Awards Season 2014

So it was the Golden Globes this past weekend thus starting the official run of Awards Season – quite possibly my favourite time of year. Although there have already been several film critics’ awards, the Globes marks the start of the heavyweight ceremonies, leading up the King of them all – the Oscars. Most years I’ve paid attention during awards season but last year I got quite involved in the run up and this year I’ve made it my mission to watch many of them, so look out for my reviews of them in the next few months. So here is my rundown of what films to watch out for over the next few months and why.

American Hustle

David O’Russell reunites Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence from last year’s triumph Silver Linings Playbook and Christian Bale and Amy Adams from The Fighter and creates a fantastic ensemble drama with some stellar powerhouse performances which could see each of the four names above being nominated in the respective acting categories. The film performed really well at the Globes last night, with 3 acting wins and the best picture in a comedy/musical. O’Russell will probably get directing nominations and I could see it getting make-up and hair noms for its fantastic 70’s do’s.

12 Years a Slave

The true story of a man who is sold into slavery in America has been gaining momentum since the summer, and going into awards season is the frontrunner for Best Film. Chiwetel Ejiofo is also looking like a strong contender for Best Actor (for keen geeks, recognise him from Serenity?), and director Steve McQueen is looking good for a best director nomination.

Dallas Buyers Club

 

Matthew McConaughey further cements his place in serious acting roles with his turn as an AIDS sufferer in the movie, where he famously dropped a tonne of wait for the role – I’m sure he’ll pop up for acting nominations, but faces stiff competition. We can also expect Jared Leto to be in the running for Best Supporting Actor.

Frozen

This animated movie is certain for a nod for Best Original Song and Best Animated movie – it’s a magical movie and beautifully made.

 

Blue is the Warmest Colour

After it gained huge success at the Cannes Film Festival, surely this is one of the frontrunners for Best Foreign Film?

August Osage County

This ensemble cast is led by powerhouses Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep and deals with a dysfunctional family unit. It’s an outsider in terms of the frontrunners, but it looks like a great movie!

Philomena

 

This heart-warming true story could see a fair few acting nominations for Judi Dench who gives a stellar performance.

Her

 

Spike Jones’ film is gaining in its popularity and could see it being nominated for best film but also for Joaquin Phoenix’s performance as a man who falls in love with a computerised voice.

Inside Llewyn Davies

 

A film about a young country singer is the dark horse in this year’s awards films; with the film coming from the pot of the Coen brothers, anything is possible. Best Director(s), Best Screenplay are all possible nominations.

Blue Jasmine

 

Woody Allen’s latest film has a banker in its books in the form of Cate Blanchett – she’s an awards machine and is a shoe-in for the Best Actress title. Allen could get Best Director nominations as well as Sally Hawkins receiving Best Supporting Actress nods.

All is Lost

 

This tense drama involved Robert Redford lost at sea, contending with dangerous conditions (basically a slightly different version of Gravity). However, critics are calling this film one of Redford’s finest performances, so don’t be surprised if he receives nominations through the series.

Gravity

This Alfonso Cuarón film was a non-stop tense and magical ride when I saw it a few months ago, and Cuarón’s win at last night’s Globes cements him as one of the favourites to take home the Best Director prizes. Sandra Bullock could also pick up Best Actress nominations.

The Wolf of Wall Street

Martin Scorsese’s latest film about a stock broker who over-drinks, uses drugs, creates debauchery and generally throws money away in a relentless morally corrupt story. Scorsese will probably see plenty of Director nominations, whilst DiCaprio could be the dark horse for Best Actor, particularly after picking up the award at last night’s Globes. Could this finally be his year?

 

The Oscar nominations are announced on Thursday, and until the ceremony on March 2nd, I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled on the awards season with keen interest.

 

“I don’t know if anybody’s ever ready for another awards season. It’s kind of like Christmas.” (James McAvoy)

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The Following Season 1

Starring Kevin Bacon and created by horror screenwriter legend Kevin Williamson I watched the opening episode of The Following’s first season when it aired this time last year and immediately knew I’d found something great. It was intense, suspenseful and episodes had a cinematic feel to them. I reviewed the early part of the series here and continued to watch the series, hoping that its impressive start would continue.

The series builds around Detective Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) and his relationship with the serial killer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy); on his original rampage Carroll attacked Hardy but was captured and sent to prison, whilst Ryan tried to piece his life together. It all came crashing down however when Joe Carroll escaped from prison. Even though he was recaptured quickly, his escape prompted a plan to be set in motion, featuring Joe’s ‘followers’ a group of people who band together because of their obsession with Carroll. It’s intriguing stuff, not to mention creepy and it’s interesting that as well as focusing on Ryan, the show focuses on his followers as well. With the use of flashbacks the show pieces together the period of Carroll’s initial killings to the present day. In the short time he is free, Joe manages to set in motion his plan of making a ‘sequel’ to his story, placing Ryan Hardy in the centre. Carroll obsesses over Hardy because of the fact he was the one that caught him and also because after the case was solved he had an affair with Carroll’s wife Claire Matthews (Natalie Zea).

The main cast bounce off each other brilliantly –Kevin Bacon and James Purefoy have excellent chemistry; you can feel the mutual hatred under the surface and their scenes on screen are electric. Hardy feels like he has the weight of the world on his shoulders, blaming himself for so much and Bacon plays the flawed hero so well. I do love Kevin Bacon as an actor so I’m so happy he’s found a role and a television show that displays his acting abilities. James Purefoy clearly relishes the role of Joe Carroll; he oozes charisma, charm, sophistication – everything you’d expect in a crazed psychotic serial killer. The other supporting cast members include Shawn Ashmore as Agent Mike Weston who helps lead the investigation into Carroll, along with Agent Debra Parker played by Annie Parisse are great support to Hardy and due to Williamson’s knack of killing off his cast of characters with a blink of an eye, their roles are never safe.

The other interesting trio of characters are the initial three main followers of Joe Carroll – Paul, Jacob and Emma (played by Adan Canto, Nico Tortorella and Valerie Curry). Even though the three of them are only together for a few episodes, they make for an intriguing grouping, developing into a power play/love triangle as it turns out Paul and Jacob pretending to be gay developed into something more, whilst Jacob and Emma were actually a couple. The dissent and panic that erupts between the three is brilliant to see unfold.

Other aspects help to make this show fly as well the score is brilliant, helping to build the atmosphere, particularly the end of the episode songs. The show also consistently looks visually great, the constant night time scenes help create the atmospheric tension. Williamson and his team of writers come up with some great twists and turns, helping to keep the show fresh and exciting.

The Following’s second season starts later this month, and I’m more than intrigued to how the show will pick up and continue. The ending saw Joe Carroll supposedly dying in an explosion whilst Ryan and Claire celebrate together. That is soon cut short when one of Joe’s crazed followers, planted as Ryan’s neighbour attacks him and Claire, leaving the series on a cliff-hanger. We know that Ryan is alive, but there are still several strands that are left unsolved; what happened to Claire? Is Joe Carroll really dead? The answers will be found in the season 2 premiere of The Following – I can’t wait!

 

Hardy: The second you get within two feet of me, I’m gonna snap your neck and crack your spine.

Paul: And I’ll shoot you dead.

Hardy: And his spine will be cracked.

Paul: And you’ll be dead.

Hardy: And his spine will be cracked.

(The Following, 1.6 ‘The Fall’)

Under The Dome Season 1

First of all, Happy New Year! I hope everyone had an excellent festive period, whatever you were doing. I so needed a break from work and now it’s almost over and I’m having to face reality again. Unfortunately, my plan to clear up my backlog of posts and catch up on TV and films didn’t fully go to plan but I’ll soon catch up. Anyway, onwards with this new post:

Season 1 of Under the Dome aired over in the US over the summer and aired in the UK a few months later. Based on the novel by Stephen King (something which I’m now intrigued to read) it’s about a normal small town that suddenly has a large solid dome surrounding it, effectively trapping everyone inside.  No one can explain how it got there or how to get rid of it: the towns populous are stuck inside, and soon problems start to arise.

After watching the first season, I’ve come away with a mixture of feelings toward the show, but overall I can see some potential and I’ve mostly enjoyed how the show progressed. There are so many interesting ideas and concepts, and at its core it’s a chance to explore human nature and how people react and change in a time of crisis. However, that’s not to say the show didn’t have its weaknesses

At times there was some bizarre dialogue, as well as strands of the plot that run on far too long or become extremely far-fetched such as when one character remains trapped in a basement for 4 episodes and no one really notices she’s missing. When another character dies, her daughter Norrie goes through the five stages of grief over a 45-minute episode and after that appears mostly fine. Some of the characters get incredibly tedious and annoying rapidly; the four main teenagers discover a mini dome, proclaiming they are its protectors. One of them, Junior (Alexander Koch) is particularly grating – he looks incredibly psychotic and actually is a bit unhinged –he locked Angie in the basement and constantly obsesses about her. His relationship with his father is also a messed up one; he looks to make his dad proud, whereas his dad uses his son when he’s needed and tries to pollute his mind later on.

Speaking of Junior’s father, let’s move on to the positives; in certain episodes the show really is on point, mixing typical dramas with the added pressure and reality that the town is now facing. The law enforcement soon loses control, and is constantly fighting to regain it, with help from civilians which ultimately causes power controls to break out. In one character, this control ultimately develops into a web of lies. Big Jim Rennie (Dean Norris) is a typical town big shot – everyone knows who he is and he doesn’t seem to put a foot wrong: the typical Mr Nice Guy. However, under the surface he has a huge hidden agenda, putting himself on a pedestal by leading the town in various missions or acts but by force and pressure rather than democracy. He relishes the power and the way he can manipulate people, and by the back 4/5 episodes he unravels significantly towards the end, experiencing more delusions of grandeur, feeding his ego. He becomes the selling point of this series and is brilliantly played by Norris. On –screen the audience are treated to the disintegration of a town big shot into the villain inside.

Also of note is Mike Vogel and Rachel LeFevre who play Barbie and Julia respectively; they develop a friendship and subsequently a relationship, despite the fact that Barbie killed Julia’s husband (although this was before he had met Julia – another strange decision the show makes). Barbie is supposed to be the opposing element of Big Jim, flawed as he is the hired gun but a hero nonetheless. And it helps that Mike Vogel is quite attractive.

Under the Dome is an intriguing drama; the sub-plots of the egg and the dome’s strange activities act as secondary elements to what the drama tries to explore – how people behave during a crisis. As I said at the start, this show does have potential and by the end of the run of episodes I was enjoying it a lot more. I’ll be going back when Season 2 begins in the US this summer, with the opening episode being written by horror author Stephen King. However, whether I’ll stick with this series will depend on whether they can build on the positives and work on the negatives.

“You’re a sick bastard! And one day everyone’s gonna know it. And they’re gonna smile when you die” (Dodi, Under the Dome, 1.12)