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Binky International Film Festival: Day Four

Hello and welcome to Day Four of the first ever “Binky International Film Festival”! In the last three days, we have revisited quite a few 2011 movies from three different genres: “Big Budget Awesomeness”, “Sundance Darlings” and “Chick Flicks”. And now in Day Four, we are going to take a look at the movies that are doing well and reaping nominations this award season. As I have mentioned in the Introduction post, I don’t live in the United States so there are a few critically acclaimed and award nominated movies that I haven’t gotten a chance to see, so obviously this list is incomplete. But even so, we have quite a few movies to get through today, so let’s get straight to it!

Note: Even though I have seen We Need To Talk About Kevin and Tilda Swinton is nominated both for SAG and Golden Globes for that movie, I’ve decided not to put the movie in this category and instead it’ll be in the “Depression-Inducing” category on Day 6.

“Award Worthy”

The Help

Opening Weekend: August 10, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 146 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Tate Taylor
Stars: Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jessica Chastain, etc
Nominations: Black Reel Awards, Critics Choice Awards, People’s Choice Awards, Satellite Awards, Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards, Golden Globes Awards, etc

I read the book before I watched the movie, so I was a little worried that they were going to ruin my love for the book when I decided to give this movie a watch, and I’m glad to report that this adaptation pretty much stick close to the book, sure they made little changes here and there but they weren’t too detrimental to the plot, and they didn’t bother me too much. And Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer and Bryce Dallas Howard truly rocked my world in this movie, so much so that I didn’t even pay that much attention to Emma Stone’s performance. Those three women plus Jessica Chastain gave such incredible performances that you want to cry, laugh and set that bitch Hilly (played perfectly by Howard) on fire for some of the things she said. The only actor I had a problem with is Chris Lowell, who I feel is a little miscast here, but then again he only appeared a total of 10 minutes in the movie so it didn’t bother me that much.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

50/50

Opening Weekend: September 30, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 100 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Jonathan Levine & Will Reiser
Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Gordon, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard, etc
Nominations: Independent Spirit Awards, Golden Globes Awards, Hollywood Film Festival, National Board of Reviews, etc

Cancer is no laughing matter. But in the case of this brilliantly-written and wonderfully-acted movie, cancer doesn’t have to be all sad and depressing. Sometimes you can always find comedy in the shittiest situation, even if that shitty situation is cancer. Screenwriter Will Reiser wrote this movie as a fictionalized account of his own battle with cancer, and the result is a poignant movie both sad and funny, that will tug on your heartstrings, and make you chuckle through your tears, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is heartbreaking as Adam, the quiet, ordinary guy whose life is suddenly turned upside down, but surprisingly enough, it’s Seth Rogen’s turn as the insensitive best friend that steals the scenes, a role that he had to play in real life as Reiser’s best friend. If you know someone who has cancer, or even if you’re just a regular human being and nothing bad ever happens to you, I would recommend you check out this movie to celebrate life. Yes, it can be shitty. But it’s worth being thankful for.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

The Ides of March

Opening Weekend: October 7, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 110 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): George Clooney & Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon
Stars: George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Evan Rachel Wood, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, etc
Nominations: Critics Choice Awards, Golden Globes Awards, Venice Film Festival, etc

This is the only movie in this list that I watched expecting to be disappointed, mostly because people have told me how much they hated it and how it wasn’t worth my  time. And these are people whose judgment I trust, so I set the bar really low going in, knowing that I might end up thinking the movie sucked. Surprisingly enough, I didn’t hate it. In fact, I quite enjoy the movie, I thought Ryan Gosling once again did a superb job here, and I wasn’t bored the whole time. There are a few reasons why I seem to like this movie, that got panned by critics as well, as much as the Hollywood Foreign Press Associations members did even though the rest of the world hated it: 1. Just like the financial market, my knowledge of politics is something to laugh about. I just don’t care enough to even read the newspaper about anything political. 2. My love and devotion for both George Clooney and Ryan Gosling made me bias, and I couldn’t see the movie for what it was because I was blinded by their combined sexiness. In conclusion, if you’re not into politics and you  love both Clooney and Gosling, I think you need to give this movie a try. Who knows, maybe you’ll enjoy it immensely like I did (and not afraid to admit it).

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Warrior

 Opening Weekend: September 9, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 140 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Gavin O’Connor & Athony Tambakis, Cliff Dorfman. Story by Gavin O’Connor & Cliff Dorfman
Stars: Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, Nick Nolte, Jennifer Morrison
Nominations: Satellite Awards, San Diego Film Critics Society Awards SAG Awards, etc

When I first heard about this movie, I knew I wanted to see it just so I could see Tom Hardy kicking ass. After Inception, you’d be hard press to find a woman on earth who’s not at least a little bit infatuated with this British actor. But when I finally saw the movie, it wasn’t Tom Hardy being a bad-ass that reeled me in. It was Tom Hardy as a broken man, looking for redemption, it was Nick Nolte as his alcoholic, abusive father looking for atonement, it was Joel Edgerton as a beloved teacher and family man just looking for a way to provide for his family – it was a family, all broken apart and coming together in the least likely of events: the mixed martial arts “Sparta” championship. Despite the blood and the fights, you will cry so hard you’ll almost wail (like I did) watching this movie, because it is never about the fights, it’s about love – complicated but redeeming love, the kind that we all crave in this life. And if I could only recommend one movie out of all that I watched in 2011, it’d be this one. Don’t go through life without watching this movie. Trust me.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Moneyball

