Archive for the ‘les miserables’ Tag

85th Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actress Rankings   6 comments

suppactress

Hi everyone! It’s been a week since I last did any blog post here, and I’m kinda swamped with work. But enough about that, I guess. First up, I’m so happy because I’m already done seeing the 20 nominated acting performances for this year’s Oscars. So to continue the rankings special that I did the past few weeks (I’m already done with Picture, Animated Feature, and Original Song), here comes the first acting category for this season. If I’m an Oscar voter, here’s how I’ll rank the five female supporting performances for 2012 (according to the Academy).

05. JACKIE WEAVER, “Silver Linings Playbook”

While I’m already past the stage of heartbreak over those who weren’t nominated (Legend Kidman! Ann Dowd! Dame Dench!), I still don’t see anything special with Jackie Weaver’s performance in Silver Linings Playbook. It’s pretty clear that she was just carried along the Silver Linings Playbook love train seeing that she did not get any major precursor prior to the Oscar nod. Don’t get me wrong, as I’m not hating on Jackie Weaver. As a matter of fact, she’s my personal winner from 2010 (her Animal Kingdom performance is still a tour de force show), and it’s amazing that she received a follow up nod when everyone quickly labeled her as a one hit wonder just two years ago. But I still don’t see how many thought of this performance as anywhere Oscar worthy. I’d say that she cracks me up though every time she mentions crabby snacks in the film.

Suggested Oscar clip: a montage of crabby snacks would have been perfect, but “You lied to me Pat! Danny’s not allowed to come.”

04. SALLY FIELD, “Lincoln”

It’s nice to see that the fruits of Sally Field’s labor has finally been recognized. Back from the fighting of this role up to her consistent Oscar snubs since her infamous speech 27 years ago, it’s probably bittersweet for Mama Gump to finally be back in awards traction for her movie performances (remember Legally Blonde 2? barf!). As for her turn in Lincoln, I like that she toned it down a bit, especially since most of her performances suffer from criticisms of going too over the top. Her Mary Todd was indeed a supporting presence above anything else, though most of her scenes involved her just sitting and watching in court. Field was able to capture Mary in a way that she knows her boundaries in the film. She knows when to limit it as per usual, but she also knows how to push all buttons when the scene calls for it. It’s a controlled performance that does not go beyond that, but in Sally’s case, that’s also how her performance reaches its greatest heights.

Suggested Oscar clip: I’ll show what heartbreak. Real heartbreak looks like…”

03. AMY ADAMS, “The Master”

Amy Adams is probably one of the actresses that the Academy loves to nominate, but not give the win to. Among her four nominations, the closest she was in terms of chances was back in her first nom for Junebug where she was clearly third in line after Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams. All the succeeding noms were pretty much filler (Doubt) to no chance at all (sadly, The Fighter). The same can be said for her performance in The Master. But it’s also noteworthy that she got two major critics wins for this performance. Truth be told, I don’t see this as an Oscar winning performance as well, let alone a nominated one. But what I like about her in this was that despite not being given too much to work on (she was clearly the third best in show in terms of screen time and in storyline too), she made her presence felt. Most of her scenes required her to play second fiddle to on screen husband Philip Seymour Hoffman, but her presence was clearly there despite just sitting down or standing behind him. It’s also one of the times where she used her doe eyes feature to her advantage, as it’s a perfect fit especially during the times when she’s not talking (which is most of the time). Also, just props for giving Philip Seymour Hoffman a “hand.” What a daunting task. LOL.

Suggested Oscar clip: And this is where we’re at! At the lowest level. To have to explain ourselves. For what!?!?”

02. HELEN HUNT, “The Sessions

15 years after her first nomination (and win), Best Actress Helen Hunt comes back for a second nomination to prove her win is no fluke via The Sessions. Hunt takes the award for most number of nude scenes in a long time among all Oscar nominees, and in any other year, this could have been a bonafide frontrunner. After seeing the film, I’ve always felt that Hunt is one of those that can go either lead or supporting, but I think she was much better in Lead. With that said, this is one of the surprise performances of the season, as I don’t think that I will like it that much, only to take it back because I actually did! As Cheryl, she already made it clear that she is a sex therapist and not a prostitute, but either way, she gets to take all of her clothes off for the most part in the film. However, thanks to Hunt’s astonishing performance, it is clear that a woman (or in this case, a sex therapist) does not need to take away her dignity with her when she takes her clothes off. Hunt made it pretty transparent how much what we want to  know about Cheryl, and she answered all of this with this vulnerability that made her, like all other else, a person that is not devoid of attachments and emotions. And I find this as one of the better acting nominations of the year.

Suggested Oscar clip: Car scene in the end after the last session

01. ANNE HATHAWAY, “Les Miserables”

While this win was already bestowed to her the moment she was announced to play this role, Anne Hathaway definitely delivered to all the expectations with her performance in Best Picture nominee Les Miserables. As Fantine, Anne is definitely one of the few bright spots in this mess of a movie, and the one who benefits from the live singing as well. But before that, let’s clear some facts first. Anne Hathaway is not the best singer in the world, and I’m certain that even she is aware of that. But she is a more capable one. And she only needs one song to nail this performance, and she definitely crushed it! Her I Dreamed a Dream is one of the standout moments of the film, as she was able to make the most out of her limited screentime. In this number, she puts all these emotional gravitas of Fantine’s suffering and bursts it out in a heartbreaking and highly emotional manner that will put most viewers to tears (guilty as charged). Yes, it was brief, and yes, she disappears for most part in the film, but she already built enough momentum and impact that by the end,hers is one of the moments you’d remember the most. So regardless if you felt that Hathaway is self absorbed and narcissistic and self entitled, I’d give her a free pass with this performance as she gave justice to it, and than an Oscar is really warranted.

Suggested Oscar clip: I Dreamed a Dream. Duh.

How will you rank these performances? Who would you have voted in this category? And do you think Jackie Weaver really deserve her nod?

As always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

 

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85th Academy Awards: Best Original Song Rankings   8 comments

Hey everyone! It’s Part 2 of the Oscar competition analysis this year. Two days ago, I reviewed all Best Picture nominees. Now, we’re off to the second one, and it’s one of my favorite categories every year: Original Song! Below, I’ll rank the five nominated songs (and provide links) as if I’m an Oscar voter. Here we go.

You can click the titles and it will lead you to the YouTube clip of the video.

ted

05. “Everybody Needs a Best Friend” from Ted

This Norah Jones song which is one of the sweetest parts of Ted was penned by Oscar host Seth MacFarlane with Walter Murphy. There’s nothing really bad about it per se, though it belongs to a packed group of nominees this year that all had strong materials to boot that’s why I’m ranking it last.

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04. “Suddenly” from Les Miserables

Now this one is a special song written just for this 2012 film version of the famous musical. Claude-Michel Schönberg, Herbert Kretzmer, and Alain Boublil’s Suddenly was a perfect fit for the song and was on one of the “transitional” parts of the movie. However, the song, as a stand alone, does not appeal much for me, as I think it drowns from all the more established songs in the musical.

life of pi

03. “Pi’s Lullaby” from Life of Pi

The second of the two Best Picture songs in the line up belongs to Mychael Danna’s Pi’s Lullaby, which was a surprise nominee, though in hindsight, it should have been expected. Danna’s music is hypnotic, like a true lullaby, though the song itself could pass as too similar to the musical score of the film. Still, it was able to capture the environment of Pi’s situation.

chasing ice

02. “Before My Time” from Chasing Ice

Probably the actual surprise in this category is this obscure song from the documentary Chasing Ice. What’s more surprising is it features the vocals of Oscar nominee Scarlett Johansson in it! The song was actually good; it was calm yet very haunting! And the lyrics was really good too. This has no chance of winning, but it was surprise nomination that’s worth it.

skyfall

01. “Skyfall” from Skyfall

And of course, there’s nothing I’d rank here first than Adele’s Skyfall. I really enjoyed her take on the latest Bond film, and probably one of the best Bond songs ever. I specifically love how it’s a throwback to the past Bond songs, and the only Bond song I like since Daniel Craig took over the role. If I get to vote, I’ll rank this one instantly on top.

What’s your favorite from the list? Will we hear Academy Award winner Adele? How will you rank them? 🙂

As always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

85th Academy Awards: Best Picture Rankings   6 comments

oscar

Since the Academy’s timeline for this year’s awards ceremony is pretty much different from the previous years, it gives both the voters and viewers more chance to catch up on all the nominated films at this year’s Oscars. Luckily for me, I was able to finally see all nine of the nominated movies for Oscar’s top award. It’s an eclectic group of films this year ranging from musicals to biopics to rom-coms and war films with some foreign language movie also in the mix. And it’s not as if the Academy is lazy this year, as there’s no The Blind Side or Chocolat type of nomination from this year’s group. With that said, here’s how I’ll personally rank the nine films in contention. So, if I was an actual AMPAS voter, this would be my ballot. But since I’m not and I can only dream of that, I’d do it as a blog post. LOL.

9. LES MISERABLES
Director: Tom Hooper

Exactly ten years since the last musical was nominated for Best Picture (FYI that was Chicago and it even won Best Picture), the next in line that followed it is Tom Hooper’s adaptation of probably the most famous musical in history Les Miserables. There’s a lot of things that one can like in the 2012 version. For one, the live singing worked well in its favor as it was able to make the emotions more captured specifically during Hathaway’s I Dreamed a Dream number. The visual technical aspects were really good as well. Costumes, production design, and cinematography were such eye candies that it’s good to see it in the theaters for full maximum effect. Heck, the opening scene alone was well done. With that said, the main problem lies with Tom Hooper’s direction. The energy that he had during the opening parts instantly died down and wasn’t able to overcome it until the credits rolled. There’s a lot of dizzying and confusing shots (which was my concern during The King’s Speech too), but it was more visible here. With that said, the movie, as a whole, was just okay. I really felt that for a musical with this caliber, just okay is not enough. But see it for Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, and the revelation that was Eddie Redmayne. 3/5

8. BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD
Director: Benh Zeitlin

Beasts,which focuses on the relationship of a female kid named Hushpuppy and her ailing father in the middle of an unknown community on the brink of being cut off from the rest of the world, is one of the most heartwarming films in this year’s line up. What I particularly like about the movie is how it works up the viewer’s imagination in the juxtaposition of the feelings of Hushpuppy and the current environmental situation in their place. Oscar nominee Quvenzhane Wallis (the youngest ever) was more than capable enough as the lead performer in the film and gives not only her character but the film itself so much heart with her performance. Her chemistry with onscreen father Dwight Henry was raw and organic that it makes you more impressed knowing that these are both their breakthrough performances. Zeitlin’s first feature is remarkable that I’m excited to see what else can he bring to the table in his succeeding efforts. 3.5/5

7. SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
Director: David O. Russell

David O. Russell’s Oscar comeback was more than welcomed than his previous effort which was The Fighter. In Silver Linings Playbook, we meet crazies Pat (Bradley Cooper) and Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) as we’re treated to some football, dancing, and Mi Cherie Amour in between. For the most part, I was really hooked and I enjoyed it, particularly thanks to Russell’s writing of the two characters. However, it can’t help but remind us at the end of the film, that it was still a rom-com after all. I could have done without the dolly pan near the end nor the contrived dance scoring. Among the two simultaneous stories though, I prefer the dancing one more than the football. With that said, I’m still a big fan of the film. It was a good character study of two engaging characters that I could also have lived without the other characters popping every now and then, and even if it just focused on Lawrence and Cooper, I’d still buy it. Jennifer Lawrence is the Oscar frontrunner for Best Actress for this performance, and she is, indeed, memorable here and there’s a lot of Oscar clips they can choose from. As a stand alone performance (and not the competition), I wouldn’t be upset if she wins the Oscar this year. However, I wish more attention was given to Bradley Cooper as I find him equally (if not better) here, and while it’s up against President Lincoln, his is one of my favorite film performance this year. This is probably one of the few films in the group that I think I will see again. 4/5

6. DJANGO UNCHAINED
Director: Quentin Tarantino

Inglourious Basterds is probably in my three favorite Tarantino films, so expectations were quite high with this one, but nevertheless, Tarantino succeeds in coming up with an enjoyable take on a film whose main theme is slavery. The violence is prevalent more than ever, and can I just say how much I love the techs here. Quentin’s strongest suit lies with his writing interesting characters to watch and he has a lot of those in here. Ironically though, despite the 2 hour 40 minute screentime, it still somehow feels incomplete or a bit rushed. It occurred to me that he still has some things he’d like to polish or add but they’re probably rushing for Oscar season. I just mentioned that Tarantino has a knack of writing interesting characters, and the two that takes the cake for me are Christoph Waltz and Leonardo di Caprio. I don’t pretty much get the Waltz is playing the same role argument, because while I love Hans Landa, it’s not as if he’s the same here. di Caprio was probably the one who expanded the most in terms of approach and I would have been fine if this was his Oscar winning role (which sadly won’t be because he wasn’t even friggin nominated). Jamie Foxx was restrained here (which is good in my book), but felt quite blah-ish at times. But this was still a fun treat from start to end, though I’d understand if you ahve some reservations with the long screentime. 4/5

5. LINCOLN
Director: Steven Spielberg

The last Steven Spielberg film that I thoroughly enjoyed was way back in 2005 with the Oscar nominated Munich. But alas, after seven years, Spielberg comes back with a film that will doubt those naysayers that he can’t come up with a great film anymore via this year’s Lincoln. The movie, which was the most nominated this year with 12, focused on the process of passing the Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution which focused on the abolishing of slavery and involuntary servitude. This is probably one of the more important films in the line up, but the credit doesn’t go to a sole person. If anything, this film was one of the best collaborations this year. Tony Kushner’s script might come off as wordy, but it was one of the film’s strength. That meshed well with Spielberg’s direction of the movie.  And boy Daniel Day Lewis was magnificent in this. All talks of a possible third Oscar is really warranted. In the movie, he defied all the criticisms about him being a character actor that’s dependent on showy hammy approach. If there’s a performance that will win a deserved third lead Oscar, it’s his Lincoln’s. 4.5/5

4. ARGO
Director: Ben Affleck

Well I already did a review about this, but this is one of my favorite films of the year. While I was already sold with Ben Affleck the director way back in 2007’s Gone Baby Gone, it’s only in this that he made a movie that even casual fans can really appreciate. Well for one, the story is really too good to be true, but given that, I don’t know anyone who wasn’t tensed during the climax airport scene. I still think that there’s artistic license inserted in that part to make it more interesting, but for the most part, it was a solid thriller that was cleverly written by Chris Terrio and tightly directed by Ben Affleck. The film’s strongest aspect is showing that Hollywood, amidst the glitz and glamour, is still in touch with the country and a part of the whole US community. Like what I mentioned in my earlier review, “It is safe to say that Argo is one of the best thrillers of the past few years, and it certainly deserves that distinction. If anything, this is a solid impressive film that benefits from a lot of good characteristics that mix together. That’s enough to be considered as one of the best pictures of the year.” 4.5/5

3. LIFE OF PI
Director: Ang Lee

Probably the ultimate visual treat of the year, Ang Lee’s Life of Pi is one of the films that made me cry this year. For a novel that was deemed as “unfilmable”, Lee managed to do more than just film it, but deliver a heart-wrenching story that does not dictate you with what to believe but gives you the freedom to discover it for yourself. I’m in awe of these directors that managed to use the 3D format not for solely ticket sales, but as an integral part of bringing the experience more spectacular to its viewers. Rarely do we use the 3D format in a necessary format and I think before this, only Martin Scorsese’s Hugo and to a certain extent, James Cameron’s Avatar as the more successful ones. But past the 3D efforts, it also managed to convey this story of someone off to discover more about survival and faith without being preachy and being dictated on what to act or how to feel. Life of Pi is actually the opposite of that. It gives you the option to feel and understand and internalize it for yourself, and the credit mostly goes to Ang Lee’s concrete vision. Indeed, it’s one film I’ll recommend you to go straight to the theaters as downloading it won’t give it justice. 5/5

2. ZERO DARK THIRTY
Director: Kathryn Bigelow

On the outside, Zero Dark Thirty can easily be identified as the film that shows the killing of Osama bin Laden. But then again, it was more than that. It was simply not only about that. And that’s what I like the most about this. Bigelow’s follow up to 2009 Best Picture The Hurt Locker is something that even surpasses it, in my opinion. For the most part in the film, it follows a procedural format of what transpired. But it was just never bombing left and right, and I’d even say there are more quiet moments in the film. And in those quiet moments is where the best parts happen. It is where the room is opened for the viewer to take in what’s happening and what’s about to happen. The team up of Mark Boal as the screenwriter and Kathryn Bigelow as the director hit aces once again, and while most of the fouls were directed towards Ben Affleck being snubbed, Bigelow was indeed snubbed as well, and it is such a crime (though she can look at her Best Director Oscar at home if she wants to). And can we spare a moment to talk about how Jessica Chastain totally nailed this role. As Maya, you can see the enthusiasm that she puts into this character and how she’s more focused on portraying it as part of the bigger picture and not as an acting vehicle. So when the final scene sets in, that’s when she all lets loose and that moment was really golden. Definitely a must see! 5/5

1. AMOUR
Director: Michael Haneke

Definitely my favorite from this bunch is the surprise (or was it actually surprising?) inclusion of Palme d’Or winner Amour in the Best Picture line up. Michael Haneke’s take on a specific old couple where in the wife, Anne, was just waiting for her final days. If some of the films here are what I instantly recommend, I don’t think this belongs to that group. Haneke’s take on undying love is something that is not of the conventional, and in the shallowest way, one can see it in the form of “in pain, there is love.” The movie was mostly quiet, and we’re just confined to Georges and Anne’s house, but it helped in defining an environment of what happens from the most external (their day to day activities) up to the internal (their relationship with each other). And wow at the performances of both Jean Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva. By the near climax part, I was already sobbing.  If there was only a way to nominate them both, it would have been better. The love for Amour (no pun intended) is one of the sweetest surprises in this year’s Academy Awards nominations, and I’d be happy if it gets even three trophies this year. I’d always say that it Haneke finally decides to stop doing filmmaking after this, then I’d be alright with that as it’s one helluva way to close his filmography. 5/5

Whew that was pretty long! Anyway, that’s it! That would have been how my Oscar ballot would look like. How many have you seen so far? And how would you rank the contenders? Write them in the Comments section below!

And as always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl