good performance, but was the nomination for his acting or putting on weight? Not his best work, and certainly not better than a lot of other actors who were ignored this year.
4. Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street - an actor's dream role, too bad the context it's used in isn't better.
3. Bruce Dern, Nebraska - a career high performance at 77, one of three nominees I would be more than happy to see take home the gold although I liked two others more.
2. Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club - a virtuoso performance by an actor whose career over the last two years more than makes up for the previous ten. Although it's little noted, he's also become a very generous actor allowing his co-stars to outshine him, Tye Sheridan in Mud and Jared Leto in Dallas, this year alone. He would also be a worthy winner.
1. Chiwetel Ejoifor, 12 Years a Slave - an emotionally riveting performance in what is to me the film of the year by an actor whose previous work in Dirty Pretty Things and Kinky Boots should have made him a star before this. I would love to see him win more than McConaughey or Dern, but any year in which there are three prospective winners I'd like to see in any category is cause for celebration. Hell, I'd even be happy to Leo win to make up for his loss in What's Eating Gilbert Grape twenty years ago. For me, this is the year's most exciting category.

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Re: Evaluating the Nominees

Postby HarryGoldfarb » Mon Feb 24, 2014 12:10 pm

Didn't know where to post this link but this seems a reasonably topic to do so. This is a video a just found on YouTube with the Best Picture nominees reenacted with kids. The last line was hilarious!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1w--HHuBKH4
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Re: Evaluating the Nominees

Postby ITALIANO » Mon Feb 24, 2014 3:49 am

This is like a Rorschach test to me... But one thing I find revealing: the (repeated) accusation of "porn" for The Wolf of Wall Street.

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Re: Evaluating the Nominees

Postby mojoe92 » Sun Feb 23, 2014 11:26 pm

My turn..

Best Picture

The Wolf of Wall Street- A 3 hour porn with a plot that makes Titanic seem like a 20 minute movie. They could have cut out an hour from this film and it would have been just as effective

Her- Or as I like to call it "Joaquin Phoenix falls in love with his cell phone" not only is it overly indulging in it's own farfetched plot but the whole film feels like a theatrically released lifetime movie

Philomena- A greatly effective film that deals with loss and the realization of the mistakes one can make in their lives. Easily the best film in the bunch and of the year

Nebraska- This to me feels like a sequel to On Golden Pond, the feisty wife, the old man looking for one more "hurrah" and who has a bad attitude, the estranged child(ren). It's just one big misstep on everything from the acting to the film as a whole

Dallas Buyers Club- One of my favorites of the year, it is a great portrayal of life in the AIDS epidemic, the only other film that I can think of that did it just as well is Longtime Companion.

12 Years a Slave- My 2nd pick for Best Picture behind Philomena. The story is heartbreaking and breathtaking. So much history is told in the celluloids of this film, from the tragic loss of a free life to being able to connect to each and every character through thick and thin. Simply amazing

Gravity- I didn't think I was going to like this film, a film I have retitled "Sandra Bullock floats in Space" but it is utterly enjoyable. Not as good as other sci-fi flicks like District 9 or Inception but in time it will be able to stand on it's own

Captain Philips- A mediocre script, followed by mediocre acting and direction gives us a mediocre film.

American Hustle- The biggest piece of shit to come out of hollywood in a decade. No plot, ATROCIOUS acting, and when your characters are talking like modern day hipsters in the 70's.... that's an issue

Actress-

Meryl Steep- An amazing performance by one of the greatest living thespians. One of her best to date

Judi Dench- Easily the best performance in the line up, heartbreak and wonder are combined to give us this tour de force performance

Cate Blanchet- We've seen this before, nothing new and exciting, she's good, but the character is recycled

Sandra Bullock- She's good, but lacks the ability of really drawing us into her character in a Sci-FI film. She's no Sigourney in Aliens

Amy Adams- HAHAHAHA no..... Waste of a spot for a nomination to someone else who really deserved it

Actor-

Bruce Dern- No, not good. Just as silly of a nomination as was his first one in Coming Home. Lack of good story and good acting. Plus Will Forte is the lead, Dern is the supporting, so category fraud.

