Oscar Season 2015
It's Oscar season!!! I'm catching up on the potential nominees, and since people ask me every year, here’s what I think… (Post will update with mini-reviews as I watch them and when official nominations are announced.)
Trumbo - Bryan Cranston continues to be one of the best actors of our time. He’s a strong candidate for Best Actor with this and I really loved the whole movie in general. Some really seamless editing tricks too. Fun stuff. And I’m always impressed when a historical movie keeps it entertaining and doesn’t just drown you with information amongst a long runtime. This moves along nicely and I’d recommend it to anyone. Oh and John Goodman. Need I mention more than just his name? No, no I don’t. Check it out.
Room - Incredibly impactful film. First off, I knew almost nothing about this going into it, in fact, I thought it was a sci-fi thing about a culture that never left one room their whole lives. Wrong. Dead wrong. Wow. So after the shock of what was actually transpiring on the screen, I was swept away by magnificent performances by the child and mother in this story. Flawless performances if you ask me. Best picture winner? Probably deserves it most. Prepare yourself for an settling ride.
The Danish Girl - Well apparently I’m in love with Alicia Vikander. So much so I could barely concentrate on anything else when watching this. I was just enthralled and giddy anytime she was on screen, which was thankfully often. Give her an Oscar now! But yes, everything else seemed good too. He’s a strong Oscar contender again also.
Bridge of Spies - A pretty standard Spielberg film. It was solid all around. Entertaining, well acted, directed. But still left me feeling like it was just a little too safe and in Spielberg’s autopilot comfort zone. That being said, I’d re-stress, it’s a great movie still. Just what you would expect at the least from him and Hanks at this point. So I don’t know if I’d say it should win any awards. But sure a bunch of nominations would be justified.
Carol - Being close to the end of my Oscar season viewing, perhaps I’m just burnt out on these old time stories showing how hard it was for certain people in certain times, but I was just kind of bored. The acting was flawless, but with little peaks and valleys. It just kind of puttered along and didn’t offer much of anything I hadn’t known or pondered before. I was only really interested after the 1hr mark. Meh. At least it had some real touching moments here and there.
45 Years - This story was interesting because I can't decide if it was beautiful or tragic. I can see it both ways. Kind of slow moving but worth watching this older couple. It centers more on the wife and she really does some serious acting but the husband pull Los his weight too. Very real feeling. Also some great choices in both the directing and editing.
Spotlight - Mark Ruffalo and Michael Keaton give solid performances. Ruffalo probably a strong contender for lead actor. Ensemble cast really. Everything about this movie is solid actually. Could win a writing award. The content is pretty disturbing knowing it's real though. Be prepared to be a bit disgusted in humanity.
The Revenant - Wow. Holy shit. Now this is a movie. Every five to ten minutes had my jaw drop seeing one incredible thing after another. Such an intense ride. And the bear scene was out of control. Top potential for best pic, director, lead actor (go Leo) and a strong nom for supporting actor from a real villainous dick by Tom Hardy.
I Smile Back - Well this film was extremely hard to watch. Not because it's bad, but because it plays very real. Sarah Silverman gave an incredible performance as a wife and mother with severe depression and all the other common problems that go with it. I would hope she gets a leading actress nom but something tells me this film may get looked over, sadly.
Joy - I expect a certain level of depth in a David O Russell film. This one left me a little underwhelmed. Don't get me wrong, Jennifer Lawrence nailed this role and had great depth (obviously) but the script just seemed a bit simpler than previous ventures. It was good. Real good even. Just not any of the people involved's best.
Concussion - Great movie. Sad to know this happened this way though. I thought only sports fans would care about this one, but it's really not about that. It'll reach any audience. Strong tension with a well known corporation and fantastic dialogue. Will Smith with a great accent for a lead nomination, Alec Baldwin supporting nom. Possible best picture nom.
The Peanuts Movie - The Charlie Brown movie I'd always wanted to see. Loved it! It was a perfect addition/update to the Peanuts legacy. The tone and writing of the jokes matched the old vibe spot on. I don't see it winning any awards but it's hard to deny it's a great kids movie that entertains the adults too. Any Peanuts fan should enjoy it and kids just being introduced I imagine will welcome it with open arms.
Anomalisa - I'm a huge fan of stop motion animation and an even huger fan of Charlie Kaufman's writing. That being said, this had my attention and held me through a lot of the movie where if it were live actors or someone else's script, I'd probably have jumped ship. It's worth seeing once because it's pretty interesting to watch and delves into mental illness quite heavily. But it's not something I'd rewatch. But still I applaud their efforts. It was ballsy filmmaking. Just not sure how much it paid off this time. Will probably be nominated for a writing award though due to the real slice of life aspect.
Brooklyn - An ambitious Hallmark movie at best. The lead character was utterly annoying and somehow she found a guy that was puppy dog in love with her. He was enjoyable to watch, but that was lost in a sea of over and under acting. Kinda surprised this is being considered for anything. I’m a sucker for a good love story too. Verdict: Pass
The Hateful Eight - Tarantino's 8th film and I think it's my 4th favorite of his. More of a Reservoir Dogs feel than Inglorious Bastards. Much like a stage play. Noms for directing and writing. Possibly supporting actress.
Steve Jobs - Beautifully shot and acted. Doesn't compete with other Jobs biopics, more of a finely focused addition to the bunch. Writing was great of course, but not his best. Doubt it will win anything but for sure a number of nominations. Kate Winslet may rise to the top if anything.
The Big Short - Mind numbing (but in a stimulating way) information mixed with strong performances by an all-star cast leaves you with a pit in your stomach and in awe that all really happened (and to some degree still is) with the banking systems. It’s a strong contender for a lot of categories.
Creed - So far my favorite movie of the year. This sucker's got heart. Rocky sized heart. Great writing, directing and Sly and Jordan give top notch performances. You don’t even need to be a Rocky fan. Nominations should be in at least 5 categories here. (However I have a sneaking feeling the Academy may snub this flick. Hopefully not and they stay friendly with the franchise)
Star Wars The Force Awakens - I'd be shocked if a Star Wars fan doesn't rank this as the second or third best of the franchise. Even non fans should be able to enjoy this. It's got everything you want in a space opera. The force is strong with this one. Perhaps a director nom for JJ?
The Martian - If I'm still entertained by movies about bringing Matt Damon's character's back home, it must be good. Not sure it will do much at the Oscars as far as wins but it's a really enjoyable flick none the less. Sort of has a Castaway feel.
Sicario - Not sure how well this one will do. Either real well or will be snubbed all together. I liked certain aspects of the character arcs a lot. Performances were strong. But all in all, just a decent movie with some surprises.
The Good Dinosaur - Fun, really cute. Not Pixar quality. Won't win.
Straight Outta Compton - Nominations for best picture, writing, and a slew of acting. Loved this movie. One of the year's best.
Inside Out - Pixar does it again. Loved it. Lots of heart and now also brains! Good message for kids and even adults to learn here. Will win. Maybe even nominated in best picture (not animated)
Jurassic World - C’mon it's JP. Won’t win anything. Probably not even a nom other than some technical categories but it was super fun. Case closed.
Mad Max Fury Road - Tom Hardy kills it in this over the top eye candy action flick. As out there as it is, it may get some heavy praise with the Academy. A hard core movie.
Amy - Really depressing but a great doc with incredible music. You'll be listening to Amy in your car for a while after watching it. Will likely win.
Ex Machina - My favorite sleeper film of the year. It didn't get a ton of publicity but it's really great. Highly recommend this to anyone that likes a bizarre suspense movie. And if you like robots, even better. Top notch filmmaking here. Could surprise some people with a few wins.
The Walk - Not sure this will show up at the Oscars but I liked it and it had a couple really great moments.
Love & Mercy - Great bio-pic of the Beach Boys front man, Brian Wilson, and his crazy story about mental illness and how he was treated for so long. I sort of knew this story but seeing the extent of it left me thinking and talking about it for weeks. Also great soundtrack. Paul Dano and John Cusack are off-putting and on point as Wilson. Not sure it will win anything but I highly recommend this one to anyone.
Black Mass - Johnny Depp back in an actual acting role. Felt good to see that and he was sinister as #$%@, but the movie overall really dragged at times. A lot of times. And it’s hard to make make something so full of violence, boring. Not to mention (although I am now) I didn’t know what the heck they were talking about half the time. It just fell short all around Johnny.