Scene spotlight: INCEPTION – ‘You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger darling’

Hi everyone! My blogging break has been longer than expected, but for some reason I haven’t got the energy to write reviews. I actually tried to write my review of Doctor Strange and Jack Reacher yesterday but never finished it. I guess my heart just wasn’t in it lately… I’ve been focusing on other things [read: my screenplay and the dream of turning it into a feature film]

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image via WeHeartIt


Thinking about dreaming big… somehow Tom Hardy‘s Eames quote from Inception is one that keeps coming to mind. Hardy is the absolute scene stealer here, his charisma eclipse everyone here including Leo DiCaprio himself. It’s a memorable little scene that’s said in a tongue-in-cheek way, it really has nothing to do with anything philosophical at all. Yet that line, and the way Hardy’s gorgeous voice saying it, resonated with me and in a strange way, inspires me. It’d look good as a framed quote too!


It’s been ages sinceI watched Inception, I should rewatch it again soon as I’ve got the Bluray. Now if only I could enlist Dom Cobb & co. to help plant an idea on some studio executives that my script is worth investing on, ha! Interesting too that Christopher Nolan based the roles of the Inception team similar to those used in filmmaking – Cobb is the director, Arthur is the producer, Ariadne is the production designer, Eames is the actor, Saito is the studio, and Fischer is the audience. What a troupe of actors to portray a perfect team for the perfect heist. The grand scale of idea for this film is mind-boggling… it’s just a phenomenally-written script that’s executed so well.

 


Thoughts on this Inception scene? Feel free to share a scene that’s inspired you recently.

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

Oscars2016

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


Fury Road
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.

CInderellaCostumes

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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

war_rig_FuryRoad

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?

2016 Oscar Nominations: The Good, the Bad and the WTF

Normally I’m excited for Oscar nominations, but this year it was overshadowed by a couple of things that happen around the same time. Just before I went to bed last night I heard news of terrorist attacks in my homeland Jakarta in multiple locations. One of the first bombs that went off was so close to my two nieces’ schools!! I immediately texted my brother and he was right in the middle of picking up his three girls from two different schools. Thank God they’re ok. It’s truly a scary world we live in.

And then of course in the morning I heard of the passing of one of my all time favorite actor Alan Rickman 😦 My heart is heavy. I shall do a tribute for Mr. Rickman this weekend.

Ok, well I suppose life must go on. So here’s my thoughts on this year’s Academy Awards nominations…

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Same like last year, I didn’t make a post of my nomination predictions this year, I only tweeted who’d be nominated for Best Picture and a few other categories. Well, I guessed correctly that it’d be 8 nominations, but apparently I got two wrong, but the two films that did get in were two I really like.

So instead of Carol and Anomalisa, Brooklyn (which was in my top 3 of the year!) and Bridge of Spies (which is in my top 20) were nominated.

Anyhoo, at 5:30 PCT, actor John Krasinski, Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, and filmmakers Guillermo del Toro and Ang Lee revealed the nominees. View complete nominees list here.

Let’s start with the positive …

The Good

• YES, prayer answered!! Thrilled to see Mad Max: Fury Road nearly swept the Oscars with 10 nominations! I love hearing its name mentioned over and over as I was listening to it this morning [happy dance] 2 nominations short compared to The Revenant… and both starred Tom Hardy! 😀

• Happy to see George Miller amongst Best Director nod, yes!!!!

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• Speaking of the British hottie – YAY for Tom Hardy getting an acting nomination for Best Supporting Actor in The Revenant, woo hoo!!

• YAY for Spotlight! My #2 film of the year will probably be the biggest competition to The Revenant this year.

Nice seeing Batman and Bane both getting nominations 😉 Their roles couldn’t be more different, and their names were announced one after another this morning, too!

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Bale in The Big Short and Hardy in The Revenant

Both Christian Bale & Tom Hardy are the best actors of their generation, they’re such chameleons who look so different from film to film.

• YAY for Saoirse Ronan amongst the Best Actress nominees! I’m rooting for her even though I think it’s going to be down to Cate Blanchett vs Brie Larson this year.

• YAY for Sly Stallone too!

Creed_SlyStallone

I had mentioned in my Creed review that it’d be interesting (and awesome!) if he did end up being nominated for an Oscar, as he did in 1976 for the first Rocky film. I’d think would mark some kind of record that the same actor is nominated twice playing the exact same role.

• Congrats Leo!! I surely believe this is his year. I mean, The Revenant swept the Oscars with 12 nominations and the Best Actor race is arguably not as strong as in previous years and amongst Cranston, Damon, Fassbender and Redmayne, I think DiCaprio is the frontrunner and if I were a betting woman, I’d put my money on him.

• Now, if you think Leo is the Susan Lucci of the Oscars, heh he’s got nothing on Roger Deakins! He’s been nominated 13 times, and every single one has been amazing too which adds even more insult to injury! Cinematography golden boy Emmanuel Lubezki’s nominated again and considered the frontrunner, but he’s got TWO Oscars in the bag two years in a row. Come on Academy, stop yanking Mr. Deakins’ chain and get him his overdue Oscar!

• The only one I haven’t seen out of this list is Straight Outta Compton. YAY for Ex Machina and Spotlight, quite surprised to see Inside Out and Bridge of Spies here, but both are very good films.

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• This is perhaps the rare year where I’ve seen ALL of the supporting actor nominees and  I agree with ALL of the Best Supporting Actor nominations. It’s a pleasant surprise to see an acting nominee from Spotlight, and Mark Ruffalo did get one of the showiest roles in the ensemble.

