My Oscar Picks For The 89th Annual Academy Awards

I say this pretty much every year lately but I really don’t care about the Oscar nominees & winners anymore. The Academy is so out of touch with the general public’s opinion. Okay – I admit to being a film snob so, when I say “general public”, I mean us crazy fans of cinema. I mean people like you guys, my fellow movie bloggers. We should be the Oscar voters! 😉 If we left it up to only the general public & box office take, Oscars would go to shit like Fifty Shades. But that would still almost be better than going to undeserving movies that usually win because of behind the scenes Hollywood politics.

I’ll still watch the show, though, like I have for many many years now. I even continued watching it after moving to the UK, even though it means I have to stay up all night since it’s on in the middle of the night here. Why do I do it?! I dunno. Tradition, I guess.

I also do this post every year although, once again, I’ve seen hardly any of the nominees. Only two of the Best Picture nominees! Out of eight?? That’s pathetic, I know. To be fair, we were once again a bit screwed over in the UK. Hidden Figures & Moonlight have only been out for a week here and I’ve not had a chance to go to them. I badly wanted to see Manchester By The Sea & wanted to see Portman in Jackie but they had limited showings at a time I was too busy. As always, these Oscar-worthy films get pretty quickly replaced by more mainstream films so, if you don’t get to them right away, you’re out of luck. I like the sound of Lion so will watch it eventually and I’m kind of kicking myself for not watching Hell Or High Water after the hubby went to it & said it was really good. I may have the evening to myself so am tempted to rent it tonight…

I’ll give a quick list of links to my reviews of all the nominated movies that I’ve actually seen. Haha! Looking at it now, it’s a funny list. How obvious is it that, if you have kids, they rule your life?? And I wouldn’t change that for the world! 🙂 It just means that I’ve seen pretty much every kids’ film nomininated for anything. Including that stupid Trolls movie. Yeah. Trolls is up for an Oscar but Amy Adams isn’t. Screw you, Academy!

After that, I’ll list all the nominees for each category and what I WANT to win each Oscar and what I think WILL win each Oscar. And I’m certainly making no bets this year – I’m completely clueless and uninformed. Again, though, I just do this out of tradition I guess. And, as always, I pick my favorite sounding title from things like the documentaries & shorts because I know NOTHING about any of them. 😉 Especially this year. Yep – I fully admit it. If the Oscar clips make them look good, though, I’ll then look into them.

Here we go! And I’m happy to hear opinions from those of you who watched more than just kids’ films last year. 😉 And if Arrival wins EVERYTHING like it should, I may take back all my bitchy comments about The Academy. (It won’t)

All The Nominees I’ve Seen:

Arrival
La La Land
Nocturnal Animals
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Zootopia
Kubo and the Two Strings
Moana
Trolls
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
The Jungle Book
Piper

NOMINEES:

Best Picture:
Arrival (WANT!!!!!)
Fences
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land (WILL)
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Moonlight

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

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

Best Actress:
Emma Stone, La La Land
Natalie Portman, Jackie (WANT & hopefully WILL)
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins
Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Ruth Negga, Loving

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

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

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Moonlight
Arrival (WANT & hopefully WILL)
Fences
Lion
Hidden Figures

Best Original Screenplay:
Manchester by the Sea (WILL)
La La Land
Hell or High Water (WANT)
The Lobster
20th Century Women

Best Foreign Language Film:
Toni Erdmann (WANT & WILL)
The Salesman
Land of Mine
Tanna
A Man Called Ove

Best Documentary Feature:
O.J.: Made in America
13th
Fire at Sea
I Am Not Your Negro
Life Animated (WANT & WILL. Why? I like the name the most. I don’t know what any of these are about. Although I assume the first one is about O.J. Simpson??)

Best Animated Feature:
Zootopia (If this wins, I’m gonna throw something at the TV)
Kubo and the Two Strings (WANT)
The Red Turtle
My Life As a Zucchini
Moana (WILL)

Best Film Editing:
La La Land (WILL)
Moonlight
Arrival (WANT)
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water

Best Original Song:
“City of Stars,” La La Land (WILL)
“Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” La La Land
“How Far I’ll Go,” Moana
“Can’t Stop the Feeling,” Trolls (WANT, although the movie sucks ass)
“The Empty Chair,” Jim: The James Foley Story

Best Original Score:
La La Land (WILL)
Lion
Jackie
Moonlight
Passengers (WANT. Not seen it but Thomas Newman deserves an Oscar.)

Best Cinematography:
La La Land
Moonlight
Arrival (WANT & hopefully WILL)
Silence
Lion

Best Costume Design:
Florence Foster Jenkins
La La Land
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Allied
Jackie (WANT & WILL)

Best Makeup and Hairstyling:
Star Trek Beyond
A Man Called Ove
Suicide Squad (WANT & WILL)

Best Production Design:
La La Land (WILL)
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Hail, Caesar!
Arrival (WANT)
Passengers

Best Sound Editing:
Hacksaw Ridge
Arrival (WANT & WILL)
Deepwater Horizon
La La Land
Sully

Best Sound Mixing:
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Arrival (WANT & WILL)
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

Best Visual Effects:
The Jungle Book (WILL)
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (WANT)
Kubo and the Two Strings (Also Want)
Doctor Strange
Deepwater Horizon

Best Short Film, Live Action:
Timecode (WANT & WILL. Yeah, I’ve just chosen the most interesting sounding title again.)
Silent Nights
La Femme et le TGV
Ennemis Interieurs
Sing

Best Short Film, Animated:
Piper (WANT & WILL) (Very unlikely it will but it’s the only one I’ve seen & it’s adorable.)
Pearl
Borrowed Time
Blind Vaysha
Pear Cider and Cigarettes

Best Documentary, Short Subject:
Joe’s Violin
The White Helmets
Extremis (WANT & WILL. And, again, I’ve just chosen a title I like…)
Watani: My Homeland
4.1 Miles

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Arrival (2016) Review

Arrival (2016)

Directed by Denis Villeneuve

Based on Story Of Your Life by Ted Chiang

Starring: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg, Tzi Ma

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A linguist is recruited by the military to assist in translating alien communications.

My Opinion:

YES!!!! This is good sci-fi. This is what I wanted when I watched Interstellar & was left extremely disappointed. This is intelligent sci-fi that doesn’t feel the need to dumb things down for its audience but also isn’t up its own self-important arse (like, you know, Interstellar). I didn’t look at my watch once while watching this & wonder if the movie was in fact five hours long (like I did with, you know, Interstellar). Okay – I’ll shut up about the massively overrated Interstellar now (I promise!). I’m just happy that Arrival is a great high-concept sci-fi film that can easily stand alongside some of the best classics of its genre (unlike a 2014 Christopher Nolan-directed, Matthew McConaughey-starring sci-fi film that shall remain nameless).

Arrival is a movie of two parts (like all the very best science fiction films): The cool alien shit and how humanity deals with their arrival as well as the more personal “human story” (involving the character of Amy Adams) at its heart. I’m not one for overly-sentimental stories in films as they so often feel contrived but Arrival handles the story involving Adams and her personal life beautifully & I found it very moving and not at all cloying (like I may have found with another film I won’t mention but that starts with the letter I).

I’m not great at handling these emotional films! Between Arrival, Room & Nocturnal Animals (although that Amy Adams film, which I reviewed HERE yesterday, was emotional in the completely opposite way), 2016 has been quite a year for movies that had me reeling with their sheer intensity. By the way – Room was 2016 in the UK so don’t correct me. 😉

Anyway, my “reeling” comment sounded corny. Sorry! But I’m not sure how else to describe that feeling you get from those films that are so well-made, through I suppose a combination of great directing, acting, cinematography, story, atmosphere, music, etc etc, that you end up fully immersed in the world of the film. It’s weird – movies seem to be getting worse & worse in recent years but the GOOD ones are actually getting better & better. There’s a huge divide now between the (many) bad films and the (sadly far fewer) films that are so amazingly good that they almost transcend reality. Okay – that really did sound corny.

My point is this: Arrival is possibly one of the transcendent ones. I knew I’d struggle writing about it but I’ve thought about it a lot since seeing it a week & a half ago. With movies like these, I don’t like to write about them until I’ve had enough time to sort out my thoughts. I currently have this ranked just below Room on my 2016 list as it still didn’t manage to move me quite as much as Jacob Tremblay’s scarily good performance in that. However, Arrival is the better film overall. The look, the story, the relationships (particularly the main one involving Amy Adams), the message, the aliens(!)… There’s nothing I love more than a good alien film! I loved Arrival & movies like these are what keep me watching & loving them despite having to sift through so many bad ones.

I’m not great with words (making this blogging thing a massive struggle) so I’ll just leave it at this: Arrival is a damn good film. I’d love to hear from anyone who feels the same. Or even anyone who feels differently and prefers science fiction movies starring Anne Hathaway & directed by Jonathan Nolan’s brother. And, please oh please, will you discuss Nocturnal Animals with me in the comments of that review if you’ve seen it??? That movie absolutely floored me. You’ve had one hell of a month, Amy Adams!

