Wonder Woman Swoops Into The 2017 American Film Institute Top 10

The American Film Institute released their annual top 10 list and helped the eclectic and diverse crop of Oscar contenders in the list gain major traction. For starters, The Big Sick got a major boost with its inclusion and Wonder Woman got its first mention in any Best Picture lineup this season. Whether Wonder Woman can be a major threat going forward remains to be seen. But it’s nice that the film hasn’t become forgotten.

One thing that’s noticeable is how this lineup isn’t different from the Best Picture lineup on the Critic’s Choice Awards. The only film from the Critic’s Choice lineup not to be found here is Darkest Hour but that’s because AFI only considers films that are at least co-produced by the U.S. and Darkest Hour is a U.K. production. Some other misses include Mudbound, Phantom Thread, I, Tonya, and even Coco given how they’ve embraced animated films before (Zootopia, Inside Out, Finding Nemo, etc.).

AFI Movies Of The Year:

The Big Sick

Call Me By Your Name

Dunkirk

The Florida Project

Get Out

Lady Bird

The Post

The Shape Of Water

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Wonder Woman

Advertisements

What Makes A Film Considered Important Enough To Win The Best Picture Oscar?

When it comes to predicting what will win Best Picture, it typically comes down to what film feels important. It can be a film that tackles important subject matter like Spotlight which is about heroic journalists taking down pedophile priests, or 12 Years A Slave which is a harrowing depiction of slavery and racism. Also, it could be a film that Hollywood feels is important to them like Argo which is about American hostages in Iran being saved by Hollywood producers, or Birdman which is a satire depicting the cultural dominance of superheroes in Tinseltown.

thepost

This year, we have contenders that are important in a more obvious manner like The Post directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. The Post depicts the importance of the press and free speech which makes it timely in the era of Trump who has repeatedly blasted media publications he views as biased against him and he is going as far as to try and gut net neutrality which would make the Internet less free. It also depicts the story of Kay Graham (Streep), the first female editor of an American news publication, trying to expose the patriarchal U.S. government and their involvement in the Vietnam War. It is a story that provides shades of Hillary Clinton who became the first woman to become a Presidential nominee and ran against the chauvinistic Donald Trump in the 2016 election. Also, a film about a woman exposing the government’s dirty secrets is quite similar to the Harvey Weinstein scandal which involves multiple women coming forward with their experiences of being sexually harassed by the famed Hollywood mogul and other powerful men in the industry as well.

Its timeliness, importance, and even its star power should be enough for people to label The Post as a heavy frontrunner for Best Picture. However, let’s not forget that there are other films in the conversation that not only carry importance but are important in a way that’s more subtle.

CallMeByYourName

For instance, there’s the queer romance Call Me By Your Name which just won the Gotham Award for Best Film. It may be a simple coming-of-age story about a 17 year old in Italy who falls for his father’s 24-year old protégé. But it still manages to possess political importance. When actor Anthony Rapp came forward with his story about being sexually assaulted by Kevin Spacey when he was 14, Spacey cited his homosexuality in his response to the accusations. But Call Me By Your Name, which depicts a loving relationship between two males despite a slight age gap, serves as a reminder that not every gay male who pursues a younger male is predatory. The Kevin Spacey scandal has been painting the gay community in a negative light so a film like Call Me By Your Name proves to be a necessity.

Usually, when Best Picture is awarded to a film that’s timely and important, a film that is presented in a matter of fact, straightforward manner is what typically wins. Get Out is timely with its depiction of modern-day racism but it is presented in a darkly comical manner and has dominated the pop culture landscape more than any other film this year besides Wonder Woman. Ever since its release back in February, people have made Internet GIFs out of film clips from it and even trailer parodies. For example, the website Funny Or Die made a trailer parody reimagining Get Out but with the Trump family. If that were to win Best Picture, it would be historical because it’d be the first film helmed by an African-American male in his directorial debut, the second Best Picture winner in a row helmed by an African-American male (after Barry Jenkins helming Moonlight), and it would also be the first horror comedy to win the top prize.

getout

Then, there’s Lady Bird which has been winning the hearts of everyone. It’s the most well-reviewed movie of all time on Rotten Tomatoes with 185 positive reviews and no negatives. Also, so far, it has made about $12 million domestically in under 800 theaters. Even if it might be seen as a quirky indie, a Best Picture win would be significant because it would be the first female-driven film helmed by a woman to do so. In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal which has involved female artists being silenced and even blacklisted, Lady Bird winning Best Picture would serve as a reminder that more female filmmaking voices need to be heard. The plot of Lady Bird may not be topical but that doesn’t mean the film doesn’t have any resonance.

Moonlight, which last won Best Picture, was a simple coming of age story about a black youth discovering his sexuality. But it was still an important film because of what its Best Picture win represents. It’s the first LGBTQ+ film in history to win Best Picture and the first film with an all-black cast to win as well. It was a sign that there are stories about both communities that need to be told and the story didn’t need to be politicized to get that message across.

moonlight.gif

So, a film that wins Best Picture typically may have to be considered important enough to win and have emotional resonance. But as you can tell, there are different levels of importance. A Best Picture contender can be important because of the subject matter that the story depicts and/or because it captures the cultural zeitgeist. It can also be important because of what its win would mean for the communities that it represents.

Christmas Movie Advent Calendar – 18 Days To Go

Canada – Black Christmas (1974)

One of the more under-rated / under-seen Christmas themed horror movies, Black Christmas received mixed reviews back in the 1970s on its release. I feel this has likely aged rather well, some of the now familiar components utilized in such chillers have been done to death since, and thus appear fresh here. The slow-burning build-up, sheer obscene nature of the telephone terror, and a genuinely thrilling finale, not to mention some genre-appropriate acting, make this a festive film high on my recommendations.

Watch on YouTube

Watch on iTunes US

black-christmas.png

More Love Across The Board For The Shape Of Water With The 23rd Critics Choice Awards Nominations

The nominations for the 23rd Critics Choice Awards are in and even if the critics don’t vote for the Oscars, they still have an interesting insight into the Oscar race. For starters, the fantasy romance The Shape Of Water led with 14 nominations while Call Me By Your Name, Dunkirk, Lady Bird, and The Post racked up eight nominations apiece. Also, Patrick Stewart pulled off a surprise Supporting Actor nomination for Logan, proving himself to be a major dark horse, and The Big Sick managed to surprise in Best Picture which gives it a much needed boost after under-performing at the Gotham and Independent Spirit Awards.

But with those major surprises comes some major snubs. For instance, The Florida Project cracked the Best Picture field and got an expected Supporting Actor nomination for Willem Dafoe, but nothing for writer/director Sean Baker. Also, Mudbound proved itself to be a formidable awards player by landing nominations in Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actress for Mary J. Blige, and Cinematography for Rachel Morrison. However, it didn’t land a Best Picture nomination and disappointingly, no Director nomination for Dee Rees. Greta Gerwig managed to crack the Best Director category but who says Gerwig has to be the only woman to do so? Lastly, despite there being seven slots in Supporting Actress, there was no room for presumed heavy hitter Melissa Leo in Novitiate. After getting ignored here and by the Independent Spirit Awards which seemed like an easy get for her, she’ll have to contend on a wing and a prayer.

lady bird.jpg

Full list of nominees:

Best Picture 

The Big Sick
Call Me by Your Name
Darkest Hour
Dunkirk
The Florida Project
Get Out
Lady Bird
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Actor 

Timothée Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name
James Franco, The Disaster Artist
Jake Gyllenhaal, Stronger
Tom Hanks, The Post
Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
Daniel Day Lewis, Phantom Thread
Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

Best Actress 

Jessica Chastain, Molly’s Game
Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
Meryl Streep, The Post

Best Supporting Actor 

Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
Armie Hammer, Call Me By Your Name
Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water
Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Patrick Stewart, Logan
Michael Stuhlbarg, Call Me by Your Name

Best Supporting Actress 

Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
Hong Chau, Downsizing
Tiffany Haddish, Girls Trip
Holly Hunter, The Big Sick
Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water

Best Young Actor/Actress 

Mckenna Grace, Gifted
Dafne Keen, Logan
Brooklynn Prince, The Florida Project
Millicent Simmonds, Wonderstruck
Jacob Tremblay, Wonder

Best Acting Ensemble 

Dunkirk
Lady Bird
Mudbound
The Post
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Director 

Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water
Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
Luca Guadagnino, Call Me by Your Name
Jordan Peele, Get Out
Steven Spielberg, The Post

Best Animated Feature 

The Breadwinner
Coco
Despicable Me 3
The LEGO Batman Movie
Loving Vincent

Best Action Movie 

Baby Driver
Logan
Thor: Ragnarok
War for the Planet of the Apes
Wonder Woman

Best Comedy

The Big Sick
The Disaster Artist
Girls Trip
I, Tonya
Lady Bird

Best Actor in a Comedy 

Steve Carell, Battle of the Sexes
James Franco, The Disaster Artist
Chris Hemsworth, Thor: Ragnarok
Kumail Nanjiani, The Big Sick
Adam Sandler, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

Best Actress in a Comedy 

Tiffany Haddish, Girls Trip
Zoe Kazan, The Big Sick
Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
Emma Stone, Battle of the Sexes

Best Sci-Fi/Horror Movie

Blade Runner 2049
Get Out
It
The Shape of Water

Best Foreign Language Film

BPM (Beats Per Minute)
A Fantastic Woman
First They Killed My Father
In the Fade
The Square
Thelma

Best Original Screenplay 

Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor, The Shape of Water
Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani, The Big Sick
Liz Hannah and Josh Singer, The Post
Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Jordan Peele, Get Out

Best Adapted Screenplay 

James Ivory, Call Me by Your Name
Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, The Disaster Artist
Dee Rees and Virgil Williams, Mudbound
Aaron Sorkin, Molly’s Game
Jack Thorne, Steve Conrad and Stephen Chbosky, Wonder

Best Cinematography 

Roger Deakins, Blade Runner 2049
Hoyte van Hoytema, Dunkirk
Dan Laustsen, The Shape of Water
Rachel Morrison, Mudbound
Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, Call Me By Your Name

Best Production Design

Paul Denham Austerberry, Shane Vieau and Jeff Melvin, The Shape of Water
Jim Clay and Rebecca Alleway, Murder on the Orient Express
Nathan Crowley and Gary Fettis, Dunkirk
Dennis Gassner and Alessandra Querzola, Blade Runner 2049
Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer, Beauty and the Beast
Mark Tildesley and Véronique Melery, Phantom Thread

Best Editing 

Michael Kahn and Sarah Broshar, The Post
Paul Machliss and Jonathan Amos, Baby Driver
Lee Smith, Dunkirk
Joe Walker, Blade Runner 2049
Sidney Wolinsky, The Shape of Water

Best Costume Design 

Renée April, Blade Runner 2049
Mark Bridges, Phantom Thread
Jacqueline Durran, Beauty and the Beast
Lindy Hemming, Wonder Woman
Luis Sequeira, The Shape of Water

Best Hair and Makeup 

Beauty and the Beast
Darkest Hour
I, Tonya
The Shape of Water
Wonder

Best Visual Effects 

Blade Runner 2049
Dunkirk
The Shape of Water
Thor: Ragnarok
War for the Planet of the Apes
Wonder Woman

Best Song 

“Evermore,” Beauty and the Beast
“Mystery of Love,” Call Me by Your Name
“Remember Me,” Coco
“Stand Up for Something,” Marshall
“This Is Me,” The Greatest Showman

Best Score 

Alexandre Desplat, The Shape of Water
Jonny Greenwood, Phantom Thread
Dario Marianelli, Darkest Hour
Benjamin Wallfisch and Hans Zimmer, Blade Runner 2049
John Williams, The Post
Hans Zimmer, Dunkirk

Christmas Movie Advent Calendar – 19 Days To Go

Sweden – Fanny och Alexander (1982)

Ingmar Bergman’s illustrious career over the decades his was active had it’s fair share of films that warranted ‘his opus’ status. How do you choose from a selection of masterpieces exactly? In my view, Fanny and Alexander was as close as any foreign language film to potentially be strong enough to win Best Picture at the Oscars. It’s hefty running time was largely attributed to the television version, though the theatrical cut is a mighty movie in itself, Bergman demonstrates an expertise in his portrayal of the bleak and the private even with the massive ensemble here.

Watch on Amazon US

Watch on iTunes US

Watch on Amazon UK

current_652_219_larg.jpg

Q and A With Writer/Director Scott Fivelson On His Hollywood Satire, Near Myth: The Oskar Knight Story

Back in college, studying Media Studies, I delved into a huge project designing a production package for a film, real or not. I would very soon go overboard with the whole thing, on an exhilarating journey to an A+. On the brink of taking my screenwriting (over directing) ambition by the balls, I created a film dossier for ‘The Lives and Loves of Grace Kelly’, adapted from a biography by Jane Ellen Wayne – an actual book, but a made-up film. The finished project had details of the production, how they recreated a golden age of cinema, the casting (which included a fresh-faced Amy Locane as Grace Kelly, Tom Hanks as Prince Rainier, Sadie Frost as Ava Gardner etc), as well as the film’s awards campaign on its way to a very successful Oscar victory.

That kind of fiction-within-fiction mentality is a clear sign of creative passion and pride in craving to be part of the film industry. I got a strong whiff of this when I sat down to watch writer/director Scott Fivelson‘s genuinely funny Hollywood mockumentary Near Myth: The Oskar Knight Story. Portraying the gigantic legacy left behind by Fivelson’s film-making legend Oskar Knight, the picture shows not only a satirical view on near-enough a hundred years of film history, but also in its details and accuracy demonstrates a true love and respect for cinema.

Interweaving photos of Knight with great stars from yesteryear, as well as those of an isolated man, and footage of him with his wife, pull together to form a character so familiar you feel you were a fan of Knight, his movies, and his legendary long-time pursuit of the Oscar all along. Featuring some actual acting talent offering their opinions on the man and his work, decades of the director’s career depicted in documentary form, as well as Fivelson showing his own knowledge of Hollywood’s history – the ins and the outs.

