Wednesday, 11 February 2015

The Imitation Game (2014)


Alan Turing: Are you paying attention? Good. If you are not listening carefully, you will miss things. Important things. I will not pause, I will not repeat myself, and you will not interrupt me. You think that because you're sitting where you are, and I am sitting where I am, that you are in control of what is about to happen. You're mistaken. I am in control, because I know things that you do not know.
Alan Turing: What I will need from you now is a commitment. You will listen closely, and you will not judge me until I am finished. If you cannot commit to this, then please leave the room. But if you choose to stay, remember you chose to be here. What happens from this moment forward is not my responsibility. It's yours. Pay attention.

Here lies the Enigma: What do you get when you add a British incredible actor plus an equally British talanted cast to portray the team that broke Enigma during the Second World War, alongside with an underlying backstory of the prosecution of homosexuals during the 1950s England? A profound intriguing film that shows you the trials of a homosexual who was denied to be acknowledge for his brilliance in aiding WWII, but was otherwise prosecuted for what his sexual orientation was. 

'The Imitation Game' is the based on the true story of legendary cryptanalyst Alan Turing, the film portrays the nail-biting race against time by Turing and his brilliant team of code-breakers at Britain's top-secret Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, during the darkest days of World War II. (

This film goes out in the heart of the story; the streneous path that Professor Turing faced, after the end of WWII. It all boils down to Benedict Cumberbatch's performance and how provocatively ludicrous his ideas were the fundamental reason for breaking the impossible Enigma. Cumberbatch, who in recent years has proven to be somewhat of a glorified genius in his portrayal as the equally brilliant but insane Sherlock Holmes in the BBC series, he's once again cast to portray the insane genius of Turning; the profound amazement in his performance derives from his eloquence to make you pay attention to his thought process. The portrayal takes on a different dynamics as it not only focusses on his mathematical genius to break the code, but the hidden truth that Turing was a homosexual. Cumberbatch gave the role a horrowing meaning of what it felt like to be ashamed of what he is, to be living in the shadows, long after he would be considered the catalyst for ending the worst war that his humanity has ever seen. 

Grasping all the messages on how horrendous it was for someone who was a homosexual to live at those times, this film lacks empathy I believe. Albeit the remarakbly sad story of Turing, the script lacks the emotional stamina to make you break down in overwhelming tears of what occurred to Turning long after the war. What's lacking though in empathy due to pacing issues, makes up for in brilliant performances that enagage the viewer of the injustice and shameful acts that were exercised upon the real Alan Turing. 

The film engrosses the viewer only by the sadness of the true story, but it's technical and more practical logistical executions are within a mediocre standard of that of an independent film that's trying to find it's niche. 

Regardless, it is without a doubt that 'The Imitation Game' holds its reigns high up due to the evocative performances. Hence it's also nominations for a Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress. A notable mention to the ever struggling growth as a serious actress of Keira Knightley, who after years of costume drama portrayals seems to have hit the target in her portrayal of Turing's trusted friend/colleague and brief fiance in the film. 

This is an incredible story, a story that has been hidden in the shadows waiting to be told. It was only a matter of finding its narrative storyteller that would enfold the essence of Alan Turing's life events and what it means for humanity. The transcedance of acceptance and human justice resonate throughout the film's duration. Be sure to acknowledge Turing's brilliant work when you watch it, but be even more prepared to aknowledge the man behind the code. 


Monday, 9 February 2015

The Theory of Everything (2014)


Stephen Hawking: There should be no boundaries to human endeavor. We are all different. However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. While there's life, there is hope.

"The Theory of Everything" is the story of the most brilliant and celebrated physicist of our time, Stephen Hawking, and Jane Wilde the arts student he fell in love with whilst studying at Cambridge in the 1960s. Little was expected from Stephen Hawking, a bright but shiftless student of cosmology, given just two years to live following the diagnosis of a fatal illness at 21 years of age. He became galvanized, however, by the love of fellow Cambridge student, Jane Wilde, and he went on to be called the successor to Einstein, as well as a husband and father to their three children. Over the course of their marriage as Stephen's body collapsed and his academic renown soared, fault lines were exposed that tested the lineaments of their relationship and dramatically altered the course of both of their lives.

Undoubtedly, Stephen Hawking is one of modern science's greatest minds, even perhaps the greatest. His life is not the first time that attracted filmmakers to be able to tell his story and how this brilliant mind came to be and managed to live for so many years with a fatal disease. His extraordinary life achievements and his willpower to preserve for so long, is not only ideolized but something to give humanity hope and great faith. 

James Marsh's subtle and tender approach on Hawking's story is a mere reminder of how cosmic situations can occur within a man's lifetime; from the flamboyance of the Cambridge genius onto the mehcanics of dealing with motor neuron disease. Marsh doesn't just let you into the excruciating agony that the disease upheld for Hawkings, but rather makes you a private spectator on his most intimate emotional moments once he was diagnosed. The director deviates from suger-coated the truth on how Hawking's personal life unfolded through the years as well, as this would misrepresent and misdirect the basic elements that encircled what Hawkings is; a genuine pragmatist, who never ceases to search for the truth. 

Quite frankly, this is not a story that has not been known or told before, but the true challenge came about the protagonist, Stephen Hawkings himself. In the film, Hawkins is portrayed by the skilled and tremendously unique, Eddie Redmayne. Having seen Redmayne both on film, TV and stage, I must confess that I was intrigued when I first heard of his casting. This role is not just a challenge for any actor physically, but would Redmayne be able to prove up to the mental obligations that came along with the role? It is that glorious moment when you sit in the cinema room, and once you see Redmayne's sweet and humble face, extol that "while there is life, there is hope", it is in that moment when tears swell and roll down your cheeks without you even noticing. It is in the moment when he mechanically tells his ex-wife Jane (Felicity Jones), to "look at what we have accomplished" whilst they both look at their three children running around in the Royal Gardens. 

It is a wondrous feeling when you get to see actors like Redmayne and Jones,who seem to have blossomed on screen in recent years. Both share the flare of British actors, who came from small BBC roles, flourished into US TV Cable roles, then went onto do a film big budget films here and there, whilst keeping their indie Brit roles at hand too, doing a bit of stage on the side once their schedules allowed them to be back home for that too, and finally and ultimately both finding their way into their role that would give them both the Oscar nod, along with a string of many other awards to come by. 

What truly is overwhelming though with 'The Theory of Everything' is the ability to humanize even the most hopeless of situations. The sheer and tremendous human sensitivity that Marsh fights to leave emblazed on screen, when everything else seems to be fruitless and without a reason. The film is an anthem to human existence and the single thing that keeps it alive; hope. 

This is not just a film about the Big Bang or black holes and Creators of the Universe, but about the human existence and the unfathomable strive to preserve. 

Personally, I believe that Redmayne and Jones, as well as Marsh, deserve whole heartedely the Oscar nominations, albeit it is my personal preference of Michael Keaton receiving the golden statue for the Best Actor category. Likewise, the film is a glorious one, but equally so it is also my belief that it is not as strong a contender to go over ahead 'Boyhood' or 'Birdman' this year. But regardless of whoever does take the statue and the glory home, this is the gem of movies for this year. A humble sensitive hymn to humanity, that everyone should get to watch.


Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Selma (2014)


Martin Luther King Jr.: [somberly yet passionately speaking to church congregation at a funeral] Who murdered Jimmie Lee Jackson? Every white lawman who abuses the law to terrorize. Every white politician who feeds on prejudice and hatred. Every white preacher who preaches the bible and stays silent before his white congregation. Who murdered Jimmie Lee Jackson? Every Negro man and woman who stands by without joining this fight as their brothers and sisters are brutalized, humiliated, and ripped from this Earth.

Ava DuVernay is a director who dared to speak about the historical march of Martin Luther King Jr. on Selma, Alabama in the early 1960s. Despite the Academy's omission of nominating DuVernay for Best Director, this film resonates the transcendent message of what Martin Luther King Jr. was trying to achieve so many decades before.

'Selma' is the unforgettable true story chronicles the tumultuous three-month period in 1965, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a dangerous campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition. The epic march from Selma to Montgomery culminated in President Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most significant victories for the civil rights movement. 

A bold directorial move on behalf of DuVernay and an even bolder subject to speak about. According to many public information online, despite the strenuous and tumultuous journey this film had had so far, after 10 years in development, DuVernay not only managed to take the reigns and achieve something worthwhile, but she re-wrote almost the entirety of the script, and edited out all the original speeches that were going to be used when this film was first developing. This however, and the numerous obstacles that the production faced along the way in making this film, is one of the many reasons why in its entirety this film is lacking in some way; from execution to development, the film is found wanting throughout its 2-hour span. 

The remarkable role of Martin Luther King, Jr is portrayed by the evocative David Oyelowo, who not only extols in his portrayal of the historical heritage of this man, but dignifies him by his vigorousness and his humility in the way he approached the script. Now baring in mind, what a profound significance this role has on world history, is reason enough to make any actor be in awe in the portrayal of Dr. King, Jr. Oyelowo's monumental portrayal is one that focuses more on the abundance of raising awareness and feelings of justice and equality, rather than playing upon the physicality of the character. He manages to underlay such a capturing of the multifaceted personality that does engage with the audience enough to prove how current still the words of Martin Luther King, Jr are. 

Albeit the gravity of the message being promoted through the story line, the film is lacking in its ability to engage the audience from the get go. The trouble with this, is not in the lack of empathy on the events that unraveled in 1965. The main lacking problem with the film is the long stretchy moments of hopelessnes and victimization that could make the film a lot more pacy and intriguing. Given the thematology, race issues on film are always a sore subject and DuVernay, given the resources and the backing she had, she did justice in her approach to the historical material  that gives the film a significance upon the long line of film that deal with racial equality. 

The grasp of things is that after screening the film, it is only understandable why the Academy chose not to include DuVernay's valiant effort in directing this colossal film, and if we weight upon the film-making achievements on this year's Oscar race, it is only but fair that DuVernay was not nominated for 'Selma'. A worthy nod though came to this film through it's best original song, with the film 'Glory' by John Legend and Common. The track is truly glorious!


Monday, 2 February 2015

Whiplash (2014)


Terence Fletcher: You are a worthless, friendless, faggot-lipped little piece of shit whose mommy left daddy when she figured out he wasn't Eugene O'Neill and who's now weeping and slobbering all over my drum set like a fucking nine-year-old girl! Now, for the final FATHER FUCKING time... SAY IT LOUDER!

Let me just say for starters, I had do idea that drumming was so intense. But director and writer, Damien Chazelle, sure showed me how hard this drumming world can be. 

Last we saw, 'Birdman' was reviewing the insane qualities and quantities of the actor's ego. Now, we have another kind of artistic insanity playing, or should I actually say, drumming through our screens. 'Whiplash' ladies and gentlement, is her to astound you in every literal sense. It is so horrifically amazing, it will make you sweat and drum yourself to sleep at night. 

'Whiplash' follows the story of a young and talented drummer, Andrew Nieman (Miles Teller), attending a prestigious music academy, who finds himself under the wing of the most respected professor at the school, Terence Fletcher (J.K.Simmons), one who does not hold back on abuse towards his students. The two form an odd relationship as the student tries to achieve greatness, and the professor tries to stop him.

The story is hardly sentimental or emotional to say the least, but instead it dwells on the aggressiveness of the forcing power dynamics on each other. Chazelle, so cleverly introduces your protagonist and your antagonist within five minutes time and sets up the story line of what is about to follow. Two characters, play off each other, trying to elevate the action-reaction technique with a compelling rhythym of insensitivity and pain-stakingly high pressure. If I exercise this on him, I will have to get this as a reaction. This whole film is an action-reaction process of what the antagonist will do to get the reaction he wants out of the protagonist. A power struggle in all its glory.

For this purpose Chazelle, very carefully handpicked the roles of J.K. Simmons as the professor, who taunts in every possible way the student, and for the drummer student the roles is portrayed by Miles Teller, who seems not only to have over-performed in this movie, but to have made it so personal in how he would play the drum set that it gave you goosebumps and had you cringe at his every suffering drumming moment. 

Throughout the film, there is a sense of claustrophobia, of bullying and taunting that has you feeling asphyxiated. As if the bullying especially is being exercised on you. This was achieved primarily but the non-cut-aways. Chazelle, lets the scenes flow, lets you experience what it really feels like to be under the pressure, as if you would perform in the band yourself. He rarely let's the audience of the hook, and makes it his purpose to make us feel just like Teller's character feels; the anxiety, the stress, the traumatic yelling and beating until the professor is pleased. The blood, sweat and tears in other words.

This is a film that has the word 'pressure' written all over it. From the moment it starts to the moment if finishes. It does not let you breathe. But it sure gives you one spectacular jazzy ending that sways you long after you've stopped watching it. 


Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Birdman (Or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)


Mike Shiner: Popularity is the slutty little cousin of prestige.

Now imagine this: one film, one continuous take. Can it be done? Will it work/ Does it work? And if you can do it, can you follow it? Where does it lead you?

I read on some online trivial that director Mike Nichols when he was approached by Alejandro Gonzalez Iñaritu days before he would begin shooting this film, Nichols  cautioned and dvised that this would might very well possibly be a failure of a film. And yet, here we are, the award season of 2015 is upon us and 'Birdman' is soaring on the award boards. And not just cause of it's brilliant directiorial techniques, which are unfathomably and without a doubt skillful and masterful, but also because of the ingeniousness of what constitues 'Birdman'. 

The story in lamest terms follows a washed up actor, who once played an iconic superhero, who battles his ego and attempts to recover his family, his career and himself in the days leading up to the opening of a Broadway play. 

The film starts off with the character or Riggan Thomas (Michael Keaton) as the washed up actor, who makes one final attempt to regain stardom and tries to reinvent himself as a director by staging a new adaptation of a Raymond Carver short story called "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love". The events leading up to the Saturday night premiere prove to be one disaster after another as the original lead actor is injured while on set and Riggan scrambles to find a replacement, but the replacement proves to be exactly who he needs - a method actor, Mike Shiner (Edward Norton), who takes the job way too seriously. 

The plot thickens as Riggan is having a hard time juggling between the set, his replacement actor, his equally washed up daughter, and a host of other disasters that prevent a proper staging of the play. Meanwhile, a New York Times critic who Riggan has to woo threatens to shut down production of the play before it even starts with a scathing review of the opening night performance. Does Riggan have a hit on his hands or will he even make it past opening night?

What makes this film stand out is this: hard-core neurotic performances, a pink-point and all hands-on-deck direction that never lets you gasp for breath and a killer scenario that will not only have wider audiences's brains' hammered by the ludicrousness of human vanity, but also make every artist out there reel with identity crisis as they will see a clear depiction of themselves on screen. This is not just a film; this is a canvas of absurdism, and to say I but approve would be an understatement.

But let's speak about the actors first: Michael Keaton, who so brilliantly fits the role of Riggan Thomas, as he also in real life seems to have had a tough career after his 'Batman' days, not only single-handedly spreads sarcasm and terror through his performance but also demands you look him in the eyes and recognize pieces of your own vanity and soul through him. He is Birdman, he is driven by chaos and soul and passion and madness and genius. And he will astound you down to your every meaningless bone for not trusting his gut from the beginning. I honestly had no idea what Keaton was capable of as an actor up until this very fine moment. And oh boy, am I glad Iñaritu chose him. He saw the light of Birdman in Keaton and he made it shine as bright and as loud as he could. 

Coming to close this excellent endeavour come the unique talents of a Mr. Edward Norton and Naomi Watts. Norton, who's also known in real-life for his method acting techniques when preparing for a role, offers a sinister and yet brilliant portrayal as Keaton's nemesis. He is there to demand attention, to become the actor you love to hate or hate to love (depends on your vantage point) and he makes sure he delivers a gripping performance through his egotistical and mutli-faceted character. Just the likes of Watts as well, she is as always grounded in being the washed-up actress herself, that is anything but in real life, that has you squirming for her lack of confidence in her abilities and low self esteem of how far she will stoop to make her childhood dreams come true. 

The cast is completed finely by the once too often jokesters of actors Emma Stone and Zach Galifianakis, who not only both of them prove that, man, they're capable of leaving you gasping with their foul mouths and their neurotic train of thought. Stone portray's Keaton's daughter, who's life is spiralling out of control going from one rehab centre to the other, whilst Galifianakis, is portraying Keaton's manager - and we all know that fury and angst along with a variety of foul language is a few of the traits of any well driven manager in the industry. It is rather a wonderful surprise to see fine comedic actors mish-mash their stereotypical acting skills with a dosage of sureal seriousness on screen, and Iñaritu let's them have it all the way. 

What a brilliance. Unlike all your straight up narratives linear plot lines that are in the Oscar race this year, this film does not flinch an inch when it tries to give you it's story as a one continuous take. The pacing and rhythym within allows the viewer to follow the actor of each scene with ease, due to a carefully choreographed staging - almost stage like - a precise technique of the use of cinematography and editing, making sure that any cutaways are not distractive enough from following the plot as it goes - and a pshychological emptahy to the charachers' inner journey. Do you follow?

Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravity, Children of Men, Sleepy Hollow) carefully maintains an equal pacing of his camera's movements, following each central actor and acting according to their executed emotional state. The camera is a mirror for Lubezki that depicts the gloriousness of the inner self; the ego of the project itself. Clever enough also of Iñaritu to let his scenes breath with sky pans and various fades into time changing zones that guide you through a few days of how the scenario unfolds. 

Alejandro Gonzalez Iñaritu (Babel, Amores Perros, Biutiful) , who is not a first timer in the art of using the actor's psyche speak more than his words, is a glorified genius in this one; he allows the technical elements of his filmmaking have an effect on the unravelling of the emotional state of his characters. He controls the rhythym and keeps it at bay until he deems it high enough for the climatic ending. He actually plays magic tricks on screens, making you laugh with irony and cynicism, serving you a cold hard truth of what life on the other side feels like - the once almighty glitz of stardom and the insanity of grabbing onto it once more. What's it all about? This is the script that Iñaritu presents. How much is enough? How far will you go? And how far will your human ego and vanity let you fly..

Given opinions expressed through my reviews, the chances are for a Best Screenplay/Best Picture/Best Actor/Best Director/Best Original Score. If I could use but one word to describe this films is this: surreal. 

A worthy shout out to the incredibly insane and addictive original drumming score of Antonio Sanchez, who leaves you palpitating long after the film's ended. 

Make sure you catch this film on cinema while it's one. It is one of the good gems that don't come this often! 

(Or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Monday, 26 January 2015

Big Hero 6


Baymax: On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your pain?

"Big Hero 6" is based loosley on the Marvel comics of 'Man of Action' and it tells the story of a Robotics nerd, Hiro Hamada, who discovers an inflatable health care robot Baymax created in the past by his brother, Tedashi. After a terrible life-changing accident, Hiro and Baymax team up with four other nerds and save their hometown San Fransokyo from an evil super villain trying to take over with Hiro's invention.

Having seen a wide range of mediocre animation this year, viewing 'Big Hero 6' was a unique breath of air. Not so much that it's advanced CGI and special effects and astounding real-life-animated technology as for the fact that the story does not bore you even for a second. It is funny, it's got action kicking all over the place, it's got witty dialogues and above all it's got a lot of heart and soul in it. Because oddly enough, it's not everyday you come across a Marvel piece of filmmaking to make your heart go all "awwwwwws" and "aaaaaaaaahs". As this is Marvel's first animated film, it is an exceptional and promising beginning. 

"Big Hero 6" comes from the creators of "Wreck-It Ralph" and the Disney phenomenon "Frozen" Chris Williams and Don Hall, managed to create one of the most lovables, huggables and health care robots in animated history. Given the fact that this film is also partially owned by Pixar and Marvel comics, it is truly nice to see that there can be a combination of inventive robotics that are also used not only used for saving "the world" but also saving someone's world. 

Albeit the resemblance to eky features of lego robotics to partial elements of "The Lego Movie", which conveniently is out of this year's Oscar race, "Big Hero 6" comes on top because of its ability to intrigue younger ages through cool techie gadget equipments, hilarious caricatures and a lot of color splashing around through modernised super-hero suits, but also deliver to make any adult laugh by the cute and logically inflatable robot that even the most demanding austere audience would acknowledge that it's got the ability to spread comic relief moments throughout the film.

I won't badger anyone a lot with rumbling on and on about reasons of why anyone should watch this animation. Simply just that it's funny and smart and entertaining. Something which I did find lacking in the animated stratosphere this year. And if this is a first attempt for a Marvel animation, then by all means, keep it comin'! 

Notable to give a big credit to Scott Adsit, who voices Baymax, who manages to hilariously portray this inflatable heatlh care robot. Had me laughing and giggling and I'm feeling the love. 

Boyhood (2014)


Mason: So what's the point?
Dad: Of what?
Mason: I don't know, any of this. Everything.

Dad: Everything? What's the point? I mean, I sure as shit don't know. Neither does anybody else, okay? We're all just winging it, you know? The good news is you're feeling stuff. And you've got to hold on to that.

More than 12 years ago, filmmaker Richard Linklater had a brillitan cinematic idea: to shoot one film in the course of 12 years, with the same actors, portraying the life of a young boy (turned into a man) and how he copes with growing up. Thus came 'Boyhood'. 

This astonishing piece of filmmaking was created to remind audiences and film lovers/enthusiasts all around the world that cinema can be just as much about imagination as it can be about real life too. Richard Linklater (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight, School of Rock),  a self-made writer, producer and director, managed to shoot a film in the scope of 12 years – in all literal sense – and gift the world of this filmmaking masterpiece. The result was a 3-hour long family social teenagy/coming of age drama – along with many comical and down to earth moments – that offered not only a pleasurable screening but also it give amounts of food for thought. 

However much Linklater tried to keep it real, the reason this project truly worked, it’s the fact that he had an incredible cast to work with and share this passion for this film. “Keeping it real, keeping it simple.” This phrase was emblazing in my mind throughout the film. He made it believable. Even when things get rough, even when there were moments of uncertainty or a simple dialogue between teenagers, he kept it real. 

Starring as the boy growing up, is Ellar Coltrane, who we view his 12 years on film through his eyes and how he experiences things and goes through some hard situations – divorced parents, moving away, mother getting re-married, alcoholic stepfather etc. These are but a few things that we are able to view through Coltrane’s eyes. 

In this cinematic experiment Linklater added the likes of Oscar Nominee and Golden Globe Winner Patricia Arquette and Oscar and Golden Globe Nominee Ethan Hawke, to carry through the story of Mason (Coltrane). Both Hawke and Arquette manage to deliver profound and grounded performances throughout, acknowledging the rawness of reality that this film is depicting. Their awareness of what being a parent means, the struggles and sacrifices of keeping a family alive takes can be wonderfully discerned through simple family moments they seem to share separately on screen with one or both their film children. A simple dialogue of what and where life leads you is more than enough to make you appreciate the familiarity of what Linklater depicts. This story is about a family, it’s course, it’s let downs, it’s choices, it’s about the arguments and the hugs and the moments where you feel proud or alive. It’s about love and life. 

When the film opens we see Mason, a 5 year old boy, gathering his toys about to move in another town with his mom and his sister. On the film’s epilogue, Mason, an 18-year-old man now, is sitting with new friends from College gazing into the horizon, into this wondrous unknown of where life will take him. The ups and the downs. 

Linklater so eloquently manages to encompass the reality of events in Mason’s life, that it almost seems effortless on film. As if viewing these awakward or off beat moments on screen are a direct depiction of any family’s reality out there. This is what makes this film such a unique undertaking; it’s ability to connect to what’s real. 

Going around with a buzz in the award season this is one of the major contenders for a Best Picture/Best Director and Best Supporting Actress/Actor award. The first 3, in my honest opinion are more likely to be had from the looks of things, as the Critics as much as the wider public seems to be in favor of Linklater’s film. 

Will definitely recommend and commend this film for anyone who appreciates cinematic landmarks. This will definitely be your cup of tea. Just remember that the film might feel a lot more familiar than what you imagine them to be. 

The Buzz: 

  • Linklater's daughter, Lorelai Linklater, as Mason's sister. A star on the rise, perhaps?!?
  • This song, which will be echoed throughout this film's running time...

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Film Awards Season 2015

Right. So. Welcome back everyone who's everyone and who likes a good flick here and there. This year's award season kicked off with the Golden Globes awards which broadcasted on the 12th January 2015. Soon afterwards, all of the major yearly award shows started slowly giving out awards to this year's mainstream film contestants. And I'm saying mainstream, cause it is a rather universal truth that films that are Oscar/Award contenders are but the icing on the a very LARGE and hefty cake of the films being produced globaly every year.

So, for this year my up-coming reviews for the award season will follow these top-notch films (bear in mind I won't be reviewing them according to the list below):

If all goes well, I will manage within a months time to review all of these. If not, the above are the major films that seemed to have made a distinct impression to The Academy, and we all know what an esteem The Academy has. Personally, I find The Academy flawed, since so many great filmmaking achievements are being produced yearly that it is only the privilaged or the handsomely marketed few that get to "taste" the spoils. But still, let's give some credit to the films above, as some of them are indeed of an excellent quality. 

Can't wait to get this season rollin'....

See y' all soon with the first review coming up: 

"Boyhood" (2012-2014) Dir. Richard Linklater

Billy Boyd - The Last Goodbye 

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Thursday, 6 March 2014

And the Academy Award goes to...

Welcome to the 86th Annual Academy Awards. Sunday night it was definitely one of the most glorious nights in Hollywood, with celebrities waiting anxiously to see if they would get one of those golden Uncle Oscar statues with them. There were definitely some winners, and some not so winners, but in this industry everyone who has the courage to take a stand a follow their dream is already a winner. 

However, let's see in some more detail who did actually take a golden statuette. Hosted by the ever so brilliant Ellen DeGeneres the show started with the usual monologue of the presenter - sarcasm, offensive and penis jokes - definitely what the Oscars were missing.

I would say the big winner of the night was definitely 'Gravity' - for all the technical awards - leaving 'Dallas Buyer's Club', 'Blue Jasmine' and '12 Years a Slave' up for grabs on all the acting awards. Sadly 'The Wolf of Wall Street' and the much hyped 'American Hustle' remained unmoved, just I had predicted. 

But let's not stall any longer and let's take a look at Sunday night's winners:

Best Motion Picture of the Year

12 Years a Slave (2013)

Other Nominees:
American Hustle (2013)
Captain Phillips (2013)
Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
Gravity (2013)
Her (2013)
Nebraska (2013)
Philomena (2013)
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

(Just like Ellen said at the beginning of the show: "there are 2 possibilities. Possibility no.1 for '12 Years a Slave to win Best Picture and possibility no.2 you're all racists". Well, the Academy proved not so racist after all, since they indeed picked this film as Best Picture. Now, whether they picked cause they genuinely liked it or not to prove themselves as racists, we will never find out. I guess it's a little bit of both, but at the end of the day it doesn't matter.)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

Other Nominees:
Christian Bale for American Hustle (2013)
Bruce Dern for Nebraska (2013)
Leonardo DiCaprio for The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Chiwetel Ejiofor for 12 Years a Slave (2013)

(Despite all the jokes online regarding the Oscar not being given (yet again) to Leonardo DiCaprio, the race for this particular award was never between DiCaprio and McConaughey, but rather for Ejiofor and McConaughey. So, well deserved this award was given to McConaughey who campaigned for this film and the role alike and not for a single moment did he gave up on what he believed in.)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine (2013)

Other Nominees:
Amy Adams for American Hustle (2013)
Sandra Bullock for Gravity (2013)
Judi Dench for Philomena (2013)
Meryl Streep for August: Osage County (2013)

(Like I said in my review of this post, she was a sheer delight to watch hoe neurotic she got. Loved her in the film, a well deserved Oscar in my opinion, although I would have liked Adams to also be given her chance to shine, but I'm hopeful she will at some point in her career.) 

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

Other Nominees:
Barkhad Abdi for Captain Phillips (2013)
Bradley Cooper for American Hustle (2013)
Jonah Hill for The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Michael Fassbender for 12 Years a Slave (2013)

(Now for this one, I was really anxious. I was really rooting for Leto from day one and I'm glad the Academy made the right choice, albeit the fact that they had to consider such actors as Fassbender and Cooper, who are equally brilliant in their own way.)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Lupita Nyong'o for 12 Years a Slave (2013)

Other Nominees:
Sally Hawkins for Blue Jasmine (2013)
Jennifer Lawrence for American Hustle (2013)
Julia Roberts for August: Osage County (2013)
June Squibb for Nebraska (2013)

(The most single best deserved Oscar of the evening. No actor deserved this Oscar more than Lupita Nyong'o. We knew it, the Academy knew it, the whole friggin' world knew it. Brava to this girl, this Kenyan woman, who even as she first received her Oscar the first thing she said was to thank the person who albeit her sorrow offered her at that moment such joy; the woman whom she portrayed, who was based on the real life story of 'Patsey', who was described by Solomon Northup in his book of slavery. What a brilliant actress she is, and what a bright young talanted woman. Well done!!!)

Best Achievement in Directing

Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity (2013)

Other Nominees:
Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave (2013)
David O. Russell for American Hustle (2013)
Martin Scorsese for The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Alexander Payne for Nebraska (2013)

(The master! The triumph! The glory! WELL DONE, Cuaron finally made it. He achieved to receive the Oscar which he so deserved even from 'Y Tu Mama Tambien'. Also would have been a worthy winner for Steve McQueen to have gotten it, but alas, the statue is only one, so I'm fairly sure McQueen has plenty more chances of winning something again in the near future, as he's a brilliant director too.)

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

Her (2013): Spike Jonze

Other Nominees:
American Hustle (2013): Eric Warren Singer, David O. Russell
Blue Jasmine (2013): Woody Allen
Nebraska (2013): Bob Nelson
Dallas Buyers Club (2013): Craig Borten, Melisa Wallack

(I have to admit I came to screen this film quite late in the award season, so I didn't have time to digest it and take it all in, but boy did it impress me. From the get go, it's a beautiful little story, a gem if you ask me, and it so deserved to receive an Oscar for script-writing.)

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published

12 Years a Slave (2013): John Ridley

Other Nominees:
Before Midnight (2013): Richard Linklater
Captain Phillips (2013): Billy Ray
Philomena (2013): Steve Coogan, Jeff Pope
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013): Terence Winter

(Although I had a sneaky suspicion that the 'Wolf' would possibly win this, I'm so glad it went to '12 Years a Slave' instead.)

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year

Frozen (2013)

Other Nominees:
The Croods (2013)
Despicable Me 2 (2013)
Ernest & Celestine (2012)
The Wind Rises (2013)

(The Disney phenomenon in years. Hope Disney learns from this formula that 'Frozen' has already cast and they keep up the brilliant work. Brava to the good ol' Disney.)

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year

The Great Beauty (2013): Paolo Sorrentino(Italy)

Other Nominees:
The Broken Circle Breakdown (2012): Felix Van Groeningen(Belgium)
The Missing Picture (2013): Rithy Panh(Cambodia)
The Hunt (2012): Thomas Vinterberg(Denmark)
Omar (2013): Hany Abu-Assad(Palestine)

(Albeit it not exactly what I was rooting for, this film has come a long way and it's been quite a long time since the Italians have graced Hollywood with their presence. Well done to them and their Fellinish atmosphere.)

Best Achievement in Cinematography

Gravity (2013): Emmanuel Lubezki

Other Nominees:
Inside Llewyn Davis (2013): Bruno Delbonnel
Nebraska (2013): Phedon Papamichael
Prisoners (2013): Roger Deakins
The Grandmaster (2013): Philippe Le Sourd

(I think I called this one when I was reviewing 'Gravity'. To be fair, Lunezki is a cinematography master, in all the films they've done with Cuaron, they've excelled, so well done to him.)

Best Achievement in Editing

Gravity (2013): Alfonso Cuarón, Mark Sanger

Other Nominees:
12 Years a Slave (2013): Joe Walker
American Hustle (2013): Alan Baumgarten, Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers
Captain Phillips (2013): Christopher Rouse
Dallas Buyers Club (2013): Martin Pensa, John Mac McMurphy

(Not to bother with the much technical awards in the evening, but it seems that 'Gravity' nailed it in every possible way, as you will also see below it won most about every technical award there was on Sunday evening.)

Best Achievement in Production Design

The Great Gatsby (2013): Catherine Martin, Beverley Dunn

Other Nominees:
12 Years a Slave (2013): Adam Stockhausen, Alice Baker
American Hustle (2013): Judy Becker, Heather Loeffler
Gravity (2013): Andy Nicholson, Rosie Goodwin, Joanne Woollard
Her (2013): K.K. Barrett, Gene Serdena

(A nice addition to the list to see Baz Luhrmann's extravaganzza of a film receive some kind of recognition.)

Best Achievement in Costume Design

The Great Gatsby (2013): Catherine Martin

Other Nominees:
American Hustle (2013): Michael Wilkinson
12 Years a Slave (2013): Patricia Norris
The Grandmaster (2013): William Chang
The Invisible Woman (2013): Michael O'Connor

(Again, well done to the team of 'The Great Catsby' for their meticulous detail in stylizing the film.)

Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling

Dallas Buyers Club (2013): Adruitha Lee, Robin Mathews

Other Nominees:
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (2013): Steve Prouty
The Lone Ranger (2013): Joel Harlow, Gloria Pasqua Casny

(A unique choice to give this award to, despite that the nominations were not very rich in this department I'm glad the team of the 'Dallas Buyers Club' got it in the end.)

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score

Gravity (2013): Steven Price

Other Nominees:
The Book Thief (2013): John Williams
Her (2013): Will Butler, Owen Pallett
Saving Mr. Banks (2013): Thomas Newman
Philomena (2013): Alexandre Desplat

(Like I already said...wonderful, mesmerizing score by Steven Price and I was ecstatic it got its recognition that it deserved. Well done!!!)

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song

Frozen (2013): Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez("Let It Go")

Other Nominees:
Despicable Me 2 (2013): Pharrell Williams( "Happy")
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013): Bono, Adam Clayton, The Edge, Larry Mullen Jr., Brian Burton("Ordinary Love")
Her (2013): Karen O("The Moon Song")

(Albeit the performance of this piece during the evening went from mediocre to awful - what was that high pitch note right at the end Idina? where you ticked off by Travolta's mispronounciation of your name?, such a disappointment - it has proven to be a global phenomenon and it was a very well deserved award for this category.)

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

Gravity (2013): Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead, Chris Munro

Other Nominees:
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013): Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges, Michael Semanick, Tony Johnson
Captain Phillips (2013): Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith, Chris Munro
Inside Llewyn Davis (2013): Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff, Peter F. Kurland
Lone Survivor (2013): Andy Koyama, Beau Borders, David Brownlow

(Technical awards go to..............Gravity!!! Sound mixing, glorious and very precise.)

Best Achievement in Sound Editing

Gravity (2013): Glenn Freemantle

Other Nominees:
All Is Lost (2013): Steve Boeddeker, Richard Hymns
Captain Phillips (2013): Oliver Tarney
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013): Brent Burge
Lone Survivor (2013): Wylie Stateman

(Sound editing, again outstanding job with this one for 'Gravity'. Well done to the post sound production. It did wonders for the big screen.)

Best Achievement in Visual Effects

Gravity (2013): Timothy Webber, Chris Lawrence, David Shirk, Neil Corbould

Other Nominees:
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013): Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton, Eric Reynolds
Iron Man 3 (2013): Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash, Daniel Sudick
The Lone Ranger (2013): Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams, John Frazier
Star Trek Into Darkness (2013): Roger Guyett, Pat Tubach, Ben Grossmann, Burt Dalton

(No need to dwell on that. Of course it would have gone to 'Gravity'. That was the most obvious award to be received throughout the evening. So, well done of course.)

Best Documentary, Feature

Twenty Feet from Stardom (2013): Morgan Neville

Other Nominees:
The Act of Killing (2012): Joshua Oppenheimer, Signe Byrge Sørensen
Cutie and the Boxer (2013): Zachary Heinzerling, Lydia Dean Pilcher
Dirty Wars (2013): Rick Rowley, Jeremy Scahill
The Square (2013): Jehane Noujaim, Karim Amer

(No comment due to I have not seen the Oscar nominees for this category.)

Best Documentary, Short Subject

The Lady In Number 6 (2013): Malcolm Clarke, Carl Freed

Other Nominees:
Cavedigger (2013): Jeffrey Karoff
Facing Fear (2013): Jason Cohen
Karama Has No Walls (2012): Sara Ishaq
Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall (2013): Edgar Barens

(No comment due to I have not seen the Oscar nominees for this category.)

Best Short Film, Animated

Mr Hublot (2013): Laurent Witz, Alexandre Espigares

Other Nominees:
Feral (2012): Daniel Sousa, Dan Golden
Get a Horse! (2013): Lauren MacMullan, Dorothy McKim
Possessions (2012): Shuhei Morita
Room on the Broom (2012) (TV): Max Lang, Jan Lachauer

(No comment due to I have not seen the Oscar nominees for this category.)

Best Short Film, Live Action

Helium (2014): Anders Walter

Other Nominees:
That Wasn't Me (2012): Esteban Crespo
Just Before Losing Everything (2013): Xavier Legrand
Do I Have to Take Care of Everything? (2012): Selma Vilhunen
The Voorman Problem (2012): Mark Gill

(No comment due to I have not seen the Oscar nominees for this category.)

The awards this year offered minimal entertainment, with the exclusion of the tributes to the heroes in the movies montage and the tribute to the 'Wizard of Oz' with Pink's stunning performance. What did make the evenig wonderful was Ellen DeGenere's selfie (look below) and the pizza dinner which she so briliantly orchestrated for the celebrities in the crowd. Ellen was a wonderful host, having her bits and numbers - dressing up as Glinda as well, and I'm sure the Academy will definitely invite her back again to host. 

Onto next year's awards. Bigger, better and uncut. 

Hope you enjoyed the ride all you film junkies out there. 

Now, let's get back to reality. 22 Jump Street....juuuuuuuuuuust jokin'. 

Films to anticipate for 2014:

  1. The Hobbit: There and Back Again
  2. Maleficent
  3. Into The Woods
  4. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby
  5. Far From the Madding Cow (remake)
  6. Godzilla (remake)
  7. Gone Girl
  8. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  9. Guardians of the Galaxy
  10. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 
  11. The Immigrant
  12. Nymphomaniac Part 1 and Part 2
  13. Unbroken (Angelina Jolie's first directorial debut)
  14. Veronica Mars 
  15. Transcendence
  16. Noah
  17. How to Train your Dragon 2
  18. Sin City: A Dame to Kill
  19. Exodus
  20. Dracula Untold
  21. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, Not Good, Very Bad Day
  22. Annie
  23. Pinocchio
  24. The Wind Rises
  25. Belle
  26. Paddington
  27. Stalingrad
  28. Grace of Monaco
  29. In Secret
  30. The Judge
  31. The Green Inferno
  32. Janis Joplin; Get it While you Can
  33. Paradise Lost
  34. Labor Day
  35. Only Lovers Left Alive
  36. How to Catch a Monster
  37. Imagine
  38. Before I Go to Sleep
  39. Third Person
  40. Dom Hemingway
  41. Blackbird
  42. Mortdecai
  43. The Garden of Last Days
  44. Magic in the Moonlight
  45. The Happy Prince
  46. Eliza Graves
  47. Wish I was Here
  48. Pele
  49. The Congress
  50. The Prophet
  51. Mood Indigo
  52. The Two Faces of January
  53. God Help The Girl
  54. Ex Machina
  55. Slow West
  56. The Imitation Game
  57. The Trip to Italy
  58. Serena
  59. Black Sea
  60. Manglehorn
  61. Men Women and Children
  62. Macbeth
  63. Mr. Turner
  64. Birdman
  65. Interstellar