Unfortunately for the 2014 Oscars, the Best Picture nominees once again reflect the sexism, racism, homophobia and classism that plagues the Academy, but they have also taken a few steps in the right direction. Here are the awards we would have given the Best Picture nominees (if anyone had asked us).
When small-time con man Irving Rosenfeld meets Sydney Prosser, an ambitious hustler who persuades him to up the stakes in his scams, they find themselves targeted by FBI agent Richie DiMaso. With the threat of prison looming, Irving and Sydney agree to cooperate with DiMaso in a far-reaching sting operation that will target prominent political figures.*
Best Portrayal of “Crazy Bitch” Trope
I feel like this movie tried so hard to have dynamic female characters, I really do. And while both Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence’s performances were amazing, their obsession with the men in the film was a little troubling. Here are two clever, confident, intelligent women, and all they care about is holding onto their cheating, criminal men.
When the freighter ship Maersk Alabama is pursued and captured by a handful of Somali pirates, Captain Richard Phillips faces off against Muse, the band’s leader, in an effort to protect the lives of his crew. In an explosively dangerous situation, Phillips must strike a careful balance between strength and compliance if he and the men he is responsible for are to survive.
Most Problematic Marketing
Some of the promotional material for this movie got dangerously close to the ol’ “savage African” trope. The link has a great discussion on what role the director has on the interpretation of their film by the audience.
When Irishwoman Philomena Lee gave birth to her son in 1952, the boy was taken from her by the Catholic home for unwed mothers to which she had been consigned, and adopted out to a family in America. Accompanied by a former BBC correspondent in search of a human interest story, Philomena travels to Washington, D.C. in an attempt to find her now-grown child.
Most Awesome Real-Life Inspiration
Philomena Lee is a pretty wonderful lady. Since Philomena’s release, she has increased her already determined efforts for adoption rights tenfold, and is an incredibly dedicated and inspiring woman.
Dallas Buyers Club
When Ron Woodroof learns he is HIV-positive, the homophobic Texan finds himself sharing an unexpected bond with gay men also battling the illness. Quickly realizing that their only chance of survival lies in making an end run around government regulations and powerful pharmaceutical companies, Ron organizes an illicit trade in a drug cocktail that shows signs of slowing the virus’s progress.
Best Misrepresentation of an already Misunderstood Minority
Seriously, could they not have cast a trans woman to play a trans woman?
12 Years a Slave
Solomon Northup, a free black man living with his wife and children in New York in 1841, is tricked by slave traders into traveling to Washington, D.C., where he is kidnapped and sold into slavery. Sent to Louisiana, he experiences the violence and degradation of life as a slave while clinging to the hope that he will someday regain his freedom.
First Best Picture to be Directed by a Black Man
As three members of the shuttle crew work outside the craft to repair the Hubble telescope, they have a catastrophic encounter with a field of space debris. Cut off from all communication with Houston ground control, novice astronaut Dr. Ryan Stone must master her terror and rely on instructions from her veteran flight companion, Matt Kowalski, if she is to survive.
Least Feminist “Feminist” Movie
Although Gravity takes leaps and bounds as far as women in main roles in Academy nominated films, Dr. Ryan Stone’s (Sandra Bullock) entire character development relies on the know-how and instructions of a man.
Wolf of Wall Street
In the heady financial world of the 1990s, stockbroker Jordan Belfort enjoys a meteoric rise as one of Wall Street’s power players. Tossing aside ethics and legality, he embraces the excesses of the era and enters into a series of scams that will have far-reaching implications throughout the financial community.
Most Misinterpreted (or, The Picture Your College Roommate Will Love for All the Wrong Reasons)
Here’s how Jezebel puts it: “But here is a fun thing that is true: depiction of bad behavior does not constitute endorsement of said bad behavior. To decry The Wolf of Wall Street for “glorifying” misogyny is, quite frankly, to miss the fucking point. Great art doesn’t always show us great people. It shouldn’t always show us great people. At its best, art makes us uncomfortable. It makes us think, that most inconvenient of activities.” Unfortunately, the vast majority did not take The Wolf of Wall Street as a critique of sexism, misogyny, institutional racism, white privilege, and ultimate condemnation of Jordan Belfort. The film’s message got lost in translation in a big, damaging way.
In a future when most of society’s problems have been resolved, the search for companionship continues. For Theodore, a recently divorced writer of other people’s love letters, the possibility of love arises from an unexpected quarter: an artificial intelligence computer operating system known as Samantha.
The love interest in this movie is literally an object. Ha ha, get it? Samantha’s sole existence as an artificially intelligent being is based off of Theodore’s life. Apparently, Theodore doesn’t want to deal with a “real” relationship when he can buy one who is literally just a reflection of himself. That being said, this take on a romantic movie is refreshing and asks the audience to answer some important questions about the boundaries of relationships, love and communication.
*film descriptions courtesy of the 2014 Oscars website.
What was your favorite movie this year?