Person of the Day – Leonardo DiCaprio

I’m so lazy these days and it’s almost Oscar-time already… But meanwhile let’s celebrate another great actor that I, again, absolutely adore. And it goes nicely together with my last post about great Kate. So:

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Yes, it is Mr DiCaprio’s birthday today and he is turning mighty fine 43. I have obviously loved him since Titanic (and yes again, it’s been 20 years), had a huge crush on him back then. I’ve seen most of his films, I think there’s probably 3-4 that I haven’t. And I actually think I have most of them on DVD as well as I collected them back in the days when I still bought hard copies.

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Besides Leo being one of the greatest actors alive, he is using his power and money to do good. For example his foundation has collected around 80m dollars to save the environment. It’s hard not to appreciate people who will dedicate a big part of their life to do good. Leo is for sure one of those guys. But then again, he likes to date models 20 years younger. But who could blame him? 😀

gilbertgrapeLeonardo DiCaprio was born in Hollywood and started acting as a child in commercials and educational programs. He got some small parts in TV series when in his teenage. His first feature film was Critters 3 (that I haven’t seen) but got his name out in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape in 1993. He also received his first Oscar nomination for that film and deservedly so. If you haven’t seen this Johnny Depp starring movie, you should. Already Leo is a reason to see it. Since then he has gathered five acting nominations and finally won one for The Revenant. If you ask me, he is a guarantee these days for a film, even though some of his latter films haven’t been THAT great, they’ve always been at least watchable.

As I did with Kate, I want to celebrate Leo’s day by listing my five favourite films of his. I could also list my favourite performances of his because there are quite a lot of difference in there, for example The Revenant; I admire the film and Leo is amazing but I really didn’t like it. And for sure, I don’t want to see it again. So these are my favourite ones, the ones I actually like a lot.

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5) The Departed (2006)

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I thought it would be a bit easier to choose these five as Leo tends to do quite hard, dark stuff that you don’t really want to see again even though how great the film is. The Departed is one of those dark ones that I really want to see again. It’s been way too long since I saw it. And liked it A LOT. Great film with great cast. Definitely earned all the praise it got (four Oscars).

Another film that I considered to be my number five was Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can (2002), a film about Frank Abagnale Jr., a real life conman who managed to cheat people around the world already before turning 20. The film is actually great but I made my film analysis course of it and omg how many times I’ve watched that film and shred it to pieces. Ugh. I’m not sure I want to see it ever again but if you haven’t, you should, it’s terrific! My guest review of the film can be found at Cinema Parrot Disco.  

4) Romeo + Juliet (1996)

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Gosh, it’s been way too long since I watched this the last time. I might even put it higher if I could remember it better. But I remember that first time when I watched it. I think I wrote dreadful poetry afterwards for hours. But I was a teenager and what is more suiting than two beautiful people in tragic romance. Yep. But I still love how dream-like the whole movie is. With one stellar cast.

3) The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

My review of the film. And I still stand by all those words. And deffo my favourite performance of Mr DiCaprio. He is so funny.

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2) Inception (2010)

I kind of wanted to put this on the top of the list as the film is absolutely beautiful, interesting, looks stunning and has amazing ensemble cast. Inception to me is almost the perfect film. When I first saw it in the cinema, I was stunned. I almost fell from my chair because I was leaning forward with amazement. Perfection.

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1. Titanic (1997)

You knew it all along. Who didn’t love Leo, Kate and that huge sinking ship back in 1997? And I still do. Without lying, I think I’ve seen this film at least 40 times. At least. At some point I was able to continue the dialogue if someone first started. I watched it all the time. Like ALL the time.

Fun fact: While I browsed IMDb for those links, I noticed that besides those doomed love stories all other films mentioned in my top-5 were at IMDb’s Top-250 list. I did the search, he has total of six films on that list. Talking about one of the greats.

 

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Person of the Day – Kate Winslet

katewinslet_rosedewitbukaterI absolutely adore Kate Winslet. I obviously got to know her via Titanic like the rest of the world and since then I fell in love with her and her work more and more every day. There’s something so beautiful in her. And of course, she looks stunning but at the same time she looks and acts normal. She has always fought against this that everyone in Hollywood should be paper thin. She could be your neighbour yet she’s amazingly talented actress who makes even badly written characters shine. She got the IT factor. I love her. And she’s 42 today, so HAPPY BIRTHDAY to great Kate Winslet.

To celebrate her I’d like to do my TOP-5 of her performances list. I could do 10 too but as I already do those, let’s make this one shorter. No, actually, I changed my mind. I’m just going to do a list of my favourite films of her because she’s probably better in some of those films but I like others better.

5. Sense and Sensibility (1995)

AND

Finding Neverland (2004)

kate_senseandsensibilityHah, I cheated already! 😀 Never mind. Here I just couldn’t decide. On the case of the first one I like the film a lot like I tend to like all Jane Austen films. Sense and Sensibility is not my favourite and I don’t really like Kate’s character here but then again, who could not like a film with such great talents like Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Hugh Grant, Tom Wilkinson, even Hugh Laurie and all those other great British actors. I’ve always loved the fact that Kate is from Reading where I used to live. It makes me closer to her. At least I like to think that way. Anyway, Sense and Sensibility was nominated for seven Oscars, Kate being one of those, for supporting part. It was her first nomination, also out of seven in total come today.

Finding Neverland I like more than Sense and Sensibility but her character there isn’t as important and flashy as it is in S&S. And I find Finding Neverland so sad that I don’t watch it often. I think I’ve only seen it twice compared to S&S that I’ve seen multiple times, so many that I lost the count.

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She’s SO beautiful. I’d love to look like her. Whenever asked whom I’d like to look, I say her name. 

4. Revolutionary Road (2008)

This is my favourite performance of hers. She’s unbelievably good. Like no-words-good. The film includes so horrible mental suffering that I haven’t been able to watch it again but I still remember her look in the end. No words, just eyes. Masterful. I haven’t seen The Reader (some tough subjects…), so I don’t know if she’s even better there but I definitely think she should have won an Oscar for this role. And she wasn’t even nominated!

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3. The Holiday (2006)

Yeah, I’m a sucker for romantic comedies. And this one has Kate and Jude. And snow in England where there actually don’t snow that much. And that cottage. And Jack Black is tolerable. And I even like Cameron Diaz in this. And the storyline in LA with that old dude. Works for me. And it’s Christmas! All good. I do watch this every year, I think. And I can relate, I’m so like Iris, her character, in real life. Impossible expectations.

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2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Oh Clementine. And poor Joel. Why don’t they make more films like this? So original and ever so true. Love is pain but who can live without it? If you haven’t see Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind watch it now! Like right now!

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1. Titanic (1997)

You knew it. What else it could be if you have ever read my blog? The film is worth of its gigantic name in every detail and Kate is being the crown jewel of it all. With Leo of course. I love, love, love the relationship of those two if anything is true that is detailed . Although, like most of us, I do wish they would end up together. But at least they shine on silver screen whenever they are together. (I decided 20 (wow, it actually is 20!!!) years ago that if I ever get married I will have that dress of Rose’s that she has at the end; I never did).

So, there you go! Such a great lady. I’m already looking forward to her next film. Here’s a taste:

The Best Picture Reviews: La La Land & Lion

2017oscars

I wrote my thoughts yesterday on the two first nominees, read them here!  Now it’s time for the next two.

LA LA LAND (2016)

Directed by Damien Chazelle
Written by Damien Chazelle
Starring Emma Stone & Ryan Gosling

Synopsis (IMDb): “A jazz pianist falls for an aspiring actress in Los Angeles.”

I’ve been waiting to see Chazelle’s next move since seeing Whiplash about exactly two years ago. Whiplash blew me away, I couldn’t move after seeing it for the first time, that strong was the impact. And then I heard he is going to do a musical with the best on-screen couple of today. OMG! I only saw La La Land 10 days ago, so you can imagine how my expectations have been rising and rising. The film just couldn’t be THAT good. How unbelievably happy I’m to say it so was. This movie was made for me. Once a dreamer, always a dreamer.

