Stephanie and I aren’t usually big movie fans. Or at least we haven’t previously been big movie fans. This year, though, we’ve gotten really caught up in the race to the Oscars. I blame Grantland. There’s nothing Grantland does better than (a) Ranking things, using often whimsical but usually smarter than the average screaming head reasoning and rules, and (b) Betting on the outcome of award selections and sporting events. Since I read Grantland every day, I got caught up in all of their pre-nomination Oscar speculation, so much so that I stared talking with Stephanie about this supposedly especially good Oscar season. Somehow, one of us suggested that we try to see all of the best picture nominations before the Oscars. That’s a pretty big jump from watching no movies at all. But there are very few things that motivate us like a to-do list. Once it’s written down on a list, we do it. So, we’ve made pretty good progress, with two weeks to go still:
Wolf of Wall Street
12 Years a Slave
Dallas Buyers Club
I have to say, these movies have all been really good. I can’t say whether this is a special year or the Oscar nominees are always this good, because, you know, I don’t usually pay much attention. But I can say that this particular batch has been really good. We’ll have to wait until March 2nd to see who wins the actual awards. In the meantime, I have a few of my own awards to distribute:
Scene Stealer of the Year
This one goes to Jennifer Lawrence. In American Hustle, she took the familiar, and usually limited, role of the dull wife who is at home living normal life while her husband is out doing interesting things, and she did something amazing with it. ‘My wife who just doesn’t understand’ stole every scene she was in. In fact, she almost took the whole movie and ran away with it.
Most Relentlessly Committed to Making Us See How Messed Up We are
This category had some strong competition. But in the end, it has to go to 12 Years a Slave. It simply refused to ever let me say, ‘See, people are fundamentally decent after all.’ That takes guts.
Man of the Year
In my personal opinion, Matthew McConaughey should win Best Actor for his Dallas Buyers Club role. For bonus points, his cameo appearance in Wolf of Wall Street starts that movie off with a bang.
Most Hilarious Scene That’s Actually Terrible When You Really Think About It
Hands down, this award goes to Leonardo diCaprio for his portrayal of the high out of his mind Jordan Belfort trying to get himself home to warn everyone that the phones are tapped. If I just focus very carefully and take it very slow … Creepiest Trailer We’ve saved Her until near the end because the trailer just felt that icky.
Longest Streak of Terrible Things Happening to a Character
When I saw Gravity, I would have thought that Sandra Bullock had this one in a lock, but then Chiwetel Ejiofor came along and ripped the award right out of her exhausted hands.
Inspiration of the Year
‘Based on a true story’ seems to be the theme this year. Of the six movies we’ve seen, five of them have some basis in real life. Granted, none of them but 12 Years a Slave seem to be overly concerned with accuracy (Good Lord, can you believe that’s the accurate one?); and American Hustle practically disavows it’s roots in fact with the opening words, ‘Some of this actually happened.’ But, still, semi-based-in-fact was the story source of the year.
Most Impressive Human Beings in a Realistic Movie
Holy crap, those Navy Seals in Captain Phillips were something else. Why did they parachute out of a plane into the ocean during a storm instead of landing on the aircraft carrier? They say, why the hell not?
Bodily Transformation of the Year
While Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto deserve a lot of credit for losing all that weight, I think the fat, bald Christian Bale wins this one.
Tom Hanks, for his foolhardy and unsuccessful attempt at a Boston accent. Despite that, the rest of his portrayal was really gripping.
My votes for the actual Oscars, if I had votes:
Best Movie–12 Years a Slave
Best Director–Martin Scorsese
Best Actress–I’ll have to see Blue Jasmine before I can assess this one.
Best Supporting Actor–Barkhad Abdi
Best Supporting Actress–J Law