Let's Talk About These Oscars

Ever since Maggie got the brilliant idea back in 2005 to watch all the Best Picture nominees before the Academy Awards, I've been diligent every year in doing the same thing. 2012 was the only year where I just couldn't muster the heart to watch Les Miserables and Amour. But other than that? I've seen every other nominee for the past 9 years. 2014's nominees are, at times, the same-old, same-old from years past and some of the criticism thrown at the Academy as of late is warranted. I'm going to offer some commentary on the Academy itself, but also throw out my two cents with all the Best Picture nominees.

Most of the criticism this year is mainly focused on how white the Awards are. While that's fair criticism, this issue is a symptom of the problem, not the cause. (as a side note: I would like to point out that last year's Best Picture winner was 12 Years a Slave, something people forget to mention when criticizing this year's list) No, the real problem is that Hollywood has always been a white, male-dominated industry. Most of the nationwide releases each year have white, male protagonists - I mean, I can count on my two hands the number of top-100 grossing movies last year that had a black main character. So, yeah, Hollywood needs to diversify immensely, but that's a whole other issue that I am not as eloquent or educated enough to discuss further.


Most Anticipated 2015: Blackhat

Blackhat (R) - Runtime: 133 minutes
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Viola Davis, Wei Tang
Director: Michael Mann
Writer: Morgan Davis Foehl
Release Date: January 16
Michael Mann has been a consistent director over the past 20 years with great movies like Heat, Collateral and Public Enemies. He hasn't really garnered as much love lately (his last movie to garner any sort of awards buzz was Collateral over 10 years ago. Granted, he's only directed three movies since then, but I've enjoyed most of his movies (except for that mess of a reboot, Miami Vice). With Blackhat he tackles the criminal world, only this time it's through the lens of the cyber terrorist. And not only was this movie good, it managed to be one of the more realistic depictions of hacking in movies.

First of all, Mann is known for creating some stunning visuals in his movie and Blackhat continues that. From what I saw from the trailer I thought the computer sequences where the camera goes inside the computer to trace the virus would be extremely hokey and completely absurd. Not only were these visuals thrilling, but highly informative, if not somewhat realistic. It's fun to see once the guy presses enter to follow the lighted virus flow through the wires and microscopic computer chips. But on the macro level, Mann creates some great wide shots of Hong Kong and other Asian locales. There's a lot of quiet moments in this film and Mann works them to perfection whether if it is to focus on a character's thoughts or grief or to let us soak in the beauty of what we're seeing.

Most Anticipated 2015: Kingsman: The Secret Service

Kingsman: The Secret Service (R) - Runtime: 129 minutes
Starring: Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, Taron Egerton
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Writers: Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn
Release Date: February 13
Matthew Vaughn and Mark Millar team up once again to bring to life one of Millar's graphic novels. And much like Kick-Ass before, Kingsman is an apologetically violent R-rated action movie with some sly comedy mixed in. Colin Firth is top notch as a kick-ass classy James Bond and Taron Egerton makes himself a known entity with his first major role. I begin the hyperbole now: this is going to be one of the best films this year.

Kingsman is a very slick and modern take on the James Bond franchise. You've got suave gentlemen in suits kicking butt, high-tech gadgets, a femme fatale and a opulent villain with a trademark lisp. The Kingsman are a group of wealthy descendants who take up the mantle to keep the world safe, secretly. They work outside of the governmental agencies across the world and can rival even the CIA and MI6 in scope. When one of them goes down following up on a lead, Colin Firth and the rest of the Kingsman train a bunch of recruits to replace one of the spots left vacant. Enter Eggsy, a kid from the street who is the son of a previous Kingsman that died 17 years ago. Firth's character, Harry Hart, has faith that he'll live up to his father's reputation as one of the best agents. Meanwhile, Samuel L. Jackson's Valentine is hatching a plan to basically destory the world. It's diabolical and completely absurd, much like the rest of the movie.


2014 Most Anticipated Roundup

I've been absent for a while - writing up a most anticipated list can just be a time suck. And holidays and family, too! So I've been trying to get my footing for 2015 and so far I've had an awesome 14 days in the new year. I've even managed to see one of my Most Anticiapted 2015 movies already! More on that tomorrow.

In between all that time, I've managed to cross off more movies from my 2014 list and here's a summary of all those that I've seen!