This Sunday night is the 86th Academy Awards, known to you and me as “The Oscars”. A little while ago I wrote a panicky blog post despairing over the fact that I had only seen one of the nine nominated films for Best Picture. The blog post was really just a little pep talk to myself, telling me that it was okay that I hadn’t seen more of these films, and to just CALM THE HELL DOWN. Which I did. And I’m happy to report that I’ve now since DOUBLED the number of Oscar nominees viewed, so I’m half-way there people! (I’m not that great at the maths.) I’ve also ordered all of the best picture nominees through my connections at the library, so I’ll be viewing them in the comfort and privacy of my living room in the near future, pants optional!
Having said all that, we pulled ourselves out of our funk here at the MBM offices, stuck on a clean shirt and brushed our teeth, and now we are ready to run down the nine nominees as you get ready to make your Oscar predictions this weekend. We bring you the OUTSIDE SCOOP.
Sir Steve Coogan and Dame Judi Dench play fictional versions of themselves as they tour around little hotels and pubs in the north of England. The best scene in this movie is when the two leads try to outdo each other’s Sean Connery impressions. Delightful!
ACTUALLY ONE OF THE MOVIES I SAW. Last October. I’m happy to report that I was a real man about it and watched it not only in 3D but in IMAX 3D. The only enhancement we didn’t go for was the “D-Box” technology. Were you aware of it? A row of seats in some theatres are rigged up so that at certain exciting points of the movie the seats will actually shake, rumble and vibrate. We were actually sitting a row in front of these “D-Box” seats and I could STILL feel a slight rumble at certain parts. I think you can control the intensity with a dial on each seat, but if you actually pay the extra $10, why wouldn’t you want to have it cranked to a 10, despite its vomit or orgasm inducing consequences (or both!). Gosh, what would that be like? A pukegasm? No thanks, friend. All I know is that I sat in these seats for Blue Jasmine and they only rumbled when Louis C.K. was on the screen. What’s THAT all about?
12 Years a Slave
Speaking of vomiting, I haven’t seen this film, but my brother-in-law and his girlfriend saw this Brad Pitt vehicle back in October. They were a ways into the movie when the guy in front of them leaned over and PUKED IN THE AISLE. (No, he wasn’t in a D-Box seat, everybody!). The guy could not stop puking and they actually stopped the movie and put the lights up and made the classic call, “Is there a doctor in the house?” and sure enough there WAS. And the doctor checked him out and apparently he ate some questionable clams before the movie which made me already queasy, and apparently there is a quite a graphic scene of torture near the beginning of the movie that set this guy off. Well, they cleaned up the puke, ushered the guy out, apologized to the theatre (no offer of free passes, though, which kind of sucks) and then they BACKED THE MOVIE UP ABOUT 5 MINUTES, so everyone had to sit through the violent torture scene again, but this time you had the added bonus of puke/bleach in the air. Despite all that, they enjoyed the film and on that note alone it is my pick for Best Picture. (Although I’d rather be having orgasms in Gravity than puking in 12 years, but that’s just me.)
Paul Greengrass is known to pay remarkable attention to detail when he makes “based on true events” kinds of movies. For example, when he and his producers decided to make United 93, the story of one of the doomed flights on 9/11 (the one that crashed in Pennsylvania) they decided they would only make it if they got permission from the families of every passenger on the flight. (I’m assuming this didn’t include the terrorists). This process took years, and when they finally got the permissions, they wanted to portray each character as accurately as possible, discussing with the family things like “would your husband have been reading the NY Times or the Wall Street Journal” or “would your son have been into Marvel or DC comics”, and then tried to make sure that each passenger was given an appropriate look that would ring true for the families. Having said all this, I can only assume that the real Captain Phillips, captain of the hijacked Maersk Alabama, has an unconvincing Boston accent in real life too.
