Thursday, January 7, 2016

Week of January 8 - 14 (Rhoades)

Tropic Overview

Oscar Contenders Can Be Found at Tropic Cinema
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Film Critic, Key West Citizen

Tropic Cinema seems to be channeling the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. All five of the films playing here this week have been shortlisted for Oscars.

The Academy’s website offers a list of eligible feature films that will be winnowed down to a handful of actual nominations. Okay, there are 305 films on the list. But to quote a popular movie, There can be only one!

The Academy Awards presentations take place on February 28th, so make sure you don’t miss these likely contenders.

Leading the pack is “Carol,” a Best Picture favorite. Based on a book by Patricia Highsmith, this is the bittersweet romance between two women, a society lady (played by Cate Blanchett) and a salesgirl (Rooney Mara). The storytelling and cinematography harken back to movies of the ‘40s and ‘50s -- yet updated. Filmink declares, “It is a classy entertainment with a delicious combination of psychological manipulation and latent liberation.” Sun Online says it’s “worth watching for the electrifying chemistry of its love-struck leads alone.” And St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes that the film “demonstrates that a period piece can engagingly comment on modern times.”

Also on the Best Picture shortlist is “Brooklyn,” with Saoirse Ronan portraying a young Irish woman who comes to make her home in New York’s Burroughs. But the pull of the Old Country is strong. Liverpool Echo says, “Definitely one to watch if you like raw emotion and romance.” And Film International gushes, “I can’t spot a single thing wrong with ‘Brooklyn.’ An Oscar-caliber package; start betting on victory for Ronan, at the least. Heart-warming, light-hearted, and perfectly poised. Simple. Beautiful. Lovely.”

With its own Oscar buzz is “The Big Short.” A strong ensemble cast (Ryan Gosling, Steve Carell, Brad Pitt, and Christian Bale among them) makes this sharp-witted look at the housing credit bubble much more interesting than you might expect. Film Comment observes, “‘The Big Short’ is the truth-telling picture of the year. It puts beautifully shaded characters in guy comedy mode into an Altman-esque narrative …” And EntertainmentTell adds that it “uses an outstanding cast, a touch of humor and a series of cheeky devices … to deliver a hugely entertaining film.”

Another shortlisted film is “The Danish Girl.” It tells the story of Lili Elbe (Eddie Redmayne), one of the world’s first Gender Reassignment Surgeries. However, pay attention to his/her wife (Alicia Vikander shines in the role). Sky Movies calls it “an intriguing, sumptuous-looking affair, distinguished by some strong performances.” The Skinny sees it as “delicate and decorous.” And Observer terms it a “glossy affair” with “sumptuous design and arch acting.”

And don’t overlook “Joy,” the new Jennifer Lawrence film that’s likely to make the Academy’s final cut. JLaw rules in this loose biopic about the woman who invented (yes) the Miracle Mop. Laramie Movie Scope says, “Jennifer Lawrence gives another great performance as a woman under a lot of stress trying to run a successful business against long odds.” Daily Express tells us the film  “lays it on pretty thick with Joy’s quirky, suffocating family but Lawrence creates the kind of plucky underdog you are only too happy to cheer …” And ABC Radio Brisbane concludes, “Jennifer Lawrence is terrific as the determined yet vulnerable heroine. She keeps getting knocked down and she keeps getting back up. It's inspiring if nothing else.”

So pay attention. Next week the Academy will release its actual nominations. You can bet all these five films will be on the list.

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