Monday, February 25, 2013

85th annual academy awards

Only 10 right this year, despite all the effort to watch as many movies as possible.  But I'm happy to have been wrong on some of these categories.
(Let me set this straight - this isn't a ballot of who I want to win; it's a ballot to win the $20 pool, so it's picks of who I think the Academy will choose.  This year, they surprised me more than once.)

- Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained?  I did not think they'd let him win two nominations in a row for playing a German dude in a Quentin Tarantino film, no matter how good he was.

- Ang Lee for Directing Life of Pi, over Spielberg?  That was amazing!  I know I've already expounded over how much I loved Life of Pi.  I thought it was pretty much impossible to adapt that book into a movie, and yet... Personally, I thought they should have really won for Best Adapted Screenplay as well.

- Original Score for Life of Pi: wow.  I totally did not expect that.  I mean, I knew Adele was going to win for Skyfall (a more appropriate Bond song could not have been asked for); but Pi's Lullaby was so poignant, it made my heart ache.  The true power of music: to translate emotion without language. I was really happy to see Mychael Danna pick up the Oscar for Original Score.

I am disappointed to see:
- Beasts of the Southern Wild get so little love.  I thought it was drop-dead fabulous.  Quvenzhan√© Wallis was simply outstanding, making it pretty incredible that her little shoulders carried such a load.  (Makes me wonder if she's even acting or just reacting?  then it makes me wonder if it even matters?)
- that they chose to revisit old musicals and not actually allow the five nominees for Best Song perform on the big night.
- so many safe, boring speeches (thanking your lawyer?  really?).  At least DDL had fun with his.  The silver lining really was the Jaws theme ushering people off-stage. 

...and thus brings us to the end of the 2012 award season.  I like Seth McFarlane - he was quick-witted and just the right amount of irreverent.  He's allowed to come back.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

2013 Oscar Roundup

As a rule, I don't usually review DVDs.  What's a rule without exceptions though?  This week, I watched the final four movies in the list.  Here they are, in the order in which they were watched.

Beasts of the Southern Wild: I really enjoyed this movie.  Maybe it was the father-daughter relationship, maybe it was all Hushpuppy, heck maybe it was the idea of living in a bathtub... I don't know, but there was something magical about the whole thing.  There was this scene, let's call it the "slow dancing" scene (you'll know it when you see it), that really made the movie: it had everything from nostalgic yearning to hard determination.  And then there Miss Quvenzhan√© Wallis. She was simply divine, perfect mixture of stubborn brat, southern charm, and heartbreaking innocence.  I can see why they had to include her in the Best Actress category - she deserves it.  All in all, a great movie: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

The Sessions: having no idea what this movie was about before watching it, I was surprised by how quirky it turned out to be.  I knew Helen Hunt was in it (best supporting actress nomination), and she was okay, but nothing super special.  Was a bit surprised that John Hawkes was passed over though!  Given the limited movements that his role demanded, he was able to really carry scenes.  And, as we'll discuss below, there is room in the Best Actor category.  had this not been an Oscar movie, i would never have watched it - and it would have been my loss.  I recommend it.  3.5 out of 5 stars

Flight: when I saw Flight in the theatres, I took a pass on it.  To me, it looked like another Training Day.  Turns out, I was bang-on.  This is another Denzel flick, doing what Denzel does: being a complicated anti-hero, who you want to save as much as you want to punish.  So, of course, Denzel gets nominated.  Sigh.  Anyway, the movie as a whole is entertaining enough - it's suspenseful, interesting, and has a nice deep cast: John Goodman?  I LOVE that guy!  Kelly Reilly, I had no idea who she was before but I'm looking out for her now.  and Don Cheadle, whose understated acting style seems to be overlooked for the Denzels of the world, and I find that to be a grand shame.  3.5 out of 5 stars.

The Master: ugh.  This movie is so brutally slow.  Maybe it was the sushi-induced-coma I was in, but I could not keep my attention riveted to this movie at all.  Didn't help that Joaquin Phoenix (Best Actor nomination, who is usually brilliant and whom I actually adore) plays his role as if he, too, is in a walking coma.  And perhaps that's the point.  This seems to be the kind of movie that's making a point, but I didn't get it. (After the movie, I learned it's an "art house" film - that explains much).  Philip Seymour Hoffman (Best Supporting Actor nomination) steals every scene; Amy Adams (best Supporting Actress) uses her Disney charm in an almost-malevolent turn, which was fascinating to watch.  too bad they were barely around.  I am disappointed to see John Hawkes passed over for Phoenix this year.  that was a mistake.  It is telling that The Master is not included in either the picture or directing category.  2 out of 5 stars.


Tonight, I hope to watch the Oscars with Jadek and the family.  We will place our bets during the red carpet preamble.  (I'll try to upload my ballot before showtime, poppets).  Oh, and if you're interested, there's also Best Original Score and Best Original Song.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Now Playing: The Impossible

Last weekend, on our continuing journey to view as many of Big Five category movies as possible, we watched The Impossible, with Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor and a cast of very talented, very young gentlemen.

The plot centres around a family who's Christmas vacation at a Thai resort takes a disastrous turn when a tsunami devastates the country,t based on the real-life Belon family (which I found intensely crazy).  The acting is as good as one would expect of experts like Watts and McGregor; the boys (Holland, Joslin, and Pendergast) were  the real surprise, putting in poignant performances.  In many ways, this is story of children and adults becoming suddenly equals, holding each other up and sharing an unimaginable burden; so it is, that these young gents also rise to that occasion.

I thought the directing and pacing were well done and whoever was in charge of making that tsunami a reality should be praised.  There are some critics who question plot and story; the fact that it's based on a real-life event is answer enough, in my opinion. 

A solid rental 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Now Playing: Amour

I have to admit, I'm wicked late in writing this review.  I'm not really sure where time keeps disappearing, but that's another (probably remaining unwritten) post.  Last weekend, we took in two more Oscar movies.

First: Amour, with Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva.

What is there really to say?  The movie is slow and wilful, confined mostly to the same apartment that reminds me of a professor's office.  The plot is deliberate and the acting extraordinary.  The film leaves no doubt as to how it will end - you don't really nurture a hope for a happy ending, because such an ending would seem disproportionately unrealistic.  There's no grand score that swells and dips as a cue for the audience to be glad or mad or sad.  And since it is a foreign film - so very French - there isn't even the words to guide you.  Not to worry: Georges and Anne take you by the hand and lead the way.

It felt so very stark and stripped down, in all the good ways.  Isabelle Huppert's Eva, the daughter separated by the Channel and obligations, was the real gauge for emotion.  Her eviscerating helplessness and (in many ways unwanted) compassion, was quite touching.  (I may have been making it personal, one eldest daughter to another).  The film is incredibly depressing, no way around that; it is also funny, beautiful, and delicate.  Can a foreign film win Best Picture?  This one could.  4.5 out of 5 stars.