Life of Pi is interesting and beautiful, but doesn’t quite resonate…

Maybe it was underwhelming because I’ve read the book.  I am not completely sure, yet while Yann Martel‘s novel Life of Pi, was able to truly explore faith, religion and human nature–I felt like Ang Lee‘s film rushed through most of the abstract themes and ended up being a beautifully illustrated, interesting story of survival–that was neither spiritual or emotional.

Visually it is stunning.  Not sure how much is CG (it seems like a lot)–but either way it is spectacular.  The rendering of the animals is very well done–although, there were a few “fake” looking moments, it was not enough to ruin anything.  The acting by the three young actors, who play Pi, are strong and suit the role.  Yet, I did not ever feel connected to Pi or the tiger–I was ready to shed some tears that never materialized.

Lee’s direction is adept and he weaves a captivating story–but he allows for too much exposition in some areas and for me, it took away some of the power.  I felt this to be the true with the ending–it was the ultimate “let me explain this…just in case you do not understand”.  Storytelling, at its best, allows for the audience to form its own opinions and should not result in spoon-feeding all the little details.  I guess they thought it would be too confusing.

Bottom line, I loved the novel.  I was taken on a journey of self-discovery and faith.  With the film, I almost felt cheated.  Lied to.  Weird, I know.  Instead of being a story that would make me believe in God–it ended up being a film that made me believe in the magic of cinema–not bad, but not the experience I was hoping for.

Life of Pi Trailer 2 Official [HD 1080] – YouTube

 

Side note:  Life of Pi  won 4 Oscars last month and I could not be upset or happy because I had not watched it.  Now that I’ve seen it, I must say that I have some issues with the some of the wins–especially for the Best Director.  Yes, it was well done–nicely paced and seamless F/X–but in 2012 there were several directors (Affleck, Tarantino, Anderson, etc.) that deserved it more.  (Just my opinion.)

 

Another night with Oscar–The 85th Academy Awards Wish List

In a year full of wonderful films, the Academy seems to have missed the mark in a few areas (as usual)–especially for Best Director where 4 of the top were snubbed.  Matthew McConaughey was ignored 3 times–Bernie–Killer Joe–and Magic Mike–wow!  The Dark Knight Rises–not even a tech nom?  Cloud Atlas?  No love. At all.  Oh, well–I can go on and on.

As I’ve mentioned to a few of you, I have a love/hate relationship with Oscar–yet, it’s a tradition now (been watching since I was 8) and I can’t imagine not watching.  It is more for the ceremony–the outfits–the speeches–and my favorite, all the special clip reels, then for the actual awards.

I hope that this year will be entertaining and fun–and that Seth McFarlane doesn’t choke.  I am sure we will have plenty to talk about tomorrow!

Here we go–as you will notice, I plan to be disappointed most of the night.  😀

Happy Oscars!!

Best Picture

My wish:  Django Unchained

Reality:  Argo  (it has built momentum and seems to be possible–which is solid)

Glaring Omission:  Moonrise Kingdom (My #1 of 2012)

Ah, Hell NO! : Les Miserables

Best Actor

My wish and Reality:  Daniel Day-Lewis

Glaring Omission:  John Hawkes (The Sessions)/Liam Neeson (The Grey)

Ah, Hell NO! : Denzel Washington (not for this one)

Supporting Actor

My Wish:  Christoph Waltz

Reality:  Robert DeNiro (sentimental vote)

Glaring Omission:  Bruce Willis (Moonrise Kingdom)/Leonardo DiCaprio (Django)

Ah, Hell NO! :  None–all worthy

Best Actress

My Wish: Quvenzhane Wallis

Reality: Jennifer Lawrence (worthy performance)

Glaring Omission: Emily Blunt (Looper)

Ah, Hell NO! : None.  Solid picks.

Supporting Actress

My Wish:  Helen Hunt

Reality:  Anne Hathaway (for one song–really?)

Glaring Omission:  Doona Bae (Cloud Atlas)

Ah, Hell NO! :  None.  All good.

Animated Feature

My Wish:  Wreck-It Ralph

Reality: Brave (Pixar tradition to win)

Glaring Omission:  Rise of the Guardians

Ah, Hell NO! :  The Pirates! (good but not Oscar worthy)

Cinematography

My Wish:  Skyfall (Deakins is a genius and overdue)

Reality: Life of Pi (haven’t seen it yet, but hear it is the one to beat…)

Glaring Omission:  Masanobu Takayanagi (The Grey)

Ah, Hell NO! :  Anna Karenina–uh, no.

Costume Design

My Wish:  Snow White and the Huntsman (Very cool and creative)

Reality: Les Miserables

Glaring Omission:  Django Unchained/The Avengers/Moonrise

Ah, Hell NO! :  All good.

Best Director 

My Wish:  Steven Speilberg or David O. Russell

Reality: David O. Russell

MAJOR Glaring Omissions:  Wes Anderson (Moonrise)–Quentin Tarantino (Django)–Ben Affleck (Argo) and Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty)

Ah, Hell NO! : I am still upset with the omissions 😀

Documentary Feature and Short–Do not know any of them

Film Editing

My Wish:  Argo

Reality:  Argo (I hope)

Glaring Omission:  Django  Unchained/The Avengers/The Hobbit

Ah, Hell NO! :  Silver Linings Playbook (really?)

Makeup and Hairstyling

My Wish:  The Hobbit

Reality:  Les Miserables

Glaring Omission:  Moonrise Kingdom/Cloud Atlas/Snow White

Ah, Hell NO! :  Les Miserables

Music–Original Score

My Wish:  Lincoln (John Williams is brilliant!)

Reality:  Skyfall

Glaring Omission:  Beasts of Southern Wilds (my favorite)/Cloud Atlas/The Hobbit

Ah, Hell NO! :  Anna Karenina

Music–Original Song

My Wish:  None–not invested in any

Reality:  Skyfall (duh.)

Glaring Omission:  Safe and Sound (Hunger Games)

Ah, Hell NO! :  The silly rules keeping more songs from being nominated.

Production Design

My Wish:  The Hobbit

Reality:  Les Miserables  or Life of Pi

Glaring Omission:  Django Unchained/Moonrise Kingdom/TDKR/Cloud Atlas

Ah, Hell NO! :  Anna Karenina (yeah…I did not care for it)

Short Film (Animated)//Short (Live Action)

Only one I’ve seen is Paperman and it is beautiful!!

Sound Editing

My Wish: Django Unchained

Reality:  Zero Dark Thirty 

Glaring Omission:  The Avengers/The Grey/The Dark Knight Rises/The Hobbit

Ah, Hell NO! :  All good.  

Sound Mixing

My Wish:  Argo

Reality: Skyfall

Glaring Omission:  Django/Avengers/The Grey/The Dark Knight Rises/The Hobbit

Ah, Hell NO! :  Les Miserables (yeah…didn’t like this either.)

Visual Effects

My Wish:  The Hobbit  (One word. Gollum.)

Reality:  The Hobbit (may be the only one it receives)  

Glaring Omission:  Looper/Cabin in the Woods

Ah, Hell NO! :  Prometheus (it may be worthy, I just do not want to reward it) -_-

Writing (Adapted)

My Wish:  Lincoln

Reality:  Argo or Silver Linings (both worthy)

Glaring Omission:  Perks of Being a Wallflower/Cloud Atlas

Ah, Hell NO! :  No objections.

Writing (Original)

My Wish:  Moonrise Kingdom

Reality:  Django Unchained (will be happy, too)

Glaring Omission:   Looper/The Master

Ah, Hell NO! :  Flight (No.  Should not even be here.)

Oscar, My Oscar! Try to guess them all! Check out Olly Moss’ brilliant poster.

oscars

Perfect as a pre-ceremony game, this beautiful (and clever) homage to 85 years of Oscars by artist Olly Moss, is incredible.

Have fun trying to guess (and remember) all the Best Picture winners.  I did very well, until I got to the olden days.  😀

I first heard about it over at Collider (so will give them a shout out) and they link you to the Oscar site that has the guessing slide show.

Enjoy!  And Happy Oscars!

Zero Dark Thirty earned the top 10 spot for 2012 I saved for it!

Finally.  I have seen the film that has eluded me for months and it was worth the wait.  Zero Dark Thirty is an honest, matter of fact look at our years searching for Osama bin Laden and our fight against Al-Qaeda.  Yes, it is fictionalized and the main character is a composite of several female CIA operatives, but none of that takes away the suspenseful efficiency of the narrative.

Kathryn Bigelow is a deft director.  She had proven, over and over, that she can balance intense action with introspective character development.  Bigelow is not afraid to take her time.  As in the incredible Hurt Locker (one of my favorite films of 2008), this is a military thriller that allows an intimate look at what motivates persons that have dedicated their life to service.  As with Argo, it’s a testament of fine film making when the result is widely known and yet, it does not take away from the nail-biting tension.

I was quickly swept up in the passion for justice.  (I thought the first few minutes were very effective in setting  a tone–it was powerful and emotional.)  That righteous call for vengeance makes it easy to explain the use of torture and other techniques–but Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal, bravely show you the process without judgement.  And they also show how it did not really reap the results that were expected.  It is left to our own interpretation and in the end, I had to respect that.  I will say it is hard to watch and does begin discussions about the morality issues surrounding such acts and tactics.

The cast is perfect.  Every role, big or small, is portrayed by a talented actor.  The two stand outs are Jason Clarke  and Jessica Chastain.  Clarke had the right presence and strength to play his CIA operative, Dan, but it is Chastain, who again validates her acting prowess.  She is wonderful.  Dedicated, stubborn and with a vulnerability that allows the audience to connect to her.  My only minor complaint, would be that I wanted to know more about her Maya.  I felt like her “personality” was non-existence.  Yes, I learned how she operated and that she became obsessed, but I wanted more details of how and why.  Though this was not enough of a factor to ruin the experience–I still wish I could have gotten to know her more intimately.

 

Zero Dark Thirty deserves all the accolades being given and I was very surprised that Bigelow was passed over in the Director category.  Another typical Oscar snub.  Oh well, in the long run it does not matter.  This film will stand the test of time and will remain an unflinching, honest look at an important part of our American history.  Good or bad, Zero Dark Thirty promotes conversation and is an excellent, masterfully crafted thriller that will grab hold and not let go until it is over.  Well done.  Well done indeed.

Zero Dark Thirty Final TRAILER (2012) – Jessica Chastain Movie HD – YouTube

 

Bye-bye 2011films! Oscar finalizes the award season…

84th Academy Awards Poster.png

It is over!  The Academy Awards have come and gone for 2011.  The verdict?  Not too bad. The theme was going to the movies and I will dare say this was the best show in a LONG time.  It felt faster paced (liked the combining of categories)–fresh (loved the Cirque du Soleil piece and the pre-recorded interviews)–and funny (Billy Crystal was fantastic–and there were some funny bits due to Robert Downey, Jr and Emma Stone).  The theme was cool–especially for all of us cinephiles–I could relate to many of the comments made about film, their impact and importance in our lives. 

There were no real big surprises, except for Meryl Streep‘s win–everyone was certain it would go to Viola Davis (even Streep herself)–but no one can be upset though because Streep is amazing. Period.  And her speech was lovely. 

I was also pleased that Hugo was getting some love, but not quite enough since The Artist still managed to win the big categories–BOO!  As you know most of my favorite films of the year were not in contention tonight so I was just cheering for anything that wasn’t The Artist (on principle). 

I was happy for Rango to win in Animation.  (I still think Tintin should have been there!)  Was upset Rise of the Planet of the Apes lost the visual effects trophy–they deserved it.  Or at least Harry Potter, but no. Potter was also robbed in the Make Up category.  Original score should have been John Williams.  Everything else was alright

So, bottom line?  We need to bring Billy back every year until he dies (c’mon what else is he doing now?)–keep the brisk pace and creative additions and maybe the Awards can return to their old glory. Because to quote Billy, “Nothing helps the economy like watching millionaires give each other gold statues!”

Enjoy some video highlights! 

 

Before the Oscars, I finally get to my Top 15 of 2011!

Academy Award Winner

Academy Award Winner (Photo credit: Dave_B_)

I will start by saying that the Academy Awards are frustrating. Sometimes they get it right, but mostly the awards end up being either a popularity contest, an oops-sorry-we-got-it-wrong-last-year-so-we-will-give-it-to-you-now-for-a-way-inferior-role, or just plain crazy!  So, why do I watch? Why year after year, do I torture myself? I can not help it!  I have watched the Oscars all my life.  It is a tradition. 

As a lover of films, it is what you do and I must admit that part of the fun is the craziness. You get to talk with your family and friends–for or against–the choices that the Academy makes, the dresses worn, and the speeches. This year I am stoked that my favorite host, Billy Crystal, has returned (Hugh Jackman has been my only other favorite host since Crystal departed).  As you will notice, not many of my favorites are represented this year at the Oscars…I know–that’s what I was talking about…

Now a few disclaimers before my list.  This is my Top 15 list–not the critics and I tend to choose films that have affected me–emotional and/or intellectually.  Also, I am, first and foremost, a sci-fi//action girl–so every year those films creep into my list.  I have reviewed most of these so you can search for them to read more about them.

Here we go…Top 15 of 2011! 

15.  Midnight in Paris

Beautifully told.  Whimsical and brilliant.  This is what I love about Woody Allen.  This role was tailor-made for Owen Wilson.

14.  The Help

Hit all the right notes.  Humorous, dramatic and heartfelt.  Deserves all the attention it is getting. I am rooting for them on Oscar night. 

13.  Warrior

What should be a clichéd, typical sport movie is transformed into an intense and effective character study.  Nick Nolte deserves this Oscar. 

12. Super 8

A homage to Spielberg and a different era of storytelling.  It is perfect. 

11.  Another Earth

Creative and unique.  Brit Marling is a force to be reckoned with. 

10.  The Adjustment Bureau 

I loved this film.  Matt Damon and Emily Blunt‘s chemistry is worth the watch.  This is how I like my romantic films to be–interesting, realistic with a sci-fi twist.

9.  Hanna

Wonderfully acted.  Awesome action sequences.  Fantastic music.  Intriguing heroes and unforgettable villains.  Yeah, it is BADASS!

8.  Attack the Block

Talk about BADASS!  This film is the ultimate sci-fi/action flick.  It is AWESOME!  Then they surprise you with depth and meaning.

7.  Beginners

This plays like an artistic piece.  It is poetry on film.  Christopher Plummer is lovely (I will not be upset if Nolte loses to him–which he might).  Ewan McGregor is wonderful.

6.  Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Gary Oldman.  Enough said.  Yes, I am biased.  But this is a clever, quiet, deliberate film.  Layered and nuanced.  And yeah…let’s not forget Benedict Cumberbatch. 🙂

5.  Drive

You either love or hate it.  I loved it.  One of the best deconstructing of a character on film.  Pretty impressive.

4.  Shame

Michael Fassbender not nominated for an Oscar?  Sad.  This is a brutal, honest look at a man’s struggle with his demons.  It will haunt you.

3.  The Skin I live In

Blew me away.  It sneaks up on you.  Revealing itself slowly and deliberately.  Antonio Banderas is fantastic!

2.  Take Shelter

Beautifully crafted.  Michael Shannon was also sadly forgotten by Oscar.  Powerful and intense.  A true mind bending experience.

1.  50/50

Real. Emotional. And laugh out loud funny. I loved everything about this film.  I am a huge fan of Joseph Gordon Levitt and this only solidifies his awesomeness!  (Shame on you Oscars–shame on you–not one single nomination.)

Sorry–experienced Oscar technical difficulties…

the Oscars 2011 Online www.livestream.com/theo...

Image by michperu via Flickr

My live blog was interrupted by technical difficulties–FAIL!

Well…bottom line–show was just alright–some good moments but overall meh! Anne Hathaway had some funny, but James Franco was stoned! 🙂 

Glad they are bringing back the Original Songs back–but I guess I want it to be a “show” again…

Nice to see Billy Crystal again–memories…

Happy to Inception win some awards–visual effects and sound–at least they got something.

Other awards were expected and worthy–except for the last two–

Tom Hooper?  Best Director?  I think not….I loved King’s Speech, but it is not the best directed movie–Darren Aronosfsky was robbed!  David Fincher would have been a good choice as well–and Chris Nolan was completely snubbed–but oh well…

The King’s Speech–best movie?  NOPE– again, it was good–but Black Swan was the Best movie of the year!

But that is how the Oscars goes…Shakespeare in Love beating Saving Private Ryan–Dances with Wolves over Goodfellas–yeah they have a legacy to uphold!

Now, back to 2011–let’s see what it holds for us…hope it’s good! 🙂

Oscar Nominations 2010

Oscar icon

Image via Wikipedia

The Academy Award nominations are out!  Not too shabby!  EXCEPT Christopher Nolan was totally snubbed for Best Director!!  -_-  Switch him for Tom Hooper–EASY!!  Otherwise, it looks like it is going to be a good race…25 days to Oscar coming soon!