The obligatory Oscar predictions post: Who will win & who should win

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Well, it’s that time of the year again… tax season and the Oscars. We’re in fact doing our taxes just before I worked on this post. Both are unavoidable and obligatory, well for most of us blogging/writing about movies anyway.

This is the first year I’m actually looking forward to the opening monologue more than the main event. I can’t wait to hear what Chris Rock‘s going to say about the whole diversity issue. But hopefully the whole thing won’t be too heavy handed and we get to see him poke fun at a bunch of celebs, as to be expected.

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To be honest with you, even though it’s Oscar week, I hadn’t really been thinking much about the Oscars. In fact, I hadn’t been seeing anything Oscar-related the past couple of weeks, though we wanted to see Shaun of the Sheep movie last night, which was nominated for Best Animated Feature but there’s a connection issue so we watched another episode of Jessica Jones instead.

oscar-ballot-2016I’ve posted my thoughts on the nominations, but now that the big event is near, I thought I’d pick who will and SHOULD win the Oscars this year. I’m not predicting ALL of the categories though, just the ones that I have actually seen. Click on this handy Oscar ballot from EW.com if you want to see the full nominees.

So here we go:

BEST PICTURE

Who will win: The Revenant

Who should win: Mad Max: Fury Road

No doubt The Revenant is the frontrunner this year in many categories, but once the dust of award season’s settled I think Fury Road is one people will remember more in the end. It’s such a singularly unique film that’s spectacularly-crafted all around.

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ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Who will win: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

Who should win: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

Even without having seen his performance in full as I have yet to see the film, I think it’s safe to say this is Leo’s year.

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Methinks we’ll see a repeat of Leo-Brie pairing in the leading performance category

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

 Who will win: Brie Larson, Room

 Who should win: Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Having won pretty much every other award in this category, I think Brie will be this year’s Jennifer Lawrence. I still want to see Ronan win it though, as I think Ronan’s understated performance leaves a more lasting impression to me. It’s not a flashy role which takes an astute performer to pull it off so beautifully.

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ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Who will win: Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Who should win: Tom Hardy, The Revenant

I had been championing Stallone from the get go and I’m not surprised he’s the frontrunner in this category. However, part of me thinks that Hardy’s been overlooked in general despite his astonishing performance in no less than three films: Legend, Mad Max: Fury Road and The Revenant, which I read is just as compelling as Leo’s and that his character is actually more complex in the film.

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ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Who will win: Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

Who should win: Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

I have only seen two performances in this category and I for one don’t think Rachel McAdams is THAT great to be nominated. I mentioned before that I actually wished for Kristen Stewart to be recognized for Clouds of Sils Maria instead of McAdams. So I’ll pick Winslet in this lot as I was impressed by her performance.

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DIRECTING

Who will win: Alejandro González Iñárritu, The Revenant

Who should win: George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road

I’m going to borrow Variety‘s Justin Chang’s reasoning for what he called ‘a tour de force visual storytelling’… “[Miller] gave us far more than just a master class in how to block, frame, shoot and edit action.” Amen to that, let’s hope he’s properly recognized.

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CINEMATOGRAPHY

Who will win: The Revenant

Who should win: Sicario


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and Sicario are both spectacularly shot. But I give Sicario the edge because Roger Deakins’ visual mastery has been overlooked time and time again. This is his thirteen nominations with not a single win so far. I read this article on Deakins and his approach to his work and how his imagery is done to serve a larger purpose is why he is such a legend.

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ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

Who will win: Inside Out

Who should win: Anomalisa

Though I wasn’t blown away by the story of Anomalisa, I think it deserves to win for being such a unique piece of art. It’s one of the most lifelike claymation and the story is unconventionally dark and moody for this genre.

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COSTUME DESIGN

Who will win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Who should win: Cinderella

I think Fury Road has won many awards in this category and I certainly won’t be fuming if they win again at the Oscars. But I’d LOVE to see Sandy Powell win in either category, especially Cinderella, given the incredible amount of gowns she has to design. I’m more enamored by Cate Blanchett’s dresses, though of course Cinderella’s sparkly ballgown in iconic in its own right.

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MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

Who will win: The Revenant

Who should win: Mad Max: Fury Road

I think Leo’s severe flesh wounds from the bear attack will likely garner a win for the makeup artist. But the look of the characters in Fury Road is simply astonishing and unforgettable.

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MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)

Who will win: The Hateful Eight

Who should win: Sicario

One can’t deny the masterful work of Ennio Morricone, who like Deakins have never won a single Oscar for an individual piece of work (he did won an honorary Oscar in 2007). But I was blown away by Jóhann Jóhannsson’s score in Sicario, which adds so much tension and dread to the film.

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MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)

Who will win: Writing’s On The Wall, Spectre

Who should win: Till It Happens To You, The Hunting Ground


Anything other than Sam Smith’s song please!! I think the melody of Writing’s on the Wall is fine but the song w/ his whiny voice is more like writhing against the wall. I actually just listened to Lady Gaga’s song Til It Happens To You and it’s a powerful one on an important subject.

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PRODUCTION DESIGN

Who will win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Who should win: Mad Max: Fury Road

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It’ll be Fury Road hands down in this category. I mean, the set pieces of Fury Road is unlike any other film I’ve seen. The vehicles alone are incredible, as you can see in this top 10 list. They actually built every single one of those, instead of relying on CGI effects.

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VISUAL EFFECTS

Who will win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Who should win: Ex Machina

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I certainly won’t have any qualms if Fury Road wins again in this category. But I was thrilled to see the ‘little film that could’ Ex Machina, with its $15 mil budget get in the race. I’d love to see it win this thing because it’s a visually spectacular film that looks more expensive than it is. The look of the robot Ava alone is so unique in a plethora of robot movies in Hollywood. This film also happens to boast the first female nominee in the visual effects category in more than a decade!

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WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)

Who will win: The Big Short

Who should win: The Big Short

The Big Short won best adapted screenplay at the Writers Guild Awards and also took the top prize at the Producers Guild Awards, so I’d think it has a big chance of taking home the Oscar. It’s really an unconventional take of a financial crisis, but the risk paid off. I wouldn’t mind The Martian or Brooklyn winning either, esp. the latter.

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WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)

Who will win: Spotlight

Who should win: Spotlight

I was simply blown away by this meticulous, sharp and understated film. Powerful without resorting to sensationalism or emotional manipulation. This is my second pick after Mad Max: Fury Road to win Best Picture, and if it won in this category, it’ll have a major chance of winning the top prize.

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I have a feeling this year there might not be a single film that’ll sweep all of the awards, but if that happens, I hope that’ll be Mad Max: Fury Road!

So that’s it folks. I’m only predicting 16 out of the complete 24 categories.We’ll see how many I’d get wrong tomorrow night 😉


Ok, so what are some of your Oscar winner predictions for this year?

FlixChatter Review: The Revenant (2016)

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I have to admit that I’m not the biggest fan of Alejandro González Iñárritu. I think he’s a very good filmmaker but many of his films are way to depressing to me. Heck I have yet to see his awarding winning film Birdman, so I was hesitant to see his latest picture. But after seeing a stunning trailer a few months back, THE REVENANT became of the films I most looked forward to seeing this winter.

Set sometime in the 1820s, frontierman Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a fur tracker who’s part of a pelt gathering expedition that’s being lead by Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson). As the film begins, Glass and his son Hawk (Forrest Goodluck) are deer hunting in the forest while his group are gearing up to get on their boat. Suddently out of nowhere, a pack of Native Americans starts attacking them. In an intense battle sequence, some of the crew were killed but Glass and the rest of the gang were able to get away. Later the group came to a rest at a camp site. While out scouting for any potential dangers, Glass was attacked by a bear. He’s badly wounded but was able to kill the creature. Moments later, Henry and some of the men found him. They stitched him up but realized he might not live for long.

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One of the crew members named John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) suggested that they leave Glass to die on his own since he’s badly wounded. This of course upsets Hawk and Henry refuses to leave anyone behind. As the crew are heading back to their settlement across the mountain, it became clear that they can’t carry Glass all the way back. So Henry offer money to any volunteers who will stay with Glass until he dies and give him a proper burial. Glass’ son Hawk immediately volunteered and so did a young crew member named Jim Bridger (Will Poulter). The third person to volunteer was Fitzgerald, his only reasoning was that he wants the cash. What Henry doesn’t know is that Fitzgerald didn’t care for Glass and he never intended to wait until Glass dies. What follow is a story of vengeance and survival in the harsh winter landscape.


DiCaprio didn’t have a lot of dialogue in the film but his performance really shines as he uses all of his body and emotions to convey a man who’ll do anything to get vengeance at the people who left him for dead. It’s obvious he wants another shot at that golden statue, I’m sure he’ll get nominated again but I don’t know if he’ll win it. Hardy turned in another stellar performance as the antagonist. I wouldn’t call him a “bad” guy, his action and reasoning are quite understandable, although I don’t agree with some of the things he did in the film. The two young actors, Goodluck and Poulter, also shines as sort of the innocent characters in this harsh time.

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Iñárritu directed the film with some interesting camera work, particularly in the battle/action sequences. He also paid a lot of homage to Terrence Malick’s films. Some might call it pretentious but I don’t see it that way. The movie is quite brutal when it comes to violence, the bear attack scene was the most intense and realistic thing I’ve ever seen on screen. Then there’s the eventual showdown between Glass and Fitzgerald, it’s brutal and bloody but believable to me.

The film was shot by the always-great Emmanuel Lubezki and of course it looks spectacular. See it on the biggest screen you can find. Also, I have to mention the sound design, it’s one the best I’ve heard all year. The film was recorded in Dolby Atmos, but unfortunately the advance screening I saw was at a 7.1 surround sound. But I’m planning to see it again at a Atmos theater. So find a nice big screen theater with great surround if you can and be amazed by the sight and sound of this film.

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I don’t pay attention to any award shows but I won’t be surprised if this film get lots of attention from Oscar or Golden Globe voters. It’s one of best films of the year and as of now, it’s my favorite of 2015.

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So have you seen The Revenant? Well, what did you think?

Oscars 2015 – Recap, Reflections on Best & Worst Moments

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Quick confession: I’m not a huge fan of Oscars red carpet, or red carpet in general. So I only tuned in a half hour before the show. It’s funny but the second I turned on the TV, Michael Keaton was standing next to the chirpy blond presenter. He seems effortlessly at ease, LOVE that guy and I’m so rooting for him to the end! As I did last year, I went to Zumba, had dinner, then went down to my basement.

Well, first things first…

How did I do on my predictions?

  1. Best picture: Boyhood  Birdman
  2. Best director: Richard Linklater (Boyhood) Alexandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman)
  3. Best lead actor: Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything
  4. Best lead actress: Julianne Moore – Still Alice
  5. Best supporting actor: J.K. Simmons –Whiplash
  6. Best supporting actress: Patricia Arquette –Boyhood
  7. Best animated feature: Song of the Sea Big Hero 6
  8. Best feature documentary: Citizenfour
  9. Best adapted screenplay: The Theory of Everything The Imitation Game
  10. Best original screenplay: Birdman
  11. Best original score: The Grand Budapest Hotel
  12. Best cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki – Birdman
  13. Best original song: “Glory” from Selma
  14. Best Make Up and Hair Styling: Foxcatcher The Grand Budapest Hotel
  15. Best Production Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel
  16. Best Visual Effects: Interstellar
  17. Best Costume Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Well, I got 12 out of 17 predictions right. I’m actually surprised to be surprised by the winners, if that make sense at all. I mean, I honestly thought Boyhood would sweep the awards, well at least in Best Director and Best Picture. I haven’t seen the film yet so I’ve been #TeamBirdman from the start. I literally screamed at the top of my lungs [sorry neighbors!] when I heard Iñárritu‘s name called out… I was ecstatic still, I did NOT see Birdman‘s Best Picture win coming …

