Academy Awards fuel film dialogue among community

By Maddie Stagnaro – mstagnar@unca.edu – Staff Writer

The Oscars season officially heated up when the academy announced nominations last Thursday morning.

According to members, anticipation within the film community centers around the cultural and social impact of the nominated film choices.

Amy Adams and Christian Bale blew audiences and critics away with their chemistry, Leonardo DiCaprio shocked us as Jordan Belfort and Chiwetel Ejiofor stunned his audience with a glimpse into the horrors of slavery.

“I think ‘12 Years a Slave’ really spoke to the African-American community and spoke to the true horrors of what was going on in that time,” said Greg Branson, an entertainment business insider for nearly 20 years. “I’ve never seen Ejiofor in anything before, so I don’t really have anything to compare it to but he did a great job.”

Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street” may have been the most shocking movie for viewers this year, as it displayed a large amount of nudity, including an orgy and significant amounts of drug use.

“I was really surprised to see that it got nominated,” said Erik Montoya of the Asheville Film Society. “DiCaprio did a fantastic job but I think the content shocked a lot of people. It will speak volumes about the viewers and voters if it wins.”

Joaquin Phoenix proved himself a true actor with his performance in Spike Jonze’s “Her” in a welcome comeback. “Her” brought viewers into a futuristic world where a man can have a relationship with his computer.

“My cellphone tells me when to go to wake up in the morning, it was a very real issue about being obsessed with a cellphone, and I think it spoke to the direction our culture is headed.” Branson said.

According to some members of the film community, there were several disappointments in this year’s crop of Academy Awards nominees.

“‘Captain Phillips’ wasn’t as good as I thought it would be. I think Tom Hanks did well, but the storyline was too weak for the amount of intensity,” said Jenna Parker of the Asheville Film Society.

Montoya said she disagreed with Parker.

“I think “Nebraska” was disappointing, the story was cliche and the acting was mediocre; however, “American Hustle” lived up to every expectation I had. Adams and Bale had such fabulous chemistry, it blew me away.” Montoya said.

Matthew McConaughey may have decidedly been the most surprising performance of the year in “Dallas Buyers Club.”

“McConaughey was not only cast against type, but threw himself into the character and his physicality, dieting off almost 50 pounds to play a believably gaunt, wasted patient. He didn’t sacrifice his humor and charm; however, which are vital to capturing our interest in and sympathy for his plight,” said Ann Weber, a retired UNCA professor of psychology.

“It’ll be an interesting awards show this year, with such a diverse set of movies it’ll be interesting to see what America chooses.” Parker said.

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