Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Big Peck's Cineflex Awards Edition II: Oscar Winner Predictions

Alright... wasn't too on point last year on who was going to win and this year is an even bigger crapshoot.  I mean, even the Best Picture category could honestly go to half the nominees.  There were many, many great performances and there's really no clear winner in hardly any category.  So, I guess I have just as much of a guess as anyone.  So, here's what the Cineflex believes will win each category.

Best Picture:

American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
12 Years A Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street

What a vanilla year it was for movies.  Yes, there are a few on here that were genuinely good films, but not all of them I believe earned a spot on the list.  Inside Llewyn Davis, I thought, was better than Philomena, but it was a quaint little film and the Academy are a bunch of old biddies that only put The Wolf of Wall Street on there for fear of flak they would receive from moviegoers.  Scorsese was also probably a big influence just by having his name attached to it.

What's Going To Win: 12 Years A Slave
What Should Win: Gravity

Okay, so The Wolf of Wall Street was my favorite movie of the year, but there ain't no chance in Hell they're going to choose a movie like that.  Nebraska and Her were quiet, but fantastic films, especially the former which was an incredible low-budget film.  The three front-runners of the group, however, are American Hustle, Gravity, and 12 Years A Slave.  Any one of them could win and it wouldn't be a surprise.  While American Hustle was a very good movie, I just don't think it was the best film of the year.  I'll actually be very disappointed if 12 Years wins because it's a manipulative movie that was MADE to win Best Picture.  That's it.  No other reason for the film's existence.  It's not a bad movie, but it's goal from the very beginning was to beat out anything else for Best Picture.  The true best movie of the year was Gravity.  It's visual effects were stunning, the performances were amazing, and it was the most tense I've been in a theater in a good long while.  Movies like that are the reasons we go to movies.

Best Actor:

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

This is a year where anyone of these guys could win and it would be deserved.  I mean, this is a category that was so stacked that Tom freakin' Hanks didn't even make the cut for two movies where he could've (and should've) been nominated.  Congrats to anyone who takes home the gold.

Who's Going To Win: Matthew McConaughey
Who Should Win: Leonardo DiCaprio

Let's face it... Leo needs that win.  The guy puts out Academy Award winning movies and performances year after year after year.  He will eventually get the win, but it's crazy that he's even had to wait this long.  The guy is one of the best actors in Hollywood.  Yes, I understand McConaughey has had a recent resurgence in his films from the rom-com pit he was trapped in for so long, but Leo was insanely good!  The other nominees were great, but it's time Leo got the nod.  There's even a slight chance that due to his old age that Dern could take the W, but I think big Mattie is a lock.

Best Actress:

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

Are any of these names that surprising? Yeah, they were all good in their respective films, but they're pretty much the Best Actress staples of Hollywood.  Didn't have to think too hard outside the box for these nominees.  It's a tough race, and it looks like Streep's obligatory nomination is still in tact, but a winner may be a little bit tougher to choose.

Who's Going To Win: Cate Blanchett
Who Should Win: Sandra Bullock

Hear me out on this one.  Okay, I understand that Blanchett's performance was amazing in Blue Jasmine, but I haven't seen it yet.  I have, however, seen Gravity and Bullock's performance was something beyond incredible.  I have never been a fan of Sandra Bullock, and even I was won over by her portrayal of a scared and alone astronaut floating through the vastness of space with limited oxygen.  The other three... they really don't have a chance here.  Blanchett is ultimately a lock for this category, but I'd love to see Bullock pull it out.

Best Supporting Actor:

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

I'd have to say minus the Bradley Cooper nomination, the Best Supporting Actor category is just as strong as the Best Actor category.  Everyone turned in outstanding performances.  There is something special about the Best Supporting Category that, for the last few years, has been reserved for outstanding villain portrayals.  Fassbender would fit that role here, or even Abdi, but it doesn't look like either will take it this year.

Who's Going To Win: Jared Leto
Who Should Win: Jared Leto

How sad is it that the lead singer of a shitty band was one of the best actors of 2013? Abdi, for his first movie, turned in one Hell of a performance as the leader of the Somali pirates.  Jonah Hill was amazing, but he's just too much of a wild card to win.  It's Leto that is the clear winner here.  No one else really has a chance.  And while Cooper was good in his role, it wasn't anything remarkable like the other four aforementioned nominees.  Let's give it to Leto, even though he's a bit of a stain on American entertainment.

Best Supporting Actress:

Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine)
Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years A Slave)
Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)
June Squibb (Nebraska)

Meh.  Could there be a less interesting five people to be nominated for Best Supporting Actress??  The problem here is, looking back on all the films released, I can't think of anyone left out.  There just weren't a lot of roles that stood out for supporting women.  And while I believe there is a lock for this category, it's not like last year's Anne Hathaway lock.

Who's Going To Win: Lupita Nyong'o
Who Should Win: June Squibb

Haha! Yeah, sure, whatever.  Squibb was hilarious in Nebraska!  I know none of you saw the movie, but she cracked me up!  Nothing against Nyong'o, but I just had such a problem with 12 Years A Slave.  I mean, how did that movie manipulate all the Academy heads so effectively and The Butler just kind of came and went?  I mean, at least that shit had Oprah!  They were both Oscar bait movies with Oscar bait performances.  I wouldn't actually mind of Jennifer Lawrence won.  I know she won last year for Actress, but she was amazingly awful in American Hustle.  I couldn't stand her character.  That's the sign of a great actress.  Also, considering that most of her dialogue was improvised adds a little bit of umph to the role.

Best Director:

Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)
David O. Russell (American Hustle)
Alexander Payne (Nebraska)
Steve McQueen (12 Years A Slave)
Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street)

Safe picks all around.  Actually, I take that back.  I really like that Alexander Payne got the nom over other likely and safe choices like Spike Jonze or Paul Greengrass or the Coen Brothers (who really deserved to get nominated).  But, the rest were very safe picks because 2013 was a very safe year for film.

Who's Going To Win: Steve McQueen
Who Should Win: Alfonso Cuaron

I'm just playing the odds here.  More times than not, the film that wins Best Picture is also attached to the person who wins Best Director.  So, if my prediction that 12 Years is going to win, then maniuplative puppeteer Steve McQueen will also get the win.  However, what Cuaron did with Gravity is unparalleled.  It's never been done before.  It is the most visually amazing and stimulating film I've ever seen.  It beat the small blue dick right off of Avatar.  He's the most deserved to win, but, alas, I feel as though he will be overlooked.

Other Predictions:

Best Animated Film:
What's Going To Win: Frozen
What Should Win: Frozen

Best Original Screenplay: 
What's Going To Win: Her
What Should Win: Her

Best Adapted Screenplay:
What's Going To Win: 12 Years A Slave
What Should Win: The Wolf of Wall Street


It looks like the year of the slave.  Wait... can I say that?  It's my blog, screw it.  If it were me running the Oscars, the nominations and winners would look much different.  Leo would have a statue, the best movie would actually win best movie.  But, a lot like 2012, it was such a bland year for films.  Nothing that gritty or overwhelming came out.  There were hardly any locks this year for winners.  I've seen a list of a lot of films coming out this year... and let's hope we get, at least, one or two movies that remind us why going to the movies is the greatest thing to do.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Upcoming Best and Worst of Spring 2014


The Lego Movie


Yeah, it's a kid's movie, but come on... it looks kinda funny.  It'll be entertaining and creative at the very least.  There have been much worse movies to come out in Hollywood's toilet that is January and February.  This is one that should be hard to screw up.




Look, when I say Best Upcoming, I don't mean like Oscar-worthy.  I just mean some awesome movies coming out that look fun and entertaining.  And who doesn't want to see Liam Neeson kicking terrorist plane ass??  It's Taken on a plane.  With Liam Neeson.  It's going to be a lot of fun, regardless of plot or lack thereof.  Did I mention Liam Neeson is in it?


The Grand Budapest Hotel

Ever since Moonrise Kingdom left theaters I have been anxiously awaiting the release of this film.  It looks like it could literally be his best film yet.  He's put together the most epic cast and the quirkiness of it seems off the charts.  I could fall in love with this film very quickly, methinks.


Muppets Most Wanted


The resurgence of the Muppets by Jason Segal was a very wanted and successful endeavor.  Of course they were going to make a sequel.  If it's anything like the original, it's going to be fantastic.  Yes, this one looks a little bit more slapstick, but that's what the Muppets were always about.  I mean, come on, who hates the Muppets?  Did I mention Liam Neeson is in it??  Oh, wait... that was another one.


Bad Words


I'm not entirely convinced that this will be one of the best... but I'm willing to give it a shot.  It's like the Bad Santa of spelling bee competitions starring a very likable actor we don't get to hear a lot of foul stuff come from.  He's also directed it too.  That puts it in the positive in my book.




Screw you guys.  It's Arnold!!!  It's a movie that doesn't look like complete balls either.  It's a respected director, a respected writer... and Arnold!!!  It will be awesome.  No argument.  It will.


Dom Hemingway

This movie looks off the wall batshit crazy.  It looks like a blast to watch. Plus, Jude Law has been a bit AWOL the last few years, I'm going to go ahead and trust the dude with his triumphant return to film.  Watch this trailer.




Yes, it looks a little on the strange side, but together all the factors.  It's produced by Christopher Nolan.  It's directed by Nolan's longtime cinematographer Wally Pfister.  It's Johnny Depp taking a break from Tim Burton and Pirates.  It's probably going to be awesome!




This movie is going to suck.  A shitty-CGI'd PG-13 remake of a movie that isn't even that good to begin with that looks almost identical to the remake of Total Recall.  I'm calling bust on this clunker.


A Winter's Tale


Yawwwwn.  Boringgggg.  Snoooooooze.  Who is actually going to go see this?  When do period pieces like this ever get good money?  Sorry Farrell (and special cameo Will Smith), this looks like a piece of Valentine's Day trash.


Endless Love


Yes!!! Another sappy/crappy 80s movie remake with no named pretty people that anyone with half of half of a brain can tell is going to reek of shit!  You're better than this, Hollywood.




Yes, it's probably true that this movie is going to have some cool special effects and some cool scenes involving the volcano.  And usually I'm totally down with that as long as I get some good actors hamming it up a bit.  Nope.  No-name pretty faced, muscular douchebags that wouldn't be believable nowadays, much less back then.  It's sappy volcano crap that should've just been called Endless Pompeii Love.


Welcome To Yesterday


Way to rip off a good movie like Chronicle, Hollywood.  Trying to capitalize on the same no-named teens, found footage movie with super powers like time traveling or whatever?  Guess what.  It ain't gonna work.  You're lucky we all liked Chronicle.  Stick with the sequel to that one.  Leave us alone for now.


300: Rise of an Empire


300 without Gerard Butler???  With crappy B-movie actors and green screen effects that are already outdated and worthless?  Please explain to me why I should give any of my money to a movie that shouldn't have a sequel or one that took ten years to come out??  Nope.  Don't be fooled, people.  This movie is going to blow donkey sack.


Need For Speed


The only thing this Fast and Furious ripoff has going for it is that people really like Aaron Paul and miss him from their screens.  It will probably do well at the box office the first weekend of its release and word of mouth will spread on how bad it truly is and it'll fizzle like every car movie from now until 2034 that tries to snag a little bit of that Furious cash.


A Haunted House 2


Do I really have to explain myself on this one??

Nebraska: Days Go By

Nebraska is the type of film that you've heard about.  You've seen previews for it and think that it might be good and then set it out of your mind.  It's the film you see was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards and think, "yeah, well, it's black and white, no surprise there."  But, you don't ever really make an effort to go and see.  This is a mistake.  Nebraska is one of the best films I've seen in a while and had I seen it in a timely manner would, most certainly, have made my list of Best Movies of 2013.  I know it has essentially zero chance of winning, but the Academy would do well to pick this film as a winner.

For those who decided to give this little blurb a read even though you're not sure what movie this is... it's about an elderly father, Woody (Bruce Dern) who is slowly losing his mind to dementia.  He's the kind of guy who's coasted through life making small impacts on people's lives with a favor here or a buck there and then disappearing altogether.  Yet, that kindness has kind of manifested itself into passivity for Woody.  He's unable to care about much around him at any given moment.  That is until he receives a piece of junk mail telling him he's won $1,000,000 and all he has to do is go down to Lincoln, Nebraska and claim his cash.  Unable to drive himself, and with everyone else trying to convince him that it's a scam, Woody has it in his mind that he's a winner.  He becomes a nuisance to his family and to the town as he's repeatedly picked up on the side of the highway trying to walk the 600 plus miles to Nebraska.  Finally, in order to get his father to quit trying to escape alone, Woody's son David (Will Forte) agrees to drive him to Nebraska.

Once there, they stop in Woody's home town where Woody becomes a, sort of, local legend because of his winnings.  Woody's always been a stand up guy and when he says that he's won a million bucks, the town trusts him.  Unfortunately that means for David that no one believes it is a sham.  Suddenly, old townsfolk, relatives, friends of friends end up hitting Woody up for money because they know that this simple old man was never one to put up a fight.  It's an amazing character study of a man who's whole life was spent as a simpleton and the way that he affected those around him.  I mean, Woody only wants the money in order to buy a new truck (which he can't even drive) and an air compressor (due to the fact that his was stolen from him in 1974).  That's it.  He's a simple man with simple ambition and a vulnerability that could easily be taken advantage of if it weren't for David or his hilariously brash wife, Kate (June Squibb).

If it wasn't for Bruce Dern's incredibly performance of Woody, it would be June Squibb who steals the show, and she nearly does in every scene.  She's everyone's neurotic and unfiltered grandmother rolled into one short, chubby little lady.  She has a way about her that is so impetuous and so hard-nosed, yet you can tell that past her hard exterior is a woman who truly loves her husband and her family and will tell anyone to "go fuck themselves" if they say otherwise.  She's a joy to watch.  And as sad as it is to see a confused old man trying to walk his way to Nebraska to pick up a prize you know isn't going to be there, Woody is also a joy to watch.  Will Forte, in his first serious role doesn't disappoint, either.  He's very collected and very believable and very loving towards his father.

Director Alexander Payne and first-time screenwriter Bob Nelson have truly collaborated on a masterpiece.  The slow pace and black and white viewing of the film plays out much like a fine piece of literature.  It's heartfelt, it's sad, it's funny, and it's one of the best pieces of filmmaking I've seen.  It would be a shame to let this one pass you by.


August: Osage County: Southern Discomfort

This film is the very definition of schadenfreude-- taking pleasure from the pain of others.  Not one single person in August: Osage County has something good and healthy going for them.  Every member of the family is either a sniveling little brat, an egocentric southern prick, a know-it-all, a self-destructive hate monger, etc.  The list goes on and on.  You'd think by sitting through two full hours of arguing and negativity you'd leave with a bad taste in your mouth and the surprising thing is-- you don't.  Putting aside the amazing performances by two stellar actresses, Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep, it's difficult to watch this family's lives swirl ever so swiftly down the drain of life.  Yet, it's also quite enjoyable as well. 

When Weston family patriarch Beverly (Sam Shepard) goes missing, pill-popping, verbally abusive matriarch Violet (Streep) calls in the family for help and support.  The first to arrive are Violet's sister Mattie Fae, her husband Charlie (Chris Cooper) and their son, Little Charles (Benedict Cumberbatch).  Next, comes Violet's daughter Barbara (Roberts), her now separated husband Bill (Ewan McGregor), and their daughter Jean (Abigail Breslin).  Violet's daughter, Ivy (Julianne Nicholson) is the only daughter not to have left Oklahoma arrives.  And finally, Violet's last daughter Karen (Juliette Lewis) arrives with her new fiance Steve (Dermot Mulroney).  Strong personalities clash as the family engages in fight after fight after fight with their hateful and mean spirited mother.  Violet and Barbara butt heads the most because Barbara is slowly starting to realize that she is, in fact, her mother.  She's slowly turned into the one thing on the planet she hates.  Barbara and Violet both butt heads with Karen as she's aloof to the entire situation, flaunting around a new beau in the midst of a family tragedy.  Barbara and Bill butt heads as they've separated on their way to divorce because of Bill's past infidelity-- but it isn't surprising considering the kind of hatefulness Barbara exudes.  Mattie Fae butts heads with Violet and Charles and Little Charles because she's a snappy little busy body with a comment about everything.  Over the course of a few days the family slowly but surely realizes that they all hate each other, and that their hate breeds more hate.

This is why everyone, minus Ivy, has left Violet.  They've all taken their escape from the house that hate built to start anew.  And over the course of the visit they each manage to one-by-one make their escapes again.  Finally, it ends just as it began: Violet and old, spite-filled curmudgeon all alone and Barbara wondering if she's fully turned into her own mother or if there's still any hope left for her.  The answer remains a mystery.  The movie is written by Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy Letts, who also penned the play the film is based on.  He's known for two other films: Killer Joe and Bug, which if you've seen either, you know that this is not a happy, take the whole family to the movies kind of film.  It's also directed by John Wells, one of the creators of the Showtime series Shameless, which if you've seen even five minutes of that show should be an indication of what kind of film you're about to see.

The performances are off the charts, however.  It's one powerhouse performance after another.  Because it's based off a stage play, it is very dialogue heavy and when two of these actors enter the same scene together, there's nothing but magic happening.  Meryl Streep, unarguably the greatest actress of all time, plays Violet as a disgustingly hateful woman, but one that you can't help but pity.  You'll watch her ostracize everyone in her family, yet sit back and feel bad for her instead of entirely loathe her.  Julia Roberts, an actress I'm not particularly fond of, kills it!  She's just as bad as Violet, yet illicits the same reaction from the audience, probably even more filled with pity.  You can tell she's this way because of how her mother has treated her all her life.  She doesn't want to be her mother but the harder she struggles against it, the more like her she becomes.

The film can get a slight repetitive with fight after fight after argument after argument, but that's where writer Letts gives us our glimmer of hope in the family with Chris Cooper's Charlie.  The man is the complete antithesis of Violet.  He's kind, he's caring, he's all about second chances and he despises it when he has to sit back and watch his family (one he's not even related to by blood) tear themselves apart from the inside out.  He's the one shining light in the black hole that is the Weston family.

If you have difficulty watching films where most of the characters are generally unlikable, then it may be hard for you to connect with any part of August: Osage County.  If nothing else, it's a great film for actors to watch in order to see acting perfection on screen.  This kind of cast doesn't culminate into film very often, but when something like this comes along, it's truly a delight to watch.