Thursday, December 31, 2015

Top 5 Worst Movies of 2015

Now that I have given my list of the best movies of the year, it is time to take out the puke bucket as I give my list of what I felt were the worst movies of the year. Let's take a look:


5. Crimson Peak: The tagline "Beware of Crimson Peak" is quite on point, but for the wrong reasons. Wow, what a disappointment this was. Especially considering this is from the guy who gave us Pan's Labyrinth. I know Guillermo Del Toro is better than this. So, what the hell was this mess? I mean, it has some good performances and beautiful production designs, but the script was awful. Del Toro, I beg of you, please try harder next time.


4. Minions: If there is one villain that the Minions serve other than Scarlett Overkill, it's Universal Studios who made this piece of crap to begin with. It's literally 90 minutes of the Minions acting stupid and talking gibberish. It has no message for the kids to take home and even if adults were to sip alcohol while watching this film to try and make it enjoyable, it would still feel like torture. Avoid like the plague!


3. Joy: Oh, what a funny title because this movie made me feel anything but joy. Its first act is messy and overwritten, Jennifer Lawrence is miscast in a role meant more for an actress twice her age, and the supporting players surrounding Lawrence are playing absolute caricatures. An absolute mess. Don't waste your money. 


2. The Danish Girl: This year's cinematic equivalent of watching paint dry. While this movie is well-intended, Tom Hooper played it too carefully with his direction and Eddie Redmayne's performance was rather calculated and one-note with him using a similar bag of tricks with almost each scene. Thankfully, the film still has Alicia Vikander as its saving grace. But she's really the film's only saving grace. If you want to watch an LGBT film about the courage to be yourself, watch these: Weekend, Beginners, Blue Is The Warmest Color, Laurence Anyways, Pride, Pariah, and The Way He Looks. Watch those and avoid this.


1. Jupiter Ascending: I find it quite sad that I have picked an original piece of sci-fi on here. But because of just how bad it is, I had to put it on my list. The film is like a sci-fi equivalent of MSNBC with characters talking about land ownership and federations and bla-bla-bla. With its tedious and jumbled storytelling, it's no wonder the actors looked like they were waiting for their checks to clear. One of the few actors who looks like he is trying is Eddie Redmayne, but...that performance is like a blessing and a curse. It's hilariously bad, but at the end of the day, it's still a bad performance. The whole movie is just bad. Avoid like the plague.

So those are what I found to be the worst movies of 2015. Please feel free to share what you felt were the worst movies of the year in the comments section. Thanks for reading!

Dear Oscar...

Dear AMPAS voters,

Now that nomination ballots have opened, I kindly ask that you consider these....

1. Please Say No To Category Fraud: Rooney Mara and Alicia Vikander are getting controversial campaigns for Best Supporting Actress when they are CLEARLY leads just like Jacob Tremblay is getting put in Supporting even though he is in literally every scene. If you check these names off, please put them where they belong.


2. Consider Rose Byrne for Best Supporting Actress: As you guys have known in the past, it's okay to nominate a funny performance, even giving Marisa Tomei the win in this category for My Cousin Vinny. But Rose Byrne gives one of the funniest performances of the year in Spy that is perhaps more difficult than some of the dramatic performances in contention in this category. Like they say, dying is easy, comedy is hard.

3. Nominate Mad Max, The Martian, and Star Wars for Best Picture: While I have a feeling at least one or two of these will get in for Best Picture, there's no rule saying you can't have three sci-fi films in the top category, right? You guys should just go absolutely bonkers.

4. Try To Avoid The Buddy System: I understand that you guys respect names like Steven Spielberg, Helen Mirren, and even Jennifer Lawrence. But look at some names outside the box that haven't been recognized like Ben Mendelsohn for Best Actor in Mississippi Grind, Lenny Abrahamson for Best Director in Room, or Amy Schumer for Best Actress in Trainwreck. 

5. Go For Genre Diversity: Whether it'd be a single Score nomination for It Follows, a Screenplay nod for Trainwreck, a Best Picture nod for Inside Out, or a Supporting Actress nod for Alicia Vikander in Ex Machina, you guys should recognize films of all types.

So to any AMPAS voter that may stumble across this, I sincerely hope you consider these tips as you are filling out your ballots. Thanks for reading!

Top 10 Movies of 2015

Hello, Bloggers. 2015 is over, which means it is time to compile my top 10 films of the year. Although I haven't seen The Hateful Eight, The Revenant, Son of Saul, Anomalisa, or 45 Years yet, that'll likely change soon. Also, this list wasn't easy to make because 2015 has been such a great year for movies. So before I dive right into my top 10, here are some honorable mentions that just missed my top 10:

Carol
Dope
End of the Tour 
It Follows 
Kingsman: The Secret Service 
Love and Mercy 
Spy
Steve Jobs 
Straight Outta Compton 
Trainwreck 

Now let's get into the top 10:


10. Ex Machina: A three-person show that serves as a demonstration of artificial intelligence as well as battle of the sexes but with a Turing test. Ex Machina is one of those gems that shows how less is more as it features only three main actors in a limited setting, yet uses its small scope to ask us the universal question of what it means to be human. Who says good sci-fi needs heavy green screen effects and explosions left to right?


9. The Big Short: Writer/director Adam McKay had a very Herculean task with this film: to get me invested in the subject of economics. Because economics involves a lot of numbers and people engaging in conversations, McKay is able to infuse the subject with both humor and complex characterizations. It may seem odd to inject humor into a film about the recession, but in order to widen your audience, you kind of need to inject some caffeine into it whether it comes in the form of the caffeinated editing or the script's witty dialogue and use of celebrity cameos to explain economics. This was fun to watch yet it also left me thinking about the issue at hand.


8. The Martian: Few films this year left my face smiling as wide as this one did. After Gravity and Interstellar, we have another film about astronauts stranded in space. But what makes this one more enjoyable in tone is its use of meta-dialogue, a 70's soundtrack, and its sympathetic leading performance by Matt Damon. It also touches on the subtle theme of togetherness as it demonstrates people of different races, genders, and even countries coming together to achieve one goal. Ridley Scott, you are back!


7. Sicario: Since this was made by the director of Prisoners, I knew I wasn't going to be left smiling by the time the credits rolled. But I sure as hell saw a masterful film that's for sure. It's got terrific performances by its main cast, tension-filled editing, a haunting score, great cinematography, etc. It's got everything you could ask for in a movie and even if it isn't uplifting, it's still succeeds as a challenging work of art.


6. Spotlight: Perhaps the scariest film I've seen all year, Spotlight will likely do for going to Church what Jaws did for going to the beach. No other film this year had me feeling such anger and disgust towards humanity. To think, that it mostly involves journalists going around asking questions. It manages to be challenging, but it doesn't do so by showing flashbacks of what the victims went through or anything like that, but rather having them explain what they went through and even having a scene where one of the journalists realize that one of the accused pedophile priests lives in his neighborhood. By the time the credits rolled, I couldn't stop quivering in fear.


5. Mad Max: Fury Road: Thanks to the works of director George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road proves that summer blockbusters can be entertaining as well as an aesthetic, cinephilic exercise. Ranging from the beautiful cinematography to the colorful set and costume designs to the editing to even the performances, every detail is put into great focuses. Once you watch this, you'll be in for a lovely day indeed!


4. Star Wars: The Force Awakens: While we have several tentpole franchise films reaching a billion dollars and attempting to break records, you simply can't be THE franchise. I had an absolute blast watching this film, going back to the old characters that I love, like Han Solo, as well as the newer batch of characters we have. I also loved how J.J. Abrams is able to capture that old school magic by using practical effects and real locations and only using CGI when necessary. This is the only film I've seen twice this year, but after walking out of it the second time, I was like "Again!"


3. Inside Out: Inside Out is Pixar's absolute best work in years! I loved how it is only hilarious and has such colorful world building, but it teaches kids a valuable lesson that even resonates with adults as well: It's okay to be sad. You can always try and feel Joy, but take a little piece of Sadness with you everywhere you go.


2. Brooklyn: Brooklyn is such a delight to watch. From its nostalgic, 50's setting to the chemistry between Saoirse Ronan and Emory Cohen to Julie Walters' scene-stealing turn as the main character's landlady, I just couldn't help but succumb to Brooklyn's charms. But it also demonstrates a message that is quite universal and doesn't just resonate with the immigrants portrayed in the film: Home is where the heart is. Whether we move to a new city or go off to college, if we call our new place home, then we might do just fine, even if we get homesick for a while. Its universal message is just another thing that adds to the film's heart.


1. Room: No other film left me as speechless this year as Room did. While a film like this about a mother held captive with her young son might not seem like a good time, there is still something uplifting about it. Even in the first half of the film, where Ma and her son Jack are imprisoned in Room, we see how Ma's love and devotion for her son is what gets her through her torment. But the second half, which is after their escape, the film shows how Ma can rebuild and Jack can discover the wonders of the world. This isn't just the best film. But this is one of the best of the decade.

So that was my own personal top 10 of the year. Please feel free to share your own top 10 in the comments section and here is to hooing that 2016 is an even better year for film. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Oscars 2016: How To Prepare For A Snub

Hello, Bloggers. With the Oscar nomination announcements on the horizon, I figured I'd share some tips on how to handle an impending snub. Even in a good year for film, no matter what happens, there is always going to be snubs. So here are some ways to cope with a snub that might be upsetting or shocking. Here we go:

1. Keep Your Expectations Open: Even when a film or performance seems like a frontrunner to be nominated, they could always throw a curveball. So even when a film seems like a sure thing to be in a certain major category, don't be too sure.

2. If Anyone Should Feel Anger, It's Those That Were Snubbed: While it's normal to be frustrated over seeing your favorite performance get left out of the Final Five, if there is anybody that should be angry and spewing cusses, it's those that have campaigned for the nominations that they didn't get. Those that have done press screening after press screening, glad-handing voters every chance they got, etc., only to end up with nothing.

3. It's Okay To Feel Disappointed: Of course, like I said, it is okay to feel disappointment over not seeing your favorites get in. It's human nature. The Oscars are the most prestigious awards ceremony and when your favorites have a chance to make it to the ceremony only to have it taken away, it's hard not to feel a little let down.

4. Don't Expect All Your Favorites To Get In: While there are plenty of films you would love to see get in, that doesn't mean they will. The Academy is made up of about 6,000 voters that likely have different film tastes. Even if your favorites pop up in places, don't expect all of them to get in across the board. As I said in tip #1, keep your expectations open.

5. Don't Lose Your Love Of The Movie: Remember that even if a film that you love almost makes it in, but misses out, it doesn't and shouldn't take away from how much you love the movie. I was crushed that The Lego Movie missed out for Best Animated Feature. Yet I still watch it whenever it's on TV.

So those are some of my tips on how to handle an impending snub on Nomination Day. I hope you take these tips into account and here's to a great awards season. Thanks for reading!



Top 15 Female Lead Performances Of 2015

Hello, Bloggers, since 2015 has been coming to a close, I figured I'd share my own personal list of who I personally thought gave the best female lead performances of the year. I do have to say, though, it's been a great year for actresses, so compiling this lisr wasn't easy. Anyhow, let's take a look:


15. Naomi Watts as Cornelia in While We’re Young: It's interesting because even though I am not as old as her character, I feel like I can easily connect with her. Cornelia has a younger mentality, refusing to be a parent as well as attending hip-hop classes, and is even a role that allows Watts to showcase her dry comedic timing. Seriously, is there anything this woman can't do?



14. Alicia Vikander as Vera Brittain in Testament of Youth: Here is Alicia Vikander with another three-dimensional performance. This time, she plays WWI nurse Vera Brittain who she plays as someone with an iron fist in a velvet glove. She's a strong-willed independent thinker that seems ready to face the horrors of war yet is still unable to shield herself from it. Much like The Danish Girl, the camera can never get enough of her expressive and luminous face.


13. Kristen Wiig as Alice in Welcome To Me: Kristen Wiig is one of our more interesting actresses working today. After Bridesmaids, she could've easily cashed in on her success, maybe ending up dooming herself to 'Katherine Heigl rom-com' purgatory. But instead she took a road less traveled, seeking out roles as unique as BPD-stricken lottery winner/Oprah wannabe Alice Kreig. In the hands of a less capable actress, Alice could've come off as rather selfish and perhaps a martyr. But Wiig brings much empathy to the role by finding the humor within the tragedy. What unique roles will Wiig amaze us with next?


12. Amy Poehler as Joy in Inside Out: It is very rare to see such a perfect match of voice actor and character. Not only does Amy Poehler capture the joyfulness of Joy down to a T, but the "emotional" journey she goes on as well. She always wants her Riley to be happy, but slowly comes to the realization that Riley will have to be sad eventually. It's a showcase for Poehler's traditional comedic strengths yet is also very nuanced voice work.


11. Juliette Binoche as Maria Enders in Clouds of Sils Maria: I may not exactly be in show business, but Juliette Binoche has beautifully captured what it means to be an older actress in Hollywood, But even as Maria has shades of ego and neurosis, she's still a far cry from Norma Desmond. In fact, Maria is a far cry from Binoche's own grief-stricken Julie in Three Colors: Blue. Before France gave us Cotillard, we had and still have Binoche.


10. Amy Schumer as Amy in Trainwreck: While a lot of us were familiar with Amy Schumer before Trainwreck thanks to her work on her variety TV series, in the summer of 2015, we still watched a star being born on the big screen. While the character of Amy is very crass and crude, she is still quite three-dimensional as she slowly succumbs to the wonders of monogamy. Few performances this year had me burst into laughter while tugging my heartstrings the way Schumer's did.



9. Rebecca Hall as Robyn in The Gift: With her Robyn, Rebecca Hall gives us a suspense heroine that'll likely make Clarice Starling proud. Even if she is someone who is pure and unafraid to see the good in other people, Robyn will still grill her husband to uncover the film's mystery.


8. Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara as Carol & Therese in Carol: I combined the two performances because I feel that one performance is incomplete without the other. Without Carol's hungry gazing at Therese, Therese wouldn't be so caught up in her love spell that progresses. Without Therese's growing obsession, Carol's guilt wouldn't be fueled.


7. Emily Blunt as Kate in Sicario: While Emily Blunt may have dabbled into action fare with Edge of Tomorrow, what makes this performance a complete 180 is that Kate is more of an idealist than the sword-wielding Rita Vitarski and this performance involves a lot more acting from Blunt's deep, expressive eyes. Then again, Blunt just keeps doing 180 after 180, always knocking it out of the park.


6. Daisy Ridley as Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Daisy Ridley is one of the greatest finds of cinema in 2015. Not only does she rise to the occasion in what is her first starring role, but gives a performance packed with gleaming charm, dramatic depth, and action-packed ferocity.


5. Charlize Theron as Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road: Even as the film is titled Mad Max, it is ultimately Charlize's Furiosa who runs away with the picture. Thanks to Theron's portrait of the one-armed heroine that is packed with both layered quiet sensitivity and physical fireworks, Furiosa has made Sarah Connor and Ellen Ripley very proud.


4. Melissa McCarthy as Susan Cooper in Spy: McCarthy's Susan Cooper was a complete game changer. Mainly in terms of how women are perceived in action films as well as comedies. What McCarthy and director Paul Feig have brought to life is a funny action heroine who feels like a simple person, someone who wants to get in on the action to stop feeling so ordinary. We all know Melissa McCarthy can make our sides split with laughter, but who knew she could kick so much butt? Even if we don't get a Spy sequel, I still want to see more of Melissa McCarthy, the action hero.


3. Charlotte Rampling as Kate Mercer in 45 Years: As the loyal wife Kate, Charlotte Rampling does more acting with just her face than most actors can with pages of dialogue. Most of the film consists of her putting on a mask for her husband. Trying to hide her grief and sadness and being unable to share her feelings with her husband of 4 1/2 decades. But that final scene, where she ponders the purpose of her decade-long marriage with just a look. Perfectly captured by this gifted actress.




2. Saoirse Ronan as Eilis Lacey in Brooklyn: Much like Alicia Vikander, here's another name to get ready to learn to pronounce. Even as Saoirse Ronan has proven herself as a capable actress in the past, in films like Hanna and The Grand Budapest Hotel, here, she really comes into her own as a leading lady. As the camera never gets enough of her expressive face, Ronan is able to do more with less by letting her eyes do the talking. Much like the film itself, Ronan's quietly arresting work possesses a rather old school-style charm reminiscent of classic movie stars that would let their own faces do the talking.


1. Brie Larson as Ma in Room: I have always liked Brie Larson as an actress. Ever since her chameleonic turn as Envy Adams in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, I've taken note of her exquisite talent. Thankfully, with the role of Ma, she has finally been given a role where she gets to be a real force of nature and show audiences what she is made of. As Ma, she has to play both the mother role, then eventually the daughter; be unconditionally loving yet self-loathing; make her son believe Room is the world while being aware they can't stay there forever. Even if the story is mostly from the son's point of view, Larson's performance is still just as vital to the film as she has to undergo her own journey as well back while her son is learning to discover it.

So that was my own personal top 15. Please be sure to share your own top 10 or 15 in the comments section. Thanks for reading!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Review: The Big Short (2015)

                                   
                 
              'The Big Short': An Unconventional Yet Rewarding Look At The Economic Crisis
         
      Only the director of films like Anchorman and The Other Guys could get me to be invested in a film about economics. Only Adam McKay could.

        Story:
      The Big Short follows the true story of the 2007-10 economic crisis and a small group of bankers who foresaw the outcome and invested in it.

        Ups:
      I'll start off by discussing the writing by both Charles Randolph and Adam McKay. While the film has typical economical mumbo-jumbo that most viewers might not understand, the script still plays to McKay's traditional comedic strengths. While this isn't as much of a farce as The Other Guys or Anchorman, there is still plenty of humor to be found like how they get cameos from people like Margot Robbie who explains economics while taking a bubble bath and sipping champagne. There are also plenty of complex characterizations to be found. You have characters that try to fight the big banks yet might have to stoop to their level as well as those that profit from other people's losses to provide for their own firm. Randolph and McKay really capture the grayness of the economic world.

     I also loved the rather spontaneous editing by Hank Corwin and how he uses techniques like having the characters break the fourth wall and incorporating snippets of celebrity culture or music videos to capture the tone of each event. For example, when Michael Burry, played by Christian Bale, tries to bet against the housing market and meets with different banks, the song "Money Maker" by Ludacris starts playing and we see snippets of the music video and clips of money pouring and such. Thanks to Corwin's spontaneous editing, the film is able to maintain a similar tone throughout of colorful flare mixed with humanistic drama.

    Next, I'll get into the acting. This is very much an ensemble film where all actors manage to bring their A-game. I loved Christian Bale as the aloof, heavy metal-jamming economist Michael Burry, Ryan Gosling as hotshot investor Jared Vennett, as well as Steve Carell, who I thought was the standout as Mark Baum, a trader who is mad at the world and stubbornly wants to fight the big banks who he feels are greedy. Honestly, I would say he is even better here than in his Oscar-nominated turn in Foxcatcher. 

    Downs:
    NIL.

    Consensus:
    Overall, The Big Short is a masterfully done take on the economic crisis that potently mixes comical tendencies with heartfelt humanistic characterizations. It is enjoyable to watch yet it will also have you engaging in discussions by the time the credits roll.

Grade: A

Review: Joy (2015)

                           

                            'Joy' Made Me Feel Anything But

       Not only do I think that this is the weakest effort from David O. Russell and Jennifer Lawrence, but I think with each passing film they do together, Lawrence's young age becomes more visible with each role.

       Story:
      Joy is inspired by real-life stories of inspiring women and based on the story of Miracle Mop inventor Joy Mangano (Jennifer Lawrence). The film follows Joy across four generations of her life, showing her rough family and marriage life as well as journey to becoming a powerful entrepreneur.

      Ups:
     I thought the film had a neat message towards the end about how when it comes to persevering in this world, the only person that you can first rely on is yourself. While nobody gets through life on their own, if you can't love yourself, then you aren't going to get very far. Unfortunately, that message came too little, too late.

      Downs:
    Despite the film being the weakest effort of DOR and Jennifer Lawrence, is Lawrence still good though? Well, she's okay. She tries to elevate the material she's given, but she's really just going through the motions here. The role plays to her serio-comic quirks, but it still wasn't a big stretch for her. As for the rest of the cast, their roles are not only underwritten, but half their characters are either despicable or air-headed. Not only that, but these actors don't even try to elevate the caricatures they are given. Most of the blame lies on the writing as well as the direction.

    I also felt the tone was very uneven. During the first maybe 20 minutes, it becomes very "O'Russellian" with fast-paced dialogue, quick editing, and loud performances. But then when the directing becomes more restrained, it lost me pretty quickly. There are even these dream sequences that Joy has which, to me, don't really go anywhere. Because the film was originally written by Annie Mumolo before David O. Russell gave it his own treatment, I kind of wish I had seen a version with Mumolo's script because while O. Russell did attempt to add his traditional flare to the script and the film, it simply didn't work.

    Consensus:
    Overall, Joy is the weakest effort from David O. Russell and Jennifer Lawrence that lacks the heart of Silver Linings Playbook and even the vivacity of American Hustle. 

Grade: C-

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Review: Concussion (2015)

                                   
                 
                  'Concussion' Plays Like A Field Goal Rather Than A Touchdown 
                 
     Story:
     Concussion follows the true story of neurologist Dr. Bennett Omalu (Will Smith) who, when performing an autopsy on a deceased football player, has discovered a condition that has caused mental illness on football players. After giving this condition a name, Omalu finds himself going to war against the NFL in order for more people to become aware of this condition.

     Ups:
   I'll start with where the film scores the most points. That is Will Smith's performance. This is a rare performance where it didn't feel like I was watching Will Smith on screen as he really disappears into the role of Bennett Omalu. I would say that this is some of his best work. I also loved Albert Brooks as Omalu's boss Cyril. I thought he stole every scene he was in. Even Alec Baldwin was really good. One thing that I appreciated is how he attempted to give his character, who used to work for the Steelers, a grey area. He knows that the condition is bad, but still wants the game to continue.

     Downs:
   The first down is that even though the film is about the fast-paced football, it has the pacing of a golf game. In other words, it is very slow and in fact, it never knew when it was going to end.

   The second down is that, while Alec Baldwin gives his character a grey area, the film doesn't really do the same for the NFL. In fact, the NFL is almost painted with devil horns and as the villain. Besides Alec Baldwin, there is hardly another character within the NFL that tries to present reasoning for ignoring the concussion problem. As a result of this, when audiences watch the film, they'll realize that this is a problem, but there isn't much of an emotional impact on them.

   The third down is just how underutilized some of the other actors are. Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who plays Omalu's wife, is given absolutely nothing to do than be the steely supportive wife, but that's through no fault of her own. Other actors like Luke Wilson, Eddie Marsan, Stephen Moyer, and Adewale Akkinouye-Agbaje are also very underused.

   Consensus:
  Overall, Concussion is a well-intended yet incredibly flawed showcase for Will Smith. It's a nice "take your vitamins" movie that informs you of the concussion problem. But it's not something you need to rush out and see.

Grade: C
   

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Oscars 2016: Where Are We Now?

Here is my critical tally of where we currently are in the awards race now that the critics circles are announcing their annual winners.

Best Picture:

Spotlight:

Los Angeles Film Critics Association
Boston Society of Film Critics
New York Film Critics Online
Indiana Film Journalists Association
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association
Washington DC Area Film Critics Association
Detroit Film Critics Society
San Francisco Film Critics Circle
Southeastern Film Critics Association
Las Vegas Film Critics Society
Phoenix Film Critics Circle
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association
Nevada Film Critics Society
Vancouver Film Critics Circle

Mad Max: Fury Road:
National Board of Review
Online Film Critics Society
San Diego Film Critics Society
Chicago Film Critics Association
Boston Online Film Critics Association
Kansas City Film Critics Circle
Utah Film Critics Association
Florida Film Critics Circle

Carol:

New York Film Critics Circle
Toronto Film Critics Association

Spotlight- 14
Mad Max- 8
Carol- 2

Best Director:

George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road:

Los Angeles Film Critics Association
Chicago Film Critics Association
Boston Online Film Critics Association
Southeastern Film Critics Association
Indiana Film Journalists Association
San Diego Film Critics Society
Detroit Film Critics Society
Washington DC Area Film Critics Association
Online Film Critics Society
San Francisco Film Critics Circle
Detroit Film Critics Society
Phoenix Film Critics Circle
Kansas City Film Critics Circle
Vancouver Film Critics Circle
Utah Film Critics Association
Florida Film Critics Circle

Todd Haynes, Carol:

New York Film Critics Circle
Boston Society of Film Critics

Thomas McCarthy, Spotlight:

Las Vegas Film Critics Society
New York Film Critics Online

Ridley Scott, The Martian:

National Board of Review

Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu, The Revenant:

Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association

Miller- 16
Haynes-2
McCarthy- 2
Scott- 1
Innaritu- 1

Best Actor:

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant:
Boston Film Critics Society (TIE)
Chicago Film Critics Association
Washington DC Area Film Critics Association
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association
San Diego Film Critics Society
Las Vegas Film Critics Society
Kansas City Film Critics Circle
Nevada Film Critics Society
Utah Film Critics Association

Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs:
Los Angeles Film Critics Association
Online Film Critics Society
Phoenix Film Critics Circle
Vancouver Film Critics Circle

Paul Dano, Love and Mercy:
Boston Society of Film Critics (TIE)
New York Film Critics Online
San Francisco Film Critics Circle
Florida Film Critics Circle

Jacob Tremblay, Room:
Indiana Film Journalists Association

Michael Caine, Youth:
Detroit Film Critics Society

Bryan Cranston, Trumbo:
Southeastern Film Critics Association

Matt Damon, The Martian:
National Board of Review

Michael Keaton, Spotlight:
New York Film Critics Circle

Michael B. Jordan, Creed:
Boston Online Film Critics Association

DiCaprio- 9
Dano-4
Fassbender-4
Tremblay-1
Caine-1
Keaton-1
Damon-1
Cranston-1
Jordan-1

Best Actress:

Brie Larson, Room:
New York Film Critics Online
Chicago Film Critics Association
San Diego Film Critics Society
National Board of Review
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association
Southeastern Film Critics Association
Indiana Film Journalists Association
Las Vegas Film Critics Society
Phoenix Film Critics Circle
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association
Nevada Film Critics Society
Vancouver Film Critics Circle
Utah Film Critics Association
Florida Film Critics Circle

Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn:
New York Film Critics Circle
Washington DC Area Film Critics Association
Boston Online Film Critics Association
San Francisco Film Critics Circle
Detroit Film Critics Society

Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years:
Boston Society of Film Critics
Los Angeles Film Critics Association

Cate Blanchett, Carol:
Online Film Critics Society

Nina Hoss, Phoenix:
Toronto Film Critics Association

Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road 
Kansas City Film Critics Circle

Larson-14
Ronan-5
Rampling-2
Blanchett-1
Hoss-1
Theron- 1

Best Supporting Actor:

Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies:
New York Film Critics Circle
Boston Society of Film Critics
Toronto Film Critics Association
New York Film Critics Online
Vancouver Film Critics Circle

Sylvester Stallone, Creed:
National Board of Review
Southeastern Film Critics Association
Boston Online Film Critics Association
Las Vegas Film Critics Society
Phoenix Film Critics Circle
Utah Film Critics Association

Michael Shannon, 99 Homes:
Los Angeles Film Critics Association
San Francisco Film Critics Circle
Kansas City Film Critics Circle

Oscar Isaac, Ex Machina:
Online Film Critics Society
Florida Film Critics Circle

Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation:
Washington DC Area Film Critics Association

Mark Ruffalo, Bridge of Spies:
Indiana Film Journalists Association

Tom Noonan, Anomalisa:
San Diego Film Critics Society

Liev Schrieber, Spotlight:
Detroit Film Critics Society

Paul Dano, Love and Mercy:
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association

Benicio Del Toro, Sicario:
Chicago Film Critics Association

Tom Hardy, The Revenant:
Nevada Film Critics Society

Stallone-6
Rylance-5
Shannon-3
Isaac-2
Elba-1
Ruffalo-1
Noonan-1
Schreiber-1
Dano-1
Del Toro-1
Hardy- 1

Best Supporting Actress:

Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina:
Los Angeles Film Critics Association
Washington DC Area Film Critics Association
Toronto Film Critics Association
Chicago Film Critics Association
Southeastern Film Critics Association
Phoenix Film Critics Circle
Kansas City Film Critics Circle
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association
Nevada Film Critics Society
Vancouver Film Critics Circle

Kristen Stewart, Clouds of Sils Maria:
New York Film Critics Circle
Boston Online Film Critics Association
Boston Society of Film Critics
Florida Film Critics Circle

Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight:
National Board of Review
San Diego Film Critics Society

