Sunday, 23 February 2014

The Academy Awards 2014 | My Official Predictions

Best Picture

I think almost all of us realise that Best Picture will go to one of three movies. They are: 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, and Gravity. The other films are all fine films, and two of them I think are outstandingly good (Her & The Wolf of Wall Street). I'm almost certain that the top prize will go to 12 Years, but who knows, maybe the Academy voters will create an upset once again by voting for an inferior, "funner" film (such as American Hustle). After all the awards buzz, 12 Years garnered the top honours, which makes it a shoe in for the Oscar for Best Picture. 

Best Director

Alexander Payne and David O. Russell seem to be the most unlikely of the nominees to win the award, for they themselves have garnered very little buzz. Martin Scorsese could surprise us all with a win, seeing as he's worked with many people in the business and turned out one of his career best films. Steve McQueen crafted what many see as a 'masterpiece of cinema,' so that makes him a big contender. However, it is Alfonso Cuaron and his magical directorial wizardry that garnered the most love during awards season, so I place my bet firmly on him. 

Best Actor

I'd consider it a pretty big upset if anyone other than Matthew McConaughey won Best Actor this year. No one saw his turn as a cowboy dying of aids coming, and man did he make many jaws drop. Chiwetel Ejiofor is the clear runner up, followed by DiCaprio's hilarious turn as the villainous Wolf of Wall Street. Bruce Dern doesn't seem to be in the race, but god knows he deserves an Oscar. As for Christian Bale, he was good in American Hustle, but far weaker than all the other nominees. 

Best Actress

I say with confidence that I think Cate Blanchett will win the Oscar this year. Of all the nominees, it was her stunning turn as the mentally unstable Jasmine that proved to be a performance for the ages. Judi Dench gave one of her greatest performances in Philomena, which could serve as an upset this year. Sandra Bullock and Amy Adams are the biggest threats to Blanchett, but they shouldn't even be serious contenders for the Oscar. Meryl Streep doesn't stand a chance, for she's been nominated too many times. Also, her performance, while fiery and outstanding, is not her greatest performance to date. Dench is the only REAL competition in the field, but popularity has served as a much bigger threat than talent in the past (such as when Gwyneth Paltrow beat Blanchett in 1998).

Best Supporting Actor

Supporting Actor is by far the most unpredictable category this year. Barkhad Abdi stunned everyone with his debut, and garnered much awards buzz this season. Jared Leto won many awards, and is a very popular, almost veteran actor that made a huge comeback this year as a trans-gender man dying of aids. I'd put my money on one of them, however, Michael Fassbender could surprise everyone and win for his portrayal as a detestable plantation owner. He is very popular, and in my opinion, he gave a perfect performance. As for Bradley Cooper and Jonah Hill, I thought they were both great in their respective roles, but neither of them stand a chance at winning. If I had to predict a winner, I'd go with Barkhad Abdi based on his recent popularity. 

                             Best Supporting Actress

I have a sickening feeling that Jennifer Lawrence is going to win this year. She gave the most mediocre performance out of all the nominees in every acting category. However, her popularity amongst her peers, and indeed around the world, is what seems to make her such a heavy favorite at these awards ceremonies. Lupita Nyong'o on the other hand gave a heart-wrenching performance, and has garnered much awards buzz this season. Julia Roberts and June Squibb seem to have faded into the background of the nominees, which is saddening because they were both phenomenal. Sally Hawkins, who was perfection in Blue Jasmine, has also faded out of contention really. So I'll say Lawrence will win, even if it is a disgusting decision by the Academy.

The Greatest Romance Movies of All Time

These are the greatest romance films I've ever seen. It is a list that shall forever grow with every masterpiece of love and heart-ache that I see. The romances range from the humble spark between tramp and flower-girl (City Lights), to the fiery passion between two young women (Blue is the Warmest Colour).

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Top 16 Best Supporting Actress Performances

Top 16 Best Supporting Actress Performances
of the Last Decade (2000 to 2009)

If you think there are performances that should be on the list, please tell me in the comments. I probably haven't seen them yet, so it would be great to get some feedback. Thanks as always, - Ben.

