Tag Archives: Academy Award

Oscar Nominations are here!

Oscar Nominations are here!

written by Souranath Banerjee

The 89th annual Academy Award nominations, the Oscar nominations, the entries for the biggest entertainment award ceremony of the world is just been announced!

And this year we have La La Land leading the pack with 14 nominations, a tie with Titanic (1997) and All About Eve (1950) for moonlight-postermost nominations for a single film.

Then again we have some brilliant films like the sci-fi drama Arrival and the coming-of-age story Moonlight with eight nominations.

And then, a unique historical war-film Hacksaw Ridge, a superb drama ‘based on a true story’ Lion, and the sad yet poetic Manchester by the Sea, each entitled for six nominations!

In total 24 categories, and the final award ceremony itself will be on Sunday, February 26.

For now, let the Oscar race begin!

You can watch the announcement on the Oscars’ official YouTube channel, which is also embedded above.

Poster courtesy: www.imdb.comwww.impawards.com.

Best of Classic Short films (10+1list)

Best of Classic Short films

written by Souranath Banerjee

According to many acclaimed filmmakers short films are not merely the base of learning the grammars of filmmaking, but also a craft in itself!

It’s a challenge even for the most reputed directors to get the desired impact from a short film within the brief specified time limit; it has to be compact yet meaningful, gripping and yet soulful.

And these list of classic shorts are probably the most innovative and provoking films ever made in the history of short films.

Take a look.

10. The Red Balloon (1956)

The only coloured short in this list, and also the only short film to win an Academy Award (for Best Screenplay) outside of the short film categories!

Directed by Albert Lamorisse, this magical short is about a little boy (Pascal Lamorisse, son of director Albert Lamorisse) and his unusual pet – a bright red-balloon!

The ballon of course has been interpreted in many symbolic ways but the sheer beauty of a red balloon floating around the beautiful streets of Paris is enough reason to watch this 34 min classic. 

9. One Week (1920)

A newly married couple (Buster Keaton and Sybil Seely) plans to built their own high-tech home but then someone must have played around with the how-to-built instructions. Hmmm ….

The house gets made but of course don’t expect any regular house for this couple.

Directed by Edward F. Cline and  Buster Keaton, this is a power pack 25 min dose of pure laughter and historic gags/stunts that surely will entertain us much more than just ‘one week’!

8. Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (1962) 

Directed by Robert Enrico, this one is a period short film with the backdrop of Civil war, situated (as the name suggests) at the Owl Creek Bridge where a man is going to be hanged for mutiny.

Just as the execution was about to take place the rope breaks and the man escapes for his life, a desperate attempt to get reunited with his beloved wife. Will he be able to make it?  

This 28 min short without a single dialogue says a lot more than you can ever imagine!

7. Easy Street (1917) 

Directed and acted by Charles Chaplin, this one is an epic short film, probably one of Chaplin’s earliest short that did predict his potential to become one of the most successful man ever in the history of Film making! 

A tramp becomes a police officer and now he must fight it out with the biggest bully on the street! 

Along with Edna Purviance and Eric Campbell this 24min slap-stick comedy is as hilarious as it can get. 

6. Entr’acte (1924)

Intriguing is the word that directly comes to our mind as soon as we start watching this bizarre 22 min short film.

The innovative juxtaposition of images, the transitions, the brilliant camera angles (much ahead of it’s time) and overlaps, the element of speed incorporated along with the eccentric soundtrack in the background – directed by René Clair the film though difficult to interpret is still an enigma, a masterpiece, a rule-breaker.

One of the best classic surrealist short film ever made!

5. The Smiling Madame Beudet (1923)

An intelligent woman trapped in a loveless marriage, an irritating husband and then we have a revolver that may not be empty anymore!

Directed by Germaine Dulac, this silent 26 min short is regarded as one of the first feminist movies ever made!

4. La Jetée (1962)

Paris in the aftermath of WWII, a montage of pictures that takes us through the unknown passages of time, memories that combines the past, the present and somehow the future as well.

