The following are my predictions for this year’s Oscars, as well as those of my friend and podcast partner Devin Mitchell. We composed our ballots separately. The similarities on our ballots are a reflection of the increasing predictability of the nominations in the age of the yearlong hype cycle.
On this episode of The M&M Report, Devin Mitchell and I discuss the notorious box-office bomb Steve Jobs, a big-budget prestige drama from a major studio that’s performing almost exactly the same as the 2013 indie drama Jobs (starring Ashton Freaking Kutcher).
Peruse the M&M Report category page for previous episodes of the podcast. Thanks for listening!
Steve Jobs was innovative, creative, driven, dogged and inestimably intelligent. But was he an interesting person?
Judging by Steve Jobs, a feature film meticulously scripted by Aaron Sorkin and studiously crafted by Danny Boyle, the answer is…maybe not? Kind of? It’s hard to tell what the filmmakers think, let alone what you’re supposed to after spending two hours with him. As enlivened with dazzling intensity by Michael Fassbender, the Jobs of this film vociferously berates his coworkers, belittles his female colleague and confidant Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet) and rejects all notions of responsible parenting. Yet by the end, he is redeemed, or at least validated.
The movie doesn’t provide insight into how he gets there, nor does it transcend the limitations of its genre. The first two acts set up a fascinating story of a man overcoming professional setbacks without even the barest hint of interpersonal skills, but the third act doesn’t nail the dismount. What’s left is a cheap and lazily rendered stab at sentimentality that’s supposed to make you feel bad for a guy who spent the previous two-thirds of the movie alienating everyone around him – and you. Instead, you just feel bad for the people who will accept this cop-out as honest.
Midway through X-Men: Days of Future Past, the seventh in a seemingly inexhaustible series of movies derived from Stan Lee’s X-Men comics, Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and Professor X (James McAvoy) are under threat from a group of men with guns in a high-security prison facility embedded deep below the Pentagon. They’re flanked by Quicksilver (Evan Peters), an upstart blessed with the power of unparalleled expedience. When it becomes clear that Magneto’s metal-bending and Professor X’s mind-melting won’t be enough to stop the suits from gunning them down, Quicksilver rolls up his sleeves and gets to work.
The result is the movie’s most wonderful sequence, a dazzling and witty exploration of a superhero’s power rendered with panache and style by director Bryan Singer. Time slows down so that the only thing moving at normal human speed is Quicksilver, who trots around the room rearranging the floating objects. With a flourish, he positions the bullets away from Magneto and Professor X, balls a man’s outstretched hand into a fist and even takes a moment to taste-test some soup. When Quicksilver is done, the scene snaps like a rubber band back into place, and the action resumes.
Click the link for this week’s episode.
This week on The M&M Report, Devin and I had lots to say about the remarkable new movie 12 Years a Slave, directed by Steve McQueen and starring Chiwetel Ejiofor. We discussed the movie’s approach to historically tricky subject matter, the searing performances and McQueen’s impressive command of visual storytelling. We both think this movie is more than worth seeing – it just might be essential.
(Note: we discussed the movie in general terms before getting into spoilers. If you’re on the fence about seeing this movie, listen to the first few minutes for our verdict.)
At the end, we simply couldn’t resist making room for a new feature: Devin Doesn’t Like Things. This week, Devin explains his true feelings about Halloween. Beware: he’s not a fan.
We’ve got lots of exciting things on the way in the next few weeks, including a return to music and a parade of guest stars certain to keep things interesting. We hope you’ll stick around!
Click through for the time breakdown.
Based on its pedigree and early reviews from the Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals, I’m eagerly anticipating 12 Years a Slave, Steve McQueen’s much-anticipated new film about a free black man (Chiweter Ejiofor) who endures horrendous treatment at the hands of a ruthless slave master (Michael Fassbender). In an article entitled “Your Best Picture Winner Will Be 12 Years a Slave“, Vulture’s Kyle Buchanan writes, “A century from now, when they put together a montage about the history of movies? They’ll put the film we just saw in the first ten seconds of that montage.” If this movie really is the Schindler’s List of slavery, as others have suggested, all the better.