Today we will look at two of the more controversial movies in the Best Picture category. David (our classic movie connoisseur) looks at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s biopic Selma, and Sara (YouTube sensation!) discusses the emotional gravity of Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper.
Selma is the first major motion picture made about Dr. King and the work he did. Given that, and the fact of King’s status in the history of this country, one should pay attention. But when it comes to the Oscars, there is more to this than King’s status as a leader against racism. The movie itself is a moving and honest portrayal of both a time — the 1960s — a movement — civil rights — and a man. The virtues (and the flaws) of these various elements are shown, though it’s always clear which side history is on, especially from the perspective of 50 years on. Some have complained that some of the details, historically speaking, are wrong; as a non-historian, I can’t make judgments on that, other than to point out it is a movie and not a documentary. One can always hope that a movie of this kind will send audiences to their history books. Finally, the acting is wonderful, the irony being that three of the major roles are played by British actors. But never fear: they convince us.
— David from KDL’s Plainfield Township Branch
American Sniper, an Oscar Nominee in six categories, is breaking every record! In just its first three weeks of nation-wide release, it eclipsed Saving Private Ryan to become the biggest war-themed film of all time and topped $250 million in sales by the close of Super Bowl weekend! This unprecedented feat explains why it is in the running for the Oscar’s Best Motion Picture of the Year award. Clint Eastwood has already won 2015 Best Director for Sniper from the National Board of Review, and star Bradley Cooper was named the 2015 Critic’s Choice Award for Best Actor in an Action Movie. Cooper is also an Oscar nominee for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role.
We librarians love to see a book-to-movie well received by the public, especially when the book, American Sniper: the Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History, is powerful enough to capture the attention of even the most reluctant reader. The seamless portrayal of the book’s storyline makes the film an obvious contender for Best Adapted Screenplay, as well as for the Achievement in Film Editing award. Eastwood and Cooper went to extremes to conceptualize and properly portray the life and experience of Chris Kyle, his men and his family in this film. Viewers are given a glimpse into the turmoil and conflict American soldiers struggle with, as devotion to family and dedication to greater service often pull them to extremes, mentally and emotionally.
As powerful as the visuals are, it may be the Achievement in Sound Editing and Achievement in Sound Mixing awards that truly give credence to the absolute impact of this film. Many theaters showing Sniper have literally been packed to capacity — not one open seat. Yet, you will not hear a sound from the audience. From the start, viewers feel they are part of the action, caught up in the conflict and intensity unfolding before them, and the audio serves to amplify the emotion of each moment. Viewers are left stunned at the conclusion, trickling out of the theater deep in thought, conscientious of the sacrifices made by our veterans, and hopefully, more aware of the struggles many are facing today.
Whether or not American Sniper is proclaimed a winner in any of the six Oscar categories remains to be seen, but it has definitely been proclaimed a winner by the American public!
— Sara from KDL’s Nelson Township / Sand Lake Branch