Some of my favorite summer movies this year include Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood”, an amazing accomplishment, using the same cast members to tell a vibrant family story over a span of 12 years, it’s fascinating to watch the development of Eller Coltrane, as an actor, and as his character Mason. Don’t miss it. The other wonderful film is a Spanish movie, “Living is Easy with Eyes Closed”, set in 1966, a story by director Richard Trueba about a Spanish English teacher trying to meet John Lennon on the film set of “How I Won The War”. It’s a road trip film with two interesting teens joining the teacher on his quest. Delightful. My GPA for both 4.0.
Here’s a bit we did this week on “A Prairie Home Companion”
Had the pleasure of appearing on the KARE 11 Saturday Morning Show on the day before the Oscars Show. Check it out and see how I do tonite.
Here’s a link to my appearance on KARE 11′s 4PM News today.
It was a great year for movies, stories based on mostly true stories, historical dramas, spectacular technical achievements, some of the best performances in all categories, and no shoe-in any of those categories. Here are my picks for the 2014 Academy Awards.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
The front runner and early award winner here has been Jennifer Lawrence but I’m glad to see Lupita Nyong’o come to the forefront with a startlingly good first film performance in “12 Years a Slave”. This category loves newcomers.
Sally Hawkins in “Blue Jasmine”
Jennifer Lawrence in “American Hustle”
Lupita Nyong’o in “12 Years a Slave”
Julia Roberts in “August: Osage County”
June Squibb in “Nebraska”
Should and Will win: Lupita Nyong’o in “12 Years a Slave”
Could win: Jennifer Lawrence in “American Hustle”
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
This is tough category, there will be some sentimental votes for the first time actor, limousine driver, Barkhad Abdi, and a magnificent performance by Michael Fassbender, but Jared Leto was unparalleled in “Dallas Buyers Club”. I wish the academy had nominated Daniel Bruhl had been nominated for his performance in “Rush” instead of the underwhelming Jonah Hill.
Barkhad Abdi in “Captain Phillips”
Bradley Cooper in “American Hustle”
Michael Fassbender in “12 Years a Slave”
Jonah Hill in “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Jared Leto in “Dallas Buyers Club”
Should and Will win: Jared Leto in “Dallas Buyers Club”
Could win: Michael Fassbender in “12 Years a Slave”
Cate Blanchett has been the frontrunner here but there is some drama about whether or not the recent Woody Allen controversy will affect voters. I don’t think it will. The other obstacle to an Oscar for Cate is the fact that 4 time nominee Amy Adams has never won, so that might be in Amy’s favor here, but I’m sticking with Cate for the best performance.
Amy Adams in “American Hustle”
Cate Blanchett in “Blue Jasmine”
Sandra Bullock in “Gravity”
Judi Dench in “Philomena”
Meryl Streep in “August: Osage County”
Should and Will win: Cate Blanchett in “Blue Jasmine”
Could win: Amy Adams in “American Hustle”
This is the toughest category. Chiwetel Ejiofor was wonderful as Solomon Northrup, the free black man kidnaped and kept in brutal slavery for 12 years, and there’s a lot of love for Bruce Dern in “Nebraska” for a lifetime of fine performances, but Matthew McCounaughey caps of a series of terrific movie characters (he could have been nominated for the terrific “Mud”) with the best performance of the year in “Dallas Buyers Club”. I wish there had been room for Robert Redford in “All is Lost”, in perhaps the best performance of his career.
Christian Bale in “American Hustle”
Bruce Dern in “Nebraska”
Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Chiwetel Ejiofor in “12 Years a Slave”
Matthew McConaughey in “Dallas Buyers Club”
Should and Will win: Matthew McConaughey in “Dallas Buyers Club”
Could win: Chiwetel Ejiofor in “12 Years a Slave”
This is a weird category, David O. Russell showed of his prowess with getting the most out of his actors, the same for Steve McQueen and Alexander Payne, but Alfonso Cuarón created things never seen on the screen before so I think he’ll be honored with the Oscar here.
“American Hustle” David O. Russell
“Gravity” Alfonso Cuarón
“Nebraska” Alexander Payne
“12 Years a Slave” Steve McQueen
“The Wolf of Wall Street” Martin Scorsese
Should and Will win: “Gravity” Alfonso Cuarón
Could win: “12 Years a Slave” Steve McQueen
These are all fine nominees: “12 Years a Slave” created a conversation about an important historical moment, and “Philomena” entertained with a great mixture of humor and pathos, “Gravity” dazzled us with it magnificent visuals with the best use of 3D in memory, but I’m going with “American Hustle” for the combination of all of these factors.
“12 Years a Slave”
“The Wolf of Wall Street”
Will win: “American Hustle”
Could win: “12 Years a Slave”
In 1998 I had the honor of interviewing Shirley Temple Black. She was a very nice interviewee, she talked about her childhood as one of the top Box office star of the 1930′s with great candor, as detailed in her autobiography, “Child Star”. After she retired in 1950, she became interested in public service and was appointed Ambassador to Ghana and later to Czechoslovakia. She passed away at the age of 85 on Monday, February 10, 2014. Rest in Peace.
George Clooney has given us some fine cinema as a director, “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” and “Good Night, and Good Luck” come to mind, but “Monuments Men” is a serious misfire by the film’s genial actor, co-writer, director. Clooney has assembled an all-star cast, but the script he fashioned with co-writer Grant Heslov can’t decide what it wants to be: war drama or jokey buddy comedy. The story of a gang of artists, architects, and scholars attempting to save Europe’s great art from being destroyed by order of Hitler in the final days of World War II deserves better. Bill Murray and John Goodman are just a few of the normally reliable actors that seem to phone it in here. Even the great Matt Damon and Kate Blanchett struggle with their scenes almost as much as they struggle with their attempts at French accents. Clooney has quite a few pious monologues that, while deserved considering the tragedies of the war’s victims, seem clumsy and contrived. The music by Alexandre Desplat brings to mind the War Comedies of the early 70′s, like Lalo Shifrin’s score for “Kelly’s Heroes”, and is entirely too intrusive and would better serve an episode of “Hogan’s Heroes”. The one thing that I can say about a film like this, dealing with a terrifically interesting historical subject, is that I can’t wait to find the 2006 documentary “The Rape of Europa”, that tells this story with actual historical footage, or perhaps the 1994 book of the same title by Lynn H. Nicholas.
Rated: PG-13 for war violence
My GPA: 2.2