Tag Archives: Todd Haynes

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.

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

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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

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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

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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

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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*

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Carol (2015) Review

ROONEY MARA and CATE BLANCHETT star in CAROL

Carol

Time: 118 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Sex Scenes, Offensive Language and Nudity
Cast:
Cate Blanchett as Carol Aird
Rooney Mara as Therese Belivet
Sarah Paulson as Abby Gerhard
Kyle Chandler as Harge Aird
Jake Lacy as Richard Semco
Director: Todd Haynes

Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) spots the beautiful, elegant Carol (Cate Blanchett) perusing the doll displays in a 1950s Manhattan department store. The two women develop a fast bond that becomes a love with complicated consequences.

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Carol already had my attention when I heard that my two favourite actresses, Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett, were both going to be in the same movie. It had a lot of hype, despite it not winning many of the awards that it was nominated for. After finally seeing Carol I have to say that it is truly one of the best movies of 2015. Todd Haynes’s excellent direction and attention to detail mixed with the great performances from Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett makes this an incredible movie.

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One thing I heard about this movie before going into it is that the romance is much more subtle than in other movies. That’s definitely the case and I thought it was extremely well done, however it wasn’t just the romance that was subtle. The acting and direction allows you to clearly see how the characters are feeling, without too much dialogue needed to get their emotions across. Also you might initially think from the plot summary that a big part of the movie is focussed on how gay people weren’t exactly able to see each other in the 1950s but it smartly focussed more on the actual romance between Carol and Therese, which helped us get pulled even more into the story, if that aspect was included it could’ve taken away the immersement of the love story. This is the first film I’ve seen from Todd Haynes, and after seeing Carol, I really want to see his other movies.

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The acting is excellent from everyone. Cate Blanchett is as usual excellent in one of her best performances yet, and that’s saying a lot considering her performances like in Elizabeth and Blue Jasmine. Another great performance which is often overlooked in this movie is by Rooney Mara. Despite Mara being placed often in Best Supporting Actress in many award ceremonies, the movie is really Therese’s story. She arguably has the hardest job of any of the actors in this movie, a lot of her emotions you get from her eyes, which really is the sign of a great actor. Both of them share great chemistry, there was no moment where I doubted the love between Carol and Therese. The supporting actors also added quite a bit with actors like Sarah Paulson and Kyle Chandler but its Mara and Blanchett’s film.

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Usually with period piece movies, there’s some aspect that doesn’t feel natural with the time period and kind of takes me out of the movie. In the case of Carol however, it puts you right into the 50s with the excellent production design and costumes, which are both things that I don’t usually notice in most films. Todd Haynes’s attention to detail is great and can be clearly seen here. The soundtrack from Carter Burwell was great as well, and helps fit in with the tone that they were going for. By that I noticed that this film almost had some sort of hypnotising effect, and it helped as this movie really felt like a journey with these characters.

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Carol is one of the best movies of 2015, it’s such a shame that it didn’t get as much recognition as it should have. Its excellent performances, the great love story and the production value makes this an amazing movie. I’m not sure if it’s my number 1 favourite movie of the year but I’ll just say that the other movies I gave a 10/10 this year at least had some sort of flaw. With Carol though, I can’t find anything wrong with this movie, everything felt complete and I loved it. Check this movie out as soon as possible.