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La La Land is up to record-tying 14 Oscars and is loved by the cinema-going audience (IMDb Top-57 of all-time) as well as critics (Rotten Tomatoes score of 93%), so it would be silly to bet against it. There’s a chance that the Academy will spread the love but I still would predict that La La Land will be the big winner of the night. As I wrote yesterday, I haven’t seen all nominees yet but I hope that Emma Stone will get her Oscar, she’s dazzling. I love her anyway, so I might be a bit biased but to me she was perfect. And I’m not complaining about Ryan Gosling either but his characters in other movies are similar to Sebastian, so it is a fact he can do those roles. I did love Sebastian’s passion. Passion is the key to living, in my mind. Whatever it is, you need to have passion.

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When it comes to technical categories, I would predict that La La Land will take home at least editing as Chazelle knows how to use editing when intensifying the story (see Whiplash right now if you haven’t seen it yet!). It has a great chance with costume design (Jackie is, though, a real competitor), cinematography (the first scene!), production design (that is, of course, over-the-top) and sound mixing as it is a musical. There shouldn’t be competition in music categories, Justin Hurwitz should be shoo-in for the score (although I have to say, we have had great music in films this Oscar season) and I bet “City of Stars”
will win the best song, I hope it’ll be “Audition” because I like it more but I’m putting my money on “City of Stars”. Also they should stage a pier on the stage at thedamien_chazelle_a_p
Oscars where Gosling starts to sing “City of Stars”, Stone joins him and after his part he leaves and Stone performs “Audition”. I’d love that.

Like I wrote yesterday, I absolutely worshipped Arrival and its director Villeneuve. And I think I’m in love with Damien Chazelle. He is SO talented. I wish they would share the best director Oscar. As it’s not likely to happen, I bet Chazelle will win this time. His work is so purely a work of passion. And as it seems, everyone is in love with La La Land and chasing your dreams, especially in Hollywood, so I also predict that La La Land will win the best picture Oscar.

Rating: ***** (out of 5)

lionposterLION (2016)

Directed by Garth Davis
Written by Luke Davies
Starring Dev Patel, Sunny Pawar, Rooney Mara, Nicole Kidman, David Wenham & Abhishek Bharate

Synopsis (IMDb): “A five-year-old Indian boy gets lost on the streets of Calcutta, thousands of kilometers from home. He survives many challenges before being adopted by a couple in Australia; 25 years later, he sets out to find his lost family.”

Before going to see Lion, I was told I should take a towel with me because tissues wouldn’t be enough. True enough, Lion makes you cry. You have to be one hard boiled egg, if it doesn’t. And what is the coolest point here, it’s a true story. And it’s told well.

Sunny Pawar stars in LION
Photo: Mark Rogers

To me Lion is a bit like The Imitation Game of two years ago. Very well-made, with everything working but there’s nothing spectacular. The Imitation Game was up for 10 Oscars, Lion is up for six and I agree, there is that much difference in quality. I did enjoy Lion a lot but not as much as I thought I would. I absolutely loved the music, if Oscar goes that way, I’m not complaining. I did like the cinematography a lot too, so they could win that too. It’s a hard category to predict this year. Overall Lion is beautiful to look at and listen, it breaks your heart a bit and is tremendous accomplishment for a first time director.

devpatel_hotWhich I don’t like with the Academy again is that, that Dev Patel is in the lead role. Yes, Sunny Pawar, who was robbed by the way, might have more screen-time but the story is about how the adult Saroo found his family. And still they placed Patel in supporting actor category. I like that he is recognised but those category breaches still annoy me.

Lion should be watched as it’s a good story of never giving up (although that obsession was getting to my nerves a bit). I have a lot of friends who liked it much more than I did. Maybe I just don’t get the importance of your roots or something. Anyhow, good film and even though I think it’ll go home empty handed on Sunday, I wouldn’t mind giving it a statue or two.

Rating: **** 

P.S. Dev Patel has gotten so hot!

The Best Picture Reviews: Arrival & Manchester by the Sea

2017oscarsYes, I’ve been absent again for a while but let’s get back to that later. It’s the Oscars week and I’m so behind. Here are my thoughts on the first two best picture nominees that I saw. And what are their chances on Sunday evening.

arrivalposterARRIVAL (2016)

Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Written by Eric Heisserer
Starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner & Forest Whitaker

Denis Villeneuve’s last two films I liked a lot. His style is extraordinary and in Arrival it is on its full potential. Arrival is astonishing. I absolutely loved it! It will probably be at least in top-3 of my films of 2017 or if not, this will be helluva year. I think Arrival deserves every praise it gets and then some more.

First of all, Villeneuve obviously is the master here, it’s his vision that shines through. Also the screenplay is spellbinding. I was totally hooked. At some point I had grabbed the seat on front of me (in cinema) and was sitting right on the edge of my own seat without realising that I was doing that, I was so absorbed into the film. And that’s what I talk about when I say it is Villeneuve’s vision. Unbelievable. And to support that there’s beautiful production design, simple but effective.

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Cinematography. Well, of course. If you’ve seen the film, you know how suitable eerie it looks. And editing obviously clearly makes the pace, perfectly. Sometimes dwelling in feeling, sometimes throwing the viewer in the middle of a mess. And again here we can see how cleverly the script is written. The film never lets you off the hook. And it makes you think. And feel. And perhaps, if you think and feel hard enough, understand. It is actually hard to write about it as it is that kind of a film you need to use all your senses and no words would do honour for it.

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What still makes me angry, is that Jóhann Jóhannsson wasn’t eligible for the score because it’s stunning! He is quickly becoming one of my favourite composers if not the one. In Arrival music and sounds are so, so important. And that’s why I really feel that it should win for the sound editing at least and also for mixing.

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It bums me out that Amy Adams wasn’t recognised as she is as good as ever. She’s my favourite actress and I don’t think she’s ever bad and surely she wasn’t here. But thankfully it’s been a very good year for female leads as there were too many to choose from. Adams is the player here, everyone else is just there to make the story go further. Except the aliens. They’re important. And I never complain when I see Mr. Renner on screen.

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So, to sum it up. I would love to see Arrival to win for cinematography, maybe editing, both sounds and as I appreciated its simplicity, also production design. And tie with directing. I think. I still haven’t seen all the nominees (yeah, I know, so late!!!), so it’s hard to say yet plus there was one that I also loved, so…But still, perfection.

Rating: ***** (out of 5)

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MANCHESTER BY THE SEA (2016)

Directed by Kenneth Lonergan
Written by Kenneth Lonergan
Starring Casey Affleck, Lucas Hedges, Michelle Williams & Kyle Chandler

So, I saw these two films in a row and in this order. That might have affected somehow how I viewed Manchester by the Sea. I can’t really say if I’d liked it more if I hadn’t watched Arrival just before it. Or maybe I wouldn’t have liked it as much as I did because I was already in the mood to watch great movies. I don’t know but I know I did like Manchester quite a lot. It was a good cinema day.

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Manchester by the Sea is nominated for six Oscars and will most probably win for the leading role for an actor as Casey Affleck is impressive. It is his show as much it is director-writer Lonergan’s. Affleck is mesmerizing. He does so little but tells so much. All those suppressed feelings are there for the viewer to see and feel. Manchester by the Sea is heartbreakingly sad story of ordinary people. People who are like anyone of us. Besides Affleck, Hedges and especially Williams have earned their nominations. That scene in the movie poster is perhaps the most moving scene in the film and it’s such a showcase for Affleck and Williams; they’re so authentic, so raw, so full of emotion. If Arrival is a story of human kind, Manchester by the Sea is a story of humans.

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Besides acting, Manchester is nominated for the original screenplay, directing and the best picture. It could win for all and I wouldn’t really mind. But I think it will win for the screenplay and it definitely should. I adored it. I loved the way the story was told the way that it just began, like when meeting a new person. And then you get to know them, little by little. You start to understand why they do something, why they say something, why they like or don’t like something. Manchester is like that. At first you are like “who the f is this guy and why he is there” but then, a little by little, you start to understand and sympathize. Life is life and you just have to live it. Also, big points for the ending.

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This has nothing to do with the film but she’s beautiful. From January Elle magazine.

One thing that I didn’t really like was the music, it’s too hard. It annoyed me. But otherwise, beautiful film and sad story about life that I think I will definitely see again. And I’ll be mad if Lonergan won’t win for the screenplay and Affleck for the lead actor, they are THAT good.

