Most of these movies, as you can see below, I watched at home on DVD screeners. I got 7 in the mail, for SAG/AFTRA voting (Yes, I am still a member of the Screen Actors Guild.) And, my friend, in the Directors Guild, got a bunch more. (The DGA is higher on the pecking order, so they get twice screeners that the actors get.
Here are my thoughts on the films nominated for best picture. Everyone has different taste so you can take them with a grain of salt.
Oscar Nominated Films
Philomena - Judy Dench rules. Just give her the Oscar already! That's what I said 10 minutes into the movie, although I hadn't seen Cate Blanchett, yet, in Blue Jasmine. One of my favorite movies so far, along with Dallas Buyers Club. And, it's another true story, which I didn't know until the end of the film. It's quiet, with a subtle wit and charm, and very very touching. Beautiful, really. Judy Dench, as always, gives an incredible performance. Yes, the story is heartbreaking but they found a way to put humor in the script, and a sort of resolution, in the end. Great screenplay. Huge recommendation.
Nebraska- It grew on me. See it on the big screen, if you can. Or if you have a big flat screen, it's OK, but I do think the vastness of the landscape would have been amazing, in the theater. (Even though I do like my TV, it's not the same.)
It was nominated for cinematography and it's easy to see why. There was also some really funny stuff in it, and it reminded me a little of when I used to visit my grandparents. My favorite scene is when the parents and kids are all together in the car. That's all I'll say, because I don't want to ruin it. Bruce Dern has definitely deserved all the accolades he's gotten during the award season, including the Oscar Nom. Really good film.
Wolf of Wall Street- Holy crap! Do not see this with your parents. I was sitting next to my dad and I thought I'd crawl under the coffee table. It was WILD. Wild, I tell you! And, completely over the top, satire. It could have been a half hour shorter, but having said that it still moves and is rather entertaining.
DO NOT see this if you are easily offended, or appalled, because you will be.
Leo was great. Everyone was, but it's definitely not for everyone. In anyone other than Scorsese's hands, it could have been a disaster, but it wasn't. I was just happy knowing the guy (in real life) went to jail.
12 Years a Slave- Brutal and beautiful. I cheated and fast forwarded parts of the torturous scenes. Have to cop to that. I would watch a bit of the acting in those scenes, so I could vote for the SAG Awards, then went past some of that.
Having said that, I think it's an important film and definitely worth seeing. Deep and transcendent acting by Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong'o. Amazing. They both deserve any awards they get for their incredible work. A beautifully done film, a true story ... but rough.
Here's a scene from the film. (It's not a violent scene, in case you're worried.)
Gravity- Definitely an on the edge of your seat film. I must confess, that I have always been completely freaked out by the idea of floating off into space, so I planned not to see it. Then, I figured that if I was ever going to see it, I should see it in 3D, at the theaters. And since I was voting for the SAG awards … I sort of guilted myself into it.
So, here's what I did to take the edge off. I found out from my aunt who would live and die, in the film, before seeing it (my uncle was appalled by this!) and then I put wine in my coffee thermos and shared it with my friend Karen during the previews. I'm quite sure these things kept me from getting PTSD. Anyway, you can keep that in that in mind with this review.
It was entertaining and obviously the effects were incredible. I don't even think you can call them effects. Everything you see visually, was pretty much created in post production except the actors. And, they were solid.
There is a message, in the film, about these two people, that live their lives in completely different ways. One, lives in the moment, taking it all in, and conversely, the other character is just going forward and not really being present for life … and how one teaches the other how to really live. Interesting character arc for her … It becomes a rebirth. I know I'm being vague but I don't want to give it away.
Here is a behind the scenes Featurette. It explains some of the overall themes of the film as well as some of the special effects. It really makes you appreciate the actors imaginations! If you don't want to have a sense of what happens, in the film, end the video at 5:30.
It's not a subject matter that I connect with in a huge way, but it's a really well directed, written and produced film. A friend of mine dated a guy for years who used to ship out, to all kinds of crazy places on those cargo ships, and she loved this film. She is also a picky movie person, and she highly recommends this movie.
Her- Wow, I'm not even sure how to review this. I think it will stay with me for a long time. I watched it last night, and it's going to take some time to digest.
It is completely unique and touching … and strange … but in a good way. It's set in the not so distant future, in Los Angeles, but you can go with the premise, based on how people are with technology now.
I don't know that it's for everyone, but I really liked it, a lot. Spike Jonze makes such cool, interesting films. This one has a lot of heart and is sweet and tender, even though Joaquin Pheonix's character falls in love with his computer operating system. And, I have to say, with how the film is done, it's believable. Anyway, I was worried about being horribly bummed out, after watching it, but I wasn't. And, Joaquin Phoenix was really great and completely believable, in a very challenging role.
Here is a Youtube video I found with some of the great voiceover between Samantha (Scarlett Johansson/his operating system) and Joaquin Phoenix. It's set over "making of the movie" shots.
I will be watching the second Hobbit film tonight. So, Part 2 of the reviews with include that, along with Before Midnight, August Osage County, Blue Jasmine, Inside Llewyn Davis, The Butler and Saving Mr. Banks. Yes, I've been on a movie seeing mission!
Every great film should seem new
every time you see it.