Sunday, February 15, 2015

OSCAR WATCH 2015: The Theory of Everything, The Imitation Game, and Foxcatcher

The Theory of Everything
The Theory of Everything is a biopic about the early years of Stephen Hawking, specifically prior to his illness and the marriage to his first wife. The first 20mins or so of the movie are like a magical, romantic movie, except you know what happens next, and there's a jolting feeling at the back of your mind waiting for things to fall apart.  
I guess we all know - or think we know - the story of Stephen Hawking, and presuming this was all authentic, there was much I didn't know.
It was a close to perfect film, not a moment wasted, nor a shot unnecessary, much like the great man's life. The cinematography was poetic and beautiful but often harsh, it represented what was happening within the story.
And what a story of resilience, beauty, love, genius, and devastation. I admit to pretty much crying through the entire film, but don't let that put you off. It IS emotional, and at times very sad, but it is such an uplifting story of humanity at it's very best, this film simply MUST be seen.
The acting is more than superb, Eddie Redmayne has jumped the field and will, without a shred of a doubt, win Best Actor. He transforms himself and becomes Hawking, so much so at times it is like watching a documentary. And Felicity Jones was also outstanding, seeing both of their transformations on screen is nothing short of amazing. Also Charlie Cloud, as Jonathan, a family friend, lends another strong piece of acting to this already outstanding film.
There is a scene towards the end of the film that is so clever I want to mention it, but it's such a lovely surprise, you just need to wait for it. This little nod is one of many clever pieces of cinematography that ensures this film is top class entertainment and Oscar worthy.

Imitation Game
The Imitation Game is a cracking story of triumph over evil and it's straight from the history books. Alan Turing is the forefather of invention, code breaking, and computers. He designed a machine to crack the Nazi code machine known as Enigma. Without this invention, who knows what our world would be like. This we all know, how he came about to get in this position is lesser known and his life after the war ended even more so.
The Imitation Game superbly shows us this and more. It had great pace and flows like a thriller, with the viewer on the edge of their seat hoping that the code can be cracked before Turing is tossed aside. See the powers that be just didn't believe in the monstrous machine Turing built. The movie also delves into Turing's personal life, with devastating effects. Turing was a homosexual and during that time it was illegal to be so.
Benedict Cumberbatch is outstanding as Turing. He has made a career out of playing odd geniuses, but this role has so many layers to it, he knocks it out of the park. Keira Knightley is also rather good as a female code breaker who is close to Turing. I have never been a fan of Knightley, but she managed to do a good job on this one, which is unusual. The supporting case also very good.
This is an excellent biopic/historical film, some outstanding moments, and very emotional too. The last 20mins were devastating. It's a must see for the Oscar season.

Foxcatcher was a great film, but it was creepy. The acting, however, was out of this world. If you've seen the trailer, you'll know what I mean. And it was that trailer and those transformations of the actors that intrigued and lured me to see the film and I am glad I did.
Without a doubt the film is highly disturbing and you feel incredibly unsettled the entire way through.
Foxcatcher is the story of the Schultz brothers, Gold medal winning Olympic wrestlers. Mark, the younger of the two, played by Channing Tatum, is down and out but training for the next Olympics. His brother David (Mark Ruffalo) is doing a bit better, married with a family and coaching. When John Du Pont (Steve Carell) approaches Mark to assist financially and manage the Olympic wrestling team, Mark thinks all his dreams come true.
Mark relocates to Foxcatcher, the sprawling Du Pont estate and finds John enigmatic, and rather odd. In time David and his family join him and David is unsure of what he is witnessing. Du Pont is obsessive and possessive, seemingly trying to impress his harsh, elderly mother (Vanessa Redgrave) and there are subtle hints his relationship with Mark is more than just coach and sportsman. And then the story really gets out of control and you are on the edge of your seat.
This is a bizarre, but completely true story. I am unsure how well known it was in America, but I was unsettled by it.
The acting is quite superb. Every character loses themselves in their roles in the most remarkable and unrecognisable way. Carell is chilling and powerful and suitably impressive. I have always been a fan of his and knew he would make a fine dramatic actor, his impersonations are always impeccable. But this is no impersonation, he simply becomes Du Pont. Ruffalo is also unrecognisable as David Schultz. Both are deservedly Oscar nominated. They won't win, but their time will come. Channing Tatum was robbed of a nomination as his performance was haunting and devastating. 

This is not a film for everyone, but if you like unusual and intriguing stories and love watching powerhouse acting, you will delight in Foxcatcher.

No comments: