Golden Globes 2017 – Predictions

January 8, 2017

golden-globes-trophies

The Golden Globes kick off the Oscar races and that is why I mainly watch this awards show. Sure, it’s fun to see all of the year’s most famous celebrities get together in one room, and occasionally get drunk and make a fool out of themselves. But for me, the Emmy’s are the true awards for television and the Oscars are the true awards for movies. With the Oscars nominations just around the corner (Jan. 24), the Golden Globes actually do matter a lot more than they used to.

So what is at stake? We all know that La La Land is the clear front-runner going into the awards season. There is nothing that the Golden Globes can take away from La La Land, because it’s expected to win most of its 7 nominations (the most of the night). Even if they don’t win certain categories like Best Score or Best Screenplay, that won’t hurt it at all until the guilds start announcing their winners.

The two films that do have a lot riding on the Golden Globes are Moonlight and Manchester by the Sea. These two films are fighting against the La La Land giant at the moment and can sure use the momentum by winning big at the Golden Globes to possibly upset the feel-good musical come February 26. Therefore, the two major categories to look out for during the Globes will be Best Drama Film and Best Director. If either Moonlight or Manchester by the Sea takes both of these awards, it will give it a nice boost going into the Oscar nominations. I have a feeling that Moonlight will be the film to receive this boost, but these two awards can easily be split by both films.

Here are all of my predictions for the Golden Globes…

Movies

Best Film – Drama:

Hacksaw Ridge

Hell or High Water

Lion

Manchester by the Sea

Moonlight

Prediction: Moonlight. I feel like the HFPA will go for the more daring and talked about film between critic circles, but it’s practically a toss-up between this and Manchester by the Sea.

 

Best Film – Musical or Comedy:

20th Century Women

Deadpool

Florence Foster Jenkins

La La Land

Sing Street

Prediction: This one is La La Land, end of story.

 

Best Performance in a Film – Drama

Actor:

Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea as Lee Chandler

Joel Edgerton – Loving as Richard Loving

Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge as Desmond T. Doss

Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic as Ben Cash

Denzel Washington – Fences as Troy Maxson

Prediction: I’ll go with Casey Affleck mainly because Manchester by the Sea is a real threat for Best Picture early on in the Oscar race. Denzel Washington was incredible in Fences, so if there is an upset it should be him.

 

Actress:

Amy Adams – Arrival as Dr. Louise Banks

Jessica Chastain – Miss Sloane as Elizabeth Sloane

Isabelle Huppert – Elle as Michèle Leblanc

Ruth Negga – Loving as Mildred Loving

Natalie Portman – Jackie as Jackie Kennedy

Prediction: I haven’t seen Jackie, but it’s hard not to expect Natalie Portman to win for that role. I’ll be rooting for Amy Adams here because her performance and the movie she starred in, Arrival, are going unnoticed.

 

Best Performance in a Film – Musical or Comedy

Actor:

Colin Farrell – The Lobster as David

Ryan Gosling – La La Land as Sebastian Wilder

Hugh Grant – Florence Foster Jenkins as St. Clair Bayfield

Jonah Hill – War Dogs as Efraim Diveroli

Ryan Reynolds – Deadpool as Wade Wilson/Deadpool

Prediction: Ryan Gosling because La La Land is on another level compared to any other film in the Musical/Comedy category this year. Gosling wasn’t as good as his co-star Emma Stone, but who else can the HFPA give this award to? Ryan Reynolds? Don’t make me laugh.

 

Actress:

Annette Bening – 20th Century Women as Dorothea Fields

Lily Collins – Rules Don’t Apply as Marla Mabrey

Hailee Steinfeld – The Edge of Seventeen as Nadine Franklin

Emma Stone – La La Land as Mia Dolan

Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins as Florence Foster Jenkins

Prediction: Emma Stone truly sparkled in her role in La La Land. She should win and well deserves it. But I have a soft spot for Hailee Steinfeld for her great performance in The Edge of Seventeen.

 

Best Supporting Actor:

Mahershala Ali – Moonlight as Juan

Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water as Marcus Hamilton

Simon Helberg – Florence Foster Jenkins as Cosmé McMoon

Dev Patel – Lion as Saroo Brierley

Aaron Taylor-Johnson – Nocturnal Animals as Ray Marcus

Prediction: Mahershala Ali. If Moonlight is truly as big of a player in this Oscar race like people have been suggesting, he will walk away with this award.

