Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Wheel Award for Excellence in Motion Pictures

Oscar night is six months gone. "12 Years a Slave" was the Academy's pick for "Best Picture." I couldn't say at the time that it was my pick for "best" movie of 2013 because I hadn't seen all of the nominees. In fact, I hadn't yet seen "12 Years a Slave" when it received the golden statue in March. Well, now that it's September, I can finally say I've seen all of the Oscar nominees for "Best Picture" of 2013 and I can pick a winner. Call this the Netflix Oscar.

After the jump, my own pick for "Best Picture".

Here, in order, is my ranking of the nominees for best picture of 2013. My ranking is based on the grades I gave the movies immediately after viewing them. In case of ties, I ordered them by my considered judgment today.

The envelope please. And the winner of the Wheel Award for Excellence in Motion Pictures goes to...
  • American Hustle: The big con. Plot twists. Unforgettable characters. 1970s clothes and music. Pushes without going over the top. A+

Congratulations to the runners-up.
  • Gravity: Stunning 3D images. Nonstop tension. Sandra Bullock is up to it. Forgivable liberties with science. "A hell of a ride." A-
  • Nebraska: Aging, confused father travels with hapless son to Nebraska to claim $1 million prize. Poignant. Small town black humor. A-
  • 12 Years a Slave: Important history. Soul-deadening drama. Nothing redeeming about slavery, America's original sin, still with us. B+
  • Captain Phillips: Suspense relentlessly builds towards climax. Liberties? So what? Tom Hanks deserves Oscar nom with Barkhad Abdi. B+
  • Dallas Buyers Club: Cad turned hero in struggle against 1980s AIDS epidemic. One-sided movie. Dubious history. Powerful acting. B-
  • August: Osage County: Dysfunctional family is an understatement. Like a Godzilla movie, but a family gets shattered, not a city. B-
  • The Wolf of Wall Street: Over the top depiction of excess. Too campy to be serious. Not campy enough to be funny. Bad Scorsese. D+
  • Her: Divorced loser dates his computer OS. Sad...and not in a good way. The gimmick is only thing going here. Disappointed. D+