Manuel Betancourt

Oscar Challenge 2014, or How thankfully this just means I have only 12 films to review

February 1, 2014 · in Film, Oscars

Top 8

Oscar Challenge: watch and review all films nominated for the Top 8 categories at the upcoming Academy Awards. (Joe over at The Wire is going for broke, attempting to see all 58 contenders and all I can do is wish him well and hope he comes out the other end in one piece, especially since he gets to suffer through Alone Yet Not Alone).

I did this last year and I was ready to do it again even before I found out there were only 12 films to review this year. Yep, only three films not nominated for Best Picture managed nominations in the Top 8 categories. That’s the lowest number ever and as Mark Harris notes, this might have something to do with campaigning and new rules, though as Nick points out, this may also belie more deep-rooted with how we understand “best”:

Adding a gender angle to Mark’s terrific article: the only two non-Best Picture nominees to score acting nods were in Actress and S.Actress.

— Nick’s Flick Picks (@NicksFlickPicks) January 21, 2014

Not unusual for modern Oscars, but reinforces 1) paucity of women in prestige pics & 2) AMPAS’ trouble seeing female-driven work as “Best.”

— Nick’s Flick Picks (@NicksFlickPicks) January 21, 2014

(we saw this last year as well, with The Sessions & The Impossible showing up on Best Supporting Actress and Best Actress, though the men of The Master also made a showing).

All in all, this roster of 12 is a handsome and diverse one. So far, there’s not one I actively dislike and included in that even dozen are three of my Top 10 films of the year so, I’m excited to write about them and see how it is that they stack up together.

Before Midnight (A)
1 Oscar Nomination
Writing – Adapted Screenplay (Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy & Richard Linklater)

August Osage: County (B)
2 Oscar Nominations
Actress in a Leading Role (Meryl Streep), Actress in a Supporting Role (Julia Roberts)

Blue Jasmine (B+)
3 Oscar Nominations
Actress in a Leading Role (Cate Blanchett),  Actress in a Supporting Role (Sally Hawkins), Writing – Original Screenplay (Woody Allen)

Philomena (B-)
4 Oscar Nominations
Best Picture, Actress in a Leading Role (Judi Dench), Writing – Adapted Screenplay (Steve Coogan & Jeff Pope)

Wolf of Wall Street (C+)
5 Oscar Nominations
Best Picture, Directing (Martin Scorcese), Actor in a Leading Role (Leonardo DiCaprio), Actor in a Supporting Role (Jonah Hill), Writing – Adapted Screenplay (Terence Winter)

Her (A)
5 Oscar Nominations
Best Picture, Writing – Original Screenplay (Spike Jonze), Music (Original Score), Music (Original Song), Production Design

Nebraska (C)
6 Oscar Nominations
Best Picture, Directing (Alexander Payne), Actor in a Leading Role (Bruce Dern), Actress in a Supporting Role (June Squibb), Writing – Original Screenplay (Bob Nelson), Cinematography

Dallas Buyers Club (C+)
6 Oscar Nominations
Best Picture, Actor in a Leading Role (Matthew McConaughey), Actor in a Supporting Role (Jared Leto),Writing -Original Screenplay (Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack), Film Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling

Captain Phillips (B)
6 Oscar Nominations
Best Picture, Actor in a Supporting Role (Barkhad Abdi), Writing – Adapted Screenplay (Billy Ray), Film Editing, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing

** WINNER ** 12 Years a Slave (A)
9 Oscar Nominations
Best Picture, Directing (Steve McQueen), Actor in a Leading Role (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Actor in a Supporting Role (Michael Fassbender), Actress in a Supporting Role (Lupita Nyong’o), Writing – Adapted Screenplay (John Ridley), Costume Design, Film Editing, Production Design

American Hustle (B-)
10 Nominations
Best Picture, Directing (David O. Russell), Actor in a Leading Role (Christian Bale,) Actor in a Supporting Role (Bradley Cooper), Actress in a Leading Role (Amy Adams), Actress in a Supporting Role (Jennifer Lawrence), Writing – Original Screenplay (Eric Warren Singer & David O. Russell), Costume Design, Film Editing & Production Design.
Gravity (A-)
10 Oscar Nominations
Best Picture, Directing (Alfonso Cuarón), Actress in a Leading Role (Sandra Bullock), Cinematography, Film Editing, Music (Original Score), Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects