Amy (dir by Asif Kapadia)
Amy opens with brilliant and, in its way, heartbreaking footage of a 14 year-old Amy Winehouse and a friend singing Happy Birthday at a party. Even though she’s singing deliberately off-key and going over-the-top (as we all tend to do when we sing Happy Birthday), you can tell that Amy was a star from the beginning. She’s obviously enjoying performing and being the center of attention and, try as you might, it’s impossible not to contrast the joy of her Happy Birthday with the sadness of her later life.
A star whose music touched millions (including me), Amy Winehouse was ultimately betrayed by a world that both wanted to take advantage of her talent and to revel in her subsequent notoriety. It’s often said the Amy was self-destructive but, if anything, the world conspired to destroy her. By focusing on footage of Amy both in public and private and eschewing the usual “talking head” format of most documentaries, Amy pays tribute to both Amy Winehouse and reminds us of what a great talent we all lost in 2011.
Gloria (dir by Christian Keller)
The Mexican film Gloria is a musical biopic of Gloria Trevi (played by Sofia Espinosa), a singer whose subversive songs and sexual image made her a superstar in Latin America and challenged the conventional morality of Catholic-dominated establishment. Her manager and lover was the controversial Sergio Andrade (Marco Perez). The movie follows Gloria from her first audition for the manipulative Sergio to her arrest (along with Sergio) on charges of corrupting minors. It’s an interesting and still controversial story and Gloria tells it well, with Espinosa and Perez both giving excellent performances.
Pitch Perfect 2 (dir by Elizabeth Banks)
The Bellas are back! As I think I’ve mentioned a few times on this site, I really loved the first Pitch Perfect. In fact, I loved it so much that I was a bit concerned about the sequel. After all, sequels are never as good as the original and I was dreading the idea of the legacy of the first film being tarnished.
But the sequel actually works pretty well. It’s a bit more cartoonish than the first film. After three years at reigning ICCA champions, the Bellas are expelled from competition after Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) accidentally flashes the President. The only way for the Bellas to get the suspension lifted is to win the World Championship of A Capella. The plot, to be honest, really isn’t that important. You’re watching the film for the music and the interplay of the Bellas and, on those two counts, the film totally delivers.
It should be noted that Elizabeth Banks had a great 2015. Not only did she give a great performance in Love & Mercy but she also made a respectable feature directing debut with Pitch Perfect 2.
Sisters (dir by Jason Moore)
It’s interesting how opinions can change. For the longest time, I really liked Tina Fey and I thought that Amy Poehler was kind of overrated. But, over the past two years, I’ve changed my opinion. Now, I like Amy Poehler and Tina Fey kind of gets on my nerves. The best way that I can explain it is to say that Tina Fey just seems like the type who would judge me for wearing a short skirt and that would get old quickly, seeing as how I happen to like showing off my legs.
Anyway, in Sisters, Tina and Amy play sisters! (Shocking, I know.) Amy is the responsible one who has just gotten a divorce and who wants to make everyone’s life better. Tina is the irresponsible one who refuses to accept that she’s no longer a teenager. When their parents announce that they’re selling the house where they grew up, Amy and Tina decide to throw one last party. Complications ensue.
I actually had two very different reactions to Sisters. On the one hand, as a self-declared film critic, it was easy for me to spot the obvious flaw with Sisters. Tina and Amy should have switched roles because Tina Fey is simply not believable as someone who lives to have fun. Sometimes, it’s smart to cast against type but it really doesn’t work here.
However, as the youngest of four sisters, there was a lot of Sisters that I related to. I saw Sisters with my sister, the Dazzling Erin, and even if the film did not work overall, there were still a lot of little scenes that made us smile and go, “That’s just like us.” In fact, I think they should remake Sisters and they should let me and Erin star in it.
Spy (dir by Paul Feig)
There were a lot of very good spy films released in 2015 and SPECTRE was not one of them. In fact, the more I think about it, the more disappointed I am with the latest Bond film. It’s not so much that SPECTRE was terrible as there just wasn’t anything particular memorable about it. When we watch a film about secret agents saving the world, we expect at least a few memorable lines and performances.
Now, if you want to see a memorable spy movie, I suggest seeing Spy. Not only is Spy one of the funniest movies of the year, it’s also a pretty good espionage film. Director Paul Feig manages to strike the perfect balance between humor and action. One of the joys of seeing CIA employee Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) finally get to enter the field and do spy stuff is the fact that there are real stakes involved. Susan is not only saving the world but, in the film’s best scenes, she’s having a lot of fun doing it and, for that matter, McCarthy is obviously having a lot of fun playing Susan and those of us in the audience are having a lot of fun watching as well.
Spy also features Jason Statham as a more traditional action hero. Statham is hilarious as he sends up his own macho image. Seriously, who would have guessed that he could such a funny actor? Here’s hoping that he, McCarthy, and Feig will all return for the inevitable sequel.
Trainwreck (dir by Judd Apatow)
There’s a lot of great things that can be said about Trainwreck. Not only was it the funniest film of 2015 but it also announced to the world that Amy Schumer’s a star. It was a romantic comedy for the 21st Century, one that defied all of the conventional BS about what has to happen in a romcom. This a film for all of us because, let’s just be honest here, we’ve all been a trainwreck at some point in our life.
But for me, the heart of the film was truly to be found in the relationship between Amy and her younger sister, Kim (Brie Larson). Whether fighting over what to do with their irresponsible father (Colin Quinn) or insulting each other’s life choices, their relationship is the strongest part of the film. If Brie Larson wasn’t already guaranteed an Oscar nomination for Room, I’d demand that she get one for Trainwreck. For that matter, Amy Schumer deserves one as well.
Seriously, it’s about time the trainwrecks of the world had a film that we could truly call our own.
They really should give an Oscar for Best Casting. But until they do, we’ll just have to be happy with the nominations of the Casting Society of America!
BIG BUDGET – COMEDY
“The Big Short” Francine Maisler, Meagan Lewis (Location Casting)
“The Intern” Bernard Telsey, Laray Mayfield, Tiffany Little Canfield, David Vaccari (Associate)
“Joy” Mary Vernieu, Lindsay Graham, Angela Peri (Location Casting)
“Sisters” Kerry Barden, Paul Schnee, Joey Montenarello (Associate), Adam Richards (Associate)
“Tomorrowland” April Webster, Alyssa Weisberg, Corinne Clark (Location Casting), Jennifer Page (Location Casting)
BIG BUDGET – DRAMA
“Bridge of Spies” Ellen Lewis, Kate Sprance (Associate)
“Mad Max: Fury Road” Ronna Kress, Nikki Barrett
“Spotlight” Kerry Barden, Paul Schnee, John Buchan (Location Casting), Jason Knight (Location Casting), Carolyn Pickman (Location Casting), Joey Montenarello (Associate), Adam Richards (Associate)
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Nina Gold, April Webster, Alyssa Weisberg,?Jessica Sherman (Associate)
“Straight Outta Compton” Cindy Tolan, Victoria Thomas, Meagan Lewis(Location Casting), Beth Sepko (Location Casting), Carolyn Pickman (Location Casting), Lucinda Syson (Location Casting), Pat Moran (Location Casting), Judith Sunga (Associate)
STUDIO OR INDEPENDENT – COMEDY
“Infinitely Polar Bear” Douglas Aibel, Carolyn Pickman (Location Casting), Henry Russell Bergstein (Associate)
“Me & Earl and the Dying Girl” Angela Demo, Nancy Mosser (Location Casting), Katie Shenot (Location Casting)
“Ricki and the Flash” Bernard Telsey, Tiffany Little Canfield, Conrad Woolfe (Associate)
“Sleeping With Other People” Jennifer Euston, Emer O’Callaghan
“While We’re Young” Douglas Aibel, Francine Maisler, Henry Russell Bergstein (Associate)
STUDIO OR INDEPENDENT – DRAMA
“Brooklyn” Fiona Weir, Lucie Robitaille (Location Casting), Jim Carnahan (Location Casting),
“Carol” Laura Rosenthal, Maribeth Fox (Associate), Jodi Angstreich (Associate)
“The Danish Girl” Nina Gold
“Room” Fiona Weir, Robin D. Cook, Jonathan Oliveira (Associate)
“Trumbo” David Rubin, Meagan Lewis (Location Casting), Melissa Pryor (Associate)
LOW BUDGET – COMEDY
“Big Stone Gap” Henry Russell Bergstein, Stephanie Holbrook, Erica Arvold, Anne Chapman
“Dope” Kim Coleman
“Grandma” Douglas Aibel, Henry Russell Bergstein
“The Mend” Kerry Barden, Paul Schnee, Allison Estrin
“Mistress America” Douglas Aibel, Henry Russell Bergstein (Associate)
LOW BUDGET – DRAMA
“It Follows” Mark Bennett
“James White” Susan Shopmaker
“Meadowland” Richard Hicks
“Sisterhood of Night” Laura Rosenthal, Maribeth Fox, Jodi Angstreich
“The Stanford Prison Experiment” Angela Demo
“The Good Dinosaur” Kevin Reher, Natalie Lyon
“Inside Out” Kevin Reher, Natalie Lyon
“Legend of the Neverbeast” Jason Henkel
“Pixies” Brad Gilmore
Here are the nominations for the Las Vegas Film Critics! They loved Creed but, for some reason, not Saoirse Ronan!
1. Emily Blunt (Sicario)
2. Cate Blanchett (Carol)
3. Brie Larson (Room)
4. Lily Tomlin (Grandma)
5. Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)
5. The Big Short
1. The Danish Girl
2. The Revenant
5. The Hateful Eight
1. The Big Short
2. The Hateful Eight
3. Straight Outta Compton
3. Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief
4. Cartel Land
5. Best of Enemies
Best Foreign Film
1. Goodnight Mommy
5. Tu Dors Nicole
Best Comedy Film
2. The Big Short
Best Breakout Filmmaker
1. Rick Famuyiwa (Dope)
2. Alex Garland (Ex Machina)
3. David Robert Mitchell (It Follows)
4. Marielle Heller (The Diary of a Teenage Girl)
Youth in Film Award
1. Abraham Attah (Beasts of No Nation)
2. Jacob Tremblay (Room)
3. Milo Parker (Mr. Holmes)
4. Shameik Moore (Dope)
5. Imogene Wolodarsky (Infinitely Polar Bear)
It’s been a busy few days as far as the Oscar precursors are concerned. Let’s see how quickly I can get us caught up. First off, the 21st Annual Critics Choice nominations were announced yesterday and Mad Max: Fury Road totally dominated them!
And you know what that means — its time to say that the Critics Choice nominations are …. MAD ABOUT MAX!
Anyway, here are the nominations!
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Matt Charman and Ethan Coen & Joel Coen – Bridge of Spies
Alex Garland – Ex Machina
Quentin Tarantino – The Hateful Eight
Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley – Inside Out
Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy – Spotlight
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Bridge of Spies – Adam Stockhausen, Rena DeAngelo
Brooklyn – François Séguin, Jennifer Oman and Louise Tremblay
Carol – Judy Becker, Heather Loeffler
The Danish Girl – Eve Stewart, Michael Standish
Mad Max: Fury Road – Colin Gibson
The Martian – Arthur Max, Celia Bobak
BEST ACTRESS IN AN ACTION MOVIE
Emily Blunt – Sicario
Rebecca Ferguson – Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
Bryce Dallas Howard – Jurassic World
Jennifer Lawrence – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
Charlize Theron – Mad Max: Fury Road
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
The Second Mother
Son of Saul
Fifty Shades of Grey – Love Me Like You Do
Furious 7 – See You Again
The Hunting Ground – Til It Happens To You
Love & Mercy – One Kind of Love
Spectre – Writing’s on the Wall
Youth – Simple Song #3
Hi there! It’s time for yet another edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation film trailers! Today, we’ve got six trailers that are terrorific!
Now, I know what you’re saying.
You’re saying, “Dammit, Bowman, terrorific is not a word.”
Well you know what?
It so totally is a word.
And with that settled, here’s this week’s collection of trailers!
1) Strange Behavior (1981)
This is one of my favorite films of all time! This is a horror film that includes zombies, knife-wielding maniacs, and an elaborate dance number for no particular reason. What more could you want?
2) The Beast Within (1982)
Agck! This film is so scary that its trailer starts out with a warning!
3) Holy Terror (1976)
This trailer features a truly terrorific mask.
4) Sisters (1973)
Someday, me and the Dazzling Erin are going to star in a remake of this film.
5) Rawhead Rex (1986)
I’m tempted to make a really tasteless comment about the title of this film…
6) The Lift (1983)
Agck! This trailer makes me glad that I always take the stairs at work. Cardio for the win!
What do you think, Trailer Kitty?