Movie Review: Interstellar

November 9, 2014

Interstellar (2014)
169 minutes
Rated PG-13
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine

interstellar-poster

Grade: A-

Chris Nolan has directed some challenging, mind-bending films before but never was one so ambitious as Interstellar. His lengthiest film to date deals with a whole lot of the unknown: fifth dimensions, alternate galaxies, time traveling, space theories and formulas, etc. One thing that I give Nolan credit for is that he doesn’t attempt to dumb down any of the material that likely will be too confusing to grasp after only a single viewing. Is Interstellar perfect? No, far from it. But it’s fascinating on so many levels that you just have to marvel at it.

Set in the future, Cooper (McConaughey) stumbles upon a NASA station and is convinced to pilot a spacecraft into space to explore planets in a new galaxy that could possibly inhabit humans to save mankind. The current Earth is in bad shape due to “blight,” which has made agriculture obsolete except for corn. Experts such as Professor Brand (Caine) suggest that there are only a few decades left for humans to stay on Earth before all of their resources run out. Cooper leaves behind his loving family of his daughter Murph, son Tom, and father-in-law Donald to try and save the human race, and more importantly his loved ones.

While it takes a while for Interstellar to set up the plot, what happens after will continually keep you in awe. Whether it’s the visuals of traveling through a wormhole or the sight of a tidal wave so tall it’s mistaken for mountains, the special efforts are stunning. But one element of the film (and a theme that Nolan is obsessed with) that must be mentioned is how time is bent after Cooper and his crew travel through the wormhole. I’ll try my best to explain this essential part of the movie.

The time on Earth moves faster than the other side of the wormhole that Cooper explores. There is also a black hole called Gargantua that slows time down even more based on how close you are to it. So for every hour Cooper spent on the first planet they researched, seven years will have passed on Earth. If that doesn’t get your brain going then I don’t know what will. This reminds me of the time element in Inception, how every layer that you dive deeper into dream land happens within moments of the outer layers. This is something that Cooper is specifically concerned about since he has every intention to keep his promise to Murph to come back home to Earth. But if he stays on that planet for too long, he could easily out-live her within several hours.

There are plenty of twists and turns that Nolan takes us on during his sci-fi space epic, but not all of them will be met with the same reaction. It’s already becoming clear that Interstellar is quite the polarizing film. Some people will love it and feel the third act is brilliant, while others will feel cheated, or confused, or frustrated at its tidiness through time-traveling loopholes and theories. Whatever the case, you’ll certainly need a good amount of patience to sit through this film.

One thing I found intriguing about Interstellar is its lack of a true antagonist. There are people who do questionable and bad things throughout, but none can really be considered an antagonist. Usually, these type of films focus in on the depth of the characters and depend on feelings instead of plot, but Interstellar’s heaviest aspect is its thick, layered plot. But I cannot say that there is a lack of human emotion during the film because of the connection that Matthew McConaughey expresses with his family. The scene when he’s watching the series of recordings his family has left him while he’s gone is truly heart-breaking and McConaughey does an excellent job at selling it. Every character has something at stake, and even the ones you thought had nothing to lose really might have the least to gain.

While I won’t spoil the movie’s conclusion, I’ll say that to me it was quite a stretch to comprehend. I didn’t dislike the ending, but at the same time it lacked the great conclusions of Nolan’s past such as Memento, The Dark Knight and Inception. Here, we’re challenged to accept the slightly far fetched ending of Interstellar, but for those who can accept it will be rewarded with a very satisfying end to one hell of a ride. Interstellar has the feel of a roller-coaster: those who love it will definitely be eager to revisit it as many times as they can, as soon as possible. But those who don’t will likely never want to go through the experience ever again. Where do you stand?

interstellar-photo


Interstellar Poster

September 16, 2014

For those who are as excited as I am for this film, here’s a look at the poster:

interstellar-poster

Chris Nolan has not let me down yet, and I don’t anticipate that Insterstellar will be his first dud. This film has the potential of being great.


Predictions: The 86th Academy Awards

February 25, 2014

oscars-86th

We’re just a couple days away from the 86th Academy Awards! Are you excited?! Well you should be! Ellen is hosting, so you should expect some clean but entertaining humor throughout the night since she’s always a pleasure. On top of that, this is arguably one of the most unpredictable years, especially for big awards such as Best Picture and Best Lead Actor. In this post, I’m going to attempt to predict who WILL win while my buddy, Mike, will give his take on who SHOULD win. Let’s go!

Best Picture

American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
Gravity
Her
Nebraska
Philomena
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street

Rob: This might be the toughest match-up of the entire night, but hey you get to save the best for last! This is a race between three movies: American Hustle, Gravity, and 12 Years a Slave. Each of them have reasons why they will win, which I have explored in previous posts. When it comes down to it, I just have to go with my gut. My gut is saying that there is a pretty decent chance that American Hustle can go through the entire night without winning an award. The record is held by The Turning Point (1977) and The Color Purple (1985) for having 11 nominations each, but laying a goose egg. American Hustle is nominated for 10 awards and has the best chance at winning Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Lawrence), Best Original Screenplay, and Best Costume Design. I do feel like Lawrence will win her second Oscar though, beating out Nyong’o, so that takes care of the shut out.

As for Gravity and its 10 nominations, it’s set to win the most awards of the night, there’s no question about that. It should win most of the technical categories, along with Best Director for Alfonso Cuaron. The question is, if over 60% of the time the Best Picture and Best Director lines up, then why isn’t Gravity a heavy favorite to win Best Picture? Frankly, I have no idea. 12 Years a Slave seems to have that “important” factor, the one movie that everyone thinks SHOULD win. If you’re going to take the Oscars seriously, you’ll most likely vote for 12 Years a Slave. But for Gravity, the one thing it has going is how it’s generally liked by everyone. It’s not the difficult and violent picture that 12 Years a Slave is, and it’s much deeper and inspiring than the loose and fun American Hustle. If Gravity can rack up a good number of #2 and #3 votes during the preferential voting, then Gravity will take the big award.

But my prediction has to go with 12 Years a Slave, no matter how many awards Gravity wins throughout the night. It has good momentum going into the weekend and has the every-so-important PGA award (though Gravity also won). And when it comes down to it, 12 Years a Slave is the most emotional film of the Best Picture nominees. Sure, it’s a smaller film but it connects with the audience more than Gravity or American Hustle. You can almost make a connection to when The Hurt Locker beat Avatar. Avatar and Gravity are both 3-D heavy movies, and for one, the Academy might not be ready to reward a 3-D film yet. But more importantly, The Hurt Locker and 12 Years a Slave are familiar with its story-telling. Both films were considered “important” and “emotional”, both didn’t gross that much money compared to their Goliath rivals, and The Hurt Locker made history with Kathryn Bigelow being the first woman director ever to win. If 12 Years a Slave wins, it will consist of the first African American producers, actors, screenwriter, and director to win. I think everyone is aware of this and I feel like this isn’t going to be a situation like Brokeback Mountain where the Academy shied away from a tough subject matter. I feel that The Academy is ready to reward such a monumental film.

Will Win: 12 Years a Slave

Mike: So after I made all my picks to the categories leading up to Best Picture, you’ll see that I clearly think Gravity should win. Gravity was just a superior film. You could say the acting was a bit weak in comparison to other nominees, and I might be inclined to agree with you, but that doesn’t overshadow the fact that Gravity was superior in almost every other category. To have a film that exceeds expectations at every turn, well some could say that’s “not of this Earth.” I loved Gravity because it is a film I will surely watch over and over again. I really hope it wins the Oscar, but if it doesn’t, it still won the Oscar in my heart.

Should Win: Gravity

Best Director

David O. Russell – American Hustle
Alfonso Cuarón – Gravity
Alexander Payne – Nebraska
Steve McQueen – 12 Years a Slave
Martin Scorsese – The Wolf of Wall Street

Rob: It’s hard not to pick Alfonso Cuaron here, especially since he’s won so many awards leading up to the Oscars. How do you not appreciate the brilliance that Gravity is, from a directorial standpoint? Could anyone else made such a fascinating and beautiful movie?

Will Win: Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity)

Mike: Marty! for the win!!!!! Lets face it, Marty Scorsese is the MAN! Plain and simple. I wasn’t sure based off the previews and a three hour run-time that I wanted to even see The Wolf of Wall Street. But I did see it, and it was awesome! It was not only hilarious and incredibly well acted, but the pace of the film was spectacular. I left the theater and only felt like I was in there for 45 minutes! If that is saying something, then it’s good directing.  He knew how to pace the story and how to get the perfect performances out of his actors. Wolf was just a fun ride to watch. They should call him Marty Oscor-sese

Should Win: Martin Scorsese

Best Actor

Christian Bale – American Hustle
Bruce Dern – Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf of Wall Street
Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years a Slave
Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club

Rob: Aside from the Best Picture race, this might be the closest category and one with a lot of upset potential. The whole year, McConaughey has been sweeping up the awards for Best Actor, including the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards (which DiCaprio wasn’t nominated). Meanwhile, Chiwetel Ejiofor has been the critics’ darling, winning the majority of their awards for his powerful performance. But here’s the twist! Leonardo DiCaprio has taken the scene by storm, offering an even bigger possible surprise come March 2. DiCaprio has been floating under the radar all season long because of the late release date for The Wolf of Wall Street. But by now, everyone has seen the Scorsese masterpiece. There is certainly a lot of love for Leo in The Academy and he’s definitely due for an Oscar. But is there a hotter actor than McConaughey at the moment? All three men are deserving for this award, but which one will take it?

Will Win: Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club

Mike: I think Leo should win for Best Actor. Why you ask? Leo is possibly the only true movie star left in Hollywood. Plus, the man gives an incredible performance in Scorsese’s film. Just when I thought he couldn’t get any better, he goes and knocks it out of the park. His performance led us into the mind of a money-hungry individual who will stop at nothing to preserve himself. He was giving us a class in masters acting.

Should Win: Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf of Wall Street

Best Actress

Amy Adams – American Hustle
Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock – Gravity
Judi Dench – Philomena
Meryl Streep – August: Osage County

Rob: There’s no contest here.

Will Win: Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine

Mike: I think Meryl Streep should win. Because its Meryl freaking Streep! She was great in August: Osage county who plays a character you hate and yet somehow can relate to. Another home run performance from the master herself. That’s all I have to say about that.

Should Win: Meryl Streep – August: Osage County

Best Supporting Actor

Barkhad Abdi – Captain Phillips
Bradley Cooper – American Hustle
Michael Fassbender – 12 Years a Slave
Jonah Hill – The Wolf of Wall Street
Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club

Rob: There’s not much to write about this category. While there are some great performances nominated, Jared Leto is a lock to win.

Will win: Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club

Mike: I think anyone BUT Jared Leto should win. I know Leto will end up winning this category and I think he did a great job in Dallas Buyers Club. But I think every other single nominee did a better acting job than he did. Abdi did an amazing job as a pirate in Captain Phillips. Bradley Cooper was awesome in American Hustle. You really believed he was naive and power hungry throughout the film. Michael Fassbender was scary good in 12 Years a Slave. He is almost too convincing as a slave owner. And as for Jonah Hill… if you would have told me 3 years ago that Jonah Hill would be a two-time Oscar nominee, I woulds slapped you in the face and laughed. But damn can that kid bring it. He was awesome in Wolf of Wall Street and I think he edges out the rest of the competition.

Should Win: Jonah Hill – The Wolf of Wall Street

Best Supporting Actress

Sally Hawkins – Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts – August: Osage County
June Squibb – Nebraska

Rob: We have quite a race in this category between Lupita Nyong’o and Jennifer Lawrence. Nyong’o is the new kid on the block since 12 Years a Slave is her first film, while it’s safe to say that Jennifer Lawrence has been the most popular actress for the past few years. Lawrence won the Golden Globes, but Nyong’o won the SAG award. This is practically a coin flip if you ask me. If 12 Years a Slave wins Best Picture, it should win a few other big awards such as this one. But then again, like I said earlier this might be American Hustle’s best chance at winning an Oscar. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to see Jennifer Lawrence trip up the stairs to the podium again?

Will Win: Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle

Mike: I think Lupita Nyong’o should win for Best Supporting Actress. She nailed her part in 12 Years a Slave and I felt horrible for her character and what she had to go through, especially having a slave owner like Fassbender who was using her in the wort ways possible. Her performance was haunting and will not be easily forgotten for years to come.

Should Win: Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years a Slave

Best Original Screenplay

American Hustle
Blue Jasmine
Dallas Buyers Club
Her
Nebraska

Rob: This will be David O. Russell’s third nomination for a screenplay category, but he’s up against the slight favorite, Spike Jonze for his screenplay for Her. This is Jonze’s first nomination for a screenplay, but he has a lot of support from the WGA. All signs are pointing at Jonze to win his first Oscar since he’s already won the Golden Globes for Best Screenplay and the WGA. Russell is certainly a spoiler possibility since there is still plenty of support for American Hustle, but I think Jonze will and should win.

Will Win: Her (Spike Jonze)

Mike: Possibly my favorite category every year, I think Her should win this category. The writing in this film was simply awesome. It’s full of down to earth crude humor, including phone sex, plus talking computers, and yet still managed to be incredibly moving and emotional. If that isn’t great writing then I don’t know what is. Jonze took a traditional story and re-imagined it with something that has been done to death, yet this still take seemed fresh and fascinating. It also did a great job of capturing a feel of where we are going to be very soon in society. This is awesome times ten.

Should Win: Her (Spike Jonze)

Best Adapted Screenplay

Before Midnight
Captain Phillips
Philomena
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street

Rob: This is John Ridley’s to win for 12 Years a Slave. Ridley has been nominated once before for co-writing Three Kings with David O. Russell, but this is his year to shine.

Will Win: 12 Years a Slave (John Ridley)

Mike: Wolf of Wall Street should win for Best Adapted Screenplay. This was one of the funniest films of the year, and I don’t think there is a single joke in the film. That’s quite an accomplishment that takes good writing. There were also some really good monologues for both DiCaprio and McConaughey, and just a general tone with words that was fun to listen to. Also lets not forget to mention it had the most uses of the F word, ever. That sounds like an Oscar to me!

Should Win: The Wolf of Wall Street

Best Score

The Book Thief
Gravity
Her
Philomena
Saving Mr. Banks

Rob: Gravity is favorite to win this category, like it is with most of the technical categories. Though there is a slight road block in its way in the shape and form of the rock star power of William Butler (Arcade Fire). Butler and Owen Pallett scored Her, a film that is certaily beloved by many, which means it could make a serious push to try to win at least one award (though I still think its best chance is for Best Original Screenplay). Also, the legend that is John Williams is nominated for his work on The Book Thief. This is his 49th nomination!

Will Win: Gravity

Mike: Gravity should win here, in my opinion. A small part of the reason I’m picking Gravity is because none of the other nominees really jumped out at me. Where is American Hustle’s nomination? Or even The Hunger Games: Catching Fire? Both of those films had really cool original scores. Anyway, Gravity had a very different feel to the score. There were a lot of violins and it really felt kind of mechanical, which blended really well with the visuals of the film.

Should Win: Gravity

Best Original Song

“Happy” from Despicable Me 2
“Let It Go” from Frozen
“The Moon Song” from Her
“Ordinary Love” from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
“Alone, Yet Not Alone” from Alone Yet Not Alone

Rob: Frozen’s “Let It Go” is certainly the favorite, and it definitely deserves the award, but just like the Best Score category there is an obstacle in its way… the star power of U2 will try and upset the front-runner. U2’s “Ordinary Love” in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom won the Golden Globes award for Best Original Song, in the year that the great Nelson Mandela passed away. While I’m sticking with my gut, there is a strong stench of upset all over this.

Will Win: “Let It Go”

Mike: “Let It Go” from Frozen should win here.This movie was just a massive hit and that has a lot to do with the songs, with “Let It Go” as the stand-out selection. It’s being touted as the best animated film in a long time, and I’d have to agree with that. Also, it helps having a Broadway veteran belt out this powerful girl-power tune.

Should Win: “Let It Go”

Best Film Editing

American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
Gravity
12 Years a Slave

Rob: This one is a two-way race between Gravity and Captain Phillips. In Captain Phillips’ corner, Christopher Rouse has worked with director Paul Greengrass before. Rouse has won an Oscar for The Bourne Ultimatum, and also received a nod for United 93. Greengrass and Rouse are known for their very quick cuts and fast editing to enhance suspense and tension in a frantic way. Meanwhile, Alfonso Cuaron and Mark Sanger edited Gravity. Cuaron has been nominated once before for Children of Men. What really has made my mind is how this award tends to go towards thrillers. Past winners include Argo, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Slumdog Millionaire. Captain Phillips fits into this group of films more than Gravity does.

Will Win: Captain Phillips

Mike: OK, by now its going to seem as if i am very bias toward this movie, but again I think Gravity should win. My reasoning for this is while watching the movie I wasn’t aware of the “cuts” during the film. It seemed seamless. The transitions just weren’t noticeable, and when you watch a film that is a rare occurrence. Plus, to really make all the action in space feel believable, that includes plenty of editing tricks. Overall, Gravity has accomplished movie magic unlike any movie before.

Should Win: Gravity

Best Cinematography

The Grandmaster
Gravity
Inside Llewyn Davis
Nebraska
Prisoners

Rob: Once again, Gravity is the heavy favorite here. Emmanuel Lubezki is a great cinematographer and his work in Gravity is simply stunning. He’s been nominated five times before for films such as The Tree of Life and Children of Men, but has yet to win. You can say that he’s over-due.

Spoiler Alert: Roger Deakins is nominated for his work in Prisoners. This is Deakin’s 11th nomination for Best Cinematography and he has yet to win! Will The Academy finally award Deakins the award that has eluded him for two decades? Some of his works include The Shawshank Redemption, No Country for Old Men, and Skyfall. Honestly, if Deakins steals this one from Gravity, I wouldn’t be upset.

Will Win: Gravity

Mike: Gravity should win for Best Cinematography. First of all, it’s a tragedy that The Wolf of Wall Street was snubbed from this category! But Gravity is a visually awesome film, you just cannot deny that. The wide shots of Earth, fixed in with the backgrounds of space really makes for some great eye candy that the cinematography had to imagine on his own while filming. I can’t imagine how difficult that must have been. So my pick goes to Gravity.

Should Win: Gravity

Best Visual Effects

Gravity
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Iron Man 3
The Lone Ranger
Star Trek Into Darkness

Rob: I’m not sure if there isn’t a more sure bet than this category. Gravity will certainly win this award.

Win Win: Gravity

Mike: Gravity should win this award, hands down! This was a film that made me feel like I was in outer space. Not that I was watching people in space, but that I was actually floating around myself! This is just a masterfully orchestrated visual landscape between space and Earth that left my brain gasping for oxygen. Beautiful!

Should Win: Gravity

Best Sound Editing

All is Lost
Captain Phillips
Gravity
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Lone Survivor

Best Sound Mixing

Captain Phillips
Gravity
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Inside Llewyn Davis
Lone Survivor

Rob: These awards should be towards the beginning of the telecast and when when Gravity will start racking up the awards. Being nominated for all 7 technical categories, there’s no doubt that Gravity was an amazing visual and special effects masterpiece. It shouldn’t have any problem winning these, especially when one movie usually ends up winning both awards, such as impressive technical films like Inception and Hugo.

Will Win: Gravity/Gravity

Mike: Let me preface both of these categories by saying it is next to impossible to identify how well thse jobs are done when watching a film in theaters. That being said, I think Gravity should win for Sound Editing because there were so many different elements of sound that needed to be keenly edited in order to sound realistic. Whether it was the breathing of Sandra Bullock or the jet thrusters on George Clooney, these sounds were very specific to the environment they were in.

Also, Gravity should win for Best Sound Mixing. They were able to combine all the different sounds so smoothly. It made for an acoustically believable film.

Should Win: Gravity/Gravity

Best Costume Design

12 Years a Slave
American Hustle
The Grandmaster
The Great Gatsby
The Invisible Woman

Rob: Period films usually win this award, so it looks like it’s going to be American Hustle vs. The Great Gatsby here. It’s really tough not to pick The Great Gatsby for both categories, especially since Catherine Martin is a past winner. But then again, there’s Patricia Norris (12 Years a Slave) who is a six-time Oscar nominee seeking her first golden statue. While American Hustle has a better chance upsetting than 12 Years a Slave does, I think Martin will win Best Costume Design.

Will Win: The Great Gatsby

Mike: American Hustle should win Best Costume Design. The film did a great job of re-creating the period and the costumes really  made me feel like they were in the ’80s. If I could pick a close second it would be 12 Years a Slave, because they also did a great job re-creating the period.

Should Win: American Hustle

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Dallas Buyers Club
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
The Lone Ranger

Rob: I can’t see Dallas Buyers Club losing this category, unless voters feel that the actors did most of the work by losing weight. I guess there’s a chance that Bad Grandpa can pull off the upset, but honestly, I can’t predict anyone else than DBC here.

Will Win: Dallas Buyers Club

Mike: I really feel like The Lone Ranger should win here. My simple reason is because there was the most amount of work to be done in this film. You have two versions of Johnny Depp’s Tonto, and both required a lot of makeup and hairstyling. It was a really well done job and I think better than the other nominees.

Should Win: The Lone Ranger

Best Production Design

12 Years a Slave
American Hustle
Gravity
The Great Gatsby
Her

Rob: Let’s face it, Best Production Design has rarely gone to the winner of Best Picture. So it’s almost safe to say we can simply rule out 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, and Gravity right from the get-go. In the past 10 years, six winners have been period pieces (Lincoln, Hugo, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Pan’s Labyrinth, Memoirs of a Geisha, and The Aviator). Of the past four years, three of the winners have been quite colorful and” cartoonish” (Avatar, Alice in Wonderland, Hugo). Also, Catherine Martin (The Great Gatsby) has already won two Oscars for her work on Moulin Rouge!, another Baz Luhrmann film. I think it’s pretty safe to say The Great Gatsby will win this award.

Will Win: The Great Gatsby

Mike: I think The Great Gatsby should win. With art deco inspirations, it created almost a cartoon version of the 1920’s era. I felt every detail, from hair, makeup, costume, sets, and especially color throughout the film. There must’ve been a lot of work that went into the production and to me it’s the best.

Should Win: The Great Gatsby

Best Animated Feature

The Croods
Despicable Me 2
Ernest & Celestine
Frozen
The Wind Rises

Rob: Frozen was one of the biggest films of the year, that cannot be disputed. It’s strange not to have a Pixar film nominated, but this is Disney’s chance to pounce (when it should’ve won last year as well for Wreck-It Ralph). There’s a slight spoiler alert in The Wind Rises, supposedly Hayao Miyazaki’s last film.

Will Win: Frozen

All right, well those are my picks. There were some categories that I didn’t focus on, but my picks are:

Best Foreign Language Film: The Great Beauty
Best Documentary: The Act of Killing
Best Documentary Short: The Lady in Number 6
Best Live Action Short: The Voorman Problem
Best Animated Short: Get a Horse!

Anyway, let’s see how the ceremony goes on March 2. Hopefully I get at least 17 predictions correct. Will it be a complete Gravity sweep, including Best Picture? Will 12 Years a Slave win the most Oscars of the night, taking Best Pic, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actress? Will American Hustle shock everyone and win its major categories?

Only time will tell.


2014 Screen Actors Guild Award Winners

January 20, 2014

sag_logo

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”


Entertainment Blur’s Top Actors of 2013

January 1, 2014

There were plenty of great performances in the year 2013, but these are the actors that went above and beyond, appearing in numerous films, grossing their respected films millions, and receiving acclaim from critics around the world.

10. Christian Bale

christian-bale-furnaceMovies:
Out of the Furnace
American Hustle

After the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy came to an end last year, Christian Bale kept busy with two releases in 2013: Out of the Furnace and American Hustle. While Furnace fizzled to mediocrity, American Hustle has all the buzz during awards season. Bale leads the impressive ensemble in Hustle and is the most consistent throughout the film. That says enough when you see the actors he’s surrounded with.

9. Ryan Gosling

ryan-gosling-only-god-forgivesMovies:
Gangster Squad
The Place Beyond the Pines
Only God Forgives

Taking off in 2012, Gosling returned to the big screen three times this past year. First in Gangster Squad, which grossed $46 million. Squad was unfortunate of being bumped to early 2013 because of Aurora shooting. In The Place Beyond the Pines, Gosling is reunited with Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine) in this crime drama that has Gosling playing a motorcycle stuntman/criminal. Gosling is reunited with another director in Only God Forgives (Nicolas Winding Refn from Drive). While Gosling appeared in three movies this year, they were all early in 2013 and none garnered any awards attention.

8. Hugh Jackman

hugh-jackman-prisonersMovies:
The Wolverine
Prisoners

Fresh off his Oscar nomination last year, Jackman brought in over $132 million during the summer for The Wolverine. Then in September, Jackman starred in Prisoners, a very acclaimed thriller from Denis Villeneuve. Hugh Jackman has proven he could be a very profitable leading man. His performance in Prisoners had plenty of critics commenting as the best in his career. It’s hard to disagree.

7. Brad Pitt

brad-pitt-world-war-zMovies:
World War Z
12 Years a Slave
The Counselor

Brad Pitt has been trying to get World War Z made since he secured the rights in 2007. Finally, the film was made and released and to overwhelming success. The critics liked it and the film brought in over $200 million domestically. Pitt also starred in The Counselor, which bombed. But what saved Pitt this year after one success and one failure was his involvement with 12 Years a Slave. As a producer and a small role in the film that is taking awards season by storm, it’s hard to doubt Pitt’s influence will drive 12 Years a Slave to Oscar success.

6. Dwayne Johnson

dwayne-johnson-fast6Movies:
Fast & Furious 6
G.I. Joe: Retaliation
Pain & Gain

The Rock has been one of the most bankable actors in Hollywood, and 2013 didn’t disappoint the former wrestling superstar. Fast & Furious 6 grossed close to $240 million, good enough for eighth highest of the year. G.I. Joe: Retaliation grossed over $122 million while Pain & Gain grossed about $50 million. Here’s all you need to know: if Dwayne Johnson stars in your movie, you’ll make plenty of money. It’s tough to argue with that.

5. James Franco

james-franco-spring-breakersMovies:
Oz The Great and Powerful
Spring Breakers
This is the End
As I Lay Dying

I’m not sure if any actor had a more diverse year than James Franco. First, starring in Oz the Great and Powerful which grossed over $230 million, it’s his highest grossing film that isn’t Spider-Man. Plus Oz was his movie. Then he’s seen in Spring Breakers, the controversial Harmony Korine film where Franco has been receiving plenty of awards attention for supporting actor. He also co-stars in This is the End alongside his Apatow crew friends, which was one of the surprise hits of the summer grossing over $100 million. Finally, he co-wrote, directed, and starred in As I Lay Dying. Is there anything Franco can’t do?

4. Leonardo DiCaprio

dicaprio-wall-streetMovies:
The Great Gatsby
The Wolf of Wall Street

DiCaprio has never been far away from success, and 2013 is just another year he can be proud of. First, playing Jay Gatsby in Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation put him on the map early in the year. The film was a box office success with $144 million. But then he teams up with Martin Scorsese for the fifth time in The Wolf of Wall Street. DiCaprio gives a captivating performance as Jordan Belfort, and the film is one of the most divisive of the year among audiences and critics. DiCaprio is your leading man whether it’s a blown-out blockbuster or an awards-grabbing film at the end of the year. He’s proven it over and over again. Now will the damn Academy finally reward him!

3. Tom Hanks

tom-hanks-phillipsMovies:
Captain Phillips
Saving Mr. Banks

If there’s anyone who doesn’t need an introduction, it’s Tom Hanks. He’s been out of the game for a while now but in 2013, he made a strong statement that he still has what it takes to give a great performance. In Captain Phillips, it’s his best performance in over a decade. It also helps that the film grossed over $100 million and it’s a favorite for a Best Picture nomination. Then in Saving Mr. Banks, he plays Walt Disney opposite of Emma Thompson in another film receiving plenty of awards buzz. Who else is likeable enough to play Walt Disney than Tom Hanks? Anyone?

2. Bradley Cooper

bradley-cooper-american-hustleMovies:
The Place Beyond the Pines
The Hangover III
American Hustle

After his Best Actor nomination from last year’s Silver Linings Playbook, Bradley Cooper kept his foot on the acceleration pedal and in 2013 he starred in three films. First was The Place Beyond the Pines. While it was mainly marketed as a Ryan Gosling film, Cooper certainly had the most screen time and gave a very honest performance. Next, he co-starred in the third installment of the Hangover franchise, grossing $112 million domestically. Finally, Cooper starred in American Hustle, teaming up with David O. Russell once again. While it’s a long shot Cooper will receive another Oscar nomination this year, there’s no doubt he was an actor you just couldn’t ignore throughout the entire year.

1. Matthew McConaughey

matthew-mcconaughey-dallasMovies:
Mud
Dallas Buyers Club
The Wolf of Wall Street

I think it’s safe to say that McConaughey has put all of the romantic comedies behind him. He’s not the same actor who was seen alongside Kate Hudson a decade ago. With Bernie in 2011 and Killer Joe and Magic Mike last year, McConaughey has opened everyone’s eyes to the acting chops he has. 2013 made the conversation more interesting. First, he was the titled-character in Mud, a film that received glowing reviews and coined as the modern day Huckleberry Finn. Then came Dallas Buyers Club, McConaughey’s golden ticket to a Best Actor nomination. Here he completely transformed himself to the role of Ron Woodroof, a tough red neck who is HIV-positive and opens doors to medication and procedures that aren’t FDA approved. Finally, he’s seen in the beginning of The Wolf of Wall Street, taking on DiCaprio and showing him the ropes to the trade.

If your perception of McConaughey is still a good-looking guy who can only take off his shirt to land him a movie role, then you missed his incredible year. Check out the indie-gem Mud and then Dallas Buyers Club and I guarantee your opinion will change. 2014 looks pretty good for McConaughey as well with the HBO series True Detective and Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar on McConaughey’s resume. Not too shabby at all.


Movie Review: Dallas Buyers Club

November 26, 2013

Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
117 minutes
Rated – R
Directed by Jean-Marc Vallee
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Jared Let, Jennifer Garner

dallas-buyers-poster

Grade: B+

Earlier this year I watched Matthew McConaughey in Mud and was thoroughly impressed by his performance as the mysterious man who befriended a pair of boys, telling them his story about the woman he loves and why he can’t be seen in public. While he played a supporting character, it was better than his performance in Magic Mike, though some would argue with me on that. But here in Dallas Buyers Club, he completely owns the movie from start to finish.

The first thing you notice is McConaughey’s physical state. He lost around 40 pounds for the role and he’s never looked worse (Christian Bale in The Machinist immediately came to mind). But once you get used to his loose skin and skelatal appearance, you dive right into his character Ron Woodroof. He’s a care-free and reckless Texan who can’t get enough of his girls, alcohol and drugs. It’s 1985 when his doctors tell him he’s diagnosed with HIV. Woodroof only knows one thing about the virus, that it’s usually something only homosexuals get, that is until further research has him finally understanding his situation clearer.

Given only 30 days to live, Woodroof desperately makes a deal to obtain a supply of AZT during its trial period by the FDA, but when his conditions worsen he visits a physician in Mexico who gives him vitamins and other pills to boost his immune system. What felt like a miracle, Woodruff’s health is stabilized, even though the medication he’s taking isn’t FDA approved. This presents the main conflict of the film involving drug companies holding hands with the FDA, looking for a sizeable profit from those with deep pockets. Woodroof provided an alternate option, the Dallas Buyers Club, where he sold drugs to patients for a $400 enrollment fee (which was much cheaper than the thousands of dollars for AZT).

Opposite of McConaughey’s Woodruff is Jared Leto’s Rayon, a transsexual AIDS patient who teams up with Woodruff to form the Dallas Buyers Club. Leto’s performance is worth mentioning because he, too, transformed himself physically to really make him stand out in the film. Leto’s playful and flamboyant Rayon is the perfect balancing factor to McConaughey’s rough and tough Woodruff. But as Woodruff understands his predicament, he begins to understand Rayon and in turn the audience opens up to the both of them and their partnership.

It’s a straight-forward and simple plot, but Dallas Buyers Club does many things right without pulling back too many punches. The film has a slightly out-of-place Jennifer Garner as a doctor who befriends Woodruff and represents the professional who finds herself on the wrong side of the line. Things become a bit hokey between her and Woodruff, but she serves her purpose in the end. Despite a few flaws, Dallas Buyers Club belongs to Matthew McConaughey in arguably his best performance in his career. His Woodruff is the life and the soul of the film and he rides this movie like a bull through the rough path of an AIDS patient until the very last scene.


Movie Review: Bernie

June 11, 2013

Bernie (2012)
104 minutes
Rated PG-13
Directed by Richard Linklater
Starring: Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine, Matthew McConaughey

bernie-poster

Grade: B

This review contains spoilers.

Director and co-writer Richard Linklater brings to the screen the based-on-a-true-story tale of a man named Bernie Tiede, a beloved funeral director from the small East Texas town of Carthage. Saying Tiede was beloved is an understatement. He was kind and generous, more than anyone in the town would expect, even from their own family. So to say Tiede was loved by the town like he was a part of everyone’s family, that’s accurate.

And after he commits murder, it becomes a problem. After meeting Marjorie Nugent throughout the funeral process of her husband, Tiede becomes everything to Nugent. But to understand the situation one must understand the characters, and the film takes its time displaying the man who is Bernie Tiede. The man who donates time and money to the needy of the community; who sings and performs musical theater; who has a very hard time saying no to anyone. This man is capable of murder? Even after a confession, the community still has its doubts.

To add fuel to the fire, Marjorie Nugent wasn’t exactly the town’s favorite person. A man admits that there are people in the town who would probably have killed Marjorie for as little as $5. But that doesn’t excuse the act that Bernie Tiede committed and prosecutor Danny Buck is passionate to see that justice is served.

The movie is done in documentary style where the townspeople give their opinions about Bernie and his situation. But the film’s central star is Jack Black, who gives life to Bernie Tiede. Black never takes the character over-the-top, something he’s made a living doing in his career. Instead, he gives Tiede a quiet gentleness, doing everything with deadpan passion and not trying to evoke laughs from this black comedy. It pays off at the end as we’re able to really feel for his character while questioning his true motives.

Linklater has shown great diversity from the collection of movies he’s directed. Something that always feels natural is the dialogue in his films. In Bernie, the back and forth style from documentary interviews and the telling of Bernie’s story is one that enhances it, because it allows us to witness some real-life residents of Carthage. And believe me, they’re the funniest parts of the film.


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