We’re celebrating everyone’s favourite award show in true Drake style. Put on your best threads + play our Oscar pool while snacking on free popcorn from the Drake kitchen. Did we mention the evening is hosted by cinema king Richard Crouse? Meet us here + challenge your friends in a match of cinematic trivia. There’s great prizes to be won + even a special bubbly menu to choose from, while cheering on your picks from the silver screen.
TOP THIRTEEN HITS (click on the title to see trailer)
1. 12 Years a Slave. There’s a key line near the beginning of “12 Years a Slave, “ the new drama from “Shame” director Steve McQueen. Shortly after being shanghaied from his comfortable life as a freeman into a life of slavery Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) declares, “I don’t want to survive. I want to live.” Based on Northup’s 1853 memoir the movie is an uncompromising story about will, suffering and injustice.
2. American Hustle. “American Hustle” is one of the year’s best. It’s an entertainingly audacious movie that will doubtless be compared to “The Wolf of Wall Street” because of the similarity in tone and themes, but this time around David O. Russell has almost out-Scorsese’d Scorsese.
3. Before Midnight. “Before Midnight” is beautifully real stuff that fully explores the doubts and regrets that characterize Jesse and Celine’s (Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy) love affair. Done with humor, heart and pathos, often in the same scene, it is a poignant farewell to two characters who grew up in front of us.
4. Blue Jasmine. Darker than most of Woody Allen’s recent output, “Blue Jasmine” doesn’t go for laughs—very often anyway—but is an astutely crafted psychological character study. Jasmine is a modern day Blanche Du Bois, a faded bright light now forced to depend on the kindness of strangers. Getting in her way are delusions of grandeur and a continued sense of denial—likely the same sense that kept her guilt free during the years the illegal cash was flowing—that eventually conspire to fracture her psyche. “There’s only so many traumas one can take,” she says, “ before you end up in the street, screaming.”
5. Captain Phillips. I don’t think it’s fair to charge audiences full price for screenings of “Captain Phillips.” While watching this exciting new Tom Hanks thriller I was reminded of the old Monster Trucks ads that bellowed, “You Pay for the Whole Seat but You’ll Only Need the Edge!”It a film about piracy and I don’t mean the sleazy guys who bootleg movies but the real pirates who were responsible for the first hijacking of an American cargo ship in two hundred years.
6. Dallas Buyer’s Club. In “Dallas Buyer’s Club” Canadian director Jean-Marc Vallée has made an emotional drama that never stoops to melodrama. Instead it’s an inspirational film about standing up for what you believe in.
7. Frances Ha. The seventh film from “Greenberg” director Noah Baumbach isn’t so much a traditional narrative as it is a character study of Frances (Greta Gerwig), an underemployed dancer struggling to find herself in New York City. It plays like a cleaned up black-and-white version of “Girls”; an emotionally rich and funny portrait of twenty-something ennui. “Frances Ha” is a collection of details. There is an engaging story, but it’s not exactly laid out in three acts. It feels more intimate and raw than the usual twenty-ish crisis flick and with each detail we get another piece of the puzzle that makes up Frances’ life.
8. Fruitvale Station. It’s important to remember that “Fruitvale Station” isn’t a documentary. Director Ryan Coogler has shaped the movie for maximum heartrending effect, and by the time the devastating last half hour plays out it’s hard to imagine any other movie this year packing such a emotional wallop.
9. Gravity. “Gravity” isn’t an epic like “2001: A Space Odyssey” or an outright horror film like “Alien.” There are no monsters or face hugging ETs. It’s not even a movie about life or death. Instead it is a life-affirming movie about the will to survive.
10. Her. “Her” is an oddball story, but it’s not an oddball film. It is ripe with real human emotion and commentary on a generation’s reliance on technology at the cost of social interaction.
11. Inside Llewyn Davis. “Inside Llewyn Davis” is a fictional look at the vibrant Greenwich Village folk scene. Imagine the cover of “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” come to life. Sharp-eyed folkies will note not-so-coincidental similarities between the people Llewyn meets and real-life types like Tom Paxton, Alert Grossman and Mary Travers, but this isn’t a history, it’s a feel. It gives us an under-the-covers look at struggles and naked ambition it takes to get noticed.
12. Nebraska. The humour doesn’t come in the set-up-punch-line format but arises out of the situations. A scene of Woody’s gathered family—his elderly brothers and grown sons—watching a football game redefines the word taciturn but the subject of the sparse conversation, a 1974 Buick, is bang on, hilarious and will likely sound familiar to anyone with a large family.
13. Wolf of Wall Street. “Wolf of Wall Street” makes for entertaining viewing, mostly because DiCaprio and Jonah Hill are able to ride the line between the outrageous comedy on display and the human drama that takes over the movie’s final minutes. Both are terrific, buoyed by the throbbing pulse of Scorsese’s camera. With its fourth wall breaking narration, scandalous set pieces and absurd antics “The Wolf of Wall Street” is an experience. At three hours it’s almost as excessive as Balfort’s $26,000 dinners. It feels a bit long, but like the spoiled brats it portrays, it will not, and cannot, be ignored.
TOP FIVE MISSES
TREND: Big stars don’t guarantee box office!
1. The Fifth Estate – Budget: $28 million, Global box office: $6 million, Return: 21% Late into “The Fifth Estate” Guardian investigative journalist Nick Davies (David Thewlis) says, “most good stories start at the beginning.” I argue that he’s right– about 99% of the time. Unfortunately this look at WikiLeaks and hacker-turned-whistleblower Julian Assange falls into the 1%.
2. Bullet to the Head – Budget: $25 million, Global box office: $9 million, Return: 36% With a name like Bullet to the Head you know the new Sylvester Stallone movie isn’t a romantic comedy. Although he paraphrases the most famous rom com line of all time, “You had be at BLEEP BLEEP!” the movie is nothing but an ode to testosterone.
3. Getaway – Budget: R180-million, Global box office: R105-million, Return: 58 percent. On a scale of zero to stupid, ”Getaway” ranks an eleven. It is what we call in the film criticism business a S.D.M. (Silly Damn Movie). OK, I made that last part up, but I couldn’t really think of any other category to place this movie under. Maybe E.S.D.M. (Extremely Silly Damn Movie).
I don’t think it’s fair to charge audiences full price for screenings of “Captain Phillips.”
While watching this exciting new Tom Hanks thriller I was reminded of the old Monster Trucks ads that bellowed, “You Pay for the Whole Seat but You’ll Only Need the Edge!”
It a film about piracy and I don’t mean the sleazy guys who bootleg movies but the real pirates who were responsible for the first hijacking of an American cargo ship in two hundred years.
Based on the true story of veteran seadog Captain Richard Phillips (Hanks) who took on a routine voyage around the Horn of Africa in April 2009. Piloting the MV Maersk Alabama and loaded with food and fresh water, his ship was stalked by Somali Pirates led by Muse (Barkhad Abdi).
“Chances are its just fishermen,” says his first mate.
“They’re not here to fish,” Phillips replies, watching the heavily armed attackers through binoculars.
He calls for a piracy drill that goes from pretend to “real world” as the pirates prepare to board the ship.
Once aboard Muse makes it clear he doesn’t want to harm anyone. “Nobody gets hurt,” he says. “Its just business.”
But business turns violent when it becomes clear the expected million-dollar payday Muse and company were expecting isn’t going to pan out. Offered $30,000 he snorts, “What do I look like, a beggar?”
As the situation escalates Phillips is taken aboard a life raft, kidnapped, bound for Somalia where he’ll be held for ransom.
Paul Greengrass is a master of action. His work on the second and third Jason Bourne films and “United 93,” which placed the audience in the middle of the action during the 9/11 hijackings are white-knuckle action flicks that don’t simply entertain with explosions, fight scenes and shoot ‘em up scenes. Instead he stages epic action scenes that feel intimate, as if a fist (or worse!) may fly off the screen and bonk the viewer on the head.
His scenes involve the viewer and as such are exciting in a way that Michael Bay’s sequences, despite bigger budgets and giant robots, will never be.
“Captain Phillips” is a case in point. Greengrass does a great job of portraying the vastness of the ocean and the isolation of the ship and its crew, which accentuates the helplessness of the unarmed sailors against the greedy pirates. A quiet scene in the ship’s boiler room with only the pirate’s footsteps to beak the silence is also unbearably tense.
It’s outsized action and setting, brought down to a personal level, which increases the human stakes and the audience’s connection to the story.
At the center of it all are two remarkable performances. Hanks is reliable, despite an uneven Bostonian accent, anchoring the film with his rock solid heroics. (SPOILER ALERT) It’s only in the film’s final moments, when the ordeal is over, that Hanks really unloads with the kind of raw and shell shocked reaction that the Academy is going to love.
Abdi also impresses. This is an action movie and as written he is primarily a plot device to keep the action moving forward, but despite an underwritten part he brings some humanity to the villain role. His explanation for his way of life, that he is a victim of limited opportunity and not a bad man, helps place his actions in context.
“Captain Phillips” is a terrifically tense thriller that is worth the price of a full seat, even though you’ll only use the edge.
When you think of the movies of Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone gut busting action comes to mind. The names Steve Martin and Adam Sandler are forever connected to comedy while Daniel Day Lewis is synonymous with serious drama. Meg Ryan? She’ll always be a romantic comedy star just as the mere mention of Robert Eglund’s can name send a chill down the spine.
But what about Tom Hanks? Hanks is a rarity among a-listers. He’s an actor who has avoided stereotyping by pasting together a resume that includes every almost genre of film.
This weekend he stars in Captain Phillips, a drama based on the true story of the 2009 hijacking of the MV Maersk Alabama by Somali pirates.
It’s a heroic role—in real life President Obama said Capt. Richard Phillips’ courage “is a model for all Americans.”—but it’s a far cry from his last movie, Cloud Atlas, which saw him play three characters, one of which tossed a critic out of a skyscraper window.
His varied IMDB listing includes everything from comedies like Splash (“What you looking at? You never seen a guy who slept with a fish before?”) to Academy Award winning dramas like Philadelphia, where he played a gay lawyer with AIDS suing his firm for discrimination and Forrest Gump.
In the kid’s classic Toy Story (and its subsequent sequels) he’s Woody, a stuffed pull-string cowboy doll. Director John Lasseter says he wanted Hanks to play the character because of his “ability to take emotions and make them appealing.”
Much darker is Road to Perdition, the 2002 Sam Mendes film that cast Hanks as Michael Sullivan, Sr, an ace hitman who must protect his son from a mob assassin. “I just got this guy,” says Hanks. “If you’re a man, and you’ve got offspring… emotionally, it’s devastating.”
Different still is Nothing in Common, a dramedy that saw Hanks play a successful advertising executive trying to cope with his parents’ (Jackie Gleason and Eva Marie Saint) break up. “[It] has a bit of a split personality,” Hanks said, “because we’re trying to be very funny in the same movie in which we’re trying to be very touching.”
Hanks says, “I’m not looking for any particular kind of story,” and his varied approach to his work hasn’t hurt him one bit. Recently he was named America’s “best-liked movie star,” in a poll by Public Policy Polling.