Tag Archives: oscar

Amazon Prime Can Get You In The Mood For The Oscars

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A few days ago I wrote a post about how Netflix can get you prepared for award season and more specifically the Oscars. Well now I’m going to do the same for those with a subscription to Amazon Prime. Amazon Prime has its differentces than Netflix, while it still offers free content, it also allows you to rent and purchase digital movies so there is an extensive library far beyond what Netflix offers you if you are willing to spend a few extra dollars. For the purposes of this post I will focus on what is free for Prime members.

The Big Sick

First and foremost is a movie that is ACTUALLY nominated this year and not one that just gets you in the mood for the awards like all the rest on this list are meant to do. The Big Sick is nominated for best original screenplay and is based on the true story of star Kumail Nanjiani and his now wife Emily Gordon and the unusual way that they fell in love and how he fell in love with her family and them with him before their true romance ever blossomed. Kumail comes from a traditional Pakistani family who is regularly trying to set him up to get married when he meets Emily a girl who is anything but what his family wants for him. After a break-up over this very subject, Emily mysteriously falls ill and into a coma. Kumail is called and finds himself caring for her and having to contact her family. When her family releases him of any responsibility he still continues to be around and show support. It’s an extremely well told and heartwarming story of such an unlikely romance and is definitely worth a view.

Moonstruck

Now on to the past winners that are available and worth a watch or re-watch if you have already seen them. Moonstruck was a career defining moment for Cher who had been acting here and there, but was still considered just a singer who wanted to act. Moonstruck proved that she in fact CAN act and rode Moonstruck all the way to a best actress win at the Academy Awards. While remembered for her outfit at the Oscars and the fact that she got the win, what is forgotten is that it won two other major awards that night for Olympia Dukakis and write John Patrick Shanley. It is a masterful romantic comedy that also features a young Nicolas Cage in one of his best movies. Funny and heartfelt it is a movie that has really stood the test of time.

Lawrence Of Arabia

Back when Hollywood was still making big sweeping epics, Lawrence of Arabia was no exception and is amongst the best of those large stories and wonderful scenery. With a widescreen that showcased the beauty of the film and its landscape. Winner of seven Academy Awards including best picture, it is also known for the fact that its star Peter O’Toole was once again not a winner for best actor, something that would follow him his whole career until he received and honorary Oscar that he reluctantly accepted. It is the true story of T.E. Lawrence who united warring Arab tribes in World War I. It is a great film and great watch…if you have three and a half hours to spare.

Room

Brie Larson gave a powerhouse performance as a young girl kidnapped and held captive for over 5 years where she has a child in captivity and is forced to raise him in a single room shack until they manage to escape. She and her son are then forced to learn to enter society, he for the first time outside the room and her trying to find some semblance of her life again. Brie Larson swept every award category she was nominated in that year and deservedly so and the film introduced the world to Jacob Tremblay who gives a marvelous performance of his own. Heart-wrenching and even different to watch at times, if you enjoy first rate acting then you will no doubt appreciate Room.

Monster

Charlize Theron proved that her acting ability goes beyond being just a pretty face when she went behind a lot of makeup to make sure her beauty wasn’t a distraction when she played the infamous female serial killer Aileen Wuornos. As a lesbian prostitute living on the streets when she is raped by a “John” she turns to killing him and robbing him and it soon becomes a habit and a way to keep money coming in. She is soon turned in by her young lover Selby played by Christina Ricci. This is once again a difficult movie to watch at times and is very gut-wrenching but leaves you conflicted on Wuornos’ guilt and even a bit sympathetic considering the life she led up until the point of capture.

Fences

Denzel Washington gives a commanding performance as Troy Maxson a blue-collar father who works hard provides for his family and gives himself the reward of liquor when he sees fit. A tough father who has a contentious relationship with his son to say the least. Unable to have any sympathy or compassion for how his son feels because of the life he had as a young man and the life he still has while working hard and taking care of his mentally disabled brother and never getting over the fact that his dream of being a professional baseball player never came to fruition. Without a doubt one Denzel’s best performances he took a controversial loss on Oscar night to Casey Affleck who many did not find worthy because of past allegations of sexual harassment. The movie did however give Viola Davis her first Oscar win in the best supporting actress category, an honor that had been long over due. Directed by Denzel based on the play it features a boat load of dialogue that is expertly delivered at every turn.

There are some more recommendations of many past award winning movies to get you in the mood for Oscar night.

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.

The 88th Annual Academy Award Predictions

imageThe biggest night of the year for Hollywood is upon us. Everyone from casual fans to big time movie buffs, have opinions on the Oscars, whether it is predictions or having disdain for the awards themselves. As much as I love the Oscars, I also understand those who despise the entire essence of the show.

This has turned out to be one of my favorite years for all the nominated films in all of the categories, despite the controversy surrounding, there are many, many wonderful films deserving of awards. Here are my predictions for tonight’s big show.

