Posts Tagged ‘best actress’


The Imitation Game (2015)

May 17, 2015

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode
Director: Morten Tyldum (Headhunters)

Bottom Line: It was interesting timing for me to watch The Imitation Game considering I just watched director Morten Tyldum’s excellent Headhunters last week and a few weeks before that I saw Ex Machina, whose plot is largely centered around something called a Turing Test, which evaluates if a machine can exhibit intelligent behavior similar to that of a human being. I knew nothing of The Imitation Game plot prior to watching it so it was a pleasant surprise to discover it is the story of Alan Turing, a highly regarded British mathematician and cryptanalyst for whom the Turing Test was named after.

Benedict Cumberbatch gives his typical wonderful performance as Turing, a man whose awkward genius and social ineptitude isn’t that far removed Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes portrayal on his BBC series. He plays Turing with a touch less narcissism and quite a bit more vulnerability. Indeed, Turing was a homosexual in a time (the 1940s-1950s) when such a thing wasn’t just frowned upon, it was prosecutable. While the film spends time detailing his arrest for gross indecency and flashes back to his schooling as a youth and the formation of his first meaningful relationship with another boy, the majority of the film highlights his time at Bletchley Park, a British codebreaking centre, working with a team of fellow geniuses and trying to crack Enigma, a machine used by Nazi Germany to send coded military messages.

The Imitation Game is an amazing and heartbreaking story, in which one of the greatest (unknown) heroes of World War II is later vilified by his country for something we now view as socially acceptable. The film combines drama and humor exceptionally well. Turing is portrayed as a flawed, often self-centered human being, but still someone that is quite easy to root for. Cumberbatch is worthy of his Oscar nomination and Keira Knightley is also great as one of his fellow codebreakers and continues to solidify her status as what I consider to be The Next Kate Winslet.

The Imitation Game delivers on all levels with a great story and top notch acting. Alan Turing is a man whose time and contributions to our world should never be forgotten. The posthumous pardon he was granted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2009 was long overdue.

Replay Value: This is definitely a film worth watch again and probably worth owning.
Sequel Potential: N/A
Oscar Potential: Won Best Adapted Screenplay. Cumberbatch and Knightley received acting nominations, Tyldum a directing nom, and the film was also nominated for Best Picture, film editing, production design, and score.

Grade: 8/10 (Excellent)


Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

March 3, 2013

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver
Director: David O. Russell (The Fighter, Three Kings)

Quick Thoughts: David O. Russell follows up The Fighter with another powerful film in Silver Linings Playbook. This film tackles mental disorders and broken relationships, but is still a love story at its core. Russell seems to have a knack for coaxing great performances out of his casts. After earning three acting nominations for The Fighter, the Silver Linings Playbook cast managed four. De Niro gives his best effort in at least ten years, Lawrence cements her status as the best young actress in the business, and Cooper is shockingly awesome. Truly, in most years without a Daniel Day Lewis movie, Cooper deserves an Oscar. The material handled here could easily be presented in an annoying fashion, but the cast makes it work…wonderfully. The end result is a sweet and troubled love story, the kind of which a man shouldn’t have to be dragged to the theater to see.

Viewings: 1
Replay Value: Worthy of owning.
Sequel Potential: None…however, Lawrence and Cooper have signed on to Russel’s next project, along with Christian Bale, Jeremy Renner, and Amy Adams. Holy crap.
Oscar Potential: A Best Actress win for Lawrence (the first of many?), nominations for Cooper, De Niro, Weaver, Russell, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Nudity: I don’t recall, but Seth MacFarlane noted at The Oscars: “and Jennifer Lawrence’s boobs we haven’t seen at all.”
Grade: 8/10 (Excellent)
RottenTomatoes Scores: Critics: 92% Audience: 88%
IMDB Rating: 8/10
Recommendation: A fantastic movie featuring great performances. A love story both sides of a couple should appreciate.


Winter’s Bone (2010)

February 17, 2011

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes
Director: Debra Granik (Down To The Bone)
Quick Thoughts: Meet Jennifer Lawrence. The 20 year old actress gives one of the best performances of the year in Winter’s Bone. How often does a young and relatively unknown actor or actress completely carry movie on their backs? Not often, but that’s the case here. Lawrence plays Ree Doddy, a 17 year old country girl that finds herself struggling to get by while caring for her two younger siblings because their mother is incompetent and mute and their father has disappeared. The law comes looking for Ree’s dad and gives notice that if he doesn’t appear for a court date, they are going to have to give up their property, which sends Ree on a hunt for her father and into the dark and twisted roots of their family tree. It’s a haunting film. We’re talking about a world where its commonplace to offer your 17 year old niece a joint as a sympathetic gesture because you’re husband just got done physically threatening her and there’s nothing wrong with teaching your 12 year old brother and six year old sister how to shoot a hunting rifle because they just might have to provide for themselves in the near future. It’s a grim tale and Ree really has no one to turn to because her family, immediate and extended, are all involved in cooking up crank. And don’t fuck with grandpa cause he will have your ass beat if you start asking questions. Or maybe kill you. Oddly enough, she finds an ally in her Uncle Teardrop, played by John Hawkes in an Oscar-nominated performance. At first, Teapot is painted as your typical drug-addled, abusive hick, but Hawkes turns the character into something deeper and sinister. Speaking of Oscar nominations, Lawrence got a well deserved nomination and even though Natalie Portman is heavily favored to win the statuette, Jennifer Lawrence is a serious darkhorse candidate. At any rate, her performance is better than Annette Bening in The Kids Are Alright or Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit. Winter’s Bone is at times heartbreaking, intense, and gripping. A true sleeper in 2010 and one you shouldn’t miss.
Viewings: 1
Replay Value: More of a one time film than something you keep on repeat.
Sequel Potential: None.
Oscar Potential: Four nominations: Best Actress for Jennifer Lawrence, Best Supporting Actor for John Hawkes, Best Picture, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Nudity: None.
Grade: 8/10 (Excellent)
Recommendation: Winter’s Bone has been overlooked by the masses, but it’s one of the better 2010 films I’ve seen. A solid thriller with some standout performances.