Past-Oscar Thoughts And Some for the Future too…

leonardo-dicaprio-oscarsIt’s over again. The awards season and especially the Oscars weekend. This year I was “forced” to spend it alone compared to those past Oscar weekends that I’ve spent with friends watching films and eating well and debating about dresses and who should or should not win. But thanks to social media, it was very easy to stay touch with my girls and continue debating during the red carpet and show itself even when there’s 1000 km between us. 🙂

Thoughts… Well, apart from Sam Smith winning over Lady Gaga I thought all winners were deserving and none of the wins made me angry, quite the opposite. Especially happy I was obviously for Leo (I think everyone was!), Lubezki (again), Mark Rylance (which I predicted correctly!), Morricone for music, Ex Machina for visual effects and of course for the Best Picture going to Spotlight which was my favourite film of the season! Here’s my review of it if interested. I still don’t get why people were so surprised by its win? Justin Chang of Variety puts it to words why it was the best choice to win.

When it comes to the show itself, I wasn’t a fan. I don’t like Chris Rock and especially now when the whole attention was on #OscarsSoWhite discussion, the show was awfully repetitive and not very funny. And really; bringing out all these minority representatives? Kind of obvious and a bit weird. At least to me. Thankfully many of the attendees made the point clear; there should be better offers for people of minorities in movies and from my point of view, I believe we’re on a right track where TV is leading the field (think of Scandal or anything from Shonda Rhimes or Orange is the New Black or Modern Family etc.). It’s good to make people think but as the winners proved, Hollywood hardly is the racist part of the US as already the best director and cinematographer  of the year (and the year before that too) are Mexican.

oitnb

In reference to my predictions, this year I got 75% correct which is good but not my best (that being 82% if I remember correctly). The ones that I got wrong were the best song, visual effects (wonder if anyone got that right?!), two short categories I predicted wrong (hard ones as I hadn’t seen any of them) and I got sound mixing wrong when I chose The Revenant instead of Mad Max and also editing when I had The Big Short instead of Mad Max. Oh, I’m also very glad that Mad Max won that many Oscars! Go Aussies! ❤ Btw, I always predict at Gold Derby site and again those “experts” lost to users and I keep wondering why they call them Experts?! Even I beat most of them…

What about the future? Well, I already have my short list of possible contenders here at IMDb, check it out! There’s Michael Fassbender with two films, The Light Between Oceans from Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine) with bo and brand new Oscar winner, Alicia Vikander, and Weightless from Terrence Malick with cinematography by Lubezki and co-acting by e.g. Natalie Portman, Benicio Del Toro, Christian Bale, Holly Hunter, Rooney Mara, Ryan Gosling and Cate Blanchett (some cast, huh?!). There’s also (for techs) Star Wars spin-off and new X-Men and Star Trek movies coming out this year and there’s Morten Tyldum’s (The Imitation Game) Passengers with JLaw and Chris Pratt (he’s also in Magnificent Seven this year). Btw, I just noticed that this girl, Haley Bennett, is in three of these films mentioned so far, ryangosling_emmastonebet she’s the It Girl of 2016. Never heard of her before, remember the name! What else?! There’s already Sundance certified Manchester by the Sea (Casey Affleck getting the most of the mentions and also Michelle Williams), another Michelle Williams vehicle in Certain Women and of course The Birth of the Nation that was bought by Fox Searchlight with $17,5 million and will be released in October to be ready for the awards season. And there’s also my “the most awaited” film, La La Land, a film by Damien Chazelle who did amazing Whiplash, the best debut for ages, and stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. ❤ There’s also so, so many other “looks great on a paper” films that makes 2017 look promising again. Go and see yourself. I’ll get back to that list in May when Cannes has had its say.

P.S. I liked Cate Blanchett’s dress the best but only she could’ve wear that dress. Only she.

Cate Blanchett

The Oscar Predictions – Winners

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

It’s been a tradition that I open up my predictions a bit before making the final ones on Sunday before the actual awards time.

BEST PICTURE

  1. Spotlight
  2. Mad Max Fury Road
  3. Room
  4. The Martian
  5. The Revenant
  6. The Big Short
  7. Bridge of Spies
  8. Brooklyn

Well, I already made it clear that I hope that Spotlight will win. I still haven’t seen Room and Brooklyn but I will watch them both before The Oscars on Sunday but I doubt either of them will be better for me than Spotlight. The Best Picture will go to Spotlight, The Big Short or The Revenant. The most of the people are predicting that it’ll go to The Revenant but I have my doubts… I might change my prediction but at the moment I’m also predicting that the eventual winner will be Spotlight.

BEST DIRECTOR

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road – George Miller
  2. Spotlight – Thomas McCarthy
  3. Room – Lenny Abrahamson
  4. The Revenant – Alejandro Gonzales Iñarritu
  5. The Big Short – Adam McKay

Three words: Alejandro Gonzales Iñarritu. (Ok, a slight change for George Miller, I guess but I don’t think so.)

Alejandro-González-Iñárritu

BEST ACTOR

  1. The Martian – Matt Damon
  2. Steve Jobs – Michael Fassbender
  3. The Revenant – Leonardo DiCaprio
  4. The Danish Girl – Eddie Redmayne
  5. Trumbo – Bryan Cranston

No competition here, it’s finally his year. All salute to Mr. DiCaprio!

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

  1. Bridge of Spies – Mark Rylance
  2. Creed – Sylvester Stallone
  3. The Big Short – Christian Bale
  4. The Revenant – Tom Hardy
  5. Spotlight – Mark Ruffalo

I think and I predict that sentiment will win in this category and thus the Oscar will go to Sylvester Stallone. I don’t really know what I think about it as he’s not that good in Creed but he did come up with Rocky Balboa and didn’t win for him all those years ago. Mark Rylance was scene stealing in Bridge of Spies and all three others were better than Stallone in their films. I’d like to see Rylance to win.

BEST ACTRESS

  1. Carol – Cate Blanchett
  2. Joy – Jennifer Lawrence
  3. 45 Years – Charlotte Rampling
  4. Room – Brie Larson
  5. Brooklyn – Saoirse Ronan

This one is Larson’s to lose. I have no personal opinion yet.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  1. Carol – Rooney Mara
  2. The Hateful Eight – Jennifer Jason Leigh
  3. Steve Jobs – Kate Winslet
  4. Spotlight – Rachel McAdams
  5. The Danish Girl – Alicia Vikander

I think Kate Winslet might upset in this category. She’s been winning some precursor awards but she hasn’t been competing against Vikander’s role in The Danish Girl. Then again Vikander won SAG and she’s THE IT girl of the season. And her role was very, very good. Hmmm… I guess I’m still predicting her. At the moment at least. I thought Winslet was very good too.

kate

BEST SCREENPLAY (original)

  1. Straight Outta Compton – Andrea Berloff, Jonathan Herman, S.Leigh Savide & Alan Wenkus
  2. Inside Out – Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Ronnie Del Carmen & Josh Cooley
  3. Spotlight – Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer
  4. Bridge of Spies – Matt Charman & Coen brothers
  5. Ex Machina – Alex Garland

Should go to Spotlight.

BEST SCREENPLAY (adapted)

  1. Carol – Phyllis Nagy
  2. Room – Emma Donoghue
  3. The Martian – Drew Goddard
  4. Brooklyn – Nick Hornby
  5. The Big Short – Charles Randolph & Adam McKay

Should go to The Big Short. In both writing categories there is a chance to award the directors of Spotlight and The Big Short as they have writing credits of their films as well.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

  • Mad Max Fury Road
  • The Revenant
  • Sicario
  • Carol
  • The Hateful Eight

Three in a row! Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you Mr. Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki! (Oh, if you didn’t know, he shot The Revenant.)

BEST EDITING

  • Mad Max Fury Road
  • The Revenant
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • Spotlight
  • The Big Short

Eddie Awards (given out by American Cinema Editors) went to Mad Max and The Big Short and I can’t see those two losing here either. I just don’t know which one will. Both have notable editing, even for people who usually don’t pay attention to things like that. In The Big Short it is the main story telling tool, so at the moment my money’s there. But it could be Mad Max too. I just don’t know. And I can’t decide which one I prefer, both are cool.

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

  • Mad Max Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • Bridge of Spies
  • The Danish Girl
  • The Revenant

Precursors tell me that this one is to Mad Max’s to lose. I personally liked the production design of Bridge of Spies a lot. But just the sake of those cars, I predict Mad Max to win.

mad-max-fury-road-production-design

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

  • Cinderella
  • Carol
  • The Revenant
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Danish Girl

I love Cinderella’s dresses! They’re so beautiful. But precursors say Mad Max again. And then again, like I wrote in my review, the clothes in The Danish Girl are like characters themselves. So, a bit hard one. And Carol is very much stylish. But I think I will bet on Mad Max again.

cinderella_costumes

BEST MAKEUP

  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • A 100-year-old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared
  • The Revenant

Mad Max. At least should be. The Revenant has cool work as well. I haven’t seen the third option but I think nomination is enough for it.

BEST SCORE

  • Carol – Carter Burwell
  • Bridge of Spies – Thomas Newman
  • The Hateful Eight – Ennio Morricone
  • Sicario – Jóhann Jóhannsson
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens – John Williams

This one has to go to Ennio Morricone, The Hateful Eight has cool soundtrack. John Williams also managed to compose a nice one, again. And my personal favourite is Sicario’s soundtrack but as  Jóhann Jóhannsson just won the last year, I don’t see it happen this year again. So Morricone.

BEST SONG

  • Spectre – Writings on the Wall
  • The Hunting Ground – Til It Happens To You
  • Youth – Simple Song #3
  • Fifty Shades of Grey – Earned It
  • Racing Extinction – Manta Ray

Weeknd just won Grammy for his song in Fifty Shades of Grey but I still think this one will go to Lady Gaga and Til It Happens To You (co-writer Diane Warren). Only three of these songs will be performed at the show, it’s all about the star status and stage is set only for Lady Gaga, Weeknd and Sam Smith.

BEST SOUND EDITING

  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • Sicario
  • The Revenant
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Mad Max, The Martian or Star Wars? Or The Revenant? I have no clue. Sound editors will have their Golden Reels awards given away only on tomorrow. I hope I’ll be wiser after that.

BEST SOUND MIXING

  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • Bridge of Spies
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • The Revenant

According to the precursors, this one goes to The Revenant. I don’t know otherwise and I have to admit that Bridge of Spies was the only one where I paid attention to the sound mixing, it worked really well.

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Ex Machina
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant

I think this one goes to Star Wars. Mad Max has a change as well as does The Revenant but still, I’m predicting Star Wars.

starwars

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE

  • Son of Saul (Hungary)
  • Mustang (France)
  • Embrace of the Serpent (Colombia)
  • Theeb (Jordan)
  • A War (Denmark)

Son of Saul. I haven’t seen any of these, so I got no opinion.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

  • Inside Out
  • When Marnie Was There
  • Anomalisa
  • Shaun the Sheep Movie
  • Boy & the World

 Should go to Inside Out, anything else is a surprise.

BEST DOCUMENTARY

  • Amy
  • Cartel Land
  • The Look of Silence
  • What Happened, Miss Simone?
  • Winter on Fire

Amy is the only one I’ve seen but it was also one of the best films that I saw last year. I hope it wins and I’m also predicting it.

BEST ANIMATED SHORT

  1. World of Tomorrow
  2. Sanjay’s Super Team
  3. Bear Story
  4. We Can’t Live Without Cosmos
  5. Prologue

I hope Sanjay’s Super Team wins as it looks cool and would be one of those awards that would go to minorities but World of Tomorrow has a good change as well, I think. I didn’t really like it despite the good message.

Sanjay's_Super_Team_poster

BEST SHORT DOCUMENTARY

  1. Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah
  2. Last Day of Freedom
  3. Body Team 12
  4. Chau Beyond the Lines
  5. A Girl in the River

I love Chau but it looks like other people like Body Team 12 or Claude Lanzmann more. According to Scott Feinberg of Hollywood Reporter, many of those voters who haven’t seen short films might just vote for Lanzmann because of his name and Shoah, so at the moment I’m predicting Lanzmann.

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT

  • Ave Maria
  • Day One
  • Shok
  • Stutterer
  • Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut)

I have no clue. Stutterer sounds like easy one to predict.

The Oscars Reviews: Spotlight & The Revenant

It’s been a month since I saw these two, so it feels a bit silly to write about them now but as I will go through their Oscars chances at the same time, let’s do it anyway.

spotlight_posterSPOTLIGHT (2015)

Directed by Tom McCarthy

Written by Josh Singer & Tom McCarthy

Starring Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, Stanley Tucci, John Slattery & Brian d’Arcy James

Synopsis (by IMDb): “The true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese, shaking the entire Catholic Church to its core.”

I wish Spotlight would win the Best Picture on Sunday. To me it is the best picture of the season. I came out of the cinema trembling. From time to time I get physical reaction to movies and this one was one of them and the physical reaction (if not puking) is the mark of remarkable film. Spotlight is remarkable and should be awarded because of that.

When you read the synopsis of Spotlight or hear what it is about, it sounds boring, doesn’t it? And it is actually made that way. It tells a story what happened and I don’t believed it’s hugely dramatized either, it doesn’t look like it and it doesn’t feel like it, but at least to me it affected much more deeply than any other film this year. It engaged me into the story so fully and in a way that I didn’t even realise it did it before I was feeling so much it was a bit hard to bear. Masterful filmmaking.

spotlight_cast

Like I said, I hope it gets the best picture Oscar on Sunday’s Oscars. Spotlight is not parts, it’s a whole. Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams got supporting nods but they are just part of the great cast and I don’t believe any of them is better than the other. Ruffalo’s part is a bit more flashier than others and draws the attention while McAdams is basically the only woman on the screen; they’re both great but I so is the whole cast. I believe McCarthy is also worth of an Oscar but I have to admit (as you can read in the following review) that he will most probably not win it except maybe for the best screenplay where Spotlight has the best chance of winning. The editing Oscar is still wide open, I think, it could go to Spotlight or The Big Short or Mad Max.

All in all, Spotlight to me was a perfection. It’s not Star Wars, it doesn’t change your life but there’s nothing wrong with it, quite the opposite, everything works so well that it’s a bit hard to realise it. To me the best thing was that it affected to my feelings so deeply it felt bad and it should feel bad. Like said, masterful.

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

revenant-leo

The Revenant (2015)

Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu

Written by Mark L. Smith & Alejandro González Iñárritu

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio (and Tom Hardy & Domhnall Gleeson)

Synopsis: “A frontiersman on a fur trading expedition in the 1820’s fights for survival after being mauled by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team.”

There were approximately 10 minutes for me between seeing Spotlight and The Revenant. I still wonder if it affected my liking of The Revenant. I guess I only find outleo1 if I ever watch it again. And I’m not sure if I ever want to watch it again.

Well, first of all: Leonardo DiCaprio will win his Oscar this year. For sure and very much deservingly so. I still think he was better in The Wolf of Wall Street as it was comedy, something I didn’t think Leo is capable of doing, but yes, of course, his role in The Revenant is… um… Excellent? First-rate? Like he always is. Anyway, I’m glad he finally gets the statue, he’s one of the best ones in the industry. Tom Hardy is nominated in the supporting category and I’m glad he is, he’s really good in this one (but then again, isn’t he always?) but I doubt he’ll win this time.

It seems to me that it’s a bit hard for me to write this review, so I’ll just go straight ahead to the Oscar nominations and review The Revenant via them. 12 nominations including best picture, director, actor, supporting actor, cinematography, editing, makeup, costumes, 2 x sound, production design & visual effects. That’s a lot. The Revenant already won in the Golden Globes for the best picture, director and Leo as well as in BAFTAs for all of those plus cinematography and sound. Lubezki got the statue from American Society of Cinematographers too and I believe that he will get it again (third time in a row!) from the Academy and yes, he again deserves it, shooting in natural light is a pain in the ass and The Revenant looks amazing (although, I wasn’t a big fan of those “nature stills” like melting snow etc., they kind of felt like “this looks pretty, let’s put it in”…). All in all, all those technical achievements in The Revenant are top notch. I can’t deny that. And it will probably win a bunch of those awards, for sound I guess at least and I liked the makeup and hair styling, both looked authentic. The bear didn’t but I think it must have influenced my viewing that I knew it was made with CGI.

I’ve been Iñárritu’s fan since Amores Perros and I really, really wanted The Revenant to be his best work to date but unfortunately, to me, it isn’t (Amores Perros still is). It feels like he has lost “the loving feeling” when trying to achieve something that has never been done before. He is one of the best directors working today and his films are technical marvels but like Birdman last year, The Revenant also left me cold. In the end I just didn’t care who lived or who died, I just wished it would be over. But yay for Leo!

Rating: **** 

 

The Oscars Reviews: Joy & Creed

Both of these films only got one nomination each but they’re still worth of reviews, I think, so here we go.Joyfilmposter

JOY (2015)

Directed by David O. Russell

Written by David O. Russell & Annie Mumolo

Starring Jennifer Lawrence(, Robert De Niro, Isabella Rosselini, Bradley Cooper, Virginia Madsen, Edgar Ramirez & Elisabeth Röhm)

Synopsis (from IMDb): “Joy is the story of the title character, who rose to become founder and matriarch of a powerful family business dynasty.”

As you guess it, Joy is actually one woman’s show. Jennifer Lawrence is again amazing. If she continues working like that, making these amazing characters so alive and true, she’ll have unbelievable career ahead of her. She’s already doing more than fine and the part of Joy (loosely based on the life of Joy Mangano, the inventor of Miracle Mop) is again bona fide example of her capabilities. She also again was nominated for an Oscar, fourth time in five years. Not bad for someone who’s only 25 years old.

JOY

Other critics have been saying that the story of Joy is not that engaging and there’s not much to tell, that it’s lacking integrity. It also holds only 6.7 GPA in IMDb at the moment. I’m not really sure why. I found Joy totally enjoyable. And I was invested in it in a way that I very much wanted to strangle people in Joy’s life. One can only hope that those kind of characters were not around in real Joy’s life. Joy’s family is portrayed comically, maybe that’s one of the reasons that some are thinking that it’s lacking in genuineness, I don’t know. I found it refreshing take on them and cinematography supports the comic way of telling the story as does the script. I liked it.

joyfamily

Even though Joy is Lawrence’s show, other actors are again good like always in David O. Russell’s films. They might not be extraordinary like they were in The Fighter or in Silver Linings Playbook but they are still good. I especially was infuriated by Robert De Niro’s Dad and totally frustrated by Virginia Madsen’s Mom. The characters are a bit caricatures but I thought it worked, they made them even more insufferable. I also liked a lot how the film looked, settings and especially costumes and hair-styling. All in all, solid film but David O. Russell has made better ones.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

P.S. I also enjoyed the soundtrack like always do when it comes to Russell’s films.

creed-film-movie-poster

CREED (2015)

Directed by Ryan Coogler

Written by Ryan Coogler & Aaron Covington

Starring Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone & Tessa Thompson

Synopsis: “The former World Heavyweight Champion Rocky Balboa serves as a trainer and mentor to Adonis Johnson, the son of his late friend and former rival Apollo Creed.”

Creed is also nominated for one Oscar and that’s in supporting actor category for Sylvester Stallone and I don’t know what to think of that. Sure, he’s better than he has been maybe since original Rocky but he’s really not THAT good. But unfortunately it seems at the moment he’ll get the trophy for sentimental reasons. But that is for sure not deserved because of his role in this film. And it’s kind of sad that he’s the only one nominated because both, Michael B. Jordan as Adonis and Tessa Thompson as his downstairs neighbour are both better. I especially appreciated the latter, she did extremely nice job in this one. I predict big things for her in the future, that girl knows her stuff. The best scenes in Creed were between her and Michael B. Jordan and basically quite irrelevant to the story.

creedstill.jpg

And that brings me to the thing that made me want crawl under my seat in second-hand embarrassment; the screenplay, especially the dialogue. It was SO uneven. So, so uneven that from time to time it was hard to watch and no wonder it was sometimes hard for Jordan to deliver those lines genuinely as they were so cheesy. Ugh. The story also dragged too long, I was bored before the final show-down. Good things about it, it was somewhat true to the original and in this case it was a good thing and it had small moments of honesty and few nice jokes. But in general, no.

Sylvester-StalloneBetter things in Creed: like said, Jordan and especially Thompson were good. I liked the music but it was the same like in all movies like this. And the last fight worked for me but there was nothing special in it.

Maybe I should just give up and admit myself that movies about boxing are not for me. It’s ridiculous sport with all this machismo that I find so amusing and embarrassing. And it’s OK if Stallone wins, he’s kind of sympathetic but it should go to Rylance from Bridge of Spies or Bale from The Big Short.

Rating: **½ (out of 5)

The Oscars Reviews: The Danish Girl & Carol

In the last post it was two stories of guys, this time it’s time for the girls.

thedanishgirlposterThe Danish Girl (2015)

Directed by Tom Hooper

Written by Lucinda Coxon, the book by David Ebershoff

Starring Eddie Redmayne & Alicia Vikander

Synopsis: “A fictitious love story loosely inspired by the lives of Danish artists Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener. Lili and Gerda’s marriage and work evolve as they navigate Lili’s groundbreaking journey as a transgender pioneer.”

The Danish Girl is beautiful. “Beautiful” is the word that describes it perfectly, this kind of distantly beautiful, a film you admire and can see its beauty but can’t really feel its warmth or sadness. The Danish Girl doesn’t really move you in the way, I think, it should. But then again, it’s really well-made and has two spectacular performances in the centre of it.

The Danish Girl is nominated for four Oscars; the best performance by actor in a leading role, the best performance by an actress in a supporting role, the best costume design and the best production design. And it deserves to be nominated in all of them. The film is very feminine and thus the costumes are also very feminine, they flow and dance around our characters, you could even say that the costumes are characters themselves as they are huge part of the transformation that our main character goes through. And as I said, The Danish Girl is beautiful and that is lavishly showed in production design. A viewer’s eyes can rest on the screen, it’s so very nice to look at. I also enjoyed how the film is shot, how the light has been used to highlight the features of faces or even figures.

alicia_vikander

The best parts in The Danish Girl are still the performances of Eddie Redmayne and especially Alicia Vikander. Redmayne greatly achieves to portrait the torture Lily is going inside and his looks are just perfect for the part. And as we should already know, he’s very talented actor. But the find here (and in Ex Machina also) is Alicia Vikander, she’s astonishing and should win the Oscar for her performance. It’ll be robbed if she doesn’t. She was already robbed by putting her in supporting when her role is obviously leading lady. While Redmayne’s character is a bit off-putting in her selfishness, Vikander’s Gerda is more rooted, more real, more emotional of those two. It’s easier to understand her suffering and the reactions she gives in situations. If that story is true, how that incredible woman took his husband’s change, I have nothing but admiration towards her. What a woman!

While The Danish Girl is too distant for my taste, it still should be seen just because of those two performances. And as we all know, the lives of transgender people are more than relevant at the moment and here is a story that might shed some understanding on the matter.

Rating: ***½ (out of 5)

carolposter

Carol (2015)

Directed by Todd Haynes

Written by Phyllis Nagy, novel by Patricia Highsmith

Starring Rooney Mara & Cate Blanchett

Synopsis: “An aspiring photographer develops an intimate relationship with an older woman.”

Another case where there is total category fraud in the Oscars again. Rooney Mara IS the leading lady here. More so than Blanchett but to be honest, they both are. It is a story of two women who face the hard reality of life when they fall for each other. Besides that they should both be in a leading category for actresses, they both are worth of that. 2015 was a great year for ladies and all of them more than deserve their nominations and recognition they are getting. Hopefully the salaries will follow the suit.