Leonardo DiCaprio- I am not a Leo fan, but I am speaking in honesty. Leo will NEVER win a competitive oscar, he will have to go the Peter O'Toole/Kirk Douglas route to get one. His best performance to date was something I truly enjoyed him in and that was playing Kalvin in Django. If he can't get a nomination/win from that one he won't get a win from this one

Chiwetel Ejiofor- Great performance but personally I never connected with him until his final scene at the reunion with his family.

Matthew McConaghey- THE BEST of the bunch, you hate this man in the beginning for being so ugly and then you have no sympathy for him until you see he changes his ways of life/thinking. That is an actor.

Christian Bale- Again, waste of a spot for a nomination

Supporting Actress-

Lupita Nyong'o- The best of the group, not once does one fall out of love for Patsey, even in the darkest hours, all you want to do is hug and comfort her.

June Squibb- At times it's like she is reading from que cards, she's not good in her role but it's not all her fault, a shitty script and story don't help

Sally Hawkins- Still am trying to figure out what she did to garner a nomination....

Julia Roberts- The second best in this weak lineup, but she falls victim to the killer of trying to out steep streep

Jennifer Lawrence-....... still pissed at this bitch for robbing Quvenzhane Wallis of her Oscar

Supporting Actor-

Barkhad Abdi- Like Sally Hawkins' nomination I am trying to figure out why he was nominated

Jonah Hill- A nominated more gross and vile version of his character from Superbad

Jared Leto- The best. Holy fuck. Amazing. This is why the supporting category was created to showcase the amazing talent brought on from people like Leto. In his small time on screen he captivates the audience and I cannot wait to see him win on Sunday

Michael Fassbender- An apology nomination for snubbing him for Shame. Fassbender never has a "wow" moment and is overshadowed by the talent of Nyong'o especially amongst the others

Bradley Cooper- oiwerjwjhgew8ty0w4ugj9erg8erhf

Director-

Alexander Payne- A painfully boring movie. Sorry Payne, not going to cut it

Martin Scorsesse- If directing a 3 hour porn with a plot can get you a nomination than companies like Vivid, and Michael Lucas Ent need to take note

Steve McQueen- Simply put. BRAVO

Alfonso Cuaron- Great, and highly deserving

David O. Russell- fuck off

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Re: Evaluating the Nominees

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Feb 23, 2014 7:32 pm

ITALIANO wrote:This is my personal ranking. But if I were an Academy member I wouldn't necessarily vote this way. For example, it's clear that the only way to prevent Gravity from winning Best Picture would be voting for 12 Years a Slave...

But you do realize, with the preferential best picture ballot, as long as you have 12 Years above Gravity on your listing, that will count as a 12 Years vote in any Gravity-12 Years standoff -- even if you have the films ranked 8th and 9th?

A lot of us wish there'd been a preferential ballot in the US presidential race of 2000.

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Re: Evaluating the Nominees

Postby flipp525 » Sun Feb 23, 2014 5:08 pm

ksrymy wrote:4. Lupita Nyong'o. The worst part of her film. A caricature of the real women who suffered during this time.

I'd like to hear you argue how this is even remotely true.
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Re: Evaluating the Nominees

Postby ksrymy » Sun Feb 23, 2014 4:08 pm

Eh. Everyone else is doing it. Why not.

BEST PICTURE
1. Nebraska. Could it be that my midwestern roots make this film all the more charming? Probably. Regardless, this is a stunning film. The best of the year.
2. Her. A beautiful portrayal of technology meant to bring us together tearing us apart. The personal connection and oddity of the relationship dissolves immediately. It's a natural, beautiful thing. Joaquin Phoenix gives the best male performance of the year for the second year in a row.
3. The Wolf of Wall Street. As Italiano put it: this is - simply - cinema. I think it's Scorsese's best since The King of Comedy, and it's the quickest three hours of film I've ever seen. A truly adult role for DiCaprio is a breath of fresh air, and the discovery of Margot Robbie is something I plan on following.
4. Gravity. A gorgeous effects-laden movie. The first truly thrilling movie I've seen in theatres since I don't know when.
5. American Hustle. The film is pretty contrived, but the soundtrack and acting make this work a watch.
6. Dallas Buyers Club. The film rises above the TV-movie quality of the script with its strong performances. I'm glad to see it succeed.
7. 12 Years a Slave. Caricatures abound, the film is saved only by Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender's performances.
8. Captain Phillips. The script is pretty awful and it's hard not to laugh at Hanks' crying and screaming during the last act of the film.
9. Philomena. How the fuck did this happen?

BEST DIRECTOR
1. Alexander Payne. His first truly, truly great film since Election. Payne uses old and new talents to make his film a mastercraft of heartland film.
2. Martin Scorsese. His film is a tough one to turn to the screen, but his gusto is impressive alone.
3. Alfonso Cuarón. He's better than the two other nominees. He makes the usually-talentless Bullock give a good turn. And his vision is beyond cool.
4. David O. Russell. I agree with Italiano. His films are becoming less and less interesting.
5. Steve McQueen. His talent is wasted on this production.

BEST ACTOR
1. Bruce Dern. A beautiful performance that is uninhibited by the scripts limitations. It's an amazing, convincing portrayal of old age that won't be easy to forget.
2. Leonardo DiCaprio. A tour-de-force of balls, guts, and glory. It's a fun role, and his having a blast with it obviously aids the performance.
3. Matthew McConaughey. I like how committed he is to his role and his comeback. It's a star turn in a starry role, and he handles it more than competently.
4. Chiwetel Ejiofor. A reliable actor on the British scene for years; yet, he wasn't allowed to shine at all here. This being said, he still gives a very solid performance that saves the film from utter despair.
5. Christian Bale. Simply swept up with the rest of Hustle's nominations. A wasted spot.

BEST ACTRESS
1. Cate Blanchett. Possibly the best lead performance in an Allen film in the past 30 years. It's theatrical, it's awesome, it's amazing.
2. Amy Adams. She manages to stay a lead despite her flirting with being pushed into support throughout the film. She's smart, sexy, and sultry.
3. Sandra Bullock. Nothing special but it's leagues beyond these last two.
4. Judi Dench. This is a very mannered performance; Dame Judi does not seem believable for some reason.
5. Meryl Streep. Godawful dreck. An embarrassment.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
1. Jared Leto. With a stronger script, this role would be even more impressive, but Leto does a great job with the dialogue especially in his scenes with McConaughey. The best of the year in a weak year for supporting males.
2. Michael Fassbender. The role is too one-sided to let him have a truly dynamic performance, but Fassbender shines nonetheless. It could also just be that I have a huge mancrush on him.
3. Jonah Hill. Flamboyant, in-your-face, and vulgar just as should be. That doesn't mean it's award-worthy though.
4. Bradley Cooper. Again, caught up in the rest of Hustle's nods. He's not bad. Not bad at all. He's just not given a lot of material to work with in a film that favors the female characters.
5. Barkhad Abdi. He's perfectly cast, but there's not much substance to work with or much of a performance.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
1. June Squibb. The best of the year. The cemetery scene is an instant classic. Her comic turn is one of the best parts of the film. Sadly, she's going to lose out to younger, less-talented actresses.
2. Sally Hawkins. She plays a very low-key part very well. Ginger is a more interesting character than Jasmine, and Hawkins really lets us see that while not stealing the show. It's a great piece of supporting work.
3. Jennifer Lawrence. She steals the film, and she knows it. She gets all the good, memorable scenes, and she knows it. It's great fun, and she knows it.
4. Lupita Nyong'o. The worst part of her film. A caricature of the real women who suffered during this time.
5. Julia Roberts. A fucking godawful Razzie-worthy piece of shit on celluloid.
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Re: Evaluating the Nominees

Postby ITALIANO » Sun Feb 23, 2014 2:58 pm

This is my personal ranking. But if I were an Academy member I wouldn't necessarily vote this way. For example, it's clear that the only way to prevent Gravity from winning Best Picture would be voting for 12 Years a Slave...

