Feb 292016
 

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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 »

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 »

Jan 152016
 

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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 »

Jan 132016
 

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The Director’s Guild of America have announced their nominees, and these nominees reflect our predictions for the eventual Oscar. Spotlight and The Big Short complete their circle of powerful Guild nominations (SAG, PGA and WGA) with further recognition, cementing them as the Oscar frontrunners. Golden Globe winner for Best Director Inarritu (The Revenant) also appears, as expected. Todd Haynes (Carol) and Steven Spielberg (The Big Short) are the notable exclusions, with Carol’s Oscar chances uncertain (no PGA nomination, but lots of love from the Golden Globes and BAFTA).

Here are the nominees:

OUTSTANDING DIRECTORIAL ACHIEVEMENT IN FEATURE FILM

Alejandro G. InarrituThe Revenant

Tom McCarthy, Spotlight

Adam McKay, The Big Short

George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road

Ridley Scott, The Martian 

 

OUTSTANDING DIRECTORIAL ACHIEVEMENT OF A FIRST-TIME FEATURE FILM DIRECTOR

Fernando Coimbra, A Wolf at the Door

Joel Edgerton, The Gift

Alex Garland, Ex Machina

Marielle Heller, The Diary of a Teenage Girl

Laszlo Nemes, Son of Saul

 

Dec 052015
 

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The 2015 Awards Season has started and for those out there wondering what films are going to receive Oscar attention this year, the below winners suggest that it is going to be a very open and unpredictable year. Spotlight, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian and Carol are all amongst the big winners at the Gotham, National Board of Review and New York Film Critics Circle Awards – and all look to be legitimate contenders for a coveted Best Picture slot. Check out the lists of all the winners, and some commentary, after the jump:  Continue reading »

May 312015
 

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I made six visits to the cinema in May, double the amount of April but still relatively slim in comparison to last year. But, I have not been short of viewing options. Having gained media accreditation for the Sydney Film Festival I have been working through a bunch of screeners. Some amazing. Others average. Coverage will come during the festival so I can’t discuss any of these films here. I am seeing 30 films during the 12 days of the festival so June is going to be crazy. As has been a 2015 trend, and what I feel is a work requirement, I have been watching a lot of DTV films released on VOD platforms. There are some gems in there. It just takes a little bit of research, but a complete unknown could appear on your best of the year list.

Mad Men is over. Sam and I very much enjoyed finishing the show, after watching from Season 3 together. Very satisfying. Speaking of satisfying I finished Dragon Age: Inquisition on PS4. 85 hours committed and not a regret. I have started ‘My Career’ mode in NBA 2K15 – a whole new addiction. I have also been listening to a lot of music recently, and I discovered two of my favourite albums of the year this month – The Epic by Kamasi Washington and Frozen Niagara Falls by Purient. On the novel front, been reading Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. Every bit as great as I was led to believe. You can never have too much Bourdain in your life.

I watched a total of 32 films in May. Read about a selection after the jump:

Continue reading »

May 142015
 

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In cinemas this week: Mad Max: Fury Road, When Marnie Was There and A Royal Night Out.

Mad Max: Fury RoadGeorge Miller gears up for another post-apocalyptic action adventure with Fury Road, the fourth outing in the Mad Max film series. Charlize Theron stars alongside Tom Hardy, with Zoe Kravitz, Adelaide Clemens, and Rosie Huntington Whiteley heading up the supporting cast. What can one say? I cannot wait to see this. While such hyperbolic praise can often be tiring, I have personally found the barrage of ‘masterpiece’ claims fascinating. Could it really be this good? I will find out on Saturday. It is sitting on a historic Rotten Tomatoes score and if it contains half as much of the energy and lunacy as I have been led to believe, I am going to be a very satisfied film nerd.

When Marnie Was There – Sent from her foster home in the city one summer to a sleepy town by the sea in Hokkaido, Anna dreams her days away among the marshes. She believes she’s outside the invisible magic circle to which most people belong – and shuts herself off from everyone around her, wearing her “ordinary face”. Anna never expected to meet a friend like Marnie, who does not judge Anna for being just what she is. But no sooner has Anna learned the loveliness of friendship than she begins to wonder about her newfound friend. Based on the novel by Joan G. Robinson, When Marnie Was There is the newest film from Studio Ghibli, and the second feature film by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, the director of The Secret World of Arrietty. I have almost caught up with all of Studio Ghibli’s films. I expect I will see this eventually, but it might be on DVD.

A Royal Night Out – On V.E. Day in 1945, as peace extends across Europe, Princesses Elizabeth (Sarah Gadon) and Margaret (Bel Powley) are allowed out to join the celebrations. It is a night full of excitement, danger and the first flutters of romance.

Weekly Recommendation: Fury Road. Hell, if it is this good see it twice.