Thursday, 5 February 2015

The 2015 Best Picture Nominees are all about Men Finding their Place

I love the Oscars, try to watch them every year and feel like there is always a little vibe shared within the nominations or at least most of them. I'm not gonna go as far as say there's a shared topic among them, but if you look at them from a certain angle, the group of films nominated for Best Picture, tend to have some connecting idea.

For example, the nominees for the 84th (2012) Awards: The Artist (winner) / The Descendants / Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close / The Help / Hugo / Midnight in Paris / The Tree of Life / War Horse. So, what would this group of film may have in common? Nostalgia.
For the old days of cinema (The Artist, Hugo), for better days in the past (The Descendants, Midnight in Paris), for a beloved family member now gone (The Tree of Life, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close), or maybe just a romanticized look to a slice of the 20th Century (War Horse, The Help, Moneyball).
So, as Gil (Owen Wilson's character in Midnight in Paris) said *Spoiler Alert* "Adriana, if you stay here though, and this becomes your present then pretty soon you'll start imagining another time was (...) really the golden time. Yeah, that's what the present is. It's a little unsatisfying because life's a little unsatisfying".

The following year, the 85th (2013) Awards had this nominees: Argo (The Winner) / Amour / Beasts of the Southern Wild / Django Unchained / Les Miserables / Life of Pi / Lincoln / Silver Linings Playbook / Zero Dark Thirty. Again, remember that such a different group of things can only share a very wide concept as constant theme, so I will go and say Isolation.
Whether it was as obvious as with the guy on the middle of the ocean (Life of Pi) or with classic old kidnapping (Argo), or as subtle as people struggling with mental health (Amour, Silver Linings Playbook) or poverty (Les Miserables, Beasts of the Southern Wild); as painful as the loneliness of fighting for freedom during times of slavery (Django Unchained and Lincoln), or as alienating as obsessing over finding one of the most remotely hidden and wanted criminals (Zero Dark Thirty).

Then we have the 86th (2014) Awards nominees for Best Picture: 12 Years a Slave (The Winner) / American Hustle / Captain Phillips / Dallas Buyers Club / Gravity / Her / Nebraska / Philomena / The Wolf of Wall Street. An this time was all about Denial.
The good type of it, like when people refuse be OK with injustice (12  Years a Slave) or decide to keep living after a terrifying diagnosis (Dallas Buyers Club), or they just won't accept "NO" for an answer when searching for truth (Philomena); to the type that you use to spare some one's feelings, maybe an old relative (Nebraska) or your own (Her, Gravity); or the one where you pretend to be someone you are not, someone richer, particularly, in hopes to become your lie (American Hustle, The Wolf of Wall Street); or finally, the lie that you tell yourself to justify doing the wrong thing (Captain Phillips).

And now we got to the 87th Awards. So far it was a bit difficult to find a common point between some pictures, but this year they made it really easy. So, you have: American Sniper / Birdman / Boyhood / The Grand Budapest Hotel / The Imitation Game / Selma / The Theory of Everything / Whiplash. There's no winner yet, but I find that they share the idea of Men finding their place.
Maybe is a rodeo cowboy becoming a reluctant war legend and then trying to readjust to civilian life (American Sniper), a has-been star trying to reinvent himself through theater (Birdman), a kid becoming an adult (Boyhood), a young refugee following the steps of his role model (The Grand Budapest Hotel), a scientist struggling to keep working (The Theory of Everything, The Imitation Game), an activist with a famous dream (Selma) or  a musician's search for validation and respect (Whiplash).

I don't who is going to win, but my favorite is The Grand Budapest Hotel, by far. And now that I think about it, that movie mixes the four topics I've been talking about: Nostalgia (for the Hotel's glory days), Isolation (that feeling that you were born in the wrong time and that your personality and values belong to the past), Denial (you just have to keep the illusion, for as long as you can) and Men finding their place (already commented before).

Am I splitting hairs here? Probably. But I feel like the Best Picture nominees of a year are, in a certain way, a reflex of their moment, and maybe there is something that connect those movies to each other, maybe there is a vibe

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