Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Hollywood Week: Day 4

Day 4 saw me making a strange decision. I decided to walk from Hollywood and Highlands to the Sunset Strip. That is no short walk. It's a good thing I like walking.

Before I started my walk, I noticed something different out on the boulevard. We have a red carpet!
However, the red carpet doesn't extend too far just yet. The walk through the centre to the Dolby Theater is still covered in bubble wrap.
You can hardly blame them. A red carpet doesn't seem anywhere near as attractive or exquisite if you think about the thousands of tourists who have walked over it before you.

It was a beautiful day so I had to take a picture of the Chinese Theater in all it's glory. No matter how many times I go to Hollywood, I always get a kick out of looking at all of the signatures on the forecourt. I always tend to be the person who is more excited about the old Hollywood stars than the new (although they are exciting too). I love Mary Pickford's and Lana Turner's.

Now considering I was going to hike to the Sunset Strip, I took La Brea Ave to get there and if you continue down La Brea towards Santa Monica, you will come across an old studio which has a statue of Kermit dressed up as Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp. This is The Jim Henson Studios and was once Charlie Chaplin's Studios. I am a big Chaplin fan so you can imagine my delight when I found this at the front, which I never knew existed. 

I often get annoyed that so many important parts of Hollywood's history have been torn down to make way for new developments, so I really love the fact that they still honour such a vital piece of Hollywood history. If one man deserves to be honoured, it is Chaplin. He did so much for film, but I most admire him for how he never backed down from what he believed in, even if it was inevitable that it was going to cause some sort of controversy.
So after my close encounter with the Chaplin kind, I set off down Sunset Blvd. I have no idea how long it took me to eventually arrive at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf opposite the Directors Guild. I wasn't really worried about timing. I just enjoyed the walk and taking it all in.

I spent a few hours just people watching and writing before I met up with my friend, Michelle there. Michelle has really helped me out with Movie Critical over the years and continues to do so. It was great to see her and talk about what we are going to be working on in the future, as well as of course talk about Hollywood during Oscars season!

Michelle gave me a bit of a driving tour about where everything takes place prior to the Oscars and after the Oscars. Afterwards I continued my walk around West Hollywood. The Chateau Marmont is another beautiful hotel. One I would love to stay in one day. It is famous for celebrity spotting and played host the Vanity Fair's post Oscar party this year.
Before turning in for the night, I took another look at the how the Dolby Theater was shaping up for the big night on Sunday.

* All photos are taken by and are property of the page owner.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Hollywood Week:Day 3

Day 3 wasn't quite as busy as day 2, but still busy in itself!

Today I met up with one of my friends, Stefunny who lives in Los Angeles. Stef moved over here awhile back now from Michigan in order to kick start her modelling and acting career. She's doing very well and her career is only on the up. It was really awesome to see her.

We went to Le Petit Four on Sunset Boulevard. I hadn't been there before, but it is a really nice little restaurant. It's one of th more popular ones I the Sunset Plaza. I have noticed that it is packed every time. I kind of guessed this place was a bit of a celebrity hang out ( as most of This area of Sunset Blvd is). When we were about to walk in, all these people turned around and looked at us. Considering Stef is a model, this didn't surprise me, but she also told me that if you dress nicely everyone looks at you to see if you are famous.

Funnily enough, I ended up sitting two seats away from Australian actress,Holly Valance who was once in Neighbours and has been living in LA since she left the show. Non-Australians may remember her from Entourage as the girl Eric cheats on Kristen with when it turns out Kristen is cheating on him herself. Valance is still as gorgeous as ever.

That night I went to the taping of Russell Brand's TV show, Brand X with Russell Brand. It was a completely different Brand to what I had seen the night before. Although I do watch Brand X at home, it was a strange comparison after seeing his stand up in such an intimate venue the night before. His Brand X persona is more that of a star while his stand up was more that of a friend.

Either way Brand is still hilarious. Always quick witted and he's just a likeable guy. Every if he is somewhat picking on someone, he will always throw in a line to remind the that he is doing so Allen good nature.

The show didn't quite have the daredevil air that the episodes did last season, but that's not always a bad thing for some people. It was good to see a television show screening while I am here. There is so much work that goes into just putting one episode to air and it is an event in itself.

Worst part of the evening, definitely waiting outside in the freezing cold for the show to start. The days may beware in LA, but the nights are freeeezing!

As you are not allowed to take cameras into the studio, my camera had to do for some shots before the show started an after!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Hollywood Week: Day 2

Day 2 in LA has been absolutely insane.  Insane in an amazing way.

First thing this morning I went on the Warner Bros Studio Tour. I have been on this tour before, but it was nearly 5 years ago. The great thing about this tour is that no tour is the same. You will never see exactly the same thing and be told the same stories in 2 different tours.  So since the last time I went, I have became a "The Big Bang Theory" fan, I wanted to go again and see why I would see.

While Universal Studios is the first studio that pops to everyone's mind when they think about Hollywood studios as it, of course, is also the theme park, Warner Bros is perhaps the best actual tour. The studio tour at Universal is more of a ride, which doesn't mean it isn't fun and that you don't learn anything, but Warner Bros has groups of about 12 who have their own tour guide who takes them around, part in buggy and part on foot. It is a lot more personal than Universal.

The thing I always notice about studio tours is when they point out something on the set, which you don't recognise to begin with. Then the guide tells you what it was in, such as the park Jennifer Aniston and Lisa Kudrow ran through in "Friends" (yes, the large majority of "Friends" was filmed in LA at the Warner Bros studios and not in New York), and then you recognise it! I had one of those moments when I saw this "jungle" house.
This is Merlottes from "True Blood"! I wouldn't have guessed without Sam, Sookie or Bill out the front!

I also loved seeing some of the sets used in the James Dean classic, "Rebel Without A Cause" and the  museum with memorabilia for lots of old and new movies. There are many costumes from films such as"My Fair Lady", "The Dark Knight Rises" and "Inception". The car museum is also a must see with the space shuttle from "The Big Bang Theory" and the Weasley's car from "Harry Potter".  

And who could resist having a photo taken on the actual set of "Friends"?

Being a "Big Bang Theory" fan, a little excitement was added to the tour when we caught a glimpse of Johnny Galecki (Leonard) and Kaley Cuoco (Penny) on a break from their table reading!

So it really was a great tour given by Megan, our tour guide. So if you want to see an actual working studio in LA, do Universal for the theme park experience and do Warner Bros for the studio experience.

After the studio tour, I took a trip to Forest Lawn Memorial Park Glendale. I wanted to pay my respects to some of my all-time favourite actors who have left us. The main actor I wanted to see who has left us is James Stewart. I am. A massive Jimmy Stewart fan. He was such a gentleman and a brilliant actor. So I visited his resting pace, which is next to his wife's (Gloria).

The flowers are from me. I felt I needed to give him a little something for giving me happiness. I also saw one of my other all-time favourite actors, Elizabeth Taylor. Her resting place was incredibly large! It shocked me how large it was! But I am glad it is because she deserves it. I was also lucky enough to go into the Garden of Memory, which is normally locked. This area contains some major old stars, such as Humphrey Bogart and the great Mary Pickford, who's grave is pictured below.

That night I went to see Russell Brand in his stand up at the Largo. This man's stand up is incredible. He is so quick-witted and very,very funny. I admire Russell Brand greatly for how far he has come and how open he is about his past. He knows everyone knows about it and he has nothing to hide. I have met Brand briefly in the past and he is really a lovely man.

It was great seeing him in such a small venue like the Largo. It only holds about 125 people and has a really great atmosphere. It was as though Brand was talking to each person individually in the audience. He was on stage for an hour and 50 minutes and it really was as though he was sitting with a bunch of friends. Fantastic night!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Day 1: Hello from Hollywood!

Welcome to LA everyone!

It is really amazing to be back in the town that is just like my dream theme park! There isn't a better place in the world to be than here if you are nuts about movies. And how could you say this isn't the best time to be in Hollywood! The place is ringing with Oscars buzz!

Flying into LA in the pitch black first thing on a Tuesday morning.....well,you could be anywhere really. However, when you are on your way to the hotel and you hear a reminder on the radio that the ballot closes for the Oscars on Thursday so don't forget to cast your votes.....I couldn't be anywhere else really.

I spent my first night in the City of Angels at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. This place, if I haven't mentioned before, is my favourite place in the whole world. It is the place where I feel like I am really part of old Hollywood. This night comes courtesy of a very special birthday present from my lovely mother in law and an awesome travel agent by the name of Skye!

So when is the point when you know his week is going to be brilliant and amazing and everything you had hoped for? When you arrive at your all time favourite hotel and they say "Unfortunately the room type you are after is unavailable. Would you like a complimentary upgrade to a pool view cabana with balcony?"

I think this may have been a trick question. Of course the answer is yes! So here is my life today.

I think I am doing okay.

So after a 13 hour flight which has taken you to a completely different time zone, one would normally want some sleep. I had even contemplated that on the plane as I was trying to get a nap in. However, the realisation that I am possibly in the best hotel room ever just gave me some sort of bizarre kick. I was rearing to go!

I ventured straight onto Hollywood Boulevard where it suddenly hit me that I really am in Hollywood for the Oscars. The boulevard was blocked off from Highlands Ave to Orange, with the bleachers already up and the rain covers on the protect the area. It's quite an eerie feeling seeing this area which you have seen so many times over the years set up, in the rain and Hollywood was pretty quiet at the time(which is strange in itself).

After some serious retail time, I went to do something I have been wanting to do for years. I went on Dearly Departed Tour! Now that may sound pretty morbid of me, but I ensure you, this is one of the best tours to go on in Hollywood.  I have been on quite a few tours of Hollywood in my time, but this is the best one I have been on. If you are going to do one tour in Hollywood, do this one. You get to see where all the death and scandal of Tinseltown took place, but you still get to see all the usual places of interest and some current celebrity homes.

Scott Michaels is the man behind the company and is a star in his own right. I was lucky enough to meet him and to have a chat to him about some of my favourite Hollywood scandals such as the Tate murders (well, favourite as in I'm interested in it, not I think it was a good idea) and The Black Dahlia murder. Scott has been giving tours for the past 8 years and the home of the tours is a mini-museum filled with amazing pieces of memorabilia. Here are some of the pieces I found interesting.

This picture is of Jayne Mansfield's suitcase which was in the boot of her car when she was in the car accident that claimed her life.

The tour itself goes for just over 2.5 hours. A very quick 2.5 hours when you are having so much fun! I got to see some pretty cool things like where Michael Jackson died, George Michael's favourite (or least favourite) restroom, where Janis Joplin died and the site of Lindsay Lohan's Sunset Boulevard crash.

This is the house where Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio lived.
This was one of my personal favourite scandals. I'm a Lana Turner fanatic, and this is the house where her daughter, Cheryl killed Johnny Stompanato to protect her mother. Very spooky!

I had a great afternoon. All the tour guides are extremely knowledgable and happy to answer any questions you may have. I would love to also go on the Helter Skelter tour which covers all the locations relevant to the Manson murders. This tour only runs once a month though. However, if you have a group together, they are happy to make a exception.

As I said, I have been on a lot of tours in Hollywood over the years, but this is the best! A word of advice though, this tour is not for the faint hearted or for children.

So this brings my first day in LA to a close! Here are some pictures of The Hollywood and Highlands Centre to finish off this post!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty

Year: 2012
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Cast: Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Joel Edgerton, Mark Strong, Kyle Chandler, Jennifer Ehle, James Gandolfini

Before I begin my review….
Well, well, well. A week before the 85th Academy Awards and we make it to one of the more controversial nominees, Zero Dark Thirty.
The film which claims to give an accurate representation of Osama Bin Laden’s manhunt and death, has come under fire from the CIA and other sources depicted in the film.  It has been claimed by these sources that the film is not as accurate as what it proposes, but director, Kathryn Bigelow and writer, Mark Boal have come out defending their film. Boal quoted “It is a movie. I’ve been saying from the beginning that it is a movie. That shouldn’t be too confusing”.
I see why the CIA and other people feel the need to express what was and wasn’t completely accurate in the film, but what Zero Dark Thirty does is not unlike every other film which is based on real life events. There are certain things which are always added and exaggerated for dramatic effect so the film remains entertaining.
Many have believed that the controversy the film has created has hurt its chance at receiving any of the awards at this year’s Oscars. Personally, I think it may play a tiny part, but, as Boal said, it is a film and it is being judged at the awards as a film and not on its publicity.
Although I think Zero Dark Thirty is a very good film and it is one of the five films that really has a good chance of winning Best Picture, I am not convinced it will. I would love to see Kathryn Bigelow win her second Best Picture Oscar and I can’t help but feel that she is another director whom the academy have made a mistake leaving out of the nominations. So my final word on the matter is that it is another film I would love to see win, but I don’t think the odds are in its favour.
Then there is the amazingly versatile and brilliant Jessica Chastain who is up for Best Performance by an Actress. She is very deserving of her nomination and is also deserving of her first Oscar. However, it is a tough race to the finish with her and Jennifer Lawrence neck and neck. Chastain’s performance is a lot more subtle than Lawrence’s .Personally, I would love to give Chastain an award just for the person she comes across as every time you see her on TV. She seems incredibly down to earth and so appreciative of everything that happens to her. She has sparkle in her and she just makes you want to sit down with her and have a conversation that leaves you both in hysterics.

Don’t be fooled, Zero Dark Thirty is not Kathryn Bigelow’s last film, The Hurt Locker.
Although the two may look similar on the outside due to their locations and war themes, Zero Dark Thirty storyline flows through the film and gains momentum as it progresses. It is a thrilling ride and proves that even if the world knows the end of the story, that isn’t an excuse for lack of suspense.
After September 11 2001, the CIA starts the greatest man hunt in history for the man behind it all, Osama Bin Laden. CIA agent, Maya (Jessica Chastain) is sent to Pakistan to interrogate detainees in the quest to track down Bin Laden’s whereabouts. She obsessively searches for the man and his closest confiders for eight years before there is finally a breakthrough that she believes leads directly to the place where Bin Laden has been hiding all these years.
Films based on true events are often expected not to be suspenseful or thrilling as such because you know how they are going to finish. However, Zero Dark Thirty does not fit into this category. The film is incredibly tense at times and the final 20 minutes is nail-biting. Bigelow has the uncanny ability to not rely on a musical score to be the provider of suspense and create tension by letting the audience know early on that high pressure moments can come from nothing. She therefore keeps the audience on the edge of their seats because they are not sure what is going to happen next.
The script is very in depth and you feel as if you can’t miss a word of what the characters are saying because you might miss something. This is another amazing thing for a film which is over 2 and ½ hours long. You would think with that length that there would be lots of moments of nothing, but writer, Marl Boal has packed nearly eight years into this film and there is plenty to go through. Every scene means something for the film, whether it be in the progression of the story or in character development and growth.
The editing is brilliantly done and at some points, the cinematography can be really quite beautiful. The vision of the helicopters in the night sky over Pakistan is breath taking.
Jessica Chastain is a wonderful leading lady. She exhibits perfect growth in her character by going from an almost meek girl on her first days of interrogation, to being emotionally and mentally exhausted and then completely gaining momentum to take control of the whole project. She is relatable and the audience builds a relationship with her. You want her to succeed and care about her.
Mark Strong and Kyle Chandler also give very good performances and create great support for Chastain.
Kathryn Bigelow has done it again with Zero Dark Thirty by providing us with another fantastic movie that has the ability to give you the unfortunate outcome of a sore back or neck from unbelievable tension.


New York Daily News
The Telegraph

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Movie Critical Announcement


Hello Movie Critical readers!

Firstly, I don’t often get the opportunity to talk directly to my readers so I am going to take this opportunity to say a huge thankyou to everyone who has read and been part of Movie Critical in the past three and a half years. I am truly humbled by the support and words of encouragement I have received. It has been an amazing journey so far and I am so excited to see what the future holds!

You may have noticed that this year I have been very excited about the 85th Academy Awards which are being held in a little over a week on the 24th of February. It is not an unusual thing for me to be excited about the Oscars. I am absolute nuts about film (obviously) and this is the time of the year where the people who have been at the top of their game in the field I love get rewarded. The fact that I watch these people doing what they love and I review their performances makes watching them get rewarded all the more special to me.

So this year I decided that my Oscar experience was going to be a little different. On the 19th of February, I will be leaving Sydney on a Delta flight and flying into Los Angeles to be there for Oscars week…and I will be taking Movie Critical with me!

This will not be my first trip to Los Angeles, as I have been there numerous times and also lived there for 6 months in 2008 when I studied abroad at California State University Long Beach. Los Angeles is the only place I have ever known as home besides Sydney and I love the place. Being movie crazy, I am completely in my element there. Hollywood is like a massive theme park for movie lovers like myself. I have spent days just wandering around the town searching for hidden pieces of the golden years of Hollywood, as well as basking in the sun of new Hollywood.

This will, however, be my first time in LA while the Oscars are in full swing. I feel like I am going on a pilgrimage to film Mecca!

So I am taking all of you with me! Not literally, but I will be posting each day on Movie Critical my adventures in Hollywood so all Movie Critical fans can live through me!

I have got some very exciting things planned, which I know you are going to love to hear about. I will be staying a night at my favourite place in the world, the historical Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. This is where the first Academy Awards were held and where many of the old Hollywood stars such as Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable played. The rest of the time I will be staying in a hotel very close to the Dolby Theatre, where the Oscars are held!

I will be going on the very popular Dearly Departed Tour of Hollywood which takes you to the locations of Hollywood death and scandal. I will also be taking a tour of Warner Bros Studios, as well as seeing a comedy show by a very popular star who has featured in several reviews on Movie Critical!

In a change of pace, I will also be going to a Forest Lawn Memorial Park Glendale. This may seem just a tad morbid to some people, but my main reason for wanting to go is to pay my respects to two of my all time favourite film stars, the great Elizabeth Taylor and James Stewart.

It is going to be a fantastic week. I am so excited to be able to share this week with all of you. Please tell your friends and share Movie Critical with them. My movie reviews won’t stop as a result of this in the next few weeks, as I still have Zero Dark Thirty to review before the Oscars and I will also be making my official predictions for Best Picture, Best Achievement In Direction, Best Actor in A Leading Role, Best Actress in A Leading Role, Best Actor in A Supporting Role and Best Actress in A Supporting Role in the next few days.

I don’t know about all of you, but I am very excited!

Thanks again for all your support!

Nicki Newton-Plater
Movie Critical Founder and Head Writer

*All photos are property of and copyright to page owner

Lincoln (2012)

Year: 2012
Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Before I begin my review….

                It’s getting close! Less than two weeks to go till the 85th Academy Awards! The countdown is on and I am getting to the point where I feel as though I can start to make informed predictions about who I believe will take home the big awards.

So we have our sixth nominated film to be reviewed, Lincoln. I think everyone, including me, knows that this film has at least one guaranteed Oscar.

Lincoln is nominated for a massive 12 Academy Awards. I can tell you with complete certainty that it will not be walking away with all 12. It is nominated for Best Picture as well as Best Director for Steven Spielberg. I’m not completely convinced that this is the year’s Best Picture winner. Following all the other award nights, I have an idea which film may be having its name engraved in one of the pillars lining the Dolby Theatre (once the Kodak Theatre)stairs, and Lincoln will be a major surprise if it leapfrogs over that film to take the big one.

However, Spielberg wouldn’t be completely out of line if he let it be known that he is preparing his acceptance speech. We all know he is a brilliant director, he has exhibited this numerous times. Lincoln once again exhibits how brilliant a director he really is. I believe he is the front runner in this category.

Tommy Lee Jones took home the Screen Actor’s Guild award for Best Supporting Actor and he is very deserving. However, he does have tough competition from Christoph Waltz. My personal opinion is that Waltz has just that little bit more than Jones and should be taking home the award. The Best Supporting Actor category is a tough category this year, there have been some fantastic performances this year.

Poor Sally Field (if you can say that, she’s had a pretty damn good career thus far). Anyone who is nominated for Best Supporting Actress this year is pretty much ruled out of the equation with Anne Hathaway the front runner. If Hathaway didn’t give the performance she had in Les Miserables, I believe Field would have been the front runner instead.

And then…we have Daniel Day-Lewis. Yes he is brilliant and yes, he will win his third Academy Award. Now this is a big thing. There are only five people who have won three acting Oscars in history, including Katharine Hepburn who has actually won four. It looks like Day-Lewis will be the sixth to join this coveted group.


There is no doubt the Steven Spielberg is a great director. There is no doubt that Daniel Day-Lewis is an amazing actor. So there was really no doubt about whether Lincoln was going to be a success.

Lincoln is a film which is very well made and acted, but the fact remains, it is a film which will mean more to you if you are American. It is a great history lesson for those who only know the basics about Abraham Lincoln and the American Civil War, but there is a lack of emotion which you really want to feel for this great man.

Lincoln focuses primarily on Abraham Lincoln’s (Daniel Day-Lewis) final presidential years when he was instrumental in abolishing slavery. The passing of the amendment in the House of Representatives is covered in depth and shows what went on behind closed doors in order to make sure the outcome that Lincoln strived for was achieved. Away from politics, Lincoln also shows how strained his private life was during these years. His wife, Mary Todd Lincoln (Sally Field) struggles with their middle son’s death years before and their oldest son, Robert (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) struggles with trying to win his father’s affection and at the same time, become his own person.

Spielberg once again proves that he is an amazing story teller. He goes through the passing of the amendment in such detail that if you didn’t know much about Lincoln and the civil war before, you will feel as if you know everything when you leave the cinema. He does go through it in such detail that it can make the film a bit slow and also make it a tad boring in certain parts. You can understand why Spielberg has tried to include all this as he wants you to exactly know step by step how and why this amendment was passed. It is part of Spielberg’s job as a storyteller to entertain as well as inform, and he ensures he gives you the best history lesson he possibly can.

The main thing missing from Lincoln is the emotion in the film. You come out of the film thinking about how you have just seen a good film, but you are not over-whelmed in the way you are when you have seen a great film. There are so many great things about Lincoln, but it lacks the ‘wow’ factor and the ability to make the audience connect on an emotional level. It is not for lack of wanting or trying either. Lincoln is such a heroic historical figure that you want nothing more than to cry at his successes and failures. however, thi

However, Americans may have a greater emotional connection to this film as it is part of their history and it is a film which they will be able to relate to. For those who are not American may not have this emotional connection for this reason.

Don’t be alarmed, there is plenty to marvel at in this film. Visually it is a brilliant recreation of Civil War torn America. There is some beautiful cinematography, such as the depiction of Lincoln’s dream and Lincoln’s final speech.

Yet, it is the acting in Lincoln that truly makes the film. It is impossible to see anyone ever playing Abraham Lincoln again and being quite as convincing as Daniel Day-Lewis. Day-Lewis, who is known for becoming his characters on and off screen when making a movie, is the great man. Lincoln is surely looking down from Heaven and smiling on Day-Lewis. He does him so much justice and from what we know about Lincoln that has been carried down through the years, he is the absolute embodiment of him.

Sally Field is also incredible. Her performance is so heartfelt and shows a wife and mother who has given everything to her family.

Tommy Lee Jones is also brilliant as Thaddeus Stevens. It’s a strong performance and one with so much charisma.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is not on screen for a tremendous amount of time, but for the time which he is, he is very good. He has one particular scene with Day-Lewis when he shows that he has it in him to become one of the greats in the years to come.

Lincoln is a wonderful history lesson, but misses that emotional chord that would make it a great.


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Silver Linings Playbook


Year: 2012
Director: David O. Russell
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver

Before I begin my review…
Silver Linings Playbook is the first movie in 31 years to have nominations in all four acting categories and for Best Film and Best Director.

That is pretty damn impressive. The last film to do this was Reds back in 1982. Come the night, Reds took out Best Actress In A Supporting Role for Maureen Stapleton and Best Director for Warren Beatty.

So what has Silver Linings Playbook got a good shot at?

One would think they surely have to win at least one considering they have nominations in all the major categories. Not necessarily, but it is definitely in contention.

So let’s start with Silver Linings Playbooks’ odds for Best Picture. Very good movie, but it will be a surprise winner if it takes home the big one. At the Toronto International Film Festival it took out the top Audience Award so that is saying something for it, but it does have very stiff competition at the Academy Awards later this month.

David O. Russell for director….he has a very unique method of direction with the improvisational style of directing his actors and his methods of editing. There is no doubt about it, Russell brings out the best in his actors. He directed both Christian Bale and Melissa Leo to their first Oscars for The Fighter and you don’t direct all four of your lead actors to nominations if you are not exceptionally talented. He does have a good chance at taking home his prize this year.

