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 película ...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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Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Academy Award - Original Score

The score of a movie adds to the atmosphere and emotion of a scene, builds to a crescendo and can signal danger or fear. This years nominated movies use music to its full magical extent, here are this years nominee's

John Williams at the Boston Symphony Hall afte...
John Williams at the Boston Symphony Hall after he conducted the Boston Pops. May 2006. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lincoln - John Williams

With his 48th Oscar nomination, and 5 wins Williams is the composer the movies love. His scores are different, they blend in seamlessly while creating the same effects and emotions as some of the more stand out scores.

Thomas Newman
Cover of Thomas Newman

Skyfall - Thomas Newman

This is Newman's eleventh nomination, and he is yet to win, the bond score is always a big deal, and this movie far surpasses its predecessors. With Skyfall breaking the $1 billion mark, and receiving wide praise could this be his year.

Alexandre Desplat
Cover of Alexandre Desplat

Argo - Alexandre Desplat

His 5th nomination, and fourth year in a row, the Frenchman continues his great form with this stellar outing. it was subtle yet devastatingly effective. It helps blend the comedy and suspense with a delicate ease we have come to expect from Desplat.

Mychael Danna
Cover of Mychael Danna
Life Of Pi - Mychael Danna

This is Danna's second nomination of the year, and his score for this movie really adds to the overall scope of an amazing visual movie. The Canadian born composer will be hoping that Skyfall will not to be keeping him at bay twice in one night.

Anna Karenina - Dario Marianelli 
Dario Marianelli
Cover of Dario Marianelli

This is Marianelli's third nomination, after winning for Atonement in 2008. His excellence is on show once again here and any other year he would be a shoe in, but this is a very tough field i feel he may be out gunned this year.

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

Skyfall - Thomas Newman 

I feel this has to be the year for bond, the music of bond movies is iconic and this movie goes far beyond what we usually come to expect, and although still not nominated for a bigger award, it is fitting that Skyfall gets the Oscar nods it deserves.

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Academy Awards Design Categories

These categories are essential, they look at what the camera sees, from the background sets and the costumes worn, to the person responsible for making sure the camera picks it all up.

Production Design
At the Movies ~ Les Misérables, 2012
At the Movies ~ Les Misérables, 2012 (Photo credit: erjkprunczýk)

Lincoln - Rick Carter (production) / Jim Erickson (set decoration)
Life Of Pi - David Gropman (production) / Anna Pinnock (set decoration)
Les Miserables - Eve Stewart (production) / Anna Lynch-Robinson (set decoration)
Anna Karenina - Sarah Greenwood (production) / Kate Spencer (set decoration)
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Dan Hennah (production) / Ra Vincent and Simon Bright (set decoration) 

Winner : Les Miserables - Eve Stewart / Anna Lynch-Robinson

Costume Design

Les Miserables - Paco Delgado 
Mirror Mirror - Eiko Ishioka 
Snow White And The Huntsman - Colleen Atwood 
Lincoln - Joanna Johnston 
Anna Karenina - Jacqueline Durran

Winner : Les Miserables - Paco Delgado


Skyfall - Roger Deakins
Anna Karenina - Seamus McGarvey
Django Unchained - Robert Richardson
Life Of Pi - Claudio Miranda
Lincoln - Janusz Kaminski

Winner : Life Of Pi - Claudio Miranda

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Academy Awards Writing Categories

It takes a lot of talent to convert the written word into what we see on the big screen, so again, as I am not qualified to judge who has done this best, I shall predict the winner but not critique the work.

The Hurt Locker: Mark Boal
The Hurt Locker: Mark Boal (Photo credit: 1987porsche944)
Best Original Screenplay 

Amour Written by Michael Haneke
Django Unchained Written by Quentin Tarantino
Zero Dark Thirty Written by Mark Boal
Flight Written by John Gatins
Moonrise Kingdom Written by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola

Winner : Zero Dark Thirty Written by Mark Boal

Best Adapted Screenplay

Silver Linings Playbook Written by David O. Russell
David O Russell 2011 Shankbone
David O Russell 2011 Shankbone (Photo credit: david_shankbone)
Lincoln Written by Tony Kushner
Argo Written by Chris Terrio
Beasts Of The Southern Wilds - Screenplay by Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin
Life Of Pi Written by David Magee

Winner : Silver Linings Playbook Written by David O. Russell
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Academy Awards Technical Categories

It is always hard to accurately predict the more technical categories, unless you have experience in the science the categories. Due to this I'll make predictions in each on, but won't review why, I do not think I have the relevant knowledge to do it to a standard these great movies deserve.

Film Editing

Michael Kahn - Lincoln
Tim Squyres - Life Of Pi
William Goldenberg - Argo
Jay Cassidy / Crispin Struthers - Silver Linings Playbook
Dylan Tichenor / William Goldenberg - Zero Dark Thirty

Winner : Tim Squyres - Life Of Pi

Sound Editing

Wylie Stateman - Django Unchained
Paul N.J Ottosson - Zero Dark Thirty
Per Hallberg / Karen Baker Landers - Skyfall
Erik Aadahl / Ethan Van der Ryn - Argo
Eugene Gearty / Philip Stockton - Life Of Pi

Winner : Eugene Gearty / Philip Stockton Life Of Pi

Sound Mixing

Scott Millan / Greg P. Russell / Stuart Wilson - Skyfall
Andy Nelson / Gary Rydstrom / Ronald Judkins - Lincoln
John Reitz / Gregg Rudloff / Jose Antonio Garcia - Argo
Les-Miserables-Movie-Poster-Large (Photo credit: doctorserone)
Andy Nelson / Mark Paterson / Simon Hayes - Les Miserables
Ron Bartlett / D M Hemphill / Drew Kunin - Life Of Pi

Winner : Andy Nelson / Mark Paterson / Simon Hayes - Les Miserables

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Saturday, 19 January 2013

Fringe Bids Farewell

One of many marketing posters used to promote ...
One of many marketing posters used to promote the series featuring a twist on a common image. Pictured is a leaf with an embedded isosceles triangle. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
While we take a short break from our Oscar's Previews, I thought it was only right to mention the sad farewell of a great show.......... Fringe.

A few hours ago it was the final ever episode, a 2 hour 'event', shown on Sky in the UK at the same time as it was shown in the US, very rare, and the last time it happened was the end of Lost and if that doesn't tell you how important this show was then nothing will. After 5 seasons, the best show of its kind since The X-Files Fringe ended in spectacular fashion.

J.J Abrams created a truly great show, and it may not have been a show of monster ratings, but it never failed to deliver, week in week out the quality was for the most part unrivaled on current television. John Noble as Dr Walter Bishop will be sorely missed from the weekly television schedule, his ability to be funny and then still come out with poignant, heartfelt lines was a joy to watch. Anna Torv bought something very special as Olivia Dunham, and the onscreen chemistry with ex Dawson's Creek star Joshua Jackson, playing Peter Bishop had audiences gripped every episode. One person we can't fail to mention is Jasika Nicole, as long suffering Astrid Farnsworth, such a great character and played to perfection.

I won't review the final episode, in-case you have not seen it, and it is really worth watching, but I will pay tribute to a show that did not stay too long, was loyal to its fan base and had an excellent cast that did justice to wonderful writing.

Its not very often that a show is accurately revered while still airing original content, but Fringe really was that good, it will be forever remembered as one of the best Sci-Fi series ever, and its an accolade it so richly deserves.

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Thursday, 17 January 2013

Best Picture Nominee - The Life Of Pi

This is the sixth of the nominee's for Best Picture, it is Directed by Ang Lee, formerly nominated for Best Director for Brokeback Mountain, and The Life Of Pi receives 11 Academy Award Nominations.

The story, based on the novel of the same name, focuses on Piscene or Pi, a young boy growing up in French India. His father, a zoo owner decides to move the family, and animals to Canada. As they cross the Pacific the ship sinks during a storm, Pi's family die, leaving him stranded on a life boat with a Bengal tiger called Richard Parker. Pi eventually survives 227 days at sea before reaching the Mexican shore. We find all this out as a retrospective, as Pi tells a writer (Rafe Spall) the story.

Acting wise we have four Pi's, aged 5 (Gautam Belur), aged 13 (Ayush Tandon), aged 16 (Suraj Sharma) who is the Pi we see shipwrecked, and Pi as the adult narrator (Irrfan Khan) who is telling the writer his story. Pi aged 16 is acted very well, full of wonder and emotion, the younger ones play great parts too, and the adult comes over as wise, yet still positive.

This movie is not about great acting, although it is here, it's not even about the technical wonder that is, but we will touch on that later. This movie is all about telling a story, and despite a rocky opening section (although necessary to build the story), it surpasses all expectations you have of it. You really end up routing for Pi, and Richard Parker too.

The technical merit of this movie is really astounding, it really is difficult to see where reality ends and CGI begins, its flawless, this combined with vibrant colors, 3D and wrapped up by a director synonymous with producing visually stunning movies. The sound is crystal clear, the cinematography mind blowing, and it just flows never leaving you wanting.

This is one of those movies that you would put of seeing, because it isn't really your thing, and then watch on TV years later and love it, regretting not seeing it as it was supposed to be seen, on the big screen. Ang Lee has produced a masterpiece, and yes its all technical wizardry, but if you look just beyond all that you have a great story of hope, looking on the bright side and even religious tolerance.

Before I watched this movie, i thought it had no chance of winning any Oscars, and it still may not win the main ones, but it deserves to win all of its technical categories. 

Best Picture Nominee - Silver Linings Playbook

The next nominee is Directed by David O. Russell, and adapted from the book of the same name, screenplay also written by Russell.

it is a romantic comedy-drama, it follows Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper), released from a mental hospital to live with his parents, following 8 months of treatment for bi-polar disorder. He discovers his cheating wife has moved away, his father (Robert De Niro) is out of work and struggles to readjust to his new life. One night at a dinner party he meets his friends sister-in-law Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a recovering sex addict who's husband passed away. They form a turbulent friendship and Tiffany invite's Pat to be her dance partner for a local competition, the whole time he is still adamant that he will back his wife. In the end he realizes Tiffany has been feeding him false hope, and confesses to loving her.

Bradley Cooper is very good as unpredictable, yet lovable Pat, some of the more emotional scenes are excellently done, and the confusion felt by the character really comes across well. Robert De Niro delivers the performance we expect from him, a great actor, really excelling in these father roles, and a great source of comedy. For me it has to be Jennifer Lawrence that steals the show, after a huge hit like The Hunger Games it is sometimes hard to get into a totally different character (just look at Kristen Stewart), but Lawrence is brilliant as crazy Tiffany Maxwell, she seems to have an effortless style of acting you really only expect of Meryl Streep, but she has that quality, and you could really see her doing anything.

Although it may seem that this is yet another trite rom-com, it really isn't, its tender, genuine and deals with mental health in a respectful manor. Its basically a more extreme version of what we all feel when we get dumped, but in a real way, we take time to move on, we hold out hope of reconciliation and we do feel alone and out of place in our lives, and this movie shows that.

The cast is outstanding, great script and it has this independent movie feel to it. It deals with issues you wont find in the usual quality of movie in this genre, and it succeeds in being what the vast majority of rom-coms fail to be, and that's realistic and genuine. Yes it maybe predictable at the end, but if you choose to watch this type of film you pretty much know what the end will be, that's why you watch, but the journey we are taken on, it really different.

Best Picture Nominee - Argo

The next nominee for Best Picture is Directed by its star, Ben Affleck, Winner of the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay in 1997 (shared with Matt Damon) for Good Will Hunting.

Argo follows the events surrounding the taking of hostages at the American Embassy in Tehran in 1980, and the story of the six that escaped, seeking refuge with the Canadian Ambassador until a risky plot was hatched to rescue them,

I don't mind admitting that I have never really liked Ben Affleck movies, but he was actually very good in this one, the trademark arrogance was gone, it was a polished and satisfying performance. That being said he was utterly overshadowed by John Goodman and Alan Arkin, who at the grand old age of 78, was comic relief in a story that should have been very serious, his one liners made it. The performances by the six escapee's were believable and genuine, Tate Donovan (The O.C) being the most recognizable, and a great performance from Victor Garber  as Canadian Ambassador, the acting power on show was remarkable.

The direction was good, considering the director was the star, which I would imagine is not the easy way to make a movie. The script was very well written, and funny, using the strengths of those that had to deliver the lines. The story itself is a true story, so although its pretty predictable I can't really hold it against the production. The end credits however, I found remarkable. We were given almost split-screen, one side was the character in the movie and the other was the actual person, with writing saying what happened later on, it really was special, then this is just compounded by a voice over from President Jimmy Carter, a true nod to the people who lived the events of this movie.

Overall, its a good movie, great performances, well written and shot, an all rounder. The little details, like using the old Warner Brothers logo at the beginning, and all the old news footage on televisions really did a good job at making you feel like you were back in 1980. Given the nature of this movie, and the competition it has, it is debatable as to how much it deserved it Golden Globes win, but we'll let him have that. As for my dislike for Ben Affleck movies, lets just say the boy did good.

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Best Picture Nominee - Zero Dark Thirty

The next of our nominee's comes from Academy Award winning Director Kathryn Bigelow and Academy Award winning screenplay writer Mark Boal.

The story follows the hunt for and eventual elimination of Osama Bin Laden in May 2011.

I won't go too much into the politics of this movie, but keep it technical. The movie for me had three distinct parts, the beginning was hard to watch, with a lot of the focus on the measures taken to obtain information from detainees, yes it was brutal but any criticism leveled at the film makers is wholly unjustified. The middle section of the movie follows more established intelligence gathering, and the discovery of the house. The final  section is the raid that found Bin Laden.

Jessica Chastain plays her part to great effect, showing the drain from the pressure put upon her. She manages to carry her character through what is primarily a male dominated movie. Her male co-stars really do not come up to her standard at any point during the 157 minute film.

The direction is good, and the script serves its purpose, but don't be fooled, this is no Hurt Locker. Other than the final segment of the movie, this lacks any real tension, and besides Chastain I found the acting to be a little weak. That said it is watchable, but not to the standard of Bigelows former Oscar triumph.

 I believe this period of American history will be judged by future generations, and regardless of what judgement is made, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal will be its primary story tellers. They tackled this with respect, for the countless lives that were lost in the attacks and wars that lead to this event, yes it made the movie slow and hulk-some in parts, but its a story worth telling and not sensationalizing.

This is a movie that does not need to win an award, or gross a billion ant the box office to be remembered, its good film making, and its respectful and honest take is impressive, in a time where the failures of past 10 years look destined to be forgotten.

Academy Award - Best Animated Feature

The creation of this category in 2001 was felt to be overdue, recognition that animation was largely ignored by the Academy, with the notable exception of Beauty and the Beast becoming the first animated movie to get a Best Picture nomination. Here are this years crop of nominee's.

Brave Movie
Brave Movie (Photo credit: Michelle O'Connell)

The first of an exceptionally strong Disney trio, this highland fling features the vocal talents of B
illy Connelly, Julie Walters and Emma Thompson. A typically high quality Disney Pixar movie, it is meaningful about women's rights while remaining hilariously funny, its not quite How To Train Your Dragon, but none the less its thoroughly enjoyable.


Day 9: Little Norman
Day 9: Little Norman (Photo credit: tsmall)
Its very rare that animation deals with death, without having Tim Burton at the helm, and this movie does it well, able to stay away from the dark places the subject matter usually leads. A strong anti-bullying message, and a low key vocal cast give this movie a good feel about it, The first stop-motion picture to use 3D, a deserved nomination to reward the work that went in.

Wreck-It Ralph Movie Theater poster Chinese ve...
Wreck-It Ralph Movie Theater poster Chinese version (Photo credit: dcmaster)


Shot two for Disney is a very clever movie, an Arcade game theme opened up all kinds of references and appearances from game Characters, the meeting of video-game villains was excellent, and great nostalgia trip for those young enough to remember. Sarah Silverman brings the funny, as she always does, and this movies fun just carries you away with it.

The Pirates! Band Of Misfits

A nice British nominee, superb British vocal talent on show Lenny Henry, Hugh Grant and David Tennant are all standouts. Its a good movie, but i think the British nature of the humor might not have translated that well in other countries, the modest box office is possibly not a suggestion of a lack in quality in this case but maybe that it just wasn't as well known as the mega-studio monsters its in this category with.

Frankenweenie touring exhibit
Frankenweenie touring exhibit (Photo credit: insidethemagic)

This is Tim Burton through and through, similar in style to The Nightmare Before Christmas but with more gusto. The movi
e is less about the darkness and more about the story telling, granted its not Burton's greatest work, but it still has his usual charm, but with an added extra energy. This maybe a critics favorite, and god knows Burton does deserve one of these at some point.

This is a difficult on, possibly the strongest field we have ever seen in this category, and definitely the most evenly matched. As with any Oscar night there are the odd category that really is wide open and this it, Frankenweenie is the movie that really deserves to win, and Tim Burton has earned the win, but with a field this open, I think any of the Disney three could walk away with it.
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