New Teaser + Poster Spotlight: A24’s The Green Knight

It’s not every week I do a post about an upcoming movie. But hey, after Oscars wrapped this past weekend, I’m just looking forward what’s in store this year. I had never even heard of this movie before, but when I saw this provocative poster came across my Insta, courtesy of A24, I knew I had to post about it!

It’s funny that I actually just talked about Dev Patel w/ a fellow blogger Brittany from Rambling Film blog and that we’re both crushing on him right now ūüėČ How awesome to see that he’s actually the leading man of this movie, in a Medieval fantasy no less!

Here’s the premise, thanks to Paste Magazine:

An epic fantasy adventure based on the timeless Arthurian legend, The Green Knight tells the story of Sir Gawain (Dev Patel), King Arthur’s reckless and headstrong nephew, who embarks on a daring quest to confront the eponymous Green Knight, a gigantic emerald-skinned stranger and tester of men. Gawain contends with ghosts, giants, thieves and schemers in what becomes a deeper journey to define his character and prove his worth in the eyes of his family and kingdom by facing the ultimate challenger. From visionary filmmaker David Lowery comes a fresh and bold spin on a classic tale from the knights of the round table.

Behold the new trailer!

Glad I read a little bit about the story of¬†the poem it’s based on, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, whose original writer is unknown. Sir Gawain is a knight of King Arthur’s Round Table, and of course King Arthur is an extremely popular literary subject that’s been adapted countless times on film and other forms of media. Right away it gives me a bit of Game of Thrones meets Tarsem’s Immortals vibe. The fact that it’s A24 developing it makes me extra excited for it… it looks ominous + mysterious, and a foreboding score. Not sure if it’s going to get an R rating, but looks like it’s likely pretty violent. Now, if only we can have Sean Harris play a mute for once? Sorry but I can’t stand his hoarse voice, ugh!


As I mentioned, I love Dev Patel’s casting, who over the years has proven himself to be a versatile actor who can play virtually any role. He isn’t the first actor I’d imagine to play a heroic Medieval knight, but why shouldn’t he be? I love how many theaters in the Twin Cities have incorporated many actors of colors in many literary classic adaptations of Shakespeare and Jane Austen, so why can’t they do the same in films and tv works? The important part is the actor captures the ‘essence’ of the character. Most recently Patel also played a famous literary character by Charles Dickens in The Personal History of David Copperfield.

The rest of the cast includes Alicia Vikander (Lady Bertilak) and Joel Edgerton (Lord Bertilak), as well as Barry Keoghan, Sean Harris, Kate Dickie, and Ralph Ineson. As for the filmmaker, I’ve only seen Pete‚Äôs Dragon (which I love) by David Lowery, but his most recent film The Old Man & the Gun starring Robert Redford is highly acclaimed by critics.

I’m glad I’ll be seeing more of Patel this Spring. The the David Copperfield movie is to be released on May 8 and per IMDb, The Green Knight is released on May 29.


What do you think of THE GREEN KNIGHT?

FlixChatter Review: The Light Between Oceans (2016)

LightBetweenOceans

I have to admit I’m a bit of a sucker for romantic dramas. Not rom-coms, but a genuine heart-wrenching love story that’ll get me to cry my eyes out. Well, this film certainly fits into that category. Based on an Australian novel of the same name by M. L. Stedman, we’re first introduced to¬†Tom Sherbourne, a World War I veteran. He¬†resorts to taking a lonely job as a lighthouse keeper as he wants to be as far away from people as possible. He then meets a beautiful young girl Isabel Graysmark who’s drawn by his stoic, resigned demeanor.¬†A courtship by correspondence slowly defrosts Tom’s heart and the two did get married. Off they go to live together in Janus Rock, a secluded island off¬†the coast of Western Australia.

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The film takes a good sweet time to introduce us to Tom (a taciturn, reflective Michael Fassbender) and Isabel (the lovely Alicia Vikander). There’s a compelling realism to how their relationship and perhaps the fact that the two actors fell in love on set made their chemistry even more believable. But¬†Tom and Isabel’s seemingly blissful union doesn’t last long. They’re driven to the point of despair¬†after¬†Isabel’s miscarriages, happening one after another. The two main actors convey the heartbreak believably, especially Isabel who was such a innocent, happy-go-lucky sweet girl when she first met Tom. Filmmaker¬†Derek Cianfrance seems to have¬†set up the long buildup to illustrate the mental state of the characters and so even though it was a s-l-o-w process, it didn’t feel tedious, at least to me.

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There’s something so ethereal yet mysterious about the setting¬†at Janus Rock, the long lingering shots of the ocean and those big waves hit the rocks seem to hint¬†of something ominous that’s about to happen. Sure enough, one day a rowboat carrying a baby and a lifeless man is adrift. Isabel sees it as a gift to their family, that the baby is hers to keep. Tom on the other hand, feels compelled to do the right thing. The moment the two contemplate this decision is quite heart-wrenching to behold. You know these characters are making a terrible decision that will haunt them in the end. At times I sympathize with them given what they’ve gone through, but towards the end it was quite frustrating.

LightBetweenOceans_still3

The emotional wallop and melodrama seems to be too much for some critics, the Rotten Tomatoes consensus says that it ‘‚Ķ¬†ultimately tugs on the heartstrings too often to be effective.’ I remember thinking that as I left the theater, that¬†perhaps the film is a tad overly-manipulative, what with the decidedly somber scenery, sad faces and sad music. It¬†made me recall a line from a Scottish rom-com where the protagonist is prone to ‘worshipping her own pain.’ I think you could say that about this film and the fact that there’s very little humor throughout,¬†it can be overwhelming. I also feel that the scenes with the little girl seems rather trite as it didn’t feel true to me.

LightBetweenOceans_still4

That said, I¬†actually think the film is made with care and the actors are committed to their roles. I also have to mention Rachel Weisz here, who appears midway through the film in a key role.¬†This is the first Cianfrance film I’ve seen so far, but this isn’t the first time he deals with films about intense heartbreak¬†(i.e. Blue Valentine). I can’t form an opinion yet about his skills as a filmmaker, but I think a bit less indulgence would do this film some good. At 2 hrs 13 minutes, the film drags quite a bit¬†and trying your patience even those who are invested in the story. I think even if you’re a fan of Fassbender or Vikander, you might just wait to rent this later.¬†One thing for sure, I’m even more impressed with the skills of the two actors and their performance made this film well worth my time.

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Have you seen ‘The Light Between Oceans’? Well what did you think?

FlixChatter Review: Jason Bourne (2016)

JasonBourne2016

As a fan of the Bourne trilogy, I was dismayed when in 2012, Universal¬†went ahead with the sequel (Bourne Legacy) without Matt Damon. That fact perhaps made me more excited to see Damon teamed up again with director Paul Greengrass for a fifth (well, technically fourth) entry.¬†I guess it’s inevitable that a franchise as lucrative as Bourne will keep on going and going like the Energizer bunny, it’s essentially the American version of James Bond.

This movie starts out about eight years after the events that took place in Bourne Ultimatum, where Bourne exposed CIA’s covert ops¬†Blackfriar. As a result he’s been hiding out in Greece, and apparently does bare-knuckle boxing¬†in his spare time. Whilst the previous three films followed Bourne on a journey to find out who he really is, this time around he’s aware of his identity. He knows his real name is David Webb and became the lethal assassin that is Jason Bourne when he joined Treadstone. But of course there are new revelations about his past¬†that the CIA’s been keeping from him,¬†and later we find out the matter is quite a personal one.
JasonBourne_JuliaStiles

Intense secrecy and not knowing who to trust is at the heart of any spy thriller and that’s the case here. There are obvious antagonists,¬†CIA director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) and his henchman known only as The Asset (Vincent Cassel), but there’s¬†Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) who heads the Cyber Ops Division who’s sort of in the gray area. On Bourne side is his longtime ally Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles), who risks herself retrieving classified files about Bourne’s late father.

Now, one major beef I have with this movie is how they handled Nicky. I feel that for someone who’s been with the franchise for that long, the writers (Greengrass &¬†Christopher Rouse) should’ve given her a much better character arc. Heck, I’d love to see just a bit of background to her character¬†that would at least explain why she’s loyal to Bourne. I mean,¬†they did so with¬†The Asset, which explains his personal vendetta against Bourne. At the very least, why not give her the same courtesy?

JasonBourne_Cassel

But what I did like is that¬†like in previous films, Bourne is given an adversary worthy of his prowess. Jones’ Dewey is ruthless in his pursuit to eliminate him and Cassel is one menacing guy who makes The Asset a formidable foe for Bourne. Dewey’s ruthlessness isn’t just concerning Bourne, but the fact that he’s willing to sacrifice his own people, as well as civilians at large, in order to fulfill his purposes. The¬†film also delves into¬†the state of current¬†tech and geopolitical climate and woven it into the plot. Things like privacy, hacking, the¬†political instability in Greece, etc. are certainly timely things we deal with in our world today. So the¬†subplot involving a social media program called Deep Dream is pretty relevant, and British actor¬†Riz Ahmed is quite memorable here playing its founder.

JasonBourne_Jones_Ahmed

The movie is basically a giant chase scene. There’s not much breathing room because of¬†the way Greengrass shot every scene. Even the mundane office scenes are shot in a frenetic style with hand-held camera that gave me a bit of a headache at first. But thankfully after a while I was able to overcome it and it didn’t bother me as much, though I still think it’s a bit excessive.

Going into a Bourne movie, of course you expect a ton of exhilarating action sequences,¬†and this movie delivered! The motorcycle scene through narrow streets, scaling¬†up and down steps through a Greek city gives you such a huge¬†adrenaline rush. But that’s nothing compared to the crazy car chase in the Vegas strip¬†involving a SWAT truck plowing through a bunch of cars. It certainly isn’t aiming for realism, but boy was it fun! Apparently the sequence took five weeks to shoot and ended up¬†wrecking 170 cars.

JasonBourneVegasChase

Those wanting to see hand-to-hand combat won’t be disappointed though. There’s¬†an extended scene of Bourne vs. The Asset that’s pretty darn intense. I noticed there’s no music going on during that scene, only the sound of bone crunching and flesh tearing to enhance the¬†impact. Damon’s definitely still got it,¬†Bourne¬†is certainly one of my favorite roles of his. At 45 he’s looking more grizzled with bags under his eyes, but he pulls off¬†the physically-demanding role once again. But of course like Bond, Bourne’s¬†got stamina of super-heroic proportion and seems to be impervious to pain.

