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Sunday, February 7, 2016

Gone into Digressing

Good evening one and all. I bid thee a gracious hello on this freezing yet beautiful day. This contradicts the "good evening" I just said, but I am not completely sure when I'll be posting this. As always, I write for weeks before officially posting. Anyway. This post won't be anything special. As if any other post is magical. I say "post" often.) Currently, I am in my accounting class, writing this old-fashioned with a pen and paper. Obviously, I'll be transferring this online for your reading pleasure. I'm not really sure why I decided to write, therefore I have no specific topic in mind. I should be judiciously taking notes since I am, after all, in class, but it's accounting and the professor is shit at lecturing. I digress. This entire post will probably consist solely of digressions.

To remain true to the nature of this blog, I will talk about the movie, Gone Girl. I don't mean to say that the nature of this blog is the movie Gone Girl, just movies in general. You understand. I was about to write cunderstand, that would've been bad. Because it sounds like cun...berbatch. Benedict Cumberbatch. Wow, this is terrible. I just watched it for a second time, and my dad and I agree that it was just as good, if not better, as the first time. Watching it again also reminds me of my seething rage that Rosamund Pike failed to receive the Best Actress Oscar for her performance. While I recall her role as a beautifully psychotic (or psychotically beautiful) wife, the second time watching her was absolutely entrancing. Indeed, now that I knew what her plan was and what she's capable of, I could overlook the plot and savor in the majesty of her performance. Beyond her stunning portrayal as Amazing Amy, the movie as a whole was magnificent. Granted, it was based on a best-selling novel, so most of the work put into the film was, objectively speaking, already finished. However, adapting a well-made book into a well-made movie is challenging. Just look at Twilight. Because of Gone Girl's popularity, the anticipation for the adaptation was immeasurable and the pressure to satisfy fans is even more considerable. Fortunately, Gillian Flynn, the author of Gone Girl, wrote the screenplay, and David Fincher, fortunately, directed one hell of a picture. I place emphasis on "fortunately" because David Fincher's track record with movies is split, in my opinion. On one hand, we have Fight Club and The Game (and Zodiac, which was excellent until it turned into a drag of three unnecessary hours); on the other hand, we have Se7en, Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and The Social Network. I realize that those last three films I mentioned were critically acclaimed and adored by general audiences. However, I truly did not like them. The direction of Se7en, as I've said in the post about the movie I wrote long ago, was slow yet chaotic, accompanied by a disturbing buzzing-of-flies sound in the background. Benjamin Button was a film I sorely wanted to enjoy, but the pacing of the film was tedious and the chemistry between the actors on screen was poorly directed by Fincher. The Social Network is simply a pretentious film, written by the very pretentious Aaron Sorkin. Overall, it was a solid movie, but the reception for the movie was exaggerated: it was not that good. I digress.
The film is masterfully constructed, divided into "parts" that give the viewer a satiating feeling of constant shock and mesmerization. Not memorization, that wouldn't make sense. Part One of the film, as I see it, is the mystery behind the disappearance of Amy Dunne. Another component to Part One is the rising suspicion that Nick Dunne, her husband, murdered her. As the husband, Ben Affleck gives a solid performance, which is an improvement from his earlier Razzie-worthy performances. Seriously, who would have imagined that Gigli and Daredevil could give a decent performance in Gone Girl, let alone direct an Oscar-worthy movie like Argo? Back to the film, the evidence that Nick had murdered his wife was considerable. Add the fact that Nick was having an affair with a student, there's motive. A classy motive at that--sarcasm. The first part ends with the arrest of Nick Dunne and the discovery, to the audience, that Amy was alive and kicking. Part Two begins with Amy's chilling explanation of how she framed her husband. This entire reasoning alone is deserving of an Oscar. Rosamund Pike did a complete switch. From a frightened and sympathetic wife to a sinister, calculating villain. Her transformation is a beauty to watch; she is utterly hypnotic.
I get the feeling that many women hate Amy Dunne. She may be considered a bane to female existence because she took advantage of the media with deceit and misrepresentation. Also part of this deceit was exploiting her femininity and fragility to gain sympathy from the world. When in reality women should be masculine and rigid...I guess? Because I am not a feminist--not a radical one anyway--I'd have to go ahead and say fuck that. See, I can curse like ladies aren't supposed to. First of all, this is a movie and Rosamund Pike was portraying a fictional character. Second, the film was merely delineating the theme that the general public is a mob and that a single person can manipulate the media and therefore shape the minds of the people. While this is a pessimistic view of the public and could very likely be taken as insulting...it's kind of true. The media is an extremely powerful device. And its mystery is only exceeded by its power. Sorry. I won't get into the why and how of the machinations of the media because that's a tad too political for this environment. Also, I think I piss of people a sufficient amount already. British people say "piss off" the way Americans say "fuck off." Fun fact I learned from Guy Ritchie movies. Although the British do say "fuck off" as well.)


