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. 

La La Land


Image result for la la land poster

La La Land, 2016
Directed by Damien Chazelle

La La Land tells the stories of two dreamers, Mia and Sebastien. Mia dreams of becoming an actress but is working as a barista, trying to get her first break. Sebastien is a jazz pianist who dreams of owning his own jazz club, but can't even seem to keep any piano jobs long enough to save up. The two encounter each other several times before falling in love, and dancing, together. And while the two gross closer they start to wonder if they can have both each other and the things they dream of at the same time.

Whiplash was my #1 movie of 2014, soLa La Land was by far my most anticipated movie of 2016. I fell in love with each other the trailers and was hoping and hoping this would finally mean a very overdue second Oscar nomination for Ryan Gosling. And finally upon seeing this film last week, it exceeded my expectations.

Once we get past a somewhat weak though fun opening number, we launch right into the stories of Mia and Sebastien. Emma Stone plays Mia and I am really, really glad that Emma Watson didn't end up playing her  like she was originally was supposed to because Emma Stone was really perfection for this role. Stone brought so much to the role and made Mia incredibly rounded as a character. Also, can we talk about the amazing costumes she (well, and everyone else) gets to wear? The set designs and costumes are really lovely, giving it both an "old Hollywood" and a very modern feel.

And I know most people are talking about Emma Stone, but my true favourite was Ryan Gosling as Sebastien. Had Gosling been born 60 years ago, I feel like he would've been a huge musical star. He brought so much warmth, charm and grace to the role of Sebastien, yet he was also very fun and meaningful. Again, this role was perfection for Ryan Gosling and I can't imagine anyone else doing this role but him.

The music was also fantastic and never felt too cliche for musical music. This is a musical that's both nostalgic and self-aware, which I feel is a very hard line to walk but La La Land does it perfectly. It both loves the past but is also so forward-looking. Even the musical moments themselves are often self-aware of how silly breaking out into song is in movies. It's great fun but it's also incredibly introspective.

I don't really know what to say about this movie that hasn't already been said. La La Land is a crowd pleaser and that ending is truly fantastic. I won't spoil anything, but I haven't seen an ending that perfect and sad and happy and wonderful since Mommy. This is a film that leaves both with heartbreak but also a smile on your face as you exit the theatre. It's a film that can be both enjoyed on a very surface level but, like Whiplash, there is much more to discuss underneath about nostalgia and compromise and dreams and love. Chazelle does an excellent job of not just making a happy-clappy musical but a story with depth and complexity.

If anything, just go see this movie! It will be incredibly worth your time as the music is excellent, the acting is perfection and it'll leave you in a cloud of happiness. This is a wonderful, wonderful film.

10/10

Saturday, 24 December 2016

December Blindspot: The Maltese Falcon


Image result for the maltese falcon poster

The Maltese Falcon, 1941
Directed by John Huston

Wow, already at the end of another year! I have now finished two years of Blindspot movies and am trying to put together a list for my 3rd year. However, my final film to review is the noir classic, The Matlese Falcon.

The Maltese Falcon is one of Humphrey Bogart's earlier films. He had just come off the success of "High Sierra" and did "Casablanca" right after this film. The Maltese Falcon is a crime film that tells the story of Sam Spade, a PI, who gets in the thick of a bunch of eccentric criminals and the hunt for a fabled jeweled falcon.

To be frank, I actually didn't care a whole lot for the Maltese Falcon, and I feel kind of awful for admitting it. I found the film to be somewhat boring and a little hard to follow. I thought Humphrey Bogart gave a really masterful performance, and I really did think this would be a film I enjoyed. However, it was not to be, apparently, and I feel bad for saying so.

To be honest, I just don't really have a lot of opinions on this film. To be fair, my husband and I were both a little sick when we watched this, so our attention span wasn't the highest, but I don't really remember even all that much about the film itself. Like I said, I found the plot a little hard to follow as it always seemed someone wasn't who you/Sam Spade think they are and things are constantly twisting. That's not to say that this was a bad movie. Maybe if I give the film a rewatch when I'm a little more alert I'll enjoy it, but right now I found it a little disappointing. I'm a much bigger fan of Casablanca (who isn't, though?).

7/10

Monday, 19 December 2016

Manchester By The Sea


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Manchester By The Sea, 2016
Directed by Kenneth Lonergan

Lee Chandler is a janitor. He's quiet, prone to surliness and alone. But one day he gets a phone call and finds out his brother has died of a heart attack. Living an hour and a half away, he drives to Manchester, Massachusetts to where his brother and his brother's 16 year old son lived. Manchester, the city he grew up in and lived in for a part of his life before leaving. In the wake of grief, he finds himself newly made guardian over his 16 year old nephew, Patrick. But Manchester brings back old griefs, old heartaches and ghosts from his past.

Casey Affleck has been among my favourite actors for a while now. His work in The Assassination of Jesse James and Ain't Them Body Saints was stunning and it's been frustrating that he hasn't had a lot of good work since Jesse James. However, finally he landed the role of Lee Chandler. And now he's tipped (for now) to win an Oscar for the role.

Manchester By The Sea is not a showy film. It's a film about small moments and subtleties. It's a film I know I'll be thinking about for several days, still processing and digesting everything about it. It's a simple story, and one that's been told often. I can name several films about anti-social/awkward people who find their sister/friend/brother dead and now have to be guardian of a child and it helps them grow as a person. I can even think of a Katherine Heigel movie with that plot. But Manchester By The Sea wasn't like that. I mean, the story itself isn't breaking any new ground here, but the execution was flawless.

To be honest, it took me a while into the movie to see what the big deal was. For about the first 45 minutes or so I was kind of whatever on the movie. But finally, when we hit the scene that explains why everyone is talking about Lee Chandler, saying "THE Lee Chandler?", my heart broke and I was stunned. I won't spoil it, but from that point on, the film had me. This is a heart-wrenching film, but it never tries to make you sob in your seat in the theatre. It's simply a film that addresses loss and grief, and how we all deal with it (or don't). It's simple, but it's a film you'll be thinking about for days to come.

Casey Affleck here is spot-on for this role. However, this is not a showy role. There's not really any big juicy Oscar-clip moments. It's a subtle performance, but extremely nuanced. Casey is oozing with this sadness and desperation of Lee. He could not have given a better performance here. And then we also have Michelle Williams. It's a very small role for her, but she really packs the emotional punches here. Her scenes are much more juicy and emotional. I won't say much about Michelle's character, but she really punches you in the gut. And we also have newcomer Lucas Hedges (he was in Moonrise Kingdom! More people should talk about this). Lucas Hedges plays Patrick, Lee's nephew. He gives a great performance here and really nails how teenagers often deal/don't deal with grief and loss. They are lost, but don't know what to do. And Lucas was able to nail that.

Overall, this isn't a film I can see winning Best Picture, even though it is definitely one of the best films of the year. But this is a film filled with fantastic and must-see performances. Casey Affleck delivers a career-defining role here and it's not to be missed.

9/10

Friday, 16 December 2016

Lion


Image result for lion poster movie

Lion, 2016
Directed by Garth Davis

Lion is based on the true story of Saroo who, as a young boy growing up in India, got separated from his family and was lost on a train. He eventually gets adopted by a nice Australian family but he never forgets the events that led to him being separated from his mother, his little sister and his beloved older brother. As a young adult, Saroo learns of the new technology called Google Earth, and he sets out to try to figure out where he came from and how to get back home.

Honestly, I wasn't sure whether I would like Lion or not. I mean, I like true stories, and sometimes movies would've been better had they been true (ie Flight). However, I am often skeptical of whether the movie will actually be a good movie, rather than just settling for telling a good/true story. That being said, I felt like Lion mostly succeeded.

What worked for Lion is that it wasn't told in flashbacks. We don't go back and forth from past and present. The story telling here is linear, which I think works to the films benefit. Often film like this rely on this back and forth narrative, and indeed I expecting Lion to be the same way. But immersing ourselves in young Saroo's world for the first 45 minutes-1 hour was a treat. It was sad without purposely tugging on your heartstrings (too much) but was still a heartbreaking story of a young 5 year old, separated from everything he knows, in a part of the country that doesn't speak the language he knows. And young Sunny Pawar, playing little Saroo, is a treasure to watch. Sunny is incredibly adorable, but also feels very natural as a child actor. He just runs with the innocence and lostness of Saroo.

As we hit the second half of the film, we finally meet Dev Patel, playing grown-up Saroo. Dev Patel, most known for Slumdog Millionaire, has grown up. Only 17 when he filmed that film, Dev is now almost ten years older. And he has certainly grown as an actor. Dev is able to delve into the complexities of Saroo, both trying to embrace the world around him, but also trying to remember where he came from. As well, we have Nicole Kidman, playing Saroo's adoptive mother. While the early moments in the film of young Saroo and his new mother are heart-warming but also somewhat devastating, in their grown up years is where the film seems to lag somewhat. We aren't really given context to what their relationship is now besides that Saroo is a "good son". They are given a spattered relationship, at best, and I feel this drags the film down. However, Nicole Kidman is given some very juicy scenes and she plays them beautifully. I won't spoil much, but two scenes in particular had me teary.

Overall, the first half of Lion was by far the best, in my opinion. Almost completely in subtitles and led by a 5 year old, it is the most beautiful and heartbreaking. The second half of the film seems to drag a little too long and give too little context to Saroo and the relationships he has with others. However, Lion is a moving story about a man feeling lost, trying to find his way back home. It's certainly weepy, but that's in the very nature of the story itself. The cinematography is beautiful and Dustin O'Halloran's score is haunting and beautiful. It's not an overly memorable movie, but it's worth seeing.

7.5/10

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

November Blindspot: What's Eating Gilbert Grape


Image result for what's eating gilbert grape poster

What's Eating Gilbert Grape, 1993
Directed by Lasse Hallstrom

What's Eating Gilbert Grape is essentially a coming of age story set in a small town. Gilbert is a young man living in a small town, and has a lot of responsibility. His father passed away several years ago, he has a mother who is so overweight she barely gets off the couch (much less out of the house), has several younger siblings to take care of, but mainly needs to look after his youngest brother Arnie, who is mentally disabled. Arnie was never supposed to live very long as a baby, but is now about to celebrate his 18th birthday.

This movie is not an overly acclaimed movie, if I'm correct. However, what it's most known for is getting Leonardo DiCaprio his first acting nomination, and what some would say is his very best performance. To be honest, this was pretty much the only reason I put this film on my list. There are a lot of opinions about what Leo's best performance is (and I selected this film before I had seen the Revenant last year), so I really wanted to see what other people saw. Because it was 1994 and Leo was nominated for his first Oscar and was also up against Ralph Fiennes in Schindler's List, which is also another fantastic, for the history books performances. So when people always complained that Leo didn't win this Oscar, I always wanted to point to Fiennes also having lost that year, but I wanted to truly see which of the performances was more deserving.

In all honesty, I do actually think this might be Leo's best ever performance. To be fair, I haven't seen his performance in Wolf of Wall Street, but this performance is so unique from a lot of Leo's other performances. Maybe because this was essentially his first big role and what planted him on the map. But his performance here is so pure, and I feel like it's so natural and authentic of children/teens with autism. A friend of mine growing up had an autistic little brother and the character of Arnie and how he acted reminded me a lot of this boy/teen I knew. The mannerisms were just right and the writing behind it felt so true.

Besides Leo's performance, I felt the movie was just kind of okay otherwise. It was a pretty typical coming of age story for Gilbert. He's dealing with all his responsibility of constantly looking after Arnie while also trying to figure out his life and is falling in love. Johnny Depp did a good job here but he was thoroughly outshined by Leo.

Had Leo not been in this film, I would probably have forgotten about the film by now. It's a film similar to many I've seen before, though that doesn't necessarily make it bad. But the character of Arnie and his relationship with Gilbert is what makes this movie interesting.

7.5/10

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Sully


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Sully, 2016
Directed by Clint Eastwood

I roughly remember "The Miracle on the Hudson". It was January 2009 and I was in grade 11. I remember hearing about a plane landing on the Hudson River in New York (a city I had just been in a few months earlier) and thinking that was pretty neat. It was a good story! So naturally, I wasn't surprised to hear a film was being made several years later.

Sully is a pretty typical story of a big event that happened. It shows the major event but also deals with the aftermath, and even gives us a little of the beforehand. However, to me, Sully was a slightly roughly chopped film. There didn't seem to be a good flow to the scenes and they seemed to be in an odd order.

The film opens with the days following the "miracle landing". We follow Sully, the pilot of the plane, and how the landing has affected him. He's suffering PTSD and keeps seeing the plane he flew and landed crashing into buildings instead of landing in the river. We go through a few deposition scenes and then suddenly, and slightly unceremoniously, we get the flashback to the crash/landing. The sequence comes about 30 minutes in and lasts probably 15 minutes. We then cut back to Sully speaking to his wife on the phone and we continue with the aftermath depositions and trials, and while Sully is in a bar, seeing himself on TV, we get another long flashback, etc, etc. I think the film could've been better laid out. Either show the entire sequence at the beginning, the entire sequence at the end, or evenly sit in the present and flashback. But this film was just inconsistent in when they would flashback and when they would sit in the "present". It's hard to describe, but it could've been better laid out and flowed better.

Tom Hanks as Sully was an incredibly obvious choice. Just like Captain Phillips, it seems like a role that Tom Hanks has been playing for roughly a decade now. He does a fine job but it didn't feel like we were seeing anything new from Hanks. Undoubtedly Hanks is a great actor, but I feel he's been playing the same role for a while now.

Honestly, I felt like Sully could've been a lot better. The first 15 minutes showed the PTSD of Sully and his co-pilot, which was something I would've liked Clint Eastwood to focus on more. But after those 15 minutes, it's not touched on much at all. The film just touches on a few things like this briefly, but doesn't focus on it throughout the film. There's a lot of interesting pieces here, but it kind of felt thrown together. This film could've been really great, because it's awesome to see some good news sometimes. But this film didn't do the film justice. It felt like there was some created drama just for the sake of having drama (the question of whether Sully made the right choice in landing in the Hudson or if he should've tried to go back to the airport). But it was a fine film, though I don't think it deserves any sort of awards attention. It's a good film that isn't overly creative or original. It's very typical for this type of film.

7/10