In getting over a cold this week, I spent my weekend pretty low-key. I rested and caught up on some movies that came in for me at the library. *Score!*
One of the titles I watched was The Host.
Based on the Stephenie Meyer (author of the Twilight series) novel of the same title, The Host is the story of a futuristic world where aliens of some sort – read sparkly balls of electricity – have traveled the galaxy overtaking one planet after the other by surviving in host bodies. Melanie Stryder, played by The Lovely Bones’s Saoirse Ronan, is a member of the human rebellion that is fighting against them.
In the opening scene, Melanie risks her life by leading the “Seekers” away from her younger brother, and in turn, she is captured. She is placed as a host body for an alien lifeforce, but the transition is anything but smooth. Melanie is a fighter, and so her soul does not die, but becomes trapped in her body along with the alien force, who goes by the name Wanda.
I was curious just how “Stephenie Meyer” this storyline was going to be, and true to her voice, it’s a teenage love story with a triangle as well. Fans of Team Edward need only to tape over their t-shirts to read Team Jared, while Team Jacob groupies need to spray paint the name Ian over theirs. Father FAN-atics of the Team Carlisle breed are going to be disappointed when forced to vote for Team Uncle Jeb (played by William Hurt).
So – if you’re still with me on the storyline – Melanie/Wanda is living in the same body. Melanie loves Jared but Wanda has “human feelings” for Ian, and this after Ian tried to kill Melanie/Wanda, but then had a change of heart and swore he’d love Wanda even if she wasn’t Melanie/Wanda hybrid-humanost. Melanie gets mad when Wanda kisses Jared and Ian, yet there is a fair amount of kissing because this is a Stephenie Meyer story.
Melanie is a more redeeming female character than Bella Swan. At least Melanie never falls down just because. She cares about her brother, so I’ll give her that. But I’m still amazed at how fast these characters fall truly madly deeply in inter-species love. Vampire/Human, Human/Werewolf, Humanost/Human. But there’s a problem.
Wanda can’t be with Ian in her true form. Firecrackly electricity ball, remember? What’s a poor, little 1,000 year old sparkler to do?!
I’m not going to just TELL YOU! You have to see the movie! Or read the book. 😛
Overall, I think the film was better than Twilight, but its characterization is very similar. If you can forgive and forget that two people who met in a hostage situation moments prior can now be soulmates and ready to die risking their lives to be together, then you’re going to LOVE this movie!!!
If, however, you require your cinematic viewing pleasure to contain some semblance of realism, then might I suggest Dexter? 😉
What did you think? Did you enjoy The Host? Have you read the book?
How important is believability in the movies? When is it ok to suspend belief?
Some movies are fortunate enough to have their whole ensemble be absolutely stellar. And that is why Lincoln wins with the most Oscar nominations this year.
Check out the full nomination list from IMDB:
|Academy Awards, USA|
|2013||Nominated||Oscar||Best Achievement in Cinematography
|Best Achievement in Costume Design
|Best Achievement in Directing
|Best Achievement in Editing
|Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score
|Best Achievement in Production Design
|Best Achievement in Sound Mixing
|Best Motion Picture of the Year
|Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
|Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Tommy Lee Jones
|Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
|Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published
I mean, look at it! It’s nominated for all aspects of film-making! It’s no secret that Lincoln is going to be a tough contender to beat at the Academy Awards. Daniel Day-Lewis has already won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Drama and the film won Movie of the Year at the AFI (American Film Institute) Awards. And let’s face it, Day-Lewis has won half the times he’s been nominated! If this were the Kentucky Derby, I’d put my money on the horse named Lincoln!
The prize players are of course, Daniel Day-Lewis in the lead role, Sally Field, playing his wife Mary Todd Lincoln, nominated for Best Supporting Actress, and Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens, up for Best Supporting Actor!
But there are quite a few in this cast I would call out! For starters, who would have ever thought James Spader had it in him?! Spader plays W.N. Bilbo, a lawyer and lobbyist who fought for the 13th amendment. The last time I saw a movie and was like, “Yah, James Spader!” was Stargate! Kudos to him on his acting in this film!
Standing beside him is John Hawkes, a particular favorite of my boyfriend and I, who some of you may recognize from the indie flick Me and You and Everyone We Know. Not to mention his performance as Sol Star on HBO’s Deadwood series, and then as Teardrop in the 2011 Oscar nominated Winter’s Bone. If you ask me, he’s one to watch! A second film Hawkes played the lead in is up for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for costar Helen Hunt, called The Sessions. But in Lincoln, Hawkes plays Robert Latham, quite the dignified historical figure. Latham was a lawyer who became well known for winning a land case for the Eastern Cherokee Nation, and then became a U.S. Senator who fought against child labor and also gave us the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 which amounted to our current banking system and tender, the U.S. dollar.
Rounding out the trio of behind-the-scenes vote capturers, was Tim Blake Nelson as Richard Schell. Schell was another Senator, and later served in the House of Representatives. I’ve been a fan of Tim Blake Nelson since he did his own singing in O Brother, Where Art Thou.
And lastly, I had to smile when I saw Hal Holbrook on the screen portraying Preston Blair. He’s an Emmy and Tony Award winning actor, but he captured my heart portraying the older Jacob in 2011’s film version of Water for Elephants, a movie and book I enjoyed so much I smashed my face into a circus wagon to prove it!
The film Lincoln, I’ve heard, does shed the famous president in a very sunny light. I still think it’s incredibly well done and will always be prevalent to us as a society. It depicts the time right before Lincoln passed the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery. 147 years ago, the country was torn with the civil war. Death counts rose everyday. A possible peace treaty was in the works, and yet the amendment may not have passed had that treaty come to be first. Everything was about to change.
Interestingly enough, you can get a different perspective about the president with the release of Jennifer Chiaverini’s historical fiction, Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker. It just published January 15th, and it’s on my To Read Shelf.
I caught the title in the newest issue of BookPage. Chiaverini used the memoir written by Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley, Behind the Scenes: Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House, to write her new work. Keckley was a former slave turned dressmaker for society’s elite, eventually becoming the First Lady’s seamstress. While employed by the Lincolns, she witnessed her share of private moments between the tumultuous couple, and apparently the release of her memoir caused quite the scandal resulting in Mrs. Lincoln severing all ties with her after its publication!
I’m intrigued, are you?!!
Your take! Have you seen Lincoln? What did you think? Do you think a film about this period in history is still relevant?
What about Chiaverini’s new book? Don’t you want to know what Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley really thought about the Lincolns?
I’d originally planned to get my year end review of 2012 books out there, but you all know it was going to go on hold with the announcement of:
The 2013 Oscar Nominees!
With nine nominations for Best Picture, y’all better tie your kicks and scurry them butts to the theater in time to catch these flicks before awards night! On your mark, get set, say “Cinema!”
Are you ready? Cause I’m gonna call it like I see it!
Best Picture Nominees:
Amour kicks off the list, from Austria, and most likely to win Best Foreign Language Film, starring oldest Oscar nominee in history, Emmanuelle Riva (age 85), and Jean-Louis Trintignant as a retired couple whose love is tested when Anne (Riva) suffers an attack which will forever change their lifestyle.
- Argo – The surprising film that made it in, despite being released back in October of 2012, which in Oscar world may as well have been dog years earlier. Kudos to Alan Arkin for notching a second Oscar nom for the flick in the role of Best Supporting Actor. Arkin’s made a bit of a comeback for himself in indie comedies like Little Miss Sunshine and Sunshine Cleaning, alas as the film received no major notes for Best Actor (wasn’t shocked there, Ben Affleck, but still proud of ya!) or in Best Director, I’m afraid I’ll have to count this one out as a true contender for Best Picture.
- Beasts of the Southern Wild – Or what I’m calling, “This year’s slightly better contender than The Tree of Life“. Ah, remember that one?! It was nominated last year for Best Picture and it starred Brad Pitt. Millions of you flocked to the theaters and movie rentals and then came out going WTF??? I think Beasts of the Southern Wild is going to be this year’s art film entry, but one that is going to make a lot more sense. It’s a magical tale of a little girl named Hushpuppy (artsy film hint #1) who comes of age one summer amidst her father’s ailing health and some melting snow-caps that are causing flooding in her bayou home. There’s something about mythical beasts in there too… (artsy film hint #2) The film did wonders at the Sundance Film Festival and now, Quvenzhane’ Wallis (age 9) is the youngest person to be nominated for Best Actress. I gotta say, I think it’s sweet, but I don’t think the Academy…at least I HOPE the Academy would select another contender. Seems a lot to assume this 9 year old (8 at the time) performed better than any other actress out there! Especially ones who’ve trained and practiced their craft for years. Don’t wanna be an ageist, but I can see Naomi Watts throwing knives!!
- Django Unchained – Well, bite my tongue! They decided to let Quentin Tarantino in again! I’m ecstatic! But I’m afraid this nomination is all the glory Tarantino is going to see. Without other nominations in the key categories, I think we can safely eliminate this film from winning Best Picture. Too many rumors fled the entertainment news for me to be surprised that neither Kerry Washington nor Jamie Foxx were nominated. It’s a bit of a snub, if you ask me, that Leonardo DiCaprio didn’t receive one, but wild card winner could award a Best Supporting Actor to Christoph Waltz, now a Hollywood favorite since Inglorious Bastards. With a new spin on the story of slavery, I’ll be eager to see how the action drama does!
Les Miserables – For the last several years, any musical that gets nominated typically wins Best Picture. Remember all the hype Chicago got in 2002? Probably couldn’t pay most of you to watch the film now! But Les Miserables has all the facets: an all-star popular cast full of eye candy and talent plus a slew of pop culture trends and rising! Yes, yes, even Miss Susan Boyle, our very own Britain’s Got Talent queen has made the music from this movie popular! And well done Anne Hathaway, scoring a Best Supporting Actress role along with co-star Hugh Jackman, up for Best Actor! *wipes drool*
Life of Pi – Nominated for Best Director, Ang Lee, the awesome one who gave us Sense and Sensibility, is back with another Best Picture Nominee. Life of Pi, masterfully illustrates the story of Pi, a shipwrecked and castaway boy who faces the perils of the sea with the odd, but only other survivor, a Bengal tiger. I don’t know about this one yet as I haven’t seen it. I think Ang Lee stands a chance, but without any acting nominations, could it take home Best Picture? We shall see.
- Lincoln – Of course! Of course Daniel Day-Lewis comes out of actor hiding to score another Oscar nomination for Best Actor! Rewind to There Will Be Blood, Gangs of New York, and My Left Foot! The man is unstoppable! And with Steven Spielberg in the running for Best Director, this could be a triple threat! Except…it doesn’t end there! Sally Field is up for Best Supporting Actress and Tommy Lee Jones for Best Supporting Actor (Those of you who read my review of Hope Springs may be shocked to know I’m actually rooting for him this time!)
- Silver Linings Playbook – Fantastic news for fans of
The Hunger GamesWinter’s Bone, Jennifer Lawrence scores another Best Actress nomination opposite her co-star, Bradley Cooper, who has his own Best Actor nom. Kudos to Cooper for breaking away from such comic roles as The Hangover and The A-Team to take on more in depth characters with Limitless, The Words, and of course, this nomination for Best Picture. David O. Russell, up for Best Director, Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver both up for Best Supporting Actor/Actress leads me to believe that Silver Linings is going to be the strong contender against Lincoln and Les Mis.
- Zero Dark Thirty – The cinematic retelling of the Navy S.E.A.L. team that took out Osama bin Laden. From The Hurt Locker director, Kathryn Bigelow, first female to win the Best Director Award, Zero Dark Thirty has been highly anticipated. However, will this film hold the same weight for the Academy as The Hurt Locker? Bigelow was not nominated for director this year, but Jessica Chastain is up for Best Actress! Careful, Quvenzhane’, Jessica’s got guns! You guuuuys, I’m talking about her acting chops! Didn’t you see her in that artsy film The Tree of Life?!
There you have it! The 2013 Academy Awards nominees for Best Picture. For a full list of nominees, check out ABC’s ballot of all categories!
Your reactions?! What flick is your pick for the winner? Any titles you think were robbed of a nomination? Inquiring minds HAVE TO KNOW WHAT YOU’RE THINKING!!!
Oh, and want to know what I was slightly right about, but mostly wrong? The Hobbit! No nominations for Directing, Cinematography, Costume, or Original Song! It did however get noms in Visual Effects and Make-up, leaving me to fess up, I was “mostly” wrong, but slightly right.
First up! The winners of two recent blog giveaways! Winning the copy of Jody Hedlund’s new book The Doctor’s Lady is Justine! And the winner from the Life List Club Milestone Party and receiver of an iTunes Gift Card and blog swap is Bethany Wiggins! Congratulations Ladies!!
I did it. I saw The Hunger Games movie. My weekend was a little more fulfilling knowing I had the inside scoop on all things Katniss Everdeen!
Katniss played by 2010 Oscar nominee (for her role in Winter’s Bone) Jennifer Lawrence, was amazing as the renegade heroine. I really thought Lawrence did an awesome job embodying Katniss’ struggles throughout the competition. Her leading men, Gale, played by Aussie actor Liam Hemsworth and Peeta, played by Josh Hutcherson were also good pics for their role.
Now for the Guts:
The fact is I am an adamant proponent of seeing the film first! I know, I know, many of you are gasping for air right now. But that’s the way I do it. I see the film, and then if I really like it, it makes me want to read the book.
Here’s why: When you see the film and then read the book, you like the changes, it’s exciting, you learn more, the characters are developed. But do it in reverse, and you come out disappointed, because the book is always better!
So what did I think of the film version of The Hunger Games? I liked it a lot! I really did. However, it’s incredibly difficult to fit as much backstory and symbolism and characters as are in the book into a 2+ hour movie. They did a great job! But I came out thinking the book is so much better.
The Pros of the Games:
1. Effie Trinket’s Make Up – I will make this look happen, just you wait!
2. The Arena – Great set work using the woods and intense shots during the fire scene and battles. *Note: try to avoid sitting too close to the screen, the theater was packed when we went and we got a little motion sickness.
3. The Romance – For those of you speculating that this is just another Twilight, stop! The love triangle may be there, but it isn’t presented in a puppy love, mopey teenager kind of way. It’s life or death with the cameras watching!
Who will she choose?
The Cons of the Games:
1. Where’s the Mockingjay? – For people who haven’t read the book, it won’t be a big deal. But I was saddened by how little explanation or meaning went into the story of the mockingjay. My guess is we’re in for some serious flashbacks/backstory come time for the sequels.
2. President Snow – I adore Donald Sutherland, who plays the evil dictator Snow. However, he’s almost too laid back as Snow and while he’s creepy, he’s just not as creepy as he is in the book.
Overall, given the time limits I’m sure they had, they put together a good movie with some great actors, Jennifer Lawrence in particular. I’d watch it again! I recommend you see it! But know, you’re gonna like the book more!
Can’t Get Enough Hunger Games?
Holley Maher was Freshly Pressed for her post The Embarrassing Side Effects of Having Just Read “The Hunger Games”
My review of the book and author research can be found at The Hunger Games: Best Lack of Sleep You Ever Had.
Ellie Ann Soderstrom offers us a critical look at the writing of The Hunger Games.
AND, you know what else? There’s a little heated battle going on about the question of plagiarism because Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games bares striking similarities to Japanese novel Battle Royale. Maggie’s Bookshelf shares more information about the similarities here. Check it out! It’s an interesting discussion. I’m leaning towards the “not plagiarism” viewpoint, because if you’re going to point out Battle Royale, we may as well also toss Lord of the Flies and A Most Dangerous Game in there as well. Or any dystopian novel where the theme is about corruption of power.
But that’s just my opinion. Tell me what YOU think!
And, it wouldn’t be a movie post without a trailer! This video has all 4 trailers of the Games on it!