Monday, 9 October 2017

Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2049
Directed by Denis Villeneuve

Blade Runner 2049 is set 30 years after the original Blade Runner film. This time, we follow Officer K, a new generation of Blade Runners. K finds himself unraveling a decades old mystery which leads him on a journey of self-discovery.

I know this is vague. In fact, no one really knew the plot of this film until the movie was released. And even then, to say what the plot actually is is a spoiler. Very neo-noir. However, I will tell you that Officer K is a replicant working as a Blade Runner. Despised by both humanity and by replicants, K leads a lonely life, save for the relationship he has with Joi, a very Samantha-in-Her-esque hologram AI. However, after retiring a replicant he finds a box buried under a tree with the bones of a dead replicant who has clearly given birth. K is tasked with hunting down this mysterious child and retiring them as well.

Blade Runner 2049 is probably one of the most beautiful films I've had the pleasure of seeing in theatres. Both visually, sound-wise, musically, and story-wise, this film is beautiful and thought-provoking. Please don't let the internet haters lead you to believe that this movie is "long and boring" and has "bad screenplay writing". Personally, I don't agree at all. While Blade Runner 2049 has a simple premise, it is given complexity. And yes, the movie is longer (2hrs and 44 minutes) and is slow-pacer, but it's not exactly like the original film was fast-paced either.

Denis Villeneuve does a mesmerizing job of having this film feel like it does belong in the Blade Runner world, but manages to make it a fantastic film in its own right. The film is able to explore much deeper some of the original ideas of the first film (what is humanity and what does it mean to be human?) and really gets to new existential depths. But if you've seen any of Villeneuves' other films, this also won't be a surprise. To be honest, I'm astounded this movie was given the funding it was and was released in the cut we got. Blade Runner 2049 is an arthouse sci-fi movie that is nearly 3 hours long. There aren't lots of explosions, chases, or action. Yes, we do get some of each but the film isn't littered with them. It's a film that asks us to think and process the things we are seeing and doesn't always spell everything out for us. And the way it ends is a beautiful yet somewhat ambiguous ending. Again, I'm astounded this film was made, but I couldn't be happier that this did.

As well, it was interesting to me how many female characters were included in this film. While many of them played programmable AIs, prostitutes or the 2nd in command for the films villain (though is really just the main villain) and come across as quite stereotypical female roles in this genre of film, it was still refreshing that the film had as many women as they did. Yes, the film still centres around our main protagonist (Ryan Gosling), the head of the new replicant-producing corporation (Jared Leto) and, eventually, the return of Deckard (Harrison Ford, obviously), the rest of the main roles seemed to be taken up by women. Yes, I know, this film doesn't really pass the Bechdel test and it revolved around the men in the movie, I'm just glad it was a bigger step up from the female representation in the original film.

And, of course, I couldn't end talking about this movie without mentioning Roger Deakins. I've been saying since the first teaser for this film landed that the narrative just may be here for Deakins to finally win an Oscar on his 14th nomination. And this movie surely delivered in the cinematography department. This is by far some of Deakins best work. The whole movie was basically just me starring up, mesmerized. About every ten to fifteen minutes I would be uttering "holy crap" from just how beautiful this film was. Seriously, I will be so pissed if Deakins loses the Oscar again. This is career-defining work.

Honestly, while the box office disappointment may not get it the Picture/Director nominations that seemed quite possible just a week ago, this film should really have no problem being up for (at the very least) Cinematography, Sound Mixing/Editing, Visual Effects and Production Design. And, really, it is possible a front runner for all of them. The Visual Effects really were incredible that I honestly kind of forget that this is a movie that was probably riddled with CGI. They were seamless.

And as for this box office "disappointment" I have to say, why were production companies giving this such high box office expectations? Blade Runner is a movie that came out over 30 years ago, didn't make very much money, and is a cult classic rather than a straight up, well-known classic. This is a movie directed by a well-respected but a more thoughtful and artistic director than is usually given a blockbuster film. It's almost 3 hours longer and the basic plot wasn't even revealed in reviews. For a movie that is 2 hours and 44 minutes, a slow-paced neo-noir arthouse scifi that is the sequel to a cult classic, $31.5 million opening and top of the box office is pretty good. While Villeneuve made fantastic use of the enormous budget, this is a film that probably shouldn't have been given as big a budget as it did. But because it did get a $150 million budget, we now expect it to perform like a Marvel sequel. And Blade Runner 2049 couldn't be a more different film.

Please go see Blade Runner 2049 in theatres. If you like visually stunning movies that don't dumb it down and don't feel like they need explosions every other second for you to be entertained, please go see it. It's a movie that needs to be seen on a large screen and, trust me, it'll be worth you time.

9/10

Friday, 29 September 2017

Stronger

Stronger, 2017
Directed by David Gordon Green

Stronger tells the true story of Jeff Bauman and how he lost both his legs during the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013. Jeff was there to cheer on his on-and-off girlfriend Erin, who was running in the race. A flaky guy who still lives with his mother and works at Costco, Jeff finally decides to show up to something for Erin. However, this time, it costs him his legs. As Jeff recovers, the whole of Boston (and the world) wants to make Jeff out to be a hero. However, Jeff just wants to heal and to be left alone.

Honestly, Stronger just looked like a standard true story tearjerker movie. Yes, it's a true story about a very recent event but it didn't overly interest me. However, word was strong out of TIFF and it finished off with a 95% on RottenTomatoes. So because Ottawa was going through a heat wave at the end of September and I have no A/C (and movie theatres do), my husband and I decided to escape the heat and this was about all that was playing with good reviews.

Jake Gyllenhaal has been consistently putting out some really great work in the last few years. Nightcrawler and Nocturnal Animals were both great turns from him, but his work here in Stronger is much different than those gritty roles. Jeff is a witty and humorous guy who finds himself in a difficult situation. He's lost both his legs in a terrorist incident and now needs to figure out how to function living in an apartment with stairs and that isn't wheelchair friendly. Mostly he just wants to walk with his on-and-off-again girlfriend Erin. But Jeff is flaky and doesn't want to rely on other people and just generally pushes people away. It's a much more sensitive role for Jake recently and he's able to show a lot more vulnerability here. As expected, he really is fantastic in this role.

Tatiana Maslany on the other hand is also terrific. However, I felt she didn't actually have a lot to do. Mostly she was there to help Jake Gyllenhaal get into the car, or drive him to appointments and then had a few small scenes where she gives it to her unreliable boyfriend for being selfish and bitter and uncommitted. In those moments where she's actually got something to work with, she's fantastic. I mean, this is no surprise as Maslany is a great performer still looking to make a big break into film. However, my main complaint is that she just isn't given a whole lot of heavy lifting to do, which is extremely disappointing.

As well, can we give a shoutout to Miranda Richardson who is playing the classic Boston single-mom? And the fact that she played Rita Skeeter in Harry Potter and from looking at her in this role I would never ever guess that. She's spot on here and seems to really nail the Boston accent.

Aside from the good performances, the film itself also holds up well. While this is a bit of a tearjerker true story movie, it also doesn't get as caught up in making it's characters likeable or needing it's characters to triumph. As well, it was able to keep the R-rated language that seems to always trickle out of Bostonians and that itself made it feel much more authentic. David Gordon Green lets Jeff be selfish and flaky without needing us to think he's a saint. As well, Erin, in the midst of a huge fight, leaves Jeff in a car and goes into the apartment without him, leaving him to either stay in the car (which he doesn't) or crawl across the pavement, shouting so that someone will let him in once he reaches the door (which he does do). It's not a pretty scene and it even feels extremely harsh. But it felt real. This movie also doesn't seem to be overly interested in Jeff "triumphing" like most people do at the end of these true stories. But instead seems to be more interested in giving characters better perspective so that they may change eventually.

Stronger is a somewhat depressing way to spend an evening, but the film isn't without its humour. Jake Gyllenhaal does some great work here and is well supported by Tatiana Maslany and Miranda Richardson.

7.5/10

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Dunkirk Review

Dunkirk, 2017
Directed by Christopher Nolan

I recently read an article posted by Variety entitled "Why Directors Are This Summer's Biggest Stars" and it talks about how the concept of "Movie stars" seems to be fading (in the wake of the failure of movies like The Mummy, Pirates 5 and The House) and how directors are on the rise. Chris Nolan and Edgar Wright are cited as some of the main reasons people are going out to see films. And I think that article is 100% correct. The main marketing hasn't been that Tom Hardy or Harry Styles is starring in Dunkirk. They're heavily promoting that this is a film brought to you by the man who made modern classics like Inception and The Dark Knight. They're letting you know this is a Chris Nolan film and by far he is certainly this films main star.

To call a director the main star of a film is always so interesting and hard to describe. But this movie is very much Nolan's film and, while it's a WWII film, it's still very much a Nolan film. Dunkirk is a movie that's low on dialogue and high on action. The characters are mainly visual guide points and no one really gets an "Oscar clip" scene. It's very much an ensemble film with the love spread very evenly with basically no back story for any of the characters. I know this may seem like a cold approach to a movie but I think this was the perfect way to throw us into the action.

The film is split into three timelines and locations. First, we have "the mole", which lasts 1 week. In this story, we follow a band of young soldiers who are stranded on the beach of Dunkirk, trying to escape on the very few boats available. Secondly, we have "The sea", which lasts 1 day. It follows a father and son, and the sons friend, as their boat in Dorset, England is requisitioned by the English Navy to travel across the Channel to Dunkirk to rescue the 400,000 men stranded there. And lastly, we have "the air", which lasts 1 hour. In this, we follow Spitfire pilots who are headed to Dunkirk to provide air protection. We cut between the three stories, which cross over at various points, and follow the action they see. It's a brilliant way to tell the story, instead of just following one character. This is definitely something a little different for Nolan, but it's something he balances incredibly well.

To be honest, I'm not really sure what else to say but just "go see it!!!!" The hype is incredibly real and Dunkirk is definitely one of the best war films ever made. It's self-contained to the action of the story it chooses. No cutting back to Churchill speeches, or seeing worried parents or girlfriends back home. We don't even know really any of the characters names. But it's a film that has an incredibly strong sense of the story it wants to tell and does it in an incredibly effective way. To be honest, why haven't more war films been made like this? In my opinion, Chris Nolan has one again transcended a genre and really raised the stakes on what kind of films can be made. I may sound like a Nolan fanboy (yes, fanboy, even though I am a girl, because, let's be honest "fangirl" and "fanboy" have very different connotations) but Nolan has certainly made a masterpiece here. It's just incredible from directing, to cinematography, to pace and to editing. Seriously, can we already hand Lee Smith the editing Oscar? And get Nolan that first nomination (if not win) for director? This is definitely the first sure-fire Oscar contender of the year and it's a pitch-perfect one.

10/10

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Top 10 Films of 2016



Once again, it's taken me until May to get my top 10 films of the previous year together. To be fair, there were several I've wanted to rewatch and some I just hadn't gotten around to until now. And honestly, there's still a few I haven't seen (Jackie, Elle) but they'll just have to wait.

2016 was an interesting year for film. To be honest, there were no films I was even close to being as passionate about as my top films of the past couple years, but there were still many great films this year. Enjoy my list!


Top 10 Films of 2016

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10. Manchester By The Sea
I think I mentioned in my review that about 1/3 of the way through the film I wasn't sure what the big deal was. But when the film finally unveils Lee's past, it really wallops you. Manchester By The Sea is a devastating film, but what I loved about it was how authentic it felt. It didn't shy away the occasional humor (sometimes dark) and it really felt so human in the way we react in the face of grief. Casey Affleck is one of the most talented guys out there and even though he may be a terrible person, he truly is one of the most talented people working today, and this film is a career best.

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9. Eye In The Sky
One of my favourite "gimmicks" for films to do in setting it in real time. Eye In The Sky is more-or-less set in real time as various armies worldwide need to make a quick decision on whether to carry out a drone strike on a group of suicide bombers in Kenya. But things get more complicated when a civilian child enters the kill zone. There are so many fine performances here from Helen Mirren playing a cold military officer to Aaron Paul as a young drone pilot and to Alan Rickman's final on-screen performance. This is a taut, thrilling film and is definitely a must-see.

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8. Hell or High Water
I'm not really sure what there is to say about Hell or High Water that hasn't been said. It's a beautiful and heart-breaking film about two brothers who rob banks in order to save their house from being re-possessed by the banks after their mother passes away, and about an old, racist police officer about to retire, out on his final case. It's written by Taylor Sheridan (actor in Sons of Anarchy and writer of Sicario) it's a beautiful film about the poor blue-collar of rural Texas. Ben Foster is phenomenal. (
You can find this on Canadian Netflix now!



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7. Midnight Special
Jeff Nichols first of two films in 2016 tells the story of the government and a religious cult on the hunt for a man and his son (who has special powers). It's hard to describe why this film was so special. Michael Shannon and Joel Edgerton are both wonderful here but it's the way Nichols tells the story and we are figuring out why so many people are on the hunt for this young boy, Alton. It's a story that almost feels Messianic and has so many interesting Biblical and religious parallels. The performances are wonderful and Nichols subtle directing here is beautiful

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6. Captain Fantastic
This is one of the most recent films I've seen and I very quickly fell in love with it. It's a bit of a unique story but it doesn't feel too odd or quirky. Ben and his wife live with their six children in the woods, creating a utopia for themselves outside of the commercialistic and consumeristic society, teaching their children literature and celebrating Noam Chomsky. But after Ben's wife has spent a few months in rehab, she kills herself. And his wife's family doesn't want Ben and the children attending the funeral. But they decide to make a roadtrip, leaving the woods for the first time in many years, to pay their respects and say their goodbyes to their mother. Viggo Mortensen and all the children in this film are wonderful. This film is so funny and it is so open about talking about mental illness in a way I didn't expect (and showing how many people shield themselves and others from conversation about it). It's another really beautiful film and deserves to be seen by so many people.



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5. Silence
I read the novel of Silence by Shusaku Endo a few months before finally seeing Silence in theatres. It had been a highly anticipated film before I saw it and I really don't think it let me down. Silence is the film that all Christians should be rallying around. It's finally a very honest look at God and belief and doubt and persecution and it was disappointing to me that it was too "difficult" or too "Catholic" for so many Christians (and the general audience) and this ended up a box office flop. Silence has some of the most gorgeous cinematography of all 2016 films and history will look back extremely confused as to why Andrew Garfield was nominated for Hacksaw Ridge but not this.

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3 & 4. Hidden Figures & La La Land (Tie)
I honestly really couldn't pick between these two movies for my third spot. I rewatched both within a week of each other and I love both of them so much, but both for VERY different reasons. Hidden Figures is a story we should've all known and been taught about in school. It celebrates women and diversity and is beautifully told without becoming too cliche. La La Land is a musical with fantastic music (both lyrical and instrumental) and has some great performances from Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling and THAT ENDING. The Ending is really what seals this in as a great movie for me. Both are fantastic and deserve to be seen. And thankfully both were box office smashes.


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2. Hunt For the Wilderpeople

Taika Waititi made my list last year with What We Do In The Shadows and this follow-up film couldn't be more different. Ricky Baker is a hooligan orphan who gets in trouble for kicking stuff, burning stuff, defacing stuff and loitering. He gets placed with a new family and when he and his cantankerous foster father go on the run/get lost in the New Zealand wilderness, it starts a nation-wide manhunt. Hunt for the Wilderpeople is one of the most charming, funny and touching films you'll see. Ricky Baker is someone we all want to know and newcomer Julian Denison who plays him is incredible.
This is also on Canadian Netflix now. Please go watch it!!!!




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1. Arrival

Once the lights came back on after watching Arrival for the first time I knew it was going to be hard to top. Honestly, even during the opening scenes I knew I was in for something special. I know I've said a lot of movies are beautiful this year and I may have overused that term but that really is the perfect word when regarding this movie about an alien invasion. Beautiful. Arrival is heartbreaking and beautiful and breathtaking and everything you wouldn't expect from an alien movie. But it's a movie about language and how we communicate, both on a small scale, person to person, or on a global scale, country to country. Amy Adams gives one of her best performances here and it's a movie you'll need to watch a second time the moments its over.


Special Mentions:
Don't Think Twice: A film about a group of comedians all with the dream to end up on "Weekend Live" a weekly comedy show. It's honest and authentic and funny. Gillian Jacobs was robbed of a Golden Globe nomination here.

Swiss Army Man: Possibly the weirdest film you'll ever watch but potentially one of the most touching, as well. Paul Dano is stranded on a dessert island and is about to kill himself when a corpse (Daniel Radcliffe) washes up on shore and has magical "swiss army" powers. It's a film about grief and loneliness and friendship.

Moonlight: While not my favourite film of the year, it's one of the most visually stunning. The cinematography is drop-dead gorgeous and this has my favourite film score of the year.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Final Oscar Predictions

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Oscar night has arrived! I know I always say I'm not confident about my picks but this was a tricky year. La La Land has 14 nominations. Will it sweep? Will there be any upsetting La La Land? The technicals were tricky to predict as it didn't seem like a particularly strong year with no obvious candidates, so La La Land may default win a lot of these. I took a risk on a few predictions (Arrival winning Editing, Jackie winning Costumes and Hacksaw/LLL splitting the two sound categories) and we'll see if they pay off!


Best Picture
Will Win: La La Land
Should Win: Arrival

Best Director
Will Win: Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
Should Win: Denis Villeneuve (Arrival)

Best Actress
Will Win: Emma Stone (La La Land)
Should Win: Didn't see enough of the nominees to make a choice

Best Actor
Will Win: Casey Affleck (Manchester By The Sea)
Should Win: Casey Affleck (Manchester By The Sea)

Best Supporting Actress
Will Win: Viola Davis (Fences)
Should Win: Viola Davis (Fences)

Best Supporting Actor
Will Win: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
Should Win: Dev? Mahershala? It was a weak field

Best Original Screenplay
Will Win: Manchester By The Sea
Should Win: Hell or High Water or Manchester By The Sea

Best Adapted Screenplay
Will Win: Moonlight
Should Win: Arrival

Best Cinematography
Will Win: La La Land
Should Win: Silence

Best Costume Design
Will Win: Jackie
Should Win: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Best Film Editing
Will Win: Arrival
Should Win: Arrival or Hell or High Water

Best Makeup and Hair
Will Win: Suicide Squad
Should Win: ??

Best Production Design
Will Win: La La Land
Should Win: Hail, Caesar!

Best Original Score
Will Win: La La Land
Should Win: La La Land or Moonlight

Best Original Song
Will Win: "City of Stars" (La La Land)
Should Win: City of Stars or How Far I'll Go (Moana)

Best Sound Editing
Will Win: Hacksaw Ridge
Should Win: ?

Best Sound Mixing
Will Win: La La Land
Should Win: ?

Best Visual Effects
Will Win: The Jungle Book
Should Win: The Jungle Book

Best Animated Feature
Will Win: Zootopia
Should Win: Zootopia (though I haven't seen Kubo yet!)

Best Documentary Feature
Will Win: OJ: Made in America

Best Foreign Film
Will Win: The Salesman



Hacksaw Ridge


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Hacksaw Ridge, 2016
Directed by Mel Gibson
Nominated for 6 Oscars, including Best Picture

Desmond Doss is a conscientious objector. Or as he'd like be called, a conscientious co-ordinator. Doss is a young man of Christian faith and feels called to enlist in the army during WWII. He feels called to serve his country and to save lives. However, he also believes very strongly in the Biblical Commandment "thou shall not commit murder" and refuses to even touch a weapon. Based on a true story, Hacksaw Ridge tells the story of Doss's strong beliefs, his conviction to stay true and his bravery in battle.

As a Christian myself I'm always hesitant to watch a Mel Gibson movie. I always feel like he's someone I should be supporting because of the "Christian" films he makes, but I honestly don't enjoy his films. They are hyper-violent to the point of gratuitousness and hit you over the head with "morality". And this is true of Hacksaw Ridge as well.

Hacksaw Ridge is essentially two different films. The first half tells of Desmond's life in small town Virginia. He's involved in church (cleaning windows and complimenting the choir? It's  never really explained), he's always helping people and he falls in love with a nurse named Dorothy. Soon after his brother enlists in the war, Desmond knows he must too. But differently. He wants to become a medic and save lives instead of taking them. And soon he ships off to training camp where he is bullied for his beliefs and his commanding officer tries to force him to leave. The second half of the film deals with Doss's time in Japan, specifically on Hacksaw Ridge.

The first half of the film was Mel's usual subtleness- about as subtle as a ton of bricks. He uses stories that are only partially true and makes them fit this narrative he wants. Often Desmond will see something happening and have a realization right then. After being very violent and almost killing his brother as a child, Desmond helps someone injured in a car accident to the hospital and sees all these doctors and nurses saving people and realizes he wants to do that too. Gibson feels the need to have all of these epiphany moments that are a little too easy and make his point without trying too hard. The audience is babied and spoon fed the answers.

But the one compliment I will pay Gibson is, boy, does he know how to coordinate and film battle scenes. Again, they are more bloody and violent and graphic than they need to be. No seriously, I get the point that war is hell and seeing a few mutilated bodies gets the point across, but I don't need to see upwards of fifty mutilations, with either the camera focusing on the dead body or showing it happen in slow motion. Even the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan was more subtle than this. However, the highlight of the film (minor spoiler, but it's a true story and you probably know it already) comes when the battles stop and Doss stays on the Ridge overnight saving countless wounded men, all while not carrying a gun, at the risk of his own life (end spoiler-ish thing). This 20-30 minute scene is exemplary and it's a shame the rest of the film wasn't this well balanced. Gibson isn't hitting us over the head here but simply laying out what happened and allowing us to witness it. He really should take note that the rest of his films should be stylized more like that.

And to be fair, Andrew Garfield is also another highlight of the film. He is more than perfect for the role, being both very skinny and very pure and eager looking. However, I think history will forever be perplexed as to why Garfield finally (FINALLY) landed his first Oscar nom for this film, rather than Silence (which you should all go see, btw!) However, Garfield is really good here and I don't think anyone else could've played it better, or suited the role better, than him. Vince Vaughn on the other hand I felt was very wooden and is one of the most inane characters ever (was he even a character? He just seemed like a fake person that screenwriters create to embody the hatred and discrimination a person felt).

Hacksaw Ridge is not a great movie. It's a movie that contains a very, very excellent 20-30 minute sequence with some well choreographed battle scenes. Otherwise it is unsubtle in its morality and a little too hoaky to be taken too seriously. But it's another movie Christians will enjoy because the Christian gets a round of applause at the end and things end alright.

(But seriously, if you want a movie about Christianity and the struggle to stay true to your convictions, I'd personally recommend Silence.)

6.5/10

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Oscar Nomination Predictions




That time of year is officially here. Oscar nominations are out in less than 36 hours. So far it's been a somewhat interesting season, but mostly (for my anyway) it's been a pretty uncertain one past La La Land. La La Land looks to be scoring tons and tons of nominations, including Best Picture. Will the Academy continue the musical loving? How much will they love films like Moonlight, Nocturnal Animals or Hidden Figures? Will Silence finally make an awards show appearance? Will the Best Director category really all be 1st time nominees? Will #oscarssowhite continue for a 3rd year? It's been a very interesting year since this year has mainly been films by relative newcomers or people finally getting their due. To remind you, last year my accuracy rate was 78%, but I didn't predict in the shorts categories. I'm expecting lots of upsets and surprises like usual, so we'll see how well this goes! Good luck to everyone else and hopefully your favourites (and the best) are nominated!

Best Picture
La La Land
Moonlight
Manchester By The Sea
Lion
Arrival
Hidden Figures
Hell or High Water
Hacksaw Ridge

In order of likelihood, however, past Lion, I'm so unsure. There don't seem to be many movies that feel like locks this year. I could see Arrival snubbed almost across the board (minus technicals), I could see Hell or High Water missing out, Fences or Nocturnal Animals definitely have chances here. However, I feel safest with these 8 and don't dare predict more!

Best Director
Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)
Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester By The Sea)
Denis Villeneuve (Arrival)
Garth Davis (Lion)

I've been fretting over this fifth slot for a few weeks now. Chazelle, Jenkins, Lonergan and Villeneuve seem likely but I've had a hard time making a final prediction for the 5th place. This category for the past few years has seem several surprise nominees so I'm going with Garth Davis. He surprised with a DGA nod for his first feature film so I feel like that is pretty significant (remember Morten Tyldum a few years ago?) It's not very often that DGA and Oscars go 5 for 5 with each other, but I just don't really know who else gets that fifth slot. Mel Gibson, Tom Ford, Denzel Washington or David Mackenzie (who I swapped out at the last minute) could all turn up here, but that DGA nod seems pretty key.

Best Actor
Casey Affleck (Manchester By The Sea)
Ryan Gosling (La La Land)
Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge)
Denzel Washington (Fences)
Jake Gyllenhaal (Nocturnal Animals)

This is my big upset pick. Yes, I'm predicting Jake Gyllenhaal for Nocturnal Animals. Both Globes and BAFTA have loved this film more than we expected and BAFTA nominated Jake here so I'm wondering if this is telling (like it was for Gary Oldman in 2012 and Javier Bardem in 2011). Viggo Mortensen always seemed like a bit of a random pick to me anyway so we'll see. But you always have to have at least one risky pick, right?

Best Actress
Emma Stone (La La Land)
Natalie Portman (Jackie)
Isabelle Huppert (Elle)
Amy Adams (Arrival)
Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)

Going with a pretty safe line-up here. However I'm really hoping that Taraji P. Henson is able to upset Meryl Streep here. Henson was wonderful in Hidden Figures and she deserves Oscar Nomination #2.

Best Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water)
Dev Patel (Lion)
Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Nocturnal Animals)
Hugh Grant (Florence Foster Jenkins)

I don't see Lucas Hedges getting in here and will be surprised if he does. He's very young and the Academy never seems to like young male performances. Also, Aaron Taylor-Johnson has the odds stacked his way for a nomination after his Golden Globe win. Will ATJ actually become an Oscar nominee? Really?

Best Supporting Actress
Viola Davis (Fences)
Michelle Williams (Manchester By The Sea)
Nicole Kidman (Lion)
Naomi Harris (Moonlight)
Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures)

This category seems the safest bet but the Academy always loves to throw curveballs. However, these ladies have been pretty widespread nominated altogether all season so I don't see it stopping.

Best Original Screenplay
La La Land
Manchester By The Sea
The Lobster
Hell or High Water
Captain Fantastic

I feel like this category exists for movie like The Lobster. While I wasn't crazy about that movie, it's screenplay was excellent and deserves a nod here. I feel like this lineup is safe, minus Captain Fantastic. Watch out for Zootopia or 20th Century Women

Best Adapted Screenplay
Moonlight
Arrival
Hidden Figures
Lion
Nocturnal Animals

I was originally going to predict Deadpool here but realized I originally was only predicting Hidden Figures would be up for Picture, Supporting Actress and Song and didn't think it would only come away with 3 nominations (and it was originally my 6th choice here anyway). Could see Deadpool or Fences upsetting here but I'm hoping the Academy is a little more creative than nominating the copy-and-paste job that was Fences screenplay.

Best Cinematography
La La Land
Moonlight
Silence
Arrival
Lion

I just really want Silence to get in here, if nowhere else. Also, Bradford Young more than deserves a nomination for Arrival. It's crazy to me that it would make him the first Black person to be nominated here. How is that possible??

Best Costume Design
Jackie
La La Land
Silence
The Handmaiden
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

I don't know a lot about the Handmaiden, but I have a weird feeling it could get in here. Another slightly risky pick but the costumes do look beautiful.

Best Film Editing
La La Land
Moonlight
Manchester By The Sea
Hacksaw Ridge
Arrival

Again, I just really want Arrival to get in here. This is one of my biggest Oscar day wishes.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Florence Foster Jenkins
Deadpool
A Man Called Ove

Best Production Design
La La Land
Jackie
Silence
Hail, Caesar!
Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them

Best Original Score
La La Land
Lion
Moonlight
Florence Foster Jenkins
The BFG

Best Original Song
"City of Stars" (La La Land)
"How Far I'll Go" (Moana)
"Audition (The Fools Who Dream)" (La La Land)
"Drive It Like You Stole It" (Sing Street)
"Runnin'" (Hidden Figures)

Best Sound Editing
Hacksaw Ridge
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Arrival
The Jungle Book
Sully

Best Sound Mixing
La La Land
Rogue One; A Star Wars Story
Hacksaw Ridge
Arrival
The Jungle Book

Best Visual Effects
The Jungle Book
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Doctor Strange
Arrival
Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them

Best Animated Feature
Zootopia
Moana
Kubo and the Two Strings
The Red Turtle
My Life as a Zucchini

Best Documentary
OJ: Made In America
I Am Not Your Negro
The 13th
Cameraperson
Gleason

Best Foreign Film
Toni Erdmann
The Salesman
Land of Mine
A Man Called Ove
Tanna

Best Animated Short
Piper
The Head Vanishes
Inner Workings
Pearl
Blind Vaysha

Best Documentary Short
Joe's Violin
The White Helmets
The Mute's House
Extremis
4.1 Miles

Best Live Action Short
Nocturne in Black
The Way of Tea
Bon Voyage
Graffiti
The Rifle, The Jackal, The Wolf and the Boy


Saturday, 21 January 2017

Silence


Image result for silence poster

Silence, 2016
Directed by Martin Scorsese

Based on the breathtaking novel by Shusaku Endo, Silence is based on a true time period when Christianity was outlawed in Japan and how the Japanese tortured and executed any known Christians. We focus, however, on two Portuguese Jesuit priests who are on a mission to find their mentor, Father Ferreira, and debunk the rumor that he has forsaken their faith.

I had the privilege of finally reading Silence back in November. As a Christian, this book is incredibly profound and really got me thinking about my relationship with God, about His silence and about faith. If you have the chance, no matter your religion, this book is really great. And to be honest, I was a little nervous about seeing this film. Mostly because I haven't cared for any Scorsese movies I've seen. So I calmed my expectations, but still walked out of the movie really loving this film.

Silence, as a film, is beautiful, brutal, heartbreaking and breath-taking. Andrew Garfield is superb in this role and I feel like people looking back on 2016 will be perplexed as to why Garfield is getting nominations (including a probably Oscar nomination) for Hacksaw Ridge rather than this film. Granted I still haven't seen Hacksaw, but he is sublime here. I'm so glad to see Garfield return back to interesting films after a detour doing Spider-man. He truly is a very good actor and all the work he reportedly put into this was worth it. The character of Father Rodrigues is a complex character who is walking that thin line of trust and doubt and Garfield nails this. Adam Driver is also really good here (with a better Portuguese accent than Garfield) and it's a shame that his character disappears for a long chunk of the film. As well, Liam Neeson is also really good with the little time he is given. But another standout for me was Issey Ogata in the role of the Inquisitor. It's a shame this performance isn't getting any notices because Ogata really is great.

This was once perceived as an Oscar frontrunner but the poor box office returns and late/bad promotion seems this will be lucky to get a handful of nominations. What is potentially the most deserving nomination would be for cinematography. Rodrigo Prieto's work here is breathtaking. The opening shot stands out for me, the view of these hills covered in mist in Japan. It looks almost like a painting and it's completely beautiful, even with such violence happening at the same time. If nothing else, this is a beautifully shot movie and by far deserves a nomination (if not a win) here.

Silence is a film that I know very few are interested in, and even fewer will go see. This is too bad because it's definitely worth your time. And it saddens me hearing so many people say they "don't have time to see a 3 hour film". Please note this film is roughly only 10 minutes longer than Captain America: Civil War so you definitely have time to go see this because I know you had time to see that. This is an incredibly moving film about faith and doubt, even if you don't believe in God. It's a story about choices and what choices you make in the face of persecution and whether there are even right answers. Silence is a film worth your time.

9/10

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Hidden Figures


Image result for hidden figures

Hidden Figures, 2016
Directed by Theodore Melfi

Hidden Figures tells the little known story of the incredible black women who worked at NASA during the big space race of the 1960s. Specifically, it centers around Katherine Jackson, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan and their stories.

I've been looking forward to seeing Hidden Figures for a while now, and my husband was also very excited to see this. He's a big history buff so he always looks forward to films like this, that tell little known history stories. He also just has a mass amount of respect for people who did this sort of math by hand. I mean, seriously, how did we put people in space before we even had the internet or smartphones??

Hidden Figures is a fantastic film that is both humorous, but also incredibly moving. To be honest with you all, I feel like I was on the verge of tears for a good 1/3 of the movie. This movie is wonderful and heartbreaking and uplifting all at the same time. There were only a few tiny moments that felt manipulative but for the most part, it was just telling the stories of these women who were doing things that we had no idea about.

Taraji P. Henson is truly great here. She brings so much strength and character to Katherine (not that she needed it, but Taraji still brought it). This is a much different role than we're used to seeing her do on Empire and she brings so much vitality and grace. I really, really, really want her to be a spoiler on Oscar morning and get that nomination! And speaking of nominations, I'm not 100% sure why Octavia Spencer is the one getting the love here. I mean, she's good here but I prefer both Janelle Monae (who is wonderful and hilarious here!) and Taraji. And yes, Janelle needs to continue with her film career because between this and Moonlight, she really is talented.

