Saturday, January 31, 2015


It's about damn time the movie theater I go to started showing this! Technically they had it last week, but the showtimes just didn't work out for me then. Everyone I've talked to has been praising this movie and now I can see why. Wow! I was blown away by how good it was.

Whiplash is about a talented young drummer named Andrew Nieman (Miles Teller) who attends a prestigious music academy in New York City. He's accepted into the studio band of famous music instructor Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons). Fletcher's methods of unlocking a student's potential are very controversial... and that's putting it mildly.

I sat there in the theater just in awe at the amount of effort director Damien Chazelle put into this movie. Everything about it is amazing- the cinematography, editing, music, etc. I was very impressed with what he was able to do with a $3 million dollar budget.

I was surprised just how good Miles Teller was. The only thing I had seen him in before this was Divergent and he was pretty forgettable. That's not the case here. He's actually a decent actor and a hell of a drummer!

But as much as I liked Miles Teller, we all know the real star of this movie is J.K. Simmons. I've always been a fan of his, but I had no idea he could pull off a performance of this magnitude. His character is crazy- one minute he seems calm and then next minute he just snaps! Anytime he was on screen I swear I felt more tense than I would watching a horror movie. It's pretty safe to say that J.K. Simmons is a lock to win Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars.

That being said, if I had anything "negative" to say about the movie is that there's a small romantic subplot that, though I understand what the director was trying to do, I felt was unnecessary. They could've removed it entirely and the movie would've been just as good.

Even if you're normally not into these types of movies I still think you should go see Whiplash. J.K. Simmons performance alone is worth the price of admission.

My Rating: 9/10

Monday, January 26, 2015

My 2015 Oscar Predictions

For the most part, the nominations this year weren't really a big surprise. The one that did piss me off was The Lego Movie not getting nominated for Best Animated Feature. What the hell Academy?!? Anyway, here are my predictions. As I've said in previous years, these are who I think WILL win and not necessarily who I WANT to win. I'm only going to do the main categories, with my pick in bold print-

Best Picture:

  • American Sniper
  • Birdman
  • Boyhood
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • The Imitation Game
  • Selma 
  • The Theory of Everything
  • Whiplash
Best Director
  • Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Alejandro G. Inarritu, Birdman
  • Richard Linklater, Boyhood
  • Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
  • Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game
Best Actor:
  • Steve Carrell, Foxcatcher
  • Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
  • Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
  • Michael Keaton, Birdman
  • Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
Best Actress:
  • Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night
  • Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
  • Julianne Moore, Still Alice
  • Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
  • Reese Witherspoon, Wild
Best Supporting Actor:
  • Robert Duvall, The Judge
  • Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
  • Edward Norton, Birdman
  • Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
  • J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
Best Supporting Actress:
  • Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
  • Laura Dern, Wild
  • Kiera Knightly, The Imitation Game
  • Emma Stone, Birdman
  • Meryl Streep, Into the Woods
Best Animated Feature:
  • Big Hero 6
  • The Boxtrolls
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2
  • Song of the Sea
  • The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

Saturday, January 17, 2015

American Sniper

Wow! That's probably the best word I can use to describe Clint Eastwood's latest movie. I've been looking forward to this ever since it was first announced and I was not disappointed.

American Sniper tells the true story of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle (played here by Bradley Cooper), who is regarded as the most lethal sniper in US military history with 160 confirmed kills. The movie is based on his autobiography.

I've always been a big fan of Clint Eastwood, even though his last few movies haven't been the best. I'm happy that he's finally getting back in the right direction. American Sniper is a very real, gritty movie. Clint doesn't shy away from showing the brutal effects of war. Nor does he make it so gory to the point of only doing it for shock value the way other directors might.

The action scenes were so tense that I was literally on the edge of my seat the whole time. As much as I loved those scenes, I also thought the "quieter" moments between Chris and his wife Taya (Sienna Miller) were well done. It's heartbreaking to watch the affect of what Chris has been through and the toll it takes on not only him, but his family as well. I've been fortunate enough to know quite a few members of the military and their families and I can tell you that they were spot on. Very realistic.

Of course, I can't write this review without talking about Bradley Cooper's (well deserved) Oscar nominated performance. He worked his ass off to prepare for this role, including gaining over 40 pounds. But more than that, he was able to capture the spirit of who Chris was. During the credits they show footage as well as pictures of the real Chris and I swear Bradley looks just like him. It's very eerie. From what I've heard, Chris's family is very pleased with the performance and the movie itself.

Everyone needs to stop what they're doing right now and go see this incredible movie. It hits you right in the feels. My only regret is not being able to see it sooner (it got a very limited release around Christmas). Otherwise it definitely would've made it into my top 10. There's always my 2015 list :)

My Rating: 10/10

Saturday, January 10, 2015


My first review of 2015! I originally was going to see Taken 3 but after hearing all the negative reviews, I decided to see this instead. It looks like I made the right decision. Selma was a very good movie.

Selma is, of course, a Martin Luther King Jr. biopic. Rather than chronicle his whole life, it instead focuses on the three month period in 1965 when King lead a very dangerous campaign in order to secure equal voting rights. This includes the march from Selma to Montgomery.

The thing that really stood out for me was the powerful performance by David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King Jr. I think he looks quite a bit like him but more importantly, he captures the spirit of who King was. When you're watching him giving speeches in a church you really feel like you're there. It honestly gave me goosebumps I was so captivated. Even though there's a lot of competition this year, I really hope David gets an Oscar nomination.

The movie is directed by Ava DuVernay, although if you were like me and went into this not knowing that you would swear Lee Daniels was the director. It features many of the same actors that were in The Butler. Anyway, up until this point she had directed mostly TV shows and a couple of independent movies. What I was really impressed with was that she didn't shy away from showing just how brutal this time period was (as brutal as you can be with a PG-13 rating). There were a few moments though, and I've heard this from others as well, that felt a little too "Hollywood". Luckily those moments are brief and don't take you out of the movie for very long.

Despite some minor flaws, Selma is still a well made historical movie that everyone should see.

My Rating: 8.5/10