Editor’s note: This is part of a 37-part series dissecting the 86th Academy Awards, brought to you by the Large Association of Movie Blogs and its assorted members. Nearly every day leading up to the Oscars, at least one new post written by a different LAMB will be published, each covering a different category of the Oscars. Also, every Best Picture and Best Director nominee gets its own post. To read the other posts regarding this event, please click here. Thank you, and enjoy!
BEST DIRECTOR: STEVE MCQUEEN
By Alex Withrow of And So It Begins…
Steve McQueen gets a lot of flak for being Steve McQueen. His name is synonymous with his attitude, which is often received as brash and antagonistic. A guy who makes fearless, unflinching art, but dares not be bothered with questions as to why he makes it. Some are troubled by this. In fact, most all the media profiles on McQueen since the critical and commercial success of his 12 Years a Slave have focused on McQueen’s attitude during the interview itself, rather than the quality of the film.And that’s the thing: too many people are concerned with the man, when we should be focused on the art. Because what fine, flawless, important art it is. His first feature film, Hunger, is one of the finest cause films ever made. The film weaves through different character perspectives with little zero devotion to the ones before, before finally resting on Bobby Sands, who dared to literally die for a cause he believed in. It’s a brash, antagonistic, unflinching, and fearless debut feature.His next picture, Shame, chronicles a man’s struggle with addiction in a way rarely seen. It’s all the dread and sorrow and heartbreak, and none of the catharsis. We’re never quite sure where Brandon Sullivan and his sister came from, and we’ll never really know where they’re going. Shame is, in my humble opinion, the finest film made in the last 10 years. Other things that film is: brash, antagonistic, unflinching, fearless.Now we have 12 Years a Slave, McQueen’s most accessible and important film yet. To label the movie as the best portrayal of American slavery ever filmed is to do 12 Years a Slave a slight injustice. The film is so infinitely superior to other slavery films, that the comparison seems incomparable. Some have called the film safe, a fair statement, if taken only in the context of McQueen’s other films. Yes, 12 Years a Slave is the safest picture McQueen has made, but when judged next to nearly all other films this year, 12 Years a Slave is as brash, antagonistic, unflinching, and fearless as they come.Obviously, there are threads that link all of McQueen’s films. Beyond the bold nature of their stories, each of his films are presented without judgment. Instead of relying on technical trickery, McQueen often rests the camera on a tripod, thereby demanding that we, “Look, here, watch.” It’s an unsettling device; one that causes many viewers to feel unpleasant. Unpleasant. A word I’ve seen so frequently applied to McQueen’s personal demeanor. To that I ask, what do you expect? What do you expect of a man who makes such courageous art? McQueen’s films are extensions of his attitudes, to spend time judging the man instead of the work is simply futile. I’ve always liked Steve McQueen. I like that he doesn’t adhere to the demand of the Hollywood Glitz. I like that he doesn’t play the game. I also like that, following the success of 12 Years a Slave, he’s let his guard down a little. He smiles at awards
Tags: LAMB Devours The Oscars