Thursday Movie Picks: Superheroes - TV Edition

We have another TV Edition from Wandering Through the Shelves. This week we're talking about Superheroes. I decided to go with one show I enjoy now, and two I loved when I was a kid.

1) Daredevil

I was never a huge fan of Daredevil, especially after that disastrous Ben Affleck movie, but add a wonderful actor in Charlie Cox and Netflix's vision and this has easily become my favorite of all the Marvel TV efforts.  

2) Batman: The Animated Series

I loved watching this on Saturday mornings as a kid. Until Nolan got his hands on Batman, this was my favorite way to watch him. 

3) The X-Men

Another one I loved when I was a kid. I miss liking all things X-Men. I haven't enjoyed anything since X2. 

LAMB devours the Oscars - Supporting Actress

I case you missed it, this piece was originally published over at LAMB for "LAMB devours the Oscars."

In 2014, I got to talk about the supporting actors for LAMB Devours The Oscars. This time around, I've got the actresses. Though there's a clear winner in this category, it's full of strong performances. I'm going to talk briefly about some of the things I adored from each one of these talented ladies.

Octavia Spencer - Hidden Figures

At first, Octavia over her co-star Janelle MonĂ¡e bothered me slightly. It just felt too "safe." In retrospect, it makes sense. Octavia's Dorothy Vaughan is one to take charge. She organizes and holds everything together. Her hard work, like Spencer's pays off. It's easy to rally behind her. Spencer plays Dorothy very calmly, even though you know she has so much more to say. She keeps it professional. In a powerful moment when Kirsten Dunst's character attempts to justify her stance on racism, Dorothy's short reply, "I know you probably believe that" speaks volumes. 

Nicole Kidman - Lion

The minute Nicole Kidman's Sue walks on screen, I immediately just wanted to hug her. She radiates warmth. Sue is an unbelievably strong woman. She loves her adopted sons so much, and when Saroo explains he's been looking for his birth mother, she responds with "She needs to see how beautiful you are." Kidman's performance is extraordinary. She only gets a short amount of time on screen, but she makes every minute of it worth it. 

Michelle Williams - Manchester by the Sea

If you've read my blog, you know I'm one of the few who isn't a fan of this film. Michelle Williams for me is the only one that breathed some life into it. This is a cold film, I wasn't connecting with any of the characters on screen, then Randi showed up. Only sporadically at first, but it's her final scene that made me feel something. She brought me to tears when she apologized to Lee about everything that happened after their own personal tragedy. Then as soon as she left, all that emotion left with her. She was the strongest part of the film. 

Naomie Harris - Moonlight

Moonlight was a film I never wanted to end. When we first meet Paula in her work clothes, you don't sense that she has drug problems. Watching her spiral out of control and verbally abuse her son, Chiron is heartbreaking. Of all the nominated performances, Paula is the only character I hated. It's unfair, addiction is a disease, but it's impossibly not to care about Chiron so much. To think that Harris shot her entire part in three days in the middle of a press tour, and that she conjured those types of emotions is nothing short of amazing. 

Viola Davis - Fences

And then there's our winner. (Seriously, no one else is going to take this) Okay, technically it's category fraud. But it's not as glaring as Alicia Vikander and Rooney Mara last year so I'm willing to excuse it. (just like I do for Dev Patel in Lion too, by the way) Viola is an absolute powerhouse in this film. Rose is everything. She's loving, she's the caretaker, the mediator, and often the biggest voice of reason. This family would not function without Rose and she makes that known. I can't help but be in awe with what Viola does here. 

Which actress gave your favorite performance? 

Review: A Cure For Wellness

The creepy resort where no one ever returns is totally safe.

Lockhart (Dane DeHaan) is an ambitious executive for a powerful company in New York. Once the big wigs get word of a hit of a scheme he pulled, he's sent off to Switzerland to retrieve his colleague who went to a wellness center and has no intention of returning after sending an ominous letter. When he gets there and meets with Dr. Volmer (Jason Isaacs) he starts to realize that what's packaged as a luxurious spa is far more than it seems. 

I feel like the filmmakers took what was actually an interesting concept and said "Make it look like Shutter Island!" It's impossible not to see the comparisons between the two. It almost seems like DeHaan was cast simply because at certain angles he looks like Leonardo DiCaprio. It's not a quick shot here or there either. Since A Cure For Wellness moves at an absolute snails pace, you're forced to contemplate the similarities more and more.

