OSCAR COUNTDOWN: BEST PICTURE

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It’s HERE!!! Superbowl Sunday..of Movies that is!! #whoooohooooo And we are at the end.. the most anticipated category there is. Eight Nominees..everyone has a favourite..which is mine??!! Well read on here..read on.. and let us all enjoy the show and hope that there are a few fun upsets and that everyone has a fav. or two that wins something! Cheers!!
(Drum roll please)

BEST PICTURE:

Whiplash
Jason Blum, David Lancaster, Helen Estabrook

How to even describe this movie except that I loved it..then I saw it a second time and I loved it even more!! If there is a upset of the evening, this would be the one I would want.

American Sniper
Bradley Cooper, Clint Eastwood, Peter Morgan

I liked this movie.. it’s not my favourite but good performances especially by Bradley Cooper, make it better. Though a it’s become a politically charged film, it’s still a good movie.

Birdman
Alejandro González Iñárritu, John Lesher, James W. Skotchdopole

I remember the first time out of the three times I saw this movie..and walking out thinking “THAT was fucking brilliant” I still think it is and it’s just a mind-boggling fantastic film full of imagination and a story within a story that I just simply loved.

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven M. Rales

This was such a fun movie. I remember noting in my review that come Oscar time, it might be nominated even though it was so early in the year to predict that.. I was right. It might not be my pick, but it’s definitely a movie to be seen.

best picture

The Imitation Game
Teddy Schwarzman, Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky

The only movie to make me cry..both times I saw it. It was just such a heart-wrenching story for me and the fact that my family was in the war and had it not been for Alan Turing, I might not even be here. Also, the whole prosecuting such a brave, brilliant man for being gay, just broke me.

Selma
Oprah Winfrey, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner

While a strong film, it was almost like a bio of MLK and while I really loved some of the performances, I think the timing of it’s release coinciding with the racially charged political climate that was/is going on, made it more relevant as when it was first screened it wasn’t scoring very high. It definitely deserves to be here, just not to win.

The Theory of Everything
Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Anthony McCarten

There are times this film moves slowly and if not for the amazing story of what this man has accomplished in his life and how he’s beaten the odds ten-fold, plus it’s also a story of how strong a person his wife had to be to stand by his side throughout, and lest we not forget the brilliant performances..well..it might not be what it is.

Boyhood
Richard Linklater, Cathleen Sutherland

This is my least favourite film of the bunch. I saw it waaay back before all the hype, and while I think the idea of it brilliant, the film itself is an average story of a boy growing up. I think so many have fallen in love with the idea of it, rather than noting it’s really just that..an average film with a brilliant idea behind it.

My Pick: Birdman (with an outside secret hope for a “Whiplash” upset 🙂 )
Will Win: Birdman
Possible Win: Boyhood

OSCAR COUNTDOWN: BEST ACTOR

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We’re coming to the end of my Countdown to the Oscars…

BEST ACTOR:
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Michael Keaton
“Birdman”
From the first time I saw this movie to the third time I saw this movie..I loved Keaton’s performance wholeheartedly. And yes, I love a comeback and this was a damn good one and yep..he’s my pick.

Eddie Redmayne
“The Theory of Everything”
Eddie Redmayne’s performance in this film is what awards are made for. Enough said. I won’t be mad if he wins and honestly, I think he just might pull it off..

Benedict Cumberbatch
“The Imitation Game”
I’m a fan of Cumberbatch’s for some time now. Before Sherlock even he did some fantastic work..anyone ever see him & Tom Hardy in Stuart: A Life Backwards??!! Wonderful film and the message he brought forth about Alan Turing needed to be told.. is it enough to win..no I don’t think it is.
best actor

Bradley Cooper
“American Sniper”
Whomever says Bradley Cooper can’t act really needs to see this film. He really embodies this role but I’m guessing political controversy will make it so he is not taking home a little golden man this year.. Though I think it will happen eventually in another role.

Steve Carell
“Foxcatcher”
Was Steve Carell so creepy good in this film? yes he was.. Did he play so against type you wondered at times if it was really him? yes you did. Will he win.. probably not.

My Pick: Michael Keaton
Will Win: Eddie Redmayne
Possible Win: it’s anyone’s guess at this time.

OSCAR COUNTDOWN: BEST ACTRESS

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Carrying on with the Countdown to Oscar Sunday…

BEST ACTRESS

Felicity Jones
“The Theory of Everything”
I really liked Felicity’s performance here. She brought the strength of what it was to go the distance in this type of relationship.

Marion Cotillard
“Two Days, One Night”
I did not really like this movie at all nor did I think was such a great performance. Not her best by far and not sure how she slipped in here when there were others that for me, did much better.

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Reese Witherspoon
“Wild”
Was not WOWED by this performance in the least, nor by the story. Both were very averagely done. Reese deserved her last Oscar win. This one doesn’t do it for me.

Julianne Moore
“Still Alice”
While the movie was an just average, Moore’s performance is quite stunning.

Rosamund Pike
“Gone Girl”
While previously not a huge Rosamund Pike fan, she did bring it to this film. But then she also did Hector and the Search for Happiness this year and it was awful and reminded me of why I wasn’t her biggest fan.

best actress

My Pick: Julianne Moore
Will Win: Julianne Moore
Possible Win: Rosamund Pike

OSCAR COUNTDOWN: BEST DIRECTOR

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Another day ~ Another Oscar countdown category

BEST DIRECTOR:

Morten Tyldum
“The Imitation Game”
While I loved this movie and it’s in my top 3 of the year, Morten is just not my pick this time around.

Bennett Miller
“Foxcatcher”
Having seen this with Bennett & Steve Carell at a Q & A and Bennett just was well..not the most pleasant of people I’ve ever met.. and the film had good performances but wasn’t great. Not my pick.
best director
Alejandro González Iñárritu
“Birdman”
From the 1st time I saw this film, to the 3rd time I saw it with Keaton & Inarritu doing the Q & A, I’ve loved it. Just a brilliant, brilliant film.

Richard Linklater
“Boyhood”
An average movie with a brilliant idea behind it – which is what I think people are mixing together. And I’m a Linklater fan and again, the idea was his and it’s good..I just wish the film was better.

Wes Anderson
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
When I first saw this was back at the beginning of 2014, I loved it. Still do.. I won’t be mad if Wes wins this.

My Pick: Alejandro Inarritu
Will Win: Alejandro Inarritu
Possible Win: Wes Anderson

COUNTDOWN TO THE OSCARS ~ BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR/ACTRESS

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Continuing with the Oscar countdown ~ we are moving along to Best Supporting Actor/Actress.

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BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:

Mark Ruffalo
“Foxcatcher”
One of my least favourite performances in this category

Edward Norton
“Birdman”
i won’t be mad if Norton wins this.. not in the slightest as this was my favourite performance and I would’ve called Norton the winner…until…

J.K. Simmons
“Whiplash”
Until..I saw this performance of Simmons. Long been a favourite of mine since the HBO series “OZ” – he blew us all away with this..

Robert Duvall
“The Judge”
How do you not like Duvall.. he’s truly an acting icon.

Ethan Hawke
“Boyhood”
Love Ethan.. not my fav. movie or performance.

My Pick: J.K. Simmons
Will Win: J.K. Simmons
Possible Win: Edward Norton

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BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
I will be upfront here.. none of these performances WOWED me. Jessica Chastain for ‘A Most Violent Year’ was whom I would’ve picked, but yeah..not nominated. So if I have to pick…

Emma Stone
“Birdman”
It’s not Emma for me.

Patricia Arquette
“Boyhood”
Truly not Patricia for me either though she’s been sweeping everything and walking up with her lengthy piece of tacky paper to read off of letting everyone know she knew she was winning.

Meryl Streep
“Into the Woods”
Love Meryl.. but I do think they ran short of people and put her in because she IS Meryl Streep.

Laura Dern
“Wild”
I didn’t love this movie.. but Dern moved me some with her performance here, she was definitely the best part of this movie.

Keira Knightley
“The Imitation Game”
While Knightley didn’t annoy the complete bejesus out of me this go round.. she usually does and she did Laggies & Begin Again, both awful films that she should just be punished for that and all the others.

My Pick: Laura Dern
Will Win: Patricia Arquette
Possible Win: Emma Stone

OSCAR PICKS COUNTDOWN! ~ BEST DOCUMENTARY/BEST FOREIGN FILM

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Note: I owe a debt of gratitude here to a high school friend, Michelle Iansiti, whose dad always insisted on seeing all the nominated movies and is the person who instilled this in me to do this and I have almost every year since. I saw Mr. Iansiti a few years back after many many years..and thanked him for this. 🙂
Usually I do a countdown each year starting about 5 days before “Oscar Sunday” aka “My Superbowl of Movies Sunday” and I basically stick with the top categories; Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Picture. I’m adding 2 categories this year as I did see almost all of them for Best Foreign Film & Best Documentary, and starting early since I will be gone later this week and unable to post – I’m setting up timed postings and will be hoping they work!! My listing will be what’s nominated in the category, my pick of whom I’d like to win, and what probably will win – which are not always one and the same ~ and a possible winner.
So let’s get started!!!

87th Oscar Awards 2015 Best Documentary Feature - Nominations
BEST DOCUMENTARY:

“Virunga”
Orlando von Einsiedel, Joanna Natasegara
Strong contender for the win. I loved this doc. It was well filmed and well done.

“Citizenfour”
Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy, Dirk Wilutzky
My least favourite documentary of the list. Couldn’t stand Edward Snowden as I got the feeling he did this as he thought he was going to be a celebrity of sorts and be famous for all the wrong reasons. Clearly it didn’t work out so well for you did it Eddie.

“Last Days in Vietnam”
Rory Kennedy, Keven McAlester
This was an interesting watch of the end days of this horrible war. Not my choice for winner but still a good film.

“The Salt of the Earth”
Wim Wenders, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, David Rosier
Did not see this one.

“Finding Vivian Maier”
John Maloof, Charlie Siskel
LOVED this doc. You almost just can’t believe what an amazing eye this woman had who never showed her work to anyone. Her photography is stunning and somehow I think it was meant to be that it was found and is being shown.

My Pick: Finding Vivian Maier
Will Win: Citizenfour
Possible Win: Virunga

87th Oscar Awards 2015 Best Foreign Language Film - Nominations
BEST FOREIGN FILM:
Why is it that it’s almost a requirement for all foreign films to be depressing..I’ve always wondered this as so few aren’t. That being said, my favourite Foreign Film of the year, “Force Majeure” didn’t get nominated though it was expected to.. With that being said…

“Timbuktu”
Abderrahmane Sissako
Interesting and well filmed. Liked it..didn’t love it.

“Wild Tales”
Damián Szifrón
Didn’t see this one.

“Tangerines”
Zaza Urushadze
Good human nature story.. liked this one.

“Ida”
Paweł Pawlikowski
Such a completely different story and I’m not religious in the slightest but it left a lasting impression on me.

“Leviathan”
Andrey Zvyagintsev
Visually, I thought this film was great.. But an odd odd story-line at points.

My Pick: Ida
Will Win: Leviathan
Possible Win: Timbuktu

Review: “STILL ALICE” & “MR. TURNER”

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Putting up two films here in one review as it’s been a month or so since I’ve seen the films and as they are both average films wrapped in fantastic lead performances, I can sum them up rather quickly.

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Starting with Still Alice, Julianne Moore plays “Alice Howland” a happily married linguistics professor who suddenly notices while on a run through the UCLA campus while on a trip to LA where during a lecture she was giving, that she is completely lost, can’t remember why she is there and that is just the beginning of when she realizes she is forgetting words, details, appointments etc. As she goes to get a checkup, as she is still young at age 50, for what could be happening to her, she gets the devastating diagnosis of early onset Alsheimers disease. It’s here that Moore’s performance goes into high gear. Along with her husband, “John” (Alec Baldwin) a neurologist, and three grown children, “Anna” (Kate Bosworth), the married one of the bunch who is trying through invitro, to have a child, “Tom” (Hunter Parrish) who is following in his parents footsteps and in medical school, and lastly the black sheep so to speak of the bunch “Lydia” (Kristen Stewart) who is trying to be an actress (note: Kristen Stewart is trying to be an actress here-if only this was real life *insert sarcasm*) still alice 2

Moore brings the fear, stress and the struggle of a what a woman whose mind is going away too fast especially considering who she was..as her neuroligists says to her at one point that someone who was so actively intelligent as she was, the mind can go even faster. To quote her own words: “I’m learning the art of losing everyday. We become ridiculous, incapable, comic – but this is not us, this is the disease”. The film is moving in the fact that it’s impossible to stay indifferent in face of Alzheimer’s, what it lacks though is that you don’t really develop any particular feelings for Alice or her family, and feel a bit detached from any of them. They don’t explore tears factor here, which is fine because we do understand where it is heading well enough, and though competently done, the film lacks the huge emotional impact to really involve us.

Grade: C – for the film itself; B+ for Moore’s performance

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Moving on here to “Mr. Turner” starring Timothy Spall as “J.M.W.Turner” the eccentric, but brilliant painter of the Romanticist era of the 18th/19th Century known mostly for his landscapes and being the “painter of light”
The film starts and focuses on the last quarter century of Turner’s life where we see him being extremely close to his father, “William Turner” (Paul Jesson) and a very odd relationship with their housemaid “Hannah Danby” (Dorothy Atkinson) who has a skin condition that goes from bad to just plain awful during the film. We also take note that Turner really doesn’t have many friends, he suffers from bouts of major depression (something his mother was institutionalized for) and while it doesn’t really show if he was actually married or not, a few times during the film we see “Sarah Danby” (Ruth Sheen) & her two daughters “Evelina” (Sandy Foster) & “Georgiana” (Amy Dawson) visit, make demands of him and make as though they are his daughters though he treats them all rather deplorably.

As we go through the years we see Turner go into the relationship with “Sophia Bush” (Marion Bailey), after her second husband passes, though she seemly doesn’t know who he is for the first few years that he comes to stay at her bed & breakfast spot every summer as ‘Mr. Booth’ and this is how he lives for the next 15+ years until his death. mr turner 2

As I have liked some of Mike Leigh’s films over the years, visually I can say this movie is truly beautiful as we are treated to viewing creation of some of Turner’s best work. Though the film moves slowly, the performance by Spall is quite something to speak of especially after learning that he spent two years being taught how to paint like Turner so as it make the artistry even more realistic. Though at times all the grunting and groaning as his everyday responses to things reminded me of a Women’s tennis match as I’m not someone who can stomach those noises well and let’s just say, I had to set my popcorn down, it still is quite a feat in itself to have done all this.

Grade: C once again for the film..a B for the performance of Timothy Spall.

@pegsatthemovies

(See grading scale)