Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Oscar Predictions 2014: Original Song

This year’s nominees for Best Original Song come from four films that tackle very different subject matter – fighting an evil villain (with the help of some tiny yellow friends), finding love in unexpected ways, learning to accept who you are, and the story of a man who lived an extraordinary life. But there is one thing that unites all these songs: an uplifting spirit. Songs featured in films should capture the feeling of the film itself and all four of these nominations do just that in very different and compelling ways. Some will move you to tears where others will put a smile on your face, but the one thing all four will do is make you feel. The fact that all four nominees are going to be performed live by Pharell Williams, Karen O, Idina Menzel, and U2 promises this category’s presentation to be one of Oscar night’s best moments. We break down the nominees with my prediction of which song I think will win in red…

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Mandela

At the start of Justin Chadwick‘s Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela (Idris Elba) says his father named him to mean “troublemaker,” a stigma Mandela ostensibly spends his life trying to erase, before running headfirst into. With segregation encroaching on the lives of all those living in South Africa and military oppression getting worse as those in power attempt to keep this divide intact, Mandela finds himself pulled into a movement to fight for the rights of his people – not to overtake their oppressors, but to become their equals. Starting from his time as a boy living in the rural outskirts of South Africa to his political ascent, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom attempts to capture the story of this extraordinary man, but falls short when it comes to depicting the affection behind his actions. Mandela began his career as a lawyer, but after one of his friends is beaten to death after being arrested for simply not having proof of his citizenship on him, Mandela realizes he is upholding laws that do not protect him and needs to do something to bring about change for not only himself, but his fellow citizens. Unfortunately, Mandela feels more like a series of historical reenactments rather than a moving narrative. Elba plays Mandela as a strong, layered, compassionate man, but Mandela spends more time recreating the man’s memorable speeches and political moves and not enough time crafting the emotional backbone that drove his relationships with his family and colleagues.

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Mandela

There are a list of traits a movie can have that people who give out shiny little awards tend to love. So, naturally, there have come to be movies that try to embody as many of these traits as possible, in order to get the attention of the people who have the shiny little awards they want. The term is “Oscar bait,” and though falling into the category doesn’t necessarily mean that a movie is going to be bad (on the contrary, often they’re quite good), or that the people telling the story didn’t also want to do so for genuine reasons, you know it when you see it. Seeing as it’s a historical drama, it deals with issues of race, it covers the ups and downs of the life of an iconic figure who suffered immensely, and it seems to feature a showy lead performance from a well-respected actor (Idris Elba), director Justin Chadwick’s (The Other Boleyn Girl) upcoming Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is just about the biggest piece of Oscar bait that’s come down the pike in a long time. But seeing as Nelson Mandela’s life makes for such a captivating story, and Elba is such a strong actor, it looks like it’s also probably going to be a pretty dang good movie. Now that a full-length trailer has dropped, you should probably take the opportunity to give it a look and see what the film has to offer for yourself.

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Mandela Elba

There’s only one shot in the teaser trailer for Justin Chadwick‘s Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, but man is it a good one. The trailer sees Nelson Mandela, the Noble Peace Prize winner and former President of South Africa, trudging along a narrow path in a vast, rust-colored plain. The camera starts to swoop and soar, and soon children flock to Mandela, turning his lonely walk into a joyous one. Throughout all this, Idris Elba (who will be playing Mandela) does a little narration to flex his South African accent. As all those elements come together, this teaser trailer hits a well of real emotion-  especially so with Mandela still in the hospital and said to be in critical condition. Think a kind thought for him and check out the trailer below:

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