Friday, August 30, 2013

Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actress

Click on the picture for a direct link to the trailer. 


August 30th Update.


It's almost September. So we're getting close to Oscar season. I'll be updating this throughout the year when more reviews and changes come along. This category is all over the place right now with a lot of possibilities. We'll get a better idea soon. But for now...

1.Meryl Streep- August: Osage County
 Meryl Streep August:Osage County, Meryl Streep Oscar
Meryl Streep has been nominated 4 times in the last 7 years. In what looks like another great role, she's as good a bet as any for another nomination. August: Osage County could be a real contender. There's also a question whether she'll go lead or supporting. So we'll have to wait and see.

2. Oprah Winfrey- The Butler
 oprah-winfrey-the-butler-weinstein, Oprah The Butler 
Oprah Winfrey's return to acting was a great success in Lee Daniels' critical and financial hit, The Butler. With great reviews and the comeback story, Oprah looks to pretty comfortable.

3. Octavia Spencer- Fruitvale Station
 Fruitvale station, Octavia Spencer 
This is where it gets tricky. Spencer won this category 2 years ago and delivers another great performance in the Fruitvale Station. It was a major hit with the critics, but will this small movie be overlooked by the Academy?

4. Jennifer Lawrence- American Hustle
 Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle, Jennifer Lawrence American Hustle
Lawrence has been on fire lately, winning Best Actress last year for Silver Linings Playbook. There really isn't much to go on so far. Word is that it might be a really small role, so we'll have to wait and see.

5. Amy Adams- Her
 Amy Adams, Her, Amy Adams Her movie 
Adams has been a staple in this category for the past decade with 4 nominations since 2006. Supposedly, she's great here again. However, she also looks like a possibility in lead actress this year, so a double nomination may not be likely.

Other possibilities

6. Margo Martindale- August: Osage County

7. Naomi Harris- Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

8. Cameron Diaz- The Counselor

9. Maria Bello- Prisoners

10. Scarlett Johansson- Don Jon

Coming soon: Best Supporting Actor.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

T.V. Reviews

I'm also working on some reviews for T.V shows. Right now, I'm just focusing on shows that I've completed from start to finish.

You can check out all the reviews here ... T.V. Reviews

Coming this week: The Sopranos.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Top 10 Best Films of 2009

Click the image for a direct link to the trailer.

1. The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow)

2. Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino)
Inglourious Basterds, Tarantino, Brad Pitt 

3. Up in the Air (Jason Reitman)
 George Clooney, Up in the Air

4. District 9 (Neill Blomkamp)
 photo district_9_13_zps1d58cb5e.jpg
5. Up (Pete Docter and Bob Peterson)
 Up movie


 6. Adventureland (Greg Mottola)

7. 500 Days of Summer (Marc Webb)
 photo 500-Days-Of-Summer-500-days-of-summer-32587368-1920-1200_zps12c4eab7.jpg 

8.The Messenger (Oren Moverman)
 photo the_messenger_005_zps2bcdc6c9.jpg 

9. The Hangover (Todd Phillips)
 photo the_hangover01_zpsfjqoyq1z.jpg

10. Zombieland (Ruben Fleischer)
 photo ZombieLand-stills-zombieland-8538041-2404-1600_zpsf005616d.jpg    

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Friday Night Lights

The following is a review for Friday Night Lights (2006-2011).

Friday Night Lights tells the story of a small fictional Texas town and their love for football. The show centers around The Dillon Panthers, a local high school football team. In Texas, football is everything and this is no different. We see everything through the eyes of the coaches, the players, and their families.

Friday Night Lights is a family drama, sports thriller and a clear-eyed examination of the nature of the American dream all packed into one. The show focuses on the stress the town puts on it's players and coaches to win and the hope and joy this team can bring to the town.

 Friday Night Lights Show, Kyle ChandlerSimilar to The Wire, the town of Dillon is the main character. Some characters stay and some fade away. The only constant is the town and head coach Eric Taylor, played perfectly by Kyle Chandler (in an Emmy winning performance). Taylor is a true leader and mentor and does everything he can to help these kids to not only reach their potential in football but in life as well.

Friday Night Lights drops us into this small town and make us feel what it's like to live there. It's one of the most believable and heartfelt high school dramas in recent memory. We understand these characters and feel their pain. Injuries, love, breakups, and success... we're there for it all. It deals with true human emotion that you don't see much on TV these days.

 Tim Lyla, Friday Night LightsStill, the show is not without it's problems. The issues mostly deal with the structure of the show above anything else. The first season is 22 episodes. But the 2nd season was cut show at 16 episodes due to the writers strike. So it's a little frustrating that it doesn't have an ending. After this 2nd season, the show was inexplicably canceled by NBC (Really guys?). The show was eventually picked up by DirecTV and seasons 3-5 come in at 13 episodes.

This causes the flow of the show to be interrupted and some story lines to go nowhere. In the later seasons, we see a severe decline in the football scenes because they need to pack all the family drama in the season as well. While still present, it's not nearly as prevalent as season 1. I would have loved to see how the show would have played out if NBC had stuck with it all the way.

 photo Season-1-Wallpaper-friday-night-lights-1724718-1280-800_zpsbbc8534b.jpgWhile minor, another thing that bothers me is the inconsistencies. It's a high school show, so the characters should only be in school for 4 years. Yet, sometimes, it appears the characters stick around for 5 years or are even dropped a grade without explanation. Yes, we love these characters and we'd hate to see them go, let's be realistic here. Still the show created fan favorite characters in Matt Saracen (Zach Gilford), Tm Riggins (Taylor Kitsch), and Jason Street (Scott Porter).

Above all, Friday Night Lights is still a great show. While other TV dramas like Breaking Bad, The Wire, and The Sopranos focus on the dark side of humanity, Friday Night Lights gives us hope, optimism.

While not on the same level as these other shows, it's still belongs among the greats. Friday Night Lights is a great sports drama and one of the best shows of it's kind. Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can't Lose!


*Standout seasons include Season 1, Season 3, and Season 5*

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Shield

The following is a review for The Shield (2002-2008).

The Shield tells the story of an inner city Los Angeles police precinct where some of the cops aren't afraid to bend the rules for professional and personal gain. While their questionable tactics bring results, not everyone is pleased with how they operate.

The Shield TV Show

The Strike Team, an anti-gang unit, is headed by corrupt officer Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis). Mackey is the ultimate tough guy and one of the most interesting anti-heroes of all time. He'll stop at nothing to get his way, trampling anyone in his path, including other cops.

Vic_MackeyVic and his men have been guilty kidnapping, torture, drug dealing and robbery. So to call Vic a deeply flawed character is an almost laughable understatement. Right away, we see just how far Mackey is willing to go to protect himself in an brutal act that really sets the tone for rest of the show.

The Shield, Shane VendrellAt the same time, he's still a family man and extremely loyal to his team and he's one of the best cops on the force, always getting the job done. Realizing their actions may go too far, Captain Aceveda, among others, focus on bringing Vic and The Strike Team down. It creates an interesting cat and mouse game between these cops, who are supposed to be working together. At the same time, the rest of the force is working on catching bigger criminals in a city full of murderers, rapists, and drug dealers.

This show has created a ton of fascinating characters including Shane Vendrell, Vic's partner, played brilliantly by Walton Goggins. We also have Dutch Wagenbach (Jay Karnes) and Claudette Wyms (CCH Pounder) as homicide detectives.

TheShieldVicMackeyWhat makes The Shield so interesting is its unique take on the police drama. In most shows, you know what you're going to get, it's the good cops vs. the bad criminals. With The Shield, it's not nearly that simple because some of these cops are the criminals.  It does a great job at exploring the human condition, like friendship, loyalty, and the thin line between right and wrong.

The shows visual style also serve the story. Shot on 16mm film, it even looks grainy, reflecting it's gritty content. With the exclusive use of steadcam work, the cameras are free to move anywhere they please. Most of the time, they zoom in your face, just like the action. It almost feels like a documentary.

The Shield is one of the grittiest police dramas of all time. It's always edgy, and intense. While this may get a lot of comparisons to another great police drama, The Wire, they are completely different shows. For me, The Shield is much more accessible and much more entertaining. With one of the greatest series finales of all-time, you'll be feeling the impact of the show for a long time.

The Shield is one definitely one of the most under appreciated shows of the last decade. While shows like Mad Men, The Wire, and The Sopranos have garnered endless amounts of attention, The Shield is seemingly overlooked. Regardless, The Shield is still a television masterpiece and deserves to be grouped with the other greats.
 photo The-Shield-007_zpse7ef1a1d.jpg

*Standout seasons include Season 5, Season 7, and Season 4*

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Top 10 Best Films of 2010

Click the picture for a direct link to the trailer.


(updated 2015)

1. The Social Network (David Fincher)
 The Social Network, David Fincher, Rooney Mara, Jesse Eisenberg  

2. Black Swan (Darren Aronofsky)
Natalie Portman, Black Swan, Best Actress  

3. Inception (Christopher Nolan)
Inception, Christoper Nolan, Leonardo Dicaprio  

4. 127 Hours (Danny Boyle)
 127 Hours, James Franco, Danny Boyle  

5. The Town (Ben Affleck)
Ben Affleck, The Town movie, Jeremy Renner  

6. Blue Valentine (Derek Cianfrance)
 Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine  

7. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Edgar Wright)
scott-pilgrim-vs-the-world, michael cera, mary_elizabeth_winstead  

8. The Fighter (David O. Russell)
The_Fighter, Christian_Bale, Mark_Wahlberg  

9. True Grit (Joel and Ethan Coen)
Matt_Damon, True Grit  
10. Shutter Island (Martin Scorsese)
 Shutter Island, Leonardo_Dicaprio  

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Wire

The following is a review of the The Wire (2002-2008).

Regarded by many as one of the greatest T.V. dramas of all time, The Wire centers around the Baltimore's inner city drug scene. The show focuses on all aspects of crime, from the junkies and dealers to the police and politicians. While much of the show deals with The Baltimore Police Department, calling it a cop show would be an understatement.

The Wire, The Wire TV Show

The main character of the show is the city of Baltimore itself. Everyone else just plays a role in highlighting the decay of this American city. Each season focuses on a different aspect of the city. While the police and drug dealers are the main focus, it also showcases the longshoreman of the docks, the education system, and the media. The scope of the show is truly one of the biggest I've seen.

TheWire, Omar Little,Now that I'm finished with the whole series, I can definitely understand why it's so highly regarded. Creator David Simon knew what he was doing. It's a great show with something important to say. It's got top notch writing, acting to go along with terrific storytelling and important themes. The show built real characters with real problems. It's not all black and white. Sometime we feel ourselves rooting for the drug dealers and hating the cops. It makes us think. That's the brilliance of The Wire.

McNulty The Wire, The Wire TV ShowI respect it for what it did, however, it's a hard to show to enjoy. For one, it's not flashy or all that exciting. The show focuses on ultra realism and things take a long time to develop. There aren't many shootouts or car chases, just good old fashioned police work, and that takes time. The show unfolds more like a novel than your typical TV show. There aren't nearly as many "Wow!" moments as other shows out there. While I appreciate the realism, as a viewer, I'd still like a little more payoff.

Stringer Bell The WireThe show doesn't hesitate to add or remove important characters. Almost each season brings brings in a new collection of interesting characters while pushing off older ones to the side. The story dictates who we see.

Personally, this part was a little frustrating because I'd like to see the characters we've known since the beginning. It's hard to see them disappear for a Season as the focus shifts to a different aspect of the city. It's a bold move, and based on the whole scope of the series, it's understandable. It's just different than most shows. Still, the show created two of the most memorable characters we've ever seen in Stringer Bell and Omar Little. It's unbelievable how the show was able to manage all of these characters and story lines. It's a true masterwork in writing.

The Wire is a great show, but one that's hard to like. But I still respect and appreciate it for it was trying to do. It deserves the all the recognition it's received.


*Standout seasons include Season 1, Season 3, and Season 4*

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Way Way Back (2013)

 The following is a review for The Way Way Back (2013).

Duncan, a shy 14 year old, is having trouble in life. Technically, he doesn't have much of a life. He spends much of his time on his own. The Way Way Back tells the story of his summer vacation with his family as he tries to find his way in life.

Duncan has a hard time adjusting to life with his mom (Toni Collette) and her new boyfriend, Trent (Steve Carell). From the very first scene, we understand Duncan's pain as Trent criticizes Duncan for not having any friends. He even goes so far as to label Duncan a "3" on a scale of 1-10 which makes him even more upset.

Feeling miserable, Duncan finds an unexpected friend in Owen, a manager at the local water park. Owen, played brilliantly by Sam Rockwell, takes Duncan under his wing and gives him a job at the park. That's where all the fun begins.

At first glance, The Way Way Back reminded me a lot of another film I liked, Adventureland. This film deals more with the younger leads and the family dynamic. Written and Directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (Oscar winning screenwriters of The Descendents), it highlights the difficulties of a dealing with separated parents and teenage hardships. At it's core, it's still a very funny, heartfelt coming of age story.

The film is filled with real, funny performances by Allison Janey as the kooky next door neighbor, AnnaSophia Robb, as her cute daughter, and of course, Liam James as Duncan. The standout for me was definitely Sam Rockwell whose perfect for the role. He's hilarious, charismatic and compassionate. It's definitely one of my favorite performances this year.

The Way Way Back is a really funny and sincere coming of age story. It's been one of the highlights this summer. Do yourself a favor and check it out.


Monday, August 12, 2013

Top 10 Best Films of 2011

(Updated 2015)

1. The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius)
Best Picture, The Artist 

2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher)
the girl with the dragoon tattoo, david fincher, rooney mara

3. Moneyball (Bennett Miller)
Moneyball, Brad Pitt, Oakland, A's 

4. Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen)
 photo mipp_zps1uzftf7j.jpg

5. Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn)

6. 50/50 (Jonathan Levine)
Seth Rogen, 50/50 

7. Warrior (Gavin O'Connor) 
Tom Hardy, Warrior 

8. Hugo (Martin Scorsese)
Martin Scorsese, Hugo, Oscar 

9. Bridesmaids (Paul Feig)

  photo Bridesmaids-Airplane-Scene_zpsu0houfoc.jpg  

10. Hanna (Joe Wright)
Hanna movie