Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Best Picture Winners: 2013-2017

Winner: 12 Years A Slave
Director: Steve McQueen
Distributed by: Fox Searchlight Pictures

12 Years A Slave is probably one of the most depressing, hard-to-watch movies that I have ever seen in my whole life. That being said, it's also one of the best. I'm a history nut, and this movie rocked me to my core. It's very brutal, so if you don't enjoy those kind of movies, then you probably shouldn't watch this. The Oscar race for 2013 was up and down for a while, with other movies like American Hustle, Gravity, and Dallas Buyers Club all looking like they were going to take away the grand prize. In the end, 12 Years A Slave was far too important a film to be snuffed. Gravity had the visual goods, but the story didn't carry the same weight. American Hustle had some great acting, but the story was over-stuffed and dragged. Dallas Buyers Club, in my opinion, was the only movie that had the real chance of taking the Oscar away from 12 Years A Slave. The topics in both films are taboo, and haven't been covered very often in films. Slavery is a hard subject to base a movie around and there is a lot of potential for inaccuracies. 12 Years A Slave is considered the most accurate movie on the subject, so if you really want to see into the dark depths of our history, then look no further. McQueen's wife discovered Solomon Northup's slave narrative and reccommended it to her husband when she found out he was looking for a story about a freeman sold into slavery. McQueen was surprised he hadn't heard of the book before and made it his passion to adapt it into a film. On top of winning Best Picture, it also won Best Adapted Screenplay, and a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Lupita Nyong'o. The movie was hit at the box office, earning $178 million, and was universally praised by critics. The Oscars have made a few mistakes in the past with awards. They could have gone with a safe choice, and they didn't. I applaud them for rewarding such a brave movie.

Winner: Birdman
Director: Alejandro G. Inarritu
Distributed by: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Birdman is a film about a washed up actor who had once portrayed a superhero character, Birdman, as he attempts to adapt a short story on Broadway. The choice to have Micheal Keaton, known by many in the millennial generation has having portrayed Batman, and not much else, was done on purpose. Other actors were chosen for their real life personalities or reputation, namely Ed Norton, who was chosen to play the difficult Broadway actor, because of his known reputation as being hard to work with.The film is unique due to the fact that most of the scenes are one shots, meaning that the scenes are not shot in several shots and then edited together, they are shot in one long take. This was an ambitious ordeal and required the cast to rehearse extensively. The film is also unique for the inclusion of Magical Realism, the addition of magic in the real, mundane world. The viewer is left to decide whether some of the events are actually happening, or if the main character, Riggan Thomson is imagining them. Birdman, along with all the other nominated movies for Best Picture were not box office smashes. The Grand Budapest Hotel was the highest grossing at $59 million, with all of them combining to $205 million. This is in contrast to the last three years, when at least one of the nominees grossed over $100 million. Birdman was up against some stiff competition, namely Boyhood, Selma, and the dark horse The Grand Budapest Hotel. Boyhood was probably the biggest rival, but at the end of the day, Birdman was found to be the most deserving. Boyhood was a directing masterpiece, seeing as the film was made over the span of ten years, filming Ellar Coltrane as he grew, but the Academy apparently felt that both Birdman and Inarritu deserved Oscars instead. By the end of the ceremony, Birdman had taken home awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Cinematography. Birdman has since grossed past the $100 million mark, helped by the Oscar win.