|Oscar #2, please.|
Directed by Woody Allen
Produced by Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum and Edward Walson
Written by Woody Allen
Starring Cate Blanchett, Sally Hawkins, Alec Baldwin, Peter Sarsgaard, Louis C.K., Alden Ehrenreich, Andrew Dice Clay, Bobby Cannavale and Michael Stuhlbarg
Jasmine, a recently divorced woman who's lost her fortune, moves in with her adopted sister.
After last year's hiccup with To Rome with Love, Woody Allen is back with this comedy of hysterics. It has his trademark wit and an excellent cast, but this film is all about Cate Blanchett. While most of the supporting cast (especially Hawkins) deliver great performances, it's Blanchett that earns - and deserves - the spotlight. As Jasmine, she gives one of the year's greatest performances, if not the best overall. Woody Allen's neurotic characters have always attracted talent, but landing Blanchett makes this film much better than it could've been. If Oscars are to be had, I'd start with Best Actress and settle for that, if nothing else.
Oscar Potential: Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress (Hawkins) and Best Original Screenplay
|Why did you cut me, Harvey?|
Directed by Wong Kar-Wai
Produced by Guoqng Gu, Sanping Han, Kuo Hsing Li, Zhong-lun Ren, Jacky Pang Yee Wah, Wong Kar-Wai, Xiaoming Yan and Dong Yu
Written by Wong Kar-Wai, Jingzhi Zou and Haofeng Xu
Starring Tony Leung, Ziyi Zhang, Song Hye-Kyo, Chang Chen, Wong Hing-Cheung and Zhao Ben-Shan
Ip Man, who trained Bruce Lee, lives a life of battles won and lost in love and war.
Oh, what could have been. Unfortunately, I saw the shorter US cut (unknowingly at the time) of Kar-Wai's long-awaited film that feels like a mangled masterpiece. Although the film is stunning to look at, the narrative feels jarringly episodic and too unfocused. However, the performances by Tony Leung and Ziyi Zhang aren't wasted, as the pair turn in fine work as usual. Again, the film is beautifully lensed by Philippe Le Sourd, and the sets and costumes are gorgeous. Adding to superb fight sequences are the rich score by Nathaniel Méchaly and Shigeru Umebayashi, which incorporates some of Ennio Morricone's compositions, and the precise sound design. It looks wonderful, but there's a lot to be desired.
Oscar Potential: Best Production Design, Best Costume Design and Best Foreign Language Film (if eligible)
The Spectacular Now
|Woodley and Teller are perfect together.|
Directed by James Ponsoldt
Produced by Michelle Krumm, Andrew Lauren, Shawn Levy and Tom McNulty
Written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (screenplay); Tim Tharp (novel)
Starring Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, Brie Larson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kyle Chandler and Kaitlyn Dever
Sutter, a high school partier, questions his outlook on life when he meets Aimee, a girl who's different from the others.
A surprising gem, this touching film features fantastic performances from Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley. Capitalizing on the promise he showed in Rabbit Hole, Teller gives a marvelous performance as the easy-going Sutter. Of course, Woodley is even better as Aimee than she was in her award-winning performance in The Descendants. The pair have a natural chemistry, and they make the most of Neustadter's and Weber's tight adaptation. In addition, there is great supporting work from Brie Larson, Kyle Chandler and Jennifer Jason Leigh. I have the same enthusiasm for this as I did The Perks of Being a Wallflower last year. It's a film I want everyone to watch, and I can't wait to see it again.
Oscar Potential: Best Supporting Actress (Woodley) and Best Adapted Screenplay