• I’m glad to see Cartel Land and The Look of Silence shortlisted in the Best Documentary category ! Now I haven’t seen the other four that are nominated so I can’t say who’s most deserving, but what Joshua Oppenheimer did with The Act of Killing was astounding, so no doubt he did an equally brilliant job with its follow-up doc.

DocNominations
• Lots of GREAT composers amongst the Best Score nominees, wow! I mean Ennio Morricone and John Williams are practically legends. Now, Mr. Morricone is yet another ‘always a bridesmaid, never a bride’ nominee with 5 previous nominations, let’s hope this is his year also!

The Bad

• Well, I think the hashtag #OscarSoWhite will be trending again this year [shrug].

Here’s what the 20 acting nominees look like this year:


Another bad year for diversity. Just like last year, NONE of the acting nominees consist of an actor/actress of color 😦

My daily industry news reading led me to this reaction post by Variety:

But the most disappointing outcome is that, for the second consecutive year, all 20 of the acting nominees are white. No Michael B. Jordan or Tessa Thompson for “Creed”? No Idris Elba or Abraham Attah for “Beasts of No Nation”? No Will Smith for “Concussion”? And despite a best picture nomination, the cast of “Straight Outta Compton” was all shut out. No doubt, yet another year of an all-white Oscars, which is being widely criticized on Twitter, will be addressed by host Chris Rock at the Feb. 28 telecast.


• I was convinced to see Idris Elba‘s name on the list for Beasts Of No Nation, which from what I’ve read should’ve been recognized here. I think Michael B. Jordan was a very strong performer as well in Creed, though I think the Leading Actor category is more crowded than the Supporting one, so Elba surely had a much better shot and it’d be a deserving nomination too, not just to fill a diversity quota!

• Bummed to see Charlize Theron overlooked once again in Mad Max: Fury Road 😦
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For some reason there’s no love for Emily Blunt in Sicario. I’m sooooo tired of seeing Jennifer Lawrence, she’s nominated AGAIN this year, sheesh! I sure hope she won’t win this time!

• Not a good year for female talents either it seems. Only ONE female filmmaker gets a nod this year, that is Deniz Gamze Ergüven who directed the French-film Mustang. It sounds similar to Girlhood which is in my top 10 of the year (also a French film directed by a woman) so I should check it out!

MustangFilm
French drama ‘Mustang’

The buzz for Suffragette by Sarah Gavron seems to have sizzled before it even opened in major cities. I also heard tons of great buzz for The Diary of a Teenage Girl by Marielle Heller and got plenty of Critics and Film Festival noms, but it was overlooked by both Golden Globes and Oscars. Apparently 36% of Sundance Film Competition was directed by women according to Indiewire, well that sure sounds like a heck of a lot when female filmmakers are largely absent from major awards.

• Two actors who seem to have been overlooked are Paul Dano in Love & Mercy and Jason Siegel in The End of the Tour. I’ve only seen the latter and thought that Siegel did an excellent performance as David Foster Wallace.

The WTF

• Ok now, Writing’s On the Wall for Best Original Song?? REALLY?? Heh, I think the melody of the song is nice but gah, I can’t stand Sam Smith’s whiny voice and now it sounds like we’d all have to listen to him sing at the Oscars ceremony! Of ALL the years to recognize a Bond song, the Academy chose the most-maligned one that sounds more like writhing on the wall.

Oscars2016_noms13

The comedy/musical category is the most baffling thing about the Golden Globes but Oscar’s most baffling category is the downgrading of actors’ role prominence. As in the case with Alicia Vikander in The Danish Girl. Anyway you look at it, her role is a lead more than a supporting, but she’s nominated in the Supporting Actress category.

• Where’s Oscar Isaac?? No offense Mark Ruffalo, I think he’s an excellent actor but as much as I love Spotlight as a film, I feel like I’d rather see Oscar Isaac in Ex Machina who’s sooo much more memorable. Ah well, at least we have this awesome dance sequence to console us 😉

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• Oh and I never thought I’d say this but I’d have loved to see Kristen Stewart gets a nod for her performance in Clouds of Sils Maria. She became the first American actress to win a César Award in the role. I think she gave a far stronger performance than Rachel McAdams in Spotlight. Ok it sounds like I’m ripping Spotlight but I’m not, and if the two acting nods increase its chances to win Best Picture, then I guess I’m happy about that. But still it’s baffling that McAdams get a nod whilst Michael Keaton‘s left out.

• Last but not least, poor Sir Ridley Scott!

PoorRidley

The four-time Oscar nominees is overlooked despite his best directing effort in years. The Martian was a return to form for the 78-year-old filmmaker. Heh, let’s hope he gets another shot again as he’s no spring chicken.

 


The 88th Academy Awards will air on February 28 on ABC.


Well, that’s my reaction to the 2016 nominations. What are your Oscar-related delights and gripes?

2016 Golden Globes Coverage: Thoughts on the Winners + Best & Worst Moments of the Night

GG2016

Happy Monday everyone! Did you watch the Golden Globes last night? Well it’s tradition that I watch a couple of award seasons per year and GG and Oscar are the only two televised ceremonies.

As host Ricky Gervais put it, “Nobody cares about those awards as much as you do, so don’t get emotional, ok?” Ahah, it’s funny ’cause it’s true!

MEMORABLE TWEETS

Leo_Oscar

Speaking of Oscar Isaac, he said something truly important the press room after he won for his series Show Me A Hero about the lack of diversity in the film biz. Let’s make it happen Hollywood!

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RED CARPET STUFF

I’ve only started tuning in about a half hour before the show started, but thanks to Twitter, here are some notable dresses of the night:

Best Dressed Ladies:

Now, for some reason there are plenty of white dresses and normally I’m not crazy for that color but I quite like what Lily James, Alicia Vikander & Taraji P. Henson (she wore a cape, nice!)

Most dapper guys:

When a bad dress happens to a good actress

GG2016_Blanchett

I love her but miss Cate, what are you  wearing???
Of ALL the dresses you could have in the world, you picked THAT?

….


Thoughts on Winners/Losers 

But before I get to that…

 

Best Motion Picture – Drama

  • Carol
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Revenant (WINNER)
  • Room
  • Spotlight

I was rooting for Mad Max: Fury Road and Spotlight, but I kind of have a feeling The Revenant would win. I sure hope Fury Road would get an Oscar nomination though.

Best Motion Picture – Musical/Comedy

  • The Big Short
  • Joy
  • The Martian (WINNER)
  • Spy
  • Trainwreck

Ok so I’m over the fact that this musical/comedy category is just hilarious but it’s funny that even Matt Damon & Ridley Scott who won for acting and directing are obviously amused by it.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama

  • Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
  • Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant (WINNER)
  • Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
  • Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl
  • Will Smith, Concussion

GG2016_Leo

I haven’t seen The Revenant yet but seems that Leo did an amazing performance. Will that elusive Oscar is finally within reach for him? I guess we’ll see this Thursday when Oscar nominations are announced.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama

  • Brie Larson, Room (WINNER)
  • Cate Blanchett, Carol
  • Rooney Mara, Carol
  • Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
  • Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl

I was rooting for Saoirse but really, Brie was terrific in a difficult role in Room, so yeah I’m happy for her that she won!

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical/ Comedy

  • Christian Bale, The Big Short
  • Steve Carell, The Big Short
  • Matt Damon, The Martian (WINNER)
  • Al Pacino, Danny Collins
  • Mark Ruffalo, Infinitely Polar Bear

I predicted Damon to win and I think he did a good job here, so no complaints from moi on this one.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical/ Comedy

  • Jennifer Lawrence, Joy (WINNER)
  • Melissa McCarthy, Spy
  • Amy Schumer, Trainwreck
  • Maggie Smith, The Lady in the Van
  • Lily Tomlin, Grandma

Ok, I’ve only seen one performance here (McCarthy in Spy) but is Lawrence really the best of this category??

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture

  • Paul Dano, Love & Mercy
  • Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation
  • Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
  • Michael Shannon, 99 Homes
  • Sylvester Stallone, Creed (WINNER)

GG2016_SlyStallone

2016 must be the COME BACK year. Christian Slater had won earlier for Mr. Robot, then Stallone won for Creed, yes!! Oh, even Mel Gibson is presenting the Golden Globes.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture

  • Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs (WINNER)
  • Jane Fonda, Youth
  • Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
  • Helen Mirren, Trumbo
  • Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina

I was rooting for Vikander here as she was excellent as the robot in Ex Machina, but Winslet was a pleasant surprise in Steve Jobs.

Best Director

  • Todd Haynes, Carol
  • Alejandro G. Inarritu, The Revenant (WINNER)
  • Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
  • George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Ridley Scott, The Martian

I was soooo rooting for George Miller! I mean, in a year of comebacks, it’d be lovely to see him win this thing. Seems that Fury Road and The Revenant had incredibly grueling shoots.

Best Screenplay – Motion Picture

  • Emma Donoghue, Room
  • Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer, Spotlight
  • Charles Randolph, Adam McKay, The Big Short
  • Aaron Sorkin, Steve Jobs (WINNER)
  • Quentin Tarantino, The Hateful Eight

Interesting that Steve Jobs bombed at the box office but was a pretty big winner tonight. I do think Sorkin’s script was fantastic, the dialog was so absorbing, that is if you’re willing to overlook the fact that um, most of the events never took place in real life.

Best Animated Feature Film

  • Anomalisa
  • The Good Dinosaur
  • Inside Out (WINNER)
  • The Peanuts Movie
  • Shaun the Sheep Movie

I really like Inside Out but I didn’t love it the way I loved other Pixar movies like the Toy Story trilogy, Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc, Brave, etc. but I’m still glad a Pixar movie won. I for one am not enamored w/ Anomalisa as most people are.

I barely watch any TV so not much commentary on the TV front, but LOVE seeing Oscar Isaac won for Show Me A Hero.


Best Performance by an Actor in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television

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Random Commentaries

Ok so I’m not the best Gervais’ fan but there were a few that did make me LOL!

“GG doesn’t have an In Memoriam segment to depress you all, that’s why we have the president of the Hollywood Foreign Press for that.”

When introducing Matt Damon…

“He’s also the only person that Ben Affleck hasn’t been unfaithful to…”

When introducing Ken Jeong and Kevin Hart…

“When Brad and Angelina see Kevin Hart and Ken Jeong, they’re gonna want to adopt them.”

Most Worthy Award of the Night

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Amazing body of work this man had… and he’s one of the classiest actors in Hollywood.

BEST MOMENTS

Leo vs Gaga

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Leo’s expression just cracks me up every time!

Taraji P. Henson winning Best Actress in a Drama Series in Empire

….

WTF MOMENTS

TheBear_GG2016

As if Channing Tatum’s horrifying hairdo wasn’t enough, Jonah Hill was poking fun at the bear in The Revenant.

“I’m a two-year-old bear from the Sierra Mountains, and you took a chance on me”

Jane Fonda was NOT impressed.
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Quentin Tarantino was elated when Ennio Morricone won Best Score for The Hateful 8, but in comparing him to Mozart, Beethoven, and other classical composers, he pretty much said he doesn’t deserve to be stuck in the “ghetto” of film scorers. WOW!