Rating: ****½

P.S. 2017 is already better movie year for me (as I’ve seen all nominees this year) than the last year was. Yay for that!

The Oscars Nominations Predictions 2017

The 85th Academy Awards® will air live on Oscar® Sunday, February 24, 2013.Here we are again. The best time of the year, the Oscars time! And here are my final nominations. In few hours we’ll be hearing what the Academy picked.

BEST PICTURE

  • La La Land
  • Manchester by the Sea
  • Moonlight
  • Arrival
  • Fences
  • Lion
  • Hidden Figures
  • Hell or High Water
  • Hacksaw Ridge

  • Silence
  • Deadpool

I couldn’t pick my 10th option because I’m hopeless optimistic and actually think they would go for R-rated comic book movie. Right yeah? I kind of wanted to leave Hidden Figures out as well but this is where the final list now. At the moment it’s either La La Land’s or Moonlight’s to lose.

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DIRECTOR

  • La La Land – Damien Chazelle
  • Manchester by the Sea – Kenneth Longergan
  • Hell or High Water – David McKenzie
  • Arrival – Denis Villeneuve
  • Moonlight – Barry Jenkins

  • Hacksaw Ridge- Mel Gibson
  • Fences – Denzel Washington
  • Silence – Martin Scorsese
  • Lion – Garth Davis

By far the hardest category to predict this year. The three of them are absolute locks (Chazelle, Lonergan and Jenkins) but the two others… I believe that Villeneuve is due with a nomination (I haven’t seen Arrival yet but I’m only hearing good things plus he’s done great job with previous films that were nominated, Prisoners and Sicario) but the last slot was hard to decide. I played a wild card.

ACTORryan_gosling_hot

  • La La Land – Ryan Gosling
  • Fences – Denzel Washington
  • Manchester by the Sea – Casey Affleck
  • Hacksaw Ridge – Andrew Garfield
  • Captain Fantastic – Viggo Mortensen

ACTRESS

  • La La Land – Emma Stone
  • Jackie – Natalie Portman
  • Arrival – Amy Adams
  • Florence Foster Jenkins – Meryl Streep
  • Elle – Isabelle Huppert

Loving – Ruth Negga

Because of the story of Loving, I wanted to give a slot for Ruth Negga but Huppert has been really strong and one can never leave Streep out, especially when she gave amazing speech at the Golden Globes in the middle of voting of the Oscars nominations.

SUPPORTING ACTOR

  • Lion – Dev Patel 10
  • Moonlight – Mahershala Ali
  • Hell of High Water – Jeff Brigdes
  • Florence Foster Jenkins – Hugh Grant
  • Nocturnal Animals – Aaron Taylor-Johnson

  • Manchester by the Sea – Lucas Hedges

I just might be hopeful here again but if Nocturnal Animals will soar at least a bit, Taylor-Johnson will be in. And the Academy has avoid to nominate younger actors in this category like Tremblay last year. But Hedges has been strong so far, so this is a game.

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SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  • Hidden Figures – Octavia Spences
  • Fences – Viola Davis
  • Manchester by the Sea – Michelle Williams
  • Naomi Harris – Moonlight
  • Lion – Nicole Kidman

 

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  • Manchester by the Sea
  • The Lobster
  • Hell or High Water
  • La La Land
  • Captain Fantastic

 

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

  • Moonlight
  • Fences
  • Lion
  • Nocturnal Animals
  • Arrival

  • Hidden Figures

OK, I have a thing for Nocturnal Animals even I haven’t seen it, so again, I’m putting it ahead of probably stronger contender.

CINEMATOGRAPHY

  • La La Land
  • Silence
  • Arrival
  • Lion
  • Moonlight

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EDITING

  • La La Land
  • Manchester by the Sea
  • Arrival
  • Moonlight
  • Hacksaw Ridge

 

COSTUME DESIGNjackie_costumes

  • Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them
  • Jackie
  • La La Land
  • Florence Foster Jenkins
  • Allied

 

PRODUCTION DESIGN

  • La La Land
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  • The Handmaiden
  • Jackie
  • Arrival

 

MAKE-UP & HAIRSTYLING

  • A Man Called Ove
  • Deadpool
  • Florence Foster Jenkins

  • Star Trek Beyond

I asked my make-up artist friend’s opinion here and she chose Deadpool instead of Star Trek Beyond. I’ll blame her if I’m incorrect.

