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Oscars 2015: Best Actor



While three of the acting categories are pretty much guaranteed at this point, Best Actor still remains interesting. Here we have a showdown between young and old, two snubbed nominees who deserve to be here, and one lone wolf who could have gone supporting. But overall we have a great list of men who gave great performances last year. Here’s my breakdown:

The Nominees:

Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game

Bradley Cooper, American Sniper

Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

Michael Keaton, Birdman

Steve Carell, Foxcatcher

This is a very good list of nominees, but there a few startling omissions, chiefly David Oleyowo and Jake Gyllenhaal. I’m a bit surprised that Steve Carell made it in for Foxcatcher, as he could have gone back and forth between Supporting or Lead, and edged out say, Robert Duvall. But I’m glad he’s here, considering all the buzz he received last year that seems to have faded. Bradley Cooper is also a surprising nominee given the lack of previous nominations for American Sniper, but the Academy fell in love with the film and Cooper’s performance. I wouldn’t discount Cumberbatch or Cooper at this point, honestly.

But this is a race that will boil down to young vs old, between Keaton and Redmayne, both first time nominees. Redmayne has been picking up awards right and left for his performance as Stephen Hawking, which is well deserved. But if I could choose, I’d give it to Keaton, a veteran who delivers his best performance ever in Birdman.

My Predictions

Should Win: Michael Keaton, Birdman

Will Win: Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

Should Have Been Nominated: David Oleyowo, Selma

My Personal Nomination: Jack O’Connell, Unbroken

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Posted by on February 8, 2015 in 2015 Academy Awards


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American Hustle Review

American_Hustle_2013_posterAmerican Hustle is a lot of things. It’s smart. It’s sexy. It’s cool. It’s intimate. It’s thrilling. But most of all, it’s genius. Director David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook, The Fighter) once again hits a home run, delivering a movie chock full of thrills, humor, and inventiveness. With a cast that includes such names as Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, and Amy Adams, American Hustle serves up a fresh and fun dramedy, loosely based on the 1970s sting known as ABSCAM. It’s a fun and unique film that shouldn’t be passed up.

American Hustle stars Christian Bale as Irving Rosenfeld, a small-time businessman turned con artist. He meets Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), and the two become business partners under a fake name, despite Irving’s marriage to Rosalyn Rosenfeld (Jennifer Lawrence). The two are approached by Richie Di Maso (Bradley Cooper), an FBI agent who fell for one of their scams. He is willing to offer them a free pass if he helps them arrest four notorious con artists. Thus begins American Hustle, as the characters are thrust into a city full of crime, parties, and politics. They do business with a wide variety of faces, from New Jersey mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner) to mob boss Victor Tellegio (Robert DeNiro). As Di Maso draws them in, Rosenfeld’s relationship with Prosser as well as his wife turns out to be his biggest demon, turning the film into a dark personal drama.

American Hustle manages to tell both a complicated story, as well as a captivating one. At times I was a little confused as to what was happening, but O. Russell manages to make you feel smart and engaged in the film, all while answering your questions for you. He has been on quite a roll lately with hits, and American Hustle is just another brick in that wall of fame. Where Hustle really shines is its eccentric cast of characters, over saturated with 70s style and oozing with personality.

At center stage is Irving Rosenfeld. Christian Bale commands the role with the urgency it demands, and he gives one of his best performances to date. With his combover hair and his Atlantic accent, Rosenfeld is an unforgettable character. Amy Adams also shines as Sydney. She is cunning, sexy, and will do whatever it takes to make this deal. But the best female role goes to Jennifer Lawrence as Irving’s wife. She has some of the best lines in the film, from her dealings with her son to her improper use of a microwave oven (“science oven,” she calls it). Lawrence is a bonafide actress, playing such a mature character at such a young age, and she is a frontrunner for another Academy Award. Bradley Cooper also delivers as Di Maso. He’s shady, but quite a presence on screen, as he tricks his way in and out of situations. With a memorable perm hairstyle, he’s hard to forget. A small supporting cast of Jeremy Renner as the mayor and Robert DeNiro as a mob boss help round out this goofy cast of characters in the gritty world of white-collar crime.

Where American Hustle really radiates is in its juxtaposition of the two genres, comedy and drama. While the Golden Globes classified it as “comedy,” American Hustle straddles the line quite equally. A deep personal drama between Rosenfeld and his wife is played up against some laugh out loud party scenes with Di Maso and Polito. It’s a tight balance that American Hustle plays well. These brief moments of comedy keep you interested in the plot while the drama plays out, allowing you to feel like an active participant in the film.

Everything in American Hustle is coated in that 1970s style, cool and groovy and stylish. The production value was off the charts, and everything from the set design to the ridiculous costumes to the outlandish hairstyles is just brimming with fashion. The soundtrack features such classics like “Live and Let Die,” and other ’70s hits, while the score fits the mood just nice.

American Hustle is a strange kind of masterpiece. Part comedy, part drama, but director David O. Russell puts it all together with his seal of quality, with a fantastic cast and an unforgettable story.

Overall: 4 stars out of 4

Buy American Hustle Today!

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Posted by on December 24, 2013 in Movie Reviews


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The Hangover Part III Review

You’d think they would get the hint after the horrible sequel right? No, and the Wolfpack still returns in the third part to this unnecessary comedy trilogy. Can The Hangover 3 strike the same comedy gold that the original did, or is it the same old raunchy trash? Let’s find out.

It’s years after the events of Hangover 2, and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) is as crazy as ever. After buying a giraffe and driving on the freeway, Alan’s father (Jeffrey Tambor) has had enough of his antics, and wants him to leave. His father then suddenly dies of a heart attack, and the Wolfpack is brought together. Doug (Justin Bartha) and the rest of the gang decide to stage an intervention with Alan, and get him to agree to go to rehab in Arizona. En route, they are caught up in a ruse and taken hostage by a man named Marshall (John Goodman), who wants them to track down Chow (Ken Jeong) and return his share of the gold he stole. That’s the setup for what is a generally cookie-cutter plot. There are some twists and turns here, but nothing that will make your head explode.

Hangover III is star-ridden, and every turn I recognized some actor or another. Lucky for us, the acting is good, unlike the plot and the style, so we aren’t bored to death. Galifianakis is star of the show here, and even though he’s my least favorite of the three, he still provides a majority of the film’s few big laughs. Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Stu (Ed Helms) are unfortunately in the back seat this time around, which is a shame because the three are better when they are all together and sharing the stage. Ken Jeong is crazy once again as Leslie Chow, and John Goodman plays a tough conniving villain. The star this time is comedy queen Melissa McCarthy, whom I am a huge fan of lately. She steals the show as Cassie, a pawn shop owner in Las Vegas who strikes a chord with dear Alan. The two have great chemistry, and I wouldn’t mind seeing them pair up in the future for a different comedy tale.

I left Hangover Part III feeling different than I had when I left the other two, and I was able to pinpoint exactly why: I didn’t laugh as much. There were a few laughs at the beginning, but once the crew is taken hostage and forced to kidnap Chow, things took a turn. Rather than a comedy, the film became more of a dark action-drama, and the laughs were few and far between. There is a tone of seriousness, and even if there was a setup for a laugh or two, I wasn’t sure if it was funny because of its dark tone. This is a problem considering the previous films were laugh riots. Abandoning the tone and style of the first two films was a risky move that didn’t pay off in the end.

Overall, though, Hangover III is a shame riding off the success of the first two. Despite its star-studded cast, it isn’t able to overcome its dark plot and non-comedic tone, and the film is quite a disappointment and a bore as a result. If it weren’t for Melissa McCarthy, you’d be looking at a pretty bad score.

Overall: 1.5/4.0

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Posted by on May 29, 2013 in Movie Reviews


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Silver Linings Playbook Review

Silver Linings Playbook blends comedy, drama, romance, and sports and turns this all into one of the best movies I’ve seen this year. Based on the novel by Matthew Quick, Silver Linings Playbook spins a web of emotions with its characters that we actually care for, with characters that we root for, which is something that isn’t seen a lot in movies these days.

Silver Linings PlaybookThe film stars Pat (Bradley Cooper), who has just been released from a mental ward after 8 months. He moves back in with his parents, and tries to reconcile with them, especially with his football-loving father, Pat Sr. (Robert DeNiro). Pat learns that his wife, Nikki, has been cheating on him with a coworker at the high school they work at, and he desperately tries to reconnect with her despite a restraining order put upon him by her. While at dinner at a friend’s house, Pat meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a widowed girl with problems all her own. Through Tiffany, Pat tries to communicate with Nikki, all while maintaining a good relationship with his parents, and he and Tiffany soon become more than friends, as Pat has to make a decision and choose between Tiffany or his father.

Silver Linings Playbook is really a character-driven story. Pat is the underdog, and we want to root for him early on. His relationship with his father and mother is complicated, and can really hit home for some viewers. It’s relatable characters and dilemmas like these that really make Silver Linings Playbook shine. When Pat meets Tiffany, he has tough decisions to make, and the believable characters help make these decisions more than black and white. The film’s message is a good one, but I’ll leave it to you to see it and figure it out.

This wouldn’t be possible without the excellent efforts of the actors, starting with Bradley Cooper. I was never the biggest fan, and I always thought Cooper’s place was in raunchy comedies like The Hangover, but I was completely turned by his acting in this movie. He brings Pat to life, giving the best performance of his career by far. Not to be outdone is Jennifer Lawrence, who has had quite the year with her box office slam The Hunger Games. She plays Tiffany with an aura of confidence and self-esteem, and when Tiffany and Pat first meet, it’s hard not to notice the chemistry. She is definitely a front-runner for best actress this Oscar season. Robert DeNiro has a smaller role as Pat’s father, and his bookmaking lifestyle really fits what DeNiro has done in the past. Many supporting characters bring this film to life, such as Chris Tucker as a fellow mental patient, Jacki Weaver as Pat’s loving mother, and John Ortiz as Pat’s good friend.

Silver Linings Playbook tells an excellent story, with characters with conviction and drive, all being pulled by an excellent cast and excellent supporting roles. It’s funny, sad, and balances these two emotions well, never tipping over one side of the spectrum. This is definitely one to watch when Oscar season comes.

Overall: 5 stars out of 5

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Posted by on January 7, 2013 in Movie Reviews


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