Friday, 28 February 2014

Final Oscar Predictions

Best Picture
12 Years A Slave
American Hustle
The Wolf Of Wall Street
Dallas Buyers Club
Captain Phillips

Will Win: 12 Years A Slave
Could Win: Gravity or American Hustle
Should Win: 12 Years A Slave

I have seen 8 out of the 9 nominees, so I do feel like I have a pretty valid opinion here. I am so pro 12 Years A Slave winning, and I'm a little nervous about this because I can see American Hustle snagging this. But I just can't fathom 12 Years A Slave, a film that good, losing. Gravity I'd be happy to see win, but I'm solidly on the 12 Years A Slave train. (Seriously, it is not the horror house people make it out to be. Go see it if you already haven't!)

Best Director
Steve McQueen- 12 Years A Slave
Alexander Payne- Nebraska
Alfonso Cuaron- Gravity
Martin Scorsese- THe Wolf of Wall Street
David O. Russell- American Hustle

Will Win: Alfonso Cuaron
Could Win: Steve McQueen or David O Russell
Should Win: Either Cuaron or McQueen suits me fine

Best Actor
Matthew McConaughey- Dallas Buyers Club
Chiwetel Ejiofor- 12 Years A Slave
Christian Bale- American Hustle
Bruce Dern- Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio- The Wolf of Wall Street

Will Win: Matthew McConaughey
Could Win: Chiwetel Ejiofor or Leo
Should Win: Chiwetel!!!

I am sooo tempted to predict a Chiwetel Ejiofor upset here, which could conceivably happen (and would be extremely well deserved) but the Oscars will probably be predictable and pick McConaughey

Best Actress
Sandra Bullock- Gravity
Cate Blanchett- Blue Jasmin
Judi Dench- Philomena
Amy Adams- American Hustle
Meryl Streep- August: Osage County

Will Win: Cate Blanchett
Could Win: Amy Adams
Should Win: Cate Blanchett

Best Supporting Actor
Jared Leto- Dallas Buyers Club
Jonah Hill- The Wolf Of Wall Street
Bradley Cooper- American Hustle
Barkhad Abdi- Captain Phillips
Michael Fassbender- 12 Years A Slave

Will Win: Jared Leto
Could Win: Barkhad Abdi
Should Win: Jared Leto or Michael Fassbender

Best Supporting Actress
Jennifer Lawrence- American Hustle
Lupita Nyong'o- 12 Years A Slave
Julia Roberts- August: Osage County
Sally Hawkins- Blue Jasmin
June Squibb- Nebraska

Will Win: Lupita Nyong'o
Could Win: Jennifer Lawrence
Should Win: Lupita Nyong'o

I'm nervous about this one, but can't really picture Jennifer Lawrence winning a second year in a row... I feel this could play a small impact on this race, and could see Lupita taking this. 

Best Adapted Screenplay
12 Years A Slave
Captain Phillips
Before Midnight
The Wolf of Wall Street

Will Win: 12 Years A Slave
Could Win: Philomena
Should Win: 12 Years A Slave

Best Original Screenplay
American Hustle
Blue Jasmine
Dallas Buyers Club

Will Win: American Hustle
Could Win: Her
Should Win: Her

I did originally have Her posted here to win, but I have a gut feeling American Hustle won't go home empty handed. And since I haven't predicted Jennifer Lawrence to win, I have a feeling it'll undeservedly take this one home. This really saddens me to write, since this will be the most undeserved win of the night, but such is the Oscars sometimes.

Best Animated Feature
Despicable Me 2
Ernest & Celestine
The Wind Rises
The Croods

Will Win: Frozen
Could Win: The Wind Rises
Should Win: Despicable Me 2? Only nominee I've seen

Best Foreign Language Film
The Broken Circle Breakdown
The Hunt
The Great Beauty
The Missing Picture

Will Win: The Great Beauty
Could Win: The Hunt

Haven't seen any, sadly, so I don't have much of a comment.

Costume Design
American Hustle
12 Years a Slave
 The Great Gatsby
The Grandmaster
The Invisible Woman

Will Win: 12 Years A Slave
Could Win: The Great Gatsby or American Hustle

Should Win: 12 Years A Slave, American Hustle or The Great Gatsby

While most have been predicting The Great Gatsby, if 12 Years A Slave has the support I really hope it does, I think it could scoop up a win here. It won over at the Costume Designer Guild Awards, and I feel like it could repeat again here. 

Production Design
12 Years a Slave
American Hustle
 The Great Gatsby

Will Win: The Great Gatsby
Could Win: Her or Gravity
Should Win: Her

Makeup & Hairstyling

Dallas Buyers Club

Jackass: Bad Grandpa
The Lone Ranger

Will Win: Dallas Buyers Club
Could Win: Jackass: Bad Grandpa
Should Win: Dallas Buyers Club

Film Editing
12 Years a Slave
Captain Phillips
 Dallas Buyers Club
American Hustle

Will Win: Gravity 
Could Win: Captain Phillips
Should Win: Gravity

The Grandmaster

Inside Llewyn Davis


Will Win: Gravity
Could Win: Her or Prisoners

Should Win: Really, any of these are worthy

Visual Effects
The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug
Star Trek Into Darkness
Iron Man 3
The Long Ranger

Will Win: Gravity
Should Win: Gravity
Could Win: Haha good one

 Sound Mixing 
Captain Phillips

The Hobbit: Desolation Of Smaug

Inside Llewyn Davis 

Lone Survivor

Will Win: Gravity
Could Win: Captain Phillips
Should Win: Gravity

Sound Editing

All Is Lost
Captain Phillips
The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug
Lone Survivor

Will Win: Gravity
Could Win: Captain Phillips
Should Win: Gravity

Original Score 
Her- William Butler, Owen Pallett
Steven Price- Gravity

John Williams- The Book Thief

Thomas Newman-Saving Mr Banks

Alexandre Desplat- Philomena

Will Win: Gravity
Could Win: Her
Should Win: Her

Original Song 
Frozen- "Let it Go"
Her- "The Moon Song" 
Despicable Me 2- "Happy"
 Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom- "Ordinary Love" 

Will Win: Frozen
Could Win: Despicable Me 2 or Mandela
Should Win: Despicable Me 2- Happy!

So tally that up and you have: 
Gravity- 7
12 Years A Slave- 4
Dallas Buyers Club- 3
Frozen- 2
American Hustle- 1
The Great Gatsby- 1
Blue Jasmine- 1

I'm pretty nervous about all these predictions. I'm not 100% sure on anything, minus Best Director, Actress and Visual Effects. I have a feeling anything can happen this year, and there will be a few unpredictable and upset wins. However, I feel somewhat confident in the picks I did choose. Good luck everyone!

Friday, 14 February 2014

Dallas Buyers Club

Dallas Buyers Club, 2013
Directed By Jean-Marc Vallee
Nominated for 6 Oscars
Nominations Include: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing, Best Makeup and Hair-styling

It's the mid 80's, and Ron Woodroof has been diagnosed HIV Positive. But only gay men get HIV/AIDS right? Ron is anything but. Constantly having sex with various women (even more than one at a time), smoking drugs, and drinking tons of alcohol, Ron can't believe it when he is in the hospital by chance for a work accident and is told his T-cell count is so low, the doctor's are even surprised he's still alive. He's had this cough for days, but thought nothing of it. Now he's only been given 30 days to live, and there's nothing the doctors can do about it. Ron may not seem too smart, but he immediately goes to the library and does extensive research about HIV and AIDs, and learns that his hospital is doing testing for AZT, a new drug that may cure HIV. It's only in trials, and while Ron begs with a doctor he has met named Eve, he cannot get into the trials. However, Ron makes his own way to get his hands on AZT. But when he discovers AZT may actually be making patients worse, he discovers a doctor in Mexico he may be doing some miracle work to make him better. And Ron decides to form a "buyers club" so that he can offer help to anyone who's willing to pay. While originally slightly homophobic, Ron partners up with Rayon, someone he meets in the hospital who also has AIDs, and is a transsexual, who is also desperate to live.

I've been hearing about this film for a long time. First, it was photo's of all the weight Matthew McConaughey lost, and then when his career seemed to be taking a complete U-turn, people were talking about potential Oscar buzz for him, even before the film screened. I know very little about the HIV pandemic that seemed to sweep the United States in the 80's. And I didn't know anything about Ron Woodroof's story. However, this film was incredibly interested and expertly told.

Matthew McConaughey, let's start with him. I've been solidly rooting for Chiwetel Ejiofor this awards seasons (to little avail, apparently). But I was always curious to what McConaughey could've done to be outshining my favourite, and everyone's initial favourite, of the year. McConaughey, for starters, completely immersed himself in the role. He lost around 50lbs for the role (which is extremely obvious upon looking at him), and looked hardly anything like the brazen, smiling star we're used to seeing. And while Ejiofor's role seemed to be a bit more showy, McConaughey gave a subtle performance in which he was completely immersed. I've always really liked McConaughey, and could listen to him talk forever. He has about the loveliest Southern accent. I'm glad he's finally doing stuff worthy of the talent he always had. Frankly, I'm not surprised at the work he's been putting out.

Jared Leto, on the other hand, was probably even better than McConaughey, in my opinion. While I haven't seen any of Leto's previous work, Leto was also completely immersed in the transsexual character of Rayon. The voice is perfect, the gestures, the attitude, was all so great. Leto really seemed to embrace it all, and gave a fantastic performance. I'm seriously so glad to see him get so much love for this (even though I'd have loved to see Fassbender win for 12 Years A Slave as well).

Overall, the movie was interesting, and was well paced. I don't really have much to complain about for this movie as it was really well done and well acted. While it won't win Best Picture, it's pretty much a shoe-in for Best Supporting Actor, and McConaughey seems a near lock for Best Actor. Guess we will see in a few weeks!

Excitingly, this was the final Best Picture nominee for me to watch. I'm passing up on The Wolf of Wall Street for personal reasons (aka way too explicit for me) so I'm really excited with this years batch. I enjoyed pretty much all 8 of the films I saw, and it seems a pretty solid year, in my opinon.

However, Dallas Buyers Club was another fantastic film to add to the roster.


Out of Africa

Out Of Africa, 1985
Directed by Sydney Pollack
Nominated for 11 Oscars, Won 7
Wins Include: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Art-Set Direction, Best Sound, Best Original Score

Out of Africa tells the story of Danish Baroness, Karen Blixen. Karen has married for convenience. She married a friend, both of whom want to travel and see the world. Before they wed, they arrive in Kenya to start a plantation. While originally supposed to be a cattle farm, but, Karen discovers upon arrival, they will now have a coffee plantation. Karen and Bror wed upon Karen's arrival, though neither love each other. At first unused to the society and culture, Karen is soon throwing herself into her work and responsibilities. These grow even more so when the First World War breaks out, and many of the men go off to war. While her husband is gone, she continues to run into Denys, a local hunter, whom she develops a close friendship with, while problems grow on the farm. Soon, when the men come back from war, Karen and Bror are growing more and more independent, leaving more room for the farm, various other projects and for Denys and Karen to grow together. 

I really love Meryl Streep and Robert Redford. So I really did want to love this movie. Robert Redford has always been so underrated. And while he didn't blow me away or anything in this film, he still did such a solid job and it's sad to see it go unnoticed. Meryl Streep on the other hand, seemed to rock the role of Karen Blixen. Surprising? Not really. But other than that, this film was pretty bland. 

The film seemed to be a cross between Gone With the Wind and the English Patient. I enjoyed Gone With the Wind, but didn't really enjoy the English Patient much. There wasn't too much of a solid story, but more just "the life of Karen Blixen". While "the story of" works for some films, this one was a little too slow and bland for it to be a truly exciting film. This seemed to have potential (between Pollack, Streep and Redford), but it just was too slow and a little too boring. 

However, the film was really gorgeous. There's a reason this won cinematography and art/set direction. The backdrop of the film is beautiful already, but the cinematography really captures the beauty of the country and brings it to life. However, it wasn't enough to revive this slow film. 

Like I said, I really wanted to enjoy it, but I didn't really. Like American Hustle, solid performances aren't enough to carry a film if the story and narrative isn't there. And it really wasn't here for this one. 

Acting- 8.5/10 
Screenplay- 6/10 
Directing- 7/10 
Visuals- 8.5/10 
Music- 7.5/10 
Rewatchability- 4/10 
Emotional Connection 5/10 
Entertaining- 5/10 
Enjoyment- 5.5/10 
"Total Package"- 6.5/10       

Total: 63.5/100

Friday, 7 February 2014


Her, 2013
Directed by Spike Jonze
Nominated for 5 Oscars, Including Best Picture

Theodore Twobly is lonely. Living in the not-so-distant future, he works at a letter writing company, and spends his time playing video games and plugged into his OS, a small ear piece which reads out his emails, the news, etc. Through his OS he has access to everything and anything. He is also in the stages of getting a divorce. One he doesn't really want. However, a new version, OS1, has just been released and it's the first artificial intelligent OS. Upon set-up, he gets quizzed and selects that he would like a woman's voice for his OS. And there he meets Samantha. Samantha, his new, artificially intelligent OS, is funny, vivacious and curious about Theodore's world and Theodore is instantly drawn in. While hesitant at first, Theodore finds Samantha a great companion, especially because he's so lonely. And as they spend more and more time together, talking, etc, they find themselves falling in love.

Her is definitely a movie for my generation and age group it seems. Theodore lives in a pretty hipster world where everyone seems to have some sort of really artsy job, all the men have mustaches, and are all connected to their OS's. Admittedly, the movie had a few very explicit scenes that the movie could've done without. This, I thought, was a large fault of the movie. They were uncomfortable to watch/listen to, and I felt the film could've done without (I'm speaking to you, adult chatroom dead cat choking scene).

However, the world building for this film really was in depth and incredible. The details were all there and it made everything seem a lot more realistic without seeming ridiculous. A man falling in love with his OS could've been really lame and ridiculous but the way Spike Jonze handled the world, the relationship and the characters really avoided that.

Not that I've seen much of Joaquin Phoenix's body of work, but this seems like an extremely different role for him. He really was quite exceptional as Theodore, and really conveyed his sadness, his loneliness, and his want to just be happy. As well, Scarlett Johansson did some great voice work as Samantha. It really felt like Samantha was there in the room with Theodore. As well, I really enjoyed Amy Adams in this as well. I really loved his curly-haired hipster look, it was super cute. I kind of wish I looked like that actually.

But what the film did most was ask us questions. And a lot of them, whether we know it or not. What makes a relationship a relationship? Does it have to be 2 people? Is it bodies? Or sex? Or connecting with someone's personality? Or just talking? Theodore goes through all these questions. He has people who are happy for him upon hearing who his new girlfriend is, and then he has other people, his ex-wife for instance, that tell him he's crazy, and that he was never good at relationships, and being in one with a computer must be perfect for him. But then there's Amy, who just tells him to do what makes him happy.

In the end, we are left contemplating what constitutes a real relationship, in a world where technology is everywhere. Can technology really fulfill us and make us truly happy? In the end, no, it doesn't, not truly anyway. Maybe temporarily, but not forever.

But the film also doesn't give us really clear answers. We see Theodore's several different relationships. We have him and Samantha, we see snapshots of him and Catherine (his ex wife), and him and Amy. All very different, but all definitely trying to say something about relationships. And all of them require communication, and in the end, maybe that's what a relationship needs. Trust, loyalty and communication.

Overall, the film was exquisitely beautiful. The cinematography was gorgeous, really capturing both LA and Shanghai as beautiful and futuristic. And I'm adoring the fact that this is getting so much screenplay love. Especially over American Hustle. The world building in this film was incredible and so dedicated. And Theodore is such a complex and lonely character, and all the women shown all have different messages to give us about relationships. While I felt Samantha was a little too human (then again, we're not used to AI OS's), Theodore was a very rich character and you really felt his pain and loneliness. Did he remind anyone else of Lennard from Big Bang Theory? Just Me?

Anyway, I loved the film, but the only thing that draws me back from loving it more is the explicit scenes which were uncomfortable and unnecessary. Other than that, it's a film that asks questions, makes you think, but is also well-written and beautiful.



Last weekend, my local $5 theater got the movies Nebraska and Her. My husband was away for the weekend, so I decided to catch the double feature (perfectly timed so I could see them back to back!), as these were 2 Best Picture Nominees I hadn't seen yet.

Personally, I was much more excited to Her than Nebraska. Nebraska looked pretty boring to me, and, even though I really enjoyed the Descendants, I wasn't too enthused. Her, on the other hand, is a movie that seems to have been appealing to people my age (And tumblr) so I was looking forward to seeing it very much! So I'll do rmy review for Nebraska here, and do a separate one for Her

Nebraska, 2013
Directed by Alexander Payne
Nominated for 6 Oscars, Including Best Picture

Woody Grant has won a million dollars! Or, at least that's what the flyer in the mail tells him. Woody, old, drunk, and a little forgetful, is determined to go leave his home in Billings, Montana and collect his winnings in Lincoln, Nebraska. At first, Woody sets out on foot, even though it's 850 miles and 2 States away. His wife, sons try to tell him he really hasn't won anything, and that it's just a scam to get you to buy magazine subscriptions. However, Woody is determined and won't hear a word against it. His son, David, decides to just take him to Nebraska himself, just to please him. Kate, Woody's wife isn't pleased but lets them go. When David and Woody get laid up in a small town in Nebraska where Kate and Woody grew up, they have a get together with family for a few days. Woody, still thinking he's won a million, lets the "secret" out. Woody becomes small-town famous, and David learns many things about his father he never knew.

I've already said that I thought Nebraska looked pretty boring. But I was definitely wrong! Surprisingly, I really enjoyed this movie! I guess it shouldn't be too much of a surprise as I really enjoyed The Descendants a few years ago. However, I never enjoy movies about old people and was surprised I enjoyed this so much.

Nebraska had really dry, deadpan humor, which I love. And I felt this movie really captured a real-life snapshot of being living in small Midwest towns. While Descendants and Nebraska are the only 2 Alexander Payne films I've seen, I feel he really is able to capture real life in ways other movies don't do as well. Especially so with Nebraska. Between Woody saying he'd buy a new truck and an air compressor with his winnings, to just how average looking the cast was (in a good, realistic way!). While the film was kind of random, I liked it because real life isn't like the movies, and this really seemed to capture the randomness of life and getting old.

The acting was pretty great here. Bruce Dern was fantastic as Woody. He was constantly out of it, off in his own world until someone calls his name. He's a little naive, but he has Kate to make up for that. June Squibb was really hilarious as Kate. Crass and loud-talking, she was such a fun character and really had me in stitches a lot of the time. While I really didn't like the movie Amour because it was about old people dying, this movie was more about funny old people. And I have discovered old people being funny is like, extra funny.

As well, Will Forte did a fine job as David. He was the rock, the sane mind, and was always there for his dad, even when it seemed ridiculous.

Highlight scenes of the film include David and Woody looking for Woody's teeth by the railroad tracks, and David first fools his father when, upon finding his teeth, tells his father they aren't his. When his father gets told it's a joke, Woody plays the same one back, convincing David they're not his. As well, the scene where David and his brother go to steal the air compressor from Ed Pegram, with Woody and Kate in the backseat. I won't spoil it, but it was a really funny scene. Also, David's cousins teasing him that it took him 2 days to drive the 750 miles was too good.

Overall, this was a really good film, and I really enjoyed it. Should it win Best Picture? No, not at all, but I really did enjoy it. And it's movies like this that I'm glad are nominated because I would've definitely missed out on it if it hadn't been!