Question of the Week: Who’d you pick for Best (or Worst) Casting in 2012?

Since it’s the week of the Oscars, I’ve been preparing my predictions and also an Oscar-edition of Everybody’s Chattin’ series. That’s on schedule for Friday but today I just want to pick your brain a bit today, so hope you’d indulge me.

CastingByDocI just found out about this post from Flavorwire site (thanks to @WordandFilm tweet): New Oscar Categories We’d Like to See — And Who We’d Nominate to Win Them. They have about five different category suggestions, but I really like the Best Ensemble category (like in the SAG Awards) and also honoring Casting Directors in the Best Casting category. I totally agree w/ the article in that “casting directors are the unsung heroes of the industry… The work they do is often key, yet widely devalued and misunderstood.”

From that article, I also learned about this awesome documentary Casting By that highlights the career of Marion Dougherty, who was the first casting director to receive single-card screen credit. Based on the review on IMDb, the film features a bunch of footage of first roles given to future stars, i.e. Warren Beatty, Marlon Brando, and James Dean, who was apparently one of the first actors she had cast.

Now, back to the Best Casting question. If I to take all the casting in 2012 films, obviously some worked out and some didn’t. On the top of my head I think I’d the award to the casting director(s) of Silver Linings Playbook for casting Jennifer Lawrence as an unstable young woman struggling with the loss of her husband.

JenniferLawrenceSLP
Best Casting of 2012?

I just think she’s just perfect in the role, wise beyond her years even though she’s just entered her legal drinking age of 21 when the film was made! I really can’t picture anyone else in the role that could do an equally effective job. Now, I’m sure there are others that have made an excellent casting decision – whoever cast nine-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild obviously has a keen eye for talent. I haven’t seen the film yet though, so can’t say much about her acting.

As for the worst, well I’m going to *honor* Hollywood’s most famous young couple Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart in their roles in Bel Ami and Snow White & The Huntsman, respectively.  I’ve already made my feelings known about the vacant *acting style* of K-Stew in my review. As for Pattinson, he was so ill-fitting and utterly unconvincing as the supposedly seductive and manipulative George Duroy, the protagonist from Guy de Maupassant’s classic novel. It’s even worse seeing him [over]acting opposite real thespians Kristin Scott Thomas and Uma Thurman in the film! I’d think just by casting different [read: more capable and expressive] actors in the leading roles would improve both films significantly!

RPatzKStew_BelAmiSnowWhiteHuntsman
Worst Casting Duo in 2012

Now your turn!

If there were a Best (or Worst) Casting award, which film would you give that award to and for which actor/actress?

Weekend Roundup: Snow White and the Huntsman review

Hope your first June weekend was a good one, folks. I finally made my way to the cinema since The Avengers a month ago. That movie is still box office gold as it still place third this weekend with over $20 mil, so it’s overall worldwide gross now stands at 1.3 Billion, wow, hulk smash all right! The reigning champion is Snow White and the Huntsman which beats expectation with $56 mil, which actually beats the Universal studio’s expectations.

I was quite looking forward to this movie because of Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth’s casting, and the trailer was pretty impressive. Well, did it live up to my expectations? Read on…

SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN

With TWO Snow White movies released within the same year, this one promises to be the grittier and perhaps takes the most liberties with its ‘re-imagined’ version of the fairy tale. Well, one thing for sure this one offers more twists than the curliest branch in its mythical dark forest.

The first part of the ‘origins’ story starts off promisingly. It opens with a beautiful shot of Snow White’s kingdom in the Winter time, and where her beauty and her name comes from. She seems to have merry childhood with his valiant father and beautiful, kindhearted mother. But soon tragedy strikes with the death of her mother and her father being drawn into a peculiar battle, followed by a hasty marriage to an equally mysterious beautiful blond named Ravenna in the form of Charlize Theron.

Unlike in the Disney animated feature, we get somewhat of a back-story of how the evil queen becomes obsessed with her looks and why she is so threatened by Snow White, whom she locks in a dark tower until she reaches adulthood. To her chagrin, her inept brother somehow lets her get away as he’s about to retrieve her for Ravenna. How the frail-looking princess is able to outrun Ravenna’s army is perplexing, but I chug it out to this being a ‘fairy tale’ after all, so anything is possible, ehm.

