“The best one-liner in Leviathan comes in the opening credits,” the New Yorker’s Anthony Lane noted in his review of the Russian entry for best foreign language picture at this year’s Oscars. “Reportedly, as much as 35 percent of the budget was supplied by government funding. This is like Kazakhstan using oil revenues to pay for Borat.”
Blackhat opens in China, where a hacker has infiltrated the computer system of a nuclear power plant. He destroys the pumps that manage the cooling system, causing the plant to overheat and explode. But it’s unclear why he does this. No demands are made, no political motivations offered. A short time later, the same code is used to infiltrate and manipulate a futures market in America. Whoever is on the other end of the keyboard makes off with about $76 million in winnings.
We’re now in Oscar season, when we’re treated to period films with big messages, prestige dramas with serious points. The Imitation Game, Unbroken, Selma, Theory of Everything: some or all of these films will rack up nominations at the Academy Awards. And they are totally fine, perfectly competent films. I’d expect a late push for Selma—aesthetically on par with a decent television movie, featuring a few stirring performances and no memorable images—thanks to its timeliness. I mean, the film literally closes with a song that has a line about Ferguson. How can that not win?
Imagine Moses as a high-level bureaucratic functionary who has a bit of skill with the sword and a petulant, invisible God-child telling him he’s not working hard enough to free his people before showing him up with bloody miracles that make his penny-ante guerilla warfare look like small potatoes. That’s Exodus: Gods and Kings.
In Wild, Reese Witherspoon stars as Cheryl Strayed. We join as she embarks on a hiking trip along the Pacific Crest Trail. She’s a novice, struggling to lift her absurdly overstuffed pack after spending one last night in a hotel, her final evening in civilization. As she gathers her gear, we see flashbacks of Cheryl in another seedy motel somewhere (and some-when), freebasing heroin and engaging in degrading sex.