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Everything I Learned: 5 things to watch this month

By now most of us are well aware of the results for the 2015 Academy Awards. However, unlike the times we are in our home countries for the Oscars and there is ample time to view the films before the ceremony, here in Japan we are left playing catch up since most of the movies have only recently been released. Below are five films you should catch in theaters that were nominated for and won at the Oscars.


Foxcatcher directed by Bennett Miller (14 Feb 2015)

Are you an only child? If so then you might not be able to relate to what is at the heart of Foxcatcher. For the rest of us who struggle to define our sibling relationships (are they rivals, role models, equals?), the story is all too familiar. Foxcatcher tells the story of US wrestler and Olympic medalist Mark Schultz, played by Channing Tatum, as he tries to get out from under the shadow of his older brother, fellow Olympic wrestler and coach, Dave by accepting to wrestle under multimillionaire E.I. du Pont, played by an almost unrecognizable Steve Carell. The complicated relationships Schultz develops with du Pont and his brother manifest in a tense build-up throughout the movie and both Carell’s and Tatum’s decision to depart from their comedic and romantic roles is a breath of fresh air for those who want to see these actors continue to pursue more complex characters.

Nominated for Best Director (Bennett Miller), Original Screenplay (E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman) Actor (Steve Carell), Supporting Actor (Mark Ruffalo), and Makeup and Hairstyling (Bill Corso and Dennis Liddiard)



imitation_gameThe Imitation Game directed by Morten Tyldum (13 Mar 2015)

The Imitation Game is based on the biography written by Andrew Hodges exploring Alan Turing’s life, his work during WWII solving the Enigma code, and his eventual prosecution for homosexual acts – then criminalized in the UK. Fans of Cumberbatch will continue to applaud his success following his roles in Dr. Who, Sherlock, and Star Trek Into Darkness and Britain must be happy to see two of its citizens up for Best Actor.

Nominated for Best Picture, Director (Morten Tyldum), Adapted Screenplay (Graham Moore), Actor (Benedict Cumberbatch), Supporting Actress (Keira Knightley), Film Editing (William Goldenberg), Original Score (Alexandre Desplat), and Production Design (Maria Djurkovic – Production Design; Tatiana Macdonald – Set Decoration),


Into_the_Woods-763837529-largeInto the Woods directed by Rob Marshall (14 March 2015)

Into the Woods finally gets the cinematic release Broadway fans have been waiting for. For those unfamiliar to the play, Into the Woods tells the story of a baker and his wife who are left childless due to a family curse put on them by a witch. Promising to end the curse if the baker and wife find the witch a number of magical items the story blends “Little Red Riding Hood”, “Jack and the Beanstalk”, “Rapunzel”, and “Cinderella.” This production will certainly entertain any fan of fairytales, Disney, or musicals and if I were to guess the majority of people fall into at least one of those categories.

Nominated for Best Supporting Actress (Meryl Streep), Costume Design (Colleen Atwood), and Production Design (Dennis Gassner – Production Design; Anna Pinnock – Set Decoration).


The-Tale-of-Princess-Kaguya-posterThe Tale of the Princess Kaguya directed by Isao Takahata and Yoshiaki Nishimura (23 Nov 2013)

Although it will be tough to beat the enormously popular Big Hero 6, the nominations for Best Animated Picture wouldn’t be complete without a Studio Ghibli film. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya is that film and one the viewers won’t catch in theaters, but can easily rent. The story begins when a bamboo cutter is out in the forest and stumbles upon a tiny girl growing from a bamboo shoot. He takes her home to his wife believing her to be divine and hoping to raise her as their own child. She continues to grow quickly and becomes a beautiful woman. When her father discovers a fortune in the forest in the same manner that he found his daughter he believes this confirms his daughter is divine and worthy of a life as a princess. Beautifully depicting what it means to live life here on Earth with all of its ups and downs, Takahata once again shows why Studio Ghibli will always be a force in this category.

Nominated for Best Animated Picture.


theory of everythingThe Theory of Everything directed by James Marsh (13 Mar 2015)

An overwhelming amount of the stories that movies depict tend to follow a character who overcomes the incredible odds against them. This theme, as old as storytelling itself, was shown a number of times in recent releases including Morten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game, Ava DuVernay’s Selma, Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken, and Jean-Marc Vallée’s Wild. The Theory of Everything is no different. Adapted from the memoir written by Jane Wilde Hawking, the film covers their romantic relationship, Stephen Hawking’s pursuit of a PhD on the topic of black holes, and his diagnosis and eventual struggle with motor neuron disease. Many of us JETs may be old enough only to know of Hawking in a wheelchair and with an automated voice, but the movie offers an opportunity to see what made the man the world-renown physicist he is today.

Nominated for Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay (Anthony McCarten), Actor (Eddie Redmayne), Actress (Felicity Jones), and Originial Score (Jóhann Jóhannsson).


*Note: Japanese release dates listed


Sean Mulvihill


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