Archive for the 'Film' Category

La La Land and the Race for the Oscars

Oscar time has arrived and Damien Chazelle’s La La Land looks set to dominate the Academy Awards  in the same fashion the film has dominated many other Film Awards events in the lead up to the big show on Hollywood Blvd.

I feel the same way about La La Land  that I felt about The Artist a few years ago. When I saw The Artist I though it was a lock to win Best Picture because it was such a unique film in this era, as a silent, black and white film. La La Land is a visually stunning film and as a musical it too is unique among the 2016 films. The entire cast was outstanding and it portrays Los Angeles in a very flattering way, which the Academy always seems to like. I see La La Land winning  not only the Oscar for Best Picture, but many other Oscars as well.

The big question is if La La Land can break the record for most Academy Awards wins for a single film. Titanic, Ben Hur and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King all won 11 Oscars.

La La Land garned 14 nominations, but includes two for Music Original Song, so LLL can win 13.  I think LLL is going to win 11 or 12 Oscars. I don’t think Ryan Gosling will win Best Actor for LLL, even thought his performance was excellent because the competition from Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea) and Denzel Washington (Fences) is.

However, I think is very possible that LLL wins every other Oscar that it was nominated for. We’ll see soon enough .

POST Academy Awards comments.

I must say that I was quite surprised that La La Land did not win Best Picture. I have not seen Moonlight yet, but I was well aware that it was a highly acclaimed film. However, I really thought that LLL had all the momentum. I guess not quite enough. Still, LLL had a very respectable night pulling in 6 Oscars, including Best Director for Chazelle and Best Best Actress for the very deserving Emma Stone. I don’t think those will be the last Oscars that those two win.








Films from 2014 and 2015 that I have recently watched for the first time.

In the past couple of months I have been catching up on watching a few movies that I wanted  watch, but that I just never got around to seeing in the theatre when they were initially released. I like watching movies on my iPad and I could not watch any for awhile because my old 1st Gen iPad only had 32GB of memory and I just plain ran out of space to store movies, even temporary rentals. That ain’t a problem while my iPad Pro and the 128GB it has. The Pro also has four speakers, opposed the one speaker the original iPad had.

Here are four films that I have rented watched recently, along with a few comments on each film and the score that gave each film on IMDb.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens VII

I saw the original Star Wars films in the theatre way back the day and I always enjoyed the films, but I never considered them great sci fi.

This is one film that I do regret not seeing on the big screen because the special effects were so outstanding. Unfortunately, I found the story somewhat disappointing because it was so unoriginal. I thought the new cast members were pretty good overall, but I’m not sure if anyone of them will breakout and become a big star.

However, there was enough done well in this film to be hopeful the parts VIII and IX will provide an exciting end to the Star Wars saga.


Score: 6/10


The last of the Daniel Craig Bond films and it was a very solid entry in the series. I have enjoyed Craig as 007. The only actor that I would rank above Craig as Bond was Sean Connery, who really owned the role. But Craig really breathed to life in the role when he took it over in 2006 with the elegant and exciting Casino Royale. Looking back on the four Craig films I rate Casino Royale as the best of the group and Spectre as second best.

Score: 7/10


I had high expectations for this contemporary crime drama because of the numerous positive reviews it received and I must say this film met my expectations.

The principal cast members Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro all turned in excellent performances.

Score: 8/10

The Grand Hotel Budapest 

Another quirky, inventive, very funny and  highly entertaining film from writer/ director Wes Anderson. I think Anderson is one the most talented filmmakers working and TGHB was a worthy addition to his overall body of work. The Life Aquatic is still my favorite Wes Anderson, but TGHB is right up there with other WA films that I think very highly of, including Moonrise Kingdom and The Royal Tenenbaums. Like those films the cast in TGHB was incredibly impressive.

Score 9/10

More to come…..



Film: Captain America: The Winter Solider

Captain America: The Winter Solider

Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo

Starring: Chris Evans, Samuel Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Robert Redford, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie

136 minutes

I saw the film last week and found it quite entertaining. I was hopeful that this sequel to the first Captain America film, Captain America: The First Avenger, would live up to the promise of the exciting trailers that were released within the last few months and in my opinion it did. Like most other Marvel fans I was a little disappointed in first film, but I still thought the Captain America character and franchise had a lot potential, especially now that the World War II era hero had been transported to contemporary times as a result of being frozen for 70 years and then “defrosted” (See the first film). The Russo brothers went a little CGI crazy at the end of the film, but overall their direction was outstanding. The characters in this film were perfectly cast, the acting was convincing and the story is interesting. I think it is one of the best comic book based ever made. Of course, it still is a comic book film and you have to overlook some things are not totally logical or downright impossible, but it is fairly realistic in many ways. It definitely addresses a lot subjects that are relevant to what is happening in the world today, including the construction of a police state, pervasive surveillance of the general public and the dangers of a unipolar world.

I gave the film a rating of 8/10 on IMDb.

If you haven’t seen Captain America: The First Avenger I would encourage you to view a few scenes from that film which are on You Tube so you have a better understanding of the Steve Rodgers character and how he became Captain America. If nothing else at least watch the last 3 minutes of the first film.

The 86th Annual Academy Awards

I consider myself a pretty big film fan, but over the course of the last year I saw relatively few films. I only saw four of the nine films nominated for Best Picture. Frankly, many of the films received nominations seemed like they told stories that were a bit depressing, films such as 12 Years a Slave, Nebraska, Her, Dallas Buyers Club, Inside Llewyn Davis and Blue Jasmine. Of that group the only film that I saw was Dallas Buyers Club. I only recently went to see Dallas Buyers Club after reading the many positive of reviews of the performances that Matthew McConnaughy and Jared Leto gave in that film. I’m sure all the films I mentioned above are very good and I’ll probably see all of them in time, although probably on my iPad.

I did see Captain Philips, American Hustle and Gravity. I thought Captain Philips was a very solid, well made film. Tom Hanks delivered a strong performance in the title role and the rest of the cast was quite good as well.

I thought American Hustle was highly entertaining. I my initial reaction to this film was that just might win a couple of Oscars because it is full of terrific performances and Director David O. Russell distinguished himself yet again. Russell has certainly become one of the best directors working today. The film did win ten nominations and they are well deserved, but the other leading films out there are so strong it may not win any Oscars. In another year, perhaps, but not this year.

I thought Gravity was a film that largely lived up to the hype surrounding it. Bullock and Clooney were fantastic and the FX may have set a new standard.

So, if I haven’t seen all the films and performances how can I make predictions of which films and performers will win? Well, I never base my Oscar picks solely on what I think of the films and the individual performances nominated. I always try to gauge which films and performers will win based the results of the other major awards and honors.

BEST PICTURE: 12 Years a Slave This film has already won Best film honors from BAFTA, Golden Globe, AFI and many others. I have to think that the win streak will continue and that the Oscar for Best Picture will be added to the list.

BEST DIRECTOR: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity

I thought Gravity was extremely well made. I made point of seeing this film on the big screen and I’m glad I did. I thought this space based drama was exciting and raised the special effects bar to a new height. I expect Gravity to win multiple Oscars for all things related to sound and image (Visual Effects, Sound Editing, Film Editing, Cinematography, Original Score)

BEST ACTOR: Matthew McConnaughy, Dallas Buyers Club McConnaughy delivers an outstanding performance as a rough and tumble Texas oil field worker who is diagnosed with AIDS in 1985. The film is based on a true story and McConnaughy’s character is initially a very unsympathetic, but turns out to be a very inspirational figure in the end because he is unwilling to accept the death sentence the doctors at the hospital give him when his HIV positive condition is discovered. McConnaughy’s character displays a great fighting spirit and resourcefulness in his quest to find drugs and treatments, both legal and illegal, to keep both himself and others in Dallas with AIDS alive as long as possible.

EDIT: I found out after the Awards that although Dallas Buyers Club is based on a true story, but that large parts it were totally fictional. The person that McConnaughy’s character was based on was not a cowboy, and was in fact bisexual, not hetrosexual so in that respect it is more understandable how he ended up with AIDS to begin with. The transsexual (played by Jared Leto) that McConnaughy partners with was a fictional character, as was a doctor (played by Jennifer Garner) that played a key role in helping McConnaughy’s character. That doesn’t diminish the fine performances all these actors gave, but it does diminish the film itself in my view. I felt the same way when I find out that important parts of the film Argo, which won Best Picture, were total fiction. Maybe Hollywood should describe these films like these as “Loosely Based” on the truth.

BEST ACTRESS: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine Blanchett is always solid and easily one the best actresses working today. She seems to be a lock for this award.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club Leto was very convincing in his role has a HIV positive transgendered person who forms a seemingly unlikely partnership with McConnaughy’s character to sell drugs and vitamins to AIDS victims in late 1980’s Dallas.

The girls in the Best Supporting Actress category should be thankful that the Academy did not put him in their category because he might well have won. (JUST KIDDING!! Calm down all you members of the PC Thought Police!!)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave Based on the posted odds this seems to the most competitive category. Looks like a race between newcomer Nyong’o and Hollywood Golden Girl Jennifer Lawrence. I’m going with Nyong’o because 12 Years seems to have more momentum behind it and that film addresses more serious subject matter. I thought Lawrence was very good in American Hustle (although I thought Amy Adams was even better), but I didn’t view her performance in AH as the type I would call classify as a strong Oscar contender.


Well, that pretty much went as expected. All the favorites won, at least in the major categories. I really can’t say it was too much of a challenge to pick the Oscar winners this years. All in all, I think 2013 was a pretty strong year for films. In a less competitive year one of the films nominated for Best Picture may have swept the awards, but this year the split of major awards among leading films was justified because there were so many distinguished performances.

My Five Favorite Films of 2012

I’m going to add to this post later and explain why I liked these films, but I just settled on my final 5 favorite films and I wanted to post them.

1) Zero Dark Thirty

2) Lincoln

3) The Dark Knight Rises

4) Moonrise Kingdom

5) Django Unchained

My Picks for the 2013 Academy Awards

OK, on to Oscars. I try to make my Oscar picks based on who or what I think will win a particular category, not who or what I think should win, although sometimes I do make a picks that are not considered consensus favorites. I go for underdogs sometimes, but underdogs that actually have a reasonable chance of pulling off an upset in my view.

My picks are determined by my own impressions of the films and individual performances, the results of other major Award events, and which way I think the Academy Members will lean on particular categories. I think the voters for the Academy tend to be a bit more conservative than the voters for some of the other major Awards so I give that some weight.

I’ve seen many of the films nominated for major awards this year, but not all them, most notably Zero Dark Thirty, which I definitely plan to see, but have not seen yet. I have seen Argo, Lincoln, Django Unchained and Silver Linings Playbook.

Best Picture
Argo I think several other 2012 films were better than Argo, including The Dark Knight Rises, which wasn’t even nominated. But the support for other films seems to be fragmented so Argo has become the safe pick. I only gave Argo a 7/10 on IMDb. I thought it was a very solid film, but not great.

Best Director
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln

Best Actor
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln. This is a sure bet. Can’t go any other way imo.

Best Actress
Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty. I know I am going against the grain here. Jennifer Lawrence seems to have the momentum behind her, as well as the Weinstein PR machine. However, I Chastain has a real chance to upset. I like Lawrence a lot as an Actress, but I just didn’t think her performance in SPL was Oscar worthy. I thought JL’s Oscar nominated performance in Winter’s Bone was much more riveting. I think Chastain, while still young, is more than decade older than JL and has put in a lot more work as an actress and paid her dues in a way JL has not yet and I think the Academy may recognize that.

Best Supporting Actor
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln. My favorite for this award is Christoph Waltz for his performance in Django, but Waltz won this award just a few years ago so I think the Academy is going to favor Jones, who also turned in a strong performance. Jones is also a past winner of this award, but his previous win goes way back to The Fugitive, in 1993.

Best Supporting Actress
Anne Hathaway Almost as much of a sure bet as DDL for Best Actor.

Original Screenplay
Django Unchained

Adapted Screenplay

My favorite Sci Fi films

I was originally going to title this post My Three Favorite Sci Fi Films, but I could not settle on just three films. Picking the first two wasn’t all that tough for me. 2001: A Space Odyssey and Blade Runner always stand out in my mind as the two best Science Fiction films ever made. Maybe I should have designated them 1A and 1B. Picking films for the 3 to 10 positions is more challenging for me because I can think of quite a few Sci Fi’s that I think are very good, but just not as good as 1 & 2. There are probably about 20 films I considered for positions 3 to 10, but the films I listed below are the ones that made my final cut, although a few of those might change if I had to draw up this list again in 6 months or a year.

1) 2001: A Space Odyssey
This 1960’s classic is not only my favorite sci fi film, but one of my favorite films of any kind. A fascinating film that explored man’s evolution, the advance of technology and the concept of a supreme intelligence in the universe. One of Stanley Kubrick’s finest, which is saying quite a bit, since all his films were good and some were outright masterpieces.

2) Blade Runner

The rest of my top ten in no particular order:

The Empire Strikes Back
My favorite of the Star Wars films.

Twelve Monkeys


The Planet of the Apes


The Matrix

Forbidden Planet
A classic film with an outstanding cast. Special effects which were state of the art at that time and not surpassed until Kubrick’s 2001.

The political satire in this film was absolutely brilliant.
I doubt the upcoming remake will match iconic film.

George M. Fattell.

The gmf journal is a general subject blog that reflects my thoughts and opinions on a variety of topics that are of interest to me. Current home base is Easton, Pennsylvania, USA. Retweets do not equal an endorsement.

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