Side Effects (2013)

SideEffects-exclusive-lg

Direction, Cinematography, and Editing by: Steven Soderbergh

Written By: Scott Z. Burns 

Starring: Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Channing Tatum

Side Effects

Deemed as a psychological thriller, Side Effects takes you on more twists and turns than any roller coaster at your local theme park.

soderbergh

Steven Soderbergh

Allow me to start with the bad news, we are going to have to bid farewell to Steven Soderbergh in cinema. He has announced that this will be the last film of his career. I think he’ll be back, but it won’t be anytime soon (give it 8 years). So what’s the good news? He went out with a bang. Side Effects has Soderbergh running through its veins. It has the amazing camera work that I have learned to expect with all of Soderbergh’s movies. The shots that he does never seize to amaze me, and his work behind the camera will always be remembered as one of the best. One thing that is credit to both the directing and the writing is that the film respects the viewers’ intelligence, which is something that is very lacking in modern cinema.

The highlight of this twisty thriller is the writing. Scott Z. Burns takes us on a magnificent ride through the imperfections of humanity. It shows how we, as humans, are subjects to depravity, sex, corruption, and most of all greed. Told from a third person point of view, there is no favorite character. Every character is developed perfectly, which only adds to the viewers’ interest.

Jude Law is playing the same role that he has played in movies such as Sherlock Homes and Contagion. In the past I have criticized him for being the same character in every film, but in Side Effects it works. Channing Tatum continues to surprise me, and now seems like he can do just about anything. Rooney Mara has been good in every movie that she has been in: from her small role in The Social Network, to her leading role in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and now her role in Side Effects. Lastly, Catherine Zeta-Jones shines in her role as Dr. Siebert. She brings an underlying intelligence to the film, that without her performance would have been missing

Viewers are a full two months into the year, and Side Effects is the best picture. It’s a masterfully crafted thriller that takes you through a story full of twists and turns.

IMDb: 7.5/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 84

Metacritic: 75

Best Picture Movie Reviews: 79

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The 85th Academy Awards Analysis

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85th_Academy_Awards_Poster

Another year of Oscars is over, here’s a look at the winners:

  • Life of Pi- 4 Wins (Cinematography, Director, Score, Visual Effects)
  • Argo- 3 Wins (Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Editing)
  • Les Miserables- 3 Wins (Makeup/Hairstyling, Supporting Actress, Sound Mixing)
  • Django Unchained- 2 Wins (Supporting Actor, Original Screenplay)
  • Lincoln- 2 Wins (Actor, Production Design)
  • Skyfall- 2 Wins (Sound Editing, Original Song)
  • Silver Linings Playbook- 1 Win (Actress)
  • Amour- 1 Win (Foreign Language Film)
  • Zero Dark Thirty- 1 Win (Sound Editing)
  • Brave- 1 Win (Animated Feature)
  • Anna Karenina- 1 Win (Costume Design)
  • Searching for Sugarman- 1 Win (Documentary Feature)
  • Inocente- 1 Win (Documentary Short)
  • Paperman- 1 Win (Animated Short)
  • Curfew- 1 Win (Live Action Short)

Just some of me pointing out the obvious: No wins for Best Picture nominee Beasts of the Southern Wild. The Best Picture winner (Argo) did not win the most awards, that honor went to Life of Pi. Despite its 12 nominations, Lincoln only took home 2 awards. Something less obvious was that there was a tie in the Best Sound Editing category between Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty. This was the fifth tie in Academy Awards history (first in its category and first since 1994)

Well, congratulations to Argo! Did it deserve it? In a word, no.

When I watched Argo, I did not get the feeling that I was watching this years’ Best Picture.When I watched Lincoln, I felt the feeling that I was watching a movie worthy of the Best Picture statue. It was the same feeling that I got when watching movies such as The Kings’ Speech, A Beautiful Mind, Titanic, Million Dollar Baby (all past winners). So why did Argo win? Well, the biggest names in Hollywood vote on the Academy Awards, and Argo is a movie that makes Hollywood the hero. This already gave it an advantage, but when Ben Affleck got snubbed for Best Director, everyone felt bad for him, and decided to give him the Best Picture vote out of sympathy. At least this my theory. Argo was one of my favorite movies this year, and maybe the academy truly thought it was the best. So congratulations to Argo!

Best Actress, Actor, and Supporting Actress were all predictable, and I was happy about each winner.

The award that brought me the most joy this year was Best Supporting Actor. Christoph Waltz winning automatically made it a great night for me. I thought Tommy Lee Jones was great, but Christoph Waltz was the beauty behind Django, which is something I can not say about Jones in Lincoln.

Even though my prediction was for Spielberg, I was actually more happy to see Ang Lee win. Good for him. He seems to be a very gracious, humble man, in a business where humbleness is hard to come by.

I was quite successful in my predictions this year, but I did lose in the two biggest categories. With that being said, I was 8/10 in the awards that I care about: (* means that I was incorrect)

*Best Picture*, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, *Best Director*, Best Animated Feature Film, Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, Best Original Song

Next year I vow to be correct in every category ;).

2012 was a fantastic year that had just about everything. All we can hope is that 2010 and 2012 were not flukes (2011 was weak), and that there is a new sense of quality in films. Let’s hope for an equally as amazing 2013, and anything extra will be considered a bonus.

Oh, and who’s up for another year of Seth MacFarlane? He did a great job!

