As we move in to Award’s Season, you can bet that much of the reviews coming up within these two months will be award-centric (bar the odd standard January action movie release).  To kick off, here arte my brief thoughts on two films that have been round for sometime now, and both of which are within the Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Screenplay (Adapted or Original) categories across many nominee’s list. The two films in question are of course David O’ Russell’s American Hustle and Alexander Payne’s Nebraska.

american-hustle-poster-2American  Hustle

David O’Russell’s third Oscar-Favorited movie in a row following The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook is one that does not quite deserve to be the heavy-hitter that it is proving to be. Granted it has an exceptional cast, and some of the hair styles have to be seen to be believed, but overall it is an incredibly superficial film that cares much more about proving to you how clever the script is, rather than making feel any connection or emotional resonance with these characters. Plus, having a cast of this caliber does at times prove to be quite distracting. You never lose yourself in these characters because you are constantly aware of who it is you are watching, and all of them play a variation of their public selves or roles we come to expect of them. The 70’s period is undoubtedly impressive, if somewhat cliched and over-the-top, with most of the joy coming from the soundtrack rather than the production design. It is not an awards contender; the only reason it has the attention is has received is only down to who is in it and who directed it. This is the work of a director blowing off steam after two movies which took a lot of creative energy out of him. While certainly breezy and fun, American Hustle ultimately amounts to very little; a film that isn’t as clever as it thinks it is, and one that out stays its welcome by a good half an hour. But I do love me some ELO. 3/5

Nebraska posterNebraska

Alexander Payne is a consistently excellent director. If one was to take a glance back over his CV, you would not find a bad film on there. Right through from Election to The Descendents, Payne has always shown a great finesse and skill in tapping in to the human emotion of his stories and always nurtures incredibly affecting performances from his always impressive cast. I am happy to say that Nebraska is no different; a poignant and utterly lovable film that is clearly the work of a director who has matured over the years, delivering a film about legacy, familial relationships, and facing up to the future. Bruce Dern turns in a beautifully affecting performance as the aging Woody, who is determined to make it to Nebraska to claim a million dollars that he believes he has won due to a piece of junk mail. Seeing no other option, his son Dave (Will Forte) decides to amuse his father’s delusion by driving the pair of them to Nebraska. Along the way, old friendships are rediscovered and are shown not to be as genuine as one once thought. The cast is impeccable, with June Squibb turning in an hilarious performance as the matriarch of the family, while Will Forte shows surprising depth and warmth as an actor. A film that is perhaps too reserved to truly make an impact in any category this year, Nebraska is none the less one of the finest pieces of cinema to be included in the Awards roaster this year. 5/5

Come back later for a full review of another Oscar nominated movie. I’ll give you a hint: