Playing Catch Up With The Films of 2016: Demolition (dir by Jean-Marc Vallee)


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Jake Gyllenhaal is owed an Oscar.  We all know that.  He should have been nominated for Nightcrawler and, even more importantly, he should have won.  However, for whatever reason, the Academy snubbed him.  Ever since then, we — and by “we,” I mean “me” but “we” sounds better — have been waiting for him to get another nomination.

Last year, for instance, we thought he would be nominated for Southpaw.  Then the movie came out and it turned out to be not that good.

This year, we thought it would be for Demolition.  Then Demolition came out and it turned out to be worse than Southpaw

And really, it shouldn’t have been.  Demolition was directed by Jean-Marc Vallee, who was rightly acclaimed for his work on Wild and Dallas Buyers Club.  Not only did it star Jake Gyllenhaal but it also featured Naomi Watts and Chris Cooper!  I mean, how could you go wrong with all that talent?

But the thing is, Jean-Marc Vallee may have directed Wild and Dallas Buyers Club but also directed the wildly uneven The Young Victoria.  Naomi Watts is a great actress but it’s rare that she gets truly great parts.  Chris Cooper can be great but he’s usually at his least subtle whenever he’s playing a suit-wearing authority figure.  As far Jake Gyllenhaal, he is an actor who was born to play eccentric outsiders.  Whenever he has to play someone who is “conventional,” he can seem miscast.

Now admittedly, Davis Mitchell is only “normal” for a few minutes in Demolition but, for the film to work, you have to believe that he was once a successful investment banker who made a lot of money, lived in the suburbs, and never questioned anything.  Since you never believe that Jake Gyllenhaal could ever not be eccentric, it’s hard to be shocked when Davis starts destroying houses and dancing in public.  Everyone else in the movie is so shocked to discover that Davis had an eccentric side but we’re not because he’s played by Jake Gyllenhaal.

The reason why Davis is acting so strange is because his wife has just died in a horrific auto accident.  Now that she’s gone, Davis finds himself wondering if he ever loved her and questioning his entire life.  What little joy he gets comes from helping to tear down houses and corresponding with Karen (Naomi Watts).  Karen works for a vending machine company.  When the hospital vending machine didn’t give Davis the candy that he paid for, he wrote a long letter to the company and explained that his wife has just died and…

*sigh*

See, this is one of those films that is so relentlessly quirky and full of scenes that are supposed to be profound and thought-provoking that it’s kind of a drag to actually try to describe the film’s plot.  I mean, it actually kind of ticks me off to think about all of the contortions that Demolition goes through in its attempt to convince us that it actually has something important to say.  (I was shocked to discover that it wasn’t based on a Nicholas Sparks novel.)  It’s one of those films that obviously has the best of intentions but it’s so overwritten and overdirected and overly portentous that anyone who has ever had to deal with depression will get annoyed with the simplified and shallow way that Demolition deals with it.

Demolition was supposed to be an Oscar contender last year but it’s release date got moved back and I can understand why.  The movie’s a mess.

Here’s hoping that Jake Gyllenhaal gets a great role next year!

Here’s the Latest Trailer For Demolition!


Much like Miles Ahead, Demolition is another film that was briefly pegged as a certain 2015 Oscar nominee until its release date was moved back to 2016.  Jean-Marc Vallee’s follow-up to the wonderful Wild, Demolition features Jake Gyllenhaal as a recent widower who struggles to deal with his grief.

I have to admit that I’ve seen the first trailer for Demolition about a hundred times now (it plays before every film at the Alamo Drafthouse) and I’m kind of sick of listening to Gyllenhaal talk about that damn vending machine.  That said, I’ll watch Jake Gyllenhaal in just about anything.  If I could force myself to sit through Southpaw, I’m sure I’ll be able to handle Demolition when it opens in April.

Here’s the latest trailer for Demolition!  Unfortunately, it opens with that same endless vending machine monologue but it does go on to reveal that one of my favorite actresses, Naomi Watts, is in the film as well.  So, that’s a good thing.

Embracing the Melodrama Part II #116: The Young Victoria (dir by Jean-Marc Vallee)


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So, earlier, I was having a conversation with my BFF Evelyn and I discovered that we both have a massive girl crush on Emily Blunt.

And really, can you blame us?

First off, Emily Blunt is incredibly talented.  She’s one of those actresses who can play just about anyone and anything.  I have never heard or seen an interview with her where she seemed to be anything less than intelligent and witty.  She speaks her mind and projects an attitude of not really caring what other people think about her.  Add to that, she’s absolutely gorgeous and she has a body and a face to die for.  If I were to ever get a nose job (and that’s always been a temptation for me), I would definitely tell the surgeon to give me Emily Blunt’s nose.

Evelyn and I also love the fact that Emily Blunt always plays characters who kick ass, often times literally.  Whether it was in Looper or Edge of Tomorrow or the upcoming Sicario, one thing remains consistent.  You simply do not mess with Emily Blunt because she’s a fighter.

Finally, Emily Blunt gets to spend every night with Jon Krasinski!

Seriously, how can you not love Emily Blunt?

Emily Blunt first received attention as the result of supporting turns in The Devil Wears Prada and Charlie Wilson’s War.  Her first starring role — or, at the very least, her first starring role to receive wide distribution here in the states — was in the 2009 film, The Young Victoria.

The Young Victoria attempts to do for Britain’s famous Queen Victoria what Elizabeth did for Queen Elizabeth I.  It attempts to humanize an iconic figure and show that, underneath the popular image of Victorian refinement and emotional repression, Victoria was actually a passionate and headstrong woman.  And the film largely succeeds at doing that because Victoria is played by Emily Blunt.

Unfortunately, The Young Victoria is never quite as interesting as Elizabeth.  Whereas both films feature young queens struggling to prove themselves worthy of leading Britain, Elizabeth benefited from being conceived as a renaissance version of The Godfather.  Elizabeth was full of shadowy conspiracies, ominous whispers, and secrets.  When, at the end of the film, Elizabeth had solidified her hold on the British crown, you felt that she had truly accomplished something and that perhaps her victory was worth living the rest of her life as the Virgin Queen.

Whereas in The Young Victoria, the conspiracies basically amount to smug civil servants assuring themselves that Victoria won’t do something and then being shocked when Victoria does exactly what they weren’t expecting her to do.  And, while it’s undeniably fun to watch Victoria refuse to sign away her power and announce that she can decide for herself what her royal role should be, that’s largely because it’s always fun to watch Emily Blunt stand up for herself.

The majority of the film is taken up with Victoria being courted by Prince Albert (Rupert Friend).  Again, there’s no real conflict in Victoria and Albert’s relationship.  We know that Victoria is eventually going to marry Albert.  And, even when the two have an argument towards the end of the film, you know that they are going to reconcile.  What you may not be prepared for is a scene where Albert is gravely wounded while protecting Victoria from an assassin’s bullet.  That’s because it never happened.  A man did attempt to assassinate Victoria but he failed and Albert was not wounded at all.  But then again, why let history get in the way of a good story?

On the poster at the top of the post, The Young Victoria is described as being “gorgeous.”  And really that’s the main reason to see the film.  The film looks really, really good.  The costumes and the sets are wonderfully ornate.  The cinematography is vibrant and lush.  And Emily Blunt’s performance can rightly be called gorgeous.   By the end of The Young Victoria, you really don’t feel like you’ve learned anything new about Queen Victoria.  But you do appreciate Emily Blunt.

What if Lisa Marie Picked The Oscar Nominees!


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With the Oscar nominations due to be announced tomorrow, now is the time that the Shattered Lens indulges in a little something called, “What if Lisa had all the power.” Listed below are my personal Oscar nominations.  Please note that these are not the films that I necessarily think will be nominated.  The fact of the matter is that the many of them will not.  Instead, these are the films that would be nominated if I was solely responsible for deciding the nominees this year.  Winners are listed in bold.

(You’ll also note that I’ve added four categories, all of which I believe the Academy should adopt — Best Voice-Over Performance, Best Casting, Best Stunt Work, and Best Overall Use Of Music In A Film.)

