Friday, February 28, 2014

Top 10 Best Post-Oscar Careers

When I surf the net, I tend to see plenty of lists of actors who are said to have some of the worst post-Oscar careers, but I figured I'd compile my own list of actors that have successfully capitalized on their Oscar wins. Here is my list of the Top 10 Actors With The Best Post-Oscar Careers. Here we go:

10. Marion Cotillard: Starting off my list is Marion Cotillard who recently won Best Actress back in 2008 for her turn as Edith Piaf in La Vie En Rose. Cotillard may have won for her only nomination thus far, like many ingénues before her (Halle Berry, Gwyneth Paltrow, Reese Witherspoon), but Cotillard would go on to find a balance between smaller, critical acclaim (Rust and Bone, Midnight in Paris) and commercial success (Inception, The Dark Knight Rises). Plus, she would work with directors among the likes of Woody Allen, Steven Soderbergh, Michael Mann, and Christopher Nolan.

9. Sandra Bullock: Another recent Best Actress winner, Sandra Bullock was already a box office queen by the time of her win, and still is. But after her win for The Blind Side, she would still go the commercial route while still capitalizing on her Oscar win with a recent second nomination in the same category for Gravity.

8. Frances McDormand: Yet another Best Actress winner, this versatile character actress won back in 1997 for her performance in Fargo. Not only would McDormand receive two subsequent nominations for Best Supporting Actress for her performances in Almost Famous and North Country, but she would stay loyal to her indie sensibilities and even take her talents to the stage, winning a Tony. She is just an Emmy away from completing her Triple Crown.

7. Denzel Washington: Now onto a two-time Oscar winner, for Best Supporting Actor for his work in Glory and Best Actor for Training Day, Denzel Washington has proven himself to be an artistic master of his craft and a master at the box office as well, like other actors on this list. He has won 2 out of 6 nominations, and I'm sure if he continues acting, there'll be more nods on the horizon.

6. Geoffrey Rush: Rush first burst onto the Hollywood scene when he won Best Actor for his first nomination back in 97 for his role in Shine. Since then, he would receive three subsequent nods, for Best Supporting Actor for Shakespeare in Love and The King's Speech, and Best Actor for Quills. All showcasing his range as an actor. Plus, not only would he find a balance between box office dollars (Pirates series, Finding Nemo) and critical acclaim, but he would complete his Triple Crown of Acting by winning an Emmy and a Tony afterward.

5. Cate Blanchett: Next is the great Cate Blanchett, who won Best Supporting Actress for her role as Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator. Fresh from her Oscar win, she would receive another nod two years for her supporting turn in Notes on a Scandal, then the year after, receive two acting nods, for BSA for I'm Not There and Best Actress for Elizabeth: The Golden Age. Before and after her win, she would find commercial success with the Lord of the Rings series and the latest Indiana Jones sequel, while maintaining her indie cred and even her stage sensibilities back in her home country. I'm starting to think there is no such thing as an Oscar curse.

4. Jack Nicholson: Now onto someone who is not only a famous movie star but is the most nominated actor in history with 12 nominations, Mr. Jack Nicholson, who has not 1, not 2, but 3 Oscars on his mantle: 2 for Best Actor and 1 for Best Supporting Actor. Not only has he proven himself as a critically acclaimed actor and a box office power, but he has showcased his range in various genres: Horror, Superhero, Comedy, Crime Drama, Sci-Fi, and even Fantasy.

3. Tom Hanks: Tom Hanks, the ultimate everyman next to James Stewart, has not only won 2 Best Actor Oscars, but is one of the few to win two Oscars back-to-back. He won his first Oscar in 94 for Philadelphia and his second for Forrest Gump the year after. Plus, he would even star in multiple Best Picture nominees and winners: Apollo 13, The Green Mile, Saving Private Ryan, Forrest Gump, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Captain Phillips, and Toy Story 3. Plus, he would even find success on TV by producing many miniseries' like Band of Brothers, John Adams, and Game Change. winning Emmys for it. The fact that his films have also grossed 8.5 billion worldwide doesn't hurt either.

2. Daniel Day-Lewis: DDL may not work as heavily as some of the other people on this list, but when he does, he wins awards for it. He is as of now, the only actor to win 3 Best Actor Oscars. He won for his performances in My Left Foot, There Will Be Blood, and Lincoln, with each performance different from the other. He even has 2 other nominations in the same category for his roles in In the Name of the Father and Gangs of New York.

1. Meryl Streep: Was there any doubt? This acting dynamo now has 18 Oscar nominations with 3 wins, and even other awards that I'll list some of: 2 Emmys, 2 BAFTAs, 8 Golden Globes, a Grammy nod, a Tony nod, a Cannes Award for Best Actress, and more that I won't list. It's no wonder she is labeled the greatest modern actress working today.

Now onto some honorable mentions that didn't quite make the list:
Marisa Tomei
Helen Hunt
Dustin Hoffman
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Al Pacino
Kevin Spacey
Jodie Foster
Anthony Hopkins
Emma Thompson
Gene Hackman
George Clooney
Matt Damon
Charlize Theron
Ingrid Bergman
Sissy Spacek
Sidney Poitier
Javier Bardem
Angelina Jolie
Robert De Niro

So, that was my list of the top 10 actors who had some of the best post-Oscar careers. If there is anybody you would've added or if you disagree, please feel free to write in the comments section. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Review: Prisoners (2013)

                                      A Haunting, "Take-No-'Prisoners'" Thriller

                  While we always hear about crime happening in the big city, Prisoners shows us how the most terrifying crimes can happen right in the most quaint places, in particular small-town America and suburbia.

                Prisoners is set in a small town in Pennsylvania where two children go missing. One child's father named Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) tries to take matters into his own hands by kidnapping a suspect named Alex Jones (Paul Dano) who has the IQ of a 10-year-old. While he is trying to find his daughter, a police officer named Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) is on the case of these missing girls but provides his own form of justice.

                What I Liked About It:
               Where do I begin here? First off, I'll say that I loved the masterful direction by Denis Villeneuve. Since Villeneuve is a foreign director, it definitely has the look and feel of a foreign language film, which is good because I'm a sucker for foreign films. It is nice that he is bringing that form of direction over to an American film and to the mainstream as well. Hopefully we see much more foreign directors doing the same thing as it would be nice for them to share their visions and craft with American audiences. I also liked just how silent the film is. By that, I mean it has very little music and that just adds to the creep factor. One thing that I even realized is that the film is mostly set on cloudy days and at night, which to me adds to the film's sinister tone.

                Another thing that I liked was the performances from the cast. Hugh Jackman gives the performance of his career in this film. Love the man as Wolverine but it is hard to top this. When you watch his performance, you feel his heartbreak and angst to find his daughter, yet because he exudes such brutal force, you are a bit frightened by him. Jake Gyllenhaal is also outstanding as Det. Loki, who unlike Jackman's character, is rather more calm and collected but occasionally implodes. I liked how both of their characters were developed because it makes them the yin to each other's yang. Terrence Howard and Viola Davis, who play the other missing child's parents, also do a fine job, as well as Paul Dano and Maria Bello, who plays Dover's wife. But one actress who I'd also like to acknowledge is Melissa Leo, who plays Alex's aunt Holly. Leo is just brilliant as the aunt who may know a little more than she lets on. She has such a calm presence that honestly, I was quite intimidated by her. So kudos to the acting chameleon that is Melissa Leo.
             I also thought it was neat how the film asks us moral questions. Like for example, if someone took someone you love, how far you would go to get that loved one back? Would you be willing to sacrifice your own humanity to see that loved one again? How badly would you hurt the person that took your loved one or would you hurt them? The film is very much a morality tale and the title comes from how we are prisoners of our own morality.

             What I Didn't Like About It:
            One minor complaint I have is that while Terrence Howard, Maria Bello, and Viola Davis gave great performances, I thought they were a bit underused. But to be fair, this film is about Jackman and Gyllenhaal's characters and follows their stories. Plus, this is an ensemble piece so not every actor is front and center. So this is more of a minor nitpick than anything else.

            Overall, Prisoners is a horrific yet morally questioning thriller that will you keep you guessing until the very end. It has terrific performances from the cast, great pacing despite its 2 and a half hour length, and despite having a story we've seen before, offers something new to the table. Highly recommended!

Rating: 4.5/5


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Top 8 Oscar Upsets I Wouldn't Mind Seeing This Year

Hello, Bloggers, sorry it's been a while, but I've been occupied with school. As part of my Oscar coverage, I will discuss what kind of potential upsets I wouldn't mind seeing happen on Oscar night since this was such a great year for films. Not to say that my picks are more deserving than those who might potentially win, it's just upsets are rare at the Oscars these days and I wouldn't mind seeing an upset or two. Here we go:

9. The Moon Song over Let It Go OR Ordinary Love for Best Original Song: from  I feel like this is a neck-in-neck race between "Let It Go" from Frozen and "Ordinary Love" from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, with "Ordinary Love" potentially gaining a slighter edge because of the backstory involving how U2 were closely associated with Nelson Mandela. But if there is one song I'd love to see upset both, it would be the very soothing "Moon Song" the movie Her. I like all three songs, especially "Let It Go", but "Moon Song" always has me singing the "million miles away" lyric every time I think about Her.

8. The Hunt over The Great Beauty for Best Foreign Language Film: The Italian pic The Great Beauty seems poised to win the Foreign Language Film Oscar. While I haven't seen it, my pick to win it is the Danish film The Hunt. The only other nominated film I've seen is the Belgian Broken Circle Breakdown, which I admittedly didn't care for as much as The Hunt. The one thing that works against The Hunt's favor is that it is very dark as it deals with a modern-day witch hunt. But, we'll have to wait and see.

7. Michael Fassbender OR Bradley Cooper over Jared Leto for Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto has swept up pretty good this awards season for his portrayal of a comical yet conflicted AIDS-infected transsexual named Rayon, winning the Critics' Choice, Globe, and SAG despite getting snubbed by the BAFTAs. While I would be for Leto winning the trophy, it would also be neat to see either Michael Fassbender win for his daring and complex portrayal of a sadistic plantation owner in 12 Years A Slave or Bradley Cooper win for his dynamic portrayal of the power hungry head of the ABSCAM operation in American Hustle. This is a strong category so either one of these three is alright with me.

6. 20 Feet From Stardom over The Act of Killing for Best Documentary: Something tells me The Act of Killing seems poised to win Best Documentary. But even though I haven't seen it, I would love to see the brilliant documentary 20 Feet From Stardom win the Best Documentary Oscar. If you are into music, I would highly recommend you check out 20 Feet From Stardom. It is about singers who were backup singers for artists like Sting and Rolling Stones, but it is very interesting.

5. Sally Hawkins over Lupita Nyong'o OR Jennifer Lawrence for Best Supporting Actress: The BSA Oscar this year seems to be a rumble between the ingénues: Lupita Nyong'o, the Yale School of Drama grad nominated for her first film role vs. box office champ and previous Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence. But if one actress were to derail them both, it could be Sally Hawkins for her brilliant portrayal of a modern-day Stella Kowalski in Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine. All three are brilliant performances: Lupita Nyong'o delivers a heartbreaking performance by acting with her eyes, Jennifer Lawrence is devilishly comedic as the main character's housewife in American Hustle, and Sally Hawkins pulls off a character that you just want to shake because of her choices in men, yet you still love her. I could definitely see them choosing Hawkins in case they don't want to give the Oscar to an actress for her first film role and feel that two Oscars would be too much too soon for Lawrence.
4. Leonardo DiCaprio over Matthew McConaughey for Best Actor: In my opinion, this upset seems plausible. McConaughey may have been on a roll these past few years with his interesting film choices and I applaud him for that. If he wins, I would definitely NOT be upset as after seeing Dallas Buyers Club, he was outstanding and gives a career-best performance but DiCaprio is just as deserving as he is. Not only that, but DiCaprio is one of those actors I would love to see have an Oscar and this is his 4th acting nomination. Either one of these two winning is alright with me, so if Jennifer Lawrence does end up reading Matthew McConaughey's name out of the envelope, I'll be like "Oh, alright". Or in Matthew's words, "Alright! Alright! Alright!"

3. Amy Adams over Cate Blanchett for Best Actress: Like Jared Leto, Cate Blanchett has deservingly swept this awards season. I did pick Cate Blanchett for Best Actress on my annual Film Guy Awards over on my Facebook notes, but Adams winning the Oscar would be understandable in my book. It wouldn't just be because she's overdue but because she is equally as deserving as Blanchett is.

2. Prisoners over Gravity for Best Cinematography: Gravity and Prisoners are two films with amazing cinematography. I am a fan of Emmanuel Lubezki who was the cinematographer for Gravity and I'd be pretty stoked if he won, but because Best Cinematography is the only nomination for Prisoners and Gravity is nominated for 10, I'd especially like to see the 11-time Oscar nominee Roger Deakins win for a film that I personally think was largely overlooked this awards season.

1. Her or American Hustle over 12 Years A Slave for Best Picture: Right from the get go, 12 Years A Slave was and is my pick for Best Picture. But if I wanted to see any film derail it, it would be Her or even American Hustle. If any other film were to derail 12 Years, it would more than likely be Hustle or Gravity, but Hustle would also be a deserving winner. It is not only entertaining but it conveys a strong moral message about how we live in a world of grey. But Her showcases how we have become so attached to our technological devices and does it in a futuristic way. Either way, I'll still find myself enjoying the ceremony.

So, those are the top 9 upsets I wouldn't mind seeing on Sunday night. If you agree or disagree, please feel free to write in the comments section. Thanks for reading and here's to a great Oscar season!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Top 10 Male Oscar Performances of the Past 25 Years

Hello, Bloggers, as I promised, I have created my list of the top 10 best male Oscar performances of the past 25 years. Like with my list of the best female Oscar performances, I have mixed together performances that have both won and been nominated for Best Actor. Also, like with my other list, this list is not based on who should have won or whether the winners were superior to the nominees they beat. Plus, this list is entirely based on my opinion. Here we go:

10. Joe Pesci, Goodfellas: One of the more memorable performances to win Best Supporting Actor, Joe Pesci is simply outstanding as the hot-headed yet psychopathic and unpredictable mob member Tommy DeVito. Despite Pesci's higher pitched voice making him seem less intimidating, Pesci definitely doesn't let that fool you when you watch his portrayal.

9. Daniel Day-Lewis, My Left Foot: Now the film itself is quite meh, but the best thing about it was its actors, especially DDL. This is the film that won DDL his first Oscar out of his three and after watching this film, I would say deservingly so. As the film progressed, I found myself becoming captivated by his performance and the true dedication he brings to his artistry as he plays a man with cerebral palsy. As I said, the film is meh, but it is worth a watch just for DDL's performance.

8. Javier Bardem, No Country For Old Men: Javier Bardem not only is terrifying in the role of Anton Chigurh because of his horrific haircut, but because of his stillness. He never goes over-the-top and he never gives an evil cackle or anything like that. All Bardem does is give a piercing look and when you watch his performance, you just shiver. I know chills were sent down my spine when I saw it and it is no surprise that Bardem's performance is starting to become iconic.

7. Tom Hanks, Forrest Gump: Now onto an already iconic performance, Tom Hanks won his 2nd Oscar in a row for his brilliant portrayal of a mentally challenged man in the classic that is Forrest Gump. Hanks is lovable and endearing, and as you are watching the film, he allows you to be taken on his character's unique journey. Luckily, we, the audience want to be taken on that journey.

