12 Years a Slave

March 2, 2014

Simplistic Reviews Picks (on) The Oscars!

It’s that time of year again.   The time of year where overprivileged stars get together, shake hands, say how much they appreciate each other, attend the Vanity Fair after-party, get smashed, and yeah…win awards.

Our job here at Simplistic Reviews, besides being jealous of these actors, is to decide who will win, and who will lose.  It’s Oscar time ladies and germs!

The 86th Annual Academy Awards are this Sunday, March 2nd, and to commemorate this special occasion DJ, Justin, Neal, who has been dubbed “The Voice of the People”, and Matt are picking the winners.

To make things easier, we are color coding their picks.  In the event of the same picks multiple colors will be added per winner.  Throughout the night, this post will be updated with the winners along with a running total of who has the most correct picks.  The boys will also be live tweeting the awards in an effort to mock every horrible outfit and every clunky acceptance speech.  Follow @srblogspot@chezitman and @tryingtobedjv for all types of hilarity.

Justin is RED
Neal is BLUE
DJ is GREEN
Matt is ORANGE 


Best Picture

  • American Hustle
  • Captain Phillips
  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • Gravity
  • Her
  • Nebraska
  • Philomena
  • 12 Years a SlaveWINNER
  • The Wolf of Wall Street 

Best Actor in a Leading Role
  • Christian Bale (American Hustle)
  • Bruce Dern (Nebraska)
  • Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street)
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)
  • Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)WINNER

Best Actress in a Leading Role

  • Amy Adams (American Hustle)
  • Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)WINNER
  • Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
  • Judi Dench (Philomena)
  • Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
  • Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)
  • Bradley Cooper (American Hustle)
  • Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)
  • Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street)
  • Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club) WINNER

Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Ironically, the two black guys pick the white chick, and the white guys pick the black chick)
  • Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine)
  • Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
  • Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)WINNER
  • Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)
  • June Squibb (Nebraska)

 Best Animated Feature

  • The Croods (Chris Sanders, Kirk DeMicco, Kristine Belson)
  • Despicable Me 2 (Chris Renaud, Pierre Coffin, Chris Meledandri)
  • Ernest & Celestine (Benjamin Renner, Didier Brunner)
  • Frozen (Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee, Peter Del Vecho)WINNER
  • The Wind Rises (Hayao Miyazaki, Toshio Suzuki)

Best Cinematography
  • The Grandmaster (Philippe Le Sourd)
  • Gravity (Emmanuel Lubezki)WINNER
  • Inside Llewyn Davis (Bruno Delbonnel)
  • Nebraska (Phedon Papamichael)
  • Prisoners (Roger A. Deakins)

Best Costume Design
  • American Hustle (Michael Wilkinson)
  • The Grandmaster (William Chang Suk Ping)
  • The Great Gatsby (Catherine Martin)WINNER
  • The Invisible Woman (Michael O’Connor)
  • 12 Years a Slave (Patricia Norris)

Best Directing
  • American Hustle (David O. Russell)
  • Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón)WINNER
  • Nebraska (Alexander Payne)
  • 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen)
  • The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese)

Best Film Editing
  • American Hustle (Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers, Alan Baumgarten)
  • Captain Phillips (Christopher Rouse)
  • Dallas Buyers Club (John Mac McMurphy, Martin Pensa)
  • Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón, Mark Sanger)WINNER
  • 12 Years a Slave (Joe Walker)

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
  • Dallas Buyers Club (Adruitha Lee, Robin Mathews) WINNER
  • Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (Stephen Prouty)
  • The Lone Ranger (Joel Harlow, Gloria Pasqua-Casny)

Best Original Score
  • The Book Thief (John Williams)
  • Gravity (Steven Price)WINNER
  • Her (William Butler, Owen Pallett)
  • Philomena (Alexandre Desplat)
  • Saving Mr. Banks (Thomas Newman)

Best Original Song
  • Happy (Despicable Me 2)
  • Let It Go (Frozen)WINNER
  • The Moon Song (Her)
  • Ordinary Love (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom)

Best Visual Effects
  • Gravity (Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk, Neil Corbould)WINNER
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton, Eric Reynolds)
  • Iron Man 3 (Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash, Dan Sudick)
  • Star Trek Into Darkness (Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossmann, Burt Dalton)
  • The Lone Ranger (Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams, John Frazier)

Best Adapted Screenplay
  • Before Midnight (Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke)
  • Captain Phillips (Billy Ray)
  • Philomena (Steve Coogan, Jeff Pope)
  • 12 Years a Slave (John Ridley)WINNER
  • The Wolf of Wall Street (Terence Winter)

Best Original Screenplay
  • American Hustle (Eric Warren Singer, David O. Russell)
  • Blue Jasmine (Woody Allen)
  • Dallas Buyers Club (Craig Borten, Melisa Wallack)
  • Her (Spike Jonze)WINNER
  • Nebraska (Bob Nelson)
December 1, 2013

The Simplistic Reviews Podcast: November Edition

As Turkey Day draws to a close, the boys recap the month of November with Anime and Asian Cinema aficionado Neal DaSouza.  They talk about black films, black Kermit The Frog, and Blacklist.  Not necessarily in that order.

The boys also introduce an old game with a new twist.  A game titled with the infamous anagram K.F.M. (Look it up on the interwebs kiddies).  Remakes, Wolves of Wall Street, and Roadhouse throat rips.  Gobble up all that and more, pilgrim, on the Thanksgiving edition of the Simplistic Reviews Podcast.  Yes, that was a pretty bad use of word play.  So what?  Sue me.  Wait, don’t sue me.  I’m so incredibly poor.

Show Notes:

Kermit The Frog
Roadhouse
K.F.M. Game
The Blacklist
Sleepy Hollow
The Wolf Of Wall Street


FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY.

Click HERE to listen to podcast

Check us out on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest

November 19, 2013

True Story: 12 Years a Slave

HARROWING

12 Years a Slave – Harrowing

It’s been nearly a year since the release, and our review, of “Django Unchained,” the Quentin Tarantino blood-soaked revenge story where white slavers finally got their comeuppance.  It was a thing of beauty to see history re-written, once again by Tarantino, and evil punished as it should be.  A year later, another high-profile film using the topic of slavery as it’s narrative is released in the form of “12 Years a Slave.”  Directed by Steve McQueen, who you probably know from “Shame,” starring Michael Fassbender’s wiener, is a harrowing story that I’ll define as the “anti-Django.”

“Slave,” based on the memoir by Solomon Northup, tells of the story of Northup’s journey from a free black man in upstate New York, to his kidnapping and eventual sale into slavery in the American South.  The tale is brutal, gritty, and all together horrifying.  Northup sees things that no human being should ever see and his will is constantly tested by not only his masters, but his fellow slaves, namely a woman named Patsey, while the two are indentured by Edwin Epps, a slaver that would make Calvin Candie blush.

Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Northup, and sells the pain and anguish of a man struggling with protecting his pre-slavery life, while trying to survive the mental and physical abuse of his new masters.  Not to sell the film short by any means, but “Slave” is a classic fish out of water story.  However, if you’re waiting for any comic beats or scenes that will lighten the mood, you’ll be sadly mistaken.  Ejiofor is a marvel and creates something that is tragic, and beautiful.  He brings to life a character that was far too common in antebellum America, and where only a few were actually saved from their predicament.

The other surprising bit about “Slave” is its star power.  A who’s who of Hollywood shows up in every corner of the film.  From Benedict Cumberbatch to Paul Dano (who nearly steals the show as a deranged junior overseer) it was a little shocking to see so many stars in one film about a subject as touchy as slavery.  While I mention this fact, I still have a hard time not comparing “Slave” to “Django Unchained.”  The two have many similarities.  One being the grim subject of slavery and their harsh depictions of the white oppressors, but I find it so odd that so many Hollywood A-Listers want to be a part of a film that depicts such harsh subject matter.  Sure, it shows that they are empathetic to the fact that slavery was wrong and appalling, but to me it seems so odd.  I can’t quite put my finger on it.

On the subject of comparing “Slave” to “Django,” while I felt beats of “Django” had moments of levity to take you out of it’s grim subject matter, “Slave” is relentless in it’s overall message.  Near the end I had a pit in my stomach like I had while watching “The Passion of the Christ.”  It felt like a hopeless situation that would never give in, and while you know the endgame for “Christ” you still felt some hope for Northup and his situation, but near the end, you felt just as hopeless as Northup.  To be honest, the last 30 minutes of “Slave” is an emotional rollercoster that I haven’t felt in a long time. It’s the most emotional film that you might see the entire year.

McQueen’s direction, and especially what he gets out of Fassbender, is a wonder to behold.  Like I said before, if you thought Leonardo DiCaprio was Academy Award-worthy in “Django,” wait until you see Fassbender.  It’s one of the best performances in a film filled with haunting and memorable performances, and Fassbender’s is one of the best you’ll see all year.  His portrayal of Edwin Epps is utterly evil and depicts everything that was horrible about the act of slavery.  Getting back to McQueen, his depictions of the horrors of slavery are visceral and drawn out, and add to the tension of Northup’s plight and hopelessness.

The only thing that really rubs me the wrong way about “Slave” is the attention, or the attention it’s not getting.  Yes, the film is great, and I say that from purely a narrative and filmmaking perspective, but what “Django” was ripped apart by certain directors, the fact that “Slave” was directed by an African American director, nobody says anything about it.  It’s just something that I notice and it kind of bugs me.  Within the past 15 years three major films have been released on the subject of slavery; “Amistad,” “Django Unchained,” and now “12 Years a Slave.” Two of the films were directed by white directors and the latest directed by an African American.  Just something to think about in the way that the media covers certain films.

In conclusion, “Slave” is a film that will stay with you long after the credits role and will hopefully encourage people to seek out the truth about this story and so many stories like it, not only from antebellum America, but what likely still goes on all over the world everyday.  While Tarantino put a spin on slavery with “Django” that was horrible, but still added some humor, “Slave” is an earnest tale of finding hope when all is lost and is going to be a major contender when Oscar nominations are announced.

“Fun” Fact:  This is Steve McQueen and Michael Fassbender’s third collaboration together, starting with “Hunger” in 2008.

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