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It’s been a really strong year in regards to my apathy about award shows. I didn’t even finish watching the Golden Globes, and if I did watch the Emmys, I completely forgot it. This is good for me! Awards don’t matter, after all, unless it’s the Jackson Hole Elementary Spelling Bee Award, of which I am a proud recipient.

But, as there is no Nobel Prize for film and I have no way of getting to Cannes to give my personal opinion on what should win the Palme d’Or, so I talk about the Oscars instead. Heeeeere we go.

Nominees: American Sniper, Birdman, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory of Everything, Whiplash

My Pick: If the gods are good, Birdman.

What I’d Like To Win: Birdman!

The heat of the debate in the Oscar-invested community is whether or not Linklater’s “TOUR DE FORCE” (a term I loathe, much like this movie!) Boyhood is going to take the golden man, or Iñárritu’s fascinating, complex character piece Birdman will.

By, uh. By description alone you can tell what I’m rooting for.

Both films were small, intimate pieces, that both had massive concepts behind them; Boyhood, with it’s twelve years of filmmaking, and Birdman, with it’s long, single-takes shots, seamlessly weaved together. However, when you take the concepts out and look at the individual elements of the film side by side, one clearly towers over the other in terms of quality and entertainment. Birdman has a vibrant cast who pour their heart and souls to their character, much like their characters pour their hearts and souls at each other. The script itself also weaves in with the one-take concept, considering it’s about the staging of a play which, in their own way, are done in “one take”. The movie feels like a play, which is why the concept works so well. However, the film would also work well without the concept.

Boyhood, on the other hand, has a striking concept as well, but the script fails to elevate it to any other level other than “IT TOOK SO LONG TO FILM LOOK!!!” which just reads as sort of manipulative, to me. The lead character is so incredibly drab it makes the movie hard to sit through. The dialogue is all things that been explored in previous Linklater films, and I just…. I just don’t care. At all. That’s it.

I’d be pretty okay if The Grand Budapest Hotel won as well, since Wes Anderson is awesome and he should be universally recognized as such.

There’s also another minor controversy in the Best Picture category, regarding the fact that only 8/10 slots for nominations are filmed. And I guess they just decided to… ignore Gone GirlA Most Violent Year… Foxcatcher et cetera… but, what’cha gonna do. Last year I was upset that they snubbed Inside Llewyn Davis, and now I’m realizing that the Academy just actually doesn’t care about our feelings.

I mean, they nominated American Sniper for BEST PICTURE. That really just says it all, doesn’t it?


Nominees: The Grand Budapest Hotel,  Birdman, Boyhood, Foxcatcher, The Imitation Game

My Pick: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman

What I’d Like To Win: Iñárritu, no contest, but it would actually be really nice to see Wes get his!

As someone who has always championed technicality and artistry, Iñárritu is the clear frontrunner in my head. The amount of detail, dynamics, and complexities shown through the direction alone in Birdman is unparalleled by anything this year.

But of course, instead of painstaking attention to detail and fascinating camera work, the Academy is probably just going to give it to fucking Linklater, because IT TOOK TWELVE YEARS THAT’S SO LONG WOW!!! (Even though I can only take so many medium shots before I want to actually burn down the movie theater).

Still, my official pick is going to be Alejandro because for some reason I still have hope that the Academy will actually do right by me, truly showcasing my naivety.

It would be nice to see Wes Anderson get an Oscar for best director, but at this point it’s just sort of giving him one out of consolation for having such a unique and interesting style all these years. If he won, I wouldn’t be mad about it.

Also I can’t really fathom how Morten Tyldum (Imitation Game) is nominated over Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) and  Ava DuVernay (Selma) but I mean, at least it’s not Clint Eastwood.


Nominees: Steve Carell, Bradley Cooper, Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Keaton, Eddie Redmayne

My Pick: Michael Keaton

Who I’d Like To Win: Michael Keaton

If you guys didn’t know, I kind of liked the movie Birdman. That says it all about my choice.

Keaton’s biggest competitor so far this award season has been Eddie Redmayne however, who definitely showcased his ability in The Theory of Everything. He did a terrific job. But it was nowhere near as nuanced as Keaton’s. But the possibility of Eddie getting the award is incredibly high because what they say about actors playing people with disabilities getting Oscars is actually 100% true.

There were a lot of snubs in this category. Namely,  Jake Gyllenhaal who was absolutely electrifying in Nightcrawler, as well as David Oyelowo (Selma) and Ralph Fiennes (Grand Budapest) who were both completely washed over in lieu of Bradley Cooper who… I mean, he’s a fine actor and all but did you really, really have to nominate him? DID YOU REALLY? The Academy is shoving American Sniper down my throat and I can’t stand it.


Nominees:  Marion Cotillard, Felicity Jones, Julianne Moore, Rosamund Pike, Reese Witherspoon

My Pick: Julianne Moore

Who I’d Like To Win: Rosamund Pike

You know what they say. Play someone with an illness or disability and you get an Oscar. Not to dig on Julianne Moore because she is a consistently great actress, but when they give her an award this year, it will really be more of a lifetime achievement award than the Best Actress of Last Year. Still Alice was a fine movie (I didn’t talk about it in my catch up reviews, mostly because I was watching it while I was writing them), and she did a really really good job, but… Rosamund was still better, in my eyes. She was pretty much the sole reason I went back to see Gone Girl so many times, because her interpretation of that now infamous character was just so, so stellar.

Oh well.


Nominees: Robert Duvall, Ethan Hawke, Edward Norton, Mark Ruffalo, J.K. Simmons

My Pick: J.K. Simmons

What I’d Like To Win: Ed, Mark, or J.K.

Man, Whiplash was a freakin’ awesome movie.

Also this might be the category I hate the least! None of these people bothered me! I mean Ethan Hawke has never been my guy but I actually also didn’t hate him in Boyhood either. The thing I hated about Boyhood was the boy, which wasn’t really his fault, so y’know.

J.K. Simmons gonna win though, don’t even fool yourself into thinking anything different.


Nominees: Patricia Arquette, Laura Dern, Keira Knightly, Emma Sone, Meryl Streep

My Pick: Patricia Arquette

What I’d Like To Win: Emma Stone

I’m actually okay with Patricia Arquette winning for Boyhood because she was the sole reason I didn’t smash my face into my computer while watching that bland, palaver-filled nonsense.

Emma was really good in Birdman though, and convinced me she was actually a real actress and not your run of the mill teen drama girl, so that was cool.

I don’t know why Keira Knightly is nominated at all because her performance wasn’t exactly life changing, but I guess slim pickings this year? Whatever.


Nominees: Citizenfour, Finding Vivian Maier, Last Days in Vietnam, The Salt of the Earth, Virunga

My Pick: Citizenfour

What I’d Like To Win: I dunno. Whatever. My favorite doc of the year wasn’t even nominated, so.

Admittedly I didn’t watch every documentary this year, but I did watch Citizenfour, which is apparently the front runner. It makes sense because it’s definitely the most topical documentary out of this particular bunch, and it was some really compelling stuff.

I’m pretty sad my Jodorowsky doc didn’t make the cut, but I think even documentaries about him are too abstract for the Academy to handle. Understandably so.


Nominees: Big Hero 6, The Boxtrolls, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Song of the Sea, The Tale of Princess Kaguya

My Pick: How to Train Your Dragon 2

What I’d Like To Win: The Lego Movie :(((

The Academy Awards do not give a single fuck about animated films. This is common knowledge. I didn’t even see How to Train Your Dragon 2 but it’s probably gonna win because it’s the one with the most buzz around it. I wouldn’t be surprised if they gave it to the Disney vehicle like they have for the past two years, though.

The Lego Movie and The Book of Life got screwed. F you, Academy. I thought I trusted you with the Animated Feature category after Rango won in 2011 but you’ve spit in my face since then, and you should be ashamed.


Nominees: Ida, Leviathan, Tangerines, Timbuktu, Wild Talkes

My Pick: Ida

What I’d Like To Win: Is it too early for Xavier Dolan’s Mommy to win? Yes? #MOMMY2K16

I didn’t brush up on my Foreign films this year, whoops. Hollywood Reporter says Ida, I’ll just go with them.


Nominees:  American Sniper, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Whiplash

My Pick: Boyhood

What I’d Like To Win: Whiplash god damn!!!

I can’t believe American Sniper is nominated, that is actually laughable.

Anyway the editing was probably the best part Boyhood so I guess they’re gonna win, even though Whiplash’s cuts were soooo well executed, god DAMN.

And I’m actually offended and appalled that Gone Girl wasn’t nominated for editing but I’m starting to learn that life just isn’t fair.


Nominees: The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Interstellar, Into the Woods, Mr. Turner

My Pick: Grand Budapest

What I’d Like To Win: Grand Budapest

Say what you want about Wes Anderson & his team of pals, but they know how to design a fucking set. Outstanding as usual, corporeal.

Though the design in Interstellar was the best part of the movie, and the design in Into the Woods was absolutely 100% perfect and true to the musical, so either of those winning would be A-okay with me as well.


Nominees: Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Ida, Mr. Turner, Unbroken

My Pick: Birdman

What I’d Like To Win: Birdman do not even talk to me right now

Look we can all appreciate Wes Anderson and his color schemes and flawless symmetry but don’t mess with me on this one aight thanks bye


Nominees: Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Guardians of the Galaxy, Interstellar, X-Men: Days of Future Past

My Pick: Intersellar

What I’d Like To Win: This is a fun category!!! Let’s make everything win!!

2014 was an awesome year for popcorn movies, you guys. Cap 2, the new Apes movie, Guardians… all of those movies were like, wonderful. I felt more emotions in Captain America 2 than I did for Boyhood, and Cap 2 was a freakin’ huge studio blockbuster while Boyhood was the small indie arthouse thing. Like, what parallel universe have I stumbled into?

As this category is for visual effects though, I’m gonna have to go with Nolan. Good stuff this year, bros.


Nominees: Foxcatcher, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Guardians of the Galaxy

My Pick: Grand Budapest

What I’d Like To Win: They were all good, and I’m really not picky about makeup.

I dunno, I liked Tilda Swinton’s getup and Saoirse’s birthmark shaped like Mexico. Steve Carell’s nose was pretty fun though.


Nominees: The Grand Budapest Hotel, Inherent Vice, Into the Woods, Maleficent, Mr. Turner

My Pick: Grand Budapest

What I’d Like To Win: Grand Budapest

Not picky about this category either, but dem colors!!


Nominees: The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Interstellar, Mr. Turner, The Theory of Everything

My Pick: The Theory of Everything

What I’d Like To Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel, but only because my fav’s weren’t nominated.

This category wins the Oscar for “Category Maddison Hates the Most this Year” because Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross’s soundtrack for Gone Girl was a pivotal factor in why that movie worked so well and they didn’t even nominate it. Also, Birdman’s score was completely out there and AWESOME and yet of course The Academy are gonna go with the safe route, picking whatever sounds the closest to a John Williams score (not to dig on him because Jurassic Park is my shit) because they’re boring old white people who don’t actually know anything about music.


Nominees: The Lego Movie, Selma, Beyond the Lights, Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me, Begin Again

My Pick: Glory, Selma

What I’d Like To Win: Glory or…. EVERYTHING IS AWESOMMMEE!!!

I’m picking Glory because Common is the shit.

If Everything is Awesome wins, though, then The Lonely Island will be on their way to an EGOT which would I think just be a big boost in morale for this country.


Nominees: American Sniper, Birdman, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Interstellar, Unbroken

My Pick: American Sniper

What I’d Like To Win: I dunno, Birdman I guess ‘cuz I like that movie best.

For a space movie, Interstellar’s sound was wweeeeirdly off-par, especially when you compare it to last year’s Gravity. Dunno why it’s nominated, but whatever.


Nominees: American Sniper, Birdman, Interstellar, Unbroken, Whiplash

My Pick:  Whiplash

What I’d Like To Win: Whiplash

Too bad Into the Woods isn’t nominated, I thought their mix was swell; plus it’s pretty hard to pull off a musical that effectively. Whiplash’s mix was DOPE though so I’m hoping for a win there–though it’s a competition between that and American Propaganda Sniper.


Nominees: American Sniper, The Imitation Game, Inherent Vice, The Theory of Everything, Whiplash

My Pick:  The Imitation Game

What I’d Like To Win:  Inherent Vice because that’s actually just great that it’s nominated honestly. Go PTA!

Cannot believe

they nominated

the bullshit script

that was American Sniper

over Gone Girl

that is just


No lie, Gone Girl was maybe my favorite screenplay of the entire year and they just…. wow. Wow. Wooow. Wow. I try so hard not to buy into the “The Academy is Sexist!!!” thing but this shit…


Nominees: Birdman, Boyhood, Foxcatcher, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Nightcrawler

My Pick: The Grand Budapest Hotel


Please Wes. Crush Linklater. Just crush him.

Welp, that’s it for my picks. Who will win? Who’s speech will move us to tears? When will all the existing Academy members will die? What alien species will overrun our planet first? Time will tell!

2014 Review Catch Up!


So I didn’t post a lot on this blog in 2014. I don’t really have an excuse for that, because I saw a lot of movies, and if anything, my opinions on things become more and more polarized to the point where I should write about them, just as an exercise in getting pent up frustrations out. However, I did not, and as the Oscars are this Sunday, I figured I’d  take a look back at some of the films I saw in 2014 and didn’t review. Don’t fret–I’ll also be doing an Oscar breakdown at some point later, but I thought it was important to first get my feelings about these films out of the way, in chronological order. I’m also gonna leave out some of the smaller films I saw–we’ll just focus on the ones that got the most press this year.

The Lego Movie

I was so hyped for this film last year. I don’t even know where the hype came from, but it honestly didn’t disappoint me in the slightest. The only real negative thing that could be said about The Lego Movie is that story wise, it isn’t the most innovative (chosen one gets the thing to save the world), but in a way even that plays into how great it is. It’s one of the most meta animated films I’ve ever seen, but who could expect anything less from the creative minds of Chris Miller & Phil Lord. I’ve never really been disappointed with anything they’ve put out, and this only cements that. Witty, imaginative, and interesting to all audiences (I’ve had enthusiastic conversations about this film with 10 year olds and 50 years olds alike), The Lego Movie is the most heartfelt and hilarious ninety minute commercial you will ever witness.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

As a fan of Wes Anderson, I am very quick to see anything he puts out, and am seldom disappointed. And with The Grand Budapest Hotel, he managed to push his quirky envelope to the absolute limit. I’m 100% here for it. It’s as fun to watch as I’m sure it was to be a part of, with splendid performances all around. The man can really do no wrong. I saw a tumblr post once that said something along the lines of, “Wes Anderson is like Quentin Tarantino’s weird quirky brother who listens to vinyl and complains about Quentin stealing his library card.”

I’m not really sure what that has to do with my review of this movie, but I find it really fitting.

Point is, it’s refreshing these days to go into a movie and actually have fun. Maybe that doesn’t mean a lot coming from me since I am a cinema cynic, devoid of any part of me that is able to relax and not take movies 100% seriously, but I had a great time while watching Grand Budapest. It’s not my favorite Wes movie (Rushmore is unbeatable), but it’s one of the best.

Jodorowsky’s Dune

I once watched a Alejandro Jodorowsky film with my sister entitled The Holy Mountain.

To this day, I still don’t know what I watched–only that it was the pinnacle of the absurd, really really colorful, and, despite making two hours feel like five, bizarrely compelling.

Jodorowsky is somewhat of a living legend for his ability to encapsulate the odd in a combination of John Waters and Salvador Dali, and one time, he tried to make a film adaption of the Frank Herbert novel Dune–which ended up later infamously falling into the hands of David Lynch.

But Jodorowsky’s vision of Dune was so unruly, so fascinating, and such a beautiful disaster, that Frank Pavich decided making a documentary about how the production fell to pieces was a good idea.

Spoiler alert: it really, really was. Easily my favorite documentary of the year, and an honest to god shame it wasn’t nominated for an Oscar.


THIS SHIT WAS DOPE. PLEASE WATCH IT. IT IS SO ASTRONOMICALLY INVENTIVE AND PROGRESSIVE. And meta. If you didn’t know, I really like meta things. This film laughs in the audience’s face and it is amazing, the script is such a wonderful echo of reality both in the movie and outside. There aren’t enough words to describe my love for this wonderful movie. Easily my favorite film of the year.

Gone Girl

Another perfect storm of a film that somehow perfectly juggles feminism and sociopathy in a way that is offensive to no one. The titular character of Amy Dunne is a fascinating examination of a femme fatal, and the overarching themes of the effects of long term relationships is both soul-crushing and oddly liberating. Only David Fincher could take something that could be a TV movie on Lifetime and elevate it to this level of artistry and success, combined with one killer performance from a dark horse, Rosamund Pike. Also the soundtrack is elemental; please keep working forever, Trent Reznor. Definitely read my friend Kelly’s deconstruction of Amy Dunne.


There’s one thing to be said for Christopher Nolan, and that is the man knows how to create a theater experience. I have never walked into a Nolan movie, sat down, and not at least had a good time watching it. The unfortunate thing is that some of the time, I walk out of the Nolan movie, and that’s when it gets disappointing for me. Case and point: Interstellar. A beautifully shot film that pays homage after homage to my favorite filmmaker (Stanley Kubrick and his magnum opus 2001: A Space Odyssey), with production design like no other, unfortunately falls short on the writing end of the spectrum.

I mean, come on, Nolan. “Love Conquers All?”

My friend coined this film really well as, “The Best Episode of Doctor Who Ever.” Which is fine, I mean, Doctor Who is a good time. This movie was a good time. Not perfect, certainly no Inception and certainly no Dark Knight, but a good time. I do tip my hat to Nolan, though, for constantly coming up with (mostly) new sci-fi ideas while somehow managing to still be accessible to general audiences and film snobs alike, which is maybe the most difficult thing to pull off, ever.

The Book of Life

Can Maria become the new Elsa because my quality of life would improve tenfold. Please, parents, show your child this film, because it is splendid. No more words.

The Book of Life > The last ten years of Disney films.

