PGCMAs: Best Musical Performance and Best Score (2014)

Posted: February 6, 2015 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PGCMAs

Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson PGCMA 2014*The above image represents 2013’s PGCMA Best Director and Best Picture winner; Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave.

Best Musical Performance

This a new award where I honour performances of songs by the characters on film. These can be covers, or original works. It’s worth noting that I’m more focused on the role of each performance in the film more than the musical integrity itself.

“Caravan”, Whiplash: This is a climactic moment of Whiplash, where Andrew really unleashes his talents as a drummer. We see glimmers of this throughout the film, but this is the first time we really see him cut loose. The scene is blisteringly well-edited and a poignant moment between Andrew and his instructor Fletcher.

“Firework”, The Interview: Katy Perry’s “Firework” is a stupid song, but it is used to good comedic effect three times in The Interview. My favourite moment was during the titular interview when Dave Skylark sings this to show Kim Jong-un’s true colours. Read the rest of this entry »

PGCMAs: Best Soundtrack and Best Use of Source Music (2014)

Posted: February 5, 2015 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PGCMAs

Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson PGCMA 2014*The above image represents 2013’s PGCMA Best Director and Best Picture winner; Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave.

Best Soundtrack

I introduced this award last year, but I’ve made some key tweaks. While last year I just looked at all non-score music from a film, but this year the focus is strictly on source music. Any music written specifically for the film is ineligible, hence why you won’t see something like Begin Again here.

Boyhood: In addition to the historical events which play roles throughout, Boyhood uses music as its primary time marker. A lot of the songs subtly indicate the approximate time frame of events, while other song choices help inform character moments. More often than not, these moments are diegetic, but every so often Linklater uses some non-diegetic music to underscore scenes poignantly.

Guardians of the Galaxy: The record-breaking soundtrack for Guardians of the Galaxy has been one of the most discussed aspects of the film and for good reason. This collection of 70s pop hits proved the perfect match for the film’s lighthearted and adventurous tone and certain song choices make for some of the film’s best jokes. Read the rest of this entry »

PGCMAs: Best Visual Effects, Cinematography, and Editing (2014)

Posted: February 4, 2015 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PGCMAs

Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson PGCMA 2014*The above image represents 2013’s PGCMA Best Director and Best Picture winner; Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave.

Best Visual Effects

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: I would hesitate to call the effects in Rise of the Planet of the Apes ground-breaking, but everyone was pretty shocked by how good the CGI looked. Dawn lacks that same sense of surprise, but the effects are just as great here. The filmmakers are also pushing the limits of the tech with a lot more mo-cap performances and outdoor shooting.

Godzilla:  Godzilla himself is obviously a prime example of special effects and the King of the Monsters looks great. The CGI rendering is pretty good, what is even more impressive is the sense of scale given to the monster. The other monsters look great as well, and the city destruction is pretty well-realized.

Guardians of the Galaxy: The fact that a CGI racoon and tree spend the entire movie walking around normal people and it doesn’t look stupid is a testament to the film’s strong effects. There are also a lot of spaceships and high caliber battles which make use of some very strong digital effects. Read the rest of this entry »

PGCMAs: Best Art Direction, Make-Up, and Costume Design (2014)

Posted: February 3, 2015 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PGCMAs

Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson PGCMA 2014

Best Art Direction

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: This is one of the more minimalist nominees, but it achieves its goals very well. The ape village constructed in the jungle is really well-realized and the visual of a desolate city slowly being overrun by wild life looks great while also playing into the themes of the film nicely.

The Grand Budapest Hotel: Wes Anderson is known for building his own quirky worlds and this is one of the biggest examples of this. Many of the sets here have a 1930s/40s feel, while still having a unique flair that’s all their own. The titular hotel is an especially fun locale. Read the rest of this entry »

PGCMAs: Best Chase and Best Set-Piece (2014)

Posted: January 29, 2015 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PGCMAs

Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” SimpsonPGCMA 2014*The above image represents 2013’s PGCMA Best Director and Best Picture winner; Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave.

Best Chase

This award looks chase scenes whether they be a race, someone trying to escape another force, a struggle against the clock. Both foot and vehicular chases are eligible.

Cornering Fury, Captain America: The Winter Soldier: This early scene sees a bunch of cars led by an unknown force trying to take down Nick Fury. What follows is an exciting and creative chase scene which also introduces the titular villain. I do think Fury’s escape is a bit silly, but it does establish the stakes of the film pretty well.

Finale, Under the Skin: After preying on vulnerable men through most of the runtime, the protagonist finds herself being chased through the woods by a man with bad intent. The scene then takes a weird turn which goes to produce the film’s most unforgettable visual. Read the rest of this entry »

PGCMAs: Best Fight and Best Shootout (2014)

Posted: January 28, 2015 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PGCMAs

Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

PGCMA 2014*The above image represents 2013’s PGCMA Best Director and Best Picture winner; Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave.

Best Fight

This award focuses on either hand to hand combat or melee weapons. Other types of weapons are allowed to play a role as well as long as the focus is still on physical fighting.

Axes, Snowpiercer: I wasn’t quite as enthralled with Snowpiercer as others, but the movie did have some pretty awesome moments, and this scene is one of them. As the members of back of the train fight their way to the front, they face heavy opposition from security, which is displayed well in this scene as dozens of people engage in a brawl armed with axes. It’s a stylish and well-shot scene with a brutal edge.

Elevator, Captain America: The Winter Soldier: This is one of the most basic action scenes in The Winter Soldier, and that’s why it is one of the best. The Russos make great use of the limited set and also presents Cap in a more vulnerable situation. Beyond that, the choreography is great and it’s an intense scene. Read the rest of this entry »

PGCMAs: And the Nominees Are (2014)

Posted: January 27, 2015 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PGCMAs

PGCMA 2014*The above image represents 2013’s PGCMA Best Director and Best Picture winner; Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave.

With another year gone, I’m ready to do my year end awards honouring the best of cinema that I saw from 2014. For those who don’t know, every year I do my own awards series over a series of posts. Your standard awards for things like acting and screenplay are here, along with the technical categories, as well as some fun awards like Best Fight. The awards end with my top ten films list, the top five films being the nominees for Best Director and Best Picture, and number one being the winner of the aforementioned awards. This year I’ve had to drop some awards, but I’ve also brought in some new ones and I’m excited to do this again for a fourth time. Hopefully you all enjoy these too.

And the nominees are… Read the rest of this entry »

The Theory of Everything Review

Posted: January 25, 2015 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

theory_of_everythingWritten by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

About a month ago in my review for The Imitation Game, I made note of the fact that it was one of two major prestige films that seemed like an obvious attempt at Oscar-bait. Every year there are usually a few films about individuals overcoming obstacles and telling a simplistic moral. These are usually biopics, the individuals often have some sort of disability, and the films are generally made to be easily digested by a wide audience. The Imitation Game certainly fit that description and while it did end up being a fairly mediocre work, Alan Turing’s life seemed ripe for cinematic exploration so I at least had hope the movie would be something special. I had less confidence in the other major Oscar-bait release, the Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything. Hawking is certainly an important individual, but the film’s marketing just oozed the kind of mediocrity I described earlier and I’ve grown to actively dislike such unambitious, middlebrow filmmaking. My viewing of the film was pretty heavily dependent on whether or not the film received a Best Picture nomination, and since it did, I was there. I did make a conscious effort to go into the film with an open mind, but my expectations were average.

The film opens with Stephen Hawking (played here by Eddie Redmayne) as a young physics student at Cambridge University. Stephen is an exceptionally bright student and his theories on time and the universe are intelligent and bold. While at school, Stephen meets fellow student Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones) and the two begin a relationship. This is challenged when Stephen is diagnosed with motor neuron disease, which will slowly destroy his body. Jane refuses to leave him however, and Stephen himself uses the disease as a sort of incentive to push himself harder. Despite only being given two years to live, Stephen would of course live much longer, and in the process become an icon in the field of science and the world over. Read the rest of this entry »

Horns Review

Posted: January 24, 2015 by moviebuff801 in moviebuff801's Movie Reviews

By: Michael “MovieBuff801″ Dennos

Usually when I walk away from a movie after having just watched it for the first time, I manage to formulate an overall opinion of it fairly quickly. Every once in a while, though, there’s that oddball film that throws so much stuff at me, that I find myself suffocating from the amount of things being thrown at the screen to see what sticks, and thus stumble away desperately trying to make sense of it all. On that note, let’s talk about Horns, the new horror black comedy adapted from the novel of the same name by Joe Hill. For the longest time after watching it back in October of last year, I couldn’t really make heads or tails of it; there were aspects of it that I found pretty interesting and well-done, but then others that simply stuck out as just plain odd and headscratching in their strangeness. In the time since, I took it upon myself to read the novel, and that helped to put things into perspective for me. The point I’m trying to make here is this: if a film leaves you so confused as to what you thought of it that you find yourself having to go and read the source material to help nail your opinion down, then odds are, the movie isn’t exactly a winner, winner, chicken dinner.

Horns concerns a young man named Ignatius “Ig” Perrish (Daniel Radcliffe), whose girlfriend Merrin Williams (Juno Temple) was brutally raped and murdered sometime before the beginning of the film. Naturally, the people of Ig’s small town home community believes he did it, despite his repeated assurances of his innocence, and matters aren’t made any better for him due to the lack of evidence in his favor. The only ones on his side are his parents (James Remar and Kathleen Quinlan), brother Terry (Joe Anderson) and best friend Lee (Max Minghella). It’s all reached the point where Ig usually has to spend his nights getting wasted to help him cope with all the accusations. But one morning, upon waking up to his latest hangover, Ig discovers the sudden and mysterious appearance of strange protrusions growing from his forehead. A quick bit of investigating reveals those protrusions to be gradually-growing horns, but that’s not even the strangest part. The weirder fact about these horns is that they possess the ability to make anybody in Ig’s immediate vicinity to give in to their deepest, darkest desires, most of the time in the form of confessions that are wildly inappropriate and insane, or just downright hurtful. However, Ig soon discovers that he can twist this newfound power of his to his advantage by using the horns to interrogate possible suspects in Merrin’s murder and take revenge on them. With each painfully honest encounter, though, the horns make Ig question if they’re slowly robbing him of his humanity. Read the rest of this entry »

American Sniper Review

Posted: January 23, 2015 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

american_sniper_ver2Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

Clint Eastwood is undoubtedly a legend of the film industry. The man defined the image of a man for an entire generation, played some iconic characters, and shifted focus to become a great director. His early directorial career was a bit hit or miss. Some films, like The Outlaw Josey Wales and High Plains Drifter, are very strong, while efforts like Bronco Billy are pretty stale. Even after making the masterpiece Unforgiven, Eastwood continued to throughout some misfires. But then in the 2000s, the man really found his groove. In the span of just a few years, Eastwood directed modern classics Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, and Letters from Iwo Jima, along with flawed but ultimately strong works like Flags of Our Fathers and Gran Torino. However after that, the quality began to slip again. Eastwood began serving up disappointment after disappointment with 2014’s Jersey Boys seeming especially miscalculated. I started to think that maybe Eastwood’s time as one of the best was over. It made sense given his age and how much he’s already given to the industry. And then the trailer for American Sniper hit and I was stunned. Simple, tense, and very gripping, I immediately became excited. This seemed like it could be a return to form for a director who’s made some of my favourite films. I did keep my expectations in check, especially in light of some negative reviews, but I also had hope that American Sniper would soar.

American Sniper tells the true story of Chris Kyle (played here by Bradley Cooper), an American Navy SEAL who gained infamy as, “the most lethal sniper in U.S. history” during four tours of duty in Iraq in the early 2000s. As a young boy, Chris was instilled very traditional views of masculinity, God, and his country from his father. These views helped shape and define him. Chris always fancied himself as a type of cowboy and as a young man spent his days working as a rodeo cowboy, but yearns for something more. In the wake of the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings, Chris is inspired to fight for his country and joins the Navy SEALs and quickly finds himself deployed in Iraq following 9/11. As a sniper, Chris begins to build a body count and becomes known as a legend for his skills. However the war weighs heavy on the man and strains his relationship with his wife, Taya (Sienna Miller). Read the rest of this entry »