The Watchers

The Watchers

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Review: Inside Llewyn Davis (UK Cert 15)



OK, confession time: I'm not the Coen brothers' biggest fan. I don't actively dislike them and I have enjoyed a number of their films (O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Fargo and True Grit) but I don't class myself as a fan of their work. Usually, I have to be in the mood for a Coen brothers film as sometimes their characters may strike me as quirky or idiosyncratic at one sitting, but downright bizarre or annoying at another. And let's not even go near their ill-advised and downright awful remake of The Ladykillers... But the trailer for Inside Llewyn Davis seemed intriguing, so I thought I'd- in the immortal words of The Watchers- give it a punt. 

Inside Llewyn Davis is a bit of an odd film to categorise. It's probably best described as a character study, I suppose. Set in New York's Greenwich Village in 1961, Llewyn (Oscar Isaac) is a struggling folk singer, performing at the Gaslight Cafe and sofa-surfing with friends and acquaintances. What happens next is a series of vignettes rather than a fully-formed plot or story; in fact, Joel Coen has remarked that 'the film doesn't really have a plot'. Llewyn ends up having to carry a ginger cat around with him until he can reunite it with its owners. He's previously slept with his friend Jean (a fiery Carey Mulligan) and she's pregnant but it could be either Llewyn's or her boyfriend Jim's (a dimwatt Justin Timberlake). He sees his manager. He gets some session work. He rides to Chicago with an obnoxious jazz musician (John Goodman) and his laconic valet (Garrett Hedlund). And so the film goes on. 

Performance-wise, it's all good enough. Isaac makes for a compelling lead, even though Llewyn isn't that likeable as a character- he's abrasive, condescending, slightly big-headed and a little too sincere, baulking at his sister's suggestion that he could always go back to the merchant marines if the music doesn't work out. Sometimes, the Coen brother's films are comedies of embarrassment, piling misfortune on misfortune on some poor schmuck (for example, A Serious Man or Intolerable Cruelty), making it almost excruciating to watch them struggle against the mounting absurdities around them. There's an element of that to Inside Llewyn Davis- although, in this case, some of those circumstances are of Llewyn's own making.

Other performances are similarly good. John Goodman's character Roland Turner embodies my previous statement about Coen brothers' characters; this time I found him quirky, another time I might have found him too brash or too oddball. Carey Mulligan doesn't have a lot else to do except snarl and throw some great one-liners at Llewyn, but she does it well and her singing voice is quite lovely. The music, produced by Marcus Mumford and T Bone Burnett, is- as you would expect- excellent; there are a few stand-out numbers such as 'Hang Me, Oh Hang Me' and 'If I Had Wings'. Bruno Delbonnel's cinematography is particularly good and overall it's a well-made piece, but I didn't love it and I'm finding it difficult to articulate why. 

Perhaps it's the lack of a clear-cut story? Maybe the script is a little too obtuse, a little too vague (although naming the Gorfiens' cat Ulysses is a none-too-subtle tip of the wink). Maybe it's the fact that the central character is actually a bit of a jerk. During one scene, Llewyn's manager mentions another character- a singing soldier called Troy Nelson (Stark Sands)- and predicts he'll be big because 'People connect to him' (unlike Llewyn). The film also frustratingly leaves the character hanging.

So, in summary, certainly no Ladykillers but far from being a Fargo

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Tez 

Review: August: Osage County (UK Cert 15)



Blood is thicker than water. You can choose your friends, but you can't choose your family. Both of these truisms have at their heart the complex and sometimes fractious relationship of family at their core, and that's something that describes August: Osage County to a tee. A merciless dissection of a dysfunctional family brought together by tragedy, it's adapted by Tracy Letts from his own Pulitzer Prize-winning stage play. It also brings together one of the finest ensemble casts assembled on-screen.

Leading from the front is Meryl Streep in a role that has just garnered her an unparalleled eighteenth Oscar nomination. Formidable matriarch Violet Weston is an absolute gem of a role and Streep attacks it with gusto- Violet is by turns a pathetic, fragile, drug-addled mess, without her wig and glazed behind the eyes (she is receiving treatment for mouth cancer) and then she's a malevolent presence at the dinner table, poised like a black widow spider, cigarette in hand, ready to deliver a barbed comment (of which there are many) at any of the unfortunate family members round the table. There are times when you really feel for the woman and there are times that you just want to slap her, but she's a force of nature and it's another very impressive performance by one of the world's very best actresses.

Equally as good is Julia Roberts, who plays eldest daughter Barbara. Struggling with the breakdown of her own marriage to Bill (a quiet and studious Ewan McGregor) and dealing with a precocious teenage daughter (Abigail Breslin), Barbara clashes spectacularly with Violet and also becomes embroiled in the other dramas circling the Weston household as- inevitably- old secrets are revealed and age-old resentments come to the boil. It's a tough role but Roberts acquits herself perfectly in it.

Whilst Roberts and Streep have had the lion's share of the awards praise, each member of the ensemble cast is pitched perfect. This is high drama, heightened drama and every member of the main cast gets a moment to shine. It seems unfair to single any member out, as they all do such a sterling job. Julianne Nicholson and Juliette Lewis play the other two Weston daughters- Ivy and Karen- and there's a wonderful scene between the three sisters where a few surprising truths tumble out; Nicholson is just excellent as the mousy Ivy while Lewis is great as the slightly self-deluding Karen. There's a strong performance by Margo Martindale as Violet's sister Mattie Fae, another vicious-tongued harridan who hasn't got a good word to say for her own son Little Charles (Benedict Cumberbatch, playing against type as a nervy, anxious man with a secret love). Chris Cooper has some great scenes as de facto patriarch Charlie, particularly when he calls Mattie Fae out about her treatment of their son.

This is an adaptation of a play and feels like it- it never really slips from the stage origins. Apart from some brooding shots of the Oklahoma landscape, the action is focused on the actors and their performances. But that's OK. There doesn't need to be any visual tricks or gimmicks- the pyrotechnics here come from the words. Director John Wells has a strong grounding in directing for TV (having done episodes of ER and the US version of Shameless) and it shows. It's almost as if he's set the cameras up and let the actors get on with it, and when you have actors of this calibre, they will not disappoint.

Letts also wrote the plays Bug and Killer Joe (both have been filmed), both of which take a very bleak look at the world and human relations. The same is true here: there's precious little comfort here, people are- in some cases- unnecessarily cruel to one another, and the one glimpse of happiness is shot down in a shocking revelation which, for me, delivered an exquisite little gut-punch but might leave others cold. There has been so many other secrets revealed up to this point that it could be felt that another might overturn the apple-cart and launch the film into a place that's almost too ridiculous. But for me, it worked, even if it does rob the piece of a saving grace.

This will not be to everyone's tastes. It does present a very bleak view of the world and the people in it, that people are selfish and cruel and nasty to those they're supposed to love, and it's also got a rather downbeat view of family (Ivy states at one point that they're 'just people, accidentally connected by genetics') but it's wickedly funny in place- the script is alive with so many vicious one-liners, it's unreal- and the uniformally brilliant performances makes it shine.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Tez

Friday, 24 January 2014

Review: Philomena (UK Cert 12A)



A surprise contender for the Best Picture Oscar this year (for me, anyway), Philomena is a relatively low-budget British film directed by Stephen Frears (The Queen, Dangerous Liaisons, The Grifters).

Political journalist Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) is looking for a new direction after losing his job. A chance meeting at a party leads him to the incredible story of Philomena Lee (Judi Dench), a woman who- fifty years earlier- had her son taken away from her (and later adopted) whilst she was living at a convent. Initially unsure if he wants to take a 'human interest' story, Martin relents and agrees to help Philomena look for her long lost son. This is not just a film about a woman's search for her lost son. It's a finely wrought drama (with some moments of comedy) which touches on the themes of loss, family, and faith and throws a few surprises in along the way for good measure.

Judi Dench gives an outstanding performance in the title role (no surprises there). It's a performance of great restraint and dignity. Her Philomena feels like a sweet little old woman, chatty and friendly. Quite a bit of the humour comes from her being put in fish-out-of-water scenarios or just saying something innocuously outrageous (there's a good example of this in the trailer). Some critics have seen this as the film sneering or poking fun at the character, but I never felt that the tone was mocking or they were going for the cheap or easy laugh. 

Steve Coogan also proves his acting chops as the disillusioned Martin. Put all thoughts of Alan Partridge aside. Initially coming off as a bit smug and self-satisfied, a little curmudgeonly and patronising, he mellows as the story goes on. Almost the polar opposite of Philomena, he's a cynical athiest with no time for the Catholic church. The two form a bit of a chalk-and-cheese Odd Couple but the rapport between the two is quite lovely.

The script- adapted by Coogan and Jeff Pope from Martin Sixsmith's book- is decent and well-paced, if it does veer to the overly preachy or polemical when it starts to discuss the big topic of religion. What happened to Philomena- and hundreds, if not thousands, of other young women- was horrendous; callous cruelty masquerading as Christian charity. For the most part, the film portrays this almost neutrally but the final showdown (if you like), however, does threaten to tip over into tubthumping as Martin verbally lays into one of the nuns. Perhaps the most extraordinary thing is that Philomena is still a person of incredibly devout faith despite the mistreatment she received at the hands of the Church.

It's not a perfect film, but it's a remarkable story (made even more so because it's true, although some dramatic license has been used) and another great performance by Judi Dench. For fans of British drama, it's well worth an hour and a half of your time.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Tez

Thursday, 23 January 2014

The Wolf of Wall Street (Cert: 18)


For over a decade there has been a sense of déjà vu with Scorsese’s films: his latest arrives on a fifty storey tidal wave of hype, critics hailing it as easily as good as Taxi Driver or Raging Bull, but this is never the case. Gangs of New York, The Aviator, even The Departed: all solid entries on the director’s peerless CV, but nothing that comes close to his early days. The Wolf of Wall Street feels like the first film in a long time that breathes the same air as the masterpieces that made Scorsese’s name.

The problem with Scorsese’s most recent films is that they don’t feel like Scorsese is behind the camera, that he is going out of his way to win awards. With The Departed it was as if Scorsese was doing his best Tarantino impression rather than make another Scorsese picture. The Wolf of Wall Street is Scorsese back to his playful, rule-breaking self, setting up scenes that you think will go one way, then veer off in the opposite direction. It’s three chaotic hours of virtually scene-for-scene sex, drugs and ticking off every foul-mouthed word in the English language. It’s also one of the strongest scripts that Scorsese has brought to the screen.

Like Henry Hill in GoodFellas, Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) is loathsome and morally bankrupt. In Wolf’s opening scenes we are introduced to the man and his lifestyle (all swiftly cut together by Scorsese’s long-time editor, Thelma Schoonmaker). He is arrogant, egotistical and unrepentant. Screenwriter Terence Winter does not soften the film’s protagonist: this is the man that you are going to spend the next three hours with, like it or not. It is to both Winter and DiCaprio’s credit that we do not walk out within the first ten minutes. We may not like Belfort, but we want to see him rise as well as, inevitably, fall.

Belfort is arguably DiCarprio’s best performance. Scorsese has nurtured DiCaprio since they first worked together on Gangs of New York, and if DiCaprio’s role as Amsterdam Vallon felt safe, that at no point was he really challenged as an actor, then with The Wolf of Wall Street DiCaprio is given a sandpit to play in and do whatever the hell he likes. He gets to do intense, showman-like speeches as Belfort fires up his employees at Stratton Oakmont, deliver razor-sharp, irreverent voiceovers, and gives us a master class in slapstick comedy (it’s only January and Wolf has already given us one of the stand-out set pieces of 2014, when Belfort, drugged up to his eyeballs, attempts to crawl back into his car).

The Wolf of Wall Street is very much a film of two halves; Belfort’s rise and fall. In the first half DiCaprio is fast talking, impassioned, every facial muscle getting used. Belfort may make his money by stealing it from everyone else, a “Twisted Robin Hood who takes from the rich and gives to himself and his merry band of brokers” as Forbes once described him, but you cannot take your eyes off the man while he’s doing it. As with so many rich and powerful men, ego gets the better of Belfort and DiCaprio delivers the flip side of the wild performance he gives early on. As the FBI and FCC cut Belfort down to size, DiCaprio becomes far more restrained. He is hunched up, exhausted, speaking softly and slowly. There are moments where we glimpse the fierce, take no prisoners Belfort, but he is a different man now, having everything he strived to build taken away from him. Few actors are as versatile and even fewer are as convincing. So much of what makes The Wolf of Wall Street such an outstanding film is down to DiCaprio.

Another actor giving everything and then that little bit more is Jonah Hill as Donnie Azoff, Belfort’s protégé and literal partner in crime. Hill has been great to watch ever since he first appeared in Superbad. Here he transforms from a man who envies Belfort, to becoming Belfort’s shadow. Like DiCaprio, not only does Hill get to fire smart one-liners and deliver priceless moments of physical comedy, but he can also, impressively, be both subtle and moving. When Azoff realises that Belfort is working as an informant for the FBI, he is reduced to silence, choking back tears. It is heartbreaking to watch and once again confirms that Hill is far more than a comedy actor.

While The Wolf of Wall Street could be otherwise known as The Leonardo DiCaprio Show, the film has plenty of cameos. Most films struggle to have one memorable supporting role, Wolf has several. Best of the bunch is Matthew McConaughey as Belfort’s mentor Mark Hanna. Everything that McConaughey says or does is brilliantly funny; you wonder how much of his performance is derived from the script and how much did he come up with on the spot. The Artist’s Jean Dujardin appears as a slimy banker, almost permanently wearing a devious smile and, while dressed in sharp suits and giving an air of sophistication, is just as grubby as Belfort. Joanna Lumley makes a surprise appearance as Naomi’s (Margot Robbie) English aunt; a scene involving Belfort flirting with her being both comical and awkward to watch.

The majority of Scorsese’s films are dotted with pitch black humour, yet The Wolf of Wall Street feels like Scorsese’s first real attempt at comedy. Considering the film is three hours long, you will be laughing for much of its running time. Wolf’s 180 minutes are not constant laughter, however, Terence Winter has also written a number of powerful, eye-opening scenes. One of the film’s many set pieces is when Belfort and his nemesis, FBI agent Patrick Denham (Kyle Chandler) meet for the first time. Offering Denham plenty of fine food and wine, as well as sneakily trying to bribe him, you think that Belfort has got away with it. This is merely an act from Denham who makes it all too clear to Belfort that he is after him. For the majority of this scene Belfort has been the one in control, leading Denham on a merry dance, when it has been Denham all along who has been playing the multi-millionaire.

When the FBI start picking away at Belfort, threatening him with court appearances and decades in prison, it is a Wizard of Oz moment as the curtain is pulled back, revealing a repulsive man behind the money and the style, his wife Naomi bearing the brunt of his temper and out of control drug taking. This could have been a cynical way to justify how, for much of the film, Belfort is portrayed as a messiah figure; the villain of the piece finally getting his comeuppance. Everyone watching The Wall of Wall Street is waiting for things to turn sour for Belfort and they do so in spectacular style, but Winter does this in a way that feels satisfying rather than pretentious.

Many critics have questioned the morals of The Wolf of Wall Street, or, as they see it, the lack of them. I’m going to back very slowly away from the debate over Martin Scorsese’s films being explicitly violent or sexist, but what I will point out with The Wolf of Wall Street is that it is based on the life of Jordan Belfort, a man for whom excess was his everyday life. Imagine the outcry from those same critics if Scorsese toned down Belfort’s exploits, there would be plenty of reviews out there all repeating the words “let down”, “a waste”, and “a cynical attempt to win another Best Director award”.

Does Belfort get the punishment he deserves? I don’t think it spoils the film by saying no, not exactly. This is one of the many reasons why critics feel that the film celebrates greed, which is not true at all. At no point does Scorsese judge Belfort; instead he shows us the world we live in, that is on the front page of the tabloids almost every day. People like Belfort have been allowed to exploit their way to wealth and power, which begs the question, just who is the real villain here?

The Wolf of Wall Street is Scorsese back to his very best, throwing all sorts of original and insane ideas at the screen. Under any other director this could have been a painful, even embarrassing three hours, but Scorsese’s confident direction keeps the film utterly focused and at no point does it flag. Updating the gangsters and hustlers of his earlier films to the three-thousand dollar suit wearing stockbrokers, Scorsese gives us a near-perfect study of this world, these apparently respectable people cutting corners and getting rich the easy way.

It may take several years, but The Wolf of Wall Street will be ranked up there with Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and GoodFellas as one of Scorsese’s most celebrated films.

5 out of 5

Matt

Monday, 20 January 2014

Awards Season 2014: Critics Choice Awards, SAG Awards and Producers Guild Awards



Over the past week, there have been three major sets of awards handed out

CRITICS CHOICE AWARDS


The Critcs Choice Awards were given out on Thursday January 16th. Below are a list of selected film winners:

Best Picture: 12 Years A Slave

Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)

Best Actress: Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)

Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

Best Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years A Slave)

Best Acting Ensemble: American Hustle

Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)

A full list of winners can be found here. The Critics Choice Awards also have separate categories for Action movies, Sci-Fi/Horror movies and comedies as well, so it's a much broader base.


