Roma (2018)

Roma

The family’s maid Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio) is closer than blood

It should come as no real surprise that a lot of the original films by Netflix are not that good. Some (at least ones I have seen and heard of) are pretty terrible. I would say that Roma is not one of them, but that is a putrid understatement. Here is one of the best films of this or any year, and to say it is not worth seeing because it is not in english or in color would show how shallow you are as a movie goer.

Like many brilliant films, Roma is both simple and complicated. It tells the story of a maid named Cleo (a stellar performance by Yalitza Aparicio). She lives in Mexico City during the 1970s, making her living as a maid for a middle-class family consisting of four children and a grandmother. Something happens in Cleo’s life that she is unsure how to respond to, and turns to the family’s mother Sofia (a rather overlooked performance by Marina de Tavira), who is struggling with the absent father Antonio (Fernando Grediaga). Their relationship is one of the corner stones of the film. The rest is worth finding out for yourself, though I will mention that the film’s true star is its director Alfonso Cuaron (whose last film, Gravity, won him the Oscar for Best Director).

Drawing from his own personal experiences, there is an oozing of authenticity in every frame of the film (more on the look of the film in a bit). There is a sense that Cuaron (who also wrote the script) went through nearly pain staking detail in every crevice of the story, making us feel like (at times) we are not even watching something fictitious at all.

Now on to the visuals. This is undoubtably the most beautiful film of 2018, and paints pictures better than anything CGI could even dream of. I admit I was a little surprised to find that Cuaron did the cinematography (I assumed it would be his collaborator Emmanuel Lubezki, the three-time Oscar winner of Gravity, Birdman, and The Revenant, for 2013-2015). Yet as stated before, he pays close attention to every detail. It reminded me of works from masters like John Ford and Yasujiro Ozu. He even makes a scene of cleaning up dog crap look gorgeous.

Parents, this is not a movie for kids. There is graphic nudity (frontal male), though not sexual, and a good amount of swearing and some violence. High School and above.

There is so much glorious work in this film that I want to talk about but know that it is best for you to find out (there is one scene in a hospital that is more intense than any of its kind I have ever seen). The only bad thing about this being a Netflix film is that it may pressure you to just see the film on your computer (or worse, a cellphone). This movie was made to watch on as big a screen as possible. As my good friend Kenneth said, “Friends don’t let friends watch Roma on a cellphone!”

 

Overall: Five Stars *****

And the Oscar goes to…

And-the-Oscar-Goes-to

 

Honestly, I am tired of the whole Oscarssowhite talk going around (I too wish it was more diverse, but it is not all the Academy’s fault: I mean, there were not many performances to begin with, sadly). Why can’t we just acknowledge the nominees as they are?

I have been doing Oscar Contests since I was about 13, and have learned as I went along (I used to think it was ok to have ties in catagories). I am not saying I know all the answers, but if you want to win an pool you may be in, here are my picks in all catagories (and reasons why)…

For a list of all nominees, visit

http://www.imdb.com/awards-central/oscars?pf_rd_m=A2FGELUUNOQJNL&pf_rd_p=2348233542&pf_rd_r=0KC5ZWBP7PAY2XWABKNB&pf_rd_s=right-1&pf_rd_t=15091&pf_rd_i=main&ref_=ac_ac_ac_lk10

Best Picture

Picture

 

Truly, the biggest award of the night is also the biggest toss up of the night. The PGA awarded The Big Short while SAG awarded Spotlight and DGA The Revenant. Those three are the top three closest to the finish line.

Being that The Revenant also should be winning Best Director and Best Actor, I have it down as winning Best Picture. Still, it is going to be a photo finish, so don’t be surprised if it goes to the other two (or even Mad Max: Fury Road).

Will win: The Revenant (65 % sure)

Could win: Spotlight, The Big Short

Should win: Room (my favorite of the year)

 

Best Director

 

 

Director

Only twice in history has a director won Best Director two years in a row. Being that he just won his second consecutive DGA award (the first time that has ever happend), it seems best to say that Alejandro G. Innaritu will win again this year for The Revenant (the DGA award has predicted Best Director at the Oscars all but 5 times in over 50 years). If there was a spoiler, it would be my personal pick, George Miller, for his incredible work on Mad Max: Fury Road.

Will win: Alejandro G. Inarritu, The Revenant (95 % sure)

Could/Should win: George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road

 

 

Best Actor

 

 

Actor.jpg

 

 

The wait is over. All who have been waiting for Leonard DiCaprio to win an Oscar will finally get to see the chance. Even one of his competitors, Eddie Redmayne, has stated he wants Leo to win. I would not be surprised if the other nominees felt the same way. It also helps that it is the best performance of the group. I personally can’t wait to see the standing ovation, and hear his speech.

Will win/Should win: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant (100 % sure)

Could win: No one really, but if I had to pick, it would be Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs

 

 

Best Actress

Actress

 

 

 

One of the reason’s I picked Room as my favorite movie of 2015 was the performance by Brie Larson. It is one that will go down in history, and an Oscar will only help it more. The only real threat is Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn, proving she is still one of the best young actresses around.

Will win/Should win: Brie Larson, Room (95% sure)

Could win: Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

 

 

Best Supporting Actor

Supporting Actor

“CREED”: (L-r) SYLVESTER STALLONE as Rocky Balboa in “CREED.” Photo: Barry Wetcher / Warner Bros. Pictures

 

 

 

 

I am still a bit upset that Room’s Jacob Tremblay was overlooked, but all the five nominees give stellar performances. Still, none was more surprising or as heartfelt as Sylvester Stallone in Creed. Tom Hardy is probably the next closest, proving he is one of the best actors working today. Still, expect a win for Rocky.

Will win/Should win: Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Could win: Tom Hardy, The Revenant

 

 

Best Supporting Actress

Supporting actress

 

 

I must admit I was not a huge fan of The Danish Girl, but I was impressed by the great turn by Alicia Vikander. Despite other great performances in the catagory, I feel she will win. However, it would be kind of cool to see Kate Winslet win, mainly to see her and Leo holding Oscars next to each other.

Will win/Should win: Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl (90% sure)

Could Win: Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

 

Best Original Screenplay

 

Original Screenplay

While Inside Out was the most original film of the last few years, expect the win to go to Spotlight.

Will win: Spotlight (90%)

Could win: Straight Outta Compton

Should Win: Inside Out

 

Best Adapted Screenplay

Adapted Screenplay

 

Even if the film was very confusing at times, expect this award to go to The Big Short.

 

Will win: The Big Short (90%)

Could win/Should win: Room

 

Best Animated Feature

Animated

While I have heard great things about Anomalisa, I doubt anything is beating Inside Out.

Will win/Should win: Inside Out (95% sure)

Could win: Anomalisa

Best Forgein Language FilmForgein Language film

 

 

I have not seen any of the films, but I have heard nothing but good things about Son of Saul, a film I am hoping to see.

 

Will win: Son of Saul (85% sure)

 

Best Cinematography

Cinematography

 

It is rare for someone to win consecutive Oscars, so it is even rarer for someone to do so three times in a row. Still, that seems to be the case for Emmauel Lubezki, after winning two years ago for Gravity and last year for Birdman. Expect him to win again for The Revenant, unless they finally give one to Roger Deakins (for Sicario).

Will win/Should win: The Revenant (85% sure)

Could Win: Sicario

 

Best Film Editing

Film Editing

The fast paced, yet somehow smooth editing of Mad Max:Fury Road should win.

Will win/Should win: Mad Max: Fury Road (80% sure)

Could Win: Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens

 

Best Production Design

Production Design

Despite the awesome looking images of The Revenant and the realistic looks of Mars of The Martian, the futuristic deserts of Mad Max: Fury Road should drive away with it.

Will win/Should win: Mad Max: Fury Road (70% sure)

Could win: The Martian

 

Best Costume Design

Costume Design

Sandy Powell is up against herself for Carol, but her work in Cinderella is what is the best of the bunch.

Will win/Should win: Cinderella (75% sure)

Could win: Carol or The Danish Girl

 

Best Make-up/Hairstyling

Make-up

Another award for the outstanding Mad Max: Fury Road.

Will win/Should win: Mad Max: Fury Road (70% sure)

Could win: The Revenant

 

Best Original Score

Original Score

I am as big a fan of John Williams as anyone, and his work in Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens is more proof he is the best film composer ever. However, he has already won five Oscars while another legendary composer, Ennio Morricone, has yet to win a competitive Oscar (he won an Honorary one a few years ago). Like Dicaprio and Stallone, expect a standing ovation.

Will win: Ennio Morricone, The Hateful Eight (90% sure)

Could win/Should win: John Williams, Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens

 

Best Original Song

Original Song

I won’t lie: I am not a huge fan of any of the songs, but the best one, “Til it happens to you” from The Hunting Ground, should bring an Oscar to Lady Gaga and (finally) Diane Warren.

Will win/Should win: “Til it happens to you”, The Hunting Ground (75% sure)

Could win: “Writings on the Wall”, Spectre

Best Sound Editing

Sound Editing

I am still trying to find out the difference between Sound Editing and Mixing, but expect both to go to Mad Max: Fury Road.

Will win/Should win: Mad Max: Fury Road (80% sure)

Could win: Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens

 

Best Sound Mixing

Sound Mixing

See above. Don’t bet against a rock band on trucks.

Will win/Should win: Mad Max: Fury Road (80% sure)

Could win: Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens

 

Best Documentary Feature

Documentary

Will win: Amy (80% sure)

 

Best Documentary Short Subject

Documentary Short

Will win: Body Team 12 (50% sure, and not just because they look like Minions)

 

Best Animated Short Film

Animated Short

Will win: World of Tomorrow (45% sure)

 

Best Live Action Short Film

Short film

Will win: Ave Maria (30% sure)

Best Visual Effects

Special Effects

The Revenant had one amazing bear attack and Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens gave us more Star Wars brilliace. Still, the fact that Mad Max: Fury Road had very little CGI effects, which is why it should win.

Will win/Should win: Mad Max: Fury Road (75% sure)

Could win: Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens

Top 10 Films of 2015

Top 10 films of 2015

 

It is true that some years have better movies than others (1939 and 1994 are prime examples). This does not mean some years are always bad, it just means you have to look harder for them. 2015 had movies you may have had to look harder for to see.

Of course, I did not see every movie that came out last year (I still need to see Beasts of No Nation and Straigh Outta Compton), but I do feel rather confident still with my top ten list ( in which good movies like CarolThe Big ShortWar Room, and Bridge of Spies did not crack the list).

 

Wild Card

Sicario

Benecio Del Toro and Emily Blunt in Sicario.

It may not have gotten all the love it deserved, but great acting and tension fueled Sicario, especially the great performance by Benecio Del Toro.

 

10.

Steve Jobs

Michael Fassbender reveals the iMac in “Steve Jobs”

Written by the always wonderful Aaron Sorkin, Michael Fassbender will most definetly get an Oscar nomination as Steve Jobs, also with equally great performaces by Kate Winslet and Jeff Daniels.

 

9.

The Hateful Eight

Jennifer Jason Leigh and Kurt Russell, just two of “The Hateful Eight”.

Basically, anything by Tarantino is worth seeing, and The Hateful Eight is no exception. It is fun to watch as much as it is for those who made it.

 

8.

Matt Damon portrays an astronaut who faces seemingly insurmountable odds as he tries to find a way to subsist on a hostile planet.

Matt Damon portrays an astronaut who faces seemingly insurmountable odds as he tries to find a way to subsist on a hostile planet.

The most surprising thing about The Martian is not the performance by Matt Damon, nor the supporting cast, but that Ridley Scott directed a movie with humor. That is rare.

 

7.

Spotlight

Possibly the front runner for Best Picture, Spotlight is the story of the true revelation of the dark secret in the Catholic Church in Boston, and beyond. Every actor brings their A game to this film.

 

6.

Creed

Stallone shows Jordan the ropes in “Creed”.

