Podcast Against Type Episode 3: Oscars Part 3 of 5

We have just passed the halfway mark with this episode of Podcast Against Type’s Oscars observation. Today, I talk about the nominees for Best Visual Effects, Editing, Costume Design, Cinematography, and the highly competitive Best Actress categories. Which leading lady will take home the gold? Find out what I think here!

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Podcast Against Type Episode Two: Oscars part 2 of 5

Welcome back to the second episode of Podcast Against Type! In this Oscars episode, I look at the nominees for Best Sound Mixing and Editing, Best Original Score and Song, and the possible winner from the Best Actor category. Who do I think will win? Find out!

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Podcast Against Type Episode One: The Oscars (Part I of 5)

After years of inactivity, I have returned to my child named WhoCaresReviews. I have great ideas ahead for myself, and my reopening of WCR is part of those plans. After stints on other platforms, I will begin to reuse this space for more film related journalism as I once did.

To start things off, I am announcing that I have also made a new podcast show called Podcast Against Type. It will start off with five introductory episodes, and will continue every other Friday night. The first five episodes will cover every nomination category at the Academy Awards this year. Here is the first episode, that looks at Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay. Enjoy! It’s great to be back.

Episode One: Oscars Part One

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2013 BAFTAs

BAFTA

 

Before I start, I’d like to direct your attention to an excellent website that focuses on all forms of entertainment called Live in Limbo. It’s run by a friend of mine, and it’s well designed, well informed, and sleek in every sense of the word. Definitely check it out here!
http://www.liveinlimbo.com/

Now the BAFTAs are today and, possibly, even any moment now. They are the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, and they double as both the UK version of the Academy Awards (in terms of prestigiousness) and the Golden Globes (in terms of covering both movies and television shows).

We’ve got some good nominees this year, and let me stop yapping away so I can actually predict these winners before they actually win or lose. So let’s get started!

Best picture

Argo-It seems to be winning everything so far, and when a movie has such momentum in the awards season, there’s little chance for it to slow down.

Les Miserables
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Zero Dark Thirty

Best British film

Anna Karenina
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Les Miserables-Well, you know how this game goes. If a film is nominated for Best Picture, chances are it will dominate the smaller “Best Picture” categories, and this is one of them.
Seven Psychopaths
Skyfall

Best director

Ben Affleck, Argo-He was snubbed for an Academy Award nomination, but he will probably win it here (unless I am wrong, which could happen easily), because he’s gotten this award from, again, almost every other awards ceremony.
Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty
Michael Haneke, Amour
Ang Lee, Life of Pi
Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained

Best actor

Ben Affleck, Argo
Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln-I think it’s safe to say Daniel Day-Lewis is getting the award. Just look up Lincoln on wikipedia and try to prove otherwise at this point. It’s Daniel Plainview all over again!
Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master

Best actress

Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty-This year is tough when picking between Jennifer Lawrence and Jessica Chastain. I feel like it depends on the ceremony itself. The BAFTAs will take more kindly to Zero Dark Thirty, which is evident based on the amount of nominations it has (including Best Director), and the controversies didn’t hit that side of the pond. The movie itself seems more geared to what BAFTA voters would appreciate in terms of construct and content, but in the end that doesn’t solidify this win. You never know.
Marion Cotillard, Rust and Bone
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Helen Mirren, Hitchcock
Emmanuelle Riva, Amour

Best supporting actor

Alan Arkin, Argo
Javier Bardem, Skyfall
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln-This is the toughest category to predict this year. I will go with Mr. Lee Jones because, again, sometimes it is the kind of film that cements a win when the competition is so tight, and Lincoln is easily the most BAFTA approachable film here (despite 1] it being about an American president and 2] Skyfall being the BAFTA darling of the year). I’m still going with Tommy.
Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained

Best supporting actress

Amy Adams, The Master
Judi Dench, Skyfall
Sally Field, Lincoln
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables-The only other safe option of 2012, Anne Hathaway stole a movie she was barely in, and for good reason. I’d stick with this option, despite the incredible performances by everyone else nominated, especially Amy Adams and Sally Field. This one’s pretty much in the books already.
Helen Hunt, The Sessions

Best original screenplay

Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master
Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola, Moonrise Kingdom
Mark Boal Zero Dark Thirty-Foreign films tend to be nominated as a sign of recognition, but in a year where it isn’t a clear definite win, chances are it may not win (look at the brilliant A Separation last year), so Amour could win but I don’t know if it will. Django Unchained may, but chances are it’s another sign of recognition, and I’m not quite sure if it will beat some of the other categories. Moonrise Kingdom is also like Django Unchained in which the dialogue and writing is excellent, but will it surpass the depths of The Master and Zero Dark Thirty? My final pick goes to Zero Dark Thirty because of the push that movie is getting and the lack of promotion The Master has given.
Michael Haneke, Amour
Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained

Best adapted screenplay

Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Tony Kushner, Lincoln
David Magee, Life of Pi
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook-This too is a tight race, and I’ll give this one to O. Russell, because, yes, the other nominees were terrific, but Silver Linings Playbook was poetic in a literary sense. Life of Pi dominated visually. Beasts of the Southern Wild was immense socially. Lincoln was driving in a political sense. Argo was thrilling as pretty much all of the above. What puts Silver Linings Playbook just a few centimeters ahead, for me, is how down to earth and personal it is whilst being so well written.
Chris Terrio, Argo

Best foreign

Amour: Michael Haneke, Margaret Ménégoz-See what I wrote about the Best British Film. Also, I think it’s obvious at this point.
Headhunters: Morten Tyldum, Marianne Gray, Asle Vatn
The Hunt Thomas Vinterberg, Sisse Graum Jørgensen, Morten Kaufmann
Rust and Bone: Jacques Audiard, Pascal Caucheteux
Untouchable: Eric Toledano, Olivier Nakache, Nicolas Duval Adassovsky, Yann Zenou, Laurent Zeitoun

Best documentary

The Imposter: Bart Layton, Dimitri Doganis
Marley: Kevin Macdonald, Steve Bing, Charles Steel
McCullin: David Morris, Jacqui Morris
Searching for Sugar Man: Malik Bendjelloul, Simon Chinn- This movie has gotten a lot of buzz because of the connectivity this movie has with its audiences. It’s personal and relatable, as well as being informative.
West of Memphis: Amy Berg

Best animation

Brave: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman
Frankenweenie: Tim Burton- The fight in this category, from what I’ve seen, is between Frankenweenie and Wreck-It Ralph. Ralph appears to be absent from the game, so I’m going with the revival of Frankenweenie’s awards race.
ParaNorman: Sam Fell, Chris Butler

Best cinematography

Danny Cohen, Les Miserables
Roger Deakins, Skyfall
Janusz Kaminski, Lincoln
Seamus McGarvey, Anna Karenina
Claudio Miranda, Life of Pi-Not just because it was featured in 3-D, or because it’s possibly the best 3-D I’ve seen yet, but because the movie really plays with the visual inter-workings of a starving straggler’s mind out on sea with a tiger as a friend. The movie really takes advantage of what we see through Pi’s eyes. It’s too gorgeous to ignore.

Best editing

Stuart Baird, Skyfall
William Goldenberg, Argo-I’ll go with Argo because the final climax and opening scene were mostly engaging and nerve wracking because of how well the pacing was, and that, my friends, is what good editing can do. While Zero Dark Thirty is a close second, I felt like that was more based on atmosphere and established shots. Argo was made on the connection of these shots instead.
Fred Raskin, Django Unchained
Tim Squyres, Life of Pi
Dylan Tichenor, William Goldenberg, Zero Dark Thirty

Best production design

Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer: Anna Karenina
Eve Stewart, Anna Lynch-Robinson: Les Miserables-I have a feeling Les Miserables will dominate these kinds of categories, and rightfully so. The movie was great in these aspects.
David Gropman, Anna Pinnock: Life of Pi
Rick Carter, Jim Erickson: Lincoln
Dennis Gassner, Anna Pinnock: Skyfall

Best costume design

Jacqueline Durran, Anna Karenina
Beatrix Aruna Pasztor, Great Expectations
Paco Delgado, Les Miserables
Joanna Johnston, Lincoln-Having said that, Les Miserables did have great costumes, but Lincoln had pitch perfect costumes. Les Miserables was inventive with how people dressed, but Lincoln brought history to life in many ways, and the costumes were one of those ways. I’m going with Lincoln on this.
Colleen Atwood, Snow White and the Huntsman

Best make up and hair

Ivana Primorac, Anna Karenina
Julie Hewett, Martin Samuel, Howard Berger: Hitchcock
Peter Swords King, Richard Taylor, Rick Findlater: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Lisa Westcott, Les Miserables-I may go with Les Miserables here because of the many eccentric characters that were pieced together in the trailer behind the set. Also a lot of the grieving, wounded citizens during the duration of the film probably deserve some credit, don’t you think?
Lois Burwell, Kay Georgiou: Lincoln