SCREEN ACTORS GUILD (SAG) AWARDS


The SAG Awards were handed out in a ceremony on Saturday January 18th. The film winners were:

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture: 
American Hustle

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role: 
Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role:
Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role:
Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role:
Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years A Slave)


I think it's safe to say there's a bit of a pattern emerging here.



PRODUCERS GUILD AWARDS (PGA)


The PGAs were handed out yesterday (Sunday January 19th). The film winners were:

Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures: Gravity and 12 Years A Slave

Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures: Frozen

Documentary Film: We Steal Secrets: The Story Of WikiLeaks

Now this is where things get interesting. For the first time in its 25 year history, there was a tie for the Theatrical Motion Pictures category. The winner of the PGA is generally a lock for the Best Picture Oscar, but the fact that the PGA has gone to two films may mean that things are a bit more open than people expect. I think the result of the Directors Guild Awards (DGA) which will be handed out this coming Saturday (25th January) could also raise an interesting point or two.

Things slacken off with Awards Season after this past weekend - there'll be a brief round-up at the start of February once the Directors Guild and Writers Guild Awards will be handed out, and the next big one will be the BAFTAs in mid-February.

Normal blogging service will now resume

Tez

Saturday, 18 January 2014

The Railway Man (Cert: 15)


There are plenty of war films as well as its many sub-genres out there, but out of all of them I would pick the Prisoner of War film as the most difficult to make, largely because what can be said about the atrocities that prisoners experienced has already been skilfully done, leaving little room to add anything new. For me, not just the very best Prisoner of War film, but one of the finest war films ever made, is Michael Cimino’s The Deer Hunter.

Jonathan Teplitzky’s adaptation of the memoirs of Japanese prisoner of war, Eric Lomax, gives us something different in that Lomax forgave his tormentor, Takashi Nagase, who, while Nagase did not physically torture Lomax, he did something arguably worse: he stood by and did nothing.

The Railway Man ticks all the boxes for awards glory, critical and commercial success, and ending up in a large number of DVD collections. While the film is a decent enough way to spend two hours, it does feel like a waste. Instead of being a good film, this could have been a highlight in Firth and Teplitzky’s careers.

The problem lies first and foremost with Frank Cottrell-Boyce and Andy Paterson’s script, which jumps wildly between Lomax in the eighties (Colin Firth) and his time in the prisoner of war camp (played by Jeremy Irvine), rushing at breakneck speed towards the credits. For a film that centres on purgatory and redemption, The Railway Man spends little time exploring these themes.

Considering the acting talent involved, no one is given all that much to work with. Firth fares best, doing a convincing job portraying a man who is plagued by traumas of the past, but at no point is he stretched. The film would have been far more interesting if we were shown more of Lomax’s day-to-day life as he struggles with his demons, distancing himself from his wife, their marriage at breaking point. Instead, apart from a powerful moment when Lomax wakes from one of his nightmares, traumatised, and a handful of scenes where Lomax shuts himself away, we never get a full understanding of how Lomax’s experiences as a prisoner affected him. As Nicole Kidman explains, whenever she asks her husband about his experiences in Japan, “He changes the subject,” which more or less sums up The Railway Man and how it treats its protagonist: it changes subject, hurriedly moves on from one scene to the next.

Jeremy Irvine is first-rate as the younger Lomax, mimicking Firth’s diction and mannerisms. Sadly, Irvine gets lumbered with a clichéd role as the shy, frightened soldier who stands up to his captors; he is not given the chance to do anything else. The only reason we sympathise with the young Lomax is because we witness the terrible ways he is tortured. It feels like a cheap trick to side with a character just because we see them get beaten black and blue.

Hiroyuki Sanada holds your attention during what little time he has onscreen. As an older Nagase, he also has his scars, spending his life trying to atone for the past. Despite Firth appearing virtually throughout the film, it is Sanada’s scenes that pack the biggest emotional punch. While The Railway Man has its fair share of problems, it is impossible not to be moved in the film’s climactic scene.

While the trailer for The Railway Man had the acting credits as Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman, Kidman has very little to do in the film except look concerned for her husband; there are long stretches in the film where she does not even appear. While Kidman’s role is solely as a narrative device – Lomax still has something to live for – Patricia could have been far more fleshed out. She is a devoted wife, struggling to cope as her husband becomes more and more introverted, none of which is shown in any great detail. Scarcely any screen time is invested in Patricia which, when you have an actress as peerless as Kidman, is a real waste.

Stellan Skarsgård as the older Finlay is the most short-changed, acting-wise. Like Patricia, he is another narrative device. Finlay would rather bury his trauma, live his life in silence, than try and deal with it. He is a living, breathing ghost, with no trace of a life, and is what Lomax will become if he does not confront his demons. Yet the older Finlay appears on screen for all of five minutes, his dialogue largely exposition or pushing the narrative along. An actor as consistently outstanding as Skarsgård deserves better than this (see Marius Holst’s King of Devil’s Island for one of Skarsgård’s stand-out performances), having been given a role he can scarcely do anything with.

Considering this is a film largely set in Japan and tells the story of a man obsessed with the world’s most scenic railways, the cinematography and editing is nothing special. The visuals in the film tell the story, no more, no less. Personally, I can forgive a film that visually does nothing new if a director has paid more attention to the actors and storytelling, but Teplitzky does none of this. The Railway Man is in too much of a rush, never taking the time to explain anything or get inside the heads of its characters.

Despite all of this, The Railway Man is a decent watch, thanks largely to Firth and Sanada. The film hurries towards Lomax confronting Nagase and these scenes are, for the most part, well handled. There is real tension as Lomax interrogates Nagase, followed by moments that are genuinely moving, Lomax realising that Nagase is not the same man who mistreated him all those years ago. The script does not explore these characters, how they have both suffered, as much as it should, but Firth and Sanada make their scenes together immensely powerful. The last twenty minutes of The Railway Man feels like a different film entirely; it is gentle, thoughtful, and takes its time. When dealing with a story as moving and profound as Lomax’s, this is how Teplitzky should have structured his film, but instead he is in a mad rush, covering as much ground as he can, giving few of the film’s scenes the depth they deserve.

The Railway Man is a passable war film, when, considering the source material and the talent on board, it should have been one of the greatest.

3 out of 5

Matt

Friday, 17 January 2014

Programme 35: 12 Years A Slave, American Hustle, Last Vegas and Anchorman 2


The Watchers Film Show Ep 35 from The Watchers Film Show on Vimeo.

Our latest show is now available to view!

In the first show of 2014, we look at awards heavyweights 12 Years A Slave and American Hustle and comedies Last Vegas and Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.

Enjoy!

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Awards Season 2014: Academy Award Nominations



As announced earlier today, here is a selection of the nominations for this year's Academy Awards:

BEST PICTURE
12 Years A Slave
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
Gravity
Her
Nebraska
Philomena
The Wolf Of Wall Street

BEST DIRECTOR
Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)
Steve McQueen (12 Years A Slave)
Alexander Payne (Nebraska)
David O. Russell (American Hustle)
Martin Scorsese (The Wolf Of Wall Street)

BEST ACTOR
Christian Bale (American Hustle)
Bruce Dern (Nebraska)
Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf Of Wall Street)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave)
Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)

BEST ACTRESS
Amy Adams (American Hustle)
Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
Judi Dench (Philomena)
Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)
Bradley Cooper (American Hustle)
Michael Fassbender (12 Years A Slave)
Jonah Hill (The Wolf Of Wall Street)
Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine)
Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years A Slave)
Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)
June Squibb (Nebraska)

So I make that 28 out of 34 correct - 82% - which is pretty good (and better than last year). I'm overjoyed at seeing Sally Hawkins getting nominated for Best Supporting Actress- she more than holds her own against the frankly brilliant Cate Blanchett. It's also nice to see Philomena get nominated for Best Picture as well. 

In other categories, Iron Man 3, Star Trek: Into Darkness and The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug have all been nominated for Best Visual Effects. Hayao Miyazaki's The Wind Rises is up against The Croods, Ernest And Celestine, Despicable Me 2 and Frozen for Best Animated Feature. Perhaps the most bizarre nomination so far is for Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa which had had a nod for Best Make-Up and Hairstyling!

Congratulations to all nominees - a full list can be found here

The 86th Academy Awards will be handed out on Sunday March 2nd 2014 in a ceremony hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, taking hosting duties for the second time. The theme for this year's ceremony is that of cinematic heroes. Can't wait!

Next up for Awards Season are the Critics Choice Awards (tonight), the Screen Actors Guild Awards (Saturday) and the Producers Guild Awards (Sunday). I'll do a round-up post of these results on Monday.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Awards Season 2014: Tez's Official Academy Award Nomination Predictions



On Thursday 16th January, at 5:38am PST, in the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre in Beverly Hills, Cheryl Boone Isaacs (president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) and Chris Hemsworth (Thor, Rush, The Cabin In The Woods) will announce the nominations for the 86th Academy Awards, due to be held on Sunday 2nd March. 

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 on Thursday.

NB. Just like the last few years, 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
12 Years A Slave
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
Gravity
Her
Inside Llewyn Davis
Nebraska
Saving Mr. Banks
The Wolf Of Wall Street

BEST DIRECTOR
Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)
Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips)
Steve McQueen (12 Years A Slave)
David O. Russell (American Hustle)
Martin Scorsese (The Wolf Of Wall Street)

BEST ACTOR
Christian Bale (American Hustle)
Bruce Dern (Nebraska)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave)
Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips)
Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)

BEST ACTRESS
Amy Adams (American Hustle)
Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
Judi Dench (Philomena)
Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)
Daniel Bruhl (Rush)
Bradley Cooper (American Hustle)
Michael Fassbender (12 Years A Slave)
Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years A Slave)
Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)
June Squibb (Nebraska)
Oprah Winfrey (The Butler)

As usual, I think there are some definites, a few maybes and perhaps a couple of WTFs in my predictions.

Her is probably an outside shot for a Best Picture nomination, but stranger things have happened. With Best Director, I've gone for the five nominated for the BAFTA and for the DGA - however, that doesn't mean that it's set. Alexander Payne may well sneak a nomination for Nebraska (possibly in place of Scorsese). 

In the Best Actor category, there's always a chance that Robert Redford (All Is Lost) or Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf Of Wall Street) could be named. Of the five names up there, I'd say Christian Bale is the one in most risk of being replaced. With Best Actress, Meryl Streep could well be named for August: Osage County or- if the Academy are in the mood to throw a curve-ball (which they often are)- Adele Exarchopoulos for Blue Is The Warmest Color

With Best Supporting Actor, there are a couple of additional choices that the Academy could go for - the one that springs to mind is the late James Gandolfini for Enough Said (his final role). It was touch-and-go whether I put Sally Hawkins down for Best Supporting Actress (for Blue Jasmine) but in the end I opted for Oprah Winfrey instead.

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. I'll add the official nominations once they're announced on Thursday afternoon.

Tez

Awards Season 2014: Razzie Nominations



Today saw the nominations announced for the Golden Raspberry Awards (a.k.a. Razzies). 

Dishonouring the very worst in cinema in 2013, Grown Ups 2 leads the field with 8 nominations, whilst there are nods for both Adam Sandler and Tyler Perry (the Razzie panel seriously dislike those two) and Sylvester Stallone gets his 31st Razzie nomination.


WORST PICTURE
After Earth
Grown Ups 2
The Lone Ranger
A Madea Christmas
Movie 43

WORST ACTOR
Johnny Depp (The Lone Ranger)
Ashton Kutcher (Jobs)
Adam Sandler (Grown Ups 2)
Jaden Smith (After Earth)
Sylvester Stallone (Bullet to the Head, Escape Plan and Grudge Match)

WORST ACTRESS
Halle Berry (The Call and Movie 43)
Selena Gomez (Getaway)
Lindsay Lohan (The Canyons and InAPPropriate Comedy)
Tyler Perry (as Madea) (A Madea Christmas)
Naomi Watts (Diana and Movie 43)

WORST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Chris Brown (Battle of the Year)
Larry the Cable Guy (A Madea Christmas)
Taylor Lautner (Grown Ups 2)
Will Smith (After Earth)
Nick Swardson (A Haunted House and Grown Ups 2)

WORST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Salma Hayek (Grown Ups 2)
Katherine Heigl (The Big Wedding)
Kim Kardashian (Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor)
Lady Gaga (Machete Kills)
Lindsay Lohan (Scary Movie 5)

WORST SCREEN COMBO
The entire cast of Grown Ups 2
The entire cast of Movie 43
Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen (Scary Movie 5)
Tyler Perry and either Larry the Cable Guy or that worn out wig and dress (A Madea Christmas)
Jaden Smith and Will Smith on planet nepotism (After Earth)

WORST REMAKE, RIP-OFF OR SEQUEL
Grown Ups 2
The Lone Ranger
The Hangover Part III
Scary Movie 5
Smurfs 2

WORST DIRECTOR
Dennis Dugan (Grown Ups 2)
Tyler Perry (A Madea Christmas and Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor)
M. Night Shyamalan (After Earth)
the thirteen directors of Movie 43
Gore Verbinski (The Lone Ranger)

WORST SCREENPLAY
After Earth
Grown Ups 2
The Lone Ranger
A Madea Christmas
Movie 43

As is traditional, the Razzies will be handed out the day before the Oscars, which means this year they'll be awarded on Saturday 1st March.

