2014 Oscar Winners
by Phil Boatwright

The razzel-dazzle ceremony for the 86th Academy Awards was held last night (March 2nd) in beautiful downtown Hollywood (trust me, it’s not so beautiful).

This year’s nominated selections for best film were a potpourri of genres and themes, but once again, several of these choices bombarded us with abusive content.

The technical and artistic qualities of the nominees cannot be debated. Indeed, it must have been difficult to select one nominee over another when it came to the skill and technique represented in each category. But whatever positive messages may be contained in Oscar’s choices, their themes were eclipsed by desensitizing content (the reasons for the ratings). Content is never considered when Hollywood passes out little golden statues. Why? Hasn’t the content of the cinema become as influential as its artistic merits?

While some of last years’ films offered a moral or life lesson (Gravity, Captain Phillips, Saving Mr. Banks), far too many took moviegoers down a dark road. Six of the Best Picture nominees were deservedly rated R. And how The Wolf of Wall Street and Dallas Buyers Club escaped the seldom used NC-17 mystifies this film reviewer.

Movies are said to be an art form. It follows then, that the art of storytelling is most effective not just when it shows who we are, but when it suggests what we can become. Many of this year’s Oscar contenders seem to ignore that challenge. (What exactly is the moral of August: Osage County or American Hustle?)

So, why does your humble movie correspondent continue to subject himself to such grievous film-going experiences? (Don’t think I don’t ask that of myself about this time each year.) My answer - movies are modern man’s medium for relating parables to the masses. Like parables, films can teach and uplift as well as entertain. And like every other film buff, I’m always hoping for the next Friendly Persuasion, To Kill a Mockingbird, or It’s A Wonderful Life.

Sadly, films that uplift the spirit as well as entertain are few and far between. So many of this year’s nominees seem to not just reflect our nation’s decaying moral standards, but embrace them as well.

If you are troubled by the crudity and profane nature of many films Hollywood considers “art,” then you really should read the critiques of those of us who provide the reasons for the ratings. A review is just an opinion, but given the synopsis and the film’s content should help you when deciding what’s appropriate for your family’s viewing.

And now, Oscar’s Choices. Click on the link to read Preview's review (if available) in a new window/tab. Titles in BOLD received a positive Content rating from Preview

BEST PICTURE
12 Years a Slave

BEST DIRECTOR
Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity

BEST ACTOR
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

BEST ACTRESS
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Frozen

BEST DOCUMENTARY
20 Feet From Stardom

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
The Great Beauty, Italy

BEST CONEMATOGRAPHY
Emmanuel Lubezki, Gravity

ORIGINAL SCORE
Steven Price, Gravity

ORIGINAL SONG
Music and Lyric by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez "Let it Go" from Frozen

VISUAL EFFECTS
Gravity

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
12 Years a Slave - John Ridley

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Spike Jonze - Her

SOUND MIXING
Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead and Chris Munro - Gravity

SOUND EDITING
Glenn Freemantle - Gravity

SHORT FILM (Live action)
Anders Walter and Kim Magnusson - Helium

SHORT FILM (animated)
Laurent Witz and Alexandre Espigares, Mr. Hublot

PRODUCTION DESIGN
Catherine Martin (Production Design); Beverley Dunn (Set Decoration), The Great Gatsby

MAKEUP AND HAIR
Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews, Dallas Buyers Club

COSTUME DESIGN
Catherine Martin, The Great Gatsby

EDITING
Gravity