88th Academy Awards Predictions

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Tonight is the night! Although I wasn’t able to see as many of the nominees as I would have liked I figure I might as well throw some picks out there and just see if I get lucky.

Best Visual Effects

  • Ex Machina
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I have to go with my heart on this one, I thought Star Wars was stunning. I’ve heard great things about Ex Machina as a film and will keep it on my list to see but for the category I’ll hope the Force is with me although a Mad Max win wouldn’t surprise me.

Best Film Editing

  • The Big Short
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Revenant
  • Spotlight
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I find it hard to make a pick in the editing category because I’m not versed enough in filmography to really understand what I’m looking for. That being said I will cast my vote for Mad Max: Fury Road.

Best Costume Design

  • Carol
  • Cinderella
  • The Danish Girl
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Revenant

Well considering I’ve only seen two of the five nominees I feel I should pick between them. The Revenant certainly didn’t impress me from a costume standpoint so I’ll once again choose Mad Max. I have a secret hope for Cinderella to win though just to give me another reason to want to see it.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

  • The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Revenant

What the heck is that first movie? Mad Max had some cool stuff in it but I think I’ll go with The Revenant this time. The wounds on DiCaprio’s character after the bear attack were pretty great and I’m sure that took some serious work. Plus there were a lot of bald people in Mad Max.

Best Cinematography

  • Carol
  • The Hateful Eight
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Revenant
  • Sicario

I want to see The Hateful Eight so bad. I’m upset that I didn’t get to it prior to the awards show. I’d expect from what I know about it that it will not be the winner of this award however. I believe I’ll choose The Revenant for this category.

Best Production Design

  • Bridge of Spies
  • The Danish Girl
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant

My understanding of this category unfortunately leads me away from Mad Max and The Martian. Both of those films were filmed on neat sets of dirt. The Revenant appeared to be in well chosen natural areas of the earth, but Bridge of Spies required some recreation of historical settings. Since I know nothing about The Danish Girl I’m giving the nod to Bridge of Spies.

Best Sound Mixing

  • Bridge of Spies
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Much like the visual effects category I think this will come down to Mad Max and Star Wars. Once again I’m going to use the Force.

Best Sound Editing

  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant
  • Sicario
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I wish someone could explain exactly what makes this category different from the last. That being said how do I not choose Star Wars again?

Best Original Song

  • “Earned It” from Fifty Shades of Grey
  • “Manta Ray” from Racing Extinction
  • “Simple Song #3” from Youth
  • “Til It Happens to You” from The Hunting Ground
  • “Writing’s on the Wall” from Spectre

I’m pretty sure I’ve heard none of these. Til It Happens to You has Lady Gaga attached to it and she’s having a heck of a year so far. That sounds like a winner to me!

Best Original Score

  • Bridge of Spies
  • Carol
  • The Hateful Eight
  • Sicario
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Is there any question as to my pick here? I consider Star Wars the greatest overall score ever! I’ve got a bad feeling about this though. This is the seventh time this score has been revised whereas the other nominees are probably considered more “original.” I’m sticking with John Williams until he just can’t make the music anymore.

Best Animated Short Film

  • Body Team 12
  • Chau, Beyond the Lines
  • Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah
  • A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness
  • Last Day of Freedom

Body Team 12 sounds cool I guess?

Best Animated Feature Film

  • Anomalisa
  • Boy & the World
  • Inside Out
  • Shaun the Sheep Movie
  • When Marnie Was There

I will be sorely disappointed if Inside Out does not win this award. I haven’t had a chance to talk about it online but this film catapulted itself up to one of my favorite animated films ever. It really gave me the feels as the kids say.

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • The Big Short
  • Brooklyn
  • Carol
  • The Martian
  • Room

Some really good films on this list but I said it in my last review, The Martian needs this award.

Best Original Screenplay

  • Bridge of Spies
  • Ex Machina
  • Inside Out
  • Spotlight
  • Straight Outta Compton

This is a toughie. I heard great things about Straight Outta Compton but it’s not a subject matter that I have any interest in seeing. I just said Inside Out is one of my favorite animated films, Bridge of Spies and Spotlight were two of the best films I saw this year, and Ex Machina has me intrigued. Since I have to choose only one I opt for Bridge of Spies but without much confidence.