Rooney Mara, Carol:
New York Film Critics Online
Online Film Critics Society
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association

Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl:
Detroit Film Critics Society

Greta Gerwig, Mistress America:
Indiana Film Journalists Association

Mya Taylor, Tangerine:
San Francisco Film Critics Circle

Elizabeth Banks, Love and Mercy:
Las Vegas Film Critics Society

Rose Byrne, Spy:
Utah Film Critics Association

Vikander-10
Stewart-4
Mara-3
Leigh-2
Vikander-1
Taylor-1
Gerwig-1
Banks- 1
Byrne- 1

Best Screenplay:

Spotlight:
Chicago Film Critics Association (Original)
Boston Society of Film Critics
Southeastern Film Critics Association (Original)
Indiana Film Journalists Association (Original)
Detroit Film Critics Society
Los Angeles Film Critics Association
New York Film Critics Online
Online Film Critics Society (Original)
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association
Boston Online Film Critics Association
Las Vegas Film Critics Society  (Original)
Phoenix Film Critics Circle
Kansas City Film Critics Circle
Nevada Film Critics Society  (Original)
Florida Film Critics Circle

Room:
Indiana Film Journalists Association (Adapted)
Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (Adapted)
San Diego Film Critics Society (Adapted)
Southeastern Film Critics Association (Adapted)
Nevada Film Critics Society  (Adapted) (TIE)

The Big Short:
Chicago Film Critics Association (Adapted)
Toronto Film Critics Association
Florida Film Critics Circle

Anomalisa:
Vancouver Film Critics Circle

Carol:
New York Film Critics Circle
Online Film Critics Society (Adapted)

Brooklyn:
San Francisco Film Critics Circle (Adapted)

What We Do In The Shadows:
San Diego Film Critics Society (Original)

The Hateful Eight:
National Board of Review (Original)

Love and Mercy:
San Francisco Film Critics Circle (Original)

Inside Out:
Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (Original)
Utah Film Critics Association  (Original)

The Martian:
National Board of Review (Adapted)
Las Vegas Film Critics Society  (Adapted)
Nevada Film Critics Society  (Adapted) (TIE)
Utah Film Critics Association  (Adapted)

Spotlight-15
Room- 5
The Big Short-3
Carol- 2
The Martian- 4
Brooklyn- 1
What We Do In The Shadows- 1
The Hateful Eight- 1
Love and Mercy- 1
Inside Out- 2
Anomalisa- 1

Best Animated Film:

Inside Out:
Boston Online Film Critics Association
New York Film Critics Circle
Boston Society of Film Critics (TIE)
Southeastern Film Critics Association
Chicago Film Critics Association
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association
Washington DC Area Film Critics Association
Online Film Critics Society
National Board of Review
New York Film Critics Online
Las Vegas Film Critics Society
Phoenix Film Critics Circle
Kansas City Film Critics Circle
Nevada Film Critics Society
Utah Film Critics Association
Florida Film Critics Circle

Anomalisa:
Boston Society of Film Critics (TIE)
Los Angeles Film Critics Association
San Diego Film Critics Society
San Francisco Film Critics Circle
Indiana Film Journalists Association

Shaun the Sheep Movie:
Toronto Film Critics Association

Inside Out- 16
Anomalisa- 5
Shaun the Sheep Movie- 1



Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Review: The Danish Girl (2015)

                             
           
                  'The Danish Girl' Is An Artistic Piece of Wasted Opportunity

    Well.....it makes sense that the movie deals with two artists. Mainly because, wow, is this movie like watching paint dry.

     Story:
    The Danish Girl is based on a true story about Einar Wegener  (Eddie Redmayne) who is happily married to his artist wife Gerda (Alicia Vikander). But after doing a favor for Gerda that involves dressing in women's clothes, Einar slowly begins to transition into becoming a woman, thus putting a strain on his marriage.

     Ups:
    First off, I'll delve into the main reason that I watched this. That reason is Alicia Vikander. She does an exemplary job with the material she is given, portraying a character with dimensions that the script doesn't really give her. Even as she slowly accepts her husband's transition, she still shows you her doubts through simple nervous shaking and hardly any dialogue. The fact that she is able to elevate poor material proves how she is destined to become a star in the future.

    I also thought the sets and costumes looked beautiful and the score by Alexandre Desplat was nicely done.

     Downs:
    I'm not quite sure how to explain this, but I want to say that director Tom Hooper handles this film and subject matter with too much sensitivity. There's too much carefulness to not cross any lines so to speak. Let me compare this to another transgendered film, Laurence Anyways by Xavier Dolan. In that film, Dolan not only directs it with such flare, but it is much more challenging with how the protagonist going through the transition undergoes actual hurdles like him getting fired from his teaching job, his mother initially rejecting his transition, etc.

    But here, our protagonist doesn't really undergo any hurdles beyond his wife dealing with his transition into a woman. Even Eddie Redmayne focuses too much on the character's inner struggle, turning Einar/Lili into such a martyr. Redmayne uses the same kind of tics throughout: crying, mugging, facing down, talking in a low voice, and cavorting his face, and that makes his work come off as calculated. For me, that's my main problem with Eddie Redmayne as an actor. He focuses on and gets the techniques of the character right, but doesn't delve deep into the soul of the character.

    While Redmayne makes muddled use of his main character, Matthias Schonaerts, who plays a German banker and old friend of Einar's, is WASTED! He does nothing but just stand around as a supportive friend. This guy gave a powerhouse performance in Rust and Bone yet this is the best Hollywood has to offer him. For freaking shame!

    Lastly, and this is where I'll spare the film any more pain, the film has the pacing of a tortoise race. It honestly pains me to wish a film like this to be over because of what it deals with, but this film could've been soo much better than it was.

     Consensus:
   Overall, The Danish Girl is yet another muddled Oscar bait movie that is played with too much sensitivity and not enough soul. It does show why Alicia Vikander is on our way to being one of the best in the biz, but the overall product is simply nothing but wasted potential. Of course, I'm not trying to discredit Lili Elbe's life and accomplishments. I just believe that in better hands, the film itself could in fact be one that fits our time today.

Grade: D+

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Review: Spotlight (2015)

                                 
             
              'Spotlight' Is Packed With Thrills And Tension In A Rather Unexpected Place

        At the very end, where they reveal a long syndicate of where sexually abusive priests have gone into hiding, I said to myself "I'm going to throw up" and yet there is hardly any gore in it. That is quite telling of how much disgust it'll leave viewers after watching it.

         Story:
       Spotlight is based on a true story about a group of Boston Globe journalists that dig deep into a series of sexual abuse cases involving Catholic priests in Massachusetts and try to take down the Boston Archdiocese.

         Ups:
        I'll start off with the acting because this film is very much an ensemble piece. All the actors do their part, ranging from Michael Keaton to Billy Crudup to Liev Schrieber. But a few people that I thought stood out were Rachel McAdams who imbues both sensitivity and grit into the role of Sacha Pfeiffer and Stanley Tucci who slowly reveals layers of anxiety as a lawyer caught in the middle of the case. Even if I thought Mark Ruffalo's work was a little uneven, it is still a complete 180 from some of his previous work as he plays someone rather hard-nosed and less of an everyman that he has perfected before.

