Notebook Pages

Cate Blanchett-Blue JasmineLupita Nyong'o 12 years a slave-1

Matthew McConaughey-Jared Leto-Dallas Buyers Club

12-years-a-slave cinematographyAmy Adams-American Hustle-1
The Oscars take place this Sunday, and although I still believe that the Academy has hardly ever been a barometer of quality, I will certainly tune in to watch the ceremony. I don’t do it for the show, jokes or the Red Carpet either. And, truth be told, I wish there were more people actually interested in going to the movies and less people interested in the Oscars spectacle (how many of these are real movie lovers, I wonder?). But I can’t deny I always look forward to the Oscars night, my favourite night of the year, because it makes me happy to see some of my favourite actors live and maybe catch a glimpse of the Old Hollywood glamour, imagining how it all used to be in the golden years of film.

So I thought I’d make this edition of the Notebook Pages all about film and the Oscars, including a few of my preferences and predictions (that’s a first, but this time I HAVE watched all the films competing for best picture, except for Philomena, and in the other important categories). I know it will not win, but Dallas Buyers Club is my favourite contender, being the film that, with its indie genre and especially with its Dare to Live adage, moved me the most. I can see why 12 Years A Slave will probably get the votes of the Academy (let’s face it, Dallas Buyers Club is a much more difficult film than Steve McQueen’s), and I really hope the Academy will get it right, because, to be honest, it comes a second for me too. It is a very good and a very complete film, an unflinching portrayal of slavery and a very even-handed one at that – I think it helped that a movie with a very American subject was directed by a British.

Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto are my favourites as well for Best actor in a leading role, and Best actor in a supporting role, respectively, for their performances in Dallas Buyers Club. While I believe that Jared Leto has no real contender, I really liked the other performances of the actors nominated in the best actor category (Chiwetel Ejiofor is so very good, and Leonardo, Christian Bale and Bruce Dern are, too), but I still think McConaughey stood out. It wouldn’t be fair if these two didn’t win, it’s their year. And speaking of Dallas Buyers Club, here is an insider view I enjoyed reading.

Here are my other picks and predictions, and a few links:

Best actress: Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
Best supporting actress: Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years A Slave)
Best cinematography: I think Gravity is the most likely to win and I have to admit that for someone who is very reticent to high-tech films like me, I really liked this movie – for one, it didn’t give me a headache as every single other 3D movie I’ve seen has, and secondly, it really was beautifully executed, reminding me of Kubrick’s 2001:Space Odyssey. But I still prefer 12 Years A Slave for its gorgeous classic cinematography (the contrast between the beauty of the landscape and the human tragedy is very powerful) and I am very puzzled that the film wasn’t even nominated in this category.
Best original screenplay: Her, but as a Woody Allen fan, I’ll name Blue Jasmine as a personal favourite too, if only for my pleasure.
Best costumes: American Hustle has a good chance to win, but I think 12 Years A Slave is in the cards too.
Best director: I think it’s between Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity) and Steve McQueen (12 Years A Slave). In my opinion, Gravity does not have the script to help it land an Oscar for best picture (it did come as a big surprise when it won the BAFTA), but I am already very used to seeing the awards for best picture and best direction split between films. However, I still don’t get why the most innovative direction should be the best one, too.

• In this interview, Judi Dench, the Philomena Oscar nominee, talks about how she began one of the great film careers at 63 (she is 79) thanks to Harvey Weinstein, about her simple life outside the film world and why she doesn’t allow the words “old”, “vintage” and “retirement” in her home.
• George Hurrell’s Hollywood: Glamour Portraits 1925-1992, by Mark A. Vieira. The lavishly illustrated book (more than four hundred photographs) gathers the work of the photographer who put glamour into the Hollywood portrait.
• Oscar moments: A From the Archives look at the Oscars night.
• Let’s not forget about the Red Carpet either: here are my all time favourite Oscar gowns.

PS: It’s going to be a special film weekend on Classiq, in case you’d like to stop by. Have a good one!

photos: 1-Perdido Productions (Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine) / 2,4-Regency Enterprises, etc. (Lupita Nyong’o, Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years A Slave) / 3-Truth Entertainment, Voltage Pictures (Matthew McConaughey & Jared Letto in Dallas Buyers Club) / 5-Atlas Entertainment, Annapurna Pictures (Amy Adams in American Hustle)

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