 

88th Academy Awards Ceremony
February 28, 2016
Host: Chris Rock

 

Best Cinematographyimage

Carol

The Hateful Eight

Mad Mad: Fury Road

The Revenant

Sicario

 

 

Best Animated Feature Filmimage

Anomalisa

O Menino e o Mundo

Inside Out

Shaun The Sheep Movie

Omoide no Mânî

 

 

 

Best Adapted Screenplayimage

The Big Short

Brooklyn

Carol

The Martian

Room

 

 

 

Best Original Screenplayimage

Bridge Of Spies

Ex Machina

Inside Out

Spotlight

Straight Outta Compton

 

Best Director  Full Commentary Here image

Adam McKay (The Big Short)

George Miller (Mad Max:Fury Road)

Alejandro González Iñárritu (The Revenant)

Lenny Abrahamson (Room)

Tom McCarthy (Spotlight)

 

 

Best Supporting Actress  Full Commentary Here image

Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight)

Rooney Mara (Carol)

Rachel McAdams (Spotlight)

Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)

Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)

 

Best Supporting Actor  Full Commentary Here image

Christian Bale (The Big Short)

Tom Hardy (The Revenant)

Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight)

Mark Rylance (Bridge Of Spies)

Sylvester Stallone (Creed)

 

Best Leading Actress  Full Commentary Here image

Cate Blanchett (Carol)

Brie Larson (Room)

Jennifer Lawrence (Joy)

Charlotte Rampling (45 Years)

Saorise Ronan (Brooklyn)

 

Best Leading Actor  Full Commentary Here image

Bryan Cranston (Trumbo)

Matt Damon (The Martian)

Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)

Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs)

Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)

 

Best Picture  Full Commentary Here image

The Big Short

Brooklyn

Bridge Of Spies

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

Room

Spotlight

Trailer Trash: Joe

image-3Believe it or not, Nicolas Cage IS an Oscar winner. You could never tell based on his body of work these last ten years or so. He may have revived himself, though with his highly acclaimed and highly anticipated new film, Joe.

Cage plays an ex-con thrown into a sticky situation in a small town. Just based off the trailer he looks to have returned to actual acting. He also appears to be taking a page out of Matthew McConaguhey’s book and take a rugged complex character. Time will tell if this will match up with his brilliant performance in Leaving Las Vegas.

Almost Famous Is A Shining Gem In Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Catalogue Of Greatness

image-1I’ve been toying with the idea of writing about a favorite older movie (10 years or older) and doing a retrospective on those films weekly. After Sunday’s tragic events where the film and entertainment community lost a pure genius in Philip Seymour Hoffman, it seemed like an appropriate time to start with, what is most likely my favorite Hoffman movie, Almost Famous. One of the best Cameron Crowe films in which Hoffman played the real life eccentric rock critic, Lester Bangs.

The semi autobiographical film loosely based on Cameron Crowe’s experiences as a rock journalist as a mid teen. William Miller goes on a once in a lifetime cross country journey with up and coming band, Stillwater. He learns the rock journalism ropes as he goes, he’s guided by his mother, his conscience and his idol, Creem magazine creator, Lester Bangs. Along the way he discovers the truth about fame and discovers love with a well traveled groupie, Penny Lane despite her affection for Stillwater guitarist, Russell. He quickly grows up and out and does better work than the best of the best in his field. His innocence allows the rock stars to open themselves to his young charm.

the movie hinges on the relationship formed between Penny Lane and William and between Russell and William but the pin and steady voice is that of Lester Bangs, whose voice of experience and knowledge keeps his journalism integrity in tact even when things start to go off the rails. It’s for this reason that Crowe needed an actor of Hoffman’s caliber to play a role that doesn’t come across as major. Hoffman pulled out a fantastic performance and as eccentric as the real man himself.image

The film would receive several nominations in both the Oscar and Golden Globe areas. Winning several, Hoffman was left off but not forgotten.

Kate Hudson made her career in the first two hours that I saw the film. I was hooked but somewhere along the way she settled. The disappointment could clearly be seen in her face on Oscar night when she lost to Marcia Gay-Harden for her role in Pollock. Despite the path her career has taken her talent should be noted and this film is proof that she can indeed act.

All that said, it goes without saying that it is one of the great rock ‘n’ roll movies ever, especially in the fiction area. It has a soundtrack that is quintessential 1970’s. It is a film that does true justice in showing that famous people and celebrities are very normal for the most part, they seek stability image-2and want to be seen the same way… for the most part, there are those as vain as you think.

All that said, Philip Seymour Hoffman will hopefully be the remembered area of the film because most of his lines are the most memorable of the film. It is one of the many films of his that will have me tear up every time I watch it from here on out. It’s a flash of the many drops of his genius.

David O. Russell Continues His Hot Streak With American Hustle

american_hustle_banner__1_by_zviray-d66o5loWithout question, David O. Russell has really come into his own the last few years with hits like, The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook. He is once again back in the awards and highly acclaimed films list with his latest effort, American Hustle. His style has really developed a unique way with these films as opposed to some of his early work. With a concentration on character development he has produced more award nominations for his actors than any director in the last 5-6 years. This may lead some to call him an actors director, but I believe he is just letting great actors do what they do best.

American Hustle is loosely based on the true story of the long running FBI sting operation in the late 70’s and early 80’s known as ABSCAM. When a highly skilled con man (Christian Bale) is trapped by an ambitious FBI agent (Bradley Cooper), the FBI agent, Richie, enlists the con man, Irving and his British accomplice, Sydney (Amy Adams) to help him trap high profile politicians and white collar criminals. As they attempt to take down a New Jersey mayor (Jeremy Renner) things begin to take many different turns and seemingly spiral out of control for all parties involved.

With a reuniting of casts from The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook, David O. Russell shows that he has a core of actors that he works best with, which include his version of Scorsese’s De Niro with Christian Bale. While it’s no doubt that Christian Bale is one of the best and most, on fire actor AMERICAN-HUSTLE-Imagein Hollywood, his best work has undoubtedly come in Davis O. Russell’s films. Bradley Cooper again shows his chops off with another stellar performance and Russell may bring another statue in Jennifer Lawrence near future despite her limited screen time.

There isn’t too much wrong with the film, it brings great performances and they execution of the story line is well produced but it clearly is Russell’s best. That isn’t to say it’s a bad movie by any means. The trouble is that it will be compared to The Fighter and Silver Linings. This one just doesn’t measure up the same as those. But as always the acting and character, development is great. Bale is outstanding as is most of the other main principles. My biggest problem with acting, unfortunately was Amy Adams, whose in and out british accent I found almost annoying.

My negative thoughts should not suggest that it’s not a great film or that it isn’t worthy of it’s accolades. I am at fault of being of those who expect so much out of Russell. I hate when people judge film makers on their previous films, but I just can’t help myself since he had such stellar films his last two and I loved the premise of this film so much I regrettably went in expecting so much more. Thats not to ay I didn’t enjoy myself or like the film, I just expected more. Im none the less in love with the casts that Russell puts together and will watch whatever he puts together with these actors.

Matthew McConaguhey Steals Dallas Buyers Club

dallas_buyers_clubIn 2009 Matthew McConaghey was well on his way to maintaing a steady career as a heart throb and most valuable romantic comedy draw in Hollywood. After a 2 year hiatus he returned with the film, The Lincoln Lawyer and the notion that he is done with making romantic comedies for the time being and he is going to flex his acting muscle. It wouldn’t take long for everyone to notice when he came out wit the dark yet somewhat touching film Mud.
It has been three years since his drastic career move and in my opinion it could not be going any better. McConaughey’s latest effort may just be the feather in his cap of his career. With Dallas Buyers Club McConoaughey gives every ounce he has to the role of Ron Woodroof. The physical site he becomes aside he shows that he has not become a big star based solely on looks alone, he can ACT!
The true story of Ron Woodroof is one of strength and tolerance. Intially when you meet Ron, sympathy is not your first emotion, in fact it is far from your first. He is a drug using, womanizing hustler who feels untouchable.
In late 1985 the AIDs virus was a new and terrifying illness that struck fear throughout the world. Everyone suddenly became more conscious of who they knew what they touched where they ate and more. Initially thought to be a strictly homosexual disease, it was later learned, and quickly, that no one was immune to it.
This leads right into Ron Woodroof’s story. He is diagnosed with the virus at a time just before we learn of it’s full affect. Learning he has 30 days to live Ron is determined to fight and beat this deadly disease that seems unbeatable and deadly. He quickly learns of a new trial drug AZT, which was the first true fight against AIDs. After buying black market versions of the drug Woodroof then is forced to look elsewhere for treatment and finds himself in Mexico where an American doctor has been doing research on the drugsAMF_6986 (70 of 376).NEF and disease and has developed a natural way of healing. Recognizing the monetary and health value in his work, Ron starts up “clubs” that aid people suffering from the disease. When he enlists the help of a cross dressing homosexual he meets in the hospital not only does his business boom he begns to learn the affect this disease has on everyone no matter their sexual orientation, and while not rying to appear his views on both have changed the change is truly apparent.
Woodroof puts up a strong fight not only against the disease but against the medical industry and law enforcement and against intolerance. It’s truly a touching story and one that may have done more good if it had been told 25 years ago. The trouble being the public was not ready or such a story.
IF    The front running story of this film was clearly the two headlining roles. Most notably Matthew McConaguhey who’s portrayl of Woodroof was undoubtedly one of the best, if not the best, performance of the year. He clearly appears to be the early front runner for the best actor Oscar. But the bigger lock for Academy Awards ay be Jared Leto who plays the cross dresser that Woodroof befriends and truly begins to love despite huge cultural differences. His transformation is the most amazing and haunting is recent years, leaving everyone with a burned image in their mind of who has been affected and how.
Dallas Buyers Club has made waves since it’s release and will clearly thunder forth as the awards season dawns.