Well, that’s a wrap on the 92nd edition of the Academy Awards. Like all years, the Oscars had some great moments, some not-so-great moments, and some hilarious quotes! Here are my reactions to some of the major highlights from this year’s Oscars:
Best Moment: Parasite wins Best Picture
Through the first 91 years of the Academy Awards, no foreign-language film had won the Oscar for Best Picture. Last night, that streak ended. As I discussed on my post yesterday analyzing the Best Picture odds, the betting lines had gotten very tight between 1917 as the favorite and Parasite as the closest challenger. Thus, Parasite’s win was not entirely surprising, although it sure made for the best moment of the night, as it was one of my very favorite films from the past decade. (Overall, Parasite dominated this year, winning four Academy Awards, the most of any other film.) Additionally, the win made history for another noteworthy reason, as it became only the second film to win both the Palme d’Or at Cannes and Best Picture at the Oscars (the first time it’s happened in 64 years).
Worst Moment: Cutting the lights off on Parasite during the Best Picture acceptance speech
As mentioned above, the Best Picture win for Parasite was historic. When it came time for the acceptance speech, it took slightly longer than most would because the producers were speaking through interpreters. In light of all this, it was extra annoying when the ceremony cut the lights off on the winners before they were finished speaking. Although this was the worst moment, it was quickly followed by the most redeeming moment, thanks to the crowd’s audible displeasure with the situation. The camera even caught the likes of Regina King, Tom Hanks, and Charlize Theron chanting for the lights to come back up. This was a huge moment for Parasite, and I am glad that ultimately, the winners were allowed extra time to celebrate the victory!
Most Surprising Moment: Eminem!
We knew about nearly all of the musical performances last night in advance. One we didn’t know about was Eminem. A video was introduced during the ceremony that paid homage to some amazing songs in film history. Toward the end of the video, scenes from 8 Mile played, accompanied by the instrumental introduction from Eminem’s “Lose Yourself,” which won for Best Original Song that year. Then, the video ended…and Eminem popped up on stage to perform a live rendition of his monster hit from the early 2000s. The moment totally caught me by surprise (as well as others in the audience, based on their reactions), but I loved every second of it. Eminem did not attend the Oscars the year “Lose Yourself” won, so it was great to finally see him on stage performing on film’s biggest night!
Sleepiest Guest: Martin Scorsese during “Lose Yourself”
Twitter was on fire last night with some hilarious reactions during Eminem’s performance, but the funniest for me was the image of The Irishman director Martin Scorsese fighting off a nap. The ceremony is long, so I get it if Marty was a bit tired. But right in the middle of a loud rap performance??
Best Jokes from the “Non-Hosts”
For the second straight year, the Oscars was without an official host. However, in the hostiest of hostless ways, comedians Steve Martin and Chris Rock (both of whom have previously hosted the show) came out following the opening musical number to deliver a monologue. Some of the highlights included an absolute roasting of Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, including his divorce (“He saw Marriage Story and thought it was a comedy”); poking fun at the long runtime of Martin Scorsese’s latest film (“I loved the first season of The Irishman“); and a hilarious discussion by Chris Rock of Ford v Ferrari (“I got a Ford, I got a Ferrari…it ain’t even close. That’s like Halle Berry versus gum disease”).
Funniest Presenters: Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig
Can we just hire Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig to host every Oscars every year? The two comedy queens co-presented the awards for Best Production Design and Best Costume Design, and per usual, hilarity ensued. Rudolph and Wiig wanted the directors in the room to know they “do more than comedy” and can “act.” Naturally, they crushed it!
Biggest Upset: Bong Joon-ho wins Best Director over Sam Mendes
Although I predicted that the Academy would award Best Picture to Parasite, I was certain Sam Mendes would win Best Director for 1917 for the immense technical achievement of the film. Leading up to the ceremony, Mendes was a -400 favorite to win, with Parasite’s Bong Joon-ho a +300 underdog. As I wrote about yesterday, in three of the previous four years, the Academy gave Best Director and Best Picture to different movies. Thus, I figured the split would be on again this year. But the Academy threw us all a curveball, giving Bong a clean sweep of the two awards. (Bong was the largest statistical underdog, from a betting perspective, to pull off an upset last night.)
