What’s Out This Week? – April 26, 2013

What’s Out This Week? – April 26, 2013

[Read more…]

83rd Academy Award Winners & Recap

83rd Academy Award Winners & Recap

The 83rd Annual Academy Awards came and went, and overall it was business as usual. No real huge upsets, no real huge shockers. The main topic of conversation however was the actual program, and their hosts. Hosted by James Franco and Anne Hathaway, the Oscars certainly were going after a wider demographic. I’d say they would have had better luck with a pair that had better chemistry. James Franco is great, but I just kept getting the vibe that he had no desire to be there. His chill relaxed demeanor was not a compliment to Hathaway’s peppy excited cheerleader.

I think my favorite moment was Kirk Douglas presenting, he may have been difficult at times to understand, but charming none the less. Another thing being buzzed about was leaving out Corey Haim in the Memoriam section, not sure if it was intentional or not, but clearly folks are upset about it. My favorite part of the Oscars were also absent this year, I look forward to the great montages of film history they tend to have. Perhaps cutting this was also part of the effort to reach a wider demographic. For shame.

Here’s looking forward to next year!

83rd Academy Award Winners

  • Best Picture: “The King’s Speech”
  • Best Actor: Colin Firth – “The King’s Speech”
  • Best Actress: Natalie Portman – “Black Swan”
  • Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale – “The Fighter”
  • Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo – “The Fighter”
  • Best Director: Tom Hooper, “The King’s Speech”
  • Best Foreign Language Film: “In a Better World” (Denmark)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin – “The Social Network”
  • Best Original Screenplay: David Seidler – “The King’s Speech”
  • Best Animated Feature Film: “Toy Story 3”
  • Best Art Direction: “Alice in Wonderland”
  • Best Cinematography: “Inception”
  • Best Sound Mixing: “Inception”
  • Best Sound Editing: “Inception”
  • Best Original Score: “The Social Network” (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross)
  • Best Original Song: “We Belong Together” from “Toy Story 3” (Randy Newman)
  • Best Costume Design: “Alice in Wonderland”
  • Best Documentary Feature: “Inside Job”
  • Best Documentary (short subject): “Strangers No More”
  • Best Film Editing: “The Social Network”
  • Best Makeup: “The Wolfman”
  • Best Animated Short Film: “The Lost Thing”
  • Best Live Action Short Film: “God of Love”
  • Best Visual Effects: “Inception”


Sam’s 2011 Oscar Picks

Sam’s 2011 Oscar Picks

Looking over the names and movies nominated, it appears that 2010 was a pretty good year at the movies, critics be damned. Sure, audiences had to sit through “Sex and the City 2,” “The Last Airbender,” and “She’s Out of My League,” but people always
remember 1994 as the year of “Pulp Fiction,” and “Heavenly Creatures,” and not as the year of “Nell,” “Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein,” and “3 Ninjas Kick Back.”

So, here are my picks for who will be winning the Academy Award come February 27th.

Best Supporting Actor

Christian Bale- “The Fighter”

You could give Christian Bale this award for any role he’s played in the last 5 years, (okay, maybe not that Terminator movie,) and it’d be well deserved. As the screw-up older brother to Mark Wahlberg’s Mickey Ward, he’s wonderful. Also he does the Massachusetts accent without sounding like a moron- he at least deserves something for that.

Best Supporting Actress

Melissa Leo- “The Fighter”

Everything I said about Christian Bale goes doubly so for Melissa Leo. (Well, except the part about being in that Terminator movie.) She deserved the Oscar for “Frozen River,” and she deserves it here.

Best Actor

Colin Firth- “The King’s Speech”

Colin Firth is one of those actors who I love no matter what movie he’s in. (“What a Girl Wants,” not so much.) He’s wonderful as the King of England and the sympathy and empathy he evokes while not crossing over into pity is excellent.

Best Actress

Natalie Portman- “Black Swan”

Yet again, the award goes to someone who has deserved it for some time. Portman is excellent in “Black Swan,” and most people will probably say she deserves the award for going through the grueling ballet training and losing a lot of weight, but she really
deserves it for a schizophrenic performance… in the best possible way.

Best Director

David Fincher- “The Social Network”

Fincher is one of the best filmmakers working today, so it only makes sense that he’ll get this honor. “The Social Network” is a perfect balance of a movie, keeping the tension and drama in perfect balance. (Of course, Fincher deserved this honor for “Se7en,” and “Zodiac,” so, yet again, late is better than never.

Best Pictore (Who I want to win)

“Black Swan”

All of the best picture nominees are great movies and worth checking out if you haven’t seen them. When they were announced, there wasn’t a head-scratcher in the bunch. While “The King’s Speech,” and “The Social Network” seem to be the front-runners to win, I would love to see Daren Aronofsky’s latest take home the statue. “Black Swan” is a tribute to Alfred Hitchcock, Mario Bava and Dario Argento, but at the same time, is still very much in Aronofsky’s voice. It’s a tense and riveting ride of a movie and as the lights came up at the end, I let out a huge sigh… Turns out I’d been holding my breath for the final 30 minutes. All the performances are excellent, with Portman leading the cast. It’s also great to see Barbara Hershey back on the screen and delivering such a wonderful performance. While the big awards rarely go to a horror/suspense film, (you have to go back to 1991’s “Silence of the Lambs,”) but this is one movie that transcends the genre and stands on it’s own to legs… or flippers. If you haven’t seen “Black Swan” yet, you should see it in a theater. There’s nothing like being in a packed room and going on this ride together. Maybe the Oscar voters picking “The Social Network” and “The King’s Speech,” will cancel each other out and “Black Swan” will walk away with the top honor. Much like “Black Swan,” itself, that fantasy is part dream/part nightmare…depending on who you ask.

Brandin’s 2011 Oscar Picks

Brandin’s 2011 Oscar Picks

Hollywood has returned once again to celebrate their overwhelming achievements of 2010.  As always there are plenty of notable omissions from the nominee list, but we can discuss why The Last Airbender missed out on Best Original Screenplay (besides its obvious flaw off being an armpit of of movie and further evidence that M. Night has never actually watched his own movies, or else he would stop making them) at a later time.  Right now we need to focus on those that earned nominations … well at least the nominations we care about.  I mean Best Foreign Language Film? What am I?  Some sort of reading scientist?

Anyway, these are my picks for who I think will win.  I may hedge a bet and say who I want to win at some point, but I will decide when I get there.

Best Director
David Fincher

Best Actor
Colin Firth

Best Actress
Natalie Portman

Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale

Best Supporting Actress
Melissa Leo

And the Best Picture goes to …

The King’s Speech

I think this film is tailor made for BP.  It has an outstanding performance by Colin Firth, historical context, elegance of costume design, the sets were amazing, the cinematography, while not mind blowing, was beautifully structured in its commitment to geometric integrity.  While my preference would be to see a Black Swan/Aronofsky combination win (I believe the journalistic term to what I have just done is I have given myself “wiggle room”), I think The King’s Speech will take home the night’s top prize.  And while I would be more than joyous if Black Swan took the gold man home, that does not make Tom Hooper’s effort any less deserving in my eyes.  It was a great film and a worthy winner.

DVD Review: A Christmas Carol


‘A Christmas Carol’ is filmmaker Robert Zemeckis’ entry into a story that has been told countless times in a variety of different ways. Zemeckis tells his version via his favorite motion capture technique.

I’m not the biggest advocate for motion-capture movies. Often times the characters look so close to the actors playing them that I have to ask, what was the advantage other then costing a lot, to telling the story this way. However, for a story like this, the technique truly immersed you within the world of Charles Dickens’ classic story.

Ebenezer Scrooge is played by Jim Carrey, however, his voice is completely unrecognizable. Carrey’s voice acting is unbelievable. Everyone knows the famous tale of a cold-hearted, penny-pinching, selfish man who is haunted by three different spirits through out Christmas eve. One showing him the Christmas’ of past, one of the present, and one of the future. The hope is for this shallow, selfish man to see the error in his ways, and repent, in hopes to save himself, and those around him from a bleak, sad future.

The production design is unbelievable, Zemeckis and his animators created a living breating London, capturing the period eloquently. From the snow on cobblestone, to the breath coming from the CGI-actors mouths, the detail in this film is exquisite. There is a point where we see Scrooge’s sign age 7 years, the detail in the wood cracking and paint peeling was unbelievable.

The animation is leaps and bounds from ‘Polar Express,’ and what really made it work for me was the realism and movements in the human eyes.

The use of 3D was completely tasteful, the film lacked the ridiculousness of goofy things popping out at you. It was just another way Zemeckis set you into the world of Charles Dickens Christmas Carol.

Review: A Christmas Carol 3D

Review: A Christmas Carol 3D


‘A Christmas Carol’ is filmmaker Robert Zemeckis’ entry into a story that has been told countless times in a variety of different ways. Zemeckis tells his version via his favorite motion capture technique. [Read more…]

On Board the Train: An Early Look at Disney’s “A Christmas Carol”

On Board the Train: An Early Look at Disney’s “A Christmas Carol”


If you pass by South Station this weekend and notice there’s snow in the air, and you hear carolers singing holiday favorites don’t be too alarmed.  It’s just another attempt to excite audiences about a new Robert Zemeckis movie. [Read more…]

DVD Review: Mama Mia!

DVD Review: Mama Mia!


Islands in drama have always been mystical, mysterious places.  From the islands in Shakespeare’s “Tempest,” to Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island,” every island seems to be rife with a lot of things that might not be found on the mainland.  Add to the list director Phyllida Lloyd’s film version of the hit stage musical, “Mama Mia!”

How is it mystical and mysterious?  Award-winning actors, not known for their singing voices break into song at every available opportunity.  The costumes are loud and bright, and seem diametrically opposed to the lush blue waters of the Greek isles.  And then there’s the choreography, which is clunky, obvious and overwrought.  “Mama Mia!” is an overabundance of things that are wrong, but, somehow, bizarrely enough, it all works.

Sophie, (Amanda Seyfried,) is a local Greek girl, working at the cozy inn run by her mother Donna, (Meryl Streep,) getting ready to marry the love of her life.  However, never knowing who her father is, and wanting him to give her away at the wedding, she stumbles across her mother’s diary and invites the three men who might fight the bill, (Stellan Skarsgard, Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth).  Donna’s two friends, (Julie Walters and Christine Baranski,) are also on-hand and, as is usually the case in such scenarios and such films, high jinks result.

Combining the list of things I mentioned at the top of this review with the flimsy plot just described, it would seem like this is a complete disaster of a movie.  And, for the first thirty minutes it is.  The colors are rich and vibrant, but the difference between things shot on-location and on a sound stage are startling.  The acting is over the top to the point of being shrill from minute one.  The choreography is ridiculous, consisting, mainly, of literally acting out the lyrics.  The music is wonderful, but even it isn’t enough to save this sinking ship.

But then, around the forty-minute mark, in the middle of Meryl Streep’s first big song, ‘Mama Mia,’ it all sort-of starts to make sense.  Of course it’s supposed to have silly, bright costumes.  Of course it’s supposed to have terrible dancing.  Of course it’s supposed to look like it was shot on a sound stage.  And then there’s the singing.  No one, Pierce Brosnan’s wife and children included, enjoy hearing him sing.  It’s a deep rumble of a voice, wavering around the note, instead of hitting it solidly.  But it all works.  Wonders of wonders, it works.  After those first confusing, irritating, annoying and aggravating 40 minutes, it all falls into place.

I cannot try to explain it nor can I comprehend it; the movie works.  It’s creaky, it’s imperfect, it’s a drunken night out at the karaoke bar, but it works.  It’s the type of film that makes you question your cinematic likes and dislikes from childhood on.  It’s the type of film that makes you consider throwing it all away for a life on a Greek island.  It’s the type of film that makes you want to, dare I say it, sing and dance.

“Mama Mia!” is a wonderfully silly, amazingly clunky, shockingly terrible mess.  Somehow, for some reason, I recommend it.  -Sam