#FF [1] - links + some awesome stuff

So, here we go. My very first Follow Friday (aka #FF hashtag on twitter) post, that will (obviously) be posted on every Friday with some interesting links to movie blogs I've read through the week. I'll also try to include as much information as possible about the news in movie & TV industry.

>> Sneak peak of Meleficent premiered on Tuesday, introducing some very beautiful scenes, Angelina Jolie's fascinating performance and Lana Del Ray's another masterpiece soundtrack




(Top) 10 Actors Whose Careers Went Down After They Won Oscars

I can't imagine an actor not willing to win any award for their work, especially Oscar. I agree that six figure check is the best compensation, alongside the huge crowd of fans, but still - it's a great honor. Winning Academy Awards is especially crucial if it's in the beginning of your career, because it dramatically changes your chances to become a megastar. At least, this is what every Oscar nominee hopes for, but some of them maybe now willing that they never won the Gold. 

Here are the "honorable mentions":
  • Kim Basinger winning for L.A. Confidential
  • Roberto Benigni winning for Life is Beautiful

And the (top) 10 list:

10 Reasons Why I'M Excited about 86th Oscars Ceremony

I have a friend, who can't understand why I've been spending sleepless nights to watch Academy Awards ceremony for years, I still can read about the winners next day. He's got some logic, but what my friend is incapable to understand is the whole extent of excitement of watching the show itself. I've not missed any of them since 2007 ceremony, when The Departed won trophy.

I have my expectations for every year, my wishlist and reasons why I watch it. So, here are TEN reasons why we can't wait for March 2, 2014.

Movie Review: Blue Jasmine [2013]

When I am asked who is my favorite director, Woody Allen's name never comes up in the first place. But I have to admit that I've loved almost every his movie, including To Rome With Love, that shall not be compared to any other Allen's previous or current works. Blue Jasmine can be he one of the best works, at least what I have seen.

Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) is a former millionaire, living in New York City, with handsome and rich husband, attending all glamorous parties in the city and hosting a number of them; a friend to many important people. But one day all these ended, because her husband Hal (Alec Baldwin) was arrested for fraud and it took Jasmine's whole wealth. Having lost everything, the only place to go is her sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins), living her messy life in San Francisco.

The movie is a terrific look at a person who fell down from a very top of the world, a person who had a fancy apartment on Manhattan and now begging for a shelter. It's a spectacular lesson of failure and diligent attempts to rise again.

Top 10 Female Performances on Television of All Time

Out of 116 TV series and TV movies I've watched, I decided to choose my most favorite performances. We begin with actresses who created most iconic characters for me, delivering heartbreaking and funny performances that made me spend many long hours at the screen.

Honorable mentions:
  • Lisa Kudrow Friends
  • Sofia Vergara Modern Family
  • Tina Fey 30 Rock
  • Sarah Jessica Parker Sex and the City
  • Christina Hendricks Mad Men
  • Jennifer Carpenter Dexter
My top choices are:

Movie Review: August: Osage County [2013]

"Meryl Streep proves there are still great roles for "Meryl Streeps over 60" - Tina Fey & Amy Poehler at Golden Globes.

August: Osage County is adapted from a Tony Award winning play with the same name, by Tracy Letts, who turns out to be author of stage play too.

Weston family gathers after tragic loss of Mr. Beverly Weston (Sam Shepard) who unexpectedly commuted suicide. A family of a dozen member, reunites to support eccentric matriarch Violet (Meryl Streep) who more suffers from mouth cancer then absence of her departed husband. Beverly and Violet had three daughters Barbara (Julia Roberts), Ivy (Julianne Nicholson) and Karen (Juliette Lewis). Barbara is having hard times in her marriage, almost divorcing from long time partner Bill (Ewan McGregor). However, they both try, and sometimes overtry to be a good parents to 14-year-old Jean (Abigail Breslin) - a typical teenager willing to experience new things in her life as soon as possible. Violet's sister Mattie (Margo Martindale) joins them with her husband Charlie (Chris Cooper) and son Little Charles (Benedict Cumberbatch).

Beverly's death is not the biggest drama in this movie, because that massive family with such different people, who all have their reasons to be mad at each other, is simply tragic, a bomb that can be exploded in any moment for any given reason. And this obviously happens, easily.

Top 10 Drama TV Episodes of 2013 (Excl. Breaking Bad)

2013 was a great year, many of my favorite shows premiered, or aired new seasons. Here are my top ten TV Drama episodes of 2013, which does not include any of Breaking Bad episode, because I have not watched it yet. Whenever I finish it, I know I have to updated this list, but as for now, there are my favorites:

*spoiler alarm*
American Horror Story has become one of my favorite show after terrifying first and phenomenal second season. Despite having quite mixed feelings about Coven, BITCHCRAFT was a great episode, introducing new theme of show. It is brilliant from the opening scene to the end. Bringing together new characters, telling different stories from the past and uniting them in the present.

I found BITCHCRAFT to be phenomenal start.
Under the Dome is either hated or loved. As a great fan of King, I loved this show. It had its ups and downs but final episode of season one was quite shocking. It suggest many plot twists, putting major characters in danger, turning darkness into lights etc. And most importantly, it tips very carefully about what happens in season two. Reason I liked CURTAINS is that it somehow concludes story and opens many other question for next season too. Cliffhanger in the ending is always fun to watch, especially when this cliffhanger shocks you.

PGA made it harder: which movie wins Oscar?

Producers Guild of America, which correctly predicted last 6 Oscar Best Picture winners, was the greatest hope for award pundits this year, because PGA had to answer the most important question of the year: Which movie wins major Oscar in March? Whole race comes down to three motion pictures: American Hustle, Gravity and 12 Years a Slave.

After last nights PGA awards, it's got more complicated, cause there was an impossible tie for Best Picture between 12 Years a Slave and Gravity. PGA uses preferential voting system, just like the Academy, and with over 4,000 members voting, two winners is mathematically impossible, almost. In order to have a tie in any category voted according to preferential system, both movies shall have the same amount of #1, #2, #3... #10 votes, otherwise one of them wins. It seems that votes were split in a surprisingly exact way. I am quite sure, the same does not happen at Oscars and I still have not idea if any of these movies is a shoo-in winner.

Movie Review: Saving Mr. Banks [2013]

Saving Mr. Banks is warm and beautiful story about author of Mary Poppins - P. L. Travers (Emma Thompson) and creator of movie with the same name - Walt Disney (Tom Hanks). It brings all good memories, great feeling and enjoyment ever experienced while watching or reading Mary Poppins (never, ever just Mary). 

Movie focuses on a meeting between Travers and Disney after 20 years when Walter asked for adaptation rights to P.L. for the first time. Mrs Travers, who's been quite stubborn  during negotiations, decides to herself participate in movie-making process to assure that her favorite Marry Poppins is properly adopted. And if she likes working with Disney, she has promised to grant the rights for production. The problem is that she's not an easy person to work with and Walter has his own vision of filming it, which he might not be willing to change.

And they meet you. You can't imagine how different those two people are. Pamela Travers, being a true British person, expects to be treated with a great respect - calling her Mrs Travers and talking to her in a most polite & official way. Mr. Disney, on the contrary, is the most open and sociable person, who is friend to every person working around him, only such a happy man could make the happiest films in history.

And the Oscar nominees are...

This is what we have been waiting for so many days, tracked so many awards and film festivals. Here are the nominees for 86th Academy Awards, announces by Chris Hemsworth and Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs.

Best Motion Picture
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
Gravity
Her
Nebraska
Philomena
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street

Movie Review: Her [2013]

Excuse me Siri, but Scarlett is better, a lot better!

Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) is a lonely man, who just went through a divorce from childhood sweetheart Catherine (Rooney Mara). Shortly after that, he stopped being sociable - no dating, no friends, just work and video games. The same time, Theodore has the most romantic job ever - he writes love letters instead of people who can not express their feelings in writing.

Mr. Twombly's life is not something one should be envy of. He literally moves in between his work place and apartment, having zero contact with other people. Most likely, Theodore lives in averagely distant future, since computers & operating systems are extremely smart and comfortable, doing any job humans don't wish to do - from writing letters, to reading, sorting and collecting emails, organizing calendars, planning meeting and taking cares of their owners...

Introduction with Twombly is followed by major plot twist - he buys a new operating system called Samantha (Scarlett Johansson) with the sexiest possible voice and extreme curiosity, which tends her  to discover "everything about everything". Theodore, who is not get used to be taken care by somebody, as awkwardly as it sounds falls in love with OS. Naturally, the first reaction of me and any other person is "what? really? how", but while they explore their "relationship" this questions fade away. Spike Jones very smart, original, well built screenplay opens and answers a lot questions by dragging you into this complicated relationship. Obviously, Her is not mostly about "human falls in love with program", everything happening between those two characters can happen to everyone and this is what movie actually discuss.

2014 Golden Globe Predictions

Less then 10 hours left before one of major awards this year. Already tomorrow, we'll know who's most probably going to win Oscars. Golden Globe is also important because it is the biggest award for TV Series and movies made for television. Here are my predicted winners of this Globe season:

Motion Picture Categories
Best Picture (Drama)
Gravity

Best Picture (Musical or Comedy)
American Hustle

Director
Alfonso Cuaron for Gravity

Movie Review: The Wolf of Wall Street [2013]

Maybe the best director-actor couple team up once again to make something they have not done either together or separately. The Wolf of Wall Street is absolutely different film for both, Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio, two people who have brought to us The Aviator, The Departed and Gangs of New York. And I shall say that The Wolf is not alike any of them, because, at least, it is a confusing mixture of comedy and drama. Frankly, I never thought of Martin directing a comedy. Well, he took his chance.

Movie tells a story of Jordan Belfort (Leo) a wealthy stockbroker who has grown to most influential person on The Wall Street. Based on the book by Belfort himself, it tells a precise and detailed story how Jordan raised from very bottom to the very top of stock empire with assistance of bunch of weed sellers. But it is not just a story of success, but it is a story of failure & addiction to things most young and rich people suffer from: greed, drugs, alcohol, prostitutes, corruption.

In the first half of film, which lasts god damn three hours, we see how amazingly Jordan creates his empire, how he understands concept of working on stock market, how he steals into minds of costumers. I would say, he as a businessman has flair - a key to success in any field you work. And also, he is greedy, which is good, because as long as you are wanting more, you get more, but whenever you cross the line of legality, you start failing. This is what Martin tried to illustrate in another half of The Wolf.

Movie Review: Dallas Buyers Club [2013]

I rarely have a great anticipation for quiet movies like Dallas Buyers Club, but when I watch them, almost never get  disappointed. That also applies to Jean-Marc VallĂ©e's movie about mid 80's AIDS crises. Film tells a story of Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) -  a homophobic hustler who is diagnosed with HIV and his confrontational fight for survival.

Ron is a typical Texas guy, who is "of course" into women and thinks that HIV is a disease only for gays. Spending days smoking pot, drinking in company of some ladies, he never thought that he could possible be infected. But when one day Woodroof blacks out the doctors tell an unfortunate news - he is going to die in a very short time. While being at the hospital for trials, he meets an infected transgender Rayon (Jared Leto), who later becomes his partner in business. But at the beginning he is just a jerk making all these homophobic remarks. 

As regular treatments do not work and Ron's health condition becomes more and more vulnerable, he decides to take care of himself by stealing a particular medicine AZT, but it has its side effects and Woodroof once again finds himself back in hospital. That's why he starts to look for other ways to survive, finding a help from a Mexican drug dealer, Dr. Vass who believes that cocktail of some drugs and vitamins can stop development of HIV. But this medicine is not approved by FDA (Food and Drug administration), so it is illegal to sell them on the territory of United States. Ron decides to import this drug "for his own use", which falls within the scope of the law. As time goes by, he feels that it helps and decides to share it with other HIV+ people. For this reason, he and Rayon establish Dallas Buyers Club - a club with members, who get treatment for free (which is not sale and it does not contradict regulations), but they have to pay a monthly membership fee. Despite that, there are plenty of people willing to become members and Woodroof's business expands quite quickly. He finally gets along with transgenders and gays quite well, even protecting them from other homophobic heterosexuals. 

Movie Review: Captain Phillips [2013]

Movies based on true events have one big shortcoming - you know the end and predictability is probably one of the worst things in film. But sometimes even these kind of works are so brilliant that you forget everything you know and just marvel.

Paul Greengrass - an Oscar nominee director of United 93 - brings another epic heroic story of Captain Richard Phillips, captain of US-flagged Maersk Alabama, hijacked by pirates in 2009, who saved his plot putting himself in inconceivable danger.

Captain Phillips is a two-hour long movie, which takes place either on Maersk Alabama or lifeboat of Maersk Alabama. So, if you are not prepared to watch the same sets from different camera angles for such a long time, you better get prepared, otherwise you are going to miss the one of the greatest action movies, one can ever see. If you have seen United 93, just imagine a movie with more action, better cast and technical perfection - that is Captain Phillips.

Movie Review: 12 Years a Slave [2013]

Next film on my Oscar watch list was Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave - a very beloved movie about true story of a freeman, Solomon Northup, being unlawfully enslaved for 12 years. Based on a book by Northup himself, the movie takes to a emotional and hard journey with a man from New York, betrayed by friends.

12 Years a Slave is this Oscar season's most talked movie - it's almost last year's Lincoln (I've not mentioned Spielberg's movie  by chance). 

Solomon (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is a free man, based in Saratoga, NY with his wife and two children, living a free and enjoyable life. He is a musician and masterfully plays violin. One day he gets a very nice offer to join a circus in Washington D.C. and he does not refuse - that's where it begins. Northup is being resold to number different owners who differently treat him, some are more humble and appreciate his music talent, for instance, Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch) and some are more severe just like Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender)- the last proprietor. But he survives all of them, because he is right, he is free and he knows what freedom means. 

The movie is a very well done picture in every sense started from production design to directing, writing and acting. It successfully meets any award formula to be called the best, but is it really that good? Well, not really. It does not mean that "masterful" and brilliant, as said.