Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Celebrating OSCAR's Best Actress


All year there's been talk that this is a very weak for the best actress category at the Oscars. Bullshit! There were many fantastic performances, most of them in many movies not considered by Academy members but even the 5 Oscar agreed on are a worthy bunch. Give or take a Jones. Let's look at why this is a fantastic lineup:


Marion Cotillard as Sandra 

 A performance for the ages from an actress at her peak at exactly the time when she's starting to be acknowledged as best of her generation.



Rosamund Pike as Amazing Amy

A star making performance and a character that we will be talking about for years in Amazing Amy.



Julianne Moore as Alice Howland


Another arguable best of her generation capping off years of fantastic character work and finally winning awards that have eluded her so far.




Reese Witherspoon as Cheryl Strayed

 A major star cementing her comeback with a critical and commercial hit that announces her as an influential producer.




Felicity Jones as Jane Hawking

Oh and one more. While I didn't like the movie or the performance it is not an embarrassing inclusion as would have been with that other one we avoided. Ahem Aniston.

The top 2 two in this list are my favorite of the year. All hail the continued reign of Cotillard as the best screen actress nowadays and Pike coming into full movie stardom. And I liked Moore and Witherspoon and would be so happy when as expected Moore wins on February 22. The woman behind Cathy Whitaker, Laura Brown and Amber Waves deserves to be an Oscar winner. 

As for other performances I liked, maybe Scarlett Johnasson (Under the Skin), Emily Blunt (Edge of Tomorrow/Into the Woods), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Beyond the Lights) and Essie Davis (The Babadook) will be nominees one day.


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Oscar Nominations Predictions




The big question this year is Selma. Much has been made about its lack of love by awards bodies so far. Screeners weren't sent. It opened too late. Paramount's priority was Interstellar. I think it boils down to the obvious, people who vote for these things just don't care that much for the movie. They might admire what it says about the Civil Rights movement or its relevance to what's happening around; but there's no passion to vote it best of the year. I'm thinking it gets Best Pic and Best Song.


Elsewhere I excpect Ralph Fiennes to make it instead of Steve Carrell/David Oyelowo/Bradley Cooper. Jennifer Aniston will be an Oscar nominee and AMPAS will continue ignoring Marion Cotillard's superior career post her 2007 win.

I'm predicting that Emma Stone, Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Keaton and Wes Anderson will become Oscar nominees for the first time while Meryl Streep will get her 19th nomination.

Pedictions I'm not sure of include Wild for Adapted Screenplay, Morten Tyldum for Directing, Rene Russo for Supporting Actress and Timbuktu in Foreign Language Film.


Best Picture
01. American Sniper
02. Birdman
03. Boyhood
04. Gone Girl
05. The Grand Budapest Hotel
06. The Imitation Game
07. Selma
08. The Theory of Everything
09. Whiplash

Best Directing
01. Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman
02. Richard Linklater, Boyhood
03. Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
04. Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game
05. Damien Chazelle, Whiplash

Best Actor in a Leading Role
01. Michael Keaton, Birdman
02. Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel
03. Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
04. Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler
05. Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

Best Actress in a Leading Role
01. Jennifer Aniston, Cake
02. Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
03. Julianne Moore, Still Alice
04. Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
05. Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Best Actor in a Supporting Role
01. Edward Norton, Birdman
02. Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
03. Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
04. Robert Duvall, The Judge
05. J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

Best Actress in a Supporting Role
01. Emma Stone, Birdman
02. Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
03. Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
04. Meryl Streep, Into the Woods
05. Rene Russo, Nightcrawler

Best Writing (Original Screenplay)
01. Birdman
02. Boyhood
03. Foxcatcher
04. The Grand Budapest Hotel
05. Nightcrawler

Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
01. Gone Girl
02. The Imitation Game
03. The Theory of Everything
04. Whiplash
05. Wild

---

Best Animated Feature
01. Big Hero 6
02. The Boxtrolls
03. How to Train Your Dragon 2
04. The LEGO Movie
05. The Tale of Princess Kaguya

Best Foreign Language Film
01. Ida
02. Force Majeure
03. Leviathan
04. Timbuktu
05. Wild Tales

Best Documentary Feature
01. CITIZENFOUR
02. Last Days in Vietnam
03. Keep On Keeping'On
04. Life Itself
05. Virunga

---

Best Music (Original Score)
01. Gone Girl
02. The Grand Budapest Hotel
03. The Imitation Game
04. Interstellar
05. The Theory of Everything

Best Music (Original Song)
01. "Lost Stars", Begin Again
02. "I'm Not Gonna Miss You", Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me
03. "Everything Is Awesome", The LEGO Movie
04. "Mercy Is", Noah 
05. "Glory", Selma 