I got the opportunity to throw some questions at Scott Fivelson about the project and his love for the business. 

ROBIN WRITE: Icebreaker, what’s your ideal snack/beverage when going to a movie theater?

Oskar Knight 5SCOTT FIVELSON: If you’d asked Oskar Knight – Knight being a classicist – he’d probably have said Orville Redenbacher’s. But you ought to come out and see what’s happening at the Arclight Hollywood. These days, their concessions include things like Australian Catch of the Day. You need to be Thor to finish the large Coke.

What are some of your favorite movies, and what impact have they had on you as a filmmaker?

Now that Daniel Day-Lewis has retired and the artform is over… He’ll come back. He’s gotta come back. “Shane, come back!”

There are so many movies I could name, but I’d like to devote the space to remembering a talent who was so special, and he worked in TV and movies. And that is the actor, writer, and director, Robert Culp. Recently, I’ve been watching and re-watching episodes of his groundbreaking series, I Spy, which fortunately is quite available online. He brought something so fresh to the screen that it can only be defined as Bob Culp. Bill Cosby was equally brilliant in the series and he took home the Emmy every year, not Culp, who was graciousness personified, and neither of them ever said the words black or white.

Robert Culp had a long and prolific career, but where it all came together for him like I Spy again – in a haunting noir way – was the film, Hickey & Boggs, which he also directed – with such an L.A.-world-weary soulfulness.

His talent is greatly missed.

What did your parents do? Any involvement or interest in movies for them?

My mom was fan bananas for the Oscars. My dad, he was more interested in who won the U.S. Open (golf).

They are greatly missed too. They’re probably hangin’ out with Culp.

What movie stars have you adoreor admired?

I think I’ve been pretty clear on Daniel Day-Lewis and Robert Culp. Add to the list – Colin Farrell. Or anyone Irish who’s ever taken an acting class. But most especially Colin Farrell. And Peter O’Toole, who when he finally received his Oscar – his long-overdue honorary one – announced to the auditorium, “You are ALL… very, very good.” Yes, he was.

I’d love to work with Rooney Mara. Brit Marling. Guy Pearce. John Hawkes. They are actors I’m continually inspired by. Many others.

Oskar Knight 3

So, the Oskar Knight film, although a mockumentary, it has some real truths about Hollywood. What are your own peeves regarding actual people in history who had to wait so long to win the Oscar?

In Near Myth: The Oskar Knight Story, we’re not just telling the story of a director who worked year in and year out in the eternal hope of winning the Oscar… until he finally did… or didn’t… or did… no spoilers here. (You can Google it if you want. We won’t stop you.) It’s a tragicomedy about a man whose glass was seven-eighths full for a very long time. It’s a Hollywood story.

Who are some of the characters based on, whether obvious or not?

Orson Welles, Orson Welles, and Orson Welles. Actually, Oskar was like a lot of the greatest directors, who were his buds – David Lean, John Ford, Truffaut, Fellini, throw in a little Coppola. Orson Welles is a character in the film, so Oskar isn’t Orson. Oskar’s Oskar.

There is a guy in the picture – serious white beard, gruff voice, wide-brimmed hat. That might be John Huston.

How did you cast this? 

I had the greatest luck with the cast on this picture – real-life stars who were happy to sit down in front of the camera, be themselves, and share their memories and feelings about Oskar Knight. Oskar would have been the first one to call it a who’s who of Hollywood: Academy Award winner Margaret O’Brien, International Emmy winner David Suchet, Portugese Golden Globe winner Joaquim de Almeida, Julianna Guill, Kristina Anapau, Rudolf Martin, Randall Batinkoff, Lawrence Pressman, Noel Neill, Jon Provost, Maya Stange.

And Lenny Von Dohlen, epic as “Oskar Knight”. He felt like he’d known the man.

And what made you do the narration yourself?

The thinking with Near Myth: The Oskar Knight Story was, here’s a writer/director making a film about a writer/director inspired by the lives of writer/directors. Narrating it myself seemed the right thing to do. It simply feels more personal.

Plus, Morgan Freeman was busy.

Oskar Knight 2

What are some of your favorite documentaries?

I’ll tell you some great ones on fellow filmmakers. George Stevens: A Filmmaker’s JourneyJohn Huston: The Man, the Movies, the MaverickWild Bill: Hollywood Maverick. Oskar knew all these guys.

Do you follow the awards season? What in your opinion are some of the best filmsperformances you’ve seen so far for 2017?

I haven’t seen the new Sharknado, but I’m watching for the screener in the mail. And you know, it’s not too late for an honorary Oscar for Oskar Knight this year… He can put it on his mantelpiece… right next to the Oscar he already has… or doesn’t… or does… No spoilers here.

What is next for you, personally and professionally?

I have a number of new features in the works. The Vicar’s Wife, a romantic-comedy mystery that I wrote with Caroline Allward. We’ve got a world-class cast coming together on it, and we’d like to shoot it around Somerset. It’s like a modern Pride and Prejudice, a very British picture.

Meanwhile, director David Barrett (Fire with Fire, starring Bruce Willis, Josh Duhamel, Rosario Dawson) is on board to direct our international cast in The Guardian Angel, a World War Two film about the making of a spy, also for 2018.

What else on the movie front? Watch for A Christmas Cop as well.

I also like to work in the theater. My one-act plays, Dial L for Latch-Key and Leading the Witness, which have been performed as a double bill in London and San Francisco, look like they’re heading for a latest booking, this time in Dublin.

Of course, with the 2018 Oscars on the way, my eye is on Oskar – and the international release of Near Myth: The Oskar Knight Story.

Thank you, Robin. It’s been great speaking with you. I hope your fans will follow us. Happy Holidays.

IMDB Page – Near Myth: The Oskar Knight Story 

Facebook Page – Near Myth: The Oskar Knight Story 

And remember – if Oskar Knight was still directing, Daniel Day-Lewis wouldn’t have quit.

Vote: Ranking The Films Of Steven Spielberg

For those that don’t know yet, 11 – 17 December is Steven Spielberg Week at Filmotomy. I’m not one for ranking movies generally, it’s a tough task at the best of times, especially with a film-maker who has such an abundance of excellent work under his belt. So, another mass vote is in order to hopefully establish a ranking of Spielberg’s films – with your help of course.

What do you need to know?

All you have to do is select up to 15 of Spielberg’s films you consider to be his best, your favorites, most admired, however you want to do it. Voting closes the morning of Sunday 17th December, and results published that same evening. Only films in the poll are those Spielberg directed. That said, some films have purposely been left off the list: the largely unknown Firelight (1964), short film Amblin‘ (1968), the made for TV movie Duel (1971), and his latest, and largely unseen, The Post (2017).

.

The Detroit Film Critics Society Awards Announce Their Film Nominations

The nominations for the Detroit Film Critics Society Awards, which will take place on December 7th, have just been announced. For the first time this season, The Disaster Artist gets a Best Picture citation and Patrick Stewart gets his first citation in Best Supporting Actor for Logan. Meanwhile, Tiffany Haddish gets a slight boost in her Oscar campaign for Best Supporting Actress for Girls Trip. Interestingly, despite being called the DETROIT Film Critics Society, they haven’t nominated the film named after the city anywhere.

BEST FILM

The Disaster Artist
The Florida Project
Get Out
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

BEST DIRECTOR

Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread
Sean Baker, The Florida Project
Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
Jordan Peele, Get Out
Geuillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water

BEST ACTOR

Timothée Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name
James Franco, The Disaster Artist
Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread
Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
Robert Pattinson, Good Time

BEST ACTRESS

Jessica Chastain, Molly’s Game
Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
Saroise Ronan, Lady Bird

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water
Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Patrick Stewart, Logan
Michael Stuhlbarg, Call Me by Your Name

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Tiffany Haddish, Girls Trip
Holly Hunter, The Big Sick
Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Melissa Leo, Novitiate
Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird

BEST ENSEMBLE

The Big Sick
Lady Bird
Mudbound
The Post
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

BREAKTHROUGH

Timothée Chalamet, Actor (Call Me by Your Name, Lady Bird, Hot Summer Nights)
Gal Gadot, Actress (Wonder Woman, Justice League)
Tiffany Haddish, Actress (Girls Trip)
Caleb Landry Jones, Actor (American Made;The Florida Project;Get Out; and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
Jordan Peele, Writer/Director (Get Out)

BEST SCREENPLAY

Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor, The Shape of Water
Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
Emily V. Gordon, Kumail Nanjiani, The Big Sick
Liz Hannah, Josh Singer, The Post
Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Jordan Peele, Get Out
Taylor Sheridan, Wind River

BEST DOCUMENTARY

The Defiant Ones
Human Flow
Kedi
Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond
Step
Strong Island
Whose Streets?

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
Cars 3
Coco
The LEGO Batman Movie
Loving Vincent

BEST USE OF MUSIC

Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
Good Time
Phantom Thread
The Shape of Water

Genre Blast: Beat It! It’s the Cops! – Police Genre

There is a certain mystique that swirls around those charged with our safety and well-being. Cinema tapped into it as early as 1903 when a posse overtook the bandits in The Great Train Robbery, inspired by a robbery committed by Butch Cassidy, himself a film favorite for seventy –odd years.

That film set the pattern for the genre by incorporating two key elements: 1) that realism, achieved through camera angles, crisp editing and location shooting, is key to audience involvement, and 2) conflict is most effective if the story is based on an actual event, an occurrence or situation with which the audience may already be aware.

The Great Train Robbery was 12 minutes long and cost an estimated $150 to make, setting a trend for both economy and compactness that was generally followed into the Sixties when the shine on the badge began to tarnish and stories became more complex, characters on the side of the law more conflicted. By the time the Seventies kicked-in, “rogue” cops and undercover agents became staples, adding additional layers of suspense and wiping-out the “white hat / black hat” premise of the likes of High Noon. Cops were now portrayed with the same frailties and objectives as their targets that frequently came in the form of other cops.

Whether it’s a frustrated and dedicated maverick taking on a situation alone – often against orders – or an escalated paramilitary effort launched due to the scale and sophistication of the lawbreakers, we like our law enforcement tales precise and no-nonsense. Despite the genre’s popularity and steady box office track record, only three films presented exclusively from the cops’ POV have been awarded Best Picture: (In the Heat of the Night (’67), The French Connection (’71) and The Departed (’06). The lead characters in each stepped outside the norm, for better or worse. Another, L.A. Confidential (’97) – probably the most acclaimed of the genre and one of only three films in history to win the “Big Four” critics’ awards – then, unfortunately, hit an iceberg on Oscar night.

Here are five others, chosen for their originality and long-term impact on the genre, that illustrate what’s best about the “boys – and girls – in blue”:

1364949964936.jpeg

Bullitt   Peter Yates   (1968)

By the end of the Sixties, cops had gone from being the cavalry that saves the day to a much more questionable entity. Dirty cop scandals and the repeated aggressive behavior towards peacenik protesters threw plenty of shade on the profession, which is why Yates’ film was such an anomaly – and a huge box office hit. Steve McQueen, the king of cool himself, takes the lead as a cop facing down hit-men, politicians and public consternation while dutifully ensuring that a witness vital to a conviction is protected long enough to testify. It’s a clean and crisp, straight-forward story of little chatter or proselytizing that’s mostly famous for one key element that changed filmmaking – the car chase. There have always been chases in movies, but Yates know that a good car chase is like good sex – a little foreplay goes a long way. He takes his time setting it up, plays a bit of cat and mouse with the characters and the audience to get them involved, then…BAM! A camera bolted to the dashboard takes us on a hair-raising, stomach-flipping high speed chase over the hills of San Francisco. Audiences squealed, having never seen anything like it, and it still impresses today. The film is also notable because McQueen’s character, in spite of all the violence around him, only uses his weapon once, as a last resort. Damn fine, no-nonsense storytelling.

infernal_affairs_2002_12-h_2017.jpg

Infernal Affairs   Andrew Lau/Alan Muk   (2002)

Moles and double-dealing are rife in this tale of Hong Kong Police infiltrating a deadly triad while, at the same time, the said triad deploys a similar strategy against the force. The suspense resulting from such a situation is elevated to greater heights by focusing the story on the two characters tasked with living double lives, constantly on the edge of discovery. Martin Scorsese basically remade the same story with considerable success in The Departed, but, while Lau’s film is less glossy, it is more powerful in its impact, giving rise to a successful sequel and prequel. The plot is thick but involving as lines between good and bad blur to the point of invisibility by the time things untangle – sort of – at the end. The film was both a huge critical and box office success, spawning a video game and a television series, as well as remakes in Korea, Japan and India (and the aforesaid USA/Scorsese film). This is a milestone of the genre.

tropa-de-elite-elite-squad-33-rcm0x1920u.jpg

Tropa de Elite (Elite Squad)   José Padilha   (2007)

Padilha directs this tale of the Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais (BOPE) and the daunting task of dealing with crime in the sprawling, impenetrable favelas of Rio de Janeiro. City of God screenwriter Bráulio Mantovani penned the script and the film was a cultural phenomenon in Brazil, only to be outdone by a sequel three years later. Although the film was a domestic commercial success and won the Golden Bear at the 2008 Berlin Film Festival, foreign critics – especially North American – were appalled by the portrayal of brutal paramilitary law enforcement and questioned the film’s moral compass. A decade later, however, we see the similar domestic SWAT forces maintaining control the streets in cities from Paris to St Louis. Amidst the considerable action sequences we witness relationships on both sides of the battle lines – and sometimes across those lines – all the way to the bitter and controversial ending.

700full.jpg

Fargo   Joel Coen   (1996)

If ever there was a “good cop”, it’s Captain Marge Gunderson. Despite being seven months pregnant and battling morning sickness, we quickly learn that she is the brains of the Brainerd Police Department, someone with a clear vision of right and wrong, tough but respectful, and altogether fearless. This is probably Frances McDormand’s signature role to date – funny, compassionate, understanding…and relentless. She’s matched with two cretinous, “kinda funny lookin’” but deadly kidnappers (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare) who hired by car dealer and milquetoast loser, Jerry Lundegaard (William H Macy) who is looking for a shortcut to success – in all the wrong places. All the stars aligned for the Coens on this venture. The bizarre story of (mostly) true events and the chilly Paul Bunyanesque setting entices them with enough material to provide us with a virtual salad bar of quirkiness. Every scene is pitch perfect, beautifully executed and never what you would expect – a tough act to pull off, but one the Coens make look effortless. I vaguely remember Roger Ebert, in his televised review, saying that films like Fargo are the reason he loves movies, and I have to agree. It’s hard to remain fresh and to present something so original in such a staid and established genre like police drama.

2-fzj21f.jpg

Witness   Peter Weir   (1985)

Despite having only directed 18 features, Aussie Peter Weir has an insanely eclectic and award-laden filmography that covers the mysterious disappearance of schoolgirls on a picnic (Picnic at Hanging Rock) and a man who loses his strawberry allergy in a plane crash (Fearless) to a young guy adopted and raised within a TV show (The Truman Show) and a father/husband who moves his family into the Central American jungle, only to lose his mind (Mosquito Coast). He can also brag to the fact that he has never made a bad film, and his drama about a detective protecting a young Amish boy who was eyewitness to a murder is one of his best. It is also arguably Harrison Ford’s most proficient screen performance as John Book, the wounded detective who is entranced by the Amish community that shelters him. Weir shifts gears on us when we jump from urban grit to the secluded pastoral lifestyle, inviting us to fall in love with the simplicity as well – and we do. Book’s integration into the community culminates in a community barn-raising that is as organically inspirational as anything on film, making events that follow when the “real” world invades the story afterward all the more unsettling. Unfortunately, Weir hasn’t made a feature for the past seven years and cinema misses his humanity. Perhaps, like John Book, he has found that idyllic place far away from the dirty daily shuffle?

Those are five of my essential police dramas where being responsible for the public safety leaves one open to all forms of temptation and invites both criticism and admiration, making this genre one of the most durable.

 

 

Coco And The Breadwinner Lead The 45th Annie Awards Nominations

The current box office smash hit, Coco has topped the 45th Annie Awards nominations, and is this year’s hottest contender for Best Animated Feature. Although, there may be a dark horse around the corner, with Irish cartoon ‘The Breadwinner’ being nominate for 10 awards as well, including best independent animated feature. Coco is a dazzling and stunning Pixar film, which looks like a visual colourful delight, and is the charming funny tale of a young Mexican boy’s adventures in the Land of the Dead. The film’s directors, Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina have been nominated for best director, Molina and fellow writer Matthew Aldrich have been nominated for writing and there’s a voice acting nomination for the young star Anthony Gonzalez. The Breadwinner director Nora Twomey has also been nominated, and it’s two main voice actors (Saara Chaudry and Laara Sadiq) have also been nominated for their roles.

Aside from Coco, other nominees for best animated picture include Captain Underpants: The First Epic MovieCars 3Despicable Me 3, and The Boss Baby. And in the best independent animated feature category the nominees include In This Corner of the WorldLoving Vincent,Napping Princess and The Big Bad Fox & Other Tales.

coco

FILM NOMINATIONS

Best Animated Feature

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
Cars 3
Coco
Despicable Me 3
The Boss Baby

Best Animated Feature – Independent

In This Corner of the World
Loving Vincent
Napping Princess
The Breadwinner

Best Animated Special Production

Imaginary Friend Society “Feeling Sad”
Olaf’s Frozen Adventure
Pig: The Dam Keeper Poems
Revolting Rhymes

Best Animated Short Subject

Dear Basketball
Hedgehog’s Home
Negative Space
Scavengers
Son of Jaguar

Best Student Film

Cradle
Elsewhere
Good Night, Everybuds!
Once a hero
Poles Apart

Animated Effects

Avatar Flight of Passage
Cars 3
Coco
Despicable Me 3
Olaf’s Frozen Adventure

Character Animation – Animated Feature

Coco: John Chun Chiu Lee
Coco: Allison Rutland
The Big Bad Fox & Other Tales: Marco Nguyen, Benjamin Renner, Patrick Imbert
The Boss Baby: Bryce McGovern
The Boss Baby: Rani Naamani

Character Animation – Live Action

Game of Thrones S7 Ep.6 Beyond The Wall
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Kong / Kong: Skull Island
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
War for the Planet of the Apes

Character Design

Coco
Despicable Me 3
Smurfs: The Lost Village
The Boss Baby
The Breadwinner

Directing

Coco
The Big Bad Fox & Other Tales
The Boss Baby
The Breadwinner
The LEGO Batman Movie

Music

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
Coco
Loving Vincent
Olaf’s Frozen Adventure
The Breadwinner

Production Design

Coco
Ferdinand
LEAP!
Mary and The Witch’s Flower
The Breadwinner

Storyboarding

Coco: Dean Kelly
Coco: Madeline Sharafian
The Boss Baby: Glenn Harmon
The Breadwinner: Julien Regnard
The Star: Louie del Carmen

Voice Acting

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie: Nick Kroll
Coco: Anthony Gonzalez
The Breadwinner: Saara Chaudry
The Breadwinner: Laara Sadiq
The LEGO Batman Movie: Zach Galifianakis

Writing

Coco
Loving Vincent
Mary and The Witch’s Flower
The Breadwinner

Editorial

Coco
Ferdinand
The Breadwinner
The LEGO Batman Movie
The Star

Christmas Movie Advent Calendar – 20 Days To Go

Hong Kong – 2046 (2004)

Written and directed by Wong Kar-wai, 2046 delves back into the vivid worlds he created with Days of Being Wild in 1990, and In the Mood for Love from 2000. A romance, a drama, but also a mystery in its multi-layered story arcs and settings (both time and space). Chow Mo-wan is still love-lost, and here frequents a number of different women, unraveling the film’s narrative shifts. With regular significance to Christmas Eve, Kar-wai has crafted another lavish affair, with more beautifully lit corridors piercing the action..

Watch on Amazon UK

Watch on YouTube

20461.jpg

Christmas Movie Advent Calendar – 21 Days To Go

Spain – El día de la Bestia (1995)

A priest, a salesman, and a TV host – sounds like a joke, I know – join forces to rid the world of the antichrist. Surprisingly more comic than festive or frightful, The Day of the Beast appears to be a mixed bag of compelling movie entertainment. That said, the division of black humor, action, and horror is a recipe for one successful movie night, whatever the season.

Watch on iTunes Europe

Watch on iTunes US

DOTB-ritual

 

 

 

Guess Who’s Having a Birthday Today

Jean-Luc Godard, who turns 87 years young today, has been inventing, creating, entertaining, challenging, confusing and/or pissing us off since 1950. Starting out exclusively as a film critic, he lasted two years before seizing the reins himself, at first making short films before he shattered the film world in 1960 with his first feature, À bout de soufflé (Breathless). This pioneer of the French New Wave was having nothing to do with the vacuous and glossy “Hollywood” style of filmmaking – instead he bolted headlong into experimentation in narrative structure, cinematography and editing, not only mastering, but revolutionizing each skill.

He imbues his work with his own, personal humanist impressions of the world, framed with an existential point of view and loaded with Marxist sensibilities towards class struggles and a deep anti-war, anti-imperialist sentiment. Known for tirelessly tilting at windmills, Godard took on everything from war to Kodak film stock, which he (rightfully) claimed was racist, as it favored white skin over dark – a problem eventually rectified by the company.

Jean-Luc-Godard.jpg

He can lay claim to being one of the most successful directors in history as listed by Sight & Sound, having six films sitting on their most recent decade poll, the only living director with five or more films on the list. And he is still reasonably active – he dazzled again in 2014 with the 3D Adieu au Langage (Goodbye to Language), his 42nd feature and 121st film/video project (!)

Whether or not you agree with his politics, his world-view or his constantly challenging narrative style, there is no denying that world cinema and every contemporary international filmmaker of worth has Godard to thank for keeping the medium vital and relevant.

So birthday greetings and eternal gratitude to Jean-Luc Godard, film critic, director, actor, cinematographer, screenwriter, editor, producer…and outspoken citizen of the world. May he never grow old.

2298967-Jean-Luc-Godard-Quote-I-pity-the-French-Cinema-because-it-has-no.jpg

Christmas Movie Advent Calendar – 22 Days To Go

Iceland – 101 Reykjavik (2000)

As I now delve into the non-English films in this series (the vast majority are I might add), I remind myself to inform you all of the quality of Christmas films that are way beyond what we class as normal in movie-watching terms. And also a plug to the ever-evolving Scandinavian cinema is going to be on my agenda when appropriate. With that in mind, 101 Reykjavík from Baltasar Kormákur is a memorable depiction of a kind of threesome unlike what you have seen before perhaps. Almost 30, Hlynur still lives with his mother in a shabby little apartment, where porn is watched as freely as the son undresses for a bath (which transforms into a make-shift couch too). The kind of disruption a Spanish dance teacher causes (Victoria Abril running the show) is both inevitable and surprising. The film won the Discovery Film Award at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Watch on Amazon UK

Watch on YouTube

101-Reykjavik.jpg

Christmas Movie Advent Calendar – 23 Days To Go

United States – Metropolitan (1990)

Tis the season to be philosophical, theoretical, socialist, wannabe aristocratic. A bunch of  young upper-class socialites befriend a middle class young man who wanders into their class circles (Sally Fowler Rat Pack) quite by accident in Manhattan. The New Yorkers mingle and bond, kind of, at after-hours parties, well-dressed gatherings as they keep up appearances and debate the high end social scene and yuppie culture. What is really happening is an intelligent, magnetic coming of age comedy-drama, exquisitely written and directed by Whit Stillman.

Watch on Amazon UK

Watch on Netflix US

Watch on iTunes US

metropolitan.jpg

Christmas Movie Advent Calendar – 24 Days To Go

United Kingdom — Love Actually (2003)

This will very likely be the most commercial of the Christmas movie selections I lure you into this holiday season (24 festive films from 24 different countries). Fluffy and sentimental for the most part, Love Actually has its genuinely painful moments too. Writer-director Richard Curtis crams as much as he can into the narrative, catering for all manner of characters and story-lines. The ensemble cast is ridiculously impressive, including Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Keira Knightley, Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Laura Linney, Liam Neeson, Bill Nighy, Rowan Atkinson, oh I could go on all night listing them.

Watch on YouTube

Watch on Google Play

Watch on Amazon UK

Watch on Amazon US

Watch on Netflix US

Watch on iTunes US

loveac

100 Not Nominated For Oscars – Part 20

So there we have it. 100 not nominated for Oscars. And, honestly, we could easily do a hundred more of these absentees. The final five, then, are some of my own absolute favorites that somehow did not have their names called out come the announcement of the Academy Award nominations. A huge, huge thanks to my terrific team of writers that contributed to the series. Go ahead, enjoy the last five, all parts can be found by clicking on the right hand panel.

loop

Adapted Screenplay — Armando Iannucci, Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Tony Roche (In the Loop) 2009

Spinning right off the hugely successful BBC satire The Thick of It, the astute In the Loop jumps straight into the serious issues and relationship between English and American politics – but this is essentially a comedy. The powers that be, the decision-makers, are made a mockery of here as the writers expertly exploit the comedy-of-errors driven by such government actions. The dialogue in particular packs a huge punch, crammed with observations, foul-mouthed rants, and flat out hilarious insults. The film is a feast in particular for Malcolm Tucker’s ferociousness – Peter Capaldi is on fire here. And although never quite juvenile, but always somehow smart, you find yourself wondering if these kind of crass exchanges do go on behind closed doors. We are so compelled by the words on screen, as well as the thin-veil of seriousness with which we may take certain political escapades, you want to believe it is so. 

Picture — Once 2007

To bestow praise and love on a movie heavily based on its song lyrics, its music, as well as it’s narrative pedaled by pure heart and soul is to not cheat yourself out of seeing this splendid little gem. Musicals rarely get credit for their writing of non-melodic content, and John Carney’s Irish indie fable is hardly a musical in the conventional sense, but it is a charming, affecting piece of story-telling – both through the film’s plot and the musical numbers. Thought-provoking songs, giving characters backstory and status, Once is a good-natured tale, a triumph of the human heart. The leads, Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, as simply Guy and Girl respectively, wrote the songs between them, and perform them on-screen as part of their fleeting, naturalistic modern romance. Carney’s writing is also flourishing, real conversations, awkward exchanges, a rich chemistry, with little dialogue in all he still manages to salvage some true and poignant moments. Not long after the twosome have met, he a Dublin busker of sorts, and she a Czech street flower seller, they find refuge in a music store and sing the unforgettable (and Oscar-winning) “Falling Slowly” – which is kind of what they are doing right before our eyes – and ears. 

54e7b-wah

Director — David Lynch (Wild at Heart) 1990

David Lynch’s wacky and what-the-fuck appeal must have nudged the Academy pretty hard when they nominated Diane Ladd for Supporting Actress this year. Wild at Heart may be a little twisted as road movies go, so this was never going to be a Best Picture contender. But fans of Lynch will agree that this was one of his best and most accessible works as a director – so not too much to assume they could have gone for this having that very year given nods in the Director category to two film-makers not in contention for Best Picture also (Stephen Frears for The Grifters, and Barbet Schroeder for Reversal of Fortune). 

Foreign Language Film — L’avventura 1960

L’avventura is a motion picture like no other, adored by, and inspirational to, many. Michelangelo Antonioni captured mystery, beauty, longing, sadness, like a new art-form of storytelling – his muse Monica Vitti blossomed in front of the camera. Winning the Jury Prize in Cannes, L’avventura was nowhere to be seen with AMPAS. Incredibly, Antonioni would not be recognized by Oscar until he switched to the English speaking Blowup, earning him nods for Screenplay and Director. Awarded an Honorary Oscar in 1995, you have to wonder what the hell they were doing for 35 years. L’avventura is my personal favorite of 1960, a year of true marvel and excellence for films not in the English language.