Next up will be my predictions for tomorrow's Oscar nominations. I'll post them shortly.

Tez

Monday, 13 January 2014

Awards Season 2014: Golden Globe Winners

Last night, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) announced the winners of this year's Golden Globe Awards, for both television and film, in a ceremony hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler for the second time.

Here is the full list of film winners.

Best Motion Picture (Drama): 12 Years a Slave

Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy): American Hustle

Best Director: Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity)

Best Actor (Drama): Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)

Best Actor (Comedy or Musical): Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street)

Best Actress (Drama): Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)

Best Actress (Comedy or Musical): Amy Adams (American Hustle)

Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)

Best Screenplay: Her

Best Original Score: All Is Lost

Best Original Song: 'Ordinary Love' (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom)

Best Foreign Language Film: The Great Beauty

Best Animated Feature Film: Frozen

Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award: Woody Allen

There were a number of surprising results- a lot of people were expecting Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong'o to win Best Actor (Drama) and Best Supporting Actress respectively for their performances in 12 Years A Slave instead of McConaughey and Lawrence. The Golden Globes are usually a good barometer for what's going on with the Academy, so it may mean that the Oscars are a little more open that people expect. Whilst I wasn't in love with Gravity as a whole, I was blown away by the technical brilliance of the direction so Cuaron is a worthy winner. I'm also glad to see Cate Blanchett's win for her stunning turn in Blue Jasmine.

Next up with Awards Season will be the Razzie nominations this coming Wednesday (15th January), and I will also share my predictions for the Oscar nominations.

Tez

Friday, 10 January 2014

Awards Season 2014: BAFTA Nominations


For those who may have been wondering (not very many of you, I expect), the slight delay in putting up this post comes from a move of house. But fear not, trusty award season aficionados (all 3 of you), I am now well and truly internet-ted up and can post away. Joy unbounded, eh?

Anyway, Awards Season is well and truly in full swing: it's Golden Globes weekend, and the nominations have been announced for the Producers Guild Awards, the Directors Guild Awards, and the Writers Guild Awards. Next week will see the announcement of the Razzies (on Wednesday 15th) before the Oscar nominations are announced on Thursday 16th. I will, as last year, put my official Oscar nomination predictions up the day before the announcement.

My main reason for posting, though, is that earlier this week- Wednesday 8th January, to be precise- the nominations were announced for this years BAFTA Film Awards. Here's a selection of the nominations:




BEST FILM
12 Years A Slave
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Gravity
Philomena

OUTSTANDING BRITISH FILM
Gravity
Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom
Philomena
Rush
Saving Mr. Banks
The Selfish Giant

LEADING ACTOR
Christian Bale (American Hustle)
Bruce Dern (Nebraska)
Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf Of Wall Street)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave)
Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips)

LEADING ACTRESS
Amy Adams (American Hustle)
Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
Judi Dench (Philomena)
Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks)

SUPPORTING ACTOR
Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)
Daniel Bruhl (Rush)
Bradley Cooper (American Hustle)
Matt Damon (Behind The Candelabra)
Michael Fassbender (12 Years A Slave)

SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine)
Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)
Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years A Slave)
Oprah Winfrey (The Butler)

DIRECTOR
Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)
Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips)
Steve McQueen (12 Years A Slave)
David O. Russell (American Hustle)
Martin Scorsese (The Wolf Of Wall Street)


A full list can be found here.

There's a few interesting additions and omissions here, mostly Matt Damon's nomination for Behind The Candelabra. Both he and Michael Douglas gave great performances but, as it didn't get a cinema release in the US, it's ineligible for a lot of the major awards. However, it was released in the cinema here. A lot of the usual names have been mentioned, but in some categories- mostly Leading Actor and Supporting Actress- there are a few lesser mentioned names which could make for an interesting curve-ball or two come the Oscar nominations. I'd absolutely love to see Sally Hawkins get an Oscar nod for Blue Jasmine.

Interestingly, the five nominations for Best Director tally directly with the Directors Guild Awards so I would expect to see all five names mentioned on Thursday. 

Next up for Awards Season will be Golden Globe results on Monday.

Enjoy your weekend.

Tez