Saturday, March 1, 2014

Best Picture 2014 - predictions

Well, here we are again. A year later with a brand new slate of films to scrutinize, celebrate, ridicule and fall completely in love with! Three month of Oscar tracking and it comes down to one encompassing evening. Tomorrow night. That being said, let’s get right to it shall we. My 2014 Oscar Predictions! Enjoy.

Best picture
“12 Years a Slave”
“American Hustle”
“Captain Phillips”
“Dallas Buyers Club”
“The Wolf of Wall Street”

The sitch: I’m quite proud of myself for catching 7 of the 9 best picture nominees before the big night (the other two are still to be released in SA, although a big thank you to Ster Kinekor for arranging pre-release screenings for the hardcore enthusiasts that had time on their hands this week. I know they kind of say this every year, but man, what a line up of incredible films! What makes it more incredible though is that in the best picture category (and most other categories this year) the slate of talent is so top notch, that I really don’t mind who wins – most of them are that good! Oscar voters get told to rank this category from most to least favourite. They can fill in 1 film, or 9, its up to them. If I were a voter (please, Lord, one day) my list would look something like this:
1. 12 Years a Slave*   2. Gravity*   3. Dallas Buyers Club   4. Her   5. American Hustle   6. The Wolf of Wall Street   7. Philomena   8. Nebraska   9. Captain Phillips

From the bottom up: I really didn’t like the way Captain Phillips celebrated the navy’s rescue of the captain. It felt like “oh look at how great we are as Americans”. It was a good movie, no doubt, but not a fantastic one. Haven’t seen Nebraska or Philomena, but I recon I would still like them a lot more than Phillips. Wall Street was a very interesting film, with some great moments, but hell, was it long! If it was half an hour shorter it would be in my top three. American Hustle had a great cast with a great concept, but my goodness, so many people scamming the other that it was so flippen difficult to keep track. What made the film were definitely its actors! The concept behind Spike Jonez’ Her is just incredible. So well thought out and brilliantly executed it was definitely one of my favourites of the year. I only saw Dallas Buyers Club today. Had I written this entry yesterday, it would have been number 8. But its just such a fantastic film, that literally took everything to make it (just google “Dallas Buyers Club making of” and you’ll see what I’m talking about). The performances also carry this story so well, its just amazing – I didn’t think that after having HIV/AIDS shoved down my throat by the South African education system (OBE days) for 7 years, that I could ever feel this way about a film about the disease. Then there’s Gravity, a film that did what Avatar did for visual effects-driven films 4 years ago and then some. It has a brilliant concept, with enough depth to keep the philosophers and critics happy and enough special effects and action to keep audiences happy. To have a 3D film as a front-runner in the Best picture race is truly remarkable, and definitely a step forward when it comes to the snobbery of the awards and those who vote for them. 

Then there’s my #1 film of the year. 12 Years a Slave. Is it the most brilliant movie ever made, no. Is it an important film, absolutely! Everything about this film is so incredibly solid. It feels like a machine in which all the parts come together so well that there’s really no tearing it apart. The one and only thing that bothered me about the film was Brad Pitt playing the role of the hero towards the end of the film – it felt like Solomon’s freedom was not as powerful because of it, which really hurt its chances of being #1 in my books. Having said that, I have actually changed my mind again: Gravity is actually my #1 which, if you talk to my lecturers, might illustrate my reputation to change my mind too often, but could also illustrate how close this race truly is!
What will win: 12 Years a Slave (Gravity and American Hustle would be spoilers)
What should win: If Gravity wins, I’ll be happy. If slaves wins I’ll be happy. Both are solid, both can comfortably wear the label of ‘best’ of the year!

(Stay tuned for the other category break-downs later today!!!)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

2013 - A year in films, at a glance (a VERY brief glance)

So the Oscars it=s long gone and so has Sundance (which I missed reporting on, but did take note of nonetheless). Here's a list of blockbusters that i can't wait for, along with some potential Oscar nominees for next year (oh Lord, it never ends!)

Okay so I've already seen Oz: The Great and Powerful, which was excellent it its art direction, viz effects and homages to the original. Story was kinda of weird, but that may have stemmed from the fact that the original is not really my favourite, and doesn't hold the same kind of precious, classic value as most film fanatics (I'll watch it again one day when I'm bored to confirm or retract this statement).

Also saw Identity Thief... Meh! It couldn't decide whether it was a comedy or a drama. Jason Bateman's character got a huge promotion in the beginning, but for a while you just didn't believe it because is seemed to break conventions of comedy - they're down and out and only at the end do they get the metaphorical/literal promotion. Having said that, it has some moments of comedy, but really isn't anything to rave about, and doesn't reach the levels of the director's (sorry, I don"t know your name) previous hit, Horrible Bosses.

Still deciding whether or not i want to see "The Croods" on big screen. I'd like to, but life... so hectic!

Totally keen for Jurassic Park in 3D!! Having only been two when it was originally released, i first saw it on VHS many years later. I want to see it for the sheer magnitude of the screen, sound and score trifecta! 3D aside.

In May,  The States gets 3 weeks of awesomeness in a row! Ironman BOOM! The Great Gatsby BOOM ! Star Trek BOOM! Can't wait to see these films, a few friends and i were actually thinking of dressing up for Gatsby on Opening night ;)

Man of Steel and The Heat (Sandra Bullock/ Melissa McCarthy cop comedy - so what if it sounds like Miss Congeniality 2 all over again) hit US screens in June, with RED 2 and The Lone Ranger in July. (those two I'm less enthusiastic about though, they'll both be maybe's on my list for now), The Wolverine, however is a definite, hell yeah!

August seems to be the month of (usually second-rate) action films. This year we have the 300 sequel, Percy Jackson, Kick Ass 2, and Elysium. If i only see Elysium out of these titles, I'll die a happy man. What Niel Blomkamp did in 2009 with District 9 was incredible, and the newly released trailer (just yesterday) sells it perfectly!!

Then of course there's all those animated films that i can't wait to see either: Epic, Monster's University, Turbo, Despicable Me 2 and more. Only one i'm totally pretending doesn't exist at this point is Planes (why oh why, Pixar!?!?).

So that's the summer covered, hopefully I'll get some free time between English Modernism and Drama and Film lectures to take us to the end of the year, and then we can get along to the possible awards season front-runners. Till then

Peace, Love and other things.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Oscars - Final Cut

So here it is, the last of the Oscar predictions. Enjoy!
(As a side note, i am aware of the fact that the links on the previous post - as well as this one - come from Wikipedia. They are accurate, I'm sorry if this does not suit referencing standards or whatever, I was looking for quick and easy!)

Best Animated Feature:

One of my FAVOURITE categories! I haven't yet seen Frankenweenie... OR ParaNorman, so that's sad... Anyway the category is really filled with meaty dishes this year and so for a change there isn't really a distinct (Pixar) winner. As much as i loved the animation in Brave, I didn't enjoy the story half as much. Pirates! is fantastic in its humour, animation and story, but just doesn't have enough momentum to win. Then i saw Ralph and it totally blew me away. It has everything a great animated film requires: appeal for adults and kids alike, gamers and non gamers too. It's funny, it's beautifully animated, it plucks the heart strings and comes together in a solid clump of awesomeness! In case you haven't realised it, I want Ralph to win this.

Best Film Editing:

I have a feeling Argo's taking this along with best picture. The others are all good, but Argo is possibly a few centimeters ahead (yes, we use centimeters here).

Best Cinematography:

I loved Life of Pi! But part of me feels its cheating to use so much green screen (you're left with a kind of "is it cinematography or special effects" kind of dilemmas). Because of this I'm gonna want Skyfall to win, even though I think it's going to go to Pi.

Best Original Screenplay:
Because Flight and Moonrise have few nominations, they are sort of at the back of the pack. Either one of the remaining three could take it. As of today i have still only seen Django, so i think this category is out for me in terms of who should win. Who i think will win? Django, with Amour and ZDT in tie for second - but it is STILL anyone's to take really...

Best Adapted Screenplay:

  • Argo – Chris Terrio from The Master of Disguise by Antonio J. Mendez & The Great Escape by Joshuah Bearman
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild – Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin from Juicy and Delicious by Lucy Alibar
  • Life of Pi – David Magee from Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  • Lincoln – Tony Kushner from Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin
  • Silver Linings Playbook – David O. Russell from The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
Whoever takes Best Picture should take this one too, whether its Argo, Licoln, Silver Linings Playbook or even Life of Pi. Beasts still has a chance, but unfortunately they don't have the bulk support of the academy behind it. Lincoln's screenplay is AMAZING, and Tony Kushner should be the one making a speech tonight, but i have a feeling that its gonna be now front-runner, Argo instead. Silver Linings could come from behind and produce an upset too though.

Best Supporting Actor:
  • Alan Arkin – Argo as Lester Seigel
  • Robert De Niro – Silver Linings Playbook as Pat Solitano Sr.
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman – The Master as Lancaster Dodd
  • Tommy Lee Jones – Lincoln as Thaddeus Stevens
  • Christoph Waltz – Django Unchained as Dr. King Schultz
On Awardsdaily, this category was voted the most unpredictable category of the evening. I'm rooting for Waltz, just because I enjoyed his performance so thouroughly. But it's really anyone's game. If Lincoln manages to pull off this win for Lee Jones, then they have a shoe in for their other categories too. If Arkin wins, its all over, and you could probably call it for Argo right at the start of things, before the event even gets going. Hoffman and De Niro are also brilliant (leaning towards Hoffman out of the two of them, but then again Hoffman reminded me very much of the mysterious Father Flynn in Doubt...). This will definitely be an interesting one!

Best Supporting Actress:
  • Amy Adams – The Master as Peggy Dodd
  • Sally Field – Lincoln as Mary Todd Lincoln
  • Anne Hathaway – Les Misérables as Fantine
  • Helen Hunt – The Sessions as Cheryl Cohen-Greene
  • Jacki Weaver – Silver Linings Playbook as Dolores Solitano
This category is Hatheway's to lose. She's won countless precursors and is set to win the gold in a couple of hours. The only possible upset is Fields (who's performance was absolutely phenominal). That said, it would be awesome for Silver Linings to take all of the Acting awards, but as you're about to see, that is kind of a longshot.

Best Actor:
  • Bradley Cooper – Silver Linings Playbook as Pat Solitano Jr.
  • Daniel Day-Lewis – Lincoln as Abraham Lincoln
  • Hugh Jackman – Les Misérables as Jean Valjean
  • Joaquin Phoenix – The Master as Freddie Quell
  • Denzel Washington – Flight as William "Whip" Whitaker
Danile Day-Lewis. That is all.
okay, as much as i'd love to leave it there, i have so say something about the other performances I've seen: Cooper certainally surprised a few people with his ability to balance the dramatic and the comic, Jackman was also amazing, but perhaps a little too melodramatic for some voters. Pheonix is also incredible, and if Day-Lewis doesn't get it, I'd possibly vote for him. Haven't seen Flight yet.

Best Actress:
  • Jessica Chastain – Zero Dark Thirty as Maya
  • Jennifer Lawrence – Silver Linings Playbook as Tiffany Maxwell
  • Emmanuelle Riva – Amour as Anne
  • Quvenzhané Wallis – Beasts of the Southern Wild as Hushpuppy
  • Naomi Watts – The Impossible as Maria Bennett
Two weeks ago Lawrence was 9 tenths of the way to a lock, then Riva won the BAFTA which totally messed with the heads of voters (not to mention my head too). As much as Jennifer Lawrence and I have a scret love affrair (whoops!) and as much as I loved her in the film, I'd rather Riva gets it as a "life Time Achievement Award" kind of thing. Castain (so I've hear) is also phenominal, but I think she'd take home the bronze if this were an Olympic event.

and finally...

Best Director:
  • Michael Haneke – Amour
  • Ang Lee – Life of Pi
  • David O. Russell – Silver Linings Playbook
  • Steven Spielberg – Lincoln
  • Benh Zeitlin – Beasts of the Southern Wild
With Ben Afflck's snub (the most talked about travesty this awards season), and his momentum in the BP category, who on earth wins this!? I believe most would call it for Spielberg, but lately I've been reading that some would'nt want him to win it because, well, you don't hand a 'god' a prize for being a god. If it's not him, it could be Silver Linings or Pi. But then again either of the other two could shock the way they did at the nominee announcement. My vote would be for Spielberg, with Zeitlin in second, just because Beast's was unlike anything I've seen before on cinema. It was this year's "Tree of Life" on creative steroids! The script was incredible, solid performances and score to boot. It's my film of the year...

Monday, February 18, 2013

Okay! So with less than a week to go before the world (for a very small percentage of us) will revert back to normal and we'll hang up our Oscars thinking caps after our celebration (of post mortem) reports are written. With best Picture covered already, i move on to those "lower categories" before we have a look at the remaining "big ones:

Best Documentary Short:

Can't comment on, haven't seen or heard about any of them

Best Live Action Short:

  • Asad – Bryan Buckley and Mino Jarjoura
  • Buzkashi Boys – Sam French and Ariel Nasr
  • Curfew – Shawn Christensen
  • Death of a Shadow (Dood Van Een Schaduw) – Tom Van Avermaet and Ellen De Waele
  • Henry – Yan England
Ditto, South Africa needs to jack up plans to bring these to deep, dark Africa.