60lavvc

Director — Christopher Nolan (Inception) 2010

Inception is, in my opinion, the single greatest movie achievement of the year. It lured me in with the anticipation and publicity, and then inevitably blew me away when I eventually saw it on the big screen. It reminded me why we have that urge to go to to cinema. I love pretty much everything about it, the whole original concept, the ensemble players, Hans Zimmer’s score. I could go on. Christopher Nolan directs the set-pieces and the dreamy landscapes with expertise, seemingly fully accomplishing what he had been promising with his prior work. He established himself a truly brilliant director (given his great work on the previously Oscar-dropped The Dark Knight). I am still haunted by that day his name was not read out when the Oscar nominations were announced. One of the great and baffling Oscar snubs without a doubt. No such absurdity should befall him in a couple of months on his way to the Best Director prize for Dunkirk.

That’s all folks. For now. Please leave your comments below.

Review: Justice League

We’ve been waiting for this film ever since Tim Burton’s Batman appeared on our screens back in 1989 (my birth year), and it’s taken nearly 28 years to see the Justice League on the big screen. The question on everyone’s mind is whether or not Justice League can live up to the hype. Well, may critics are claiming that it is one of the most disappointing films of the year, with many calling it a “dull joyless affair” and lacking any soul or charm. It’s not really any of those things; it’s loud, dumb and silly but it’s entertaining and in the last few months of Hollywood scandal and misery it’s what we need right now. It’s a film that really doesn’t take itself too seriously and acts like a distraction. It’s two hours of explosions, well shot action sequences and amusing banter. It’s not a masterpiece but it was never intended to be seen in this way. It’s not high end art house cinema, it’s a trashy popcorn munching Blockbuster that is meant to be just fun. And, it is fun, no matter what the critics say.

Of course there were always going to be issues with bringing the Justice League together for the big screen. Marvel has dominated the superhero genre for well over a decade and has already had two successful films featuring their all star superhero team, The Avengers. DC is often mocked for its poorly received films (ahem Green Lantern and Suicide Squad anyone?) and as a result their reputation for producing good content has suffered dramatically, despite their comic book sales going through the roof.

The film starts off promising with the world still mourning the loss of Superman (Henry Cavill), the song “Everybody Knows” performed by Sigrid plays over the top of a montage of scenes of civil unrest. We see that Martha (Diane Lane) has been forced to leave the Kent farm after being unable to keep up with the payments. Lois Lane (Amy Adams, as adorable and underused as ever) is still working for the Daily Planet but has lost her inspiration and is writing fluff pieces in a world plagued by terrorism and crime. Batman (Ben Affleck) is still stalking the streets of Gotham but this time taking on flying demon monster aliens who feed off fear. And the world is full of fear right now, so the monsters are growing. Batman realizes that a greater threat is coming in the form of Steppenwolf who has arrive on Earth to find a trio of “Mother Boxes” (funny little metal rubik cubes that just glow and hover off the ground) which will, once they are united, somehow help restart the planet.

jl1.jpg

So to help save the planet, Batman decides to work with Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot in kick ass top form again) in order to find other meta/superhuman beings in order to save the world, and form a league of their own. There’s comic relief from Barry Allen aka The Flash (an electric Ezra Miller who steals the show), there’s identity politics in the form of Cyborg (new comer Ray Fisher who make a good first impression) and there’s hot new eye candy in the form of Aquaman (Jason Momoa, who spends the majority of the first act taking off his t-shirt, getting wet and drinking).

In “blink and you’ll miss them” scenes, there are small supporting roles from Amber Heard (just there simply to look good in a tight suit and do some bland exposition), J K Simmons as Commissioner Gordon (who really doesn’t get enough screentime or lines) and the return of hard talking, hard drinking Jeremy Irons as Alfred. All the supporting actors do their best to make an impression but there’s too many characters and too many names to remember so it really feels a little too crowded.

There are some serious flaws with the story; a very average bad guy who is all talk and no action (where is he from exactly, I am still clueless) and a very weak ending which just abruptly stops and leaves you going “Is that it?”. Some critics have mentioned the bad CGI, but I feel it was deliberate, in order to create that “comic book/video game cutscene” look, which may be disconnecting to some but remember this is a hyper version of reality.  Yes, it looks like a mess in places, and it’s hard to tell the action apart but this is a common issue with contemporary action films, it’s hardly anything new.

jl2

There’s is an obvious clash of different directional styles here, with the real battle being Snyder verses Weadon. Partway through production, Snyder stepped away from the film to deal with the tragic death of his daughter. It was Joss Whedon who was quickly ushered in to finish the film. Whedon is Marvel’s most successful director, and he’s far more light hearted in his approach to adapting comic books. Snyder relishes in the doom and gloom. You can easily tell which director was behind the camera in certain scenes and as a result it acts as a distraction. Of course, this unfortunate incident could not be avoided.

Rather than concentrate on all of the issues with Justice League, we should admire it’s attempts at trying a different tone. It’s happier, more upbeat approach does pay off in places, and it’s amusing to see the scenes where all of the team bond together and have their little moments of banter. Overall, Justice League is an ambitious mess. It’s not a great movie, but it’s not the complete dud that everyone is claiming it to be. It’s a decent way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon, but if you’re looking for a Christopher Nolan-esque high art graphic novel cinematic adaptation, this is not it.

100 Not Nominated For Oscars – Part 19

It is common law for many, many popular films, those loved by the moving-going public, and even professional film critics, to not make it big with the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts, and Sciences. If at all. Fine screenplays by super-established brothers, huge successes outside of the live action format, even one of the filmmaking greats can miss out for one of his very strongest works, directorially. There are no guarantees. The penultimate five in our Oscar-nomineeless series are very good examples of such misdemeanors.

Animated Feature — Toy Story 1995 — Robin Write

Animated movies have not really got a great history for Best Picture opportunities. Only Beauty and the Beast managed to squeeze into the big list, before the category Animated Feature was created. Things changed again when five became ten for Best Picture in 2009. Further voting rule changes in 2011 now means animated films will struggle once again. Back in 1995, Toy Story sent animated movies soaring, a new generation of this genre. And it is a real emotional adventure of a movie experience. The modern audience, in hindsight, and with it’s equally fantastic sequels, might not fully appreciate what all the fuss was about with the original Toy Story. I would suggest to them, watch it again, because this was simply one of the best movies of that year. And would have won Animated Feature had it not taken them a further six years to establish the category. 

960dd-ts

Original Screenplay — Joel & Ethan Coen (Inside Llewyn Davis) 2013 — Steve Schweighofer

The Coens are not exactly Oscar drought-stricken, but, boy, did they get that shaft when Oscar snubbed this one. Film, director and actor omissions aside, one would think that the screenwriters’ club, known for being a bit more progressive than most of the geezer membership, would have recognized the intimately detailed script about a singer/songwriter of good-to-mediocre talent with an uncanny knack for making terrible decisions — and generally behaving as a frustrated shit — would have been just what the doctor ordered. Apparently not. Regardless, it’s a brilliant film that blossoms from a thoughtful, multi-layered script that towers above the likes of the pandering Dallas Buyers Club or puerile American Hustle. Both the BBC and the New York Times put it on the list of the best films of the 21st Century so far, the only film from that year, so the hell with Oscar, anyway. As the song says, “Hang me, Oh, hang me.”.

7b621-ild02

Original Score — Danny Elfman (Edward Scissorhands) 1990 — Robin Write

Tim Burton, there was another film-maker who would not catch a break with the Academy. Like he cares. This film ticked many of their boxes though, a great cast, a heart-warming story, and general crowd-pleaser. What is maybe most memorable perhaps is Danny Elfman’s wistful score, that bears all the magic and romance of Edward’s story. Shame on you, heartless Oscar voters, who instead chose the likes of perfectly okay Home Alone and Ghost, and far less memorable Avalon and Havana.

Director — Steven Spielberg (Jaws) 1975 — Al Robinson

It must’ve been a mistake. “Robert Altman, Federico Fellini, Milos Forman, Stanley Kubrick, and Sidney Lumet”… but wait! Where is Steven Spielberg’s name from the field of 5 nominated for Best Director for 1975?? Steven Spielberg directs Jaws, one of the most beloved films of all time, and he’s not nominated for the Oscar. This must be a mistake, but it wasn’t. Back in 1975, he was not a household name like he is now. He had just come off directing his debut feature film in The Sugarland Express, and he wasn’t respected the way those other 5 were. It’s understandable now to think why he wasn’t nominated, but it still seems like it was an error that the Oscar voters made. Jaws was a perfect film in a sea of other great films of an era that gave us many great films. I bet if the voters could do it over, they would most certainly nominate him. Now the question is, who would they eliminate?

bac

Film Editing — Bonnie and Clyde 1967 — Robin Write

An incredibly innovative time in American cinema was highlighted in 1967, with crime flick Bonnie and Clyde just one outlandish, brilliant motion picture to break into the somewhat familiar cookie-cutter style Academy selections. Winning two Oscars from ten nominations (joint highest that year), Arthur Penn’s movie, like the aforementioned Best Picture nominee The Graduate, was somehow missing in the Editing category. By today’s seemingly altered standards the editing nod would likely have been default, but who am I to say exactly how back then perceptions of such tech categories went hand-in-hand with the movies they shortlisted in the top tier. It also has one of the most famously, masterful quick-cut sequences in the entirety of the history of cinema.

Fire your comments at us in the section below.

Reading, Writing, Arithmetic #35; Or 100 Not Nominated For Oscars – Part 18

Merging my recommended links chunks with the ongoing Oscar snubbery series seemed like a great idea – there is after all so much content on the many, many none-nominated folk in the Academy Awards history out there. None of the following five then are written by me or any of my contributors, but definitely worth your time all the same.

Leading Actress — Audrey Hepburn (My Fair Lady) 1964 — from The Guardian

Julie Andrews’s Tony-winning stage performance as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady made her a star, but she was deemed insufficiently famous to repeat the role on screen, as Jack Warner enlisted Hepburn’s gracious (albeit less golden-voiced) services instead. Andrews’s seemingly lesser consolation prize was the title role in Disney’s family film Mary Poppins – no match, surely, for Warner’s lavishly produced blockbuster. Yet while My Fair Lady duly notched up eight Oscar wins, including best picture, Hepburn was shut out of the best actress race, allegedly penalised by voters for failing to do her own singing. All of which greased the wheels for Andrews’s victory for Poppins: among the crueller cases of karmic logic in Academy history.

432.png

Foreign Language Film — 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days 2007 — from The Daily Beast

The Academy Award for Best Foreign Film has been notorious for being one of the most poorly managed categories on Oscar night since it was instituted in 1956 (the first winner was Fellini’s La Strada). And in recent years, it’s only gotten worse. Amélie failed to win the award in 2001, and in 2003, the Brazilian crime epic City of God wasn’t even nominated. In 2008, the mediocre Japanese film Departures beat out Israel’s stunning Waltz With Bashir and France’s The Class, while in 2009, the Argentinian film The Secret in Their Eyes upset Jacques Audiard’s crime masterpiece A Prophet and Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon. But the biggest travesty came at the 2008 ceremony, when Christian Mungiu’s Romanian abortion saga 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days failed to secure even a nomination despite being named the best overall film of the year by The New York Times and winning the Palme d’Or at Cannes.

heatofthenight.gif

Leading Actor — Sydney Poitier (In The Heat of the Night) 1967 — from Screenrant

Poitier had won Best Actor in 1964 for Lilies in the Field, but in 1967 he starred in three race-conscious critical darlings: To Sir, with Love, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and this hard-boiled police procedural set in racist smalltown Mississippi. In The Heat of the Night featured police chief Bill Gillespie (Rod Steiger) working with a black veteran homicide detective, Virgil Tibbs (Sydney Poitier). Poitier got billing over Steiger in the film’s advertising, and certainly got the most memorable quote: “They call me Mister Tibbs!” The Academy liked the film enough to give it seven nominations and five wins – including Best Actor, which went to Steiger, not Poitier. Poitier wasn’t even nominated for Best Supporting Actor, either. Aside from a 2002 honorary Oscar, the Academy seems to have felt that once was enough for Poitier. You know, let’s let the white guys have a turn!

deadpool.jpg

Visual Effects / Make-Up — Deadpool 2016 — from Variety

In the end, Oscar voters got cold feet when it came to recognizing the 20th Century Fox mega-hit starring Ryan Reynolds as a disfigured mercenary with the power to heal himself. If it had made the cut, Deadpool would have been the first comic book movie to crash the best picture race. But sadly, Deadpool got shut out of the Oscars race completely, ending up with fewer nominations than Suicide Squad (best makeup) and Doctor Strange (visual effects).

blackswan.jpg

Costume Design — Black Swan 2010 — from Fashionista

More drama over the Black Swan costumes: the film wasn’t even nominated for an Oscar for costume design. Nods went to Alice in Wonderland, I Am Love, The King’s Speech, The Tempest, and True Grit. We already knew Rodarte’s Mulleavy sisters wouldn’t see any glory for their beautifully twisted and painstakingly made ballet costumes for Black Swan–despite the buzz that their names had garnered for the film. The Mulleavy sisters weren’t members of the Costume Design Guild when they worked on the film and were reportedly “naive” about movie credits. Kate and Laura Mulleavy ended up receiving a backend credit while Amy Westcott, who worked with director Darren Aronofsky on The Wrestler, received the front credit as costume designer, making Westcott the only one eligible for an Oscar. In an interview with Deadline, Westcott explained, “It was Natalie who recommended Rodarte. It was important to her and Darren asked me if it was OK. I met with Laura and Kate Mulleavy and I saw their feathered Vulture collection (I think it was Spring 2010). It seemed very appropriate.” But now that whole controversy over Rodarte’s ineligibility for Oscar costume credit is moot. And it comes as a bit of a shock that the film was completely left off the list to be considered. Black Swan had already picked up best costume nominations from the Critics’ Choice Awards, Bafta and the Costume Designers’ Guild.

Comments? You know what to do.