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DOPE Review – ***½

They're supposedly 90s devotees, but the tagline references a song from 2005. (Source)

They’re supposedly 90s devotees, but the tagline references a song from 2005. (Source)

¹Dope is the kind of film that defies easy categorization and criticism. Its tone, its story, and its special mixture of strengths and weaknesses cannot be easily summarized. It’s the kind of film which many will consider better than it is–and for valid reasons. It’s the kind of film you want to like, and there are times when I liked it quite a bit. But it has serious fundamental issues, some easier to address than others, and in the end it barely sneaks into the **** level¹.

It’s the kind of film which gives you too much time to ponder its issues.

¹After further reflection, I realized the film’s issues were enough to push from a low **** to a high ***½.

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SELMA Review – ****

Is it in trouble? Or is this just a hiccup on the road to the Oscars? (Source)

“It cannot wait.”

The historical drama film carries a certain kind of baggage. There’s always the risk that history will be distorted, often for the sake of a more “dramatic” narrative, or that the historical figures will be depicted as more saintly–or demonic–than they truly were.

Selma is the kind of film which manages to be both compelling as a drama and worthy as a historical chronicle. And it treats its characters as human beings–some noble, some cruel, all flawed, but all human. It has become the locus of a controversy which, as per usual, seems to be propagated by those who haven’t seen the film. It’s a sorry thing, as it may deter people from seeing one of the finest Hollywood films of the year.

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My Top 20 and Bottom 20 of 2013

I wasn’t originally going to do this–I figured I’d said enough about these films over the last few weeks–but what the hell? This and my post-Oscar article will round the year off nicely (he said in March).

My Top 10:

1. Spring Breakers

Because this is 2013. This is how we live now. Is it an exaggerated view of our world? Yes, but does anyone think Easy Rider wasn’t a little romanticized itself? I mention Easy Rider because I think of this as a film that captures the 2010s like that film captured the late 60s. So later generations may not quite see what I see in it. And that’s fine. But it’s more than just a generationally significant film. It’s hugely entertaining, thought-provoking (when Alien says “This the fucking American Dream, y’all”, he’s more right than he might have guessed), funny, shocking, and all too true. When Faith (Selena Gomez) tries to encourage her friends to leave Florida and return to their safe, dull hometown rather than associate with Alien, and they opt to stay as though it were an obvious choice…let’s just say that moment resonated with me quite deeply. The performances (and not just James Franco’s mad tour-de-force) are great (Vanessa Hudgens, Gomez, Ashley Benson, and Rachel Korine make an eminently believable quartet), Harmony Korine’s writing and directing are just about perfect–as are the editing and Benoît Debie’s cinematography. It even uses Skrillex music to good effect. It’s one of those films that’s so good it makes me almost giddy.

Sprang break. Sprang break. Sprang break forevah.

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My 3rd Annual Film Awards: The Official Nominees

Picture:

  • Captain Phillips
  • Her
  • Nebraska
  • Prisoners
  • Short Term 12
  • Spring Breakers
  • A Touch of Sin
  • 12 Years a Slave
  • Upstream Color
  • The Wolf of Wall Street

Director:

  • Shane Carruth (Upstream Color)
  • Spike Jonze (Her)
  • Harmony Korine (Spring Breakers)
  • Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave)
  • Jia Zhangke (A Touch of Sin)

Actor:

  • Bruce Dern (Nebraska)
  • Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street)
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)
  • Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station)
  • Joaquin Phoenix (Her)

Actress:

  • Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
  • Judi Dench (Philomena)
  • Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha)
  • Brie Larson (Short Term 12)
  • Amy Seimetz (Upstream Color)

Supporting Actor:

  • Paul Dano (Prisoners)
  • Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)
  • James Franco (Spring Breakers)
  • Matthew McConaughey (Mud)
  • Keith Stanfield (Short Term 12)

Supporting Actress:

  • Amy Adams (Her)
  • Kaitlyn Dever (Short Term 12)
  • Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
  • Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)
  • Octavia Spencer (Fruitvale Station)

Original Screenplay:

  • Her
  • Nebraska
  • Prisoners
  • Spring Breakers
  • A Touch of Sin

Adapted Screenplay:

  • Captain Phillips
  • Philomena
  • Short Term 12
  • 12 Years a Slave
  • The Wolf of Wall Street

Cinematography:

  • Prisoners
  • Spring Breakers
  • To the Wonder
  • A Touch of Sin
  • 12 Years a Slave

Editing:

  • Captain Phillips
  • Spring Breakers
  • 12 Years a Slave
  • Upstream Color
  • The Wolf of Wall Street

Production Design:

  • The Great Gatsby
  • Her
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  • Pacific Rim
  • 12 Years a Slave

Costume Design:

  • American Hustle
  • 47 Ronin
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
  • Saving Mr. Banks
  • 12 Years a Slave

Makeup:

  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
  • Lone Survivor
  • Prisoners
  • 12 Years a Slave

Original Score:

  • All Is Lost
  • Her 
  • Nebraska
  • 12 Years a Slave
  • Upstream Color

Original Song:

  • “Love Is an Open Door” – Frozen
  • “The Moon Song” – Her
  • “Ordinary Love” – Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.
  • “So You Know What It’s Like” – Short Term 12
  • “The Money Chant” – The Wolf of Wall Street

Sound Mixing:

  • All Is Lost
  • Lone Survivor
  • Rush
  • Spring Breakers
  • Upstream Color

Visual Effects:

  • Elysium
  • Gravity
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  • Man of Steel
  • Pacific Rim

Sound Effects:

  • All Is Lost
  • Lone Survivor
  • Pacific Rim
  • Spring Breakers
  • Upstream Color

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Longlists to Nominees: Supporting Actor

You cannot make bricks without clay, and we’ve got a shit-ton of clay to work with here; 14 actors representing 16 performances. I think I know what I want to do here…but there might be some surprises along the way.

Side note: Am I the only one who’s surprised NO ONE nominated Clooney for Gravity? Everyone goes nuts for that movie and they don’t they nominate the ONE other person in the cast? Not saying he should’ve been nominated, but the totality of his exclusion surprises me. (All he got was “Favorite Movie Duo” with Sandra Bullock from the People’s Choice Awards. Which…no.)

  • Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)
  • Daniel Brühl (Rush)
  • Chris Cooper (August: Osage County)
  • Paul Dano (Prisoners)
  • Colin Farrell (Saving Mr. Banks)
  • Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)
  • James Franco (Spring Breakers)
  • John Goodman (Inside Llewyn Davis)
  • Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street)
  • Matthew McConaughey (Mud/The Wolf of Wall Street)
  • David Oyelowo (The Butler)
  • Sam Shepard (Mud/August: Osage County)
  • Keith Stanfield (Short Term 12)
  • Jiang Wu (A Touch of Sin)

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Longlists to Nominees: Original Song

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Here’s a nice easy one. Unlike Original Score, where you have a feature-length score to consider, here you’ve got a (typically) 2-5 minute song to worry about. And since there wasn’t an overflow of great movie songs this year, I think I can knock this one out pretty quickly. But let’s do it right.

  • “In Summer” – Frozen
  • “Let It Go” – Frozen
  • “Love is an Open Door” – Frozen
  • “The Moon Song” – Her
  • “Supersymmetry” – Her
  • “Ordinary Love” – Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
  • “After Party” – Short Term 12
  • “So You Know What It’s Like” – Short Term 12
  • “The Money Chant” – The Wolf of Wall Street

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