Review: August: Osage County The Best Acted Film of the Year

Griffin Conlogue ’15 / Emertainment Monthly Editor

Julianne Nicholson, Juliette Lewis, Dermot Mulroney, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregor, Abigail Breslin, Julia Roberts and Margo Martindale in August: Osage County. Photo Credit:  Claire Folger © 2013 The Weinstein Company.
Julianne Nicholson, Juliette Lewis, Dermot Mulroney, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregor, Abigail Breslin, Julia Roberts and Margo Martindale in August: Osage County. Photo Credit: Claire Folger © 2013 The Weinstein Company.
August: Osage County is an ensemble dramedy about the Weston family following the funeral of the families’ patriarch.  Adapted from the Tony and Pulitzer Prize winning play, this story turned out to feature expert performances, as well as being an overall strong film in general.  While it ultimately feels like a film produced by the Weinstein’s just to get Oscar recognition, this is still a dramatic and quite sad look at drug addiction, incest, love, and loss.
The Weston family is a family of flaws.  After her husband dies, Violet (Meryl Streep) and her family unravel as they all grieve together.  The dark parts of their family are slowly revealed over the course of a few days.  Some family members are revealed to have cheated on their spouses, and others are revealed to be in an incestuous relationship together.  This extremely screwed up family struggles to hold it together, and the death of their eldest male member seems to be the catalyst of these problems.
This is quite easily the best-acted film of the year.  Meryl Streep proves once again why she is the best actress of this generation, as she commands every frame she appears in.  She plays Violet Weston, the matriarch of the family, who suffers from mouth cancer and an addiction to pain killers.  She does this with such believability, and the pitiful character she represents is easy to loathe.  This performance shows why she is an awards favorite every year, and this year should be no exemption.
Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep and Julianne Nicholson in August: Osage County. Photo Credit:  Claire Folger © 2013 The Weinstein Company.
Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep and Julianne Nicholson in August: Osage County. Photo Credit: Claire Folger © 2013 The Weinstein Company.
Julia Roberts also gave it her all, providing us with her best performance since Erin Brockovich. She portrays Barbara Weston-Fordham, Daughter of Streep’s Violet character. Barbara’s main story line follows her struggles with her family life, and her trouble connecting with her pill-addict mother. Roberts play this masterfully. She will be looking to claim her second Oscar this winter.
The rest of the ensemble cast, specifically Margo Martindale and Chris Cooper, do a particularly strong job at filling out the rest of the film.  There is a brilliant group of actors at work here, and the film should be nominated for or win countless best ensemble cast awards.  The acting is by far the best part of the film.  Tracy Letts’ script is the only thing that compares.
With the screenplay and acting being so strong, one can only wonder how amazing of a film this could be.  John Wells directing greatly holds this film back, and where it could have been the clear Best Picture favorite, it’ll wind up being a nominee contender.  While wondering what could have been is fun, it is still nonetheless one of the strongest films in one of the strongest years in all of film history.
Overall Grade: B+

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