Saturday, January 25, 2014

Topic of the Day: Why I Think Amy Adams Will Upset Cate Blanchett For Best Actress

Hello, Bloggers. If you have been keeping up with the Oscar race like I have, you know that Cate Blanchett is the frontrunner for Best Actress since she won the Critics' Choice, Golden Globe, and SAG Award for Best Actress. But I feel that there will be an upset by Amy Adams and I will explain why:
   Amy Adams is the only nominee in her category that hasn't won yet. Not only that, but this is her 5th nomination, so she could very well benefit from having the overdue narrative. Plus, this is her 1st nomination for Best Actress. This might seem off-track, but one thing I noticed is that some actors that are usually nominated in the supporting categories win in the leading categories. For example, Philip Seymour Hoffman, who is usually a supporting actor, has more supporting than leading nods. But the one Oscar he won was for Best Actor for Capote. Also, Frances McDormand, who usually shifts between being a lead and supporting player also has more supporting nods, but the one Oscar she did win was for Best Actress for Fargo. So, I believe we might see this pattern continue. Plus, Adams  has the momentum of a Golden Globe win and Critics' Choice win. Although, I would definitely not be upset if Cate Blanchett actually did win because I thought she was as fantastic as Amy Adams was. So either way, this is a win-win scenario, I just figured I'd give my reasons why I think Adams will pull off an upset.


Oscars 2014: Best Picture

Hello, Bloggers, today, I have finally come to the granddaddy of all Oscar categories: Best Picture. Let's take a look at the nominees:

12 Years A Slave: Ever since its rave reviews and since it starting sweeping critics' awards left to right, 12 Years A Slave has been a clear Best Picture frontrunner. It has so much buzz, that even if it doesn't take home Best Director, it could still win the prize. With a Critics' Choice, Golden Globe, and Producers Guild win for Best Picture, it is almost halfway there. Of course, any film could pull off an upset, but because 2013 has been such a great year for movies, then many of us will just enjoy the ceremony.

American Hustle: One of the other frontrunners for Best Picture, American Hustle has been picking up steam when it won the SAG Award for Best Ensemble. Some say that this could mean Hustle could actually win Best Picture, but the Best Ensemble award is usually given to films that are all its actors and some of the other films nominated are about more than just that, including the two strong frontrunners that Hustle is up against it. Of course, anything can happen on Oscar night, and I would say to keep a watchful eye on this film.

Captain Phillips: While the film got snubbed for Best Actor and Best Director, Captain Phillips still managed to score a nod for not just Best Supporting Actor, but Best Picture. It has a bit of a longshot at winning though. However, this is one of the few nominated films that slightly gears towards minimalism as there are limited characters and settings, just like Gravity and All Is Lost. Its films like those that show you can tell a story on screen, no matter how many set pieces there are.

Dallas Buyers Club: When I made my predictions for what will be nominated for Best Picture, I said that since 12 Years could be this year's Schindler's List, Dallas Buyers Club could be this year's Philadelphia. However, the only difference is that Philadelphia wasn't nominated for Best Picture. A win for Best Picture for this small film may seem unlikely, but there could be a chance that one of the film's main actors could take home a prize for the film instead.

Gravity: Like with Hustle, Gravity is picking up steam when it actually tied with 12 Years A Slave for the Producers Guild award for Best Film, and that had never happened with that award before. If a tie were to happen this year, then it would be the first time that had ever happened in that category. But, I feel Gravity will likely suffer Avatar fate and get recognized for its technological achievements, which it definitely should.

Her: If there is any film that I think could upset either 12 Years, Hustle, or Gravity, it might just be Her (pun intended). Although, Her has a much better shot at winning Best Original Screenplay, so at least it might not be leaving the ceremony empty-handed. I for one an quite glad that Spike Jonze is getting plenty of recognition for his accomplishments for his craft and has been since the days of Being John Malkovich, another unique sci-fi comedy with a plausible situation.

Nebraska: As I have said before, their is usually a "Quirky Indie" in the Best Picture category since they expanded the nominees from 5 to 9 or 10. Looks like this year's Quirky Indie is Nebraska. I still haven't seen the film yet, but I can say it has a long shot at winning the trophy. If there is any category it has a shot at winning, it'll definitely be for Best Actor for Bruce Dern if he were to cause an upset or even June Squibb for Best Supporting Actress.

Philomena: This year's Harvey nominee, or in other words, the one film that producer Harvey Weinstein was able to score a Best Picture nod for. In fact, he could only score 7 overall nominations for his films: 4 for Philomena, 2 for August: Osage County, and 1 for Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. In my opinion, I feel those nominated for Philomena should just enjoy the ceremony because I have a feeling this film will leave the ceremony empty-handed. Even if this film, or Harvey's other pictures don't win, there's no denying he'll be back at the ceremony for years to come.

Wolf of Wall Street: As Jordan Belfort's first wife said in the film, "There's no such thing as bad publicity", and the film's controversy surrounding whether or not they glamorized Belfort's party-filled lifestyle didn't seem to hurt it as Wolf of Wall Street has 5 nominations. I was certainly crossing my fingers that it would, and I was glad to see this get nominated for the grand prize, along with Leonardo DiCaprio for Best Actor, who could seriously upset Matthew McConaughey (I might get to that in a later article). Looks like despite the controversy, the wolf really bit back.

So, those are the nominees for Best Picture, and I have just covered all the major categories. Please feel free to write down in the comments section who you think deserves Best Picture and even write down who you think got shut out. Thanks for reading!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Top 12 Best Oscar Acceptance Speeches

Hello, Bloggers, as part of my Oscar coverage, I figured this time, I'd give a top 12 list of the Best Oscar acceptance speeches. Whenever I'm on YouTube, for no particular reason, I like to watch Oscar speeches, and I figured I'd give a list of what I consider to be some of the best. Here we go:

12. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon winning Best Original Screenplay in 1997: What was so neat about Affleck and Damon giving their speech is that they were trying to remember everyone involved in the picture, as well as acknowledge family and friends, yet they still couldn't contain their excitement.

Best Bit: When Ben says, "I said to Matt, losing would suck and winning would be really scary."

11. Jamie Foxx winning Best Actor in 2004: In his speech, Foxx spent a good chunk acknowledging Ray Charles, who he won an Oscar for portraying. Not only was that part of his speech neat, but it was also humorous, yet gets very touching towards the end when he talks about his grandmother.
If you watch that part, you may cry.

Best Bit: "I want to thank my daughter, who told me before I got up here, "Don't worry Dad, you're still good".

10. Martin Scorsese winning Best Director in 2006: After finally scoring Oscar gold when he won Best Director, Martin Scorsese certainly made the most of his speech and not only acknowledged those involved in the making of The Departed, but he even mentioned his partnership with Leonardo DiCaprio and said how he would like to work with him for many more years. I thought that was pretty neat.

Best Bit: "Could you double check the envelope?"

9. Daniel Day-Lewis winning Best Actor in 1989: If Daniel Day-Lewis, were to win an Oscar for every time he gave a good speech, he would probably have more than Katharine Hepburn. The guy just knows how to give a classy, poignant, yet humorous speech, and his speech for when he won his first Oscar for My Left Foot is no exception.

Best Bit: "It seems you just provided me the makings of a hell of a weekend in Dublin". Plus, the thrilled reactions of his fellow nominees is an added bonus.

8. Robin Williams winning Best Supporting Actor in 1997: Like his film's writers Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, when acting legend Robin Williams won an Oscar for his supporting turn in Good Will Hunting, he tried to thank as much people involved in the film while struggling to contain his excitement. He is always funny to watch and when accepting his sole Oscar win, he certainly makes the most of it.

Best Bit: "Thanks to my father, who when I told him I wanted to be an actor, said "Wonderful, just have a back-up profession like welding".

7. Denzel Washington winning Best Actor in 2001: Much like Daniel Day-Lewis, Denzel is a man who knows how to give a great speech. Not only did he acknowledge those involved in the film, as well as his family and such, but he even managed to mention Sidney Poitier who won an honorary Oscar the same night.

Best Bit: "Two birds, one night, huh? For 30 years, I've been chasing Sidney and what do they do? They give him an Oscar the same night. I'll always be chasing you, Sidney."

6. Holly Hunter winning Best Actress in 1993: Very humbled by her Oscar win, Holly Hunter not only thanks those involved in the making of The Piano, but describes the experience of making it, as well as a personal life story that pertains to the film, when she talks about how she always played the piano when she was young and even thanked her first piano teacher.

Best Bit: "Thank you for giving me a character and an experience that was so difficult to say goodbye to, except I don't have to say goodbye because it's everybody's now."

5. Frances McDormand winning Best Actress in 1996: McDormand starts off her speech by classily acknowledging her fellow nominees and as it progressed, she didn't waste any time by giving an invisible list of people to thank and just mentioned a fare few. Not to put any past winners who have ever done this down, but it's better to not just list a bunch of people to thank.

Best Bit: "Thank you to Ethan Coen, who made an actor of me. Thank you to the writer Joel Coen who has helped make a woman of me, and our son and our moon Mr. Pedro McDormand Coen, who has made a real mother of me."

4. Cate Blanchett winning Best Supporting Actress in 2004: Since Blanchett won an Oscar for her portrayal of Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator, she spent a lot of her speech talking about Katharine Hepburn, yet still kept her speech short and sweet. It was genuine, humorous, and to the point.

Best Bit: "Thank you to Martin Scorsese. I hope my son will marry your daughter."

3. Kathy Bates winning Best Actress in 1990: Much like Cate Blanchett, Kathy Bates kept her speech pretty brief when she won Best Actress for her frightening turn in Misery. She managed to acknowledge Stephen King for creating the character she won for portraying, the cast and crew, and added a humorous touch while she gets a little touching towards the end with the way she mentions her father.

Best Bit: "I'd like to thank Jimmy Caan, and apologize publicly for the ankles."

2. Joe Pesci winning Best Supporting Actor in 1990: Speaking of brief, most speeches don't get as brief as Joe Pesci's when he won Best Supporting Actor for his role in Goodfellas. Just watch.

Best Bit: The whole speech.

1. Steven Soderbergh winning Best Director in 2000: Out of all the various speeches I've watched, Steven Soderbergh's when he won Best Director for Traffic is hands down the best for a few reasons. One is that he starts it off with a humorous line, then rather than just thank those involved in the making of the picture, thanks anyone that takes a part of their day to create art, no matter what form it is. Watch for yourself.

Best Bit: "I want to thank anyone who spends part of their day creating. I don't care if it's a book, a film, a poem, a piece of theater, a piece of music, a dance. Anybody who spends part of their day creating art."

So, those are my picks for the top 12 best Oscar acceptance speeches, that are part of my Oscar coverage from now until March 2nd. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Top 15 Films Not Nominated for Best Picture

Hello, Bloggers! Today, as a part of my Oscar coverage, I will work on a list of the Top 15 films not nominated for Best Picture. I couldn't do a top ten list because there were plenty of great films I wanted to include and didn't want to leave out. *Note: This list isn't meant to paint a negative portrait of the Academy. This list is just for entertainment purposes. Here we go:

15. Being John Malkovich: Kicking off the list is the offbeat science fiction dark comedy that paints a portrait of how one person can literally become someone else and showcases many people's desires about wanting to become someone else. It's very original, well-acted, and even diabolically funny. One of writer Charlie Kaufman's best.

14. Memento: While I just discussed the film that put Charlie Kaufman and director Spike Jonze on the map, next is the film that put director Christopher Nolan. That film is the noir thriller known as Memento. This came way before the days of Nolan's Batman films and Inception, and it showcases Nolan's impressive range as a director. *Note: If you ever watch this movie, you HAVE to pay attention. If you have to go to the bathroom or whatever, pause it then come right back because you will more than likely get confused if you miss anything.

13. The Dark Knight: Next is yet another Christopher Nolan film. Now, I have a feeling some will complain that it's not ranked any higher, but it's my list, and I at least put it on here. I heard there was a bit of an outcry that this wasn't nominated for Best Picture and I can see why because Nolan manages to take a comic book movie and make it with artistic merit. Plus, it features one of the greatest performances ever captured on screen. *Hint: Heath Ledger as the Joker

12. City of God: The first foreign movie on this list, City of God, also known in Portuguese as Cidade de Deus, is a very grim portrait of the malicious outskirts of Rio De Janeiro. That section is the slum known as the City of God. The film is captured through the eyes of an aspiring photographer looking to get out of the city. While you watch the film, you definitely feel for him and hope he does get out and show his story to the world.

11. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: The next foreign film on this list, Diving Bell and the Butterfly is based on a true story about a man who suffered from locked-in syndrome, where his body was paralyzed and he could only communicate by blinking his left eye. It is masterfully directed and tells the story through the eyes of the main character. In fact, in about the first 40 minutes, it is literally shown through the left eye of the main character. Truly a phenomenal work of art.

10. Gods and Monsters: A very unique film that uses the story of Frankenstein's monster and his creator as a parable to the film's story, which deals with a gardener forming a bond with the late homosexual director James Whale. I feel that a film like this could easily encourage acceptance of people that aren't heterosexual and it does it in a less patronizing way.

9. Requiem For A Dream: One of the few films that made me cry when it was over, this harrowing look at drug addiction is definitely something they should consider as a substitute for the DARE program or health class. Rather than just telling and not showing, I feel they should just show kids this movie. When they are in high school of course because it is very disturbing. An important film but very hard to watch.

8. Mulholland Dr.: Next up is the film by auteur David Lynch that gives up a very dreamlike glimpse into the harsh realities of Hollywood: Mulholland Dr. Now, this film may require a second or third viewing because it is one of those films that makes you think. For some people, films like this give them headaches but for others, it makes watching the film more interesting. Plus, like The Dark Knight, this film features one of the greatest performances ever captured on film given by Ms. Naomi Watts, who gives perhaps the greatest dual performance I've seen.

7. Rosemary's Baby: A horror film that I usually watch on Halloween, Rosemary's Baby is a timeless classic that in my opinion, not just deals with themes of the occult, but themes involving betrayal, trust, and even isolation, as our main heroine is surrounded by all these people that could cause her to break down. It's frightening in a very haunting and subtle way, and proves that you don't need blood and guts for shock value.

6. Breaking the Waves: A film that I had just seen, Breaking the Waves is an outstanding film that shows just what people will do for love and for God. The film is very subjective and after it was over, I could not stop thinking about how amazing it was. The direction, the music, the colors, and the lead performance from Emily Watson, are all excellent.

5. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: Another film that may require a second or third viewing, Eternal Sunshine might be one of the greatest love stories I've seen. I like how it doesn't follow any rom com or love story formulas and tells the story through its unique visuals and performances from the cast, especially an unrecognizable Jim Carrey and the fantastic Kate Winslet.

4. Boogie Nights: The film that put one of our greatest modern directors, Mr. Paul Thomas Anderson, on the map, Boogie Nights is a slightly harrowing look at the porn industry that I could still watch whenever it is on TV. The direction by PTA is absolutely marvelous and I liked how the film has a serious tone yet also has a pretty dark sense of humor.

3. Catch Me If You Can: One of Steven Spielberg's absolute best that I've seen, Catch Me If You Can is a masterful crime film that offers a mix of witty humor, suspense, and even touching drama involving the theme of father-son relationships. This is a film that I would even watch around Christmastime because there are scenes that take place on Christmas.

2. Pan's Labyrinth: The last foreign movie on this list, Pan's Labyrinth is probably the best foreign film I've seen. While I watched the film, I remember being absolutely hypnotized by it. I thought the visuals, the cinematography, and even the creatures were all done amazingly and done by the creative genius of Guillermo Del Toro. The film is imaginative, yet very humanistic at the same time as it touches on themes dealing with childhood and warfare. One of the greatest I've ever seen.

And the number 1 film to not get nominated for Best Picture is......

1. Almost Famous: Now, this might be a somewhat biased choice because this is my favorite movie, but I still say this is the best film to not get nominated for the grand coveted Oscar prize. I loved absolutely everything about it, from the music to the character development to the story. This movie is like a love letter to my favorite era of rock music, the 70's. I can't say enough good things about it, other than to go see it for yourself.

Now, onto a few honorable mentions that I felt bad about leaving out: The Perks of Being A Wallflower (2012), The Master (2012), American History X (1998), Carrie (1976), Election (1999), Blue Velvet (1986), Edward Scissorhands (1990)

So, those are my picks for the top 15 films to not get nominated for Best Picture. Please feel free to comment on whether you agree or disagree with my choices and to add your own honorable mentions as well. Thanks for reading!

Oscars 2014: Best Director

Hello, Bloggers, welcome to another post where I continue my Oscar coverage. Today's category that I will discuss is the nominees for Best Director. Here we go:

Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity: I sensed that Cuaron would land an Oscar nod when I saw Gravity and they showed the intense 17-minute long opening tracking shot. With a Critics' Choice and Golden Globe win, it seems he's half way on his journey to a win. Of course, whether or not he's a sure lock depends on the Directors Guild of America Awards on Saturday in which Cuaron is nominated. Even if he doesn't win, he still has the sci-fi television series Believe set for release as a potential consolation prize.

Steve McQueen, 12 Years A Slave: If there is anybody that Cuaron needs to watch out for in this race, it is more than likely Steve McQueen for his equally brilliant direction in 12 Years A Slave. But a neat thing about a McQueen or Cuaron win would be that either one of them will be the 2nd non-Caucasian director in a row to win the Best Director Oscar, since Taiwanese director Ang Lee won last year for Life of Pi. Cuaron would be the first Mexican director and McQueen would be the first Black director to win. Either way, the Academy looks to set a new trend with this category.

David O. Russell, American Hustle: Ever since he made his comeback with The Fighter, it seems David O. Russell has really been in good graces with the industry. In my opinion, his third nomination for his work in American Hustle really highlights his range as a director, since his latest three films are different from one another: The Fighter is based on a true story about a boxer looking to win a title and has his former boxer brother come to his aide, Silver Linings Playbook is a seriocomedy about how mental illness affects one's family, and American Hustle is a character study about how we live in a world of grey, where almost everybody is not just good or evil. If there is anybody that can pull off an upset win, it'll definitely be David O. Russell, who has shown how he is truly an actor's director and I feel he will not only land more nominations for his actors in the future, but may land more for himself as well.

Alexander Payne, Nebraska: Ever since Alexander Payne burst onto the scene with Election back in 1999, he has been an Oscar favorite and it should definitely come as no surprise he is nominated. I can't comment on his direction because I haven't seen the film yet and in fact the only Payne film I've seen is Election, which is a favorite of mine. But I'm sure, like with our next nominee, that if Payne keeps delivering good work, he'll be back at the ceremony again.

Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street: Marty, the legend, has landed his 8th nomination for Best Director. Since he had just won 7 years ago for his turn in The Departed, he may be a long shot at winning his second Oscar. But his many nominations still speak for themselves as well as his unique artistic vision that he has contributed to the craft of directing, which I'm sure many people study in film class and will continue to even when he passes.

So, those are the five nominees for Best Director. Please feel free to write in the comments section who you think deserves the Oscar if you have seen any of the nominated films, or write down who you would've nominated. Thanks for reading, and as I said, I will do more Oscar coverage until the ceremony on March 2nd!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Oscars 2014: Best Supporting Actress

Hello, Bloggers, since I just discussed the other three acting categories, I will now go into the nominees for Best Supporting Actress. Here we go:

Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine: Ever since I saw Blue Jasmine, I was crossing my fingers her name would be announced on nomination day, and her name was. Whether or not she has a shot at winning remains to be seen, but I feel she might have a shot at winning the BAFTA Award. But while I'm sure most people haven't really heard of her, I wouldn't say she's really a Hollywood outsider since back in 2009, she won the Golden Globe for Best Actress- Musical or Comedy for her role in Happy-Go-Lucky. Whether she has a chance at pulling an upset remains to be seen, but I can just take a sigh of relief that she is in the final five.

Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle: Already after scoring her first Oscar last year, Hollywood's favorite new movie star has scored her 3rd nomination and first for Best Supporting Actress. With her third nomination, she has become the youngest actress to score 3 nominations and I feel the Academy might think that is enough of a reward and wait to give her a 2nd Oscar later down the line because I could foresee her coming back to the ceremony again.

Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years A Slave:  How about that? She landed a role in a film opposite Brad Pitt after graduating from the Yale School of Drama and now she is an Oscar nominee. She has plenty of momentum to win with a Critics' Choice and SAG award on her mantle. But of course, Sally Hawkins or another actress could pull off an upset, and who knows if the Academy would be reluctant to give her an Oscar for her debut performance. Even if she doesn't win, then let's hope the future for this true discovery is bright.

Julia Roberts, August: Osage County: While Jennifer Lawrence may be the favorite movie star of today, she is up against the box office queen of the 90's: Julia Roberts. This is Roberts' first nomination since her Best Actress win back in 2001 for her role in Erin Brockovich, and 4th nomination overall. I'm sure one thing that helped her getting nominated is her willingness to de- glamorize herself and the Academy loves it when movie stars reinvent themselves. Whether she has a shot at a win remains to be seen due to her film being somewhat overlooked and because she is the only other nominee in this category that has won before.

June Squibb, Nebraska: Now onto a much older veteran performer, Ms. June Squibb. This is her first nomination at the age of 84 and that makes her very dangerous in this category. As I tend to say, in the Oscar race, sentimentality is dangerous. The Academy does have a tendency to give older performers an Oscar because it could be their last chance, so like with her Nebraska co-star Bruce Dern, Squibb could benefit from Academy voters thinking "It's time" and award her in case she doesn't have any more opportunities to win in the future.

So, those are this year's nominees for Best Supporting Actress. Feel free to write down who you think deserves to win and even write down who you would've nominated. Since I just covered the acting categories, next I will do Best Director and Best Picture. Thanks for reading!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Top 10 Biggest Oscar Upsets

Notice how on my Oscar coverage of the acting categories this year, I have discussed a potential upset to occur. That's because I would actually love to see an upset and also because they could actually happen. As evidenced by some of the following upsets in Oscar history, nothing is guaranteed. Here are, in my opinion, the top 10 biggest Oscar upsets in Oscar history.

10: Million Dollar Baby wins Best Picture over The Aviator and Sideways in 2004: It seemed that back in 2004 or technically 2005, The Aviator and Sideways were going neck in neck with The Aviator winning Best Picture at the Globes, BAFTAs, and the Producers Guild, and Sideways winning Best Picture at the Globes and Critics' Choice, as well as Best Cast at the SAG Awards. That is until Barbra Streisand opened the envelope and announced that Million Dollar Baby was the winner.

9. Three 6 Mafia wins Best Original Song in 2005: Three 6 Mafia: Oscar winners. Who knew those two words would be synonymous with Three 6 Mafia. I mean, it's nice to see that the Academy had a slight change of pace and recognized something other than just love songs and all, but still. I'm sure there were plenty of gasps in Hollywood when Queen Latifah announced Three 6 Mafia as the winners.

8. Marisa Tomei wins Best Supporting Actress in 1992: Not just one of the biggest upsets in history, but one of the biggest Oscar myths. The myth is that Jack Palance, who presented the award, was so drunk, he read the wrong name or said it as a joke and the Academy didn't know how to accept it back. But the Academy themselves deny the rumor.

7. Marcia Gay Harden wins Best Supporting Actress over Kate Hudson in 2000: It seemed that Kate Hudson had this one in the bag for a few reasons: She's young, she's Goldie Hawn's daughter and she won the Golden Globe. That is until Nicolas Cage read Marcia Gay Harden's name in the envelope. Notice there is a bit of a trend with this category.

6. Denzel Washington wins Best Actor over Russell Crowe in 2001: Russell Crowe seemed poised to win his second Oscar in a row after sweeping the awards circuit. That is up until Oscar night when Julia Roberts opened the envelope and said, and I quote: "And the Oscar goes to...I love my life..Denzel Washington!"

5. Juliette Binoche wins Best Supporting Actress over Lauren Bacall in 1996: When Lauren Bacall was nominated for her supporting turn in The Mirror Has Two Faces, it was her first nomination and many experts felt that Bacall would benefit from Academy members thinking "It's time" and hand her the coveted statue. That is until Kevin Spacey read Juliette Binoche's name from the envelope. Even he looked pretty shocked. Binoche herself actually said that she didn't prepare a speech because she thought Bacall would win it.

4.  Sean Penn wins Best Actor over Mickey Rourke in 2008: Back in 2008, Mickey Rourke was undergoing a comeback with his performance in The Wrestler and with his comeback narrative, it seemed he would be poised to win the Oscar. I'll admit, even I thought he was going to win, and when Sean Penn's name was called to the stage, I was pretty shocked. That's why I ranked this upset pretty high.

3. Alan Arkin wins Best Supporting Actor over Eddie Murphy in 2006: Eddie Murphy has always been known as a comedian and was winning many awards for his dramatic turn in Dreamgirls. I remember when I watched the ceremony and was certain Murphy would win the Oscar, and he could say "Hercules! Hercules! Hercules!". That is until Rachel Weisz read Alan Arkin's name from the envelope. I quite remember how shocked I was.

2. Adrien Brody wins Best Actor over everyone in 2002: Adrien Brody was a relative unknown when he won for his lead turn in The Pianist, and considering the competition he was up against: previous winners Nicolas Cage, Michael Caine, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Jack Nicholson, he must've been a long shot to win the award. Not only did Brody snag the Best Actor award, but he managed to snag a kiss from presenter Halle Berry. *Note: Similar to this category, Amy Adams is the only Best Actress nominee this year that hasn't won yet. Look out, Cate Blanchett!

1. Crash winning Best Picture over Brokeback Mountain in 2005: When you watch the video of Crash winning Best Picture, the look on presenter Jack Nicholson's face says it all. He even gave an expression that said "Bet you didn't see that coming". I know many of us didn't. It was certainly a very controversial Best Picture win. In fact, some say it is the worst Best Picture winner ever. Regardless, it is still, one of, if not the biggest Oscar upset ever.

Here are a few honorable mentions: Anna Paquin winning Best Supporting Actress in 1993, Shakespeare In Love winning Best Picture over Saving Private Ryan in 1998, James Coburn winning Best Supporting Actor in 1998, The Lives of Others winning Best Foreign Language Film in 2006

So, those are, in my opinion, the biggest Oscar upsets of all time. Those show that each year on Oscar night, nothing, and I mean, NOTHING is guaranteed and on March 2nd, anything could happen. Thanks for reading!


2014 Oscars: Best Supporting Actor

Hello, Bloggers, Happy Martin Luther King Day, and today, I will continue my Oscar coverage. Today's category that I will review is Best Supporting Actor. Here are the nominees:

Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips: Who knew that a guy with no previous acting experience and worked as a limo driver would land a role opposite Tom Hanks and be nominated for an Oscar? I say, good for him. He is definitely a long shot at winning, but just to be nominated for your debut role is probably a win itself. Here's to hoping we see more of his tremendous talents in the future.

Bradley Cooper, American Hustle: David O. Russell seems to be an actor's good luck charm since he knows how to land his actors Oscar nominations and Cooper just landed his 2nd consecutive nod for starring in another David O. Russell film. Since American Hustle has 4 acting nods, one in each category, one of those actors seems bound to pull off a win. Even though Cooper isn't the frontrunner, who I will get to later, I do feel he has a shot at an upset if his co-stars don't win trophies for the film. Although if he really doesn't win, I'll be crossing my fingers he will eventually.

Michael Fassbender, 12 Years A Slave: Since Fassbender's name was missing on nomination day when he was in contention for Shame, I'm sure some of us were nervous history would repeat itself and he would get snubbed again. Fortunately not as Michael Fassbender now has the words Oscar-nominee synonymous with his name. He may not have a huge chance at winning, but since frontrunner Jared Leto got snubbed by the BAFTAs, that could leave room for him to win, and possibly pull off an upset. Even if Fassbender doesn't win, he still has so much work lined up, that we could see him at the ceremony again.

Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street: I'm sure no nomination had people going "Huh?!" than this one. Since Hill was shut out by every precursor award (Critics' Choice, Globes, SAG, BAFTAs), it seemed that even though the film wasn't losing steam, he was. That is until his name was announced on nomination day. Since his 1st nomination for Moneyball, it seems he took that as a sign to try his hand at drama as well as comedy, which is his specialty, and showcase his impressive range as an actor.

Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club: Since he just won each precursor award, it seems Jared Leto may have this race sewn up. With good reason, though, as he really transforms himself in the role of Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club. Transforming himself is something Leto has done before in films like Chapter 27 and Requiem for a Dream, but it is wonderful that he is getting recognized for his style of acting a la Christian Bale, who won the same category three years ago for The Fighter. But since he doesn't seem to have any work lined up in the future, who knows if that'll affect his chances at potentially winning and cause Fassbender or another actor to pull off an upset, or enhance it because they might think this could be his first chance in a while to win.

So, those are the five nominees for Best Supporting Actor. Feel free to write down who you think deserves the Oscar, and feel free to write down who you thought got snubbed. Happy MLK Day and thanks for reading!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Oscars 2014: Best Actor

Hello, Bloggers, since I gave an in-depth look at the nominees for Best Actress yesterday, I will now run down the nominees for Best Actor.

Christian Bale, American Hustle: This is not only Bale's 2nd nomination and first for Best Actor, but his 2nd nomination for starring in a David O. Russell film, and O. Russell seems to be an actor's good luck charm these days. Whether or not Bale has a chance of winning remains to be seen, but this nomination not only highlights his talents and range as an actor, but the physical lengths he goes through for a role. He previously won for The Fighter where he really slimmed down and had an almost skeletal appearance, but in American Hustle, he really lets himself go so to speak.

Bruce Dern, Nebraska: Bruce Dern is the oldest nominee and, like with Judi Dench, that makes him very dangerous in this category. This is his 2nd nomination and the last time he was nominated was back in 1979 for his supporting turn in Coming Home. So, Dern may benefit from Academy voters thinking "It's time" and pull off an upset win because who knows how many chances he'll have to win again.

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street: Despite the film's slight controversy, Leonardo DiCaprio is on an awards roll with a Critics' Choice and Golden Globe win. This is also his 4th Oscar nomination and that makes him dangerous in this category as well. Not only that, but because he usually campaigns pretty hard and tends to get snubbed, it could be another while for him to get nominated. Seriously, this could finally be his year.

Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years A Slave: Before the awards shows started, it seemed that Chiwetel would be the frontrunner, that is until Matthew McConaughey started sweeping. But McConaughey getting snubbed at the BAFTAs could leave room for Ejiofor to win and making this a three-way-race in the Best Actor category at the Oscars. Regardless, Ejiofor finally landing an Oscar nod shows that he is finally seeing his hard work in Hollywood starting to pay off.

Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club: Maybe five years ago, many of us never would have guessed that Matthew McConaughey would be marching his way to an Oscar. But he has been on a roll ever since 2011 when he came out with The Lincoln Lawyer. Since he just won the SAG award for Best Actor, he has certainly maintained his momentum, although in a race as competitive as this, there are no guarantees. Even if he doesn't win, he still has the HBO series True Detective and the upcoming Christopher Nolan picture Interstellar as consolation prizes. Plus, I'm sure he will still deliver more awards worthy work in the future. Alright! Alright! Alright!

So, those are the nominees for Best Actor. Feel free to write down in the comments section who you think deserves the Oscar if you've seen any of the films that the actors are nominated for. As I said yesterday, I will continue to do more Oscar coverage until the ceremony on March 2nd. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Oscars 2014: Best Actress

Hello, Bloggers, since the Oscar nominees were announced a couple days ago, I figured I'd give an in-depth look at the major categories. I got inspired to do this by watching past Oscar coverage from my favorite online film journalist known as Grace Randolph, whose show on YouTube is known as Beyond The Trailer. If you haven't watched it, I would highly recommend you give a few of her videos a watch because she is really good and informative. Anyways, here are the nominees for Best Actress, or what I like to call, a Clash of The Titans:

Amy Adams, American Hustle: This is Amy Adams' 5th overall nomination and first for Best Actress, and she has yet to win. She is the only nominee in this category that hasn't won yet, so not only does that make her very dangerous, but the "overdue" factor as well. Plus, she has the momentum of a Golden Globe win and Critics' Choice win. So, if there is any actress that'll have a shot at an upset, then it'll more than likely be Adams. Even if she doesn't win, she'll still be destined to deliver more Oscar-worthy work in the near future.

Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine: Blanchett has been the frontrunner to win the golden statue ever since the film came back out in July, which says a lot because usually the top categories usually have a frontrunner at the end of the year during awards season. This is also Blanchett's 6th overall nomination and 3rd for Best Actress, and her previous win was back in 2005 for her supporting turn as Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator. But even though she is the frontrunner, even if she doesn't win, she still has plenty of work lined up, so a loss would do little damage.

Sandra Bullock, Gravity: This is Bullock's 2nd nomination after her previous win for her leading turn in The Blind Side. Since she just won a few years ago, she doesn't have much of a shot at winning. But her 2nd nomination not only showcases her dramatic chops as an actress, but proves to her naysayers that her win for The Blind Side wasn't a fluke, and I might be one of the few that don't think her win was. Another positive about this nomination is that she is nominated for a sci-fi film and the last time that happened I believe is when Sigourney Weaver was nominated for Aliens, and she was recognized for her work in a film where she mostly acts with herself.

Judi Dench, Philomena: Even though the most likely actress to pull off an upset is Amy Adams, there is also Judi Dench to watch out for. This may be her 7th nomination and she may have won before for her supporting turn in Shakespeare in Love, but who knows how many chances she'll have at winning a lead actress Oscar and joining the likes of Maggie Smith, Meryl Streep, and Jessica Lange, which would of course happen to Cate Blanchett if she wins. Plus, Dench has none other than Harvey Weinstein at her corner, so he's one to watch out for. I know that Blanchett is still the frontrunner, but I'm just saying that, like with sports, there are always upsets at the Oscars, and in a race as competitive as this, anything is possible, even Dench winning for what could be her last nomination.

Meryl Streep, August: Osage County: Surprise! Surprise! Meryl Streep is nominated again. This is her 18th nomination and she continues to break her own record. Since I'm not holding my breath on her winning her 4th anytime soon, and I highly doubt that she cares about winning a 4th, I'll just marvel at how amazing it is that Streep has shown what an actress can accomplish when she cares more about her craft than being "America's Sweetheart". Plus, at the age of 64, when most of her contemporaries stop working, she still delivers solid work and continues to prove why she is an inspiration for every young actress.

So, those are the nominees for Best Actress, or as I like to call it, the Clash of the Titans. I'll continue to do more Oscar coverage up until March 2, when the Oscars take place. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Oscars 2014 Nominees: My Reactions

Hello, Bloggers, one day that I've waited a long time for has finally come: Oscar Nomination Day! They have just announced the nominees and let me just say, I am quite surprised yet excited by that list. I will discuss which nominees I was most excited about, who got snubbed and which nominees had me going "Wow!" out of shock. Here we go:

First I will get into the snubs. While I was pleased that Captain Phillips got nominated for Best Picture, and that Barkhad Abdi got nominated for Best Supporting Actor his impressive debut, unfortunately, his co-star Tom Hanks didn't get nominated. Also, Saving Mr. Banks was one of the best films that came out last year, yet got at least one for Best Original Score and no nod for Emma Thompson or even Best Picture. Even though I haven't seen the film yet, I was quite shocked to see Daniel Bruhl get snubbed for his supporting turn in Rush since he was nominated for every precursor award. Although at least he was lucky to get as far as he did. Plus, seeing Oprah Winfrey and The Butler get snubbed was a bit of a shock as well. But the nominee that really had me going "Wow!" was seeing Jonah Hill's name announced when they were announcing the nominees for Best Supporting Actor. I remember putting him as a dark horse contender when I updated my picks for Best Supporting Actor, but I was still pretty surprised.

