Tag Archives: lupita nyong’o

The 437th post about the Oscars you won’t read

So there we go, it’s all done and dusted for another 12 months, and it was pretty good. It all went pretty much as expected but I don’t think there are many who can argue with most of The Academy’s choices. Here are some of my thoughts about the 86th Academy Awards…

Ellen was a decent host

Ellen DeGeneres at the Oscars

Ellen Degeneres is pretty well liked throughout the entertainment business, and I thought she did a great job of hosting. The actors like to have their ego stroked, whilst we at home like to see a bit of fun being poked, and Ellen did a fine job of balancing the two. Still not a patch on Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, though.

It was predictable, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing

Pretty much every award was reasonably easy to call, whether you thought it was the correct choice or not, and there have been the usual calls that the whole thing is too predictable. However, if we make predictions and The Academy also makes those choices, surely they’re worthy winners? Some people may have thought they got the odd award wrong, but I think most will concede they were generally on the money this year. It might be nice for them to choose a slightly leftfield choice once in a while, but predictable doesn’t mean undeserving. Maybe the huge number of other award shows dulling our appreciation of the Oscars.

The ‘heroes’ theme was rubbish

Every year the Oscars has a theme, and this year it was ‘heroes’. You didn’t notice a theme? Well that’s because it was such a token effort that it was totally pointless. All we got was a couple of montages about film heroes and that was it. Either go all out and have hosts dressed as superheroes or do away with the theme altogether.

Karen O is amazing

The songs worked well

I thought the live performances would be a bit naff but they actually worked really well. The performances were varied and really added something different to the show. I hope they do the same again next year.

Jared Leto’s, Matthew McConaughey’s and Lupita Nyong’o’s speeches were great

86th Annual Academy Awards - ShowLeto, McConaughey and Nyong’o were worthy winners for Best Supporting Actor, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress respectively, and their speeches were arguably the best of the night. Leto spoke passionately about his mother, who was there with him, whilst McConaughey spoke of what motivates him and keeps him trying to better himself. Nyong’o was absolutely over the moon with her win and that clearly showed in her heartfelt speech.

What’s gone on with Steve McQueen and John Ridley?

12 Years a Slave’s screenwriter John Ridley and its director Steve McQueen seemed to completely snub each other, neither thanking the other in their speeches. Also, when John Ridley won his Oscar, he wasn’t congratulated by a single member of the 12 Years a Slave cast or crew. McQueen was also caught on camera doing some kind of weird fake clap. What’s the deal fellas?

It’s time some of the categories were altered

It seems that a few of the award categories could do with being altered slightly. I might get shot down here but do we really need separate sound editing and sound mixing awards? Surely an achievement in sound award would suffice? I also feel that we change the name of the Best Foreign Language Film award to Best Film Not in the English Language, and that we should do away with the whole actor/actress thing, instead having male actor and female actor. Might sound a bit pointless but I’d prefer it.

A few other things jangling round my head:

  • Jennifer Lawrence was a bit of a tit, as was Jamie Foxx

  • Liza Minnelli jumping on Lupita Nyong’o was weird

  • Kim Novak’s plastic surgery is horrendous

  • U2 really are the most middle of the road band in the world

  • Why are there only 3 nominees for the hair & makeup award?

  • I can’t believe Jared Leto is 42

So those are some of my thoughts from this year’s Oscars. What did you think about the awards? Let me know below in the comments.

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Film Review: 12 Years a Slave

Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man living in America in the 1700s, is kidnapped and sold into slavery where he remains for 12 years. During his time he is tormented and tortured by slave owner Epps (Michael Fassbender) who also has an unhealthy obsession with Solomon’s fellow slave Patsey (Lupita Nyong’o).

Director Steve Mcqueen’s previous two features, Hunger and Shame, were intricate character examinations, delving into the human condition but from a very particular viewpoint.

However, with 12 Years a Slave McQueen tackles a much broader subject, that of slavery, and looks at it from a more expansive viewpoint. It’s still a character examination, and a deeply personal one at that, but this time around we’re shown a wider world and some of its more horrendous aspects.

And much of it truly is horrendous. McQueen takes an unflinching look at Northop’s story and has no qualms in presenting us with a piece of cinema that is genuinely uncomfortable and in many ways repulsive. On more than one occasion we’re shown the atrocities that Northop and his fellow slaves had to endure and we’re not spared any of the details.

McQueen has become known for his long takes and he uses them here to devastating effect. One scene in which we see Northup being hung whilst life blithely goes on around him lingers for what seems like an eternity. Similarly, when we see Patsey being sadistically whipped by Epps, every inch of your being screams for it to stop, but McQueen forces us to watch every last crippling lash. This does make for an incredibly difficult watch but is all the more powerful for it.

The performances are also hugely responsible in delivering the film’s message. Chiwetel Ejiofor is heartbreakingly genuine as Solomon as he wrestles with coming to terms with the fact he’s now a slave and may never see his family again. Another long take showing Solomon’s conflict in joining in singing ‘Roll Jordan, Roll’ with the other slaves is simply masterful. Michael Fassbender also gives yet another fine performance in his third collaboration with McQueen as the hateful slave owner Epps. In a similar way to Northup, Epps is conflicted, particularly when it comes to his feeling for Patsey and Fassbender is fantastic at showing this underlying vulnerability. Lupita Nyong’o, in her first film role, is a revelation as Patsey and seeing her subject to such abhorrent abuse is just crushing.

There are faults with the film, though, and blame must fall at the feet of McQueen and writer John Ridley. Solomon is kidnapped and sold into slavery very early on in the film which doesn’t really allow us to get a sense of his family life. His wife and children are afforded very little screentime and so we don’t really get much of a sense of Solomon as a family man and more importantly a free man. Also, there’s very little to indicate the passage of time throughout the film. Solomon was a slave for 12 years, but in the film it could just as easily have been 12 days. This doesn’t really help us get a sense of how long he was in slavery for and consequently lessens the impact when he finally regains his freedom.

It’s difficult to say 12 Years a Slave is a film one can enjoy. There’s plenty to admire and respect but it’s hard to glean much enjoyment from it. However, it’s an undeniably powerful piece of cinema and further proof that Steve McQueen is one of the most evocative directors working today.

Pros

  • Outstanding performances from Ejiofor, Fassbender and Nyong’o
  • Beautifully shot
  • Immensely powerful and heartwrenching

Cons

  • Not enough time spent with Solomon and his family in the outset
  • Little to indicate the passage of time, lessening the impact of just how long Solomon was away.

4 pigeons

4/5 pigeons

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