6. Edward Norton, American History X: In a film that is a VERY tough watch, Edward Norton gives one of the most dynamic performances in recent memory as a man who transitions from a sadistic neo-Nazi skinhead to a man who becomes broken after being released from prison where he learns the error of his ways and once released, struggles to prevent his brother from going down the same path. After the film was over, I couldn't come out with any words at all, but it shows how powerful this film and Norton's performance is.

5. Ralph Fiennes, Schindler's List: The film Schindler's List is very powerful and one reason is because of Ralph Fiennes' portrayal of the real-life demonic being known as Amon Goeth. While Fiennes may not be as physically intimidating as Anton Chigurh or Jason Voorhees, he still leaves a large presence when on screen and gives a character that is very empty of emotions plenty of depth.

4. Kevin Spacey, American Beauty: In American Beauty, Kevin Spacey may not play the most likable human being on the planet, but he pulls his character off so well, that we do find ourselves on his side. However, Spacey definitely isn't afraid to showcase his character's rather unappealing qualities as well. I always enjoy watching Kevin Spacey on screen, whether he plays the good or bad guy, but here I get to enjoy watching him play someone in between.

3. Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl: Probably the most comedic performance on this list, and one of the more entertaining, Johnny Depp's portrayal of the now famous drunken pirate Captain Jack Sparrow has not only showcased his range as an actor, but made him the household name that he is today. This is actually the performance that made me such a big fan of his and is one that I have watched again and again. I never grow tired of watching this portrayal.

2. Anthony Hopkins, Silence of the Lambs: To describe how terrific Hopkins is, I'll say this: Anthony Hopkins won the Oscar for Best Lead Actor even though he has about 25 total minutes of screen time and when he is on screen, he has a large and commanding presence. Who doesn't remember the film's famous "flava beans and Chianti" scene? I know Hopkins not only pulled off a brilliant performance as the charismatic anti-hero known as Hannibal Lecter, but helped make it as famous as it is today.

1. Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight: I remember when I first heard that Heath Ledger was going to play The Joker and I, like many comic book fans, had my doubts. But then, I saw the film and in the film's 2 and a half hour screen time, not once did I feel like I was watching an actor playing a part when I watched Heath Ledger's portrayal of The Joker. All I saw was The Joker. It was like a psycho just happened to walk on to the set, but that is just how phenomenal Heath Ledger was. He may have departed too soon, but Ledger went out with a bang with this performance.

Here are a few honorable mentions that didn't make it onto my list:

Christian Bale, The Fighter
George Clooney, Up in the Air
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
Jamie Foxx, Ray
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote/The Master
Ian McKellen, Gods and Monsters
Gary Sinise, Forrest Gump
Christopher Walken, Catch Me If You Can
Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds/Django Unchained
Denzel Washington, Training Day
Robin Williams, Good Will Hunting

So, that was my list of the Top 10 Male Oscar Performances and my list of honorable mentions. Thanks for reading and as always, please feel free to write in the comments section.

Top 10 Best Female Oscar Performances of the Past 25 Years

Hello, Bloggers, as part of my Oscar coverage, I will do a list of the best female performances of the past 25 years that have either won or been nominated for a Best Actress or Supporting Actress Oscar. For each performance, I will select clips to showcase them. Please note, that this list is entirely based on my opinion. So if you agree, that is great but if you disagree, please be kind. Plus, this list is not based on who should have won or whether the winners were more deserving than who they beat. It is made purely for entertainment purposes and as part of my Oscar coverage. Here we go:

10. Kate Winslet, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: Whenever Winslet is on screen in Eternal Sunshine, she really blazes. She is vulnerable, feisty, impulsive, and yet endearing. Winslet's character of Clementine Kruczynski is a kind of girl that isn't one's typical type of girl, yet you still love her. I thank Charlie Kaufman for creating such an enriching character, and Kate Winslet for playing her and giving such an amazing performance.

9. Kathy Bates, Misery; One of the few performers to be nominated for starring in a horror film and the first to win for starring in a horror film, Kathy Bates' performance as the iconic Annie Wilkes proves why many artists should fear the words "I'm your number one fan". She's very calm and sweet yet oh so frightening. Plus, she shows how, for some people, nothing screams "I love you" like a dose of sledgehammer to the ankles.

8. Mo'Nique, Precious: Another villainous performance, Mo'Nique is so good in Precious as the main character's monstrous mother, you just want to drop a TV on her every time she is on screen. It is a complete 180 from her usual comedic persona, but holy crap, she is phenomenal. When you watch the performance, especially the final scene at the end, you can definitely see why she won the Oscar.

7. Frances McDormand, Fargo: Now onto a more comedic performance, Frances McDormand gives rather subtle comedic relief because of how her character Marge Gunderson interacts with others in a quirky manner. Honestly, McDormand is so good that when she is on screen, I just see the character and not the actress. Plus, she also reveals a more humanistic side to her character, apart from her comedic timing, and that is what makes her so great.

6. Jodie Foster, Silence of the Lambs: Yet another iconic performance, Jodie Foster really shines as the young FBI agent who matches wits with the psychotic Hannibal Lecter. Foster is amazing because as she is opening up her vulnerabilities to Lecter, she takes us on her perilous journey and we begin to root for her. It's no wonder the character of Clarice Starling landed a #6 spot on the AFI Top 50 Heroes List. It's all thanks to Foster's brilliant performance.

5. Kate Hudson, Almost Famous: This may be one of Hudson's earlier performances, but I would  say this is her best performance. What is so fantastic about Hudson's portrayal of rock groupie Penny Lane is how her free-spirited persona that she reveals is a mask for the scared little girl afraid of the real world on the inside. She is both endearing yet painfully vulnerable and I would honestly love to see Hudson do more films like this.

4. Annette Bening, American Beauty: This is the film and performance that made me such a big fan of Annette Bening. I think one scene that really captivated me about her performance is the scene where she is trying to sell a house on "put on a face" so to speak for the potential buyers and after she struggle, has a bit of a breakdown. Bening gives a very complex performance, as she is sensual, demeaning, sarcastic, yet somewhat endearing.

3. Emily Watson, Breaking the Waves: Not only does Emily Watson give one of the best female performances put on screen, but one of the best screen debuts ever put on screen. Watson pulls off a girl struggling to transition into a woman who enters these forces she hardly understands and with a childlike wonder. Ever since I saw the film, I could not stop thinking about amazing the film and more importantly her performance was.

2. Ellen Burstyn, Requiem For A Dream: I remember the first time I saw Requiem For A Dream and a long while after I saw it, one thing that was left imprinted in my mind was the performance by the brilliance that is Ellen Burstyn. Just by watching the scene below, you will know just how extraordinary and heartbreaking her performance is:

1. Charlize Theron, Monster: I have a feeling some will look at Theron's Oscar-winning turn as serial killer Aileen Wuornos as a simple "beauty to beast" transformation, but in my opinion, it is a LOT more than that. Theron loses herself so much in the role both physically and mentally, that you wouldn't know it was Charlize Theron until the end credits. The film itself is hard to watch and even those that say it is so-so, comment highly on Theron's performance. That is the hallmark of a great performance.

Now here are some honorable mentions that didn't quite make it on this list:

Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Helen Hunt, As Good As It Gets
Holly Hunter, Thirteen
Catherine Keener, Being John Malkovich
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Rooney Mara, Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Julianne Moore, Boogie Nights
Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
Hilary Swank, Boys Don't Cry

So, that is my list of the Top 10 Best Female Performance of the Past 25 Years and I will post The Top 10 Male Performances later today. Until then, thanks for reading and as always, please feel free to write your thoughts in the comments section.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Top 10 Anti-Valentine's Day Movies

Hello, Bloggers, since I haven't done a top ten list in a while, I figured that somewhat in the spirit of Valentine's Day, I'd compile my list of the Top 10 Anti-Valentine's Day Movies, or the top 10 films that prove just how much love can stink and doesn't always end up like a Meg Ryan or Julia Roberts movie.

Here we go:

10. May: First up on my list is an underrated horror gem known as May, which deals with a lonely woman who after she is tired of being rejected and hurt, decides to make her own "friend" out of human body parts. It's actually a really solid film and I would recommend it if you are a lover of horror films like I am.

9. Breaking the Waves: Next up is the gem that I have spoken very highly of that is Breaking The Waves. While it does show the lengths that one will go for love, the film demonstrates what rough lengths the main character has to go through to prove her love for her husband: Trying to bang other men since her husband is paralyzed from the neck down. Plus, the beginning of the film shows what great chemistry these two characters have and that makes the circumstances they go through even harder to swallow.

8. Mulholland Dr.: Since this film is a mixture of both dream and reality, it does showcase how love can be a crazy fantasy. Especially since one of the main characters, Diane, played by Naomi Watts is in love with an actress who just gets a kick out of upsetting her and driving her over the edge. What makes that even sadder is that this actress seems pretty aware that Diane is in love with her. Seems some people have no concern over other people's feelings when it comes to love.

7. Edward Scissorhands: Tim Burton's best film to date, Edward Scissorhands shows just how much love sucks when you literally can't touch your significant other. The film of course deals with a man who has scissors for hands and shows that even when a guy like him sort of gets the girl in the end, it still doesn't necessarily have a happy ending. Nowadays, the ending always gets to me.

6. Brokeback Mountain: Not only does this film show how much love sucks, but how much society tends to suck. The film deals with two gay cowboys who keep trying to end up together but one of them recognizes that if they were caught holding hands in the wrong place, it wouldn't end well for them, so they just always meet up at the titular Brokeback Mountain and would go on to live up to the societal expectations of marrying women and having children even though they are not straight. See, not only does love stink, but people stink.

5. Valentine: Next up is another rather underrated horror gem that is the slasher flick Valentine starring Denise Richards and David Boreanaz. The film deals with four friends who get picked off one by one by a killer who may or not be someone they rejected at a Valentine's Day school dance years ago. Along with May, this film shows just how careful on whose heart you break in a not very subtle way. In other words, it shows to be careful to break someone's heart in a harsh and nasty manner.

4. Sunset Boulevard: While this film isn't exactly a love story, it does deal with a romance, so it still counts. It deals with a young screenwriter who has a somewhat romantic relationship with a fading movie star named who turns out to have serious abandonment issues. That's why her butler always sticks with her and the film's main character struggles to get away from her. Not to spoil it, but things don't end well with either of them.

3. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: One of the more unconventional love stories in recent memory, Eternal Sunshine showcases something that most love stories these days don't: realistic flawed human beings. It doesn't just show how love stinks for the main couple who try to wipe out their memories of each other, but some of the other main characters as well, like the nerdy guy who gets laid, but the girl only views him as a friend and would rather channel her feelings towards their much older boss. That is very plausible because their are women like that. Not all of them, but some of them. So, the film as a whole shows how love can be a pain.

2. A Streetcar Named Desire: A classic that is a rather unconventional choice for an Anti-Valentine's Day film, A Streetcar Named Desire deals with a main character who yearns to be loved and whose sister is married to a brutish and very dominant man. So, the film goes to show how their are plenty of people who are married to or date creeps that are difficult to get away from. Even when love is hard for those who are alone, it is also a pain in the butt for those that have a significant other.

1. Fatal Attraction: The most "Anti" of all Anti-Valentine's Day Movies, Fatal Attraction is very much Exhibit A on why NOT to cheat on your spouse. You never know how much someone hates the thought of being rejected or alone. Just ask Alex Forrest if she were real, or just watch the film.

Here are also a few honorable mentions that couldn't quite make it on this list:

Misery (1990)
Election (1999)
My Bloody Valentine (1981)
American Beauty (1999)
Basic Instinct (1992)
Her (2013)

So, that was my list of the top 10 Anti-Valentine's Day Movies and if there is anything you'd like to add to the list or if you agree or disagree with any of my picks, please feel free to write in the comments section. Thanks for reading, and Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Retro Reviews: Sunset Boulevard (1950)

                                 This Sinister Yet Comedic 'Sunset' Really Shines

                       Hollywood can be a very tough and cutthroat town, with so many struggling writers and actors hoping for their big break, and much older stars who fade into obscurity once their 15 minutes are up and hope for a shot at the spotlight once more. This film, at the time, was one that Hollywood didn't want to make and understandably so, but it brilliantly shows the harsh realities of a town built on fantasy.

                     Sunset Boulevard is about a struggling screenwriter named Joe Gillis (William Holden) who one day tries to avoid repossession men looking to claim his car and he ends up in the house of former silent movie star Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson). Norma, who has faded into obscurity is just looking for a comeback and her pursuit of that proves to be disastrous.

                     What I Liked About It:
                   First off, the thing I loved the most about this film was Gloria Swanson's iconic portrayal of Norma Desmond. The character of Norma Desmond really embodies the kind of movie star that falls from grace and goes to extreme lengths to be loved by the public and the cameras again. Swanson is comical yet sinister, and vulnerable yet despicable. She was a bit over-the-top, but my god, was she fun to watch. Swanson is truly the heart and soul of this movie and it is easy to see why the character of Norma has reached iconic status. Honestly, even if the film was bad, then the best thing about would still be Gloria Swanson's performance.

                  William Holden also shines as Norma's partner-in-crime Joe and when watching this film, I personally found myself hoping he would somehow survive this crazy situation his character in. Plus, I liked the scenes between him and Nancy Olson, who plays a script supervisor named Betty Schaeffer, as they both had great chemistry. Erick von Stroheim, who plays Norma's butler Max, gives a rather low-key performance as the film's moral center, but is astounding.

                  One thing that I thought was very interesting, was how I found it to be quite satirical yet in the end, the film gets very tragic. I don't want to spoil it because I think this is a film that should be seen by many, especially those that want to try and make it big in Hollywood because this film is like a warning for what could possibly come.

                   What I Didn't Like About It:

                  Overall, Sunset Boulevard is a bitingly satirical yet realistic and tragic portrayal of a town built entirely on fantasy that features one of the best and most iconic movie performances ever put on screen. If you love to study film, then I would highly, and I mean, HIGHLY, recommend this classic, or if you just love to watch movies, then I would still recommend it. This 'Sunset' really shines!

Rating: 5/5

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Oscars 2014: Predictions/Picks

Hello, Bloggers, today I figured I'd give an early in-depth look as to who I think will win at the Oscars this year in the major categories, who I think should win, as well as who I think could win and possible pull off an upset. I'll start off small by going with Best Supporting Actress:

Best Supporting Actress:

Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years A Slave
Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
June Squibb, Nebraska

Should/Will Win: Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years A Slave: She won the Critics' Choice and the SAG Award, and when I saw her performance, I can see why there is a lot of praise over her performance as she was just a revelation. I hope that she goes places after this movie as Lupita is a talent treasure that should just really be opened. Some predict that Jennifer Lawrence will win her 2nd consecutive Oscar, but I don't think the Academy will be just aching to give her a 2nd anytime soon. If she won a 2nd Oscar at some point, it would be neat, but I wouldn't want to see it happen right away.

Could Win: Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine OR June Squibb, Nebraska: I feel Hawkins could have a shot at scoring the Oscar since she is in a Woody Allen movie and the Academy loves Woody Allen's ladies as much as he does, and she has been doing the acting thing longer than Nyong'o and Lawrence have. Plus, I would definitely NOT be upset if Hawkins won since I was rooting for throughout this awards season. However, June Squibb, a much older player could pull off a win and benefit from the Academy's tendency to give older veterans an Oscar in case it is their last chance and this could be Squibb's last chance.

