Lion Review

lion3Tonight I had the chance to see the Oscar nominated film Lion again and I loved it all over again. After I finished it occurred to me I never actually reviewed the film on my blog or channel. I got sick right around when I saw it and somehow it just never got done. It’s a shame because Lion is absolutely one of my favorite movies of 2016 (made my top 10 of the year) and a film you should check out while it is still in theaters.

lion-sunny-pawarYou can kind of divide Lion into 2 parts. The first part is about a little boy named Saroo (Sunny Pawar) lives with his Mother and family (particularly his brother Guddu) in a secluded village in India.

One day while waiting for Guddu to finish work he wanders onto a train and ends up days away from his family with no way to communicate who they are or where he is from. He then becomes one of the many lost children of India and these scenes are the most powerful of the movie.

One scene in particular moved me when he is treated kindly by someone but must realize just in the nick of time they have ulterior motives. When he runs away I wanted to cheer him on! All of these scenes are so well filmed by first time director Garth Davis. You feel the panic of the crowds and the confusion of little Saroo.

lion5Sunny Pawar is also phenomenal as Saroo. If he had gotten nominated over Dev Patel I wouldn’t have complained. He’s that great in the role.

Eventually he gets the opportunity to be adopted by a family in Tasmania played by David Wenham and Nicole Kidman. The scenes where he and his brother are assimilated into their new family are handled so beautifully. I think anyone who has experienced adoption will respond to their authenticity and raw emotional power.  Nicole Kidman is especially great as the mother who chose adoption as an opportunity to love more.

lion6Next we get to the second part of the film where Saroo is Dev Patel and he is a grown man starting hospitality training. While there he learns about Google Earth and begins a hunt to find his family in India.

Dev Patel is great as the adult Saroo (and very hunky I must say) and the screenplay does a wonderful job showing the ache a lost child might feel as a grown up. He yearns to reassure his brother and Mother that he is ok. At first his efforts are fruitless and he becomes kind of obsessed with it.

The whole time he is searching he worries his Mother and Father might see this as a betrayal, or that he is ungrateful for all they have done. I thought this was handled with such subtlety- capturing the feelings of many adopted children without sensationalizing or making adoption the enemy (I really believe in adoption advocacy if you didn’t know).

lion2The one part that doesn’t work that well in this section is Saroo’s relationship with Lucy played by Rooney Mara. They just didn’t have great chemistry and she felt extraneous to the core plot. But it is really my only big flaw with the film.

When I first saw Lion I loved it and have been surprised to hear some call it “Oscar bait”. I hate this term as I feel it is a way of criticizing films with ambition.  It’s similar to those who criticize the smart girl in class for studying too hard. Even if you use the term, I don’t think Lion qualifies. It’s just a movie with a great story, performances, cinematography, music and script. It’s the total package. Both times I’ve seen it I was completely absorbed and emotionally moved.

The fact it is a true story makes it even better. Rarely in Hollywood do we get a movie about genuinely good people who aren’t addicts or abusers. This is none of that. Both the family in India and Tasmania are good people that face challenges I could relate and empathize with. I thought it was all handled so beautifully that I can’t wait to own Lion on blu-ray.

Once again, I can’t believe this is Garth Davis’ first movie. What a tremendous accomplishment! I can’t wait to see what else he makes in his career.

If you want to see a movie about the triumph of a family, a beautiful soul and an incredible story watch Lion. It’s so good. I LOVED it!

Overall Grade- A (not A+ just because of the girlfriend part  but I loved this movie).

Oscar Predictions and New Blog Series Poll

86th Annual Academy Awards - Red CarpetHey guys! So the Oscars are coming up next week and so I thought I would share my predictions and what I would pick if it was left up to just me. I don’t plan on watching this year because I think all of the political speeches will be completely insufferable and I don’t think Jimmy Kimmel is funny. I’ll just find out winners online.

Also, I realized I haven’t done a series on this blog for a long time. I was so overwhelmed with my Disney Canon Project over on my youtube channel last year that aside from the monthly blindspot picks I let that slide. I want to make sure to always provide content for both my channel and blog, so I am interested in doing another series. I have a poll so please vote on what you would like me to write about:

Anyway, here are my predictions/picks. Also I warn you I am notoriously awful at this. I have seen almost everything except for no documentary shorts, Elle and a couple docs/foreign films.

Best Picture- Arrival, Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, La La Land, Lion, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight

Winner- La La Land. My Pick- Hacksaw Ridge

Best Director- Denis Villeneuve (Arrival), Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge), Damien Chazelle (La La Land), Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea), Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)

Winner- Damien Chazelle (La La Land). My Pick- Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge)

Best Actor- Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea), Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge), Ryan Gosling (La La Land), Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic), Denzel Washington (Fences)

Winner- Denzel Washington (Fences), My Pick- Denzel Washington (Fences)

Best Actress- Isabelle Huppert (Elle), Ruth Negga (Loving), Natalie Portman (Jackie), Emma Stone (La La Land), Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)

Winner- Isabelle Huppert (Elle), My Pick- Ruth Negga (Loving)  (I have not seen Elle but my gut tells me they will go with the veteran who had 2 critically lauded films this year)

Best Supporting Actor- Mahershala Ali (Moonlight), Jeff Bridges in (Hell or High Water), Lucas Hedges ((Manchester by the Sea)), Dev Patel (Lion), Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals)

Winner- Mahershala Ali (Moonlight), My Pick- Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water)

Best Supporting Actress- Viola Davis (Fences), Naomie Harris (Moonlight), Nicole Kidman (Lion), Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures), Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea)

Winner- Viola Davis (Fences), My Pick- Viola Davis (Fences)

Best Original Screenplay- Hell or High Water, La La Land, The Lobster, Manchester by the Sea, 20th Century Women

I have not seen 20th Century Women.

Winner- Manchester by the Sea (please, please, please. La La Land does not deserve best screenplay!) My Pick- Hell or High Water

Best Adapted Screenplay- Arrival, Fences, Hidden Figures, Lion, Moonlight,

Winner- Moonlight, My Pick- Moonlight 

Best Animated Film- Kubo and the Two Strings, Moana, My Life as a Zucchini, The Red Turtle, Zootopia

Winner- Zootopia, My Pick- Moana

Best Foreign Language Film- Land of Mine, A Man Called Ove, The Salesman, Tanna, Toni Erdmann

Winner- Toni Erdmann, My Pick- (Only one I’ve seen) A Man Called Ove

Best Documentary- Fire at Sea, I Am Not Your Negro, Life Animated, OJ Made in America, 13th

I haven’t seen Fire at Sea but seen the rest.

Winner- OJ Made in America, My Pick- Life Animated

Documentary Shorts- Extremis, 4.1 Miles, Joe’s Violin, Watani: My Homeland, The White Helmets

I haven’t seen any of these shorts but the one I hear the most buzz about is Joe’s Violin

Live Action Short- Ennemis interieurs, La Femme et le TGV, Silent Nights, Sing, Timecode

Winner- Silent Nights, My Pick- Sing

Animated Short- Blind Vaysha, Borrowed Time, Pear Cider and Cigarettes, Pearl, Piper

Winner- Pearl, My Pick- Piper

Best Score- Jackie, La La Land, Lion, Moonlight, Passengers

Winner- La La Land, My Pick- Moonlight

Best Original Song- Audition (La La Land), Can’t Stop the Feeling (Trolls), City of Stars (La La Land), Empty Chair (Jim: The James Foley Story), How Far I’ll Go (Moana)

Winner- City of Stars (La La Land), My Pick- How Far I’ll Go (Moana)

Best Sound Editing- Arrival, Deepwater Horizon, Hacksaw Ridge, La La Land, Sully

Winner- Hacksaw Ridge, My Pick- Hacksaw Ridge

Best Sound Mixing- Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, La La Land, Rogue One, 13 Hours

Winner- Hacksaw Ridge, My Pick- 13 Hours

Production Design- Arrival, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Hail Caesar, La La Land, Passengers

Winner- La La Land, My Pick- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Best Cinematography- Arrival, La La Land, Lion, Moonlight, Silence

Winner- La La Land, My Pick- Lion

Make Up- A Man Called Ove, Star Trek Beyond, Suicide Squad

Winner- Star Trek Beyond, My Pick- Star Trek Beyond

Costume Design- Allied, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Florence Foster Jenkins, Jackie, La La Land

Winner- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, My Pick- Florence Foster Jenkins

Best Film Editing- Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, La La Land, Moonlight

Winner- La La Land, My Pick- Hacksaw Ridge

Visual Effects- Deepwater Horizon, Doctor Strange, Rogue One, Jungle Book, Kubo and the 2 Strings

Winner- Jungle Book, My Pick- Jungle Book

So there you have it! Hope you enjoy my predictions. What do you think of them? And thanks for voting in the poll

2015 Animated Oscars: Did the Right Film Win?

I’m very excited to announce my next video reviewing the Oscar nominees for Best Animated Feature Film is up!  I have reviewed every year from 2001-2015.  Here’s the entire playlist and the Animated Oscars Tag videos people have done.   It’s a long video, so perhaps a good one to listen while doing another task.  If you like it please give it a thumbs up.  Thanks!

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL7wz447AgL4x2fxnrGhVdu-6ZZa8v18Vl

Here are my base thoughts on each of the nominees.

boy and the world poster2Boy and the World-

A beautiful hand drawn animated film by Ale Abreu that tells the story of a little boy looking for his father.  Using basically no dialogue Abreu creates a kaleidoscope of colors and textures as the boy ventures into the city and confronts war, waste, commercialism and fear.  Sometimes it can be heavy handed and a bit self-indulgent but it’s also bright, colorful and fun.  The music is infectious and will make you smile.

anomalisaAnomalisa-

A somewhat cynical yet thought provoking stop motion animated film from Charlie Kaufman for adults. The animation is fluid and smooth as it focuses on a man named Michael who has become disenfranchised with the people in his life.  Everyone looks, behaves and even sounds the same.  Then he meets Lisa who is different and this excites him.  Some of the adult content I felt was distracting from what really made Lisa special. We could have dug deeper but instead we get superficial differences like a scar or voice. Still, it will definitely make you think and if you can handle the content worth a watch.

inside out3Inside Out-

I don’t know how I could say more about this film.  It was my favorite film of 2015 and it is rapidly becoming one of my favorite animated films of all time.  I have found myself watching it most weeks since I got it on blu-ray.  There’s just something about the dual stories of Riley and Joy that doesn’t age for me.  It improves each time I see it.  I love the humor, visual splendor, and heart.  The end when Riley admits to her parents ‘I miss home’ is perfect.  Joy’s journey when she finally realizes that happiness requires sadness is equally strong.  Perfection from Pixar.

shaun the sheep posterShaun the Sheep-

A delight from the team at Aardman.  A spin off from the TV show (which is great and you can watch on Amazon Prime) Shaun is tired of his boring routine and wants a day off.  So him and his friends go to the big city and have an adventure.  It has the spirit of a silent comedy with minimal dialogue and some great visual jokes.  I loved when the Farmer becomes a barber to the stars.  It’s a sweet, simple, endearing film.  And of course, the animation is wonderful as is usually the case from Aardman.  I wish more people in US saw their great films.

when marnie9When Marnie was There-

This film really impacted me emotionally.  Seeing the journey of Anna as she struggles with deep depression and her family’s effort to save her is very beautiful.  The main message is that we all have love in our lives.  The key is recognizing that love, both here on earth and from those who have passed on.  We all have love, and that love has power to rescue.  The animation is stunning.  I particularly loved the sound mixing and how lush everything felt.  The ending may not work for everyone but I thought it was pure truth. Great way for Studio Ghibli to go out. The music and song by Priscilla Ahn is gorgeous.

————————————

So 5 wonderful films!  It’s funny looking over these 5 nominees I feel 2015 is a bit of a an underrated year.  It certainly was a diverse year especially when you consider 2 very strong films, Peanuts Movie and Good Dinosaur, that were not nominated.  And how amazing is it to have a year with only 1 CG film nominated for Best Animated Feature Film.  2014 only had 2. Take that 2D animation is dead crowd! 😉

Anyway, I think you guys know Inside Out is the clear winner in my books; although, I think all 5 are quality films.  As I said earlier, Inside Out is a game changer for me.  A film I will never forget.

What about you?  What do you think of the nominees and do you think the right film won?

Thoughts (Not a Review) of Anomalisa

anomalisaSince viewing it in January, I have struggled with the best way to share my thoughts on 2015 Oscar nominee Anomalisa.  Mainly how could I post a review of a film that I skipped large portions of for content reasons?  Finally, I just decided to post my thoughts rather than a review.  I think I saw enough of Anomalisa to give an opinion on the style and overall production, but can’t in good conscience give a traditional review.

Anomalisa was the brainchild of director Charlie Kaufman.  He originally wrote it as a ‘sound play’, which I must confess I had never heard of before researching this film.  I didn’t know people went to plays just to hear dialogue?  Cool.

So, eventually Kaufman decided to put up a kickstarter for an Anomalisa short and the decision was made to use puppets and change it to feature length film.  The puppets were made using 3D printers and 18 Michaels and 6 Lisas were designed.  There are only 3 vocal performances in Anomalisa- Michael (David Thewlis), Lisa (Jennifer Jason Leigh), Everyone else (Tom Noonan).

anomalisa4According to Kaufman the goal of the film was to “forget they were looking at something animated and just get wrapped up in the scene,” further explaining that “the challenge we felt with so much animated stuff is that you’re always conscious of the animation, and we kept asking, ‘What if we could escape that? What would it be like?”

After viewing the film several times I would say they achieved their goals.  The animation in Anomalisa is gorgeous.  I’m a huge stop motion junkie and to see the fluidity and expressions of the characters is remarkable.  Also it has this unique mix of artistry and realism that I haven’t seen before.  Like there are times when you forget you are watching stop motion but then the lines around the characters faces remind you.  So at one moment you are both immersed in the world and reminded it is art.  I don’t know if that makes sense but there is definitely that dichotomy in the art design.

anomalisa9The main story behind Anomalisa is it’s about a man named Michael who is traveling to Cincinnati to deliver a speech on his book on customer service.  To Michael everyone appears, even sounds the same.  The world has become streamlined and boring and he has lost hope in anything but a robot-like existence.

anomalisa8He ends up making his way to his hotel, briefly having dinner with an old flame and then meeting a woman named Lisa who has come to hear him speak.  She fascinates Michael because of a scar on her face and something different in her demeanor and personality. As they get to know each other better he refers to her as Anomalisa (an anomaly named Lisa).  They become more intimate and then the story plays out more or less how you might predict.

anomalisa3So, let’s address the elephant in the room.  As someone who doesn’t usually watch a lot of rated R content, there was a lot in Anomalisa I had to skip over.  That is why I didn’t feel I could give it a true ‘review’. I skipped at least 20 minutes of the film.  The sensuality and language in Anomalisa is extremely strong.  Even with skipping I was still shocked at how R rated it truly is.

I actually think this is more than just a moral problem with the film.  The first 2/3rd you have interesting character development and then the final act with all the sexuality becomes kind of expected and one note.  I wonder if being sexually daring may have created a distraction on the core story and message? Needless to say, I didn’t feel I missed anything by skipping over it and if that’s the case was it really that important?

anomalisa7Charlie Kaufman’s messaging in Anomalisa is a pretty cynical one and definitely won’t be for everyone.  Michael loves Lisa because she is different, an anomaly; however, when they eat breakfast together her mannerisms start to drive him crazy.  He then starts to see her as everyone else and has a kind of manic episode while delivering his speech.  Kaufman seems to be asking ‘are we all the same’ and if we are- what’s the point in living in all that sameness?

anomalisa2I’m not really sure Kaufman has an answer, which is very depressing.  Maybe it’s just to have sensual experiences or to hope to find an actual anomalisa one day? That if we keep trying we will find something unique?  Like I said, it’s a pretty cynical message.

That said, I do relate to the message in a certain way.  When I was unhappy in my work the world did feel the same- just rows of cubicles and repetitive acts with no meaning or love attached to them.  I was miserable and it’s hard to be hopeful when mundanity  has taken over your life.  I know I would rather do anything than work at desk with a cubicle like the scores of Lisas do in Michael’s dream.

anomalisa19There’s even a philosophic concept behind Kaufman’s visuals.  It has to do with the reality of ‘the other’. When we meet another human being we are immediately struck by their sense of being or their humanity.  Then we, in an attempt to order what’s around us, turn them into the same.  So, a person is human but then they are a more of the same- a woman, an ethnicity, age, race, religion etc.  We all do it. It’s human nature.

Once someone is the same they can be treated differently than when they are a unique being.  We can see that in Michael’s treatment of Lisa.  When she is an anomaly she is prized but as soon as she is the same he is done with her.

anomalisa12I guess where I wonder about Kaufman’s cynicism is can you really know someone’s sameness or uniqueness from one night of sex? Most of what Michael is depressed over comes from kind of superficial observations and even with Lisa he really doesn’t get to know her very well before judging  her as both an angel and then a bland bore. But then again, that’s kind of what happens when we are depressed so maybe that’s what Kaufman is trying to show?

Actor David Thewlis voices Michael Stone as he engages in puppet showering, puppet profanity, puppet nudity and puppet hallucinations.

It’s another reason I think the sensuality becomes a distraction in the last third of the story.  I really wanted to find out more of why Michael is so cynical and depressed.  I mean we’ve seen the morose suburbanite contemplating sameness so many times (American Beauty, Birdman…) that aside from the stop motion I’m not sure what is so new about Kaufman’s insight here?

Even his wife’s attempt to throw a surprise party is seen as more of the same to Michael.  What could make him happy?  Evidently it is finding more Anomalisa’s but since the Anomalisa was a disappointment it seems a hopeless endeavor?  I don’t think Michael will ever find what he is looking for, which is very depressing.

anomalisa5My final thoughts on Anomalisa is it is striking and beautiful in many ways.   I like the core idea of examining sameness and the other but it’s not exactly new to cinema. Sure the animation is different and the adult content shocking, but Kaufman is so relentlessly cynical it becomes frustrating.  In many ways the cynical answer is kind of easy where a more hopeful one takes work and a more complex view of human beings.

I wish instead of spending the final third act shocking the audience with sexual content Kaufman had explored some kind of solution for Michael.  I’m not saying he has to be happy and everything be solved but maybe a more complicated answer than we are all robots and there is no hope would be more thought provoking?

But that said, I do appreciate the artistry and ambition of Anomalisa.  It’s definitely something that will make you think about your own life and if you are an Anomalisa or just like everyone else. (Also are you judgemental like Michael and TURN everyone into the same when they are actually unique?). I appreciate the questions the film asks and the way it is animated.  I think the third act gets distracted with the adult content but as I skipped over some of those segments there may be insight I missed.

No grade from me for Anomalisa, as this is not a review, but I hope that insight was helpful.  Make sure you know this is a strong R rated film and definitely not for everyone.  Even skipping the sexual content, there is a lot of profanity and vulgarity, so be forewarned.

So what did you think of Anomalisa?  I will definitely be curious for your thoughts on this one!

Ranking Best Picture Winners by Nels Danburg

Hey guys my youtube friend Nels just finished this awesome series where he ranks all of the best picture winners.  I don’t agree with all of his placements but I respect his reasons and I love that he goes over all the nominees of each year.  It’s amazing for how young he is how he has seen all of the nominees and has thoughtful opinions about them. They deserve more hits so give them a view and a thumbs up!

2016 Oscar Nominated Short Reviews

I’ve been wanting to do this post for some time but I had a hard time finding 2 of the nominated animated shorts for this years Oscars.  I finally was able to watch them all and thought I would give you my thoughts.

animated shorts5Bear Story

Coming out of Chili by director Gabriel Osorio Vargas Bear Story is about a bear who builds diorama’s kind of like what we saw in Hugo.  He is a lonely bear and tells the story of that loneliness through the diorama.  The animation is beautiful with a heavy steampunk feel to it.

Basically the story is the bear is taken from his family to perform in the circus.  You get that sadness mixed in with the fun of the circus. Each scene is layered with movement and details.  It is extremely charming.

Overall Grade B+

animated shorts1Prologue

Animator Richard Williams vision of ancient warfare is definitely a unique nominee.  It is done using a pencil, hand drawn style and the animation is quite striking.  When it focuses on a characters eyes or face it reminded me of a lithograph or an etching.

However, this film is ADULTS ONLY!  I am not being quaint or hesitant when I say that.  It is extremely bloody and  the nudity is graphic and repeated.  For a short that is just over 5 minutes it is kind of astonishing how R rated it could be!

Evidently it is accurate to ancient warriors for them to fight naked (who knew?) but there really isn’t any story here that I could see at least.  It is people brutally killing each other and then at the end a girl stands in shock over the blood.  I guess that is a message about war but not particularly inventive or thought provoking in my opinion.

Maybe we will learn more in future episodes? It is called Prologue after all

Overall Grade- C-

animated shorts44We Can’t Live Without Cosmos

We Can’t Live Without Cosmos is out of Russia and directed and written by Konstantin Bronzit.  It may not have the most stunning animation but the story makes up for any failings in that department.

It is 2D animation in the style of TV animation like The Simpsons, and tells the story of 2 best friends who dream of becoming cosmonauts.  It starts with them in training and they joyously complete every task.  At one point they even leap off of their beds trying to get a feeling of zero gravity.

I don’t want to spoil it for you but suffice it to say I love stories of friendship and this one had my heart. It is very sweet and lovely.

Overall Grade- A

animated shorts2World of Tomorrow

Oh boy…how do I explain World of Tomorrow?  To be honest Don Hertzfeldt’s sci-fi study of human nature makes me feel kind of dumb.  I’ve seen it a lot and I still don’t really get it.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing but did it need to be quite so obtuse?  I guess for Don’s artistic vision it did.

Basically it is about a little girl named Emily who receives a video transmission of a clone version of herself from the future.  This clone takes Little Emily into her current world where they have a land called ‘the Outernet’.

Clone Emily then takes Little Emily through different memories and then tells her that the earth will be destroyed by a meteoroid. Then Clone Emily reveals she came to see Little Emily to retrieve a memory she had forgotten.  She hopes this memory will be comforting for the end of the world.

So there you have it.  The main message is we should focus on the important stuff. That when the end comes the trivial will dissolve and only the most special memories will remain.  Technology  obscures the hear and now and makes us focus only on the fluff.

Clone Emily says

“Do not lose time on daily trivialities. Do not dwell on petty detail. For all of these things melt away and drift apart within the obscure traffic of time. Live well and live broadly. You are alive and living now. Now is the envy of all of the dead.”

The animation is brilliant and different in World of Tomorrow and I think it will win, and it is probably deserved.  On one hand I like it is layered and tricky to decipher it’s meaning, but I think it goes a little too far in that department, to the point of ostracizing me a bit as a viewer.  It’s great but I still don’t love it like some people do.

That said Overall Grade- A

animated shorts3

Sanjay’s Super Team

I have already done a whole blog post on Sanjay’s Super Team.  This is Pixar’s offering (Lava was actually submitted in 2014).  Everyone seems to think it is shoe-in for Sanjay to win this category but I did some research and Pixar actually doesn’t have a great track record here.  They haven’t won since 2001!  Even something like La Luna (my favorite Pixar short) was beat by Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore which is completely charming so I get it.  The academy seems to like to reward smaller studios in animated short category.

Anyway, Sanjay’s Super Team is directed by Sanjay Patel and it is inspired by his childhood growing up as an American boy with Hindu observant parents.  The story is little Sanjay is watching his favorite superhero show when his father is praying and meditating.  His father insists he join him and Sanjay starts out bored but imagines the Hindu Gods as superheroes.

It is a beautiful film about how a meeting of the minds can occur and generations can understand each other better.  The animation is bright and colorful, some of Pixar’s best, and the lesson Sanjay learns is very sweet.  He see’s that maybe his Dad’s crazy ideas aren’t so bad after all.

Overall Grade- A+

 

My thoughts on all 5.  Prologue is too R rated for me and lacks a good story so it is my least favorite. The other 4 I like a lot, even if World of Tomorrow makes my head hurt.  I would probably order them

  1. Sanjay’s Super Team
  2. We Can’t Live Without Cosmos
  3. World of Tomorrow
  4. Bear Story
  5. Prologue

Have you had a chance to see the animated shorts? I would love your thoughts. Which do you like the best? Do you think World of Tomorrow will win or are you pulling for another choice?

45 Years Review

45 years-4It’s funny I went to the theater tonight and scores of people were coming out of Deadpool with smiles on their faces.  I’m sure they had a great time and that’s awesome. I instead went to see 45 Years and I was alone in the theater and came out literally sobbing.  Quite the contrast! But I wager to say in 10 years my experience will be the more memorable one. Suffice it to say, I have a new entry in my Best Movies of 2015.

