Eh.

I’ve refrained from writing this post for months, unsure of what exactly to say and afraid of the backlash. However, with the release of its Blu Ray and DVD, I finally want to publicly say, completely forward and without nuance…

I did not like Star Wars: The Force Awakens

george bush shoe

Now, I didn’t hate Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I will gladly admit that I was brought to tears of utter joy by its initial trailers (that music!) and was fairly entertained by many parts of the movie, especially the scenes involving Han Solo. However, I wasn’t swayed emotionally one way or another by the movie as a whole. My one word response to the film as that final compressed, spinning aerial shot of Rey meeting Old Luke in Ireland circle-wiped to “Directed by J.J. Abrams” was…

“Eh.”

But then I let the dust settle. I watched the film again, a few days later, and while I enjoyed myself slightly more, I also hated the parts I disliked the first time upon seeing them again. If anything, my opinion got a little worse. This, combined with the outrageous level of hype and love shown for the movie by practically everyone has made me want to go all Kylo Ren on my computer. I’m all for being excited by a new movie, especially a new Star Wars movie. But once that movie is viewed by millions of people, I would hope and expect legitimate criticism, not blind loyalty and exclamations that because it is Star Wars and  because it wasn’t made by George Lucas, therefore it has to be the GREATEST  STAR WARS MOVIE SINCE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. (The same crazed, irrational fervor surrounded the most recent Jurassic Park film, which was awful.)

I find that statement (about Force Awakens being the best since Empire) extremely wrong because it begs the question that Return of the Jedi isn’t good. I have also come to like Episodes II and III, and to me, both of these prequel films are worth more than The Force Awakens ever could be. Oops. Did I say that out loud?

george bush shoe

The Good.

  • Han Solo. Harrison Ford was great. His old Han was so much better than his old Indy. This was incredibly surprising because it’s basically a fact that he likes Indiana Jones so much more than Star Wars (hello, Indy 5!!) His interactions with Chewie and Rey were hilarious and sweet, and he got his wish that Han would be killed off, albeit 32 years later…
  • BB-8 because he was cute and reminded me of my cat.
  • Finn’s fight with that Stormtrooper (named by the Internet TR-8R), and the Resistance’s surprise attack on the First Order. That was an exhilarating scene, and that is probably the highest praise I have for anything involving the production of the movie.
  • Rey’s vision when she picks up Luke’s lightsaber because it reminded me of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
  • …and when she uses the Force to get his lightsaber in her fight with Kylo Ren. (Again, just like in the trailers, it’s John Williams’ use of an OLDER theme that sells it for me.)
  • That final compressed, spinning aerial shot of Rey meeting Old Luke in Ireland that circle-wiped to “Directed by J.J. Abrams.” And I actually liked that Luke was in it for less than 30 seconds and remained speechless. It (and this is the only thing, really) made me want to see Episode VIII.

The Bad.

First and foremost, The Force Awakens was not written well. In fact, I’d say it was written fairly poorly. For all the hype surrounding the knowledge that the writer of Empire and Jedi (and Raiders of the Lost Ark) was returning after three straight George Lucas-penned screenplays, Lawrence Kasden failed to impress me. In fact, some of the dialogue was so wooden and flat at times that I actually missed the nostalgia of the Prequels and their clunkers. The plot of Force Awakens was a reboot/remake of A New Hope with some Empire beats thrown in for good measure. The Snoke scenes should have been mysterious and engrossing but instead seemed like transplanted Thanos scenes from the various Marvel movies; they just didn’t feel like Star Wars to me. And the rules of Star Wars were seemingly thrown out the window… How did Rey manage to use a Jedi mind trick if no one ever taught her what it was, and after the film made it clear that she didn’t even know Jedi were real? Usually, McGuffins are simple and subtle enough where their existence in the story isn’t brought into question… Except the plot device that drives The Force Awakens made no sense. Why was there a map to find Luke? He’s not an object. He’s a person. Who leaves a map when they don’t want to be found? And how could no one figure out from either piece of the map (in BB-8 and in R2-D2) where it led? Most the the plot points in this movie just seemed like sloppy, lazy writing.

