Tag Archives: AwardsSeason

2015 Screen Actors Guild Awards Thoughts

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Well that was an interesting night! I went 8 for 13 (which isn’t that bad), the sound guy and clips supervisor will probably be fired, and we learned the crazy apple doesn’t fall far from the insane tree (Carrie Fisher/Debbie Reynolds). I kind of love when my predictions are wrong because the night is way more fun when it’s full of surprises. Well, at least the TV categories were a ton of fun.

What I like about the SAGs, aside from how quickly they move and how fast it gets to the award-giving, is that they make their non-award-giving time worthwhile. During tonight’s production flawed broadcast, the clips montage of the history films dealing with social issues was a highlight. During a night of trivial, narcissistic award giving (don’t forget: I love this stuff so much), we were reminded why we make art. It demonstrated the significance of actors being vessels to instill change, discuss idea, bring attention to rights, and educate the masses. All of this through nostalgic film clips that we know and love. These types of things should be shown at Oscars instead of modern dance pieces to film scores that lack poignancy and elongate an already bloated running time.

debbie-reynoldsOn that note, the two hour SAG awards went by in a flash (minus the absolutely wacky Debbie Reynolds tribute). Overall the surprises kept it engaging early on in the TV categories and the film awards allowed us to really foresee what the Oscars may bring in February. Below are the winners and my specific thoughts.

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture – Birdman

I’m probably wrong, but I still think ‘Boyhood’ has an Oscar shot, but after winning this and the PGA, ‘Birdman’ winning Best Picture is probably a done deal.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Lead Role – Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything

eddie-redmayne-sag-awards-2015-ftr-1Redmayne now has a Golden Globe and a SAG for this role. Keaton is still in the Oscar race, but it’s going to be tough to blow past Redmayne’s true story disabled British genius in a period piece performance.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Lead Role – Julianne Moore – Still Alice

An Oscar lock. Lovely speech.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role – JK Simmons – Whiplash

He’s an Oscar lock.jk-simmons-800

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role – Patricia Arquette – Boyhood

rs_560x415-150125174221-1024.Patricia-Arquette-SAG-Awards-Winner.ms.012515_copyAnother Oscar lock. The Oscars are gonna be pretty boring again, aren’t they?

 

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Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series – Downton Abbey

Called it! How cute is everybody!?

UZO ADUBA OF THE NETFLIX SERIES "ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK" ACCEPTS THE AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY AN ENSEMBLE IN A COMEDY SERIES ALONG WITH HER FELLOW CAST MEMBERS AT THE 21ST ANNUAL SCREEN ACTORS GUILD AWARDS IN LOS ANGELES

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series – Orange is the New Black

Not only did they deserve it, ‘Orange’ dethroned ‘Modern Family’. When Uzo won and Burrell lost, ‘Orange’ had the wide open opportunity to take the statue. So happy they won. Moving into the

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series – Kevin Spacey – House of Cards

I get so giddy when he wins, even though I really don’t enjoy the show. I’m actually surprised that McConaughey didn’t win one big award for his ‘True Detective’ role during awards season. Then again, he won the Best Actor Oscar for it–I mean ‘Dallas Buyers Club’.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series – Viola Davis – How To Get Away with Murder

The combo platter of Davis and Shonda Rhimes is unstoppable. Great speech. rs_560x415-150125184350-1024.Viola-Davis-SAG-Awards-Winner.ms.012515

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series – William H Macy – Shameless

I have to say, this one was a total surprise. Nice to see ‘Shameless’ get some love. It’s funny that this show switched from the drama to comedy category (like ‘Orange’) and the first award it wins is for it’s most dramatic season. Awards Season is funny like that.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series – Uzo Aduba – Orange is the New Black

1422235851_winners-467As the first award of the night, this set the mood for a few nice surprises here and there. I’m thrilled that Uzo won. She’s excellent on the show, but I still question her inclusion in this category based on quite a few factors. Regardless, she and the show got some deserved love and her genuine surprise was incredible to watch.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries – Mark Ruffalo – The Normal Heart

Let’s just say I was just as surprised as Billy Bob Thornton.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries – Frances Mcdormand – Olive Kitteridge

Winner, winner, chicken dinner. She wasn’t going to lose this award.

Now, my friends, ONTO THE OSCARS!!!!!

Keep on Watchin’!

-Bryan

2015 Screen Actors Guild Awards Predictions

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The awards season took an interesting turn with last night’s announcement that ‘Birdman’ won the Producers Guild Award. Until last night, ‘Boyhood’ was suspected to be the frontrunner, but for the last seven years the PGA has predicted the Oscar for Best Picture. This is going to make predicting the race much harder, as these last few years hasn’t had a race this close. We’ll see if the PGA’s streak holds up in February. The SAGs, tonight at 8pm on TNT and TBS, predict Oscars acting winners with a relatively high accuracy (nothing’s perfect though). Between the PGA and the SAGs, I’ll have a lot to think about when sitting in front of my blank ballot this year.

Below are my predictions for the painless and quick awards ceremony that marks the start to the long month before the Oscars. We’ll have all the information we need for our final prediction, but will be waiting and waiting and waiting. Yeah, yeah, we all know it’s drawn out, but look, the Oscars used to be in March!

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

Birdman-3Birdman

Boyhood

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Imitation Game

The Theory of Everything

Should Win – Boyhood; Could Win – The Grand Budapest Hotel; Will Win – Birdman

This category is very different from the Best Picture race at the Oscars. For Example,  ‘12 Years a Slave’, ‘The Artist’, ‘Million Dollar Baby’, ‘The Departed’ and ‘The Hurt Locker’ all lost this SAG category and went on to win best picture. So, this race is a little bit up in the boyhood-posterair. As I mentioned, the changing shifts in frontrunner is like nothing we’ve seen in the recent past. A loss here for ‘Boyhood’ could hurt its chances come Oscar night, now that ‘Birdman’ is the PGA winner. It need another significant win from a voting body that overlaps with the Academy members to prove that this race is still alive. (Then again, with this track record of Oscars winner/loser it might even help it’s golden statue chances if it loses.) I hope it wins to keep conversations interesting. This all being said, the SAG voters will go with ‘Birdman’. A movie about acting and the legacy you leave behind starring some of the best actors working right now? It’ll be hard to beat at an awards show voted on by actors. (Then again, ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ could be the grand ol’ spoiler of the night and I would love it.)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Lead Role

635488916742130002-birdmanv2Steve Carell – ‘Foxcatcher’

Benedict Cumberbatch – ‘The Imitation Game’

Jake Gyllenhaal – ‘Nightcrawler’

Michael Keaton – ‘Birdman’

Eddie Redmayne – ‘The Theory of Everything’

Should Win – Michael Keaton; Could Win – Eddie Redmayne; Will Win – Michael Keaton

This is a two horse race and it will stay that way for Oscars regardless of what happens tonight. Redmanye’s performance is of the stuff that awards shows salivate over. He went through a physical transformation to play a real disabled British genius in a period piece. I mean, come on, how can you lose? He will lose though because the SAG voters will have the actor playing the actor in a movie that echoes the real life comeback of Keaton.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Lead Role

cdn.indiewireJennifer Aniston – ‘Cake’

Felicity Jones – ‘The Theory of Everything’

Julianne Moore – ‘Still Alice’

Rosamund Pike – ‘Gone Girl’

Reese Witherspoon – ‘Wild’

Should Win – Julianne Moore; Could Win – Jennifer Aniston; Will Win – Julianne Moore

A lot of members could vote for Aniston, as she is a TV comedy actress who worked her way to up to a “serious role.” They may also want to award her since she didn’t get an Oscar nomination. However, this is Julianne Moore’s to lose and she’s not going to at all.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

Whiplash-7567.cr2Robert Duvall – ‘The Judge’

Ethan Hawke – ‘Boyhood’

Edward Norton – ‘Birdman’

Mark Ruffalo – ‘Foxcatcher’

JK Simmons – ‘Whiplash’

Should Win – Ethan Hawke; Could Win – Edward Norton; Will Win – JK Simmons

This is a pretty dense category filled with incredbile performances (sans Duvall) Simmons will win, but Norton could very well give him a run for his money. ‘Birdman’ and it’s actor-centric plot is going to be unstoppable at the SAGs, but Norton won’t beat out Simmons. His respected 20 year character actor career and amazing performance in ‘Whiplash’ will continue this awards season domination.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

patty2_article_story_largePatricia Arquette – ‘Boyhood’

Keira Knightley – ‘The Imitation Game’

Emma Stone – ‘Birdman’

Meryl Streep – ‘Into the Woods’

Naomi Watts – ‘St. Vincent’

Should Win – Patricia Arquette; Could Win – Emma Stone; Will Win – Patricia Arquette

This is a weak field in general, but even in a strong year Arquette would win. This is the only true lock of the evening.

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series

downton-abbey-logo-001Boardwalk Empire

Downton Abbey

Game of Thrones

Homeland

House Of Cards

Should Win – Game of Thrones; Could Win – House of Cards; Will Win – Downton Abbey

With ‘Breaking Bad’ no longer a contender, this category, like its film counterpart, is up in the air. Even though it was the surprise winner in a ‘Breaking Bad-less category two years ago, I see no reason why ‘Downton Abbey’ won’t pick back up an award again. TV awards have a long history of repeat winners and it take a lot for another show to break streaks.  ‘House of Cards’ wasn’t nominated for season 1, so it could win as a ‘technical newbie’ to this category. (Though you can look at it like ‘Cards’ is only filling a space that ‘Breaking Bad’ can no longer occupy.) Despite all of this, ‘Game of Thrones’ should win, but it won’t, even if it has one of the best ensemble on TV. What a shame.

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series

orange-new-black-season-2-casting-rumorsThe Big Bang Theory

Brooklyn Nine-nine

Modern Family

Orange is the New Black

Veep

Should Win – Orange is the New Black; Could Win – Modern Family; Will Win – Orange is the New Black

Now in the comedy category, ‘Orange is the New Black’ received its first ensemble nomination this year. It’s also going to win. It has a true ensemble, executing at a very high level. Unless ‘Modern Family’ wins again (which wouldn’t be a surprise anybody because you really shouldn’t bet against the house), ‘Orange’ will take it and all will rejoice. Honestly, if ‘Modern Family’ does win again, I will be upset, again.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series

Matthew-McConaughy-Open-to-a-True-Detective-ReturnSteve Buscemi – Boardwalk Empire

Peter Dinklage – Game of Thrones

Woody Harrelson – True Detective

Matthew McConaughey – True Detective

Kevin Spacey – House of Cards

Should Win – Peter Dinklage; Could Win – Kevin Spacey; Will Win – Matthew McConaughey

Dinklage would be my pick to win this award, but we all know that he has no shot against Mr. McConaughey. Since he didn’t win the Emmy, the SAGs will reward him for his impressive turn in ‘True Detective’. However, he’s hasn’t won for this part in a while, so I could see the downswing in the “Mcconaissance” open the doors for the ever popular and scene-chewingly good Spacey to win. We all love a good Frank Underwood come from behind story.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series

viola-davis-getting-away-murder-articleClaire Danes – Homeland

Viola Davis – How To Get Away with Murder

Julianna Margulies – The Good Wife

Tatiana Maslany – Orphan Black

Maggie Smith – Downton Abbey

Robin Wright – House of Cards

Should Win – Tatiana Maslany; Could Win – Julianna Margulies; Will Win – Viola Davis

Last year Maggie Smith won, so there won’t be a repeat winner. The SAGs love Davis, as she previously won for ‘The Help’, beating out Meryl Streep, who would go on to win the Oscar. They also love Shonda Rhimes shows, as they fare very well at the SAGs. (Chandra Wilson and Sandra Oh both won this award.) Margulies has won for this show quite a bit (twice) and with no repeat winner, the actor could go right back to her. I still foresee a Davis win.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series

TY BURRELLTy Burrell – Modern Family

Louis CK – Louis

William H Macy – Shameless

Jim Parsons – The Big Bang Theory

Eric Stonestreet – Modern Family

Should Win – Louis CK; Could Win – Jim Parsons; Will Win – Ty Burrell

Burrell won last year and we know how every awards show just has to love ‘Modern Family’ (Burrell ended Alec Baldwin’ 7 year ‘30 Rock’ streak). Parsons keep winning the Emmy, so maybe the SAGs follow suit? Probably not.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series

Selina signs her bookUzo Aduba – Orange is the New Black

Julie Bowen – Modern Family

Edie Falco – Nurse Jackie

Julia Louis-Dreyfus – Veep

Amy Poehler – Parks and Recreation

Should Win – Amy Poehler; Could Win – Uzo Aduba; Will Win – Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Louis-Dreyfus won last year and almost every other award for this show. She is a TV goddess and won’t lose. If ‘Orange is the New Black’ finds heavy support, Uzo has a chance to win, but she isn’t the lead and realistically, Julia is going to be impossible to beat.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries

fargo-306-1394549574Adrien Brody – Houdini

Benedict Cumberbatch – Sherlock: His Last Vow

Richard Jenkins – Olive Kitteridge

Mark Ruffalo – The Normal Heart

Billy Bob Thornton – Fargo

Should Win – Billy Bob Thornton; Could Win – Mark Ruffalo; Will Win – Billy Bob Thornton

With no McConaughey in this category, Billy Bob has this one in the bag. Ruffalo could pull out a surprise as a double nominee this evening, but as good and important as ‘The Normal Heart’ is, nobody was better as Thorton as the villainous Lorne Malvo.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries

olivekitteridge12Ellen Burstyn – Flowers in the Attic

Maggie Gyllenhaal – The Honorable Woman

Frances McDormand – Olive Kitteridge

Julia Roberts – The Normal Heart

Cicely Tyson – The Trip to Bountiful

Should Win – Frances McDormand; Could Win – Cicely Tyson; Will Win – Frances McDormand

This McDormand’s award all the way. Tyson could take the statue because the SAGs do love to award a veteran in this category, but McDormand’s performance and standing as an elite artist in the eyes of voters will push her over the top.

Later this evening (or tomorrow morning), I’ll have a SAGs recap for you all. Enjoy the show.

Keep on Watchin’!

-Bryan

MOVIE DAY 2015

WARNING: This is a long one…

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Woooo Weeee! I am incredibly high right now.  The adrenaline of movie day is still pumping through my veins. It went as well as it possibly could, as it included my three favorite Fs: Films, Family, and Friends. Not only was it an operational success, but also the turn out was the best to date. Eleven people showed up for ‘American Sniper’ alone, a record for a single movie day movie. Even my mom, dad, and sister partook in some movie day festivities! Another first!

Before I get into the nitty gritty of it all, I want to thank the following people for coming out: My mom, dad and sister. Leigh, Josh, Gary, and Jay. Julie and her husband. Lee, Erica, Joe, Lucy, Brett, and Caitlin. I really appreciate you enjoying at least some of the day with me. I loved having you there.

Something I learned yesterday: I should check the movie day weather. Seats were a bit scarce, as most theatres were sold out due to the inclement weather. That made transitioning from theatre to theatre a little harder, but I was also lucky that all of the films were in the same building for the first year ever, my favorite theatre in the city: AMC Lincoln Square 13.

Two notes before I begin:

  • The majority of the films I saw are based on true stories. I am not a historian. My opinions of these films are based solely on the movies themselves, not how I think they accurately depicted the true events. (ie: I have no idea what LBJ and Martin Luther King Jr’s actually relationship was in the mid 60s)
  • The recaps and ranking below are based on these movies’ relation to each other, not everything I’ve seen this holiday season. This is by no means my favorite or best films list of 2014. It’s just movie day. The final list will be included in my epilogue next week. (Oh yeah, there’s an epilogue—sorry, epi-blogue.)

Now, with out further banter, my day:

I arrived at the partially empty theatre at 9am, picked up my paper towel roll of tickets from the kiosk, and got to work in a half full theatre.

MOVIE ONE, 9:15 am – A Most Violent Year

Director JC Chandor’s ‘All is Lost’ was one of my favorite (and most interesting) movies of last year and ‘A Most Violent Year’ adds to the filmmakers’ run of unique “man vs the url-1world” stories. Set in the winter of 1981, AMVY follows Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac) and his wife Anna (Jessica Chastain), as they try to expand their oil business during the, statistically, most violent year in NYC history. It is a thesis-based story that revolves around how far a man can go while taking, or believing that he is taking, the right path to success in a time that seemingly calls for other, more amoral, methods of action.

AMVY’s tension and pacing matched the incredible slow burning performances by Chastain and Isaac. They are powerhouses and this movie doesn’t work without them. (Odd Tangent: in a fantasy film actress draft, I would take Chastain, Julianne Moore, or Marion Cotillard over Meryl Streep any day of the week.) There’s a true love and admiration between the two characters and it infuses itself into every conversation and fight that many films, especially in the recent ‘gangster’ genre, don’t ever capture. I would not call this a gangster movie. It’s a pre-gangster/mob movie. It depicts the moments in time where Morales is at the precipice of deciding if he morally can go to the place that he is seemingly destined to end up.

There’s something extremely raw and primal at the core of all of Chandor’s films, and this is no exception. The 1981 setting is not only executed well, but is a perfect background to the moral dilemmas that each character faces. Yes, it is slow at some points, and I don’t know if it every truly achieves certain guttural reactions from the audience that it is working for, but it’s a true thinking man’s semi-gangster movie and I enjoyed the hell out of it.

Now, as the weather kicked up into high gear, the movie theatre was visibly more crowded then when I arrived at nine. I had about 20 minutes until the next start time. To my genuine surprise, the next movie, ‘American Sniper’, had a myriad of friends and family attending. Even though it was in the largest (and my favorite) of the AMC theatre spaces, it was pretty difficult to find a seat in the packed mezzanine. Most of us sat together, as the next movie began:

MOVIE TWO, 11:45am – American Sniper

Bradley Cooper is amazing. He is hitting the highest performance quality stride of his career, but it’s unfortunate that this subtle performance is in a heavy-handed Americana movie. ‘American Sniper’ follows the true story of Chris Kyle (Cooper), lauded as the greatest American sniper, as he navigates his four Iraq tours and familial responsibilities.

Most of the set pieces and action sequences are well staged, but there is something missing from the overall narrative. What Chris Kyle achieved is amazing and I am so in awe urlof how he mentally and physically handled it. Over 160 kills in combat is heavy thing to comprehend. He is a true hero, but the movie about him is a little overlong, redundant, and devoid of anything other than surface level emotion and thematic exploration. That is an unfortunate staple of Clint Eastwood directed films and because of that I have never been a fan of his work behind the camera.

Without Cooper, this film is more or less a flop with excellent production value. The thing is, he really is great enough to save this movie. Sienna Miller (who I really do enjoy as an actress, Re: Factory Girl) is fine as his wife, Taya—the character’s bar introduction being her strongest scene. Beyond those moments, Taya and Chris’ conversations during the war never feel organic. Families all over the country deal, on a daily basis, with the issues of emotional and physical distance, but we never are shown enough of how difficult their lives apart are—we are only told in conversation and sweeping generalizations. This element of contemporary war/soldier films has been presented so much more effectively in better movies. We see plenty of shoot ‘em up action, which adds very little to the narrative of Chris when it feels more like space filler than important information.

This is supposed to be a story about one of the greatest men who ever served this country, but it only feels like just another Iraqi War movie—especially in the depiction of the “evil” Mustafa sniper character. It crosses the border into cartoonish supervillian, effectively diminishing the reality of what Kyle was accomplished on his tours. In a weird way, by making his need to return to Iraqi hinge on this specific plot point, his dramatic struggle seem less genuine.

The movie loses itself at the end of the first act. In the opening sequence, just as Kyle is about to pull the trigger on his first kill, we flashback to how he got there. The journey behind his kills is a genuinely interesting way to tell this story. How did this great man get to this moment to make these decisions? Eastwood sets us up for a psychological film that we never truly get. When the movie catches up with itself about 45 minutes later, it becomes a straightforward, mediocre war film about a great man, played by a great actor.

Next up was my hardest transition of the day. ‘Sniper’ ended at 2:10pm and I stayed around to talk to all of the amazing people who showed up. I had a seat saved for me by friends who were already in the next theatre, so I sat down just as the opening credits rolled for movie three.

MOVIE THREE, 2:15pm – Top Five

Luckily, I planned my schedule with Chris Rock’s ‘Top Five’ to break up the day because that had been a pretty intense five-hour morning of movie watching. ‘Top Five’ follows comedy superstar Andre Allen (Chris Rock) during a NYC press tour for his new movie opening the week before his impending nuptials to reality show superstar Erica Long (Gabriella Union). Joined by Chelsea Brown (an absolutely charming Rosario Dawson), a journalist trying to get to the core of the real Andre Allen, the two relive and attempt to exercise their personal and career demons.

This movie is not for everybody, but I really enjoyed the a gem of a meta-statement from Rock, even if many of his top five lists went over my head. While this is by no means an auto-biopic, it is clearly crafted by a man who has lived and experienced these aspects of celebrity. From the commentary on reality tv, technology, the movie business, and o-TOP-FIVE-POSTER-570sobriety, this is a poignant (if not always funny) portrait of a seemingly successful comedian in our changing times. Rock is truly expressing himself in a way he hasn’t been able to since his highly successful stand-up days.

The first half of the movie tries a little too hard with insight and topical jokes, but never apologizes for its liberal point of view. As Allen relives some of his past mistakes and reconnects with his rambunctious family (it was refreshing to see Tracy Morgan again, even if it was pre-car accident), the actors in these scenes are having so much fun, it’s hard to not be intoxicated by it all. It’s always a true delight to belly laugh with a fully packed theatre. The second half of the movie, while hitting familiar ‘you’re not who I thought you were’ plot points, elevates this movie to something greater than your expected Chris Rock comedy. He presents so many unanswered questions dealing with expectation, happiness, and judgment in today’s ever-changing world that sear into your mind.

