*NEW* WONDER WOMAN REVIEW *NEW*

The best DC movie yet. But is that saying a lot?

Superhero movie of the year? Or overhyped drivel?

Gal Gadot, be still my beating heart.

Before she was Wonder Woman, she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained warrior. When a pilot (Chris Pine) crashes and tells of conflict in the outside world, Diana leaves home to fight a war, discovering her full powers and true destiny.

The only interesting character in Batman Vs Superman. Bearing in mind; I had no idea who she was or what she was actually doing (and why for that matter?)

Now we finally get some answers. Sort of.

The best DC movie outing but that doesn’t say much.

The opening origin story with young Diana was entertaining enough.

I never read the DC comics and knew only a little of the TV show with Lynda Carter. I don’t remember all this God stuff BUT the writers even managed to make the Lasso of Truth a believable (and lethal) weapon.

The 300 style training montage with the glorious Greek goddesses kept things ticking over as Diana defied her mother’s wishes by training to fight.

Robin Wright (House of Cards) and Connie Nielsen (Gladiator) were both underused as Diana’s sparring mother and aunt. One desperate to see Diana reach her potential, the other weary of it.

It was a little cheesy BUT it hit the spot as Diana grew stronger. The truth about her abilities rearing its ugly head just as a WW1 plane crashes into their safe haven. Opening a whole new world for our heroine.

The film was injected with the right balance of humour and heart. Something sorely missed in the other DC efforts . . . So far.

One particular highlight involving Diana, clad with sword and shield, strolling through a department store perplexed at the “battle” attire women wear.

The WW1 setting was a perfect focal point for our heroine. The film delicately handled sexism and politics quite well as Diana demanded to know why women couldn’t fight, vote or speak.

Not bad for a superhero movie.

The 3D was disappointing and hardly worth the ticket price BUT the special effects and action pieces were superb.

The No-Man’s land battle sequence was fantastic.

The chemistry between Gadot and Pine was perfect. A great duo. Steve’s bewilderment and Diana’s defiant (if slightly naive) approach to achieving her objective was the glue that kept this piece together.

The banter and bubbling tension helped drudge the meandering pace (which tragically could have been cut by a good 20 minutes).

I loved the supporting cast. It was great to see Lucy Davis (The Office) back in the limelight. She was hilarious as Steve’s long suffering secretary. Diana’s reaction when she was told the purpose of a secretary was brilliant; “So you’re a slave?”

Of course, Diana and Steve couldn’t achieve their mission alone. They needed a rag tag team of misfits. Said Taghmaoui (American Hustle) was highly comical as Sameer.

I was elated to see ol’ Spud (Ewen Bremner -Trainspotting) as the drunk and disillusioned Charlie.

Eugene Brave Rock was a little weak as the poorly titled Chief. BUT he was nowhere near as weak as the villain.

Danny Huston (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) was dreadfully bland and not quite as sinister as I had hoped. Reduced to popping pills and gurning some serious faces. Shame.

Elena Anaya (The Skin I Live In) drew more chills as Dr Poison (A terrible name!) with her scar and scary mask.

The finale was drawn out. It felt like the Man of Steel; once you’ve seen one super being smash another through set piece after set piece, it soon got a little repetitive.

Plus it rushed to such an abrupt ending that I was left wanting. Good in one sense but bad in another.

The only problem was that from all the hype, I also expected something a little more.

I have nothing against a strong female character taking the helm and to adapt a dated 70s TV show and make some of the sillier aspects into something empowering and less farfetched was a great feat.

BUT the drawn out pace and plot holed story line hindered an exhilarating blockbuster.

I was left asking questions (POTENTIAL SPOILERS, maybe?); if the Amazonian island was shielded away from the world – why was Trevor’s plane the one to break through? Explain the other wars after WW1 if Wonder Woman’s mission was to stop the God of War? What was she doing for the next century? Surely not sitting in a museum?

BUT for all its flaws, WW was still entertaining, engaging (if a little long at the tooth) and DC’s best effort to date.

There might be some hope for them after all.

3.5/5 (Just)

*DON’T SIT THROUGH THE CREDITS – there are NO extras, teasers, NADA*

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*NEW* JOY REVIEW *NEW*

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I didn’t find much joy in this. A stellar turn from Lawrence did just enough to keep this mediocre mop yarn watchable.

Joy (Jennifer Lawrence) is the story of the title character, who rose to become founder and matriarch of a powerful family business dynasty.

A silly opening with a dated soap opera parody didn’t really set the tone or get things going for me. BUT it did give an indication of what to expect. An OTT, patchy and drawn out affair. Jennifer Lawrence was superb and this piece definitely proved one thing. She is one talented actress. She had the charm and presence to carry this biopic along.

The endless soap opera sequences were unnecessary. I could get the connection that Joy’s life was like a soap opera. The dream sequence in which Joy became part of the soap would have sufficed. The repetitive use of it just hampered things.

Desperate NOT to be like her reclusive mother (Virginia Madsen – Sideways). Shut away from the world and reduced to watching soaps in her room. Madsen did her best with the role BUT she wasn’t given enough screen time or depth to make a proper impression. And that silly little subplot with Jimmy Jean-Louis’ (Heroes) Haitian plumber didn’t help.

Bradley Cooper didn’t do too bad in his ridiculously small supporting role. He was able to make such a weak character watchable with his sheer enthusiasm. He even managed to make the history of QVC sound interesting. To be honest, I didn’t know anything about the origins of the renowned TV shopping channel. There were some good little tidbits.

The real problem for me was that all this drama was over a mop? It sounds bad when you say that Joy is a biopic about the woman who invented the miracle mop. Plus you can’t help BUT question how much of this was exaggerated and given the David O’ Russell treatment. As much as we felt for Joy’s struggle to be accepted for something more than just a housewife, there wasn’t much on offer.

It wasn’t all bad. There were some engaging moments and if Joy really went through that turmoil then I still wouldn’t believe it. The back stabbing from lawyers, suppliers, QVC and even her own family. There wasn’t enough of Elisabeth Rohm (American Hustle). She was very good as Joy’s conniving half sister. I wanted more of that. The green eyed monster desperate to bring Joy’s empire down from day one.

Robert De Niro was on scene stealing form as Joy’s obnoxious father. Arrogant, petulant, a monster. It was a shame that he was pushed into the background by the end after dominating the screen from the get go. Diane Ladd’s Mimi (Chinatown) was a little weak. She was nothing more than a narrator. BUT there were still some nice moments between her and Joy. The only rock in Joy’s hectic life.

Isabella Rossellini’s Trudy (Blue Velvet) got on my nerves. Not so much her performance BUT her character. The silly questions she grilled Joy with before investing was stupid. “Do you pick up the gun, Joy?” She picks up the gun, apparently. I’m sure the dialogue sounded better on paper.

There were so many different characters thrown into the mix and none of them were really developed or explored enough. Joy’s relationship with Tony (Edgar Ramirez – Point Break) had potential. Faring better as friends than they ever did married. Still standing by her side despite everything.

For every high and low, you were still rooting for Joy to succeed (Despite knowing the end result). Especially in the closing act when things came to a head. BUT it helped to have an engaging character and a great actress at the helm. However, I was still left a little disappointed. After all that build up, it just ended. I mean obviously there was only ever to be one outcome BUT it just rushed to tie in everything after throwing several random subplots that went nowhere. Shame.

Not O’Russell’s worst. I still enjoyed this a fraction more than American Hustle. Lawrence was on fine form. The supporting cast did their best. BUT the overlong pace and structure made this an uneven and dis-joy-nted piece.

3/5 (Just)

FOCUS REVIEW

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The Fresh Prince does an American Hustle and it’s just as you expect.

Watchable but hardly memorable.

The allure of Margot Robbie almost made me lose my critical focus and the fact that beneath its easy going and glossy surface, there isn’t a lot going on here.

So what’s it all about?

Well this is a story all about how Will’s life as a con man got turned right upside down. And I’d like to take a minute. Just sit right there. And I’ll tell you how he got jiggy with a girl from Neighbours.

Okay, the serious blurb now. In the midst of veteran con man Nicky’s (Smith) latest scheme, a woman (Robbie) from his past (now an accomplished femme fatale) shows up and throws his plans for a loop.

First thing’s first. The positives. And there are lot more than I anticipated.

Will Smith is still a charismatic actor and knows how to boss the silver screen.

Only mark against him; I’m still waiting for another movie soundtrack.

Paired up with the beautiful Margot Robbie, we have gold. They have fantastic chemistry and certainly keep things watchable.

Their inevitable pairing was easy going viewing. Smith’s experienced hustler taking Robbie’s rookie under his wing as he shows her the tricks of the trade.

His network of hustlers and pick pockets was cleverly put together and certainly left me paranoid as hell, leaving the screen.

I couldn’t believe that Brennan Brown was in this. Brennan Brown? You don’t know? Come on. The Orange Wednesday guy!

Here’s a reminder . . .

Not enough of him. His role was way too small. Adrian Martinez (Yeah, the fat dude from Piranha 3DD) was quite funny but the rude pick up lines with Robbie fell faster than a lead balloon. I wish more of his screen time was given to the Orange guy.

It certainly killed the time and I wasn’t bored. As you know from my recent reviews, I’ve been having a bad run.

I say a bad run. A bad run of terrible movies.

Focus was very much in the reins of Ocean’s Eleven. Stylish with a great cast. MINUS the clever hustle. Xavier Grobet’s cinematography was a sight to behold. Let alone, Margot Robbie. Sorry.

Hey, ladies you got Will.

The only problem with these sort of films is that when you’ve watched 8 series of BBC’s Hustle, there aren’t many surprises that can get past you.

There was never really an air of danger around the couple.

AND even when things seem to heat up and trouble seemed to look a little more intense than an Asian guy that can’t grow a tash properly (I’ll get to that in one moment), you’ve always got that little niggle in the back of your head saying; “There’s another play going on here”.

Of course, there always is.

It was fun and charming. There was a sequence in which I felt things spiced up and looked to head in a different direction. Shame, it didn’t.

Now, the tash reference. It’s established quite early on that Will’s character is a hefty gambler. His ego is challenged quite easily by a drunk Asian businessman during an American football match.

BD Wong played the role brilliantly. A cat playing with a trapped mouse. Goading Will so easily into making a big mistake. It’s just a shame I couldn’t take him seriously with those strange patches on his upper lip. I don’t know what they were. BUT it was not a moustache.

Anyway, I think there was only one twist 30-odd minutes into the film that did stop me rambling.

From that, I hoped the film might do something. BUT it didn’t. This is where it lost points because the route it took (Although entertaining enough) was predictable as hell.

I hoped Robbie’s character wasn’t so weak. She seemed so strong willed and independent to begin with BUT falls into Smith’s arms too easily.

No, seriously. Every other scene. And they have a thing about not closing bedroom doors. My friend was complaining about it.

That’s the problem. If we have time to pick at stuff like that, the film is not doing it’s job of keeping our attention.

Rodrigo Santoro actually played his part well. He didn’t annoy the hell out of me. And it was good to see him fully clothed and without demented gold piercings.

The spanner in Robbie and Smith’s inevitable love machine.

Gerald McRaney (The Best of Me) was irritating. His sarcastic rambling came off unfunny and I found his character very unlikeable. A shame considering what a talented actor he is.

The closing act certainly made things a little more interesting.

BUT the end result was so predictable and surprisingly (the only surprise) open.

Just the two for the two of them. They could have made it if they tried with a smarter hustle and better dialogue.

It’s watchable BUT memorable? Sorry guys, it needed a little more focus (Puts on shades and walks out door) on substance, story and suspense.

2.5/5

AMERICAN SNIPER REVIEW

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Has Bradley Cooper got that Oscar in his sights? Only one way to find out . . .

Clint Eastwood delivers a riveting, if overlong, war biopic on the most lethal sniper in US history.

Bradley Cooper in one word. Fantastic.

I have been impressed by his versatility and range. To be able to go from The Hangover to American Hustle. His performances continue to surprise. As does this one.

The 132 minute length does test you a little in parts but every time I felt my eyes wandering, there was a revelation or a battle sequence to bring me back into the action.

It’s not perfect by any means BUT certainly one of the better ones.

The cinematography by Tom Stern (a regular Eastwood stalwart) provided a grainy murkiness to the Iraqi war zone. The panning shots as we followed the troops through the labyrinthine cityscape (now an open battlefield) got me right in the thick of it.

I couldn’t believe how much Cooper looked like Chris Kyle. Bulking up for the role and delivering a dusky drawl. A deserved nomination.

A simple cowboy who decided one day to become a SEAL. There were moments where I felt the whole ‘Murica spiel was a little schmaltzy for me BUT hey, that’s the cynic talking. I respect the man for his patriotism and that’s what he was. A patriot. He wanted to fight for his country. People have fought for less. So make of that what you will.

It didn’t spoil or hamper the film for me. The first act zipped along quite well. The opening certainly grabs your attention with Kyle having to make a serious judgement call involving a young boy and a suspected weapon.

It flicks back and forth showing his life as a young boy, his days as a cowboy and his SEALs training. The training montage was covered extensively in the opening of Lone Survivor BUT it was good to see the cast go through the process.

To be honest, I was happy to see more of this. It zipped along a little too quickly. It didn’t really put Kyle’s father in the best light. A stern man who wants his sons to be sheepdogs NOT wolves. Yeah, that didn’t make sense to me in the film. Nothing a good belting won’t straighten out.

It certainly gave you a sense of the man Kyle would become but maybe a little bit more depth would have been better.

