Weekend Viewing Roundup & Musings on BAFTA Awards 2014

Hi everyone! Did you have a nice weekend? It’s another long weekend for me as I got Monday off for President’s Day. It couldn’t have come at a more perfect time as Winter storm is brewing as I’m typing this, glad I didn’t have to drive in this Wintry condition.

Before I get to my thoughts on BAFTA, here’s a summary of what I saw this weekend:

How’s your Valentine weekend? Hope you didn’t have to endure see Winter’s Tale. If you’ve read my review, then consider it a warning. I know it’s early, but it could easily end up being one of the biggest duds of 2014.

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On V-day, my hubby and I opted for a simple dinner and a movie, home cinema to be exact. I’ve been wanting to re-watch Austenland since I saw it last August and so that’s what we did. I still enjoyed it and my hubby liked it, too, there’s a reason I love my man 😉

On Saturday night, we went to see RoboCop, a second time for my hubby as he went with Ted last Monday. He liked it well enough he didn’t mind seeing it again with me. Y’know what, I quite enjoyed it. It’s not as violent as the first one, and it’s not an all-out action movie either. In fact, there’s quite a lot of backstory for the character that made me care about the ‘man inside a machine.’ There’s a lot of heart in this reboot, the humanity aspect as well as his relationship with his family is explored quite well I think. Joel Kinnaman is pretty good in the lead role in that he’s got a commanding presence and effortlessly likable. I might actually give this 3.5/5 if I were to review it, and I agree with Ted that Gary Oldman is my favorite performer in the ensemble, he just always elevates everything he’s in.

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I completely missed seeing this LIVE yesterday. I was out and about that by the time I realized BAFTA’s on, it’s already too late. So this morning I was playing catch up on the winners via The Guardian. Let’s start with the acting honors:

Best Actor: Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Best Actress: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Best Supporting Actor: Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle

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Thrilled to see Chiwetel Ejiofor and Cate Blanchett in the Best Leading Actor/Actress category. Both did a superb performance in 12 Years a Slave and Blue Jasmine respectively. I had been rooting for Sandra Bullock before I saw the Woody Allen film, but once I saw Cate’s performance, there’s no doubt in my mind that she should be sweeping all the awards. Classy Cate paid a tribute to Philip Seymour Hoffman … “Phil, your monumental talent, generosity and unflinching quest for truth in art and life will be missed by so many people. You raised the bar continually so very, very high and all we can do in your absence is try to continually raise the bar. Phil, buddy, this is for you, you bastard. I hope you’re proud.” [per Deadline] We truly missed a great talent, but it really took one to know one.

Congrats to Barkhad Abdi, what a year it’s been for the former Minneapolis limo driver! Though I think he did a fine job opposite Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips, I had wished that Daniel Brühl would get the honor. Same with Sally Hawkins who should win instead of Jennifer Lawrence who’s absent from the festivities. I’m more disappointed in that than Brühl not winning. I’m REALLY hoping the Academy does right by Hawkins and give her the well-deserved honor.

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Oh… one of my top 3 favorite British Dames Helen Mirren was honored the BAFTA Fellowship Award, yay!! I LOVE that Prince William joked that he should call her ‘Granny,’ referring to her award-winning portrayal in The Queen. I read about her charming speech in that she offered her gratitude to a great teacher who encouraged her to be an actor.

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Now to the question of Best Film of the Year.

Best Film: 12 Years a Slave
Best Director: Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
Best British Film: Gravity

Seems that there still is no clear winner and come Oscar I think it’ll still come down to a thriller set in space and a slavery drama. Interesting that there’s a Best Film and Best British Film category, which went to 12 Years a Slave and Gravity respectively. As quoted by Deadline, Alfonso Cuarón said backstage that, “There are rules that make a film eligible for Best British Film. Gravity definitely has all the requirements, except a couple of Mexicans that came here — legally! — and a couple of American stars. It was shot in this country, developed in this country, and with cutting-edge technology developed by British artists.” I have no qualms about the eligibility stuff, obviously the BAFTA deems it eligible and that’s that. Gravity deserves all the kudos, it won six out of the possible 11 noms, including Best Original Score, Cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezki), Visual Effects, Sound AND Best Director honor for Alfonso Cuarón. It’s my number 1 film of the year so I’d be happy if it sweeps the Oscars as well!  

