George Graham

Life Through a Gloomy Lens

Margot Robbie, Miles Teller to host Oscar technical awards

We haven’t seen any of the movies involved but Sandra and I will be up late Sunday night along with the millions of other Oscar viewers around the world.

I know, shame on me for not going to see “Selma.” But I am at a stage in life when I tend to avoid disturbing experiences, and I am sure the civil rights movie would be disturbing indeed.

I would also find “The Theory of Everything” unbearably disturbing. I am aware of Stephen Hawking’s horrible affliction. And I know he has one of this century’s most brilliant minds inside that stricken body. But I shudder at the prospect of vicariously sharing his life.

I expect that Eddie Redmayne will win the Oscar for Best Actor. From what I’ve been  reading, his portrayal of Stephen Hawking turned out to be a tour de force despite the daunting physical challenge involved.  But that makes me even less eager to watch the movie. According to one critic:

Redmayne’s performance is powerful enough to permeate through the screen and into you – you’ll wriggle your toes in discomfort when Hawking struggles with his paralyzed feet.

As an aging diabetic, I already wriggle my toes in discomfort, thank you. That’s not what I’m looking for when I go to the movies.

As for the over-hyped “American Sniper,” give me a break!

Sorry Sandra, I know how you admire Clint Eastwood, but from what I’ve read, “Sniper” is one more disturbing account of the disastrous impact that war can have on human beings. Again, this blood-soaked epic is based on real life. It’s the story of Iraq War vet Chris Kyle.

(Incidentally, Kyle survived the battlefield only to be shot to death in a senseless incident. The shooter is on trial in Texas as I write this blog.)

Here’s an excerpt from the plot, as described on a web site called Fandango:

As the story opens, we meet carefree brothers Chris (Bradley Cooper) and Jeff (Keir O’Donnell) as they work the Texas rodeo circuit. They’re cowboys through and through, and despite being notably older than the usual enlistee, Chris pays a visit to his local recruitment office and decides to become a Navy SEAL. Later, at the firing range, he draws on his hunting lessons with his stern father to become an expert marksman. A booze-fueled barroom chat with pretty brunette Taya (Sienna Miller) soon leads to wedding bells, and following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Kyle is deployed to Iraq for his first tour of duty. There, his reputation as a sniper who never misses makes him a legend among his fellow troops, and earns him the moniker “The Devil of Ramadi” from his enemies. 

The nominations are more numerous than usual this year, and it’s hard to guess who the winners might be. But they all seem to reflect the gloomiest side of life. One of the Best Actress nominees, Julianne Moore in “Still Alice,”   plays a college professor who is suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease, for example.

I realize that one of the Best Picture nominees – “The Grand Budapest Hotel” – is listed as a comedy-drama, but the plot doesn’t sound cheerful. I understand that it features the theft of a priceless painting and the battle for a family fortune — with a dash of murder thrown in.

Even Michael Keaton, one of my all-time favorite comedy actors (remember “Night Shift?”), shows up in “Birdman” as a down-and-out ex-star trying desperately to make a comeback. Not many laughs there.

To me, this year’s list shows a depressing absence of the joie de vivre that Hollywood was once famous for.

Click for the nominees and to watch the trailers.

Click for the likely winners.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for