Friday, November 21, 2014

Academy Awards 2015 Predictions - Boyhood, Birdman, Selma and more


Awards race or better known as "Oscars race because everything leads to that big night"... has built up to a big blob of uncertainty. It is rare to have so much speculation and so little firm opinion on which film is likely to rule the Oscars night. Of course, such buzz is usually made or break once the Critics starts announcing their picks from the very first day of December but usually you have one or two films from the festivals having enough reviews and buzz to be considered your so-called 'frontrunners'. It is a good thing though, us bloggers and awards freaks are kept in this constant head-scratching mode. Personally I like to keep a big distance between "Oscars films" and "Worthy films" but these days, people often mistake the two being directly related to each other. The point being that movies that suddenly doesn't seem to have a chance at Oscars are sidelined even from general viewing or personal consideration point of view which is sad because that is where you actually find great stuff. The biggest examples right now seems to be Inherent Vice, A Most Violent Year (unless Academy finally goes all out for Chandor) and hundreds of indie films.

Talking about my predictions, I have compiled a list of most likely nominations with no emphasis on their winning chances. Boyhood, Birdman, The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything, Foxcatcher, Gone Girl and maybe Whiplash are considered for best picture nominations. Ava DuVernay's MLK biopic premiered at AFI fest to extremely positive response meaning it could may as well go all the way. "Selma" is directed by a woman who has been a supporter of independent filmmaking and promotion of filmmakers and content specially for and from the African-American community. This is her first film to be in so much mainstream focus and guessing from the supreme response, a great high point of the year. Not only DuVernay but there is another female filmmaker hoping to get some Academy love. Angelina Jolie's directed feature "Unbroken" has been in the talks way before anybody started predicting this year's Oscars. Jolie's star power apparently doesn't need a festival or critics screening launch. Nobody has seen it but everybody is predicting it to win. I was as well back in September. Jolie isn't the only reason, the film looks and sounds like something Academy will root for. The involvement of Coens and Deakins further cements that thought. Jolie has been passionate about the project and the real life figure (who recently died) that inspired it all. Well, we will have to wait and watch.

BEST PICTURE:-


I can be wrong about Interstellar but it ain't getting in, at least at the moment. What will I do to see some A Most Violent Year, Mr. Turner and Inherent Vice in the list? Oh and I am not very confident about Into the Woods or American Sniper so, that's that.

1. Boyhood
2. Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
3. Selma
4. The Imitation Game
5. The Theory of Everything
6. Unbroken
7. Foxcatcher
8. Gone Girl
9. Whiplash

Friday, November 14, 2014

Review: STORIES WE TELL (2013)


Cast:
            Rebecca Jenkins, Claire Walker, Alex Hatz, Michael Polley, Harry Gulkin, Susy Buchan, John Buchan, Mark Polley, Joanna Polley, Cathy Gulkin, Marie Murphy, Robert MacMillan, Anne Tait, Deirdre Bowen, Victoria Mitchell, Mort Ransen, Geoffrey Bowes, Tom Butler, Pixie Bigelow and Peter Evans

Director:
                    Sarah Polley

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Review: THE SPECTACULAR NOW (2013)


Cast:
            Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, Brie Larson, Dayo Okeniyi, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kyle Chandler, Andre Royo, Bob Odenkirk, Kaitlyn Dever, Masam Holden, Gary Weeks, Whitney Goin and Nicci Faires

Director:
                    James Ponsoldt

Monday, October 27, 2014

Quick Takes: Mother of George - This Is the End - Trance


MOTHER OF GEORGE (2013)

Cast:
            Isaach de Bankolé, Danai Gurira, Bukky Ajayi, Tony Okungbowa and Gideon Okeke

Director:
                    Andrew Dosunmu

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Review: MUD (2013)


Cast:
            Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland, Reese Witherspoon, Sam Shepard, Ray McKinnon, Sarah Paulson, Michael Shannon, Joe Don Baker, Sadie Antonio, Paul Sparks, Stuart Greer, Bonnie Sturdivant, John Ward Jr., Kristy Barrington, Johnny Cheek, Kenneth Hill and Michael Abbott, Jr.

Director:
                    Jeff Nichols

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Gotham Independent Film Awards Nominations 2014


The nominations for the 24th annual Gotham Independent Film Awards were announced earlier today thus kicking off the awards season officially. October and November are relatively quieter months as far as awards goes while December turns into a headache with critics announcing their winners from all directions.

The highly acclaimed Boyhood and Birdman along with Under the Skin, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Love Is Strange got nominated for best picture. I am specially happy for the latter three films which should get more attention then what you and I expect them to latter on this year. In the acting nominees we have Ethan Hawke, Michael Keaton, Julianne Moore, Patricia Arquette and more. Another nominee I am so delightful to spot is Mia Wasikowska for "Tracks". The jury will also award a special ensemble prize to the three male stars from "Foxcatcher".

Below is the full list of the nominees:

Best Feature:

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Love Is Strange
Under the Skin

Monday, October 20, 2014

Review: THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (2014)


Cast:
            Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Saoirse Ronan, Edward Norton, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric, Jude Law, Harvey Keitel, Bill Murray, Léa Seydoux, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson, Owen Wilson and Bob Balaban

Director:
                    Wes Anderson

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Review: SIDE EFFECTS (2013)


Cast:
            Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Channing Tatum, Vinessa Shaw, Ann Dowd, Polly Draper, David Costabile and Mamie Gummer

Director:
                    Steven Soderbergh

Friday, October 17, 2014

My Second Attempt At Predicting The Academy Awards 2015 Nominations


I am back with my second round of Oscars 2015 nominations prediction.

2014 awards race unlike last year hasn't resulted in the so-called 'frontrunners' yet. Nothing of "Gravity", "12 Years a Slave" or Cate Blanchett level at least. The most predicted films are the ones that got out of Cannes or Venice, mainly "Birdman" and "Foxcatcher". Then you have titles like "Boyhood", "Whiplash" and "The Grand Budapest Hotel" from earlier this year that are being highly mentioned. They have all been mostly loved by critics with only Boyhood and the Wes Anderson film having strong audience support as well. Of course joining the both critics/audience-loved list is David Fincher's "Gone Girl", an adaptation of the novel by the writer Gillian Flynn herself. There is still much time left for critics to share their top 10 lists and then kick of the awards month. They might not have a significant impact as far as Oscars goes but there is always going to be something in common, they are the first of course, precursors. Never completely ignore the power of critics or 'buzz' in general specially now in the Twitter age. Nothing is certain as of now, no frontrunners but many predicted nominees. You also have some titles with their particular subject matters that the Academy usually loves. Films like "The Imitation Game" (TIFF winner, Weinstein, enough said!), "The Theory of Everything", "Wild" etc. Then there are many highlighted films which are yet to be seen by the audience or critics for that matter. Christopher Nolan's ambitious sci-fi "Interstellar" as well as Angelina Jolie's much hyped WWII film "Unbroken". Another female filmmaker who just might make some kind of splash is Ava DuVernay with "Selma". Some other films like "Into the Woods", "Big Eyes", "A Most Violent Year", "American Sniper" are to watch out for.

From the recent NYFF, the most talked about and the most anticipated film was Paul Thomas Anderson's "Inherent Vice". The reception it got was all over the place, even more so than The Master. The film seems to be acquired madness, I don't think Academy will fully embrace it. About to be released is David Ayer's "Fury" which is getting mixed to good reviews and the supporting cast is being highlighted above all. I don't like the notion of 'Oscar movies' which is thrown at films that supposedly sound or are perceived as films worthy of the awards. As if there is a set standard of any kind. Academy as often predictable that it is, sometimes baffles with their acceptance. It all depends on the votes, not the numbers of votes but the number 1 votes. You never know... is this the year of American independent cinema? Small epics or big epics? Narrative ambitions or technical ones? Significant biographies or simple human accounts? We have still some time to figure that out but at the moment, it is nice that the buzz seems to be going in all directions without fixating on a particular film or star.

What I have done is that for some of the prominent categories like picture, director, acting and screenplay, the nominees have been divided into three sections. My main predictions featuring nominees which I am confident on, secondly the films which haven't yet been seen by critics or audiences and finally contenders which have a chance at breaking in. All of the nominees are ranked based on their best chances for a nomination, not win. I have kept things to a minimum. 

BEST PICTURE:-

1. Boyhood
2. Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
3. The Imitation Game
4. Foxcatcher
5. Gone Girl
6. The Theory of Everything

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Review: THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES (2013)



Cast:
            Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Ray Liotta, Ben Mendelsohn, Rose Byrne, Mahershala, Bruce Greenwood, Harris Yulin, Dane DeHaan, Emory Cohen, Robert Clohessy and Olga Merediz

Director:
                    Derek Cianfrance