Tag Archives: Adam McKay

Oscar Bait – Vice / Green Book

Title: Vice
Director: Adam McKay
Year: 2018
Country: USA

Right, there’s no point mincing words here: Vice is one of the worst films that I’ve seen in years. In YEARS. I mean, I had trouble watching Fences but at least it had material for the cast to work with and the tour de force performance from Viola Davis to get me through. Not with Vice though, where I got an hour in and I couldn’t believe that I wasn’t even halfway towards the finish line.

Honestly, I thought that Bohemian Rhapsody was a shoo in for being my least favourite film in this batch of nominees. But no, Vice manages to eclipse that and it is all down to the choices that Adam McKay made. Here’s the thing, Dick Cheney’s life should have made for an engaging movie in the vein of House of Cards, but instead he goes for something far more flippant in an attempt to mimic the great The Big Short

In the end, this film just ends up being a boring mess which is a complete waste of Christian Bale and Amy Adams’ talents. As much as I hope Amy Adams one day wins an Oscar, please for the love of God do not let it be for this role in Vice. She should have won for Arrival over Emma Stone in La La Land – but that’s something for another time. Vice is such a drag to watch – I’m just glad to never have to see it again.

Title: Green Book
Director: Peter Farrelly
Year: 2018
Country: USA

And this is it, the final Best Picture nominee from this year’s Academy Awards. It’s one where I have probably heard the most conflicting opinions with a co-worker (whose taste I trust) seeing it in the cinema twice to hearing a film reviewer say that Viggo Mortensen’s acting is so broad that it has made them re-evaluate him as a performer. Quite a contrast.

The benefit of hearing such differing thoughts is that you really can go into a film and just take the film as it comes… which for the first half an hour was the fear that this was going to be another Vice. During this first section I got the criticism of Mortensen’s acting and I began to question how this film could ever be considered a comedy. Then Mahershala Ali came on screen and suddenly I began to enjoy the film.

There is no doubt that, at times, there are some issues with the film. The score tries to hard to highlight emotional moments that it can become overly sentimental. Some scenes and lines feel like they are reaching too hard to be Oscar worthy that it can be off-putting… as well as making you feel that they have been heavily fictionalised. In the end though, despite these problems, this is a good film that really flies as long as Mortensen and Ali’s characters are together. As much as I loved Adam Driver in BlacKkKlansman – the supporting actor Oscar deserves to, once again, rest in Ali’s hands.

So, where does this leave me with the final rankings. Honestly, this is not as strong a group as last year but that’s on the Academy for failing to nominate better films. These films were out there and eligible to be nominated, but that’s just how it goes. In the end, unless you are paid to do so, it’s difficult to think of people out there who can watch every single films in a given year that might be good enough for the award.

Anyway here are my ranking, for what it’s worth:

1) The Favourite
2) Roma
3) BlacKkKlansman
4) A Star Is Born
5) Green Book
6) Black Panther

7) Bohemian Rhapsody
8) Vice

Oscar Bait – Spotlight / The Big Short

Annual/regular updates to the lists that I follow for this bucket list blog are both the best and worst thing about them. I know that for most of them I am far away from finishing, but it can be rather vexing to see the numbers go down every now and then.

The Best Picture list is a rare case. No film will ever be stripped of its award, but the list continues to grow. As such, I usually try and watch as many of the (predicted) nominees as possibly in the months leading up to award.
So, in the interest of crossing the eventual winner off (as well as some future 1001 films) there will be four posts this week with a round up of the films I managed to watch before I the ceremony on February 28th.

spotlightTitle: Spotlight
Director: Tom McCarthy
Year: 2015
Country: USA

Spotlight is the nominee I was looking forward to seeing the most with the exception of Room. As such it was the first of the eight that I went to see.

My takeaway message from this film is one that haunts me as I write this down. In the movie they give the estimate that 6% of Catholic priests at some point molest/rape children. I, as I mentioned in January, used to work in a Catholic school. The possibility that I would be teaching someone who could have suffered at their hands had never really occurred to me. Now, I am terrified that the law of averages dictated that I did.

That is the power of Spotlight. Think of it as a modern All The President’s Men, but with better pacing and a more gripping subject (as a non-American). The central three of Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams and Michael Keaton are the beating journalistic heart of the movie. Ruffalo in particular shines as the rather twitchy and singular minded Michael Rezendes.

The impressive thing is that we know how this ends. We may not know the details, but even on this side of the pond we were able to feel the repercussions. Yet, every twist and turn is able to keep you on your seat and swearing at the utter shittiness of everyone involved in the huge cover-up.

This would be a worthy winner.

bigshortTitle: The Big Short
Director: Adam McKay
Year: 2015
Country: USA

How the hell did the director of Step Brothers create this? This is arguably the smartest of all the movies nominated this year and is, by far, the funniest. Going into The Big Short my understanding of the financial crisis was pretty basic. I mean I had never heard of CDOs – synthetic or otherwise. Thanks to some well executed-acts of fourth wall breaking and Margot Robbie in a bubble bath I am glad to say that I understand things a bit more.

What I fail to understand/wish I did not understand is how long it took before the banks to put their hands up. There are moments in this film where you find yourself just staring blankly because you can’t quite come to terms with the sheer amount of greed on display.

For me this is typified by the scenes in Florida. All the warning signs are there, but since the collapse of the housing market had never happened before no one (bar a select few) thought it would ever happen.

The biggest shock for me, however, is right at the beginning where we are brought to the nexus of the idea that would bring about the downfall of the US housing market and, as an unfair consequence, the rest of the world. The fact that it was a pretty innocent and safe idea that got abused and mutated… just wow.

Should this win? Probably not. Should this be shown in economics classes for years to come? Most definitely.

Current Rankings
1) Spotlight
2) The Big Short