Category Archives: Movies

Happy Birthday James McAvoy!

Hello, Sunipal aka IMG_4029 here to say – Happy Birthday James McAvoy!

Apparently today is James McAvoy’s birthday, so I thought it might be fun to introduce some of you to one of my many favourite actors of late.  Most of you will know him from the most recent X-Men movies, but for those of you who haven’t heard of James McAvoy, it’s about time you became acquainted with him.

Why is he one of my favourites?  Just look at him!  He’s adorable!


Alright, maybe that’s not reason enough.  So then just listen to him!  His Scottish accent is adorable!

All of that aside, he is actually a really great actor.  I have seen most of his movies (yes, I’ve even seen Bollywood Queen and Becoming Jane) so I thought I’d suggest some movies for you to watch to see his range and to witness for yourself what a good actor he actually is.

Below are my top 5 James McAvoy performances, in no particular order.

Wanted (2008)


I’m not sure, but this may actually have been the first movie I watched with James McAvoy.  He is so young in this movie, but he really holds his own against Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman.  The story is ridiculous, but there is some good action in this movie and James does a great job as both the guy who’s down on his luck and the action star.

Atonement (2007)


Another movie with a younger James, but oh what a movie.  It has its annoying parts, but James McAvoy and Keira Knightley have amazing chemistry and the story is quite unique.  Again, James’ performance surprised me, as I didn’t really know much about him nor had I seen him in many films before this.  James was nominated for a Best Actor Golden Globe for his performance, but he lost to Daniel Day Lewis (of course!) for There Will Be Blood.

Last King of Scotland (2006)

last king of scotland

This is an intense movie!  James’ character is quite annoying, but he plays the character so well.  Forest Whitaker steals the film as Idi Amin, but James really holds his own up against such a powerful performance.

Trance (2013)


This was one strange film, but I am definitely adding it to the list because James is just fantastic.  The range of emotions he shows in this film was surprising.  He plays someone who is involved in a mystery involving a crime, the mob, an art heist and he has amnesia on top of it all.

X-Men: First Class (2011) and X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

First Class DOFP

I have lumped these two together because the contrasting performances from one film to the next is quite extraordinary.  What they did with Professor X in Days of Future Past was unexpected, at least for me, and I feel that they needed an actor like James McAvoy to bring that side of Professor X to light.  James’ Professor X goes from being this young, green, flirty upstart to a mature mentor in First Class, only then to take the character further and to darker places in Days of Future Past.  Never mind that, but James had to hold his own against Patrick Stewart in DOFP!  Patrick. Stewart.  The very first scene they filmed for DOFP was the scene of young Xavier meeting the elder Xavier.  It is a powerful and pivotal scene.  And for those of you that don’t know, James McAvoy is a total Star Trek geek who was freaking out to be working with Captain Picard!  He held it together pretty well. 🙂

First Class:

Days Of Future Past:

Special mention goes to Welcome to the Punch (2013).  Nothing spectacular about James’ performance here, which is why I didn’t list it above, but I just enjoyed that movie.  I have still to see The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby and Filth and I am very much looking forward to the new X-Men film that will start filming later this year in Montreal, but the new James McAvoy film I am most excited for has got to be Victor Frankenstein!  Set to be released in October of this year (which is never a good sign for a film, as some of the worst films are released in October), it is a new perspective on the classic Frankenstein story.  Can’t wait!

If none of this is enough to get you on team McAvoy, allow me to introduce you to McFassy.  That’s right, James McAvoy is one half of the most fun duo to watch in interviews.  He and Michael Fassbender provide endless entertainment during their press junkets.  Just go to youtube and type in McFassy and enjoy!  Here’s a taste:

And there you have it!