Happy Monday, film fans! The conclusion to my “Fall Preview 2015” is finally here. Over the past few days, I have shared with you my five Honorable Mentions and No. 10 – No. 6 on the list of my most anticipated fall film releases. But now it is on to the big reveal. So, without further ado, I give you films No. 5 – No. 1 on my Fall Preview 2015 list. Enjoy!
No. 5 – Black Mass
Black Mass tells the true story of Whitey Bulger (Johnny Depp), a notorious mobster and infamous leader of the Winter Hill Gang, an Irish-American mob in South Boston. If you have not seen this trailer, quit reading this now and click the link to it below (no, seriously…it’s worth it). Johnny Depp stars as the villainous Bulger, and by the looks of the aforementioned trailer, he knocks this performance out of the park! I will be the first to admit that Depp is by far one of the weirdest tools in the Hollywood shed. In today’s world, his filmography is marred by oddball performances in films like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Alice in Wonderland, The Lone Ranger, and Mortdecai. But most forget how truly talented Depp is as an artist, providing iconic performances in Donnie Brasco, Blow, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Public Enemies. I am hopeful that his portrayal of Bulger falls perfectly in line with his more acclaimed displays of acting dexterity—the trailer truly does give me hope!
Other than seeing Johnny Depp own the role of a crazed, harebrained mobster, I am looking forward to Black Mass because I am hopeful that it redeems the deeply complex story of Whitey Bulger’s life that the 2014 documentary Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger so drastically mucked up. I was expecting big things from that documentary, but it merely provided a bore-fest that too blatantly revealed the filmmakers’ lack of access. Beneath the surface, an incredibly captivating story bubbles with deceit, violence, lunacy, and corruption, and I am confident that director Scott Cooper and Depp will bring that to fruition. Black Mass is set for a theatrical release on September 18, 2015.
Director: Scott Cooper (Out of the Furnace, Crazy Heart)
Starring: Johnny Depp (Mortdecai, Into the Woods), Joel Edgerton (The Gift, Life), Benedict Cumberbatch (The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, The Imitation Game), Dakota Johnson (Fifty Shades of Grey, Need for Speed), and Kevin Bacon (Cop Car, R.I.P.D.)
No. 4 – The Revenant
According to Entertainment Weekly, The Revenant “is inspired by the trust story of Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio), a 19th-century hunter and fur trapper who was attacked by a bear and left for dead by his comrades (Tom Hardy and Domhnall Gleeson), only to will himself across hundreds of miles of winter terrain to safety—and redemption.” This movie has SO much going for it in my eyes: the cast, the crew, and the director. For starters, it stars Leo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, and Domhnall Gleeson. Leo is my all-time favorite actor. Hardy is the greatest currently in the business. And with films like About Time and Ex Machina in his relatively small filmography, D-Glee is becoming one of my faves in the industry. Combine the talents of all three of these practiced artists and, in my humble opinion, you have a concoction of star power with unfathomable potential—this alone makes The Revenant a massive draw for me!
Notwithstanding a wealth of talent within its cast, The Revenant piques my interest because of its director and cinematographer: Alejandro G. Iñárritu and Emmanuel Lubezki. Iñárritu is an absolute genius filmmaker, as evidenced by his critically acclaimed 2014 film Birdman, winner of four Oscars (including Best Picture and Best Director for Iñárritu). He is obviously coming off an amazing year in film, and the fact that he is following up Birdman with an epic adventure that took over seven months to shoot in one of the most frigid locations in the world, Iñárritu is sure not letting off the gas pedal. Additionally, his Birdman cinematographer (Lubezki) is back for The Revenant, and that is reason alone to be excited—Lubezki has won the Oscar for Best Cinematography at each of the last two Academy Awards (Gravity and Birdman). The Revenant is set for a theatrical release on December 25, 2015.
Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman, Babel)
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio (The Great Gatsby, Django Unchained) and Tom Hardy (Legend, Mad Max: Fury Road)
No. 3 – Sicario
Sicario, Spanish for “hitman,” follows Kate Macer (Emily Blunt), an FBI agent who is recruited onto a joint task force assigned to hunting down a drug-cartel overlord. Blunt is joined by Benicio del Toro (who plays a Mexican national) and Josh Brolin (who plays a government official). To put it simply: I absolutely cannot wait for Sicario.
