The Oscar monologues, Part two: Piers Marchant

February 28, 2014

On Feb 15, 2014, at 9:14 AM, Philip Martin wrote:

Thanks all.

We’re doing a couple more categories this year. Please return ASAP, with, as always, a single self-descriptive sentence. Don’t feel pressured to play if you don’t want to — the prizes suck.

PM

Best Picture
◦ American Hustle
◦ Captain Phillips
◦ Dallas Buyers Club
◦ Gravity
◦ Her
◦ Nebraska
◦ Philomena
◦ 12 Years a Slave
◦ The Wolf of Wall Street

Gravity: 12 Years is certainly deserving, and I wouldn’t kick about it or Her winning (from the films nominated — I find it appalling Inside Llewyn Davis didn’t make the cut, even after they had an open spot for it), but the most technically astounding film this year was also the one that left me the most breathless. My film of the year was actually The Hunt (see foreign film nominees), but Gravity was also utterly captivating.

Best Actor in a Leading Role
◦ Christian Bale (American Hustle)
◦ Bruce Dern (Nebraska)
◦ Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street)
◦ Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)
◦ Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)

McConaughey: With apologies to both DiCaprio and Ejiofor, who were both excellent, I thought MM so completely embodied his character, far beyond the physical, that he raised the level of the film about 40% on his own.

Best Actress in a Leading Role
◦ Amy Adams (American Hustle
◦ Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
◦ Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
◦ Judi Dench (Philomena)
◦ Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)

Blanchett: Hate to keep going chalk on these, and the film itself was riddled with issues (Allen is absolutely helpless when he has to write blue-collar characters), but Blanchett was an absolute marvel. Streep might have easily gotten my vote, but Blanchett had a whole lot less to work with, cast-wise, and still pulled off a stunning performance.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role
◦ Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)
◦ Bradley Cooper (American Hustle)
◦ Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)
◦ Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street)
◦ Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

Cooper: I’ve never seen him better. Fassbender and Leto were both good — after Leto’s initial scene, at least — but Bradley seemed like he finally had a role that allowed him to showcase his chops, something he’s been searching for a while.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role
◦ Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine)
◦ Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
◦ Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
◦ Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)
◦ June Squibb (Nebraska)

Nyong’o: She was absolutely mesmerizing, able to draw out her character’s absolute misery but also imbue it with a dignity that sometimes bordered on petulant. Hers was arguably the most important role in the film, and Nyong’o was nothing short of brilliant.

Best Animated Feature
◦ The Croods (Chris Sanders, Kirk DeMicco, Kristine Belson)
◦ Despicable Me 2 (Chris Renaud, Pierre Coffin, Chris Meledandri)
◦ Ernest & Celestine (Benjamin Renner, Didier Brunner)
◦ Frozen (Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee, Peter Del Vecho)
◦ The Wind Rises (Hayao Miyazaki, Toshio Suzuki)

Can’t comment on this one as haven’t seen them all.

Best Cinematography
◦ The Grandmaster (Philippe Le Sourd)
◦ Gravity (Emmanuel Lubezki)
◦ Inside Llewyn Davis (Bruno Delbonnel)
◦ Nebraska (Phedon Papamichael)
◦ Prisoners (Roger A. Deakins)

Grandmaster: It kills me not to have Gravity or Llewyn Davis here, both of which were tremendous, but The Grandmaster was so visually delicious, it simply couldn’t be denied.

Best Director
◦ American Hustle (David O. Russell)
◦ Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón)
◦ Nebraska (Alexander Payne)
◦ 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen)
◦ The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese)

Gravity: Well, for cohesion’s sake, it would have to be the director of my Best Picture pick. It was an excellent year for cinema and there are many directors I wouldn’t quibble with winning this award, but give it to the guy that labored for four years to make this spectacle.

Best Documentary Feature
◦ The Act of Killing (Joshua Oppenheimer, Signe Byrge Sørensen)
◦ Cutie and the Boxer (Zachary Heinzerling, Lydia Dean Pilcher)
◦ Dirty Wars (Richard Rowley, Jeremy Scahill)
◦ The Square (Jehane Noujaim, Karim Amer)
◦ 20 Feet from Stardom (Nominees to be determined)

Can’t comment since I haven’t seen all of them.

Best Foreign Language Film
◦ The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium)
◦ The Great Beauty (Italy)
◦ The Hunt (Denmark)
◦ The Missing Picture (Cambodia)
◦ Omar (Palestine)

The Hunt: Absolutely brilliant film from Thomas Vinterberg. Simple in concept, incredibly layered and nuanced in its form. Short of 12 Years a Slave, it might have been the film most telling about the true, terrifying nature of the human condition.

Best Visual Effects
◦ Gravity (Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk, Neil Corbould)
◦ The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton, Eric Reynolds)
◦ Iron Man 3 (Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash, Dan Sudick)
◦ The Lone Ranger (Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams, John Frazier)
◦ Star Trek Into Darkness (Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossmann, Burt Dalton)

Gravity: No further explanation needed.

Best Adapted Screenplay
◦ Before Midnight (Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke)
◦ Captain Phillips (Billy Ray)
◦ Philomena (Steve Coogan, Jeff Pope)
◦ 12 Years a Slave (John Ridley)
◦ The Wolf of Wall Street (Terence Winter)

Before Midnight: The simple fact that those fascinating, wrap-around au natural conversations are NOT just drunkenly improvised acting exercises but thoroughly scripted and refined prose still astounds me. One of the hardest kinds of writing there is to do, and these three just keep producing magic.

Best Original Screenplay
◦ American Hustle (Eric Warren Singer, David O. Russell)
◦ Blue Jasmine (Woody Allen)
◦ Dallas Buyers Club (Craig Borten, Melisa Wallack)
◦ Her (Spike Jonze)
◦ Nebraska (Bob Nelson)
Her: If for nothing else, the degree of difficulty is through the roof. Do you realize how many ways this imminently moving film could have gone wrong? Yet, Jonze sticks to his vision and coaxes truly swoon-worthy stuff from its masterful conception.

Piers Marchant
Film Critic/Editor


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