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Oscars 2016: Best Supporting Actor

Arguably the most interesting of the acting categories this year, Best Supporting Actor is always prone to a high degree of drama and conspiracy, as category fraud runs amuck post-Golden Globes. You can argue the screen time of these fine actors, but there are never clear guidelines as to what constitutes a ‘supporting’ role. Drama aside, these are one of the few categories this year that don’t feel locked down this point in Oscar season. Surprise nominees have changed the game and studios campaigning in categories where their performers don’t belong have made the supporting roles the most volatile, and we may be looking at some surprises come February.

This photo provided by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures', Warner Bros. Pictures' and New Line Cinema's drama "Creed," a Warner Bros. Pictures release. (Barry Wetcher/Warner Bros. Pictures via AP) ORG XMIT: CAET190

Best Supporting Actor

Christian Bale, The Big Short

Tom Hardy, The Revenant

Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight

Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies – Should Win

Sylvester Stallone, Creed – Will Win

Power RankingsStallone-Rylance-Bale-Hardy-Ruffalo

I love Stallone’s narrative after the surprise success of Creed. He’s never won an Oscar, and what a better way to pay tribute to the acting veteran than a win for the role that made him so renown. If the Oscars go this route, which they most likely will, I have no qualms because Stallone is great in the movie, but I think there a few better actors on this list, technically speaking. Mark Rylance, who was probably the only sure thing in this list when we were talking last October, gives a quietly destructive performance in Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies. Despite the film’s wavering success post-release, Rylance has been the one constant that critics can agree on. A first-time nominee, Rylance hasn’t had a role like this before, and it’s a knock out (Creed joke).

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The other three nominees is where this category gets interesting, because I could honestly see any of them taking home the trophy as well. Christian Bale is probably the most likely of the three remainders, which would be a shame because I think Steve Carrell gives the best performance in The Big Short. Nevertheless, Bale is on a roll with supporting roles as of late, able to blend into these eccentric characters (see: American Hustle) with ease. As far as Tom Hardy is concerned, despite being the saving grace in that unbearable film, I wouldn’t count him out as well – we could be looking at another Dallas Buyers Club Actor-Supporting Actor victory. Mark Ruffalo takes the last spot as the inevitable Spotlight nominee, beating out fellow Michael Keaton in an explosive performance, but one that most likely won’t go down as one of his best. Spotlight is juggling a lot on its plate right now, and it may be difficult to gauge its prospects, but I have a hard time imagining a Ruffalo victory Oscars night. His narrative repeats itself again from last year’s Foxcatcher, another chilly film with great performances, and if history repeats itself then he’ll be left out in the cold.

So who was left off the final list this year? Many. Room’s Jacob Tremblay was right on the bubble for this one, and he would’ve been a refreshing change of pace for a category that normally skewers older. Given the AMPAS’s love for the film (including Best Picture and Director nominations), I was shocked by this one after Tremblay’s SAG nomination. Other near misses included Idris Elba for Beasts of No Nation and Jason Mitchell for Straight Outta Compton, two diverse performances that are the best parts of their respective films. Elba’s omission is especially head-scratching, given how well he’s been received including a Golden Globe and ISA nomination. My personal nomination for this category, however, would’ve been Jason Segel in The End of the Tour. The quiet Sundance film didn’t make much of a splash on the fall circuit, but Segel gives the performance of his career as author David Foster Wallace.

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Posted by on January 30, 2016 in 2016 Academy Awards

 

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Gone Girl

Gone_Girl_Poster

 

Gone Girl is a harrowing portrait of a marriage turned sour. From director David Fincher, whose last hit was another adaptation of a popular thriller novel, Gone Girl is the best movie of the year so far. With a breakout performance from Rosamund Pike, and another great turn from Ben Affleck, Gone Girl is a complete thrill ride, and makes great use of all of its 150 minute running time

Gone Girl is based on the novel of the same name by Gillian Flynn. The film follows Nick and Amy Dunne, a young married couple living in Missouri. On the day of the fifth anniversary, Amy suddenly disappears. The film traces Nick’s steps to figure out what happened, all while avoiding suspicion from the public eye and the police.

It would be an understatement to say that I enjoyed the novel. It’s one of my favorite books of all time, and I had the privilege of meeting Flynn last spring. It’s expertly written, with tense dialogue and twists and turns that keep you engaged. Flynn returned to penn the screenplay for the film, and she nails it. It gets the tone of the novel just right, the atmosphere, characters, and everything is on point.

The film is expertly plotted, and makes perfect use of of its long run time. Flynn and Fincher do a great job of keeping you guessing at every time. Even having read the book, I still had many “oh shit!” moments. It was like I was reading the novel again, and that’s a good thing.

Gone Girl has such an eerie atmosphere to it, it’s almost scary. A thriller for the 2014 audience, Gone Girl is both a marriage thriller and a media satire. The film tackles things like the economic recession, critiquing suburban WASP-types and the pervasiveness of news media in a small Missouri town. It asks us to question how much we really know about our partners, Both Nick and Amy are unreliable narrators. We find more out about each spouse as the film progresses, and we find ourselves picking sides early on and going back and forth throughout the movie. The film makes expert use of flashbacks and narration from Amy’s point of view, and the first half of the film is dedicated to flashbacks about how Nick and Amy first met, and their transition from New York newlyweds to out-of-work homeowners in Missouri. It’s a cold, calculated film, one that won’t make you scream out of terror, but might give you a panic attack. It never seems formulated to shock, but when it does, Fincher will shock you.

