In grand anticipation following the boozy Golden Globes award ceremony, the films American Hustle and Gravity led the academy award nominations. There were a total of nine movies from 2013 nominated for Best Picture that included “12 Years a Slave”; “Captain Phillips“; “Dallas Buyers Club“; “Her“; “Nebraska“; “Philomena” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Tales of survival were at the very essence of this year’s Oscar nominated films. Being pushed to the limit in a sea of cruelty and injustices was a pervasive theme throughout the Oscar-nominated story lines. These stories highlighted the very fraught nature of trying to keep a balanced psychological front in the attempt to build resilience and persevere. Further, we weren’t just introduced to tenacious characters and harrowing lives, but we were also confronted with the theatrics of trying to pull a fast one over others. In many ways the nine nominated movies demonstrated how so many of us want to be taken in by a fairy tale life. We want to believe in the glitter or in the goodness of others; yet that glitter was most definitely not gold.
In 2013, nationally and internationally there was turmoil that often led to massive bloodshed and collective bouts of reflection. What did the Boston Marathon bombing mean in terms of just living one’s life securely day to day. Many of the survivors of the bombing showed great acts of courage and tenacity; insisting on going about their lives and some even trying to finish the race they had started. Many sat and wondered what did the George Zimmerman trial mean in terms of race relations within the US. For many, the supposed post-racial era that the presidency of Obama was supposed to have ushered in was shown to be an illusion by the Zimmerman trial. Many debated the meaning of a metaphorical red line in Syria. On a lighter note many had to pause and considered whether Paula Dean’s racial comments from years back had any bearing on her southern cooking. Had her exuberant southern charm been a scam this whole time? The US federal government shut down but not too many people were sure what was the overall end game? Sure, Senator Ted Cruz gave an impassioned reading of Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham on the Senate Floor, but was that just part of the cloak and dagger approach? Speaking of which 2013, also had real cloak and dagger tactics play out on the national and international stage. Many were prompted to ponder does our sense and belief in privacy amount to nothing more than a show? Overall, 2013 highlighted stories of famine, war, bloodshed, and vice leaving many to feel insecure and wondering what was real and what wasn’t. One thing that appeared genuine was the new Pope. He seems to have a genuine compassion for the people.
Let’s go back to the illusions of the grand film screen. Suffering and tenacity came in all shapes and sizes. One was left out in space to ponder her role in the world, while another was kidnapped by pirates. One man was so lonely and need of a human connection that he fell in love with a computer voice. Another was diagnosed with a highly stigmatized death-sentence disease. Another lost the life of freedom that he knew when he decided to believe another. Humanity was not kind. But the characters found hope and strength from within. Although the path to that self-enlightenment and actual freedom was not kind.
Even in the movies that had a high focus on the nature of the scam, the tenacity of humanity shone through. Nebraska where dentures are lost and scam sweepstakes are readily believed, there is the quintessential bittersweet search for memory, love and understanding. The film Philomena, based on a true story, is about the search for a son long-ago given up. All nine Oscar films were at the end of the day about the tenacity of faith. Even American Hustle in its ’70s dark humor homage was deeply rooted in its conflicting moral ambiguity. Just the way any political, money scheme in the US tends to be. Besides showcasing the tenaciousness of the American dream and hustle, the film also shows the tenacity of the fashion styles of the ’70s. Long live those high flared teased-out wigs and bell bottoms.
Even the nominees had some degree of tenacity. Perennial favorite Meryl Streep was nominated…again! She has not won on a long time, but she has had 18 Academy Award nominations. She has had a 16% hit rate. She has had even more Golden Globe nominations. Whatever movie Meryl is in people say she was grand. However, lately she just has not been grand enough to overcome the more ritzy stints by the other actresses. Unfortunately, this year, there seems to have been a dearth of good roles for actresses. So, here comes Streep again. That is one tenacious actress. Amy Adams up for her fourth Oscar nomination is up against four other women who are all previous winners. Can her gum smacking role have been tenacious enough to overcome the Meryl and Cate Blanchett Oscar machine? I sure hope so. On the other end of the Oscar spectrum is Robert Redford, who believe it or not, has never won an Oscar and this year that streak will continue. Ironically enough, the movie he was snubbed for is called “all is lost”. Which may not be true for him as I am sure one day he will receive an Oscar, even if it is an honorary one? He is still going strong and by all accounts this latest movie of his showcases the persistence of his acting chops and film making purpose. He will persevere.
One of the Oscar nominations does have me thinking if whether this is all one big scam. Interestingly, the high-caliber (not) movie “Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa” for a nomination in the Makeup and Hairstyling category, while American Hustle did not. What? I believe those wigs deserve some Oscar love. What a scam! Stay strong and be tenacious wigs of America!