Past Reviews – Star Trek Into Darkness

Hello All!    (Sunipal) here!  A while back I had started a different reviews blog, but that fell by the wayside…mostly because I forgot my account information and couldn’t log back in. LOL Anyhoo, I thought maybe I’d post a review or two from back then onto our new blog.  I had to post the following rant because any time I think of this movie it just aggravates me to no end and that needs to be shared.  The original blogpost was from May 2013.  I’ve made a few modifications/additions to the original review in bold.  So, check out my review of Star Trek: Into Darkness below:


I have a lot to say about the newest Star Trek film, but I feel as though if I start I won’t be able to stop.  Here goes anyway:

                The film began with a lot of promise, but it is a big disappointment.  It has a lot of action and looks great and fits in well with what we know of this new Star Trek universe, but they tried too hard to connect back to the Trek we know and love and that was a huge mistake.  It wasn’t a mistake to try, it was a mistake in the way they did it, which was a total RIP-OFF of a classic!  It was ridiculous!  I was loudly scoffing towards the end.

                Let’s go through this little by little, shall we?  Here are some of the good things from this film, in no particular order:

–          Love Chris Pine.  He is a natural and a good fit as a young, arrogant Kirk. (He was a tad more annoying on a 2nd viewing.)

–          Like the chemistry between these characters and actors.  It is because of the chemistry that a lot works in this and the previous film.

–          The action is fast and exciting and there’s lots of it.

–          There were a few little bits put in specifically for Trek fans (Ketha province, mentioning Nurse Chappell, Dr. Marcus and mentioning Daystrom, though this one kinda irked me.  If you know who he is then you’ll figure out why. )

–          The soundtrack is very good. (Though, not at all memorable after the fact.)

Here are some of the qualms I had with the film, again, in no particular order:

–          The film was SO predictable!  There was nary a surprise to be found!  And I went in virtually spoiler free!  Sure, some of the aforementioned throw-backs to other Trek characters, places, etc. were fun, but story-wise it was not surprising at all.

–          Before my next point let me say how much I dislike Zachary Quinto as Spock.  He’s horrible.  Reprehensible, really.  He is a TERRIBLE Vulcan!  I understand that they are trying to make this Spock different, with his anger management issues and his relationship with Uhura (something else I’m not really a fan of), but Zachary Quinto is just awful as is his Spock. (Sing it, Sister!)

–          Aside from the little nods to the Trek universe, their attempt to connect this film to an already existent and awesome universe as we know it was just ridiculous.  The very emotional, climactic scene at the end was a total RIP-OFF of  Wrath of Khan!  Ripped it off!  Completely!  Cue my scoffing.  It wasn’t just annoying and lazy, it really angered me.  I can see why they did this, because on the one hand they think us Trekkies will eat it up and be so happy to see such an homage (not homage, buddy, this was a total rip-off), while still pleasing the general fan by giving them a gut-wrenching moment between two friends and what’s supposed to be a sad death scene.  The problem?  The friendship between Kirk and Spock is hardly developed, the “death” of Kirk is stupid because you obviously know they’ll bring him back (and who couldn’t figure out how?!) and Zachary Quinto portrayed Spock as a blubbering fool (I’m sorry, but there’s NO WAY Spock would ever have cried like that and then lost it).  Having that jackass yell the classic line of “KHAAAAAAAAN” just made my blood boil.

–          Speaking of not developing character relationships very well, let’s talk about the fact that this movie only centred around Kirk, Spock and Uhura.  Sure, I know that you can’t focus on all characters all the time (but you can have screen time for all characters while focusing on the majors…Trek 3 anyone?…Trek 4 anyone?….Trek 5 anyone?), but they effectively banished all other characters into their respective corners for the duration of this movie!  Having Scotty abruptly resign takes him out totally, then sending Chekov (albeit a very bright young man, but he’s a flippin’ ensign!) to take over Engineering took him away from the bridge and the action and Bones was nowhere to be found and when he was there it was only to throw out cheesy, but entertaining, one-liners (where’s the development of his friendship with Spock and Kirk?!).  This brings me to Sulu…they threw him into the command chair simply because we all love Captain Sulu so much.  Yes, this made me giggle and I was happy that John Cho’s Sulu got some good screen time, but what of the other characters?  (This really irritated me more and more after the fact.) I was really annoyed with the lack of Bones. (Man! You have no idea!)

–          As I’ve already said, I love original Spock, but having him make a useless cameo in this film was cheap and unnecessary.

–          One of my biggest issues with this film was the gratuitous bra and panties scene.  Unnecessary and un-Trek like.  Sexiness and scantily clad women are not some unchartered territory, especially by Jim Kirk, but there’s a time and place and way to show skin.  Green alien girls dancing around or in bed, as in the first film, showing the two girls with tails in this film, etc., but showing Dr. Marcus changing her clothes in some lame attempt to force chemistry between Kirk and her was not to my liking. (Argh!  SO unnecessary!)

–          They killed Pike.  How hard would it have been to keep him alive and then in a wheel chair?

–          I both liked and hated that they were on the ground at Starfleet so much, but my first instinct was “What the?!  This is Trek!  They’re supposed to be in space!”

–          There was not nearly enough space!  They take on trip to Kronos and that’s it! (Actually, I don’t even think they called it Kronos in this movie…but I may be mistaken.)

–          The aliens were all over the top and weird.  They didn’t have to be.  My sister made the good point that Gene Roddenberry never wanted actor eyes to be covered up when playing aliens, but in this film they were all covered.  Every. Single. Alien.  Even the Klingon had contacts to give him weird eyes.

–          The story itself was stupid.

–          Khan.  That’s it.  I had a problem with Khan.  I had a problem that they even tried to tackle the character of Khan and I had a problem that this was the guy that ended up being Khan.  They also didn’t mention the Eugenics War once.  (Unless I missed it?)

–          Khan wasn’t at all Punjabi.  I didn’t think of this until after we left and my sister mentioned it to me, but it’s true.  They actually could have made him Punjabi!  Seeing as how they cast a virtual nobody in the role anyways, how hard would it have been to have cast someone with a bit of a tan? (The fact that they could’ve made him Punjabi isn’t at all a big deal and something they obviously don’t need to do to please anyone.  I went back and watched this movie a 2nd time to give it another chance and did so after watching lots of Sherlock and loving Benedict Cumberbatch.  I thought, perhaps, my like for him would rub off onto this 2nd movied watching experience.  It did not.  This movie was WORSE the 2nd time around.)

–          One of my biggest issues was that the Enterprise looked all wrong!  My brother was really bothered by the Spidey costume in that lame-ass Spiderman film they released last year and now I understand how he felt because I reeeeally didn’t like what they did to the nacelles!  Never mind that, the entire time the Enterprise was being destroyed in the final sequence I was getting so upset because this would allow them to “fix” it however they liked!  This is the ENTERPRISE!  You don’t mess with that.

I know that every complaint I’ve had here can be countered with either:

Relax, it’s a movie – nope, sorry, this is trying to become a part of the Trek ethos and is held to a higher standard than other films

Well, they did something similar in past films – i.e. destroying the Enterprise to make a new one – I don’t care.  It is too early for them to be doing anything that would result in major changes.

Let it go, it’s an alternative universe – And this, my friends, is the ONLY reason I was okay with this film and was able to enjoy it as I watched it. (Although my sister will always remind me that if we accept this alternate universe then that means we accept the planet Vulcan we’ve watched and known is totally destroyed…hmm…)

That having been said, I enjoyed it as I watched it, but liked it less and less the more I thought about it.  My immediate reaction was “Meh, it was o…kay…but there were lots of things that bugged me and it was way too predictable.” (NOPE.  NOT OKAY.  NOT IN THE LEAST.  This movie is terrible.)

There you have it.

– ☀️

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Who Should Play Newt Scamander?

After seeing the news last week of Gaston and the Beast’s casting in the upcoming live-action version of Disney’s Beauty and the BeastI started thinking about other popular future movies that have yet to be cast.

If you know me even just a bit, you’ll know that I absolutely love Harry Potter. I was late in coming to the Potter-party. Despite constant attempts at convincing me to read the books from my best friend and my sister’s best friend, I didn’t actually get around to it until my second year of University and BOY, am I glad I did!

In 2011, the world thought it had had its last glimpse of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter on the big screen with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. Then, in September 2013, we were treated to the exciting news that Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling, producer David Heyman, and director David Yates would be giving the big-screen treatment to her book, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which takes place in the same universe as Harry Potter, but does not have the same characters.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was originally written in 2001 by J.K. Rowling to raise money for Comic Relief, a charity that fights poverty around the world.