Earning rave reviews from critics at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Sicario is most fascinating due to Emily Blunt being cast as the lead protagonist. I have always somewhat enjoyed her work, but ever since her badass performance in last year’s Edge of Tomorrow, I am officially on Team Blunt for life. She has just as much charisma as any other leading lady, but it is her penchant for action that now truly sets her apart. Speaking to EW, director Denis Villeneuve said, “I didn’t want a woman who would act like a man. I wanted a woman who would find her strength in a masculine world.” I believe Blunt is up to the task, and that is one of the biggest reasons I am so stoked for this movie’s release.
The supporting cast is also a major draw. Benicio del Toro is a veteran in the game, and with performances in films like Traffic and 21 Grams, he knows how to most effectively evoke mystery, thrill, and suspense. Josh Brolin is another experienced actor that is sure to bring his trademark demeanor to the picture in order to add to the film’s drama. Lastly, I greatly enjoyed 2013’s Prisoners, directed by Villeneuve. He provided an unprecedented level of tension for that film’s entire duration, and I look for him to do the exact same thing in Sicario, hopefully expanding the scope of this apprehensive style of filmmaking. Sicario is set for a limited theatrical release on September 18, 2015 and a wide theatrical release on September 25, 2015.
Director: Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Enemy)
Starring: Emily Blunt (Into the Woods, Edge of Tomorrow), Benicio del Toro (Inherent Vice, Guardians of the Galaxy), and Josh Brolin (Inherent Vice, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For)
No. 2 – Spectre
Spectre is the 24th Eon-produced 007 film, and it picks up where its predecessor, Skyfall, ended: following the fatal attack by Raoul Silva that claimed the life of M (Judy Dench), James Bond (Daniel Craig) must move on to thwart impending threats (by the criminal organization SPECTRE) at the direction of the new M, Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes). I am an avid fan of the James Bond series, and although my loyalties were always to Sean Connery as the preeminent Bond, Daniel Craig has definitely won me over; I now hold Craig out to be the best 007 of all time! Skyfall set a new bar for Bond films, surpassing (almost) every single one that came before it—Goldfinger is still the, pardon the pun, “gold” standard for 007 flicks! With Bond and his cohorts back in action for a fourth installment in the Daniel Craig era, I am hard-pressed to find any reason why this film should not be regarded as one of the biggest, baddest, and most anticipated films of the fall film season!
What is the one thing that could possibly propel Spectre past Skyfall for the second greatest 007 movie of all time? Two words: Christoph Waltz! The two-time Oscar winner is set to play Oberhauser, the apparent mastermind of SPECTRE, who claims some sort of personal connection to Bond. Bringing into the Bond fold one of the premier actors in the film industry is simply the best news for the franchise, and with Waltz in the mix, director Sam Mendes may find a cinematic classic at his fingertips. Spectre is set for a wide theatrical release on November 6, 2015.
Director: Sam Mendes (Skyfall, Away We Go)
Starring: Daniel Craig (Skyfall, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Christoph Waltz (Big Eyes, Horrible Bosses 2), Léa Seydoux (The Grand Budapest Hotel, Blue Is the Warmest Colour), Monica Bellucci (The Wonders, Love & War), and Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel, Skyfall)
No. 1 – The Hateful Eight
The Hateful Eight follows John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell) as he escorts Daisy “The Prisoner” Domergue to Red Rock to face justice for murder. Along the way, the two come across six very unique characters: The Bounty Hunter (Samuel L. Jackson), The Sherriff (Walter Goggins), The Mexican (Demián Bichir), The Little Man (Tim Roth), The Cow Puncher (Michael Madsen), and The Confederate (Bruce Dern).
Where do I start? I have been looking forward to The Hateful Eight since late 2013 when writer/director Quentin Tarantino said that he was working on his next movie. I have long been a fan of Tarantino, and considering (1) Inglourious Basterds is my all-time favorite movie, and (2) I own every single film Tarantino has ever made, it is no surprise that The Hateful Eight finds itself at the No. 1 spot of my Fall Preview. I am stunned this movie ever got made to be honest. In 2014, after his initial script was illegally leaked, Tarantino said that he was abandoning the project. However, he later changed his mind, rewrote the script, and voilà—we get a Christmas-day release in 70 mm of The Hateful Eight!
