Tag Archives: Academy Awards

#Whiplash Like None Other

The eternal battle between “why me” and “try me”

I have been hearing a lot about this film from multiple sources. It has been one of the favourites in prestigious film festivals around the world. Mostly in the Supporting Actor category for J.K. Simmons and his brilliance on screen. So far, the film has claimed a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, a Screen Actors Guild Award for the same and many more. I watched the film twice in one week and I feel I should refrain myself from speaking about how good Simmons is at what he put up on screen and speak more about some other points that make the film stand out.

Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller) as a drummer with great potential meets Terrence Fletcher (J. K. Simmons) known for his terrifying methods. Fletcher gives Andrew a chance in his top ensemble as an alternate. Andrew struggles making a permanent place in the core team as Terrence pushes both – his ability and his sanity.

The director Damien Chazelle made a short film of the same name in 2013 with the producers Jason Reitman and Jason Blum with J. K. Simmons in the same role. It was a 17 minute proof that the subject and the director can make it to the big screen. At the age of 30 the director has an Academy Award Nomination under his belt.

If you are remotely interested in this film, please do not watch the trailer. On one hand, the film shows off excellent editing but the trailers are quite the opposite. True that they generate interest about the film but if you wish to enjoy the film one piece at a time, unraveling the minute details about it; then simply skip the trailers. They contain major spoilers without any spoiler alert. Almost as if the producers were desperate to get the audience to fill the seats.

I have heard a lot of people complaining that the plot of the film is quite like any other sports film. And it is. To put it in simple terms, Whiplash is a movie about a guy with potential who meets the toughest challenge of his life in the form of his instructor. I even had an argument with a friend of mine who attacked the film by calling it a typical Hollywood commercial film. For me, the film succeeds for its spot on beginning and perfect ending.

Being a filmmaker, being an artist, I have been in Andrew’s shoes. And I feel everyone has been through this at one point or the other. We all have that one person in the world we feel is impossible to impress. And some of us do take small things personally. When you put so much of efforts in something, it is hard to take any criticism at all. The bottomline being the last scene of Whiplash. Conviction is the key. There are all sorts of friends, philosophers and guides in the world who simply enjoy to pull you down. Even if you are good. This is my way of dealing with them. NOT TO GIVE A FUCK.

Regardless of the great performance, Terrence Fletcher IS the bad guy in the film. And Andrew wins my heart. An icon such as Fletcher has the power to discourage someone. But the next great one will never be discouraged, no matter what. That is what I am going to take back from the film.

Whiplash is by far the best film I watched in 2015. I am a little biased towards it for many personal reasons. I predict the film has a great potential winning the Best Sound Mixing award and also Best Film Editing. I am sure the film will get a warm response on its release in India. And the only sound that would be louder than the drumming would be the applause the movie receives!

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#4 Robert Zemeckis – Forrest Gump

“To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter… to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring — these are some of the rewards of the simple life.”

~ John Burroughs, Leaf and Tendril

The film is ranked 14th in the IMDb top 250 list.

Twenty years ago, in 1994 there were these three movies, The Shawshank Redemption, Pulp Fiction and Forrest Gump. Many consider 1994 to be such an iconic year for cinema because of these three films. All of these had their contribution to make towards the industry for what it is today. All of these were successful in their own fashion. And all of these were totally different from each other in all terms. No matter how many times I watch these I can never get enough of them.

I think The Back to the Future trilogy was how I was introduced to Robert Zemeckis. The first part of the trilogy is a very special movie for my whole family. Even as a kid, I could recognize the power of detailing and how it could enhance the overall understanding of the film. So much can be said in such a little time. That is what cinema is all about. We witness the journey of a child as he is born through his teenage right till his grave in the short span of two and a half hours. And yet we feel that the story is somewhat about us. The trick is to get the details right.

The first ten minutes of the film define how your entire film is going to be. This may or may not suit all the genres but at least in the Back to the Future trilogy and even in Forrest Gump, we were given a hint of what the film is all about in the first ten minutes or so. The opening sequence of Forrest Gump is one of the most iconic opening sequences of all times. Apart from the brilliance in the execution and stunning VFX, the relevance to the story has made it so exceptional.

Have you seen the film Guide by Vijay Anand? No matter how different the plot is, I cannot fail to recognize the similarities in the structure of both the films. Both the films have more than three acts. There is a resolution to every story and more importantly, just like in real life; events keep happening regardless of the final conclusion. What supports my argument is that the protagonists in both the films start their regular lives and circumstances take them through various adventures. Ultimately leading to an intimate, spiritual experience for them. Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.

(Spoilers ahead)

Apart from the compelling performances, I admire how honestly the story is told. It is completely from Forrest’s perspective. (At times they have taken the liberty of showing us how the female lead character had been doing all this while, but there are only glimpses.) Nothing that Forrest wouldn’t understand has been said. That is where the film makes us believe that we are looking at the world through the eyes of a man who understands so little. The film makes Forrest run away from certain things and it makes him embrace some new things. Just like life. Every end is the start of a new beginning. Just like life.


Jenny Curran: Were you scared in Vietnam?

Forrest Gump: Yes. Well, I-I don’t know. Sometimes it would stop raining long enough for the stars to come out… and then it was nice. It was like just before the sun goes to bed down on the bayou. There was always a million sparkles on the water… like that mountain lake. It was so clear, Jenny, it looked like there were two skies one on top of the other. And then in the desert, when the sun comes up, I couldn’t tell where heaven stopped and the earth began. It’s so beautiful.

Jenny Curran: I wish I could’ve been there with you.

Forrest Gump: You were.


 

Overall, Forrest Gump is completely an American formula film. The incidences covered in it are so perfect that every American person could connect with them. It is the story of a generation. I love how apolitical they’ve managed to be while doing so. The film won the 67th Academy Awards for the Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Director, Best Visual Effects, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Film EditingRoger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote, “I’ve never met anyone like Forrest Gump in a movie before, and for that matter I’ve never seen a movie quite like ‘Forrest Gump.’ Neither has any of us. 🙂


I don’t know if we each have a destiny, or if we’re all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze, but I, I think maybe it’s both. Maybe both is happening at the same time.

#3 Always a bridesmaid never a bride

Leonardo DiCaprio has been all over social media for NOT winning an Oscar, probably more that Matthew McConaughey. I am surprised how people think that Leo is the only mainstream actor who has yet to receive an Academy Award. So here we go with a few of my favourites who have not received an Oscar in the Best Actor category.

1. Gary Oldman

Known for his versatility, Gary Oldman is described as “a very strong candidate for the world’s best living actor” by Academy Award winner Colin Firth. Oldman was nominated for his performance in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) and lost to Jean Dujardin for The Artist. And this is his only Oscar nomination in his career. You can check out this list which puts it in detail why Oldman deserves an Oscar.

2. Jim Carrey

Speaking of being nominated, Carrey has never even got that far. After being praised for going beyond his comfort zone for The Truman Show and overshadowing his co-star in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mindit is extremely disappointing not to get noticed by the Academy.

3. Johnny Depp

Depp has been in the limelight for accepting challenging roles and pulling them off with ease. With the kind of performances under his belt, Johnny Depp has been nominated thrice in the Best Actor category, always leading to disappointment. However, an Oscar isn’t the only recognition one seeks is it? Depp, in 2003 and 2009. He has been listed in the 2012 Guinness World Records as the highest paid actor, with $75 million.

4. Sir Ian McKellen

He is Gandalf, he is Magneto but all those powers are not good enough to pull an Academy award towards him. Nevertheless he has received six Laurence Olivier Awards, a Tony Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a BIF Award, two Saturn Awards, four Drama Desk Awards and two Critics’ Choice Awards.

5. Orson Welles

At the age of 23, he shook the world with the radio adaptation of H. G. Wells‘ novel The War of the Worlds. When he was 25, he made the film, which is considered as one of the best films ever made. He wrote it and acted in it. He shared an Oscar for the Best Original Screenplay with Herman J. Mankiewicz. Orson Welles gained national and international fame and recognition in mostly every possible media of that era. In 1970, Welles was given an Academy Honorary Award for “superlative and distinguished service in the making of motion pictures.”Rather than attending the ceremony he exclaimed: “I didn’t go because I feel like a damn fool at those things. I feel foolish, really foolish. … I made piece of film and said that I was in Spain, and thanked them.”

 

An Oscar is probably the most coveted method of acknowledging one’s contribution to Cinema. And in these 86 years we cannot even imagine how many legends have been deprived of it. But the most important part is, regardless of this recognition, they’ve measured success in different terms. Success and failure depends on our choice. There isn’t only one definition of success. It is highly subjective. And this is what I take back from it.

#1 Steve McQueen – 12 Years A Slave

For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.
~ Nelson Mandela
It is all about impotency of Solomon Northup and every other slave of that time. The cruelty and hypocrisy of the system and the relief of having a few good men.
It is fascinating of how different individuals can approach the same topic of racism in completely distinctive patterns. We had Quentin Tarantino‘s Django Unchained last year in the nominations and this year Steve McQueen‘s 12 Years a Slave is one of the favourites too. Django focused on the fact that how capable an unchained slave could be and Northup’s story has the mournful touch of reality to it. Being a slave to the existing scenario stretches all across the film till the text in the very end.
When asked about 12 Years a Slave, people often talk about the brutality in most of the scenes. What moved me the most was the sub plots. When Northup is betrayed and enslaved, his companion on the ship escapes; finding the easy way out when his master comes down to rescue him. And Northup does the same leaving Patsey (Lupita Nyong’o) behind.
Both the supporting actors, Lupita Nyong’o and Michael Fassbender are impeccable and steal the show. You can absolutely hate Fassbender for his cruelty and you can absolutely love Nyong’o for her innocence.
The narrative of the film is devastatingly slow which does not really appeal to my tastes. The film flaunts an astonishing cast and the performances of each and every major character manage to grip you throughout. The film adds a very high contrast to add even more to the discrimination which is fabulous.

#1 Alfonso Cuarón – Gravity

We need to hold on to a few things and we need to let go of a few. But we choose the wrong way.

It starts off with the most amazing tracking shot I’ve ever seen. It raises my expectations to a whole new level and never fails to awe me in the whole 91 minute run-time.

The story is a simple survival story, just like any other except it takes place in an impossible scenario. The groundbreaking technology that was developed and perfected to execute the film blends with the story and enhances minute details of it, making the experience more and more realistic is what makes the film stand apart. I have this particular firm standpoint that incorporation of methods and technique should be subordinate than the motive of storytelling. And the film explains why.

Cuarón admits using “visual metaphors” throughout the film. You are most likely to miss them unless you’ve trained vision to detect them in their small appearances on screen. But when you watch a film again and again, over and over again you realize how much thought goes behind every one of them. I have not seen all of his films as of now, but even in Prisoner of Azkaban the use of a few was noticeable.

The CG is so good in the film that it is hard to distinguish between what’s real and what is not. The actors have skillfully adapted to the rigs created especially for shooting all the Zero G shots. One can only imagine the kind of dedicated efforts both the actors must have taken to give one single perfect shot.

The film carefully distinguishes itself from fantasy and seems like a documentation. It makes sure that appears as a continuous experience of a catastrophe in space. Every new obstacle thickens the tension of the whole situation. The few moments of interaction, of exposition garnishes the urge of coming back on Earth. And the joy of Ryan simply standing up on her feet, being in control at last; makes you rejoice. Whatever it may be, it is a hell of a ride.

Gravity is received 10 nominations at the 86th Academy AwardsBest Actress, Best Director, Best Original Score, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Visual Effects and Best Picture

#1 Spike Jonze – Her

“Love may be blind. But it can sure find its way around in the dark.”

Well, it has been a while since I’ve written anything on films. But it doesn’t even remotely mean that I haven’t been watching any. Frankly speaking through my exams I’ve watched more films than I would’ve in any ordinary week. And it has been a very good week.

I spend most of my day, sitting in front of my computer. I am either researching about something, editing or watching a film. Really, as I think about it it has been my schedule for a while now. I interact with my computer more than I interact with my family. So in a way my computer would know me better than anyone else. And I guess it does, so to speak.

What would you do if:

1. The only successful relationship you have ever had is coming to an end

2. You don’t really have anybody to talk to

3. You find someone really interesting, kind and most importantly who is there to listen to you, all the time?

I find this a perfect setting to fall in love. We need someone to share this draggy life with. The only problem in Theodore’s (Joaquin Phoenix) life is, his new friend is not a human. And this is riveting beyond measure. How do you love someone, who can be a great companion but whose sheer existence is a matter of perception?

Different characters in the film had different opinions about it. There are supportive friends who understand the complications and do not judge you and there are skeptics who only find negativity in the situation, just like a relationship with any human.

The most marvelous part of the film is even though the film qualifies as a science fiction story, the technical part of it remains on the lower side. For me it is more philosophical rather than scientific. And more romantic than depressing.

I don’t know if anyone else observed this, I love how the colours are used throughout the film. These minute details add texture to the story.

I do not wish to spoil the ending for whoever has not watch the film. Because I feel, this is one film a cinemalover must watch with an open mind. To sum it up, the film speaks about an impossible relationship between a man and its closest companion which happens to be a.i. But obviously there is more to it!

Her by Spike Jonze is nominated for 4 Academy Awards which include: Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Song, Best Original Score and Best Picture.

Spike Jonze’s short film I’m Here (2010) had a similar theme and it is available over here.