Best Supporting Actress

  • Jennifer Jason Leigh – The Hateful Eight
  • Rooney Mara – Carol
  • Rachel McAdams – Spotlight
  • Alicia Vikander – The Danish Girl
  • Kate Winslet – Steve Jobs

I’ve already expressed how much I want to see The Hateful Eight and this is just another reason why. Rachel McAdams is a pretty compelling choice but I did get the chance to watch Steve Jobs just yesterday and I though Kate Winslet did a great job. She gets my vote. (**Spoiler Alert: At least somebody from Titanic will!)

Best Supporting Actor

  • Christian Bale – The Big Short
  • Tom Hardy – The Revenant
  • Mark Ruffalo – Spotlight
  • Mark Rylance – Bridge of Spies
  • Sylvester Stallone – Creed

This category is killing me. I’ve made it very clear in many of my reviews that I want Rocky to win this more than any other pick I make. That being said, there are some great performances in this category. Christian Bale was awesome at quirky, Mark Ruffalo was passionate, Mark Rylance was endearing, and Tom Hardy didn’t stink. Rocky! Rocky! Rocky!

Best Actress

  • Cate Blanchett – Carol
  • Brie Larson – Room
  • Jennifer Lawrence – Joy
  • Charlotte Rampling – 45 Years
  • Saoirse Ronan – Brooklyn

I have no idea. I liked Brie Larson but it was really Jacob Tremblay that made the movie for me. I hated Brooklyn but I guess Ronan was all right. Jennifer Lawrence makes a great Mistique and Katniss but I haven’t seen Joy or either of the other two nominees. I think I’ll pick Cate Blanchett simply because I don’t think I ever gave Lord of the Rings enough credit.

Best Actor

  • Bryan Cranston – Trumbo
  • Matt Damon – The Martian
  • Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant
  • Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs
  • Eddie Redmayne – The Danish Girl

I picked Matt Damon in my review of The Martian. After doing so I have watched Steve Jobs and as I type this I have Trumbo playing in the background. I’m not giving it much attention obviously because I’m focused on these predictions in the closing minutes before the show starts. Cranston seems to be killing it though so I’m gonna watch Trumbo with more attention later. Fassbender did a nice job, see what I did there? I’ve only heard stories about the man that was Steve Jobs so it’s hard to say how accurate the depiction was but I liked it. I’ve already stated that DiCaprio didn’t do anything to impress me in The Revenant. He whispered and he crawled so those things are cool. I’m not anti-Leo I promise. I’m not a fan to say the least but I’ve appreciated many of the roles he has played. I don’t think this needs to be the one that gets him over the Oscar hump though so I certainly hope he’s not given the win just because. Sorry Eddie I haven’t seen your movie. I’m going to change my choice here to Bryan Cranston.

Best Director

  • Adam McKay – The Big Short
  • George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Alejandro G. Iñárritu – The Revenant
  • Lenny Abrahamson – Room
  • Tom McCarthy – Spotlight

All of these films were really good. I wish Ridley Scott was on the list though. Since he’s not I suppose I will select George Miller for nostalgia’s sake.

Best Picture

  • The Big Short
  • Bridge of Spies
  • Brooklyn
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant
  • Room
  • Spotlight

Since the purpose of my last eight posts was to come to this point I’ve already made it clear that The Martian is my favorite film on this list. Knowing that I typically disagree with the academy’s choices I expect I will be wrong. If so I hope that the award would go to either Bridge of Spies or Spotlight. The official pick will stay as The Martian though.

Well that’s it my friends, I’ll report back with my score once we see how poorly I did! Enjoy the show.

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Published in: on February 28, 2016 at 7:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Martian (2015)

  • The Martian-posterDirected by Ridley Scott
  • Produced by Simon Kinberg, Ridley Scott, Aditya Sood, Michael Schaefer & Mark Huffam
  • Screenplay by Drew Goddard
  • Based on The Martian by Andy Weir
  • Starring: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Sean Bean, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie & Chiwetel Ejiofor
  • Released: October 2, 2015
  • Running Time: 141 minutes
  • Nominated for seven Academy Awards: Best Picture, Actor (Damon), Visual Effects, Sound Editing, Adapted Screenplay, Sound Mixing & Production Design

During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive.

