Best Picture Breakdown: Philomena

Best Picture Breakdown: Philomena
Movie Minute

POSTED: Sunday, March 2, 2014 - 2:00pm

UPDATED: Sunday, March 2, 2014 - 2:14pm

         It’s award season in Hollywood and one of the most sought after awards is an Oscar. This year several deserving figures have received nominations. From Leonardo DiCaprio’s nomination for Best Actor, to the team of Gravity receiving a nomination for their achievement in visual effects. While these nominations are great, none are more coveted than that of Best Picture. Just a few years ago the Best Picture category increase from 5 nominations to 10, but was soon changed to where each year up to 10 films can receive a nomination. This year 9 films made the cut; American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, 12 Years A Slave, The Wolf Of Wall Street.


“Philomena” is one of the lesser-known Best Picture nominees this year. Directed by Stephen Frears, “Philomena” is based off of the book “The Lost Child of Philomena Lee” and tells the remarkable true story of the title character Philomena Lee, an Irish woman whose child was taken from her and given to a family in America.

After a 50-year gap, she receives the help of a journalist to find her long-lost son and reconnect the two.

The story itself is something that isn’t exactly new to Hollywood.

So why is it nominated for Best Picture? It’s simple really it’s an amazing telling of an incredible and true story.

In the early 1950s, Lee was sent to a Catholic convent by her father after becoming pregnant outside of marriage.

The convent Lee was sent to was known as a “mother and baby home.” The home would take in pregnant girls, and house the mothers until their babies were born.

The home would then take the babies and place them up for adoption. In several instances the children were taken against their mothers will, never to be seen again. One case in particular was that of Lee.

Philomena was such a great surprise. There hasn’t been as much buzz surrounding this film as there has with other films, but there should be.

For starters, the telling of Lee’s story starts out on the day of her taken sons 50th birthday. On this day, we see her remembering the ordeal of getting pregnant and having her son.

Through these flashbacks we get a sense of what all Lee went through. The way these flashbacks are handled and the timing of them flow extremely well in an almost heartbreaking way.

We see this young, excited new mother, and then we flash forward to the present day to a mother who HAS been incomplete for the past 50 years.

The film portrays her fantasy of what her son would be like, or the memories that he’s probably made as old home videos. What this does is show that despite her and her son’s separation, she’s been consciously connected to him.

The dialogue in this film is extremely effective. Not only are their many great quotes, but they are not just randomly thrown into places.

They are used within the context of conversation, mostly between Lee and the journalist assisting her on her search, Martin Sixsmith.

Lee who’s been through so much has such a gentle and hopeful heart, while Sixsmith is filled with so much cynicism.

Another thing the dialogue does really well is provide a little bit of humor in needed places. This being such a sad story, there are places where humor can be found.

The humor again shows us the type of person Lee really is. Keep in mind though it’s dry, British-style humor.

Now the dialogue wouldn’t be as great if it wasn’t for the performers. Judi Dench and Steve Coogan are excellent; both portraying real people who are complete opposites, yet still have a very deep connection.

While “Philomena” is a great film and deserves praise, it still fails to outshine a few other films that did not receive nominations this year. However, it is a great picture nonetheless.

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