Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

31 January 2014

Oscar Nominees 2014: Part 4 of 14

Blue Jasmine
3 Nominations
  • Actress: Cate Blanchett (I'm Not There., Elizabeth: the Golden Age, Notes on a Scandal, The Aviator, Elizabeth)
  • Original Screenplay: Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris, Match Point, Deconstructing Harry, Mighty Aphrodite, Bullets over Broadway, Husbands and Wives, Alice, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Radio Days, Hannah and Her Sisters, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Broadway Danny Rose, Manhattan, Interiors, Annie Hall)
  • Supporting Actress: Sally Hawkins
Director: Allen
Cast: Blanchett, Bobby Cannavale, Hawkins, Alec Baldwin, Andrew Dice Clay, Michael Stuhlbarg, Peter Sarsgaard, Louis C.K., Max Casella

I sort of hated this, and I fail to understand how this managed a Best Original Screenplay nomination, especially in a year that was more crowded in Original than it was in Adapted (it is usually the other way around). Allen, by the way, is the most nominated screenwriter of all time with 15 nominations and 3 wins. Billy Wilder is the next runner up, with 12 nominations and 3 wins. On the Supporting Actress front, I am really happy for Sally Hawkins. Her nomination was sort of a surprise (she took Oprah's spot!) but she has been doing solid work in Hollywood since her breakthrough in Mike Leigh's Happy-Go-Lucky, and she deserves this. Blanchett has the Oscar in the bag, and, again, this is well deserved. She is superb in Blue Jasmine (no matter how bad I think the film itself is) and she has never won, despite being excellent in absolutely every movie in which she has appeared. [Actually, I will make one exception to this: that Good German mess.]
Will Win: Actress
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #66 out of 75

The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug
3 Nominations
  • Sound Mixing
  • Sound Editing
  • Visual Effects
Director: Peter Jackson
Cast: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Luke Evans, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Benedict Cumberbatch, Aidan Turner, Dean O'Gorman, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, William Kircher, James Nesbitt, Stephen Hunter, John Callen, Stephen Fry, Sylvester McCoy

This is an epic mess, filled (as all its predecessors have been) with sweeping vistas, long crossings over very thin bridges, rather a lot of bad dialogue, and an always present sense of foreboding and doom. This particular film is also about running. It is the second in a planned trilogy and ends with a cliffhanger. The most recent film in The Hobbit series also received three Oscar nominations – Makeup, Production Design, and Visual Effects – this second one exchanges Makeup and Production Design for Sound Mixing and Sound Editing primarily because of the increased amount of swordfighting, running, and dragons slithering over mountains of golden treasure. But, look: the magic, if not the money, has gone out of Jackson's Middle Earth franchise. The Lord of the Rings trilogy garnered a whopping 30 nominations and 17 Oscar statuettes. All of those films were nominated for Best Picture. If the Academy has enough good will that it feels as though it needs to nominate this franchise, it certainly does not have enough good will to vote for it to win – certainly not over Gravity, which should best this film in all of its categories.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #55 out of 75

August: Osage County
2 Nominations
  • Actress: Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady, Julie & Julia, Doubt, The Devil Wears Prada, Adaptation., Music of the Heart, One True Thing, The Bridges of Madison County, Postcards from the Edge, A Cry in the Dark, Ironweed, Out of Africa, Silkwood, Sophie's Choice, The French Lieutenant's Woman, Kramer vs. Kramer, The Deer Hunter)
  • Supporting Actress: Julia Roberts (Erin Brockovich, Pretty Woman, Steel Magnolias)
Director: John Wells
Cast: Roberts, Streep, Julianne Nicholson, Ewan McGregor, Margo Martindale, Juliette Lewis, Chris Cooper, Abigail Breslin, Dermot Mulroney, Benedict Cumberbatch, Misty Upham, Sam Shepard

Meryl Streep again, huh? I guess I'm the only one who is surprised that this film got talked about as much as it did. It was a big Tony-award-winning play that was heralded as the most important USAmerican play in a decade or whatever, but Tracy Letts' adaptation misses the mark. It's strangely stagey in places it doesn't need to be, and Letts refuses to cut the dialogue he loves so much (he had a similar problem with the John-Wells-directed Killer Joe). If the director was confused about what to do with this film, the marketing people appeared similarly puzzled. The trailer for August made it look like a delightful comedy à la Albert Brooks, and those posters! One was a house with roof coming off of it in some sort of hinge motion and the other was Julia Roberts beating Meryl Streep into the floor. In truth, this movie was not nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. The acting is top-notch across the board, and Streep and Roberts are both deserving. But this needed to be made into a film instead of simply filming a play. And let's just be honest and ask ourselves if Julia Roberts played a supporting character or gives a supporting performance in this. Really? How do these things happen. In any case, both of these women have Oscars. (Streep has three.) Neither will be winning another on March 2.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #52 out of 75