       Next, I'll get into the writing by Thomas McCarthy and Josh Singer. This is not only a perfect actor's movie, but it is also how to write a screenplay as well. From the minute the main journalists are given the assignment to cover the Catholic Church, the plot is immediately set in motion. I also loved how we see the side of the abuse victims and how some of the interactions between the journalists and the victims are different from one another. They give their backstory and reasoning for trying to form a bond with the priests in gruesome detail, but in different ways whether they show calmness or aggression. I also appreciated how the main characters aren't portrayed as saints or noble for what they are trying to accomplish. They all felt like real people, nervously jotting down notes and even making threats just to get to the bottom of things.

      When the main plot is immediately set in motion, how the film is able to become packed with suspense and tension, even as the film mainly involves people sitting in desks and engaging in meetings, is a testament to the masterful editing by Tom McArdle. Writer/director Thomas McCarthy also makes sure the tension is presented through techniques such as long tracking shots on the actors as they continue speaking.

      Downs:
     One minor complaint I have is that towards the end, I wasn't sure when exactly is was going to end. So it had a few more endings than needed, but I still loved the way it finally ended.

      Consensus:
     Overall, Spotlight is a masterful yet incredibly haunting look at the Catholic Church that will do for going to Church what Jaws did for going to the beach. Even if it isn't categorized as a traditional horror film, it is still one of the more frightening films I've seen this year.

Grade: A

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Indie Review: Carol (2015)

                                       
                 
              'Carol' Is Both A Haunting Yet Emotionally Rewarding Experience

        Whenever I see or watch a film with Cate Blanchett these days, I now feel it is like a coronation and I must bow since she is such acting royalty.

         Story:
        Carol follows the story of a department store clerk named Therese (Rooney Mara) who finds her life changed upon a chance meeting with Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett). Once they meet, they slowly begin to succumb to the temptation, and toxicity, of love.

         Ups:
       I'll start off with the two main performances. What can I say about Cate Blanchett that many haven't already? She is one of our top actresses working today and here she delivers another three-dimensional turn much like her Oscar-winning performance in Blue Jasmine. What makes this performance much different is that while her Jasmine Francis is like a volcano constantly erupting, her Carol is like a silent predator. The way she observes and seduces Therese is like a praying mantis slowly trapping its food. For example, in an early dinner scene, the way Carol plays with her hair and holds up her cigarette and Therese becomes intoxicated by her perfume is Carol's way of luring her bait into her trap. Yet I also loved how Blanchett doesn't try to redeem Carol. Carol is a complicated woman yet is still just a human trying to satisfy her needs without any apologies for it.

 Now onto Rooney Mara. Wow, what a 180 from her Lisbeth Salander in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. She brilliantly portrays a conflicted, young woman who says "yes" to everything and says she knows what she wants in life, yet is lying to herself. You'll want to help Therese and see her find happiness yet at the same time, you'll felt like you were her.

     Both director Todd Haynes and writer Phyllis Nagy have captured not only how intoxicating love can be, but also how obsessive it can be. They've managed to do so through the character of Therese and how just by glancing at Carol and having a few interactions, she already feels that she may have found someone special. Whether you have fallen for a man or a woman, you can sense that feeling. That feeling of finding the one whether you think that person is attractive or has a nice personality. It doesn't matter. I applaud both Haynes and Nagy for showing that love isn't all flowers and chocolates. Love is beautiful but it also has consequences.

      I also want to give a major shoutout to the cinematographer Edward Lachman. Because of how he uses mostly a light greenish color palate, to me, it serves as a brilliant contrast to the almost toxic relationship of the two main characters. It's much like how the gleaming cinematography in Stranger By The Lake serves as a contrast to the darkness hidden behind the sunny, Eden-like paradise. The colorful work that Lachman does is much more subtle than his cinematography in Far From Heaven, yet is just as unique. I also loved the mesmerizing score by Carter Burwell and even the distinctive costume design by Sandy Powell.

      Downs:
     NIL.

      Consensus:
     Overall, Carol is a haunting yet luminous portrayal of how love is both heartbreaking and seductive thanks to the efforts of the directing and writing as well as the emotionally raw performances by the two lead actresses that are sure to continue to mount awards attention.

Grade: A+

Friday, December 18, 2015

Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

                                         
                 
                            The 'Force' Is Strong With This One

        No intro, no story, just cutting right to the chase. (Also, spoiler-free)

          Ups:
      As always, I will start off with the acting. I'll start off with two of the original players. Harrison Ford brings his A-game as Han Solo. Even if there is a Han Solo prequel on the horizon, Harrison Ford will always be Han Solo and much like how Sylvester Stallone brought new dimensions to the role of Rocky in Creed, Ford brings new dimensions to Han Solo as originally, he was a cocky pilot with a heart of gold that was skeptical of the Jedi Force yet here, he showcases his traditional humor but has developed a new perspective on the Force. Carrie Fisher has a smaller role as Princess Leia and also takes the character into new avenues as she gives a slight glimmer of the character's spunk yet still feels more heavy dramatic weight on her shoulders. Now onto Luke Skywalker. Well.....watch the movie.

     Next, I'll delve into the new band of actors. First, Daisy Ridley as Rey. What a find this girl was! She steals the movie as she brings ferocity, humor, depth, and charm to the role and manages to hold her own against her veteran co-stars. I look forward to what the future holds for this young discovery. After seeing Attack The Block, I knew John Boyega was going to become a star and this film might very well do that for him as he brings humor and excitement mixed with deep dramatic pathos as former Stormtrooper Finn. I also loved Oscar Isaac as pilot Poe Dameron. He too brought a lot of charisma to the role, playing a young Han Solo without replicating Ford's portrayal. Adam Driver plays the new baddie Kylo Ren and I really liked his performance as well. Instead of playing a carbon copy Darth Vader, Driver gives us a villain that is not only a menacing threat, but also much more manipulative. Even though it's not human, I also thought BB-8, the new droid, was a delightful character.

      Another thing I liked was how director JJ Abrams was able to capture the old school magic of the franchise yet translate it into a modern-day canvas. While some plot lines or devices may be similar to the original 1977 film (droid carrying plans, main character lives on a deserted planet, etc.), it still doesn't feel like a carbon copy which is what I feared it would be. It does have the original cast, but they are mainly passing the torch to the new band of characters or the new generation. Honestly, if they had just made a cameo appearance, it would've felt like a cheap nod to the fans. So I'm glad that they had larger roles. Plus, by reintroducing familiar plotlines without it feeling like a total replication, that is how they are able to capture that old school magic.

      I also loved how Abrams used actual locations for the space setting. By shooting the desert planet scenes in an actual desert and such, it helps maintain a sense of realism in the midst of its fantasy setting. Plus, when the film begins, the action and plot is immediately set in motion yet just keeps going and I really loved that. That is not only a testament to the writing and Abrams' direction, but the editing as well. John Williams is back as a composer and I thought he once again delivered. All the craftsmanship on this film was done successfully. Even the CGI as I was able to figure out which creatures were practical and which were CG.

     Downs:
     NIL.

     Consensus:
    Overall, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a successful sequel that ranks up amongst the first two original films. It captures the familar old-school magic while also being perfectly translated into a modern day canvas thanks to its charismatic star turns by the new cast and the direction by J.J. Abrams. It was well worth the wait.

Grade: A+
   

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Oscars 2016: Chicago Film Critics Association Winners

The Chicago Film Critics Association has just announced their list of winners.

