Best Picture Profile: Dallas Buyers Club

dallas buyers club

 

Directed by: Jean-Marc Vallee
Written by: Craig Borten, Melisa Wallack
Produced by: Robbie Brenner, Rachel Winter
Runtime: 117 minutes

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Dallas Buyers Club is about Ron Woodroof, a homophobic electrician-rodeo during the 1980s, who was diagnosed with AIDS after having unprotected sex with a prostitute. Because the cure for the said illness is not yet available to the public, Woodroof teams up with HIV-positive trans woman Rayon, a fellow patient that he met in the hospital. Together, they deliver unapproved drugs from Mexico to the United States that Woodroof himself has proven to improve his health. Though hesitant at first, their doctor, Eve Saks, eventually cooperates with them to be able to help more AIDS-stricken patients.

I remember not immediately trusting this film to get the Best Picture nomination just because there were other films that had more buzz (Saving Mr. Banks and Inside Llewyn Davis, to be exact) and it was as if the buzz for the film is concentrated on the performances of Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto. True enough, the film heavily relies on the performance of its actors. Comparison with the 2000 Best Picture nominee Erin Brockovich was made and it is definitely understandable. Once in a while, there comes a film that is above average but is lifted by its strong performances. This is true with the case of this film.

While I am not seeing anything completely remarkable about the execution, one must notice the visible control and sincere treatment of the material. Having a topic of sensitive nature, the film was able to smartly shift focus from the nonacceptance and denial of the main character to the very believable change in the character and how it reflects through the orchestration of the film elements, resulting into a film that is chiseled so well, you can clearly see the story in Woodroof’s point of view. The power of the film to replicate his experience, physically and emotionally, and then transfer the perspective to the audience signifies the intelligence and earnestness invested in the over-all vision of the film.

The screenplay sustains the character arcs of the three main characters that are very important in the narrative because the flow of the story is heavily reliant on the characters, especially Woodroof’s interactions with Rayon and Dr. Saks. This is a very much a character-driven story, and there is a smooth flow in how the events are laced together to anchor a whole character transformation of the central character. The screenplay vividly places details to these characters that were ultimately used by the actors to reach the maximum potential of the narrative, it being a real character piece whose life relies on the emotional and psychological journey of the characters.

dallas buyers clubThe film is also technically sound, having a cinematography that prefers visual engagement over picturesque images, film editing that absorbs the viewers into the images, as well as the sparsity of the musical score that helps in creating the atmosphere of rawness in the film. Non-diegetic music only plays in specific scenes, to great effect. Effective sound design is also present to further evoke the deteriorating health condition of Woodroof. The film has also been noted for its effective makeup and hairstyling, and rightfully so. They were able to highlight the realistic physical process of decay Woodroof and Rayon experiences.

As stated earlier, the film heavily relies on the strength of the performances of the actors, and the ensemble does not let the film down.

Jennifer Garner fares well as Dr. Eve Saks, the initially hesitant doctor of Woodroof and Rayon that ultimately becomes a passive supporter of their actions. While the two other actors definitely grabs the attention for the most of the film, Garner has the responsibility to thread together the key points of the narrative without trying to compete with McConaughey and Leto. She silently puts together a cohesive portrayal of a change of heart that is not as evident as Woodroof’s but one that is also significant to propel the orientation of the other characters.

Jared Leto, despite getting a very showy role of Rayon, a transgendered woman, surprises with his vulnerability to portray the looming tragedy of Rayon by utilizing well-timed acting choices without succumbing to self-pity. Here is a performance that has little screentime, but whose presence in the narrative provides the trajectory in the story as well as the impact of the story aside from Woodroof’s own journey. Leto highlights Rayon as a person whose resilience can only do so much because of his ailing health, and the struggle is visible. By painting a very distinct canvas of a person in the story, Leto is able to create an intriguing and devastating human being out of a very short amount of time.

Much has been said about Mathew McConaughey’s performance as Ron Woodroof, and I would not say anything but it is really an exceptional work. His capacity to carry his character’s dimensions without clouding the film with excessive showing off provides for a very strong, controlled, and powerful portrayal of survival and will to live amid challenges. Being able to throw in potent dramatic punches in well placed scenes in the film, McCounaughey gets the vulnerability of Woodroof’s condition and the hostility he uses to mask the inner turmoil in the character. The result is a textured, captivating, and spirited portrait of Ron Woodroof, together with all the likable and unlikable characteristics of the character that provides for a multi-dimensional character.

The performances, especially McCounaughey’s, are unquestionably fantastic, and the film gives the cast the ample amount of opportunities for them to actually deliver the different layers that are present both in the characters they play and in the narrative they belong to. The film itself fares well, with a clean-cut narrative that is able to engage the audience throughout the entire time. This is an intelligently made film that is built around the performances, and it is not a wrong move.

For this, the film gets:

4

Agree or disagree?

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INTRODUCTION – Best Motion Picture: 2013

Without further ado, the next yer will be 2013.

Something must be said about this year. Not only this had one of the tightest race for the Best Picture in recent memory (three frontrunners – 12 Years A Slave, American Hustle, and Gravity), but also one of the most unpredictable set of nominees (this was the year when Saving Mr. Banks, Inside Llewyn Davis, Blue Jasmine, among many other films, almost made it as a Best Picture nominee).

Aside from the frontrunners, the rest of the nominees include an action thriller about a pirate attack, a biopic about a homophobic man-turned-drug dealer for AIDS cure, a sci-fi romance drama about a man’s relationship with an OS, a black comedy about an old man thinking he won a million dollars, another biopic about a devout Catholic woman in search for her son, and probably one of Martin Scorsese’s most polarizing work – a comedy about money, drugs, and sex.

There you go. So, here are the nominees:

slate

12 Years A Slave

American Hustle

Captain Phillips

Dallas Buyers Club

Gravity

Her

Nebraska

Philomena

The Wolf of Wall Street

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Which film would win this one?

The arrangement of the profiles will be by lottery, then the last profile would be the Best Picture winner, 12 Years A Slave.

Would I go with the Academy’s choice? Or would I go with an another nominee? Make your predictions now!

FINAL PREDICTIONS! (for the 86th Academy Awards Nominations)

Here is my fearless forecast of the nominees for the 86th Academy Awards!
(Those in bold are my predicted nominees. Entries are arranged by the strongest chance of getting nominated.)
The leading contenders for Best Picture - 12 Years A Slave, Gravity, and American Hustle.

The leading contenders for Best Picture – 12 Years A Slave, Gravity, and American Hustle.

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BEST PICTURE (I’m counting NINE nominees):
Safe Bets:
1 – 12 Years A Slave
2 – American Hustle
3 – Gravity
4 – Nebraska
5 – Captain Philips

Shaky, But Likely the Ones to Complete the List:
6 – Her
7 – The Wolf of Wall Street
8 – Inside Llewyn Davis
9 – Dallas Buyers Club

They Could Knock Down the Shakier Ones:
10 – Philomena
11 – Saving Mr. Banks
12 – Lee Daniels’ The Butler
13 – Blue Jasmine
14 – Rush

Longer Shots, But Possible Spoilers:
15 – Before Midnight
16 – Blue is the Warmest Color
17 – Fruitvale Station

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BEST DIRECTOR

Safe Bets:
1 – Alfonso Cuaron – Gravity
2 – Steve McQueen – 12 Years A Slave
3 – David O. Russell – American Hustle

Fighting for the Slots:
4 – Paul Greengrass – Captain Philips
5 – Spike Jonze – Her
6 – Alexander Payne – Nebraska
7 – Martin Scorsese – The Wolf of Wall Street
8 – Joel & Ethan Coen – Inside Llewyn Davis

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BEST ACTOR

Safe Bets:
1 – Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years A Slave
2 – Bruce Dern – Nebraska
3 – Tom Hanks – Captain Philips

Fighting for the Slots:
4 – Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club
5 – Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf of Wall Street
6 – Robert Redford – All is Lost
7 – Oscar Isaac – Inside Llewyn Davis
8 – Christian Bale – American Hustle
9 – Forest Whitaker – Lee Daniels’ The Butler

Longer Shots, But Possible Spoilers:
10 – Joaquin Phoenix – Her
11 – Michael B. Jordan – Fruitvale Station

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BEST ACTRESS

Safe Bets:
1 – Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine
2 – Sandra Bullock – Gravity
3 – Emma Thompson – Saving Mr. Banks

Fighting for the Slots:
4 – Meryl Streep – August: Osage County
5 – Amy Adams – American Hustle
6 – Judi Dench – Philomena
7 – Adele Exarchopoulos – Blue is the Warmest Color

Longer Shots, But Possible Spoilers:
8 – Greta Gerwig – Frances Ha
9 – Brie Larson – Short Term 12
10 – Julie Delpy – Before Midnight

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BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Safe Bets:
1 – Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club
2 – Michael Fassbender – 12 Years A Slave

Fighting for the Slots:
3 – Barkhad Abdi – Captain Philips
4 – Bradley Cooper – American Hustle
5 – Daniel Bruhl – Rush
6 – Jonah Hill – The Wolf of Wall Street
7 – James Gandolfini – Enough Said
8 – Will Forte – Nebraska
9 – Tom Hanks – Saving Mr. Banks

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BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Safe Bets:
1 – Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years A Slave
2 – Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle
3 – June Squibb – Nebraska

Fighting for the Slots:
4 – Oprah Winfrey – Lee Daniels’ The Butler
5 – Julia Roberts – August: Osage County
6 – Sally Hawkins – Blue Jasmine
7 – Octavia Spencer – Fruitvale Station

Longer Shots, But Possible Spoilers:
8 – Jennifer Garner – Dallas Buyers Club
9 – Sarah Paulson – 12 Years A Slave

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BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Safe Bets:
1 – American Hustle
2 – Nebraska
3 – Inside Llewyn Davis
4 – Her

Fighting for the Slots:
5 – Blue Jasmine
6 – Gravity
7 – Dallas Buyers Club
8 – Saving Mr. Banks

Longer Shots, But Possible Spoilers:
9 – Enough Said
10 – Frances Ha
11 – Fruitvale Station

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BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Safe Bets:
1 – 12 Years A Slave
2 – The Wolf of Wall Street
3 – Before Midnight
4 – Captain Philips
5 – Philomena

Longer Shots, But Possible Spoilers:
6 – August: Osage County
7 – Short Term 12
8 – The Spectacular Now
9 – Blue is the Warmest Color

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BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Safe Bets:
1 – Gravity
2 – Inside Llewyn Davis
3 – 12 Years A Slave

Fighting for the Slots:
4 – Prisoners
5 – Nebraska
6 – The Grandmaster
7 – The Great Gatsby
8 – Her

Longer Shots, But Still Possible:
9 – Captain Philips
10 – Rush

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BEST FILM EDITING

Safe Bets:
1 – Gravity
2 – 12 Years A Slave
3 – American Hustle
4 – Captain Philips

Fighting for the Last Slot:
5 – The Wolf of Wall Street
6 – Rush
7 – Nebraska
8 – Inside Llewyn Davis

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BEST SOUND MIXING

Safe Bets:
1 – Gravity
2 – Captain Philips
3 – 12 Years A Slave
4 – Rush

Fighting for the  Last Slot:
5 – Inside Llewyn Davis
6 – All is Lost
7 – American Hustle

Longer Shots, But Possible Spoilers:
8 – Lone Survivor
9 – Pacific Rim
10 – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

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BEST SOUND EDITING

Safe Bets:
1 – Gravity
2 – Captain Philips
3 – Rush

Fighting for the Slots:
4 – All is Lost
5 – Iron Man 3
6 – Inside Llewyn Davis

Longer Shots, But Possible Spoilers:
7 – Pacific Rim
8 – 12 Years A Slave
9 – Lone Survivor
10 – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

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BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Safe Bets:
1 – Gravity
2 – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Fighting for the Slots:
3 – Pacific Rim
4 – Star Trek Into Darkness
5 – Iron Man 3
6 – Elysium
7 – World War Z
8 – The Lone Ranger

Longer Shots (The Rest of the Shortlist):
9 – Oblivion
10 – Thor: The Dark World

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BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

Safe Bet:
1 – American Hustle

Fighting for the Slots:
2 – Dallas Buyers Club
3 – The Great Gatsby
4 – The Lone Ranger
5 – Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
6 – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Long Shot (The Rest of the Shortlist):
7 – Bad Grandpa

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BEST ORIGINAL MUSIC SCORE

Safe Bets:
1 – Gravity
2 – 12 Years A Slave
3 – Philomena

Fighting for the Last Slot:
4 – The Book Thief
5 – All is Lost

6 – Captain Philips
7 – Rush
8 – Her
9 – Monsters University

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BEST ORIGINAL SONG

Safe Bet:
1 – “Let It Go” – Frozen

Fighting for the Slots:
2 – “Young and Beautiful” – The Great Gatsby
3 – “My Lord Sunsine (Sunrise)” – 12 Years A Slave
4 – “The Moon Song” – Her
5 – “Amen” – All is Lost
6 – “Atlas” – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
7 – “Monsters University” – Monsters University

Longer Shots, But Possible Spoilers:
8 – “Shine Your Way” – The Croods
9 – “Sweeter than Fiction” – One Chance

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BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

Safe Bets:
1 – 12 Years A Slave
2 – Gravity
3 – American Hustle
4 – The Great Gatsby
5 – Saving Mr. Banks

Possible Spoilers:
6 – Her
7 – Inside Llewyn Davis
8 – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

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BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Safe Bets:
1 – Saving Mr. Banks
2 – American Hustle
3 – The Great Gatsby
4 – Inside Llewyn Davis
5 – 12 Years A Slave

Possible Spoilers:
6 – The Invisible Woman
7 – Lee Daniels’ The Butler
8 – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

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BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

Safe Bets:
1 – Frozen
2 – The Wind Rises
3 – Monsters University
4 – The Croods
5 – Ernest & Celestine

Possible Spoilers:
6 – Epic
7 – A Letter to Momo

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BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

Safe Bets:
1 – The Act of Killing
2 – 20 Feet from Stardom
3 – Stories We Tell

Fighting for the Slots:
4 – The Square
5 – Blackfish
6 – Tim’s Vermeer
7 – The Armstrong Lie

Longer Shots, But Possible Spoilers:
8 – Cutie and the Boxer
9 – God Loves Uganda

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BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

Safe Bets:
1 – The Hunt – Denmark
2 – The Broken Circle Breakdown – Belgium
3 – The Great Beauty – Italy

Fighting for the Slots:
4 – The Grandmaster – Hong Kong
5 – The Notebook – Hungary
6 – Two Lives – Germany
7 – Omar – Palestime
8 – The Missing Picture – Cambodia

Long Shot:
9 – An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker – Bosnia & Herzegovina

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Comments and discussions below!