leonardo dicaprio

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

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FILM REVIEW: ‘THE WOLF OF WALL STREET’ (2013)

“The Wolf Of Wall Street”

Written by: Terence Winter (Adapted from the book ‘The Wolf Of Wall Street’ by Jordan Belfort)

Directed by: Martin Scorsese

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie

Story: Based on the autobiographical novel by Jordan Belfort, ‘The Wolf Of Wall Street’ profiles his rise to fame and fortune as a stockbroker, and his subsequent downfall involving corruption, fraud, and crime

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There are two words needed when one begins to review ‘The Wolf Of Wall Street’:

Scorsese. DiCaprio.

Both are famous from previous works such as ‘The Departed’, there is almost a stigma attached to the works of this pair. When entering the theatre, you know that you are going to see something that could make you laugh, cry, and think for days on end.

Having come across Jordan Belfort a few years ago amongst sales training seminars, I personally was familiar with his story. I read ‘The Wolf Of Wall Street’ in all it’s glory long before venturing to the cinema, and I can only imagine the look on Terence Winter’s face when Scorsese handed him this novel and said, ‘I want you to make this into a screenplay, and spare no detail’.  And this is exactly what Winter did.

The screenplay itself is phenomenal: it captures the very essence of the book and when put on screen eludes something almost like a drug: the lives of these characters is so attainable, yet so poisonous: an audience is tempted and almost lured into this world that is so convincingly created, yet they know that it cannot lead to any good. The only thing missing from the screenplay has received a huge amount of backlash. Throughout the whole novel we get the distinct impression that Belfort is not proud of himself: he is very remorseful when telling his story. Indeed, Scorsese has come under fire for apparently ‘glorifying’ this life of sex, drugs, and stock fraud. Wiping out this sense of guilt does not do any favours and might be the only thing missing.

Having said this, DiCaprio is nothing short of mesmerising in this role and it appears that this was the part he was born to play. We laugh with him; tense when he tenses; and hang on to every facial spasm as if it is the end of his days. For a film that plays for three hours, this is essential and an integral part of the story. DiCaprio’s diversity is well on show, as he is both happy and distraught at the drop of a hat.

Comic relief comes in the form of Jonah Hill, who plays Belfort’s partner in crime Donnie Azoff. Hill truly does pull out all the stops to create his stupid yet sincerely likeable character: he even creates a sense that was missing from the book: that Donnie really is Belfort’s support system and lifeline through much of their ordeal. Rumour has it Hill was even arguing with film crew to let him actually eat a goldfish to make the scene the most realistic. There is no doubt that this work will put Jonah Hill in a different league of Hollywood actor altogether.

As much as word limits might hold us back, we simply cannot discuss this film without mentioning Margot Robbie. An Australian actress and a relative unknown, Robbie masters everything to do with this part, from the accent to the demeanour, and even the look and feel of Naomi Lapaglia. She is feisty, good hearted, and an intoxicating ‘sex kitten’, which serves exactly the purpose of her in Belfort’s life: she is his anchor, but also his biggest weakness. Robbie’s stellar contributions to the most emotional and consequential scenes in this film could not be replaced.

Scorsese is on fine form and has spared no expense here. When watching a Scorsese film, one gets the feeling that everything that can be controlled has been: the lighting, audio, cinematography… All of these end up completely inessential to the story, however they make watching a three hour film all the more enjoyable.

Scorsese possesses a rare gift in a filmmaker in his ability to create an entirely different universe for his audience to enjoy. When we are watching Belfort and his merry group of men parade around New York City, we do not make that connection to real life. We cannot process that this was actually New York City, and these things actually happened. We are, for that brief time, drawn into Scorsese’s world of free living and we daren’t look back. When we do come to it makes the film all the more enjoyable to try and believe that these things, the people, and the actions were in fact real. Majority of the audience will spare little afterthought for the negative consequences of this story: they will be drawn to love the simplicity of the human characters that we are offered.

‘The Wolf Of Wall Street’ is a must see for anyone with burning ambition to be something in life, or anyone who knows someone exactly like that. We are all a little bit of Jordan Belfort.

Rating: 4.5/5

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*Photo Credit: imdb.com

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.