Best Picture: Mad Max: Fury Road 

Best Director: George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road 

Best Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant 

Best Actress: Brie Larson, Room 

Best Supporting Actor: Benicio Del Toro, Sicario 

Best Supporting Actress: Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina 

Best Original Screenplay: Thomas McCarthy and Josh Singer, Spotlight 

Best Adapted Screenplay: Charles Randolph and Adam McKay, The Big Short 

Best Cinematography: Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Original Score: The Hateful Eight 

Best Production Design: Mad Max: Fury Road 

Best Foreign Language Film: Son of Saul 

Best Documentary: Amy 

Best Animated Feature Film: Inside Out 

Most Promising Performer: Jacob Tremblay, Room 

Most Promising Filmmaker: Alex Garland, Ex Machina 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Oscars 2016: Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards Nominations

The Kansas City Film Critics Circle has announced their annual list of nominees.

Best Picture:
Mad Max: Fury Road 
The Revenant
Room 
Sicario 
Spotlight 

Robert Altman Award for Best Director:
Alex Garland, Ex Machina 
Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu, The Revenant 
Thomas McCarthy, Spotlight 
George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road 
Denis Villeneuve, Sicario 

Best Actor:
Steve Carell, The Big Short 
Bryan Cranston, Trumbo 
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant 
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs 
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl 

Best Actress:
Cate Blanchett, Carol 
Emily Blunt, Sicario 
Bel Powley, Diary of a Teenage Girl 
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn 
Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road 

Best Supporting Actor:
Benicio Del Toro, Sicario 
Tom Hardy, The Revenant 
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies 
Michael Shannon, 99 Homes 
Sylvester Stallone, Creed 

Best Supporting Actress:
Elizabeth Banks, Love and Mercy 
Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight 
Rooney Mara, Carol 
Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina 
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs 

Best Original Screenplay:
Ex Machina 
The Hateful Eight 
Inside Out
Sicario 
Spotlight 
Trainwreck 

Best Adapted Screenplay:
The Big Short
Carol 
The Martian 
Room 
Steve Jobs 

Best Animated Feature:
Anomalisa 
Inside Out 
Minions
The Peanuts Movie 
Shaun the Sheep Movie 

Best Foreign Language Film:
The Assassin
Goodnight Mommy 
Phoenix 
Son of Saul 
The Tribe
White God 

Best Documentary:
Amy 
Best of Enemies 
The Look of Silence 
Where To Invade Next 
The Wrecking Crew 

Vince Koehler Award for Best Science Fiction, Fantasy, or Horror Film:
Ex Machina 
Goodnight Mommy 
It Follows 
Mad Max: Fury Road 
The Martian 

Oscars 2016: Austin Film Critics Association Awards Nominations

The Austin Film Critics Association has announced their annual list of nominees.

Best Picture:
Anomalisa
Carol
Mad Max: Fury Road 
Spotlight 
Trumbo 

Best Director:
Todd Haynes, Carol 
Thomas McCarthy, Spotlight 
Adam McKay, The Big Short 
George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road 
Quentin Tarantino, The Hateful Eight 

Best Actor:
Bryan Cranston, Trumbo 
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant 
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs 
Michael B. Jordan, Creed 
Jacob Tremblay, Room 

Best Actress:
Cate Blanchett, Carol 
Brie Larson, Room 
Rooney Mara, Carol 
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn 
Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road 

Best Supporting Actor:
Benicio Del Toro, Sicario 
Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation 
Oscar Isaac, Ex Machina 
Michael Shannon, 99 Homes 
Sylvester Stallone, Creed 

Best Supporting Actress:
Elizabeth Banks, Love and Mercy 
Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight 
Kristen Stewart, Clouds of Sils Maria 
Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina 
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs 

Best Original Screenplay:
Ex Machina 
The Hateful Eight 
Inside Out 
Sicario 
Spotlight

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Anomalisa 
The Big Short 
Carol
Room 
Steve Jobs 

Best Cinematography:
Carol 
The Hateful Eight
Mad Max: Fury Road 
The Revenant 
Sicario 

Best Original Score:
Carol
The Hateful Eight 
Inside Out 
It Follows 
Mad Max: Fury Road 

Best Foreign Language Film:
Mustang 
Phoenix 
Son of Saul 
The Tribe 
Victoria 

Best Documentary:
Amy 
Best of Enemies 
Cartel Land
The Look of Silence 
Where To Invade Next 

Best Animated Film:
Anomalisa 
The Good Dinosaur 
Inside Out 
The Peanuts Movie 
Shaun the Sheep Movie 

Best First Film:
Bone Tomahawk
Diary of a Teenage Girl 
Ex Machina
Mustang 
Son of Saul 

The Robert R. "Bobby" McCurdy Memorial Breakthrough Award:
Abraham Attah, Beasts of No Nation 
Amy Schumer, Trainwreck 
Mya Taylor, Tangerine 
Jacob Tremblay, Room 
Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina 

Best Austin Film:
Arlo and Julie 
A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story
Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter
Peace Officer
Two Step


Oscars 2016: St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association Awards Nominations

The St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association has announced their annual list of nominees.

Best Picture:
Inside Out 
Mad Max: Fury Road 
The Martian 
The Revenant 
Room
Spotlight 

Best Director:
Todd Haynes, Carol 
Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu, The Revenant 
Thomas McCarthy, Spotlight 
George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road 
Ridley Scott, The Martian 

Best Actor:
Abraham Attah, Beasts of No Nation 
Matt Damon, The Martian 
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant 
Ian McKellen, Mr. Holmes 
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl 

Best Actress:
Cate Blanchett, Carol 
Brie Larson, Room 
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn 
Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road 
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl 

Best Supporting Actor:
Paul Dano, Love and Mercy 
Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation 
Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight 
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies 
Sylvester Stallone, Creed 

Best Supporting Actress:
Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight 
Rooney Mara, Carol 
Kristen Stewart, Clouds of Sils Maria 
Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina 
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs 

Best Original Screenplay:
Clouds of Sils Maria 
Ex Machina
The Hateful Eight 
Inside Out 
Spotlight 

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Brooklyn 
Creed
The Martian 
Room 
Steve Jobs 

Best Editing:
The Big Short 
Mad Max: Fury Road 
The Martian 
The Revenant 
Spotlight 

Best Cinematography:
Beasts of No Nation 
Carol 
The Hateful Eight
Mad Max: Fury Road 
The Revenant 

Best Art Direction:
Brooklyn
Carol 
Cinderella 
The Danish Girl 
Mad Max: Fury Road 

Best Visual Effects:
Ex Machina 
Mad Max: Fury Road 
The Martian 
The Revenant 
The Walk

Best Score:
Carol
The Hateful Eight 
Inside Out 
It Follows 
Mad Max: Fury Road 

Best Soundtrack:
Amy
Dope
Love and Mercy 
The Martian 
Straight Outta Compton 

Best Song:
"See You Again" from Furious 7 
"Til It Happens To You" from The Hunting Ground 
"Feels Like Summer" from Shaun the Sheep Movie 
"Writings on the Wall" from Spectre 
"Simple Song #3" from Youth 

Best Animated Film:
Anomalisa 
The Good Dinosaur
Inside Out
The Peanuts Movie 
Shaun the Sheep Movie 

Best Comedy Film:
Inside Out 
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl 
Spy
Trainwreck 
What We Do In The Shadows 

Best Documentary Film:
Amy
Best of Enemies 
Cartel Land 
The Hunting Ground 
The Look of Silence 

Best Foreign Language Film:
The Assassin 
Goodnight Mommy 
Phoenix 
Son of Saul 
Wild Tales

Best Scene:
Creed- Adonis' first pro fight
Furious 7- Farewell, Paul Walker
The Revenant- Hugh is mauled by a grizzly
Room- Jack escapes from Room
The Walk- The walk between the Twin Towers


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Oscars 2016: Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards Nominations

Here are the Phoenix Film Critics Society nominations. Winners will be announced on December 22nd.

