Best Picture 2013

What is your pick for Best Picture of 2013 from amongst the nominees?

American Hustle
1
4%
Captain Phillips
0
No votes
Dallas Buyers Club
0
No votes
Gravity
3
11%
Her
6
21%
Nebraska
8
29%
Philomena
1
4%
12 Years a Slave
8
29%
The Wolf of Wall Street
1
4%
 
Total votes: 28

The Original BJ
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Re: Best Picture 2013

Postby The Original BJ » Sun Jun 01, 2014 6:31 pm

I feel like I've been limping toward the finish line to get through these, but to finally wrap up...

It was quite a strong year, with another good slate of nominees (though count me surprised by the film we ended up choosing here). The film whose exclusion disappointed me most was Inside Llewyn Davis, which I think is one of the Coen brothers' absolute best films -- full of their usual oddball humor but emotionally resonant in a way that felt entirely fresh for them. I also would have nominated Before Midnight, Blue is the Warmest Color, and The Great Beauty.

Philomena is my clear choice for worst of the batch -- aside from just being generally bland aesthetically, I don't even think it's all that well executed, even within its limited aims. Entire scenes just don't even really make that much sense -- like Philomena at the doorstep trying to get invited inside the house, or her final scene with the nun. I get that people responded to the guttural pull of the subject matter, but sorry, I need the filmmaking to fill in a lot more gaps than it did.

Captain Phillips was a very well-crafted thriller, though I liked the first half better than the second. The cat and mouse game between the Americans and Somalis aboard the big ship was pretty terrifically mounted, and the performances (Abdi trying to make it appear he's in more control than he is, Hanks hoping to show he knows a lot less than he actually does) gave it an emotional weight as well. But once everyone got onboard the lifeboat, I thought the story became a far more standard hostage narrative, and as a result, I don't rate it as singular an experience as some of Greengrass's other films.

I'm not part of the brigade that found Dallas Buyers Club so blatantly offensive as to be deeply bothered by its Oscar nominations -- I don't know that there should be a rule for what an AIDS narrative can and can't be, not when the disease DID touch many types of people in different areas. But I wouldn't cite it in any category beyond acting -- I think both McConaughey and Leto delivered special performances, but the script feels more like decent tv-bio material, not anything boldly cinematic.

The Wolf of Wall Street got bogged down in a lot of dumb controversy about whether or not it endorsed its characters' irresponsibility -- given the amount of havoc Jordan Belfort's actions wreak on his own life, as well as the lives of everyone around him, I find it pretty simplistic to suggest the movie is a celebration of his behavior. I found the movie very entertaining -- funny in ways we haven't really seen before from DiCaprio or Scorsese (at least since The King of Comedy), and full of bite. That said, I do agree with those who felt the movie wasn't, in the end, saying anything new thematically, and I also felt it was way too long to get my vote here.

I find the remaining five movies to be about equally impressive -- I don't think any are an all-time great, but I found them all to be quite exciting pieces of mainstream filmmaking, and I would have been perfectly fine with a win by any of them.

All of the laughs in American Hustle led many people to dismiss it for seeming facetious, but I didn't feel that way at all. Aside from being an ambitious project in terms of narrative scope, a genuine sense of despair seems to hang over all of these struggling characters -- I felt like even despite the humor (and the entire cast here just seems like they're having a blast in these roles) the movie had a great deal of emotional heft as well. And I don't think I've ever been as impressed by David O. Russell's work as a director before -- his trademark style of bouncing actors off of one another and letting his camera careen around to capture the sparks between them has never felt as energetic OR as disciplined. I do think the movie doesn't have as much interest in the basic fundamentals of its plot as much as it probably should -- at times what seems like riffing between actors and director threatens to obscure what's actually happening in the story -- but it's still mostly a great party.

It's interesting that Alexander Payne doesn't have a writing credit on Nebraska, because doesn't this movie feel as much like a quintessential Payne film as his earlier personally-scripted efforts? The emphasis on the details of quotidian Midwestern American life, the blend of humorous misanthropy and honest sentiment, the thematic focus on the disappointments and missed opportunities of life -- did these elements help draw him to the material, or are they evidence of his overriding stamp on it? Probably a bit of both, but I'm definitely willing to give Payne more praise simply as a director than I have before because of it. I also think this is clearly his most visually impressive work to date, with stark black-and-white images that emphasize the spare isolation of much of the middle of America in poignant ways. And, as we've come to expect from Payne's films, the performances are top notch. I think there's more ambitious work on the ballot -- Nebraska is definitely a small movie -- but it's another triumph for Payne (at least for those of us who don't recoil at his work.)

Her basically sounds like a one-joke premise -- it's hard to imagine that setup sustaining a full-length movie. But Spike Jonze the screenwriter finds a way to do so essentially by NOT treating the Theodore-Samantha relationship as a joke -- the characters view it with the same grounded curiosity as we would any new technology, and the humor comes from more unexpected and deeply human places. Spike Jonze the director also creates a visual world -- imaginatively designed, lovingly photographed -- that seems like what the near future might actually look like, full of witty details that help the movie feel consistently entrancing as it goes on. By the end, I don't think the movie goes in as startlingly original directions as Being John Malkovich and Adaptation did -- the final Phoenix-Adams scene, though sweet, felt like the obvious resolution for this narrative. But Her was definitely one of the year's freshest efforts, a compelling set-up well-realized across the board.

My top two would be the two Oscar frontrunners, so it's hard for me to argue over the split between them as a final outcome. 12 Years a Slave was a very powerful movie, full of exceptional performances (I voted for all three nominated actors), and direction by Steve McQueen that incorporated so many of the most exciting elements of his filmmaking (gorgeous long takes, visceral images of the human body) in a (for him) more traditional narrative. Many of the most startling scenes in the film -- the rope hanging, the soap sequence that leads into Patsy's lashing -- seem like classic McQueen moments, the work of a filmmaker excited about the possibilities of his medium, but who fully incorporates his visual prowess into the narrative and emotional core of his material so that it never feels like showboating. I think 12 Years a Slave is an important film both in terms of subject matter AND style, and as it's so rare that that type of picture winds up with the top Oscar, I certainly celebrate its coronation.

But 12 Years wasn't, for me, as completely fresh a cinematic experience that it gets my votes. (I would definitely argue that 12 Years is certainly a better movie than, say, the not-too-distant Amistad or Beloved, but I don't know that I would go so far as to say it completely opened my eyes to the horrors of slavery in a way that earlier films did not). Obviously Gravity tackles a much less significant subject, but I found it to be a mostly breathtaking cinematic experience. From a strictly technical standpoint, no director touched Alfonso Cuarón this year -- from the eye-popping effects to the riveting long takes to the gorgeously composed images -- Gravity is a marvel of visual precision. I'll grant that the script is not quite up to that level (Bullock's backstory is a little awkwardly incorporated), nor are the actors (Bullock is solid but not revelatory, Clooney doesn't suggest someone in a life-or-death situation). But I would disagree with the argument that the movie is simply a technical achievement and nothing more. It's a film about humanity's insignificance in the world, the randomness of fate, the ways in which we process grief and continue to carry on despite a world full of tragedy. Obviously, your mileage may vary on how much you think the movie actually explores these issues, but for me, Gravity was that rarity -- a blockbuster spectacle that provided a completely visceral experience in the theater, but that gave me a lot to ponder once I left it. So I give my most recent votes for both Picture and Director to Gravity.

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Re: Best Picture 2013

Postby Greg » Sun May 18, 2014 4:10 pm

mlrg wrote:Louie C.K. wrote
As humans, we waste the shit out of our words. It’s sad. We use words like “awesome” and “wonderful” like they’re candy. It was awesome? Really? It inspired awe? It was wonderful? Are you serious? It was full of wonder? You use the word “amazing” to describe a goddamn sandwich at Wendy’s. What’s going to happen on your wedding day, or when your first child is born? How will you describe it? You already wasted “amazing” on a fucking sandwich.

And the Louis C.K's quote is amazing 8)


It is awesomely amazing.
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mlrg
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Re: Best Picture 2013

Postby mlrg » Sat May 17, 2014 3:59 pm

ITALIANO wrote:
Sabin wrote:
Louie C.K. wrote
As humans, we waste the shit out of our words. It’s sad. We use words like “awesome” and “wonderful” like they’re candy. It was awesome? Really? It inspired awe? It was wonderful? Are you serious? It was full of wonder? You use the word “amazing” to describe a goddamn sandwich at Wendy’s. What’s going to happen on your wedding day, or when your first child is born? How will you describe it? You already wasted “amazing” on a fucking sandwich.





This is so true.

I'm the (only) one who voted for Wolf of Wall Street.


I would have voted for it two if Nebraska wasn't on the list.

And the Louis C.K's quote is amazing 8)

ITALIANO
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Re: Best Picture 2013

Postby ITALIANO » Sat May 17, 2014 5:58 am

Sabin wrote:
Louie C.K. wrote
As humans, we waste the shit out of our words. It’s sad. We use words like “awesome” and “wonderful” like they’re candy. It was awesome? Really? It inspired awe? It was wonderful? Are you serious? It was full of wonder? You use the word “amazing” to describe a goddamn sandwich at Wendy’s. What’s going to happen on your wedding day, or when your first child is born? How will you describe it? You already wasted “amazing” on a fucking sandwich.





This is so true.

I'm the (only) one who voted for Wolf of Wall Street.

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Re: Best Picture 2013

Postby mlrg » Sat May 17, 2014 5:27 am

voted for Nebraska

nightwingnova
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Re: Best Picture 2013

Postby nightwingnova » Sat May 17, 2014 1:38 am

What a mix of votes this year!

I have only two sets of opinions for this year's lineup:

Philomena - a subpar bio pic that provided a one-sided, attack on the Catholic Church and altered an already dramatically interesting life into one of more pedestrian design, just to push the emotional buttons.

American Hustle - dramatically energetic and creative, and technically fine; an enjoyable cinematic romp, even if it's not necessarily best picture material.
Last edited by nightwingnova on Sat May 17, 2014 5:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Sabin
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Re: Best Picture 2013

Postby Sabin » Fri May 16, 2014 8:03 pm

ksrymy wrote
Philomena is a pile of crap with the only redeemable thing being the slight bits of humor Steeve Coogan injects into it.

12 Years a Slave is a giant turd as well save for the male performances.

Philomena is a pile of crap. 12 Years a Slave is a giant turd.

This comment reminds me of a pretty terrific Louie C.K. bit...

Louie C.K. wrote
As humans, we waste the shit out of our words. It’s sad. We use words like “awesome” and “wonderful” like they’re candy. It was awesome? Really? It inspired awe? It was wonderful? Are you serious? It was full of wonder? You use the word “amazing” to describe a goddamn sandwich at Wendy’s. What’s going to happen on your wedding day, or when your first child is born? How will you describe it? You already wasted “amazing” on a fucking sandwich.


I voted for Her for Best Picture and Steve McQueen for Best Director. I have not seen any of these films more than once save for American Hustle. In years to come, I might go with 12 Years a Slave or Nebraska for Best Picture.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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Re: Best Picture 2013

Postby ksrymy » Fri May 16, 2014 7:39 pm

Philomena is a pile of crap with the only redeemable thing being the slight bits of humor Steeve Coogan injects into it.

Captain Phillips isn't much better. Tom Hanks' screaming at the end is straight out of a B-movie. Barkhad Abdi doesn't actually do anything other than speak and frown. The editing was nice though.

12 Years a Slave is a giant turd as well save for the male performances.

American Hustle has a fun script, but it's not even close to one of the year's best. Lawrence, Adams, and Cooper are good fun though.

I was surprised to like Dallas Buyers Club. McConaughey and Leto are good - it's Jennifer Garner who is miscast and pretty bad.

These last four are all among the year's best.

Gravity is a technical titan that was one of the most pleasant theater experiences I've had in recent years. I'm glad it won all it did (deservedly).

Wolf is a great film full of great editing, writing, and acting. It's a blast. Those who think it glorifies and suggests this kind of lifestyle don't understand the film.

Her was one of the most original, beautiful films I've seen in recent years. It's a gorgeous meditation on modern romance and technology. Joaquin Phoenix gives the best male performance for the second year in a row.

Nebraska was the best film of 2013 though. The beautiful black-and-white cinematography, crisp writing, and, especially the incredibly realistic characters made this a refreshing work of art.

Sadly left out were Blue Is the Warmest Colour, Upstream Color, Computer Chess, Room 237, Frances Ha, The Spectacular Now, The Hunt, and Short Term 12,.
"Men get to be a mixture of the charming mannerisms of the women they have known." - F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Re: Best Picture 2013

Postby ksrymy » Fri May 16, 2014 7:24 pm

Big Magilla wrote:First to go for me is Martin Scorsese's Animal House AKA The Wolf of Wall Street, a three hour wallow in excess behavior that shouldn't have been anywhere near the Oscars.

Okay, Magilla, we'll get off your lawn now.
"Men get to be a mixture of the charming mannerisms of the women they have known." - F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Best Picture 2013

Postby Big Magilla » Fri May 16, 2014 6:56 pm

This one's been so long in coming I almost forgot we already did Best Director.

First to go for me is Martin Scorsese's Animal House AKA The Wolf of Wall Street, a three hour wallow in excess behavior that shouldn't have been anywhere near the Oscars.

Second to go is Philomena with its great backstory, strong cast and marvelous lead performance all but doe in by its producer-writer-co-star's megalomaniac insistence on making the story about him.

Third to go is Nebraska which should have been done as a circa 1990 period piece instead of passing itself off as a contemporary drama which it isn't.

Fourth off the list is American Hustle which has some nice parts but as a whole doesn't quite add up.

The remaining five represent five of the year's top six films for me. Missing is Inside Llewyn Davis, which is my second favorite film of the year.

Coming in fifth amongst this line-up is Dallas Buyers Club with its two great lead performances.

In fourth place is Captain Phillips, a rousing adventure film of the type they hardly ever make anymore.

In third place is Gravity, a stunning technical achievement with a surprisingly effective star performance at its center.

In second place is Her, Spike Jonze's very human take on a human/non-human romance.

Top place goes to 12 Years a Slave, a throwback to the kind of film that used to routinely win Oscars over the competition - a good film that is also good for you. All I can is eat your oatmeal and vote for it!


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