Monday, December 23, 2013

AMERICAN HUSTLE vs. 12 YEARS A SLAVE

AMERICAN HUSTLE vs. 12 YEARS A SLAVE

While it isn't exactly a competition, it is awards season, and these two films are topping a number of lists.  I happened to see them on back to back nights, so I will cover them in one review.

I really enjoyed AMERICAN HUSTLE a lot, so don't take this the wrong way, but this movie is seriously overrated. Although it was a lot of fun, and there are some really good performances in it, the film is completely lacking in originality. Making a movie about ABSCAM is kinda like making a movie about the hostage crisis (ARGO). There are numerous plot, character, and visual references to GOODFELLAS and BOARDWALK EMPIRE, and Chistian Bale's performance is really little more than warmed-over De Niro, which makes De Niro's appearance a lot less powerful than it should have been. 

That said, both of the main actresses in the film, Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence, deserve nominations for their work, as well as the production designers, and the makeup and wardrobe designers. But the film is pretty forgettable. It's only been 48 hours since I saw it, and I had to look up who some of the actors were.

12 YEARS A SLAVE, however, I think will stick with me for a long while. It's not a perfect movie either, but I think it's a far more original and stylish piece of filmmaking. Steve McQueen has a number of nice directorial touches that underline the incredible performances in the film, starting with the second scene in the film. Just about every actor in the film is extremely well cast, with the exception of Brad Pitt, but hey, he slept with the producer to get the job, so he earned it. 

One thing I thought I would never say in my life: Hans Zimmer deserves a nomination for the score, which is unique and appropriately dissonant for the film. 

It's one of those films that will stick with you for a while, and may even be worth watching again in the near future. I don't say that about very many films. 
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