The movie itself started out on a terrible footing. The opening scene was filled with as much exposition-heavy dialogue as anything in Phantom Menace, and was awkwardly staged and awkwardly filmed. The dialogue never got better after that, with constant references to the Resistance and First Order throughout, but without any clarification or history to give the audience a clue as to what was going on. Expositionary dialogue is a necessary evil, especially in a sci-fi world, but it is at its best in small doses. When it consumes a film and also confuses more than it than explains, the movie suffers greatly. I still have no idea what was going on; the only clarity in the film was that we’d all seen the plot and characters and beats before… in the Original Trilogy. Disney played it safe (you could argue killing Han wasn’t safe, but as it was long overdue and foreshadowed heavily, it was also the easiest shock they could go for while not doing anything too controversial), and as they pleased the most Star Wars fans because they went in the opposite direction of the Prequels, they largely succeeded. Two billion dollars is worth a lot more than my petty criticism.

The Ugly.

But the worst two aspects of The Force Awakens weren’t deus ex machina Force tricks or the random CGI bartender who could have easily been a person in a mask or the lack of a noticable original score… it was the characters of General Hux and Kylo Ren. Both villains were clearly based on Grand Moff Tarkin and Darth Vader, but lacking their gravitas or imperious nature, they were laughably bad. It was as if J. J. Abrams REALLY wanted to impress Star Wars fans so he cast the two nerdiest, unassuming fans who came up to him at whatever convention he was attending to play the two villain roles, and then felt bad about his choice after seeing their acting but convinced himself that no one would ever notice because STAR WARS IS SO COOL.

Anyway, Hayden Christensen has been called wooden…out of his league… a terrible actor (among many, many worse things), but Kylo’s temper tantrums and moody attitude made Christensen look like Laurence Olivier. I know for a fact that statement will anger some people, but not once during Awakens did Kylo Ren make me feel anything at all other than annoyance. Even when he killed Han, it was broadcast a mile away because no one in Hollywood knows anything about subtlety, and I was more peeved at the story-telling than at the death of my favorite Original Trilogy character. And then he lost in a fight to a Stormtrooper-dropout who spent the entire movie getting beat up and a girl with no Force training (who obviously has a major connection to the Force, duh, I know!!! but still. Sloppy writing: it happened because the plot needed it to happen). Like I said, laughable.

And then there’s Hux. I don’t know who gave the okay to have the main military leader SCREAM to his troops with the most cliched, unoriginal dialogue imaginable, but I bet they  thought they were doing something really friggin’ clever. I hate comparing things to Hitler, but I bet they figured their military general would give off a Hitler vibe if he yelled with the burning hatred of a thousand suns at his troops.

Except they cast a Weasley, so he gave off a Weasley-trying-to-be-Hitler vibe, and it was one of the worst acting performances I’ve seen in a mainstream movie in ages. (To get political for a moment, Hux is the Hitler that everyone thinks Trump is/will be.) Give me Hayden yelling about slaughtering Sand People like animals any day. Where is Dexter Jettster’s buttcrack when you need childish, idiotic filmmaking? Oh, right… It was in a better movie.

george bush shoe

I am excited for Episode VIII. I want to know what happens next in the Star Wars universe. I want to see Rey’s journey. I want to see more of BB-8. I want to see Luke speak and be an Obi-Wan Kenobi to our new Jedi hero.

And I want to see LANDO. Please, Disney. At least bring him back in the next go round. He can even drink some Colt 45 on set. It’s gonna be great!

For everyone who loved The Force Awakens, I seriously am happy for you. And slightly envious that I can’t, so enjoy your Blu Ray and deleted scenes for me.