Best Film Editing
01. Birdman
02. Boyhood
03. The Grand Budapest Hotel
04. The Imitation Game
05. Whiplash

Best Cinematography
01. Birdman
02. The Grand Budapest Hotel
03. Ida
04. Mr. Turner
05. Unbroken 

Best Art Direction 
01. The Grand Budapest Hotel
02. The Imitation Game
03. Interstellar
04. Into the Woods
05. Mr. Turner 

Best Costume Design
01. The Grand Budapest Hotel
02. The Imitation Game
03. Into the Woods
04. Mr. Turner
05. Selma

Best Makeup
01. Foxcatcher
02. Guardians of the Galaxy
03. The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Sound Mixing
01. American Sniper
02. Birdman
03. Into the Woods
05. Unbroken
06. Whiplash

Best Sound Editing
01. American Sniper
02. Guardians of the Galaxy
03. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
04. Interstellar 
05. Unbroken

Best Visual Effects
01. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
02. Guardians of the Galaxy
03. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
04. Interstellar
05. Transformers: Age of Extinction

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Golden Globes Predictions



We are bound to see a repeat of the above image. I'm sure. Here are my predictions :


Best Motion Picture (Drama)
Winner: Boyhood
Alternate: The Imitation Game

Best Motion Picture (Comedy/Musical)
Winner: Birdman
Alternate: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture (Drama)
Winner: Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
Alternate: Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture (Comedy/Musical)
Winner: Michael Keaton, Birdman
Alternate: Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture (Drama)
Winner: Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Alternate: Jennifer Aniston, Cake

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture (Comedy/Musical)
Winner: Emily Blunt, Into the Woods
Alternate: Julianne Moore, Maps to the Stars

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Winner: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
Alternate: Edward Norton, Birdman

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Winner: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Alternate: Emma Stone, Birdman

Best Director 
Winner: Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Alternate: Alejando Innaritu, Birdman

Best Screenplay 
Winner: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Alternate: Birdman

Best Animated Feature Film
Winner: The Lego Movie
Alternate: How to Train Your Dragon 2

Best Foreign Language Film
Winner: Ida
Alternate: Force Majeure

Best Original Score
Winner: The Imitation Game
Alternate: The Theory of Everything

Best Original Song
Winner: Glory, Selma
Alternate: Mercy Is, Noah

Thursday, January 8, 2015

BAFTA Nominations Predictions


It will be a big day for Mike Leigh's Mr Turner .


Best Film
01. Birdman
02. Boyhood
03. The Grand Budapest Hotel
04. The Imitation Game
05. Mr. Turner

Best Director
01. Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman
02. Richard Linklater, Boyhood
03. Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
04. Mike Leigh, Mr Turner
05. Jonathan Glazer, Under the Skin

Best Leading Actor
01. Michael Keaton, Birdman
02. Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
03. Timothy Spall, Mr. Turner
04. David Oyelowo, Selma
05. Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

Best Leading Actress
01. Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
02. Julianne Moore, Still Alice
03. Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
04. Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night
05. Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Best Supporting Actor
01. Edward Norton, Birdman
02. Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
03. Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
04. Paul Jesson, Mr Turner
05. J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

Best Supporting Actress
01. Emma Stone, Birdman
02. Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
03. Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
04. Marion Bailey, Mr. Turner
05. Imelda Staunton, Pride

Best Original Screenplay
01. Birdman
02. Boyhood
03. The Grand Budapest Hotel
04. Mr. Turner
05. Pride

Best Adapted Screenplay
01. Gone Girl
02. The Imitation Game
03. The Theory of Everything
04. Under the Skin
05. Wild. 

2014 Most Memorable Movie Scenes

Instead of a top ten list I'm writing about my most memorable scenes. Some of the films I love,some I only liked elements of but the scenes stayed with me.

What makes a movie scene memorable? A recognized reflection; an image that moves you; a witty and smart line of dialogue. Sometimes you get all in one scene. Sometimes a scene encapsulates the movie or it can stand out separately and still be memorable.Sometimes it can be a performance or a piece of music that sticks in the mind. Here are few of my most memorable scenes from 2014 movies in no particular order.

Beware spoilers aplenty ahead.



Two Days One Night




Setup: A woman, deeply depressed, is at the end of her rope. Against all her instincts she found a way to fight for her job and here at last she's been given the good news. Except the price is to betray the solidarity of the community that has been behind her recent strength. She refuses and walks away.

Why: What a whopper of an ending from the Dardenne brothers. At once optimistic, sad, believing in the strength and innate goodness of people while accepting the utter awfulness of the economic reality of our cruel world. And Marion Cotillard walks out defiantly with new strength. For the last hour and half we watched her defeated, resigned with her shoulders hunched, now finally she found the fire within and is walking tall.What a performance.



Foxcatcher




Setup : Dave Schultz is the real coach of the Foxcatcher wrestling team. Yet he's being asked to pretend that the man who pays his salary is his mentor and coach. The cameras are on. He tries to say the words. He fails. He can't lie.

Why : Foxcatcher is a movie about details while being economical in its storytelling. The actors, the set design, the costumes, the frame give you a lot of details while the screenplay and direction are austere, minimal and not fussy. In this scene it's all about Ruffalo, he makes us understand who Dave is, why everybody respects him, why he made the choices he made and later on at the end why his fate was inevitable.


Gone Girl




Setup: Amazing Amy wants to get back to her husband, Nick Dunne. In her way is her current beau, Desi, who's been crowding her lately. An elaborate scheme ensues. Seduction, sex, slit throat.

Why: I read the book so I knew what was coming. Yet it still got me big time. The soundtrack, the steely gaze on Rosamund Pike's face just before she reaches out for that razor. Then the blood, copious amounts of blood. The most thrilling scene of the year and once again in this movie completely turns the plot upside down.



Pride




Setup : Two old friends are preparing sandwiches for their fellow protesters. The man comes out to his friend. The woman acknowledges with love and understanding while getting on with the job at hand.

Why : I feel I've seen a version of this scene before. There's nothing new. But the easy rapport and deep love that Bill Nighy and Imelda Staunton bring to their characters is what makes it unique.


Mr Turner




Setup: The housekeeper goes in search of her missing master. Even though he's been abusing and ignoring her, she misses his company. She finds him keeping house with another woman. She leaves without announcing herself.

Why: What a heartbreaker! Dorothy Atkinson's quiet acknowledgement and sad acceptance of her loneliness got to me. It's a crescendo of a performance that she builds by being a silent observer, mostly in the background of scenes. Until she hits this final big sad moment.



Into the Woods




Setup : The Baker's wife is seduced the Prince. They kiss. She sings of her joy, confusion and guilt.

Why : All those emotions mentioned above appear simultaneously on Emily Blunt's beautiful expressive face. And those fantastic Sondheim words :
One peculiar moment
Must it all be either less or more
Either plain or grand
Is it always "or"
Is it never "and"



Under the Skin is my favorite 2014 movie however there is no one scene that is memorable. That whole movie still haunts me.

What are some of your most memorable scenes? Do you agree with mine? Tell all in the comments.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Gay Defence of The Imitation Game; it's in the performance of Benedict Cumberbatch



The Imitation Game is a movie about a gay man. Naturally there is interest from gay audience as well as gay critics. Can it stand as its own story or must it represent a gay culture that is fast changing with both more gay rights in some countries and more gay persecution in others? How can one objectively write about it as a gay person.


The Imitation Game is one of my favorite films of 2014. I love it because it tells a great story and tells it well. It takes a historical anecdote and weaves a thrilling yarn out of it while shining light on the people involved.It is a story about a heroic man whose heroism went unnoticed for many years.

Alan Turing is someone whose name we should know. However because of the secret nature of his mission during the war and because the world is full of homophobia, he was vilified into suicide and died in obscurity. This movie reverses that and tells his extraordinary story.

The movie shows us Turing (played by Benedict Cumberbatch as an adult) during three periods in his life. During the War where he led a group of scientists in breaking the German Enigma code and helping win the war for the Allies; after the war when he was arrested, convicted and driven to suicide for being gay; and when he was a teen in boarding school and fell in love for the first time with a classmate.

The movie so far has gotten average to good reviews and is pegged to be a major Oscar contender. The critique about it the drives me crazy is that it is not gay enough, that while outwardly against homophobia it doesn't show enough of Turing being gay or even being persecuted for being gay. I can understand the latter to a certain extent but definitely not the former.

I get the disappointment. I had expectations too going into the movie. I thought Matthew Goode was playing Turing's love interest. I thought we might get a grand tortured love story at the center. But that is not Turing's story. The movie tells the stoy of his accomplishments without diluting the fact that he was gay. A central theme throughout is that he's a man of secrets trying to solve the biggest secret of all. And Cumberbatch delivers in his performance, this is a man very uncomfortable in his skin because of the secret he's carying around. The weight of that is evident in every frame he appears in. I didn't need to see more. I complety related as someone who carried their own secret for many years. Any inappropriate glance or whisper might have meant a life on the margins or even worse for Turing.



The Guradian reviewer claims the movie "doesnt allow him to be gay". What did they want? A fabricated love story? A quick romp in the hay? He was deeply closeted, I don't think that would have fit his personality nor the time he lived in. Other reviewers have made the same claim. The movie doesn't shy away of showing him fall in love. Yes it's a very chaste one sided infatuation from a love struck teenager but there's no evidence that he had a greater love in later years.


I wish the movie had shown a bit more of the homophobia in 1950s Britain. Did we need a sympathetic policeman at the time of showing his persecution? Probably not. Did we need to see the "lewd action"he was arrested for. Maybe. I wanted more hammering of the injustice that the British government and judicial system levelled against Turing. But I get it. The balance is there. Yes I would've liked to see more time devoted to how he dealt with the last chapter in his life. But maybe that would have taken away from spending more time showing us how he got to be a hero in the first place,

Maybe in this day and age we should expect more. I'm all for Alan Turing's name heard around the world. And I think this movie represents him well while thrilling and entertaining the audience. It is not the movie everyone wanted; but it's a great movie on its own terms.

I ask all these gay nayasers how many gay heroes with compelling stories that are not about coming out do we have? Let's celebrate this one. Should we question and ask for more? Absolutely. However this has enough virtues to be celebrated. Its merits as a movie are subjective and in the eye of the beholder but its celebration of Turing is undeniable.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Vibes of Macbeth : A Most Violent Year Trailer

Hey Marion and Fassbender, you've got competition. The new trailer for A Most Violent Year has echoes of the ambition of a married couple that recalls Macbeth. So before we see that film version we get Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain. Feast your eyes,





It's a great trailer selling the drama and the chemistry between the stars. And maybe after the sort of failure of her Oscar chances somewhat with both The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby and Interstellar, Chastain might have found her vehicle for this year. Also I got a J C Chandor feeling in Original Screenplay.

Maybe 2014 is not going to be that underwhelming after all.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Short Notes on Whiplash, Birdman and Nightcrawler

Here are shorts reviews of the last three movies I watched.


Whiplash

I was not looking forward to this movie. Thought it would be a hyper masculine, "what it means to be a man"story. I was burned pretty bad by a few of those. Yes I'm looking at you Lone Survivor and Out of the Furnace. And yes it was exactly that, but I loved the shit ot of it, and that's mainly because of Miles Teller. What an actor; he grounds the story in a nakedly emotional place that is a joy to watch and react to. He's a student drummer trying to become great while being bullied by his profanity spewing teacher (J K Simmons). Teller, who was also great last year in The Spectacular Now, is going to have a long career.



Birdman

I saw Birdman twice. First I wasn't impressed. I was too distracted by the intruding jazz score that I could not get into the story. I went back because I've liked every movie Alejandro G Innaritu has directed and because I suspected I might have missed something. Stories about actors are totally in my wheelhouse. And yes I liked it much better the second time around. Mainly a story of an actor in crisis about his position in the world and his legacy; its ideas about the pull between art and commerce are simplistic and nothing new. However the actors are great. And of course you've heard about the one take gimmick. That's pretty great too and definitely new and opens the story in spectacular ways allowing the scenes to breathe and the dialogue to settle. Michael Keaton in the lead is good and is matched mano a mano by an excellent Edward Norton as his nemesis. My two favorite scenes were when they both try to one up the other by showing what great actors they are. I wish the women had much to do. More women than men in this movie but they literally play : girlfriend, girfield, ex-wife, daughter and crazy old bitch critic. I enjoyed it more the second time once I accepted its heightened flights of fancy that were hard to swallow first time around. Fun but not profound.


Nightcrawler

Easily my favorite of the three. An insightful satire about the false American values of striving for success, it is also a hugely entertaining movie. The movie is bolstered by a bristiling committed performance by Jake Gyllenhaal as a man desperately needing success who finds work as a LA gonzo reporet specializing in videotaping crime scenes. He's matched by an on fire Rene Russo as a TV news reporter. They both come blazing at each other and a fantastic scene where they match wits is so good people will be talking about it after the movie ends. A lot of the drivel Gyllenhaal's character spews reminded me of many a nighmarish conversation I had in the hallways of corporate America. It sent a shiver down my spine. Nightcrawler brilliantly succeeds at what The Wolf of Wall Street tried to do last year; provide a biting critique of some of the values that make us lose our way. And in 2 hours no less; no excess with this movie.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

It's Always Carol

I'm thinking of changing the name of this blog to Carol: The Most Anticipated Movie in History of Cinema.

The lovely Miss Belivet has created the swooniest Gifs ever. For those anticipating, enjoy!




These images are better than I ever imagined. Looks like the movie will have the romantic scope, lush visuals (not just the actresses but also costumes and design) that I had hoped for. Swooning.