Views on pop culture through my eyes

Posts tagged ‘oscars’

Spring Reviews Part 2

Welcome back to the blog. It’s time again for my reviews of different entertainment options. Part 1 concentrated on music. Part 2 includes movies, DVDs and TV shows. What have I been watching recently? Read on.

Movies

Hidden Figures
This is the untold story of the women who were behind the NASA astronauts launch into space. It follows 3 African American women who were human computers. They were good at math, and were instrumental in the success of the space program. It is a very inspiring story. Go see it. Grade: A

Elle
Isabelle Huppert plays the title character. She won a Golden Globe for it (plus got nominated for an Oscar). She is good, but the movie itself is not that great. A schlocky tale of a woman who is raped by someone she knows, and acts almost as if nothing happened. Plus trying to figure out who raped her when she isn’t dealing with her job, her family, her ex and current lover. In French, with subtitles. Grade: C+

xXx: The Return of Xander Cage
Vin Diesel returns as the title character in this action sequel. Xander is a secret agent, who favors extreme sports and unconventional methods of working. The movie has plenty of action: car chases, shoot outs, brawls, even motorcycles on the water. Not much difference between this and the Fast and Furious franchise at this point. So you get a multicultural cast, exotic locales, and sex appeal. I enjoyed it for what it was. A good popcorn movie. Grade: B-

Loving
“Loving” is the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving, who challenged the laws against interracial marriage in VA. Interesting and moving story with good performances. Grade: A-

Fences
Denzel Washington and Viola Davis star in this film adaptation of the August Wilson play. It concerns a working class garbage man who is married with children. He is not an easy man to love or get along with. He treats those around him at arm’s length. The performances are great, even if at times it feels like a filmed play (which it is). Grade: A-

Hacksaw Ridge
Mel Gibson directs and Andrew Garfield stars in this true-life tale of Desmond Doss. He is a conscientious objector during WWII, and serves as a medic during the battle at Hacksaw Ridge. He wants to serve, but will not carry a gun. The first half has Desmond in training and falling in love, the second part is on the battlefield where he saved 75 men. The movie is nominated for best actor, director and picture. It’s an old-fashioned war movie, that reminds us that hero’s come in all types of shapes and sizes. Grade: B+

Jackie
Natalie Portman stars as first lady Jackie Kennedy in this biopic. It follows Jackie during the week after her husband is assassinated. How do you compose yourself after experiencing something so tragic and so public? How do you move forward? I am surprised that this did not get a Best Picture nomination. Her performance may earn her the Best Actress award. Go see it. Grade: A

DVDs

The Purge: Election Year
The third movie in the “Purge” series. It fairs better than the second one, but it is still not as good as the first one. It concerns protecting a presidential candidate who wants to get rid of the annual Purge (the night where all crime including murder is legal). Grade: C+

The Lobster
Colin Farrell stars in this very strange, and at times, disturbing movie. In the not so distant future, everyone must be mated. If you are without a mate, you are turned into an animal. The title comes from the animal that Farrell’s character picks to turn into. At first, he is in some sort of government facility. Then he escapes and ends up in the woods. The first part of the movie I liked, the second half just got very weird and violent. Grade: C

Captain Fantastic
Viggo Mortensen (in his Oscar-nominated performance) stars as a father who is raising his brood of 6 kids off the grid in the Pacific Northwest. The family has to go out into the real world after a family tragedy. This movie raises a number of questions: what constitutes family? What is the best way to raise your kids? There are a few comedic moments in this movie. It becomes a bit of a road trip/fish out of water tale as the family leaves the forest for the city. I enjoyed it. Grade: A-

Ghostbusters
Melissa McCarthy and Kristin Wiig headline the cast of this all-female reboot. The cast is game, too bad they spent more on special effects than they did on jokes. The script and the director definitely let the ladies down. Includes guest appearances from the original stars too. Grade: C

Mechanic Resurrection
Jason Statham returns as the hitman for hire. Jessica Alba costars as his love interest. Jason must get back in the game and perform 3 hits before he can get out of the business and get his life back. Pretty forgettable movie, though I did like the one scene with the pool on the high-rise. Grade: C-

 

TV

Beaches
Another unnecessary remake. I liked it, but the original was better. The original movie has a special place in my heart. It was the movie Rasheed and I saw on our 2nd date. I even have a VHS copy of it. Grade: C+

Riverdale
I enjoyed “Riverdale” on the CW last week. An update of the Archie comics, the show played like a mix of 90210, Gossip Girl and a bit of Twin Peaks. It will be interesting to see how the season progresses. Grade: B+

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading. Please sound off in the comments, if you disagree or agree with my take on things.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

Oscar Predictions 2017

 

I am a movie fan — pure and simple. I have even been known to take movie vacations, where I catch up on movies and see one every day. One of my favorite things is predicting who will win at the Academy Awards. It is not just about whether a performance was better than others, but you have to factor in such things as have they won before, are they or the movie too popular, have they been overlooked before, and so on. This is one of the most open fields in years. Here are my picks for the Top Six Awards.8035

Best Actor (Casey Affleck “Manchester by the Sea,” Andrew Garfield “Hacksaw Ridge,” Ryan Gosling “La La Land,” Viggo Mortensen “Captain Fantastic,” Denzel Washington “Fences”) You have one previous nominee (Viggo Mortensen) and one 2-time winner (Denzel Washington). The rest are first-time nominees. Viggo’s movie was not so well seen. “La La Land” may be seen as too light for some. That leaves Casey, Denzel and Andrew. Casey Affleck has the momentum — he is coming into his own. But then again, Denzel is a possibility too. Final choice: Casey Affleck

Best Actress (Isabelle Huppert “Elle,” Ruth Negga “Loving,” Natalie Portman “Jackie,” Emma Stone “La La Land,” Meryl Streep “Florence Foster Jenkins”) You have 2 former Oscar winners: Portman and Streep. Streep is out, she will not win a 4th time. I found “Elle” a bit of a Lifetime movie w/ more sex. Plus it in French. That leaves Negga and Stone. Stone could ride the momentum with “La La Land” and win. Plus, they like ingénues in this category. But Portman is a formidable competitor. Final choice: Emma Stone

Best Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali “Moonlight,” Jeff Bridges “Hell or High Water,” Lucas Hedges “Manchester by the Sea,” Dev Patel “Lion,” Michael Shannon “Nocturnal Animals”) Only 1 previous winner: Jeff Bridges. Ali has made quite an impression with a small role in an independent film. This is a tough category. Hedges is young, and will have another chance. Shannon has been nominated before, but not won. Final Choice: Mahershala Ali

Best Supporting Actress (Viola Davis “Fences,” Naomie Harris “Moonlight,” Nicole Kidman “Lion,” Octavia Spencer “Hidden Figures,” Michelle Williams “Manchester by the Sea”) You have previous winners here: Nicole Kidman and Octavia Spencer. Michelle Williams role is pretty small. I think it is between Viola and Naomie. Viola is higher profile, having lost before when she was supposedly a sure thing for “The Help.” Plus she is on a hit TV show too. Final choice: Viola Davis

Best Director (Damien Chazelle “La La Land,” Mel Gibson “Hacksaw Ridge,” Barry Jenkins “Moonlight,” Kenneth Lonergan “Manchester by the Sea,” Denis Villeneuve “Arrival”) One previous Oscar winner: Mel Gibson. Kenneth has been nominated before but for writing. For me, it is between Kenneth Lonergan and Damien Chazelle. I am picking Chazelle: he’s only had 2 features and both have been critical and commercial hits. Plus extra pointing for bringing the modern musical back. I am sure a lot of actors can’t wait to work for him. Final choice: Damien Chazelle

Best Picture (Arrival, Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, La La Land, Lion, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight) What an interesting batch of films! I picked “Hell or High Water” as my personal favorite from last year. Sci-fi doesn’t tend to play well here, so “Arrival” is out. “Fences” is good, but it felt like a filmed play, and it was. “Lion” moved me to tears. “Manchester by the Sea” and “Moonlight” are depressing, but well done. “Hacksaw Ridge” is lucky just to be nominated. “Hidden Figures” is rising at the right time, and it just won the Screen Actor’s Guild Award for Best Ensemble. I think it is between “Hidden Figures” and “La La Land.” We need a movie we can all rally behind. Final choice: La La Land

Those are my picks. If you think differently, then please sound off in the comments. And if you win big in an Oscar pool, please let me know too.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

 

 

Oscar Predictions 2016

I am a movie fan — pure and simple. I have even been known to take movie vacations, where I catch up on movies and see one every day. One of my favorite things is predicting who will win at the Academy Awards. It is not just about whether a performance was better than others, but you have to factor in such things as have they won before, are they or the movie too popular, have they been overlooked before, and so on. This is one of the most open fields in years. Here are my picks for the Top Six Awards.Oscars 2016

Best Actor (Bryan Cranston “Trumbo,” Matt Damon “The Martian,” Leonardo DiCaprio “The Revenant,” Michael Fassbender “Steve Jobs,” Eddie Redmayne “The Danish Girl”) Eddie won last year for the “The Theory of Everything.” Matt Damon has won an Oscar before, but for screenplay not for acting. Bryan Cranston has his first nomination after his successful run on “Breaking Bad.” Leonardo has never won an Oscar. He is overdue. It’s his race to lose. Final choice: Leonardo DiCaprio

Best Actress (Cate Blanchett “Carol,” Brie Larson “Room,” Jennifer Lawrence “Joy,” Charlotte Rampling “45 Years,” Saoirse Ronan “Brooklyn”) 2 previous Oscar winners here: Cate Blanchett and Jennifer Lawrence — and its’ too soon for them to repeat. That leaves an industry veteran (Rampling) and 2 sort-of newcomers. Brie Larson has the heat. Final choice: Brie Larson

Best Supporting Actor (Christian Bale “The Big Short,” Tom Hardy “The Revenant,” Mark Ruffalo “Spotlight,” Mark Rylance “Bridge of Spies,” Sylvester Stallone “Creed”) One previous winner (Bale) and one previous nominee Stallone (“Rocky”). Tom Hardy is coming off a great year with Mad Max, Legend and The Revenant. Mark Ruffalo is a consistent performer who can go between smaller movies and The Avengers franchise. But oddsmakers are saying it is Stallone’s to lose. Final choice: Sylvester Stallone

Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Jason Leigh, “The Hateful Eight,” Rooney Mara “Carol,” Rachel McAdams “Spotlight,” Alicia Vikander “The Danish Girl,” Kate Winslet “Steve Jobs”) Kate Winslet is the only previous winner here. Rooney was previously nominated for “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” The race is betweem McAdams amd Vikander for me. Vikander is a newcomer who has had a great year (Ex Machina, The Danish Girl). Final choice: Alicia Vikander

Best Director (Adam McKay, “The Big Short,” George Miller, “Mad Max: Fury Road,” Alejandro Inarritu, “The Revenant,” Lenny Abrahamson, “Room,” Tom McCarthy, “Spotlight”) Inarritu won last year for Birdman, so it is may be too soon to repeat. Even though the film looks beautiful and was a tough shoot, it is still a bit of a downer. Tom McCarthy made a movie about journalism exciting. This seems to be a fight between Inarritu and Miller, but since Inarritu won the DGA award, he will most likely win again this year. Final choice: Alejandro Inarritu

Best Picture (The Big Short, Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant, Room, Spotlight) What an interesting batch of films! You have real-life stories versus book adaptations versus one all-out action film. Comedy doesn’t seem to play well with a best picture winner. For that reason, I think The Martian and The Big Short are out. Ditto for action, sorry Mad Max. So that leaves Bridge of Spies, Room, Brooklyn and The Revenant. Room is too small a movie. Brooklyn is not substantial enough. What I have observed is that movies with a lot of choice acting roles often win. The Revenant has 2 main roles, and is often wordless during it’s run. But with many great speaking roles, and the importance of the subject matter, I am picking Spotlight. Final choice: Spotlight

Those are my picks. If you think differently, then please sound off in the comments. And if you win big in an Oscar pool, please let me know too.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for birthdays, anniversaries and more.

 

Oscar Predictions 2015

I am a movie fan — pure and simple. I have even been known to take movie vacations, where I catch up on movies and see one every day. One of my favorite things is predicting who will win at the Academy Awards. It is not just about whether a performance was better than others, but you have to factor in such things as have they won before, are they or the movie too popular, have they been overlooked before, and so on. This is one of the most open fields in years. Here are my picks for the Top Six Awards.Boyhood

Best Actor
Steve Carrell (Foxcatcher), Bradley Cooper (American Sniper), Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game), Michael Keaton (Birdman [or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance]), Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)
All are Oscar virgins in this category, but it really comes down to 2 people here: Eddie Redmayne and Bradley Cooper. In Eddie Redmayne, you get a good-looking guy to play a disfigured nerd with a debilitating illness; whereas with Cooper, it’s his 3rd straight nomination in 3 years. Winner: Eddie Redmayne

Best Actress
Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night), Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything), Julianne Moore (Still Alice), Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl), Reese Witherspoon (Wild)
Two former Oscar winners here — Cotillard and Witherspoon. Of those left, 2 are new — Felicity and Rosamund. Julianne is a previous nominee, and has yet to win. She has proven she can do small parts in studio blockbusters like The Hunger Games, and nice independent movies like Still Alice. But after seeing Wild, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Reese win again. Winner: Julianne Moore

Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette (Boyhood), Laura Dern (Wild), Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game), Emma Stone (Birdman [or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance]), Meryl Streep (Into the Woods)
Meryl Streep was great as always, but she has won or been nominated so many times, she is not winning again! Emma Stone’s role in Birdman didn’t do much for me, she’s been better in other movies. But as the mother in Boyhood, Patricia Arquette has proved she is the one to beat. Winner: Patricia Arquette

Best Supporting Actor
Robert Duvall (The Judge), Ethan Hawke (Boyhood), Edward Norton (Birdman [or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance]), Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher), J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
Robert Duvall has won before, so he’s out. If there is a sweep for Boyhood, it could pull along Ethan Hawke. But smart money says it is going to go to the role of music instructor J.K. Simmons in Whiplash. He’s been around for years, bit parts in many TV shows and movies. It’s his time. Winner: J.K. Simmons

Best Director
Alejandro G. Inarritu (Birdman [or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance]), Richard Linklater (Boyhood), Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher), Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)
Inarritu has been here before with Babel. And Miller with Capote. Neither of them has won before. But for shepherding his passion project though 12 years, I think Linklater is the one to beat. Winner: Richard Linklater

Best Picture
American Sniper, Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory of Everything, Whiplash
American Sniper and Selma have both taken heat for their portrayal of real events. American Sniper for being a limited view of a contentious war, and celebrating a somewhat crazy soldier with PTSD. Selma for it’s portrayal of President LBJ. Grand Budapest Hotel is too quirky and flimsy for a best picture. The race is coming down to either Birdman or Boyhood. Birdman reminded me a little of Black Swan with it’s behind the scenes look at a show. And that movie didn’t win. But for a movie that is so small, and yet so universal — I think it going to be Boyhood. Winner: Boyhood

Those are my picks. If you think differently, then please sound off in the comments. And if you win big in an Oscar pool, please let me know too.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

Oscar Picks 2014

The past year was another great year at the movies. We had fun blockbusters like “Fast and Furious 6” and “Iron Man 3” as well as more serious fare like “Prisoners” and “Captain Phillips.” Not to mention quirky indie movies like “Frances Ha”.oscars 2014

Here are my picks for the top 6 awards. And in case you question my judgment, I won the Oscar Pool last year, and have gotten close a couple of times in previous years too. I am an avid movie fan, even taking a few movie vacations where I go to the movies every day that I am off. So here are my predictions:

Predicting a winner is as much about politics, as it is about the performances. Has someone won before? Have they never won before? Are they likable? Do they (or the movie) make too much money? So here are my predictions:

Best Picture

The nominees are: American Hustle, 12 Years a Slave, Gravity, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, The Wolf of Wall Street

Oddsmakers are claiming this is  3-picture race: American Hustle, Gravity and 12 Years a Slave. After seeing American Hustle, I beg to differ. That movie is too slight… and has gotten as much attention as it has based on the likability of the cast and respect for the director. The serious contenders are Gravity and 12 Years a Slave. I would like 12 Years a Slave to win, but due to its difficult subject matter, I think it will be Gravity instead.
Final pick: Gravity

Best Actress

The nominees are: Amy Adams (American Hustle), Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine), Sandra Bullock (Gravity), Judi Dench (Philomena), Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)

Amy Adams is the only one who has been nominated, but never won. So who’s time will it be this year? Cate Blanchett and Sandra Bullock lead the pack. It will be the second Oscar for both. Meryl Streep has won 3 times before, so she is out — no way will she win a 4th time. That would be a record. Based on the Academy’s love for Woody Allen and his movies at the Oscars, I would pick Cate.
Final pick: Cate Blanchett

Best Actor

The nominees are: Christian Bale (American Hustle), Bruce Dern (Nebraska), Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave), Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street), Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)

Christian Bale is out, he won fairly recently. Leonardo has never won, and is overdue to win, but not this year. Bruce Dern, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Matthew McConaughhey are the rest of the nominees. Bruce Dern is probably happy just to be back on Hollywood’s radar. That leaves Chiwetel and Matthew. Based on his physical transformation, and his recent string of good performances, I think it is McConaughey’s time.
Final pick: Matthew McConaughey

Best Supporting Actress

The nominees are: Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave), Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine), Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle), Julia Roberts (August: Osage County), June Squibb (Nebraska)

This is always the most difficult one to predict. You have newcomers against seasoned veterans. Early awards have gone to Lupita Nyong’o for 12 Years a Slave, but I wouldn’t count out Julia Roberts — she hasn’t been this good in years. Jennfier Lawrence has won too recently to be considered.
Final pick: Lupita Nyong’o

Best Supporting Actor

The nominees are: Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips), Bradley Cooper (American Hustle), Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave), Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street), Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

Final pick: Oddmakers have been favoring Jared Leto for his heart breaking turn as a transgendered AIDS patient in Dallas Buyers Club. But I wouldn’t rule out Fassbender or Abdi either. Both were crucial to their movies.
Final pick: Jared Leto

Best Director

The nominees are: David O. Russell (American Hustle), Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity), Alexander Payne (Nebraska), Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave), Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street)

Final pick: Scorsese is definitely out, he has won before and The Wolf of Wall Street was divisive. David O. Russell is well liked by his actors, as they keep coming back to work with him. But the movie is slight compared to his previous films. Payne has had his time in the sun before too, so he is out also. That leaves Cuarón and McQueen. For technical merit, I think it will be Cuarón.
Final pick: Alfonso Cuarón

So enjoy the show, and let me know if you did well in any Oscar Pools. I will see you at the movies.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and  Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

Oscar Picks 2013

The past year was another great year at the movies. We had fun blockbusters like “The Hunger Games” and “The Avengers” as well as more serious far like “Flight” and “Zero Dark Thirty.” Not to mention quirky indie movies like “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”Oscars 2013

Here are my picks for the top 6 awards. And in case you question my judgment, I won the Oscar Pool last year, and have gotten close a couple of times in previous years too. I am an avid movie fan, even taking a few movie vacations where I go to the movies every day that I am off. So here goes with my predictions:

Best Picture

The nominees are: Amour, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Misérables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty

The race is looking to be a 2-movie race at this point: Lincoln and Argo. Both historical dramas based on real life events. Both helmed by award-winning directors with all-star casts. But if we follow the momentum, it is going to go to Argo.

Final pick: Argo

Best Actress

The nominees are: Jessica Chastain(Zero Dark Thirty), Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook), Emmanuelle Riva (Amour), Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild), Naomi Watts (The Impossible)

The two lady J’s (Jessica and Jennifer) are the ones who are in it to win it. Decent box office for both of their movies, plus this is the 2nd nomination for both of them. But with a starring role in “The Hunger Games” too, I think it will be Jennifer.

Final pick: Jennifer Lawrence

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Oscar Picks 2012

I am a movie fan. It is one of my favorite things to do — to go to the movies, experience new worlds, watch great performances and marvel at how did they do that? When I was younger, I liked more of the “popcorn” movies that are big hits. Now I find myself being more excited by Academy Award fair. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed “Mission Impossible 4” and “Fast Five” but those movies don’t stay with me, or touch me, the way others like “The Descendants” do.Poster-Oscars-2012

Here are my picks for the top 6 awards. And in case you question my judgment, I won the Oscar Pool last year, and have gotten close a couple of times in previous years too. I am an avid movie fan, even taking a few movie vacations where I go to the movies every day that I am off.

Best Picture

The nominees are: The Artist, The Descendants, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, War Horse

I have seen all except for: Extremely Loud and Moneyball. It is really a 2 film race here — The Artist and The Descendants. I would put my money on The Descendants, more of an actor’s movie than the other one, and because it is drama versus something lighter like The Artist. The Help could be an upset. Final pick: The Descendants

Best Actress

The nominees are: Glenn Close
(Albert Nobbs), Viola Davis
(The Help), Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Meryl Streep
(The Iron Lady), Michelle Williams
(My Week With Marilyn)

Michelle and Glenn’s movies were barely seen. No so, for Rooney Mara’s “Dragon Tattoo” movie. But since she is a newcomer, the nomination is a win itself for her. Considering that Viola has won all the awards leading up to this one, I think she is a sure thing here. Meryl Streep could be an upset.

Final pick: Viola Davis

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