45 years-245 Years is a very simple movie.  It tells the story of a week in the life of a couple before they celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary.  On day 1 Geoff, the husband, played by Tom Courtenay, gets a letter in German informing him that the body of the love of his youth has been found and he can come and claim it.

Kate, the wife, played brilliantly by Charlotte Rampling, is aware of the relationship but is surprised when the news is so impactful upon her husband.  She starts to wonder if there was a side to this old relationship she never knew about? Has her husband of 45 years been honest with her?  Was she the 2nd choice over his true love? All of these questions are asked by Kate as the days unwind.

45 years-3I think what made this movie so particularly moving for me is Kate reminds me so much of my beloved Grandmother.  She is one of my best friends but in the last 2 years her health has not been well and it is difficult for her to talk on the phone.  This has made talking to her quite difficult since we live in different states.  Watching this movie made me realize how much I miss my Grandma.

45 years-5Even Charlotte Rampling’s look and disposition reminds me of my Grandma. I loved the way she had her life ordered and was a bright light to all in her circle.  When she finds out her husband hasn’t been completely honest with her the devastation is so palatable.  You can see it in Rampling’s whole body not just her face.  I wanted to give her a hug.

If it hadn’t been so late I would have called my Grandma right after and told her I loved her.  I’m going to do it tomorrow. That’s the kind of emotion this movie evoked in me.  I was literally sobbing.  I just love my Grandma so much.

45 yearsI know what it feels like for people you love to come out of nowhere with news and to have to absorb it as best you can,  so I related to that storyline as well.  I related to having to come to grips when you thought the person you loved was one way and turns out to be another.  There is nothing harder than that in my opinion.

Some will probably find this boring.  It’s kind of like Boyhood in the way it is just about a week in the life of this couple.  Some people don’t like that kind of movie.  Some may not like the somewhat ambiguous ending, but I thought it was pure truth.  It may be the best movie I’ve ever seen about marriage.  That’s not hyperbole.  It’s really how I felt.

45 years-6Tom Courtenay is also wonderful in the role.  You want to hate him for the dishonesty and the pain he is causing Kate but you can also see why he left the past in the past. It felt authentic and real to the way such a man would behave. We all know older men like Geoff.

I’m not saying don’t see Deadpool.  Go see it.  Have some laughs if the content is your thing, but make time in your schedule to see a film that something to say about life.  Make time to see 45 Years. It was a stunning film and I’m so glad Charlotte Rampling was nominated for best actress. She is much better than either Cate Blanchett in Carol or Brie Larsen in Room.

The rest of the supporting cast is wonderful and gives the entire experience a lived in feel.  It seems like a real group of friends, a real community that surrounds Geoff and Kate.

Props to director Andrew Haigh for his tremendous achievement.  I loved this movie and I encourage all of you to see it.

As far as content it is rated R but it is a pretty mild R.  There are a few F words and one mild scene of sensuality between the couple.

Overall Grade- A+

My youtube review:

My Oscar Predictions, Snubs and Silly Noms

86th Annual Academy Awards - Red CarpetIt’s like a rite of passage in film community that you’ve got to give your Oscar predictions.  I am also going to note the snubs and nominations I think are nonsense. I will say I a notoriously awful at this so don’t put too much money on my predictions.

Best Picture- I have seen all of the nominees and I  think The Revenant will win. 

Out of this list I think Spotlight is leagues above the rest.  I’d order them like- Spotlight, The Martian, Brooklyn, Mad Max Fury Road, The Big Short, Room, The Revenant, Bridge of Spies. 

I would have nominated Inside Out for best picture as I think it was the most emotional (forgive the pun) and innovative film of the year. I also think Carol and Ex-Machina would have been worthy entries (and of course I love Star Wars: The Force Awakens but who are we kidding.  It didn’t stand a chance of being nominated).

The Big Short

Bridge of Spies

Brooklyn

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant (will win)

Room

Spotlight (dark horse)

Best Director- I think Inarritu will win for The Revenant because the academy loves him and the movie was hard to make (so are lots of movies.  That doesn’t mean it deserves to win. I mean Mad Max was a nightmare to make).  

Dark horse is George Miller who would be my pick. 

I would have loved to see Pete Docter in here for Inside Out (no, all my snubs won’t be for Inside Out).  I think Todd Haynes not getting nominated for Carol was a real snub.

Adam McKay, The Big Short

George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road- dark horse

Alejandro G. Iñárritu, The Revenant (will win)

Lenny Abrahamson, Room

Tom McCarthy, Spotlight

Best Actor- I haven’t seen Danish Girl or Trumbo. I think Leonardo DiCaprio will win for The Revenant and I am fine with that.

I am fine with the list although I loved Michael B Jordan in Creed.

Bryan Cranston, Trumbo

Matt Damon, The Martian

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant (will win)

Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs (dark horse)

Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

Best Actress- I haven’t seen 45 Years but the rest are great performances.  It’s a race between Brie Larson and Cate Blanchett.  Oscar loves Blanchett and she is great in Carol. But Oscar also loves to honor new performers in this category so I say Brie Larson will win.  

Charlize Theron in Mad Max Fury Road and Carey Mulligan in Far From the Maddening Crowd would have been nice to see.

Cate Blanchett, Carol- dark horse

Brie Larson, Room (will win)

Jennifer Lawrence, Joy

Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years

Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Best Supporting Actor- Great list. I think Sylvester Stallone will win. 

Mark Rylance from Bridge of Spies is the dark horse and I’d be ok with him winning even though wasn’t nuts for the film. Mark Ruffalo would be my pick for Spotlight.

Idris Elba from Beasts of No Nation is the snub I’ve heard about but I have not see the film. Also Steve Carrell should have been nominated not Christian Bale for The Big Short.

Christian Bale, The Big Short

Tom Hardy, The Revenant

Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight

Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies- dark horse

Sylvester Stallone, Creed (will win)

Best Supporting Actress- I have not seen Danish Girl or Hateful Eight.  I’m still going with Kate Winslet for the win with strong chance of Rooney Mara for Carol.  She’s good but it’s not a supporting performance.  Winslet is so good in Steve Jobs.

Only real snub is I think Alicia Vikander should have been nominated for Ex-Machina.

Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight

Rooney Mara, Carol- dark horse

Rachel McAdams, Spotlight

Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl

Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs (will win)

Best Original Screenplay- I haven’t seen Straight Outta Compton. I clearly would pick Inside Out and think Bridge of Spies screenplay was actually really weak.  It drops storylines and only has 2 developed characters, but as I seem to be one of the only one’s who realizes that it gets the nomination.  I think Spotlight will win this one.

Bridge of Spies

Ex Machina- dark horse

Inside Out

Spotlight (will win)

Straight Outta Compton

Best Adapted Screenplay- I’ve seen all of these films and I think The Big Short will win with an outside chance for Brooklyn and Carol.  I personally would give it to Brooklyn.

Big snub on this is Steve Jobs; although, if I’m honest I’m kind of glad as I think Aaron Sorkin is a bit overrated and writes mostly one-note characters.

The Big Short (will win)

Brooklyn dark horse

Carol- dark horse

The Martian

Room

Best Animated Feature- I’ve seen all of these films and they are all worthy nominees.  I think Inside Out will win with Anomalisa being the dark horse.

The obvious snub is The Peanuts Movie, which I think is better than Boy and the World.  It is certainly less heavy handed and preachy.  Plus, what it did with hybrid animation should have been recognized. 

I also think Good Dinosaur for it’s stunning animation should have gotten a nomination over Anomalisa although they are such different films it’s hard to compare them.

Anomalisa- dark horse

Boy and the World

Inside Out (will win)

Shaun the Sheep Movie

When Marnie Was There

Best Foreign Language Film- Haven’t seen any of these but only one I’ve heard any buzz on is Son of Saul and Hollywood loves Holocaust movies.

Embrace of the Serpent

Mustang

Son of Saul (will win)

Theeb

A War

Best Documentary Feature- Only seen Amy but this is between Amy and Cartel Land.  As I find Amy to be very overrated I would love for Cartel Land to win but it probably will go to Amy.

Amy (will win)

Cartel Land- dark horse

The Look of Silence

What Happened, Miss Simone?

Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom

Best Cinematography- The Revenant will win with an outside chance for Sicario to reward Roger Deakins.  I loved the cinematography in Far From the Maddening Crowd and in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Carol

The Hateful Eight

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant (will win)

Sicario- dark horse

Best Film Editing- This is between The Big Short and Mad Max Fury Road.  I would give it to Mad Max and I think it will win. The editing in that film was amazing.

The Big Short- dark horse

Mad Max: Fury Road (will win)

The Revenant

Spotlight

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Production Design- This one is a tough one to predict.  I think this might be Bridge of Spies win, which I would be ok with as the film looked great.  The fact that The Revenant beat out Brooklyn and Carol in this category is complete nonsense.  I wouldn’t be surprised if The Revenant won for designing great snow and about 15 minutes of set and props.  Nonsense. 

Out of these nominees The Martian is my clear favorite; although I have not seen The Danish Girl.

Bridge of Spies (will win)

The Danish Girl

Mad Max: Fury Road- dark horse

The Martian- dark horse

The Revenant- dark horse

Best Costume Design- I think Carol will win this one although I could see Cinderella winning. 

Only snub is Far From the Maddening Crowd for costumes.

Carol (will win)

Cinderella- dark horse

The Danish Girl

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant

Best Original Score- I think Ennio Morricone will win for the Hateful 8.  He’s a legend and the music is great.  I’m fine with all these nominees although I love the music in When Marnie was There and Inside Out.

Bridge of Spies

Carol

The Hateful Eight (will win)

Sicario

Star Wars: The Force Awakens- dark horse (never count out John Williams)

Best Original Song- I think Writing on the Wall will win for Spectre. 

I would have nominated Fine on the Outside from When Marnie was There and When I See You Again from Furious 7.

“Earned It,” 50 Shades Of Grey

“Manta Ray,” Racing Extinction

“Simple Song #3,” Youth

“Til It Happens to You,” The Hunting Ground-  dark horse

“Writing’s on the Wall,” Spectre (will win)

Best Visual Effects- Great list.  I think this will be Star Wars win and it is deserved.  Ex-Machina or The Revenant could be the dark horse. 

I think Ant-Man could have been nominated but I like all of the nominees in this category.

Ex Machina- dark horse

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant- dark horse

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (will win)

Best Makeup & Hairstyling- Why only 3 nominees? Far from the Maddening Crowd, Cinderella, Carol, Star Wars all had terrific makeup.  If it is the Revenant’s night than it will probably win although between the 2 I’d pick Mad Max.

I actually think for hairstyling Jupiter Ascending should have been nominated.

Mad Max- dark horse

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out a Window and Disappeared

The Revenant (will win)

Best Sound Mixing- These are all pretty good nominees.  Mad Max Fury Road is my best guess but I can see any of them being a dark horse winner.  My favorite would be the sounds created for Star Wars.

Bridge of Spies

Mad Max: Fury Road (will win)

The Martian

The Revenant

Star Wars: The Force Awakens- dark horse

Best Sound Editing- These sound similar but they really aren’t.  I think Mad Max will take this one.  Star Wars or The Revenant could be dark horse.

Mad Max: Fury Road- (will win)

The Martian

The Revenant- dark horse

Sicario

Star Wars: The Force Awakens- dark horse

Best Documentary Short- Haven’t seen any of them so just guessing on this one.

Body Team 12

Chau Behind the Lines

Claude Lanzman

A Girl in the River

Last Day of Freedom- will win

Best Live Action Short Film- Haven’t seen any of them so just guessing on this one (wish Academy would make the shorts available to more theaters)

Ave Maria

Day One

Everything Will Be Okay

Shok (will win)

Stutterer

Best Animated Short Film- I have seen all of these films! I think World of Tomorrow will win.  It’s been available on Netflix and the academy actually has been pretty artsy in this category.  Pixar surprisingly hasn’t won that many times.

Bear Story

Prologue

Sanjay’s Super Team- dark horse

We Can’t Live Without Cosmos

World of Tomorrow- (will win)

Boy and the World Review

boy and the world poster2If you guys read my response to the Oscar nominations you may recall my disappointment at The Peanuts Movie being snubbed for Best Animated Feature Film.   In it’s place was a film called Boy and the World or o Menino eo Mundo in Portuguese.  I had heard of this film but it had mostly fallen under my radar so the nomination was a big surprise.  Today I had the chance to see the film and I can see why it got nominated.  I don’t know if I would pick it over Peanuts Movie but a lot of that comes down to personal artistic taste.

Boy and the World is directed by Brazilian animator Ale Abreu and was released in that country back in 2013.  It is made using mostly sketch animation with some live action imagery and paper mache thrown in.  The film’s biggest strength is it’s wild imaginative artistry.  It’s a real joy to watch.

boy and the world9999It’s a simple story about a boy who is devastated when his father leaves the family to go and find work in the city.

boy and the world89They plant a tree on his departure but the boy is still very upset.

boy and the world 7He goes on a journey to find his father and bring him back to the family but in so doing he dives into the city and confronts all kinds of people, industry, conflict and more.

boy and the world6 boy and the world4boy and the world5At one point he ends up living at a trash dump.

boy and the world8boy and the world3 As you can see the animation is quite beautiful but what adds to the appeal of the film is the wonderful music. Written by Ruben Feffer and Gustavo Kurlat it combines ‘pan-flute, samba and Brazilian hip hop’ into a delightful absorbing experience that made me smile.  Here’s one of the main themes:

The visuals combined with the music at times feel like a kaleidoscope and I never grew weary of the imagery. It is a bit self indulgent and has little to do with  the main plot of the boy looking for his Dad, but I liked it.  However, I can picture that bothering some people but not me.

boy and the world kaleidescopeThe ending of Boy and the World does try to say something about war, commerce, industry and waste but  that wasn’t as effective as the rest of the visuals.  It felt a little heavy handed where the rest of the film had spread the same message using joy and light. We didn’t really need the contrasting images.

There is little to no dialogue in Boy and the World so there are no cultural limitations or barriers.  I know films with no dialogue aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but I enjoy them when done right and this is.

boy and the world2So is it better than The Peanuts Movie? Again, it just depends on what you like.  They both have simple stories at their centers with depressed little boys and great music.   Both are also visually innovative and beautiful.  If you like more earthy, surreal art you’ll like Boy and the World better.  If you like the more modern realistic pop art than you will like Peanuts Movie better.  I personally have an attachment to Charlie Brown so I enjoyed his story more but I also loved the newness and creativity of Boy and the World.

Either way I can see why the academy nominated it.  It’s a beautiful film and adds a strong artistic entry to 2015 that we really didn’t have outside of The Prophet.  If you get a chance to see it let me know what you think.

My youtube review