If you like this list, check out my other lists!

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

The Red Shoes (1948) - ★★★★★

Directors: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
Writers: Hans Christian Andersen (fairytale), Emeric Pressburger, Michael Powell (screenplay)
Stars: Moira Shearer, Anton Walbrook, Marius Goring, Esmond Knight, Robert Helpmann

The Red Shoes is one of the most spectacular films I've ever seen. It turned me (someone who has never found ballet all that interesting) into a huge fan of the art. There are sequences in this film that are so magical... so exquisite... that they just take my breath away. This is a film that has everything a true fan of cinema could possibly want, from groundbreaking special effects, to mesmerising choreography, to the gorgeous score by Brian Easdale, and of course, the unforgettable performances by Moira Shearer and Anton Walbrook. It is a film that is way before its time. It's the kind of film that puts modern cinema to shame. I've never missed the golden age of cinema more than now, and it is because The Red Shoes is such a perfect display of beauty and cinematic mastery. Not only is it one of the best movies of its genre, it's one of the greatest movies of all time.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Philomena (2013) - ★★★★

Director: Stephen Frears
Writers: Steve Coogan, Jeff Pope, Martin Sixsmith (book)
Stars: Judi Dench, Steve Coogan, Sophie Kennedy Clark, Mare Winningham, Barbara Jefford, Michelle Fairley

Philomena is one of my favourite films of 2013. In a year filled with many unoriginal and uninspiring stories, Philomena stands out with a truly emotional punch that hit me to the core. The touching screenplay made it such a beautiful film, as well as Judi Dench's stunning turn as a woman looking for the child that was taken away from her some fifty years ago. It really is one of the most moving performances I've ever seen. What surprised me about Philomena most is that it's an exquisitely crafted human interest story, with memorable cinematography and a soul-touching score by the great Alexandre Desplat. While some pan the film for being too "condemning" and not understanding enough of these nuns from 1950s Ireland, I thought Philomena said everything that needed to be said, and moved the audience more than the creators could ever have imagined.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

My Top 10 Directors

Tom from At The Back created a list of his Top 10 Director's by averaging all the scores of the movie's they made. It was a riveting read, which has inspired me to do the same! Without any further delay, here is my Top 10 Directors (based on their average movie scores).

To be included in the Top 10, I must have seen a minimum of 5 films from the director. 

Honourable Mentions

Stanley Kubrick
Paths of Glory (1957) - 10/10
Spartacus (1960) - 8.5/10
Dr. Strangelove (1964) - 10/10
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) - 10/10
A Clockwork Orange (1971) - 5/10
The Shining (1980) - 5/10
Full Metal Jacket (1987) - 9/10
Average Rating - 8.2/10

Career Highlight: 2001: A Space Odyssey is an outstanding masterpiece of its time, but Paths of Glory remains his greatest film in my eyes. 

Martin Scorsese
Taxi Driver (1976) - 9/10
Raging Bull (1980) - 7.5/10
Goodfellas (1990) - 10/10
Casino (1995) - 8/10
Gangs of New York (2002) - 8/10
The Departed (2006) - 9/10
Shutter Island (2010) - 7.5/10
Hugo (2011) - 8/10
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) - 9/10
Average Rating - 8.4/10

Career Highlight: Goodfellas, in my opinion, is the greatest gangster film ever made. 

Peter Jackson
Heavenly Creatures (1994) - 10/10
The Frighteners (1995) - 8/10
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) - 10/10
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) - 9.5/10
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) - 9.5/10
The Lovely Bones (2009) - 8/10
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) - 8.5/10
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013) - 5/10

Career Highlight: The LOTR's trilogy is his greatest triumph, though Heavenly Creatures is in my opinion his greatest film.

John Ford
The Informer (1935) - 8.5/10
The Grapes of Wrath (1940) - 10/10
How Green Was My Valley (1941) - 7/10
The Searchers (1956) - 9.5/10
Average Rating - 8.8/10

Career Highlight: The Grapes of Wrath stands out as a masterpiece for the ages. A timeless classic.

Francis Ford Coppola
The Godfather (1972) - 9/10
The Conversation (1973) - 9/10
The Godfather Part 2 (1974) - 10/10
Apocalypse Now (1979) - 9/10
Average Rating - 9.3/10

Career Highlight: While The Godfather is the heavy favourite, I preferred the riveting sequel.

Yimou Zhang
Raise the Red Lantern (1991) - 10/10
Hero (2002) - 9.5/10
House of Flying Daggers (2004) - 9/10
Curse of the Goldenflower (2006) - 9/10
Under the Hawthorn Tree (2011) - 9.5/10
Average Rating - 9.4/10

Career Highlight: Raise the Red Lantern is arguably the greatest film to ever come from China.

Wong Kar Wai
Days of Being Wild (1990) - 9.5/10
Happy Together (1997) - 9.5/10
In the Mood for Love (2000) - 10/10
2046 (2004) - 9.5/10
Average Rating - 9.6/10

Career Highlight: In the Mood for Love, for it is one of the most subtle, intelligent films ever made.

David Lean
Blithe Spirit (1945) - 8.5/10
Brief Encounter (1945) - 10/10
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) - 10/10
Lawrence of Arabia (1962) - 10/10
Dr. Zhivago (1965) - 9.5/10
Average Rating - 9.6/10

Career Highlight: Lawrence of Arabia, the greatest epic in the history of cinema.

My Top 10 Directors

Steven Spielberg
Duel (1971) - 9.5/10
Jaws (1975) - 10/10
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) - 10/10
E.T. The Extra Terrestrial (1982) - 8.5/10
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) - 9.5/10
The Color of Purple (1985) - 8/10
Empire of the Sun (1987) - 9/10
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) - 10/10
Hook (1991) - 7.5/10
Jurassic Park (1993) - 8/10
Schindler's List (1993) - 10/10
Saving Private Ryan (1998) - 9.5/10
War of the Worlds (2005) - 7/10
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) - 8.5/10
The Adventures of TinTin (2011) - 9/10
War Horse (2011) - 8/10
Lincoln (2012) - 6/10
Average Rating - 8.7/10

Career Highlight: Schindler's List, for it's arguably the most moving film ever made.

Quentin Tarantino
Reservoir Dogs (1992) - 10/10
Pulp Fiction (1994) - 9.5/10
Jackie Brown (1997) - 8/10
Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003) - 10/10
Kill Bill Vol. 2 (2004) - 9/10
Inglourious Basterds (2009) - 7/10
Django Unchained (2012) - 9/10
Average Film Rating - 8.9/10

Career Highlight: Reservoir Dogs stands out as the greatest to me. 

Michael Curtiz
Captain Blood (1935) - 9.5/10
The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936) - 6/10
The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) - 10/10
The Sea Hawk (1940) - 9/10
Casablanca (1942) - 10/10
Mildred Pierce (1945) - 9/10
Average Rating - 8.9/10

Career Highlight: Directing the film Casablanca (1942), which I consider the greatest film ever made. 

James Cameron
The Terminator (1984) - 9/10
Aliens (1986) - 9.5/10
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1992) - 9.5/10
True Lies (1994) - 8/10
Titanic (1997) - 10/10
Avatar (2009) - 8/10
Average Rating - 9/10

Career Highlight: The triumph that is his film Titanic.

Hayao Miyazaki
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984) - 9/10
Laputa, Castle in the Sky (1986) - 9.5/10
My Neighbor Totoro (1988) - 10/10
Kiki's Delivery Service (1989) - 8/10
Porco Rosso (1992) - 9/10
Princess Mononoke (1997) - 10/10
Spirited Away (2001) - 10/10
Howl's Moving Castle (2004) - 10/10
Ponyo (2008) - 8.5/10
Average Rating - 9.3/10

Career Highlight: Miyazaki has made many masterpieces, but Spirited Away remains his greatest.

Alfred Hitchcock
Rebecca (1940) - 10/10
Shadow of a Doubt (1943) - 10/10
Notorious (1946) - 9/10
Rear Window (1954) - 9/10
Vertigo (1958) - 10/10
North By Northwest (1959) - 9/10
Psycho (1960) - 10/10
The Birds (1963) - 8/10
Frenzy (1972) - 9/10
Average Rating - 9.3/10

Career Highlight: It's no surprise that Psycho is his greatest achievement, but Rebecca is my personal favourite from his repertoire of films. 

Ang Lee
Sense and Sensibility (1995) - 10/10
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) - 9/10
Brokeback Mountain (2005) - 10/10
Lust, Caution (2007) - 9.5/10
Life of Pi (2012) - 9.5/10
Average Rating - 9.6/10

Career Highlight: Brokeback Mountain is the greatest LGBT film ever made, and a life-changing film for many people.

Billy Wilder
Double Indemnity (1944) - 10/10
The Lost Weekend (1945) - 10/10
Sunset Boulevard (1950) - 10/10
Stalag 17 (1953) - 9/10
Witness For the Prosecution (1957) - 10/10
Some Like It Hot (1959) - 10/10
The Apartment (1960) - 8.5/10
Average Rating - 9.6/10

Career Highlight: Double Indemnity, Some Like It Hot, and Sunset Boulevard are three perfect films, three classic masterpieces, and all very worthy of the being called Billy Wilder's greatest achievement.

Charlie Chaplin
The Kid (1921) - 9.5/10
The Gold Rush (1925) - 10/10
City Lights (1931) - 10/10
Modern Times (1936) - 9.5/10
The Great Dictator (1940) - 9.5/10
Average Score - 9.7/10

Career Highlight: I personally think City Lights is his greatest film, but the highlight of Charlie Chaplin's illustrious career would be the speech he made in The Great Dictator. Simply moving.

Akira Kurosawa
Rashomon (1950) - 10/10
Ikiru (1952) - 10/10
Seven Samurai (1954) - 10/10
Yojimbo (1961) - 9.5/10
Ran (1985) - 9/10
Average Rating - 9.7/10

Career Highlight: Seven Samurai is considered his greatest achievement, but I personally feel that Kurosawa's masterpiece was Ikiru. That film truly has the power to change a person's life for the better. It gave me a new outlook on life, which is something I will always be thankful for. 

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) - ★★★★½

Director: Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise
Writers: Victor Hugo (Novel)
Voices: Tom Hulce, Demi Moore, Tony Jay, Kevin Kline, Jason Alexander, Paul Kandel, Charles Kimbrough, David Ogden Stiers

Of all the movies I've seen on my Disney Blogathon, The Hunchback of Notre Dame was the biggest surprise of all. It truly is one of the most beautiful animated features ever created. I was in complete awe of the meticulously detailed, gorgeous animation of the city of Paris, the characters that wandered the streets, the 3D bells and shots of Notre Dame, and the stunning angles and techniques that occur scene by scene. The music that encompass this film sends chills down my spine, for it has such a mature, haunting sound, which suits this tale of oppression and longing to perfection. I was surprised mostly because this film used to make me upset as a child, but as an adult, I noticed masterful aspects that I hadn't seen before. This is honestly one of the most underrated movies of all time.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Ugetsu (1953) - ★★★★★

Director: Kenji Mizoguchi
Writers: Yoshikata Yoda (screenplay), Akinari Ueda (stories), Matsutarô Kawaguchi (adaptation)
Stars: Kinuyo Tanaka, Masayuki Mori, Mitsuko Mito, Eitarô Ozawa, Machiko Kyô

Set in the midst of the Azuchi-Momoyama period (between 1573 to 1603), Ugetsu is the tale of four people whose lives were ravaged by war and the savagery of men. Miyagi (Kinuyo Tanaka) and Genjûrô (Masayuki Mori) both have a child together, and make a living by farming and making pottery. Ohama (Mitsuko Mito) and Tôbee (Eitarô Ozawa) are close relations I believe, who live nearby in the same village. When their village is raided, the four must do all they can to stay alive, and thrive in a time filled with conflict and chaos. It is a harrowing story of greed, lust, ambition, the will to survive, and the supernatural.