Tag Archive: melissa leo


Flight

 

It’s not a question with a simple answer, but on the way out of Flight, I told a friend that one thing you have to admire about Denzel at this stage of his career (as an established A list Hall of Famer), is that he’s (so far) avoided the DeNiro/Pacino trap of not getting in enough quality performances in between the obvious ‘paycheck movies’.

So that’s my lead in for Flight.  I haven’t seen enough films yet to say Denzel is a lock for a Best Actor nomination, but right now he has to be in the running.  As pilot ‘Whip’ Whitaker, Denzel gives one of the more reality based portrayals of addiction that’s been onscreen in recent years.  The first act you know about: Whip, high and drunk, creates a disaster in the air and then redeems himself (initially) by guiding the plane to a safe landing.  The plane crash sequence is rough; I mean that in the best possible way as someone who has never been a fan of flying.  Kudos to you Evan if you’re reading this.

The other big takeaway from the film is while Flight is clearly Denzel’s show, the rest of the cast definitely carries their weight in supporting roles.  Nadine Velasquez is the gorgeous eye candy, John Goodman basically steals the movie as the comic relief, Don Cheadle and Melissa Leo add the necessary gravity.  Good welcome back to live action for Robert Zemeckis.

Recommendation for Flight from yours truly.

Advertisements

Aaron Rahsaan Thomas and Malik Aziz share an unique, common background.  Both young men are natives of Kansas City, Kansas, graduates of the University of Kansas and went to grad school at the University of Southern California.  They both grew up in the ‘golden age of hip hop’ and share a passion for films.

For the past several years, they’ve also posted predictions about the Academy Awards.  Technology has evolved where last year for the first time they were able to post their unique commentary during the show.

This is Round 2…

Thomas: tee minus three minutes sucka!

Malik: It’s time for this year’s Oscars.  For those wondering, I’m wearing a tux from Oscar de la Renta…

Thomas: And I’m wearing a hoodie from champs sports…

Thomas: So, I’d say this was a hit and miss opening sequence. Anne Hathaway and James Franco seem game. The Black Swan bit was a little painful, though.

Malik: yeah hit and miss was right..

Thomas: Funny joke from Hathaway about appealing to a younger demo.

Thomas: That’s exactly what ABC is going for by having them host instead of a baby boomer.

Malik: yeah we’ll see how the ratings do tomorrow

Thomas: Hey, is that Lou Gosset Jr. sitting in front of James Franco’s grandma?

Malik: yeah LOL

Thomas: “There’s only two things that come out of the Oscars. That steers and queers and I don’t see no horns on James Franco.”

Thomas: Officer and A Gentleman, thanks very much.

Malik: idiot, LOL

Malik: this feels slow but I’m digging the set design

Thomas: Hey, Lou Gossett won an oscar when black people were only winning once every ten years.

Thomas: Set design is cool, but the pace is very slow so far.

Thomas: What constitutes set design and/or computer generated backgrounds?

Malik: All I know is I’m 1 for 1 in my Oscar pool brotha…

Thomas: Alice In Wonderland looked great and had great sets, but I’d be curious to know how much of the sets were created by actual set designers and not special effects guys.

Malik: good question, but it’s the direction we’re going in I’m afraid

Thomas: That category os blurring fast.

Malik: an Oscar for Nolan’s cinematographer, nice!!!!

Thomas: Well deserved win, here. Wally Pfister shot a beautiful film with Inception.

Malik: ‘his master?’

Thomas: Mark that on the list of things a brotha will never say.

Malik: i got $100 if you win an Oscar and refer to ANYONE as your master…

Thomas: If I heard any black man say that, I might bumrush the stage even if I don’t know him.

Malik: LMBAO!!!!

Thomas: Much respect to Kirk Douglas.

Malik: yeah I don’t want to make a joke here.

Thomas: But, in fairness, the demo just switched the channel for a few minutes….

Malik: too bad, this is a major category

Thomas: Who wins here?

Malik: i picked Leo

Thomas: Good performances all around.

Malik: yeah this is a strong category

Thomas: This lady in Animal Kingdom freaks me out for some reason.

Thomas: Leo angered some people for lobbying for herself this oscar campaign.

Malik: yeah I’m offended, people get paid to do that…

Thomas: She took out a few ads in magazines asking people to consider her.

Thomas: But, if she really wants to win, she wants to win.

Thomas: Who’s the guy with the job of holding Kirk Douglas’ cane?

Malik: yeah I appreciate the honesty

Malik: this has to be the most agonizing moment in these five women’s lives…

Thomas: Yes…

Thomas: Not just for them.

Thomas: Leo’s life just changed.

Thomas: Leo fought for this award. She got it.

Malik: now you got me going, can’t you see some kid saying ‘Man Michael Douglas aged pretty bad didn’t he?”

Thomas: That’s the thing. There might be kids who don’t know who Michael Douglas is, either.

Malik: OHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

Thomas: Leo’s a ham on stage, but we already knew she was.

Thomas: Good job in The Fighter. But, don’t be taking Kirk Douglas’ cane!

Thomas: Anne Hatahway is kind of funny. “The Young and Hip Oscars” lol

Malik: yeah good comeback

Thomas: Did you check out this short animated film?

Malik: i heard about it but no

Thomas: Looks interesting. But, I always wonder who generally gets a chance to watch these, other than festivals and voters.

Thomas: Maybe that’s it.

Malik: yeah i researched this, you have to be in a certain part of the Academy to vote on certain awards

Thomas: Toy Story 3. Nice.

Malik: probably the best overall movie this year if we’re being honest

Thomas: For anyone who loved their toys, this film was a tear jerker.

Malik: agreed

Thomas: Nice way to round out the Toy Story trilogy.

Malik: yeah we grew up with that trilogy in a way

Malik: hey it’s your category brotha!

Thomas: The white tux twins?

Malik: yeah a little hard on the HDTV…

Thomas: The is Sorkin all the way

Thomas: The only question is what kind of speech will he give.

Malik: we’re about to find out…

Thomas: Even the other nominees were like, “I ain’t winning this…”

Thomas: Nice acknowledgment of the book the screenplay is based on and the author who wrote it.

Malik: yeah this is a good speech

Malik: Wrap It Up Son!

Thomas: He’s kind of a blowhard, but has a great memory of names. Overall, classy speech.

Malik: Whoa, that was my pick but I’m still surprised it won

Thomas: No surprise here.

Thomas: Seidler is in his 70s.

Thomas: Waited decades to write this story and did it well. As he said, he’s the oldest writer to win this thing.

Thomas: Seidler is also giving a classy and funny speech.

Malik: another good acceptance speech

Thomas: Writers representing with the speeches!

Thomas: Not bad singing Anne Hathaway.

Malik: (blank stare at Franco…)

Thomas: Text message from Charlie Sheen is funny.

Malik: OK Russell Brand, that was a good line…

Thomas: This is funny.

Thomas: And, I’m not even a Russell Brand fan.

Malik: me either, but I have to say the new Arthur is a good idea (on paper)

Malik: only OGs remember Dudley Moore at this point

Thomas: True, but it is a revered comedy. Hopefully they did it right.

Thomas: In HDTV, that gold envelope looks like a work of art itself.

Malik: yeah that’s pimp!

Thomas: Here comes your girl, Reece.

Malik: yeah…

Thomas: So, does Bale win and will Hathaway reference Batman?

Malik: yes and yes

Malik: as will I

Thomas: Will Bale give a crazy speech?

Malik: IN THE ALL BLACK SUIT!!!!

Thomas: Batman says “Bloody hell”?

Malik: yes so what?

Malik: learning your American accent is something we only do to make ourselves more accessible to you Yanks

Thomas: Just saying. Batman sounds kind of British up in this piece.

Thomas: At least Superman is still played by an American. Wait…

Malik: did he get a little emotional at the end?!?

Thomas: Either that, or he had a brain fart, forgot his wife’s name and played it off.

Thomas: I like to think it was emotion, though.

Malik: it better be, couldn’t pull that with no sista…

Thomas: She’d be staying daggers at him. “Negro please…”

Malik: LMBAO!!!

Malik: great intro for the sound/music categories

Thomas: Yup.

Thomas: One of my biggest loves – film scores.

Malik: i almost got up and started swinging my lightsaber around – no homo

Thomas: No comment.

Thomas: But, The King’s Speech score was well done. And used very well in the film.

Thomas: Social Network has a good one, too. Though it was a little monotonous.

Thomas: I would have picked Kings Speech, personally, but I get it.

Malik: yeah I thought Inception might have had a chance there as well

Malik: the sound was a big part of that film as well

Thomas: True.

Thomas: Scarlett Johanson. Hot?

Malik: Yeah I dig her, I’m always surprised when I hear some guys say they don’t get her appeal.

Malik: You one of them?

Thomas: She’s nice. But, there are times when she’s much better than others.

Thomas: Inception deserves this win. Great sound.

Malik: yeah tonight is not one of her better nights

Malik: and yeah there’s the Inception win

Thomas: black with bow tie.

Thomas: Don’t see that often.

Thomas: Man, they start the “get off the stage music for non actors RIGHT AWAY.

Malik: I blame Kirk Douglas still.  There I said it.

Thomas: lol

Thomas: Inception taking no prisoners with sound and effects…

Thomas: But Nolan got no love for directing.

Thomas: I heard the Academy might see him as a “comic book guy” even though The Dark Knight was well respected. Think they’ll award him for the next Batman or will it take a non comic/special effects film?

Malik: good question…

Malik: depends on how good the next Batman is, people have a short memory.

Thomas: Cate Blachett. Much respect for her skills.

Malik: yeah she’s like an even more mainstream version of Streep

Thomas: This is another category which blends the practical work with special effects.

Thomas: How much of the Wolfman look was practical and how much was computer generated?

Malik: don’t know but i have a side question for you…

Malik: what would you do if you won an Oscar and the music never stopped?

Malik: they play you on to the stage and just keep playing…

Thomas: Go up on stage and stare down the orchestra. Don’t say a word, just stare at them the entire time they play.

Malik: that would be the greatest moment ever!

Malik: God forbid I’d be in the crowd, the camera would catch me looking like I had no home training…

Thomas: Got the first black people on the show.

Thomas: Of course, they’re rapping.

Malik: (shaking my head…)

Thomas: How much could they pay you to sing the Beauty and The Beast song with an English accent?

Malik: Not enough. Next question…

Thomas: Randy Newman songs just make people feel good.

Malik: God bless Randy Newman, but Family Guy nailed him in one of their first seasons.

Thomas: lol. Just watched the Family Guy clip of Randy Newman!!!

Malik: Told You!!!

Thomas: How did Waiting For Superman not even get nominated for a documentary oscar, though?

Malik: Man, I don’t know

Malik: i’m not sleeping on the teacher’s union though…

Malik: our first awkward looking Oscar winner…

Thomas: This guy is a film student. Nuff said.

Thomas: But, he’s living the dream if that’s the case.

Malik: very true, I’m not hating…

Thomas: Figured Auto tune was coming.

Malik: i’m trying not to laugh…

Thomas: They could have picked a better film to do it with, though. Winter’s Bone. Some movie that’s the opposite of musical.

Malik: “He Doesn’t Own a Shirt”  – that’s a winner

Thomas: yeah, funny

Thomas: That’s what the demo wants!

Malik: i was going to say that’s her best look tonight I think

Thomas: yeah.

Thomas: Oprah sighting.

Malik: the Queen has arrived

Thomas: I wish I could watch more documentaries.

Malik: I thought Restrepo was good, haven’t seen the winner yet though

Thomas: The level of quality has really been amazing in this category.

Malik: I’m sure more fictional filmmakers are naturally gravitating towards docs these days

Thomas: Can always depend on the documentary people to make a political statement or two.

Thomas: Good.

Malik: Yep, now get off the stage!

Malik: Billy Crystal getting a well deserved ovation.

Thomas: Yes. Still the best Oscar host ever.

Thomas: For our generation at least.

Thomas: Bob Hope was known as pretty good himself.

Malik: yeah Hope is iconic

Thomas: That passover joke is iconic itself.

Malik: LOL

Thomas: I wonder who did “new Bob Hope’s” voice.

Malik: yeah that was awkward.

Thomas: Inception has to win this, right?

Thomas: Alice In Wonderland was really good for effects, but the turning room itself probably won this for Inception.

Malik: agreed

Thomas: Social Network is cleaning up. Some in their camp have to feel like they have a shot at best picture. What do you think?

Malik: Ask me after the give out the Directing award in a few minutes…

Thomas: Jennifer Hudson. Hot?

Malik: Usually but I don’t like her look tonight

Thomas: Yeah, I agree. Doesn’t seem like her own look.

Thomas: But, she lost weight and that looks good for her.

Malik: oh i see brotha; you like those size 1 types…

Thomas: I ain’t saying that.

Thomas: Just think that she looks good either way.

Malik: i guess you’re digging Gwyneth Paltrow huh?

Thomas: lol. The skinny snow bunnies…?

Thomas: Gwyneth’s never been my type. To each his own.

Thomas: I do wonder if Jennifer Hudson looks at Gwyneth’s singing and is like, “Don’t even try it…”

Thomas: The Family Guy Randy Newman is still in my head. Lol…

Malik: it’s going to be there for awhile LOL

Malik: “she takes a bite”

Thomas: The real randy Newman is pretty funny, though.

Malik: yeah that dude is pure Cali

Thomas: Uh Oh. Celine’s singing your song.

Malik: no comment

Thomas: You’ve always been a fan of “Smile” and an even bigger fan of Celine.

Thomas: This is nice.

Malik: i heard this really was MJ’s favorite song though

Thomas: Yeah.

Thomas: Perfect song for this montage.

Malik: yeah

Thomas: Well done. They normally go to commercial after the montage. Not this year. Think I still have a crush on Lena Horne.

Malik: I still have a crush on Halle Berry…

Thomas: NOW they go to commercial.

Thomas: Nice.

Malik: that may have been the best In Memoriam even though it wasn’t the most star studded

Thomas: It was well done.

Thomas: Here we go – directing…

Thomas: Wow. Hooper wins in his first nomination.

Malik: yeah that’s impressive

Thomas: Not sure how I feel about that.

Malik: the Social Network folks just got their bubble burst I think..

Thomas: Looks like The King’s Speech just grabbed the inside track on best picture again.

Thomas: The Social Network took the early prizes, but The King’s Speech might be coming on late.

Malik: nice Mama’s boy speech there

Thomas: Yeah. Nice and simple speech.

Thomas: Fincher has one in the bank for a future award, though.

Malik: you know the historian in me wants to get into the Governors Award ceremony one day

Thomas: Wow. That photo of Lucas, Scosese, Speilberg, Coppola, DePalma  etc, was pretty cool.

Malik: yeah i was wondering if you caught that!

Thomas: Don’t think I’ve seen a director’s photo like that before.

Thomas: How would you feel if they were taking a photo like that and asked you to step out of it?

Malik: LOLOLOL oh man….

Malik: thanks for pulling me out of my sentimental moment brotha…

Thomas: lol

Malik: Warren Beatty looking like “I remember when you yelled at me like that…”

Thomas: lol

Thomas: Jennifer Lawrence has a bright immediate future if she wants it.

Thomas: BUT, this is Natalie Partman’s night.

Thomas: Think I still feel that my favorite nomination announcement was when it was done by peers (a group of fellow actors/actresses) a year or two ago.

Malik: agreed that was awesome

Thomas: Natalie Portman takes it.

Thomas: She’s been good for years. Deserves this. Was great in Black Swan.

Malik: yeah

Malik: I’m a Natalie fan so this is cool

Thomas: She’s been acting since she was born, so you know she’s been thinking about this moment forever.

Thomas: Shout out to Luc Besson!

Thomas: The Professional!

Malik: still the flick!

Thomas: I like Portman, because as I said before, she seems very normal and even has a geeky side.

Malik: it’s coming out in this speech

Thomas: Yup.

Malik: she just thanked the 1st AD and the camera operators for God’s sake!!!

Thomas: 1st AD is even surprised by that…

Malik: also loving the Chinese Theatre backdrop by the way

Thomas: Yeah, that’s great.

Thomas: Hey, if you get nominated for an acting oscar and I’m sitting behind you, remind me to lean up behind you when they call your name and be like, “Yo, they said your name. You hear that? You hear that?” as I shake your shoulder.

Malik: LOLOL, please don’t…

Malik: that’s EXACTLY why there aren’t any minorities nominated…

Thomas: Colin Firth has to win this, it seems.

Malik: well deserved in my opinion

Thomas: Yeah, they got it right. Great performance.

Thomas: Funny first line of his speech, too.

Malik: that’s going to be replayed for years…

Thomas: Does Harvey Weinstein ever shave?

Malik: naw that’s his look

Thomas: But, he never lets it grow into a full beard.

Thomas: The stubble beard has been his thing forever.

Malik: yeah he’s on that Paul Pierce program

Thomas: lol

Malik: so the last one, it has to be King’s Speech right?

Thomas: Yup.

Malik: Spielberg keepin it real!

Thomas: Nicely put by Speilberg.

Thomas: Even if you lose, you’re in great company.

Thomas: They’re playing the best moment from The King’s Speech.

Malik: Exactly

Thomas: By the way, this is a great score as I said before.

Malik: Excellent montage

Thomas: Yup. Well done.

Thomas: Whoever did the montages for the oscars should get an award themselves.

Malik: yeah montages and set design were aces

Thomas: Alright. There you go.

Thomas: King’s Speech. Well done.

Malik: yessir

Malik: I know we have other obligations; any last words brotha?

Thomas: It’s been fun. Gotta love the movies. Best job in the world is to be able to tell stories. On to Oscars 2012.

Malik: i don’t think The Dark Knight Rises will be eligible yet but I’m sure there will be other good films..

Thomas: Looking forward to seeing them. Peace out!

Malik: thanks to everyone who read along.

 

 

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 Actress

 

anne-hathaway

Here are the nominees for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture:

  • Anne Hathaway in “Rachel Getting Married”
  • Angelina Jolie in “Changeling”
  • Melissa Leo in “Frozen River”
  • Meryl Streep in “Doubt”
  • Kate Winslet in “The Reader”

What might happen:  Anything.  I’m not kidding.  Anne Hathaway is clearly establishing herself as the ‘Next Girl’ and her dramatic breakthrough could pull off the upset.  Angelina Jolie, love her or hate her, has one Academy Award already under her belt, so it’s not like it would be her first time on the stage.  Meryl Streep is…Meryl Streep.  This looks like it’s finally Kate Winslet’s year to walk away with the gold man after being nominated so many times.  Or…the four powerhouse names could split the vote four ways, opening the door for Melissa Leo to pull off the shocker.

What should happen:  From a pure performance point of view, I’d say Anne Hathaway was the most impressive.  But more than ever the momentum seems to be swinging the way of Kate Winslet, so look for a repeat of the teary eyed ‘preview’ we got at the Golden Globes.

Who I’m cheering for: I’ve never hidden my ‘mixtape-level’ crush on Kate Winslet.  Anybody who could take Wesley Snipes old “I have to have at least one sex scene in this movie” contract, and add in a “I have to get naked” clause, well hey.  In all seriousness though, her acting chops keep improving (kind of scary), and even though this feels like a Pacino-esque “Lifetime Achievement” Oscar for an inferior performance, I wouldn’t have a problem with it.