Best Supporting Actor:

Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years A Slave
Jonah Hill, Wolf of Wall Street
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

Should Win: Michael Fassbender, 12 Years A Slave: Fassbender delivers a very haunting and complex performance as slave owner Edwin Epps and I would love to see Fassbender score a win for his portrayal. Although, because he has so much work lined up, he'll more than likely have more chances to win the gold, and I do hope he wins one at some point. But, he could win the BAFTA since the category's frontrunner got snubbed.

Will Win: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club: Despite not getting nominated by the BAFTAs, it seems Leto has this category sewn up as he won the Critics' Choice, Globe, and SAG Award. But Leto is amazing in Dallas Buyers Club, and makes you forget you're watching Jared Leto on screen. So, I wouldn't be crushed if he did win.

Could Win: Bradley Cooper, American Hustle OR Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips: Since Hustle is nominated in every acting category, the Academy may reward at least one nominated performance and in case Lawrence or Amy Adams don't win, I feel they could give it to Bradley Cooper since Christian Bale, who is nominated for Best Actor, already won before. They could also give it to Barkhad Abdi, who is nominated for his debut performance and has a solid narrative behind his campaign, as he was previously a limo driver with no acting experience and he delivers an outstanding performance where he holds his own against Tom Hanks of all people.

Best Actress:

Amy Adams, American Hustle
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock, Gravity'
Judi Dench, Philomena
Meryl Streep, August: Osage County

Will Win: Amy Adams: I seriously think that this is Adams' year. This is her 5th nomination, and she is the only nominee that hasn't won yet. I feel this is finally the year that Adams could take home the gold. So, I think she should start preparing her speech. 

Should Win: Amy Adams OR Cate Blanchett: As astounding as Adams was, Cate Blanchett was equally as astounding as the modern-day Blanche DuBois in Blue Jasmine. Either one of these performances winning is perfectly cool with me.

Could Win: Judi Dench: This is Dench's 7th nomination and even though she's won before, she won for Best Supporting Actress, and who knows how many opportunities she'll have to win Best Lead Actress. So, to play it safe, they could give her the prize.

Best Actor:

Christian Bale, American Hustle
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio, Wolf of Wall Street
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years A Slave
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

Will Win: Matthew McConaughey: Alright! Alright! Alright! McConaughey is on fire this awards season and I would not be surprised to see him win this thing. He is certainly deserving like the other nominees in this category that I've seen.

Should Win: Leonardo DiCaprio: It seems a bit ironic that DiCaprio's co-star in Wall Street who has about a few scenes has a better shot at winning the golden man, but DiCaprio is definitely as deserving as McConaughey is. But DiCaprio might have a shot at winning this thing since this is his 4th nomination and it is pretty obvious how badly he wants to win an Oscar with the type of projects he does and directors he works with, so they could give him the win to terminate the suspense.

Could Win: Bruce Dern: If there is anybody that has an outside chance, it is Bruce Dern. Similar reasons as June Squibb, whereas he could benefit from voters thinking "It's time".

Best Original Screenplay:

American Hustle
Blue Jasmine
Dallas Buyers Club

Should/Will Win: Her: Writer Spike Jonze is cleaning up pretty good in this Oscar race, since he won the Critics' Choice, Globe, and the WGA.

Could Win: American Hustle: Because Hustle, along with Gravity, has 10 nominations, the most nominations of any film, it could be bound to win at least one or two. If it is, then I could see it winning an acting Oscar and Best Screenplay.

Best Adapted Screenplay:

12 Years A Slave
Before Midnight
Captain Phillips
Wolf of Wall Street

Should Win: 12 Years A Slave: This would definitely be my pick out of all the nominees that I've seen.

Will Win: 12 Years A Slave OR Captain Phillips: Despite not getting nominated at the WGA Awards, 12 Years still has a potential shot at winning the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay since it won at the Critics' Choice Awards. But Captain Phillips did win at the WGA Awards which gives it plenty of momentum to win on Oscar night.

Could Win: Before Midnight: It is the last in a trilogy of films, with the first two being Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. So, that could mean a win since it would be their last opportunity to award that trilogy.

Best Director:

Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
Steve McQueen, 12 Years A Slave
David O. Russell, American Hustle
Alexander Payne, NebraskaMartin Scorsese, Wolf of Wall Street

Should/Will Win: Alfonso Cuaron: Won the Globe, Critics' Choice, and DGA. He deservingly has this race sewn up.

Could Win: Steve McQueen: If there is anybody that Cuaron should watch out for, it is McQueen, and they have the misfortune of going up against each other in the same year because they both did phenomenal jobs in their respective films. Either way, we could see the second year in a row where a non-Caucasian director wins Best Director and the 4th year in a row where a non-American director wins.

Now onto the granddaddy of all the categories.....

Best Picture:

12 Years A Slave
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
Wolf of Wall Street

Should Win: 12 Years A Slave: Hands down, one of the best movies I've seen all year and does for slavery what Schindler's List does for the Holocaust. This is such a powerful film and if you saw it and got teary, so did I. If it won, it would be one of the best films to win Best Picture ever.

Will Win: 12 Years A Slave, Gravity, OR American Hustle: Since the Best Picture race is a three way battle between these three films, it could be any of one these three that wins the grand prize. All great films, without a doubt, and equally deserving. Even though as much as I loved it, I found Hustle to be a tad overhyped, I wouldn't lose sleep over it winning Best Picture, since it's entertaining and has a profound message about how we all live in a world of gray. Since Gravity tied with 12 Years at the PGA, and could potentially win Best Director, it is definitely not a long shot to win Best Picture.

Could Win: Her: If the other three films were to butt heads and fall down, I feel Her would be the film that would step over them and pull off an upset. Not too sure why, but something tells me that if any film will pull an upset, it will be Her. But if it doesn't, then it could still more than likely win Best Original Screenplay. Either way, it looks like I might just be enjoying the ceremony, no matter who wins.

So, those are my picks for who will win, who should win, and who could win in the major categories. Please feel free to write down who you think should or will win in the comments section below. Thanks for reading and until March 2nd, I will continue my Oscar coverage!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Retro Review: Fargo (1996)

                                 'Fargo': A Modern-Day Classic That You Won't 'Forgo'

                     So far, this is the third film that I have seen from the Coen Brothers, with the first two being No Country For Old Men and Barton Fink, but I can honestly say that this is their best film to date and their other films may not top this as this film is just perfect.

                  Fargo is about a down-on-his-luck car salesman named Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy) who arranges for his wife to be kidnapped by two criminals named Carl Showalter and Gaear Grimsrud (Peter Stormare) in order to fix his financial difficulties. Eventually, a police officer named Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand), who is seven months pregnant, begins to head onto Jerry's tail and things go from bad to worse.

                  What I Liked About It:
                 Where do I begin here? First off, I really liked the film's booming opening score. It kind of gives you an idea of what the tone of the film will be, which is very dark and ominous. Whenever I think about this film, the film's score always pops into my head and it makes me love the film more. Another thing that I liked was the film's direction and setting up in the Midwest. A lot of the film shows some of the main characters in an isolated setting surrounded by snow, which symbolizes loneliness and emptiness. But one of the few characters who doesn't appear in those scenes is Marge, who contrasts the characters she is trying to pursue because unlike them she doesn't feel lonely and is satisfied with what she has in her life. Now that I think about it, the film makes you realize how many criminals do feel empty inside and are dissatisfied with their lives, which forces them to a life of crime, and police officers seem to be more appreciative of their own lives. Also, if you've seen the film, you'll notice that there is a significant use of the color red, which represents doom and guilt. Both of those two points are evident in the film. One other thing that I really liked was the film's acting. Frances McDormand really shines as Marge, the slightly quirky cop and not only pulls of the role with slight comedic relief, but with masterful nuance and subtlety. William H. Macy also shines as Jerry, the down on his luck businessman who seems like the most unlikely criminal mastermind as he is a typical everyman and as the film progresses, he gets more nervous. But two other actors I'd like to discuss are Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare, who play the two bumbling criminals, Carl and Gaear. I loved how the two actors contrast with each other with their characters' two different personalities, with Carl being very headstrong but Gaear being much more quiet yet in my opinion much more mysterious and even deadlier.

               What I Didn't Like About It:
              Overall, Fargo is a masterful comedy crime caper that seems that it will stand the test of time. It's not only comedic but it is also very humanistic and shows how criminals can be made out of the most unlikely people. If you haven't seen this, would I highly recommend it? In the words of Marge, "Oh, Ya betcha!"

Rating: 5/5

Monday, February 3, 2014

RIP Philip Seymour Hoffman (1967-2014)

Hello, Bloggers, sorry I haven't blogged in a while, but I just started school and that'll begin to take up my time, just as a heads up. But, for today, I figured I'd talk about Philip Seymour Hoffman, who sadly just passed. It's just he was quite a favorite actor of mine and not only was the news was so shocking, but I personally was quite saddened by his passing. So, as a fan of his, I will offer my own little eulogy to him and to his talents.

Now, Philip Seymour Hoffman was in my all-time favorite movie Almost Famous where he played rock journalist Lester Bangs and even though he had such limited screen time, he really stole the show. Also, he was one of Paul Thomas Anderson's regulars. He starred in Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love, and The Master. The only ones from that list that I've seen were Boogie Nights and The Master, but those two performances were different from one another and that is what made Hoffman so great. But one of his best performances is without a doubt his role in Capote where he plays the titular author Truman Capote. When he was on screen, I did not see Philip Seymour Hoffman, all I saw was the person that he was portraying and to me, that is the hallmark of a great actor. Luckily, I was able to catch his last film to come out in theaters, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and even though he had limited screen time in that film, he still really shined. It just goes to show that no matter how big or small of a part that Philip Seymour Hoffman had, he would always bring in his A-game.

So, I just wanted to offer my little tribute to Philip Seymour Hoffman. Please feel free to write in the comments section what your favorite PSH film or performance is. My condolences go to Hoffman's family and friends and he will be missed. Rest in Peace, Mr. Hoffman, you have truly shown us the true meaning of what an actor's actor really is.