Nostalgic as well as new, Creed is all the things we love of the original Rocky flicks. Stallone is truly remarkable here in the role no one could duplicate.

5.

Star Wars The Force Awakens

Rey, Finn, and BB-8: the three new heroes of the galaxy.

Sure, the story was a lot like the original film, but Star Wars: The Force Awakens brings new characters (as well as old) to new life in a film that is not doing to shabby box office wise right now.

4.

The Revenant

Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Revenant”.

Filled with more realism and grit than any other film this year, The Revenant is a wonder to behold. It is also the ticket to that long awaited moment of calling DiCaprio an Oscar winner (and it would be well deserved too).

3.

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron team up in Max Max: Fury Road

I like to think of director Michael Bay watching Mad Max: Fury Road and taking notes. There is just enough story here to back up one of the best action flicks ever. Like Star Wars and The Revenant, this film shows why films should be watched on big screens, not small ones. It is like Lawrence of Arabia on caffiene.

2.

Inside Out

Fear, Joy, and Disgust are just three of Riley’s voices in “Inside Out”

Easily the most original film of the year, I feel that Inside Out will be like a fine wine: aging better through your years on earth. It ranks among the best animated films ever made.

1.

Room

Jacob Tremblay discovers what lies outside the room.

You know a movie is good when you can’t get it off you mind, even months after you have seen it. Such is the case for my number one pick of 2015, Room. I drove about an hour to the theater and an hour back, and it was worth every second.

Brie Larson is the front runner for Best Actress, and I have not seen a better performance by anyone (of any age) this year than that of 8 year old Jacob Tremblay. The film is likely to never be forgotten once seen.

The Revenant (2015)

The Revenant

Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Revenant”.

 

It is clear that some are good celebrities and some are good actors. It is the chose few that are good at both that we always like the most. Some names today include Hanks, De Niro, Pacino, Streep, Blanchett, Cruise, and Day-Lewis. Another name that fits that is DiCaprio.

I first saw him as a teenage hearthrob in Titanic, then saw him spread his acting wings in the early 21st Century in films like Gangs of New York and The Aviator. Now, he is one of the most famous, talented actors on the planet. All that is missing is an Oscar, and I think The Revenant will give him that.

The Revenant is based off of a real life frontiersman named Hugo Glass (DiCaprio). During a fur expedition, he is mauled by a bear (a scene that will defy belief for any viewer). Others in his company are set to press on, but some stay behind, including his son Hawk (Forrest Goodluck), Bridger (Will Poulter), and John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy).

(Warning: The following paragraph does have vo, but I feel to mention them because they are in the trailer.) Glass is so mutilated that Fitzgerald feels it is right to just end his life quickly, but Hawk does not agree. Eventually, Fitzgerald kills Hawk, Glass’s only family, and leaves Glass to die.

The rest of the film is the journey back to living for Hugh Glass. What surprised me a lot was how little dialogue Leonardo Dicaprio has in the film (although after the bear attack, I assume his vocals would be near extinct). It is just another way for us to remember how great an actor Dicaprio is.

The film also is more proof of how wonderful an actor Tom Hardy is (he does not have the star power of the names I mentioned before, but he is getting there). He is one of a handful of actors up for Best Supporting Actor consideration.

Now I get to the visuals, which are among the most dark, beautiful, and haunting you will see in a theater. Director Alejandro G. Inarritu (fresh off his Oscar win for Birdman) is as responsible for it as is the uncanny cinamatography by Emmanuel Lubezki, who won back to back Oscars for Gravity and Birdman. The visuals give the film its own layer of spirituality and grace.

Parents, there is a little nudity (two men from far away) and one soldier raping an indian woman (we just see thrusting, no nudity). Still, the R rating is for the violence. I know that Leo was not attacked by a bear, but I had to remind myself at times it wasn’t real. The R rating is justified.

For those who can handle The Revenant‘s grit, realism, honor, grace, spirituality, and dark harshness, it is definetly one of the best of 2015.

 

Overall: Four and a Half Stars ****1/2