BEST PICTURE
1. The Wolf of Wall Street. This is - simply - cinema. Bold, challenging, and most importantly adult.
2. Nebraska. Yes, it's all too planned and too obviously "written". But it's also not stupid and, I feel, reasonably sincere under its typical American-screenwriting surface.
3. 12 Years a Slave. Flawed, but undeniably intense. And at least it IS about something.
4. American Hustle. Well-made - which can also mean unsurprisingly made. But American professionalism is evident.
5. Her. Juvenile, but at least one feels a personal involvement - emotional more than intellectual - behind it.
6. Captain Phillips. I have some problems with it - from a political point of view. But I must admit that by American standards it's quite balanced and open-minded.
7. Philomena. A conventional but not offensive tearjerker.
8. Dallas Buyers Club. I'd love to like it more - it is after all, full of good intentions. But I can't - I have forgotten it. Completely.
9. Gravity. The triumph of this movie - not only in the US - is first of all a triumph of infantilism.

BEST DIRECTOR
1. Martin Scorsese. He's the only one with a "vision". And yes, this includes the much-praised Cuaron.
2. Steve McQueen. A rough, unsophisticated, and ultimately unsatisfying talent - but he HAS talent.
3. Alexander Payne. An American professional. With a good script, he can do good things.
4. David O. Russell. Another American professional, but his work is becoming less and less interesting, less and less personal.
5. Alfonso Cuaron. He should go back to Mexico, but he never will.

BEST ACTOR
1. Leonardo Di Caprio. I'm not sure he should necessarily have an Oscar - but he's certainly never tried harder. An actor's tour-de-force.
2. Chiwetel Ejiofor. An interesting presence - and he could actually be the best actor of these five.
3. Bruce Dern. A beautiful performance, though the role, while very good, is (intentionally) limited.
4. Matthew MacConaughey. A showy turn in a showy role. He's not bad, of course, but despite the energy and the intensity, at the end I still felt a bit empty.
5, Christian Bale. He does what he has to do.

BEST ACTRESS
1. Cate Blanchett. You FEEL that she's acting, true - but who cares when the acting is so obviously good?
2. Judi Dench. Unlike other aging English actresses, she doesn't only rely on tricks and experience. She's more sincere than the movie she's in.
3. Meryl Streep. This time she shouldn't have been nominated, but she's still a lioness of American cinema.
4. Amy Adams. I should like her if only because she's Italian... but unlike Italian actresses, she's a bit too much on the vague side.
5. Sandra Bullock. A typical American product - and like many American products, successful abroad, too. But like for Coca Cola or MacDonald's, I have doubts about the quality.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
1. Michael Fassbender. Clearly a very good actor, and quite daring in the roles he chooses. At times he even finds some humanity in the absolute villain he must play here.
2. Barkhad Abdi. I come from a country, and a cinema, which know how non-professional actors can sometimes be used in a very effective way. And I'd say that this is a good example of that.
3. Jared Leto. Too bad that his character has absolutely no subtext. We'll never know if, with a different, more profound screenplay, he could have given a truly moving performance. But maybe this is the kind of transgendered character that the Academy can accept today.
4. Jonah Hill. Fearless and appropriately repulsive, but that doesn't mean Oscar-worthy.
5. Bradley Cooper. He's a likable actor, but even that doesn't mean Oscar-worthy.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
1. June Squibb. A very pleasant comic turn - and she's the kind of actress who used to win once but sadly not anymore.
2. Lupita Nyong'o. In many ways, a cliche - but an undeniably effective one. Forgettable she definitely isn't.
3. Jennifer Lawrence. She's still too young, and I'm not convinced that she's a great talent. But in this movie she enjoys herself and so does the audience watching her - which in movies is a nice quality.
4. Sally Hawkins. She's here more for her reputation and for her past performances than for THIS performance, which is basically, and justly, one-note - though a well executed one note.
5. Julia Roberts. Her place should have gone to someone else - for more than one reason.
Last edited by ITALIANO on Sun Feb 23, 2014 5:16 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: Evaluating the Nominees

Postby mlrg » Mon Feb 17, 2014 4:52 pm

Uri wrote:
mlrg wrote:You sure didn't like this year's films did you?


I’m afraid I've been cranky for quite a few years now – but it’s not that I’m not big, it’s the pictures that got small.


:D

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Re: Evaluating the Nominees

Postby Uri » Mon Feb 17, 2014 1:42 pm

mlrg wrote:You sure didn't like this year's films did you?


I’m afraid I've been cranky for quite a few years now – but it’s not that I’m not big, it’s the pictures that got small.

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Re: Evaluating the Nominees

Postby mlrg » Mon Feb 17, 2014 12:49 pm

You sure didn't like this year's films did you?

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Evaluating the Nominees

Postby Uri » Mon Feb 17, 2014 11:19 am

It’s this time of the year. I saw all the top nominees but Philomena, which, strangely, is not scheduled to open here before the Oscars – I did see the trailer and to put it mildly, I wasn't blown away (and the poster is the worst case of airbrushing in the history mankind, isn't it?)

So, here I go.

My rating: A- the ultimate best of the year, B- very good, would make a decent, worthy winner, C- a nomination should suffice, D- not necessarily bad, but not award material, F- a failure.

Picture
1. Nebraska – C. This one is first on my list for most successfully accomplishing its creators’ artistic pretensions, which, admittedly, are probably lesser than those of the next two. It’s also somewhat too rigid and by-the-numbers-ish – it lacks a narrative freedom to be really great.
2. 12 Years a Slave – C. The fact that this is a film a black person made about slavery which avoids dealing with the essence of its subject matter by telling the story of a non slave is extremely interesting in itself (not unlike the way Schindler’s List was, Jew/holocaust wise, by focusing on rare survivors). The problem is that this understandable defense mechanism, in this case, results in a sense of impersonal remoteness. It’s more intellectually respectable than SL, but it’s still lacking.
3. The Wolf of Wall Street – C. Impersonal remote this one is certainly not. Certainly the most cinematically exiting film of this bunch, but the ideological/cultural issues I have with it are too big for me to really be able to embrace it.
4. Captain Phillips - C. There’s not really much I can fault with this one – it’s well made, reasonably intelligent and quite balanced – that is, as far as a mainstream American film can be – yet, while I enjoyed watching it, there was a certain urgency missing. I guess once one starts asking oneself what drove these particular people to tell this particular story in this particular time, there’s just no real excitement one can get.
5. Her – C. A modestly clever premise rather stylishly executed and immensely elevated by a truly great central performance (a lot have been said about Johansson’s vocals, but it’s really Phoenix’s reactions which turn it into a living entity). Her does suggest an elaborate, meticulously detailed universe, but it does it in a way which is not that different than that of a smart (two hour long!) commercial. One may argue this in itself is a valid statement made here, but for me it felt too calculated, too neatly enclosed for me to be truly moved.
6. American Hustle – D. A pale facsimile of the real things – the decade, the people, the films, the sex appeal.
7. Dallas Buyers Club – D. They had a story and they turned it into shooting script without ever bothering with writing a screenplay (who the fuck are all these people orbiting these one and a half pseudo developed characters?). Not a disaster, just not really good.
8. Gravity – D/F. That is D for the film, F for the Oscar contender.

Actress
1. Cate Blanchett – A. Yes, it’s just is.
2. Meryl Streep – D. It’s a failed effort, but at least one can understand what went into it (but, basically, I’m a fan of her click, click, click school of acting).
3. Amy Adams – D. The Lady Eve, starring Joan Leslie.
4. Sandra Bullock – D. At best it’s an efficient star turn. Acting wise, it doesn't amount to anything remotely worthy of a recognition let alone celebration.

Actor
1. Leonardo DiCaprio – B. He’s not a bad actor but the juvenile aura he has about him makes it hard to fully accept him in too many roles. Here he’s playing a 22 y.o. that never moves on and he does it really well.
2. Chiwetel Ejiofor – C. He’s a good and charismatic actor, so he does the they-call-me-mister-Tibbs act very well, but nobility is not the making of a truly fascinating character and so is the performance.
3. Bruce Dern – C. It’s a character which is stuck, and he quite nails it, but it doesn't give him a truly grand canvas to explore, acting wise. And when all those siblings were there in that living room - he didn't really, genuinely blend in.
4. Matthew McConaughey – C. It’s an actor proof, huffing and puffing kind of role, and at the end of the day, it’s still same old, likeable Matthew McConaughey who’s doing the huffing and puffing. It’s perfectly ok.
5. Christian Bale – D. This role just yearn for the kind of light touch Bale – all hard labored intensity and intense hard labor- just can’t provide anymore.

Supporting Actress
1. Sally Hawkins – B. This is an exemplary supporting turn – creating a fully rounded characterization while at the same time allowing everything about it to be used to accentuate and illuminate the lead. A fine performance. And they owe her. Big time.
2. June Squibb – C. It’s really the role – it’s a sure fire scene stilling one, but still, one should know how to do it right without over selling it, and she does it just fine. A fun performance.
3. Lupita Nyong’o – D. Sure she’s effective. She’s so beautiful and fragile and iconically fashionable, slavery must be bad – it’s like having all this atrocities happening to Audrey Hepburn! But seriously, the use of LN’s upper class air to suggest the character’s dignity was distractingly anachronistic and a lazy artistic shortcut. And I did find her very distinctive East African appearance historically wrong.
4. Jennifer Lawrence – D. She’s likeable and she gets to be the comic relief in what’s supposed to be a comedy (ahh??). But watchable doesn't necessarily mean good, and certainly not profound. Not in this case, anyway.
5. Julia Roberts – F. One shouldn't mistake a miserable performance with a legitimate representation of a miserable character.

Supporting Actor
1. Michael Fassbender - C. This character is too much the ultimate evil slave owner, and the performance can’t but reflect the clichés assimilated in the role as written, but he’s a good enough actor to carry it off.
2. Barkhad Abdi – D. An effective casting – and his on screen energy, (and it looks like it works off screen as well), is endearing, but it doesn't seem to be (yet?) a display of a truly gifted actor.
3. Jared Leto – D. It’s the kind of an effective stunt turn, when the natural looks – and waistline – of the actor and evoking the stigmas attached with these particular looks – and waistline - do most of the work.
4. Jonah Hill – D. It’s the kind of an effective stunt turn, when the natural looks – and waistline – of the actor and evoking the stigmas attached with these particular looks – and waistline - do most of the work.
5. Bradley Cooper – D. I still don’t get his emerging as a great thespian.

Director
1. Martin Scorsese – B. I may be a little generous, but it is his best film in 20 years and it’s very obvious a project he’s truly and personally involved with and it shows. I do wish he had worked with a more profound script.
2. Alexander Payne – C. A fine, measured work, greatly benefited by astute locations scouting, casing and cinematography – for which a director should be credited too.
3. Steve McQueen – C. His artistic alienation which was heartbreakingly precise in Hunger and thought provoking in Shame somehow feels as being evasive here.
4. David O. Russell – D. How this once cool film maker became this nerdish and not fun?
5. Alfonso Cuarón – D. I give up. Give him the Oscar.


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