2017 SAG Awards Predictions

January 28, 2017

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I’ll make this post quick. The SAG Awards take place this Sunday and while La La Land has been racking up all of the attention and buzz (both good and bad), this year’s SAG Awards are a bit unpredictable mainly because La La Land is not nominated for the main award: Best Film Ensemble. Weird. So what does this mean?

This is Moonlight’s big chance to gain some ground while behind La La Land. With a SAG Ensemble win for Moonlight, it will certainly boost its momentum to try and upset for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. But if Moonlight loses, possibly to Fences or Manchester by the Sea, you can practically kiss its chances goodbye.

That being said, there is another big story surrounding this awards, and that is the opposite of the #OscarsSoWhite discussion from last year. It seems like in the supporting acting categories, Mahershala Ali and Viola Davis should win. There is even a good amount of talk saying that Denzel Washington could very well win his FIRST SAG award trophy. You read that corrently, Denzel has never won a SAG award before. Just for that reason alone, I feel like he has a slight edge over Casey Affleck.

But if Washington, Davis, and Ali go on to win, that is 75% of the acting awards going to African Americans. Quite the turn-around from years past. Then again, if Stone, Affleck, Hedges, and Williams win then we might have some more complaints.

Anyway, here are my predictions:

Best Film Ensemble: Moonlight
Best Actor: Denzel Washington (Fences)
Best Actress: Emma Stone (La La Land)
Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis (Fences)

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Review: Flight

November 11, 2012

Flight (2012)
138 minutes
Rated – R
Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Starring: Denzel Washington, Nadine Velazquez, Don Cheadle, Kelly Reilly, Bruce Greenwood

Grade:  A-

Robert Zemeckis directs his first live-action film in 12 years. He’s given us some highly entertaining films before (Back to the Future) and one of the best dramas in the ’90s (Forrest Gump). Flight ranks among his best dramas and I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that I’m glad Zemeckis is back from his motion-capture animation movies (Beowulf, A Christmas Carol).

Starring Denzel Washington as Whip Whitaker, a veteran pilot and one who has developed a heavy drinking problem, this is truly one of the best performances of the year. After a night of partying with fellow flight attendant Katerina (Nadina Velazquez), he snorts two lines of cocaine and prepares himself for a flight from Orlando to Atlanta. This trip should take less than an hour, but it results in one hell of an opening sequence.

After flying through a heavy storm, the plane drops into a complete nosedive and the chances for survival are slim-to-none. But Whip with nerves of steel turns the plane over on its back, which halts it descent and puts the plane into a glide until it crash-lands into an open field near a small church. Out of 102 people on-board, only 6 die. It’s considered a miracle and Whip is a hero.

That sort of event is enough to turn anyone’s life around, and Whip swears off drinking for the time being. To avoid the media he stays at his old farmhouse where he grew up and remains dedicated to his sober ways by pouring out all the alcohol inside the house. That is until the toxicology report comes back and it’s shown that Whip had a 0.24 blood alcohol level with signs of cocaine in his body. Even though he saved many souls on the plane that day, he’s still responsible for six deaths and with the alcohol and cocaine in his system, he faces a life-time in prison.

The plane crash in the opening is the only action that the film has, as it resorts to an emotional drama with layers to keep the characters and plot moving along. Whip meets a drug addict, Nicole, in the hospital and befriends her while allowing her to stay in his farmhouse. The two share a small relationship that, I’m happy to say, doesn’t take over the film like other dramas do.

The film is really about Whip’s alcoholism and the events that leads up to when he can finally admit that he has a drinking problem. It’s clear to everyone around him, including his airline staff to his ex-wife and son, that he has a problem, but he’s too stubborn and too proud to allow it to sink in. “I choose to drink!” is what he yells after he fails to stay at an AA meeting with Nicole. But even though there are moments when Whip can be seen as a monster through his drunken moments, he never loses your sympathy and that’s important for Flight. You realize that his actions are being driven by his problem and even though they don’t excuse him, they certainly allow room for patience and understanding.

The supporting cast is strong with Don Cheadle as the no-BS lawyer, Bruce Greenwood as his long-time friend and John Goodman as his drug supplier and also the majority of comic relief. But this is truly Denzel Washington’s movie and definitely one of his best performances in a very good career. He never over-acts his moments and instead contains his emotions inside. We watch and we can feel the pressure beating in his heart and the pain building in his face. He displays great control in his acting, especially in a crucial scene at a hotel room the night before his questioning.

Flight is a film that isn’t very entertaining, nor would I choose to watch it again in the near future, but it’s without a doubt a strong, character-based film. While there are some cliches that weigh down a few moments, there is a lot to swallow in this gritty tale of overcoming alcoholism. But no matter how difficult the ride was, the end is fulfilling and makes you happy you took the trip.


Box Office Predictions (Jan. 15-17)

January 15, 2010

This will mark Avatar’s fifth weekend since its release.  Do you think it still has the chops to win another box office weekend?

Its greatest competitor this weekend is the post-apacalyptic thriller, The Book of Eli, starring Denzel Washington.  I don’t have any urge to go see this film, but Denzel has proven to be an actor that could draw in large crowds.  But will it be enough to topple over the almighty Avatar?

The other new release this weekend is The Spy Next Door, starring Jackie Chan in a family film with some light martial arts to boot.  While the run of Alvin and the Chipmunks is coming to an end, the audience will probably be split with The Spy Next Door.

And then there’s Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Lovely Bones receiving a wide release.  Based on the best-selling novel, there might be a fanbase for the film but the mixed reviews has not helped the movie.  See my disappointed review of the film here.

My Predictions:

1.  Avatar – $42 million
2.  The Book of Eli – $27 million
3.  Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel – $13 million
4.  Sherlock Holmes – $12 million
5.  The Lovely Bones – $12 million


Box Office Predictions (June 12-14)

June 12, 2009

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Just when it looked like The Hangover and Up had a nice strangle hold over the box office, we have two new releases this weekend with the potential of blowing the past box office hits away.  But wait one minute, before we draw any conclusions let’s take a further look at the competition.

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 starring heavyweights Denzel Washington and John Travolta is your hostage-thriller.  Travolta plays the psychopath that takes over a subway while Washington plays the unlikely hero.  These two are very profitable actors who can easily draw an audience from the mention of their names.  But there’s simply something about the film that doesn’t appeal to me.  I don’t know if it were the commercials and trailers or the premise?  Something is turning my head away from Pelham, and like I learned last weekend with Land of the Lost… maybe there are more people in America with the same exact thought.

The other new release of the weekend is Eddie Murphy’s family-comedy titled Imagine That.  It’s a little bit fantasy, a little bit comedy, and a little bit father-daughter drama.  The problem with this release is that other family films like Pixar’s Up and Night at the Museum are still out.  Will this be another Doctor Dolittle-like success for Eddie Murphy?  I doubt it.

Also, on Saturday there’s a sneak preview in only 800 theaters of the film The Proposal that doesn’t receive a wide release until next weekend.  This is the romantic comedy starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds.  Do people seriously want to see this film?  Chicks, maybe.  Guys, definitely not.  And I don’t know but is it me or is this the last film you’d expect to have a sneak preview engagement?

Anyway, here are our predictions:

My Predictions:

1.  Up – $30 million
2.  The Hangover – $29 million
3.  The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 – $26 million
4.  Imagine That – $15 million
5.  Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian – $9 million

Chris’ Predictions:

1.  Imagine That – $45 million
2.  Up – $25 million
3.  The Hangover – $20 million
4.  The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 – $14 million
5.  Land of the Lost – $10 million

Phil’s Predictions:

1.  Up – $24 million
2.  The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 – $20 million
3.  The Hangover – $19 million
4.  Land of the Lost – $8 million
5.  Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian – $5 million

Sheehan’s Predictions:

1.  The Hangover – $35 million
2.  Up – $30 million
3.  The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 – $20 million
4.  Land of the Lost – $12 million
5.  Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian – $11 million

The Predictions Panel are really split with guesses this weekend.  Phil and I both believe that Up has what it takes to edge out the competition to top the box office, while Sheehan has The Hangover winning its second straight box office and Chris thinks Eddie Murphy’s Imagine That will topple over the rest of the pack.  Meanwhile, it’s notable that none of us has The Taking of Pelham as the #1 movie for the weekend.

Check back on Monday for the box office results.


Why I’m not pumped for Body of Lies

October 9, 2008

 

Body of Lies comes out tomorrow starring heavy weights Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe.  Directed by Ridley Scott (American Gangster, Kingdom of Heaven, Gladiator) this movie doesn’t need an introduction to how star-powered this high production really is.  BUT, why doesn’t it seem like the big blockbuster like it should be?

Okay, I’ve seen commercials.  I’ve seen the trailers.  They’re pretty awesome.  I’ve seen Russell Crowe promoting the film on late night talk shows.  But… I just don’t feel like this is going to be as big a hit as it should be.  Of course, it has as much potential as any other film this year.  I mean… it’s Leo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe!  They should totally kick-ass in this anti-terrorism action movie!

Wait… maybe that’s the problem.  It seems as though Americans are fed up with all of these political movies.  There was an onslaught of political film last year that just bombed (Rendition, In the Valley of Elah, The Kingdom).  No one wants to watch a movie about the war overseas anymore.

Okay, what else could be ruining Body of Lies’ chances of being a smash hit?  Well, I hate to say it, but Ridley Scott is slipping.  After his incredible back-to-back masterpieces with Gladiator and Black Hawk Down, he’s made good but not great films.  Kingdom of Heaven was just continuing the epic-movie craze, A Good Year was a departure from his comfort zone, and then there was last year’s American Gangster, which actually was a smash hit ($43.6 opening weekend).  So why am I not completely pumped for this movie like I was for American Gangster?!

Is it because of Denzel?  Is he really the deciding factor through all of this?  He is definitely one of the most (if not THE most) bankable actors today.  So replacing Denzel with Leo doesn’t cut it.

All right.  Why the rant?  Well, just because I would not be surprised if Body of Lies doesn’t break $20 this weekend… and with such a stellar cast and a proven director, that’s pathetic.  Will I be seeing it?  Probably not.  It’s already getting mixed reviews from the critics (currently a 52% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes)

Oh well.  Even though American Gangster was successful in the box office, it failed terribly in the Oscars where it only tallied two nominees.  Look for the same result with Body of Lies, just with a significantly lower box office.


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