"Dreams feel real while we're in them. It's only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange." -Inception

Thursday, November 28, 2013

What I'm Thankful For: Movies Edition

1) Gravity: Every year we read dozens of pieces about the decline of cinema and how originality is lost and then a movie like Gravity comes along and shuts everybody up. Splendidly! A story of a veteran and rookie astronaut in space became the ultimate tale of survival in completely foreign and hostile environment.  Oh, and here's where it gets better, the films stars two of Hollywood's best, George Clooney and Sandra Bullock but the movie really belongs to Bullock and Clooney's just the supporting player. Say what? Did I also mention that the film's a neat 90 minutes and features some of the best CGI and 3D work seen in film so far? Gravity, directed by Alfonso Cuaron and written along with his son Jonas, was the definitive film experience for me this year. And even though the wait was long, I'm thankful the end result was completely worth it. 

2) Minions:  If the Dementors from the Harry Potter universe suck all the happiness out of the universe and eventually your soul, think of the Minions as their zany, fun-loving yet inappropriate equivalent.  The scene-stealers from the first Despicable Me are having their moment in the spotlight.  They came back strong in the sequel and will star in their own feature in 2015.  It's a good time to be a Minion, I think.  They bring the smile to your face, at least they do to mine. I would be even more thankful if I had one of them to have around the house.

3) Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them: Speaking of Harry Potter, that J.K. Rowling sure knows how sneak one up on her fans. Fast on the heels of the surprising revelation that she wrote the underrated The Cuckoo's Calling under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, she also broke the news that she's writing the script for the new film based on Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them in collaboration with Warner Bros., who are pursuing more films in the Potter universe of magic and wizardry. It was extremely difficult to say goodbye to the books and films so to have this unexpected, bonus surprise, is indeed thankful.

4) The Heat: No movie has made me laugh as much this year than the surprise (to everyone who isn't female) hit of the summer, the Paul Feig directed The Heat, a female buddy cop comedy starring Sandra Bullock (who's really having a stellar year) and Melissa McCarthy. The $159 million plus blockbuster proved that in summer filled with superheroes and zombie flicks, there is room for a well-enacted and, most importantly funny, comedy featuring women to perform well.  It also helps when your lead actresses are as talented as Bullock and McCarthy.  Not only did I have tears of laughter running down my face, my stomach hurt from laughing too much.  These days when the laughs are far and few in life and in movies, I'm thankful for comedies that can deliver.

5) Gone Girl Film Adaptation: No sooner I did finish Gone Girl, the novel, I thought to myself, "This is needs to be a film." Actress Reese Witherspoon bought the rights and I had my fingers crossed as David Fincher as a dream director for this project. And what do you know? Sometimes the universe does listen to you.  The film adaptation of Gone Girl hits theaters next fall and will be highly anticipated as Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Tyler Perry and Neil Patrick Harris join Fincher in bringing the book to the big screen.  I'd like to believe to myself that I wished this one into existence.

Those were some of my thankful moments with film this year.  What were yours?   

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

2014 Film Independent Spirit Awards Nominees Announced!

We're so close to December already.  You know what that means! It's start of awards season with all the critics, guilds et al. announcing their best of the year. To kick of the indies, the 2014 Film Independent Spirit Awards announced their nominees today and 12 Years A Slave, Nebraska and All is Lost have already made an impressive showing here. Patton Oswalt will host the awards being held on March 1, 2014, as usual a day before the prestigious Oscars are announced. It's a long wait. Hold on!

(Source: Film Independent)

Here's a list of the major awards being presented: 

Best Feature
12 Years A Slave
All is Lost
Frances Ha
Inside Llewyn Davis

Best Director
Shane Carruth - Upstream Color
J.C. Candor - All is Lost
Steve McQueen - 12 Years A Slave
Jeff Nichols - Mud
Alexander Payne - Nebraska

Best Male Lead
Bruce Dern - Nebraska
Chiwetel Ejiofor - 12 Years A Slave
Oscar Isaac - Inside Llewyn Davis
Michael B. Jordan - Fruitvale Station
Matthew McConaughey - Dallas Buyers Club
Robert Redford - All is Lost

Best Female Lead
Cate Blanchett - Blue Jasmine
Julie Delpy - Before Midnight
Gaby Hoffman - Crystal Fairy
Brie Larson - Short Term 12
Shailene Woodley - The Spectacular Now

Best Supporting Male
Michael Fassbender - 12 Years A Slave
Will Forte - 12 Years A Slave
James Gandolfini - Enough Said
Jared Leto - Dallas Buyers Club
Keith Sanfield - Short Term 12

Best Supporting Female 
Melonie Diaz - Fruitvale Station
Sally Hawkins - Blue Jasmine
Lupita Nyong'o - 12 Years A Slave
Yolanda Ross - Go For Sisters
June Squibb - Nebraska

Best Screenplay
Woody Allen - Blue Jasmine
Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke & Richard Linklater - Before Midnight
Nicole Holofcener - Enough Said
Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber - The Spectacular Now
John Ridley - 12 Years A Slave

Best First Feature (Award given to the director and producer)
Blue Caprice
Fruitvale Station
Una Noche

Best First Screenplay
Lake Bell - In a World
Joseph Gordon-Levitt - Don Jon
Bob Nelson - Nebraska
Jill Soloway - Afternoon Delight
Michael Starrbury - The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete

John Cassavetes Award - Given to the best feature made under for under $50,000. Award given to the director, writer and producer.
Computer Chess
Crystal Fairy
Museum Hours
Pit Stop
This is Martin Bomer

Best Cinematography
Sean Bobbitt - 12 Years A Slave
Benoit Debie - Spring Breakers
Bruno Delbonnel - Inside Llewyn Davis
Frank G. DeMarco - All is Lost
Matthias Grunsky - Computer Chess

Best Editing
Shane Carruth & David Loweryn - Upstream Color
Jem Cohen & Marc Vives - Museum Hours
Jennifer Lame - Frances Ha
Cindy Lee - Una Noche
Nat Sanders - Short Term 12

Best Documentary
20 Feet from Stardom
After Tiller
Gideon's Army
The Act of Killing
The Square

Best International Film

A Touch of Sin (China)
Blue is the Warmest Color (France)
Gloria (Chile)
The Great Beauty (Italy)
The Hunt (Denmark)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Happy Birthday Mickey Mouse!

(Photo: Disney UK)

85 years ago, on November 18th, 1928, the world was introduced to a cartoon character named Mickey in the short Steamboat Willie. Since then, the little mouse has taken many forms, as evidenced in the photo above. But what has remained constant is our affection and fondness for Mickey. He is still the unofficial symbol for all things Disney and those mouse ears mean many different things to people around the world. No trip to the several Disneyland parks located worldwide is ever complete without meeting a certain mouse in his house. That was always my agenda as well.

One of the few cartoon characters to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (and deservedly so), the iconic mouse has appeared in several shorts, features, TV shows, games, comics and even had a variety show named after him called The Mickey Mouse Club that lasted through several generations. Famous Mouseketeers include Annette Funicello, Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears and Ryan Gosling.

And this November, Mickey Mouse is back in theaters alongside Frozen with his newest and oldest short Get a Horse! beside his friends Minnie Mouse, Horace Horsecollar and Clarabelle Cow. Happy 85th, Mickey! Thanks for being our friend all these years.

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