Month: February 2014

What to Watch – Spring 2014

Here is a list of the upcoming films this spring that I am most excited about.

Non-Stop – 28th February

Liam Neeson has rapidly become the ultimate action hero after successful outings with Taken, Unknown and The Grey. He returns in Non-Stop, a film in which he plays an air marshal who receives a number of text messages whilst upon a transatlantic flight.

Early reports suggest this will be no more special than a typical action packed thriller but with Neeson in the driving seat, Non-Stop could take off.

Ride Along – 28th February

Kevin Hart is America’s latest comedy product best known for his stand-up shows. In Ride Along, he joins forces with Ice Cube, a cop who wants to take his sister’s boyfriend, played by Hart, on a patrol around the streets of Atlanta. Carnage and hilarity follows and if the trailer is anything to go by, Ride Along should be worth a watch for some simple cheap laughs.

Need for Speed – 12th March

Fans of the video game will be keen to see Need for Speed. Aaron Paul, best known for his role in TV series Breaking Bad, plays a guy fresh out of jail after being framed. He seeks revenge through a cross-country race. The trailer suggests plenty of fuelled action at the beginning of this driving related franchise.

A Long Way Down – 21st March

In this adaptation of Nick Hornby’s 2005 novel, four strangers meet whilst on the brink of suicide on New Year’s Eve. They each decide against letting go and form a tight group in order to save themselves from their issues.

A Long Way Down boasts an impressive cast of Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette, Imogen Poots and Aaron Paul and looks set to produce laughs and tears in this comedy drama.

Captain America: Winter Soldier – 28th March

After Iron Man 3, Captain America is the second Avenger to return following events in New York. In Captain America: Winter Soldier, Steve Rodgers struggles to adapt to the modern world whilst also battling a new Soviet threat known as the Winter Soldier.

Chris Evans returns as the Captain alongside fellow Avenger Scarlett Johansson playing Black Widow and there is also an introduction for Anthony Mackie as The Falcon.

Noah – 4th April

We all know the Bible story of Noah and this adaptation sees Russell Crowe play the bearded animal lover who suffers visions of an apocalyptic flood.

This is a big step for Darren Aronofsky following his success with Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler and Black Swan and therefore an impressive CV could suffer a major dent if his gamble with Noah does not pay off.

The Amazing Spiderman 2 – 18th April

Peter Parker returns in the second instalment of the latest Spiderman franchise with Brit Andrew Garfield again donning the Lycra suit. When Oscorp produce a wealth of super villains, it is down to Spiderman to defend those around him as well as humanity.

Emma Stone also returns as Gwen Stacy with Jamie Foxx and Dane DeHann playing Electro and the Green Goblin respectively.

Transcendence – 25th April

Johnny Depp plays a terminally ill scientist who downloads his mind into a computer so he can explore and stay close with his wife. Instead, things get bleak and he soon becomes an unstoppable force of power.

An impressive cast including Depp, Morgan Freeman and Cillian Murphy assemble for Wally Pfister’s first directing feature. Pfister is best known for his work alongside Christopher Nolan in the Dark Knight franchise and Inception.

Bad Neighbours – 9th May

Seth Rogan and Rosa Byrne play a couple living in a seemingly calm and pleasant neighbourhood. Little do they know that their new next-door neighbours consist of a fraternity headed by Zac Efron. The couple and the fraternity ultimately don’t see eye to eye and war ensues.

Efron has proved his comic abilities whilst Rogan, Byrne and a cameo from Dave Franco should offer plenty of laughs in this bad tempered comedy.

Godzilla – 16th May

Many in Hollywood have avoided the temptation of returning to the monster film since Roland Emmerich’s 1998 flop. However, this year will finally see Godzilla back on the big screen and judging by the trailer, there is every chance for big success.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Ken Watanabe and Bryan Cranston spearhead a promising cast yet the main act will of course be the monster himself and how he is portrayed.

X-Men: Days of Future Past – 22nd May

Every character involved in this X-Men franchise since it began in 2001 features in Days of Future Past. First Class gave us an insight into the early days of Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr aka Magneto. In Days of Future Past, we see Wolverine sent back in time in a desperate effort to change an event and the course of history.

As mentioned, everyone from the original X-Men films and First Class make an appearance but most notably, Bryan Singer returns to the director’s chair after Matthew Vaughn’s efforts in First Class. This could have huge significance.

