The Watchers

The Watchers

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Awards Season 2018: Academy Award Nominations


As announced by Tiffany Haddish (Girls Trip, Meet The Spartans) and Andy Serkis (The Lord Of The Rings, Black Panther) earlier today, here is a selection of the nominations for the 90th Academy Awards.

BEST PICTURE
Call Me By Your Name
Darkest Hour
Dunkirk
Get Out
Lady Bird
Phantom Thread
The Post
The Shape Of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

BEST DIRECTOR
Paul Thomas Anderson (Phantom Thread)
Guillermo del Toro (The Shape Of Water)
Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird)
Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk)
Jordan Peele (Get Out)

BEST ACTOR
Timothee Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name)
Daniel Day-Lewis (Phantom Thread)
Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out)
Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour)
Denzel Washington (Roman J. Israel, Esq.)

BEST ACTRESS
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)
Woody Harrelson (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
Richard Jenkins (The Shape Of Water)
Christopher Plummer (All The Money In The World
Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Mary J. Blige (Mudbound)
Allison Janney (I, Tonya)
Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread)
Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird)
Octavia Spencer (The Shape Of Water)

A full list of nominees can be found here.

So, by my reckoning, that makes 29 out of 34 (85%)

The Academy's love for Phantom Thread has tripped me up - Day-Lewis' nod for Best Actor was virtually guaranteed, but the Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actress nods were a surprise (although Lesley Manville is a superb actress so I'm really chuffed to see her nominated). Denzel Washington's nod was also a surprise, although he has been nominated for a Golden Globe and a SAG Award for this performance. 

Meryl Streep gets her 21st- yes, twenty-first, nomination - breaking her own record (which she set last year with Florence Foster Jenkins). There were four nods for Star Wars: The Last Jedi but nothing for Wonder Woman, Thor: Ragnarok, Spider-Man: Homecoming or Justice League

The Shape Of Water leads the field with a massive 13 nominations, Dunkirk has eight, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri has 7.

There's a bit of a break from the awards seasons shenanigans now, as the next major awards event will be the Directors' Guild (DGA) Awards on 3rd February, followed by the Writers' Guild (WGA) Awards on 11th February and then the BAFTA Film Awards a week later on 18th February. 

Huge congratulations to all nominees!

Monday, 22 January 2018

Awards Season 2018: Tez's Official Academy Award Nomination Predictions



Tomorrow (23rd January), the nominations for the 90th Academy Awards will be announced.

This year, there'll be a mix of live presentations from the Samuel Goldwyn Theater, with pre-taped category introductions, which will only be featured in the first half of the announcement (which generally covers technical awards, such as cinematography, make-up and hairstyling, costume design, and visual effects). 

As has been my practice for the last few years, I like to try and predict who will be nominated (this is done for Best Picture, Best Director and the four acting awards). Below is my list of who I think will be named tomorrow.

NB. Since the 2010 ceremony, the Academy rules state that there could be anywhere between five and ten Best Picture nominees. I have selected ten films. If the total number of films nominated is less than ten, but one of the movies selected is named in my list of ten, I will count it as a successful prediction.

BEST PICTURE
The Big Sick
Call Me By Your Name
Darkest Hour
Dunkirk
Get Out
I, Tonya
Lady Bird
The Post
The Shape Of Water
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)
Jordan Peele (Get Out)

BEST ACTOR
Timothee Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name)
Daniel Day-Lewis (Phantom Thread)
James Franco (The Disaster Artist)
Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out)
Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour)

BEST ACTRESS
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)
Christopher Plummer (All The Money In The World
Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Mary J. Blige (Mudbound)
Hong Chau (Downsizing)
Allison Janney (I, Tonya)
Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird)
Octavia Spencer (The Shape Of Water)

Usually a score of 15 is adequate, but given the fact that there could be anywhere between 5 and 10 Best Picture awards, I'ill be happy with a prediction of 18 or higher. Last year, amazingly, I got 32 out of 34. I'm not expecting such a high mark this time round. 

There could be potential 'upsets' in many categories. I went with the five DGA nominees, but you could easily see one or more of Luca Guadagnino (Call Me By Your Name), Steven Spielberg (The Post) or Ridley Scott (All The Money In The World) in Best Director in place of one or more of the names above. 

Whilst Best Actor is fairly solid, there could be a surprise nomination for Tom Hanks for The Post; given recent allegations, Franco could well lose his nomination if that does happen.  

I could have picked a number of actresses to fill the fifth slot for Best Actress (Hawkins, McDormand, Robbie and Ronan have been a solid core of nominees throughout). Jessica Chastain (Molly's Game), Judi Dench (Victoria & Abdul) and Annette Bening (Film Stars Don't Die In Liverpool) have all given superb performances. In the end, though, the Academy does love Meryl Streep (and she is particularly good in The Post).

For Best Supporting Actor, there could be a surprise nod for Woody Harrelson for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri or (which sadly seems very unlikely) Michael Stuhlbarg for Call Me By Your Name.

Holly Hunter's supporting performance in The Big Sick has also drawn a lot of awards love, so she could easily be nominated. I wouldn't like to say which of the three from Blige, Chau or Spencer wouldn't then make the cut. Janney and Metcalf have been consistent nominees throughout so it's virtually guaranteed to see them mentioned. 

So what do you reckon? Am I on the right track or barking up the wrong tree? If you were a member of the Academy, who would you vote for?

I'll update the blog with my thoughts on the official nominees tomorrow afternoon. 

Awards Season 2018: Razzies Nominations


For every yin, there must be a yang. For every Best Of... list, there must be a Worst Of... in order to maintain balance. So, thankfully, we have the Golden Raspberry Awards to act as a pin to prick the self-important hoopla of awards season. 

Ever since 1981, the Razzies dishonour the very worst of film in the preceding 12 months. As is traditional, the nominations are announced the day before the Oscar nominations (and the awards handed out the day before the Oscars). 

The nominees for the 38th Annual Razzie Awards are below:

WORST PICTURE
Baywatch
The Emoji Movie
Fifty Shades Darker
The Mummy
Transformers: The Last Knight

WORST ACTRESS
Katherine Heigl (Unforgettable)
Dakota Johnson (Fifty Shades Darker)
Jennifer Lawrence (Mother!)
Tyler Perry (Boo! 2: A Madea Halloween)
Emma Watson (The Circle)

WORST ACTOR
Tom Cruise (The Mummy)
Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales)
Jamie Dornan (Fifty Shades Darker)
Zac Efron (Baywatch)
Mark Wahlberg (Daddy’s Home 2 and Transformers: The Last Knight)

WORST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Javier Bardem (Mother! and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales)
Russell Crowe (The Mummy)
Josh Duhamel (Transformers: The Last Knight)
Mel Gibson (Daddy’s Home 2)
Anthony Hopkins (Collide and Transformers: The Last Knight)

WORST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Kim Basinger (Fifty Shades Darker)
Sofia Boutella (The Mummy)
Laura Haddock (Transformers: The Last Knight)
Goldie Hawn (Snatched)
Susan Sarandon (A Bad Moms Christmas)

WORST SCREEN COMBO
Any Combination of Two Characters, Two Sex Toys or Two Sexual Positions (Fifty Shades Darker)
Any Combination of Two Humans, Two Robots or Two Explosions (Transformers: The Last Knight)
Any Two Obnoxious Emojis (The Emoji Movie)
Johnny Depp & His Worn Out Drunk Routine (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales)
Tyler Perry & Either The Ratty Old Dress or Worn Out Wig (Boo! 2: A Madea Halloween)

WORST REMAKE, RIP-OFF, OR SEQUEL
Baywatch
Boo! 2: A Madea Halloween
Fifty Shades Darker
The Mummy
Transformers: The Last Knight

WORST DIRECTOR
Darren Aronofsky (Mother!)
Michael Bay (Transformers: The Last Knight)
James Foley (Fifty Shades Darker)
Alex Kurtzman (The Mummy)
Anthony Leonidis (The Emoji Movie)

WORST SCREENPLAY
Baywatch
The Emoji Movie
Fifty Shades Darker
The Mummy
Transformers: The Last Knight


So it's nine nominations for Transformers: The Last Knight, with Fifty Shades Darker coming second with eight. I'm strangely glad not to see Justice League get a nod. The Razzies voters continue their ongoing contempt for Tyler Perry, Johnny Depp and anything Michael Bay touches. Good to see some things never change. 


So that just leaves tomorrow's announcement of the nominees for the 90th Academy Awards. I'll post my predictions for the main six categories a little later today. 

