Judy Dench and Steve Coogan in Philomena, one of only two films nominated for Best Picture of the year that fully impressed me.
Thanks to Netflix, I was able to watch all of the nine films that were nominated last year for Best Picture. I could hardly believe how awful most of them are. What were Academy voters thinking? There were, to be sure, two outstanding exceptions, shown in these photos, each finely wrought.
Facing a first date: Joaquin Phoenix in Her.
The two exceptions that won me completely over are Philomena, with Judy Dench, and Her, a brilliant and disturbing look into a future when human beings (what’s left of them) form virtual relationships with Operating Systems -- PC voices interacting with desperate electronic addicts. Given the astonishing evidence out there of a preference for digital interactions over in-the-flesh, I can actually see such a thing happening, and it turns my stomach.
Her is a scary, challenging, and provocative flick.
All the other seven, for a variety of reasons, left me bored, exasperated, or thoroughly turned off. A few, in fact, I did turn off. Perhaps, it was just a matter of finding them a very difficult lot to sit through.
And the experience made me appreciate what TV has to offer. Lately, I’ve finally given Big Bang Theory a chance, and what a blast. Some of the best writing ever for a comedy sit com. I love the very ordinary characters, even if Sheldon, were he not a sit com icon, would be under 24 hour psychiatric observation. Will he end up married to the female nerd? I doubt that.
I just discovered a big reality TV comedy contest called Wipe Out. Talk about obstacle addicts making ragged Ann and Andy flop dolls of themselves, across a maze of amusing obstacles. Just watching them, after missing a hurdle, getting tossed into water or mud, for me, amounts to a howling good laugh. No brains required. There’s that big rubbery sledge hammer thing that smacks them good when they fail to avoid it. And the two narrators sound like low key carnies in a shady penny arcade, providing a satire on sports casters in general. It's a hoot!
Downton Abby: Yes! Finally, I have fallen for Masterpiece Theatre, and in a big way. I rented every episode up to the one that I first saw. I'm also enjoying The Paradise. And as for Agatha Christie's Poirot, even though I often get tangled up in trying to keep track of too many characters, David Suchet, above, has created one of the most memorable characters in the history of drama. Just watching him carry on is a supreme pleasure.
Jeopardy is kind of interesting, even if I can't answer the vast majority of the questions. Alex Trevek should shave his newly acquired mustache, either that, or audition for a role on Masterpiece Theatre.
I imagine that are many more shows I would enjoy, were I to take the time to check them out. But I resist becoming a prisoner to TV. And, after all, I still watch movies from NetFlix, even if last year's acclaimed gems left me dumbfounded.