oscars liveblog, take four!

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Click the link below to follow along with my live blog of the 86th Academy Awards

~Click here to check out The Skinny by the Buff Oscars Live Blog!~

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oscar predictions 2014!

12-years-a-slave

I’m baaaaaaack! Here are my predictions for the top 10 categories. I’ll be posting my predictions for the other 14 categories during my liveblog Sunday night.

BEST PICTURE
Will win: 12 Years a Slave
Very Possible upset: Gravity
Dark Horse: American Hustle

Should Win: Her (Although I’d be  happy with either 12 Years a Slave or Gravity)

BEST ACTRESS
Will win: Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine
Possible upset: Amy Adams for American Hustle

Should win: Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine (Great performance, frustrating film)

BEST ACTOR

Will win: Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club
Possible upset: Chiwetel Ejiofor for 12 Years a Slave
Dark Horse: Leonardo DiCaprio for The Wolf of Wall Street

Should Win: Chiwetel Ejiofor for 12 Years a Slave

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Will win: Lupita Nyong’o for 12 Years a Slave
Possible upset: Jennifer Lawrence for American Hustle

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

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Will win: Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club
Possible upset: Michael Fassbender  for 12 Years a Slave
Dark Horse: Barkhad Abdi for Captain Phillips

Should Win: Michael Fassbender  for 12 Years a Slave (Although I’ll be happy if/when Leto wins)

BEST DIRECTOR

Will win: Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity
Possible upset: Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave
Dark Horse: David O. Russell for American Hustle

Should win: Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Will win: 12 Years a Slave
Possible upset: Philomena

Should win: Before Midnight

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Best Original Screenplay is the toughest major category this year. While Her has racked up numerous screenplay awards this year, Academy members may vote for David O. Russell  to prevent the very likely possibility that American Hustle leaves the Oscars empty handed tomorrow night. It could really go either way.

Will win: Her
Very Possible upset: American Hustle

Should win: Her

BEST ANIMATED FILM
Will win: Frozen
Possible upset: The Wind Rises
Dark Horse: Despicable Me 2

Should win: Frozen

BEST FOREIGN FEATURE

Will win: The Great Beauty
Possible upset: The Broken Circle Breakdown
Dark Horse: The Hunt

Should win: The Hunt

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oscar liveblog, take three!

argo

Click the link below to follow along with my live blog of the 85th Academy Awards! I’ll begin blogging at 8:00PM EST.

Click here to check out the Live Blog!

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oscar predictions 2013

lincoln

Here are my predictions for the major categories. I’ll be posting my predictions for the other categories on the liveblog!

BEST PICTURE
Will win: “Argo”
Possible upset: “Lincoln”
Dark Horse: “Silver Linings Playbook”

BEST ACTRESS

This category is still pretty much up in the air. For a while it seemed like a J-Law J-Cha race, but don’t be surprised if Riva, the oldest nominee (ever!) for Best Actress sneaks in and takes the award.

Will win: Jennifer Lawrence for “Silver Linings Playbook”
Possible upset: Jessica Chastain for “Zero Dark Thirty”
Dark Horse: Emmanuelle Riva for “Amour”

BEST ACTOR
Will win: Daniel Day-Lewis for “Lincoln”
Possible upset: Daniel Day-Lewis for “Lincoln” (If anyone had a glimmer of a chance it would be Hugh Jackman)
Dark Horse: Daniel Day-Lewis for “Lincoln”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Will win: Anne Hathaway for “Les Miserables”
Possible upset: Sally Field for “Lincoln”
Dark Horse: Helen Hunt for “The Sessions”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

This category is the biggest unknown this year. I’d say all nominees except Arkin have a serious shot at winning.

Will win: Robert De Niro for “Silver Linings Playbook”
Possible upset: Tommy Lee Jones for “Lincoln”
Dark Horse: Christoph Waltz for “Django Unchained”

BEST DIRECTOR

While Argo has the most momentum going for Best Picture, it’s director Ben Affleck was not nominated for Best Director which leaves this category up in the air. Ang Lee might win his second Oscar for his beautiful adaptation of Life of Pi, a book many thought would struggle to translate on film. Spielberg could also be applauded for his restrained directing for Lincoln.

Will win: Ang Lee for “Life of Pi”
Possible upset: Steven Spielberg for “Lincoln”
Dark Horse: Michael Haneke for “Amour”

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Will win: “Argo”
Possible upset: “Lincoln”
Dark Horse: “Silver Linings Playbook”

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Will win: “Amour”
Possible upset: “Zero Dark Thirty”
Dark Horse: “Django Unchained”

BEST ANIMATED FILM
Will win: “Wreck-It Ralph”
Possible upset: “Brave”
Dark Horse: “Frankenweenie”

BEST FOREIGN FEATURE

This one is a no brainer.

Will win: “Amour”
Possible upset: “Amour”
Dark Horse: “Amour”

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review: les misérables

Anne Hathaway as Fantine (AP Photo/Universal Pictures)

Anne Hathaway as Fantine (AP Photo/Universal Pictures)

Let me start by warning you that Les Misérables is one of my favourite musicals of all time — in fact, perhaps my favourite musical, period. Thus, my perception of Director Tom Hooper’s film adaptation is viewed through the tinted glasses of a die-hard fan:

Adapting the stage show based on the lengthy novel by Victor Hugo is no easy feat, and while this film is not perfect, Hooper has captured the original show’s immense impact and its powerful themes of sacrifice, redemption, love and compassion. From the sweeping shots of a decrepit 19th century Paris to the intimate close-ups on a tragic prostitute reflecting on her life, Hooper shows a true understanding of what makes this musical so powerful: one minute it fills you with revolutionary fervour, and the next, with tears. Les Mis needed a gutsy filmmaker to bring the musical from stage to screen, and Hooper’s brave choices – including the daring decision to have his performers sing live on set – really pay off. The live singing, a novel technique, allows each vocal performance to resonate much more deeply. These raw vocal performances combined with Tom Hooper’s often critiqued extreme closeups truly allows you to connect with each character.

Hugh Jackman is an absolute wonder as the convict Jean Valjean. He truly is the heart and soul of the film and delivers a masterful and Oscar-worthy performance. Jackman will definitely be giving Daniel Day-Lewis’s Lincoln a run for his money.  Anne Hathaway’s role as the factory worker turned prostitute Fantine is very small but her performance is absolutely mighty, and is sure to garner her an Oscar nomination (and a likely win). Hathaway’s “I Dreamed a Dream” is a total showstopper – she brutally slays the song with immense force and pain and made this die-hard fan feel like I was experiencing the song  for the first time. Russell Crowe is surprisingly sympathetic as Javert, the relentless policeman chasing Valjean across the years. At first Crowe seems slightly out of place in the company of powerful performers such as Jackman, Hathaway, and Aaron Tveit (who delivers a very strong performance as the revolutionary Enjorlas). However, while Crowe lacks the vocal power of the Javerts of the West End and Broadway, his voice has a calculated control to it which I believe actually suits Javert’s dutiful nature and desire for order.  Eddie Redmayne, as Marius, a young student torn between newfound love and his revolutionary cause, is surprisingly talented. While many have been aware of this Cambridge-educated actor’s strong acting chops for the past few years, Redmayne’s vocal performance cements him as a breakthrough star. Redmayne’s solo, “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” is heartbreaking. Samantha Barks is a revelation as Eponine. Her part seemed smaller than I remembered it from the show, which was a shame because Barks is incredibly powerful and relatable. Amanda Seyfried’s soprano voice is light and pretty, yet her performance as Cosette is the weakest of the cast (however she isn’t helped by her underdeveloped character who tends to be problematic in the stage musical as well). Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter succeed in providing much needed comic relief, although Bonham Carter’s Madame Thenardier seems to have stepped off of a Tim Burton set. And while Baron Cohen’s skill for crafting quirky characters is well used, his accent flip-flops between a strange French and Cockney brogue, and is very distracting.

As you can probably tell, the cast’s performances are the film’s strongest assets. Ultimately Les Misérables, running just under 2 hours and 40 minutes, is quite lengthy. For those who do not know the show or novel’s plot, this film adaptation can be quite an exhausting experience. The film is bombastic and unrelenting, and could have occasionally been more subtle with its themes and imagery here and there (we get it, Valjean is a Christ-like figure!). The editing is at times sloppy and jarring. However, the courageous and talented performances given by the film’s terrific cast outweigh these directorial imperfections.

P.S. Look out for a brief yet terrific performance by Colm “The Voice of God” Wilkinson as the Bishop. Wilkinson originated the role of Valjean on both Broadway and the West End.

4/5

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list: my top 6 birthday scenes

(via tumblr)

Last week was my 20th birthday. After having a lovely celebration with my friends I began to think of my favourite birthday scenes from the movies and thought I’d share them with you:

 

6. Angry Birds – Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963)

Our birthdays are supposed to be our favorite day of the year, which  makes a birthday party the perfect setting for things to go wrong.

 

5. He’s in for a Surprise – District 9 (2009)

After coming into contact with a mysterious alien liquid, Wikus van de Merwe begins to develop some curious symptoms. In an extremely dark and poignant film, this brief scene is hilarious.

 

4. A Very Merry Unbirthday – Alice in Wonderland (1951)

While technically your unbirthday is every day that isn’t your actual birthday, this trippy scene is definitely a classic celebration!

3. Harry Gets His Wish – Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)

What kid doesn’t wish to be told that they’re a witch or wizard on their 11th birthday?

 2. Maleficent is a Party Pooper – Sleeping Beauty (1959)

Maleficent is one of my favourite Disney villains. As a child I was honestly terrified every single time she appeared on my TV screen. While she is capable of turning into a fire-breathing dragon, I find her most terrifying in her first appearance in the film when she crashes baby Aurora’s birthday celebration.

 

1. Bilbo Baggins’ Eleventy-First Birthday  – The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

This scene has it all – fireworks, storytelling, dancing, and magic. And you know it isn’t a good birthday party without an awkward speech!

 

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film review: beginners

What makes a good film? Forget the perfect structure that we’re taught makes for a great plot (you know, the “Put a man up in a tree, throw stones at him, and either take him down or let him starve to death” plot line…*)  For me, a great film makes me do two things. It makes me feel, and it makes me think.

Mike Mills’ exquisitely crafted Beginners made me feel and think. I can’t remember the last time a single scene made me go from laughing to crying in a matter of seconds. Beginners, set in 2003, is about Oliver (Ewan MacGregor) whose father Hal (Christopher Plummer in the role that won him his first Academy Award at the age of 82) comes out as gay after Oliver’s mother passes away. Soon after, Hal is diagnosed with terminal cancer.

From the film’s premise I expected lots of laughs and tears, but what I did not expect was a brilliantly and subtly acted and directed exploration of how love, loss and fear affect the young and old. Oliver meets Anna (Inglorious Basterds’ Melanie Laurent), an actress, shortly after his father’s death, and their relationship is portrayed with relatable vulnerability. Yet this primary relationship is actually the weakest of all the relationships in the film – although Laurent’s understated performance is captivating, her character, who quirkily pulls Oliver out of his isolation and fear of commitment,  occasionally veers on the “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” trope. What I found more interesting was the way in which we discover how Oliver’s individual connection with his mother and father influences his new approach to love. We view the film through Oliver’s eyes and are both painfully and happily whisked through time as his snapshot memories with his parents are delicately unfolded. At times, Mills’ smooth and crisp filmmaking feels more like a melody than a story.

Melanie Laurent and Ewan McGregor in a scene from Beginners (source)

Both McGregor and Plummer give spectacular performances and Mr. Plummer’s much delayed Oscar is nothing but well deserved.

My only issue with the film was its ending. SPOILER ALERT!  While I love how a film that ends with two people bravely choosing to plunge into the deep end and stick together looking at each other with that “So what do we do now?” quasi-cliffhanger evokes an incredibly realistic sense of the unknown that we face daily, this type of ending has been incredibly overused (see the endings of Garden State and 50/50).

Regardless, I highly recommend Beginners and I’d love to know what you think about it.

4.5/5

*I promise that is how I was genuinely taught the typical plot line for writing stories.

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