Archive for February, 2016

2015 Best Picture Review in 1120 Characters or More

26 Feb

It has been almost a year since the 2015 Oscars were handed out, and while one could say this piece is late (obvious and true), one could say it is also quite innovative and timely given that the 2016 Oscars are this Sunday (big lies). In any event here are my reviews of all eight best picture nominees because while a year overdue  I wanted to put the 16 hours or so I invested in watching each of these nominated movies (a rare feat in itself) to some use…

American Sniper: Although both leads acted incredibly well in this movie, there was something unsettling about the whole glamorization of war, or more specifically the war machine itself. Whereas classics like All Quiet on the Western Front and Platoon depicted the horrors of war, this movie although depicting some of the internal conflict of the individual solider, as a whole came off as rather indifferent to the causalities, human rights abuses, power-politics, and overall horrors inherent in war. I heard a plastic baby was the reason this movie did not win best picture, but common sense tells me it was common sense.

Birdman: The review of this movie is simple: Worst. Best-Picture. Ever. When gimmicks far exceed the quality of the story you have a problem and this movie has one of the biggest chasms between story quality and (cheap) theatrics I have ever seen. As such, while the acting may have been solid, this genre of over the top yet pointless movie-making filled with inane chatter is not for those who enjoy quality cinema and at times it made me wonder if Quentin Tarantino had directed this movie in addition to that repugnant spaghetti western of his. While I praise those who try to be avant-garde like Scorsese (Goodfellas), Hitchcock (Psycho), or Kubrick (in anything), just like those cinematic triumphs one must cautiously balance between story and the cinematic and carefully walk that fine line between genius and bullshit. This movie, along with just about Tarantino has done, fails miserably to do so.

Boyhood: Although I could simply write “see above”, I will not and just state that once again we have a film that attempts to engage the audience with novelty over substance. You filmed a movie over 14 or so years, terrific, perhaps next time during those 14 years you could devise an interesting storyline or some likable characters. In fact the only triumph this movie had was avoiding a Razzie nomination for its young lead because in no way was I convinced that this whimsical kid was some kind of ladies’ man.

The Grand Budapest Hotel: Simply awful. I have no idea what this was supposed to be and if this movie had somehow won best picture it would have not only supplanted Birdman as the worst picture ever, but would have been the greatest travesty in Oscar history. Well, maybe Dances with Wolves beating out GoodFellas would still reign supreme but it would certainly have been close.  

The Imitation Game: In my opinion this was the best movie of the year and its producers should have gone down to the Beverly Hills police station and filed a robbery report against whoever was behind that atrocious Birdman. The film was gripping from start to finish, was paced beautifully, and brilliantly acted. In any almost any other year Benedict Cumberbatch walks away with the Best Actor but unfortunately he was narrowly bested by another Brit, Eddie Redmayne. 

The Theory of Everything: Like The Imitation Game a this film was a touching and sensitive movie with amazing force. Although pacing of the movie was problematic in parts, overall this film is an excellent movie which is character driven, brilliantly acted, and had an excellent and compelling story. More proof you do not need cheap theatrics to win over audiences (but I guess they do help in bowling over impressionable critics and dubious Oscar voters).

Selma: Both the story and visual presentation were absolutely on point making for a very good movie. The acting was also very good, however I would have like to have seen a greater back story and more in the aftermath of Martin Luther King’s life. However, what the film did excellently was to show both the strengths and weaknesses of one of history’s greatest men making the film all the more realistic and engaging.

Whiplash: Although somewhat of a niche film, it was brilliantly acted by both Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons. With respect to the former, Teller’s performance in this film which stands in contrast to his humorous performances iwithinn the comedy genre provide for a very broad spectrum of acting abilities that he navigates so well that he reminds me of a young Tom Hanks. In regards to Simmons his Oscar gold is proof that sometimes, despite the travesties, the Oscar brass and the voters still can get it right.  

Comments Off

Posted in Uncategorized