Directed by Chris Marker, this film is an absolute beauty, and probably the best example of how still images along with a voiceover can tell a powerful story on it’s own.

A true classic!

(I couldn’t find the whole film in youtube. This is just the starting bit of the 28 min film)

3. A Trip to the Moon (1902)

One of the earliest known science fiction and also the first animated film ever attempted!

Taking Jules Verne‘s novel, “From the Earth to the Moon” as the source material, director by Georges Méliès made this unique short featuring a group of astronomers going on an expedition to the Moon!
This 13 min stylised classic will always be on every must watch short film list. 

Another short from the same directot Georges Méliès that is worth your time – The Voyage Across the Impossible (1904).

2. Un Chien Andalou (1929)

Talking about surreality; eccentric, bizarre and often grotesque imagery – well, you have come to the right place.

A unique collaboration between Luis Buñuel (director) and Salvador Dalí (writer) which resulted to this short 16min classic that tops the list when it comes to the most disturbing shots ever compiled together to provoke the audience.

Another brilliant short that is a must watch from the same director Simon of the Desert (1965).

  1. Meshes of the Afternoon (1943)

Directed by Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid, this film is one of the most stylish classic short that portrays the possible dreams of a woman, a surreal look into her thoughts, her desires, her subconscious mind.  

Repetitive images, playing with shadows, jump cuts, experimental camera tricks and the eerie soundtrack – 14min of all these give enough scope for multiple interpretations, symbolisms and certain cryptic significances throughout the film.

Two other classic short films also from Director Maya Deren that are totally worth your time At Land (1944) and Ritual in Transfigured Time (1946).

and (The ‘+1′ film is not necessarily the best but certainly the most innovative one. A must watch)

+1. The Arrival of a Train (1896) 

Although considered to be among the first motion pictures in modern history but actually it was the first major public display of the ‘invention’ of film.

Directed by Auguste Lumière and Louis Lumière (the Lumière Brothers), this 1 min historic film when exhibited for the first time at a Parisian café (Grand Café) on 28th December 1895, it is said that the first-night audience literally ran out of the café in fear of being run over by the “approaching” train!

Such is the power of Cinema!

Poster courtesy: www.imdb.com

Trumbo (2015)

Trumbo review

written by Souranath Banerjee

A rare biography that is bold enough to name the right names. 

My Ratings: 4.1/5.

Occasionally, some justice can be served by simply letting everyone know of the past injustice.

Trumbo, is not only an entertaining film by itself, but also a brilliant portrayal of the historic event of ‘Hollywood blacklist’; the shameful McCarthy era of government injustice, documented and represented with great passion and precision.

Based on the life of two-times Academy Award Winner, American screenwriter and novelist Dalton Trumbo, the film takes us to the mid1940s America, when cold-war was at its peak and communism was a direct threat.

It was the time when employment was denied to many talented American entertainment professionals because of their political beliefs; just because they were suspected Communist sympathizers or members of the Communist Party.

And thus, the Hollywood Ten‘, a group of ten most acclaimed writers and directors of Hollywood (including Dalton Trumbo) were cited for contempt of Congress, and were not only declined from their jobs and respectable positions but also sentenced to prison without committing a single crime.

With Hedda Hopper (one of America’s most famous gossip trumbo-poster2columnist) and John Wayne (one of America’s most celebrated actor) in the forefront, the Motion Picture Association of America mistrusted and mistreated some of the most talented writers of the time.

A terrible injustice that cannot be undone.

But Dalton Trumbo was a man not to be silenced. As one of the poster of the film proudly say “When they tried to silence him, he made the world listen”. A devoted family man and an exceptional writer, though blacklisted he kept on writing remarkable screenplays one after another, without using his own name!

The film manages to capture both Trumbo’s genius and his never-give-up attitude perfectly.

Great direction by Jay Roach (was a fan of his comedy films as well), but the film’s real strength is Bryan Cranston (yes, the guy trumbo-poster3from Breaking Bad) who has given a superlative performance.

And then of course there are the likes of Helen MirrenDiane LaneMichael Stuhlbarg and David Maldonado to steer the film to the success it deserves.

Trumbo is a film that is unapologetically true to its content and tells a story that desperately needs to be told.

Though 2 hours screen-time seems a tad lengthy for the film but yet, a must watch biography for all you film lovers.

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.com.

Best Concentration Camp films during the Holocaust (10+1list)

Best Concentration Camp films during the Holocaust.

written by Souranath Banerjee

For anybody who is not familiar with the word ‘holocaust‘ (though i doubt that), it is a term used to define the genocide in which approximately six million Jews (including one million Jewish children) were killed by Adolf Hitler through his Nazi regime.   

There were another five million non-Jewish victims of Nazi mass murders as well.

And thus, in between1941 to 1945, while Hitler was fighting the WorldWar II in the forefront, approximately eleven million people were executed in a preplanned and secretive manner throughout Nazi-Germany and the other German-occupied territories.

Unlike many films that tell the tales of those who defied against the brutal German command, the films listed below are based on the inhumane concentration camp stories where the Jews were locked up for an indefinite time period, forced to barbaric physical labour in exchange of minimum food, before they were finally terminated (either gassed or shot or tortured to death).

Only a few lucky Jews did survive to tell the horrifying tales, their memories of misery and agony, their permanent nightmares.

Many of these films are based on true stories and facts, and are definitely the Best Concentration Camp films during the Holocaust.

Please have a look.

10. Escape from Sobibor (1987)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZkueQG7dnDk

escape from-sobibor-posterSobibor was one of the major death camps set in the eastern Poland and needless to say, a place that saw some of the most terrifying accounts of atrocities during the Nazi rule.

Directed by Jack Gold, this film takes us into factual account of the superbly graphic and realistic tale of how the Jews revolted against their captors, a mass escape that was planned.

Superb performance by Alan ArkinRutger HauerJoanna Pacula among many others. 

9. The Counterfeiters (2007) aka ‘Die Fälscher’

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4LTu_ou9Rc

counterfeiters-postersThis one tells the true story of Salomon “Sally” Sorowitsch, the master counterfeiter who was involved in the largest counterfeiting operation in history, Operation Bernhard.

A thrilling film directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky, about the master plan of the Third Reich to flood the rival country’s economy with fake currency, a game to sabotage the allies’s economic.

8. Sophie’s Choice (1982)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=STPJVf6wqCk

Sophie's-Choice-poster

The perils of the memories from the concentration camps could be too much to lead a normal life.

Directed by Alan J. Pakula, the film through several flashbacks confronts the brutalities of the Holocaust while telling a very passionate story of three individuals. 

Meryl Streep won her first Oscar as Best Actress in a Leading Role and brilliant performances by Kevin Kline and Peter MacNicol. Drama at it’s best.

7. Seven Beauties (1975) aka ‘Pasqualino Settebellezze’

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nxyPnyEeBUg

Seven-Beauties-poster

A lesser known masterpiece, a film that is so full of energy and thrill, a roller-coaster ride of extreme events, an unique story of a holocaust survivor, and all that with a bit of humor added to it.

Also nominated for the Academy Award (Best Foreign Language Film).

Directed by Lina Wertmüller, and a once in a lifetime performance by Giancarlo Giannini. 

6. Fateless (2005)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F61yBTHB9nA

fateless-posterA 14 year old Hungarian youth, captured and sent to the concentration camps where he witnesses suffering and cruelty, experiences hatred and disgust, sees innumerable illness and deaths, and finally understands the meaning of being a Jew.

Directed by Lajos Koltai and written by Nobel-prize winner Imre Kertész, this one is one of the most realistic depiction of the Nazi concentration camps. 

5. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2008)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ypMp0s5Hiw

boy-in-the-striped-pajamas-posterDirected by Mark Herman, this is a story told from the perspective of an eight-year-old boy, the son of the Nazi commandant at a concentration camp.