-FLIPP

 

Video

Christie’s Soliloquy

I had some fun with Chris Christie’s facial expressions during Trump’s Super Tuesday speech last week… The editing’s not perfect, but I think the lyrics and tone fit almost perfectly with nuances (or lack there of) in the New Jersey governor’s face.

2016 Oscar Predictions

For the first time in 3 years, I’m heading into the Academy Awards without having seen all of the Best Picture nominees. Luckily, I’ve seen all but one of them (Spotlight), which means I’m not going in totally blind.

Before my predictions, I just want to say that in addition to the 7 Best Picture nominees that I saw, I also watched Spectre, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Inside Out, and Creed, all up for at least one Oscar outside of the Best Picture race. I would rank these 11 films as such:

  1. Creed
  2. The Martian
  3. Mad Max:Fury Road
  4. Brooklyn
  5. Room
  6. Spectre
  7. Inside Out
  8. Bridge of Spies
  9. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  10. The Revenant
  11. The Big Short

In a perfect world, Mad Max will win all of the undercard awards as well as Best Director and Picture, but we do not live in a perfect world. Instead, these awards will mostly belong to The Revenant, though if there is to be an upset, The Big Short will be walking away with these awards. To both: yuck. The night will be an overall win, however, if Sly Stallone walks away with that Best Supporting Actor Oscar. (Yes, this is more important than Leonardo DiCaprio getting his…)

Anyway, here are my predictions for the 88th Academy Awards:

Best Picture
Spotlight

The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Brooklyn
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Room

Best Actor
Bryan Cranston, Trumbo

Matt Damon, The Martian
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

Best Actress
Cate Blanchett, Carol

Brie Larson, Room
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Best Director
Lenny Abrahamson, Room
Alejandro Iñárritu, The Revenant

George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
Adam McKay, The Big Short

Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale, The Big Short
Tom Hardy, The Revenant

Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Best Supporting Actress
Rooney Mara, Carol
Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs
Rachel McAdams, Spotlight

Best Animated Film
Anomalisa
Boy and the World

Inside Out
Shaun the Sheep Movie
When Marnie Was There

Best Foreign Language Film
Embrace of the Serpent
Mustang

Son of Saul
Theeb
A War

Best Adapted Screenplay
The Big Short, Charles Randolph and Adam McKay
Brooklyn, Nick Hornby

Carol, Phyllis Nagy
The Martian, Drew Goddard
Room, Emma Donoghue

Best Original Screenplay
Spotlight, written by Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy

Bridge of Spies, written by Matt Charman and Ethan Coen and Joel Coen
Ex Machina, written by Alex Garland
Inside Out, screenplay by Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley; original story by Pete Docter, Ronnie del Carmen
Straight Outta Compton, screenplay by Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff; story by S. Leigh Savidge and Alan Wenkus and Andrea Berloff

Best Original Score
Bridge of Spies, Thomas Newman

Carol, Carter Burwell
The Hateful Eight, Ennio Morricone
Sicario, Jóhann Jóhannsson
Star Wars: The Force Awakens, John Williams

Best Cinematography
Carol, Ed Lachman

The Hateful Eight, Robert Richardson
Mad Max: Fury Road, John Seale
The Revenant, Emmanuel Lubezki
Sicario, Roger Deakins

Best Production Design
Bridge of Spies

The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant

Best Visual Effects
Ex Machina
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Original Song
“Earned It,” Fifty Shades of Grey, Music and Lyric by Abel Tesfaye, Ahmad Balshe, Jason Daheala Quenneville and Stephan Moccio

“Manta Ray,” Racing Extinction, Music by J. Ralph; Lyric by Antony Hegarty
“Simple Song 3,” Youth, Music and Lyric by David Lang
“Til it Happens to You,” The Hunting Ground, Music and Lyric by Diane Warren and Lady Gaga
“Writing’s on the Wall,” Spectre, Music and Lyric by Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith

Best Documentary (Feature)
Amy

Cartel Land
The Look of Silence
What Happened, Miss Simone?
Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom

Best Costume Design
Carol

Cinderella
The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Mad Max: Fury Road

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out a Window and Disappeared
The Revenant

Best Short Film (Live Action)
Ave Maria

Day One
Everything Will Be Okay
Shok
Stutterer

Best Short Film (Animated)
Bear Story

Prologue
Sanjay’s Super Team
We Can’t Live Without Cosmos
World of Tomorrow 

Best Documentary (Short Subject)
Body Team 12

Chau, beyond the Lines
Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah
A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness
Lasy Day of Freedom

Best Film Editing
The Big Short

Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Spotlight
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Sound Mixing
Bridge of Spies

Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Sound Editing
Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian
The Revenant
Sicario
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

-FLIPP

Cheat and Scoff

*To the melody of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off”*

I do what I want
Secretive and corrupt
That’s what Republicans say
That’s what Republicans say
I’m attacked, no matter what I do
By a vast right wing conspiracy
At least that’s what Democrats say
That’s what Democrats say
But I keep cheating
Can’t stop, won’t stop cheating
It’s like I got this mantra
In my mind, saying “2016’s gonna be mine!”

Cause the GOP’s gonna hate, hate, hate
And Liz Warren’s gonna whine, whine, whine
I’m just gonna cheat, cheat, cheat
Cheat and scoff
Joe Biden’s gonna gaffe, gaffe, gaffe
And John Kerry’s gonna choke, choke, choke
I’m just gonna cheat, cheat, cheat
Cheat and scoff, cheat and scoff

I never miss a chance
To cheat and get ahead
And that’s what the media doesn’t see
That’s what voters don’t see
I’m laughing to myself
I planned it all from the start
And that’s what Americans don’t know
That’s what Americans don’t know
But I keep cheating
Can’t stop, won’t stop cheating
It’s like I got this mantra
In my mind, saying “2016’s gonna be mine”!

Cause the GOP’s gonna hate, hate, hate
And Liz Warren’s gonna whine, whine, whine
I’m just gonna cheat, cheat, cheat
Cheat and scoff
Joe Biden’s gonna gaffe, gaffe, gaffe
And John Kerry’s gonna choke, choke, choke
I’m just gonna cheat, cheat, cheat
Cheat and scoff, cheat and scoff

Hey, Barack Obama
Just think while you’ve been inept, dumb, and wrong about many
Of the difficult problems in the world
You could have been cheating to get ahead, like me!

9/11/12, Benghazi was attacked
GOP’s like, “oh my God!”
But I’m just gonna cheat
And to Trey Gowdy over there with his email-finding snare,
“Terrorism? Emails? What difference does it make, make?”

Cause the GOP’s gonna hate, hate, hate
And Liz Warren’s gonna whine, whine, whine
I’m just gonna cheat, cheat, cheat
Cheat and scoff
Joe Biden’s gonna gaffe, gaffe, gaffe
And John Kerry’s gonna choke, choke, choke
I’m just gonna cheat, cheat, cheat
Cheat and scoff
Cheat and scoff
Cheat and scoff
Cheat and scoff
Cheat and scoff

-Flipp

2015 Oscars: PREDICTIONS!!

Update: After tallying up everything, I was 17 for 24. In the end, the Academy really didn’t like Boyhood. Thank God.

Here are my predictions for tonight’s 87th Academy Awards:

Documentary Short Subject
Perry Films, Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1
Wajda Studio, Joanna
Warsaw Film School, Our Curse
Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica, The Reaper (La Parka)
Weary Traveler, White Earth

Short Film, Live Action
Oded Binnun and Mihal Brezis, Aya

Michael Lennox, director, and Ronan Blaney, Boogaloo and Graham
Hu Wei and Julien Féret, Butter Lamp (La Lampe au Beurre de Yak)
Talkhon Hamzavi and Stefan EichenbergerParvaneh
Mat Kirkby, director and James Lucas, The Phone Call 

Short Film, Animated
Daisy Jacobs and Christopher Hees, The Bigger Picture
Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi, The Dam Keeper
Patrick Osborne and Kristina Reed, Feast 
Torill Kove, Me and My Moulton
Joris Oprins, A Single Life

Best Documentary Feature
Citizenfour 
Last Days in Vietnam
Virunga
Finding Vivian Maier
The Salt of the Earth

Best Foreign Film
Ida 
(Poland) 
Leviathan 
(Russia)
Tangerines
 (Estonia)
Timbuktu 
(Mauritania)
Wild Tales 
(Argentina)

Best Animated Feature
Big Hero 6 
How to Train Your Dragon 2
The Boxtrolls
Song of the Sea
The Tale of Princess Kaguya

Best Song
Gregg Alexander, Danielle Brisebois, Nick Lashley, and Nick Southwood, “Lost Stars” (Begin Again)
John Legend and Common, “Glory” (Selma
Shawn Patterson, Joshua Bartholomew, Lisa Harriton, and The Lonely Island, “Everything Is Awesome” (The Lego Movie)
Diane Warren, “Grateful” (Beyond the Lights)
Glen Campbell, “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” (Glen Campbell … I’ll Be Me)

Best Original Score
Johann Johannsson, The Theory of Everything
Alexandre Desplat, The Imitation Game
Alexandre Desplat, The Grand Budapest Hotel 
Hans Zimmer, Interstellar
Gary Yershon, Mr. Turner

Costume Design
Colleen Atwood, Into the Woods

Anna B. Sheppard and Jane Clive, Maleficent
Milena Canonero, The Grand Budapest Hotel 
Jacqueline Durran, Mr. Turner
Mark Bridges, Inherent Vice

Makeup and Hairstyling
Bill Corso and Dennis Liddiard, Foxcatcher
Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier, The Grand Budapest Hotel 
Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou and David White, Guardians of the Galaxy

Production Design
Adam Stockhausen and Anna Pinnock, The Grand Budapest Hotel 
Suzie Davies and Charlotte Watts, Mr. Turner
Dennis Gassner and Anna Pinnock, Into the Woods
Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis, and Paul Healy, Interstellar
Maria Djurkovic and Tatiana Macdonald, The Imitation Game

Sound Editing
Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman, American Sniper 
Martín Hernández and Aaron Glascock, Birdman
Brent Burge and Jason Canovas, The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
Richard King, Interstellar
Becky Sullivan and Andrew DeCristofaro, Unbroken

Sound Mixing
American Sniper
Birdman
Unbroken
Interstellar
Whiplash 

Visual Effects
Interstellar 
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Guardians of the Galaxy
X Men: Days of Future Past
Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Film Editing
American Sniper
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Whiplash 

Best Cinematography
Emmanuel Lubezki, Birdman 
Dick Pope, Mr. Turner
Robert D. Yeoman, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Ryszard Lenczewski and Łukasz Żal, Ida
Roger Deakins, Unbroken

Best Adapted Screenplay
Graham Moore, The Imitation Game 

Anthony McCarten, The Theory of Everything
Damien Chazelle, Whiplash
Jason Hall, American Sniper
Paul Thomas Anderson, Inherent Vice

Best Original Screenplay
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo, Birdman 
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler
Dan Futterman and E. Max Frye, Foxcatcher

Best Supporting Actor
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash 
Edward Norton, Birdman
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
Robert Duvall, The Judge

Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood 
Emma Stone, Birdman
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods
Laura Dern, Wild

Best Actress
Julianne Moore, Still Alice 
Reese Witherspoon, Wild
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night

Best Actor
Michael Keaton, Birdman
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything 
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper, American Sniper

Best Director
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman 
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game
Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher

Best Picture
Boyhood
The Imitation Game
Birdman 
The Theory of Everything
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Whiplash
Selma
American Sniper

-Flipp

2015 Oscars: Best Picture Nominees!

The 8 movies nominated for this year’s Best Picture Oscar make up a curious group of films. They’ve showcased extraordinary feats of cinematography, editing, acting, and perseverance. A few character actors finally got their time to shine, and a few historical figures in science, war, and civil rights were finally given proper representation on the big screen. Some of the films have elicited absurd amounts of controversy, whereas others have received absurd amounts of praise. My opinion on a few of these films is quite high. On others, I am mostly indifferent. One, I outright dislike, and it is certainly NOT one of the best films this century, Mr. A.O. Scott, thank you very much!

Without further adieu, my take on this year’s Best Picture nominees:

81. Boyhood

Boyhood
Okay. I respect the dedication put into this movie. I happen to really like all but one of the other Richard Linlater movies that I’ve seen (that is, the 3 Before movies, School of Rock, and Bernie; I hated A Scanner Darkly), and I went into Boyhood with extremely high expectations. But 2 hours and 45 minues of nothing was NOT worth my full price ticket at a New York City theater, and watching it a second time completely killed any positive inklings I may have had toward the movie from that first viewing. By the end of the film, I absolutely HATE the brooding, moody, confused hipster that main character Mason has become. And since his poor childhood is the product of all the people around him, I hate them all, too. When you look past the gimmick that was shooting the same movie over a 12 year span, you realize that the film’s writing is not too great, and the acting is actually kind of dull; Patricia Arquette will win Best Supporting Actress for her role as Mason’s mother, but it is more of a consolation prize in my opinion for showing up for the same gig for 12 years in a row than for any sort of profound acting chops on her part. As someone has said, if Boyhood had been shot in one year instead of 12, no one would give a flying bleep about the film, especially due to its lack of story and its crappy, unlikeable characters. And yet it’ll probably win Best Picture. This coming after the fact that Linklater’s immensely-better Before Midnight wasnt even nominated for Best Picture last year just proves that there is no justice in the world for a film curmudgeon like me.

12. American Sniper

American Sniper
I already wrote plenty on Sniper (see previous post), but I still don’t see a reason for all of the controversy, let alone all the hype. While the movie was definitely emotional and worth seeing once, Bradley Cooper’s bulked-up physique was honestly the most impressive part of the film. I guess one positive about the movie was that the entire time, I kept thinking, “How the hell did 84-year-old, senile, grumpy Clint Eastwood direct something so intense and big?” The fact that the finished product hit all the right emotional chords can be attributed to the skills of Eastwood as a director.

133. The Theory of Everything

The Theory of Everything
Eddie Redmayne was Oscar-worthy as British ASL-stricken scientist Stephen Hawking, though the movie itself wasn’t anything that special. It told a decent, if certainly unconventional love story, and featured some beautiful music, but it still didn’t do that much for me. It was worth seeing once, but Best Picture worthy? Not having it.

6. The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game:
I really enjoyed The Imitation Game the first time I saw it. I loved the British World War II setting, the Desplat score, and the way the story was edited together, with its three timelines and its use of WWII-era newsreels and stock footage. However, the second time I watched it, I wanted to go to sleep. While still in no way a bad movie, it just didn’t seem like anything special upon a second viewing. I love Cumberbatch in almost everything he’s done, but I wasn’t THAT impressed by him as Turing, and Charles Dance literally walked off the set of Game of Thrones, took off his armor and removed the crossbow bolts from his chest, and put on a British Naval uniform. How can that be a bad thing, you ask? It shouldn’t have been, but Lord Tywin popping up in the middle of a World War II biopic just seemed out of place to me. Also, upon second viewing, the ending, while sad and emotional, seemed like it was a little too on the nost in its political messaging. The on-screen text that makes up the film’s epilogue focused more on Turing’s sexuality than his impact on WWII, codebreaking, and computers. While not wrong in any way, this text attempted to make a film that tackled so many broad historical and social topics to be a lot more streamlined and political than it actually was.

127. Birdman

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
I very much enjoyed Birdman the first time I saw it, though, like with Boyhood and The Imitation Game, my enthusiasm for it lessened quite a bit after seeing it again. The amazing feat of Emmanuel Lubezki to make the film appear to be one long take wore a bit thin the second time through. The use of long takes of course made the superb acting stand out even more, as Keaton and Norton and Stone had to memorize large amounts of lines and blocking at a time, though, again, if the movie were filmed conventionally, would its dialogue and plot hold up? Probably not. Michael Keaton deserves the Oscar for his performance, but the rest of the film is a bit too eclectic and schizofrenic for me to outright love it. The drum score drove me a bit insane (as was the point, I think), and the ending really didn’t make any sense at all, no matter how you looked at it. Unquestionably, my favorite part of such a stylized and wonky film was the fleeting moment (probably a mistake that couldn’t be covered up due to the use of long takes) when Zack Galifianakis forgot what movie he was a part of for a split second and reverted into his Hangover schtick by calling Martin Scorsese “Martin Scorseez.” Simply amazing.

8. Selma

Selma
I didn’t expect to like Selma and I wound up loving it. Again, I probably wouldn’t watch it again, but it was worth seeing once and actually left an emotional impact on me, unlike a few of the movies I’ve already mentioned. David Oyelowo was fantastic as Dr. King, and his speech at the end was one of the more inspirational scenes in a movie this past year. I’m extremely happy that the movie remained apolitical for almost the entire time, though the reference of Ferguson in the John Legend/Common song at the end pulled me right out of the historical period of the Civil Rights movement and brought today’s divisive, nasty political maelstrom into a film that, for almost its entire running time, had been above such pettiness. Plus, since the events in Ferguson couldn’t have happened before filming started, it made its inclusion in the film seem even more shoehorned in. Why must everything make a statement, no matter how unnecessary? Why can’t we ever appreciate something in its original context, and not in comparing it to today?

53. Grand Budapest Hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel
With a film that takes Lord Voldemort himself and makes him into a heroic, comic lead character, uses miniature scale models of majestic hotels and icy mountainsides, features an eclectic group of the quirkiest actors around, such as Jeff Goldblum, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Jason Schwartzman, Adrian Brody, Tilda Swinton, Willem Dafoe, Owen Wilson, etc., and switches between 3 times periods, each represented by a different aspect ration, all while accompanied by a whimsical Alexandre Desplat score, Wes Anderson has finally become mainstream. The Grand Budapest Hotel was by far one of the best films to come out last year and the first of these eight Best Picture winners that I could easily see myself watching again.

WHIPLASH_2.indd

Whiplash
As I said in my last post, a movie that can make me angry enough to feel it in my stomach, that can shock me to the point where I’m yelling “Oh my God” out loud, and that can make me jump out of my seat in triumphant joy is really something special. Whiplash is that type of movie. J.K. Simmons, the Yellow M & M and the Farmers Insurance guy, J. Jonah Jameson and Juno’s father, is the band instructor from hell (not to mention an extremely relatable character to terrible people I’ve experienced in real life), and will deservedly walk away with the Best Supporting Actor Oscar. Miles Teller is awesome as a drum student worked to the point of exhaustion, with sweat, blood, and tears literally staining his drumsticks and the heads of his drums, and he reportedly did a lot of his own drumming on the film. The climax, a whirlwind of sound and close ups, is one of the best-edited sequences in a movie in a long time. Whiplash is definitely a painful and exhausting movie to get through, but, oh, is it worth it! And it is my favorite Best Picture nominee by a substantial margin from 2014.

May the best film win (though it probably won’t).

-Flipp