UR OSCARS: Top Movie Picks Continues
Written By Josh Di Rocco
7. 12 Years a Slave
Steve McQueen is a director who regularly chooses to tackle complex and often very dark subject matter in many of his films. None of which are as emotionally daunting to watch as 12 Years a Slave. This is an extremely powerful movie that is fearlessly crafted and acted. It warrants essential viewing as it serves as a reminder of what was, and should never be again. Through the courageous performance of its lead actor, Chiwetel Ejiofor, you are enabled to feel the character’s pain and endure his struggle. The entire ensemble cast all shine brightly as well. Fassbender is daring and his performance is in top form; an Oscar nomination well deserved. Yet the true stand out here is newcomer Lupita Nyong’o. Her portrayal as Patsey is near perfection and utterly heartbreaking. This tiny actress performs with such splendor and sincerity; you almost can’t bear to watch her endure the struggles she encounters as it feels as though it were actually happening to the actress herself. She is able to convey so much pain and desperation in her eyes alone. It would be difficult to not see this walk away as a Best Picture winner. 12 Years a Slave is socially relevant and tackles a dark point in American history with a level of ferocity like no other.
What I truly love and admire about Alexander Payne is that he has a masterful way of delivering comedy within despair. He allows the viewer to experience light in the darkest of human tragedies and Nebraska is no different. Endearing, hilarious, and tragic; this brilliantly directed and well written film is a triumph! Both Bruce Dern and June Squibb deliver exceptional comedic, and truly tender, performances.
What could have resulted in yet another standard thriller, is elevated to a brilliant and terrifying ride by its director Denis Villeneuve. This David Fincher-esque story is an intense and dramatic film that will have you gasping many times over. It explores the boundaries of ethics and it encourages the viewers to engage in its exploration. In doing so, it allows you to see the potential dangers of acting on our own views of justice. The many twists keep the plot fresh and Hugh Jackman delivers a career highlight performance. I really would have loved to see more recognition for this film and for Jackman especially. In the absence of Oscar nominations for either, I will keep singing Prisoners’ praises well into 2014.
Josh Di Rocco regularly reviews and comments on the world of cinema from his perspective from the fourth wall (The “Fourth Wall” is a stage term that defines the space that separates a performer or performance from an audience). He is currently an active member of the arts scene in Toronto, Ontario. He regularly attends the Toronto International Film Festival and spends much of his spare time at the TIFF Bell Lightbox viewing new releases and admiring the classics. His other passions include travel, style, music, and the theatre. Follow Josh on both Instagram (@fourthwalljosh) and Twitter (@fourthwalljosh) for regular updates on the Hollywood scene, film reviews, award season, and commentary on everything cinema.