Archive for December, 2011

The best films of 2011

Posted in Best of... on December 28, 2011 by Steve Mesa

If there is a thing to say the movies of 2011, it would have to be that this year in movies was far better than last year. Some of the highlights from the films of 2011 include superheroes ready to assemble for next year, odes to silent movies, director Woody Allen’s return to comedy and the epic conclusion to a decade-old film franchise. This is just the tip of the iceberg as I pick the lucky ten movies that have made my annual list for the best films of 2011. Continue reading

The latest “Mission: Impossible” movie is action-packed and filled with thrills

Posted in Uncategorized on December 17, 2011 by Steve Mesa

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You can call it mission accomplished as director Brad Bird (“The Iron Giant”, “The Incredibles”) manages to create the best entry of the “Mission: Impossible” franchise, “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol”.

When IMF Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is sent to jail in stuck in jail in Moscow, he escapes with the help of his fellow IMF agents Jane Carter (Paula Patton) and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg). With their help, Hunt’s latest mission is to break into the Kremilin in order to retrieve some information. However, when a massive explosion badly damages the Kremlin, the IMF is framed for it and told by the secretary of state (Tom Wilkinson) that the president has invoked ‘ghost protocol”, which means that they are shut down and will not receive any support from the US government. Joined by a highly-trained paper pusher and former IMF agent (Jeremy Renner), they are on the run trying to stop a terrorist (Michael Nyqvist) who wants to start a nuclear war between the US and Russia with some stolen codes that he will help him do that.

From the time the movie starts, “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” immediately goes into action mode with an impressive prologue featuring Josh Holloway (Sawyer from “Lost”) as an agent escaping from some bad guys. From there on, the film is hell of a ride filled with action-packed sequences and cool gadgets that could possibly exist with today’s technology. The plot itself is fairly simple and straightforward with enough interesting twists and turns to keep you interested with the movie and not leave you in a state of confusion.

One thing fans of the franchise might notice this time around is that Tom Cruise plays Hunt as a more human and vulnerable person in this entry then the film’s predecessors. While he is still a super spy, it show the consequences that Hunt pays whenever things do not go according to plan or anytime he falls down and gets hit.

Simon Pegg has a much more fleshed out role this time around as the computer whiz who just recently was promoted to field agent. Pegg’s perfect comedic timing adds some good-nature humor to a franchise that is not always about laughs, unless you count John Woo’s “Mission: Impossible II”, which I was laughing a lot throughout the film because how hilariously ridiculous and bad it was.  Paula Patton and Jeremy Renner deliver good performances with Patton as deadly as she is sexy and Renner showing his vulnerability as a man with a dark past and the fighting skill to show that he is ready for his role in the next Bourne movie.

The lack of charisma from the film’s villain and personal conflict between the antagonist and protagonist would have to be the only weakness for the movie. It is not that Michael Nvqvist delivered an unimpressive turn as Kurt He, it is just his character was not quite an effective or memorable villain compared to Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s turn as Owen Davian in “Mission: Impossible III”, who says to Hunt’s face that he will find the people he love and make them suffer. Even Sabine Moreau (Lea Seydoux), a female assassin, made more compelling villain then Hendricks because she did something to personally affect one of the IMF team members.  

While Tom Cruise may be the star this movie, it is Bird who makes this film as exciting as any action movie that has come out this year, which is not bad for his first live-action movie. In all the main locations, Bird and director of photography Robert Elswit shot half an hour of “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” with IMAX cameras where they capture amazing establishing shots that showcase the massive cities that the movie is set in. Bird takes advantage of the IMAX cameras as he composes one large set-piece after another whether it Hunt climbing the tallest building in the world or Hunt fighting Hendricks in a car factory is that is mix between Cruise’s fight scene with Colin Farrell in “Minority Report” and a live-action version of Donkey Kong. The sounds and sights of watching this movie in IMAX is well worth the extra money because you may not get a better action movie experience like this again. 

“Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” is everything you expect out of a “Mission Impossible” movie, but it also happens to an exhilarating and fun ride that has a easy story to follow and fantastic action sequences that take advantage of the IMAX format.

“Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol”: 4.5 stars out of 5

Oscar nomination projections: December edition

Posted in Festival/awards on December 15, 2011 by Steve Mesa

With the announcement of the nominations for the Critic Choice Awards, SAG awards and Golden Globe awards, we are well on our way to the Oscar. In order to complete this puzzle and finalize my predictions, there is still the announcement of the PGA and DGA nominees in January. For now, here are the possible future Oscar nominees that are going to be announced on January 24.

Best Picture

The Artist

The Descendants

The Help

Hugo

Moneyball

The Tree of Life

War Horse

Alternates: Bridemaids, Extremely Close and Incredibly Loud, Midnight in Paris

Best Actor

George Clooney-The Descendants

Leonardo DiCaprio-J. Edgar

Jean Dujardin-The Artist

Michael Fassbender-Shame

Brad Pitt-Moneyball

Alternate: Michael Shannon-Take Shelter

Best Actress

Glenn Close-Albert Nobbs

Viola Davis-The Help

Meryl Streep-The Iron Lady

Tilda Swinton-We Need to Talk About Kevin

Michelle Williams-My Week with Marilyn

Alternate: Charlize Theron-Young Adult

Best Supporting Actor

Albert Brooks-Drive

Kenneth Branaugh-My Week with Marilyn

Jonah Hill-Moneyball

Nick Nolte-Warrior

Christopher Plummer-Beginners

Alternate: Patton Oswalt-Young Adult

Best Supporting Actress

Bernice Bejo-The Artist

Jessica Chastain-The Help

Melissa McCarthy-Bridesmaids

Octavia Spencer-The Help

Shailene Woodley-The Descendants

Alternate: Janet McTeer-Albert Nobbs

Best Director

Michael Hazanavicius-The Artist

Terrance Malik-The Tree of Life

Alexander Payne-The Descendants

Martin Scorsese-Hugo

Steven Speilberg-War Horse

Alternate: Nicolas Winding Refn-Drive

2012 Golden Globe predictions

Posted in Festival/awards on December 14, 2011 by Steve Mesa

Best Motion Picture-Drama

  • The Descendants            
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
  • The Help                             
  • Hugo    
  • War Horse

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture-Drama

  • Glenn Close-Albert Nobbs                          
  • Viola Davis-The Help                      
  • Elizabeth Olsen-Martha Marcy May Marlene
  • Meryl Streep-The Iron Lady       
  • Tilda Swinton-We Need to Talk About Kevin       

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture-Drama

  • George Clooney-The Descendants
  • Leonardo DiCaprio-J. Edgar         
  • Michael Fassbender-Shame       
  • Ryan Gosling-Drive         
  • Brad Pitt-Moneyball

Best Motion Picture-Comedy/Musical

  • The Artist           
  • Bridesmaids      
  • Midnight in Paris             
  • The Muppets    
  • My Week with Marilyn 

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture-Comedy/Musical

  • Jodie Foster-Carnage    
  • Charlize Theron-Young Adult     
  • Kristen Wiig-Bridesmaids             
  • Michelle Williams-My Week with Marilyn            
  • Kate Winslet-Carnage   

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture-Comedy/Musical

  • Matt Damon-We Bought A Zoo
  • Johnny Depp-The Rum Diary     
  • Jean Dujardin-The Artist              
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt-50/50      
  • Owen Wilson-Midnight in Paris 

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture              

  • Bernice Bejo-The Artist
  • Jessica Chastain-The Help           
  • Melissa McCarthy-Bridesmaids 
  • Octavia Spencer-The Help
  • Shailene Woodley-The Descendants      

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

  • Albert Brooks-Drive
  • Kenneth Branaugh-My Week with Marilyn         
  • Jonah Hill-Moneyball                     
  • Nick Nolte-Warrior         
  • Christopher Plummer-Beginners                                             

Best Director-Motion Picture

  • Stephen Daldry-Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close     
  • Michael Hazanavicius-The Artist               
  • Alexander Payne-The Descendants        
  • Martin Scorsese-Hugo
  • Steven Spielberg-War Horse