Despite having the lowest summer box office in over a decade 2017 has been a great year for movies. It’s actually hard to believe that the box office has been so bad given just how many great movies have come out. It’s almost like the a glut of sequels and remakes combines with going to the movies being a kind of shitty experience is starting to take a toll. Or everyone spent the summer outside. You never know.
In any event, since I haven’t been writing reviews as diligently as I should (read: at all) I’d like to present you a few performances from this year in roughly chronological order that are worth of both your time and hefty amounts of praise. Mild spoilers for all films discussed.
Neil Blomkamp has two major movies under his belt, the amazing _District 9_ and the pretty good but visually spectacular _Elysium_. Next year we get his third film, Chappie, also starring Sharlto Copley along with Hugh Jackman, Dev Patel, and Sigourney Weaver.
Details have been locked up tight but today Sony tweeted out this shiny poster giving us look one at Chappie himself (a reject looking robot wearing bling. I like it.) and tomorrow there will be a trailer. No idea what to expect but somehow I think that marking 6th March on the ol’ calendar is a pretty safe bet.
The latest *X-Men* film is a spectacular affair, a high-budget and frequently hilarious reassertion of the franchise after the dreadful *X3: The Last Stand* and *Wolverine* movies. It features all the most popular members of the group kicking ass in glorious action sequences that might be some of the best you’ll see this year and even makes room for a few *fantastic* new mutants. The narrative is good, if a little exposition-heavy upfront, and the pace is great. So it’s a real shame that, even with all these perfect elements, the film’s story makes such a dull thud. The problem isn’t that it’s badly told, it’s just that there’s not been any attempt to evolve the narrative threads that have been present since the first *X-men* film from 2000. It’s the same old story; a fight between Professor X’s peaceful integration and Magneto’s warlike assertion of mutant superiority, and after the fourth time it has lost its surprise and effect.
_Ed. Note: I know this is really late, but I’m on holiday!_
You’ve already [seen the trailer](https://awesomefriday.ca/2013/06/prisoners-trailer-hugh-jackman-goes-crazy/) for Prisoners so you already know the basic set up. Hugh Jackman and Maria Bello are best friends with Terrance Howard and Viola Davis On thanksgiving they share the evening together and the couples youngest children go outside to find a lost toy and never return. Paul Dano plays a simpleton named Alex who is the best suspect and is arrested by Jake Gyllenhaal but it quickly turns out that Alex doesn’t have the faculties to have committed such a crime and is released. Angry, desperate and searching for answers, Hugh Jackman kidnaps Paul Dano and proceeds to torture him for answers.
Turns out though that there is more going on. I’m going to talk in more detail after the jump and while I’m not going to directly spoil anything this _is_ a mystery story so talking about it will give you clues. If you want to skip the review and know what I think? Yes, go see it. It’s good. It’s not perfect but it’s well thought out and incredibly well acted and beautifully shot. Details after the jump.
Outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe the X-Men universe maintained by 20th Century Fox is tied for longest, and is probably the next best in terms of continuity, but over all the films have been incredibly hit or miss. We’ve had two truly great movies in _X-Men: First Class_ and _X2: X-Men United_, a good movie in _X-Men_ and two pretty terrible films in _X-Men 3: the Last Stand_ and _X-Men Origins: Wolverine_.
So how does the latest entry stack up? Pretty good actually. Or mostly, anyway.
The Oscars are later tonight and Simon and I will be live blogging them. Just for fun, I’m going to lock myself into a few predictions.
#### Sundry Categories
Without going into too much detail on these ones here are how I’d like to see a few of the categories with less fanfare to play out.
* “Skyfall” to win Best Original Score.
It’s the only memorable one of the nominees.
* “Skyfall” to win Best Original Song.
Best Bond Song in years and just a great song. Outside chance for _Everybody Needs a Best Friend_ from Ted, but doubtful.
* Roger Deakins to win Best Cinematography for “Skyfall”.
[There’s lots of reasons to love Roger Deakins](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Deakins#Filmography), but more to the point he’s never won the awards despite some brilliant work _and_ Skyfall is a gorgeous film.
