Archive for January, 2014

This year’s Screen Actors Guild awards winners were announced last night, and it’s usually a pretty good precursor to what we can generally expect from the Academy Awards in March.  This year’s big winner was American Hustle, the David O. Russell directed film based loosely on a true story concerning some of the country’s biggest swindlers.

Here’s the full list of winners:

Female Actor in a Supporting Role

– Jennifer Lawrence American Hustle

Lupita Nyong’o 12 Years A Slave

– Julia Roberts August: Osage County

– June Squibb Nebraska

– Oprah Winfrey Lee Daniel’s: The Butler

Male Actor in a Supporting Role

– Daniel Bruhl Rush

– Barkhad Abdi Captain Phillips

– Michael Fassbender 12 Years A Slave

– James Gandolfini Enough Said

Jared Leto Dallas Buyers Club

Male Actor in a Leading Role

– Bruce Dern Nebraska

– Chiwetel Ejiofor 12 Years A Slave

– Tom Hanks Captain Phillips

Matthew McConaughey Dallas Buyers Club

– Forest Whitaker Lee Daniel’s: The Butler

Female Actor in a Leading Role

Cate Blanchett Blue Jasmine

– Sandra Bullock Gravity

– Judi Dench Philomena

– Meryl Streep August: Osage County

– Emma Thompson Saving Mr. Banks

Cast in a Motion Picture

12 Years A Slave

American Hustle

August: Osage County

Dallas Buyers Club

Lee Daniel’s: The Butler

Female Actor in a Comedy Series

– Mayim Bailik The Big Bang Theory

– Julie Bowen Modern Family

– Edie Falco Nurse Jackie

– Tina Fey 30 Rock

Julia Louis Dreyfus Veep

Male Actor in a Comedy Series

– Alec Baldwin 30 Rock

– Jason Bateman Arrested Development

Ty Burrell Modern Family

– Don Cheadle House of Lies

– Jim Parson The Big Bang Theory

Ensemble in a Comedy Series

30 Rock

– Arrested Development

– The Big Bang Theory

Modern Family

– Veep

Female Actor in a Drama Series

– Claire Danes Homeland

– Anna Gunn Breaking Bad

– Jessica Lange American Horror Story: Coven

Maggie Smith Downton Abbey

– Kerry Washington Scandal

Male Actor in a Drama Series

– Steve Buscemi Boardwalk Empire

Bryan Cranston Breaking Bad

– Jeff Daniels The Newsroom

– Peter Dinklage Game of Thrones

– Kevin Spacey House of Cards

Ensemble in a Drama Series

– Boardwalk Empire

Breaking Bad

– Downton Abbey

– Game of Thrones

– Homeland

Female Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries

– Angela Bassett Betty & Corretta

– Helena Bonham Carter Burton and Taylor

– Holly Hunter Top of the Lake

Helen Mirren Phil Spector

– Elisabeth Moss Top of the Lake

Male Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries

– Matt Damon Behind the Candelabra

Michael Douglas Behind the Candelabra

– Jeremy Irons The Hollow Crown

– Rob Lowe Killing Kennedy

– Al Pacino Phil Spector

 

The 2014 Academy Award nominations are going to be announced later this morning and you can’t have a claim to fame unless you make a claim, right?  So here are my predictions for who I think will get nominations:

Best Picture

– Gravity

– Her

– The Wolf of Wall Street

– 12 Years A Slave

– American Hustle

– Frozen

– Dallas Buyers Club

– Captain Phillips

– Inside Llewyn Davis

Best Actor

– Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street)

– Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips)

– Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave)

– Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)

– Joaquin Phoenix (Her)

Best Actress

– Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)

– Amy Adams (American Hustle)

– Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)

– Sandra Bullock (Gravity)

– Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks)

Best Supporting Actor

– Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

– Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street)

– Michael Fassbender (12 Years A Slave)

– Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)

– Daniel Bruhl (Rush)

Best Supporting Actress

– Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)

– Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)

– Lupita N’yongo (12 Years  A Slave)

– June Squibb (Nebraska)

– Sarah Paulson (12 Years A Slave)

Best Director

– Steve McQueen (12 Years A Slave)

– Alphonso Cuaron (Gravity)

– David O. Russell (American Hustle)

– Martin Scorcese (The Wolf of Wall Street)

– Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips)

Best Original Screenplay

– Her

– American Hustle

– Blue Jasmine

– Nebraska

– Inside Llewyn Davis

 

2014 Golden Globe winners

Posted: January 13, 2014 in Movies

Last night’s Golden Globes was one of the better awards show in recent memory, in my opinion anyways.  That’s mainly due to the show’s hosts, Tina Fey and Amy Pohler, both hosting for a second consecutive year.

Anyways, the bigger winner last night was David O. Russell’s American Hustle, which happened to take the awards for Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Picture – Musical or Comedy.

Here’s the full list of winners:

Best Motion Picture – Drama

12 Years A Slave

– Captain Phillips

– Gravity

– Philomena

– Rush

Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama

– Chiwetel Ejiofor 12 Years A Slave

– Idris Elba Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

– Tom Hanks Captain Phillips

Matthew McConaughey Dallas Buyers Club

– Robert Redford All Is Lost

Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama

Cate Blanchett Blue Jasmine

– Sanda Bullock Gravity

– Judi Dench Philomena

– Emma Thompson Saving Mr. Banks

– Kate Winslet Labor Day

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

American Hustle

– Her

– Inside Llewyn Davis

– Nebraska

– The Wolf of Wall Street

Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

– Christian Bale American Hustle

– Bruce Dern Nebraska

Leonardo DiCaprio The Wolf of Wall Street

– Oscar Isaac Inside Llewyn Davis

– Joaquin Phoenix Her

Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Amy Adams American Hustle

– Julie Delpy Before Midnight

– Greta Gerwig Frances Ha

– Julia Louis-Dreyfus Enough Said

– Meryl Streep August: Osage County

Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture

– Sally Hawkins Blue Jasmine

Jennifer Lawrence American Hustle

– Lupita Nyong’o 12 Years A Slave

– Julia Roberts August: Osage County

– June Squibb Nebraska

Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture

– Barkhad Abdi Captain Phillips

– Daniel Bruhl Rush

– Bradley Cooper American Hustle

– Michael Fassbender 12 Years A Slave

Jared Leto Dallas Buyers Club

Best Animated Feature Film

Frozen

The Croods

Despicable Me 2

Best Foreign Language Film

Blue is the Warmest Color

The Great Beauty

The Past

The Hunt

The Wind Rises

Best Director – Motion Picture

Alfonso Cuaron Gravity

– Paul Greengrass Captain Phillips

– Steve McQueen 12 Years A Slave

– Alexander Payne Nebraska

– David O. Russell American Hustle

Best Screenplay – Motion Picture

Spike Jonze Her

– Bob Nelson Nebraska

– Steve Coogan & Jeff Pope Philomena

– John Ridley 12 Years A Slave

– David O. Russell & Eric Warren Singer American Hustle

Best Original Score – Motion Picture

Alex Ebert All Is Lost

– Alex Heffes Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

– Steve Prince Gravity

– Hans Zimmer 12 Years A Slave

– John Williams The Book Thief

Best Original Song – Motion Picture

– Atlas, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

– Let It Go, Frozen

Ordinary Love, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

– Please Mr. Kennedy, Inside Llewyn Davis

– Sweeter Than Fiction, One Chance

HBO has released the first full length trailer for season four of their hit TV show, Game of Thrones.  The trailer was shown right before the premiere of the premium movie channel’s next big hit, True Detective.

Season four looks proper mental.  Totes obvi.  Duh.

Game of Thrones is back in March on HBO, Sunday’s at 9pm.

 

‘Her’ review

Posted: January 9, 2014 in Movies, Reviews

We live in the time of growing technology and with growing technology we’re certain to see something like what is presented in Spike Jonze’s newest film, Her.  A film about one lonely man’s growing relationship with an operating system in the not-to-distant future.

Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) is coming off a soon-to-be divorced relationship and doesn’t really have the ambition to jump back into the dating scene.  Twombly works at a company that specializes in writing letters for other people to loved ones, using his computer of course.  When finished writing the letters with his computer, Twombly prints them out in the form of human script – making them appear hand-written.  It’s a rather lonely job, but that’s Twombly’s life at the moment.  Living vicariously through other people’s emotions is what Theodore does.  One day he invests in a new artificial intelligent operating system that syncs to every single device Theodore owns.  The OS, which gives herself the name Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson), changes Theodore’s life for the better as he quickly develops feelings for his computer.

There are awkward moments in Her but they are genuine awkward moments.  Those moments are something you or I would have if, say, we fell in love with the voice coming from our computer.  Spike Jonze creates an elaborate sci-fi setting that doesn’t feel so science fiction.  The tech that Jonze envisions for his near-future setting plays out like technology that already exists in one shape or another.  Meaning it’s not hard for you to think “could this really work?” like most science-fiction films.  Joaquin Phoenix is damn near perfect in the role as Twombly – although I do have some reservations about his caterpillar mustache.  Meanwhile, Scarlett Johansson’s voice is the real winner in the film.  Her voice is soft, yet playful;  sexy, yet confined.  She’s perfect as a piece of technology.  One particular scene where Samantha hires – from the confines of her always connected to the internet atmosphere – a surrogate sex partner for Theodore (since, you know, the two of them can’t have sex).  It’s a scene where Phoenix’s acting is so good and Johansson’s voice is so on point, you can actually envision the scenario playing out in real life.  Awkward, yet genuine – it’s the theme in Her.

In a film that features no leading actress, supporting actresses Amy Adams and Rooney Mara are a sight for sore eyes.  Adams is good in just everything she does, but Mara is the one that really shines in her limited screen time.  Olivia Wilde and Chris Pratt turn in welcome performances.

Her was never about just purely romance, it’s about love and how we perceive it.  It’s about connecting on an emotional level on a variety of levels.  It’s about acceptance.  Her is a nearly flawless film that should be seen by all.

Greed, excess, vulgar, and funny; all words that describe Martin Scorcese’s latest three hour epic The Wolf of Wall Street.  It’s the fulsomeness true story of one time successful stock broker Jordan Belfort who lived the life of a rich playboy and was eventually nailed by the FBI for securities fraud and money laundering for swindling his investors.

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the titular anti-hero Belfort, Scorcese tabs DiCaprio to turn in one of the best performances of his career.  He’s loud, over the top, motivated, and smooth talking – he’s Leonardo DiCaprio like he was always meant to be seen.  It’s true, DiCaprio has played forms of this character before – Aviator and Django Unchained come to mind – but he’s never been this over the top and crazy.  The film tells the story starting from the beginning where Belfort is a wide-eyed young stock broker working for a rather brilliant Matthew McConaughey (seriously, he’s so great in his small role).  When McConaughey’s company, L.F. Rothchild, goes under in the stock market crash of 1987, Belfort is forced to seek employment just about anywhere he can.  He finally lands on his feet selling penny stocks out of a garage with three people working for him.  Eventually Belfort establishes Stratton Oakmont where he begins to defraud his investors with fraudulent stock sales.  It’s during this time that Belfort gets rich, develops the hard-partying lifestyle he was known for, becomes a drug addict, and completely alienates everyone that was ever close to him.

Scorcese’s film goes far beyond just telling a story, it’s a circus where the elephants dance and bears ride bicycles.   The high-flying act of DiCaprio as Belfort is transformative, mainly because you never get the sense – or motivation – that Belfort is a bad guy.  Sure, he’s a douche bag with lots of money.  Sure, he’s engaged in infidelity while having a smoking hot wife.  Sure, he’s a drug addict known for causing tons of damage.  However, Scorcese paints the picture that Belfort is just misguided, blindsided by so much money he just doesn’t know what to do.  I can imagine that being so successful (even if he did scam people to become successful) would have a changing effect on a 24 year old man, but the way Belfort reacts to money is so far beyond greed.  Frankly, it’s disturbing.  Scorcese makes sure the audience understands Belfort’s lust for money – especially when DiCaprio talks to the camera with a wink and a smile – due to the fact that Belfort did just about everything imaginable to keep his cash flow coming in.

The Wolf of Wall Street, named after a Forbes magazine article done on Belfort in the 80’s, is vulgar, obscene, over-long, tedious, but above all fun.  Belfort’s right hand man, Donnie Azoff (another great role from Jonah Hill – seriously, who knew that the fat kid from Super Bad would be this fantastic?), is always by his side and undertakes in the same debauchery that Belfort does – only his stakes are lower.  One scene in the film, embellished or not, where Belfort’s yacht is sunk by a monsoon on its way to Monaco only further illustrates the point that Belfort only thinks about himself.   Endangering the lives of his family, friends, and crew aboard the boat just to save a couple of millions of dollars and then wants to get high before he potentially dies.  It’s exactly the picture Scorcese wanted to paint when making the film.  Belfort was never about anyone other than himself.

The film will turn people off as far as viewers go.  It celebrates everything we’ve always been taught about greed and lust.  The movie uses the word “fuck” in one way, shape, or form over 500 times.  You can’t go more than 10 minutes without seeing some woman’s boobs or DiCaprio snorting cocaine off one of the many different surfaces the film depicts.   However, it’s all trivial in the grand scheme of things.  Scorcese was never interested in making Belfort look like a criminal and it’s exactly how the film turns out.   Greed is a bad thing but you can have fun while being bad.

 

‘August: Osage County’ review

Posted: January 8, 2014 in Movies, Reviews

There are films that tell stories and bring the actors’ characters along for the ride and then there are films that are vehicles for the actors themselves and it’s those actors who end up bringing the story along for the ride.

John Wells’ August: Osage County is the latter.  A film from the second time director adapted from Tracy Letts’ popular stage play is a hugely over-dramatic actor vehicle meant to garner individual awards.  I’m not going to lie, I didn’t enjoy the film.  I don’t know if it was because there are too many performances here where you can tell the actors are trying to “out-act” each other or if it’s because the subject material just isn’t that interesting.  Whatever the reason for me not enjoying the film, that has nothing to do with the tour-de-force performances the two lead actresses – Meryl Streep & Julia Roberts – put on.

The film, based around the life of Violet Weston (Streep) and how that life is falling apart following the suicide of her long time husband (Sam Shepard).  The film takes place largely in the house the Weston’s grew up in on the plains of Oklahoma where the entire family gets together following the father’s death.  The Weston family is probably the most dysfunctional family I’ve ever seen on film.  What transpires through the 2 hours 10 minutes running time is a lot of yelling, crying, talking, and finding out that your cousins just may be your brothers and sisters.  Your typical Oklahoma setting, I guess.

Julia Roberts’ return to prominence is on display here and she’s pretty magnificent as the eldest daughter trying her damnedest to maintain the family control battle, but losing the war.   The other actors in the film – and there are a ton of stars here – pull up the slack made from the rest of the plot.  Margo Martindale and Chris Cooper turn in especially great performances.  Ewan McGregor, Benedict Cumberbatch, Juliette Lewis, and Abigail Breslin round out the rest of the cast.

John Wells doesn’t really have to do much directing with the star power going on in Osage County, other than maybe camera placement.   It’s a heavy-handed affair but August: Osage County may be worth seeing for the star power alone, but be prepared to get slapped in the face with the most dramatic BS you’ve seen in quite some time.