Tropic Cinema Showcases Oscar Contenders
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Film Critic, Cooke Communications Newspaper Chain
Each week we take a brief look at movies playing at the Tropic Cinema and add comments from film critics. But those comments become more significant as we approach Oscar season. Sunday night is/was the 87th annual Academy Awards presentation and Tropic predictably offers some contenders in its gotta-watch lineup.
"Birdman" is being touted for Best Picture and Best Director (among nine nominations in all, a tie with "The Grand Budapest Hotel"). This almost-true story of a former comic-book-movie star trying to make a comeback fits star Michael Keaton like a cape and cowl. 3AW observes. "Michael Keaton is astounding in this brilliantly conjured piece of stream-of-consciousness cinema by Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu...Prepare to be enthralled, dazzled, delighted and disturbed." And The Vine notes, "The Birdman/ Batman thing is a cool hook that ties in well with the public perception of Keaton's career." The Australian adds, "You are unlikely to see a better American film this year."
"Still Alice" may be a story about early-onset Alzheimer’s but Julianne Moore’s performance is (dare I say it?) unforgettable. She’s up for a Best Actress Oscar. Cleveland Plain Dealer proclaims, "Yes, Julianne Moore will win the Oscar. And yes, this in one depressing film." The Times-Picayune agrees, "Julianne Moore isn't merely good in the lead role. She's devastatingly, heartbreakingly good…."
"Whiplash" gives us a Best Supporting Actor contender, J.K. Simmons. He’s a tough-love mentor to an aspiring jazz drummer. Simmons deserves it, having paid his dues in various TV cop shows and insurance commercials. Daily Express tells us, "Simmons is unnervingly good as a teacher who rules by fear and the final showdown provides as gripping a climax as you will see all year." And Cinemaphile.org calls the film "utterly brilliant and intense."
"The Imitation Game" offers Benedict Cumberbatch in a role that has garnered him a Best Actor nomination, that of British code breaker Alan Turning. While he’s my pick, it’ll probably go to Eddie Redmayne or Michael Keaton (see above). Houston Press says, "Cumberbatch gives a performance that is, by turns, awkward, triumphant, and heartbreaking." And The Standard calls the film "impressive, particularly due to Cumberbatch."
"A Most Violent Year" showcases great performances from Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain as an immigrant family trying to make it in New York in 1981. Groucho Reviews describes it as "an unsettling examination of moral drift, over a year in the life of a man and a generation in the life of a country." Cleveland Plain Dealer says, "In case you hadn't noticed yet, Oscar Isaac is the real deal." And Movie Habit calls the film "well acted and smart."
"Mr. Turner" is new to the screen this week, the compelling portrait of British landscape painter J.M.W. Turner. Timothy Spall takes on the role of Turner with proper grumpiness. Movie Habit calls it a "portrait of the artist as a troll." Newsday notes, "Mike Leigh’s biopic is so richly detailed that it feels like a documentary." And Movie Chambers concludes, "Director Mike Leigh and actor Timothy Spall have painted their own masterpiece."
Okay, check your list of Oscar picks. Then make sure you catch these great performances being showcased at the Tropic.