Thursday, March 31, 2016

2014 Film Guy Awards Updates

So I've made quite a bit of changes to my 2014 Film Guy Awards ballot. As you can see, it is much more of a Starred Up love fest with it not only winning Best Supporting Actor for Ben Mendelsohn, but another nomination in the same category for Rupert Friend as well as wins for Best Actor for Jack O'Connell and Best Director for David Mackenzie. I also have The Lego Movie as my Best Picture winner along with Best Original Screenplay. Everything is awesome!

Best Picture:
Gone Girl 
Guardians of the Galaxy 
The Lego Movie*
Starred Up 

Best Director:
Damien Chazelle, Whiplash
David Fincher, Gone Girl 
Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu, Birdman 
Jennifer Kent, The Babadook 
David Mackenzie, Starred Up*

Best Actor:
Brendan Gleeson, Calvary
Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler 
Tom Hardy, Locke
Michael Keaton, Birdman 
Jack O'Connell, Starred Up*

Best Actress:
Emily Blunt, Edge of Tomorrow 
Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night 
Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Belle 
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl*
Jenny Slate, Obvious Child

Best Supporting Actor:
Rupert Friend, Starred Up 
Toby Kebbell, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 
Ben Mendelsohn, Starred Up*
Edward Norton, Birdman 
Christoph Paou, Stranger By The Lake 

Best Original Screenplay:
Grand Budapest Hotel 
The Lego Movie*
Starred Up

Full lineup here.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Topic Of The Day: Why Suicide Squad May Fare Better Than Batman v. Superman


So as the big numbers of Batman v. Superman start to roll in, the film was still considered a failure, critically and even with certain audiences. According to Variety, it even made $4 million less than its projected $170 million debut.

But DC Films has another chance to prove themselves with the upcoming Suicide Squad movie. I personally think that may fare better with audiences and even with critics and I will explain why.

While the superhero genre has been quite oversaturated these days, Suicide Squad looks to offer something different from the usual mold of good vs. evil since it depicts villains as its main heroes. Guardians of the Galaxy was a success because it wasn't just a good movie, but possibly because it wasn't a typical superhero movie. It was a space opera with characters that are rather anti-heroes fighting off evil. So it was a slight breath of fresh air amongst superhero movies that don't aim to go beyond being just superhero movies.

Another reason I think it will do well is because of its diverse main cast. We do have the typical white men represented but there are certainly other groups represented. You have: African-American talent with Will Smith, Viola Davis, and Adewale Akkinuoye-Agbaje, Latino talent with Jay Hernandez, Japanese actress Karen Fukuhara, Adam Beach who is Native Canadian, and more women with Margot Robbie and Cara Delevingne rounding out the cast. In fact, two of the Caucasian males in the main cast, Joel Kinnaman and Jai Courtney, are interestingly from other countries with Kinnaman being from Sweden and Courtney from Australia. So there is a little something for everyone: Men and women, people of different minority groups, and even the LGBT community since Cara Delevingne is openly bisexual.

Another reason why I think Suicide Squad will fare better is because it looks like it'll be concerned with being just a great film. While Batman v. Superman had a bit too much set-up for the upcoming Justice League, Suicide Squad looks to be its own entity. Deadpool, which recently came out, did so well because that wasn't acting as a prequel to anything. The only thing it's a prequel to is the upcoming Deadpool sequel.

So those are my reasons as to why I think Suicide Squad will have better survival, critically and financially, than Batman v. Superman. Whether you agree or disagree, please feel free to write your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Cannes 2016 Preview

The 2016 Cannes Film Festival is coming its way in May. So, I figured I'd give a quick preview as to what may make its way into the main competition. Let's take a look:

Now, the beauty of the Cannes Film Festival is that it compiles of artistic visions from around the world and not just France. But first, I will delve into which films from here in America may make their way to the Cannes lineup.

Money Monster, directed by Jodie Foster and starring George Clooney, Julia Roberts, and Jack O'Connell, might premiere along with the children's fantasy The BFG by Steven Spielberg and Cannes regular Woody Allen's latest Cafe Society starring Kristen Stewart. Sean Penn is also a regular at Cannes. So we could see his latest directorial effort The Last Face starring Charlize Theron make its premiere. Jeff Nichols, who just came out with Midnight Special, has a bit of a history with Cannes, having Mud in the main competition for the Palme D'Or back in 2012. So I wouldn't be surprising to see his upcoming Loving compete there.