The Spa's secret ends up being a bit of a convoluted mess. Lockhart also meets a mysterious girl, Hannah (Mia Goth) who's entire arc is built up to a creepy sexual assault scene that made me think my eyes were never going to return from the back of my head. Even without them trying to be like a superior movie, it feels all the good ideas they had were wasted on the faulty structure. 

I really like DeHaan and he's the reason I went to see this, and while he gives a good performance, I can't shake the fact that he was probably cast for his looks. Jason Isaacs does the exact same thing he did in The OA earlier this year, so it's more of the same. Mia Goth is intriguing, but her role is essentially that of a mysterious object.

Recommended: No

Grade: C-

Memorable Quote: "I'm a special case." - Hannah (Mia Goth)

2017 Oscar Predictions: Who Will Win, Who Should Win

We're a week a way from the Oscars, now it's time for predictions. For what it's worth, I always get the technical categories wrong. Seriously, I have to look up the difference between Sound Editing and Sound Mixing every year for a reminder. You'd think after doing this for 8 years I'd remember. Anyways, here's who I think will win, and in some cases, who should in. 

Best Picture
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell Or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Manchester By The Sea
Who will win: La La Land
Who should win: Moonlight or Hidden Figures
La La Land NOT winning at this point would be a bigger shock than Crash swooping in over Brokeback Mountain. I like La La Land a lot, I just happened to like a few other films more. 

Best Actor
Casey Affleck - Manchester By The Sea
Andrew Garfield - Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Gosling - La La Land
Viggo Mortensen - Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington - Fences
Who will and should win: Denzel Washington
I'm making a bold prediction here. I think Denzel will have gathered enough steam to beat Casey Affleck. Sure, Affleck will have the Globe and likely the BAFTA later today (they didn't even nominate Denzel) but him winning the SAG is huge. I think Casey's sexual assault accusations will catch up to him and it'll show on Oscar night.

Best Actress
Isabelle Huppert - Elle
Ruth Negga - Loving
Natalie Portman - Jackie
Emma Stone  - La La Land
Meryl Streep  - Florence Foster Jenkins
Who will win: Emma Stone (or Isabelle Huppert as a dark horse)
Who should win: Natalie Portman
Natalie Portman not winning this is a shame. Seriously, she's spectacular in Jackie. I haven't seen Elle yet. My theater has it, but I don't know if I can sit through it. I'm not sure if the Academy will award her in a rapey film over Emma in their Oscar darling.

Best Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali - Moonlight
Jeff Bridges  -Hell Or High Water
Lucas Hedges  -Manchester By The Sea
Dev Patel - Lion
Michael Shannon - Nocturnal Animals
Who will win: Mahershala Ali
Who should win: Him, Patel, or Shannon.
I love Ali in Moonlight and I will be so happy when he wins. I do think Dev Patel was better in Lion though. 

Best Supporting Actress
Viola Davis - Fences
Naomie Harris - Moonlight
Nicole Kidman - Lion
Octavia Spencer - Hidden Figures
Who will and should win: Viola Davis
There's no one else. 

Best Director
Denis Villeneuve - Arrival
Mel Gibson - Hacksaw Ridge
Damien Chazelle - La La Land
Kenneth Lonergan - Manchester By The Sea
Barry Jenkins - Moonlight
Who will and should win: Damien Chazelle
La La Land was wonderfully directed. I think he takes this along with Best Picture. 

Best Cinematography
La La Land
Who will and should win: Moonlight
I don't see this as a lock for La La Land. I think Moonlight looked better. 

Best Documentary Feature
Fire at Sea
I Am Not Your Negro
Life, Animated
OJ: Made in America
Who will win: 13th
Who should win: ?
I haven't seen I Am Not Your Negro yet, but I think that has a decent chance of winning too. I've only seen 13th and OJ: Made in America. I like both, but I really don't think OJ should've been eligible here. It was a mini series. Who went to see a 7 hour doc in theaters?

Best Documentary Short Subject
4.1 Miles
Joe’s Violin
Watani: My Homeland
The White Helmets
Who will win: Watani: My Homeland
Who should win: ?
I haven't seen any of these, I'm just guessing based off their subject matter.

Best Live Action Short
Ennemis Entreniers
La Femme et le TGV
Silent Nights
Who will win: Sing
Who should win: ?
Again, I haven't seen any of these. Sing seems to have the best reviews, so Silent Nights sounds like something I'd watch. 

Foreign Language Film
Land of Mine
A Man Called Ove
The Salesman
Toni Erdmann
Who will win: Toni Erdmann
Who should win: A Man Called Ove
I've only seen Ove, but Toni Erdmann has been winning everything. I think The Salesman could see a surge too, so I wouldn't count that out. 

Best Sound Editing
Deepwater Horizon
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Who will and should win: Arrival

Best Film Editing
Hacksaw Ridge 
Hell or High Water 
La La Land 
Who will win: La La Land
Who should win: Hacksaw Ridge
The only thing Hacksaw has going for it is that the 2nd half is very technical and should win, but La La Land needs to rack up more wins. I think they'll take one here. 

Best Visual Effects
Deepwater Horizon
Doctor Strange
The Jungle Book
Kubo and the Two Strings
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Who will win: The Jungle Book
Who should win: Doctor Strange
I can't see anyone but Jungle Book taking this, though I think Doctor Strange was the best film visually I saw all year. Still pissed Civil War didn't make it in. 

Best Costume Design
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Florence Foster Jenkins
La La Land
Who will and should win: La La Land
Present day films never win in the costume category, it's always older ones or period pieces. I'd like to see La La Land take this one just for Mia's wardrobe alone. 

Best Makeup and Hair Styling
A Man Called Ove
Star Trek Beyond
Suicide Squad
Who will win: A Man Called Ove
Who should win: Anyone but Suicide Squad
Star Trek Beyond has great make up but I could see the Academy going for a quieter film like Ove. It would be a very deserving win.

Best Sound Mixing
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
Who will and should win: Hacksaw Ridge

Best Original Score
La La Land 
Who will win: La La Land
Who should win: Jackie, Moonlight, Lion.
Those three had amazing scores that beautifully shaped their movies. I would really rather them win. La La Land score wise had Mia and Sebastian's theme, which I liked. But it wasn't as good as the others. I'm not very confident that it will win here, but I think the Academy will try to give it as many Oscars as possible in categories where they can pretend it was the best. 

Best Original Song
“Audition” - La La Land
“Can’t Stop the Feeling!” - Trolls
“City of Stars” - La La Land
“The Empty Chair” - Jim: The James Foley Story
“How Far I’ll Go” - Moana
Who will win: City of Stars
Who should win: How Far I'll Go
How Far I'll Go is catchy AF. I've been listening to it ever since I saw Moana. City of Stars is a great song too (though I like Audition better) so I think it wins. Still bitter about Drive It Like You Stole it not being here. 

Best Adapted Screenplay
Hidden Figures
Who will and should win: Moonlight
I love all of these films. I think Hidden Figures might actually have a shot at winning this now too, but it should stay with Moonlight which was the boldest film of the year. 

Best Original Screenplay
Hell or High Water 
La La Land 
The Lobster 
Manchester By the Sea 
20th Century Women 
Who will win: La La Land
Who should win: The Lobster
La La Land, while a great film does NOT have a great screenplay. It shouldn't be in this category at all. The Lobster is by far the most original thing here. 

Best Production Design
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 
Hail Caesar
La La Land 
Who will and should win: La La Land

Best Animated Feature
Kubo and the Two Strings
My Life as a Zucchini
The Red Turtle
Who will and should win: Zootopia
That's still my favorite animated film of the year. I haven't seen Red Turtle or Zucchini. I'd be happy with a Moana win too. Kubo, while pretty, wasn't the greatest

Best Animated Short
Blind Vaysha
Borrowed Time
Pear Cider and Cigarettes
Who will win: Piper
Who should win: ?
I've only seen Piper and I love it. I can't say much else. 

Indie Gems: Latter Days

Why are you all named Elmer?

Elder Aaron Davis (Steve Sandvoss) is a Mormon missionary that is sent to Los Angeles. It's his first time away from home. He meets his new neighbor, Christian (Wes Ramsey) a gay man that doesn't hide his sexuality, even though it makes Aaron's fellow Elders (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rob McElhenney and Dave Power) angry. Christian at first is amused at their discomfort, so when his friends casually bet him to try to sleep with Aaron, he's all for it.

