Best Picture Nominees: Midnight in Paris

Next nominee for Best Picture is Midnight in Paris. Wasn’t sure if I was interested in this movie, but had some free time Friday night and it was for rent on my Apple TV…so I indulged, spent 4.99 and watched it. Good choice!

Question time!

“What is the movie about?” – Gil is an aspiring author vacationing with his fiance, Inez, and her parents in Paris (try saying THAT one three times fast). One night while trying to find his way home, he happens upon an old-timey vehicle that picks him up and whisks him off to the Roaring 20’s. At a party, he meets such iconic 20’s figures like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. He realizes this car is a time machine of sorts, and he begins to live his nightlife in another era, meeting many famous people and discovering his true passion in life.

“What other nominations did this movie earn?” – Woody Allen is up for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. I like the screenplay’s chances…it’s a very original concept, yet still is very interesting…unlike most Oscar Bait movies.

OSCAR BAIT CATEGORIES

  • Pretty person turned ugly – Nope. Everyone is beautiful.
  • Actor pretending to have special needs – Nope.
  • Set during a different time period – Half the time the main character is hob-knobbing with the likes of Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali, so yes, definitely has period costumes (flappers galore!)
  • Based on a true story – As awesome as that would be, I’m gonna say no.
  • High-concept story line that no one really understands, but pretends to so that they will appear intelligent – It’s a little complicated to explain, and you will have to have some level of culture in order to really appreciate the famous people Gil encounters. The good thing about this movie is that they don’t spell out exactly who every single famous person is…I found myself Googling a few of the names!
  • Based on a best-selling novel – Nope…hence the original screenplay nominee 🙂

“Will it win the Best Picture Academy Award?” – Nope. It’s a GOOD movie, but it’s not an OSCAR level movie…While it is stocked with previous Academy Award winners who are in the movie for mere minutes, it just doesn’t have the buzz surrounding it that will push it to the top. Hey, it’s awesome it got nominated though!

“Should I watch this before Oscar night?”You probably don’t need to rush out and rent this one before next Sunday…it’s a good movie, and worth watching, but I don’t think it’s going to make a huge impact at the Oscars.

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Spend Your Money/Save Your Money Movie Review: The Woman in Black

As any good, die-hard Harry Potter fan would be, I was extremely excited about Daniel Radcliffe’s first big non-Harry role. Plus, it was a SCARY movie…oh Harry, you know me so well! So we headed to the cinema, I settled in with my movie snack of choice, popcorn and Buncha Crunch (with a 2:1 popcorn to candy ratio of course) and told myself I could watch Daniel and not think about Harry Potter the entire time.

I was wrong.

Harry Daniel’s character, Arthur is on a train at one point. A train! I kept waiting for the man across from him to introduce himself as the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher…and he was reading a paper! And the pictures didn’t move! What?? What IS this movie? He walks up a staircase adorned with paintings…and the paintings don’t throw witty remarks at him. Geez…

Question time!

“What is the movie about?” – Arthur is a widower and a lawyer with a four-year-old son in London. Money is tight and in order to keep his job, he has to take a job in a small town perusing a recently-deceased lady’s papers and financial information. Upon arrival, the townspeople try to get him to immediately leave and act frightened. Apparently, there is a woman that once someone sees her, children start to die in the town. Arthur doesn’t listen, goes to the house, investigates all the bumps in the night that will have you yelling at the screen and begins to fear for the safety of his son…who is on his way to this very town for a visit. What will happen???

“How scary is it, really??” – Not very scary at all actually. I liked the fact that it employed very traditional scare tactics…darkness, scary toys turning on by themselves, shadows turning into ghosts, etc. There are some good moments where my heart jumped a bit, but overall, it’s the type of movie that you can watch, enjoy, but still go to bed at night without any nightmares. 

“Wait, don’t I know that actor from somewhere?” – The main character has had mild success in a little series called Harry Potter…perhaps you’ve heard of it? Other than that…no one famous.

“Anything I should know going in?” – It’s so hard to think of Daniel Radcliffe as an adult…a widower with a child, no less! Maybe non-Harry fanatics will have an easier time, but I struggled the ENTIRE time…

Overall, the movie was good…not one of my favorite scary movies…not particularly scary at all, but fun to watch. Fun to yell at the main character’s idiotic choices. At one point, a character tells Arthur not to chase shadows…which of course he spends the entire rest of the movie doing. Oh well. Movies.

Spend or Save? Sorry Harry, but guys, save your money. This will be way better at home on your couch where you can immediately pop in your Harry Potter box set once this movie ends. That’s definitely what I am in the mood for after watching Arthur look at old pictures and the pictures stay still…psh. No fun!


Spend Your Money/Save Your Money Movie Review: Chronicle

It’s been over a month since my last movie review…miss me? It’s been a busy month, and the hubs and I were just now able to get to a movie theater…our choice? Chronicle. We had both seen the preview and thought it looked interesting. We both love superhero movies and were both fans of the late show, Heroes. People who get superpowers? Someone turns bad and uses them for evil? Yup, my kind of movie…or was it?

And now for your burning questions…

“What is the movie about?” – A loaner/loser teen named Andrew is dragged to a “rave” by his cousin, Matt. Andrew, of course, has a camera and is filming every step of his life, because that’s totally normal. Because of the camera glued to his hand, the “cool kid” in school, Steve, finds him and asks him to come film this cool “thing” he has found with Matt. The “thing” turns out to be a hole in the ground, which these three boys, of course, immediately leap right into, even as it emits scary, unnatural sounds. There is a huge, alien-like structure down there, so naturally, they walk right up to it and touch it. Lo and behold, the next day, these boys have found themselves with various “powers”… the ability to move things with their mind, and flying being the two main ones explored. Naturally, one of them takes his powers too far, the others try to stop him and a fight very reminiscent of Will Smith and Charlize Theron ensues…will good prevail over evil?

“How are the special effects?” – Pretty good, actually. No strings or anything 🙂 Of course, if the good people of New York City can be fooled by people-shaped aircraft, then of course, the actual effects in this movie are obviously up to par.

“Wait, don’t I know that actor from somewhere?” – Steve is played by Michael B. Jordan, whom you soap opera fans might recognize from his days on All My Children. Andrew’s abusive father is played by Michael Kelly, famous for Dawn of the Dead, Changeling, and The Adjustment Bureau. Other than that, not many famous people!

“Anything I should know going in?” – It’s a found-footage film…which means there are some scenes that will leave you asking, “Who the heck is filming this”? I find that in order to enjoy found-footage films, you have to simply repeat to yourself, “It’s just a show”, you should really just relax. In all seriousness, and without reference to T.V. theme songs, release any desire for practicality and you will enjoy the movie more.

Overall, the movie was okay. Interesting story, good action…my main qualm is just characters acting stupid, and making stupid decisions. But, that’s present in any movie!

Spend or Save? I am gonna say save on this one. Wait for it to come on Redbox and you’ll enjoy it more. It is worth watching, just not worth spending $50 on the whole movie theater experience.


Best Picture Nominees: The Help

Our second contender is The Help. This movie came out a long time ago, and this usually hurts movies in the Oscar race. However, I do think that at least one of the big four acting awards will go to this movie, if not more. It’s well-deserved, at least as far as I can tell.

Question time!

“What is the movie about?” – In Jackson, Mississippi during the civil rights movement, Skeeter Phelan is an aspiring writer with the challenge to write about something no one else has researched before. She enlists the help of two maids, Aibileen and Minny, to help her tell stories from the perspective of “the help”. In that day and age, this was a dangerous undertaking, but a very courageous one. As the tagline says, “Change begins with a whisper.”

“What other nominations did this movie earn?” – Viola Davis is up for Best Actress, while Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer are both nominated for Best Supporting Actress.

