My Ranking of the Oscar Films

In Uncategorized on February 17, 2015 at 5:10 pm


My rankings of the movies involved with the Oscars this year, excluding Foxcatcher and Whiplash (Sorry guys didn’t have enough time and money to watch them) SPOILERS ABOUND!

I will provide you the movies in order from best to worst, in my opinion, the reason why the movie is ranked where it is, and my favorite scene from that said movie

1. Selma: Directed by Ava DuVernay, Starring: David Oyelowo as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Carmen Ejogo as Corretta Scott King, Tom Wilkinson as Lyndon B. Johnson, and Tim Roth as Governor George Wallace.

The Reason: Because this movie made me feel unbelievably sad, happy, and disgusted with human nature. It also showed a side of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that, at least from what I’ve seen or heard of, that hasn’t really been shown before. He was doubtful, he had affairs, he smoked cigarettes, and he used race to solve conflicts. He was, and I hate this term, but a race-baiter. The scene where this is incredibly relevant is when Lyndon B. Johnson accused King of wanting some white people to get hurt and King doesn’t deny it. That’s not to say that he went in with the intention that a lot of white people were going to die or hoping that they would, but rather that he knew the power of race and he was going to use. Also, the scene in which the two African Americans get killed in the restaurant nearly broke me.

Favorite Scene: The scene where King finds out that two white priests have been killed and he nearly falls flat on his face. But he doesn’t. He composes himself and the next thing he says is “Get me the President on the phone” or something to that effect. He was upset with the loss of life but he also understood how this could be used to push policy and get the President to do what he wanted and what African Americans needed in the south.

2. Birdman Directed by: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Starring: Michael Keaton as Riggan, Emma Stone as Sam, Naomi Watts as Lesley, and Edward Norton as Mike.

The Reason: The cinematography. The meta-ness of this film. The story. The single shot. The acting. The relevance to Hollywood’s obsession with trilogies and superhero movies. All of it. Michael Keaton gets the most love from me within this film. He came right out of nowhere and played a character and acted like I personally have never seen him do before. He was utterly fantastic.

Favorite Scene: The final performance with Michael Keaton

3. American Sniper Directed by: Clint Eastwood, Starring: Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle and Sienna Miller as Taya

The Reason: Because Bradley Cooper gives one hell of a performance, the story is quite good, and I think it is neither a pro-war film nor an anti-war film. It’s a film focusing on one man’s story and relationship to the Afghanistan/Iraq war. It shows his relationship to it, how it affects him physically and emotionally and how it affects his family as well. It’s a movie that’s similar to The Hurt Locker in that it just shows war without, I believe, any politically agenda behind it. Which does not mean, of course, that it hasn’t been.

Favorite Scene: The scene in which Bradley Cooper nearly assassinates the kid who is picking up the rocket launcher. His facial expression, the noise that he makes, his eyes, his tone, everything within that minute scene were just spot on and appeared completely realistic.

4. The Grand Budapest Hotel Directed By: Wes Anderson, Starring: Ralph Fiennes as M. Gustave, F. Murrary Abraham as Mr. Moustafa, Jude Law as the young writer, Tom Wilkinson as Author, Tilda Swinton as Madame D. Tony Revolori as Zero, Edward Norton as Henckels, Adrien Brody as Dmitri, and Willem Defoe as Jopling, and Jeff Goldblum as Deputy Kovacks

The Reason: I am usually not a fan of Wes Anderson films. I liked Fantastic Mr. Fox, did not enjoy the Royal Tenebaums, and wasn’t a huge fan of Rushmore. The awkwardness of his characters usually bothers me. The characters in Grand Budapest are fantastic and the story is really really good. I loved Revolori and Fiennes and I thought they actually did seem like mentee and mentor. Their relationship was fantastic and it felt real. And the ending, ugh, was heart-wrenching.

Favorite Scene: The two scenes on the train. I liked how it encompassed so many things, mis-use of power, love, and strength. They were so well done and the ending to the second train scene was heart breaking.

5. The Theory of Everything Directed by: James Marsh, Starring: Eddie Redmayne, as Stephen Hawking, Felicity Jones as Jane Hawking, and Charlie Cox as Johnathan Hellyer Jones

The Reason: Because this movie is good, but not great. Eddie Redmayne’s performance is incredible and he does come across as Sir Hawking in a majority of a scenes but the story wasn’t as captivating as say Selma. Where Selma made me bawl, The Theory of Everything made me slightly upset. It’s a story that needs to be told and should be but I just didn’t think it was spectacular.

Favorite Scene: The most upsetting and emotionally draining scene was where Hawking struggles up the stairs and finds himself looking up at his child at the top of the stairs. This was a well shot scene that displayed exceptionally well just how debilitating his disease was both physically and emotionally.

6. Boyhood Directed by: Richard Linklater, Starring Ellar Contrane as Mason, Patricia Arquette as Mom, Lorelei Linklater as Samantha, and Ethan Hawke as Dad

Reason: God I really did want to love this movie. I remember first hearing about it and seeing that trailer and just being blown away. This movie had so much potential but the one reason why I was very dissatisfied with the film over all was due to Ellar Coltrane’s performance. He was an affectively neutral kid who never got upset, angry, or even screamed for that matter, and performances like that only get better when the character goes to the other end of a scale. A character I appreciate is one who “loses it”. Let’s say the individual who has everything planned out and nothing goes according to plan, nothing. I want to see how that character reacts and I want to see how the actor performs it. Anyone can play the stoner Brad Pitt from True Romance but not many people can play Walter White as he runs over two drug dealers in an attempt to save Jesse Pinkman’s life. Matter of fact, not many people can play Walter White or Jesse Pinkman, two individuals who are rarely ever affectively neutral. And it is so frustrating because there were moments in which Mason could have reacted, he could have been angry, mad, thrown something at the wall, he had two deadbeat alcoholic stepfathers, but we don’t see any of that. Ellar Coltrane was exactly that and the phenomenal performances from Arquette and Hawke could not save this movie for me. I loved the methodology for this film but the performances were just lackluster. I also was not a huge fan of Linklater’s use of media to beat it over the viewer’s head to show the viewer what era it was. He did it several times throughout with the use of Samantha singing “Oops I did it Again” and the song choices he used throughout the film. I thought it was a bit much and it felt somewhat forced to me

Favorite Scene: The scene in which Mason and his sister are their step-siblings are being questioned by their alcoholic stepfather. It’s a tense film that came across as incredibly realistic and very disturbing.

7. The Imitation Game Directed by: Morten Tyldum, Starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Allen Turing, Keira Knightley as Joan Clarke, Matthew Goode as Hugh Alexander, Mark Strong as Stewart Menzies, and Charles Dance as Commander Denniston

The Reason: Ugh. This movie should have been darker, rawer, and grittier. It was too “Disney” for me. The scene that did it for me, when Turing and his team did the Three Musketeers, all for one and one for all. He was told that he was being kicked off the team and despite him being rude and incredibly short to his team mates they say, “If you take Turing off this case, we’re going too”. It just felt too forced and incredibly scripted. I think Turring’s story is a story that needs to be told but I think that the story was too washed out in order to be more accessible by a wider audience and because of that, it lost me. I also wish more time was spent explaining the machine. I know, science isn’t often sexy, but I just got sick of him offering very little information as to how his machine worked and just shots of him constantly tinkering at it.

Favorite Scene: I guess the scene in which the viewer sees Turing post chemical castration. This is a gut-wrenching scene and Benedict Cumberbatch plays it quite well.

I Want to Fly with “Birdman”

In Uncategorized on January 4, 2015 at 5:50 pm

“Birdman” was one of the best films I have seen in an incredibly long time. It is a film that I may have to see again not only because I want to but because I feel that Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu deserves to have as much money thrown at him as possible for making this film. I should really say that no only does he deserve recognition, rather, that anyone loosely associated with this film deserves recognition. In the age of franchises, sequels, and blockbuster explosions, “Birdman” tells an original story and it is a movie that will be spliced, discussed, and examined for years to come. If you consider yourself a cinaphile, watch this movie.

