Oscars

February 27, 2017

2017 Academy Awards: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Biggest Night in Hollywood! The Night The Stars Shine! The Night People Wear Suits and Dresses! The Night White People Dance Awkwardly! The Night That Never Ends! The Night Trump Thinks Is Overrated! The Night, The Night, The Night!

So we close the book on another culmination of cinema, and all the bitching and moaning, and whining and complaining that goes along with it. The 2017 Academy Awards was a decent enough event this year with buffoonery, self-indulgent jokes, a run-time that just wouldn’t quit, and, oh yeah, some pretty nice moments as well. Here are just some of the Blondie, Angle Eyes, and Tuco moments from last night’s BIG EVENT!

  
A good amount of movies got some love last night. While “La La Land” took home six awards (I mean they were up for 14), films like “Hacksaw Ridge,” “Manchester by the Sea,” shoot, even “Suicide Squad,” yes, “SUICIDE SQUAD,” took home an Oscar! Leonardo Dicaprio and “Suicide Squad” now have the same amount of Oscars. Martin Scorsese and “Suicide Squad” now have the same amount of Oscars. Al Pacino…well, you get it…

305 Standup! It was a big night for “Moonlight.” Mahersala Ali took home the award for Best Supporting Actor, Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney took home the Adapted Screenplay Award and after one of the most awkward moment’s in Oscar history, took home the award for Best Picture (more on that later).

The Supporting Actor categories in this year’s show were some of the best in years, and I wouldn’t have been mad about anyone winning, but seeing Ali, and afterwards, Viola Davis winning, it was a sight. This is the first time that I can say I was with the choices 100%. However, there is an argument to be made whether Davis should have been in the Best Actress hunt. She dominated the screen-time in “Fences.” But at that point, who do you bump out of Best Actress. My pick would have been Meryl Streep, who already stole a spot that should have been Amy Adams’. Oh well, either way, I’m okay with the decision.

  
I’m over this notion that an award show has to be an extension of another show. This horrible trend started with Ellen DeGeneres and her selfies, and giving food to celebrities, and just this idea that we have to cater to celebrities who are already being catered to at an awards show. Enough! But this year brought things to a new level where we brought in people off the street with their selfie sticks and just general weirdness. It’s not bad enough that most celebrities don’t know how to act around people who are normal, ie, the general population, and say what you will, but Denzel Washington looked relatively bored and had of the face of “are you fucking kidding me?!” But that’s just me. Stupid skits tack on time to an already over-bloated show.

It’s embarrassing that people who win awards can’t be there to accept an award because of the “President of the United States.” Asghar Farhadi won the award for Best Foreign Language Film but wasn’t attending the Oscars because of what people don’t like to call the “Muslim Ban,” even though it actually is, let’s call it what it really is people. While Roman Polanski can’t attend because he’s a pedophile, Farhadi couldn’t attend because he wasn’t allowed by Donald Trump….YOUR President, America! There were also some shades of 1973’s Ceremony as well.

Me, personally, it’s pretty ugly to keep beating a dead horse. Yes, Hollywood, we know, you don’t like Donald Trump, but it gets to a point where, yes, we get it. The fact that big award shows keep giving this guy, Trump, a platform, and keep bringing him up, over and over again, BY NAME, is just stupid at this point. Tweeting him in the middle of the show with #merylsayshi is just dumb. How about this; concentrate on the actual show, and don’t give this narcissist a platform. The people who accepted the awards did a good enough job bringing up substantive content without our “fearless” host having to stop the show dead in it’s tracks to tweet an idiot. Sheesh!

The bungle that was Best Picture was an ugly clusterfuck of epic proportions. Sure, at the end of the day it made both “La La Land” and “Moonlight” look great, but everyone involved looked stupid, and at the end of the day it looks like it wasn’t Bulworth’s fault. But man, how do you mess that up, especially with tensions already at a boiling point. The knee-jerk reaction was, “oh Warren Beatty is a racist.” No, just no. Other people thought it was a sick joke, and laughed and wrung their hands in the air over Beatty’s screwy excuse (I was one of those people). It was just awkward and ugly, but a few handled it with grace under fire, and at the end of the day, winners emerged, but Jesus, how do you mess that up?!

Overall, still a fun show with some great people winning, and it’s always fun to see people argue about who should have won, and “La La Land” is overrated; stop people, just stop. Being edgy to be edgy is so 2016. 

February 8, 2017

SR and The LAMB Devour The Oscars: Best Director

Check out more posts over at The LAMB as we DEVOUR the Academy Awards!

It’s that time of the year again when every movie blog, podcast, expert, and everything, and one, that falls in between pontificates over who should win and bitches and moans when their favorite art-house film is snubbed or a specific movie just goes in and steamrolls the competition.

In this edition, we take a look at the nominees for Best Director. Unlike previous Oscar seasons, this year’s crop features a wide assortment of talent and comebacks. From Canadians to up-start wunderkinds and throw in a few grizzled veterans, this is one category that is sure to divide as well as surprise when the winner is announced February 26th.

Damien Chazelle – La La Land (WINNER)

Barry Jenkins – Moonlight

Denis Villeneuve – Arrival

Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester By the Sea

Mel Gibson – Hacksaw Ridge

This could be a lot tighter than most people think, but I think the smart money is still on Chazelle to win. Again, “La La Land” is about Hollywood and the Hollywood Dream, and I think sentimentality will play a key role in the win. Plus, it takes a lot of coordination and “direction” to make those dance numbers happen and look as perfect as they are.

The one thing that could play in some of the other nominees favor, namely Barry Jenkins, who could steal this one away, is the over saturation of “Land” and the high that “Moonlight” is riding. Would the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences dare make a statement so huge as to award Jenkins, who would be the first African-American to win the award, and the first African-American to be nominated since 2013, and only the 4th since 1991, the Oscar for Best Director? For one, it would be well deserved as “Moonlight” is possibly the greatest film of the year, it just so happened to be released the same year there happened to be revival musical that captured the imagination of millions.

I might also be a little impartial to Jenkins just because of the fact that he’s local to Miami, my hometown, and he created a film about what he experienced growing up in inner-city Miami. Much like John Singleton with “Boyz in the Hood,” Jenkins is covering what the mainstream media likely don’t care to cover and make light of even though it affects thousands in similar situations. It’s master class work.

As for Gibson, Lonergan, and Villeneuve, it’s pretty much better luck next time, but I would like to bring up Gibson’s return to the grand stage. This is Gibson’s first nomination since 1995’s “Braveheart,” which he won for, but also his first nomination since becoming a pariah to the human race, and hey, I’m not excusing anti-Semitic remarks, drunken rants, and just overall disgusting behavior, but hey, those things just might make you the next POTUS. I don’t think there’s ever been an issue with Gibson’s eye for direction. “The Passion of the Christ” might be painful to watch, but it’s still artfully directed. And say what you will about “Apocolypto,” but it’s an exciting and interesting look into a culture that we know so little about. Much like “We Were Soldiers” Gibson takes what he learned from that film, I feel, and injected heart, grit, and soul into a true story that is often looked over.

With all this being said, look for Chazelle to take home the gold, but don’t be surprised if Jenkins is able to strip it away at the last minute.

February 23, 2016

The Simplistic Reviews 2016 Oscar Prediction Podcast (Ep. 65)

FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY

You’ve heard from the experts…now hear from the madmen from Simplistic Reviews as they predict who will and who should win at the 2016 Oscars.  Don’t worry, the boys do their best to skate around the #OscarsSoWhite issue.  What, are you kidding?  They tackle it head on with enough irreverence that even Spike Lee flinch.  They also tackle other topics like R rated animation, Jennifer Lawrence on the precipise of being hated, and Harvey Fierstein…a lot of Harvey Fierstein.  All that and more on the Simplistic Reviews Oscar Prediction Podcast

NOTES
Harvey Fierstein in Independence Day
Morgan Freeman Car Accident

MUSIC
Hot Shot By Saun & Star
Across 110th Street By Bobby Womack
Strawberry Letter 23 By The Brothers Johnson

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January 27, 2015

The Theory of Everything

METHOD

The Theory of Everything – Method

Following the SAGs, and the win by Eddie Redmayne (now that’s a SAG and a Golden Globe for Redmayne) I finally decided, “Screw it, I need to find out what all the fuss is all about.” This brings me to “The Theory of Everything,” the, some might say, ultimate story of Stephen Hawking and his fight against ALS with the help of his first wife. At it’s core, “Everything” is what you would expect in a melodramatic biopic. There are happy moments, sad moments, moments of triumph, moments of loss, and many more moments. However, and I’ll be the first person to say maybe I was wrong, the performance of Redmayne is method and pretty extraordinary, but is that enough to drive a film to greatness?

So, the story of “Everything” is pretty well known at this point, especially if you know the story of Stephen Hawking, a man who’s career is nearly torpedoed by Lou Gehrig’s Disease……or so we think. We also see the up-and-down relationship between Hawking and his first wife, Jane, played by Felicity Jones. Other than that we get a few scenes when Hawking talks about black holes and radiation, but other than that, it’s a film about what two people will do to keep both a relationship and career working.

With that being said, is “Everything” a good film? Meh, it’s simply okay, as a film that is. This is the same problem that I had with “Foxcatcher.” The performances in this film and “Foxcatcher” are very well done, yet the film itself is simply “okay.” Nothing in particular stands out in “Everything” other than the fact that Redmayne buries himself in the mythos of Stephen Hawking. The mannerisms, speech, and pain you feel is real. You feel that Redmayne IS Hawking.

What also detracts from the film, for me at least, is the metaphor of between love, black holes, and Hawking’s disability. Sure, I know you need a plot device that both summarizes his theories and coincides with his relationship with Jane, but it seems forced and all together cliché. There is also the issue of his theories essentially glazed over. There are two scenes where his theories are brought up and slightly talked about. I also find it hard to believe that his theories were all based on love and the metaphor that he was a “star” being sucked into a black hole. Again, just my issues with hiding a serious subject inside a pseudo-cheesy love story.

The rest of the cast is decent enough with Jones pulling her weight and even the future Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) putting in a good performance as Jonathan Jones. Another thing I like is the conflict between Jane’s Christian beliefs and Hawking’s agnostic sensibility, but again, while it’s nice they touched on that aspect of their life together it seemed rushed and merely a footnote.

In conclusion, will Redmayne do what many people thought the unthinkable and upset Michael Keaton in this year’s Oscars? There are two things that I’m noticing at this time. With so many people comparing Redmayne’s performance to Daniel Day-Lewis’ in “My Left Foot” (which won Day-Lewis the Oscar) the odds are improving for him. Second, I liken “Everything” to “Amoure” another film that gained major momentum going into the Oscar season, and even dealt with very similar content. Combine that with the fact that Julianne Moor will likely win her first Oscar for “Still Alice” another film dealing with a character with a debilitating disease, this could be the upset that not many saw coming until now. While “Everything” isn’t “everything” it’s cracked up to be, it’s one of the best male acting performances of 2014.

If you like this review, VOTE FOR US HERE: http://www.geekcastradio.com/2nd-annual-gcrn-awards-2015

Fun Fact: Hawking’s seminal book “A Brief History of Time” was published in 1988 and has sold over 10 Million copies.

August 14, 2014

Simplistic Rememberance: Robin Williams

No death is easy to take, but you can rest easier if it’s someone that has lived a full life and their time has come. Whether it’s a family member, close friend, acquaintance, or in this case an actor, when it’s sudden, it kicks you right in the gut, and the news of the passing of Robin Williams is one of the most devastating in recent memory.

From his humble beginnings on TV playing Mork from Ork, to his stand-up on HBO, and his numerous film roles playing everything from a cross-dressing nanny to a 10-year old trapped in a 40-year old’s body, and his Oscar-nominated performances as a Vietnam-era DJ, a schizophrenic ex-professor on the edge, an English teacher who single-handedly invented YOLO, and of course his Oscar-winning performance as Will Hunting’s therapist who reminded Will it wasn’t his fault, the man did it all.

As a genie, an alien, a doctor with a clown nose, and of course Peter Pan, Williams was both the gregarious clown and the dark, brooding character we were surprised to see from time to time. While some actors are tight-cast as either dramatic or comedic actors, Williams was able to do it all. He could bring you to tears with one word and have you bent-over gasping-for-air laughing the next. Not many actors in the past 50 years, or even 100 years for that matter, have been able to strike the perfect balance between manic and hysterical, crushing and comedic, or simply happy and sad.

-Matt

We at Simplistic Reviews mourn the loss of one of film’s greatest actors, and there will never be another actor, or human being for that matter, like Robin Williams. Below are some of our fondest memories of Williams and some of our favorite films. Leave us a comment and let us know what you thought about his over 40 years of genius material.

DJ’s Top Three:

1. Good Will Hunting
2. Good Morning Vietnam
3. Popeye 

Matt’s Top Three:

1. Good Will Hunting
2. Aladdin
3. Death to Smoochy

Justin’s Top Three

January 18, 2014

The Simplistic Reviews Podcast: Oscar Nomination Reaction Special

It’s that time of the year again folks.  You might think “Oh, the time of the year where you continue to embarrass yourself with your inept film talk?”  Well, yeah, that too, but we’re talking about The Academy Award Nominations sillies.

Join DJ, Justin, and Matt as they go over the nominations, share their disdain for the people who got nominated and their joy for those who got snubbed.  It’s sure to be a super-rad time on this special edition of The Simplistic Reviews Podcast.

Show Notes:
Full List of Oscar Nominations 2014
Biggest Oscar Upsets
Worst Oscar Winners

Music Notes:
“All Gold Everything” By Trindad James
“Police Academy March” By Robert Folk

FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY.
Click HERE to listen to podcast

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January 16, 2014

Her

CREEPY

Her – Creepy

In the digital age, there has never been an easier time to find a partner and begin a relationship.  Whether it be a one-night stand, or something a little more meaningful, you can find “The Future (enter your name here)” quicker than you can send an e-mail these days.  However, there are others in the digital age that have decided that technology is a much more worth-while partner and have fallen head over heels with their smart phones, computers, and video game consoles.  Trust me, I love my phone and all my hi-tech gadgets, but they wouldn’t be able to replace the touch of a loving partner.  In Spike Jonze’s latest film “Her” he explores our infatuation with technology and how love can blossom from the most unlikely source.  It’s both a heart-warming and creepy exercise in film-making.

“Her” follows Theodore, played superbly by Joaquin Phoenix, a man going through a divorce and his own struggle to connect with people outside of his work, where he creates handwritten notes for strangers.  Looking for a new type of relationship, and to ease his own loneliness, Theodore purchases the new OS1 and we are introduced to Samantha, voiced by Scarlett Johansson.  Samantha, who is programmed to learn while in the care of Theodore, fills the void that was left when Theodore’s wife left, who is played by the overwhelmingly underwhelming Rooney Mara.  As their relationship continues, a bond is created that is both endearing and sweet, while still coming off as extremely creepy.

Once again, Phoenix is up to the challenge of carrying a film almost completely by himself.  He is the heartbeat of the film, appearing in nearly every single frame of “Her” and he is absolutely a delight.  It’s funny that just a few years ago he had had enough of Hollywood and was dead set on becoming the next great rap star.  Call him what you will, but when it comes to acting he remains one of the best in the business.

The supporting roles of Amy Adams and Chris Pratt are also strong, but if Phoenix is the heartbeat, than the soulful, husky, and seductive voice of Johansson is the soul of “Her.”  It’s very rare to be taken by a role that is solely voice-based, but the “chemistry” that Phoenix and Johannson share is something that needs to be seen and just goes to show how great of an actor Phoenix really is.  When you think about it he has to play off of himself most of the film and I don’t think most actors would be up to the challenge of creating something organic out of something that isn’t even there.  It’s reminiscent of Tom Hanks’ performance in “Cast Away” to a certain degree.

While “Her” showcases some great acting, it also showcases some very troubling and creepy moments.  Taking place in a not so distant future, will we become so jaded and self-involved that we will need the help of computers to show us how to be social and loving again?  Jonze has created a great conundrum where the act of being an introvert (talking/texting on your phone) is the only way to become an extrovert and enjoy life.  It’s fantastic psychology at work and is a touchstone for this current generation.

Overall, Jonze has created one of the most original love stories in recent memory.  It deals with people that have lost their way and need that extra push to get out and live a normal life, so to speak.  “Her” is a film that will surprise some, confound others, and probably creep out a few others, but that is what great films do; they make you feel emotion, want to talk about it, and maybe even make you want to become someone better.  That’s “Her.”

Fun Fact:  English actress, Samantha Morton, was originally the voice of Samantha before Scarlett Johansson was brought in to re-read all the dialogue for the film.

January 12, 2014

Simplistic Reviews Oscar Preview Podcast Trailer #2

What’s the one voice Sandra Bullock doesn’t want in her head while struggling to survive in space?  Yep…good ol’ Julie.

January 12, 2014

Simplistic Reviews Oscar Preview Podcast Trailer

Julie tries to fill in for ScarJo in the Spike Jonze Film Her.  Yeah…it’s as bad as it sounds. 

January 10, 2014

Dallas Buyers Club

Dallas Buyers Club – Breakout

BREAKOUT

It’s funny when you follow the career of certain actors.  Some start strong, and fizzle out.  Others start weak, and grow to have a great career.  Others decide to confound you for years and suddenly make you open your eyes and realize, “Wow, so that’s what they could do?”  Two actors in particular have shown that in recent years.  One is Woody Harrelson.  Sure, he plays a goofy white guy most of the time, but after an Academy Award nomination a few years ago, and a string of hits at the box office, you can say Harrelson is one of those guys who’s come a long way from where he started.  The other actor is Matthew McConaughey, another Texas hick who was mostly known for chick flicks early in his career.  But after two straight years of critically acclaimed films, you can say he’s one of those guys that definitely can act.  See “Fraility” and “Lone Star” for early proof.  Now you have, “Dallas Buyers Club” a breakout for McConaughey, and for one my money, one of the best performances in all of 2013.

“Dallas” is the true story of Ron Woodroof, an electrician and hustler who might come off a bit racist, homophobic, and womanizing.  All in all, he’s one of the worst human beings you’d be unlucky enough to meet.  Woodroof contracts the HIV virus which eventually turns into AIDS and leads him down a road of not only self-discovery, but also redemption as he fights the FDA while trying to bring in unapproved medicine from out of the country to not only help himself, but an entire sub-community in the Dallas-area suffering from HIV and AIDS.

Within the first 16 minutes of “Dallas” I was drawn in by McConaughey’s performance.  I found myself both hating him, and feeling extreme sympathy for his situation.  His portrayal of Woodroof was haunting and his dedication to the characters was on the level of Christan Bale’s performance in “The Machinist” which is a parallel that a lot of people are currently making.  The difference between Bale and McConaughey’s performances is the characterization.  I never felt anything really for Bale’s Trevor Reznor, whereas with Woodroof I found myself hating him, and come the end, complete compassion.

Aside from McConaughey’s standout performance, I’d also go as far as saying this is Jennifer Garner’s best acting since “The Kingdom” and it’s nice to see that Steve Zahn is still getting work.  But, you also have a star-making performance by Jared Leto, who plays Rayon; a transgender man with AIDS who befriends Woodroof and helps him open The Dallas Buyers Club.  Leto, who also fronts the band “30 Seconds to Mars,” is the perfect foil to Woodroof and his acting really surprised me.  I’m left to wonder why he doesn’t try his hand at Hollywood films more often, but I guess band groupies are more lucrative.  The relationship between Rayon and Woodroof is the heartbeat of the film and you’ll be crushed by Leto’s performance.

“Dallas” is a film that depends on it’s actors’ performances, and it won’t disappoint.  It explores one of the unsung “heroes” during the 1980s AIDS epidemic and casts a light on how there really isn’t any money in the CURE for diseases, only the medicine that is “HELPING” the disease.  There is no doubt that McConaughey will be a heavy favorite when the Oscars are announced later this month, along with Leto in a supporting role.  Acting doesn’t get much better than in “Dallas Buyers Club.”

Fun Fact:  “Dallas” is Jared Leto’s first film in four years, since 2009’s “Mr. Nobody.”   

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