Tag Archives: Brad Pitt

The Tree of Life, Hugo, and The Descendants

The Oscars are just one week away and I’m trying to catch all the films available before the event to up my chances of picking the winners.  I’m also busy planning the decor and menu for the party.  I’ve got the schwag bags started for prizes, and they are gooood!

So here’s the final review on some of the hottest nominees for Best Picture.  Stay tuned at the end to enter Jess’ Ultimate Oscar Win Contest!

The Tree of Life

This film is not for everyone.  If you hate really artsy, existential movies where the cinematography is really the height of the story, then you probably won’t make it all the way through this movie.  I did like the film.  It’s artsy, thought-provoking, and the cinematography was like watching Planet Earth all over again!  The main story tells that of a family in the 50’s parented by Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain (nominated for Moneyball and The Help).  Their three boys are growing up in a household where life isn’t perfect.  There are good times and bad, and interspersed with that theme of a father and son’s relationship is some of the most breathtaking natural images of science and space.

Does this film stand a chance for Best Picture?  I doubt it.  But I think it’s an incredibly well made and poignant film written and directed by Terrence Malick.  The footage is breathtaking and there are some scenes where the essence of life is so beautifully blended between the family and the natural element that you can’t help but look at it with awe.

Hugo

Nominated for 11 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Costumes, Best Original Score, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Cinematography, Hugo appears to be the race winner.  The titled lead, Hugo, is a boy who lives in the train station, desperately trying to piece together an automaton, a magician’s machine he and his father were working on before his father’s death.

The film creates a wonderful and imaginative world inside the clocks at the train station as well as the city of Paris.  The costumes and music are well coordinated to the setting, but what I loved the most is the colorful array of characters and their body language.  The picture seems as though minute detail was taken with every extra and every corner of the set.  I loved Sacha Baron Cohen as the Station Inspector!

Hugo could very well be the film to beat at the Oscars.  Scorsese certainly earned the Best Directing nomination!  And with so many other categories functioning together all in the same film, why wouldn’t the Academy select this one?  Don’t quote me yet, but I think the film picked will be Hugo, though I’m secretly rooting for The Help.

The Descendants

Will this be the year for George Clooney?  I’m going to say no.  But I could be incredibly surprised with the Best Actor category.  The Descendants is an incredibly well made film with honest characters and true to life acting of them.  Clooney is great as Matt King, a father who struggles to keep his family sane after his wife ends up in a coma from a boating accident.  The chemistry between Clooney and the two young actresses (Shailene Woodley and Amara Miller) playing his daughters is really quite charming, and I don’t know why unexpected, but it was.

I definitely recommend this movie for any audience. Note*  There is a lot of swearing.  The message of family is strong and presented in an equal balance of big and small picture, tough times and funny ones.  I like how they picked a paradise of a setting like Hawaii and blended it with the real issues we all face.  Definitely a film I’d watch again.

Jess’ Ultimate Oscar Challenge!

I’m going to list the nominees for 4 big categories:  Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress.  Vote for your picks below.  All entries must be submitted before Sunday at 6pm.  The commenter with the most correct answers wins AN AMAZON GIFT CARD!!!  And an array of Oscar themed fun like recipes and movies!  Don’t you want in?  Here are the categories; I’ll see ya’ll below!

Best Motion Picture of the Year

Nominees:

War Horse (2011): Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Who Couldn’t Be Romantic About Baseball…And That New Woody Allen Movie?

(source: google images)

Most of you know that I’m OBSESSED with the Academy Awards.  If you didn’t, I’m OBSESSED with the Academy Awards.  There, now you know.  For the past 5 years I’ve hosted elaborate parties (except for that one year where an epic snowstorm ruined my life by barricading all guests from leaving their homes and I was left with an entire bowl of red pepper parmesan dip to eat by myself). 

Where was I?  Oh yes, the parties!  I host one fine swanky soiree!  The food is always gourmet appetizers and deserts with lots and lots of wine.  I’ve made platters of antipasto, bacon wrapped apricots with a honey barbecue sauce, cranberry salsa with green chilies, sundried tomato and pesto hors d’oeuvres, and many more delectable goodies.  And all my guests share one appetizer or dessert as well, so we have a full spread!  Some years we’ve also dressed up in our finest formals, walked a real red carpet to classical music and interviewed guests about “who they’re wearing” tonight!

In fact, the theme for this year’s party hasn’t been totally set.  I’m welcome to ideas!  What would you want to do or see?  We’ve suggested coming dressed for the Oscars as a member of the opposite sex, coming dressed as your favorite Oscar winning actor/actress or character, or dressing like the “Worst Dressed” Oscar attendee.  I’m completely open to more ideas, so do share! 

As the award ceremony draws near, I’m hoping to enlighten you all on what I think of the nominees.  I hope you’ll share with me too!  We’ll start with some of the Best Picture nominees, of which there are nine this year.

Best Picture Nominees for 2012:

  • The Artist
  • The Descendants
  • Hugo
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
  • The Help
  • Moneyball
  • Midnight in Paris
  • The Tree of Life
  • War Horse

Today I’ll feature Moneyball and Midnight in Paris.  I previously reviewed Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and you can check that post out here.

Moneyball

(source: google images)

I’m not sure what I was expecting when I picked up a copy of Moneyball from the video store.  I don’t think I expected this film to be as fascinating and the story so gripping as it was.  Without seeing the movie, I would’ve told you all convincingly that Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill didn’t stand a chance at the Oscars.  I would’ve been badly mistaken.

Moneyball stars Best Actor Nominee, Brad Pitt, as Billy Beane, the General Manager for the Oakland Athletics baseball team.  The story, however, is more than just a tale of home runs and who beat who.  What Moneyball portrays is the politics and science behind the game.  It is a biography of the unconventional tactics used to change the game of ball forever and what role money plays in this sport.

The Oakland Athletics were one of the worst paid baseball teams, and most likely still are.  After a poor playing season, Beane loses his three best players to trade ups that all provided more money to the player.  Left in a position of zero dollar increase, Beane had to find a solution that would make a whole new team of players, winning players.

A chance partnership with Yale graduate, Peter Brand, played by Supporting Actor Nominee, Jonah Hill, creates a unique approach to drafting players based on statistical data of their playing.  Suddenly, Beane is selecting the players that everyone else in baseball neglects and has written off.  What Billy Beane does in this movie, with great talent from Pitt, is change the way baseball is run.  He did what was right for the team and showed the million dollar moguls of the game that money isn’t everything.

I rate this one a surprise contender because while I LOVED this movie and both actor’s performances, I do think they are up against some “heavy hitters” of their own.  I would be thrilled if any of them did win.  Most of all, Brad Pitt, I think this was a smart role for him and could do what The Blind Side did for Sandra Bullock.  Kudos to this film!

Midnight in Paris

(source: google images)

I never noticed the similarities between Owen Wilson and Woody Allen were so striking until this film.  It’s like Woody attached strings to Owen and danced him around the film like a babbling marionette puppet.  It’s uncanny!

Per usual Woody Allen, this film stars a man who wants greater things in life, is intimidated by others around him, but is really a creative genius.  Don’t get me wrong, I adore a good Allen film.  I’m a big fan of Small Time Crooks, Mighty Aphrodite, and of his book Without Feathers.  I recommend this flick for fans, people in the mood for nostalgia, and anyone who likes a little light-hearted magic.

Owen Wilson plays Gil; he’s engaged to Inez played by Rachel McAdams (the couple’s second film together following Wedding Crashers).  Gil is already a Hollywood writer, but he can’t find his groove when it comes to his novel.  While traveling with Inez’s parents in France, Gil daydreams of a golden age:  Paris in the 20’s, raining.  *swoon*

One night, Inez goes dancing with friends, and Gil decides to take a walk.  Where he’ll find himself is a parallel world of Paris in the 20’s and soon this couple will have to face whether the illusion around them is better than their actual relationship or not.

I already gave kudos to Wilson’s character being a new generation’s introduction to Woody Allen humor.  He really captures an idealist’s heart that we all can understand.  The supporting cast of his Parisian fantasy includes such names as Oscar winners Marion Cotillard and Kathy Bates as well as the First Lady of France herself, Carla Bruni.

While I liked this film, I don’t think it’s a contender for Best Picture.  Allen may be the underdog win for Best Director, but he’s also facing top nominee Martin Scorsese for Hugo.  I can’t help but wonder if this is another case of a nomination come too late.  Should Allen have won last year for his more poignant and stellar casting film, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger*shrug*  Time will tell.  February 26th to be exact.

What say you fellow movie watchers?  Have you seen either of these nominees?  What do you think their chances are?  Who are you rooting for?  And don’t forget to weigh in on the costumes of the evening! 

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