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When Brad Pitt and Ryan Gosling tried to be funny whilst introducing The Big Short. Meh.

Same with these guys. Their schtick just falls flat.

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Gender inequality is no laughing matter, and Gervais poking fun at the huge pay gap between men & women in Hollywood is such poor taste. “I’m being paid the same as Tina and Amy last year. It’s not my fault if there’s two of them, and they want to share the money!” Oh and that jab about the Ghostbusters’ all-female remake isn’t funny either.

But nothing is more cringe-worthy than the whole exchange between Gervais and Mel Gibson. The whole thing just reeks of mean-spiritedness, ugh.

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In any case, now we’ve got the Oscar nominations coming Thursday. All I’m hoping for is for Fury Road and Spotlight to get their chance to shine this time!

 


So, what are YOUR thoughts on the 2016 winners & best/worst moments of the night?


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.

TheRevenant4

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.

TheRevenant7

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.

5Reels

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

Awards Season Chat – 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

GG2016

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—and of course the snubs—I 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! 😀

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… 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

SAG2016

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

Theron_Hardy

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 for the Fifth: JUNE 2014 Edition

FiveForTheFifth2014

Welcome to FlixChatter’s primary blog series! As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation/poster, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here.

1. Happy June everybody! So Summer Movie Season is officially underway now, starting with one of the biggest blockbusters of the year X-Men: Days of Future Past. It’s one of my most anticipated films of 2014 and I’m glad to say I LOVED it! I reviewed it just before I left for holiday, you can read it here in case you missed it.

SummerMovies2014

Just looking at June, here are some of the films that are coming out this month:

  • The Fault in Our Stars (June 6)
  • Edge of Tomorrow (June 6)
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2 (June 13)
  • The Rover (June 13)
  • Jersey Boys (June 20)
  • Snowpiercer (June 27)
  • Transformers: Age of Extinction (June 27)

Now, Keith has given you his take on what to flaunt or flush from the Summer movies. As for me, another highly-anticipated movie out this month would be Snowpiercer! Seriously I’ve blogged about that one since August 2013 and it seems like we in the US are the last to catch this apocalypse thriller after the whole editing debacle (heh, thanks Harvey Weinstein!). I can’t freakin’ wait to finally see it and hopefully the Bong Joon-ho’s original version. They just released a new trailer, see below:

So which June movie(s) are you most anticipating?
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2. Yesterday (June 4) is Angelina Jolie‘s birthday, she’s born the same year as moi. The year has been kind to miss Jolie, she seems to get even better with age, looking even more stunning now than ever.

AngelinaJolie2014

I first saw her in Gia (1998), as the tragic 70s supermodel Gia Carangi who died of AIDS at the age of 26. It was such a raw performance from Jolie, and she seemed to have embodied the role so well for a while I feared she might’ve ended up as messed up as the character she portrayed. Thankfully that’s not the case and she seemed to have blossomed since then to become not only a good actress but a philanthropist and humanitarian. Jolie is quite a force to be reckoned with in the industry, I admire her even if I don’t always like her movies. I haven’t seen her directorial efforts yet, but of the movies she’s starred in, I think my favorite would be Beyond Borders, heck I even like her as bad ass Lara Croft & an assassin in Wanted. The absolute worst would be The Tourist as she treated the movie like a fashion photoshoot!

What’s your favorite Angelina Jolie’s film (whether it’s the one she directed or star in)?

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3. I just stumbled upon this new poster and trailer for Song of the Sea and I knew I had to share. It’s from the same filmmakers as The Secret of Kells which I adore. It was nominated for an Oscar in 2010, along with Up (which took home the award), Fantastic Mr Fox, Coraline and The Princess and the Frog.

SongOfTheSeaPoster

Saoirse is a child who is the last of the selkies, women in Irish and Scottish legends who transform from seals into people. She escapes from her grandmother’s home to journey to the sea and free fairy creatures trapped in the modern world.

Directed by Tomm Moore, the voice cast includes Brendan Gleeson (who was also in The Secret of Kells), Fionnula Flanagan, David Rawle, Pat Shortt.

The trailer is just so gorgeous, the visuals and animation is so unique and fresh, unlike anything done by Disney, Pixar or Dreamworks. I think it’s more akin to Studio Ghibli’s style.  I like the fantastical and ethereal quality of the story, check out the trailer below:

My question is two fold: Have you seen The Secret of Kells? What do you think about this new movie?


4. Quite a few casting news I read the past couple of days, but I’m focusing the ones with actors re-teaming for a new project. At the top of the list is two Brits I love who’s got legions of fans: Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston. Based on this Radiotimes article, the two talented Brits are rumored to star in Journey’s End, based on R.C Sherriff’s 1928 play about a group of officers in the last year of WWI. Cumberbatch is rumored for the role of Captain Stanhope whilst Hiddles could be playing Lieutenant Osborne. I’d love it if the two are collaborating again, as their screen time together is way too short in Spielberg’s War Horse. If this happens, I sure hope there’d be lots of dialog as I can listen to these two for hours!

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Another duo who might be working together again are Tom Hardy and Leonardo DiCaprio in a 19th century period thriller The Revenant (per FirstShowing) and Mark Wahlberg with Will Ferrell in what looks to be an R-rated comedy, Daddy’s Home (per Deadline). I love Hardy so any casting news with him sounds good to me, he’d probably steal scenes again from Leo like he did in Inception, ahah. As for Wahlberg/Ferrell, well I loved them both in The Other Guys so yeah, that project sounds like it could be fun.

