Here’s the part where I talk about how I rarely post on my blog and so forth. I noticed the last time I posted here was well, the last time I did an Oscar Binge post. Oops. Here we are again though, and it’s Academy Awards Eve. If I weren’t a huge football fan and a huge Denver Broncos fan who just watched his team destroy the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50, this would be my Super Bowl. That’s what I tell people anyway. Now, I know the Oscars are a huge popularity contest amongst the snobbiest of snobbies in Hollywood, but that’s fine. I enjoy them and have ever since Jurassic Park was nominated back in 1994 (for the 1993 year).
Alright, I just finished the last of the Best Picture Nominees and so we’ll probably start there, but I want to point out that I’ve had most of them viewed for a while. I’ve just been procrastinating on getting this written up. Also, I normally like to watch all of the films that include the performance nominees as well, but this year I wasn’t able to get to all of them and by that I mean a few of them just didn’t appeal to me. But here’s what I do know:
Nominated For: Best Picture, Directing, Actress in a Leading Role, Adapted Screenplay.
This one is the most fresh in my mind so we’ll start here. I’ll have to admit I did zero research on this film leading up to watching it and as such, I literally thought the whole hour and 57 minutes would take place in this small room. I asked myself how this could hold up for that long and still be interesting. But of course thankfully, I was wrong because I decided not to read a simple synopsis.
The gist of the story is that Joy (heheh, there are two characters named Joy this year who are played by actresses who were nominated for their performances) gets kidnapped at 17 and is held captive for seven years and in that time she has a child, whom we celebrate a fifth birthday for in the beginning of the movie. Even though the entire movie does not take place inside “Room” it does get us through to the half way point before the scenery changes a bit.
This story turned out to be much more than I’d initially imagined and by the end I was quite enthralled with what I had just watched, which was much heavier and much more morose than I was even ready to get into when I sat down to watch it. Without having watched 45 or Carol, I suppose I can’t say for certain, but I’m hard pressed to believe anyone gave a better performance out of the Best Actress nominees than Brie Larson. She was outstanding. The weight of what Joy carried and the trauma she must have gone through was really palpable in Larson’s performance. Almost equally, I thought that Joan Allen, William H. Macy and Tom McCamus brought out the helplessness family members of kidnapping victims must feel after such a tragedy is over. You want so much to feel ecstatic and happy for your loved one, but you don’t know how to cope with the trauma they’ve gone through because you weren’t there. These three did that wonderfully.
There has been a lot of buzz, as there is every year regarding Oscar snubs and so forth and if we’re going to talk about that then I think we need to talk about how Jacob Tremblay is not on the list of Best Actors in a Supporting Role because that little kid was phenomenal. His performance might have been better than Larson’s. There is no one I rooted more for during this movie than that kid. I’m assuming Tremblay was a little older than five when they were in production for this, but he had a grasp on the character, the situation and the belief that this little boy would have had in his situation and for a kid that age to be able to portray that and get that emotion was impressive.
THE BIG SHORT: 6/10
Nominated For: Best Picture, Directing, Actor in a Supporting Role, Editing, Adapted Screenplay.
I’ll be completely honest in saying that I was kind of lost through most of this film because I don’t really understand the stock market or housing situation but that’s not to say this was not a good movie.
If there was an Academy Award for Best Ensemble Cast (and there should be) then this one would definitely be in the nominees for that category. I’m also curious as to how Steve Carrell was not among the nominees for Best Actor. Not that I think he would win, but I did think his performance was great.
As a result of what I said previously, I regretfully don’t have much to say about this film other than that I enjoyed the acting (not sure Bale, as much as I love him, deserved a nomination though) and I thought it was put together well. I don’t think anyone should be surprised about the editing, directing and screenplay nominations because the film was smooth and didn’t deviate from it’s plan.
IF you have even the slightest grasp of the stock market and the housing bubble burst and so forth, then you might really enjoy this movie. Or, it could’ve been completely way off and you might hate it, but I have no idea. I was confused through most of it.
Oh, and if you can’t watch the trailer video, the movie is basically about a group of brokers and investors that foresaw the housing bubble burst and they attempted to cash in on it early on before it happened.
BRIDGE OF SPIES: 8/10
Nominated For: Best Picture, Actor in a Supporting Role, Original Score, Sound Mixing, Production Design, Original Screenplay.
