As most of you should know, at the moment in the most general sense, we as a species are not headed in a good direction. Somewhere along the path, we lost our way. Our priorities and morals are misshapen and failing, the technological and political advances we make are cancelled out by our abuse of our planet and each other, and we’re struggling to co-exist, to keep our progression afloat. All in all, our future does not look bright. That being said, the ship is being righted somewhat, you know…we are getting there, even if it is just one maladjusted step at a time. We’re beginning to consider the consequences and outcomes of our actions and creations just as heavily and frequently as we marvel at them. And it looks as if our continued existence, harmony, and evolution is significantly greater in importance, well…at least mow more than it has ever been.
Sadly however, despite this new growth and consciousness of how important our cohesiveness is, we continue to conjure up new ways of interacting with one another…quicker, inhuman, artificial ways. Devices, methods, and intelligence that instead of drawing us together, instead of doing what we intended them to do, is distancing us, alienating communication, both physical and verbal. It’s becoming a bit excessive and ridiculous, at least to me anyway. I get that with these tools we are also bringing the world together, but, I mean, at what cost? And where do we draw the line? We’re losing what makes our very presence in this universe so extraordinary. It feels as if these easier ways of connecting are hampering our intellectual ascension, creating an inability to converse face-to-face, and leaving us unable to read one another. “I fear the day technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.”
That’s an Albert Einstein quote, by the way, just thought I’d let you know so I don’t get tagged with plagiarism, but I digress. The quote, along with the personal rant before it was ignited by Spike Jonze’s transcendent film “Her.” I feel it’s important to convey what exactly a film evokes in me and the end result is often something like the rant above. Just so you know, “Her” centres around Theodore (Phoenix), a lonely, romantic writer who winds up falling in love with his new operating system (Johansson). I figured I’d let you in on the plot so you could know the reason behind my rambling. So, now that you understand where my blurb stems from, I bet it makes a lot more sense. To be honest though, there’s a hell of a lot more to this film than just singling out our mistakes and how we are going to pay dearly for them. So enough of my blabbering on, let’s get into the film.
Unlike any love story you’ve ever experienced. “Her,” written and directed by the aforementioned Spike Jonze, is a bizarre concoction of comedy, science-fiction, and of course, romance. Its premise is a bit obscure and might take a little time to settle in. However once it does, the confusion and hilarity of what you are actually watching will will wear off and the film’s immersive, heartbreaking, foreshadowing nature will haunt you, make you ache. The script is genuine, disheartening, and completely captures the lyricism and poetic inconsistencies of the language we use everyday. It’s extremely difficult to recreate such instinctive, calculated emotions and dialogue, but Jonze does a superlative job in doing so. The soundtrack for this lovely film, which I am currently listening to, was composed by none other than Arcade Fire, amongst others. It’s one that’ll stick with you and you’ll be listening to it consistently long after the film is over.
Jonze, whom you might know as the director of such masterpieces as “Adaptation” and “Being John Malkovich,” brings exactly what you’d expect to the table. His form is as impeccable as ever. The camerawork is really an achievement all its own. Shifting from the close, emotionally strong, driven performances to endless skylines and scenery. He displays this ambient, smart, poignant, vulgar, atmospheric, sexy, unflinching yarn flawlessly. The story moves swiftly and effortlessly. Transitioning from a simple tale of a lonely writer into an intricate, veritable look at our expanding knowledge and existence. Jonze does this while eventually, occasionally simultaneously, providing the reason why this growth will be our downfall…unless we come to terms with the truth. That being, no matter how we break our bounds and overcome obstacles, our structure, our very make-up will always bring us back to one another.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have one of the strongest ensembles 2013 has to offer keeping your footing. “Her” features Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson in the lead roles with Amy Adams, Olivia Wilde, Rooney Mara, and Chris Pratt running support. We all know that Adams has the chops, so her magnificence shouldn’t be that big of a surprise. Nevertheless, somehow, she still manages to bewilder and her performance here is nothing short of perfection. Wilde, who I feel finally won her critics over with one of my favourites this year, “Drinking Buddies” continues to move forward with another strong effort. Pratt plays the quirky, visceral, long-time friend infallibly, something he’s done for a long time. As for Mara, who still remains on the periphery of the mainstream for some odd reason, gives another powerful effort here. She’s that odd, house-hold name that everyone seems to push to the back burner.
Phoenix and Johansson, our star-crossed lovers, search endlessly for a way to make their unconventional romance work despite all the restrictions. And I must say, they look…and sound I should say, quite striking doing so. It’s utterly remarkable how the two play off one another. Johansson might not be able to garner an Oscar nomination due to some idiotic stipulation, but in my books, she’s got the award wrapped up. As for Phoenix, there’s no doubt in my mind he’ll grab a nod himself, possibly take it home all together. I know it’s simple fiction, a movie, but the chemistry, the sparks these two create is something of such authenticity, it has to be seen to be believed.
Spike Jonze’s “Her” is beautiful, smart, disconcerting, and depressingly emotional. “Her” will be fighting for nominations this award season, there’s no doubt, the only question is, how many will it win?
Her: 9.5 out of 10.
As far as being acknowledged for a piece of work goes, an Oscar nomination is easily one of the most difficult to earn. That being said, year after year, there are front runners. The same, familiar faces we, as cinephiles, have come to expect great things from. And every year, as sure as the seasons change, one of these remarkable actors is fortunate enough to capture the gold statue. The talented men below, are not one of these lucky individuals. For whatever reason, the 10 men listed below can’t seem to close the deal. Granted, it isn’t for a lack of effort or quality, neither is it due to some misguided bias. It just so happens that every performance they’ve given that has eventually earned them this elusive recognition, has been trumped by another individual. Now, we may not unanimously agree on the winner yearly, but one thing we can all agree on, is the men listed below, should have some Oscar gold on their shelves.
The way I concluded on how to compile this top 10 is simple. Each actor mentioned in the top 10 has a performance I feel should have earned them an Oscar win. A lot of the men listed have been nominated, some more than once. Nonetheless, have yet to take home the hardware. As for the “still time” and “honourable mentions,” they might not have been nominated previously, but I still feel will win an Oscar in my lifetime.
Ryan Gosling, Michael Fassbender, Cillian Murphy, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hardy, Michael Shannon.
Johnny Depp, John Travolta, Viggo Mortensen, Vincent Cassel, Harrison Ford, Jim Carrey, Ian McKellan, Joaquin Phoenix, Patrick Stewart.
Now, without further ado, let’s get into it!
10: Ed Harris – The Truman Show
A four-time Oscar nominee, Ed Harris just can’t seem to get the respect he deserves or be able to catch a break.
9: Edward Norton – American History X
“Fight Club,” “Moonrise Kingdom,” and “American History X,” Edward Norton has no shortage of great performances under his belt. Now, if he could just get that elusive win, we could all cross him off of our lists.
8: Bill Murray – Lost in Translation
His best chance to win the golden statue may have already passed with the release of “Lost in Translation.” But who knows, maybe he can surprise us once more and finally grab a victory.
7: Tom Cruise – Jerry McGuire
All Cruise craziness aside, he has stared in numerous films that should have garnered him at least one Oscar win, if not more.
6: Sam Rockwell – Moon
Many of you may not agree with this choice. Nonetheless, I feel Sam Rockwell has given the performance of our lifetime in “Moon” and should have been at least recognized for it, in my opinion, he should have been given the Oscar hands down.
5: Samuel L. Jackson – Pulp Fiction
Really? How did Jackson not win an Oscar for his performance in “Pulp Fiction?”
4: Liam Neeson – Schindler’s List
Another no-brainer. Liam Neeson is an outstanding actor, yet has not earned an Oscar.
3: Gary Oldman – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
One of the most illustrious actors on this list, Mr. Oldman has only been nominated once. While it should have been more, his performance in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” should have gotten him the win.
2: Brad Pitt – 12 Monkeys
Now we are getting into ridiculousness. Take your pick, Pitt should have multiple Oscar wins, but has yet to receive his first, utterly insane.
1: Leonardo DiCaprio – The Aviator
Arguably one of the best actors to ever grace the big screen. Leonardo DiCaprio has yet to win an Oscar. WIth a plethora of performances that should have gotten him at least one win. We, as cinephiles can only hope he will be recognized for his work sometime in the near future.
Alright, that’ll do it for this week’s top 10, I sincerely hope you all enjoyed it. As always, if you feel I overlooked an actor or listed one that should have excluded from this list, please leave all comments and questions below. Everyone have an outstanding weekend!