Other BAFTA winners I’m thrilled about: 

Best Documentary: The Act of Killing
Best Animated Film: Frozen
Best Production Design The Great Gatsby
Best Costumes: The Great Gatsby

BAFTA_JoshuaOppenheimerHuge congrats to Joshua Oppenheimer for winning Best Documentary!! It’s the only documentary that I included in my Top 10 films of the year, and Joshua was gracious enough to grant me an interview. I told him I would be rooting for him come award season, so I’m super thrilled that he’s also up for an Oscar! I love that he dedicated his award to his anonymous crew, “I dedicate this award to them. This film couldn’t be made without people who risked their safety and changed their careers to work on it. Professors, human rights leaders. … They stopped everything they were doing to work on the film, knowing they couldn’t take credit for their work.”  [per Deadline]

Yay for FROZEN, another one of my Top 10 favorites! It’s no contest they will win Best Animated Film at the Oscar, it’s a shoo-in at this point. The production design and costumes of The Great Gatsby are definitely the major highlights of the film so kudos to Catherine Martin! Seems that she’s gotten far more honors in her husband Baz Luhrmann‘s films than Baz himself.

So this is the last major award ceremony before the Oscars on March 2nd. BRING. IT. ON!


So what did you see this weekend? Thoughts on the BAFTA winners?

[Wintry] Weekend Roundup: House of Cards and All About Eve

BaftaStatuetteHello everyone! Happy post-BAFTA Monday, fellow film fans. I’ve only followed it somewhat via Twitter, seeing people’s reactions on the winners. What’s with the hate against ARGO, I think it deserved the Best Film and Best Director win for Ben Affleck. In fact, it’s perhaps one of my favorite Best Picture contenders, but I remember people were grumbling too when The King’s Speech won. Ah well, I don’t always agree with the winners so it’s nice to be on the other side of that spectrum.

Well, we’ve got sleet/freezing rain/snow mix all day Sunday so I never left the house, which rarely happens. To all my friends in the Northeast affected by the monster storm Nemo, I pray that you’re all ok. I’m not gonna complain that we barely half a foot of snow!

I skipped the cinema again as nothing interest me. I had seen Side Effects a couple of weeks ago so check out my review if you haven’t already. Oh apparently Top Gun IMAX 3D re-release still spells ‘ka-ching’ for Paramount as it raked in $1.9 mil this weekend playing in 300 theaters. I wouldn’t mind rewatching that again on Blu-ray, I’ll see if my pal Ted has the BD 😉

So my weekend viewings consist of a brand new made-for-Netflix show House of Cards, a masterpiece classic All About Eve, and Bel Ami, which was so inferior compared to the other two. I don’t even feel like reviewing that last one. Right after I finished it, I couldn’t help but watch the last episode of North & South just to see this scene. Richard Armitage as John Thornton never fails to beguile me and erase my memory of Robert Pattinson as a cunning Frenchman.

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I’ve only seen two episodes in and both are directed by David Fincher so naturally I expect something great. Well, thankfully it didn’t disappoint. Fincher’s directing style with his signature camera work and framing technique works well for this story. It made me wish he had directed the entire episodes though I reserve judgment until I see the entire first season. Kevin Spacey is perfectly cast Frank Underwood, a ruthless and ambitious politician (is there any other kind?) willing to use and betray anyone to get what he wants in Washington. I’m usually not into political shows, but this one is quite entertaining. Spacey’s got this inherent playfulness in portraying a despicable character, you’re repulsed and captivated by him at the same time.

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I just read this interview on Hitfix with Fincher on how the show came about, which was inspired by an early 90s UK TV series of the same name. It’s fascinating to see the casting process as well…

“…One of the responsibilities I put on the cast when we had our first read through is I said, “I want everybody here to know that you represent our first choice – each actor here represents our first choice for these characters. So do not f*** this up.”

The ‘breaking the fourth wall’ style where the character speaks directly at the audience is tricky, but I think it works well here, or at least the filmmaker and actor makes it work. Only Spacey’s character uses this technique though, it gives the feeling that we’re in on it on all of Frank’s schemes. I’m also impressed with the rest of the key players on the show: Robin Wright as Spacey’s equally sly wife, Kate Mara as the ambitious young reporter, and Corey Stoll as a Pennsylvania congressman consumed by his own demons of sex and drug addiction.
I hope the rest of the episodes are as intriguing as the first two, but my hubby and I are definitely hooked for more.
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All About Eve (1950)

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I’m sooo glad I finally saw this film, special thanks to my friend Vince for his help to get this movie! I initially wanted to see this as I’m participating in Paula and Aurora‘s 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon and I’m going to be featuring the famed costume designer Edith Head. So naturally I want to see some of her Oscar-winning work, and I’ve been wanting to see this one for ages. I also promised Andrew when he made this excellent Scene on a Sunday post on All About Eve over a year ago. It’s a bit late, sorry Andrew, but hey I did get to see it on a Sunday 🙂

This film was nominated for 14 Academy Awards and won six, including Best Picture. As of today, it remains as the only film in Oscar history to receive four female acting nominations (Bette Davis and Ann Baxter as Best Actress, Celeste Holm and Thelma Ritter as Best Supporting Actress). It’s worth noting that out of the four actresses, I’ve only seen Baxter and Holmes in a previous film, thanks to my Gregory Peck marathon. Same with the two male actors Gary Merill and Hugh Marlowe who were excellent in Twelve O’Clock High. George Sanders was excellent as well as the mischievous theater critic.

Andrew said it best on Twitter last night… “… imagine it’s more than half a century old. It’s so (sometimes startlingly) relevant and fresh.” Indeed it was! In fact I was thinking that there are some similarities between House of Cards‘ Frank and Eve Harrington, different end goal but they both used the same conniving, manipulative means to get what they want.

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Andrew also asked me which one is my favorite performance. Oh boy, between Davis, Baxter and Holmes, it’s really hard to say. Having seen Bette Davis’ performance for the first time, I was quite mesmerized by her. Baxter perhaps has the hardest role to convincingly portray an innocent small town ingenue to a devious, scheming b*tch climbing her way to the top. At times her delivery is a bit too over the top When she was wearing a black wig in her dressing room following a performance, I was reminded of her seductive pur in The Ten Commandments as she was trying to seduce Moses, ahah. I guess I like Holmes’ character the most because she’s kindhearted and sees the good in people. She’s a fantastic actress and her scene with Baxter in the powder room is especially memorable. Oh, there was also a brief but interesting cameo of a then unknown starlet by the name of Marilyn Monroe as an aspiring actres, but it was kind of a thankless role for her.

There are much to admire about this film… starting with the bewitching story, brought to life by all the talents involved. What this film also has in abundance is style. Visually, its set direction, cinematography, and of course costume design are superb. The brilliant script also makes this film surprisingly funny. Davis’ Margo Channing not only dresses well, but she seems to have an endless supply of great lines as well. She seems to have the best lines when she’s vexed… “I’ll admit I may have seen better days, but I’m still not to be had for the price of a cocktail like a salted peanut.” And of course her most famous line “Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night” is delivered with such a perfect sense of irony.

I feel like I can’t do it justice reviewing this film in my weekend roundup post, so let me just say that the iconic status is absolutely well-deserved. Joseph Leo Mankiewicz‘s film lives up to my already high expectations and captivated me from start to finish. Like Casablanca, I’m glad I finally saw one of Hollywood’s finest, and certainly it wouldn’t be the last.

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Well, that’s my Wintry weekend roundup. How ’bout you folks… seen anything good?

Casting and Miscellaneous Flix News (Brits Edition)

I haven’t done a miscellaneous flix news post in a while, but this week I want to share a few things from the past few days. It’s a Brits edition in honor of the BAFTA Awards this past Sunday.

First, congratulations to all the BAFTA winners (see the full list here)! The British Academy of Film & Television Arts celebrated the 2011 event on Feb. 13 at the Royal Opera House in London’s Covent Garden. Boy, what I would give to be a fly on the wall in that event, what with all my fave British actors in attendance!

Colin Firth won Best Actor award for The King’s Speech yet again. Wow, it’s got to be challenging for him to keep coming up with another thank you speech for one award after another. The real King George VI would have a real predicament having to give such a speech all over the world 🙂 But y’know what, Firth seems genuinely thankful and humbled by it, so really, it couldn’t have happened to a nicer fellow. Also glad to see Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter collecting awards for their supporting performances.

Oh, and congrats to Tom Hardy as well for winning The Orange Wednesdays Rising Star Award! He beat out fellow nominees including Aaron Johnson, Andrew Garfield, Gemma Arterton, and Emma Stone. I’m totally happy for him, though I’d be equally pleased if it had gone to Aaron or Andrew, as all three of those young Brits are in my Five Notable Breakout 2011 Performances list. It’s also interesting that Andrew and Emma are starring together in the Spiderman reboot, which is now called The Amazing Spiderman.


Now on to some recent casting news!

