Tuesday, 4 March 2014

2014 Oscar Best Picture Nominees Rated and Reviewed

With award season coming to a predictable but fun end, I thought it a good time to round up my reviews of the Best Picture nominees in 2014. It seems Ellen did a great job of hosting and though I didn't watch the ceremony, there has been so much coverage of pizza eating, record breaking selfies and J-Law falling over some more, that I don't think I need to watch them. Check out the coverage at Cinematic Corner for more on the ceremony itself and some brilliant gifs.


As usual, I did some gambling and put £20 down over the whole awards season. After the Globes, I was down by a pound(ish), then after the BAFTAs I'd broken even again and then with the Oscars being as predictable as they were, I finally came out £4 up. William Hill invited me on to talk Oscar odds on their weekly podcast which you can hear here if you interested in my predictions.

I'm glad to see American Hustle didn't win much, sad to see McQueen not get Best Director but very pleased 12 Years a Slave got Best Picture and Lupita Nyong'o got Best Supporting Actress. Films I still need to see from Oscar season are Blue Jasmine, Frozen and 20 Feet From Stardom. I actually managed to review all but one of the Best Picture nominees this year which must be a first. I saw Gravity later than everybody else so by that time, I think every word possible had been written about it. I was also left a bit disappointed by it after all the reviews I had read. Technically brilliant and pretty damn gripping but I just felt the characters were a bit cliched and kept it from being a five star movie in my opinion.


Chris from Movies and songs 365 asked how I would rank the Best Picture nominees so here goes. By the way this is incredibly difficult and liable to change in time. I don't envy all those who have to vote for the Oscar winners. Click the titles for my full reviews of each:

9. American Hustle 
'Overall it's a clever con, funny at times and crammed with wonderful performances. It might not have the zip and the pizazz of a Goodfellas or a Boogie Nights, but what it does have is Batman, Lois Lane, Rocket Racoon, Mystique and Hawkeye all in one film and all playing characters that are far more interesting than their comic book counterparts.'

8. Nebraska
'With a melancholy score from Mark Orton, stark cinematography from Phedon Papamichael and some heartbreaking performances, Nebraska is a winner; even if Woody isn’t.'

7. Gravity

Technically astonishing but a bit lacking in the character department.

6. Dallas Buyers Club 'See it for two staggering transformations and a touching true tale that desrves to be told. While Woodroof is the flawed star of the film, Leto's equally damaged Rayon threatens to steal it away from him. It may not tell the full story, choosing to focus on one frequently unpleasant man instead of many other heroes in the fight against AIDS, but Dallas Buyers Club avoids cliche to become powerful, credible and profoundly affecting.'

5. Her

'Falling in love may be, as one character says, a form of socially acceptable insanity but it’s ultimately impossible not to love every bit of Her.'

4. The Wolf of Wall Street
'The Wolf of Wall Street is Scorsese's best since Goodfellas. BUT it is also a disgrace. It makes you forget just what a complete shit Belfort really is. It is not angry enough. Belfort gets off easily. He turns on everyone around him, gets away with a tiny prison sentence in a white collar prison and is still not paying nearly enough back to his victims. To have Belfort appear in the film is just another slap in the face for the forgotten victims of the story. Scorsese has made a fun film about a man who deserves nothing but disdain. There is little caution in this 'cautionary' tale. We need to stop paying to listen to Belfort but with a film like this, Scorsese makes that very difficult.'


3. Captain Phillips
'The young actors give life and breath to the tragically young men that tangled with the far superior American forces. Captain Phillips is an underdog story of epic proportions where the underdogs never stand a chance.'

2. Philomena

'Philomena is a brilliantly written script with an unforgettable character who has an incredible story to be told. While it takes potshots at journalism and the church, it is ultimately an inspiring story of forgiveness. Dench and Coogan make a hilarious double act with Coogan unexpectedly playing the straight man but it is the tragedy of Philomena's treatment at the hands of the nuns that will linger longest in the memory.'

1. 12 Years A Slave
'12 Years A Slave brings a terrible historical truth to life. It may only be the story of one man but it feels definitive; every frame is a painting that transports you to another time. Through it's cinematography, production and costume design, but most of all the performances of a completely committed cast, 12 Years A Slave depicts the ugliness of slavery with unforgettable imagery.'

What were your favourites of this awards season?

More awards coverage at I Love That Film:
Screen Actors Guild Award Winners 2014
Who will win at the Screen Actors Guild Awards 2014?
Critics' Choice Winners 2014 
Oscar nominations 2014 
Who will win at the Critics' Choice Awards 2014? 
Golden Globes winners and losers 
BAFTA 2014 Nominations