Feb 292016
 

morricone

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 »

Oct 202015
 

burnt

Celebrity chefs are the new rock stars. People queue to see them, they sell out venues, command very high “performance fees” and have the attitude to pull it all off. In Burnt, our celebrity chef Adam Jones (Bradley Cooper) has fallen from grace and is plotting his comeback. What he craves is power, infamy, and perfection. Burnt is reviewed after the jump.

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May 132015
 

exmachinsert5

When I heard that novelist and screenwriter Alex Garland was adding director to his resume, I was in. Garland is a frequent collaborator with Danny Boyle – he wrote the screenplay for arguably two of Boyle’s best films in 28 Days Later and Sunshine and his novel The Beach was adapted into a film directed by Boyle. Ex Machina is a very assured debut work, and this is because he is working with his own ideas and he has learned how to express them cinematically having worked with great filmmakers like Boyle and Kenneth Lonergan (Never Let Me Go). Ex Machina is a twisty, engaging sci-fi thriller that ultimately falls short of the great genre works despite being a triple threat of inventive ideas, filmmaking craft and commendable performances.

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