Everyone loves lists right, and since we’re entering a new decade, it’s a great excuse to make loads and loads of lists 😀 I’ll be working on various Best of the Decade throughout the year, and I thought I’d start with cinematography since Brittani just listed her 10 top best of 2018 over at Rambling Film blog (hey it’s also her blog 10th anniversary so head over and wish her a blog anniversary!)
I chose these images based on instinct… the one I think is the most indelible and leaves a lasting impression, as a film likely has a bunch of beautiful visuals (esp. those shot by the legend Roger Deakins!) Most of these films have the best cinematography of the decade, but I consider these images iconic in that people would likely know right away where it’s from. Now, it’s tough to whittle it down to just 10 and as we’re entering the [roaring] 20s, there’ll be plenty of Top 20s list this year.
So without further ado, here are my picks in the order of the film’s year of release:
Life of Pi (2012)
Ex Machina (2014) – dance
The Assassin (2015)
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (2015)
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
La La Land (2016)
Rogue One (2016)
Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
Shape of Water (2017)
Cold War (2018)
Black Panther (2018)
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
A Hidden Life (2019)
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019)
Hope you enjoy my list. Now it’s your turn, what’s some of your favorite shots of the past decade?
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.
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.
I’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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Who will win: Mad Max: Fury Road
Who should win: Mad Max: Fury Road
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.
Who will win: Mad Max: Fury Road
Who should win: Ex Machina
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!
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.
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.
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?
Most people who know me know I have an old school taste when it comes to music. I basically only listen to genres. One is classical music – my radio dial goes back and forth from MPR news to Classical MPR 99.5, and I’m not ashamed that I owned two Sarah Brightman CDs. The other is movie music [natch] My CD changers in my car (I’m dating myself aren’t I?) consist mostly of soundtracks (Moulin Rouge and Sense & Sensibility are on there right now). 2015 have produced some truly awesome soundtracks that I currently listen to a lot, and probably will for years to come. They’re quite an eclectic bunch, just like my taste in films, I like my period dramas to go with the high-octane action.
Mad Max: Fury Road
Composed by: Tom Holkenborg aka Junkie XL
I had never heard of Junkie XL before but man I LOVE this extremely energetic music that adds so much cool vibe to the movie. It perfectly complements all the crazy action that goes on in the movie and the music IS an integral part of the action as well w/ the guitar guy in red jumper on top of the convoy truck.
Brothers in Arms is one of my fave tracks from the album:
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
Composed by: Joe Kramer
I LOVE Puccini’s Nessun Dorma, which was featured in the fantabulous Vienna Opera sequence early in the film. Well, three of the tracks managed to inject the famous area beautifully and mix it with the iconic Mission Impossible theme. I just LOVE it!!
I also love the music featured in the MI5 trailer by The Fugees from the mid 90s. It works brilliantly with the trailer cut and somehow sounds like it’s made just for this movie!
Far From the Madding Crowd
Composed by: Craig Armstrong
I’ve already dedicated an entire Music Break post of this one last September and I’m still obsessed with it.
I especially love Carey Mulligan’s rendition of Let No Man Steal Your Thyme, but this opening sequence with the repetitive piano and violin melody has such a beautiful, swoon-inducing quality.
Composed by: Patrick Doyle
Speaking of swoon-inducing, that’s the one essential ingredient when you’re composing a fairy tale film. Mr. Doyle’s done some of my favorite soundtracks ever, so he’s the perfect choice for this movie. I was just listening to it last night as I was working on my script, as a matter of fact. At times I’d stop and let myself be swept away by the lush & gorgeous music, just like Cinderella was by Prince Kit 😉
Composed by: Jóhann Jóhannsson
I just watched this recently so it’s fresh in my mind. I remember vividly how the ominous score adds so much tension to already ultra-suspenseful scenes. One of the major reasons my nerve was stretched to its snapping point was because of this brilliant music. The Icelandic composer wrote such a perfect music with his minimalist electronic style, it’s as pulsating and heart-throbbing as the film itself. I can’t imagine this movie without THIS music, it’s made all the richer because of it.
I had to include this scene from one of my top 10 films of 2015. The song Diamonds is by Rihanna who I never listen to, but somehow it’s so perfect for this scene. The first time I saw it I actually rewound it as it moved me so much. It captured the sentiment the girls are feeling… every girl, no matter what background they come from, once to get all dolled up and be glamorous once in a while.
Hope you enjoyed this week’s music break. Which of these are YOUR favorites?
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…
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.
• YES, prayer answered!! Thrilled to see Mad Max: Fury Roadnearly 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!!!!
• 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!
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!
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.
• 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.
… • 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! …
• 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😦
For some reason there’s no love for Emily Bluntin 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!
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.
• 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.
• 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 Spotlightas a film, I feel like I’d rather see Oscar Isaac in Ex Machinawho’s sooo much more memorable. Ah well, at least we have this awesome dance sequence to console us 😉
• Oh and I never thought I’d say this but I’d have loved to seeKristen Stewartgets 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!
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? …
It’s THAT time of the year again… time for film bloggers to rake our brains to do the tricky-but-fun process of selecting the best films they’ve seen all year. I was going to post this on December 31 but due to my East Coast trip I had to delay it until I’m back home. Suffice to say I didn’t see any 2015 releases since I left on Dec 22, so the last 2015 film I saw at the cinema was The Force Awakens. As it wasn’t tough enough selecting only 10 films, it’s even tougher ranking them. But like the years before, once I decided on my top three, ranking the other seven was a bit easier to do. Btw, what constitutes a 2015 movie is based on US release, so even though it’d say 2014 on IMDb, if a film is released in 2015 in the US, I will include it here.
In case you’re wondering about the criteria of selecting these, well I always say that my ‘top movies’ it’s sort of a cross between a ‘best of and favorite’, so the criteria is that these films made an impression on me, combining the virtue of being entertaining, deeply moving, thought-provoking, and indelible. Re-watchability is also a factor here and I’d readily re-watch most of the films listed here, in fact, I have seen a few of them at least twice already.
Ok well, without further ado, I present you …
10 BEST FILMS OF 2015
10. Girlhood (Bande de filles)
I saw this at MSP film fest last April and it really made an impression on me. It’s the only foreign language film on my list, which means I didn’t get to see as many foreign films this year. Bande de filles means gang of girls, and it’s set in a low-income suburbs of Paris, which offers the unglamorous part of the City of Light I rarely see in cinema. The female-centric drama was written AND directed by a female filmmaker, Céline Sciamma, and it centers on16-year-old girl Marime played by the mesmerizing Karidja Touré. Let’s just say she’s one of my two French actor discoveries I’m thankful for this year. The film is on Netflix and I highly recommend it if you’re in the mood for an off-the-beaten path French film that’s emotional and indelible.(full review)
9. 99 Homes
For some reason this film flew under the radar and it’s really a shame. Based on the strength of the two actors alone, Andrew Garfield and Michael Shannon, this film is well worth your time. The latter is especially electrifying in a role that really utilized Shannon’s inherently ominous quality, combined with his understated but powerful dramatic style. This is my first intro to Ramin Bahrani’s work and he’s made such a riveting drama about the housing crisis without resorting to sensationalizing to get the point across. A timely drama that will linger long after the closing credits. (full review)
8. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
I LOVE how there are two franchise films that shift the film’s focus to be more female-driven and Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is one of them. Yes of course we still have the venerable Tom Cruise back as super-spy Ethan Hunt, but Rebecca Ferguson‘s Ilsa Faust has an intriguing character arc. Miss Ferguson also belongs to my list of top 5 actors I’d love to see more of based on 2015 viewing. She is as bad ass as she is shrewd, pretty much Hunt’s equal, if not better. This is a film that prides itself in its preposterous action sequences and there’s chock full of those here to entertain even the most cynical moviegoers. There are SO many awesome sequences I could watch over and over, with the Vienna Opera House sequence being my absolute favorite. (full review)
I LOVE it when a film I wasn’t really interested in initially ended up blowing me away. Well Creed is one of those films and it proves that not every reboot/spin-off is automatically bad. In fact, I’d consider this a gem of 2015 cinema that’d certainly please Rocky fans as well as win new ones. Michael B. Jordan hit gold once again with his second collaboration with writer/director Ryan Coogler, whose excellent direction makes for a dynamic as well as emotional film. Jordan is a charismatic lead, but it’s Sylvester Stallone who’s the scene-stealer, reprising his role he did forty years ago. As I mentioned in my awards musings post, it’d be cool to see him be nominated AND win an Oscar for the same role, as he absolutely deserved it. (full review)
6. The Big Short
Films about the housing crisis have been the subject of many films as well as documentaries. I have to admit that the cast that include Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt piqued my interest. Well, those four actors were great, especially Bale and Carell who were the most memorable of the bunch. When I first saw the trailer and saw Adam McKay directing, I was a bit taken aback. I mean, this is the guy who did Anchorman and a bunch of comedies with Will Ferrell. In a way, treating this dark and even upsetting subject matter in a comedic way works and it breaks the topic down to a level that’s easy to understand. The comedic style doesn’t mean it downplays the heartbreaking reality of the housing bubble crash however. There’s a similarities to 99 Homes and also Wolf of Wall Street in terms of its subject matter, but compared to Scorsese’s film I actually enjoyed this a lot more. It’s immensely entertaining from start to finish, so the bold-but-risky filmmaking style paid off here.
5. The Martian
If you had told me that The Martian might end up on someone’s top 10 list earlier this year, I’d have laughed in their face. Somehow I just didn’t have any interest in seeing this given my disappointment with Ridley Scott’s movies lately, but I had to eat my own words as I ended up loving this. The comedic tone (as well as the disco music) was so unexpected but somehow worked beautifully for the film and Matt Damon is as likable as ever in the lead. For much of the film, it was mostly a one-man show with his character Mark Watney, but I remained engrossed throughout. The film also had a nice balance of his scenes in Mars and the scenes on earth with the rescue team at NASA. Jeff Daniels gave one of his two most memorable performances of the year (the other was in Steve Jobs), but kudos to Drew Goddard‘s sharp script and Mr. Scott for his return-to-form as a filmmaker. (full review)
4. Ex Machina
This has been quite a year for Alicia Vikander. I hadn’t even heard of her before 2015, as I had just seen Anna Karenina earlier this year where she had a small part. Well, my intro to the Swedish actress was a memorable one. She played a beautiful female AI, as fetching and seductive even when her body looks very much like a machine. Alex Garland took an oft-told story of man vs. machine and somehow made it feel organic and even personal. Domhnall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac delivered excellent performances as well, especially the latter, as he continues to display amazing versatility as an actor. I saw this early in the year but I knew it’ll end up in my final top 10. It’s one of the best sci-fi films in recent memory, quite amazing what they achieved on a shoe-string budget of $15 million. (full review)
This was my favorite film I saw at TCFF this year and I knew this film would make my final Top 10. Brooklyn tells a simple yet very relatable and heartfelt story of an Irish immigrant and being an immigrant myself, I definitely relate to her in many ways. I’ve been a huge fan of Saoirse Ronan for some time and this is definitely her best work amongst her already illustrious career. She infused such gravitas into her role and able to convey the internal battle within her with just her eyes or a subtle smile. I also love Emory Cohen as one of her love interests, but the supporting cast are excellent overall. Sometimes a simple, no-frills story can make a great impact, and that’s the case with this one. Brilliant work from director John Crowley and screenwriter Nick Hornby, certainly one I’d appreciate for years to come. (full review)
I just heard about this film a few months before its release and I’ve been anticipating it since. Well it did NOT disappoint and it ranks as one of the best ensemble cast AND journalism film ever. It’s the kind of good story-telling that I wish Hollywood would make more of. The captivating dialog grabs you right from the start and the pacing is just right that the film never drags despite not having much action. Powerful without being sensationalizing the story or emotionally-manipulative, at times it even felt like a documentary.
The fantastic cast brought the disturbing true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the Catholic Church’s child molestation and cover-up scandal to life. The investigative journalism scenes are riveting, but quiet scenes such as the meet-up between the Globe’s new editor and Cardinal Law was brimming with tension, and even occasional humor. I love that it subtly highlights the humanity of the journalists, more than just their reporting skills, without distracting from the main narrative.
The entire cast brought their A-game, especially those who made up the Spotlight investigative team: Michael Keaton,Mark Ruffalo (who got the most screen time), Rachel McAdams, and Brian d’Arcy James. Also kudos to Stanley Tucci and Liev Schreiber, the latter had the least screen time but perhaps one of the most memorable scenes as the Globe’s editor, thanks to his understated but astute performance. Tom McCarthy‘s script (co-written with Josh Singer) and his astute direction made a solid drama that will certainly linger with you for days. Definitely not the most comfortable subject but I encourage everyone to see this. Guaranteed to stun and rile you up, but that’s what what a brilliant retelling such a grievous subject matter is supposed to do.
1. Mad Max: Fury Road
This is an easy pick for number 1. It’s one of the most unique and unusual films I’ve seen in a while, and the level of artistry that goes into it is off the charts. Technically it’s simply astounding, especially in terms of cinematography. Now, the first two sentences were from my #1 pick of 2014 (Birdman), but it also fits perfectly for George Miller‘s masterpiece. Yes I said the ‘m’ word and I don’t think it’s a hyperbole.
I wish I had seen this more than once on the big screen but I’ve seen re-watched it on Blu-ray twice and loved every minute of it. The visual effects is simply magnificent and awe-inspiring, which is more fun to watch over and over and you’d always something new to marvel at. Once you realize most of it is practical effects and not simply CGI it’d blow your mind away even more. But action alone, no matter how spectacular, doesn’t make a movie, and that’s what makes Fury Road so gratifying on every level. At the heart of the film is a compelling and heart-wrenching, female-driven story. I love stories of unlikely friendship and so is the pairing of fierce Furiosa and the drifter, Max Rockatansky. The partnership between the two lost souls is beautifully realized… nobody needed *saving* but their shared journey ended up bringing redemption to both of them. I sure hope Charlize Theron would get lots of nominations for Best Actress in the role as she’s absolutely astounding. Tom Hardy‘s as cool as ever as the strong, silent-type hero and I look forward to seeing more of him in this franchise.
What a rockin’ duo this proved out to be, oh and the music is equally rock-tastic [pardon the pun] and has become a staple in our car now. It’s tough to find films that are such an intense feast for the eyes (and ear) but also deeply emotional and moving, but Fury Road did that for me. It made me want to get up and cheer one moment and got me teary-eyed the next. Yes it’s an inherently bizarre film, but once it grabs you it’s impossible to turn away. What a ride, what a lovely ride! (full review).
Some of these almost made my final top 10 so some of these are excellent and some have become personal faves that I’d love to watch again and again. I list this in order of personal favorites, I actually owned the Blu-ray of Cinderella and What We Do in the Shadows, so yeah, I absolutely adore those two!
One film I’m surprised didn’t even make my top 25 is Macbeth, which I had been anticipating for some time. I don’t think I’ll be reviewing it but suffice it to say it didn’t quite make an impression to me, in fact I found it rather tedious. I was far more captivated watching Tom Hiddleston’s Coriolanus at the Donmar Theater on National Theatre Live. It may not be Shakespeare’s most famous play, but Hiddle’s performance was gripping from start to finish.
What I missed from 2015:
45 Years, Carol, The Danish Girl, The Lobster, Love & Mercy, Mustang, The Look of Silence, Tangerine, The Revenant, Sicario, Straight Outta Compton, etc.
I hope to catch these later this year.
5 Worst Movies of the Year
Now, some of these aren’t straight out horrible, there are some things I admire about Tomorrowland and Pan, I think both have interesting concepts but the execution didn’t quite work. I’d say those two still merit a rental, but I’d skip the rest. It really pains me to put Blackhat on here as I LOVE Michael Mann, but well, the movie was terrible! I wish Hollywood would realize there are other hunks besides Chris Hemsworth who can actually act! Self/Less and Jupiter Ascending are simply dreadful and a complete waste of time. In fact, the latter is just SO bad it still makes me cringe every time I see a photo of it, ugh. To this day I can’t understand the appeal of Channing Tatum and I probably never will.
Now, I probably should’ve made a separate list for Most Disappointing Movies but I’d rather not waste my time. For sure Spectre and Jurassic World would make THAT list, as they’re not terrible film per se but it sure wasn’t nearly as good as I had expected.
Glad I missed some terrible ones likeTerminator Genysis, Fantastic Four, The Seventh Son, The Cobler, Chappie,Aloha, etc. I have no interest in even renting these. …
So that’s my top 10 list of 2015. Thoughts on my picks here? I’d love to hear it! …
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
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.
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.
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!
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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!
Screen Actors Guild Awards
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.
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
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)
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)
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)
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
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?
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 postshere.
1. Can’t believe the end of the year is upon us folks! As we anticipate December movies, I can’t help but setting my sights into movies opening in the Spring. Well, it looks to be a battle of Marvel vs DC, in which the two movies will consist of their own heroes fighting each other, ahah. Batman vs Supermanaka Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War are initially going to open on the same day, before Zack Snyder moved the release date of Dawn of Justice to March 25.
So here are the two recently-released trailers:
Heh, they pretty much given up the entire movie in the trailer! And despite all the hoopla of Batman fighting Superman, they practically downplayed the most intriguing aspect of the movie to introduce the huge monster Doomsday as the main villain. That’s just idiotic, why not build up more of the tension between the two behemoth heroes? I thought the 50-second teaser was far more interesting and ominous (see below), but the tone of the trailer is too playful it’s almost comedic which is just so messed up.
The only cool part of trailer 2 is seeing Wonder Woman in that last still shot, but man Jesse Eisenberg wins Most Annoying Villain ever as Lex Luthor.
On the other hand, I’m even more pumped to see the battle that goes down between Captain America and Iron Man!
The Captain America franchise has become my favorite of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the story arc is definitely the most interesting. I LOVE seeing Bucky in the trailer back on Capt’s side again. The reason why Capt. and Tony Stark are fighting each other make total sense and it’ll be a bad ass and emotional battle for both parties.
Nice seeing Black Panther here and his ambiguous allegiance makes his character all the more intriguing. May 6th can’t come soon enough!!
So what’s your thoughts on each of these trailers? ….
2.Switching gears to one of the most anticipated TV series returning next year. Both are supposed to be premiering in SPRING!!
One is Netflix’s DAREDEVIL… the teaser is over a month old but it’s still cool to see it again. Between Elektra and Punisher, Matt Murdoch’s got his work cut out for him! BRING. IT. ON.
As for the other series, well most of you who know me well should know by now how much I’ve been anticipating Outlander season 2, given how huge my crush is on hunky Frenchman Stanley Weber 😉
So yeah, one of the biggest reasons I look forward for season 2 is Comte St Germain. But I mean seriously, can you blame me? He still looks so damn hot in powdered wig, but I sure hope the producers know how to make the most of his talents. He’s largely unknown in the States but based on what I’ve seen him in so far, he’s SO much more than a pretty face and be both charming AND menacing at the same time. Can’t wait to see that staredown scene between Le Comte and Claire.
What’s YOUR most anticipated returning TV series? …
3. In the next few weeks I hope to do a Top 10 MVP of both male and female performers of 2015 (in a separate list). I might wait until January though so I can see as many new releases as possible. But I have a pretty good idea who would surely make my list based on what I’ve seen so far, these two would certainly make my top 10:
Thank you George Miller for makingMad Max: Fury Roada female-driven film and infused it with the most breathtaking, fun and emotional cinematic ride I’ve seen on the big screen all year. Charlize Theron is so freakin’ bad ass as Furiosa that it’s definitely one of the most memorable female performances of 2015.
Ahhhh Tom Hardy… the scene stealer in practically everything he’s in gets to show his chops playing TWO characters as the Kray Brothers in LEGEND. He’s really the only reason to see the film. Absolutely mesmerizing despite the so-so script, and practically Bond-like as Reggie Kray. Please Broccolis, you’ve GOT to offer him 007 post Daniel Craig!
So if you could just name one male & female MVP of the year, who would they be? ….
4.Now, this question might be an easy or a tricky one. But I hope this topic will spark some discussions amongst you movie lovers.
Do you think 2015 has been a good year for movies? Please let me know your rationale regardless which is your answer. …
The question relates perfectly to the one above, as each of us certainly bring different expectations to certain films. I think for me, given how I feel about the recent Bond movies, I’d think Spectre is one of my biggest disappointments of the year.
With the movie year winding down, what was your biggest movie disappointment of the past year?
Well, that’s it for the year end’s edition of Five for the Fifth, folks. Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all! 😀