Megan Ellison, Spike Jonze and Vincent Landay

“Her” was my favorite film of 2014. Not only is Joaquin Phoenix perfectly cast in the film, but the writing and production on screen is absolutely phenomenal. Capturing a future not too far off where a new operating system is released that has artificial intelligence and has its own personality, Phoenix’s introvert character, Theodore Twombly, begins a relationship with his OS, voiced by Scarlett Johansson. Exploring the ideas of what actually makes someone feel love as well as where our society might be headed technologically, “Her” is an amazing take on a science fiction film, but with all the emotions of a romantic drama. Directed and written by Spike Jonze, not someone that I have grasped a hold of in the passed years, the door has now been opened for me to look into his other work. Even though this was my favorite film of last year, “Her” stands no chance at winning Best Picture. With the year belonging to favorites “Gravity” and “12 Years A Slave”, there’s no chance whatsoever that we see this take the big prize. With that, “Her” has four other nominations where it at least stands a somewhat better chance, with the biggest opportunity lying in Best Original Screenplay, for which it took the Golden Globe for. Just for it to be honored this year is good enough for me and with five nominations, that’s an amazing feat for such a different type of film.

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William Butler and Owen Pallett

Her-originalscoreYou may also know William Butler and Owen Pallett as the Grammy award winning Canadian band Arcade Fire. This current trend in getting popular bands and music writers to score a film is one of my favorite trends in this history of cinema. Combining pop culture in music with the mainlining of cinema and you get one of the most unique experiences in film. With Nine Inch Nails helmer Trent Reznor jumping on productions with David Fincher and last year’s amazing collaboration between director Joseph Kosinski and the band M83 on the film “Oblivion”, this is a trend I continue to look forward to. The score in “Her” is one of the main reasons I loved the film. From the opening scenes to the very end credits, this score breathes originality and is unforgettable. Possibly rivaled by Steven Price’s score for “Gravity”, Arcade Fire may have their first nomination and nothing more unfortunately. Just listening to this again now, I’m reminded of how much I love this film and how much I hope this film wins, but with an uphill battle still ahead, I’m not holding my breath.

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“The Moon Song” – Music by Karen O; Lyric by Karen O and Spike Jonze

Her-originalscore2Such a simple song is Karen O’s “The Moon Song”. You know Karen O as the lead singer of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and now she lends her singing and lyrical talents to Jonze’s film “Her”, with the main love theme of Theodore and Samantha. Written by Samantha (and sung by Scarlett Johansson) during the film, along with Joaquin Phoenix casually chiming in, this song is so simple and captivating that it is hard to think it will even have a chance against the ballads that are also in the category. But as will all these nominations, I’m am just pleased that “Her” is being recognized. This is Karen O’s first Oscar nomination.

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K.K. Barrett (Production Design); Gene Serdena (Set Decoration)

Her-productiondesignAlthough it’s not far into the future, “Her” is for all tense and purposes a futuristic film, with interesting apartment floor plans, wide sweeping views of Los Angeles, mixed with a tinge of Hong Kong, and tons of little bits of production design throughout, like the vertical airplane statue or the cool elevator design. And do not forget the computer designs, with the realistic earpieces and hand held phones carried by the characters. This definitely a film of a design, but does not rank anywhere near that of other films nominated like “Gravity” and “American Hustle”. With K.K. Barrett and Gene Serdena grabbing their first nominations each, this is as far as “Her” will travel in this category.

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Written by Spike Jonze

With no likely wins in any of the categories that it’s nominated, the biggest change “Her” has to win at the Academy Awards this year is in the Best Original Screenplay category where Spike Jonze could grab his first Oscar. With his only competition being friend and fellow screenwriter/director David O. Russell for “American Hustle”, it will not be easy to pick a winner out of these two. “American Hustle” is based on a true story, with some facts sprinkled in about the ABSCAM event that took place a few decades ago. With great dialogue, the film reads wonderfully producing some amazing performances, but the characters themselves are all unlikable, which leaves this film needing something more. “Her”, on the other hand, is completely original and produces some of the most likable characters in a film this year. Add to that that one of the main characters is a voice never seen on screen and you have yourself a unique challenge that is completely overcome, more so than anyone could have imagined and to have the balls to write that screenplay knowing the challenges you will face is much more admirable than writing a film about characters that no one will agree with. “Her” will be my choice regardless and all I can do is hope it will win and least grab one win out of the five that its nominated for.

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// Produced by Megan Ellison, Spike Jonze and Vincent Landay // Directed by Spike Jonze //
// Dated Viewed: Sunday, February 16th, 2014 // The Landmark //  12 films – 15 days //

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