Maddison’s Oscar Breakdown

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Well, it’s that time of year again. The time where, as Jimmy Fallon states, celebrities get all dressed up to get judged by people at home in their sweatpants. And how, Jimmy Fallon. It’s a wonder I’m even leaving my room tonight, but my friend Anne promised to make me Mac and Cheese if I watched the Oscars with her. Yes, the glory of the Academy Awards is finally upon us, and by glory, I mean the insatiable, bitterly-burning disappointment that always precedes and proceeds the handing out of completely meaningless statues. Remember a couple years ago when David Fincher lost his well-deserved Best Director to Tom Hooper, whose groundbreaking use of funny wallpapers and the rule of thirds championed him to victory? Remember just last year when Paul Thomas Anderson’s electrically disturbing masterpiece The Master was not only snubbed in the Best Picture territory, but Best Cinematography, Best Score, and both actor categories for Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix? Yes, what lovely times these all were, and the fact that I’m very passive aggressively writing about them now shows a lot about me. So I promised myself, this year, this year, even if Inside Llewyn Davis, Mud, and A Place Beyond the Pines were all unjustly snubbed, that I’m not going to get upset. Even if the media princess Jennifer Lawrence (who I do adore, but again, bitterness at the Academy) is given another Oscar over the incendiary Lupita Nyong’o, even if Gravity wins every single technical award, I’m not going to get upset.

That being said, I’m still going to write a very strongly-worded post about the Oscars, and break down my personal opinions for each category (except for the short films because I don’t care). But I’m not gonna get mad. Nope.

Nominees: American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, 12 Years A Slave, The Wolf Of Wall Street

My Pick: 12 Years A Slave

What I’d Like To Win: The Wolf of Wall Street, or a write-in win for Inside Llewyn Davis

So there’s been a lot of discussion this year for what’s going to take Best Picture, and a lot of people have been saying American Hustle. Now, and I’m being mild when I say this, if American Hustle does indeed win, I will probably flip a desk. In my personal opinion, American Hustle was the Lincoln of this year. You get a director with a lot of buzz, an incredible production design (i.e. lots of money), a cast on top of their game, and you’re going to get a Good Movie, but in such a by-the-book way that I find it almost offensive the people would think it would win. Gravity also has a lot of talk, and I wouldn’t be so mad if Gravity won, because it’s not nominated for best screenplay, which is good because the dialogue in that movie was pretty much trash. It would be sort of odd if Gravity won because I don’t think it was half as well rounded as some of the others nominated. My pick to win is 12 Years A Slave, which is actually a movie I really loved and enjoyed and would be happy to see win. Again, it’s more well rounded, and for some reason, seems a lot less bait-y than American Hustle. However, seeing as The Wolf of Wall Street is in the running for my favorite film of last year for a number of reasons, I would love to see Marty get one here.

And of course, if a write-in win for Inside Llewyn Davis occurred, I would be pretty stoked. I’m not going to launch into my confused rant about why it wasn’t nominated (there are only nine nominees in this category, when there are usually ten…. leaving one blank spot… where they just decided not to nominate it? I guess?), but the fact that it wasn’t is genuinely offensive to me. The Academy has an opportunity to rectify that–though obviously I doubt it’s actually going to happen.

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Nominees: American Hustle, Gravity, Nebraska, 12 Years A Slave, The Wolf of Wall Street

My Pick: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity

What I’d Like To Win: Alfonso, or maybe a write-in for Spike Jonze? No?

One thing that is absolutely inarguable about this year as far as I’m concerned, is that Gravity absolutely killed it as far as technicalities go. The opening shot of that film was one of the most glorious one-takes I’ve ever seen. It was impeccable. Writing and other shenanigans aside, it was beautifully crafted and deserves most of the awards it gets this year. Even though it’s sort of unfair to the other great directors who did impeccable work (Marty kills it every time, 12YAS is probably Steve McQueen’s masterpiece), Alfonso blew it out of the water. There’s really not much more to be said. I’m putting in a little nod to Spike Jonze here though, because Her was probably also one of his most beautifully shot films so I would’ve liked for him to at least have been nominated (Take out David O. Russell for American Hustle? Yes? No?) but I guess it just wasn’t in the cards for him this year.

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Nominees: Christian Bale, Bruce Dern, Leonardo Dicaprio, Echiwetel Ejiofor, Matthew McConaughey

My Pick: McConaughey

Who I’d Like To Win: Literally anyone but Christian Bale

This category is a little tough for me and if you’d asked me before the SAG’s and the Globes who was going to win, I would have easily picked Chiwetel. However, after McConaughey got both the awards I mentioned and I actually went to go see Dallas Buyers Club for myself, I was convinced that McConaughey was gonna take it. Can we just talk about for one second how awesome McConaughey became this past year? Seriously–when did he start being an actor who actually did actor-y stuff? Mud, Wolf of Wall Street, Dallas Buyer’s Club, and recently True Detective… the guy’s on fire. I’d like to see him get the Oscar. If his acceptance speech isn’t the chest pumping thing form Wolf of Wall Street though, they should probably take the award away from him.

There were a lot of really excellent performances this  year. Bruce Dern in Nebraska was fantastic. Leonardo, again, kills it–and I am sorry that he’s not going to get it. I’d be extremely happy if he did, but I just don’t see it. Honestly, I’d be happy if anyone won, just not Christian Bale. Because while I really like Christian Bale, when the most you did for a role was get fat… sorry, but no.

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Nominees:  Amy Adams, Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, Judi Dench, Meryl Streep

My Pick: Cate Blanchett

Who I’d Like To Win: Cate Blanchett

This category isn’t even a competition. Sorry everyone else. Sorry folks boycotting Woody Allen now. Cate’s got this in the bag. No arguments.

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Nominees: Barkhad Abdi, Bradley Cooper, Michael Fassbender, Jonah Hill, Jared Leto

My Pick: Jared Leto

What I’d Like To Win: Jonah Hill

Okay, okay, okay–I know Jonah’s not going to win, all right? But can you imagine how excellent it would be if Jonah Hill won an Oscar for The Wolf of Wall Street? That would be so, so, so, awesome. I might even like the Oscars again if that happened. I might even forgive them for snubbing Raging Bull back in 1980. Anyway, yeah, Jared Leto was amazing in Dallas Buyer’s Club. I know a lot of people are giving him smack because acting faintly LGBTQ on film shouldn’t be Oscar Worthy, but I urge those people to actually go see the movie because they clearly didn’t. Fassbender would also be an excellent winner though, his performance in 12YAS was the most frighteningly beautiful visage of cognitive dissonance on film this year.

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Nominees: Sally Hawkins, Jennifer Lawrence, Lupita Nyong’o, Julia Roberts, June Squibb

My Pick: Lupita Nyong’o

Who I’d Like To Win: Lupita Nyong’o

I swear to god. If the Academy gives Jennifer Lawrence the Oscar over Lupita Nyong’o….

Wait, no. I said I’m not going to get upset.

Okay.

Okay. Not upset.

It’s gonna be fine. They’re gonna give it to Lupita. Right?

…Right?

RIGHT?!

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Nominees: The Act of Killing, Cutie and the Boxer, Dirty Wars, The Square, 20 Feet From Stardom

My Pick: The Act of Killing

What I’d Like To Win: The Act of Killing

Okay so I might not be the scholar on documentaries this year since I only saw The Act of Killing and Dirty Wars, but honestly, after reading up on the other nominees, I’m pretty convinced that The Act of Killing is going to take it. It was honestly one of the most disturbing films I have ever seen. And I sat through Cannibal Holocaust. It shook me to my absolute core and absolutely deserves recognition for that. It’s not for the faint of heart.

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Nominees: The Croods, Despicable Me 2, Ernest & Celestine, Frozen, The Wind Rises

My Pick: Frozen

What I’d Like To Win: Is it too early for The Lego Movie? #LegoMovie2015

Maybe I should care more about the Best Animated Picture category. But I don’t that much. I saw Frozen and watched The Croods while I was babysitting. I’m sure The Wind Rises is beautiful because Hayao always makes beautiful things, but let’s be real. It’s not going to win over the Disney/Pixar darling of the year.

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Nominees: The Broken Circle Breakdown, The Great Beauty, The Hunt, The Missing Picture, Omar

My Pick: What do you mean Blue is the Warmest Color wasn’t nominated?

What I’d Like To Win: What?

But it won the Palme D’or? I’m so confused? I don’t know. Roeper says The Great Beauty is going to win so I guess I’ll go with him on this one?

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Nominees:  American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyer’s Club, Gravity, 12 Years A Slave

My Pick: Gravity

What I’d Like To Win: I don’t care, Gravity I guess.

The editing in The Wolf of Wall Street was weirdly off par for a Martin Scorsese movie. That’s the only thing that blew my mind when it comes to editing this year. Anyway, yeah, Gravity. Whatever.

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Nominees: American Hustle, Gravity, The Great Gatsby (why?), Her, 12 Years A Slave

My Pick: American Hustle.

What I’d Like To Win: Please god, anything but The Great Gatsby. Her, if the gods are good.

This is the only award I’d be okay with American Hustle winning, only because it means it would beat out The Great Gatsby, which is a film that made me so mad on so many different levels. Go David O! You got this! Screw Baz Luhrmann! Woo!

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Nominees: The Grandmaster, Gravity, Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska, Prisoners

My Pick: Gravity

What I’d Like To Win: INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS OH MY GOD

Because this is one of the few categories Inside Llewyn Davis is actually nominated for, I would love for it to win. It deserves everything this year. It was so perfect. I don’t know why it got snubbed. Please, someone explain it to me. Somebody, please. PLEASE. IT WAS SO GOOD. IT WAS SO GOOD. 

Along a similar vein, if the Cinematography category is apparently the “here let’s throw the snubbed best picture guy sin here” category this year, then why wasn’t Cianfrance nominated for The Place Beyond The Pines? And even though the movie itself was sort of terrible, Refn’s Only God Forgives was pretty beautiful. And Jeff Nichols’ Mud was gorgeous too.

Also, the cinematography in 12 Years a Slave was absolutely impeccable. Did the Academy just… forget? Or something?

Whatever. Who knows.

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Nominees: Gravity, The Hobbit, Iron Man 3, The Lone Ranger, Star Trek: Into Darkness

My Pick: Gravity

What I’d Like To Win: Gravity

I liked how this category just sort of forgot that Pacific Rim existed this summer as well.

The Lone Ranger now gets to put “Oscar Nominee” on the dvd box. Let that sink in.

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Nominees: Dallas Buyers Club, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, The Lone Ranger

My Pick: Wha… Dallas Buyers Club, obviously.

What I’d Like To Win: I mean… obviously.

I am so confused.

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Nominees: American Hustle, The Grandmaster, The Great Gatsby, The Invisible Woman, 12 Years A Slave

My Pick: The Great Gatsby

What I’d Like To Win: Literally anything but The Great Gatsby

I don’t care if the costumes were pretty, I hated that stupid movie.

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Nominees: The Book Thief, Gravity, Her, Philomena, Saving Mr. Banks

My Pick: Stephen Brice, Gravity

What I’d Like To Win: HER PLEASE PLEASE

My favorite thing about the Best Original Score category is that no matter what movie he’s scoring, John Williams will, without fail, be nominated. He could score the next Transformers film and they’d put him in here. He won’t always win, but he’ll always be nominated. Anyway, Gravity is going to take it, but I would cry out of joy if Owen Pallett & William Butler got their recognition for their Her score because it was absolutely gorgeous. Not just because I’m a crazy Arcade Fire fan and not only because I fangirl over Owen Pallett’s other work, but because it actually is genuinely one of the prettiest scores I’ve heard in a long time. But oh well.

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Nominees: Despicable Me 2, Frozen, Her, Mandela

My Pick: Let It Go, Frozen

What I’d Like To Win: Anybody but U2

I am championing for Pharrell to get a start on his EGOT this year. The Moon Song from Her is beautiful as well. Frozen is going to win, because duh, but it’s all all right, because as long as I don’t have to look at Bono’s dumb sunglasses as he gets an Oscar, I’ll be contented.

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Nominees: All Is Lost, Captain Phillips, Grabity, The Hobbit, Lone Survivor

My Pick: Gravity

What I’d Like To Win: Gravity

Let’s not pretend any of the films mentioned this year are better than Gravity in terms of sound, when the sound editing in Gravity was pretty much what made the movie. 

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Nominees: Captain Phillips, Gravity, The Hobbit, Inside Llewyn Davis, Lone Survivor

My Pick:  Sigh. Gravity.

What I’d Like To Win: ………Inside Llewyn Davis….?

There’s a joke to be made about gravity belts here. Like, one more win for Gravity to put under it’s Belt?

Haha?

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Nominees: Before Midnight, Captain Phillips, Philomena, 12 Years A Slave, The Wolf of Wall Steet

My Pick: 12 Years a Slave

What I’d Like To Win:  The Wolf of Wall Street

Finally, a category that actually has some competition. So I’m pretty sure that 12 Years is going to get it because it was an impeccable script. It was written really theatrically and I loved it for that, the language was just as beautiful as the performances and the cinematography. It was amazing.

That being said, if the Wolf of Wall Street’s record-breaking curse parade of a script won a bloody Oscar for best screenplay… well that would just be great, wouldn’t it?

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Nominees: American Hustle, Blue Jasmine, Dallas Buyers Club, Her, Nebraska

My Pick: Her

What I’d Like To Win: Please, please, please, please Her. Just, not American Hustle. Not for best original screenplay. This is my category. David, you can have the rest of the Oscars. You can have best picture if you want, I don’t care. Just please, don’t take this away from me. It’s all I have.

I believe in you, Spike. I believe in you. 

Well that was fun. I don’t know why I’m putting in this last little bit to talk about snubbed films since I pretty much covered it in the breakdown, but whatever. Doin’ it anyway.

So, yeah, Mud was an amazing movie that came out this year. And it came out the same day as The Great Gatsby so I don’t know why Gatsby is getting some nods while Mud is getting left behind. I think that was McConaughey’s performance of the year–real talk–better than Dallas Buyers Club, even. And the cinematography was absolutely beautiful.

A Place Beyond The Pines is sort of a polarizing film, but I think Bradley Cooper’s performance in that far surpassed his in American Hustle. The screenplay was also fantastic, and yet, nothing.

Pacific Rim, I know, is not exactly what comes to mind when you think of an Oscar Worthy Film, but heck. Not even for Visual Effects? The Oscars threw a nod at Michael Bay for visual effects, and they can’t give one to Guillermo? Come on.

There was a lot of controversy in regards to the french film Blue Is The Warmest Color. I think it was something having to do with the timing of it’s release that didn’t allow it to get thrown into the Oscar pool which is why it wasn’t nominated for the respective categories it should’ve been (Best lead/supporting actress, best foreign film, probably best picture even) but I’m going to mention it here anyway just because I can.

I really don’t think I need to mention Inside Llewyn Davis again. What was the Academy thinking. What were they thinking?! Not even just for Best Picture, but Oscar Isaac’s performance was so out of this world I can’t believe he wasn’t recognized for it. I guess he has to change his name to Golden Globe Isaac now.

Have a great Oscar Sunday, everyone.

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Review: Steve McQueen’s “12 Years A Slave”

There’s something to be said for our society when, upon viewing a trailer for a film that deals with the topic of slavery in the United States, it is immediately dismissed as “Oscar Bait.” I myself am no stranger to jumping to that particular conclusion (sometimes faster than I thought possible). It is something that comes almost naturally. In fact, a lot of period pieces in general, of any kind, tend to bring about this response in audiences. And, upon watching the film, do not do anything to quell said response. War Films, Biopics, et cetera, all share an emotionally-stirring idiosyncrasy that just seems to scream “well that director wants an award.” In a way it has almost trivialized the events that they are covering. That is not to say that these types of films are bad films, because they aren’t—more often than not they are without a doubt what anyoone would consider a Good Film, but in such a by-the-book way that it can almost reduce the film going experience entirely. Something too wrought with swelling scores and emotive speeches breaches cliché territory, indeed, breaches “Oscar Bait” territory, and quickly. It is—and I say this only for hyperbolic purposes—almost a little insulting that studios can produce these almost manipulative and sometimes seemingly passionless films in search of a buck or perhaps an award for the mantle.

However, there are times when a period piece film comes along that makes me realize that those kinds of films do not always fall into Oscar Bait territory. Take, for example, Steve McQueen’s recent monument, 12 Years a Slave.

I wasn’t familiar with the book the film was based off, but I knew more or less what to expect with the subject matter, considering the title. However, I knew not to expect the run of the mill Civil-War-era period piece from Steve McQueen, who had demonstrated his incredibly poignant and subtle direction through his past works (Shame and Hunger), and thus I was pretty excited for the film beforehand. Taking into account the cast too, I  had a feeling that this wasn’t going to be just “another one of those.” And, lo and behold, it gloriously wasn’t.

In fact, 12 Years A Slave is potentially one of the most fulfilling, endearing, and painful films in this particular genre to watch. I say painful not in that it is bad, because it certainly is not, but in that it is agonizingly realistic. And beautifully so–disturbingly long sequences depicting the mistreatment of humans in pre-13th Amendment days so gloriously shot by McQueen’s visionary eye stirs the viewer in the most honest of ways. The performances in the film are standout, specifically in the newcomer Lupita Nyong’o, who is for sure due for an award or two this season. She is electric, and the same can be said for the rest of the cast; Michael Fassbender, a McQueen favorite, shakes the screen with a terrifying portrayal of cognitive dissonance. And of course there is the star of the show, Chiwetel Ejiofor, who truly comes into his own, with longing expressions lighting up the screen every moment. Everyone else, from Benedict Cumberbatch who is very rapidly climbing his way to the top of the A List, to the classic Paul Dano, really put on their war faces for this film, and it shows. It is a perfect storm of cinematography and performance.

In sum, 12 Years A Slave, though with a mere glance at the title seems to be Oscar Bait, is most certainly not: it is honest, it is heart-throbbing, it is both a pain and a joy to watch, and it is a capital-c Classic. If no other antebellum-era picture, all must at least witness this.