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Thursday, 30 July 2015

Best Leading Actress 2014: Reese Witherspoon - Wild

Wild is very decent film about a woman, who has had a difficult life and she's trying to 'find herself' on a journey into the wild. The first thing you notice is that the plot of the film is not very original, but it's based on a true story, so you probably can imagine, why it was even made. It's basically a little less interesting Into the Wild with lots of flashbacks and some wonderful work from editors and sound mixers. And a powerful leading performance given by Reese Witherspoon.
While many people have a problem with Reese's Oscar win, I think she gave a very decent performance. I can't say now, if I'd give her my win, but her performance definitely was very fine. This was her second nomination since and the funny thing is that she only gets nominated when she is in dramatic film, yet she's considered to be a great comedic actress.
The first time I watched the film, I found Witherspoon's performance to be like a roller-coaster. Some scenes were outstanding, some were too boring. This time I didn't have this problem. I thought that her performance is keeping its quality throughout the entire film.
A decent part of her performance is the voiceover. Since Cheryl is alone in the nature, we get to know her thoughts from the voiceovers. Witherspoon handles them quite well. Her voice always corresponds with her facial expressions and she is able to express emotions with her voice wonderfully. She never overplays it, so that she never seems like a narrator a it is something that must be mentioned, because that might have happened easily.
What I really liked about Witherspoon approach to her character is that she doesn't portray Cheryl as a strong woman, who is so perfect that she easily hikes that long distance. Cheryl in her hands is a woman with mistakes and she's as weak, as you and me. It's important to humanize such characters and Witherspoon succeeded in that.
She is also great in portraying the issues she had had before he stared hiking. The film itself helps her a lot with flashbacks and the editing, but there's something we can't take her. And it's the fact that the film stands on her shoulders. Just like Into the Wild, or 127 hours few years ago, the film is equally good as its leading peformance. Thankfully, Witherspoon make justice to her film. It's not a performance that would make you stand and clap, but it's a great turn from an actress that will soon be worshipped, if she stays proving her talents in good enough films.
The chances of winning an Oscar: She has won recently, so it lowers down her chances. It's not a performance showy enough to win Oscars. I think she was fighting for the fourth slot with Jones.  

Friday, 13 March 2015

Best Leading Actress 2014: Julianne Moore - Still Alice

Still Alice is a very fine film that made a strong impact on me. It shows how an disease can change you and according to my past health issues it touched me deeply. But I realize that as a film, it was not a special one. It's one of those films that are just as good, as their leading performance. Fortunately, Moore was really great.
This is a very difficult character to play. (Interesting thing is that both of this year's leading acting winners had very difficult thing to do, because they had to play disease, though both of them had a different issue to solve.) At the beginning of the film, Alice is relatively healthy. There are only some small circumstantial evidence about some starting disease. But at the end of the film we see Alice at an absolute breakdown, when her illness is controlling her absolutely. This change is very slow and it is not an easy thing to stay realistic in this reinvention. But Moore is so great that we are not even realizing the change. It is not that she would underplay it, but she really sensitively shows the little steps that the Alzheimer's disease is making. As an example of this change, the first scene of the film shows Alice lecturing. And then, later in the film, when the disease is advanced, she has a speech in front of other people affected by it. The difference is very big and Moore handles it quite great.
What I really adore about this performance is its authencity. Many scenes are very subtle, but Moore finds something interesting in them and transports it into her performance. For example the scenes at the doctor are simply fantastic. He asks her some questions and before she answers, we can absolutely see her thinking about it. What is also perfect about it is the way she tries to look as healthy, as possible. That is probably just the way everyone would react and Moore is perfect in showing this.
Disease as such would certainly affect your personal life. That's why it's very important to have chemistry with your co-stars. Her husband is played by Alec Baldwin and I must admit that I didn't like him very much. He was very bland in his role and I think he didn't really catch what would a man in his situation have to go through. But his chemistry with Moore is surprisingly very good. It might be because it's really difficult to not have chemistry with Julianne Moore. Also her chemistry with her children is very good, though the direction doesn't really focus on them, except from the one played by Kristen Stewart. It would be Stewart's chemistry with her siblings that I would have had complaints to, though she was really very good in her role, as well.
Though Moore was authentic most of the time, there are a few moments in which she overacts a bit. It's some kind of habit of Moore's that she always has a few scenes throughout her performance that are overacted. For example even her SAG clip was one of those moments. But that is really a negligible mistake and to me it's even sympathic...

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Best Leading Actress 2014: Rosamund Pike - Gone Girl

WARNING: The following review cannot be done without spoilers. So if you haven't seen the film, I recommend not reading it.
David Fincher definitely can create a fantastic and chilling atmosphere, especially in his late films. Gone Girl really is a fascinating story about and an unconventional relationship. Apart from the atmosphere, screenplay, or technical achievements, the performance of Ben Affleck is probably the most fascinating thing about it. I'm not going crazy about it, but it certainly is a very fine performance that even has got its depth, which is shocking from Affleck.
But the performance that really stands out of the otherwise very solid ensemble is Rosamund Pike's. She plays Amy, Affleck's character Nick's wife, who disappears. Before the twist, Amy is portrayed as some sort of femme fatale. As a beautiful and intelligent young woman, though very mysterious. She is mysterious in an inviting way. You won't have a hard time understanding, why Nick fell for her. Pike is great in portraying this kind of woman. She creates such atmosphere around her, that we want to find out, who is this woman? How does she think? In a metaphoric way, we fall in love with her through the screen.
Before the middle of the film, there is a twist. In that we find out that she rigged the missing and is on her way away from her husband. Though we find out something more about her, there is still a mystery around her. That is something I should probably criticise, but there is no reason to. She portrays Amy as a human being. I mean, every woman (or simply everyone) has got secrets. We never get under them, just as we never get under the secrets of people around us.
Amy is a very cruel woman. She not only does something to make his husband suffer for the marriage they had, but is in fact able to kill. Despite this I completely understand, why is this film so beloved among feminists. It shows woman, who has got her needs, feelings, cravings, as well as mistakes. That's why this performance is so human. Though she does something that is very bold, when she is threatened, she just as defenseless, as everyone else would be (the scene she is being robbed in).
There is a scene at the end of the film, where Amy watches Nick on TV confessing that he was cheating on Amy. Pike's acting the reaction is actually fantastic. She not only stays realistic, but her reaction is also very funny. We see that she's in shock, she doesn't understand what she's watching right now and she thinking about how it changes her plan and what must she do now. She achieves all that in just one look.
A great performances stays within you a long time after watching a film. But I can't think of any other performance in a while that would hit me that much. I was thinking about Amy, as I would be thinking about a strange person, if I met one. My attitude towards Amy was the same as towards a real person. That's something I cannot say about many performances and it might be the biggest proof of a fantastic performance...
The chances of winning an Oscar: The would be the second choice after Julianne Moore. But Julianne seems unbeatable right now...

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Best Leading Actress 2014: Marion Cotillard - Two Days, One Night

Many people ask me, why I don't like European or indie films. The answer is very simple. They are too life-like. Why do people watch films, or go to the theatre? So that they can escape reality and watch the other people's problems and enjoy watching it. So what is the purpose in making films, in which we witness the storyline so real and the performance so realistic, that it really seems as if we were watching reality shows? I see that many people worship that, but I only get bored by it. That's why I usually avoid European and indie film, because most of them (I'm saying most, because definitely not all of them) are just too naturalistic.
Unfortunately, Two Day, One Night is exactly that kind of film. Authentic and extremely boring. This one is even so unbearable, that I had moments, when I thought I need to stop watching immediately and never continue again.
Marion Cotillard plays a young woman, who had some psychical issues and therefore she was forced to not go to work. Now she's feeling better and wants to start working again, but she found out the situation is not that easy. It's either her working again, or her colleagues don't get the money bonus. So she takes an utterly exciting trip all around the neighbourhood and tries to explain all of her co-workers, how much she really needs the job.
Cotillard is a great actress. Since her Oscar win for La Vie en Rose she has been snubbed many times. It's a pity she got nominated exactly for this performance, since it's far from her best work since 2007 and it's even further from her most interesting work.
I know, her peformance is technically flawless. And that's it. That is all I can write about this performance, because there is nothing more to it. She copied the real life and now we can see it. The thing is, we don't want to see it. I know it's not her fault and in terms of acting, there can really be no complaint said. But...you know...when I think of this performance, the first word that comes to my mind is not 'perfect', but 'boring'. And that is definitely wrong.
No, I wouldn't nominate this performance, not even by an accident. I think we have Harvey to blame here, because she gave a better (and more interesting performance) in The Immigrant, whose campaign was unaccountably low. In that film she not only gave a better performance, but she even played a better character. This is a strange thing that happens often at the Oscars. An actor has two great performances in one year and he gets nominated for the worse one (e,g. Sean Penn in 2003). But what can we do?
The chances of winning: In fact they are higher than I'd appreciate. She's probably the third. But it would not look good in history, if she won her second Oscar for this particular performance... 

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Next Year: Best Leading Actress 2014

The Nominees:
Felicity Jones - The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore - Still Alice (predicted winner)
Marion Cotillard - Two Days, One Night
Reese Witherspoon - Wild
Rosamund Pike - Gone Girl

So, this year's nominees are announced now. We have a surprise (Cotillard) and some snubs (Aniston, Adams), but anyway. Who do you think will win? What are your predictions for my pick? What are your nominees and winner? Tell us in comment! 

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Final Oscar Nominees Predictions!

Hi! I've put down my own predictions for this year. They are a bit braver, than you might expect, but who knows? I hope I get at least one upset right (because I have them among my predictions more). The films are written in the order of what I think is the probability of their nomination. Enjoy!

best picture:
Boyhood
Birdman
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
American Sniper
The Theory of Everything
Whiplash
Gone Girl
Foxcatcher
alt.: Selma, Nightcrawler

directing:
Richard Linklater – Boyhood
Alejandro Gonzáles Iňárritu – Birdman
Morten Tyldum – The Imitation Game
Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Clint Eastwood – American Sniper
alt.: Ava DuVernay – Selma, David Fincher – Gone Girl

original screenplay:
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Birdman
Boyhood
Selma
Foxcatcher
alt.: Nightcrawler

adapted screenplay:
Gone Girl
The Imitation Game
Whiplash
American Sniper
The Theory of Everything
alt.: Wild

leading actor:
Michael Keaton – Birdman
Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything
Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game
Ralph Fiennes – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Bradley Cooper – American Sniper
alt.: Jake Gyllenhaal – Nightcrawler, David Oyelowo – Selma

leading actress:
Julianne Moore – Still Alice
Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl
Amy Adams – Big Eyes
Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything
Reese Witherspoon - Wild
alt.: Jennifer Aniston - Cake

supporting actor:
J.K. Simmons – Whiplash
Edward Norton – Birdman
Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher
Ethan Hawke – Boyhood
Steve Carell – Foxcatcher
alt.: Robert Duvall – The Judge, Tom Wilkinson – Selma

supporting actress:
Patricia Arquette – Boyhood
Meryl Streep – Into the Woods
Keira Knightley – The Imitation Game
Emma Stone – Birdman
Naomi Watts - St. Vincent (or Birdman)
alt.: Tilda Swinton - Snowpiercer, Jessica Chastain – A Most Violent Year

cinematography:
Birdman
Unbroken
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Mr. Turner
alt.: Insterstellar, Gone Girl

art direction:
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Into the Woods
Big Eyes
Snowpiercer
alt.: Interstellar, Mr. Turner, unbroken

costume design:
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Into the Woods
Big Eyes
Maleficent
Mr. Turner
alt.: The Theory of Everything, Birdman

makeup:
Foxcatcher
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Guardians of the Galaxy
alt.: The Theory of Everything

sound mixing:
American Sniper
Interstellar
Into the Woods
Birdman
Unbroken
alt.: Guardians of the Galaxy, Get On Up

sound editing:
American Sniper
Interstellar
Unbroken
Guardians of the Galaxy
Godzilla
alt.: Fury, The Lego Movie, Into the Woods

film editing:
Birdman
Boyhood
Whiplash
The Imitation Game
Gone Girl
alt.: American Sniper, The Grand Budapest Hotel

original song:
Selma – Glory
The Lego Movie – Everything Is Awesome
Begin Again – Lost Stars
Big Eyes – Big Eyes
The song from Glen Campbell documentary
alt.: Noah – Mercy Is, Annie – Opportunity

original score:
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything
Gone Girl
Interstellar
Big Eyes
alt.: The Grand Budapest Hotel, Snowpiercer

visual effects:
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Interstellar
Guardians of the Galaxy
The Hobbit no. 3
Godzilla
alt.: Captain America 2, Transformers 4, or 5?

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Happy New Year!

Hi everyone,
you must be probably thinking that I disappeared from the actual world, at least from the world online. No, I'm alive I have just been busy recently. I guess now is the time for a little conclusion of the year. And except for that, you deserve an article after a long long time. Especially, if there still is someone, who's remained reading this blog.
2014 was quite a successfull year for me. The greatest achievement that I have to share with you is that around April I have been accepted to the Academy of Performing Arts (yes, that young I am) and now I'm an official student of acting (in Europe). So, who knows? Maybe one day I'll have to review myself. (Just kidding, the probability of that is lower than the probability that tommorrow bananas will be raining.)
That is actually the reason, why I couldn't work on this blog. The school is really difficult in terms of time that I have to spend with/in it. So I want to apologize to you for the lack of articles and reviews and promise you that in next few weeks I'll review all the acting categories of this year's Oscars and maybe I'll also finish leading actor 1994, so that I could go on reviewing in my free time.
Now I'm going to put down my nominees for best performances I have seen in 2014 (no matter what year the film was released in and for this special award even TV performances are eligible) - though I must have seen the film for the first time. Here they are:

leading actor:
Chiwetel Ejiofor – Twelve Years a SlaveChristian Bale – American Hustle
Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything
Mark Ruffalo – The Normal Heart
Ralph Fiennes – The Grand Budapest Hotel

leading actress:
Bette Midler – Gypsy (1993 TV)
Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore – Still Alice
Meryl Streep – August: Osage County
Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl

supporting actor:
Charlie Cox – The Theory of Everything
Daniel Bruhl – Rush
Matt Bomer – The Normal Heart
Michael Fassbender – Twelve Years a Slave
Robert Duvall – The Judge

supporting actress:
Cynthia Gibb – Gypsy (1993 TV)
Julia Roberts – August: Osage County
Julia Roberts – The Normal Heart
Sarah Paulson – Twelve Years a Slave
Tilda Swinton – Snowpiercer

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Next Year: Best Leading Actor 1994

The Nominees:
John Travolta - Pulp Fiction
Morgan Freeman - The Shawshank Redemption
Nigel Hawthorne - The Madness of King George
Paul Newman - Nobody's Fool
Tom Hanks - Forrest Gump

So, what is your ranking? What is your prediction for my ranking? What are your nominees? What are some notable performances that were snubbed? Comment!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Best Supporting Actor 1976

5. Burt Young - Rocky
Young is painfully forgettable in such a juicy role of Rocky's best friend. He's got a few scenes that really could have been perfect, but they only stay uninteresting. He's very overacted and almost never believable. He failed to portray this character the way it should be, because he simply isn't capable of handling a real human character. It was rather a cartoon, that didn't work for this film...

4. Jason Robards - All the President's Men
Robards is fine. But his character is so boring, that it couldn't be a great performance. On the other hand, there cannot be any complaint about his performance. He did everything the film required of him. But to be honest, it was not very much...

3. Ned Beatty - Network
In one short response and one short scene, Beatty was able to leave such an impression on the Academy, that they nominated him. He wasn't bad. Though he was overacting, he fulfilled the purpose of his character in the film. I mean, it wasn't supposed to be a realisticly handled human being. It should be a nervous wreck. A screaming bundle. And in this he succeeded. But his short moment wasn't anything spectacular to actually get some grand attention...

2. Burgess Meredith - Rocky
Meredith's performance is probably the most iconic out of this year's nominees. His trainer Mickey is a very good character, because he is ambiguous. The first half of the film he's really mean to Rocky and it is the scenes in this part of the film that caused Meredith is the second. He was so much overacting and some of his lines seemed very unnatural. But from the scene of persuading Rocky that is the standout of his performance (and it's really excellent) he becomes more and more believable. And you will simply like his character, at the end of the day...

1. Laurence Olivier - Marathon Man
Though it's not the most memorable villain that I have ever seen, it is an effective one. And the most important thing is that he's so human, that we almost empathize with him. Because of the subtlety, that Olivier had chosen to play Szell with, it becomes a very creepy villain. And the final scene is great!

My nominees:
1. Marty Feldman - Silent Movie
2. Laurence Olivier - Marathon Man
3. Robert Duvall - Network
4. Ron Howard - The Shootist
5. Burgess Meredith - Rocky

Louis, since your prediction was right, you can choose the next year I'll do...

Monday, 14 April 2014

Best Supporting Actor 1976: Laurence Olivier - Marathon Man

Marathon Man is quite an effective thriller according to the time it was made in, but the storyline isn't very strong. Another thing is that Dustin Hoffman in the leading role is obviously a miscast, since his character is more than a decade younger than he was at the time of shooting. He's definitely trying to do his best and he's actually very fine, but still it was strange. I just couldn't believe that he was young. He just wasn't.
Luckily, Laurence Olivier in a supporting turn of Marathon Man's villain is not a miscast. In fact, we need to wait quite a while to finally see Olivier on screen and when he does appear, he doesn't have a lot to do in his initial scenes, therefore there's not much to go wrong at.
First time he has got some place to show off his talents is the famous scene of torture. Though he's only got to say one line: 'Is it safe?', it is in fact a very juicy scene. A mediocore actor would have become flat. But Olivier was able to get the most out of this situation and even become evil.
In fact, Olivier's portrayal is very subtle. He only goes over the top in two short responses that are easily forgivable. His entire performance is very subtle and that's what is so terrifying about his character Dr. Szell. With his gentleness he becomes creepy. And that's why his performance works so well.
On the other hand we can look at the same thing differently. Because of this subtlety, his performance lacks some memorable moments. Even the legendary torture scene was too subtle to be something extraordinary. The subtlety worked greatly in the film, but after watching it you may easily forget his performance. If you compare it to some other villains in movie history, the most memorable ones were always a bit overacted, while Szell is not. That might be the reason, why he doesn't stand among the Joker, Keyser Soze, or Hannibal Lecter.
But it is still a very effective performance. He might be too human to really leave deeper impression on the audience, but that's the guilt of the script and the director. Olivier stays very realistic almost thoughout his whole performance and that's why it works. It may not be the most memorable villain in the history of film, but a very decent one, yes! And what makes this villain different from the most of villains is that his behaviour is rational. He is greedy, that's all. It is so simple, that it is perfect, because we can more easily understand him. He shows this perfectly in his last scene that is also the climatic scene of the film. That might be the only, or the most memorable scene of this portrayal.
The chances of winning an Oscar: I believe that he was the second. He's won a Golden Globe and after almost thirty years he must have been an overdue...