Oscars Countdown 2014 - Dallas Buyers Club

Ensign Lestat's Oscars Countdown, 20/01/2014

The Oscar nominations are out and speculation, outrage and anticipation are rife. I myself have mixed feelings about this year's noms - but then again I have mixed feelings about the nominations every year (barring last year, where I couldn't care less because a film as astonishingly poor as 'Silver Linings Playbook' had a shot at the big prize, and don't get me started on Jennfier Lawrence's eventual win).

Okay, that rant has been waiting a long time. Moving on. This year the variety is greater and more inclusive. On paper the nominations look good and strong, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating, as they say. My interest has been piqued and I'm going to try my level best to watch as many Oscar nominees as possible (not including documentaries and shorts, as those are never going to make it to where I live, I'll have to wait for the VOD releases). So, here goes.

'Dallas Buyers Club'

Nominations - Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor (Matthew McConaughey), Best Supporting Actor (Jared Leto), Film Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling
I was hesitant to watch this film and would have passed it by had it not been nominated. I kid you not, I was sure it would be too upsetting to watch. But, the Oscars were a good impetus.

Briefly, the film follows the true story of Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) who discovers he has HIV and then contracts AIDS. The prescribed medicine is actually making things worse, so he starts his own 'Buyers Club' - a not exactly legal or authorised seller of prescription medicines. On the way he meets transvestite Rayon (Jared Leto) and they form an unlikely bond. On their side, but unable to aid them, is Dr. Eve (Jennifer Garner). It's a robust tale of endurance and spirit and injustice. The bottomline being that we are all at the mercy of the 'man' who decides everything for us - what we eat, what can help us, etc. 

All in all, the film is very accomplished - it doesn't blatantly preach or tell us what to think. It scores with its brilliant all-round performances, especially Leto, who disappears into the role of Rayon. He adds heart and spirit to his role. He's already bagged a Golden Globe and a SAG award for this performance, which bodes well for his Oscar hopes. I have not seen the other nominated performances, so I can't root for him, yet.

Here's a few things I'm surprised by. The film doesn't come across as outstanding. It's been nominated for a fair few big categories as mentioned above, but nothing about the film stood out for me. The storytelling was conventional, in fact it reminded me a lot of the 2011 film 'Puncture', which also dealt with a drug-addled man taking on the authorities. Okay, they're not similar, but they felt similar. But 'Puncture' was a small indie flick that hardly got noticed, whereas this one's up for the Oscars. I am surprised. I'm not knocking it, believe me. But it just didn't scream Oscar-worthy. For the actors, yes. The two male leads went through extraordinary transformations to look believable as AIDS sufferers. I commend them for their dedication. I am not sure if McConaughey will eventually get the Oscar, he did just bag a SAG. But, I am overjoyed for Leto (I do not know why). I still reserve my judgement till I've watched a majority of the nominees.

But, yes, I'm still not sure if it's worthy of the big noms. Or is it that there were just no other contenders? Well, I know I was rooting for a few other films, which didn't get a look in. This film is well-made and a must-watch. But, does it do anything different than tell an important story? I don't think so. It's a good film, but it doesn't make an impact on the cinematic world.


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