Dallas Buyers Club
People are talking about the wonderful performances of Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto in this film, but this story about one man’s fight to get access to outlawed AIDS medication is not without its controversy. For example, Matthew McConaughey did not actually lose all that weight for the role, he just wore baggier clothes. And some people were upset that they didn’t cast an actual transgendered person in Jared Leto’s role. That reminds me of the flack that the producers of Glee got when they cast that able-bodied Woody Alleny looking chap in the role of that fellow in the wheelchair. And remember all the fuss when people hoped they would cast an actual black man to play Ray Charles, but they went with Jamie Foxx instead? Oh, Hollywood! I don’t know about you, but I’m very much looking forward to seeing this movie, and I’ve heard that it was such a success that they are already working on a sequel, tentatively titled, “Houston Buyers Club”. I smell a franchise, baby!
I know ZERO about this movie, except that it has that MacGruber guy in it, it’s shot in black and white, and it’s from Alexander Payne. I’m all over the map with Alexander Payne. I liked Citizen Ruth and Election. Skipped About Schmidt. LOVED Sideways and HATED The Descendents. So who knows? I went to see Inside Llewyn Davis over the holidays, and I turned to my friend 5 minutes in and said, “I thought this was in black in white”. and he corrected me. “You’re thinking of Nebraska.” Was I? I just hope you get to set a lot of corn. #cornwatch2014
I’ve wanted to see this one ever since it was released on Christmas Day, but just haven’t made the time for it. David O. Russell is a little like Alexander Payne for me, in the sense that I’ve had an uneven history with his films. Here’s the quick low down: Didn’t see Spanking the Monkey (sounded painful), hated Flirting with Disaster (but to be fair it starred Ben Stiller), loved Three Kings when I originally saw it in the theatre with my Mom, but when I saw it more recently on TV with my wife I was APPALLED at how violent it was. I thought I Heart Huckabees was trying too hard, but there is that wonderful footage of Lily Tomlin yelling on set, so we’ll always have that. The Fighter did nothing for me, but Silver Linings Playbook was my favourite movie from last year. So I don’t know what to think of American Hustle. It has some of the cast of SLPB with the addition of Amy Adams’ boobies (yay!) and serious Batman guy’s gut (meh), so it’s a real mixed bag! I’m thinking an interesting double feature will be to watch this movie and The Sting in the same evening. Both are heist movies, but the The Sting was filmed in the 1970’s but took place in the 1920’s. American Hustle was filmed recently but took place in the 1970’s (I think), so: connections.
THE SECOND MOVIE IN THIS LIST THAT I’VE ACTUALLY SEEN. I had a feeling I’d like this one, and I did. Spike Jonze has a wonderful way of taking a simple idea and riffing on it over the length of a film. I was super skeptical of anyone trying to adapt Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are into a movie a few years ago. I mean, the book is like 8 pages long and there are like 10 lines of text (I’m guessing here, but I welcome your corrective emails). I was afraid that it would super shitty like all those Dr. Seuss adaptations, but it was such a great movie, thanks to Spike Jonze. I could just watch it again and again, and I’ll admit something here: (I’m not that huge a fan of the original book, so I didn’t really have a vested interest in it turning out well). So it goes with Her. In the near future, a man downloads a new operating system (think Suri from Apple, but voiced by Scarlett Johansen), and slowly develops a close relationship with it, and eventually falls in love. It’s sort of a traditional love story in some ways, except that the dude is making it with his phone. But this description is sort of short-changing the experience of watching it. It leaves you with so many feelings, and I was thinking about this movie for days afterwards, which doesn’t happen all that often.
The Wolf of Wall Street
When Wes Anderson released his debut film Bottle Rocket in 1996, Martin Scorsese was one of the first directors to recognize Mr. Anderson’s brilliance and hailed him as the next big thing. Interesting that things have come full circle, with Scorsese filming a live action remake of Anderson’s The Fantastic Mr. Fox. and calling it The Wolf of Wall Street! I’m not sure why they changed the main character from a fox to a wolf, and got Leonardo instead of Clooney, but those are artistic decisions best left to closed-door meetings between Scorsese and Thelma Schoonmaker. Word on the street was that Anderson was so taken with this loving homage, that his next project will be a remake of Scorsese’s The King of Comedy, with Bill Murray in the Jerry Lewis role and Jason Schwartzman in the Robert DeNiro role. Oh Hollywood!
Enjoy the Oscars, everyone!