OSCAR BAIT CATEGORIES

  • Pretty person turned ugly – Kinda. Emma Stone is naturally gorgeous, but in this movie she is supposed to be a homely girl who has never been on a date.
  • Actor pretending to have special needs – Nope.
  • Set during a different time period – Set in the 60’s in the time of the civil rights movement.
  • Based on a true story – Not technically. Obviously there were maids in the 60’s, but the actual story line is fiction.
  • High-concept story line that no one really understands, but pretends to so that they will appear intelligent – Nope. This is a pretty straight forward movie and the references to “the way things were” is a concept we can all grasp pretty easily.
  • Based on a best-selling novel – Yup. The Help by Katheryn Stockett (GREAT book, in case you’re interested).

“Will it win the Best Picture Academy Award?” – Doubtful. It’s definitely got the advantage of addressing a hot-button issue, but it’s simply not popular enough. It’s a great movie, but, like I said, the Academy tends to not award “great” movies…they focus more on “well-done” movies. I do think that Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer will win in their respective categories…Viola might get surpassed by the almighty Meryl Streep, but I think this is definitely Octavia Spencer’s award to lose.

“Should I watch this before Oscar night?”Absolutely. This is a great story with lots of hope, laughs and some tears. Overall, if you like this movie, I recommend reading the book…it is much better and more detailed. As far as the Oscar nominees go, this is up there as one of my favorites…however, there are many more to see! Have fun!


Best Picture Nominees: Moneyball

It’s ACADEMY AWARD time!! THIS girl gets ridiculously excited about the Oscars…as any respectable movie fanatic should. Every year I try to watch as many of the Best Picture nominees as I can. This year, being the first time I’ve had a blog about movies, I will dissect the nominees for y’all so that you can decided which movie is worth your time and your “vote”.

Now, the Academy Awards love certain types of movies. I have created a few categories that most Best Picture nominees fall into…I call them “Oscar Bait”. I’ll let you know which movie falls under each category and give you my predictions for the winner. Let “the most wonderful time of the year” begin!

Our first contender is Moneyball. I’ve already seen this movie, and if you haven’t, drop what you are doing, and rent it. It is such a feel-good movie, very well done and well-acted. For the record, I am NOT a Brad Pitt fan. Save for Seven, Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Inglourious Basterds, his movies usually annoy me, and he is usually super annoying in them. Plus, I haven’t forgiven him for the whole Jennifer Aniston thing. However, he is awesome in this movie.

Question time!

“What is the movie about?” – Billy Beane is a washed up ex-baseball player who is currently the general manager of the Oakland A’s. Frustrated with the lack of money he is able to work with when recruiting players, he enlists the help of Peter Brand and his method of choosing players based on numbers versus the old tried-and-true way that baseball scouts have used for decades. Together, they defy the odds and lead a team of misfits to an unbelievable winning streak.

“Do I have to like baseball to like this movie?” – It will certainly help but I don’t think it is necessary. I come from a baseball loving family, so I was completely enthralled, but I think the average non-sports enthusiast will also enjoy it.

“What other nominations did his movie earn?” – Brad Pitt has been nominated for Best Actor and Jonah Hill for Best Supporting Actor. It is also up for Best Adapted Screenplay.

OSCAR BAIT CATEGORIES

  • Pretty person turned ugly – Nope. Brad Pitt is still pretty. Works out a lot too.
  • Actor pretending to have special needs – Nope.
  • Set during a different time period – Technically. The movie is set in 2002, but that was only ten years ago. No elaborate costumes or real attention to anachronisms was needed, so I doubt the Academy will care.
  • Based on a true story – Yup. Says it real big on the poster.
  • High-concept story line that no one really understands, but pretends to so that they will appear intelligent – Nope. Baseball is pretty straight-forward. Now Brad’s OTHER movie in the race…well, we’ll get there.
  • Based on a best-selling novel – Yup. Moneyball by Michael Lewis.

“Will it win the Best Picture Academy Award?” – No way, Jose. This is a great, easy to enjoy movie, and the Oscars just aren’t down with that. Brad won’t win either, especially not with his BFF George Clooney in the running. Jonah Hill’s nominee was a surprising one, and seems to just be an acknowledgement that he’s moved past being the fat kid in Superbad. Can’t make a prediction on screenplay yet, but I highly doubt this movie walks away with one of the major awards.

