Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Streisand Confirmed For Oscars Performance

Barbra Streisand
Barbra Streisand (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Streisand Makes Oscars Return.

It was today confirmed that Barbara Streisand will perform at the 85th Academy Awards, for the first time in  36 years, as the night honors the mix of movies and music. The 70 year old Brooklyn native has won 2 Academy Awards, eight Grammy Awards and five Emmy's over the years as well as selling
140 million albums. She is widely regarded as one of the most critically acclaimed artists of all

The addition of Streisand to the multitude of stars attending The Oscars really adds to the expectation that we are in for one of the most eagerly awaited awards ceremonies of recent years.
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Academy Award - Best Actress In A Supporting Role

I have done this in a different order because for the first year certainly that I can remember, the award for Supporting Actress is a much stronger category than Best Actress, the performances are all phenomenally good, and that is reflected in the fact that I feel the Supporting acting categories are the hardest to predict.

Amy Adams - The Master

Actress Amy Adams
Actress Amy Adams (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This is Amy Adams fourth nomination in this category, and her performance here only makes you ask one question, how has she not won already. I have been a huge fan of Adams since Drop Dead Gorgeous, Buffy The Vampire Slayer (series) and The West Wing, she acts in a way that never fails to captiva
te, she has an honest girl next-door quality, but backed up by deep emotional depth, something that comes across in this movie. Her male co-stars are huge characters, but Adams surpasses all her previous roles, and in places outshines them. Amy Adams has proved she can sing, be immensely funny and be intensely dramatic, without ever changing the root of who she actually is, and The Master proves she is here to stay.

Sally Field - Lincoln

Sally Field taken at the 62nd Academy Awards 3...
Sally Field taken at the 62nd Academy Awards 3/26/90 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
What can I say about this performance that has not already been said, the casting of Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln was pure genius, by the time she has finished her first lines, you can't imagine anyone else playing her. Its not until you do your homework that you realize Field never actually stops working, quietly and not always noticed, yet every now and then she pulls out a performance that gets us all sitting up and paying attention. She has a classic, old style of acting, up there with Meryl Streep, and that's what comes across here, her style works in Lincoln because its the same style as her co-stars, in fact the whole cast, It is an amazing performance, and will be how the future reference Mary Todd Lincoln, and will be remembered as one of Sally Fields finest moments.

Anne Hathaway Deauville 2007
Anne Hathaway Deauville 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Anne Hathaway - Les Miserables

Anne Hathaway just continues to grow and develop into a fine actress in front of our very eyes, and this performance shows her real star power. The emotional intensity of her Les Miserables performance is quite overwhelming, it had me in tears less than 30 minutes into the movie. She has a poise and screen
 presence most actresses her age would kill for, she is a pleasure to watch, and great in this movie. The acting performance aside, singing live to camera in a movie musical is unheard of, a feat Hathaway accomplishes with the polish of a season Broadway veteran. As Anne Hathaway develops movie by movie she is rapidly becoming the next really amazing actress.

Helen Hunt - The Sessions

English: Actress Helen Hunt at Grand Rapids in...
English: Actress Helen Hunt at Grand Rapids in 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Helen Hunt is a very good actress, and she does her role here very well, even better considering how poor the movie was in comparison to the movies spawning our other nominees in this category. She has a self confidence that is somewhat infectious as you watch, the fact she spends most of her time totally naked, yet still pulls off a great role is testament to her ability. It is quite easy to underestimate Hunt while watching this movie, the script is very weak, but the performance is far above the material she is given to work with, something a lot of actresses would not have risen above, let alone deliver this caliber of performance.

Jacki Weaver - Silver Linings Playbook

This Jacki Weavers second nomination in this category, the first coming in 2011 for Animal Kingdom, in Silver Linings Playbook she plays the mother of Bradley Coopers character, she is a doting mother hell bent on the idea that family can heal her sons mental scars. She plays the role very well, never being outshone by her co-stars, the relationship with her husband (Robert De Niro) is excellent and the chemistry on screen is great to watch. The role of mother seems to come naturally to Weaver, her portrayal is heartfelt, yet as is in life, funny at times. Her nomination here among such strong performances really gives credit to how good she was in this movie.

And The Winner Is........

Anne Hathaway - Les Miserables

This was a hard choice, as I genuinely think Amy Adams should win, however I think Hathaway will actually scoop the award. Her performance in Les Miserables uses a whole different set of skills to the other great performances, live to camera singing and the intense emotional nature of the performance will win her favor with the Academy.
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Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Academy Award - Best Actor In A Leading Role

The performances this year have been of such a high quality this year, and personally I can say it has been an honor to be able to watch all of these performances. They span many different situations, times and genres, but they all have one thing in common, they were all outstanding.

English: Actor Bradley Cooper addresses the cr...
English: Actor Bradley Cooper addresses the crew aboard aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), under way in the Gulf of Oman, July 13, 2009, during a United Service Organizations (USO) tour. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Bradley Cooper - Silver Linings Playbook

When an actor forges a reputation based on comedy performances it is always a risk when the move to something more serious comes along. Bradley Cooper possibly made it easier on himself by shortening the time spent in comedic roles, but his performance in Silver Linings Playbook proves there is much more to him than we may have originally thought. Yes, its a slightly comedic role, but the tenderness, honestly and emotional nature of the character brings out the best I have seen from Cooper. He bounces off his co-star with an ease not usually seen in modern movies, and to be able to shine in a movie where your co-star is Robert De Niro is even more to his credit. This is a thoroughly deserved nomination, and I would bet it won't be his last.

Daniel Day-Lewis - Lincoln

Daniel Day-Lewis, protagonista de la pelĂ­cula ...Playing historical figures is always a difficult ask, not only is your performance measured on its technical merit but also on the comparisons with the actual person you are portraying, Daniel Day-Lewis takes Abraham Lincoln and brings him to life in such an accessible was that you don't need to know the history to appreciate this amazing performance. It is no surprise that this performance is his third nomination, having already won 2  Academy Awards in this category. His performance is spellbinding, you forget at times that this is a movie, you are really swept away by the character, the performance and the way he puts across the gravitas we all associate with President Lincoln. I admit, I was not really a fan of his past Oscar winning performances, but I was genuinely captivated by what will surely be seen as a masterclass in deep character acting, he may not be as active as the other nominees in this category, but he know how to pick his roles.

Hugh Jackman - Les Miserables

English: Actor Hugh Jackman at the 83rd Academ...
English: Actor Hugh Jackman at the 83rd Academy Awards. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
For those who didn't see Hugh Jackman host The Oscars in 2011, his casting may have seemed a little odd, but it is no surprise to those who know his pre X-Men career. The Emmy award winning Jackman delivers a performance that has already won him The Golden Globe, it is a show stealing performance among a stellar cast. His singing is as expected spot on, soaring where lesser actors would have stumbled, a performance brimming with talent, confidence and an emotional quality not found in most musicals. It is an amazingly polished performance, adding something to an already great movie and ensemble cast. Any other year this would have have been a shoe in to grab this award, but this is no ordinary year, the nomination is deserved and holds his own in an extremely strong field of nominees.

Joaquin Phoenix - The Master

Photo of Joaquin Phoenix at the Toronto Film F...
Photo of Joaquin Phoenix at the Toronto Film Festival. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This one really has me stumped, an actor who has shown incredible potential, delivering great performances, this being his second nomination for Best Actor. His performance in The Master is well done, portraying an unstable character, while keeping it accessible and believable is certainly a talent, and he really needed to pull off a great performance to keep up with his excellent co-stars. Phoenix can bring a lot to a movie, he has proved it in the past and will hopefully continue, he is however unpredictable and inconsistent  His disparaging comments regarding The Academy Awards may not have harmed the view that his performance is worthy of this nomination, but it won't be forgotten by the members of the Academy, so he may have cost himself a shot here.

Denzel Washington -Flight
D. Washington, Berlinale 2000
D. Washington, Berlinale 2000 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As much as I love Denzel Washington, and he has made some amazing movies, I must admit that his nomination is a surprise and for me comes at the cost of some more worthy performances (Leonardo Dicaprio and Ewan McGregor). There are positives, he delivers a solid performance, carrying off drunk in a believable manor, but its far from his best, and by no means in the same league as the others nominated here, which is a shame considering the high quality of the other four nominees.

And The Winner Is.......

Daniel Day-Lewis - Lincoln

The performance is seamless, emotional, and to the best of my knowledge historically accurate. He is the perfect choice for President Lincoln, and provides us with a perfect example of great character acting.

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Saturday, 26 January 2013

J.J Abrams Gets Star Wars

Lucasfilm (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
After weeks of speculation it was finally confirmed today that J.J Abrams will direct the next Star Wars Movie.

The Director of Star Trek, Cloverfield and the creator of acclaimed series Fringe was confirmed today by Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy in a statement.

English: J.J. Abrams at Time 100 Gala
English: J.J. Abrams at Time 100 Gala (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
"It is very exciting to have JJ aboard leading the charge as we set off to make a new Star Wars movie. JJ is the perfect director to helm this. Beyond having such great instincts as a filmmaker, he has an intuitive understanding of this franchise. He understands the essence of the Star Wars experience, and will bring that talent to create an unforgettable motion picture."

Abrams had previously ruled himself out of the running, but following reports that Kennedy had won him over, it is confirmed he will work with Kennedy and screenwriter Michael Arndt to produce the script.

This will be the first Star Wars movie to follow on from the 1983 epic Return Of The Jedi, and will be the first since Disney bought Lucasfilm at the end of 2012.

With such a massive cult following all eyes will be on J.J Abrams, and hopes will surely be high considering the reputation and background of this great filmmaker.

What do you think, is he the right choice? Should the franchise be continuing at all??

Let us know what you think....
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Friday, 25 January 2013

Academy Award - Actress In A Leading Role

One of the big awards of the night, This years nominee's have delivered awe inspiring performances. Here are this years nominee's.

Naomi Watts - The Impossible

Naomi Watts
Naomi Watts (Photo credit: Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer)
Her Character is Maria, is caught up in the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami, she is separated from her husband and two youngest children, but finds her eldest son. The performance Watts gives is nothing short of spellbinding, she is genuine, emotion filled and more importantly believable. You really feel for her as she fights to stay by her son, the anguish on her face is quite moving, she really shines and gives credit to a good movie that is made all the better due to the performances of its cast, particularly its leading lady, in what has to be the years most underrated movie.

Jennifer Lawrence - Silver Linings Playbook

Jennifer Lawrence on the red carpet at the 83r...
Jennifer Lawrence on the red carpet at the 83rd Academy Awards (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Playing young widow and recovering sex addict, and an all round unstable young woman can never be easy, and Tiffany Maxwell is just that. Lawrence plays this role to perfection, bouncing off Bradley Cooper with the ease of an actress far above her years. This role proves that Jennifer Lawrence is here to stay, shedding her previous Hunger Games role. To play mental illness and grief with this kind of genuine confusion is impressive, and I am sure she won't mind me saying, it is a pleasant surprise from this rising star. This will not be her last nomination if she carries on with performances like this.

Jessica Chastain 07
Jessica Chastain 07 (Photo credit: GabboT)
Jessica Chastain - Zero Dark Thirty

A female CIA agent, dedicated to finding the worlds most notorious terrorist mastermind and in countries that don't appreciate women is a challenging role, but one pivotal to the telling of the story. Chastain plays this demanding role excellently, a female lead overshadowing her male counterparts really sets this performance apart. Her dedication is portrayed with an honesty that really climbs above the sometimes hard subject matter. This performance is stand out, and she holds her own in a high quality group of nominee's

Quvenzhane Wallis - Beasts Of The Southern Wild

Anyone who says the Oscars lack surprise need shooting, a 9 year old girl has a nomination in the category of Best Actress, and she deserves to be here. Her performance is amazing, she saves the movie she is in and frankly puts to shame every young actress that's come before her, all the way back to Drew Barrymore. This performance is edgy, and I really don't think it can be fully appreciated until you watch this movie. I would love to see her win, but part of me can't see it happening, however to be able to say you stood your own in this years category is no mean feat for an established actress, never mind a child, I can't wait to see her smiling as her name is read as a nominee.