The world that Rowling created for the Harry Potter books has been fleshed out in her mind so well, that even a seemingly one-shot character like Newt Scamander, the protagonist of FBaWtFT, is actually tied right back in with the main characters of the original Harry Potter series in some way.


Note: The following spoiler does not actually take play in the Harry Potter books, but was confirmed by J.K. Rowling in a chat post-Deathly Hallows:

Newt’s grandson Rolf Scamander, Rowling said, marries Luna Lovegood, one of Harry’s best friends.

Sorry Luna/Neville shippers, it was great to dream up the two of them together, but I, personally, think they were just too good as friends to make a relationship work… not to mention that Luna probably needs someone a bit more kooky like her.


And this brings me back to why I’m writing this post – we’re going to get our chance to see Newt Scamander on the big screen either in late 2016 or early 2017.

The casting director did a fine job with the eight Harry Potter movies (with some minor issues here and there), but I’d like to take my shot at playing casting director and tell you some of the actors who I think could play Newt Scamander.

First things First:

What Do We Know About Newt?

Who could ever play this super-stylish wizard? :P
Who could ever play this super-stylish wizard? 😛

So far this is what we know about Newt Scamander, on a fictional character-level:

– he was born in 1897
– his mother bred hippgriffs
– he’s a “Magizoologist” — meaning, a zoologist who works with magical creatures
– he worked for the Ministry of Magic in the “Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures”
– he wrote Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a book that goes on to be used by Hogwarts’ students
– he wrote it in 1927
– he has a wife named Porpentia
– he has at least one child and a grandson named Rolf
– he lived at least into the 1990s

This all means, if this movie (and any subsequent sequels) take place in the years leading up to his writing of the book and/or around when we wrote it, we need:

– a British or Irish actor (students of Hogwarts are from Great Britain or Ireland)
– in his mid-twenties to early-thirties

There was only one person who sprang to mind when I first heard about this movie:

MY Newt Scamander:


Obviously this is Newt Scamander right here, am I right?
Obviously this is Newt Scamander right here, am I right?

D.O.B.: February 9, 1981
Place of Birth: Westminster, London, England, UK
Likelihood that he’ll be cast: **/5

Why do I think Tom Hiddleston should be Newt Scamander?  Okay, let’s be fair, I think Tom Hiddleston should be cast in most everything so I have a chance to see him in more.

But, my actual reason for choosing him is because he embodies my imaginary picture in my mind of Newt Scamander – lanky, charming, a bit goofy, and able to pull off 20s gear like nobody’s business.


Add to that, that Tom has already proven he can do the roaring twenties by playing F. Scott Fitzgerald in Midnight in Paris (2011), so we know he fits the decade well…

midnight in paris
Tom (as F. Scott Fitzgerald) with his co-star, Alison Pill (as Zelda Fitzgerald) in 2011’s Midnight in Paris

…And that he’s just one of the best up-and-coming actors at the moment, and you have my #1 choice for Newt Scamander.

Even though it seems to be a no-brainer, there are a few things standing in the way of him being cast in the role, though – namely the fact that he’s already very well-known as Loki in the Marvel Universe.

I’m not sure that they’d go with someone who is so recognizable as another character, no matter how wonderful he is.

Since he is such a great actor and quite popular, I do still have hopes that he could be cast, which is why I put his likelihood at two out of five stars.

My new favourite choice:


julian morris
D.O.B.: January 13, 1983
(Fun fact: Also Orlando Bloom’s birthday (1977) – what a day for attractive people!)
Place of Birth: London, England, UK
Likelihood that he’ll be cast: *1/2 /5

If you haven’t heard of Julian Morris, I wouldn’t blame you.

I first saw him on Pretty Little Liars, as Wren Kingston – a mysterious and shady character, as most characters on that show are.

Sure, Wren just seems like an awesome, sweet, romantic doctor, but he's about to kiss his fiancee's younger sister here!  *GASP*
Sure, Wren just seems like an awesome, sweet, romantic doctor, but he’s about to kiss his fiancee’s younger sister here! *GASP*

He followed that up with a role as Prince Phillip on Once Upon a Time. Where he really caught my attention, though, was just recently as Ryan, the love interest of Zooey Deschanel’s Jessica Day on New Girl.

I think he could be the perfect mix of bumbling and gentleman, but at the same time, since he proved he can play someone a bit more questionable on Pretty Little Liars, there’s a bit of an edgy side there – like someone who just might want to mix with dragons, basilisks and hippogriffs!

Also, on a purely superficial level – he’s just adorable!

Wooing Jess - and us impressionable viewers - on New Girl
Wooing Jess – and us impressionable viewers – on New Girl

The reason I only gave him a one-and-half star chance though, because I’m not sure how well known he is.. Having really only been on TV shows in the last couple of years, he may only be at “TV Star” level right now.

He’s my dark horse, long-shot hope though!

The guy that I thought Julian Morris was when he first came on New Girl, until I realized they were different people:


Is it just me, or do they look at least a bit alike?
Is it just me, or do they look at least a bit alike?

D.O.B.: August 20, 1981
Place of Birth: London, England, UK
Likelihood that he’ll be cast: **/5

To be totally honest, when I was watching New Girl, it really didn’t click for me that Ryan was played by the same actor who was Wren. Instead, for a little while, I thought he was Ben Barnes, who I remembered from the film Stardust.

Ben Barnes, I feel, is the movie-equivalent of Julian Morris. He has been in a few different fantasy movies by now (Stardust, two Chronicles of Narnia films), so we know he’d be fine with possibly working with a lot of CGI and green screens.

As much as I'd like to believe Liam Neeson is just THAT good as an actor that he turned himself into a lion... he did not, and the lion is most certainly computer-generated.
As much as I’d like to believe Liam Neeson is just THAT good as an actor that he turned himself into a lion… he did not, and the lion is most certainly computer-generated.

The troublesome part with him – and what knocked him down to a two out of five rather than two-and-a-half or higher – is that the most recent movie he headlined, Seventh Son, didn’t do all that well critically or at the box office, and, frankly, it really did look pretty terrible.

On top of that, there still seems to be another Narnia movie in the works (even though the last one was over five years ago), so if he’s signed on for more of those that’d complicate things.

And continuing with the actors from Stardust:


charlie cox

D.O.B.: December 15, 1982
Place of Birth: London, England, UK
Likelihood that he’ll be cast: */5

I honestly don’t think Charlie Cox has a chance whatsoever, particularly because he is now the lead in his own show – Daredevil – which is premiering next month.

I thought I’d still add him in though on the off-chance that Daredevil doesn’t fare well (we know it didn’t for Ben Affleck!) and because, funnily enough, when I saw Stardust years ago, I was much more enamored with Ben Barnes than Charlie Cox (even though he was only in the movie for, maybe, twenty minutes? But now I have seen Charlie Cox in more).

Now, years later, Charlie Cox is still doing quite well for himself in the entertainment world.

I was impressed with him most when he came on Boardwalk Empire as Owen Sleater.

On a show where it was easy to get irritated with characters, he was one of the likable ones. Much like Tom Hiddleston, he’s proven he can do twenties style from his time on there, so that’s a definite plus for him.

He also did a fine Irish accent, should they want an Irish Newt Scamander!
He also did a fine Irish accent, should they want an Irish Newt Scamander!

But, because of his good fortune of landing the role of Matt Murdock aka Daredevil, I think he’s the longest of my long-shot choices.

If we’re talking British people, who’s more British than The Doctor?!


matt smithD.O.B.: October 28, 1982
Place of Birth: Northampton, Northamptonshire, England, UK
Likelihood that he’ll be cast: */5

Speaking of long-shots…

The chances that Matt Smith would be picked to play Newt Scamander are very low because he is another one of those actors who was only just very recently tied to a beloved series – Doctor Who.

Matt Smith played Eleventh Doctor from 2010-14, and was my personal favourite incarnation of The Doctor.
Matt Smith played Eleventh Doctor from 2010-14, and was my personal favourite incarnation of The Doctor.

As the Eleventh Doctor, though, he embodied a lot of what I’d like to see in Newt Scamander – curiosity, fun and a healthy dose of silliness.

There's a reason he's known as a Discombobulated Cat or Drunk Giraffe...
There’s a reason he’s known as a Discombobulated Cat or Drunk Giraffe…

I’m not exactly sure why I think Newt Scamander will be a bit of a goof or that the movie might have some zaniness to it, it might be because of J.K. Rowling’s hint at a synopsis:

Newt Scamander only meant to stay in New York for a few hours.

Somehow, that has led me to believe he is going to get himself into some madcap adventures. (This may also be influenced by my love of Silent Movies and that one of my favourite parts of the twenties is the one and only, Buster Keaton).

With that being the case, and these thoughts of a wild ol’ time in the Roaring Twenties in my head, Matt Smith could be a perfect choice.

But after years of playing the Eleventh Doctor, he may want to just move on to more stand-alone roles rather than another lofty series with a huge heaping of eager fans, in which case, this wouldn’t be the role for him.

A suggestion I saw online that I kind of got on-board with:


harry lloydD.O.B.: November 17, 1983
Place of Birth: London, England, UK
Likelihood that he’ll be cast: ** 1/2 /5

Interesting fact about Harry Lloyd – he is the great-grandson (a few times over, great-great-great-grandson?) of Charles Dickens! If you’re going to turn a literary character into flesh and blood, a relative of a Charles Dickens probably isn’t a terrible way to go.

My only experience with Mr. Lloyd is the few episodes that I watched of Game of Thrones, where he sported a platinum wig that would make Lucius and Draco Malfoy jealous.

Seriously, we got ourselves another Malfoy with this hair...
Seriously, we got ourselves another Malfoy with this hair…

With that in mind, when I read an article where someone else had suggested him, I couldn’t really see it… But then I saw what he looked like in real life and could see the possibility a bit more.

Aside from his playing Viserys Targaryen and a guest spot on two episodes of Doctor Who, I can’t comment on his acting ability, but he’s got the look that I imagine.

If he isn’t busy doing anything else in the next couple of years, he could be a contender.

Might I also add, he wins points from me for having a name very similar to silent movie actor, Harold Lloyd.

Now the problem with my choices is that on the scale of mid-twenties to early-thirties, I skew a bit more to the later half, likely because I am in the middle of this scale myself (…okay, I’m inching toward the older side *shudder*), so am drawn to the actors in their thirties.

Unfortunately, curmudgeonly old-folk as I am, I don’t know very many up-and-coming 22 to 25 year olds off the top of my head who could play Newt convincingly and possibly hold up an entire series. The only one I could think of was Nicholas Houltbut much like Tom Hiddleston, he’s already tied to a super-film series in the X-Men, so I don’t know that that’d allow for time for a whole new series in the next few years.

Another young actor I’ve heard rumblings about, though, is: Luke Newberry.

The one I just found out about:


luke newberry2

D.O.B.: February 19, 1990
Place of Birth: Exeter, Devon, England, UK
Likelihood that he’ll be cast: ***/5

The interesting thing about Luke Newberry is that he was originally cast as a character in the epilogue of Deathly Hallows: Part 2, but his part was cut.

He already seems to have Hedwig's stamp of approval!
He already seems to have Hedwig’s stamp of approval!

SO, he is already known to the Harry Potter family, and he didn’t get a chance to strut his acting chops yet.

Could this mean he’s a front-runner? Possibly so!

If they already know him and like him, they may want to give him a fair shot.

There is apparently also already a massive fan base online rooting for him, so if the casting directors take fan-favourite into consideration, he definitely seems to be it.

I’m not sure when the actual casting announcement will be made, but I am eager to see if I got anywhere close.  Maybe they’ll decide to go the same route as the Harry Potter movies and bank on a totally new and fresh face, but, as you can see from my choices above, they do have a lot of great talent to choose from…

Are there any actors who you think should be cast in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them?  Let us know in the comments or on twitter.

Until my next post!


Ranking of Best Picture Oscar Winners

Sunita aka   here!

With the Oscars airing tomorrow, I thought I would try to rank all the Best Picture winners from least enjoyable to watch to the greatest picture I have ever seen. I have seen all but 4 of the best picture winners from the past, so those four will not be included in the list.