Carol is nominated for six Oscars. I predicted it would get nine nominations, I was wrong with the director, production design and best picture. The latter especially surprised me as it’s still nominated in several categories and to me that means it’s one of the best films of the year. But I guess it’s not nominated because of the weird voting system of the Oscars (explanation here at Gold Derby). Because it definitely is not the best film of the year. To me it wasn’t even near. Yes, it has everything is should have but I just didn’t really care. Blanchett’s character is not very nice, she seems uninterested in others’ feelings. Mara is good and vulnerable but for some reason she has always been great at picturing distant characters and again she does that well. If The Danish Girl was too emotionless, Carol was even more so and what’s even worse; it was also a bit boring, I checked my watch way too often.

Carol-costumes

But like I said, everything is there. The costumes are striking and especially Blanchett carries them like a true queen. I liked the script, it felt real but it is understated like the whole film. I really didn’t like the cinematography, it is (I guess) suitable for the era but not to me, it looks dirty and old and nah, I didn’t like it at all, especially because I’ve just seen The Danish Girl (I saw these two in a row) that I liked to look at a lot. On the other hand, I’m very happy that Carter Burwell was nominated for the Oscar, he very much deserves it and the music in the film is suitable and supports the story well and this is his first nominations in the Oscars. But like in the case of The Danish Girl, the performances are THE reason to see Carol. And I guess if you like other films of Todd Haynes, you’ll probably like this one too. I don’t like his films and I should just finally realise it.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

The Oscars reviews: Bridge of Spies & The Big Short

bridgeofspiesReviews, as promised.

BRIDGE OF SPIES (2015)

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Written by Ethan & Joel Cohen & Matt Charman

Starring Tom Hanks & Mark Rylance

Synopsis (via IMDb): “During the Cold War, an American lawyer is recruited to defend an arrested Soviet spy in court, and then help the CIA facilitate an exchange of the spy for the Soviet captured American U2 spy plane pilot, Francis Gary Powers.”

Bridge of Spies is nominated for six Oscars: best picture, supporting actor, original screenplay, production design, original music and sound mixing and to me this film is worthy of all of those nominations. I predicted it will get five out of those six and I only left music out as there just wasn’t enough slots for Thomas Newman who scored the film. But the soundtrack of Bridge of Spies is beautiful and deserves to be nominated. And even possibly might win as Newman has been nominated for 13 times but has never won. Though, unfortunately for him, I doubt he will win this year either. Morricone’s music for The Hateful Eight is just way too good.

Bridge of Spies is guaranteed Spielberg. By far it’s not his best work but solid still. Spielberg doesn’t really do bad films, does he? I don’t think so… Oh, well, the last Indy. Ugh. OK, so he does but not often. Bridge of Spies is quite close to Spielberg’s last effort, Lincoln. It’s more entertaining and light and doesn’t have that many long monologues but it also doesn’t have Daniel Day Lewis. Tom Hanks is Tom Hanks, the everyman, in the role of James B. Donovan. And he nails it but it’s nothing spectacular. Then again, Mark Rylance as Rudolph Abel is a perfection, I loved his work and despite the fact that all the guys in supporting category are probably deserving, I hope Rylance will win, he’s so good. Other actors are irrelevant to the story and I don’t really even remember their faces anymore. But all solid, obviously, it’s Spielberg’s film after all and I doubt his casting has ever really gone wrong.

ST. JAMES PLACE

The writing is interesting enough and actually well-done as I was so frustrated to Americans while watching this. The flow of the film works. But it will not win the Oscar. But I hope it will win for the Production Design, it deserves it. Nice job! And even though I’m not the girl to truly understand sound design, in this film I did pay attention because it felt real. All the noises around that you hear were there and they felt real, like a traffic outside of your apartment. All in all, Bridge of Spies is good but not spectacular. I was moved by it and felt a bunch of other emotions, so that’ll do. Plus it looks very good.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

thebigshort_poster

THE BIG SHORT (2015)

Directed by Adam McKay

Written by Charles Randolph & Adam McKay, book by Michael Lewis

Starring Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, John Magaro & Finn Wittrock

Synopsis: “Four denizens of the world of high-finance predict the credit and housing bubble collapse of the mid-2000s, and decide to take on the big banks for their greed and lack of foresight.”

The Big Short kind of came out of nowhere. Surely as soon as they announced that the film will be out this year, it got some hype already because of the actors but then nothing and then suddenly it was getting nominated all around. And finally for the Oscars where it is nominated for five Oscars including the best picture, supporting actor, directing, adapted screenplay and editing. Big ones! And again, deservedly so.

