Monday, 12 February 2018

Black Panther

Black Panther, 2018
Directed by Ryan Coogler

Black Panther marks the first solo outing of a non-white Marvel superhero. After making his debut in Captain America: Civil War, we finally see the origin story of T’Challa and his country of Wakanda. Marvel movies aren’t really my thing and I have a very small handful of them that I even like. However, having Ryan Coogler directing was enough to pique my interest and have me genuinely excited for this film. And let me tell you, it does not disappoint!

My big complaint about Marvel movies is they often want to have “very serious” stories while at the same time still have humour and I personally don’t often feel like they strike the right balance. And often what they try to be serious about is a very lame villain. However, Black Panther is a serious film but it’s correct in what it’s serious about, and that story is very nuanced. T’Challa witnessed his fathers (the King of Wakanda) death in captain American and now in this film he is seeing himself take over that role as king. Wakanda is an extremely technologically advanced country in Africa. They are at the forefront of technology because of the substance Vibranium that they’re able to mine. However, since their formation, Wakanda has not shared this technology and has put on the facade of being another third world African country, only helping when need be. So when Eric Killmonger comes along, he plans to challenge T’Challa for the throne and change Wakanda. I feel that’s about all I can say without spoiling too much. But this movie is about the struggle of a man becoming a king and the responsibilities on him.  How to keep the country functioning but how to change with the times.

Ryan Coogler, only 31 years old, has been making waves in the film scene for years. He brings incredible vision and energy to this film. This film is incredibly political and really tries to engage in the conversations the world is having about the treatment of black people globally, but mainly what’s happening in the US. But it’s also incredibly black in its depiction of the Wakanda culture, but also in overall feel for the film. And another’s I thing I need to praise this movie for us it’s treatment of its women! We have at least three major female characters in this film and all of them are incredible badasses. And all three of them in very different ways! And that doesn’t even include the minor roles of other women in the film. There is a tribe of warrior women in Wakanda, and T’Challa is constantly around strong women. Women may actually outnumber (or at least match) the amount of male characters. Women are seen as warriors, as caregivers, as a Q-like Bond character, as scientists and as Queens. The depiction of everyone in this film is complex and so fully realized. Even it’s villain actually gets to be nuanced and complex. By far one of Marvels most interesting villains.

Black Panther is a film well-worth supprtoing. It’s incredibly made and it finally tells of a non-white, non-Western hero. And I think this is something the world has really been waiting for. ANd Ryan Coogler delivered the movie this story deserves.

9/10

Monday, 22 January 2018

Oscar Nomination Predictions

Holy shoot, it's that time of year again. How did this happen? This year, Oscar nominations come out the morning of my birthday so I will probably just be spending that day freaking out about the snubs and surprises that are definitely due to come. This year has been unique that frontrunners haven't really emerged in terms of Best Picture yet (the acting categories seem to have solidified themselves barring some huge snubs) so the race is still pretty wide open. I'm predicting 8 nominees for BP but I could see it being only 6, but we could also finally get a full 10 this year as well.

Best Picture 
Lady Bird
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri
Get Out
The Shape of Water
Dunkirk
The Post
Call Me By Your Name
I, Tonya

Best Director 
Greta Gerwig- Lady Bird
Jordan Peele- Get Out
Martin McDonagh- Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Christopher Nolan- Dunkirk
Guillermo Del Toro- The Shape of Water

Best Actor
Timothee Chalamet- Call Me By Your Name
Gary Oldman- Darkest Hour
Daniel Kaluuya- Get Out
James Franco- The Disaster Artist
Daniel Day-Lewis- Phantom Thread

Best Actress
Saoirse Ronan- Lady Bird
Frances McDormand- Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Sally Hawkins- The Shape of Water
Margot Robbie- I, Tonya
Meryl Streep- The Post

Best Supporting Actor
Sam Rockwell- Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Willem Dafoe- The Florida Project
Christopher Plummer- All the Money In The World
Armie Hammer- Call Me By Your Name
Richard Jenkins- The Shape of Water

Best Supporting Actress
Laurie Metcalf- Lady Bird
Allison Janney- I, Tonya
Holly Hunter- The Big Sick
Hong Chau- Downsizing
Octavia Spencer- The Shape of Water

Best Adapted Screenplay
Call Me By Your Name
Molly's Game
The Disaster Artist
Mudbound
Logan

Best Original Screenplay
Get Out
Lady Bird
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
The Shape of Water
The Big Sick

Best Cinematography 
Blade Runner 2049
Dunkirk
The Shape of Water
Call Me By Your Name
Darkest Hour

Best Costume Design 
Phantom Thread
Beauty and the Beast
The Shape of Water
Murder on the Orient Express
The Greatest Showman

Best Editing 
Dunkirk
Baby Driver
The Shape of Water
Get Out
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Makeup and Hairstyling 
Darkest Hour
Woner
I, Tonya

Best Original Score
The Shape of Water (Alexandre Desplat)
The Post (John Williams)
Dunkirk (Hans Zimmer)
Phantom Thread (Johnny Greenwood)
Blade Runner 2049 (Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch)

Best Original Song
Remember Me (Coco)
The Mystery Of Love (Call Me By Your Name)
This Is Me (The Greatest Showman)
Evermore (Beauty and the Beast)
Prayers for this World (Cries from Syria)

Best Production Design 
The Shape of Water
Blade Runner 2049
Dunkirk
Beauty and the Beast
Murder on the Orient Express

Best Sound Editing 
Blade Runner 2049
Dunkirk
Baby Driver
War For the Planet of the Apes
The Shape of Water

Best Sound Mixing
Blade Runner
Dunkirk
Baby Driver
War For the Planet of the Apes
The Shape of Water

Best Visual Effects
Blade Runner 2049
Dunkirk
War For the Planet of the Apes
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
The Shape of Water

Best Animated Film
Coco
Loving Vincent
The Bread Winner
Ferdinand
In This Corner of the World

Best Foreign Language Film
The Square
In The Fade
Foxtrot
Loveless
A Fantastic Woman

Best Documentary
Icarus
Jane
Faces Places
City of Ghosts
Strong Island

Best Short Subject Documentary
Alone
Ten Meter Tower
Heroin(e)
Edith+Eddie
Heaven Is A Traffic Jam on the 405

Best Animated Short Film
In A Heartbeat
Dear Basketball
Lou
Negative Space
Cradle

Best Live Action Short Film
DeKalb Elementary
Watu Wote/All Of Us
The Silent Child
Icebox
The Eleven O'Clock


Saturday, 6 January 2018

Golden Globe Film Predictions

We're already here! The first awards show of the season. And as usual, the Globes are always a really tricky one to predict. They often go their own way in terms of winners (The Revenant over Spotlight, The Social Network over the King's Speech, etc). And this year seems to be especially murky. We don't have clear frontrunners in very many categories at all. The Shape of Water leads nominations, so will it win a bunch of those? Or will Three Billboards or the Post snug some? It's a tough one, but here are my predictions.

Best Picture (Drama)
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Call Me By Your Name
Dunkirk
The Shape of Water
The Post

Will Win: The Shape of Water
Could Win: The Post or Three Billboards
Should Win: Dunkirk/3 Billboards

The Shape of Water leads nominations and it seems like the type of film the HFPA would favour. However, I would still watch out for almost any of these films. But especially the Post and Three Billboards. Both have quite timely themes so if the HFPA wanted to go with some sort of narrative, they could with either of those 2.

Best Actor (Drama)
Timothee Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name)
Daniel Day-Lewis (Phantom Thread)
Tom Hanks (The Post)
Denzel Washington (Roman J. Israel Esq.)
Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour)

Will Win: Gary Oldman
Could Win: Timothee Chalamet
Should Win: ?

I haven't seen any of these movies yet so don't have an opinion on who should win. Gary Oldman seems the likely winner here, playing a beloved historial figure. However, we thought this about Natalie Portman last year and look how that turned out. I'd watch closest for Timothee Chalamet.

Best Actress (Drama)
Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water)
Meryl Streep (The Post)
Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
Jessica Chastain (Molly's Game)
Michelle Williams (All The Money In The World)

Will Win: Sally Hawkins
Could Win: Frances McDormand
Should Win: ?

So far, I've only see Molly's Game and while I'd be happy if Chastain won, it isn't going to happen. Frances McDormand is probably considered the frontrunner here, but I'm going with Hawkins. Given the amount of nominations, I think the HFPA will really love the Shape of Water.

Best Picture (Comedy/Musical)
Get Out
Lady Bird
I, Tonya
The Disaster Artist
The Greatest Showman

Will Win: Lady Bird
Could Win: Get Out
Should Win: Lady Bird

I loved Get Out, Lady Bird and The Disaster Artist (all in my top 5 films this year so far) but I think this one should be Lady Birds. Directed by a female, written by a female and starring women, I think that narrative alone wins the category. However, this film is GOOD so it's not an unfair win. However, look out for Get Out!

Best Actor (Comedy/Musical)
Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out)
James Franco (the Disaster Artist)
Steve Carell (Battle of the Sexes)
Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver)
Hugh Jackman (The Greatest Showman)

Will Win: James Franco
Could Win: Daniel Kaluuya
Should Win: James Franco

Honesty, Daniel Kaluuya (great as he was) feels like a distant second. This should (deservedly) be Francos, no problem.

Best Actress (Comedy Musical)
Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird)
Margot Robbie (I, Tonya)
Judi Dench (Victoria & Abdul)
Emma Stone (Battle of the Sexes)
Helen Mirren (The Leisure Seekers)

Will Win: Saoirse Ronan
Could Win: Margot Robbie
Should Win: Saoirse Ronan

I mean, it'd be crazy if Saoirse didn't win, but I could see Margot Robbie winning here. Her film doesn't seem like the Academy's cup of tea, but I could see it going over well here.

Best Supporting Actor
Christopher Plummer (All The Money In The World)
Armie Hammer (Call Me By Your Name)
Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
Richard Jenkins (The Shape of Water)
Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project)

Will Win: Sam Rockwell
Could Win: Christopher Plummer or Willem Dafoe
Should Win: ?

Word on the street is the HFPA loooves Three Billboards. I was split on predicting Frances McDormand for the Best Actress win but I think this is the easiest way to reward a film they love. However, watch for Willem Dafoe (Oscar frontrunner) or Christopher Plummer (surprise nominee)

Best Supporting Actress
Allison Janney (I, Tonya)
Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird)
Mary J. Blige (Mudbound)
Hong Chau (Downsizing)
Octavia Spencer (The Shape of Water)

Will Win: Allison Janney (I, Tonya)
Could Win: Laurie Metcalf
Should Win: Janney or Metcalf

I'm predicting Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress will be split between Lady Bird and I, Tonya. So this could very well be Margot Robbie and Laurie Metcalf winning, but I fee it'll be Saoirse Ronan and Allison Janney. Athough any combination of these ladies would be fantastic wins.

Best Director
Guillermo Del Toro (The Shape of Water)
Steven Spielberg (The Post)
Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk)
Martin McDonagh (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
Ridley Scott (All the Money In The World)

Will Win: Guillermo Del Toro
Could Win: Christopher Nolan
Should Win: Christopher Nolan

Since Greta Gerwig and Jordan Peele were snubbed, I really, really want Chris Nolan to win here. However, I continue to predict the HFPA going head over heels for the Shape of Water and also awarding it Best Director. However, there have been a lot of split winners in the past years so we'll see!

Best Screenplay
Lady Bird
The Shape of Water
Molly's Game
The Post
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Will Win: Lady Bird
Could Win: The Shape of Water
Should Win: Lady Bird

Please, PLEASE let Greta Gerwig win a Globe! (And then an Oscar!)

Best Animated Feature
Coco
Loving Vincent
The Boss Baby
The Breadwinner
Ferdinand

Will Win: Coco
Could Win: Loving Vincent?
Should Win: ?

I was kicking myself the morning nominations came out because I had removed Boss Baby from the predictions the night before. Oh well. This should be Coco's, no problem.

Best Foreign Film
First They Killed My Father
The Square
In the Fade
A Fantastic Woman
Loveless

Will Win: First they Killed My Father
Could Win: The Square

Sadly, I haven't seen any of these but I think they'll award this to Angie's film.

Best Original Score
Dunkirk
The Shape of Water
Phantom Thread
The Post
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Will Win: Dunkirk
Could Win: The Shape of Water
Should Win: Dunkirk

Hans Zimmer vs. Alexandre Desplat vs John Williams vs Johnny Greenwood vs Carter Burwell. But seriously, Zimmer vs Desplat vs Williams. All master composers. I'm leaning towards Dunkirk for the win but could easily see Desplat taking it for The Shape of Water

Best Original Song
Remember Me (Coco)
This is Me (The Greatest Showman)
Mighty River (Mudbound)
Home (Ferdinand)
The Star (The Star)

Will Win: Remember Me (Coco)
Could Win: This Is Me (The Greatest Showman)

Still not over the egregious snub of Sufjan Stevens for his song Mystery of Love from Call Me By Your Name. Stevens is an all-time favourite artist of mine and I'm still salty he was snubbed here. But really, Coco will probably win but there have been some wild winners over the years.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Molly's Game

Molly's Game, 2017
Directed by Aaron Sorkin

I have to say, I'm a pretty big Sorkin fan. I mean, I still haven't gotten around to seeing The West Wing (I know, I know), but I've been a huge fan of his movies and his TV show The Newsroom. I love the wordiness of his scripts and the intelligence of them. You can tell Sorkin really gets into the subject of his material. And the same is true for his directorial debut, which he also wrote.

Molly's Game is the story of an Olympic class skier turned office assistant/waitress turned runner of high stakes poker games. Molly Bloom is arrested by the FBI several years after she finished running the games and now the government wants her to spill the secrets on the players (who she won't name). Her players included Hollywood A-listers, sports stars, business men and members of the Russian Mob.

I was really eager though a little cautious when I heard Jessica Chastain would be starring in Aaron Sorkin's directorial debut. I mean, if there was anyone who could handle a Sorkin script, it'd be Jessica Chastain. I was just slightly nervous about Sorkin going into directing. I didn't want another Wally Pfister/Transcendence to happen. However, Molly's Game is a well-made, well-written film that is sharp and smart. Jessica Chastain is fierce as Molly Bloom and she was absolutely the right choice for her.

The Story, which is also a true story, is interesting. Details have leaked all over (that Ben Affleck, Tobey Maguire and Alexander Rodrigues were all regulars at her games), however the story kept things a little more anonymous. Somehow, someone thought to cast Michael Cera was one of the films villains (a Hollywood star who gets upset with how Molly runs her games and how large her tips are and threatens to end her), but weirdly I kind of loved it. (Rumor has it his character, which was called "Player X" in the film, is supposed to be based on Tobey Maguire, though Sorkin himself denies this).

This is a film that is very smart and it deserves more recognition than it's getting. Jessica Chastain does some great work here and Idris Elba (playing Molly's attorney) is also solid. However, it seems this film will not get much awards recognition aside from the screenplay category (though Chastain was nominated at the Globes she won't likely be nominated for an Oscar but she's in a close 6th or 7th).

8.5/10

The Disaster Artist

The Disaster Artist, 2017
Directed by James Franco

The Disaster Artist is the true story re-telling of the making of the movie The Room. The Room, since it's release in 2003, has become a cult classic for being an incredibly terrible movie. However, filmmaker Tommy Wiseau (writer, director, star and producer) and his best friend Greg Sestero didn't intend it to be so bad. But the drama behind the scenes makes for a compelling (and hilarious) film.

I'm going to keep this brief and basically just praise James Franco. This is some incredibly immersive work here and I wouldn't even be mad if he won Best Actor. Seriously. Franco as Wiseau is incredible to watch. He's able to embody Wiseau without making it a parody or disrespectful of the man. You can tell he was very passionate about this project and about getting Wiseau right. It's also an incredibly hilarious performance but it's by far his best performance I've seen from him.

The entire film itself walks that fine line of not making this film into a parody. Franco and the screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H Weber balance everything so finely. They allow us to laugh at Wiseau and the drama behind his making of The Room, but not too much. And they leave us able to sympathize for this man and to feel his pain at being ridiculed. We've all been outsiders in our life, and this is the story about an insider trying to become an insider using his own (misguided) means.

The Disaster Artist is an incredibly smart, compelling and hilarious film about a young man wanting to make it in acting and the friend he meets in acting class who has the confidence but lacks the talent and them deciding to fund their own film after years of Hollywood rejection. Tommy is mysterious and has an ego and so the filmmaking experience becomes a nightmare. However, it lead to one of the biggest cult films in history. Definitely go check out this film if you have a chance. You will be astounded at how good James Franco is in this!

9/10

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Golden Globe Film Nomination Predictions

It's that time of year again! Still three weeks left in the year and we're already getting our first set of big nominations. So far, 2017 has been an interesting year for film. By far, we don't really have any sort of frontrunners (at least for Best Picture), so a number of things could happen. There's also the political climate (including all the assault scandals currently happening) which could make for some interesting narratives. The first set of nominations is always tough, and I feel like my track record here is never too strong as the Globes like to do their own thing every so often so this is always a fun set of nominations.

Best Picture Drama
Dunkirk
Call Me By Your Name
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
The Post
The Shape of Water

Could Darkest Hour, Phantom Thread, Mudbound sneak in here? Possibly, but I think these 5 seem the most likely. 

Best Actress (Drama)
Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
Meryl Streep (The Post)
Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water)
Jessica Chastain (Molly's Game)
Jennifer Lawrence (mother!)

Jessica and Jennifer have the benefit of Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie being in the Comedy category. We could see someone like Kate Winslet (Wonder Wheel), Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman) or even Julia Roberts (Wonder). However, The Globes really like Jennifer Lawrence so I'd be surprised if she missed here. 

Best Actor (Drama)
Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour)
Daniel Day-Lewis (Phantom Thread)
Timothee Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name)
Tom Hanks (The Post)
Jake Gyllenhaal (Stronger)

To be honest, this could very well be our Oscar lineup and I woudln't be surprised (maybe sub Hanks/Gyllenhaal for James Franco?) but these all seem like good bets. My only question would be Timothee Chalamet who at only 22 years old would make him one of the youngest nominees. Globes are a little less biased against young men in lead categories but I wonder if he could be snubbed. 

Best Film Comedy/Musical
Get Out
Lady Bird 
The Big Sick
I, Tonya
The Disaster Artist

Honestly, The Comedy/Musical lineup seems so much more interesting than the drama this year. Get Out, Lady Bird and the Big Sick are three of my favourite films so far this year. However, I could see Battle of the Sexes, Downsizing, Baby Driver or even Beauty and the Beast sneaking in here. 

Best Actress (Comedy/Musical)
Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird)
Margot Robbie (I, Tonya)
Emma Stone (Battle of the Sexes)
Emma Watson (Beauty and the Beast)
Allison Williams (Get Out)

Allison Williams is my wild card pick. I debated between Judi Dench for Victoria & Abdul and Zoe Kazan for the Big Sick, but I wonder if the Globes might really like Get Out and could nominate it here. We'll see! 

Best Actor (Comedy/Musical)
James Franco (The Disaster Artist)
Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick)
Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out)
Steve Carell (Battle of the Sexes)
Tom Cruise (American Made)

Franco, Nanjiani and Kaluuya should be locked in here but the last 2 spots are a bit more wild. Watch out for Ansel Elgort, Matt Damon or even Adam Sandler here. 

