I snuck in a watching of Dallas Buyers’ Club just hours before the 2014 Academy Awards and I’m glad I did. It was worth it to see what film carried both the years Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor.
After the watch, it was apparent that Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto both put in performances worthy of the industry’s highest awards. It was also apparent that the movie itself was nowhere near that mark.
I was happy to see the actors’ take home dual Oscars. My belief is that the film really only deserved a Best Picture nomination because of those two’s work.
Here’s a few reasons why
- Jennifer Garner certainly didn’t help any. She was unconvincing as a doctor. Unaware of a strange and wavering southern accent. And, worst of all, just unable to keep up with the strong acting happening around here. She nearly derailed some scenes with both actors, but the one on ones with McConaughey almost blew the raw intensity of his performance (mostly, his charm).
- The direction was incredibly sloppy. The movie dragged its feet in some places, while skipping forward to fast in others. Scenes simply existed that didn’t need to. An example: McConaughey’s character is, well, having some alone time with himself when he’s interfered with by some pictures that Leto’s character put up on the wall. McConaughey’s character at this point had started his progression toward a better understanding (his character’s personal growth and achievement), yet still he tore down the pictures, muttered a few curses and the scene cut. It was a scene that neither advanced the plot nor the characters, and we just simply don’t need those.
- There were just simply too many plotholes. One big one is that Ron keeps mentioning research he has and has been a part of, but the movie never really shows us this avenue. To contextualize, DBC is far, far more of an Erin Brokovich type vigiliante quest than a movie about equality (a la Milk for instance). This is incongruent with Woodruff’s move as a more enlightened man while the movie takes more on about bureaucratic threatening the FDA brings than the coming together of a society around an issue of life and death.
These movies exist everywhere and in fact are probably what makes great movies great movies. 12 Years A Slave both won Best Picture and had each of its main cast members nominated for their respective awards. DBC just simply wasn’t a movie that would stand without the performances of its two leading men.
It was worth watching. Leto’s performance in particular will be one I cannot shake from the radar of great acting and won’t be able to for years to come. The movie gave him the vehicle and that has to mean something, right?