 

Best Supporting Actress:

Viola Davis – Fences as Rose Maxson

Naomie Harris – Moonlight as Paula

Nicole Kidman – Lion as Sue Brierley

Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures as Dorothy Vaughan

Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea as Randi

Prediction: Viola Davis was a powerhouse alongside Denzel Washington. She pulled enough of her weight around the screen that she could’ve and maybe should’ve been considered for a leading actress role. But in this category, she should be a clear winner.

 

Best Director:

Damien Chazelle – La La Land

Tom Ford – Nocturnal Animals

Mel Gibson – Hacksaw Ridge

Barry Jenkins – Moonlight

Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea

Prediction: My favorite award of the Golden Globes because it’s the award that can truly match up the best films in both drama and comedy/musical categories. But to be fair, the director who has won the Best Director award at the Golden Globes, his movie has only won Best Picture at the Oscars once in the last seven years (Argo – Ben Affleck). So in hindsight, maybe you don’t want to win? Anyway, I’m predicting Barry Jenkins to win this award, just so La La Land doesn’t seem like such a clear runaway winner so early on in the Oscar race.

 

Best Screenplay:

Damien Chazelle – La La Land

Tom Ford – Nocturnal Animals

Barry Jenkins – Moonlight

Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea

Taylor Sheridan – Hell or High Water

Prediction: Manchester by the Sea probably has the best plot and story-line of any film nominated here. That’s why I’m going with Kenneth Lonergan.

 

Best Original Score:

Nicholas Britell – Moonlight

Justin Hurwitz – La La Land

Jóhann Jóhannsson – Arrival

Dustin O’Halloran & Hauschka – Lion

Hans Zimmer, Pharrell Williams & Benjamin Wallfisch – Hidden Figures

Prediction: Doesn’t La La Land HAVE to win here? The score for the film was simply lovely.

 

Best Original Song:

“Can’t Stop the Feeling!” (Max Martin, Shellback & Justin Timberlake) – Trolls

“City of Stars” (Justin Hurwitz, Pasek & Paul) – La La Land

“Faith” (Ryan Tedder, Stevie Wonder & Francis Farewell Starlite) – Sing

“Gold” (Stephen Gaghan, Danger Mouse, Daniel Pemberton & Iggy Pop) – Gold

“How Far I’ll Go” (Lin-Manuel Miranda) – Moana

Prediction: Again, doesn’t La La Land have to win here? But to be fair, I still have “Can’t Stop the Feeling” stuck in my head from the first time I heard it. Then again, Lin-Manuel Miranda is having quite the year… could Moana upset?

 

Best Animated Feature:

Kubo and the Two Strings

Moana

My Life as a Zucchini

Sing

Zootopia

Prediction: Zootopia.

 

Best Foreign Language Film:

Divines (France)

Elle (France)

Neruda (Chile)

The Salesman (Iran/France)

Toni Erdmann (Germany)

Prediction: Elle

 

Television

Best TV Drama:

The Crown

Game of Thrones

Stranger Things

This Is Us

Westworld

Prediction: This is an awesome group of new shows, which makes this category extremely exciting. It’s hard not to pick Game of Thrones here as it’s arguably the most popular show on television, but it is surrounded by a bunch of new-comers that everyone has been talking about. Stranger Things is surely a popular pick and Westworld was the talk around every office week-after-week. But I’m going with The Crown. GoT has never won Best Drama at the Globes and likely won’t until its final season. Therefore, The Crown seems like the most appealing choice to the diverse HFPA.

 

Best TV Comedy:

Atlanta

Black-ish

Mozart in the Jungle

Transparent

Veep

Prediction: Veep is an Emmy darling, but for the Globes, they love rewarding new and refreshing shows. This year should go to Atlanta, Donald Glover’s comedy on FX.

 

Best Actor – Drama

Rami Malek – Mr. Robot as Elliot Alderson

Bob Odenkirk – Better Call Saul as James Morgan “Jimmy” McGill

Matthew Rhys – The Americans as Philip Jennings

Liev Schreiber – Ray Donovan as Raymond “Ray” Donovan

Billy Bob Thornton – Goliath as Billy McBride

Prediction: I would love to see Matthew Rhys win here, but if I was betting on this category my money would go to Rami Malek.

 

Best Actress – Drama

Caitriona Balfe – Outlander as Claire Beauchamp Randall/Fraser

Claire Foy – The Crown as Queen Elizabeth II

Keri Russell – The Americans as Elizabeth Jennings

Winona Ryder – Stranger Things as Joyce Byers

Evan Rachel Wood – Westworld as Dolores Abernathy

Prediction: Claire Foy. Done and done.

 

Best Actor – Comedy

Anthony Anderson – Black-ish as Andre “Dre” Johnson Sr.

Gael García Bernal – Mozart in the Jungle as Rodrigo De Souza

Donald Glover – Atlanta as Earnest “Earn” Marks

Nick Nolte – Graves as Richard Graves

Jeffrey Tambor – Transparent as Maura Pfefferman

Prediction: Donald Glover.

 

Best Actress – Comedy

Rachel Bloom – Crazy Ex-Girlfriend as Rebecca Nora Bunch

Julia Louis-Dreyfus – Veep as Selina Meyer

Sarah Jessica Parker – Divorce as Frances Dufresne

Issa Rae – Insecure as Issa Dee

Gina Rodriguez – Jane the Virgin as Jane Gloriana Villanueva

Tracee Ellis Ross – Black-ish as Dr. Rainbow “Bow” Johnson

Prediction: Julia Louis-Dreyfus is the safe pick here so I’ll go with her, but from Rachel Bloom to Gina Rodriguez, and Issa Rae from Insecure, this could be anyone’s to win.

 

Best Mini-series or TV Film:

American Crime

The Dresser

The Night Manager

The Night Of

The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story

Prediction: The People vs. O.J. Simpson will win here. No questions asked.

 

Best Actor – Miniseries

Riz Ahmed – The Night Of as Nasir “Naz” Khan

Bryan Cranston – All the Way as President Lyndon B. Johnson

Tom Hiddleston – The Night Manager as Jonathan Pine

John Turturro – The Night Of as John Stone

Courtney B. Vance – The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story as Johnnie Cochran

Prediction: Courtney B. Vance. Let’s get all these O.J. awards handed out early, okay?

 

Best Actress – Miniseries

Felicity Huffman – American Crime as Leslie Graham

Riley Keough – The Girlfriend Experience as Christine Reade/”Chelsea Rayne”/”Amanda Hayes”

Sarah Paulson – The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story as Marcia Clark

Charlotte Rampling – London Spy as Frances Turner

Kerry Washington – Confirmation as Anita Hill

Prediction: Sarah Paulson.

 

Best TV Supporting Actor:

Sterling K. Brown – The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story as Christopher Darden

Hugh Laurie – The Night Manager as Richard Onslow Roper

John Lithgow – The Crown as Winston Churchill

Christian Slater – Mr. Robot as Mr. Robot / Edward Alderson

John Travolta – The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story as Robert Shapiro

Prediction: John Lithgow.

 

Best TV Supporting Actress:

Olivia Colman – The Night Manager as Angela Burr

Lena Headey – Game of Thrones as Cersei Lannister

Chrissy Metz – This Is Us as Kate Pearson

Mandy Moore – This Is Us as Rebecca Pearson

Thandie Newton – Westworld as Maeve Millay

Prediction: Chrissy Metz.

 

 


Movie Review: Manchester by the Sea

December 4, 2016

Manchester by the Sea (2016)
137 minutes
Rated – R
Starring: Casey Affleck, Kyle Chandler, Michelle Williams, Lucas Hedges
Directed by Kenneth Lonergan

manchester-by-the-sea

Grade: A

When given the attention and depth necessary, the location of a film could be as important as any character. In Manchester by the Sea, the large city of Manchester, New Hampshire is a well-developed and integral part to the plot with its brutal winters, its steady sea, and the close-knit community that can either pick you up or kick you further when you’re down.

We meet our anti-hero from the beginning. Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) is caring and responsible, as shown through flashbacks of spending time with his brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) and Lee’s nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges). We also see the dark side of Lee when he angrily responds to a rude woman while fixing a leak as an apartment-complex janitor, or when he gets into a fist-fight with two men at a bar. There is damage behind those weary eyes of Lee, but we don’t find out the reason until about halfway through the movie.

