In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb mv5bnda4ymmwmgity2mzos00odjilthmzdetyza5ngu4zjq5yjhixkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynjk5nda3otk . v1 sy1000 cr0 0 674 1000 al

Geostorm

God knows how many millions of dollars and hours of manpower went into making and remaking Geostorm but it turns out to have been all…

Thumb same kind of different as me

Same Kind of Different as Me

It can be hard to disagree with the heart and events of this true tale, except for when the movie reveals itself to be mighty…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Chaz's Journal Archives
Other Articles
Blog Archives
Primary 75

Eric Kohn of Indiewire Discusses "Life Itself" Oscar Snub

Eric Kohn of Indiewire wrote the following about Steve James's documentary, "Life Itself," after its Oscar snub yesterday. To read his complete list of this year's Oscar snubs, click here.

The absence of "Life Itself," one of several awards season contenders left out of the fray, carried the sting of unexpected failure. As my colleague Peter Knegt wrote, the Academy has snubbed countless formidable achievements over the decades, from "Vertigo" to "Blue Velvet." Nevertheless, "Life Itself" seemed to follow a trajectory similar to "Boyhood": It landed to great acclaim at last year’s Sundance Film Festival and found distribution shortly afterward; like Linklater, director Steve James has been recognized for his achievements in the past but hasn’t been considered a serious Oscar contender since "Hoop Dreams." (His previous feature, the brilliant portrait of anti-violence activists "The Interrupters," wasn’t even shortlisted.) While the late arrival of Laura Poitras’ "CITIZENFOUR" seemed to upstage "Life Itself" as a frontrunner, James’ emotionally stirring tribute to Roger Ebert’s legacy never dropped out of the conversation. 

Advertisement

And here’s the thing: It doesn’t have to drop out of the conversation. If anything, today’s nominations eliminate the onus of conversations that tend to hijack the real reasons to care about any of these movies. "Life Itself" is a considerable accomplishment for James in that it tackles a topic that in the hands of a lesser director might feel too hagiographic or maudlin and instead offers a shrewd look at intellectual prowess. The movie works on a number of levels: It’s a story of how the world’s most famous critic got that way, vis-á-vis a history of American media in the latter half of the 20th century, but it’s also a love story and a stirring depiction of perseverance in the face of a terminal disease. James captured Ebert on his death bed and found a triumphant character in spite of his grim prognosis. 

Cancer movies are tough to pull off without pandering to audiences’ sentimental weak spots, but "Life Itself" manages to do so in congress with a delicate mixture of humor and philosophical inquiry about the nature of being alive. Ebert’s legacy was already assured, but "Life Itself" goes beyond saluting a famous name and explores minutae of his personality. It’s a movie about the interplay of ideas and humanity. You should watch it and you can, right now, on various digital platforms. Nominations don’t need to make that happen. 

Popular Blog Posts

"Blade Runner" vs. "Blade Runner 2049"

A Great Movie is hidden somewhere within "Blade Runner" and "Blade Runner 2049."

The Fall of Toxic Masculinity and the Rise of Feminine Consciousness

A special edition of Thumbnails detailing the recent sexual harassment cases in the entertainment and tech industries...

Oscars Could Be Facing Dearth of Diversity Yet Again

A column on the lack of diversity in this year's potential Oscar nominees.

Tears of a Machine: The Humanity of Luv in "Blade Runner 2049"

No character in “Blade Runner 2049” is more relatably human than Luv.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus