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 »

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
 

2016-oscars-best-picturejpg-9c38811222cae63b

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
 

48301209.cached

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

 

Jan 112016
 

the-revenant

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association have selected the winners for the 2016 Golden Globe Awards, presented today. I didn’t get the chance to catch any of the ceremony, again hosted by Ricky Gervais, and apart from snippets of tweets and the odd photographed celebrity (Kirsten Dunst was particularly eye-catching) the winners were the business at hand. The Revenant and The Martian took out Best Motion Picture – Drama and Musical or Comedy respectively, claiming five awards between them, with Steve Jobs joining them as the only other film to end the night looking greedy.

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu won his second straight Golden Globe (Best Director for The Revenant to follow up Best Screenplay for Birdman), while Leonardo DiCaprio and Brie Larson staked their claim as the Oscar favourites, winning for their widely-acclaimed performances. Sylvester Stallone was honoured for Best Supporting Actor for his career-best work in Creed, while another veteran, Ennio Morricone, was also celebrated for his original score contribution to The Hateful Eight. 

So, what do these victories mean for the Academy Award nominations? Nothing. The voting for those nominees has now closed. What it does do is shift the momentum for certain films and individuals. The crossover between the two is becoming less predictable, but this is shaping up to be one of the wildest, most unpredictable award seasons in recent years. It is expected that today’s winners will at least receive an Oscar nomination, but apart from perhaps DiCaprio, who looks the likely Best Actor winner, the Academy could go a whole different way.

The Revenant’s success was surprising. It is an extraordinary film, and thoroughly deserved to win, but considering the loud negative reaction we didn’t foresee a large body of voters agreeing on it. The Martian’s victory (and Damon’s for Best Actor-Comedy) in an ill-suited category is less significant, but the fact that it beat the film with the most momentum and the widely predicted winner in The Big Short, does make one re-evaluate The Martian’s chances. Jobs too has been quietly landing acting nominations for cast Michael Fassbender and Kate Winslet, and Aaron Sorkin’s script, but both victories today (for Winslet and Sorkin) were unexpected. Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight is the film that lost a lot of momentum today. When it failed to win Best Screenplay, that film’s big trump card, we knew it was in trouble.

The winners in the film categories are after the jump. For the rest of the winners, visit the Golden Globes website: Continue reading »

Jan 052016
 

the-revenant-review-1

Heading up the 2015 Australian ‘Oscar season’ (as Jan/Feb is now known as) line-up is a worthy Best Picture winner in The Revenant. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s extraordinary film hits cinemas a week ahead of Carol, The Big Short and The Hateful Eight, and two weeks clear of Room and Spotlight. Also released in cinemas this week, in a clever piece of counter-programming, is raunchy adult comedy Sisters starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

The Revenant – While exploring the uncharted wilderness in the 1800s, legendary frontiersman Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) sustains injuries from a brutal bear attack. When his hunting team leaves him for dead, Glass must utilise his survival skills to find a way back home to his beloved family. Grief-stricken and fuelled by vengeance, Glass treks through the wintry terrain to track down John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), the former confidant who betrayed and abandoned him. Of an elite class of film, this is a starkly beautiful, purely visceral, astonishingly merciless survival-come-revenge spectacle from a filmmaker who is working at the peak of his abilities. Leo DiCaprio, who deserves to win the Best Actor Oscar this year, gets dragged through hell to bring us this performance. I was so immersed in the journey and astounded by Emmanuel Lubezki’s breathtaking cinematography that I could have watched this for hours more. It is a violent, gruelling and distressing film, but for me this is what the cinema is all about.

Sisters – When their parents place the family home on the market, siblings Maura (Amy Poehler) and Kate (Tina Fey) learn that they have one weekend to clean out the junk from their old bedroom. Unhappy with the news, the recently divorced Maura and her hotheaded sister make plans to throw one final bash to recapture their glory days with their former classmates. As the raging party begins to spiral out of control, the gals soon realise that there may not be a house left to sell once the dust settles. Fey and Poehler are the perfect team, and it has he mother of all crazy middle-aged house parties. But with such a substantial runtime one does have to endure some rough patches.

Weekly Recommendation – We liked Sisters – it is very funny and generous to its supporting characters, but the runtime does stretch the jokes a bit thin at times – but The Revenant is the one to see. I named it my #1 film of 2015, and Sam named it #3. We can’t recommend it highly enough.