Crash (2005)

Crash poster courtesy of signis.net

Crash poster courtesy of signis.net

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Ludacris, Matt Dillon, Brendan Fraser, Thandie Newton, Ryan Phillippe, Terrence Howard, Michael Pena, Larenz Tate, Shaun Toub

Directed By: Paul Haggis

Written By: Robert (Bobby) Moresco and Paul Haggis

Winner of 3 Academy Awards (Best Picture, Original Screenplay, Editing)

I decided that seeming I have predicted an upset at this years Oscars (yes, Lincoln would be an upset over Argo), I should go back and review one movie that was the cause of a huge upset. When Crash beat Brokeback Mountain at the 78th Academy Awards it sparked huge controversy. People said that the only reason it won was because the academy is anti-gay (Brokeback Mountain is the story of homosexual cowboys), and that Crash was in no way deserving of winning Best Picture. This is a different argument for a different time, but I figured that readers should at least know my reasoning behind reviewing the Best Picture winner from 2006.

Crash

Well my first review, and I get the idea that I might be pissing a few people off right from the start, but I guess I’d be doing that whether I liked or disliked Crash. I loved Crash, and do not think that it is, “overrated” or, “messy” or any of the other negative adjectives that I have seen people use to describe it. Being a Los Angeles local it was beautiful to see a movie that is about all of the social classes and races that this diverse city contains. Crash was fantastically written, and was very deserving of its Best Screenplay award.

The acting in Crash is what drives the film, and ultimately is what I believe made it win its’ Best Picture (after all actors are the academy’s largest branch). Seeming there is no “lead” actor in Crash, and everyone receives roughly the same amount of screen time, it was required that every actor puts forth a strong performance. If every actor was not at the top of their game, viewers would have not felt the same level of depth that you do when watching Crash.

The direction was not done in a typical style. It has a very shaky camera at times, and you got a much more artsy feel with this movie compared to most of the nominated movies from that year. Some scenes where done with pure beauty (Westwood robbery scene) and others were brutally real (car crash scene), this created a mixture that displayed the beauty of Paul Haggis’ directing. Also, the character development in Crash was very well done. If the development was not done properly, the viewer could have been very confused by the overwhelming amount of characters in the film; however, the director gave each character a very distinct personality and it made each character memorable.

Overall, Crash is a film that will make you put yourself in the shoes of other people, and teach you the importance of appreciating the situation that you are in. It taught me that no one is immune to tragedy.

  • IMDb: 7.9/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 75%
  • Metacritic: 69
  • Best Picture Movie Reviews: 87

The 85th Academy Awards Predictions

image courtesy of wikimedia.org

image courtesy of wikimedia.org

It is fair to say that 2011 was a great disappointment for cinema, and I was beginning to wonder if Hollywood still had the flare that we had all grown to love. I was very optimistic going into 2012. Fortunately my worries were futile.

I believe that 2012 has been the best Oscar Class in recent memory. In the class of 2012 got such a beautiful mixture of everything. From a surprisingly fantastic Drama that premiered at Sundance (Beasts of the Southern Wild) to a movie about the heroism of two great nations coming together to save lives (Argo). These two mixed with a musical classic (Les Miserables), a visually stunning book adaptation (Life of Pi), a historical account of the killing of a terrorist (Zero Dark Thirty), and a French Drama about aging love (Amour). Top it off with a masterfully crafted spaghetti western (Django Unchained), a story of one of the greatest leaders of all time (Lincoln), and a well acted dram-com about two people both suffering from mental illness (Silver Linings Playbook), and you get what was most definitely the best year there has been in years. Here are my predictions for this great year… (I ordered each nominee in order of the likely hood of them receiving the award; therefore, #1 is obviously the movie that I think will win)

* indicates that the race is close between the * nominees

Best Picture

  1. Lincoln*
  2. Argo*
  3. Silver Linings Playbook
  4. Les Miserables
  5. Life of Pi
  6. Amour
  7. Zero Dark Thirty
  8. Django Unchained
  9. Beasts of the Southern Wild

Best Actor 

  1. Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)*
  2. Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables)
  3. Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook)
  4. Denzel Washington (Flight)
  5. Joaquin Phoenix (The Master)

Best Actress

  1. Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)*
  2. Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)
  3. Emmanuelle Riva (Amour)
  4. Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
  5. Naomi Watts (The Impossible)

Best Supporting Actor

  1. Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)*
  2. Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln)*
  3. Robert de Niro (Silver Linings Playbook)*
  4. Phillip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)
  5. Alan Arkin (Argo)

Best Supporting Actress

  1. Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables)*
  2. Sally Field (Lincoln)
  3. Helen Hunt (The Sessions)
  4. Amy Adams (The Master)
  5. Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook)

Best Director

  1. Stephen Spielberg (Lincoln)*
  2. Ang Lee (Life of Pi)*
  3. David O. Russel (Silver Linings Playbook)
  4. Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
  5. Micheal Haneke (Amour)

Best Original Screenplay

  1. Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino)*
  2. Zero Dark Thirty (Mark Boal)*
  3. Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola)
  4. Amour (Micheal Haneke)
  5. Flight (John Gatins)

Best Adapted Screenplay

  1. Lincoln (Tony Kushner)*
  2. Argo (Chris Terrio)*
  3. Silver Linings Playbook (David O. Russel)
  4. Life of Pi (David Magee)
  5. Beasts of the Southern Wild (Lucy Alibar, Benh Zeitlin)