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Monday, 17 November 2014

Awards Race: What Oscars 2014 Should Have Looked Like?

An Oscar 2014 Re-Do

First of all, I've been feeling lazy a lot so this was the easiest Idea to get a post done for this month. 

After the conclusion of the 86th Academy Awards and my own first Official Underdog Awards, I forgot to make this post. A post highlighting what I felt should have been the lineup for the Academy Awards. 

It's a good thing too, cause I've made some changes to my idea of winners (even for the Underdog Awards 2014) since the last time.

As I said this is a lazy post, so all I'm going to do is put a table for you highlighting my winners and nominees. Winners are in bold italics. 

Also there will be some notes for certain winners and changes from the Underdog Awards of 2014. 


Best Picture

The Wolf of Wall Street
12 Years A Slave
Before Midnight
Inside Llewyn Davis
Short Term 12

Best Director
Best Cinematography
Spike Jonze-Her
Alfonso Cuaron-Gravity
Dennis Villeneuve-Prisoners
Spring Breakers
Steve McQueen-12 Years A Slave
Park Chan Wook-Stoker

Best Lead Actor (Male)
Best Lead Actor (Female)
Chiwetel Ejiofor-12 Years A Slave
Cate Blanchett-Blue Jasmine
Matthew McConaughey-Dallas Buyers Club
Julie Delpy-Before Midnight
Hugh Jackman-Prisoners
Brie Larson-Short Term 12
Oscar Issac-Inside Llewyn Davis
Rooney Mara-Side Effects
Joquain Phoenix-Her
Greta Gerwig-Frances Ha

Best Supporting Actor (Male)
Best Supporting Actor (Female)
Michael Fassbender-12 Years A Slave
Lupita Nyongo-12 Years A Slave
Jared Leto-Dallas Buyers Club
Sally Hawkins-Blue Jasmine
Jake Gylenhall-Prisoners
Scarlett Johansson-Her
James Franco-Spring Breakers
June Squibb-Nebraska
Matthew McConaughey-Mud
Gabby Hoffman-Crystal Fairy

Best Original Screenplay
Best Adapted Screenplay
Jeff Nichols-Mud
Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke-Before Midnight
Spike Jonze-Her
John Ridley-12 Years A Slave
Aaron Guzikowki-Prisoners
Terrence Winter-The Wolf of Wall Street
Destin Daniel Cretton-Short Term 12
Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope-Philomena
Joel and Ethan Coen-Inside Llewyn Davis
Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber-The Spectacular Now

-Let's start from the top;

-12 Years A Slave, I still consider the best film of last year. 

-I think Cuaron gets a bit too much credit for Gravity, I still feel Steve's uncompromising look at slavery was an amazing feat to accomplish. Spike Jonze's world building is something else that deserved to be nominated. Wook (Underdog 2014 Winner) and Villeneuve's visions also enthralled me more than the works of Scorsese (Wolf) and Russell (Hustle). 

-Gravity still deserves a big technical win

-Unlike Scarlett, Phoenix was not on my Underdog nomination list due to his Globe nom. He wholly deserves to be last years best actor despite Chiwetel giving my favorite lead performance. For the McConaissance there's two deserving performances, but no wins. His best on celluloid in this phase has been in Killer Joe, overall best being True Detective. 

-I think I might have been blinded by my love for Delpy's Celine, but on rewatch I was so touched by Larson's performance in Short Term 12; it was hard not to award her. 

-Rooney Mara is a late entry with Side Effects. Her performance came early last year and I missed watching the movie while nominate the Underdog Awards, she is definitely amazing in the film and deserving of an Oscar nomination. 

-Lupita was the master of last year, period. 

-Oscars hit it right in the head with the screenplay awards. 

'Nuff Said,

Aneesh Raikundalia

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Marvel MARVEL MARVEL!!! You Sweet Sweet Company :D

Marvel Studios

...Blew Everything Out of The Water

This week Marvel Studios dropped a bomb on the world. Even before I could get to providing my own breakdown of events on Age of Ultron-after that amazing trailer released-, they provide us with news on coming attractions for the third phase of their epic cinematic universe.

Marvel has taken the world by storm since 2008 and they will continue to do so for a long time, even though the Comic Book Movie bubble might burst.

So I've decided, when I fell like getting of my ass I will decode each of these announced movies and what they'll mean for the MCU going forward. Of course, this is beginning with The Avengers: Age of Ultron.

That is if I get of my lazy ass. Till then enjoy these title cards from the next set of MCU movies including the new phase. (They will be linked later with the breakdown posts, once again if I make them) 

The Sequel to The third highest grossing film of all time; The Avengers

Ant-Man has been announced as the film capping off Phase 2, rather than starting Phase 3. This means there's going to be a lot of repercussions from the second Avengers to be dealt with

Iron Man vs. Captain America. This one's going to be a big one and a Cap movie will once again bring change to the MCU. 