The young child befriends a Jew kid on the other side of the camp fence but their innocent friendship turns into a disastrous ending. 

A story told to it’s full emotional and sentimental potential.

4. Life Is Beautiful (1997)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16RZHqCIy9M

life-is-beautiful-poster1Directed and masterfully performed by Roberto Benigni, this is probably the only movie made on Holocaust that takes a humorous route and also becomes a huge commercial success.

Also won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film (Italy).

A father desperate to protect his son when captured and taken to a concentration camp, uses his wit and imagination to entertain and motivate his son till the very end of the brutal war.

3. Playing for Time (1980)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2Q00–HTJY

Playing-for-Time-posterJewish French musician and cabaret singer Fania Fenelon Goldstein, joins a group of performers who are spared their lives so that they can entertain the Nazis by performing music for them.

Directed by Daniel Mann, a stunning and dramatic film and a brilliant performance by Vanessa Redgrave.

An underrated TV movie that deserves global acclaim.

2. Europa Europa (1990) aka ‘Hitlerjunge Salomon’

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JqMBNCo7LPE

europa-europa-posterBased upon a true story of Solomon Perel (taken from his book), the film tells the historic story of this Jewish boy who, in order to save his life poses as a German!

Marco Hofschneider plays the part with great conviction along with Julie Delpy.  

Directed by Agnieszka Holland, this is one thrilling story of survival, an attempt to dangerous yet innovative.

  1. Kapò (1960)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOPQx3NmApw

Kapò-posterNominated for the Academy Award (Best Foreign Language Film), this Italian black and white film tells the fantastic story of a Jewish teenage girl whose survival instincts keep her alive when she arrives at a brutal concentration camp at a young age of 14.

And ultimately she evolved into a  “kapo” – a prisoner who watched over the other fellow prisoners.

Directed by Gillo Pontecorvo, and such a brilliant performance by Susan Strasberg, this gem of a film deserves much more fame and popularity than it currently gets. 

and (The ‘+1′ film is not necessarily the best but certainly the most innovative one. A must watch).

+1. Conspiracy (2001) 

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWLvq0jC-c0

Conspiracy-posterDirected by Frank Pierson, this one is a chilling reenactment of the 1942 infamous Wannsee Conference where the Nazi and SS leaders gathered to finalize the Holocaust!

Lead by SS-General Reinhard Heydrich, they calmly discussed the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question” and thus the perfect plan of world’s largest genocide was hatched and ready to put in action.

The film The Final Solution: The Wannsee Conference (1984) also deals with the same subject and is also worth watching.

A few spine-chilling documentaries on Holocaust that depict the real trauma of the time without much dramatization – Shoah (1985), Night and Fog (1955), Triumph of the Will (1935), Siege (1940), Numbered (2012) and The Sorrow and the Pity (1969).

Similar Interest: Best Jew-Nazi dramas during the Holocaust (10+1list).

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.comfilmow.comen.wikipedia.orgwww.imdb.com.

The Wrestler Vs The WWE Wrestlemania

The Wrestler Vs The WWE Wrestlemania

written by Souranath Banerjee

In early 2008 an American sports drama called The wrestler was released starring Mickey RourkeMarisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood in the leads.

Directed by talented Darren Aronofsky, the film was about an aging professional wrestler of fading glory, who finds it tough to deal with his life outside the wresting ring.

The film trailer for a quick recap.

Now, though The wrestler received universal critical acclaim and won many prestigious awards including the Golden Lion in the 2008 Venice Film Festival, but still there was always that debate on how authentically did the film portray the inner labyrinth of the complex realms of the Professional Wrestling?

Or more importantly, did Mickey Rourke did justice to his role playing the fictitious wrestling star Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson?

Bret-The Hitman-HartWell, according to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Hall of Famer, multi-time world champion Bret “The Hitman” Hart ‘Although the film speaks superbly to the speed bumps all pro wrestlers navigate, I’m happy to report most of us don’t swerve off the road quite so severely’.

And then on the famous TV show Larry King Live, professional wrestler Chris Jericho openly challenged Rourke to fight him in a  wrestling match and also accused him of being a movie star trying too hard to imitate some real time wrestler. 

This was ofcourse all a part of a storyline since Jericho was a top heel at that time.

Finally, Rourke was invited to the 2009 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony where Jericho defeated prominent wrestlers like Ricky SteamboatRoddy Piper, and Jimmy Snuka in a handicap match.

After his victory, Jericho went on humiliating Ric Flair (who did support Rourke from the start) and openly provoked Rourke for a fight in front of the crowd.

And this time Rourke accepted the challenge and the rest is history.

By the way, this was all a part of WWE helping to promote The Wrestler and it worked really well for the film. 

Mickey Rourke undoubtedly was awesome as an actor showcasing the struggles of a one-time-famous wrestler and he received a BAFTA award, a Golden Globe award, an Independent Spirit Award and an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor as recognition.

According to director Aronofsky – WWE chairman Vince McMahon saw the film and he called both me and Mickey (Rourke) and he was really, really touched by it.’

Rowdy-Roddy-PiperAronofsky also mentioned that “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, the late Hall of Famer became emotional after watching the film – ‘He loved it. He broke down and cried in Mickey’s arms, so he was psyched that this story was finally told.’

Even the Hardcore Legend and former WWF champion Mick Foley praised Rourke’s performance – ‘Within five [minutes], I had completely forgotten I was looking at Mickey Rourke. That guy on the screen simply was Randy ‘the Ram’ Robinson.’

More comments from professional wrestlers regarding the film on Fox Searchlight Pictures’s ‘Wrestler Round Table’

So passionate was Mickey Rourke about his role in the film that he actually ‘blade’ himself, he did cut his own forehead with a razor blade as many wrestlers often do during a fight to entertain the audience!

Hulk-HoganIt was revealed that the character Randy “The Ram” Robinson shares characteristics of the two biggest wrestling icons of the 1980s: Hulk Hogan and Randy ‘Macho Man’ Savage (Randy Savage)!

And lastly one of the most chilled out and informal interview of Mickey Rourke with Darren Aronofsky – this is as frank and honest as the movie stars can get behind of the camera! 

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.comwww.freecodesource.com, www.rowdyroddypiper.comwww.dailystar.co.uk/http://hulkhogan.com/

Best of Martin Scorsese

Best of Martin Scorsese.

written by Souranath Banerjee.

Superlative adjectives like ‘most significant’, ‘most influential’, ‘the best director of our times’, ‘the greatest storyteller’, all begin to make sense when used in context of the one and only – Martin Scorsese.

The man with thick black, bushy eyebrows who has managed to won every prestigious awards that exists in this world (Academy Award, a Palme d’OrCannes Film Festival Best Director AwardSilver LionGrammy AwardEmmysGolden GlobesBAFTAsDGA Awards and even the AFI Life Achievement Award).

Directed almost 60 films till date, Scorsese is also renowned as a producer, screenwriter, actor, and film historian.

His innovative styles of filmmaking are taught in every film-school all over the world; one of the very few directors whose films are both commercially and critically acclaimed.

Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprioHarvey Keitel are some of the actors with whom Martin Scorsese has worked the most and together they created some legendary cinema.

But for now i have listed some of his best feature films (no shorts or documentaries in this list).

Let the fun begin.

1. The Departed (2006)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auYbpnEwBBg

departed-poster

A remake of Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs (2002), an ultimate game of deceit between an cop and a mole in the police department. 

Along with Leonardo DiCaprio we have Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson, what a combination of actors and such brilliant performances!

Four Oscar wins including best director award for Scorsese.

2. Casino (1995)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJXDMwGWhoA

casino-poster

Robert De NiroSharon Stone (got an Academy Award nomination for her role) and of course Joe Pesci – and a hard hitting story of power and greed.

One of the most violent films that Scorsese ever made and it’s also the eighth and final collaboration with Robert De Niro

Best Casino drama ever!

3. Gangs of New York (2002)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5YmI2PW9R8

gnags-of-newyork-poster

Nominated in ten categories in the Oscars, an extraordinary period film that has it’s own cult following.

Leonardo DiCaprioCameron Diaz and  Daniel Day-Lewis (as Bill ‘The Butcher’) at their very best.

A revenge drama; a boy who returns to kill his father’s murderer.

And also with this film starts the actor/director bonding between DiCaprio and Scorsese.

4. Mean Streets (1973)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCwjzn0CncA

mean-streets-poster

One of Scorsese’s earliest classics and in this one Scorsese works with Robert De Niro for the first time.

Harvey Keitel along with David Proval gives terrific performances. 

A gang of friends, small time hoods who hustle and try to make a living in the mean streets of New York.

Extensive use of hand-held camera and also camera-strapped-to-the-body technique for drunken effect.

5. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idAVRvQeYAE

The-Wolf-of-Wall-Street-PosterFive Oscar nominations and the most entertaining film of recent times!

Leonardo DiCaprio along with Jonah Hill and Matthew McConaughey gives out their best.

Based on a wealthy stockbroker Jordan Belfort’s exciting life, the film is a roller-coaster ride of unlimited money, crime, drugs, sex, corruption and sheer madness.  

6. Goodfellas (1990)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qo5jJpHtI1Y

GoodFellas-film-poster

Six Academy Award nominations and Joe Pesci winning the Oscar in the ‘best actor in a supporting role’ category. 

Outstanding performance by Robert De Niro and for Ray Liotta – his best role ever. 

Based on the life of Henry Hill, this film is regarded as one of the greatest gangster drama. Extreme use of curse words and violence but highly entertaining as well.

7. The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJKxg4p-Alk

last-temptation-of-christ-poster

Controversial yet brilliant, this one is Scorsese’s most courageous project till date.

Willem Dafoe superbly portrays the pain and joy of Christ. Harvey Keitel and Barbara Hershey at their best. 

Based on Nikos Kazantzakis‘s novel, the story of Christ and his last and final temptation on the cross. 

8. The King of Comedy (1982)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wVhCCo02P4

king-of-comedy-poster

An ambitious comedian who disrupts  famous celebrity Jerry Lewis‘s private life.

This film is very different from Scorsese’s general trend; a perfect black comedy with subtle dialogues and awesome acting.

According to Scorsese himself this was Robert De Niro‘s best performance under his direction.

9. The Aviator (2004)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FebPJlmgldE

aviator-poster

A take on the life of eccentric genius film director Howard Hughes who is also ‘the aviator’!

Leonardo DiCaprioCate Blanchett (won the Oscar as the best supporting actress) and Kate Beckinsale have given their best. Acting debut of singer Gwen Stefani as well.

A biopic that had total eleven Oscar nominations and five wins!

10. Raging Bull (1980)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YiVOwxsa4OM

raging-bull-poster

Robert De Niro plays the famous boxer Jake LaMotta (for which he won the best actor Oscar) and Joe Pesci (his brother) and Cathy Moriarty (his wife).

Best boxing movie ever made which had eight Oscar nominations and two wins.

De Niro gained a record 60 pounds to look the part. A violent life both in and out of the ring portrayed to perfection.

and (The ‘+1′ film is not necessarily the best but certainly the most unique and crazy one. A must watch).

+1. Taxi Driver (1976)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cujiHDeqnHY

taxidriver-posterA mentally unstable Vietnam war veteran, a nighttime taxi driver in New York, an obsessed man with a mission, a violent man with good intentions. 

Robert De Niro nominated for the Academy Awards, undoubtedly best performance of his lifetime. Jodie Foster and Harvey Keitel at their best.

The director won the prestigious Palme d’Or award for this film.