The performances are spot-on all around. Ben Affleck is phenomenal as Nick. It’s not the best performance of his career, but Nick doesn’t demand that kind of a performance. Just take a look at the scene where Nick and Amy’s parents announce her disappearance. His smug smile to the camera is exactly what you’d expect from someone like Nick. He does his best to put on a good show for the cameras, all while doing his own thing behind their backs. He runs a bar with his sister, Margo, played by the wonderful Carrie Coon, in a performance that should put her on the map. Margo is our entry point into the story. She’s Nick’s voice of reason, and the two are a great pairing on screen.

But it’s Rosamund Pike who shatters our expectations as Amy Elliot Dunne. I’m not a huge fan of over-narration in films, but her chilling voice and flashback intonation will keep you enthralled. She’s such a well-written character, and Pike easily deserves an Oscar nomination for this performance. Other supporting roles come from Tyler Perry as Nick’s attorney Tanner Bolt. He does a great job despite a choice that might make you scratch your head. Tanner understands Nick, and trains him how to act in front of the camera, in front of talk show host Sharon Schieber (Sela Ward). Neil Patrick Harris and Scoot McNairy also appear as Amy’s former love interests, and it’s Harris who gets a considerable amount of screen time as the creepy stalker Desi Collings.

One thing I love about Gone Girl is that the police force is not incompetent. It would’ve been easy to make a critique of modern detective work, but Gone Girl’s police team, comprised of Kim Dickens and Patrick Fugit as Rhonda Boney and Jim Gilpin, respectively. Dickens is a considerable force, a southern, small town girl who for the most part is on Nick’s side. But as the public turns against him when dark shadows from his past resurface, Dickens and Gilpin find themselves challenged by what they themselves believe and what the public thinks. As they follow Amy’s treasure hunt of clues that she leaves behind, they start to reconsider what they believe about the case.

Throw in a chilling soundtrack from Fincher’s favorites, Trent Reznor and Attticus Ross, and you have such a well crafted, ingenious thriller. It’s smart, provocative, and will make you question things about the people you hold dear. Affleck and Pike are outstanding, and the cinematography and atmosphere surrounding the film is just perfect. I couldn’t have asked for a more spot-on adaptation of one of my favorite novels, from one of my favorite directors no less.

 

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2014 in Movie Reviews

 

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Joey’s Official Oscars Predictions

With the Oscars in 10 days, I thought I’d give you my official list of who I think should win next Sunday. I’ve also included who I think will win, as oftentimes that answer is different. Without further ado, here are my official predictions for next Sunday’s winners.

Best Picture

Will Win: 12 Years a Slave12-Years-A-Slave__140101173929

Should Win: Gravity

Could Win: American Hustle

This has been one of the tightest Best Picture races in years, but 12 Years a Slave has been sweeping up awards right and left. While at a time it seemed like American Hustle could take top prize, it seems like it will have to settle for some acting awards. I still think Gravity deserves Best Picture, as it has changed cinema forever, but I’ll still settle for 12 Years a Slave winning the top prize.

Best Actor

Will Win: Matthew McConaughey

Should Win: Matthew McConaughey

Could Win: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Leonardo DiCaprio

While Chiwetel Ejiofor seemed like the clear winner in the past months, McConaughey surprised by winning the Globe for Best Actor in a Drama. He seems the most likely to win the award, but I wouldn’t count out Ejiofor or DiCaprio for that matter.

Best Actress

Will Win: Cate Blanchetteblue-jasmine-2

Should Win: Cate Blanchette

Could Win: Sandra Bullock, Amy Adams

Blanchette practically has the award on lock at this point. She has been all the talk lately, but she may have the advantage for being in the earliest film. While Bullock and Adams are fresh in voters’ minds, Blanchette sticks out for giving one of the best performances of her career.

Best Supporting Actor

Will Win: Jared Leto

Should Win: Jared Leto

Could Win: Michael Fassbender, Barkhad Abdi

Like Blanchette before him, Jared Leto seems almost guaranteed the award at this point. His fantastic transformation for Dallas Buyers Club puts him in a league ahead of the others. I still wouldn’t count out Barkhad Abdi, who has the best story (humble cab driver) and was a dominant force in Captain Phillips, but Leto seems like the clear winner here.

Best Supporting Actress

Will Win: Lupita Nyong’o

Should Win: Jennifer Lawrence

Could Win: June Squibb

One of the most polarizing categories, Supporting Actress is still a toss-up at this point. While Lawrence took home the Globe, Nyong’o has been sweeping up awards right and left. While she is not as prominently present in the film as her costars, she is still a great actress, but Lawrence was one of the best parts of American Hustle. Winning back-to-back might seem cheap, but she definitely deserves it.

Best Director

Will Win: Alfonso CuaronAlfonso-Cuaron-Sandra-Bullock-George-Clooney-Gravity-set

Should Win: Alfonso Cuaron

Could Win: Steve McQueen

Cuaron. Hands down.

 

 

Best Original Screenplay

Will Win: Her

Should Win: American Hustleher-fp-0835

Could Win: Nebraska

While I was not a fan of Her, it seems like this is the category in which the film will be recognized, if any. American Hustle, though, deserves the prize, for being a unique and well-made dramedy that had me on edge at times.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Will Win: 12 Years a Slave

Should Win: 12 Years a Slave

Could Win: Captain Phillips, Philomena

12 Years a Slave should take this award for being a faithful adaptation of the John Ridley novel. I wouldn’t count Captain Phillips or Philomena out of this race just yet, though. Philomena has been gaining some ground lately, and Captain Phillips is an excellent adaptation of the Richard Phillips’ book.

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2014 in 2014 Academy Awards

 

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