“Birdman” tells the story of Riggan Thomas (Michael Keaton), an aging actor who left Hollywood because he no longer wanted to continue making Birdman films and decided, instead, to adapt and start in a Raymond Carver story titled “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”. The film begins a few nights before the show previews and Riggan must find another actor to replace a pivotal character. Lucky for him, Mike Shiner (Edward Norton) is free and has been rehearsing with Lesley (Naomi Watts) who also stars in the production. Because of this, Shiner knows all of the lines and comes with Broadway experience that equally frustrates and amazes Riggan. As the movie continues, the viewer finds from Riggan’s attorney Jake (Zach Galifianakis) that everything that Riggan has is on the line for this film, that Riggan’s relationship with his daughter Sam (Emma Stone) is severely strained, and that his lover Laura (Andrea Riseborough) may be pregnant.

This entire story is shown utilizing, basically, a single shot. There are some scenes where some craft editing is done, but with the utilization of a handheld camera, the story unfolds in a raw fashion, where the viewer feels closer to the characters and the characters themselves appear real. It was a fantastic movie, shots and interactions of which gave me chills.

Edward Norton is Mike Shiner. There appears to be no instance in which he broke from that character and his interactions with Emma Stone and Michael Keaton are fantastic. His monologues discussing the difference between Hollywood and Broadway will be quoted and studied for many years following this film.

I have no idea where Keaton pulled whatever he pulled to make this film, but he did it and he is unrecognizable. Seriously. It is a fairly meta film, he did play Batman as we all know, but the scenes when he goes on stage and when he begins to question his decision regarding this play, are Oscar-worthy.

The award winning part of this film, is the cinematography. I haven’t seen all of the presumed Oscar contenders, BUT, this film deserves the award for its cinematography. Some of the shots were set up so superbly and left me astounded as to how Inarritu did it.

This move set the standard for filmography and story telling and it something everyone needs to see and directors need to strive to create films as good as “Birdman”

Why I Will Never Go “Into the Woods” and Why You Shouldn’t Either

In Uncategorized on January 4, 2015 at 5:27 pm

Because, basically, it’s a crap film. I, personally, am not a huge fan of musicals, but given the hype machine surrounding this film, I agreed to see it and it was pretty terrible. The pacing was off, it stopped being a musical about halfway through the movie, and Johhny Depp as The Wolf was fairly disgusting. It also wasn’t that funny and I’ve heard that the musical is much better.

“Into the Woods” was directed by Rob Marshall based upon the musical created by Stephen Sondheim. This films involved the combination of Little Red Riding HoodRapunzel, Jack and the Bean Stalk, and Cinderella. This story includes three new characters, the Baker (James Corden), the Baker’s Wife (Emily Blunt), and the Witch (Meryl Streep) and all of these characters come together in the woods when the Witch is told that the Barker’s Wife can only give birth after a curse has been lifted. This curse was placed upon the Baker’s father for stealing the Witch’s magic beans and the Baker and his wife must collect various items from Jack (Daniel Huttlestone), Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), and Rapunzel (Mackenzie Mauzy). Throughout the movie there are various exposition-ary songs that explain everyone’s role within the film and what they want to gain from life.

The major downfall of this film is the pacing, it is a back heavy film where the second part includes very little singing, is fairly dark, and drags on and on and on and on. I presumed that the film had about half an hour 45 minutes left in it. Nope. It goes on for nearly an hour, none of which was necessary.

It was also not at all funny, which I am told, was one of the best parts of the musical. There were scenes where the character stepped out of themselves to comment on something that he or she had done that, from the audience’s point of view, was stupid. But these moments were sprinkled throughout, when this film should have been saturated with it.

The Wolf was a rapist and watching him sing and gaze upon a young girl, whose skin he describes quite clearly, is incredibly uncomfortable. I am told that Little Red Riding Hood was played by an adult in the musical and the use of a child actress within this film for this scene was careless and disgusting. Seriously, the song should have been cut or Little Red Riding Hood should have been played by an adult.

Finally, my last little pet peeve about this film, is that when the Giantess (Frances de la Tour) for some reason the camera shot only goes so far as to include her nose all the way down to here feet. Her eyes are rarely visible. It happens enough times within this film to be incredibly annoying and bothersome.

My thoughts, this movie was a waste of time and money. If you haven’t seen it. Don’t.


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