Quest for the Best (Picture) Final Edition

Film ReelIn this final installment of thoughts from our unqualified but enthusiastic movie reviewer about the 2014 Best Picture nominees, I’ll provide thoughts about why each of the six pictures I saw could, should, or won’t win the Best Picture award.

In alphabetical order…

American Hustle – Great ensemble acting.  Any of the four principals would deserve an award.  And yes, I love anything that Jennifer Lawrence is in. Amy Adams is pretty amazing as well. But the story line doesn’t hang together for me. (When I read this NY Times article on David O. Howard’s filmmaking style, I realized why.) While American Hustle is one of the favorites, I think there are several better movies in the running this year.

Gravity After seeing this movie on the plane earlier this week, the Tina Fey line at the Golden Globes about the lengths George Clooney will go in order not to date any female his own age finally made sense!  Seriously, this is a terrific movie.  Clooney is Clooney. (These days, he appears to just be playing himself in most movies, like a latter-day Jimmy Stewart. And that’s okay. He’s very good.)  Sandra Bullock is wonderful. The visuals were stunning on a small screen…I can only imagine what this looked like in the movie house.  Gravity is another pre-awards-show favorite, but to me it doesn’t hold up as well against the three that I felt were terrific movies.

Her A very well-crafted, but somewhat spooky, movie (especially if you spend as much time in front of your computer as I do). Joaquin Phoenix was terrific, and we were lucky this year to get another dose of Amy Adams (and those eyes!).  I don’t see this winning, but I want that little earplug and the hand-held smart phone/computer now.

Nebraska The more I think about this movie, the more I like it.  The black and white photography is stunning.  The acoustic roots chamber music is haunting.  And Bruce Dern is pitch perfect.  I’d be very happy if this film won, in a shocker.

Philomena This Judi Dench tour de force is also one of the sleepers of the year. The story – which is true – is a real plot twister that ends up where it began. Another one of my personal favorites for Best Picture. Again, it probably won’t win because – like Nebraska – it is a movie for adults and doesn’t have the amazing technical achievement of Gravity and doesn’t boast of a fabulous ensemble cast of actors like American Hustle.

Twelve Years a SlaveI felt this movie should win the moment I walked out of the theatre, and I still have a strong bias in its favor.  But it may get the Lincoln treatment from last year – great movie, epic story, well told, but…perhaps just a bit too serious for Hollywood.  That would be too bad to see that happen two years in a row.

So, while I didn’t get to see Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, and The Wolf of Wall Street, I feel as though I’ve seen the winner.  That sentiment was supported by the Times‘ “Carpetbagger” column. But only Sunday night will tell…so let’s do this already.

Thanks for reading, and more to come…

DJB

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