So, the 2014 Academy Awards have come and gone, but I think there were some pretty worthwhile films that were up for best picture.

The full list of Best Picture nominees:

American Hustle
Her
Nebraska
Dallas Buyers Club
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street
Philomena
Gravity
Captain Phillips

Admittedly, I did not get around to watching all of the movies in this category. However, I am going to review a few of the ones I did get the chance to see.

I’ll start with my personal favorite:

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I completely fell in love with Nebraska. It’s quirky and witty, with just the right amount of emotion. The cast, first of all, makes this movie what it is. Bruce Dern plays the patriarch, Woody Grant. His son, David, is played by Will Forte. June Squibb as the matriarch, Kate, and Bob Odenkirk (AKA Saul Goodman to all my Breaking Bad fans) as Woody and Kate’s other son, Ross, round out the perfectly dysfunctional Grant family. Basically the premise is that Woody thinks he has won a million dollars, and wants to travel to Nebraska to claim it. Woody begins his journey from Billings, Montana on foot, only to be stopped numerous times, before his son, David, agrees to take him. The whole family tries to tell him that he’s being scammed, but there is no stopping him. I know you’re thinking this story sounds extremely predictable. And to a certain degree, you would be right. But in so many ways, it’s very unique. I am fairly critical of the comedy genre, because I very often find myself being disgusted with the humor; it’s too forced, and just comes off as painful. I wouldn’t consider Nebraska a comedy, it’s more of a drama with a twinge of dark humor. However, there were multiple points in this film that had me laughing out loud. A scene near the latter portion of the movie involving David and Ross’s plan to take back an air compressor that their father believes to be his played out to be hilarious. This movie may be somewhat polarizing; a love it or hate it kind of thing. In my opinion, it’s certainly worth the watch, and of all the nominees, this story won my heart. Here’s the trailer!

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I was so beyond excited to see this movie when it came out. The director, David O. Russell, was also behind Silver Linings Playbook, which I loved. American Hustle also had two of Silver Linings Playbook‘s stars: Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. Both of whom I love on a professional and personal level. I’m not a big Amy Adams fan, but I love Christian Bale and Jeremy Renner. This film didn’t disappoint me. The acting was great (I’m looking at you, JLaw!) and the story kept me interested. However, I didn’t love it the way I loved Nebraska. The story wasn’t as relatable. The overall look of this film blew Nebraska (filmed in black and white) out of the park. It was bright and glamorous, all the characters were so exaggerated (this time I’m looking at you, Christian Bale). I definitely enjoyed this movie, I think it was well made and deserved to be nominated. I really thought it had this award in the bag, and honestly, I breathed a sigh of relief when it didn’t win. You can watch the trailer here. It’s worth the watch, if only to enjoy Jennifer Lawrence’s incredible talent.

 

And finally, Dallas Buyers Club:

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I didn’t watch Dallas Buyers club until after the Oscars. Matthew McConaughey snagged best leading actor and Jared Leto won best supporting actor for their roles in this movie. I’m a huge Leonardo DiCaprio fan, so I was a little upset to see that he was beaten out for best actor by Matthew McConaughey. I’m used to seeing Mr. McConaughey in silly, mindless romantic comedies, like How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and Failure to Launch. Enjoyable movies? Sure. Oscar-worthy acting? Hardly. I had heard all the buzz about Dallas Buyers Club, which is based on a true story, so I knew I should see for myself. Everything about this movie completely blew me away. This is no Kate Hudson RomCom, that’s for sure. Matthew McConaughey’s performance as Ron Woodroof was outstanding. Ron is a sleazy cowboy who contracts AIDS. He teams up with Rayon, a transgendered female, played by Jared Leto. Together, they form the Dallas Buyers Club. Here’s a little more about the plot, if you’re interested, and here’s the trailer so you can get a taste of McConaughey and Leto’s incredible performances. I just want to take a moment to talk about Jared Leto. I suppose it’s a stereotype that you can’t be a great actor and a great musician. While not everyone will agree with me, I believe Jared Leto defies this stigma. His performance as Rayon was absolutely fantastic. He plays such a lovable character, and if you couldn’t tell by his Oscar acceptance speech, it’s clear that this project means a lot to him. This story is really emotional, but don’t expect a sugar-coated love story. This movie brings out raw emotion and doesn’t hold back. I did not know a lot about AIDS prior to watching this film, and it completely opened my eyes. The emotion that Leto and McConaughey bring to this film is unreal. While neither of them live with this debilitating disease, their performances reflect perfectly the heartache and struggle it brings. I know I sound cliche, but watch it, and you’ll agree with me!

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  1. […] Read more here: Best Picture Nominee Reviews […]

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