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The Oscar 2015 Nominations Are In!

 

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This year’s Oscar nominations were announced earlier today by the Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, actor Chris Pine and directors JJ Abrams and Alfonso Cuaron in a 2 part broadcast for the first time ever, revealing the nominations in all 24 categories. Leading the noms are Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel which both have 9 nods whilst the Brits have been nominated in the major categories.

The Hollywood ceremony will be held on Sunday 22nd February. Here are your nominees…

 

Best Picture:

American Sniper

Birdman

Boyhood

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Imitation Game

Selma

The Theory of Everything

Whiplash

 

Best Actor:

Steve Carell,  Foxcatcher

Bradley Cooper, American Sniper

Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game

Michael Keaton, Birdman

Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

 

Best Actress:

Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night

Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything

Julianne Moore, Still Alice

Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl

Reese Witherspoon, Wild

 

Best Supporting Actor:

Robert Duvall, The Judge

Ethan Hawke, Boyhood

Edward Norton, Birdman

Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher

JK Simmons, Whiplash

 

Best Supporting Actress:

Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

Laura Dern, Wild

Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game

Emma Stone, Birdman

Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

 

Best Cinematography:

Birdman

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Ida

Mr Turner

Unbroken

 

Best Director:

Alejandro G Inarritu, Birdman

Richard Linklater, Boyhood

Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher

Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel

Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game

 

Best Adapted Screenplay:

American Sniper

The Imitation Game

Inherent Vice

The Theory of Everything

Whiplash

 

Best Original Screenplay:

Birdman

Boyhood

Foxcatcher

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Nightcrawler

 

Best Animated Feature Film:

Big Hero 6

The Boxtrolls

How To Train Your Dragon 2

Song of the Sea

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

 

For the full lineup of nominations click here

The Nominations Are In! BAFTA 2015

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This morning we were graced with the all exciting BAFTA nominations announced by our very own Stephen Fry and a set of “Grand Canyon dimples” provided by Sam Claflin. This year’s noms in the main categories are so tight and solid, they’re currently racking my brain like an unsolved Rubik’s Cube. Leading the race, surprisingly is Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel with 11 nominations (currently standing at number 16 in my Top 20 best films of 2014 list) with the almighty Birdman and The Theory of Everything right behind with 10 nods, leaving The Imitation Game floating the boat at 9 nominations. Here is the list for the EE British Academy Film Awards 2015…

 

 

Leading Actress:
Amy Adams, Big Eyes
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Reese Witherspoon, Wild
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl

Leading Actor:
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitations Game
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler
Michael Keaton, Birdman
Ralph Fiennes, Grand Budapest Hotel

Supporting Actor:
Edward Norton
Ethan Hawke
J.K. Simmons
Mark Ruffalo
Steve Carell

Supporting Actress:
Emma Stone
Imelda Staunton
Keira Knightley
Rene Russo
Patricia Arquette

British Film:
’71
The Imitation Game
Paddington
Pride
The Theory of Everything
Under the Skin

Best Film:
Birdman
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything

Animated Film:
Big Hero 6
The Boxtrolls
The Lego Movie

Director:
Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Richard Linklater
Wes Anderson
James Marsh
Damien Chazelle

Original Screenplay:
Birdman
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Nightcrawler
Whiplash

Adapted Screenplay:
American Sniper
Gone Girl
The Theory of Everything
Paddington
The Imitation Game

For the full lineup of nominations click here

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Innovative Nolan at His Best – Interstellar

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Christopher Nolan is well known for his imaginative, complex but worthy puzzles where he creates this new world and the only way we’ll be able to understand and appreciate his constant growth of wisdom is to actually sit down and engross ourselves into a film close to the 3 hour mark. Inception will always be the film that everyone refers back to when having a conversation about Nolan’s work because it was just that classy and mind bending, not to mention the outstanding cast. We do now on the other hand have a new contender.
Interstellar has been the most anticipated film this year, starting it’s campaign exactly a year ago from it’s release date. This is one film where the trailer doesn’t tell you enough so the only way you’re going to know what it’s all about is to simply cosy up in the cinema screening with a large bag of popcorn and a good sized beverage because it’s one hell of a ride.

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The story of Interstellar takes places on an earth we’ve never known. Crops are dying and turning into this brown dust that is just being blown around like a storm day in and day out so starvation is on the cards. After being summoned by what Murph (Mackenzie Foy and later played by Jesscia Chastain) believes is a ghost, Coop (Matthew McConaughey) aka Murph’s dad who is also a former NASA pilot, ends up at a restricted airbase where he is informed that the ‘Lazarus Project’ is in place to find a new habitat for the human race. Rekindling his old roots with his former boss Dr. Brand (Michael Caine) he accepts to pilot the mission with Brand’s daughter Amelia (Anne Hathaway), a few engineers and 2 very intelligent robots TARS and CASE. Unfortunately for Coop, while he’s on the mission, the idea of relativity becomes a reality as time may be going by at a slow pace for him, but it’s actually going by in years, even decades on earth.
Nolan and his brother Jonathan had a field time exploring and playing around with black holes, wormholes, gravity, quantum physics and all of the above. Visually, Interstellar is stunning. The framing of each scene and the different angled shots were typical Nolan directing which makes him stand out. It’s quite like Michael Bay’s work. You know when it’s his movie. The shots in space and the audio to go with it really engrosses you into the film, making you feel what the characters are feeling, whether it’s cold, hot, empty, breathless. Every emotion is captured very well. Not to mention the silence that is present in space was perfectly pitched.

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It is a very emotional film, especially in the moments before Coop gets sent off to space but it does carry on throughout the film. McConaughey’s on-screen father/daughter relationship with Mackenzie Foy is so touching, it really pulls on those heart strings. From the moment she gets into trouble at school and Coop goes in for a parent/teacher conference, you know straight away she’s daddy’s little girl. Progressing into the film, there is a glimpse of an Armageddon moment where Liv Tyler speaks to Bruce Willis before he has to blow himself up to save humanity. It’s not as dramatic, but the whole talking to a screen is present and its very moving.
Now it wouldn’t be a Christopher Nolan film without having the legend himself, Hans Zimmer gracing us with his presence for the score. The score is absolutely beautiful. Unfortunately, the audio mixing wasn’t as gracious. Having this problem before with The Dark Knight Rises, certain scenes the score really overpowered the dialogue so it became a little difficult to hear what was being said. This was a little frustrating especially when you have an actor like McConaughey who is known for his very attractive deep southern twang and “mumble” as some call it. Hopefully his will be fixed when released on Blu-ray and DVD. Also whether this was to do with the make-up or final editing, McConaughey did happen to look very orange in certain scenes compared to everyone else.
Christopher Nolan is the master of taking you on a mind bending journey into the unknown and you always feel satisfied yet blown away with the result. Interstellar is Nolan’s most innovative story since Inception. It’s time he won the Best Director Oscar.

Star Ratings 4

 

 

 

Not So Scared – Where’s the Horror Gone?

The-Conjuring

This year has had a great deal of horror flicks with Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones popping up in January instead of their usual October run, to The Conjuring’s prequel spin off Annabelle. Unfortunately it seems that Horror just isn’t that scary any more. It’s either really predictable, filled with very naive characters or just isn’t as violent as they used to be. To be brutally honest, ever since The Saw franchise ended, there hasn’t really been anything out there that tickled my fancy, until I saw The Conjuring. The Conjuring was one hell of a film that really did get the hairs to stand up on the back of my neck. When is comes to horror flicks, James Wan certainly knows what he was doing. The characters had great chemistry on screen, the frights were frightful and it really gets you thinking hard about that kind of scary exorcism acts happening in reality.

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Another franchise I do get quite excited about year after year is the Paranormal Activity franchise. Now, it can be said that they haven’t been very consistent in terms of, well lets just say Paranormal Activity 4 and leave it at that. But story wise, they are very consistent and that’s what is definitely their strong point. Starting out as a low budget flick it definitely has come far enough to be rewarded with a spin off which has actually become my favourite in the franchise. Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones takes the story into a slightly different yet new direction that really works. If anything, it has the best characters and their chemistry on screen and off screen is a delight. Bearing that in mind, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones has my vote of being the best horror flick this year.

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Halloween is the time of the year that brings out all of the horror film competitors. This year we had the Conjuring spin-off Annabelle, Ouija, The Babadook and Horns. Unfortunately, none of them had lived up to the hype. Annabelle (creepy raggedy Ann doll directed by John R. Leonetti) had to be the most disappointing of them all. All the apparent good parts were already in the trailer, the framing of the scenes made it obvious of what was about to happen, the characters were very naive and unintelligent, it was just very predictable and boring. As a spin-off from The Conjuring, which was absolutely brilliant, it’s a shame Annabelle was just not very good at all. In fact, it was an insult to The Conjuring. Thankfully, James Wan will be back for The Conjuring 2 (I think they should just leave anything to do with The Conjuring to James Wan).

Ouija
Ouija, directed by Stiles White, was another film where all the apparent good bits were already broadcast in the trailer. The idea of having a film about the Ouija board game with a group of friends awakening an evil entity sounded like a fantastic idea, however the way it was executed was just plain boring unfortunately. The characters were lifeless, on a personal level I just found it very hard to connect with them and give them my sympathy. The story had nothing to make you jump out of your seat and anything that had a chance of making you feel uneasy was already in the trailer. At the point of watching Annabelle, I really did think that nothing could be worse, but Ouija took the crown.

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The Babadook was actually one of the horror flicks I wasn’t going to see around Halloween because the trailer and concept just didn’t grab my attention, however I did end up finding myself wedged in the screening for it and surprisingly it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. The concept still sucked in my opinion (a creepy book’s character coming to life to haunt them) but the characters and their on screen chemistry was fantastic, and the story grew stronger and slightly darker as it went deeper into the film. Australian horror films are usually quite weird but they work and this was another to add to that collection. It wasn’t predictable, but it still didn’t get my blood boiling however, it was quite funny. Whether this was director Jennifer Kent’s intention or not, it worked. The Babadook got my vote for entertainment value.

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Finally, Horns, directed by Alexandre Aja, starring the good old Daniel Radcliffe who has seemingly grown into an established actor, shrugging off the Harry Potter persona with ease. Putting on a very well done American accent, the film had great characters, a great cast, a very solid whodunnit murder mystery plot. It’s a very weird film in the sense that the main character essentially is a demon/devil. The film really reminded me of Jennifer’s Body where the concept sounds really great and the majority of the film is well done, but then there’s that little itch that makes you go “WTF?”. Obviously Horns was way better than Jennifer’s Body. This was a 50/50 movie for me.
What’s going on with the horror genre? Where’s all the gore? Where’s all the scenes that will shoot my stomach into my throat and make me feel nauseous? The thrill is dead and we need it back immediately!

No Objections – The Judge Review

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Coming from the director who gave us Shanghai Knights and The Change-Up, it’s great to see a more serious/Oscar worthy effort from David Dobkin, and The Judge is exactly that.
Keeping his distance from his family, big shot city lawyer Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr) goes back to his childhood town for the funeral of his mother. During the opening of old wounds, his father, the town’s Judge (Robert Duvall) is suspected of murder. Hank is then forced to figure out the truth whilst reconnecting with his family.
It’s safe to say that The Judge is filled with the top end of Hollywood, with Oscar nominated actors and Winners. From the moment it was announced Robert Duvall would be playing Robert Downey Jr’s father (two of the most respected actors in Hollywood) in a film called The Judge, you can tell straight away that there would be some sort of family drama and not just courtroom drama. There is a good balance of both keeping you interested in both their professional and personal lives.
On the professional side of things, portraying a lawyer is fun and Downey Jr does it like a true pro. He has enough charisma and sarcasm (like always) that can fill a courtroom like Matthew McConaughey, but it was also great to see the more gritty side of Downey Jr when it came down drilling the facts into the jury’s heads to try and get them on his side and probing his father on the stand when it really mattered. He certainly took a step away from his Tony Stark persona that seems to be over riding his other huge successes in the past like the wonderful Chaplin.

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On the personal side of things the saying “like father like son” and also “like mother like daughter” is very applicable. The tension between middle child Hank and the Judge is so raw and open for everyone to see and dwell in. It’s the good old argument of a father not being there but it’s played out so well, you can’t help but really feel the emotion that’s bouncing off the walls in the room to pull a tear from your eye with ease. Duvall is known for sucking you into the world he’s living in on screen and continues to bring his sheer brilliance to the rest of the cast. Slightly moving away from the family drama, Hank’s character is still witty, charismatic and charming enough to bring back old flames at his home town even though he has his own family drama back home in the city. From the moment the line “I’ll extract the truth from your ass like tree sap” is mentioned, you know for certain Downey Jr’s got game (watch out McConaughey).

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Usually with courtroom flicks, there’s always a prick worthy lawyer on the other side, and in this case it’s Billy Bob Thornton, who plays the top notch lawyer Dwight Dickham who from the moment he is visible on screen, you see him flicking out his little, metal, fold-able cup in the way only a highly egotistical lawyer would. The only issue with Dickham was that they made him out to be the one to avoid, but in reality he wasn’t as bad-ass as he should have been but there was definitely potential.
With everything that’s being released recently on the big screen, it’s very refreshing to see a film you can actually relate to that isn’t about superheroes, a book adaptation that’s a franchise or a romance that will emotionally stab you causing a tear or two. The Judge will grip you in more ways than one and pull on those child hood memory strings you may have been holding back.

Star Ratings 4