Tag Archives: Oscars

The Oscars 2012

Ah, the Oscars! The most eagerly anticipated movie awards ceremony of the year. We’ve already had the BAFTAs and various others, but when it comes to coveting an ornament saying “You’re brilliant at what you do in the film industry,” it’s that golden statuette that stands head and shoulders about the rest. (I’m so sorry, I couldn’t resist the terrible pun!)

So, here are the categories with who I would like to win each award along with who I think will win them. Where the titles are highlighted, you can click on the links to be taken either to my review or my husband’s where I haven’t written one (of course, some we haven’t reviewed at all!). I’ve not included the documentary and animated short categories, as I have not seen any of the nominations and have no opinions on them:

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Movie Review – The Artist (2011)

Film: The Artist
Released: 2011
Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Stars: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller, Missi Pyle, Malcolm McDowell

Synopsis:
Hollywood, 1927: As silent movie star George Valentin wonders if the arrival of talking pictures will cause him to fade into oblivion, he sparks with Peppy Miller, a young dancer set for a big break.

What I thought of it:
In an incredibly bold move, Hazanavicius has eschewed the big-budget reboots, remkes and franchises to bring us something both fresh that harks back to the earlier days of cinema complete with intertitles. In looking at the difficulties of a silent movie star to adapt to performaing in “talkies”, one realises that the modern filmstars will have had similar difficulties in protraying the exaggerated mannerisms of the silent movie era – something completely alien to today’s more natural style of acting.

Dujardin and Bejo both pull off this feat magnificently. Dujardin looks like a cross between David Niven and Vincent Price, with the elegance of Fred Astaire and the charm of Clark Gable (all stars of the later era of film-making, but no less important in their oeuvre). Bejo’s face perfectly encapsulates both the leading ladies of the silent era and the early talkies, with her “peppy” style truly living up to her character’s name, Peppy Miller.

It’s beautifully shot and the lack of sound other than the dramatic and theatrical score is wondrful. There is, however, one very clever scene that involves sound – George Valentin’s dream sequence – that serves to juxtapose his dilemma and inability to make the transition from silence to sound.

I can see why this film has been sweeping the awards season this year, and it really does deserve the recognition for stepping away from the “safe” arena of the blockbuster and giving us something spectacularly different. It’s not my favourite of the Oscar nominated films, but it’s pretty close and I think this one will once again win the coveted Best Film, Best Director and Best Actor as it did so recently at the BAFTAS. I can also see it scooping Art Direction, Cinematography and Costume Design, but I think Bejo will miss out on the Best Actress statue as she suffers the same misfortune as Michelle Williams in being pitted against Streep in one of her best ever performances as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady.

This is a must-see for fans of cinema and film history as well as for those who just enjoy seeing a really great film. It’s a joy to see and it will surely be seen as a timeless masterpiece and a classic over time. It is a pity that more production companies don’t take the risk and dare to be as different in their projects as this, because the results here are nothing short of stunning.

My hubby’s review HERE.

Rating:

~***~

I realise I have rated several Oscar-nominated films as 5/5 and this is very unusual for me, but they are all deserving of the highest rating I can give. There is very little in it and they all have the same rating, however here they are in order of my personal preference:

  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
  • The Artist
  • My Week with Marilyn
  • The Iron Lady

Of course, this is only my personal preference and will most likely not be reflected in the choices of the judging panel of the Academy Awards, but I thought it was worth mentioning in case anyone wondered which films I enjoyed the most of those I had rated so highly.

Movie Review – Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011)

Film: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Released: 2011
Director: Stephen Daldry
Stars: Thomas Horn, Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Max von Sydow, John Goodman,  Viola Davies

Synopsis:
Based on the novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer.

A nine-year-old amateur inventor, Francophile, and pacifist searches New York City for the lock that matches a mysterious key left behind by his father, who died in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

What I thought of it:
I know I’ve rated a couple of films very highly, all of which are Oscar nominees for some of the big prizes (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor/Actress), but of all the ones I’ve seen to date, this one beats them all. So much so that I wish I could give it an extra mark and make it 6/5!

