Sunday, January 31, 2016

OSCAR WATCH 2016 - Six Films

The Revenant
No one wanted to see The Revenant with me, but I love to see as many Oscar films as I can and I love Leo, so it was a no brainer for me.
This was a gritty, compelling film, it was long (although it didn’t feel long) and it was brutal...but it was worth it.
There is much hype to the bear attack scene, that happens early on in the piece and fuels the vendetta of the film. It was unrelenting and horrific, every time you thought it was done, it continued. It obviously wasn’t real, but it sure felt it.
But prior to this scene there was a far more horrific scene/s that went on much longer.
The story is set in the 1820s and based on the real life frontier stories of Hugh Glass (Leonardo Di Caprio). The film commences with Glass and pals collecting fur traps but their camp is ambushed by Native Americans. The tension is high, the killing horrendous – on both sides – this felt far more horrific to me than any bear scene. It was presented as it was, you felt sorry for both sides, but also on both sides there was nasty characters and empathetic ones. It was a dire situation, much like any country inhabited by indigenous people. You feel this underlying tension throughout the entire film.
The film looks magnificent, directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, shot in sequence in natural light with minimal CGI. The snow and sweeping mountains and rivers are majestic and made me shiver. It all felt very real.
Ryuichi Sakamoto composed the film’s musical score and it was note perfect.
The acting, of course was superb. I am almost (I say almost as it is still early days in terms of predictions) certain Leo will win Best Actor. Not just because he is long overdue (he is very long overdue, he should have won for Gilbert Grape and for The Aviator and nominated for many, many other performances) but because this is an astonishing performance. Tom Hardy, who is always great, is superb as nasty Leo’s nemesis.

I guess The Revenant is not for everyone, but it is a very worthy film.
The Revenant is up for 12 Oscars: Best Film, Leo for Best Actor, Hardy for Best Supporting Actor, Inarritu for Directing, Cinematography, Editing, Production, Costume, Makeup/hair, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Visual Effects.
Early thoughts*: Leo for sure, and effects. Possibly Hardy.
*all early thoughts are subject to change between now and actual Oscar post!
The Big Short
This is a very unusual but highly entertaining film. Entertaining in the way the film was presented despite its dry subject matter. It’s basically about the people who predicted the fall of the US housing market which led to the financial crisis of 2005. It’s more complicated than that of course, but the film presents it in a amusing way that does make it much easier to understand.
Whilst I had a fair idea of what went on during that time, I was utterly shocked at the layers of all the subterfuge and bullshit that went on. Shameful.
The Big Short has a superb cast with Christan Bale and Ryan Gosling shining and hilariously funny, and Steve Carell being his usual superb self – the man has range. Marisa Tomei (always lovely on screen) and Brad Pitt round out the main cast.

This film is incredibly clever and really worth seeing.
The Big Short is up for 5 Oscars: Best Film, Christan Bale for Best Supporting Actor, Adam McKay for Best Direction, Best Screenplay (previously published), and Best Editing.
Early thoughts: Honestly, no idea, possibly Screenplay, cause they made dry material interesting and funny.
What a perfect title for this film, taken from Jennifer Lawrence’s lead character. Lawrence, as always, shines as Joy. A young girl with promise who has grown into a young woman pushed down by a troublesome family. A mother of two young children, she has her ex husband, parents (divorced with much hatred towards each other) and grandmother living with her in her falling down house. She dreamt of being something, and when things become more awful she decides to put her brain into action and try and make some money.
I’m not going to say any more. That was all I knew about this film going in, and the rest totally and utterly surprised me. This is based on a real life story, and quite a remarkable one at that. It’s about life, taking a chance, and trying to see your dreams fulfilled.
Joy, at times is not joyous, but in fact a little melancholy, but Joy the character shines so brightly despite so many set backs you don’t ever feel bad. This is an uplifting film in a non-manipulative way.

Jennifer Lawrence is superb, the supporting cast of Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, Isabella Rossellini, Virginia Madsen, and Diane Ladd are superb.
Go and get some Joy in your life.
Joy is up for 1 Oscar: Lawrence for Best Actress.
Early thoughts: Not so soon. She will have other chances if she continues on this trajectory.
The Danish Girl
The Danish Girl is based on the heartbreaking true story of Einer Wegener, a Danish painter in 1926. His wife, Gerde, is also a painter, although not as successful as Einer. When she asks Einer to stand in for the ballerina she is painting, she sets in motion something that had obviously been laying amongst the surface for a long time.
And Einer becomes Lili, and after some time, Einer realises that he relates better as a woman. Gerde initially is distraught, but then supports her husband lovingly. This is an unusual story for the time, but upsetting to watch. Especially when Einer decides to undergo gender reassignment surgery, this first person to do so.

Beautifully filmed, The Danish Girl, looks very much like a series of paintings. It is slow paced in parts but worth watching. I’ve done some reading and the film sounds like it may have taken some license with the material, which is a shame.

Eddie Redmayne is beguiling, he will woo you and break you heart simultaneously. Alicia Vikander is outstanding as the lovely Gerde. Ben Whishaw, Matthias Schoenaerts round out the cast. I really loved this film.

The Danish Girl is up for 4 Oscars: Best Actor for Redmayne, Best Supporting Actress for Vikander, Costume Design, and Production design.
Early thoughts: I have a feeling this won’t rate too well.
Based on the Patricia Highsmith novel, Carol is a stunning film. Set in the 1950s and shot with melancholy and compassion by Todd Haynes. Carol (Cate Blanchett) meets Therese (Rooney Mara) at the department store where she works. Despite an age difference, both are immediately smitten and embark on a close friendship that turns into a love affair.
Both Blanchett and Mara are sublime yet subtly understated in their performances. Blanchett looks divine and almost channels Judy Davis in parts with a haughtiness and austerity that is fitting of the era. Rooney simply shines and pretty much steals every scene. Their chemistry is undeniable and it’s lovely to see such an intense love story played out as it was.
Kyle Chandler and Sarah Paulson are solid supporting actors. The set design and beautiful costumes portrays the era perfectly and the cinematography is superb, you get a feel of the passiveness and confinement of the time. The score is also beautiful. 
Carol is up for 6 Oscars: Best Actress for Blanchett, Best Supporting Actress for Mara, Best Screenplay (previously released material), Cinematography, Costume Design, Original Score.
Early thoughts: All very deserving, possibly Mara getting a shot there!
The Hateful Eight
I love Quentin Tarantino, I love his passion for film. I love all his films and think that Pulp Fiction is his masterpiece but that Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained both came very close to absolute perfection (ie better than Pulp FIction) were it not for OTT scenes towards the end undoing the very perfections he’d worked so hard to create. In other words, I love him, but boy he makes it difficult to!
And I wanted to love The Hateful Eight, I really did. But I just could not, I didn’t hate it, lol, but I sure didn’t love it.

It starts so beautifully too, very John Ford like with long tracking shots out in snowy mountains. I saw the film at the Titan at Readings and it looked magnificent, especially with the sublime Ennio Morricone soundtrack accompanying it. It had an epic feel to it – much as Basterds and Django did initially too.
That first 20 minutes or so I loved. I loved Jennifer Jason Leigh’s performance and Samuel L Jackson. I loved some of the dialogue and the general story within the cabin section. But (I hate buts) it was way too long and way way too violent. I actually don’t mind a long movie, but there has to be a point if you go over 2 hours, there was none here. And violence has never bothered me, I love westerns and adore gangster films, and of course all other QT films are pretty violent, but this was just really full on and I think purely for his own amusement. It was not necessary.
And there’s the thing, Quentin DOES make films for his own entertainment. He loves exploitation films and keeps working those into his sweeping tales. I am unsure they work together. Make a big sweeping epic masterpiece or a low budget exploitation film, don’t meld them together.

I am not saying this film is bad or not to go and see it. I really loved parts of it, but not so much other parts. I am still confounded by it all.
The Hateful Eight is up for 3 Oscars: Best Supporting Actress for Jennifer Jason Leigh, Cinematography, Score.
Early thoughts: All very deserving and possible real shots at getting one, but the mixed reactions to the films may let them down.

1 comment:

Anthony Rochester said...

I agree I really disliked this film.I like Quentin too, however he does have his epic failures and this is one,but hey it happens to the best of them at least he goes out and does it.I havent enjoyed his latest offerings though I did like Django especially that great foreign actor Chris Waltz(Austrian/German I think).My fav Tarantino film I think mmm.....True Romance,Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs.