Tag Archives: Mark Ruffalo

Dark Waters (2019) Review

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Dark Waters

Time: 126 Minutes
Cast:
Mark Ruffalo as Robert Bilott
Anne Hathaway as Sarah Bilott
Tim Robbins as Tom Terp
Bill Camp as Wilbur Tennant
Victor Garber as Phil Donnelly
Mare Winningham as Darlene Kiger
Bill Pullman as Harry Deitzler
Director: Todd Haynes

A tenacious attorney (Mark Ruffalo) uncovers a dark secret that connects a growing number of unexplained deaths to one of the world’s largest corporations. While trying to expose the truth, he soon finds himself risking his future, his family and his own life.

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I remember hearing about Dark Waters a while ago, I recognised director Todd Haynes from his work on the excellent Carol, so I was keeping an eye on his next movie. Despite the involvement of the likes of Mark Ruffalo, I didn’t really think much of it based off the marketing. It didn’t look very interesting and so after a while I stopped paying attention to it. But when I got the opportunity to watch it I did, and I’m glad I saw it.

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Dark Waters definitely feels familiar to some other legal dramas/investigative movies about cover ups, it’s no doubt compared to Spotlight quite a lot. It might take some time for you to be completely on board with the movie, but once Ruffalo is locked in to the case, you’re locked in too. You’re learning a lot of information along with him, and it’s rather engaging throughout. The story being told is quite important and relevant to today, it starts in the late 90s, but you can see that it this case takes place over a number of years. Now I personally never heard anything about what happened here beforehand, so this was quite a new thing to learn for me. I won’t reveal too much, but learning the results can be infuriating and unsettling, especially knowing that all of this really happened. Now one could argue that Dark Waters is another one of those movies where it seems like it’s essentially cliff notes of something you could read yourself on a Wikipedia article, but it does enough to actually keep you engaged with the story told by the movie. Now I guess you could call Dark Waters a ‘slow burn’ movie, but I was really interested in what was going on, so that never proved to be a problem.

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Dark Waters has a great cast who perform well in their roles. Mark Ruffalo gives one of his best performances in the lead role of Robert Bilott, the lawyer who took on DuPont. At a certain point he’s locked in and obsessed with this case, and you really see the toll it takes on him and his family. Ruffalo’s performance is subdued but quite believable and effective. Anne Hathaway plays Bilott’s wife, and while it seemed like a pretty thankless role for her, she does get to shine in a couple moments. The rest of the supporting cast is good with the likes of Tim Robbins, Victor Garber, Mare Winningham and Bill Pullman. The standout from the supporting cast however is that of Bill Camp, who plays the farmer who initially contacts Bilott about how multiple deaths in West Virginia are due to DuPont. Camp is one of those character actors who shows up in a bunch of movies in supporting roles and he’s always good in them, but he particularly gets to shine here.

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Todd Haynes directed this pretty well. At first I was a little turned off by the look of the movie, it’s very dark and grey, and not appealing, and I wasn’t really sure if that was intentional or not (especially with his previous movie being as visually stunning as Carol). After a while though I settled into it, and it looked a lot better as it went along.

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Dark Waters wasn’t exactly given the best distribution or marketing, however when you get the chance to watch it, definitely do. It’s an important story that more people should be aware of it, I didn’t know about any of it before this movie. On top of that, it’s engaging, written and directed well, and has a great cast, led by an excellent Mark Ruffalo. Dark Waters is one of the most surprising movies to come out of 2019.

Shutter Island (2010) Review

Time: 138 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, offensive language & content that may disturb
Cast:
Leonardo DiCaprio as Teddy Daniels
Mark Ruffalo as Chuck Aule
Ben Kingsley as Dr. John Cawley
Max von Sydow as Dr. Jeremiah Naehring
Michelle Williams as Dolores Chanal
Emily Mortimer as Rachel Solando 1
Patricia Clarkson as Rachel Solando 2
Jackie Earle Haley as George Noyce
Director: Martin Scorsese

Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo), two US marshals, are sent to an asylum on a remote island in order to investigate the disappearance of a patient, where Teddy uncovers a shocking truth about the place.

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Shutter Island was great when I saw it some years ago, and I’ve been meaning to give it a second viewing for some time. The acting was really good, it was greatly directed, and it was an effectively suspenseful thriller with some effective twists. I can confirm that Shutter Island works an even better level after the first viewing.

There are plenty of movies with some twists and reveals, and then people say that apparently you’ll see the movie completely differently on a second viewing. Shutter Island is one of the strongest examples of a movie that really holds up to that. There is so much in this movie that I can’t reveal, so I’m basically forced to keep some things vague. It’s a movie that has a number of effective twists and captivates you from start to finish. You really are following along with the main character and trying to figure out the mystery of what’s going on. The only problem that I had with the movie was how they handled a certain reveal in the last act. They spend a lot of time outright explaining it right after saying what really happened, and it sort of dragged on for a little too long, killing much of the shock and tension that was originally generated. I liked what direction the plot in and especially the ending, but that portion was a little messy.

Leonardo DiCaprio gives one of his best performances as lead character Teddy Daniels. It’s extremely difficult to talk about why his performance is so great without giving much away, it’s effectively emotional and he fits into the role perfectly. The supporting cast is also good, with Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Max von Sydow, Michelle Williams, Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson, Jackie Earle Haley, Ted Levine adding quite a bit to the movie. For the sake of not revealing too much, I won’t talk too much about them either.

Martin Scorsese directs Shutter Island excellently, creating a dark and unsettling atmosphere. He also does well at giving the feeling like you’re right in a noire movie. Robert Richardson’s cinematography is stunning, gorgeously dark and gloomy, it really places you on this gothic island that just doesn’t seem right. Speaking of which, the production design is very effective and detailed. There are some dreamlike and hallucination scenes that are among the best I’ve seen in a movie. Shutter Island is the closest thing to a horror movie that Scorsese directed, and makes you uncertain about a lot of the things you see. The music choices are also great, and using Max Richter’s On the Nature of Daylight is never going to stop hitting me right in the feels.

Shutter Island is a fantastic movie that for whatever reason often gets placed among ‘lesser Scorsese’ films, I consider it at least in his top 10 for the time being. The story and premise might be a little typical of many other thrillers, but Martin Scorsese really gives something special to this one, the plot is gripping and suspenseful, and the acting is great, particularly from Leonardo DiCaprio. A second viewing only elevates the movie further, knowing what’s really going on the whole time. Definitely worth seeing if you haven’t watched it already. And if you have seen it once, check it out again, it’s a completely different experience.

The Brothers Bloom (2008) Review

Time: 114 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Mark Ruffalo as Stephen Bloom
Rachel Weisz as Penelope Stamp
Adrien Brody as Bloom Bloom
Rinko Kikuchi as Bang Bang
Maximilian Schell as Diamond Dog
Robbie Coltrane as Maximillen “The Curator” Melvile
Director: Rian Johnson

Twenty-five years of swindling people are too much for Bloom (Adrien Brody) and he wants out of the business. His brother, Stephen (Mark Ruffalo), convinces him to work on one final hustle, targeting an eccentric East Coast heiress named Penelope (Rachel Weisz). The con game fails to play out as planned when Bloom falls in love with the irresistible woman.

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The thing that got me most interested in The Brothers Bloom was the fact that it’s directed by Rian Johnson. Then I heard the likes of Adrien Brody, Mark Ruffalo and Rachel Weisz were in the cast, and that interested me even more. I actually knew very little about what the movie was even about before going in, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Even though it’s not at the level of Johnson’s other movies, I still enjoyed The Brothers Bloom considerably.

Movies about conmen have been done before, but The Brothers Bloom is a lighthearted and quirky comedy for the most part, and it’s rather original and entertaining. The movie does have a lot of twists, and I think most of them worked well. Looking back at the plot itself, it seems to be going all over the place at times, there were some periods where I wasn’t quite following along with the story. There were also a few scenes where nothing much seemed to be happening. At times it stopped feeling that fresh and reverted back to scenes typically seen in most conman/heist movies. However, even then I still had a good time watching these characters, they’re generally what makes this movie work so well. The Brothers Bloom mostly has a whimsical tone throughout, and at times some of the more emotional side of the characters and story isn’t shown quite as much as I think it should’ve, even though they do display that in the first two acts. The movie only really starts to get serious towards the end and it’s a rather sudden and dramatic turn in tone. I feel like if the movie had a tone that was a blend of the lighter and serious tones throughout, I think it would’ve been worked a little better. With that said, Rian does deliver on the emotional side in the third act, and the endings for each character were very fitting, without spoiling anything.

Adrien Brody and Mark Ruffalo are great as two brothers who are conmen who are distinctly different from each other, they share some great chemistry. The two of them are in a con group with Rinko Kikuchi, who also gets some hilarious moments of her own despite not really having any lines of dialogue in the movie. However, it’s Rachel Weisz who’s really the standout of the cast, really lighting up the movie whenever she’s on screen. Even Robbie Coltrane gets to shine in his brief scenes.

Rian Johnson directs this movie very well, it’s a distinctly different movie from Brick, and that definitely extends to the direction and look of everything. You can really tell that he gained a considerably higher budget and has progressed a lot since his debut movie. The Brothers Bloom is very stylistic and visually (especially with the colour pallet) at times resembled a Wes Anderson movie, and I do mean that in a good way.

The Brothers Bloom is probably the weakest movie from Rian Johnson but it’s still quite good for what it is, and it’s not bad having this as your worst movie. It’s quite colourful and entertaining, mostly smartly written, and the cast and memorable characters are great, with Rachel Weisz being a particular stand out. Definitely worth a watch.

Avengers: Endgame (2019) Review

Time: 183 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man
Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America
Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk
Chris Hemsworth as Thor
Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow
Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye
Don Cheadle as James “Rhodey” Rhodes/War Machine
Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man
Brie Larson as Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel
Karen Gillan as Nebula
Danai Gurira as Okoye
Benedict Wong as Wong
Jon Favreau as Harold “Happy” Hogan
Bradley Cooper as Rocket
Gwyneth Paltrow as Virginia “Pepper” Potts
Josh Brolin as Thanos
Director: Anthony and Joe Russo

Adrift in space with no food or water, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) sends a message to Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) as his oxygen supply starts to dwindle. Meanwhile, the remaining Avengers – Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Captain America (Chris Evans) and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) — must figure out a way to bring back their vanquished allies for an epic showdown with Thanos (Josh Brolin) — the evil demigod who decimated the planet and the universe.

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Avengers: Endgame was not only one of my most anticipated movies of 2019, it was also one of the most anticipated movies of all time. It’s the conclusion of an 11 year long story arc and it had a lot it needed to pay off on. Infinity War surprised me with how much they pulled off considering all the hype, however I said back then that whether or not it’ll hold up will depend on the follow up, Endgame. It could easily just reverse the impact that Infinity War had, making so much of that movie feel inconsequential. However, Endgame not only makes some of the other MCU movies better, it is by far the best movie in the MCU to date, and a more than satisfying conclusion to the main MCU storyline.

There are a lot of surprises in Endgame, so I will keep my description of the movie very vague. It’s been said that the trailer footage would only show the first 15 minutes of the movie, and for the most part that is true, it does not go at all how you think it would be in the first half hour alone, and the marketing managed to hide a lot of the movie. The movie is 3 hours long and personally I was actually invested in the characters and story from start to finish. I also thought the pacing was actually really good, Infinity War’s pacing doesn’t give you a chance to breathe, for better or for worse. Endgame on the other hand takes its time with its story (it definitely helps that it doesn’t have to focus on as many characters all in one movie), but isn’t too slow either. Make no mistake, while there definitely are big action sequences, it takes its time with its story and characters. It’s surprisingly one of the most character driven MCU movies, with most of the major characters going through their own arcs, in fact there wasn’t any clear weak link with the characters. You also really feel the incredibly high stakes throughout. Most of the MCU movies feel like no major character is going to die or that there are going to be major repercussions, but with Endgame you are on edge the entire time. The first hour is very sombre, the pacing is going to not work for some but I still loved it. I might have a different opinion the next time I see it, but I felt like every scene was necessary and really did a good job at humanising our main characters, in some cases much more than previous MCU appearances have done. If you found the first act to be too slow, the second hour is when the movie really picks up. Yes, there is a lot of fanservice, but with it being the last movie, a lot of these moments are earned, and I really had fun with all of them. As this is a MCU movie you can expect quite a bit of comedy thrown in and most of it works in Endgame, not taking away too much from the seriousness of the situations. There are multiple story bits that might not entirely make sense and you can really nitpick certain plot details if you want to, but it’s the kind of thing you’ll just have to roll with. I know that some people will be taking issues with the ‘plot holes’ but personally I didn’t have too many issues with it.

The third hour is also one of the all time best comic book movie third acts. All I will say is that if you remembered how great Thor’s entrance in the Wakanda battle in Infinity War was, there are plenty of even better moments in Endgame. The third act and movie ends some characters’ story arcs, while leaving others for expansion, and it was all done very well. Yes, you do need to see all the other movies in order to get the full experience, however that’s what makes the MCU stand apart from other cinematic universes. Not many cinematic universes have over 10 films all building and tying into each other, let alone 22 of them. It even ties together little elements from other MCU movies, even making some of the previous movies even better. It may not be the last MCU movie, and it doesn’t show any signs of stopping any time soon, however this really does feel like the conclusion to the main story arc, and you could easily stop watching the series here and be perfectly satisfied with how it ends. Since we are talking about endings, no, there aren’t any credits scenes. Nonetheless I do recommend sticking around for the credits of the cast before leaving at the very least.

The cast all bring their A game to their roles, most of whom give the best performances as their characters. First, with the main trio, Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Evans as Captain America and Chris Hemsworth as Thor, giving possibly their best outings as their characters (certainly in the case of Downey and Evans), you really see how far each character has come from their first film appearance. Downey’s Tony Stark is particularly a standout from the case, it’s not really a surprise but he is truly great here. I was wondering what was going to happen with Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk. Pretty much everyone agrees that he was the weakest link in Infinity War, and I was very disappointed by his use in that film as most of the time he just felt like the butt of many jokes. Thankfully I can say that he is back to being really good in Endgame. It wasn’t quite what I initially expected and it will be initially jarring for some people but I really liked what they did with his character and was a logical enough next step for the character. Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner also give their best performances as Black Widow and Hawkeye respectively. One of the big surprises was Paul Rudd as Ant Man, he was one of the most natural players from the main group, especially with the humour but also with the emotion, he fit in so well into the group of Avengers. Don Cheadle’s War Machine is a character that’s always good in the movies he appears in but he’s often sidelined, here though he gets to play a significant part in one of the plotlines and they really gave him a lot to do. Rocket Racoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper), who is the last of the Guardians of the Galaxy, also works well in the group, as does surprisingly Karen Gillan’s Nebula. With the exception of her villainous role in the first Guardians of the Galaxy, in her previous appearances she’s only been defined by her relationship with Thanos, and has come across as a bit weak as a character. In Endgame she’s given a lot more to her character and they develop her quite a bit. The newest addition to the MCU, Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel is also here. Despite having a significant role, she’s actually not in the movie as much as you’d think she is. Still she does good in the scenes that she’s in. One of my worries about her is that she’d overshadow the rest of the Avengers and be the simple solution to Endgame since she’s significantly more powerful that them, thankfully the focus is still on the main Avengers while she gets to have her OP moments. As for Josh Brolin’s Thanos, unlike Infinity War it’s not really his movie so you don’t get as much of him, but he’s still just as powerful and menacing whenever he’s on screen, and once again the performance and visual effects are just as good. There is a take on a major character which I know is going to divide some people (I won’t say who it is, when you watch you’ll know who it is pretty quickly). All I can say without revealing too much is that it was played a little too much for comedy at certain points (however I get the feeling that my audience misinterpreted certain serious moments as being comedic instead), but his story arc still worked well enough for his character and I overall liked the direction they went in.

Infinity War was really well put together by The Russo Brothers and Endgame is no exception, everything feels like they’re on such a large and epic scale. The visual effects in Infinity War were stunning, but Endgame takes it to a whole other level. I’ll have to watch it again but I don’t remember any glaringly bad CGI moments like most comic book movies occasionally have. While there aren’t as many action sequences as you’d think there’d be, they are really great. The third act particularly is truly spectacular. The score by Alan Silvestri (who has now done ¾ of the scores for the Avengers movies) is really good as to be expected and elevated the movie even more.

Avengers: Endgame is an emotionally satisfying conclusion of a conclusion 22 films and 11 years in the making. The cast and characters all do fantastic work, with everyone’s story arcs executed in a very satisfying way, it’s a large scale epic yet character driven at the same time, it’s astounding that they managed to pull it off this well. It is legitimately one of the best comic book movies made, and I don’t say that too often. I feel like with so much in this movie, I’ll need to watch it again so I can fully process it fully. If you’ve somehow managed to avoid spoilers this long and not watched it yet, go into the movie knowing next to nothing. I’d be surprised if Endgame is still not one of my favourites of the year by the time 2019 is over.