Now I'll get into which nominees I was most excited about. I LOVED that Sally Hawkins got nominated for her supporting turn in Blue Jasmine. I thought she was outstanding and I could not be happier that she got nominated. I was also glad to see Leonardo DiCaprio get recognition for The Wolf of Wall Street with his nod for Best Actor and to see Bradley Cooper get nominated for his supporting turn in American Hustle. There is also Michael Fassbender getting nominated for 12 Years A Slave, which I was relieved about because I was worried he would get snubbed like last time when he was in contention for Shame, and Lupita Nyong'o getting nominated for her performance as well, which I was also happy about. I say good for her because it is her first film and landed her role in 12 Years right after graduating from the Yale School of Drama. Even though Spike Jonze didn't get nominated for Best Director, I was still happy to see him get a nod for Best Original Screenplay. Lastly, and certainly not least, I want to give a huge congratulations to Miss Jennifer Lawrence for scoring her 3rd Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for American Hustle and at the young age of 23!

One thing that I thought was pretty neat was that I saw two of the films nominated for Best Foreign Language Film: The Broken Circle Breakdown and The Hunt. I saw those at my Sunday Cinema Club and to see them get nominated at the Oscars is pretty neat. Same with the one nominee for Best Documentary that I saw: 20 Feet From Stardom, which I really liked.

So those were my thoughts on the Oscar nominations. If you've read them, then please feel free to write down what you thought about the list of nominees and feel free to write what actor or film you thought got snubbed. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Review: Her

                                      A Unique Yet Touching Sci-Fi Story Comes With 'Her'

                         Over the years, we have become pretty attached to technology. But Her shows just what could happen if we literally become attached to our technological devices as if we were in a relationship with them, and it does it realistically while still retaining its sci-fi elements.

                      Her is about a lonely man named Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) who just ordered his own Siri-type operating system that calls itself "Samantha" (Scarlett Johansson). As he grows more attached to Samantha, he feels that his discomfort with being in love and with commitment would vanish, but he realizes that he has trouble letting go of his past relationship with his ex-wife Catherine (Rooney Mara).

                     What I Liked About It:
                    First off, I loved the way that the movie looks. The whole futuristic look that director Spike Jonze brought to the screen is very colorful and even though the effects shown were cool, Jonze didn't go overboard with them. I loved that he didn't go overboard because it allows the film to retain its realism while still being futuristic. If the future was ever like how it is shown in this film, I would hope to live in it.
                  One thing about this film that actually surprised me was how it deals with the theme of relationships and sharing your life with someone. I know the film deals with attaching to technology, but I was surprised by how it deals with relationships themselves and even the whole idea of "letting go". I also liked how the film took the whole idea of a man falling for his computer and made it believable and both Phoenix and the voice of Johansson have amazing chemistry. That brings me to my next point. I thought all the main actors do quite a fine job. Joaquin Phoenix does a complete 180 and plays a character completely different from his in his last film The Master, and is not only funny but he is also sympathetic and heartbreaking. Phoenix continues to prove why he is one of the more diverse actors working today. Amy Adams is also in this and she too is astounding as Theodore's slightly neurotic friend Amy, who is like a parallel to Theodore: someone who attaches herself to her operating system or OS to avoid the complications of being in love. Even though Rooney Mara has a few bit scenes, she still shines in those. Shows just how big of an impression Mara can leave no matter how long she's on screen. I think she just might be fighting with Jennifer Lawrence for the title of the best young actress of our generation. Olivia Wilde even has only one scene, and even in that scene, she still shines as well.

                    What I Didn't Like About It:

                   Overall, Her is a highly inventive yet plausible sci-fi spectacle. It's not only funny but it is heartbreaking and left me very moved. I would say Her is this decade's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, as both films are realistic sci-fi pics that show just how hard it is to let go of someone you love, yet offer different takes on it. Even if you haven't had your heart broken, Her will still leave you as moved as I was.

Rating: 5/5

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Retro Review: Election (1999)


                                           Here Is An 'Election' To Vote For

                         Politics can be hell, just like how high school is hell. But this film not only pokes fun at just politics, but high school politics. The film Election offers a biting and hilarious commentary on just how out of control politics can get.

                         Election is about an overachieving student named Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) who is very driven and will do anything to win. She is running for class president unopposed until the history professor named Mr. McAllister (Matthew Broderick) asks the school quarterback Paul Metzler (Chris Klein) to run against her out of his dislike for Tracy. Eventually, Paul's younger sister Tammy (Jessica Campbell) decides to run and things begin to spiral afterward.

                       What I Liked About It:
                     While I enjoyed the film as a whole, the thing I loved the most that I think made the film was Reese Witherspoon's performance. She was just PERFECT for this role as she is able to pull off the character's switch from being perky and upbeat to menacing in a matter of seconds. She very much embodies the "Tracy Flick" inside all of us. My favorite scene in the film is when Tracy is tearing off Paul's campaign posters from the wall and has a huge meltdown. Plus, I liked it when they played the "tribal scream" that goes off when Tracy is about to snap.

                     I also liked how the film showcases the perspectives of the four main characters. Each of them give voiceover narrations as the film progresses and showcase their conflicts and points of view. Plus, I liked the development of the main characters. Some of which are the kind that you probably knew when you were in high school. Tracy is the overachieving yet very driven honor student who tries to always be at the top of everything. Paul is the somewhat thick-headed yet lovable sports jock. There is also another character named Lisa, who was originally in a relationship with Tammy, then cheated on her with Paul. Lisa is the kind of girl who makes you think that she loves you, but just toys with you. But Tammy is somewhat of an introverted outsider, much like I was when I was in high school. So, most people can definitely find a character that they can relate to.

                      What I Didn't Like About It:

                    Overall, Election is a diabolically hilarious satire that remains one of my favorite movies to date. It's darkly funny yet it is very enjoyable to watch, especially Reese Witherspoon's performance as Tracy Flick. This one I would highly recommend for those looking for a good laugh. Vote for Election!

Rating: 5/5

Review: Saving Mr. Banks

                                          Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, This Film Is
                       When I was younger, one of the few Disney films I wouldn't say was a huge favorite of mine was Mary Poppins. However, when I heard that there was a movie that would depict the making of Mary Poppins and would have Tom Hanks play Walt Disney, I was pretty interested. Then I saw the trailer and my hopes up got even higher. When I finally saw the film, I thought that we were given another marvelous picture that is a movie about movies.

                      Saving Mr. Banks is about the author of Mary Poppins named P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) who flies to L.A., where Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) fights to buy the rights to Mary Poppins so he can fulfill his promise to his daughters that he would turn Mary Poppins into a film. As the making of Mary Poppins progresses, Travers then tries to come to terms with her difficult childhood.

                      What I Liked About It:
                    One thing that I really liked was the performance by Emma Thompson as P.L. Travers. Thompson is not only neurotic and even heartbreaking, but she also adds some mild comic relief as well. Tom Hanks also does quite a fine job as Walt Disney and is equally as amazing as Emma Thompson is. But another actor I also really liked was Colin Farrell, who plays Travers' father, who is very loving but struggles to overcome his personal demons. I also really liked Paul Giamatti, who plays Travers' chauffeur Ralph. In fact, some of the high points in the film were the scenes between Thompson and Giamatti as they both have great chemistry.

