I saw a majority of the Oscar nominated films recently. These are my thoughts on them.
Selma: I saw Selma this weekend. It is very timely as today is Martin Luther King Jr day. I have been reading all about people asserting it was snubbed in the acting and directing categories for the Oscars. I went to the film with an open mind and was hoping to be blown away. However, I was not. I was bored throughout most of the film. The acting was average at best. I did not see much transformation by the actors into the characters. It’s a great story and message to tell. However, this movie Selma did not deliver. It could’ve been so much better. I was very disappointed. My grade: C
Foxcatcher: I saw Foxcatcher in the theater with my dad when I was on vacation to Palm Springs. I was incredibly impressed with Steve Carell’s transformation into John du Pont. He was completely unrecognizable which is a testament to his talent as well as the costume department. Channing Tatum did a fine job though I thought he went in and out of his character and wasn’t truly immersed. Mark Ruffalo is always great at whatever he does. As small as her part was, Sienna Miller still delivered. Likewise, Vanessa Redgrave performed well as the disapproving matriarch. The movie was presented with a consistent beat. It kept me captivated in the story the whole time. I was completely thrown by the twist at the end. My grade: B+
American Sniper: I saw American Sniper this weekend as well. The theater was packed to the gills. Bradley Cooper keeps impressing me with all of his work he does. He’s the current heart throb and one would think he’d just be average. His immeasurable talent is what keep people coming back for more. In watching this film, you truly feel like you are with him and you are seeing what he sees through his scope. You feel the gravity of the situations. This is also a testament to Clint Eastwoods amazing directorial skills. When a movie is telling a true story, the filmmakers want to get it exactly right. Especially a movie like this dealing with war. It hits home for all Americans. In this movie you feel the beauty that Chris and Taya have in their love. You feel the tension with her wanting him home and he always having his feet planted on foreign soil. As an American you feel pride for soldiers such as Chris Kyle. You feel the horror when he reaches his untimely death. We as a nation really need to get a handle on how to help these soldiers with PTSD. Walking out of the theater after the movie, my stomach was clenched up and I felt tears pouring all through my body. My grade: A.
Theory of Everything– I believe this is my favorite movie that I’ve seen lately. In the beginning we start getting to know Stephen Hawking and his sharp mind. We see him meet Jane who would be the love of his life. We see them fall fast and deep into love. Then we as an audience and Hawking are jolted when he is diagnosed with motor neuron disease. We see it rapidly progress over time. Jane confidently and assuredly stands by her husband and takes care of him. They have 3 children over the years. Eventually the burden of his disease takes a toll on their marriage. They part ways and both marry other people–though Hawking’s second marriage doesn’t last. His main love has always been his work. He triumphantly proves his disease wrong with all that he is able to accomplish in his career. Eddie Redmayne most definitely deserves Best Actor at the Oscars. Felicity Jones who plays Jane definitely deserves her nomination. My grade: A.
Boyhood- I have always been a fan of writer/director Richard Linklater since the Before Sunrise/Before Sunset/Before Midnight films. I knew that I would love Boyhood. Over the span of 12 years, this film follows the childhood of a young boy Mason, played by Eller Coltrane. We also see his parents grow and change. Patricia Arquette plays the mom and Ethan Hawke is the dad. There isn’t anything complex to this story. It is a very natural unfolding of real life: the changes a boy goes through as he ages. In the middle of the story, I admit I felt bored and was wishing for something “to happen”. Then it clicks in me- life isn’t about “happenings”. It’s about the little things. It’s about being present for all the little moments. I definitely want to see Linklater win director of the year. My grade: A-.
Imitation Game- I went to this movie with a friend. It was an engaging film. It has a very interesting story of Alan Turing, the man who invented the first computer. He and his team use his invention to decode what the Nazis were doing during World War II, and therefore help the Allies win the war. Benedict Cumberbatch plays Turing and he plays it so well. He has excellent timing in his delivery. Keira Knightley did a good job as Joan Clarke. She is always great at immersing herself in the story. The supporting actors did well also. This is a solid film. My grade: A-.
Wild- I went to Wild on Christmas Day. I love everything that Reese Witherspoon is in. She did a fine job in this film, though I feel the standout performance is Laura Dern who plays Cheryl’s late mother. Cheryl journeys through grief as she walks the Pacific Coast Trail. We feel every physical ache and pain she feels. We feel the emotional depth of her heartbreak. I will say the film as a whole moved slowly. My grade: B.