Wednesday, 25 February 2015

February Blindspot: GoodFellas

GoodFellas is one of the few films that people mention when talking about movies that should've won Best Picture. As well, they mention it as one of the films Martin Scorsese should've won for. Somehow, I had gotten this far in falling in love with movies and still hadn't watched this one. However, I figured this would be a perfect pick for a Blindspot, for obvious reasons.

GoodFellas is a complete classic. It's one of those movies you hear a lot about, you hear people referencing and saying that it was "influential". I remember a lot of people mentioning GoodFellas when American Hustle came out last year, saying that Hustle was trying to emanate GoodFellas. And now that I've watched it, I feel like that's true. There definitely were some similarities (mainly the voiceovers). But, obviously, GoodFellas is the better film, and is a classic for a reason.

Putting it out there, gangster films are not really my thing. I appreciate films like The Godfather, but they aren't movies that I really get into. And GoodFellas was kind of the same for me. The excessive language, the violence, those just aren't really my things. The excessiveness of Scorsese in general is not usually my thing. But I'm not trying to say I didn't like GoodFellas. GoodFellas is a really good film. It's well made and really interesting. It's based on a true story, so the true-look into gangster life is really interesting.

It starts with Ray Liotta as Henry Hill. Henry wanted to be a gangster all his life. And growing up in an Italian neighbourhood, he joins up pretty early in life. The gang is his family. When grown up,  he commits a robbery with fellow gangsters, Jimmy and Tommy. Jimmy and Tommy are notorious and determined. They start killing off most others involved in this robbery and start ascending the mob ranks. But Henry feels at a loss. He always seems uncomfortable with killing. At least the way Jimmy and Tommy kill, with seemingly no cares.

GoodFellas is a movie that doesn't exactly have a plot. Or at least it didn't feel like it did. It's about the daily life in the mob and the pros/cons and perks/consequences of everything. It spans a few decades in time and focuses on Henry and how he finds himself getting deeper and deeper and then finding himself at a loss when he realizes who exactly wants him killed. In a way, this film kind of meandered. It was about Henry's life in the mob more than about a specific few events. I mean, it was interesting and well done but at times it felt a little laggy to me.

I was kind of disappointed that Robert De Niro wasn't in this more. I'm slowly working my way through some of De Niro's work and I know he's the front and centre guy on the poster so I assumed he was going to be playing a bigger role. I mean, his role is big, but I had wrongly assumed he was the star. So that was a little disappointing. De Niro is fantastic as always, but the funnest to watch was Joe Pesci. Can I just note that GoodFellas came out just a few weeks before Home Alone? So it was kind of really fun watching Harry from Home Alone play a smarter and more exaggerated and violent version of Harry for GoodFellas. Pesci as Tommy was really fantastic. He was completely unsympathic and was completely irredeemable. He is terribly ruthless and is so gun happy. Most of the film he spent just killing people. But he was fantastic in the part. The Oscar he won was definitely well-deserved, in my opinion.

Honestly, I can see why people are kind of pissed that Dances With Wolves won over this. I mean, I know people are just upset that Dances With Wolves won in general (a film that definitely didn't age too well). But yeah, it just sort of seems like the salt in the wounds of people who are mad this didn't win Best Picture. I understand the frustration and I'm kind of there with you on that one.

I'm glad I've finally gotten around to this film. It has definitely been influential, and it is definitely better than the other two Scorsese films I watched (which are Hugo and the Departed. Though The Departed had more focus which I did like). But it's more that I'm glad I got around to this classic and can finally say that I have in fact seen it!

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

2015 Oscar comments and winners!

So the Oscars happened on Sunday. What did you guys think? I actually found my predictions went overall pretty well. I got only four wrong, which is much better than I thought would happen, even if it's worse than I did last  year (with only 2 wrong).

