dallas buyers club

OSCARS 2014: WHO WAS THE BEST ACTOR?

Oscars day is finally here! With just a few hours to go, we wanted to make sure you had our picks for one of the tightest races run this year. Place your bets on anyone, and you won’t be laughed at. This really could go any way! What do you think..?

 

“Best Actor”

 

Christian Bale – American Hustle: Bale was beaten to the Golden Globe by Leonardo DiCaprio, and unfortunately when combining the two globes categories into one general award for Best Actor, Bale doesn’t stand much of a chance. American Hustle really did well in the nominations, being recognised for all four acting categories, as well as nominating David O. Russell for Best Director (and many more nominations), but public rating of American Hustle has dropped dramatically: it just isn’t going to be Bale who cuts it this year.

Bruce Dern – Nebraska: Film critics cannot seem to fault Dern’s performance in ‘Nebraska’, and the film got nods for both Best Director and Best Actress, however the problem here is that Nebraska has not been widely celebrated enough to garner this type of award. When up against performances that have been internationally praised (and are commercially attractive), Dern’s performance, while flawless, falls short. He may possibly be the most worthy winner, but he will not pick up the Oscar this year.

Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf of Wall Street: Leo remains strong as the people’s favourite this year. After four Oscar nominations and zero wins, the general public is keen to see DiCaprio finally grasping a statue. However, it may not be that easy. While DiCaprio’s performance as Jordan Belfort provided both comedy and drama without diverging from reality, he is up against some stiff competition. The Wolf Of Wall Street has been questioned for attempting to ‘glorify’ it’s subject matter, but DiCaprio won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a film: Comedy or Musical. This is a tough one to call, but when placed in the same category as McConaughey and Ejifor, it seems DiCaprio would be an upset rather than a frontrunner. 

Chiwetel Ejifor – 12 Years A Slave: Perhaps the clear favourite to win Best Picture, 12 Years A Slave has garnered many nominations and this is just another. Ejifor provided a strong performance in an incredibly strong movie, however we cannot help but feel that Ejifor is nominated here because of the movie itself, not his performance alone. Take away Director Steve McQueen and his supporting actress Lupita Nyong’O, and we doubt Ejifor would be nominated. He might win this year, but it seems unlikely.

Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club: Losing 47lbs to play Ron Woodruff in this year’s heavy hitting Dallas Buyers Club surely put’s McConaughey as a favourite to win. If he does, he will join the ranks of actors such as Charlize Theron and Robert DeNiro who have radically changed their appearance for roles that have won them Oscars. Despite the weight loss, McConaughey;s performance was certainly solid enough to win him this honour, and a nod for Jared Leto early in the night would probably secure it.

 

It Should Be… Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf of Wall Street

It Will Be… Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club

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OSCARS 2014: WHO WAS THE BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR?

Part three of our five-part Oscar Predictions series sees us review some of the best supporting actors of the last year. One of the most talented categories of this year, it will definitely be hard to pick, but we will do our best! Have you got an opinion? Let us know in the comments!

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Barkhad Abdi – Captain Phillips: A first time actor, Abdi is the first Somali in history to be nominated for an Academy Award. This alone is a pretty impressive feat. With a BAFTA under his belt in this category and especially given the Academy’s tendency to favor the newbie, this puts Abdi in with a good shot. However, seasoned professionals such as Jared Leto and Bradley Cooper have scooped more awards and critics favor this year which could mean losing out this time.

Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club: Famously losing 30 pounds to play an AIDs infected transgender is certainly both risque and committed enough to put Leto as the front-runner for this year. He won the SAG Award and Golden Globe for this role as well as a plethora of other gongs and his performance has been hailed as one of the best of all time. One would be crazy to think that Leto is anything other than the favorite. Having said this, missing out on even a nomination for the BAFTA could damage his momentum.

Bradley Cooper- American Hustle: If there was an Academy Award for tightest curled locks, then Cooper would be a shoe in. His performance in the award-winning American Hustle has garnered quite a bit of attention despite the film being so highly criticized. Nominated last year for Silver Lining’s Playbook, one might think that now is Cooper’s time to win, however in such tight competition it seems unlikely that this unevenly received performance will be the one to nab the statue.

Michael Fassbender – 12 Years A Slave: In a film that has rallied such attention and support, Michael Fassbender has been almost famously overlooked. Praise for Lupita Nyong’O and Chiwetel Ejifor have completely overshadowed Fassbender’s supporting role. This is a great example of a very strong ensemble cast who are separated by the fact that breakout performances make the Hollywood Veterans look disappointing. Further to this, Fassbender has taken on a role that is inherently unlikable and is never redeemed: that itself is a tough stigma to crack.

Jonah Hill – The Wolf of Wall Street: Hill became famous in this role after admitting that he worked for a low fee of just $6,000 because of his overwhelming desire to work with Martin Scorsese. Truly committed to the part, Hill tried to convince Producers to let him eat a live goldfish to add more of a sense of realism. Though Hill provided moments of sheer hilarity and added an undeniable chemistry to the Wolf of Wall St cast as a whole, this movie is and always will be Leonardo DiCaprio: If any award is given to WOWS this year it will go to him.

It Should Be… Barkhad Abdi – Captain Phillips

It Will Be… Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club

NEXT POST: Best Actress

FILM REVIEW: ‘DALLAS BUYERS CLUB’ (2013

“Dallas Buyers Club”

Written by: Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack

Directed by: Jean-Marc Vallee

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Jennifer Garner

Story: In 1985, drug, sex and alcohol addict Ron Woodroof is diagnosed with AIDS and sets out to make medication readily available for those in the same position.

 

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This year’s awards season is jammed packed with films looking at socially and culturally sensitive issues. Where there is ’12 Years A Slave’ giving us an extremely graphic and difficult to watch vision of racism and slavery in the pre-civil war United States, Jean-Marc Vallee gives us ‘Dallas Buyers Club’: an almost punishing look at the treatment of AIDS victims during the epidemic of the 1980s and 90s.
 
The film opens the way it means to continue, with graphic use if sex, drugs and alcohol to paint the picture of Ron Woodroof. It becomes evident that we are not supposed to like this man: his enormous disrespect for other people is on show. He is a violent homophobic which becomes the most ironic part of his situation. Looking at McConaughey on screen he is shockingly thin (the actor lost 47 pounds for the role) and his face is gaunt and almost lifeless. It is not uncommon for an actor to change their appearance for a role, we could name multiple examples, however it is rare that this transformation leads to such a fascinatingly good performance. In Dallas Buyers Club we get two of these. Jared Leto is remarkable in his role as Rayon, a transgender AIDS victim. His appearance will startle you more than once as he seems more cheekbones and hips than anything else: but where his body lacks, his acting is of huge substance. Rayon befriends the homophobic Woodroof and in it we begin to see a truly touching friendship form.
 
The film is heavy hitting in it’s deep evaluation of the subject matter. Aside from demonstrations such as ‘Rent’, ‘Philadelphia’ or perhaps even ‘Precious’, we have not really seen a really deep exploration of AIDS and the social and political consequences it can have. The film itself is driven towards the way in which AIDS victims were treated both by peers, hospitals, and the FDA. Woodroof’s battle to make medicine accessible not just for himself is inspiring and within twenty minutes we find ourselves rooting for him even though his character does remain genuinely unlikeable.. We are even exposed to some arguments that are still present in modern America. Against the backdrop of the Obamacare scandal, and the everlasting ‘wealth vs health’ argument presented oh so eloquently in documentaries such as Michael Moore’s ‘Sicko’ – Dallas Buyers Club not only makes us consider the actions of the past, but also the present. The multi-faceted characters express more than one purpose but somehow all seem relevant here.
 
The standout quality of this film lies in the editing and direction. An eerie whistle fills the audience’s ears to haunt us with the repercussions of Woodroof’s disease and to fill in parts of the story that are rightfully left vague. The film plays slow, but never drops the level of tension presented. Jennifer Garner’s character Eve Saks serves as a barometer for how we should relate emotionally to these characters, but serves no other real purpose in the film but to take up screen time. Yves Belanger (Director of Photography) should be commended on his collaborative work with Director Vallee in using light and shadows to create visually stunning sequences.
 
The screenplay is well put together and the dialogue is oftentimes touching. When watching the film I was under the impression that the story was based on a magazine article (as it claims to be ‘based on true events’) so I was confused to hear that Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack were nominated by the Academy for ‘Best Original Screenplay’ rather than ‘Best Adapted’: I am sure they have their reasons.
 
All in all, one might feel that Dallas Buyers Club overreaches on it’s plea for sympathy, only to be grounded by Jared Leto’s Rayon who is the only really likable character portrayed here. When faced with Garner and McConaughey in endless sequences, it starts to feel a little forced, like too much has gone into making sure the audience is feeling appropriately compassionate. 
 
Dallas Buyers Club is a movie that is certainly worth watching, but one must remain open minded to the real message. This is a movie about respect, forgiveness, and hope. Not survival. 
 

Rating: 4/5

 

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Photo Credit: imdb.com

OSCARS 2014: WHAT IS THE BEST PICTURE?

Oscar nominations were released today and the internet is in a frenzy. Some are excited and relieved that their favourite stars or films were nominated for their performances this year. Others were shocked and upset that their chosen performer did not receive the Academy stamp of approval.

So let us take a look at what we have in store this year. I decided to do a breakdown of the top five categories in the ceremony. Each post will have a breakdown of every nominee in each of these categories. These opinions are mine, and I encourage everyone to add their own.

Remember, the 86th Annual Academy Awards airs on March 2nd, and we will be in good hands with Ellen DeGeneres once again at the helm.Individual film reviews will also be posted through the blog in the next six weeks.

BEST PICTURE

American Hustle: David O Russell’s second offering in as many years stampeded through the Golden Globes, scooping up three awards, including Best Motion Picture: Musical Or Comedy. While the performances by the ensemble cast have been praised by most, the film was at times referred to as all pizzaz and no substance. The costumes, music and pouting seem to be enough to carry this movie into the nominations, but can a few good performances push it to the top?

The Wolf Of Wall Street: Martin Scorcese’s fun and flirtatious adaptation of Jordan Belfort’s true to life book received huge criticism for ‘glamourising’  and ‘glorifying’ the world of investment fraud. Indeed, the film did lack the distinct feeling of remorse presented in the novel. However, this three hour parade demonstrates not just humour and drama (a powerhouse combination), but it startles the audience into enjoying the reality of the entire story. Having said that, and given DiCaprio’s strained history with the Academy, this film will either kill or be killed this year.

Captain Phillips: Here we have another film based on a true story, therefore we can assume that the reality of it resonated with it’s viewers. Famously snubbed by the Oscars for this year, Tom Hanks offered a notable performance which takes us back to his ‘Cast Away’ days. He is overshadowed however by newcomers, most specifically Barkhad Abdi as the deranged Somalian pirate Muse. Abdi received a nod from the academy. However, with a lack of nomination in the Best Director category, it seems unlikely that this will take the prize.

Dallas Buyers Club: Well, didn’t this gem just get a nod all around? Nominated in acting categories, as well as Best Director, Film Editing, Screenplay, and Hairstyling. A pretty incredible scoop. The film itself plays upon an incredibly serious topic, and one which should have a pretty solid social impact. In watching it, we can almost feel that the subject matter, AIDS, is a metaphor for the diseases that are eating us all: drugs, alcohol, promiscuity, cancer.. you name it. Ticking all the boxes, this could truly be a dark horse.

Gravity: Alfonso Cuaron’s latest offering is less science fiction (as the plot would suggest) and more a story of pure survival. Cuaron took out Best Director at the Golden Globes and deservedly so: everything from the cinematography, to the music, and even the performance given by Sandra Bullock (who carried the entire film as almost a lone actor, not an easy task) was primed to perfection. Gravity will certainly sweep contenders under the rug in the technical categories, but could the Academy have a science fiction drama take out Best Film?

Her: While this film has a good message, and serves as perhaps a warning to us all of our reliance on technology, it’s quirky nature really does some damage in terms of the Academy and their voting structure. This is a film that you either love or hate. It should win for Best Original Song, but was unfortunately passed up in the cinematography category which is one of the film’s main strengths.

Nebraska: ‘The Artist’ famously took out the Oscar for Best Picture when it delighted audiences with the very fact that they could, in this day and age, still enjoy a black and white film. The film certainly has enough nominations in the acting category to justify a win, and Director Alexander Payne even got the nod, but the true let down here is the lack of technical celebration. There is no back end to the film, and without broad support it does lag behind.

Philomena: This is the token film with heart in this year’s nominations. Poignant, witty, and exceptionally British, Philomena has received rave reviews and Judi Dench has been recognised as one of the most stellar performances of the year. Again adapted from a novel (the adaptation has received a nomination for screenwriting) the story is one that will tug on the heart and mind of anyone who watches it. The sole representative for British films, though, it perhaps lacks the glamour or relationship to the Academy to go all the way.

12 Years A Slave: This film resonates in it’s dark social significance. While the film is difficult to watch, it tests the audience’s emotion and leaves many feeling truly disturbed. Let’s not forget that it’s sweep of nominations in multiple categories places it as a worthy contender. Many did not watch this film due to it’s graphic and at times almost unwatchable content, however with the absence of similar films like ‘Mandela’ and ‘The Butler’, this could leave room for 12 Years A Slave to snatch the top prize.

It Should Be… ‘The Wolf Of Wall Street’

It Will Be… ‘12 Years A Slave’

NEXT POST: Best Supporting Actress

**AN: This was originally posted on my personal blog: www.rachel-helena.blogspot.com – please do check it out.