What you just read was originally written on December 2, 2015, on my mom's birthday as a matter of fact. No particular correlation between her and the movie. Two months ago, I was in my accounting class writing down my thoughts on Gone Girl, a movie I had just watched. Now, I sit in my dad's computer room writing yet again, only this time on Superbowl Sunday. This day has absolutely no sentimental or significant value to me, other than the fact that it gives me an excuse to watch movies about football. I'm torn between Oliver Stone's Any Given Sunday and The Blind Side. Oliver Stone only directed the former, in case there was confusion in that sentence. At the moment, I am listening to the amazing Goodfellas soundtrack, which is excellent enough to inspire me to write. What to write about is the question at hand. Since this post is called "Gone into Digressing," I feel it appropriate to just vent out the things on my mind. Movie-related, of course.
One thought that comes to mind is the idea that Star Wars: The Force Awakens may beat Avatar in the ultimate box-office record. That is, the worldwide box-office record. Thus far, Star Wars has already kicked Avatar from the domestic box-office record, which was a thrill for me. Why do I care so much, you may ask? Well, I hate Avatar. Pure and simple explanation. One major reason of my dislike for the movie is how hyped up it still is, seven years later. If it was truly that great, it would hold a spot on IMDb's Top 250, would it not? This is a petty justification for hatred, for I should enjoy a movie in and of itself, not depend on what others think. Usually, my hate for a movie is amplified, not caused, by a general audience's praise. Take The Revenant for instance. I cannot fathom what is so extraordinary about Leonardo DiCaprio, hardly audible, trekking through the frigid wilderness set out on revenge. Now, if Quentin Tarantino directed it and manipulated the film in his special way, I might see some value. Tarantino can direct DiCaprio splendidly (see Django Unchained) and I feel he has an expert grasp on the whole "revenge" theme. Discussing the "what-ifs" is futile, since The Revenant was already released as a pretentious, naturalistic bore. My opinion. Clearly not shared by anyone else. Anyway, Avatar was very impressive to watch regarding visual effects. The setting was, indeed, beautiful and adventurous, but it was all thanks to visual effects. One could argue that Star Wars also abuses its visual effects to lure viewers in; however, the story of Star Wars is truly epic and multi-generational as well. Another box-office argument: James Cameron has two movies at the top spots, and it is unfair to J.J. Abrams who is trying to make a name for himself. As if he hadn't already with Lost and Star Trek. Either way, James Cameron is a greedy bastard and I am rooting for Star Wars to get to number one. Consider it a wish for a devoted fan to the beloved Star Wars saga.
Well, the song, "Layla" by Derek and the Dominos, is playing from the Goodfellas soundtrack. That means it is time to wrap things up. I must express how much I love this song and the scene in Goodfellas where the song is played. You all remember--spoilers ahead. Henry Hill (played by Ray Liotta, who I miss dearly) narrates the explanation behind the uncovered bodies. You see, he and his gang executed a lucrative criminal scheme that rewarded all involved with a pretty penny. Clearly, I am not as photographically talented as I would like to be with a movie as magnificent as Goodfellas. Do not be mistaken, I absolutely love this movie, and I consider it my all-time favorite. No question, Gone With The Wind is the greatest movie of all time. My personal favorite--one I've watched countless times, yet still can't remember the details--has to be Goodfellas. Digressing is a dangerous habit to dive into. Anyway, for those watching the Superbowl tonight, I hope your team wins! For the time being, have a wonderful evening.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Awards Season Condensed

[NOTE: The following excerpt was written back in December 2015. The font will be different than the remainder of the post, which will be written tonight.]
Greetings to all. The most exciting time of the year is here. Forget the traditional holidays involving gift-giving between loved ones. The time I'm referring to is awards season because what better gift can be bestowed than the gift of the best in film. This is, of course, how I feel personally. The Oscars are much greater than Santa. I mean, please. Though you must admit the interesting twist of awards season beginning right around when the holidays start. Coincidence? Probably.

As usual, I am typing away inside my warm and cozy local coffee shop (Starbucks) because I enjoy the cliche. You know, struggling writers writing in a coffee shop. I enjoy the mindless humor I concoct. I've been meaning to write about the Golden Globe nominations, which were announced last Thursday, and just now I'm finally getting to it. Today is currently the 14th of December, so I can give you a shocking glance at how long it takes me to finish these posts. Expect this to be posted next year. Onto the Globes, there were shocks, snubs, and completely predictable placeholders for the nominees of the Golden Globes. Did that make any grammatical sense? I'll just go ahead and fill some space by presenting you with the nominees, followed by my thoughts on them of course. I'll also include who I think will win and who I want to win. Another note I want to make is that I signed up for a website called The Gold Derby, which is a place to predict winners/nominations in various award shows. What I say will reflect how accurate my predictions were. Because I'm a movie psychic.

Best Motion Picture - Drama
Carol
The Revenant
Mad Max: Fury Road
Spotlight
Room
These were pretty much all sure things. I will express my disbelief at the nomination of Mad Max since I summed it up as pure blockbuster entertainment. Considering the first two films, with Mel Gibson (great guy), saw no love from the awards circuit, I expected just as much for the newest installment. And now Fury Road is leading the Critics' Choice nominees with a total of thirteen (that's 1-3) nominations. What will its fate be at the Academy Awards? Time will tell. I'm also surprised that Bridge of Spies received little accolades because Americans adore films that are majorly anti-Russia. You know it's true. I also expected nominations for The Danish Girl and Steve Jobs but as you can see, nothing. Prediction: Spotlight. Wish: Spotlight.


Best Motion Picture - Comedy
The Big Short
The Martian
Joy
Trainwreck
Spy
Again, all predictable. This is one of the categories I predicted correctly across the board. I truly cannot contain my joy (pun) at the nomination for Spy, as it was truly (x2) the funniest film of the year that I've seen thus far. Already I've seen it twice and laughed uncontrollably each time. Melissa McCarthy is a comedic force here, and Jason Statham is a surprising hilarity. Here's hoping for a sequel. I am looking forward to watching The Big Short because it involves the 2008 financial crisis and possesses impressive star power. David O. Russell's Joy is a sure-thing to be as amazing as his previous films, and I say this because I have faith in directors and actors. Just them actually, nobody else can be believed in. Prediction: Joy. Wish: Spy, because it was that funny.


Best Actor - Drama
Bryan Cranston in Trumbo
Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant
Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl
Will Smith in Concussion
Michael Fassbender in Steve Jobs
The only confusing actor here is Will Smith. One, I've never heard of Concussion until now. Two, why? I wholly expected Johnny Depp to hold a place here for his portrayal of a real-life criminal, Whitey Bulger, since the Academy--every awards academy really--loves him. Honestly, who is going to get the Oscar nod, the Fresh Prince or Edward Scissorhands? Point well made. (I was about to type the Fresh Prince of Edward Scissorhands. Oh, how ridiculously amusing I am.) The obvious winner seems to be Leonardo DiCaprio because "it's about time." I'm going to coin this phrase, as it applies often in the awards stratosphere for actors who earn every nomination they receive but have yet to win. Kate Winslet in The Reader, for example. I would love to see Leo win, but the film in question, The Revenant, looks terribly uninteresting. And with the director of Birdman at the helm? Well, you can see where I'm going with that. Birdman sucked. Michael Fassbender is another reasonable contender, transforming himself into Steve Jobs when he, himself, does not resemble Steve Jobs. Also, I must say that I am excited for Bryan Cranston this year because (1) I admire him as an actor, (2) the movie Trumbo looks entertaining, and (3) Walter White. Point well made. Prediction: Leonardo DiCaprio. Wish: Bryan Cranston, sorry Leo.


Best Actress - Drama
Cate Blanchett in Carol
Rooney Mara in Carol
Brie Larson in Room
Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn
Alicia Vikander in The Danish Girl
Once again, I guessed the nominations correctly across the board. Hooray for me. What is curious and somewhat frustrating is that Rooney Mara will be considered for the Best Supporting Actress category at the Oscars, yet she qualifies as a lead here at the Globes. It forces other dramatic contenders from getting the nomination, which I find unfair. The sure-thing appears to be, at the moment, Brie Larson, as she leads every expert's list for winning Best Actress across the board. Phrase of the day: "Across the board." I would have to watch Room before making any accusations or giving support, for Jennifer Lawrence is a major player in the Oscar race as well and I do love her. Time will, once again, tell as the season progresses. Prediction: Brie Larson. Wish: Cate Blanchett, because I know and respect her talent.


Best Actor - Comedy/Musical
Steve Carell in The Big Short
Christian Bale in The Big Short
Matt Damon in The Martian
Al Pacino in Danny Collins
Mark Ruffalo in Infinitely Polar Bear
As much as I do like Mark Ruffalo, we can just ignore Infinitely Polar Bear because who's even heard of that? Al Pacino is another shock in the Globe nominations this year, for many have sort of let go of him as a player in the industry, at least from what I can infer from his presence in the Razzies lately. The two Big Short nominees please me, for I like both actors and I root for the movie's continuing success. Why? The deep recesses of the financial world of this country must be exposed and to achieve this feat comedically is utter genius. Exit conspiracy theorist, enter eccentric writer. Much love is being thrown at The Martian, which is apparently a comedy, so the expectations are pretty transparent. No, not like the Amazon show. Prediction: Matt Damon. Wish: Steve Carell, because he's a better actor than people give him credit for.


Best Actress - Comedy/Musical
Jennifer Lawrence in Joy
Amy Schumer in Trainwreck
Melissa McCarthy in Spy
Maggie Smith in The Lady in the Van
Lily Tomlin in Grandma
The winner here is pretty obvious, but I'll give some input anyway. Melissa McCarthy was absolutely hilarious in Spy and truly deserving of the title Best Actress in a comedy. Granted, Jennifer Lawrence is an extremely gifted actress; however, the movie Joy doesn't seem like a comedy. It doesn't seem like a drama either. I don't know what it is, but David O. Russell, it seems, has been placed permanently in the comedy category for the Globes. I can't say much for Amy Schumer, since I'm still getting used to her presence in Hollywood. As for the older ladies nominated, they're merely placeholders. And their time has passed. I'm mean. Prediction: Jennifer Lawrence. Wish: Melissa McCarthy, because it would be nice to see a truly funny performance win for best performance in a comedy.


Best Supporting Actor
Mark Rylance in Bridge of Spies
Paul Dano in Love & Mercy
Idris Elba in Beasts of No Nation
Michael Shannon in 99 Homes
Sylvester Stallone in Creed
Here is a category where the most infuriating of snubs occurred. None of the male supporting actors in Spotlight received a nomination, and the omission of Michael Keaton is especially enraging to critics. I cannot account for this frustration since I've yet to watch Spotlight, but I can say that I am disappointed not to see Mark Ruffalo nominated. Michael Keaton is a man I could care less about, considering his stint in Birdman last year. The nominees here really don't stir me in a good or bad way because (1) I haven't seen any of their performances and (2) I don't have an opinion about the actors themselves. Though I would like to see Stallone win, just because he's older. His time, clearly, hasn't passed. Prediction: Mark Rylance. Wish: Sylvester Stallone.


Best Supporting Actress
Kate Winslet in Steve Jobs
Alicia Vikander in Ex Machina
Jane Fonda in Youth
Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Hateful Eight
Helen Mirren in Trumbo
Another nomination for Trumbo! I know that this is only the second Globe nomination, but acting nods are significant. And I'm allowed to use exclamation points, damnit. It's impressive to see Jane Fonda still hard at work and getting recognized by the awards circuit. The past few months, I've been watching documentaries about the 70s and 80s, and Ms. Fonda was a dominating presence outside of Hollywood. She also happens to look phenomenal for her age. This is Alicia Vikander's second nomination this year, as she was nominated for Best Actress in a Drama for The Danish Girl. Because I don't know her, I find this to be unfair. Of course, I'm tickled pink to see Kate Winslet mentioned in the awards because she is an exceptional actress. Exceptional. Prediction: Jennifer Jason Leigh, because she apparently "needs" a win. Wish: Kate Winslet, because she's exceptional.


I hope you enjoyed this little relic of the past. This was started around the time Golden Globe nominations were announced, which was mid-December. While I hate myself a tad for not posting in the moment, I do appreciate the element of accuracy. That is, seeing how accurate my predictions were; the ones I predicted correctly will have stars next to them, and by stars I mean asterisks. I'll just type a list out of it and we'll just see and you'll just enjoy my late writing.


Best Motion Picture - Drama: The Revenant not Spotlight
Best Motion Picture - Comedy: The Martian not Joy, and I have no idea what made me think that such a low-rated, inadequate film would actually beat The Martian
*Best Actor - Drama: Leonardo DiCaprio naturally
*Best Actress - Drama: Brie Larson deservedly, if you'd read my last post
*Best Actor - Comedy: Matt Damon which makes me smile
*Best Actress - Comedy: Jennifer Lawrence which makes me smile as well, though only because I adore her
Best Supporting Actor: Sylvester Stallone surprisingly enough
Best Supporting Actress: Kate Winslet pleasantly, miraculously, and wonderfully enough

Literally fifty-fifty here. This is a glass half-full/half-empty situation, for I could be an awards guru or just lucky enough to guess some correctly. Anyway. The Golden Globes themselves were very entertaining, mostly due to the return of Ricky Gervais, who I personally find to be hilarious and just biting enough. Apparently the ratings fell this year because of his presence, which I find to be an absurd accusation. Then again, who am I to argue with ratings? I am a lowly amateur critic after all, if that. Another pleasant aspect of the ceremony was the shocking attendance of Mel Gibson, who had been shunned from Hollywood's good graces for years. Granted, this appearance does not serve as his comeback by any means, but it is so good--so good--to see his face again. I do miss him, and I can admit that because I have not fallen in line with the mindless followers of indirect boycotts--but I dwell into controversial territory when I say that. Considering all the things Mel Gibson was accused of doing and saying, that is. By showing my prolonged admiration for him, I'm practically drawing a target on myself for criticism. Untitled criticism. Thank you very much.


Moving on. In addition to the Golden Globes, several other awards have been distributed, helping legitimate award experts to predict the outcome of the Academy Awards. During this extended period between the Golden Globe nominations and now, the Oscar nominations have been announced, giving experts a gauge of who's in the running. I won't get into that whole hashtag campaign about the absence of African-American performers because I just won't. It is far too controversial to discuss and I really don't know how to talk in these settings anymore. So I will simply say nothing. What's done is done, so let's focus on what is for the time being. The following segment will present my Oscar predictions, and from there I'll wrap things up since this post is becoming rather chunky.


Best Supporting Actress: Kate Winslet for Steve Jobs
I say this a bit daringly because I am very aware of the current rankings. According to experts, Alicia Vikander will take home the gold for her role in The Danish Girl. The reason for my defiance is because I have hope in Kate's talent as well as hope in the element of surprise. I was sure that she was to be merely a placeholder in this year's competition; however, the Golden Globes presented an astoundingly fantastic turn for her chances. I am sticking to my loyalty to Kate Winslet. Also, I really don't care for newcomers, especially when they're Michael Fassbender's booty call. That was mean. Overall, Kate Winslet gave the performance of the year when it comes to supporting ladies.


Best Supporting Actor: Sylvester Stallone for Creed
While I sort of cemented this prediction the moment he won the Golden Globe, I now can accept his win because I have finally watched the movie. Seeing the praise for Stallone in Creed--forty years after the first Rocky--is heartwarming, though I can't help but sense the "honorary" aspect of this nomination and acclaim. I hate to say it, but I feel this award is simply to make up for the fact that he did not receive an acting Oscar for Rocky. It's purely an honorary award in this suspicious sense. However, Stallone's performance was excellent, surprisingly, for he usually slurs his way through a picture. In Creed, the heavy emotion in Stallone's eyes was undeniable, and the nostalgia factored into his delivery of the character favorably well. Is it okay to say favorably well? As good as the performance was, I cannot help but hope for Mark Rylance to win. After watching Bridge of Spies, I came down to two conslusions: (1) Mark Rylance deserves the Oscar for his unusually entrancing portrayal as a Soviet spy, and (2) Bridge Of Spies is highly underrated and should be at the top of critics' lists.


Best Leading Actress: Brie Larson for Room
I believe my previous post explains my reasoning behind this prediction. It is rather unsettling to say that the critics and I actually agree on the poignancy and power of a performance for once. This prediction is hardly one in that the certainty of her victory is unwavering and most deserving indeed. Also, I would like to point out the vicious snub by the Academy: Jacob Tremblay, the magnificent little boy in Room, was not nominated. Granted, he's only nine years old and his time will come. this argument, however, is infuriating because his performance here and now was worthy of a nomination. His hypnotic innocence was just so impressive, and even writing about it now and recalling his performance brings tears to my eyes. I actually mean it when I say that too.


Best Leading Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant
Now, this one is an absolute, 100% certainty. There is no margin of error here. It is just his time to get an Oscar. I must stress my undying love and admiration for this man before I say that I regrettably do not think this performance was worthy for esteem. Typing that out feels sinful, for I truly do love Leo. I've said it once and I'll say it again: I hated The Revenant. I cannot for the life of me understand why the movie is held in such high regards by not just critics, but audiences as well. Whenever I ask or search for an answer, all I get is pretentious praise and flowery explanations that make zero rational sense. I apologize for this ignorance solely because of my love for Leo. The fact that he will finally win an Oscar for a film I detested is astonishing and, above all, depressing. Beyond this disagreement, I also believe Michael Fassbender and Bryan Cranston to have delivered excellent performances this year, each more complex and attractive than Leo's performance. Again, I hate to admit it. Another interesting point, made by my dear old dad, is that Leonardo DiCaprio will surely have another chance at Oscar, while Bryan Cranston, for one, has a smaller chance of returning to the film award circuit. Though I would love to see Walter White getting an Oscar. Breaking Bad.


Best Motion Picture of the Year: The Big Short
I'm going for the ballsy prediction here. For months, critics have predicted the winner to be Spotlight, and I merely joined in the chorus at the time. As of now, I've seen six out of eight. the ones I've missed are Brooklyn and The Big Short. You're probably wondering why, then, I chose The Big Short as my tentative victor without even seeing it. You probably also knew I was going to direct that hypothetical towards you, my nonexistent reader. My rationale behind picking The Big Short is that the topic of the film is incredibly controversial for Hollywood, considering it appears to be anti-Wall Street. Of course, my understanding of Hollywood's machinations is limited, but I enjoy my blissful assumptions that are most likely far-reaching. Anyway, I not only predict a surprise victory for The Big Short, but I root for the film to win because it would be amazing if a comedy won. Not only that, but a comedy directed against the wealthy powers that be, that actually enlightens average people as to why life is as it is. Again, far-reaching, especially considering I haven't seen the film. Nevertheless.


Well, there you have it. A combination of predictions, some old and already announced, some pending to be announced. I think it's high time I stop writing out a storm of various thoughts. I find it interesting that I began this very post when awards season began, and I am now posting it as it comes close to an end. Just know that, even though I haven't been diligently reporting as often as I'd hoped, I was productive on my own in my quest for finding the deserving victors. Among the list of nominees handed down to us, anyway. Cheers to one and all.