Posts Tagged ‘Morgan Freeman’

Oscar Predictions and Preferences – 2010 Edition

Samstag, März 6th, 2010

Award Season is Crazy Season. If you follow these things at all, you have been bombarded by information about the superiority of one film above another for months now. If you blissfully ignore all that stuff, you might even not have heard that a producer on The Hurt Locker is in trouble for trying to convince Academy voters to vote for his film instead of Avatar. His crime: sending an e-mail to his friends. Yes, things are crazy. So it is a good thing that with the Oscar telecast on Sunday, Award Season will be over. Until May or so, when the first discussions for next year’s favourites and winners will begin once more.

But before the Oscars, the most important of all the meaningless awards, are handed out on Sunday, it is time for my annual Oscar predictions. Last year, I picked 19 of the 24 winners. This year, let’s try to improve on that. But unlike last year, this year I actually feel like I am entitled to my own opinion, having seen 20 of the 58 animated films, 18 of the 38 feature films, and actually having seen all nominated films in three categories. So not only will I now predict the Oscar winners as promised, I will also tell you who should win. (Yes, my opinion constitutes objective truth in these matters.) The following list is ordered rather randomly and incomplete, an alphabetical and complete breakdown of all categories and predictions follows at the end.

(weiterlesen …)

Invictus – Minute Movie Review

Dienstag, Februar 23rd, 2010

Review:

In Post-Apartheid South Africa, Nelson Mandela is elected president. He struggles with the reconciliation between black and white people that he knows is necessary for his country to have a future, so he decides to task the national rugby team – a sport just for the white people – to win the world cup and bring the nation together. The story, based on true events, is predictable enough, but it is well staged and powerful enough to be moving on its own. The political messages mixed in with the average sports underdog drama make the film a bit unusual, which works to its advantage. It’s not a great film by a long shot, but it’s good enough.

Random Observations:

Invictus at the IMDb

Morgan Freeman in the lead role is very good and very convincing. He certainly deserves the Oscar nomination he got.

Matt Damon as the captain of the rugby team, on the other hand, is rather bland. My guess is he got nominated for the Dutch accent he sports.

The nicest staged interactions between the (formerly) warring factions are those between the black and white bodyguards of the President.

I don’t know much about rugby, but it’s certainly a more interesting (and intense) sport than its American cousin, which they call football despite having the ball in their hands all the time.

I’m always fascinated by the power of mass sports events to bring people together and bridge their differences. Smart move by Mandela to use that for his political goals.

Unforgiven – Minute Movie Review

Sonntag, Januar 3rd, 2010

Review:

In this Clint Eastwood western – he both directed and starred – an old killer comes out of retirement to help get a new life for his two young children. Together with his old partner and an overeager “kid” he sets out to Big Whiskey to kill two cowboys that cut up a prostitute. But the sheriff of the town has other ideas, beating another killer who has come to town half to death before sending him packing. With a set-up like that, it is obvious that things can’t end well. This western is about as revisionist as they come with its cruel and accurate depiction of violence and the consequences of it. Here, there is no glory, only defeat, and that message is driven home through the great performances by the main and supporting cast in this rightful Best Picture Oscar winner.

Random Observations:

Unforgiven at the IMDb

Clint Eastwood also won the Oscar for Best Director, his first.

The Ten Best Movies of 2008

Mittwoch, Januar 7th, 2009

Everybody loves Top Ten Lists, right? You can never get enough of them, correct? If you read one to the end, you want nothing more than start looking at the next one, or am I wrong? In any case, I like Top Ten (or basically any other number) Lists. I know they are silly and arbitrary and highly subjective, but they are still fun – even if one just reads them to poke fun at the author(s). So to start my own habitual list-making off, I hereby offer you the TEN BEST MOVIES OF 2008!

(weiterlesen …)

Minute Movie Review – Batman Begins

Donnerstag, März 20th, 2008

Review:

After 1997′s “Batman & Robin“, a successful comic book movie franchise was dead – and rightfully so. But in 2005, Christopher Nolan, the acclaimed director of “Memento” and “The Prestige“, revived it. Deciding to start all over, he tells the story of how Bruce Wayne, a billionaire, became Batman, the darkest of popular comic book superheroes. A brooding tale of revenge, Batman Begins actually focuses on story-telling and character development – and it does so extremely well. With a stellar cast (Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy…) and a brilliant director, those parts work extremely well. The action sequence, who here are supposed to be the icing on the cake instead of being the entire cake as is usual for blockbuster movies, don’t work quite so well. Nevertheless, as far as popular comic book adaptations go, there is none better.

Random Observations:

Batman Begins at imdb.com

The obligatory sequel, The Dark Knight, will be released this summer. And it certainly looks as if it could really get the whole franchise running again. Katie Holmes has been replaced with Maggie Gyllenhaal (who can actually act) and Heath Ledger will star in his second-to-last performance and the one he himself said he was most proud of as the Joker.

Compared to other movies in this genre (the earlier Batman films, Spiderman and so on), this one sets a new standard for gritty realism. Batman is not a superhero because of special powers, but because he wants to revenge his parents’ murder and do something good in the world. His opponents aren’t caricatures with “magical” weapons, but instead very real humans with very real ways of hurting people. Sure, you sometimes have to suspend your disbelief in this movie, but not to the same extent usually necessary.

Minute Movie Review – Se7en

Samstag, März 15th, 2008

Review:

A new detective’s in town – and when he is partnered with one close to retirement, neither is very happy. But a series of brutal killings fashioned after the seven deadly sins bring the unlikely pairing together – and closer to the solution of the case. Grisly images, good acting and several plot twists drive Se7en, but in the end it is nothing more (or less) than a slightly above-average, visually stunning thriller with some major plot issues.

Random Observations:

Se7en at imdb.com

This is the first collaboration between Brad Pitt and David Fincher (the second being “Fight Club“). For Pitt, these films are probably the reason he is seen as more than a pretty face and actually a decent actor.

For me, the plot holes at the ending ruined the movie slightly. It’s still good, but not spectacular. But I know that many people would say that there really are no plot holes. I guess in the day and age of the internet, you can just claim anything.

Minute Movie Review – The Bucket List

Donnerstag, Februar 7th, 2008

Review:

When two dying men are put in the same hospital room, they put their differences aside and become friends. And when all is just a matter of time, they decide to go through their bucket list and do all the things, they always wanted to do. The film is not a great movie, but it is decent entertainment for 90 minutes. It’s funny, it’s touching (in a Hollywood manipulative way, of course) and not quite as predictable as I expected.

Random Observations:

The Bucket List at imdb.com

Does Jack Nicholson have an evil smirk or what?

I got nothing else. Sorry, the movie was just okay, neither particularly good nor so bad that I could make sarcastic remarks. So get your fix elsewhere, okay?

Minute Movie Review – Gone Baby Gone

Donnerstag, Dezember 27th, 2007

Review:

For the most part, Gone Baby Gone is a typical thriller: A child has gone missing and police and private investigators are trying to find her. But it soon becomes obvious that not everything is as it seems and before the end the movie has changed into a full blown morality tale, leaving you wondering how you would have acted. All this is expertly directed by Ben Affleck (yes, the actor), with great performances from a great cast. Especially Casey Affleck (yes, a relative of Ben’s) as the lead character gives a very convincing performance.

Random Observations:

Gone Baby Gone at imdb.com

This is Ben Affleck’s directing debut, unless you count a short movie from 1993 with the strange title: “I Killed My Lesbian Wife, Hung Her on a Meat Hook, and Now I Have a Three-Picture Deal at Disney“.

The movie is based on the novel by Dennis Lehane, which has received a lot of critical acclaim.

Amy Ryan as the drug-addicted grieving mother also gives a very convincing performance.

Maybe this will get Ben Affleck his next Oscar – he already has one for his script for “Good Will Hunting” (shared with Matt Damon). Surprisingly though, he has never been nominated as an actor…

It’s a perfect 10!

Donnerstag, November 8th, 2007

The always great IMDB (Internet Movie Database) offers registered users the chance to rate movies on a scale from 1 to 10. As somebody with a lot of time and even more interest in movies, I have done so (as of November 8th 2007) 342 times. Out of the 342 movies, I rated 12 as 10. Here is, in alphabetical order, the list with short explanations. Please note that I am aware that some of these movies are far from perfect. I nevertheless enjoyed them immensely. It would also be inadvisable to compare these movies to each other – my ratings are more based on what I felt about the film than on objective facts. That is why they are my ratings.

About Schmidt

I see this movie as Jack Nicholson’s best. And considering his life’s work, that is saying something (Chinatown anyone?). It is a nice story of a senior in the United States that is lost after losing his job. Don’t expect great action sequences or special effects from this movie – just a nice story with incredible acting and some extremely funny passages.

Die Brücke

The only German movie on this list and at the same time the oldest. Die Brücke (The Bridge) is an anti-war story of several boys who are charged with defending a bridge at the end of World War II. Never before and never again has a movie so brutally showcased the senselessness of war in general and of the Third Reich in particular.

Brokeback Mountain

To say that Brokeback Mountain is simply the story of two gay cowboys is not enough. The movie is a masterpiece in almost every aspect: A moving, extremely realistic story, superb acting from everyone involved and just beautifully shot. Despite the subject, the movie never gets sappy, preachy or homophobic.

A Clockwork Orange

I watched this movie after I read the book, which is a masterpiece in its own right, and was surprised at just how much better it is. I see this as Stanley Kubrick’s best movie, easily surpassing the usual favourite “2001: A Space Odyssey”. Caution: This is by far the “darkest” movie on this list.

Down by Law

And now we come to one of my favourite filmmakers, the great Jim Jarmusch. As much as I love all of his work, with the possible exception of “Stranger than Paradise”, Down by Law is his best movie. Who could ever forget “I scream, you scream, we all scream – for ice cream.” Possibly the funniest line in movie history.

Fucking Åmål

The second (and last) non-English movie on this list. This Swedish film is a touching love story as well as a nice coming-of-age story. The titular city, Åmål, is small and not exactly exciting for teenagers, so most just want to leave. The twist: the love story is of two girls.

Lost in Translation

My second favourite movie ever. A love story of sorts between a young American philosopher and an aging movie star who are stranded in Tokyo. Slow, character-driven and sometimes extremely (intentionally) awkward, but overall just great. Bill Murray has never acted better and Sofia Coppola proves with this movie, after her promising debut “The Virgin Suicides”, that she has inherited her father’s talent.

Love Actually

Probably the “lightest” movie here. Just a straightforward romantic comedy (British!), with not one but a dozen love stories. It’s funny and always good for Christmas, which is of course all around. The star-studded cast makes this movie even better.

The Matrix

Yes, I still think the Matrix is a great movie. You just have to ignore the two sequels. I think everybody has seen this one, so there really isn’t much to say. It’s a great science fiction story, well made and though-provoking. What else could you ask for?

Million Dollar Baby

Two-thirds in I wondered what the big deal was. Up to that point, Million Dollar Baby is just a usual feel-good sports story which has you cheering for the underdog. It’s nice, with brilliant acting and so on, but nothing special. But the ending changes everything and makes this movie truly unique. It’s the movie I’m most unsure about including in this “elite” company (and incidentally also the latest addition), but the ending deserves it.

The Royal Tenenbaums

This is my favourite movie. It’s a Wes Anderson movie and I like all of his work. But The Royal Tenenbaums is easily the best among them. The story is typical Anderson (and Owen Wilson, his usual co-writer), a unique blend of humour and melancholy. Royal, the father of three brilliant kids, wants to come back to his family after living in a hotel for decades. At first he justs wants to come back because he is broke, but slowly he begins to care for his family and the other members of the family begin to care for each other. If the fact that this is my favourite movie is no reason for you to watch it, just take a look at the cast list: Gene Hackmann, Bill Murray, Owen and Luke Wilson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Anjelica Houston, …

V for Vendetta

Finally, an action movie on this list (apart from Matrix)! Well, true, but also so much more. This comic book adaption, incidentally from the Matrix creators (the movie, not the comic, that’s from Alan Moore), is even better than its source material. In a Britain where a new tyranny is reigning, a single “terrorist” sets out to make things right. The story is very well versed, with many great actors (Hugo Weaving, Stephen Fry, Natalie Portman among others), just the right amount of humour and action sequences to spice up the political story.