Saturday, August 31, 2013

2014 Oscar Predictions: The Screenplays

1. Spike Jonze, Her
This is a total outside guess, but after seeing a list of potential nominees, I think that this just fits the bill for a true winner. Spike Jonze has yet to win an Oscar, despite being nominated before. Also, this film is going to have originality and the story's basic idea is nothing less of relevant, especially with the advent of Siri technology.

2. Woody Allen, Blue Jasmine

Woody is on a hot streak right now. Blue Jasmine is his best film in years, and the film certainly deserves recognition. It will, in this category. The film handled the dramatic and comedic aspects in a way no other director could. Great movie.

3. Joel and Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis
If their most off-kilter films earn nominations (A Serious Man), that must mean that a more mainstream Coen picture with even better reception deserves a nomination.

4. Eric Singer and David O. Russell, American Hustle
Another man on a hot streak, David O. Russell will probably nab a nomination for this political thriller. Looks good.

5. Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith, Saving Mr. Banks 
I think between this and Gravity, the wittier dialogue in this will trump the technical lingo and nervous screaming of Gravity. If there's any consolation, Gravity most definitely will trump Saving Mr. Banks in the visual categories.

1. Terrence Winter, The Wolf of Wall Street
Winter is already well-known across Hollwood with his work on the TV show Boardwalk Empire. This latest Scorsese picture looks really exciting, awesome, and funny. I really can't wait.

2. John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave
Django Unchained is really this film's crux. This movie, discussing slavery, will get more mainstream recognition because of Django. However, I don't think the Academy will want to recognize two slavery films in two years, especially in such familiar categories. At least a film by Steve McQueen will get Academy recognition in the first place.

3. E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman, Foxcatcher
I think this is one of the strongest Best Picture contenders we've got this year, so I feel it is necessary to predict the film in many prime categories, including screenplay.

4. Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, and Juile Delpy, Before Midnight
This is the year's best film, without a doubt. The previous film in the series, Before Sunset, managed a nomination in this category nine years ago. I certainly hope that this film in the Before series manages another nom.

5. Tracy Letts, August: Osage County
A preview screening of the film way back in March/April revealed high praise, despite the soapy Weinstein trailers. This is the adaptation of a prestige play, with a prestige cast working on it too. This certainly will get recognized one way or another.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Gravity premieres in Venice... It's out of this world!

With seven years since Cuaron's last film, the extremely good Children of Men, I was worried that Gravity had the potential to be... bad. My fears are gone, since reviews for his latest seem to be even better than Children of Men!

Robbie Collin, The Telegraph
...With nothingness pressing in on all sides, in a place where the grip of someone else’s hand is all that keeps you from the void, life really does seem like a miracle. (link to review)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Dallas Buyers Club trailer!

Blue Jasmine (2013)- Woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown (3½ Stars)

...and the winner of Best Cast at this year's SAG awards will be Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine. Well, I wish it could be the winner. Blue Jasmine is a film with great dramatic talent and comedic dialogue, especially with Cate Blanchett's leading performance that will rattle your mind.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

2014 Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actress

1. Oprah Winfrey, Lee Daniels' The Butler
The buzz has been strong on this since... forever. It's an Oprah performance, that's enough to turn the heads of the Academy.

2. Meryl Streep, August, Osage County
She won so recently, and there's Oprah to reward too. Then again, this is a very meaty part that many people think is actually a leading role, so... I won't be surprised if something happens.

3. Vanessa Redgrave, Foxcatcher
Foxcatcher matches the perfect Oscar meld for me: A film with a lot less pre-release buzz, surging into play by a director that has yet to win, but is pretty well-regarded. Yeah, that sounds like Foxcatcher. This is a real outside shot, but if Sony Pictures Classics plays their cards right, they might get something big with Foxcatcher, and drag Vanessa Redgrave along with them.

4. Octavia Spencer, Fruitvale Station
Though I liked Fruivale Station (not nearly as much as others), I found Octavia Spencer's work to be superb. Oscar worthy, especially since it is better than her work on The Help. She's got Harvey Weinstein helping her too, so I think a nomination is good. A win? Nah, Harvey has Oprah to support too.

5. Cameron Diaz, The Counselor/Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Both sights to be seen. Right now I'm split, since both films are not making festival appearances, I'm judging off what people think of the trailers. Diaz seems to have a meatier part, but Lawrence seems to be going on a hot streak of sorts, so... we'll see.

Check back soon for screenplay predictions!

Lee Daniels' The Butler (2013)- Not the year's best serving (1½ Stars)

Now let me say this: I like the 4-star rating system. It allows a certain amount of lenience to film ratings, without being too specific. Although 1½ Stars doesn't sound too nice, that's the most that The Butler deserves, star-wise.

There's a joke/idiom/old quote that reads like this:
"The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese."
In this situation, I am the second mouse, mainly because I did not get this cheese-fest of a film. The Butler (ahem, Lee Daniels The Butler) is a film that sounds like a good story, but is not a good film, primarily due to lackluster performances, bizarre style (Kuleshov Effect?), and jarring overlength.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Zero Theorem poster.

The film's poster looks pretty awesome, and I'm game for anything Christoph Waltz does that is not The Green Hornet.

First trailer for The Book Thief.

In my Iowan school district, it is a requirement to read The Book Thief for school. It's not a perfect book, but is a masterpiece compared to the trailer. Perhaps it will be good.

Parkland trailer.

This year's dark horse contender is Parkland. In classic Oscar tradition, this film is directed by a newbie director Peter Landesman, and is also having a premiere at Toronto (and Venice). So far, it looks pretty good, with a SAG-friendly cast that doesn't look baity at all. Check it out!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Blue is the Warmest Color trailer.

Although this trailer is in French (without subtitles), I must admit that this film looks really good. There is a nice mix of what feels like classic style and modern substance. I, however, will not see this film for awhile: It's been rated NC-17!

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty trailer.

Another star-turned-director, Ben Stiller headlines a cast that reminds me a lot of SNL. This film is centerpiecing at the New York Film Festival, so I expect good things.

The Monuments Men trailer.

George Clooney presents: Argo 2: VERSUS HITLER

Silliness aside, I had no idea Bill Murray was in this. If the Academy particularly warms to this, there's a good chance John Goodman could be in three Best Picture winners in a row (he also has Inside Llewyn Davis too)

Spike Jonze's latest: Her (2013)

I'm way too late for this, but it's better late than never: The spectacularly relevant trailer for Spike Jonze's latest: Her, with a Joaquin Phoenix, and a particularly attractive female supporting cast.

Trailer below:

2014 Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actor

The Oscar frenzy is dawning upon us film fans, starting next week when Cuaron's Gravity premiers in Venice. Before then, I plan to finish what I started last month: the first round of Oscar nominee predictions!

1. Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
After losing a bit of buzz due to the lack of festival presence, Foxcatcher is bounding back with potential Oscar dominance with a release date (December 20th) AND a first image. Mark Ruffalo looks like a perfect winning contender due to three things:
-His character dies in a true story (The Academy might recognize that)
-He has been nominated before, but has yet to win (The Academy has been giving out a lot of first-time prizes lately)
-Mark is at a perfect spot in his career, with his role as the Hulk and many new movies coming out.

2. Tom Hanks, Saving Mr. Banks
Since Tom Hanks has two Oscar contending films (this and Captain Phillips), he is going to get his name thrown around a lot on the ballots. Especially since I think this role looks like a leading role, he has one more distinct advantage. He's also playing Walt Disney, if that helps (it definitely doesn't hurt).

3. Javier Bardem, The Counselor
Despite this film not showing on the festival circuit, this film looks like a mix of pulpy and sleek crime fun. Javier Bardem won the last time he worked with Cormac McCarthy material (the brilliant No Country for Old Men), so I think he has a good shot at a nomination with a showy role (that hair!) that also touches on mass drug production like the currently popular TV show Breaking Bad.

4. Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
Three films with Steve McQueen (not The Great Escape Steve) should result in some proper recognition. The last time a white character in a supporting role with a fantastic beard won an Oscar was last year, so this sort of role is not a taboo (unlike genitalia flaunting in Shame)

5. Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
Fans in the Academy of Thirty Seconds to Mars may vote for Leto... just because. Some will due to the extreme weight loss he went through with Matt McC(I'm not even going to try). Focus Features hasn't had a breadwinner in a while, so let's see if Dallas Buyers Club is as good as it looks.

Check back tomorrow for Best Supporting Actress predictions!

Catching up with Foxcatcher!

I can say that Foxcatcher is one of my year's most anticipated films. I was disappointed to see it not listed at Toronto or Venice, but this week has been generous to Foxcatcher. The film is now getting a Sony Pictures Classics release on December 20th (YES!), and now an image has been released of Steve Carrell as schizophrenic John Du Pont.

Do you know what happens to 'nosey' fellas?

The Top 10 of the year... so far!

From my list on TasteOfCinema.

2012 was a magnificent year in movies, and so far 2013 looks like it will exceed in greatness. Venice and Toronto film festivals are upon us, and with the arrival of film festivals comes the arrival of Oscar contenders. The first 2/3 of 2013 however still deserves a fair share of recognition and awards, so without further ado, here are the best movies of 2013 (so far)! (Note: I have yet to see Blue Jasmine)

Friday, August 16, 2013

Fruitvale Station (2013)- Train-ing Day (3½ Stars)

Ryan Coogler wrote and directed the Sundance-prize winning Fruitvale Station, and much hype has been given. Does it deserve it all? Most definitely not. However, it is well-done retelling on an important event, which will offer a finite amount of timelessness.

Masterpieces Classics: Cléo from 5 to 7 (1962)

Sometimes, one would hear the phrase "The book was better than the movie". And yet, if Agnes Varda's masterwork was based upon a novel, the movie would most definitely be better. This is because of the film's unique pacing: it moves in real time.

Unlike another real-time masterpiece, Before SunsetCléo from 5 to 7 actually follows the title character Cleo in situations, not conversations. Cleo is the only character present in all of the scenes.

Only God Forgives (2013)- 'Drive' on steroids (3½ Stars)

Ever since the first trailer premiere, I've been hotly anticipating what could have been one of the year's best films.

Guess what? It is!

Ryan Gosling stars as a Julien, a Thai drug dealer who also manages a boxing ring. He is conflicted between good and evil when his devilish mother (note: DEVILISH) pays a visit when Julien's brother is killed. A god-like cop played by Vithya Pasingram comes between Julien's mom's plan for Julien to take revenge.

That's just the plot. And the plot is only a small part of the film. That is what is potentially dividing so many viewers: the lack of a strong plot. I thought the plot (at least for material like this) was perfect in importance, since a stronger plot would only complicate the religious themes even more, and a lesser plot... less plot would lead to a pointless movie.