Ranking Criteria, as thought up with the help of my counterpart, PJ:

  • How much I liked it
  • Re-watchability
  • How much I actually remember it
  • Nostalgia factor

Nothing really technical, nothing really over the top. They are mostly being ranked based on how much I liked it. Here goes:

Not included:

1928/1929 – “The Broadway Melody”

1932/1933 – “Cavalcade”

1948 – “Hamlet”

1980 – “Ordinary People”



Listed from least liked to most:

82 – 1963 – “Tom Jones”

81 – 1938 – “You Can’t Take It with You”

80 – 1998 – “Shakespeare in Love”

79 – 1996 – “The English Patient”

78 – 1930/1931 – “Cimarron”

77 – 1944 – “Going My Way”

76 – 1971 – “The French Connection”

75 – 1983 – “Terms of Endearment”

74 – 1969 – “Midnight Cowboy”

73 – 1929/1930 – “All Quiet on the Western Front”

72 – 1979 – “Kramer vs. Kramer”

71 – 1999 – “American Beauty”

70 – 1977 – “Annie Hall”

69 – 1984 – “Amadeus”

68 – 1990 – “Dances With Wolves”

67 – 1936 – “The Great Ziegfeld”

66 – 1942 – “Mrs. Miniver”

65 – 1985 – “Out of Africa”

64 – 1958 – “Gigi”

63 – 1986 – “Platoon”

62 – 2009 – “The Hurt Locker”

61 – 1995 – “Braveheart”

60 – 1991 – “The Silence of the Lambs”

59 – 1951 – “An American in Paris”

58 – 2000 – “Gladiator”

57 – 1968 – “Oliver!”

56 – 2001 – “A Beautiful Mind”

55 – 1981 – “Chariots of Fire”

54 – 1952 – “The Greatest Show on Earth”

53 – 1961 – “West Side Story”

52 – 1978 – “The Deer Hunter”

51 – 1989 – “Driving Miss Daisy”

50 – 2005 – “Crash”

49 – 1946 – “The Best Years of Our Lives”

48 – 1956 – “Around the World in 80 Days” 

47 – 1964 – “My Fair Lady”

46 – 1975 – “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest”

45 – 1988 – “Rain Man”

44 – 1945 – “The Lost Weekend”

43 – 1960 – “The Apartment”

42 – 2007 – “No Country for Old Men”

41 – 2012 – “Argo” 

40 – 1935 – “Mutiny on the Bounty”

39 – 1970 – “Patton”

38 – 1950 – “All About Eve”

37 – 1967 – “In the Heat of the Night”

36 – 1966 – “A Man for All Seasons”

35 – 1973 – “The Sting”

34 – 2004 – “Million Dollar Baby”

33 – 1937 – “The Life of Emile Zola”

32 – 1941 – “How Green Was My Valley”

31 – 1949 – “All the Kings Men”

30 – 2006 – “The Departed”

29 – 1934 – “It Happened One Night”

28 – 1953 – “From Here to Eternity”

27 – 1940 – “Rebecca”

26 – 1947 – “Gentleman’s Agreement”

25 – 1931/1932 – “Grand Hotel”

24 – 2011 – 12 Years A Slave

23 – 1957 – “The Bridge on the River Kwai”

22 – 2010 – “The King’s Speech”

21 – 1987 – “The Last Emperor”

20 – 1954 – “On the Waterfront”

19 – 1955 – “Marty”

18 – 1962 – “Lawrence of Arabia”

17 – 1927/1928 – “Wings”

16 – 1993 – “Schindler’s List”

15 – 1959 – “Ben-Hur”

14 – 1992 – “Unforgiven”

13 – 2011 – “The Artist”

12 – 2008 – “Slumdog Millionaire”

11 – 1974 – “The Godfather Part II”

10 – 1994 – “Forrest Gump”

9 – 2002 – “Chicago”

8- 1965 – “The Sound of Music”

7 – 1976 – “Rocky”

6- 1943 – “Casablanca”

5 – 2003 – “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”

4 – 1997 – “Titanic”

3 – 1939 – “Gone with the Wind”

2 – 1982 – “Gandhi”

1 – 1972 – “The Godfather”

Does Boyhood really deserve an Oscar?

With the Academy Awards airing this Sunday, there’s always one big question on everyone’s minds:

What will win Best Picture?

The last 40 years Oscar-winning Best Pictures.  But how many truly deserved to win?
The last 40 years of Oscar-winning Best Pictures (minus last year’s “12 Years as Slave” which had yet to win).  How many truly deserved to win?

This year there are two clear front-runners: Birdman – a tale of a washed-up star trying to make his way back into the limelight after his past fame portraying a superhero, and Boyhood – the story of a boy, his family and his adolescent life.

“A moving 12 year epic” …that felt like it took 12 years to watch.

Both borrow from real life in a sense. Birdman stars Michael Keaton, who once played a superhero himself  – Batman.  Boyhood shows glimpses into the relatively normal life of a (fictional) boy over twelve years.

The story of a star making his way back up in the ranks is an obvious one that Hollywood would take to, but what makes Boyhood so special? Why has it been getting so much praise and so many accolades?

The reason is that director Richard Linklater actually shot the film over the course of twelve years.

Every year, for just over eleven years — from May 2002 to August 2013 — the cast – Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Lorelei Linklater and the leading “boy” of Boyhood, Ellar Coltrane, would get together for a few days, shoot some scenes and that is how this film was born.

It was a huge and interesting endeavor, but is that a good enough reason to give a film a Best Picture Oscar?

In my opinion, no.

Whether a film deserves an award depends on the film and the product that comes out of those eleven or twelve years of filming, not just the novel fact that it was filmed over that time-frame.

Personally, I found that Boyhood isn’t a sparkling piece of art, so much as just random moments and snapshots in a boy’s life.

We rarely ever get a true sense of how he really feels or what he wants out of his life. When there actually are traumatic events happening around him, we get no sense of how he is reacting inside to them because he very blandly just passes from one phase to the next.

To be honest, the film is called “Boyhood,” but could have just as easily been called “Family Life.”  There is little to make the title boy character, Mason Jr, stand out.  There is no real internal monologue for him, so we never really get a good sense of who he is inside and how the changes in his life are impacting him, anymore than we do his sister or mother.

If this was a movie made in one year with different actors for each stage of life, it likely would be getting less than half the attention that it is now.  The editing was choppy, the story was non-existent and the premise – if shot in a year – would just be silly and mocked for not actually having a purpose or premise.

The best way for me to put this is in the frame of my past as a History major: the movie lacked a thesis.

There was no real cohesive idea that we could hold to about where this was heading or why we were watching it. The random glimpses of Mason’s life, to me, were akin to piling a bunch of snippets of facts and quotes into a paper without actually telling us what you were hoping to prove with all of that.

Maybe Linklater and others would argue that that’s precisely the point of the film – to not have a neat and tidy “thesis” or “point” because life, itself, isn’t like that…

But, if you ask me, life may not be like that, but an interesting movie should be!

So, will Boyhood win on Sunday? We’ll have to wait and see.

About a month ago, when the Golden Globes happened, everyone seemed quite enamored with it.  But, over the past few weeks that love seems to have cooled.  Many people are opening up more about the same types of criticisms I drew above, which means that the shiny novelty and excitement over a movie that was shot for more than a decade may have actually worn off.

I’ve only seen one of the other nominees at this point – The Grand Budapest Hotel so I can’t make a judgement on what I think deserves to win of the nominees. I can safely say, though, even having not seen the other six, that I’m sure at least one of them outdoes Boyhood in overall movie-making. (Even The Grand Budapest Hotel, with it’s sometimes convoluted and difficult-to-follow plot, was much more interesting, beautifully made and entertaining, to say the least).

I will agree, though, that Richard Linklater deserves the Oscar for Best Director for coming up with this ingenious and creative idea to film a movie with the same actors over twelve years.

[As an aside, I did wonder from the get-go if he got this idea from realizing we’d be watching the adolescent cast of the Harry Potter films grow up over the decade spanning 20012011, but have yet to find any proof of this fact. Linklater DID include Harry Potter a number of times in his film, which leads me to believe that maybe it WAS a bit of an inspiration…]

Even though I do not believe it necessarily deserves an Oscar, part of me hopes Boyhood will win because… well… now I’ve seen it and I’d like to add another movie to the list of Oscar-winning films I’ve seen!