Tag Archives: Leonardo DiCaprio

88th Annual Academy Award Predictions

28 Feb

Wow, it’s that time of year again.  Another year that neither you nor I will not be winning a gold statue and the recognition of our peers.  Another year that Hollywood will praise each other for making it into a small circle of elitism.  Another year of dresses and jewelry more expensive than what most Americans could ever own or dream of.  Another year of gift bags worth hundreds of thousands of dollars!!!

2015 was a strange year for film, one that Bret Easton Ellis calls “the worst year for American film ever”.  Tell us how you really feel!  Did you see the films?  I saw most of this year’s films, and the only Best Picture nominee I skipped is Bridge of Spies.  Quite honestly, it looked like a snoozefest and we get it, Tom Hanks and Stephen Spielberg are important entities.

Here are my predictions of winners, along with who I believe SHOULD WIN!!!

Best Picture

  • “The Big Short”
  • “Bridge of Spies”
  • “Brooklyn”
  • “Mad Max: Fury Road”
  • “The Martian”
  • “The Revenant”
  • “Room”
  • “Spotlight”

WILL WIN:

Spotlight.jpg

“Spotlight”.  The Best Picture category seems to swing away from the films that win for acting and directing.  For some reason, I feel like this will win Best Picture.  However, I have some criticisms of this film.  I think they were trying to make a contemporary “All the President’s Men,” and the subject matter and era simply do not fit.  How many times did we see Mark Ruffalo frantically running?  Did we need that? Why was Liev Schreiber’s character so boring?  Why was he there?

SHOULD WIN:

“The Revenant”.  This was the best film of the year.  I was captivated.  Linda Holmes of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast called it a “theater of pain”.  Honestly, if that’s what this film is, I love theaters of pain.

Best Actor

  • Bryan Cranston for “Trumbo”
  • Matt Damon for “The Martian”
  • Leonardo DiCaprio for “The Revenant”
  • Michael Fassbender for “Steve Jobs”
  • Eddie Redmayne for “The Danish Girl”

WILL WIN:

Leonardo DiCaprio The Revenant.jpg

Leonardo DiCaprio for “The Revenant”.  What a performance.  Leo has been nominated many times and he’s never won.  He’s played many roles and nailed all of them.  He is, quite honestly, the greatest living actor of his generation.  This was a simple performance, but it highlighted his strengths.

SHOULD WIN:

Leonardo DiCaprio for “The Revenant”.  There is no other choice for me.

Best Actress

  • Cate Blanchett for “Carol”
  • Brie Larson for “Room”
  • Jennifer Lawrence for “Joy”
  • Charlotte Rampling for “45 Years”
  • Saoirse Ronan for “Brooklyn”

WILL WIN:

Brie Larson Room.jpg

Brie Larson for “Room”.  Larson’s performance was simply astonishing.  This film had me captivated the entire time.  Larson was calm and complex in this role.  She deserves this.

SHOULD WIN:

Brie Larson for “Room”.  See Above.

Best Supporting Actor

  • Christian Bale for “The Big Short”
  • Tom Hardy for “The Revenant”
  • Mark Ruffalo for “Spotlight”
  • Mark Rylance for “Bridge of Spies”
  • Sylvester Stallone for “Creed”

WILL WIN:

Creed.jpg

Sylvester Stallone for “Creed”.  I think Stallone will get this award as a default achievement award.  They tend to give Best Supporting Actor to older guys.  He also won the Golden Globe.

SHOULD WIN:

Tom Hardy Revenant

Tom Hardy for “The Revenant”.  Tom Hardy is a superior actor and he impresses me very time he is onscreen.  Did you see Locke?  What about Legend, where he played two very different twin brothers?  This guy is a powerhouse who deserves an award soon.

