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Friday, January 17, 2014

The Wolf Of Wall Street

Oscar Wolf of Wall Street dwarf tossing midget tossing film

If it’s one of those Friday nights where you’d like to have a wild night but need to get up early the next morning, then I have an idea for you — go see The Wolf Of Wall Street.

Exiting the theater on a wet, rainy Friday night, I felt like I just had a long evening of nonstop partying, excessive debauchery, and sidesplitting laughs. However, I really just sat inside a mall movie house for three hours.

Yeh, this film could have been edited down, but it never got boring and I laughed — a lot. As proven by the heartbreaking, tough, slow final moments of this film, director Martin Scorsese definitely had the right approach to the Jordan Belfort story by using excess and excessive comedy.

And Leonardo DiCaprio finally has his Gordon Gekko movie moment.

Simply put: Don’t go with the whole family.

Award potential: Despite 506 uses of the F word, expect nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay andBest Actor. It will probably rank fourth in the number nominations to a movie, but I don’t expect any wins.

The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks.

Inside Llewyn Davis

Songs from Inside LLewyn Davis

“If it was never new, and it never gets old, then it’s a folk song.”         -Llewyn Davis

Inside Llewyn Davis follows a week in the life of a struggling folk singer (Oscar Issac), as he navigates the pre-Bob Dylan Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961 and takes a road trip to find legendary producer Bud Grossman (Homeland’s F. Murray Abraham).

The music, overseen by T. Bone Burnett, cleverly corresponds with each concept of the story. And often, with this main character that is often short on words, the tunes complete the film’s thoughts.

With Llewyn, a musician slipping through the cracks, it seems the cynical, philosophical Coen brothers have a self righteous, self destructing hero that even they could love. Thoughtful audiences will too.

Folks will either find it to be a major downer or one of the most memorable movie experiences of the year. For me, it was the latter.

Simply put:  Offbeat and endearing to some; it’s a folkin' divider.

Award potential: Newcomer Oscar Isaac was nominated for a Golden Globe in the comedy/music category but the senior competition is too tough for the Best Actor Oscar. A Best Screenplay nomination is this film’s best hope at an Academy Award nod.

Yes, JT is just fine in his role but nothing more. Casey Mulligan, as she did in The Great Gatsby, Drive, Public Enemies and even Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, sucks the life out of every scene she is in.

The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Alan's Academy Award Nomination Predictions 2014

Academy Awards Predictions 2014 list
On Thursday morning, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and the Academy president will attempt to read off the nominees for the 86th annual Academy Awards. Here’s what’s gonna happen:

Best Picture  (If 8)
12 Years A Slave
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
The Wolf of Wall Street
(If 10)
Inside Llewlyn Davis
Saving Mr. Banks
Watch out for A wild surprise like The Great Beauty

Best Actress
Amy Adams, American Hustle
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Judi Dench, Philomena
Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks
Watch out for: As always, Meryl Streep

Best Actor
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years A Slave
Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Watch out for: The Gatsbys! Between the two 77-year old, original Great Gatsby co-stars, Bruce Dern gets nominated instead of Robert Redford (All Is Lost). If Leo DiCaprio, the current Gatsby, doesn’t make the list, Joaquin Phoenix (Her) instead of Redford.

Supporting Actor
Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Daniel Bruhl, Rush
Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years A Slave
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
Watch out for: Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street

Supporting Actress
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years A Slave
Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
June Squibb, Nebraska
Oprah Winfrey, The Butler
Watch out for: Octavia Spencer, Fruitvale Station. It would be a hoot to hear “Scarlett Johannson, Her.”

Best Director
Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
Spike Jonze, Her
Steve McQueen, 12 Years A Slave
Alexander Payne, Nebraska
David O. Russell, American Hustle
Watch out for: Paul Greengrass, Captain Philips

Adapted Screenplay
12 Years A Slave
Captain Phillips
Before Midnight
The Wolf of Wall Street
Watch out for: Writers Guild nominees August:Osage County and Lone Survivor

Original Screenplay
American Hustle
Blue Jasmine
Dallas Buyers Club
Watch out for: The Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis. No threat from Gravity

Animated Film
The Croods
Ernest & Celestine
Monsters University
The Wind Rises
Watch out for: Despicable Me 2

20 Feet From Stardom
The Act of Killing
Stories We Tell
The Square
Watch our for: The Crash Reel
Foreign Language Film
The Great Beauty, Italy
The Hunt, Denmark
The Broken Circle Breakdown, Belgium
The Missing Picture, Cambodia
The Notebook, Hungary
Watch out for: Two Lives, Germany

Best Cinematography
12 Years a Slave  
Inside Llewyn Davis 
Captain Phillips
Watch out for: Rush

Best Film Editing 12 Years a Slave
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Watch out for: The Wolf of Wall Street

Best Production Design  
12 Years a Slave
American Hustle
The Great Gatsby
Saving Mr. Banks
Watch out for: Inside Llwyen Davis

Best Costume Design 12 Years a Slave
American Hustle
The Great Gatsby
The Invisible Woman
Saving Mr. Banks
Watch out for: Inside Llewyn Davis

Best Original Score
12 Years a Slave  
All Is Lost  
Captain Phillips  
Watch out for: John Williams, the most nominated person of all time, for The Book Thief

Best Original Song 
"Amen”, All Is Lost
"Let It Go" , Frozen
"The Moon Song", Her
"Ordinary Love", Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom
"Young and Beautiful", The Great Gatsby
Watch out for: Happy, Despicable Me

Best Sound Mixing  
Captain Phillips
Inside Llewyn Davis
Lone Survivor
Watch out for: All Is Lost

Best Sound Editing
All Is Lost
Captain Phillips
Lone Survivor
Watch out for: 12 Years A Slave

Best Visual Effects  
The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug
Iron Man 3
Pacific Rim
World War Z
Watch out for: Love for a Sci-Fi film like Star Trek Into Darkness or Elysium

Best Makeup & Hairstyling
American Hustle
Dallas Buyers Club
The Lone Ranger
Watch out for: Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa. For real.


Academy Award Nominations 2014 OSCARS  siri and her
Her appeals to your head and your heart, with a character that has neither.

A withdrawn and newly single writer (Joaquin Phoenix) falls in love with his computer's highly advanced operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) in a very original boy-meets-operating-system romance.

Her is more than another idiosyncratic take on the world from Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation). It has a lot of serious stuff to say about life and love. More than most flicks this year, Her gives moviegoers a lot to think about and discuss.
Just like the main characters, romance and sci-fi are infused effortlessly. It’s not just one of the best movies of the year. It’s one of the best movies of the past ten years.

Simply put:  Siri, find a ticket now.

Award potential: Expect nominations for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. I’m hoping for Best Original Song. In another year, without strong performances from famous folks who really want the nomination, Joaquin Phoenix would be recognized despite his ambivalence to awards.

The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks.

Thursday, January 9, 2014


This black and white film has some of the most colorful characters of the year.

Director Alexander Payne (Sideways, The Descendants) takes us to small town Missouri and Nebraska for what turns out to be big fun at the movies.

For Bruce Springsteen fans, this black and white film immediately brings to mind Springsteen’s cover art for his 1982 album Nebraska. The songs on that superb album deal with ordinary, blue collar characters that face a turning point in their lives, but it’s a dark album with little hope. I thought that’s the movie I was going to see.

Nebraska is not a bleak film at all. I laughed at something from every character in this film: Bruce Dern, Will Forte, Stacy Keach, June Squibb and a collection of folks that are surely the real thing.

Simply put:  It’s a touching film that should not be overlooked.

Award potential: Bruuuuuuuuuce! A career performance by Bruce Dern (Coming Home,The Great Gatsby) destined to nominated and a front runner to win. The movie and June Squibb might get an Oscar nomination too.

The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Alan's Golden Globe Predictions - 2014

Tina Fey nude legs dress

Those kooky folks at the Globes picked Avatar over Hurt Locker – will they pick Gravity or Hustle over 12 Years A Slave?  Predicting what 90 random Hollywood Foreign Press members picked is a daunting task, but last year I was 82% correct, so here's what's gonna happen on Sunday night: 

Best Actor (Drama)
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
McConaughey’s best work in his comeback year.

Watch out for: Chiwetel Ejiofor if 12 Years a Slave sweeps. They love him and nominated him for Kinky Boots. He’s the frontrunner in most races, but I see this group checking the box for McConaughey.

Best Actress (Drama)
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
You could have called this one in July and I did. A highly respected, top tier actress playing an unforgettable character.

Watch out for: Sandra Bullock, who was in every stellar scene of Gravity, a film that might do a surprise sweep on the show.

Best Supporting Actor
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
This is a tough category, but Jared Leto in a dress has the edge.

Watch out for: The phenomenal Michael Fassbender in 12 Years a Slave

Best Supporting Actress
Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave
She’ll probably surprise as best dressed too.

Watch out for: American Hustle’s Jennifer Lawrence, who’s a frontrunner but handicapped only by being last year’s winner for Silver Lining’s Playbook.

Best Actress (Comedy or Musical)
Amy Adams, American Hustle
A well loved movie. A well loved actress. Anything could happen in the comedy category.

Watch out for:
The Euro-awesome Julie Delpy, in most unfunny movie of the year, Before Midnight. Really, that was a comedy?

Best Actor (Comedy or Musical)
Leonardo DiCaprio, Wolf Of Wall Street
This is an award that goes to actors like Jim Carrey, Sasha Cohen Baron and Robert Downey Jr. But this year we have Bale, Dern and DiCaprio with comedic roles in quality movies - so who knows. But Leo had never been better and is in almost every scene of this 3-hour film.

Watch out for: A lot of love for Bruce Dern, Nebraska, who would appreciate a win the most.

Best Animated Feature Film
The easiest call of the night. Monsters, University might have been a rival to watch out for, but it wasn’t even nominated.

Best Foreign Language Film
The Great Beauty, Italy
Hmmm. Do you think the Hollywood Foreign Press will appreciate the story of an aging journalist on his rounds through the excesses of the Eternal City in director Paolo Sorrentino's love letter to Federico Fellini's classic La Dolce Vita ?

Watch out for: A nod of support to the controversial Blue is the Warmest Color

Best Screenplay
Her, Spike Jonze
A very original, original script has an edge over the adapted ones.

Watch out for: The movie that sweeps: 12 Years a Slave or American Hustle

Best Original Song
Ordinary Day performed by U2 - Mandela: The Long Walk to Freedom
Inside Llewyn Davis’ American Folk music or Mandela and Bono? U2 is just what the Hollywood Foreign Press likes to reward.

Watch out for: A curveball from Let It Go from Frozen, performed by Wicked’s Idina Menzel

Best Original Score:
Steven Price, Gravity
This memorable score is the standout.

Watch out for: If Zimmer’s 12 Years a Slave is part of a big sweep.

Best Director
Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
Simply the most standout choice.

Watch out for: David O. Russell, in an American Hustle sweep or Steve McQueen in a 12 Years A Slave sweep.

Best Motion Picture (Comedy or Musical)
American Hustle
In a very competitive category of drama/comedy films and cool music soundtracks, American Hustle has all of this — and good timing.

Watch out for: The Wolf of Wall Street, and any movie in this category

Best Motion Picture (Drama)

I boldly predict the awards-love for Gravity and Alfonso Cuarón is going to start Sunday night, which will rock the front-runner status of 12 Years A Slave, the most worthy film but a film that might not have impacted  this group of foreign journalists.

Watch out for: Frontrunner 12 Years A Slave

The Person Tina Fey will think is funniest (Comedy or Musical)
Tina Fey

Watch out for: Tina Fey


Thursday, January 2, 2014

American Hustle

American Hustle fashion jennifer lawrence nude bradley cooper nude chest

Surprisingly, the story of the Abscam scandal is not a serious film. But it is a seriously good film.

Director David O. Russell’s skillfully executed American Hustle offers so many breezy pleasures while telling the serious story of the Abscam affair, the preposterous-but-true 1970’s criminal investigation in which the F.B.I. utilized a swindler to ensnare public officials.

The opening tag tells us, “Some of this actually happened,” and the film benefits from that heightened reality approach by utilizing its garrulous characters.

The casts of Russell’s The Fighter and The Silver Linings Playbook combined, plus Jeremy Renner and Louis C.K play these over-the-top characters zestfully. That means we get Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert DeNiro — all in their David O. Russell groove. Foxy!

Simply put:  Ridiculously entertaining and impeccably cast. Do the Hustle!

Award potential: Every actor above is a front-runner in his or her category. The film and director also are shoo-ins. Best Screenplay, Cinematography, Costume and more should place this film just behind 12 Years A Slave and Gravity for multiple Oscar nominations.

The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks.

Saving Mr. Banks

Emma Thompson Mary Poppins

A Disney Studios film about the backstory of how Disney’s Mary Poppins came to the screen in 1964 could have been something quite atrocious. It’s not.

Two-time Oscar-winner Emma Thompson (as Mary Poppins author P.L Travers) and fellow double Oscar-winner Tom Hanks (as Walt Disney) is a delight.

Much of the credit for this film has to go to Emma Thompson, who is in almost every scene. And Hanks makes for a likeable and animated Mr. Disney. The movie needed his Hollywood stature and personality to play such an American icon. And good news for those who saw The Sound Of Music Live, Carrie Underwood does NOT play Julie Andrews.

Ultimately, this is a light documentary subject for a feature film during award season, yet I was fully intrigued. In fact, I think I’m guilty of humming a song or two on the way out, and I downloaded a biography of P.L. Travers that night.

Simply put:  A delightful Hollywood true story, with just a spoonful of sugar to make this the perfect family film for the holiday season.

Award potential: Thompson and Hanks are likely nominees. Neither will win. The film may be too sugary self-aware coming from Disney Studios to capture a Best Picture nomination, but it’s on the shortlist of ten movies that will likely get a nod.

The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks.

The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug

will the hobbit be nominated for an Oscar

Bilbo Baggins is back. But is the second installment of Peter Jackson's trilogy worth another 161 minutes of your precious time?  

The middle film about the Hobbit and Middle Earth falls you-know-where between the first film, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and the fantastic The Lord Of The Rings trilogy.

The Desolation of Smaug jumps straight into the action and doesn't relent until the cliffhanger ending. This action-oriented addition to the series is a fine improvement over the slower first offering, which spent appropriate (but often slow) time introducing us to the film’s characters.
Only five of the book's chapters are adapted here — the rest is added for the film series. The Hobbit series would probably have made a single film that would be easier to praise, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself anyway.
Simply put:  Like the fab waterfall scene halfway in, it’s a fun action thrill ride for the holidays.

Award potential: The Hobbit series is an award-season downgrade from The Lord of The Rings series. Expect nods for Best Bakeup and Best Visual Effects, but nothing more.

The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks.