CIRCUIT CONSIDERATIONS: National Board of Review and NYFCC have weighed in on the awards season so far. This weekend, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, as well as New York Film Critics Online will drop their own choices. I feel a Circuit Consideration is needed at this point. The absence of any one performer or film so far doesn’t mean anything…yet. Only two groups have announced and there are plenty more to go. Honestly, the guilds are what truly matters in the Oscar race. At this time last year, there was no way we could see Inside Llewyn Davis missing out on a Best Picture nomination until WGA, DGA, and PGA omitted the film from their lineups. And just like that, the film fell from the conversation. Didn’t think we needed to remind anyone about how amazing that film was.
Make sure to check out the inagural piece from a weeks ago. These are not necessarily my personal choices on my final ballot but these are definitely close, if not the runaways, in certain categories.
Once Emmanuel Lubezki finally won his Academy Award for Best Cinematography for Gravity last year, all my energy and love for DP’s were laid upon Roger Deakins and ensuring that he gets to hold a gold statue sooner rather than later. The two had been solidly locked into my top two favorite DP’s working today. Making a play for one of those top spots this year is the magnificent Bradford Young who shoots both A Most Violent Year from J.C. Chandor and Selma from Ava DuVernay, to utter perfection. In 2000, Steven Soderbergh shocked the world when he scored double nomination duties for both Erin Brockovich and Traffic, a citation that’s hard to ignore depending on where you fall on the two films. I believe there should be consideration to have Young join the small list of craftsmen that pull double nods in a respective year.
In A Most Violent Year, he frames the story, with the New York City back drop, like something you could have seen in the 70’s by Gordon Willis or Owen Roizman. Oscar Isaac standing with Elyes Gabel in the middle of a snowpile, with police officers out of the focus in the background will prove every point made about his abilities. In Selma, Young makes a large-scale epic and story, with the help of the beautiful Ava DuVernay, feel intimate and real. He finds the flaws in some of the most prolific characters in history, including Dr. Martin Luther King, and exposes them with respect and sensitivity.
We don’t get too many craftsmen of color in high-profile pictures like this that are actually in serious contention for recognition. It’s about time, don’t you think?
With a review forthcoming for Tim Burton’s latest, it was literally jaw-dropping to realize that Big Eyes was not the catastrophe that I was expecting. In the middle of glory is the astounding work of two-time Academy Award winner Christoph Waltz alongside the delightful Amy Adams. As the sleazy husband of Margaret Keane, who took credit for years worth of paintings in the 1960’s, Waltz from first glance, seems to be playing it safe, calling back to some of his earlier work that we’ve come to expect from him. When analyzed, and watched as the story progresses, Waltz steals the movie from all his co-stars and even Burton himself.
As one of the few who were not blown away by his second Oscar-winning performance in Django Unchained, his work as Walter Keane (a work that may have some crying out for yet another case of “category fraud,” though I’m not sure I share those sentiments) is fun, joyous, and just a treat to watch. In a year that cries out for more Supporting Actor contenders, there is plethora under our noses. I think Waltz needs another cherry for his already enormous sundae.
I am thrilled that Patricia Arquette has solidified herself as the frontrunner for her towering work in Richard Linklater’s 12-year project. After a terrific career, I’m glad that someone like her is gaining that spotlight attention once again. Unfortunately, she doesn’t deserve all that on her own. While Ellar Coltrane grows up before our eyes in Boyhood, it’s disheartening that the impressive Lorelei Linklater, who plays the older, loveable Samantha has been overlooked…until now.
While Arquette’s story arc, as Mason’s mother is filled with emotion and heartbreak, Samantha journeys down her own road, creating essentially a second story that could have been titled “Girlhood.” We see Samantha go from annoying, bothersome older sister, to a meek, timid young adolescent, and then finally into what can only be described as a bitter, almost lost young woman. The end of Boyhood focuses on the endless possibilities for Mason, but Samantha’s road is just as unclear. Lorelei Linklater is the key to that success. A second spot alongside Arquette should be throughly considered. Don’t let her suffer the same fate as the Hathaway’s (Brokeback Mountain), Tucker’s (Silver Linings Playbook), and Renner’s (American Hustle).
Oh boy is Chris Pine tons of fun in Rob Marshall’s big musical adaptation. Downright committing robbery from the rest of the élite cast, Pine shows not only that he has an impressive set of pipes (proven in his duo with Billy Magnussen on “Agony”), Pine shows that he’s not all surface. There’s more to him than the A-typical action guy roles he’s taken on nearly his whole career.
As Cinderella’s Prince, Pine’s “two-dimensional” character (which he called him following the Q & A), is fully realized and understood in every frame of Marshall’s film. His realization of who he really is, is quietly profound. He lands every joke, every nuance, and every energetic beat he inserts into a scene. It’d be criminal for any critics group to overlook what Pine achieves.
Following her ten year stint on NBC’s “Friends” (only my single favorite sitcom in history), I have to admit I never cared for Jennifer Aniston in any vehicle she’s carried. I saw her potential as an actress, at least on the big screen, with her work in The Good Girl, for which she was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award. After that, it’s hard to pin point a time where the beautiful Aniston achieves such notoriety. In the small, independent flick Cake, Aniston doubles down on every part of herself, not just emotionally, but physically and psychologically. It’s her greatest work.
While the film remains vastly under the radar, including that of equally measured performer Adriana Barraza, Aniston remains a dark horse in a race seemingly “locked up” for four spots. Think back to nominees like Melissa Leo in Frozen River, who seemed far-fetched at this point, but gained the momentum needed following a SAG boost. Perhaps that’s in her future.
Have considerations of your own? Include them in the comment section!