Cinema: Film Number Ten
By Ryder W. Miller

During the last few years ten films have been nominated for the best film Oscar by the Academy of Arts and Science, but this year there were only nine. One can imagine that there were many films that could have been selected for the tenth year this year. Most of the choices were films that came late in the year and you could still see many of them in major cities near Oscars time.

That tenth film could have been from earlier in the year, it could have been something that was snubbed, or it could have been written in. This year we had a lot of different films to choose from. There did seem like there was sociology as well as arts and science at work in the selection process.

The science accolades sure seemed to go to Gravity which had marvelous specials effects. This might not necessarily have been due to cutting age technology, and there was a great deal of art involved also. One may gather that this was not a film one could have easily made ten years ago. Gravity did not have as interesting a screen play as it might have needed with there being much more stuff going on out there in space than explored. Most of the men were boobs in this film also. It was a great story about survival and a spectacular adventure, but I liked Europa Report better which brought home a more important truth, and thought the movie missed opportunities to confront some topical issues in space exploration like the threat of nuclearization of space endeavors and the search for extremophiles. The damage to the space probes could have also been caused by space debris.

I was kind of glad American Hustle did not win this year because it might have fed into the anti-Semitism in this country. Christian Bale gave a fine performance, but his character could have been played by a real Jew.  It is also annoying to see a Jew have a some crafty plan and double cross everybody in the movie. The film also does not acknowledge very fully some of the discrimination that Jews experience. The screen play was above standard and the many of the performances were stellar. Jeremy Renner also gave a very noteworthy performance in this film. 

The Cinema can be a teacher and can help explain what people are going through. That might be one of the reasons that there are regular entries about The Holocaust. They document an event in history that explains the sentiments and circumstances of the Jewish people. It is a living past that still influences what happens today. The same can be said about issues that women face. As much as Gravity was feminist, Philomena was about the need for it and how it was lacking in some people’s lives.

The Oscars do not always pick the most fun films to watch. They often have a social conscious and sometimes a progressive message. They remind us of suffering and problems. Twelve Years a Slave tells an important story in American history. It also explains people’s past. It was not just a film about being an African American. It was a film about the whites in The South as well as the man who wrote the story down in a book. It also helps explain where some people are coming from.

Her was also a great film about where nerds and geeks are coming from. It was sort of snide, but was definitely one of the best screen plays of the year. It can resonate for those who find it hard to make a lasting connection in a world that rips people apart. It was also the only “sci fi” nomination this year. 

Dallas Buyers Club was a great film about mismatched people coming together for performances that were excellent even if the actors seemed out of character. It was a passionate film that challenged the medical establishment.

Surprisingly there were no major awards for Captain Philips, also a true story, Nebraska which had some dark and maybe bad taste humor, American Hustle which was a significant runner up, Philomena which also a significant runner up, and The Wolf of Wall Street by Scorsese who will have one visit the underbelly of this country was also a significant runner up. Scorsese is a political force and quite the muckraker.

For film ten this year one had many fine films to choose from. Maybe Monument Men which we saw a lot of advertising for during Awards Season this year should have been write in. Those seeking a film about being an African American and America might have preferred Tyler Perry’s The Butler to Twelve Years a Slave  which told a more contemporary story. There was also Elysium which was an amazing film even if it got some of the medical stuff wrong. With people fighting for marriage equality this year was probably not the right year for Inside Llewyen Davis which is sort of phobic. It was also a great year for film adaptions with depictions of harsh class warfare in The Great Gatsby and Great Expectations. There was a whole world of foreign films that did not make it to America, and The Great Beauty might have missed with some of the women folk even if like Her and The Wolf of Wall Street the guys would have liked it. Maybe we were having too much fun with these “guy” movies.

For some even nine films would be too much to think about, for others not enough. The movies do have their magic, and all told in tandem they effect each of us differently like each of us being a gem that is carved by different jewelers.

Asked what my favorite films were this year: there were more than ten of them. I didn’t have any single write in for number ten this year either, but maybe next year. There was likely something here for everybody, and much wonderful stuff to be lost in time as usual.

RyderRyder W. Miller is an environmental reporter, independent scholar, critic, and eco-critic who writes about Nature, Astronomy, the Sea, Academic books, Art, American Literature, and Genre Literature. He also writes short stories (usually genre stories) and poems. He is the editor of From Narnia to a Space Odyssey and co-writer of San Francisco: A Natural History. He is currently looking for a publisher for a book of Nature Writing/News Columns called An Ocean Beach Diary (published in The West Portal Monthly and Redwood Coast Review), and a collection of genre stories (many already published in Mythic Circle and The Lost Souls website). He has published on the web what could be a book collection of essays about science fiction and fantasy. He is also working on a anthology of Environmental stories called Green Visions. Following the dictum of C.S. Lewis he has come to believe that it is easier to criticize than understand, but not every book is worthwhile or a contribution.