The show itself I was fine with. I actually mildly enjoyed Neil Patrick Harris. I know I'm probably one of the only ones but I kind of enjoyed all the deadpanning. But I agree that he contributed much less to the show than Ellen did last year. Can Jimmy Fallon please host next year? That would be my favourite. Or even Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake together. Would that ever happen? Or can Tina and Amy just host everything? Also, that Lady Gaga Sound of Music tribute was so unnecessary, but it was so beautifully done! I knew she was talented, but man, she rocked it!

Also, probably one of the coolest things about the Oscars this year is that all 8 Best Picture nominees won an Oscar. I really like that. All of the top films of the year were the best in at least 1 field. I wish this happened more often, honestly. And this is the first time it has happened since the field expanded.

Anyway, I've listed the winners below and I'll be giving a few of my thoughts on each and whether I guessed correctly.My results were 17/21 (81%, which is pretty good, considering!)

Best Picture

I am so glad I swapped to Birdman last minute. While I personally prefer Boyhood, I think Birdman is a really different and interesting winner. It's unique and different from all the other films that have won in the past. Yes, it's another film about actors but it's still something different to win and I'm glad about that. 

Best Director
Alejandro González Iñárritu - Birdman
My Prediction: Richard Linklater- Boyhood

I really thought Linklater would win here. But then started to doubt it when Birdman won Original Screenplay. However, fair enough that they don't split up picture and director again. Inarritu did some great work as a director here so it's a fair win. 

Best Actor
Eddie Redmayne - The Theory of Everything
My Prediction: Michael Keaton- Birdman

I stubbornly stuck by Keaton thinking he might get a sentimental win. I was definitely wrong. However, unlike most people, I have no problem with Redmayne winning. I think he's kind of precious and I like the honest enthusiasm. Honestly, both him and Keaton pretty equally deserved it so I'm happy for him!

Best Actress
Julianne Moore - Still Alice

Does anyone really care? I mean, besides that she finally has an Oscar? 

Best Supporting Actor
J.K. Simmons - Whiplash

I'm so glad he won. I know it was obvious, but his work in Whiplash is fantastic. So deserved.

Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette - Boyhood

While I personally prefered Ethan Hawke in Boyhood, I thought she was great. Also, he acceptance speech was confusing and random. Kind of cool but I was just kind of like 'what is happening?' 

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
The Imitation Game
Graham Moore

I know Harvey Weinstein's big film wouldn't walk away empty handed. I was hoping for a Whiplash upset though.. 

Writing (Original Screenplay)
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris and Armando Bo
My prediction: The Grand Budapest Hotel

I'm disappointed GBH didn't win here. I think it so deserved it. But I understand why Birdman won. Fair enough, it was well written and unique as well. I just prefer Wes Anderson.  

Animated Feature Film
Big Hero 6
My Prediction: How to Train Your Dragon 2

If you look at my predictions, I actually wasn't confident HTTYD2 would win here but wasn't sure what else to pick. I guess I shouldn't have under-estimated Big Hero 6

Documentary (feature)

Foreign Language Film

Film Editing
Tom Cross

Probably one of the most deserved awards of the night, in my opinion. I was so happy this pulled off a win. The editing was fantastic. The more awards for Whiplash, the better!

Emmanuel Lubezki

I think we all knew Lubezki was going to win again. Once again, super original and innovative. 

Production Design
The Grand Budapest Hotel

Another really deserved win. And probably the most deserving win for GBH. 

Visual Effects

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Milena Canonero

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Music (Original Score)
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Alexandre Desplat

This happened!! Alexandre Desplat finally has his Oscar! And for probably my favourite score of his! Seriously, I was so happy when this happened! 

Music (Original Song)

That performance, man. Too good! I'm glad this won. 

Sound Editing
American Sniper

I predicted the mixing/editing split. Yay! 

Sound Mixing

The more for Whiplash the better, don't even care!

Thursday, 19 February 2015

2015 Oscar Predictions

A lot of these predictions were actually really difficult to make. Boyhood vs Birdman? Keaton vs Redmayne? Inarritu or Linklater? Can Whiplash win everything except Best Picture? Will American Sniper win things it doesn't deserve? Big questions, a lot of them I'm still not 100% sure I made the correct choice, but we'll see in a few days time. (Note: I didn't bother with the shorts because I have no clue, really)

I've laid out my Will Win and Should Win (along with a few "could win"). It was a lot of tough picks and my heart just simply wishes the Grand Budapest Hotel and Whiplash could win everything. Take a look below and feel free to share your own predictions!

American Sniper
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything

Will Win: Birdman
Could Win: Boyhood
Should Win: Whiplash

I originally had Boyhood winning here. I even posted it in my official predictions. But I've decided on a last minute change to put Birdman as the Best Picture winner. I had my doubts about Birdman prevailing but with wins at PGA, SAG, DGA and now at the Indie Spirits (where Boyhood was expected to win, but did not) I've had a last minute change of mind. I may be kicking myself in 24 hours but I'm now more certain that Birdman will win rather than Boyhood. Kind of a shame really as I personally prefered Boyhood, but I feel Birdman is quite an original film to win. Although, I'm still not even like 80% sure this is going to happen, but I'm going to stick with it.

Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman)
Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)
Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher)

Will Win: Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
Could Win: Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman)
Should Win: Richard Linklater (Boyhood)

I feel like whichever way Best Picture ends up swinging, that Linklater is the most deserving director here. The 12 year "gimmick" is handled so well under his direction. This was Linklater's brain child and it shows. Long and hard work deserves an Oscar. I think this may be the third year in a row for a Picture/Director split, but I do see why.  

Steve Carell (Foxcatcher)
Bradley Cooper (American Sniper)
Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game)
Michael Keaton (Birdman)
Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)

Will Win: Michael Keaon (Birdman)
Could Win: Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)
Should Win: Michael Keaton or Eddie Redmayne

I know Eddie Redmayne is the favourite to win, but to me, he just seems too young and new and Michael Keaton should be taking this one. He's maybe playing a version of himself and it's a career high for him after a long career. I can't really see it going unrewarded in the end. 

Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night)
Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything)
Julianne Moore (Still Alice)
Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)
Reese Witherspoon (Wild)

Will Win: Julianne Moore (Still Alice)
Could Win: I don't think anyone it touching Julianne Moore
Should Win: Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)

Seriously, no one is touching Julianne Moore. Like, I don't even have any idea who people would consider 2nd place. And the Academy clearly didn't care for Gone Girl, with Rosamund Pike being the sole nomination. As awesome as it would be to happen, it won't. Julianne is walking away with this, easy. 

Robert Duvall (The Judge)
Ethan Hawke (Boyhood)
Edward Norton (Birdman)
Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher)
J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)

Will Win: JK Simmons (Whiplash)
Could Win: I think Edward Norton has the closest shot, but it's not happening. 
Should Win: JK Simmons (Whiplash)

Seriously, JK Simmons can't and shouldn't be beat in this category. He is acting category that pretty much everyone agrees that the most deserving person is actually winning everything. It's that one category that pretty much everyone agrees is the right choice. 

Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)
Laura Dern (Wild)
Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game)
Emma Stone (Birdman)
Meryl Streep (Into the Woods)

Will Win: Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)
Could Win: No one else seems to be a real competitor. 
Should Win: Patricia Arquette (Boyhood) or Emma Stone (Birdman)

Again, Patricia Arquette has been walking with everything and I also don't know who is a really runner-up to her. 

Jason Dean Hall (American Sniper)
Graham Moore (The Imitation Game)
Paul Thomas Anderson (Inherent Vice)
Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything)
Damien Chazelle (Whiplash)

Will Win: Graham Moore (The Imitation Game)
Could Win: Damien Chazelle (Whiplash)
Should Win: Damien Chazelle (Whiplash)

The Imitation Game won the WGA last weekend but it hasn't gone up against Damien Chazelle's Whiplash yet (this is the only time it's competing as Adapted instead of Original). So I like to think that Whiplash has a legitimate chance. But I don't think Harvey's big film will walk away empty handed this year. 

Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris and Armando Bo (Birdman)
Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman (Foxcatcher)
Wes Anderson, Hugo Guinness (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler)

Will Win: Wes Anderson, Hugo Guinness (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
Could Win: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris and Armando Bo (Birdman)
Should Win: Wes Anderson, Hugo Guinness (The Grand Budapest Hotel)

Of all the awards Wes Anderson has pretty much always been deserving of, Original Screenplay is certainly one of them. One of the most creative guys and definitely my favourite filmmaker, I'm excited that this is most likely going to win. Although, tough competition comes from Birdman and I feel like if things swing in Birdman's favour here, we're probably looking at a Best Picture and possibly Director win as well. 

Big Hero 6
The BoxTrolls
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Song of the Sea
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

Will Win: How To Train Your Dragon 2
Could Win: The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
Should Win: How To Train Your Dragon 2

I know How to Train Your Dragon 2 is the big frontrunner but I wonder if it will actually win in the end. The Oscars often go with some unconventional picks here and I could see The Tale of the Princess Kaguya being it, but I'm going to stick with HTTYD2 because it's awesome and deserves to win (especially since the first one didn't)

Finding Vivian Maier
Last Days in Vietnam
The Salt of the Earth

Will Win: CitizenFour

Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach (American Sniper)
Sandra Adair (Boyhood)
Barney Pilling (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
William Goldenberg (The Imitation Game)
Tom Cross (Whiplash)

Will Win: Tom Cross (Whiplash)
Could Win: Sandra Adair (Boyhood)
Should Win: Tom Cross (Whiplash)

I feel like this is one of my riskier picks of the night since Boyhood is mostly seen as the frontrunner (And rightly so, it is a lot of footage to go through and everything feels really seamless). But the first time I ever noticed editing (in a good way) was Whiplash. So much of the energy and tension that Whiplash has is from the editing. The quick and on-time cuts are spectacular (and that ending, my goodness!). Fingers crossed here!

Emmanuel Lubezki (Birdman)
Robert D. Yeoman (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
Ryszard Lenczewski and Lukasz Zal (Ida)
Dick Pope (Mr. Turner)
Roger Deakins (Unbroken)

Will Win: Emmanuel Lubezki (Birdman)
Could Win: Robert D. Yeoman (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
Should Win: Emmanuel Lubezki (Birdman)

Honestly, I think Lubezki is walking away easy again, second year in a row. The one-take effect of Birdman is one of the most interesting things about the film and Lubezki did it flawlessly. 

Alexandre Desplat (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
Alexandre Desplat (The Imitation Game)
Hans Zimmer (Interstellar)
Johann Johannsson (The Theory of Everything)
Gary Yershon (Mr. Turner)

Will Win: Alexandre Desplat (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
Could Win: Johann Johannsson (The Theory of Everything)
Should Win: Pretty much any of these would be fantastic choices.

Honestly, I'd be so happy with any of these winning. The Grand Budapest Hotel is one of my favourite scores of the year and one of my all-time favourites of Desplat's. It's unconventional and fits the film like a glove. But everyone here is a pretty worthy nominee (note: I haven't listed to Mr Turner's score at all, so that I don't actually know if it was worthy). Hans Zimmer has only won for The Lion King and I'd love to see him win a 2nd Oscar but I think the Academy's obvious liking for GBH will get Desplat his first and overdue win. 

"Lost Stars" from Begin Again
"I'm Not Gonna Miss You" from Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me
"Everything is Awesome" from The Lego Movie
"Glory" from Selma
"Grateful" from Beyond the Lights

Will Win: "Glory" from Selma
Could Win: "Everything is Awesome" from The Lego Movie
Should Win: I really don't care :P 

As much as I'd love to see Everything is Awesome winning here, I think Selma has this one in the bag.

