Breaking Down the Race for Best Picture
By Michael Lomax and Becca Edelman
With the 86th Academy Awards in just a couple days, WEEKEND film buffs Michael Lomax and Becca Edelman exchanged a few emails to get an idea what to expect this Sunday night. This is an excerpt of what they came up with.
Michael Lomax: Another year, another batch of movies. I only hope we can redeem ourselves after being so down on “Argo” in 2013. (Seriously, I loved “Argo,” but Best Picture?) So first impressions of 2014’s nine nominees: and the Oscar goes to…?
Becca Edelman: “12 Years a Slave.” Most definitely. It deserves the win and I think the academy will comply. Not only has it been sweeping the pre-Oscar award ceremonies, but I would say it’s the most important American film of the past five few years.
ML: “12 Years a Slave” is the smart pick. I remember when “Gravity” was blowing people out of the water, but let’s be real, director Steve McQueen and screenwriter John Ridley both delivered a film that is moving, lyrical and literary all at once. Both men are winning their respective awards, and the race shouldn’t be very close.
BE: I enjoyed “Gravity,” but mostly for its elements of spectacle. Although I loved the vivid beauty of Alfonso Cuaron’s world, I cannot help but compare the film to the director’s other work, particularly “Children of Men,” which I feel far surpasses Gravity in its narrative depth. Certainly “Gravity” is a beautiful film with technological significance, but it misses the deeper social significance of films like “12 Years” or “Her.”
ML: I actually liked “Her” quite a lot, and of the nominees, it was my favorite. Solid writing, phenomenal visuals, moving performances — but it just doesn’t have the timbre of an Oscar-winning movie. (Though to be fair, I said the same thing about “Argo.”) You know what does instead? “Dallas Buyers Club.”
BE: The problem with “Her” is that some will see it as a rather small film about the life and problems of a single man. But it is in fact a brilliant exploration of what it means to be in a human relationship and, frankly, what it means to be human. If not for “12 Years,” “Her” would certainly be my pick. As for “Dallas Buyers Club,” there were some unbelievable performances, particularly Jared Leto’s. But for me, this is a film that tries to be big but ends up small. It felt like a never-ending series of melodramatic buildups to cliché, unsatisfying climaxes.
ML: I completely agree with you on the merits of “Her,” but by Oscar-timbre, I mean Oscar-bait. “A man falls in love with his computer” doesn’t have the same Academy-approved buzz-worthy ring as “a homophobic Texan gets AIDS in the 80s” or “a free Northern black man is captured and sold into slavery for twelve years.” The Oscar-bait tag also applies to movies made for their performances — of which, “Dallas Buyers” is a prime example. Leto and Matthew McConaughey are probably taking home the acting Oscars.
BE: But no nomination for Oscar Isaac? He carried the entirety of “Inside Llewyn Davis.” Speaking of that film, what a snub for the Coens!
ML: I’m not surprised by the “Inside Llewyn Davis” snubs, nor do I particularly care. I’ve watched it twice and been unimpressed both times. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an objectively good film, but I’ve come to expect more out of the Coens. “Llewyn Davis,” simply put, is just not all that spectacular.
BE: I don’t think the Coens did anything particularly new with “Llewyn Davis” — we’ve seen this kind of thing from them before. But the cinematography is beautiful, I found the performances compelling, and, as always from the Coens, “Llewyn Davis” is a thoughtful film, which I think has to count for something. I was certainly surprised that “Captain Phillips” was nominated instead.
ML: The cinematography in “Llewyn Davis” was about on par with any of the Coens’ other great movies, and for however thoughtful the film was, it was a relatively lazy effort from a pair of directors whose bar is already set through the roof. That being said, when we see that it was passed over in favor of “Philomena” and “Captain Phillips” — two movies clearly made to attract Oscar buzz — I can understand the outrage. But if we really think about it, does it matter who’s nominated fourth through ninth? “Llewyn Davis,” “Philomena,” “Captain Phillips,” etc. don’t stand a chance of winning big this Sunday.
BE: But isn’t being nominated an honor in itself? And what do you think of “Wolf of Wall Street?” Does it have a shot?
ML: It definitely is, but we’re talking about winners here, and speaking of which, “Wolf” won’t be winning much of anything. It’s one of my favorite Scorsese movies, but it’s proved too controversial and critically quiet to stand much of a chance at the Oscars.
BE: One of your favorite Scorsese’s? Sacrilege! On par with “Taxi Driver?” “Goodfellas?” “Raging Bull?” “Gangs of New York?” I even vastly prefer “Hugo.” In fact, my biggest problem with “Wolf” is its inability to escape the long shadow cast by “Goodfellas.” Both films watch young men rise in some sort of “industry,” quickly abandoning ethics when faced with the allure of money and power. Both films begin with a flash to the middle of the plot (interestingly, so does “American Hustle,” which also owes something to “Goodfellas”) and feature a voiceover narration from the main character. And both men eventually rat out their criminal cohorts. The problem with these similarities isn’t just that it’s repetitive. It’s that “Wolf of Wall Street” is inherently not as good a film as “Goodfellas.”
ML: I stand by what I said. It’s “one of” my favorites — not THE favorite. (Remember: Scorsese has made a lot of movies, and many of them have been duds.) I do agree that “Wolf” is probably too similar to “Goodfellas” for people to take it seriously, but for however much the two films match stylistically, they depict incredibly different worlds. That, and “Wolf” is absolutely hilarious from start to finish.
It was about this time that the email chain fell silent. Regardless, Lomax and Edelman see “12 Years a Slave” cleaning up the major awards. Tune into ABC this Sunday to find out for yourself.
Contact Michael Lomax at firstname.lastname@example.org and Becca Edelman at email@example.com .
WKND PRECAPS THE OSCARS, 2014
By Sara Jones
What are you doing Sunday night? Watching the 86th Academy Awards, if you have a soul. Honestly, though, tell me, what can you possibly have that’s any better to do, now that Sochi 2014 came and went (other than maybe mourning the fact that Sochi 2014 came and went)? On a related note, ice skating commentators extraordinaire Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski WILL BE BACK. The dynamic duo has been signed on by Access Hollywood to do red carpet fashion commentary, which basically translates to “take the Oscars’ by storm, in all of their sequined, outfit-coordinated glory.” That’s the sound of your dreams coming true, in case you weren’t aware.
Join WEEKEND as we pregame cap the best Sunday of the year, which mostly means predict/judge the fashion choices of three of our favorite famous people ever. We always knew we’d make great celebrity stylists, anyways.
In honor of Throwback Thursday, let’s take a little walk down memory lane (carpet?). Exactly one year ago Sunday, Duvet-gate broke. The iconic fall happened. Not one, but three, Dior ad campaigns were offered up as tribute (Hunger Games reference, get it?). #WeAreAllJ.LawTonight
Luckily, none of this seems to have fazed everyone’s favorite celeb-next-door in the slightest, and Jennifer’s back, Best Supporting Actress nomination in hand, for Round 2. In our dreams, she would be rocking this Saint Laurent Spring 2014 jumpsuit-tuxedo, which has the added benefit of safeguarding against “Jen Takes a Tumble, the Second.” In reality, though, we all know she’s gonna go Dior (duh). If Weekend has any say, we really, really hope it’s this gorgeous white A-line, or this playfully polka-dotted strapless, both from the house’s Spring 2014 Couture collection.
At this point, it’s basically household knowledge that Amy Adams murdered it in American Hustle. Between her stellar performance and the sartorial magic worked by costume designer Michael Wilkinson (also up for an award…Best Costume Design, obviously), the film was a dramatic and visual feast. Who knew the 70s could look so good?
At the Golden Globes, the auburn beauty paid homage to A.H.’s aesthetic (and disco fever’s plunging necklines) in a stunning red Valentino. The real question for this weekend: will Amy opt for 70s revival one more time, or go for something a bit more understated? Whatever Adams chooses, Weekend can’t wait…to offer our 2¢. In camp #1, we want her in this sparkly, neutral-and-gold masterpiece, this billowy nude number (both Valentino Spring 2014 Couture), or this ethereal S/S ’14 Elie Saab. In camp #2, we’re partial to this high-necked (also gold, also very sparkly) Oscar de la Renta F/W ’14 column gown. Go gold or go home, we say.
Lupita Nyong’o DRA ’12
After a quick survey of the all-powerful World Wide Web, it seems that more than a few are calling Lupita the hands-down Best Supporting Actress favorite for her role in 12 Years a Slave. (Did we mention she’s a grad of the Yale Drama School?)
Whether you’ve seen the film or not, anyone who half-pays attention knows that Nyong’o is not just a rising star on the silver screen, but an emerging fashion darling off it as well. A quick run-through of some of her best looks, shall we? The teal Gucci at the SAG Awards: dying. The caped Ralph Lauren at the Golden Globes: dying. The white gown she wore at the Critics’ Choice Awards: dead. Between jewel tones, daring cutouts, and even a jumpsuit Lupita makes the red carpet green with envy.
Because Nyong’o’s never one to shy away from a pattern, our vote is for this one-shouldered Carolina Herrera (F/W 2014). Or what about this bright red Prabal Gurung (F/W 2014)? Or, actually, if Weekend has anything to say, it’s this black Alexander McQueen (S/S 2014) that takes the cake, updating the classic body-skimming, floor-length silhouette with more than a few of Lupita’s signature daring cutouts.
Contact Sara Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Different Kind of Oscar Meter
By Mason Kroll
The Oscars are a time of magic. Before a backdrop of red carpet glamour and award season hype, Hollywood’s best will arrive on Sunday to witness the 86th year of celebrating movie excellence. And whether you are a casual ceremony viewer or you have nine Oscar blogs bookmarked on your Google Chrome, you are most definitely in need of the eight limericks below to make the most of your Academy Awards experience.
“12 Years a Slave” once set the pace
With new looks at slave’ry and race.
But a PGA draw,
And no DGA awe,
Means it may go to Bullock in space.
Though Lupita may be the champ,
There’s passion within JLaw’s camp.
But if she prepares
For a walk up the stairs,
Let’s just hope that they put in a ramp.
We’ve arrived at a realization
About Meryl’s profuse admiration:
Put her with the groups
Filming “Everyone Poops”
And she’ll get her 19th nomination.
For the Oscars I’ve thought up a theory
You won’t win if your film isn’t teary.
But a film gaining clout
Is a movie about
Having sex with a surrogate Siri.
With Ellen, the Oscar guys hope
For a show with a far broader scope.
I’m sure in her greeting
She won’t be repeating
MacFarlane’s “We Saw Your Boobs” trope.
A Broadway star adds her allure
To the “Best Song” original four.
Idina will belt,
As the filmmakers melt
And hope to defy “Gravity’s” lure.
When choosing your Oscars attire,
Please know the results may be dire.
A cut that’s too low,
Or an overlarge bow,
Is akin to a fall on a pyre.
What happened to poor Mr. Banks?
No love here for Thompson or Hanks.
It’s left with no more
Than a nom for it’s score —
Just one less than where “Lone Ranger” ranks.
Contact Mason Kroll at email@example.com .
WEEKEND’s Oscar Picks: