Oscars 2019 – Reflections on winners, memorable moments

Quick confession: I’m copying this post from 2015. Well whaddayaknow, four years later, I am still loyal to tradition of watching the Oscars in my PJs live tweetin’ with my laptop!!


Well, first things first…

How did I do on my predictions?

  1. Best picture: ROMA Green Book
  2. Best director: Spike Lee Alfonso Cuarón
  3. Best lead actor: Cristian Bale Rami Malek
  4. Best lead actress: Olivia Colman
  5. Best supporting actor: Sam ElliotMahershala Ali 
  6. Best supporting actress: Regina King –If Beale Street Could Talk
  7. Best animated feature: Spiderman: Into The Spider-Verse
  8. Best adapted screenplay: Can You Ever Forgive Me? BlackKklansman
  9. Best original screenplay: The Favourite Green Book
  10. Best original score: Black Panther
  11. Best cinematography: A Star Is Born ROMA (Alfonso Cuarón)
  12. Best Foreign Language Film: Shoplifters ROMA
  13. Best original song: Shallow (A Star Is Born)
  14. Best Film Editing: BlackkKlansman Bohemian Rhapsody
  15. Best Make Up and Hair Styling: VICE
  16. Best Production Design: Black Panther
  17. Best Costume Design: Black Panther
  18. Best Sound Editing: First Man Bohemian Rhapsody
  19. Best Mixing: First Man  First Man Bohemian Rhapsody
  20. Best Visual Effects: Avengers: Infinity War First Man

Well, I did a pretty awful job this year, ahah. I only got 7 right out of the 20 categories I predicted.

The one I’m surprised by the most is Mahershala Ali as his first Best Supporting Actor win was just a few years ago, but hey I’m by no means disappointed.

 

Red Carpet Stuff

I didn’t actually watch this LIVE on TV, just following Twitter for the Oscars red carpet coverage, as I do year after year.

These are some of my favorite dresses of the night:

I LOVE seeing colors on the red carpet. There might be some I missed but of the ones I saw in my timeline, these are the ones that I think are the prettiest.


I feel like Cate Blanchett often wear sea-foam green color on the red carpet and she looks absolutely gorgeous in this floral number. Amy Adams looks like a mermaid in that pearl gown and it highlights her figure nicely. Michelle Yeoh & Angela Bassett both proof you can look perfectly glamorous at any age!

Dapper men on the red carpet!

Well, let’s just get to the main event shall we?

Favorite Speeches:

Olivia’s reaction when she heard her name was priceless… then came her speech. Endearing. Adorable. Humble. Hilarious. Moving. If there’s a Best Speech award, this Queen wins it hands down!

“God is Good ALL the time… and ALL the time, GOD IS GOOD!” – AMEN Regina King!!

I so wanted Ruth Carter to win because I adore every single one of those Black Panther costumes!!!

This is the one category I want A Star Is Born to win… Shallow is a beautiful, emotional song and boy… that Oscar performance was something else!


Fave Moments

Woo wee!! Captain America is my fave hero of the MCU… and Chris Evans is the absolute embodiment of him. Not to mention he’s looking dapper af!! 😉

I literally just watched BlackKlansman last night, just in the nick of time before the Oscars telecast. Thrilled to see it won Best Adapted Screenplay! But that great moment is topped by Spike Lee jumping Samuel L. Jackson on stage before he received his award. Yeah!!!

Confession: It’s only my second Spike Lee movie (yes I gotta rectify that soon, starting with Do The Right Thing!)

Is there a more iconic musical performance duo??

Final Thoughts

I know lots of people are upset with two of the categories… Best Actor (Rami Malek) and Best Picture (Green Book).

Haven’t seen BohemianRhapsody yet but can’t help but really astounded/baffled/ bewildered by Malek’s win. Was hoping anyone but him in this category, especially Bale.

As for Best Picture… well I actually enjoyed Green Book and didn’t learn about the controversies until later. I still stand by that it’s a good movie (it’s on my Top 10 of the year) though after having seen BlacKkKlansman last night, I think that Spike Lee film should’ve won over Green Book!!

We can debate endlessly about who should or more deserving to win, etc., but y’know what, it makes me glad to see the diversity of the winners. Here are four of the acting category winners…

Rami Malek, Olivia Colman, Regina King, Mahershala Ali – Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage

Let’s hope the diversity and inclusion extends to FEMALE FILMMAKERS in the future!! Come on The Academy, there are a plethora of great work by female filmmakers worth to be in the Best Picture category, especially Leave No Trace.

Lastly, about the host-less Oscars… I don’t really miss it, but hey if we have to have a host again, we should have these three funny ladies host next year!


So what’s your thoughts on the 2019 Oscar winners and what’s your pick of best/worst moments?

FlixChatter Review – ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL (2019)

So apparently James Cameron has dreamed of making this movie, an adaptation of Yukito Kishiro‘s “Battle Angel Alita” manga, for over 20 years! It was before he made Titanic in 1997 and Avatar in 2009, and it’s his commitments to the latter that made him relinquish his directing duties to Robert Rodriguez. I have to admit though that my initial reaction to the first trailer was that the huge, Manga-inspired eyes are creepy looking. I read some Manga as a kid (specifically Candy Candy) but in the printed comics, of course they never bothered me, that’s how all Mangas are drawn. But cinematically, they can be quite eerie.

Now, I decided to see the movie anyway, two weeks before it’s open to the public in Feb 14. As it turns out, the eyes didn’t really bother me once the movie starts. It actually didn’t have the ‘cold, dead eyes’ effect like in Polar Express. Of course they can still be a bit disturbing at times, but for a character made up of cyborg parts, she’s pretty lifelike.

There are plenty to like about Alita. In fact, I immediately sympathize with this cyborg creature trying to discover her identity. It’s an action-packed coming-of-age story of a young girl who’s trying to piece together the mystery of who she is. Set in the 26th century, 300 years after ‘the fall’ where ‘the haves’ live in a floating city called Tiphares and the rest down below in Iron City. The story starts when a man found a still ‘living’ severed head in a junkyard, where the Tiphares dumps its trash. I thought Christoph Waltz as her father figure Dr. Dyson Ido is inspired choice, and at first you don’t know if he’s good or bad, which the Austrian actor portrayed really well.

The father/daughter relationship between him and Alita is actually one of my fave parts of the film, and the way Dr. Ido tried to protect her from the new world she’s thrusted into is endearing. It’s once Alita (Rosa Salazar, terrific in her first performance-capture role) discovered rollerball-style game (and also ‘puberty’ it seems) thanks to a boy named Hugo (Keean Johnson) that the action switches into high gear.

Before long, we, along with Dr. Ido and Alita herself, discovers who she really is. It’s not a spoiler as it says right there on the title, she’s a formidable killing machine, basically an ‘angel of death’ despite her seemingly innocent appearance. She’s able to fight a bunch of vicious Hunter-Warriors, sometimes all at once, even a huge one that looks like what Fantastic Four’s The Thing mixed with a Transformer. Knowing that she’s virtually indestructible kind of lessen any sense of suspense, and the more bombastic the fighting scene the less impactful it becomes. The first time we see the gladiatorial game of Motorball in this huge arena filled with cheering crowd was cool, but the second one just feels indulgent in the parts of the filmmakers. Yes, the action and special effects are cool, but it gets tiresome real fast too. In fact, at times it reminds me of all the loud metal clanging of Transformers, which is NEVER a good thing.

I’m not that familiar with Robert Rodriguez’s work, having only seen Desperado and Sin City. I think this movie is as much a James Cameron movie as a Robert Rodriguez one. We’re treated to a video interview with the filmmakers and some of the cast after the movie and it’s clear that Cameron was Rodriguez’s mentor throughout and Rodriguez helped fulfill Cameron’s vision. As we all know, Cameron is a perfectionist, so I doubt there’s really much ‘creative liberties’ the ‘chosen director’ would have if it clashes with Cameron’s vision.

What? You’re not impressed by my Damascus blade? How about my chiseled face?

In any case, it’s no surprise that Cameron, who co-wrote the script with Laeta Kalogridis (Altered Carbon), loves cross-species, star-crossed romances. I kind of roll my eyes every time I see Alita gets all giddy over Hugo, even going so far as giving him his heart, literally! Most of the supposedly-romantic scenes end up being unintentionally hilarious. There are moments that remind me of Titanic, perhaps intentionally so? What’s genuinely funny are the scenes involving Hunter Warrior Zapan (Ed Skrein), a cyborg obsessed with his pretty face, the only ‘fleshed out’ part of his cybernetic being. The tall, lanky British actor relish on his character’s narcissistic vanity. It made me think that he might have imbued a much-needed dose of humor had he been cast in Altered Carbon instead of Joel Kinnaman!

The actual villain of the movie is never actually seen (played by a famous actor we haven’t seen in a while). We only know it lives in Tiphares and could actually ‘possesses’ other beings to communicate with people down below. I feel like Mahershala Ali and Jennifer Connelly are pretty wasted here as their characters are pretty thinly-written. As the protagonist, Alita’s backstory itself isn’t as deeply compelling it could’ve been. It’s a missed opportunity really, as her relationship with Dr. Ido and Connelly’s character Chiren could’ve been explored more. It’s clear the filmmakers focused heavily in the spectacle of it all. After all these years, the technology (thanks to Weta Digital) finally caught up with Cameron’s vision of Alita, at least the way he envisioned to do Kishiro’s world justice. Yet all that money spent (about $200 mil) is kind of hollow when it’s just another ‘style over substance.’ I think science-fiction is the perfect genre for a ‘what does it mean to be human’ commentary, when humans would co-exist together with robots in the future. But unlike sci-fi classics like Blade Runner or Terminator, Alita doesn’t really add anything new to that concept.

Alita going googley-eyed over pretty boy Hugo

Visually speaking, it also didn’t really inspire that sense of wonder the way I did with Cameron’s previous creation Avatar. I recently rewatched that movie and I still had that ‘awe-struck’ reaction when we first saw Pandora in 2009. The floating mountains and that mountain banshee flight sequence still made me go ‘whoa,’ which I never felt while watching Alita. I’m not sure of its replay-ability value as right now, I don’t know if I’m eager to see this movie again nor do I care to see more of Alita’s adventures.

As I never read the Manga books, I’m curious to see the reception from their fans, especially in its native Japan. As a Southeast-Asian blogger, I’m not bothered that they hired a Latina actress to portray Alita as Kishiro supposedly didn’t even set the world of Iron City in Asia, it’s just supposed to be a melting pot type of futuristic dystopian city. I think the cast is quite diverse and the actors get to speak with whatever they’re most comfortable with (Waltz with his Austrian accent, Skrein with his Northern London brogue, etc.) I do think it’s funny that Alita made a comment about the many languages spoken in the city when I never heard of any other language being English being spoken in the movie [shrug].

Should you go see it? Well, if you like a sci-fi action adventure, I’d say it’s well worth seeing on the big screen. I don’t normally like watching 3D movies with those pesky glasses, but the effects and visuals look cool in IMAX 3D as the movie was optimized for such technology. I skipped Ghost in The Shell (just didn’t appeal to me at all) and I think Jupiter Ascending is absolutely rubbish, but this one has enough going for it for me to recommend. Just don’t expect a sci-fi classic or even something emotionally gratifying, just enjoy the ride for the high-octane action adventure that it is.


What do you think of ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL? Are you excited to see it?

Twin Cities Film Fest’s 2018 OPENING NIGHT: Time For Ilhan Documentary & Green Book Reviews

What a day! What a night! It’s the ninth year I’m covering TCFF (yep that’s right, I’ve been with this amazing film fest since its inception) and they’ve done it again. They had not one but TWO opening night film and they’re both amazing! (scroll down to view my brief write-up of Time For Ilhan and Green Book below).

I had an early start this morning and was greeted by a beautiful blue sky in a crisp Autumn day (welcome back sunshine, we’ve missed you!!) I had a chance to hang out with Michael Driscoll, the filmmaker of the gorgeous b&w noir short film Two Black Coffees (which you can read all about it here). He’ll be here for the duration of the fest on his first visit to Minnesota! If you want to see his film, along w/ many other great shorts, be sure to get your tickets to the Thrilling, Tingling Tales on Thursday, 10/25 at 9:15pm.

Wish I still had enough energy to attend the Opening Night party… but it’s already almost 11pm by the time the Green Book screening + Q&A and I still have to do my blogging duties. Well, there’s still 10 more days left at TCFF, it certainly was off to a smashing start!!


TIME FOR ILHAN

“Time For Ilhan” is an eye-opening documentary that follows the 2016 Minnesota House of Representatives campaign of Ilhan Omar, a Somalian immigrant who sets out to unseat a 43-year incumbent and other challengers.

I love when a film title captures the essence of the film so perfectly, and Time For Ilhan is one of those films. Many of you know Ilhan Omar as the first Somali-American legislator elected to office in the United States and there are certainly many ‘firsts’ in regards to her life and career, and what she represents. In fact, one audience member asked her how it feels like to represent not just her Democratic party, but SO much larger than that… that is her Somali-American community, the Immigrant community, her race, Muslim women, and women in politics in a very much white-male-dominated world.

Interestingly though, at the time she was running in the DFL primary for the Minnesota House of Representative, she was running against a 43-year incumbent (Phyllis Kahn, who happens to be a Jewish-American) and a fellow Somali-American Mohamud Noor. Though we know the outcome already (she is now the DFL nominee for U. S. Representative), the film was still quite suspenseful as well as heart-wrenching in the way they depict a political race, especially involving the underdogs.

I appreciate and admire filmmaker Norah Shapiro‘s astute directorial sensibility in making an important film that’s also entertaining to watch. I love that aside from the political campaign, she took the time to show Ilhan’s family life… her playing with her three kids, having dinner with her family and interacting with her supportive Somali-American husband, Ahmed Hirsi. There’s more than just Ilhan the politician, but we see her as a well-rounded, complex, layered individual who has the courage and drive to fight for what she believes in. Additionally, the film also gives insights, especially for people like me who aren’t much into politics, just what goes into campaigning and how intricate that process is.

Naturally, given the nature of Ilhan Omar’s ethnic background and who she represents, this is quite an unprecedented political race that makes for a fascinating documentary. I have to give a shout out to DP Chris Newberry (who’s also the film’s producer) for the wonderful visuals showcasing the beautiful state of Minnesota.

What a treat it was for those attending the TCFF screening to see Ilhan Omar herself up on stage with director Norah Shapiro. She was as cordial and well-spoken as you see her on the media. As a woman of color and US immigrant myself, she certainly inspires me to be courageous and pursue my dream, no matter how seemingly-impossible that is.

Ilhan Omar & Norah Shapiro at TCFF Q&A after the screening

Check out the TCFF red carpet interview with Ilhan Omar:


GREEN BOOK

A working-class Italian-American bouncer becomes the driver of an African-American classical pianist on a tour of venues through the 1960s American South.

I have to say that this film had me hooked right from the poster and the trailer. But when I first saw that the director is Peter Farrelly, I had to do a double take. I mean he’s known for his comedies like Dumb & Dumber, Something About Mary, etc. and I expected this to be a drama. Well, this is one of those films that play with your expectations… and Farrelly certainly succeeds in finding the perfect balance of comedy and drama in capturing a poignant and heart-warming true story.

The film is based on a screenplay written by Nick Vallelonga, who happens to be the son of Tony Lip, one of the two protagonists of the film. It’s a tale of unlikely friendship as they embark on a journey that changes their lives forever. I knew that they had a winner when they cast Viggo Mortensen (a Danish thespian who’s completely believable as an Italian) and the oh-so-regal Mahershala Ali as a Jamaican-American classical pianist Don Shirley, a musical genius. The title refers to an actual book, a road-trip guide to services and places that’s open to Blacks during a time of pervasive racial discrimination. Without giving too much away, the film touches on the reason Shirley chose to do the tours in the Deep South in the 60s, when he could’ve easily chosen to stay relatively safe in the North. I’m not going to write the line here as it’s better for you to discover it for yourself when you watched it. It’s one of the moments I teared up in this film.

The racial injustices Shirley face is a deeply serious subject that’s maddening and heartbreaking, and the film doesn’t shy away from that. Yet there’s a lightness to the film that comes from the script AND the performances of the two actors. Some scenes, like the KFC scene in the car, is a riot. Yet the hilarity doesn’t undermine the gravity of the subject matter. There are many memorable moments where these two extremely-different people clash day in and day out. But much to their surprise, each of those moment actually brought them closer to each other. Each of them is a changed-man after the trip, and that transformation feels real and believable, not at all tacked-on.

It’s the kind of film that sparks conversations about race and economic disparity, even ‘class’ system if you will, without being too heavy-handed. One thing that touches me deeply is how the film depicts loneliness. As they say, it’s ‘lonely at the top’ but it’s even more lonely for those who don’t feel like they belong anywhere. Despite his amazing talents and accomplishments, and also because of it, Don Shirley never felt like he can fit in any racial group, and that’s harrowing to watch. It’s one thing to depict racial inequality by presenting facts, which is all fine and good, but it’s truly a moving experience when it’s told in such a personal level and see how hearts are being transformed by personal relationships.

Producer Jim Burke spoke at the Q&A afterwards and shed a light about some details about the film. One thing that caught my eye in the credits is that Octavia Spencer is listed as Executive Producer. Well, Burke said that she was asked to collaborate given that she grew up in the South during that era, in order to give an authentic depiction of the story. Burke also mentioned that Mahershala Ali gave a lot of input about the ending, which is definitely a memorable one.

Go see this movie when it comes out near you. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, sometimes both at the same time… but one thing for sure, you’ll come away feeling grateful you get to know a little bit about Don Shirley and Tony Lip, and their incredible journey together.


Check out the TCFF red carpet interview with producer Jim Burke:


Any thoughts about the two films I mentioned above? Let’s hear it!

TWIN CITIES FILM FEST announces a star-studded 2018 lineup!

TCFF announces a diverse and inspiring lineup of films for their 2018 festival, to be held October 17-27 at Kerasotes ShowPlace ICON Theatres at The Shops at West End with ICON•X. Coming off of a successful September Gala that honored Steve Zahn with the Lifetime Achievement Award and Rachel Mairose from Secondhand Hounds with the Changemaker Award, this year’s festival will officially open their ninth year with Peter Farrelly’s Green Book (November 21, Participant Media and DreamWorks Pictures).

When Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen), a bouncer from an Italian-American neighborhood in the Bronx, is hired to drive Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali), a world-class Black pianist, on a concert tour from Manhattan to the Deep South, they must rely on “The Green Book” to guide them to the few establishments that were then safe for African-Americans. Confronted with racism, danger—as well as unexpected humanity and humor—they are forced to set aside differences to survive and thrive on the journey of a lifetime.

Green Book recently won the Toronto International Film Festival’s coveted People’s Choice Award this past week! Producer Jim Burke, Academy Award nominee for “The Descendants,” will be attending.

Opening night festivities will also include a screening of Time for Ilhan, a documentary about State Representative and Federal House candidate, Ilhan Omar, who will be in attendance along with director Norah Shapiro and cinematographer Chris Newberry.

The Centerpiece Highlight on Friday, October 19 is the Newport Beach Film Festival hit comedy When Jeff Tried to Save the World starring Jon Heder (“Napoleon Dynamite). Heder and director Kendall Goldberg will be in attendance. United Skates, a documentary about roller skating and a community’s battle to save an underground subculture will close out the festival on October 27, with producer and Minnesota native Tiffany Fisher-Love in attendance.

Other visiting guests this year include David Arquette and Tom Arnold with the U.S. premiere of Saving Flora, the story of a 14-year-old girl who kidnaps an elephant from a circus to take it to a nature reserve, screening on October 22. Chef Andrew Zimmern will also be in attendance on Thursday, October 25 for the Midwest premiere of Chef Flynn, a documentary about a ten-year-old who transformed his living room into a supper club and achieved sudden fame.

TCFF is also thrilled to feature Widows (20th Century Fox) a modern-day thriller from Steve McQueen starring Viola Davis and Liam Neeson, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Fox Searchlight Pictures) starring Melissa McCarthy, Boy Erased (Focus Features) starring Joel Edgerton and Nicole Kidman and The Favourite (Fox Searchlight Pictures) starring Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz.

In addition to their regular programming this year, TCFF is pleased to collaborate with the Jewish Film Festival and the Northstar Science Film Festival, showing a slate of thought provoking films while launching a brand new initiative, TCFF Tech. TCFF Tech is a one-of-a-kind 3-day event spotlighting the impact of technology on social issues, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

I’ll post the complete schedule later with some of my most-anticipated selections!

Tickets are on-sale this weekend for TCFF Members and will be open to the public next week beginning Friday, September 28th, 2018. Ticket prices are $12 for General Admission & $20 for Gala Tickets.

Festival Passes can also be purchased as follows: Silver Pass – $50 (5 pack of non-Gala tickets); Gold Pass – $80 (10 pack of non-Gala tickets); Platinum Pass – $120 (12 pack of non-Gala tickets + 2 Gala tickets); Gala Pass – $100 (6 tickets to any Gala Film); and the All Access Pass – $500 (Guaranteed seat in premiere row at ANY screening +more!).


To learn more about TCFF, events, film submissions or to donate, visit the newly-redesigned twincitiesfilmfest.org

 


Oh and as if great films aren’t enough for the 11-day festivities, check out the amazing lineup of FREE EDUCATIONAL events!!


So yeah, TCFF 2018 can’t come soon enough!

Quick thoughts on Oscars 2017… and that crazy Best Picture mixup!

oscars2017

Well this is the first year where the Oscars almost escaped me… It’s funny, there’s a line that my lead character said in my Hearts Want script, ‘I don’t give a f*** about the Oscars…’ Well, it seems his um, lack of enthusiasm seems to have rubbed off on me a bit. Suffice to say, I’ve just been so preoccupied w/ prepping my short film that I really couldn’t be bothered. In fact I stayed past 1:30 Saturday night making updates to the script. But y’know what, though I’m exhausted I don’t feel tired, I pretty much operate on adrenaline rush these days.

Before I posted about my thoughts on the Oscars though… what a sad news 😦

Ok just a few comments on the red carpet stuff…

bestdressedoscars2017

These three massively talented actors slay ’em at the red carpet!


Well, I think overall the ceremony is pretty boring… and Jimmy Kimmel is annoying generally. I did enjoy that whole bit about bringing a tour bus full of unsuspecting tourists to the Oscars. Especially these moments…

The expressions on these tourists faces are priceless… go Gary from Chicago!!

And can Sunny Pawar host the Oscars with Dev Patel next year?

Ah Taraji… she’s too freakin’ adorable!!

As for the winners…

The Oscars got it right w/ the first acting award of the night…

And finally… a classy, crazy talented lady gets her overdue moment to shine…

Beautiful, emotive lyrics too… so yeah I wish the Audition song instead of City Of Stars had won instead.

Haven’t seen Manchester By the Sea… can’t say I’m all that enthused about it.

Lest we forget…

Yep Denzel… I SO share your sentiment!

Emma’s performance in the Audition scene made me cry… so yeah, I have no problem w/ her winning. And her speech felt real and sweet. Leo presenting her the Oscar made me wonder why they haven’t worked together though.

As for the award of the night…

WOW, you’d never guess what happened!! I mean I saw it w/ my own eyes and I still couldn’t believe it!! Warren Beatty is the new Steve Harvey!!

WHOA!!! Seriously this was the craziest thing I’ve seen at the Oscars… or live TV for that matter! Well, I guess you could say the night ended with a BANG…

But yaaaaasssss!!!! I had always been #TeamMoonlight all award season…

I gotta say though, the La La Land producers, esp. Jordan Horowitz, was a good sport about the whole ordeal. I mean it must’ve been so devastating, not to mention embarrassing, to have started a speech and be told someone else had won!! But hey… in the end the Oscar voters got it right when it comes to Best Picture 😀

Yep, me too Mr. Jenkins. Me too!!


bestpicturemixuposcars2017

Well, I’m glad I tuned in to the Oscars tonight after all… otherwise I wouldn’t have witnessed the battiest Oscar moment in history on LIVE TV!

///

FlixChatter Review: Hidden Figures (2016)

hiddenfigures

Directed by: Theodore Melfi
Written by: Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi
Runtime: 2 hrs 7 minutes

Hollywood loves BOAT, that is, films Based On a True Story, and few are as overdue yet timely as Hidden Figures. Based on the nonfiction book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly, it tells the story of a team of African-American women who worked at NASA and their integral roles in helping the U.S. advance during the Space Race during the Cold War era. Billed as ‘human computers,’ these women are the quintessential unsung heroes with an inspirational and important story to tell.

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Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe star as Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson respectively. A trifecta of massively talented Black actresses who brought wit, grace and humor to their roles. The film is at times harrowing to watch and it made me sad and angry at the appalling treatments of Black people, especially women, during a time when racial segregation was still legally enforced in the country. The fact that this happened merely 50 some years ago literally gives me chills. Yet the film never descended into somber or depressing territory, but it was brimming with a defiant but hopeful spirit throughout.

Right from the opening scene when their car broke down and they had to deal with the white cop who arrived to question them instead of offering to help, there’s a lighthearted tone to the film. It’s not that the filmmakers are making light of the situation however, in fact, this is a crowd-pleasing film that’s told with equal amusement and gravitas. Even during a key scene where Katherine had to walk half a mile one way just to go to the colored bathrooms, drink from a separate coffee kettle marked ‘colored’ and endure constant belittlement from her colleagues, the film never felt too heavy-handed or overly-sentimental. There’s also the moment Dorothy was kicked out of the Virginia public library for venturing out of the ‘colored’ section. Spencer’s Dorothy remained dignified and defiant as she rode home on the bus with her young boys.

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It’s hard to pick a favorite out of the three female protagonists, as they’re all excellent and given an equally compelling character arc. Henson’s Katharine seemed to have the largest arc of the three and it’s such a joy to watch her in the role. She had to act several scenes writing complex mathematical formula on a board in a single long take, and she managed to do it effortlessly and believably. All three women were convincing in their roles, their portrayals felt real instead of simplistic caricatures. The memorable male characters are Kevin Costner as the director of the Space Task Group, Mahershala Ali as Katharine’s love interest and Glen Powell as John Glenn. None of them ever overshadowed the women, but adds a perspective of the gender/racial issues of the time. On a side note, this movie made me curious to check out The Right Stuff now which chronicles the space race.

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I’m glad I waited to do my top 10 list until January as this film merits a spot on there. Boasting beautiful cinematography by Mandy Walker and rousing music by Benjamin Wallfisch, Pharrell Williams and Hans Zimmer, film also looks AND sounds great. It’s an important film to be sure, but also a well-written and well-acted piece that’s as inspiring as it is entertaining. It made me laugh and cry, with an ending that made me want to get up and cheer. I certainly don’t mind watching this again.

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Have you seen Hidden Figures? What did you think?

Award season chat: Musings on 2017 Golden Globes Nominations

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Award season is in full swing! There are a plethora of awards already announced, but in years past, I normally only talk about a few of them, SAG, Golden Globes and of course, the Oscars. By the time I got to Twitter on Monday morning, people were already chiming in on their thoughts on the noms. It’s no surprise that La La Land and Moonlight are frontrunners, with seven and six nods, respectively.

Well, I had planned on going to see Jackie tonight but I had to cancel as it’ll snow again this afternoon… and my week has been filled to the brim so tonight is the only night I could actually be home and do some household chores. But I am seeing La La Land tomorrow night, followed with Rogue One on Wednesday.

The head-scratching nom last year was The Martian being nominated under Musical/Comedy category. This year, it seems like the nomination of Aaron Taylor-Johnson in Nocturnal Animal (whilst Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Shannon were both snubbed) seems puzzling to me, just based on the reviews I’ve read so far.

Anyway, here’s the full noms of the 74th annual Golden Globe Awards… and my short commentary on who I’m rooting for (in bold)… mostly on the FILM categories as I barely watch any TV (hoping to catch Westworld soon!):

Best Motion Picture – Drama:

“Hacksaw Ridge”
“Hell or High Water”
“Lion”
“Manchester by the Sea”
“Moonlight”

moonlightmovie
As you’ve read in my glowing review, Moonlight is the one I’ll be rooting for all the way to the Oscars! I’m so 100% behind that film. A masterpiece of filmmaking, tackling a subject rarely seen in such a graceful, elegant and emotionally heart-wrenching way. It’ll be tough to beat that one as of now, even with a handful of other award contenders I have yet to see.

I so want this film to win not because it’d somehow *make up for* the #OscarSoWhite controversy last year, but because the outstanding work absolutely merits it.

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy:

“20th Century Women”
“Deadpool”
“La La Land”
“Florence Foster Jenkins”
“Sing Street”

Where is Hunt For the Wilderpeople?? I’d nominate that over Florence Foster Jenkins or Sing Street. I’ve finished my review of Wilderpeople and that’s one of the rare 5/5 rating I’ve given in a long time. I don’t know which from the list I’d root for, I’ll update it after I see La La Land tomorrow night.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama:

Casey Affleck – “Manchester by the Sea”
Joel Edgerton – “Loving”
Andrew Garfield – “Hacksaw Ridge”
Viggo Mortensen – “Captain Fantastic”
Denzel Washington – “Fences”

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This is Viggo’s third Globes nomination. Boy I can’t believe he hasn’t won a single one!! I sure hope his well, fantastic performance in Captain Fantastic finally earns him one this time around. I’m sure glad Edgerton’s got recognized for his quiet, soulful performance in Loving.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama:

Amy Adams – “Arrival”
Jessica Chastain – “Miss Sloane”
Isabelle Huppert – “Elle”
Ruth Negga – “Loving”
Natalie Portman – “Jackie”

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This is Adams’ seventh Globes noms and she’s won two. There’s some tough competition here, especially from Natalie Portman, but I’d love to see Adams nabs the statue. Glad to see Chastain being recognized for her confident, powerhouse performance in Miss Sloane.

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

Colin Farrell – “The Lobster”
Ryan Gosling – “La La Land”
Hugh Grant – “Florence Foster Jenkins”
Jonah Hill – “War Dogs”
Ryan Reynolds – “Deadpool”

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Wow Jonah Hill again?? I like Reynolds, Grant and Farrell out of the ones I have seen, but I’m definitely rooting for Farrell for his understated but hilarious performance in The Lobster. I’d have loved to see the film recognized, and it could pretty much fit in either drama or comedy.

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

Annette Bening – “20th Century Women”
Lily Collins – “Rules Don’t Apply”
Hailee Steinfeld – “The Edge of Seventeen”
Emma Stone – “La La Land”
Meryl Streep – “Florence Foster Jenkins”

Heh, I have only seen Streep’s performance so far, which I knew for sure will nab a nomination. After all she’s gonna pick up the Cecil B. Demille award. Now I don’t know if that means it lessens or increase her chance of winning in the individual award category, but I don’t really care for her winning again to be honest.

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

Mahershala Ali – “Moonlight”
Jeff Bridges – “Hell or High Water”
Simon Helberg – “Florence Foster Jenkins”
Dev Patel – “Lion”
Aaron Taylor-Johnson – “Nocturnal Animals”

Mahersala Ali
Mahershala Ali is one of my fave talent discoveries of 2016, so you bet I’m rooting for him!! I also adore Helberg’s and Patel’s performances, nice to see Patel being recognized for his rare dramatic performance.

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

Viola Davis – “Fences”
Naomie Harris – “Moonlight”
Nicole Kidman – “Lion”
Octavia Spencer – “Hidden Figures”
Michelle Williams – “Manchester by the Sea”

Naomie Harris
I’m so impressed w/ the entire ensemble cast of Moonlight, so I’m glad Naomie got a nod! To think that she did this role during the undoubtedly glamorous press tour of the mega-budgeted Bond flick Spectre. She’s virtually unrecognizable (who’d believe she’s Money Penney!), but it’s not just the looks, but it’s a deeply-emotional performance that makes this indie gem shines.

Best Director – Motion Picture:

Damien Chazelle – “La La Land”
Tom Ford – “Nocturnal Animals”
Mel Gibson – “Hacksaw Ridge”
Barry Jenkins – “Moonlight”
Kenneth Lonergan – “Manchester by the Sea”

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Ah, so it seems Gibson’s officially back on Hollywood’s good graces again? Well, I think based on how I feel about Moonlight, it should be no surprise who I’m rooting for. An impressive sophomore feature film effort from Jenkins, I sure hope he continues to make movies.

Best Screenplay:

“La La Land”
“Nocturnal Animals”
“Moonlight”
“Manchester by the Sea”
“Hell or High Water”


I’m gonna sound like a broken record here but I’m rooting yet again for Moonlight. It’s a coming-of-age drama with a real emotional punch. That revelation of adult Chiron in the end killed me… I literally gasped and sobbed in that scene. A great screenplay has the ability convey strong emotions with little words spoken. I aspire to be able to write that well one day.

Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language:

“Divines” – France
“Elle” – France
“Neruda” – Chile
“The Salesman” – Iran/France
“Toni Erdmann” – Germany

Sadly I have not seen any of these 😦 I missed the press screening of Elle as it was at 10 o’clock in the morning. It’s too dark a film to see so early in the day anyway, but I’m so curious to see it.

Best Motion Picture – Animated:

“Kubo and the Two Strings”
“Moana”
“My Life as a Zucchini”
“Sing”
“Zootopia”

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I missed Kubo and the Two Strings and gonna miss the press screening of SING as well, as it conflicts with another film. But I adore Zootopia, so I guess right now that’s what I’m rooting for. Judy Hopps FTW! 🙂

Best Original Song – Motion Picture:

“Can’t Stop the Feeling” – “Trolls”
“City of Stars” – “La La Land”
“Faith” – “Sing”
“Gold” – “Gold”
“How Far I’ll Go” – “Moana”

Hmmm, where’s Shakira’s Try Everything from Zootopia? It’s actually written by SIA and it’s a really fun, catchy tune that fits nicely w/ the film’s topic. I have a feeling I’d enjoy the music of La La Land though, just based on some of the featurettes and trailers I’ve seen so far.

Best Original Score – Motion Picture:

Nicholas Britell– “Moonlight”
Justin Hurwitz – “La La Land”
Johann Johannsson – “Arrival”
Dustin O’Halloran, Hauschka – “Lion”
Hans Zimmer, Pharrell Williams, Benjamin Wallfisch – “Hidden Figures”

Wow, I had no idea Hans Zimmer is one of the co-writers of Hidden Figures! I can’t wait to see that in January. Well, my fave here that I remember most is Moonlight. For some reason I didn’t really remember much of Arrival‘s score, I should definitely take a listen again as I LOVE Johannsson’s work in Sicario.

Best Television Series – Drama:

“The Crown”
“Game of Thrones”
“Stranger Things”
“This Is Us”
“Westworld”

strangerthings
Can’t really comment on any of these as I’ve only seen Stranger Things. I don’t know if it’s the BEST of the bunch but sure glad it’s got a nod.

Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy:

“Atlanta”
“Black-ish”
“Mozart in the Jungle”
“Transparent”
“Veep”

Haven’t seen any of these.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama:

Rami Malek – “Mr. Robot”
Bob Odenkirk – “Better Call Saul”
Matthew Rhys – “The Americans”
Liev Schreiber – “Ray Donovan”
Billy Bob Thornton – “Goliath”

rhysamericans
I actually have only seen a handful of episodes of season 1 of The Americans. But I was so impressed w/ Rhys’ performance and he’s generally a massively-underrated actor anyway. So even though I think Malek’s terrific in his breakout role in Mr. Robot, I feel like Rhys’ work as a Russian spy deserves equal recognition. Malek’s won an Emmy already though, so he probably wins this one as well.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama:

Caitriona Balfe – “Outlander”
Claire Foy – “The Crown”
Keri Russell – “The Americans”
Winona Ryder – “Stranger Things”
Evan Rachel Wood – “Westworld”

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Wow, talk about a comeback role for Winona Ryder! I feel like she’s either scared or worried in the entire show though, but I guess it’s a memorable performance. I personally would like to see Keri Russell win in The Americans. How awesome would it be if the pair playing married KGB spies win ’em this year!

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy:

Anthony Anderson – “Black-ish”
Gael García Bernal – “Mozart in the Jungle”
Donald Glover – “Atlanta”
Nick Nolte – “Graves”
Jeffrey Tambor – “Transparent”

Can’t comment here as I haven’t seen any of the performances. Never even heard of Graves before, either.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy:

Rachel Bloom – “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”
Julia Louis-Dreyfus – “Veep”
Sarah Jessica Parker – “Divorce”
Issa Rae – “Insecure”
Gina Rodriguez – “Jane the Virgin”
Tracee Ellis Ross – “Black-ish”

Ditto in this category, though I have seen a few episodes of Veep and Louis-Dreyfus is such a hoot!

Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television:

“American Crime”
“The Dresser”
“The Night Manager”
“The Night Of”
“The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”

Gah, I really want to see The Night Manager and The Night Of!! Been hearing great things about both.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television:

Riz Ahmed – “The Night Of”
Bryan Cranston – “All The Way”
Tom Hiddleston – “The Night Manager”
John Turturro – “The Night Of”
Courtney B. Vance – “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”

hiddlesvsahmed

Again no comment here, but nice to see Brits Hiddles and Ahmed in the same category (their shows’ titles sound so similar too!). I’m really glad to see Ahmed getting more recognition (especially after Rogue One). Been a fan of his since The Reluctant Fundamentalist.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television:

Felicity Huffman – “American Crime”
Riley Keough – “The Girlfriend Experience”
Sarah Paulson – “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”
Charlotte Rampling – “London Spy”
Thandie Newton – “Westworld”

Can’t comment on the performances yet, but I find it baffling that Newton is nominated here under the ‘Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television’ category, whilst Evan Rachel Wood is nominated under ‘Television Series – Drama’ Huh?? Again, bonkers categorization of the HFPA.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television:

Olivia Colman – “The Night Manager”
Lena Headey – “Game Of Thrones”
Chrissy Metz – “This Is Us”
Mandy Moore – “This Is Us”
Kerry Washington – “Confirmation”

oliviacolman
I haven’t even seen The Night Manager yet but I’m already rooting for Olivia Colman! She’s another underrated actor I wish would get more recognition. I LOVE her in Broadchurch in which she won a BAFTA for Best Leading Actress.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television:

Sterling K. Brown – “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”
Hugh Laurie – “The Night Manager”
John Lithgow – “The Crown”
Christian Slater – “Mr. Robot”
John Travolta – “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”

Wow, Slater again for Mr. Robot? Yes it’s a good performance but is it that good? He already won one for the same show last year, so I would like to see someone else win in this category.


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Quick thoughts on Snubs and Surprises:

  • Surprised to see Martin Scorsese‘s SILENCE got snubbed. It sounds like one of those films the HFPA and Academy would be into, especially given it’s a Scorsese’s picture, too. I guess one of the biggest surprises is seeing Mel Gibson‘s name… and Aaron Taylor-Johnson‘s (as I’ve mentioned above).
  • Seeing Simon Helberg‘s name up there is a pleasant surprise though, he’s such a hoot in Florence Foster Jenkins!
  • Boy I feel like it’s been ages since Deadpool came out, but I’d think it warrants its nom in the comedy category. It sure has been a good year for Ryan Reynolds!
  • I know lots of people are dismayed not seeing Tom Hanks nominated for Sully, but really the man has won numerous accolades over his career. I’m not saying he wouldn’t be deserving it, but sounds like there are some really strong performances in that category as it is.
  • Hmmm, no Michael Keaton in The Founder? There’s virtually zero buzz for that film, too.
  • Based on what I’ve seen even in the trailers, Taraji P. Henson killed it in Hidden Figures. Looks like an extremely different role from her hit TV show EMPIRE.
  • Last but definitely not least, as Vulture astutely pointed out, where’s the female-led films?? They’re all pretty much snubbed in the drama categories… I mean, not even Arrival?? I’m no Gibson hater but is Hackshaw Ridge better than Arrival? Really?Snubbing both Jackie AND Hidden Figures… I agree w/ this sentiment “For the HFPA to snub two films that center on pivotal women in American history, in favor of hypermasculine narratives, feels especially icky this year.” 😦

Well, what are your thoughts on the Golden Globes nominations? Let’s hear it!