Best Animated Short:

I've only seen one of them, twice actually, and it was so beautiful! Paperman is able to take you on such a relatable journey, adding their dose of magic to a love story. The animation is unique and making most of the film in black and white helped The Artist win an award last year (you know, a few little trinkets), which i think helps Paperman stand out amongst the competition. I'm planning to view Head over Heals today though, so i'll let you know if that alters my opinion...

Best Documentary Feature:

Although i haven't seen any of them, several people i have spoken to regard Searching for Sugarman as the best of this lot. However, South African's do have a slight bias seeing as though our country is featured in the film. There's also a large amount of internet buzz for this film, not to mention it has already won a few of the major precursors (BAFTA, Critics Choice, Special Jury Prize and Audience Award at Sundance last year). How to Survive a Plague is also incredibly compelling (again, so I've heard), but Sugarman should take this.

Best Original Song:

Okay, so with Skyfall winning the Golden Globe for its title song, many would think that this is in the bag for Adele. yet, i can't seem to shake the feeling that the Academy is going to do something incredibly stupid this year (like they did last year with Man or Muppet - but that's a whole 'nother post all on its own), i feel like Ted could get this, and maybe even Suddenly. I'm rooting for Skyfall, but don't feel comfortable betting on it to win.

Best Sound Mixing:

Both Sound categories are tricky (heck, i have know idea what was intended to be heard and and blotted out, mixed together and balanced properly), however, I do think that Les Mis and Skyfall are stand outs here, along with possibly Argo. In the end I think if Argo gets Best Picture, its gonna need other awards to provide backing as to what makes it the Best Picture. if not, I'm backing Les Mis.

Best Sound Editing:
Argo, Skyfall and Pi, feature in both categories which I think gives them a leg up. In the end I'm going with Skyfall (because I'd really hate to see them walk home with nothing if Ted wins song).

Best Visual Effects:
If the Academy is looking for a film which best integrates the real with the unreal, then they'd go with Prometheus or The Hobbit. If they're looking for a special-effects-driven commercial film, then they'd go with Snow White or The Avengers, but The Academy is the Academy, and i feel as though Pi is a few strokes ahead of its competitors. Although some of the visuals are quite noticeably unreal, they way the film was able to tell an incredible story utilising the many advances of visual effects in recent years the way Martin Scorsese and David Fincher used them for Hugo and Benny Button, tells me that Pi is almost certain to win (a Best Picture nomination, solid usage of 3D and over 500 million at the box office don't hurt its chances either).

Best Make up and Hairstyling:
Let's ask ourselves an important question here: why is Hitchcock even here? Last time i checked anyone could put on a prosthetic nose and a fat suit and it wouldn't be considered marvelous film-making, but then again i haven't managed to see the film yet (it's due out in SA within the month). The Hobbit (like Benny Button) is able to blurr the boundaries between what is make up and what is special effects, which actually may work as a disadvantage. In terms of realistic make up, Les Mis wins, if its pushing the boundaries of what could be done with a brush, please voters, give it to The Hobbit!

Best Costume Design:
I'm just discarding Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman straight off the bat because, if I'm honest, i really did not like either of them enough to give them ANY award (sorry costumers, but great job anyway). I'd like to say Les Mis, or Lincoln because of the sheer mass of costumes and detailing that went into producing them - heck, Mary Todd's ball gown was replicated from scratch - beads, buttons and ugly frilly things in between. But i have a feeling Anna Karenina will sneak in here and walk away out the back door with an award in hand.

Best Production Design:
This is one impressive category, which could really go 20/20/20/20/20. In the end i feel like whoever gets costume design will get Production design as well. however, I'm hoping for The Hobbit to come out from the back row of the theatre and collect.

Best Foreign Language Film:
Do we even need to debate this one? Amour is nominated for four other awards including Best Picture... (BUUUUUT The Academy does some stupid things, and many people could say that Amour's many nominations, award them automatically? - Stranger things have happened)

The other awards to be posted by the end of the week (I say this with great hope and  faith in my horrid time management skills)
Peace, Love and Other Things