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Red Carpet Stuff

Firstly, can someone explain what the heck is going on here?? John Travolta is feelin’ frisky tonight eh? Scarlett Johansson‘s post-baby figure is PHENOMENAL! Dayum girl, and that haircut is bad ass!!

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These two dresses are my two favorites of the night:

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Lupita Nyong’O was my red carpet fave last year too. Wow she’s still the reigning queen of the red carpet with this amazing custom-made pearl gown. YOWZA!! Can’t beat her pearl dress, but it’s her elegant swagger that makes her so dazzling.

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Yet another gorgeous new mom,Rosamund Pike just had a baby back in December!! She’s wearing the color of blood for her first Oscar nomination, how appropriate! She looks absolutely stunning and I LOVE the rose textures all over her gown.

A few other favorites …

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Dapper men on the red carpet!

Look at the three dapper Chris-es in the center (Evans, Pratt & Pine), hmmm where’s Hemsworth??

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Forget best-dressed peoples…  these two ladies WON the red carpet with their unabashed display of affection. LOVE the spontaneity of this shot, I didn’t know Emma StoneJennifer Aniston are best buds, VERY cool!

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Favorite Speeches:

“We made a film, black and white, about the need for silence and withdrawal from the world and contemplation, and here we are at this epicenter of noise and all the tension… Life is full of surprises” — Pawel Pawlikowski, director of IDA

By far the funniest speech of the night, can’t blame him for his exuberance. I kind of feel guilty for not having seen IDA yet.

The disclosures that Edward Snowden reveals don’t only expose a threat to our privacy but to our democracy itself,” – Citizenfour’s Lauren Poitras

.@johnlegend moves the crowd to tears with his powerful Oscars speech. pic.twitter.com/UhmNezO1zN

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Now, I wasn’t rooting for him but I have to admit I was moved by Eddie Redmayne’s ecstatic and his can’t-believe-I-actually-won reaction when he gripped his Oscar tightly in his hand. I predicted he’d win and I knew that no matter how much I wanted Michael Keaton to win, it just wouldn’t be in the cards. But hey, the dude seems cool about it. I think Eddie wanted to win more badly than anyone else.

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Hilarious nod to his pal Alfonso Cuarón who deservedly won last year for Gravity, in case some of you forgot.

What a great come back to Sean Penn’s uncalled for ‘green card’ comment [see below under WORST moments]. Seriously, I thought I couldn’t dislike a guy more, but Penn is relentless in being so unlikable.

Fave Moments

The LEGO Movie‘s Everything is Awesome musical number is so exuberantly fun and joyful! Some of the dancers came out carrying the LEGO version of the Oscar statuettes in response to their egregious snub. Take THAT the Academy!

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Common and John Legend‘s performance of GLORY… it was a glorious performance. Common_Legend_Oscar2015I know people are mocking the standing ovation and people tearing up over that song, but it’s uncalled for. The song is genuinely moving rendition of an important and VERY timely film. It’s a well-deserved win and followed by a defiant speech.

LadyGaga_Oscar15WHOA!! I didn’t see THIS coming …

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I can’t say I’m a big fan of Lady Gaga so I had no idea she could sing so beautifully! What’s even more beautiful is the Dame herself Julie Andrews coming on stage looking genuinely verklempt over Gaga’s performance and hugged her. LOVE it!

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Glom Gazingo! Idina Menzel, aka Adele Dazeem got her revenge on John Travolta. But this hilarious moment is also one of the creepiest. What’s w/ all the face-touching John??