There is a scene close to the end of the film, where Allen experiences a high and euphoria that no drug could ever bring him. It’s such a life affirming moment for the character—one that I very much connected to on a deeper level. For me, this scene is, almost, weirdly comparable to the final 10 minutes of ‘Whiplash,’ but not nearly as intense.

Stuffed with incredibly effective cameos, an appearance in the very Lincoln Center AMC that we were sitting in (HAPPY MOVIE DAY), and a wonderful second act, ‘Top Five’ achieves exactly what it set out to do with some moments that go above and beyond.

I wouldn’t say that the second half of the day involved quick transitions like the morning, but because of busy theatre, seating was limited. I had eaten in ‘Top Five’ (thanks Jay for the McDonald’s McChicken!) and made quick water fountain/bathroom runs in between movies, so there was always enough time in general. For the next movie we sat a bit too close to the screen for my liking, but it wasn’t close enough to ruin the overall experience.

MOVIE FOUR, 4:30pm – Unbroken

‘Unbroken’ is the true story about an Olympic athlete who was lost at sea in WWII, only to be held in a Japanese POW camp. It is adapted by the Cohen brothers from a best selling novel and it should be way more effective than the film I saw. Unfortunately, the blame for has to fall on its director, Angelina Jolie.

Based on the cinematography, by the always fantastic Roger Deakins, Jolie has a good eye for composition, but that’s like going to a play and saying, “Well, the set was nice.” By no means do I want to downplay the amazing courage, strength, and pure will power that the real Louis Zamperini (Jack O’Connell) had to call upon in order to endure this torturous portion of his life. I just don’t think that this movie did it justice. All of the acting was fineurl-2 enough, but each character had no true personality. All Louis’ fellow prisoners started to blend into one another, including Louis himself. His pain and suffering seemed no different than anybody else, even though we were shown all aspect of his suffering. I think that this can be attributed to the poor depiction of the passage of time once they entered the POW camp.

‘Unbroken’ feels like three different movies rolled up into one with the only connecting factor being Louis. There is no flow or build from one dire situation to the next. It was a movie of plot point after plot point, with no emotional depth. I saw Forest Gump/Chariots of Fire, Open Water/Cast Away/All Is Lost, and Fill-In-The-Blank POW camp movie at once. It hit all the notes that need to be hit to qualify as one of these types of films above without capturing any of the characterization. As an audience member, I was left to empathize and sympathize based on recognizing that what was happening on screen, to a character I have been watching with apathy, was “bad.” Honestly, there was so much violence in the camp sequences with no dramatic through line or cinematic subtly that it felt like torture for torture’s sake. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel like I got to know Louie on anything more than surface level and therefore the real videos and pictures at the film’s end was unearned and wasted.

Similar to ‘American Sniper’, the film starts off with flashbacks to and from the main character’s hell of a present and informative past. Once the movie lost that structure, it lost its way. So much of the opening was dedicated to Louis relationship with God and mysteriously that threat is completely missing in the movie’s second half, only to come back at the very end. If this is the point of the film, why didn’t I see more of that, as it was clearly a character arc priority?

I didn’t like this film, but I recognize that Jolie has an incredible amount of potential as a filmmaker. There are well-executed moments of suspense, grandeur, and feeling and I hope she evolves into director that I’d like to see on a regular basis. For now, I’ll settle for others. However, I would love for somebody to explain to me how Louis shaved and kept is hair so short and perfectly quaffed in a prisoner of war camp for that long.

 ‘Big Eyes’ ended up being sold out (good thing I had my tickets), so as we entered the theatre, I found the only seats available, two rows back from the screen. Those were going to be some very big eyes, indeed.

MOVIE FIVE, 7:15pm – Big Eyes

While not for the reasons I originally thought (‘Unbroken ended up being broken), I’m glad that ‘Big Eyes’ was here for a little breathing room. Recounting the true story of artist Margret Keane (Amy Adams), ‘Big Eyes’ is Tim Burton’s take on Walter Keane’s (Christoph Waltz) fraudulent claims that he painted his wife’s big eyed waif artwork. Bottom line, it was really nice to see Tim Burton not directing an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ or ‘Dark Shadows’. The best parts of this enjoyable, but forgettable, film come from the “Burton-esqe” moments and strong performances.

Waltz is a kick to watch. His con-man antics, while despicable, are such a great contrast to Amy Adam’s timid, inspired, and tortured artist. What could have been the movie’s deal big_eyes.15ce0090408.originalbreaker, failing to justify why Margaret would allow Walter to carry on using her artwork as his goldmine, doesn’t derail the movie, but becomes its believable center.

As I mentioned, the film’s best moments are the clear Tim Burton choices. Margret’s trip to the grocery store (where she, of course, passes the Campbell’s soup display) is probably the deepest we get into the psyche of any of the characters. We are finally treated to how she views the world, as the food shoppers display their waif-like big eyes to her in her time of panic. If this is how she sees the world, people, and their souls, then of course this lie has been eating at her all of these years.

It’s no ‘Big Fish’, but has hints of ‘Edward Scissorhands’ and ‘Ed Wood’. (And that’s aside from color palettes and time period). As an Oscar attempt, ‘Big Eyes’ is weak and forgettable overall. Burton seems a little out of practice with this smaller scale type of movie, but it was a pleasure to sit through, especially the outrageous final scenes.

At this point the whole theatre emptied out a bit. We had the most transition time of the day, a half hour, so I took a well deserved breather in the lobby as we waiting to be let into the next showing. We sat in our best seats of the day and buckled up for the final film. (Note: These seat did not have buckles.)

MOVIE SIX, 9:50pm – Selma

I am so happy that I ended with ‘Selma’, as it was by far the best of the day. Depicting only a small portion of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s (David Oyelowo) life, ‘Selma’ focuses on the march from Selma, AL to the capital building in Montgomery, to ensure the right to vote for the black population in the state and country. Among other elements, it was incredibly refreshing to see a biopic set in the 1960’s, in which dramatic tension wasn’t building to an assassination.  ‘Selma’ shows the true courage, fear, bravery, and flaws of one of the most important American men of all time. Where other films on movie day lacked depth of character, ‘Selma’ made up for it.

David Oyelowo captures what we can understand to be the true essence of Dr. King Jr., as his confidence and passion oozed off of the screen. In every moment he carried the tangible weight of the lives of his entire race on his shoulders. His vulnerability and search for strength are the more powerful because of it. Everybody from Oprah to Common to Tim Roth to Tom Wilskinson brought their A game, regardless of screen time. Carmen Ejogo, asselma-movie-poster Coretta Scott King, is dynamite, especially in what may have been the best scene of the movie. As she and King Jr. discuss his infidelities and the fog of death that clouds their marriage, you could only hear a pin drop if your goosebumps weren’t loud enough. King Jr. wasn’t a perfect man, but he was a man who fought for much more than any person can realistically take on himself. The film is so bold in encompassing all of what made the man, elevating the stakes tenfold.

Ava DuVernay’s direction is so full of passion, love, and a well-executed CIA framework structure, that it may very well be one the best of the year—joining Wes, Alejandro, and Richard. I’m in awe of the power she infuses into every conversation, bridge march, and tender moment without every tipping over into melodramatic territory. These were real people—faults and all—dealing with real issues.

Obviously, it cannot be overlooked that, aside from being a great historical period piece, ‘Selma’ and its message directly correlates to our current state of American social affairs. This makes the film twice as powerful. It is a truly skilled director who can draw parallels to today without losing the narrative of a film. The end credits song choice clarifies her intentions, but it’s impossible to not draw comparisons while watching all two hours of film. I want to note that the violence in the film was purposeful, a nice change from the movies before this one. Hopefully ‘Selma’ will be seen by as many people as possible and used as some sort of a teaching tool. Please, see this movie.

What a day! The funny, as well as crazy, thing is, I easily could have sat through another movie. And, I kind of, sort of did…

During a writing break from this very recap you’re reading, I ventured out into the world to, yes, see another movie. Originally, I had saved ‘The Imitation Game’ to be include during this years’ movie day, but theaters and showtimes didn’t allow it to fit in to the plans. So, with out further ado, I bring you:

A Bonus Review!

 MOVIE SEVEN? 4:10pm – The Imitation Game

What ‘Unbroken’ and ‘American Sniper’ lacked in the cohesive flashback department, ‘The Imitation Game’ made up for in spades. To win World War II, mathematician Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) led a team of the greatest British minds to break the unbreakable Nazi code. The film not only depicts the frustrating process to crack the transmissions, but Turing’s childhood, and his post war life. These three interwoven portions of his story are told in a well-paced, dramatically effective narrative that never feels overlong.

Cumberbatch and Keira Knightly are fantastic. While Cumberbatch stands out, as he is the sole lead of the film, Knightly makes the most of her scenes. She really has become an Poster-art-for-The-Imitation-Game-film-Alan-Turing-Enigma-codebreaking-movieexcellent actress—making smart film choices along the way. The two bring a smart sense to these roles and the movie in general. Cumberbatch’s “on the spectrum” Turing is so understandably unlikable and charming in the same breath, while Knightly’s Joan Clarke interacts with him with such grace and genuine interest, that their screen presence, apart or together, is magnetic. Mark Strong, Charles Dance, Matthew Goode, Allen Leech, Matthew Beard, and Alex Lawther all leave memorable impressions, despite this being the Benedict Cumberbatch show.

The movie hits all of the usual plot and emotional points that a British historical drama should, but even with guessing certain inevitable outcomes, every moment feels organic, earned, and character driven. The three separate time frames were very easy to follow and never overwhelmed or complicated the character study.  I’m not familiar with the director, Morten Tyldon, and his work, but he certainly tells a concise, nicely structured story.

The well balanced film is infused with a wonderful sense of humor and perfectly placed twists that add layers to the excellent final act. The take away is informative and heartbreaking on so many levels—never seeming to come out of nowhere. This is one of the better “true story” films I’ve seen this year and would have ranked very high had it been included on movie day.

So yeah. Wow. A lot of true stories and violence. Hmmm. Interesting. Needless to say, I am well prepared for the awards season, among other things (insane asylum? corrective eye surgery? professional Netlflix watcher? I mean this is my version of a Netflix binge.)

Here’s my “Summary List” in order from worst to best:

6. Unbroken – Boo Urns.
5. Big Eyes – Fine, but forgettable.
4. American Sniper – Movie? Meh. Cooper? Great enough to be better than ‘Big Eyes’.
3. Top Five – Funny and Poignant.
2. A Most Violent Year – Excellent film.
2* (The Imitation Game) – It would be ranked 2nd had it been seen within the marathon.
1. Selma – Run to see it.

I love the movies. I love them so much. If you’ve made it this far down the blog page, I want to thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts and passion with you. Perhaps I’ll see you next year on movie day?

Anyway, I’m off to watch a movie… (not a joke)

Keep on Watchin’!

-Bryan

Movie Day is Coming…

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Yes. I love clip art…

The new year has begun, and what better way then to celebrate it with the all-powerful, annual…

MOVIE DAY!!!!!

Yes friends, come join me as I romp about (in a seated, quiet manner) through the dark cavernous New York City movie theatre scene, viewing a whole myriad of moving pictures in one glorious day!

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Random Movie Theatre, USA! AMERICA!!!!!!! FREEDOM!!!!

This year’s list is a doozy! I’ve specifically held back in my moving going ventures to “save up” films for this day.  I’m hoping that because it is on a weekend and includes some ‘bigger’ movies, I’ll see more of your shining faces this year.  Then we can all win our Oscar pools this year.  Mwahahaha!

But first I’d like to apologize, as this list is coming out later then usual. The movie theatres changed some of the times last minute, so I had to do a quick, razzle dazzle, re-haul of the movie day schedule.  After learning from last years’ lackluster day, I believe that Sunday’s docket  is going to work very well! So, with out further ado, so you adon’t have to wait any longer, here is your movie day schedule.

MOVIE DAY – SUNDAY, JANUARY, 5th 2014 

10:05 am – The Wolf Of Wall Street (AMC EMPIRE 25)

2:00 pm – Big {Yeah, the 1988 Tom Hanks Movie!} (AMC EMPIRE 25)

4:20 pm – Her (AMC EMPIRE 25)

7:20 pm – Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (AMC LOWES LINCOLN PLAZA 13)

10:15 pm – August: Osage County (AMC LOWES LINCOLN PLAZA 13)

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This seat is reserved… FOR YOU!!!!* (*Note: Popcorn, Drink, and Seat will not be reserved.)

It’s supposed to be a fun day, not a tedious and stressful one, so I’ve scheduled to avoid an overstuffed and bloated viewing experience.  It’s only five movies this year, but I think the balance is going to create a nice flow.  There are some nice breaks in-between films to absorb, pee, and eat. (Not at the same time… Or maybe at the same time.)

Last year became long winded and chore-like, so let’s get back to what movie day is supposed to be: the enjoyment of the movie theatre experience.  Again, I’d love it if you could join me for any of the films, so feel free to purchase your tickets in advance!

Movie Day… ASSEMBLE!!!!!

Keep on Watchin’!

-Bryan