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 »

In Cinemas 28 Jan 2016

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Jan 282016


In cinemas this week – Spotlight, Room, Looking for Grace and Dirty Grandpa

SpotlightTells the riveting true story of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe investigation that would rock the city and cause a crisis in one of the world’s oldest and most trusted institutions. When the newspaper’s tenacious “Spotlight” team of reporters delves into allegations of abuse in the Catholic Church, their year-long investigation uncovers a decades-long cover-up at the highest levels of Boston’s religious, legal, and government establishment. Directed by Tom McCarthy (The Station Agent), Spotlight is a tense investigative dramatic-thriller, tracing the steps to one of the biggest cover-ups in modern times. Spotlight has a cracking script, an ace cast and a compelling story detailing a significant case of investigative-journalism and the resulting Pulitzer Prize-winning article, but it is so un-cinematic that sadly very little has lingered with me. Keen to watch it again, though. You can read Sam’s eloquent take on the film at the link.

Room – Both highly suspenseful and deeply emotional Room is a unique and touching exploration of the boundless love between a mother and her child. After 5-year-old Jack (Jacob Tremblay) and his Ma (Brie Larson) escape from the enclosed surroundings that Jack has known his entire life, the boy makes a thrilling discovery: the outside world. As he experiences all the joy, excitement, and fear that this new adventure brings, he holds tight to the one thing that matters most of all – his special bond with his Ma. No one can deny that Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay’s performances are incredibly moving, but Emma Donoghue’s cinematic adaptation of her own literary phenomenon does have its problems. Sam liked it more than I did – and her thoughts are at the link.

Dirty Grandpa – Jason Kelly (Zac Efron) is one week away from marrying his boss’s daughter, putting him on the fast track for a partnership at the law firm. However, when the straight-laced Jason is tricked into driving his foul-mouthed grandfather, Dick (Robert De Niro), to Daytona for spring break, his pending nuptials are suddenly in jeopardy. Between riotous frat parties, bar fights, and an epic night of karaoke, Dick is on a quest to live his life to the fullest and bring Jason along for the ride. Ultimately, on the wildest journey of their lives, “dirty” Grandpa and his uptight grandson discover they can learn from one another and form the bond they never had. Reactions out of the U.S have been outrageously, but perhaps justifiably, negative.

Looking for Grace – The long-awaited new film from Sue Brooks, the acclaimed and multi award-winning director of Japanese Story is an intimate, funny and profoundly moving story about the complexities of family life. When rebellious 16-year-old Grace (rising star Odessa Young) takes off, her exasperated mum and dad (Radha Mitchell and Richard Roxburgh) enlist the help of a close-to-retirement detective, and begin the long drive from Perth out to the West Australian wheatbelt to try to find her. On the journey, the two must confront the realities of their changing relationship to one another, and to their daughter. Wry, intriguing and poignant, Brooks’ unflinching reflection on the disruptive effects of both adolescence and middle age boasts her trademark sense of character, acerbic humour and eye for the hypnotic rhythms of Australia’s regional landscapes.

Weekly Recommendation – I don’t love either of the Best Picture nominees out this week –  Spotlight and Room – but many people do, and they are certainly worth a look. Two of the most popular and critically acclaimed films of the past year with 10 Oscar nominations between them. On paper they seem unmissable. At the very least, the acting is excellent. 

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 »

2015 DGA Nominees

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Jan 132016


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:


Alejandro G. InarrituThe Revenant

Tom McCarthy, Spotlight

Adam McKay, The Big Short

George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road

Ridley Scott, The Martian 



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


2015 Screen Actors Guild Award Nominations

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Dec 102015


The 2015 nominees from the Screen Actors Guild have been announced. The nominees here are often a very accurate guide of who will be the eventual Oscar nominees. We suspect that this year might be an exception as a number of these nominations are very surprising, given the reactions to the films.

Some of the Best Picture contenders, like Mad Max: Fury Road and The Martian are going to be recgonised in other areas, but it was still a surprise to not even see Matt Damon amongst the Best Actor nominees, having been credited the award by the National Board of Review last week.

Trumbo led all nominees with three – for Lead Actor: Bryan Cranston, Supporting Actress: Helen Mirren and Ensemble Cast. Mirren also received a Lead Actress nomination for Woman in Gold, another surprise, considering the strength of that category. No Charlotte Rampling for 45 Years? Johnny Depp continues to defy expectations by gathering a Best Actor nomination for the cooly received Black Mass, while Leo DiCaprio scores his first big nomination for his amazing performance in The Revenant. Another cooly received film to score love was Tom Hoopers’ The Danish Girl, with nominations for last year’s Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne (Lead) and Alicia Vikander (Supporting).

Both Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett were expectedly recognised for Carol, while Brie Larson and Saoirse Ronan maintained their co-favouritism (they have been splitting awards) for Best Actress. Only Christian Bale and Rachel McAdams were individually and deservedly recognised for The Big Short and Spotlight respectively, but their wonderful ensemble casts were no-brainer nominations.

Interesting to note: supporting Actor has become a rather competitive category. Steve Carell (The Big Short), Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight) and Sylvester Stallone (Creed) could all have made it into the already-strong field here and not felt out of place.

Lead Actor
Bryan Cranston, “Trumbo”
Johnny Depp, “Black Mass”
Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Revenant”
Michael Fassbender, “Steve Jobs”
Eddie Redmayne, “The Danish Girl”

Lead Actress
Cate Blanchett, “Carol”
Brie Larson, “Room”
Helen Mirren, “Woman in Gold”
Saoirse Ronan, “Brooklyn”
Sarah Silverman, “I Smile Back”

Supporting Actor
Christian Bale, “The Big Short”
Idris Elba, “Beasts of No Nation”
Mark Rylance, “Bridge of Spies”
Michael Shannon, “99 Homes”
Jacob Tremblay, “Room”

Supporting Actress
Rooney Mara, “Carol”
Rachel McAdams, “Spotlight”
Helen Mirren, “Trumbo”
Alicia Vikander, “The Danish Girl”
Kate Winslet, “Steve Jobs”

“Beasts of No Nation”
“The Big Short”
“Straight Outta Compton”

Stunt Cast
“Furious 7″
“Jurassic World”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation”

For the full list of TV nominees, visit the SAG website.

2015 Award Season Round-Up: Gotham, NBR & NYFCC Winners

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Dec 052015


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 »