Showing posts with label Leonardo DiCaprio. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Leonardo DiCaprio. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Late-Ish 2013 Retrospective: Top 15 Male Performances

More 2013 retrospective goodness just to remind you that 2013 happened and 2013 was great! Don't really need to waste a whole lot of time explaining this, so here are my favourite male performances from last year...

Honourable Mentions: Bradley Cooper - American Hustle, Bradley Cooper - The Place Beyond the Pines, Ryan Gosling - The Place Beyond the Pines, Dane DeHaan - The Place Beyond the Pines, Joaquin Phoenix - Her, Steve Coogan - Philomena, Dane DeHaan - Kill Your Darlings, James Gandolfini - Enough Said, Miles Teller - The Spectacular Now, Matthew McConaughey - Dallas Buyers Club, Hugh Jackman - Prisoners, Daniel Bruhl - Rush, Michael B. Jordan - Fruitvale Station, Michael Douglas - Behind the Candelabra, Matt Damon - Behind the Candelabra, Leonardo DiCaprio - The Great Gatsby, James Franco - Spring Breakers, Jude Law - Side Effects, Jonah Bobo - Disconnect.

15. Dwayne Johnson as Paul Doyle in Pain & Gain
Let me preface this by saying that Dwayne Johnson may be my least favourite working actor. That's probably because I can't stand the fact that every single movie he is in, whether it is a cinema release or a straight-to-DVD release, will always rent in truckloads. Sad thing is that they're all exactly the same. I surprisingly dug Pain & Gain a lot against all odds (the Johnson/Mark Wahlberg/Michael Bay factor), but I was most surprised by Johnson's performance. He was obviously taking the piss out of his usual macho beef-cake persona, and in an alternate universe, he would be the perfect buff brother of Jordan Belfort who was nowhere near as smart as him.

14. Jake Gyllenhaal as Detective Loki in Prisoners
We never really know a lot about Detective Loki. We're just offered insights into his existence. I think that's what I admire most about any film who can do it right: a script which only offers insights into a character's existence instead of an outpouring of their life, and an actor who can build that existence into something truly believable. Gyllenhaal hits all the right notes, even when the film isn't necessarily concerned with him. It's all in the scene where he eats this Thanksgiving dinner at a diner alone.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Annual Awards Nerdism - Oscar Predictions (with poetry) - Acting and Directing

Well lookie here, I'm back to my world famous (okay, maybe not), fantastic prediction poetry that everyone loves. I am not a poet, nor do I have any intentions of becoming one, but normal predictions do bore me a little bit and spinning a rhyme is one of my favourite things to do. It is dry stuff, but hopefully you find some joy in it...

Best Achievement in Directing 
Alfonso Cuaron - Gravity / Steve McQueen - 12 Years a Slave / David O. Russell - American Hustle / Martin Scorsese - The Wolf of Wall Street / Alexander Payne - Nebraska

Without Paul Greengrass it's not really the same,
Especially as his place went to Alexander Payne,
Remember that film The Descendants with the Cloon?
I think everyone forgot that pretty soon,
Nebraska's chances here are pretty grey
(yeah, thinking of that joke took me all day)
Since this time the Cloon is out in space,
And Alfonso Cuaron is likely to win this race,
Meaning there could be a Pic/Director split,
But I don't think Steve McQueen will quit,
It's great to see him getting notice for 12 Years a Slave,
Even if I'm pretending it's really for Shame,
And then there's Oscar favourite David O. Russell,
Getting his third nomination for American Hustle,
Which is great for making an easy rhyme,
But I didn't find the movie to be a good time,
Yet, my loyalties lie with The Wolf of Wall Street,
With Martin Scorsese's direction being no mean feat,
Because his direction is terrifyingly fun,
And better than anyone else could do at 71.

All I can say is that I want Alfonso Cuaron to win because Gravity is easily the best directed film of the decade, but then I want Steve McQueen to win because 12 Years a Slave makes the third out of three movies of his that got 5/5 from me. But I also want Martin Scorsese to win because his direction of The Wolf of Wall Street is so amazing because he is taking the piss out of so much and it is beautiful. And yeah, I haven't seen Nebraska so I can't comment on Alexander Payne and well...not a fan of either David O. Russell or American Hustle. Apart from the fact that they rhyme. Whenever I say "American Hustle by David O. Russell" I automatically feel like putting my hood up, getting out my grills and corn rows and start an underground rap career.

At least I took something away from that movie...

Sunday, February 2, 2014

5 Practical Reasons Why Leonardo DiCaprio Doesn't/Shouldn't Have an Oscar Yet, Tumblr

So if you look on my Tumblr page, 95% of it is Leonardo DiCaprio. Mostly because of my undying obsession with The Wolf of Wall Street, but also because the gifs that the site comes up with to chronicle Leo's apparent struggle for an Oscar are quite funny. Here are a few of my favourites:


Yes, it is entertaining, but it is a little bit excessive (as most things are on Tumblr, particularly seen by Jennifer Lawrence's meteoric rise to Queen of Everything). Let's take some calm, practical steps to acknowledge why Leonardo Wilhelm DiCaprio is merely Oscar-Nominated Actor Leonardo DiCaprio instead of Oscar-Winner Leonardo DiCaprio.

1. Back up the truck, he's only 39 years old.

Paul Newman was 62 when he won his first Oscar. Christopher Plummer was 82. Peter O'Toole never even got an Oscar. Sure, there's more to an actor's life than winning an Oscar, but then again it is kind of annoying when 22 year old Jennifer Lawrence has an Oscar. Maybe it seems like Leo has been struggling for so long when really, this has been a saga that's been going on for 20 years - not really that much time. I mean, Brad Pitt doesn't have an Oscar, why is no one complaining about that? Since Leo got nominated for What's Eating Gilbert Grape in 1993, he waited another 11 years to be nominated for The Aviator, following it up two years later with a nomination for Blood Diamond, and now, 7 years later, we have his nomination for The Wolf of Wall Street. We only have four chances here for him not to get the award, and to be honest, a lot of actors suffer through worse (and let's not even get started on Roger Deakins). Which leads me to my next point...

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Late Night Thoughts #6 (in the morning): Go get it, McConaughey/DiCaprio Domination/Barkhad Abdi's my new fave person

-No, I'm not going to do a full post on the Oscar nominations. For one thing, by the time I get around to doing them, like eight hours after the nominations, they're old news. And for another thing, I've found that people don't generally respond to awards coverage. Well, definitely not in the last few years I've done it, anyway.

-Plus, I can't really add anything new. The Tom Hanks snub sucked. American Hustle seems to be the buzz, and I'm going to reserve judgement until I see the film (possibly next week), but is this The King's Speech of this year? I reckon it is totally going to True Grit things - have all those nominations but no awards to show for it.

-Also, The Great Gatsby getting no love in the song section hurt, too. WTF is Alone Yet Not Alone?

-Anyway, so here's the story of nominations night: they were at 2.30am, and even though I was supposed to get sleep before and after then, I was up all night sick. However, I managed to contain the stomach flu for the nominations, but I had to do silent fist pumps so I wouldn't wake the house (like I did when Rooney Mara got nominated). There were a lot of silent fist pumps. First, for Jonah Hill. I knew it was going to happen (but sadface for Daniel Bruhl, though). Then for Sally Hawkins, who I knew I was right for predicting - remember when everyone thought it wouldn't happen? Then for Before Midnight getting a screenplay nod. And then for my girl Amy Adams for finally breaking through into the lead category. Started from the bottom now you here, Amy.

-And then along came Best Actor. When Christian Bale got called, I was like "no, no, no, no, no, dear god no that is Leo's spot". And then it happened. All of my hopes and dreams came true in that one moment. I didn't even pay attention to the rest of the nominations.

-But "Academy Award nominee Matthew McConaughey" sounds perfect, doesn't it?

-Anyway, this wasn't the only time of the week that Leo made my hopes and dreams come true. Of course, the Golden Globes - a.k.a the only awards show I'll be able to watch fully this year - happened and he got the award there, too. Ah, it was perfection.

-The Golden Globes were very entertaining. Was very happy to see Matty M, Amy Adams, Jared Leto, Alfonso Cuaron and Steve McQueen get awards. Plus, Amy and Tina were gold. Can't really say too much other than that - just flip through my Twitter feed for my uncensored, unedited thoughts.