The sniper sequences were tense and riveting. Seeing it through the POV of Kyle’s scope was harrowing and brutal. Hardly original to the Call of Duty nuts but effective.

There were moments of horror and suspense. It certainly plays the ethics card. Split second decisions that could save or kill the unit. Decisions I couldn’t even imagine making. Some heart in mouth stuff.

The sandstorm sequence was exhilarating. Some would argue that it was shot terribly but that’s kind of the point. You couldn’t see a thing. You couldn’t tell who was your enemy and in an ambush?! Words fail me.

I felt Eastwood spent a little too much time on the unit dynamic with a supporting cast that for a majority of the time either kept changing or were hardly that memorable. This was where marks got knocked down. I know this is Kyle’s story but there aren’t many who get a look in, including his own wife.

Sienna Miller was very good as Taya Kyle. She had great chemistry with Cooper. I never rated Miller’s past roles; the sex pot. But we got to see some actual acting from the gal. She nailed the accent and played it really well. I would have liked to see more of her. (No, not like that. Acting wise. Honest!)

I wanted more of the family dynamic. The last act does focus on that which certainly hits home by the closing minutes. BUT (for example) I wanted a little more explanation on Kyle’s brother, Jeff. Someone who we followed, with Chris, for a good 30-40 minutes of the film who then disappears without a real reason.

You get a general idea of what happened by how Jeff acts after his first tour in Iraq BUT it would have been nice to see him again, a passing comment OR at least a mention in the closing credits.

You can see Kyle’s dedication soon become an obsession. The more tours he embarks on, the harder the strain on his family. It certainly doesn’t paint Kyle as the all American patriot. Intent on catching The Butcher (Mido Hamada) and a (free-running) sniper hell bent on claiming the bounty of the legendary sniper felt like a morbid competition.

I’m a little concerned that Hamada and Navid Negahban (Homeland) have become typecast in the terrorist roles. They both play them so well but still . . .

Kyle’s re-adjustment into civilian life was heartbreaking. Every little sound keeping him on edge. His inability to cope. It was captured well and was subtle in it’s approach. The legend around him taking its toll.

This is where I became more engrossed. The final 30 minutes unearthed more on the treatment of the returning veteran and allowed for some harrowing statements.

I felt the CGI left a little to be desired. Cooper superimposed on a bull and the deer really stuck out. Also, don’t let the fake baby put you off. If you’re thinking, “What?” and are not aware of this; there is a scene in which Cooper is supposed to be holding his daughter and it is the worst fake baby I’ve seen. BUT don’t let this little plastic prop spoil what was a well acted scene.

This may not be the best war film. It’s tough not to compare it to so many other classics BUT it hooked me for the majority of the time (A challenge in itself) and by the closing minutes it got to me. I don’t want to spoil the film too much because I want people to see this.

BUT now, I find my loyalties torn on the Best Actor category now. I have to agree after seeing the majority of the Oscar nominated pics (Whiplash this week! EXCITED!) that the right people have been chosen this time around (Tatum should have got a nod BUT that’s another review 😉

With all the Oscar excitement, Cooper has to ask himself one thing. Does he feel lucky? Well . . .

If my pick loses, then I wouldn’t complain if Cooper took his place.

A sterling performance from a fantastic actor and an engaging, if flawed, biopic makes this one worth taking a shot.

3.5/5

I, FRANKENSTEIN REVIEW

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I want my money back.

I can’t find the words. I can’t believe something that looked so good, could be so bad.

That’s 90 minutes of my life I’ll never get back. A dull, plot holed mess with a decent cast playing poorly written and stocky characters. The 3D was wasted on the fantastic set pieces. BUT that doesn’t excuse a bad movie.

Despite a reasonably watchable opening sequence, you can’t help but pick at the endless plot holes. Look, I know these sort of films were never going to win critical plaudits. And I went in hoping for big, dumb fun monster movie. BUT even as a B-movie, it struggles to intrigue or entertain.

As soon as I saw those five wonderful worlds, my heart dropped. “From the producers of Underworld”. Okay, I actually didn’t mind the first Underworld. Kate Beckinsale’s my Kryptonite. What can I say?

Anyway, I, Frankenstein throws us straight into the Creature’s “birth”/”rebirth” back in the 18th Century. It zips along quite well and skims straight through the familiar drivel. Creature hates inventor. Inventor chases after creature. Hunts creature down. Creature falls in ice. Realises he is immune to extreme temperatures and suddenly has incredible super strength. Wait, whaaaatt?

However, this is soon shoved aside for a mental creature combat sesh with funny looking demon things and gargoyles fighting over the Creature. The special effects are decent and the only thing I can commend is the action. BUT once Eckhart’s creature is picked up by the Gargoyle Order, my interest plummeted.

Now Aaron Eckhart (you may remember him as Two Face in The Dark Knight) is a very good actor BUT even his deadpan grimacing only made things worse. He delivers the lines with conviction. It’s just a shame that the lines were so bad. My personal favourite being, “I think your boss is a demon prince”.

Once he is abducted by the Gargoyle order led by their Queen (Mirando Otto – The Lord of The Rings), you soon realise the mess you’re about to sit through. She explains the plot in a swift minute that evil demons want to destroy mankind and they need the Creature or his inventor’s “How to Resurrect Dead Bodies” diary to help. Simples.

Nah, The Creature ain’t got time ‘fo dat. He hates everyone and everything. So it flashes forward 200 years. 200 years?! Really? Which means 20 mindless minutes of Adam (Oh yeah they call him Adam because he is the first of his kind. Nice touch) moping around and hiding. Until he decides, “I’ve had enough”.

Slays some gargs which was pretty good to watch. Blades flying, demons evaporating in flames, gargoyles grunting, more please! Only to get caught by the Order. Again.

Cue more cliched talking with our “loner hero” refusing to take the call and save the day. That and the endless to-and-fro of Adam being captured by the demons, then the gargoyles, then some scientists.

All I kept thinking to myself was they have Frankenstein’s book to resurrect the dead. So why do they need Adam? This must have been a flaw that the writer couldn’t decide on. He’s proof that the book works so we need him, right? Nah, kill him. No, wait! We do need him. Make up your mind!

The beautiful Yvonne Strahovski (Chuck) does a passable English accent. Better than Amy Adam’s Oscar nominated one in American Hustle anyway. She is completely wasted as a generic scientist thrown into the mix. There is zero chemistry between her and Eckhart. The only surprise after all the predictable luvvy duvvy guff was that they didn’t get together!    

Bill Nighy just “Nighy-ed” it up as the evil demon prince Naberius and when he transformed into his demon form . . . My God! He looked like Ivan Ooze. I couldn’t fight back the belly laughs.

Otto’s Gargoyle Queen was one of the most pointless characters going. All she does is pull blank faces and stare into space. Not to mention the repetitive one liners and unnecessary regurgitation of obvious plot points.

I could go on, but I’m exhausting myself. Jai Courtney (Terminator: Genisys) was terrible as the Gargoyle Queen’s protector, Gideon. All he did was pout and sulk. His character looked badass. BUT he’s not even allowed to intervene. The Queen gives him the key to everything. And he can’t use it. Come on! Even if it looked like an amazing battle axe. Nope, still can’t.

Also, the Gargoyles are supposed to fight in the shadows. Yet by the frantic finale, they are flying openly around in broad daylight. Hovering outside a public train station because no one will report it or take pictures on their phones, right?

Eckhart may have looked hench, but they didn’t bother sorting out his scars that magically reappeared at different areas of his face! This was a joke. If only, they played it out as one. It was far too serious for its own good. Even when the Creature tries to explain the situation to Strahovski’s scientist, you just cringe.

Dull, uninteresting, hilarious for all the wrong reasons. I hope a sequel is not in the works. If there is, god help us all!

1.5/5

12 YEARS A SLAVE REVIEW

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Harrowing, haunting, brutal, if a little overhyped. This is still one for your consideration.

It’s tough to commend the subject matter, but one can applaud it’s execution. Steve McQueen brings to life a visceral telling of an innocent man’s slavery. Chiwetel Ejiofor gives a rightly deserved Oscar nominated performance as the mesmerizing Solomon Northup.

12 Years follows Northup in Saratoga, New York, in 1841. It flashes back and forth from a slow burning opening sequence of Northup’s slavery to him being a free family man. The flashbacks reveal quite early that gifted violinist Northup is lured to Washington, D. C. by two entertainers, promising work. But after a night of carousing, Northup wakes up in chains and is sold into a life of slavery.

As the closing credits rolled, I couldn’t believe this account happened. McQueen has never been one to hold back the punches or shy away from taboo subjects such as hunger strikes (Hunger) and sex addiction (Shame). 12 Years makes no exception. Never afraid to keep the camera fixated on the action, lingering, building tension and horror, providing some of the most memorable, if hard hitting, scenes.

Performance wise, this film is exceptional with a plethora of talent and how Ejiofor could still stand out shows how good his performance really was. I was also surprised by Paul Dano’s turn as the conniving slave master. Intentionally going out of his way to aggravate Solomon. He continues to excel ever since Little Miss Sunshine. Appearing in numerous Oscar nominated features (There Will Be Blood and Prisoners). Personally, I felt he deserved a Best Supporting nod.