Best Supporting Actress

  • Jennifer Jason Leigh for “The Hateful Eight”
  • Rooney Mara for “Carol”
  • Rachel McAdams for “Spotlight”
  • Alicia Vikander for “The Danish Girl”
  • Kate Winslet for “Steve Jobs”

WILL WIN:

Alicia Vikander The Danish Girl

Alicia Vikander for “The Danish Girl.”  Alicia has a lot of heat in her career right now, and I see her picking up this award.  She won the SAG Award as well.  I actually think her performance in Ex Machina is more worthy, but The Danish Girl was an obvious prestige film that was released during awards season on purpose.

SHOULD WIN:

Jennifer Jason Leigh for “The Hateful Eight.” If you haven’t seen her in this film, just get ready to be shocked by the transformation.  She is a little powerhouse.

Best Director

  • Adam McKay for “The Big Short”
  • George Miller for “Mad Max: Fury Road”
  • Alejandro G. Iñárritu for “The Revenant”
  • Lenny Abrahamson for “Room”
  • Tom McCarthy for “Spotlight”

WILL WIN:

Alejandro G. Iñárritu for “The Revenant”.  I have a feeling that the single shot that opens this film is Best Director-worthy.  I also feel somehow that The Revenant might not win Best Picture, which means they will give Best Director to Inarrritu.

SHOULD WIN:

Adam McKay for “The Big Short.”  This was an amazing film from someone who normally does lowbrow comedy.  I was truly impressed.  I cannot wait to see more heavy subject matter from McKay.

Best Original Screenplay

  • Matt Charman and Ethan Coen & Joel Coen for “Bridge of Spies”
  • Alex Garland for “Ex Machina”
  • Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve and Josh Cooley for “Inside Out”
  • Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy for “Spotlight”
  • Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff for “Straight Outta Compton”

WILL WIN:

Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy for “Spotlight”.  This is a tough call for me since the Golden Globe winner, Aaron Sorkin, was not nominated for Jobs.  Was that a snub from the Academy?  I suppose Spotlight will win here.

SHOULD WIN:

Alex Garland for “Ex Machina”.  The fact that Ex Machina was an original story blows my mind.  Ex Machina is not being talked about enough at all.  Oscar Isaac deserves a nomination for his role, and I see this film as worthy of being a Best Picture nominee.  I think it’s early 2015 release date hurt those chances.

Best Adapted Sceenplay

  • Charles Randolph and Adam McKay for “The Big Short”
  • Nick Hornby for “Brooklyn”
  • Phyllis Nagy for “Carol”
  • Drew Goddard for “The Martian”
  • Emma Donoghue for “Room”

WILL WIN:

Charles Randolph and Adam McKay for “The Big Short”.  I loved this film and since McKay won the BAFTA for Best Adapted, he’s my pick.  The script did a good job of explaining a complicated problem to normal people.

SHOULD WIN:

Drew Goddard for “The Martian”.  This film was hilarious, dramatic, gripping, and honestly, one of the most entertaining of the year.  Goddard should win for making a story about getting abandoned on Mars actually quite hilarious.

Best Animated Feature Film

  • “Anomalisa”
  • “Boy & the World”
  • “Inside Out”
  • “Shaun the Sheep Movie”
  • “When Marnie Was There”

WILL WIN:

Inside Out

“Inside Out.”  This is the clearly superior film of the year as far as animation.  There was something about Anomalisa that I kind of hated, even though I love Charlie Kaufman and consider him to be a god.

SHOULD WIN:

“Inside Out.”

I’m mostly looking forward to Chris Rock.  Enjoy tonight!

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I LOVE LEONARDO DICAPRIO

10 Jan

LEO AND GAGA #1

UH-HUH.

LEO AND GAGA #2

GAH!!!!

LEO AND GAGA #3

BLURGH!!

Was Leo throwing shade or checking out Gaga?  No matter.  He’s clearly a human!

 

Cash, Hoes, and Coke: Reconciling the Realness of The Wolf of Wall Street

28 Dec

People really hate this movie.  Martin Scorcese’s three-hour opus to money, drugs, and sex is The Wolf of Wall Street, and oh my, how people hate it.  I use the Fandango app to check on movie times at my favorite theaters, and some of the reviews written by moviegoers sum up the main reasons why people hate this movie:

photo 1

photo 2

photo 3

Essentially, people hate this movie because of the sex, drugs, and profanity.  Some of the anti-sex comments in these reviews are ridiculous and point to the highly puritanical views held deep within the American consciousness.  Middle America does not find amusement in the depiction of sex of any kind, even though sex is happening at all times and in all places.  Despite the nudity and depictions of threesomes, homosexual sex, and blow jobs, this movie is not simply about sex.  It’s about drugs, too.  And money.

The film follows the story of the rise and fall of Jordan Belfort, a penny stock trader who recruited a group of buffoons he knew in Queens to push crappy penny stocks on unsuspecting victims, eventually targeting the wealthiest one percent of Americans.  Although Jordan Belfort is far from a notorious financial criminal like Bernie Madoff, he certainly made some enemies at the peak of his trading scam, from the late 1980s to the early aughts, when he eventually went to prison (country club prison, natch) for a total of 22 months and received a sentence to pay $110 million in restitution.  The problem that many have with this film is the establishment of Belfort as the protagonist.  This of course stems from the assumption that the protagonist of a story must always be virtuous, which is simply not the case.  In fact, Jordan is a problematic protagonist, and the audience knows right away that his focus is money, and that he’ll go any length to get it.  We know that he’s an asshole, but guess what? He’s a likable asshole!!! This is the crux of the film, which everyone seems to have overlooked.  Not only is this film satirical, but much of its satire is found in the behaviors of Jordan himself.  This is a man so full of himself that he breaks the fourth wall to tell his own story, and what a gloriously vain story it is.  Jordan Belfort is certainly no Gordon Gekko, but, referencing that famed Clint Eastwood quote, he’s a legend in his own mind.  What Belfort is is just an ambitious blue collar kid from the Bronx, not yet knowing that swindling his clients is the only way to make real, tangible bank on Wall Street.  On his first day on Wall Street, Mark Hanna (Matthew McConaughey) provides Jordan with sleazy advice (accompanied by a Native American war chant that recurs throughout the film) to simply take money from your clients and keep it.  This is the mantra Belfort adopts, and he begins to target people who he deems to be idiots – people dumb enough to dump thousands of dollars into penny stocks that will go nowhere but down.  He is twenty-two, hungry, and willing to stop at nothing.

From Slate.com

DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort.

One of my friends found this film to be a poorly executed attempt at satire.  He found that the “choices” made by Marty and Leo were simply too much, and did not work at all.  He felt that the film glorified debauchery.  That is indeed what this film does, but the satirical aspect of what Scorcese is trying to say is easily overcome by the stunning visualizations of what money can indeed buy.  Money can buy Lamborghinis, cocaine, and hookers, in an infinite amount, and this movie contains all of that and more.

Like my friend, many are saying that Jordan is glorified throughout the film, however, there are many scenes and incidents that show how much of an asshole he really is.  The reason why the audience ends up liking him is the great irony of what society thinks of money: we hate the assholes who have it, but having it is everyone’s ultimate goal.  We all secretly want to be that kind of asshole who can fill a wastebasket with hundred dollar bills.  Jordan is both who we would never want to be and who we really want to be when we daydream of riches.  Jordan thusly represents that great paradox of contemporary society.  Conspicuous consumerism is pushed relentlessly upon Americans, even in the years following a deep recession.  Even though no one seems to have any money, and stories of loss and poverty flood the mainstream media, companies are still pushing their products, rap stars still flaunt ice and cash, and kids carry around iPads instead of books.  Capitalism is still king.

Another argument my friend makes is that none of the female characters have any depth or anything to say.  That is indeed the very point of how the women are meant to function in the film – Jordan’s wife and the other women are little more than trophies with nothing more to say or do than to spend the money their husbands earn from the work of others.  They are not meant to act as great insightful wells of knowledge.  However, Jordan’s second wife, Naomi (Margot Robbie)  appears to completely understand her role as a sexual object in Jordan’s life.  She uses her sexuality as a tool in order to get the things she wants, and she does not carry guilt about this.  Naomi embodies “pussy power” that she holds over her man, and she uses it to get whatever she wants, including those fly Gucci boots she so knowingly unzips.