SOUND MIXING

  • La La Land
  • Arrival
  • Rogue One
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • Deepwater Horizon

SOUND EDITING

  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • Deepwater Horizon
  • Roque One
  • Arrival
  • The Jungle Book

 

VISUAL EFFECTS

  • Rogue One
  • The Jungle Book 5
  • Arrival
  • Strange
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

 

SCORE

  • Moonlight (Nicholas Britell)
  • Jackie (Mica Levi)
  • La La Land (Justin Hurwitz)
  • The BFG (John Williams)
  • Rogue One (Michael Giacchino)

 


 

  • Lion (Dustin O’Halloran, Hauschka)

I’m still a bit annoyed that Jóhann Jóhannsson is not eligible for Arrival as he is these days one of my definite favourite composers. Love his work! I wanted to leave John Williams out but you know, you just can’t. And it’s traditional that the composers branch always vote for their own and already now there are THREE new comers. I hardly see that happening but I don’t know who else to pick. Justin Hurwitz all the way, I looooooove La La Land’s soundtrack!

 

SONG

  • Moana – How Far I’ll Go
  • La La Land – Audition (The Fools Who Dream)
  • La La Land – City of Stars
  • Sing Street – Drive Like You Stole It
  • Trolls – Can’t Stop the Feeling

  • Sing – Faith
  • Hidden Figures – Runnin’

Always hard category to predict. I gave a chance to Sing Street’s 80’s sounds, it’s a gamble, I know. I hope that the song above wins, I can’t get enough of it.

ANIMATED

  • Zootopia
  • Kubo and the Two Strings
  • The Red Turtle
  • Moana
  • My Life as a Zucchini

  • Finding Dory

Yes, I left out a Pixar film. I’m aware.

 

DOCUMENTARYoj_madeinamerica

  • Cameraperson
  • I am Not Your Negro
  • 13th
  • OJ: Made in America
  • The Eagle Huntress

  • Weiner

 

FOREIGN LANGUAGE

  • Toni Erdmann (Germany)
  • The Salesman (Iran)
  • Land of Mine (Denmark)
  • A Man Called Ove (Sweden)
  • My Life as a Zucchini (Switzerland)

  • It’s Only the End of the World (Canada)

I have a feeling I should not count out Xavier Dolan but I don’t know what else to do.

 

ANIMATED SHORT

  • Inner Workings
  • Piper
  • Blind Vayasha
  • Borrowed Time
  • Pearl

 

LIVE ACTION SHORT

  • Graffiti
  • Nocturne in Black
  • Sing (Mindenki)
  • Timecode
  • The Way of Tea

 

DOCUMENTARY SHORT

  • White Helmets
  • Joe’s Violin
  • Extremis
  • The Mute’s House
  • Watani: My Homeland

 

Agree, disagree? We’ll now soon enough how I did this year.

The Oscars 2017 – The Best Pic #3

It’s been over a month since I did parts two and one. And here’s finally the last part of somewhat-early look on the best picture candidates.

The 85th Academy Awards® will air live on Oscar® Sunday, February 24, 2013.

Hidden Figures tells a story of “a team of African-American women provide NASA with important mathematical data needed to launch the program’s first successful space missions.” (IMDb). It’s starring Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson from Empire (series) and Janelle Monáe who has a part in this year’s Moonlight that has gotten great reviews. The trailer looks nice mix of emotion and vibe, not too serious but not too light either. It’ll be interesting to see how this one turns out. There’s music made by Pharrell Williams, so at least the best song category should be a lock.

Hacksaw Ridge has Rotten Tomatoes score of 85% and tells a true story of “WWII American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss, who served during the Battle of Okinawa, refuses to kill people, and becomes the first man in American history to win the Medal of Honor without firing a shot.” (IMDb) Andrew Garfield seems to be having a strong year with this and upcoming Scorsese’s Silence.Hacksaw is said to be a comeback of Mel Gibson who directed the film. The film even has a average of 8.7/10 at IMDb which means it’s liked by audience and critics, so it’ll be hard for the Academy to pass it by.

I’m not sure if this should be on the list or not. It might be too much of sci-fi and to be honest, I’m not sure if Chris Pratt is that kind of an actor who’ll stars in Oscar-worthy films but I didn’t think of that of Bradley Cooper, who is now a three-time nominee, so… But anyway, Passengers also stars bona fide Oscar-girl, Jennifer Lawrence, and is directed by Morten Tyldum, who’s last film, The Imitation Game, got eight nominations, so let’s not count this out yet. IMDb describes the film: “A spacecraft traveling to a distant colony planet and transporting thousands of people has a malfunction in its sleep chambers. As a result, two passengers are awakened 90 years early.”

Live by Night is a film I just don’t want to count out as it’s directed by Ben Affleck and as a director he hasn’t made a bad film. He hasn’t even made an OK film, he has only made really good ones. So no way I’m not including this one too. The film opens widely in January but has it’s limited run in December to be an eligible. IMDb synopsis says: “A story set in the Prohibition Era and centered around a group of individuals and their dealings in the world of organized crime.” The cast is promising, besides Affleck there’s Zoe Saldana, Chris Cooper, Sienna Miller, Brendan Gleeson and Elle Fanning. If the film delivers, one or two of them will be surely nominated.

And the last but not the least, there’s Hell or High Water that is out on DVD this week (the States). It’s raved by the critics and has RT score of 98% and impressive cast of Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine and Ben Foster. And apparently all of them deliver. For some reason this reminds me of No Country for Old Men. I guess that’s a good thing. Synopsis says: “A divorced father and his ex-con older brother resort to a desperate scheme in order to save their family’s ranch in West Texas.”

Here we are. Those are my picks for the Best Picture of 2017. I have already dropped one of them, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk as it sank when it opened and is rotten in Rotten Tomatoes, so let’s just forget it. And La La Land got another lovely trailer:

 

Doctor Strange Review

doctor_strange_posterI should go back to my Oscar predictions but let’s take a look to another Marvel Cinematic Universe movie first.

DOCTOR STRANGE (2016)

Directed by Scott Derrickson

Written by Jon Spaihts, Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill & based on Marvel comics by Steve Ditko

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Rachel McAdams,  Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen & Benedict Wong

Synopsis: A former neurosurgeon embarks on a journey of healing only to be drawn into the world of the mystic arts. (IMDb)

I didn’t know anything about Doctor Strange beforehand. I’m not a fan of comics, I find them kind of silly. I used to find comic films silly as well but Marvel changed it. Since The Avengers I always have high hopes for MCU film and sometimes I’m a bit disappointed (meaning I give a film 8 out of 10 at IMDb) but usually I’m not and Doctor Strange is not exception. It’s a solid film with great visuals, interesting story and well, with that cast, obviously strong performances.

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I kept thinking during Strange that it is quite an achievement from film industry to make these huge blockbusters with actors who have been recently nominated for Oscars or some have even won some like Tilda Swinton in this case. No wonder characters in these kind of films are not bland anymore like they used to be. There is much more depth to them even if scripts are weak. The script of Doctor Strange is probably the simplest thing in it. And for some reason, villains in recent comic movies have been on the weaker side too. And Doctor Strange is no exception. But at least its villains are not black or white. What brings me to the point of Doctor Strange being accused of “white washing”. What? There’s Ejiofor, there’s Wong and there’s a woman as an Ancient One. And internationality more than most of the films.

Marvel Studios Hall H Panel

The best element in Strange is the pace. I was never bored. The story starts right away, you get the feeling who we’re dealing with Dr. Strange and Cumberbatch draws the character perfectly. We see how he deals with others, what kind of a person he is. And we don’t really like him but we get to know him and see him grow and we definitely start to care about him. I also liked a lot of McAdams’ character even though she’s quite on the side. And there are some very, very nice one-liners. As always when it comes to MCU movies.

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In general Doctor Strange is great! It might lose some of its magic (ha haa) when watching it again (and again which I will probably do) and on the first time, I loved it. Is it perfect? No, but it’s entertaining as hell. I recommend. Half of the star in rating is given because I got overly excited because of the first end-credits scene, it sure was the best one so far!

Rating: ****½ (out of 5)