-But I must say, I keep watching Matty M's speech because I love hearing him say "alright, alright, alriiiiiight" and "go get it, McConaughey". Like I swear that's going to be my new catchphrase for awards season: "go get it, McConaughey". I seriously need to stop saying it in real life situations.

-I really wish we could just have Jessica Chastain giving Matthew McConaughey awards all season. Their cute friendship makes me all the more excited about Interstellar.

-It would seem that Jennifer Lawrence backlash is the new black right now. Now, I love her as a person. I loved her in Winter's Bone and particularly The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. I'm still a little angry about her winning for Silver Linings Playbook, as I don't think she ever owned her character. And it appears that the same thing happens with American Hustle. I dunno - she has an exceptionally good filmography and she's an exceptionally good performer, but she seems to be getting an awful lot of praise for movies she's not necessarily right for. If she wins that Oscar this year, the backlash will be terrible. But I think that's going to go to Lupita Nyong'o, who broke my heart in 12 Years a Slave. Well, at least I hope it does.

-On the opposite end of the spectrum, and awards getter that I'm loving at the moment is Barkhad Abdi. Maybe I'm a sucker for stories like his, but it is so awesome how he does literally one film and then gets nominated for an Oscar. He's really sweet, too.

-I've been catching up on 2013 films, with films like Short Term 12 (man, y'all were right, such a great film), Rush (I liked it, a bit sad Daniel Bruhl didn't get nommed but no big loss), Dallas Buyers Club (go get it, McConaughey), 12 Years a Slave (yeah...I've never cried so much in my life. Steve McQueen has the most perfect filmography of anyone), and...The Canyons, which I will probably write a post about in the next week or so. Man, that was an experience.

-The next and final installment in my "money" series will take a look at Side Effects and Blue Jasmine, but I'm just waiting for Blue Jasmine to come out on DVD so I can watch it again. And soak up the amazingness of Cate Blanchett and Sally Hawkins.

-And in non-movie related news, I got my exam results back. I managed to achieve Level 3 with Merit endorsed (which I suppose is like a solid B-grade/A- for you Americans), which I was told at the start of the year I couldn't do because I was Head Girl. Ha. Also managed to get Excellence endorsed in Level 3 English (solid A+ grade), getting Excellences in everything I did apart from my damn Othello essay, which I got Merit in. And I also got Merit endorsed in Drama. And yeah, that's high school completely done. I didn't fail anything last year, which was also quite the achievement. I got my acceptance letter into Canterbury and have to scrape together so much money - uni is so hard and I haven't even gone yet!

-Oh crap, just realised the SAG awards are tomorrow. I won't be watching, as I have work, but I don't really see the point as Leo isn't nominated anyway. Alas, my quick predictions would be: Best Ensemble - probably American Hustle since everyone loves it, but judging by only having Jennifer Lawrence nominated, this could well go to 12 Years a Slave (as it should); Best Actor - I imagine this is going to Matthew McConaughey, but there could always be a spoiler from Bruce Dern; Best Actress - Cate Blanchett, no doubt; Best Supporting Actor - Jared Leto, no doubt; Best Supporting Actress - most likely Lupita Nyong'o - I only think Jennifer Lawrence's chances would be helped if the rest of her cast was individually nominated.

-And make sure you listen to the Across the Universe podcast, where the Chicks with Accents discuss/cry over The Wolf of Wall Street. It's beautiful.

What's been going on in your cinematic lives lately?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Baby, You're a Rich Man: The Wolf of Wall Street and Pain & Gain

In the family of movies observing and exploring the American Dream and excess and money and power, you could see The Wolf of Wall Street and Pain & Gain as this: the two brothers, one wearing a suit and making lots of money (no matter how illegal that might be), the other being a little brother pumped up on steroids, jealous of his big brother's wealthy life, so goes on to find a way to make money, fast. Add to that, The Wolf of Wall Street is made by "greatest American director ever" Martin Scorsese, and Pain & Gain is made by "butt of every American director joke" Michael Bay. They seem like they're at opposite ends of the spectrum. And while The Wolf of Wall Street is infinitely better than Pain & Gain, there's nothing that really causes me to write off Pain & Gain.

Just to preface this post: each of these films deal with the American Dream. Each of these films have been mistaken for glorifying it. Which of course, you can't ignore when big name stars like Leonardo DiCaprio and Dwayne Johnson are in these movies living the rich life. But I'd be hard pressed to find another film in 2013 - save for Gravity and Captain Phillips - which left me with a sick stomach.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Making the Case for Elizabeth Debicki + Blogathon Entries

Yes, I know there were 10,000 better films that came out in 2013, but truth is, I've only seen around 30 2013 films (I wish I was joking), and by far, the one that stuck was The Great Gatsby. As is documented here, I don't really like the film all that much as an adaptation, but I liked it enough to see it six times since June. Reason? This flawless lady right here:

Yes, the marvellous debut actress Elizabeth Debicki is cruelly underused in the film. They cut out her all important final scene (but the deleted scene does exist, and she is flawless, so we'll pretend that it is still a part of the film). Of all the actors in the film, she has her character so incredibly aligned with F. Scott Fitzgerald's description. In fact, the part where Jordan is described is pretty much my favourite example of Fitzgerald's writing (apart from the amazing final lines), and to see Debicki pull off those few moments so flawlessly ensured that I would love the film.

Debicki just fits so perfectly into the time period, with her look and her voice, shedding off the feelings of imitations that plagued Carey Mulligan and Joel Edgerton. I'd be happy if we had a whole film of just her and her poor driving skills, lies about leaving the car roof down and her adventures through golfing. Unfortunately, we didn't get that, but one can only imagine what kind of talent Debicki would have brought to the table. Her vibrance is something that I look forward to seeing in the future.

But one can't forget: Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby. He's (supposed to be) getting buzz for The Wolf of Wall Street, and the Best Actor race is damn over-crowded this year, so any chance of him getting proper recognition for his work as Gatsby is slim. Alas, he fits Gatsby like a glove, perfectly portraying Gatsby's fantastical dreams and self-built delusions. Would have been interesting to see how he'd have fared if the film was released closer to awards season (probably not well, knowing his track record).

Other mentions, from the handful of films I've seen:

The Place Beyond the Pines - Best Supporting Actor, Bradley Cooper
He may have a bit more traction with American Hustle, but out of the fine ensemble - which does include a brilliant Ryan Gosling - Bradley Cooper really proved his worth here. It is hard to put my finger on exactly what it is that he does so well here, but he just brings such a vulnerability to someone reluctantly put at hero status. Speaking of...

Catching Fire - Best Actress, Jennifer Lawrence
...another person reluctantly put at hero status. And also another person who has a better chance with American Hustle. But Jennifer is wonderful in this film, navigating the tricky business of being Katniss Everdeen with more fluidity than she showed in the first film. She truly does make this teen franchise one of a high calibre.

The Past - Best Actress, Berenice Bejo
Why isn't this getting more love? Sure, Bejo won the Cannes award for Best Actress, and rightly so, but the love seemed to stop there. She plays one hell of a character, and is probably one of the "strong female characters" that actually deserves that paper thin title. She's flawed, frustrating and ferocious, and definitely a far cry from the preppy Peppy Miller from The Artist. Due credit should also go to Asghar Farhadi for another thrilling screenplay that uses words as weapons.

Side Effects - Best Actress, Rooney Mara
This film, though released very early in the year, is still one of my absolute favourites. It is so twisted, evoking this Hitchcockian feel that many modern thrillers lack. One of my favourite things about this film was the chilling performance by Rooney Mara, who played one of the more twisted and complicated characters of the year with surprising ease. If Lisbeth Salander had be terrified of Mara, then Side Effects definitely gave me another reason.

Spring Breakers - Best Cinematography
For one thing, and one thing only: the pink skies that light up some of the scenes in the film. Makes a grimy gangster flick as slick as a Terrence Malick film. Spring Breakers deserves points for being the most colourful, most out there film of the year, but I'm pinning my hopes on a cinematography nomination, because this film was an unsettling feast for the eyes.

Entries into the blogathon:

Mette has some love for Spring Breakers and the categories it should be nominated in. Which includes Best Nail Polish.

Josh makes the case for everything, with an outsider for every category at the Oscars. How I'd love for Before Midnight to get a Best Picture nom!

Brittani makes the case for The East, a movie which I'm still desperate to see. ILY, Brit Marling!

While Gravity is sure to get a lot of love, one person who will probably come out awards season without any recognition is George Clooney. Sati tells us why he should be up there with the party.

