Now that the dust has settled from the recent Oscar award decisions for films released in 2014 (details on the winners, along with my somewhat-correct predictions available if you’re still interested in looking them over) I’ve finally had a chance to see some of the now-somewhat-passé (but still worth seeing) contenders (including a couple of winners), along with some new releases so check this out and see if you want to know more from my detailed review of these many possibilities which are still available for you in various venues of theatrical release or on-demand/streaming options. Where Oscar-nominated Foreign Language Features are concerned, I highly recommend Leviathan, a cruel but likely-accurate exploration of rampant corruption in present-day Russia, even out in the provinces. Another exceptional nominee is Timbuktu, the first Oscar contender from West Africa’s Mauritania, dealing with the takeover by Islamic fundamentalists in neighboring Mali of the ancient city of the title, showing both the difficult impositions on the lives of the locals and the inherent hypocrisy of some of these “purifiers” who’ve made it their mission to dictate a complete cultural overhaul.
While that still leaves me short of seeing a couple of the Oscar contenders from the Foreign Language group, I did get a chance to watch all of the Animated and Documentary Shorts so I’ve briefly noted what all 10 of them are about—including the respective winners, Feast (a Disney story about a dog who helps bring and keep a family together) and HBO’s Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 (a sobering look at a day in the life of responders making their best long-distance attempts to help prevent PTSD suicides).
Of the new releases, the best of that bunch is also a documentary, She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry, about the formative years (1966-1971) of the modern Feminist movement (and related/aligned actions by those who felt the mainstream group was too White, straight, and/or well-off) with lots of footage from the time interspersed with interviews that give needed historical credit to the many leaders of this multi-pronged social upheaval. In the fictional realm, the most successful of the lot is McFarland, USA which shifts from doc to docudrama, the actual-but-rearranged story of an Anglo coach (ironically named White) who helps some gifted but assumed-marginal California Central Valley Latino athletes become a celebrated cross-country team back in 1987 and beyond. With Kingsman: The Secret Service you may feel like you’re back in time as well in the heyday of James Bond as this new secret agent tale consciously evokes that classic series while upping its ante on violence and villain megalomania. Finally, there’s Fifty Shades of Grey (on the opposite end of the content spectrum from She’s Beautiful …—unless your vision of liberation is to become the contractual submissive to a hot young billionaire) which I doubt I have to say much about as it continues to rake in money as if it were being whipped willingly into the box-office cashbox.
Comments on any of this are welcome, either here, at my blog review site, in the LinkedIn Movie Addicts and World Cinema Critics discussions, or sent directly to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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