Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)

forgetting_sarah_marshall_ver2

Devastated Peter takes a Hawaiian vacation in order to deal with the recent break-up with his TV star girlfriend, Sarah. Little does he know, Sarah’s traveling to the same resort as her ex – and she’s bringing along her new boyfriend.(IMDb)
The broken heart to new love arc is generic, but constant pops (flashes? see Peter’s hilarious naked confrontation with Sarah) of goofy humour keep the film feeling fresh and engaging throughout, never taking itself too seriously (see the failed symbolic cliff jump). Other highlights include the CSI parody (Crime Scene: Scene of the Crime), Paul Rudd’s surf instructor (“Oh, the weather outside is weather”), and McBrayer’s nervous new husband constantly cursing the confounding human anatomy.
7/10 (Good)

2019 Academy Awards nominations: Some disappointments and some pleasant surprises

The 2019 Academy Award nominations were announced today! I’ll write a longer post with my own personal picks and snubs as we get closer to the date of the ceremony, but for now, a few initial “yays and nays”:

image
Yalitza Aparicio in Roma

YAY! The noted presence of non-US films in categories other than “Best Foreign Film” was a nice surprise. Critical darling Roma (Mexico) was of course at the top of the pack snagging a whopping 10 nominations. People figured it might be up for Best Picture and Best Director, but Yalitza Aparicio and Marina de Tavira also managed to snag well-deserved nominations for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, respectively. Elsewhere, Zimna wojna (“Cold War”) (Poland) got a nod for Best Director and Best Cinematography, while Werk ohne Autor (“Never Look Away”) (Germany) was also nominated in the latter category and Gräns (“Border”) (Sweden) got a nomination for Makeup & Hairstyling. Mirai no Mirai (Japan) also got a nomination for Best Animated Feature after getting a Golden Globe nomination in the same category.

NAY! Nothing for Eighth Grade? It’s tied for my highest rated movie of the year with an amazing 9/10 but didn’t even manage to grab a nomination for best original screenplay, which seemed to be its only hope going in. Young Elsie Fisher really did deserve a best actress nod too for her amazing work.

fr_ethan-hawke_amanda-seyfried_2_wide-47b792450169b69bde89635302ef364a8792947b-s800-c85
Ethan Hawke and Amanda Seyfried in First Reformed

YAY! Eighth Grade’s slot for best original screenplay seemed to have gone to a different smaller release from the year- First Reformed. A well-deserved nomination for a heart-wrenching meditation on hopelessness and hypocrisy. Still, would’ve liked to see both of these smaller releases on the list instead of, say, Green Book, a pretty conventional if heartwarming film that came nowhere near the aching authenticity of the other two in its script.

NAY! Annihilation was one of the first films of 2018 that I was really excited about.

1_lrejqyogogxumned7zsgsq
The “Shimmer” in Annihilation

I had a few troubles with its script and considering its weirdness, smaller scale, and early release, I figured it wouldn’t be in too much Oscar talk come awards season. I had held out hope for a visual effects nod though thanks to its incredible, beautiful, and terrifying images throughout, but alas, it was not to be.

YAY! Did not expect The Ballad of Buster Scruggs to get so many nominations after its mixed reception upon its release to Netflix. I found it good, not great as well, but its nomination for Best Original Song (“When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings”) I’m quite happy to get on board with. It was a hilarious, dark, and oddly touching musical number that wrapped up chapter 1 of the Coen brothers’ anthology film beautifully.

16-jonah-hill.w1200.h630
Jonah Hill in Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot

NAY! None of the awards-predicting posts I’ve read in the blogosphere so far have even come close to mentioning Gus Van Sant’s quietly-released Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, but I just have to say one final time that if I had my way, Jonah Hill would’ve been nominated for Best Supporting Actor. His turn was a thing of beauty, tragic and mysterious. And while I’m at it, how about giving Jaoquin Phoenix some love too? He could’ve been nominated for either Don’t Worry… or Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here. And speaking of (I’m almost done complaining), a directing nod for Ramsay also would’ve been well-deserved.

That’s all for now! I want to hear from you- what were some of your initial reactions to today’s Oscar nominations? Surprised? Disappointed? Let me know in the comments!

Megamind (2010)

megamind

The supervillain Megamind finally defeats his nemesis, the superhero Metro Man. But without a hero, he loses all purpose and must find new meaning to his life. (IMDb)
The script’s dialogue-based humour is inconsistent at best (the opening voiceover intro is kinda lame; Megamind and Metro Man’s cliche convo was funny: “Revenge is best served cold!” “But it can be easily reheated in the microwave of evil!”) but it’s helped by a great voice cast (Cross as earnest Minion tops the list), and the overarching premise offers both some quirky satire of the typical good guy vs. villain dynamic as well as, of course, a refreshingly nuanced look at the villain itself.
6.5/10 (Alright)

 

Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot (2018)

mv5bmjq2mjq3otk2mv5bml5banbnxkftztgwnjq0nza2ndm-_v1_

On the rocky path to sobriety after a life-changing accident, John Callahan discovers the healing power of art, willing his injured hands into drawing hilarious, often controversial cartoons, which bring him a new lease on life. (IMDb)
Combines the accessible emotional punch of a mainstream drama (without getting sappy) with the unconventionality and boldness of an indie; the wonderfully edited timeline-jumping of the first half creates a uniquely compelling character set-up while the longer dialogues to follow solidify and bring to a tear-jerking climax the powerful yet nuanced redemption arc (see the return to those adorable skate kids). Phoenix is expectedly great, but it’s Hill who’s simply magnetic in a supporting role.
9/10 (Amazing)

22 Jump Street (2014)

22-jump-street-movie-poster-2014-1020770142

After making their way through high school (twice), big changes are in store for officers Schmidt and Jenko when they go deep undercover at a local college. (IMDb)
Maybe it’s just because I watched it right after the first, but despite all its sequel-satirical nods (the opening address change and ending credits were hilarious), and perhaps because of them in some cases (the “exact same thing as last time” line felt overused) it didn’t feel quite as fresh. Fortunately, Hill and Tatum’s continued chemistry is more than enough to keep you engaged (see their counselling session), helped too by some quirky new characters (Bell’s deadpan dame is a riot).
7/10 (Good)

 

21 Jump Street (2012)

21-jump-street-poster

A pair of underachieving cops are sent back to a local high school to blend in and bring down a synthetic drug ring. (IMDb)
Takes an already funny buddy cop comedy (Hill and Tatum have excellent chemistry–see their bungled opening arrest, tearful final triumph) and goofy high school flick (jock Jenko with the nerds is a highlight thread) and adds a thick layer of sharp satire to the tropes from both (see the millennial update of high school), and even to itself as a film (“37 Jump St… No, that doesn’t sound right”), making for a wholly entertaining experience from its 2000s flashback beginning to “Die Hard” end.
8/10 (Great)

 

Moneyball (2011)

mv5bmjaxotu3mzc1m15bml5banbnxkftztcwmzk1oduzng-_v1_sy1000_cr006751000_al_

Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane’s successful attempt to assemble a baseball team on a lean budget by employing computer-generated analysis to acquire new players. (IMDb)
It’s got the surface stuff for dramatic greatness–an intriguing premise, a solid cast, entertaining dialogue (see Billy’s flurry of calls at the trade deadline), and slick editing that smoothly incorporates lots of flashbacks and archival footage–but the story holds it back in a couple ways: Billy’s personal life often feels like an unnecessary inclusion, and the intellectualism of the sports narrative seems to get replaced in the third act with a more typical underdog/pep-talk type feel.
7.5/10 (Really Good)

 

Evan Almighty (2007)

evan_almighty_xlg

God contacts Congressman Evan Baxter and tells him to build an ark in preparation for a great flood. (IMDb)
The set-up’s predictable (yet another working dad neglecting his kids); the build-up is too (The Santa Clause, anyone?), but the plethora of biblical puns make it fun. The humor is mostly bland slapstick (Hill’s stalker Eugene aside) but Carell’s solid turn (the beard probably helped) as the guy God is seemingly screwing over gives the second act surprising dramatic credibility. Finally, though the CGI boat ride of the third act is cringe-worthy, its environmentalist slant is appreciable.
6.5/10 (Alright)

 

Sausage Party (2016)

SAPTY_DOM_DIGITAL_12.indd

A sausage strives to discover the truth about his existence. (IMDb)
The puns are okay, but the creative anthropomorphic food premise is funniest in its extreme plays on humanity’s physical aspects; namely, death (see the flour shell-shock scene, kitchen massacre) and sex (see the outrageous ending orgy). It swings and misses everywhere else, moving from a promisingly hilarious opening musical number to a swear-overloaded script with nary a clever joke, and a religion-related thesis just as lacking in subtlety. The meta-ending also felt silly and unnecessary.
6.5/10 (Alright)

Hail, Caesar! (2016)

hail-caesar-xlg

A Hollywood fixer in the 1950s works to keep the studio’s stars in line. (IMDb)
Despite Gambon’s excellent bits of narration and Brolin’s classic-Coen-crazy central day-in-the-life plot thread, Hail, Caesar! still feels more like a series of skits than anything else-some of them bland (DeeAnna’s dilemma is forgettable), many hilarious (see Hobie on the set of Merrily We Dance; McDormand’s outrageous cameo) and entertaining (see Tatum’s song and dance number among the numerous 50s Hollywood tributes), but all of them feeling rather inconsequential by the film’s abrupt end.
6.5/10 (Alright)