Jan 262015


The Screen Actors Guild awards have been announced, and they contain both upsets and the expected. The Supporting Male & Female Actor and Leading Female Actor categories at the Oscars seem like a give, with Simmons, Arquette and Moore all wining in their respective categories at the SAGs. It’s almost impossible to imagine these three not being the Academy Award winners in 4 weeks time.

In what some would call a major upset, Eddie Redmayne took home the SAG for leading actor. Keaton would have probably been the favourite here, so this was a surprise. Both men won Golden Globes, but the SAG has to tip the scales in Redmayne’s favour. It certainly seems that the other three nominees are completely out of the Oscar race now.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role

Eddie Redmayne The Theory of Everything 

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

Julianne Moore Still Alice

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

J.K. Simmons Whiplash

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

Patricia Arquette Boyhood

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

The cast of Birdman

A full list of SAG award winners (including the television categories) can be found here.

Producers Guild Awards

The 26th annual Producers Guild Awards gave their top honour to Birdman, giving the film an edge over Boyhood in the best picture Oscar race.  How much of an edge? From Deadline, “Since instituting the top prize in 1989, they have deviated from the ultimate Academy (whose producers they also vet) Best Picture choice six times, most recently in 2006 when they chose Little Miss Sunshine while Oscar went with The Departed“. So while it’s not a given, it is a strong tick in Birdman‘s column, as is the win for ensemble cast at the SAGs – the industry likes Birdman.

The PGAs give absolutely no indication as to which animated or documentary film will win their respective Oscar categories, as PGA winners The LEGO Movie and Life Itself are not nominated in the best animated film or best documentary film categories.

The Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures

Birdman (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Producers: Alejandro G. Iñárritu, John Lesher, James W. Skotchdopole

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures

The LEGO Movie (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Producer: Dan Lin

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Documentary Theatrical Motion Pictures

Life Itself (Magnolia Pictures)
Producers: Garrett Basch, Steve James, Zak Piper

A full list of Producers Guild Award winners (including the Television categories), can be found here.

Jan 212015


Clint Eastwood’s filmography is a mixed bag of genres and intention, one that I haven’t spent much time with over the last ten years. I can’t help but feel that he is a real world representation of The Dark Knight adage of ‘Live long enough to see yourself become the villain’, but I was very much willing to give him and his recent output the benefit of the doubt. American Sniper held my attention and at no time was I bored. The action is directed in a classical manner that is works very well. Everyone gives interesting, controlled and charismatic performances. However, I could not accept the way it embraced a lie. American Sniper doesn’t give a damn about anything except for The Legend, a myth that it refuses to question or to ever let slip into a grey area. Every question raised is rhetorical, with no answer required or wanted. Eastwood has a smooth operator’s way with social issues, one that makes the audience feel like a protest has been raised without ever questioning the linkages and incidents that pulled us into the situation.

[Spoilers for American Sniper are included in the discussion ahead – Ed]

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Jan 212015


In cinemas this week: Clint Eastwood’s six-time Oscar nominated war, box-office smashing drama American Sniper, Reese Witherspoon-led biographical drama Wild and romantic comedy The Wedding Ringer.

American SniperU.S. Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) is sent to Iraq with only one mission: to protect his brothers-in-arms. His pinpoint accuracy saves countless lives on the battlefield and, as stories of his courageous exploits spread, he earns the nickname “Legend.” However, his reputation is also growing behind enemy lines, putting a price on his head and making him a prime target of insurgents. Despite the danger, as well as the toll on his family at home, Chris serves through four harrowing tours of duty in Iraq, becoming emblematic of the SEAL creed to “leave no man behind.” But upon returning home, Chris finds that it is the war he can’t leave behind. Reviews have been mixed, with some very harsh criticisms about the film’s political conservatism and jingoism. But, following its late surge into the Oscar discussion – which earned Cooper his third straight Oscar nom – it exploded at the U.S box office, breaking January records. Balancing tense battle conflict with Kyle’s PTSD back at home I understand this is as much a drama than an action film.

Wild - With the dissolution of her marriage and the death of her mother, Cheryl Strayed has lost all hope. After years of reckless, destructive behavior, she makes a rash decision. With absolutely no experience, driven only by sheer determination, Cheryl (portrayed by Reese Witherspoon) hikes more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, alone. Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddens, strengthens, and ultimately heals her. Full review at the link.

The Wedding Ringer - Doug Harris (Josh Gad) is a loveable but socially awkward groom-to-be with a problem: he has no best man. With less than two weeks to go until he marries the girl of his dreams (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting), Doug is referred to Jimmy Callahan (Kevin Hart), owner and CEO of Best Man, Inc., a company that provides flattering best men for socially challenged guys in need. What ensues is a hilarious wedding charade as they try to pull off the big con, and an unexpected budding bromance between Doug and his fake best man Jimmy. This could be dismissed as a lazy rehash of The Wedding Singer, but it has an amusing idea and if the chemistry between Gad and Hart is winning could be quite entertaining.

Weekly Recommendation: Wild is worthy of a look, but I suspect it won’t be the most cinema-essential title released this year. It is perfectly adequate home viewing, but if you want to catch up with the two Oscar-nominated performances in the cinema you won’t be disappointed. American Sniper is something of a wildcard. I just don’t know how I am going to feel about this film. Clint Eastwood has made some brilliant films in his career and if this is a return to form it is going to be a tough one to shake. I will be catching it this week, and I wait in anticipation. 

Jan 212015

still alice

Thanks to Icon Films , we have 5 x double passes to give away to STILL ALICE – in Australian cinemas from January 29.

Based on the best-selling novel, STILL ALICE brings to light the confronting, compelling and challenging world of early-onset dementia. Julianne Moore gives what many are calling the performance of her career as Alice, a 50-year-old Professor at Columbia; a gifted researcher and lecturer; a wife and mother of three grown children. On a day like any other she sets out for a run, taking the route she always runs but soon realises she has no idea how to find her way home. She is lost – a feeling that will only grow for her and those around her – as medical testing confirm she has Alzheimer’s Disease.

To Win
Tell us which category STILL ALICE has received an Oscar nomination in?

Send your answers, along with your name and postal address to moc.e1422368425srevi1422368425nueni1422368425lnona1422368425@mas1422368425 by 9pm on Tuesday 27 January, 2015.

Check out the terms & conditions of the competition after the jump.

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Jan 202015


Directed by Jean-Marc Vallee (C.R.A.Z.Y, Dallas Buyers Club), and written by Nick Hornby from Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. It is a biographical drama about a young woman determined to heal herself following a series of traumas that have led her down a path of reckless, destructive behaviour.

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Jan 182015


The 22nd Mardi Gras Film Festival will deliver the best in LGBTQI cinema at Sydney’s Event Cinemas George Street from Thursday 19 February to Thursday 5 March 2015 thanks to the wonderful programme put together by Queer Screen.

This year’s Mardi Gras Film Festival program has such a special selection of films from all over the world. However, I’m especially proud of the really strong Australian talent that features this year. It’s incredibly important to us at MGFF to support the local industry and get Aussie films shown to as wide an audience as we possibly can. And it’s easy to support our filmmaking industry when it produces the incredible films we’ve chosen for our program!                                -Mardi Gras Film Festival Director, Paul Struthers

Two of the homegrown titles are Drown, which explores the world of Aussie beach culture through the story of handsome young Sydney surf club champion; and Skin Deep (shot in and around Newtown), which sees two lost souls who discover that sometimes a stranger is the best person to open up to. Skin Deep received an Honourable Mention for Best Narrative Feature at the Austin Film Festival.

Other highlights include:
Mala Mala celebrates the trans* community in Puerto Rico, through the eyes of nine trans-identifying individuals. Among the group are business owners, sex workers, and even RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant, April Carrión.
Peter de Rome: Grandfather of Gay Porn tells the story of pornography art filmmaker, Peter de Rome, who captured the attention of the underground New York art scene from the ‘60s onwards (including Andy Warhol and David Hockney), with his erotic fantasy pornscapes.
Match, based on a Tony Award-winning play about an interview with an aging Julliard dance professor. This film also stars Patrick Stewart, Carla Gugino and Matthew Lillard.
Lilting, about a man (Ben Whishaw) who, in his grief, reaches out to his dead boyfriend’s mother, who is of Cambodian-Chinese heritage and doesn’t speak English.
Brokebank Mountain, which will be shown in honour of it’s 10th anniversary.

WHAT: Mardi Gras Film Festival
WHEN: Thursday 19 February to Thursday 5 March 2015
WHERE: Event Cinemas, 505-525 George Street, Sydney NSW 2000
MORE INFO & TICKETS: http://queerscreen.org.au/mgff/

Jan 162015


Overnight the 87th Academy Award nominations were announced, and in a race that was as wide open and unpredictable as any other, there were a fair share of surprises. Who would have expected Selma to land just two nominations (including one of eight Best Picture spots), for Gone Girl and Nightcrawler to land just a lone nomination apiece, and for Foxcatcher to nab five, including Bennett Miller for Best Director and Steve Carell for Best Actor, but not score a Best Picture nomination?

In the wide open Best Actor race Bradley Cooper score his third straight Oscar nomination for American Sniper, while Marion Cotillard snuck into the Best Actress field for Two Days, One Night. The Lego Movie and Life Itself missed out on nominations for Animated Feature and Documentary, respectively.

Birdman and The Grand Budapest led the field with nine nominations apiece, with The Imitation Game scoring 8 and Boyhood and American Sniper 6.

You can find out the complete list of nominees, with commentary, after the jump:

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