A quick look at this year’s Academy Award nominees for Best Picture…
Synopsis: In near-future Los Angeles, a sad and lonely writer falls in love with his new operating system.
Total nominations: 5 (Picture, Original Screenplay, Original Score, Original Song, Production Design)
Directed by: Spike Jonze (nominated for Best Original Screenplay; one previous nomination for Best Director)
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix (three nominations), Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams (five nominations, including this year for “American Hustle”)
Why it should win: “Her” is the smartest exploration yet of one of the most universal questions that faces the human race — what does the future of love look like? And it manages to gracefully explore that question while also addressing that other major issue, our relationship with technology. The relationship at the heart of the film, between Phoenix’s Theodore Twombly and Johannson’s Samantha, doesn’t feel gimmicky but supremely moving.
Why it won’t win: The film’s primary conceit is just too weird for too many people, hence the somewhat lackluster box office numbers. (So Tom Hanks talking to a volleyball is a hit, but Joaquin Phoenix talking to a computer isn’t?) The purposefully-vague nature of the film — what year is it? Is the future better or worse? Is the ending happy or sad? — makes it somewhat slippery.
Ann Hornaday’s review: 4 stars
“Jonze has taken what could easily have been a glib screwball comedy and infused it instead with wry, observant tenderness and deep feeling.”
Box office as of Feb. 24: $24 million domestic, $28 million worldwide