Category Archives: Oscar winning film

The Big Short (2015) Film Review

Set in the months leading up to the financial crash in the mid-2000s, The Big Short follows several characters who predicted what was going to happen and used their knowledge to do stuff. I know that sounds vague, but I actually watched this a while ago, and now cannot recall the ins and outs – I just know that watching it, I found it fascinating, and now I recall it being interesting, but I can’t recall the details. The good news is that I’ll be able to watch it again and find it interesting. What do I recall? Steve Carrell playing another weird and fabulous character. Brad Pitt playing another annoying holistic kind of character. Christian Bale being playing an intelligent weirdo. Don’t remember Ryan Gosling in it at all. Right, I am actually going to watch this film again and then finish this review.

Okay, so Christian Bale plays Michael Burry, an oddball character who does a whole heap of research and discovers a flaw in the financial world, relating to bad mortgages and trading on them (technical, technical stuff… blah blah). Then Ryan Gosling plays Jared Vennett, which pushes this on to Mark Baum (Steve Carrell). When Mark and his mates go out to investigate, they discover NINJA loans (no income, no job, no asset) which are being packaged with the genuinely AAA mortgages. Then there are a couple of young guys who get in on it and turn to a retired guy, Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt) which knows a lot about the market and is quite suspicious about what is going to happen to the world of finance. The film sets all of these guys up, and while I may not have understood it all, I knew that it was not good. But the film? That is good. Brain challenging movie.

The Big Short won an Oscar for Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay and was nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Christian Bale), Best Achievement in Directing (Adam McKay) and Best Achievement in Film Editing.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Film Reviews, Oscar nominated film, Oscar winning film

La La Land (2016) Film Review

There is a jazz musician, Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) who is a bit grumpy and dissatisfied with life. He makes a living playing wherever he can, with dreams of owning a jazz nightclub. Then there’s an actress, Mia (Emma Stone) who auditions and auditions and never gets through. They meet and fall in love, and then settle into a life that neither are totally happy with, and then have to figure out what to do. All whilst singing.

Yawn. I wanted to enjoy this. this felt like the kind of film that I should love. Songs, style, the fun-time combo of Gosling and Stone. Yet I felt no chemistry between the two, I found many of the musical numbers forced and the end should have been something that I loved. But I didn’t. What it did inspire in me was the interest at watching some good old Hollywood films with great dancing – some Ginger Rogers and the like.

La La Land won Oscars for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Emma Stone), Best Achievement in Directing (Damien Chazelle), Best Achievement in Cinematography, Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score), Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song) “City of Stars” and Best Achievement in Production Design and was nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Ryan Gosling), Best Original Screenplay, Best Achievement in Film Editing, Best Achievement in Costume Design, Best Achievement in Sound Mixing, Best Achievement in Sound Editing and Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song) “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)”.

Leave a comment

Filed under Film Reviews, Oscar nominated film, Oscar winning film

Rain Man (1988) Film Review

rain_man_poster

Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise) is a yuppie who is running some kind of a scam involving importing luxury cars or something (no idea – it was complex and had to be completed within a certain amount of time which caused Charlie much stress throughout) when his estranged father passes away. Expecting to inherit his father’s fortune, Charlie is left with a beautiful old car and little else. In tracing where the remaining money is going, Charlie discovers that he has an older brother who has been living in assisted care for decades. Raymond (Dustin Hoffman) is autistic and requires set routine. Charlie takes Raymond from the facility, thinking he can blackmail the lawyers into giving him money. But the road trip across the country ends up being more than just a physical journey.

This is really a great film. It’s a little obvious at times, but that’s fine. Hoffman is great as Raymond, and while at times, I felt that Charlie was making choices that weren’t really fitting with his personality, it all allowed both of the characters to grow. It is dated, but in a good way. I just really liked it.

Rain Man won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Lead Role (Dustin Hoffman), Best Director (Barry Levinson) and Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen. It was nominated for Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Film Editing, Best Music, Original Score.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Film Reviews, Oscar nominated film, Oscar winning film

Once (2007) Film Review

once_2006_filmposter

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)

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Film Reviews, Oscar nominated film, Oscar winning film

L.A. Confidential (1997) Film Review

la_confidential

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.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Film Reviews, Oscar nominated film, Oscar winning film

Room (2015) Film Review

mv5bmje4nzgznzewml5bml5banbnxkftztgwmtmzmde0nje-_v1_uy1200_cr9006301200_al_

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)

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Film Reviews, Oscar nominated film, Oscar winning film

Q&A vs Slumdog Millionaire

Q & A by Vikas Swarup – Book Review

ews20090503qa01

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

iptlevjmvag-movieposter

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).

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Film Reviews, Oscar nominated film, Oscar winning film