My Thoughts on the 89th Oscars Ceremony


Mahershala Ali accepting his award for Moonlight at last night’s Oscars ceremony. (Source: FOX News)

Oh man–what a night!

It was actually a fun Oscars ceremony! One of the funniest things host Jimmy Kimmel does on his talk show is trash talking Matt Damon (it’s kind of a long story). When he walked on the stage, he cracked jokes about the nominees (including Meryl Streep receiving her 20th Best Actress and starring in hundreds of “mediocre movies”), politics (not to mention references to Donald Trump), and, of course, his feud with Damon mentioning that he backed out of playing the lead in Manchester by the Sea to star in The Great Wall, one of the biggest box-office bombs of 2017 so far.

Another one of my favorite segments Kimmel does on his show is “Mean Tweets”. This is where celebrities read their mean tweets. Some of them are really funny, while some of them are just horrible. I was so proud he did it last night during the ceremony! There were a lot of montages, and I loved how we get to see actors talking about their experiences with some of their favorite movies and falling in love with a certain actor from that film, and having them present on stage. Charlize Theron and Shirley MacLaine (The Apartment), Seth Rogen and Michael J. Fox (Back to the Future), and Javier Bardem and Meryl Streep (The Bridges of Madison County).

A lot of people boycotted last year’s Oscars due to the lack of diversity in the nominations. The president of the Academy Cheryl Boone Isaacs made a wonderful speech proving that “Art has no borders.” Meaning, the nominations will be more diverse in the coming years. Denzel Washington became the first African-American to receive the most Best Actor nominations (5). African-Americans Mahershala Ali (Moonlight) and Viola Davis (Fences) both won their Oscars for their wonderful performances in supporting roles, and definitely well-deserved!

A lot of you know that La La Land was my pick for the best movie of 2016, and the movie I’ve seen the most times in the theaters (a total of FIVE TIMES; you can tell I’m downright obsessed with it). I, along with many others, wanted it to win big Best Picture. The movie did set some records. Nominated for 14 Oscars, it tied with Titanic for receiving the most nominations including Best Picture, and Damien Chazelle being the youngest person to win Best Director, at 32 years old. And also, it won the most awards—taking home six. Emma Stone, who took everyone’s breath away with her golden vintage-style gown (just WOW!), won a well-deserved Best Actress for her performance as an aspiring actress trying to make ends meet in Los Angeles. I’m proud to see Casey Affleck, who looks like a Bostonian Jesus with the beard (I mean that as a compliment), deserved his win for Best Actor for Manchester by the Sea.

Last night had a fair share of surprises. When Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway announced that La La Land won Best Picture, I have never been happier since the New England Patriots won this year’s Super Bowl. Then, there was commotion up on stage. I wondered, “What’s going on?” Jordan Horowitz, one of the producers of La La Land said, “There’s a mistake. Moonlight, you guys won Best Picture! This is not a joke!” My joy quickly transitioned to a state of shock.

What happened with that mix-up was that Beatty and Dunaway got the wrong envelope. Someone backstage even said so. Then, Beatty realized he was holding the envelope for Best Actress instead of Best Picture. I have nothing against Moonlight (which took home two more nominations for Best Supporting Actor for Mahershala Ali and Best Adapted Screenplay) because it’s a beautiful movie about a young African-American man trying to find who he really is. However, I thought it was a big joke that La La Land gave up their Best Picture to Moonlight. Unfortunately, Horowitz was right. It wasn’t a joke. Director M. Night Shyamalan hilariously tweeted about the shocker saying, “I wrote the ending of the academy awards 2017. Jimmy Kimmel, we really got them!” I woke up this morning to that, and I certainly got a good kick out of it.

But hey–look on the bright side. Moonlight became the first film by A24 to win Best Picture. Here’s to a dozen more!

This has been one of the better ceremonies in quite some time (the one where Seth MacFarlane was the host will always be one of the biggest mistakes the Academy ever made). Congratulations to everyone who won their awards!

Movie Review: John Wick


In John Wick, the titular assassin thinks he’s back. (Source: IMDb)

Ah—revenge never felt so good!

