Last time I wrote about the Nominated Films, I included AUGUST, OSAGE COUNTY, which was not nominated. I wonder why. There are usually ten nominations for Best Picture, this year there only nine. My mistake.. So to the remaining four…from an Actors viewpoint.
1. THE WOLF OF WALL STREET directed by the incomparable Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio. This is a bit like Mr Toad’s Wild Ride; the story runs on the edge of control and finally runs out of control, as our leading man completely loses the plot he has created for himself and others and they all go to prison. I suspect the real person Jordan Belfort, had neither the charm or the finesse of the man as created by Dicaprio and the film would have been deeply unattractive, if made closer to the truth, based as it is on sheer greed and self indulgence. However in the talented hands of Martin Scorsese, it is entertaining, funny as well as stomach churning. Rumour has it that Jonah Hill made the film for scale (actor’s minimum wage) for the chance to work with Mr Scorsese, it certainly paid off, he’s excellent in the film.
2. I loved DALLAS BUYERS CLUB, a truthful hard hitting film and a great story starring Matthew McConaughey, who proves himself a really talented actor, after we have seen him largely as a film star. Happens to a lot of good looking, action actors, who suddenly reveal themselves as having the ability to take on challenging roles. Remember Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis in SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS. When the material is there, many of those “action” actors rise to the occasion. Jared Leto turns in a great performance as the transgender HIV sufferer. What is interesting about the film, is the reminder that the awful disease AIDS, hit not only the gay community, but also those straight people who were promiscuous and blindly exposed themself to a fast moving illness, which hit anyone and everyone, who fell into its deadly path.
3. HER …not one of my favourites, but admirable nontheless. I like films that engage the audience and since this is a film about people being increasingly isolated by technology in future life, it gives a bleak and lonely look at the future as seen by its Director Spike Jonze. His leading character Theodore is played disarmingly by talented Joaquin Pheonix, less angry than usual, but a sad and soulful man, who falls in love with his operating system, Samantha. Samantha is played by an unseen Scarlett Johansson. Futuristic Los Angeles was filmed partly in a major Chinese city, which really alerts you to the kind of lifestyle, to which we can look forward. Glamorous, efficient and bleak.
4. PHILOMENA a charming and sad story about an Irish woman’s search for the son, who was stolen from her at the Convent, she was sent to, to to have her illegitemate baby. ( A major sin in Eire of the 1950’s) This is a true story and a real heart tugger, with another great performance from the immensely talented Judi Dench. In fairness I am not sure this movie would have made it into best category, without her. The story has been told before, less specifically, in another fine film THE MAGDALEN SISTERS and we feel the same outrage and sadness in this new film. However I think this film has received more attention, with Dame Judi’s performance and the fact that it is taken from a book by a well known BBC journalist Martin Sixsmith, played very well by Steve Coogan.
Lastly I want to comment on a film that I saw this year, which seems to have had little attention in the US…WADJDA, about a young girl, who lives in a suburb of Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, who fights against the restraints of her school and just wants a bicycle. The film was directed by a woman, Haifaa al-Mansour. What a feat for a woman to direct a film in a such a strictly religious country. This is an intensely human, engaging film, which helps us realise that we are all very much the same as human beings, with the same dreams and day to day issues. Maybe films like this will help us to understand each other and live together in peace and freedom. Do see it if you can.