Saturday, January 25, 2014

American Hustle

I was excited about this movie from the moment it was first announced. I love most of David O'Russell's movies, especially Silver Linings Playbook. So how was American Hustle? Well, it may not be my favorite movie of his but it was still pretty good.

American Hustle is loosely based on a true story. It's about a con man named Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale in a fat suit) and his partner Sydney Porter (Amy Adams). They end up being forced to work for a crazy FBI agent, Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper). It takes them into the dangerous world of politicians, the mafia, etc. The stakes are high and Irving's wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) could very well screw things up if they're not careful.

First lets start off with the best thing about this movie- the acting. David O'Russell tends to use a lot of the same actors in all of his movies. I really have no problem when a director does this as long as the movie is well made and the performances are good, as is the case here. In this he brings together an amazing cast including Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence (who David worked with on Silver Linings Playbook) as well as Christian Bale and Amy Adams (who both appear in The Fighter). There's also a few other actors in this that I recognized from Silver Linings Playbook, but I can't remember their names.

I must say, David O'Russell knows how to get incredible performances out of his actors. I really can't think of a bad performance in this. The only thing is I felt Jennifer Lawrence was a bit too young for the role of Rosalyn. She gave a great performance don't get me wrong, but it took awhile to get use to. Anyway, I can see why the cast is getting nominated for all these awards.

Another thing I loved was the look of the movie. Everything from the costumes to the way the movie was shot really made you feel like you were in the 70's. At the beginning of the movie when they show the production company logos they used the original logos from that time period. I thought that was pretty cool. Even the soundtrack fits in perfectly.

Now onto the not so good things. There weren't too many but one of them was I felt that the story itself wasn't the best. It wasn't bad necessarily but the pacing was weird and the editing could've been a little tighter. The ending also was weak. I could see what was going to happen from early on in the film. It would've been nice to see a few surprises thrown in there.

I was debating for awhile on how to rate this movie. Normally I'd take points off if the story wasn't great, but the performances more than made up for it.

A lot of people are saying that American Hustle could pull off an upset and win big at the Oscars. To be honest, I hope it doesn't even though I liked the movie. Do I think it deserved to be nominated for all these awards? Sure why not. Should it win Best Picture? No. I still think 12 Years a Slave should get that. I could go on forever about my feelings about the Oscars, but I'll spare you from listening to another one of my rants. For now anyway.

American Hustle is one of those movies that you go and see strictly for the acting. Despite some flaws, it's still a movie that I highly recommend.

My Rating: 8/10

Sunday, January 19, 2014


My first actual review of 2014! I'm happy to say that it's for a good movie.

I hadn't really planned on seeing Her, but I decided to give it a chance since I heard a lot of positive things about it. Plus it's nominated for Best Picture and every year I try to see all the Best Picture nominees.

Her is a science fiction film that takes place in the not so distant future. It tells the story of a man named Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), a lonely letter writer whose about to finalize his divorce. He sees an advertisement for the worlds first artificially intelligent operating system, known as OS1. Of course, he purchases one and is immediately drawn to Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). the voice of his OS1. As time goes by, Theodore and Samantha become very close and eventually fall in love.

Sounds crazy? Of course it does. That's what I thought at first, but as the movie went on I found it to be surprisingly sweet. There were even some funny moments. It's such a well made movie that you forget that Samantha isn't "real" (in the sense that she doesn't have a physical body).

Aside from the whole OS aspect, I think the movie did a great job  realistically portraying the ups and downs of a relationship.

The acting was great all around. Joaquin Phoenix gives a brilliant performance as Theodore. If the Best Actor category had more than five nominees I'd say he would've made the list this year.

I'm not sure if Scarlett Johansson was there on set when Joaquin was doing his scenes or if she was alone doing the voice in a recording studio. Either way, she does an amazing job portraying a variety of emotions without actually being on screen.

There were so many other great actors in this that I just don't have the time to talk about all of them- Amy Adam, Rooney Mara, Chris Pratt, Kristen Wiig, etc.

Her is directed by Spike Jonze, whose previous films include Where the Wild Things are as well as several shorts. I love how in this film he explores the idea of what it means to be human. There's also some really nice cinematography in here as well.

My only real complaint is that the ending is very predictable. Not that it was bad by any means, but I could see it coming from a mile away.

I have a feeling Her is going to be one of those films that people either love or hate. At the screening I was at I saw two people walk out. But I would say give it a chance. You may be surprised like I was.

My Rating: 8/10

Thursday, January 16, 2014

My 2014 Oscar Predictions

Overall I’m pretty happy with this year’s Oscar nominations. My only real complaints are that Tom Hanks didn’t get nominated for Captain Phillips (although I understand that there were just so many great performances and only five can be nominated. I do agree with all the choices for Best Actor though.) and neither did Hans Zimmer for his beautiful, haunting score of 12 Years a Slave.
So here are my predictions. Let’s hope I do better with these than I did with the Golden Globes. Like I’ve said in previous prediction posts, these are the people who I think WILL win, not necessarily who I WANT to win. I’d love to hear what you guys think.

Best Actor:
·        Bruce Dern- Nebraska
·        Christian Bale- American Hustle
·        Chiwetel Ejiofor- 12 Years a Slave
·        Leonardo DiCaprio- The Wolf of Wall Street
·        Matthew McConaughey- Dallas Buyers Club

Best Actress:
·        Amy Adams- American Hustle
·        Cate Blanchett- Blue Jasmine
·        Judi Dench- Philomena
·        Sandra Bullock- Gravity
·        Meryl Streep- August: Osage County

Best Supporting Actor:
·        Barkhad Abdi- Captain Phillips
·        Bradley Cooper- American Hustle
·        Jonah Hill- The Wolf of Wall Street
·        Jared Leto- Dallas Buyers Club
·        Michael Fassbender- 12 Years a Slave

Best Supporting Actress:
·        Jennifer Lawrence- American Hustle
·        Lupita Nyong’o- 12 Years a Slave
·        June Squibb- Nebraska
·        Julia Roberts- August: Osage County
·        Sally Hawkins- Blue Jasmine

Best Picture:
·        12 Years a Slave
·        The Wolf of Wall Street
·        Her
·        Captain Phillips
·        Nebraska
·        Gravity
·        Dallas Buyers Club
·        Philomena
·        American Hustle

Best Director:
·        Steve McQueen- 12 Years a Slave
·        David O’Russell- American Hustle
·        Alexander Payne- Nebraska
·        Alfonso Cuaron- Gravity
·        Martin Scorsese- The Wolf of Wall Street

Best Animated Feature:
·        The Wind Rises
·        The Croods
·        Despicable Me 2
·        Frozen
·        Ernest & Celestine

Best Original Score:
·        Gravity- Stephen Price
·        Philomena- Alexandre Desplat
·        The Book Thief- John Williams
·        Saving Mr. Banks- Thomas Newman
·        Her- William Butler & Owen Pallett

Best Visual Effects:
·        Gravity
·        The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
·        Star Trek Into Darkness
·        The Lone Ranger

·        Iron Man 3