Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Oscars: 2015 Predictions

2014 was a stellar year for cinema. There was artistry (Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel), thrilling action (American Sniper), and emotion (Selma, The Theory of Everything).  Movie fare was so good, in fact, it inspired The Film Geek to talk about flicks again on his blog.

A blog in 2015? You mean, it's possible to comment on topics with more than 140 letter characters?

The 87th Academy Awards will be held tonight, and I'll be watching. Hell, we'll all be watching, because it was that good of a year in film. Here are Predictions From The Film Geek:

Best Picture:  Boyhood. The phenomenal success of the movie makes me wanna predict American Sniper as the winner in this category. But I'm going with Boyhood. Richard Linklater's film is an historical achievement: a compelling story told with beautiful simplicity.

Best Director:  Richard Linklater. For Boyhood, Linklater was forced to direct actors during various times of their lives, a task more complicated that it might sound.  During the 12-years of filming, each actor underwent physical, emotional, and psychological changes --Ellar Coletrain at six years of age needs  different direction than Ellar Coletrain at eighteen. These changes undoubtedly required direction to be constantly re-invented.

Best Male Actor: Eddie Redmayne. Bradley Cooper shocked me with his uncanny performance in American Sniper. He could play spoiler in this category. But Redmayne's performance in The Theory of Everything was spirited, subtle, and complex. That's the exact formula for an Academy Award win.

Best Female Actor: Julianne Moore. I haven't yet seen Still Alice, but I would never bet against Moore any time she's on the list. She is a force.

Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role: Edward Norton. Norton's work was the best part of Birdman, in my opinion. At least it was the only part of the film I enjoyed.

Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role: Patricia Arquette. She's head and shoulders above everyone else listed in this category.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Theory Of Everything

I don't recall when I first became aware of Dr. Stephen Hawking. Maybe it was in the late 1980s, when he first published A Brief History of Time. It was likely a bit later, however, as I tend to discover grand works of science and art later than most.

I'm too busy reading comic books, you know.

It feels as though Hawking has always been around. Always been a part of the popular culture. Always been a part of my life. But aside from knowing he's brilliant, that he lives with ALS, and that he digs black holes, I've known little about the man.

Until now.

The Theory Of Everything, directed by James Marsh and starring Eddie Redmayne, gives some insight into the brilliant mind of Hawking. The beauty of the flick, however, is that it allows the audience an intimate look into Hawking's resilient soul.  Sure, we know the dude is smart; what we didn't know was how he defied odds with dignity and grace, and that he lived his life with a hopeful determination.

Redmayne is brilliant in the lead role. He gives a blue-collar feel to Hawking as an intellectual youth, and an obvious humanity to the older Hawking as his body becomes fixed and rigid, and as he re-learns to communicate.

I predict an Oscar for Redmayne. His is the performance of a lifetime.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


Hoping to catch most of the Oscar nominated flicks prior to the February 22 red carpet, I purchased a digital copy of Birdman on the first evening it became available.

I'm now forever stuck with one of the most pretentious, esoteric, self-indulgent movies I've ever seen.

To be fair, the actors in Birdman deliver outstanding work, especially Edward Norton. His Mike Shiner -- a dick of a human being who hides his boorish behavior behind a "method acting" label -- is complicated and multi-layered. And  Michael Keaton gives a solid performance as Riggan Thomson, the lead. But the choice to shoot the film as one long, stand alone shot without scene transition and editing was, to me, a fatal flaw.

It was distracting, and felt gimmicky.

The ending of Birdman, during which Thomson crawls out onto an open ledge and jumps, has been much talked about for its existential theme. It caused me to yawn. I half-hoped the camera would pan downward to show us a broken and bloodied Riggan Thomson on the street below.

That's an honest ending for a movie I wouldn't mind owning.

Saturday, February 07, 2015


Way back in 2007, when things called "blogs" were a daily read for many, I posted:  My Top 5: Movies That Give Me The Danny Gut.

(I'll let you read the definition of "The Danny Gut" for yourself at this link.)

Anywhoo, The Danny Gut strikes when I love a movie, but it causes me emotional pain or discomfort. I got it watching Glengarry Glen Ross. I got it trying to watch Requiem For A Dream. I nearly died from the disorder watching Death Of A Salesman.

And I got hit with the bug big time while watching Nightcrawler.

Dan Gilroy hit a home run with his directorial debut. Nightcrawler is a masterpiece. Jake Gyllenhaal channels  a little Travis Bickel in his creation of Lou Bloom, a character the audience can empathize with but can't allow themselves to like.

I liked Lou during sporadic moments -- a few seconds here and a few seconds there -- during the flick. And I hated myself for allowing that to happen.

It's that combination that causes The Danny Gut.