Oscar Showcase 2014



AMC’s 2014 Best Picture Showcase

Has the Best Picture Showcase spoiled movie-going for us? Do we only want to see Best Picture Nominees now? Or has it just been so cold this winter that we haven’t gotten out as much? Could be a little of both, but the fact is that we’ve only seen one of the nominated movies this year! To be totally honest, the best movie I saw this year (or the one I liked the most) is one that would never even be considered for nomination in any category. So, if you haven’t seen The Way, Way Back, get to Redbox, or Amazon, or Netflix, or however you see movies these days and watch it! What are you waiting for? Get!
Okay, now we can talk Oscars…


Toni AvatarShe Said:

In a long line of Oscar nominated movies based on true stories, Philomena follows the story of a teenage mother forced to give up her baby in a very Catholic 1940’s era Ireland. Fifty years later she (with the help of a once respected, now maligned journalist) traces her son from his adoption in Ireland to America, only to find him right back where she started. Judi Dench portrays Philomena Lee as a very “blue-collar” woman, unapologetically without formal education or sophistication. We watch her entertain a very sophisticated journalist with stories from romance novels and enjoy her innocent, guileless observations of life (as well as American television and eating habits). However, Philomena proves to be the more intelligent of the two when it comes to human nature and behavior, teaching even an old cynic that forgiveness may be difficult but very necessary. As Philomena tells a nun who kept information about her son from her, “I forgive you because I don’t want to remain angry.” And in a scene with the reporter says, “But I don’t want to hate people. I don’t want to be like you. Look at you.”
His reply, “I’m angry.”
And her quiet retort, “Must be exhausting.”

So true. And by the way… the old cynic… me.

Sam AvatarHe Said:

The journalist was a jerk and I never came to like him. Philomena showed how someone with faith could also be accepting of others. She also showed that it is not always those that wear their faith on their collar that are truly walking in the ways of the Lord. And the journalist was still a jerk…


Dallas Buyer’s Club

Toni AvatarShe Said:

Because of his extreme physical transformation, Matthew McConaughey may come away with a statue this evening. And maybe he even deserves it. Although not a huge McConaughey fan (settle down, ladies), even I have to admit he portrayed a drug-addled partying womanizer well. Hmmm… maybe not such a stretch? I’m just saying. It is amazing, however, how pharmaceutical companies and the FDA have control over those attempting to live with dignity or just struggling to stay alive.

Jared Leto also went through a drastic physical change and gives an extremely strong performance as a transgender woman living with HIV/AIDS. And I still remember when Jordan Catalano was making us all jealous of Angela Chase in “My So-Called Life”.

Sam AvatarHe Said:

Matthew McConaughey looked like hell, I mean, how can you lose all that weight and not win a best actor Oscar, right? This movie depicted the misunderstandings and attitudes many had of HIV at that time and the prejudices and judgments that came with it. Good character development, you came to care for each of the characters in different ways, but I cared the least for McConaughey’s character. He was such a blow-hard.


The Wolf of Wall Street

Toni AvatarShe Said:

Over the top is the best phrase I can come up with for this movie and the performances in it. Based on Jordan Belfort’s book about his lavish life and crimes, I have to wonder why a person that cheated people out of money gets to make money on them, not twice but three times. He took their money, wrote a best-selling book, and is now making money (as well as kudos from the movie industry) on the movie. Crazy? Or just part of the culture now in which we reward questionable people for bad behavior?

Oh sure, it was entertaining. I just have a hard time rootin’ for it.

Sam AvatarHe Said:

Just bothers me that this is another example of rewarding someone for bad behavior. Full of immoral behavior and depravity, you know it’s bad when a guy like me is saying, “Someone needs to stop this guy!” I think if it weren’t for the names (DeCaprio and Scorsesee) attached and big budget, this would’ve been Weekend at Bernie’s.


