All About That Oscars Take 2

It’s my favorite time of the year: awards season, more specifically The Oscars. I’ve been keeping up with all the different award shows, taking in all the best picture nominations and generally being upset about the Oscar nominations (and potential winners) this year. We’ll dive more into that later, but without further ado, let’s get this show on the road.

Best Supporting Actor

Who I want to win: Tom Hardy, The Revenant

Who will win: Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Let’s be real for just a second. Look at all of the past award shows and notice that Idris Elba won best supporting actor for Beasts of No Nation. Does the Oscars have a very real problem? Yes, 100 percent. I’m just scratching the surface of what every other entertainment site has been saying, but I just want to be real when I say that when Sylvester Stallone accepts the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in Creed, we all know that the award should have gone to Idris Elba. Now, of the people nominated, Tom Hardy (hands down) had the best supporting actor performance. Hardy is phenomenal in everything he does, and this year was no exception between his two performances in Mad Max: Fury Road and The Revenant, respectively. Unfortunately, the two vying for the award are Sylvester Stallone and Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies). In the end Sly will end up taking home the little gold man because he was the underdog of the late 70s and 80s and people want to see him win for the Rocky series since he was”robbed” the award in 1976.

Best Supporting Actress

Who I want to win: Rachel McAdams, Spotlight

Who will win: Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

Spotlight was my favorite film this year, just like Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) was last year. Out of all the Best Supporting Actress nominees, Rachel McAdams has one of the quietest performances but also one of the strongest. Like I was real earlier, let’s be real here: Rooney Mara (Carol) and Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl) should not be nominated in this category, they should have been nominated in the Best Actress category. This year we had a ton of strong performances from actresses in every movie nominated, more powerful than a lot of the actors who were nominated. If Vikander was nominated in this category for Ex Machina though, she would win the Oscar. Like Tom Hardy, Vikander had a lot of strong performances this year, especially since these roles were her breakout roles. Personally, her presence in Ex Machina was what really sold the film, and she was what carried The Danish Girl, but her role in Ex Machina just was on another level. Ultimately, I think the Oscar will be awarded to Kate Winslet. She is an awards season sweetheart, and with her early nab for Steve Jobs at the Golden Globes, I see her taking it again at the Oscars. And like Vikander with The Danish Girl, Winslet carried Steve Jobs on her back and delivered a beautiful performance (really though, she is the only reason worth watching Steve Jobs).

Best Actor

Who I want to win: Bryan Cranston, Trumbo

Who will win: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

Out of all the categories, Best Actor is the weakest link this year. Yes, the performances were good, but they weren’t on the level of the actress categories or even the supporting actor category. Will Leo take home his first Oscar? Yes, and he knows it. Was it Leo’s best performance to date? Absolutely not, and for some reason I’m really disappointed that this is what he will win for. The only performance I really feel passionate about from The Revenant is Tom Hardy, mostly because he made me hate his character so much. A great performance makes you feel something, it makes you connect. Leo’s was another “pat on the back” good performance, but this isn’t top notch Leo. Alas, I digress. In tune with my last opinion, Michael B. Jordan should have been nominated for Creed over Michael Fassbender for Steve Jobs (another awards show sweetheart, but I just don’t get it), and if we are giving away awards for performance with a strong penchant for grunting then Tom Hardy should have been nominated for Mad Max: Fury Road over Matt Damon for The Martian. Just to push the envelope a little bit more, Abraham Attah (who just won Best Actor at the Independent Spirt Awards yesterday) and Jacob Tremblay should have been nominated for their respective roles in Beasts of No Nation and Room. Ending this on a sweet note, of the performances nominated, Bryan Cranston was my favorite. He always brings such charm to every role he is in, and Trumbo was no exception. The film itself is simply okay, but Cranston is a delight in it. If anyone nabs the Oscar from Leo, it will be Cranston.

Best Actress

Who I want to Win: Brie Larson, Room

Who will win: Brie Larson, Room

The only performance that could give Brie Larson a run for her money is Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn (who is always a pleasure to watch). Besides that, this award is pretty much being thrown at Brie Larson, and rightfully so. She dominated her performance as a mother struggling to adapt to the new world after being kidnapped for 7 years. Larson is constantly turning out amazing performances (see Short Term 12), and I’m happy she is getting the recognition she deserves. On a nomination note, Jennifer Lawrence should not have been nominated for Best Actress in Joy. Another awards season sweetheart, but this was probably her weakest performance to date.

*Side Note: Why There Should Be a Best Acting Ensemble Category

Before we leave the acting categories, I want to address something real quick. My favorite awards event is the Critics Choice Awards, their awards always seem to mimic how I feel about the awards season in general. They also have my favorite category, Best Acting Ensemble. There are a lot of performances that get overlooked or don’t get nominated because they’re amazing together in a film, but there might be stronger individual performances. You could argue that with this year’s Spotlight and The Big Short, my two favorite films of 2015. There was so many performances that got over looked this year or that will not get the awards they deserve, but if this category exsisted, let me show you how it would play out: Spotlight, The Big Short, Straight Outta Compton, Star Wars: Episode 7 -The Force Awakens, Beasts of No Nation and Mad Max: Fury Road would be nominated (in my dreams, okay?). This wouldn’t take away from the Best Picture award, but more so acknowledge the performances that worked better as a collective. I’ll leave this here and you can mull it over, but I think we could come to an agreement that this category would be a breath of fresh air at The Oscars. Furthermore, best performance doesn’t always mean best picture.

Best Director

Who I want to win: George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road

Who will win: Alejandro Gonzáles Iñárritu, The Revenant

As a visual achievement, it really is as good as it gets between George Miller with Mad Max: Fury Road and Alejandro Gonzáles Iñárritu for The Revenant. If you wanted a subtle approach, Tom McCarthy for Spotlight or Adam McKay with The Big Short also deliver. This category is the most fairly stacked this award season. The only nomination I would swap out is Lenny Abrahamson‘s Room with Ridley Scott‘s The Martian. With technical style, The Revenant should win for best cinematography, but I prefer Miller’s directing style with Mad Max: Fury Road. Either way, I won’t be too upset with whoever takes home the Oscar for Best Director. I’m a big fan of Iñárritu, and to see him repeat his win from last year’s Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) would be a great feat.

Best Picture

Who I want to win: The Big Short or Spotlight

Who will win: The Revenant

Down to the nitty gritty, Best Picture is the biggest award of the night. With Chris Rock hosting, staying engaged with the 3 hour show should be an easy task. Like I mentioned earlier, The Big Short and Spotlight were my favorite films of 2015. Also, like I argued last year for Best Picture between Boyhood and Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), Best Picture captures everything: writing, editing, directing, cinematography, acting, producing, etc. On this basis alone, I feel that The Big Short and Spotlight are better films than The Revenant. The Revenant is purely a technical accomplish, it is so beautiful to look at, but the story itself is lacking and, at times, boring. There is a reason it was not nominated for any of the writing categories. I will be very disappointed if it wins because it is not the film that Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) was last year. The Revenant, because of everything I listed, was one of my least favorite nominated films this year. Spotlight was the early favorite for this award, but as the awards season continued on, it lost steam. Although, it should be noted that it took home Best Feature at the Independent Spirit Awards yesterday. The Big Short, on the other hand, picked up the Producers Guild of America Award for Best Theatrical Motion Picture. For the last six years, the film that won this PGA award have went on to win Best Picture at The Oscars. Will this streak continue this year? I don’t know, but I surely hope so.

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Grease 2: Live Dream Casting

Those who know me know I adore/prefer Grease 2 (yes, over Grease, go ahead and get your judgement out of the way). In fact, out of celebration for Grease: Live, I forced my husband to watch Grease 2 and appreciate how much better it is (insert your scoffs here). When Fox announced they were doing Grease: Live, I only had one thought: “Why not Grease 2?” I played along and watched Grease! Live. Vanessa Hudgens stole the show as Rizzo, Aaron Tveit was terrible not great as Danny (alas, people were mesmerized by his *ahem* dancing), and Jordan Fisher really made Doody come to life. That’s what these performances are about, giving people a chance to shine as iconic (or not as iconic) characters. After the show, Buzzfeed‘s Louis Peitzman made my Grease 2 dreams come alive. He put together what he thought a Grease 2: Live should look like. While I was intrigued by his article, it got me thinking about who I would love to see in these roles. So, without further ado, here is my Grease 2: Live dream casting (please make this happen, Fox).

Aly Michalka as Stephanie Zinone

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Aly Michalka Saints Row: The Third concert and event – Arrivals Held At Superclub Hollywood, California – 12.10.11 Mandatory Credit: FayesVision/WENN.com

No one will ever be able to top Michelle Pfeiffer, but if there is someone who could come close my bets are on Aly Michalka. One half of the female duo, Aly & AJ, they made all teenage girls feel empowered with their breakup hit “Potential Break-Up Song.” While she has the singing down to a pat, she also has some acting range. Look to the CW hit iZombie, she may not be in every episode but she makes an impact when she is there. Plus, wouldn’t you just love to hear her belt out the best of Grease 2 with “Cool Rider” and  my favorite “(Love Will) Turn Back the Hands of Time.”

Blake Jenner as Michael Carrington

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Peitzman was right, for Michael Carrington, Blake Jenner is the perfect choice (there is one other time that happens on this list). While not only having similar looks, Blake has a great voice (he won the The Glee Project for a reason, people). From his time of Glee, he had a lot of fun performances, but my favorite was when him and Jacob Artist performed “Unchained Melody” *note how great they sound together, just saying. Now let’s just hope he can bring alive “Charades“, the sleeper on an overall great movie musical soundtrack.

Ashley Tisdale as Paulette Rebchuck

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Remember how Vanessa Hudgens stole the show as Rizzo? Well maybe she can give some tips to her High School Musical costar/bestie, Ashley Tisdale. Tisdale could perfectly bring the sexuality and vulnerability of Paulette to the live production. Also, what better way to start bringing back the cast of HSM than television musicals? Trust me, with Paulette’s costuming, Tisdale is going to “Score Tonight.”

Penn Badgley as Johnny Nogerelli

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Before I get started, I just want to say that I adore Adrian Zmed and, like everyone else in Grease 2, he played this part to perfection. Now let’s dive into Penn Badgley. Don’t you want to see him as an insecure bad boy? No, not a mopey “bad” boy like his lonely boy character, Dan Humphrey in Gossip Girl (Disclaimer: I loved Dan, and I was huge Dan and Serena shipper), but a real bad boy. He’s the leader of the T-Birds and if you don’t want to watch Badgley going “Prowlin’” you can leave this list right now (but please stay so you can finish the dream casting).

Aja Naomi King as Sharon Cooper

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You know how you kind of love to hate Aja Naomi King‘s Michaela on How to Get Away with Murder? Well, that is kind of the same feeling you have about Sharon Cooper in Grease 2. Now don’t get me wrong, Aja Naomi King is amazing, but her character is kind of annoying, but she ultimately she is a boss (hence the love to hate). Imagine if she put that kind of personality into Grease 2‘s Sharon, and it’s a masterpiece waiting to happen. I wouldn’t want to miss King imitating Jackie O and bossing everyone around so they can achieve perfection in “Girls for All Seasons.”

Tyler Posey as Louis DiMucci

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Louis DiMucci, he’s definitely one of the more interesting characters in Grease 2. Ultimately though, he is the key to Michael becoming a coo-oool rider (he’s the first to ask Michael to do his homework), but that isn’t the reason DiMucci is so memorable. Tyler Posey‘s DiMucci would be the perfect balance to Aja Naomi King’s Sharon, and maybe he could inspire people to “Do it for Our Country.” But really guys, this is just creepy. Please do not ever attempt to do this.

Troian Bellisario as Rhonda Ritter

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Out of all the characters of Grease 2, Rhonda was the least memorable of the pink ladies. That is why I think Troian Bellisario would be the perfect choice for Rhonda. She could pull of Rhonda’s insecurities about her nose and transform her into a goddess of confidence by a two hour time mark without a problem. Give Spencer Hastings a chance, let her be the Rhona Ritter we deserve.

Jacob Artist as Goose McKenzie

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Like I mentioned earlier with Michael Carrington, Peitzman nailed the dream casting for Goose: Jacob Artist. Artist could make you love him one minute and hate him the next on Glee, which is exactly what Goose’s character needs (and deserves). Also, Goose and Johnny had a true bromance, and to see that come to life again would be magical. Between backing up Johnny’s remarks and causing him to swallow a cigarette, these are the scenes that make Grease 2 a joy to watch.

Rowan Blanchard as Dolores Rebchuck

2015 Glamour Women Of The Year Awards - Arrivals

NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 09: Actress Rowan Blanchard attends 2015 Glamour Women Of The Year Awards at Carnegie Hall on November 9, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Glamour)

Dolores Rebchuck was a scene stealer, and so is Rowan Blanchard. Dolores was ready to rule the school and redefine what a pink lady was, and her friendship with Michael was precious. Rowan is already making platforms on feminism, sexuality and friendship, and more than anything I am excited to see her star grow brighter. The pink ladies won’t know what hit them when Rowan’s Dolores steps into each scene.

Karan Brar as Davey Jaworski

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Truthfully, if I could have any person play Davey, it would be Fresh Off the Boat‘s Hudson Yang, but since he is still a bit young the next best thing is Karan Brar. He has the youthfulness that Davey embodies, and he is simply just the most adorable. Plus, isn’t Brar the perfect choice for Dolores to have a crush on in the end?

Rashida Jones as Miss Mason

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Miss Mason is the reason boys are hot for teacher, so who better to play her than the ever sexy Rashida Jones? Plus with Jones’ comedic chops, she will be able to kill the scenes that call for a little more jokes. I mean, without her would Mr. Stuart even be interesting? While I wait to get to that particular song, can you imagine Jones stealing the scene with just a few looks? I can, Rashida Jones is pure gold.

Jason Segel as Mr. Stuart

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An I Love You, Man reunion. Think of Jason Segel as Mr. Stuart, only he could pull off the suave awkwardness, while also wooing Miss Mason with his teaching skills. I mean, what better way to learn about “Reproduction” than sitting in on one of his classes? Plus, Jones’ Miss Mason and Segel’s Mr. Stuart might have the hottest chemistry of all.

 

 

A Definite Ranking of Pixar Films

Pixar is much more than a simple animation studio. Since opening in 1986, Pixar has been paving the way of animated storytelling with tales of family, growing up, finding yourself, being happy and so much more. Typically, I am disappointed in my film classes because we rarely touch on animated films. I could talk about Pixar or Studio Ghibli all day. While live action films match the style of our every day life, there is something idealistic about cartoonized figures dancing across our screens. Before I get to sappy, I will snap to the important stuff: my definite ranking of all of the Pixar films thus far.

Cars

12. Cars & Cars 2 (2006, 2011)

There is so much to be said about these films, but it can be summed up in I didn’t enjoy them. This was one of the few times that Pixar’s newest film didn’t resonate with both kids and adults. I remember when I was a kindergarten tutor, and I brought a coloring book for kids after they were done with testing. Because I love coloring (no judgment) and Pixar, it was a Pixar collection coloring book. As I colored my umpteenth Up page, all of my kindergarteners were fighting over the cars pages. Alas, I didn’t get it, but the repetitive mimicking of one character still haunts me at night.

Monsters University

11. Monsters University (2013)

If this would have been a sequel to Monsters, Inc. rather than a prequel, I believe this movie would have fared much better. It’s not that this movie is terrible, it just isn’t very rememberable and it definitely does not hold up to its predecessor. Overall, it was maybe fun to watch once, but you probably won’t buy it on dvd (or digital download, if you are one of those people).

The Incredibles

10. The Incredibles (2004)

Bare with me now. I understand a lot of people love this movie, and for some it is their favorite Pixar film, but it is so overrated (for me). This goes back to 2004 when my dad and little sister went and saw the film, they loved it and kept talking about it. We had a family gathering a few weeks later and everyone had seen it and was talking about how great it was. FINALLY it had come out on dvd and I was so excited to watch, and as it when on I became bored and so disappointed. I am in love (some might say obsessed) with superheroes, so I was convinced this film was made for me. Instead it just made me so upset, I have tried watching it multiple times and I still can’t handle it to this day. (Forgive me).

brave

9. Brave (2012)

I really, really wanted to love this film. 1) it was the first Pixar female protagonist, 2) she was a redhead (and us redheads have to represent), 3) it was set in Scotland (a place I long to go), 4) (and maybe most importantly, since I know this is the reason it beat Wreck-It Ralph for the Oscar) Brave is one of the most gorgeously animated films I have ever seen. Unfortunately it was just flat… Super flat.. Merida is super cool though, and I would rather just leave it at that.

ratatouille

8. Ratatouille (2007)

He was a rat, he was an inspiring chef and together they were a dream team. I don’t really have much to say about this film. It was cute, Patton Oswalt was a delight, and I enjoyed it more than the films I listed earlier. It doesn’t stand out to me as a strong heavyweight, but if it happens to pop up on television I will probably tune in (if nothing else is on and I am a little tired of binge watching).

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7. A Bug’s Life (1998)

Most people don’t, but I adore this movie. Some people preferred Antz, but I praised Pixar’s sophomore film. I was obsessed with Heimlich, oh god, as I write this I realize this was the “Cars” of my generation. For all the people that love Cars, I understand now (but you totally didn’t deserve a sequel).

Finding nemo

6. Finding Nemo (2003)

Although this film is rated relatively high (we are half way through the list, people), I wanted so much more from this film. I remember all the commercials and how the turtles were so awesome, and when I went to see the film (guess what?) the turtles were only in it for 10 minutes. I was probably the only child upset by that. I was so in love with Squirt, and he only spoke a few lines. I resented Nemo for awhile and was irritated with his smart-ass remarks, alas I appreciate him more now. The movie was about him (and not Squirt), so I am still not sure what I was expecting/why I was disappointed. Fin, Noggin’, Dude.

monsters inc

5. Monsters, Inc. (2001)

This is one of those childhood films that I fondly remember. My little sister was obsessed with this movie (because she was convinced she was Boo), and I watched it every time she put it on. It was the goto car ride movie. Even with all of the adorableness this film has, I think it is a gem because you fall in love with all of the characters. It was the first time I really understood the idea of family in film.

4. Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Toy Story 3 (1995, 1999, 2010)

I don’t know how they did it, but Toy Story is one of the only series where each film is equally as good. I grew up with Andy and aged with him between toys and growing up and (soon enough) graduating high school. There is definitely a sentimental tear shed each time I run through this series because it is a coming of age story that happened simultaneously with my life. This film inspired many great things in my life, but probably the best thing it inspired was all of my toys having feelings (which of course means I could never get rid of them, even the scorpion beanie baby that terrified me).

3. Inside Out (2015)

Pixar sure knows how to make it. I cried for roughly 90% of the movie (60% if I’m not being dramatic). It definitely is a film that just clicks with you, when you are older. Most of the kids in the theatre did not pick up on the subtleties of the film, but all the parents surrounding me, who were crying along with me, totally did. Sometimes I don’t think we realize how important all of our emotions are, even the ones that makes us feel like not going outside today. Each foundation of who we are is built upon a mix of emotions, so maybe your happiest memory was one that sprang out of sadness. Before I get too sappy on you, I will leave you with a quote from Tuesdays with Morrie: “If you hold back on the emotions–if you don’t allow yourself to go all the way through them–you can never get to being detached, you’re too busy being afraid. You’re afraid of the pain, you’re afraid of the grief. You’re afraid of the vulnerability that loving entails. But by throwing yourself into these emotions, by allowing yourself to dive in, all the way, over your head even, you experience them fully and completely.”

Wall-e

2. WALL-E (2008)

Who knew a film that said so little, could make you feel so much. A part of me wants to leave it at that one sentence, but I know I should expand. Ah, who cares. If you haven’t seen this film, I am very disappointed. Go out to your local video store and rent it right this moment.

1. Up (2009)

We both knew it was coming to this, I sprinkled it in at the very beginning (the breadcrumbs are there). I will never get over this movie. I have rewatched it so many times and I still cry. The two times I have gotten the pleasure to experience Disney World, I try my best to find all the Up souvenirs that I can. This last time I got to become a Wilderness Explorer and I completed that activity guide like it was nobody’s business (I will leave a picture at the end). I simply love this movie: the love, the heartbreak, the moving on. I take it all. And just like my little sister felt closely connected to Boo, I like to play house with my husband similarly to Carl and Ellie. Altogether, it is the simple things that make my heart swell.

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Best Dressed and Other Fun Things: Oscars Edition

Award shows are great for two reasons: 1) they provide a glimpse into the mind of award winners and losers, 2) the fashion. Last year, I was so upset with the fashion choices that I refused to even create a top 10, but this year the actors and actresses finally brought their “A” game. Few honorable mentions before we get started: 1) Scarlett Johansson looked divine in her emerald Versace dress, unfortunately that neckpiece was a disaster, 2) Zendaya was killing it her Vivienne Westwood gown, 3) snaps for the sultry Jenna Dewan Tatum in Zuhair Murad,  4) America Ferrera dazzled in her Jenny Packham gown, the awkwardness up top held it back from being on the best dressed though.

While the ladies of the night were strutting their stuff like it was New York Fashion Week, the guys were sporting new accessories that aren’t the usual at award shows. You might be curious what I am referencing, but deep down you know that I am talking about the beards. While some of the guys used it to help enhance their looks, others were straight up tripping (I am looking at your weird baby scruff goatee Channing Tatum, and your mess of a beard Matthew McConaughey). Before I start beating a dead horse with beard etiquette, here are the men that got it right.

All About That Oscars

Here comes my favorite time of the year, Oscars night. While we have gotten to enjoy various awards shows, we finally arrive at the end of awards season. Someone is going to be taking home that little guy we know as Oscar, and I will be home watching it all and enjoying a nice glass of wine. So before we get busy with the 6:00 p.m. (central time) fashion show, lets go over who is going to win it all.

Best Supporting Actor

Who will win: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

Who is falling short: Edward Norton, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

J.K. Simmons is owning this awards season. Although Edward Norton delivered an amazing performance, there is no way he is going to be able to crawl up and best Simmons for the grand prize. Simmons deserves this prize; Whiplash was a lackluster film that was boosted by Simmons’ presence. There should be no doubt who is walking home the winner tonight.

Best Supporting Actress

Who will win: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

Who is falling short: Emma Stone, Birdman or (the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

This one just hurts to write. I never really understood the hype behind Boyhood. Sure, the concept of making a film over 12 years is amazing, but the story and acting itself were just okay. While I think Arquette winning highlights the strengths of motherhood and aging actress in Hollywood, I don’t know how I necessarily feel about her performance. Ultimately, there is no doubt on who will win, and if it allows for more strong roles for older actresses then I am okay with it.

Best Actor

Who will win: Michael Keaton, Birdman or (the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Who is falling short: Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

I think this will be the closest nominee race, in the acting category at least. Keaton had currently swept all of the awards, so it will be of little surprise if he takes home the Oscar tonight, but Redmayne delivered a groundbreaking performance as well. Although Redmayne is telling the story of one of the most influential beings alive, I believe Keaton gives a performance that hits close to home.

Best Actress

Who will win: Julianne Moore, Still Alice

Who is falling short: Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night

Cotillard might have shocked a lot of people with her nomination, but I think she is the only other nominee giving Moore a run for her money. Moore will win the award tonight, but it is nice to see an unexpected player in the game. Speaking to Moore’s performance, her acting was powerful and moving. I have always been a big fan of hers and I am so glad she is getting the recognition she deserves.

Best Director

Who will win: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman or (the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Who is falling short: Richard Linklater, Boyhood

Both of these projects are of great complexity and the directing behind them is nothing short of brilliance. Although I am not a fan of Boyhood, I can appreciate the time and effort it took to create the film, but I believe Birdman delivered something that was more potent in both storytelling and directing.

Best Picture

Who will win: Birdman or (the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Who is falling short: Boyhood

Boyhood was the front runner since the beginning of awards season, but Birdman kept defying odds and snagging awards no one thought it would. Best picture is an award that honors excellence in all categories: acting, directing, script, editing, etc. On these levels alone, Birdman is something of a masterpiece. I think Boyhood was a great accomplishment, but I don’t think the story or acting are on the same level as a lot of the movies nominated. Boyhood has an old hollywood feel to it, which I think voters will be attracted to, but I think Birdman shows a new form of filmmaking that should be embraced. For me, this is reminiscent of The King’s Speech versus Black Swan/Social Network race, but I hope not because I didn’t like the outcome the first time around.

5 Ways to Help The Amazing Spider-man 3

(This post contains spoilers about The Amazing Spider-man 2, some links also contain spoilers about the movie, read at your own risk)

I have been a huge fan of the reboot for the Spider-man series. The casting decisions have been brilliant, and I feel like each actor has portrayed their characters perfectly. Most of the complaints I have heard about the new series is that it is the first comic book movie series to focus more on the love story than the actual superhero/villain aspect. This has not bothered me one bit, I feel like Spider-man has always been one of the few characters whose relationships were more iconic than some of his villains. You think of Spider-man and you are as likely to name Mary Jane (or Gwen Stacy if you really dig the comics) as you are Green Goblin. I have always been a Gwen Stacy fan, so I was excited to see how this film would handle that deadly topic that I have been dreading since it first premiered. While I have really enjoyed what Marc Webb has spun together, I think there are a few things needed to keep the series fresh and not cluttered.

5. Justify Why This Series Needs Four Movies

I feel like this series could easily be wrapper into three movies, so I am confused why they even felt the need to sign up for a fourth film that will be released in 2018. From what I have gathered, it sounds like they are trying to rush out both a Venom and a Sinister Six film. Although those films will be awesome, I feel like they are trying to build this movie up to compete with The Avengers levels, since Spider-man will never be apart of The Avengers as long as Sony owns it. Which might not be long after they finish this series. A part of this really disappoints me because I would love to see Andrew Garfield become apart of The Avengers, but will he want to keep doing Spider-man by the time he is finished with this series? Or will Disney even want him to be Spider-man? I could see them going after a younger actor and rebooting the series, unless they see a lot of profit in continuing on with Garfield as Spider-man. Also, Marc Webb will not be attached to fourth film which makes me doubt even more why there should be one. With Webb leaving, I feel like Amazing Spider-man 3 is going to feel more like a conclusion to the storytelling that I have loved.

4. Stop the Tease with Mr. Fierce

Oh sorry, it is Mr. Fiers, to you. Yes, The Amazing Spider-man left us wondering who was talking to Curt Connors at the end of the first film, but when he meets with Harry at the end of The Amazing Spider-man 2 Harry (Dane DeHaan) calls him Mr. Fiers. Gustav Fiers is a character who helps put together the Sinister Six in Adam-Troy Castro‘s trilogy. Harry ordered Mr.Fiers in the end to create a small team. We see the beginning of this with Aleksei Systsevich (Paul Giamatti) being busted out and given his shiny new rhino suit. The Sinister Six looks like it will consist of Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, Rhino, Vulture, Kraven the Hunter and Mysterio. I am guessing that Harry will continue to be the Green Goblin, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Norman Osborn again in the series.

3. Finally Introduce Doc Ock

As it becomes clear that they are trying to push forward the Sinister Six movies, why not introduce one of Spider-man’s greatest villains? That, of course, would be Doctor Octopus. He is, hands down, my favorite villain in Spider-man lure and his portrayal in Spider-man 2 was what made the movie such a hit. He is also the smartest of Spider-man’s foes, which allows him to challenge Peter on multiple levels with his strength and his intellect. And since every villain has been churned out of Oscorp, I would love to see how he comes to be. I think they did a great job with Electro, I know most found him creepy/highly disturbed but I felt bad for him and felt like he was forced into a life of isolation that turned him into the monster we saw in the films. The transformation and insecurities that surrounded Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) make me extremely excited to see how they will create Dr. Otto Gunther Octavius.

2. Show Peter Parker as a Photographer

In the Amazing Spider-man 2 they briefly mention that Peter takes picture of Spider-man for the Daily Bugle. This leads Harry to believe that Peter must know Spider-man personally since he took his picture. While this series touches on it, we have mostly seen Peter be consumed with the identity of Spider-man. I would like to see him reach out in the real world and show him moving around in everyday life. I think we will see this more since he loss his first love (and true love in my opinion) and they need to find a way to connect him to society and introduce Mary Jane, which leads me to my next point…

1. Cast Red-Headed Emma Stone as Mary Jane

A part of this is joking, but a part of me really wants this. I didn’t want Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) to die, I was so happy with her onscreen portrayal that I wanted her to stay forever, but I knew that was too much to ask for. I am still haunted by that scene in the movie. It is so fast and the final action when you see it in slow motion makes it sting. I still hear the thud as she hits the concrete. I do not know if I can ever get that image out of my mind. Even if her death haunts my dream, I know that they will not be able to hire a Mary Jane that has better chemistry with Andrew Garfield than Emma Stone. That is more than movie magic chemistry, it is simply love. Originally they had cast Shailene Woodley as Mary Jane, but her part was cut out of this movie and I see her role in the film being cut out as well. As they ponder keeping her as Mary Jane or find a new one, I secretly desire that Emma Stone be considered. But alas, this is merely a fantasy but I do hope they find a deserving red-head and they don’t settle for an actress who is the current it girl.

Playing House: David O. Russell’s Romantic Realism

“I felt like we had a secret, just the two of us. Like that thing where you just wanna be with one person all the time. You feel like the two of you get something no one else gets,” (American Hustle). This is how it feels when watching a David O. Russell film: a newly found relationship between Russell and the audience. He is able to achieve this by using the realistic approach of a romanticized subject which he is able to translate into two hours of character driven, comedic pleasure. David O. Russell first brings you into the heart of the community with The Fighter, later on he brings you home to meet the family with Silver Linings Playbook, and then things get beautifully complicated as you slowly get to see his true identity with American Hustle. David O. Russell plays house with a loose trilogy dealing with a romantic approach to everyday life.

David O. Russell developed a new style of filmmaking when he made a trilogy of films that dealt with the topic of neighborhood, family, and identity. This collection included The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook, and American Hustle, where he touches base with all of these topics and emphasizes one in particular for each film. The Fighter, which is the first of these films, is inspired by a true story that revolves around Micky Ward, a man struggling to break away from the working class Massachusetts upbringing by taking a chance to develop a boxing career. While the story revolves around his family, it truly shines when it focuses on Micky’s neighborhood and how that influenced the way he fights. Russell wanted to take that impact inflicted upon Micky by the community through on location filming. This included a real gym where Dicky trained his brother Micky, an apartment in downtown Lowell and a bar where Micky meets and pursues the bartender[1]. This allowed the film to have an accurate portrayal of a community and its people. Also, Russell demanded authentic Boston accents from his actors instead of sticking to a traditional American accent. This included Welsh actor Christian Bale, who recorded conversations with the person his character was based on so he could learn to mimic his voice[2]. This embedded feel for the community is what helped deliver the film’s core message of an against all odds local hero story. By approaching this story in a realistic manner with on location filming in Massachusetts, Russell was able to romanticize how a community is able to affect the way one is able to move through life. Micky’s feeling of disappointment from the community was what helped him continue to grow and improve himself, and Russell was able to bring this idea to light. He continued this notion with his next film, Silver Linings Playbook.

David O Russell was inspired when he first got his hands on Silver Linings Playbook because it dealt with a topic he was familiar with; Russell’s oldest son is bipolar[3]. Silver Linings Playbook centers on Pat, a man struggling with his bipolar disorder, which is discovered after he violently attacks a man who he finds sleeping with his wife. There were many ways to approach the topic of a mental disorder, but Russell decided to focus on how it affects the family as a whole.
Silver Linings Playbook was an enormous emotional thing for me because it was like taking all the anguish of the experience with our son that has been an ingrown struggle and bringing it into the light of day,” Russell said (Galloway 72). When finding a balance for the film, Russell relied on Robert De Niro’s character to showcase the way to keep the angst at bay, something Russell learned through his journey of filmmaking (Galloway 74). Even more so, Russell wanted to play up on the dysfunctional way Pat’s family interacts with one another, which included a crazy ritual for watching Philadelphia Eagle games. Instead of shying away from the controversy, Russell honed in on how people are at the mercy of their feelings[4]. There are several scenes in the film that show how Pat deals with situations compared to a normal person, such as hurling a copy of “A Farewell to Arms” out of his attic and then maniacally running to tell his parents of his frustration with the novel. Russell’s choice of letting him tell his parents of his frustration compared to dealing with them alone granted the audience a glimpse how a mental disorder can bring a family together and tear them apart at the same time. Ultimately, being able to grow and love as a family is the takeaway from Russell’s film. That is why most of the scenes in the film are filled with Pat’s dysfunctional family compared to just Pat alone. Russell’s choice of exploring the dynamic between Pat and his family is what made the film the feel good movie of the year. Russell continued to weave this type of storytelling when he went into making his last film of the trilogy, American Hustle.

When David O. Russell went into making American Hustle, he struggled with finding a direction. He finally found his light when he “kept telling the story of the film from the different perspectives… a colorful and enchanting world, and an intimate and raw feel,” (Dillon 30). In American Hustle we are greeted with several characters looking for something better as they try to survive in a world ran on lies. For example, Irving Rosenfeld is a self-made conman who does whatever is needed to continue on in this dog eat dog world. His mistress, Sydney Prosser, fakes her way through daily situations to gain what is needed. His wife, Rosalyn Rosenfeld, uses her son to keep Irving from walking out the door. Lastly, the cop who turned his world upside down, Richie DiMaso, is digging for his big break and will stop at nothing to make his way to the top. David O. Russell specifically manufactured each of these characters to bring to light the desperateness for each person to find where they belong. “They all have to be woven together in a way that is frightening, surprising, heartbreaking, enchanting — all those emotions that I love,” Russell noted in an interview (Galloway 73). Although each character was woven together, the story really shined with scenes between Irving Rosenfeld and Sydney Prosser. Irving and Sydney both faked their way through life, but together they were able to be who they wanted to be. For example, Sydney puts on a fake British accent and automatically becomes Lady Edith Greensly to everyone with only Irving seeing her true identity. This is similar to Irving who was forced into a conman lifestyle, when he truly longed for a family lifestyle where he didn’t need to lie to survive. These characters are drawn to each other by their need to survive and find a safe haven in one another that no one else can offer. The mask they put on for everyone else is what allowed American Hustle to grow away from the ABSCAM storyline, and emphasize more on how David O. Russell threshes out characters and their development. This is something Russell focused on when making The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook, and American Hustle.

Each of these three films Russell became entangled with, he grew away from the story and zoned in how characters makes things possible. When talking about the films as a whole, Russell said “it’s about very specific characters with their very specific worlds, and they’re as dramatic and emotional as they are funny. They have their enchantments. The way they drink, eat, dance, make love and listen to music is as important to me as the story,” (Dillon 30). This is what allowed this collection of films to thrive. It is a continuing story of growing up, figuring things out, and relying on the others to help get you by. David O Russell does not fit the conventional standards of filmmaking because he strives to tell a story that uses the little details as motivation for a story of multiple people becoming a family.

 

[1] The Fighter filming locations in Lowell, Massachusetts

[2] An interview titled “Letting His Role Do the Talking,” by Dennis Lim

[3] Russell touches base in “American Hustler,” on why he was drawn to Silver Linings Playbook, by Stephen Galloway. Print article, not found on web.

[4] See Periodical on David O. Russell with Silver Linings Playbook, by Benjamin Endsley Klein.