Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematography. This is what the academy awarded this movie with in 2015. I tend not to rely on the Oscar’s to deem what great filmmaking is, however they are absolutely right with this one. “Birdman” is a masterful film directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu. It follows a fading actor whom is known for his role as a popular superhero Birdman. He attempts to make a comeback in the form of a Broadway play, along the way he is faced with difficulty reconnecting with his daughter, technical difficulties and hearing Birdman’s voice within himself.
Exceptional from beginning to end. “Birdman” exceeded my already high expectations. Beginning with the cinematography, the films one-take-shot appearance was done incredibly effectively. Panning shots replace cuts in an ambitious and flawless fashion. Mimicking that of actual live theatre. The music paired with these scene transitions is so effective and bombastic!
Michael Keaton was fantastic in this film, definitely one of his best performances to date. Perfect casting seeing as he’s a late actor now and formally was known for portraying Batman in the Tim Burton films. Everybody else (Emma Stone, Edward Norton, Zach Galifianakis, etc) flowed seamlessly in the story too. I loved the introduction of Birdman’s voice talking, nagging and criticizing Riggan. Also the “superpowers” coupled with his clear descent into madness and depression was great. There’s quite a lot of visual effects in this at various parts of the film that had the average moviegoer confused. Many thought this movie was an “action superhero flick” at its most basic definition. This is definitely not the case and the film is much much more than that.
The film sparks up a great discussion on fame, being haunted by a role and staying relevant. These themes made for some really powerful scenes full of emotion and melancholy. But also plenty of dark-comedy to go around! Absolutely stunning and I loved every moment of it. I could only dream and wish that filmmakers would always take such measures to create amazing works of art like this. It’s one of those Best Picture winners that actually made sense completely to me. I’m looking forward to seeing many more works from Alejandro in the future, this film and “The Revenant are so beyond what many directors of this time can accomplish.
I can see why to many this film might be “problematic” to the LGBTQ community. Many wanted it to be a representation of Bisexuality or at least Bi-Curious culture. However, being a “bi woman” myself I didn’t find it offensive for the most part. I actually enjoyed it more than I thought I would! The plot goes as follows. Alex Truelove has been best friends with Claire for a long time. After kissing one night they begin dating. Although, after 8 months they still haven’t had sex. Determined to lose his virginity, Alex plans a special night in a hotel with Claire. Alex then meets Elliot at a party, an openly gay teenager whom Alex bonds with immediately. Eventually, Alex begins to question his feelings towards Elliot and his own sexuality.
So seeing as this Netflix movie and “Love Simon” came out the same year, it’s clear that comparisons will be made. I would say I enjoyed this movie about as much as “Love Simon”, I had issues with both but in different ways. Many of the things I really enjoyed about this film centered around the writers not tip-toeing around sex! “Love Simon” felt like a more romanticized version of high-school, whereas this felt more real. I liked the idea of comparing animals mating within the wild to high-school students, not an overly new concept (Mean Girls) but it worked within this film. They also didn’t shy away from the concept of experimentation and sexuality correlating.
All that being said so far, there was also homophobia riddled throughout this film that was very distracting to me. Is it realistic? Well yeah, but it’s coming from Alex’s “friends” and doesn’t end with any consequences. One friend even basically sexually harasses Alex by flashing him and it’s never brought up again! It’s not okay to include that within a movie and not follow-through on what actually would happen in those type of situations. Then all of those “friends” just are okay by the end of the film? It didn’t really add up.
Back to positives though. The film has some good humor, for example the entire drug-tripping scene was fantastic! Also the actors portraying Alex and Elliot actually had really cute chemistry. I could believe they would become attracted to each other and ultimately date. I also thought Alex and Claire had great chemistry, though obviously in a different way. I believed more in this romance story than in “Love Simon”, though both were “heart-warming”.
