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Archives for : Academy Awards

2014 Oscar Nominations Announced!

Although there were still some snubs for Rush, The Way,Way Back,  Brie Larson, Daniel Bruhl, and Tom Hanks, I am still very pleased with this years Oscar nominations!  It was by far one of the toughest years to pick from so many great films and performances.  Can’t wait to see who wins the big award on Sunday, March 2nd.

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BEVERLY HILLS, CA – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will explore cinema’s roots in stage magic and sleight of hand and show how visual deception drove the development of movie special effects, on Wednesday, November 20, at 7:30 p.m. at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. “Like Magic” will examine how some of the techniques used in the earliest “trick films,” such as forced perspective, cuts, dissolves and multiple exposures are still used by filmmakers in the digital age. Hosted by sleight-of-hand artist Ricky Jay, special effects supervisor Shane Mahan, and stage and screen illusion designer Michael Weber, the program features clips from such pioneering films as Georges Méliès’s “The Magician” (1898) and contemporary favorites like “Snow White and the Huntsman” (2012). It also includes live demonstrations and conversations with some of the films’ creative teams. Click here for more information


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is the world’s preeminent movie-related organization, with a membership of more than 6,000 of the most accomplished men and women working in cinema. In addition to the annual Academy Awards—in which the members vote to select the nominees and winners­—the Academy presents a diverse year-round slate of public programs, exhibitions and events; provides financial support to a wide range of other movie-related organizations and endeavors; acts as a neutral advocate in the advancement of motion picture technology; and, through its Margaret Herrick Library and Academy Film Archive, collects, preserves, restores and provides access to movies and items related to their history. Through these and other activities the Academy serves students, historians, the entertainment industry and people everywhere who love movies.


Movie Review: “Gravity” will have you Struggling to Breathe!

Unlike most people, I had very low expectations going into Gravity.  After all the rave reviews the movie was getting, I just didn’t get how this film was going to be that great.  The previews don’t give you much, and most of my friends and family seemed to think of the film as comical.  I mean there was actually a struggle to find a guest that would see the film with me!  But I can finally say after watching the movie, my friend and I walked out completely understanding the hype while still trying to breath normally again.

First off, I highly recommend you see this film in 3D.  In fact, I don’t even think it should be offered in 2D.  You will miss out on the feeling and experience director, Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), had intended for the film.  Your brain won’t have to follow a difficult plot, but you are still in for an intense thrill ride.

The story is simple: Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is a medical engineer on her first shuttle mission with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney).  But after an accident leaves them drifting in space, they must work together to survive. The simplicity in Gravity is only one of the things that makes this film so exceptional.  Alfonso Cuarón has taken an original terrifying thought, and turned it into a captivating, 90-minute mission of endurance.  The direction in this film is Oscar worthy!  The fluid motion of the camera as it flows throughout the movie makes you feel as if you are floating.  Visually the film is beautiful, and as you are enjoying the view from space you are still panicking about what is going to happen next.

For anyone who thought Sandra Bullock’s Oscar win for The Blind Side was not deserved, I don’t agree with you…and you should just watch Bullock’s performance in Gravity.  She is really the sole actor of the film.  George Clooney definitely serves a purpose and makes for some relaxing comic relief, but it seems like even he wants to let Bullock steal the show.  The moment she appears on screen you might as well be tethered to that space suit with her.  Whatever fear and anxiety her character is going through, the audience is feeling the exact same way.   Watching her struggle made it physically harder to breathe. Personally, I have always known Sandra Bullock is a great actress; but this role definitely solidifies that.  It’s still too soon to predict Oscar nominations, but I would say that she is a lock for the Best Actress nod along with many more nominations for the film in multiple categories.

The best way to sum up Gravity is “breath-taking!”  The visual effects are the best I have seen in any film.  If you were to tell me they shot the movie in space, I would probably believe it.  For now I will assume that is what spaces looks like.  I guess what makes this film stand apart from movies like Cast Away and 127 Hours is those films had some moments of down time.  There were moments where, even though they were stranded, you knew you could relax for a bit because they had managed to make a livable routine in their misery.  But as this film reminds you in the beginning, life in space is impossible.  You can’t breathe, you can’t take a controlled step, and you could just get lost in space forever until you run out air.

Rated PG-13 for intense images.

Gravity hits theaters everywhere today!

Movie Review: Prisoners

When your child goes missing, how far would you go to find her?

After his six-year-old daughter and her best friend are kidnapped on Thanksgiving, Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) butts heads with detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) who is in charge of the investigation.   Keller feels Loki and his department are not doing enough to find the girls.  Keller’s son mentions an old RV, owned by Alex Jones (Paul Dano) and believes he is the culprit that has taken his daughter.  When there is a lack of evidence to show any signs that Alex may have taken the girls, he is set free.   Losing faith in the law, he captures Alex and holds him captive in a desperate attempt to find out what happened to the girls.  But the further he goes to get the man to confess, the closer he comes to losing his soul.

If you have already seen the trailer for this film, then you should know that it screams Best Picture potential.  But after watching the movie, it’s the performances that prove to be Oscar worthy.  With an all star cast like this one, it’s not shocking that the acting would be exceptional.  At this point for most of these Academy Award nominated actors,  it is about competing with their own past performances.  Hugh Jackman is fresh off his Best Actor nod for Les Miserable.  Though I thought he did an incredible job as Jean Valjean, it’s his performance in Prisoners that has left me more satisfied than ever with the actor.  Jackman takes the audience on a nail biting, dark journey to see how a desperate father handles every parent’s worst nightmare.  It’s the little things that stand out in his performance, from every scowl to every deep breath he makes.  I could go on for a while discussing him, but I think you see my point.

Jake Gyllenhaal raised the bar for himself as an actor.  He plays detective Loki, a cop that has never lost a case.  Loki has his own troubled past which is seen through all his subtle, twitching tendencies.  It been since his 2005 nomination for Brokeback Mountain that we have seen him be in such a strong in a role.  The movie is really seen through both the eyes of Jackman and Gyllenhaal’s characters.  

On one hand we have Loki, who follows the law and chooses to stick with his moral compass when trying to solve this case.  On the other hand, we have Keller who has lost all morality and has taken the law into his own hands.  As the story unfolds, it’s interesting to see which method proves to be most effective.  Come Oscar time, I see a nomination for both of these actors.

Director, Denis Villeneuve (Incendies, Enemy), explained how this film is really about the characters; and showing how each of them  handle this disheartening situation differently.  Well Denis, mission accomplished!  Each person affected by this kidnapping portray relatable ways of grieving.  We are shown a non-stop crying mother who can’t get out of bed.  The other mother has gone into shock and hasn’t touched a thing in the kitchen since that Thanksgiving Day.  A father who has no idea what to do, and another father who continues to take any action he can.  Every last detail, whether it’s a clue for the case or a specific characteristic, serves a purpose in this film.

It’s the details in Prisoners that make this film so exciting to watch.  Besides being on the edge of your seat and dying to find out what happened to the little girls, you’re filled with important facts that will eventually all tie together in the end.   Prisoners falls right there with films like Gone Baby Gone and Mystic River, a gloomy, exciting mystery with an original, satisfying ending.  I will say that I’m still partial to Gone Baby Gone, but all three films do a great job of leaving you with the thought of “what would I do if I was in that position?”

The film is two hours and twenty minutes, but it never felt like that for me.  You are too engaged in the case and characters to think about time.  This is a very dark film.  But given the topic, I wouldn’t see this movie played out any other way.  These days with movies being predicable from just a trailer, I enjoyed the fact that two hours into this movie I was still thinking “How is this going to end!?”

Terrence Howard, Viola Davis, Maria Bello, Paul Dano, and Melissa Leo also star in the film.

Rated R for disturbing, violent content including torture, and language.

Prisoners opens everywhere today!

Prisoners Trailer HD