The first new hero for Phase 3 and one that blows the door wide open for the mystic in Marvel. Biggest Question; Will Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch sign on as the titular character? 

With a changed date, the newest anti-heroes on the block return. Are the Guardians set to take Thanos or will Peter find his father. 

As Norse mythology points it out; Ragnarok is the end of times. Thor and Loki's last stand has come, will we see Hemsworth and Hiddleston ever again in the MCU?


The first minority character for Marvel in a solo film, appearing years before DC's own Cyborg. Let's hope Marvel does justice to the King Batman of Marvel. With the charismatic Chadwick Boseman set to play the role, there's no worries. 


Marvel's first female solo film, and one that heads off in space. Whose going to play the character is the first big question?


The X-Men of the Marvel universe. Hints of their arrival have been iminent from long, from Quicksilver to Scarlet Witch and Skye of Agents of SHIELD. Not to mention Vin Diesel lobbying for the title role of Black Bolt, after already stealing our hearts as Groot. 


The two part finale to the battle against Thanos. The first will be before the aforementioned two films, the other after.There are a lot of questions, will this be the end of the MCU altogether? I hope not. Will all the original Avengers reunite? I hope so. Will this be the anticipated crossover between Avengers, Guardians and Inhumans? With two parts, I'd bet my life it is. 

Once again let's hope I can get of my ass to breakdown each of these. Still it will take time.

'Nuff Said

Aneesh Raikundalia

Friday, 24 October 2014

Underdog Awards 2015 Edition: The Pre-Prelude

Underdog Awards 2015 Edition



The Unexpected Virtue of Boredom

As I've been saying all along, it's awards season and there's a lot more coming from my blog about the Road to the Oscars.

This also means it will be time to prepare for my now annual Underdog Awards. Last year it weighed on me, that a lot of films never got their due at the end of the year. As such I created the Underdog Awards for the underrated/under-appreciated films of the year 2013.

The problem was, that I hadn't watched enough films for this to really work out, so I had to rush through multiple films across few days. This time round, I don't have the luxury to do that but I do have the time to watch at most two movies per day. This gives me enough time to gather data on a bunch of films that could be top contenders at the Underdog Awards next year.

Of course this doesn't mean that I'll get every film, so in the comments below I would urge you to name me any films you think could be contenders in the categories I have shown below.

On another note, since I'm so bored and I'm doing this post this early; I might as well rehash the rules to the awards.

-These are underdog awards, as such underrated pieces of cinema will be reflected. I could even nominate aspects of films that themselves will be nominated at the Oscars. Even nominate those that have already been nominate e.g.. Last years Adapted Screenplay winner Before Midnight, was also a nominee (but loser) at the Academy Awards.

-Since I'm so generous each award has honorable mentions. The best film award contains 20 nominees, The director and acting and now cinematography awards includes 10 nominees. While the others include 5 nominees.

-Last year, I didn't allow Comic Book Movie nominees. This year I've made the exception, considering how amazing the big three of Cap 2, X-Men DOFP and GoTG were.

-Also this year I decided to expand the set of awards; including awards for Production Design, Costume Design, VFX, Foreign Film and Documentary Feature. 

-For Foreign Language Feature, it will be like the Oscars; one film per language. The difference being that I will not select any film that was already in the list of nominees or in consideration eg. Liar's Dice is this years entry for India to the Oscars, if it doesn't make it to the top five then it still wont be considered here cause it got selected at least. Although of fear over bias, I might not select any Indian entry at all. 

-Also foreign language aspects such as actors can be nominated in other categories in a controlled amount apart from overall Best Film award.  

-Finally, films selected for nomination will be dependent on their release. Each film selected will have been Widely Released in the USA in the Year 2014. For foreign language and documentary, the rule is exempted. 

For more on what the Underdog Award are, read this:

Below is the table of categories in the Underdog Awards 2015 and the nomination slots for each award;

Underdog Award for Best Film

Underdog Award for Best Director
Underdog Award for Best Cinematography

Underdog Award for Best Editing
Underdog Award for Best Production Design

Underdog Award for Best Costume Design
Underdog Award for Best VFX

Underdog Award for Best Actor In A Leading Role (Male)
Underdog Award for Best Actor In A Leading Role (Female)

Underdog Award for Best Actor In A Supporting Role (Male)
Underdog Award for Best Actor In A Supporting Role (Female)

Underdog Award for Best Breakthrough Performer
Underdog Award for Best Ensemble Cast

Underdog Award for Best Original Screenplay
Underdog Award For Best Adapted Screenplay

Underdog Award for Best Soundtrack
Underdog Award for Best Score

Underdog Award for Best International Film
Underdog Award for Best Documentary

PS: Nothing related to the above but you'll be shocked as to why the next post after the Omkara review wasn't for Haider, but that will come when I can watch the film a third time as I'm building to writing both a review and full on analysis (like I did with Miss Lovely earlier this year)

