Category Archives: Oscar nominated film

The Sessions (2012) Film Review

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Mark (John Hawkes) is an academic who spends much of his day in an Iron Lung helping him to breathe. His nurses are able to take him out for hours at a time, but he has very limited movement. After learning about sexual surrogates, people who work with the disable to allow them to have sex, he engages the services of Cheryl (Helen Hunt) and discusses the process with his priest, Father Brendan (William H Macy).

It’s a fairly gentle film, really. There is little drama or action – it almost feels as though the filmmakers decided that it was enough for people to learn that these services exist and can improve the lives of those involved. Having said that, I don’t think that the film would have been improved by adding unnecessary drama; as it was, it was interesting and beautiful and fascinating. And does raise the debate of disabled actors playing disabled roles – John Hawkes is wonderful in this, and is generally quite wonderful in most things that he does, but why not have a disabled person in this role? (Money, for one. John Hawkes is a respected actor who would be a draw to producers. But still…)

Helen Hunt was nominated for an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a supporting Role in The Sessions .

 

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Once (2007) Film Review

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There’s a Guy (Glen Hansard), busking in Dublin who meets a Girl (Marketa Irglova) who plays piano, and they start making music together. That’s pretty much it, and yet it is a beautiful and lovely film. It’s partly because the music is just so good. The tag line for the film is “How often do you find the right person?” Which suggests to me that it is a love story, and I felt that it pushed to go that way a few times, but that the better and the real story was that of the creative partnership. It’s a really great film, quite lovely. Very low budget, very unexpected.

Once won an Oscar for Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song (Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova)

 

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L.A. Confidential (1997) Film Review

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The LA Police Department is crooked – beating confessions from the criminals, setting them up, being on the take – and they’ve been getting away with it for a long time. Then along comes clean-cut, glasses wearing Ed Exley (Guy Pearce), a man who is going to do things by the book. Then there is Bud White (Russell Crowe), a thug of a cop who does what he is told, but has a depth that he only exposes to his girlfriend, high-class prostitute Lynn Bracken (Kim Basinger). Several conspiracies start to come to light, exposed by or involving celebrity cop Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey), tabloid reporter Sid Hudgens (Danny DeVito) and the big police boss Dudley Smith (James Cromwell).

Watching this twenty years ago, I didn’t get why it was so loved and so respected. It’s got a lot going on, but I just couldn’t engage. I felt that way about it this time until about half an hour from the end – and then everything seemed to click. Now, a day later, parts are still popping into my mind. I can’t say that I loved the film, but I get it. And there is a lot to like and respect about it – very clever and interesting. Definitely worth it.

L.A. Confidential won Oscars for Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Kim Basinger) and Best Writing, Screenplay based on Material Previously Produced or Published (Brian Helgeland, Curtis Hanson) and was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director (Curtis Hanson), Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction-Set Direction, Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Music – Original Dramatic Score.

 

 

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Room (2015) Film Review

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Ma (Brie Larson) has been held in a room by a horrible man, Old Nick (Sean Bridgers), kept as a sex slave, for years. She has a son, Jack (Jacob Tremblay) who was born in Room – it is his whole world. All Ma wants to do is protect her son and leave. Jack doesn’t know that anything is wrong with the way they live. And then, finally, they get free… and they need to deal with the outside world, with reuniting with family, with the press and just everything.

The book was hard but wonderful, and this is an excellent interpretation. I think the performance of the young boy was particularly wonderful – not only in his little world, but coming into the real world. Heartbreaking.

Brie Larson won an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, and Room was nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Achievement in Directing (Lenny Abrahamson) and Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay (Emma Donoghue)

 

 

 

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Q&A vs Slumdog Millionaire

Q & A by Vikas Swarup – Book Review

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Just fabulous. If you don’t remember Slumdog Millionaire (the award-winning film based on this book) from a few years ago, the premise is pretty straight-forward. A Ram Mohammad Thomas from the poorest parts of India manages to get on to their equivalent of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and wins the whole way. But given that he has very limited education, the producers are suspicious and have Ram arrested and tortured. But, as he tells his story to a lawyer who appears to defend him, he doesn’t know very much, but events in his life have led him to know the answers to the questions which he is asked.

I can see how appealing it was to make a film from this – the story is simple but beautifully told, with a cinematic eye for detail, not too many characters, and it really is a great tale. It’s fun, at times tragic, at times hilarious. Absolutely worth getting your hands on.

 

Slumdog Millionaire – Film Review

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This is a really enjoyable film. The actors are great, especially the delightful children who play the youngest versions of the characters. The story from the book was written so perfectly for adaptation, and even though there was a lot of detail from the book that was lost or changed to ensure a film that lasted 90 minutes rather than 500 minutes.

There were just a couple of tiny things that I found somewhat disappointing. The key one was that, in the book, the lawyer who helps the poor boy when he is arrested and being tortured is a woman, and this is significant in the book. Yet, for no really clear good reason, in the film, this is a man. I am always going on about women in films and wondering why there are not more women in many roles – and here was a perfect role for a woman and it’s given to some guy. Ok, not just some guy, Irrfan Kahn, a well known and respected actor. Still. Disappointing.

Slumdog Millionaire won Oscars for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Achievement in Direction  (Danny Boyle) Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay, Best Achievement in Cinematography, Best Achievement in Film Editing, Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Picture – Original Score, Best Achievement for Music Written for Motion Picture – Original Song (Jai Ho) and Best Achievement in Sound Mixing, and was nominated for Best Achievement in Sound Editing and Best Achievement for Music Written for Motion Picture – Original Song (O Saya).

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Fargo (1996) Film Review

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Having recently watched the television series of Fargo, I wanted to go back and revisit this film. Set in small-town America, we have Jerry Lundegaard (William H Macy) arranging to have his wife, Jean (Kristin Rudrud) kidnapped to get the ransom from his rich father-in-law. The kidnappers: Carl (Steve Buscemi) and Gaear (Peter Stormare). But things don’t go great, and things are investigated by heavily pregnant cop Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand).

I love this film. It’s one of my favourites. It’s strange, sad, funny, odd, violent, wonderful, brilliant and I just loved it – I love it so very, very much, and will absolutely revisit regularly. Apparently, some people don’t get this film. I don’t get that.

Fargo won Oscars for Best Actress in a Leading Role (France McDormand) and Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen (Ethan Coen, Joel Coen) and was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Director, Best Cinematography and Best Film Editing.

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Capote (1959) Film Review

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Truman Capote (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is riding high his waves of success in New York, wooing the world with his humour and loving life. Then he hears about the murder of a Kansas family and decides to write a book about it. In real life, this is considered to be one of the first examples of a non-fiction novel – researching the men convicted and others. This film looks at the potential toll it took on Capote.

It’s an interesting film – the era is captured beautifully, including things like the difference between the high life in New York to the small town life in Kansas. It’s made me want to read the book again. I think I enjoyed it, though I wouldn’t be racing to see it again.

Capote won an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and was nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Catherine Keener), Best Achievement in Directing (Bennett Miller) and Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay (Dan Flutterman)

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