Speaking of Kristen Stewart, she might also have the film Personal Shopper from her Clouds of Sils Maria director Olivier Assayas from France. Other films that feature French talent that could make their way to Cannes include Elle starring Isabelle Huppert, From The Land Of The Moon starring Marion Cotillard, Staying Vertical by Stranger By The Lake's Alain Guiraudie, and Eternity starring Berenice Bejo, Audrey Tautou, and Melanie Laurent. With Eternity having those three French staples, how could they pass that one up?! The Dardenne Brothers, who did Two Days, One Night, are another Cannes staple and their upcoming The Unknown Girl could enter the competition.

Now onto talents from other parts of the world that could make their way in. Previous Best Director winner for Drive, Nicolas Winding Refn will release his upcoming horror effort Neon Demon starring Elle Fanning. Xavier Dolan, who was on last year's main jury, has It's Only The End Of The World starring Marion Cotillard, Lea Seydoux, and Vincent Cassel.

But how about someone who hasn't even won the Palme D'Or? Spanish director Pedro Almodovar has collected Oscar hardware: Best Foreign Language Film for All About My Mother and Best Original Screenplay for Talk To Her. But never a Palme D'Or. That could change with his upcoming Julieta. Fellow Hispanic director Pablo Larrain from Chile could also premiere his upcoming Neruda starring Gael Garcia Bernal which depicts an investigation on real-life fugitive poet Pablo Neruda.

While Jodie Foster will likely screen Money Monster at Cannes, how might things look for other women directors? First, there is Fish Tank director Andrea Arnold's U.S. debut American Honey starring Shia LaBeouf and Riley Keough along with Planetarium starring Natalie Portman and directed by Rebecca Zlotowski. Also, From The Land Of The Moon is directed by a woman, Nicole Garcia.

For more Cannes coverage on these films and more, please be sure to click on the link down below:

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Topic Of The Day: Why I Want To See An A-Force Movie

Hello, Bloggers, welcome to another episode of Topic Of The Day. As Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice makes its way into theaters, I will delve right into the world of Marvel. Not too long ago, Marvel came out with a comic series called A-Force which depicts all of its female superheroes on one big team. I personally would love to see them make an A-Force movie and I will explain why.

Now before I go any further, some of you may wonder why we should have a girl's only team when there are some in the on-screen Avengers like Black Widow and Scarlet Witch. Well, because that team is so male-dominated, it is practically a boy's team to begin with. Not only that, but Black Widow even points out how she is the main female on the team with lines like "Am I always picking up after you boys?"

But I think if there was a team with no male superheroes sticking out like almost a sore thumb, then they might not have that kind of problem. Also, some of the female superheroes in the MCU like Lady Sif in the Thor movies tend to be pretty sidelined. So if heroes like her were put on a team, they could get more face time.

Who could be on the team, though? Well first off is Captain Marvel who has yet to be cast. Also, Scarlet Witch. I would say Black Widow. But because of how Black Widow has been on the cusp of getting her own movie, I doubt Scarlett Johansson will want to be a part of yet another ensemble. Next is Gamora from Guardians of the Galaxy. She's a pretty formidable character and because Zoe Saldana plays her, she would bring some ethnic diversity. To bring even more diversity, I would suggest bringing in Black Panther's sister Shuri and have Lupita Nyong'o play her. Disney already has Nyong'o in house with Star Wars. So they could easily consider her. Next is the Wasp along with Lady Sif. Maybe She-Hulk if they decide to introduce her to the MCU. Don't know who would play her, though. Perhaps Lauren Cohan from The Walking Dead. I've only seen her in The Boy which she successfully carried with charisma. So she could bring a much-neede spark to the team. Lastly, they could segway Elektra from the Daredevil television series and even Jessica Jones from Jessica Jones. Either Elektra or Jessica Jones would bring in more diversity since Elodie Yung, who plays Elektra, is of Asian descent and the character of Jessica Jones is said to have bisexual tendencies. So she could represent the LGBT community and they could make an A-Force movie where everyone wants to go.

As someone who has become all about diversity in film, I think it would be nice to see an all-female superhero team. For the most part, on-screen superhero teams tend to be mostly boys clubs. But an all-girls team would be a sign of progress.

However, they would have to include male characters to make the film not seem ultra-feminist. Samuel L. Jackson could appear to run the team as Nick Fury and Iron Man could not only make a cameo appearance, but we could also get ones from Ant-Man, Daredevil, or even Luke Cage.

But what do you guys think? Do you agree they should make an A-Force movie or should they have more girls on the regular Avengers team? Please feel free to write your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks for reading!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Review: Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

         'Batman v. Superman' Offers Popcorn Action Mixed With Surprising Humanistic Themes

     Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice continues the story of Superman (Henry Cavill) as he finds himself going toe to toe with the Caped Crusader, Batman (Ben Affleck). But a much bigger enemy comes in the form of Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) who has bigger and more diabolical plans for the dueling heroes.

      One thing that I really liked was the opening when we get the climax at the end of Man of Steel but from Bruce Wayne's point of view. It was smart of them to introduce the film that way because it shows us why he wants to take down Superman and views him as a threat.

      Another thing that I really liked is how they keep having the characters ask questions about Superman like whether he is a hero or sign of God or because he could easily destroy the world in 5 seconds, is he a threat? Such questions are a demonstration of the main themes the film has to offer. To me, the film is about fear and how people like Batman fear what they don't understand. It is also about hope because that is what Superman can bring to those that view him as a hero.

    Next is the actors. While I liked Henry Cavill as Superman as well as Amy Adams as Lois Lane, I'm going to discuss one of the film's bigger question marks: Ben Affleck as Batman. Does he deliver?! Of course, he does. I say of course because he's always good. So if you still have any preconceptions about him in the role simply because he's Ben Affleck, I say give him a chance. While he still didn't exactly disappear into the role, that's mainly because he's such a recognizable face that at first glance you see Ben Affleck, the star. So, it's more circumstance than anything else. Lastly, I really liked Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. Even though she had a handful of scenes, one of the reasons I can't wait for the new Justice League movie is because of her.

   I also loved the cinematography by Larry Fong. One of my favorite scenes that was extremely well-shot is the scene where Superman is coming down from the sky to rescue flood victims. As he is coming down from the sky, the Sun is beaming down on him as if he is a being or angel sent down from Heaven. Another scene that was well-shot is when after Superman rescues a girl from a burning building, a bunch of citizens slowly reach their hands out to him, showing how they see him as a figure of hope. The score by Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL was also very harmoniously done.

   To me, the film's biggest Kryptonite is Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. Now I like Jesse Eisenberg and think he is a terrific actor. But he was very miscast as Lex Luthor and I thought he chewed the scenery like it was nobody's business. I'm guessing they wanted to offer a different take on the character, but it just did not work and it almost felt like a paycheck performance from Eisenberg. But hey, these movies do pay well.

   The film also had a bit too many endings. Without spoiling anything, I'll even say they didn't need to include the very last one they had.

    Overall, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is an almost incredibly well-executed entry in the latest DC Cinematic Universe. The acting for the most part is terrific, it has intriguing ideas, and even its technical aesthetics are well-executed.

Grade: B

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Oscars 2017: Best Actor Predictions

So now that I have covered my premature predictions in the actress categories for next year, time for the boys! First off, I will give my early, premature predictions for Best Actor.

1. Michael Keaton, The Founder: While the film's August release date may induce slight caution, Keaton is holding a big IOU after losing for Birdman (where he really should've won). It also helps he's been in the last two Best Picture winners, he's got Harvey on his corner, and he's playing a real-life person. The more I think about it, the more likely he could actually win.

2. Michael Fassbender, The Light Between Oceans: Despite his lack of campaigning, he still got in Best Actor for Steve Jobs. So they do like the guy. He'll also be everywhere this year with not just this film but X-Men: Apocalypse, Assassin's Creed, and the indie Trespass Against Us opposite Brendan Gleeson. Despite the film getting a Labor Day release date, indicating that it may peak too early, we'll see if it can sustain any buzz by the end of the year. The film does look like an emotional acting showcase.

3. Andrew Garfield, Silence: Garfield must be holding an IOU for a nomination after getting snubbed in the Supporting Actor category for The Social Network. Thankfully, his upcoming collaboration with Martin Scorsese could help him on his path to joining the Oscar club.

4. David Oyelowo, A United Kingdom: Another person holding an IOU for a nomination, David Oyelowo has a few opportunities to finally break through with Oscar. But I think his best bet is the biopic A United Kingdom. The film doesn't have a U.S. distributor quite yet. But if it gets a big one, then after being considered egregiously snubbed for Selma, here comes an opportunity to make up for that.

5. Joel Edgerton, Loving: After making the rounds last year for Black Mass, that will serve as groundwork for his potential promotion of Loving this year. He's one of those actors that seems destined to become an Oscar nominee and with the story that Loving deals with, a real-life interracial couple fighting for equality, he could finally earn that title.

On The Outside Looking In:

Casey Affleck, Manchester By The Sea: One of Sundance's critical darlings. But will it be more than just a critical darling?

Colin Firth, Deep Water: Welcome back nomination, perhaps?

Tom Hanks, Sully: Tom Hanks has been hit-or-miss lately, both box office and awards-wise. So despite being Tom Hanks, even being Tom Hanks couldn't help him get in for Captain Phillips. 

Nate Parker, Birth Of A Nation: Also directed the project. Could be pull a Clint Eastwood or Warren Beatty and get both directing and acting nods?

Will Smith, Collateral Beauty: Concussion couldn't score a touchdown. Hopefully this film will give Smith stronger material.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Review: The Divergent Series: Allegiant (2016)

               'Allegiant' Is Like The Bureau of Generic Welfare

     When two of the characters go on a flying pod and put it on autopilot, that had me thinking "That's what this movie feels like."

    The Divergent Series: Allegiant continues the story of Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) as she looks to climb over the wall that has kept her and everyone she knows and loves away from the outside world all her life. While Tris' boyfriend's mother Evelyn (Naomi Watts) becomes in charge of the crumbling city of Chicago, when Tris and her friends reach the outside world, they discover some deep and dark hidden secrets once they meet the mysterious leader of the Bureau of Genetic Welfare named David (Jeff Daniels).

    There is one person among the cast that stood out. That person was Miles Teller as Tris' frenemy Peter. Even if Miles Teller was just being...Miles Teller, a sarcastic wise guy, he still bought some energy to each scene he was in. Theo James as Tris' boyfriend also tries his best with what he is given. Sadly, I can't say the same for the other actors.

    Most of the other actors, which are extremely talented, were all phoning their roles in. Shailene Woodley sleepwalks through the whole thing. You can tell she wants to get this series over with. It's unfortunate this series hasn't quite made her the next Jennifer Lawrence. Naomi Watts constantly looks like she is being held against her will. It's as if she keeps saying, "I want to get out of this mess! Give me my paycheck!". Octavia Spencer, who is also in this, is completely wasted while Jeff Daniels, much like Naomi Watts, was just waiting patiently for his check to clear.

    Since the film is split into two halves, they had trouble finding a director for the second half. When watching this, it's not hard to see why. After the end, they could've easily ended the series right there. But noooo. Hollywood has to churn out another one to make more money. Although this film isn't exactly lighting box office fire. Also, this film drags on for way too long. It dragged on to the point where I would look away from the screen time to time.

   Lastly, the story was way too predictable. Tris finds out she's the purest of all the Divergents aka The One. Of course she is. The Bureau of Genetic Welfare turns out to be evil! Wow, I did not see that coming. I mean, you can sense each reveal from a mile away.

   Overall, The Divergent Series: Allegiant is a very slick looking yet mundane entry in this film series full of wasted talent and recycled storytelling. By the time it's over, you'll probably forget about it like I have.

Grade: D+

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Indie Review: Hello, My Name Is Doris (2016)

        'Hello, My Name Is Doris' Is A Unique Star Vehicle For Sally Field

         I'm starting to see a trend of veteran actresses like Blythe Danner, Lily Tomlin, Sally Field, and pretty soon Susan Sarandon landing lead roles that they can sink their teeth into. Yet I absolutely love it.

        Hello, My Name Is Doris follows the story of an older woman named Doris (Sally Field) who has recently buried her mother she has lived with for so long. But she finds a reawakening in her life after attending a self-help seminar and once she meets a new, and much younger, supervisor at her work named John (Max Greenfield) who she slowly falls for.

      First off is the one that anchors this movie and that is Sally Field as Doris. One way in which I can describe Field's performance is that she is always on. Every comedic facial expression as well as her ability to balance comedy and tragedy is perfectly nailed. But when her character enters tragic territory, Field never asks for our pity. She is portrayed as a simple older woman trying to satisfy her personal needs. While she has a terrific cast surrounding her, including the equally delightful and charming Max Greenfield, as well as Tyne Daly as Doris' closest friend Roz, the movie is really the Field show.

     Since Field has retreated to television and supporting motherly film roles for quite a while, I applaud her for looking hard to land meaty roles like this one. Doris is a woman who is quite acerbic and socially awkward, yet embraces her awkwardness. Like so many others, she is a person who is timid yet is willing to take a chance on love.

     Another thing that I appreciated is how the film doesn't just depict middle-aged love, but love in general. When Doris starts crushing on her young co-worker, audiences in general can relate to what she goes through regardless of what age they are. While the film does focus on how old Doris is, it isn't its main focal point. Also, while Field and Max Greenfield have great chemistry, they don't necessarily have romantic chemistry given how Greenfield's character sends mixed messages. That made his character stand out amongst other male love interests in romantic dramedies.


     Overall, Hello, My Name Is Doris is a hilariously poignant reminder that Sally Field is still one of the best actresses working in the business. She'll make you laugh, break your heart, and above all, remind you how it feels to be in love. Hopefully, you'll fall in love with this film like I have.

Grade: A

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Topic Of The Day: How The Studios Can Fix Their Campaign Strategies

Hello, Bloggers, welcome to another episode of Topic Of The Day. For today's topic, I will continue my thoughts on the Oscars and how they could use some fixing. Because the problems they have start with the industry, I'll delve into how the studios can fix them with their Oscar campaigns.

Now, they often nominate films that come out within the last three months of the year across the board in every major category while films that come out earlier are either nominated in a handful of categories or not at all which is a real shame.

Here is one way they could fix that: Let's say they look at their films that come out from three periods: January to March, April to June, and July to September. They look at the film from each period that has the highest Rotten Tomatoes rating AND did the most business at the box office, then send out screeners for those films to almost each major branch and below-the-line branches where it could have a chance of getting in.

But let's say one of the big distributors (Universal, 20th Century Fox, etc.) doesn't have a critically acclaimed financial grosser that came out within, say, the January to March period. They could look at the returns of films from their specialty divisions  (Focus Features, Fox Searchlight, etc.) and see if they did solid business so that they can create awareness for their indies as well as their blockbusters.

In fact, the major distributors could use this same strategy for their specialty division films: Find out which indie did the most business in each monthly period, both critically and financially, and send out screeners to voters from the major branches (Producers, Actors, Writers, etc..) as well as any below-the-line branches where the film may have a chance.

But what happens to the films that came out in the last three months of the year? Well, the studios could take one film that comes out within that period and use it as a wild card and give it a major push. They could also do that ahead of time. That way, they might avoid cases like Selma which was rushed into its awards aeason and despite its high critical reception, was still too late to the party.

If this strategy were to take place, it could help the Oscars in the ratings department because they would end up nominating films that people actually saw and the studios don't have to waste all their energy on movies that come out at the end of the year and get campaigns before critics and the public actually see them.

They did recently nominate films like Mad Max: Fury Road and The Grand Budapest Hotel, which came out earlier in their respective years, so the studios may be heading in the right direction since they're the ones that give certain films the biggest push. But if they were to go by this strategy, then it might allow them to go even further.

What do you guys think? Do you agree with this strategy of studios picking the top film from each monthly period? Please be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Topic Of The Day: 5 Actors On Han Solo Shortlist

The search for the next Han Solo is slowly coming to an end. They have announced 5 actors that are supposedly on the final shortlist and I have to say, it isn't a shabby list. Two of the names I haven't seen on screen, but that might change.


One name on the list is Alden Ehrenreich from Hail, Caesar! and Beautiful Creatures. He's a terrific young actor and he was one of the best things about Hail, Caesar!. Because of how humorous he was in that film, I'm curious as to whether he can pull off the rather cocky humor required for Han Solo. 

Next is Blake Jenner from Glee. I haven't seen Glee so I can't really comment on his acting abilities. But something about him as Han Solo doesn't quite gel with me and I can't figure out why.

Next is Irish actor Jack Reynor from Transformers: Age of Extinction. He's also done some smaller indie films from Ireland like What Richard Did from Lenny Abrahamson who just guided Brie Larson to a Best Actress win for Room. I haven't seen his work, but I think he could snag the role. One reason is because he bears a slight resemblance to a young Harrison Ford. He's also likely within their price range since, judging by who they have on their shortlist, they want an unknown for the role. 

Lastly are my top two picks for the role: Taron Egerton and Jack O'Connell. If it were between those two, it would probably be O'Connell. While Egerton's slate is looking full with the upcoming Kingsman sequel and a Robin Hood origin film, O'Connell's slate is looking more free. Apparently, he was closer to landing a role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. So couple that with his open schedule and likely affordability since he isn't quite established yet, I can definitely picture him snagging the role.

What do you guys think? Do you like the list of actors being considered? Please be sure to write your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Consider John Goodman for Best Supporting Actor for "10 Cloverfield Lane"

It is already March and we've just put the 88th Academy Awards behind us. But I have already found a performance that should be remembered come awards time. That performance is by John Goodman in the sci-fi thriller 10 Cloverfield Lane. 

10 Cloverfield Lane itself is a solid tension-filled thriller that even exceeds its spiritual predecessor Cloverfield. While the people sitting behind me were like "This is boring" because it is mostly about three people trapped in a bunker, it is more focused on asking the question of "If you were trapped underground with someone you didn't know, what would you do? Would you take your chances trying to survive outside or stay inside where you will be safer with strangers?"

As great as the film is, most of the reason that it works so incredibly well is John Goodman as the owner of the bunker the characters stay in named Howard. Lately, Goodman has appeared in 5 minute role after 5 minute role, nailing it every time. But here, he is given a larger role to really sink his teeth into. Goodman successfully captures different invisible layers to his character: black comedy, reclusive mystery, and forceful, brooding menace. He appears fatherly and welcoming yet may or may not be crazier than the evil outside.

While the Internet has moaned about Leonardo DiCaprio not having an Oscar, and understandably so, take a look at John Goodman. The guy has been around since the 80's and works consistently, yet no recognition for his film work. He's gotten accolades for his work on TV's Roseanne. But never for his work in film even though he recently appeared in two Best Picture winners in a row: The Artist and Argo. I think it's time he joined the Oscar club. Despite his performance in 10 Cloverfield Lane being incredibly good, he has an even bigger hurdle to overcome: it's a sci-fi movie. But if they were to play up some kind of "he's never been nominated" angle, then he could overcome that and not just the genre and early release date.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Oscars 2017: Early Best Actress Predictions

Best Actress might once again be competitive this year considering the many legitimate names we might have in the mix. While it is too early to tell who will get in the Final Five, it's still so much fun to figure out head on who will make the cut. Let's take a look:

1. Viola Davis, Fences: Depending on if the film is ready on time for this year's awards season, I can very well picture a scenario where Viola Davis wins Best Actress. She's already got an Emmy  and two Tonys under her belt while she came very close to winning this category at her last outing with The Help. So, she's likely holding an IOU right about now. Also, she won a Tony for the role she will be playing in Fences. So she'll have no problem owning it on screen. Complete your Triple Crown, Queen Viola!

2. Amy Adams, Story Of Your Life/Nocturnal Animals: She certainly won't be winning for Batman v. Superman which'll be out in a few weeks. But she might at least be nominated for one of the two other films she's got lined up for this year. She does have a 0-5 record so they do like the girl. If Viola Davis doesn't quite pan out, we shall see if Adams becomes aggressive to finally win.

3. Jessica Chastain, The Zookeeper's Wife: On paper, this seems like a no-brainer. A previous two-time nominee doing a Holocaust movie. We'll just have to wait and see how the film is received.

4. Emily Blunt, The Girl On The Train: This must happen. Blunt. Must. Finally. Happen!!!

5. Alicia Vikander, The Light Between Oceans: Fresh from her Oscar win, Vikander has another prestige picture lined up that looks like it could have her back at the ceremony. It also helps that she might have yet another banner year with the Bourne sequel coming out over the summer as well.

Waiting On The Wings:

Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins: Because she's Meryl. Duh.

Emma Stone, La La Land: The film did just get an awards season release in December.

Ruth Negga, Loving: Will she overcome the fact she's an unknown?

Jennifer Lawrence, Passengers: She has already become an Oscar perennial with 1 win and 3 other nominations under her belt. Will she score a 5th for what looks to be this year's Martian (a movie with bankable movie stars in space)?

Rooney Mara, Una: She does have 2 nominations to her name and she plays the title character in a film based on a play. So it could be a strong acting showcase for her.

Marion Cotillard, Five Seconds of Silence: Oscar winner + Zemeckis +World War II= third overall nomination, first for an English language performance?

Oscars 2017: Early Best Supporting Actress Predictions

The 89th Academy Awards are not for a long while. But it's still so much fun to predict them early on. The first category I will try and predict is Best Supporting Actress and I'm going to go through the actress categories first because those are fun to predict. Let's take a look:

1. Annette Bening, 20th Century Women: Director Mike Mills recently guided overdue veteran Christopher Plummer to an Oscar win for Beginners. Depending on which category Bening goes in, she should be building a case for an eventual win since she is currently 0-4.

2. Laura Linney, Sully: Supportive wife alert! If the Supporting Actress category has taught us anything, they LOVE the supportive wife role. If you ask Jennifer Connelly and Alicia Vikander, they'll tell you. If you add Linney's current 0-3 record and the fact she is working on a Clint Eastwood biopic, she's got the right recipe for Nomination #4. However, we'll see how big her role is.

3. Rachel Weisz, The Light Between Oceans: Weisz is set to have a banner 2016: She's got the dystopian sci-fi The Lobster, Deep Water with Colin Firth, Complete Unknown opposite Michael Shannon, the British Holocaust drama Denial, and of course, The Light Between Oceans. Judging by the trailer, where she plays the grieving mother of a child believed to be dead, she looks like she'll have some pretty heavy 'clip' scenes. Plus, she's already got an Oscar under her belt in this category. That never hurts.

4. Kristen Stewart, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk: I have a feeling some are fighting a gag reflex as I bring up the possibility of the moniker "Academy Award nominee Kristen Stewart." But i'm telling you guys that it's coming. She received strong critical notices for Clouds of Sils Maria last year and this year, is working with the likes of not just Ang Lee but Woody freaking Allen. I'm telling you, it's coming. It just depends on how big a role she has.

5. Laura Dern, Wilson/The Founder: After surprising us all with her nomination in this category for Wild, Laura Dern is obviously still fresh in voters minds and has both Wilson opposite Woody Harrelson and the biopic The Founder opposite Michael Keaton where he plays the founder of McDonald's. Which could she get in for or will she cancel herself out?

Next In Line:

Lupita Nyong'o, Queen of Katwe: Which category will she go in, I wonder?

Rosamund Pike, A United Kingdom: See Lupita Nyong'o above.

Michelle Williams, Manchester By The Sea: Previous nominee in a critically acclaimed film bought at Sundance.

Jennifer Jason Leigh, LBJ: Afterglow nomination for playing a former First Lady, perhaps?

Aja Naomi King, Birth Of A Nation: Received standout notices for her performance. If the other actors have a hard time making it in, she could be the benefactor amongst the ensemble.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Oscars 2017: Films That Could Prevent #OscarsSoWhite From Trending

As we all know, for the second year in a row, the Oscars have underwent harsh criticism for its lack of diversity in the nominees. Even if they nominated Creed and Straight Outta Compton, they still recognized the white talent involved. But thankfully, we have a boatload of films that have potential to put that tired hashtag I've become tired of seeing and talking about to bed. Let's take a look:

First off is Birth Of A Nation. That one might already be a safe bet to be in the Best Picture race. It's about racism, Fox Searchlight bought it for a huge sum of $17.5 million which means it'll likely be their top contender, etc. The racial drama Loving about the real-life interracial Loving couple that got imprisoned for attempting to get married was picked up by Focus Features and will likely be their top prospect, I would imagine, after this whole controversy.

Next up is Lion which is based on a true story about an Indian boy who sets off to find his adoptive family. It's being produced by Harvey Weinstein and stars Dev Patel alongside Oscar club members Rooney Mara and Nicole Kidman. It's getting a timely Thanksgiving release date and if Harvey's past movies that came out around that time are any indication (The Imitation Game, Silver Linings Playbook, etc.), it's possibly going to be his top dog in this race.

Now, this next one I would take with a grain of salt. That film is Queen of Katwe starring Lupita Nyong'o and David Oyelowo. While it is based on a true story (which they love) about a female chess prodigy from Africa, the reason I would take it with a grain of salt is because female-driven stories tend to have a more difficult time breaking through into Best Picture. Plus, the fact that this about a black female with a mostly black cast and is even directed by Mira Nair, a woman of color, means that they have hurdles to overcome. Not trying to seem cynical. I'm just saying to be careful when putting this on your predictions.

David Oyelowo's other film that he has lined up is A United Kingdom opposite Rosamund Pike where he plays a prince from Botswana who becomes married to a British white woman. It is also directed by Belle's Amma Asante who is also a woman of color. With her and Mira Nair likely getting in the conversation, they'll have more opportunities to make history by nominating the first black woman and/or the first Indian woman, respectively, for Best Director. But as of right now, A United Kingdom doesn't have a U.S. distributor. So if it hits the festival circuit, we'll see what happens.

Ang Lee has accomplished the rare feat of winning two Best Director Oscars only for his films not to win Best Picture. Maybe that could change with his latest film, the war satire Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk starring Steve Martin, Vin Diesel, Kristen Stewart, Chris Tucker, and newcomer Joe Alwyn.

While Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu won two back-to-back directing Oscars, why not put a spotlight on his fellow Hispanic directors?! One who could get it is director J.A. Bayona from Spain who has the fantasy A Monster Calls under his belt. While the word 'fantasy' might encourage caution due to their bias against the genre, could it be this year's Pan's Labyrinth, perhaps? Also, the Jackie Kennedy biopic Jackie by Chilean director Pablo Larrain and starring Natalie Portman could get a release if it is completed by the end of this year.

Brad Pitt has been something of a good luck charm as a producer, winning Best Picture for 12 Years A Slave and getting two subsequent nominations for Selma and The Big Short. He could find hid way back into the awards race as he partners with A24 Films which is coming off 3 recent Oscar wins for the upcoming coming-of-age story Moonlight about a young man who grows up in drug-ridden Miami. The cast includes Naomie Harris, singer Janelle Monae, and Mahershalal Ali aka Boggs from The Hunger Games.

Going back to women directors, director Niki Caro has guided some of her ladies like Keisha Castle-Hughes, Charlize Theron, and Frances McDormand to the Oscar ceremony. She could certainly strike again as she has the Holocaust drama The Zookeeper's Wife with Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain under her belt. Maybe she could not only guide Chastain to another nomination, but get recognition for her efforts as well.

So they definitely have opportunities to break this hashtag this year. It's just a question of whether their buzz can maintain and/or grow by the time voting hits. Whether you agree or disagree, please feel free to write your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks for reading!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Review: Zootopia (2016)

                        'Zootopia' Made Me Wild With Emotions
       Before I saw the film, I got back a less than stellar grade on my essay for class. I was immediately discouraged but then I said to myself: "Well, it wasn't for a lack of trying." Now, it reminds me of the message that Zootopia has which is to try your best even if your goal doesn't always work out.

    Zootopia follows the story of a bunny named Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) who decides to join the police department of the metropolitan city Zootopia despite those around her not having much belief in her due to her stature. But Hopps gets the chance to prove herself once she solves a mystery along with a sly fox named Nick (Jason Bateman).

   I'll start off with the voice actors. I really loved Ginnifer Goodwin as Judy Hopps, a small bunny trying to make her dream of making the world a better place come true. Goodwin is very believable as a character who is very optimistic yet still tries to fight through another day. I also loved Jason Bateman as Nick. Even when his character makes a funny grin, I would be in stitches. Both he and Goodwin have great chemistry and I would hope to see them reteam in a sequel.
   I also would love to give a shoutout to Idris Elba as Hopps' chief officer Bogo, a buffalo who is very straight-laced and his cynicism and doubts about Judy making it in the force create some funny humor. Jenny Slate is also a delight as the sheep assistant mayor Dawn Bellwether. J.K. Simmons even has a role as the lion mayor of Zootopia which is perfect casting. The whole cast was great.

    Next, I want to dive right into the film's message. As I said in my first paragraph, it deals with the message of always being willing to try. Even if you reach for a goal that doesn't quite pan out, you can say that you tried, dust it off and come up with a way to try again, or aim for a different goal that may lead to something better. I thought the message was perfectly realized and it doesn't just shine through the character of Judy, but mostly Nick. I won't give away how he learns the message, so I'll leave it at that.

    The message of trying is handled well thanks to its screenplay. But not only does the screenplay find room for its message, along woth the traditional humor of an animated film, but it draws a unique metaphor for prejudice. We see characters being cast aside for their various attributes, from their stature to their categorization as predator or prey, and it is like the way people are treated for their skin color, gender, or even their sexuality. Since the film is also a mystery, I really enjoyed trying to solve it myself and watching the two main heroes being taken on this adventure.


    Overall, Zootopia is a jam-packed adventure that is packed with the traditional mix of humor and heart in a Pixar movie.

Grade: A

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Topic Of The Day: Let's Put #OscarsSoWhite To Bed

Up until the actual Oscar ceremony, I've talked quite extensively about this whole #OscarsSoWhite controversy. But now that the ceremony has taken place, I want to, for the last time, touch upon that ridiculous hashtag and say why we should put it to bed. Shall we?

Now in Chris Rock's opening monologue, and throughout the show, he touched upon how much black talent got ignored. But what about talent of other ethnicities? How about Asians or Latinos? Where was the outrage over their omissions? Also, since the word diversity was constantly brought up, it doesn't just refer to race but also gender and even sexuality. But we did see certain groups be recognized. 

For example, we saw Margaret Sixel, a female editor, win Best Film Editing which is a category that is typically a boy's club. Bear Story, the Animated Short winner, was done by Chilean filmmakers, making it the first Oscar win for the country of Chile. Amy, the Best Documentary winner, was directed by an Indian Brit named Asif Kapadia. Documentary Short winner A Girl On The River: The Price of Forgiveness was directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Cheenoy, a Pakistani woman. Mexicans Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu and Emmanuel Lubezki won consecutive Oscars for The Revenant. Even if I hated the song, it was neat to see an openly gay man, Sam Smith, win Best Original Song. Heck, we even had Alicia Vikander from Sweden as our Best Supporting Actress winner. 

So I wish that when looking to diversity, people would just stop thinking in a black and white manner. Yes, there was terrific work by black talent last year. But we should look at the great work by other ethnic or sex-oriented groups as well as black talent. It makes those that have boycotted the ceremony seem like they should be entitled to get nominated just for their skin color and we don't want that.

Anyways, we did see diversity be represented on Sunday night. But unfortunately, it seems that people just weren't looking hard enough. What do you guys think? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section on how far this #OscarsSoWhite controversy is getting and let's hope that for next season, we never have to see that hashtag appear. Thanks for reading!