It’s an emotional rollercoaster ride from start to finish, with some great feel-good moments and even greater moments of utter anguish as we watch a young boy search for a connection with the father he has lost.

I cannot commend highly enough the young lead (Horn) in this film, especially as this is his first screen role (I know! I couldn’t believe it!). He shows a maturity, understanding and ability far beyond his years – honestly, you’d expect this kind of performance from an extremely seasoned actor many years his senior. His grasp of the character and his interpersonal relationships is phenomenal and his portrayal poignantly real. Bullock and Hanks are both excellent as his parents, but it is von Sydow’s silent performance that really makes the rest of the film. Than an actor can play a silent role in a film that is not silent, and still show such range and give a heartbreakingly wonderful performance is astonishing.

This is the film that should win Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor (von Sydow), but it should also have been nominated for Best Director (Daldry), Best Actor (Horn), and Best Adapted Screenplay, and it is nothing short of a travesty that it has not. It truly deserves the highest rating I can give and I urge everyone to see it as soon as they possibly can. I promise, you will cry, but you will also find yourself feeling hopeful and happy.

My hubby’s review HERE.

Rating:

Movie Review – The Iron Lady (2011)

Film: The Iron Lady
Released: 2011
Director: Phyllida Lloyd
Stars: Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent, Olivia Colman, Richard E Grant, Harry Lloyd, Anthony Head

Synopsis:
Tells the story of a woman who smashed through the barriers of gender and class to be heard in a male-dominated world. The story concerns power and the price that is paid for power, and is a surprising and insightful portrait of an extraordinary and complex woman.

What I thought of it:
I was a child of the 80s. Most of my early childhood was spent in a northern town in Maggie’s Britain, so I remember well (albeit from a child’s point of view) many of the highlights and lowlights of Thatcher’s reign and have to admit that whether or not you agree with her politics or her actions, you have to admire the woman’s tenacity, determination and spirit. She remains, to this day, Britain’s only female Prime Minister and left an indelible footprint on British politics. Love her or hate her, she will never be forgotten.

So, how does one fill the shoes of such a woman when making a film showcasing the salient points of her political career? It’s a no-brainer – you knock on Meryl Streep’s door, beg her to take the role, and then heave a sigh of relief when she accepts! When it comes to great roles, you need a great actress, and that is exactly what Streep is. She disappears into Margaret’s persona and all we see is The Iron Lady herself, perfectly portrayed, on our screens. This really is a crowning achievement for Streep and she deserves every award for which she is nominated.

Of course, she is supported by a superb cast – everyone, from Broadbent (and Lloyd) as the long-suffering Dennis, to her ministers are brilliant, but it is Olivia Colman as her daughter Carol who really shines. Colman has Carol down to a tee and it is a crying shame that she has not at least been nominated for best supporting actress in this year’s Oscars.

The Iron Lady is a film of consummate elegance and poise, with deft direction and clever cutting of archive footage into the film, this really is a sweepingly epic film that stands up next to the likes of the King’s Speech as the epitome of British film-making.

My hubby’s review HERE.

Rating:

Movie Review – The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

Film: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Released: 2011
Director: David Fincher
Stars: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgard, Robin Wright, Joely Richardson, Steven Berkoff, Julian Sands

Synopsis:
This English-language adaptation of the Swedish novel by Stieg Larsson follows a disgraced journalist, Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), as he investigates the disappearance of a wealthy patriarch’s niece from 40 years ago. He is aided by the pierced, tattooed, punk computer hacker named Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara). As they work together in the investigation, Blomkvist and Salander uncover immense corruption beyond anything they have ever imagined.