Awards Season 2018: Producers' Guild Awards (PGA) Winners and Screen Actors' Guild (SAG) Awards Winners


This is the first of three awards season posts that'll be coming up today, so without further ado, let's get get on with it. We start with a couple of Guild Awards winners. 


PRODUCERS' GUILD AWARDS (PGA) WINNERS



On Saturday 20th January, the Producers' Guild of America announced its winners for the 2018 Producers' Guild Awards. 

The film winners are:

Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures: The Shape Of Water

Documentary Film: Jane

Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures: Coco


This is a major step forward for The Shape Of Water's chances of netting Best Picture at the Oscars, although it's far from a done deal. I'm also not surprised to see Coco win for the Animated Feature. 



SCREEN ACTORS' GUILD (SAG) AWARDS WINNERS


Yesterday (21st January), the Screen Actors' Guild Awards were announced. Here are the film winners:

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture: 
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role: 
Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role: 
Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role: 
Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role: 
Allison Janney (I, Tonya)

Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Film:
Wonder Woman

The usual suspects, all present and correct. 


Later today, the nominations for this year's Razzie Awards will be announced, so look out for them later.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Watchers Review of 2017: The Nice, The Naughty, The Horror, and Coming In 2018!


In the latest of our Podcasts, which is in two parts, we discuss what we thought was Nice, and what made our Naughty List for 2017! 

Also Matt takes a look at the best horror films of last year and we look forward to what's coming up in 2018!

Sit back and enjoy!
Rhys

Part 1: Our Nice List and the Best Horror of 2017



Part 2: Our Naughty List and Coming Up in 2018

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Review: All The Money In The World (UK Cert 15)


In 1973, John Paul Getty III- grandson of oil tycoon and richest man in the world J. Paul Getty- was kidnapped in Italy, and a ransom demand for $17 million was issued. Just one problem: Getty refused to pay a penny. Paul's mother Gail and one of Getty's negotiators, Fletcher Chase, travelled to Italy to try and negotiate Paul's release without the old man's help. This unbelievable real-life story is the basis for All The Money In The World, directed by Ridley Scott. 

I want to start this review by addressing the elephant in the room. It's no secret that the film underwent extensive reshoots a month before its release, recasting the role of J. Paul Getty after the multiple allegations of sexual misconduct made against Kevin Spacey. Christopher Plummer (Scott's original choice for the role of Getty) was brought in to replace him, and there were nine days of reshoots in November 2017 to re-film the twenty-two scenes Getty appears in.  

To say that Christopher Plummer is an adequate replacement would be to do the gentleman a great disservice; Plummer steals the show. He is absolutely brilliant as Getty. He pulls off a weird balancing act: his Getty is weirdly effusive, welcoming his family in and having a strong relationship with Paul when he was younger; yet, he's also emotionally distant, caring more about the acquisition of wealth (in one particularly callous scene, Getty blithely spends $1.5million on a painting whilst Paul is at the point of being mutilated by his captors). It's a fascinating performance- Getty never comes across as miserly (despite washing his own underwear) or greedy, but he's still as much of a villain as the kidnappers. While we will probably never see Spacey's take on the character- Scott has said that Spacey's footage won't be officially released-  this is still a truly remarkable performance. 

But Plummer's is not the only superb turn in the film; Michelle Williams is equally strong as Paul's mother Gail. A Getty by marriage only- and divorced from Paul's father- she is thrown into a nightmarish world yet remains steadfast and determined to get her son back. Gail is no wilting wallflower, no passive hand-wringing damsel in distress- she's assertive and can play the game when she needs to; when an Italian newspaper receives a gruesome package pertaining to Paul's kidnapping, she cannily agrees to them publishing full details- so long as she can be paid in newspapers (one thousand copies are subsequently delivered to Getty's English country estate, to shame him into action). It's an assured performance and- in an awards season full of fascinating, complex female characters- is a particular highlight. 

Mark Wahlberg is pretty decent as Fletcher Chase, although he's not given an awful lot of character. He's a negotiator, he's been divorced multiple times and... that's really all we know. He gets a particularly strong scene towards the end where Chase- exasperated by Getty's intransigence- lays into the old man. Charlie Plummer (no relation to Christopher) is good as Paul; he's not a loud, bratty, entitled kid, he's a gentle, almost timid person. There are several tough scenes where Paul really goes through the wringer and you really feel for him. There's also a strong performance by Romain Duris as Cinquanta, one of Paul's kidnappers (who is sympathetic to the boy and tries to help him out). 