With the help of a pair of little birds and a white horse conveniently waiting for her to aid her escape, Snow White manages to outrun the evil horsemen riding bareback into the dark forest. Impressive indeed! Good thing she’s got some rugged boots under her dress though, instead of some flimsy slippers like Cinderella’s, as those come quite handy in the muddy and damp environment she now finds herself in. I have to admit I was quite spooked by the scene where Snow White is haunted by visions of a terrifying forest in the animated feature, but it’s nothing compared to the horror our heroine is facing here.

To make matters worse, now Ravenna has hired a Huntsman to track her down. Despite all her powers, she doesn’t seem to have any power in the dark forest, and we’re left to our imaginations as to why that’s so. The Huntsman is no other than Thor, er I mean Chris Hemsworth, who’s now lived as a mischievous drunkard following his wife’s death. But the evil queen gives him an offer he can’t refuse so off he goes to retrieve Snow White. The movie is true to its title in that the seven dwarfs take a backseat to the Huntsman as the protector and mentor of the princess. The movie even hints at something more perhaps, as Prince Charming (Sam Claflin), despite his Legolas-like archery skills, is not given much to do in the entire movie.

Before I get to the um, shortcomings, I have to hand it to newbie director Rupert Sanders [so new he doesn’t even have a bio on IMDb yet!] for making a visually-arresting spectacle. The cinematography is beautiful, offering a stark contrast between a dark and eerie mythical world and that of a bright, enchanting realm where the fairies live. The costumes are spectacular, especially those worn with such exquisite grace by Theron. No surprise as the costume design is done by triple Oscar-winner Colleen Atwood (Alice in Wonderland, Memoirs of a Geisha, Chicago).

But looks alone doesn’t make a movie. And the pretty scenery can’t possibly makes up for the terribly uneven pacing, uninspired acting and gaping plot holes all around, and I’m already setting aside the fact that Ravenna already IS fairer than Snow White! There are too many unexplained circumstances but the biggest one involves a magical white deer with tree branches as antlers. That scene itself is breathtaking to behold and for a while I was quite engrossed in it. It reminds me of the scene where Lucy meets Aslan in the Narnia movie, except that we’re never told just what that deer represents and its significance to the story [scratch head]

Now, the acting. Theron makes for a fierce villainess but her range is not utilized at all as the script only requires her to be a slithering and conniving beauty. She even looks bored in some scenes, all that scenery-chewing surely gets to be laborious after a while. Hemsworth is much more captivating, his character seems to have more depth compared to the rest (though that’s not saying much), plus the Aussie actor has such strong screen presence and undeniable magnetic charisma. He’s the saving grace in the movie for me, and every time he comes on screen, the movie seems to ‘pick up.’

Can’t say the same thing about Kristen Stewart. In fact, the opposite is true. My husband said that she was mediocre in the beginning of the movie and he’d be ok with it as long as she just stays that way. Alas she seems to progress downward as the movie goes on, and the worse part is when she has to give a rousing speech to a flock of people to fight against the evil queen. Ok, I’d be hard pressed to believe Stewart can inspire a four-people book club, let alone an entire village to take back her country! I mean, suspension of disbelief is a given in any movie, but this is just too much. She’s also not believable as a kindhearted princess that everyone is immediately drawn to, as she comes across cold and standoffish most of the time. I’m even more baffled why Stewart is in such a high demand as she seems to only have two forms of expression, one of nervousness and one of sorrow, that’s it. She alternates between those two no matter what scene she’s in.

Last but not least, it’s really a crime to hire some of the best of British actors to play the dwarfs and not give them hardly anything to do. We’re talking about the likes of Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, Toby Jones and Nick Frost, and they’re all practically wasted here. They all seem a surly bunch and there’s no sense of fun other than a couple of wisecracks by Nick Frost.

Final Thoughts: I think if they had cast someone else besides Kristen I’d have been kinder on the movie, but there are some scenes with her that remind me of the Twilight and that’s NOT a good thing at all. At least the visuals keeps it from being a complete waste of time, but I can’t give it a high mark just for that. I’d say my rating is mostly for the visuals, Hemsworth and Theron, in that order 🙂

2.5 out of 5 reels


Have you seen this film? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it and the cast, particularly miss Stewart.

Monthly Roundup: May Movie Watching Recap

Happy June everybody! Summer is officially here, yay! Summer blockbuster months are definitely upon us. I think starting this weekend there’ll be a movie worth seeing on the big screen practically every weekend!

But this month is quite lackluster for me. I only went to the cinema once the entire month, and even catching up on newly-released movies on Blu-ray has been slow. But like the last one, it’s a busy blogging time with no less than three blog-a-thons, as well as some other list-related posts I did. Here are some in case you missed them:

Ok, and here are the [paltry] list of movies I saw this past month…

Movies I haven’t seen before:

Re-watch:
Yes I know, it’s very depressing indeed, especially after seeing Eric’s and Ryan’s lists, I mean just look at all those awesome movies they watched! Hopefully I’ll have more time to watch a lot more movies this month, as this weekend alone I’ll be watching three new films starting with Coriolanus which I watched last night. I can tell you that after waiting nearly two years to see it, I wasn’t disappointed, full review coming next week. This evening we plan to watch Snow White & The Huntsman, and I also got the Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus Blu-ray that my pal Vince lent me. I’ve been curious to see Heath Ledger’s last film.

Favorite May Movie:

Shouldn’t be a surprise to you eh? I still haven’t seen it again a second time, but we might do that once this arrives in the discount theater.


So, how many films did you get to watch this month and what’s your favorite?

Most Anticipated 2012 Movies – Part II (April – June)

The first week of March has come and gone, so it’s time for Part II of this year’s most-anticipated flicks.

Can you believe it I still haven’t seen Coriolanus from my Part I which had been screening all over the world but here in Minnesota!! And one of the movies I listed under March, Gerry Butler’s Playing The Field, is pushed back all the way until Christmas day 😦

January and February have been a super slow movie-watching month for me. I haven’t gone to the cinema for about a month now, but I might venture out this weekend or the next to catch some March releases. So anyway, here are a list of movies that I’m hoping to catch between the months of April – June (release dates are for USA – info from IMDb unless otherwise noted):

APRIL

The Cold Light of Day (April 6)

A young American (Cavill) uncovers a conspiracy during his attempt to save his family, who were kidnapped while on vacation in Spain.

Ok, I gotta admit that if the lead actor wasn’t Henry Cavill this movie might’ve flown right past me. But y’know, the trailer looks pretty good and I like the supporting cast too. Bruce Willis as Henry’s mysterious dad and Sigourney Weaver as the villain. I’m definitely game to see the future Man of Steel in an action-packed International thriller.

… 

Movie 43 (April 13)

I’ve heard about this movie for quite a while, but given that it’s to be released in about a month, there’s barely ANY buzz for it. It’s quite odd since the Farrelly Brothers are fairly well-known and it boasts a spectacular ensemble cast that’ll put the recent ensemble-cast rom-coms like Valentine’s Day or New Year’s Eve to shame. Here’s a sampling in alphabetical order:

Elizabeth Banks, Gerard Butler, Kieran Culkin, Hugh Jackman, Johnny Knoxville, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chloe Moretz, Liev Schreiber, Sean William Scott, Tony Shalhoub, Emma Stone, Matt Walsh, Patrick Warburton, Naomi Watts, and Kate Winslet.

Photo courtesy of http://screenrant.com/

As I mentioned briefly in this post two years ago, this feature film is in the vein of ParisJe t’aime in that it’s comprised of interconnected short comedy segments with multiple directors. Back in February, Collider interviewed the Bobby & Peter Farrelly and Peter gave a glimpse of what the plot is about, which centers on “…two 15-year-old stoners and their 11-year-old egghead brother/computer whiz, who are trying to find the elusive Movie 43. It’s the most banned movie in the world. It was banned in all countries because it’s so subversive. They have heard about it and they are trying to find it on the Internet. They keep breaking into other banned sites and movie archives, and finding these other shorts…”

Leslie Bibb revealed via ComingSoon that she’s playing Wonder Woman and sounds like one of the segments could very well be a spoof of DC’s Justice League… “[In my segment] is me, Jason Sudeikis and Justin Long and Bobby Cannavale and John Hodgman is the Penguin… Cannavale is a jacked up Superman who smokes and we all are these f**ked up superheroes. Like, I’m sleeping with Batman. He won’t call me back. I’m kind of crazy.  Kristen Bell is Supergirl and Uma Thurman is Lois Lane or something. And we’re all just dysfunctional superheroes, like superheroes who can’t get a date. We’re all at this speed dating.