Which two actors do you wish would collaborate again, either for TV or movies?

5. This month Five for the Fifth’s guest is Michael from It Rains… You Get Wet.

TCM last night broadcasted something different than their usual fare. Ridley Scott’s 1979 classic of sci-fi/horror, Alien.

Alien1979

Michael has seen it a half a dozen times but this is one of those movies that seem to retain its impact even with multiple viewings. I saw it on video years ago, but I still remember it being so terrifying. And who could forget THAT stomach-bursting scene with John Hurt?

With that in mind, what was last film, near or far, at home or at the cinema, that caused you to literally toss your popcorn?


Well, that’s it for the JUNE 2014 edition of Five for the Fifth, folks.

Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all! 😀

Oscar 2014 Winner Predictions & Reminiscing on Best Actor/Actress Nominees’ Early Roles

TheOscarsLogoThe film industry’s biggest night is just three days away. Dozens upon dozens of award ceremonies have taken place in the past few months, culminating on Sunday with the Academy Awards! I figured I’ll join in on the fun of predicting who will win the Oscars, split into two categories. The ‘Should Win’ here who I’m championing to win based on what I’ve seen. Nothing scientific here, the winning predictions are based on what I’ve read/heard, other awards up until now, as well as pure gut instincts. So here goes:

BEST PICTURE
Will Win: “12 Years a Slave”
Should Win: “Gravity”

Have you checked out the Bloggers Roundtable Post over at Keith’s blog? Thanks Keith for inviting me to take part with my favorite bloggers!

BEST DIRECTOR
Will Win: Alfonso Cuarón
Should Win: Alfonso Cuarón

BEST ACTOR
Will Win: Matthew McConaughey
Should Win: [Since I haven’t seen Dallas Buyer’s Club] Chiwetel Ejiofor

BEST ACTRESS
Will Win: Cate Blanchett
Should Win: Cate Blanchett

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Will Win: Jared Leto
Should Win: Michael Fassbender

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Will Win: Lupita Nyong’o
Should Win: Sally Hawkins

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Will Win: “Her”
Should Win: “Her”

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Will Win: “12 Years a Slave”
Should Win: “Captain Phillips”

BEST ANIMATED FILM
Will Win: “Frozen”
Should Win: “Frozen”

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Will Win: “The Square”
Should Win: “The Act of Killing”

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE
Will Win: “The Great Beauty”

Should Win: “The Hunt”

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Will Win: “Gravity”
Should Win: “Gravity”

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Will Win: “Gravity”
Should Win: “Gravity”

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
Will Win: “Let It Go” from “Frozen”
Should Win: “Let It Go” from “Frozen”

Reminiscing on Acting Nominees’ Early Roles

Now, I’d like to do something different this year than simply predicting the winners. I was inspired by something I saw a couple of nights ago whilst I was at the gym. ABC always airs interviews with the acting nominees and show clips of their previous films. Well, it made me reminisce on the first time I saw each of the Best Actor/Actress nominees and how I felt about them then. For the purpose of this post, I’m only focusing on the leading category for this post. So allow me to walk down memory lane for a bit.

OscarBestActressNominees

Amy Adams

AmyAdamsJunebugFirst saw her was in Catch Me If You Can but for some odd reason, I didn’t remember her until much later after I saw the film. She had a small role as a Southern Belle type hospital nurse whom Leo DiCaprio’s character proposed to. But the role that really impressed me was Junebug where she also played a Southerner, a young mother to-be who thinks that her baby would solve her marital strain. It’s a bit of an odd film but I definitely remember her in that, and clearly the Academy did too, as it earned her first of five nominations.

Cate Blanchett

CateBlanchettLOTRIt was her role in the mega blockbuster The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring that made me notice the Aussie thespian. I absolutely loved her voice as she narrated the story. After that I went back to watch her Oscar-nominated role Elizabeth, which to this day I still think she’s far more worthy of the Oscar win than Gwyneth Paltrow was in Shakespeare in Love. I’ve never NOT been impressed by her performance since, I’m constantly in awe of her versatility and chameleonic quality, convincingly speaking whatever accent is required of her. Balancing small films like Little Fish, Veronica Guerin to a big-budget production like The Aviator, she seems to be able to do it all effortlessly. Even in a terrible movie like Indiana Jones 4, she’s still very watchable.

Sandra Bullock

SandraBullockSpeedI might’ve seen Sandra in Working Girl TV series but for some reason I didn’t realize she’s the same girl in Speed! I didn’t recognize her with her big wavy hair, ahah. So I have to say it’s her big break in the hit action flick, which was also Keanu Reeve’s breakthrough role, that made me notice her. I liked her straight away and I’ve always been fond of her since. She might not have Blanchett’s range, but she more than make up for it in congeniality – no surprise that she made two movies bearing that sentiment as it’s so tailor-made for her. I’m one of the few who didn’t mind that she won Best Actress for The Blind Side, but her dramatic chop is stretched even further in Gravity.

Judi Dench

JudiDenchGoldeneyeOne of British finest Dames has had a long career in various stage, TV and film work before she made history as the first female M in the James Bond series. So I first noticed her as Bond’s snarky boss in Goldeneye, who aptly and memorably calls him a ‘sexist, misogynist dinosaur.’ Bravo! Only three years later she won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar in Shakespeare in Love despite being on screen for a mere 8 minutes. The one British monarch role I absolutely love her in was Mrs. Brown where she played an older Queen Victoria who found friendship in her servant Mr. Brown as she was mourning her husband’s death.

