And The Oscar Goes To…(Part 2)

It became clear to me that I had more opinions than I realised about the Oscars so that’s why I’ve had to do a second Oscar related blog post. As mentioned before, at the end of the day a nomination is still an honour and there’s more to a films success than winning an Oscar, however I still love the discussions that take place surrounding the Oscars and they do give a platform to smaller films and they do celebrate achievements in the film industry. If you want a recap of my previous Oscar themed blog post click here to read.

Queen Cate Blanchett

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Blue Jasmine (2013) should have basically been entitled: The Film Where Cate Blanchett Wins An Oscar. The comedy/drama directed by Oscar winning director Woodey Allen gave Cate Blanchett the platform to give a powerhouse of a performance which in turn earned her an Oscar win for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading role in 2014. Cate Blanchett is an incredible actress and gave such an authentic performance with conviction as a woman who has had her life stripped away from her and how she is coping with the choices she’s made.

Cate Blanchett has been nominated for seven Oscars and now is a two time Oscar winning actress (her first win was for her supporting role in 2004’s The Aviator). She is the only Australian actress to win two Oscars and is the only actress to be nominated twice for the same role (of Queen Elizabeth I).

In 2014 Amy Adams was nominated for her fifth Oscar (first for a leading performance) in American Hustle, a performance I loved as it showed a different side to Amy Adams and she played a complex character brilliantly. But as much as I love Amy Adams the Oscar had to go to Blanchett, Blue Jasmine wasn’t perfect and the brilliance of Blanchett’s performance was that she carried the film on her shoulders effortlessly and she kept you watching because her performance was captivating and magnetic. I was so happy for Blanchett’s Oscar win because as soon as I saw her performance in Blue Jasmine in the cinemas I thought that she had to win the Oscar, and thankfully she did.

Amazing Alice

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In 2015 Julianne Moore won her first Oscar for her leading performance in Still Alice (2014) after having been nominated previously four times (twice in 2003 for leading performance in 2002’s Far From Heaven and a supporting role in 2002’s The Hours). Did Julianne Moore deserve her Oscar win in 2015? Yes. It was an honest and raw portrayal of someone losing themselves to Alzheimer’s. This was very much Moore’s film and her moment to show her range in one film.

However, in 2014 Rosamund Pike gave a chilling performance in David Fincher’s Gone Girl for which she was nominated for first Oscar for her leading performance. Talk about range, the character of “Amazing Amy” had many layers and was a complex character. She had to be the loving wife and daughter, the best friend of her neighbour, the psychotic survivalist, she knew how to adapt and play to different people’s emotions. Rosamund Pike portrayed that brilliantly and I was so happy when she was nominated an Oscar.

Personally I would have loved to see Pike win the Oscar but I know people really wanted Moore to win as this was her moment and for what many thought a long overdue win. I’m glad Pike was nominated in any case and hope she finds another meaty role to gain further recognition as well. So in short I’m happy “Amazing Alice” had won the Oscar.

The Oscar Artist

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In 2011 a beautiful French silent film was released and took the world by storm. In one of my earlier blog posts I mentioned The Artist as one of my top 10 favourite films of all time, because it’s a breath of fresh air. At the 2012 Academy Awards The Artist won 5 Oscars; Jean Dujardin was the first French actor to win Best Actor and it was the first film to win Best Picture.

It was so good to see a film that was different and unique sweep up the Oscars and to have had a great critical and commercial response; the film grossed $133 million worldwide against a $15 million budget. I love it when the Academy gives platforms to these smaller films from other countries to bring it to the attention of audiences across the world. I was so happy to see Dujardin win for Best Actor as it was impressive to see the exuberant performance with no words, it was all through actions and facial expressions.

She Dreamed A Dream

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Anne Hathaway is one of my favourite actresses. She had been nominated an Oscar in 2009 for her leading role in Rachel Getting Married (2008) and in 2013 she won the Oscar for Les Misérables (2012) for her supporting role as Fantine. In all honesty Les Misérables wasn’t my favourite film, however Anne Hathway gave one of the most heartbreaking and stunning performances, her I Dreamed a Dream sequence had you completely locked into her performance.

Hathaway received some of the best reviews of her career from Les Misérables,
Christopher Orr from The Atlantic wrote that:

“Hathaway gives it everything she has, beginning in quiet sorrow before building to a woebegone climax: she gasps, she weeps, she coughs. If you are blown away by the scene—as many will be—this may be the film for you.”

That close up shot which was fixated on Hathaway’s face was the standout of the film, and it shows the power of the performance that in a film running over 2 and a half hours people still talk about that one scene. From Princess of Genovia to Oscar Queen.

The Prequel To My Oscar Experience

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As mentioned in my first Oscar blog post, it was 2011 when I started watching the televised Academy Awards however I was still aware of who won in various categories the previous years, the 2009 Oscars were almost like a prequel to my Oscar viewing experience. In 2008 Angelina Jolie gave on of the most convicting and captivating performances I had ever seen in Changeling. Based on a true story, Jolie plays a mother whose son goes missing only to be returned to her convinced that the boy is not her son. The obstacles and challenges her character faces are horrifying and you truly are rooting for her character and Jolie plays the role with such power and force you feel her emotions. I wanted her to win an Oscar for her leading peformance, yes she has won for her supporting role in 2000 for Girl, Interrupted (1999) but she should have won her second Oscar in 2009.

Again, I was only partially aware of what was going on in 2009’s Award season so I didn’t realise that Kate Winslet was the favourite to win for her leading role in 2008’s The Reader. When I heard Winslet won instead of Jolie I was shocked, upset and confused. Jolie gave everything to her performance and it was such a powerful story, what more could she have done to win? In 2009 I hadn’t seen The Reader but did years later, Winslet of course is amazing in it…but more Oscar worthy than Jolie in The Changeling? Not really. I wasn’t happy with Winslet (even though it wasn’t her fault but I was young and naive).

For the record I love Kate Winslet, she is a brilliant actress who selects interesting roles and is consistent in her work. She has been nominated for 7 Oscars, 11 Golden Globes (4 wins) and 8 BAFTA’s (3 wins) over the course of her career. As time has passed on I’m happy to say that she is an Oscar winning actress, however I still can’t see how her performance in The Reader was more deserving than Jolie in Changeling.

At this moment at time I’m at peace with what happened, however there is still a part of me that would have loved to see Jolie walk up to that state and collect the Oscar for one of my favourite performances from an actress.

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Feel free to share your opinions regarding previous Oscar winners and nominees, what are you expecting for at this years Oscars? Feel free to comment below. The 89th Academy Awards are on 26th February 2017.

 

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My Movie Life

Recently I was reading the March 2017 issue of TOTAL FILM magazine and came across a feature which interested me. Director Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko – 2001) did a feature entitled ‘My Movie Life’ in which he gave a list of movie titles he would watch in various circumstances. As I was reading the feature I thought it would be fun to do the same so here are a selection of movies that I’ve selected for these varied topics.

MY DESERT ISLAND MOVIE

Tangled (2010)

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Picking a movie for this section is hard because you have to think of a film that will have a lasting impact. Tangled is a movie which I can watch over and over again. It’s a vibrant, fun and colourful movie with a strong leading character and a welcomed modern twist on a fairytale classic. I will declare Tangled as my favourite Disney movie and will even go as far as to say Tangled has one of the best soundtracks for a Disney animation (even better than Frozen – 2013).

THE MOVIE THAT MAKES ME CRY

Never Let Me Go (2010)

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In all honestly I haven’t physically cried at this movie (the last movie I actually cried at was the 2005 movie King Kong when I was 12, no joke) but Never Let Me Go is the most thought provoking and emotionally raw movie I have ever seen. It’s a very effortless and understated movie which is also very poignant and emotionally captivating. This is a movie with a powerful ending due to its subtlety and leaves you with a lot to ponder over. You won’t be sorry to have watched it.

THE LAST MOVE I WATCHED ON A PLANE

Date Night (2010)

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Tina Fey plus Steve Carrell equals an enjoyable watch. Don’t judge me as it was 3am in the morning (I think) and it was on a long flight back home from Africa so I wanted to watch something fun and light hearted. I had watched movies like Midnight Special (2016), Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind (2004)...ahem…Daddy’s Home (2015)...but Date Night is the last movie I have watched on a plane.

THE MOVIE I WISHED I DIRECTED

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

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Not that I could ever reach the towering heights of Oscar winner Peter Jackson’s brilliance but of course directing my favourite movie ever would be amazing. Directing a movie with huge spectacle rooted in depth is something a lot of filmmakers could learn from (maybe Christopher Nolan and Peter Jackson could teach the world that lesson).

MY FAVOURITE MOVIE THAT MESSED WITH MY HEAD

Gone Girl (2014)

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There’s not enough words to do justice of the major plot twist that Gillian Flynn writes for both novel and movie version of Gone Girl. The moment which really grabbed me was halfway through the book/movie when Amy says…

*SPOILER*

“I’m so glad now that I’m dead.”

I literally gasped and was so shocked. I’m pretty clueless in general but even this plot twist caught me off guard. From that point onwards the plot escalates and Amy is fully let out of her cage.

Even though I knew what would happen in the movie it didn’t lose its impact as Oscar nominee Rosamund Pike perfect encapsulates the character of Amazing Amy. The movie is brilliantly crazy in a perfectly calculated way. You’ll finish the movie trying to process everything that has happen, it definitely leaves an impact.

THE MOVIE I LOVE THAT NOBODY TALKS ABOUT 

Sing Street (2016)

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Easily one of the best movies last year! I was surprised how much I enjoyed it when I watched it at the cinema but my love for the movie has only grown stronger. There’s such an authenticity in all respects that is endearing and engaging. It also helps that it has an incredible soundtrack with songs that won’t leave you.

It is an indie movie that premiered at Sundance 2016 and sadly not many people (hardly anyone) knows about this movie from the people I talk to. There’s something fun about feeling like you’ve found a hidden gem but at the same time it’s criminal that not more people know about Sing Street. It was nominated a Golden Globe after all.

 

It’s fun trying to fit different films in various categories, it’s worth a try to do what I just did for this blog post yourself.

Actors Appreciation Season: BEN AFFLECK

Welcome back to Actors Appreciation Season! I’ve been figuring out which actor I should focus on next, this time I’ll be talking about the one role that caught my attention and that would be Ben Affleck in Gone Girl. Ben Affleck has had his fair share of media scrutiny and has experienced the harshness of film critics, and he has risen above by winning his second Oscar for Best Picture in 2013 for Argo. He also won Best Director in 2013 for Argo at the BAFTA’s, in which he mentioned about being thankful for his new lease of life in his career, his second act.

“This is a second act for me – you’ve given me that and I’m so grateful and proud. I want to dedicate this to anyone that’s trying to get their second act because you can do it,”

After his Oscar win for Best Writing in 1998 for Good Will Hunting (alongside Matt Damon) he has had quite an experience as an actor, starring in box office flops like Gigli and critically panned films like Daredevil (for which audiences haven’t forgotten about when he was cast as Batman in the follow up to Man of Steel) but that all changed once he took hold of his career and started doing work behind the camera with 2007’s Gone Baby Gone. He then directed The Town and his critically acclaimed Argo.

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He still hasn’t given up on acting as he delayed his next directorial effort (Live By Night) so that he could work with David Fincher on 2014’s Gone Girl. This role was perfect for him as he understood what it was like to be perceived and judged by the media as he mentions in the October 2014 edition of Empire Magazine. Ben Affleck totally commits to the role and you go on his characters crazy journey to find out the fate of his missing wife.

Ben Affleck is willing to learn as well. As the established actor and director that he is, Affleck still wants to develop his craft as a director, as he mentions one of the reasons he agreed to play in Gone Girl, “Honestly, I thought, ‘It’ll probably make me a lot of a better director, for next time,’…”* This role for Affleck is layered, it’s not just a role but it is a chance to acknowledge his past and tell audiences that he is serious about his work and his love for filmmaking. Affleck plays a character that doesn’t fit the conventions of a leading man, this gives him a chance to take on different roles and challenge audiences perceptions of him.

Not only with his character, Nick Dunne, but with the whole film itself there are developments and discoveries that will shock audiences. Gone Girl starts as a missing person drama type thriller, but evolves into a film you didn’t know you were watching.

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Let’s not kid ourselves, Gone Girl is Rosamund Pike’s film as she totally owns it. However, Ben Affleck is a great co-star that has a great on screen chemistry with Pike and they both deliver an interesting dynamic as the dysfunctional married couple (I’ve said too much already). Watch the film to see their incredible performances and see Ben Affleck like you’ve never seen him before. His performance in the film is very convincing, you believe this character and there is a genuine nature to Affleck’s approach to the role.

It’s hard to describe in full how Affleck’s performance pays off without giving away any spoilers, but I will say that Affleck brilliantly showcases different sides of the character through his acting style. Also as the audience, it could be argued that you feel like a spectator and Nick allows you to go on the journey with him so that he’s not isolated by the situations that come upon him through the course of the film.


*EMPIRE Magazine. October 2014. Page 67.

BAFTA Film Awards 2015

Instead of doing a blog post about the BAFTAs, I got distracted by the Spider-Man news. So now I will review the major winners and share my thoughts on them. In general, whilst it was predictable, I’m happy with the winners. Still, whilst their victories are well deserved, deep down I would have preferred other nominees to have won. Let’s review the films that found the most success on the evening!

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The Grand Budapest Hotel won 5 BAFTAs, including Best Original Screenplay and many of the production design awards. It was also nominated for Best Leading Actor (Ralph Fiennes) Best Film and Best Director (Wes Anderson). As mentioned in my previous blog, this is an incredible success considering the film was released 11 months ago, which is a lifetime in Award Show times. It is a gem of a film, full of vibrancy and off beat humour. This film deserves all the production design awards as it was a visual feast for the eyes, and it should find success at the Oscars.

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The Theory of Everything was also another strong winner, scooping up the awards for Best Actor (Eddie Redmayne), Outstanding British Film and Best Adapted Screenplay (Anthony McCarten). The Theory of Everything is a beautiful film with compelling performances from Oscar nominees Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones, both giving convincing performances that draw you into the film. As much as I would have loved Benedict Cumberbatch to win, Redmayne is a worthy winner as he had that edge to his performance. It’s rare that you forget who the actor is in the film playing a certain character, but with Redmayne you believed he was Stephen Hawkings.

In relation to its Outstanding British Film win, it did posses a quintessential English quality. The film is so quaint yet with strength by dealing with the deeper topics of physical deteration and what effect it can have on a marriage. It also shows the strength of Felicity Jone’s character, Jane Hawkings, to support and fight for her husband. It’s always going to be a close race between this film and The Imitation Game, and so far the theory is that this films will scoop up everything at the award shows.

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Boyhood was the major winner, winning Best Film, Best Director (Richard Linklater) and Best Supporting Actress (Patricia Arquette). It’s one of those films which deserves to win because of how unique and original the concept it, yet if it hadn’t been filmed over 12 years, would it still have the same effect? Who knows, but it is great to see a low budget film overtake it’s competition emerging as the Best Film of the awards season.

Richard Linklater definitely deserved his win for creating a refreshing concept and being bold enough to be unconventional in filmmaking. I still can’t believe that Linklater also directed School of Rock! Both great but totally different films. Patricia Arquette deserves her win, but to be honest I would have loved to see Emma Stone or Keira Knightley win. However, Boyhood deserves all the success it has received and I assume this is how it will fare at the Oscars next week.

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Julianne Moore won the Best Leading Actress award for her role in Still Alice. The film has yet to be released in the UK so I haven’t seen it yet, but she’s received critical acclaim for her performance. She has already won the Golden Globe for Best Actress and has been nominated an Oscar for her role. This is her first BAFTA win and now becoming a five time Oscar nominee, it’s safe to assume she’ll walk away with the prestigious Academy Award. She may deserve all the success for her role in Still Alice, but my guess is that it is more of a celebration of her career rather than celebrating a specific role. So that’s how I knew the other nominees had no chance and they probably shouldn’t prepare an acceptance speech at the Oscars this year.

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If I had my way, I would have loved to see Rosamund Pike win for her role in Gone Girl. A completely transformative role that has truly put her on the map. But this is her first nomination and it was her first Golden Globe and Oscar nomination, so fair enough by giving the awards to Julianne Moore. Also it’s great seeing Felicity Jones gaining some overdue recognition, after catching people’s attention in the 2011 indie hit Like Crazy. Good thing I prepared myself for Pike and Jones losing to Moore, it’s most likely the same result will occur next week.

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Clearly I haven’t mentioned the Oscars enough in this blog post, so if you hadn’t noticed, next Sunday the Academy Awards will take place (showing at 1:30am on the 23rd February in the UK) and I’m so excited!

What are your thoughts on this years BAFTA winners and is it a good indication of how things will go next week?

The Final Countdown

In all honesty, there have been stronger years for film. There hasn’t been that one film that stands above all. However, that is not to say this year hasn’t delivered some exciting and thrilling films. For this blog post I have selected my top 5 films of the year, giving an explanation for their rankings. From Superhero epics to dark and thrilling dramas, this list represents my varied taste in film. With 2015 close in sight, I’m really excited to see what the future holds for film!

5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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Captain America is my favourite Avenger. Chris Evans will always be the Human Torch to me, but he struck out when he took on the role of the titular character, who demonstrates some old school superhero action. Whereas the 2011 film was more stripped back and set in a different era, the sequel changes the gear into a spy thriller. Black Widow makes a great counterpart for Captain America, bringing that Marvel wit and humour as well as some incredible action scenes. Whilst this is the best Marvel film to date, the thing I appreciated about the first film was that it was standalone. With the news of Captain America teaming up with Iron Man for the 2016 sequel, as exciting as it sounds, they should actually focus on the leading character. However, Captain America takes full reigns on this film and delivers some great moments. One of Marvels solid entries that feels more than just a superhero film.

4. Edge of Tomorrow

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Live. Die. Repeat. Whatever title you want to call it. Tom cruise plays a different type of character, the reverse of his experienced action heroes and Emily Blunt is the highlight as the Full Metal…(watch the film and you’ll find out). Despite being based on the Japanese light novel All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, preventing the film to labelled as original, it stood out against the crowd of a summer filled with sequels and reboots. It was also refreshing to watch a film knowing that there was no intention of a sequel, and that allowed us to focus more on the film. This is coming from someone who has no major issues with sequels or franchises, but it felt unique to see such a strong and solid effort knowing Iron Man wasn’t teaming up for the sequel. Overall, this was an exciting blockbuster with an international flair and with some brains.

3. The Fault in Our Stars

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A love story between two cancer affected teenagers equals a $300 million blockbuster. Why you ask? Because it never fees dreary or allows cancer to be the the sole lead of the film. What drives this film is the organic love story between Shailene Woodley’s and Ansel Elgort’s characters. It moves seamlessly between comedy and drama in a genuine manner. I remember watching the trailer thinking it would be extremely cheesy and soppy, but the finished product is actually a deeply emotional yet heart warming take on quite a morbid topic. It also makes you think about life itself and how the two leading characters have had everything against them, but never let it define them. Woodley and Elgort have a natural chemistry between them. This film definitely surprised me in the best way and I would strongly recommend this film to people.

2. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I

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Let’s be honest here, the final book could have been translated to one film. Yet, allowing the book to be split into two films, we go deeper into character and narrative development. This is the most serious and emotional entry of the franchise. Katniss (Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence) is broken and needs to pick herself up to become the Mockingjay. As always, Lawrence gives an emotive performance and brings substance to the film. Even Josh Hutcherson goes deeper in his role and does not hold back. Thankfully the film fleshed out Effie’s character and was one of the highlights of the film, Elizabeth Banks effortlessly draws out the humour and the depth of the character. I’ve heard that people have been let down by the lack of action, however I would counter argue that with the fact that this is an thought provoking and stripped back blockbuster, which is rare to see these days. Strong performances from Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Jennifer Lawrence add something extra to the film and the anticipation for the final entry is strong. Having read the books I can tell you, if you weren’t happy with this film you will be extremely excited for Part 2.

1. Gone Girl

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Having devoured the book, I was eager to watch this adaptation. This has to be one of the intelligent and most chilling films of the year. The highlight of this film is the incredibly convicting performance from Rosamund Pike. How she so easily flowed in and out of Amy’s many characterisations, she breathed life into the character and gave us chills. It is also a very strong adaptation, author of the book Gillian Flynn adapted her own book to the screen with no mercy. She acknowledged how she needed to rehash it and reinterpret it for the screen. For if the whole book was translated to screen it would be an extremely long film. David Fincher delivers a cold and calculated thriller which draws you in, even if you’ve read the book. The film stays with you after viewing it, making you think about the many themes it draws upon. 

What have your favourite films of the year been? Feel free to comment or share! Do you agree with my list or have strong objections? Let’s hope 2015 is an epic year for film!