Since Whiplash this has been the biggest surprise to me and in a positive way for sure! I had my doubts, it’s a film about housing market collapsing after all, how exciting that can be? Apparently, very. I wasn’t at all fond of Adam McKay, the director, before seeing The Big Short and I really didn’t believe that this film can be any better than his previous films. I’m glad to say, I was wrong. The Big Short is a very, very good film. It’s entertaining, thrilling, fun, sad, frustrating and glitzy at the same time. And very smart. The writing is top-notch and I wish it’ll win for the best adapted screenplay, it earns it. I still can’t believe how they managed to explain those complicated financial matters involved in housing markets to us less aware of stock exchange or insurance markets. And doing it by very entertaining way. Thumbs up! Besides writing, I think it will take home the Editing award, it should. It’s THE thing in this film that drives it forward and makes it as fast-paced as it is. Super important and extremely well-done.

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I tend to always forget how good of an actor Christian Bale is when I don’t see his films for a while. He just is, really good, a chameleon. Great supporting role here again. Others are good too, but he’s better.

I don’t know what else to say. I loved The Big Short, I think I want to see it again. It’s that entertaining. And surprisingly relevant, read the last texts.

Rating: ****½ 

The Oscar Nominations – how did I do and what else went wrong?

The 85th Academy Awards® will air live on Oscar® Sunday, February 24, 2013.It’s been few days and let’s reflect now how I did with my predictions and other thoughts concerning the Oscar nominations 2016.

All in all I did ok. BUT I should never trust my gut feeling or change things during the last couple of days because apparently they will go wrong. I was 75% correct this year. Not my best but not my worst either.

BEST PICTURE I predicted following:

  1. Spotlight
  2. Mad Max Fury Road
  3. Carol
  4. The Martian
  5. The Revenant
  6. The Big Short
  7. Bridge of Spies
  8. Inside Out
  9. Brooklyn
  10. Straight Outta Compton

I got Carol, Inside Out and Straight Outta Compton wrong and left Room out. I’m genuinely surprised by Carol’s omission, I thought it would be shoo-in. I saw Carol tonight and well, I’m not that surprised anymore. I’ll write a review later. I’m glad Room is in, I believe it’s worth of it even though I haven’t seen it yet. And I’m sad Inside Out is out. I still need to see half of the best picture nominees until I can have proper opinion here. HERE you can see all the nominations.

roomthemoviewithbrielarson

BEST DIRECTOR

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road – George Miller
  2. Spotlight – Thomas McCarthy
  3. Carol – Todd Haynes
  4. The Revenant – Alejandro Gonzales Iñarritu
  5. The Martian – Ridley Scott

I had two wrong ones; Ridley Scott and Todd Haynes. I’m a bit surprised of both but especially Scott, he should be there but it’s nice that Lenny Abrahamson of Room got in and well, now, after seeing The Big Short last night, I’m very happy that Adam McKay got in. The film is great!

BEST ACTOR

  1. The Martian – Matt Damon
  2. Steve Jobs – Michael Fassbender
  3. The Revenant – Leonardo DiCaprio
  4. The Danish Girl – Eddie Redmayne
  5. Trumbo – Bryan Cranston

bale

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

  1. Bridge of Spies – Mark Rylance
  2. Creed – Sylvester
  3. Beasts of No Nation – Idris Elba
  4. 99 Homes – Michael Shannon
  5. Spotlight – Mark Ruffalo

The best actor I got 5/5 and with supporting 3/5. I’m sad that they passed Idris Elba, the Academy should have included him. Well, I love Hardy and Bale who got in instead, so can’t complain a lot. And after seeing Bale’s performance yesterday, well, he’s fantastic in The Big Short. Then again, isn’t he always?

BEST ACTRESS

  1. Carol – Cate Blanchett
  2. The Danish Girl – Alicia Vikander
  3. 45 Years – Charlotte Rampling
  4. Room – Brie Larson
  5. Brooklyn – Saoirse Ronan

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  1. Carol – Rooney Mara
  2. The Hateful Eight – Jennifer Jason Leigh
  3. Steve Jobs – Kate Winslet
  4. Spotlight – Rachel McAdams
  5. Trumbo – Helen Mirren

With the best actress I got Alicia Vikander wrong and I think that’s wrong. Both, Rooney Mara and Alicia Vikander should be within the leading ladies. Their parts are HUGE! Mara’s even bigger than Blanchett’s… Idiotic. But I like Jennifer Lawrence and she’s great in Joy which to me was generally more enjoyable film than The Danish Girl or Carol. In supporting I had Mirren wrong which I’m glad about. I still need to see Spotlight of those in supporting category but I hope Alicia Vikander will win, she’s extraordinary in The Danish Girl. Review coming later.

BEST SCREENPLAY (original)

  1. The Hateful Eight – Quentin Tarantino
  2. Inside Out – Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve & Josh Cooley
  3. Spotlight – Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer
  4. Bridge of Spies – Matt Charman & Coen brothers
  5. Ex Machina – Alex Garland

BEST SCREENPLAY (adapted)

  1. Carol – Phyllis Nagy
  2. Room – Emma Donoghue
  3. The Martian – Drew Goddard
  4. Steve Jobs – Aaron Sorkin
  5. The Big Short – Charles Randolph & Adam McKay

 In original screenplay category I got 3/5 correct and in adapted 4/5. In the latter I’m hugely amazed that Aaron Sorkin was left out, I have no idea what happened there?! No words for that. I’m also surprised that Tarantino was left out in original category especially because the writing of Straight Outta Compton is a bit clumsy… Oh well. My favourites to win are Inside Out and The Big Short. Any film that has Margot Robbie in a bubble bath should win an Oscar.

margotrobbie_inabubblebath

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY I got 5/5

  • Mad Max Fury Road
  • The Revenant
  • Sicario
  • Carol
  • The Hateful Eight

BEST EDITING was 4/5 The Force Awakens replacing The Martian

  • Mad Max Fury Road
  • The Revenant
  • The Martian
  • Spotlight
  • The Big Short

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN was also 4/5 The Martian replacing Carol which I easily understand now after seeing Carol tonight.

  • Mad Max Fury Road
  • Carol
  • Bridge of Spies
  • The Danish Girl
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

BEST COSTUME DESIGN again 4/5 The Revenant replacing Brooklyn

  • Cinderella
  • Carol
  • Brooklyn
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Danish Girl

BEST MAKEUP

  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Holmes
  • The Revenant

Here I should have predicted  A 100-year-old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared because it was so “out-there” option. So, 2 out of 3.

madmax_makeup

BEST SCORE

  • Carol – Carter Burwell
  • The Danish Girl – Alexander Desplat
  • The Hateful Eight – Ennio Morricone
  • Inside Out – Michael Giacchino
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens – John Williams

Well, here I had 3/5 and I’m a bit sad that Alexander Desplat is not nominated for The Danish Girl, it’s beautifully composed. And I predicted Giacchino for Inside Out but I’m soooooo much happier that Jóhann Jóhannsson got nominated for Sicario because that is one of my favourite soundtracks of the year. That guy is becoming one of my favourite composers quickly. Yay!

BEST SONG I got 3/5 correct here which is good enough for me as this category is always so tricky. I’m sad for See You Again because it’s a great song. I hope Lady Gaga wins.

  • Spectre – Writings on the Wall
  • The Hunting Ground – Til It Happens To You
  • Youth – Simple Song #3
  • Fifty Shades of Grey – Love Me Like You Do
  • Furious 7 – See You Again

BEST SOUND EDITING

  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • The Hateful Eight
  • The Revenant
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

BEST SOUND MIXING

  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • Bridge of Spies
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • The Revenant

 In sound editing I had 4/5 missing Sicario and putting The Hateful Eight in. And in mixing I had 5/5. Cool.

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Jurassic World
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant

I missed Ex Machina which I changed back to Jurassic World during the last day. I should never do that!

star-wars-mad-max-revenant

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE I got one wrong. That was Theeb from Jordan that won over Labyrinth of Lies from Germany. Not so surprising actually.

  • Son of Saul (Hungary)
  • Mustang (France)
  • Embrace of the Serpent (Colombia)
  • Labyrinth of Lies (Germany)
  • A War (Denmark)

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

  • Inside Out
  • Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet
  • Anomalisa
  • The Good Dinosaur
  • The Peanuts Movie

BEST DOCUMENTARY

  • Amy
  • Cartel Land
  • The Look of Silence
  • Best of Enemies
  • Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief

The animated feature category keeps surprising me and I should probably remember that the next year. I also have no opinion here except that I wish Inside Out will win. I got 3/5 also in documentary category. I’m a bit surprised that scientology doc Going Clear didn’t make it… Maybe so many of those Academy members are actually members?

 BEST ANIMATED SHORT I had 4/5, Carface instead of We Can’t Live Without Cosmos

  1. World of Tomorrow
  2. Sanjay’s Super Team
  3. Bear Story
  4. Carface
  5. Prologue

BEST SHORT DOCUMENTARY was also 4/5, Minerita instead of Body Team 12 (I don’t even know why I chose that?)

  1. Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah
  2. Last Day of Freedom
  3. Minerita
  4. Chau Beyond the Lines
  5. A Girl in the River

 chaubeyondthelines

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT

  • Ave Maria
  • Bis Gleich
  • Shok
  • Stutterer
  • Winter Light

In the last category I got two wrong, they were Bis Gleich and Winter Light and the nominees are instead Day One and other German short Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut). Again I have no opinion.

That’s it folks. I will continue reviewing the nominees for the next month and write other Oscars stuff. Again, HERE you can see the nominees and later on also my own wishes for the winners and my eventual predictions before the Gala on 28th of February.