This is a sumptuous, good-looking film. Dariusz Wolski's cinematography is particularly good; the opening shot as Paul wanders through Rome before the abduction is beautifully done; scenes at Getty's English estate are opulent, all wood panelling and classical art. There are several standout sequences- the police raid on the compound is thrilling, and the final sequence involving Paul, Gail, Fletcher, the police and the kidnappers all running round the narrow, misty streets of a small Italian town is similarly pulse-racing. 

I do wonder how many people will go and see All The Money In The World just because of the Spacey controversy. I certainly can't imagine the decision to recast and reshoot so close to release was taken lightly, and- given such a tight turnaround- the entire crew is to be commended for getting everything shot and edited and ready in time. To be honest, it doesn't really matter why you're going to see the film. It's an intriguing story that's incredibly well told. 

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Tez 

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Review: Molly's Game (UK Cert 15)


Molly Bloom has had an extraordinary life- she was an Olympic-standard skiier who was accepted to law school, and- whilst working in an office- she got introduced to the world of high-stakes poker. She eventually ran exclusive poker games in Los Angeles and New York, before being arrested by the FBI. All this happened by the age of 35. Now, the story of this extraordinary life has been made into a film, starring Jessica Chastain as Molly. 

I think that it's only a matter of time  before Jessica Chastain gets an Oscar. She's a fantastic actress and she really gets under the skin of this fascinating, flawed character here. Fiercely determined to be the best at whatever she does, Molly takes the opportunity to learn all she can whilst arranging the poker nights for her entitled arsehole of a boss and when she finally usurps him and takes over the game herself- in a real punch-the-air moment, after he jealously fires her- she uses her charisma and contacts to elevate the game from a scuzzy backroom in a Hollywood bar to suites at the most exclusive hotels. How the wheels come off the business and she ends up indicted by the FBI is told in flashback as she prepares to stand trial. It's a truly powerful performance by Chastain who- even when Molly is at her lowest ebb- stands tall. 

Idris Elba is great as lawyer Charles Jaffey, who initially seeks to represent Molly at the arraignment hearing only but ends up taking her case (in a witty yet powerful sequence where he asks her bodyguard to switch places several times so he can get some answers). Jaffey is a principled man, eager to untie the knots around the case, and his exchanges with Molly really spark. He also gets an absolutely barnstorming speech towards the end of the film where he rips into the prosecuting attorneys on Molly's behalf. 
  
Other great performances come from Jeremy Strong as Molly's former boss who introduces her to the world of poker and gives a performance of deliciously entitled arrogance, and there's an intriguing cameo from Michael Cera who plays a slimy Hollywood star known as 'Player X' (widely thought to be based on Tobey Maguire). It's Player X's mocking phonecall after he selfishly dismantles Molly's Los Angeles game that inspires her move to New York, where her downfall begins.  

Molly's Game is the directorial debut of Aaron Sorkin (writer of The Social Network and Steve Jobs, and who also writes the screenplay here). The film is very stylish and stylised; there's a lot of on-screen visuals added to help with Molly's explanations of things (in the opening skiing section, for instance, or in one particularly important hand of poker). This isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially if- like me- you're not massively au fait with poker. To be honest, you don't really need to be: anything important is explained (such as any of the terminology used). 

The script is tight, full of the usual Sorkin whipsmart rat-a-tat exchanges. It falls down in a couple of places- I had a nagging feeling towards the end that the film tries to pin Molly's actions (albeit subconsciously) down to 'daddy issues'. Molly has a fractious and combative relationship with her authoritarian psychologist father (a strong supporting performance by Kevin Costner) but the final confrontation between the two- where Molly has 'three years of therapy in three minutes' just before she has decide whether she's pleading guilty or not- felt to me like an attempt to wrap things up nicely. Despite this, both Costner and Chastain knock it out of the park with emotionally authentic performances. There's also a heavy reliance on Molly's voiceover to discuss people or scenes which sometimes feels a little laboured. Show, don't tell is the cardinal rule. The film is also long- at nearly two and a half hours- but no part feels like padding. 

That said, these niggles weren't enough to derail my enjoyment of and enthusiasm for the film. Take a seat at Molly's game; you won't regret it.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Tez