What we are thrown into from the get-go is the death of his brother, Joe, who was a strong and compassionate older brother to Lee throughout his life. While Joe’s death wasn’t entirely surprising to Lee and the rest of the family, what takes Lee by surprise is what is written in Joe’s will, that Lee will be the primary guardian of Patrick. In a very revealing scene as Lee is given this news, we discover the tragedy that plagues Lee’s past and his memory of Manchester.

Watching Lee and Patrick deal with the loss of their loved one differently is meaningful to both of their characters. Patrick, a high-schooler with a kind heart but also an edge that resembles both his father and uncle, provides us with a mixed reaction to his father’s death. He’s capable of hiding his sadness with his friends, girlfriends, hockey team, and rock band, but when he’s told his father would be in a freezer for months until the ground at the cemetery is soft enough, he’s unable to accept it. But seeing how Patrick handles this situation is like how a teenager would do so, with distractions and the inability to express his feelings openly. This is also the result of being raised by his father and uncle as his alcoholic mom went in and out of psych wards.

Meanwhile, what is going on in Lee’s mind and heart is much more complex. Having to deal with his brother’s death is tough enough, but coming back to the one city he never wanted to come back to was just one grain of salt in the wound. There is plenty of salt though, like hearing that his ex-wife Randi (Michelle Williams) is pregnant and struggling to keep up with the demands of his teenage nephew. But Lee tries his best to be there for Patrick, and he tries his best to make a life for himself in Manchester to keep things as normal as possible. But there are just some things that are too difficult to forget.

Some of my favorite moments throughout the film were the interactions between Casey Affleck and Lucas Hedges, who shared great chemistry as their characters dealt with a mutual sadness but a similar personality. What Kenneth Lonergan is so great at doing during this film is displaying pure honestly within all of the characters. From Lee, who is thoroughly developed, to supporting characters like Patrick’s mom, everyone is full of incredible depth and their actions ring true to their maturation. Lonergan also tackles on themes of family and tragedy in a way that doesn’t hold back any punches, even though you might be begging for a break for the sake of our anti-hero. The strength inside of Lee may not overwhelmingly be explicit to everyone who holds a conversation with him, but the way he keeps pushing himself against all of his inner turmoil and does it without complaining shows incredible ruggedness.

This film will confront your own ideals and how you would handle what Lee is going through. We have all dealt with tragedies in our lives and the way we handle them builds us to the grownups we have to become. But in the same way we attribute certain feelings to a song, we can attribute feelings to a place and a location. Sometimes when you want to escape a situation, you walk away from it, but how is that possible when everything you see reminds you of the one thing you’re trying to forget? While they say when the going gets tough, the tough gets going, it is certain that there are situations when that is simply impossible.


Movie Review: The Edge of Seventeen

December 3, 2016

The Edge of Seventeen (2016)
104 minutes
Rated – R
Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, Woody Harrelson, Blake Jenner
Directed by Kelly Fremon Craig

edge-of-seventeen

Grade: A-

I’m sure this isn’t the first time I’m writing about this, but I love a high school drama that is done well, and The Edge of Seventeen has officially cracked into my list of favorite high school movies of all time. High school is such a complex and confusing time for every teenager to go through. It is where you truly begin on the treacherous journey to find your identity, and through this process you engage in so many new experiences that your head spins out of control. In a nutshell, this is sort of the direction that The Edge of Seventeen goes.

Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) never had much luck in her life as she always lacked the confidence and the physical appearance that her older brother, Darian (Blake Jenner), had. But through her lonely childhood, she met a friend whom became her best (and only) friend, Krista. Aside from being socially awkward, Nadine’s family had a tragic turn of events when her father suddenly passes away, leaving the family without the glue that kept them all sane. Come present day, Nadine and Krista are juniors in high school and things seem to be the same. One opening scene has Nadine confessing to her favorite teacher (Woody Harrelson) that she’s going to kill herself, only to be mocked with sarcasm that he is also going to commit suicide because of her complaining. This is the type of relationship they have and it’s an important one for Nadine as the plot moves forward.

As if Nadine’s life wasn’t difficult enough, her life crumbles to a pile of rubble when it’s discovered that her best friend Krista and her brother hooked up and are dating. She is disgusted by her brother and feels betrayed by her only friend and sulks in her room, praying that things will turn around for her. As an adult, it’s easy to roll your eyes at how silly this might all sound, but if you have the ability to put yourself in her shoes it’s not that hard to understand how impactful this situation would be for Nadine. With the pressure of doing well in school, being in a relationship, finding your identity, being popular, and dealing with your parents/family, to put it bluntly life is freaking tough for a teenager. Nadine’s case is no different.

With all of my favorite high school films, this coming-of-age tale truly captures the feeling of high school from the awkward conversations to the sexual tension of newly discovered hormones. What I love about The Edge of Seventeen is how it is seen through the perspective of Nadine, and this makes a huge impact on the film. Hailee Steinfeld is remarkable as Nadine, showing off her true acting chops like she did in True Grit, but this time as a more relatable teenager. I applaud movies that take the risk of fleshing out a plot through the unstable eyes of a troubled protagonist, and Nadine sure is going through a lot to be qualified as troubled. And finally, The Edge of Seventeen is very strong with its tone throughout the entire running time. There is a very good blend of serious moments with comedy to take off the edge, and the right amount of feel-good with feel-bad scenes. Nothing is straight-forward when you’re in high school and The Edge of Seventeen makes sure to remind us all of that. Maybe it’s really not the end of the world if you get that pimple on picture day, or if you get dumped the day before the prom, but for a seventeen-year-old, it might as well be.


Movie Review: Arrival

December 2, 2016

Arrival (2016)
116 minutes
Rated – PG-13
Starring: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker
Directed by Denis Villeneuve

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Grade: A

I never like to write any kind of review and say how I cannot completely discuss it because it would spoil the essence and the experience that the film offers, but this is true with Denis Villeneuve’s latest sci-fi flick, Arrival. It starts out like many other alien invasion films. There is heightened panic and confusion when alien ships enter the Earth’s atmosphere and land all over the globe. As the audience, we share a unique perspective from other Hollywood films, which is being in the same shoes as the characters. They’re all scared and they know close to nothing about anything. Will humanity have to bond with one another to overcome the extraterrestrial? Will the foreigners invade and conquer the human race? Who will be the hero to save the day?

What is refreshing about this film is how serious it takes itself, but also remains complex enough to be truly science fiction. This isn’t your popcorn sci-fi film like Independence Day; this is more like Interstellar but with a much more satisfying conclusion. Our protagonist is Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams), a brilliant professor of linguistics that is contacted and brought in to help figure out why the aliens are here and what they want. She pairs up with physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) and together they have the impossible task of deciphering the advanced alien language as time is ticking down to intergalactic warfare.

Arrival is a film that will force you to pay attention, because like those certain lessons in school that were critical tools you need for your future, Arrival throws a lot of information at you and expects you to understand. While a good majority of the film was predictable, it was still done with great precision and suspense from Villeneuve, one of the better directors of this generation. Every scene is full of excitement and mystery and even when nothing is happening, the details are worth talking about. Villeneuve always had this gift from past films like Prisoners and Sicario; he can extract the best from his actors, make a screenplay punch you in the face, and at the same time deliver an entire project that will leave you breathless at the end.

There are so many things that work well in Arrival that it’s a film I cannot wait to view for a second time. I fully expect a second and third viewing of this sci-fi gem to only enhance the experience. While Amy Adams did give a very strong performance, it was overshadowed by the intelligence of the overall movie and how realistic it all felt (a rare occasion with a sci-fi movie). And one thing that you can always anticipate from Villeneuve is that you won’t get an entirely “movie” ending with his films. For those who give Arrival a chance and accept its theories that drive the plot, it will instantly become a science fiction classic.

 


Movie Review: Tangerine

August 4, 2016

Tangerine (2015)
128 minutes
Rated – R
Directed by Sean Baker
Starring: Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Mya Taylor

tangerine-poster

Grade: B+

If this is the movie that people talk about because it was shot on iPhones, then that’s too bad because Tangerine is truly a one-of-a-kind film. But yes, let’s address the elephant in the studio because I’ll be completely honest, this was probably the main reason why I checked out this film on Netflix a year after its release. Filming this movie on iPhones isn’t really a gimmick, it’s merely a perfect match for the style and tone Tangerine demands. It’s also an independent film, but if you can make a film at a fraction of the cost without losing anything, then why not?

There are plenty of films that want to create that edgy and grainy feel to enhance its voice as an art-house production, but that’s not the purpose during Tangerine. Using iPhones truly captures the frantic feel as we zigzag through the characters on the streets of Los Angeles. Sean Baker forces us into this tumultuous world that our main characters live in.

It’s Christmas Eve and Sin-Dee just got out of a 28-day prison sentence. She’s talking with her best friend, Alexandra, at the Donut Time and the film takes off when Alexandra leaks some information that her pimp (and boyfriend) cheated on her while she was in jail. Sin-Dee makes it her mission to find this girl and to bring it up to her boyfriend, Chester. This involves visiting everyone she knows, harassing drug dealers and defying any logic until she’s able to track down this girl that all she knows is white and whose name starts with a “D.”

Did I mention that Sin-Dee and Alexandra are transgender women? It’s not necessary to point that out, but it’s quite obvious once the movie begins and plays a very important role as the plot progresses. The amateur actresses, Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor, are a riot and a pleasure to watch on screen. They’re loud, profane, and full of energy while displaying incredible chemistry with one another. They carry the film with their unique and bad-ass attitudes, delivering every single line with passion as if they were speaking to a sold-out arena.

Tangerine is a sad film, but told within a plot with many funny moments and naturally hilarious characters. There is never a moment when I felt like the film was overplaying the transgender angle, or the prostitution angle, or even the low-budget/iPhone angle. With diversity being such an important issue in Hollywood, it’s a miracle that this film was made and viewed by anyone. The result was a very well-made film that made dozens of critics’ top ten lists from 2015. It most definitely deserves all of the accolades and I am more than glad to have been able to watch this gem. Tangerine might not be ground-breaking, but it supports everything that needs to be changed with filmmaking. It celebrates the potential that a powerful and entertaining story has without passing it onto celebrities and million of dollars.


Oscars Nominations Predictions 2016

January 4, 2016

The polls have been open since December 30, and they will be closing later this week on Friday, January 8. The nominations won’t be announced until Thursday morning on January 14. In the time being, let’s make some predictions!

Best Picture

Spotlight
The Martian
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Big Short
Carol
The Revenant
Bridge of Spies
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Brooklyn
Room

Notes: Obviously I have no idea how many nominations there will be this year, but I think assuming there will be 8 or 9 is a safe bet. That being said, I did rank them in order with the movies I’m more certain about at the top. I really believe my top five are definitely receiving a Best Picture nomination, but from The Revenant and below, I’m not so sure. I do have Star Wars as my 8th ranked film, so yes, I do believe the positive reviews plus the enormous box office total will push it above the more traditional and small Oscar films like Brooklyn and Room.

Best Director

Tom McCarthy (Spotlight)
Ridley Scott (The Martian)
George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Adam McKay (The Big Short)
Todd Haynes (Carol)
Alternate: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (The Revenant)

Notes: Right now, Spotlight seems to be the front-runner all around, but I still believe that Ridley Scott has a very good chance at winning this award. With three nominations and zero wins, this might be the 78-year-old’s last chance at winning this award. Meanwhile, George Miller has a lot of momentum throughout awards season. This will be his first Best Director nomination. Can Inarritu repeat Best Director two years in a row? Don’t count on it because I don’t have him being nominated, but he definitely could spoil the likes of Haynes or McKay come Thursday.

Best Actor

Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)
Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs)
Bryan Cranston (Trumbo)
Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)
Will Smith (Concussion)
Alternative 1: Johnny Depp (Black Mass)
Alternative 2: Matt Damon (The Martian)

Notes: Could this finally be Leo DiCaprio’s year he wins an Oscar? I’m saying yes and many experts also agree that this will be his year. First off, he’s well over-due for the golden statue and number two, this isn’t a crazy competitive year. Sure, Fassbender, Cranston, and Redmayne are practically locks to receiving a nomination, but who will sneak into that fifth slot? I’m guessing Will Smith, but it can very well be Depp or Damon.

Best Actress

Brie Larson (Room)
Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn)
Cate Blanchett (Carol)
Jennifer Lawrence (Joy)
Charlotte Rampling (45 Years)

Best Supporting Actor

Michael Keaton (Spotlight)
Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies)
Sylvester Stallone (Creed)
Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight)
Paul Dano (Love and Mercy)
Alternative: Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation)

Notes: Keaton lost to Redmayne last year in the Best Actor race. Not that he doesn’t deserve it for his performance alone, but it’ll definitely help get him some sympathy votes this year for the Best Supporting Actor race.

Best Supporting Actress

Rooney Mara (Carol)
Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)
Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)
Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight)
Rachel McAdams (Spotlight)

Best Original Screenplay

Spotlight
The Hateful Eight
Inside Out
Bridge of Spies
Straight Outta Compton

Best Adapted Screenplay

Steve Jobs
Carol
Room
The Big Short
The Martian


Sufjan Stevens @ Loew’s Landmark Theatre, Jersey City (Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015)

November 1, 2015

Went to this concert with Vivenzio on Halloween night. We were both looking forward to this show and as we glanced at the setlist from prior shows, we knew that Sufjan would be playing every song off of his latest album “Carrie & Lowell.” This forced us to listen to the new album instead of hoping he would play tracks from his whole catalog, but this was a blessing in disguise because “Carrie & Lowell” is a masterpiece. Written about the death of his mom who abandoned him when he was younger, Sufjan addresses the pain and confusion dealing with his personal tragedies with beautifully simplistic songs, usually with just an acoustic guitar and his whispering voice. The best word I can use to describe the experience of the album is “haunting.”

To no surprise, the concert experience was the same way. In front of a sold out crowd in Jersey City, Sufjan played an amazing set, stripped down to merely his acoustic guitar and himself. He had four band members playing back-up instrumentals and vocals, but this was definitely the Sufjan Stevens show. It was also one of the darkest concerts I have attended, without a single person taking out their cell phone to take pictures or videos. Everyone was mesmerized by the magic of Sufjan’s voice and finger-picked guitar riffs. From the first song of the night, “Death with Dignity,” home videos of Sufjan’s childhood were displayed behind him. It set the tone for the night, that he was going to invite all of us to some of the most personal moments that he can remember, some being painful and others more accepting. The audience listened to every lyric and every note played with their undivided attention.

During the first 80 minutes of the performance, Sufjan didn’t speak one word to the audience. Not even a simple “hello,” but instead played his songs with an efficient light show up on the stage to a respectful and seated packed auditorium. And as incredible the album is, some of Sufjan’s live versions of his songs were even better. Those highlights include: John My Beloved, Fourth of July, and All of Me Wants All of You. These live interpretations stood out from the rest of the pack. Also, as Sufjan ended his set with Blue Bucket of Gold, this resulted in a ten-minute jam session of crasing drums, wild guitar melodies, and a never-ending synth loop with a crescendo to fill your ears of so much noise you wouldn’t think possible.

The encore had a much different tone. He finally spoke to the audience, thanking us for the applause and then telling us “Happy Halloween.” What better night is there to sing songs about death? He then dipped into his catalog and played some of my favorites such as For the Widows in Paradise For the Fatherless in Ypsilanti and John Wayne Gacy Jr. He also played an acoustic version of Chicago, probably his most well-known song. But to truly end the night on a high note, Sufjan with his opener Gallant, played a cover of Drake’s “Hotline Bling” and it was both hilarious and awesome. It was really nice to see Sufjan just let loose by busting some dance moves while singing “You used to call me on my cell phone!”

Overall, this concert only fortifies my feeling that Sufjan puts on one of the best live shows in the business today. Seeing him during his Age of Adz tour and now with Carrie & Lowell, you couldn’t pick two shows more different than these two from the same artist, but both were equally spectacular. I can’t wait for Sufjan to come around again… maybe in another four or five years.

Setlist:

1. Redford (For Yia-Yia & Pappou)
2. Death with Dignity
3. Should Have Known Better
4. Drawn to the Blood
5. Eugene
6. John My Beloved
7. The Only Thing
8. Fourth of July
9. No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross
10. Carrie & Lowell
11. All of Me Wants All of You
12. Vesuvius
13. I Want to Be Well
14. Blue Bucket of Gold

Encore

15. Futile Devices
16. For the Widows in Paradise, For the Fatherless in Ypsilanti
17. John Wayne Gacy, Jr.
18. Chicago
19. Hotline Bling


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