I was able to go see The Martian in theaters when it was first released. I loved it! I had only recently heard of the novel and was anxious to see the film since I can’t seem to make time to read these days. Since I saw it earlier I saved it for my final watch to be certain that I could see all of the other 7 nominees. Upon a second viewing I think I like this movie even more.

This is great story. I’ve always been fascinated with space and the solar system and all of the unknowns that make up our universe.  Star Wars has always been my favorite movie series, I’ve enjoyed the fictional space world, Star Trek, Aliens, 2001, Total Recall (both versions), Close Encounters, heck even Armageddon was pretty decent. Obviously the more real to life things like Apollo 13 and HBO’s From the Earth to the Moon were big hits for me. I’ll make a case for Space Camp the movie but maybe that’s just because I was privileged to attend Space Camp as a young boy not long after the horrible Challenger disaster. My point is I love space movies. The Martian does not disappoint. The concept of Mars Missions is not that out of the question. It’s something humans have been working towards for decades. This film takes place in the not too distant future. I’m not certain that an exact date was ever stated but in an extra feature with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson he mentions the first manned Mars mission in 2029 so I’m guessing this mission would be within 20 years or so of that. Therefore, because we can believe everything we see in movies I expect to see men on Mars in my lifetime, therefore making fitting this film in with all the rest as based on a true story…yet to come.

Matt Damon was awesome. He provides a tremendous performance of Mark Watney, a man stranded alone on a planet over 140 million miles from home. His wit and swagger are funny as he catalogs his experiences to a video library. He uses every scientific thing he’s probably ever learned to create ways to survive and make contact with Earth. Back home NASA director Teddy Sanders (Daniels) works with experts to devise a plan to rescue Mark. I’ve really become fan of Jeff Daniels in the last few years. The Newsroom on HBO was a wonderful show that I wish was still airing. Let us not forget the spectacular acting job that was Dumb and Dumber.

The Martian won the Golden Globe for Best Musical/Comedy which is tough to comprehend since I don’t consider it to be in either of those categories despite Damon’s humor. My fear is that for some reason the “experts” are so determined to get Leonardo DiCaprio a best actor win that they will overlook how great this film is in order to recognize The Revenant more. In a year where I got the chance to see a seventh Rocky movie AND a seventh Star Wars movie The Martian stands up as one of my favorite films of the year. Had those other two not been released and/or the sagas not been so dear to my heart there is no doubt that this would be THE favorite of the year. The Martian deserves best picture, best actor, and best adapted screenplay at the very least. If you only see one nominated film from 2015 (what’s wrong with you), make sure to see this film.

My Rating (1-10): 10

Published in: on February 27, 2016 at 2:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Revenant (2015)

  • Directed by Alejandro G. IñárrituThe Revenant-poster
  • Produced by Arnon Milchan, Steve Golin, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Mary Parent, Keith Redmon & James W. Skotchdopole
  • Screenplay by Mark L. Smith & Alejandro G. Iñárritu
  • Based on The Revenant by Michael Punke
  • Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson & Will Poulter
  • Released: December 25, 2015
  • Running Time: 156 minutes
  • Nominated for twelve Academy Awards: Best Picture, Actor (DiCaprio), Cinematography, Director, Supporting Actor (Hardy), Costume Design, Sound Editing, Film Editing, Sound Mixing, Production Design, Makeup and Hair styling & Visual Effects

A frontiersman on a fur trading expedition in the 1820’s fights for survival after being mauled by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team.

Continuing the trend, we have another film based on a true story. It’s fine. I almost hate that it is based on real events because it’d be much easier to believe this survival tale if it was fiction. I’m sure this Hugh Glass fella (DiCaprio), really was a great wilderness guide. However, the hurdles he overcomes to get through this story are beyond my level of comprehension. I’ll set that aside for now, something like this actually happened or so I’m told.

The bear attack was great! If there’s a best animal category for an Oscar I vote that this bear gets a nomination. Of course there’s no such category but I’m pretty sure there was no bear either. You can’t tell that in the film however. This was a very good use of CGI or motion capture or whatever other movie tricks were implemented. Following Glass through the trials and tribulations of trying to survive alone in the frozen mountainous region was slow. There was a minimal amount of dialogue in the film with a significant amount of what was there being conveyed through subtitles.  I don’t love subtitles but I appreciate them more than me trying to believe that everyone in the world for all of time speaks English so I tolerate them. I just hate that reading the screen draws my attention away from what is happening on the screen. I’ll probably get over that about the same time I decide that paying to park is a good idea.

I must admit in advance that I’ve never been a DiCaprio fan. I’ve liked plenty of movies he has been in but he’s never impressed me as an actor. The Revenant hasn’t changed my opinion. He did fight a bear! Otherwise I feel like he laid, crawled, or hobbled his way around. He had a less menacing whisper voice (due to injury) than Christian Bale’s Dark Knight had so I guess that’s good? I don’t think I will get around to many of the other Best Actor nominees performances prior to the awards presentation.  I feel that if the Academy decides to give the Oscar to Leo it is either out of pity for him not winning yet or because the other actors don’t do much either. I like Matt Damon’s performance (The Martian) but I’m not willing to call it Best Actor worthy either. Tom Hardy was decent as John Fitzgerald, Glass’ human nemesis. I think I liked his man of few words Mad Max performance more than his backwoods jerk in The Revenant. Now Bane on the other hand… I loved! If they give him the Best Supporting nod I’ll probably only be upset because I still say Rocky! Rocky! Rocky!

Look, The Revenant is a decent film, certainly worth seeing. It should win some of the thousand nominations it has received. Cinematography, makeup, maybe even an editing category, but I will be disappointed if it wins any of the big ones.

My Rating (1-10): 7

 

Published in: on February 25, 2016 at 11:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

Room (2015)

  • room-posterDirected by Lenny Abrahamson
  • Produced by Ed Guiney & David Gross
  • Screenplay by Emma Donoghue
  • Based on Room by Emma Donoghue
  • Starring: Brie Larsen, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen, Sean Bridgers & William H. Macy
  • Released: October 16, 2015
  • Running Time: 117 minutes
  • Nominated for four Academy Awards:
    Best Picture, Actress (Larsen), Director & Adapted Screenplay

After five-year-old Jack and his mother escape from the enclosed surroundings that Jack has known his entire life, the boy makes a thrilling discovery.

WOW! The short intro above, taken from IMDB, did nothing to tell me about this film. I was caught completely off guard as the story unfolded. Reading other descriptions after watching revealed what I probably should have known going into the viewing. Joy (Larsen) was kidnapped as a teenager and held captive for seven years. In that time she has a son Jack (Tremblay). They have spent his entire five years of life in a place they simply call Room. In reality it is a locked shed in the backyard of their captor. Joy has spent Jack’s life teaching him that Room is the world. Everything else is imaginary, just something for television. After his fifth birthday she creates a plan to escape.

Brie Larsen was wonderful in this film. She portrays a strong mother in a nearly hopeless situation. I may not get around to seeing all of the Best Actress nominees prior to the 88th Academy Awards show but she certainly delivers a performance worthy of her nomination. I only wish that the Academy would consider a Best Child Performance category. For many years we see child actors offer spectacular performances on screen. Jacob Tremblay did just that. His display of a gamut of emotions were spot on from anger to joy and from fear to wonder. He provides monologues as narration that perfectly describe the mind of a boy recognizing the world around him for the first time.

I was not expecting this movie to say the least and I was pleasantly surprised. I do not believe it will live up to the Best Picture award but it certainly earned the nomination. This was a beautiful picture.

My Rating (1-10): 7.5

Published in: on February 21, 2016 at 11:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

Brooklyn (2015)

  • BrooklynDirected by John Crowley
  • Produced by Finola Dwyer, Amanda Posey, Thorsten Schumacher, Beth Pattinson & Pierre Even
  • Screenplay by Nick Hornby
  • Based on Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín
  • Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson, Jim Broadbent & Julie Walters
  • Released: January 26, 2015
  • Running Time: 112 minutes
  • Nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay & Best Actress (Ronan)

An Irish immigrant lands in 1950s Brooklyn, where she quickly falls into a romance with a local. When her past catches up with her, however, she must choose between two countries and the lives that exist within.