In a film that picked up six nominations, it’s very peculiar that one of them wasn’t for Best Actor in a Leading role. I thought most of the cast did a fine job but I thought Hanks was the strongest of all of them and that includes Mark Rylance, who garnered a Supporting Actor nod. Also, how does Steven Spielberg direct a movie like this and not get a nomination?
Whenever Spielberg makes a movie like this, you know it’s going to be a good one through to the end. The brilliant thing about it is that these are historical films about events that occurred and that we can read about and yet Spielberg puts us right there in the thick of things as if we were involved in the event itself every time.
This film is about the prisoner exchange between the United States and the then USSR where an insurance lawyer managed to negotiate the release of not only our U2 spy plane pilot, but also a university student being held by the Germans in the 1950s.
Much of this film centers around our lawyer (Hanks) getting to know his client, the Soviet spy (Rylance). Intertwined at just the right increments is the development of the U2 spy plane program and how Russia captured one of its pilots when they shot him down. Once this event occurred, the United States was willing to trade straight up, spy for spy. Our lawyer had different plans. He wanted to bring the student home as well. Two super powers and a third little country trying to establish itself in the world by building a wall are entangled in this dance on splintered glass.
I’ll go ahead and say I’m fine with the nominations it received. The score by Thomas Newman (as always) is wonderful and the writing was pinpoint. The production design was top notch as well. I mean, they had to create the 1950s over again, which is no easy task. I am a bit curious as to how Rylance got a nomination but Hanks didn’t. I didn’t really feel any emotion or sense of wanting to even care about his character. He was just…there. The performance wasn’t riveting or outstanding or through the roof or anything like that.
Alright, moving on. It’s 04:35 in the morning and I can’t think straight.
Nominated For: Best Picture, Actress in a Leading Role, Adapted Screenplay.
Alright, so I was actually interested in this one before the nominations even came out for two reasons. Irish accents and Emily Bett-Rickards. Sadly, Emily isn’t in much of it, but the Saoirse Ronan’s accent alone kept me interested.
This is a rather simple film. Girl emigrates to the United States from Ireland in search of a better life for herself. She wants to become an accountant or some such thing that she’s following her sister’s footsteps in. At first it seems like she might have a rough go of it, but she does live in a boarding house set up by the local Catholic Church where she meets other women her age. She gets a job and we follow her through her first little glimpse in the States but overall the movie has that “feel good” situation going on and the ending doesn’t disappoint.
One thing I liked about this film is that there was no over-the-top miscommunication that tends to help these little soireés along in the romance department. This is just one of those feather-light films where you can watch and not worry about getting stressed out over what happens to the main character. The kind your mom puts on while she crochets in the lounger on a rainy day.
Saoirse’s performance was wonderful, but from what I’ve seen, still nobody is beating Larson. I enjoyed the cinematography and production design, but nothing really stands out in this film, sadly.
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD: 7.5/10
Nominated For: Best Picture, Directing, Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling, Production Design, Visual Effects, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Cinematrography, Costume Design.
I have to admit, I watched this movie a long time ago last summer when it first came out, so my memory is a bit hazy.
What I do remember is that there is virtually no plot. There’s really no direction in this film other than forward at about 100 miles per hour in jacked up muscle cars and big rigs. I’m actually extremely surprised to see this film get a Best Picture nomination because it really wasn’t.
Don’t get me wrong. This movie is pretty awesome. It’s full of action and high octane stunts and some pretty impressive camera work and a downright awesome soundtrack that could get anyone pumped if you played it loud enough.
The characters don’t really have fleshed out back stories and not really knowing exactly what Max’s overall goal was in the film is a bit of a hindrance, but again, oh well, this is an action movie and I’ve got my popcorn ready.
On top of all that, this sucker hauled in ten nominations. TEN. What? Technical awards and design and cinematography, sure, but I’m not so sold on some of the others. This is good knews for sci-fi and action films however, because lately they have been getting more and more recognition from the Academy and Mad Max really drives that point home.
If you haven’t seen Mad Max: Fury Road yet though, I’m not sure what you’re doing with your life. It’s a ton of fun.
Nominated For: Best Picture, Directing, Actress in a Supporting Role, Editing, Original Screenplay.
This is the other film this year that should be in the Best Ensemble Cast category if there was one. Outstanding performances all around. Ruffalo was on another level for him in this one. Keaton did a wonderful job in a supervisory role but I think he was better in Birdman. Although if he’d also gotten a nomination, I wouldn’t be mad.
This movie is basically about the Boston Globe staffers from the Spotlight branch of the paper dive into what turns out to be the gigantic story of molestation within the Catholic church that broke wide open back in the early 2000s.
McAdams, Ruffalo, Keaton and even the smaller players like Crudup, Schreiber and Tucci were all near the top of their game in this one. It felt like the whole cast took this topic to heart and you could see it in their performances.
It would appear my reviews or comments are getting shorter. It’s 05:11 and we’re still trucking. But now we’re to the good stuff.
THE MARTIAN: 8.5/10
Nominated For: Best Picture, Actor in a Leading Role, Production Design, Adapted Screenplay, Visual Effects, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing.
I got about half way through the audio book before I lost it and I was super upset about it because I was having so much fun listening to Mark Watney catalog his daily routine as he’s stranded on Mars.
I felt the same as I watched the movie. The only difference was that I still didn’t know how it would end when I watched the movie so that was fun.
Like the novel, this movie is smart, scientific, awesome and hilarious. Additionally, the visuals are stunning. How this film didn’t get a cinematography nomination is beyond me.
We get to follow Mark around and listen to his sarcastic quips and humorous diagnoses to his every day challenges while he attempts to survive on Mars while waiting for a rescue from NASA.
The cast is great. Damon is hilarious and Daniels, Ejiofor, and everyone else is pleasant and puts up performances that would align with their characters’ positions. Most notably Daniels and Ejiofor. Their exchanges back and forth really sell the tension as well.
This film is visually amazing to look at. I know it’s heavily computer generated but it’s very believable as the landscape of Mars and so forth. I’m a bit upset it didn’t get a cinematography nomination though. I also made a prediction last year some time that Star Wars would sweep the technical categories but I’m wondering if that isn’t a sure fire bet this time around. The Martian, Mad Max: Fury Road and maybe even The Revenant or Ex Machina could take some of those Oscars away from Star Wars.
THE REVENANT: 10/10
Nominated For: Best Picture, Actor in a Leading Role, Actor in a Supporting Role, Directing, Cinematography, Costume Design, Film Editing, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Makeup And Hairstyling, Visual Effects
I’m sitting here listening to the score for this film wondering how that’s one of the only categories this film got snubbed on. Outstanding score. This film is spectacular. By far my favorite film in the Academy Awards this season. I know everyone wants Leo to get his Oscar, but I’m serious when I say that if he does not get the win for this, there is something seriously wrong with Hollywood and the Academy.
DiCaprio was fantastic. I kept telling people he was channeling his inner Daniel Day-Lewis throughout the film and it worked. If you try to tell me that he shouldn’t even have a nomination because he hardly had any lines in the movie, then we can’t talk movies because I’ll tell you to your face you know nothing about film.
Conversely, Hardy’s character talked way too much and he played it flawlessly. This film will be taking home a lot of statues later on (tonight).
There is so much substance and meat to this film that I wish I was in the mood to write about. The symbolism in almost every shot and every action taken by DiCaprio’s character alone could garner an entire blog post by itself. There is so much of the Hero’s Journey woven deep into the sinews of this story and visually portrayed on the screen. And beautifully too. If this doesn’t win the cinematography award I will be furious. Natural lighting? Come on! The ability to capture that lonely, cold, abandoned and close to death and despair feeling through just the landscape and some of the brilliant shots within this film is a feat in itself.
There are certain shots throughout this film that really sell this movie and establish it as the top contender this year. The camera work is extremely close up a lot of times and that makes it much more personal and evasive. The blood in the water or on the snow bank with it’s sacrificial meaning by the icy cold creak, the wind in the trees that goes along with our hero’s inner voice and mantra. The bear attack. That’s all I’m saying about that.
This film is by far the best film I’ve seen in a while.
Now, I have seen some of the other nominees in different categories. Sicario, Trumbo, Steve Jobs, Joy and just to name a few. I won’t really go into those much except to say that even so, The Revenant should be the king of the Oscars this year. Sicario had outstanding cinematography and a wonderfully haunting score while Trumbo was just interesting altogether if you’re a film history buff. Joy was okay, but I don’t think this is Lawrence’s strongest work and Steve Jobs was rather great. Fassbender was perfect and I hope Kate Winslet wins Best Supporting Actress for it.