Zodiac (2007) Review

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Time: 158 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence
Cast:
Jake Gyllenhaal as Robert Graysmith
Mark Ruffalo as David Toschi
Robert Downey, Jr. as Paul Avery
Anthony Edwards as SFPD Inspector William Armstrong
Brian Cox as Melvin Belli
Elias Koteas as Sgt. Jack Mulanax
Donal Logue as Captain Ken Narlow
John Carroll Lynch as Arthur Leigh Allen
Dermot Mulroney as Captain Marty Lee
Director: David Fincher

Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a cartoonist who works for the San Francisco Chronicle. His quirky ways irritate Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.), a reporter whose drinking gets in the way of doing his job. The two become friends thanks to a shared interest: the Zodiac killer. Graysmith steadily becomes obsessed with the case, as Avery’s life spirals into drunken oblivion. Graysmith’s amateur sleuthing puts him onto the path of David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo), a police inspector who has thus far failed to catch his man; Sherwood Morrill, a handwriting expert; Linda del Buono, a convict who knew one of the Zodiac’s victims; and others. Graysmith’s job, his wife and his children all become unimportant next to the one thing that really matters: catching the Zodiac.

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By 2007, David Fincher was already a well received director with film like Se7en and Fight Club. When it comes to his films, Zodiac is one of his most underrated and it also might just be his best. Fantastically well-paced, greatly and efficiently written and brilliantly acted by its cast, Zodiac is a captivating and fantastic movie that is finally receiving the love and acclaim that it deserves over a decade after its release.

Zodiac also takes place throughout the 60s and 70s and many moments jump to different moments (like weeks, months and years later), it really spans over quite a large amount of time. The mystery itself is fascinating. It’s not just the mystery that’s interesting though, it’s also the people investigating and obsessing over it, particularly Gyllenhaal, Downey and Ruffalo’s characters. Fincher really does a great job at making you as obsessed with finding the identity of the Zodiac Killer as our protagonists here. The movie really gets better and better the more it progresses. The part where two characters near the end seem to piece together what may have happened is really satisfying. The movie isn’t quite like Fincher’s other serial killer movie, Se7en, it’s certainly not as dark and grotesque. However, all the events that you see really happened, which you could argue could make this film more disturbing. Also, unlike Se7en or Fincher’s other serial killer movie, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, it’s never clear who the actual killer is. There is a theory and a strong implication by the end of the movie but that’s it. This movie is Fincher’s longest to date, around 2 hours and 40 minutes, this is possibly why Zodiac isn’t as popular as some of his other films like Se7en. There is a lot to take in and you have to really be into a mood to sit down for over 150 minutes to watch an investigation of a serial killer, for me it really did it for me.

The whole cast of Zodiac do well in their roles. Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr and Mark Ruffalo are particularly great in the movie with Gyllenhaal as a cartoonist, Downey as a reporter and Ruffalo as a cop. All of them are obsessed with finding the Zodiac killer, and they convey their real life characters convincingly. Gyllenhaal’s performance here is particularly overlooked, he really carries with him this silent obsession that he shows with such subtlety that was effective. We are really seeing the movie from his eyes and we becomes as obsessed with the case of the Zodiac Killer as Jake’s character Robert Graysmith. Downey was also great here, with his character going through some more blatant changes as the case of the Zodiac progresses. Ruffalo also proves himself once again as being yet another one of the best underappreciated talents working today. They all give some of the best performances of their career. All the supporting cast were quite good but if there’s one who stands out, it’s John Caroll Lynch as a primary suspect in the Zodiac case. He is so unnerving in all his scenes and is very memorable, even within his small screentime.

David Fincher’s movies always look great and Zodiac in no exception, his direction of this film is immaculate and full of detail. Most of this film is focussed on the investigation of the murders and the mystery by our 3 main characters and Fincher really did a great job at showcasing it. The cinematography by Harris Savides was also great. The intense scenes (most of them consisting of the Zodiac killings being shown) are handled very well. A certain basement scene also stands out at being very creepy, Fincher handled the tension and the unsettledness perfectly. David Fincher also uses CGI effectively to enhance the scenes to make it look better. I wouldn’t know that he was using it just from watching the movie, it’s been released for over a decade long and nothing indicated that CGI was being used. The music from David Shire was also quite effective.

Zodiac in an underrated and fantastic film that I think everyone should see at least once. It is a long movie, full of detail and it’s a lot to take in, so it’s not an easy movie to just watch, you have to really be in the mood to watch it. However, having seen it a few times now, I can’t help but love it every time. Fincher’s attention to detail is absolutely incredible. On top of that, the performances (particularly from Gyllenhaal, Downey and Ruffalo) were great. It’s probably Fincher’s best put together movie in all honesty and having seen almost all of his films, it might just be his best movie yet, which is really saying a lot. Zodiac is one of my favourite films and it gets better the more I watch it.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018) Review

Time: 149 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man
Chris Hemsworth as Thor
Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk
Chris Evans as Steve Rogers
Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow
Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange
Don Cheadle as James “Rhodey” Rhodes/War Machine
Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther
Paul Bettany as Vision
Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch
Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon
Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes/White Wolf
Tom Hiddleston as Loki
Idris Elba as Heimdall
Peter Dinklage as Eitri the Dwarf King
Benedict Wong as Wong
Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord
Pom Klementieff as Mantis
Karen Gillan as Nebula
Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer
Zoe Saldana as Gamora
Vin Diesel as Groot
Bradley Cooper as Rocket
Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts
Benicio del Toro as Taneleer Tivan/The Collector
Josh Brolin as Thanos
Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and the rest of the Avengers unite to battle their most powerful enemy yet — the evil Thanos (Josh Brolin). On a mission to collect all six Infinity Stones, Thanos plans to use the artifacts to inflict his twisted will on reality. The fate of the planet and existence itself has never been more uncertain as everything the Avengers have fought for has led up to this moment.

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Avengers: Infinity War wasn’t just one of the most anticipated films of 2018, it’s also one of the most anticipated films ever. I’ll admit that in the lead up to the release of this film, I had mixed feelings. On one hand, the Russo Brothers directed Captain America: The Winter Soldier, one of the best films in the MCU. On the other hand, they also directed Captain America Civil War, and while it was decent it was rather underwhelming compared to what it could have been, and felt a bit disappointing. Even without taking into account their previous movie, there was still a lot they had to achieve: they have to handle so many characters, and this is the culmination of about a decade’s worth of films building up to it. It is easy for Infinity War to end up being a disappointment. So I went in with my expectations in check, expecting a decent and entertaining movie. However, Infinity War truly blew me away, The Russo Brothers have truly achieved something amazing here.

I need to preface that although there is a lot of things I want to say, there’s a lot about this movie that I can’t say. So I will do my best to avoid spoilers. First thing that is worth noting is that unless you are heavily into the MCU movies, you probably won’t enjoy this as much as other people. Not just because of the amount of backstory in the other movies, but also because of the characters and build up, it might not feel as impactful. As a fan of the MCU and someone who likes all of the movies, I was thoroughly satisfied with the story here. All the moments that were meant to be impactful, really was impactful. I wasn’t spoiled at all before watching Infinity War and there were a lot of surprises, I won’t reveal any of them here because they really were effective. This movie does jump around with places and characters and with that the tonal and style shift is very apparent and it actually works. When it jumps from Thor or any of the other Avengers characters to the Guardians of the Galaxy, it really feels like a Guardians of the Galaxy movie.Infinity War is around 2 hours and 30 minutes long, making it Marvel’s longest movie. The pacing was done very well, I never got bored once. It was actually hard to get bored because there was so much happening, so much to take in. Most of the characters get to do something but some get more focus and attention than others. While this means a lot of characters not getting as much development despite the long running time, that is of no fault to the Russos, it’s a very difficult task to balance out all these characters, and what they have done here is truly commendable.

There is something I know that will concern some and that is the use of humour here. The MCU has recently been having a lot of humour, and sometimes that humour kind of diffuses some of the drama, and for Infinity War, it seemed like it would negatively affect a lot of the emotional moments. There is a lot of comedy here, and it really does work, it worked for me at least. If you’re worried about the humour ruining some of the drama or not, don’t worry, it doesn’t. During the truly impactful moments, no humour is playing during that scene. Besides, the tonal shifts, the jumping from different places is jarring already so it wouldn’t be too much of an issue. Speaking of impactful moments, there are a lot of them here, some of the most memorable in the entire MCU. I’ll just say that if you were disappointed by the lack of things happening in Civil War, you will be pleased by what happens here. And the ending…. I’m not even sure I can describe it. All I will say is that it is a very bold decision and I applaud the Russos for going in this direction. Now make no mistake, this movie isn’t called Infinity War Part 1, but it is a part 1 of 2 movies. Some of this movie’s quality and ambitious quality could change depending on the decisions made in part 2. On a side note, there is one (not two) end credits scene, I won’t say what it’s about but it does get me really hyped. It also (unlike some other MCU films) really feels like it belongs after the credits as a teaser instead of being easily insertable into the end of the actual film.

The cast to Infinity War is absolutely massive, I could probably take up a whole paragraph just listing the entire cast list and who they play. One thing that The Russo Brothers had said was that Thanos, the big villain of Infinity War, was the main character of Infinity War and I didn’t really believe it. I have to say that they were completely right, he has the most screentime of all the characters and the entire film is surrounding him. Thanos has been built up for 6 years, ever since The Avengers in 2012, he seemed like he wouldn’t live up to all the hype that has been built all around him. However he absolutely delivers. Josh Brolin delivers an incredible motion capture performance (the motion capture on him is amazing, more on that later) and really makes this character work. Something I wasn’t expecting from him is that they don’t treat him like a villain, he has reasons for doing what he does. From what I heard his motives differ from the comics but it worked in this movie at least. Thanos not only might just be the best villain in the MCU, but he’s also one of the best comic book movie villains. Threatening, powerful, interesting to watch and surprisingly full of depth, Thanos more than lives up to the hype. All the other actors do quite great in their roles. Most of the other main characters get to have at least one moment to shine. However, some characters are more utilised than others. It’s quite possible that the characters that you expect or want to have a lot of screentime or things to do doesn’t really end up doing that a lot. Stand outs include Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange and Zoe Saldana as Gamora.

The action sequences are really great, Infinity War has some of the best action sequences of the entire MCU. In the Captain America movies, the Russo Brothers’ often used some jump cuts in their action scenes, and while most of them worked well, it was a little too much. That was cut down a little bit in Infinity War, there’s still a little cutting in the fight scenes but the jump cutting was lessened. Most of the special effects looked good. There are occasionally parts that didn’t look so great, one of the big large action sequences in the third act had some minor CGI issues (mostly in the background), and certain things like occasionally Iron Man’s suit look a little fakish. One impressive CGI aspect however is the motion capture work on Josh Brolin to create Thanos, motion captured and CGI comic book villains are rather common nowadays but the effects here make him among the best, every expression on Brolin’s face is translated by the motion capture, it really enhanced his performance.

Avengers: Infinity War was more than a good movie, it was a great movie. I don’t know where I would rank it among the MCU, but I can say with certainty that it’s top tier Marvel, top 3 at least. I will need to rewatch it so I can be absolutely sure about my thoughts because there is a lot to take in (plus, the quality of this movie will depend on how part 2 fares). What I can say is that it’s entertaining, funny, impactful, shocking and ambitious, and I was more than satisfied with what I got. Stay away from all spoilers, there are so many surprises that you don’t want to have ruined for you. I can’t wait till Avengers 4.

Now You See Me 2 (2016) Review

Time: 129 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast: 860940[1] Violence
Mark Ruffalo as Agent Dylan Rhodes
Jesse Eisenberg as J. Daniel Atlas
Woody Harrelson as Merritt McKinney and Chase McKinney
Dave Franco as Jack Wilder
Lizzy Caplan as Lula May
Daniel Radcliffe as Walter Mabry
Morgan Freeman as Thaddeus Bradley
Jay Chou as Li
Sanaa Lathan as Agent Natalie Austin
Michael Caine as Arthur Tressler
Director: Jon M. Chu

After fleeing from a stage show, the illusionists (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson) known as the Four Horsemen find themselves in more trouble in Macau, China. Devious tech wizard Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe) forces the infamous magicians to steal a powerful chip that can control all of the world’s computers. Meanwhile, vengeful FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) hatches his own plot against Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), the man he blames for the death of his father.

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I liked the first Now You See Me, its not great by any means but I had a fun time with it. So I had mild expectations when it comes to a sequel, it would probably be entertaining but at the same time it wasn’t really necessary, no one was begging for it to exist. Now You See Me 2 was pretty much what I expected it to be, it is around the same level of quality as the first. It’s pretty entertaining and decent but nothing much more than that.

The first movie didn’t really focus too much on The Four Horsemen, with Mark Ruffalo and Melaine Laurent being the main perspective. This time with the 2nd movie, it is from The Four Horsemen’s and Mark Ruffalo’s perspective. Like with the first movie, the plot isn’t great but it does keep your attention and for the most part it keeps you entertained from start to finish. I wasn’t really ever bored but it’s not a completely riveting plot, I was partially curious as to which direction the story was going in. It does feel like it’s just throwing twists at you, and I’m not sure how well those twists would actually hold up upon repeat viewings but I didn’t have too much issues on my first viewing. Though I have a feeling that I’d probably be able to pick some holes on a second viewing.

The previous cast returns with Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Mark Ruffalo, Dave Franco and others and they are still pretty entertaining. Isla Fisher wasn’t able to return for the sequel, so Lizzy Caplan ultimately took her place as the fourth horseman and she did a good job. On a slight note, it was a little rushed how they explained why Fisher wasn’t here, it’s a small aspect but its not movie breaking. One slightly annoying aspect was that in this movie, Woody Harrelson has a twin brother, which is an annoying cliché seen in many movies. He’s not as annoying as he you’d think he would end up being but he is still very distracting and pointless. It was great to see Daniel Radcliffe in a more villainous role and he actually does pull it off quite well, I’d like to see him more in this kind of role. Other actors like Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine are nice to see return.

The direction was decent enough. Whereas the original was directed by Louis Leterrier, the sequel was directed by Jon M. Chu and it was about at the same level. Honestly had I not known this prior to watching the movie I probably wouldn’t be able to tell that the two movies were directed by different people, I wouldn’t have noticed it myself. It is quite entertaining to watch the characters perform magic, and that’s an area that the movie really shines in.

As someone who thoroughly enjoyed the first Now You See Me for what it was, I really enjoyed the sequel. I liked seeing these actors here, I was entertained by what was going on, I overall had a good time. This is an entertaining movie but I don’t think I would call it a good movie. If you don’t like the original Now You See Me, you won’t like the sequel, there’s nothing really here that’s going to change your mind. I heard there is going to be a third movie in the franchise, again, its unnecessary but I wouldn’t mind watching it if it actually ends up happening.

Thor: Ragnarok (2017) Review

Time: 130 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast
Chris Hemsworth as Thor Odinson
Tom Hiddleston as Loki
Cate Blanchett as Hela
Idris Elba as Heimdall
Jeff Goldblum as Grandmaster
Tessa Thompson as Scrapper 142/Valkyrie
Karl Urban as Skurge
Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk
Anthony Hopkins as Odin
Taika Waititi as Korg
Director: Taika Waititi

Imprisoned on the other side of the universe, the mighty Thor (Chris Hemsworth) finds himself in a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits him against the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), his former ally and fellow Avenger. Thor’s quest for survival leads him in a race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela (Cate Blanchett) from destroying his home world and the Asgardian civilization.

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Thor Ragnarok was one of my most anticipated films of 2017, it seemed to be a very unique entry into the MCU. The addition of actors like Cate Blanchett, Karl Urban, Jeff Goldblum had me interested. But the aspect that intrigued me most of all was that Taika Waititi of Hunt for the Wilderpeople and What We do in the Shadows fame was directing, it was certainly an odd choice for presumably the final Thor movie. Ragnarok from everything that we’ve been seeing looked like a weird 80s action sci-fi comedy, it looked so bizarre and off from whatever we were expecting that I just had to know what it was like. Overall, Thor Ragnarok is a fun time, Taika’s direction and writing definitely made this a very unique film that is undoubtedly entertaining.

The first act has some pacing issues, it moves quite slow until Hela shows up for the first time, then the pacing starts sorting itself out. Most of the film is focussing on Thor on Sakaar, then occasionally it will cut back to Asgard with Hela (the main villain), almost out of obligation to show that she is still in this movie. The second half however was more consistently solid. Yes there is a lot of comedy but don’t just mistake it as being just Guardians of the Galaxy with Thor in it. If you’ve seen Taika’s other movies, you can tell that is definitely a Taika Watiti film. The comedy here is not the same as the comedy in the other Marvel movies, its self deprecating, it’s not afraid to make fun of itself, it goes full bonkers at times, so its not just something you usually see. This is actually the most funny of the MCU film, some of the jokes were quite simply hysterical. The question is, does Taika’s tone and direction work for the movie? For the most part.

First thing I want to get out of the way is that this is not a Thor movie, even Thor: The Dark World, arguably the worst Thor movie (as well as the worst MCU film) felt more like a Thor movie than Ragnarok. It feels like Taika Waititi doing this bizarre sci-fi action comedy, that just so happens to be starring Thor and featuring the potential threat of Asgard. To be honest, I’m not really sure those two aspects work well together, especially as the cutting back to Hela in Asgard felt out of place seemed (like I said) out of obligation to briefly show what was going on there. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the tone was misplaced. One thing I can praise Ragnarok for doing is that it separates the dramatic scenes from the comedic scenes, it doesn’t ruin an emotional scene with some misplaced joke (which has become a problem with many of the MCU films as of late). So its not that the comedy ruined the emotional scenes, its that I just didn’t feel that personally connected to the story. I just feel like I should really be caring much more about what’s going on than I actually end up doing, even most scenes that were meant to be emotional didn’t really hit. Aside from that, there’s nothing really here storywise that I have a major issue with. For what Taika was going for, he did a great job with it.

Chris Hemsworth looks like he’s having a blast playing Thor and Tom Hiddleston is once again great as Loki, they work off each other great. Mark Ruffalo was also good, we see the Hulk more than we see Bruce Banner, we actually have The Hulk speaking and interacting and it was an interesting angle to take on him. The supporting cast was also good with actors like Karl Urban and Anthony Hopkins. Idris Elba gets the most to do as Heimdall in any of the Thor movies. Jeff Goldblum is in this movie and this is the most Jeff Goldblum that Jeff Goldblum has ever been. It felt like Taika just wanted Jeff Goldblum to be all Jeff Goldblumy, he doesn’t play a very significant or threatening character. I didn’t mind that, he was undoubtedly fun to watch. Taika Waititi himself plays (motion captures/voices) a character named Korg, who was definitely one of the stand out characters. He was so hilarious and Taika’s voice performance played a big part in that. But the stand out character to me was Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie, such a welcome addition to the MCU. I can’t wait to see more of her in future MCU films. Cate Blanchett is Hela, the main villain here. Is she great? Yes and no. She is undoubtedly one of the better MCU villains, and Blanchett’s performance is fantastic, making the character even better. However, to put it simply, we didn’t get enough of her. As I said, the first half of the movie mostly takes place where Thor is and every so often we get a brief scene with Hela. By the second half we start getting the appropriate number of scenes with her but we really didn’t get to see Hela doing a lot. She is great in the scenes that she’s in however, she feels like a threat, was acted very well and wasn’t as one dimensional as I thought she may end up being. She was also better than most MCU villains, so that’s always nice to see. There are also some hilarious cameos.

The action was generally well filmed. Most of the CGI looks fantastic and some of the shots are absolutely beautiful. Other times it looks really fake looking. When the film is set in practical locations it is great, a loft of the time the production design, costumes, makeup all work to give a unique look. It really does embrace the world of Sakaar and make it something truly different. However Asgard just looks okay, really Kenneth Branagh is the only director who has managed to make Asgard look like something special. The score by Mark Mothersbaugh is pretty good, slightly more memorable than most of the other MCU scores.

I had a fun time with Thor Ragnarok and it’s probably the best MCU film this year. With entertaining characters and most of all Taika’s writing, Thor Ragnarok was a very unique comic book movie. I’m not really sure if Thor was the best character or series for Taika to use for his crazy ideas, and some of the emotional scenes don’t hit as hard as they should’ve but for the most part Ragnarok gets it right. So I do recommend watching it, its at the very least entertaining.

Now You See Me (2013) Review

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Now You See Me

Time: 115 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Jesse Eisenberg as J. Daniel “Danny” Atlas
Mark Ruffalo as Dylan Rhodes
Woody Harrelson as Merritt McKinney
Isla Fisher as Henley Reeves
Dave Franco as Jack Wilder
Mélanie Laurent as Alma Dray
Morgan Freeman as Thaddeus Bradley
Michael Caine as Arthur Tressler
Director: Louis Leterrier

Charismatic magician Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) leads a team of talented illusionists called the Four Horsemen. Atlas and his comrades mesmerize audiences with a pair of amazing magic shows that drain the bank accounts of the corrupt and funnel the money to audience members. A federal agent (Mark Ruffalo) and an Interpol detective (Mélanie Laurent) intend to rein in the Horsemen before their next caper, and they turn to Thaddeus (Morgan Freeman), a famous debunker, for help.

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Now You See Me does have a pretty neat concept, that being illusionists use magic tricks to pull off heists, and it was successful enough that it spawned a sequel which should be releasing anytime soon. Was the first film good enough to warrant a sequel? I will say that Now You See Me isn’t a great film but it is at the very least an entertaining one. The acting by its huge and talented cast and the entertaining visuals and direction are a big contributing factor in this happening. The majority of the flaws lies in the writing, although not bad, are still quite notable and does distract from time to time. However this movie is just so entertaining that it’s quite easy to forget that.

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One thing I’ll emphasise about this movie is that this movie is very entertaining. The pacing is reasonably fast, and you are entertained enough to pay attention to what’s going on. It’s not even close to perfect though. For one, the plot isn’t very interesting. The only reason that I was paying attention was that I was entertained by what I was seeing, I didn’t really care about what was going on. One of the bigger problems is that this movie doesn’t have very good characterisation, especially when it comes to the main characters (played by Eisenberg, Franco, Fisher and Harrelson). We see much more from Ruffalo’s and Laurent’s point of view. While I understand that they were going for a more outsider sort of perspective, it doesn’t make us invested in our main charactrers. While they aren’t unlikable I didn’t particularly care about any of the main characters, they’re just entertaining.

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This film has a huge cast with Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Melanie Laurent, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and many other very talented actors. Now as I said previously, the characters don’t really have much characterisation but the actors do play them quite well. The couple of actors who stole the show for me were Jesse Eisenberg, who usually has a reputation of playing the same character (except for Lex Luthor) and while this role is similar to his performances, he manages to pull off a variation on this performance. And Woody Harrelson is playing… well Woody Harrelson again, but it surprisingly worked for the movie and he was really entertaining.

Jesse Eisenberg plays J. Daniel Atlas, part of a team of thieving illusionists, in Now You See Me. </em

This movie is very entertaining visually, it is a very well-directed movie. The film looks visually beautiful, and it’s easy to see why, since Larry Fong (Watchmen, 300) is involved with the cinematography. With this stylish direction by Louis Leterrier it’s hard not to get pulled into the movie, especially when it shows the main characters pulling off their heists.

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Despite some problems with the script, as well as some characterisation issues, I actually think that this movie is worth watching. If you’re going to see this movie, don’t expect it to be high art or anything of the sort. Go into it expecting a very enjoyable and entertaining ride with good performances, great visuals and just an overall very fun movie. I don’t think it needs a sequel but I do think that it’s good enough to have a watch.

2016 Oscar Predictions

When you look at it in the grand scheme of things, movie awards really don’t matter. There are plenty of movies that should win but don’t, some of them don’t even get nominated, and there are some movies that don’t really deserve to win, but win anyway. So no matter what happens during the awards ceremony, it doesn’t really matter. But still, it’s fun to predict what movies will win and at the same time state what you think should win. Since everyone else is doing it, I decided to give my predictions for the 2016 Academy Awards. I have watched most of the films in the major categories but occasionally there’s a movie like The Hateful Eight which I can’t or just haven’t seen, so just keep that in mind.

* – Haven’t seen yet

BEST PICTURE

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The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Brooklyn
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Room*
Spotlight

Will Win – The Revenant
Should Win – The Revenant
Should’ve Been Nominated – Carol

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Best Director

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Adam McKay – The Big Short
George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road
Alejandro G. Iñárritu – The Revenant
Lenny Abrahamson – Room*
Tom McCarthy – Spotlight

Will Win – Alejandro G. Iñárritu – The Revenant
Should Win – George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should’ve Been Nominated – Todd Haynes – Carol

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BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

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Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
Matt Damon, The Martian
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

Will Win – Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Should Win – Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

=============================

BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

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Cate Blanchett, Carol
Brie Larson, Room*
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years*
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Will Win – Brie Larson, Room
Should Win – Cate Blanchett, Carol
Should’ve Been Nominated – Rooney Mara, Carol (instead of being nominated for supporting)

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BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

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Christian Bale, The Big Short
Tom Hardy, The Revenant
Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Will Win – Sylvester Stallone, Creed
Should Win – Sylvester Stallone, Creed
Should’ve Been Nominated – Benicio Del Toro, Sicario

=============================

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

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Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight*
Rooney Mara, Carol
Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

Will Win – Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Should Win – Rooney Mara, Carol

=============================

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Left to right: Steve Carell plays Mark Baum and Ryan Gosling plays Jared Vennett in The Big Short from Paramount Pictures and Regency Enterprises

The Big Short
Brooklyn
Carol
The Martian
Room*

Will Win – The Big Short
Should Win – The Big Short
Should’ve Been Nominated – Steve Jobs

=============================

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

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Bridge of Spies
Ex Machina*
Inside Out
Spotlight
Straight Outta Compton*

Will Win – Spotlight
Should Win – Spotlight
Should’ve Been Nominated – The Hateful Eight*

=============================

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

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Anomalisa*
Boy and the World*
Inside Out
Shaun the Sheep Movie*
When Marnie Was There*

Will Win – Inside Out
Should Win – Inside Out

=============================

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

Bridge of Spies – Thomas Newman
Carol – Carter Burwell
The Hateful Eight – Ennio Morricone
Sicario – Johann Johannsson
Star Wars: The Force Awakens – John Williams

Will Win – The Hateful Eight
Should Win – The Hateful Eight
Should’ve Been Nominated – Mad Max: Fury Road – Junkie XL

=============================

BEST SOUND EDITING

Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Sicario
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Will Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win – Mad Max: Fury Road

=============================

BEST SOUND MIXING

Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Will Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win – Mad Max: Fury Road

=============================

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

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Bridge of Spies
The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant

Will Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should’ve Been Nominated – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

=============================

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

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Carol
The Hateful Eight*
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Sicario

Will Win – The Revenant
Should Win – The Revenant
Should’ve Been Nominated – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

=============================

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

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Mad Max: Fury Road
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared*
The Revenant

Will Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win – Mad Max: Fury Road

=============================

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

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Carol
Cinderella
The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant

Will Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win – Mad Max: Fury Road

=============================

BEST FILM EDITING

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The Big Short
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Spotlight
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Will Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should’ve Been Nominated – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

=============================

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

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Ex Machina
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Will Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win – Mad Max: Fury Road

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So what are your thoughts, what do you think will win, what do you think should win and what do you think should’ve been nominated? Comment below and let me know your predictions for 2016.