The finale¬†suggests the strained relationship between Bourne & the Agency remains unchanged.¬†Of course there wouldn’t be a Bourne franchise if the hero’s suddenly in good terms with a¬†big, powerful¬†organization notorious for overreaching its boundaries. Vikander acquits herself well here as the new face who might be present in future installments, and I have no problem with that.

JasonBourne_Vikander

I think there’s nostalgic elements here that affect my enjoyment. I love that the Moby song Extreme Ways is¬†still used, it’s certainly the¬†defining theme for the franchise.¬†On the whole I think¬†Jason Bourne¬†is on par with the trilogy even if it isn’t as impactful. It¬†could be because the mystery surrounding his identity is no longer there, which was the secret ingredient that makes¬†Bourne’s journey so intriguing. That said, it’s certainly still an enjoyable action thriller because I’m a big fan of this¬†character and Damon playing him.¬†Unlike Bond though, it remains to be seen if this franchise can have as much longevity without Greengrass and Damon.

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Have you seen ‘Jason Bourne’? I’d love to hear what you think!

My 2016 Oscar recap‚Ķ in tweets, gifs and clips

OscarsTelecast2016

Ahhh the morning after‚Ķ So did you see the telecast last night? I went downstairs to my entertainment room at 6:30 and was hoping the whole thing would just start at 7pm, but heh of course we had to get through all the red carpet stuff first. Someone tweeted that the Oscars is really just a whole bunch of commercials interrupted by an award show, heh isn’t that the truth!

Anyway, it must’ve been quite a whirlwind night for these four acting winners.

poses in the press room during the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Loews Hollywood Hotel on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California.
Photo courtesy of ABC.com

I did live tweet last night, but honestly I just didn’t have the energy (nor desire) to do a full writeup as I usually do, so I figure why not just do it w/ social media?

Red Carpet Stuff






The monologue & things…

For the most part I enjoyed the telecast, despite being so award fatigue by now. I have to say I was most curious to see how Chris Rock would fare as host. Well, I kind of have mixed feelings about it, though I did laugh at his no-holds-barred approach to the whole #OscarsSoWhite issue.

ChrisRockOscars

Right away he addressed the massive elephant in the room full of industry folks…

‚ÄúYou realize if they nominated hosts, I¬†wouldn‚Äôt even get this job!¬†You‚Äôd all be watching Neil Patrick Harris right now.‚Ä̬†

In response to those who called for him to quit the hosting gig…

I thought about quitting. I¬†thought about it really hard. But I realized they‚Äôre gonna have the Oscars anyway. They‚Äôre not gonna cancel the Oscars because I quit.¬†And the last thing I need is to to lose another job to Kevin Hart, okay?‚ÄĚ

He didn’t just roast The Academy¬†and Hollywood however, he took some jabs at his own Black peers which I thought was hilarious!

‚ÄúEverybody went mad [this year] ‚Ķ¬†Jada [Pinkett Smith] got mad. Jada said she‚Äôs not coming. Isn‚Äôt she on a TV show? Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna‚Äôs panties. I wasn‚Äôt invited.‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúI understand you‚Äôre mad. I‚Äôm not hating. ‚Ķ Jada‚Äôs mad her man Will [Smith] was not nominated for¬†Concussion. I get it ‚Ķ¬†It‚Äôs not fair that Will was this good and didn‚Äôt get nominated. You‚Äôre right. It‚Äôs also not fair that Will was paid $20 million for Wild Wild West, okay?‚ÄĚ

Double ouch! It didn’t stop there for Jada and Will as later on there’s a whole segment about Black History Month and it’s as if Angela Bassett was talking about¬†Will Smith, but it turns out¬†the person the Academy was honoring was Jack Black. ha!


I gotta say that the skit spoofing how hard it is for black actors to land a role in white Hollywood had me in stitches! Especially this one w/ Tracy Morgan spoofing The Danish Girl. Even Eddie Redmayne was laughing when the camera panned to him.


But the most discombobulating and cringe-worthy moment of the night goes to:

StaceyDashOscars2016
“I cannot wait to help my people out, Happy Black History Month!”

Rock introduced Stacey Dash, who’s known for her role in Clueless and is now a Fox News commentator, as the “new director” of the Academy’s “minority outreach program.”

Yes I knew about her controversial remark back in January when she declared that there should be no Black History Month or BET,¬†but somehow the joke just didn’t jibe and it seems off the mark as most people are baffled by the appearance.

So what does Rock really think about Hollywood?

‚ÄúIs Hollywood racist? You‚Äôre damn right Hollywood is racist. But it‚Äôs not the racist you‚Äôve grown accustomed to.¬†Hollywood is sorority racist. It‚Äôs like, ‚ÄėWe like you, Rhonda, but you‚Äôre not a Kappa.‚Äô‚ÄĚ

Rock certainly didn’t shy away from tackling the race issue head on, though all of this diversity stuff seems to be more about black vs white, whilst there are a slew of other races under-represented in Hollywood‚Ķ and of course it goes beyond race as women still don’t get anywhere close to the same opportunities as men.

I do hope that as much as it’s uncomfortable and perhaps annoying to some that this diversity issue keeps coming up, perhaps it’ll signal¬†change in the ‘inclusion crisis’ (which is a more accurate term to describe¬†this whole diversity issue) that¬†started long before any Oscar ballot was cast.