(Click on the links to see my nominations for 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010!)

2015 Best Picture Nominees

Best Picture

Boyhood

The Fault In Our Stars

Foxcatcher

The Grand Budapest Hotel

*Guardians of the Galaxy*

The LEGO Movie

Nightcrawler

Palo Alto

Under the Skin

Wild

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Best Director

Wes Anderson for The Grand Budapest Hotel

Dan Gilroy for Nightcrawler

Jonathan Glazer for Under the Skin

James Gunn for Guardians of the Galaxy

*Richard Linklater for Boyhood*

Jean-Marc Vallee for Wild

Nightcrawler

Best Actor

Macon Blair in Blue Ruin

Nicholas Cage in Joe

Ralph Fiennes in The Grand Budapest Hotel

*Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler*

Tom Hardy in Locke

Michael Keaton in Birdman

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Best Actress

Scarlett Johansson in Under the Skin

Angelina Jolie in Maleficent

Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl

Emmanuelle Seigner in Venus In Fur

Shailene Woodley in The Fault In Our Stars

*Reese Witherspoon in Wild*

Gary Poulter in Joe

Best Supporting Actor

Josh Brolin in Inherent Vice

Steve Carell in Foxcatcher

Ethan Hawke in Boyhood

*Gary Poulter in Joe*

Mark Ruffalo in Foxcatcher

J.K. Simmons in Whiplash

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Best Supporting Actress

Patrica Arquette in Boyhood

Laura Dern in Wild

Emma Roberts in Palo Alto

Rene Russo in Nightcrawler

Emma Stone in Birdman

*Mia Wasikowska in Only Lovers Left Alive*

Vin-Diesel-is-Groot-Official-Guardians-of-the-Galaxy

Best Voice Over Performance

Scott Adsit in Big Hero 6

Bradley Cooper in Guardians of the Galaxy

Kate del Castillo in The Book of Life

*Vin Diesel in Guardians of the Galaxy*

Morgan Freeman in The LEGO Movie

Chris Pratt in The LEGO Movie

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Best Original Screenplay

*Boyhood*

Chef

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The LEGO Movie

Nightcrawler

The One I Love

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Best Adapted Screenplay

The Fault In Our Stars

Gone Girl

Guardians of the Galaxy

Palo Alto

Venus in Fur

*Wild*

Lego Movie

Best Animated Feature

Big Hero 6

The Book of Life

The Boxtrolls

How To Train Your Dragon 2

*The LEGO Movie*

JodorowskysDune

Best Documentary Feature

Art and Craft

*Jodorowsky’s Dune*

The Last Patrol

Life Itself

Private Violence

Under the Electric Sky

Venus_in_Fur_poster

Best Foreign Language Film

Borgman

Ida

Illiterate

The Raid 2

*Venus In Fur*

We Are The Best!

Boyhood Image

Best Casting

*Boyhood*

Foxcatcher

Joe

Snowpiercer

Under the Skin

Wild

Palo Alto

Best Cinematography

California Scheming

A Field In England

Foxcatcher

If I Stay

Nightcrawler

*Palo Alto*

Meryl-Streep-Into-The-Woods

Best Costume Design

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Guardians of the Galaxy

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part One

In Secret

*Into the Woods*

Pompeii

Film Review Under the Skin

Best Editing

Birdman

Boyhood

Guardians of the Galaxy

Nightcrawler

*Under the Skin*

Wild

Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-gang

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Foxcatcher

*Guardians of the Galaxy*

The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies

Inherent Vice

Into the Woods

Maleficent

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Best Original Score

California Scheming

A Field in England

Gone Girl

Guardians of the Galaxy

Nightcrawler

*Under the Skin*

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Best Original Song

“Lost Stars” from Begin Again

“The Apology Song” from The Book of Life

“Split the Difference” from Boyhood

“Yellow Flicker Beats” from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part One

*”Everything is Awesome” from The LEGO Movie*

“Sister Rust” from Lucy

“Mercy” from Noah

“Hal” from Only Lovers Left Alive

“Rock Star” from Palo Alto

“Summer Nights” from Under the Electric Sky

GuardiandoftheGalaxy

Best Overall Use Of Music

Begin Again

Boyhood

A Field in England

*Guardians of the Galaxy*

Only Lovers Left Alive

Whiplash

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Best Production Design

*The Grand Budapest Hotel*

Guardians of the Galaxy

Inherent Vice

Into the Woods

Snowpiercer

Winter’s Tale

Fury

Best Sound Editing

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

A Field in England

*Fury*

Guardians of the Galaxy

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

X-Men: Days of Future Past

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Best Sound Mixing

*Captain America: The Winter Soldier*

A Field in England

Fury

Guardians of the Galaxy

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

X-Men: Days of Future Past

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Best Stunt Work

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

*Dawn of the Planet of the Apes*

Divergent

In the Blood

Raze

X-Men: Days of Future Past

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Best Visual Effects

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Edge of Tomorrow

Godzilla

*Guardians of the Galaxy*

Interstellar

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Number of Nominations by Film

14 Nominations — Guardians of the Galaxy

9 Nominations — Boyhood

8 Nominations — Nightcrawler

7 Nominations — Wild

6 Nominations — Foxcatcher, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Lego Movie, Under the Skin

5 Nominations —  A Field in England, Palo Alto

4 Nominations — X-Men: Days of Future Past

3 Nominations — Birdman, The Book of LifeCapt. America: The Winter Soldier, The Fault In Our Stars, Gone Girl, Inherent Vice, Into the WoodsJoe, Only Lovers Left AliveVenus in Fur

2 Nominations — Begin AgainBig Hero 6, California SchemingDawn of the Planet of Apes, Fury, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five ArmiesThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part OneMaleficent, SnowpiercerUnder the Electric SkyWhiplash

1 Nomination — Art and CraftBlue Ruin, BorgmanThe Box Trolls, ChefDivergent, Edge of Tomorrow, Godzilla, How To Train Your Dragon 2, Ida, If I StayIlliterate, In SecretIn the Blood, Interstellar, Jodorowsky’s Dune, The Last Patrol, Life ItselfLocke, Lucy, NoahThe One I Love, Pompeii, Private ViolenceThe Raid 2Raze, We Are The Best!, Winter’s Tale

Numbers of Oscars By Film

5 Oscars — Guardians of the Galaxy

3 Oscars — Boyhood

2 Oscars — The LEGO Movie, Under the Skin, Wild

1 Oscar — Capt. America: The Winter Soldier, Dawn of the Plaent of the Apes, Jodorowsky’s Dune, Fury, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Into the Woods, Joe, Nightcrawler, Only Lovers Left Alive, Palo Alto, Venus In Fur

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Film Review: Wild (dir by Jean-Marc Vallee)


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Wild opens with Cheryl Strayed (played by Reese Witherspoon) standing on the edge of a cliff.  She has been hiking for days and, because her hiking boots are too small, she’s limping and in a great  deal of pain.  She takes off a boot and a sock and stares at her bloody big toe.  With trembling fingers, she removes what is left of her big toenail.  And then, she throws her boot over the edge of the cliff while screaming, “FUCK YOU!”

And, from that moment, Wild had me.

For the next two hours, I sat there and I was absolutely enthralled as Cheryl, an aspiring writer and a recovering drug addict who was still struggling to come to terms with the death of her mother (played, in heart-breaking flashbacks, by Laura Dern), hiked her way from the Mexican border up to the Canadian border.  I watched as she learned how to survive in the wilderness, how she cautiously learned to trust some of her fellow hikers, and as she dealt with sexist rangers and creepy hunters.

And there were a lot of reasons why Wild held me so enthralled.  There was Reese Witherspoon’s performance, for one thing.  Reese is on screen during every minute of Wild and, for a lot of that time, she’s alone with her thoughts and her emotions.  She gives an amazingly focused performance, one that should regain her some of the respect that she sacrificed by appearing in movies like This Means War and publicly asking, “Do you know who I am?”  Both the film and Reese’s performance resist the temptation to idealize Cheryl.  Instead, both the film and the performance feel real and because Cheryl comes across as a real person (flaws and all), it makes her journey and her achievement all the more powerful.

I couldn’t help but relate to Cheryl.  Like her, I’m an aspiring writer.  Like her, I’m still learning how to deal with the loss of my mom.  Like her, I have trust issues.  Like her, I am sometimes too stubborn for my own good.  Like her, I like to leave quotes in guest books.  Like her, I always pack a few paperbacks before I go on a trip and I like to write in my journal.  Like Cheryl, I’m a survivor and I’m proud of it.

Unlike Cheryl, however, I’ve never gone hiking and I doubt if I ever will.  As much as I loved Wild (and it’s definitely one of my favorite films of 2014), it didn’t leave me with any great desire to go on a hike.  That’s largely because of that first scene.  When Cheryl threw away her boots and screamed, I thought to myself, “That would so be me.”  Of course, the difference is that Cheryl did that after hiking for a month.  I would probably end up doing that after the 2nd day.  And then I’d turn around, go back home, and spend the weekend watching Netflix.

But here’s the thing: Wild is not really about hiking.  Wild is about the journey.  What’s important is not that Cheryl hiked but that Cheryl accomplished what she set out to do.  No matter how difficult it got, no matter how many people told her she should give up, Cheryl walked from Mexico to Canada.  By the end of the film, I felt like, if Cheryl could do that even with boots that were too small, than there was nothing that I could not do.

As a result, Wild is not only one of the best films of 2014.

It’s the most empowering as well.

 

Lisa’s Early Oscar Predictions For July


Foxcatcher

Foxcatcher

It’s time for me to update my early Oscar predictions!  Every month, based on a combination of buzz, reviews, gut feelings, and random guesses, I attempt to predict which films, directors, and performers will receive nominations in 2015!  Originally, I referred to these as being my “way too early Oscar predictions.”  However, we are now halfway through the year and the picture is no longer quite as hazy as before.  Therefore, these are now simply my “early” predictions.

Click on the links to check out my predictions for March, April,  May, and June!

And below you’ll find my predictions for July.

As you may notice, my predictions have remained pretty stable over the past month.  The advance word on Big Eyes has been mixed but, unlike a lot of Oscar watchers, I was never expecting Big Eyes to be a major contender for any award other than best actress.  Meanwhile, Boyhood continues to be one of the most acclaimed films of the year, which makes me even more certain that Boyhood will be a contender in several categories.  Advanced word on Foxcatcher has also been so strong that I can now imagine both Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum scoring nominations for best supporting actor.

The big question right now is whether or not the acclaim that’s been given to summer films like Edge of Tomorrow and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes will also translate into major Oscar nominations or will those films simply have to be satisfied with getting all of the usual technical nominations.  Personally, I would love to see Andy Serkis get some love from the Academy but, sadly, I doubt it’s going to happen.

Best Picture

Birdman

Boyhood

Foxcatcher

The Imitation Game

Interstellar

Mr. Turner

Unbroken

Wild

 

Best Director

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for Birdman

Mike Leigh for Mr. Turner

Richard Linklater for Boyhood

Bennett Miller for Foxcatcher

Jean-Marc Vallee for Wild

 

Best Actor

Steve Carell in Foxcatcher

Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game

Ralph Fiennes in The Grand Budapest Hotel

Michael Keaton in Birdman

Timothy Spall in Mr. Turner

 

Best Actress

Amy Adams in Big Eyes

Jessica Chastain in The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby

Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl

Reese Whitherspoon in Wild

Shailene Woodley in The Fault In Our Stars

 

Best Supporting Actor

Ethan Hawke in Boyhood

Mark Ruffalo in Foxcatcher

J.K. Simmons in Whiplash

Channing Tatum in Foxcatcher

Tom Wilkinson in Selma

 

Best Supporting Actress

Patricia Arquette in Boyhood

Julianne Moore in Map To The Stars

Kristen Scott Thomas in Suite francaise

Kristen Stewart in The Clouds of Sils Maria

Emma Stone in Birdman

Boyhood

Boyhood