12 Years a Slave reviews

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Re: 12 Years a Slave reviews

Postby flipp525 » Mon Jan 06, 2014 11:20 pm

Mister Tee wrote:If I fumbled some fine points, please be kind.

Okay, Laura Reynolds!

(Feel better, Tee)
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Re: 12 Years a Slave reviews

Postby flipp525 » Mon Jan 06, 2014 11:19 pm

Mister Tee wrote:On the narrow issue of Lupita Nyong’o’s role…I early on expressed my feeling the role might be a bit too small for an Oscar. Saying, well, Beatrice Straight won for an even smaller role isn’t a very convincing counter-argument. Straight won because Talia Shire, the probable easy winner that year, was bumped to lead, and the rest of the slate consisted of a godawful performance from the actress who’d won just a year prior; a role just as small from another best picture nominee; a Gothic performance that’s very popular among fans but was as far from Oscar taste at the time as could be imagined; and, what should have been the winner, a young teenager in a role that made voters queasy, in a movie a lot of them loathed. Straight was the least objectionable choice that year. In 2013, we have plenty of options – though not one obvious alternative, which is what makes this an interesting race.

Well, to be fair, the counter-argument wasn't there to provide an Oscar narrative precedent for why Nyong'o could win. It was simply stated to illustrate that Lupita's screentime - which had been erroneously identified as only two scenes on this thread - was too small for consideration. I wasn't citing precedent with the case of Straight. And not to de-rail, but was Talia Shire's performance in Rocky seen as some sort of sure-thing in the supporting category? I can't even remember anything about it except for her mousiness and wearing a red cap.
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Re: 12 Years a Slave reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Mon Jan 06, 2014 10:50 pm

I’m socked in by the flu, so I may not be able express myself with my accustomed clarity of thought. But this conversation has gone many whack directions, I feel a need to step in and try to cool things down.

On the narrow issue of Lupita Nyong’o’s role…I early on expressed my feeling the role might be a bit too small for an Oscar. Saying, well, Beatrice Straight won for an even smaller role isn’t a very convincing counter-argument. Straight won because Talia Shire, the probable easy winner that year, was bumped to lead, and the rest of the slate consisted of a godawful performance from the actress who’d won just a year prior; a role just as small from another best picture nominee; a Gothic performance that’s very popular among fans but was as far from Oscar taste at the time as could be imagined; and, what should have been the winner, a young teenager in a role that made voters queasy, in a movie a lot of them loathed. Straight was the least objectionable choice that year. In 2013, we have plenty of options – though not one obvious alternative, which is what makes this an interesting race.

Back to Nyong’o: though I do think the size of role may hurt her, I can’t remotely countenance the criticism she’s getting here. I think she’s quite terrific with what she’s been given to do, and I’m surprised to see such venom directed at her.

But that may come back to something about the film itself. I think now you’re starting to hear out-of-proportion criticism of the film in response to the wild enthusiasm of not just the film’s reviews, but also the bordering-on-cult quality of its online support. Not here, of course, but at other Oscar centered sites, it became an article of faith early on that 12 Years was going to be the easy best picture choice. This was true even before anyone had seen the film, which I thought was odd – first, because I of course don’t believe in doing such things, but more because I thought McQueen’s filmography till then was, in Oscar-friendliness terms, virtual anti-matter. But afterwards it got worse: site after site declared 12 Years an unmistakable masterpiece, and if you didn’t fall in line for it/accept it as the certain best picture winner, you were, per Jeff Wells, a pussy who couldn’t handle tough drama, or, per the inevitable Sasha, a racist (she really links to fling that around), or, by most of the crowd at GoldDerby or AwardWatch, in denial about an historic inevitability. This despite the fact that it was unusually bountiful year, with about half a dozen films that might win top honors, from critics or the Academy, in most years.

Oh, and it’s the same under best actor: if you don’t agree that Chiwetel Ejiofor does transcendent work that should waltz to a best actor win – if you think that his performance, like Redford’s, is a bit too internalized, and you prefer DiCaprio or McConnaughey or Dern…well, you’re denying the evidence of your senses, or maybe proving that you prefer hambone performances like Pacino in Scent of a Woman.

I saw my old college roommate last week, and he volunteered that the movie that’s disappointed him most all year is 12 Years. This is a guy with perfectly good taste, and he didn’t dislike the movie: he just thought it fell well short of what he’d been promised -- and what most the Oscar bloggers continue to say every day. I think this film is slipping into Brokeback Mountain/Social Network territory – so highly praised that many fans just find the actual film disappointing by comparison. (I know it’s holy writ in many places, including here, that homophobia killed Brokeback, and it no doubt played a part. But don’t discount people like my brother -- miles from being a homophobe, but someone who told me Brokeback was one of the most overrated movies he’d ever seen)

To finally answer a question Oscar Guy posed the other day: if I thought all those midget critics’ groups were expressing genuine individual love for McQueen’s film, I could respect it – but the fact that they all churned out virtually the same winners, a list that by miraculous coincidence matched the blogger pre-season template (and this isn’t the first time these groups have done the same), makes me think it’s a regurgitation, not a thought process. It’s their attempt to insinuate themselves into the Oscar process by falling in line for what they’re telling each other is a sure thing.

Which they’re still doing over at Awards Watch – telling themselves that, in the end, 12 Years will recover to sweep through the Oscars. Which is still very much a possibility (as Heksagon predicted today); perhaps developments over the next weeks will make the film’s trajectory a more positive one. But, to date, nothing has happened to make 12 Years a Slave into the front-runner, let alone an inevitability. I think Academy voters would love to split their best director vote two ways this year: honor McQueen, for his film and as the first black best director winner, but also choose Cuaron, for his dazzling directorial style (and he’d be an ethnic first, as well). Best picture widens even further, to include American Hustle. And best actor will be fought over by, at minimum, Dern and McConnaughey as well as Ejiofor. It’s entirely possible 12 Years goes home with a very disappointing haul…which wouldn’t be so disappointing if its adherents were not so adamant that it’s essentially the only choice out there.

Okay: flu brain is now taking me under. I think I said most of what I meant to. If I fumbled some fine points, please be kind.
Last edited by Mister Tee on Mon Jan 06, 2014 11:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 12 Years a Slave reviews

Postby OscarGuy » Mon Jan 06, 2014 7:46 pm

Apparently my point was missed. I was being reductive. Mlrg made an absurd observation. I countered with another absurd one. Yet, there is a point to be made. Complaining about someone's performance being only yelling and screaming would hold water in those lovely performances where theatrics are celebrated and for those where genuine anguish is on display. You cannot equate the two fairly and that's why Mlrg reducing Nyong'o's performance to that was entirely absurd.
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Re: 12 Years a Slave reviews

Postby ITALIANO » Mon Jan 06, 2014 4:49 pm

mlrg wrote:"I sure hope no one here ever has to endure the type of [insert tragedy, actor/actress and film] went through...if it happened, perhaps they wouldn't be so hard on [select him/her]."

Just copy and paste for future defending of an oscar nomination or win


I had to read it twice, but now, seriously - I am sure that some Academy members can really vote this way.

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Re: 12 Years a Slave reviews

Postby mlrg » Mon Jan 06, 2014 4:46 pm

"I sure hope no one here ever has to endure the type of [insert tragedy, actor/actress and film] went through...if it happened, perhaps they wouldn't be so hard on [select him/her]."

Just copy and paste for future defending of an oscar nomination or win

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Re: 12 Years a Slave reviews

Postby mlrg » Mon Jan 06, 2014 4:41 pm

OscarGuy wrote:I sure hope no one here ever has to endure the type of whipping Nyong'o's character went through...if it happened, perhaps they wouldn't be so hard on her.


best post ever :D

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Re: 12 Years a Slave reviews

Postby ITALIANO » Mon Jan 06, 2014 4:37 pm

OscarGuy wrote:I sure hope no one here ever has to endure the type of whipping Nyong'o's character went through...if it happened, perhaps they wouldn't be so hard on her.



Oscar Guy, I LOVE YOU!!! :D

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Re: 12 Years a Slave reviews

Postby OscarGuy » Mon Jan 06, 2014 4:36 pm

I sure hope no one here ever has to endure the type of whipping Nyong'o's character went through...if it happened, perhaps they wouldn't be so hard on her.
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Re: 12 Years a Slave reviews

Postby Sonic Youth » Mon Jan 06, 2014 3:30 pm

I have to see this movie again just to confirm that half of you are crazy.
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Re: 12 Years a Slave reviews

Postby ITALIANO » Mon Jan 06, 2014 2:35 pm

Eric wrote:You know who was awesome, showed range, suffered nobly and haunted the remainder of the film following her departure from it? Zhao Tao. Wish she was on Oscar's radar.



In which movie? Very good actress anyway. She won the David di Donatello for Best Actress (Italy's Oscar) only last year.

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Re: 12 Years a Slave reviews

Postby Eric » Mon Jan 06, 2014 2:26 pm

You know who was awesome, showed range, suffered nobly and haunted the remainder of the film following her departure from it? Zhao Tao. Wish she was on Oscar's radar.

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Re: 12 Years a Slave reviews

Postby flipp525 » Mon Jan 06, 2014 2:26 pm

Reza wrote:I think Oprah Winfrey showed far greater range in The Butler than Lupita Nyong'o who is very one note throughout. All that screaming and flailing about may win her the Oscar though. Alfre Woodard's charcter may have been interesting but it's hardly a performance that will be recognised with a nomination.

Honestly, Reza, you sound like someone who hasn't even seen the film. Nyong'o "screams and flails about" in two scenes (one when she's being whipped and then one when her wounds from that whipping are being tended to). She appears in several other scenes (five or six off the top of my head) and paints other colors. If your argument is that her "one-note" is screaming and flailing about throughout the film, that's just simply wrong.

And, no one was actually predicting Alfre Woodard for a nomination. We were saying it was nomination-level work. It's like you're oversimplifying everything you read in this thread.
Last edited by flipp525 on Mon Jan 06, 2014 2:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: 12 Years a Slave reviews

Postby Reza » Mon Jan 06, 2014 2:13 pm

I think Oprah Winfrey showed far greater range in The Butler than Lupita Nyong'o who is very one note throughout. All that screaming and flailing about may win her the Oscar though. Alfre Woodard's charcter may have been interesting but it's hardly a performance that will be recognised with a nomination.

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Re: 12 Years a Slave reviews

Postby Sabin » Mon Jan 06, 2014 1:23 pm

Exactly, Marco. And the competition isn't there. I'm not talking about quality, I'm talking about the kind of performance and performer that wins. If the Academy wants to break with tradition this year and honor someone like Lupita Nyong'o, I'm incredibly excited to see this happen.
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