Emmanuelle Riva - Amour

Emmanuelle RIVA (actrice)
Emmanuelle RIVA (actrice) (Photo credit: startinghere71)
Playing illness is always a challenge, but playing a woman fading following a failed surgery that leaves her paralyzed down her left side, and keeping it genuine is a different matter all together. It was a performance that was very hard to watch, but even having to read subtitles didn't spoil the highly emotional scenes. Playing the majority of her scenes in bed, helpless and confused, Riva puts on a polished, emotional performance that really has you feeling for not only her character, but also the husband having to watch his beloved fade. The final scenes are terrible, and quite shocking, a very impressive performance from the oldest woman ever to be nominated for Best Actress.

And The Winner Is..............

Naomi Watts - The Impossible

Her performance is genuine and heartfelt, its always more difficult doing justice to a true story, but Watts does it with poise and grace. This is as expected a high quality field, but Naomi Watts delivers, for me, the best performance.
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Best Picture Nominee - Amour

Our penultimate Best Picture nominee is the French language movie Amour. Directed and written by Michael Haneke, it is nominated for five Academy Awards.

The story follows an elderly couple living in Paris, Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) and her husband Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant), both retired octogenarians. They appear to have a very loving relationship, until one morning at breakfast Anne falls into a trance like state, before snapping out of it. Although there is a worry Anne is going mad, it turns out to be a blocked carotid artery, for which surgery is required. The surgery goes wrong and leaves Anne paralyzed down the right side of her body, leaving Georges to become her primary carer.

The story goes on to show the hardship of caring for a spouse, as Anne slowly and painfully fades away, unable to speak, wash or move around unaided. Georges struggles and one morning smothers his beloved with a bed pillow.

This is an incredibly hard movie to watch, not only due to its French language, but also because the subject matter is something that I feel everyone can identify with, we all worry about what happens when we get old and this puts those worries into pictures. The portrayal of a strong woman fading away is quite emotional, and played extremely well by Riva, earning her a well deserved nomination for Best Actress, at the record breaking age of 85.

This movie has a very realistic feel to it, as if the camera's are just following a real life situation as it happens, its not sensationalized, or over done, the reality of it just makes you feel for the characters, and the actors, who are both elderly and must have found the movie quite hard to make,

The direction is superbly done, the realism is not accidental and Haneke really does it very well. The faults with this movie are small, but are totally overlooked as this story progresses. I don't usually enjoy foreign language movies, but this one is done to such a high quality that would go back and watch it again.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Best Picture Nominee - Beasts Of The Southern Wild

The seventh of this years Best Picture Nominees, Beasts Of The Southern Wild, Directed by Benh Zeitlin. It is a fantasy set in a future Louisiana, where sea levels are rising and the poor are suffering. Hushpuppy (Quvenzhane Wallis) lives with her father, Wink (Dwight Henry), in a community totally cut off from the world by a levee. She is taught in school that prehistoric creatures will be released from the ice as the ice caps melt.

The movie explores subtle hints that family is all important, and the not so subtle topics of child mistreatment, global climate change and its effects on the poor and the female spirit.

All of this is very well and good, and it can be a hard movie to watch, you will detest the way this five year old is treated. The thing is for all the topics covered and the overall story, none of it really matters, its not that good, either story wise, script wise or overall production...... but the acting performances are utterly mind blowing.

Quvenzhane Wallis, at 9 years old is the youngest Nominee for Best Actress in Oscars 85 year history, and this movie is carried by her unbelievable performance. She is emotive, clear and at points delivers a script that appears to have been written for a 16 year old playing a 14 year old, it has some good lines, not many, but its the delivery that hits home.

Director Benh Zeitlin gives this a very independent feel and it works in focusing the viewers attention where it deserves to be, on the talent. Dwight Henry plays with conviction a part that must have had its difficulties, his character is not a good father for the most part, and as difficult as it is to watch, it must have been harder to actually pull off. The story is mediocre considering its agenda, but you are left with the striking feeling that if it had been any better then the performance you just witness wouldn't have been allowed to be all that it was.

I can critique the flaws this movie has, and there are many, but they all pale in comparison to the skill of that little girl, her performance alone makes this a movie worth seeing, and as much as i disliked the story, I loved her performance. Who would have thought, at 9 years old, nominee and a deserving one at that.

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