Thursday, February 27, 2014

5 movies to watch before the Oscars

list: awards fever

The award season culminates this Sunday as the 86th Academy Awards honour the best in the business. With the ceremony just days away, now would be the perfect time to catch up on the movies that are vying for the top prizes. The list is long and offers much variety, but if you don’t have time to see them all, then here are five movies you must watch before the show commences. Ready the popcorn, fire up the DVD player, and press play...

1. 12 Years a Slave
Number of nominations: 9
A free man is kidnapped and sold into slavery in director Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave, the harrowing story of Solomon Northup, based on his 1853 memoir. Driven by a strong performance by Chiwetel Ejiofor in the lead role, 12 Years a Slave is a powerful look at a tough subject and a difficult chapter in American history that is very likely to leave a lasting impact on viewers.
The film's stark depiction of cruelty and brutality is shocking and moving, which is precisely why the movie does not make for an easy viewing. Widely predicted to be the frontrunner for the Best Picture honour, the movie has also received nominations in categories including Best Director (Steve McQueen), Best Actor (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Best Supporting Actor (Michael Fassbender), Best Supporting Actress (Lupita Nyong'o), and Best Adapted Screenplay (John Ridley), as well as nods for Production Design, Costume Design, and Film Editing.

2. Dallas Buyers Club
Number of nominations: 6
Follow Matthew McConaughey's recent trail of awards and you will be led to Dallas Buyers Club, one of the most affecting films of 2013. The movie is based on the real story of electrician Ron Woodroof, who, after being diagnosed with AIDS in the 1980s and given an estimated 30 days left to live, starts smuggling unapproved drugs for himself and his fellow sufferers who are unable to get the help they need through the medical system. A heart-wrenching tale of struggling with a terrible disease and getting stonewalled by the system, Dallas Buyers Club is powered by two of the most terrific acting performances of the year. With his remarkable physical transformation, McConaughey has a well deserved place in the Best Actor category. Equally deserving of acclaim is Jared Leto's depiction of a transgender AIDS patient, making him a worthy contender in the Best Supporting Actor category. Also a Best Picture contender, Dallas Buyers Club has additional nominations for Best Original Screenplay, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, and Best Film Editing.

3. Gravity
Number of nominations: 10
Designed to have you perched at the edge of your seat for its 90-minutes running time, this survival thriller may not focus on a heavy issue, but its ambitious technical execution has wowed critics and viewers alike. Gravity centres on two astronauts (Sandra Bullock and George Clooney) left adrift in space following an accident, trying to survive as time runs out. Tied for the most nominations with American Hustle (10 each), Gravity is up for the Best Picture award and its director Alfonso Cuarón is a contender in the Best Director category. Sandra Bullock's performance has earned her a place in the Best Actress list, and the movie is also vying for the Best Original Score, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Production Design, Cinematography, Film Editing, and Visual Effects awards.

4. American Hustle
Number of nominations: 10
Critics love David O. Russell's vibrant crime drama American Hustle, based on the ABSCAM operation that was set up in the late 1970. Flashy and over the top, the film is about two con artists (Christian Bale and Amy Adams) who are busted by an FBI agent (Bradley Cooper), then forced to be a part of a sting operation on corrupt politicians. American Hustle's cast - Christian Bale (Actor), Amy Adams (Actress), Bradley Cooper (Supporting Actor), and Jennifer Lawrence (Supporting Actress) - has been nominated in all four acting categories, a rare accomplishment for any movie. The film also has a presence in the Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Production Design, Costume Design, and Film Editing categories.

5. Frozen
Number of nominations: 2
Disney's latest princess movie is also one of its best and most successful. The Broadway-ready Frozen follows the tale of two sisters; after elder sister Queen Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel) inadvertently sets off an eternal winter on her kingdom and flees, younger sister Princess Anna (Kristen Bell) goes after her in the hopes of making things right. With its focus on sisterhood and efforts to take a few steps away from Disney clichés, Frozen has won over a wide audience, grossing more than all the Best Picture nominees (it is second only to Iron Man 3 in last year's highest earners), and generated rave reviews from critics. Nominated for the Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song (for 'Let It Go') awards, the movie is very likely to be victorious in both its categories. And even if it doesn't win, you'll still be grateful for the fun reprieve it provides after the onslaught of the heavy subject matters of most of the other Oscar contenders!

- By Sameen Amer

27th February, 2014 - Instep Today, The News on Sunday *

No comments: