MOVIE REVIEW: Room

Awards, Movie, movie review, Oscars, Review

RATING: ★★★★☆

Cast: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen, William H. Macy

Director: Lenny Abrahamson

Length and Rating: 1h 58min R

Based on the Emma Donoghue’s bestselling novel of the same name, Room follows 5-year old Jack (Jacob Tremblay) and Ma (Brie Larson) and their daily activities in ‘room’. As we soon discover, ‘room’ and the items in it are the only things Jack and Ma have seen in a long time. Narrated through the perspective of Jack, the audience sees ‘room’ through his eyes, but also get an insight how Ma handles their predicament.

For fear of giving away the plot of the movie, the rest of this review will just be talking about the brilliance that is Jacob Tremblay. Tremblay steals the film, in every scene you see his efforts ability to capture the emotions of Jack. Making you go from laughing to crying in a single instance. His endearing observations and perceptions never come across as annoying or over-the-top. Capturing the hearts of audience members from beginning to end, one of the biggest questions the Academy needs to answer this year is why he was left off the Supporting Actor category.

Room is a can be a very difficult film to watch. There are things that Jack is shielded from but the audience is aware of what is happening. As a book-to-movie adaptation, the film follows the plot of novel almost exactly.

FAVOURITE QUOTE:

“When I was small, I only knew small things. But now I’m five, I know everything!”            Jack (Jacob Tremblay)

Oscar Nominated For:

BEST PICTURE

BEST PEFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS – Brie Larson

BEST DIRECTING – Lenny Abrahamson

BEST WRITING, ADAPTED SCREENPLAY – Emma Donoghue

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MOVIE REVIEW: Spotlight

Awards, Movie, movie review, Oscars, Review

RATING: ★★★★★

Cast: Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Brian d’Arcy James, Live Schreiber, Stanley Tucci

Director: Tom McCarthy

Length and Rating: 128 min R

Spotlight tells the real life story of the Boston Globe’s “Spotlight” team during its investigation into the child abuse being committed by member of the Catholic Church in the Boston area. The stories that were published by the team rewarded them in 2003 the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

The film begins with the head of the Spotlight team, Walter ‘Robby’ Robinson (Michael Keaton), being told by the new editor-in-chief of the Globe (Live Schreiber) to further investigate the series of alleged child abuse incidents being committed in local Boston parishes. This launches one of the best moments in investigative journalism.

This film demonstrates what happens when journalism gets something right. Where in Truth, a film that shows what can happen when a story is rushed and not thoroughly checked, Spotlight succeeded. Portraying the years of investigating that these journalists put into the story, and their commitment to discovering the truth.

This film is truly an ensemble piece, each actor playing a character that dedicated a lot of themselves to getting the story done right. This was their city, their parishes, and their religion that they were looking into. Showing that each discovery of how deep into the Catholic Church this went and the member that participated in covering up affects each character. Among a sea of great performances special mention should be made about Brian D’Arcy James and Stanley Tucci.

FAVOURITE QUOTE:

“If it takes a village to raise a child, then it takes a village to abuse it.”

Mitchell Garabedian (Stanley Tucci)

 

MOVIE REVIEW: Truth

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Cast: Cate Blanchette, Robert Redford, Dennis Quaid, Elisabeth Moss, Topher Grace

Director: James Vanderbilt

Length and Rating: 125 min R

During 2004 CBS’s 60 Minutes reported on a story about how it was suspected that former US President George W. Bush had gone AWOL during his time at the Texas Air National Guard. The film, “Truth”, follows Mary Mapes (Cate Blanchette) and the team she assembled to investigate and report on the story.

The news anchor at the time for CSB News was Dan Rathers (Robert Redford), who works closely with Mapes and stands by her while all the investigation around the credibility of the story occurs. CBS, and 60 Minutes, were considered the gold standard at the time for news and were greatly trusted by its viewers.

As the film demonstrates, there were red flags while investigating the story. But whether it was because they were too rushed or under too much pressure by the network heads, they chose to air the segment anyway. It also shows the shift that the investigation of the segment did from the actual content that the story was telling to the validity of the evidence they used to confirm it.

Cate Blanchette does a terrific job as Mapes, show casing what it was like as a woman producer just 10 years ago at a major network. Dan Rathers as an idea was performed brilliantly by Redford, and is helped by the fact that Redford himself is a legend. “Truth” shows how much the audience trusted Rathers at the time, and highlights the relationship that comes from letting news anchors into your household every night. And what happens when that trust is broken.

FAVOURITE QUOTE: “I was there the day they figured out that the evening news could make money.” – Dan Rathers (Robert Redford)

 

OSCAR NOMINATED: Wild

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RATING: ★★★☆☆

Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Thomas Sadoski, Gaby Hoffmann

Director: Jean-Marc Vallée

Length and Rating: 115 min R

From the director of Dallas Buyers Club, comes a film based on the bestselling novel of the same name Wild. It tells they story of Cheryl Strayed, played by Reese Witherspoon (Water For Elephants, Walk the Line), a woman who decides to walk the 1,100 mile trail of the Pacific Crest Trail. As the movie progresses the audience begins to know her reasoning for embarking on this reckless journey.

The film demonstrates the elements that Cheryl has to face on the trail, both physically and mentally. Being alone forces her to face the memories of her mother, played by Laura Dern (The Fault in Our Stars, The Master), the collapse of her failed marriage, and the personal choices she made to get her here.

The movie beautifully features the scenery of the trail. Making the audience have this feeling of ditching their everyday lives and just walk to discover the mystery of the world around us. Throughout the film you realize that it is leading up to this major climatic breakdown. That Cheryl had to let go of the end of the rope she is hanging on to. I think the issue is there were so many breakdowns prior to the climax that it was not a poignant has intended. But it was successful to show that there were multiple reasons she felt she had to do this for herself.

FAVOURITE QUOTE: “Here’s some questions I’ve been asking myself. What if I forgive myself? What if I was sorry? What if I could go back in time? I wouldn’t do a single thing differently. What if all those things I did were the things that got me here?” – Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon)

Nominated For:

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

OSCAR NOMINATED: The Theory of Everything

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RATING: ★★★★☆

Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, David Thewlis, Emily Watson

Director: James Marsh

Length and Rating: 123 min PG-13

Another film making noise for this year’s awards season is The Theory of Everything. Nominated for five Academy Awards, the film is based off the relationship of theoretical physicists Stephen Hawking, played by Eddie Redmayne (Les Miserables, My Week With Marilyn), and Jane Wilde played by Felicity Jones (The Invisible Woman, Like Crazy). It’s a cinematic exploration of the couple’s relationship from when they meet at Cambridge, through their time married together, and finishes with the couple ultimately going their separate ways.

Making a movie about Stephen Hawking could tempt some moviemakers from focusing solely on the man’s diagnosis with Lou Gehrig’s disease and how it affected his work. This film does that but chooses to equally focus on the relationship between the couple and how they handled his diagnosis together.

Redmayne and Jones do a superb job in their roles playing the man with the brilliant mind and the woman who chooses to fight with him through all the obstacles. Redmayne, who has already won the Golden Globe and SAG award for his performance, is brilliant. He captures the physicality of the disease but also shows the humor and wit of the man despite the being confined in half the film. It is mesmerizing to watch on screen the journey of the man’s physical decline, starting with the crippling of his hand and ending with him in the man’s iconic wheelchair and voice box.

Jones’ quiet performance is just as moving as Redmayne’s physical one. Portraying a wife who is fully committed to helping her husband and family, she handles Hawking’s illness like no obstacle is too hard to overcome and as an audience you cannot help to root for her to succeed.

It is a beautiful movie, but knowing that it is based off of this real life couple’s relationship makes some of the scenes a little bitter sweet. At the beginning of the movie, it had to show the audience the connection that these two people had before Hawking’s diagnosis. In the limited time it shows the couple’s time at Cambridge, it magnificently convinces the audience that they have a genuine admiration and you could see them living out their lives ‘happily ever after’ together uninterrupted by what life would throw at them. This realization just makes the ending off the film that more heartbreaking. It chooses to not focus too much on the divorce of the couple nor spends too much time with the couple’s other partners.

Ultimately the film does try to leave you feeling good. Showing that despite what these people went through they were still able to do good. Trying to convey the message that just because the end may not have turned out as you expected does not take away from what happened to get you there.

FAVOURITE QUOTE: “I have loved you. I did my best.” – Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones)

Nominated For:

Best Motion Picture of the Year

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score

OSCAR NOMINATED: The Imitation Game

Awards, Movie, movie review, Oscars, Review

RATING: ★★★★★

Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Allen Leech

Director: Morten Tyldum

Length and Rating: 114 min. PG-13

Nominated for 8 Academy Awards this year is The Imitation Game. It tells the story of mathematician Alan Turing, played by Benedict Cumberbatch (BBC Sherlock, Star Trek: Into Darkness), and his work trying to break the enigma code during WWII.

The film jumps back and forth in time between his life after the war and the period spent at Bletchley Park working on enigma. To obviously spare the audience, the movie does not do an in-depth analysis of the mathematical principles of cracking the code, but instead focuses on the man that did so and the relationships he made. One of the more important relationships he makes in the film is with former mathematician Joan Clarke, played by Kiera Knightly (Atonement, Pirates of the Caribbean), the only woman at Bletchley working on enigma. It is through this relationship that the audience learns of Turing’s homosexually, which during this time of intolerance, did not hide nor make public.

With any movie that is based on actual events and people in history the air of surprise is gone. We obviously know that the team is successful in cracking the code but the movie excels in making the result moving and thought provoking. The film demonstrates the issue of what happens after the code is crack. They cannot save everybody, which brings up moral and ethical issues of how can you decide how one life more important than another.

Cumberbatch engages the audience with his performance as Turing. Between representing the man’s social awkwardness towards his co-workers at the beginning of the film to the end where the man is being persecuted by the country he saved due to his sexuality. Knightly is a great partner in the film playing a smart woman in a male dominated field, who is more interested in the work that she is doing at Bletchley than the societal pressure of getting married.

FAVOURITE QUOTE: “Now, if you wish you could have been normal… I can promise you I do not. The world is an infinitely better place precisely because you weren’t.” – Joan Clarke (Kiera Knightly)

Nominated for:

Best Motion Picture of the Year

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Best Achievement in Directing

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published

Best Achievement in Editing

Best Achievement in Production Design

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score