Snack Break: Congratulations

Once again, I thought I had this Best Picture Oscar pegged and get surprised with a film that traditionally would not have won. I hope this means we’ll see more representation from other genres than “drama” in the years to come.

The Shape of Water

Of the nine contenders for Best Picture this year, there were plenty that I thought were truly great. It’s tough to choose one over the others, especially with some really thought-provoking and well-made films. Personally, my favorite was Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, followed by Darkest Hour, Get Out, Dunkirk, and Lady Bird. The Shape of Water was in that list of favorites as well, but that’s because it was directed by one of my favorite directors: Guillermo del Toro. In fact, a number of my favorite directors had showings this year, including Christopher Nolan and Martin McDonagh.

It’s tough when there’s not necessarily a front-runner for the Oscars, as each category presented proves to be a real mystery. Many of them could have gone a number of different ways, but at least the ones that won were certainly well-deserved.

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#309. Daniel Day-Lewis

Have you ever noticed that some actors seem to be in every critically-acclaimed movie? I’m not talking about the actors who win a lot of awards, but then also do some “low brow” comedies on the side. I’m referring to the actors who just seem to have a higher standard for the work they do. They usually aren’t the most prolific actors, but often they are the most awarded actors. It’s almost as if they have perfected the craft of acting and will only take on roles that they know will bring them the praise of critics and audiences alike. Daniel Day-Lewis certainly seems to fit into this category of actor. While he has appeared in more films in the early part of his career, lately his roles have been a little more spread out, but have earned him many accolades, regardless. This week’s two films highlight some of Daniel Day-Lewis’ most notable roles.

Gangs of New YorkGangs of New York
Year: 2002
Rating: R
Length: 167 minutes / 2.78 hours

Even though Daniel Day-Lewis has won multiple Oscars, there are still a few films where he was nominated for Best Actor and didn’t win the honor. It’s probably useful to note that these films were also nominated for Best Picture, but also lost to other movies. His first loss was to Tom Hanks in 1993 (for Hanks’ role in Philadelphia), despite a solid performance in In the Name of the Father (which itself lost to Schindler’s List). Fortunately, the only other time he didn’t win a nomination was in 2002 for his role in Gangs of New York (losing to Adrien Brody in The Pianist and the film losing to Chicago). Of course, Gangs of New York also garnered Martin Scorsese a nomination for Best Director. The only other time Day-Lewis and Scorsese worked together was for the period piece, The Age of Innocence (1993).

In Gangs of New York, Daniel Day-Lewis portrays William “Bill the Butcher” Cutting, a man whose violent tendencies crushed a rival gang of Irish immigrants led by a Catholic priest (Liam Neeson). Having no trouble cutting up animals or men, his intimidating persona managed to keep the neighborhoods of lower Manhattan in a state of fearful peace for sixteen years. In the midst of the Civil War, a man by the name of Amsterdam (Leonardo DiCaprio) arrives in New York and starts to stir up some trouble, becoming involved with William M. Tweed (Jim Broadbent), the boss of the newest rival gang to Bill’s “Natives.” As it turns out, Amsterdam has a connection to the previous gang war and it doesn’t take long for Bill to figure out who he was related to. Instead of running away to San Francisco, Amsterdam officially challenges Bill to a fight, which he accepts to his own peril.

LincolnLincoln
Year: 2012
Rating: PG-13
Length: 150 minutes / 2.5 hours

No other actor has won three Best Actor Oscars. Walter Brennan won three Best Supporting Actor statues, but everyone knows the highest honor comes with Best Actor. Daniel Day-Lewis has achieved this feat with only five nominations to his name. Even before he won his first Best Actor Oscar, he appeared in the Best Picture, Gandhi (1982). He would then go on to win his acting Oscars in the Best Picture nominees, My Left Foot (1989), There Will Be Blood (2007), and Lincoln (2012). Perhaps due to his first Oscar coming from My Left Foot, Day-Lewis collaborated with director Jim Sheridan twice more for In the Name of the Father (which earned him an aforementioned acting nomination) and The Boxer (1997). Still, it’s his performance in Lincoln that pushed his name into Hollywood history for having earned three Best Actor Oscars.

While the gang wars of New York were coming to a head in 1863, Abraham Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis) made a definitive move in turning the tide of the Civil War by passing the Emancipation Proclamation. Unfortunately, now that he sees the end of the Civil War quickly approaching, he realizes that this wartime executive order might not stand up to legal scrutiny once the war is over. In order to keep the effects of the Proclamation permanent, he proposes the Thirteenth Amendment. This Amendment to the Constitution has a difficult road to ratification, considering the 16th President of the United States wants to have it approved before the end of the war so that the southern states re-joining the Union won’t be able to deny its passage and the freedoms it provides to slaves across the nation. It’s up to the men of Congress to ensure that Lincoln’s legacy remains intact, despite a sporty deadline quickly approaching.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 different Daniel Day-Lewis characters

Bacon #: 2 (Lincoln / Tommy Lee Jones -> JFK / Kevin Bacon)

Snack Break: Congratulations

What a twist! While I try my best to see all the Best Picture nominees before the ceremony, this year I failed to see the film that (eventually) won Best Picture. I will see it as soon as I can, so I don’t know if I can give an honest review of it yet. Clearly, it had a number of elements that propelled it to win the 89th Acadamy Awards’ highest honor.

I must be honest to say that I had my hopes set on two films this year: La La Land and Arrival. Both spoke to me in different ways, but they both left an impact with their message. When La La Land was initially named the winner of Best Picture, I was excited. When it was taken away due to the presenter’s mistake, it made me wonder how good Moonlight is to win Best Picture.

I know the Academy is often faulted for giving awards to movies that should have won in years past, so I only hope that Moonlight can stand on its own merits, instead of perhaps being a result of last year’s #OscarsSoWhite fiasco. Still, I have not seen this film yet, but that won’t stop me from buying it and adding it to my (nearly) perfect Best Picture Oscar collection. I only hope I can keep an open mind when I do see it.

220px-moonlight_282016_film29

Even with this dramatic turn of events, I was glad to see La La Land end up with plenty of its musical awards and Arrival with the awards it deserved as well. Kind of a mixed bag this year, but the winners certainly earned their respective awards.

Snack Break: Congratulations

For five years now, I have seen all the Best Picture nominees before the Oscar ceremony, thus giving me a chance to gauge the chance that one of them would win the coveted gold statue. This year, after watching all the nominees, I decided that Spotlight was the clear winner, and I want to send out my congratulations.

220px-spotlight_28film29_poster

The power of the story told in this film was one that hit right in the depth of the soul. While some of the films this year were flashy and fun (The Martian, The Big Short, and Mad Max: Fury Road), others were intense and almost difficult to watch (Room and The Revenant). What really set Spotlight apart for me was the dedication of the reporter team to not stop at exposing the top level of the issue, but to dig deep enough that they could blow open the whole, systemic problem at its source.

Also, a congrats to Alejandro G. Iñárritu for another year of great directing, and Leonardo DiCaprio for finally nabbing that Best Actor Oscar so that we can stop wondering when you will win it.

Snack Break: Congratulations

I apologize for this later post, but with an internet connectivity issue that I had during the Oscars, I only just now had the ability to send out my congratulations to the winner of Best Picture for the 87th Academy Awards: Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance).

Birdman

Unlike some previous years, I had seen all of the nominees before the ceremony this year. With half of the eight nominees being biopics, it was clear which one was the most original of them all. Here was my review of this well-deserved Oscar winner: “If this isn’t the most unique and meta film made in the last decade, then I don’t know what is. Practically shot in one entire cut/take, Birdman is impressive on that front alone. However, its raw and unabashed look at modern Hollywood, theatre, popularity, vitality, and criticism makes me want it to win Best Picture all the more.”

In fact, upon repeat viewings, the depth of the characters and the messages that are hidden right beneath the surface are quite profound. If you haven’t seen this film yet, please do!

#142. Jamie Foxx

Comedian, musician, actor. Jamie Foxx is one of Hollywood’s best examples of rising through the ranks to become a well-known and household name, even if it’s his stage name. Working his way up from being a stand-up comedian to a television actor, Jamie Foxx made the jump to the big screen while still working on television. Once he completed the run of his own, eponymous show, Foxx had more time to commit to movies, which meant that, as a result, he landed a few roles in more serious, dramatic films (like Ali (2001) Dreamgirls (2006), and The Soloist (2009)) which propelled him forward toward some amazing performances. Even though he also stars in some popcorn fodder like Stealth (2005), White House Down (2013) and this last summer’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the fact remains that he’s won an Oscar for his acting. This week’s two films focus on some Jamie Foxx roles.

