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The Oscars: A 2013 Movie Recap

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12 years a slave

1. 12 Years a Slave (Best Picture)

The film 12 Years a Slave, directed by Steve McQueen and written by John Ridley, tells the tale of Solomon Northup, the black New York citizen in the pre-Civil War United States who was kidnapped, sold into slavery and then forced to work on a plantation in New Orleans. Lupita Nyong'o (Best Actress in a Supporting Role) plays the part of another slave. Based in part on Northup's memoir, the film powerfully portrays Northrup's struggle to survive his ordeal and return to his family.


Dallas Buyers Club

2. Dallas Buyers Club

In Dallas Buyers Club, directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, Matthew McConaughey (Best Actor in a Leading Role) stars as Ron Woodroof, a man whose life takes a sudden bad turn when he is given 30 days to live after being diagnosed with HIV. Jared Leto (Best Actor in a Supporting Role) plays the role of a trans-gender HIV victim. Ron, now shunned by society and lacking any effective medicine or treatment, decides to take matters into his own hands. He uses both legal and illegal methods and joins forces with a band of other outcasts, who he once would have rejected, to track down alternative forms of treatment.


Blue Jasmine

3. Blue Jasmine

In Blue Jasmine, directed by Woody Allen, Cate Blanchett (Best Actress in a Leading Role) stars as a formerly wealthy woman struggling through a major mid life crisis. After her marriage to a wealthy but fraudulent businessman collapses, Jasmine is forced to move into her sister's modest apartment in San Francisco to try to restart her life. Blanchett does an amazing job of bringing Jasmine's psychoses and arrogance to life.



4. Gravity (Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Visual Effects)

In Gravity, a visual marvel directed by Alfonso Cuaron, Sandra Bullock and George Clooney star, respectively, as Dr. Ryan Stone, an engineer on her very first shuttle mission, and as veteran astronaut Matt Kowalsky. On a routine mission to repair the Hubble Telescope, disaster strikes when the team is hit by a cloud of satellite debris. The shuttle is destroyed and the other astronauts are killed, leaving Stone and Kowalsky alone. The silence from Houston tells them they have lost their link to Earth; their fate and any hope for survival now lie in their hands.



5. Frozen (Best Animated Feature)

Frozen, directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, is an animated fantasy/comedy film. Loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale The Snow Queen, this Walt Disney film tells the tale of a princess who sets off to find her estranged sister, who has inadvertently trapped the kingdom in an eternal winter, with the help of a rugged mountain man, his pet reindeer, and a hapless snowman.


The Great Gatsby

6. The Great Gatsby (Best Costume Design)

The Great Gatsby, directed by Baz Luhrmann, follows the narrative of Nick Carraway, played by Tobey Maguire. Nick recounts that he lived in New York City in the spring of 1922, an era of prohibition, loosening morals, bootleggers, and a booming stock market. Nick's house is next door to that of the mysterious new money millionaire Jay Gatsby, played by Leonardo DiCaprio. Across the bay lives Nick's cousin, Daisy, played by Carey Mulligan, with whom Gatsby is madly in love, and her blue-blood husband, Tom Buchanan, played by Joel Edgerton. The story unfolds rapidly as Gatsby attempts to take Daisy away from her husband and thereby recapture the past.



7. Her (Best Original Screenplay)

In the comedy Her, directed by Spike Jonze, a withdrawn writer, played by Joaquin Phoenix, falls in love with his computer's advanced operating system, which promises to be an intuitive entity individual to each user. 


20 feet from stardom

8. 20 Feet from Stardom (Best Documentary Feature)

In 20 Feet from Stardom, director Morgan Neville brings to life the true stories of the backup singers behind the legendary musical productions of the 21st century. The film is both a tribute to these unsung voices as well as a gripping reflection on the rewards and pit falls of a career spent singing with others.


The Lady in Number 6

9. The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life (Best Documentary Short)

In The Lady in Number 6, directed by Malcolm Clarke, the world’s oldest pianist and holocaust survivor, 109 year-old Alice Herz Sommer, shares her views on how to live a long and happy life. She discusses music, laughter and how to remain optimistic in a uniquely uplifting way, with the entire experience brought to life by beautiful photographs and rare film footage.


The Great Beauty

10. The Great Beauty (Best Foreign Language Film)

In The Great Beauty, directed by Paolo Sorrentino, Jep Gambardella, a journalist who has charmed his way through Rome's nightlife for decades, receives a shock from the past on his sixty-fifth birthday. Since the legendary success of his single novel published many years prior, Jep has been a permanent fixture in the city's cultural circles. He now finds himself having to reflect on his life and looking past his lifestyle to find the true glory of Rome.


Mr Hublot

11. Mr Hublot (Best Animated Short Film)

In Mr Hublot, a French-Luxembourgish animated short film directed by Laurent Witz and Alexandre Espigares with characters created by Stephane Halleux, the protagonist lives in a retro-futuristic world where people are made of mechanical parts. The arrival of  Robo Pet, a robot dog, soon transforms Mr Hublot's life.



12. Helium (Best Live Action Short Film)

Helium, a short film by Danish film maker Anders Walter, tells the story of a terminally ill boy bored with the idea of heaven until a hospital janitor creates an alternative, blimp filled version of the afterlife that stimulates his imagination.


Notable non-winners:

wolf of wall street

1. The Wolf of Wall Street

In The Wolf of Wall Street, directed by Martin Scorsese, the true story of 1980s New York stockbroker Jordan Belfort, played by Leonardo diCaprio, unfolds in extravagant fashion. After founding the fraudulent brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont in his early twenties, Belfort's life turns from a pursuit of the American Dream to excess wealth and greed.


American Hustle

2. American Hustle

In American Hustle, directed by David O. Russell, the focused is placed on a captivating fictional scandal. A con man, Irving Rosenfeld, played by Christian Bale, and his seductive partner Sydney Prosser, played by Amy Adams, are forced to work for FBI agent Richie DiMaso, played by Bradley Cooper, following an unsuccessful con. DiMaso pushes them unwillingly into Jersey's dangerous underworld, a world from which they must escape. Jennifer Lawrence's excellent performance as Rosenfeld's crazy wife is worth noting.


Captain Phillips

3. Captain Phillips

In Captain Phillips, directed by Paul Greengrass, the true story of the 2009 hijacking of the container ship Maersk Alabama by a group of Somali pirates is explored in all its facets. The film manages to seamlessly integrate the thriller genre with a complex look at globalization's effects.



Mar 10, 2014 7:16pm
Thanks for an overview of some worthwhile movies (I'm especially interested in seeing The Lady in Number 6).
Mar 10, 2014 8:46pm
Glad you enjoyed it
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