In this romantic drama Saoirse Ronan plays Eillis Lacey, a young Irish woman who leaves her mother and sister to travel to America. She has been unhappy with her job at home and arranges through the church to find a new position in Brooklyn, NY. I’m not much into love stories just for the sake of being a love story. At least give me a romantic-comedy if we’re gonna head down that road. I suppose this is a nice story of an immigrant girl finding her dreams in the United States.  I suppose Ronan did a good job portraying said immigrant girl. That’s about all I can say about the film. I was bored. Obviously somebody likes this stuff since it’s received the Oscar nominations but I’ll be disappointed if it wins anything.

My Rating (1-10): 1

Published in: on February 21, 2016 at 7:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

Bridge of Spies (2015)

  • Directed by Steven Spielberg
  • Produced by Steve Spielberg, Marc Platt & Kristie Macosko KriegerBridge_of_Spies_poster
  • Written by Matt Charman, Joel Cohen & Ethan Cohen
  • Starring: Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Amy Ryan & Alan Alda
  • Released: October 16, 2015
  • Running Time: 141 minutes
  • Nominated for six Academy Awards: Best Picture, Actor in a Supporting Role (Rylance), Production Design, Music (Original Score), Sound Mixing & Writing (Original Screenplay)

During the Cold War, an American lawyer is recruited to defend an arrested Soviet spy in court, and then help the CIA facilitate an exchange of the spy for the Soviet captured American U-2 spy plane pilot, Francis Gary Powers.

I’m beginning to wonder if Mad Max: Fury Road was somehow based on true events that have just not been reported yet. Bridge of Spies follows suit with Spotlight and The Big Short in being based on a true story. Tom Hanks is the man. I’m not sure what else to say about him. Long past the days of Bosom Buddies and The Money Pit it seems whether comedic or dramatic he can do no wrong on camera. There was nothing out of the ordinary outstanding with this performance so I’m not surprised he is not nominated for the role but I wonder if that is also because we just expect so much from him.

Hanks plays attorney James B. Donovan who is asked to defend Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance), a Soviet spy. As would be expected this is not a favorable position for Donovan to be in the eyes of the American people. He is determined to help Abel receive a fair trial and meets tremendous resistance in the process. Meanwhile a young American pilot is shot down and captured by the Soviets. Donovan is asked to negotiate the exchange of prisoners.

I’m just old enough to remember the time where the U.S.S.R. was the focal point of every American, yet still young enough to not have lived during the peak of the cold war. The fear of nuclear war had started to subside by the time I was old enough to understand. It is sad to see the extreme prejudice shown by people towards others. We still see it today just in varying forms towards various segments of people. This is a classic tale of a man defying the norm and trying to be a good specimen of the human race. The story was well written and I could imagine every second being a very close representation to the experiences as they actually may have happened. The set designs for shots in Berlin were wonderful. Their post war struggle and power shifts were depicted wonderfully and conveyed the tragic situation that was faced by so many in that part of the world at the time. Aware that I have yet to see all of the nominations, Bridge of Spies is my current front runner for the Best Picture Oscar, and while Rylance did a terrific job as the Soviet Spy I’m counting on Rocky defeating the Russian again!

My Rating (1-10): 8

Published in: on January 31, 2016 at 11:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Big Short (2015)

  • Directed by Adam McKayThe_Big_Short_teaser_poster
  • Produced by Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Arnon Milchan & Brad Pitt
  • Screenplay by Adam McKay & Charles Randolph
  • Based on The Big Short by Michael Lewis
  • Starring: Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling & Brad Pitt
  • Released: December 11, 2015
  • Running Time: 130 minutes
  • Nominated for five Academy Awards: Best Picture, Directory, Actor in a Supporting Role (Bale), Writing (Adapted Screenplay) & Film Editing

Four denizens in the world of high-finance predict the credit and housing bubble collapse of the mid-2000s, and decide to take on the big banks for their greed and lack of foresight.

The theme for the 2015 Oscars must be films based on true events. This makes two movies in a row which fit that standard. The Big Short is the story of investors who gamble on the downfall of the American mortgage industry and won big, while the rest of the world lost. As most will, I recall the economic turn that transpired around 2007-08, but I’m not overly informed about the ins and outs of investment banking and such. This film makes an interesting attempt to explain parts of the business to the layman such as myself. Cutaways, and celebrity appearances offer metaphorical descriptions of terms such as subprime and CDO in very unusual ways. The quick cuts and seemingly random imagery throughout the film are a little hard to follow but unique in their presentation. Steve Carell provides the dominant performance in the movie in a very rare if ever seen serious role. Interestingly enough he made me laugh even though he was obviously not trying to be funny. Christian Bale took on the role of Michael Burry, the quirky hedge fund manager who first discovered the impending mortgage crisis. Reading more about Dr. Burry I’ve learned that he believes himself to have Asperger syndrome thus explaining the quirky description above. I thought that Bale put forth a great performance which will undoubtedly not help my Rocky for Supporting Actor campaign. Since this is a true to life story, there isn’t a great deal of suspense or wonder in how things will turn out. I enjoyed the story, particularly the unusual way it was filmed however, I can’t see that it will get much consideration for the Best Picture award. Editing and possibly even Adapted Screenplay could both be potential wins for this picture in my opinion.

My Rating (1-10): 6.5

 

Published in: on January 31, 2016 at 7:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

Spotlight (2015)

  • Directed by Tom McCarthy
  • Produced by Blye Pagon Faust, Steve Golin, Nicole Rocklin & Michael Sugar
  • Written by Tom McCarthy & Josh SingerSpotlight_(film)_poster
  • Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Shreiber, John Slattery & Stanley Tucci
  • Released: November 6, 2015
  • Running Time: 129 minutes
  • Nominated for six Academy Awards: Best Picture, Director, Actor in a Supporting Role (Ruffalo), Actress in a Supporting Role (McAdams), Film Editing, & Writing (Original Screenplay)

The true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese, shaking the entire Catholic Church to its core.

Like many of the 2015 nominees, this film slipped under my radar without ever hearing a thing about it’s existence. Afterall, it’s tough to have me miss a movie with Batman, The Hulk, Sabertooth, Howard Stark, Dr. Manhattan, Robert Queen & Dr. Erskine all in the same non-comic book story! That aside, this was a wonderful movie. In the past year or so I took time to watch HBO’s “Newsroom” which chronicled a television news studio through their daily activities including reporting on many current news stories happening in the real world. This film follows a similar pattern with a newspaper. The “Spotlight” is a small segment of the reporting staff of The Boston Globe that extensively investigates big stories and has reported some of the biggest news in the country over the last few decades and is the oldest continuously operating unit of its kind in the U.S. The new editor of The Boston Globe encourages this group to look deeper into accusations of child molestation and cover up scandals within the Roman Catholic church. Michael Keaton plays veteran newsman Robby Robinson who leads the Spotlight team through the research process including interviews with victims, attorneys, and clergymen around the Boston area. The team learns that the church has significant power and influence that stretches deep into its hierarchy making exposure an daunting task. Supporting Actor nominee Mark Ruffalo plays a passionate Pulitzer Prize winning reporter named Michael Rezendes who uncovers some of the most damning evidence in the case and is charged with the primary writing of the team’s story. Supporting Actress nominee Rachel McAdams depicts writer Sacha Pfeiffer who is tasked with interviews with victims who must rehash devastating details from their abuse as children. The story is compelling, even more so knowing that it is based on true events, and well told. The actors do a wonderful job of conveying the emotion and terror that would come from a situation involving such heinous acts. I can completely understand how this film has received the nomination for Best Picture and I hope it has much success at the Academy Awards. Well, except for Ruffalo, but I am running my own Sylvester “Rocky Balboa” Stallone campaign for Best Supporting Actor that will be addressed later.

My Rating (1-10): 8.5

Published in: on January 31, 2016 at 4:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

  • imagesDirected by George Miller
  • Produced by Doug Mitchell, George Miller & P.J. Voeten
  • Written by George Miller, Brendan McCarthy & Nico Lathouris
  • Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Zoë Kravitz, Abbey Lee & Courtney Eaton
  • Released: May 15, 2015
  • Running Time: 120 minutes
  • Nominated for ten Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Mixing & Best Sound Editing

An apocalyptic story set in the furthest reaches of our planet, in a stark desert landscape where humanity is broken, and almost everyone is crazed fighting for the necessities of life. Within this world exist two rebels on the run who just might be able to restore order. There’s Max, a man of action and a man of few words, who seeks peace of mind following the loss of his wife and child in the aftermath of the chaos. And Furiosa, a woman of action and a woman who believes her path to survival may be achieved if she can make it across the desert back to her childhood homeland.

Let me begin with the fact that I somehow missed the Mad Max Saga growing up. Naturally, I knew of it, especially being a Lethal Weapon fan therefore liking Mel Gibson. However, I had never watched any of the previous three films. I felt like in order to enjoy, understand and potentially review this latest chapter I must go back and familiarize myself with the story. Maybe I expected too much. I watched all three movies Mad Max, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. I was thoroughly unimpressed with the original film. Part two did seem to me to have a better overall story and I enjoyed it slightly more. The third installment lost me once again, however I now at least had a basis for the character and general story.

Mad Max: Fury Road is another story about funky vehicles, weapons, costumes and crashes. Tom Hardy takes over the role of Max, and true to the history of the character doesn’t say much. He is still a lone wolf in this chaotic world and is slow to ally himself with Furiosa (Charlize Theron) in her quest to escape a life she was forced into in hopes of a home that she was stolen from as a child. In the process she also seeks to free a harem of women referred to as “breeders” from the tyrannical leader Joe. They are pursued by Joe and his army of War Boys for what seems to be days yet nobody ever needs to find a gas station. Many obstacles hinder the escape plan beyond just the relentless attacks of the War Boys. The wild vehicle modifications and contraptions that are used in this world are creative for sure but often times unnecessary and seemingly pointless. I don’t fully understand the War Boys and their affliction but they are certainly loyal to their cause. Compared to the original movies this seemed to at least have a story I could follow despite not really grasping the background of the characters and the world they live in. Very minimal amounts of dialogue are found throughout the movie, it truly is a bunch of car chases and crashes. Don’t get me wrong, it was action packed and fun but I just don’t think I’m a fan of the Mad Max world. I’m sure with the box office success that it has had and now the multiple award nominations it has received we will see more of this series of films in the future.  Speaking of the nominations, I could understand Fury Road winning numerous Academy Awards for the technical aspects (Production Design, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, and Film Editing) also for the Costume and Make Up categories however I’d be surprised/disappointed if this is what the Academy chose for Best Picture or Director.

My Rating (1-10): 6

Published in: on January 31, 2016 at 1:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

Django Unchained (2012)

  • Django UnchainedDirected by Quentin Tarantino
  • Produced by Stacey Sher, Reginald Hudlin & Pilar Savone
  • Written by Quentin Tarantino
  • Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Walton Goggins, Dennis Christopher, James Remar, Michael Parks & Don Johnson
  • Released: December 25, 2012
  • Running Time: 165 minutes
  • Nominated for five Academy Awards: Best Picture, Actor in a Supporting Role (Waltz), Cinematography, Sound Editing & Writing (Original Screenplay)

With the help of a German bounty hunter, a freed slave sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner. – IMDB

If I said I was a growing Affleck fan it doesn’t compare to the joy I get from Tarantino films. The over the top style that typically comes in a Tarantino flick gives me a certain comic book bliss that doesn’t come often in films. Django was no different, granted he achieves this through extremely graphic/bloody kill scenes but that’s pretty normal for him too.

I’ve seen both historical and fictional representations of the slavery era in our country many times. This was a very different look at that time. Jamie Foxx has come a long way since In Living Color in the early 1990’s. Waltz, while by no means new to acting, is certainly a fresh face for the US film market and is taking it by storm. Jackson is fantastic in everything he does and this is no exception, heck I even like DiCaprio in this movie and he has been hit and miss for me over the years. Due to the nature and setting of the film if you are offended by the “N” word just don’t bother watching.

Django is a fun western adventure with lots of Tarantino flare mixed in. Probably still not my pick to win but I’ll watch it again sometime.

My Rating (1-10): 8

Published in: on February 21, 2013 at 12:36 pm  Leave a Comment