August: Osage County movie review
I think that the lack of love August: Osage County for simply boils down to the fact that this film much closer to melodrama than the hard drama (like Mystic River… although that lost to Return of the King, so go figure…) that gets the Academy members all hot and bothered. (Sure, the Academy has excepted borderline melodrama in the past such as Crash, but that movie took place in LA and had a lot of scope, while AOC is a much more linear flick and it’s idea of scope is a few brief underwater shots.) But yeah, this flick is kinda melodramatic (if a line such as "It doesn’t mean anything compared with what you have in your heart" shows up in your movie, people are going to tag it melodrama); one thing after another keeps happening, secret after secret is revealed; and then there’s the yelling, yelling and more yelling. The story also isn’t super tight; for example – SPOILERS!!! – the thread regarding Benedict Cumberbatch and Julianne Nicholson’s characters isn’t especially well tied off. What happens to them? What is Cumberbatch’s character’s reaction to this latest revelation? (Which, for him, will be a double revelation…) Anyway, yeah, not the tightest of stories, but all of these things weren’t a problem for me. I don’t think being melodramatic is bad, but there are people who do think it’s a cinematic sin.
I also feel that there’s always the desire for some folks to find chinks in a knight’s armor and in this case, Meryl Streep is in a movie that isn’t perfect in every conceivable way and the critics were expecting this to be a perfect movie. The original stage version of August: Osage County was well received and this film has an all star cast – and, the film was released in December 27, just under the wire for the 2014 Oscars. This is the studio’s way of telling the Academy, "Hey – we’ve got something here and we don’t want to release it early in 2014 and have everyone forget about it by next winter." And then the movie turns out to be somewhat melodramatic, so the critics see a chance to rip on a movie with Hollywood All Star Meryl Streep and maybe the Academy feels like The Weinstein Company sorta wasted their time.
Anyway, that’s why I think this movie has a 65% on Rotten Tomatoes and didn’t get nominated for best picture – and the Academy left a slot open, too, just to pour salt in the wound.
Let me be clear, because I feel like I’m dumping on this flick: if you like movies, you should certainly check out August: Osage County. Meryl Streep is awesome as always, and, while I reject the whole "Julia Roberts is sooooooooo beautiful!" narrative, this is easily the best performance I’ve ever seen her give, and, not even just measured against herself, but, against everyone on earth, it’s a great performance that’s worth seeing. Benedict Cumberbatch flies under the radar, but he’s great in this, too – Khan, dragons, Sherlock – this guy can do it all. I’m giving August: Osage County an 8 out of 10. It’s really good, but it’s certainly not perfect.