10 Days of Oscar – Chico & Rita

One of the nominees for Best Animated Feature Film this year is Chico & Rita, a lovely film about finding love in 1948 Cuba. The film chronicles the long and sometimes painful love affair between Chico, a young piano player and Rita, a beautiful young woman with an equally beautiful voice. The plot is not exactly original but the film more than makes up for it with beautifully rendered shots of Havana, New York, Paris and even Hollywood. This is the kind of animated movie serious adult moviegoers have been waiting for. Its themes may be mature but its also one of the most delightful movies of the year. I had the pleasure of seeing it in Spain last year and now it’s opening in certain theaters across the U.S. I’m happy that the Academy has decided to honor this film and I hope you will too. Here is a look at this great little movie:

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10 Days of Oscar – Emmanuel Lubezki and Thelma Shoonmaker

Amidst all of the glamorous movie stars that strut the red carpet every year at the Oscars it can be easy to forget about all of the behind the scenes artists that make your favorite films so remarkable. Here are two artists who are up for Oscars this year who made indelible marks in their respective films.

Emmanuel Lubezki

Lubezki is nominated for an Oscar this year for Best Cinematography for his work on The Tree of Life. If you’ve seen the film you will no doubt remember all of the incredible screen images that composed the film. Lubezki expertly films shots massive enough to encompass the birth of the universe as well as extremely intimate shots of parents with their children in Texas. Tree of Life contains some of the most breathtakingly beautiful and stunningly composed shots in recent film history. Lubezki was nominated 4 times before Tree of Life for his work on Children of Men, The New World, Sleepy Hollow and A Little Princess. Here are some of the gorgeous images he is responsible for.

 

Thelma Shoonmaker

3 time Oscar winner Thelma Shoonmaker is Martin Scorsese’s go to woman for editing. This year she is nominated for her work in Hugo. Shoonmaker and Scorsese have worked together on many, many movies. She is the one who is responsible for making movies out of Scorsese’s hundreds of hour of footage.

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10 Days of Oscar – Martin Scorsese

This year Martin Scorsese is nominated for his brilliant work on Hugo. Hugo is nominated for 11 Oscars including one for direction. Scorsese is no stranger to the Academy Awards, he has been nominated for Best Director a total of 8 times in his career and he finally won the award in 2007 for The Departed. In my opinion, Scorsese is one of the true great living American directors. From Taxi Driver to Raging Bull and from Goodfellas to The Aviator Scorsese has consistently proven his brilliance with every shot of nearly every movie he has made.

Here are some of my favorites scenes from his body of work.

Taxi Driver

Raging Bull

Goodfellas

Gangs of New York

The Aviator

The Departed

Hugo

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10 Days of Oscar

Hello and welcome to 10 Days of Oscar!

Here at FilmBuffet we don’t kid around with the Academy Awards. We make it our job to make sure you know all you need to know before Oscar night. In the next 10 days I will be posting my Oscar picks, as well as writing tributes to some of the artists nominated this year. So without further ado here is my first post, dedicated to Billy Crystal, this year’s Oscar host.

Billy has hosted the Oscars 8 times already. Put simply, no one can host the Oscars quite like him. Yes, he’s somewhat of a “safe” choice to host but he is professional, funny and knows how to command a room. Unlike some of the hosts in the last few years, Billy knows how to entertain both the audience and America. Here are some of his best Oscar moments throughout the years.

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My Favorite Movie Moments of 2011

So I haven’t updated this blog in a while – obviously. At first I thought I would review all the movies I’ve seen since September but then I realized that would take far too long so instead I present you with my favorite moments from films in 2011. Make sure to stay tuned, I will write more about my favorite films of the year and my thoughts on this year’s Oscar race in the weeks to come.

Note: I still haven’t seen a number of films including The Artist and The Ides of March.

The Tree of Life:

All of the scenes of cosmic space and the birth of the universe (such as the one I’ve posted) were absolutely breathtaking, perhaps some of the most gorgeous moments in film history.

X-Men: First Class

I loved the special mutant cameos in this X-Men origin story but I especially loved Magnetos scene’s. In particular I loved when Magneto stabs a man with a knife by controlling it with his mind and also the touching scene in which Professor X teaches Magneto to control his mutant abilities.

Bridesmaids:

Where to begin? Too many funny moments to count, the scene in which all of the bridesmaids start pooping and puking in their bridesmaids dresses is indeed hilarious but the following 2 are also my favorites.

Midnight in Paris:

That moment when Owen Wilson’s character and the audience learns that we’ve traveled to another time period in Parisian history. The historical cameos were a delight.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2:

There were a few incredibly exciting and epic moments in the film but the most powerful scene in the movie, if not the entire series came when Harry got to look into Snape’s memory and all his deepest, darkest secrets were revealed.

