Gabrielle Tana, Steve Coogan and Tracey Seaward

“Philomena” is the true story of one Philomena Lee, an elderly woman who, for fifty years, kept a secret about having a son that was taken from her by nuns and adopted off to America for money. Now, paired up with a journalist, they follow the clues that could lead Philomena into find her long lost son. The film is extremely emotional and sees not only the strife that this woman faced through flashbacks, but also contains a humor, especially from Steve Coogan, who is a comedian by trade, providing an extremely great balance between the two emotions. That being said, “Philomena” does not stand a chance against the big three in the Best Picture category this year and is really the surprise nomination. With no stock in the Best Director race, it would take a miracle for this film to win. However, do not detract that this is not a film worth seeing, because that would be a mistake. “Philomena” is still a great film filled with great writing and great performances, definitely earning the other awards it is nominated for.

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Judi Dench

Nominated Role: Judi Dench plays Philomena, a woman searching for the child she was forced to give up for adoption years ago.

Philomena-JudiDenchJudi Dench gives a powerhouse performance as Philomena Lee. At almost 80 years old, herself, she still has complete control over her performance and delivers some of the strongest emotions of the year, using her eyes to portray her feelings far better than her words. Slightly stumbling on the comedic portions of the film, like the moments where she’s annoyingly describing a book to Coogan’s character, she does waver slightly, but with great dominance as the face of this film, she carries it with ease. Sadly, in a year with several great performances, Cate Blanchett all but has this category locked up with her amazingly strong and memorable performance in Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine”. But Dench, grabbing her seventh Academy Award nomination proves significant and even though she has yet to win one of the Oscars, she shows little sign of stopping her outstanding performances any time soon.

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Screenplay by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope

Adapting the real life book, written by Martin Sixsmith, entitled “The Lost Child of Philomena Lee”, Steve Coogan, who plays Martin provides his witty and comedic banter to the film, allowing for some comical moments among the touching true life aspects of the film. Coogan is also a producer for the film, bringing this to two Oscar nominations while Jeff Pope garners his first, but this is where it will end for the pair, as my money will likely be on “12 Years A Slave”, which will possibly be taking Best Picture as well.

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Alexandre Desplat

Philomena-originalscoreA film’s score should capture the same aura that the film expresses. It should capture all the emotions and angles of the film in a lyrical fashion and deliver what the audience should be feeling throughout the film. If you’ve ever watched a film without a score, you know how empty the film can feel. Alexandre Desplat does an amazing job of capturing the tones of the film through his compositions, providing an audible rendition of the witty, comic side of the film while also touching on the sad, emotional side as well. With five previous Oscar nominations (“The Queen” (2006), “The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button” (2008), “Fantastic Mr. Fox” (2009), “The King’s Speech” (2010), and “Argo” (2012)), Desplat is no stranger to Academy Award winning Best Pictures, but unfortunately he faces some of the best in the business including John Williams for “The Book Thief” and Thomas Newman for “Saving Mr. Banks”, as well as one of this year’s favorite film, “Gravity”, Desplat has his work cut out for him. Never say never, but the chances of him winning are unlikely.

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// Produced by Gabrielle Tana, Steve Coogan and Tracey Seaward // Directed by Stephen Frears //

// Dated Viewed: Sunday, January 19th, 2014 // Laemmle’s Playhouse 7 //  38 films – 42 days //

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