'Nuff Said

Aneesh Raikundalia

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Reel Reviews: Vishal Bhardwaj's Shakespearian Trilogy; Omkara (2006)

Magneto's Movies

Reel Reviews Omkara

Director: Vishal Bhardwaj

Cast: Ajay Devgan as Omkara 'Omi' Shukla, Saif Ali Khan as Ishwar 'Langda' Tyagi, Kareena Kapoor as Dolly Mishra, Deepak Dobriyal as Rajan 'Rajju' Tiwari, Vivek Oberoi as Keshav 'Kesu' Upadhyaya, Konkona Sen Sharma as Indu Tyagi with Bipasha Basu as Billo Chamanbahar and Naseeruddin Shah as Bhaisaab

Genre: Crime/Drama

Score: 9.0/10

Pros:-The film revels in Othello's tragedy encompassing it with intriguing racial, criminal and political commentary of the Hinterlands

          -Themes of loyalty, jealousy, love and psychology invade the script giving it a sense of purpose and depth to the tragic plot

          -Tone of the screenplay is kept to point, never meandering into any melancholy or melodrama. Drama is restrained in the film even in a tense climax 

          -A much more faithful adaptation with only few changes that add extra levels to characters including a Richard III like Iago and Dolly-Omkara's impending marriage adding tension to the film

          -The dialogues are so immersed in the locales it feels like they're felt rather than just written

          -Characters are complex and engaging while adapted perfectly. Standout ideas being race considering caste for Omkara (Othello) and the puppeteer stirring emotions and the motion of the plot in the form of Langda (Iago)

          -Action is shot with dynamic brilliance capturing the grit of the situation. The camera works itself through the setting divulging its murkiness and base color palette with the cinematography juxtaposing darks and lights for important sub text. Shots also pay attention to the claustrophobia of situations.

          -The editing is crisp as it adds a sense of tension to the slow burning drama

          -Bhardwaj well understands the lingo and customs of his setting while molding it into the prowess of Shakespeare's written word. He also extracts surprising performances from all of his cast

          -The whole cast is sublime. Dobriyal leaves a lasting impression with the way he handles the heartbreak and slyness of his character. Oberoi emotionally tugs at you heart with his bad boy attitude and moments of emotional outburst. Sharma starts of slowly building to something remarkable with he striking delivery but more importantly her grasp of emotions on hand

          -Kareena Kapoor exudes the ethereal beauty of a character reflecting it with an innocence and purity captured through her expressions

          -Devgan is stellar as the hard hitting brooding protagonists. He mines the depth of the last few minutes with inspiring turn of emotions while keeping in check the earlier characteristics.

          -But the show is stolen by Saif Ali Khan. From the first scene all we can see is Langda Tyagi, it's a testament to his skill that he takes something unusual to him and turns it into a performance that is equally chilling as it is pitiable as he uses his chameleon like ability to drive the plot forward. His chemisty with Dobriyal, heck with everyone, heck all the male men's chemistries are brilliant.

          -The score has a methodological omnipresence through out the film. Capturing both moments of gleeful romance and tense mind game and psychological breakdowns

          -Despite being item filled, songs carry context of their own in terms of both revealing character and back story

Cons:-The writers don't convincingly portray certain plot points. The film meanders yet never develops the idea of why Dolly loves Omkara or why Omkara is susceptible to Langda's words since it jumps a tab bit with that

           -The films focus on Langda leaves the other characters far underdeveloped 

           -The commentary regarding crime politics and Omkara's caste issues are just scratched on the surface

           -Bhardwaj indulges himself in the world, especially with his music

           -The score takes time to get going, initially being too much masala. Despite great meaning, the songs in the film could have been reduced by one or two. 

Best Scene: Langda deep in regret and anger over Omkara choosing Kesu, smashes his head on his mirror and spreads his blood on his head in a manner as selecting himself as general, a hollow fantasy but the signs to comes of the monster Langda will become

Best Performance: Saif Ali Khan as Ishwar 'Langda' Tyagi 

Best Dialogue: 'Bewakoof aur chutiye mein dhaage bhar ka farak hota haiga bhaiya. Dhage ke ingay bewakoof aur ungay, chutiya. Aur jo dhaaga kheeche lo, to kaund haiga bewakoof aur kaund hai chutiya, carod rupiye ka prasan hai bhaiya.'-Langda Tyagi

(A thin line (or thread) separates the fool from the dumbass. On one end of the line lies the fool and on the other, the dumbass. Upon snapping the line it's a million dollar question as to who's the fool and who's the dumbass, brother.)

The second of the Shakespeare trilogy by Vishal Bhardwaj; the tragedy of Othello