* “Prometheus” for Best Visual Effects.
Prometheus is not a good film, but it’s a gorgeous film and the effects are seamless.
* Animated Movies
I haven’t seen all the nominees for best Animated Feature, so I have no idea who will win. I have hoever seen all the nominees for Best Animated Short and I really hope that ***Paperman*** wins.
And now, on to the big ones.
#### Best Adapted Screenplay
* “Argo” – Chris Terrio
* “Beasts of the Southern Wild” – Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin
* “Life of Pi” – David Magee
* ***”Lincoln” – Tony Kushner***
* “Silver Linings Playbook” – David O. Russell
I want to say Argo, but it will probably be ***Lincoln***. In the battle between American heroism and America’s most beloved president, I think it’ll go to the president.
#### Best Original Screenplay
* “Amour” – Michael Haneke
* ***”Django Unchained” – Quentin Tarantino***
* “Flight” – John Gatins
* “Moonrise Kingdom” – Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola
* “Zero Dark Thirty” – Mark Boal
***Quentin Tarantino*** has to win this one. Django is almost entirely overlooked in the nominations, but there’s no denying the screenplay is the best this year. Tarantino’s dialogue is amazing as always. You can question his directorial choices but you can’t question how he writes.
#### Actress in a Supporting Role
* Amy Adams – “The Master”
* Sally Field – “Lincoln”
* ***Anne Hathaway – “Les Miserables”***
* Helen Hunt – “The Sessions”
* Jackie Weaver – “Silver Linings Playbook”
Are you kidding me? ***Anne Hathaway***. Everyone here is great, I wish that Amy Adams will win because she is as amazing as everyone else in The Master, and also because I’d really like to see the Academy slightly embarrassed by having all the actors win while their movie nor director is nominated, but Anne Hathaway plays a hooker with a heart of gold, doing everything for her kid, with a debilitating disease, in an adaptation of a beloved stage musical.
Yeah, it’s Anne Hathaway’s year.
#### Actor in a Supporting Role
* Alan Arkin – “Argo”
* Robert De Niro – “Silver Linings Playbook”
* Philip Seymour Hoffman – “The Master”
* ***Tommy Lee Jones – “Lincoln”***
* Christoph Waltz – “Django Unchained”
No clear winner here. Everyone is amazing and everyone has won before. I don’t see Christoph Waltz winning since he did just a couple years back for a very similar role, I don’t see Robert De Niro winning because unlike Jennifer Lawrence (whose performance is elevated above the movie she is in) he’s good but not great.
Alan Arkin was great but also was how Alan Arkin always is.
So that leaves Tommy Lee Jones and Philip Seymour Hoffman. I’d love to see Philip Seymour Hoffman win because he and Joaquin Phoenix are both spectacular in The Master, but ***Tommy Lee Jones*** I think might win for Lincoln because Daniel Day-Lewis isn’t going to win his trophy.
#### Actress in a Leading Role
* Jessica Chastain – “Zero Dark Thirty”
* ***Jennifer Lawrence – “Silver Linings Playbook”***
* Emmanuelle Riva – “Amour”
* Quvenzhané Wallis – “Beasts of Southern Wild”
* Naomi Watts – “The Impossible”
Do we even have to talk about this? I’m pretty sure this is Jennifer Lawrence’s award to lose as of this moment. Silver Linings Playbook may not be a great film however Jennifer Lawrence is great in it. She’s already been robbed once (have you seen _winter’s Bone_? She’s amazing) too so that pretty much locks it down.
So here’s hoping that Jessica Chastain wins next year, because ***Jennifer Lawrence*** is going to win this year.
#### Actor in a Leading Role
* Bradley Cooper – “Silver Linings Playbook”
* Daniel Day-Lewis – “Lincoln”
* ***Hugh Jackman – “Les Miserables”***
* Joaquin Phoenix – “The Master”
* Denzel Washington – “Flight”
As with the Best Supporting Actor category there doesn’t seem to be a clear front runner here. Everyone did great. I was particularly surprised by Bradley Cooper who is getting better and better. However, I think it’s going to go to ***Hugh Jackman*** because say what you will about Les Mis, he acted the shit out of it.
It’s too bad too, because Joaquin Phoenix was amazing in The Master.
#### Best Director
* “Amour” – Michael Haneke
* “Beasts of the Southern Wild” – Benh Zeitlin
* “Life of Pi” – Ang Lee
* ***”Lincoln” – Steven Spielberg***
* “Silver Linings Playbook” – David O. Russell
***Steven Spielberg***. Honestly, of all the directors eligible to be nominated this year he’s the only one on this list that would also be on mine. Paul Thomas Anderson, Ben Affleck, Kathryn Bigelow, and Quentin Tarantino are all missing for the record.
#### Best Picture
* “Django Unchained”
* “Les Miserables”
* “Life of Pi”
* “Silver Linings Playbook”
* “Zero Dark Thirty”
* “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
Argo has already won almost every major award there is in this category, including the Golden Globe, Producers Guild, Directors Guild, and SAG awards. You know why? Because it’s a great film and it deserves to win.
It’s also the safest bet because unlike _Zero Dark Thirty_, which I think is a better movie, it’s a story about one man’s heroism and the Academy eats that up.
Outside chance for _Les Miserables_, but for all the fanfare at its release no one is talking about it anymore.
So, ***Argo*** it is.
Later tonight we’ll be live blogging the show so you can watch in real time to see how I did with my predictions then! In the mean time, do you guy have any predictions or movies you are pulling for to win?
The 19th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards were this past weekend. I know I’m a few days late but here’s a quick roundup of the winners for movies and some thoughts to go with them.
Note: I’m not going to talk about the TV awards, but the coles notes version is this: Hooray for Kevin Costner, Bryan Cranston and Alec Baldwin.
Winners shown in bold a the top of each list.
You can [read the full list of winners here](http://www.sagawards.org/awards/nominees-and-recipients/19th-annual-screen-actors-guild-awards “SAG Awards Winners List”).
### Screen Actors Guild 49th Annual Life Achievement Award
* ***Dick Van Dyke***
I grew up watching Dick Van Dyke movies my parents had recorded off the television so this makes me smile.
### Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
* ***Daniel Day-Lewis – _Lincoln_ as Abraham Lincoln***
* Bradley Cooper – _Silver Linings Playbook_ as Pat Solitano
* John Hawkes – _The Sessions_ as Mark O’Brien
* Hugh Jackman – _Les Misérables_ as Jean Valjean
* Denzel Washington – _Flight_ as Whip Whitaker
This isn’t a surprise to me in the slightest. Say what you will about _Lincoln_ but Daniel Day-Lewis was amazing playing the man. At this point I’d be surprised if he doesn’t win the Oscar.
It’s nice to see John Hawkes get the nod for _The Sessions_ as well.
### Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
* ***Jennifer Lawrence – _Silver Linings Playbook_ as Tiffany Maxwell***
* Jessica Chastain – _Zero Dark Thirty_ as Maya
* Marion Cotillard – _Rust and Bone_ as Stéphanie
* Helen Mirren – _Hitchcock_ as Alma Reville
* Naomi Watts – _The Impossible_ as Maria Bennett
At this point Jennifer Lawrence has won the Golden Globe _and_ the SAG award for playing Tiffany Maxwell. The Oscar is now hers to lose if it wasn’t already and I think that’s how it’s going to go. I’d love to see Jessica Chastain win because I preferred _Zero Dark Thirty_ to _Silver Linings Playbook_ and I think that Maya was a far more complex character to play, but Tiffany is exactly the kind of quirky, loveable, bird with a broken wing but still independent and strong, feel good, cliche character that people love.
That’s not to say Lawrence isn’t an amazing actress or that she wasn’t amazing in the film, because she was and this is one of those parts designed to win Oscars.
### Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
* ***Tommy Lee Jones – _Lincoln_ as Thaddeus Stevens***
* Alan Arkin – _Argo_ as Lester Siegel
* Javier Bardem – _Skyfall_ as Raoul Silva
* Robert De Niro – _Silver Linings Playbook_ as Pat Solitano Sr.
* Philip Seymour Hoffman – _The Master_ as Lancaster Dodd
Nice to see Tommy Lee Jones take home the trophy. Also cool to see Javier Bardem get the nod for his roll in _Skyfall_. He was brilliant as Silva and thats not the type of roll that usually gets recognized.
This is going to make the Oscar race in this category a little more interesting. Alan Arkin already took home the Golden Globe and everyone who’s nominated (swap out Javier Bardem for Christoph Waltz and its the same list) had already won to this one is anyone’s game.
### Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
* ***Anne Hathaway – _Les Misérables_ as Fantine***
* Sally Field – _Lincoln_ as Mary Todd Lincoln
* Helen Hunt – _The Sessions_ as Cheryl Cohen-Greene
* Nicole Kidman – _The Paperboy_ as Charlotte Bless
* Maggie Smith – _The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel_ as Muriel Donnelly
No surprises here. Anne Hathaway has already taken home all the awards for this role. If she doesn’t win all the awards that are left I will be incredibly surprised.
### Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
* ***Argo – Ben Affleck, Alan Arkin, Kerry Bishé, Kyle Chandler, Rory Cochrane, Bryan Cranston, Christopher Denham, Tate Donovan, Clea DuVall, Victor Garber, John Goodman, Scoot McNairy, and Chris Messina***
* _The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel_ – Judi Dench, Celia Imrie, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel, Ronald Pickup, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, and Penelope Wilton
* _Les Misérables_ – Isabelle Allen, Samantha Barks, Sacha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Daniel Huttlestone, Hugh Jackman, Eddie Redmayne, Amanda Seyfried, Aaron Tveit, Colm Wilkinson
* _Lincoln_ – Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Hal Holbrook, Tommy Lee Jones, James Spader, David Strathairn
* _Silver Linings Playbook_ – Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Anupam Kher, Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Tucker, Jacki Weaver
In a year where Lincoln, a timely political story about America’s most beloved president came out I didn’t see this happening but Argo has now won the Golden Globe and the SAG Award for best picture.
It’s well deserved. It’s a brilliantly crafted film from start to finish and I’m glad to see it getting all the recognition it deserves.
It’ll be interesting next month to see if it takes home the Oscar as well, since Ben Affleck isn’t nominated for best director. That might end up being this years big “wtf” moment.
Awards Season this year has been interesting so far. The films I thought would be a lock haven’t been winning and the ones I thought were entirely deserving but would get passed over have. The ladies categories are pretty much locked in for the Oscars at this point I assume, but the gentlemen’s categories as well as the best picture and director categories are up in the air as far as I can tell.
I like the SAG awards as well because you get films like Skyfall, which is a great film and completely overlooked by the Oscars and the Golden Globes, getting recognition from their peers. Make no mistake Skyfall was one of last years must-see movies but it’s no surprise that it’s only up for technical Oscars.
Make all the jokes you want about millionaires giving each other statues, but I enjoy watching great films win accolades (and Simon and I will be live blogging The Oscars on 24th Feb. while they air).
What are your guys thoughts on the matter? Do you agree with the wins here? How do you think the Oscars are going to play out?
I was meant to have seen a new movie this week but I’m on vacation and things got out of hand so I did not (yet).
Because I’m on vacation though I have seen a boat load of movies and thought I’d briefly talk about some of the ones I have seen, specifically the three I watched which are nominated for best picture at this years Oscars.
### Les Misérables
I can see why Les Misérables is nominated for all the awards. It’s a big budget production of one of the most beloved musicals of all time. Hugh Jackman is great and Anne Hathaway is amazing as Fantine and they are both deserving of their actings nominations. The entire cast is pretty great in point of fact, with the debatable exception of Russell Crowe who while he isn’t bad does appear a bit uncomfortable throughout. Maybe that makes sense for Javert but it didn’t sit right with me.
Where the film fails for me is the directing. Sure, the film looks pretty amazing and to be honest I really like the live singing aspect –if you hadn’t heard already, everyone sang their parts live on set rather than lip syncing pre-recorded performances– as it means they had more leeway to actually act out their performances rather than match what they did before. However, a great deal of the film is shot in closeup on the performers face.
I dreamed a dream, in particular, a song that would do well by some staging/movement, is filmed with Anne Hathaway just sitting there belting it out with the camera pointed at her face. Valjean’s Soliloquy is a little better in that he gets the move around but the camera is locked on his face and he’s looking _right at the camera_ the entire time so you don’t really get to see any of what’s going on other than his lips moving.
I think I get what director Tom Hooper was going for, trying to make it intimate, however in the end it’s weird to think that a musical with such grandiose songs is filmed in such a small way and to be honest I don’t think it really works.
**Conclusion:** See it. It’s worth seeing just for the singing. Oscar is Anne Hathaway’s to lose at this point, and while I respect it’s nomination for best picture I don’t think it should win. Tom Hooper isn’t nominated for best director and I am fine with that.
I like stories about heroism, but what I love about Argo is that it’s such a quiet story about heroism. No epic gun fights, no explosions, no car chases, just the constant threat of being caught.
Ben Affleck directs and stars as Tony Mendez, the man who orchestrated the rescue of 6 diplomatic officers in hiding in 1979 revolutionary Iran. The idea is to get them out by claiming they are a film crew scouting exotic locations for a Star Wars rip off called Argo.
The story is brilliant from start to finish. It mixes just the right amount of humour into the dramatic script, mostly supplied by Alan Arkin as the hollywood producer recruited to help sell the idea of the fake movie to the public.
Arkin is gold here, it’s the type of role he excels at playing. He’s nominated for an Oscar and it’s well deserved.
Affleck himself is good too, playing Mendez very reservedly, reflecting a man under stress from being responsible for these peoples lives but also going through a separation and trying to maintain a relationship with his kid.
I happen to think that Affleck is a great director as well. Yes, he’s made a lot of better acting choices lately but this is his their feature film and the third time he’s hit it out of the park.
I love spy films, but in particular a spy film that’s executed in such a way to be entirely believable with real stress and peril for the characters (even when you know how it ends) is a difficult thing to pull off.
**Conclusion:** Must see. Irksome that Affleck, who already won a Golden Globe for directing this, isn’t nominated for the Oscar. Make no mistake, this is a much better film that the one I’m about to talk about.
### Silver Linings Playbook
Silver Linings Playbook is a good movie. Maybe even a great one, and i can see why so many people are connecting with it. It’s a fantasy story, that’s why.
This is a movie that for 2 whole acts shows us characters with real problems and then in the third act everyone lives happily ever after and everything s fine and all the problems seem to be gone.
Jennifer Lawrence is an amazing actress and I’m going to say right now that she deserves the Golden Golden Globe she won and the Oscar I think she will win, but this is a role tailor made to win Oscars, the slightly crazy receiving sex addict “bird with a broken wing who is just quirky enough to counteract the male leads crazy” character. Hell, it might be more tailor made than the “prostitute with a heart of gold struggling to support her child in a situation that grows ever more dire with each frame that passes” that Anne Hathaway gets to play as Fantine.
Well, maybe not, but she’s still amazing and Bradley Cooper and Robert de Niro both stand out as well. Make no mistake, they all acted the shit out of this.
It’s just that the third act is both entirely predictable and doesn’t really jive with the rest of the movie for me. It devolves from something interesting into a series of movie cliches. There is literally a point in this movie where I could have turned it off because I knew everything else that was going to happen.
I can see why people connect with this movie, but I don’t see why it’s nominated for best picture of the year.
**Conclusion:** Definitely see it. Worth it for Jennifer Lawrence alone even if her character is unbelievable. Just maybe don’t expect it to be as good as everyone told you it is.
### Wrapping up
I’ve seen almost all the best picture nominees now and am starting to have a better idea what I think should win. More on that closer to the date in question. In the mean time, what did you guys think of these three films? Are they worthy of the nomination? Did any performances stand out? Comment below!
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