Reviews May Contain Minor Spoilers

If you're reading a review you should expect to hear some spoilers. I try to keep them to a minimum though.

Friday, 28 February 2014


My number one made it to the top based on my love for science fiction. Honestly, all of my top four are amazing films; nearly half this list are 10s!

Her (2013) is a quirky love story by Spike Jonze.

Theodore Twombly works as a letter writer for He has recently gone through a divorce and is struggling to find love. After a bizarre phone sex experience, Theodore hears about the new OS1 and decides to purchase it. He installs it and decides that it should be female. The new OS and he hit it off immediately. She names herself Samantha.

Now, to be fair, I'll start off with some potentially objectionable scenes. There are three awkward scenes. The first is a phone sex scene that gets really weird. The second is the infamous 'black scene.' Two people actually walked out during this scene when I saw it! I find this funny because it really is least offensive of the three. The final one is the most uncomfortable and also the most brilliant solution to Samantha lacking a body. It is a genuine surprise that I don't want to spoil though it isn't for everyone. Anyway, as with all the other films, the ensemble cast, even the minor roles of Olivia Wilde and Rooney Mara, blends perfectly.

Our Hero
Theodore Twombly is a man who has difficulty relating to others. His life has fallen apart and he spends his time alone playing video games or surfing the net. Theodore may not be a likeable or relatable protagonist, but he is at least sympathetic. His journey is about coming out of his shell with the help of several women in his life. Joaquin Phoenix is remarkable in this role; he really captures the sad loner who spends much of his time alone.

Female Observers
Amy is a college friend of Theodore's whose marriage is not in the best shape. She also develops a relation ship with one of the AI, but it is a friendship rather than a romance.This mirrors her friendship with Theodore to some extent and really drives home how the AIs aren't all alike. Amy Adams delivers her second Man-of-Steel-redeeming performance of the year.

Samantha is Theodore's AI. For those who would like to simply discount her as a computer, I ask: "Have you seen the film?" Samantha is noteworthy for how real she acts. She has more character in her than most characters on screen nowadays. Scarlett Johansson proves that she's not just a pretty face!

Near-Future Atmosphere
The music by Arcade Fire fit so well with the retro future they're going for. Bottom line: Best Original Score. Speaking of retro future, the blend of apple sheik ans seventies fashion creates a surprisingly believable future. The kind of palpable future that I haven't seen since Gattaca. Thus, I'm also rooting for Best Production Design.

In the End
A bittersweet end to a bittersweet film.

The story deserves Best Original Screenplay. Her is a film that works on many levels. It could be about a lonely man talking to himself for three hour; an interpretation that many seem to take even though I find it the most boring. On another hand, he could actually be interacting with a real person without a body. This non-physical relationship, along with how Theodore and Sam deal with it, are the most interesting portions of the film. This film is classic sci-fi in its purest sense with technology completely impacting the film's world. See it if you long for a return to classic science fiction or want a great bittersweet romantic comedy(and can handle one of the lovers being a computer).

So, how'd I stack up?

Best Picture: 12 Years a Slave [CORRECT!]
Best Actor: Ciwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club) [Woo!]
Best Actress: Judy Dench (Philomena) Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
Best Supporting Actor: Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips) Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club) [Woo!]
Best Supporting Actress: June Squibb (Nebraska) Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave) [Woo!]
Best Cinematography: Nebraska Gravity [Okay...]
Best Costume: 12 Years a Slave The Great Gatsby
Best Directing: Alexander Payne (Nebraska) Alfonso Cuaron [Boo!]
Best Editing: Dallas Buyers Club Gravity [Okay...]
Best Makeup: Dallas Buyers Club [CORRECT!]
Best Original Score: Her Gravity [Okay...]
Best Production Design: Her The Great Gatsby
Best Visual Effects: Gravity [CORRECT, but... Gravity, again, really?]
Best Adapted Screenplay: John Ridley (12 Years a Slave) [CORRECT!]
Best Original Screenplay: Spike Jonze (Her) [CORRECT!]

5/15: Not prescient yet!

Next Time: Post Oscar Snubs?

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Dallas Buyers Club

My second number two stands out for being more topical than the only current event contender, Captain Phillips, despite being set in 1985! Much like Nebraska, I went in knowing basically nothing about this film and it blew me away!

Dallas Buyers Club (2013) is a historical piece by Jean-Marc Vallee.

Ron Woodruff is a nard drinking, drug abusing, bull riding Texan who collapses after hustling some men. He awakens to find himself in a hospital. The Doctor tells him that he has HIV and he only has about thirty days to live. He sends 28 of them banging prostitutes and doing drugs. He learns of an experimental drug and obtains it illegally; however his condition only worsens. He makes it down to Mexico to discover a better treatment that the FDA won't approve, and he decides to make some money!

With all the fights over new drugs and how the FDA cozies up to big businesses, this film is incredibly relevant to today. I'm not even talking about the AIDS stuff yet. The movie even has the balls to admit that the drug Ron Woodruff crusades against, ADT, is still used today and can be helpful in staving off the virus. However, the real fun lies in the characters and their struggle against a virus that was heavily stigmatized at the time.

Our Hero
Ron Woodruff gradually becomes a better person as a result of being infected with HIV. In a weaker film there would be big melodramatic scenes detailing his transformation, but this film makes it effortless. Ron is charismatic and unrelenting in getting what he needs. I'd like to know when Matthew McConaughey became an amazing actor. Previously he played varying versions of himself, but not here!

Astonished Observers
Rayon is a transgender woman who helps Ron with his scheme to get the drugs to those who need it. Rayon's first scene, where she swindles Ron at cards, is the greatest character introduction of the year. Rayon is the heart of this film and her struggles are just as important as Ron's. If Jared Leto wins Best Actor in a Supporting Role, I think he deserves it. I didn't give it to him because he's part of a great film with a wonderful ensemble cast, not carrying an overhyped movie on his back.

Dr. Eve Saks is a doctor who treats Ron and Rayon; she is the one doctor who sees the merit of what he's doing. She exists to show the medical side of things, and that not all doctors are stooges of the FDA. Jennifer Garner is the weakest part of the stellar cast; not that she's bad, just notably not as good.

80s Atmosphere
The film doesn't start with a date though it becomes clear that this is a period piece very quickly. The AIDS scare is just ramping up, and the effect on the homosexual community is great, especially the Ron in a gay bar scene. I'd give the film Best Editing and it better win Best Makeup! It also has the best trailer of the year in my opinion.

In the End
Ron becomes a good man.

Dallas Buyers Club presents a story that transcends its time period. The phenomenal casting, direction, and script merge into a funny and heartwarming story that leaves the viewer with a lot to think on. See it if you enjoy a good story and great characters!

Next Time: And the Number One film is...the only one left.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014


Alright, I have a tie at number two... Not only that, but you may have noticed the perfect score on 12 Years a Slave. Yes, I think last year was a great year for film.

Nebraska (2013) is a road trip film by acclaimed director Alexander Payne.

Woody Grant is found wandering along the side of the road by a police officer. His son, David, picks him up and discovers that Woody believes he's won a million dollars from a magazine subscription company. Since the company is in Lincoln, Nebraska, Woody has decided to walk there. He can't trust the mail. David recognizes it as a scam. After getting chastised by Kate Grant, Woody's wife and David's mother, David returns to his life, working retail. After his father tries to get to Nebraska again, David decides to take a road trip to prove that the million dollars is a scam.

Nebraska isn't exactly about all that. Nebraska resonates more with the themes it deals with. Nebraska deals with aging, self worth, family, and money; all while being hilarious. The other striking thing about this film is how realistic the portrayals are. Much of the comedy works because of how relatable the characters and even the situations are. If you have any midwestern or older family members then a vast number of moments in this film will resonate with you.

Our Journeyers
Woody Grant is a dreamer whose life of good deeds has gone unrewarded. Initially portrayed as a bumbling old fool, Woody's life is reveals him to be a more complex character. The admiration that Woody earns from his son slowly discovers what kind of man his father really was.Woody is a man of simple tastes. Bruce Dearn puts in an amazing performance as the befuddled alcoholic, weaving between zoned out naturally.

David Grant is more of a boy than a man. His life has gone nowhere and his girlfriend moved out on him. When his father asks him to go to Lincoln, he's stumped. David is the straight man of the film and the butt of many of its jokes, but he never becomes hopeless. His opening up to new experiences and learning about his family are done perfectly. Will Forte, mostly know for comedy, excels in this dramatic role and plays much younger than his age with ease.

Angry Observer
Kate Grant is Woody's wife and David's mother. She's a no nonsense woman who's had enough of dealing with Woody's crazy dreams. She's in most of te film and provides some of the best laughs as she reveals the dirty secrets of Hawthorne's past. Gotta love raunchy old ladies! I heartily support June Squibb for Best Supporting Actress!

Black and White Atmosphere
This film should win for both Best Directing and Best Cinematography. Even the rather run down city of Hawthorne looks beautiful. The decision to put the film into black and white makes to film feel like it's lagging a bit behind the actual time it's set in. The best shots are saved for the end and Woody's old house.

In the End
Possibly the most satisfying ending of any of this year's Oscar pics.

Many will skip this film in favor of one of the bigger names, but this film should not be missed. It explores the darker side of being a good person and still manages to be uplifting. This film fights a much smaller battle that is one that many of us face. Also, Bob Odenkirk, Saul from Breaking Bad, has a supporting role! Just see it.

Next Time: The Second Number Two film on my countdown.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

12 Years a Slave

Been waiting for my Best Picture pick? It's here at number four! While I think it will win Best Picture, it isn't my personal favorite.

12 Years a Slave (2013) is the latest offering from Steve McQueen, of Hunger and Shame fame.

The film begins with Simon Northup in bondage cutting sugar cane and trying to pen a letter. At night, a woman kisses him and gets him to give her a hand job. Neither are satisfied by the endeavor. The film jumps to Northup with his family. His wife and daughter leave him to find some work as a musician. He meets a pair of men and earns a great sum of money. At the end of their tour, they get him drunk and he wakes up in chains.

This film is as harrowing as the title suggests, but it moves well beyond the "slavery is bad" thing. It features the, much obscured, slavery passages of the bible alongside beautiful and hopeful gospel songs of the slaves. Twelve Years focuses its characters and the realities of the period. Perhaps the only slight letdown in this film is executive producer Brad Pitt who delivers a solid performance but seems really out of place.

Our Hero
Simon Northup, declared Platt by his owners, tries to maintain his character in a deplorable position. In trying to maintain his character, Northup makes several well meaning decisions that become questionable as the film moves on. He's sincerely helpless during most of this film and haunted by his memories of freedom in a few choice scenes. Chiwetel Ejiofor will likely win Best Actor for this and I couldn't agree more. His haunted portrayal underscores the common insanities of the time.

Owner and Owned Observers
Patsey is the main female slave in the film. She is the favorite of her master, Edwin Epps. She recognizes the strength of integrity in Northup and bonds with him. Her savage treatment really drives the tension between Edwin and Northup which leads to many of his more noteworthy acts. Lupita Nyong'o delivers a haunting performance that really drives home the weight of Northup's decisions.

William Ford is a slave honor who tries to treat his slaves as well as he can. He is the first to purchase Northup and helps to drive home the corrupting influence of slavery. However, he is presented as a sympathetic character and functions well to prove that all slave owners aren't Epps. Cumberbatch puts in a solid performance as always but sounds weird with an American accent, maybe it's just me.

Righteous Foe
Edwin Epps is the main antagonist and 'bad' slave owner. He is frightening in his righteous belief that he is doing God's work. His manic insantic would be comical, and sometimes borders on it, if his character weren't so menacing. Michael Fassbender really brings it home with this this character who could have easily been the downfall of this film.

Visceral Atmosphere
Best Costume should also probably go to this piece as the period attire is excellent. Every shot, no matter how terrifying is beautifully staged and shot. This is most exemplified in an extended botched hanging scene that lingers for an uncomfortable amount of time.

In the End
Northup made several choices to stay alive during his confinement, but there is one decision completely unrelated to that which haunts the rest of the film. The end text summaries are also incredibly depressing.

There was a point, halfway through the film, where my desensitization just broke down. This film features explicit torture as well as a rape scene which are horrifying, especially since it and worse actually happened. Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay are also probably going to be won by this one. I've heard McQueen's other films are just as rough and I plan to watch one of them in a few months and the other a few months after that...See 12 Years a Slave if you enjoy historical dramas or intense characterization!

Next Time: Nominee Number Three Two... Wait...

Monday, 24 February 2014


This film has some controversy surrounding it for being anti-Catholic; I think I watched a different film.

Philomena (2013) is a film by Stephen Frears, of High Fidelity fame, about the scandalous treatment of unwed pregnant girls by Nuns.

Journalist Martin Sixsmith has been dismissed from his job in disgrace. While searching for purpose in his life, he tries to get in shape and toys with the idea of writing a book on Russian history. At a party, he hears to story of Philomena Lee and how her son was taken from her against her will. Together they go on a search for the boy she lost.

This film does not portray the Catholic Church in the best of light but portrays Philomena as perhaps the most devout Catholic in the film. I think that's where the disconnect is. The evil things done are clearly a result of human vices.

Our Heroes
Philomena Lee is a passionate woman who ended up in terrible circumstances. Philomena is the title character but not the main character. She remains almost as mysterious as her son for good portions of the film. She is insistent that the nuns who took her son are not 'evil' and refuses to allow Martin to sensationalize. Dame Judi Dench has received Best Supporting but not Best Actress before; as such, I think new is her time. There could not be a better role for her to win for.

Martin Sixsmith is a journalist who is searching for the truth. He's serious and initially just uses Philomena for the story. Over time he learns that there's quite a bit more to the little Catholic woman with the romance novels. Sixsmith's own journey is the thrust of the story and perhaps more interesting than Philomena's. A real crime is that Steve Coogan didn't get any nods for his performance though he did get one for this fabulous script. He co-wrote and executive produced this feature and clearly put a lot into the role.

Lush Atmosphere
From the north of England to Washington D.C., the search is brought alive by beautiful scenery. Even the little restaurant that Martin meets Philomena at is cozy.

In the End
A fantastic final confrontation between Philomena and the nun who took her son. It also has one of the funniest additions to an end summary ever.

Philomena manages to balance tough religious issues with comedy. The best part of this tale is that they find her son in the middle of the film, and the journey afterward is far more enriching than the start. This has a much deeper take on religion than Gravity, so come here for a complex look at religion.

Next Time: Nominee Number Four should be a surprise.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

American Hustle

I really enjoyed Silver Linings Playbook and David O. Russell is back again with:

American Hustle (2013) is a film based on FBI stings in the 70s and 80s.

Con artists Irving Rosenfeld and Sydney Prosser are prepared by FBI agent Richie DiMaso to make an exchange with a high ranking public official. The film shifts earlier after the meeting is botched to show how Irving and Sydney first met. Irving is a con man who falls in love with Sydney despite being married. He then runs a investment scam with Sydney pretending to be an English aristocrat.

American Hustle is an entertaining heist movie whose characters are lovably dishonest. The biggest issue with this movie is the start. It thrusts the viewer into the middle of the story without any context before introducing its characters. It doesn't seem to trust the viewer to sit through the 45 minutes of character introductions. The beginning isn't exactly boring either, so it's just more jarring than need be.

Our Heroes
Irving Rosenfeld is an aging con man caught between the love of his adopted son and the love of a good woman, well relatively good. Irving is incredibly charismatic, and that serves him well in his chosen profession as a con man. Christian Bale puts in a solid performance and manages to disappear into the role despite his celebrity.

Sydney Prosser aka Lady Edith Greensly is an intelligent woman swept into the conning world of Irving. She falls in love with him despite herself. Then, she juggles the advances of FBI junior agent DiMaso with the completion of Irving's plan. Amy Adams puts in a sparkling performance that extends far more than the cut of her dresses.

Innocent Observer
Mayor Carmine Polito is a good guy just trying to do the best for his community. Carmine gets caught up in Irvings schemes to rid himself of Agent DiMasso. Carmine is the only genuine character in the entire film, and the only one deserving of audience sympathy. Jeremy Renner puts in a great performance as the do-gooder mayor. Renner needs to do more of this and less Bourne...

Conniving Foes
Rosalyn Rosenfeld is a stunning gold digger who's latched herself onto Irving and doesn't want to let him go. She has a propensity for starting fires and may be the best at conning in the entire film. As such, she is one of the most interesting. Her vapid willingness to leverage Irving's love for her son to maintain her lifestyle is impossible to turn away from. Not only is she fascinating, but she's also hilarious. Jennifer Lawrence is glorious in the role and probably deserves the Best Supporting Actress Oscar but given her recent win, I don't see it happening.

Agent Richie DiMasso is a young agent looking to make his name. He bites off more than he can chew when he assumes power over not only Irving but his boss. DiMasso is a little prick and his comeuppanceis too long coming. Bradley Cooper puts in a good performance, but I think it once again he comes up a little short.

Groovy Atmosphere
This period piece doesn't skimp on the period. The late seventies and early eighties come alive.

In the End
This is a film that trades on its large cast and the intrigues of the con come second to the characters. Much to the film's credit the character payoff is brilliant and leaves one with a lot to think about.

A large cast of colorful characters comes together in a hilarious con film. American Hustle may not be quite as good as The Silver Linings Playbook, but David O. Russell adds another solid entry to his filmography. Unfortunately, I don't think this will win too many (if any) Academy Awards. If you enjoy con films or 70s-80s period flicks, check this one out!

Next Time: Nominee Number five is our controversial entry.

Saturday, 22 February 2014


Next up is the 3D experience film of the year! I'm not a big fan of 3D though I've only seen Avatar and Dial M for Murder in (the original 3D).

Gravity (2013) is an action/adventure film by Alfonso Cuaron.

Three astronauts work on improving the Hubble Telescope. Dr. Ryan Stone is installing a new medical prototype as Shariff Dasari finishes his work. Matt Kowalski is the supervising astronaut who is about to retire and seeking the longest recorded spacewalk. However, their work is interrupted by a mass of space debris caused by an exploding space station. This hurls Doctor Stone into space.

Gravity moves between suspense and action much better than Captain Phillips. The tight point of view on Doctor Stone allows the film to exploit her helplessness to full effect. Unfortunately, this realism is undercut by Dr. Stone's action movie luck since she probably should have died at least twice during the middle of the film. The film's journey, however, proves surprisingly worthwhile. It also gives form to one of the most hated cinematic evils ever!

Our Heroine
Dr. Ryan Stone is a woman caught up in incredible circumstances that ultimately reveal her inner character. She makes this film worth watching. She is still trying to come to terms with a loss and as been drifting through her life since. Her ultimate conclusion allows this film to rise above its action 3D experience base. Sandra Bullock shows that her status as a Hollywood star is not overrated. I don't particularly like her normally, but she is superb in this film.

Doomed Observer
Matt Kowalski is a man with a million stories and the most experienced astronaut on the team. He gives Dr. Stone the push she needs to not just curl up into a ball and die.Unlike the shamelessly milked for pathos Shariff Dasari (seriously, that family photo?), he is built up through his actions over the first act. George Clooney puts in a solid performance, but it is far from his best. It gets better as the film goes on: he's better at being dramatic than funny.

Hated Foe
The main rival of our hero is A BUNCH OF SHIT FLYING AT THE SCREEN! Way to get me on our heroine's side. I flinched several times in the third debris strike because it was impossible not to. The debris is probably the thing that makes this film most implausible; the debris explanation is dumb. The Russians destroy a spy satellite and the debris causes a chain reaction... All Russians should be offended by this. Less is more, movie.

Stellar Atmosphere
Gravity should win Best Visual Effects with no challengers. I wouldn't be surprised if it wins Best Cinematography, but I'm not rooting for it. Every environment in this looks gorgeous. SOme will likely spend this whole film wondering how they made it look so good.

In the End
Get about two thirds into the film and you'll know mostly how it ends.

Gravity is quite the ride and one worth taking. Its action scenes go overboard at times, especially when the shit attacks and the fire on the International Space Station. It also goes a little overboard in exploring religion but makes some nice points about it. See this film if you enjoy gorgeous movies about personal discovery or are looking for a 3D experience film with a bit more intelligence.

Next Time: Nominee Number Six steals the show!

Friday, 21 February 2014

The Wolf of Wall Street

Number eight on my list is bound to be controversial. I'll openly admit that I'm not a fan of Scorsese. I've only seen three of his other films, and they're far from a complete picture. Fortunately, this one is similar to my favorite of the other three.

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) is a black comedy about the life of Jordan Belfort by Martin Scorsese.

Jordan Belfort is a man who wants to be rich. Luckily for him, the world of wall street is perfect for him. He signs up and ends up working for drug addled Mark Hanna. He moves his way up and learns the tricks of the trade until the stock market crash of Black Monday 1987. After that he finds a new and less legal way of making money through penny stocks, and from there forges a new company.

This film is a black comedy about the rise and (somewhat) fall of a despicable person. This film has gained notoriety for a particular scene at the start where Jordan does drugs out of a prostitute's butt. It's as non-explicit as it can be, but I want to start there since that deters a lot of people from seeing the film. There is a lot more that the film does, even topping Scorsese's previous foul-mouthed Best Picture winner: The Departed.

Our Villains
Jordan Belfort is an over the top insane stock broker who builds a company of crooks and liars. His life is entertaining, but also deeply disturbing. If you let loose your morals and go with the flow, he can be very entertaining. However, he is incredibly foul, so be warned sensitive viewers. Leonardo DiCaprio is great in the role, but I don't think that he deserves Best Actor for this role. Though, he's never won an Academy Award, so the Academy might throw it to him.

Donnie Azoff is Jordan's right hand man. He's crazier than Jordan, but far less intelligent. Much of the film's comedy stems from him. If you enjoy drug induced insanity and ridiculousness, then you'll probably enjoy this character. I did not. Jonah Hill is a fine actor, but I don't tink he deserved a Best Supporting nod for this.

Materialistic Observer
Naomi Belfort, nee Lapaglia, is Jordan's second wife. They get together when he meets her at a party. She is essentially the perfect amoral trophy wife until Belfort's madness affects their daughter. She is probably one of the most under appreciated character in the film. Margot Robbie is seductive one minute and raging the next, switching between the two masterfully.

Wall Street Atmosphere
This film is over-the top insane. It borders on cartoonish at points. It is based on a true story, but stylized for maximum effect. There is hilarious scene where drugs make Belfort physically unable to walk then he has to get home before Donnie makes a call that could destroy their company.

In the End
The darkest part of this comedy: Jordan doesn't get what he deserves.

An enjoyable romp for the most part. It is incredibly long, 3 hours, and it astonishes me that there is a five hour cut of this thing. It could be a half hour shorter. This one will feel incredibly familiar to those who've seen Goodfellas; fortunately, the story is similar but it's definitely a different ride. While this film can be fun, I really can't justify that it deserves any Academy Awards. I'll go ahead and restate: I'm not a Scorsese fan! See it if you enjoy Scorsese, DiCaprio, and evil men doing crazy things.


Thursday, 20 February 2014

Captain Phillips

Well, I've been on a bit of a hiatus, but with the Academy Awards coming up, I thought I'd run down the Best Picture nominees and give my thoughts. I've seen them all and I'll be ording them from my least favorite to my favorite. I'll also be trying to predict what the Academy will be doing. So, without further ado: bringing up the bottom of the list:

Captain Phillips (2013) is a film by Paul Greengrass, director of the first two sequels in the Bourne series, and based on accounts of a real Somali pirate attack in 2009.

Captain Phillips talks with his wife about concerns for his children. He fears they will have trouble getting into the shipping business since it isn't as easy as it has been. She drops him off and we jump to him meeting his first mate and a few others. He stops the crew from taking a presumably long break. They also talk about how dangerous the pirates in the area are. He then receives a e-mail detailing the severity of recent pirate attacks. Meanwhile, the pirate Muse gathers a crew of a young local, a ship pilot, and a strong outsider.

As you can tell by the summary, Captain Phillips has a long and tedious opening that goes through some of the life of a modern ship captain. Most notable are the three "dramatic e-mail reading" scenes that pretty much speak for the first act as a whole. It tries to humanize Phillips but only succeeds in making him seem boring. After that, we get the pirates attempting to board and some of the attempted humanization of them. They argue like everyone else! The pirates bicker and fight, but from these scenes comes the most interesting part of the film: Muse.

Our Hero
This was the first act for me.
Captain Phillips is our titular hero; a man focused on his job who will do anything for his crew. Tom Hanks does a good job in this role, especially in the emotional scenes at the end. It is really the failing of the writing that tries to hard to equate him and Muse. Thus we're left with Phillips' suspenseful and dramatic sections mixed with the action of the military. It doesn't serve Hanks' performance very well.

Our Villains
Najee is the most openly hostile and threatening pirate, Unfortunately, in a film of collected and intelligent individuals, he comes off as an oaf. He might kill Phillips, but even he seems to know that he can't. He's also not very interesting. He's a bully who wants to get paid.

Abduwali Muse is the biggest reason to see this movie. His subtle plans are ruined by having to go in at half strength and some insubordination in his group. He then improvises to try to get the money he needs to live. His moments with Phillips are the best the film has to offer and the way the two men relate should have been the focus of the film. Barkhad Abdi should probably get best supporting actor for this role and it is to the film's determent that he's barely in the last act.

Boat Atmosphere
This film makes life on a shipping boat look positively dull. It even makes the Navy look fairly dull. The split between action and suspense, mentioned earlier, manages to kill both. If the film had stuck to the suspenseful ordeal from Phillips perspective and played Phillips and Muse off one another as the main thrust of the plot, it would have been a far better film.

In the End
Hanks cries, end text summary. My cousin predicted nearly word for word the sentence of the summary. The story in and of itself is not that compelling.

Phillips has a weak 'true' storyline that makes me wonder why it's up for best adapted screenplay. Strong performances save some of the middle section of this film, but this film is far too much of an Oscar panderer to be terribly enjoyable. See it if you enjoy boats, Tom Hanks, or stories based on current events.

Next Time: Best Picture Nom. Number 8.