Best Film Supporting Actress
Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird)
Allison Janney (I, Tonya)
Holly Hunter (The Big Sick
Octavia Spencer (The Shape of Water)
Tiffany Haddish (Girls Trip)

Could Tiffany Haddish be preparing for a Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids type of awards run? We'll see! But she did win Supporting Actress with the New York film critics and was nominated at the Critics Choice awards so it's not out of the question. However, watch out for Mary J Blige in Mudbound or Hong Chau for Downsizing

Best Film Supporting Actor
Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project)
Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
Armie Hammer (Call Me By Your Name)
Michael Stuhlbarg (Call Me By Your Name)
Idris Elba (Molly's Game)

Can both supporting men for CMBYN be nominated? That's the big question here. Idris Elba is also a bit of a wild card pick, but entirely possible. Watch out for Mark Rylance (Dunkirk) and Patrick Stewart (Logan)

Best Film Director
Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk)
Guillermo Del Toro (The Shape of Water)
Luca Guadagnino (Call Me By Your Name)
Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird)
Jordan Peele (Get Out)

To be honest, this feels so strongly like a 6 way race to me and I really, really want to see both minorites (Greta, a woman, and Peele, a black man) both getting in here. Nolan seems like a shoo-in for the win, Guadagnino has the critical acclaim, so I was battling between Del Toro and Spielberg for the last slot. I ended up with Del Toro purely because of its 14 BFCA nominations and the higher overall reviews. I could very well be wrong and we see either Peele or Gerwig snubbed here. 

Best Film Screenplay
Call Me By Your Name 
Get Out
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Lady Bird
The Shape of Water

Watch out for The Big Sick, Molly's Game or The Post here, but this is what really deserves the nominations in my opinion. 

Best Animated Feature
Coco
Loving Vincent
The Lego Batman Movie
Ferdinand
The Breadwinner 

To be honest, I don't really have clue about this category. However, I'd watch out for Boss Baby or Despicable Me 3. 


Sunday, 26 November 2017

Lady Bird

Lady Bird, 2017
Directed by Greta Gerwig

Lady Bird (birth name Christine) is a high school senior in Sacramento in 2002. Lady Bird is both ambitious and a poor student, confident yet not, and is such a well rounded character. She wants to get out of Sacramento and her Catholic high school and go to an East coast college “where culture is”. Her and her mom are always fighting, but it’s because they’re so much alike (even if neither of them quite realize it)

 Lady Bird is said to be semi-autobiographical of Writer/director Greta Gerwig. Gerwig, who is mainly known as an actress and writer, Lady Bird is her directorial debut. And this film is absolutely stunning. Has anyone made so perfect a film on their first try? (I mean, yes, Jordan Peele’s Get Out is another example of a perfect debut).

I feel like we all knew a girl like Lady Bird in high school. Or at least I did. A girl who was reckless, didn’t seem to care what others thought, had slightly awkward social skills (or again, just didn’t care what people thought of her) and seemed destined for trouble if she didn’t smarten up. Lady Bird as a character was incredibly complex and well rounded and this level of complexity for a teenage girl character is rare, though thankfully becoming more common (The Edge of Seveteen, Girlhood, etc). But also, the relationship she had with her mom felt real. The movie truly is a love story between a girl and her mom. They fight and disagree and always seem on the verge of never speaking to each other again,  but then they’ll find the perfect dress at the thrift store and they’ll forget the fight and talk about how perfect the dress is. I have to give such a hard off to Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalfe. Greta Gerwig said she wanted and powerhouse duo and this is certainly what the two of them are. Saoirse Ronan is wonderful and absolut perfect as Lady Bird. Seriously, I can’t praise her enough for the complexity and nuance and rawness she brought to the role. And Laurie Metcalfe as the mother is also so wonderful. They both really seem to understand the dynamic between these two women and their chemistry was beautiful.

Like Jordan Peele, I’m curious and excited to see both where this leads Greta Getwig and what she’ll do next. Right now, I’d love to see major Oscar recognition for this film, which seems likely. But I would love to especially see Gerwig nominated for director. I think she may be battling it out with Peele for that 5th spot but hopefully the Oscars buck some trends and nominate both a woman under 35 and a comedy-writing black man. But seriously, Saoirse Ronan is locked in for nomination 3 (at 23 years old!) and Laurie Metcalfe should also have no problem nabbing a supporting nomination.

But for real, do yourself a favour and watch this film. It’s beautiful and you’ll have that “teary cry smile” on your face roughly 50% of the movie

10/10

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