Tag Archive: amy adams


‘Arrival’

 

arrival

Put another notch in the ‘A list’ belt for Amy Adams.

Hard to underestimate Lois Lane at this point, but she anchors this science fiction film for the grownups, playing a linguistics professor who gets called into duty when several spaceships arrive from outer space and position themselves strategically around the planet.  Forrest Whitaker and Jeremy Renner round out the main cast for the best intellectual sci fi film in recent memory (yeah I said it).

I don’t consider sci fi my number one genre, but one of the things I’ve always admired about it is the way the best of its stories are so well suited to serve as parables for current events.  In this story, the inciting action is aliens make their presence known to us.  But they don’t attack.  So the human race has their defenses up.  Some want to strike first since they obviously have superior technology.  Most aren’t sure how to react initially but the fear is palpable.  The American team tries to communicate and establish a common ground and some type of rapport first (stop laughing).

To go much deeper into the plot is to give away the experience of the movie.  I’ll tell you it benefits from a second viewing but I don’t think it’s a movie you ‘have to’ watch twice.  The way it all comes together feels earned.  Definitely a throwback feeling watching this when you could enjoy a ‘big’ movie completely on its own and not worry one way or another about a potential sequel.

This one deserves a Best Picture nomination. We’ll see if it gets one soon enough.

Advertisements

‘Still Alice’

 

stillalice

Not so fast Amy Adams and Jessica Chastain…

Like most of you, I’ve been a fan of Julianne Moore since Boogie Nights (at least).  If ‘Still Alice’ gets her the Lifetime Achievement Oscar, I won’t be mad.  The film is about a brilliant professor who is diagnosed with early on set Alzheimer’s.  Off of the top of my head, I’m pretty sure that’s the best depiction of that specific disease and how it angers and frustrates both the person with it and the people who care about them.

The supporting cast is filled out nicely with some familiar faces. Kate Bosworth as the cold, eldest daughter.  Alec Baldwin as the supportive husband. Kirsten Stewart as the daughter who’s struggling to be taken seriously as a dramatic actress (not touching that joke with a ten foot pole).  But the film belongs to Julianne Moore and of course she’s talented enough to carry it.

Smaller, character piece, you know I dug it.

 

12-years-a-slave

Here are the nominees for Lead Actress:
Amy Adams
Cate Blanchett
Sandra Bullock
Judi Dench
Meryl Streep
Who Should Win
MALIK: It’s the freshest performance in my mind, but I think the most filled out performance was Judi Dench in Philomena.  Don’t think she’ll win though.
ART: I agree. Judi Dench is pretty great. But, Cate Blacnhett is fierce. Been a fan for years. Just one of those actresses where anything she does, you gotta take notice.
Who Will Win
MALIK: Probably Cate Blanchett, though I will always argue it’s way too much Blanche Dubois for my personal taste.
ART: You may be right, but she does a great Blanche. Sandra Bullock did an underrated turn in Gravity and I wish she received more recognition, but Cate will take this category.
Who We Want to Win
MALIK:  I’d like to see Dame Judi honestly.  Not saying I hope she retires, but it would be a nice capper to an impressive career.
ART: Whoever Malik wants to win, who is… kidding. I’m a fan of each actress in this category. But, Cate had the showiest role, with the least controversy. Certainly, Amy Adams is on the fast track to being a frontrunner, but the film, Blue Jasmine completely lives or dies based on Cate’s performances and it would not have the attention it has without her effort. She should take this.
And here are the nominees for Lead Actor:
Christian Bale
Bruce Dern
Leonardo DiCaprio
Chiwetel Ejiofor
Matthew McConaughey
Who Should Win
MALIK: McConaughey is on an absolute tear right now, but he’s earned it.
ART: I agree. He may pull a Bo Jackson in acting and win in an Oscar for his movie work and an Emmy for his TV work, because his acting in Showtime’s True Detective has been just as stellar. I’m not sure what happened, but it’s like somebody sat him down and was like, “Yo, people mostly know you for the mellow California accent and taking your shirt off, what you gonna do about that?” He’s on a roll.
Who Will Win
MALIK: Alright alright alright…
ART: Christian Bale already has an Oscar and Leo is Leo. Bruce Dern may be the sentimental favorite and dark horse and Chiwetel will be lauded for simply getting a nomination. Matthew McConaughey, the guy wasn’t taken seriously even three years ago, will take this. Oscar loves a great comeback story.
Who We Want to Win
MALIK: Even though I’ll probably lose every dramatic role I want for the rest of my life to him and David Oyelowo, it’d be nice if Chewie won.
ART: I really, really want to say Chiwetel, for obvious reasons. May still say it… His turn was the only one that nearly moved me to tears, especially within the last ten minutes of the film. But, Matthew McConaughey really went all out with his portrayal. That dude earned it this year.
Last post of the week will break down one of the most unpredictable Best Picture races in a few years…

‘Her’

 

Jaoquin Pheonix in Spike Jonze's Her

The latest film from Spike Jonze, Her, is funny, and creepy, and it’s a dead on social commentary…and it’s brilliant.

Set in the ‘very near future’, the story revolves around Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix as Spike’s on screen avatar), a shy guy who still hasn’t fully jumped back in the game after a messy divorce.  He buys the latest technology, an artificially intelligent operating system for his computer that’s marketed as more ‘intuitive’ than anything we’ve had before.  And as I’m sure you know, when Theodore chooses a female voice for his OS, the voice that comes back is…Scarlett Johannsen.  (And let me the 10,000th guy to make the joke, ‘So…when is this OS going on the market for the rest of us?)  As Theodore and ‘Samantha’ get a feel for each other’s temperament and mood, they begin to fall in love.  And like with all relationships, the honeymoon stage is great (capped with one of the most clever ‘hookup/morning after’ scenes in a little bit).

Her really takes off when, naturally, Theodore has to deal with real people, especially women.  Scarlett never appears on screen, but the rest of the female cast includes Amy Adams playing completely away from her looks, Rooney Mara (in the Sofia Coppola role, let’s be honest), and Olivia Wilde fairly accurately representing the L.A. dating scene.  That is a geek wet dream list of actresses in any film, and they all work great here.  The bulk of the film is just Joaquin onscreen reacting to something invisible though, and this role makes great use of his quirkiness.

At this point, I want to think my friends and fellow film geeks for not talking too much about this film.  Even having the beats of the genre burned in my brain, when the film hit its third act ‘twist’ (which I won’t ruin here), I yelled ‘OH HELL NO!’ at my TV.  The story is told well, and you feel for what the characters are going through.  That’s all the audience wants, most of the time.

‘American Hustle’

 

amyadamshustle

Don’t know if it’s the best film of the year, but I get why everyone is into American Hustle.  It’s fun.  It’s a lot more fun than most of the ‘serious’ stuff that gets promoted for awards season.

As the opening title card suggests, the film is loosely based on the well known ABSCAM stings the feds used to bring down power players in the 70s.  The story of this film centers around the con artist played by Christian Bale, who in true Method form (fist pump) put on a ridiculously amount of weight and even developed a serious (a little too serious) slouch for his character.  He partners early on with Amy Adams’ character, who also reinvents herself as a con artist…

Amy Adams…I think the first time I noticed was as the innocent in another con film (ironically), Catch Me If You Can.  And over time, she’s done well picking parts that use her sexuality but remind you she’s a true actress as well.  I say that to say that forever I’d see her in something and say, ‘Not that long ago, Julianne Moore would’ve played that.’  And the costume design (the only Oscar lock in my opinion) goes a long way, but in this film, HO. LY. CHRIST.  She’s not ‘kind of doing a young Julianne Moore thing’ anymore, she just took her dirty heels and grinded them all in Julianne Moore’s couch.  Amy already arrived, I’m just saying that comparison is done now (at least in my mind).

Everybody in the cast delivers.  The current It Girl, Jennifer Lawrence, pulls her weight to no surprise (figured she was in the story more, but her character turns the story a couple of times).  The homie Louie C.K. has a nice supporting role as the put upon boss of Bradley Cooper’s character.  And even though I knew he has a scene, I was still very happy to see one of my all time favorite actors do a nice cameo to further the story.  Not ruining it if you don’t know who I’m referring to.

I think the film wants to be GoodFellas… but there were a few places I thought I could have been tighter.  But still, solid film, all the way around.  Worth seeing.

 

sallyfieldlincoln

Let’s play our part in the hype machine and use this week to give predictions for the Oscars, shall we?  Let’s start with Best Actress in a Supporting Role.

And the nominees are:

  • Amy Adams in ‘The Master’
  • Sally Field in ‘Lincoln’
  • Anne Hathaway in ‘Les Miserables’
  • Helen Hunt in ‘The Sessions’
  • Jacki Weaver in ‘Silver Linings Playbook’

Who Should Win: Hmmm.  I don’t know if there’s really a wrong choice here by the definition of the category.  Let’s throw Helen Hunt out here.

Who I Want to Win: Again, hmmm.  I don’t have a terribly strong love for any of these women (over the other four, in this specific context).  I guess I’ll cheer for Sally Field.

Who Will Win: Anne Hathaway.  It’s been preordained it seems.  Just get ready for the speech.

Tomorrow we move to the fellas…

 

I’ve got quite a lot going on so I can’t promise I’ll finish this, but I have to at least throw out a few predictions for the Oscars this weekend:

Best Supporting Actress

Personal Favorite: Hailee Steinfeld had a star making turn in True Grit. Part of the history of the Supporting categories are these are where the ‘upsets’ happen, so if you want to use that logic, a relative neophyte holding her own onscreen with Jeff Bridges, Josh Brolin, Barry Pepper, and Matt Damon would certainly qualify.  I also liked Amy Adams hitting a different type of note in The Fighter, but a part of me also hears people saying ‘a stunning actress going plain’ which drives me up the wall (personal pet peeve).

Who Should Win: I’d say Steinfeld but to me she was a lead in that movie and is only in this category to increase the odds she can pull the upset.  I’ll go with Melissa Leo.

Who Will Win: Melissa Leo for The Fighter.

Best Supporting Actor

Personal Favorite: I favor Method guys, so it was easy for me to cheer for Christian Bale’s performance in The Fighter. In all honesty, I could make a convincing case for every nominee in this category.  Any of these guys could have been nominated in another year and easily win.  Those are the breaks sometimes.

Who Should Win: There’s a chance that The King’s Speech rolls over everybody and Geoffrey Rush winning here would be part of that.  But it seems everyone has forgiven Christian for his Hall of Fame rant on the Terminator set (OH GOOD FOR YOU!!!!!!), and he’ll walk away with the gold.

Who Will Win: BATMAN!!!!!!!

The Fighter

To paraphrase the Sports Guy, the ‘underdog boxer’ genre has probably been worn dry.  Like the gangster genre, boxing has created some of the greatest films ever made (with the Rocky series and Raging Bull immediately coming to mind).  The standard is ridiculously high.  I go with that lead in to say The Fighter is a good film but not the best of its genre.  It’s based on the true story of Micky Ward and his older brother who was also a boxer but had a serious drug problem.  (As an aside, the film ends with only a title card mentioning the Ward-Gotti trilogy.  This got a giggle out of me as a casual boxing fan, don’t get any hardcore boxing fans started.)

Mark Wahlberg plays Micky Ward, but the heavy lifting in this film is done by Christian Bale as the older brother and Melissa Leo as the overbearing mother of the boys.  This is the second time I’ll cop to a film geek bias: there’s a generation of kids who think of Bale as Batman (and I’m not complaining).  But to see him here in the loser brother role, I thought he was good, but I also have seen enough of Bale’s work over the years to not be overwhelmed by his performance.  A lot of people say he has the inside track for Best Supporting Actor in a few months.  If that’s true, I’ll be cheering for him, but I don’t know if I like Jeremy Renner’s performance in The Town better.  By the way, Daniel Day-Lewis, if nothing else, let’s agree the Method torch has officially been passed to one of these two guys.

Film snobbery aside, when we finally got to the title fight in the third act, I was into it.  The music, Bale’s “you’re doing this for all of us” speech, Mom and a ‘plain-looking’ Amy Adams in the front row, it was all done effectively.  Walking out, I was actually that Mark Wahlberg should get credit for not ‘hi-jacking’ the movie away from the supporting actors (being the ‘lead actor’ but not ‘the star of the movie’ is a talent, I’m now convinced).   Maybe he took pointers from Bale who is in a similar boat playing Batman to Heath’s Joker a couple years back.

I digress…

Best Supporting Actress

 

penelope-vicky_cristina

Here are the nominees for Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture:

  • Amy Adams in ‘Doubt’
  • Penelope Cruz in ‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona’
  • Viola Davis in ‘Doubt’
  • Taraji P. Henson in ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’
  • Marisa Tomei in ‘The Wrestler’

What may happen:  The people who love ‘Doubt’ may split the vote between Viola Davis and Amy Adams, opening the door for one of the other three ladies.  It’s also possible (but less likely) that voters may want a ‘sister’ to win and split votes between Taraji and Viola.  Either way, it doesn’t look good for Viola Davis (who did a hell of a job in a few scenes, worth checking out).

Who will probably win: Hmmmmmm.  This is usually the ‘unpredictable’ category.  I could see a case for Penelope or Taraji, but it would be ‘Oscar-style’ to give Marisa Tomei a second Oscar (to prove the first one wasn’t an ‘accident’ – classic urban legend, look it up if you don’t know what I’m talking about).

Who I’ll be cheering for:  Taraji.  ‘Benjamin Button’ wasn’t my favorite movie this year, but not because I didn’t enjoy Taraji’s performance.  The sister can act man, and she added a lot to what was probably written as a one-note character.  And you know she’d give a hell of a speech if given the chance.