1) Captain Phillips:
2) Twelve Years a Slave
The Academy got it right as far as I'm concerned. Based on a true story about a black free man taken from his home in the North and sold to a Southern plantation, this one is lyrical, enraging, beautiful, frightful, and ultimately satisfying. Not for the faint of heart, and definitely not for those who have issues watching realistic history. 5 out of 5
Might be the best movie I've seen in years, but this is not for everyone. Adult children of parents who are slowly losing their ability to take care of themselves will find this movie funny, sad, and all too truthful. Bruce Dern at his very best and a surprising cast all around. There are moments that are laugh out loud funny, but viewers under a certain age are just not going to get it. And yes, it's in Black and White. Deal. 5 out of 5
4) Wolf of Wall Street
Who doesn't love Leo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill? They're somewhat endearing in this otherwise foul, drug laced, just-this-side-of porn biopic about an up and comer on Wall Street in the 90's. I found the profanity, drug use, and nudity to be so pervasive it actually numbed me. Too much is too much. And setting a record for f-bombs does not make a great picture. Very good performances keep you in the movie in spite of it all. This could have been brilliant if they hadn't been so focused on being awful. 3.5 out of 5.
5) Dallas Buyers Club
Whatever your opinions about homosexuality or the AIDS epidemic might be, you cannot deny the performances in this movie are outstanding. Matthew McConaughey is, in my opinion, a horrible actor, but somehow he is brilliant here and Jared Leto made me cry. Not for the weak of heart, and definitely not for children. Drug use and language are pervasive, and there is a smattering of nudity. 4.5 out of 5.
6) American Hustle
Best cast of any of the nominated movies, but the worst picture of the bunch. The plot is a mess and is very reliant on Amy Adams' wardrobe, which is very reliant on no bra and plunging necklines and sheer materials. One wonders why they gave her a top at all. Every does their best but honestly, half an hour in I asked, out loud, "Does this movie ever get better?" My son, who is a GIANT Jennifer Lawrence fan said, "no." (Jennifer Lawrence has the one really inspired scene, but check out the scene on Youtube...Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle, dish washing gloves.) Half the time I don't know who is who. So much time is spent on everyone congratulating each other for their hair styles. And there's a dance scene...well, let's say I know who I'd pick between Amy Adams and Bradley Cooper for a partner in "Dancing with Stars" and it won't be the stilted, stiff Adams. Frankly, I expect better of a cast that includes Christian Bale, and I expect better of a movie that's nominated for an Oscar. 2 out of 5.
So I've seen six of the nine and those are my quick reviews. Hey, it's just one writer's opinion.