Benedict Cumberbatch nailed the Southern accent as kind hearted slave trader Ford, a man forced by the times to own slaves but desperately trying to give them the best that he can. Paul Giamatti and Brad Pitt delivered in their surprisingly small roles.

A good portion of the plaudits should be awarded to McQueen regular, Michael Fassbender. He was brilliant as the religious zealot Edwin Epps. He nailed the accent and stole every scene with his menacing presence. Sarah Poulsen was great as the ice cold Mistress Epps. I’ve been a fan of her for some time. Ever since her turn in American Horror Story: Asylum and Coven.

BUT Ejiofor, an underrated actor in my eyes, was finally given the platform and he excelled with aplomb. You really cared for the man and his breakdown in the closing moments was endearing and brilliantly acted.

However, at the same time, 12 Years A Slave is hardly perfect. Personally I couldn’t help but feel that Oscar hype raised too many expectations. McQueen’s greatest strength was also his weakness. The lingering shots, though haunting and engaging; at times were drawn out which heavily slackened the pace and tension of the piece.  

Despite certain scenes delivering uncomfortable viewing, it wasn’t as controversial or as brutal as the hype suggested. For those who have seen Roots, this particular story will seem all too familiar. 

And as the closing minutes drew, Fassbender’s Epps wasn’t actually as demented as he first presented himself. BUT this is still a well acted, brilliantly shot and visceral film that is worth a watch

3.5/5

STOP! OSCAR TIME. THE RANT . . . I mean nominations.

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Awards seasons is well and truly underway and of course the OSCARS are vastly approaching. The nominations are here at last. Granted, I’m a little behind. Hey, I’ve been busy. Plus it’s been good to see people’s reactions on the list. Now, it’s my turn.

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  • So first up, here are the nominees for BEST PICTURE; 12 YEARS A SLAVE, AMERICAN HUSTLE, CAPTAIN PHILLIPS, DALLAS BUYERS CLUB, GRAVITY, HER, NEBRASKA, PHILOMENA and THE WOLF OF WALL STREET. 

Mixed bag for me. Some of these riding on too much hype. Hype always helps in getting films noticed but these ones? Hmmm . . . personally, I feel that American Hustle and Captain Phillips do not deserve this nod. BEST PICTURE to me, means the best film in story, acting and . . . well everything. Both excelled as acting showcases but all in all, were both drawn out, long winded affairs that lost my interest through the halfway point. There is no need to make a film two to three hours unless the ends justifies the means. Now, Gravity is another over-hyped example. Deserves all the nods for visual and special effects but at it’s core, I personally felt the film died off when *SPOILER* Clooney did. In all fairness, he deserved a Best Supporting nod. He stole every scene. At Gravity’s core, however, is the same old predictable story of survival. I can’t believe I’m saying this but I had more enjoyment out of Armageddon! If she died, would have been a waste of time, so only one way it could go and it felt like an eternity not 90 minutes.

The others I have yet to see. The joys of being in a town where there are no independent or arthouse cinemas. BUT I have done my research. It’s great to see Nebraska and Philomena getting a nod. Philomena is a fantastic film, if unexpected nomination. However, these are definitely going to be the outside bets. Same applied for Dallas Buyers Club. Now, this is where my bias kicks in. Huge Scorsese fan! So I want Wolf of Wall Street to win. But I would say 12 Years A Slave will get this in the bag. The reaction has been a lot more united on this picture, while American Hustle and Gravity have torn people straight down the middle.

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  • Next, BEST DIRECTOR! And the nominess are; Alfonso Cuaron, GRAVITY, Steve McQueen, 12 YEARS A SLAVE, Alexander Payne, NEBRASKA, David O Russell, AMERICAN HUSTLE, Martin Scorsese, THE WOLF OF WALL STREET

Directors- not too much to say. You know who I want to win and frankly he has been ignored for too long. Scorsese finally got an Oscar but one of his weaker projects. Getting one for Wolf of Wall Street would rectify that. But I think it will be between Cuaron and McQueen. It should be McQueen but can’t help but feel Cuaron will nick something from all that astronomical hype (See what I did there).

  • BEST ACTOR – Christian Bale, AMERICAN HUSTLE, Bruce Dern, NEBRASKA, Leonardo DiCaprio, THE WOLF OF WALL STREET, Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 YEARS A SLAVE and Matthew McConaughey, DALLAS BUYERS CLUB

In all fairness, I wasn’t surprised that Tom Hanks didn’t get a nod for Captain Phillips. Tremendous actor that he is. He only really got the final 10 minutes to show why he has earned that reputation. It was a wasted platform for him. Christian Bale was a surprise. Powerhouse actor but I felt he was incredibly passive and to be honest I have seen him do much better. He should received this nod for The Machinist. A painfully drab film that was uplifted by his sheer performance. American Hustle not so much. In all fairness, I felt Idris Elba should have had one more for Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. A flawed biopic that was carried by his sheer gravitas. I mean, Denzel Washington got one for Flight and well . . . that was nothing special. Even Colin Firth should have received one for The Railway Man. The emotion he delivers through his expressions is worthy alone. However, Leonardo DiCaprio has excelled film after film. He deserved an award for Django Unchained and should so for the Wolf. People are saying this is his year but how many greats have not been acknowledged by this noble award ceremony? Should be DiCap but money’s on Ejiofor. Great to see him get recognised for the talent actor that he is and no, not just because he was in Kinky Boots (that was filmed in my hometown. NORTHAMPTON!).

  • BEST ACTRESS – Amy Adams, AMERICAN HUSTLE, Cate Blanchett, BLUE JASMINE, Sandra Bullock, GRAVITY, Judi Dench, PHILOMENA and Meryl Streep, AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY. 

Right, love Amy Adams and Sandra Bullock but Best Actress? No. Adams’ accents were irritating, especially her “English” one. Great performance but not Oscar worthy. Same for Bullock. She expressed and delivered all the emotions any one could feel in that situation but I struggled to keep up with the film. I mean Doubt was a slow-burner but I couldn’t stop watching because of Streep’s performance. Ironically, multi-Oscar winner Streep has been nominated yet again. Not undeservedly so. She may have done some duds, but no one can doubt her performances and abilities. Keeping in mind with my previous comments, an actress I couldn’t keep my eyes off (Not like that! Well a little) was Cate Blanchett. BJ (Come on! We’re better than that!) Blue Jasmine was a ‘GOOD BUT . . .’ film for me. BUT Blanchett’s performance was impeccable. I think she will win. I really want Judi Dench to win. A fantastic actress and her performance as Philomena was funny and endearing but the buzz is pointing to Mrs B. Also, where was Emma Thompson’s nomination for Saving Mr Banks?! Shocking. Can’t believe she got cut from the list.

  • BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – Barkhad Abdi, CAPTAIN PHILLIPS, Bradley Cooper, AMERICAN HUSTLE, Michael Fassbender, 12 YEARS A SLAVE, Jonah Hill, THE WOLF OF WALL STREET and Jared Leto, DALLAS BUYERS CLUB

Now firstly, not a bad selection. However, I do feel Hiroyuki Sanada should have a nod for The Railway Man. However, I’m not going to lie, I get confused with the release date period plus in the UK we seem to get everything a few months behind. Abdi was incredibly sinister and played the part well in Captain Phillips. I want Bradley Cooper to win. He has excelled since the Hangover and he stole the show, well almost, in American Hustle. That nod goes to someone else.  Money’s on Jared Leto who has been the dark horse and winning a few awards already for his performance.

  • BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – Sally Hawkins, BLUE JASMINE, Jennifer Lawrence, AMERICAN HUSTLE, Lupita Nyong’o, 12 YEARS A SLAVE, Julia Roberts, AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY and June Squibb, NEBRASKA

There can only be one for me in this group who managed to make a quite pointless character enjoyable and memorable and that is Jennifer Lawrence. It’s a shame because Sally Hawkins was very good in Blue Jasmine. Interesting that Julia Roberts is supporting? From the trailer, I assumed that the main storyline revolved around her character and Streep was the supporting role? Hmmm.

Now, the others. Harsh but these ones get rushed across or are previewed during the relentless red carpet coverage or all the advertisements. It’s infuriating because these awards are still important; a good script with a good story makes a huge difference. Editing, sound, cinematography helps create a film and make it more memorable. If the sound doesn’t match or the film looks too grainy, that’s it, you’re out of there but hey ho.

  • BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY – 12 Years a Slave, Before Midnight, Captain Phillips, Philomena and The Wolf of Wall Street

Money is on 12 YEARS A SLAVE!

  • BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY – American Hustle, Blue Jasmine, Dallas Buyers Club, Her and Nebraska

A tough one. All valid candidates for a change. Now, Alexander Payne is normally the king for nailing this so I would say Nebraska. But I feel O’Russell will lose out on the bigger fish and might just sneak this. However, Oscar nominee regular Mr. Woody Allen might fancy his chances. Tough call. Gutted that Kelly Marcel didn’t get the nod for  Saving Mr Banks.

  • BEST ANIMATED FEATURE – The Croods, Despicable Me 2, Ernest and Celestine, Frozen and The Wind Rises

Got to be between Frozen and Despicable Me 2. Now, I want Despicable Me 2! Minions all the way and if they could accept it either dressed as Minions or an animated acceptance speech, that would be great (In Office Space voice). However, Frozen would be more fitting of the Oscars though. Both enjoyable none the less.

  • BEST ANIMATED SHORT – Feral, Get a Horse!, Mr Hublot, Possessions and Room on the Broom

Money’s on Get a Horse! It’s Disney, John Lasseter produced, can’t see any others beating it. Feral as the outside bet possibly.

  • BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY – The Grandmaster, Gravity, Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska and Prisoners

Money’s on Gravity. As much as it may have been overhyped, one thing that can’t be argued is the look of it. Beautiful and stunning. However, Prisoners was shot fantastically as well. But Gravity, all the way.

  • BEST EDITING – 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club and Gravity

American Hustle, methinks. I feel the film will pull in what it can because it may fall short of it’s buzz. However, Greengrass’ projects of late have been commended for their editing. Gravity may miss out in place for the more visual awards.

  • BEST COSTUME DESIGN – 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, The Grandmaster, The Great Gatsby and The Invisible Woman

12 Years and American Hustle look outstanding in their design but there can be only one for it’s lavish and luscious costume and that goes to the Not-So-Great Gatsby.

  • BEST MAKE UP – Dallas Buyers Club, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, The Lone Ranger

Would be great to see Jackass to win for Knoxville’s make up but as it’s “Oscar season”, money on Dallas Buyers Club. Although strangers things have happened.

  • BEST MUSIC – The Book Thief, Gravity, Her, Philomena, Saving Mr Banks

May have cut short on everything but surely Saving Mr Banks will win this one?!

  • BEST SONG – ‘Alone Yet Not Alone’, Alone Yet Not Alone, ‘Happy’, Despicable Me 2, ‘Let It Go’, Frozen, ‘The Moon Song’, Her, ‘Ordinary Love’, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Would love Happy to win. I mean it’s been number one in the charts over here for how long? Plus it’s a TUNE. However, Disney are a tough competitor. But let’s not forget that fateful year when Amy Adams sang live two or three songs that were nominated for Enchanted. Only for the couple from Once to win. Only one nomination in the group. Also, Three Six Mafia (Who?) have got an Oscar. Haven’t done much since. Didn’t do much before. Just stayin’ fly, I suppose 😉 Still don’t remember them? John Stewart said what everybody was thinking at the time, “Three Six Mafia 1, Martin Scorsese 0”

  • BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN – 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Gravity, The Great Gatsby, Her

Toss up between Gravity and OK Gatsby (What? It weren’t that good. Nice to look at, though). Got to be the Gats.

  • BEST SOUND EDITING – All is Lost, Captain Phillips, Gravity, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Lone Survivor

Gravity or The Hobbit. I would say, The Hobbit will get one preciousssss

  • BEST SOUND MIXING – Captain Phillips, Gravity, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Inside Llewyn Davis, Lone Survivor

Inside Llewyn Davis might snag this one and hopefully avoid a complete snub. We shall see. If not, there is only one, preciousss because one film of this magnitude does not simply go to the Oscars and get one award.

  • BEST VISUAL EFFECTS – Gravity, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Iron Man 3, The Lone Ranger, Star Trek Into Darkness

Gravity. Sorry, oh Smaug, breathtaking beast that you are but you cannot match the beauty of the Earth. Star Trek, fantastic effects but alas, worse than that, it’s dead Jim.

The other nominations I am unfamiliar with and I don’t think it’s fair to comment. Plus not much buzz to go. Best documentary. I’d place my bets on The Act of Killing.

  • BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE – 20 Feet from Stardom, The Act of Killing, Cutie and the Boxer, Dirty Wars, The Square
  • BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT – Cavedigger, Facing Fear, Karama Has No Walls, The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life, Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall
  • BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM – The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium), The Great Beauty (Italy), The Hunt (Denmark), The Missing Picture (Cambodia), Omar (Palestine)
  • BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT – Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me), Avant Que de Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything), Helium, Pitaako Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?), The Voorman Problem

A breakdown will down later on, with my Oscar checklist and bets, plus more buzz on the later categories. And let’s see how many on the Oscar lotto I can get. Such fun! Plus Dory’s back! Expect selfies. Run Spielberg Run!