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.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Things to Get Hype About in 2016

There's something I've realized over the last couple of years in my life: The first three weeks of January are the worst. I literally have felt nothing in the past few days and am desperately trying to pull myself out of my funk. Seriously, have you any of you tried to be in Legally Blonde the musical with the winter blahs? It's helping no one.
So here's some stuff that's gonna be pretty cool or something. I don't know. Maybe. I think so anyway.

1. Deadpool. Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. As someone who is going to study marketing in college, I've been taking notes on Deadpool's ad campaign, like oh my sweet chimichangas. I'm especially loving the fakey Nicholas Sparks-esque ads. Although in the regards, I also like this quote from the independent.

While it's wonderfully left field to see Marvel's hero take on The Bachelor crowd, let's not pretend there aren't hordes of women who don't need their boyfriends to tell them who Deadpool is, and actually can't wait to see him rip the arms off a couple of thugs and dance in the fountains of their blood.

2. Moana. Hamilton homeboy Lin-Manuel Miranda is composing the music, Dwayne the Rock Johnson is going to be singing this music, and actual representation in a Disney movie? Sign me up. It looks totally gorgeous.

3. Leonardo DiCaprio getting his Oscar. Of course, nothing is for sure as of yet,  but as I'll probably end up writing about sometime before the long awaited (or perhaps long dreaded) ceremony, our dear actor of constant sorrow Leonardo DiCaprio is finally the frontrunner for his harrowing work in The Revenant (don't go see this movie if you're of a faint of heart disposition or don't like bears). 

4. Hail Caesar. Holla at the Coen Brothers for always somehow making movies I want to see across all genres. This movie has the potential to be pretty awesome.

5. Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 coming to Broadway. This show is incredible, an electropop opera that takes a section of War and Peace and turns it up to eleven. The Russian traditional and modern pop mix together seamlessly. If you haven't listened to the cast album yet, go check it out. Also, if you're a fan of Philippa Soo, who is Eliza Schuyler Hamilton in Hamilton, she plays Natasha (brilliantly, I might add).

6. Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill. The legendary Audra McDonald won her record breaking sixth Tony award for this show, and HBO will air a special performance from New Orleans sometime in March. This is a heartbreaking piece and McDonald completely transforms into Billie and it's incredible. Even if you're not familiar with Lady Day, this is a play worth watching.

7. Seeing more regional theatre. I've discovered a couple of really good companies in my town and I'm excited to see more stuff. I'm also going to attempt the National Tour of Bridges of Madison County in Nashville. But seriously, go support regional theatre, it's totally worth it.