Meryl Streep

MerylStreepKramervsKramerAn acting living legend has a staggering 17 Oscar nominations (3 wins), the most of ANY performer of all time. The first time I saw her was in Kramer vs. Kramer when I was a kid, where she won her first Best Actress Oscar. That film was indelible as I remember being quite frightened by the scene where her kid fell in the playground, being carried home by her on-screen husband Dustin Hoffman. I haven’t seen a lot of her work and to be frank, she’s not really a favorite of mine even if she’s always impressive in everything I’ve seen her in. I definitely enjoyed seeing her as Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada, that’s really a fun role for her where she gets to be this larger-than-life meanie without being cartoonish.

…..

OscarBestActorNominees

Christian Bale

Bale_MidsummerNightsDreamI honestly can’t remember when I first saw Bale in movies. I know it’s long before he don the cape as the Dark Knight, and it wasn’t his movie big break as a child actor in Empire of the Sun as I saw that after Batman. So it could very well be his small supporting role in Midsummer Night’s Dream as I saw that one on the big screen. It’s interesting to see the ever-so-serious Bale in a Shakespearean fantasy comedy. I barely remember what the whole story was about but I remember how dreamy he was in it, hard to imagine him doing a fluffy role like that, but I think he should just to break things up from all the solemn and dark stuff he does nowadays.

Bruce Dern

BruceDernNebraskaThis is the only time in a long while where I haven’t seen any of the work of an actor prior to the one being nominated. I have heard of him but somehow I just never saw him in anything. I have to rectify that situation at some point as I was quite impressed by his performance in Nebraska. People constantly tell me he’s played great bad guys in his younger days, so I just have to check those out!

Leonardo DiCaprio

LeoDiCaprioGrowingPainsI’m always amazed and in awe at Leo’s career trajectory as I first saw him in one of my favorite series Growing Pains! He was so dorky looking but even then you knew he was special. After that I never saw any of his film roles until Titanic, in which I had a slight crush on Jack Dawson (which teen girl wasn’t?). So of course I saw a bunch of his films after that, even the really obscure one like Total Eclipse as a French poet (sans the French accent) where he even had a gay sex scene with David Thewlis. Leo even did a Western in The Quick & The Dead, though by that point I was already crushing on Russell Crowe who never looked better in a film.

Chiwetel Ejiofor

EjioforChildrenOfMenFirst time I noticed Ejiofor was in Children of Men, though I might’ve seen him in Inside Man as well before that. A year later I saw him in American Gangster, with fellow hunky Brit Idris Elba, both playing Americans on opposite sides of Denzel Washington’s character. I’m so glad he’s now getting more recognition, hopefully it’ll bring more leading roles for Ejiofor, as he obviously has the chops. Interesting that both him and Elba has also played leading roles in Mandela-related films, Ejiofor was the lead in this dramatic gem Endgame.

Matthew McConaughey

McConaugheyWeddingPlannerThe role I first took notice of this Southern hunk happens to be in one of my guilty pleasure rom-com The Wedding Planner opposite J-Lo. I thought he was sooo darn hunky and sweet in that movie. I think I might’ve seen him prior to that on Boys on the Side but I can’t remember what he even looked like in that movie. Funny that he was in a sci-fi movie about dragons with fellow 2014 nominee Christian Bale in Reign of Fire, and back then he got top billing over the lesser known Bale. I skipped a bunch of McConaughey’s movies for a while, I have to admit I wasn’t a fan until I saw him in The Lincoln Lawyer. Nice to see his career renaissance – aptly coined The McConissance – of late, he’s poised to win this Sunday.


Thoughts on my predictions? More importantly, would you share your first cinematic memory with any of the Best Actor/Actress nominees?

2014 Oscar Nominations: The Good, the Bad and the WTF

Oscars2014

WOW, has it been a year already?? I felt like I was just doing this Oscar prediction thing not that long ago! Well, the stars might not have even recovered from the Golden Globes, for better or for worse. Methinks there’d be a mix of old veterans and newcomers all vying for taking the golden bald dude home.

As I’ve been doing the past couple of years, this is the fun time for movie bloggers to scrutinize the nominations to death, ahah. I actually woke up extra early so I could catch the telecast of the nomination itself, with Thor erm Chris Hemsworth making the announcement with the Academy’s president Cheryl Boone Isaacs.

I didn’t make a post of my nomination predictions this year, I only tweeted who’d be nominated for Best Picture. I guessed that it’d be 8 nominations instead of 9 last year, but apparently the number ended up being the same.

So apparently I was off by one and I had guessed that Blue Jasmine would make it, instead it’s Philomena. I haven’t seen either one though, so I can’t say which one I’d prefer. The other nom I haven’t seen is Dallas Buyers Club.

Oscars2014BestPicNoms

  1. Gravity
  2. 12 Years a Slave
  3. American Hustle
  4. Captain Phillips
  5. Her
  6. Nebraska
  7. Dallas Buyers Club
  8. The Wolf of Wall Street
  9. Philomena

 Anyway, you can see the full nominations here. Below’s my thoughts:

The Good

  • I’m most pleased seeing Spike Jonze getting three nominations: Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and Best Original Song The Moon Song, which was sung by Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson in the film.


  • Happy to see Christian Bale getting a Best Actor nomination, didn’t see that coming. But it truly was an excellent performance and an Oscar-worthy role from the consistently stellar actor.
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  • Congrats to Barkhad Abdi for as close to being the Christoph Waltz of the year, he’s been nominated by pretty much every major awards out there: BAFTA, Golden Globes, SAG, and now Oscars! It’s even more impressive as this is his first EVER role in any format, as he’s never done a stage or even TV acting before. I sure wish him all the best and hope that this would NOT be the last time we see him on screen!
  • YES for The Hunt up for Best Foreign Language Film! Thank you the Academy for not overlooking that one, now if only we could get a win out of that one as well, it’d make up for not seeing Mads Mikkelsen in Best Actor category. I’d think he’s eligible even if the film is not amongst the main Best Picture noms? I don’t know, maybe an Oscar expert can enlighten me on this one?
  • Joshua with one of The Act of Killing's producers Werner Herzog
    Joshua with one of The Act of Killing’s producers Werner Herzog

    I’m thrilled to see The Act of Killing was shortlisted for Best Documentary! I remember talking to director Joshua Oppenheimer last August in my interview that he would be submitting his film to the Oscars. It’s one of my Top 10 films of 2013, and I can’t recommend it enough. Trust me, you’d never see a documentary like it before.

  • Overall I agree with pretty much ALL of the Best Actor nominations, though I haven’t seen Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyer’s Club (the only one I’ve missed so far), I really think he warranted the nom and perhaps the frontrunner of the pack. Of course I’d rather see Joaquin Phoenix amongst the nom, as I for one didn’t think too highly of Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street. Yes the physical comedy bit was hysterical but overall it’s not THAT different from other performances he did where he played an unhinged character. I think he’s done better performances in the past that might’ve merited the nom more than this one.
  • YES for Frozen in the Best Animated Feature category! It’s like last year’s Brave as my favorite animated film of the year, one I don’t mind seeing over and over again!
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  • I’ve seen all of the films in the Best Cinematography category except for Prisoners. Sorry Roger Deakins, I know this marks your 11th nomination, but I’d love to see Emmanuel Lubezki win this thing as his work for Gravity is absolutely superb.
  • I’m rooting for William Butler and Owen Pallett for their score for Her. I honestly didn’t think John Williams‘ work is all that great in The Book Thief , but I really respect his work as a composer so I’m not going to complain too much.

The Bad

  • As I’ve said above, I had been rooting for Joaquin Phoenix to get a nom 😦
  • EmmaThompson_SavingMrBanksOh and where is Emma Thompson?? Come on Academy! You’d rather give it to Meryl Streep for the 18th time?? Ok so she was good as the pill-popping, toxic-spewing matriarch of the Weston family in August: Osage County but there’s as much scenery-chewing in that performance than actually good acting. Thompson is more deserving to be included here! A bit of trivia here according to Josh the Oscars expert, whilst this is Meryl Streep’s 18th nomination, it would’ve been Emma Thompson’s FIRST nomination in 18 years 😦
  •  Hoyte Van Hoytema is robbed for his amazing cinematography work in Her. Seriously, it’s one of the most enchanting visual storytelling I’ve seen in a long while that enhances the story so much. I found this article talking about Hoytema’s process of capturing the right mood for Jonze’s film, “Van Hoytema used an array of glass that would allow him to capture the intimacy of the characters’ relationship, as well as the physicality of light, something the cinematographer says was integral to the character Samantha’s experiences of seeing things for the first time. I was literally in awe and mesmerized by the distinctive look of the film as I was watching it, more so than any other film nominated in this category.
  • Speaking of being robbed, seriously, where is Daniel Brühl??! Yeah I know he’s probably going to lose to Jared Leto, I mean without seeing the performance, if I were a betting woman I’d put my money on Leto. But at the very least Brühl should’ve been in the running. Even Niki Lauda himself would’ve vouched for him as he wasn’t simply imitating the F1 star with his fantastic performance. Jonah Hill‘s flashy performance is sooo overrated it’s not even funny! Heck, I’d rather see Will Forte get a nomination instead of him as he was pretty darn good in his first dramatic role in Nebraska. No scenery-chewing necessary.
  • WOW, no love at all for Lee Daniels’ The Butler?? I thought it was a solid drama, even better than Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom which I’m not surprised nor bummed it didn’t get a nomination. Hmmm, I wonder if The Weinstein Company’s snafu over the title could’ve been one of the reasons?

The WTF

I think most people who care about the Oscars are likely to care as much about who gets snubbed than those who got in. Some of them I’ve mentioned above but these list are dedicated for the dishonor of the award season. Once again, look no further than the Directing category…

  • Last year the *honors* went to Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow for being snubbed for ARGO and Zero Dark Thirty respectively. This year it’s Paul Greengrass! His excellent thriller Captain Phillips made the Best Picture list but he’s not amongst Best Director noms. Heh, good thing the American Cinema Editors recognized his work, he’s to be awarded its filmmaker of the year award on February 7 (per Variety).
    HanksGreengrass_OscarSnub
  • Speaking of the Captain, neither is Tom Hanks! I’d rather see Hanks get in than Leo personally, yes even at Joaquin Phoenix’s expense I would not have minded as much. In the same camp is Robert Redford, who everyone seems to have been praising, but I haven’t seen All Is Lost so I can’t say.
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  • As for the rest of the acting snubs, according to Indiewire, Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks and Daniel Bruhl all got nods from SAG, BAFTA, the Globes and the Critics Choice. To get all four of those and still miss out on Oscar is a very rare occasion.
  • Sad to see one of my favorite songs of the year Young and Beautiful got overlooked again! It’s such a gorgeous song… here I’m putting this again though I had posted it in my Music Break post:


  • So the F1 thriller/drama RUSH was pretty much left out of the track all together. I’m not as bummed about Ron Howard not getting a nod than not seeing Daniel Brühl, as I’ve mentioned above. He’s far better than both Bradley Cooper AND Jonah Hill!
  • OscarIsaac_OscarSnubNow, I wouldn’t have put Inside Llewyn Davis amongst Best Picture nominees, but Oscar Isaac should’ve been in the running for Best Actor! He’s an incredible actor who’s proven his talents many times before and I was hoping this would’ve been his real big break! His name IS Oscar AND capable of Oscar-worthy performances, heck he should’ve won one by now!
  • Another snub for Inside Llewyn Davis is in the Best Score and Best Song category! Man, I thought the music is phenomenal, certainly my favorite part of the film aside from Isaac’s performance.
  • Lastly, I quite enjoyed American Hustle but truthfully, I don’t know if it’s THAT good to lead the nomination pack with 10 nominations (tied with the far more deserving Gravity?!) I sure hope Jennifer Lawrence won’t win Best Supporting category.

