“Those of us in the industry who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films with women at the center are niche experiences - they are not. Audiences want to see them and, in fact, they earn money. The world is round, people." - Cate Blanchett [x]
Cate Blanchett’s Best Actress acceptance speech for Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine was one of the most important moments of the Academy Awards, but nobody called attention to it or any of the other award winners in the week following the ceremony. I’ve seen plenty of coverage about Travolta flubbing a name, Jennifer Lawrence tripping or not tripping, Ellen’s pizza & selfie bits, but nothing about the actual films. That’s to be expected, but I wanted to highlight the movies behind the ceremony.
I’m really glad that Steve McQueen won Best Picture for 12 Years a Slave. He catapulted to the top of my favorite filmmakers after just releasing Hunger and Shame, so to see him already reach a great level of success with his third feature brings him to an even higher level of power. He should have enough clout now to make whatever arthouse masterpiece he wants to next - and hopefully it’ll be another excellent collaboration with Michael Fassbender that won’t be missed out on like Shame was.
Dallas Buyers Club getting three Oscars was really sweet to see for such a small film. It was super low-budget and shot in only 23 days, nobody expected it to have the success it did. Matthew McConaughey’s acceptance speech was delightfully goofy and charming. The award could have easily gone to Chiwetel Ejiofor for 12 Years, but I was still happy with this result.
Spike Jonze winning Best Screenplay for Her is awesome. I was surprised that when Her was announced Charlie Kaufman wasn’t involved. Being John Malkovich and Adaptation are incredible, I was hoping for a third collaboration between them. Instead, Jonze stepped up and channeled Kaufman for his own work, winning an award and developing into an even stronger auteur.
There were a lot of other awards that went to satisfying winners, such as Gravity getting seven Oscars, but there’s still a few results that I was disappointed in.
Best Documentary should have gone to The Act of Killing, but it’s a film that’s too long, surreal, and distressing for many of the voters to have watched. I’ve only seen two of the Best Foreign nominees, I plan on watching The Broken Circle Breakdown which sounds really tragic and beautiful, but the winner The Great Beauty didn’t click with me. It’s reminiscent of Fellini, but on its own it doesn’t offer any grand poignancy. The other film I did see was The Hunt, which is excellent and deserving of accolades but too dark and unsettling for voters to get behind. As for Best Animated Feature, Frozen sucks but I’ve seen so many people blindly wish The Wind Rises would win simply because it was Miyazaki’s last directed feature. Of the nominees, my favorite was actually the French film Ernest & Celestine, which is delightfully charming and uniquely animated, but it was overshadowed by the other films. (I have to admit that I DID NOT SEE THE CROODS - so maybe I’m being hypocritical and missing out on the Citizen Kane of animated cavemen cinema.)
Lastly, I’m glad that Richard Linklater’s Before Midnight was nominated for screenwriting, but beyond that it should have been included as a Best Picture nominee. It was one of the most poignant and beautiful films released last year, but as a Sundance debut it simply came out too early to carry any steam into Awards season. Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers was my favorite film of 2013, but it’s not a prestige film that I’d expect to be honored.
So there - an Oscar post with no jokes about John Travolta, Jennifer Lawrence, or Ellen Degeneres. I’m surprised it’s possible to write about anything else.