The Help:

In a film with a surprising amount of moving scenes The Help left the best for last. If the movie had ended in any other way I would have been disappointed but instead it empowered Viola Davis’ character without ignoring the reality of her difficult situation. I also liked every time she said:

Beginners:

I loved the montage sequences, if you’ve seen the film you will know what I mean.

Drive:

The opening credits were a stylish thing of beauty.

Crazy, Stupid, Love:

The bar scenes.

Moneyball:

Those wonderful moments when the A’s win and the even better moments when they lose. Seriously, this movie, all about losing ends in a graceful manner. Here’s the final scene:

Melancholia:

The first scene is absolutely stunning but the final scene is one of the most astonishing and moving ends to a movie I have ever seen.  Here is the first scene:

The Descendants:

I found a few scenes in The Descendants to be quite moving, especially cause its theme of death and family in Hawaii hits so close to home but one of my favorite scenes happened to be the simple yet powerful final scene.

Hugo:

Loads of great moments here, especially all of the odes to classic films which brought a tear to my eye.

Shame:

Shame is filled with scenes that are very difficult to watch but one of its most lovely scenes comes when Carey Mulligan sings “New York, New York” all the way through in one uninterrupted take.

Young Adult:

Young Adult is also a difficult movie to watch but Diablo Cody’s fantastically realistic script and Charlize Theron’s phenomenal performance come across in scenes like this one:

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol:

The jaw dropping scene in which Tom Cruise’s character attempts to climb one of the tallest skyscrapers in the world.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo:

The terrifying and brilliant scene set to Enya and the opening credit sequence shown here:

War Horse:

In addition to some spectacular imagery, War Horse features a lovely scene in which the titular horse gets stuck in barbed wire and is rescued by an English soldier and a German soldier. You may call it sappy but I don’t care.

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Film in 2011

Check out this 2011 retrospective I just made!

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Drive review

Throughout Drive, the camera focuses again and again on the giant gold scorpion emblazoned on the back of the jacket of Ryan Gosling’s character aptly named Driver. Turns out Ryan Gosling is a scorpio (we share the same birthday). According to Astrology.com scorpios, “are the strong, silent type, and [they] have a magnetic aura” but they also, “need overkill to feel really alive.” We begin the film with Driver at his most quiet, his most mysterious and yes, his most magnetic. Towards the end of the film though we see his necessity to kill and kill and kill again.

Drive is a stylish film, one of the most stylish to come out in the last few years. The film begins with Gosling in all his neo-James Dean/ Steve McQueen cool in a beautiful chase scene through the dark streets of L.A all to the tune of “Nightcall” by Kavinsky (featuring Lovefoxxx). From the moment we see Driver we understand that he is cool. He plays the role of the guy every girl wants to be with and the guy every other guy wants to be. Driver is a Hollywood stunt man who meets a modest yet beautiful woman, Irene (Carey Mulligan) who lives in his apartment building. He gets to know her and her son and learns that her husband, Standard, is in prison for some gang related activity. When he is released from prison we see that he is decent man who wants to change his life but it turns out he still owes his gang some money. Standard is hopelessly forced back into his criminal lifestyle.

Driver of course believes in justice and decides to defend Standard from this violent, greedy gang. He agrees to partake in a heist to raise money for Standard. This is the turning point of the film. The first half of the film is a piece of dark moody magic, the second half is a blood soaked story of madness. Just when I began to think that Gosling had finally chosen to play the stereotypical hero role he surprised me by turning Driver into a much darker force. Yes, Driver is cool but he also embodies the sick sadism that we are all capable of. I was quite surprised by the amount of and level of violence in this film. There are at least 5 moments of truly shocking violence. At a couple moments the violence borders on Kill Bill style hilarity and improbability but there is one scene at gunpoint I found more unsettling than any in recent memory because of its unabashed honesty.

Drive is not a film for the squeamish and perhaps not one for viewers looking for a highly logical or original plot. Though I enjoyed the film I am still not sure what it is about. It is very, very stylish but I am not sure how much substance is there. The cinematography is wonderful, the atmosphere is spectacularly moody, the soundtrack is fresh and the performances across the board are strong. Nevertheless the film did not impact me as I hoped it would. What this film did show me though is that Ryan Gosling is one of the best young actors we have who also seamlessly has become one of the only true movie stars of his generation. In addition, its director Nicolas Winding Refn is an exciting new voice in cinema, his style is one that I am excited to see more of and to see develop.

Here is Nightcall by Kavinsky (featuring Lovefoxxx)

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