 Opening Weekend: September 23, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 133 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Bennett Miller & Steve Zailian, Aaron Sorkin. Story by Stan Chervin & Michael Lewis
Stars: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Chris Pratt, etc
Nominations: New York Film Critics Circle Awards, People’s Choice Awards, Satellite Awards, SAG Awards, Golden Globes Awards

Also in the list of things I am clueless and can’t give a shit about, aside from the financial market and politics: sports. I don’t do sports, I don’t watch sports, I have never even been attracted to any athlete, no matter how incredibly beautiful they are. David Beckham? Meh. Tom Brady? Yeah, not my type. Derek Jeter? You’ve got to be kidding me, right? However, one of my favorite TV shows of all time is Friday Night Lights, a show centered on football, so I figured after 5 seasons of Friday Night Lights (and actually learning a thing or two about the game), I can watch Moneyball and not be confused by the baseball of it all. And I’m not wrong, but I’m not right either. The premise of the movie doesn’t confuse me, and I think both Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill were good in the movie (though I don’t find Pitt’s performance all that amazing, to be honest. If I had to pick between nominating him or Tom Hardy for Best Actor, I’d go with Hardy), but I don’t find the movie as the most inspiring movie of all time like some reviews said. It’s just a baseball movie. Some guy reinvented the game.. and? At least Warrior at the heart is about love and redemption. Moneyball is just about… some guy who reinvented the game. It’s not a bad movie but it’s not exactly that inspiring either. But, what do I know? I don’t even like baseball.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Bridesmaids

Opening Weekend: May 13, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 125 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Paul Feig & Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo
Stars: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, etc
Nominations: Critics Choice Awards, People’s Choice Awards, SAG Awards, Golden Globes Awards, etc

Those who say that women aren’t funny are just pissed off when women refuse to laugh at their stupid jokes. Because if this movie doesn’t prove to you that a group of women can make you ROTFLMAO – then you’re just bitter and cruel. Bridesmaids, while technically a romantic comedy, is so much more than just a bunch of women obsessing about weddings. It’s about friendship – and the insane (or as Maya Rudolph would say, “Insahn”) things we do in the name of friendship, which sometimes includes getting food poisoning and crapping all over a wedding dress. Bridesmaids is a female comedy that guys can watch and enjoy and these fabulous funny ladies prove that hey, women are funny and we can be funny without having to rag on the men in our lives. Hear that, Adam Sandler?

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Beginners

Opening Weekend: June 3, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 105 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Mike Mills
Stars: Ewan McGregor, Melanie Laurent, Christopher Plummer
Nominations: Independent Spirits Awards, Satellite Awards, National Board of Review, Hollywood Film Festival, SAG Awards

I didn’t discover this little gem of a movie until earlier this month when it started getting nominated left and right, and also winning a few accolades here and there. But I’m glad I finally did, late though I am, because I would’ve regretted missing this movie. A story about a man coping with the death of his father, who had come out of the closet in his old age and discovered a new leash on life only to have it taken away by cancer a few years later, Beginners may as well be called ‘The History of Sadness and What One Does To Overcome It”. It’s sad, yes, but it’s also hopeful – and Christopher Plummer was truly magnificent here. If you too, like me, have only heard of this movie lately, I suggest you look for the DVD or look out for it on Netflix. It’s definitely worth the watch.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Midnight In Paris

Opening Weekend: June 10, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 94 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Woody Allen
Stars: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Kathy Bates etc
Nominations: independent Spirit Awards, Satellite Awards, SAG Awards, Golden Globes Awards, etc

Since I’m a huge Woody Allen fan, it’s a little hard to praise this movie without sounding bias, but I can tell you, even if you’re not a fan of his work – you have to check out this movie. It’s the best Woody Allen movie since Annie Hall, and I think it’s also Allen’s most successful movie to date. Set in Paris and introduces a new plot element that Allen hasn’t used before (time travel), Midnight In Paris is like taking a vacation with our favorite people on earth, provided those people are Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Pablo Picasso and even Salvador Dali. It’s funny and delightful, it’s hopeful but still neurotic, it’s truly the best of Allen’s European series. And Owen Wilson channeling Woody Allen is really something to watch. I hope this movie wins every award it’s nominated because it truly deserves it.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Carnage

Opening Weekend: December 16, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 79 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Roman Polanski & Yasmine Reza,
Stars: Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, John C. Reilly, Christoph Waltz
Nominations: Boston Society of Film Critics Awards, Satellite Awards, Venice Film Festival, Golden Globes Awards, etc

Thanks to my flu, I actually get the chance to see this movie, because I’m forced to just lie in bed and not do anything but watch movies after movies after movies. And I’m glad I did because this movie is fantastic. First of all, I never thought Roman Polanski can do comedy. I mean, he was the director of Rosemary’s Baby and he made Oliver Twist kinda dark… I didn’t expect him to direct something that is just straight up hilarious. But he did. And obviously the actors are all wonderful too – Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, John C Reilly and my favorite Christoph Waltz – without them, this movie wouldn’t have worked so beautifully. No matter what you feel about Polanski as a person, you should not miss this film. It’s definitely one of his better works.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

And there you have it, Day Four of Binky International Film Festival. Sorry for the delay in posting this, but my flu really got the better of me last night. 🙂 To make up for this, I will still post Day Five and Day 6 on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day so I’ll be able to get everything done before New Years Eve. Thanks for tuning in so far and I’ll see you tomorrow for Day Five: “Across The Pond”. Till then!

Binky Bee

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