Saturday, February 6, 2016

Oscar Quickies 2016



Bridge of Spies (2015) ✭✭✭½

5 Nominations

  • Best Motion Picture of the Year
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role: Mark Rylance
  • Best Writing, Original Screenplay
  • Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score
  • Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

This film chronicles the complex negotiations among the United States, East Germany and the Soviet Union leading to the release of spy plane pilot Gary Powers in 1962. Tom Hanks plays James Donovan, a small time lawyer who went on to become one of America's top diplomatic trouble-shooters. The film has some wonderful CGI of cold, snowy, bombed out Berlin and a number of excellent performances, especially Mark Rylance who basically steals the picture with bravura minimalism. The movie is entertaining, but really it's the kind of thing the BBC does better before breakfast.




Carol (2015) ✭✭✭½

6 Nominations

  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role - Cate Blanchett
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role - Rooney Mara
  • Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay
  • Best Achievement in Cinematography
  • Best Achievement in Costume Design
  • Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score


This moody, atmospheric ballad is all about a slowly evolving lesbian romance in the ultra-conformist 1950s. The acting, production and photography are all first rate and worth the watch, yet there's something about the film that feels distant and unsatisfying.




The Big Short (2015) ✭✭✭✭

5 Nominations

  • Best Motion Picture of the Year
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role - Christian Bale
  • Best Achievement in Directing - Adam McKay
  • Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay
  • Best Achievement in Film Editing


Adam McKay and writer Charles Randolph deserve credit for taking a big, complex issue like the housing collapse and condensing it into understandable and entertaining tranches, but ultimately the film feels too dumbed down for its own good. The breezy tone is wrong for a tragedy that ruined the lives of so many innocent people. I wish the film had focused on those victims instead of the crooks and greedy assholes who made money off it and got away scot-free. As a piece of filmmaking it gets high marks; as a presentation of history it sucks.






Star Wars Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015) ✭✭✭✭½

5 Nominations

  • Best Achievement in Film Editing
  • Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score
  • Best Achievement in Sound Mixing
  • Best Achievement in Sound Editing
  • Best Achievement in Visual Effects


You'll notice there is no nomination for best picture, even though this was the best American film of 2015 by far. The Force Awakens is a brilliant reboot, paying beautiful homage the story's origins while taking it in exciting new directions. I'm not that big a fan of director J.J. Abrams' Star Trek movies. but he knocks this one out of the galactic park. Best Star Wars film since The Empire Strikes Back (1980).






Oscar Quickies 2016



Bridge of Spies (2015) ✭✭✭½

5 Nominations

  • Best Motion Picture of the Year
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role: Mark Rylance
  • Best Writing, Original Screenplay
  • Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score
  • Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

This film chronicles the complex negotiations among the United States, East Germany and the Soviet Union leading to the release of spy plane pilot Gary Powers in 1962. Tom Hanks plays James Donovan, a small time lawyer who went on to become one of America's top diplomatic trouble-shooters. The film has some wonderful CGI of cold, snowy, bombed out Berlin and a number of excellent performances, especially Mark Rylance who basically steals the picture with bravura minimalism. The movie is entertaining, but really it's the kind of thing the BBC does better before breakfast.




Carol (2015) ✭✭✭½

6 Nominations

  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role - Cate Blanchett
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role - Rooney Mara
  • Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay
  • Best Achievement in Cinematography
  • Best Achievement in Costume Design
  • Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score


This moody, atmospheric ballad is all about a slowly evolving lesbian romance in the ultra-conformist 1950s. The acting, production and photography are all first rate and worth the watch, yet there's something about the film that feels distant and unsatisfying.




The Big Short (2015) ✭✭✭✭

5 Nominations

  • Best Motion Picture of the Year
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role - Christian Bale
  • Best Achievement in Directing - Adam McKay
  • Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay
  • Best Achievement in Film Editing


Adam McKay and writer Charles Randolph deserve credit for taking a big, complex issue like the housing collapse and condensing it into understandable and entertaining tranches, but ultimately the film feels too dumbed down for its own good. The breezy tone is wrong for a tragedy that ruined the lives of so many innocent people. I wish the film had focused on those victims instead of the crooks and greedy assholes who made money off it and got away scot-free. As a piece of filmmaking it gets high marks; as a presentation of history it sucks.






Star Wars Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015) ✭✭✭✭½

5 Nominations

  • Best Achievement in Film Editing
  • Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score
  • Best Achievement in Sound Mixing
  • Best Achievement in Sound Editing
  • Best Achievement in Visual Effects


You'll notice there is no nomination for best picture, even though this was the best American film of 2015 by far. The Force Awakens is a brilliant reboot, paying beautiful homage the story's origins while taking it in exciting new directions. I'm not that big a fan of director J.J. Abrams' Star Trek movies. but he knocks this one out of the galactic park. Best Star Wars film since The Empire Strikes Back (1980).






10 Years of The Savages

The Savages struck a vibrant chord with me when it was first released 10 years ago. It’s all about a pair of 40-ish siblings...