Best Picture:
The Big Short 
Bridge of Spies 
Brooklyn 
The Danish Girl 
Inside Out 
Mad Max: Fury Road 
The Martian 
The Revenant 
Room
Spotlight 

Best Director:
Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu, The Revenant 
Thomas McCarthy, Spotlight 
Adam McKay, The Big Short 
George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road 
Ridley Scott, The Martian 

Best Actor:
Bryan Cranston, Trumbo 
Matt Damon, The Martian 
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant 
Johnny Depp, Black Mass 
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl 

Best Actress:
Cate Blanchett, Carol 
Brie Larson, Room 
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy 
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn 
Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road 

Best Supporting Actor:
Paul Dano, Love and Mercy 
Tom Hardy, The Revenant 
Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight 
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies 
Sylvester Stallone, Creed 

Best Supporting Actress:
Rachel McAdams, Spotlight 
Helen Mirren, Trumbo 
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl 
Julie Walters, Brooklyn 
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs 

Best Ensemble Acting:
The Big Short 
The Hateful Eight 
Spotlight 
Trumbo
The Walk

Best Original Screenplay:
Bridge of Spies 
Ex Machina 
Inside Out 
Spotlight 

Best Adapted Screenplay:
The Big Short 
Brooklyn
The Martian 
Room

The Overlooked Film Of The Year:
Ex Machina 
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl 
Z for Zachariah 

Best Animated Film:
Inside Out 
The Peanuts Movie 
Shaun the Sheep Movie 

Best Foreign Language Film:
The Assassin 
Mustang 
Son of Saul 

Best Documentary:
Amy
He Named Me Malala 
Where To Invade Next 

Best Original Song:
"See You Again" from Furious 7 
"One Kind of Love" from Love and Mercy 
"Writings on the Wall" from Spectre 

Best Original Score:
Bridge of Spies 
The Hateful Eight 
The Revenant
Spotlight 

Best Cinematography:
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian 
The Revenant 

Best Film Editing:
Mad Max: Fury Road 
The Martian 
Spotlight 

Best Production Design:
Brooklyn 
The Danish Girl 
Mad Max: Fury Road 

Best Costume Design:
Cinderella 
The Danish Girl 
Mad Max: Fury Road 

Best Visual Effects:
Jurassic World 
Mad Max: Fury Road 
The Martian 

Best Breakthrough Performance:
Abraham Attah, Beasts of No Nation 
Jacob Tremblay, Room 
Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina 

Best Performance By A Youth:
Abraham Attah, Beasts of No Nation 
Ed Oxenbould, The Visit
Jacob Tremblay, Room 

Review: Brooklyn (2015)

                                 
                 
                       'Brooklyn' Is A Delightful Period Drama
         
      In multiplication, when you multiply two negatives, you create a positive. That kind of applies here because while I have never got into romances or period pieces, having now seen a romantic period piece, I found one that is not only a positive one, but one I myself am in absolute love with!

       Story:
    Brooklyn follows the story of an Irish immigrant named Ellis (Saoirse Ronan) who moves to New York City away from her family to build a better life for herself. At first, she deals with homesickness, only for it to vanish when she meets an Italian plumber named Tony (Emory Cohen). However, when something tragic happens and Ellis must return home, she must then decide where she feels her true home is.

      Ups:
   I'll start right off with the film's main anchor that drives it and that is Saoirse Ronan's performance. She carries the film in a very natural and unaffected manner even as the camera never moves away from her expressive face. She captures such delight, confliction, loneliness, ferocity, and romance all through her glowing eyes. While the film may be Ronan's show, she also has a great cast supporting her with a few standouts. One is Emory Cohen as Eilis' love interest Tony who may lack in smarts and riches yet makes up for that with his humongous heart of gold. He and Ronan have such rich chemistry and Cohen possesses such charm, that even the audience will fall in love with him. I also loved Julie Walters as Eilis' landlady Mrs. Kehoe. Almost everything that she says is a riot and even though she has only a handful of scenes, Walters really makes the most of it.

    While the film packs a lot of heart thanks to the performances from the cast, the film is also a technical master class. The cinematography om this film by Yves Balenger is absolutely beautiful and very luminous. I also loved the costume design by Odile Dicks-Mereaux and how she gives Eilis specifically colored clothes at certain points in the film. For example, when Eilis is heading to New York, she is wearing green as a way to take a piece of her home country with her when she heads to a new one.

    Next, I'll get into the terrific screenplay by Nick Hornby. One thing that I loved was how Hornby doesn't resort to exposition to present the internal conflict or arc of the main character. For example, when he demonstrates Eilis' homesickness, he uses details like the scenes of her crying as she reads her letters from her sister and a scene where she and her fellow ladies from her boarding house are serving food to Irish men around Christmas time and one of them breaks out into an Irish song and Eilis bursts into tears. Also, the film gives off the message that home is where the heart is and even though that message is said by one of the characters, it isn't constantly fed to the audience. Lastly, I want to give a shoutout to both the director, John Crowley, who directed all these crafts with precision.

     Downs:
    NIL.
   
     Consensus:
    Overall, Brooklyn is an absolute delight of a picture that is packed with heart and is a masterful demonstration of precision filmmaking. It has got a little something for everyone: laughs, tears, romance, craftsmanship, and even nostalgia thanks to its classic 1950's setting.

Grade: A+

Oscars 2016: Southeastern Film Critics Association Awards Winners

The Southeastern Film Critics Association has announced their annual list of winners.

Top 10 Movies:
1. Spotlight 
2. Mad Max: Fury Road 
3. Room
4. Brooklyn 
5. Carol
6. The Big Short 
7. The Martian 
8. Inside Out 
9. Bridge of Spies 
10. Trumbo

Best Actor: Bryan Cranston, Trumbo 
(runner-up) Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs 

Best Actress: Brie Larson, Room 
(runner-up) Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn 

Best Supporting Actor: Sylvester Stallone, Creed 
(runner-up) Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies 

Best Supporting Actress: Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina 
(runner-up) Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs 

Best Ensemble: Spotlight 
(runner-up) The Big Short 

Best Director: George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road 
(runner-up) Thomas McCarthy, Spotlight 

Best Original Screenplay: Thomas McCarthy and Josh Singer, Spotlight 
(runner-up) Bob Petersen and Pete Docter, Inside Out 

Best Adapted Screenplay: Emma Donoghue, Room 
(runner-up) Charles Randolph and Adam McKay, The Big Short 

Best Documentary: Amy 
(runner-up) Best of Enemies 

Best Foreign Language Film: Son of Saul 
(runner-up) The Assassin 

Best Animated Film: Inside Out 
(runner-up) Anomalisa 

Best Cinematography: John Seale, Mad Max: Fury Road 
(runner-up) Luca Bagazzi, Youth

The Gene Wilder Award for the Film That Best Evokes the Spirit of the South: Finders Keepers