Andy has a case to make for Stoker, and the several categories it should be nominated in (a big yes for a Nicole Kidman nom).

And Nikhat went beyond the call of duty and had three cases to make: a case for comedy, a case for Tye Sheridan in Mud, and a case for Greta Gerwig in Frances Ha. Considering I've seen all of the films she's made a case for, major hearts for all of them.

There were only a few entries, so if you wanna get your entry in, tweet at me (@SteveeTaylor) or email it to me (steveetaylor[@] For now, who is an outsider that you're most rooting for?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Boats Against the Current: Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby

I've seen Baz Luhrmann's version of The Great Gatsby five times now. I'm not even ashamed to admit it. If I were to somehow become Alien out of Spring Breakers, it wouldn't be Scarface I'd have on repeat, it would be The Great Gatsby. Anything remotely Gatsby I snap up - whether it be reblogging my 100th gif of Jordan Baker or changing my cover photo on Facebook or finding something pretty to adorn my bedroom walls with.

Despite all this, I don't actually like The Great Gatsby as a film all that much. Let's put all of this into context: last term I did this huge research project about modern adaptations of classic films. Now, I won't bore you with the gory details since that thing ended up being like, 40 pages long, but The Great Gatsby was my main focus. This was because I had never seen so many people around my age go absolutely nuts for this one movie. Admittedly, this was mainly because of the fact that Leonardo DiCaprio is descended from angels and we're all materialistic magpies that will swoop in on anything that glitters (so you can imagine the field day we had with this). Let's just say, I wasn't the only one reblogging, cover photo-ing or adorning everything Gatsby.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Super Late 2012 Retrospective: Top 10 Male Performances

2012 was very much an 'actors' year. Before I begin, I didn't want to put Daniel Day-Lewis in this list because yes, his performance is beyond the call of duty of anything but we all know he can act - and act well. Plus, I'm not a huge fan of those 'imitation' performances. It's okay, Daniel has his Oscar and is off researching Jesus or something for his next Oscar winning role. My list was quite easy to make, even though it was really hard to rank actors who were in the same films. Damn, there were some great ensembles last year.

Honourable mentions: Eddie Redmayne - Les Miserables, Hugh Jackman - Les Miserables, Ewan McGregor - The Impossible, Tom Holland - The Impossible, Sam Riley - On the Road, Jean-Louis Trignant - Amour, Jason Clarke - Zero Dark Thirty, Mark Strong - Zero Dark Thirty, Suraj Sharma - Life of Pi, Daniel Day-Lewis - Lincoln, Ben Whishaw - Cloud Atlas, John Hawkes - The Sessions, Pierce Gagnon - Looper, Joaquin Phoenix - The Master, Philip Seymour Hoffman - The Master, Tom Hardy - Lawless, Guy Pearce - Lawless, Matt Whelan - The Most Fun You Can Have Dying, Dane DeHaan - Chronicle, Liam Neeson - The Grey, Ralph Fiennes - Coriolanus

10. Bradley Cooper as Pat Solitano Jr. in Silver Linings Playbook
Just for the record, I thought that Bradley Cooper gave the best performance in this film - a film which I've come to appreciate a lot more over time. I've long been a fan of Cooper, even to the point of putting myself through All About Steve for him, so I was pleased that he got a prominent role like this one that could easily show off his talents. In this film, he has such energy and confusion - and he's just the kind of guy that you want everything to work out perfectly for. Much like the rest of the film, he's able to find that perfect balance between having great comic timing and also presenting a realistic portrayal of a man who has lost his mind. I hope this kickstarts a career for Cooper where he can leave behind The Hangover franchise and focus on these smaller projects, because that's where he works best.

9. Denzel Washington as William 'Whip' Whitaker in Flight
I felt a little bit sad when I couldn't fit Liam Neeson into this list for his brilliant work in The Grey, but my fondness for his performance largely stems from the fact that it was his first great performance in a long time. After all of the Taken movies and their copiers (ahem Unknown ahem), it was good to have him in a character study. Such is the same case with Denzel Washington's work in Flight. After Safe House and the rest of the films that were pretty much exactly like that, Denzel proves that he is still a formidable actor and not just a formidable movie star. His work in Flight is extraordinary, anchoring the sometimes meandering script and performing a very precise portrait of addiction. It's hard to say exactly what Denzel does to elevate his character's story above your average addiction affair, but I'm sure glad that he's back in the game.

8. Michael Fassbender as David 8 in Prometheus
Surely it would be easy to play an android - no real emotions to convey, none of those layers that make a performance like, say, Denzel Washington's work. However, Fassy makes David 8 quite a layered android, even if basically all he does is touch things which just stuff everything up. There's quite a lot of beauty in simplicity and restraint, two things which helped his masterful performance in Shame immensely, and here he displays a masterclass of those two things. Sure, it is a fine line between being a boring human and an android, but Fassy works wonders and makes David 8 anything but boring. He's been the source of many of my jokes about Prometheus, but he was the best thing about it.

7. Christoph Waltz as Dr. King Schultz in Django Unchained
I suddenly remembered as I was putting this list together the reaction I had when Christoph Waltz won his second Oscar for this performance. I was in class, trying to hook up the Oscars so we could watch it for last period, and this by the time I'd hooked it up his name was called as the winner. I cried a little bit. No, his performance is not my favourite of the year, or even my favourite from the film, but I was quite excited because a) I don't think I even bothered to put him as a nominee in my final Oscar predictions and b) because Christoph Waltz is probably the most awesome person on the planet and c) this is a performance based on charisma. I don't see anything particularly special about it - there's no real tense moment - but this whole performance is so charismatic it just hurts a little bit. And if there's anything that Hollywood lacks a bit of, it is charisma.

6. Jack Black as Bernie Tiede in Bernie
Just a wee side note: I'm having a huge phase of loving Richard Linklater. Before Midnight is absolute perfection. Okay. I find it a little bit strange that Jack Black, an actor who I generally can't stand, is on this list. However, his work in Bernie is absolutely amazingly fantastic. I genuinely felt so sorry for the poor guy, who only ever wanted to do good until somebody broke that all up for him. My heart ached for him. And this is Jack Black we're talking about.

5. Garrett Hedlund as Dean Moriarty in On the Road
It is a bit hard to judge if Hedlund does his character justice, since On the Road is still sitting on my dresser waiting to be read (doubt I'll get around to it this year though - too into Fitzgerald), but I'll judge it on it's own merits. Out of the mostly dull, meandering film, I found that Hedlund always had this magnetic energy about him. He was constantly moving at a frenetic pace when the rest of the movie seemed to be at a stand still. His story was the only one that really moved me. While Sam Riley did a good enough job in the lead role, Hedlund kept me interested the entire time. Such a shame that most people would only watch this because of Kristen Stewart trying to break out of the Twilight zone.

4. Ezra Miller as Patrick in The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Remember that huge phase I had with Ezra Miller this time last year? Well, I'm a little prouder to say that I love him because of his work in The Perks of Being a Wallflower than I was with We Need to Talk About Kevin (which is still a totally amazing film, by the way). There's really not many ways I can put how much I love Ezra in this film, other than to say that he's the perfect Patrick. The perfect Patrick. The perfect Patrick. And that's all I really have to say about that.

3. Leonardo DiCaprio as Calvin Candie in Django Unchained
Even though I was over the moon that Christoph Waltz won the Oscar, it is still so far beyond me as to how Leonardo DiCaprio didn't get nominated. He's playing against type, isn't he? He did it well, didn't he? In fact, it is a little terrifying that, after so many thrillers, biopics, movies about dead wives etc, Leo could play such a narcissistic, evil human being so well. Just look at that scene where he cuts his hand. I don't even know how he held that for so long. If this performance couldn't win him an Oscar, then I'm not sure what could. Probably a real life version of 127 Hours.

2. Logan Lerman as Charlie in The Perks of Being a Wallflower
I just so much as have to look at him and I'll want to cry. Which made for some very emotional times during May when the trailer for this movie rolled around every 45 minutes at work. Charlie is such a difficult character to understand, even moreso as the book follows an epistolary format which is always a little hard to translate to the screen, but Lerman nails everything. Just from a desperate or confused or even a happy look, my heart just breaks for the guy. Sure, Lerman is not that far out of his teens, but he plays a 15 year old so convincingly, and that's one of the biggest reasons as to why this film is probably the best teen film I've ever seen.

1. Matthew McConaughey as Killer Joe Cooper in Killer Joe
No surprises here - my number one performance is still what it has been since early November. I've never been so dumbfounded and thrown by a performance - up until watching this, I had been under the impression that Matty M was only ever destined to take his shirt off and make movies with Kate Hudson and the like. But this is the kind of career turnaround that doesn't often happen. Sure, an actor will have that one great performance but then they'll return to the way they were. This performance may be great, but this is just the start of something. Considering he also hit the bullseye with two brilliant performances in Bernie and Magic Mike (which I love almost equally to this performance), and is following it up with the likes of Mud and Dallas Buyers Club and Interstellar (!), Matty M is just getting started. Thank goodness for that.

What do you think of these choices? Who were your favourite male performers of 2012?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Update on Life as Head Girl Part 2 - the Stage Challenge Edition

Hey guys, sorry for deserting you for two months, but needless to say, I've been a busy wee lass. Last Friday, my school competed in Stage Challenge, which closed out the busiest four months I've ever experienced. So before I tell you about everything, I'll let you know what stage challenge is: an eight minute performance, usually done through dance, where you convey a message. Our performance this year was based around the idea of the dark side of money. The main character (played by my best friend and amazingly talented Cassie) is introduced to a materialistic world, and sees the downfalls of consumerism, losing everything to a world she wanted so much to be a part of. We didn't place in the competition (I may be biased, but we were robbed - we got beaten by dancing kiwi fruit and meningitis dancing to Skyfall of all songs, but oh well), but we got seven awards of excellence for Drama, Concept, Stage Use, Performance Skill, Costuming Character, Choreography and Set Design & Function (we were the only school to win that one so yay!).

I will say something: I've never been so proud of anything in my life. And while I don't like tooting my own horn, I've done a lot to be proud of, but this one takes the top spot. This year, I got to direct the performance and I've been busy sorting everything out for the past four months. I was lucky to have an amazing group of choreographers who came up with the performance, and their dances were far beyond than anything I could have ever imagined. On the night, I sat in the audience crying my eyes out from the moment the performance started. While I've always loved the exhilarating feeling of performing, seeing something you've worked on so hard for so long was the best feeling in the world. Honestly. When we came to the end of the performance - where Cassie commits suicide by falling off the back of the platform (kind of a downer, but that's Dannevirke High School for you, we never do happy, cute endings where the whole cast comes on stage), I just cried and cried and cried. There was an overwhelming feeling of proudness that I'd never felt before, because everything came together so well: the dances were perfect, the costumes were amazing, and the lights finished everything off wonderfully. I also don't think I've ever hugged so many people - or embarrassed myself so much by crying in front of every important figure in the school (the principal, the teachers, the board members). They're probably wondering how I ever got Head Girl now.

When it came to results time, I admit to being guttered about not being placed, but I started crying again because I was just so proud. It may sound cheesy, yet what I learned during this journey was far more valuable than any prizes. Because I've totally lost my good writing talents, I'll just list everything that I learned:

  • That time management is the best skill anyone could ever have, and luckily I have that skill pretty downpat. There were lots of rehearsals (we had 18 hours worth of rehearsals over four days, and me and a couple of others worked on the set/performance for 50+ hours in one of the school holiday weeks), but being Head Girl and also working at a place that was extremely understaffed, my life wasn't put on hold for Stage Challenge. Let's just say, I actually did lots of work in all my free periods and school, and even took homework to work to do during my night shifts. Somehow, through all this mess I managed to get an Excellence for a Biology assessment, which is great because Bio is my worst subject. Mind you, I haven't quite caught up on my sleep yet - probably need to go into a coma for a month to do that. The bags under my eyes speak wonders for how much work I've been doing lately.
  • Being calm is also a great quality. We had a huge committee with a lot of strong minds, and while I had several down days because of some of the friction caused, when it came down to it, I thought I handled the major problems pretty well. There was one day that was particularly horrible, but we managed getting through it and everything went well in the end. Being able to count to ten and not jump to conclusions was probably the thing that got us all through.
  • Stage Challenge is probably the best fitness plan you'll get - even if you're not performing. On the day before the performance, we had a full day of rehearsals, and I don't think I've ever run around so much in my life. Looking back through the photos of that day, all you could see me doing was running through the frame
  • I drank too much coffee and bought a lot of food to get me through. Turns out that whole coffee was the best thing ever, I went the last two days without caffeine and I felt perfect. Still, stage challenge started my coffee addiction.
  • I've never felt so much gratitude in my life. My co-director Emma was amazing. My choreographers were amazing. My dancers were amazing. My set guys were amazing. Cassie was amazingly amazing. But especially the people who saw all my mental breakdowns behind the scenes - sorry, but thank you. I'm especially proud of our achievements as we did this with no teacher assistance. Which is very different from previous years.

  • Most of all - I love directing. I really do. Since I wasn't performing, these pictures of me 'in action' are as close as you're gonna get to seeing me participate in the production. I look like Steven Spielberg. Someone hand me an Oscar.

Before I get into a little photo gallery of the performance, I'll give you an update on me and the movies. To be honest, I've lost interest in movies quite a bit lately since I've been so busy. I only watched 13 movies last month (down from the usual 30), and most of those were rewatches because I can't focus on new movies at the moment. I've just about cancelled my Fatso account because I can't keep up with the two movies I get a month. However, I've been getting quite sentimental over some movies - The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Django Unchained and Silver Linings Playbook recently came out on DVD so I've been recommending them left right and centre. I saw Anna Karenina, which I actually really liked. Joe Wright was very inventive - and it was achingly beautiful. But the movie that is currently my everything is Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby. Yes, I loved it. It was near perfect. The soundtrack is my life. Leonardo DiCaprio was the perfect Gatsby. Elizabeth Debicki was the perfect Jordan Baker. And Baz If I were to ever be a filmmaker, I'd be pretty much exactly like him. Which is kinda why our stage challenge took after extravagance and such. And probably why I decided that it would be a good idea to put one dance group in bobbed wigs and feather headbands. Yeah, it wasn't inspired by The Great Gatsby at all...

Anyway, here's a gallery of the performance. Thanks to Maxine for being our amazing photographer on the day:

This is our opening scene - three working girls hating life. All set to the tune of 'Money, Money, Money'. Just imagine the lyrics playing out on stage.

The main character gets the idea that the rich life is just what she needs.

This is our 'business dance', which is still set to Money, Money, Money. They basically lure Cassie into the 'rich life', and give her some money so she can go on her way.

With the money she's given from the business people, she's introduced to the materialistic world of excessive consumerism. And yeah, you see the bobs and the headbands...hmmmm, thanks for that, F. Scott Fitzgerald/the perfection of the 1920s. (this scene is set to Money Honey by Lady Gaga)

This is probably one of the biggest reasons as to why we won the only Set Design and Function award - our vault opens, some people come out of it, and then it closes by itself. Well, as far as the audience knows...but man, we did well with that one! Special thanks to Seth and Jared for making that piece of magic.

Yeah hey, my name is Baz Luhrmann.

This is when consumerism kinda bits back. The mannequins are all quite serious and all hate Cassie now, but she's totally oblivious.

This is the business world gone wrong - everyone who has been chewed up and spat out by the demons of consumerism and have learned the hard way that money doesn't buy happiness. This is set to Lux Aeterna from the Requiem for a Dream soundtrack...yeah, I was going for the most depressing song I could find.

This dance - set to Carmen by Lana Del Rey - is the last scene, showing the desolation and loneliness that valuing money over things like family and friends can do.

Not only is this picture perfect, but this was easily my favourite part of our performance - I cried so much because the whole movement went so perfectly.

DHS: bringing you happy endings at Stage Challenge since never.

Now that it's all over, I will say that while I don't miss having to go up to school for 10 hours a day and stuff like that, there's plenty of memories that I miss from Stage Challenge. Like eating Chinese on the set after spending something like nine hours making it, or all the coffee runs, or just being around an awesome group of kids for a few hours. I'd like to say that now Stage Challenge is over, I can get back to blogging - but alas, my life has not stopped being busy yet. If you want to read a blog describing every fabulous facet of The Great Gatsby though, maybe I can help you there?

Anyway - another public thank you to everyone involved with this project - and a public thank you to you guys for making me pass 600,000 hits even though I'm not a regular poster! What's been going on with you guys in the cinematic world these days? How was Man of Steel? How bad was After Earth? How are all the 2013 movies going - because I sure as hell don't know! Let me know in the comments!


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