THE DAY IS HERE!! COUNTDOWN TO THE OSCARS ~ BEST PICTURE

It’s HERE!! The Holy Grail of all Holy Grail’s aka the Superbowl Sunday of Movies – otherwise known as ‘THE OSCARS’. It’s the final day of my Oscar Countdown and I’ve saved the biggest and best for last. This is a very good slate of films, and most of them deserve to be here. And for the last time this year – I give who I think will win – and what my pick would be – as those two choices sometimes differ. And the nominees are:

BEST PICTURE

NOMINEES

BELFAST Possible upset win

Belfast was beautifully film in black and white, with a wonderful cast lead by a young man that should’ve had a Best Actor nom himself, Jude Hill. It’s a story-telling film, and be on the lookout everyone as we all forget sometimes that the Academy loves these kinds of films, as do I. It’s a very big possibility as the upset win – and I won’t be mad at that one at all.

Laura Berwick, Kenneth Branagh, Becca Kovacik and Tamar Thomas, Producers

CODA WINNER/MY PICK

CODA is a one-of-a-kind film. It’s tells so much, it’s got so many layers to it and for the first time in memory, features an almost entire deaf cast that speaking in ASL almost for the entire film. It’s about a father/daughter relationship, about life’s struggles, about the struggles of the disabled, and the story of one girls dreams woven throughout it. Some might see it as weak – I saw it as nothing but beautiful. Again, it’s story-telling at some of it’s finest.

Philippe Rousselet, Fabrice Gianfermi and Patrick Wachsberger, Producers

DON’T LOOK UP

I’ll never understand the hatred for this one – I enjoyed it. It played upon so many real-life things, maybe not always done perfectly, but done so sarcastically and I love wit and sarcasm like this. Will it win, nah, but it was fun.

Adam McKay and Kevin Messick, Producers

DRIVE MY CAR

We’ve had a couple great upsets last year with an International Film sweeping the Awards. Do I think the three-hour runtime might have hurt this one with Oscar voters – maybe. But I loved every minute of it as it was one of the few movies of that length that I had no problem sitting through.

Teruhisa Yamamoto, Producer

DUNE

I know many people have mad love for this one – I am on the ‘like’ side of it. I don’t think it’s going to be the upset or my win. Sorry Dune fans – nothing but love for you all though.

Mary Parent, Denis Villeneuve and Cale Boyter, Producers

KING RICHARD

King Richard is just a heartwarming story – no doubt about it. While it’s not perfect and yes, glosses over a few things but it’s sad that it never found that audience in theaters. For me as a tennis fan, it worked and it has a great ending that got even me emotional.

Tim White, Trevor White and Will Smith, Producers

LICORICE PIZZA

I had such high hopes going into this one – having heard the raving reviews up until that time. They made it extremely hard to see for a long time though, and when I finally did, I was more than just a little bit let down. No one runs from one side of the Valley to the other – no one. It had a few fun moments, but the Asian speaking thing was not funny, and I was surprised at how someone thought it would be.

Sara Murphy, Adam Somner and Paul Thomas Anderson, Producers

NIGHTMARE ALLEY

I can’t begin to explain how much I love Guillermo del Toro. This film was one of my favourite of the year – though I realize others didn’t feel the same, and I saw their points as well. If I could pick two – this would be my second pick.

Guillermo del Toro, J. Miles Dale and Bradley Cooper, Producers

THE POWER OF THE DOG

Again, the hype around TPOTD before it even came out was this one person telling me it was going to be the Best Picture of the Year. After seeing it, while I tend to disagree with that point, that I think they now do as well, it does have something to it. Let’s be clear, I don’t dislike film, it’s just not the end-all, be-all that was hyped to me. And I’m not sure it’s backed up with favorable response from absolutely everyone either. The ending though – that ending wow’d me.

Jane Campion, Tanya Seghatchian, Emile Sherman, Iain Canning and Roger Frappier, Producers

WEST SIDE STORY

West Side Story also won’t win. But I do think it was terrific and I was floored by the dancing, chorography and costumes. It’s not about whether it’s better or worse than the original. It’s about the age old question of should some things be re-made at all? I can’t answer that one – but I do love originality.

Steven Spielberg and Kristie Macosko Krieger, Producers

The last thing I can say is forget about fighting over who wins or who loses. Everyone likes different things, celebrate that instead. And most of all – Enjoy the Oscars!

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DAY 6 ~ COUNTDOWN TO THE OSCARS ~ BEST ACTRESS

Here we are at Day 6 of my “Countdown to the Oscars” ~ probably for me at least, the hardest category to judge this year. The category here is just filled to the brim of fantastic performances and I wish they could all win..well..minus one. ha!
Reminder: I’m giving who I think the winner will be and what would be my pick – because they aren’t always necessarily the same!! And the nominees are:

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

NOMINEES

JESSICA CHASTAINThe Eyes of Tammy Faye WINNER

Jessica Chastain is brilliant here – she encaptures Tammy Faye like no other. While the film as a whole was not great, you can pluck out this performance for the brilliance that it is. Jessica has long deserved this award, let’s see if the Academy thinks so as well.

OLIVIA COLMANThe Lost Daughter

Oliva Colman is such a wonderful actress and has deservedly won this award in the past – this however, is not her finest performance, nor is it truly and Oscar-winning one. I don’t doubt that Olivia will be nominated in this category again in the future though.

PENÉLOPE CRUZParallel Mothers MY PICK

Penelope Cruz is undeniable in this performance. She’s an actress who not only gets better and better with age, but she is undeniably better when directed in her native language and of course, when directed by Pedro Almodóvar. He know how to bring out the best in her as she brings her entire life to this performance. I can’t say I see her winning, but yes, she is hands down my pick.

NICOLE KIDMANBeing the Ricardos

Surprising us all this year was Nicole Kidman pulling off a good Lucille Ball. Something that must have been a daunting task to undertake. While they only focused on one week in her life, Nicole gave that one week her all. I just don’t see her taking it here with the kind of competition she is up against.

KRISTEN STEWARTSpencer

Yes, I know the hype, yes, I know she has a huge fan base. I came into this film hoping Stewart would change my mind as going in a lot of people were raving about it, but I just didn’t love ‘Spencer.’ And she didn’t change my mind. I could list the many reasons, but I won’t, be her fanbase is rabid and they come for you, and I don’t feel like dealing with that. I do hope that sometime in the future she can change my mind and I will leave it at that.  

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REVIEW: “THE LOST CITY” (2022) Paramount Pictures

Coming out in theaters this Friday, the 25th is “THE LOST CITY” with Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum, taking the leads in this comedy of a shut-away romance book author who gets talked into doing a book tour by her agent Da’Vine Joy Randolph. What ensues is complete hilarity for a good first portion of the film.

Loretta Sage (Sandra Bullock), is a successful romance novelist, though she is also grieving the loss of her husband. She reluctantly agrees to do a ‘final’ book tour by her agent Beth (Da’Vine Joy Randolph), as she adds in the books ‘famous’ cover model Adam (Channing Tatum), to the tour much to Beth’s chagrin. As we soon find out, with Loretta and her husbands love of history, she has accidentally wrote in the book on where to find the location of fortune in an ancient burial spot of a notable King and Queen. This brings our villain, Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe), out in full force with his team Rafi (Héctor Aníbal), and Julian (Thomas Forbes Johnson), who kidnap Loretta with the thought being, she can lead them to the site.

The first half of the film comes at you fast and hard, with one-liners and features most spectacularly, our two scene stealers. The first is ex-Navy Seal Jack Trainer (Brad Pitt), who is hired by Beth and her social media assistant, giving us our second scene stealer, Allison (Patti Harrison), that will have you laughing your socks off for the first half of the movie. Albeit, in the second half, the laughs slow down drastically as the film gets a lot more serious with attempts at character arcs and story moments, while not bad, they are ones we’ve seen a many times before. Going into full romance novel mode without as much comedy, the second half falls a little flatter than what it was going with.

Directors Aaron and Adam Nee do the smart move here with giving Bullock and Tatum most of the screen time, as their chemistry is undeniable. As well, Tatum doing full nod to ‘Fabio’ cover-boy in the beginning gives us a hoot of fun. Supporting cast does well to keep the pace and relevance with Brad Pitt, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Patti Harrison and Oscar Nuñez getting their fair share of inclusion in this movie to stay relevant to the plot and relationships of the character. I wasn’t in love with Radcliffe who seems a bit out of place as he goes almost too big in his role as villain, when some subtlety might have played better.

Had they stuck with the formula they were going with, this would be a great comedy instead of just a good one. As is, it’s still a load of fun and brings something new to the box office this weekend where it should do well.

Grade: C+

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Review Screening: Tuesday, March 18, 2022 ~Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

“THE LOST CITY” from Paramount Pictures is in theaters Friday March 25, 2022

DAY 5 ~ COUNTDOWN TO THE OSCARS ~ BEST ACTOR

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Here we are – Day Five of my ‘SEVEN DAYS OF OSCARS’ countdown and we are at ‘Best Actor”. Once again I give who I think will win – and what my pick would be – as those two choices sometimes differ. The only thing I can add here is it is a crying shame that Jude Hill was not nominated in this category as that young man deserved to be here. But alas here we are – Will Smith might just be the winner here as he is so good in “King Richard.” But hot on his heels will be Andrew Garfield.

NOMINEES

JAVIER BARDEMBeing the Ricardos

As much as I love Javier – this isn’t his movie to win this award on.

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCHThe Power of the Dog

I remember a few weeks before this movie came out, one of those ‘know it all’ movie people told me they already knew who was going to win the Oscar and it was going to be Benedict. While I find him a good actor, I never find him able to pull off accents and that was again, my issue here – along with the fact being I never once believed he was a cowboy.

ANDREW GARFIELDtick, tick…BOOM! VERY POSSIBLE WINNER

Andrew is honestly in a tie with Will here – I know many that hope, wish and will lose sleep if he doesn’t. What he does do is manages to make this whole film work, as I honestly didn’t know much about Jonathan Larson before this film. Go for it Andrew – give us an upset.  

WILL SMITHKing Richard WINNER/MY PICK

The minute I saw Will Smith as Richard Williams, I couldn’t believe how he picked up the nuances of the man so well. Being an avid tennis fan for YEARS now, I’ve seen the man be exactly who is was in the film, in person. And they left a lot on the sidewalk as well. Granted Smith should’ve won for Ali – but this, this is his Oscar to win.

DENZEL WASHINGTONThe Tragedy of Macbeth

How do you ignore Denzel in anything? Answer is: you don’t. Though Macbeth in and of itself, is not an exciting play to watch – Denzel does give it his take. I just don’t think it’s going to be enough to walk away with the statue this year.

Thanks all for taking the time to give my countdown a read. Let me know your thoughts on if you agree or disagree with my picks. Don’t forget to give this page a follow or on twitter as well https://twitter.com/pegsatthemovies IG: https://www.instagram.com/peggyatthemovies/

DAY 4 ~ COUNTDOWN TO THE OSCARS ~ “BEST DIRECTOR”

DAY 4 of my “Countdown to the Oscars” and it’s BEST DIRECTOR time. So here we are with my reminder: I’m giving who I think the winner will be and my pick for whom I might like it to be. As it stands, it looks like Jane Campion will win and I don’t think anybody is going to be mad about that. And the nominees are:

NOMINEES

BELFASTKenneth Branagh

Belfast was so beautifully shot by Branagh that it makes me think – okay, yes, then maybe. It was as well a lovely story, but will the Oscars offers any upsets this year?…

DRIVE MY CARRyusuke Hamaguchi

Ah, yes – the underdog for sure here in this race – again, such a beautifully directed film it’s hard not to want a little upset in this category and if not that, at least the hope the Hamaguchi will give us another magical masterpiece soon.

LICORICE PIZZAPaul Thomas Anderson

I gotta give this one a flat no. Paul Thomas Anderson is definitely an acquired taste, and while I’ve loved some of this films, this one he just made one too many faux pauxs for me.

THE POWER OF THE DOGJane Campion WINNER

Jane’s done amazing work over the years. Is it my fave film? No, but I won’t be annoyed as directorial wise it’s done very well.

WEST SIDE STORYSteven Spielberg MY PICK

Honestly, it’s hard not to have a part of me want Spielberg here as he was firing on all cylinders in a visual sense. It was very reminiscent of the young Spielberg and most of all, it was exciting to watch.

Thanks all for taking the time to give this a read. Let me know your thoughts on if you agree or disagree with my picks. Don’t forget to give this page a follow or on twitter as well @pegsatthemovies/IG: peggyatthemovies

Cheers!

SXSW REVIEW: “NOTHING LASTS FOREVER” (2022) Showtime

One of the most fascinating documentaries at SXSW was from director Jason Kohn, who takes on the diamond trade with “NOTHING LASTS FOREVER”. The documentary, takes a good, hard look at the world of diamond cartels and most importantly, of the difference between synthetic and real diamonds. Clue: you won’t know the difference and De Beers Diamond Corp. is of course, involved up to their eyeballs as per usual.

On the one hand, its completely fascinating and shows how diamond companies didn’t just sell a product, they sold an idea of what a diamond is, and what the fairy tale story of getting a diamond is comprised of. On the other hand, it delves deep into the synthetic diamond world with less-than-savoury characters like Martin Rapaport of the Rapaport Diamond group. Rapaport, might just be the true epitome of despicable elitist, as we watch him give a clown-car of a speech of why synthetic diamonds are “boogeyman under the bed”, to an audience of equally elitist people. It’s plainly obvious that anything that comes out of Rapaport’s mouth is said only to protect his financial interests.

Then you have De Beers Diamond EVP for brands and consumer markets, Stephen Lussier, prominently featured in this film. oh De Beers. Being Dutch, you grow up with the idea that De Beers is so good, and so wonderful as many Dutch South Afrikaans, were employed by the company that controlled almost the entire diamond trade from around 1889 thru the early 2000’s. Even in this docu at one point, they paint De Beers as saints that saved Botswana by building schools, highways, giving them medical care etc., but clearing up the idea in it’s own way by cutting to a lion doing some pretty graphic things, essentially letting you know that all that glitters is not real. We now know De Beers essentially used the Botswanian people as slaves to harness and keep the fantasy of a diamond signifying ‘eternal love’, alive. Essentially by telling the ever duped public, the bigger the diamond, the more you’re loved. For anyone who has ever seen “Blood Diamond”, just know that THAT is the more the true story of the diamond world.

Then we have Dusan Simic who simply tells it like it is. Simic is smart gemologist, sort of a madman-type personality, who seems to fall victim of his own creation. He tries desperately to develop technology to differentiate lab-grown diamonds from genuine product. While he lays it all on the line, his technology ideal fully collapses as we see him sadly end up as an Uber driver. While almost tragic to watch, he also ends the film with his new ideal of creating the perfect un-detectable perfect diamond in hand. Who knows if it’s real as we are just left wondering.

Lastly, and probably the most eye-opening and actually quite fun, is Aja Raden. She is woven throughout the film and totally blows the lid off here and is at the heart of Kohn’s diamond rip-off story. With a snarky-ness not usually seen in a documentary of this nature, Raden throws caution to the win and takes down every marketing myth ever created about diamonds. She offers up commentary clearly not the slightest bit concerned with the repercussions on her career it all might have nor her or the diamond industry as a whole, reputation. She is also the only female interviewed here as apparent early on that this is a male dominated industry, which should come as no surprise to anyone. At the end, she formulates probably the best summary of the entire industry: “they, (meaning De Beers) created an illusion so spectacular it turned into truth.” As well, noting “You don’t want people who question things. Those aren’t good consumers.” Facts.

If you’re like me, you stopped believing in the diamond fantasy years ago and seeing something like this let’s you this was the right thing. GIA certified means nothing, one thing is certain from now on, you can’t tell the real thing from a fake any longer. And that difference no longer matters to those making the billions of dollars by not just duping the every-(wo)man here, but the suppressing of billions of diamonds, as well. They are just held in warehouses around the world in order to make you think you are buying into a dream, yet a fake one at that.

Grade: A

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LOOK FOR “NOTHING LAST FOREVER” UPCOMING RELEASE ON SHOWTIME

DAY 3 ~ COUNTDOWN TO THE OSCARS ~ BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Continuing with the Oscar countdown ~ we are moving along to Best Supporting Actress – and it’s a category full of talent. Who do I think will win – and what my pick would be – as those two choices sometimes differ. 

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

NOMINEES

JESSIE BUCKLEYThe Lost Daughter

Jessie shines here and even though it’s a bit of a slow, almost Lifetime paced film, you can’t deny her performance comes through.

ARIANA DEBOSEWest Side Story MY PICK/WINNER

Her-story can be made here and yes, yes, YES it should be. There isn’t much else to be said as this performance rivals only it’s original.

JUDI DENCHBelfast

Judi Dench, like her counter-part Ciaran, never disappoints and this role is so tailor-made for her as she sews her way into our hearts once again.

KIRSTEN DUNSTThe Power of the Dog

Kirsten played the sadness of this role so well, but it’s just again, a case of possibly me not loving this film entirely as much as others that I don’t see it happening.

AUNJANUE ELLISKing Richard

The nomination for Ms. Ellis is long overdue here and while the category might have a sealed winner and not just in my mind, I am hoping this is just the beginning of recognizing her for more of these.

DAY 2 ~ COUNTDOWN TO THE OSCARS ~ “BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR”

Day 2 of the countdown ~ And remember, this is a category known for going to the most random of choices, except this year I think we have a ‘given’
Reminder: I’m giving who I think the winner will be and what would be my pick. And the nominees are:

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

NOMINEES

CIARÁN HINDS – Belfast

Ciaran Hinds is just one of those actors – the kind that holds the screen with everything he does – and he’s always wonderful at it. No less so in Belfast here – he was wonderful.

TROY KOTSUR – CODA WINNER/MY PICK

What can you say about Troy Kotsur that hasn’t already been said? Nothing, that’s what. It’s not just a spectacular performance – it’s also that he’s just so darn nice and the pure joy and seeing him win awards makes your entire day.

JESSE PLEMONS – The Power of the Dog

When The Power of the Dog first came out and people were over looking the brilliance of Jesse’s performance, I was right there calling it out for what it was – wonderful. The understated brilliance of it is exactly what makes. Plemmons most definitely deserves to be here.

J.K. SIMMONS – Being the Ricardos

You’d be hard pressed to find a bad J.K. Simmons performance – and there is a reason for that. He gives it his all every time.

KODI SMIT-MCPHEE – The Power of the Dog

While I might not love The Power of the Dog as a whole, I do like it, and the reason I liked it a lot was because of this guy right here: Kodi Smit-McPhee. He was incredible, subtly making you think one thing of his character, all the while making you pay attention to what he was really doing. The ending scene sealed the deal for me – you can’t be mad if wins this one.

SXSW REVIEW: “THE COW” (2022)

Winona Ryder is truly at some of her best here in Eli Horowitz’s “THE COW“. Along with Dermot Mulroney in this rather fun “genetic” little mystery thriller, that twists along to an ending you’d never quite think of. While it’s not without it’s problems, it is still just simple fun.

With a film title has nothing to do with the animal it’s named after, the story follows Kath (Winona Ryder), and her boyfriend Max (John Gallagher Jr.), as they arrive at a remote cabin in the redwoods and mysteriously discover it already occupied by a younger couple, one Greta (Brianne Tju) and one Al (Owen Teague). The question of why is answered quickly as it’s clear the rental has already been double-booked, so neither couple has anywhere else to go, with Kath and Max being quickly invited to stay ‘just one night’.

And the mystery only deepens when she wakes up to find out Max just up and disappeared with Greta, and a broken up Al is the one to tell her the next day. Kath goes home, but randomly becomes obsessed with getting to the bottom of their sudden breakup – but will learning the truth be worse than she could ever imagine? Yes, yes it can. See what we end up finding out is the ever so important backstory. Kath is older than Max, by 10 to 15 years, as well, Kath is insecure about herself, and being in a relationship with a younger man has made her even more doubtful of her attractiveness, as we see her examining the wrinkles on her face.  On the other hand, Max isn’t very mature for his age, doesn’t even do the most basic of things like drive, and seems to be out of place at a dinner party with Kath’s friends. Turns out, the trip to the woods was an attempt by Max to keep Kath showing her he CAN be the guy for her, and for Kath to keep Max, showing him that she can be adventurous. Which speaks volumes about what is to happen later as she ends up meeting Nicholas (Dermot Mulroney), the man who actually owns the cabin, on her attempt to find out who Greta really is. While similar in age, and while he might be somewhat of a recluse, Nicholas clearly also has his life together, although as we soon find out, not in exactly the way we thought he did. 

While the film continues on with twists and turns, not all of them come off as one is not sure if this film is every going to go horror on them, or continue on the path it seems to be heading of everything relying on that one fateful night. Honestly, all the credit here goes to Ryder for pulling the bizarre middle and ending twist off, as without her, Tju and Teague, making those twists from left field that keep you engaged in this mystery ride along with Kath wouldn’t be anywhere near as enjoyable. That they can keep you on your toes guessing, even questioning her end-result intentions till the very last moment, is the point of all of it. Without them, this would not be the clever thriller that it is – even with it’s faults on display – they help pull it off.

Having just been picked up by Vertical Entertainment, the film is set to release later this year. Don’t miss it.

Grade: C+

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COUNTDOWN: 7 DAYS OF OSCAR ~ DAY 1 ~

Well here we are! For the first time in a few years, I’m bringing back the “SEVEN DAYS OF OSCARS”. You know that magical time of year where once again, I give a countdown of my top Oscar categories- who I think will win – and what my pick would be – as those two choices sometimes differ. This year I’m starting off gently “Best International Film” or as they used to call it “Best Foreign Language Feature” – and the nominees are:

INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM

NOMINEES

DRIVE MY CAR – Japan – My pick / WINNER

Hands down probably some of the best three hours of filmmaking I’ve watched in a long time, and I’m not usually someone who is good with films being that long – with the credits rolling in at around the hour mark – you’re not sure why it’s happening – but it’s okay as you’ve got two more glorious hours to watch this masterpiece of filmmaking and acting.

FLEE – Denmark

Flee was different and Flee was animated. Those are two things that can be said about this film and being honest, it was a hard watch as sometimes you equate animation with a film more of the light, Disney style. Not a hardcore story of one man’s fight for freedom along with his families plight. It definitely wasn’t a ‘light’ film.

THE HAND OF GOD – Italy

Interesting plot here – adding in one of favourite sports to the mix made it interesting, was a bit heavy handed on the religious points for me.

LUNANA: A YAK IN THE CLASSROOM – Bhutan

Sadly, I never had a chance to view this one so it’s hard for me to rate it at all – I wasn’t able to find it playing anywhere here and by the time it came to VOD – I had forgotten until now.

THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD – Norway

This was definitely an entertaining watch and I loved the lead performances, and while I know it’s the favourite of many, it doesn’t strike me as the winner.

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