Friday, February 24, 2017

Oscar Thoughts / Predictions 2017

  The night of stars, the big showdown of kino (or said to be kino) is here once again.  As usual, here's my predictions, and wants for what I view as my categories of most interest. Let's begin:

Best Picture

* Arrival – Shawn Levy, Dan Levine, Aaron Ryder, and David Linde
Fences – Scott Rudin, Denzel Washington, and Todd Black
Hacksaw Ridge – Bill Mechanic and David Permut
Hell or High Water – Carla Hacken and Julie Yorn
Hidden Figures – Donna Gigliotti, Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping, Pharrell Williams, and Theodore Melfi
La La Land – Fred Berger, Jordan Horowitz, and Marc Platt
Lion – Emile Sherman, Iain Canning, and Angie Fielder
Manchester by the Sea – Matt Damon, Kimberly Steward, Chris Moore, Lauren Beck, and Kevin J. Walsh
Moonlight – Adele Romanski, Dede Gardner, and Jeremy Kleiner

 Who I predict:  This one is a tough toss up, some good films that have done well in various circuits, tossed together here. La La Land has the most nominations here, but most likely fights against Moonlight for also big on the scene. I could see a Hidden Figures, Fences, Manchester by the Sea, or Hacksaw Ridge all most contend for this too.

Who I want: La La Land, my favorite for what I have seen. Arrival would be shockingly cool as well

 Best Director:
* Denis Villeneuve – Arrival
Mel Gibson – Hacksaw Ridge
Damien Chazelle – La La Land
Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea
Barry Jenkins – Moonlight

Who I predict: Most likely Chazelle or Jenkins due to their other nominations.

Who I want: Chazelle, the magic touch.

Best Actor:
*Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea as Lee Chandler
Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge as Desmond T. Doss
Ryan Gosling – La La Land as Sebastian Wilder
Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic as Ben Cash
Denzel Washington – Fences as Troy Maxson

Who I predict: This is a tough one, one would predict Gosling or Denzel for their other categories, but also I could see Garfield being a Academy leader, or Affleck. Almost a tie ..

Who I want: Andrew Garfield so we can pretend it was for Silence

Best Actress
* Isabelle Huppert – Elle as Michèle Leblanc
Ruth Negga – Loving as Mildred Loving
Natalie Portman – Jackie as Jackie Kennedy
Emma Stone – La La Land as Mia Dolan
Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins as Florence Foster Jenkins

Who I predict: I am not too sure, havent seen most of these top contenders in general. Stone for best picture ? Portman..a vibe? Streep?

Who I want: Heck I'll choose... Negga, since people are surprised to see nominated and itd be a big step for agents of shield cast members. And of course Stone for the star of La La Land.

Best Supporting Actor

*Mahershala Ali – Moonlight as Juan
Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water as Marcus Hamilton
Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea as Patrick Chandler
Dev Patel – Lion as Saroo Brierley
Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals as Detective Bobby Andes

Who I predict: Mahershala Ali or Jeff Bridges, heaviest hitters

Who I want: I haven't see Moonlight but Ali seems like a shining part of it. All the others are ones I greatly respect as well.

Best Supporting Actress
* Viola Davis – Fences as Rose Maxson
Naomie Harris – Moonlight as Paula
Nicole Kidman – Lion as Sue Brierley
Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures as Dorothy Vaughan
Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea as Randi

Who I predict: If Moonlight's entry in SA was strong, here even stronger.. I predict Harris, rivaled by Viola Davis.

Who I want: Viola Davis would be nice .

Best Animated Feature Film
* Kubo and the Two Strings – Travis Knight and Arianne Sutner
Moana – John Musker, Ron Clements, and Osnat Shurer
My Life as a Zucchini – Claude Barras and Max Karli
The Red Turtle – Michaël Dudok de Wit and Toshio Suzuki
Zootopia – Byron Howard, Rich Moore, and Clark Spencer

Who I predict: Zootopia, the strongest of Disney fighting itself but also the highest previous critical praise.

Who I want: Kubo, give Laika a award finally please. Or The Red Turtle for a return of Ghibli

Best Original Score
*Jackie – Mica Levi
La La Land – Justin Hurwitz
Lion – Dustin O'Halloran and Hauschka
Moonlight – Nicholas Britell
Passengers – Thomas Newman

Who I predict: La La Land

Who I want: La La Land

Best Visual Effects
*Deepwater Horizon – Craig Hammack, Jason Snell, Jason Billington, and Burt Dalton
Doctor Strange – Stephane Ceretti, Richard Bluff, Vincent Cirelli, and Paul Corbould
The Jungle Book – Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones, and Dan Lemmon
Kubo and the Two Strings – Steve Emerson, Oliver Jones, Brian McLean, and Brad Schiff
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – John Knoll, Mohen Leo, Hal Hickel, and Neil Corbould

Who I predict: The Jungle Book, most signs point. Although I could see Strange being Marvel's first win in a long time..

Who I want: Always have to cheer for Star Wars ! Although equally, Strange.

We shall see what happens on this intense night... tune in Sunday the 26th at 7:30pm cst for results.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Lego Batman Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie
Director : Chris McKay
Cast Headliners : Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Zach Galifiankis, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes
Original Release Date : February 10, 2017

   2014's The Lego Movie was something quite special. One most likely knows the toy brand, but could one have imagined it was a genre mixing, laugh and meaning filled adventure in the making ? One of the best pieces was THE Batman , so it's with great delight and logical sense he gets his own spinoff film.

    Focusing for the most part on a Lego version of comics  classic Gotham City , the movie opens up with some great 4th wall breaking to show us the life of Batman (Will Arnett ). In a crazy fun opening part , Batman takes down a mega alliance of villians lead by the Joker (Zach Galifiankis)  to save the city. It's through the wild, zany, extreme lense one would want .

   But soon we see the life of Batman may not be all its cracked up to be. The movie greatly excels in these quiet moments as it does the action mania . To see Batman watch movies, make food, practice guitar is comedic gold.
     Soon his lonely existence is joined by others , such as introducing a young Robin (Michael Cera ) and Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson ).
     For film the whole family can enjoy, it's actually got some nice messages about relationships. Between friends , between enemies, between families. Arnett's Bruce Wayne is as great in battle, being crazy, or his interplay with his peers. Cera's Robin is charming and goofy . Dawson's Gordon, fierce . When these are teamed with each other, especially with the butler Alfred (Ralph Fiennes ) the smiles and laughs are off the chart.
  This team up aspect is fun too with the evil side. Zach G's Joker is still evil but also effectly has a bit of feeling bad aspect to him. It's fun to see him interact with a massive stable from famous to obscure of DC characters, such as Harley Quinn, Two Face, Bane and more . Since this is a Lego film, even more join the fun.

  That same craft is evident from the visuals to action . One knows what to expect, and it's a fun batride. 8.71 out of 10

Thursday, February 2, 2017

XXX: Return of Xander Cage Review

XXX: Return of Xander Cage
Director: DJ Caruso
Cast Headliners: Vin Diesel, Samuel L Jackson, Donnie Yen, others
Original Release Date: January 20, 2017

     The XXX franchise has never been one for being good in a manner of quality. Nor has it been one for any kind of subtlety. Much like Vin Diesel's other main franchises in Fast and the Furious and Riddick, it excels when it s going as crazy as it can. The same applies here and this time with the right star in place since Xander Cage was the “best” hero for this series that he deserves mention in the title. Sorry Ice Cube but you'll have to (apparently) step aside. Xander is back to the Zone.
The movie starts with something big involving Agent Gibbons(Samuel L Jackson, once again at his usual decent role in something that's always been a sort of prototypical version of Nick Fury) and one of the many smaller cameo roles in Neymar as himself. It's up to Xander Cage(Vin Diesel) to come out of retirement and save the world. Sounds familiar. In many ways it's very much like the same formula as the last two but particularly the first. It drops plots from being too deep in exchange for crazy fights and varying range of humorous quips.
The film essentially boils down to a tale of two rival agent teams (ala Fast 6). The movie attempts to give Xander his own “Suicide Squad”, replete with derivative introduction scenes and colorful freeze frame biographies. Xander takes lead, always the likable protagonist with his edgy tough guy , slightly humorous attitude and the return of the big fur coat. This is why they brought back Diesel, because it's hard not to like him as any (of his many similar) hero roles. On his side he's got strict leader Agent Marke(Toni Collette who does nothing too special) , wisecracking sniper Adele(Ruby Rose), youthful DJ Nicks(Kris Wu), stunt driver Tennyson (Game Of Throne's The Hound actor Rory McCann, always decent), and “comic relief” tech master Becky(Nina Doberev, a low point). This increased ensemble of characters gives Xander more to play off of and expands the scope of action, and leads to some banter and mixed range of humor. But no one quite leaves an impression as Diesel's trademark Xander.
On the enemy team, there's the fierce woman Serena(Deepika Padukone), brutish Hawk(athlete Michael Bisping), wacky jumper Talon(Tony Jaa), and the main foe Xiang(Donnie Yen). It's great to see Donnie Yen appearing in American blockbusters, as he brings a crazy action and humor presence to rival Diesel's. If anything he's just slightly underutilized.
So while the characters, plot, script and all the expected are cheesy as heck as one would expect (and it runs really long at times too, with plot holes) one can't deny the action and excitement. Director DJ Caruso is a great choice as he brings in a decent competency from things such as Disturbia and Eagle Eye. The movie brought back Xander and it's also brought back its increased use of crazy techno and rock music along with “extreme sports”. The action scenes , when they do pop up semi-often through the “witty” dialogue slog are great. There's some cheesily insane things done from skiing through jungles to riding transforming motorcycles over the water. There's zero-gravity kung fu, there's fist-fights in the middle of rush hour traffic. The variety is impressive.

It's the kind of film that if one turns their brain off and likes the players involved that makes for decent dumb fun. It's not a high bar to pass, but it's likely the best XXX to date. It's script and pacing holds it back from the best of FnF, but it's good to have the good elements back and leaves it for a possibly interesting place in the future. 7.1 out of 10