My Academy Award homework is complete. I have seen the last two movies, "Nebraska" and "Philomena," and my predictions have not altered, they remain the same. (click here for that posting: My Oscar Prophecy ) I shall now review the two additional films for you.
"Philomena" is a true story about the search of an elderly woman, Philomena played by Judi Dench, for the child she gave up for adoption 50 years earlier. Her daughter gets hold of a former BBC newsman, Martin Sixsmith portrayed by Steve Coogan, and convinces him that her mother's story is a book worth writing. Martin and Philomena make a sweet and sour investigative team. They start by setting focus on the convent that is still in operation. This particular Catholic convent takes in expectant girls, helps deliver and then find parents for the babies, and then have the girls work off the accrued debt. It takes five years of seven day, twelve hour, work weeks to clear the debt. While the babies still reside in the convent (before adoption) the mothers are allowed to spend one hour a day with them. Adoption could take place anywhere from a few weeks after birth to years later. Philomena's boy was almost 5 when the convent found parents. The qualifications for adopting a child is to be able to pay two thousand pounds. For this reason, many of the adopters came from America. The actress Jane Russell was one of these. As the movie progresses, varied discoveries come to light. Not only do we find out about the fate of Philomena's child, and secrets of the Catholic convent, but also Philomena and Martin peel back the layers of each other revealing their inner selves, much to their own surprise as to ours. It is very good movie but I don't believe it will be taking home any statuettes, for Best Movie or Best Actress. I thought Steve Coogan had the standout performance, though he was not nominated. He is exceptional playing a serious role. Before this I can only think of him in comedies.
"Nebraska" is what I consider a dramady, but is classified as an adventure drama. Bruce Dern plays Woody Grant, a retiree who receives in the mail a chance to win one million dollars from Publishers Clearinghouse. He neglects to understand the "chance to win" portion and believes he is the winner of one million dollars. Not wanting to trust the mail with delivering his winnings, Woody wants to pick up the prize in person. This is a 850 mile journey from his home in Billings, Montana, to Lincoln, Nebraska, the office of Publishers Clearinghouse. He keeps starting this trip on foot several times only to be picked up by one of his two sons, or the State Troopers and returned to his home. David, Woody's youngest, played by Will Forte, finally agrees to take time off from his job in an electronics store and drive his father to Nebraska. He knows Woody did not really win, but he figures he can use the time on their trip to get to know his father better. Along the way, the two stop at Woody's brother's house in Plainview, Nebraska. The majority of this movie happens in Plainview. This is where Woody grew up and most of the residents know him. The people of Plainview find out about Woody's winnings and no matter how hard David tries to convince them that it is not true, the more they are convinced it is. Soon everybody is looking to Woody for a handout. The comedic situations of "Nebraska" are equal to the drama slash adventure. I would recommend seeing this flick. I don't think it will win the Best Picture Oscar, and Bruce Dern, in my opinion, is second only to Matthew McConaughey for the Best Actor prize. That is a shame. In any other year, Dern would be a shoe-in. And I doubt many Oscar worthy scripts will be coming Bruce Dern's way in the near future. Although, we may be shocked and see Bruce take home the gold trophy by being the "sentimental" favorite. I don't like seeing Oscars awarded this way, but it does happen. (i.e.: Martin Landau, Christopher Plummer and Henry Fonda)
After watching "Nebraska" and "Philomena" I stay firm in my previous predictions. No changes other than Bruce Dern taking a strong number two spot for Best Actor.