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 142016
 

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This week may be one of the strongest release weeks of 2016 – especially if you are itching to see Quentin Tarantino’s spectacular new film The Hateful Eight in limited release 70mm projection. I will feature it in next week’s releases, when it hits wider release. Oscar contenders Carol and The Big Short, along with the goofy-fun of Goosebumps makes for a busy week ahead.

CarolIn Todd Haynes’ exquisite adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Price of Salt is a beautiful film. After Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) spots the beautiful, elegant Carol (Cate Blanchett) perusing the doll displays in a 1950s Manhattan department store the two women develop a fast bond that becomes a love with complicated consequences. Every frame of this transcendent, heart-swelling attraction is a work of art, Carter Burwell’s score is lovely, and the two radiant leads are brilliant. Full review to come.

The Big Short – When four outsiders saw what the big banks, media and government refused to, the global collapse of the economy, they had an idea: The Big Short. Their bold investment leads them into the dark underbelly of modern banking where they must question everyone and everything. What a colossal achievement. Adam McKay achieves an improbable task here; turning the dauntingly impenetrable catalysts for the 2007-08 Global Financial Crisis (GFC), and the terrifying-to-consider effects, into a tremendously entertaining comedy-drama. He also never ignores the tragedy of the event and isn’t afraid to dig deep into the world of complex mortgage derivatives and use inventive approaches to make it accessible. The film is a damning indictment of Wall Street, from the angle of men who saw the crash coming and who begin to realise what their unexpected profit opportunity meant for the U.S financial system, and the rest of the world. Shaping up to be a serious Oscar contender, full review at the link.

Goosebumps – Upset about moving from the big city to a small town, young Zach Cooper (Dylan Minnette) finds a silver lining when he meets his beautiful neighbour Hannah (Odeya Rush). The teen is surprised to learn that Hannah’s mysterious father is R.L. Stine (Jack Black), the famous author of the best-selling “Goosebumps” series. When Zach accidentally unleashes the monsters from the fantastic tales, it’s up to Stine, his daughter and Cooper to return the beasts back to the books where they belong. LOVED the Goosebumps books when I was a kid, and this is surely going to get a pass on nostalgia alone. 

The 5th Wave – A desperate teen (Chloë Grace Moretz) tries to save her younger brother as increasingly deadly attacks decimate most of the Earth. Based on Rick Yancey’s eponymous novel, this has a top cast but I expect one I will have to catch on home entertainment.

Recommendations: Both The Big Short and Carol are wonderful, and landed in the top 15 films I saw in 2015. The former is looking like one of the top contenders for Best Picture. But, if you also see an opportunity to make it to a 70mm screening of Tarantino’s bold, unruly, nasty and unforgettable Hateful Eight, do not surrender that chance. Goosebumps has an unfortunate release slot, because it is surrounded by some heavyweight films, but it looks like a good deal of fun.  

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 142015
 

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How did the director of Anchorman and Step Brothers manage to pull off this remarkable achievement? Adam McKay achieves an improbable task here with The Big Short; turning the dauntingly impenetrable catalysts for the 2007-08 Global Financial Crisis (GFC), and the terrifying-to-consider effects, into a tremendously entertaining comedy-drama. He also never ignores the tragedy of the event and isn’t afraid to dig deep into the world of complex mortgage derivatives and use inventive approaches to make it accessible. The film is a damning indictment of Wall Street, from the angle of men who saw the crash coming and who begin to realise what their unexpected profit opportunity meant for the U.S financial system, and the rest of the world. Continue reading »

Dec 102015
 

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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”

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

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

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