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Academy Award nominated movies for 2014 still too violent, often unimaginative

Movies continue to be extremely popular and have so much power. It’s disappointing, again, that so much violence is offered, especially in children’s movies.

Here are my selections and comments on last year’s movies:

Best picture – “The Theory of Everything” and “The Imitation Game”

I was leaning toward “The Theory of Everything,” about Stephen Hawking’s personal life, until I saw “The Imitation Game,” a story about a homosexual mathematician who developed a machine, an early computer, to crack a German code machine during World War II. So, I’ll pick both.

The buzz is about “Boyhood,” a coming of age story filmed for a week over 12 years so the characters actually grow older. I thought it started slowly and then it ended, ended, and ended. Spoiler alert. The ending was the “boy” going to college after he broke up with his girlfriend, meeting his roommate, and getting a drug from the girlfriend’s friend as they go on a hike in a beautiful setting. Inspiring to the youth of America? I might have liked the movie better if it had been about a girl growing up. It was just another coming of age movie geared to young males.

“Selma” is a terrific movie. However, controversy about its historical accuracy, the portrayal of the role of Pres. Lyndon Johnson, dampened my enthusiasm for it. There is so much distrust and hate of government, due to Fox news and shock jocks such as Rush Limbaugh, that an important movie isn’t needed to add to the hate. Many have weighed in on the controversy. I believe Bill Moyers’ analysis of the movie. He worked in the White House at the time.

Performance by an actor in a leading role – Benedict Cumberbatch in “The Imitation Game”

Cumberbatch's performance is superb.

“American Sniper” was too violent, even thought it’s about a war.

I didn’t like “Birdman (Or ‘The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) ” at all. It caused me anxiety from the first scene. And, I didn’t like his daughter hooking up with an older man. I was glad when it was over. But, how did it end? Spoiler alert. Did he fall to his death when he jumped out the window? Or, did he fly through the air like the birdman he played in the movies did in other scenes?

Performance by an actor in a supporting role – Robert Duvall in “The Judge”

Although the premise of the “The Judge” was one that is seen in many movies and books, the main character is flawed and improves, the mystery surrounding why the judge hit the man on the bicycle was interesting.

Performance by an actress in a leading role – Julianne Moore in “Still Alice”

It’s a fantastic movie about Alzheimer’s disease, a growing medical issue for older adults, their families, and society. “Still Alice” shows how powerful movies can be, to tell a story about something really important.

“Gone Girl,” for which Rosamond Pike received a nomination,” is a terrible movie. The mentally deranged character that Pike portrays draws her husband into her web. Spoiler alter, it doesn’t have a happy ending.

Performance by an actress in a supporting role – Keira Knightly in “The Imitation Game”

Meryl Strep was nominated for “Into the Woods,” a terribly violent movie that combined one fairy tale after the other in new scary way to “entertain.”

Best adapted screenplay – “The Theory of Everything”

Best original screenplay – “Boyhood”

The also nominated “Nightcrawler,” about an unethical videographer, who worked as a stringer, was a terrible movie, just another way go get even more violent images on the screen. As a journalist, it was appalling to see journalistic ethics violated again and again.

“The Grand Budapest Hotel” was one of the better nominated movies, about a once grand hotel in the fictional Republic of Zubrowka, a European alpine state ravaged by war and poverty. However, it had a few horrific moments of violence and a sad ending.

Achievement in directing – “Boyhood”

Achievement in Cinematography – “Ida”

“Ida” is a well-done story about a young woman who is about to become a nun after World War II who discovers that she’s Jewish. In black-and-white, the cinematography is unusual and dramatic.

Best documentary feature – “Finding Vivian Maier”

As a photographer, I appreciated “Finding Vivian Maier,” a story about a nanny who took extraordinary photos, but never printed most of them or displayed them.

“Last Days of Vietnam” also was an excellent documentary. I didn’t see the other three nominees.

Achievement in film editing – “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Best foreign language film – “Ida”

Achievement in makeup and hairstyling – “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (original score) – “The Theory of Everything”

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (original song) – “Lost Stars” in “Begin Again”

"Begin Again" is a well-done story about a singer who gets a second change at making it big in the music industry.

Achievement in production design – “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Achievement in visual effect – None

I only saw two of the five nominated movies in this category, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” and “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Both are very violent movies that I wouldn’t recommend.

Best nominated short films – “A Single Life”

Most of these shorts weren’t violent, although some of them were difficult to follow.

Best life action short film – “The Phone Call”

All of these short films were nonviolent and pretty good. “The Phone Call” is about a woman who takes a phone call at a crisis center. “Parvaneh,” about an Afghani teen in Germany who wants to wire money to her parents, is probably the most intricate in terms of story. “Aya,” about an Israeli women who takes a sign from someone else at the airport to pick up a musician who was supposed to go with someone else, was well down but too drawn out at times.

Best animated feature film – None

I only saw “The Boxtrolls” and “How to Train Your Dragon 2.” Both were very excessively violent movies.

It’s wrong that movies aimed at children are so violent. I think these violent images contribute to the increasing violence that is occurring in America.

Achievement in Costume Design – “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Also nominated in this category, “Inherent Vices” is just an awful movie. It’s about a private eye in the 1960s drug era, who tries to help his ex-girlfriend save her current billionaire land developer boyfriend from a kidnapping plot. It includes sadistic, rough sex.

All in all, I hope Hollywood can do a better job next year. However, I’m not hopeful. I write about the Academy Award nominated movies year after year and they’re mostly the same – violence and sex sells.

Copyright 2015, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist


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Tom Sightings

I haven't seen many of these -- they just didn't seem compelling enough to get me out to the movie theater. (I did see Gone Girl, b/c I'd read the book and liked it; I was a little disappointed in the movie, but I liked it better than you; in other words, better than "terrible.") Anyway, after all is said and done, there's just one movie I feel I gotta go see: The Theory of Everything.


Yes, I'd recommend "The Theory of Everything." It was a surprising movie. I didn't know anything about Stephen Hawking's personal life. I thought the movie was well done.


P.S. I liked your article where you said B. doesn't like violent movies. I'm not the only one.

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