Sunday, March 2, 2014

And The 'Best Picture' Oscar SHOULD Go to: '12 Years a Slave'

12 Years a Slave film poster.jpg

To my mind it would be damned near a crime - almost as bad as the Academy passing over 'Avatar' several years ago (for Hurt Locker) to award any nominee other than '12 Years a Slave', 'Best Picture. For those who don't know, the film is a British production, directed by Steve McQueen from an adaptation of the 1853 memoir of the same name by Solomon Northup, a New York State-born free negro who was kidnapped in Washington, D.C. in 1841 and sold into slavery. He worked on plantations in the state of Louisiana for twelve years before his release.

This movie has all the elements of a Best Picture, except perhaps one: it is very difficult to watch. It is definitely not a film you will see for "entertainment". But it is riveting history. My wife and I were so taken up by the drama that we weren't able to leave our seats for the entire screening time, to use the restroom. That is how captivating it was.

The most appalling scenes occur when Northrup is taken to the Louisiana plantation to work the fields. The scenes of the whippings -beating are so realistic that it was hard to get them out of your head. But the memory - from the film- of what happened to this courageous African-American will burn into every engram and stay with you and also (should) arouse you to fury if you see balderdash written by simpletons that, "Hey, slavery wasn't that bad'. See:

from a Loyola prof libertarian blockhead.

Thus, the only reason '12 Years' may not move to the winners' circle is the unrelenting gravitas of the film. In this case, the Academy may well veer to the space flick 'Gravity' - which to be sure, is also a terrific film, e..g. see:

So, to be truthful, I wouldn't be terribly disappointed if 'Gravity' won instead and I'd understand it. The Academy may simply opt not to choose a film that is so unremittingly intense and which may also not sit well with some of its members (mainly the 'over 65' group, as pointed out by MSNBC's Chris Hayes on Friday night).

But at least the choice would be tolerable compared to 'American Hustle' or god forbid, 'The Wolf of Wall Street', both of which, imho, glorify criminals and sleaze bags - the last thing we need in Neoliberal America!  If either of these flicks gets the Best Picture, I will really be pissed, but hey  - who can account for such anomalies especially after the dissing of 'Avatar'?

As for Best Actor, I'd like to see Bruce Dern get it. He's labored in the movie mills for many decades (e.g. 'Silent Running', 'The Two-Headed Transplant' etc.) without getting much acclaim though he's a top notch actor. This would cap off a life of intriguing, contrarian roles and set within a compelling drama about an older guy on the brink of losing it to Alzheimers, in 'Nebraska'.  (The award will probably go to Matthew McConaghuey.  )

For 'Best Actress', my pick is  Sandra Bullock with Best Supporting Actress going to Jennifer Lawrence, star girl from 'The Hunger Games'.

Anyway, we will see. At least the Oscars should be a temporary diversion from what's going on in Ukraine.

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