Best picture of 2014?

Aaron J. Brown

Aaron J. Brown is an Iron Range blogger, author, radio producer and columnist for the Hibbing Daily Tribune.

KENT: Action! This is Kent Winsington with Movie Time Reviews. Joining me today is Aaron Brown.

AARON BROWN: Hey, everyone. I like movies.

KENT: Of course, we all like movies! And it doesn’t get any better than Oscar Sunday, when the best movies in the world compete for timeless glory, provided they are predominantly about American themes and meet the standards of the bitter, egomaniacal, male-dominated electorate of the Academy.

AB: But they’re always right, so who are we to judge?

KENT: Exactly! Now we will break down the nine nominees for best picture of 2014. First up, we have American Hustle. This David O. Russell feature is about a mad caper gone wrong.

AB: Yes, this movie has Jennifer Lawrence in it and I like her. It’s mostly just an innocent crush, but then again I’m not around her all the time and can’t really say how I’d be if I met her. Probably just awkward. That’s a safe bet.

KENT: But the film, did you see it?

AB: Nah. I think the kids had some kind of Scout thing going on that weekend.

KENT: Perhaps you did see Captain Phillips, starring Tom Hanks as the sea captain who falls into the hands of Somali pirates?

AB: I saw that on the news when it happened in 2009. Pretty much the same deal, right?

KENT: Surely Matthew McConaughey’s brilliant performance in Dallas Buyers Club caught your attention?

AB: Yeah, he’s kind of like my wife’s version of Jennifer Lawrence. Normally we would have seen something like that, but I think someone threw up that weekend, and then the dog ate the throw-up, and then threw that up, and then someone else slipped on the throw-up throw-up and had to go to the doctor. Something like that.

KENT: Horrifying. Well, I myself was mesmerized by the Spike Jonze film “Her,” in which an ordinary man falls in love with the artificial intelligence of his phone’s operating system. The picture was more than just science fiction; it was a thoughtful question about what makes humanity, a clear-eyed foretelling of the coming singularity. Aaron, what were your thoughts?

AB: Great movie, Kent, or at least that’s what I’ve been led to believe. I did not see this movie, but I did see The LEGO Movie. Afterward, we went home and the boys were so excited that they built all these big LEGO structures and then I took a picture of the LEGO creations with my phone. Pretty close approximation, I think. I thought it was fantastic.

KENT: (sighs) I’m just going to venture that you didn’t see the two underdog films in the Best Picture list this year, including Nebraska, the black-and-white dramatic comedy about a dysfunctional family, or the moving drama Philomena, starring Dame Judy Dench.

AB: That would be a reasonable assumption, given that neither of those movies produced Happy Meal toys. I’ve heard of Nebraska, both the movie and the state, but have seen neither. And I’ve heard of Judy Dench, mostly from seeing her on TV at the Oscars.

KENT: You know the director Martin Scorcese?

AB: Absolutely! Goodfellas, Gangs of New York, The Departed. Great director.

KENT: Yes, indeed, and you must know that his movie The Wolf of Wall Street is one of this year’s nominees.

AB: Sure, I saw something about that on TV. Looks like a Red Box to me. Maybe, if we get one of those free codes and we get all our work done before the kids go to bed. Not much of a fan of Wall Street movies, though. I prefer not to think about what happens to my mortgage check.

KENT: One of the favorites this year is the heart wrenching period piece, 12 Years a Slave, about a free black man who is nevertheless sold back into slavery. It’s a devastating statement on our nation’s cruel history of slavery.

AB: Is this the one where Sandra Bullock is in her underwear?

KENT: No, that’s Gravity.

AB: Right! Gravity. We saw that one! Wow, what a movie. It wasn’t just about a space mission gone wrong; it was about the human spirit as it strives desperately to find its place in a boundless, deadly universe. And also Sandra Bullock was in these awesome black undies almost the whole movie.

KENT: I knoooooow, right? She’s aging really well. Well, that’s all for Movie Time Review. I’m Kent Winsington. Thanks for joining us, Aaron Brown. You’re a terrible film critic and you’re fired.

AB: That’s fair. Happy Oscar weekend, America! I look forward to watching all these movies when the kids are out of the house … in 12 years.

Aaron J. Brown is an author and college instructor from northern Minnesota’s Iron Range. He writes the blog and hosts the Great Northern Radio Show on Northern Community Radio. This piece first appeared in the Sunday, March 2, 2014 edition of the Hibbing Daily Tribune. A version of this piece aired on Northern Community Radio’s “Between You and Me” on Saturday, March 1.


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