                     But one thing that surprised me was how dark this film is. I mean, it does have its fair share of light-hearted moments, but I wouldn't say it is something for the entire family. I saw it with one of my friends at the movies and we both got a little teary. The reason it is pretty dark is because of how it shows that being a parent is difficult because whatever difficulties a parent goes through, the children have a front row seat to watch them go through with those difficulties. In Travers' case, she had to watch her father go through battling alcoholism and watch him slowly succumb to his alcoholism. It was that struggle that led Travers to create Mary Poppins, which brings me to my next point. I thought it was neat how they explained the origin of Mary Poppins because it shows just how authors or writers channel their inner turmoil into a piece of writing or even write characters that are based off of people from the author's life.

                     What I Didn't Like About It:

                   Overall, Saving Mr. Banks is a magical yet emotionally gripping tale about the story behind one of the most beloved family films of all time. This film, to quote Mary Poppins, is "practically perfect in every way".

Rating: 4.5/5

Monday, January 13, 2014

Indie Review: Breaking the Waves (1996)

                                Like A Big Tidal 'Wave' That'll Hit You When It Is Over

                      Before I saw this film, I was actually quite nervous to see it. That is mainly because of one scene that had me shaking when I first saw the trailer. But then, I eventually braved the big storm so to speak, and got around to watching this masterpiece. This masterpiece, which I would say is one of the greatest films of all time, is known as Breaking the Waves.

                    Breaking the Waves is about a na├»ve Scotswoman named Bess McNeil (Emily Watson) who marries an oilman outside of her community named Jan (Stellan Skarsgard). When Jan goes away at work, he becomes paralyzed from the neck down after an accident. Since they are unable to make love, Jan then asks Bess to have sexual relations with another man. Bess is reluctant at first, but then eventually gives in, believing she is carrying out God's will and that by making love with other men, she can heal her husband.

                 What I Liked About It:
               One thing that I really liked about the film was just how subjective it is. For example, when Jan asks Bess to make love with another man because he can't, you can decide whether or not he is doing it because he wants to separate himself from Bess so she can move on and not cling to him, or even because he wants to channel his sexual fantasies through her. Plus, because Bess believes that she is doing God's bidding by listening to what Jan tells her to do, you can decide whether she really is or not. I also loved the masterful direction by Lars Von Trier. I liked how he used a hand held camera to make the film much more realistic and his use of color. Most of the film's main characters wear blue, which represents tranquility, much like the simple community Bess lives in, and a few male characters wear a jacket that is the color brown, which means safety and security, as those few are somewhat protective of Bess. Plus, towards the end, Bess dons the color red, which, *Possible Spoiler Alert*, means doom. Since the film is the 70's, I thought it was neat that Von Trier used rock music from that era into the soundtrack.

              Another thing that I really liked was the performance by Emily Watson. Watson really excels as the character of Bess, a simple woman who while optimistic and golden-hearted, has the mindset of a child as she would constantly throw tantrums and struggles to transition as a woman. She even talks to God as if he were an imaginary friend. After watching that performance, I don't think I could see anyone else playing this role as Watson is an absolute revelation. Watson's co-stars, including Stellan Skarsgard and Katrin Cartlidge, who played Bess' concerned sister Dodo, also excel as well.

               What I Didn't Like About It:

              Overall, Breaking the Waves is a masterful and original love drama that shows just what acts people would do out of love. Even if the film is somewhat of a fable, it is still very unique and the more I think about it, the more I love it. It can be hard to watch at times, but not always. I wouldn't recommend it to everyone I know, but I would say that this is, hands down, one of the greatest films I've ever seen.

Rating: 5/5

2014 Golden Globe Awards/Winners: My Reactions

Hello, Bloggers, I watched the Golden Globes last night and I honestly thought that this years awards were a lot better than last years. Mainly because I was very happy with most of the results, more specifically in the movies categories because I haven't seen a lot of the TV shows or miniseries that were nominated. I did have some minor gripes, actually one, but I'll discuss that. Here we go:

What I Liked About It:

-I thought Amy Poehler and Tina Fey did a great job hosting as they did last year. They were so funny and had me rolling on the couch laughing. So kudos to you guys, I can't wait to se you host the ceremony again next year.

-Another thing that I liked was the winners in the movie categories. Like I said, I haven't seen a lot of the shows in the TV categories, so I can't comment on those. Anyhow, I was very glad 12 Years A Slave won Best Picture- Drama and that American Hustle won Best Picture- Musical or Comedy. 12 Years was a film that left me more emotional than any film that came out last year, and American Hustle was some of the most fun I had at the movies last year. Speaking of American Hustle, Amy Adams won Best Actress- Musical or Comedy and Jennifer Lawrence won Best Supporting Actress. Both of those wins made me happy, especially Amy Adams, who finally has at least a Golden Globe on her mantle. I loved that Alfonso Cuaron won Best Director for his phenomenal work in Gravity. I have yet to see Her so I can't comment on Spike Jonze's win for Best Screenplay, but I am a fan of his work, so I can say I'm happy for him. Leonardo DiCaprio won Best Actor- Musical or Comedy and I was quite ecstatic about that. Now, I'm really crossing my fingers for him to get his fourth Oscar nod. There is also Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto's wins for their tremendous work in Dallas Buyers Club. I am glad to see Jared Leto finally get the recognition he deserves after the film work he's put in over the years and to McConaughey winning, I just say "Alright! Alright! Alright!" because he was equally as astounding as Leto was. Lastly and certainly not least, Cate Blanchett won Best Actress- Drama for Blue Jasmine and I was quite enthused with that win as well because I thought she played one of the more complex characters to come out this year.

-I also liked Diane Keaton's ode to Woody Allen, who won the Cecil B. DeMille Award yet didn't show up to the ceremony. Plus, it was neat how some actresses that have starred in his films, like Dianne Weist and Mariel Hemingway, showed up to the ceremony.

What I Didn't Like About It:

-The one thing about the ceremony that really irritated me was when people were trying to give their speeches and they would cut them off by playing the music. To me, that is quite rude because some people were trying to give touching speeches, like Amy Adams, and they just played the music while they were talking. I get that they don't want some of the winners to go overboard and go as far to thanking their neighbor's dog or anything like that, but still. That's why the winners get nervous or  talk fast sometimes, because they get worried that the music will cut them off. Luckily, when U2 accepted the Globe for Best Original Song, they didn't cut them off because they were giving a story about Nelson Mandela, who sadly passed recently.

So, those were my thoughts about the Golden Globe Awards, and if you've seen the ceremony, please feel free to write in the comments section what you thought about it. Feel free to write what you liked and what you didn't like. Thanks for reading!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Indie Review: Vera Drake (2004)

            'Vera Drake': A Powerful Transcendent Character Study About A Golden-Hearted Woman

          This is, technically, one of the few foreign films I have reviewed thus far since the film is from Britain. Also, this is the first film I have reviewed and seen from improvisational director Mike Leigh. After seeing this, I would love to see more of his work because this one is a true piece of art.

