Tag Archives: kate winslet

Netflix Can Get You Ready For Awards Season

Award season is in full swing so I thought I would take this opportunity to make my first post of the new content I plan on bringing to showcase some of the movies available on Netflix that were either Best Picture winners or nominees. There are several movies available to choose from but I have chosen just a few of my personal favorites that you might enjoy.

The Godfather Parts 1 and 2

Francis Ford Coppola’s masterpieces are the first two that really stand out. Long considered two of the best films ever made as well as the only movies where both parts one and two BOTH won the best picture at the academy awards. While nominated for several awards each it might be surprising that they did not win as much as you would think of for such highly regarded masterpieces. With two outstanding performances by Al Pacino yet he received no hardware for either performance while his counterpart in the second installment, Robert De Niro received his first Oscar for playing a young Vito Corleone in Godfather Part II. if you are going to take a look at awards movies this is the perfect place to start.

Spotlight

The best picture winner at the 2016 awards ceremony is a hard-hitting look at the effects journalism can have on communities as well as the world. An in-depth look at how the Boston Globe single-handedly brought Boston’s powerful Catholic church to its knees and the domino effect it had on the country as well as the world. With an all-star cast it conveys the hard work and courage of those needed to tell this remarkable and harrowing story. You can read my full review from 2 years ago here.

The Shawshank Redemption

For years now Shawshank has been number 1 on IMDb’s viewers top 250 rated movies of all time with a 9.3 rating out of 10. With career-defining roles from Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman, it is captivating from being to end the emotion that goes through the story goes equally through the viewer. Most shocking of all was that although nominated for 7 Academy Awards it walked away with exactly zero wins. It would be one of the movies that would go on to show the academy and viewers that time proves greatness, not ticket sales because the movie was ultimately considered not box office success. I wrote a commentary about this very thing a few years back and you can read it right here.

The Reader

Speaking of career-defining roles, The Reader was the movie that finally gave Kate Winslet her night on the podium to take home Oscar in 2009. She was a double nominee at the Golden Globes that year but it was The Reader that brought her gold that night. She plays Hannah Schmitz a former Nazi guard at a concentration camp who forms an unusual attachment to a young boy who she has a brief love affair with who she also enjoys having him read to her. The two are brought together again years later when he is a law student and she is put on trial for her war crimes in which her illiteracy leads to her being the only one convicted. As an adult, he strikes up a correspondence with her that ultimately leads to her putting an end to her illiteracy. You can also find other films of hers that are fantastic in a top 5 list I put together here.

Michael Clayton

Finally is one of George Clooney’s greats films and performance as the attorney/fixer, Michael Clayton. Nominated for 7 Academy Awards in 2008 which included the best picture and best actor for Clooney yet only brought home one for best-supporting actress for Tilda Swinton. Michael Clayton is an attorney with a special skillset who is used by a law firm to get the things done that no one else is willing to do. He is thrust into the firms biggest case when its lead attorney has a manic episode and threatens to wreck a case worth hundreds of millions of dollars. With an intense story that has you captured from start to finish Michael Clayton is without question a defining moment in the career of George Clooney. It also features an underrated supporting role for Sydney Pollack as this was his next to last acting role before he died in early 2008 just a few months after the Oscar ceremony. For other George Clooney selections, you may be interested in finding check out a top 5 list I put together here.

Well, there you have it, just a few movies worth checking out to get you in the mood for the always fun award season.

Review: Wonder Wheel

Nobody makes a film that oozes nostalgia better than Woody Allen. Despite what opinions people hold about Allen, especially in this very polarizing time within the industry and the world in general, he is truly one of the greatest American filmmakers ever. Woody has always had a way of making 20th century period pieces that make the viewer long for a time that they may not have even lived in.

Allen’s latest effort is set against the backdrop of post-war New York on the famous Coney Island. Known for its famous rides (such as the cyclone and the famous Ferris wheel, Wonder Wheel) and famous Nathan’s hot dogs, it was a magical place for anyone growing up in such a time and place. Kate Winslet leads an all-star cast as she plays Ginny, a middle-aged woman, and mother on her second marriage to a carousel operator who has a difficult time laying off the bottle. Ginny is stuck in a rut as her young son has become a pyromaniac and can’t stop setting fires all over. She is a waitress who feels like life is keeping her down as it passes her by when she meets Mickey, a young, good-looking, educated lifeguard. Ginny and Mickey soon strike up an affair when Ginny’s stepdaughter Carolina drops in out of nowhere on the run from her mobster husband who is looking to have her bumped off. After eventually making up with her father Humpty, she slowly begins to make a life for herself while working as a waitress with Ginny and going to night school. Carolina soon meets Mickey and somewhat of a love triangle begins. While Ginny is falling hard for Mickey, his eyes begin to draw towards Carolina. It isn’t long before mobsters find their way to Coney Island looking for Carolina.

Starring alongside Winslet is Jim Belushi as her somewhat buffoonish husband Humpty, Juno Temple as the young and troubled Carolina and Justin Timberlake as the dashing and smart lifeguard Mickey. The cast is very solid with excellent actors all around, but this is one of the only times I can think of where Woody may have gotten some casting wrong. Justin Timberlake has turned

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into quite a good actor but his casting here felt a bit off. He still feels too contemporary to play a young veteran in the 1950’s despite having the right look, his performance didn’t quite seem to match the theme. Despite Timberlake (who still does a fine job acting) the rest of the cast is spot on as usual for a Woody Allen movie. Belushi is absolutely perfect as the somewhat slobbish yet hardworking, blue-collar husband who just wants to fish and have his wife around with him. Juno Temple is so great as the seemingly innocent young girl on the run yet still hoping to find love despite her current predicament. That leaves Kate Winslet. When I first heard she was going to finally be in a Woody Allen film I could not wait for the release, and she doesn’t disappoint. She conveys the neurotic and frazzled mind that Allen has so often written for his protagonist in so many of his films. You can feel the stress mount on top of her as she falls deeper into her affair along with struggling to be a parent and wife along with having to look over her shoulder for the mafia.

While Wonder Wheel has a great storyline along with a picturesque setting, it is not one of Woody’s best. While to say the film is bad or not good is not at all accurate either, it just felt like something was off. Winslet is without a doubt the films saving grace and really exudes the emotion of the character so well. This is in no way a negative review of the movie. Allen writes AND directs a movie a year all at the age of 82 so its fair to say not every film is going to be Annie Hall or Midnight In Paris, we have just come to have such sky high expectations of him. Wonder Wheel is a beautiful look at a time in life when things didn’t seem so complicated and a time which people seem to long for. One of the things we see though is that, things were complicated even then, despite what we think or remember.

Kate Winslet Is The Perfect Hollywood Actress. Top 5 Favorite Films

imageWithout a doubt, one of my favorite actresses is Kate Winslet. She is the quintessential British actress, she is fearless, natural and does everything 100% and makes it great. I am excited every time I see a trailer for one of her new movies, my anticipation is its highest. She frequently uses the term “ballsy” to describe her characters. The term could easily be described about Winslet herself and her choice of films. She has never been stereotyped other than having the reputation for being great at what she does.

When I decided I was going to choose my top 5 favorite Winslet movies I realized I had taken up a very difficult topic. Professionally acting since she was very young, her credits begin in 1991 when she was 16 and it would be just 3 years her breakthrough role come to her. A small independent film with a young director, Oscar winner Peter Jackson. The film, Heavenly Creatures would be a smash hit in the independent film world and Winslet never looked back. Two years later she received her first Oscar nomination for Sense And Sensibility. The year after that she was the lead character in the juggernaut film, Titanic.

Since all of this, Winslet’s resume reads like the stats of a baseball

(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

hall of famer. Since her first Oscar nomination, she has received 7 total nominations and 1 win for her performance in The Reader. She has 11 Golden Globe nominations with 4 wins. 8 SAG award nominations and 3 wins and finally 8 BAFTA nominations and 3 wins… All in the last 20 years. These are accolades equal to some of the best actors and actresses in the history of the industry. With all that said, on to the list of my top 5 favorite Kate Winslet roles.
5. Mildred Pierce

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The only role on the list that wasn’t theatrically released, the 5 part HBO miniseries was completely carried and focused on Winslet. Kate was in every scene of the epic series and her performance made everything good about the series, even better. Her ability to give the character the a fierce personality and watch her become humble and almost broken, shows the talent that we have come to expect every time out.

4. Steve Jobs

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This role in last years biopic gave her, her seventh Oscar nomination and won her a fourth Golden Globe and her third BAFTA award. The role of Joanna Hoffman was a particularly challenging one for her due to a few reasons. First this was the first time that Winslet had to tackle the difficult task of mastering Aaron Sorkin’s fast paced, back and forth dialogue. She passed that test with flying colors. The second difficulty was one that she had mastered, the slight Polish accent was beautifully done. There would have been no debate if she had taken home the Oscar instead of Alicia Vikander. Full Film Review Here

3. Revolutionary Road

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Revolutionary Road marked the second time she teamed up with extremely close friend Leonardo Di Caprio and first time working with her husband at the time, Oscar winner Sam Mendes. Movie fans everywhere had been eagerly awaiting Winslet and Leo to reunite on screen, and they did not disappoint. It proved to be the perfect choice for a reunion. They played anything but the perfect couple everyone remembered from Titanic, as well as showing how much they had both grown as actors and people. She won the Golden Globe for her performance in the leading dramatic actress category. It would prove to be a historic night for Winslet.

2. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

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Her fourth Oscar nomination would come in 2004 for her masterful performance as Clemintine Kruczynski in Michel Gondry’s opus, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind. Playing opposite Jim Carrey, who was wonderful himself, she pulled in what has been called one of the 100 greatest performances ever. The only reason she didn’t walk away with the Oscar was because of the buzz saw that year in the form of Hilary Swank. With an all star cast, Winslet stood out, way out. Full Film Review Here

  1. The Reader

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There is no question this was her best role in my opinion. She finally took home Oscar gold for playing Hanna Schmitz. The incredibly moving and stirring story was made palpable by Winslet. The story of an eventually convicted Nazi war criminal and her intimate relationship with a young student who opens her up to all kinds of literature and stories, is so powerful it leaves an indelible mark. Winslet’s performance is a massive reason for this. It is the fear her in her cap. One thing is for sure, she’s not done churning out award winning performances by a long shot.

A Look Into The Best Supporting Actress Nominees

The best supporting actress category is quite a difficult one to decide this soon after the announcement of the nominations. Usually the Golden Globes and the SAG awards set the path for the Oscar. This year it could be anyone’s guess.

imageJennifer Jason Leigh   The Hateful Eight

When acting in a Quentin Tarantino movie, the possibility of garnering an Academy Award nomination is not out of the ordinary. For Jennifer Jason Leigh her role as the arrogant and sarcastic bounty on her way to be hanged, is no doubt one of the highlights of her career as it brought her the first Oscar nomination in her long career. It’s the kind of character and role that Tarantino loves to create and almost always casts perfectly. Leigh is not exactly the front runner, but is by no means the dark horse in this tight race. Don’t be shocked if she walks away with gold.

imageRooney Mara   Carol

This is the second nomination for Rooney Mara and it is a drastically different role from her first nomination in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Mara plays the shy and self conscious Therese Belivet opposite fellow nominee, Cate Blanchett. The story of a young girl falling in love and having an affair with an older, married woman, has produced much praise and quite a few nominations. Mara one of the top three in this category that are the closest choices.

imageRachel McAdams   Spotlight

Rachel McAdams is one of those stars that really has the great ability to balance between good money making films and is also willing to take on challenging roles. Her roles range from Wedding Crashers and Mean Girls to Woody Allen’s Midnight In Paris and A Most Wanted Man. She has done her best to continue in her diversity and not settle into the easy money and finding her face on billboards all over town. Her portrayal of Boston Globe reporter Sacha Pfeiffer is one of the roles where she isn’t front and center. Her interpretation shows the work ethic and unstoppable ability to find the truth for not only journalistic integrity, but for the quest to find the truth. McAdams is more of a long shot here as evidenced by her somewhat surprising nomination. If Spotlight is going to have a big night it could all start with her.

imageAlicia Vikander   The Danish Girl

Alicia Vikander has been one of the biggest breakout stars of the year with the highly praised sleeper hit, Ex-Machina and of course her nominated role as Gerda Wegener in The Danish Girl opposite fellow nominee, Eddie Redmayne. She is primed to be one of Hollywoods brightest young stars and this could be how it starts, much like it did with Jennifer Lawrence when she was an unknown when she received her first nomination for Winters Bone. Vikander is closer to McAdams in this category when it comes to her odds (again, much like Lawrence’s unlikely first win).

imageKate Winslet   Steve Jobs

Kate Winslet is quickly becoming the next Meryl Streep with now having her seventh nomination in twenty years. This is her first nomination since she won for her extraordinary performance in The Reader seven years ago. This time around, she is playing Steve Jobs long time assistant, Joanna Hoffman in Danny Boyle’s biopic Steve Jobs. The great thing about her performance is that, not only is she up to the task spitting out the insane amount of dialogue writer Aaron Sorkin loads in his films, but she does so with a perfect yet very subtle polish accent. Her accent is not one that fades in and out, but is clearly true of someone highly educated in English speaking schools and who has spent quite a bit of time in America. She delivers what we have come to expect from her so well she can’t be ignored and is the very early favorite in this category as was evidenced by her win at the Golden Globes which even took her by surprise.

So, no hard predictions yet, but a brief look at the first of eight major categories I will take examine before laying out my final ballot.

Steve Jobs Takes A Look At Late Innovator

imageThere have been numerous documentaries and films about the innovations that Steve Jobs created over the 56 years of his life. His contributions to the modern world and the stamp he left is indelible. What is also known about him is his notoriously abrasive personality.

Academy Award winning director Danny Boyle takes a unique look at the man behind some of the most popular products of all time. The film, fittingly titled Steve Jobs, takes a look behind the scenes of three of the biggest launch events in Jobs career and spans over 15 years. While the discussions and interactions are more than likely different compositions of various conversations and interactions with the people that had the most important professional impact on his life.

Danny Boyle teams up with screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, who is quite possibly the greatest writer of dialogue ever, and delivers the intensity of the crucial discussions in the career of Jobs. Michael Fassbender plays the innovative Jobs and what makes his performance great is that he does nothing to do a Steve Jobs impersonation, he just delivers the lines the way they should be.

The movie opens with an interview with famed Sci-Fi author Arthur C. Clarke describes a computer that will be in every home and does everything that every person in the world takes for granted. Steve Jobs had the same foresight that Clarke had and was almost so far ahead of his time it almost destroyed one of the biggest most profitable companies today.

Jobs first scene backstage in 1983 just before the introduction of the Macintosh home PC, which in hindsight would be the template for every home PC to come. Jobs is interacting with his longtime assistant and the closest professionally person, Joanna Hoffman played by the always on point, Kate Winslet.

In the first of the 3 launches Jobs is backstage, battling with an ex-lover over the paternity of his daughter, who he refused to acknowledge as his own. He is also seen berating an engineer over the operation of the test model.

After a montage of news highlights and newspaper quotes documenting the initial failure of the Mac and the companies ultimate imagefiring of co-founder, Jobs, the second of the three launches is about to get underway in 1988. Again, all those close to Jobs make their way into his day, from his daughter (whom he now acknowledges as his) to his mentor John Sculley (who was responsible for Steve’s ultimate firing and the other co-founder Steve Wozniak. Jobs is about to launch his newest computer with his new company NeXT. His assistant Joanna soon deduces that his new product is all a rouse to make Apple feel he is one step ahead of them and hopefully work his way back in charge.

Fast forward 10 years, Apple is on the verge of bankruptcy and Jobs is back in charge and preparing to present the release of the iMac, which is the first home computer specifically designed for surfing the internet. It is in this section that Jobs ultimately reconciles completely with his daughter and once again is confronted by Steve Wozniak and John Sculley. While the climax is ultimately Jobs and his daughter, I couldn’t help but notice how over all the time and after all the bridges he burned, he continued to be just as abrasive as ever. In the end he wasn’t a very nice guy. He gave the world some of the most innovative and used product, but at what expense to himself?

This, of course, is a movie dramatization of various accounts and that should definitely be taken into consideration. The fact that the film didn’t attempt to glorify Jobs or make him seem like someone he most likely wasn’t. Danny Boyle did a fine job with the quick pace of the typical Sorkin dialogue. Fassbender and Winslet are clearly the high points of the film and for fans of SSorkin’swork that will keep you entertained. It is an interesting way to look at the man whose legend is ever growing, other than a typical biopic format. There is a glimpse into why he was as successful as he was.

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind Is A Great Thought Provoking Indie Film

As one of the most unique and innovative screenwriters currently working in Hollywood, Charlie Kaufman can carefully and superbly craft a story in a way unlike any other. One of his most relatable and best written films was with 2004’s, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind.

Charlie Kaufman gained notarially with his brilliant script for Being John Malkovich which fused one of Hollywood’s most innovative writers with one of Hollywood’s most eccentric people. The film would go on to be a massive independent hit and bring Kaufman an Oscar nomination. The trouble with “Malkovich” is people just didn’t get it. It would take 5 more years and an upstart production company in Focus Features to help people see that Kaufman wasn’t crazy but just had a detailed deep and  different way of looking at everyday life that involved a lot of creativity.

Charlie Kaufman would have 2 Oscar nominations under his belt by the time Eternal Sunshine would begin it’s production. one for “Malkovich” and one for Adaptation which did bring Oscar gold home for Chris Cooper in his best supporting actor role.

Eternal Sunshine is the story of a man named Joel Barish who has recently broken up with his eccentric girlfriend, Clementine. He soon discovers Clementine has enlisted the help of the Lacuna corporation to aid her in erasing Joel from her life and memory. Fueled by his disappointment and anger, Joel then decides to have the same procedure done. It is only at the start and under sedation that he realizes that he doesn’t want Clementine erased from his mind. He wants to keep all the memories, good and bad. The movie then is a trip through the relationship of Joel and Clementine as seen through the eyes of Joel’s memory and their attempt to stay together even if it’s in Joel’s mind.

With a look at relationships and areas of life that most people have felt and have memories they wish they could just all together forget, Eternal Sunshine shows that life is what it is and makes us who we are despite the great and terrible moments we endure.

Eternal Sunshine would go on to be the movie that would force those in the independent world to take notice of Michel Gondry. It was his American directorial debut and some films to follow would not live up to Eternal Sunshine but would none the less have Gondry’s touch on them all.

Kaufman however would continue to make some of Hollywood’s most unique and intelligent films which included his debut as a director with Synecdoche, New York starring Philip Seymour Hoffman. Synecdoche would not bring in the viewers that Eternal Sunshine did but would let Kaufman really stretch himself as a screenwriter and director.

Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet turned in superb performances which would have made the film mediocre or even bad without such acting. With what, off screen, seemed like such an unlikely chemistry, Carrey and Winslet proved they had what it takes to make it work. Winslet was already on her way to being the greatest working actress since Meryl Streep (which she has surpassed in the eyes of this reviewer) . Carrey would once again get snubbed like he did in ’98 and ’99.

Regardless of awards and recognitions, Eternal Sunshine is a great and different slant on the modern day love story that will leave you thinking and then wanting to re-live it all over again.

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Polanski Finds Comedy Can Be A Painful Subject With “Carnage”

One of my favorite performances of all time was Elizabeth Taylor in “Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?” Taylor’s role is that of Martha, the alcoholic wife who is unhappy the path her life has taken and where she is in her life and marriage. When a young couple comes to their home for the evening and Virginia begins drinking all hell breaks loose and everyone’s true thoughts become well known. It’s a dramatic powerhouse of acting and a sharp script that has truly stood the test of time.

Roman Polanski’s latest film has a very similar feel to Virginia Woolf in which two couples come together to discuss a recent physical altercation between their eleven year old sons. As the afternoon goes on tension rises between the couples and amongst the married couples themselves. Carnage being the title of the film undoubtedly describes what ensues of the course of the afternoon while the two couples attempt to resolve whatever issues there are between the boys. The disagreements between parenting styles and personal life create a hot bed of personality clashes.

Polanski has masterfully crafted a film that could easily toe the line between comedy and drama that the subject matter so easily created. While Virginia Woolf took the dramatic side of the situation, Carnage no doubt takes the comedic side and with a biting humor that has you shocked that you are laughing.

With a cast of only 4 the film is  still superbly acted and casted. John C. Reilly plays the husband of Jody Foster and tries to be the peacemaker of any awkward situation that is on the horizon. Jody Foster is nervously trying to handle the situation professionally as tho this is a business transaction. Christoph Waltz who plays the Husband of Kate Winslet is the disinterested Attorney who’s mind is always at the office while his wife, Winslet, is just trying to make sense of why the situation amongst the boys presented itself and how to prevent it from happening again.

With all four actors masterfully delivering a plethora of dialogue and running the gamut of emotions all with such intelligent wit that falls into near slapstick humor when the bottle of eighteen year old scotch gets opened and all start dabbling and everyones true feelings begin pouring out.

Much like the very uncomfortable feeling Virginia Woolf gave off the same feelings are felt in Carnage but are relieved when you can’t help but let laughter out at some of the off the wall thinking and comments that are then made.

Polanski has weaved a fine film with such minimal elements and relied heavily on the smart script and the intelligence that the audience posses to make a fine film that will leave you wanting more and ultimately make you feel a little bit sorry for the kids that have to deal with parents like these. These are parents so obsessed with making such a perfect life that they have found themselves at the polar opposite of such a life.

While the film is very short on time being only 79 minutes long, there is so much packed in the short time you don’t feel short changed by any means. John C. Reilly didn’t get the accolades that Foster and Winslet received but he has proven to be one of the great comedic actors working. Whether or not Reilly is being off the wall silly with his good friend Will Ferrel or whether he is being intelligent and tickling your mind in Carnage he has truly made an art form of comedic acting and this film is no different.

It’s a film well worth your time if you are looking for a laugh but don’t want to be treated like your comedic intelligence is so low that only the lowest humor will do. Be prepared for a smart comedy that doesn’t leave you feeling dumber for having just watched but will still leave you laughing after it’s over.