Oscar 2014 Series: Erwin’o’Meter for Best Picture Armin Fakouhi March 3, 2014 23 Ok, this is going to be a busy night but nobody says it was easy to run a movie website on Oscar night, the probably busiest night of the year for people like me to get their opinion (who probably nobody cares about) out there. You now know what my picks are with respect to the best acting performances this year, now let’s move on to the other interesting category of the night…the category of best picture and best director. Best Picture and Best Director Again I have done my best to be able to provide an objective outlook on which movie deserves to be taking home the golden boy tonight…but again due to timing, interest and availability in my new home country, I wasn’t able to watch every one of the contenders*. American Hustle This was my last minute view just before the big night and unfortunately I watched the movie and the peak of its hype. And as usual with overhyped movies, they can’t live up to their reputation. It seems however that I am not a particular fan of David O.Russel’s work but here the Academy and I seem to disagree. His cast (Christian Bale and Melissa Leo for The Fighter and Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook) have been praised with awards and nominations left and right, same with American Hustle. And truth to be told, this is a good movie; it is entertaining, it is fun to watch with a good script and great actors. But in my mind this is not enough to earn an Academy Award for Best Picture and/or Best Director. I thought to myself all throughout this movie, this is good but in 5 years this will be just another movie which I watched in theaters and that’s why I think it doesn’t deserve all the praise it has gotten from everyone (PS: a review will follow soon) Captain Phillips Another highlight of 2013 which I watched in theaters and this was a truly entertaining and fantastic thriller. The story based on the book written by the real Captain Phillips had inspired this movie and both Paul Greengrass did an absolutely fantastic job directing this in the most riveting and “nail-biting” way. And after Tom Hanks had delivered a few missteps in the past years with movies not really worth his acting skills, he celebrates a great comeback with his portrayal of Captain Phillips. When watching it, I was highly entertained and all the elements of an action thriller were met and without spoiling too much, the final scenes of the movie gave it the umpf which in my mind were worthy of at least giving Tom Hanks the honor of an academy award nomination. But all in all, the movie was also more of one night stand of thrill but will not have a heavy impact on me. I should mention though that when watching this movie, I did truly enjoy it and was completely into it. Having said that, an Oscar should be handed to a movie which not only entertained me for the night but also had some more of an impact a few months down the road. Dallas Buyers Club I have been writing and thinking about this movie a lot after watching it. As per my own personal definition, this already qualifies for being awarded with an Academy Award. And if there wouldn’t be such fierce competition this year, I would say DBC is a winner but as I said in my previous post, this is tough field of runner-ups. This movie had all the attributes I expect from an Academy Award nominee, it has great and deeply vested actors and one of them will certainly take home this years golden boy. But that is maybe also the problem the movie has, the actors are the dominating factor of this movie. The achievements of the directors as well as the producers are commendable but I felt that as a “standalone” movie, there are better contenders in the race. The Wolf of Wall Street I think of all movies which were released this year, I was mostly looking forward to this one for two very simple reasons: Scorsese and DiCaprio. There are only very few movies which have disappointed me when these two ingredients were in the mix. And again I was not disappointed, 180 minutes of pure entertainment with a cast who was absolutely loving every second of it. Leonardo DiCaprio went to new heights with his acting skills in his extreme and visceral performance as Jordan Belfort. And Scorsese showed us that he can do much more than just gangster movies but is also comfortable in different playgrounds. And as much as I loved this movie, I still don’t think that it truly deserves recognition as best picture – mainly because this is not Scorseses best work and well as I said, it is a tough field this year with some better movies in the mix. And the Oscar for Best Picture Goes to … 12 Years A Slave Impact, timeless, mortifying with great visuals based on the true story of Solomon Northup. After having gone through a marathon of Oscar nominated movies in the past weeks, this is the one movie which truly deserves to take home the trophy. For weeks I have been thinking about this fantastic piece of cinema now and what an impact it had on me. Not only did it reiterate the brutality of slavery just a couple of 100 years back, it also did such a great job visualizing the very brutality and humiliation black people had to suffer. But what was it that made me pick it as best of 2013…well, I could go on for long but it is already very late and I want to sum it up in the factors which moved me most: fantastic acting performances by the entire cast, great adapted script and great use of visual elements in a movie which I will remember for years to come. And the Oscar for Best Director goes to … Gravity We have come to the end of my post and I want to close it with my recommendation for Best Director. I waited way too long to watch this movie but when I saw it, I was tied to my seat for the entire 90 minutes. But that was not the only reason why I loved this movie so much; the way how director Alfonso Cuarón was able to visualize space and the switch from gravity to non-gravity was just so mind-blowing. In addition to that he choose to awesome actors with great chemistry and in particular an extremely strong leading actress who I would hope for to win….I want to write more but my body is shutting down and telling me to go to sleep. So enjoy the Oscars, and I will see tomorrow if my predictions were correct…. * Her, Nebraska and Philomena did unfortunately not fit into my pre-Oscar schedule and could not be considered by the Erwin’o’Meter. 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