Counting down to 87th Academy Awards – Winner Predictions + various Oscar tidbits

Happy Oscar Weekend everybody! To those who give a ballyhoo about Oscars or award season in general, hang in there, award season is almost over 😉

I usually feel like Oscar ceremony sneaked up on me, but this year I’m glad it’s finally here! Part of it is really so we can all move on, but I’m also curious who’d finally win the top honors. It’s the cinematic Superbowl, the one big *sporting* event for those who don’t care about sports, such as yours truly. It’s an amusing diversion really, so I never get too riled up when things don’t go my way [as is often the case]. Mild rants are warranted though, and that’s just part of the fun & frivolity of it all.

I was scouring the interweb and found some nifty Oscar-related stuff, so I thought I’d share ’em before I get to my predictions.

Check out THR’s illustrative cover with all the Best Picture nominees done in Oscar statuette’s style.

THR_OscarCover

 

THR has been running the Brutally Honest Oscar Ballot series, revealing a glimpse into a few of the Academy voters’ thoughts on the race.


My favorite Oscar expert in the blogosphere, Josh @ Cinematic Spectacle posted 10 Things to Know Before the Oscar Ceremony


So apparently they’re making an Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in L.A.? Check out the building rendering here. IMDb presents a special look at Oscar history in support of that upcoming museum:


 Now this is pretty mind-boggling stuff. The Wall Street Journal posted this INTERACTIVE MAP of the major Oscar nominees. Basically it shows data of social media (mostly Facebook) conversation about the nominated films, actors and actresses and which movies and people are winning the FB Oscar “conversation” from Jan. 1 to Feb. 16.

If they were the Oscar voters, American Sniper and Bradley Cooper would’ve won by a landslide!

OscarInteractiveMap


If you’re like me and you haven’t seen ALL of the Best Picture nominees yet, well, Mashable has this handy guide as to WHERE to catch up with 7 essential films.


OscarPredictions

Well, with only 24 hours to go, I still have three more films I haven’t seen yet from the Best Picture nominees. I wanted to see Whiplash but it’s not available to rent yet on iTunes, so we saw The Theory of Everything instead. In any case, here are my predictions:

Best Picture
American Sniper
Birdman
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Selma
The Theory of Everything
Whiplash

Who will win: Boyhood
Who should win: Birdman
Ok so I haven’t seen Boyhood yet but I really have a hard time imagining that it’d top Birdman for me.

Best Director
Alexandro G. Iñárritu – Birdman
Richard Linklater – Boyhood
Bennett Miller – Foxcatcher
Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Morten Tyldum – The Imitation Game

Who will win: Richard Linklater
Who should win: Alexandro G. Iñárritu
Ok so Linklater’s effort was incredibly ambitious so I have to give him kudos for that. But what Iñárritu did is just as unconventional and spectacularly creative.

Best Actor
Steve Carell – Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper – American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton – Birdman
Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything

Who will win: Eddie Redmayne
Who should win: Michael Keaton
Ok I’m glad I finally saw Redmayne’s performance last night and he was impressive. Yet I’m still rooting for Keaton for many reasons. One of them is the fact that his role is the only one that’s not based on a real person and yet he’s able to create such an affecting and authentic performance.

Best Actress
Marion Cotillard – Two Days One Night
Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore – Still Alice
Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon – Wild

Who will win: Julianne Moore
Who should win: Rosamund Pike

Best Supporting Actor
Robert Duvall – The Judge
Ethan Hawke – Boyhood
Edward Norton – Birdman
Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons – Whiplash

Who will & should win: J.K Simmons
If Simmons is as good as everyone’s been saying – and the praise seems unanimous –then he ought to win. He’s done such great work in his career in various supporting roles. However, I can’t lie that I wish either Ruffalo or Norton would get it.

Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette – Boyhood
Laura Dern – Wild
Keira Knightley – The Imitation Game
Emma Stone – Birdman
Meryl Streep – Into the Woods

Who will win: Patricia Arquette
Who should win: Anyone but Meryl please! Other than that, I think Keira Knightley did a smashing job and 2015 has been quite a year for her playing against-type roles.

Best Cinematography
Emmanuel Lubezki – Birdman
Robert Yeoman – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski – Ida
Dick Pope – Mr. Turner
Roger Deakins – Unbroken

Who will & should win: Emmanuel Lubezki
Poor Mr. Deakins, the Susan Lucci of cinematographers with 12 nominations and not a single win yet. But what Lubezki did in Birdman is so magnificent and inventive.

Best Adapted Screenplay
American Sniper
The Imitation Game
Inherent Vice
The Theory of Everything
Whiplash

Who will win: The Theory of Everything
Who should win: The Theory of Everything
Having just seen this last night, I do think Anthony McCarten did an excellent job adapting Jane Hawking’s memoir.

Best Original Screenplay
Birdman
Boyhood
Foxcatcher
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Nightcrawler

Who will & should win: Birdman
No contest here, it’s one of the most imaginative stories in recent memory.

Best Make Up and Hair Styling
Foxcatcher
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Guardians of the Galaxy

Who will win: Foxcatcher
Who should win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
They certainly did an amazing job w/ Steve Carell’s face in Foxcatcher but I didn’t care for the makeup for Ruffalo and Tatum there. ‘Grand Budapest’ did a stellar job overall IMO.

Best Original Score
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Interstellar
Mr. Turner
The Theory of Everything

Who will win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Who should win: The Imitation game
I LOVE both Alexandre Desplat’s scores this year, but I give The Imitation Game a slight edge as it perfectly captures both the intelligence and the emotional aspect of the story.

Best Original Song
“Everything Is Awesome” from The Lego Movie
“Glory” from Selma
“Grateful” from Beyond the Lights
“I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me
“Lost Stars” from Begin Again

Who will win: Glory
Who should win: Lost Stars
As Selma has no chance in winning Best Picture, it’s very likely the Academy would give this win as a *consolation* prize.

Best Animated Feature
Big Hero 6
The Boxtrolls
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Song of the Sea
The Tale of Princess Kaguya

Who will win: Song of the Sea
Who should win: Big Hero 6
I’m torn between How to Train Your Dragon 2 and Big Hero 6, I’d be happy with either win.

Best Production Design
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Interstellar
Into the Woods
Mr. Turner

Who will & should win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Visual Effects
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Guardians of the Galaxy
Interstellar
X-Men: Days of Future Past

Who will win: Interstellar
Who should win: Interstellar

Best Documentary
Citizenfour
Finding Vivien Maier
Last Days of Vietnam
The Salt of the Earth
Virunga

Who will win: Citizenfour
Who should win: Citizenfour

Best Costume Design
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Inherent Vice
Into the Woods
Maleficent
Mr. Turner

Who will & should win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

 


So what do you think of these Oscar tidbits and predictions, folks?

2014 Recap: Top 10 Best + 5 Worst Movies of the Year

Top10Movies2014

Well, well, well, it’s that time of the year again where us film bloggers agonize in making these Top 10 list. Yes, agonize is not a hyperbole as it’s REALLY quite an arduous task not only selecting which 10 films would make the list, but also ranking them. But once I decided on my top three, ranking the other seven was a bit easier to do. I did make a Top 10 list from the first half of 2014, and it’s interesting to see which ones stay on the list and which ones are now relegated to my Honorable Mentions.

The same with the previous years, when I say ‘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. The [dis]honor of the WORST films of the year is at the end of the BEST list.

Ok well, without further ado… I present you …

10 BEST FILMS OF 2014

10. The LEGO Movie

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Everything is awesome! And still is. This is actually one of three animated features I absolutely LOVE from last year, but I decided I only wanted to include just ONE. The LEGO Movie wins by a narrow margin, beating out How To Train Your Dragon 2 and Big Hero 6 to make it to my main list. It really comes down to Emmet being such an adorably goofy protagonist, surrounded by spin-off-worthy supporting cast like Lego Batman and Good Cop/Bad Cop, it’s really a fantabulous geekstravaganza that would likely hold up with repeated viewings. Plus, that music is simply, well, awesome! That unabashedly vivacious song makes my Top 5 Songs of the year as well. (full review)

9. The Grand Budapest Hotel

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This is the first Wes Anderson movie that ever made it to my Top 10 of the year list, so I guess you could say it’s now my favorite of his collection. It captivated me from the opening scene all the way until the end and it’s more fast-paced than his previous films. But of course it has all the things you expect from Wes: the quirky characters, the perfect symmetry of every single scene, playful music, etc. The ensemble cast is wonderful once again, led by Ralph Fiennes in a rare comedic role who’s an absolute blast to watch. I also enjoy F. Murray Abraham and newcomer Tony Revolori as Zero Mustafa, the ever-so-resourceful & loyal lobby boy. Mischievously whimsy, but with heart. Like a charming hotel, it’s one I wouldn’t mind revisiting again and again. (full review)

8. The Imitation Game

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This is no doubt one of my favorite films at last year’s Twin Cities Film Fest. It won a TCFF 2014 Awards for Best Feature Film and both Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley also won acting honors. It’s a biopic on Alan Turing, a mathematician whose pivotal role in cracking the enigma code during WWII helped the Allies won the war against the Nazis. It’s an important film to be sure, boasted by a fantastic all-British cast led by a terrific Cumberbatch as the unsung hero. Though it may be a bit formulaic and by-the-numbers (pardon the puns), it’s still a highly entertaining, as well as emotionally-poignant film that stays with me after the closing credit. In a year of great ensemble-cast films, this is no doubt one of my favorites. I especially love Mark Strong & Matthew Goode here, two underrated performers who ought to get more leading roles of their own.

7. Citizenfour

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I only saw a few documentaries last year but this is the one that stuck with me the most. It seems like ages ago when we’re introduced to the name Edward Snowden, and since then some see him as either a traitor or a hero. Filmmaker Laura Poitras got an unprecedented access to one of the first of many meetings between reporter Glenn Greenwald (who at the time worked for The Guardian) and Snowden in a Hong Kong hotel room. It’s more of an eyewitness type documentary, allowing us the viewer to be a fly-on-the-wall so to speak as Snowden revealed the mechanics of those NSA intelligence leak. I remember vividly when his first photo was broadcasted all over the media and here we saw him wearing the exact same brown-ish shirt he wore for that shot. The doc may contain what’s seemingly mundane series of events of people talking in a hotel room, but it was utterly engrossing to me. It’s the implication of those conversations, and what it means to the central character and all of us who’s watching it that makes the scenes all the more captivating.

6. Selma

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“Selma is at once a peek into the past and a snapshot of the present.” I like the title of this AVClub review because it sums up the film perfectly. I’m glad there’s finally a big-screen adaptation of Martin Luther King’s story, but I’m glad this film isn’t a conventional biopic. Instead, director Ava DuVernay and writer Paul Webb effectively focused on the pivotal event of his life and made this more about the collective struggle for voting rights. Much has been said about the historical inaccuracies about Lyndon B. Johnson’s portrayal, which isn’t the first time liberties are taken on films based on real-life events. But I think apart from that, this is a powerful and gripping film, uncomfortably tense at times, especially during the Bloody Sunday sequence. The issue of police brutality couldn’t be more timely considering the events in Ferguson and NYC, which makes it all the more poignant and heart-wrenching. David Oyelowo embodied the role of King, convincing in both the fiery moments of his speeches, as well as the quieter moments with his wife (portrayed brilliantly by Carmen Ejogo).

5. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

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I haven’t re-watched this film since I saw it back in July, yet I still remember much about how I felt about the main character, Caesar. The fact that he’s not even a human being says a lot about how good the character development of the last two ‘Apes’ films and this sequel took us a step further into Caesar’s journey. The ‘king of mo-cap acting’ Andy Serkis once again delivered a phenomenal portrayal of the apes leader. His eyes convey so much that they’re practically hypnotic. Director Matt Reeves created a suspenseful & atmospheric piece here that’s immediately engrossing. At times it’s so sinister and eerie that I felt like I was watching a horror film, as well as genuinely poignant moments that tug my heartstrings. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is not just one of the best offerings of the Summer, but of the entire year. It succeeds because the special effects punctuates and supports the story/character instead of the other way around. (full review)

4. Belle

Belle_4

I feel like a broken record when it comes to miss Gugu Mbatha-Raw, but she’s truly one of the best talent discoveries in a good long while. She’s the heart and soul of this film, displaying a nuanced and charismatic performance in nearly every scene. I’m also glad to have discovered director Amma Assante, who shows such dexterity in her sophomore feature, crafting a beautifully layered and affecting historical drama. There are so many things to love here, and after having seen this four times already, I’m still mesmerized. Visually it’s just a stunning film, the gorgeous lighting brings out the best of the costumes, set pieces, etc. But it’s the rich, engrossing story and brilliant performances by the all-British cast that make this such a rewarding film to see over and over. (full review)

3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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I knew this film would make my final Top 10 from the first time I watched it. This is another movie on this list I’ve seen more than twice and I still absolutely loved it! It’s one of the rare sequel that easily surpasses the the first one. Billed as a ’70s political thriller masquerading as a superhero movie’, The Winter Soldier delivers on that promise and gives us something that’s genuinely intriguing and massively entertaining. It’s filled with adrenaline-pumping geek-gasm scenes without being banal or vapid. Chris Evans‘ much more confident in the role which makes him even more watchable, and Robert Redford + Anthony Mackie are great additions to an already-fantastic cast. This one has become my favorite Marvel stand-alone feature and Cap my favorite Marvel superhero! (full review)

2. Gone Girl

GoneGirl_2

It’s a testament of a great film when it clocks in at 2.5 hours and it went by like a breeze. Dark, twisted, stylish, and even mesmerizing, Gone Girl is one of those movies that play like a thrilling roller coaster ride. Instead of a straight who-dun-it type of thriller, David Fincher and writer Gillian Flynn made this more of a psychological character study of a couple in a crumbling marriage that turns more sinister by the minute. Rosamund Pike was nothing short of amazing as the year’s certifiable female anti-hero you love to hate. She gave an intense and haunting performance that’s absolutely Oscar-worthy. Props to Fincher and Flynn for making a story that might not translate well to film into something cinematic, gripping and wildly entertaining. (full review)

1. Birdman

Birdman_1

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. The use of the continuous long takes helps tell the story in such a unique and immersive way that completely absorbs you. But the story itself is rich and full of thought-provoking allegory, brought to life by Alejandro González Iñárritu‘s adept direction. It’s one of those rare films where style actually meets substance, as the story brilliantly blends fantasy & reality, drama & comedy in a way that can be both deep as well as entertaining. It has its darker and even vulgar moments I don’t typically embrace, but it never overpowers the protagonist’s journey, which is the heart of the story. On top of all that is the phenomenal performances across the board, led by Michael Keaton in the lead role, one that I’ll been rooting for the entire award season. (full review)

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Some of these movies were actually in my Top 10 list of the first half of 2014. I marked those with an * (asterisk), this time I’m NOT ranking these, so they’re listed in alphabetical order:

  1. Begin Again
  2. Big Hero 6
  3. Chef
  4. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them
  5. Edge of Tomorrow*
  6. Foxcatcher
  7. Guardians of the Galaxy
  8. The Grand Seduction*
  9. How To Train Your Dragon 2*
  10. The Hundred Foot Journey
  11. John Wick
  12. Locke*
  13. The Machine*
  14. Time Lapse
  15. X-Men: Days of Future Past*

What I missed from 2014:

Boyhood, Calvary, Ida, Mr. Turner, Nightcrawler, Only Lovers Left Alive, Theory of Everything, Still Alice, Under the Skin, and Whiplash.


