Scattered Frames: The Contenders – Part III

 

ScatteredFrames

 

Hi everybody! Oscar week is here and I’m still trying to catch up with all the nominees in the major categories.

Seeing as I still haven’t watched Selma, American Sniper and The Judge, unless they add a few hours to the following days, I won’t be able to reach my goal.

Oh well, here are four short reviews about films I did manage to check out.

 
Foxcatcher Steve Carell

Foxcatcher: This film could’ve used quite a bit of trimming and maybe a cup of coffee or something because it is almost excruciatingly boring. Steve Carell and his fake nose are very good in a flashy role, while a very understated (and underused) Mark Ruffalo is also outstanding in the quieter one, but oh man, it’s like watching paint dry. By the time the thrilling finale arrives, it’s –of course– too little, too late. 2.5/5

 

CREDIT: Matt Lankes for IFC Films

Boyhood: Sure, it’s cool that they shot this over the course of 12 years but it’s disheartening to see that that was pretty much the only thing Boyhood had to offer. Like The Artist a few years ago, here’s a film that has garnered a shitload of awards based on a gimmick. This boring account of an unlikeable guy’s uneventful infancy and adolescence made me yearn for the Richard Linklater of the Before trilogy and made me question the point of living someone else’s awkward growth on screen when I already went through my own. Lost count of all the times I rolled my eyes at these assholes (except for Mason Sr., the only character I cared for and another fine performance by Ethan Hawke). The overrated (this year, at least) Patricia Arquette is okay at best, but doesn’t measure up to the film’s more intense moments. It will be very sad when this beats the energetic and memorable Whiplash and Birdman to the ‘Best Picture’ Oscar. 2/5

 

THE IMITATION GAME

The Imitation Game: Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley are superb in another one of this year’s nominees to deal with obsession, only this time it’s of a less selfish kind and more of the saving-lots-of-people kind. This fascinating film based on Alan Turing and co. also features a great score and, while it doesn’t pay enough attention to a subplot regarding Turing’s punishment for the heinous crime of being gay, and is also a bit anticlimactic, it still packs quite the punch. 3.5/5

 

reese-witherspoon-in-wild-movie-2

Wild: Despite it not being the most vibrant piece of filmmaking, I couldn’t find much fault within the oft-maligned Wild. Solid writing by Nick Hornby (adapting Cheryl Strayed’s memoir) and directing by Jean-Marc Vallée (last year’s underwhelming Dallas Buyers Club), paired with great performances by Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern make this a surprise honorable mention in my (imaginary) list of favorite movies of 2014. 3.5/5

 

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