Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Oscar Roundup: Predictions, Mini-Reviews, and Snubs!

Alrighty y'all, it's the time of the year where if I were a betting woman, I would be able to pay for my college education.
Let's get down to business.


La La Land- The surefire frontrunner of the competition this year. This film is so much fun and a welcome break from everything in your life right now. I promise. I personally really liked this movie, even if I do feel it is a tad overhyped (and to an extent, over-criticized!). But when ya got Emma Stone getting her Les Miserables close up moment, it's all good. Bet on it to win.

Moonlight- I was watching the Best of 2016 episode of Movie Fights (shoutout to my Screen Junkies), in which this film was brought up often, when somebody on the panel said that they almost felt uncomfortable watching this movie, because it felt like they were walking in on something private and very intimate. That hits the nail on the head. Moonlight is positively luminous. It really feels like nothing I've ever seen, and probably won't see anything like it ever again.  And the cast is beyond amazing. Don't expect it to win the big prize, but don't miss it.

Manchester by the Sea- Another really unique film that positively broke my heart. It's very bleak, but very moving, and a very human story with characters that really feel like real human beings. Michele Williams is standout, but everyone here does a really amazing job with the film. I don't want to spoil anything, because it really is something to watch this story unfold before you, but I definitely recommend this one. Again, don't expect it to win Best Picture tho.

Hidden Figures- YES! This movie is one giant jump-in-the-air-fist-pumping-screaming-at-the-top-of-your-lungs yes! Our three leads, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae (in a wonderful debut performance after creating some awesome jamz), and the incomparable Taraji P. Henson are killing it in this movie. It's worth it for their performances, for sure. There are a couple of moments that fall into feel-good cheesiness, but with a cast of this caliber, they carry it perfectly.

Arrival- This one initially kind of surprised me at ending up in so many categories, but when I finally got the chance to see it, I definitely understood why. This film joins the recent collection of awesome sci-fi films that really make you think about our world at large. Throw in Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner on top of that and it is both a crowd pleaser and and a wonderfully emotional journey.

Hacksaw Ridge- I skipped out on this movie admittedly just because, honestly, I don't like Mel Gibson. So uh....yeah. It's not gonna win Best Picture, and I guess that's all ya really need to know.

Lion- This is a film I predicted would get swapped with Silence for a Best Picture nom, but I was wrong (more about that later). However, it is a very sweet movie, and Dev Patel really shows some amazing growth as an actor. The cinematography is beautiful as well.

Fences- Being the little theater nerd I am (and my awkward encounter with Denzell in New York that one time) I rushed to the theaters as soon as this opened in my town. And for the most part, I definitely really loved it. If anything, I would have liked to have seen this opened up a bit more as a film. You can tell this was a play. Like, it pretty much all but tells you that there's an intermission what with a well done montage. But the performances are great. Sometimes when the star is directing, it feels a little self-indulgent, but I thought Washington showed remarkable restraint, and deft directing capabilities. And Viola Davis si set for gold with the amazing performance she gives in this movie. She is devastating.

Hell or High Water- An interesting little western heist craziness. This film is also a statement of our political times and such. It's very character driven, and again, totally beautiful dusty cinematography. This was another one that kinda snuck into the category for me, but I really did enjoy it.

Consensus: La La Land all the way.

Best Director

Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)
Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea)
Denis Villenueve (Arrival)
Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge)

Damien has it in the bag, my friends. He updated the movie musical for our modern times and created a beautiful pallette with which to paint his picture. I would have loved to see Scorsese for Silence in here though.

Best Actress
Emma Stone (La La Land)
Natalie Portman (Jackie)
Isabelle Huppert (Elle)
Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)
Ruth Negga (Loving)

This one has definitely been a little switchy for my these past couple of weeks, but when in doubt, pick La La Land. That's not to say that Emma isn't totally amazing in it though, she really makes the movie what it is. I would have nominated Taraji P. Henson for Hidden Figures over Meryl Streep though. Florense Foster Jenkins was a super fun little movie, but not in the league of other great Streep performances.

