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

17 February 2014

Oscar Nominees 2014: Part 9 of 14


All Is Lost
1 Nomination
  • Sound Editing
Director: J.C. Chandor
Cast: Robert Redford

The talk about All Is Lost really centered on Robert Redford's acting. And I have to say that I assumed he was a shoo-in for a nomination. Older actor who never won outright (he was nominated once in 1974 for The Sting but he was awarded an honorary Oscar in 2002), and good reviews! But I think there is a bit of a curse on the person who is named Best Actor by the National Board of Review. I always think of Campbell Scott and how we all thought he was going to be a nominee for Roger Dodger all those years ago, but then it didn't happen either. They don't exactly have the best track record when it comes to such things – it is because they are so early, of course. As for the film, I found All Is Lost difficult, and I am not sure I understand what acting is in cases like these. Acting is certainly doing – I am not confused about that – but how is this doing any more impressive than the things that other actors did in their respective films? So the nomination for Sound Editing is rather a surprise, and I suspect that the love for older actors all ended up in Bruce Dern's camp this year and that explains Robert Redford's omission.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #52 out of 81

Star Trek: into Darkness
1 Nomination
  • Visual Effects
Director: J.J. Abrams
Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumberbatch, Zoë Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Bruce Greenwood

I really enjoyed myself at most of the action films this summer – Star Trek, Elysium, Pacific Rim, World War Z. I even liked the Thor sequel. Star Trek was not the best of these, but I am really sold on this entire franchise. I think they are really fun. I like Chris Pine, and I think he is great in the part. But more importantly, I have been watching the old Star Trek movies. In fact, I have watched the first seven of them. They are so good. Well, as anyone who has seen these movies will tell you, the even ones are good; the odd ones mostly don't work very well. My big realization with these old movies (they begin in 1979 and the last one with the old cast is in 1991) is what a great team they are: they all have each other's numbers and have the ability to trade barbs with ease. These films are delightful for precisely this reason. And then there's William Shatner. The original Kirk is just phenomenal. This is the case of a man who knows his role perfectly and always looks as though he is having a whale of a time performing it. I am getting distracted talking about the old franchise when I should be talking about the reboot. In fact, I don't really remember this movie, and since I didn't review it, I suppose I probably won't remember it. It is a vague remake of Star Trek II: the Wrath of Khan if I remember correctly, and there are lots of fun and interesting nods in the direction of the original. But Chris Pine is making the role his own, and I am excited to see the next film in the series.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #33 out of 81

Iron Man 3
1 Nomination
  • Visual Effects
Director: Shane Black
Cast: Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Guy Pearce, Don Cheadle, Ben Kingsley, James Badge Dale, Rebecca Hall, Jon Favreau, Stephanie Szostak, Paul Bettany, Ty Simpkins, Dale Dickey, Miguel Ferrer

I was kind of drunk when I saw this. And I don't feel the least bit bad about it. This is allegedly the best series in the Avengers group of films – Hulk, Thor, Captain America – but I guess it just doesn't do it for me, or hasn't for a while. The first one was good, but these most recent two (and The Avengers movie) have struck me as incredibly, overwhelmingly smug, insincere, and cynical. I really like Gwyneth Paltrow, and I am happy to see her in these films, but Downey feels like he is phoning it in – everyone loves him and so he simply does not need to try – almost in a Johnny Depp kind of way. My impatience with Downey will probably never reach Depp levels, but these movies are simply not doing anything that interesting. Someone else is planning to destroy the world again. The villain has a dastardly new plan, but the plan simply isn't that great. And I am never worried about whether or not the superhero can save us all. It is just that there aren't any stakes in these films, and if (you might argue) these films are not about things like stakes or plot, but are about enjoying the pleasure of beating bad guys into the ground or laughing at smug jokes or watching explosions, then I will accept your proposal. But if this is so, then we need more beating of bad guys into the ground, and we need more explosions. More more more. Because when these movies are about plot or personal connection or (heaven help us) politics, they just can't carry their weight. Among the other Summer blockbusters this year, Iron Man 3 was out of their league, never quite managing to be special. All of the other big summer movies were better than this tired old thing.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #63 out of 81