As far as the drug use depicted in the film, it was hardly shocking.  Drugs are commonplace among those with money, hell, they are commonplace among those without money.  Maybe I know too much about drugs, maybe I understand all too well that women are really nothing more than tits and ass to many men, or maybe I am simply too jaded to find anything to get angry about in regard to this film.  The acting and editing was great, the script was quite good, and the message of the film is there, as long as you take your time to sift through the orgy of cocaine and hundred dollar bills left behind by Marty.  This is a film that blatantly points out the obsessively capitalist things that are morally remiss in our culture; however, in glorifying cash, hoes, and coke, Scorcese and Terrence Winter, who wrote the screenplay, are sending the message that what our culture obsesses over is not necessarily a good thing.

Django Unchained: “I Like the Way You Die, Boy!”

27 Dec
DJANGO UNCHAINED

Leonardo DiCaprio as Calvin Candie

Django Unchained is an exercise in restraint for Quentin Tarantino.  Although some scenes of the film rival the bloodiest that Tarantino captured on film in the past, the fact remains that Django, like many of Tarantino’s films, lacks the high levels of violence typical of your Kill Bill or your Reservoir Dogs.  We meet Django (Jamie Foxx) as he is being transported between plantations.  The entrance of an eccentric alleged dentist, Dr. King Schultz, played by Christoph Waltz, allows Django a chance at tasting freedom and the possibility of being reunited with his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington).  Waltz, channeling his Hans Landa that made Inglourious Basterds a delight, makes a charming bounty hunter seeking three overseers whom he determines Django can identify. Django, tasting the possibility of freedom, throws away the tattered blanket covering him, and a pronounced shot of his back, scarred by a whip, fills the screen.  Schultz trains Django in the art of bounty hunting and gunfighting, realizing that Django, as we will see throughout the entirety of the film, is unlike any slave to be found in the South.

On one of their first bounty hunts together, Schultz offers Django a beer.  Django shows his delight in tasting the beer, clearly symbolic of his “tasting” freedom for the first time. Django then accompanies Dr. Schultz on a series of bounty hunts, collecting one third of the bounties the men make.  Eventually, Dr. Schultz learns that Broomhilda is likely on a plantation referred to as Candie Land, owned by Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), who is a known Francophile but cannot speak a word of French.  Dr. Schultz and Django then pose as slavers seeking to buy a “black Hercules” to use for mandingo fighting, the practice of forcing slaves to fight to the death.  DiCaprio plays Candie, his first villain, with an awareness of just how ridiculous his character is.  Naturally, the film peaks with Django fighting for his beloved Broomhilda, though those details are best left undiscussed.

Django’s discovery of how good he is at killing can be summed up in one line from the film: “Killing white people for money? What’s not to like?” It’s that daring, overtly racist yet unforgiving attitude that places what Django is really about in focus. It’s a film about exploring a legacy that has left the U.S. in an eternally divided state, focused on the power of race.  Race is huge in this country and Tarantino’s daring in exploring this issue is commendable.  The fact that he is a white Italian filmmaker trying to make sense of the white black paradigm is good on him, despite many protesting these efforts (Spike Lee among them).

Overall, Django Unchained is a massive effort by Tarantino to continue to outdo himself in terms of story, scale, and retelling history.  For me, Inglourious Basterds wil remain my Tarantino masterpiece.  It will be interesting to see what he will do next, as it seems that his tendency to make films in homage to other films is becoming rather tired. Django Unchained places Tarantino at an artistic crossroads of sorts, and it will be his choice to break free from the chains of his own art, much like Django succeeded in doing within this film.

Rating: B+, for effort and creativity.

A Trailer That Will Make You Crap Your Pants with Joy

23 May

Baz Luhrmann fans, rejoice! Leonardo DiCaprio is Jay Gatsby and Robert Redford can turn it in now.

And there’s a Kanye West/Jay-Z song!!!

Ryan Reynolds? Really? Okay, People Magazine

17 Nov

The most important announcement of the year came out today – Ryan Reynolds is the Sexiest Man Alive 2010 as chosen by People Magazine.  This decision came as a huge surprise to me – as a connoisseur of People’s annual man-flesh fest, the last person I expected to be on this year’s cover is Reynolds. I don’t think he’s even been in any movies since last year’s The Proposal, which did give us a good view of Mr. Reynolds’s washboard abs. (See exhibit A.)

Exhibit A: Ryan Reynolds's Abs.

The title Sexiest Man Alive carries a lot of heft behind it – many a leading man have had the honor of carrying a title that is somehow both ripe with meaning yet completely arbitrary all at once. Four men have won the title twice – Richard Gere, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, and Johnny Depp. Those are some extremely sexy men, though I hope Brad Pitt will be able to take the title a third time sometime in his fifties. Because, damn. It does not get much better than Brad Fucking Pitt.

What one must also keep in mind when considering People‘s list, is that sexiness is a completely subjective trait. What I may find sexy about one man may be a complete turn-off for another woman. Also, being handsome does not equal being sexy. A man can have a square jaw, ocean-blue eyes, and sandy blonde hair and still be entirely unsexy.  This is because sexy has to do with many other factors, among which I include personality, sense of humor, intelligence, and general swagger.

Let me give you a real-life situation. I have a  lingering interest in two men we shall refer to as Guy A and Guy B. Guy A is handsome by my standards (square jaw, blonde, blue-eyed, and athletic) while Guy B is also handsome by my standards (square jaw, blonde, blue-eyed, and athletic). However, Guy B, though he is very polite, appears to have no visible sense of humor and takes himself super-seriously. Guy A, though he often comes off as an asshole to those who may not know too much about him, makes me laugh constantly and gives me orgasms without us actually having sex. I choose Guy A for obvious reasons – also, I may or not be attracted to him because of the way his skin smells – this reason supports to the theory that we are inherently attracted to those with immune systems very different from our own immune systems, which we discern from the smell of another person’s skin. It’s true. I heard about this in one of my favorite movies, 2 Days in Paris, so it must be true.

Anyway, now that I’ve bored you with that story, I must say that the surprise of Ryan Reynolds being named Sexiest Man Alive does not stem from his not being sexy. The title “Sexiest Man Alive” is often reserved for huge movie stars and the sons of Presidents (JFK Jr. was the only non-actor to win the title in 1988. But he deserved it, because he was really fucking hot.) Reynolds really is sexy, funny, and seemingly fly as hell, but it also seems that there are some sexier men of the moment that were overlooked.

There’s Jon Hamm, for instance, whose real-life personality makes him both a huge nerd and completely endearing because of it.

Exhibit B: Jon Hamm as Don Draper.

What about Alexander Skarsgaard, of True Blood fame?

Exhibit C: Alexander is all man.

Or what of my personal choice, Leonardo DiCaprio? The man just turned 36 – he’s all man, and one day I will make him mine!

Exhibit D: Leo, completely perfect in my wanting eyes.

We shall see who wins next year. In the meantime, enjoy your glory, Mr. Reynolds.

Inception: Bringin’ Sexy Back

17 Jul

Whatta man, whatta man, whatta man...

I looked forward to Inception for a really long time. Was it worth the year countdown I started when I first saw the trailer last July? I’d say so. The movie is practically one big mindfuck, but can I dare to say that I understood the mindfuck completely? The conversation I had with friends following the movie involved a lot of debate over what was going on. And what exactly was going on? In my mind it’s very nearly crystal clear, but I won’t spoil it for you.