American Sniper

Will Win: Whiplash
Could Win: American Sniper
Should Win: Whiplash

I honestly don't know much about Sound Mixing, but Whiplash is my favourite and the more it wins, the better. Again, I'm pretty unsure about this, but I know this has gone to musical films in the past, so that's what I'll go with.

American Sniper
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Will Win: American Sniper
Could Win: Birdman
Should Win: ??

Again, I don't know much about Sound Editing, but I feel like American Sniper will take this one as well.

Captain America: The winter Soldier
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Guardians of the Galaxy
X-Men: Days of Future Past

Will Win: Interstellar
Could Win: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Should Win: Interstellar

I'm kind of split whether this will go to Interstellar of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Either one is a worthy winner but I though Interstellar was really good and personally preferred the effects in it so would be happy to see it win.

Milena Canonero (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
Mark Bridges (Inherent Vice)
Colleen Atwood (Into the Woods)
Anna B. Sheppard (Maleficent)
Jacqueline Durran (Mr. Turner)

Will Win: Milena Canonero (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
Could Win: Colleen Atwood (Into the Woods)?
Should Win: Milena Canonero (The Grand Budapest Hotel)

The biggest competition for GBH is Into the Woods and Maleficent. But I think GBH should walk away with this. 

The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Into the Woods
Mr. Turner

Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Could Win: Into the Woods
Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

This looks like an easy win for GBH. Another thing Wes Anderson is great at is Production Design and it's crazy that none of his films have won this 

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Guardians of the Galaxy

Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Could Win: Foxcatcher
Should Win: Either of the Will/Could would be fine by me

Wild Tales

Will Win: Ida

American Sniper

American Sniper, 2014
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Nominated for 6 Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actor

American Sniper tells the story of Chris Kyle, the most lethal in US Military History. Chris, born and raised in Texas and joins the SEALs, going on 4 tours of Iraq. But it's not easy. He's married and he's having kids and struggling between all the kills that he is making and how to balance having a normal life with the family he has left behind.

Just as a preface, I finished reading the book this film is based on roughly 4 hours before I sat down in the theatre to watch this. Things were extremely fresh in my mind from Chris Kyle's own account and thus it did make it difficult to separate. Most of the events in the film are completely fictionalized (if Kyle's autobiography is to be believed), so I found it difficult to just watch the movie, instead of "fact checking" and just being really nitpicky and internally complaining about why things got changed (either for the better or the worse)

Anyway, American Sniper is a film I feel like I have seen several times before and most of those films have done it better than Sniper. Honestly, there just isn't anything done overly well or particularly special about this movie. The film seems to stay at the bare minimum surface level and resorts characters to cliched lines and essentially no character development- if we even get to know them at all. The only people we really get to know are Chris, himself and his girlfriend/wife Taya. We see them meeting and dating and getting married. But even then, this is done on such a surface level that we don't really get to know them at all. We are kept at an arms length from their relationship. Even Chris, we only roughly get to know. We know he was told to be the "sheep dog" the one to defend the weaker and to finish fights. He's a cowboy but is a patriotic American who is mad when people do anything to attack America and so joins the army. He's a good shot and apparently never takes a bad shot. Everything is justified. But he starts to struggle when he returns home. He isn't always mentally there, and something, a noise or someone cutting him off while driving brings him back to Iraq. But these things are show in very obvious ways. There's not very much subtlety or nuance.

However, Bradley Cooper does work with the material he has and gives an extremely fine performance. It's very different from anything he's done before and he, again, brings his A-game and really makes you believe he's a cowboy from Texas who loves his country passionately. He's reigned in and controlled, very different from the neurotic characters he's played for the last few years. Cooper's nomination for Best Actor is deserved. As well, the film is beautifully shot and captured.