Best Actor
Denzel Washington (Fences)
Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)
Ryan Gosling (La La Land)
Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge)
Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic)

Oh man, I was so happy to see Viggo get a nomination, Captain Fantastic was a really awesome under-rated movie from last year. That being said, it's looking more and more like a Denzel victory these days. Also, Andrew Garfield was way more awesome in Silence, but I guess we just aren't allowed to have any fun.

Best Supporting Actress
Viola Davis (Fences)
Michele Williams (Manchester by the Sea)
Naomie Harris (Moonlight)
Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures)
Nicole Kidman (Lion)

Viola Davis is set to finally get her long due Oscar! Her work in Fences is beautiful, and absolutely not to be missed. No real subs for me here.

Best Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water)
Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals)
Dev Patel (Lion)
Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea)

Definitely a sort of weird lineup over here, but Mahershala has my pick to win. He really pulls the threads of Moonlight together, truly supporting all the other wonderful performances of the film. As far as snubs, I thought Adam Driver in Silence should have been nominated (possibly in place of the weirdly picked Michael Shannon, even though I really enjoyed Nocturnal Animals).

Those are the big categories that I know most people care about. The only other snub that really bothered me was the omission of Michael Giachino's amazing Doctor Strange score. I would have loved to see that represented.
Anyway, have fun betting, and I'll see you after the big show!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Things That Were Awesome in 2016

I think we can all agree it's been a bit of a terrible year yeah? But here are some things that were pretty neat.

1. Lady Gaga's Joanne. The queen of crazy remained a tour de force with this excellent collection of slightly stripped back but still utterly Gaga jamz. If John Wayne ever comes on in my car, you know it's going down.

2. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. If you had told me that wizards putting New York back together in a beautiful sun shower would reduce me to a big ole mess.....I probably would have still believed you but still it was totally awesome.

3. Dirk Gently. I literally just finished this show in like two days and it blew my mind. It's the craziest of crazies. Bonus points for cute dog!

4. Wrassling. Yep. You read that correctly. WWE. Wrassling. The greatest soap opera story on television right now is the breakup of Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho, not even lying (them getting back together was pretty good too). Wrassling is live theater performed every week for realsies (but also not for realsies). And it's completely amazing. (Getting to see it live this year was pretty neat too.)

5. Similarly to last year's inclusion of Dole Whip, I would like to add Be Our Guest's Gray Stuff to the list this year. Finally getting a chance to eat here (five days away from my eighteenth birthday!) was a total dream come true, and the gray stuff was indeed delicious, as the dishes had told me.

6.Natasha Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812. Seventy pages of War and Peace (which I'm reading right now and will probably never finish) all put on the stage as an electropop opera starring Josh Groban. You didn't know you wanted it, but trust me, you do.

7. Sushi. Anyone denying themselves the joy of a spicy shrimp roll is truly missing out. Eat the wasabi you weirdos!

8. Season 2 of Unbreakable Kimmy Schimdt. My Netflix tastes vary wildly from the gothest (see next post), to the madcap comedy of the brilliantly written Kimmy. Any day can immediately be made better by the comedic stylings of Ellie Kemper, Tituss Burgess, Carol Kane (why are you not my weird aunt?), and Jane Krakowski. I especially enjoyed all the Broadway shenanigans this season.

9.The Crow. Bless you Netflix, for having this be the very last thing I hadn't yet seen on my watchlist, but keeping it on til I got there anyway. I am kicking myself for not checking it out sooner. All behind the scenes tragedy aside, it pretty much does not get better than this film. And the soundtrack is fantastic as well. (Weird story: I had a lovely conversation with David Patrick Kelly, who is in this movie, after seeing him perform in Once on Broadway. Lost my mind when I saw his name at the end of the credits).

10. The Cincinnati Art Museum. Seriously one of the best museums I've ever been to, AND it's free. It's always amazing to see a Van Gogh in person, and seriously some of the best curated galleries I've ever seen. If you're ever in the area, don't miss it.

11. Jeff Buckley. Yeah I know, behind on the times, but if you haven't taken a listen to Buckley's only full studio album, Grace, stop reading this and go do so immediately.

12. Lin Manuel Miranda. If it was anyone's year, it was Lin's. This dude can do pretty much anything. Moana, Hamilton, it's associated mixtape, were all completely fabulous. And shoutout to hometown hero Michael Luwoye for being the first dude to play Hamilton and Burr!

13.The touring company of The Bridges of Madison County. I was lucky enough to see this show in May and it was absolutely amazing. When you have people like Kelli O Hara and Steven Pasquale setting the standard in this show, there are a lot of expectations to rise up to. Andrew Samonsky and Elizabeth Stanley both more than rose to the occasion and really made it something special. Also thanks for letting me be a dork and chat with you after the show.

14. Cannoli. I don't know, is it ever a bad time to love cannoli?


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Tony Nominations! Hamiltimes, Spring Awakening, and The Great Snub of American Psycho

The three people who read this blog surely know of my propensity for the Oscars, going so far as to do like a million posts on them before nomination even come out. However, my heart truly belongs to Broadway, so let's get some Tony predictions rolling. Because honestly, my nomination predictions were off and I'm mad about it.

Best Musical
Bright Star
School of Rock
Shuffle Along...

So Hamilton. Also, kind of mad American Psycho isn't here, because it's really awesome and innovative.

Best Revival of  A Musical
The Color Purple
Fiddler on the Roof
She Loves Me
Spring Awakening

YES SPRING AWAKENING MADE IT I AM SO PROUD. Anyway, I'm going to say it's a fight between Color Purple and She Loves Me, although I'd give the edge to Color Purple.

Best Leading Actor in a Play
Gabriel Byrne (Long Day's Journey Into Night)
Jeff Daniels (Blackbird)
Frank Langella (The Father)
Tom Pigott-Smith (King Charles III)
Mark Strong (A View From The Bridge)

I don't really know who to call here. I think I'm going to go for a Frank Langella vs. Tom Pigott-Smith.

Best Leading Actress in a Play
Jessica Lange (Long Day's Journey Into Night)
Laruie Metcalf (Misery)
Lupita N'Yongo
Sophie Okonedo (The Crucible)
Michelle Williams (Blackbird)

I'm calling Jessica Lange. Lupita would be the possible upset. Also, super weird that Laurie Metcalf got in here.

Best Leading Actor in a Musical
Alex Brightman (School of Rock)
Danny Burstein (Fiddler on the Roof)
Zachary Levi (She Loves Me)
Lin Manuel-Miranda (Hamilton)
Leslie Odom Jr. (Hamilton)

Leslie Odom Jr. is my prediction, his work takes Aaron Burr from a villain to something else entirely. Where is Benjamin Walker? His performance in American Psycho was honestly my top pick for a nomination for that show.

Best Leading Actress in a Musical
Carmen Cusack (Bright Star)
Laura Benanti (She Loves Me)
Cynthia Erivo (The Color Purple)
Jessie Mueller (Waitress)
Phillipa Soo (Hamilton)

It's Cynthia Erivo's award to lose. Kind of surprised that Audra didn't get a nomination.

Best Score
Waitress (Sara Barielles)
Bright Star (Steve Martin and Edie Brickell)
Hamilton (Lin-Manuel Miranda)
School of Rock (Glenn Slater and Andrew Lloyd Webber)

Hamilton. Sorry, I don't make the rules.

Best Orchestrations
Bright Star
She Loves Me
Shuffle Along

Hamilton again for me. Alex Lacamoire's work is superb.

Best Choreography
Shuffle Along
On Your Feet!
Fiddler on the Roof
Dames at Sea

Hamilton. Also, Spring Awakening should definitely have been here. Their integration of ASL into choreo was one of the most revolutoinary aspects of this show.

Best Scenic Design of A Musical
American Psycho
Shuffle Along
She Loves Me

Hamilton with a possible American Psycho upset.

Best Costume Design of a Play
Long Day's Journey Into Night
Noises Off
King Charles III

I don't know, King Charles?

Best Costume Design of A Musical
Tuck Everlasting
She Loves Me
Shuffle Along

I'm calling Hamilton, but I def could see She Loves Me or Shuffle pulling an upset.

Best Book
School of Rock
Bright Star 
Shuffle Along


Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Shuffle ALong
Spring Awakening
American Psycho


Best Direction of a Musical
Spring Awakening
The Color Purple
She Loves Me
Shuffle Along


Best Featured Actress in a Play
Pascale Armand (Eclipsed)
Megan Hilty (Noises Off)
Jayne Houdeyshell (The Humans)
Andrea Martin (Noises Off)
Saycon Sengbloh (Eclipsed) 

I'm thinking Megan Hilty. Maybe one of the amazing Eclipsed ladies could get in.

Best Featured Actress in a Musical
Danielle Brooks (The Color Purple)
Renee Elise Goldsberry (Hamilton)
Jane Krakowski (She Loves Me)
Jennifer Simard (Disaster!)
Adrienne Warren (Shuffle Along...)

Renee Elise Goldsberry has it in the bag, now that Jennifer Hudson has been snubbed (What???). Also, lol that this is Disaster!'s only nomination.

Best Featured Actor in a Musical
Daveed Diggs (Hamilton)
Brandon Victor Dixon (Shuffle Along)
Christopher Fitzgerald (Waitress)
Jonathon Groff (Hamilton)
Christopher Jackson (Hamilton)

Okay, Groff being here is frankly overkill, but whatever. I'm calling Daveed for this one, he's incredible.

Best Direction of a Play
Rupert Goold (King Charles III)
Jonathon Kent (Long Day's Journey Into Night)
Joe Mantello (The Humans)
Ivo Van Hove (A View From the Bridge)
Liesel Tommy (Eclipsed)

Ivo Van Hove for me. I think. I don't know, plays are so unpredictable.

Best Revival of a Play
The Crucible
A View From The Bridge
Long Day's Journey Into Night
Noises Off

I'm saying View From The Bridge.

Best Play
The Father
The Humans
King Charles III

I'm hoping for Eclipsed, but maybe possible The Humans.

Hamiltonys indeed.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Batman vs. Superman is Basically the Worst Movie Ever

A few months prior to this day, if anyone had asked me what the worst superhero movie (and honestly, maybe worst action film) could possibly be, I would have said without hesitation that fabled classic of doom, Batman and Robin. George Clooney, bat nipples, Mr. Freeze, it's just a stupendous disaster.

Well friends, Batman and Robin has been usurped, by none other than...Batman himself.

Yep, Batman Vs. Superman is unequivocally the worst thing I have had the misfortune to put myself through.

I've seen a lot of things in my life. Terrible non-equity tour of Beauty and the Beast, misguided teenage girls squeaking out Defying Gravity on youtube, church solo messups, but none of them can compare to the disaster that unfolds in Dawn of Justice.

I don't even know where the begin. So here's a non linear bullet list (like the bullet I wanted to put through that batmobile)

-There's a whole ten minute scene dedicated to how Kryptonite works. Because clearly, as American citizens, none of us know how this extremely obscure. hardly ever discussed, and definitely not iconic substance affects Superman.

-Hackneyed religious imagery is everywhere. I'm usually the first person to jump on board the symbolism train, but in this instance, it just ain't that deep fam.

-Apparently for  anything Lois Lane says to be interesting, she must be naked in a bathtub and she must have sex with Clark directly after. I'm not even kidding, that may be the worst scene in this steaming pile of a film.

-I desperately wanted to usher away the talent of Julianne Moore, Jeremy Irons, and Laurence Fishburne to something more fun at the very least. Thankless roles in an already thankless movie. I spent pretty much every Daily Planet scene hoping that dear old Perry would just deck Clark already. (I would have paid so much money to see Perry actually just rip everybody in this movie a new one. Seriously, so entertaining).

-Not even a twitchy Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor could give this thing any leverage. He's clearly having a lot of fun and could possibly have given us a really interesting interpretation of the character if the writing for this movie could have been any fraction of an inch better.

-In a way, the same goes for the much contested merits of Ben Affleck's Batman. If the writing had been any better, he would have been awesome. But instead, he has to suffer through this scene.
Batman: Do you bleed?
Superman: *flies away*
Batman, grumbling: You will.

That dialog got approved by not just one, not just two, but SEVERAL PEOPLE.

-Like most superhero movies, I was expecting the obligatory forty five minute battle that will inevitably clog up the ending of the movie. This one is like.... an hour and a half of this movie's already ridiculous TWO AND A HALF HOURS OF SUFFERING.

(I'm really sorry for all the caps, I'll get to that).

-We have to watch Thomas and Martha Wayne die on film for the.....millionth time. New actor and everything. Aaaaagain.

-I was vastly more interested in our side characters. Ezra Miller's Flash, Gal Godot's Wonder Woman (believe it or not, thus far she is def passing my audition), Jason Momoa's Aquaman, etc. all are literally ten thousand times more interesting than the angst of Batman and Superman. Everytime they'd pop up for a few seconds of cameo, I would spend the next unnecessary ten minutes of the movie thinking about what their solo movies are going to be like. For real.

-On that note, if Wonder Woman had gotten to the scene sooner, I can guarantee you this movie would be and hour and a half shorter.

-The plot is nonsensical. Superman goes on trial, Batman is grumpy, everyone is living in the most post 9/11 nightmare ever set to film. For some reason, the Daily Planet is still a newspaper. For even more unknown reasons, there's a monument to Superman made literally for just everyone to graffiti with xenophobic slurs. Darksied???? Lex Luther's now somewhat of a hacktivist. He sneaks into that weird Kryptonian mancave thing and does stuff. Lois, while not a shining example of a woman with agency anyway, is literally a blowup doll in this movie (again, how can you waste the prodigious talents of the amazing Amy Adams?), everything has to be framed within the context a religious Renaissance painting, literally nothing happens until the overlong bloated battle, and not even the best efforts of many can make up for that.

And here's the biggest issue of all: How do you mess up this badly?
This should have been the easiest win of all time. How hard is it to deliver a satisfying match up of Batman and Superman?
Apparently, the hardest thing in the world.
I mean, the merits of those two names alone should promise great things.
But nope. Zack Snyder chose to take on the universe instead of just the beginning of JLA. Religion, post 9/11 American culture and paranoia, big business, scary science, news corporations, the idolization of those in the public eye, etc. Except he doesn't deliver on any of those concepts either, so what we're left with makes no sense.

Seriously not worth your time, even if you love superheroes. Because if you love superheroes, chances are you love a good story, heroic people of both the super and non varieties, doing things big and small to make the world a better place, satisfying action sequences, a dastardly villain, maybe a little romance, some good jokes, and a bit of hope for when you come out of the theater and go back to work or school the next day.

Batman v. Superman has none of that.


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Best Picture Shenanigans: The Revenant, Room, Anomalisa, and other Stuff

I'm back with more movie shenanigans. Let's get down to it.

The Revenant- There's only one good thing about this movie: Leo is finally going to get his Oscar. Honestly, every frame of this evaporated from my head the moment it was over. It felt like a bunch of shock and awe and suspiciously CGI  bears with no substance. Leo turns in a great performance (what's new), but unfortunately that can only elevate this vapid film making so far. Maybe it's just not my thing, but considering my rapport with Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu (A cool guy, but who also failed to win me over with Birdman), I'm shocked at how surprised I am that I didn't like it.
Will it Win?: It's looking like it is somewhat neck and neck with Spotlight, the latter having the edge to beat it out.

Room- Oh my God, this movie broke my heart into a thousand pieces, in the best way. Alternately harshly dark and impossibly hopeful, Room hits all the right notes in this strange tale of freedom. Brie Larson is knock out, bringing the skills she displayed in wonderful indie work Short Term 12 and turning them up to eleven while still keeping her feet on the ground. Jacob Tremblay shows remarkable skillz for someone of his age (kid is like nine!), and the cinematography, screenplay, and direction are the excellent groundwork for the story. Don't miss it. But know that it will be a little claustrophobic for some peeps.
Will it Win?: Definitely not, but that doesn't mean anything when your movie is this good.

Anomalisa- Most educated film watchers will know that Charlie Kauffman is an acquired taste. He makes really weird meta movies that are just too much to take in for a lot of people. I'm kind of in the middle of this theory. I enjoyed Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, probably his most accessible work, and have tried wading through others, but just found they weren't to my taste. So in giving Anomalisa, a very adult oriented stop motion film, a shot, I wasn't sure how I was going to feel. Well, I definitely fall on the other end of the Kauffman spectrum. I didn't even finish this. So pretentious, boring, unfunny, with only occasional glimmers of good stuff. This movie is weirdly immature for something that is supposedly so sophisticated. And David Thewlis and Jennifer Jason Leigh both do their best, and Leigh gets the best bit with a weirdly melancholic version of Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun", but honestly, this movie sucks. As our good friend Shirley from Community one said, Charlie, some of us have to go to work in the morning.
It stands a chance at Best Animated Feature, but watch out for Inside Out, a tour de force technically and a return  to form story-wise for Pixar.

Brooklyn- I don't consider myself one for sappy romance films, and luckily, Brooklyn does romance without the sappy and syrupy trapping of every other romantic endeavor of the last couple of years in film. It is so charming, well done, full of great performances and heart, the saccharine silliness of Nicholas Sparks is, thank God, miles away. Saoirse Ronan has long been one of my favorite actresses (her work in Hanna, Atonement, and The Grand Budapest Hotel are all awesome), but she really gets the chance to carry a movie with dramatic heft here, and pulls it off splendidly. Beautiful cinematography, and the costume design is to die for. A perfect period piece. Brava!
Will it Win: Definitely could be considered a dark horse, but don't expect it to.

Joy - David O Russell, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert DeNiro in the same movie? Haven't we seen this before? The answer is yes. But I liked this one much better than the weirdly off American Hustle. J Law does her feisty acting thing, in a role that she is honestly completely miscast in. But that doesn't mean she isn't going to try her hardest to prove that she is right for it. Once again, Bradley Cooper walks away with it and Robert DeNiro rounds it off perfectly. Not bad, but not up to par with the brilliantly done Silver Linings Playbook.
JLaw definitely doesn't have anything on Brie Larson this Best Actress race.

The Martian- Ridley Scott is back in space, and back in form for this excellent foray into once again saving Matt Damon from death. (How much money have we spent on saving Monsieur Damon? A lot, someone calculated it). Anyway, the script is perfectly taut with just the right amount of humor, and wonderful performances all around from the cast, although Matt Damon truly proves his skillz, carrying the movie by himself for large stretches of time. The determination and human spirit of the film make for a great space exploration piece, both of the actual space and the human condition (oh yeah, I just whipped out the human condition, you know it's good).
Will it Win?: Probably not, but it's definitely not the worst choice nominated, and very well worth the watch.

I still haven't gotten around to Carol and the Danish Girl (rehearsals for Legally Blonde + Southern movie theaters + me not having any money = bad timing), but that about rounds up most of the movies I planned on seeing for the Oscars. I'll be back with a full report on the broadcast and all that jazz. Also, some movie reviews might pop up in between, and I'll definitely back with a writeup on the upcoming Grammys (HAMILTON).


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Best Picture Shenanigans: Mad Max, Spotlight, and The Big Short

Alright, since I"m knocking out all these Best Picture movies pretty fast, here's like, three different movie reviews for the price of one. Just kidding, I don't have ads. Maybe I should do that?

Mad Max: Fury Road

This movie is pretty much the best car chase ever. EVER.
Have no idea what's happeneing? That's okay, just know that it's awesome.
I mean, there's a dude with a flamethrower guitar, like for real.
Also, I'm amazed at how Tom Hardy can act with like literally two thirds of his face covered all the time.
Anyway, Mad Max kind of came out of nowhere over the summer. Since everyone was getting pumped about Age of Ultron (and subsequently let down HARD), this movie, after several years of buildup and a cast change (Mel Gibson is ((thankfully)) nowhere to be found), had a lot of stuff riding on it (Terribly sorry about the pun). You've got Tom Hardy in the title role, being awesome.
But the real big deal here is Charlize Thereon as Imperator Furiosa. You know that female action hero that Marvel has refused to release a movie for, or the one that every other movie has turned into a sex kitten? Furiosa is all your dreams come true. She's awesome, she kicks butt, and she's got a great story. That's not even to mention the band of pregnant ladies she's helping escape the citadel.
You've got Nicholas Hoult being crazy too, which he does a good job with.
The film is visually stunning, always exciting, and completely unique.
Will it win Best Picture: Probably not, but hey, if it does, I'll drink to that.


When I went into this movie, I was readying myself for a movie that was going to be hard to watch with lots of A-listers yelling at each other. Thank God that is not the case. Spotlight manages to strike the perfect balance between a watchable movie and an expose' on an awful series of events.
The acting is excellent, very down to Earth, not a lot of showing off just for the sake of it. I especially enjoyed Michael Keaton (who is redeeming himself after Birdman for me). Despite being an all star cast, I actually believed them as all of these normal people.
It's about the Boston Globe reporters tasked with the investigation of allegations of abuse within the Catholic church. Not exactly your usual Friday night fare but it's a beautifully and tastefully done piece that cuts straight to the heart without any excess vanity.
Spotlight is not a melodrama. That is precisely why it works. Absolutely worth seeing.
Will it win Best Picture? Signs point to yes. And I'd be perfectly happy with that.

The Big Short

Just a note: if you're photosensitive, I wouldn't really recommend seeing this movie. The editing is frantic and could cause seizures if you're sensitive to that.
Anyway, on to the movie.
I didn't love this film despite its best efforts. I laughed a couple of times, but most of the time it just felt rather meh.
Christian Bale's character takes up far too much time in this movie for a character that easily could have been developed in two or three scenes. The movie soars whenever Ryan Gosling is on screen, and Steve Carrell is basically playing Michael Scott with anger issues, which can be kind of fun. The ending is effective, but it just takes too long to get there. The pacing is the Achilles tendon of this movie. It's alternately lightning fast and slow as molasses.
I liked the devices they use to explain some of the more complicated economic stuff (i.e. Margot Robbie sipping champagne in a bathtub, Selena Gomez playing poker, Anthony Bourdain cooking stew) but I still felt confused for chunks of the film (my mom did too, so it's not just me being two weeks into AP Econ).
Ultimately, those of you who loved The Wolf of Wall Street will probably either find a kindred spirit or an eager ripoff.  I am somewhere in the middleground on that one.
Will it win Best Picture? Not a chance.

I'll be back in the next couple of days with The Revenant, Carol, The Danish Girl, Room, and whatever else I can squeeze in.


Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Great Oscar Predictions of 2016

Welp, the time is come. Let's get down to business.

But before I write out this sure to  be lengthy post,  I would like to take a moment to express my utter sadness at the passing of Alan Rickman. Rest in peace.

Best Picture

The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant

So nothing out of the ordinary here. As much as I completely adored Mad Max, I still believe it will be a tough battle between Spotlight and The Revenant. If you're of the money betting type, I'd put it on Spotlight at the moment. Also, where is Carol? I would have EASILY replaced Bridge of Spies with that. Heck, I'd have even thrown in Straight Outta Compton.
Prediction: Spotlight

Best Director

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (The Revenant)
Tom McCarthy (Spotlight)
Adam McKay (The Big Short)
George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Lenny Abrahamson (Room)

Again, a battle between Revenant and Spotlight to me. Alejandro is hot off a win for Birdman though, and the Academy the kind of suffering in the Revenant, so I'd say Alejandro's got it.

Best Actor

Leonardo Dicaprio (The Revenant)
Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)
Matt Damon (The Martian)
Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs)
Bryan Cranston (Trumbo)

No Johnny Depp for Black Mass, which is unfortunate, and I'm slightly weirded out that Matt Damon made it in, but LEO IS FINALLY THE FRONTRUNNER TO WIN EVERYBODY GET HYPE.
Prediction: Leo

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett (Carol)
Brie Larson (Room)
Jennifer Lawrence (Joy)
Charlotte Rampling (45 Years)
Saorise Ronan (Brooklyn)

You can count on Brie Larson for this one. Her performance in Room has been gathering steam for some time now, and while I haven't personally seen the movie, she has done awesome work in the past (check out Short Term 12, it's one of my favorite newer films). If there is an upset, it's Cate. Also, where in the world is Charlize Theron? She made Mad Max one of the best movies of the year.
Prediction: Brie Larson

Best Supporting Actor

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

I'm calling Mark Rylance, that dude never walks on stage without getting a Tony and I bet the Academy will follow suit.

Best Supporting Actress 

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

Personally, my money is on Alicia Vikander. Tarantino has a way with the supporting categories though, so maybe just maybe Jennifer Jason Leigh. But pretty much all of these awesome ladies have a pretty good shot. Again, if you're the betting type, Alicia Vikander.

Best Original Screenplay

Bridge of Spies
Straight Outta Compton
Inside Out
Ex Machina

Cool to see Straight Outta Compton and Ex Machina put in. Spotlight will take it though.
Best Adapted Screenplay

The Martian
The Big Short

If the Big Short wins anything, it'll be here. From what I hear, this movie has all the wit needed to carry a story about something nobody understands.

Best Cinematography

The Revenant
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Hateful Eight

I'd say The Revenant, although the Academy might be on board with Tarantino and Co.s dedication to the 70mm format with Hateful Eight. Mad Max would be the upset.

Best Film Editing

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

Holla at Star Wars! But seriously, I'm praying Mad Max can get this one, because the lady who did it (and it was a lady whose name is escaping me at the moment) did a brilliant job, especially in comparison to some other terribly edited car chase sequences in the movies this year (cough cough Spectre cough cough). So yeah, Mad Max all the way.

Best Visual Effects

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

Once again, the Academy has proved that the only category allowed to have fun is Visual Effects. If Star Wars gets honored, it will probably  be here for the fantastic mix of CGI and practical effects. But I'm going to go with Ex Machina, which also had some jawdropping crazy SFX stuff.
Best Production Design

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

I'm gonna go with Mad Max, but The Revenant and The Martian are up there too, with a possible upset by the Danish Girl.

Best Costumes

The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant

Mad Max vs. Cinderella. That's a sentence I never thought I'd write. I personally am putting my money on Mad Max.

Best Original Score

Ennio Morricone (The Hateful Eight)
Carter Burwell (Carol)
John Williams (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Thomas Newman (Bridge of Spies)
Johann Johannson (Sicario)

I'm thinking Ennio has this one. It is nice to see John Williams here, for his excellent work blending new and old with his Star Wars score (I listen to Rey's theme a lot).

Best Original Song

Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey)
Manta Ray (Racing Exctinction)
Simple Song #3 (Youth)
Til It Happens To You (The Hunting Ground)
Writing's on the Wall (Spectre)

I really disliked a lot of things about Spectre, but nothing more than Sam Smith's utter Adele rip off of a title credits song. My heart is set on Lady Gaga's emotionally compelling Til It Happens To You. But my dumb analytical brain says Writings on the Wall. I really hate Sam Smith. Ugh.

There's a bunch of other categeories that I don't have sufficient knowledge in to discuss so I'll just leave this post off here. It's Anomalisa vs. Inside Out for Best Animated so we'll see how it goes. Best of luck with your viewing party. I'll probably be in rehearsal for a show during the broadcast, but I'll be sure to catch it when I come home.

This is like the whitest Oscars ever, wow.