“Should I watch this before Oscar night?”YES! Go watch it now! You will not regret it…heartwarming story, lots of humor, dialogue that makes you feel like a baseball insider…what’s not to like?


Spend Your Money/Save Your Money Movie Review: The Devil Inside

Ah, another “Found Footage” entry to the horror world. One of my personal favorite genres. I first saw this preview while at the premiere of Paranormal Activity 3. I will admit, the trailer freaked me out. Possession tends to be at the top of my list of things that legitimately scare me in a movie. My husband and I actually debated about going to see this movie, due to it being “too scary”. We went. It wasn’t.

This was another case of a trailer being way way scarier than the movie itself (see my Trailer Rant about Paranormal Activity 3 AKA The Huge Letdown).

Question time!

“What is the movie about?” – In the late 80s Maria Rossi killed three people, two priests and a nun, who were trying to perform an exorcism on her. She was found not-guilty by reason of insanity and after a few years, sent to an asylum in Rome. Some twenty years later, her daughter, Isabella, is trying to figure out what exactly happened that made her mother turn in to a killer and whether or not this “mental insanity” is in her jeans. She travels to Rome with a documentary film-maker and befriends two Priests in Exorcism School. They decide to assess whether Maria is truly possessed and perform an exorcism. Is she? Are others? Are you willing to wait for a good forty minutes before anything remotely interesting happens?

“Is this a true story?” – No. Don’t believe the hype. It’s made to look like a documentary-the characters talk to the camera, give interviews, etc. It feels similar to Quarantine except not done as well.

“Wait, don’t I know that actor from somewhere?” – There is no one in this movie that you should know from anywhere else…unless you watch random TV shows that were only on for three episodes before getting cancelled.

“Anything I should know going in?” – If you get motion sickness from watching movies where the camera jostles around a lot, you might have an issue watching this movie. My poor husband had to close his eyes a few times due to the movement of the camera. Consider yourself warned. Also, the ending is one of THOSE endings that leaves you groaning and saying “REALLY???” to the people sitting around you. Blah.

Basically, the movie was not good. There are a few good scares, yes. Definitely a few times you will jump. However, one of the scariest parts involves a dog defending his yard and has nothing to do with the devil inside. There is way too much talking at the beginning and not near enough scary moments. And the ending is frustrating…but by the time you get there, it’s predictable.

Spend or Save? Even I, a devoted horror movie, found-footage mega-fan cannot get behind this movie. Stay at home, save your money and watch The Exorcism of Emily Rose instead. Much better possession movie. Have a great week!


Rent it or Skip it: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

I decided to add an aspect to my reviews and post short reviews of movies that are out to rent. My husband and I recently added an Apple TV to our overflowing media cabinet and decided to take advantage of the rental aspect. Our first rental? Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Basically, I’m gonna give a quick overview, my opinion, things that annoyed me, things I liked, etc. I’ll also give my opinion on whether you should rent the aforementioned movie or not. So, here we go!

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Basically, Will the scientist (James Franco, who, just for the record, not a fan) is looking for a cure to Alzheimer’s and testing his results on chimpanzees (just for the record, also not a fan of chimps). After a failed experiment, all the chimps are ordered to be killed “put-down” and Will takes a baby chimp home and raises it as his own. The chimp is unnaturally smart, but gets into an altercation and gets sent to ape jail. The chimp decides that his situation sucks and releases himself and the other apes from their prison. Chaos ensues and monkey business goes down!

Best part? Baby chimpanzee! Super cute! Almost made me want to get one…until I remember Charla Nash’s FACE!

Worst part? Listening to Draco Malfoy Tom Felton’s sad attempt at an American accent. I know, I’m an accent Nazi, but come on! Aren’t you an actor? He is a very Draco-like character, snarling and all.

Should you rent it or skip it? Go ahead and rent it. It’s interesting and fast-paced. There are some parts I found a little sad and some parts a little tedious. It does, however, reference the other Planet of the Apes movies, so if you’re a fan of those, you’ll most likely enjoy these movies. Happy renting!