For many, the film awards season is a fun thing to watch sporadically during commercials of The Real Housewives or Duck Dynasty; no this is not a submission that I watch these shows— I actually detest them. For me, the SAG/AFTRA, Golden Globes and Academy Awards is a little bit of an obsession.

The obsession makes sense when you take me being an ex-film major and adding it with the fact that I have had a list of every movie I watch in a year for the past three years; by the way in 2013, I watched 130.

Last week I decided to do a weekly article on films that are being nominated for the major categories: Lead/Supporting Actor/Actress, Directing, Cinematography and Best Picture. If I have time, I will attempt to do Best Foreign Film, as it is one of my favorites. But my mom and dad will kill me if I do not study and do my homework.

 

How It Works

How this weekly article will work is: I will first pick a category and then a film. I will give an opinion on what I think it will be like just by watching the trailer and reading the synopsis. I will then watch the film, and give my own personal critique on the film. Afterwards I will give it a score (out of five) and then explain if I personally think it should be in the running. The Equinox issue that comes out before the Oscars, I will write a quick piece about who I think deserves the award.

It is important to note that I personally believe an Oscar should be awarded to a film or person that has taken film up an extra notch. I do not take into consideration how it did at the box office or its score on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s all on what I think.

I hope you enjoy this weekly segment.

 

Movie of Week One: Her

Nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Picture, Original Screenplay, Actor and Score, Her was directed by veteran film director, Spike Jonze and starred Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams and the voice of Scarlett Johansson.

From what I gather from the trailer, Theodore (Phoenix) is an introverted man who just endured a recent divorce. Whether the introversion was caused by the divorce or he was always this way, I am unsure at this time.

AP Photo: This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Joaquin Phoenix in a scene from the film Her.

AP Photo: This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Joaquin Phoenix in a scene from the film Her.

It appears that he does have at least one friend in Adams. What is clear from the trailer is that Theodore purchases a new generation of computer and mobile operating system that has artificial intelligence named Samantha (Johansson.)

It is clear without a doubt that he falls in love with her, with her appearing to fall in love with him.

 

After Watching Movie 

I sat in the movie theatre until the credits were completely done and some teenage employee came in and started sweeping up the popcorn around me. I was stunned emotionally and mentally.

This might be one of the best movies I have seen in the past two years. It was excellent in pretty much every way.

It is really hard to know where to start with this because there is just so much to talk about with this movie.

This movie is extremely emotional and quite heartfelt, being led by fantastic acting by Joaquin Phoenix.  I will admit that I was surprised how different Phoenix’s character was in the movie compared to the trailer.

The marketing portrayed him as this awkward, possibly geeky loner who falls in love with his Operating System (OS).

But to be honest, he was just a normal dude. He has quirky jokes, friends, a job that he seems to be torn between whether he finds it repetitive or enjoyable.

After driving home after the movie with my head buzzing with what I had just watched, I noticed just how easy it could have been to completely mess up this movie in so many ways.

By slightly changing how authentic Phoenix portrays his character to how humans and technology interact with each other in everyday life.

One of the things that I found to be extremely charming and stuck out the most was Spike Jonze’s portrayal of the future. It was subtle, yet effective. There were no flying cars, robots were not our butlers and there was not a utopia. The future was believable.

There were homeless people, the population had clearly increased, and people still used a key to get into the mailbox in their apartment building.

Just these subtle things made the audience more comfortable and willing to listen to the story unfold, while also making the whole situation believable.

As the relationship between Phoenix and Johansson’s characters began developing from the awkward “getting-to-know-each -other” stage to a clear connection on a mental and emotional level, Spike Jonze could have easily twisted into the operation system taking over, getting overly jealous and having the main character have to run to the OS’s headquarters and blow up the main computer to free humankind and himself. But Her is too smart for that, it is too well orchestrated.

What I like about Spike Jonze is that he takes seemingly weird and difficult plot ideas, and executes it in a way that doesn’t make it stand-offish.

Sure at first it is weird to think about a man falling in love with technology, but how many of you can honestly say you don’t feel dead when you forget your phone somewhere?

You feel lost and are probably longing for the moment you are with it again.

Jonze takes this and just ups the ante. Your phone feels just as lost without you and begins  to have feelings for you.

And honestly—it works here.

Overall, I give this film five out of five stars. The fantastic direction and acting coupled with amazing writing made this movie an excellent semi-social commentary without ramming it down your throat.

A believable future without the flying cars, robot police and Lady Gaga-esque clothing makes this film a more subtle portrayal of a new take of love Sci-Fi story line.

I don’t know how easy it is going to be for other films in the category of Best Picture to take down what is, in my opinion, one of the best movies of the past year.

 

Until next time.

 

Zak Koehler can be reached at zkoehler@keene-equinox.com

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