    Yes I know it’s perhaps more far-fetched than the premise of Her, but I’d have liked to see Scarlett Johansson getting a surprise nod for her amazing voice work as the OS Samantha. It’s so integral to the success of the film. But oh well, since she’s not even in the running, I’m rooting for Lupita Nyong’o. My second preference: June Squibb.


The 86th Academy Awards will air March 2 from Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre, it’ll be shown live on ABC.


Well, that’s my reaction to the 2014 nominations. What are your Oscars-related delights and gripes?

FlixChatter Review: The Wolf of Wall Street

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When it comes to films based on a real life person, I tend to not be that interested in them but when a master filmmaker like Martin Scorsese decided to make one, I won’t miss it for the world.  As with most films based on real events, not everything you see on the screen are true but then this movie was based on a book written by a real life stockbroker Jordan Belfort, I have to believe that some if not all of the things happened on the screen were true. I mean I’ve worked at a financial institution a few years ago and heard stories of how the big wig executives partied and I can’t help but laugh when I saw this movie.

Just like some of Scorsese’s films, the main character Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) narrates the story throughout and even talked directly to the audience once in a while. It starts out with flashback of how he got started in wall street, he worked at some brokerage film in NYC, there he met his mentor Mark Hanna (Matthew McConaughey) who taught him the trick of the trade. After the stock market crash in 1987, Belfort loss his job but later found work at a small brokerage firm with a bunch of sales guys who have no idea how sell stocks. With his experience working at a big firm, Belfort was able to sell stocks of basically non-existent companies to bunch of regular schmucks. Later Belfort decided he wanted to start his own firm and met his future business partner Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill) at a local dinner. They rented a garage to set up as an office and recruited their friends to work for them. The film basically chronicle the rise and fall of Belfort and his gang and since it’s a 3 hours long, I won’t go into any plot details for this review.

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This is the fifth collaboration between DiCaprio and Scorsese and I think this one might be DiCaprio’s best performance ever. He commands the screen every time you see him and the things did in this movie, I’m not sure many actors can pull off. There’s a scene in which he was so drugged out of his mind and he had to crawl to get to his car was probably the most hilarious thing I’ve seen in a while and it’s kind of sad too because I’ve seen people behaved like that in real life. Jonah Hill was pretty good as the second lead, although there were a couple of times where I thought he really “acted” instead of playing the role, hope that made sense. Even though McConaughey only appeared in the movie for just a few minutes, he stole the scene and I kind of wish to see more of his character. Newcomer Aussie actress Margot Robbie did a decent job as Belfort’s trophy wife, I’ve never seen her in anything before this movie, but she might have a good career Hollywood since she’s also drop dead gorgeous. I also have to give a shout out to Rob Reiner who plays Belfort’s father, I haven’t seen him on the screen in a while and glad to see him working again in front of the camera.

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To me though the person who truly deserves the credit is Scorsese, I don’t think this film would have worked as well as it did had other director made it. Seems to be he’s back in his old form again after some so so films the last few years. Even though I loved The Departed, I just felt it wasn’t a “Scorsese Picture” since it’s remake. Here he incorporated all of the skills that have made him famous and respected in the industry, from the fast editing to great cinematography, I have no complaint about his direction. He was able to show how despicable these people were and he pulled no punches showing us their debauchery behaviors and how they cheat their way into “success.” Some might say it’s too much but that’s the point of the movie, these greedy people will do anything to get rich and didn’t care who they hurt as long as they get what they wanted. Of course this being a Scorsese film, there has to be scene where some guy gets the crap beat out of him and don’t worry, there’s a scene in this film where some unfortunate guy got the crap kicked out of him. I was expecting to see Joe Pesci show up as a cameo and play the guy who beats up this person. I don’t mean to sound exaggerated but I think this film might be on the same level as Goodfellas or Taxi Driver. Now I do think the film could’ve use some trimming, at 3 hours it’s a bit long and I thought some scenes could’ve been shorten. But I was so involved in the story, it didn’t feel like 3 hours to me.

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Of all the films I saw in 2013, this one’s probably my favorite. It’s great seeing a true Scorsese’s picture again and along with great performances, this one is highly recommended. Just a warning though, this film is for adults only, please don’t bring young kids to see it. If you get easily offended by foul language, the F-words were mentioned many times, you might want to stay away from it. Also, there were many scenes of sex acts and drug use throughout most of the film, again if you’re easily offended by these kind of scenes, you won’t enjoy the film.

I think if you’re a fan of either DiCaprio or Scorsese or both, you’ll enjoy this film. It’s a kind of tragic story of how greed can make people so evil and the last shot of the film was a proof that yes many of us will do anything to get rich and have a better life. That’s the American dream right?

four and a half stars out of five
4.5 out of 5 reels


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What do you think of The Wolf of Wall Street and Scorsese + DiCaprio collaboration?