Hands down my favorite moment ever from last night:

 

So how did NPH do as host?

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 Can’t say I’m impressed with Neil Patrick Harris. I think I only laughed a couple of times as he seemed so self-aware all night that the joke just seemed off. Even when he showed up in his tighty whities as a spoof to Birdman, it didn’t feel all that spontaneous compared to last year’s pizza delivery thing. I definitely like Ellen more as host, I just think she is funny without trying too hard. Oh and I didn’t care for his subtle-not-so-subtle ‘treason’ jab against Ed Snowden after Citizenfour won Best Documentary.

I did enjoy his ‘Oscar prediction’ bit but I think that’s due to the Oscar writers kind of summarizing the most amusing moments of the night.

Oh and THIS moment with David Oyelowo is pretty cute.

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Worst Moments:

Sean Penn making us wait for the final award of the night, Best Picture, only to be followed by a distasteful *joke* about green card, sheesh! Yes I know he worked with Iñárritu on 21 Grams so the two are likely friends, but still, it’s just inappropriate and offensive.

Seeing this pic of Robin Williams… still can’t believe he’s gone 😦

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So did you watch the Oscars last night? Thoughts on the winners and what’s your pick of best/worst moments?

Weekend Roundup: Quick thoughts on BAFTA 2015 + review of Predestination

Happy Monday everyone! Well it’s quite a busy weekend for me but I got to see two new-to-me movies, yay. I also got two reviews done on Sunday, so expect to see a review of Jupiter Ascending tomorrow.

BAFTA

Here are my top five things I’m happy about from 2015 BAFTA Awards:

  • Emmanuel Lubezki winning Best Cinematography for Birdman
  • The LEGO Movie winning Best Animated Film
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel winning Best Original Screenplay
  • Citizenfour winning Best Documentary
  • Alexandre Desplat winning Best Original Music for The Grand Budapest Hotel

But really, who cares about the winners, check out these dreamy guys at the BAFTAS 😉

Ehm, okay so Boyhood wins big at the BAFTAS including Richard Linklater winning Best Director. But hey, Alejandro González Iñárritu won Best Director at Directors Guild Award so there’s still a chance Birdman comes out on top come Oscar. Boy the race is REALLY neck and neck between the two movies. Both has the same one-word title with exactly six letters too, that’s gotta be a first. The THE EE RISING STAR AWARD went to Jack O’Connell whose work I still need to see. It’s a bummer that Gugu Mbatha-Raw didn’t win but I hope one day she’d win an actual BAFTA!



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The life of a time-traveling Temporal Agent. On his final assignment, he must pursue the one criminal that has eluded him throughout time.

I was intrigued to see Predestination as I was impressed by the Spierig Brothers’ previous film Daybreakers. It offers a novelty twist to the popular vampire genre and this time, they tackled another popular Hollywood theme, time travel. This is my impression after I saw it:

I’m not going to say much about the plot as the less you know about it the better the experience. All I’m going to say is that it’s based on Robert A. Heinlein’s short story All You Zombies. I thought at first there’s some similarities to Minority Report about the preventing-a-future-crime from-happening plot, but the story is completely different. In fact, it makes that Spielberg film seems more straight-forward if you can believe that. I like how the film started out with a bang but then the pace slows down considerably in the first act as we’re introduced to the characters played by Ethan Hawke and Sarah Snook. The odd pacing seems deliberate and I actually think it’s pretty effective and engrossing in getting us to care about their journey.

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Hawke is solid here once again, as he was in Daybreakers. I always think he’s an underrated actor as though he’s not the most charismatic actor but he’s always reliable. There’s something soulful about his performance and he’s not afraid to show his vulnerable side. But it’s Snook who’s quite a revelation here. I’ve never seen the Aussie actress before but she is absolutely astounding. It also helps when she’s given a strong character arc here, and she tackled her role as The Unmarried Mother, which is the name of her magazine column she writes for. It’s quite a complex role with multiple layers but it’s so rewarding to see how she tackles each one convincingly and with so much heart.

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There’s also Noah Taylor as the enigmatic Mr Robertson but for the most part, the story revolves around Hawke and Snook’s characters. This film will leave you scratching your head, as most stories dealing with time travel paradox often do. But how the plot unravels is captivating, keeping you guessing whilst you try to grasp just what you’re actually witnessing.

If you like sci-fi AND time travel movies, this one is a must-see. The cinematography and art direction is wonderful, featuring unique camera angles and excellent production design. It’s impressive considering the relatively tiny budget (about $5 mil according to Deadline, as it’s part of a three-picture deal worth $17 mil). It’s another proof that one doesn’t need an astronomical budget to tell a good story. I’m curious to see what the Spierig brothers will tackle next!

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So what did YOU see this weekend? Anything good?

FlixChatter Review: Birdman or (the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)

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It’s been nearly a month since I saw this film, but I’m still thinking about it. In fact, I was just telling a friend over coffee this weekend how the more I think about this film, the more I like it.

The story revolves around Riggan Thomson, played by Michael Keaton in an art-imitating-life sort of a role as he’s famous for playing Batman in the late 80s/early 90s. Riggan is a has-been actor, most famous for playing a successful comic-book franchise, Birdman. But instead of opting to take an easy paycheck out of the fourth installment of the franchise, Riggan attempts to reinvent himself and reclaim his past glory by directing/starring an off-Broadway play. Not a light undertaking, especially when one problem after another starts popping up, threatening to grind his play to a halt. It also doesn’t help that Riggan is still haunted by his Birdman character, literally, who constantly berates him in his dressing room.

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The way Alejandro González Iñárritu frames his story is captivating and unequivocally surreal. The camera is told from Riggan’s point of view and the camera often follows him in one long, continuous take. From the cramped dressing room through the narrow corridor all the way to the stage, the film takes place mostly in the confines of the theater’s backstage. The neon sign of Phantom of the Opera is often visible in NYC’s Theater District across Riggan’s theater, one of the things that grounds the film in reality amidst all the surreal elements. Slipping back and forth between reality and fantasy, and often blurs the line between the two, the film manages to keep me entertained and engaged throughout.

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It certainly helps that all his actors perform with equal dexterity. Nice to see Edward Norton get a role worthy of his talent. He’s a method actor who’s a bit of a diva and his on-and-off screen antics are fun to watch. There’s an amusing brawl backstage between him and Keaton that’s worth the price of admission. Naomi Watts, Andrea Riseborough, Amy Ryan and Emma Stone all provide memorable supporting role, with Stone perhaps having the flashiest part as Riggan’s daughter. Her performance, especially memorable for her heated monologue, has already earned her a Golden Globe and SAG nomination. Even Zach Galifinakis, an actor I never quite warmed up to, was quite good here as his often-hysterical theater producer. British actress Lindsay Duncan has a small but important role as the critic who could potentially make or break Riggan’s career.

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The real star here is Michael Keaton in a welcomed come-back role as a leading man. I’ve always been a fan of the underrated actor as he can deliver both serious, menacing and comical performance convincingly. He gets to do both here in equal measure as he truly embodies his character. He’s a natural in the more um, batty scenarios, but also genuinely sympathetic in the quieter moments that display Riggan’s vulnerability. Perhaps the fact that he has a similar personal experience helps him in the role, so it’s definitely inspired casting here that works wonderfully for the film.

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This is Iñárritu’s third film that I have seen so far. It could very well be my favorite and one I don’t mind seeing again. He strikes a perfect balance between drama and humor, at times hilarious and off the wall, and others heart-rending and poignant. The film’s a not-so-subtle mockery of Hollywood’s preoccupation with superhero franchises – and some of the real-life actors who’ve been in them– but yet it’s not done with disdain nor contempt as it’s all part of Riggan’s personal story. The movie also provides an interesting commentary on social media and how that affects celebrity culture in this day and age.

On a technical level, Birdman is simply phenomenal. The stunning and unique camera work make you think ‘how did they do that?’ without being too distracting. The percussion music isn’t really my style but it works in the context of the film. Emmanuel Lubezki, who won an Oscar for his astounding cinematography work for Gravity, will likely get another nom for this. I read somewhere that he shot this without artificial light due to space constraints of the cramped theater.

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I have to admit I still don’t know what to make of that WTF finale that seems deliberately left open for interpretation. It certainly makes for a fun discussion afterwards and it’s been fun reading all kinds of theories about it. I won’t say another word on it as it’s best that you discover that for yourself. Despite all the bizarre scenes and all its dream-like eccentricities, the film somehow still feels personal and human, even relatable in a strange way. No surprise that Birdman‘s become the critical darling of the year and has been raking a bunch of nominations left and right. I for one think the accolade is well-deserved as Iñárritu pushes the creative boundaries of story-telling to a new level.

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Have you seen Birdman? Well, what did YOU think?

Musings on Short Films — What are some of your favorites?

Hello all, in light of an upcoming interview with a short film director I met at TCFF, I thought I’d switch the focus from feature films to short films today.

Per Wikipedia, a short film is any film not long enough to be considered a feature film. No consensus exists as to where that boundary is drawn: the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences defines a short film as “an original motion picture that has a running time of 40 minutes or less, including all credits.”

Historically, shorts were the norm before the 1920s, when longer films were still rare. My mom used to bring Laurel & Hardy films back when I was a wee kid, and along with Charlie Chaplin films, comedy shorts were popular back then before they became feature films. Nowadays, shorts generally rely on various film events to reach a larger audience. Most film festivals have a special category for them, as do the Academy Awards. Of course the Internet is a medium that short films thrive on. There are a plethora of sites dedicated for shorts, i.e. Short of the Week, The Smalls, Atom, etc. and my hubby goes to Vimeo often to watch shorts. I think he watches them more than I do. Judging from the impressive quality of a lot of short films, I really should watch more of them.

For the filmmakers themselves, making short films could lead to a breakthrough in their career when their work gets noticed. I posted this one called The Gift by Carl Rinsch on this post last year which is an impressive sci-fi short about a futuristic robot butler who flees the police. Granted Rinsch already had a successful career as a commercial director, but this short might’ve boosted his career big time and now he’s directing 47 Ronin, a samurai thriller with Keanu Reeves.

Short films I’m most familiar with are those by Pixar as they’re always shown at the beginning of their feature films. My favorite one is For the Birds… I mean it’s just so darn adorable!! It just proves not only the technical prowess of Pixar, but also their keen storytelling ability and in creating such fun characters. A few years ago, I also watched a bunch of those BMW short films, a series of eight shorts called The Hire starring Clive Owen. It’s a very clever way to market their luxury cars, and expensive too I reckon, as all of them are directed by famous directors such as Ang Lee, Wong Kar-Wai, Alejandro González Iñárritu, etc. Most of them are very impressive, they could almost work as a feature film as well if they’d invest on building the script.

I find that shorts are often more creative than feature films. Perhaps because a lot of them are created without the influence of studios, the purse-strings that dictate what the films are supposed to be. Creative freedom seems rather scarce these days, I mean just look at most of the mainstream offerings at your local cineplex.

So anyway, here are my five favorite shorts that I can think of at the top of my head. I posted Please! a couple of years ago but I watched it again recently and the ending still gave me chills. Some of these are whimsical and some are serious & heart-wrenching stuff, the World Builder one actually made me cry!

The Raven

Pixar’s For The Birds

World Builder

Please! starring Gerry Butler

BMW Films – The Follow starring Clive Owen

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So are you a big fan of short films? Please do share some of your favorite short films you’ve seen.