Mustang [SFF2016]

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Jun 092016


In the breathtaking and bracing French/Turkish feminist drama Mustang the performances from co-writer and director Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s striking and fiercely resilient young female cast are inarguably tremendous, and possess extraordinary range, but, for me, it is the assertive direction that is the film’s most exciting trait. You don’t often find a female-directed début film collect accolades as diverse as the Cannes Director’s Fortnight Prize, the Best First Feature Cesar Award, and an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. You can be sure, it deserves them. This film will floor you.

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Son of Saul

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Mar 082016


Son of Saul, the sensational, technically audacious and emotionally gruelling début feature film from 38-year-old Hungarian filmmaker Laszlo Nemes, was one of the best reviewed films at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Grand Prix. It then went on to receive near-universal acclaim and was awarded Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards. A horror film above all, this courageous work depicts two days in the life of Saul Auslander (Géza Röhrig), a Jewish-Hungarian prisoner working as a member of the Sonderkommando – Jewish prisoners enlisted to assist with the disposal of gas chamber victims for meagre rations – at one of the Auschwitz concentration camp crematoriums. Continue reading »

88th Academy Award Winners

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Feb 292016


The Oscars are over for another year, with the 88th Awards taking place today at the Dolby Theatre. It was one of the weirdest (and longest) ceremonies in recent years. The order of the presentation this year was meant to represent the journey through a film’s production, but that made sense for a mere two awards, and the ceremony was broken up by satirical clips, bizarre interludes, a troupe of girl scouts selling cookies to the audience, and live performances of the three nominated songs. Chris Rock did a stellar job as host, tackling the criticism about this year’s lack of diversity head on from his opening monologue, and crossing the line on several other occasions. Many of the presenters and winners took the opportunity to voice their concerns about diversity, equal opportunity, climate change and sexual assault awareness.

Mad Max: Fury Road led the way with six wins, cleaning up the technical categories including Best Editing and Best Production Design. I am sure everybody wondered if this would also be George Miller’s day too. The Revenant claimed three – including Best Director for Alejandro G. Inarritu in addition to Leonardo DiCaprio (Best Actor) and Emmanuel Lubezki (Best Cinematography), who were all-but sure things. Brie Larson claimed a win for Room (Best Actress), Mark Rylance landed Best Supporting Actor for Bridge of Spies and Alicia Vikander was deemed the Best Supporting Actress for The Danish Girl. The Big Short won Best Adapted Screenplay and Ennio Morricone won his very first Oscar, at age 87, for The Hateful Eight. As many predicted Inside Out, Amy and Son of Saul were honoured for Best Animated, Documentary and Foreign Language Films respectively.

But, it was Spotlight that won the first and last awards – Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture – coming through the preferential ballot on top to become one of only a handful of films to win Best Picture with only one other victory. The film’s tremendous ensemble, its important and topical subject, and the fact that it is almost universally admired contributed.

Some personal highlights from the ceremony and the complete list of winners can be found after the jump: Continue reading »

88th Academy Award Predictions

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Feb 232016


The 88th Academy Award ceremony takes place on Monday from 12.30pm AEST. We (Andy and Sam) have been keeping track of this rather crazy Season, reporting on many of the nominees and winners in the lead-up ceremonies. We have decided to reveal who we think will be taking home Oscars this year.

We have done our best to see as many nominees as possible. Apart from a few gaps in the Animated and Documentary categories, and shamefully ALL of the Foreign Language nominees, The Danish Girl is the only notable film with multiple key nominations we are yet to see.

If you are looking for help with your own predictions you might find assistance in a few categories that we agree on. In those we differ, sorry about that. There really isn’t a clear winner. You can find our predictions after the jump: Continue reading »

2016 BAFTA Award Winners

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Feb 152016

Mandatory Credit: Photo by David Fisher/REX/Shutterstock (5586119dt) Alejandro G. Inarritu and Leonardo DiCaprio - Best Actor EE BAFTA British Academy Film Awards, Press Room, Royal Opera House, London, Britain - 14 Feb 2016

The final stage in the award season every year is the BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) Awards, the British branch of the Academy Awards. At this point in the season – two weeks shy of the Oscars – the primary contenders are starting to look pretty clear, with the BAFTA Best Picture winner either cementing favouritism (Argo, for example) or building late momentum (see The King’s Speech).

While the awards this year were spread out fairly evenly, reflective of the rather strong field, The Revenant came out as the main victor landing five – Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Cinematography and Best Sound. Mad Max: Fury Road cleaned up most of the technical categories, claiming four. Carol, which has six Oscar nominations but appears to have little chance beyond Rooney Mara for Supporting Actress, led the field of nominees but was entirely shut out.

While Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu now seems set on winning his second straight Best Director award for The Revennt, after also being awarded at the DGA, and Spotlight and The Big Short are all-but locks to win the respective screenplay categories after their BAFTA and WGA wins, Best Picture is still a tough one to predict. The Revenant, which has the advantage of strength in numbers in that it is a contender in a lot of categories, is up against the SAG Best Ensemble winner in Spotlight and the PGA winner in The Big Short. 

Rarely is there a three-way split between the PGA, DGA and the SAG – but the PGA has slightly more weight in that it is a preferential ballot, like the Oscars. But, The Big Short seems set to lose Best Editing to Mad Max: Fury Road (thought it would win this category any other year), and a lone Best Adapted Screenplay win is hardly enough to justify the big one. Spotlight makes an identical claim, though seems to be even more of a long-shot in the categories it shares with The Big Short. The Revenant – which has had mixed reviews, and has no screenplay nomination – will be bucking a lot of trends if it wins.

Leonardo Di Caprio (The Revenant) and Brie Larson (Room) seem almost-certainties after adding to their Golden Globe and SAG statuettes for Lead Actor and Actress. Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies), my personal pick to win the Supporting Actor Oscar, didn’t have his closest competitor in Golden Globe and SAG-winner Sylvester Stallone (Creed), while Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs) followed up her surprising-at-the-time Golden Globe win for Supporting Actress. Both categories remain wide open.

Find out the full list of winners after the jump: Continue reading »

88th Academy Award Nominations

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Jan 152016


Overnight the nominees for the 88th Academy Awards were announced, and as usual we were up after the stroke of midnight to catch them as they were broadcast live. There has been a lot of discussion about this year’s leading contenders and we felt that the field would be spread quite deep – no stand-out sweeping many different categories, they will be shared around – and as a result it has been a lot harder to predict. While Spotlight went in the wobbly favourite for Best Picture, contenders in the shape of The Big Short and The Revenant have been building momentum. The number of Best Picture nominees has also been a hotly debated topic, with many pundits claiming that the number would not surpass eight. Would there be a surprise – could Pixar’s Inside Out, Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, or box office giant Straight Outta Compton sneak in? Would Sylvester Stallone follow up his Golden Globe with his second nomination for his portrait of Rocky Balboa. There are always stories around the Oscars, and while they may be dipping into a shallow pool of films, some amazing films have been recognised this year.

Well, leading all nominees with a whopping 12 was Alejandro G. Inarritu’s The Revenant. Now we predicted it would score at least 8, but when it picked up the uncertain Best Costume Design and Supporting Actor, we knew it was set to hit over 10. George Miller’s Mad Max Fury Road received 10 nominations, on par with our predictions, cleaning up the technical categories (although unfathomably missing out on an Original Score nomination). The rest of the field of nominees is spread right out with a host of films landing between 3 and 7 nominations. Joining The Revenant and Fury Road in the Best Picture field were The Martian (7), Spotlight (6), Bridge of Spies (6), The Big Short (5), Room (4) and Brooklyn (3). On the outside with multiple noms were Carol (6), Star Wars: The Force Awakens (5), The Danish Girl (4), The Hateful Eight (3), Sicario (3) and Ex Machina (2).

Check out the full list of nominees by category after the jump: Continue reading »

87th Academy Award Predictions

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Feb 192015


So Andy and I have made our Oscar predictions – some winners seem so certain, while with certain categories, it feels like it is up to the toss of a coin. Feel free to publicly shame us when it turns out we are completely wrong with all of our predictions (though we do differ on some).

After the jump see our picks for who we think will win the Oscar and who (out of those nominated) we think should take it home.

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The Theory of Everything

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Feb 082015


Adapted from the autobiography by Jane Wilde Hawking, ‘Travelling to Infinity: My Life With Steven’, The Theory of Everything deals with Jane’s relationship with her ex-husband, world-renowned astrophysicist Steven Hawking, his diagnosis of motor neuron disease and how, through her decades of support while raising their family, Steven would go on to write ‘A Brief History of Time’.

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