After the death of his wife, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is living a lonely life with a beagle. While pumping gas in his Mustang, one of the members of a Russian mob, led by Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist), wants to make an offer on the car. But–Wick refuses. Later that night, the mob breaks into his house and steals his car. Ridden with anger and more grief than before, Wick’s past of being an assassin begins to creep up on him. What does he do? Hit the streets of New York City to get his revenge, of course!

After a modest performance in theaters back in 2014, John Wick is slowly beginning to earn its cult status. It’s a shame people shied away from Keanu Reeves shoot it up in a black suit driving a Ford Mustang among other vehicles. This proves that the action genre can be more than just your typical action genre. Stunt coordinators Chad Stahelski and David Leitch sit in the director’s chair to give a noir-ish portrayal of NYC’s mob underworld. Featuring a gifted cast including Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, and Willem Dafoe, expertly-edited, wall-to-wall action (not to mention the best nightclub shootout sequence since Collateral), a deadpan sense of humor, and kick-ass dialogue, John Wick is what action thrillers are all about! Cannot wait for the sequel!


Movie Review: A Dog’s Purpose


Ethan (Dennis Quaid) finds an affection for Bailey (voiced by Josh Gad) in A Dog’s Purpose. (Source: Kansas City Star)

Director Lasse Hallström is a master of sentimentality. He has made some good films over the years—What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (one of my personal favorites) and 2014’s The Hundred-Foot Journey. However, he has made some cinematic misfires, including Dear John and Safe Haven (two Nicholas Sparks adaptations). A Dog’s Purpose marks the return to Hallström’s familiar roots of Hachi: A Dog’s Tale.

A lot of you might have heard the controversy surrounding A Dog’s Purpose. TMZ uploaded a video featuring a behind-the-scenes shoot of a German shepherd being forced into a water tank. Then, we see the dog under the water. This caused an outrage of whether the dog was abused or not. While shocking to watch, there was no way the dog was abused. Some of you might beg to differ.

That’s not the reason behind why the movie is such a cluttered mess. It suffers from a manipulative screenplay (written by five people including author W. Bruce Cameron) that plays out more as a Hallmark Movie of the Year, cardboard cutout characters, and a tone oozing with sap.

A spirit called Bailey (voiced by Josh Gad, who replaced Bradley Cooper at the last minute) tries to find out about his existence as a dog through the owners he touches on a daily basis through life and death. Spanning through five decades, he reincarnates through different dog breeds ranging from a golden retriever to a German shepherd working for the K-9 Chicago Police Unit (the one seen in the video) to a St. Bernard. As a golden retriever, his owner Ethan, a high school athlete (KJ Apa) finds trust and respect in Bailey. Convinced by him to find a girlfriend in Hannah (Britt Robertson, Tomorrowland), Ethan can’t seem to live without his lovable canine.

As a lover of dogs, it is a cute concept about no matter what breed or gender of the dog, the spirit remains. It’s about as harmless as a movie of its kind can get. If a dog moving its lips, it would have resulted in a disaster of biblical proportions. Smart move for giving A Dog’s Purpose the Homeward Bound treatment in terms of letting an actor voice on what the dog is thinking. Gad’s narration is warm and inviting, and does have a funny line here and there. But—he could have been better. The dogs give much better performances than the human actors alone (Dennis Quaid seems to be trying a little too hard).

It does have some graceful moments—especially Bailey running through the wheat fields and the teenage romance between Ethan and Hannah. But, who the hell brings a dog to a date or to a school? With numerous awkward point-of-view shots, there are also several moments of slapstick comedy that falls flat on its face. In one embarrassing scene, Ethan—as a child—decides to distract his parents and dinner guests by saying there is a rat in the house while putting a coin back in his father’s old coin collection that Bailey puts in his mouth. Throughout the two-hour duration, there are no surprises to be found.

I do admit the movie does look really nice, but if the last act is the best of your movie, you are asking for trouble. I certainly expected it to be a lot worse. A Dog’s Purpose is for dog lovers, by dog lovers.

Would there ever be a film called A Cat’s Purpose? I doubt it.