Silver Linings Playbook is without a doubt Bradley Cooper’s best role to date. His nomination is very much deserved, but a win seems a bit out of reach with the front-runner being Daniel Day Lewis and followed closely by Hugh Jackman, who won the Golden Globe over Cooper.

The same can be said for Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver. Both fantastic performances and well deserved nominations, but both have a lot of competition.

It is Jennifer Lawrence who is the greatest Oscar chance for Silver Linings Playbook. Is there anything this girl can’t do? It is her second Oscar nomination at age 22 and the world is her oyster. Her biggest competition is Jessica Chastain. However since winning the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Musical/ Comedy and also Best Actress at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, all eyes are in Lawrence. Considering the SAG’s and the Oscars are voted by acting peers, it would seem as though this is her year. Question is, is she deserving of her first Best Performance by an Actress In a Leading Role Academy Award?

Yes, she is.


David O. Russell proves once again with Silver Linings Playbook that he is able to bring out the best in each one of his actors and the sum of these performances lead to a wonderful, raw and heartfelt film.

While Silver Linings Playbook is being categorised as a romantic comedy, it is definitely not your typical rom-com. The heartbreaking and intense issues dealt with are never too far removed from the reality of the everyday person, but are ones that are not usually brought to your attention in a film like this. The characters have so many layers to them that are exposed in the film and are bought to life with some incredible performances.

Troubled Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) returns home to live with his parents (Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver) after spending time in an institution for his bi-polar disorder. He is determined to improve himself by being more positive and believes that he will be able to win back his wife, Nikki (Brea Bee) when she sees how much he has changed.  He then meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), an eccentric young widow and he believes she may be able to help him win back Nikki. However, both Pat and Tiffany are able to help each other out and change each other’s lives in ways they never imagined.

The best thing about Silver Linings Playbook is that it shows that a film doesn’t need to have amazing images, special effects or be somewhat of an extravaganza in order for it to be amazing. Silver Linings Playbook relies on its story, the emotions it evokes and characters that are portrayed in order to be a film that connects with people, and that it does.

At times, the film is almost uncomfortable to watch as bi-polar and other depression and anxiety related disorders are not uncommon by any means. What Pat and his family go through as a result of his disorder and also the mood swings of both him and Tiffany are very realistic. These scenes will hit close to home for anyone who has experienced anything like this before. It’s not an easy watch at times for this reason, but as the title suggests, the story plays out to show silver linings and you don’t leave the cinema feeling like you’ve been hit by an emotional steam train.

The story is great as it is original, but still slightly predictable. There are some funny moments, but some of the laughs are more like nervous laughter than laughter as a result of comedic value. It’s one of those things were you watch and it seems like it is funny, but you know that if it was happening to you, it probably wouldn’t be that funny.

It is the performances by the actors that make this film what it is. Bradley Cooper is brilliant in his role as Pat. He is completely believable in everything he does on screen and really gets the audiences sympathy. It is the best performance of his career thus far.

Jennifer Lawrence gives an absolute powerhouse of a performance. To begin with, taking the knowledge into the film that Lawrence is only 22 in real life, it does seem a little far-fetched to you that she is a widow and was married for three years. Yet, Lawrence has proved that she can act beyond her years and she is very believable in the part. When her character is angry, she is actually quite scary and it looks like there is a fire behind her eyes that would shoot down anyone who dare challenge her.

Robert De Niro gives his best performance in years as Pat Sr. His character is slightly eccentric, but not as much as his son. It is such an interesting performance as his character has so many layers and De Niro is able to show all these layers in his portrayal.

Jacki Weaver is also wonderful. She is beautiful on screen as Pat’s mother and as a devoted wife, who is trying to keep it together for the sake of her family. Her and De Niro work brilliantly together on screen. That being said, the family dynamics between Weaver, De Niro and Cooper are both evident and deeply heartfelt.

All the characters have so much depth, but they are all changing gradually throughout the film. It is the best example of character development and progression in a film definitely in the past year and maybe even longer.

Silver Linings Playbook is a beautiful film about those “crazy” people who are perhaps not so crazy, but just feel a bit more and see things that others don’t.