Best sound

Mark Ulano, Michael Minkler, Tony Lamberti, Wylie Stateman: Django Unchained
Tony Johnson, Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges, Michael Semanick, Brent Burge, Chris Ward: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Simon Hayes, Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson, Jonathan Allen, Lee Walpole, John Warhurst: Les Miserables-It’s a musical that broke ground in terms of recording. I think it’s safe to go with this one.
Drew Kunin, Eugene Gearty, Philip Stockton, Ron Bartlett, D. M. Hemphill: Life of Pi
Stuart Wilson, Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell, Per Hallberg, Karen Baker Landers: Skyfall

Best original music

Dario Marianelli, Anna Karenina
Alexandre Desplat, Argo
Mychael Danna, Life of Pi-Danna seems to be doing well in the awards race, and I don’t see why that would stop anytime soon (unless Newman and Skyfall steals it from him).
John Williams, Lincoln
Thomas Newman, Skyfall

Best special visual effects

Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Peter Bebb, Andrew Lockley: The Dark Knight Rises
Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton, R. Christopher White: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Richard Stammers, Charley Henley, Trevor Wood, Paul Butterworth:Prometheus
Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer: Life of Pi-Prometheus was stunning, The Avengers was fun, The Hobbit was nostalgic and The Dark Knight Rises was epic. But Life of Pi made believe that a tiger was really there, amongst the many other incredible things going on. I’ll go with the wonders of a Richard Parker that was never really there for the most part.
Nominees TBC: Avengers Assemble

Best short animation

Here to Fall: Kris Kelly, Evelyn McGrath-I won’t lie I haven’t seen any of these, and Paperman is not here, so I’m going to guess. I hope you aren’t betting money with my picks!
I’m Fine Thanks: Eamonn O’Neill
The Making of Longbird: Will Anderson, Ainslie Henderson

Best short film

The Curse: Fyzal Boulifa, Gavin Humphries
Good Night: Muriel d’Ansembourg, Eva Sigurdardottir-The only one I’ve seen, so rightfully so, it’s the only one I can kind of pass judgement on, right? 
Swimmer: Lynne Ramsay, Peter Carlton, Diarmid Scrimshaw
Tumult: Johnny Barrington, Rhianna Andrews
The Voorman Problem: Mark Gill, Baldwin Li

Outstanding debut by a British writer, director or producer

Bart Layton (Director), Dimitri Doganis (Producer), The Imposter-This movie’s gotten a lot of publicity and praise, so I’m going to go with this one.
David Morris (Director), Jacqui Morris (Director/Producer), McCullin
Dexter Fletcher (Director/Writer), Danny King (Writer), Wild Bill
James Bobin (Director), The Muppets
Tina Gharavi (Director/Writer), I Am Nasrine

The EE Rising Star award (voted for by public)

Elizabeth Olsen
Andrea Riseborough
Suraj Sharma-This guy basically pulled off 127 Hours with a CGI tiger in a boat. I’m sorry. That’s pretty damn difficult to do. He’s already getting praise for his work and I can see many movies in store for him.
Juno Temple
Alicia Vikander

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Gangster Squad

gangster-squad-poster-has-a-b-movie-vibe-117331-1000-100                                                                  Rating: 2.8/10
Flashy? Definitely. Sexy? Unquestionably. Captivating? Not in the slightest. Gangster Squad is a visually thrilling film where you just want to see the next explosion Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) has or the next big shoot out. You strive to see the actors doing their jobs with finesse but even they cannot hide you from the problems this movie has. It’s been painted layer after layer after layer to try and hide the basic foundations that are supposed to be the structure of this movie. In the end, the structure that is there may as well have been made out of toothpicks. It’s so embarrassingly thin, and it’s a damn shame because the cast is absolutely terrific, the special effects are rather nice, the styles the movie has going for it are stunning and there is a nice constant pace to keep the movie going along.

He didn't take his divorce from Robin Wright too well...

He didn’t take his divorce from Robin Wright too well…

How can a movie with so much good in it be rated so low? How could such a promising film with such class and such pizazz be considered such a miss? There are two fundamental reasons as to why this movie misses the mark. The first reason is that the story just isn’t good enough. It’s so incredibly cliched and expected. Everything visually is above and beyond the story, and truth be told, it’s extremely noticeable. It’s almost as if the minds behind this movie came up with a great cast that would look and act like gangsters well and they knew it’d be thrilling, so they instantly tied it to a true story about a criminal and tossed the script out into the open to let the actors flock towards it and suddenly they had a movie. It seems like all of the thought went into the production and not the pre-production. The ending result could have been brilliant if they worked more on getting there. The trailer was so promising, and that’s exactly the problem. The trailer isn’t a full movie (obviously), and it can be reworked to take out all flaws of such a movie (again, obviously). With a movie like Gangster Squad whose only problem is the story, it’s almost virtually impossible to spot out a bad film from a trailer. Congratulations, you guys. You sold us a movie that may as well have been a cut out of a Lamborghini placed in front of a bicycle.

"If you don't have a shot in the next five to ten minutes, you're on your own."

“If you don’t have a shot in the next five to ten minutes, you’re on your own.”

But before we get into the biggest problem of the movie, let’s look at the good aspects of this movie. We have a well acted villain who is seemingly unstoppable because of his stature in society, despite the crimes he’s committed. We have an honest hero who only wants to do what is right (both lawfully and morally) who starts a team to bring down said criminal. That’s nice and all, and really remarkable. It’s nice to have a refreshing story like this.

Oh wait it isn’t refreshing. Well, perhaps in the larger picture it isn’t, but in this context, where the underdogs end up becoming the forces to reckon with themselves and suddenly the villain has to take action, it is a nice touch and it’s not something I’ve personally seen before.

Oh wait, yes I have.

Good lord when did Anthony Mackie turn into a white middle aged... whatever nationality Malone is?

Good lord when did Anthony Mackie turn into a white middle aged… whatever nationality Malone is?

The only time the story in Gangster Squad is remotely captivating is when it’s, let’s face it, pretty much stealing from Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables. You replace De Niro and Capone with Penn and Cohen. You replace Costner with Brolin. You replace The Untouchables (a title given to this group of underdogs by the media) with the Gangster Squad (a title given to this group of underdogs by the media). There are many more similarities (right down to a specific scene that is way too closely specific to be coincidental) but there’s no point. Once something is established as a rip off, it’s blatantly a rip off. You can go into the many other ways it’s stealing from something else or the many ways it is different in its own right. Once there are too many similarities for comfort, then the credibility is already lost and basically unsalvageable.

Now what you may be thinking is that both are based on true stories about their respective criminals (Al Capone and Mickey Cohen), which you’d be correct in thinking. If the stories are similar, technically it’s hard to avoid any similarities in the final product. Perhaps, apart from the fact that De Palma infamously included events that didn’t happen in real life (that were criticized by anyone relating to the real events) and, what a coincidence, Gangster Squad had them too (that specific scene I mentioned earlier being an example). Also, if the crew behind Gangster Squad were quick enough to get rid of a scene and reshoot it just to be as “violent” as the original (not my words, by the way), I think it’s safe to say that Gangster Squad isn’t entirely accurate either to begin with. I know this was to avoid the comparisons to the tragic shootings at the cinema during the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises, and I have to honour that, but it’s just an example I have to make explicit because of the flaws the movie has and how they are in fact inexcusable. I am not shaming them for working around a scene during a fragile time in the United States. I am shaming them for the blatant theft of another movie.

The new scene was, like, it was photoshopped or something.

The new scene was, like, it was photoshopped or something.

Whether you’ve seen The Untouchables or not, the movie is still flat by itself. It may even be kind of enjoyable if you are none the wiser of The Untouchables, which should be seen itself; It’s heartfelt, full of cheesy awkward lines that only add to the humanistic characters that somehow made a difference in the world, and it’s full of love for the original story and filmmaking. However, if you do find the “strong” parts that Gangster Squad steals from The Untouchables enjoyable, that’s your privilege and I wish I was in your shoes. I wish I liked this movie, but when it wasn’t stale, it was copied. The originality in this story barely speaks about anything, and when the movie has something to say, it includes footnotes from another, better, movie that already had its say in the film world and did a fine job with it. In the end, all style and no say makes Gangster Squad a dull film.

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Let’s Rant: Zero Dark Thirty Controversy

In a new video segment I have started called “Let’s Rant”, kind of like a Let’s Play but not even remotely, I will discuss current controversies and issues with films/movies. This isn’t to rant about bad movies. This is to rant about the industry or poor decisions or whatever I feel is necessary to discuss and alert people about.

My first Let’s Rant video will be about the recent want to boycott Zero Dark Thirty from winning any awards and here’s what I have to say about it.

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Les Misérables

leswpid-les-miserables-movie-poster-large                                                                    Rating: 7.3/10

Oh what an emotional treat this movie was. You could feel the happiness of the victorious fighters during the French Revolution. You felt the sadness for the fighters that straggled behind. You experienced life and death, all sung through song (only a handful of lines are actually spoken), and the music that carries the movie soars above everyone as they anchor it down through their acting. Two of the biggest surprises were Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway, and for different reasons. Jackman is known for being a talented Broadway actor, so it only seemed natural for him to star in a musical. However musical movies are not Broadway productions, and the nice thing is that Jackman realizes this. He caters to the movie audience, the audience that pays attention to small intricacies and to personal reflection; not the theatre audience that look for how one takes advantage of the stage and the auditorium. Jackman makes Jean Valjean a believable force on screen, although he seems to command both the very start and the very end of the movie. He is still quite moving in the middle of the movie, but his suffering as an ill prisoner is very hard to shake out of your mind, and thus the middle section acts as Valjean running away from his past.

"Mr., what is Van Helsing?" "Don't ask..."

“Mr., what is Van Helsing?” “Don’t ask…”

Hathaway, of whom has been bombarded with hatred and mockery for years now, is the real focal point of this film, though. All those years of the second Princes Diaries, her Oscar gig with James Franco, her accent in One Day, and even her recent nudity slip; gone. She never uses her real life pain to channel through to her performance of Fantine, either. No. This pain and anguish comes from somewhere else, somewhere otherworldly. It’s a rarity to see on screen, and it’s a shame that she seems to come and go because her suffering (and Jackman’s, too) are the highlights of the movie. You never quite feel the effects of the struggling French nation like you do with these two characters. You figured you’d feel the authority of France through Russel Crowe, but sadly that is not the case, as another emotion you will feel during this movie (in a few ways, not just with this character) is annoyance. His character feels like it was glued onto the reel and dubbed over the soundtrack. He feels like a non-diegetic cameo, almost. He is good at what he does, but in a completely different movie. When everyone else rumbles through their singing, Crowe instead cheers, and it is very unlike any of the other performances. It really is not his fault, either. I feel that there were some silly directing decisions, and this was one of them.

baron cohen and bonham carter

Combining Sweeney Todd with Alice in Wonderland wasn’t a good idea either.

Another case of bad directing meeting honest performances is with the comedic pair of Baron Cohen and Bonham Carter, who are hilarious and captivating. Now, the direction at fault here isn’t that of the director in this case, but rather that of the script, oddly enough. These characters had no saving graces. We laughed at them, sure, but we still disliked them as people. Every time they are on screen, you just know that someone will have to put up with their nuisances. They are just bad morally. That’s it. With the crimes committed by others, you can feel them second guessing and you can sense that they are only doing this to survive. Now, sure these two characters may have been that way before until they became comfortable with just being conniving and sly, but showing that transition would be lovely. Oh, speaking of transitions, there aren’t any visually.

Well they don't look too misera-okay I'll wait two minutes.

Well they don’t look too misera-okay I’ll wait two minutes.

The editing is beyond sloppy. It’s beyond choppy. It’s a categorical nightmare at times, even. The cinematography is actually stunning and brilliant, and I’ll be damned to call it some of the best of the year. I had my reason for not mentioning this earlier, though. It’s because you can barely enjoy it most of the time. Honestly, some of the best shots in the movie clock in under a second (or even half a second). This goes for almost every scene, and it’s a shame because this movie could have been ten times better with a chance to breathe, relax, and take in what we’re seeing. There are even moments where I had to actually think back as to what I just saw just to understand the purpose of that scene. I had to question what main characters were doing, and how we got from point a to point b. In a musical, where the music carries plot (especially this movie, where the majority of it is sung), you can’t have people trying to backtrack what is happening. You need to keep going forward and you need people to be along side you. When people are busy reflecting on the past or wondering what just happened, you lose your matching paces.

Fantine

I won’t even go into how much this brilliant scene stands out so early on

What helps, and is eventually the saving grace of this movie, is the music that ties everything together like a tapestry. Every scene feels like its own music video, so watching this film as a cohesive narrative may not benefit you so much. Watching this film as a visual, moving soundtrack is where you will get the most out of this movie. Watching the performances for what they convey and not necessarily how the story benefits from them will suffice, and it’s not as if the original story is weak. It is a classic work of literature. Will this movie be remembered as a classic? Sadly, it could have been. For now, it’s just a pretty good movie with some excellent qualities and some forgettable aspects and lastly some hindering moments. It is far from perfect but it is carried along by passion and by love; there is love for acting, for music and singing, for art and for Les Misérables. Many may love this movie, but I didn’t. Did I love the soundtrack? Undeniably. Did I love some of the performances? Without a doubt. The movie experimented a lot, and you can never shut down those who try something different even when they occasionally fall flat.

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