Sunday, 9 March 2014

Oscar Winners: The verdict

There were very few surprises at the Academy Awards and I imagine most people could have predicted exactly who was going to win big this year but despite speculation, did the best really win on the night? Laura Heffernan takes a look back and deliberates over the Oscar award results.

Best Original Screenplay: Her (Spike Jonze)

Verdict: I’m really chuffed that Her didn’t leave empty handed because it definitely deserved some credit – I thought it might be in with a good chance in the Best Original Score category (unfortunately this went to Gravity).  It’s very well written, definitely original and Jonze manages to take an idea that really is out of this world and make it totally believable. All that being said I was rooting for American Hustle (which won the BAFTA in this category) purely for its brilliantly snappy script that was full of attitude. 

Best Adapted Screenplay: 12 Years a Slave (John Ridley)

Verdict: John Ridley has to be credited for staying more or less true to Solomon Northup’s story rather than incorporating any Hollywood gimmicks – Emily West of the University of Reading has said that she had "never seen a film represent slavery so accurately." However, it would have been nice to see a smaller scale film receive some recognition here; in particular Philomena or the wonderful Before Midnight which both really hit home with me.

Best Animated Feature: Frozen

Verdict: It’s just reached the $1 billion milestone and it hasn’t even been released in every country yet. It’s the second highest grossing animated film of all time, trailing just behind Toy Story 3, and is the 18th highest grossing film ever. It has not one, but two fantastic leading ladies, it’s got some traditional Disney sweetness but has been brought right up to date, and it’s all about the love between sisters rather than the typical boy-girl love story. Should it have won? Absolutely. 

Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)

Verdict: It looked like it was going to be a tossup between Lupita and Jennifer Lawrence but for me Lupita’s Patsy blew J-Law’s Rosalyn out of the water. If anyone was a contender I’d have said Sally Hawkins for her ballsy performance in Blue Jasmine, but I think Lupita clinched it with the infamous soap scene of 12 Years a Slave – it’s extremely powerful stuff.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

Verdict: I enjoyed all the performances in this category - Fassbender was unnerving, Jonah Hill was hysterical. Leto was the clear winner though. His performance as Rayon was like experiencing Heath Ledger’s Joker all over again; you really struggle to see the actor beneath the character – he was Rayon. It’s something you need to see to believe – even though it might leave you an emotional wreck, his performance is worth it.  

Best Actress in a Leading Role: Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)

Verdict: Cate Blanchett’s victory seemed like pretty much a done deal from the offset, but I love an underdog so I tried to be resilient. A completely different side of Amy Adams is showcased in American Hustle and I was really taken aback and vowed to support her. Then I actually sat down and watched Blue Jasmine, and wow. Playing somebody mentally unstable must be hard enough; playing somebody mentally unstable trying to put on a front must be even harder. Cate’s mask does not falter for a moment and her vulnerability creates sympathy for what would otherwise be an ultimately unlikable character. Credit where credit’s due – she was untouchable.

Best Actor in a Leading Role: Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)

Verdict: There’s no doubt that McConaughey was dedicated – he lost a whopping 47lbs in preparation for this role. Playing Ron Woodroof - electrician and rodeo cowboy struggling to come to terms with his AIDs diagnosis - is also arguable his most challenging role to date and he has come on in leaps and bounds since his rom-com days. McConaughey gave the role everything he’s got, and most certainly did it justice, deserving all the praise for his electrifying performance.

However, I was one of the people hoping Leo would finally be victorious and was therefore one of the people subsequently tweeting #PoorLeo following the Academy Awards. Firstly, I could not keep my eyes off of him in The Wolf of Wall Street; I was never bored or unconvinced. Secondly, after all his near-misses over the years I thought that this was it, and the Academy was finally going to reward him. Sadly it was not to be. McConaughey deserved it; we just need to keep the faith for Leo’s sake. All is not lost.

Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)

Verdict: This is tough. Cuaron did something incredible by managing to transfer something so ambitious onto the screen and Gravity’s revolutionary use of the 3D may have changed Hollywood forever. On the other hand, there’s Steve McQueen who managed to put together an incredible story and encompassed some inconceivably haunting shots and scenes (particularly the singing chorus and the painfully long time that Solomon is abandoned with a noose around his neck). I couldn’t call it, both were wonderful.

Best Picture: 12 Years a Slave

Verdict: If it was up to me to decide then I would have undoubtedly crowned American Hustle as winner because, to put it simply, it was my favourite by a longshot. Slick, suave, stylish; I thought it was magnificent and hugely entertaining. However, I have yet to meet anyone that shares my sentiments so I knew chances of it winning were very slim. That aside, 12 Years had to take it (especially after losing out in the director’s category). It would have been a great injustice for such an important film to take home a mere two awards. Although it only won three to Gravity’s seven, snapping up Best Picture balances things out a bit, and 12 Years a Slave needed to be rewarded for being a film that may have some longevity in the grand scheme of cinema.

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