Overall, another decent LGBTQ film. If you’re a fan of these kind of films, then go watch it! If not, well you won’t be missing masterpiece necessarily but its a fun watch. The message drives home enough at the end where it didn’t feel completely overlooked. I would actually be interested in a sequel to this, whereas “Love Simon” does not have that same feeling. Yeah Alex and Elliot have their Cinderella dance moment at the end, but what about creating an actual relationship? Give us the real, full-picture tea! Though I’m doubting that may happen because I have heard little to no buzz about it. Fans can only hope.
This honestly was my most anticipated Oscar nominated movie of 2018. “Call me by your name” is based on a book by André Aciman. It’s plot centers around Elio (played by Timothee Chalamet), a 17-year-old boy who lives in Italy with his father and mother. His father’s 24-year-old American assistant Oliver (played by Armie Hammer) comes to stay with the family over the summer. As everyone adjusts to Oliver being there, Elio starts to develop a strong connection with Oliver. One that both confuses him and intrigues him.
Any LGBTQ centered movie I will always support, whether it’s portrayed correctly and with respect is the question. The director (Luca Guadagnino) both captures the beauty of Italy, the elegance of the French language and the affection of two people falling in love so perfectly that it brought me to tears. This movie is written, shot and composed breathtakingly. There are so many filmed shots in this that looked unreal and just showcased architecture that made me drool.
I immediately downloaded the entire soundtrack, which is comprised of various piano centered pieces and amazing tracks from Sufjan Stevens. Everything together just just perfect. The actors all brought their A-game, especially Timothee Chalamet. Though I do think Armie Hammer as Oliver looks slightly older than he should (he’s meant to be 24 to Elio’s 17), his performance makes up for this nit-pick. The emotion flowing through each actor had me feeling exactly how they felt in that moment.As I’ve stated before in previous posts, romantic chemistry in film that feels believable is so hard to come by! This film made it feel like it flowed so effortlessly. First loves are complicated, awkward, exciting, panicking and much much more. We get various representations of these throughout this movie and it’s so relatable and engaging to watch.
I also love that this movie didn’t shy away from the harsh reality of first love, age differences and what its like to grapple with your own sexuality. This movie will make you emotional! Don’t expect your average romance story-telling, this film is so much deeper than that. Please go see it if you haven’t already, it’s a work of art.
Gaga is continuing her acting career and I am LIVING for it! Marking the 4th remake of the iconic stardom film. “A Star Is Born” follows a hard-drinking musician who discovers and falls in love with a younger undiscovered singer.
Bradley Cooper somehow found a way to remake a pretty basic film plot that’s already been done before 3 times and make it feel fresh again! That’s a pretty amazing feat if I do say so myself. Both him and Gaga have this amazing chemistry on screen and make their romance/connection so believable. I fell in love with their love, which is very important in a film like this. Also Sam Elliott should not be overlooked, he was fantastic as well! There were no weak actors.
All of the major points in the film hit hard, though I did find Gaga’s transition from unknown to famous a little too obvious sometimes. Though it was “realistic” we didn’t actually need her to be on SNL, I would’ve preferred a show like it without the famous name. Since Gaga herself is already a famous musician, it felt strange to have her not as herself play on SNL. It was meta, but not meaning to be. Though it wasn’t distracting enough for me to dislike the film, the relationship between our two characters and seeing Jack fall is where the film shines.
The soundtrack is actually really really good. I had no idea Bradley Cooper could sing and he plays off with Gaga’s vocals so well! I downloaded the soundtrack immediately. This film brings out all emotion and tugs at your heartstrings. Very well done , if a few points in this film were tweaked it would’ve been perfect.The film was awarded “best original song” I believe and it was well deserved.
Wowzers I did not expect this one to be in my top 5 from this year already! Described as a “musical-fantasy biopic” this film tells the life/career of famous eccentric singer Elton John.
Seeing the trailer for this, I’m not gonna lie I was very excited for this film. I’d seen Taron Egerton is a few movies from the past and thought he was charming, but I wasn’t sure how he’d be in this film. Holy shit…did he PERFORM! We’ll get more into that later on this post, but it had to be said outright! Many people are comparing this to “Bohemian Rhapsody” that came out last year for obvious reasons. Both are about famous musicians rise to stardom, while also claiming to give us entertainment and behind the scenes looks into their lives. Yes I’m aware that “Bohemian Rhapsody” was said to be about Queen and not just Freddie Mercury, but let’s be real here. They marketed it as a Freddie movie, he’s the only one on the theatrical poster and the focus point of the trailers.
That being said “Bohemian Rhapsody” was okay. I know this isn’t a review for that film, but it’s important to state a brief opinion on it for this review. So, it was enjoyable enough due to Rami Malek’s performance. However, it missed the point of what a biopic is supposed to be about. Raw emotion, ups as well as downs and not just a glamorized music video. Yes “Rocketman” has music throughout it, but it keeps the story going on in the most beautifully done way where nothing gets stale. It has its borderline “cheesy moments”, but we see a lot of heart shattering stuff in this film. Parts had me wanting to reach into the screen, shake Taron Egerton’s Elton John and say “You’re amazing just the way you are and you’re better than this!” We see drugs, alcohol, sex, family issues, suicidal thoughts, fake personas, and more. It’s a crazy emotional ride and with Taron giving such a stellar performance it feels real. Way more real than “Bohemian Rhapsody” ever felt and in this people literally levitate off the floor at one part! Yes there is a sense of surrealism in this including that scene, rocketing off of a stage, long sequences like the “Honky Cat” sequence and the sex addiction trip. But it worked.
I want to give the costume designers in this some love because they knocked it out of the park. Elton John is of course known for his flashy, flamboyant fashion choices, this was definitely given to us on a silver platter. When we see scenes of Elton on stage in his various outfits while “Pinball Wizard” plays, its both haunting and something really special. Speaking of haunting. There’s a few moments in this film that shocked me with their blatant emotional intensity. The pool scene with “Rocket Man” playing was spectacular, I got literal goosebumps from how powerful it was. The creation of “Your Song” was also very moving, the scene in the phone booth, ugh there are so many moments that stuck in my head!
This is a musical fantasy movie, so it moves the plot along with some of Elton’s most famous songs. If you hate musicals, you might still like this movie! But be prepared to watch emotion unfold with song on occasions. The fact that Taron Egerton sang this entire soundtrack is so impressive to me, most actors would lip-sync to actual songs from the artist, but not Taron. Speaking of Taron, let’s finally get into this. If you for some reason do not like this movie (no idea how!) you have to at least appreciate the genius that was Taron Egerton in this film. He reached into some undiscovered deep part of himself and gave the performance of his career at 29 years old. His emotion in this was so painfully in his facial features I thought at times that he really was a young Elton John. I felt his heartbreak, addictive tendencies, anger, frustration, happiness. It was all there so flawlessly! This may be the best biopic related performance I’ve ever seen, not joking. Even the chemistry between him and Richard Madden was very surprising to me, I know many people will chalk it up to just “being an actor” and yes of course they both are “acting”. However, true chemistry is hard to come by in the acting world and the subtle/not-so-subtle flirtatious tendencies between the two during various parts of the movie had me doing a double-take!
Yes, we all know Taron was incredible in this and if he doesn’t get an Oscar nomination at least we riot, but what about the rest of the cast? They were also clearly bringing their “A” game here. I wanted to strangle Richard Madden’s character on multiple occasions, ugh! Jamie Bell brought a warmth to his character that radiated off the screen. What a great casting choice on all ends. Honestly, I haven’t had a movie fly by so fast and me being saddened that it was over in a long time.Having seen it now on multiple occasions I can say it flies by quicker every time, you anticipate scenes to happen and once they do you want to replay and inspect them all over again.
Finally, because it’s such a topic of discussion right now I want to talk about the LGBTQ aspects of this film. First of all, it’s a story about Elton John…what the hell were you expecting? Yes there’s men kissing in it on multiple occasions, yes there’s a sex scene. It’s done between two men whom at the time loved each other and it’s honestly just a really intimate loving scene. If anyone has a problem with that, don’t see this movie and stay away from my vicinity! If I can see this in a packed theatre with 90% of it being older people and they don’t even bat an eye, you have no excuse.It’s currently been banned in certain areas of the world and or heavily edited, which honestly what’s the point in not being able to see the film in its entirety? That’s so disrespectful to Dexter Fletcher (the director) and everyone else whom worked on the film.
Please see this movie, it deserves all the love it can get! It does Elton John justice and showcases an incredible performance by Taron Egerton as well as the rest of the cast. Bring your tissues though as well as your dancing shoes! Definitely one of the year’s best.
Editor’s Note: By the way, I totally forgot to explain why I gave it 4.5/5 instead of a perfect rating. It’s not due to any of the said “cheesiness” I mentioned before, because in a film like this it’s needed. But during the sequence of “Bennie and the Jets” were shown Elton’s sex addiction through a beautiful hanging shot of him being in a club setting and crowd surfing on top of unknown hands. We also set shots of various mens faces looking down on him and Taron Egerton’s Elton himself looking up into the camera. Now all of this is great and we get the song continually looping over this shot eerily. However, there are 2 shots that blew my mind watching the movie second time around because I missed them completely the first time! We see Elton on a bed vulnerable and men are literally clawing at him/pulling him in all different directions as he’s on his back and we see him on his knees on the same bed being surrounded by men again. All of this is very symbolic and fantastic! It’s overshadowed though by the damn overlay of various emotional quotes from actors speaking to him over the course of the film, which felt a little pandering. We as an audience don’t need for you to spell it out for us why he’s drowning himself in emotionless relationships, we already know and it’s taking the focus off of those 2 shots I mentioned! Just show us the scenes as they play out and have the sequence end with him being on his side until he rolls over into the next scene.
Seeing as this movie was an Oscar winning animated feature and I’d been intrigued by the trailer I had to see it. “Coco” is centered around Miguel and his entire family whom are shoemakers and haters of music. Miguel’s great great grandmother Imelda was the wife of a musician, who left her and their 3-year-old daughter Coco, to pursue a career in music. When he never returned, Imelda banned music hence why the entire family shares this hatred. Miguel however has a great passion for music and struggles with families wishes.
If I had one word to describe this movie it would definitely be “atmospheric”. Since this movie heavily is based around the Mexican holiday of the “Day of the Dead”, it shows the beauty of this holiday with all the bright colors, flower petals, etc. The music was also a high point for me in this movie, it fully immerses you in the culture which I love. Even the spirit-guide animal aspect of the movie I really liked! It’s all about family!Our featured song “Remember Me” is sung in both a high-spirited, uplifting way and a slower tempoed thoughtful way. This was a nice added touch to make music a bit more layered than other Disney Pixar films have in the past.
I would say the lower points for me about this movie were centered around the story. I kept getting strong “Footloose” vibes from the banning of music, which isn’t a bad thing but it’s also been done before. Any part that took place in the world of the dead I much preferred to the parts of the movie within the living world. It’s never good to me when I can guess key plot points within the first 30 minutes of the movie and I did just that so there was no “mystery” to me. The entire plot-point of Ernesto de la Cruz just seemed too obvious to me, if you’ve seen the movie you probably know what I mean.
Though I haven’t personally seen the other animated films that were nominated at the 2018 Oscars I do think now I need to watch them and compare. “Coco” was very enjoyable, but it is also Disney so I didn’t expect anything less. If anything it’s a beautifully animated movie to look at and Pixar’s animation studio just keeps getting better and better.I don’t think it’s Pixar’s best film to date, but it’s definitely up there as a contender!