Tag Archive: academy awards


Real Steel (2011) Review

Set in the near future, 2020 to be exact, Reel Steel is set at a time where the world of pro-boxing has come to an end and has been replaced by the WRB (the World Robot Boxing League). Two robots slug it out in the ring, being controlled outside the ring by their owners with a sort of futuristic gaming controller.

Our protagonist is Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman). Charlie is a former human boxer, one that never quite fulfilled his potential it seems, who is trying to make money by entering his robot in unsolicited fights. After being told his ex-girlfriend has passed away, Charlie is reunited with his estranged son, Max Kenton (Dakota Goyo). A strained father-son relationship gets put through the its paces as the two bond over their interest in WRB, eventually resulting in a surprise shot at the title belt.

It takes a while to begin to like Charlie. As the protagonist he offers very little to the audience in way of liking him, other than the fact that it’s Hugh Jackman playing him; he is selfish, in serious debt to a handful of people, doesn’t really care about anyone and he runs away from his responsibilities. Cue a family film where a stubborn child teaches his father to be a better person. And that’s where the real star of the show comes into play. Dakota Goyo is making a pretty good child career for himself and with his bright eyed and bushy tailed looks and attitude it’s no real surprise. Goyo is great here and adds a lot of heart to Real Steel and watching his relationship with, not only his father but, the discarded robot Atom grow is really heartwarming.

The work on the special effects in Real Steel is really noticeable and was credited with a nomination for the Academy Award for Visual Effects (losing out to Hugo). Animatronic robots were actually built, combined with motion capture performance, to bring the robots to life and they look 100% real. Everything they do, the way they look, the way they move, is brilliant. Watching the robots go toe to toe in the ring is as exciting as watching any Hollywood fight ever made.

The plot follows a fairly simple path. Nothing new is really offered in terms of the mould of a family film but what Real Steel does is give a masterpiece in how to make a really magical family film. Yes, at it’s core is the world of robot boxing, but really Real Steel is a feel good story with human relations at its core. The characters are really worth investing in and the story really manages to reach out and touch the emotions of the audience.

Slightly predictable, but thoroughly enjoyable nonetheless!

My Rating: 7/10.

TWO DAYS LATER – I just re-watched Real Steel and I’m not going to change my rating but giving it the film a 7 I have done Real Steel a massive injustice! This is the latest addition to my ever-growing list of favourite films.

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I’m pleased to see Affleck getting the recognition he deserves as a director.

The Golden Globes took place last night and Argo was the hit of the night winning Best Drama and won Ben Affleck Best Director. This would suggest that Argo is now the favourite to pick up the Best Picture Oscar (it was already many people’s favourites and this will just strengthen arguments) but will that be the case?

Argo will face tough competition at the 85th Academy Awards from Les Miserables in particular which picked up the Best Musical or Comedy Golden Globe last night. I’m not sure why the Golden Globes feels the need to separate films into drama and musical/comedy but that’s what they do and they infer that Argo will be going head to head with Les Miserables. The cynic in me still thinks that something like Lincoln or Zero Dark Thirty will get the win thanks to their very strong pro-American vibes. Last year, The Descendants and The Artist were the winners of Best Motion Picture Golden Globes and The Artist went on to stuff its face with more and more awards in the following weeks, I can’t see the same happening for Argo to the same extent but I wouldn’t say an Oscar is beyond doubt.

However, Ben Affleck is not even nominated for Best Director at the Oscars! I think the Best Director Oscar is well up for grabs and any of the five nominees (Steven Spielberg, Ang Lee, Michael Haneke, David O. Russell, Benh Zeitlin) could easily win it. But surely it says something that the winner of the Golden Globe for direction is not even nominated for the Academy Award? Personally, I though Affleck’s direction was one of the best features of Argo!

Lawrence is one of the youngest actresses to be nominated for an Academy Award and the Golden Globes suggest this could be her year.

The Best Actor Oscar looks set to be between Hugh Jackman and Daniel Day-Lewis and these are the two people I would have been backing before last night. I do hope that Daniel Day-Lewis wins the Oscar as he is clearly one of the best actors that his generation has seen, and I would go so far as to say he will go down as one of the greatest of all time. Jennifer Lawrence and Jessica Chastain will compete for the Best Actress award and Lawrence is nailed on favourite so it’s hard to look past her for this one.

The rest of the Golden Globes correctly predict the winners for me: Christopher Waltz for Best Supporting Actor, Anne Hathaway for Best Supporting Actress, Adele to win for Best Original Song for Skyfall and Quentin Tarantino to win Best Screenplay.

In terms of the acting awards last year the Golden Globes were a certain prediction of the Oscar Awards but only time will tell if this year will follow suit.

Again, nothing seems to have really peaked my interest THAT much in the world of movies this week, other than the release of the brilliant Looper, of course.

First up, the best news of the week I think is the announcement that writer and actor Seth MacFarlane will be hosting the 85th Academy Awards, or the Oscars as the rest of us know them. In recent years the awards have opted for actors/actresses to host the ceremony so it is a nice change that a writer will be hosting it, meaning a lot of his material will be his own. Now this obviously becomes somewhat of a risk because MacFarlane is known for being pretty intense with his jokes and right on the border between what is acceptable and what is not (that line being crossed on more than one occasion). However, I am looking forward to his performance as I do think he is a very talented writer and he should be able to keep everyone entertained with ease. When James Franco co-hosted the Oscars in 2010 (alongside Anne Hathaway) he was nominated for Best Actor, I doubt that MacFarlane’s Ted will be winning anything though.

Also this week Fox announced that Mark Millar has been hired to oversee all of their current Marvel products, much in the same way that Joss Whedon is doing actually AT Marvel but probably to less effect in Millar’s case and to a lot less excitement. That being said, this is probably a good move because Millar has a history writing comic books for Marvel having contributed to X-Men comic books and the Civil War storyline. He clearly has an understanding of how comic books work and how the comic book should influence the movies (much like Whedon) and God knows Fox do need some help with their Marvel properties. Fox currently has X-Men: Days of Future Past and a Fantastic Four reboot in the pipeline.

In other Marvel related news (I don’t know if you can tell from my blog but I do love Marvel) there is more good news! The Amazing Spider-Man came out this year and was without a doubt the best film based on a Marvel property not made by Marvel Studios in a good few years! Part of this was down to the fact that Marc Webb was directing and Andrew Garfield was playing a role he suits down to the ground: Peter Parker. I had always assumed that Garfield would be returning for the sequel but directors are usually more touch and go with many directors leaving after one instalment. But this week the return of both Webb and Garfield was announced to a chorus of cheers.

UK Release Date: 11th January 2013.

Plot: Prisoner 24601, Jean Valjean, is released from prison and breaks parole to create a new life for himself while evading the grip of the persistent Inspector Javert. Set in early 19th-century France, the story reaches resolution against the background of the July Revolution of 1832.

Stars: Tom Hooper (director), Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Sacha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter… quite a few then.

Les Miserables, affectionately referred to as Les Mis, is one of the all time classic stage productions and musicals. It has been performed for years and won a string of awards in its time in the theatres; it is one of the most well known productions of our time and now comes to the cinema screens of Hollywood. I have seen a stage production of this as well as a school production and the story is great so I anticipate big things from the cast and crew of this film.

This is only a teaser trailer but everything about Les Miserables screams ‘oscar bait’. The timing of its release will not be coincidental by any stretch of the imagination, giving it perfect timing to be considered for awards season. Hooper won last years Oscar for best direction with The King’s Speech and there is no shortage of big hitters among the cast. It has been confirmed by Hooper that all the actors and actresses do their own singing and did it live on set so there is no dubbing over with vocals later on which will make Les Mis all the more authentic.

Musicals conjure up horrible thoughts usually in the mass audience but when done right amazing things can be achieved. The Les Mierables trailer doesn’t give much away in terms of plot but I think the trailer looks really good and gives a great idea of what to expect. I will certainly be very surprised if this movie gets ignored by the Academy Awards.

Thankfully, Les Miserables looks more ‘The Sound of Music‘ rather than ‘High School Musical‘.

Joel and Ethan Coen are very very recognisable names in the world of film making with almost all of their films achieving critical acclaim, the same can be said of Christopher Nolan and his occasional collaborator, the less famous brother Jonathan Nolan. There is no doubt that these two sets of brothers have a huge talent for film making and I think everyone has at least seen a film by each of them, if not count it among their favourite movies of all time.

The Coens are two of only seven directors to win three Oscars for one film.

The Coen brothers are the seasoned professionals of the two having been making movies since Blood Simple in 1984. Joel and Ethan are a perfect partnership; they write, produce, direct and edit all of their films together and rightly share joint credits in doing so. Their back catalogue of movies includes big hitters such as The Big Lebowski, Fargo, True Grit and No Country For Old Men; there aren’t many directors that can claim to have such a wealth of superb films in their locker.

The year is 1998: enter Christopher Nolan. Nolan first worked with his brother Jonathan on the absolutely fantastic Memento, adapted from Jonathan’s short story. Whilst not working together on every project like the Coen brothers Christopher and Jonathan Nolan have written The Dark Knight (often cited as one of the best films of all time), The Prestige and one of the most anticipated films of this year, The Dark Knight Rises, together. Some might say these films have enough about them to challenge the very best of the Coen brothers themselves.

The working partnership between the two brothers is obviously very different but there is no doubt that all four individuals have a huge love for the cinema and a passion to bring incredible films to huge, happy audiences. The films that the brothers make are also very different in themselves; the Nolan films, aside from Memento, are huge blockbusters with big budgets, whereas the Coen films are smaller scale, more intimate and more character related (something that Christopher Nolan might disagree with but this is my opinion).

The Nolans’ The Dark Knight is considered one of the all time greatest movies.

If we go by the highest accolade in film making, the Academy Awards we would believe that the Coens were the better of the two partnerships, racking up 33 Oscar nominations for their films collectively, winning six of them, including two for screenwriting and one for directing. The films written by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan have garnered 12 nominations, including two wins. However, with the Nolans having done only three films together it is highly likely that if they continue to work together their Oscar count will rise higher than the Coens’.

In my opinion, the experience that the Coen brothers have over the Nolans gives them the edge and I really believe that they make some of the best movies of our time, True Grit and No Country For Old Men being two of my favourites of theirs. Whilst the Nolans do make terrific films, there is no doubt about that, I feel that they still have a long way to go before being as good as the Coens but if they continue on the road they are on and continue to write films together than I have no doubt that they will surpass the directing duo that currently sits at the top of the tree.

One thing is for sure though, I will continue to enjoy the films made by the Nolans and the Coens for as long as they make movies. Film fans are lucky to have two such magnificent partnerships working today to create absolute works of art.

Okay, so from the title you might think that this is a ridiculous question to ask, but at least hear me out before you shoot me down.

Everybody knows that Robert Downey Jr. is a brilliant actor, his talent is undeniable. He has been nominated for two Oscars in his career already for Chaplin and Tropic Thunder and on top of that has received plenty of critical acclaim for his performance in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, his portrayal of legendary detective Sherlock Holmes and obviously Tony Stark himself.

I am aware that very few summer blockbuster type films get nominated for Oscars and even fewer comic book movies; The Dark Knight did not even get a nomination for the category of Best Film yet it is viewed by many to be one of the best of all time. However, Heath Ledger’s unforgettable performance as Joker did get the actor a posthumous win, possibly creating a pathway for comic book movies to be taken more seriously among the Academy Awards.

And comic book movies do not get much bigger than The Avengers. Lots of attention across the globe is being paid to this movie at the minute; the very best of Marvel’s superheroes brought together on the big screen at long last. And at the forefront of Marvel’s ambition and ability to carry out this master-plan of an interweaving universe between movies was Iron Man and the man  carrying that film, Robert Downey Jr.

Robert Downey Jr’s portrayal as Tony Stark/Iron Man is up there with the best comic book performances of all time without a doubt and even in the slightly slow paced and below par second film, Downey Jr’s performance was a joy to behold. Downey Jr is being used heavily by Marvel in their marketing campaign and will no doubt receive positive reviews for his performance once again.

From the trailers and clips that Marvel have so graciously allowed our eyes to lay upon, we can already tell that he is carrying off that same fun, charm and wit that we love Tony Stark for. It may only be a few clips but Downey Jr acts consistently and the enjoyment he gets from being Iron Man will not allow him to falter in his performance.

It is very early to be talking about Robert Downey Jr’s performance in The Avengers, of course, and even earlier to be talking about Oscar nominations and so forth, but it is something worth considering, I feel.

Below is the ‘Headcount’ clip from The Avengers which sees Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark in a verbal back and forth with the villain, Loki. Here, showcasing a little of the wit and style he brings to the role, is a little teaser of what to expect from everybody’s favourite billionaire playboy philanthropist.

 

And the Oscar goes to…

The Artist took home five golden statues

So that’s that. Last night the awards season came to an end with the 84th Academy Awards. Despite winning the award in three of the big five categories The Artist will have to share the honour of most Oscars won this year with Hugo; both films received five Oscars each. The only real controversy came from an obvious source, Sacha Baron Cohen, but ultimately the show was well received and Billy Crystal did an infinitely better performance as host than James Franco and Anne Hathaway last year.

There were no real surprises on the night in terms of winners; The Artist has been a huge success and has won awards wherever it has been. At the Oscars it took home Best Film, Best Original Score and Best Costume Design whilst Michel Hazanavicius won Best Director and Jean Dujardin won Best Actor for their efforts on the film. Meryl Streep unsurprisingly won the Best Actress Oscar for The Iron Lady and Christopher Plummer (Beginners) and Octavia Spencer (The Help) took home the awards for Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress respectively.

It was nice to see Rango win Best Animated Film although the competition in that category looked very weak compared to the 2011 awards which included Toy Story 3 and How to Train Your Dragon. The Muppets returned to the cinema this year and took home the Best Original Song award for their ‘Man or Muppet’ number. Perhaps the only surprise on the night, if you’re really looking for one, is that neither Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II or Rise of the Planet of the Apes took home the award for Best Visual Effects with Hugo winning instead.

Below is a full list of winners of the 84th Academy Awards:

Best Picture – The Artist

Best Director – Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)

Best Actor – Jean Dujardin (The Artist)

Best Actress – Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady)

Best Supporting Actor – Christopher Plummer (Beginners)

Best Supporting Actress – Octavia Spencer (The Help)

Original Screenplay – Midnight In Paris

Adapted Screenplay – The Descendants

Best Animated Feature – Rango

Best Foreign Language Film – A Separation

Best Original Score – The Artist

Best Original Song – The Muppets

Best Sound Editing – Hugo

Best Sound Mixing – Hugo

Best Art Direction – Hugo

Best Cinematography – Hugo

Best Make Up – The Iron Lady

Best Costume Design – The Artist

Best Film Editing – The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Best Visual Effects – Hugo

2012 Razzie Nominees Announced

What on Earth has happened to Adam Sandler?

With the Oscars just around the corner everbody in the movie industry has their eyes on the Academy Awards. However, this awards season, I am more bothered about the Golden Raspberries or the Razzies, as they are better known, which acknowledge the actors and films that are deemed the worst of the year. This year Adam Sandler has set a record at the Razzies with ELEVEN nominations. Here is the full list of nominations in the main categories and my predictions for the winners (or losers, however you see fit).

Worst Picture

Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star

Jack and Jill

New Year’s Eve

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part I

Whilst I would love to see Transformers or Twilight go home with the Worst Picture award as I cannot stand either of the two franchises I think Jack and Jill seems nailed on to win this, but it could face tough competition from Bucky Larson which managed to acheive an incredible 0% on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes.

Worst Actor

Russel Brand (Arthur)

Nicholas Cage (Drive Angry, Trespass and Season of the Witch)

Taylor Lautner (Abduction and Twilight)

Adam Sandler (Jack and Jill and Just Go With It)

Nick Swardson (Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star)

I can’t say I’m surprised to see any of these actors on the nominees shortlist but with all the negativity surrounding Adam Sandler over the past year it would be daft to put your money on anyone else.

Worst Actress

Martin Lawrence (Big Momma’s House: Like Father, Like Son)

Sarah Palin (Sarah Palin: The Undefeated)

Sarah Jessica Parker (I Don’t Know How She Does It and New Year’s Eve)

Adam Sandler (Jack and Jill)

Kristen Stewart (Twilight)

In true spirit of the Razzies two men are up for the worst actress award and one politician. It would not be unheard of for one of the men to win it but Kristen Stewart does seem to be a favourite of the Razzies making the nominees every year so I’m backing Kristen Stewart to win this one.

Worst Supporting Actor

Patrick Dempsey (Transformers: Dark of the Moon)

James Franco (Your Highness)

Ken Jeong (Big Momma’s House, Hangover Part 2, Transformers and Zookeeper)

Al Pacino (Jack and Jill)

Nick Swardson (Jack and Jill and Just Go With It)

There are a couple of big name actors on this list which is a shock. With all the horrible performances he has put in over the past year Ken Jeong seems nailed on to win this award. His main competition will be Al Pacino who’s cameo in Jack and Jill was critically panned. Although how Orlando Bloom managed to escape being nominated is beyond me.

Worst Supporting Actress

Katie Holmes (Jack and Jill)

Brandon T. Jackson (Big Momma’s House 3)

Nicole Kidman (Just Go With It)

David Spade (Jack and Jill)

Rosie Huntington-Whitely (Transformers 3)

I think this one will be going to Katie Holmes who is real Razzie bait. Unfortunately, I can see Rosie Huntington-Whitely being awarded with this too which I think would be unfair because she cannot have done any worse than the ‘actress’ she replaced, Megan Fox.

Worst Screen Ensemble

Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star

Jack and Jill

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

New Year’s Eve

Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn

Unfortunately, whilst I would be delighted to see Twilight take this award I think it is clear from the nominations in the other category that Jack and Jill will be taking this home. It looks as though Adam Sandler will have a lot of Razzies to throw away in a couple of months.

Worst Director

Michael Bay (Transformers: Dark of the Moon)

Tom Brady (Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star)

Bill Condon (Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn)

Dennis Dugan (Jack and Jill and Just Go With It)

Gerry Marshall (New Year’s Eve)

I will not be happy until Michael Bay wins a Worst Director award. Blowing things up a lot does not make for good directing. Quit. Seriously.

 

Whilst the Academy Awards attracts all the stars of Hollywood, the Razzies does not usually attract the big names. After all, who would want to accept an award which pans their performance? Sometimes, though, celebrities do turn up and in 2004 Halle Berry turned up to accept her award for Worst Actress for her performace in Catwoman. The speech was hilarious and Halle Berry gave a performance infinitely better than her acting in the film.

Enjoy.

 

With the 2012 Academy Awards just around the corner I thought I would take a look at five actors that do not have an Oscar but should.

Ed Norton.

Ed Norton is one of the best actors of his generation, consistently turning in top performances in all of his movies. Even when the script is not great (The Italian Job for example) you can still count on Norton to be fantastic. Nominated twice; best leading actor for American History X and best supporting actor for Primal Fear. Yet most surprising to me is that his work on Fight Club did not even gain him a nomination!

Johnny Depp.

Depp is one of the most famous men on the planet and even though today he is mainly thought of as Captain Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise he is undoubtedly one of the most versatile actors of his generation. Johnny Depp has been nominated three times, each in the leading actor category; Sweeney Todd, Finding Neverland and Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. Surely it is only a matter of time before Depp collects the Oscar that he deserves.

Steve Buscemi.

In recent years Steve Buscemi’s film career does seem to have tailed off into cameo slots and altogether not so great films and with him now working on television it is unlikely that we will see him picking up an Oscar anytime soon. However, the fact that he does not have one already is very surprising! He has given unforgettable performances in Fargo, Con Air and of course as the brilliant Mr Pink in Reservoir Dogs but the Academy has not even recognised him with a nomination.

Leonardo DiCaprio.

Nominated for three Oscars in his time: best leading actor for Blood Diamond and The Aviator and best supporting actor for What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. It is surprising to me that he does not have an Oscar yet and that he doesn’t have more nominations for The Departed, Shutter Island or Inception. DiCaprio started out as the heart throb of Hollywood but with a little help from Martin Scorsese and choosing his films carefully he has transformed into one of the best leading men working in Hollywood today. An Oscar is nothing more than he deserves.

Gary Oldman.

The 2012 Oscars have finally recognised this man’s talent with a nomination in the best leading actor category for British film Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Gary Oldman has been ever brilliant throughout his career. Best known to younger audiences as Commissioner Gordon in Christopher Nolan’s Batman series or as Sirius Black in Harry Potter but he has been a magnificent actor for so much longer, you just need to watch Sid and Nancy or JFK to see that. Good luck to him at the Oscars.