Now about those awards…

If all you care about is the four main categories…


Best Original & Adapted Screenplay Awards

I had put these two down as the who WILL and SHOULD win the two writing awards, so yeah I’m happy w/ the results!


Not a fan of Ryan Gosling/Russell Crowe combo, but…


Ugh, Sam Smith is singing that awful Spectre song!


Alicia Vikander won Best Supporting Actress!


First of SIX awards for ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’

Best Costume Design

///
In the end, ‘Fury Road’ won the 6 Oscars in these categories:

  1. Film Editing: Margaret Sixel
  2. Costume Design: Jenny Beavan
  3. Makeup: Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega and Damian Martin
  4. Sound Editing: Mark Mangini and David White
  5. Sound Mixing: Chris Jenkins, Gregg Rudloff and Ben Osmo
  6. Production design: Production design by Colin Gibson; set decoration by Lisa Thompson

This i09 article describes my sentiment perfectly…

i09_FuryRoad_Oscars


So… Best Cinematography went to Emmanuel Lubezki.
He’s¬†won THREE years in a row. Poor Mr. Deakins.


Best Film Editing


Best Visual Effects


Best Animated Feature


Best Supporting Actor

Ok so I was rooting for Sly Stallone to win this but I can’t really be disappointed by Rylance win though, it’s not like he didn’t deserve it.


Best Documentary Feature

It goes to AMY. I haven’t seen it yet but Asif Kapadia did the excellent doc SENNA.¬†I have only seen ONE from the five docs nominated!


AlanRickmanInMemoriam


Best Presenter Duo of the Night

Beasts of No Nation‘s Abraham Attah and Room‘s Jacob Tremblay, hands down. Both delivered Oscar-worthy performances in their own right, too!

JacobTremblayAbrahamAttah


Lady Gaga performed a powerful and emotional rendition of her Oscar-nominated song Til It Happen To You from the sexual assault documentary The Hunting Ground. It gives me goosebumps watching it and it deservedly received a standing ovation.


But WTF, it’s followed by one the most underserving¬†wins of the night, ugh!

Best Original Song


Best Director

It went to¬†Alejandro Gonz√°lez I√Ī√°rritu once again [sigh]¬†Soooo bummed for George Miller ūüė¶

THIS.


Best Actress

I thought Brie looked radiant in a blue gown last night… and she gave a gracious speech, thanking everyone from her co-star Jacob Tremblay & boyfriend Alex Greenwald to the moviegoers who saw it.


Best Actor

So¬†Leo DiCaprio finally catches a break! ūüėČ


Best Picture


My Oscar predictions tally

Well, out of the 16 categories I predicted, I got 11 right, so not bad!

Of ALL of the categories I put down for SHOULD WIN, I’m most disappointed by George Miller losing¬†and Roger Deakins losing yet again for the 13th time. Sheesh!!

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The legendary Mr. Deakins hard at work


Some of my fave gif-worthy moments of the night:

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Methinks Jacob Tremblay would like to be in the next Star Wars movie. How ’bout that Disney?

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LOVE that whole girl scout cookies thing, it always makes for some amusing gifs afterwards!

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LOVE Keaton’s performance in Spotlight, I suppose if Fury Road didn’t get it, I’m glad it went to this film!


That’s it folks, the culmination of Hollywood award season is now over‚Ķ thank goodness!


So what did you think of last night’s ceremony? Glee, gladness & gripes? Let’s hear it!

Awards Season Chat ‚Äď Musings on 2016 Golden Globes & SAG nominations

Well it’s¬†been less than 48¬†hours since the SAG and Golden Globes nominations were announced so hopefully we can still chat about them, right? We’ve got about a month until the Oscars is announced on January 14th,¬†so the awards season has officially commenced!

Golden Globes Awards

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I grabbed these list of noms from IMDb. They have a handy tab navigation on their site for each major awards, so you can check out the full list for both Golden Globes and SAG. In addition to my thoughts about the nominees‚ÄĒand of course the snubs‚ÄĒI thought I’d include my winner pick for each category, too.

BestPictures

YAY for Mad Max: Fury Road, Spotlight AND The Martian, three of my favorite films that will surely end up in my top 10 of the year. I was hoping Brooklyn and 99 Homes would be among the nominees, but at least there are acting nominations for both.

My winner pick [DRAMA]: Mad Max: Fury Road

I really think it’s a modern masterpiece, a perfect balance of action and drama, and not only did it look spectacular on the big screen, it’s also immensely rewatchable! George Miller FTW!!

My winner pick [MUSICAL/COMEDY]: The Martian

It’s immensely entertaining but also has a heart-wrenching story. It’s no doubt one of the best films from Ridley Scott, with a terrific ensemble

By the time I got to Twitter in the afternoon, people were already chiming in on their thoughts on the noms and many¬†were baffled by the inclusion of The Martian in a comedy category. But hey, considering its lighthearted tone despite the dire survival tale, not to mention those hilarious Disco music, I’m not surprised it’s categorized as a comedy. But then again, the categories made by the Hollywood Foreign Press is inherently odd anyway. I mean, I bet Christian Bale never thought he’d get TWO nominations in the musical/comedy category (the first one was for American Hustle in 2014). I haven’t seen The Big Short yet (screening is scheduled for next Tuesday!) but it certainly looks pretty funny and its director Adam McKay directed¬†Anchorman and other¬†Will Ferrell comedies.

BestDirector

Boy, it’s been ages since Ridley Scott was nominated for Best Director isn’t it? The last time was in 2008 for American Gangster. Well, I¬†was indeed a return to form for him. Speaking of a comeback, it doesn’t get more spectacular than George Miller returning to his beloved franchise Mad Max after taking a detour with family-friendly movies Babe: Pig in the City and the Happy Feet movies. Well it’s a welcome return indeed and I’m rooting for him all the way this year. I LOVE Mad Max: Fury Road and my wish is that it’d flabbergast everybody and sweep every single award! ūüėÄ

My winner pick: George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)

Ok now on to the acting nominees!

BestActress_drama

Well, first thing first, where in the heck is Charlize Theron??! Furiosa is perhaps the most bad ass female role of the year and it’s not just in terms of action but the emotional journey the character’s gone through. Her omission here is a travesty!!

Ok now that I’ve got that out of the way‚Ķ I’ve only seen¬†Larson and Ronan in Room and Brooklyn, respectively and I think both of them deserve to be nominated. But Saoirse has been such a consistently excellent performer who’s been snubbed several times before so I’m rooting for her.

My winner pick: Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn)

BestActor_drama

There seems to be a ton of snubs in the actors category. I’d have loved to see Oscar Isaac here for his performance in Ex Machina, as well as Tom Hardy in Legend. It’s a crowded category to be sure but really, no performer from Spotlight at all?? In any case, I’ve only seen two on this list, Cranston and Fassbender. Both were excellent but I’m gonna go out of a limb and pick Leo just based on what I’ve read so far about his performance.

My winner pick: Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)

BestActress_comedy

I have only seen one performance here (McCarthy, who’s so fun to watch in¬†Spy) but the same as above, based on what I’ve read, seems that Tomlin was excellent in Grandma, so I’m gonna go with her.

My winner pick: Lily Tomlin (Grandma)

BestActor_comedy

Heh,¬†I’ve also only seen one performance here as the press screening for The Big Short isn’t until next week. It still cracks me up that Bale is getting another nomination in the comedy category, who’s to say he doesn’t have comedic chops? Bale is¬†my favorite actor of the bunch but I REALLY love Matt Damon’s performance in The Martian, which¬†was hilarious as well as emotional. I never thought I’d love him playing an astronaut yet again, but this is such a¬†perfect role for him and I can’t wait to see that movie again.

My winner pick: Matt Damon (The Martian)

BestSupportingActor

YAY Mark Rylance!! ¬†I LOVE all of these picks, even though I’ve only seen 3 out of 5 performances (Rylance, Shannon & Stallone)¬†but I’ve heard so many great things about both Elba’s and Dano’s turn in the two films so I’m sure the noms are well-deserved.¬†I’m sooo torn between Shannon and Stallone, I think this is the toughest category for me to pick a winner, but in the end I go with the most emotionally-gratifying role.

My winner pick: Sylvester Stallone (Creed)

BestSupportingActress

The supporting actress category is a bit more clear cut for me. Now, I adore Helen Mirren but I actually don’t think she was THAT great in Trumbo. She is far more compelling in The Woman in Gold so SAG got it right (more on that later). I had a hunch Jane Fonda would be nominated when I saw her performance in YOUTH, it’s a brief performance (akin to Judi Dench in Shakespeare in Love) but it’s a flashy and memorable one. But this has been quite a year for Vikander, WOW, two nominations for lead in¬†Ex Machina¬†AND supporting role in¬†The Danish Girl. She¬†was largely unknown just a couple of years ago and suddenly she’s everywhere!

My winner pick: Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina)


Now, I barely watch any TV but I’m thrilled to see Outlander garnered three nominations!! I love Caitriona Balfe as Claire and Tobias Menzies who played two characters in the show, Menzies has been turning up in quite a few¬†memorable TV series (i.e. HBO’s Rome) so glad to see him getting a nom this time. I feel bad for Sam Heughan not getting a Best Actor nod, but I guess¬†not having seen the other nominees I can’t comment on whether he’s snubbed. I just think it’s great the series is getting noticed and¬†it makes the wait for season 2 even more agonizing!
Outlander_GGnoms


Screen Actors Guild Awards

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I haven’t been paying attention to SAG awards in the past few years but in many ways it’s a crucial one for actors given it’s their peers who voted for them. I’m only focusing on the FILM nominees as again, I¬†barely watch any TV.

SAG_BestEnsemble

Nice to see Straight Outta Compton on this list which sounds like a terrific ensemble cast. I think the cast for both¬†Spotlight and Trumbo¬†are terrific, but the former lingers in my mind more as they do work as a close-knit team in the film. Plus I REALLY like Liev Schreiber and given that it’s a long shot for him to get a nom (though I think he deserved it), it’d be nice to see him go up to the stage if Spotlight wins!