Inherent Vice

With Paul Thomas Anderson being one of the top competitors for my #1 spot as “Favorite Living Director,” it goes without saying that I was excited for Inherent Vice. After the majesty that was The Master, I was also excited to see PTA working with Joaquin Phoenix again, and that, combined with my favorite trailer last year, just all stewed into my pot of hype deliciously.

And then I was disappointed.

Before anyone (Ott) says anything, no, it’s not because “Thomas Pynchon novels don’t make sense!!” or “I couldn’t follow it!!”. It was because it was maybe the least dynamic PTA film to date, with just a series of scenes of Joaquin Phoenix walking somewhere, saying some stuff, and then leaving. Examine any other PTA movie and that is not what you will see. Thomas Pynchon is a very ambiguous and complex writer–so maybe some ambiguous and complex scene structures might be nice. That being said, the film still looked beautiful, so Paul is still one of my favorite technical directors.


Great story, GREAT characters–I can honestly see Lou Bloom and Amy Dunne getting together. However, when I saw Nightcrawler my initial vibe was that they were going for a Drive type feel–it wasn’t nearly stylistic enough. However, the film still managed to keep me invested and interested all the way through, and the way the main character was written was so devious, sharp, and just plain interesting that I couldn’t get enough. Jake Gyllenhaal in my head has always been kind of underrated in Hollywood–he gives great performance after great performance and never gets much recognition for it. I’d give him an Oscar nomination for this over most of Leo DiCaprio’s nominations, just sayin’.



Are the thought police gone? Okay, real review time.

I realize I’m in the dissenting opinion here, but I really, really didn’t like Boyhood. Before you get antsy, I will say that it is an amazing feat what they accomplished. I mean, filming something over 12 years… watching the actors grow before your eyes… that’s likeunheard of

Okay, okay. All snark aside. It was well shot, pretty, and Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette gave really solid performances. Unfortunately with a film titled “Boyhood,” the main focus is on… the boy. He is boring and I don’t care about anything in his life. All of the philosophical elements of this film have already been explored in previous Linklater productions–his Before trilogy is easily his best work, and it is painfully obvious that the writing process for Boyhood just blatantly borrowed ideas from those films.

Furthermore, Boyhood does the cheapest thing in the universe, which is uses nostalgia to make people feel things & think the film is Amazing. If this movie had not been shot over twelve years, if you took out all of the prolonged shots of things that will make me nostalgic (a Gameboy SP, for example), but you still used the exact same script, it would be an incredibly mediocre film.

When the only thing that elevates your movie to the next level is a gimmick, you’re not an Innovative Filmmaker. Linklater is just a patient one. Which is fine, but it’s so unnecessary to trademark him as a true progressive, when this script and characters are anything but. Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman) is a progressive, and even though his film also has somewhat of a gimmicky quality to it, the script and the characters at least give the movie another layer completely. Boyhood completely lacks that.

Into The Woods

With the least accessible second act in musical theater history, I was really interested to see how the film production of Into The Woods was going to go. And, surprisingly enough, it went really, really well. It was imaginative, the production design was fantastic, the sound mixing was beautiful, and it was cast perfectly. It was also way more interesting and dynamic to watch than, say, Les Miserables, but maybe I’m just biased because I love the hell out of Stephen Sondheim.

I also found it beautifully ironic that Disney produced this film, considering the musical is literally making fun of all of their exploits. The live-action remake of Cinderella was one of the previews before I saw Into the Woods, which made me chuckle quite a lot.

Big Hero 6

SPEAKING OF Disney movies, the winter season’s vehicle! With Marvel and Disney now being fully synergized, it was only a matter of time before an animated superhero film. And thus, Big Hero 6 was born, and this time, it not only integrated every single Disney trope in the book, but every single Marvel trope in the book as well! Isn’t life fun? Aren’t cliches still enjoyable after the 700th time? Ah, yes.

I feel like Disney is just run by a robot now. I get no sense of individual artistry in any of their films; no voice other than the big, corporate, “I want all your money, sheeple” voice. The other two animated films I reviewed are so stylish and perceptible to the individuals who made them. There really isn’t any of that going on at Disney anymore. The AI just makes movies that everyone on earth will see and think is nice. I guess their AI works, because Big Hero 6 was a nice movie. I laughed, I cried, I got excited, I felt for all the characters.

“So what’s wrong with that, Maddison?”



This movie was everything Spielberg’s Lincoln should’ve been: pointed in on one specific period in a famous person’s history, without cheaply foreshadowing to future events nor rehashing things that already occurred in the film’s canon. With sharp performances all around, this is easily the best biopic of the year, as well as the least Oscar Baity, which gives it a standing ovation in my personal opinion. The direction in this movie is sharp, the writing is as excellent as the performances… it’s a well crafted biographical movie that still somehow manages to be progressive in the art of filmmaking, unlike…

The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything

…which are, by definition, “well crafted movies.” And yet I was bored by them, not because the characters were underdeveloped or because the direction was flat, which they weren’t. They were Good Movies, as there always are in every Oscar season. These stories might be important to be told; the main focus of both films are absolutely men to be honored. But in 5 years, I don’t see these in any “BEST FILMS OF THE DECADE” lists. I do, however, see them in high school history classes.

Benedict Cumberbatch was good. Eddie Redmayne was good too. They were good movies. But I don’t really care about them all that much. Neither of these films are The Social Network or A Beautiful Mind. That’s all there is to be said.

American Sniper

Remember when Clint Eastwood talked to a chair on national television, pretending it was Obama? Yeah, that crazy ol’ bastard still makes movies. Here’s one of ‘em. Think… “Birth of a Nation,” but instead of demonizing black people, we’ll demonize Middle Easterners! Let’s make a movie that will only intensify White Fear! I think that will be really good for society, because there aren’t enough hate crimes against Muslim folks in America already!

If you’ve seen Inglorious Basterds, take this moment to remember that one Nazi that Daniel Brühl plays. The sniper who killed a bunch of people in that watchtower. Remember how the Reich Minister of Nazi Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, makes a biopic about him and all the Nazis celebrate him and his accomplishments, despite the fact that he’s actually a horrible, egotistical womanizer, and a damn NAZI?

That’s actually 100% what American Sniper is. Chris Kyle was not a nice dude. Please stop celebrating him. And please stop saying that he “protected our freedoms” because straight up, killing people in a country that is 1/22 the size of ours and is half a globe away does not do shit to “protect our freedom.” Thanks.

Also, this movie was really really poorly directed. It looked like a Call of Duty sniper montage on YouTube. Except it was less fun to watch, because Chris Kyle hardscoped the whole time and didn’t even do one 360. Bradley Cooper was good, only because he’s a good actor, not because this role was written well. The nobody who played his wife was a bore. And then Jonathan Groff showed up for 2 minutes just to confuse me with his role choices, or maybe just to prove that Clint Eastwood is at least cool with gay dudes? I don’t know. It was a lame movie, is the point I’m trying to make.

Clint Eastwood, you were really really amazing. Once upon a time. That time is over. Please stop making films now, because your filmmaking ability has already peaked and it’s all downhill from here. I’d like to remember you with some fondness but you’re making it hard.


What a film. Wow, just thinking about this movie gets the bad taste of writing about American Sniper out of my mouth. What. A. Film. This is the kind of movie you go in to watch and you can just feel the energy and drive that went into making it. It’s love that is palpable; hell, you could stir it with a spoon. The direction is so aggressive, much like the script and the characters and the performances, and all of it  blends to make a film that just goes BAM! CRASH! POW!

Pun intended, because Whiplash is about a drummer, hohoho. And actually a really nice way to close out the cinematic year of 2k14, which was underwhelming in some parts, and overwhelming in others. In a film society that is plagued by remake after remake, sequel after sequel, it’s invigorating, inspiring, and liberating to know that there are still truly original passion projects being pursued.

Maddison’s Emmy Breakdown


Every time any of these awards shows rolls around, I find myself asking, “Why do I care so much? What purpose do these hokey award ceremonies serve? What is the point?”

Last night during the ever-so-acclaimed VMA’s, I saw people ranting on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, about the great tragedy that was Beyonce getting robbed by Katy Perry. My first reaction to this was to shake my head and say, “who actually cares?” But now I am realizing how incredibly hypocritical that is of me. During the Emmys last year, I tweeted a picture of my friend’s brother’s spear and noted (jokingly [maybe]) that that was the article i was going to commit seppuku with if the Big Bang Theory won in any category it was nominated in.

My attitude towards such things have not changed in the slightest. I don’t have the spear on hand tonight, but I’m sure I’ll think of something.

Earlier in the year I remember driving around Los Angeles and seeing all of the billboards plastered with various series, actors, all with the classic slogan, For Your Consideration. It was almost fascinating, seeing all the shows put themselves out there like that, and I wonder what it’s all for. Critical acclaim in being an Emmy Winning Television Program? The much sought-after reverence it beholds? Because truly, what does an Emmy do? I couldn’t name you one show that one an Emmy five years ago. I could probably hazard a guess that it was like, Mad Men or something, but even so, do I really care?

Again: what is the point?

I really don’t know.

But I have a bet with my friend over 100 dollars in who’s picks are better, so I guess I’ll write this article anyway.

supporting actor comedy


  • Andre Braugher (Brooklyn Nine Nine)
  • Adam Driver (Girls)
  • Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family)
  • Ty Burrell (Modern Family)
  • Fred Armisen (Portlandia)
  • Tony Hale (Veep)

My Pick: Andre Braugher

Who I’d Like to Win: Andre, Adam Driver, literally anyone exept the nerds from Modern Family

I don’t know about you all but I am absolutely exhausted by the Modern Family sweeps. With such enriching and fascinating comedy programs out there, why do the Emmy’s always pick safe? I’m done. Brooklyn 99 is a refreshing sitcom and Andre deserves it.

supporting actress comedy


  • Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory)
  • Julie Bowen (Modern Family)
  • Allison Janney (Mom)
  • Kate Mulgrew (Orange Is The New Black)
  • Kate McKinnon (SNL)
  • Anna Chlumsky (Veep)

My Pick: Kate Mulgrew

Who I’d Like to Win: Kate Mulgrew

I might be a little biased because as far as comedy this year goes, Orange Is The New Black, Louie, and Girls pack the punch. I’d say Brooklyn Nine Nine does as well, but unfortunately it’s not nominated in half the categories it deserves it, so I’ll go with the next best thing. Kate Mulgrew slays with “Red” on Orange is the New Black, and deserves every bit of recognition. I, in fact, wonder why half the cast of OITNB isn’t nominated here.

supporting actor drama


  • Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad)
  • Jim Carter (Downton Abbey)
  • Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones)
  • Josh Charles (The Good Wife)
  • Mandy Patinkin (Homeland)
  • Jon Voight (Ray Donovan)

My Pick: Aaron Paul. Please.

Who I’d Like to Win: AARON PAUL. PLEASE.




supporting actress drama


  • Anna Gun (Breaking Bad)
  • Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey)
  • Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey)
  • Lena Headey (Game of Thrones)
  • Christine Baranski (The Good Wife)
  • Christina Hendricks (Mad Men)

My Pick: Anna Gun

Who I’d Like to Win: Anna Gun, Christine Baranski

This is a little tougher race because The Good Wife just had arguably it’s best season ever. However it’s hard to beat Anna’s stellar performance in what was a near perfect final season of Breaking Bad. Maggie Smith and Lena Headey also brought the fire as usual, but I don’t think it’s their year.

supporting actor miniseries


  • Colin Hanks (Fargo)
  • Jim Parsons (The Normal Heart)
  • Joe Mantello (The Normal Heart)
  • Alfred Molina (The Normal Heart)
  • Matt Bomer (The Normal Heart)
  • Martin Freeman (Sherlock)

My Pick: Oh. Well. Uh. Matt Bomer, I guess.

Who I’d Like to Win: Uh. I dunno. Whoever.

Wow. I guess we know what’s winning best TV movie.

supporting actress miniseries


  • Frances Conroy (American Horror Story)
  • Kathy Bates (American Horror Story)
  • Angela Bassett (American Horror Story)
  • Allison Tolman (Fargo)
  • Ellen Burstyn (Flowers in the Attic)
  • Julia Roberts (The Normal Heart)

My Pick: Allison Tolman

Who I’d Like to Win: Man, I don’t really care.

It’s funny how AHS is getting nominated out the wazoo when this last season was objectively it’s worst. But I’m not complaining. Allison Tolman did a great job channeling her inner Frances McDormand, so I’ll say the award goes to her.

lead actor miniseries


  • Benadryl Pumpkinpatch (Sherlock)
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor (Dancing on the Edge)
  • Idris Elba (Luther)
  • Martin Freeman (Fargo)
  • Mark Ruffalo (The Normal Heart)
  • Billy Bob Thornton (Fargo)

My Pick: Billy Bob Thornton

Who I’d Like to Win: Martin Freeman

Again, maybe I’m biased because Fargo is one of my favorite movies and the series this year was just a feat of marvelous storytelling. Thornton killed it, and so did Freeman, but I think the Emmy will go to who channeled the most crazy.

lead actress miniseries


  • Helena Bonham Carter (Burton and Taylor)
  • Minnie Driver (Return to Zero)
  • Jessica Lange (American Horror Story)
  • Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story)
  • Cicely Tyson (The Trip to Bountiful)
  • Kristen Wiig (The Spoils of Babylon)

My Pick: Cicely Tyson

Who I’d Like to Win: I don’t care really.

Tyson won a Tony for this performance so I guess they might as well give her an Emmy too.

lead actor comedy


  • Louis CK (Louie)
  • Don Cheadle (House of Lies)
  • Ricky Gervais (Derek)
  • Matt LeBlanc (Episodes)
  • William H. Macy (Shameless)
  • Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory)

My Pick: Louie

Who I’d Like to Win: Literally anyone but Jim Parsons

I am so over The Big Bang Theory’s existence. I am over the mere idea of it being a show that people watch. Jim Parsons is a good guy and all, but this needs to end. In the year where Louis CK is nominated for almost every comedic award, I guess I’ll pick him. He’s not much of an actor, but I’ll be damned if I don’t love what he does. Ricky Gervais also pulled off a very controversial performance with ease, so it’d be great to see him get it also.

lead actress comedy


  • Lena Dunham (Girls)
  • Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie)
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep)
  • Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly)
  • Amy Poehler (Parks & Rec)
  • Taylor Schilling (Orange is the New Black)

My Pick: Taylor Schilling

Who I’d Like to Win: Amy Poehler, Taylor Schilling

So Julia Louis-Dreyfus is probably going to win but out of my own stubborn spirit I’m going to pick Taylor Schilling anyway because of her amazingly cognizant and meticulously neurotic characterization in Orange is the New Black. It’d be nice to see Amy Poehler finally win for Parks and Rec, though.

lead actor drama


  • Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)
  • Jeff Daniels (The Newsroom)
  • Jon Hamm (Mad Men)
  • Woody Harrelson (True Detective)
  • Matthew McConaughey (True Detective)
  • Kevin Spacey (House Of Cards)

My Pick: Oh man. Oh shit. Oh fuck. Uh. Uh. Okay. Okay. Okay. Matthew McConaughey. I’m picking him. Okay.

Who I’d Like to Win: Any and all of these gentleman are extraordinarily deserving of the award. I would be stoked if any one of them won. What a time to be alive.

THIS IS THE CONTROVERSIAL ONE FOR ME. I bet y’all thought I was going to pick B. Cranst, didn’t ya? DIDN’T YA? And hey, man, I’m just as surprised as you are. Last October, I though Cranston was locked in for this year. But alas, the McConaissance is upon us. It’s rolling fast downhill, like a wheel. Or a flat circle. Or something.

lead actress drama


  • Lizzy Caplan (Masters of Sex)
  • Claire Danes (Homeland)
  • Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey)
  • Julianna Marguelies (The Good Wife)
  • Kerry Washington (Scandal)
  • Robin Wright (House of Cards)

My Pick: Robin Wright

Who I’d Like to Win: Again, any and all of these ladies are incredibly deserving. What a year for dramatic television it’s been.

But where the hell is Tatiana Maslany?!

outstanding variety


  • The Colbert Report
  • The Daily Show
  • Jimmy Kimmel Live
  • Real Time With Bill Maher
  • Saturday Night Live
  • The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

My Pick: Colbert

Who I’d Like to Win: Colb or Jstew

The circle was broken last year when after a however-many-years-long stretch, The Colbert Report defeated The Daily Show. It was a shock and awe to us all but, c’mon, after that dance montage to Get Lucky, how could Stephen not win? I think that ball’s just gonna keep rolling.

outstnang miniser


  • American Horror STory
  • Bonnie & Clyde
  • Fargo
  • Luther
  • Treme
  • The White Queen

My Pick: Fargo

Who I’d Like to Win: Fargo

Fargo was just so good you guys. Everything else is noise.

oustanding tv movie


  • Killing Kennedy
  • Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight
  • The Normal Heart
  • Sherlock: His Last Vow
  • The Trip To Bountiful

My Pick: The Normal Heart

Who I’d Like to Win: Sherlock, but for S2E1 as opposed to S3E3.

I didn’t watch The Normal Heart. But I know it’s going to win because everyone eats up whatever Ryan Murphy feeds them.

outstanding comedy


  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Louie
  • Modern Family
  • Orange is the New Black
  • Silicon Valley
  • Veep

My Pick: Orange is the New Black

Who I’d Like to Win: OITNB, Louie

Look at this list of nominees. Look at it. How the hell is it that schlock like BBT and Modern fucking Family get nominated alongside Louie? OITNB? Even Veep and Silicon Valley? HOW? HOW?! Furthermore, how were they nominated over other amazing series like Brooklyn Nine-Nine? Girls? Parks & Rec? Seriously? What the heck?!

outstanding drama


  • Breaking Bad
  • Downton Abbey
  • Game of Thrones
  • House of Cards
  • Mad Men
  • True Detective

My Pick: …………………..Breaking Bad

Who I’d Like to Win: BrBa, True Detective

It’s a toss up. True Detective came out of god knows where and blew everyone out of the water in its introductory season. However, in it’s final season, Breaking Bad kept it’s artistic integrity and wowed us all. So I’d be happy if either show won. But let’s give Breaking Bad the farewell it deserves.

Review: James Gunn’s “Guardians of the Galaxy”

Untitled-1When I first heard about one of the newest Marvel enterprises, Guardians of the Galaxy, my first thought was, “well, they’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel, aren’t they?”

Indeed, the film industry has been milking the comic book movie thing for a good long while now. The quality of such movies is a pretty mixed bag–sure you’ve got shining stars, the first Iron Man, The Avengers, Raimi’s Spider-Man 2, The Dark Knight. But there’s more than enough duds as well, and overall, it’s becoming a little tiresome. Though obviously, it’s not going to end any time soon. And so I’ve resigned myself to accept these comic book films as they come, just hoping that some genuinely good pictures will come out.

And no–when shown Guardians of the Galaxy spots and trailers, the only thing positive I could really say about it was, “Well, I really love Chris Pratt.” Other than that–I’d never heard of Guardians in the first place and it really seemed like some sort of cash grabby thing.

Yet as the days got closer and closer to this August 1st release, I felt something bubbling inside me. What could it be? Hype? Impossible. Ever since The Dark Knight Rises partially left me wanting more, my hype for comic book films had pretty much died. Yet this emotion was brewing, inexplicably. Again, I’d never heard of the comic for Guardians of the Galaxy, and the trailers and posters made it look like a rather bizarre choice for a mainstream Marvel film. But I couldn’t quell the insatiable interest that was growing within me. As I watched the catchy, charming trailer… I found myself rethinking my original opinion.

Eventually it all led to yesterday. Sitting in my room in Los Angeles, looking at my almost-empty bank account, and making the executive decision to spend my last few dollars on a movie ticket for Guardians at the cineramadome. And, quite honestly, I will never regret spending those sixteen dollars plus-three-for-parking.

Guardians of the Galaxy was utterly charming, hilarious, and indeed, one of the most (dare I say it) meta superhero flicks I’ve seen. Chock full of winks and nods to the audience about the ridiculousness of the situation, it’s a movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously. And god do I respect it for that, my main issue with Iron Man 3 was that it took itself far too seriously. But Guardians of the Galaxy knows what it is, and that’s just honest to god summer fun. Which, I think, between all the gritty reboots, is something much-needed.

The universe they create is stunning, with cinematographic moments that truly look like you’re flipping through a comic book. I haven’t really seen moments like that outside of Sin City, but Guardians catches the whole comic book feel perfectly. The title sequence alone is a wonder. The performances and chemistry are perfect. The whole gang is swell, Pratt and Saldana and Batista, with voice work from Bradley Cooper and (a very limited) Vin Diesel.

The plot line obviously sort of falls into cliches–the Five Man Band has to get the MacGuffin to Save The Entire Universe but the script regularly hangs the lampshade on this which makes the whole thing all the more enjoyable. Again, it can get meta–which is another recent trend, but one I can get behind wholeheartedly.

So, if you’re looking for your summer popcorn movie, look no further. Guardians is nothing short of never ending fun, and I shamelessly can’t wait for the sequel.

Also it’s really fun to see Chris Pratt doing flips and kicks and bad ass shit in general when you remember he’s this nerd.

And the after-credits scene is most definitely the best one in Marvel history.


Review: Josh Boone’s “The Fault In Our Stars”



About nine months ago my friend Anne told me to read John Green’s book The Fault In Our Stars. I purchased a copy on a whim and while I admit I was a little late to the TFIOS train, I went through the thing in about a week. I remember that unfortunately I was in a rather public area when I finished chapter 20 and started 21 (fellow readers of the novel will understand the weight of such things) and thus was crying pretty terribly in a large room full of my peers. I remember that when I finished the novel I had to call my mom because of how badly the thing had shaken me.

Over dramatic? Perhaps. I have to say that before starting the novel I was somewhat suspicious of its effects on readers. I, indeed, have a tumblr, so I played witness to a lot of preteen and teen girls just raving about it. It made ever-cynical me slightly skeptical of the book, and I thought that it would perhaps just be some adolescent thing packed with “feels.” Not necessarily high literature.

I am glad to say that I was wrong. John Green had crafted one of the most honest stories I’d ever seen. Yes, indeed, aimed at young adults, but written intelligently too. I like John Green because even though he writes for teens, he still at least treats his readers like adults. When I went to one of his Q&A’s, he cited books like David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest as one of his favorites, and though a majority of the people (young teenage girls) around me probably were not familiar with such things, he didn’t feel the need to talk down to the audience. It’s a symbiosis of knowing who you write for and still being able to be yourself, and I respect him a lot for it.

I went into reading TFIOS knowing that they were making a film but just so I was able to craft my own visualizations of the characters in my head. I fell in love with them, I shared a week and a half with them, and then they were gone. And then it was time to wait for the movie.

I think I speak for the majority of TFIOS book lovers when I say I was incredibly nervous for the adaption. The characters are astonishingly complex and I wasn’t sure that was going to translate well to the screen. The trailer alone made me cringe a little bit because I realized that out of context, the pretentious and ridiculous things Augustus Waters would say sounded like they were being played completely straight, which in the context of the novel, are not. The trailer represented something cheesy and trite when TFIOS is anything but. Fans of the book rushed to its aid but to the masses who probably just sat through the trailer at home, it was not represented well.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is, the trailer gets an F. The film itself, I am happy to say, is a different story.

I went into a screening two Thursdays ago aside my friend Daniel, another TFIOS book reader, and was amused to hear that most everyone in the audience had not read the book.

“These people have no idea what they’re getting into,” I confided to Daniel, and he agreed. We were prepared for the onslaught, at least, though even so, I found myself crying just as hard at the film as I did while reading the book.

The entire theater joined me. Rounding to the beginning of the third act, the entire room was filled with sniffles and upon exiting, dampened faces were noted on every single person’s face. For some reason I counted this as a personal victory. Now these people understood the pain I was afflicted with nine months ago.

And the film did the novel, in my eyes, absolute justice. I was off put by Ansel Elgort’s performance as Augustus in the beginning but he eventually charmed me, much like my initial reaction to Gus’ character in the book. Shailene Woodley continues her habit of delivering poignant performances (her character in Alexander Payne’s The Descendants is quite different than Hazel Grace, yet she’s just as convincing) and the supporting cast backs it up even more. The technicalities are indeed far from perfect, with one too many face-framing shots but in the end this is not a movie about the direction, it’s a movie about the characters, and it sold. The perhaps overly-witty (though we wouldn’t have it any other way) dialogue gets an equal amount of laughs as the latter half of the film jerks tears, making for a well-rounded, non-manipulative feature. As opposed to the stereotypical Nicholas Sparks flick where one of the characters gets diagnosed with some tragic disease halfway through to delude the audience into thinking the movie has feelings, The Fault In Our Stars presents an honest depiction of love and sickness. There are some aspects of the book that were annulled for the sake of less screen time but the screenwriters (Scott Neustader and Michael Weber, who penned the equally heartstring-pulling (500) Days of Summer)kept the important bits and crafted a loveable screenplay, and handed it off to a loving director and a genuine cast. Again, Shailene Woodley’s performance alone makes this film worth watching. The chemistry between the two leads is absolutely staggering and again, does the book fantastic justice.

So maybe you don’t get caught up in romance stories or care to see films where you’re made to cry. But I think any person, book-reader or no, cynic or no, would be able to go into this charming, honest story and get something out of it. It’s a story that, on the outside, seems like mush, but in the end, it gets you.

An Open Letter to the Douche Who Told Me to “Shut Up” During the Midnight Premiere of Godzilla


[Spoilers Ahead]

Have you ever been to the Cineramadome, sir? Have you sat in the hallowed halls of movie history and watched a spectacle unveil before your eyes? Were you there during the premiere of Anchorman 2, where the ticket tearers dressed like the legendary Ron Burgundy? Did you see The Wolf of Wall Street on it’s opening day (Christmas) and laugh yourself to tears alongside everyone else in the theater during the Lemmons scene? Have you ever sat in that theater and watched a movie with an audience and had a good time?

More related to this particular subject however: did you watch Godzilla last night? Were we in the same theater? Were you not sitting directly in front of me as we both witnessed the massive, amazing Godzilla visualize humanity’s worst fears of urban terrorism? Did you not watch a school bus full of children narrowly avoid getting destroyed by massive monsters that put Clover (but not the Kaiju–they’re still bigger) to shame? Were you not totally frightened and totally floored by the badass sound editing and fantastic production design that created one of the best atmospheres I’ve ever seen in a giant monster movie? Were you not amused at the fact that there was no real main character to follow and that nobody besides Bryan Cranston had any actual personality? Were you not shocked that Bryan Cranston himself, who was all over the ads for this film and was a main pull for a lot of the audience, dropped dead after only 40 minutes? Was your heart not pounding as you watched that puppy dog run down the street to avoid a massive tsunami? As Kick Ass/John Lennon/The Mustache Dude In Anna Karenina lied down on the train tracks, keeping as silent as possible as a radioactive-material consuming demon crept around him?

Were you too confused at the logistics of the American military when they just decided to nuke the heck out of San Francisco? Did you not laugh at the ridiculous little Godzilla jokes, like the iguana crawling around? Were you not eagerly and impatiently waiting through the first hour of the movie before they finally showed Godzilla himself in all his building-crushing glory? Were you not amused at the fact that there were two other monsters added to the mix? Furthermore, did you not clap along with the rest of the audience as Godzilla shot lightning out of it’s mouth, triggering a “woo” from me before you turned around and so sternly demanded that I “shut up?”

Is Godzilla such a serious film to you that you find that the rest of the theater must enjoy it in total apocalyptic silence, similar to the silence that lead shots of the ravaged San Francisco? Did you consider it a thinker piece? Was Godzilla your 12 Years a Slave? Did we have to examine ourselves as human beings as we watched it? Could we not perhaps say “woo” (along with everyone else in the theater) when our literal hours of waiting for Godzilla to finally kick ass paid off? Did you really find it necessary, when everyone else around you was also celebrating as Godzilla decimated the other monster, to turn around and select only me to say “Shut Up” to? Was it necessary, when there are a million more polite ways to request someone be quieter in a theater, when all of your hipster friends sitting to the right of you were being louder than me, when the entire audience is actually enjoying themselves? Was it appropriate to pick me, when I was quiet during the tense moments, during the moments of exposition, during the moments where it was necessary to be quiet? Was it truly I, sir, that truly deserved you channeling your hateful and loveless attitude towards?

Did you go into it expecting Best Picture Of The Year? Were you confused that I laughed during the ridiculous moments and said “woo” when Godzilla shot lightning out of his mouth? Did you expect everybody to take it seriously? Did we not watch the same movie, wrought with campy references and laugh-out-loud metacisms? Did you honestly expect something deep and meaningful from the remake of freaking Godzilla, one of the most beloved and ridiculous movie monsters of all time? Did you expect anything more or less than a ridiculous crowd-pleaser?

Have you ever been to a midnight premiere at all? Even outside the Cineramadome–have you ever gone to a premiere at your local Harkins or AMC? The Dark Knight? Did you gasp when The Joker took that guy out with a pencil? The Return of the King? Did you clap after Legolas single-handedly took down the oliphant? Do you understand how audiences at midnight premieres for blockbuster films function?

And an even more open rhetorical question: have you ever enjoyed a movie ever? Have you ever felt emotions? Did you cry your eyes out at Marley & Me? Did you fan out when Thor’s hammer hit Captain America’s shield in The Avengers? Did you have an existentialist crisis during The Master? Did you get heart palpitations during the last 30 minutes of Argo?

The way you turned around and very rudely demanded that I “shut up” during Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla which apparently, to you, is the most serious film endeavor of all time, makes me think no, you don’t understand emotions or joy. I truly hope you do, someday, not just for your own sake, but also for your ugly girlfriend’s sake and for your hipster friends’ sake. Otherwise, enjoy dying angry, bitter, and alone.


Review: The Russo Brothers’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”

Marvel films, for me, have always been teetering on the edge of lackluster. Occasionally they’d even dip into regions of being genuinely annoying; the first Captain America was stale, Thor was underwhelming, the first Iron Man was great but the franchise quickly fell apart with its consecutive sequels. There was a beacon of hope with The Avengers, though the main issue with Marvel for me is that their films rarely seem to take themselves seriously. That certainly showed with Avengers, which just barely breached the amount of too many gags. No–I’m not looking for every superhero film to go all Dark Knight (because bad things happen when you try to make non-gritty superheroes gritty), but I’ve always longed for superhero movies to not be too campy. Somewhere there has to be a happy medium between fun action, amusing quips, and solemn plots. Somewhere.Who would have thought that the liberation would come from Captain America. I never was a big fan of Steve Rogers, he was nowhere near close to my favorite superhero. I always found him quite bland, too clean-cut and again, I really did not care for the first Captain America film. However, The Winter Soldier has turned all of that around for me.Maybe it’s an overstatement to say it’s my favorite Marvel film but honestly, when I get to thinking about it, it easily was. The characterization was great, the plot made sense, the plot holes were minimal to none, and the movie actually made me feel. Emotions! Yes, ladies and gentleman, the first summer blockbuster of the year, number one at the box office since it’s release, CGI-fest of caped crusaders ACTUALLY MADE ME FEEL THINGS. Like a real movie! I felt for the characters! I was worried and cared about them! This is Captain Fucking America we’re talking about! What a world!

Yeah there were the issues that every film like this is bound to have–just a little too action heavy and a couple moments in the middle that dragged with a plot hole here and there, but overall it was a fast-paced ride that kept my attention. Somehow it found a genuine symbiosis between that campy superhero-ness and almost Jason Bourne-esque twists and turns. The action was interesting (the car chase was a thrill to watch) and the moments of solace were vulnerable and meaningful. This movie worked. And god, is that a relief. The performances were even good and never did I feel like I got a “phoning it in” vibe–not even from the illustrious Robert Redford (who for half of the movie I didn’t even realize was Robert Redford). Sebastian Stan makes a stellar performance in particular, and I hope he continues on that path with the rest of his 9-film deal with Marvel.

I’d like future superhero films to take some notes from Winter Soldier. The fact that you don’t need to revamp a superhero to make him brooding and dark. The fact that you don’t need to shoehorn in some absolutely pointless love story. The fact that yeah, you can throw in some classic campy superhero silliness (i.e. “I’m going to kill you so I might as well tell you my entire plan” or, actually, just that whole scene in the bunker with the villain’s brain run on computers from the 60’s) but still take the movie seriously enough so that you can create genuine tension and emotional stakes. The fact that even if you market it for children, the movie doesn’t have to just run on gags. Furthermore, Winter Soldier is a great standalone film–you don’t need to bother with the first Cap or the Avengers in order to enjoy it.

It still blows my mind that this sort of character depth came from a Captain America movie, though I embrace it wholeheartedly. I’ve even started reading Captain America comic books–that’s how much this movie got out of me. It’s a great movie, accessible and fun to watch, but still takes itself seriously enough to be a real movie. And in this day and age where we’re used to directors talking down to their audiences and stuffing their blockbusters with mass chaos and shiny explosions, it is an anomoly indeed.

Maddison’s Oscar Breakdown

cool header nerd

Well, it’s that time of year again. The time where, as Jimmy Fallon states, celebrities get all dressed up to get judged by people at home in their sweatpants. And how, Jimmy Fallon. It’s a wonder I’m even leaving my room tonight, but my friend Anne promised to make me Mac and Cheese if I watched the Oscars with her. Yes, the glory of the Academy Awards is finally upon us, and by glory, I mean the insatiable, bitterly-burning disappointment that always precedes and proceeds the handing out of completely meaningless statues. Remember a couple years ago when David Fincher lost his well-deserved Best Director to Tom Hooper, whose groundbreaking use of funny wallpapers and the rule of thirds championed him to victory? Remember just last year when Paul Thomas Anderson’s electrically disturbing masterpiece The Master was not only snubbed in the Best Picture territory, but Best Cinematography, Best Score, and both actor categories for Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix? Yes, what lovely times these all were, and the fact that I’m very passive aggressively writing about them now shows a lot about me. So I promised myself, this year, this year, even if Inside Llewyn Davis, Mud, and A Place Beyond the Pines were all unjustly snubbed, that I’m not going to get upset. Even if the media princess Jennifer Lawrence (who I do adore, but again, bitterness at the Academy) is given another Oscar over the incendiary Lupita Nyong’o, even if Gravity wins every single technical award, I’m not going to get upset.

That being said, I’m still going to write a very strongly-worded post about the Oscars, and break down my personal opinions for each category (except for the short films because I don’t care). But I’m not gonna get mad. Nope.

Nominees: American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, 12 Years A Slave, The Wolf Of Wall Street

My Pick: 12 Years A Slave

What I’d Like To Win: The Wolf of Wall Street, or a write-in win for Inside Llewyn Davis

So there’s been a lot of discussion this year for what’s going to take Best Picture, and a lot of people have been saying American Hustle. Now, and I’m being mild when I say this, if American Hustle does indeed win, I will probably flip a desk. In my personal opinion, American Hustle was the Lincoln of this year. You get a director with a lot of buzz, an incredible production design (i.e. lots of money), a cast on top of their game, and you’re going to get a Good Movie, but in such a by-the-book way that I find it almost offensive the people would think it would win. Gravity also has a lot of talk, and I wouldn’t be so mad if Gravity won, because it’s not nominated for best screenplay, which is good because the dialogue in that movie was pretty much trash. It would be sort of odd if Gravity won because I don’t think it was half as well rounded as some of the others nominated. My pick to win is 12 Years A Slave, which is actually a movie I really loved and enjoyed and would be happy to see win. Again, it’s more well rounded, and for some reason, seems a lot less bait-y than American Hustle. However, seeing as The Wolf of Wall Street is in the running for my favorite film of last year for a number of reasons, I would love to see Marty get one here.

And of course, if a write-in win for Inside Llewyn Davis occurred, I would be pretty stoked. I’m not going to launch into my confused rant about why it wasn’t nominated (there are only nine nominees in this category, when there are usually ten…. leaving one blank spot… where they just decided not to nominate it? I guess?), but the fact that it wasn’t is genuinely offensive to me. The Academy has an opportunity to rectify that–though obviously I doubt it’s actually going to happen.


Nominees: American Hustle, Gravity, Nebraska, 12 Years A Slave, The Wolf of Wall Street

My Pick: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity

What I’d Like To Win: Alfonso, or maybe a write-in for Spike Jonze? No?

One thing that is absolutely inarguable about this year as far as I’m concerned, is that Gravity absolutely killed it as far as technicalities go. The opening shot of that film was one of the most glorious one-takes I’ve ever seen. It was impeccable. Writing and other shenanigans aside, it was beautifully crafted and deserves most of the awards it gets this year. Even though it’s sort of unfair to the other great directors who did impeccable work (Marty kills it every time, 12YAS is probably Steve McQueen’s masterpiece), Alfonso blew it out of the water. There’s really not much more to be said. I’m putting in a little nod to Spike Jonze here though, because Her was probably also one of his most beautifully shot films so I would’ve liked for him to at least have been nominated (Take out David O. Russell for American Hustle? Yes? No?) but I guess it just wasn’t in the cards for him this year.


Nominees: Christian Bale, Bruce Dern, Leonardo Dicaprio, Echiwetel Ejiofor, Matthew McConaughey

My Pick: McConaughey

Who I’d Like To Win: Literally anyone but Christian Bale

This category is a little tough for me and if you’d asked me before the SAG’s and the Globes who was going to win, I would have easily picked Chiwetel. However, after McConaughey got both the awards I mentioned and I actually went to go see Dallas Buyers Club for myself, I was convinced that McConaughey was gonna take it. Can we just talk about for one second how awesome McConaughey became this past year? Seriously–when did he start being an actor who actually did actor-y stuff? Mud, Wolf of Wall Street, Dallas Buyer’s Club, and recently True Detective… the guy’s on fire. I’d like to see him get the Oscar. If his acceptance speech isn’t the chest pumping thing form Wolf of Wall Street though, they should probably take the award away from him.

There were a lot of really excellent performances this  year. Bruce Dern in Nebraska was fantastic. Leonardo, again, kills it–and I am sorry that he’s not going to get it. I’d be extremely happy if he did, but I just don’t see it. Honestly, I’d be happy if anyone won, just not Christian Bale. Because while I really like Christian Bale, when the most you did for a role was get fat… sorry, but no.


Nominees:  Amy Adams, Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, Judi Dench, Meryl Streep

My Pick: Cate Blanchett

Who I’d Like To Win: Cate Blanchett

This category isn’t even a competition. Sorry everyone else. Sorry folks boycotting Woody Allen now. Cate’s got this in the bag. No arguments.


Nominees: Barkhad Abdi, Bradley Cooper, Michael Fassbender, Jonah Hill, Jared Leto

My Pick: Jared Leto

What I’d Like To Win: Jonah Hill

Okay, okay, okay–I know Jonah’s not going to win, all right? But can you imagine how excellent it would be if Jonah Hill won an Oscar for The Wolf of Wall Street? That would be so, so, so, awesome. I might even like the Oscars again if that happened. I might even forgive them for snubbing Raging Bull back in 1980. Anyway, yeah, Jared Leto was amazing in Dallas Buyer’s Club. I know a lot of people are giving him smack because acting faintly LGBTQ on film shouldn’t be Oscar Worthy, but I urge those people to actually go see the movie because they clearly didn’t. Fassbender would also be an excellent winner though, his performance in 12YAS was the most frighteningly beautiful visage of cognitive dissonance on film this year.


Nominees: Sally Hawkins, Jennifer Lawrence, Lupita Nyong’o, Julia Roberts, June Squibb

My Pick: Lupita Nyong’o

Who I’d Like To Win: Lupita Nyong’o

I swear to god. If the Academy gives Jennifer Lawrence the Oscar over Lupita Nyong’o….

Wait, no. I said I’m not going to get upset.


Okay. Not upset.

It’s gonna be fine. They’re gonna give it to Lupita. Right?




Nominees: The Act of Killing, Cutie and the Boxer, Dirty Wars, The Square, 20 Feet From Stardom

My Pick: The Act of Killing

What I’d Like To Win: The Act of Killing

Okay so I might not be the scholar on documentaries this year since I only saw The Act of Killing and Dirty Wars, but honestly, after reading up on the other nominees, I’m pretty convinced that The Act of Killing is going to take it. It was honestly one of the most disturbing films I have ever seen. And I sat through Cannibal Holocaust. It shook me to my absolute core and absolutely deserves recognition for that. It’s not for the faint of heart.


Nominees: The Croods, Despicable Me 2, Ernest & Celestine, Frozen, The Wind Rises

My Pick: Frozen

What I’d Like To Win: Is it too early for The Lego Movie? #LegoMovie2015

Maybe I should care more about the Best Animated Picture category. But I don’t that much. I saw Frozen and watched The Croods while I was babysitting. I’m sure The Wind Rises is beautiful because Hayao always makes beautiful things, but let’s be real. It’s not going to win over the Disney/Pixar darling of the year.


Nominees: The Broken Circle Breakdown, The Great Beauty, The Hunt, The Missing Picture, Omar

My Pick: What do you mean Blue is the Warmest Color wasn’t nominated?

What I’d Like To Win: What?

But it won the Palme D’or? I’m so confused? I don’t know. Roeper says The Great Beauty is going to win so I guess I’ll go with him on this one?


Nominees:  American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyer’s Club, Gravity, 12 Years A Slave

My Pick: Gravity

What I’d Like To Win: I don’t care, Gravity I guess.

The editing in The Wolf of Wall Street was weirdly off par for a Martin Scorsese movie. That’s the only thing that blew my mind when it comes to editing this year. Anyway, yeah, Gravity. Whatever.


Nominees: American Hustle, Gravity, The Great Gatsby (why?), Her, 12 Years A Slave

My Pick: American Hustle.

What I’d Like To Win: Please god, anything but The Great Gatsby. Her, if the gods are good.

This is the only award I’d be okay with American Hustle winning, only because it means it would beat out The Great Gatsby, which is a film that made me so mad on so many different levels. Go David O! You got this! Screw Baz Luhrmann! Woo!


Nominees: The Grandmaster, Gravity, Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska, Prisoners

My Pick: Gravity


Because this is one of the few categories Inside Llewyn Davis is actually nominated for, I would love for it to win. It deserves everything this year. It was so perfect. I don’t know why it got snubbed. Please, someone explain it to me. Somebody, please. PLEASE. IT WAS SO GOOD. IT WAS SO GOOD. 

Along a similar vein, if the Cinematography category is apparently the “here let’s throw the snubbed best picture guy sin here” category this year, then why wasn’t Cianfrance nominated for The Place Beyond The Pines? And even though the movie itself was sort of terrible, Refn’s Only God Forgives was pretty beautiful. And Jeff Nichols’ Mud was gorgeous too.

Also, the cinematography in 12 Years a Slave was absolutely impeccable. Did the Academy just… forget? Or something?

Whatever. Who knows.


Nominees: Gravity, The Hobbit, Iron Man 3, The Lone Ranger, Star Trek: Into Darkness

My Pick: Gravity

What I’d Like To Win: Gravity

I liked how this category just sort of forgot that Pacific Rim existed this summer as well.

The Lone Ranger now gets to put “Oscar Nominee” on the dvd box. Let that sink in.


Nominees: Dallas Buyers Club, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, The Lone Ranger

My Pick: Wha… Dallas Buyers Club, obviously.

What I’d Like To Win: I mean… obviously.

I am so confused.


Nominees: American Hustle, The Grandmaster, The Great Gatsby, The Invisible Woman, 12 Years A Slave

My Pick: The Great Gatsby

What I’d Like To Win: Literally anything but The Great Gatsby

I don’t care if the costumes were pretty, I hated that stupid movie.


Nominees: The Book Thief, Gravity, Her, Philomena, Saving Mr. Banks

My Pick: Stephen Brice, Gravity


My favorite thing about the Best Original Score category is that no matter what movie he’s scoring, John Williams will, without fail, be nominated. He could score the next Transformers film and they’d put him in here. He won’t always win, but he’ll always be nominated. Anyway, Gravity is going to take it, but I would cry out of joy if Owen Pallett & William Butler got their recognition for their Her score because it was absolutely gorgeous. Not just because I’m a crazy Arcade Fire fan and not only because I fangirl over Owen Pallett’s other work, but because it actually is genuinely one of the prettiest scores I’ve heard in a long time. But oh well.


Nominees: Despicable Me 2, Frozen, Her, Mandela

My Pick: Let It Go, Frozen

What I’d Like To Win: Anybody but U2

I am championing for Pharrell to get a start on his EGOT this year. The Moon Song from Her is beautiful as well. Frozen is going to win, because duh, but it’s all all right, because as long as I don’t have to look at Bono’s dumb sunglasses as he gets an Oscar, I’ll be contented.


Nominees: All Is Lost, Captain Phillips, Grabity, The Hobbit, Lone Survivor

My Pick: Gravity

What I’d Like To Win: Gravity

Let’s not pretend any of the films mentioned this year are better than Gravity in terms of sound, when the sound editing in Gravity was pretty much what made the movie. 


Nominees: Captain Phillips, Gravity, The Hobbit, Inside Llewyn Davis, Lone Survivor

My Pick:  Sigh. Gravity.

What I’d Like To Win: ………Inside Llewyn Davis….?

There’s a joke to be made about gravity belts here. Like, one more win for Gravity to put under it’s Belt?



Nominees: Before Midnight, Captain Phillips, Philomena, 12 Years A Slave, The Wolf of Wall Steet

My Pick: 12 Years a Slave

What I’d Like To Win:  The Wolf of Wall Street

Finally, a category that actually has some competition. So I’m pretty sure that 12 Years is going to get it because it was an impeccable script. It was written really theatrically and I loved it for that, the language was just as beautiful as the performances and the cinematography. It was amazing.

That being said, if the Wolf of Wall Street’s record-breaking curse parade of a script won a bloody Oscar for best screenplay… well that would just be great, wouldn’t it?


Nominees: American Hustle, Blue Jasmine, Dallas Buyers Club, Her, Nebraska

My Pick: Her

What I’d Like To Win: Please, please, please, please Her. Just, not American Hustle. Not for best original screenplay. This is my category. David, you can have the rest of the Oscars. You can have best picture if you want, I don’t care. Just please, don’t take this away from me. It’s all I have.

I believe in you, Spike. I believe in you. 

Well that was fun. I don’t know why I’m putting in this last little bit to talk about snubbed films since I pretty much covered it in the breakdown, but whatever. Doin’ it anyway.

So, yeah, Mud was an amazing movie that came out this year. And it came out the same day as The Great Gatsby so I don’t know why Gatsby is getting some nods while Mud is getting left behind. I think that was McConaughey’s performance of the year–real talk–better than Dallas Buyers Club, even. And the cinematography was absolutely beautiful.

A Place Beyond The Pines is sort of a polarizing film, but I think Bradley Cooper’s performance in that far surpassed his in American Hustle. The screenplay was also fantastic, and yet, nothing.

Pacific Rim, I know, is not exactly what comes to mind when you think of an Oscar Worthy Film, but heck. Not even for Visual Effects? The Oscars threw a nod at Michael Bay for visual effects, and they can’t give one to Guillermo? Come on.

There was a lot of controversy in regards to the french film Blue Is The Warmest Color. I think it was something having to do with the timing of it’s release that didn’t allow it to get thrown into the Oscar pool which is why it wasn’t nominated for the respective categories it should’ve been (Best lead/supporting actress, best foreign film, probably best picture even) but I’m going to mention it here anyway just because I can.

I really don’t think I need to mention Inside Llewyn Davis again. What was the Academy thinking. What were they thinking?! Not even just for Best Picture, but Oscar Isaac’s performance was so out of this world I can’t believe he wasn’t recognized for it. I guess he has to change his name to Golden Globe Isaac now.

Have a great Oscar Sunday, everyone.

Review: John Krokidas’s “Kill Your Darlings”

As a noted fan of the beat-era poets, I was phenomenally excited when I first heard word of Kill Your Darlings. Anything about Ginsberg or Kerouac and I will most certainly be there. Furthermore, when I discovered that the ever-infamous Daniel Radcliffe would be playing Allen Ginsberg I was more excited. It was an interesting casting choice. Having seen other adaptions of Ginsberg (notably James Franco in the film Howlit was going to be fascinating to see how Radcliffe would expunge the vision I had in my mind of Ginsy and interpret the eccentric poet himself. Furthermore, upon discovering that the film would be depicting the enigmatic Pre-Howl Ginsberg, my excitement grew and grew.

Radcliffe delivered with force, representing an awkward, teenaged Allen who was yet to come into himself, and his performance, along with the fascinating script was captivating.

Indeed, the script itself was a marvel, and it was easy to tell that a lot of passion went into this project. Everyone involved was enthralled in the work they were doing and it shows, from the shots to the performances to the way the characters were written. It was enjoyable to watch with an intriguing as well: I had no previous knowledge of the events depicted in the films (surprisingly enough) and thus was fascinated by the retelling. The coming of age themes paired with the electirc poetry of the script and the murderous plot melded together in an edgy yet incredibly sincere form.

Perhaps the true star of the film, however, was not Radcliffe’s Ginsberg, but rather, the entirely romantic and feverishly disturbed Lucien Carr, played by up-and-comer Dane DeHaan. I was already swept with Dane from witnessing his prior feats: his tragic depictions of the ADHD-ridden Jesse in HBO’s acclaimed series In Treatment, Andrew in the edgy, superhero-sleeper Chronicle, or more recently Jason in notoriously-gritty Derek Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond The Pines. DeHaan seems the type to fall into typecast territory of angsty adolescent, and while Lucien doesn’t do much to quell that, the role is flipped on its head by the fact that Carr is incredibly skilled at getting people to fall at his feet. And DeHaan does so without fail, bearing an intense portrayal of the poet-turned-killer that draws a love-hate response from the audience. His performance was, in a word, incendiary.

The supporting cast were magnificent as well, including Michael C. Hall as the predatory-yet-mournful David Kammerer, Ben Foster as the ever-odd Burroughs and Jack Huston as our lovely Kerouac, and again, it was easy to tell that everybody involved in the project was fully committed to what they did. With such a small budget and a brief shooting schedule (the entire film was shot over just 24 days), I figure it was hard not to be.

Despite the film’s quandaries in that it seems to break structure here and there, Kill Your Darlings was a persuasive tale. To any lover of the beat generation, it provides fascinating insight to the writers so loved and to those less familiar, is a gripping and mysterious introduction. The loving script and the dedicated performances make it shine.

Guest Review: Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Drive”

[By Ott Lindstrom]

Drive is…


Drive is a 2011 arthouse crime movie, directed by Nicholas Winding Refn. It stars Ryan Gosling, Ryan Gosling’s sweet-ass scorpion jacket, Carey Mulligan, Albert Brooks, Bryan Cranston, Ron Perlman and a whole lot of fake gore. The story revolves around the unnamed Ryan Gosling character, a stunt driver by day/getaway driver by night who befriends and ultimately falls in love with his neighbor Irene, whose husband is in prison. One thing leads to another and the unnamed driver ends up on the run from a bunch of pissed-off gangsters with a million dirty dollars in his possession. Refn won the Best Director award at the Cannes festival and the film was nominated for a number of B-tier honors, while being notably snubbed at the Oscars. Drive grossed over 77 million dollars at the worldwide box office on a 13 million budget, for a modest profit of $64 million. Drive clocks in at 100 minutes and is availablah blah blah blah.

It’s a movie, capiche? It was shot on a movie camera and it was shown in theaters. You can watch it on Netflix, torrent it off Pirate Bay and buy it on DVD and BluRay on Amazon if you feel so inclined.

But to simply characterize Drive as a film would be unfair, if not downright doing it a disservice; Drive is just as much an art installment as a movie, a medium-transcending feast of color and sound. The variety is simply flabbergasting: from the harrowing opening scene dripping with shadow and tension to the sundrenched ethereality of a joyride down the Los Angeles spillway, Refn jumps between a cadre of moods and styles with the dexterity of a circus juggler. Every frame is executed with more aesthetic care and craftsmanship than most films can muster in their entire runtimes. The music is equally superb, an eclectic mix of deep, grimy synths and eerie vocals. Somewhat unfortunately, the musical highlight of the film comes rather early on, where the contrast of the Driver’s ascetic apartment and a neighbor’s party is accompanied by a poppy dance number, which worms its way in and out of being diegetic as the camera hops between the two rooms. It’s a fun trick, one that is sadly never topped.

However, Drive’s art gallery veneer and acoustic expertise belies that, at its core, Driveis also a video game. Certainly, it’s the most scripted and the least interactive one since Heavy Rain, but apart from the lack of quick time events and obnoxious ads for DLC and microtransactions, Drive is a perfect embodiment of everything that’s wrong with the current gaming paradigm. It is an adolescent power fantasy spiced up with visual flourish and excellent packaging, brimming with brutality for the sake of brutality (and, in one notable scene, breasts for the sake of breasts). It tells a rote crime story, its simple twists telegraphed miles away, populated by two-dimensional mannequins, vacuous husks with the masks of pretty actors grafted across the voids within. Nowhere is this inherent emptiness more apparent than when the lazy camera focuses on the Driver himself. A monosyllabic murder machine, the Driver’s binary smirk-to-straight range of facial expressions makes the internet’s memetic stereotype of Kristen Stewart look downright expressive. It’s telling of how limited Gosling’s portrayal is that the movie would have lost very little if the rubber mask the Driver dons as part of his stunt driver ensemble in the first ten minutes had remained in place for the remaining hour and a half. But it’s not just Gosling; with the exception of Albert Brook’s viciously energetic Bernie, the other characters are little better; Bryan Cranston is crotchety, gruff and not much else, Ron Perlman stands around and says “fuck” a lot, and Carey Mulligan spends a good 70% of her screen time staring silently, tearfully into the middle distance.

But here’s the weird thing: this universal shallowness works. When all the simplistic elements are working together, when the soundtrack is pounding a decadent beat and the lights and the shadows are tearing into each other like rabid beasts, Drive is a visual symphony, a dreamy exercise in art house experimentation acted out by soulless, blood spattered automatons. Logically, the whole thing should fall apart, but it doesn’t. It should collapse under its own pretension and weirdness, but it doesn’t…it’s just all the stronger for it.

Drive is truly something to behold.

*/5 “Defies a numeric summary”

Available on Netflix Instant Streaming