2014 Screen Actors Guild Award Winners

January 20, 2014

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The SAG is the largest guild who vote for the Oscars, and that’s exactly the reason why people pay close attention to the SAG awards. The nominees for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture were:

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

Of these nominees, 12 Years a Slave and American Hustle are favorites for Best Picture, though Dallas Buyers Club is certainly gaining momentum with its support for McConaughey and Leto. But when they announced the winner, the front-runner took the award, American Hustle. Does this make it the clear favorite to win Best Picture? At the moment, yes.

Here are the other winners from the ceremony (winners are in bold):

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role

Bruce Dern (Nebraska)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)
Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips)
Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)
Forest Whitaker (Lee Daniels’ The Butler)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
Judi Dench (Philomena)
Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)
Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)
Daniel Bruhl (Rush)
Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)
James Gandolfini (Enough Said)
Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)
June Squibb (Nebraska)
Oprah Winfrey (Lee Daniels’ The Butler)

Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture

All is Lost
Fast & Furious 6
Lone Survivor
Rush
The Wolverine

It’s noteworthy that Jennifer Lawrence didn’t win the Supporting Actress category, falling to Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave). This will be a huge shift to what everyone thought was a lock for Lawrence to win her second Oscar. Nyong’o might be 12 Years a Slave’s best chance at snagging a Top 6 Oscar award, and people may very well vote that way.

Here are the TV awards from the night

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries

Matt Damon (“Behind the Candelabra”)
Michael Douglas (“Behind the Candelabra”)
Jeremy Irons (“The Hollow Crown”)
Rob Lowe (“Killing Kennedy”)
Al Pacino (“Phil Spector”)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries

Angela Bassett (“Betty & Coretta”)
Helena Bonham Carter (“Burton and Taylor”)
Holly Hunter (“Top of the Lake”)
Helen Mirren (“Phil Spector”)
Elisabeth Moss (“Top of the Lake”)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series

Steve Buscemi (“Boardwalk Empire”)
Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”)
Jeff Daniels (“The Newsroom”)
Peter Dinklage (“Game of Thrones”)
Kevin Spacey (“House of Cards”)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series

Claire Danes (“Homeland”)
Anna Gunn (“Breaking Bad”)
Jessica Lange (“American Horror Story: Coven”)
Maggie Smith (“Downton Abbey”)
Kerry Washington (“Scandal”)

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series

“Boardwalk Empire”
“Breaking Bad”
“Downton Abbey”
“Game of Thrones”
“Homeland”

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series

Alec Baldwin (“30 Rock”)
Jason Bateman (“Arrested Development”)
Ty Burrell (“Modern Family”)
Don Cheadle (“House of Lies”)
Jim Parsons (“The Big Bang Theory”)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series

Mayim Bialik (“The Big Bang Theory”)
Julie Bowen (“Modern Family”)
Edie Falco (“Nurse Jackie”)
Tina Fey (“30 Rock”)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“Veep”)

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series

“30 Rock”
“Arrested Development”
“The Big Bang Theory”
“Modern Family”
“Veep”

Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Television Series

“Boardwalk Empire”
“Breaking Bad”
“Game of Thrones”
“Homeland”
“The Walking Dead”


Movie Review: Hanna

July 13, 2012

Hanna (2011)
111 minutes
Rated PG-13
Directed by Joe Wright
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, Cate Blanchett

Grade: B

Joe Wright is known for his previous period dramas such as “Pride and Prejudice” and “Atonement” but in this film he exchanges the romance for violence, something I personally have no problem with. Saoirse Ronan stars as the title character, Hanna, a teenage killing machine who utters “I’m ready” to her father Erik (Eric Bana).

Erik has been training Hanna in hand-to-hand combat and advanced survival skills for her entire life. What she is ready for is to finally be released into the real world and away from the snowy lands of the far north. All of this is strange, yes, but it gets even stranger when we realize that Erik is an ex-CIA assassin and a sinister Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett) is after both Erik and Hanna.

“Adapt or die.” That is what Erik embeds in Hanna’s mind before they depart from each other. The second act of the film is scattered between Hanna’s fish-out-of-water situations in North Africa and Europe and trying to piece together the back-story while Wiegler is hunting down Erik and Hanna. It was troubling to figure out exactly where the movie was going, but to me that was one of its strengths. In this dream-like story it was suspenseful not knowing what direction the plot was headed.

There are a handful of excellent action sequences, particularly the one where Erik is being followed by a number of agents until the inevitable rumble goes down. Also the acting was great, with Saoirse Ronan excelling in the lead role. If she and Joe Wright team up again in the future, I’m sure they’ll produce another satisfying film.

One of the main problems I had with the film is how there were sections where the plot seemed to be meandering. There was about 20 minutes that could’ve been edited out and the more concise version would’ve been an even better viewing experience. But nonetheless, Hanna is an effective thriller with a very intriguing twist to your typical ruthless killer main character.


Review: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

December 30, 2008

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
159 minutes
Rated: PG-13
Directed by David Fincher
Starring:  Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Taraji P. Henson, Tilda Swinton

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Grade:  A

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a marvelous and peculiar film about a man who ages backwards.  Based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the screenplay really doesn’t withhold anything from the short except the reverse-aging aspect.  That being said, screenwriter Eric Roth (Forrest Gump) and director David Fincher (Se7en, Zodiac) team up and create an epic tale that explores the life of Benjamin Button.

So what’s it like to age backwards?  I can’t imagine the possibility of a man aging backwards fitting into society so smoothly like Benjamin Button did.  There should be a whole new set of rules for a man with this type of bizarre situation, but instead he is accepted by his peers and his family.  He’s looked upon more with amazement than as a freak-showcase.  And for the most part he is encountered by generous and kind people throughout his life.

Although he puts his elderly years behind him early on, he can’t look forward to turning youthful.  He experiences the pain of losing his friends within his first ten years.  And for the people who he grows close to, he understands it’s only temporary.  They’re walking in opposite directions on the life spectrum, and no force can prevent someone from getting older, or turning Benjamin younger.  Benjamin Button is one of a kind, but along with everyone else he experiences love, lust, loss, curiosity, responsibility, and pain.

There is a lot, and I mean A LOT, of detail put into this spectacular film.  The way New Orleans looked in 1918, the progress of America through the year 2005, the way Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett played young and old Benjamin and Daisy, respectively.  Fincher’s technique of pitch-perfect effects to illuminate reality during such a fantasy film is a triumph.  And the way that the effects were so subtle… while watching the film I didn’t give it much thought because I was too wrapped up with the story… but thinking about it afterwards, it’s jaw-dropping.

It must’ve been such a difficult role for Pitt to play an old man with the innocence of a child.  He’s eager to run and play but is limited by his physical deterioration, and Pitt expressed that.  And while he’s in his twenties living with the love of his life, he has the wisdom way past what his youthful face displays.  Cate Blanchett worked well with Pitt, but her character wasn’t as compelling and therefore neither was she.  Pitt is the one who really shines in this film.  This might be his best acting performance in his entire career.  To be able to lead a film with this much power and play a character that has never been done before, Pitt should be credited highly for his ability to do all of this successfully.

This isn’t a traditional Fincher film who have dealt with the theme of obsession with a male-heavy cast for his films (Fight Club, Se7en, Zodiac).  Here he strips all of that aside and tells the adventure of Benjamin Button.  He also enters an area he’s not known for, romance.  The love story between Benjamin and Daisy overpowers the rest of the psychological characteristics of aging backwards.  Because simply put, Benjamin and Daisy meet when they were both children… and they share a large portion of their life with each other.  But they can only find love when they both seem to be at the same age.  The love that they share is truly felt and it’s only more heart-breaking when you know it’s impossible for them to work it out.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button doesn’t cast the reverse-aging aspect as a gimmick; instead it uses it to enable a unique perspective on life and the unpredictability of its course.  It blends the curiosity of knowing one’s fate with the strength to allow the universe to tug on your hand and willingly go wherever it leads you.  This is without a doubt one of the best movies of the year.


The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Trailer

November 27, 2008

 

 

I cannot wait for this film and this trailer only makes me more excited.  I’m still trying to figure out exactly what this movie is about.  I know it’s loosely based on the F. Scott Fitzgerald short story about a man who is born as an elder but ages backwards.  That’s evident, but I’m really digging this being more of a story about how love is timeless.  With Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett really shining as the two leads, and with the direction from David Fincher… this has the potential of being the year’s best film.


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