Sunday, March 2, 2014

Howard ranks the Oscar nominees

The Oscars are Sunday night in L.A., where the red carpet will be soggy from torrential rains, and here is my annual ranking of the Best Picture nominees, based totally on my likes and quirks, with some amateur consideration of my humble impressions of excellent movie-making:

1)   The Wolf of Wall Street.  A wild Martin Scorcese film of greed and excess.  Because of its 500+ F-bombs and insane sexism, it has practically no chance of being named Best Picture, but, of the 9 nominated pictures, it is the Best -- the most well-done and entertaining -- anyway.  I want to see it again.
2)   American Hustle.  A fast-moving comedic story of corruption and scandal.  Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper are perfect together.  This could win.
3)   Dallas Buyers Club.  Matthew McConaughey is practically unrecognizable but is also amazing as the AIDS victim who won't give up.
4)   Nebraska.   My first three picks are frenetic in pace, and Nebraska is the opposite, slow as molasses, but I loved the story, and the film nails the slow-moving feel of some of the small towns on the Great Plains.
5)   Gravity.   This film, especially if you see it in 3D, feels sort of like an IMax production without a lot of plot, but it's fun seeing all those objects, including Sandra Bullock, floating around in outer space.
6)   Philomena.   This is a fascinating true story about a woman, played by Judi Dench, searching for the son she sort-of gave up many years ago.  If you're a fan of nuns, you'd feel uncomfortable with this film.
7)   12 Years A Slave.  This is the odds-on bet to win Best Picture, but I personally found it poorly structured and overly punitive.
8)   Captain Phillips.  Of the nine nominees for Best Picture, this picture was the first to be released and the last one that I saw.  Tom Hanks is the best he has been in a while as the captain kidnapped by Somali pirates, and, as an action/suspense pic, it's pretty good, just not a Best Picture.
9)   Her.  How is it possible that this stupid movie was nominated for Best Picture, yet the real Best Picture of the year -- Inside Llewyn Davis, the latest Coen Brothers film -- was not??

My other picks:
Best Actor:  Hmmm, that's tough.  1)  Bruce Dern for Nebraska; 2)  Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club, or 3)  Leonardo Decaprio for Wolf of Wall Street.  Any of them deserve it.
Best Actress:  Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine.  No contest.
Best Director:  Martin Scorcese, of course, for Wolf of Wall Street.
Best Supporting Actor:  Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club.
Best Supporting Actress:  Sally Hawkins for Blue Jasmine.  But June Squibb in Nebraska is terrific too.