Oscar Film Review Series Intro & #1: Dallas Buyers Club

Dallas Buyers Club

So, the Oscars are over and this is a little late, but that doesn’t mean these pictures aren’t worth seeing.  Many of these are still showing in theatres (some yet to be released, here in Hong Kong).

Having seen many of this year’s Academy Awards nominees, including 7 out of the 9 Best Picture nominees, I’m going to review them and provide my preferred choices to have won the awards for the various categories.

Lets start with one of my favorites.

Matthew McConaughey rightly deserves his win for best actor (sorry, Leo fans) as Ron Woodroof, playing an AIDS-stricken Texan with such emotional gravitas that had me glued to the screen from start to finish.  The performance was both tragic and uplifting.

Jared Leto also gives a mesmerizing performance, playing Rayon, a transgender man with AIDS who crosses paths with Woodroof.  With a performance like that, the Oscar was his to lose.

It was, however, a snub for Jennifer Garner, who wasn’t even nominated for best supporting actress for her role as a doctor who finds herself in the middle of a struggle between the pharmaceutical empire’s rush to get drugs out into the public and the concern for her patients’ safety.  It was a quietly powerful performance that elevated McConaughey’s to the brilliance that it was.

There has been a lot of discussion recently about movies that are “based on true events”, or “inspired by a true story.”  The topic gained prominence again after “Argo”, a film that was based on true events but was highly dramatized and fictionalized in some bits, won best picture last year.  It was no exception this year, as films such as “Captain Phillips” and “Philomena” are also based on true events.  Some of these have the feel of being bogged down by the fact that it was based on true events, as moviegoers would find themselves thinking “there is no way that actually happened!”  which takes them right out of the movie.  Such was not an issue for “Dallas Buyers Club”, which immerses the audience into film’s world.  There was no sense of whether such and such was real or not; the story was driving force behind the true events, not the true events.

Finally, the film perfectly treads on the thin line whereby, if fallen into the wrong hands, could have easily been a tear-jerking sad fest.  It rings the heart strings of the audience, but doesn’t use the abuse the film’s sensitive, tragic topic.

It’s definitely one of the year’s best, and definitely worth seeing.

Author: dky1

A graduated (but still caffeinated) student. I write mostly politics and movie reviews in the Third Cup blog, and some fiction, short stories, and gaming journal on the Loner's Diaries blog.

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