What I thought of it:
For once, I actually found the remake better than the original! (For the record, I watch and enjoy foreign language films on a semi-regular basis, so it wasn’t because it was a foreign film I disliked the original). This is far more cohesive and easier to follow, dwelling on things long enough so that their significance is established without overstaying their welcome and dragging things out. From the opening sequence (which is very Bond-esque in style, with women covered in dripping ink) this is a polished production which is more intense and watchable than its predecessor. The only problem I had was with the performance of the lead, Daniel Craig – every other cast member had a Swedish accent throughout, but he didn’t bother even trying, which I thought was a poor show and indicative of his limited ability. However, that’s my only quibble and I hope they will remake the other two films in the Millennium trilogy as I will certainly watch them.

My hubby’s review HERE.

Rating:
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Movie Review – Tinker,Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011)

Film: Tinker, Tailer, Soldier, Spy
Released: 2011
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Stars: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, John Hurt, Tom Hardy, John Hurt, Ciarán Hinds, Kathy Burke, Benedict Cumberbatch

Synopsis:
In the early 1970s during the Cold War, the head of British Intelligence, Control, resigns after an operation in Budapest, Hungary goes badly wrong. It transpires that Control believed one of four senior figures in the service was in fact a Russian agent – a mole – and the Hungary operation was an attempt to identify which of them it was. Smiley had been forced into retirement by the departure of Control, but is asked by a senior government figure to investigate a story told to him by a rogue agent, Ricky Tarr, that there was a mole. Smiley considers that the failure of the Hungary operation and the continuing success of Operation Witchcraft (an apparent source of significant Soviet intelligence) confirms this, and takes up the task of finding him. Through the efforts of Peter Guillam, Smiley obtains information that eventually leads him to Jim Prideaux, the agent at the heart of the Hungary fiasco. He is then able to put together the pieces of the puzzle, which lead him to the identity of the mole and the true intent of Operation Witchcraft.

What I thought of it:
I don’t know if it was just that I was very tired, but I found this adaptation of John Le Carre’s famous cold war spy novel incredibly confusing. There’s absolutely no doubt that the cast is superb and they all gave phenomenal perfomances, but the plot seemed ot be all over the place with little coherance. I do, however, plan to watch the old TV series and read the book in the hope that I’ll have that “Aha!” moment where everything clicks into place and I ralise I dozed off during some crucial plot revelation that would have made the whole thing make some kind of sense. As it was, come the end of the film, my immediate thought was, “This is how thick people must feel when they watch CSI,” because I’m so used to being one step ahead with this kind of thing. Perhaps if I watch it again when I am not half asleep, I’ll get more out of it.

I can see there being a few Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominations for performances for this ensemble cast, but it will miss out on the bigger prizes like Best Film and Best Director.

My hubby’s review HERE.

Rating:
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Movie Review – Puss In Boots (2011)

Film: Puss In Boots
Released: 2011
Director: Chris Miller
Stars: (Voices) Antonio Banderas, Selma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis

Synopsis:
Years before meeting Shrek and Donkey, the adorable but tricky Puss in Boots (Banderas) must clear his name from all charges making him a wanted fugitive. While trying to steal magic beans from the infamous criminals Jack and Jill, the hero crosses paths with his female match, Kitty Softpaws (Hayek), who leads Puss to his old friend, but now enemy, Humpty Dumpty (Galafianakis). Memories of friendship and betrayal enlarges Puss’ doubt, but he eventually agrees to help the egg get the magic beans. Together, the three plan to steal the beans, get to the Giant’s castle, nab the golden goose, and clear Puss’ name.

What I thought of it:
I found this one a bit disappointing, although it’s still better than Shrek Forever After (then again, that’s not particularly difficult). We have the same quality animation and quirky plot. As spin-offs go, it’s not too bad, but I was hoping for a little more, well, oomph from a Puss in Boots exploit. That said, Xander enjoyed it a great deal and sat through almost the whole thing quietly (only the last fifteen minutes or so saw him get up and play with his toys while he watched the end). So, nothing brilliant, but it will keep the kids engaged while you get on with doing other stuff.

My hubby’s review HERE.

Rating:
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