Monday, December 30, 2013

THE WOLF OF WALL STREET

The Wolf of Wall Street

Directed by Martin Scorsese
Written by Terence Winter


     Martin Scorsese has not lost a step and that is brought to full, insanely, brilliant effect with his bacchanalian and drug induced showstopper The Wolf of Wall Street. Wow, this film is a non-stop piece of cinema like only Scorsese can do. A cross and conclusion of a somewhat trilogy about men behaving badly, that includes the masterpiece Goodfellas and the lesser, but still wonderful Casino. An orgiastic story of excess, drugs, alcohol, sex and a potent critique on the greed obsessed and over controlling one percent in the United States. Not to mention a fun as hell, entertaining ride of down right unlikeable individuals. A film that is a swift kick to the head, stomach and whole body that exemplifies the me first generation of the 90s and 00s in all its disgusting ways. This film is so amazing and entertaining, but also so unbelievably important. A film that is a three hour ride of debauchery, greed and utter inhumanity. Without a doubt the best film of the year and one Scorsese's finest.
     Like I mentioned before, this film does not contain one likable character at all. What I am writing is of the main characters and the majority of people in the Wall Street game. The embellished, real life story of Jordan Belfort, adapted from his autobiography of the same title by "The Sopranos" writer Terence Winter. Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) gets off the bus on Wall Street and gets a low level job taking and making phone calls. He wants a career in the stock business, but mainly in the making money any way I can business. He works with Mark Hanna (Matthew McConaughey), who helps train Jordan in the ways of the 80s stock market. Masturbate twice a day, do cocaine to stay focused and sell, sell, sell whatever way you can. Do what you have to do to stay awake and focused. McConaughey, who is just in a couple scenes in the beginning of the film, really sets the tone for the rest of the film. This is a "fuck you, pay me" world and us stock brokers do not give a shit about anything but dollar signs, drugs and hookers. Stay on top of the game, screw anyone over, anyway you can and live like a rock star. In these moments,  McConaughey, beating his chest and humming like a madman, that is just another great, in a series of great turns from him, sets the young eyed, eager Belfort on his path to debauchery. After this, Belfort becomes nothing but a greedy, worthless human being.
     The stock market crash of 1987 causes Jordan to seek employment elsewhere. His wife Teresa (Cristin Milioti) suggest selling her engagement ring, but Belfort will have none of it. He is going to make it. He gets a low level job working in Long Island, selling penny stocks. He shows these uninspired stock brokers how to sell and make money off nothing stocks. Stocks that have no value. Jordan is a salesman and learns that you can sell anything to anybody with the right attitude and script. A valid point is made about the U.S. stock market culture here. Who gives a shit about you? I am going to use and abuse you and steal every cent I can get from your dumbass. This is that terrible vibe and reality from the drug induced stock market and Wall Street culture of the 80s and 90s that Scorsese delivers with such ease and impact. We begin to see that Jordan is all about himself and the money. No care for anyone else but himself and the crew he is about to group together to make mad amounts of cash.
     Belfort starts his stock company Stratton Oakmont. His co-conspirator is the fake looking teethed, cousin marrying Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill). A New York Jew that is just as greedy and evil as Belfort. The company gets off the ground fast and, with the assistance of Belfort's friends Nicky 'Rugrat' Koskoff (P.J. Byrne), Chester Ming (Kenneth Choi), Robbie 'Pinhead' Feinberg (Brian Sacca) and Alden 'Sea Otter' Kupferberg (Henry Zebrowski), the wild, cocaine and, their beloved drug of choice quaaludes, induced crazy ass ride begins. The company is a huge success. Belfort is known all over the Wall Street circles and the sex and drugs are non-stop. Not to mention the money that is coming in from Belfort's script of never letting anyone off the phone until the sale is complete. These guys are in their 20s and making millions of dollars off the backs of people making dumb choices in buying these stupid penny stocks. Everybody wants to get rich quick without any honesty in it. Scorsese is great in showing this profoundly in this film. These men are reckless as hell and have little, to no class. Shave a woman co-workers head in front of the whole office for ten grand. Have a contest of throwing little people at velcro bullseye board. Sex, sex, sex in the office. Drugs, drugs, drugs in the office. No care in the world. Just keep the money coming in. This is explicitly shown throughout the film and works astutely from the master Scorsese.
     Eventually, the greed and drugs catch up to Belfort and Azoff. Belfort, who divorces his wife for the trophy, beautiful blonde woman Naomi (Margot Robbie), does not stop him at all. It is a conquest to sleep with the most hookers. There is a scene where he describes the three levels of quality prostitutes. A goal of doing the most drugs, especially the quaaludes. A luxury to have the biggest house, the most expensive clothes and cars and not giving two cents about anyone else but themselves. This comes to a halt when Belfort and his company get into securities fraud, money laundering and pure on idiocy. The beautiful thing Scorsese and Winter do here, is that they do not once soften the blow or feel any sympathy for these despicable characters. They pummel you with sex, drugs and money until you cannot take it anymore, but it really brings home the reality of the life these men lived. The lives they destroyed and the inhumanity of it all. Also, this is not a drama at all. The genius of Scorsese is that they have made one of the best dark comedies about greed, drug over usage, sex and the me first attitudes of the wealthy, young stock brokers and the rich one percent of all-time.
     This film is a three-hour, entertaining as hell, comedic thrill ride of the highest art form. Scorsese, 71 now, seems like a kid in a candy store with this material. Making a metaphor on the rich, those one percent wealthy bastards and the me first generation that has little remorse for anyone, much less themselves. Scorsese is in full on Goodfellas, Mean Streets, Casino mode here, but more perverse and with not an ounce of empathy or compassion for these characters. The Wolf of Wall Street is not for everyone, but should be. The content is serious and goes to some disturbing and dark places. It presents how inhumane and immoral these individuals were, and how corrupt their business and lives were. The moral decay of the wealthy, get rich quick crowd, that abused the hell out of everything. It was fantasy ride that was real and had no reason for slowing down. Dark, greedy, slimy and unlikable human beings. This is not to say that this film is not funny as hell also. DiCaprio and Hill are insanely hilarious in this film. There were plenty of scenes where I was laughing so hard I was crying. The big drug scene, in its delivery and acting, is one of the best things Scorsese has ever done. I wont give anything away, but everything that DiCaprio and Hill do is brilliant and uproariously funny. It is not as good as the helicopters and cocaine scene in Goodfellas, but it is damn close.
     The acting in this film is top notch. DiCaprio gives the finest performance of his career. It is a shame that he will most likely not get an Academy Award nomination because the old softies in the Academy will not get this film and find his character to be too much of a prick. DiCaprio goes all out in this film. You can tell he is willing do whatever for Scorsese and vice versa. This, their fifth movie together, is the best thing they have done together. DiCaprio does it all, sex, drugs, physical comedy. He is spot on and perfect in this film. The voice over narration, the breaking of the fourth wall is excellent. It adds a personal note, but still at distance due to the insanity being displayed. Much Ray Liotta's narration and fourth wall breaking in Goodfellas. It puts the audience in the scene, in the world, but Belfort also does not explain much, because it is all about the party. The effect. The feel. The sex and drugs. Do not try to understand the serious, concrete details, because we did not. Just know this shit really happened and we got away with for awhile. Know that we had you by the balls and never let go until we did not any better. We thought we were invincible, but the drugs do not last forever.
    And, Jonah Hill shows his acting chops, even more than his wonderful turn in Bennet Miller's Moneyball. The fake teeth help, but he is amazing with DiCaprio and they deliver and then some. He deserves all the accolades in the world. Funny, but with a lot of depth. He really shows how talented of an actor he really is. I also have to give a lot of respect for 23 year-old Australian actress Margot Robbie. She nails the New York/New Jersey accent down perfectly and goes toe-to-toe with DiCaprio's Belfort in every scene. She is not likable. She spends that money and knows how it is coming in, but eventually she cannot take it anymore and wants to protect their children. She is fantastic, sultry and tough.
    The supporting cast is great as well. As I mentioned before, McConaughey is perfect in his early cameo and nails every line. Kyle Chandler plays the FBI agent investigating Belfort and he and DiCaprio have a wonderful, hilarious scene on Belfort's yacht 'Naomi,' named after his wife. Spike Jonze has a great cameo as the owner of the penny stock brokerage on Long Island. Another real standout is Rob Reiner, as the highly agitated father of Jordan, Max. Great stuff from the director-actor, and great to see him playing someone with such frustration and anger. Funny.
    I also cannot complete this assessment without mentioning Scorsese's long time editor Thelma Schoonmaker. They are inseparable and work together so precisely. She makes his movies come home and made The Wolf of Wall Street come as lean as possible. They made this film roll form opening to closing shot. It is a collaboration that is legendary and they also know how to use music so perfectly. There, as in many of Scorsese films, has to be over fifty songs used throughout the film. Edited and used precisely at the right moment. Never over done. Scorsese is the best at using music in a film and always will be. Credit to cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto, whose constantly engaging and moving camera syncs accurately with the highly kinetic energy of this film. And, Terence Winter's energetic, hardcore script is a perfect combination with Scorsese's rapid style. Words and speeches flow with ease and are performed with perfection.
     Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street is the best film I have seen in 2013. This film should easily be one of the ten finalists for Best Picture and get noms for director, actor, supporting actor, editing and writing. It won't because of the annoying, insanely stupid old codgers in the Academy. They just do not get it. The Wolf of Wall Street is a non-stop party of greed, debauchery and an open, obvious critique of the evil, me first jerks that have ruined so many lives in America. A film that is all about men behaving really badly and not having any compassion or respect for woman, money or themselves. A film that contains some of the finest performances of the year and an absolute career best turn from Leonardo DiCaprio. Scorsese has made one of his finest films and one of his most important. It might take some back to the hard partying days of their youth and might turn some, many, away, but the value and craftsmanship behind it is of the highest order. A wild, three hour romp of cinematic ecstasy and continued proof that Scorsese is the greatest living filmmaker in the world.

Photo credit by IMDB.

Monday, December 23, 2013

OUT OF THE FURNACE

Out of the Furnace

Directed by Scott Cooper
Written by Scott Cooper & Brad Ingelsby



     The second feature film from writer-director Scott Cooper, Crazy Heart (2009), is a visceral, scruffy, if sometimes forced film that does not quite deliver through its conclusion. That in no way means there is not much to admire and appreciate with Out of the Furnace. The film contains another wonderful, gritty performance from one of the best actors in film today, Christian Bale, as well as great work from Casey Affleck, Willem Dafoe and a tough as nails redneck portrayal from Woody Harrelson. Out of the Furnace does not shy away from the downtrodden in life and the under appreciated veterans coming home from Afghanistan, but could have used another twenty to thirty minutes to come full circle.
     Bale plays Russell Baze,  steel mill worker in the Pennsylvania town of Braddock, just outside of Pittsburgh. A down and dirty, hard working man, not having much to show for it, but has a beautiful girlfriend Lena (Zoe Saldana) who he wishes to marry and start a family with. One day, after a few drinks after work, he hits a car backing out of a driveway and kills a young boy. Sent to jail for an unannounced amount of time, he meets off and on with his brother Rodney (Casey Affleck) who is going through numerous stints in the Afghanistan war. Once out, Russell finds out Rodney, now back from the war, has been fighting in the local underground bare knuckle boxing circle and owes a considerable amount of money to local, low level crime boss John Petty (Willem Dafoe). Eventually, both men's paths cross with "mountain man badass" Harlan DeGroat (Woody Harrelson) and the outcome is detrimental to all involved. 
    Now, Cooper starts his film off with a brutal scene at a drive-in where DeGroat forces an uncomfortable situation between the woman he is on a date with. Gruesome and unsettling to say the least. When another local becomes invested in his violence towards his date, a more intense amount of brutality is brought forth from DeGroat. DeGroat gruesomely beats the hell out of a man and threatens everyone else that attempts to intervene. He throws the woman out of the car and drives off. This is man that lives by another set of rules outside of the local law enforcement. As the film goes on, we are aware that the authorities do not mess with DeGroat and his family in the woods. These are backwoods hicks that run their little community with their own set of justice. Cooper automatically sets the tone of a man that has little contempt or remorse for anyone. He is his own law, leader, God. He runs the show and everyone better know it and be afraid of him. With this opening, the tone and feel of the film is set, and it is not pretty or soft.
     Once Rodney goes missing after Petty sets a fight up with DeGroat and his thugs, his brother Russell is set on finding out what happened, regardless if he has to break the law himself to find the truth. The film rolls on, but once Russell and his Uncle Gerald 'Red' (Sam Shepard) begin to untangle the mystery and start diving into DeGroat's other business in the local drug trade, things get messy. The worse part is that film begins to feel very forced. Almost as if he had to rush the ending. Whether that was his choice or the studio executives, I feel it caused the film from being exceptional. I wanted to see Russell chase and follow DeGroat more, without feeling that the story lost some of its power and structural elements. A good film that could have been great with more story and time.
     Cooper has a beautiful eye and can direct the hell out of a film. The actors he has chosen to work with in this film really alleviates some of the narrative issues that occurred during the third act. Bale, who is constantly challenging himself and making great decisions, is just phenomenal here. Steady, but emotionally devastated once his brother disappears. He loses Lena while in jail and she ends up marrying the police chief Wesley Barnes (Forest Whitaker) and still finds the strength to live on and fight for his brother and family. He truly exemplifies the small town, hard working, everyday man, with a little extra fight him. Just wonderful as always.
     The rest of the cast is fantastic with Casey Affleck, along with his work in David Lowery's Ain't Them Bodies Saints, giving another solid performance as a man fighting with post traumatic stress form the war. A little political discourse when he states he cannot get a job after serving his country. An emotionally statement that hits home, but also raises the question of what else is going on with this young man. He seems like he just wants to fight the pain of war away, but feels he should to have to work in the steel mill. What he wants, deserves and desires is tested quite throughly. In one of the more powerful scenes where Bale and Affleck go at it, it just knocks you out at how both of these great actors can deliver such emotion, power and depth. Russell basically says for Rodney to get off his ass and work at the mill like he does and their father did. Good, interesting balance between what one does and what one has gone through, both physically and psychologically.
     Harrelson is a mean son of a bitch in this film and does not back down from anyone. He has the tough, muddled redneck voice down pat and definitely plays a man that is not to be fooled around with. He exhibits vigorous vulgarity throughout. Dafoe is solid, with an hilarious slick back hair do, that has one crazy, curly mullett. Saldana shows more range with this role and Whitaker continues with a challenging performance of a police chief dealing with a man that is going to do whatever he has to do to find his brother. Especially when Russell believes the police are cowards by not going into DeGroat's territory and administering the law. Russell is no coward.
     In the end, the wonderful, gritty acting saves Cooper's Out of the Furnace from being just a mediocre dramatic thriller. The film just did not deliver in the final act and really felt pushed, instead of allowing the story to unfold at a chilling, more balanced pace. That is not to say that Cooper is not one of hell of a director and storyteller. Good at building suspense and his film containing emotional, dramatic moments. I just wanted more and hate it when a film feels forced. Great performances from all involved, but the narrative just fell a little short with good suspense, but not enough. 

Photo credit by IMDB.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Criterion Collection Release for March 2014

     The Criterion Collection releases arriving during the month of March, 2014 are quite impressive, especially the release of my favorite Ingmar Bergman film. Another knockout month for the boutique cinema-obsessed group. A little bit of everything this month, so here are the releases.
     First off, that release of Ingmar Bergman's arthouse classic Persona (1966). An amazing film, that has some of the most beautiful images ever put on celluloid. An opening prologue that is graphic, sexual and confounding, with many flash images. A story where actress Elizabet Vogler (Liv Ullmann) goes mute without explanation and is cared for by the mesmerizing nurse Alma (Bibi Andersson). The two women go through numerous emotional and psychological challenges that test each others psyche on a secluded home near the coast in Sweden. An absolute, close to perfect film and my favorite Bergman masterpiece. The classic Swedish film, that has one of many legendary Ullmann, and Andersson, performances and the first of many pairings between Bergman and Ullmann, will be released on March 25.
     Another release I am really excited for is Akira Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress (1958). A film that was Kurosawa's first use of the widescreen format and contains wonderful action, mesmerizing visuals and dry humor. A samurai film that was also the blueprint for George Lucas' Star Wars (1977). Legendary Kurosawa actor Toshiro Mifune plays a general who is in charge of protecting and guiding his defeated clan's princess (Misa Uehara) as they smuggle treasure across enemy lines. A wonderful film that, even though it is not as good as Seven Samurai (1954) or Throne of Blood (1957), is still a Kurosawa film with a little bit of everything. In my opinion, Kurosawa never made a bad film and is film history in itself with every line he wrote and frame he shot. The film will be released on March 18, 2014.
    Since the Criterion Collection signed an agreement with the Harold Lloyd estate, we can expect many of Lloyd's silent comedies to be arriving each year. Last year we got the hilarious Safety Last! (1923) and on March 25 The Freshman (1925) will arrive in dual format. I have only seen Safety Last!, but this film is an instant purchase. Lloyd plays a first year college student who is eager to impress the football team and the girl of his dreams, but just winds up making a fool of himself until he gets redemption at the end. The befuddled anti-hero. What Lloyd, along with Keaton and Chaplin, could do with physical and mental comedy is like nothing else. These are still the comic giants of cinema and if you have not seen any of Lloyd's films get out there and check them out. They are a must.
     Criterion will also be releasing a documentary from the well-lauded filmmaker Errol Morris. A Brief History of Time (1991) is the story of Stephen Hawking and how, while losing his ability to speak and move due to a motor neuron disease, his unbelievably impressive mind continues to expand the way we think about space and time. An intellectual beyond any ones wildest dreams. I have never seen this, but will be something I will check out. A fascinating subject about a fascinating man. The film will be released on March 18.
     Now, being a film lover that really became obsessed with film due to the burgeoning American Independent Cinema movement of the 90s, I regretfully have not yet seen David Gordon Green's groundbreaking George Washington (2000). A film I have read about and a filmmaker, who I have seen some of his small, wonderful films that cover different aspects of human life, whether comedy or drama or romance, in the South. Green wrote and directed this film about a group of young kids who must confront challenging and difficult choices over a hot summer in the rural South. This was part of the next wave of American Independent Cinema after Tarantino, Linklater and W. Anderson first busted on to the scene in the mid-90s. This is an instant, blind buy for me and will be released on March 11.
     The only other release for the month of March will be Paolo Sorrentino's well received The Great Beauty (2013). A film that is an homage to Federico Fellini's masterpiece of masterpieces La Dolce Vita (1960). Sorrentino's film follows journalist Jep Gambardella (Toni Servillo) through his escapades through the beautiful and sumptuous life (nightlife) of Rome. Jep, a man about town and synonymous with all of the important Roman social scenes, begins to take stock of his own life and what/where he is at and going. A film that is another blind buy for me, but with the amazing cinematography I have read about and seen online from dp Luca Bigazzi, I feel this one will not disappoint.It will be released March 25.
     And that is it for the month of March. Still waiting for more David Cronenberg and the first releases from David Lynch. Cannot wait to see what they come up with in April. This year has been very enjoyable so far.

Photo credits by The Criterion Collection.




Full Trailer for TRANSCENDENCE

Here is the full trailer for Wally Pfister's directorial debut: Transcendence.


Trailer by YouTube.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Film Trailers: TRANSCENDENCE


     The directorial debut from Oscar winning cinematographer and constant DP for Christopher Nolan since Memento, Wally Pfister is Transcendence and a the teaser trailer dropped today. Looks good, even though I really have no idea what is going on here. Something with artificial intelligence and sentient beings. The power of computers and programmers and how it might transcend the powers of the human brain and take human beings... I don't know. It looks good and I am really glad Johnny Depp, who is always good, but has been on an annoying Disney/Hollywood blockbuster binge of late, is acting in something a little different and that looks like a challenge. Creepy image of him at the end of the trailer. The rest of the cast is superb, including Morgan Freeman, Kate Mara, Cillian Murphy, Rebecca Hall and Paul Bettany. The film should be released on April 18, 2014. Here is the trailer. Enjoy.


Photo credit by ropeofsilicon.com and trailer by YouTube.



Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Classic Trailers: THREE KINGS


     Wednesday's Classic Film Trailers is back, after a one week hiatus with the flu, with David O. Russell's wonderful satire Three Kings (1999). A film that treks the scandalous, filthy financial desires of four US soldiers (George Clooney, Ice Cube, Spike Jonze & Mark Wahlberg) after the Persian Gulf War. They want to steal gold that was already stolen from Kuwait, but run into Iraqi people along the way that test their courage and heart, as well as need help badly. Sounds like a serious drama, but with Russell's dry wit, he has made the film into a satirical, definite comedy about greed, injustice and moral decisions. The film is known, not just for the quality of all involved, but for Clooney and Russell's noted fighting during the production. Two creative men going at it. Now, Russell as calmed down after the troubled production of I Heart Huckabees (2004), a highly underrated film I might say. Russell's latest American Hustle opens this week and will he be three-for-three, along with The Fighter (2010) and Silver Linings Playbook (2012), with the Academy Awards. It certainly appears so. I really love Three Kings and if you have not seen it, change that as soon as possible. Funny and sharp as hell. We are lucky to have such a brilliant filmmaker as Russell around. Fantastic. Here is the trailer. Enjoy



Photo credit by IMDB and trailer by YouTube.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Austin Film Critics Association Awards

The Austin Film Critics Association announced their film awards for the 2013 year and Spike Jonze's Her topped with Best Feature Film. Lots of love for 12 Years a Slave, Gravity and some great, appreciative attention for Brie Larson from Short Term 12. Great stuff. I just need to ease my in to this group. Work hard, write and read more, it will happen!!! Here is the complete list of winners. Enjoy.

BEST FILM
Her

BEST DIRECTOR
Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity

BEST ACTOR
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave

BEST ACTRESS
Brie Larson, Short Term 12

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Spike Jonze, Her

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Emmanuel Lubezki, Gravity

BEST FILM SCORE
Arcade Fire, Her

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Blue Is the Warmest Color

BEST DOCUMENTARY
The Act of Killing

BEST ANIMATED FILM
Frozen

BEST FIRST FILM
Fruitvale Station

BREAKTHROUGH ARTIST
Brie Larson, Short Term 12

BEST AUSTIN FILM
Before Midnight

HONORARY AWARD
Scarlett Johansson, Her

TOP TEN FILMS
  1. Her 
  2. 12 Years a Slave
  3. Gravity
  4. The Wolf of Wall Street
  5. Inside Llewyn Davis
  6. Short Term 12
  7. Mud
  8. Before Midnight
  9. Dallas Buyers Club
  10. Captain Phillips

Film Trailers: GRAND PIANO


     John Cusack plays a sniper threatening a concert pianist played by Elijah Wood. The trailer has intrigue, suspense and the possibility that the underrated, but bad decision maker Cusack can be in something meaningful. Shit. He is a great actor, but is always in boring, tedious Hollywood junk. Take a chance, not for a paycheck, but for some quality. Take a page out of McConaughey's book and start doing some quality films. This film received positive notices from fan-film geek heaven at Austin's Fantastic Fest. The film is directed by Eugenio Mira and does have a release date of March 7, 2014. Here is the trailer. Enjoy.


Photo credit by IMDB and trailer by YouTube.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Online Film Critics Society 2013 Awards

The Online Film Critics Society announced their 2013 film awards and keep on spreading that love for Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave. It is still my favorite film of the year, but I have a lot of films yet to see. Not much different or to argue you about here. More attention and adulation for Cate Blanchett, Chiwetel Ejiofor, cinematography for Emmanuel Lubezki in Gravity and appreciation for foreign films Blue is the Warmest Color and The Wind Rises. Here is the complete list of winners. Enjoy.

BEST FEATURE
12 Years a Slave

BEST ANIMATED FILM
The Wind Rises

BEST FILM NOT IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
Blue is the Warmest Color

BEST DOCUMENTARY
The Act of Killing

BEST DIRECTOR
Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity

BEST ACTOR
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave

BEST ACTRESS
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave'

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Spike Jonze, Her

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave

BEST EDITING
Alfonso Cuarón & Mark Sanger, Gravity

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Emmanuel Lubezki, Gravity

SPECIAL AWARDS
BEST SOUND DESIGN AND VISUAL EFFECTS: Gravity
INSPIRATION: Roger Ebert

Film Trailers: INTERSTELLAR


     The first teaser trailer for Christopher Nolan's next feature Interstellar dropped last week and it really just teases at the possibilities of human beings and space. The ability to expand the mind and move to new, undiscovered horizons. The film stars Matthew McConaughey as an explorer named Cooper that makes use of a newly discovered wormhole that can unbelievably expand time and space travel. The film also contains a loaded cast with Anne Hathaway, Jesscia Chastain, Cillian Murphy, Casey Affleck, Wes Bentley, Ellen Burstyn, Topher Grace, John Lithgow, David Oyelowo, Bill Irwin and Michael Caine. Caine is a mainstay with Nolan since Batman Begins (2005). The film sounds like another deep, complex sci-fi film from Nolan, who also wrote the screenplay with his brother Jonathan. It is based on scientific theories from theoretical physicist Kip Thorne. The film will be released on November 7, 2014. Also, its the first time Nolan is working with a new cinematographer, the excellent Hoyte Van Hoytema (Her). He usually works with the wonderful Wally Pfister, but he was busy directing his first feature film Transcendence starring Johnny Depp. I am sure a more detailed, less historical driven trailer will be coming soon. Enjoy.


Photo credit by IMDB and trailer by YouTube.

Friday, December 13, 2013

2014 GOLDEN GLOBE Nominations

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced their nominations for the 2014 Golden Globes Awards. Not much here that upsets me other than so little attention for Ryan Coogler's Fruitvale Station. A lot of attention for 12 Years a Slave and American Hustle. A good bump for Ron Howard's Rush and for actor Daniel Brühl in the Best Supporting Actor category, also nominated at the SAG's. At least Robert Redford was not looked over this time. The Globes recognizes excellence in TV and Film, and usually is just a pushover, lets get the big celebrities in one room party, but they nominated a lot of good films here. Nice, for a change. For a rundown of all the TV and film noms you can go to the Golden Globe website here. I am just listing the film nominees. The musical/comedy category is always funny, in that they usually add a terrible comedy or film like The Tourist (2011), but this year at least the films are quality films. Most of them could be comedies or dramas, so it is good they spread the attention out to some quality films and filmmakers. Although, I do not think I would categorize any of the those films as flat out comedies. Questionable categorizing. Here is a list of the film nominees. Enjoy.

BEST MOTION PICTURE - DRAMA
  1. 12 Years a Slave
  2. Captain Phillips
  3. Rush
  4. Philomena
  5. Gravity
BEST MOTION PICTURE - COMEDY/MUSICAL
  1. American Hustle
  2. Her
  3. Inside Llewyn Davis
  4. Nebraska
  5. The Wolf of Wall Street
BEST ACTOR - DRAMA
  1. Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
  2. Idris Elba, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
  3. Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips
  4. Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
  5. Robert Redford, All Is Lost
BEST ACTRESS - DRAMA
  1. Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
  2. Sandra Bullock, Gravity
  3. Judi Dench, Philomena
  4. Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks
  5. Kate Winslet, Labor Day
BEST ACTOR - COMEDY/MUSICAL
  1. Bruce Dern, Nebraska
  2. Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
  3. Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis
  4. Joaquin Phoenix, Her
  5. Christian Bale, American Hustle
BEST ACTRESS - COMEDY/MUSICAL
  1. Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, Enough Said
  2. Julie Delpy, Before Midnight
  3. Greta Gerwig, Frances Ha
  4. Meryl Streep, August: Osage County
  5. Amy Adams, American Hustle
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
  1. Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
  2. Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
  3. Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
  4. Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
  5. Daniel Brühl, Rush
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
  1. Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
  2. Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
  3. Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave
  4. Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
  5. June Squibb, Nebraska
BEST DIRECTOR
  1. Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
  2. Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
  3. David O. Russell, American Hustle
  4. Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips
  5. Alexander Payne, Nebraska
BEST SCREENPLAY
  1. John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave
  2. Eric Singer & David O. Russell, American Hustle
  3. Spike Jonze, Her
  4. Bob Nelson, Nebraska
  5. Steve Coogan & Jeff Pope, Philomena
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
  1. "Please Mr. Kennedy" Inside Llewyn Davis
  2. "Let It Go" Frozen
  3. "Atlas" The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
  4. "Ordinary Love" Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
  5. "Sweeter Than Fiction" One Chance
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
  1. Hans Zimmer, 12 Years a Slave
  2. Steven Price, Gravity
  3. John Williams, The Book Thief
  4. Alex Ebert, All Is Lost
  5. Alex Heffes, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
  1. Blue is the Warmest Color
  2. The Past 
  3. The Hunt
  4. The Great Beauty
  5. The Wind Rises
BEST ANIMATED FILM
  1. Frozen
  2. Despicable Me 2
  3. The Croods

Thursday, December 12, 2013

2014 SAG Nominations


     Alright. I have been out with a serious case of the flu for the last three days, so I am a little behind on the posts, especially with the SAG and Golden Globes noms being announced. First of all, I am going to give a rundown on the 20th Annual Screen Actors Guild Award nominations. Big day for 12 Years a Slave, gotta love that. Respect with 4 nominations.  But, what the hell are they thinking about not giving a Best Actor nomination to Robert Redford!?!? Seriously!!! Complete and utterly gross miscalculation. Big mistake SAG. Big! Words cannot describe how terrible of a decision this is. How are these people voting? One of the best performances, easily. Also, I think when I made my Oscar predictions I did not give enough beef to American Hustle. It is getting a lot of love everywhere, even though the initial reactions were positive, but that the film was more of an entertainment piece then a bit something more. Nothing wrong with good entertainment. I guess I just underestimated its awards potential, but with a great ensemble, the SAG seemed like a shoe-in. Respect for Dallas Buyers Club support and noms. My other big issues, minor the huge Redford fiasco, is no love for Inside Llewyn Davis, Fruitvale Station and Her. Not cool. Also, no nominations for The Wolf of Wall Street, but they did not see it in time due to Scorsese's last minute editing. Mediocre reviewed films such as Lee Daniels' The Butler and August: Osage County getting a good boost, especially with there heavy, impressive ensembles. These awards want Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep in there shows. Not saying they are not great in these roles, but no Octavia Spencer or Brie Larson or Julie Delpy or Michael B. Jordan... Also, surprised by the absence of Saving Mr. Banks...interesting. They love the flashy, big ensemble and that reflects in the majority of these choices. Not very good in my opinion. Here are the film nominations and you can check out the film and TV noms here. Enjoy.

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A CAST IN A MOTION PICTURE
  1. 12 Years a Slave
  2. American Hustle
  3. August: Osage County
  4. Dallas Buyers Club
  5. Lee Daniels' The Butler
OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A MALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
  1. Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
  2. Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips
  3. Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
  4. Forest Whitaker, Lee Daniels' The Butler
  5. Bruce Dern, Nebraska
OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A FEMALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
  1. Meryl Streep, August: Osage County
  2. Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
  3. Sandra Bullock, Gravity
  4. Judi Dench, Philomena
  5. Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks
OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A MALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
  1. Micahel Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
  2. Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
  3. Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
  4. James Gandolfini, Enough Said
  5. Daniel Brühl, Rush
OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A FEMALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
  1. Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave
  2. Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
  3. Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
  4. June Squibb, Nebraska
  5. Oprah Winfrey, Lee Daniels' The Butler




Monday, December 9, 2013

2014 OSCAR Predictions

     Roughly three months from now the 2013 film year will have its penultimate award ceremony, The Academy Awards. All the campaigning, politics, bullshit, ass kissing and, oh yeah, the quality of the films, in this self satisfying and highly self aware environment, will glorify each other with the annual award show on March 2, 2014. The prognosticating and hype is fun, but kind of redundant and ridiculous. I mean, the films that have heavy campaigns or are released at the end of the year and are fresh in the academies mind seem to get the most love, if not all of it. It is history and it is fun to have a good time making predictions, but the academy just likes softies or filmmakers that make films that are feel good and avoid any kind of social or cultural awareness, for the most part. For example, last year with Argo over the far better and more meaningful Zero Dark Thirty. In 2012 the big softy The Artist over the field, even though Moneyball was one of the best that year and a lot better than that silent film. And, in 2011, where the highly rated, critical favorite and easily overall best film The Social Network was beat by the old school academies pick that, like the other ones, relates to there  beliefs and a safe, uneventful choice with The King's Speech. Blah, blah, blah. Here are my picks with a few notes at the end of each category. I am only predicting the main categories and some that I enjoy (i.e. cinematography, editing, foreign language film). Nothing I ever want wins anyways. Haha! How many times is Roger Deakins going to get nominated without a win and look how long it took for the great Martin Scorsese to win Best Director. The Departed is a really good film, but Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, Raging Bull... You see what I mean. Here I go:

BEST PICTURE
  1. 12 Years a Slave
  2. Gravity
  3. Saving Mr. Banks
  4. The Wolf of Wall Street
  5. Inside Llewyn Davis
  6. Captain Phillips
  7. Nebraska
  8. Her
  9. American Hustle
  10. All Is Lost
  • Fruitvale Station
  • Lee Daniels' The Butler
  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • Blue Jasmine
I think there will be 9 nominees and I feel that Fruitvale Station might be the tenth film to sneak in, but I am not betting on that just yet. Great first movie from Ryan Coogler. The Academy will be hesitant to award the brutally honest, expertly well crafted 12 Years a Slave and Gravity might be too much "tech-i-ness" for them. Saving Mr. Banks might be the default choice this year and Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street is getting rave reviews, but probably has too much drugs, sex, vulgarity and unlikeable characters for the Academy go for. I say, based on recent history, that Saving Mr. Banks or Captain Phillips might have a good shot at winning it all. I really hope All Is Lost gets in. It totally deserves it, as well as Inside Llewyn Davis, but that will be too arty for the Academy to get a win. Do not forget, Her is surging in the critics circles, so I think it will sneak in. That is good news.

BEST DIRECTOR
  1. Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
  2. Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
  3. Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street
  4. Joel & Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis
  5. Spike Jonze, Her
  • Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips
  • Alexander Payne, Nebraska
  • J.C. Chandor, All Is Lost
  • John Lee Hancock, Saving Mr. Banks
  • Ryan Coogler, Fruitvale Station
I feel that McQueen and Cuarón are easy, definitive locks. Scorsese most likely is a lock as well, but it depends on how his film is received. I want the Coen's and Jonze in the top five and I think they will be, but Payne, whose film is truly admired already, could easily take a spot away from the Coen's or Jonze. Matter a fact, Payne probably will inch his way into the top five within a month or so, but I really think Jonze will make it. The film looks amazing and is getting stellar reviews. Payne's film might be more Oscar friendly and give him the edge. Also, watch out for Hancock and Greengrass to possibly steal a spot away as well. 

BEST ACTOR
  1. Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
  2. Robert Redford, All Is Lost
  3. Bruce Dern, Nebraska
  4. Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
  5. Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips
  • Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
  • Forest Whitaker, Lee Dainels' The Butler
  • Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis
  • Joaquin Phoenix, Her
  • Mcahel B. Jordan, Fruitvale Station
The top four here are set and have been for some time. It could go either way with Hanks and DiCaprio, even though the Academy loves Hanks and just sorta appreciates the guts and balls of DiCaprio. Safe bet is Hanks. Would love to see Isaac or Joaquin Phoenix for Her get in, but those films are too different and challenging for the Academy to be slam dunks. Watch out for Jordan, as he might just sneak his way into the field. That film will make some buzz come Oscar time...I think.

BEST ACTRESS
  1. Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
  2. Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks
  3. Judi Dench, Philomena
  4. Sandra Bullock, Gravity
  5. Brie Larson, Short Term 12
  • Meryl Streep, August: Osage County
  • Amy Adams, American Hustle
  • Adèle Exarchopoulos, Blue is the Warmest Color
  • Bérénice Bejo, The Past
As with the Best Actor race, I feel the top four are locks no matter what. That last spot is up for grabs though. I think, as the Academy always likes to put a fresh, new face in the mix of legends and great actresses, Brie Larson will get that fifth spot for her work in Short Term 12. If not her, it could easily be Streep (they adore her) or Amy Adams. If not those three, I really hope the Academy opens up and gets Exarhopoulos or Bejo in the mix. Both of there performances have been widely appreciated and they are easily in the top five this year. The Academy just is not always foreign friendly.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
  1. Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
  2. Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
  3. Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street
  4. Tom Hanks, Saving Mr. Banks
  5. Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
  • Will Forte, Nebraska
  • James Gandolfini, Enough Said
  • Jake Gyllenhaal, Prisoners
  • Daniel Brühl, Rush
I think Leto has this one wrapped up. At least I hope so. He is phenomenal in that film. Fassbender and Hill should be locks and Hanks is most likely as well. I believe Abdi should easily be in there, but can Forte or Gandolfini take the last spot... I think Forte has a good shot, the fact being they like Payne and really like Nebraska.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
  1. Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave
  2. June Squibb, Nebraska
  3. Oprah Winfrey, Lee Daniels' The Butler
  4. Octavia Spencer, Fruitvale Station
  5. Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
  • Margo Martindale, August: Osage County
  • Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
  • Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
  • Scarlett Johansson, Her
I think this is pretty much set. I hope Nyong'o or Spencer win. They are absolutely amazing in each respective performance. Squibb is getting a lot of critical attention, so she might squeeze out a victory, but the nomination is probably a win in itself. Winfrey will be in the race and Lawrence, supposedly, is on fire in American Hustle.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
  1. Joel & Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis
  2. Woody Allen, Blue Jasmine
  3. Bob Nelson, Nebraska
  4. Kelly Marcel & Sue Smith, Saving Mr. Banks
  5. Spike Jonze, Her
  • Alfonso Cuarón & Jonás Cuarón, Gravity
  • Ryan Coogler, Fruitvale Station
  • Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack, Dallas Buyers Club
  • David O. Russell & Eric Singer, American Hustle
Coen's or Allen. It would be nice if Jonze can get in and I think he will, but who gets left out? The Cuarón's might be edged out.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
  1. John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave
  2. Terence Winter, The Wolf of Wall Street
  3. Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy & Ethan Hawke, Before Midnight
  4. Billy Ray, Captain Phillips
  5. Steve Coogan & Jeff Pope, Philomena
  • Tracy Letts, August: Osage County
  • Abdellatif Kechiche & Ghalia Lacroix, Blue is the Warmest Color
  • Michael Petroni, The Book Thief
  • Peter Berg, Lone Survivor
I really would love to see the Before Midnight writers win this, but it will probably be either Ridley or Winter. Respect that.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
  1. Emmanuel Lubezki, Gravity
  2. Bruno Delbonnel, Inside Llewyn Davis
  3. Sean Bobbitt, 12 Years a Slave
  4. Barry Ackroyd, Captain Phillips
  5. Roger Deakins, Prisoners
  • Frank G. DeMarco, All Is Lost
  • Anthony Dod Mantle, Rush
  • Phedon Papamichael, Nebraska
  • Rodrigo Prieto, The Wolf of Wall Street
A packed field. You could have ten nominations in this category and still leave five DP's out that easily should be in the top five. Is this Lubezki or Deakins year? I feel that Lubezki's work cannot go without a win. Creating new technology with Cuarón and his work is just unbelievably fantastic on Gravity. He and Deakins are the best. I just feel it is his year and poor Roger Deakins. Damn good cinematographer. I hope DeMarco gets in because his work on All Is Lost is truly phenomenal. Delbonnel might take the win though. His work with Coen's on Inside Llewyn Davis is pretty damn brilliant. Not to forget Hoyte Van Hoytema on Her, as well. My favorite category of the awards show. The best.

BEST FILM EDITING
  1. Thelma Schoonmaker, The Wolf of Wall Street
  2. Alfonso Cuarón & Mark Sanger, Gravity
  3. Joe Walker, 12 Years a Slave
  4. Roderick Jaynes (Joel & Ethan Coen), Inside Llewyn Davis
  5. Pete Beaudreau, All Is Lost
  • Christopher Rouse, Captain Phillips
  • Kevin Tent, Nebraska
  • Mark Livolsi, Saving Mr. Banks
  • Alan Baumgarten, Jay Cassidy & Crispin Struthers, American Hustle
This is always an interesting and highly important category. Editors help shape the film. Schoonmaker is a legend and her work with Scorsese speaks for itself. She is the favorite, but watch out for Gravity, Inside LLewyn Davis and 12 Years a Slave. Beaudreau deserves a nomination for his amazing work on All Is Lost

BEST DOCUMENTARY FILM
  1. Stories We Tell
  2. The Act of Killing
  3. 20 Feet from Stardom
  4. Blackfish
  5. The Square
  • Cutie and the Boxer
  • Tim's Vermeer
  • The Armstrong Lie
  • After Tiller
I think it is between Sarah Polley's Stories We Tell and Joshua Oppenheimer's groundbreaking, if not extremely stretched out The Act of Killing

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
  1. Wadjda   (Saudi Arabia)
  2. Gloria   (Chile)
  3. The Hunt   (Denmark)
  4. The Past   (Iran)
  5. The Great Beauty   (Italy)
  • The Broken Circle Breakdown   (Belgium)
  • Bethlehem   (Israel)
  • Gabrielle   (Canada)
  • Omar   (Palestine)
I think this is how this category will pan out, but The Broken Circle Breakdown could easily be in the top five and any of those I predicted could be out. This is a tough category to pick and I do think the Belgium film will end up in the top five, but who gets left out. Too many stupid, ridiculous regulations with this category. If one country has ten great films in one year, they should all be eligible. Blue is the Warmest Color...???






Sunday, December 8, 2013

Los Angeles Film Critics tie with GRAVITY and HER for Best Film




The Los Angeles Film Critics Association have tied for Best Film of the year with Gravity and Her. That shows how much appreciation of varying films this year are in these critics groups and through different winners in all of them. I really am getting more and more excited to see Spike Jonze's Her with all of this adulation it keeps receiving. Great stuff. I like Dern winning Best Actor, but what about Redford in All Is Lost? He is amazing in that film. Shit, there were a lot of ties with this group. At least that did not keep voting until one member gave in. Stick with your vote and move on. Who really is the best anyways? They did spread the love around here. Here is a complete list of the LAFCA winners. Enjoy.

BEST FILM
Gravity Her (tie)

BEST DIRECTOR
Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
runner-up: Spike Jonze, Her

BEST ACTOR
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
runner-up: Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave

BEST ACTRESS
Cate Blanchett Blue Jasmine & Adèle Exarchopoulos, Blue is the Warmest Color (tie)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
James Franco, Spring Breakers & Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club (tie)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave
runner-up: June Squibb, Nebraska

BEST SCREENPLAY
Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy & Ethan Hawke, Before Midnight
runner-up: Spike Jonze, Her

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Blue is the Warmest Color
runner-up: The Great Beauty

BEST FEATURE ANIMATION
Ernest & Celestine
runner-up: The Wind Rises

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Stories We Tell
runner-up: The Act of Killing

BEST MUSIC SCORE
T. Bone Burnett, Inside Llewyn Davis
runner-up: Arcade Fire & Owen Pallett, Her

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Emmanuel Lubezki, Gravity
runner-up: Bruno Delbonnel, Inside Llewyn Davis

BEST EDITING
Alfonso Cuarón & Mark Sanger, Gravity
runner-up: Shane Carruth & David Lowery, Upstream Color

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
K.K. Barrett, Her
runner-up: Jess Gonchor, Inside Llewyn Davis

DOUGLAS EDWARDS INDEPENDENT/EXPERIMENTAL FILM/VIDEO AWARD
Cabinets of Wonder

Photo credits by IMDB.

NYFCO: Big awards go to 12 YEARS A SLAVE


The New York Film Critics Online have given there Best Picture award to Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave. No surprise, as it seems this film, along with Gravity, Her and Inside Llewyn Davis are the top-tier critics favorites so far. It was a little rocky at first for this critical darling, but it has started to pick up some steam this Sunday with wins here and from Boston critics groups. Much love all around for these, and other great films from 2013. Cate Blanchett is on a role and will probably go all the way to the Oscar's with much unanimous adulation. And, more love for Ryan Coogler and his very good first film Fruitvale Station. Here is a full list of the winners from the NYFCO. Enjoy.

BEST PICTURE
12 Years a Slave

BEST DIRECTOR
Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity

BEST DEBUT DIRECTOR
Ryan Coogler, Fruitvale Station

BEST ENSEMBLE CAST
American Hustle

BEST ACTRESS
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

BEST ACTOR
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Blue is the Warmest Color

BEST DOCUMENTARY
The Act of Killing

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
The Wind Rises

BEST USE OF MUSIC
Inside Llewyn Davis

BEST SCREENPLAY
Spike Jonze, Her

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Emmanuel Lubezki, Gravity

BEST BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE
Adèle Exarchopoulos, Blue is the Warmest Color

Photo credit by IMDB.

Boston Critics Awards


The Boston Online Film Critics awarded Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave with seven awards, including Best Film. Also, The Boston Film Critics Association/Boston Society of Film Critics passed some more well deserved love to 12 Years a Slave. Here are the lists of all the winners from the Boston Online Film Critics and the Boston Film Critics Association. Enjoy.

Boston Online Film Critics
BEST PICTURE
12 Years a Slave

BEST DIRECTOR
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave

BEST ACTOR
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave

BEST ACTRESS
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave

BEST SCREENPLAY
Richard Linklate, Julie Delpy & Ethan Hawke, Before Midnight

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Blue is the Warmest Color   

BEST DOCUMENTARY
The Act of Killing

BEST ANIMATED FILM
The Wind Rises & Frozen (tie)

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Bruno Delbonnel, Inside Llewyn Davis

BEST EDITING
Joe Walker, 12 Years a Slave

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Hans Zimmer, 12 Years a Slave

THE TEN BEST FILMS OF THE YEAR
12 Years a Slave
Inside Llewyn Davis
The Wolf of Wall Street
Gravity
Before Midnight
The Spectacular Now
Blue is the Warmest Color
Spring Breakers
The World's End
Fruitvale Station

Boston Film Critics Association/Boston Society of Film Critics

BEST PICTURE
12 Years a Slave
runner-up: The Wolf of the Wall Street

BEST DIRECTOR
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
runner-up: Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street

BEST ACTOR
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
runner-up: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street

BEST ACTRESS
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
runner-up: Judi Dench, Philomena

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
James Gandolfini, Enough Said
runner-up: Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips and Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club (tie)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
June Squibb, Nebraska
runner-up: Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave

BEST SCREENPLAY
Nicole Holofcener, Enough Said
runner-up: Terence Winter, The Wolf of Wall Street

BEST DOCUMENTARY
The Act of Killing
runner-up: Blackfish

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
The Wind Rises
runner-up: Frozen

BEST NEW FILMMAKER
Ryan Coogler, Fruitvale Station
runner-up: Joshua Oppeheimer, The Act of Killing

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Emmanuel Lubezki, Gravity
runner-up: Philippe LeSourd, The Grandmaster

BEST EDITING
Daniel P. Hanley & Mike Hill, Rush
runner-up: Thelma Schoonmaker, The Wolf of Wall Street

BEST USE OF MUSIC IN A FILM
Inside Llewyn Davis
Nebraska

Photo credit by IMDB.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Film Trailers: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2


How many damn villains can they put in this film? Remember how horrible Spider-Man 3 by Sam Raimi was when he had more than one main villain in the film. This does not look interesting at all to me. I like Emma Stone and I think Paul Giamatti is a really fine actor, but this looks cartoonish, silly and too stupid to even remotely get excited about. Jamie Foxx as Electro does look fairly cool, but that is not enough. At least Sam Raimi's first two Spider-Man films were ok and not too silly. Good, well written villains too. This looks like a video game. And, the first film in this reboot by Marc Webb, The Amazing Spider-Man, was not that good to begin with in the first place. A moneymaker for the fanboys and kids, and nothing more than escapist, superhero/comic book film. It has taken over Hollywood... The films stars Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Paul Giamatti, Dane DeHaan, Denis Leary, Sally Field, Campbell Scott, Martin Sheen, Felicity Jones and Chris Cooper. A release date of May 2, 2014 to start off the summer blockbuster season. Here is the trailer. Enjoy?


Photo credit by IMDB and trailer by YouTube.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Classic Trailers: BLOOD SIMPLE


     With the latest from the Coen brothers Inside Llewyn Davis, best filmmakers in the world in my personal opinion, opening in limited release this weekend, Wednesday's Classic Film Trailers is presenting the trailer for the brothers first film, Blood Simple (1984). The first time I saw this film I was hooked. A bloody, vengeful film noir. Great performances from Frances McDormand, who is married to Joel Coen, John Getz, Dan Hedaya and eerie work from M. Emmett Walsh. Classic film noir where a jealous husband hires a P.I. to kill his wife and the man she is with. Enough said. Witty, dark and a flare for dialogue unlike any other filmmakers in the business. True independent filmmakers. The film just shows how talented the brothers are at crafting a story, direction and getting wonderful, as always, performances out of there actors. When they do crime, film noir or mystery, it is always refreshing and an appreciation of classic cinema. If you have not seen the film and are a fan of the Coen brothers, check it out promptly. You will not be disappointed. Enjoy.


Photo credit by IMDB and trailer by YouTube.

ALL IS LOST

All Is Lost

Written & Directed
by 
J.C. Chandor


     A man alone at sea. His boat rams into a floating shipping container while he is asleep. He repairs the boat, but it is not enough. He must struggle to survive on the open seas, through violent storms and swimming predators. J.C. Chandor's All Is Lost has only one cast member and hardly any dialogue. Yet, for an hour and forty-five minutes, we watch this unnamed man fight for survival with limited food and water. This is an absolutely breathtaking piece of cinema. Every second is engrossing, suspenseful and full of the amazing power of Chandor and his star, the legendary Robert Redford. The film channels the depths of human nature and how much the mind and body can take. The will to survive and fear of death. All Is Lost is one of the best films of 2013 and one of, if not the finest performance of Redford's career.
     Chandor's film is pure existential cinema. A survival on the high seas film that fights off any cliche or background to add sentimentality to the story or the man. Redford's character has no name and is just called "Our Man." It is a film that is a barebones thriller that treats the audience with respect and intelligence. There are no nostalgic moments that flashback or add to knowing about "Our Man" or his history. It is nothing more than a man doing everything he can to survive. He will not relent his right to live and it is a wonderful metaphor for the believe that no matter the age, the fight and will of a person is so vitally important to our lives and culture. Rip away everything. Get down to the basics. Outstanding filmmaking and production. A skill level that is almost mind-blowing and you have an absolute knockout of a film.
    The only time Redford's character speaks is during the beginning when he is reciting a brief S.O.S call over a blank screen. A few "helps" and a screaming expletive and that is it. It is absolutely stunning that this film even got made in today's fast paced, CG driven Hollywood culture. It is even more amazing that the film is as brilliant as it is and how riveting each scene can be. Much of that is due to the talent behind the camera in J.C. Chandor, but equally it is because of the will, character and survivalist instinct of "Our Man." That man is played so effectively by Redford. Is aged face and older body never once stalls or gives himself the time to give up. As soon as he wakes up to see the break in the hull of his boat, he gets to work. When he is forced onto his life raft in the middle of the Indian Ocean, it is completely absorbing every time he pumps water out of the raft and looks at his map using a sextant to calculate his coordinates. Astounding and completely thrilling.
     I never once was bored or worried about a nearly dialogue-free film not being entertaining. This is perfectly satisfying and every second of it is entertaining. I found it to be one of the most impressive and engaging films I have ever seen in my life. I feel the film will definitely be a hard sell to Joe and Jane Popcorn, but it should not be. Watching Redford fight for his survival on the open sea is truly a wondrous feat. I cannot speak highly enough of Mr. Redford's performance. I have always thought he was a good actor, but never great. This is his great, defining role. He is a legend, being in classic films such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting, All the President's Men  and Jeremiah Johnson, but he is acting on the highest of levels here. An almost silent performance of pure excellence and honesty. Easily, along with Ejiofor and McConaughey, one of the best acting jobs this year, or any year for that matter.
     Much credit deserves to be given to writer-director J.C. Chandor. Going from his big cast and dialogue driven first and Oscar nominated film Margin Call (2011), he goes in the complete opposite direction with All Is Lost. A 30 page script, with little dialogue and only one cast member. Wow! He exemplified so much range, talent and a director that appears to challenge himself with rewarding results. Chandor is definitely a director on the rise and one that is full of so much creativity that I cannot wait to see what he does next. Actually, his next film is A Most Violent Year, set to star Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac. Excited for that one already with the great success of Margin Call and All Is Lost.
     I must also credit the whole production on this film beyond the writing, directing and acting. The minimalist score from Alex Ebert is soft and almost unrecognizable at times, but slowly builds and adds great suspense and wonder to the film. The sound mixing and editing are excellent as well. Another standout is the cinematography from Frank G. DeMarco. Lit wonderfully and always keeping a pristine eye on the  importance of the film with exquisite clarity and focus. Raves for everyone that helped get this film made and made it into what it turned out to be. A true wonder of cinema.
     In a decade where filmmaking is becoming more and more about the money, the sequels and the cheap scares, it is profoundly exciting to have a film like All Is Lost. A film that I am astonished got made in this current film culture and one that focuses on a sole man's will to survive. Not going the traditional route with cheesy flashbacks and over sentimental reminiscing. An existential masterpiece of craft, storytelling, directing and acting, this film is working on the highest of levels. Rolling on all cylinders. Redford's career defining moment, that is full of many fantastic performances, and a writer-director that is on fire. No sophomore slump for Chandor. All Is Lost is one of the best films of the year, a triumph and one that I am truly thankful was made.

Photo credit by IMDB.

NBR names Spike Jonze's HER Best Film


     The usually soft, mediocre and unimportant National Board of Review did something hip and cool today. They named Spike Jonze's new-aged romance Her Best Film and Jonze also won Best Director. Having not seen the film, and having so many films yet to see (i.e. Nebraska, Inside Llewyn Davis, American Hustle, The Wolf of Wall Street and Her), I am extremely happy with this choice. The film has been receiving rave reviews since it's premiere at the New York Film Festival. I deeply and truly love Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave but will be thrilled if Her or the Coen's Inside Llewyn Davis wins awards. I also really enjoyed Gravity and All Is Lost. However, it is surprising that 12 Years a Slave did not win anything... If Lupita Nyong'o does not win for 12 Years a Slave then I hope that Octavia Spencer does for Fruitvale Station for Best Supporting Actress. She did here and is in one of the most emotionally powerful scenes I have seen all year. Holds everyone together, while keeping strong within. She is brilliant and amazing in that film. A knockout! It is weird how Blue Is the Warmest Colour is not in the Top Five Foreign Language Films. Curious? Here is a list of the winners. Enjoy.

BEST FILM
Her

BEST DIRECTOR
Spike Jonze, Her

BEST ACTOR
Bruce Dern, Nebraska

BEST ACTRESS
Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Will Forte, Nebraska

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Octavia Spencer, Fruitvale Station

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
The Past   d. Asghar Farhadi

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
The Wind Rises   d. Hayao Miyazaki

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Stories We Tell   d. Sarah Polley

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Joel & Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Terence Winter, The Wolf of Wall Street

BEST DIRECTORIAL DEBUT
Ryan Coogler, Fruitvale Station

BEST ENSEMBLE
Prisoners

BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE - ACTRESS
Adele Exarchopoulus, Blue Is the Warmest Colour

BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE - ACTOR
Michael B. Jordan, Fruitvale Station

WILLIAM K. EVERSON AWARD FOR FILM HISTORY
George Stevens, Jr

CREATIVE INNOVATION IN FILMMAKING AWARD
Gravity

SPOTLIGHT AWARD
Career Collaboration of Martin Scorsese & Leonardo DiCaprio 

NBR FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
Wadjda   d. Haifaa Al_Mansour

TOP TEN FILMS (alphabetical order)
12 Years a Slave
Fruitvale Station
Gravity
Inside Llewyn Davis
Lone Survivor
Nebraska
Prisoners 
Saving Mr. Banks
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
The Wolf of Wall Street

TOP TEN INDEPENDENT FILMS (alphabetical order)
Ain't Them Bodies Saints
Dallas Buyers Club
In A World...
Mother of George
Much Ado About Nothing
Mud 
The Place Beyond the Pines
Short Term 12
Sightseers
The Spectacular Now

TOP FIVE FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILMS
Beyond the Hills
Gloria
The Grandmaster
A Hijacking
The Hunt

TOP FIVE DOCUMENTARIES
20 Feet from Stardom
The Act of Killing
After Tiller
Casting By
The Square

Photo credit by IMDB