My Rating: 9/10

Nocturnal Animals (2016) Review

Nocturnal Animals (2016)

Directed by Tom Ford

Based on Tony and Susan by Austin Wright

Starring: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher, Armie Hammer, Laura Linney, Andrea Riseborough, Michael Sheen

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
An art gallery owner is haunted by her ex-husband’s novel, a violent thriller she interprets as a veiled threat and a symbolic revenge tale.

My Opinion:

Well! This movie was certainly… interesting? I love Amy Adams but sci-fi is my type of thing so Arrival is the only one I’d planned on going to see (it’s EXCELLENT, by the way – I’m posting my review tomorrow). Hubby saw Nocturnal Animals then was weirdly insistent on me seeing it too while being cryptic as to if it would actually be worth my time. Now I understand: This is one of those movies you want other people to see so you can talk about it & discuss your theories on the meaning of the symbolism and the different characters’ actions & intentions and, umm……. Okay – This is one of those movies you want other people to see so they can maybe tell you what the f*^k is going on. 😉

Was Nocturnal Animals worth my time? Yes. It’s easily in my top ten 2016 movie releases now & I’d be surprised if it’s not still there by December 31st. But it’s a difficult watch and I can’t exactly say I had a “fun time” watching it. I highly doubt I’ll ever watch it again and, quite frankly, I’m pretty sure I don’t want to. It’s intensely disturbing and I was kind of glad when it finished. Am I selling this one to you yet?! Ha! I’m pretty sure I’ll never be asked to contribute a quote for a movie’s poster.

I’m not trying to dissuade anyone from seeing this. In fact, I very highly recommend it. However, I’d only recommend it to a small selection of people who I think would appreciate it, like several of my fellow movie bloggers who may be reading this. You just need to be warned of what you’re getting into if you watch Nocturnal Animals: I guarantee you’ll either love this or you’ll think it’s the most pretentiously boring piece of shit you’ve seen in a long time. There’s my movie poster quote for this!

I always say this but I turn to movies for escapism, which is probably why I go for sci-fi & fantasy and never for gritty realism. I don’t like the ugliness in this world so I don’t enjoy things like true crime dramas, serial killer movies, etc. I say that because this movie is partly “gritty crime drama”. Well, it is yet it isn’t… Just be warned that these parts of the film contain violence more extreme than I’d been expecting (hubby – you could’ve warned me, dude!). The gritty parts are necessary, though, as you start to realize the full meaning behind them so I managed to muddle through despite finding these scenes very uncomfortable.

I’ll try to stay as spoiler-free as possible with this review but I think it’s safe to say that this movie is a story within a story (the book written by the ex-husband of Amy Adams, which she reads throughout the movie). So we go back and forth between Adams & the story in the book which, on the surface, is nothing more than a standard pulpy crime drama. But it IS something much more than that & only Adams and her ex-husband (and hopefully the film’s audience) will be aware of that.

I often don’t go for the “story within a story” thing (er, unless it’s The Princess Bride… Best. Movie. Ever.) but I was completely engrossed every time the movie went back to the book’s crime drama story. Yes, the story feels like formulaic “pulp” (probably why the ex-husband, Jake Gyllenhaal, apparently never made it big as an author) yet it’s so intense & so brilliantly acted that you’re drawn into this story far more than the real-life story of Adams and her superficial art gallery world. But that’s the whole point: Unlike Adams’ real-life extravagant lifestyle, the book’s “fictional” world feels far more real & is full of a raw emotion that I’ve rarely seen captured so well on screen. Honestly, I found these scenes so profoundly & disturbingly moving that credit must be given to everyone involved in their making whether you like the movie or not. Though extremely upsetting, I found this film to be one of the most immersive movie experiences I’ve had since seeing Room, although the emotional effect was the exact opposite (Room filled me with pure joy).

As always, Adams is very good with an understated performance but it’s Gyllenhaal who really shines in what is actually the far more important role. I’ve never been a big fan of his and, though I’ve seen him in plenty of highly regarded roles, I think this is the film that has finally made me appreciate him as an actor. I also loved Michael Shannon in quite a small role as the sheriff in the book’s story. Again, he’s someone highly regarded yet I’ve paid him little attention so, for any of his fans reading this, this movie is worth you checking out just for his role. I can’t guarantee you’ll like the actual movie but he’s fantastic.

