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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

SAG Awards Nominations: The Actors Have Spoken

The Screen Actors Guild nominations were just announced on Wednesday morning and I feel like it’s my duty as a pop culture junkie to weigh in on the list, because it’s almost the holidays and I’m getting bored. So humor me, will ya? 🙂 This is also the first year that I’ve actually weighed in on the Screen Actors Guild nominations, so instead of my usual award nominations blog template of “Who I Think Will Win” and “Who I Want To Win”, I’m not going to attempt to predict the winners this time around and just pick my favorites out of the lot. Who knows? Maybe this time I’ll get lucky.

Alright, without any delay, let’s get straight to the nominations!

MOTION PICTURE

Best ensemble cast

The Artist
Bridesmaids
The Descendants
The Help
Midnight in Paris

My Favorite: Kind of a toss-up between Bridesmaids and Midnight In Paris, simply because both have such amazing ensemble cast. But ultimately I pick Midnight In Paris because duh, Hemingway and Dali. However, please note I haven’t seen The Descendants yet and might change my mind after I finally see it.

Biggest Snub: Drive. Sure, some people think it’s overrated. Some even try to sue the producers. But let’s face it, it’s the movie that got everyone talking and it deserves some love.

Best actor

Demián Bichir, A Better Life
George Clooney, The Descendants
Leonardo DiCaprio, J. Edgar
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Brad Pitt, Moneyball

My Favorite: George Clooney, even though I haven’t seen The Descendants yet. He’s Clooney! Of course I’m gonna pick him. And if the SAG voters think the way I do, he’ll probably actually win this.

Biggest Snub: Ryan Gosling. As most women on this planet, I am madly in love with him. It’s bad enough Bradley Cooper beat him as Sexiest Man Alive! Also, Michael Fassbender. I haven’t seen Shame, but critics were blown away by his raw, intense performance and I tend to believe them.

Best actress

Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis, The Help
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin
Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn

My Favorite: This is also a toss-up between Viola Davis and Tilda Swinton. Seriously, I can’t choose! Okay since Swinton has won an Oscar before and everything, I think I’ll go with Davis.

Biggest Snub: I thought Ellen Barkin was all kinds of fantastic in Another Happy Day, and everyone raved about Carey Mulligan’s performance in Shame (which I haven’t seen). Would have liked to see either of these amazing ladies nominated. Also, I have just seen Martha Marcy May Marlene and Elizabeth Olsen definitely deserves a nomination too. Finally, an Olsen sister who can act!

Best supporting actor

Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn
Armie Hammer, J. Edgar
Jonah Hill, Moneyball
Nick Nolte, Warrior
Christopher Plummer, Beginners

My Favorite: Nick Nolte was surprisingly amazing on Warrior, probably the most underrated movie of 2011. But then again Armie Hammer is… Armie Hammer. No. Must stay strong. Nick Nolte it is!

Biggest Snub: Hmm. Would have liked to see Ezra Miller up there for his chilling performance in We Need To Talk About Kevin, but I suppose he just didn’t get enough screen time in that movie. But, I think the true crime is passing on Seth Rogen who was all shades of amazeballs on 50/50. Sure he still plays a version of himself, but this is the best version of him I’ve seen in years!

Best supporting actress

Berenice Bejo, The Artist
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer, The Help

My Favorite: Even though both Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer gave amazing performances in The Help, I gotta give this one to Melissa McCarthy, simply because she made me laugh so hard I nearly peed a few times during Bridesmaids. True story.

Biggest Snub: Bryce Dallas Howard. Her portrayal of Hilly Holbrook in The Help was just so dead on. I read the book before I watched the movie, and she was just pitch perfect. I wanted to set her on fire, she was such a nightmare in that movie! Considering that she seems to be a lovely person in real life, that is some great acting right there!

TELEVISION

Best ensemble cast in a comedy

30 Rock
The Big Bang Theory
Glee
Modern Family
The Office

My Favorite: Okay, let’s talk about how BORING this list is. Like NY Mag’s Vulture noted in their SAG Nominations post, it looks like a list from two years ago. The Office hasn’t had a particularly strong season post-Carell and I’m not even sure what The Big Bang Theory is doing there. I would’ve loved to see some of the newer, better comedies get the nod; like the very excellent Happy Endings, or, if it’s just a tad too kooky, how ’bout the always heartwarming Parks and Recreation? And Glee doesn’t even deserve to be nominated. I’m sorry. This year that show has been on a fast decline, culminating in last Tuesday’s insufferable Christmas episode. I’d be happier if it were New Girl that got the nod. So my favorite? Uhm… I guess that just leaves Modern Family?

Biggest Snub: Parks and Recreation, without question. Season 3 was perfection and 4 has been amazing so far, and they chose Glee? Seriously??

Best ensemble cast in a drama

Boardwalk Empire
Breaking Bad
Dexter
Game of Thrones
The Good Wife

My Favorite: Breaking Bad, without question. I don’t watch The Good Wife and Game of Thrones. Boardwalk Empire’s second season isn’t half as good as anyone thinks it is (think about it!) and Dexter is a goner.

Biggest Snub: Homeland. I mean, hands down, best new drama. It’s so good that even President Obama is a fan. Is it because it only just premiered last October? I don’t get it. Also, Sons of Anarchy has had a hell of a season, who does Kurt Sutter have to blow to get a nomination around here, like seriously?

Best actress in a comedy

Julie Bowen, Modern Family
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Sofia Vergara, Modern Family
Betty White, Hot in Cleveland

My Favorite: Sofia Vergara, still. But if the Emmys were any indication, Julie Bowen would end up the big winner.

Biggest Snub: Where is Amy Poehler? Martha Plimpton? I mean, come on now!

Best actor in a comedy

Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Steve Carell, The Office
Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men
Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family

My Favorite: Ty Burrell, but wouldn’t it be cool if Steve Carell wins it for The Office? Maybe he’ll decide to return and we can get rid of awful Robert California forever!

Biggest Snub: I was surprised that Jim Parsons wasn’t nominated, especially after winning back-to-back Emmys.

Best actress in a drama

Kathy Bates, Harry’s Law
Glenn Close, Damages
Jessica Lange, American Horror Story
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer

My Favorite: Jessica Lange, obviously. Crazy Constance is the best thing about American Horror Story, I think.

Biggest Snub: Claire Danes. I mean, after last Sunday’s episode she should’ve had this in the bag. I really don’t get the Homeland snub, I thought actors love this show! Oh and Connie Britton. If you nominate her TV husband (sorry, Dylan McDermott, but she’ll always be Mrs Coach to me), you better nominate her too!

Best actor in a drama

Patrick J. Adams, Suits
Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
Kyle Chandler, Friday Night Lights
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Michael C. Hall, Dexter

My Favorite: First, I just wanna talk about how cool it is that Patrick J. Adams got nominated for Suits. I mean, USA Network shows are usually ignored come awards season, no matter how good the acting or the material can be. It’s almost like the CW in a way. Sure there are exceptions. Sharon Gless got an Emmy nomination for Burn Notice once, and Piper Perabo last year got a nomination for Covert Affairs at the Golden Globes (though the latter felt so random and weird because she wasn’t even that impressive!), but both actresses are pretty established, Gless was in Cagney & Lacey and Perabo was in Coyote Ugly. Adams on the other hand, despite having an extensive resume, hasn’t quite hit the big time yet. He mostly starred in little-seen indie flicks and Suits was his first successful TV show. So for the SAG voters to take notice of this relative unknown who starred in a USA Network show and gave him a nomination is a big deal. Especially since he gets to see his name alongside giants like Brian Cranston, Steve Buscemi and Michael C. Hall. I’ve liked this guy since I saw him in the sweet indie Weather Girl, so I’m really happy for his nomination. My favorite to win remains Kyle Chandler, because it’d just be bittersweet now that Friday Night Lights has ended, the show FINALLY gets the recognition and love it deserves, but a part of me wants Patrick J. Adams to win, not only because it’s a long shot, but because he truly is talented and needs more exposure.

Biggest Snub: Would have loved to see Damian Lewis in the list, his performance in Homeland is just sublime. Seriously, why is this show snubbed? I mean, it premiered earlier than American Horror Story and Jessica Lange got nominated!

And there you go. My take on the Screen Actors Guild nominations. Who do you think will be the big winner? Who are your favorites to win? I guess we’ll see come January whether the SAG voters agree with us. Until then, stay tuned – my Golden Globes Nominations post will be ready soon (tomorrow)!

Xoxo

Binky Bee