Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Columns

February 27, 2014

Lana Bellamy: 2014 Oscars lack true competition: 2/28/14

ASHLAND — According to the Los Angeles Times, this year’s Academy Awards could be the most interesting yet, with a three-way competition for the coveted best-picture title.

The story claimed “12 Years a Slave,” “Gravity” and “American Hustle” are the top contenders, based on credentials from other award ceremonies like the Screen Actors Guild, New York Film Critics Circle and Golden Globes.

The writer, Glenn Whipp, predicts the best-picture winner will shock audiences and movie insiders, just like when “Crash” won eight years ago and had actor Jack Nicholson blurting out his surprise from the podium.

Though the aforementioned films by Whipp are quality pictures, are they really the best the industry had to offer this year?

When Oscar nominations first came out, CNN had many film analysts and entertainment experts on call for reactions and most of them were shocked at the number of snubs the academy gave to some of 2014’s best films.

Yes, the judging has a subjective component, but there are some films that rise to the top above all genres.

Personally, my pick for 2014 Best Picture was “The Butler,” starring Oprah Winfrey, Forest Whitaker and Eugene Allen (who plays the White House butler). It is ultimately a historical drama with subplots highlighting social struggles blacks overcame during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.

The first time I watched “The Butler,” my brother-in-law had bought it on a 24-hour movie channel. Since I got home from work late, I had to catch it in the middle, missing the entire first half of the movie.

I expected to just fall asleep on the couch or get bored since I assumed I wouldn’t be able to understand the plot enough to fully appreciate the story.

Boy, was I wrong.

By the end, I was crying along with the characters, lamenting the end to their beautiful story into my pillow.

I don’t often think, “Wow! This is Oscars gold,” immediately after watching a movie — especially when I was only able to watch the last 30 minutes — but I knew “The Butler” was special.

Yet, it was one of the first films snubbed by the academy this year, to the dismay of much more adequate film critics than myself.

But “The Butler” wasn’t the only one; “Inside Llewyn Davis” and “Blue Jasmine” are not in the running for best picture. Celebrated thespians Robert Redford and Emma Thompson didn’t get bids for top acting slots.

The tight competition Whipp is referring to is only competitive because of major snubs to some of the year’s best films. But he was right, the winner will shock us all.

The 86th Oscars will air at 7 p.m. Sunday on ABC. To read the LA Times story, visit http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/envelope/moviesnow/ and search Glenn Whipp’s stories.

LANA BELLAMY can be reached at (606) 326-2653.

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