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

04 February 2015

Oscar Nominees 2015: Part 6 of 12

Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Part 4. Part 5.
Part 6 of 12:

Nightcrawler
1 Nomination
  • Original Screenplay: Dan Gilroy
Director: Gilroy
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Riz Ahmed, Rene Russo, Michael Hyatt, Price Carson, Bill Paxton, Sharon Tay, Pat Harvey

Smart, vicious satire, a Network for 2015, although this film is not intended to be funny – it feels all too real, not distant and absurd the way that Paddy Chayefsky and Sidney Lumet's film did in 1976. Gyllenhaal is great in this, and he was close to getting a Best Actor nomination, but it was a very crowded category this year, and the Academy didn't nominate David Oyelowo for Selma, so Gyllenhaal's chances always seemed slim to me. Nightcrawler is too small a picture for the Academy, it seems to me, although it is a very "Los Angeles" film, and I'm sure that gained it some points with viewers. Better yet, the acting is stellar. Gyllenhaal and Riz Ahmed are just excellent. This Oscar nomination for writer-director Gilroy means that lots more people are going to see his movie, and that is good news for everyone. It's a picture that deserves the notice it's getting. It's creepy and disturbing and seat-of-your-pants tense.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #32 out of 80


The Judge
1 Nomination
  • Supporting Actor: Robert Duvall (A Civil Action, The Apostle, Tender Mercies, The Great Santini, Apocalypse Now, The Godfather)
Director: David Dobkin
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Duvall, Vincent D'Onofrio, Jeremy Strong, Vera Farmiga, Billy Bob Thornton, Dax Shepard, Emma Tremblay, Leighton Meester, David Krumholtz, Lonnie Farmer

I'm going to state here and now that The Judge is the worst movie of the year. This movie thinks its audience is so stupid. I found this unbearable. It's stupid sequence after stupid sequence. We're supposed to love this judge who (as far as I can tell) is an actual murderer, a terrible father, and an awful person. Worse yet, we're supposed to believe that this adorable town that is functioning as a movie set here is actually a small town in Indiana. Every bit of it looks like New England, except for the CGI cornfields, of course. I can't even remember why I hated this as much as I did. But I will try: for some reason a hotshot lawyer who hates his father feels guilted into taking care of this father of his (who literally never stops being an asshole). I am not sure why Hollywood feels intent on trying to convince us that it would be really awesome to live in a small town in the midwest, but I see this all the time in the movies and can't understand it. In The Judge, they want to convince me that the midwest is so great that they've shot the whole thing in New England. Anyway, whatever. Hardened, crusty, curmudgeon of a father finally tells his kid he's proud of him after years of being a total asshole. Wow. Zzzz. And the son is supposed to have learned... what? I'm not sure. I couldn't have cared less. Every bit of this movie is preposterous.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #80 out of 80


Maleficent
1 Nomination
  • Costume Design: Jane Clive & Anna B. Sheppard (The Pianist, Schindler's List)
Director: Robert Stromberg
Cast: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sam Riley, Sharlto Copley, Imelda Staunton, Lesley Manville, Juno Temple, Brenton Thwaites, Isobelle Molloy, Michael Higgins, Ella Purnell, Jackson Bews

This wasn't terrible or anything, but it wasn't great, either, and it turned the fabulously evil Maleficent into a copy of Elphaba the Green Wicked Witch of the West in the musical Wicked. "Wicked" could only be used ironically to describe the Maleficent in this movie, who is apparently a goody-two-shoes and not evil at all. Angelina Jolie is perfectly cast, but the script is terrible and the movie never manages to compete with the awesome 1959 film. I've already complained about this film at length, so I won't retread all of that, but this movie ends up being a kind of amalgam of Wicked and Frozen. The costumes really are pretty fabulous, so I'm glad they got some love her. (Incidentally, the Costume Designers branch really has been choosing great films these days; I'm delighted that they've taken to honoring fantasy films in this category. It shows a delightful lack of snobbery and an appreciation for real invention.)
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #65 out of 80