Movies: Don’t race to “Race” and the race for the Oscars



If you love history  (in particular WWII and Olympic history) and/or you have read Unbroken and Boys in the Boat and appreciate some of the great performances of the 1936 Olympics, you will probably find Race interesting. Race covers the life of Jesse Owens from 1932-1936 and his decision to run in the Berlin Olympics. It’s a long movie to cover only 4 years.

Owens is adequately played by Stephen James (John Lewis in Selma) but don’t look for him to break the “Oscar so White” trend for 2016. I’m afraid we will have to wait for Birth of a Nation in the fall to do that. Jason Sudeikis plays his coach at Ohio State. While the role calls for a dramatic and serious demeanor, Sudeikis has a constant grin/smirk on his face making it seem like he is a comedian trying to play a dramatic role. It just didn’t work for me. Jeremy Irons (not surprisingly) was the strongest performance playing the evil and corrupt Avery Brundage.

The most bizarre casting/storyline was around Leni Reifenstahl, the Olympic photographer who came across as very “hot” and a bit of a rebel. This doesn’t align with what I have read about her. A good example of this is the men’s heavyweight 8 rowing event (one of the most prestigious of the Olympics), in which the American team was on the far outside lane and she just filmed the German and Italian rowers during the race. When the Americans won, she had to have them come back the next day and row so she could film it. This also happened in the movie with Jesse Owens winning the broad jump. I have to believe that the fact that she made him come back was more because she spent most of her time filming the German contender rather than because she had a special “bond” with Jesse Owens. Just not sure where all that came from but it was distracting.

It is a tough time of year to find a good movie and Race is ok. You could do a lot worse but I think you have to like history to enjoy it. B-/C+ 

Oscars – Who Will Win and Who Should Win: 

Best Picture:

Who will win: Revenant – it has momentum and has been winning in the lead-up award shows. Unfortunately it is NOT the best movie of the year (wasn’t even in my top 10).

Who Should Win: Spotlight – it is so great and in a subtle way. The film does everything right. I’d be ok with any of the others to win over Revenant including the Big Short which might play spoiler.

Best Actress:

Who will win: Brie Larson – she has won every award leading up to the Oscars

Who should win: I’m fine with Brie Larson although I love Saorise Ronan in Brooklyn and Charlotte Rampling – actually I loved all of these performances but Ronan just lit up the screen in Brooklyn.  

Best Actor:

Who will win – Leonardo DiCaprio – like Larson, he has won everything up to this point.

Who should win – I’m fine with Leonardo as his Oscar is long overdue. He deserves one for multiple films. This year is a relatively weak field so just give it to him now. I think the best performance, however, was Michael Fassbender in Steve Jobs. He should win the Oscar for having to do 2 hours of Sorkin dialogue exceptionally well. Think he is in a universe of one in that regard.  That’s a big big ask!

Best Supporting Actress:

Who will Win: Alicia Vikander

Who Should Win: Alicia Vikander should have won this category for Ex Machina . It’s hard to argue that her brilliant performance in the Danish Girl was not a “Leading” role but this is her year and she carried that movie. Loved all the rest of the performances as well.

Best Supporting Actor:

Who will Win: Sylvester Stallone – sentiment is going to prevail and the academy will award him for Rocky 30 years later.

Who should win: Mark Rylance. Rylance was the lynchpin in Bridge of Spies and his understated performance was riveting. Mark Ruffalo was also wonderful in Spotlight and well deserving of the prize.

Best Documentary

What should and will win: Amy. I admit, I didn’t see all the documentaries this year but I saw enough to know that Amy is by far and away the best. It has won most of the awards in this category leading up to the Oscars and is well deserving. See it.

Best Director

Who will win: Alejandro Inarritu will make it two in a row for basically a difficult shoot.

Who should win: Tom McCarthy for Spotlight. It was a beautifully constructed understated film. Hopefully he’ll take best original screenplay but that should be about it for Spotlight.




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