I know this is only fashion designer Tom Ford’s second film and I’ve not seen A Single Man but I definitely want to see more from him after this. I think there’s some true brilliance in this film that will unfortunately be too casually regarded as pretentious. I can totally understand why it would be labelled as such, though, as it initially appears that way with beautifully artistic shots & with rich art world snobs moaning about their superficial problems. But the movie itself is the same as book’s story within the film: On the surface it’s superficial & formulaic but deep down it’s an allegorical tale. Wait… The movie is an allegory of itself! No. Um… The book in the movie is an allegory of the real life story in the movie while the movie itself is an allegory of… Something! Maybe. I just like throwing the word “allegory” around. Trust me, there’s some crazy allegorical shit going on here. I’m sure of it!

Is the film itself as deep as its story within a story? I don’t know. My mind is still working on that but I like that I’m still thinking about this movie days after watching it. That’s what I consider true art and only a handful of movies play on my mind for days afterwards. Nocturnal Animals is definitely not for everyone but, if you’re someone who wants something more than just pure entertainment, you may be the type to find this movie an intensely rewarding experience. Or you may just be pretentious. 😉

My Rating: 8/10

**To all the pretentious snobs like me who’ve seen this movie, feel free to discuss it with me in the comments! Full-on spoilers allowed, so avoid reading the comments if you’ve not yet seen this – I think it’s not yet out in America? I want to talk about this one. I want to discuss the parallels in the movie’s story & movie book’s story. The meaning of some of the imagery. The overall meaning of the movie: is it deep like the film’s book or superficial like the film’s real-world. What was with all the naked butts?!? The real life book this is based on (as opposed to the book within the movie) – has anyone read it? Should I dye my hair the same color as Amy Adams in the hope that I’ll look exactly like her? Discuss! 🙂

Catch Me If You Can (2002) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Satu of Fairytale Pictures. Thanks for the review, Satu! 🙂 Now let’s see what she thought of Catch Me If You Can, IMDB rank 240 out of 250…

There are another 16 movies available if anyone wants to do a guest review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos at the top of any of these guest reviews.

Catch Me If You Can (2002)

I originally wrote this review/summary for my scriptwriting course, so there’s more plot details that I usually include but change is good, right? I also added some points. Hope you enjoy reading it. Spoilers ahead.

Sometimes it’s easier living the lie​​​​

Catch Me If You Can is a crime dramedy based on a biography of Frank Abagnale Jr., American con-man who succeeded in forging millions of dollars of fake checks while pretending to be a Pan-Am pilot, a doctor and a lawyer, all that before his 19th birthday. The film is directed by Steven Spielberg. It was released 2002 and stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a main character Frank Abagnale Jr., Tom Hanks as a federal officer Hanratty chasing him and Christopher Walken is Frank Sr.

I saw Catch Me If You Can for the first time when it was released in Finland in 2003. I liked it back then and I liked it this time even more, probably because I paid more attention to the details of the film. Spielberg knows how to do details, his films are always looking and sounding great. The film is not overly emotional, so, even though I’m quite emotional person, I didn’t cry during the film. Mostly I guess I was exhilarated and afterwards relieved and in the end, disappointed, at least a bit. The main character is likeable and a con-man, so it’s easy to get excited for him and feel relieved after he manages his mischiefs. Disappointed-part is debatable.

(SPOILERS IN THIS PART) “Sometimes it’s easier living the lie”, says Hanratty at the end of the film. The phrase summarizes the film. Catch Me If You Can is a story of responsibility, growing up and bringing up. It’s a story of owning up. The film might be an adventure to viewer but it also makes you think what is justified in order to get around in one’s life. But in the end, I figure that Catch Me If You Can is a bit too much of a “lesson” about what kind of life you should live. And that is what let me down; the film ended up being one those familiar stories; bad childhood, rebelling child, moral aberrations and again, happily ever after. I kind of wished a bit more demanding ending, I guess.

Even though Spielberg has yet again a child as his lead, Catch Me If You Can is very stylish crime thriller. It has this adult feel and I believe children or even teens would be bored while watching it. The film must be PG because there’s basically no violence and very little of sex and nudity but the story and especially how it’s told tells that the target audience is civilized, smart adults who has taste and style. Catch Me If You Can has jamesbondish vibe to it without the sexual content. One of the Abagnale’s alter-ego is even named Mr. Fleming.

All of the actors are great; obviously. What else would you wait from DiCaprio, Hanks and Walken? Amy Adams also makes unforgettable role in the film as Abagnale’s love interest. That must have been one of the bigger roles in the beginning of her career. Catch Me If You Can got two Oscar nominations for Walken as Frank’s dad, deservedly so, he’s heartbreaking in a small kind of a way, and un-surprisingly to John Williams who smartly scored the film, I liked the music a lot. DiCaprio was also nominated for the Golden Globe. All in all, the film is good, solid 8/10 but it misses the last punch.

My Top Ten Amy Adams Movies

Happy Birthday to Amy Adams, who turns 41 today!

Yes, I needed a quick & easy Top Ten this week so I did my usual lazy thing of looking up celebrity birthdays. 😉 Adams was the only one worthwhile today – I really like her so was surprised to find that some people find her annoying. Look at her in that picture – she’s so adorable! Wish I looked like that. Anyway, I’ve liked her ever since her Oscar-nominated performance in Junebug.

So now, counting down from ten, these are My Top Ten Amy Adams Movies:

**List updated 20/08/17 to include Arrival, Nocturnal Animals & Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice

10. The Fighter

9. Night At The Museum 2 (I mention it in my review of the third film)

8. Enchanted

7. The Muppets

6. Junebug

5. Sunshine Cleaning

4. Nocturnal Animals

3. Her

2. Catch Me If You Can

1. Arrival

The remainder of her movies that I’ve seen:

American Hustle
Big Eyes
Tenacious D In The Pick Of Destiny (she was in this?! Lol. I should watch it again – I like The D)
Julie & Julia
Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day
The Wedding Date
Leap Year
Man Of Freaking Steel
Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice (OMG! Even worse than Man Of Steel!)

Big Eyes (2014) Review

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Big Eyes (2014)

Directed by Tim Burton

Starring:
Amy Adams
Christoph Waltz
Danny Huston
Jon Polito
Krysten Ritter
Jason Schwartzman
Terence Stamp

Running time: 106 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film focuses on American artist Margaret Keane (Adams), whose work was fraudulently claimed in the 1950s and 1960s by her then-husband, Walter Keane (Waltz), and their heated divorce trial after Margaret accused Walter of stealing credit for her paintings.

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My Opinion:

Tim Burton. Oh Tim Burton. Remember when you made stuff like Edward Scissorhands? Remember how awesome that movie was?! What the hell happened?

Okay, we all know how disappointing Tim Burton’s films have become in recent years. Is Big Eyes a return to Burton’s glory days? Unfortunately not. But at least it’s better than things like Charlie & The Chocolate Factory and Alice In Wonderland. Burton plays it safe with Big Eyes – he just tells an interesting story in a straightforward way (except for a brief bit that looks like Soundgarden’s Black Hole Sun video but that was to be expected, really, based on the look of Margaret Keane’s “big eye” paintings). It’s not exactly going to be anyone’s all-time favorite movie as it doesn’t have the originality or magic of things like Edward Scissorhands or The Nightmare Before Christmas but it’s a decent enough look at an artist’s real life story.

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I feel like I say this with every “true story” movie but I knew nothing about the story of Margaret Keane beforehand. It’s a fascinating story and a reminder of how glad I am to not have been a woman living in the 1950s or 60s. Amy Adams does a good job & is the highlight of the film. I’d heard some negative things about Christoph Waltz in this and was hoping they weren’t true as I thought he was amazing in Django Unchained. Maybe he’s only at his best when working with Tarantino? Maybe the role in Big Eyes just wasn’t quite right for him? Maybe it’s just because the character of Walter Keane is SUCH an unlikable prick and watching him control his wife and take credit for her work is uncomfortable to watch? I don’t know but, unfortunately, I didn’t like Christoph Waltz in this role.

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Honestly, I can’t think of anything else to say about this movie. Other than: Is it me, or does Amy Adams have a hairy face? In a couple scenes where the light was shining on her chin, she seemed to have tiny whiskers. Where am I going with this review?? Sorry! I have a massive headache & my mind is elsewhere. I’ve decided no one actually reads these reviews anyway, right? I think people just scroll to the rating. 😉 Meh. This movie is fine. The story is interesting. I’ll never watch it again. Those paintings are weird.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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I haven’t done one of these in ages – Here’s a Tim Burton Haiku:

Edward Scissorhands!
Then Willy Wonka remake?
Why, Tim Burton, Why?!

I was totally distracted while writing this review so I texted my hubby my shitty Tim Burton haiku. He went a little haiku crazy & texted these back to me. Yeah, these are the important kinds of conversations we have with each other… 😉

Beetlejuice PeeWee
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Need more like these, Tim

What mischief follows
Beetlejuice beetlejuice bee…
Just fuckin’ with ya.. ;-p

His muses depart
Helena Bonham Carter
And Lisa Marie

Birds nest for hairdo
Gothic daydreams his playground
Don’t keep using Depp

Top Ten Actresses I’d Watch In Pretty Much Anything

Okay – it was fun bitching about my most hated actors & actresses last week but now it’s time to do another list that Abbi of Where The Wild Things Are has done. You can see her list of “The Top Ten Actresses That I’d See In Pretty Much AnythingHERE. So here’s my own list of actresses I love. (Yes – I do love Drew Barrymore!). 🙂

With my favorite actors list, I’ve had to narrow it down by only including living actors so I’ve done the same here. Otherwise, Grace Kelly would be on this list. Now here are The Ten Actresses I’d Watch In Pretty Much Anything (in no particular order…):

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Amy Adams
Best Movie: Her or Catch Me If You Can but she was lovely in Junebug

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Emily Blunt
Best Movie: Edge Of Tomorrow but I also love The Adjustment Bureau

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Melanie Laurent
Best Movie: Inglourious Basterds

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Jennifer Lawrence
Best Movie: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

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Drew Barrymore
Best Movie: E.T. The Extra Terrestrial but I also love The Wedding Singer & Whip It

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Chloe Grace Moretz
Best Movie: Hugo

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Sandra Bullock
Best Movie: Gravity but I do love Speed. (Gravity helped to put Bullock back on this list. But I still wouldn’t watch that thing she did with Melissa McCarthy. Damn! I missed her on my “Most Annoying” list…

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Carey Mulligan
Best Movie: Shame but she was better in Never Let Me Go. (If I’ve forgotten someone, Carey Mulligan would be the first one replaced. I found her disappointing in Shame and beyond bland in The Great Gatsby. Hopefully she’ll have another good role soon…)

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Elisabeth Shue
Best Movie: Adventures In Babysitting

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Michelle Pfeiffer
Best Movie: Ladyhawke

Her (2013) Review

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Her (2013)

Directed by Spike Jonze

Starring:
Joaquin Phoenix
Amy Adams
Rooney Mara
Olivia Wilde
Scarlett Johansson

Music by Arcade Fire

Running time: 126 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Her is a 2013 American science fiction romantic drama film written, directed, and produced by Spike Jonze. The film centers on a man who develops a relationship with an intelligent computer operating system (OS) with a female voice and personality.

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My Opinion:

Finally! Finally this came out in the UK! Then I just barely managed to see it as it played for one week then pretty much disappeared from all local cinemas. So annoying! Anyway – I was really looking forward to this and went to it with pretty high expectations, which isn’t always a good thing. Well, it was actually even better than I’d been expecting.

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I’m writing this as I watch Captain Phillips as I’m so behind on this blog and on watching all these nominated movies before the Oscars. I’m distracted so I’ll keep this short. I wondered before watching this what sort of direction they could possibly take with what seems like a pretty simple (if unusual) concept. I was pleasantly surprised at some of the things they did with this story. I (like all of us) watch lots of movies so most are totally predictable but this one did leave me guessing and did surprise me a couple of times, which was great.

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As for the “relationship”, I didn’t know beforehand if I’d be able to buy into it. But I did. It’s very well written (as I expected from Spike Jonze) and, thanks to great performances from Joaquin Phoenix & Scarlett Johansson, I totally did believe they were in love. Funny thing is that I normally find Johansson’s voice really annoying yet in this I thought it was perfect. Actually, I think this was probably the best performance we’ve ever had out of her. I’ve also never exactly been a fan of Joaquin Phoenix but he’s great in this! It’s a shame he’s not up for an Oscar. I’m glad the film & screenplay are up for Oscars as I think they’re certainly deserving of the nominations although I know wins are very unlikely. I’d love to see this win for screenplay at the very least as it’s very clever & I wish films like this got made more often. And, again – this is another best picture nominee that’s better than American Hustle! All that I’ve seen so far have been.

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The film looks beautiful, everyone gives a very good performance (especially the two leads), it’s dramatic yet has really funny moments (Alien child cracked me up!), it’s clever and very well written, and it does a good job exploring all the different kinds of love and how wonderful and painful it can be. I loved little things like the safety pin. But god those pirates are being REALLY mean to sweet Tom Hanks! Okay – I’m too distracted. I’ll just finish this review by saying: I loved Her and I wish there were more films like it.

My Rating: 8.5/10

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**I’ve finished Captain Phillips before this is scheduled to post so I’m going to rank the only best picture nominees I’ve seen. Because I’m anal like that! Starting with my favorite:

1. The Wolf Of Wall Street
2. Her
3. Gravity
4. Dallas Buyers Club
5. American Hustle
6. Captain Phillips

(2 & 3 are close – I may change my mind. I do that a lot.) 🙂

American Hustle (2013) Review

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American Hustle (2013)

Directed by David O Russell

Starring:
Christian Bale
Bradley Cooper
Amy Adams
Jeremy Renner
Jennifer Lawrence
Louis C.K.

Running time: 138 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
American Hustle is loosely based on the FBI ABSCAM operation of the late 1970s and early ’80s. It stars Christian Bale and Amy Adams as two con artists who are forced by an FBI agent (played by Bradley Cooper) to set up an elaborate sting operation on corrupt politicians, including the mayor of Camden, New Jersey (played by Jeremy Renner). Jennifer Lawrence supports the cast as the unpredictable wife of Bale’s character.

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My Opinion:

Be brief… Be brief… (Trying to make myself keep this short – I ramble on too much!)

This movie was good. Not great. A little overrated. (Sorry). I came away from it with the same sort of feeling I had after finally watching Silver Linings Playbook recently. Some very good performances in both films but, overall, something is missing. They both feel a little hollow. And come to think of it, I felt sort of the same way about The Fighter (I reviewed that in my early days HERE. Ugh – I should re-read that before linking to it. My old reviews were even worse than my current ones).

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Like with the other David O Russell films I’ve seen, it’s more about the performances in this one than the story itself. Don’t get me wrong – the story is okay but didn’t exactly blow me away. I was more excited to see the female actresses in this than the actors as I don’t really like Bradley Cooper or, especially, Christian Bale. However, Bale ended up being the best thing about the film – I really warmed to his character by the end of the movie. I love Amy Adams and think she also did a good job in this (and I loved all her 70’s outfits even though seeing so much of her boobs got a little disturbing after a while when I just watched her as a Disney Princess in Enchanted the other day). Lawrence & Cooper were good but I felt a bit like I’d just watched them doing somewhat similar characters in Silver Linings Playbook.

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Summary:

American Hustle has a lot of the elements I like: Great actors & performances, decent script, good music (ELO!), and the 70s (I love that ugly-ass decade). But something about it didn’t QUITE work (for me) overall. It was good. I enjoyed it. Bale & Adams were great. It’s the first film I’ve gone to in 2014 but I already know where it’ll rank in my end of year list: somewhere in the middle. I’m looking forward to The Wolf Of Wall Street more, which comes out here on Friday. Will be interesting to see which one I prefer.

My Rating: 7/10

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Man Of Steel (2013) Review

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Man Of Steel

Directed by Zack Snyder

Produced by
Christopher Nolan
Charles Roven
Emma Thomas
Deborah Snyder

Starring
Henry Cavill
Amy Adams
Michael Shannon
Diane Lane
Kevin Costner
Laurence Fishburne
Antje Traue
Ayelet Zurer
Russell Crowe

Music by Hans Zimmer

Plot Synopsis:

Honestly, I can’t be bothered. Lol! It’s Superman. You know the general plot.

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My Opinion (no spoilers):

My reviews have gotten way too wordy. This movie will have already been reviewed a lot (I’m looking forward to catching up on all your great reviews here now that I’ve seen this). So I’m going to try to keep this short & sweet by doing my “good” and “not so good” thing.

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The Good:

– The casting. It was excellent. So many people in this were the exact right choices for their roles. I thought the very best were actually Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane and Michael Shannon. Now, Crowe and Costner are NOT actors I like all that much. But they were bloody PERFECT in these roles. And, luckily, Crowe doesn’t sing in this one. Lol. As for Superman himself, Henry Cavill, he seemed the right choice. I’ve only just seen this so still thinking about it. He certainly has the perfect look to play Superman (as I picture Superman which, to my mind because of my age, is mostly Christopher Reeve). I know nothing of the comics (give me a break – I’m a girl). :-p But his look seems just right. And Amy Adams is my favorite actress so I’ll say nothing bad about her. She’s sweet and has an adorable little nose. But she’s the one my hubby didn’t think fit the part. I dunno. I’ll let others decide on that – I just like her as an actress.

– The beginning. It was a little hard to get into at first as it’s very different from the 1978 Superman I grew up with and have an affection for even though I know it’s far from perfect. But thinking about it now, I really liked how Man Of Steel started. It was great seeing so much of his world and getting to know more of his backstory than I previously knew (I have very little Superman knowledge).

