February 28, 2016

The Academy Awards 2015



The Academy awards will just not learn from their past, they ripped off Fruitvale Station and Selma in previous years, and now Will Smith, Idris Elba, Michael B Jordan, Tessa Thompson, Benicio Del Toro, and the everyone involved in Straight Outta Compton. A Change is gonna come!

I think there will be a few upsets tonight and I'm not alone...The Revenant fans may go home mad.

Let’s break it down.


BEST PICTURE: What will win-Spotlight, Look I know I know Leo and the Bear, yadda yadda yadda. The Revenant is a good film, shot beautifully and well acted, but for my money I'll take the sharpest Newsrom Procedural since All The Presidents Men. What should win-Spotlight but shout out to The Big Short and Steve Jobs, two films I loved and I would not be upset if The Martian won, most fun I had a film not named Star Wars all year.

BEST DIRECTOR: Who will win-George Miller who against all odds created a beautiful and sharp Mad Max movie, that really wasn't even about Mad Max...it was about someone way cooler!Who should win-I think maybe Inarritu from The Revanant but I don't believe they will give him back to back, I thought Ridley Scott deserved a bit more love for his fun Martian Film and Adam McKay for The Big Short did a great job. Shout out to Ryan Coogler who made the Best Rocky Film since Rocky and who in 2009 should've been nominated if not won for Fruitvale Station.

BEST ACTOR: Who will win-Seems to be Leonardo DiCaprio who really shouldn’t, though his gritty performance is good it isn't very rewatatchable and he barely talks (anyone think Tom Hardy is the lead is this film?). Who should win-Matt Damon, that movie doesn't work without him period (Leo could not make that film work like it does). David Oyelowo got jipped last year and this year Michael B. Jordan , Michael Keaton, and maybe Will Smith all get pushed aside for another unnecassary Eddie Redmayne Nomination (I don't get the love for this guy).

BEST ACTRESS: Who will win-Brie Larson, lock it up but I can’t comment as I have not seen Room (yet, I will get to it). Who should win-Charlize Theron for Mad Max, look that movie isn't for me, I didn't love it (6.0 on Shawshank Scale and out of my top ten of the year) but she is a force and drives that crazy film. Tessa Thompson in Creed is awesome! (Just thought I would say that, she probably was a supporting actress, but I loved her and that character in Creed). I think it says something about me and more importantly Hollywood that I haven't seen 3 of the 5 films in this category. (I have heard great things about 45 years)

BEST SUPPORTING’S: Who will win-Stallone and Kate Winslet. I loved Stallone's performance and frankly this is the Best Category of the night for both Male and Female, these are all great performances. Vikander seems to be the frontrunner and she was good and the hero of that story (though I liked her better in Ex Machina). I just liked Winslet's role in Steve Jobs, he was such a robot as a character, he needed Winslet to make him human and she nails it.  Who should win-You know Stallone I'm ok with in a packed field (So he really earns it), though Bale and Hardy both crush. Jason Leigh (again in a film that wasn't for me) really has to endure a lot, if we are giving Best Actor to Leo for the same thing, why not award a great actress here? Shout out Vikander Ex Machina style and Benicio Del Toro anyone? He crushes Sicario!


ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Will win-Spotlight, Should win-Yea Spotlight, expertly written but shout out Ex Machina.

Will win-The Big Short Should win-The Big Short, like Moneyball, how great is it that you take a relativly boring subject and make it so fun. Big shout out to Steve Jobs though, I thought Sorkin nailed what he was trying to do (it is this year's Moneyball, a great father daughter story).

CINEMATOGRAPHY: Will win-The Revenant, and yes it should win but shout out Mad Max and Sicario.

Ok Chris Rock this is your time, no mercy!

January 18, 2016

2015 IN FILM, MY THOUGHTS (The Force Awakens/Spotlight/The Big Short/The Martian/Steve Jobs)

2015 IN FILM-Well the Jedi returned with vengeance, Bond got tired, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Eddie Redmayne try to make some history, Indie movies continued to not get the respect they deserve, and sadly yet again the Oscars failed to be color blind.

3 things to remember (1) we are tough graders The Shawshank Scale is 1-10 but there are only (2) films that have scored 10's (yes of all time) think of it more like 5.5 and up are movies you should make time for (2) I take no responsibility for anything I write, mostly it is done when I can't sleep, and lastly (3) I really have no idea what I'm talking about, I just like movies and my poor memory requires me to rank them so I can remember what I like and don't like.

UPDATE 1: I still haven’t seen Straight Outta Compton and Carol (among others), but I do feel that I have enough to start the list process of 2015 as we all prepare for the Oscars! Now let’s break some of the Good, Bad, and Ugly down:


Star Wars: The Force Awakens-I had to start with one of the biggest films of all time, after all I stood outside in the cold on opening night to get in like so many others. Here is the thing with a movie like this is more than just a movie (don’t snicker), it really is a cultural phenomenon. I know this is true because during my 2nd viewing of this film (some 9 days after its release in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday) people were still giving standing ovations. Even more so than that, almost every time I’ve been to a theater since its release, someone in line behind me is talking about it (and get this they are usually young and diverse). This film didn’t need to be great (and it’s probably not great), it just needed to be good (and it’s better than good). J.J. Abrams does a nice job bringing back what made Stars Wars fun to begin with (and not just talking about the original cast). Like an Onion the film peels back layer after layer of nostalgia, however none of that would have really mattered if he didn’t get the new characters right…and he did, big time. I think it is wonderful to see a female lead, I can’t tell you how fresh the character Finn is (Reluctant hero, traitor, and cool leading man), Poe Dameron (who was supposed to die in the first script) is also great, I’m happy they are keeping him around. The returning cast does a nice job as well, Han Solo leads the film very well, Leia is sharp in her limited but effective role, and Luke delivers in his brief but smart ending sequence. The locations they used, and real sets really make the difference and improve upon the prequels (which get a bad rap, but are pretty good). Now it isn’t all great in a galaxy far far away, there were moments this year that I flirted with the idea of having this film as #1 on the Top Ten List (See Sidebar), certainly all said and done I will rewatch this film more than any other film this year and that holds a lot of water on the Shawshank Scale, but despite that this film has problems. For starters it is fair criticism that the beats of this film feel awfully familiar (another Death Star, was that really necessary?). In addition to that the film feels incomplete, I know some of that is done on purpose, but not all of it. The film really feels like they were writing, shooting, and guessing as they went along…there is probably like 4 hours of additional footage that takes the film in all sorts of other directions. To me they could’ve waited to get the story right instead of trying different things and piecing it together. Several times in the film it feels cut and pasted, now we don’t care because it is so much fun, but still. I was surprised it received an Oscar Nomination for editing given that some of the edits are abrupt and out of place. I didn’t love, understand, or care about the Bad Guys. Who is the first order, Snoke, or what the hell are the knights of ren…who cares. That said it is a great ride, it bridges that old with the new in a fun way. I’m not sure anyone (including Lucas) could’ve done a perfect job with a film like this and J.J. deserves credit for taking on such a daunting task and not failing. Kids are excited about Star Wars again, and adults love that…because they’ve always been excited about it!

Spotlight-In 1976 Alan Pakula directed All the Presidents Men to stunning perfection (an 8.0 on the Shawshank Scale!) now in 2015 Tom Mcarthy directs another newsroom drama which comes close to capturing the same tension. The cast is very good, the story is straightforward, but incredibly fascinating, and the actors portraying the victims really give it the heartbeat to make it come alive. It is deserving of Best Picture.

Steve Jobs-I’m a sucker for Aaron Sorkin, his rhythmic dialogue is often intoxicating to me. He doesn’t disappoint in Steve Jobs, which is a film less about the myth, and more about the man. It has very little factual, biopic value, but as a father/daughter film it is beautiful and powerful. It is also deserving of Best Picture.

The Big Short-How do you make the depressing financial crisis interesting and fun? Go get the the guy who did Anchorman (Adam McKay) and then base it on the book by the guy who did Moneyball (Michael Lewis remember he made baseball stats and strategy sound like Dave and Busters), and while you’re at it, construct an all-star cast, and just for good measure bring in a few extra random cameos for the heavy stuff...Then what you get, is maybe the Best Picture of the Year.

The Martian-Up until this year I would probably argue Ridley Scotts’s best film was 1996’s White Squall. Other films like Black Hawk Down, Gladiator, Alien, or maybe Blade Runner are very good, but I didn’t feel great about him as a filmmaker. Unlike some others I know, I don’t run to Ridley Scott films (plenty of stinkers like Hannibal, Kingdom of Heaven, Exodus, or G.I. Jane), but he has done some wonderful and entertaining work. I think The Martian is his best film, this little airport book with a time stamped story, and an easy to root for hero really comes to life with his direction and Matt Damon’s wonderful performance. It is funnier than I thought it would be and even though everyone knows exactly where the story is going, everyone wants to go on the ride anyway. I quietly root for this film to win Best Picture.

The Rest: Creed was the best Rocky movie since Rocky period. Stallone gives such a wonderful and understated performance that he will bring tears to your eyes, I loved it...except how quick the guy got the main event fight, they should've fixed that one glaring problem. Joy may not be David O’Russell’s best work, but it is a very good and interesting story (now can we stop with Jennifer Lawrence!). Sicario is a great vehicle for Bencio Del Toro who should’ve gotten nominated for an Oscar. Love & Mercy is a really good film that probably came out a little too early for its own good which is why it missed out on being nominated (Dano and Banks were deserving). Bridge of Spies is a good effort and has good performances, however Spielberg tells a dark story with too much color and optimism for its own good. The Revenant is maybe the current favorite at the Oscars and I can see why, however for me sometimes it’s not enough to have excellent direction, storytelling, and acting…sometimes I have to like the story and this plain one about survival and revenge felt old to me. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is the year’s best action film, I’m not a big fan of the never ending Fast & Furious films, but like those it seems they can keep making these films forever and they will be at least fun and entertaining.

The Dissapointments: So not a lot of films were bad enough to bash, but there were some:

Spectre-Beautiful cinematography and breathtaking locations couldn’t save a tired looking Bond and a very poorly written villain. I was more interested in Ray Fiennes than either Craig or Waltz.

Jurassic World-Like The Force Awakens it mirrors the original film, unlike The Force Awakens all it does is supply us with entertainment. Characters were bad and the story was goofy.

The Walk-I don’t want to kill this film, just please go rent MAN ON WIRE the documentary on this topic rather than watch this film, it tries but lacks all the romance or charm of the true life story.

Aloha-I love Cameron Crowe, Love him, love almost all of his films…this was a complete mess. Some good individual scenes and some excellent chemistry from Cooper and McAdams couldn’t save this awful mess of a story.