The Charlie Brown You’ve Probably Never Heard

It would be impossible to escape that good man named Charlie Crown during the joyous Christmas season. A Charlie Brown Christmas has become not only a staple for Christmas songs such as the piano driven rendition of “O Tannenbaum” and the ice-skating favorite, “Christmas Time is Here,” but also for the iconic Christmas episode revolving around the sad, depressing twig for a Christmas tree that the gang chorusses around in happiness towards the end.

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Growing up in my own home, one of my most favorite Christmas shorts was not this special. It was It’s Christmas Time Again, Charlie Brown, the original’s slightly younger brother. I can still picture seeing this dancing Snoopy twirling around the bulky, green VHS cover like it was yesterday.

As a child, I always felt like nobody except my own family had even heard of that particular story that included many little stories into one short episode. Maybe I’m wrong now since the DVD version comes with both Christmas specials, but I can only hope people have seen the hilarious tale of the Peanuts gang.

From Linus and Sally sledding in a box, to Peppermint Patty’s troubles as a sheep in the Christmas play, to to my most favorite of them all, Sally’s one liner in the same Christmas play where she may or may not have flubbed her simple “Hark,” I can’t help but smile at the thought of the ruckus I would make when watching it (which you can see one below).

So, throughout all of the hustle and bustle that Christmas brings, I can’t help but suggest taking a little out of your busy times and catch this hilarious parade of goofs and laughs.

Merry Christmas to all!

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The Silver Lining of This Playbook

silver liningsOn rare occasion, there’s a movie that manages to tickle your humor with laughter while still maintaing a sense of realism in its dramatic, sympathetic characters.

Revolving around Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) and his recent release out of a mental instituion where he was put in for violently beating the man he caught in the act with his wife, all the while hearing his Kenny G wedding song breakdown in the background, a wide range of comic hysteria surrounds Silver Linings Playbook.

With it’s star studded cast, Silver Linings is a sure favorite for the Academy Awards. Robert De Niro, who plays the O.C.D. crazed, Eagles fan-father of Pat, and his quiet-spoken wife, played by Jacki Weaver (recently nominated for her eerie maternal role for Australia’s Animal Kingdom), all give honest, yet bombastic performances. Even Cooper manages to surprise audiences with his on-the-edge, quick-tongued Pat, growing off of his growing potential from last year’s Limitless (we forgive you for the second Hangover now).

Throughout all of the intricate jokes and sharp-witted drama, there is one truly visible silver lining in this film: Jennifer Lawrence. Having proven her own abilities to act in her first nominated role, Winter’s Bone, which basically landed her one of the most sought for roles in Hollywood as Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games’ “Girl on Fire,” Lawrence finally got to showcase her hugely likable comical side that she has so memorably flaunted on talk shows (she even finally just landed her first stint as host on Saturday Night Live which you can read more on here). As the recently young widower, Tiffany is everything you want to see in a character. Insanity. Hilarity. Yet altogether, relatable. After all, everybody has had to go through a tragic spousal death and deal with it by having sex with everyone in their office. Well, not necessarily, but it’s her yearn for love and compassion that make her so absolute.

Lawrence earns her right as Silver Linings’  show-stopper since it’s physically impossble to take your eyes off of her every moment she graces the screen, especially in this clip below where Pat joins his best friend, his wife, and her sister, which is Tiffany, in what could be considered a fairly awkward family dinner.

For a film that, personally, and among many others, had such a built up hype, I can firsthand say that the David O. Russel directed dramadey does not even come close to disappoint  Throughout the actual cackling moments of laughter, maybe even a few overdramatic tears, Silver Linings Playbook is a must see not only because of the coming Awards season (check out where I rank it on Take 1 and find out if it’s rank changes in the soon to come Take 2!), but also because it’s a timeless movie that will beg for a good, occasional watch. A

The Slow and Steady Rise of Argo

01_argo_iphoneWith a few weeks out in theaters under its belt, it took a total of three for Argo to finally rise to the box office following its release. The Ben Affleck directed tale of how a CIA agent teams with filmmakers to stage the production of a movie in order to save six captees in Iraq.

Sound dramatic enough? Well the direction done and the executed intensity throughout many scenes only adds to Affleck’s growing repuation as a much better director than he is actor (even though he does do a fine job in Argo). After the critical success of Gone Baby Gone and even more so, The Town, Argo will easily make up for the award snubs Affleck recieved in the past.

Despite the fact that there isn’t a distinct acting performance deserving of the award, except for the more than likely to be nominated Alan Arkin (see where I rank him and why in my first Take on the 2013 Oscar Lineup), Argo works as a cast instead of individuals. The chemistry held by the fugitives and the humor that evokes from them, and even Arkin and John Goodman’s character, is welcomed and surprisingly suiting for such a serious drama.

That is all thanks to great writing and directing. Without it, the intensity that balances with that humor and seriousness wouldn’t be as successful as it felt.

Be sure to catch this wartime drama before the big Oscar night, because it is bound to grab some serious attention just like it has for the Golden Globes and SAGS. A-

The 2013 Oscar Lineup: Take 1

Despite the fact that the new set of Academy Award nominations have yet to be revealed, it’s always exciting to not only guess who the winner is going to be, but also who else is going to fill up the other slots in each category. So, I will be posting weekly updates on the main categories (Picture, Director, Leading and Supporting Actor and Actress) where I think they fall at that moment and then follow-up with an explanation of each.

With other various prestigious awards, such as the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards, releasing both the nominations and winners, the race and place of each can change in a coming second.

But that’s what my job is going to be. It’ll be like gambling. Without the cash, of course, but the possible the bragging rights of getting them right!

Best Picturezero-dark-thirty-releases-a-uk-poster-121641-00-1000-100 (1)

1. Zero Dark Thirty
2. Argo
3. Lincoln
4. Les Misérables
5. Silver Linings Playbook
6. Life of Pi
7. Beasts of the Southern Wild
8. Django Unchained
9. Moonrise Kingdom
10. The Impossible

This is going to be a pretty tight race in terms of nominations this season. There hasn’t been an all around great year for movies since a couple years ago during the time of The King’s Speech and Black Swan, but this time around, there’s a whole slew of fantastic filmmaking. With Zero Dark Thirty becoming a Critic’s Prize fan favorite, and on top of that, gaining great reviews and growing anticipation for the audience to see Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal’s return after their The Hurt Locker wins, it has easily taken over the momentum built up for Ben Affleck’s Argo. The top, major six films are all obvious nominations, with the top four truly being the only ones competing for the title. For the remaining slots, though, it’s harder to determine. With last year’s rule change to where there can be any amount of Best Picture nominations, ranging from five to ten, and then there being a surprising nine total this year should be no exception to a higher number of noms. Following Life of Pi, Beasts of the Southern Wild, the charming and dark indie story starring an almost entirely new cast of stars, could sneak in with its devoted fan base. Never count out a Tarantino film either, so his new bloodbath thriller could crack in, too. Then comes the final two out of then. It’s a toss up between this summer’s comedy favorite, Moonrise Kingdom, the true storry of tsunami survival, and then The Master. With the strong love for Kingdom, and performances leading The Impossible (plus a true story never hurts for the Academy), I think those two will make it in first, even over the surprise top honor nominations The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel received from both the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild this past week.

Best Directorkathryn-bigelow-and-mark-boal-clarify-zero-dark-thirty-political-controversy
1. Kathryn Bigelow – Zero Dark Thirty
2. Ben Affleck – Argo
3. Stephen Spielberg – Lincoln
3. Ang Lee – Life of Pi
5. David O. Russell – Silver Linings Playbook

The top three are for sure to get nominated, with Bigelow racking up her second win for Zero Dark Thirty. But if there were any year where the Best Picture didn’t match up with Director (with the actual last one being with Ang Lee), it could be this year, easily between any of those three. Then, Lee will probably make it due to the unfilmable curse of Life of Pi. The last spot could go to recent winner Tom Hooper for Les Mis or even Tarantino, but Russell, who snuck in with The Fighter two years ago, should bring in one director for an indie dramadey.

Best ActorCCSpielbergLincoln1280x960_460x329
1. Daniel Day-Lewis – Lincoln
2. John Hawkes – The Sessions
3. Bradley Cooper – Silver Linings Playbook
4. Hugh Jackman – Les Misérables
5. Joaquin Phoenix – The Master

Three words. Daniel. Day. Lewis. No one will beat this guy and the three following him are for sure to get nominated. The last slot will probably go to Phoenix in his first major film returning performance that has gained a lot of buzz, even over Denzel Washington in Flight.

Best ActressSUB-24ZERO-articleLarge
1. Jessica Chastain – Zero Dark Thirty
2. Jennifer Lawrence – Silver Linings Playbook
3. Naomi Watts – The Impossible
4. Helen Mirren – Hitchcock
5. Marion Cotillard – Rust and Bone

For the top two spots, it has gone back and forth between Lawrence’s hilarious turn as the mentally unstable, sex addict Tiffany. However, Jessica Chastain, who has proven her acting chops in all of the great films she’d made in the past two years (including her first nominated role for The Help), could continue her Critic’s Prize winning streak to take in her first win. Expect Naomi Watts to make it, but the last two are up for grabs. With the SAGS just released this past week, it’s possible the Academy will go for Mirren and Cotillard, an exact replica of the that list. Emmanuelle Riva, for the beloved Amour, or even the young, newcomer Quevanzhane Wallis could sneak in depending on the love that Amour or Beasts obtains.

Best Supporting ActorTommyLeeJones
1. Tommy Lee Jones – Lincoln
2. Alan Arkin – Argo
3. Philip Seymore Hoffman – The Master
4. Robert De Niro – Silver Linings Playbook
5. Ewan McGregor – The Impossible

This is the only category that doesn’t even come close to having a real, clear winner. It’s all a tie between Jones, Arkin, and Hoffman. Personally, I do not want to see Arkin win his second Oscar for a performance that was an exact replica for which he won his first, which could be taken into account for many voters. Then, since De Niro was snubbed from the Golden Globes noms over Leonardo DiCaprio and Christoph Waltz for their parts in Django Unchained, they could both sneak in over him. But the love held for him as an actor (we all know the Academy loves veterans!) should lock him in. The last spot is tricky, because it could go to either DiCaprio, Waltz, or even Javier Bardem in Skyfall (which I would love to see, but find it hard to believe that the Academy would reward a James Bond film with a nom, even though it was a spectacular film). This is why I give it to McGregor, who hasn’t gotten a whole lot of love from other major awards lists, but voters have had a past of spontaneously rewarding actors who did well in much-loved movies.

Best Supporting Actresshathaway_les_mis_49097505-4_3_r560
1. Anne Hathaway – Les Misérables
2. Helen Hunt – The Sessions
3. Sally Fields – Lincoln
4. Amy Adams – The Master
5. Jacki Weaver – Silver Linings Playbook

The top two are not only lock ins, but most likely the ones to battle over the prize. With that said, Hathaway, who has proven her feats as an actor since her Princess Diaries beginnings with her first nominated role in Rachel Getting Married, will most likely win for her transformation into the role of the tragic Fantine. The Academy loves stories of actors changing themselves, whether physically or mentally, for a part, and with Hathaways dramatic drop in weight, it seems likely, especially seeing that many other Critic’s prizes have agreed. Field is for sure to get a nomination for her great performance (here’s to Veterans!), and Amy Adams, who has racked up three nominations in the past, should sneak in like she has once before. The last spot, again, is a quite tricky. Nicole Kidman surprised and gave huge upsets when her name was seen not only on the list for the SAGS, but even the Golden Globes for the infamous role she played in The Paperboy where she ends up peeing on teen heartthrob Zac Efron (now does the movie sound familiar?). But, even though Jacki Weaver hasn’t gotten barely any attention in many awards, I’m going to bank on her for now to fill out the category for her role in Silver Linings Playbook, just like she did for Animal Kingdom, rounding out every single major category with someone from the film.

Fairly long list, huh? Well, let me know what you think. Have any agreements? Or more importantly, disagreements? Or even your own suggestions? Let me know in the comments to see if your arguments win over into the next 2013 Oscar Lineup!

Stephen Spielberg’s Lincoln

Telling the story of the 13th Amendment’s long journey of induction into the Constitution, Daniel Day-Lewis stars as Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth president of the United States, in the biopic tale of The Great Emancipator.

The soft-spoken, yet at times assertive approach that Day-Lewis takes as Lincoln is so dead on, it’s uncanny. At times, the believability of his portrayal almost makes you think that the actual President Lincoln has returned from the dead to reprise his role as the savior of slavery. But that isn’t the case.

In what many call Day-Lewis’ performance as more “Lincoln” than Lincoln, it would be a shock for him not to only be the front runner for the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, but a shoo-in for the win.

Even though his particular performance may outshine others, it doesn’t mean that the rest of the cast is by any means underwhelming. Just like 2012’s The Help, which wasn’t likely to take the top Best Picture prize at the Oscars, but won the SAG Award for Outstanding Cast in a Motion Picture, it wouldn’t be impossible for Lincoln to follow in its footsteps.

Every actor balances both a touching emotional edge, but also an ode to a more old-fashioned style of acting that is all the more refreshing. Sally Field, who plays First Lady, Mary Todd Lincoln, and Tommy Lee Jones, as Thaddeus Stevens, will most likely add another Oscar nod for their roles not only because of the love held by the Academy, but because of their strong screen time. Plus, the comedic relief given by James Spader, John Hawkes (who’s Day-Lewis’ main competition for Best Actor with his role in The Sessions), and David Strathairn and Gloria Reuben, who Entertainment Weekly is strongly enforcing the Academy to “Consider This”, and among many, many others, all combine to create such a great cast.

Clearly, the acting is a huge part of making this movie a success. At times, particularly towards the beginning, the story is a little slow and takes a while to pick up, but every moment that President Lincoln graces the screen, it creates a moment to remember. A moment cinematic magic.

Don’t get me wrong, though. Spielberg never fails to make an entire film full of breathtaking shots. After building up the story, the humor in Lincoln’s random stories, and the ways in which 13th Amendment supporters garner up votes from Representatives, all of the film ties together.

Regardless, Lincoln is an ensemble film and there is no doubt: you will leave thinking that Daniel Day-Lewis not only aced the role of President Abraham Lincoln, but also truly believe that he is Honest Abe, himself. B+

The 85th Annual Academy Awards

The time has finally come. Oscar season is here. With the Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globes nominations both releasing in the past few days, the Academy Award nominations and ceremony are finally becoming a reality.

So instead of jumping straight into my own, personal Oscar coverage, I would instead rather propose a challenge that I’m setting for myself. Clearly, I have not yet been very dedicated throughout the short span in this blog’s creation.

I’m not entirely sure of the mechanics of how a movie blog such as this should go about, but since I have decided to talk in the first person, anyway, I might as well give a short synopsis to my own life’s movie which I have yet to do (I couldn’t wait to post my American Horror Story theory before!).

My name is Brandon. I am an aspiring filmmaker. I am studying Film Production in college. My first obstacle in life? Making into the film school in order to study Film Production. As a requirement, there are certain papers I need to write, and other components, such as making short movies, presenting short works of fiction or poetry, photography, but one part of it is a multimedia work or website.

So, I decided to make a blog. A blog by me and occasionally my sister, Katlyn.

That’s my story. My motivation. Of course, making this movie blog is not at all only for getting into this part of the school. The love and passion I’ve had for movies has grown tremendously over the past few years. The Academy Awards are always something I pay extra attention to, from the moment one ends, up until the night of the next ceremony. So creating such a way to express my own feelings and opinions on such matters to a world of people I may or may not know is a success in itself.

Whether or not I get into this film school, whether or not it’s where my life’s journey is supposed to go, whether or not I am even supposed to be a filmmaker in my own future, this blog is going to be an adventure that I’m willing to embark on.

So, whether or not this is my destiny, I can’t lie, winning an Oscar sure does have a nice ring to it.