Tag Archive: best actor


Flight marks Robert Zemeckis’ (of Back to the Future fame) return to live action directing after only working on animation/CGI projects since Cast Away in 2000. As he is most famously known for light hearted projects such as Back to the Future, Polar Express and A Christmas Carol Zemeckis may seem like an odd choice for such a deep story with several difficult and challenging themes to tackle, so would he be able to rise to the challenge?

Denzel Washington is Captain William ‘Whip’ Whitaker, a well known and well respected airline pilot. When his latest flight goes awry Whitaker is forced to make a drastic choice and crash the plane into an empty field, managing to save many lives; from this tragedy Whitaker becomes known as a hero. However, an investigation into the malfunctions of the flight reveal that all may not be as it seems.

There’s nothing I can say about Denzel Washington’s performance that you wouldn’t expect anyway. He is absolutely flawless as the tragic airline captain and is so enthralling in his performance that you can’t take your eyes off him. Right from the beginning Washington draws you into his character and slowly peels away layers and layers of Whip, allowing for a close examination of his character and all of his vices. While not always likeable there isn’t a moment where you want him to leave the screen because the character is full of complexities and conflict and incredibly well written.

And speaking of the writing, Flight is easily the best film I have seen this year in terms of its writing and storytelling and is one of the best written films I have seen in my life. This isn’t a film that is driven by action and there isn’t a lot of action scenes that crop up after the plane crash but that doesn’t matter. Wasington’s character is superbly well written as I mentioned above but so is Nicole (played by Kelly Reilly) who ends up being a wonderful treat really despite the fact I did not have a clue where her story was going or who she was when she first turned up. But then when this was revealed it made it even better. And there is one subtle scene where the plane is coming down over the house of Nicole as she is being pulled away by paramedics which I thought was understated but beautiful.

The wonderful acting is not limited to Washington alone. In a cast that features the likes of Kelly Reilly, Don Cheadle, John Goodman, Brian Geraghty and Bruce Greenwood it’s impossible to expect anything less. Every member of the cast does more than hold their own with John Goodman and one line from Greenwood in particular providing some much needed laughs into a drama heavy production. Goodman’s brief appearances are a joy to behold and while I would have liked to have seen more of him it is probably for the best that he came in small doses.

The filming of the crash is superb. The in-depth analysis of the characters is fantastic and how it deals with the aftermath of such a tragic event is really well done. Flight is absolutely superb, a fantastic piece of drama. Unfortunately for Washington he is in a very tough category in terms of Best Actor at the Oscars and the script probably won’t win Best Screenplay but it has my vote!

My Rating: 8/10.

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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.

Leonardo DiCaprio is undoubtedly one of the best and most versatile actors working today, if not one of the best of all time. He is one of my favourite actors which is obvious to anyone who knows me seeing as how I own almost all of his films on DVD and have watched them all numerous times. But ever since I first watched Blood Diamond it has been, not only my favourite performance by DiCaprio but also, one of my favourite films and I genuinely believe it is one of the greatest films ever made, despite not being received incredibly well by critics (perhaps due to the source material).

Blood Diamond is a story of three very different characters and how their lives and journeys merge together because of the illegal diamond smuggling industry coming out of countries like Sierra Leone (where the film is set) and being financed by a (fictional) company named Van de Kamp back in London, England. The movie is described as a political war thriller and features several political strands, the title itself is an obvious reference to the name given to the diamonds that are sourced from war torn African countries which are sold to finance the conflict. There is also the prominence of children being forced to become soldiers in these war torn countries too. Blood Diamond was set during the Sierra Leone Civil War between 1996-2001 and released in 2006, yet these problems still exist in some African countries which makes the film just as relevant today and the issues it brings to the forefront of your mind even more relevant because nothing has really changed. But despite being a politically fuelled film I don’t believe that Blood Diamond rams issues down your throat and force feeds you opinions because at the heart of it is a very convincing and very entertaining, in the most dramatic sense, trio of heroes.

Leonardo DiCaprio is absolutely phenomenal as Danny Archer, a former mercenary turned diamond smuggler, and upon release of Blood Diamond he received a huge amount of praise for his authentic South African accent. Archer is the anti-hero, yes he helps Solomon find his family but only because of his own motives to retrieve the huge pink diamond Solomon found, steal it, sell it and get away from the conflict to live a very rich and extensive lifestyle elsewhere. DiCaprio was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor for the film. His co-star, Djimon Hounsou who plays Solomon Vandy, a fisherman captured by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and forced to work to find diamonds while his family go on the run, his son later being captured and forced to become a deadly warrior. Hounsou got the nod at the Oscars for Best Supporting Actor but I would argue that here Vandy is the main character and it is not DiCaprio’s Archer because it is Vandy we get to know first and it is his story that we care about. Hounsou’s emotionally fuelled performance is one of the best I’ve seen and he really was terrific! Finally Jennifer Connelly completes the trio and she plays Maddy Bowen, a journalist who is trying to expose the illegal conflict diamond trade and change things. Her crush on Danny Archer is mutual and they help each other out a lot throughout the film. Bowen actually helps the character development of Danny Archer; their romantic subplot does not seem forced and thankfully there isn’t a ridiculously placed kiss before Archer leaves just to keep Hollywood happy. The development that Archer goes through over the course of Blood Diamond is a really brilliant arc: in the beginning he is a man out for himself just wanting to make money, but as the film goes on he eventually turns into the guy willing to sacrifice himself so that his new friend (Vandy) can escape with his son and change his life as well as many others too. The relationship between Archer and Vandy is really interesting to watch and grabs your attention right form their first meeting.

The action is fantastic and David Harewood is brilliant as the warlord Captain Poison. For a man who spent most of his career working on British television series’ including Casualty, The Bill, Doctor Who and Hustle it really is quite an exceptional role that he got and a performance that matches those of DiCaprio and Hounsou. But the highlight of the film for me is when Solomon Vandy is reunited with his son Dia. What should be an incredibly happy and joyous moment is taken in a completely different direction by Blood Diamond and it was fantastic to watch. You’re wondering what is going to happen since Dia has been brainwashed into a cold hearted killer but the moment they reunite is beautifully written and is a masterpiece of acting.

Blood Diamond may not have been the most well received film but it is definitely one of my favourites and no doubt always will be. The storyline, the characters, the acting is perfect. I cannot recommend Blood Diamond highly enough!

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.

 

Upon release in 2009, Up in the Air was subject to huge critical acclaim. It was named in many critics’ top 10 list of films for that year and nominated for 6 Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress (x2) and Best Adapted Screenplay. Unfortunately, it failed to win in any of those categories.

*** WARNING: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS ***

The film centres around Ryan Bingham (George Clooney), a corporate downsizer who flies around the United States firing people for a living. We travel with Ryan and learn of his isolated life and his philosophies until his company threatens to ruin the happy life he leads by putting him on the ground.

Firstly, George Clooney is incredible. He has won one Best Actor Oscar (Syriana) and been nominated for three more (including Up in the Air) but I think that Up in the Air is the best I have ever seen him; he brings the character to life and allows the audience to feel how he feels. The supporting cast is just as good; Vera Farmiga (pictured) is great as is Ryan Bingham’s protege, if you like, Anna Kendrick. Then there are smaller, but still brilliant, appearances from Jason Bateman, Zach Galifianakis, J.K. Simmons and Danny McBride to complete a superb acting cast.

Up in the Air is directed by Jason Reitman who is no stranger to critical acclaim with Thank You for Smoking and Juno both under his belt. I wasn’t a big fan of Juno but Reitman has won me round with this masterpiece.

The story is fantastic; it has a strong structure and a complete story arc. The characters really do develop and it is clear to see the three main characters changing over the course of the film. The character development of Ryan Bingham in particular is really good and he is up there with some of my favourite characters from movies ever. The writing of the character, the acting, the story just makes him seem ‘real’ and he’s a man you can sympathise with and empathise with. Although not really likeable at first, after being on the journey with him you come to know him and see sides of him that nobody else sees which is really well done by the film makers.

Although the film prioritises the drama aspect of the film and it is about Ryan’s job the comedy really shines in Up in the Air. Their are lots of funny moments, not necessarily jokes but things which can make the audience chuckle and laugh out loud. It really manages to mix the drama and comedy perfectly.

The ending was perfect and ambiguous which is really enjoyable. It can be read as a happy ending or a sad ending depending on your interpretation of the film and your feelings towards the characters but by this time Ryan’s development has become clear and you see what a nice guy he is. I’ve watched a few films recently where the ending has seemed like a bit of a cop out, but this was not one of them. Fantastic.

I fail to think of any negative point I saw in Up in the Air. Perhaps the only thing was that it didn’t last longer. I was more than satisfied with the running length, it didn’t drag, it didn’t rush but I could happily watch George Clooney as Ryan Bingham for hours. I’ll definitely be re-watching this a lot in future.

My Rating: 9/10

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