best actress

OSCARS 2015: THE RESULTS…

How about a post from 30,000 feet?

OSCARS 2015: SURPRISES AND RELIEFS!

SURPRISES:

 SURPRISE: Birdman as Best Picture.
OK, yes, we picked it. Birdman had gained incredibly momentum over the last few weeks and seemed the likely winner. Having said this and predicted it ourselves, it was still surprising that Boyhood would not take the Oscar home. Between the high emotional stakes of the film and the time dedicated to it (not just from he Director, but from all involved), we had perhaps hoped that this would be enough to win big. Unfortunately, it just didn’t happen. This leads us to…

SURPRISE: Alejandro Innaritu as Best Director.
Now, this isn’t really a surprise, and the award is not undeserving. His creative lead ensured that Birdman was one of the most original pieces from the last five years. Much like the ‘Best Picture’ award, though, it is disappointing that this wouldn’t go to Richard Linklater. It really seemed like his time after beautiful films like Before Sunset, and a 12 year investment isn’t easy. We were sorry to see him walk away without one of the ‘big two’. 

SURPRISE: Grand Budapest Hotel winning in both Costume Design and Makeup/Hairstyling.
The production design for this movie was brilliant: the entire film was an array of colour and sound (somewhat of an assault on the senses: very ‘Wes’) However, when faced with tough competition from the likes of Guardians Of The Galaxy (Zoe Saldana being painted green anyone?!) it came as quite a surprise that Grand Budapest would reign supreme. 

SURPRISE: ‘Best Picture’ winner falls short in acting categories.
This seems strange. Generally when we have a film win both ‘Best Picture’ and ‘Best Director’, there are additional victories within the acting categories, either for lead or supporting performances. Yes, Birdman backed up their win with many technical accolades, but to not see any performances recognized is interest
ing. Perhaps this simply proves that Birdman was not reliant on it’s actors, and thing could be a good thing?

RELIEFS:

THANK GOD: Eddie Redmayne as Best Actor.
Yes the competition was tight, with an absolutely stellar performance from Michael Keaton hot on his heels, but Redmayne was the standout winner this year. And what a cherry on top that Stephen Hawking reached out to Eddie to congratulate him on doing such a fantastic job. When you make your subject proud, you know you have done a good job!

THANK GOD: Birdman wins Best Cinematography.
This shouldn’t really need explaining. When is the last time we had ‘single take’ cinematography running through an entire film?! This not only made Birdman a joy to watch, but really got in behind the theatrical undertones of the film and drove them home.

THANK GOD: JK Simmons for Whiplash.
Definitely our tempo.

THANK GOD: Patricia Arquette wins for Boyhood.
As with our surprises above, we are super relieved that there was recognition for Boyhood, and Arquette was an incredibly worthy recipient. Arquette also made the second actress over 40 who took home an Oscar last night, truly silencing those who say there are no roles for older women in Hollywood.

What were your surprises and reliefs? Is there anyone you wish hadn’t won? Or had?! Let us know!

OSCAR PREDICTIONS: BEST ACTOR & BEST ACTRESS

Best Actor:
72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards - Press Room

Nominees:

Steve Carrell (Foxcatcher)

Bradley Cooper (American Sniper

Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game)

Eddie Redmayne (Theory Of Everything)

Michael Keaton (Birdman)

The Performances: Strangely enough this year we had a few of these performances surrounded in controversy. Steve Carrell’s role in Foxcatcher was protested by Mark Schultz, the film’s subject, for being too homosexually oriented. Bradley Cooper’s portrayal of Chris Kyle was also objected by those claiming that the character was not true to life, and the film glorified war. Another really interesting thing is that 4/5 nominees are playing “based on true life” characters and we know that these are always shoe in for any major awards. We also deal with a few major topics: Mental illness in show business and sports (Carrell and Keaton;, Homosexuality (Cumberbatch); War (Cooper); and terminal illness (Redmayne). All of this makes it really hard to call. Both Michael Keaton and Eddie Redmayne have been snatching up awards left and right, but despite strong performances many of the others are yet to get lucky.  Eddie-Redmayne

Who Should Win? Eddie Redmayne: the intensity and emotion in his performance is closely rivalled but ultimately unmatched this year.

Who Will Win: Eddie Redmayne is going to take this one home, too. Not only was his performance absolutely stellar, but between physical training and time spent with Hawkins himself, he has really put in the legwork. Additionally, the Academy loves a good biopic, especially if the subject is still living and is happy about the end result.

Best Actress:

moo-jan12The Nominess:

Felicity Jones (Theory Of Everything)

Julianne Moore (Still Alice)

Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)

Reese Witherspoon (Wild)

Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night)

The Performances: This really is a mixed bag this year. All performances were well reviewed, but we are dealing with players in psychological thrillers, romantic dramas, and biopics. Felicity Jones gives a strong performance, but is overshadowed by her male counterpart in Theory Of Everything and doesn’t really give us enough ‘Oscar Moments’. The same can be said for Rosamund Pike. Marion Cotillard is a bit of a wildcard here since ‘Two Days, One Night’ didn’t even really get a wide release: many were surprised by her nomination but we have to understand that we are dealing with the Academy here and they have their favourites. Which leaves us with two…
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Who Should Win? This one is hard to call, but we are inclined to say Witherspoon. Her performance was one of the most mature she has ever delivered and almost felt documentary-style. Flashbacks littered throughout meant she had to play two entirely different characters and mould them together: when not made in chronological order this makes her performance all the more impressive.

Who Will Win? Julianne Moore. Much like Redmayne she delivers a performance of intensity and emotion dealing with a very real disease. The attention on Alzheimers and spread of the disease means she has touched many people worldwide. Moore will triumph over Witherspoon on the ‘relatability’ card. 

SNUBS: Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler) , Jennifer Aniston (Cake)

FILM REVIEW: “WILD”

‘Wild’

Written by: Nick Hornby, Cheryl Strayed (novel),

Directed by: Jean-Marc Vallee

Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern

Story: Haunted by her past drug abuse, tragedy, and infidelity, Cheryl Strayed decides to walk the 1,100 mile Pacific Crest Trail to heal her body, mind and soul.

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Wild is a film that has garnered a lot of attention over recent months, and has been on the campaign trail for some serious awards. Witherspoon missed out on the Golden Globe, but managed to secure herself an Oscar nomination. This makes for an interesting task in reviewing the film.

The story of ‘Wild’ is simple and director Jean-Marc Vallee really could of made either a beautiful or an abysmal film out of it. When you take such a simple story you run the risk of making either a boring film or a film that really tried too hard to be introverted or philosophical. Wild is neither. While it does get off to a relatively slow start, the film provides the perfect amount of philosophy to balance the technical ‘hiking’ aspects of the film.

Strayed, on her journey, faces a number of issues due to both the physically torturous nature of the hike, to struggling to deal with her own prior indiscretions. It would be easy to say that Strayed is not a likeable character, however within her ability to be self deprecating and at the same time inwardly optimistic, we find something undeniably relatable. Anyone who has ever done something that they’re not proud of that really stays with them is going to be able to understand at some level what it is that the protagonist is dealing with.

Witherspoon’s performance is strong, and perhaps the strongest we have seen from her to date: this is a considerable statement since Witherspoon has always been one of the most consistently reliable performers within her genre. Witherspoon gives Strayed a sense of humanity and a genuinely real nature which draws an investment out of the audience. While we can try to be critical of her performance (because this is what we do), there really isn’t much that we can fault.

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Jean-Marc Vallee has constructed a film that is stark: it contrasts so tightly the beauty of nature vs real life in quick cuts between Strayed’s heroin binges and her new life living on bare necessities. This contrast alone adds depth to the film and begs the viewer to notice the differences between fundamental need and desire. Where Cheryl may have made decisions in the past based on desire, as we all do, it was getting back to nature and the essentials of human life that made her human again.

Perhaps the most brilliant part of this film is the soundtrack. With artists such as Wings, Simon & Garfunkel, Leonard Cohen, Bruce Springsteen, and Portishead to name a few, the score will bring any music lover to their knees. The songs are all emotional and are tracks that can hold personal interest to viewers, which only opens us up more to relate to the loneliness and isolation of the main character.

All in all, ‘Wild’ is well balanced, patient, and poetic. It really is a film that looks inwards and a film that will touch even the most insensitive soul. We will most definitely watch again.

Rating: 9.5/10

FILM REVIEW: ‘BOYHOOD’

‘Boyhood’

Written by: Richard Linklater

Directed by: Richard Linklater

Starring: Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Lorelei Linklater

Story: The journey of a young boy from ages 5 to 18.

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It is difficult to know where to begin talking about a movie like ‘Boyhood’. It is, in itself, an epic: a three hour journey from childhood to adulthood. It is epic in it’s running time, but it is also epic in the fact that it took Richard Linklater twelve years to make: the effect of this being that we experience this family and their growth in the closest way. We do not see a sudden change as the actor becomes someone we recognise: these are the people who have been on the journey with us all along, and it makes it all the more real.

The story itself is so beautifully simple. Linklater is simply inviting us to watch and observe a family grow up, grow together, and perhaps even grow apart. Somehow you can imagine that this is Linklater’s own coming of age after films like ‘Dazed and Confused’, and ‘School of Rock’.  ‘Boyhood’ follows Mason Jnr (Ellar Coltrane) from age 5 to age 18. We observe his struggles with his family – played out perfectly by Patricia Arquette, Lorelei Linklater and Ethan Hawke – and observe almost perversely the way that Mason deals with every single little thing that we have all had to deal with, including talking to girls for the first time, and getting his heart broken. We see Mason literally grow up in this time capsule piece.

Spending so long making this film has allowed the cast to really melt into their roles, and invites the audience to become a fly on the wall in their lives. We are encouraged to become part of their family and part of their human experience. The film almost feeds the part of us that loves reality television in a stunning and really captivating way. Throughout the entire piece we feel enraged at poor parenting choices but also we feel so sorry and so awful for the fact that Arquette and Hawke seem completely aware of these choices and the impact they are having on their children. It could take some reminding too that Arquette and Hawke are not actually married, and we did not just watch a recap of their lives.

boyhood

Credit must be given to those responsible for putting together the soundtrack. For anyone who grew up in the 90s, you will remember well most of the songs in this piece and you can trace them back to parts of your own childhood. This just makes the experience all the more powerful. It doesn’t feel like a movie. You don’t feel bad going to make yourself a cup of tea, or skipping out to the bathroom halfway though: these people will continue to develop around you: you are merely an observer.

Of course, there are some goofs. While her performance was fantastic, Lorelei Linklater seems a strange fit for Samantha, Mason’s sister. How is it that Arquette and Hawke, both fair skinned and blue eyed, could produce a brown eyed daughter? In fact, when researching more into this matter, you will find that Lorelei was actually born in Mexico. While this is not a total deal breaker for the film, it does remove some of the illusion of reality from the story.

All in all, Richard Linklater has produced a masterpiece of a film. It doesn’t feel like a film, nor does it feel like work to write or think about. It is the opportunity to spend three hours in the life of someone else: in their shoes and in their home. Such creative filmmaking should be rewarded, and turning something so simple into something so beautiful is a skill Linklater possesses that he has gifted to us here.

Rating: 9/10

OSCARS 2014: WHO WAS THE BEST ACTRESS?

Part four of five in our Oscar Predictions! This is undoubtedly the most competitive category in this year’s awards season. In fact, the only nominee here who has not previously won an Academy Award is Amy Adams. Does this mean she will secure the title for 2014? Here is what we think…

“BEST ACTRESS”

 

Amy Adams- American Hustle: Once seen as a frontrunner in this category, Adams now seems to be the most likely to ‘upset’ the predicted winner. While her performance was solid and perhaps one of the most removed, it is unsure whether the film itself has the gravitas to carry her to the win. American Hustle has scored ten nominations here, but it seems highly unlikely that Adams will win if her co-stars do not.

Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine: The definitive favorite! Many are putting Blanchett at up to 90% likely to win this year for her moving performance in Woody Allen’s ‘Blue Jasmine’. The only thing really that could hurt her chances is if the Academy starts to feel that voting for Blanchett would be voting for Allen (in light of his recent personal troubles), however chances of this happening are slim to none. If we could put our money anywhere, it would be with her.

Sandra Bullock – Gravity: While a great film, Gravity has unfortunately (and perhaps inevitably) been over shadowed by later releases like American Hustle and The Wolf Of Wall Street. Bullocks performance carried most of this two hour film and has been widely praised. Having said this, historically Academy voters have tended to overlook the performances when the film relies heavily on special effects. The film as a whole will most likely be recognized, but not Bullock.

Judi Dench – Philomena: Far and away the nicest and most relatable performance in this year’s Best Actress Category, Dench’s Philomena is a heart warming individual that has been celebrated by critics. There is, though, the issue of Philomena being perhaps too human and far too nice to win the statue, particularly against Blanchett’s mentally unstable Jasmine.

Meryl Streep – August: Osage County: The issue here is that aside from Streep and Julia Roberts, August Osage County has been panned by critics and viewers alike. Many say that the only great thing about this film is the performances from the two women. For this reason alone, we put Streep unfortunately as a total outsider in this category. Despite the Acedemy’s love for her, chances of winning remain very very low.

 

It Should Be.… Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine

It Will Be…. Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine

 

NEXT POST: BEST ACTOR


You can view our reviews of some of these films below!!

PHILOMENA

AMERICAN HUSTLE

AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY

FILM REVIEW: ‘AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY’ (2014)

“August: Osage County”

Written by: Tracey Letts

Directed by: John Wells

Starring: Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Dermot Mulroney, Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregor, Abigail Breslin…

Story: A dysfunctional family is brought together after a family tragedy, and is forced to deal with family truths about the home they grew up in and the strong willed woman who raised them.

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Tracey Letts is the man behind ‘August: Osage County’. The film was originally a play, which gifted Letts with both a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award. The film adaptation drew a strong cast, who have been nominated over and over, namely Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, for their portrayals of mother and daughter Violet and Barbara Weston. Given that the film has received such attention for the cast, we have to wonder where the rest of the recognition fell off. Very few nominations for the screenplay, and John Wells has received little recognition for his Directing, we approach this film with curiosity.

The answer to this becomes apparent as soon as you begin watching. The cast itself are spectacular: Meryl Streep is both hilarious and worrying as the drug addled mother trying to cope with the loss of her husband, and Julia Roberts gives her best performance since Erin Brockovich. It seems almost a shame that awards season is so competitive this year. Were it not for Cate Blanchett’s performance in Blue Jasmine, Streep would be a shoe in for any and every trophy. With strong performances from Ewan McGregor and Chris Cooper serving as the voice of reason against these hot headed women, the interactions are an absolute joy to watch.

Unfortunately, the glory of the film begins and ends with the performances.

While the dialogue (which is alive with profanity) is both captivating and at times shockingly good, the story itself is convoluted with multiple subplots that are left underdeveloped and unresolved. From drugs, abuse, incest, and even touching on statutory rape, one starts to feel pulled in different directions and unsure where to invest. While we want to follow the story of the relationship between Roberts and Streep (as this is by far the most interesting) we are consistently distracted by an onslaught of extremely sensitive issues which are brushed past and never fully explored.

Indeed, aside from the dialogue the film itself is dull. Perhaps this dullness is to serve as a metaphor for the lives of those stuck in Osage County, however it does not serve well for viewing. We are offered a few pretty landscapes (which the characters are quick to complain about) but most of the film is shot inside a dark and dreary house. The lighting is dim and the film moves slowly. There is no respite from the misery that August: Osage County has to offer.

There are a few comedic moments but not enough to carry the film to where you want it to go. In the end we are left with minimal resolution: a ‘driving off into the sunset’ moment simply does not justify the reality of the rest of the film.

With such strong performances from every single cast member, you really really want to enjoy August: Osage County, and indeed I would never discourage anybody from watching it: when you can get to grips with the main story of family it does resonate. However, the lack of nominations in any other category aside from acting is plainly evidenced and supported when you watch this in it’s entirety.

If you are one for stark, witty dialogue and a stellar ensemble cast then definitely watch August: Osage County. If not, then perhaps give it a miss.

 

Rating: 3/5

 

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