Friends, you are lucky enough to know someone who has seen all nine of the 2014 Best Picture nominees (hint: it's me). In the lead-up to Sunday's highly-anticipated Oscar ceremony, I thought I would provide you with a few opinions about this year's nominees, just in case you haven't seen any of these movies but want to seem knowledgeable during Academy Award conversations (that's what I'm here for!). So, I present to you: four random things I want to say about this year's Oscars.
1. If you only watch two movies.....
I would recommend that they be Her and Dallas Buyer's Club. Don't get me wrong - all nine of these movies are very good. But for me, Her and DBC transcended "good" and made impacts on my brain that will still be there ten years from now, albeit for very different reasons.
With Dallas Buyer's Club, I left the theater thinking "I would like to see that movie again." Not only did DBC get Texas so right (it took me a few minutes after it ended for me to remember that I was in San Francisco and not in Houston - true story) but it's a wonderful, stirring example that hard work, perseverance, and plenty of charisma can get you a lot of places in life. I just loved it.
Her was almost on the opposite side of the spectrum - it left me with a bone-level deep kind of sadness. Maybe that doesn't make you want to run out and see it, but bear with me - in the end, I don't think it had a thoroughly pessimistic view of humanity. Her is a movie that tests the boundaries of human relationships so thoroughly and so enjoyably that you will not be able to stop thinking about it for days. Add to that its absolutely gorgeous aesthetic, amazing soundtrack, and spot-on humor and you have what can only be called a masterpiece. Seriously, you need to watch it.
2. Make it the year of Matthew McConaughey.
Alright, alright, alright.
It's been interesting to see the reaction to Matthew McConaughey's nomination for Best Actor. For many, I would imagine that it seemed laughable that the guy who once melted hearts in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days would even be considered for an acting award. However, for those of us who have been following his work over the past few years, this seems immensely well-deserved.
Starting in 2011, Matthew McConaughey started appearing in or at the helm of every good movie made about Texas or the South. Bernie, Mud, Magic Mike, and finally Dallas Buyer's Club all painted pictures of a way of living that rings true in the hearts of all Texan and Southern children (and stirred deep homesickness in the hearts of certain Texan expats - not naming names). And he's done even more work in this realm - Killer Joe, The Paperboy, and True Detective all fall in the same category. What McConaughey was once to romantic comedies, he is now to movies about the Southern experience - and he's somehow made every character an entity all to themselves. To see him win that Oscar would, for me, be a the best reward for watching him return to his roots - by which I mean movies like Dazed and Confused, obviously.
3. It's all about the boys.
Take a look at those movie posters. Do you see a lot of women? You know the answer. This year's Best Picture nominees largely told the stories of men - something I find interesting (and undoubtedly worthy of far more analysis). But now is not the time for that analysis - I just think it's worth noting that only two of the nine Best Picture nominees were about a central female character (Gravity and Philomena) which means that basically every woman that appeared in a major role in the nine films above received an acting nomination (not including Margot Robbie, who played the second wife in Wolf of Wall Street [a role that wasn't exactly Oscar-worthy] or Scarlett Johansson who played the voice of the operating system in Her [and it's a total shame that there isn't a great award for that]).
Contrast that with the intense competition in the Actor categories - I mean, we're living in a world where Tom Hanks and Joaquin Phoenix didn't even get nominated. A world where Christian Bale is expected to have zero shot at winning in his category. That's craziness. While I enjoyed all of these movies, I can't help but hope that more movies about women are made, recognized, and rewarded next year.
4. And after it's all over...
Before Midnight will still maintain it's special place in my heart. It was one of only two movies that weren't nominated for Best Picture to be nominated for Best Screenplay (Blue Jasmine is the other), an honor that is 100% deserved. I don't think the Academy Awards have rewarded Before Midnight and the body of work it's a part of enough, but whatever. That trilogy doesn't need awards to cement itself in hearts and minds.
Did you guys watch these movies? If so, what did you think? I'd love to hear what you loved, what you hated, and what you think will win.
Have a great day!