Saturday, January 23, 2016

Steve Jobs - 2 nominations

Actor in a Lead Role - Michael Fassbender
Actress in a Supporting Role - Kate Winslet

"It's not binary.  You can be gifted and decent at the same time."  Seth Rogan's character, Steve "Woz" Wozniak captures the essence of the lesson learned from Steve Jobs' life.  Does it matter to us whether he was a good, kind, decent person when we are tapping apps and swiping right or left on our iPhones?  We probably don't and moreover, many of us idolize Steve Jobs, the visionary who changed the way we live our lives.  We have access to the sum of human knowledge in our pockets and purses.  But this very real biopic reminds us that Jobs was a more complicated person than just the stereotypical inspired genius.  

This film takes us backstage at major points in Apple's history during iconic product launches, and that's where most of the story unfolds.  It was a fascinating way to shape the triumphs and the flops that followed Steve's career and personal life, and Kate Winslet, as his Jiminy Cricket confidante and conscience portrays the role that a handful of close colleagues played in his life, even as he abused and pushed the people around him to achieve the unachievable.

Though it wasn't nominated, I thought the original score was a real highlight of the film, and I suspect that with more campaigning, it could have had a place in the top 5.

Now to the controversial.  I have expressed in prior blogs this year that I'm frustrated that a few key leading actor performances were snubbed in favor of these five nominees.  With that frustration, I believe that I have to own who I would replace in the top 5 and I'm sorry to say that I would replace Michael Fassbender in this category.  I suppose that biopics are great fodder for Oscar nominations as we seek performances that are neither caricatures nor dead on impressions of the real life person.  We want an actor to embrace the essence of the person.  In general, I think Michael Fassbender did achieve that goal but I still wouldn't put it in the top 5 performances of the year.

Still, I left the theatre very satisfied.  It was clear that the story was more inspired by real life events than a reflection of how events actually transpired, but the screenplay did an admirable job of interpreting Steve Jobs' official biography into a good solid story.

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