The start of summer is often accompanied with wanderlust, a desire to travel and get away. When the sun starts to shine a bit brighter and the days become longer, I myself am guilty of vacation daydreams, mostly consisting of some blue water and some good times. So what better way to celebrate the beginning of summer than with a movie that not only embodies the spirit of travel, but also the feelings of togetherness and change that go along with any journey. That movie is Changeland.

Written, directed, and starring Seth Green, Changeland follows Brandon, who after suspecting his wife’s infidelity, decides to invite his best friend Dan (Breckin Meyer) on a pre-paid trip to Thailand.

I had the privilege of attending a private screening of Changeland and even speaking to several of the producers of the film (one of whom is my cousin so this review may be a little biased). It was great getting to know more about the behind-the-scenes making of the film because I have to say, I enjoyed the journey Changeland took me on. The film is beautifully shot with absolutely gorgeous shots of Thailand. The soundtrack, by Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy fame, flows surprisingly well with the scenery and helps establish that lush and vibrant mood.

The story at the heart of the film is about a man coming to terms with changes in his relationship, in his friendships, and in his life. Breckin Meyer is a clear standout, often pulling Seth Green’s Brandon out of his doldrums with some much needed charisma. What I wanted more from the film though was a bit more depth into the relationship between the two men. The pacing is quick and with a lovely run time of 90 minutes, the film more so skids on the surface of its true potential for the friendship. But maybe it’s fitting for a journey of this kind. You go somewhere new, you meet some fanciful characters (like those played by Brenda Song and Macaulay Culkin) who just might teach you something about yourself, and you enjoy this short time of bliss with someone who’s known you through it all. The rest can wait until you get home.

ALL IN ALL: While at times it plays like an ad for Thai tourism, Changeland brings heart and friendship into this easygoing watch.

On the Ticket Stub Love scale, I give Changeland 4 out of 5 ticket stubs

Director: Seth Green

Cast: Seth Green, Breckin Meyer, Macaulay Culkin, Brenda Song, Clare Grant

Run time: 1 hr 26 min, Rated R

Year: 2019


I am always about two weeks late doing my Oscars post and I understand no one probably cares about the Oscars at this point, but no matter! Let’s revisit it! Welcome to Ticket Stub Love’s Mega Oscar Post!

As usual we will go over some of the best parts of the show, see how my predictions held up, and finish up with a red carpet segment. Moving into the show itself:

Melissa McCarthy and Brian Tyree Henry presenting Best Costume Design

So we didn’t have a host this year and I can honestly say that it was…different. I was put off at first when we jumped right into the categories and commercial breaks without a segue from the host. It was a little weird. What the show did instead was have actors present and introduce the segments as usual. While it did make for a bit of an unmemorable show as there weren’t a ton of funny moments, I have to admit I really enjoyed the fast pacing. The show felt quicker, even though it still went over the three hour mark. If the Oscars were experimenting with a no host show, I think it succeeded and proved that a host is not really necessary, though having one helps liven things up.

There were some great winners from the night! I loved seeing Regina King and Spike Lee receiving long-deserved recognition for their work. Wins for Black Panther in Costume Design and Production Design proved to be historic with Ruth E. Carter and Hannah Beachler as the first African American women to win in their respective categories. Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga electrified the crowd with a stunningly intimate performance of “Shallow”, which went on to win for Best Song.

Acting Winners: Rami Malek, Olivia Colman, Regina King, Mahershala Ali

Probably my biggest highlight was Olivia Colman’s shocking win! The vast majority predicted for Glenn Close to finally win an Oscar for The Wife after six previous nominations. While I do think it’s ridiculous for Close to go home empty-handed again, I can’t help but feel elated for Colman. The Favourite was one of my favorite (heh) films of the year mostly because of Colman’s amazing performance. She also truly deserved this recognition. Her shocked reaction is gold and her hilarious, adorable speech goes down as one of my all time favorites.

I wasn’t thrilled with some of the winners though. While I could appreciate Rami Malek’s win for Best Actor, the rest of Bohemian Rhapsody‘s (4!) wins were completely undeserving. You can see my thoughts on that film here. Green Book was another movie I had mixed feelings about and one that definitely should not have won Best Picture. That was a major step back for the Academy in my opinion.

Overall it was a pretty enjoyable show with some great moments! Be sure to check out my Twitter feed with more of my reactions from the night. Let’s move on to the winners and see how well my predictions held up (✓ if my prediction was right, ✗ if I was wrong).

Best Picture: Green Book ✗

Director: Alfonso Cuarón for Roma ✓ 

Actor in a Leading Role: Rami Malek for Bohemian Rhapsody ✓ 

Actress in a Leading Role: Olivia Colman for The Favourite ✗

Actor in a Supporting Role: Mahershala Ali for Green Book ✓ 

Actress in a Supporting Role: Regina King for If Beale Street Could Talk ✓ 

Original ScreenplayGreen Book ✗

Adapted Screenplay: BlacKkKlansman ✓ 

Animated Feature Film: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse ✓ 

Foreign Film: Roma ✓ 

Best Music (original song): “Shallow” from A Star is Born ✓ 

Music (original score): Black Panther ✗

Cinematography: Roma ✓ 

Costume Design: Black Panther ✓ 

Documentary Feature: Free Solo ✗

Film Editing: Bohemian Rhapsody ✗

Makeup and Hair styling: Vice ✓ 

Production Design: Black Panther ✓ 

Visual Effects: First Man ✗

Sound Mixing: Bohemian Rhapsody ✗

Sound Editing: Bohemian Rhapsody ✗

Short Film, live action: Skin ✓ 

Short Film, animated: Bao ✓ 

Documentary Short: Period. End of Sentence. ✗

I got a 14/24, which is probably the worst I’ve done in a while. Yikes. No matter, let’s move on to the red carpet!


Regina King in Oscar de la Renta

Constance Wu in custom Versace

Love this color! Breezy and beautiful

Glenn Close in Carolina Herrera

This truly is a dress you wear to win an Oscar in. Only the highest respect for Ms. Close.



Jason Momoa in Fendi and Lisa Bonet in Fernando Jorge

This couple. These pink ensembles. That scrunchie. 

Michelle Yeoh in Elie Saab

Eleanor Young didn’t come to play

Ruth Carter

Costume royalty



Sarah Paulson in Brandon Maxwell

Kacey Musgraves in Giambattista Valli

Gemma Chan in Maison Valentino

Ok so it is a little weird that all my Not So Best picks ended up being pink 


Awards season is officially complete and another Oscars has come and gone. Thank you for tuning into Ticket Stub Love for all your award show coverage! It’s always so much fun watching the shows and doing these posts so a big shout out to our loyal readers. Congratulations to all the nominated films and actors! I already can’t wait for what this year will bring us.


red carpet pics from

Oscar Predictions 2019!

Happy Oscar Sunday! I have to say, it’s been a long road this year. There’s been a routine of the Academy making a ridiculous new decision, facing backlash, and then retracting their move. It has all led up to today so here’s hoping for an enjoyable show with solid winners! My predictions for tonight are below so let’s see how many I can get right this year!

full list of nominees here

Best Picture: Roma

Director: Alfonso Cuarón for Roma

Actor in a Leading Role: Rami Malek for Bohemian Rhapsody

Actress in a Leading Role: Glenn Close for The Wife

Actor in a Supporting Role: Mahershala Ali for Green Book

Actress in a Supporting Role: Regina King for If Beale Street Could Talk

Original Screenplay: The Favourite

Adapted Screenplay: BlacKkKlansman

Animated Feature Film: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Foreign Film: Roma

Best Music (original song): “Shallow” from A Star is Born

Music (original score): If Beale Street Could Talk

Cinematography: Roma

Costume Design: Black Panther

Documentary Feature: Minding the Gap

Film Editing: Vice 

Makeup and Hair styling:  Vice

Production Design: Black Panther

Visual Effects: Avengers: Infinity War

Sound Mixing: Black Panther

Sound Editing:  A Quiet Place

Short Film, live action: Skin

Short Film, animated: Bao

Documentary Short: End Game

The Oscars are tonight at 8 pm EST on ABC! Red carpet coverage starts as early as 6:30. I will also be live tweeting so check out our Twitter page as well throughout the show!

Bohemian Rhapsody

Music biopics usually tend to follow a pretty straight-edged formula. The band or singer has humble roots and slowly starts to rise to fame. Soon after achieving stardom, complications ensue, the lead gets a big head and/or dissociates themselves with the others, certain influences take reign and basically a rift forms. After hitting rock bottom, the lead eventually reunites with their mates and returns to former glory. It’s been done a million times, it’s been parodied even. I remember watching the first trailer for Bohemian Rhapsody and getting excited though. A movie about the band Queen and the life of Freddie Mercury sounded like a fine idea. Maybe it would tell a new story, one that would do proper homage to a great band and a great man. Then where, oh where, did Bohemian Rhapsody go so wrong?

Bohemian Rhapsody has surprisingly been winning awards but not all of them are undeserving. Rami Malek is perhaps the only saving light in the film, with an excellent portrayal of Mercury. When all else goes down the drain, Malek is the one who takes the scene and commands it. It’s a great performance from him.

The film itself though is a mess. Honestly it is. It latches itself onto the formula tracks and chugs along at such a sluggish pace that I actually checked my watch several times throughout the movie. Not a good sign. One of my main concerns was that it reduces Freddie Mercury and his story to such safe territory. Positive queer relationships such as those with Jim Hutton, his longtime partner, are left to a footnote. His family and fellow band mates are seen only when needed, one-dimensional and completely void of development. Queen’s greatness as band is propagated by a hit single played every five minutes throughout. In one sequence, the names of U.S. cities are thrown across the scene haphazardly in retro style texts to indicate an international tour for the band. That’s the kind of the movie this is.

I understand liberties have to be taken when depicting history but some of the inaccuracies in the film are so glaring. While I appreciated the decision to have the story lead up to the historic 1985 Live Aid performance, to have Mercury discover his AIDS diagnosis beforehand, instead of a few years afterwards, feels explicitly insensitive. To have that be a turning point in the film for the characters and their conflict is just exploitative.

The whole Live Aid performance, while exceptionally shot, felt overlong too. I was devoid of any emotion by the end. And here is my other concern: I really felt nothing. Obviously that shouldn’t be the case with a soundtrack filled with Queen and a vibrant Mercury, but I never felt inspired, or excited, or even the basic sad or happy. I sat placid in my seat and eventually waited for it to be over.

ALL IN ALL: Queen deserves a better movie than Bohemian Rhapsody

On the Ticket Stub Love scale, I give Bohemian Rhapsody 2 ticket stubs

Director: Bryan Singer (I mean he got fired, so really I want to credit Dexter Fletcher)

Cast: Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, Joe Mazzello, Aidan Gillen, Tom Hollander

Run time: 2 hr 14 min, PG-13

Year: 2018

Green Book

In 1962, Dr. Don Shirley, an African American world class pianist about to embark on a concert tour in the Deep South, hires Italian bouncer Tony Vallelonga to serve as his driver and bodyguard on the trip. The movie Green Book follows what comes next, a true story of two men, their differences, and the mutual respect that grows.

Despite an underwhelming box office performance, Green Book has come out as an award season front runner. Winning the Golden Globe awards for Best Film: Musical or Comedy and Best Supporting Actor for Mahershala Ali, the film is unsurprisingly on its way to Oscar nominations. Controversies have crowded the film’s highway to success though. From inappropriate racial slurs during promotion to the uncovering of racist tweets to complaints from Shirley’s real life family, the film’s release has had its share of issues. I acknowledge these controversies. I also acknowledge the fact that Green Book, put simply, is a film made by white people for white people. It’s simply the audience. It’s a movie that would have won every Oscar a decade or two ago. It’s a movie made to let white audiences feel better about racial circumstances. I get that, because it’s the truth.

But there’s a certain charm to Green Book that also can’t be ignored. This can be fully credited to the great performances from its two actors, Viggo Mortenson as Vallelonga and Mahershala Ali as Shirley. Ali in particular needlessly proves his versatility as an actor, grasping the role of Shirley with full forged skill and class. He deserves the awards. The pair has this amazing chemistry that just bounces back and forth with such admirable ease. I kind of enjoyed the stereotypical Italian, New York characterization of Vallelonga, and Mortenson does a nice job owning his character’s development. The scenes between the two actors pan out with wonderful fluidity, and it’s the whole reason the movie actually works.

Green Book is an enjoyable watch. I appreciated the two men dealing with their prejudices and issues in different ways, cultivating a unique relationship together. It’s all together heartwarming. The plot did feel a bit see-sawish, for lack of a better word, at times, with one setback followed by another happy moment. There was one scene involving a police officer towards the end that was so ridiculously unnecessary and obviously put in to appease the target audience. I do recommend Green Book though. While it’s not without its shortcomings, the film has smart performances from its two main actors, who lead the story seamlessly in their journey together. It left me with a smile on my face, and I hope others experience that too.

ALL IN ALL: Green Book may seem outdated, but great performances and chemistry between its two leads fuels its central warmth and appeal.

On the Ticket Stub Love scale, I give Green Book 3.5 out of 5 ticket stubs

Director: Peter Farrelly

Cast: Viggo Mortenson, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardinelli

Run time: 2 hr 10 min, PG-13

Year: 2018




Hey! Long time no see! First I want to apologize for my lack of content in 2018. To be honest, I got into a funk and really couldn’t bring myself to post that much. One of my goals for this new year is to get back into writing. Hopefully I can do more reviews and maybe even update the site a little bit. With award season starting up again, I knew I needed to do my usual coverage so this is great motivation. Thanks to those still reading!

Andy Samberg and Sandra Oh hosted the 76th annual Golden Globe Awards

The Golden Globes were this past Sunday and I’ve got to say, I was pretty surprised with many of the winners. It was an interesting show. Andy Samberg and Sandra Oh did an ok job as hosts; some jokes fell flat but their great personalities made up for it.

I live tweeted throughout the show so check out my twitter feed for some of my opinions and reactions. As per usual, I’ll highlight some winners and then move on to the red carpet segment at the end. My ballot was trash this year so I’m not going to share my mostly wrong predictions!

Some highlights:

  • Best Motion Picture Drama: Bohemian Rhapsody…Honestly the last film I expected to win in this category
  • Best Motion Picture Comedy or Musical: Green Book…I was rooting for other films in this category too like Crazy Rich Asians and The Favourite
  • Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama: Glenn Close for The Wife…She’s had such an amazing career and I hope this carries on to the Oscars (she’s been nominated 6 times!)
  • Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron for Roma…Very well deserved, Roma is purely his magnum opus
  • Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama: Rami Malek for Bohemian Rhapsody…I was rooting for Bradley Cooper for A Star is Born (I feel bad for him, A Star is Born only got Best Song for “Shallow”)
  • Best Actor in a Motion Picture Comedy or Musical: Christian Bale for Vice…Love that he thanked Satan for the inspiration
  • Best Actress in a Motion Picture Comedy or Musical: Olivia Colman for The Favourite…Well deserved!
  • Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture: Mahershala Ali for Green Book
  • Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture: Regina King for If Beale Street Could Talk…So happy to see her getting the accolades she deserves
  • Best TV Series Drama: The Americans
  • Best TV Series Comedy: The Kominsky Method…I never even heard of it but ok
  • Best Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for TVThe Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
  • Best Actor in a TV Series Drama: Richard Madden for The Bodyguard
  • Best Actress in a TV Series Drama: Sandra Oh for Killing Eve…Yes! She and her parents are so adorable
  • Best Actor in a TV Series Comedy: Michael Douglas for The Kominsky Method
  • Best Actress in a TV Series Comedy: Rachel Brosnahan for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel…Golden Globes doesn’t like to repeat winners so this caught me off guard

Check out the full list of winners here!

Moving on to the Red Carpet! Our special guest correspondent Amanda A has joined us again this year to give her favorite and least favorite picks!

Amy’s Choices


Regina King in custom Alberta Ferretti

Lupita Nyong’o in Calvin Klein by Appointment

Julia Roberts in Stella McCartney

I love the pants!


Constance Wu in custom Vera Wang

I actually didn’t like this dress when I first saw it, but it grew on me. I love the sash and she looks naturally pretty. 

Halle Berry in Zuhair Murad

Halle is always so fine.


Gina Rodriguez in Reem Acra

Anne Hathaway in Elie Saab

I just don’t like animal print.


Amanda’s Choices


Regina King in custom Alberta Ferretti

That color! That shine!

Danai Gurira in Rodarte

That color! That train!

Billy Porter in Randi Rahm

Business in the front, party in the back.


Gemma Chan in Valentino Haute Couture

Serious Astrid vibes.

Jamie Lee Curtis

I’m about to buy me some Activia if it’ll make me look that good.

Lady Gaga in custom Valentino Couture

Because her hair matched her dress and that takes effort.


Constance Wu in custom Vera Wang

The bottom half is nice but the top half doesn’t really match.

Darren Criss in Dior Men

He deserved to win but I’m not feeling the flowered jacket.

Julia Roberts in Stella McCartney

I was confused.

Thank you again to Amanda A for her red carpet correspondence. Hope everyone enjoyed the Golden Globes and make sure to check back for more award season coverage!

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OSCARS 2018!!!!

This is almost two weeks late, but I don’t care! The Oscars have come and gone, but that does not stop me from celebrating and reliving one of the best nights of the year.

So without further ado, welcome to Ticket Stub Love’s Oscar Mega Post for 2018! For new readers, in our mega post we will be discussing the show, the winners, seeing how my predictions lined up, and of course the red carpet. As usual, joining us for red carpet coverage will be Amanda A. so a special thank you to her again.

This year’s Academy Awards were special for the 90th show. Jimmy Kimmel hosted again, and I can say with full force that I am just not a fan of his hosting. I was not crazy about him last year and for some godforsaken reason, the Academy invited him back to host. After Envelopegate (check out my post from last year for a summary), the Academy was obviously trying to right their wrongs, from redesigned envelopes to even inviting Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty to present Best Picture again.

Kimmel does not strike the right chord with me though. He played it safe this time and was able to deftly discuss the Me Too movement, but overall his hosting lagged. The visiting theater bit was unnecessary (how many times will we bring in the “commoners” and laugh) and he can never handle a Best Picture moment without it being awkward (like not allowing the winners to fully speak). The show itself, on the other hand, was great. The stages were gorgeous and I appreciated the well placed montages here and there to honor film history. What’s not a great show without deserving and history making winners too!

After The Shape of Water’s Best Picture win

Be sure to check out TSL’s twitter page for more play by plays of the night’s biggest moments as well. Let’s move on to the winners!  (✓ if my prediction was right, ✗ if I was wrong)

Best Picture: The Shape of Water ✗

So I wanted Shape to win this whole time, but I was scared off by Three Billboards‘ streak and the many predictions for a Get Out win. I should have went with my gut though, and I am thrilled by this win!

Director: Guillermo del Toro for The Shape of Water ✓  (Perhaps my favorite win)

Actor in a Leading Role: Gary Oldman for The Darkest Hour ✓

Actress in a Leading Role: Frances McDormand for Three Billboards ✓  (One of the best speeches, see: inclusion rider)

Actor in a Supporting Role: Sam Rockwell for Three Billboards ✓

Actress in a Supporting Role: Allison Janney for I,Tonya ✓

Original Screenplay: Get Out ✓  (So happy for Jordan Peele!)

Adapted Screenplay: Call Me by Your Name ✓

Animated Feature Film: Coco ✓

Foreign Film: A Fantastic Woman  ✓

Best Music (original song): “Remember Me”, Coco 

Music (original score): The Shape of Water ✓

Cinematography: Blade Runner 2049 ✓  (Important to note that Roger Deakins has been nominated 14 times and this was his first win!)

Costume Design: Phantom Thread ✓

Documentary Feature: Icarus ✗

Film Editing: Dunkirk ✓

Makeup and Hair styling:  Darkest Hour ✓

Production Design: The Shape of Water ✓

Visual Effects: Blade Runner 2049 ✗

Sound Mixing: Dunkirk ✗

Sound Editing:  Dunkirk ✓

Short Film, live action: The Silent Child 

Short Film, animated:  Dear Basketball   (Kobe Bryant is an Oscar winner?)

Documentary Short: Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405 ✗

I got a 19/24, which might be the best I’ve done in a while so I’m proud of myself!

On to the Red Carpet! I’ll give my picks first, then Amanda A.

Amy’s Choices


Greta Gerwig in Rodarte

As the fifth woman to ever be nominated for Best Director, Greta killed it this year with her film Lady Bird and she killed it in this dress! I absolutely love this yellow!

Lupita Nyong’o in custom Atelier Versace

I love everything about dress, from the gold to the details. It gives me serious Wakanda vibes and I’m here for it!

Jennifer Garner in Atelier Versace

JEN! That cobalt blue! The side swept hair! The cut and flow of that dress! This is glamour and this is a look.

Allison Janney in Reem Acra

Now this is a dress you win an Oscar in! I love the color and the flow of the sleeves.


Sandra Bullock in Louis Vuitton

Not my favorite dress, but I like it the more I look at it. Gotta love Sandy.


Emily Blunt in Schiaparelli Haute Couture


Zendaya in Giambattista Valli Haute Couture

This would be fine if it didn’t look like a curtain falling off the rod. 


Amanda’s Picks


Lupita Nyong’o in custom Atelier Versace

Lupita managed to look like a more perfect version of the Oscars statue. I love the gold and the sash detail which invoked the Black Panther. Wakanda forever!

Sandra Bullock in Louis Vuitton

She is looking radiant in this metallic dress

Adam Rippon in Moschino

Loved how Adam showed off his personality in this well cut suit. Also he has fierce face down!


Viola Davis in Michael Kors Collection

Shout out to Viola for daring to wear such a bold color among all the neutral dresses. Hot pink looks great on her! Unfortunately the neckline is kind of awkward and doesn’t flatter her.


Salma Hayek in custom Gucci

I love bling but this looks cheap and is a bit of an overload.

Saoirse Ronan in Calvin Klein By Appointment

It looks a bit like a prom dress. That pale pink does nothing for her and the fit is weird.

Thanks again Amanda A! Looks like another Oscars has come and gone. As always, it was wonderful to see deserving films honored. The fashion never hurts either! Congratulations to all the winners and nominees, and thank you for tuning into awards season coverage here at Ticket Stub Love!

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Oscar Predictions 2018

Happy Oscar Sunday! Before the best night of the year begins, here are my prediction’s for tonight’s winners

full list of nominees here

Best Picture: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri ? (Possibly Get Out?)

The reason I have so many question marks is because this is one of the closest races for Best Picture that I have seen in years! There really is no clear front runner. While I would love to see The Shape of Water win big, it might be the safe choice. Three Billboards has had a good run this awards season, but Get Out might be the dark horse here. When I first saw Get Out in numerous predictions, I was baffled. The preferential ballot system would favor a Get Out win though, so the logic makes sense and honestly the film is well deserving.

Director: Guillermo del Toro for The Shape of Water

Actor in a Leading Role: Gary Oldman for The Darkest Hour

Actress in a Leading Role: Frances McDormand for Three Billboards

Actor in a Supporting Role: Sam Rockwell for Three Billboards

Actress in a Supporting Role: Allison Janney for I,Tonya

Original Screenplay: Get Out

Adapted Screenplay: Call Me by Your Name

Animated Feature Film: Coco

Foreign Film: A Fantastic Woman 

Best Music (original song): “Remember Me”, Coco

Music (original score): The Shape of Water

Cinematography: Blade Runner 2049

Costume Design: Phantom Thread

Documentary Feature: Faces Places

Film Editing: Dunkirk

Makeup and Hair styling:  Darkest Hour

Production Design: The Shape of Water

Visual Effects: War for the Planet of the Apes

Sound Mixing: Baby Driver

Sound Editing:  Dunkirk

Short Film, live action: The Silent Child

Short Film, animated:  Dear Basketball

Documentary Short: Heroin(e)

Make sure to tune in to the Oscars tonight at 8 pm EST on ABC! Red carpet coverage starts at 7 pm. Jimmy Kimmel is hosting again year (why), but it should be a good show with a lot of great winners. I will also be live tweeting so check out our Twitter page as well!

Molly’s Game

This Ticket Stub Love review was originally posted on Aimee J’s website as part of a Film Friday segment. Check out my other Film Friday reviews for more inspirational/motivational movie recommendations. 

Now I don’t know too much about poker. Actually I know nothing about poker. I have always wanted to learn for years, but sadly my card playing skills are showcased best at Go Fish only. However, leave it to masterclass writer Aaron Sorkin to get me fully invested in a movie about a game I know nothing about. Only thing better: it’s all based on a true story.

Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut Molly’s Game is based on the memoir of the same name by Molly Bloom (played by Jessica Chastain), a former Olympic class skier who single-handedly built an underground poker empire over the course of ten years. Bloom’s exclusive high-stakes poker game saw the likes of Hollywood celebrities, business tycoons, athletes, and even the Russian Mob all sit at her table. When Bloom becomes a target in an FBI investigation, however, her empire comes crashing down with her only ally in her criminal defense lawyer (played by Idris Elba).

Now I know what you might be thinking, how is Molly’s Game qualifying as an inspirational movie for this week’s Film Friday? Molly Bloom does not exactly have the kind of success story worth admiring on the surface. She, unknowingly, got involved with the Russian mob, was arrested by the FBI and faced federal charges, and ran an underground game mixed with gambling, drugs, and trouble. However, similarly to how the movie portrays Molly Bloom’s character, there is so much more underneath the surface. Molly Bloom was an exceptionally talented and bright woman. Before an injury, she was an Olympic qualifying skier. She received an above average Harvard law school LSAT score. Most importantly, she was a woman who became successful in a man’s world. Bloom was the only one of her kind in the underground world of exclusive poker games, and though she experienced great losses, she always managed to pick herself back up and start over again. Even when all the odds were against her, Bloom still had the drive to make herself successful. In her federal court proceedings, Bloom kept her integrity above all else and learned from the mistakes she had made. If that isn’t a woman worth admiring, then I don’t know what is.

Aaron Sorkin is a legendary screenwriter, with such credits under his belt such as The West Wing, A Few Good Men, The Social Network, and Steve Jobs. The script for Molly’s Game is of course fantastic, with his trademark rapid fire dialogue practically bouncing off the screen. The characters are all so well fleshed out, with layers peeled back to reveal even more than what meets the eye. The development of Molly Bloom’s poker game becomes enthralling for the audience, who begin to feel her success and share her pain. In his directorial debut, Sorkin is solid. It is a well done film with Sorkin calling the shots and results paying off immensely.

Probably the strongest hold the film has is in its lead actors. Jessica Chastain is absolutely amazing, in what I would call a career best performance. She is transformed into Molly Bloom, from the cocktail waitress to the ruler of the world’s most exclusive poker game to a daughter who still has issues with her father. Right down to Molly Bloom’s voice, Chastain dominates the role and showcases both her strength and vulnerability in playing such a powerful yet conflicted woman. Her on-screen chemistry with Idris Elba is fantastic. Any scenes the two have together are instantly electrified.

My only complaint of the film would be the length, as it felt a little long towards the end. I still want to rewatch the film though, just to absorb everything and appreciate better the dialogue and story. Some poker details and plot points were lost on me so I think it warrants a second viewing. Molly’s Game is a movie worth watching. Molly Bloom’s incredible true story is brought to the screen justly by Aaron Sorkin, and Jessica Chastain’s powerhouse performance only makes it better.

On the Ticket Stub Love scale, I give Molly’s Game 4 out of 5 stars.

Director: Aaron Sorkin

Cast: Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera, Brian d’Arcy James, Bill Camp, Chris O’Dowd

Run Time: 2 hrs 20 min, Rated R

Year: 2017

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Trailers can be a blessing and a curse. They’re personally my favorite part of going to the theater, but sometimes they give away too much, or too little in some cases. Usually a trailer is what ropes my interest in a particular film and I rely on them, maybe a little too much, for deciding what I should try to check out in the future. I have to tell you, when I got a first look at Pixar’s newest film Coco over the summer, I was not interested at all, which is really surprising actually as I usually have so much faith in Pixar. For some unfathomable reason, I had no desire to go see Coco when it was released. However praise from critics and friends who went to see it convinced me to change my mind and buy myself a ticket. Never have I been so happy to be wrong about a film!

Coco follows music-loving Miguel, who accidentally enters the Land of the Dead and seeks the help of his great-great-grandfather in order to return back to his family among the living.

Coco is Pixar’s best film since Inside Out. For a studio that has heavily focused on sequels in recent years, Coco is a proud return to form to the originality and talent that has made Pixar so beloved to many generations. First of all the animation is simply gorgeous. Once Miguel crosses the intricately detailed bridge of marigolds to the Land of Dead, a magnificent palette of vibrant hues awaits with towering shots of an alternate land that simply took my breath away. I cannot stress enough how visually gorgeous of a film Coco is. The details in every single animation are so well placed and thoughtfully created; it is evident the immense work put into the film.

Perhaps the true reason I praise Coco is its story. Incorporating Mexico and the Day of the Dead holiday into the film allows the filmmakers to fully immerse the viewer and truly celebrate the rich culture. The film is not just about Miguel entering the Land of the Dead and trying to find his way out. It is about a boy with a deep love and talent for music, who has to confront his family’s ancestral ban on all things music. Miguel’s passion is so palpable, but so are his struggles to connect with his beloved family and figure out who he really is. It is an incredible journey for a 12-year-old boy, but one that many viewers can find a piece of themselves in. Miguel’s journey helps him not only understand his family better, but also realize his true gifts as well.

Besides from Miguel’s journey of self-discovery, the film places an incredible emphasis on family, and its warmth is inescapable. With its beautifully crafted story, I found myself having to repress my sobs (I’m actually not kidding this movie made me want to bawl). The heart the film has at its center is so great. The voice acting is excellent as well, with a breakout performance by the young Anthony Gonzalez as Miguel. Benjamin Bratt and Gael García Bernal also lend their voices and do fantastic jobs. The music in the film is worth noting as well, with great singing from the cast! “Remember Me” is an instant classic that should win the Oscar and “Un Poco Loco” is sure to be stuck in the audience’s head for the next few days. Just thinking about “Remember Me” brings back all the feels!

Coco is a film that brought out all of my emotions. With its humor and heart, the film is sure to be enjoyed by audiences of all ages. The animation is even more breathtaking on the big screen so this is a movie I would even recommend seeing in theaters if possible. Coco is the kind of film that reminds me of Pixar’s master storytelling ability and penchant to hit right at the core of self-realization and family. It is a well done film that celebrates Mexican culture, the power of music, and the importance of honoring our loved ones.

ALL IN ALL: Coco is yet another celebrated entry to Pixar’s log, with great warmth and superior animation that builds upon a story of family, music, and heart.

Coco: 5 out of 5 ticket stubs

Director: Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina

Cast: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Renée Victor, Alanna Ubach, Ana Ofelia Murguía, Jaime Camil

Run time: 1 hr 45 min, rated PG

Year: 2017