Monthly Archives: January 2015

Movie Review: American Sniper


“And the winner of Best Oakleys Commercial of the year is…American Sniper!” Image via Indiewire

There is a rule many screenwriters follow called “Save the Cat,” in which the protagonist must do something good (like save a cat) in the film’s first act in order to be likable. In the first scene of American Sniper, Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) kills a woman and a child. Later, he tries to beat a dog with a belt. Now it makes sense why Chris Kyle is an American hero that nobody can stop arguing about.

American Sniper is about the Iraq War. It is a film that should have been made, and for a certain segment of America (re: cheese curd lovers), it will be the defining Iraq War film. For another segment of America (re: kale lovers), it will be seen as a huge missed opportunity. For film critics (re: movie lovers), it will be seen as a big disappointment from a legend of cinematic badassery. I am lactose intolerant and I hate kale, so you can guess which camp I fall into.

Continue reading

Other Great Performances From This Year’s Oscar Nominated Actresses


Image via Style Lovely

An all female Ghostbusters? What’s next, Oscar categories meant only for women? Oh, wait.

This is the same drill as my previous column dedicated to all of this year’s best actor nominees (leading and supporting). This isn’t necessarily about each actresses best performance (though in some cases, it is), but rather ones that are an important part of their careers. It could be their breakthroughs, or an instance where they played against type. In some cases, it is a TV show rather than a movie. Without further adieu, here are some other great performances from this year’s Oscar nominated actresses, with apologies to Keira Knightley and Felicity Jones:

Continue reading

Ten Other Great Performances From This Year’s Oscar Nominated Actors


My reaction after finding out that Jake Gyllenhaal wasn’t nominated for Nightcrawler. Image via YouTube

I had so much fun the other day exploring the films of this year’s crop of Oscar nominated directors, that I decided to keep going. The SAG Awards were last night, so I decided to look into this year’s Oscar nominated actors. By the way, there was no reason for me to include that the SAG Awards were last night, but I just want to keep this somewhat relevant.

The rules here are similar to those of my director column. This isn’t about each actors best performance, but rather about ones that define them in some interesting way. For some of them, I couldn’t completely do them justice, so I brought a friend in to help. Without much further adieu, here are some other noteworthy performances from each of this year’s Oscar nominated actors (includes those nominated both for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor):

Continue reading

Movie Review: The Imitation Game


“You’re too much of a genius, Alan Turing! We have to throw you in jail!” Logical. Image via Zap2it

As part of Oscar season, it is customary that at least one film is made that is set in or around World War II, and filled with British accents. So if you are going to be the one to make this film, you might as well try to make it good. While The Imitation Game isn’t transcendent, it succeeds at eloquently telling an engrossing life story into under two hours.

On the surface, Alan Turing, played with perfect robotic expression by Benedict Cumberbatch, doesn’t seem like a hero. While he didn’t invent the computer, and his story ends tragically, his life and his story are important, and The Imitation Game does everything it can to highlight that.

Continue reading

Five Other Films From This Year’s Oscar Nominated Directors


Remember the 90s when people dressed differently than we do now haha Image via Criterion

Ever since I first started to care about film in a freakishly intense way, I have always been fascinated by directorial style. Bad directors are bad because they have no distinct style. They are fine with being derivative of their time. Good directors think ahead, follow patterns, and ultimately evolve.

This year’s batch of directors include a few pros finally getting their due, a few directors evolving their style, and one who is new to the Oscars. I have gone through the careers of this year’s Oscar nominated directors. For the most part, I didn’t necessarily chose their best works, but rather I chose the ones you might not have seen, or the one’s that exemplify each director in an interesting way. With advanced apologies to Morten Tyldum, here is my list of five other great movies from this year’s Oscar Nominated directors:

Continue reading

Movie Review: Foxcatcher


Put me in, coach. Image via New York Times

You would have to be either really talented, or a really big troll, in order to take a story this insane and make it kind of boring. Sure, Foxcatcher is not a bad film, but it has the look of sad puppy dog eyes begging a little too hard for some Oscar love.

Here is a true crime story that seems too strange to be true. Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) is a gold medal winning Olympic wrestler who now lives more like a bum than a world class athlete. If he’s lucky, the tiny paychecks he receives will get him a sandwich at Arby’s. He constantly stands in the shadow of his older brother David (Mark Ruffalo), who is also a gold medal winning wrestler. David is a tough act to follow: he is a happily married family man with more talent and charisma than Mark has.

Continue reading

Movie Review: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

“And that’s when my dentist told me to floss daily.” Image via The Dissolve

When watching a feature directorial debut, look not just at how good the movie is, but how much promise it shows. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, the feature directorial debut of Ana Lily Amirpour, is not perfect, but the amount of promise it shows is hard to describe.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night wears its genre influences on its sleeves. If you can catch even half the references, then you will walk out with just a few more cool points added to your credibility. This is genre mashup that is sometimes incoherent, yet always riveting to watch.

Continue reading

Oscars 2015: Who Got Snubbed


If only we could all be this happy. Image via Forbes

There is nothing Americans love more than complaining about things that they know nothing about. Thus, the Oscars are a complainer’s paradise.

Yes, the Oscars are just an awards show, and not the end of the world. But scoring a nomination is actually important. For example, if Jennifer Aninston scored a nod for Cake, maybe we would finally be able to see it. Seriously, I don’t know a single non-critic who has seen the movie. I don’t even think Jennifer Aniston has seen it. But at the end of the day, it’s a hunk of shiny medal shaped like a naked bald dude holding a sword.

There is also the disparity between what deserves an Oscar and what will actually win an Oscar. A lot of films that win Best Picture are forgotten years later. For instance, let’s look at 2004. Million Dollar Baby won that year. I would argue that the most influential and memorable film of that year is Mean Girls. That is the one that everybody still watches and quotes, but of course it wasn’t nominated for any Oscars. It is not an Oscar movie; it is the kind of movie that people dedicate Tumblr accounts to.

When deciding what I think the biggest snubs were, I took into account both what I wish was nominated, and what would actually make sense as a nomination. Yesterday, I talked about which nominations made me happy. Today, I discuss which snubs make me sad. Cue the anger!

Continue reading

Movie Review: Selma


Image via LA Times

In the opening minutes of Selma, Martin Luther King (David Oyelowo) is struggling with a big question: what message will he be sending if he wears an ascot to accept his Nobel Prize? It is a relatively small problem that means the world to Dr. King in the kind of film where we learn so much about a man we all thought we knew so well.

Most historical films would end when somebody receives such a big honor. However, Selma is partially a film about cementing your legacy, whether you are civil rights leader or the governor of Alabama, and Selma is smart enough to know that picking one defining moment of King’s life is no easy task.

Continue reading

Oscars 2015: What They Got Right


Image via Hitfix

The statement “while I do not agree with some of the nominations, I am happy about most of them” could literally be said every single year. Time is a freaking flat circle.

There have already been a lot of complaints going around, mainly about the lack of Selma (my review and thoughts on that to come). With a strong presence of films like The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything (NOTE: I haven’t seen either of these yet, so I am guessing here), this was a year made for Oscar movies rather than movies that actually deserved Oscars. However, the ambitious Boyhood and Birdman lead the pack. In order to finally get some Oscar love, Alejandro Inarritu had to finally stop making Oscar movies.

There are many deserving nominees this year. Here are a few I especially loved:

Continue reading