Leonardo DiCaprio (looking extremely masculine and sexy as hell) is Cobb, a former architect of dreams who is offered a huge job by Saito (Ken Watanabe) to plant an idea in the mind of a young man, Robert Fischer, Jr. (Cillian Murphy), set to inherit his father’s energy empire. Cobb is struggling with the memories of his wife (Marion Cotillard) and his goal of eventually being able to see his children again, so he takes the job. In order to plant the idea in Fischer’s mind, he needs an architect to construct a dream so layered that Fischer’s subconscious will not be able to penetrate it. He hires Ariadne (Ellen Page, looking like a fetus amongst great men) at the whim of Michael Caine, who taught Cobb what he does (extracts secrets from people’s dreams).

When the team is finally assembled, experiments with sedatives and wild dreamscapes fill the screen. The visuals were near-perfect, and the cinematography magnificent. For me, the only thing lacking was a more deep, emotional story. It could have gone further on that level. And because it’s a Christopher Nolan film, it simply gets more complicated from there. But the ending, oh boy, the ending is where Nolan really fucks your mind.

Please see this movie. It’s a welcome relief from the crap that has been coming out of studios this year. I don’t have much more to say. If I said anything more you’d probably dislike me for ruining something. I will say one more thing. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (playing Arthur, Cobb’s longtime partner in the extraction business) is an extremely lithe man. Good for him.

I’m likely going to see this movie at least one more time, just to get my theory straight. Check out the trailer, just in case you haven’t watched a TV in the last five months:

Grade: A-

Shutter Your Mouth Island

24 Feb

Last weekend, just like $40 million worth of American moviegoers, I wandered into my local theater to see the latest offering from my betrothed, Leonardo DiCaprio, and his betrothed, master filmmaker Martin Scorcese. Despite having ruined the film for myself well over a year ago by clicking on a fateful IMDB thread, Shutter Island was not a disappointment. The acting is solid, the visuals are very 2010, and the story is for a thinking person.

Leo hates it when someone texts in his movies.

However (yes, the dreaded “however”), I could not help but be completely annoyed by the constant talking to my right, which was accompanied by heavy breathing and coughing that came straight out of Napoleon’s typhus-ridden retreat from Russia. Why is it that people do not follow proper etiquette in movie theaters? I could rant about this for days – poor theater etiquette is my biggest pet peeve. I, and I assume most people, do not go to movies to listen to a chorus of “What just happened?”, “What did he say?”, or “Happy Birthday, Jessica!” (Aside: At a late showing of Jennifer’s Body at Village East Cinema*, a group of pubescent Long Island girls screamed “Happy Birthday, Jessica!” at midnight. There were no survivors.) We have become a nation of mouth-breathers, coughers in desperate need of a Halls cough drop, askers of annoying questions, and serial users of cell phones at the most inopportune times.

Cell phones are the biggest problem, and although the heavy breathing from the other day was unrivaled, the glow of tiny screens is visible to EVERYONE in the theater. It only takes one 13-year-old little shit with a Sidekick to ruin the experience of a movie. And who do these 13-year-olds text, anyway? I know that when I was 13 the only person I called on my cell phone was my mother. And mothers generally cannot text unless you spend a painstaking two hours explaining T9. (Which I had to do the other day.)

Enough of my white hot rage, and back to Shutter Island. SPOILER AHEAD!

One scene in particular is still bothering me. In the scene in which Teddy (my main man Leo) is interrogating the older female patient who murdered her husband, the woman asks Chuck (Mark Ruffalo) for a glass of water. Chuck obliges and returns with a full glass. The woman appears to pick up the glass, but a shot of her drinking reveals that her hand is empty and cupped around thin air. When she puts her hand down, an overhead shot of an empty water glass is shown. However, the camera then cuts to a wide shot, in which a full glass of water is seen on the table. I am unsure if any part of this could be a simple continuity error, or if everything was intentional. I spent a long time arguing with someone about the lack of a glass in the actress’ hand. If anyone noticed the anomalies of this scene, please feel free to discuss. Did Martin Scorcese make a mistake? I am likely going to see the movie a second time to decide for myself.

*In one funny distraction that occurred during a viewing of The Soloist, Bobert accidentally almost entered the theater after a bathroom break though the exit door located directly next to the screen. Polite giggles were recorded in the synapses of my mind.