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

BEST

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.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Sandra Bullock in Louis Vuitton

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

WORST

Emily Blunt in Schiaparelli Haute Couture

No

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

BEST

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!

HONORABLE MENTIONS

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.

WORST

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!

images from: https://www.vanityfair.com/style/photos/2018/03/oscars-2018-red-carpet-looks-dresses

 

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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

image from: http://www.impawards.com/2017/mollys_game.html

Coco

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

 

 

 

 

GOLDEN GLOBES 2018!!!!!

Awards season is finally here people! The Golden Globes were this past Sunday and the resounding theme of the night was TIME’S UP! From actresses wearing black on the red carpet to riveting speeches calling for change in response to the major sexual harassment issues in the workplace, the Golden Globes this year definitely had a more serious, but hopeful tone. Seth Meyers to me was a forgettable host because in the end, it was not about the jokes but more about the message being put forth by the winners and those in attendance. There were some great winners and surprises though! Perhaps my, and maybe everyone else’s, favorite moment of the night was Oprah’s incredible speech as she accepted the Cecille B. DeMille award. I believe everyone should take the time to watch or read her words so please do!

Also, for more of my opinions and live reactions to the show, make sure to check out TSL’s live twitter feed from yesterday!

Some highlights:

  • Best Motion Picture Drama: 3 Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, This one took me by surprise. I really thought it was going to be The Shape of Water so let us see where the rest of awards season takes us.
  • Best Motion Picture Comedy or Musical: Ladybird, So thrilled for Greta Gerwig (who was majorly snubbed for a directing nom). Get Out deserved more recognition though.
  • Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama: Frances McDormand for 3 Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Again I was not expecting this, but I really like Frances and she had a great speech.
  • Best Director: Guillero Del Toro for The Shape of Water, I had to report on this because I love Del Toro and was truly so happy for him! It was unacceptable, however, to try to play him off the stage. Like he said, give him a moment! It took 25 years to get there!
  • Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama: Gary Oldman for The Darkest Hour, such a legendary actor who also should not have been played off
  • Best Actor in a Motion Picture Comedy or Musical: James Franco for The Disaster Artist, Thought it was kind of rude when he pushed Tommy Wiseau (the man he played in the movie) away from the mic though
  • Best Actress in a Motion Picture Comedy or Musical: Saoirse Ronan for Lady Bird
  • Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture: Sam Rockwell for 3 Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture: Allison Janney for I, Tonya, well deserved!
  • Best TV Series DramaThe Handmaid’s Tale
  • Best TV Series Comedy: The Marvelous Mrs. MaiselRise Amy Sherman-Palladino, rise!
  • Best Actor in a TV Series Drama: Sterling K. Brown for This is Us, YES!
  • Best Actress in a TV Series Drama: Elisabeth Moss for The Handmaid’s Tale
  • Best Actor in a TV Series Comedy: Aziz Ansari for Master of None, Represent! Him and Brown were the first black and Asian actors to win in their respective categories.
  • Best Actress in a TV Series Comedy: Rachel Brosnahan for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
  • Best Actor, Limited Series or Motion Picture for TV: Ewan McGregor for Fargo
  • Best Actress, Limited Series or Motion Picture for TV: Nicole Kidman for Big Little Lies, an incredible performance and speech! Big Little Lies was a major winner of the night.

Typing out all the winners is a lot of work, so check out the full list here!

So I actually considered not doing a Red Carpet segment for this year’s post just because I figured the red carpet was not meant to be the focus of the evening. Then I realized how wrong I was. By wearing black, actresses brought even more attention to what they were wearing and united under a common front. This year’s fashion was more important than ever! So joining us again is Amanda A. highlighting a few of our favorite looks.

Amy’s Choices

Reese Witherspoon

Simple, clean, elegant

Angelina Jolie

So classy with the feathered sleeves and sheer overlay. I feel the need to pull her chair out for her and call her madam.

Dakota Johnson

Liked the front and then she turned around and I loved the back!

Penelope Cruz

That lace! What a bombshell

Mariah Carey

Mariah is flawless and I don’t know anyone else.

Amanda’s Choices

Issa Rae

That train! And that slit!

Kerry Washington

Love the shimmer and the shoes

Allison Janney

Sunning and so unique!

Also: Penelope Cruz

Angelina Jolie

Claire Foy

Jessica Biel

Thanks for joining us Amanda A! That’s the end of our Golden Globe coverage for this year! Next stop: SAG Awards on January 21st.

images from: http://www.elle.com/fashion/celebrity-style/g14751545/golden-globes-best-red-carpet-dresses-2018/

 

 

Baby Driver

I don’t know what it is about the summer that makes me fall so behind on blogging. I saw the film Baby Driver this past July but only now am I getting around to my review. I guess the imminent end of the summer movie season makes me buckle down and get to work. It’s not that I didn’t want to review Baby Driver. I did! It was one of my most anticipated movies of this summer. I think I simply had a hard time thinking of what to even say because I loved the film and wanted to adequately express that into words. Let me just try to right here, Baby Driver is a unforgettable ride.

In Baby Driver, Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a young, music-loving getaway driver being forced to work off his debt to a crime boss (Kevin Spacey). Hopeful for a crime-free life with his new girlfriend (Lily James), Baby is once again coerced into a new heist with even higher stakes.

Baby Driver is a fun movie. That’s the first thing I can say. Directed by Edgar Wright, who also directed the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Baby Driver is a pure 1 hour and 52 minutes of non-stop action. It is fast paced with its action and dialogue, leaving viewers as exhilarated as a passenger in Baby’s car. It is truly unlike others in its genre. Baby Driver has a sort of aesthetic that can be attributed to Wright’s artistic vision for the film. It’s gritty yet stylish, violent yet smooth. It is ultimately cool.

The cast is great as well. Ansel Elgort has landed a dream role as Baby and plays it well with a charm that needs little dialogue. Jamie Foxx and Jon Hamm are delightfully unhinged. Kevin Spacey, in my opinion, has played the same role one too many times so I was not particularly impressed but he served it well. The inclusion of deaf actor CJ Jones was also nice as I loved his character and performance. One of my few criticisms of the film would probably be how the female characters were portrayed. They simply served as incentive supporting characters to the men. I also wished Baby’s backstory was developed a little more, but the film’s fast pace leaves limited time to dwell so I understand the intention.

The music was probably another huge highlight of the film. Baby Driver incorporates a rich, eclectic soundtrack filled with music from various decades. Baby’s love for music allows Wright to create a fantastic connection between film and music, with action on-screen perfectly coinciding to the beat. The thrilling opening scene was just one of the many standout examples of this. One small random detail that I also appreciated was the film’s setting in Atlanta. It was refreshing to not have a movie take place in New York for once.

I’ve been recommending Baby Driver to many people because I think of it as such an enjoyable movie. It’s fun, fast, and thrilling with comedic yet action-packed scenes. It’s few shortcomings are made up for by its crisp aesthetic and movement. It is one that I look forward to watching again very soon.

ALL IN ALL: Baby Driver is a thrilling ride with a killer soundtrack.

Baby Driver: 4 1/2 out of 5 ticket stubs

Director: Edgar Wright

Cast: Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, Eiza González, Kevin Spacey, CJ Jones

Run Time: 1 hr 52 min, rated R

Year: 2017

 

 

Everything, Everything

Book adaptations can be a hit or miss in film, especially for young adult novels. Often times it is difficult to do a story justice when adapting it for the big screen, a transition that tends to lose the essence of a novel. Some young adult adaptations have been successful, few that come to mind include The Fault in Our Stars, Perks of Being a Wallflower, and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Others not so much. I read Nicola Yoon’s novel Everything, Everything recently in anticipation of the film. While not particularly groundbreaking, the book itself was pretty enjoyable. I am afraid I cannot say the same for the film.

Based on Nicola Yoon’s 2016 novel of the same name, Everything, Everything tells the story of Madeleine Whittier (Amandla Stenberg), an 18-year-old girl who has spent her whole life confined to her home as a result of her severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID). When the effervercent Olly (Nick Robinson) moves in next door, Madeleine’s life changes as she discovers the life outside that is calling to her to live it.

This adaptation could have been better. Much, much better. I was extremely disappointed with the screenplay, which gave a talented cast very little to work with. Amandla Stenberg is perfectly cast as Madeleine, but any pauses she gives or perceived lack of chemistry between her and Nick Robinson can be attributed to a poor script. It felt like bits and pieces of the novel were patched together quickly to make a rough outline of a story slightly resembling Nicola Yoon’s. Thus, large gaps were left that easily could have been filled. The film only runs at an hour and 36 minutes, and while I’m not saying it needs to go overboard, time should not have been an issue when crafting the story and dialogue.

The lack of development between the characters was disappointing. The relationships between Madeleine and her mother as well as Olly and his father were not built up enough. Olly’s introduction and interactions with Madeleine felt extremely rushed, along with most of the film. Characters scarcely mentioned in the novel were given unnecessary screen time, while others barely anything. Small details that should have been easy to include were left out for no apparent reason. The pacing of the film was so quick that I failed to become invested in what was going on.

While I do appreciate some additions to the structure, such as Madeleine and Olly acting out their phone conversations in the architecture models, the majority of the film simply felt weak. Again the cast was talented and Stenberg held up her scenes well, but the script could have provided some much more developed and touching interactions between the characters. Filling up the gaps with missing dialogue and scenes could have better rounded out the film. While its target teenage girl audience will most likely fall for the film and it’s attempted charm, others not so into young melodramatics might not be as pleased.

ALL IN ALL: Everything, Everything fails to offer anything new to the genre, with a rushed and patchy screenplay that provides little development for well cast characters.

Everything, Everything 2 out of 5 ticket stubs 

Director: Stella Meghie

Cast: Amandla Stenberg, Nick Robinson, Anika Noni Rose, Ana de la Reguera

Run time: 1 hr 36 min, PG-13

Year: 2017

 

Wonder Woman

This Ticket Stub Love review was originally posted on the site Chasing Dreams as part of their Film Friday segment.

If I’m going to be truthful, I have to admit: I am a bit tired of superhero movies. Not to say I don’t enjoy all of them, sometimes watching a superhero movie brings everyone together for a fun time. My problem is that there is simply too much nowadays. More and more heroes are being picked from the comics to have their own films and franchises with multiple contract deals and crossovers. After a while it is hard to keep track of and follow. The stories tend to feel too similar and follow the same formula. None of these films have stuck with me, until now. Not until the story of Diana Prince finally graced the silver screen. Wonder Woman is the superhero movie we needed.

Directed by Patty Jenkins, Wonder Woman tells the story of Diana (played by Gal Gadot), princess of the Amazons, who has been trained since childhood to be a great warrior. Her sheltered life on the island of Themyscira abruptly ends when a pilot (played by Chris Pine) crashes on the shore and tells of a “war to end all wars” going on in the outside world. Diana must leave her home and discover her true powers in order to end the war and save all people.

Right from the start it is clear that this is not your average superhero movie. Right down to even the posters, which show Wonder Woman in strong, dominant poses, the film portrays the character as nothing else but a fighter, a hero. It’s not about the fact that she is a woman, though it is both important and sad that this is the first female-led superhero film, the first to be directed by a woman at that. The film focuses instead on Diana’s journey to becoming the famed Wonder Woman. In the end, it is Diana discovering her true powers and destiny that help her become who she is and help her overcome the struggles she faces while fighting both her small and big enemies. How inspiring it is, to see such a strong woman single handedly run through no mans land from the trenches of war, fired at constantly with bullets as she deflects them all and fights back. The result is one of the most breathtaking sequences in modern-day action film.

What sets Wonder Woman apart from the other DC comic films, that have not exactly been met with the same universal praise and success? First I believe having a female director makes a world of a difference, someone who can successfully guide a film to focus on a woman’s strength and ability. Patty Jenkins direction is fantastic. Second comes down to basic storytelling. Wonder Woman’s story execution is flawless. The film explores Diana’s past, with rich characters that shape her character, while also introducing new ones to transition her into the next phases of her battle. The steady but quick pacing allows for just the right amount of exposition and action to create a balance between the two that other DC and superhero films have previously lacked. Nonetheless the story still manages to provide humor, heart, and surprises all while incorporating stunning action sequences. Seriously the action sequences are amazing.

Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman. There is no one else more perfect for the role. She is able to seamlessly blend both her lovable innocence and naivety as someone new to the human world with her warrior strength and intelligence. She views the world with a childlike curiosity and a heart that believes in the inner goodness of people. Gal’s Diana is a symbol of love, truth, and justice and it is a pleasure to watch it all unfold on-screen. Chris Pine is great in the film too, as the American pilot who acts as Diana’s link to the outside world as well as her love interest. Pine acted as the perfect supporting character to Diana with strong chemistry between the two. They played off each other perfectly.

I loved seeing Diana’s childhood and training on the island with the Amazons as well as her action packed war scenes, but perhaps what I appreciated most was Diana’s battle within herself. Her quest for justice was only made stronger when she realized the true power she held inside. Wonder Woman is the perfect superhero movie. The story, performances, direction, and action all made for an enjoyable and inspiring film that can be appreciated by all audiences. Wonder Woman is the superhero we have been waiting for and I cannot wait to see what is in store for her. I recommend everyone to go see the film!

ALL IN ALL: Wonder Woman packs a punch with fantastic action, humor, and heart.

Wonder Woman 5 out of 5 ticket stubs

Director: Patty Jenkins

Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, David Thewlis, Elena Anaya, Connie Nielsen, Danny Huston

Run Time: 2 hrs 21 min, PG-13

Year: 2017

image from: http://www.joblo.com/movie-posters/2017/wonder-woman#image-34095

 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

It’s summertime so of course it is the season for action-packed fun in the sun movies! Now the most recent installment in the Guardians of the Galaxy series came out last month in May but I feel it is the perfect kind of movie on a summer day. It’s funny and fresh and a whole lot of fun, which is why I am giving it my Ticket Stub Love stamp of approval.

Directed by James Gunn, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has the Guardians back as they continue to struggle to work together as a family while traveling throughout the cosmos. The mystery of Peter Quill (Chris Pratt)’s true parentage comes into play and sets things in motion for new alliances, betrayals, and of course mix tapes.

I think one of the great things about Guardians is that it’s not like other Marvel movies. It’s funnier and more clever, with stories that keep you entertained and casts you grow to love more than the overdone Avengers. That’s what made the first Guardians so great: the fact that it was different. Yes it has a superhero team, but the vibe is completely different. It’s light and colorful with retro tones and humor that can’t be matched. Did I think the second installment lived up to the first? Maybe not. Maybe the story felt a bit like it had been done before and the soundtrack not quite as memorable but it’s still a great film.

The Guardians ensemble is such a strong element of the films. Christ Pratt as Peter Quill, Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Dave Bautista as Drax, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Vin Diesel as Groot. Two words: baby groot! Definitely the highlight of the film for me personally. He’s adorable! The film had a solid story but perhaps what I appreciated most was the bigger role for the character Yondu, in a fantastic performance by Michael Rooker. Playing a new character, Kurt Russel brought great charisma and flow. Pom Klementieff was excellent as Mantis and I am excited to see what else is in store for her character in future installments.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is such a fun movie and the laughs never stop. It proves the series once again to be a sure audience pleaser with stunning visuals, lovable characters, and a story that manages to be full of action, humor, and heart all at once. While maybe not as strong as its predecessor, Vol. 2 is one that people of all ages can enjoy and one that I fully recommend.

ALL IN ALL: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is funny, fresh, and fun with its endearing and hilarious ensemble back again with plenty of action and even more heart.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 4.5 /5 Ticket Stubs 

Director: James Gunn

Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Baustista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Michael Rooker, Kurt Russel, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff

Run Time: 2 hrs 16 min, rated PG-13

Year: 2017

Beauty and the Beast

The more I think about it, the more I realize just how much I love the original Beauty and the Beast. The 1991 classic animated film has my favorite Disney princess Belle, but only recently have I begun to regard it as possibly my favorite Disney film. Which is why when they first announced the live action remake almost two maybe three years ago, I was absolutely thrilled. I marked March 2017 in my calendar and waited years for this film which has now finally arrived. So much waiting may have heightened my expectations just a bit as I began to feel a bit apprehensive about seeing the film and feeling underwhelmed. I have to say though, I had a magical and fun time watching Beauty and the Beast and I am sure audience everywhere will too.

Adapted from the 1991 animated film, Beauty and the Beast tells the story of intelligent and beautiful Belle (Emma Watson) who is taken prisoner in the enchanted castle of a fearsome Beast (Dan Stevens). Though at first at odds, Belle learns to look beyond the Beast’s monstrous exterior and into the kind heart and soul of the prince inside.

Beauty and the Beast was able to achieve a delicate balance between old and new. While many of the scenes and even lines are directly from the animated film, Beauty and the Beast also incorporated new elements into the story. I personally did not have a problem with the heavy reliance from the source material as I feel the live action remake was made to be faithful to the story and paid excellent homage to the original film. While a bit jarring at times, the new additions to the story brought nice depth to the characters in a novel yet familiar way.

The casting is what this film got right from the very beginning and as a result the performances were all fantastic. Emma Watson was the perfect Belle! I cannot imagine anyone else in the role as she harnessed both the inner beauty and the strength needed to play her character. My only disappointment is that I feel Watson could have brought more emotion to the table during some scenes, especially during the magical “Be Our Guest” number. This girl was just casually smiling like it was another Tuesday! Nevertheless she was great and I found her singing to be refreshing as well. Dan Stevens surprised me as the beast! He remarkably was able to let his character’s tormented yet loving emotions shine through all the CGI. His passion for Belle was absolutely palpable and electric during the Beast’s new and original ballad “Evermore”, a highlight of the film for me personally.

The supporting cast was flawless as well. Luke Evans simply was Gaston! I loved his confident performance as well his on-screen partnership with Josh Gad’s LeFou. While it sometimes felt like I was just watching Josh Gad, well be Josh Gad, he nevertheless brought great humor and surprising heart to his role. I cannot praise the enchanted castle objects enough as well! Ewan McGregor as Lumiere, Sir Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts, all wonderful performances that stuck true to their characters.

One of my main concerns for the film before I watched it was the CGI aspect. I had no idea how to visualize all the enchanted characters in a live-action form and was worried the film would come off as coated or even fake. However, I found the CGI to be well done with the Beast and the castle’s many enchanted objects. The sets and visuals in the film were gorgeous! There were times when I felt the film to have an almost awkward feel but I honestly believe it was just trying to get its footing. It is no easy task to bring such a beloved story to the big screen in such a grand way.

Fans of the original animated film may not embrace the new look to the film as well as the additions to the story, but I urge them to keep in mind that it is a remake. It stays faithful but also offers something new to audiences. I went in simply wanting to have a good time and I did! Many times I found myself smiling from ear to ear. From Belle singing on the French country hillside, to the fabulous “Be Our Guest” number, to Belle and the Beast’s first dance, the film reminded me of why I loved the original Beauty and the Beast so much. Children and adults alike are sure to enjoy the film with its blend of romance, adventure, magic, and heart. I bid you to give into the charms of Beauty and the Beast and of course, be our guest!

ALL IN ALL: While staying true to the story and offering new elements and depth, Beauty and the Beast is an enjoyable and magical film with great performances and visuals sure to delight audiences.

Beauty and the Beast 5/5 Ticket Stubs

EDIT: After enjoying this film so much, I decided to go back and watch it again in theaters, this time in IMAX (which is totally worth it by the way). I realized once again that I simply love this movie so much that in an unprecedented move on Ticket Stub Love, I am changing my rating from 4.5 ticket stubs to 5! It’s hard to explain my reasoning, but essentially there was nothing I did not like in this film. I believe the emotions and the experience the film gave me deems it worthy of a full rating!

Director: Bill Condon

Cast: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Stanley Tucci, Audra McDonald, Kevin Kline

Run Time: 2hr 10 min, rated PG

Year: 2017