My winner pick: Spotlight

SAG_BestActor

I guess Redmayne’s role seems like a shoo-in for awards even from the start. I haven’t seen it yet but I don’t think it surprises anyone that he got a nom. Interesting that Fassbender is getting noms more for Steve Jobs than Macbeth, I think he’s great in both, but perhaps Jobs is stronger given the phenomenal script from Aaron Sorkin. But just like in the same category in the Golden Globes, I pick Leo given how¬†incredibly difficult the role seems to be¬†and he’s able to deliver such a convincing performance whilst¬†filming¬†under such harsh conditions.

My winner pick: Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)

SAG_BestActress

It’s a bummer to see¬†Charlize Theron being snubbed again by SAG. I’m also surprised not to see Emily Blunt’s name given how¬†critically-praised¬†Sicario was when it¬†opened.¬†I’m glad to see Helen Mirren getting a nod for Woman in Gold as she’s the only reason to see the film. Well her and Tatiana Maslany playing her younger¬†self. Hail miss Blanchett who no doubt is excellent in Carol because she’s such a consistent performer. But I have to go with¬†Ronan, who I think is poised to have a long & fruitful career just like Blanchett.

My winner pick: Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn)

SAG_BestSupActress

Heh, of ALL the terrific cast in Spotlight, the only one nominated is Rachel McAdams?? I mean, I’m all for a strong female role getting recognition but¬†she’s definitely not the best performer of the bunch. If anything, I’d rather see Kristen Stewart being nominated (I can’t believe I said that!) for¬†Clouds of Sils Maria.¬†I wasn’t fond of her before but to be fair she was indeed good in that film.

My winner pick: Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)
SAG_BestSupActor

YAY! Glad to see Rylance and Shannon getting a SAG nod in the supporting category. I’m also happy to see 9-year-old¬†Jacob Tremblay being recognized for his role in Room. There has been some young thespians amongst award nominees before, and he’s certainly the most memorable young performer of the year for me.

Again, I’m bummed Tom Hardy is coming up empty in a year where he’s delivered such strong performances in a few movies. I’m also surprised Benicio Del Toro isn’t on the list, I’ve read a bunch of reviews praising his performance in Sicario.

Well, since I picked Stallone in the same category for GG noms, I’m going to go with Shannon who’s just oh-so-great in 99 Homes. If only the film gets more recognition.

My winner pick: Michael Shannon (99 Homes)


Most eggregrious snubs

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Yes I know there are others but in my opinion, this is the ones that riled me up the most. Charlize Theron for Mad Max Fury Road and Tom Hardy in a dual role Legend (or in The Revenant which I read was also excellent) deserve every nominations there is for the year. Both of them are my top pick of 2015 MVPs so it stings to see both of them coming up empty in both Golden Globes AND SAG awards, ugh!


So what are your thoughts on the Golden Globes & SAG nominees? Who do you think are snubbed and who are you rooting for?

Five new-to-me actors I’d love to see more of – based on 2015 viewings

I saw this list on Variety on 10 Actors To Watch in 2015 and I realized I dropped the ball on this Actor Discoveries post last year. I mentioned in the first post back in 2012 that one of the joys of watching movies is discovering new talents. I planned on making this post an annual thing but alas, the last time I did this post was in 2013.

On that list, I included¬†Lake Bell, Daniel Br√ľhl, Riz Ahmed, Andrea Riseborough and David Oyelowo. Since¬†then, most of them have been getting more prominent roles, with the exception of Riseborough which I think is so criminally under-utilized.¬†Since I didn’t make a list last year, certainly Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Sam Reid would’ve made my 2014 shortlist.

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So, based¬†on this year’s¬†viewings (not exclusive to movies released last year) , here are five new-to-me actors I’d like to see working more in Hollywood.

[In alphabetical order]

Carmen Ejogo

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The Oscars not only dropped the ball on several counts when it comes to SELMA last year. Much was made about the omission of Ava DuVernay and David Oyelowo from the nomination list, but I think Carmen Ejogo was equally deserving to be amongst the Best Supporting Actress nominees.

Like his co-star, she’s from the UK¬†but she effortlessly portrayed an American. She’s been working in a variety of TV and film, so I feel kinda bad that I hadn’t seen her until this year. There’s a certain elegance and tortured soul about her that makes her so intriguing to watch.¬†I’m hoping¬†her career would benefit from the Oscar buzz and that she’d be getting more and more prominent roles.

What’s Next: Jazz biopic Born to Be Blue with Ethan Hawke

Jack Huston

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I noticed Jack Huston when I saw American Hustle, but it wasn’t until Night Train in Lisbon that I¬†became a fan. Huston has quite a Hollywood pedigree, being the grandson of famed filmmaker John Huston and nephew of Anjelica Huston. But the 32-year-old Londoner is a talented actor in his own right.

I like that he has one of those *ethnically hard to pin down* look about him that makes him suitable to play different kinds of ethnicity. In Night¬†Train to Lisbon he played a Portuguese doctor and an American mobster in American Hustle. As many actors who grew up in the UK, he’s got a knack for accents which makes him even more versatile. I wasn’t thrilled at all when they announced they’re remaking Ben-Hur, but since they cast Huston in the titular role, I’m actually intrigued! I’d love to see more of him in a variety of roles, as he’s far more interesting to watch than a lot of Hollywood A-listers working today.

What’s Next: Pride & Prejudice & Zombies (as Mr. Wickham) and the Ben-Hur remake

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Rebecca Ferguson

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My friend Ashley had told me about the Starz’s miniseries The White Queen a while back, but I haven’t got around to seeing it. Well, it’s on the top of my Amazon Prime queue now after I saw Rebecca in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. I really couldn’t shut up about how impressed I was with her in that role. It was surely a kick-ass performance but she didn’t just¬†pull off the physicality of the role, but she elevates the role into so much more. She’s equally as intriguing as Tom Cruise if not more so, and no doubt she’s the most memorable part about that film.

As I’ve blogged about here, I’m thrilled to see her cast in The Girl on the Train and I’m glad she didn’t end up becoming Channing Tatum’s love interest in Gambit. She’s so much more interesting to be pigeonholed into action roles, and so I hope Hollywood realizes that.

What’s Next: She’ll be in the upcoming espionage drama Despite The Falling Snow.¬†She’ll be starring with Sam Reid, wahoo!!
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Sarah Snook

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Sometimes it only takes a single film for you to become an instant fan of a performer. That’s the case with Sarah Snook, who single-handedly stole the time travel sci-fi film Predestination with her outstanding performance.

As I mentioned in my review, it was a revelatory performance from the Aussie actress whose educated at National Institute of Dramatic Art in Sydney. 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.

What’s Next: She has a small role in the Aussie-set drama starring Kate Winslet, The Dressmaker. She’s also in the Steve Jobs film with Michael Fassbender. I hope she lands a leading role soon, she deserves it!
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Stanley Weber

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Well I think this one doesn’t need much introduction if you’ve been reading my blog this year. I have mentioned him practically every week since I discovered him on April 5 in the Scottish rom-com Not Another Happy Ending (yes I even remembered the date!). It’s one of those spellbound moments that doesn’t happen very often, but once it did, well, it’s REALLY hard to snap out of it ūüėõ

I’ve posted a full tribute for him here that list five of my favorite roles of his so far. It takes more than a pretty face for me to be obsessed with someone, and Stanley certainly is a dedicated actor who can handle stage, TV AND film roles, in fact that’s what he’s juggling this year alone. I LOVE actors who loves to mix things up and not afraid to look unglamorous for a role. It’d be tough to make this Frenchman look ugly though, I mean he’s still so beautiful even with THIS haircut for his upcoming role as a Jesuit priest in Pilgrimage.

What’s Next: I can’t freakin’ wait to see Stanley in STARZ’s Outlander season 2, the adventure drama Pilgrimage, and the French WWII drama¬†L‚Äôorigine de la violence. Hopefully all of them will be out next year!!
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Honorable Mentions:

I hadn’t heard of any of these five impressive performers prior to 2015, but I’m glad I saw them and I hope they continue to find prominent roles in Hollywood.

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Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina)

The Swedish actress seems to have had quite an astronomical rise to stardom in Hollywood.¬†She had been working in her native country until about 2012 when she was cast with Mads Mikkelsen in A Royal Affair.¬†I didn’t see Anna Karenina until earlier this year on the plane, in which she had a small role, but it wasn’t until Ex Machina that I really took notice of her. She has this delicate physique¬†but a formidable screen charisma that makes her so lovely to watch. It’s no surprise she is one busy girl, with three more films scheduled to open later this year, as well as the untitled Bourne film with Matt Damon next year.

Grigoriy Dobrygin (A Most Wanted Man)

As I was watching the John le Carr√© spy drama, one of the performances that intrigued me was by the actor who portrayed the mysterious Issa Karpov. I found out later that Dobrygin is a Russian actor who’s a classically-trained ballet dancer. He apparently won a Silver Bear award for Best Actor at Berlin Film Festival for Russian film How I Ended This Summer.

I definitely would love to see more of him in Hollywood, hopefully he will continue acting and not go back to go back to ballet. Per The Guardian, he has just finished on Susanna White’s Our Kind of Traitor, with Ewan McGregor, Damian Lewis and Naomie Harris.

Karidja Touré (Girlhood)

Another French actor who caught my eye and this was her feature film debut! The 21-year-old has that undeniable charm and screen presence on top of her acting talent. Her parents are from the Ivory Coast but she was born in France and grew up in Paris. I hope she’d get the same opportunities as fellow French actor from north African origin, Omar Sy, who had a breakout role in The Intouchables. He’s gone to big budget route such as Jurassic World, but I’d like to see Tour√© in smaller films that would offer her a chance to show what she’s capable of.

Maika Monroe (The Guest)

The Guest feature two awesome performances from relative newcomers. I’m already familiar with Dan Stevens from his period drama days in the UK, though most Americans probably saw him here for the first time. I hadn’t seen Monroe before however, and right away I thought she has an uncanny resemblance to Gwen Stefani. She also has that cool factor, that effortless swagger of a rock star that makes her fun to watch. She’s also in the buzzed-about horror flick It Follows, so I think the 22-year-old Californian has a long career ahead of her.

Taron Egerton (Kingsman)

Speaking of swagger, there’s plenty of that to be found on the 25-year-old Welsh native. There’s a devil-may-care attitude in him that I find endearing, which reminds me a bit of Tom Hardy when I first saw him on screen. I haven’t seen him in a serious drama yet so I’m curious to see how he fares in that. Hollywood’s certainly taken notice of him, as he’s been cast as the Robin Hood reboot. We’ll also see him along with Hardy in LEGEND later this year.

Matthias Schoenaerts (Far from the Madding Crowd)

The Belgian actor has been working pretty steadily since the early 2000s but for some reason I just never got around to seeing any of his films until earlier this year. I have to admit I wasn’t expecting him in the role of Gabriel Oak, a classic romantic hero in Victorian England, but he won me over with his sensitive portrayal.¬†He‚Äôs all doe-eyed with a hint of smolder‚Ķ not the steamy kind of smolder,¬†but one infused with such sincerity that makes it easy to root for him. I said in my review that he reminds me a bit of Viggo Mortensen, and that’s a good thing. Curious to see what role he’d tackle next, but I probably should go back and check out his older films.


Thoughts on any of these actors? Are you a fan of their work?

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FlixChatter Review: The Man from U.N.C.L.E (2015)

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I saw this at a very early press screening three weeks ago but there was an embargo to even tweet about it. By now I could barely remember much about¬†Guy Ritchie’s¬†movie,¬†but if I were to describe it in one word, it’d be frothy. Just like Mission Impossible, this movie is based on a 1960s TV series of the same name. I actually never watched it, but basically U.N.C.L.E. is an international counter espionage agency, and the acronym stands for¬†United Network Command for Law and Enforcement.

Ritchie certainly got the retro look right for The Man from U.N.C.L.E., just as he did with Sherlock Holmes‘ Victorian London in the 1800s. In fact, the style is the only thing going for this movie¬†‚Äď from the exotic Mediterranian locales¬†to¬†the extremely good looking actors wearing those stunning¬†60s clothing. Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer play enemies-cum-partners, CIA agent Napoleon Solo and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin, respectively. They reluctantly have to work together on a mission against a mysterious criminal organization. It’s set during the Cold War so naturally the [clich√©d] plot has to involve nuclear weapons proliferation. It only seems alarming on paper but given the humorous tone of the movie, you’re not supposed to take any of it seriously. The movie has a deliberate Bond vibe but perhaps more in line with the mischievous spirit of Roger Moore’s era.

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Ritchie has experience with bromances, pretty much every film he’s done from¬†Lock, Stock and Two Smoking¬†Barrels, Rocknrolla to his latest¬†Sherlock Holmes with¬†Jude Law & Robert Downey Jr. has bromance elements. I think Hammer and Cavill have a decent chemistry, though not as effortless as Law and RDJ, and neither has quite the star power. As much as the two¬†male mannequins are gorgeous to look at,¬†unfortunately they’re as bland as a Minnesota hot dish. [Actually, it’d be an insult to my home state’s cuisine as I actually think tater tot hot dish is pretty tasty!]. I suppose there’s not much the actors can do when their characters are only as deep as a cardboard cutout. They give each of them a backstory of sort, i.e.¬†Solo was a criminal before he was a spy, but still the characters are¬†pretty much one dimensional.

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Ritchie assembled an International cast for this movie¬†which¬†results in an amusing hodgepodge of accents.¬†We’ve got a Brit playing American (Cavill), an American playing Russian (Hammer), a Swede playing German (Alicia Vikander) and an Aussie playing Italian (Elizabeth Debicki). Not to mention¬†Irish actor Jared Harris (son of the late Richard Harris) doing his best Texan drawl as Cavill’s CIA boss. Overall the actors did okay with the accents, though¬†Hammer’s Russian accent¬†is quite¬†hilarious and rather distracting. I guess I find Russian accent even coming from Russian actors as¬†amusing¬†because it¬†always sounds so exaggerated. Thankfully Hugh Grant as the leader of U.N.C.L.E. sticks with his own British accent.

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I really want to love this movie and I have to admit there are some fun moments and the setting and costumes are fun to look at. But overall, no matter how pretty the package is,¬†it can’t really fix a hollow story. I think Ritchie aims for¬†cool escapism from the dreaded Summer heat, but really, it wouldn’t hurt to inject just a teeny bit of substance into the whole¬†glamorous¬†affair.¬†It¬†feels like¬†watching a two-hour retro fashion commercial, with ocassional gadgetry and gun play that never feels even the least bit threatening. The quota of beautiful people is off the charts, even David Beckham has a cameo and we’ve got Italian model¬†Luca Calvani as Debicki’s sidekick.

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I was impressed with Debicki in The Great Gatsby but she’s barely given anything to do here, I think Vikander’s character fares a bit better but barely scratching the surface of her talent considering what she could do in Ex Machina.¬†I have to mention that even though Cavill is a beautiful man built like a Greek god [I mean he IS Superman], I find him lacking in virility on screen. He doesn’t quite have that sparkle in his eye that make him belieavable as a ladiesman,¬†to me anyway, I have a feeling a lot of ladies would disagree.

One thing I find distracting is the music that’s overused or used in an overblown way that it becomes a sensory overload with all the frenetic CGI action. There is one particularly funny scene when Solo nonchallantly¬†watches Kuryakin fights for his life in a speedboat chase whilst he snack on a sandwich he found on a parked truck. But for the most part,¬†all the¬†action is forgettable as you could barely invest in the story. I’m not saying¬†The Man from U.N.C.L.E.¬†is a bad movie, but it’s the quintessential style over substance. There’s a¬†not-so-subtle hint of a sequel at the end but¬†I don’t think there’s enough going for it even for a single movie.

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Have you seen Man from U.N.C.L.E? Well, what did YOU think?