Notes from awards committee:
Again we veered far away from Academy choices, with only the high regard for Gravity being the common denominator. But only at House Clark did Gravity & Sandra Bullock make it to the winners circle with both Best Picture and Best Actress awards. Two very well deserved honors that correct two of the poorest Academy choices of the decade. Gravity is a rare bird – the film exceeded the hype. The ingredients are there – big name star power, a space adventure, and a famed young director behind the camera with a flair for visual impact. Also I confess to be a sucker for believable, beautifully made, white-knuckle suspense epics about brave people in the middle of a hostile environment battling overwhelming odds to survive, but rarely have I seen one that can hold an audience hostage like Gravity. Every element is so perfect.
Many of my favorite movies of the year were comedies. Good, funny comedies. James Gandolfini was amazing in the best rom-com in years in Enough Said, and earned the Best Actor Simpson award. I recall several good belly laughs watching We’re the Millers, a fun crime-comedy about a fake family smuggling drugs from Mexico in an RV. Bad Words was the most offbeat comedy of the year, and the scenes with Jason Bateman & Kathryn Hahn are comedy gold.
The low budget, independent film Coherence once again proves that a clever script and solid acting (by an unknown cast) can trump Big Budget, Big Star power, especially in the horror genre.
While the dreary, vicious 12 Years a Slave badly overplays the “Race Card”, the sports movie 42 provides a positive tale of morality and social change during the integration of Major League Baseball in the late 1940’s. It was a joy to watch the scenes with Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) and Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) work together with intelligence and courage and devoid of race-hustling. Another solid, honest grown-up film shamefully snubbed by the Academy.
We saw a few formulaic blockbusters this year, and their appeal to their core target audience — wide-eyed teenagers — is perfectly understandable. Pacific Rim stood out for us as the rare one that was just plain fun, and awoke our inner teen.
Captain Philips starring Mr. Hollywood, Tom Hanks, is a hugely overrated movie that gave the big screen treatment to a single, insignificant pirate event and oddly sympathies with the criminals. It is a lame PC melodrama for the so-called modern audience that studiously avoids the more fundamental questions about dealing with high seas piracy. The weak attempts of create some tense drama and excitement is laughable – all I saw was an absurd spectacle of multiple billion-dollar US navy warships and SEAL teams doing battle with four pirates in a little dinghy. There is no substance here. BTW You Tube has several interesting videos about proven, simple, and cost effective methods to combat piracy: hire a handful of mercs with high-power rifles and open fire at the pirate boats at long range. Don’t even have to shoot the pirates – just fire a few warning shots across the bow. If they still threaten to board, aim for the outboard engines and gas tanks. It is 100% effective and cheap and approved by maritime law and insurance.
The Academy darling of the year, Twelve years a Slave, was panned by Armund White, the esteemed, black movie critic and three time chairman of the New York Film Critic Circle, as “downbeat and anti-American torture porn that overplays the race card.” Enough said.
I wanted to like The Wolf of Wall Street, but the world-record 571 F-bombs ruined it for me. And American Hustle was just plain boring and too talky.
The Counselor – immoral, disgusting crime tale with a fancy, philosophical dialogue that aimed for profound but instead screamed Fake.