The Oscars: who, what, and why

It’s every movie blog’s right of way to write about the Oscars, so a week later and barely still topical, here are our thoughts on the industry circle jerk we call the Academy Awards. (Don’t worry we’ve got some interesting posts coming in the next few weeks, including American Beauty; the secret stoner classic, and a look at possibly the best TV Show of the last ten years, Mad Men.)

Best Actor

Who Won: Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenantleonardo-dicaprio-revenant-trailer-buried-alive-092915

Who should have Won: Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant. Is it his best performance? No. Does it feel a bit more like a career win than anything else? Yes. But in not a very strong year for lead acting performances, his raw and bleeding turn in The Revenant was definitely deserving and definitely won’t be remembered with the same hate other career wins have, like Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman.

ayouth4Who should have been nominated: Surprisingly difficult to pick another great lead performance from 2015, but I’m going with Michael Caine from Youth. Though a very natural role for the old actor to slip into, it was still towering above anything he’s done in the last few years, and maybe even his whole career. Caine brings a real edge and melancholy to the aged composer, and though a very specific character in his own right, manages to cut to the heart of all people old and young, to make us treasure the life we still have to lead, and the life we already have.

Best Actress

Who Won: Brie Lawson for RoomPicture1

Who should have Won: Brie Lawson for Room. No I don’t agree with every choice, but this was another good one. Along with the snubbed Jacob Tremblay, the pair brought the needed heart to what could have been (and in some ways was) an over wrought melodrama with a very topical and timely story. But the performances are what boosted this to an effective and moving drama, and the whole film is worth it for that escape scene alone.

maxresdefaultWho should have been nominated: Bel Powley for The Diary of a Teenage Girl. No actress last year gave more of an emotional, funny, heart-breaking, fun, sincere, and just naked performance than Bel Powley in The Diary of a Teenage Girl. She was the embodiment of the teenager, and her courage to commit to the sexually explicit role added more emotional weight than all of the actual nominations combined.

Best supporting Actor

Who Won: Mark Rylance for Bridge of Spies Bridgeof-Spies-777x437

19-creed-stallone.w600.h600Who should have Won: Sylvester Stallone for Creed. Not that I think his performance is better than Rylance’s (but it is as good), I just think the sentiment of Sylvester Stallone winning an Oscar for Rocky would have been nicer, as we all doubt he’s got another one in him (but who knows). His performance is also genuinely very strong and thoughtful, and I think the main reason he didn’t win in the end was because Creed got too sentimental about itself near the end, and the cancer subplot was a bit much.

Who should have been nominated: Jason Segel for The End of The Tour. I already went into jason-segel-the-end-of-the-tour-trailerdetail about his performance in our year end awards post here. But to say again, Segel shocked everyone with his subtle and quiet turn as the famed writer David Foster Wallace, his performance doing the surprising thing of letting us see his humanity, instead of understanding his genius (like most biopic type films try to do). With the right push I could have seen him getting a nomination, the Academy tend to love when comic actors go serious.

 

Best supporting Actress

Who Won: Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl

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leeWho should have Won: Ahhhhh let’s say, Jennifer Jason Leigh for The Hateful Eight. Don’t really have much for any of the nominations, but Leigh’s excellent turn as the vulgar and funny Daisy Domergue was one of the films highlights, having physicality you don’t see enough in female roles, and it was one of the few nominations that didn’t feel Oscar-baity.

this-is-what-a-femiWho should have been nominated: Charlize Theron for Mad Max: Fury Road. Talking of physicality, Charlize Theron has in in buckets as Imperator Furiosa, and gave one of the most intense and physically (and emotionally) raw performances of last year. The fact Rachel McAdams’ got a nomination for her okay work in Spotlight and Charlize Theron didn’t is just an insult, especially with how Oscar friendly the film was treated. Would an acting nomination really just too much for you Academy? Did all the sand and dust confuse you and you thought she was black!

Best Director

Who Won: Alejandro G. Iñárritu for The Revenant.

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Who should have Won: George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road. Like with the supporting georgemiller2-xlargeactors, this is less a who’s better choice, and more just the context of the win. Both directors worked in insane conditions to produce their fine films and I think the directing shown in both is as good as each other, from the harrowingly naturally lit landscapes of The Revenant, to the perfect mess of explosions and carnage of Fury Road. But with Alejandro G. Iñárritu having already won last year for Birdman I think it would have been better for the Academy to show love for the talent in a genre and style that rarely gets it.

Who should have been nominated: Paolo Sorrentino for Youth. A very underrated film that should have been much more award friendly than it was. Paolo Sorrentino’s funny and heart-warming if also heart shattering meditation on aging and fame was one of the most breath taking films of 2015, and was directed with more abstract beauty than any other, and felt more like art than a film in many ways. Just look at this opening shot!

Would of given this to Pete Docter for Inside Out, but I guess I went with style over practicality.

Best screenplay  

Who Won: Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer for Spotlight.

Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer

d92df7b77dc6506907a694978860da35Who should of Won: Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, and Josh Cooley for Inside Out. Inside Out is one of the most imaginative, smart, and emotionally resonating films I’ve ever seen, it already stands proud amongst Pixar’s classics and was considered by many to be the pinnacle of 2015’s films. And the idea on paper could have gone soooooo wrong, ‘what if feelings had feelings’, it sounds more like a joke Pixar film than a real one. But with an intelligent script, vivid and mature takes on the ideas, and the most poignant message given to us last year, Inside Out was definitely it’s best original script…that I saw.11202259_ori

Who should have been nominated: 99 Homes, an almost mathematically well written and very emotionally intense film about the housing crises. I’m a fan of stories about the good man’s fall to the dark side (Star Wars prequels withstanding) and this film does this masterfully, shaping a very sympathetic lead with the single father Andrew Garfield and a very compelling antagonist with Michael Shannon’s corrupt estate tycoon, who should really have had his own supporting nod too. With this, on top of The Big Short and Margin Call, you really get a complete picture of the different effects of the 2010 housing crises.   

 

Best Adapted screenplay   the-big-short-movie-poster

Who Won: Adam McKay and Charles Randolph for The Big Short.

Who should have Won: Adam McKay and Charles Randolph for The Big Short. I agree with the Academy again for this one; Adam McKay and Charles Randolph took a highly complex issue and made it not just understandable and relatable to a mass audience, but funny, dramatic, and engaging too. Some people complain that the film fails because even after it they were even more confused by the credit crunch than before, with its use of celebrities using big words, but do you know what I call those people; Americans.

14702-10469-14473-10034-Michael-Fassbender-Steve-Jobs-Movie-2015-l-lWho should have been nominated: Aaron Sorkin for Steve Jobs. Arron Sorkin writing a feature screenplay is like Meryl Streep acting in anything, it should almost automatically get nominated, and Steve Jobs is no exception. His second film about a computer billionaire, Sorkin’s signature dialogue crackles in this very showy and masterfully executed play set in three real time acts, that manage to explore the humanity of Steve Jobs and his co-workers without leaving the confides of the backstage.

Best Score

Who Won: Ennio Morricone for The Hateful Eight.

Who should have Won: Ennio Morricone for The Hateful Eight. Not really in love with any of the nominated scores, so I thought I’d go with the consensus, and it’s nice for the Grandfather of western soundtracks to finally bag the award, also it is a damn fine score.

Who should have been nominated: Michael Giacchino for Inside Out, Bundle of Joy. This is legitimately my favourite score of 2015. It’s charming, catchy, and effective. It perfectly captures the bright tone of the film while still resonating for the emotional moments; the ice skating memory scene being a real favourite of mine. It’s magic. What can I say; Inside Out is already a classic, and what classic isn’t complete without its iconic music.

Best Picture

Who Won: Spotlight.index

Who should have Won: Spotlight. Mad Max was close, but out of the nominations I really think Spotlight was the most worthy of them all. Was it the most artsy? No. The most experimental? No. It was a good old fashioned journalism film about a very hard issue, and it taught us all something we should learn, about the power of understating and letting the story and facts speak for themselves. Some people call it boring because it intentionally holds back on the easy drama, and focuses on it like a mystery instead of lampooning Priest and the catholic Church, as it’s smart enough to let the facts do that for it, and not to ‘sex’ it up in anyway like a lot of investigation films do; because that would make it shlock.

Who should have been nominated (and fucking won): Inside Out. I’ve already spoken in insideout8-xlargegreat detail about why this is the best film of 2015, and I was shocked after all it’s critical praising that it wasn’t at least nominated for best picture, because that’s what it was. Hell, back when I first saw it I would have put flesh on it being the first animated film to win best picture. But it’s shameful absence just goes to show that, along with race, sexism, homophobia and everything else, the Academy still have a long way to go before they really look at all films and filmmakers equally.

And that’s that for this year’s Oscars! I know I didn’t even cover half of the awards but I covered the ones I care about, and I know who’s ever reading this doesn’t want to hear me prattle on for pages about what I think should win an arbitrary award that means about as much to the quality of a film as a #1 Dad coffee mug.

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Films Worth Seeing from 2015: The funny ones

Instead of a normal top ten list of the best films of 2015, here’s a list of film worth a watch from 2015, separated by genre and in now real order.

The Comedies (or the next best thing)

People, Places, Thingspeople-places-things-alternative-poster-2.jpg

A little seen but a very affectionate film that follows a witty but depressed cartoonist trying to be a single father and bounce back from his divorce. Now it doesn’t sound that different from your atypical rom-com shlock, but with a sensitive script that knows how to pluck your heartstrings to make you laugh and feel, and a surprisingly nuanced turn from Jemaine Clement (of Flight of the concords’ fame) and his chemistry with everyone he shares the screen with, People, Places, Things, becomes the movie equivalent of an awkward bear hug and a nice cup of coffee.

 

Mistress America

mistress_america_poster_midnight_marauder_2The second film this year from Indie director superstar Noah Baumbach, after his critically acclaimed While We’re Young, which was…okay. But he makes up for it here in this sharply funny and very earnest film about adult life, facing your limitations, and the fact that the people who act the happiest rarely really are. All as seen from the POV of an introverted university student as she gets to know her new manic pixy hipster step-sister. Again a bit of a plot-less film, but the shear energy Greta Gerwig brings to her role, and the zany dynamic she and every other character has, takes this film and its characters to a whole other level, and then turns the comedy around to look at the tragedy of it all. It’s possibly his best work since The Squid and the Wale.

The Big Short

the-big-short-movie-posters-001.jpg~original.jpgFrom the director of Anchorman of all people comes the other awesome investigative film of the year, and don’t believe the trailers, that is what this film is. Selling itself as some form of Ocean’s 11 but about the 2008 Credit Crunch, what this film actually turned out to be is a very in-depth and detailed look into all the fraud and corruption the Bank’s did to cause the financial crash. And it’s told from three different parties separately looking into it, each group led by an outstanding Christian Bale, Steve Carell, and Brad Pitt. But the trailer didn’t completely lie; this is a comedy (if a thrilling emotional one), with most of the big laughs coming from an enjoyably

Picture1.pngsleazy Ryan Gosling who narrates the film while also having his own place in it, trying to explain to us the inner workings of stock broking, and introduces some ridiculous celebrity cameos. Surprisingly well directed, and masterfully written and acted, it has a few bums and clunks in its tone, but is much more than the fast and funny caper the trailer tried to sell it as.

The Voices

This being Troubled Production’s other producer’s favorite film of 2015, I’d8345_poster_iphone of felt bad if I didn’t mention it somewhere, but that’s far from the biggest reason it’s here. The Voices is a delightfully quirky black comedy from the director of Persepolis (because of course), led by a possibly career best Ryan Reynolds as a mentally ill serial killer who talks to his dog and cat. If that doesn’t sell it to you, nothing will. This film revels, revels, in its warped quirky darkness, and manages to be simultaneously, outlandishly funny, disturbingly dramatic, and just plain charmingly odd because of it. It’s a film with a bonafide destiny to be a cult classic, for the people who like their comedy, dark, violent, and silly. And with this, thevoices0002

Mississippi Grind, and a hopefully awesome Deadpool, let’s hope the underrated Mr Reynolds is back on the rise.

 

 

The Diary of a Teenage Girl

8c9eb37b259f536f6381af56983f06baThe oddest but most accurate description I’ve heard for this 70s set coming of age dramedy, is that it’s the spiritual sequel to Inside Out…now they don’t mean that the titular teenage girl has a bunch of voices in her head, but is instead referring to that it follows the growing development of a young soon to be woman. As Inside Out ends with Riley on the cusp of teenhood, The diary of a teenage Girl picks up a few years later with a fifteen year old girl’s sexual awakening (forgive me for using the word sexual in the same sentence as Inside Out), and that’s what the film is about in a nutshell; sex. It’s about the first time and the times after that, it’s about becoming comfortable with yours and other’s bodies; Picture2it’s about experimenting and working out what gets you off, and then finding the limits. And I have SUCH respect for this film, because it’s about a fifteen year old’s sexual awakening and it shows it. There are no cutaways or clever angles, you see all of her, and that adds such authenticity to her and her story; because the fact that the film doesn’t shy away from you, means you don’t shy away from it; through every sweet, funny, and emotional moment, on this journey to the end of innocence and the start of everything else.

Man Up

This is that special romantic comedy large_large_y7C1EQ9zxJ3mlaQeRztw3NVw41Pthat’s the perfect mix of cynicism and cheese ball romance, of those little moments and grand gestures. And is the best non-blockbuster/ Edgar Wright film Simon Pegg has ever done. Following a 30 something woman in a romantic rut, she ends up stealing someone else’s blind date, and going on an amazing date with them instead. Now with that set-up this could have easily turned into a basic liar revealed plot, but I’m happy to say it doesn’t (if it did would it be here), and instead goes off in much sweeter and funnier directions. It’s definitely one of the funniest films of the year, and the perfect date movie for people who hate date movies.

Sleeping with Other people

236272This is just funny. Yeah it’s sweet, raunchy, and romantically mature too at times, but mostly it’s just funny. Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie make a strong double act, playing two sex addicts who start a platonic friendship to try and help each-other deal with their relationship issues, and of course fall in love along the way. So it does get a bit too cliché at the end, but the journey there is so fun and so tastefully raunchy it’s still definitely worth a watch.

 

 

 

Me, and Earl, and the Dying girl

Along with The Big Short, and The me-and-earl-and-the-dying-girl-poster-olivia-cookeDiary of A Teenage Girl, this is the other film pushing the boundary for ‘comedy’ this year. Not because it isn’t funny, it’s filled to the brim with funny teen angst and witticisms, but it’s also about a girl dying of cancer, and this isn’t no Fault in Our Stars shit (I say actually liking that film), and stays far away from schmaltz, opting for a much bleaker and deadpan look at teen life and death, and has no quorum ramping up the seriousness and heart wrench when the time comes. Now it maybe too self-indulgent and referential for some people and it definitely reeks of 90’s teen dramedy at times, but past that I found a very earnest and true look at teen life on the outside and at dealing with death, that really captures the teenage voice.

Top 5

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Oh and Top 5 was pretty funny. Forgot about that one till I just came to post this.