For Your Consideration Poster | Cloud Atlas.

For Your Consideration Poster | Cloud Atlas.

I saw Pina today and I’ve been struggling to write a proper review of it, so I thought I should just provide some overall impressions. First of all, I had no idea watching a dance number could make me cry so much. The level of vulnerability and rawness of those dances, especially Cafe Muller, is astounding and overwhelming. I had never seen dancing like that and I was blown away by every single second of it. The cinematography of the film was spectacular and I love every setting of each dance number. It added so much and was lit in such way that it turned the shots into live paintings. And the music… what a masterpiece of a soundtrack.
It’s a very beautiful and lyrical film that deserves to be watched. And as far as 3D films go, Pina uses 3D to much greater effect than Avatar ever could. If you get a chance to see in theatre please do so. It is truly a unique experience that shows the boundless ideas and emotions we can convey with our bodies.

I saw Pina today and I’ve been struggling to write a proper review of it, so I thought I should just provide some overall impressions. First of all, I had no idea watching a dance number could make me cry so much. The level of vulnerability and rawness of those dances, especially Cafe Muller, is astounding and overwhelming. I had never seen dancing like that and I was blown away by every single second of it. The cinematography of the film was spectacular and I love every setting of each dance number. It added so much and was lit in such way that it turned the shots into live paintings. And the music… what a masterpiece of a soundtrack.

It’s a very beautiful and lyrical film that deserves to be watched. And as far as 3D films go, Pina uses 3D to much greater effect than Avatar ever could. If you get a chance to see in theatre please do so. It is truly a unique experience that shows the boundless ideas and emotions we can convey with our bodies.

And The Academy Award Goes To…

After the very exciting but ultimately disheartening previous awards season in 2010, one thing seem clear: emotion trumps out everything else. This notion has not been more true than it is now as the Oscars decided to nominate with their hearts, even at the mercy and negligence of far better albeit darker/colder films. Ever since The Artist surfaced it was hailed as the best of the year and sure frontrunner come Oscar time. That wasn’t the case for some time, but one can never underestimate the power of Weinstein as he and co. have managed to turn things around completely.

It’s actually really depressing the level of animosity this fuckin’ award show has towards challenging, graphic and risky films and how it’s all about being liked, being loved and being friendly. Most of the great films of 2011 were snubbed like ShameThe Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and Drive, but hey at least we have that fuckin’ War Horse (shoot me now). No matter how you look at it, this award season will end up being one of the dullest and most lacklustre ever. Nevertheless, let’s see who will win and which surprises you surely will not see.

BEST PICTURE.

Nominees: The Artist, The Descendants, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, War Horse.

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Who Will Win: The Artist. There is really no competition or surprise here. This film has been the frontrunner since the Cannes film festival; it charms everyone by making them feel warm and inspired. The public might not be fully on board with this (I certainly am not), but the Oscars don’t really care about what the public thinks. This film has been winning practically every award for the past few months so expect it to win here as well.

Who Should Win: Anything Else. I wouldn’t want EL&IC or War Horse to win, because those wins will solidify the redundancy of the Oscars but I am totally on board for the rest of the films to win. If anything at least it will be a realBrokeback Mountain/Crash surprise moment that no one expected. For the sake of argument though, I’d vote for HugoMoneyball or The Tree of Life to win.

BEST ACTOR.

Nominees: Demian Bichir for A Better Life, George Clooney for The Descendants, Jean Dujardin for The Artist, Gary Oldman for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Brad Pitt for Moneyball.

Who Will Win: Jean Dujardin for The Artist. For a long while it seemed that Clooney had this award locked, but after the recent awards shows Dujardin has risen as the frontrunner. Dujardin’s performance in The Artist is spellbinding and truly remarkeble considering all the emotions and ideas he conveys without words. And it helps that he is riding the crazy love for The Artist.

Who Should Win: Gary Oldman for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. It says a lot about the Oscars that they’ve waited until now to recognize Oldman with a nomination. As anyone who has seen TTSS can tell you, his performance is simply too amazing and brilliant to be ignored. Oldman is what draws you in, he inhabits this world with quiet, subdued and tragic ease and manages to create a more than majestic rendition of a beloved character. His performance is unique and standouts among all the rest.

BEST ACTRESS.

Nominees: Glenn Close for Albert Nobbs, Viola Davis for The Help, Rooney Mara for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady, Michelle Williams for My Week With Marilyn.

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Who Will/Should Win: Viola Davis for The Help. Even though I still don’t quite understand what is so brilliant and magnificent about Viola Davis performance, I want her to win because of what such recognition promises. Her win will (hopefully) open more doors for coloured actresses and actors, and demonstrate to (at least the Academy members and Studio executives) that one must be more open minded when it comes telling stories. America isn’t a purely white society, no matter how much they wished they were, and when it comes to films it is important to tell stories that not only focus on the white folks. And I know stories like that are being told, but they are few, far in between and aren’t backed up by people who make everyone see their value. Viola Davis win promises a future in which stories and films will be catered to non-white actresses/actors and if not for that then at least her win will be a form of recognition for all the splendid work she has done over the years. I think this win will really mean something and I’m afraid that if Streep wins then the Oscars would’ve missed a great chance at shaking things up.

Possible Upset: Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady. You can never count Meryl Streep out and with all the love she has, she could get nominated for Original Score and win it. Is her performance the strongest of the bunch? Hell no. Close, Mara and Williams deliver much better and memorable performances. But Streep is loved and many people believe she is overdue for her third Oscar. Seems a bit unfair though, she’s overdue for her third Oscar while the other nominees have none and barely get nominations.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR.

Nominees: Kenneth Branagh for My Week With Marilyn, Jonah Hill forMoneyball, Nick Nolte for Warrior, Christopher Plummer for Beginners, Max von Sydow for Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.

Who Will/Should Win: Christopher Plummer for Beginners. I think what makes Plummer’s performance so brilliant is the way it touches you on a deeply emotional level. It’s a very beautiful, humanistic, sentimental and sincere performance that stays with you for a long time. That level of power is unmatched by the other nominees and Plummer is the only actor here who is truly overdue for an Oscar.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS.

Nominees: Berenice Bejo for The Artist, Jessica Chastain for The Help, Melissa McCarthy for Bridesmaids, Janet McTeer for Albert Nobbs, Octavia Spencer for The Help.

Who Will/Should Win: Octavia Spencer for The Help. If Plummer’s win is a lock then there shouldn’t even be any other nominees battling Octavia Spencer. She has this award in the bag and rightly deserved as she delivers a funny, memorable and heart-warming performance in The Help. If Jessica Chastain had been nominated for Take Shelter, this would be a totally different story.

BEST DIRECTOR.

Nominees: Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist, Alexander Payne for The Descendants, Martin Scorsese for Hugo, Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris, Terrence Malick for The Tree of Life.

Who Will Win: Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist. Again, The Artist is the frontrunner so don’t be surprised if it wins this award too. While Dujardin is what largely makes The Artist so remarkable, one can never forget the creativity and brilliance behind it. Hazanavicius direction isn’t groundbreaking by any means, but just like Tom Hooper last year their films’ touch you emotionally and have the Weinstein firmly backing them up.

Who Should Win: Martin Scorsese for Hugo or Terrence Malick for The Tree of Life. Two visually daring, groundbreaking, original, emotional and unnaturally resilient films by two great masters of filmmaking that always manage to surprise you and make you experience the world with brand new eyes. These two films are highly personal projects that blew people away (even if you didn’t get The Tree of Life you mind was blown) and more importantly gave us a clear idea of the themes, experiences and ideas present in 2011.

BEST ANIMATED FILM.

Nominees: A Cat in Paris, Chico & Rita, Kung Fu Panda 2, Puss in Boots, Rango.

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Who Will/Should Win: Rango. It says a lot about Rango’s brilliance that even after being released in the very beginning of the year it has still managed to be the frontrunner among the animated films. But in all honest, how could it not be? Rango is animation at its most fun, entertaining, weird and fresh. I don’t know about you, but Rango yielded one of the most memorable experiences I’va had watching a film in 2011 and at its core there was an exploration of our purpose in life, of who we are and of being truthful to whatever that may be. It’s a cool, innovative and brilliant film that deserves/needs to win.

Possible Upset: Kung Fu Panda 2. As much as I love Rango (and trust me, my love is massive to the point of being uncomfortable), I love Kung Fu Panda 2 much more. This isn’t because the film is necessarily better, but it is because it touched an emotional cord within me and made me feel so many things. This is one of those cases in which I totally understand that emotionally-driven decision to pick films, but it helps that amongst a sea of sequels, prequels and whateverequels Kung Fu Panda 2 was able to surpass the first in every way and created a much more meaningful, enjoyable and re-watchable experience.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY.

Nominees: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash for The Descendants, John Logan for Hugo, George Clooney, Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon forThe Ides of March, Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin for Moneyball, Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

Who Will Win: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash for The Descendants. For those who didn’t read my review for The Descendants, I expressed how uninspiring and dull this screenplay is. I see nothing in it that would even merit a nomination but I presume I’m part of a very small minuscule group. The Descendants is a loved film and everyone seems to be eating out of Payne’s ass, and this seems like the only category in which this film might actually win. Only upside is getting to see Dean Pelton win an Oscar. How fuckin’ cool is that?

Who Should Win: Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin for Moneyball. If anyone has seen Moneyball there will be two things people will remember the most: one being Brad Pitt of course and the second being the dialogue. Moneyball is a dialogue-driven film that never disappoints and gets to the truth of what it is to be a winner, a loser and to have achieved something in life. In a way it reminds me a bit of the screenplay for Amadeus in the sense that there are pieces of dialogue here that are so tragically honest and beautifully written that they bring tears to your eyes. Oscar, this is the best screenplay of the year and it doesn’t matter that Aaron Sorkin won last year, Moneyball is the best.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY.

Nominees: Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist, Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wigg for Bridesmaids, J.C. Chandor for Margin Call, Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris, Asghar Farhadi for A Separation.

Who Will Win: Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris. While the Oscars almost always play it safe, sometimes in the screenplay categories there can be some surprises. Going with The Artist seems like the safest bet, but Woody Allen’s name alone carries so much wait and acclaim that his win feels like the most appropriate. This film is in many people’s eyes a return to form for Woody Allen and let’s be honest here, who wasn’t enchanted by the beautiful magic of Midnight in Paris?

Who Should Win: Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wigg for Bridesmaids. I know this win is far off but besides wanting to see Kristen Wigg win an Oscar, I feel that this is a screenplay that hits all the marks in a very intimate, funny and fresh way. Women rarely win at the Oscar, apart from those in the acting categories, and awarding two women who have deliver a female-driven comedy that is superior to most comedies we’ve received in years would be a great achievement.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY.

Nominees: Guillaume Schiffman for The Artist, Jeff Cronenweth for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Robert Richardson for Hugo, Emmanuel Lubezki for The Tree of Life, Janus Kaminski for War Horse.

Who Will Win: Guillaume Schiffman for The Artist. In all honesty, I have no idea who the frontrunner is here but I do know that it isn’t my favourite Emmanuel Lubezki. People said that The Artist will sweep everything so I imagine a win here is expected. If you also consider how explicit emotion trumps out technique, then I’d say War Horse could also win here. But more importantly, where the fuck are the nominations for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Melancholia?

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Who Should Win: Emmanuel Lubezki for The Tree of Life. It seems really odd to me that Lubezki’s win is as much a certainty as Malick winning for directing. Yes, The Tree of Life is “hard” to understand and turned a lot of people off but the cinematography is what really shines through pass everything else. Every shot in the film is amazing from the space sequence to the dinosaurs to the pure perfection of the beach scene where all the souls gather. It is unlike anything else and this has been the only film ever that has made me leave the theatre seeing what surrounds me in a totally new way. But then again, Lubezki lost for Children of Men and The New World so he could lose again.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE.

Nominees: John Williams for The Adventure of Tintin, Ludovic Bource for The Artist, Howard Shore for Hugo, Alberto Iglesias for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, John Williams for War Horse.

Who Will Win: Ludovic Bource for The Artist. Remember that people from any branch can vote and what is one of the main things people remember most about The Artist? The music.

Who Should Win: Alberto Iglesias for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. In a perfect world everyone would agree that this is not only the best score of 2011, but it is also one of the best score to come in recent memory. Iglesias nails the quiet poignancy of TTSS and creates a magnificently captivating score. If the Oscars want to earn their motto of awarding actual good works of art, this score should win. Although I have a strange and depressing feeling that John Williams might win this…

And that’s it! As it is the case every year, there is room for surprises but more so than other years it seem those surprises will not happen this time around no matter how much we pray and burn Twilight dvds to the film gods.

As always, thanks for reading! Who do you believe should or will win?

7 Wildly Ignored Performances of 2011.

It is no secret that the Oscars get more things wrong than right, that they are driven towards easily accessible and emotionally clear performances. Yes, every year a dark and challenging performance will sneak in and be recognized but let’s not kid ourselves, when those performances sneak it is either because a young beautiful actress is headlining them (i.e. Rooney Mara and Natalie Portman) or the performance is just too good to be ignored (i.e. Mo’Nique). I’ll never understand their need for reassuring and friendly performances, because while some of them are great I believe that the really challenging ones are even greater. 2011 gave us a slew of challenging performance that made us depressed and euphoric, but more importantly they revealed something personal and interesting about the human condition.

Here are, in my opinion, the best performances of 2011 that must never be forgotten.

7. Albert Brooks in Drive.

If some films didn’t have villains their greatness would be in serious jeopardy. The Oscars rarely recognize villainous roles and unless the performance is too big, they will ignore it. 2011 had some amazing villains, but the one that took the top prize alongside Tom Hiddleston’s Loki was Albert Brook’s Bernie Rose. Picture Drive without Brooks? Be honest, the film would not be as good. Brooks was absolutely fantastic as Bernie Rose and he milked that character for all it’s worth. That performance is menacing, fun, smooth, challenging, unpredictable, exciting and so much more all at the same time. He is the perfect opposite to Gosling’s quiet Driver and it is downright criminal to ignore such a scene stealing performance.

6. Andy Serkis in Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

The debate about whether motion capture is real acting or not, is in my humble opinion absolutely pointless and redundant. Motion capture is real acting and Serkis has proven it time and time again. He made Gollum into a flawed villains we all loved to hate, he made King Kong into a emotional and engaging character and with Ceaser he reaches an all-time high. The reason why this film works so well is because of Andy Serkis. Serkis brings such a depth and emotion to Ceaser that every time he’s on screen we are instantly drawn to him, he made us care about the apes and cheer as they destroyed the stoic and cruel humans. With that mind, also consider the physicality of his performance and how Serkis is the one running around and become a full flesh ape. Watch the behind the scenes feature of the film and tell me that isn’t acting, tell me that what he does isn’t more challenging than what any of the other nominees this year did. Serkis performance showcases the future and while motion capture will not obliterate normal acting, we should start recognizing its prevailing power.

5. Charlize Theron in Young Adult.

As I’ve said before, Theron’s performance as the very unlikable and cruel Mavis is a polarizing performance that reveals a lot about people. In an actress roundtable, Theron expressed how she preferred for people to empathize with her performance/character than to reject it or feel sorry for her. A lot of people seemed to have opted for the latter reactions, while a few others chose the former. The truth is that there are people in this world like Mavis and our immediate reaction would be to punch them in the face, but once one attempts to understand why they are the way they are one can now see things differently. Those people that enjoyed and praised Theron’s performance are those who empathized with her, because once you understand the character the greatness of her performance becomes clear. Theron nails everything in that performance from her intimidating “no fucks given” glares to those moments when you see how vulnerable and wounded Mavis is. Is it her best performance? It doesn’t matter, what matters is that she does something different and asks to see things from the perspective of the a type of person most us hate.

4. Kristen Dunst in Melancholia.

It is unfortunate that Lars von Trier pretty much shot Melancholia in the face with all those Nazi jokes, because this film and especially this performance by Kristen Dunst are career highs for both of them. I have never seen depression portrayed in such a devastating and hard to understand way. Dunst gets down to the core of it and to see her downward spiral is both heart-breaking and beautifully impressive. The numbness that her character feels is expressed by her body language and how it seems like something is pressing over her body at all times. Some people didn’t like her character and said she was just crazy, but I’d like to punch this people in the face and then tell them how closed minded they are being. Jus like Melancholia, Dunst performance is one that must be watched multiple times in order to discover all the layers present. If one felt the impending death of Earth just like Dunst’s Kristin does, one would understand why she does and acts the way she does. It’s a beautiful, thoughtful and provocative from an equally marvellous film that genuinely deserved recognition.

3. Tilda Swinton in We Need To Talk About Kevin.

Swinton is a chameleon and she has made her mark for delivering very challenging, dark, dynamic and difficult performances. In here she reaches a new high and I presume the main reason why a lot of people didn’t seem to like her was because her performance revealed something about parenting that no one wants to acknowledge. One thing is to be a parent and not be fit for it, but an entirely different thing is to be a parent and not want to be one. Swinton’s Eva is a mother who even though tried to care for her son, ends up really despising him for all the horror and pain he constantly inflicts on her. It’s understandable why Eva would show such animosity towards Kevin, but at the end of the day the film also shows that Eva still loves her son and is in fact the only person in the world who will stand by him. Swinton’s performance is devastating and downright depressing, but that alongside the fact that it shines a mixed light on parenting is what makes it so great and memorable. 

2. Michael Shannon in Take Shelter.

Take Shelter is easily one of the least seen films of 2011, but anyone who has seen it can tell you how absolutely majestic Shannon is. Shannon, who is known for his menacing presence and bombastic outrages, delivers a subdued performance that is extremely tender and beautifully engaging. His character is by far the most relatable one in this list, as most people can see why a a married father barely making ends meet will attempt to hide and fix by himself his ever increasing paranoia which once revealed will destroy everything he holds dear. Much like the film, his performance palpably builds up tension until it explodes in the dinner scene that is for me one of the most powerful moments in cinema I’ve seen in a very long time. This is Shannon’s best performance to date and urge everyone to go watch Take Shelter by any means necessary.

1. Ryan Gosling in Drive.

After seeing Drive, a lot of people expressed that Gosling didn’t do much in the film and that his performance was effective but nothing special. I strongly disagree with such a claim, as I believe his performance here is the best he has delivered but I understand why would people say that. Gosling’s Driver is an enigma, we don’t know about his family, his upbringing or where exactly he comes from. He also internalizes practically everything, which is why when he reaches his breaking point the acts of violence are brutal and shocking. This is a performance that relies solemnly on body language and one sit yourself and carefully examine him, you start to see the beautiful subtleties in his performance. This character is in fact highly vulnerable and Gosling’s face is actively repressing that vulnerability, but once in a while it surfaces. Gosling does more by saying nothing than most actors around can and the more you watch the film the more you discover.

And that’s it! I know I didn’t include Michael Fassbender for Shame, but we all know he has been ignored and I thought it would be best to turn this subject towards other more criminally ignored performances.

As always, thanks for reading!