          Set in 50's Britain, Vera Drake is about a working-class woman named Vera Drake (Imelda Staunton) who cleans the houses of rich people for a living. But, she also has a secret job as an abortionist. When one of her clients nearly dies, she is then caught and arrested, and starts to see her world and family begin to crumble.

           What I Liked About It:
          The thing that I loved the most about this film, which I think makes the film, is the performance from Imelda Staunton. She starts out as very cheerful and optimistic, but as she is caught by the police, she then breaks down and we begin to feel sorry for her. In the scene where she is caught, I remember I was feeling as nervous as she probably was when she was being interrogated. Plus, since I am still on the subject on Imelda Staunton, talk about an actress that can do a complete 180. It's amazing how she went from playing probably the nicest woman ever in this to Dolores Umbridge, a world-class b*tch in the Harry Potter films.

  I thought it was interesting that the film makes us feel sorry for her not necessarily because of the act she is being accountable for, but because she performs it out of kindness and sympathy. There is a scene where Vera says that the girls she helps have nobody else to turn to and can't have a baby for various reasons, so they come to her. So, the film demonstrates a woman being held accountable for having a heart of gold.

         What I Didn't Like About It:
        Now, one thing that sort of bugged me was that there was a subplot involving a girl, played by Sally Hawkins, who gets impregnated and doesn't share a scene with Vera. That bugged me because since Hawkins' character doesn't meet the main character, I'm not sure what she had to do with the film. It definitely doesn't mean Sally Hawkins' talent was wasted or anything like that, it's just my main gripe with this movie.

       Overall, Vera Drake is a very nuanced character study about how one is criminalized for having sympathy and features a gripping yet silent performance from Imelda Staunton. If you want a dramatic film that doesn't feature actors being dramatic and overdoing it or if you want a film that is character driven, then I would highly recommend giving this one a watch.

Rating: 4.5/5

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Oscars 2014 Predictions: Best Picture

Hello, Bloggers, welcome to a new year and here is my first post of 2014. For this one, I will finally make my predictions for what 9 or 10 films will be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars now that the Critics' Choice, Globes, and SAG nominations are out. Here we go:

12 Years A Slave: One of the biggest frontrunners in this race, 12 Years A Slave looks to be a lock for a nomination. A win I am unsure about due to the film's controversial nature. Last year's Best Picture winner Argo had a bit of controversy surrounding its historical accuracy, but that's nothing new since that is something that always hits films based on true events. Plus, even though there were two films last year nominated dealing with the topic of slavery: Lincoln and Django Unchained, they both offered different takes on the topic, just like 12 Years does.

American Hustle: One of the late bloomers in this Oscar race as it just came out and screened with critics, American Hustle looks to battle it out with 12 Years A Slave in this Oscar race as they both each have 13 Critics' Choice nods and 7 Golden Globe nods. If a Best Picture nod comes to fruition, then this will be director David O. Russell's third straight movie to get nominated. I'm sure this will make actors want to line up to star in his pictures. That would make sense since he manages to score nods for his actors as well.

Captain Phillips: Much like Argo, Captain Phillips may have a bit of controversy surrounding its historical accuracy, but like I said, that's hardly anything new or surprising. The film may be losing a little buzz but because it scored Best Picture nods at two of the first three precursor awards and nods for two of its actors, Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdi, it's definitely not out. After seeing that film, I can certainly hope its not out.

Dallas Buyers Club: In the Best Picture category, there are usually three types of indie films: The Quirky Indie, The Little Indie That Could, and the Edgy Indie. Dallas Buyers Club falls between the second and the latter category. I would put it under the latter category due to its heavy subject matter involving AIDS, but I think this year's Edgy Indie is without a doubt 12 Years A Slave. Anyhow, I feel that they could nominate this film for Best Picture to increase the chances of its two lead actors, Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto, a shot at getting nominated for their performances and because the film deals with heavy subject matter. Much like how 12 Years A Slave is this year's Schindler's List, Dallas Buyers Club could be this year's Philadelphia.

Gravity: Earlier in this race, it was said to be a battle between Gravity and 12 Years A Slave, until American Hustle stepped in. I could definitely see Gravity getting nominated for Best Picture, as well as Best Actress and Best Director. But when it comes to wins, I feel it might suffer Avatar fate, and just get recognized for its technical achievements, which it should as they have accomplished a film-going experience that is different from anything I've ever seen.

Her: I would say that if there is any film that 12 Years or American Hustle should watch out for, it is this one. It won a few critics' awards for Best Picture, including the National Board of Review and the Los Angeles Film Critics Society. Not only that, but Her seems to be a film that is a social commentary about how we have become too attached to technology, and the Academy does love films that have some kind of message. I have yet to see Her, but when I do, who knows whether I'll feel that 12 Years and Hustle have a good reason to look over their shoulders this awards season.

Inside Llewyn Davis: Next up is a film directed by two well-known Oscar darlings: The Coen Brothers. Inside Llewyn Davis is, while about musicians, not based on a real-life musician or anything like that, but seems to be rather about the harsh realities of a struggling artist, which could touch a nerve on Academy voters. Who knows if a win will be possible, but the Academy is sure that if the Coens keep making movies, they'll be back at the ceremony again.

Nebraska: Nebraska looks to be this year's Juno or The Kids Are All Right, or in other words, the Quirky Indie of the Best Picture category. One thing that benefits this film is its director, Alexander Payne, who has become an Oscar darling, like the Coens, since he burst onto the scene with one of my favorite movies, 1999's Election which stars Matthew Broderick and Reese Witherspoon. I unfortunately missed Nebraska in theaters so I can't really comment on whether I think it should win or not, but I do think it will have a shot at getting nominated and potentially winning the Globe for Best Picture- Musical or Comedy.

The Wolf of Wall Street: Like American Hustle, Wolf of Wall Street is another late bloomer in this Oscar race since it just came out and screened for critics. After seeing the film, I can definitely see why it is a strong contender as I really enjoyed it and thought it was another masterpiece by the team-up of Scorsese and DiCaprio. Scorsese, much like Alexander Payne and the Coens, is an Oscar darling and it would be impossible for the Academy to ignore him, especially if the film is getting stellar reviews. Plus, with Scorsese taking new approaches to his storytelling by making films different from the crime films he's famous for, the Academy could continue to reward him for his efforts and highlight his impressive range as a director.

Now onto the "dark horses" that could trot their way into the final 9:

Lee Daniels' The Butler: It scored three SAG nods including Best Cast in a Motion Picture, so it may be down, but not out.

Rush: Scored a surprising Golden Globe nod for Best Picture- Drama. Plus, Ron Howard is behind it.

Philomena: Scored a Best Picture-Drama nod at the Globes, but hardly anybody has seen it, so we'll see.

August: Osage County: Long shot, but you never know. It has a Best Cast nod at the SAG awards, so we'll see.

Saving Mr. Banks: May not have a nod for Best Picture at the Globes or Best Cast at the SAGs, but it is nominated for Best Picture at the Critics' Choice Awards, so like The Butler, it may be down, but it's not out.

So, those were my prediction on who I think will get nominated for Best Picture and who could sneak their way into the final 9. If there is any film you would like to see get nominated for Best Picture, of if you agree or disagree with any of my picks, please feel free to write in the comments section. Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!