CollateralCollateral
Year: 2004
Rating: R
Length: 120 minutes / 2 hours

If there was a defining year for Jamie Foxx as a movie actor, it would be 2004. In a rare occurrence, Foxx was nominated for two acting Oscars in the same year. While he didn’t win for Best Supporting Actor in Collateral, he did win Best Actor in the bio-pic Ray about the life of Ray Charles. From that point on, all future trailers could market Jamie Foxx as an Academy Award Winning Actor. Of course, there have been many great actors who have yet to win an Oscar, so it’s really saying something when someone wins an Oscar so soon after delving into dramatic roles. And yet, Director Michael Mann saw Foxx’s talent when he cast him in Ali, and continued to cast him after Collateral in Miami Vice. This Director/Actor pairing really pushed Foxx into the spotlight of Hollywood’s elite.

Sometimes we take a job just to earn a living. However, when that job means we’re aiding a hitman, we soon realize that the money he has offered isn’t worth it anymore. Taxi driver Max Durocher (Jamie Foxx) has been driving Vincent (Tom Cruise) around Los Angeles in order to kill six people on his hit list. As the night progresses, Max attempts to stop Vincent on several occasions, even going so far as to destroy the hit list. However, since Vincent wanted Max to maintain his routine for the night, he now has Max’s mother used as leverage in order to get the rest of the list back. Max is helpless as he interfaces with a drug lord to retrieve the last few names, but he is almost saved by a LAPD detective, who is killed by Vincent. After crashing his cab, Max and Vincent race into the subway after the last victim. Will Max save the day, or die trying?

Django UnchainedDjango Unchained
Year: 2012
Rating: R
Length: 165 minutes / 2.75 hours

With his Best Actor Oscar for Ray securing his ability to act in a lead role, Jamie Foxx has seen very few leading roles since then. Aside from being the titular cello player in The Soloist five years later, it took another four years for Foxx to star in an eponymous role. This role was Django. While he has played real-life musicians with certain limitations (blindness in Ray and schizophrenia in The Soloist), he has also been in quite a few action roles (like Stealth and Miami Vice). So when Foxx was cast in a historical action role, you knew he could handle it. Still, it doesn’t hurt to have a well-renown Director like Quentin Tarantino behind the helm of this film in order to get Jamie Foxx’s name out there even more. After all, it worked for the careers of Uma Thurman and Samuel L. Jackson before.

In the opening scenes of this film, Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) buys Django (Jamie Foxx) and gives him his freedom in exchange for help on collecting a bounty. After killing the Brittle Brothers (from the aforementioned bounty), Django is trained by Dr. Schultz to become a bounty hunter like himself. This is all done so that Django can rescue his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington). Unfortunately, Broomhilda is owned by one of the most notorious slave owners of the south: Calvin J. Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). As a result, Dr. Schultz thinks up a plan to get onto Candie’s plantation, Candyland, by pretending to be interested in purchasing a slave fighter known as a Mandingo. Unfortunately, the whole plan is put in jeopardy when the head house slave, Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson) smells something fishy. Can Django save Broomhilda, or is the whole operation about to explode?

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 fantastic Foxx performances

Bacon #: 2 (Collateral / Tom Cruise -> A Few Good Men / Kevin Bacon)

Snack Break: Congratulations

Another year, another Best Picture! I’d just like to send out my congratulations to the winners of the 86th Academy Awards. While it’s getting tougher to watch all the Nominees before the big event, I do my best to watch as many as I can so I can make my own decision on what I think is the best of the year.

Even though this is the first year in a while that I haven’t seen the winner before the Oscars, I’ve definitely heard much praise for this film. If you ask me, a lot of the nominees “split the vote” because they were too similar to each other. American Hustle was about excess like The Wolf of Wall Street. Nebraska was about parent-child relationships like Philomena. Her was about unlikely relationships like Dallas Buyers Club. Captain Phillips was about survival in harsh conditions like Gravity. Therefore, the only film that didn’t cross over into any others was 12 Years a Slave.

12 Years a Slave

Since I own all the Best Picture winners, it looks like I’ll be stopping by Best Buy sometime soon to pick up this year’s victor. Then I’ll finally get to see it!