Remembering Philip Seymour Hoffman (1967-2014)

February 2, 2014

philip-seymour-hoffman

Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead Sunday afternoon in his New York City apartment, reports said. He was 46.

Hoffman had an incredible career, but it’s sad to imagine what he could’ve accomplished if his life wasn’t cut so short. To me, I’ll always remember Hoffman in his award-winning role as Truman Capote in Capote. It’s one of the best performances in the past decade, and to take on such a complicated character in a well-known event, Hoffman put in his heart and soul into the character. If you ever want to witness a truly phenomenal acting performance, look no further than Hoffman in Capote.

In Magnolia, Hoffman plays a crucial role as a nurse who tracks down Frank Mackey (Tom Cruise) to see his dying father one last time. While Magnolia is known for its superb ensemble cast, Hoffman certainly held his own with other acting heavy-weights. He was the villain in Mission Impossible III, a CIA agent in Charlie Wilson’s War, a political campaign manager in The Ides of March, Father Flynn in Doubt, manager Art Howe in Moneyball, and most recently, Plutarch Heavensbee in The Hunger Games.

Hoffman had the ability to dive deeply into a character’s mind and body, and showcase his talents on the screen with what seemed like little effort. He was simply mesmerizing as Lancaster Dodd in The Master. With every speech he gave, he practically convinced me to jump on board with his beliefs. And I can’t forget to mention how Hoffman played one half of the amazing interview scene with Joaquin Phoenix, which is hands down the best scene of The Master. He had such talent and understanding as an actor, it’s a shame he’s not with us anymore.

To say that Hoffman went toe-to-toe with actors such as Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Joaquin Phoenix, Tom Cruise, Amy Adams, Catherine Keener, Laura Linney, and so many more, it just proves that he was one of the best actors of our generation. It’s sad to face the fact that he’s gone, but his legacy will always remain intact.

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Oscar Talk 2014: Best Actor Race

December 30, 2013

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redford-all-is-lost   dicaprio-wall-street

At this point of the awards season, we only have the SAG nominees and the Golden Globes nominees to fall back on how the Oscars might deal out their nominations. Frankly, that isn’t a lot and therefore it’s still all up in the air. Looking at the amount of quality films this year, I don’t remember a year that has quite this many amazing performances by actors in… maybe over a decade? Maybe even longer? Just take a glimpse at this list of potential nominees:

Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips)
Bruce Dern (Nebraska)
Robert Redford (All is Lost)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)
Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Joaquin Phoenix (Her)
Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis)
Forest Whitaker (The Butler)
Christian Bale (American Hustle)
Hugh Jackman (Prisoners)
Idris Elba (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom)

Those are eleven incredible leading performances this year and in my opinion they all deserve to be nominated for an Oscar. Unfortunately, that’s not how things work and here I am trying to predict which five are going to be nominated. This year, it’s much more difficult than usual.

Let’s start out with the definites, or those who I think are practically a shoe-in for a nomination. That would begin with Chiwetel Ejiofor with easily the most emotional performance of the entire year in 12 Years a Slave. I cannot imagine him being snubbed. It was just a masterful performance by an underrated actor.

And then that’s it. Honestly, I can picture any four actors from the list above to be in this category, and just because Ejiofor is a front-runner doesn’t mean he’s a favorite to win the award.

The way I see it, there are sub-categories these actors can be placed in. Bruce Dern and Robert Redford are the veterans of the game and will receive a lot of the elderly votes from The Academy, along with those who feel this might be their last opportunity to be recognized. Unfortunately, these two might split these votes and both might not make the final cut.

Then you have Tom Hanks and Forest Whitaker, two former winners who are both having a comeback to the awards circuit. They’re both lovable and are anything but new to the way things run this time of the year. This could prove to be very beneficial.

Next you have Leonardo DiCaprio and Joaquin Phoenix, two actors who have received a number of nominations but have never won. The Academy tends to reward actors like these, and it’s proven that they’re both very much liked in the community. While Phoenix was nominated just last year for The Master (a somewhat surprising nomination), DiCaprio hasn’t been nominated since 2007 for Blood Diamond. So he’s been snubbed for his performances in movies like Revolutionary Road, Inception, and Django Unchained. What gives?

Next you have The Prestige… well what I mean to say is that Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman have both received only one nomination each. Yes, Bale won but that was for a Supporting Role for The Fighter, while Jackman was nominated last year for Les Miserables. So while these two aren’t completely new to awards season, it’s still quite fresh and they’re both looking for their first Best Leading Actor award.

Finally, the newbie category. Oscar Isaac, Matthew McConaughey, and Idris Elba fall here because they’ve never been nominated. Also, I would put Chiwetel Ejiofor here as well since he’s never been nominated, but I already expressed my opinion about him. Isaac and Elba both have had stand-out performances in their respected movies, but can they really compete with the bigger stars?

I’d like to think that the voters are going to pick one from each sub-category that I’ve discussed. So putting in Ejiofor, we have four more spots. For the veteran category, that’s a coin flip. I guess if I had to choose, I’d go with Bruce Dern because of the SAG snub to Redford. Then for the comebacks, I’d take Hanks over Whitaker. For the overdue sub-category, I’ll go with DiCaprio over Phoenix. For the Prestige, well I don’t think I’m going to take either Jackman or Bale on this one. And for the newbies, I think The Academy will finally give McConaughey a well deserved nomination.

But hey, what the hell do I know? Probably nothing.


SAG Awards Nominees 2014

December 11, 2013

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The Screen Actors Guild Awards are chosen and voted for by the largest guild in the business: the actors. It’s always interesting to see which movies and actors the peers are leaning towards as the best from the past year. Should we take these nominees seriously when trying to predict the Oscars?

There are only five nominees every year for the SAG Outstanding Performance by a Cast award, so during the days when there were only five Best Picture nominees, it was fun to compare. Now with more Best Picture nominees, all of these guild nominations are just hints at what the Best Picture category can look like.

Let’s take a look at the past few SAG Ensemble winners and Best Picture winners:

2012: Argo (SAG) – Argo (Oscar)
2011: The Help (SAG) – The Artist (Oscar)
2010: The King’s Speech (SAG) – The King’s Speech (Oscar)
2009: Inglourious Basterds (SAG) – The Hurt Locker (Oscar)
2008: Slumdog Millionaire (SAG) – Slumdog Millionaire (Oscar)

So based on the past five years when matching the SAG and Best Picture, you can see a on-and-off pattern. If that pattern continues, then the winning SAG Ensemble won’t match this year’s Best Picture, but that’s pretty silly. It’s better off mentioning that there’s about a 50% chance that the winning SAG ensemble will also end up winning Best Picture.

Here are the nominees:

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

12 Years a Slave
American Hustle
August: Osage County
Dallas Buyers Club
Lee Daniels’ The Butler

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role

Bruce Dern / Woody Grant – “Nebraska”
Chiwetel Ejiofor / Solomon Northup – “12 Years a Slave”
Tom Hanks / Capt. Richard Phillips – “Captain Phillips”
Matthew McConaughey / Ron Woodroof – “Dallas Buyers Club”
Forest Whitaker / Cecil Gaines – “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

Cate Blanchett / Jasmine – “Blue Jasmine”
Sandra Bullock / Ryan Stone – “Gravity”
Judi Dench / Philomena Lee – “Philomena”
Meryl Streep / Violet Weston – “August: Osage County”
Emma Thompson / P.L. Travers – “Saving Mr. Banks”

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

Barkhad Abdi / Muse – “Captain Phillips”
Daniel Brühl / Niki Lauda – “Rush”
Michael Fassbender / Edwin Epps – “12 Years a Slave”
James Gandolfini / Albert – “Enough Said”
Jared Leto / Rayon – “Dallas Buyers Club”

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

Jennifer Lawrence / Rosalyn Rosenfeld – “American Hustle”
Lupita Nyong’o / Patsey – “12 Years a Slave”
Julia Roberts / Barbara Weston – “August: Osage County”
June Squibb / Kate Grant – “Nebraska”
Oprah Winfrey / Gloria Gaines – “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”

At this stage of the game, the two front-runners for Best Picture seem to be 12 Years a Slave and Gravity. Gravity’s absence for the SAG Ensemble award isn’t that big of a deal though, since it’s practically Sandra Bullock throughout. What I can make out from the five nominees is that American Hustle is making a push towards the top tier alongside 12 Years a Slave and Gravity as favorites. Also, Lee Daniel’s The Butler is doing very well and is on its way to making a serious push for Best Picture.

I am very surprised that Robert Redford wasn’t among the nominees for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role for All is Lost. Also, Joaquin Phoenix didn’t get nominated while Her is receiving incredible raves from groups like the National Board of Review, the American Film Institute, along with many critic circles. But the Lead Actor category is stacked this year, so we’ll have to see how this all plays out.

Meanwhile, the Lead Actress category looks to be a lock for these five actresses, with Sandra Bullock leading the way. Some are making a case for Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine, and you should never count out Meryl Streep when she’s nominated. Rounding out the nominees, I’m glad that Daniel Brühl received a nomination for his excellent performance in Rush. It was also nice to see James Gandolfini nominated in the same category. And at the end, there’s Oprah nominated for her performance in The Butler.

While this doesn’t change the predictions all that much, it definitely benefits Lee Daniel’s The Butler.


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