Honestly, one of my favourite parts of the film is how it balances the Civil Rights message, but also the women are still able to keep a sense of humor. These are women that aren't competitive with each other, and they hold each other up. They are sisters and are constantly looking out for each other. We need more films like this! It's so refreshing to see a film this diverse without some sort of white savior or male lead. People are finally voting with their wallets and studios should take note that movies starring females (and females of colour!) do actually make money and people want to see them!

Please, continue to go show studios that we want films with diverse stories. This is a wonderful movie that will both make you laugh, but also move you.

9/10

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Golden Globe Predictions!

We're at that time of year again where award season is in full steam! The Golden Globes air tomorrow evening, Oscar nominations are out in a few weeks and all things awardsy will start to get clearer. So I've finally put together my final touches on my Golden Globe Winner predictions. Predictions for the Golden Globes are always a little tricky as they're the first non-critics circle to hand out awards and the first "mainstream" group, so it's always interesting to see if films that were loved by critics groups are loved here as well. As well, this is always where the race starts so presumed frontrunner may have upsets here and new frontrunners emerge (Eddie Redmayne anyone?). So it's exciting to see where this will take us, but also sometimes difficult to predict. I feel I've stayed pretty safe in my predictions, but we'll see come tomorrow!

Best Picture- Drama
Will Win: Moonlight
Could Win: Manchester By the Sea

I flip-flopped on this for a while but figured if the HFPA really loved Manchester, they'd have nominated Lucas Hedges as well. Moonlight has been the indie critics darling and I think it may just continue here. 

Best Actress- Drama
Will Win: Natalie Portman (Jackie)
Could Win: Amy Adams (Arrival)

I feel like Jackie hasn't been received overly well to non-American audiences so I'm not too solid on this prediction but she won the Critics Choice award so I don't see why I wouldn't predict her. However, t he HFPA loves Amy and she did win with NBR and Arrival has also been doing well at the box office. I could see her surprising for the win. 

Best Actor- Drama
Will Win: Casey Affleck (Manchester By The Sea)
Could Win: Denzel Washington (Fences) or Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge)

Evidence seems to point that this is Casey's to lose, but watch out for Denzel, who's film has been playing very well at the box office right now. However, I feel like we could be underestimating Andrew Garfield. Hacksaw was much more loved than the HFPA than we predicted and this may their way of rewarding Mel without actually rewarding Mel (plus he's the only of these 3 to be playing a true life character)

Best Picture- Comedy/Musical
Will Win: La La Land
Could Win: ??? 

I don't think anyone else stands a chance here. Florence Foster Jenkins seems a distant second. 

Best Actress- Comedy/Musical
Will Win: Emma Stone (La La Land)
Could Win: Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)

Emma winning seems as locked in as La La Land winning Picture. Again, Meryl is a distant second. 

Best Actor- Comedy/Musical
Will Win: Ryan Gosling (La La Land)
Could Win: Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool)

Ryan Gosling seems like the obvious pick here, but will La La Land really win Picture, Director, Actress, Actor, Score and Song (going 6/7)? The other Canadian Ryan seems like he could be a threat here, but I don't really see it happening. 

Best Supporting Actress
Will Win: Viola Davis (Fences)
Could Win: Michelle Williams (Manchester By The Sea)

This seems to be Viola's, no question. However, I wouldn't be surprised to see an upset here. Who knows? 

Best Supporting Actor
Will Win: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
Could Win: Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water)

I think Mahershala Ali should take this but again, I could see Jeff Bridges or even Dev Patel upsetting here. 

Best Director
Will Win: Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
Could Win: Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)

Both are relatively new to the scene but I think Chazelle takes this. La La Land is by far our overall awards frontrunner here and I think he'll take the directing prize here. 

Best Screenplay
Will Win: Manchester By The Sea
Could Win: Moonlight

Again, a battle between Manchester and Moonlight but I think Manchester By the Sea takes this one. The screenplay is beautiful, human and heartbreaking and I think they'd love to award Kenneth Lonergan this one. 

Best Animated Film
Will Win: Zootopia
Could Win: Moana

This category has seen a few upsets here in the last few years so I wouldn't be surprised to see one again but this should easily go to Zootopia. Right? 

Best Foreign Film
Will Win: Toni Erdmann
Could Win: Elle

I was tempted to put Elle since Isabelle Huppert got an acting nomination for it. I may regret this prediction later but I'm following the pack and predicting Toni Erdmann. 

Best Original Score
Will Win: La La Land
Could Win: Lion or Arrival

I think La La Land should easily take this but HFPA may go for Arrival (which was deemed ineligible by the Academy) or toss a bone to Harvey for Lion. 

Best Original Song
Will Win: City of Stars (La La Land)
Could Win: How Far I'll Go (Moana)

I mean, I'm still bitter "Drive It Like You Stole It" from Sing Street wasn't nominated here, but I think again La La Land should handily take this. However, I wouldn't be surprised if either Moana or Trolls (Justin Timberlake on stage!) steals this.