A Million Ways to Die in the West – 30th May

Seth MacFarlane returns for his second feature length following his success with Ted. MacFarlane leads (as himself this time), playing a low life cowboy making moves on Charlize Theron, a woman new to town. However, he must prove his worth when her husband, a proven gunslinger arrives.

A Million Ways to Die in the West looks full of MacFarlane esque laughs and boasts a strong cast with Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried, Neil Patrick-Harris and Giovanni Ribisi all featuring.

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The 86th Annual Academy Awards – Predictions

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The 86th Annual Academy Awards is rapidly approaching and I thought it would be a fun idea to predict the winners of the four main categories. These include Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director and of course, Best Picture. So without further ado, here are my predictions for:

 

Best Actor

When the nominees for the best actor category were announced, I was flabbergasted to learn that Tom Hanks was not included for his heart thumping performance in Captain Phillips. Perhaps not a winning performance, but certainly worthy of being involved in the reckoning. When you consider that many had his performance down as his best ever, you have to wonder why he is not nominated.

Nevertheless, it is still a very strong set of performances. Leonardo DiCaprio – yet to win the award – brilliantly portrayed the difficult Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street. An ageing Bruce Dern was hilarious in Nebraska while Christian Bale produced a strong performance in American Hustle. But for me it is Chiwetel Ejiofor from 12 Years a Slave and Matthew McConaughey who are leading the best actor category.

Brit Ejiofor was excellent in 12 Years playing an extremely difficult role, which has certainly put him on the mainstream map. However, my winner has to be McConaughey for his performance in Dallas Buyers Club. Disregarding the fact that he voluntarily lost four stone to fit the profile of his character, but McConaughey reminds us just what a brilliant actor he can be when playing serious roles. Therefore, McConaughey is my favourite, but it could be a very tight group.

 

Nominees:

Christian Bale for American Hustle (2013)

Bruce Dern for Nebraska (2013)

Leonardo DiCaprio for The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

Chiwetel Ejiofor for 12 Years a Slave (2013)

Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

 

Best Actress

The best actress category is fairly straightforward this year. There should only be one clear winner. Amy Adams and Meryl Streep both produced decent performances in American Hustle and August: Osage County respectively – but by no means were their best. Sandra Bullock was impressive in Gravity and Judi Dench was brilliant in Philomena.

However, the strong favourite for best actress is Cate Blanchett for her role in Blue Jasmine. She produces an astounding performance in an otherwise tame Woody Allen film and she is certainly the shining light from it.

 

Nominees:

 

Amy Adams for American Hustle (2013)

Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine (2013)

Sandra Bullock for Gravity (2013)

Judi Dench for Philomena (2013)

Meryl Streep for August: Osage County (2013)

 

Best Director

The first time I saw Gravity, I couldn’t understand what the fuss was all about. Sure I thought it was a good movie but I certainly didn’t agree with a number of critics who ranked it so highly. For this reason, I sat down and I watched it for a second time (notably in 2D this time) and my entire opinion of it changed. It is an extraordinary piece of cinema and its biggest strength is how well it is directed by Alfonso Cuaron.

Therefore, he gets my nod for best director but again, there is strong competition. Steve McQueen does a brilliant job of directing 12 Years a Slave and I would imagine it is a fight between those two for the title. However, I would have Cuaron as my favourite for his exceptional work in Gravity.

 

Nominees:

 

Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity (2013)

Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave (2013)

David O. Russell for American Hustle (2013)

Martin Scorsese for The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

Alexander Payne for Nebraska (2013)

 

Best Picture

There are arguably some surprising inclusions in the best picture category. Her is a film myself and a number of other audiences and critics feel is overrated and flat. American Hustle was more about the flash and style than quality of film and is another surprise inclusion and I don’t see The Wolf of Wall Street as a best picture winner.

I’ve already mentioned Tom Hanks being snubbed for a nomination so I’m therefore surprised to see Captain Phillips in the mix for best picture as I felt his performance was the catalyst for the film’s extraordinary tension.

I would suggest there is a fairly straightforward winner for best picture and that is 12 Years a Slave. On all grounds, it is a sensational piece of work – brilliantly acted, brilliantly directed and full of thought provoking and shocking scenes. It certainly would be hard to beat and for that reason, 12 Years a Slave is my favourite for the best picture award. 

 

Nominees:

 

American Hustle (2013)

Captain Phillips (2013)

Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

Gravity (2013)

Her (2013)

Nebraska (2013)

Philomena (2013)

12 Years a Slave (2013)

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

 

Winners will be announced on the 2nd March.