WHO WILL WIN?: 2014 Oscar Best Picture

12 Years a Slave

Chiwetel Ejiofor deserves Oscar nomination, but the movie itself could be really astounding in the hands of better director and screenwriter.
My Rating: 6/10

American Hustle

Bad hairdos, terrible hairdos, cleavages, and J-Law should really stop playing much older characters.
My Rating: 6/10

Captain Phillips

The movie has a good and rare quality in humanizing the pirates.
My Rating: 7/10

Dallas Buyers Club

How to fight AIDS on the black market.
My Rating: 6/10

Gravity

Oscar’s Best Visual Effects Award is practically in Cuaron’s hand right now!
My Rating: 8/10

Her

Dating a female O.S. is just as super complicated as the real ones, right dude?
My Rating: 8/10

Nebraska

A man’s funny and heartbreaking road trip with his old ex-alcoholic, senile, grumpy Dad.
My Rating: 7/10

Philomena

Catholic nuns and their dirty laundry. They don’t tell you anything about this in ‘The Sound of Music.’
My Rating: 7/10

The Wolf of Wall Street

Crazy sick motherf*cking stockbrokers.
My Rating: 8/10

Who I think should win: Gravity is a technical breakthrough, Her is a thematic breakthrough, so I would really like to see one of those two up there. But Star Wars was a technical breakthrough and didn’t win Best Picture. Pulp Fiction was a thematic breakthrough, also didn’t win Best Picture. So, yeah, most probably not going to happen.

Who will win: Academy love their 6/10 and 7/10 movies very much these days, and they don’t like 8/10. They won’t pick The Wolf of Wall Street. So, if they’re going to favor mediocrity–again–this year, I hope they’ll at least pick 12 Years a Slave.

>>Check out my other review on 2014 Oscar Best Documentary Features here.

WHO WILL WIN?: 2014 Oscar Best Documentary Features

20 Feet From Stardom


Backup singers, the singing unsung heroes. They built music history and you don’t even know their names.
My Rating: 8/10

The Act of Killing


Part documentary, part acting, all real. All too real.
My Rating: 10/10

Dirty Wars


War on terror need enemies, and their enemies also need wars, that’s what Scahill appears to be unable to realize. But this essentially is a very good investigation.
My Rating: 7/10

The Square


Don’t believe the military, don’t believe the Muslim Brotherhood, don’t believe the men behind the camera. A perfect example of how a revolution was brewed, fought, and can never be won.
My Rating: 8/10

Cutie and the Boxer

Most artworks don’t make much money, also you have to entertain all those art dealers and gallery owners. Art is not a tiny bit crazier than marriage!
My Rating: 7/10

Who I think should win: The Act of Killing. It’s not just about something that happened in Indonesia some forty-nine years ago, it is also about the inherent evil of human nature, everywhere, right here, right now, sitting beside, in front, behind, and inside you.

Who will win: The Act of Killing. Fingers crossed!

47 Ronin

47_roninUS release date: December 25

A fantasy version of the loyal forty-seven ronin legend. Hiroyuki Sanada is the samurai Ôishi, while Keanu Reeves is infused into the plot as Kai, the supposedly half-breed warrior, found by the noble Lord Asano on the edge of a mysterious forest as a child, then befriended Asano’s only daughter, the kind-hearted Princess Mika–and of course after time fell helplessly in love with one another. You’ve heard this kind of story hundred times before: a downtrodden warrior with an impossible love for a princess, sacrifices his life to save her, and a disgraced samurai fighting for the honor of his deceased Lord.
True, the fighting and battle scenes are a bit underdeveloped and quite anticlimactic, and in the end it still isn’t quite discernible how a mere 47 men could ever done something like Ôishi, Kai, and their friends did (In music score department the movie also really, really, needs a love theme for Kai and Mika!). But the screenwriters presented their generic storyline so self-confidently without being afraid to bore you at times if they must, and as the result, the movie doesn’t rush itself to death, and take as long as it takes to tell its story. A rare quality for Hollywood movies these days, especially after the epic crash of The Lone Ranger. So even if you may not like the finished result, even if you hated Keanu Reeves, 47 Ronin doesn’t qualify as a bad movie.

My Rating: 7/10

All the Light in the Sky

All-the-Light-in-the-Sky2013 Nashville Film Festival – Winner Best Actress in a Narrative Feature.

US release date: December 20

The main character, Marie, a 40-something underemployed actress, wakes up one morning in her small cozy one bedroom Malibu beach house, shuts down an audiobook on her laptop, strips her clothes, changes to wetsuit,and goes downstairs straight to the sea, back from the sea, takes a shower and then talking to her agent on the phone. She meets some friend, talks with other friend, listens to her phone message, and then goes to bed in the night, turning on the same audiobook. Next morning, her aspiring-actress niece Faye is coming over to spend the weekend with her, they have some breakfast, she meets some geologist, and then Marie goes to bed in the night–again with the very same psychoanalysis audiobook, while on the living room Faye is showing her boobs to her boyfriend on video chat. The third morning, Marie and Sarah both strip their clothes, change to wetsuit and go downstairs to the sea. Then the movie follows day after day of Marie’s, and Faye’s, aimless and confusing love lives, and Marie’s continuous geology discussions.
It’s a realistic strong female-centric small mumblecore drama that wants to be as natural and authentic as possible. But showing Marie, and Faye, repeatedly putting on and off their clothes can also be a bit unnecessary. And by the way, if you notice–if you care at all–there’s a Ti West cameo in this movie.

My Rating: 6/10

The Past

past2013 Cannes Film Festival – Winners, Best Actress, Prize of the Ecumenical Jury.
2013 Durban International Film Festival – Winner Best Screenplay.
2013 Oslo Films from the South Festival – Winner Audience Award.

US release date: December 20

Separated by a thick glass in the airport terminal, talk to each other without actually hearing one another. They ride a car, a rented car, later illegally parked and almost get fined.  Ahmad and Marie, soon to be legally separated by law ex husband and wife, separated by everything. Choices. Nationalities. Fate.
In France with her two daughters, Marie is currently living together, and going to marry Samir, a young technically-not-yet-widower with a son. But her eldest daughter Lucie is all against it. Marie has her reasons, Lucie has her reasons, and they’re both probably right. Heck, even Samir has his own right reasons. And what could Ahmad do? A soon to be legal ex husband. Soon to be legal ex stepfather. He could even unintentionally make things worse in the middle of these layers of trouble. It’s a crowd in their old, beaten-up, in the middle of unfinished repainting, house.

My Rating: 8/10

Hours

hoursUS release date: December 13

During Hurricane Katrina, Nolan Hayes is stranded on a local hospital where his wife died on a premature labor. His small baby daughter’s in incubator with ventilator and IV line. Grieving, and killing time, he strays into an empty corridor where he find his wife’s body. Later that night the authorities are evacuating the hospital, so now it’s just Hayes, his baby, vending machine snacks, sodas, and the flood. The electricity finally goes out and incubator’s defective battery only stands for about another three hours. And the IV is also running out. While Nolan waits and practically running a self-service NICU, the movie also kills time by straying into a series of unnecessary news clips, nostalgic monologues, and romantic flashbacks, and later even an imaginary dialogue scene, that quite severely reducing the story’s tension and diluting the sense of impending peril. Also, wouldn’t it be more useful if he just go–make a quick swim if he has to–to any nearby building, looking for actual help? This is downtown New Orleans, so it couldn’t be that far, right? Or at least try to recharge his dead cellphone with the hand-crank portable generator?
Goodbye, Paul. Rest in peace.

My Rating: 4/10

Tricked

steekspelUS release date: December 13

From scene one we knew Remco Albrecht’s 50th birthday house party was not going to be a normal birthday party. His bitter and cynical son was there, his cocaine addict and Rammstein fan daughter was there. His frustrated business partners were there. His 8 month pregnant ex mistress was there. Even his new mistress was there. The next day is not remotely better. At the office, his colleagues inform him that his construction firm is going bankrupt, and they, with a big help from the ex mistress, are forcing Remco to sell the business to a Chinese company. And now who can help him get out from this mess? Interestingly enough, it’s his new mistress; with a big help from the cynical son.

My Rating: 6/10