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Mark's Media Musings

Not likely that anyone has been, but in case you’ve been wondering why I haven’t been writing much on here recently it because I’ve been throwing a few articles up on moviepilot.com.

You can see my profile here: http://moviepilot.com/markrkerr

Thanks for reading,
Mark.

Oscar Predictions UPDATED

So if I had been more on the ball I’d have watched every single Oscar nominee and would have made a full list of predictions.

But alas I’m not that prepared so I’ve made a list of the big awards / ones I care about.

This list will consist of two things.

Who I want to win each award and who I think will actually win them.

UPDATE: Below I have added a tick (✓) beside the correct results and a cross (X) beside the incorrect ones. I have also added a tally at the bottom of the results.

So without further ado…

Best Picture

My choice: Dallas Buyers Club X
My prediction: Gravity X

Best Actor

My choice: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club 
My prediction: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf Of Wall Street X

Best Actress

My choice: Amy Adams, American Hustle X
My prediction: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine 

Best Supporting Actor

My choice: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club 
My prediction: Michael Fassbender, 12 Years A Slave X

Best Supporting Actress

My choice: Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years A Slave 
My prediction: Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle X

Best Animated Feature

My choice: Frozen 
My prediction: Frozen 

Best Cinematography

My choice: Gravity 
My prediction: Gravity 

Best Director

My choice: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity 
My prediction: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity 

Best Adapted Screenplay
My choice: 12 Years A Slave 
My prediction: Captain Phillips X

Best Original Screenplay

My choice: Dallas Buyers Club X
My prediction: Her 

Best Foreign Language Film

My choice: The Hunt X
My prediction: The Great Beauty 

UPDATE:
My choices [7/11]
My predictions [6/11]

I’m not trying to diminish the rest of the awards by not predicting them, I just have other things I’d like to do this evening.

Thanks for reading,
Mark.

Best Of 2013

It still hasn’t really registered with me that we’re into a new year. 2014 just sounds bizarre because I’d just about gotten used to it being 2013. As I look back, it’s been a pretty good year for me and a pretty good year for media. As I did last year, I’ve compiled a short list of my favourite films, TV shows and music from the last 12 months and brief reasons why I made such selections.

Top 3 Films

Django Unchained

I wrote a review for this back when I first saw which feels like longer than a year ago. I’m reluctant to say I enjoyed this film considering the themes it deals with but as a movie-going experience, I did. It was funny yet touching, ridiculous yet truthful and it was stylish yet accurate. I haven’t seen it since the cinema so I look forward to watching it again and remembering more of the specifics.

About Time

I went to see this film twice and can honestly say I would gladly have seen it a third. It was a beautiful film that wasn’t as much ‘about time’ as the title might suggest. It’s more about what we do with it. For Domhnall Gleeson that was to pursue Rachel McAdams, a mission I felt I too should partake in upon leaving the theatre. It’s one of these feel good films that leaves the viewer with a real message: enjoy your life. My suggestion for doing so? Watch this film.

Frozen

I love DIsney. I love musicals. Combine the two and you’re onto a winner. Sure films like Frozen and Tangled were created primarily for children under the age of 10 but go and listen to ‘Let It Go’ and try to tell me you don’t get shivers down your spine. This film was genuinely funny and full of heart.

Honourable Mention

Gravity

Until about the one hour mark of this film I was actually convinced I was watching one of the best films ever made. But like the recent rumoured Friends reunion, some things are just too good to be true. The story got soppy and the film felt rushed in the final third and that’s what prevented this from being one of the top three.

Films I Missed That I Wish I Hadn’t

The Way, Way Back

Much Ado About Nothing

Kill Your Darlings

Top 3 TV Shows

Breaking Bad

I can’t talk about 2013 TV without mentioning Breaking Bad's final half-season. I've been watching this show for years now (I caught up around the time the end of season 2 was airing I believe) and it's been one hell of a ride. From that first scene of the RV tearing up the dirt road to the final moments, I've enjoyed every second which unfortunately isn't the case with much of today's TV. If a show's successful, it's bled dry (look at House) so it’s refreshing to see TV executives who care more about the show than the money it brings in.

The Newsroom

This show has divided audiences since the moment it first aired. I am on the side that freaking adores it. Aaron Sorkin is a brilliant writer and the cast that’s been brought together for this show is one of the best ensembles on TV at the minute. I recently heard the show has been renewed for a third and final season. While I’m happy it’s been renewed, I’m sad I will only get one more year of new ACN content.

The Office

This choice is one of nostalgia. The Office was strictly speaking not one of the best shows of 2013, nor even one of the best comedies. It has been however one of the best shows of the past 9 years. I’ve spent many, many hours in Scranton, PA when I probably should’ve been doing other more productive things and while this final season wasn’t the best the show has seen, it felt like a nice send off for a show that will long live in my memory.

Honourable Mention

Parks and Recreation

Consistently the best comedy on TV.

Shows That I Missed That I Wish I Hadn’t

House Of Cards

The Americans

Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Music I Enjoyed

Aloe Blacc - His Wake Me Up EP in particular.

Miley Cyrus - Half of her album is great, the other album is some of the worst music I’ve ever heard.

Biffy Clyro - Their Opposites album.

Hans Zimmer - The Man Of Steel OST was much better than the actual film.

Marianas Trench - Heard this band in the summer for the first time. Really enjoyed their music.

And so that concludes my Best Of 2013. I realise there’s a lot of text but hopefully if you’ve got this far, it was worth your time.

Thanks for reading,

Mark.

Movie Month

So already this month I’ve seen American Hustle, The Wolf Of Wall Street and 12 Years A Slave (review TBD) and with Inside Llewyn Davis arriving on Friday and Her shortly after, I’m really not sure my wallet can keep up.

This happened last year too and don’t get me wrong, I love a good film.

But why do they all have to arrive at the same time?

I watched Blood Simple tonight to start getting myself prepped for Lleywn because as much as I can rave about different actors and directors and whatever else, the Coen Brothers are my personal undisputed kings of cinema.

Sam Mendes and Charlie Kaufman are their director and writer Prince sons though.

It’s late and I’m making very little sense.

Goodnight MMM readers.

Thanks for reading,

Mark.

The Wolf Of Wall Street

I’ve been out of the theatre for about two hours and I still can’t make my mind up about this film. Some elements were great, some were far from it. The real task I have here is weighing up how much there was of each and determining a score that reflects that.

I’m not going to write much at this point. I’ll start with my positives.

DiCaprio was fantastic as an unlikeable and depraved stockbroker and is worthy of his nomination for Best Actor despite my misgivings about some of his character’s life choices. The sheer scope of his acting ability is just phenomenal and this film gives him ample opportunity to demonstrate that.

Jonah Hill is similarly great and for me edges Bradley Cooper ever so slightly and wins my vote for Best Supporting Actor at this years Oscars. The supporting cast can’t be faulted and it’s great to see some familiar faces among said chorus.

There were some amazing shots, amazing scenes and amazing exchanges of dialogue so credit where it’s due to Scorsese and Winter. The music choices were also very strong.

But I did not overly enjoy this film.

The plot was not anywhere near engaging enough to warrant it’s 180 minute running time, there were gratuitous amounts of nudity, swearing and drug use and I couldn’t help but feel that the film was somewhat hollow; soulless.

I was very excited for this film and while American Hustle lived up to my expectations, The Wolf Of Wall Street unfortunately fell short.

I’ve changed my mind since a couple of days ago. I don’t want DiCaprio to win his Oscar this year any more. He definitely deserves one but this is not the film to get him it. He has starred in many fantastic films already in his career and I hope will star in many more but this film was not one of them.

Were I the completely emotionally-detached blogger I probably should be, I would say that this is one of DiCaprio’s greatest ever performances but alas I am a big softie at heart and don’t want to see Jordan Belfort win the Oscar. I want to see Arnie Grape or Jack Dawson or even Jay Gatsby win it. But their time is gone. And so I await the next film where he shows every other actor on the planet how it’s done and hopefully I’ll enjoy that one.

Because as much as I try to focus on the media, I’ll always be swayed by my own emotions and opinions and I just felt Leo’s talents were wasted on this film.

I’m not going to award a score because I’m not sure even now what I would give it. DiCaprio’s performance was superb but a cherry on a crap won’t make it taste much better.

Thanks for reading,

Mark.

American Hustle

I had started an American Hustle review a week ago when I first saw it but as I tried to articulate my thoughts and opinions in writing I found that it became less coherent the more I wrote. Basically I was ‘waffling’ (a term so often scribbled beside my pieces of writing in the days of secondary education). So I thought I’d try again.

Silver Linings Playbook and The Fighter are two of my favourite films of the last few years. The acting is great, the writing is great and the directing is great. Therefore it’s only natural I would be excited for a film that combined the best of the casts from both while retaining the same director / writer (SLP) in David O. Russell and while I’m cautious about getting super excited for films, I was not disappointed. This is a very good film.

The acting is superb. Christian Bale puts in a performance that’s going to make DiCaprio's chances of winning that Academy Award much more challenging. Bale plays Irving Rosenfeld, a New York con man and as per usual, Bale is so believable in his role and judging by his character's gut, his commitment to method acting hasn't changed. Jeremy Renner also delivered one of the best performances of his career as mayor Carmine Polito and showed a more tender side to the actor that I personally haven't seen before. Jennifer Lawrence is brilliant as Irving's neglected wife Rosalyn, putting her versatility and emotional range on full display. Bradley Cooper follows up SLP with another very strong performance that allows for more variety than SLP ever did while Amy Adams is great too. Her British accent however is simply awful.

One thing that made me love this film was how stylish it was The hair, the suits, the cars. Just fantastic. And the production team did really well to create a believable ’70s feel.

The story is pretty original and really engrossing and while I will admit the final ‘hustle’ was perhaps a tad underwhelming, on the whole it was fine.

I’ve spent much too long writing this review.

I give it an 8 because it wasn’t perfect but it was pretty darn close.

Thanks for reading,

Mark.

Leo

As Chris Hemworth and the Oscar lady were making their way to what I can only assume was a podium or lectern of some description to reveal this year’s Academy Award nominations, I was in bed, my rest unimpeded by the impending announcements. In truth I have kept a closer eye on nominations in previous years than this and wasn’t even aware the ceremony was taking place last night. Since then however I’ve caught up with the rest of the internet and have discerned the proposed nominees.

One nominee stands out more prominently than all of the rest particularly amongst the population of this website. I am of course referring to Leonardo DiCaprio and his search for the one award that has eluded him thus far in his career. The masses cry ‘INJUSTICE!’ and ‘CONSPIRACY!’ but I’m not so sure. Now don’t let me fool you. I am a big fan of Leo, I think he’s one of the greatest actors in the business today and I do think it is a shame that he hasn’t won an Academy Award yet but first and foremost it is important to note, he’s not alone.

Jim Carrey, Steve Buscemi, Meg Ryan, Hugh Grant and Jeff Daniels (among others) have a grand total of zero Oscar nominations between them, never mind wins. While many would argue that some of these actors aren’t of the same quality as DiCaprio, I would argue it’s not as much to do with quality as consistency. All have put in Oscar-worthy performances but the difference is DiCaprio seems to put them in on a more regular basis. However, given the fact that the Oscars are an annual awards ceremony, I don’t think that DiCaprio has any more right to an Oscar than any of the other above actors.

Let my explain. In my opinion Steve Buscemi deserved Best Supporting Actor in 1996 for Fargo. Similarly, in my opinion Leonardo DiCaprio deserved Best Supporting Actor in 2013 for Django Unchained. Neither were even nominated. Same scenario, different year. In my opinion both deserved Oscars but neither got one. Just because DiCaprio has had this experience on more than one occasion, doesn’t take away from the fact that in 1996, Steve Buscemi deserved an Oscar but didn’t get one. I would then argue that both deserve such an award equally.

If we were talking about a special award like Lifetime Achievement or something similar I would concede that DiCaprio is more deserving. He consistently gives his all to his roles and quite simply makes films better when he’s in them. I’m glad to see that he’s been nominated this year and I am eagerly anticipating The Wolf of Wall Street. While I haven’t seen all the Best Actor nominees in action, I do secretly hope DiCaprio wins because despite all my above arguments, I think nostalgia is getting the best of me. I can’t think of a film he was in that I didn’t enjoy, I can’t think of many actors I’d love to just hang out with and I can’t see past the fact that he hasn’t won one yet.

By my own reasoning everything I just said shouldn’t matter. He should be judged on his performance in The Wolf of Wall Street and nothing else. But I just admitted I want him to win and I haven’t even seen the film yet. What does that say about my integrity as an amateur film critic? I think it says that Leonardo DiCaprio is a bloody good actor and it’s about time he got to put that cabinet on his mantelpiece that he bought back in ‘94 to use.

Godspeed Leo. I wish I could say that I wasn’t.

But I’m rooting for you.

Thanks for reading,

Mark.

Burning Love Season 1

I was told I should watch this show so while on Netflix earlier, doing my usual ‘browse-until-something-catches-my-eye’ technique, I remembered the recommendation. I initially thought ‘I’ll watch maybe twenty minutes’. Almost two hours later and I had finished season one and therefore all the UK Netflix had to offer.

It was very funny. Crude at times I’ll admit but mostly just funny. I loved spotting Party Down and Parks and Rec actors throughout and really enjoy watching Ken Marino. What can I say? He’s a funny guy.

I’m going to watch season two sometime soon, although I was sad to learn that the advertised Hot For Teacher series was never made. Annie was my favourite and I would’ve picked her because a woman who can bake is a woman to keep as has been hinted at by Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty, a personal hero of mine despite the recent controversies.

I’ll probably throw my thoughts about it up here too so you can look forward to that bound-to-be-enthralling piece of prose.

Thanks for reading,

Mark.

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Return

So I’ve neglected this blog for quite a while which always seems to happen when I attempt any such venture. Alas I have returned however and have a lot to catch up with. 2013 was a year of great TV, film and music so I reckon I’ll probably begin with a ‘Best Of’ list in a similar fashion to the one I compiled this time last year.

Following that I expect I’ll share a few thoughts on some of the features that I’ve been privileged enough to see in the last short while. Just tonight upon returning to my home from home, Scotland, I went to see American Hustle. I really enjoyed it and will explain why in due course.

In some startling news, I’m going to reshuffle my reviewing (if you can call it that) model and move to a simpler 0-10 scale because the newest episode of Community has shone new light on what an ‘A-’ really means. More truthfully though, I’ve just grown tired of the lettering system and feel using numbers is more accurate.

I want it to be made clear though that ‘7’ is not average. There are only 3 figures above it in such a scale and 7 below it. That is nowhere near the middle. An ‘average’ film should get around a ‘5’. That means there was about as much good as there was bad. Just wanted to clarify that.

Also it is a 0-10 scale. Only whole numbers will be used. To use decimal points would be to use a 0-100 scale which is not what I am going for. 0-100 is much too much scope. 0-10 is more precise, more decisive and therefore more relevant to the readers. Were I to use 0-100 I’d end up picking ‘76’ out of the air for a film that should be a 7 just because I’d feel like I wasn’t utilising the scale properly. Again I just wanted to ensure that my decision for this alteration is understood by the reader.

Anyway, I’ll probably return with more ramblings sometime soon.

Thanks for reading,

Mark.

benwyattss asked:

Hey man! I really love your blog, especially reading your reviews! I am a massive movie fan and I was wondering, do you have any films that you would recommend as must-sees for a film fan?

Thanks very much! You’ve got impeccable taste in TV and film judging by your blog. As for films I’d recommend, I’m no expert but here’s a few of my favourites:

-Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

-Away We Go

-One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

-Moon

-Let The Right One In

-Fargo (and pretty much every other Coen Brothers film for that matter)

-Side Effects

Those are the 7 that I can think of off-hand that I would seriously recommend watching. You’ve probably seen a few of them before but hopefully there’s a couple you haven’t cause they are all fantastic.

Thanks once again for your kind words, feel free to send any of your own must-see movies my way, I’m always looking to discover more good films and especially those recommended by someone with such good taste.

Hope that answers your question,

Mark.