– Superman’s families. On his home world and on Earth. As I said, it was great seeing more of his home world and his mother & father. Crowe was perfect as his father. Ayelet Zurer, his mother, seemed a good choice as well from what we see of her. And as I said, Kevin Costner & Diane Lane were absolutely perfect. My favorite bits of the whole movie were probably the ones with Superman & both these families. Very good character development as far as all the parents & their relationships with Superman were concerned.

– Shirtless Superman. Very nice. Overall, he’s not my type. The face is too chiseled and I like my dark-haired guys to have chocolate brown eyes and I like them to have more of a “boy next door” look. He’s too handsome. Nice bare chest, though! And a bit of hair on his chest – not one of these hairless girly boys. Think I preferred him with the beard, too – hides that crazy “man of steel” jaw. Am I going on too much? I’ll shut up now. (Thor is hotter) 😉

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The Not So Good:

– Too much action & too much CGI. Yes, there CAN be too much action sometimes and there was too much in this, especially at the end. And too much CGI ALWAYS annoys me. I’m old school that way.

– Some of the character development. It wasn’t too bad at first but I really was expecting more than we got and am a little disappointed by that. Lois Lane was probably the most underdeveloped. Oh, and those she works with – we were suddenly meant to care about them at the end when we’d seen so little of them. And Superman himself could have done with a bit more development. They did try with him, however. But it didn’t QUITE work for me. I didn’t feel his “internal struggle superhero thang” as much as I’d have liked – I think they almost achieved this then messed it up at the end by going so overboard on the action. I’m not entirely sure if this was the fault of the actor, or the script, or what. Perhaps he wasn’t exactly right for the role? I’ve still not decided. And I didn’t fully buy into his relationship with Lois Lane. That felt a bit weak. Thank god for Superman’s parents – without the scenes with them, I think I’d have felt nothing at all for his character. He just really lacks a personality in this. However, we get a little glimpse of personality at the end that I’m really REALLY hoping we get to see more of in a sequel. Give him a personality! And more shirtless scenes.

The flashbacks. This is a minor thing but I didn’t like them showing his childhood & teen years in flashback. I felt the movie kind of lost something doing it this way. I really would have liked to see him grow up on Earth in chronological order. I just didn’t like the “back and forth” at that point in the movie. Plus I’d have liked to see much more of his younger years to better understand his character, especially as the second half of the movie ended up so disappointing compared to the first half.

The finale. It was too much. It was too long. It was WAY over the top. The more I think about it, the more I really did NOT like the last 45 minutes or so of this film. Or however long it was – it FELT very long indeed. Very disappointing after such a strong beginning & middle.

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Summary:

A promising reboot with a good beginning & middle that is, unfortunately, almost completely destroyed by a very disappointing and ridiculously over-the-top finale. Some excellent casting, particularly both sets of Superman’s parents, is what saves this film and gives it the depth and character development needed to make the audience care in the slightest about these characters & what happens to them. Without Crowe, Costner, Lane & Zurer (the parents), I have to be honest and say that this film would have been a complete and utter disaster. The final scene, however, gave me a glimmer of hope for the sequel. Overall, the movie IS “promising” in that I think there’s the promise of a brilliant sequel in Superman’s future if they do things right next time and make it far more like the first half than the second half of Man Of Steel. Unfortunately, we’re only given the hope of a great movie in the future instead of a great one this time. Disappointing.

My Rating: 6/10

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So where does Man Of Steel rank in my recent list of My Top Ten Superhero Movies? Have a look HERE. 🙂

And here for all the movies I’ve seen in 2013.

*preparing for the angry comments… Lol!* *Especially now that I’ve edited this & lowered the rating…*

The Fighter

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Felt like watching a “quality” movie tonight so went with The Fighter.

Great performances. I’m not a Christian Bale fan AT ALL but he was very good in this. I like Amy Adams a lot – it was good to see her in a different sort of role as I’m more used to her as a cheesy Disney princess in Enchanted. Mark Wahlberg gave a solid performance as well – I just always see him as Mark Wahlberg in everything… I probably liked him most in Ted. (Great movie!) 😉

I’m a girl so a movie about something I’m not at all interested in (boxing? ugh!) was probably never going to be a favorite. I can understand why this movie did so well as the actors all did a very good job but I can’t help but compare it in my mind to The Wrestler. That was also a movie about a sport I’m not at all interested in (wrestling? ugh! actually- all sports- ugh!) but I loved that movie. Mickey Rourke was SO good in that. I felt more for his character than for those in The Fighter even though The Fighter was based on a true story.

So, The Fighter was an interesting true story with some very good performances but I don’t think it’s one that will stick with me for long.

7/10