Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Michigan Movie Guy's 2016 Oscar Predictions

Oh, what a year it's been for film. So many great films. And now, that year is coming to an end tonight with the 88th Academy Awards. Here are my predictions in all 24 categories!

Best Picture

All of the films listed were excellent. However, there are 3 films that don't really have a chance at winning: Brooklyn, Bridge of Spies, & The Martian. Mad Max: Fury Road could win, but I don't see the Academy giving the award to an action movie. Room could win, but I highly doubt it. And the frontrunners are The Big Short, The Revenant, & Spotlight. The Big Short could win, if certain things go their way, & the same also goes for Spotlight. But, I believe that The Revenant will win Best Picture.

Best Director

Lenny Abrahamson's nomination for Room was very unexpected, & he doesn't really stand a chance. Tom McCarthy's direction of Spotlight was considered a frontrunner, but has faltered recently. Adam McKay could win for The Big Short, but the chances of that are slim. So it's down to Alejandro G. Iñárritu for The Revenant, & George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road. But I think Iñárritu will win his second straight Oscar for Best Director.

Best Actor

I think it's safe to say Leonardo DiCaprio is finally going to win his first Oscar. Bryan Cranston shouldn't have been nominated for Trumbo, but Michael B. Jordan should've been nominated for Creed instead. Eddie Redmayne already won last year, so he won't win this year for The Danish Girl. Matt Damon's nomination for The Martian never really stood a chance. The only person that was close to DiCaprio was Michael Fassbender for Steve Jobs, but he'll finish a distant second. DiCaprio will win.

Best Actress

Brie Larson will definitely win for Room. She's been the frontrunner for a long time. Cate Blanchett for Carol & Jennifer Lawrence for Joy never really stood a chance. Charlotte Rampling was good, but I don't think she should've been nominated for 45 Years, & Alicia Vikander should've been put in this category for The Danish Girl instead. Saoirse Ronan for Brooklyn had the best female performance this year, but the momentum has been, & is going towards Larson. The award goes to Brie Larson. 

Best Supporting Actor

All the actors here gave excellent performances. Christian Bale gave his best performance ever in The Big Short. Tom Hardy became a menacing villain in The Revenant. Mark Ruffalo gave it his all in Spotlight. And Mark Rylance made a name for himself in Hollywood with his role in Bridge of Spies. But Sylvester Stallone will get the Oscar for his excellent return to his role of Rocky Balboa in Creed.

Best Supporting Actress

Jennifer Jason Leigh was amazing in The Hateful Eight. Rooney Mara was dazzling in Carol. And Rachel McAdams was excellent in Spotlight. But it will come down to Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl & Kate Winslet in Steve Jobs. Winslet could win, but Vikander will win. Vikander should be nominated for Best Actress instead, & Julie Walters should've been nominated in this category for Brooklyn.

Best Original Screenplay

All of these films had excellent screenplays. But Spotlight will definitely win. None of the other films stand a chance.

Best Adapted Screenplay

It's definitely going to be The Big Short. Room could possibly win, but those chances are slim. The others definitely don't stand a chance. The Big Short will deservedly win.

Best Cinematography

It's definitely going to The Revenant. All of these films had great cinematography, but The Revenant will definitely win.

Best Film Editing

The only 2 films that could win are The Big Short & Mad Max: Fury Road. The other films don't stand a chance. But Mad Max: Fury Road will win. The Big Short could definitely win, but I think Mad Max: Fury Road will win.

Best Original Song

It's going to go to Lady Gaga & Diane Warren for Till It Happens to You from The Hunting Ground. The only potential spoilers would be Sam Smith's Writing's on the Wall from Spectre, & The Weeknd's Earned It from Fifty Shades of Grey. But Lady Gaga & Diane Warren will win.

Best Original Score

John Williams was excellent again with Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Thomas Newman was nothing short of excellent with Bridge of Spies. Jóhann Jóhannsson was great again with Sicario. And Carter Burwell finally got his first Oscar nomination with his excellent score for Carol. But Ennio Morricone will finally get his first Oscar for The Hateful Eight.

Best Production Design

Mad Max: Fury Road definitely takes this category. None of the other films stand a chance. This award definitely goes to Mad Max: Fury Road.

Best Visual Effects

This will either go to Star Wars: The Force Awakens or Mad Max: Fury Road. But it will go to Star Wars: The Force Awakens. 

Best Sound Editing

It's down to Mad Max: Fury Road & The Revenant. But Mad Max: Fury Road will definitely take this category.

Best Costume Design

It's between 3 movies: Carol, Cinderella (both designed by Sandy Powell), & Mad Max: Fury Road. Mad Max: Fury Road will take this. Carol & Cinderella could both be potential spoilers, but I don't see it happening.

Best Sound Mixing

Once again, it's down to Mad Max: Fury Road & The Revenant. But The Revenant wins it here.

Best Makeup & Hairstyling

I haven't seen The 100-Year Old Man Who Climbed out the Window & Disappeared, but Mad Max: Fury Road & The Revenant both had amazing makeup & hairstyling. But this goes to Mad Max: Fury Road.
Best Animated Feature

I've only seen Inside Out & Anomalisa. I loved Anomalisa, but I loved Inside Out even more. And Inside Out will win.

Best Foreign Language Film

Son of Saul is gonna win. The only potential spoilers are Mustang & A War, but I don't see any of them winning. Son of Saul wins it.

Best Documentary Feature

Amy is going to be the winner. The only potential spoiler is Cartel Land. But Amy takes the award. However, I believe that Where to Invade Next should've been nominated.

Best Animated Short Film

The frontrunners are Sanjay's Super Team & World of Tomorrow. But Sanjay's Super Team will win it, giving Pixar their first Oscar for Best Animated Short since 2001's For the Birds.

Best Documentary Short Film

The frontrunner is Body Team 12. And that's what will win it. A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness could be a potential spoiler, but I highly doubt it. Body Team 12 will win it.

Best Live Action Short Film

Ave Maria is the frontrunner. And it will win it. Stutterer has a very slim chance of being a potential spoiler, but it won't happen. Ave Maria wins it.

Well, those are my predictions. And remember to watch the Oscars tonight at 8:30 PM on ABC!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Where to Invade Next

★★★★★ | A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"The American dream seemed to be alive & well everywhere except for America." That's a depressing but sadly true quote from documentary filmmaker Michael Moore in his new documentary Where to Invade Next, which is definitely his greatest film yet. In this new documentary, Moore has been "sent" by the US government to "invade" other countries to "steal" their great ideas. He first goes to Italy, where every job has a required 8 weeks of paid vacation time, & mothers get 5 months of paid maternity leave. When Moore asks the founders of an Italian clothing company if they would ever cut their employee's pay at all so they could be richer, they say no, stating that a happy worker is a productive worker, & as long as they make even a small profit, they are happy.

His next stop is France, where students get a full hour for lunch, where they are served high-quality food by the cafeteria staff (when the students see what American students are served, they are disgusted).

He then goes to Finland, which has one of the world's best education systems in the world. He is shocked to discover that Finnish students receive little to no homework, there are no standardized tests, & students go to school for only 20 hours a week, with teaching based around the growth of the whole person. Moore is told by a principal at a Finnish school that children need to have time to be children, & not have so much homework.

He then travels to Slovenia, where college is absolutely free (even to foreign students, & the only fees are for registration), & when the government tried to get rid of free tuition, the students revolted.

He then goes to Germany, where employees are required to make up half of corporate boards of directors, & workers that are stressed get 3 weeks off from work to go to a spa to relax. Also, Moore says that all countries have an original sin (Germany's being the Holocaust). In atonement, Germany provides frequent reminders of the Nazi horrors through monuments & landmarks.

He then goes to Portugal where all drugs have been decriminalized, actually reducing drug use.

After that, he goes to Norway, where the maximum prison sentence is 21 years, & there is no death penalty. Prisons there are meant to rehabilitate people for them to return to society, & all prisoners are treated as human beings. Prison cells in Norway are like small apartments with TV's, cookware, gaming systems, computers, etc. Moore visits with the father of one of the children killed in the 2011 Norway attacks, where 8 people were killed by a bombing in Oslo, & 69 others were gunned down at a camp on an island. When Moore asks him if he would kill the gunman if he had the chance, he said he wouldn't because he is a human being, & if he did, it wouldn't bring his son back.

Moore goes to Tunisia, where they finally got an equal rights amendment passed (which we failed to do in the 1970's).

Finally, Moore ends his "invasion" in Iceland, which elected the world's first female president & where female leaders made sure that bankers responsible for the financial crisis in Iceland were sent to jail (unlike the United States after the 2008 financial crisis).

In an epilogue, Moore remarks that enormous positive change happens very suddenly. His examples of this were the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, & the fact that 3 years ago, gay marriage was illegal in most of the United States, & now it is legal throughout the country.

The film was extremely eye-opening. Moore has finally brought back his trademark sense of humor with this film, his first documentary since 2009's Capitalism: A Love Story. While Moore has been divisive in the past, it looks like this film should rather unite us, rather than divide us. Overall, this is definitely the best documentary I've ever seen, providing great ideas for us to talk about, & also providing hope for the future.

Monday, February 15, 2016


★★★★ | A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"Daddy needs to express some rage!" That's only one of at least 20 quotable lines from Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool, one of the best superhero movies of all time. Reynolds plays Wade Wilson, a mercenary who protects teenage girls from stalkers. One night, he meets escort Vanessa Carlysle (played by Morena Baccarin) & their relationship eventually quickly goes from sexual to romantic. Just after he proposes to her, Wade suddenly collapses, & it turns out he has terminal cancer. He is met one night by a recruiter who says that he can cure his cancer through an experimental procedure. At first, Wade rebuffs the offer, then accepts. The procedure is run by Francis Freeman (played by Ed Skrein), who Wade makes fun of due to his name. Wade is put in an airtight chamber, which causes a drop in oxygen that creates a healing factor that causes a severe disfiguration of his face & skin, but rendering him immortal. 

After escaping the chamber, he tracks Vanessa down, but cannot gain the courage to see her due to his complexion. He then moves in with a blind woman named Al (played by Leslie Uggams), & with the help of his friend Weasel (played by T.J. Miller), he becomes a vigilante named Deadpool, trying to hunt Francis down. After getting his hands on Francis (& attacking a group of cars), Deadpool is met by Colossus (played by Stefan Kapicic) & Negasonic Teenage Warhead (played by Brianna Hildebrand), who try to get him to join the X-Men; however, due to their intervention, Francis disappears. Sometime later, Francis kidnaps Vanessa, & now Deadpool is going to team up with Colossus & Negasonic Teenage Warhead to get her back.

The film is mind-blowingly awesome. Ryan Reynolds is excellent as Deadpool, perfectly bringing Deadpool's foul-mouthed fourth-wall breaks & meta-humor to the screen. Ed Skrein is maniacally excellent as Francis Freeman, being a perfect villain for the movie. But the real star here is Brianna Hildebrand, who, in her feature film debut, gave an excellent performance as Negasonic Teenage Warhead. The direction & screenplay from first-timer Tim Miller is brilliant. The action sequences are also amazing. Overall, this is definitely one of the best superhero films of the 21st century, & possibly of all time.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Hail, Caesar!

★★★½ | A Review by Cameron Kanachki

"The truth, yes. Hmm!" That hilarious yet mysterious quote from Josh Brolin is one of many quotable lines in Hail, Caesar!, a very good, albeit minor effort from the Coen brothers. Brolin plays Eddie Mannix, a studio head for Capitol Pictures in the 1950's. He is also a "fixer" who tries to keep his stars out of trouble. At the moment, Capitol Pictures is working on their biggest film of the year, Hail, Caesar!: A Tale of the Christ, starring big-name actor Baird Whitlock (played by George Clooney).

All of a sudden, one day, Whitlock does not appear on set, & is revealed to have been kidnapped by "The Future", a group of Communist screenwriters who have been blacklisted, who are holding him for $100,000 in ransom. While trying to secretly get the money, some other things occur.

B-movie western actor Hobie Doyle (played by Alden Ehrenreich) is being transferred from a western to a period drama directed by Laurence Laurentz (played by Ralph Fiennes), which causes some problems between the two due to Doyle's inability to correctly say one line.

Also, Mannix has to deal with non-stop questions from competing twin gossip columnists Thora & Thessaly Thacker (both played by Tilda Swinton), who, besides asking Mannix questions about Whitlock's disappearance, also ask about the truth about how Whitlock managed to get the lead role in the notorious film, On Wings of Eagles (which after the title is said, a distant eagle cawing sound is heard).

Meanwhile, aqua-musical actress DeeAnna Moran (played by Scarlett Johansson) becomes pregnant during production of the new aqua-musical. Fearing a major public relations fallout, Mannix works out a deal with surety agent Joseph Silverman (played by Jonah Hill) to "foster" Moran's child for a few days for her to "adopt" from him.

And on top of all this, Mannix is mulling over an offer from aviation company Lockheed to become a major executive.

The film is very good, even though it does falter at some points. The acting was really good, with the entire cast all giving great performances. The direction, screenplay, & editing from the Coen brothers are great, proving once again that they are two of the greatest directors in film history. Overall, this is the best Coen brothers comedy since 2009's A Serious Man.