12 years a slave

OSCAR PREDICTIONS: BEST DIRECTOR & BEST PICTURE

Best Director:

download (2)Nominees:

Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman)

Richard Linklater (Boyhood)

Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel)

Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)

Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher)


The Films:
The difficult thing about the Academy is that they do not split genres into Comedy/Musical and Drama. This means that we have to take and analyze many films from different genres and different styles of  directorial effort.It is difficult to put a film like The Grand Budapest Hotel right next to Boyhood or Foxcatcher, and ask which Director did their job to better effect. The reality is, though, that Richard Linklater embarked on a 12 year journey to create one of the most authentic films we have seen, and that gives him a standout advantage. Having said this, Birdman has been gradually gaining steam, with nothing but praise being heaped upon Alejandro G Iñárritu. It seems that the other three nominees will unfortunately be left behind which seems a shame. Foxcatcher was a labor of love for Bennett Miller, and one he has been trying to pull together for almost as long as Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’. Wes Anderson finally gained critical reception with Grand Budapest, although this caused him to lose many of his loyal followers. 

download (3)
Who Should Win?
Richard Linklater. It’s close to call between him and Iñárritu, but Linklater’s long term dedication should see him snatch it. Perhaps them most impressive part of Birdman is the cinematography which should still be recognized. 


Who Will Win:
 
Richard Linklater. And it is about time, too!

 

SNUBS: Christopher Nolan (Interstellar), Ava DuVernay (Selma), Jean-Marc Vallee (Wild)

Best Picture:

The Nominees:

BoyhoodGHB_9907 20130130.CR2

Birdman

The Grand Budapest Hotel

American Sniper

Whiplash

The Imitation Game

Selma

The Theory of Everything

The Films: Possibly the most underwhelming batch of ‘Best Picture’ nominees we have seen in a while. The Academy really didn’t feel like taking any risks this year. All of the films have been received well both by the public and critics, and have received awards consistently throughout 2014-2015. Having said this, it really is a two movie race this year. Despite previous wins, Grand Budapest Hotel likely won’t win any of the big five awards this year, nor will Selma or The Imitation Game. Theory of Everything will succeed in the Acting category but nothing else. Whiplash is probably one of the most deserving films, but is also historically one of the lowest grossing to ever be nominated for Best Picture, which slims down it’s chances of success. Really, the only films that are going to be successful enough in majority of categories to justify a ‘Best Picture’ win are Birdman and Boyhood. And between these two it is a super tight race.

Who Should Win? The ‘Best Picture’ winner is not always the film that is universallyAMERICAN-SNIPER-4-1940x812 enjoyed. Think back to last year’s winner ’12 Years A Slave’ – how many of you actually enjoyed the experience of watching it?! Many have felt the same about Birdman, which put it as a bit of a frontrunner, particularly because of it’s spread of nominations in other categories. Having said this, Boyhood still carries a lot of weight and is a true feat of cinema. We’re going with Boyhood on this one as the more deserving recipient.

Who Will Win: Birdman. Yep, we’re calling this one. Birdman has been gaining so much momentum lately it seems unstoppable. We wouldn’t be surprised if Boyhood can hold on, but at the moment it seems it is being edged out. 


SNUBS: Interstellar, Wild, Nightcrawler, Foxcatcher.

OSCARS 2014: WHO WAS THE BEST DIRECTOR?

One more for the cheap seats in the back! In our last post before the 2014 Academy Awards, we want to take a look at who the favourites are for one of the most prestigious awards in the industry!

 

“Best Director”

 

Image 

 

David O. Russell – American Hustle: Missing out on this award last year for Silver Linings Playbook has meant that David O. Russell has come back with a vengeance. Scooping nominations for all four Acting categories, as well as technical praise, American Hustle always looked set to dominate this awards season. Upsets in previous awards shows may have stunted their progress, but this is still a heavy contender. Having said this, it seems unlikely that he will take the prize away from Cuaron this year.

Alfonso Cuaron – Gravity: Head and shoulders above the other contenders is Alfonso Cuaron. While Sandra Bullock will most likely be edged out by other nominees in the “Best Actress’ category, Cuaron’s management not just of her performance but of the cinematography, sound and editing will ensure he is duly rewarded. The only thing that can really hurt Cuaron here is the early release of the movie: this is one of the oldest nominated films in 2014. Having said this, Cuaron sees to have all bases covered: the DVD release of Gravity is perfectly timed to ensure maximum exposure.

Alexander Payne – Nebraska: Payne employed a black and white setting for his film, ensuring that cheaper cameras did not disturb the quality of the shots. His Oscars campaign has been strong, but under the radar meaning this could be a film that is easily forgotten. Further, performances from veterans Bruce Dern and June Squibb seemed self managed, limiting Payne’s ability to actually stand out as a Director.

Steve McQueen – 12 Years A Slave: If anyone is going to upset Cuaron this year, it will be Steve McQueen. The praise for 12 Years A Slave has been heard the world over, becoming famous for being an uncomfortable masterpiece. McQueen employed techniques such as long shots to really drive home his point, making his presence in the film felt. When watching it, there is no mistaking that this is a McQueen film, which really brands his involvement. He could win this, but it still seems unlikely.

Martin Scorcese – The Wolf Of Wall Street: This could truly be a difficult one for Scorcese to nab. Criticised as glorifying a fraudulent rock and roll lifestyle, many people initially shunned ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’. Indeed, the Academy could see voting for Scorcese as encouraging this lifestyle, however the film has really picked up momentum lately and is quickly gaining ground. It seems that both DiCaprio and Scorcese are outsiders to be recognised for this project, but the film itself could prove to be a major upset come ceremony time.

 

It Should Be… Alfonso Cuaron – Gravity

It Will Be… Alfonso Cuaron – Gravity

OSCARS 2014: WHO WAS THE BEST ACTOR?

Oscars day is finally here! With just a few hours to go, we wanted to make sure you had our picks for one of the tightest races run this year. Place your bets on anyone, and you won’t be laughed at. This really could go any way! What do you think..?

 

“Best Actor”

 

Christian Bale – American Hustle: Bale was beaten to the Golden Globe by Leonardo DiCaprio, and unfortunately when combining the two globes categories into one general award for Best Actor, Bale doesn’t stand much of a chance. American Hustle really did well in the nominations, being recognised for all four acting categories, as well as nominating David O. Russell for Best Director (and many more nominations), but public rating of American Hustle has dropped dramatically: it just isn’t going to be Bale who cuts it this year.

Bruce Dern – Nebraska: Film critics cannot seem to fault Dern’s performance in ‘Nebraska’, and the film got nods for both Best Director and Best Actress, however the problem here is that Nebraska has not been widely celebrated enough to garner this type of award. When up against performances that have been internationally praised (and are commercially attractive), Dern’s performance, while flawless, falls short. He may possibly be the most worthy winner, but he will not pick up the Oscar this year.

Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf of Wall Street: Leo remains strong as the people’s favourite this year. After four Oscar nominations and zero wins, the general public is keen to see DiCaprio finally grasping a statue. However, it may not be that easy. While DiCaprio’s performance as Jordan Belfort provided both comedy and drama without diverging from reality, he is up against some stiff competition. The Wolf Of Wall Street has been questioned for attempting to ‘glorify’ it’s subject matter, but DiCaprio won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a film: Comedy or Musical. This is a tough one to call, but when placed in the same category as McConaughey and Ejifor, it seems DiCaprio would be an upset rather than a frontrunner. 

Chiwetel Ejifor – 12 Years A Slave: Perhaps the clear favourite to win Best Picture, 12 Years A Slave has garnered many nominations and this is just another. Ejifor provided a strong performance in an incredibly strong movie, however we cannot help but feel that Ejifor is nominated here because of the movie itself, not his performance alone. Take away Director Steve McQueen and his supporting actress Lupita Nyong’O, and we doubt Ejifor would be nominated. He might win this year, but it seems unlikely.

Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club: Losing 47lbs to play Ron Woodruff in this year’s heavy hitting Dallas Buyers Club surely put’s McConaughey as a favourite to win. If he does, he will join the ranks of actors such as Charlize Theron and Robert DeNiro who have radically changed their appearance for roles that have won them Oscars. Despite the weight loss, McConaughey;s performance was certainly solid enough to win him this honour, and a nod for Jared Leto early in the night would probably secure it.

 

It Should Be… Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf of Wall Street

It Will Be… Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club

FILM REVIEW: “12 YEARS A SLAVE”

“12 Years A Slave”

Written by: John Ridley, Solomon Northrup (novel)

Directed by: Steve McQueen

Starring: Chiwetel Ejifor, Lupita Nyong’O, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt

Story: After being kidnapped and sold into slavery, Solomon Northrup spends twelve years trying to prove he is a free man from New York.

Image

It seems impossible to know where to start when reviewing one of the most acclaimed movies of the year. ’12 Years A Slave’ has already received over fifteen notable awards and is hot tipped to take home the ‘Best Picture’ Oscar on Sunday night. The film has demanded so much attention, it seems unlikely that anyone would not enjoy it.

But alas, that is the curse of the ‘Best Picture’ nominee: quite often those films who win are not traditionally enjoyed by the wider commercial market.

The performances are certainly worthy of the attention they have been given. Chiwetel Ejifor is remarkable as Solomon Northrup, but is completely overshadowed by newcomer Lupita Nyong’O. Fassbender rounds out the notable performances. Not to be forgotten, though, is Paul Dano who makes the most of his screentime by offering a truly chilling portrayal as white supremacist Tibeats. Brad Pitt is also in this movie, but is neither relevant or memorable. His complete lack of chemistry even puts a dampener on the scenes in which he appears, somewhat stifling Ejifor in the process.

Having said this, 12 Years A Slave is not a film that is altogether enjoyable to watch. McQueen chooses to give us long shots, periods of silence and one could even feel that McQueen is solely trying to make his audience uncomfortable. Indeed, some of the most graphic scenes almost appear exaggerated or drawn out as if to try and drive his point home. Watching the film is awkward, tense, and a melancholic experience. By the two hour mark, one may even start to lose their sympathy for the Northrup character: he seems more concerned with the injustice of his own capture than with the situation of slavery in the US as a whole. This is more than a race issue, but Northrup distinguishes himself from all others int he film because he was ‘wealthy’. Less than a race issue, we now are faced with Northrup’s views on a class society. It would be interesting to see, as this film is integrated into school curriculum’s, how much this particular issue is developed.

Dealing with such an issue as slavery, something that continues to haunt the hearts and minds of both black and white Americans, there almost needs to be a certain sensitivity with which you present it. Watching 12 Years one may feel that McQueen has forgotten this in favor of trying to shock, startle, and upset his audiences more than any filmmaker has before. One might walk out of the cinema feeling angry at the injustices presented, but the true point of the film is ultimately lost.

While 12 Years A Slave is a good movie, with stunning landscapes and phenomenal performances, it leaves a bitter and sick feeling in the hearts and minds of audiences, making us feel like we were not entertained, but mocked.

 

Rating: 3.5/5

 

OSCARS 2014: WHO WAS THE BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR?

Part three of our five-part Oscar Predictions series sees us review some of the best supporting actors of the last year. One of the most talented categories of this year, it will definitely be hard to pick, but we will do our best! Have you got an opinion? Let us know in the comments!

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Barkhad Abdi – Captain Phillips: A first time actor, Abdi is the first Somali in history to be nominated for an Academy Award. This alone is a pretty impressive feat. With a BAFTA under his belt in this category and especially given the Academy’s tendency to favor the newbie, this puts Abdi in with a good shot. However, seasoned professionals such as Jared Leto and Bradley Cooper have scooped more awards and critics favor this year which could mean losing out this time.

Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club: Famously losing 30 pounds to play an AIDs infected transgender is certainly both risque and committed enough to put Leto as the front-runner for this year. He won the SAG Award and Golden Globe for this role as well as a plethora of other gongs and his performance has been hailed as one of the best of all time. One would be crazy to think that Leto is anything other than the favorite. Having said this, missing out on even a nomination for the BAFTA could damage his momentum.

Bradley Cooper- American Hustle: If there was an Academy Award for tightest curled locks, then Cooper would be a shoe in. His performance in the award-winning American Hustle has garnered quite a bit of attention despite the film being so highly criticized. Nominated last year for Silver Lining’s Playbook, one might think that now is Cooper’s time to win, however in such tight competition it seems unlikely that this unevenly received performance will be the one to nab the statue.

Michael Fassbender – 12 Years A Slave: In a film that has rallied such attention and support, Michael Fassbender has been almost famously overlooked. Praise for Lupita Nyong’O and Chiwetel Ejifor have completely overshadowed Fassbender’s supporting role. This is a great example of a very strong ensemble cast who are separated by the fact that breakout performances make the Hollywood Veterans look disappointing. Further to this, Fassbender has taken on a role that is inherently unlikable and is never redeemed: that itself is a tough stigma to crack.

Jonah Hill – The Wolf of Wall Street: Hill became famous in this role after admitting that he worked for a low fee of just $6,000 because of his overwhelming desire to work with Martin Scorsese. Truly committed to the part, Hill tried to convince Producers to let him eat a live goldfish to add more of a sense of realism. Though Hill provided moments of sheer hilarity and added an undeniable chemistry to the Wolf of Wall St cast as a whole, this movie is and always will be Leonardo DiCaprio: If any award is given to WOWS this year it will go to him.

It Should Be… Barkhad Abdi – Captain Phillips

It Will Be… Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club

NEXT POST: Best Actress

OSCARS 2014: WHAT IS THE BEST PICTURE?

Oscar nominations were released today and the internet is in a frenzy. Some are excited and relieved that their favourite stars or films were nominated for their performances this year. Others were shocked and upset that their chosen performer did not receive the Academy stamp of approval.

So let us take a look at what we have in store this year. I decided to do a breakdown of the top five categories in the ceremony. Each post will have a breakdown of every nominee in each of these categories. These opinions are mine, and I encourage everyone to add their own.

Remember, the 86th Annual Academy Awards airs on March 2nd, and we will be in good hands with Ellen DeGeneres once again at the helm.Individual film reviews will also be posted through the blog in the next six weeks.

BEST PICTURE

American Hustle: David O Russell’s second offering in as many years stampeded through the Golden Globes, scooping up three awards, including Best Motion Picture: Musical Or Comedy. While the performances by the ensemble cast have been praised by most, the film was at times referred to as all pizzaz and no substance. The costumes, music and pouting seem to be enough to carry this movie into the nominations, but can a few good performances push it to the top?

The Wolf Of Wall Street: Martin Scorcese’s fun and flirtatious adaptation of Jordan Belfort’s true to life book received huge criticism for ‘glamourising’  and ‘glorifying’ the world of investment fraud. Indeed, the film did lack the distinct feeling of remorse presented in the novel. However, this three hour parade demonstrates not just humour and drama (a powerhouse combination), but it startles the audience into enjoying the reality of the entire story. Having said that, and given DiCaprio’s strained history with the Academy, this film will either kill or be killed this year.

Captain Phillips: Here we have another film based on a true story, therefore we can assume that the reality of it resonated with it’s viewers. Famously snubbed by the Oscars for this year, Tom Hanks offered a notable performance which takes us back to his ‘Cast Away’ days. He is overshadowed however by newcomers, most specifically Barkhad Abdi as the deranged Somalian pirate Muse. Abdi received a nod from the academy. However, with a lack of nomination in the Best Director category, it seems unlikely that this will take the prize.

Dallas Buyers Club: Well, didn’t this gem just get a nod all around? Nominated in acting categories, as well as Best Director, Film Editing, Screenplay, and Hairstyling. A pretty incredible scoop. The film itself plays upon an incredibly serious topic, and one which should have a pretty solid social impact. In watching it, we can almost feel that the subject matter, AIDS, is a metaphor for the diseases that are eating us all: drugs, alcohol, promiscuity, cancer.. you name it. Ticking all the boxes, this could truly be a dark horse.

Gravity: Alfonso Cuaron’s latest offering is less science fiction (as the plot would suggest) and more a story of pure survival. Cuaron took out Best Director at the Golden Globes and deservedly so: everything from the cinematography, to the music, and even the performance given by Sandra Bullock (who carried the entire film as almost a lone actor, not an easy task) was primed to perfection. Gravity will certainly sweep contenders under the rug in the technical categories, but could the Academy have a science fiction drama take out Best Film?

Her: While this film has a good message, and serves as perhaps a warning to us all of our reliance on technology, it’s quirky nature really does some damage in terms of the Academy and their voting structure. This is a film that you either love or hate. It should win for Best Original Song, but was unfortunately passed up in the cinematography category which is one of the film’s main strengths.

Nebraska: ‘The Artist’ famously took out the Oscar for Best Picture when it delighted audiences with the very fact that they could, in this day and age, still enjoy a black and white film. The film certainly has enough nominations in the acting category to justify a win, and Director Alexander Payne even got the nod, but the true let down here is the lack of technical celebration. There is no back end to the film, and without broad support it does lag behind.

Philomena: This is the token film with heart in this year’s nominations. Poignant, witty, and exceptionally British, Philomena has received rave reviews and Judi Dench has been recognised as one of the most stellar performances of the year. Again adapted from a novel (the adaptation has received a nomination for screenwriting) the story is one that will tug on the heart and mind of anyone who watches it. The sole representative for British films, though, it perhaps lacks the glamour or relationship to the Academy to go all the way.

12 Years A Slave: This film resonates in it’s dark social significance. While the film is difficult to watch, it tests the audience’s emotion and leaves many feeling truly disturbed. Let’s not forget that it’s sweep of nominations in multiple categories places it as a worthy contender. Many did not watch this film due to it’s graphic and at times almost unwatchable content, however with the absence of similar films like ‘Mandela’ and ‘The Butler’, this could leave room for 12 Years A Slave to snatch the top prize.

It Should Be… ‘The Wolf Of Wall Street’

It Will Be… ‘12 Years A Slave’

NEXT POST: Best Supporting Actress

**AN: This was originally posted on my personal blog: www.rachel-helena.blogspot.com – please do check it out.