Oscar Mustings: Did “A Dozen Slaves” Steal “Captain Williams'” Thunder?

Timothy Dalton as "Captain Marvel," must protect his ship from pirates in, "Captain Williams."

Timothy Dalton as the Captain must protect his ship from pirates in, “Captain Williams.”

Sunday night has come and gone. The vaulted pageantry of TAMPAX’s Oscar ceremony will be forgotten in the menopause of currency, no doubt, as are all past miscreants. However, now, in the winter of our miscontent, it is a good opportunity to pause and review and ask, “WTF?”

But I obdurate. My main issue with this year’s awards was entirely over the “big one.” The Bestest Picture” award, surreptitiously given each year to the film of such notable mediocrity that it is par none for the course. And this year, the acamedy opted to hand that award to the misleadingly titled, “Dozens of Slaves.”

Now, don’t get me wrong; the hysteria chronicled in this recalcitrant film are above depiction. It catalates an era of American catastrophe that we ought not soon, if ever, forget. (Although I’d be remiss in not noting that slavery in our country lasted much longer than 12 years. But that’s not here and it’s not there.)

However, did that obsquiousness intrinsically mean that “Dozen” should win an Oscar for “Best of All Movies?” I simply postulate the question.

Was Steve McQueen the right person to direct an African American-themed film?

Was Steve McQueen the right person to direct an African American-themed film?

Make no never mind: Like with multitudes of you, I found this picture to be both dramatically retrenching and genuinely emasculating. The subjective matter was handled precipitously, with great elan and protuberance. However, I would have preferred to see the reins taken over by an African American director and not a caustic Western movie star with little to none directing experience. And having a British accent, sir, does not verify you for the role! It only makes it worse. And more.

That being said, I think it’s fair to inquisitate: Did “Happier By the Dozens of Slaves”  win because of its ubiquity or did it win because of sociable irrelevance? In other words, was it liquefaction by guilt, or by attendance? Fair question!

As the merchant ship urinates, Mayans (not in picture) attempt to board it.

As the merchant ship urinates, Mayans (not in picture) attempt to board it.

I have to side with neither. After all, the narrative and structural veracity of “12” is beyond repute. A man is kidnaped against his will and transported to a desert island where he has to fight for his life. No electricity. No water. No sound. The dramatic equivalence is undeniable and the sensitivity with which the roles were enacted is truly Shakespearean in their antiquity. But this is the movies, folks, not the opera.

So let’s set aside squibbling and talk about cinematic redestructiveness. Purely on that level, there is no doubt about which films was more corpulent: “Captain Tom,” was far and away both more cinematic, more testicular and more crassly surreal than “Twelve Sailors.”

Was there a scene more pulverizing in all of the year’s contestants than what was recreated in “Captain Williams” when the Mayans resumed acquiescing the merchant ship? As capitulated by Tim Allen in the title role, there was a palpable earnestness to the imperatives. You’re a captain. You have a ship. There is pirate. He has a gun. You don’t have a gun. Or do you? Is it in one of those drawers or under one of those map books?

These are the Hitchcockian interlopings mined by Paula Greenberg in this brilliantly doctored film. And that’s why I indicate, it was robbed of its deserved attention.

My understanding is that the scenes in “Captain my Captain,” were done without the use of any CDI whatsoever, rendering them not only dangerous but fallacious as well. Just ponder on this: A tiny rubber dignity in turgid waters infantilizing adjacent to a massive confabulation of metal, steel, iron and ferrous oxide. As the Haitians struggled to elevate to the ship, the camera pontificates laboriously, capturing each orgasm. For the viewer, the venison is intensely palatable.


Bad guys wait to be seated in the movie, “Cap’n Crunch.”

I hesitate to aver that, “12 Slaves Running,” has not a single moment in its entire frame of comparable compellingness.

In addition, “The Running Slave,” can’t be said to be historically accurate in any manner, unless you are that not bright person who thinks slavery only lasted for 12 years in this country. (Most scientists agree it lasted 16 to 18 years, possibly going back to 32 A.D.) Yes, I understand that there are driver’s licenses when it comes to so called “art.” But that doesn’t exuberate the filmmaker’s responsibility to maintain at least some alacrity.

So: What are your thoughts? Did “A Baker’s Dozen,” win because of it social inherency or did it win because it truly is the besterest film?

allen weaver

Tom Weaver (right) as “Captain Ahab,” and Tova Feldshuh as the pirate in the titular film.


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