Apparently the movie was made for $5 million, and it’s a hard R. Well naturally, right? I can’t wait to see the trailer for this!
.. 

MAY

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (May 4)

British retirees travel to India to take up residence in what they believe is a newly restored hotel. Less luxurious than its advertisements, the Marigold Hotel nevertheless slowly begins to charm in unexpected ways.

When I first saw the trailer I was just in glee, it just looks so delightful and chock full of my favorite seasoned actors: Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, and that kid from Slumdog Millionaire Dev Patel. Just check out this fun trailer, nice to see these fine thespians looking like they’re having so much fun making this movie.

The Avengers (May 4)

Nick Fury and the international agency S.H.I.E.L.D. bring together a team of super humans to form The Avengers to help save the Earth from Loki & his nefarious army.

Well if you don’t know anything about this one then you probably have been living under a rock. I’ll go out on a limb that this could very well be the Hulk-smash of a hit this coming Summer. Check out the latest trailer if you haven’t already.
… 

Moonrise Kingdom (May 25)

A pair of lovers flee their New England town, which causes a local search party to fan out and find them.

I’m not too familiar with Wes Anderson’s work, apart from The Royal Tennenbaums, but this delightfully hilarious trailer just won me over. It’s so quirky that one just can’t help but be curious enough to find out. The cast is awesome as well, there’s his muses Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman (who happens to be the cousin of this movie’s co-writer Roman Coppola), Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton and Bruce Willis, among others.

Check out the wacky trailer below:

… 

JUNE

Snow White and the Huntsman (June 1)

Out of the two Snow White adaptations battling it out this year, I’m more inclined to see this one on the big screen. I’m still not sold on Kristen Stewart‘s casting but I do love Charlize Theron as the evil queen and Thor’s Chris Hemsworth looks pretty bad ass once again as the huntsman sent to kill the fair princess.

Check out the trailer »

Prometheus (June 8)

A team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race.

There’s been much hullaballoo all over the geekosphere about the connection between this and Ridley Scott’s 1979 sci-fi horror classic. Well I think all the evidence seems to point out that it is indeed a prequel to that movie. I read over at i09 site that Guy Pearce‘s role is the likely connection between the two films. This is what Scott said: “When the first ‘Alien’ movie and ‘Blade Runner’ were made, I thought that in the near future the world will be owned by large companies. This is why we have the Tyrell Corporation in ‘Blade Runner’, and Weyland-Yutani in ‘Alien’. They sent the Nostromo spaceship. The Prometheus is owned by an entrepreneur called Peter Weyland, and is played by Guy Pearce. That’s the connection between the two films, and nothing more. Prometheus is a new film, a new world, and is full of new ideas. And of course new monsters as well.”

Besides Pearce, the cast is full of today’s brightest & easy-on-the-eye talents: Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, and Noomi Rapace. This eerie teaser trailer is marvelously cryptic, giving sci-fi fans enough to salivate over what Mr. Scott has in store.

Pixar’s BRAVE (June 22)

Determined to make her own path in life, Princess Merida defies a custom that brings chaos to her kingdom. Granted one wish, Merida must rely on her bravery and her archery skills to undo a beastly curse.

I think you know by now I’m super excited for the latest Pixar’s movie. I’ve been blogging quite a bit about this movie, so just follow the linkage to check out the poster, US trailer and the Japanese version.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (June 22)

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, discovers vampires are planning to take over the United States. He makes it his mission to eliminate them.

Here’s another case where the casting first caught my attention when Rufus Sewell was cast. But the idea of for this is just so freakishly bizarre that I just had to find out more about it. The first teaser trailer was cut in such blinding speed that you barely see anything but the International Trailer is a bit better and you can also check out the featurette on that post.

It’s got super stiff competition with BRAVE and I doubt it’ll stand a chance against that one at the box office, but I still might catch this on the big screen depending on the reviews.


Well, those are my anticipated list for the next three months. Any one of these on your must-see list?