‘A Star Is Born’: Best Picture’s First Contender?

By Anthony Peyton and Olivia Norwood

Bradley Cooper’s A Star Is Born is the incredibly anticipated remake of a remake. The anticipation lead to something just as satisfying, as the movie itself was incredible.

This time, the film stars Lady Gaga as Ally and Bradley Cooper as Jackson Maine, a music superstar. Ally is a struggling artist and Maine is already clearly successful, as the show opens on his concert.

Without giving too much away, the rest of the film revolves around the building of Ally as a musical sensation and how Maine helps her get there. It’s a heartwarming love story that is spritzed with lots of beautiful songs and sweet moments from the brilliant chemistry of Gaga and Cooper’s love.

Cooper not only starred in this, but he was also the director. My favorite part about this was how seasoned it seemed. It was as if Cooper had directed dozens of films, and this was another to add to the batch. Cooper guided himself and Gaga to a performance that could only be described as phenomenal.

Gaga wasn’t the only one that shined with their vocals. Cooper surprised us all with his ability to not only sing but sing in character as Jackson Maine is almost a southern crooner with a gritty and rustic voice to match. Absolutely stunned by the impressive array of talent shown by Gaga and Cooper.

As soon as I left the film, the first thing I thought was how this was the first movie I’ve seen this year that seems like a solid Oscar contender. Of course we’ve had Eighth Grade, First Reformed, and several others, but this is the first one I very solidly believe deserves it. At the very least, I see this being nominated for Best Directing and Best Original Song.

A category I don’t see A Star Is Born adding to the list of nominations is Best Original Screenplay and here’s why: it fell short in story. Everything seemed very rushed which is understandable considering it follows Ally’s rise to fame but, there was background information that could be further explained.

In one scene, Jackson punches his brother Bobby (Sam Elliot) after finding out that he sold their dead father’s farm and burial spot. You only know this because there is a drawn out argument (involving the usage of f*ck more than three times) where Jackson and Bobby get into each others faces and talk about a past that is hardly ever mentioned before the scene. This happens throughout the entire film of them not really fully explaining any background information along with cutting to another scene right when a character begins to have a moment.

Again, I’m not sure if this was to speed up the progression of the story but it would have been nice to see some type of drawn out moment for any of the characters.

Aside from this, A Star Is Born absolutely did not disappoint in not only giving Lady Gaga redemption for her acting career (I blame you, Ryan Murphy) but it gave us heart, soul, and a song to sing along with. If this isn’t nominated for an Oscar then something is severely wrong with the Academy.


Our Rating: 95%

Acting: 3.6/4

Cinematography: 3.8/4

Story: 3.9/4

Enjoyability: 3.9/4

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Film Forecast Friday: June 29th

On June 29th we have…

1. Sicario: Day of the Soldado

2. Uncle Drew

3. Escape Plan 2

4. Black Water

5. Woman Walks Ahead

6. Leave No Trace

Julia’s Prediction:

This week there aren’t really any big blockbuster movies coming out.

The movie I have seen the most marketing for is definitely Uncle Drew, and it has a lot of big names in it like Tiffany Haddish, Nick Kroll, and more. So based on that I think this could be the biggest movie out of those coming out this week.

However, there have been so many big releases this month I doubt any of these movies will make a big impression at the box office. Between Incredibles 2 and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom these movies will have a hard time coming anywhere near the top of ticket sales.

Anthony’s Prediction:

I’ll start with Uncle Drew, which will make the most at the box office this weekend due entirely to its insane marketing and constant advertising on every platform.

Then we have Sicario: Day of the Soldado which is a sequel, so it’ll make nearly as much as Uncle Drew, even if it’s horrible.

Those two are going to be pretty much the only relevant ones this week, given that there hasn’t been much advertising or anticipation for the sequel to Escape Plan or whatever the heck the other movies are.

Top 8 Best Picture Snubs

Have you ever watched the Oscars, knew what movie was gonna win best picture, and then have some undeserving flick win instead? Oh, wait. It happens almost every year. Here is our Top 8 picks for Best Picture snubs.

1. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Lets be honest with ourselves here, the disgrace that is Shape of Water did not deserve its Best Picture title from this past year. I firmly believe that Guillermo Del Toro ran out of ideas for that one and the award should have been given to the smart and perfectly crafted Three Billboards. That is all I’m saying.

2. Brokeback Mountain

There’s a lot that I could say here. First off, the winner of the award that year, 2006, went to Crash. A film that not even the director is proud of. And it won an Oscar! On the other hand, Brokeback Mountain was thought to be the clear choice considering it had an original plot, great direction, and beautiful performances from Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal. Although it did win awards that season, it most certainly deserved the highest one of all.

3. Avatar

I honestly don’t even know what to say. This is the most groundbreaking film of this generation with animation that not even James Cameron could dream of. It was visually stunning and, literally, out of this world. Yet, they still gave the award to The Hurt Locker? A film that no one had even heard of until the Oscars? I mean, how? 4. The Social Network and Black SwanThis might be an unpopular one but, unpopular opinions make for the best arguments. The 83rd Academy Awards was, by far, my favorite year. Every single movie was different from one another and very creative with their storytelling. Which is why I gotta say that nothing was more creative that year than Black Swan and none of the stories were more appealing and exhilarating as The Social Network. Sorry, The King’s Speech. 5. Les MiserabléI think a lot of us can agree that we were shocked when Ben Affleck went onstage to accept the award for his movie, Argo, winning Best Picture. An even bigger surprise being that Les Miserablé, one of the greatest musicals of all time, won 3/7 of the awards they were nominated for. It was sad to see such a masterpiece be snubbed by the film world. 6. Life of PiAlso nominated the same year as Les Mis was the masterpiece Life of Pi (also directed by Ang Lee, director of Brokeback Mountain). All I have to say is that Ang Lee deserves better. 7. Star WarsI mean… come on. Annie Hall over Star Wars? Regular love story over a revolutionary film that set standards for an entire genre? I am offended and deeply disappointed. 8. A Clockwork OrangeThis film flipped people on their heads and took them for a ride that never asked for but came out thoroughly enthralled. It touched on many taboo topics and has more style and edge than any other film I’ve seen. What did it lose to? The French Connection. Sure, it was probably good, too, but I highly value unique and original stories. And A Clockwork Orange deserved an award that would prove their worth.

‘Walk the Line’: Music, Addiction, and Forbidden Love

By Olivia Norwood, Edited by Julia Wilson

For today’s Time Warp Tuesday, we will be taking a look at one of the greatest musical biopics of all time (and my favorite film) Walk the Line.

The film follows the ‘Man in Black’ musician, Johnny Cash (Joaquin Phoenix), and his musical career. Along the way, he finds love in his childhood crush and longtime singing partner June Carter Cash (Reese Witherspoon) but with the highs comes the lows. The audience is exposed to Johnny’s demons and faults. We learn about his battle with drugs and alcohol and his affair with June despite being married to his wife Vivian (Ginnifer Goodwin). He suddenly becomes his own villain and becomes stuck in a cycle of addiction and infidelity.

Walk the Line went on to win multiple awards including Best Actress at the Academy Awards. What made this film so great was, in fact, the acting. Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon quite literally embodied the souls of Johnny and June Cash. It’s almost like watching a documentary of the famous duo because of the actors’ nearly identical performances. When someone, with hardly any musical experience, can replicate every voice inflection, facial expression, and body movement of a famous musician’s performance then I think it goes without saying that they deserve the highest praise possible.

Along with the musical talent they possess, Phoenix and Witherspoon’s chemistry is both undeniable and honest. Johnny and June had an intense bond that caused him to lose control and hurt June and Johnny’s wife Vivian in the process. This flawed love story is portrayed with the same fierceness it possessed without watering down the moral imperfections. It isn’t the ideal romance that you see in most films, but this also is not a romance – it’s a drama. And that genre leaves all of the ugly parts in.

One of those ugly parts is Johnny’s drug addiction, and the performance that Phoenix gives is too good to not give an Oscar to. As I said before, Johnny becomes the villain in a story where he was the protagonist and his rehabilitation isn’t a pretty one. But Phoenix’s transition between all of them were nearly flawless, and he was able to portray one’s real experience of addiction. He showed the dark side of a man who was once on the top of the mountain and suddenly fell into his own personal hell. (I’m sure you thought I’d make a ‘Ring of Fire’ pun, but that’d be way out of context)

Walk the Line is one of those movies that will never leave your mind after one watch and questions whether fame and fortune is worth the hurt.

‘Titanic’ Makes My Heart Go On

By Anthony Peyton, Edited by Olivia Norwood

When I think of late 90s cinema, there are dozens of movies that come to mind. We have American Beauty (1999), The Sixth Sense (1999), Good Will Hunting (1997), Clueless (1995), and so many others that quickly became classics. For me, however, none touched me quite as much as Titanic (1997).

Titanic is a movie that nearly everyone knows about as most grew up having seen it once or twice. Maybe they’ve even heard about its impressive eleven academy award wins at the 1998 Oscars. No matter how one may have heard of it, it’s a movie that’s touched the hearts and minds of everybody.

Given that everybody knows what the film is about, I’ll keep the summary brief. When poor Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) and recently engaged Rose Bukater (Kate Winslet) meet aboard the RMS Titanic, they find love in one another. They build a relationship beyond anything many have seen, but realize sometimes love doesn’t last as long as you may like it to. In their case, however, it wasn’t a break-up that brought this realization.

The sinking of the RMS Titanic was the climax of this movie, and showed – practically in real time – the sinking of the ship and the drowning of the lives on board. Director James Cameron knew how to capture this emotional tragedy and make it so the audience doesn’t even care about its running time (194 minutes).

Titanic 1
Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Everything about this movie was astonishing to me and millions would agree. Being able to witness such stellar performances by DiCaprio and Winslet (as well as such notable names as Kathy Bates, Billy Zane, and Frances Fisher) under equally beautiful writing makes any moviegoer fill with joyful tears from beginning to end.

It doesn’t happen often in modern cinema that you see a cast of actors and actresses who are all so individually dedicated to their roles. It was obvious that each wanted to portray their characters with the seriousness that those on the real Titanic would’ve maintained.

Much of this is due to the main man himself, James Cameron (Avatar, Aliens). People are no stranger to the work of Cameron, as he had already released Aliens in 1986, eleven years prior to Titanic.

Not everyone was too confident in him for Titanic (given that the budget was incredibly high – the highest of any movie in history at the time – and that most thought it would be “just another romance flick”), and many lost faith before it had even been released. That concept in itself is a marvel to me given its brilliant reception and continued adoration today.

It’s not doing Titanic justice by calling it a brilliant historical adaptation, when it felt like so much more. It was a near spiritual awakening for most who watched it, whether you’ve seen it once, twice, or two dozen times.


My Rating: 96%

Acting: 3.8/4

Cinematography: 3.9/4

Story: 3.8/4

Enjoyability: 3.9/4

‘Tully’: The Truth About Motherhood

By Anthony Peyton, Edited by Julia Wilson

Let me start out by saying that this movie is easily in my top 3 movies this year and deserves an Academy Award nomination. No other movie has felt so real and candid while still being enjoyable and fun.

Charlize Theron (Atomic Blonde, Monster) plays Marlo, a mother of three suffering from severe postpartum depression. Her husband (Ron Livingston) doesn’t do much for the kids, except being the homework helper. Marlo’s rich brother (Mark Duplass) sees just how sleep deprived and exhausted his sister is becoming and recommends a night nanny who can take care of the baby at nights so Marlo can sleep.

At first, Marlo is iffy and uncomfortable with the idea. The thought of having some stranger take care of their newborn baby Mia and leave before they even wake up was strange. They decide not to call the night nanny at first, even though Marlo knows she can’t handle it. Eventually this catches up to her and she calls Tully (Mackenzie Davis), the 26 year old “fun facts for fourth graders” night nanny who is ready to not only care for the baby, but to care for Marlo.

That’s the first part of that movie that I find very meaningful. Tully’s overall philosophy is that she is also taking care of the mother if she’s taking care of the baby. This is because, according to Tully, the newborn Mia’s cells will remain in Marlo’s body for years to come. This makes it so they are one whole, therefore another “baby” Tully is here to take care of.

The acting from each of the characters was absolutely phenomenal. First we have Charlize Theron, who is always phenomenal. This movie was different though. It was extremely easy to notice just how much power and dedication she put into this role to give the “postpartum depression” storyline her all, given its sensitive material.

Mackenzie Davis, who has previously been in Black Mirror, gives us a brilliant portrayal of a “light at the end of the tunnel” type of character that everyone absolutely loves. Neither of these characters (Tully and Marlo) would be quite as appealing if the actresses behind them didn’t know what they were doing.

This was a movie where I didn’t have even the slightest interest to check the time on my phone, or question how long it’s been going. I was genuinely interested in Marlo and Tully’s entire story, beginning to end, and you will too.

Tully teaches love, care, neglect, nourishment, and how it is for some people entering motherhood for their first, second, third, or fourth time. It shows that even already having two kids and another on the way doesn’t mean it needs to be easy, persay. Postpartum can come from any child, and it’s important to have either the husband or somebody caring for you when you’re going through that. Nobody should have to go through that alone.


My Rating: 96%

Acting: 3.9/4

Cinematography: 3.7/4

Story: 3.9/4

Enjoyability: 3.8/4