I have seen all the major film nominees, so I thought it would be useful to you readers if I told you where I stood as we go into tonight's telecast. Here's how I would rank the nine best-picture nominees, from best to not:
"12 Years a Slave"
"Dallas Buyers Club"
"The Wolf of Wall Street"
"12 Years" is amazing, and should be required viewing for certain folks in Kansas, Arizona and other places who have not thought about the long-term consequences of treating any people as "the other." I am a huge Alexander Payne fan, and "Nebraska" is splendid. "Gravity" is a grand technological achievement tied to a suspenseful but still very simple story. "Dallas Buyers" works. "Captain Phillips" is tension-filled and has a remarkable closing scene which should have gotten Tom Hanks a nomination. "Philomena" sneaks up on you, especially in the performances by Steve Coogan and Judi Dench. "Her" is amusing, "American Hustle" a well-acted mess, "Wolf of Wall Street" overlong, crass and built on a central character who is conniving but not compelling.