Saturday, 23 February 2013

Final Oscar Predictions

So here we are, just a few days away from the Oscars. Unfortunately I didn't actually see all the nominees for Best Picture this year (I only watched half of Amour because I dislike sad movies about old people, they make me too depressed. And didn't get around to seeing Zero Dark Thirty). However, here I'll be making my final predictions, and I'll update on Monday how well I did!

Best Picture
Will Win: Argo
Could Win: Lincoln
Should Win: Argo

I loved Argo, and I'm so happy it's winning everything. I found Lincoln to be pretty dull (I'm not an American, nor am I interested in history), so I'm stoked Argo is winning. However, the Best Director snub was surprising and shows The Academy liked Lincoln a bit more than Argo (12 noms vs 7). So naming Argo BP seems a bit reactionary to it winning everything else, but if they name something else, The Academy seems out of touch. Either way, I'm rooting for Argo and crossing my fingers for no upset.

Best Director
Will Win: Ang Lee- Life of Pi
Could Win: Steven Spielburg- Lincoln
Should Win: Ben Affleck- Argo. (Kidding, Ang Lee should win).

I'm going to break from most people's predictions and say Ang Lee is going to win. I thought his film was a lot better directed (or a lot more obviously directed, in a good way), than Lincoln. I adored Life of Pi and would love to see it take Best Director since Affleck isn't around to. However, most people are predicting Spielburg for the win, and wouldn't be terribly surprised whatsoever if he did win. I'm still rooting for Lee.

Best Actor
Will Win: Daniel Day-Lewis- Lincoln
Could Win: N/A
Should Win: Daniel Day-Lewis- Lincoln

As much as I would prefer to see Hugh Jackman or Bradley Cooper win (I didn't see Flight or The Master, so I can't comment on Washington or Phoenix), Day-Lewis was truly fantastic as Lincoln, and deserves the win, even if I'd rather see Wolverine take the win.

Best Actress
Will Win: Jennifer Lawrence- Silver Linings Playbook
Could Win: Emmanuelle Rive- Amour
Should Win: Jennifer Lawrence- Silver Linings Playbook

I adored Jen in SLP, and think she is incredibly talented. But Riva's name keeps popping up, and I don't really understand why. But I could totally see the Academy pulling something like this, and getting Riva to win. However, I'm sticking to it and saying Lawrence will win, and give us an awesome acceptance speech.

Best Supporting Actor
Will Win: Tommy Lee Jones- Lincoln
Could Win: Christoph Waltz- Django Unchained, or Robert De Niro- Silver Linings Playbook
Should Win: Christoph Waltz- Django Unchained

This is a tough one to predict. Pretty well all the performances here were fantastic, and each man here already has an Oscar, if not 2. I'm going to predict Jones for the win, because the Academy has love for Lincoln, and it needs to win at least more than 1 Oscar out of it's 12 nominations. However, I'd be very happy if Waltz won, even though he did only a few years ago. But De Niro also wouldn't be surprising. I didn't think much of his performance in SLP, it was nothing to write home about, but he would make a good winner too. But I think Jones will end up with the statue in hand.

Best Supporting Actress
Will Win: Anne Hathaway- Les Miserables
Could Win: N/A
Should Win: Anne Hathaway- Les Miserables

I am fully supportive of Hathaway winning her first Oscar. She was incredibly heartbreaking as Fantine, and she lost a lot of weight and cut her hair the role. The Academy loves when people go to lengths to get into character, and Hathaway doesn't even have a real challenger here in this category.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Will Win: Argo
Could Win: Basically, all the other 4 nominees
Should Win: Argo

I loved Argo, ok?

Best Original Screenplay
Will Win: Django Unchained
Could Win: Zero Dark Thirty or Amour
Should Win: Moonrise Kingdom

Another movie I very much enjoyed. It was quirky, and cute, and random, and I think it should pick up the award here, but sadly it probably won't happen.

Best Animated Feature Film
Will Win: Wreck-It-Ralph
Could Win: Brave
Should Win: I have no idea!

Sadly, the only animated film I've seen of the nominees is Brave, and I wasn't crazy about it, and have heard tons of good things about Wreck It Ralph, Frankenweenie and Paranorman, especially the first. I'm really apathetic in this category.

Best Foreign Language Film
Will Win: Amour
Could Win: N/A
Should Win: No idea!

I haven't seen any of them. Go Canadian film?

Best Cinematography
Will Win: Life of Pi
Could Win: Skyfall
Should Win: Either!

Life of Pi was such a stunning film, and that's mostly due to the wonderful cinematography. At the same time, my favourite part of Skyfall was the cinematography, but Life of Pi was just a smidge better.

Best Film Editing
Will Win: Argo
Could Win: Zero Dark Thirty, Silver Linings Playbook
Should Win: Argo

I don't know much about editing, but I want Argo to win all it can!

Best Original Score
Will Win: Life of Pi
Could Win: Lincoln
Should Win: Anna Karenina or Life of Pi

I really enjoyed the scores for all the films listed. Life of Pi was beautiful, Skyfall was Bondish, but had some great new themes and an Asian twist, Lincoln was classy John Williams, Desplat is my favourite ever so of course Argo was great, and Anna Karenina was just so Russian and beautiful. I'd love to see Marianelli win for AK, or for Desplat to finally win his first Oscar, but looks like Danna is going to swoop and steal if for Pi

Best Original Song
Will Win: Skyfall- Adele
Could Win: Suddenly- Les Miserables
Should Win: Skyfall

Okay, Suddenly doesn't really have a huge chance, but it's the second place. But Skyfall is such a stunning song, it so deserves to win.

Best Sound Mixing
Will Win: Life of Pi
Could Win: Skyfall or Les Miserables
Should Win: No clue!

I have very little knowledge in these sound categories.

Best Sound Editing
Will Win: Life of Pi
Could Win: Skyfall, Zero Dark Thirty
Should Win: No clue!


Best Production Design
Will Win: Anna Karenina
Could Win: Lincoln, Les Miserables
Should Win: Anna Karenina

I enjoyed AK, and it definitely deserves to win here, and in the costume category. And in score.

Best Visual Effects
Will Win: Life of Pi
Could Win: Are you kidding?
Should Win: Life of Pi

This one has absolutely no competition.

Best Costumes
Will Win: Anna Karenina
Could Win: Lincoln
Should Win: Anna Karenina

I'm totally behind AK on this one. The costumes were so lavish and gorgeous.

Best Makeup & Hairstyling
Will Win: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Could Win: Les Miserables
Should Win: Either of those 2

Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean in the galleys was incredibly done, and there was some fantastic hairstyling (Helena Bonham-Carter for one), but I think all the dwarves edge this one out a bit, but it could go either way.

And there we have it folks! My predictions! Yes I skipped out on the shorts and documentaries, but I really have no clue in those categories. Good luck to everyone tomorrow night, can't wait to see what the Academy will pull this year in terms of surprises!

Friday, 15 February 2013


Gladiator, 2000
Directed by Ridley Scott
Nominated for 12 Oscars, Won 5
Up Against: Chocolat, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Erin Brockovich, Traffic 

Gladiator is a movie I've seen several times, and a movie I really do enjoy. It's the story of Maximus, a general in the Roman army, who is very much loved by Marcus  Aurelius. The time is coming for Marcus Aurelius to announce the succession, and in an unseen move, he tells Maximus he would like him to become his heir. Stunned, Maximus takes some time to think about it. But sadly, while he is, Marcus's corrupt son Commodus is let known he will not be Caesar. Upset that he has never been good enough for his father, he embraces him, and then suffocates him, the world never knowing about what was intended for Maximus. Maximus is arrested, and while he escapes being executed, he doesn't make it home in time to save his wife and son. Sleeping at their charred feet, the next morning he is captured as a slave, and is bought as a Gladiator. He rises through the ranks very quickly, spurred on by his master (also an ex-gladiator who was bought his freedom). His only goal now is to become so great that he may be able to find Commodus again, and let him know that he is not finished with him. 

I'm actually a fan of Russell Crowe, and this is one of my favourite films of his. It's a movie, in my mind, that I always sort of associated with Braveheart as being similar, though Gladiator is a much better made film (that and I don't care for Mel Gibson). Usually I don't very much enjoy films with a lot of killing in them, but this movie was not overdone on the gore. 

The music in this film is a particular stand out to me. While the battle scenes frequently sound like a bit of a wonky Pirates of the Caribbean theme, the rest of it is a very fine Zimmer score. The touches from Lisa Gerard make the slower pieces very touching and peaceful. The pieces that Zimmer and Gerrard did together are so beautiful, and rightfully capture the sadness and hopefullness of Maximus. 

Joaquin Phoenix is also a standout in the film. The sneering, corrupt Commodus, he plays the part to a T. It makes me a bit sad that he didn't win that year, but that's that. 

The cinematography, too, was very good and beautiful, as well as the costumes. Overall, the film looked very authentic, and looked beautiful. 

Overall, this is a film I enjoy. It's not my favoruite film, or even close, but is a movie I always enjoy watching when it's on TV or whatever. I can't comment on whether it deserved to win, having not seen any of the other films that were up that year, but I enjoy this movie so I'm not complaining!

Acting- 9/10 
Directing- 8/10 
Screenplay- 7.5/10 
Visuals- 8.5/10 
Music- 9/10 Emotional Connection- 8/10 
Entertainment- 8/10 
Rewatchability- 7/10 
Overall Enjoyment- 8/10 
Overall Package- 7.5/10     

Total: 80.5/100

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Les Miserables

Les Miserables, 2012
Directed by Tom Hooper
Nominated for 8 Oscars

Les Miserables is one of the most popular, beloved and well-known stage musicals. It tells the story, starting and ending, with Jean Valjean, a prisoner for 19 years in the galleys for stealing a loaf of bread. Finally, he is released on parole, but breaks it so to make a better life for himself. Years later, he has achieved this "better life", and when he learns one of the workers at his factory was let go, and has a child she is trying to look after, Valjean decides to rescue this child after the woman (Fantine) dies. Valjean, while still hunted, rescues the child, Cosette, and both their lives are changed forever.

I must confess something. Being the bookaholic I am, I decided to read Les Miserables before ever having seen the full musical (I've seen 45 minutes of the 10th anniversary a year before reading). Yes, you read that correctly. I read Les Miserables. Unabridged, and I skipped no pages. And once I read the final page of the book, I realized I`d screwed myself over for watching the musical or the movie. No play or film could ever accurately portray how beautifully written this book had been; how complex, how heartbreaking, and how glorious it was told. Yes, there were many parts that were drawn out or unnecessary, but when you got to the meat of the story, it was so incredible. And once I read the entire summary of the musical, I knew I was in for a let down. Because translating a 1200 page novel into a 3 hour musical meant that many things were going to be changed, and many would be simplified.

The problems I had with this movie were not the films fault (unless we're talking costume inaccuracies, or historical inaccuracies, but that's different), but that it was over-simplified from how the book had told it. Cosette and Marius did not take one look at each other and were in love. Eponine was not really a main character at all. The Thenardiers were not funny, but were incredibly evil people (and had more children than just Eponine). But I digress.

The first half of the film was incredibly done. Hugh Jackman is the powerhouse of the film, and carries it all on his shoulders. His performance is constantly great, and his singing is really quite good. The live singing, I thought, was incredibly well done. The group numbers were all my favourites and sounded so so good. Anne Hathaway, on the other hand, completely and utterly broke my heart. Her portrayal as Fantine was so emotional, and raw, and broken, that I believed her completely every second. Her rendition of I Dreamed a Dream was heartbreaking, and had me in tears (like everyone else in the theater). For only being in the film a short period of time, her character was properly fleshed out and had the right amount of development (something that the second half of the film lacked).

Everything, right up to where Marius, Eponine, etc come in, this film was really, really good. I had thought I wouldn't like the film whatsoever because of the book, but was surprised I liked the movie so much. Until then. Whether this is how it goes in the stage musical, or if this is just the film, I'm not sure, but everything felt very rushed and under-developed at that point. While Marius was my absolute favourite (Jean Valjean a very close runner up) in the book, his character was extremely diminished. We didn't get to know him on a deeper level like we had Fantine and Valjean. Same goes with Eponine. I felt like I hardly knew her at all before she dies. Which was such a shame. Had there been more time to flesh out these 2 characters, and the other revolutionaries, this would have been much better, but it felt too rushed, and too shallow for me to really care.

Overall, it's very hard to come to a conclusion of what I thought of the film overall. The first half was incredible, well paced and heartbreaking. The second half felt a little more rushed, less character development happening. It makes it very hard to decide what you thought overall.

So overall, I know that the live singing was well executed, and brought a lot more emotional, and a lot more acting in to the film. It made things seem a lot more real. I feel like I Dreamed a Dream would not have been nearly as heart-wrenching had it not been sung live. It would've sounded too perfect and not broken enough. The acting was all superb. Jackman, Hathaway were great. And I adored Eddie Redmayne as Marius. Russell Crowe was not nearly as bad a singer as I'd kept hearing he was (he was decent, ok people?). The visuals were stunning and the makeup for Jean Valjean was excellent. But there were pacing issues, lack of character development, etc.

I'd say Rotten Tomatoes hits it right when it gives it a 70%. It wasn't anything fantastic, but wasn't horrible either. It was a decent movie.