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Saturday, January 27, 2018

Oscar Movie Review: Dunkirk

Written & Directed By: Christoper Nolan
Starring: Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy, & Kenneth Branagh
STARS: 3.5 out of 4

SHOULD I WATCH IT: Rent it immediately and watch it on the biggest screen with the best speakers you can find.

Brief Description: Dunkirk begins with a group of young soldiers scavenging their way through an abandoned village next to the shore of Dunkirk, France during WWII. Flyers drop upon stating that the enemy has them surrounded. The young men suddenly come under attack leading two of them to the shore of the shore of the beach where they encounter an entire British battalion as they attempt to escape from Hell.

Dunkirk follows three main story lines as the United Kingdom tries to rescue these men and get them off of this beach. The first story line follows Tommy (Fionn Whitehead) and George (Barry Keoghan), two of the soldiers we met in the first scene, as they meet up with Alex (Harry Styles- who's surprisingly excellent in the film and who's fame works to the film's advantage to help distinguish between the random white kids we're following) as they spend a week trying to get off of the beach. Next, we follow Mr. Dawson (Rylance) and a group of rag tag civilians who spend the day boating across the English Channel in a last ditch effort to save the stranded, beached soldiers. The final storyline follows Farrier (Hardy) and Collins (Jack Lowden), two English fighter pilots spending an hour in the air to assist in the rescue mission any way they can.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Oscarmetrics: Lady Bird Is Now The Best Picture Favorite

Throughout this year's Award Season, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri became the favorite to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. It was announced so by Vulture! It cleaned up at the Golden Globes and the SAG awards, earned a butt load of BAFTA nominations, and the film's director Martin McDonagh earned a DGA (Director's Guild of America) nomination. The film was on a fast track to sweep at the Academy Awards come March. But then the Academy Award nominations were announced and a funny thing happened, the film lost its front runner status. It may not seem like it to the layman. Three Billboards earned a bunch of nominations like Best Picture, Best Actress, two Best Supporting Actors nods, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Editing. However, the one key nomination Three Billboards failed to earn was Best Director; Martin McDonagh was not nominated for Best Director.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Oscar Movie Review: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Written and Directed By: Martin McDonagh
Starring: Francis McDormand, Sam Rockwell, & Woody Harrelson
STARS: 2.5 out of 4

SHOULD I WATCH IT: Only if you're an Oscars completionist. Otherwise, wait to rent it for the performances.

Brief Description: Mildred (Francis McDormand) is driving along a rural road outside her house when she sees three abandoned billboards. She spends the last of her money to take out ad space on the billboards so that they read "Raped While Dying", "And Still No Arrests",  and "How Come, Chief Willoughby?'. As Mildred's teenage daughter was raped and murdered a few months back without any arrests or leads to show for it, Mildred creates these billboards to cause a stir in her sleepy little town and to get her daughter's case back into the public eye so that Chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) can re-open the case and, hopefully, solve the mystery for this grieving mother.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Oscar Movie Review: Get Out

Get Out
Written and Directed By: Jordan Peele
Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, & Bradley Whitford
STARS: 3.5 out of 4

SHOULD I WATCH IT: 1000%. It's currently streaming on HBO.

Brief Description: I've seen Get Out three times and it gets more brilliant upon each new viewing. Ostensibly, the film is about Chris (Kaluuya) meeting the parents of his girlfriend Rose (Williams) for the weekend in upstate New York. However, that's just a jumping off point for the twists and turns that occur for the oddest weekend of Chris' life. You think Get Out is a standard film about a Black man meeting the parents of his White girlfriend, and then something strange will happen. Chris steps outside in the dead of night for a cigarette and finds the black gardener running straight for him, only to turn at the last moment and you realize he's just running laps in the backyard. The black maid doesn't seem quite right either. There's something a little off about her. In fact, everything about the weekend just seems a little off. The plot will eventually come together in the Third Act (and upon multiple viewings; it's definitely worth a re-watch), but you won't know what the hell is happening in the most glorious way possible until then.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

How The Academy Awards Passed Christopher Nolan By

In 2008, five films were nominated for Best Picture. Those films were: Front/Nixon, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Milk, The Reader, and the winner Slumdog Millionaire. 2008 also saw the rise of one of the greatest films of all time. The film has a 9.0 on and is ranked the #4 film of all time by the site, it has a 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, and, at the time, was the 2nd highest grossing domestic film ever. The film was both a cinematic achievement shaping the way we not only viewed superhero films, but films in general, and a commercial smash. It was nominated at the Academy Awards for Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Art Direction, Best Make Up, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Visual Effects and it won the Oscar for Best Sound Editing and Heath Ledger won for Best Supporting Actor.

That film is obviously The Dark Knight. Conspicuously, the three major Academy Award nominations the film did not receive was Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director, and most notably Best Picture. In fact, The Dark Knight's snub in the Best Picture category famously helped paved the way for the Best Picture expansion we see today where up to 10 films can earn a nomination. Since the expansion, we've seen genre and action films like Avatar and Mad Max: Fury Road earn Best Picture nominations (as well as nominations for their directors). We have also seen the rise of genre and actions shows in television awards as well with Game of Thrones sweeping the Emmys in recent years.

Monday, December 5, 2016

The 10 Best Television Episodes of 2016

10) "Shut Up and Dance" Black Mirror (Netflix)
Season 3 / Episode 3
Premiere Date: October 21, 2016
Starring: Alex Lawther & Jerome Flynn
Directed By: James Watkins

Brief Description: "Shut Up and Dance" mainly follows a young man named Kenny (Lawther) who is being blackmailed by an anonymous hacker to do horrendous things after getting caught masturbating. Along his journey he meets up with Hector (Flynn), and the two are asked to do one horrific act after another.

"Shut Up and Dance" may not be the best Black Mirror episode that premiered in 2016, but it's certainly the one that elicited the biggest emotional reaction from me. That reaction was mostly horror and anger, but at least it made me feel something. A lot of what Charlie Brooker and company did this season was to show the downsides of technology, whether it was how horrible it is to get your self-worth from online ratings or how terrible technology can be in the hands of the military amidst mass hysteria, but that's all most of the episodes did. We all know technology and the device you're reading this blog post on is bad for us, but so what? That's why the best Black Mirror episodes bring a human element and a very specific story (which in turn creates a broad audience) to the downsides of technology, and "Shut Up and Dance" did that and then some. This episode was Black Mirror at its bleakest, and I loved it.

9) "Master Slave" Mr. Robot (USA)
Season 2 / Episode 6
Premiere Date: August 10, 2016
Starring: Rami Malek & Christian Slater
Directed By: Sam Esmail

Brief Description: My personal  favorite moment of Mr. Robot was in the second half of the premiere when Scott Knowles takes a suitcase full of money and then lights it on fire while "Take Me Home" by Phil Collins plays, but this is a list of the best episodes, not the best moments (sort of). Therefore, I had to go with the best and weirdest episode of the series- the one were Elliot is stuck in a 90's sitcom with Alf. Mr. Robot has always been a show that's clearly, and for the better, different than any show on television. Creator, writer, director, producer Sam Esmail proved that once again with "Master Slave" where he used his main character's mental illness in order to tell the most creative stories possible.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Robert Zemeckis Proves He Can Direct With Allied

I didn't know what to expect before I saw Allied. I didn't really know much about the film except that it looked like a more serious version of Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Brad Pitt plays a spy who is ordered to kill his wife who he also believes is a spy. We were even treated to the same media tabloid story surrounding Brad Pitt's person life with Marion Cotillard swapped out for Angelina Jolie (albeit the story is not true in the present instance). So when the film ended, I was shocked to see the name "Robert Zemeckis" emboldened in huge white letters across the screen. Not only is Allied not your typical Zemeckis film, but it's actually very good.

Now obviously the title of this blog post is excessive and a tad click bait-y, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Allied is a Robert Zemeckis joint. It's almost like finding out that The Social Network was directed by David Fincher. Both films are very good and directed by someone who clearly knows their stuff, but don't contain the typical tropes and visual stylings of the director. And very obviously Robert Zemeckis can direct. Not only is he responsible for the Back to the Future trilogy and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but he directed one of the greatest films of all time: Forrest Gump.