Twelve Years a Slave

Toni AvatarShe Said:

Set twenty years before the Civil War begins, a free black man is kidnapped and forced into slavery. It is a powerful, true story of survival and doing whatever it takes to stay alive in the face of extreme cruelty, stripped of family and freedom while attempting to hold on to one’s dignity. Clearly a serious subject and one, in my humble opinion, that deserves the Oscar.

Chiwetel Ejiofor gives an extremely strong performance, portraying Solomon Northrup as an intelligent, distinguished gentleman who, in spite of the odds, refuses to give up the hope that he will once again gain his freedom. To get an idea of his range as an actor, check out Kinky Boots, another movie based (albeit a little more loosely!) on a true story. Again, Ejiofor gets my vote for Best Actor.

And don’t count out Lupita Nyong’o as Patsey for Best Supporting Actress. Her amazing performance of a woman attempting to maintain her own self-respect, as she is time and again stripped of every modicum of dignity, was exceptional. Oh, and can you tell that I liked this movie? I couldn’t wait to discuss it with my 5th graders who are now studying the Civil War (well, age-appropriate parts anyway).

Sam AvatarHe Said:

WTF? People actually kidnapped people from the north to be slaves?! Had no idea, and this movie made me want to read more about this tragedy. Epic story, serious beatings and such a great portrayal. My vote for best movie and best supporting actress.



Toni AvatarShe Said:

I’m not going to win any popularity contests in a state where Alexander Payne is a home-grown hero, but this was probably my least favorite movie in the Showcase. I actually wondered why it was nominated, to be honest. The performances of the main actors were wonderful, particularly that of Bruce Dern; however, the “extras” (such as the son’s girlfriend , an aunt, and one of the cousins) seemed as though Payne pulled people off the street and asked them to say a couple of lines. The black and white film, while adding to the grim story of a stubborn, cantankerous old man bent on collecting a non-existent prize, in a way also added to the slow nature of the film. I realize it was meant to capture the crumbling economy of the heartland and the wasted lives and opportunities of the common man; however, I couldn’t help comparing (and contrasting) it to the scenery shots of Hawaii in The Descendents. Still, I enjoyed the dark humor and could relate to the story of the adult child – parent relationship in which the one thing the child wishes for, and works so hard to obtain, is the one thing they will never receive… the love of their parent.

Sam AvatarHe Said:

Sorry, not my favorite of the movies this year. I had high hopes for it, and the mother (June Squibb) had some funny lines, but the movie ran slow and the scenery could have been much better if not in black and white. But, that may have been the purpose because it seemed to support a typical view of the middle of the country as being “fly over” states. Not great acting throughout. I understood what they were trying to do, it just fell flat for me.


Captain Phillips

Toni AvatarShe Said:

Who doesn’t love Tom Hanks? I mean, he’s just inherently lovable! Here he portrays a heroic Captain Phillips, ready to risk his own life to protect his crew. The movie keeps you involved and on the edge of your seat, and the fact that it is based on a true story is captivating as well. This is a good film with fine performances; however I have heard some reports from actual crew members that contradict the events depicted in the movie (we’ve seen a couple of short documentaries on the subject). We are all aware that things may be changed or added for dramatic effect, so I will just enjoy it for its entertainment value, withholding judgment on its voracity until I can read the book or learn more about the actual events.

Scary to think things like this can happen in real life, and revealing of how people in other countries sometimes must live and, many times, survive.

Sam AvatarHe Said:

I watched a documentary on this and events were crunched together and a little inaccurate but it was a good ride. I don’t see myself shipping freight around the Horn of Africa anytime soon. Oh, and not a single parrot, or eye patch in the whole movie! Arrrrr?



Toni AvatarShe Said:

Sadly, I can actually see the premise of this movie coming to fruition. How many times have you looked up at a person expectantly upon hearing them ask a question or make a comment, only to discover they were actually talking on the phone? Each day I sit with a group of co-workers who eat lunch with their phones, constantly checking their email or looking something up that has been brought up in a conversation. Instant gratification of what Adam Levine’s lower torso “v” looks like or who a particular actor in a movie was. Important stuff like that. In a time of social media “friends” and a dependence on technology, is it that far a stretch to believe that one day people will develop “relationships” with their online services? Scarily enough, I can see it. The very near future holds intuitive computers that conform to our needs, such as lights that turn off and on as we enter a room, video games that carry on conversations with us, and people who will write our personal letters for us (or dictate as a computer writes them anyway. Unfortunately, none of us will be able to read the computer’s cursive writing! I guess the script writer didn’t take the state of our educational system into consideration). Oh, and evidently fashion in the future will dictate that men will sport porn – staches and extremely high-waisted pants.

Sam AvatarHe Said:

This is where we are going folks! People love their phones and this goes to the next level. It also confirms the beginning of Skynet and Terminators for me. I’m telling you, in the future, when you hurt your phone’s feelings, your toaster might kill you in your sleep! Just what I need, another life form that I have to worry about offending! At least we will all be dressed like Steve Urkle with a porn-stache, so there’s THAT to look forward to…


American Hustle

Toni AvatarShe Said:

This movie is a fictional story that takes place in a real event. Figure that one out! Christian Bale’s comb-over is a marvel of engineering and hairspray rivaling Donald Trump’s. Maybe that should be a new category. Jennifer Lawrence plays crazy better than most, like someone who can’t hide her own crazy! But I still think the dramatic performance of Nyong’o deserves the Supporting Actress award. Besides, Lawrence won last year for crazy!

It was entertaining and held my interest, unfortunately as the second to the last movie in a day long movie watching experience, I was more than a little antsy. Sorry, Sam!

Sam AvatarHe Said:

What a hot mess these people were. Christian Bale’s hair was its own character for me, I was mesmerized. I know crazy, and Jennifer Lawrence plays good crazy in this. Crazy hair + Crazy women= American Hustle!



Toni AvatarShe Said:

This was the only nominated movie we saw prior to the Best Picture Showcase. It was the last film of the Showcase, and to be honest, if it were left to me, I probably wouldn’t have stayed. Not that it wasn’t good, it was! It’s just that sitting through five movies in one day is difficult, no matter how good they are! But Sam wanted to stay, so… you know I can’t say no to him! Besides I had to make it up to him for fidgeting so much through American Hustle!

The special effects are phenomenal and deserve an Oscar in that category. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend seeing it in 3D, one of the few movies for which I think that particular feature makes a difference. However, I’m not sure I would have picked this one out for a Best Picture nomination. Sandra Bullock does a good job as a scientist-turned novice astronaut who fights to survive in a situation for which she is not fully prepared. Be forewarned, the entertainment value far outweighs the plausibility factor (e.g. Sam asked me why Bullock was taking off her space suit at one point, and I replied, “Because she looks like that!”).

Sam AvatarHe Said:

Second time I saw this one, and I still caught myself mentally reaching out to help Sandra Bullock grab hold of anything to keep her from floating off into space. This movie keeps you tense almost throughout. Don’t know why it was nominated other than big names (Bullock & Clooney), but what a ride!

So, will I be watching The Academy Awards tonight as these talented people pick up their awards (or clap politely for those picking up their awards)? Are you kidding? Don’t you know it’s Sunday? Don’t you realize what’s on tonight? I will be curled up under my electric throw on this frigid evening, happily watching the diseased prey on the lives of others. Oh yeah, and the zombies too. It is “Walking Dead” night… and I still haven’t gotten over last season’s killing of Hershel!
No worries, though. We have The Oscars scheduled to record on the DVR so we can fast-forward to the good parts! No popcorn for me though, just the thought of it… bleh.

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About Toni and Sam

Toni is an elementary school teacher who finds an outlet in movies (and popcorn). Sam is the coolest comic book nerd you'll ever meet. Together, they see countless films and love on their adorable dog, Bixby (named for Bill Bixby, the star of the 1970s television series “The Incredible Hulk.”) Toni and Sam are the authors of the mini blog HE SAW/SHE SAW.
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