2014 Oscar nomination predictions

Posted in Festival/awards with tags , , , , , , , , on January 13, 2014 by Steve Mesa

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It’s almost time as the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science will announce the nominations for the 86th Academy Awards Thursday morning. With the exception for the Shorts category, I decided to fearlessly predict each and every category. While it might sound easy to do, sometimes it is just plain hard as you can never know what the Academy could go for in certain categories. Let’s cut to chase…here are my predictions for the 86th annual Academy Awards. Continue reading

“August: Osage County” is a bittersweet Southern melodrama

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , on January 10, 2014 by Steve Mesa

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“August: Osage County,” the adaptation of playwright Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer and Tony-winning play, unfolds like a generic soap opera featuring an all-star cast instead of a compelling and original movie. Instead of evil twins, evil plots and people coming back from the dead, we get family secrets, tragic pasts and forbidden love affairs.  Continue reading

Predicting the 2014 Golden Globes

Posted in Festival/awards with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 10, 2014 by Steve Mesa
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Best Motion Picture – Drama
  • “12 Years a Slave
  • “Captain Phillips”
  • “Gravity”
  • “Rush”
  • “Philomena”

Who Will/Should Win: “12 Years a Slave”

 Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
  • “American Hustle”
  • “Her”
  • “Inside Llewyn Davis”
  • “Nebraska”
  • “The Wolf of Wall Street”

Who Will Win: “American Hustle”

Who Should Win: “Inside Llewyn Davis”
Continue reading

The Best Movies of 2013

Posted in Best of... with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 1, 2014 by Steve Mesa

The year 2013 has been an exciting and intriguing time in cinema. While some movies early in the year got my attention as little gems waiting to be discovered, the last two months are been fantastic. Almost every movie I saw during that period was worthy to recognized as one of the best films to come out this banner year. Every year, it is my duty to put together a list that recognizes the outstanding work of filmmakers whether it is a big-budget blockbuster adventure or a small independent film that is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered by others. This year also saw the return of some Oscar-winning directors who are proving that like fine wine, they are getting better with age. Continue reading

2014 Golden Globe predictions

Posted in Festival/awards with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 10, 2013 by Steve Mesa

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Tis the season for some film awards. Today is the beginning of the movie awards season with movie studios gearing up to champion their best films of the year. The  Screen Actors Guild (SAG) announced their nominations this morning that had some surprise nominations (Daniel Bruhl and Barkhad Abdi) and the predictable frontrunners (Cate Blanchett and Chiwetel Ejifor). Tomorrow morning, another batch of nominations will be announced courtesy of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. The Golden Globe nominations will be vast and somewhat different compared to the SAG nominations. Here are some of the films and actors that will likely score some nods tomorrow morning. Continue reading

2013 Emmy nomination prediction

Posted in Festival/awards on July 17, 2013 by Steve Mesa

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Continue reading

Joss Whedon modernizes Shakespeare with “Much Ado About Nothing”

Posted in Reviews on June 21, 2013 by Steve Mesa

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Leave it up to writer-director Joss Whedon to shoot a movie at his Santa Monica home in 12 days with his close friends while in the middle of editing a blockbuster movie like “The Avengers.” “Much Ado About Nothing” is the most original and charming take of one of William Shakespeare’s plays since Baz Luhrman took on the Bard with “William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet.” Shot in black and white, Whedon’s interpretation of this play moves the story from 1600 Italy and setting in comtemporary California while keeping the original text intact.

Accompanied with two of his soldiers Benedick (Alexis Denisof) and Claudio (Fran Kranz), Prince Don Pedro (Reed Diamond) visits the home of his friend, Leonato (Clark Gregg).  As soon as they arrived, Claudio falls head over heels for Leonato’s daughter Hero (Jillian Morgese) while the headstrong Benedick butt heads with Leonato’s stubborn niece Beatrice (Amy Acker). Meanwhile, Don Pedro’s brother Don John (Sean Maher) plots a despicable plot that would make everyone miserable and ruin the impending nuptials between Claudio and Hero.

Whedon takes certain elements from 1930s screwball comedies like rapid-paced dialogue and pratfalls to make “Much Ado About Nothing” a surprisingly hilarious and unique take. Like Clark Gable’s and Claudette Colbert’s characters in “It Happened One Night,” Benedick and Beatrice can stand to be near each other as they throw verbal barbs at each other. However, they unwittingly begin to realize they might be made for each other thanks to some plotting by Prince Don Pedro, Leonato, Hero and Claudio.

“Much Ado About Nothing” is literally nothing without the cast, who are comprised of actors Whedon have worked with on his other projects like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Firefly” and “The Cabin in the Woods.” While Denisof and Acker can be considered the stars of the film and are pitch-perfect as the verbal jousting Benedick and Beatrice, their supporting cast allows them not to put the whole weight of the movie solely on their shoulders. Kranz and Morgese are sweet as the secondary lovers Claudio and Hero. If Leslie Nielsen’s Frank Drebin from the “Naked Gun” series and David Caruso’s Horatio Cane from “CSI: Miami” had a baby together, it would perfectly sum up Nathan Fillion’s hilarious portrayal of the bumbling cop Dogberry.

Even though Kenneth Branagh was the first filmmaker to bring Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” to life on the big screen two decades earlier, Whedon’s take on the play is a refreshing breath of air in the romantic comedy genre that also allows him to give each cast member to have their own moment to shine in this film.

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