Category Archives: 86th Academy Awards

#5 Philomena

“The natural state of motherhood is unselfishness. When you become a mother you are no longer the centre of your own universe. You relinquish that position to your children.”

~ Jessica Lange

The film is based on the life of Philomena Lee. She was forced to give up her child for adoption as a teenager as it was considered as a sin to have a child out of wedlock. The real story and her interview is available over here. (And on many other pages)

Watch the trailer here.

I consider myself pretty close to my mother. And she considers me as her friend. So as a friend of her I can understand that how she has orbited her life around me and my younger brother. Same goes with any good mother for that matter. Although Philomena is an accidental mother, she is a mother nevertheless. And that itself makes the story so intense.

When we dig deeper, although the way the nuns behaved initially by taking away Philomena’s child from her was cruelly portrayed but maybe that was the right decision for the child. The child grew up to be someone important which may not have been possible had he been with Philomena. Maybe the end result for him, as a person was better than alright. But the mother lost her child and the child lost his right to have a mother. That’s what the story is all about.

One of the most interesting points over here is the writer Steve Coogan plays the point of view character in the film. In a way making a comment on the true incident. I always prefer involving my lead actors in the story. I like it if they provide their inputs. Even if I don’t incorporate them, I know what is more convincing to the actors. Once the actor is fully convinced with each line, with each reaction we have a smooth journey ahead. In this case, we know the reason behind such a great performance.


Some trivia (because the story behind the film is always equally interesting.)

The movie incorporates some home video while tracing Philomena’s son. Some of the shots are from actual footage of her real son.


 

Frankly speaking there are very few “English” (movies of England) movies that I don’t like. I am a fan of Richard Curtis and his gift of turning simple stories into cinematic brilliance. We need not say anything about Sir Alfred Hitchcock and Christopher Nolan. Colin Firth, Michael Caine, Anthony Hopkins, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ian McKellen and of course Dame Judi Dench; British talent knows no bounds. I think it is the overall approach to film making that makes the difference. When I am watching an English film, I know I will not be disappointed in the end because of a predictable plot.

The film was nominated for 4 Academy Awards including Best Film, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actress and Best Original Score. The film won none of them. The writers Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope received their due recognition for their work at British Academy Film Awards.

#3 Always a bridesmaid never a bride

Leonardo DiCaprio has been all over social media for NOT winning an Oscar, probably more that Matthew McConaughey. I am surprised how people think that Leo is the only mainstream actor who has yet to receive an Academy Award. So here we go with a few of my favourites who have not received an Oscar in the Best Actor category.

1. Gary Oldman

Known for his versatility, Gary Oldman is described as “a very strong candidate for the world’s best living actor” by Academy Award winner Colin Firth. Oldman was nominated for his performance in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) and lost to Jean Dujardin for The Artist. And this is his only Oscar nomination in his career. You can check out this list which puts it in detail why Oldman deserves an Oscar.

2. Jim Carrey

Speaking of being nominated, Carrey has never even got that far. After being praised for going beyond his comfort zone for The Truman Show and overshadowing his co-star in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mindit is extremely disappointing not to get noticed by the Academy.

3. Johnny Depp

Depp has been in the limelight for accepting challenging roles and pulling them off with ease. With the kind of performances under his belt, Johnny Depp has been nominated thrice in the Best Actor category, always leading to disappointment. However, an Oscar isn’t the only recognition one seeks is it? Depp, in 2003 and 2009. He has been listed in the 2012 Guinness World Records as the highest paid actor, with $75 million.

4. Sir Ian McKellen

He is Gandalf, he is Magneto but all those powers are not good enough to pull an Academy award towards him. Nevertheless he has received six Laurence Olivier Awards, a Tony Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a BIF Award, two Saturn Awards, four Drama Desk Awards and two Critics’ Choice Awards.

5. Orson Welles

At the age of 23, he shook the world with the radio adaptation of H. G. Wells‘ novel The War of the Worlds. When he was 25, he made the film, which is considered as one of the best films ever made. He wrote it and acted in it. He shared an Oscar for the Best Original Screenplay with Herman J. Mankiewicz. Orson Welles gained national and international fame and recognition in mostly every possible media of that era. In 1970, Welles was given an Academy Honorary Award for “superlative and distinguished service in the making of motion pictures.”Rather than attending the ceremony he exclaimed: “I didn’t go because I feel like a damn fool at those things. I feel foolish, really foolish. … I made piece of film and said that I was in Spain, and thanked them.”

 

An Oscar is probably the most coveted method of acknowledging one’s contribution to Cinema. And in these 86 years we cannot even imagine how many legends have been deprived of it. But the most important part is, regardless of this recognition, they’ve measured success in different terms. Success and failure depends on our choice. There isn’t only one definition of success. It is highly subjective. And this is what I take back from it.

#1 Steve McQueen – 12 Years A Slave

For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.
~ Nelson Mandela
It is all about impotency of Solomon Northup and every other slave of that time. The cruelty and hypocrisy of the system and the relief of having a few good men.
It is fascinating of how different individuals can approach the same topic of racism in completely distinctive patterns. We had Quentin Tarantino‘s Django Unchained last year in the nominations and this year Steve McQueen‘s 12 Years a Slave is one of the favourites too. Django focused on the fact that how capable an unchained slave could be and Northup’s story has the mournful touch of reality to it. Being a slave to the existing scenario stretches all across the film till the text in the very end.
When asked about 12 Years a Slave, people often talk about the brutality in most of the scenes. What moved me the most was the sub plots. When Northup is betrayed and enslaved, his companion on the ship escapes; finding the easy way out when his master comes down to rescue him. And Northup does the same leaving Patsey (Lupita Nyong’o) behind.
Both the supporting actors, Lupita Nyong’o and Michael Fassbender are impeccable and steal the show. You can absolutely hate Fassbender for his cruelty and you can absolutely love Nyong’o for her innocence.
The narrative of the film is devastatingly slow which does not really appeal to my tastes. The film flaunts an astonishing cast and the performances of each and every major character manage to grip you throughout. The film adds a very high contrast to add even more to the discrimination which is fabulous.

#1 Alfonso Cuarón – Gravity

We need to hold on to a few things and we need to let go of a few. But we choose the wrong way.

It starts off with the most amazing tracking shot I’ve ever seen. It raises my expectations to a whole new level and never fails to awe me in the whole 91 minute run-time.

The story is a simple survival story, just like any other except it takes place in an impossible scenario. The groundbreaking technology that was developed and perfected to execute the film blends with the story and enhances minute details of it, making the experience more and more realistic is what makes the film stand apart. I have this particular firm standpoint that incorporation of methods and technique should be subordinate than the motive of storytelling. And the film explains why.

Cuarón admits using “visual metaphors” throughout the film. You are most likely to miss them unless you’ve trained vision to detect them in their small appearances on screen. But when you watch a film again and again, over and over again you realize how much thought goes behind every one of them. I have not seen all of his films as of now, but even in Prisoner of Azkaban the use of a few was noticeable.

The CG is so good in the film that it is hard to distinguish between what’s real and what is not. The actors have skillfully adapted to the rigs created especially for shooting all the Zero G shots. One can only imagine the kind of dedicated efforts both the actors must have taken to give one single perfect shot.

The film carefully distinguishes itself from fantasy and seems like a documentation. It makes sure that appears as a continuous experience of a catastrophe in space. Every new obstacle thickens the tension of the whole situation. The few moments of interaction, of exposition garnishes the urge of coming back on Earth. And the joy of Ryan simply standing up on her feet, being in control at last; makes you rejoice. Whatever it may be, it is a hell of a ride.

Gravity is received 10 nominations at the 86th Academy AwardsBest Actress, Best Director, Best Original Score, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Visual Effects and Best Picture

#1 Spike Jonze – Her

“Love may be blind. But it can sure find its way around in the dark.”

Well, it has been a while since I’ve written anything on films. But it doesn’t even remotely mean that I haven’t been watching any. Frankly speaking through my exams I’ve watched more films than I would’ve in any ordinary week. And it has been a very good week.

I spend most of my day, sitting in front of my computer. I am either researching about something, editing or watching a film. Really, as I think about it it has been my schedule for a while now. I interact with my computer more than I interact with my family. So in a way my computer would know me better than anyone else. And I guess it does, so to speak.

What would you do if:

1. The only successful relationship you have ever had is coming to an end

2. You don’t really have anybody to talk to

3. You find someone really interesting, kind and most importantly who is there to listen to you, all the time?

I find this a perfect setting to fall in love. We need someone to share this draggy life with. The only problem in Theodore’s (Joaquin Phoenix) life is, his new friend is not a human. And this is riveting beyond measure. How do you love someone, who can be a great companion but whose sheer existence is a matter of perception?

Different characters in the film had different opinions about it. There are supportive friends who understand the complications and do not judge you and there are skeptics who only find negativity in the situation, just like a relationship with any human.

The most marvelous part of the film is even though the film qualifies as a science fiction story, the technical part of it remains on the lower side. For me it is more philosophical rather than scientific. And more romantic than depressing.

I don’t know if anyone else observed this, I love how the colours are used throughout the film. These minute details add texture to the story.

I do not wish to spoil the ending for whoever has not watch the film. Because I feel, this is one film a cinemalover must watch with an open mind. To sum it up, the film speaks about an impossible relationship between a man and its closest companion which happens to be a.i. But obviously there is more to it!

Her by Spike Jonze is nominated for 4 Academy Awards which include: Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Song, Best Original Score and Best Picture.

Spike Jonze’s short film I’m Here (2010) had a similar theme and it is available over here.