The problem with award nominated films and the hype that surrounds them, is that it most probably leads to disappointment when you actually watch the film. Unfortunately this was the case for me with The Imitation Game.
Although I was very much anticipating this film, even before the award nominations started to poor in, when I actually saw it, it wasn’t what I expected…. In order to explain why, I’m gonna have to break my rules and spoil a bit the plot, although to my defense, it is based on a true story, so what I’m about to say is more or less history.
First of all, for those not familiar at all with the plot of the film, The Imitation Game is the story of the brilliant British mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing and how he helped the Allies during the Second World War to win by cracking the unbreakable code of the German Enigma machine.
Starting with what I did enjoy in this film, Benedict Cumberbatch gave an exquisite performance (as expected) portraying Alan Turing, a complex character that I felt was underrated by the script. Mark Strong was once again really good at playing a sneaky character with a hidden agenda, veteran Charles Dance (aka Tywin Lanister) played pretty well what he knows best: the irritating bastard and Keira Knightley… well was ok. (It seems as if the last time we saw her playing a good part was back in Dangerous Method…) On the other hand, cinematography was good, direction was descent but the narrative flow had some serious issues (spoilers ahead)...
So, I felt that the plot was developed unequally; with the film having two parallel storylines: the conspiracy theory/espionage plot and the issue of Turing’s homosexuality, the latter was developed far less, although it should have played a far greater part, given that Turing’s sexual orientation lead to his arrest, prosecution and later on suicide. On the other hand the whole spy on spy-Mata Hari plot, was taking most part of the film, but blew off very quick, not giving the adequate climax.
Another issue with The Imitation Game is that many aspects of the (true) story have changed. For instance the true Turing, despite the fact that he was indeed strict with his co-workers, he did have friends and a sense of humor and his best friend was not only his machine. Another major issue is that the film shows that his most intimate relationship was with Joan Clarke, while in fact Turing had many homosexual relationships, and in fact was –shockingly for the time- very open about it. A major fictional element on the film is the scene when Turing’s team faces the hard question on whether to save innocent people and expose themselves to the enemy or not do anything and help win the war in the long run. In reality this type of dilemma was never faced by the team, but their superiors. Finally, a major issue is that in the film Turing is portrayed as a traitor by covering a Soviet spy in his team. In reality, the spy was in a completely different department, making it unlikely that they had even met!
But, despite those changes in order to make this story more film material, what I feel that was deeply missing from the film, was how his conviction for homosexuality changed his life and career. Of course, we get to see the “trivia” in the end about the fact that 49.000 men were convicted between 1885 and 1967 and how the Queen granted Turing a posthumous royal pardon in 2012 but given that this law affected so many lives and so many major personalities (Oscar Wilde the most famous one), they should have developed this part of the story far more than the few lines in the end.
Overall, a good film, but I am not sure that apart from Cumberbatch’s performance, it should be nominated for so many awards, especially after the whole Selma snub…
Oscar fever continues and until we find out the 2015 winners, let's have some fun with "alternative" movie posters for the nominated films. I particularly enjoyed "The Hipster Travelodge"...
Credits to TheShiznit.co.uk
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance)
The Theory of Everything
The Imitation Game
The Grand Budapest Hotel
And a bonus poster for a film that did not make it to the Oscars:
The Oscar nominations were announced today. Many of them were expected, but there were also (as every year) some pretty big snubs...
Of course Boyhood and Birdman were the dominant films with 6 & 9 (!) nominations each, including Best Picture. The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything, Selma, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Whiplash and American Sniper (surprise there), are the rest of the films nominated in the Best Picture category. Big Eyes and (thankfully) Foxcather were missing.
In the Actor in a Leading Role category, I was surprised to see Bradley Cooper (American Sniper) and not Ralph Fiennes, so the battle seems to be battle between the two Golden Globe winners: Michael Keaton (Birdman) and Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything). Jennifer Anniston and Amy Adams were nowhere to be seen in the Actress in a Leading Role category, with already Academy Award winner Marion Cotillard, again nominated for Two Days, One Night (did not see this one coming). Surprised to see Rosamund Pike nominated, not because I did not think she was brilliant in Gone Girl, but because this role typically is traditionally snubbed by the Academy. The rest nominees are Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything), Julianne Moore for Still Alice (Oscar alert!) and Reese Witherspoon (Wild).
The Supporting Actor Category nominations are identical to the Golden Globes, making it almost certain that J.K. Simmons will take home the Oscar and the Supporting Actress Category again is the same as the Globes, with only difference Jessica Chastain who has been replaced by Academy favorite Laura Dern for Wild.
In the Best Direction category, the Academy snubbed David Fincher (Gone Girl) and Ava DuVernay (Selma) and instead included Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher) and Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game).
You may see the full list of nominations here: http://oscar.go.com/nominees
Other big snubs? Big Eyes, Unbroken, The Lego Movie and of course Selma. This was by far the biggest absence, with only two nomications and David Oyewolo (portaying Dr. Martin Luther King on the film) losing the spot to Bradley Cooper....
Sharing some first projections, my money is on Boyhood for both Best Picture & Best Direction, Keaton and Moore for the leading roles, Simmons and Arquette for the supporting roles. Of course, the race has just began and many might change until February the 22nd! Let's wait and see!
Tim Burton's latest film Big Eyes is the true story of Margaret and Walter Keane and the famous Big Eyes paintings. This is the first time since Ed Wood 20 years ago that Burton is directing a biopic and the first time in years that neither Helena Bonham Carter nor Johnny Depp are involved in the project.
Starring Amy Adams as Margaret and Christoph Waltz as Walter Keane, Big Eyes is the story of how Margaret, a single divorced mom in the later '50s with a remarkable painting talent, meets and marries Walter Keane, a not so succesfull painter who takes advantage of her, by taking credit of her work that is recognized and loved by the American audience. After years of psychological abuse, she finds the courage to leave him and later on sues him for slander.
Big Eyes is a film very much based on the strong performances by both leading actors. Adams gives a fragile performance and captures perfectly the sentiments and the frustration of a woman trapped in a lie. Waltz on the other hand, I have to admit, I had mixed feelings on his performance. I feel that despite the fact that he captured perfectly this unique character, he was pulling yet another Waltz: I did not see a performance that different from Django or Inglourious Basterds... It feels that his style is always the same. Nevertheless, he captured Keane very well.
What I felt that was missing from this film was the Burton touch. Of course the colors and cinematography were very much Burton-y, but I missed the Burton twist.... Perhaps he felt restricted from the biopic subject..
Nominated for three Golden Globes (Best Actress Drama, Best Actor Drama, Best Original Song for Lana Del Rey's Big Eyes) and two BAFTAs, we will have to wait for tonight to see whether Adam's performance will beat Helen Mirren, whether Waltz will have a chance opposite Fiennes and Keaton and whether my beloved Lana will beat John Legend and Lorde!
Although released in 2014, I just had the pleasure of watching Linklater’s masterpiece, Boyhood - undoubtedly one of the most unique, artistic films of the past years.
A film that took an amazing 12 years to finish, as it literally shows the evolution of the life of a boy, Mason, from the age of 5 until 18.
I have to admit that the idea of this project seemed a bit scary and before watching it I had fears that its duration (165 minutes) might not help the plot roll out equally, that such a personal project might not find connective points with the viewers and in the end might turn up to be one of those films that are simply “Art for art’s sake”.
Well, after watching the film, I have to say that even if it continued for another 165’, I wouldn’t mind at all!
It was a remarkable experiment to begin with, given that the director would shoot scenes throughout the years, showing us the true development of the characters and actors in that time, not only through their physical appearance, but also their emotional growth. It is amazing to watch in 2.5 hours how a boy becomes a young man, how his character and whole mentality is evolving, how a mother deals with life changing events and in the end and how family evolves and survives.
The film might be called Boyhood, but I believe that this film is not only about the specific boy and his view of the world, but it’s about family, how these relationships affect our life, that a perfect typical family does not always brings happiness and how you need to work to actually make it work.
Richard Linklater, a great storyteller, known for the Before trilogy (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight), does an amazing job in capturing the right moments from 12 years in the life of Mason, and making what may began as a series of short films combined, one solid story that narrates the boy’s life. Ellar Coltrane, portraying Mason, is a remarkable young actor that handles this project with the maturity of an established actor while growing up right before our very own eyes! Lorelei Linkwater who portrays Mason’s sister Samantha, is actually the director’s daughter who practically forced herself into the movie after insisting that she would be part of it, lost interest in the project right about the third or fourth year and asked to be killed off. After Linkwater refused to do so, she eventually regained her interest and continued. Like Coltrane, she also gives an amazing performance.
Also starring Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke as Mason’s parents, Boyhood is by far one of the most sincere, original films that I have ever watched and proves sometimes we don't have to seize the moment but we have to let the moment seize us.
The 2015 Golden Globe Awards just wrapped and here is the complete list of winners:
Best Motion Picture, Drama: Boyhood
Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama: Julianne Moore (Still Alice)
Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama: Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)
Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Actress In A Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy: Amy Adams (Big Eyes)
Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy: Michael Keaton (Birdman)
Best Animated Feature Film: How To Train Your Dragon 2
Best Foreign Language Film: Leviathan
Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture: Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)
Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture: J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
Best Director - Motion Picture: Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
Best Screenplay - Motion Picture: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo (Birdman)
Best Original Score - Motion Picture: Jóhann Jóhannsson (The Theory Of Everything)
Best Original Song - Motion Picture: Selma
Best TV Series, Drama: The Affair
Best Actress in a TV Series, Drama: Ruth Wilson (The Affair)
Best Actor in a TV Series, Drama: Kevin Spacey (House of Cards)
Best TV Series, Musical or Comedy: Transparent
Best Actress in a TV Series, Musical or Comedy: Gina Rodriguez (Jane The Virgin)
Best Actor in a TV Series, Musical or Comedy: Jeffrey Tambor (Transparent)
Best TV Movie or Mini-Series: Fargo
Best Actress in a Mini-Series or TV Movie: Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Honorable Woman)
Best Actor in a Mini-Series or TV Movie: Billy Bob Thornton (Fargo)
Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Mini-Series or TV Movie: Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey)
Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Mini-Series or TV Movie: Matt Bomer (The Normal Heart)
Well... It's official! Award season is on!! With the Golden Globes ceremony on Sunday, BAFTA nominations being announced today and the Oscar nominations being announced next Thursday, it's Award fever!!
The recently engaged Stephen Fry along with Sam Claffin announced today the British Academy Film Awards nominations. With the ceremony being held in a month from now, the BAFTA have been considered for the past years as a prelude to the Oscars, as the majority of the films nominated by the British academy, are also nominated and sometimes awarded by the Academy.
So, if the pattern continues, we might see The Grand Budapest Hotel (11 nominations) and Boyhood nominated from the American Academy as well. Other films that were favored by the British Academy are: The Imitation Game, The Theory Of Everything, Gone Girl, Birdman, Big Eyes and Wild. Similar more or less to the Globes nominations.
It was really nice to see on the British film nominations '71 and Pride and a bit surprised (as was Stephen Fry) to see Paddington make it to the nominations... Also, very excited to see in the Documentary category, 20,000 Days On Earth - the Nick Cave documentary!
See the full list here http://awards.bafta.org/award/2015/film or have a look a look at the video below.
And not to say "I told you so" but well... I told you so! This year nominated for the 2015 EE Rising Star Award is among others, Jack O' Connel! Told ya... rising star!
New Year - new films! The first film that I saw in a cinema this year was Unbroken. A bit of a rough start, I might say…
The latest film directed by Angelina Jolie (that’s a phrase I never thought I would use), is the epic, unbelievable true story of Louis “Louie” Zamperini, an Olympic runner of the 1936 Olympic Games who, survived in a raft for 47 days after a near-fatal plane crash in World War II—only to be caught by the Japanese Navy and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp.
Let’s break it down a bit: Before even watching it, this film shows some serious award potential for three reasons:
1. The film narrates a tale of an Olympic athlete, who fought in World War II, survived a plane crush on a raft for 47 days and survived from a Japanese war camp! Hello? Classic Hollywood material
2. The film is based on book best seller – Always a plus
3. Coen Brothers wrote the script adaptation – Oscar much?
Again, before watching it, I was afraid that these elements might make this film flop:
1. Angelina Jolie directs…
2. The story took too long to come to the big screen: Universal Studios bought the rights to the story of Louis Zamperini in 1957 in the hope of developing it for Tony Curtis. In later years, Nicolas Cage expressed an interest. The project finally got the green light after Laura Hillenbrand's 2010 book about Zamperini became a best-seller. Pfff. The man suffered so much and Hollywood took interest only after it was made into a best seller book?
3. Another World War II film?
After actually watching it, I was pleasantly and not so pleasantly surprised and came to the below conclusions:
1. Such an Epic tale might be Hollywood material, but somehow, the multiple stories that this brave man experienced were not portrayed equally and the viewer did not get the sense of a peak, or a dramatic climax. And when that happened it was rather imposed to the viewer...
2. Yes, the film was a based on a best seller book and yes the Coen brothers wrote the screenplay, but the film didn’t depict so much neither the book narrative style, nor the classic Coen brothers touch. If you have to involve the Coen brothers, you need to have at least their signature style…
3. Angelina Jolie directing – well that was not so bad. Of course such a powerful theme in the hands of a newbie may cause some issues, with some scenes seeming a bit over the top, but as a whole the direction is pretty decent!
4. Jack O’ Connell. Well, his mind blowing performance was no big surprise, at least for us that have been tracking him since the Cook era (Skins), Starred Up or more recently ’71. He is without a doubt one an up and coming star that can give really intense performances and without his performance the film would not be the same
5. Takamasa Ishihara aka The Bird, gave undoubtedly a heartbreaking, psychotic performance, giving amazing depth and layers to this complex character. Hard to imagine that Ishihara is actually a rock star rather than an actor!
6. Great cinematography and costumes, putting us right into the heart of the era!
Overall, I have to say that Unbroken is an inspiring, human film, that might not be the epic movie that is promoted to be, but for sure it is an epic tale with touching performances, worth watching.
Happy New Cinematic Year everybody!!
2014 was a year with many great films, blockbusters, independent productions, European films, you name it.
And since this is the last day of the year and everyone is posting best of & lists, I'll get cheesy and give you my top 10 films for 2014!
Happy 2015 everybody!!!
10. What If
9. Gone Girl
6. X-Men: Days of the Future Past
5. Guardians of the Galaxy
2. Only Lovers Left Alive
1. Grand Budapest Hotel
Exactly 100 years ago, on Christmas day 1914, something remarkable happened. Thousands of French, British and Belgian soldiers put down their weapons and spent Christmas day celebrating with their German enemy soldiers. This was not an organized truce, as Pope Benedict XV had requested earleir that year, but a siege fire that even today, is not clear how it was initiated. It is a fact though that almost two-thirds of the troops stopped fighting for just that day, and sang Christmas carols along side the people that threated their lives and freedom.
Almost 100.000 soldiers are believed to have participated on the siege fire that day, and despite the fact that the following days and years they would resume participating in this fatal war that caused millions of casualties and would mark deeply Europe, on this Christmas day, they put aside their hatred and celebrated in peace.
A century later we remember this day, for the hope that it brings that sometimes love and courage can overcome madness and hatred. Apart from the letters, diaries and oral accounts from the soldiers, we have also two films that tell the story of that day: Joyeux Noël (2005), starring Diane Kruger, Benno Furmann and Guillaume Canet.
Ever since I first set foot on a cinema theatre, I knew that something magical was happening there....