There were not very many surprises on last Sunday’s Academy Awards.
I think the biggest surprise was Neil Patrick Harris as host, not that he deserves criticism because being Oscar host is one of the hardest jobs in Hollywood.
After an impressive opening number, he seemed unusually uncomfortable on-stage with jokes that fell flat and then he seemed rushed because the show went long by over half-an-hour.
Ironically, part of the reason why it went over were some of the best parts of the show—the acceptance speeches.
Patricia Arquette, Eddie Redmayne and Imitation Game screenwriter Graham Moore’s powerful messages about accepting who you are were all noteworthy.
Common and John Legend’s acceptance speech for Best Song was almost as powerful as their musical performance of the winning song “Glory,” the best of the night.
However, their musical performance was almost overshadowed by Lady Gaga’s tribute to the Sound of Music. Overall, it was not the best Oscar telecast, but it had some memorable moments including Idina Menzel introducing John Travolta by mispronouncing his name.
Opening this week is Will Smith’s latest Focus. Smith is still stinging after the less-than-stellar reaction to his last major starring vehicle almost two years ago.
After Earth, co-starring his son Jaden, was critically panned by critics and North American audiences did not come out as much as his previous efforts.
Thankfully, it did well in international markets and kept it from being a money loser. So after taking a little break, Smith has come back with a crime drama with doses of comedy from the filmmakers behind the under-appreciated Crazy, Stupid, Love.
In Focus, Smith plays a smooth and suave con-man who becomes romantically involved with an attractive young woman (The Wolf of Wall Street’s Margot Robbie) while teaching her tricks of his trade. However, she gets too close and he abruptly ends the relationship.
Three years later, they both show up in Buenos Aires on the opposite side of the same scam involving a billionaire race car owner and she uses the skills he taught her to throw the consummate con man off his game.
While it will not be a huge hit for Smith, this slick-looking film will give him the number one spot this coming weekend.
The Lazarus Effect is the latest horror flick from the producers of The Purge, Insidious and Sinister. It features an intriguing story about a group of scientists who appear to have pulled off the impossible—bringing the dead back to life. After a successful test on a deceased dog, the lead scientist’s fiancée is accidentally electrocuted and the experimental procedure is used in an attempt to bring her back to life. What could go wrong?
Starring Olivia Wilde and Mark Duplass, The Lazarus Effect will likely not be strong at the box office but may become a cult favourite with horror fans.