2014 Oscar Nominations: Best Picture

Without further ado, we now look at this year’s Best Picture nominations.  And I've noticed that the honored movies can be divided into two categories: Original Stories and Inspired by or Based on Real Events.

Original Stories

Gravity stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as astronauts working on a space shuttle when something goes horribly wrong, endangering their lives.  Written and directed by Alfonso Cuaron, the special effects made movie-goers gasp – but Bullock was the true star of the film, giving a performance that moved audiences.

Her is the story of loneliness and isolation, even as social networking makes the world seem more connected than ever.  Set in the near future, Joaquin Phoenix stars as Theodore Twombly, an introverted man who finds friendship and comfort with a computerized operating system named Samantha, voiced by Scarlett Johansson.  It’s a movie that leaves the viewer contemplating relationships in the digital age.

Nebraska stars Bruce Dern as Woody Grant, an elderly man determined to claim a million dollar prize that doesn’t exist, and Will Forte as David, his younger son who agrees to accompany his father on the road trip to Lincoln, Nebraska.  It’s the story of family and friendship, parents and children.  Also starring June Squibb, the movie is ultimately about facing the past and reconciliation.

Inspired by or Based on Real Events

American Hustle
is a comedy-drama inspired by the FBI’s ABSCAM sting operation in the 1970s.  Starring Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, and Jennifer Lawrence, the movie has been a hit with critics and audiences alike. 

Captain Phillips
is based on the hijacking by Somali pirates of the American merchant ship Maersk Alabama in 2009.  With Tom Hanks as Captain Richard Phillips and newcomer Barkhad Abdi as Abduwali Muse, the leader of the hijackers, the movie puts a human face on events so recently in the headlines.

Dallas Buyers Club tells the story of rodeo cowboy Ron Woodruff, a man who contracted AIDS and was determined to obtain medicines to treat the disease – even if that meant smuggling the non-FDA-approved drugs from Mexico.  As Woodruff, Matthew McConaughey wowed critics and audiences with a strong performance, as did Jared Leto in his role as Rayon, a transgender woman.

stars Judi Dench as Philomena Lee is this true-life story of a woman hoping to find her son.  As an unwed teenaged mother in 1950s Ireland, Philomena was forced to give up her child for adoption.  For years afterward, she searched for her son, finally receiving help from journalist Martin Sixsmith, played by Steve Coogan.  The unforgettable story touched the hearts of movie-goers everywhere.

12 Years a Slave is based on the memoir of Solomon Northup, a free-born Black man in 1840s New York.  A skilled carpenter and musician, Northup was abducted in 1841 by two men who then sold him into slavery in the South.  For the next twelve years, Northup worked as a slave, witnessing and suffering inhuman treatment as the hands of cruel plantation owners until 1853 when friends discovered his whereabouts and helped him regain his freedom.  Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong’o, Sarah Paulson, the film takes an absolutely unflinching look at the history of slavery in the United States.

The Wolf of Wall Street is based on the book by Jordan Belfort, detailing his career as a stockbroker in 1990s.  Belfort’s success in shady dealings and securities fraud leads to excess in all aspects of his life.  It’s a story of sex, drugs, corruption, and betrayal.  Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese team up for the fifth time, the movie also stars Jonah Hill and Margot Robbie.

What is your pick for Best Picture of 2013?  With such a wide-ranging group, it’s tough to choose just one.


Flickr:  CC          : Oscars Academy Awards          Photo by Rachel Jackson