Top5WorstMovies2014

Now, I wish I could get my 2+ hours back from each of these awful movies! Ok I saw most of these at press screening, so thankfully I didn’t have to pay for them, but still they’re such a waste of my time. Avoid these if you can help it, consider yourself warned.

Bullets Dodged:

Glad I missed some terrible ones like  I Frankenstein, Pompeii, Blended, Transcendence, The Best of Me, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, etc.


So that’s my Best/Worst list of 2014. Thoughts on my picks here? I’d love to hear it!

Top 10 Movies from the first half of 2014

top10_2014_firsthalf

It’s been about three weeks since we passed the halfway mark of 2014, so I figure I should get this list up before the end of July. As I did the previous years, I’m including some films that might’ve opened internationally prior to 2014, but I’m including them here as I’m using the USA release dates (either wide or limited releases). These are movies that I consider 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 a big factor but it doesn’t account as high as the other virtues I’ve mentioned, because some of the films here are more of a one-time-viewing-only types (for me anyway), but I still very much appreciate the artistry and passion that goes into making them.

So without further ado, I present to you my TOP 10 list (in reverse order):

10. The Grand Seduction (full review)

TheGrandSeductionStills

I almost missed seeing this one at the MSPIFF earlier this year but I’m glad I was able to catch the second screening. I had a lot of fun with this one and I’d be happy to watch this again at some point. You can always count on Brendan Gleeson to entertain, and here he delivers once again along with Newfoundland’s most famous celebrity Gordon Pinsent and surprisingly enough, Taylor Kitsch is fun to watch here as well. This comedy is delightfully funny, heartwarming and beautiful to look at, it could practically doubles as a tourism video for the Canadian province!

9. Edge of Tomorrow (full review)

EdgeOfTomorrow_9

I’ve been seeing this movie in fellow bloggers’ favorite-of-the-year list and I can see why. I bet it was as much a pleasant surprise for them as it did for me, as I was ready to dismiss this one as yet another Tom Cruise’s meh sci-fi. Well, it ended up being massively entertaining and has a worthy female heroine in the form of Emily Blunt. The movie is not as profound as some people made it out to be, but props to director Doug Liman for pulling off the ‘repetitive’ aspect of the story that is far from boring. I certainly don’t mind a repeat experience of seeing this one again on rental.

8. The LEGO Movie (full review)

LEGOMovie_Stills2

Everything is awesome! Now that’s a bold tagline to live up to, but guess what, this movie did just that and then some! Apparently February is NOT just for duds and I’m pretty sure this one will get a nomination come award season. The LEGO Movie is easily one of the most fun experience I had in the movies in a long time, it’s every bit as cute and hilarious as the trailers and featurettes promised us. It’s the perfect geekstravaganza for everyone of all ages, an awesome escapist from the Winter Dump Months for the young and the young-at-heart.

7. The Machine (full review)

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Ok so some of you might think because Toby Stephens is in this that this movie ends up in my top 10… and well, you won’t be entirely wrong 😉 But I really do think this is a worthy sci-fi that’s well-made, well-acted AND thought-provoking. Made with a shoestring budget (less than $2 mil), The Machine has more heart than its big budget sci-fi counterparts (think Elysium) which proves that it takes way more than big budget and big stars to make a memorable movie. The two leads, Stephens and Caity Lotz are impressive here, and their performances are able to overcome the flaws of the movie, and their scenes are what make this movie watchable over and over.

6. Locke (full review)

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It’s a testament of Tom Hardy‘s strong screen presence and Steven Knight‘s taut script and direction that this one-man show is gripping even when practically nothing happens on screen. The entire film takes place inside a car with Hardy’s Ivan Locke behind the wheel. It’s certainly one of the most unique cinematic experience that immerses you into the world of its protagonist. Visually it’s striking too, somehow Knight’s able to make highway driving look so dramatic and even artistic. If you ever had any doubt about Hardy’s acting prowess, well then I suggest you check this one out and prepare to be blown away.

5. The Grand Budapest Hotel (full review)

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I don’t love everything Wes Anderson put out there, but this one works for me. It captivated me from the opening scene all the way until the end. It’s more fast-paced than his other films but has all the things you expect from Wes: the quirky characters, the perfect symmetry of every single scene, playful music, etc.  I was quite invested in the two lead characters, particularly Zero Mustafa (played by F. Murray Abraham and Tony Revolori), more than I’ve ever felt about previous Wes Anderson’s characters. Mischievously whimsy, but with heart. Like a charming hotel, it’s one I wouldn’t mind revisiting again and again.

4. How to Train Your Dragon 2 (full review)

HTTYD2_HiccupToothless

I adore the first film so I was a bit nervous this sequel would not live up to it. Well clearly I LOVE this one too as it made my top 5 so far. Despite the more complicated storyline, writer/director Dean DeBlois still made the adorable duo Toothless and Hiccup the central focus of the story. The additional character played by Cate Blanchett delves more into Hiccup’s family background, which makes you appreciate him and his father Stoick (Gerard Butler). With John Powell’s rousing score once again, this ranks high in my favorite animated features and would probably be among the nominees come award season!

3. Belle (full review)

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For a fan of period dramas, Amma Assante‘s sophomore feature has everything I could possibly want from this genre, and then some. Some critics call it ‘Jane Austen with a conscience’ as the protagonist’s story is set in the backdrop of slavery and racial injustice. Gugu Mbatha-Raw gracefully carries the film with her heartfelt performance, surrounded by a stellar cast that includes Tom Wilkinson and Emily Watson. Sam Reid also impressed me with his performance as Belle’s unlikely confidante/love interest, I definitely would love to see both Mbatha-Raw and Reid get more prominent roles in the future. I can’t wait to own the Blu-ray that’s out next month, this one will definitely get a lot of play in my house!

2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (full review)

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I happen to LOVE the first movie which my hubby and I have watched repeatedly. It’s rare to see a sequel that not only lives up to the original but manages to be even better! Billed as a ’70s political thriller masquerading as a superhero movie’, The Winter Soldier delivers on that front and gives us something that’s genuinely intriguing and massively entertaining. I LOVE espionage movies so the story definitely appeals  to me, but of course it also has the exciting action sequences that’s the bread-n-butter of any superhero blockbuster. It’s filled with adrenaline-pumping geek-gasm scenes without being banal or vapid. Chris Evans‘ much more confident in the role which makes him even more watchable, and Robert Redford + Anthony Mackie are great additions to an already-fantastic cast. This one has become my favorite Marvel stand-alone feature and Cap my favorite Marvel superhero!

1. X-Men: Days of Future Past (full review

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It took me a while to decide between The Winter Soldier and X-Men: DOFP as my #1 pick, but after much deliberations, this one wins by a slim margin. I give this one an edge because the time travel aspect and the back-and-forth across multiple dimensions are tough to pull off, but Bryan Singer did a tremendous job making it all work beautifully. I have a soft spot for the X-Men franchise and despite the disappointing The Wolverine, this is one of my most-anticipated films of 2014! It certainly did NOT disappoint. Glad to see Singer back at the helm for this one, after relinquishing his directorial efforts to other directors for X-Men 3 and X-Men: First Class. Now, I’m a big fan of the latter and a lot of the emotional high notes of that first prequel are carried over here as well. Emotional drama and complex relationship are mixed together well with witty humor and thrilling action. Similar to Nolan’s Batman films in some ways, it’s character & plot-driven punctuated by exhilarating action sequences. As far as superhero movies go, this one has everything that makes going to the movies so gratifying.


HONORABLE MENTIONS:

These aren’t stellar by any means, but it was pretty entertaining and worth-seeing. So yeah, I’d recommend these for a rental!

 


WORST of the year so far:

I’m glad I’ve been able to avoid what’s poised to be stinkers like I Frankenstein, Blended, Pompeii, Tammy,etc. but I wish I hadn’t wasted my precious 2+ hours on these two!


So that’s my Best/Worst list of 2014 so far. Thoughts on my picks here? I’d be happy to discuss ’em with you 😀

Music Break: Seven Favorite Themes By Alexandre Desplat

For some reason, I had just become familiar with Alexandre Desplat‘s work fairly recently. I think it was his score for The Queen (2006) that garnered my attention, and since then I’ve been a big fan. On my Five for the Fifth post I talked about Hans Zimmer’s concert, now I’d definitely go to Mr. Desplat’s concert if he had one!

AlexandreDesplat

Per his official site:

52-year-old Alexandre Michel Gérard Desplat was raised in a musical and cultural mix with a Greek mother and French father who studied and were married in California, he grew up listening to the French symphonists Ravel and Debussy and to jazz. He enriched his classical musical education by studying Brazilian and African music, which later lead him to record with Carlinhos Brown and Ray Lema.

An avid fan of cinema, he expressed his desire to compose for the Big Screen early on. During the recording of his first film, he met Dominique Lemonnier violinist who became his favorite soloist, artistic director and wife. She founded the Traffic Quintet for which he wrote original music and transcribed soundtracks.

In 2003 he burst onto the Hollywood scene with his evocative score to Girl With a Pearl Earring (starring Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth), which earned him nominations at the Golden Globes, BAFTAs and European Film Awards.

Those who watch a lot of French films might recognize him as he’s composed a lot of work for French cinema. Since I listen to a lot of classical music, I definitely LOVE Desplat’s style. A lot of his scores have such an emotional experience that can take you to another place. Some music can pierce your soul and I feel that Desplat’s music has that quality, especially his work for Tree of Life and Philomena. It’s melancholic and reflective, but he can also be playful and even whimsical, i.e. The Grand Budapest Hotel.

It’s only been a little over a decade that he made his Hollywood big break, but he’s been amazingly-prolific since. If you look at his IMDb resume, he’d often work on half a dozen scores a year! In 2013 alone, he worked on no less than six films, yet somehow he churn out great work virtually every time. Just in the past decade alone, he’s got 48 wins and 90 nominations (including Oscar, Golden Globes, BAFTA and Grammy) This man is a machine!

So for today’s music break, I want to highlight just a sampling of his stellar work:


So what do you think of Alexandre Desplat’s works? Which one(s) are YOUR faves?

Five for the Fifth: November 2012 Edition

Hello folks, welcome to another 2012 edition of Five of the Fifth!

As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation/poster, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here. So let’s get started, shall we?
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1. Well, despite the name, Wreck It Ralph certainly is no box office wreck. In fact, the opposite is true! The movie grossed nearly $50 mil in just three days! Seems like a lot of people affected by Hurricane Sandy were looking for some fun distraction and there were reports that many kids being out of school because of the storm also help with strong matinee business on the East Coast on Friday. Well I haven’t seen it yet but my friend Terrence gave it 4/5 stars and it does sound like a lot of fun!

According to Gold Derby, this movie is one of the 21 films that have officially been submitted for consideration for Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards.

If you’ve seen it, what did you think? How does it rank amongst your favorite Disney movies?

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2. Y’all already know my undying love for Superman since a wee girl. So when my friend Michael tweeted a post by Flights, Tights and Movie Nights blog on this 11-min short called One on One, I was intrigued! I love it when filmmakers highlight the ‘human’ side of a superhero story, without making it too overly-sentimental. The subtle hints about the reporter’s identity is handled very well in this short, plus it’s so well-shot and well-acted all around.

Do check out Bubbawheat’s interview with Jake Thomas, the creator of the short film, on how he chose to focus more on a random Metropolis teenager and her interaction with Clark Kent, instead of the typical action/special effects/stunts style story.

Check it out below:

I should thank my hubby who saw the tweet when I woke up this morning and we both watched it twice as we’re relaxing in bed enjoying the extra one hour from the end of Daylight Savings’ Time 🙂

Well, what do you think of the short film?

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3. November 5 is Tilda Swinton’s 52nd Birthday! Wow, I had no idea she was already in her 50s! I first noticed the Scottish actress in the first Chronicles of Narnia movie where she played the White Queen. She appeared in Danny Boyle’s The Beach but I didn’t realize who she was then. I’ve seen her in five other films since the two I mentioned, but I think my favorite role of hers is the one in Michael Clayton. It was a well-deserved Oscar win surely.

Some trivia about miss Swinton:

Her family is one of the oldest in Scotland, but her mother is Australian. Her father is Major-General Sir John Swinton, whose ancestral home has been within the family since the 9th century. She attended West Heath Girls’ School, with Princess Diana as one of her classmates, and later Fettes College. Gave birth to twins, a daughter named Honor Byrne and a son named Xavier Byrne, in November 1997. The father of her children, John Byrne, is a Scottish artist and writer.

I’m very curious about her next film Only Lovers Left Alive, about two vampires who have been in love for centuries, co-starring Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska and John Hurt.

What’s your favorite role of Tilda Swinton?
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4. Now, my fourth question is not exactly a new news. Tons of films have had advanced tickets selling weeks in advanced, so the fact that The Hobbit tickets are going to be on sale this Wednesday online and in theaters across North America, a month ahead of its December 14 release doesn’t exactly surprise me.

Just like Nolan’s Batman movies, there’s also a scheduled marathon screenings of Peter Jackson’s The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy in Extended Cut editions on Saturday, December 8th, and Sunday December 9th. Oh geez, I don’t know if I could handle seeing nine-hours worth of stuff on the big screen, though if I have the fortitude I might watch my already-purchased extended edition Blu-rays in the comfort of my own home.

Now, the only advanced screening tickets I bought about a week ahead of the film’s release was The Dark Knight Rises on IMAX.

Out of curiosity, what film(s) have you bought advanced tickets for and were they worth it?
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5. One of the things I like about Wes Anderson’s films are the stellar ensemble cast and he seems to be doing the same thing for his upcoming feature The Grand Budapest Hotel. So far the four major stars confirmed are Wes’ regulars Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman, and two British thespians Ralph Fiennes and Jude Law (and reportedly Jeff Goldblum is now confirmed to join the cast as well). Fiennes will be playing the lead role as Mr. Gustave, and the film will focus on the troubles and tribulations of the hotel’s perfectly composed concierge. Well, thanks to Julian who tweeted me the news, my favorite Irish young star Saoirse Ronan has now joined the cast as the female lead! Anderson will once again work with Scott Rudin and Steve Rales who produced Moonrise Kingdom.

I know the film hasn’t opened until December 2014 but I definitely will be on the lookout for it. Here are additional info about the movie according to Filmofilia:

The Grand Budapest Hotel takes place 85 years ago in a Hungarian hotel, and is partly inspired by the witty films of Billy Wilder and Ernst Lubitsch.

Oh, I like that premise already! And with this cast, it surely becomes one of my anticipated holiday movies of next year!

Well, my last question to you is: are you anticipating this one, too?


Well, that’s it for the November edition of Five for the Fifth, folks. Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all! 😀