One thing Tarantino has always been known for is his recurring collaborations with actors—The Hateful Eight is no exception. Other than Jennifer Jason Leigh and Demián Bichir, Tarantino has previously worked with each of his stars. The Hateful Eight will be his second collaboration with Kurt Russell, Walter Goggins, and Bruce Dern, his third with Michael Madsen, his fourth with Tim Roth, and an astounding sixth with the legendary F-bomb king Samuel L. Jackson. Tarantino’s professional rapport with these actors can only benefit the movie, and I am so eager to see what this mad scientist has cooked up next! The Hateful Eight is set for a 70 mm film release on December 25, 2015 and a digital film release on January 8, 2016.
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson (Avengers: Age of Ultron, Kingsman: The Secret Service), Kurt Russell (Furious 7, The Art of the Steal), Jennifer Jason Leigh (Welcome to Me, The Spectacular Now), Walter Goggins (American Ultra, Mojave), Demián Bichir (Dom Hemingway, Machete Kills), Tim Roth (Selma, United Passions), Michael Madsen (Ashley, I’m in Love with a Church Girl), and Bruce Dern (Cut Bank, Nebraska)
Skyfall is a film directed by Sam Mendes, with a screenplay written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and John Logan. This is the 23rd James Bond film and the third in the Daniel Craig era, preceded by Casino Royale (2006) and Quantum of Solace (2008). In the newest addition to the 007 series, Bond begins the film with an intense fighting scene as he is chasing a mercenary. He ends up falling over a bridge and is presumed dead by all of MI6; however, when MI6 comes under attack by a major terrorist, Bond must reemerge from his hiding and help Britain’s intelligence agency hunt this rebel down. As more details of the terrorist and his plot are revealed, dark secrets about M are uncovered, and 007’s loyalty to his superior is greatly tested.
In the third of Craig’s Bond movies, he and Mendes have created one of the greater films in this storied franchise’s history. After Quantum of Solace, I began to think Craig would never make another 007 film as great as Casino Royale and would end up fading into history as another average Bond that could never measure up to the greatness of Sean Connery’s original portrayal. That was until I saw Skyfall. Daniel Craig clearly made a statement in this film that he is the best James Bond since Connery. Mendes and Craig have included much more dramatic elements than previous Bond films, not to mention some dazzling special effects that make the terror and destruction in the movie feel real to the viewers. I rank Skyfall as the second-best film in the franchise, ahead of Casino Royale (2006), From Russia with Love (1963), and Dr. No (1962), but I have put it behind Goldfinger (1964), which I still consider to be the top Bond movie of all time.
The cast that was assembled for Skyfall onlyadds to the sensation of the film. Dame Judi Dench reprises her role as M, giving a stellar performance as a character she has played in each consecutive film since 1995, beginning with GoldenEye. Another strong performance in the film is provided by Oscar-winning actor Javier Bardem. He plays the film’s villain, Raoul Silva, and portrays the character in such a creepy, disturbing way that it makes Anton Chigurh from No Country for Old Men (2007) look like the nicest guy in the world. The film features some other great supporting performances by Ralph Fiennes as Gareth Mallory, Ben Whishaw as Q, Naomie Harris as Eve Moneypenny, and Bérénice Marlohe as the newest Bond girl, Sévérine.
As this blog has proved, I am always excited for the Academy Awards, but this year, I have an extra layer of anticipation because the Academy plans to honor the 50-year anniversary of the first James Bond movie with a tribute to the legendary franchise, including Adele performing “Skyfall,” the newest film’s theme song, which is nominated for Best Original Song. Skyfall is rated PG-13 for intense violent sequences throughout, some sexuality, language, and smoking.
Academy Award nominations for Skyfall:
Cinematography (Roger Deakins)
Best Original Score (Thomas Newman)
Best Original Song (“Skyfall,” music and lyrics by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth)
Sound Editing (Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers)
Sound Mixing (Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell, and Stuart Wilson)
Previous movies on the countdown of the Top 15 Films of the Year: