‘Two Days, One Night’ Review (dir. Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne)


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In a year full of truly great films of all sizes & shapes, only the Dardenne brothers could make such a subtle and slight film that still manages to make all other releases seem completely insignificant to me. Once again they tell a small, emotional and naturalistic story whose themes and situations manage to be as universal as they are singular. The effect the film has is slow but powerful. I walked out of the theater thoroughly loving what I had just seen – and a bit speechless – but on the ride home it hit me like a ton of bricks. I don’t want to get too personal – but I suffer from depression and the emotional weight on the shoulders of the film’s main character so perfectly mirrored those I have felt that to even think about some of her smaller personal moments takes my breath away, and leaves a pit in my stomach. And yet, I can’t help but look back on the film with a smile. It is beautiful and honest in ways very few are.

It stars Marion Cotillard as Sandra, a married mother or two who is on leave from work because of a battle with clinical depression. She was just beginning to recover but is on the verge of relapsing when she learns that her coworkers were forced to vote on whether they wanted to receive a year end bonus – but only if Sandra was fired. They chose the money – and so Sandra must spend the weekend visiting each of them to try to convince them to change their minds when they vote a second time on the upcoming Monday. Each end up having their own reasons for wanting the money – and the encounters often end in tears, rejection and in once instance violence. But Sandra must do it – for bother her family and herself.

The result is a portrait of a woman facing seemingly insurmountable emotional, moral and social odds – a humanistic view of all things good and bad about human nature; and an examination of the devastating affect of depression. Its structure covers greed, love, survival, regret, self worth – and a whole multitude of other themes. There is also a current of economic commentary on the wealth gap and struggles of the working class. In other words – it is the Dardenne brothers doing what they do best – in what is perhaps their best work.

The core of the film is Marion Cotillard who gives what I think is far and away the best performance of the year. She is a magnificent actress and brings great physicality to the role. Her head hangs. Her arms and shoulders are pulled in tight – closing herself off to the world – and her eyes are always on the verge of tears. She perfectly emulates the apathy, anxiety and sadness her illness inflicts – and it is equal parts mesmerizing and excruciating watching her have to face her family, co-workers and herself through it all; something that I know from experience is very hard to do.

The ending is incredibly beautiful and down right perfect in my eyes. After such a long journey that ran the gauntlet of emotions and themes, it all circles back and ends looking inwards – as it should. This isn’t just one woman’s struggle to save her job, but also one to save herself – an attempt to rediscover the person her depression has refused to allow her to be. It is hopeful in ways those who have not suffered from depression might not quite understand. It ultimately didn’t matter what the result of the vote was, the fact that she was able to keep fighting – that she was able to find moments of pure happiness amongst it all – was what touched me most. More importantly, the fact that she spends the whole film questioning her worth – whether she even deserves to exist – and was able to make the final decision her own meant so much to me. Depression doesn’t just go away and Sandra may never truly get “better”…but that she was able to walk away with a smile – instead of fighting back tears – was a glimmer of hope that she (we all) will, even if just a little bit.

Looking at the few films from 2014 I still want to see, I think I can safely say this is my favorite from last year. Why? Aside from everything I mentioned above, this is perhaps the only film in which after it settled in I didn’t sit there wondering where on my top ten list it would appear – I just knew. That is how much it meant to me.

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Twitter.

Here Are The Oscar Nominations!


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The Oscar nominations were announced this morning and, judging from the overdramatic reactions on twitter, some people are apparently taking all of this way too seriously.  Listen, I wish The LEGO Movie had been nominated.  I wish Jake Gyllenhaal had been nominated.  I haven’t seen Selma yet but it does seem strange that it was only nominated for one other Oscar.  And, for that matter, how did Foxcatcher get nominated for director, screenplay, actor, and supporting actor without getting a nomination for best picture.

And yes, I do wish that more women had been nominated but, then again, I also wish that more women were being given the opportunity to write and direct films.  If the Oscars are male-dominated, that’s because so is the industry.

AND WHERE’S GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY!?

AND WHAT ABOUT JODOROWSKY’S DUNE!?

*ahem*

But, honestly, I think people are overestimating the importance of the Oscars.  Great films will survive, regardless of awards won and lost.  Believe me, there were a lot of nominations that I did not agree with but I’m not going to have a Sasha Stone-style freak out over it because, ultimately, the Oscars are what they are and if you think they’re anything more than an event, you really need to calm down and get some perspective.

I’m just happy that it was a good morning for Texas filmmaking.  Richard Linklater and Wes Anderson were both nominated for best director.  Boyhood, a Texas film if there ever was on, is the front runner for best picture.  Texas actor Ethan Hawke was nominated for best supporting actor.  Bradley Cooper may not be a Texan but he played one and, judging from the trailer and commercials for American Sniper, he actually got the accent right.

So, I’m happy!

(And, by the way, let’s give this talk about how Laura Dern stole Jessica Chastain’s nomination a rest.  If anything, Meryl Streep stole Chastain’s spot.)

Here are the nominees!

BEST PICTURE
“American Sniper”
“Birdman”
“Boyhood”
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“The Imitation Game”
“Selma”
“The Theory of Everything”
“Whiplash”

BEST DIRECTOR
Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, “Birdman”
Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”
Bennett Miller, “Foxcatcher”
Morten Tyldum, “The Imitation Game”

BEST ACTOR
Steve Carell, “Foxcatcher”
Bradley Cooper, “American Sniper”
Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Imitation Game”
Michael Keaton, “Birdman”
Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”

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

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Robert Duvall, “The Judge”
Ethan Hawke, “Boyhood”
Edward Norton, “Birdman”
Mark Ruffalo, “Foxcatcher”
J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”
Laura Dern, “Wild”
Keira Knightley, “The Imitation Game”
Emma Stone, “Birdman”
Meryl Streep, “Into the Woods”

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
“Birdman”
“Boyhood”
“Foxcatcher”
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“Nightcrawler”

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
“American Sniper”
“The Imitation Game”
“Inherent Vice”
“The Theory of Everything”
“Whiplash”

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
“Birdman”
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“Ida”
“Mr. Turner”
“Unbroken”

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“Inherent Vice”
“Into the Woods”
“Maleficent”
“Mr. Turner”

BEST EDITING
“American Sniper”
“Boyhood”
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“The Imitation Game”
“Whiplash”

BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING
“Foxcatcher”
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“Guardians of the Galaxy”

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“The Imitation Game”
“Interstellar”
“Into the Woods”
“Mr. Turner”

BEST SCORE
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“The Imitation Game”
“Interstellar”
“Mr. Turner”
“The Theory of Everything”

BEST SONG
“Everything Is Awesome from “The Lego Movie”
“Glory” from “Selma”
“Grateful” from “Beyond the Lights”
“I’m Not Going to Miss You” from “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me”
“Lost Stars” from “Begin Again”

BEST SOUND EDITING
“American Sniper”
“Birdman”
“The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”
“Interstellar”
“Unbroken”

BEST SOUND MIXING
“American Sniper”
“Birdman”
“Interstellar”
“Unbroken”
“Whiplash”

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier”
“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”
“Guardians of the Galaxy”
“Interstellar”
“X-Men: Days of Future Past”

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
“Big Hero 6”
“The Boxtrolls”
“How to Train Your Dragon 2”
“Song of the Sea”
“The Tale of the Princess Kaguya”

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
“Citizenfour”
“Finding Vivian Maier”
“Last Days in Vietnam”
“The Salt of the Earth”
“Virunga”

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
“Ida”
“Leviathan”
“Tangerines”
“Timbuktu”
“Wild Tales”

BEST ANIMATED SHORT
“The Bigger Picture”
“The Dam Keeper”
“Feast”
“Me and My Moulton”
“A Single Life”

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT
“Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1”
“Joanna”
“Our Curse”
“The Reaper”
“White Earth”

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT
“Aya”
“Boogaloo and Graham”
“Butter Lamp”
“Parvaneh”
“The Phone Call”

The Denver Film Critics Society Announce Their Picks For The Best of 2014!


American Sniper

American Sniper

The Denver Film Critics Society announced their picks for the best of the year and guess what?  They picked the suddenly surging American Sniper, which just goes to show how unpredictable this year could potentially be.

Best Picture: “American Sniper”

Best Director: Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”

Best Actor: (tie) Ralph Fiennes, “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” Bradley Cooper, “American Sniper”

Best Actress: Rosamund Pike, “Gone Girl”

Best Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash

Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”

Best Animated Film: “The Lego Movie”

Best Science Fiction/Horror Film: “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”

Best Comedy: “Guardians of the Galaxy”

Best Original Screenplay: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo, “Birdman”

Best Adapted Screenplay: Paul Thomas Anderson, “Inherent Vice”

Best Documentary: “The Overnighters”

Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki, “Birdman”

Best Original Song: “Everything Is Awesome,” Tegan and Sara, “The Lego Movie”

Best Score: Antonio Sanchez, “Birdman”

Best Foreign Language Film: “Two Days, One Night”

 

Here Are the Gay and Lesbian Critic Association Nominees!


Here are the nominees for the GALECA Dorian Awards!

Film of the Year
Birdman – Fox Searchlight
Boyhood – Sundance Selects/IFC
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Fox Searchlight
The Imitation Game – The Weinstein Company
Pride – CBS Films

Film Performance of the Year – Actor
Steve Carell, Foxcatcher – Sony Pictures Classics
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game – The Weinstein Company
Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler – Open Road
Michael Keaton, Birdman – Fox Searchlight
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything – Universal

Film Performance of the Year – Actress
Essie Davis, The Babadook – Sundance Selects/IFC
Anne Dorval, Mommy – Roadside Attractions
Julianne Moore, Still Alice – Sony Pictures Classics
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl – 20th Century Fox
Reese Witherspoon, Wild – Fox Searchlight

Film Director of the Year
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel – Fox Searchlight
Ava DuVernay, Selma – Paramount
David Fincher, Gone Girl – 20th Century Fox
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Birdman – Fox Searchight
Richard Linklater, Boyhood – Sundance Selects/IFC

LGBTQ Film of the Year
The Imitation Game – The Weinstein Company
Love is Strange – Sony Pictures Classics
Pride – CBS Films
Stranger by the Lake – Strand Releasing
The Way He Looks – Strand Releasing

Foreign Language Film of the Year
Force Majeure – Magnolia Pictures
Ida – Music Box Films
Mommy – Roadside Attractions
Stranger by the Lake – Strand Releasing
Two Days, One Night – Sundance Selects/IFC

Unsung Film of the Year
Obvious Child – A24
Love is Strange – Sony Pictures Classics
Pride – CBS Films
The Skeleton Twins – Roadside Attractions
Snowpiercer – Radius/TWC

Documentary of the Year
(theatrical release, TV airing or DVD release)
The Case Against 8 – HBO
CitizenFour – Radius/TWC
Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me – Sundance Selects
Life Itself – Magnolia Pictures
Regarding Susan Sontag – HBO

Visually Striking Film of the Year
(honoring a production of stunning beauty, from art direction to cinematography)
Birdman – Fox Searchlight
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Fox Searchlight
Interstellar – Paramount
Snowpiercer – Radius/TWC
Under the Skin – A24

Campy Flick of the Year
Annie
Gone Girl
Into the Woods
Maleficent
Tammy

Award Season Continues! Here Are The Winners From Georgia!


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Yes, awards season is still going on and critics and guilds from across the country and the industry are still announcing their picks for the best of 2014!

The latest group to make their picks known?  The Georgia Film Critics Association!  Here are their nominees for the best of 2014!

Best Picture
BIRDMAN
BOYHOOD
GONE GIRL
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
IDA
A MOST VIOLENT YEAR
NIGHTCRAWLER
SELMA
SNOWPIERCER
WHIPLASH

Best Director
Richard Linklater BOYHOOD
David Fincher GONE GIRL
Wes Anderson THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
Ava DuVernay SELMA
Damien Chazelle WHIPLASH

Best Actor
Ralph Fiennes THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
Jake Gyllenhaal NIGHTCRAWLER
Michael Keaton BIRDMAN
David Oyelowo SELMA
Eddie Redmayne THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING.

Best Actress
Marion Cotillard TWO DAYS ONE NIGHT
Scarlett Johansson UNDER THE SKIN
Felicity Jones THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING
Lisa Loven Kongsli FORCE MAJEURE
Julianne Moore STILL ALICE
Rosamund Pike GONE GIRL

Best Supporting Actor
Riz Ahmed NIGHTCRAWLER
Ethan Hawke BOYHOOD
Edward Norton BIRDMAN
Mark Ruffalo FOXCATCHER
JK Simmons WHIPLASH

Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette BOYHOOD
Jessica Chastain A MOST VIOLENT YEAR
Rene Russo NIGHTCRAWLER
Emma Stone BIRDMAN
Tilda Swinton SNOWPIERCER

Best Original Screenplay
BOYHOOD
CALVARY
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
NIGHTCRAWLER
SELMA

Best Adapted Screenplay
GONE GIRL
THE IMITATION GAME
INHERENT VICE
SNOWPIERCER
THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING
WILD

Best Cinematography
BIRDMAN
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
IDA
INHERENT VICE
INTERSTELLAR

Best Production Design
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
INHERENT VICE
INTERSTELLAR
INTO THE WOODS
SNOWPIERCER
UNDER THE SKIN

Best Original Score
BIRDMAN (Antonio Sánchez)
GONE GIRL (Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross)
INTERSTELLAR (Hans Zimmer)
LIFE ITSELF (Joshua Abrams)
UNDER THE SKIN (Mica Levi)

Best Original Song
“Everything is Awesome” from THE LEGO MOVIE
“Glory” from SELMA
“We Will Not Go” from VIRUNGA
“I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from GLEN CAMPBELL: I’LL BE ME
“Something So Right” from MUPPETS MOST WANTED

Best Ensemble Cast
BIRDMAN
BOYHOOD
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
GONE GIRL
SELMA

Best Foreign Language Film
FORCE MAJEURE
IDA
SEPIDEH
TWO DAYS ONE NIGHT
WE ARE THE BEST!

Best Animated Feature Film
BIG HERO 6
THE BOOK OF LIFE
THE BOXTROLLS
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2
THE LEGO MOVIE

Best Documentary Feature Film
CITIZENFOUR
FINDING VIVIAN MAIER
KEEP ON KEEPIN’ ON
LIFE ITSELF
SEPIDEH

Breakthough of the Year
Ellan Coltrane
Ava DuVernay
Gugu Mbatha-Raw
Jenny Slate
Tessa Thompson

Selma

 

The National Society Of Film Critics Honors Goodbye to Language!


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Earlier today, the National Society of Film Critics announced their picks for the best films of 2014!  By one vote, they named Jean-Luc Godard’s Goodbye To Language as best picture of the year.

Thank you, National Society of Film Critics, for reminding us that, occasionally, unexpected things do happen!

Check out the winners and the runner-ups below!

BEST PICTURE
*1. Goodbye to Language 25 (Jean-Luc Godard)
2. Boyhood 24 (Richard Linklater)
3. Birdman 10 (Alejandro G. Iñárritu)
3. Mr. Turner 10 (Mike Leigh)
BEST DIRECTOR
*1. Richard Linklater 36 (Boyhood)
2. Jean-Luc Godard 17  (Goodbye to Language)
3. Mike Leigh 12 (Mr. Turner)
BEST NON-FICTION FILM
*1. Citizenfour 56 (Laura Poitras)
2. National Gallery 19 (Frederick Wiseman)
3. The Overnighters 17 (Jesse Moss)
BEST SCREENPLAY
*1. The Grand Budapest Hotel 24 (Wes Anderson)
2. Inherent Vice 15 (Paul Thomas Anderson)
2. Birdman 15 (four co-writers)
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
*1. Mr. Turner 33 (Dick Pope)
2. The Immigrant 27 (Darius Khondji)
3. Goodbye to Language 9 (Fabrice Aragno)
BEST ACTOR
*1.Timothy Spall 31 (Mr. Turner)
2. Tom Hardy 10 (Locke)
3. Joaquin Phoenix 9  (Inherent Vice)
3. Ralph Fiennes 9 (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
BEST ACTRESS
*1. Marion Cotillard  80 (Two Days, One Night)
2.  Julianne Moore 35 (Still Alice)
3. Scarlett Johansson 21 (Lucy; Under the Skin)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
*1. J.K. Simmons 24  (Whiplash)
2. Mark Ruffalo 21 (Foxcatcher)
3. Edward Norton 16 (Birdman)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
*1. Patricia Arquette 26 (Boyhood)
2. Agata Kulesza 18 (Ida)
3. Rene Russo 9 (Nightcrawler)

Here Are The 9 Finalists For The Best Foreign Language Film Oscar!


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Here’s one final bit of late Oscar news.  83 countries submitted films to be considered for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.  Earlier last week, the Academy announced the 9 semi-finalists!

To the shock of many, Two Days One Night was not a semi-finalist!  That’s surprising, considering that Marion Cotillard’s performance has been receiving a lot of Oscar season attention.  If anything, the snubbing of Two Days One Night would indicate that Jennifer Aniston probably had a better chance of being the fifth Best Actress nominee than Cotillard.

The Canadian film Mommy was also not on the list of semi-finalists, which surprised many.  However, this does mean that Sasha Stone will now have something else to complain about over on Awards Daily.

And finally, the Palme d’Or winner Winter’s Sleep did not make the top 9 either.

What did make the top 9?

Check them out below!

Argentina, “Wild Tales,” Damián Szifrón, director;

Estonia, “Tangerines,” Zaza Urushadze, director;

Georgia, “Corn Island,” George Ovashvili, director;

Mauritania, “Timbuktu,” Abderrahmane Sissako, director;

Netherlands, “Accused,” Paula van der Oest, director;

Poland, “Ida,” Paweł Pawlikowski, director;

Russia, “Leviathan,” Andrey Zvyagintsev, director;

Sweden, “Force Majeure,” Ruben Östlund, director;

Venezuela, “The Liberator,” Alberto Arvelo, director.