  • On a related Colin Firth news, thanks to Dezzy @ Hollywood Spy, the British thespian has reportedly joined Korean director Park Chan-wook’s English-language debut Stoker. It also escaped me that former Prison Break star Wentworth Miller is actually a screenwriter who’ll be penning the script. Here’s additional plot details per FirstShowing: the film is a family mystery-drama about a moody teenager whose mysterious uncle (Firth) comes back into her family’s lives after the death of her father. Fellow Oscar nominee Nicole Kidman also joined the previously-cast Mia Wasikowska who’ll play Kidman’s daughter.
  • Speaking of BAFTA winners, previous Best Supporting Actor winner Ralph Fiennes was in Berlin yesterday promoting his debut film Coriolanus. Also on hand at Berlinale Film Festival were cast members Vanessa Redgrave, Gerard Butler, Jessica Chastain, and screenwriter John Logan.
     

    Photo courtesy of JustJarred.com

    Check out the latest stills from the film I posted last week. From what I’ve been reading of late, the film received a standing ovation at Berlinale, and I’m hoping it’d win Berlinale’s The Golden Bear for Best Picture! Some of the screening reviews have trickled in, and Obsessed With Film gave it a full 5 stars, praising Fiennes’ direction and the use of Shakespearean dialog in modern setting, “Treating Shakespeare as if it were normal speech makes it far more accessible than when actors take the more stagey thespian route.” Oh, another great, four-star review from The Guardian has just arrived, saying that Fiennes’ debut is a triumph! Man, I absolutely can’t wait to see the trailer! The release date on IMDb says the release date for the US is November 2011, and it looks like the Weinstein’s already prepping this for his 2012 awards campaign.

  • So what’s next for Butler? Well, aside from the two movies he’s got in the can (Machine Gun Preacher, Coriolanus and the Farrelly Brothers’ ensemble comedy Movie 43) he’s recently signed on to star in Mavericks, a surfing movie with director Curtis Hanson. Per Deadline, the film is based on the true story of Santa Cruz surf phenom Jay Moriarity and his quest to ride the treacherous Northern California breaks known as ‘Mavericks.’ Though Moriarity survived those impossible waves, he died at 22 in a diving accident. But he remains an inspiration to surfers, who coined the phrase “Live like Jay.” Butler, who also serves as executive producer) will play Rick “Frosty” Hesson, the mentor who trained Moriarity for over a year and forged a close relationship with the surfer in the process. I really respect Hanson as a filmmaker as L.A. Confidential is one of my favorite films. The role of Jay has not yet been cast. Based on Moriarty’s obituary (via SlashFilm), his life story is certainly worth telling on the big screen.

    Mavericks is the second sports-related movie Butler will be doing back to back. He’s also starring in Gabriele Muccino’s soccer flick that I first talked about here. It has since been titled Playing the Field, which centers on a former professional athlete with a weak past tries to redeem himself by coaching his son’s soccer team, only to find himself unable to resist when in scoring position with his players’ restless and gorgeous moms (plot per IMDb). No other cast member has been announced yet.
  • Looks like Mr. Ridley Scott’s been reading my Hollywood Fantasy Draft 😀 Well you probably know I cast Charlize Theron and Michael Fassbender in a romance mystery, but Mr. Scott has now cast both of them in his sci-fi adventure Prometheus, which was originally proposed to be a prequel to the Alien films. Per Filmonic.com, Theron apparently turned down the role in Clint Eastwood’s J Edgar (about the famed FBI director J Edgar Hoover) opposite Leonardo DiCaprio, and opted to take this one instead. Well if I had to choose, I’d rather star alongside Fassbender myself personally 😉
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  • Last but not least, I’m quite excited of this latest development of The Dark Knight Rises. I’ve been kind of blase about the previous casting news for the movie, I mean I’d still be seeing the film in the theater of course, I just don’t want to get caught up in the endless newsflash coming every week. But I’ve been hoping for Marion to be cast as Catwoman as far back as Sept 2009, alas Nolan offered it to Anne Hathaway.

    But now it looks like Cottilard has indeed signed on. FirstShowing reported that the original French article that broke the news basically said that Cotillard, now pregnant with French actor Guillaume Canet’s baby, was only going to shoot one movie this year and decided that it would be The Dark Knight Rises for Chris Nolan. Rumor has it she could possibly be playing Talia al Ghul, the daughter of Ra’s al Ghul’s who was played by Liam Neeson in Batman Begins. I certainly hope that is true. I think there’s a lot of potential for an intriguing conflict with that storyline, as well as a possible forbidden romance? Oooh, juicy! 😀

Well, any thoughts on any of these newsflash? Or if you have a movie news you’re excited about, please do share in the comments!