My biggest problem was it's portrayal of the Iraqi people. It seems 99% of the Iraqi people we encounter are all "savages" as the film and real-life Chris Kyle likes to call them. They're all bad guys and have it out for the US Army. Even when you think you have finally encountered good characters, you haven't. And most of the Iraqi people don't have lines or names. While the film isn't screaming that Iraq is evil and so are it's people, but the (most likely) unconscious way that everyone they encounter in Iraq has guns and grenades and is "evil" is something that I have a big problem with. I know I personally have not been to Iraq, but to make a generalization like this is something I find problematic. It gives the wrong impression. I won't get into this topic more because I'm not educated enough and have strong opinions that I don't want to get in to, but this was a large problem for me. Again, it's not something the film maybe tried intentionally to do, but it did it and that's the message it sends out.

American Sniper is just a film that we have all seen before. It states the obvious and is riddled with cliches. Granted, Bradley Cooper gives one of his best performances to do and undoubtedly it's well shot and technically well made. But the direction and the screenwriting feels exceptionally lazy. I can't help but feel Steven Spielberg (who was initially attached) may have given us a better film. Or better yet, had Kathryn Bigelow been directing this, I think this film would've been fantastic. The source material and content has potential, but I feel like Clint Eastwood just didn't give it even close to his all. It almost feels like he and the screenwriter were just sleepwalking through, putting out a "decent" movie without needing to try to hard because, hey, who is going to slam a movie about an American "hero"? I know Clint Eastwood's intention was that he was making an anti-war film, but this only came across every so often, and it wasn't a very clear message.


Friday, 6 February 2015

guardians of the galaxy + breaking bad + the before trilogy

My life has been taken up by just watching movies and Breaking Bad. Mainly Breaking Bad.

We've finally been racing through it and now we're finally done Season 4. Does anyone else feel like it almost could've ended there? I mean, it left a few things loose, but it could've easily wrapped up there and I think I would've been happy. I mean, I haven't been spoiled at all for Season 5 so I don't have any idea what is to come, but I'm curious to even see what Season 5 will be about. The ending of Season 4 just wrapped like, so much up. Also, does anyone else feel like Jesse cares more about Brock than like anyone else? I swear he's only dating Andrea so he can hang out with Brock. Not that I'm complaining cause their relationship is so cute.

Also, I finally got around to watching Guardians of the Galaxy last night. Yeah, I'm super behind but I didn't really feel like seeing it in theatres and just waited until I got it at the library. Am I the only one who was disappointed with that movie? I mean, Chris Pratt was great and Rocket and Groot were clearly the best part and the movie really should've just been about them just capturing people for
money but yeah, I feel like it just had no idea. The movie itself just seemed to not really be sure what it wanted to do or where it wanted to go. Just me? Apparently, cause everyone I know loves this movie. I mean, like I did find it funny and was glad to see a Marvel movie not take itself seriously at all (more Marvel movies should do this) and the music was pretty fun and I loved Peter Quill dancing with his walkman in the intro but it started to get overused and just a little too kitschy for the sake of being kitschy. Whatever, I just seem to never really enjoy Marvel movies, so I wasn't surprised I didn't care for it. It makes me glad that my husband and I, when trying to decide what movie to go see one afternoon, decided against seeing Guardians because the trailer was lame and going to see Boyhood. A+ decision making.

Speaking of Richard Linklater, I finally watching his Before trilogy. These are the most beautiful and lovely and amazing movies ever and Before Sunrise is pretty much my new favourite movie. Like, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy are so great. All 3 movies were just wonderful. I mean, except for
Before Midnight because it was kind of depressing and hard to watch since it was so much sadder and angrier than the first two, but Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy were still amazing and I loved it. Seriously, more people should see these movies. Clearly Linklater makes the kind of movies I love because watching people just have conversations and experiencing life is apparently the kind of movies I just really love a lot.

But seriously, this is honestly my life right now. I'm contemplating whether my husband I should start watching the Newsroom. We just got Season 1 from the library. We'll see...