There's plenty of movies with this plot line, but none quite like Latter Days. It's a very green film, in fact the opening scene almost looks right out of a corny 80's movie despite being filmed in 2003. But don't let that throw you off. I felt very moved by the story, even though you can tell only some of the actors were seasoned. It's a testament of how much heart it really has.

While I watched it for Joseph Gordon-Levitt, his part is very small. Sandvoss and Ramsey have incredible chemistry together. They may be a bit stereotypical but they have enough depth not to feel like caricatures.  While it's not the best made film out there, it keeps you interested and leaves you with a lot to think about.

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "Having sex for my career would be noble." - Andrew (Khary Payton)

Thursday Movie Pick: Shakespeare Adaptations

This week's theme from Wandering Through the Shelves is movies adapted from Shakespeare's work. Thankfully this theme leaves a lot of wiggle rooms because there's plenty of films that are loosely adapted, and those work for me. I'm going to share my favorite, one that I forgot was based on Shakespeare, and one that I have a really stupid memory of. 

1) 10 Things I Hate About You

Loosely based on "The Taming of the Shrew" This one is my favorite. I love the cast and it's just so fun. It's easily my favorite rom com of all time. 

2) My Own Private Idaho

Loosely based on Henry IV. I love this movie, but I almost always forget that Van Sant was basing this on Henry IV. Aside from some the way some of the characters speak, it's very subtle. Either way, great film.

3) Romeo and Juliet (1968)

Now here's my stupid memory. We read a lot of Shakespeare in my freshman lit class and our teacher showed us this film. Being as we were all hormone driven teenagers, all anyone seemed to take in was the fact that Juliet's boobs were huge. Our teacher tried to fast forward through their "love scene"and ended up hitting play right as we got a shot of a topless Juliet. I swear no one laughed hysterically.

Everyone laughed hysterically. 

2017 Blind Spot: The Three Colors; Blue, White and Red

What I knew going in: I had read plenty of reviews on each of the films.

Blue: "Liberty" - Julie (Juliette Binoche) loses her husband and young daughter to a car crash. Now she's determined to shed every thing from her old life and to keep to herself in Paris. However the music from her composer husband's last piece of work haunts her, and she can't shake it.

Reading the synopsis of each film,  I thought Blue would be my favorite but it's kind of a downer. However, it really is an incredible piece of filmmaking.  I like how introspective the film was. It had to be that way, because that's how Julie lives now. She's distancing herself, and the film almost distances us from her. While I would normally hate the "fade to black" cuts director Krzysztof Kieslowski uses frequently, I like how it sort of forced us to focus on the music instead. B

White: "Equality" Karol (Zbigniew Zamachowski) is a Polish man living in France, but is divorced by his wife, Dominique (Julie Delpy) and forced to move back to Poland with no money. He starts to forge a new life for himself, but he has one thing on his mind now: Revenge.

White needs some serious suspension of disbelief at times. A little more than I'm willing to give, unfortunately. I really liked the characters of Karol and his new friend, Mikolaj (Janusz Gajos) and acting wise, they were fantastic. They elevate the story. I wasn't a fan of the ending, mostly because I just don't understand how Karol could still feel the way he did after everything that happened. Blue and Red will probably stick with me for a long time, but I can't see White doing that.  B-

Red: "Fraternity" Valentine (Irene Jacob) is a model living in Geneva. She accidentally runs over a dog one night (don't worry, he lives) and when she tracks down the dog's owner, she finds a retired judge, Kern (Jean-Louis Trintignant) who has taken to wire tapping his neighbors phone calls. They form a unique friendship over his crime.

Red takes a while to get going. I had the strangest sensation while watching this film. It's like I was just idly enjoying it, then it hit me; wow. I really love Valentine and Kern's relationship. I always feel like I can relate to curious characters. Valentine's curiosity is what propels their friendship. There's a subplot with her neighbor, Auguste that I thought was a massive waste of time, though it makes sense at the end, but even that couldn't dampen just how invested I was in Valentine. They talk about love whilst eavesdropping and I felt like I was falling more in love with the film as it went on. A-

I'm glad I got ambitious with this. I can see why this trilogy is so highly regarded from a film making standpoint. You can tell by my ratings what order I'd put them in. I definitely recommend all three.