High marks for winning films

When I wrote about the Golden Globes last week, I had yet to see any of the nominated films. But now that the Screen Actors Guild Awards have also been given out and I’ve had a chance to see some of the nominated films, I can give you my impressions so far.

Although I had my American Federation of Television and Radio Artists membership, I never did get my bona fide SAG card, so I couldn’t have voted for any of these contenders at the SAG Awards.

I’ve been able to watch “12 Years a Slave,” “August: Osage County,” “Dallas Buyers Club” and “Behind the Candelabra.” There is a lot of good to see in each film.

I have two favorites out of all these movies, which are “12 Years A Slave,” my number one pick, and “August: Osage County,” my number two pick (as I can relate to it, having been raised in a neurotic Jewish home).

“12 Years A Slave” is a well-made history of Solomon Northup, which came from his autobiography that tells of a sad time in our history. It is also interesting that Northup originally came from our neck of the woods in Saratoga Springs, where he was a free man but was then duped into slavery while he was passed out from drinking.

“August: Osage County” struck a chord with me from my Jewish upbringing and dysfunctional family. But this family’s dysfunctions were over-the-top. For instance, when two first cousins fall in love, they later find out they are actually half-siblings due to an affair between their father and an aunt.

I remember watching Liberace (who wisely didn’t use his first and middle names, Wladziu Valentino, during his career) with my two sisters and mom as a young girl growing up in the ’60s. He was the first gay man that I was aware of as a kid. “Behind the Candelabra” gives you a glimpse of Liberace’s lifestyle, one that was truly original as a flashy gay entertainer way before the likes of Elton John or Boy George.

Michael Douglas, Matt Damon and Rob Lowe do outstanding jobs in their unlikely casting as flamboyant gay men.

I also watched “Dallas Buyers Club,” which was the most difficult to see as it was the inherently sad story of a man who was also an AIDS victim trying to fight for his life. Matthew McConaughey gives the dramatic performance of his career, as well as losing 40 pounds for the role.

Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland who pursued an acting career in New York City and Los Angeles, now pursues freelance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County. Previous columns and contact information may be accessed at her website www.kathrynskorner.com.