The Watchers

The Watchers

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Awards Season 2016: Screen Actors' Guild Awards Winners


Yesterday (30th January), the Screen Actors' Guiold Awards were announced. Here are the film winners:

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture: 
Spotlight

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role: 
Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role: 
Brie Larson (Room)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role: 
Idris Elba (Beasts Of No Nation)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role: 
Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)

A good night for Idris Elba who also won Best Actor in a Miniseries for Luther. More awards for DiCaprio and Larson which really strengthen their Oscar chances (especially as the SAG Awards are voted on by actors, who also make up the voting arm of the Academy). A second win for Alicia Vikander (after the Critics' Choice win) might increase her chance of the Oscar win as well. Spotlight winning the Best Cast award (essentially Best Picture) does its chances no harm either in what is shaping up to be a rather unpredictable year for several categories. 

Next up with awards season will be the Directors' Guild Awards on February 6th.

Friday, 29 January 2016

The Watchers Film Show Blog is 4 today!


The Watchers Film Show Blog is 4 today!

We have had over 60,000 pageviews in the 4 years we've been running which- for an idle enterprise started between two mates for a bit of fun- is pretty good going.

We've had pageviews from all around the world: the United States, Russia, Ukraine, France, Germany, China, Canada, Turkey and Australia, as well as Israel, Ireland, Malaysia and South Korea!

In honour of our birthday, we've had a bit of a freshen up, with a new layout and a new logo. Let us know what you think of our new design!

A massive, huge thank you to everyone who has supported the blog over the last four years- we're really immensely grateful to everyone who's read, watched or listened to what we do. 

Thanks again,

The Watchers
(Rhys, Matt and Tez)


Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Review: The Big Short (UK Cert 15)


Based on a non-fiction book by Michael Lewis and co-written and directed by Adam McKay (Anchorman), The Big Short tells the story of some of the people who saw the impending collapse of the American housing market in 2008 (which subsequently plunged the world economy into difficulties). These include Dr. Michael Burry (Christian Bale), a hedge fund manager whose head for numbers first discovered the shady dealings which would eventually lead to the housing collapse; amoral trader Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling), who found Burry's proposal and decided to make a killing on it; perpetually angry hedge fund manager Mark Baum (Steve Carell) and his team who get introduced to the deal by Vennett via a wrong number call, and a pair of wet-behind-the-ears investors (John Magaro and Finn Wittrock) who are mentored by a retired banker, Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt). 

Performances are generally good. Bale gives a quirky, if slightly mannered, performance as Burry, the mastermind behind the 'short' (essentially betting against the banks). Gosling is assured and strangely likeable as the self-interested, slick Vennett. Carell's performance is maybe the strongest as Baum, angry at the venal self-serving arrogance of the banks and their practices.There are two great supporting turns by Melissa Leo as a ratings agency employee who calls Baum out on his hypocrisy and Marisa Tomei as Baum's wife who helps him through a personal tragedy.

There's a lot I didn't like about the film and most of it is stylistic. I didn't like the breaking of the fourth wall constantly (which I felt detracted from the flow of the story). There are a couple of celebrity cameos to explain some of the more technical points or jargon of the finance world, although they feel shoehorned in and- in the case of Margot Robbie in a bubble bath- slightly exploitative. There's also one of the most blatant pieces of sexposition (ie. setting an important piece of dialogue in a sexual context) when Baum and his team visit a bunch of strippers to explain that things are about to go tits up (excuse the pun). A tighter script could have easily explained these points without resorting to a Family Guy style cutaway. 

There are flickers of social commentary and the impact that the banks' recklessness would have. An investigation of an unoccupied housing estate in Florida, where people fled as soon as the eviction notices came in, and a conversation with a tenant who was about to lose his home and not even know it is powerful. Brad Pitt gets a slightly heavy-handed speech about the fact that, if his traders are right and cash in on the collapse, it's at the expense of people's jobs, homes and pensions. The final voiceover by Vennett explaining what actually happened- the bailouts, the bankers avoiding jail (only one banker faced jail time)- and some end-text which explains that the banks are starting to pull the same shit under a different name leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

Having watched the film over the weekend, I'm still at a bit of a loss to describe my reaction to it. It's being marketed as a comedy but I can count on the fingers of one hand the amount of times I actually laughed; it's also a biographical drama but it's a bit too slick and flashy. I'm also quite struggling to get the point of it all as well. The American economy went to hell in a handbasket in 2008 and caused ripples that are still being felt in the world today. We know this; we've lived it. The shady dealings of the banks and their monumental arrogance that they either a) wouldn't get found out or b) refused to acknowledge that the entire business was built on shoddy foundations is well documented. 

The film doesn't have the satirical bite of something like The Wolf Of Wall Street and it doesn't get sufficiently angry about the various injustices that the crisis unearthed. A bit of a disappointment.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Tez

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Review: Room (UK Cert 15)


Five year old Jack (Jacob Tremblay) and his Ma (Brie Larson) live in Room, a windowless confined space with rudimentary equipment. Ma is periodically visited by a man who they have named Old Nick (Sean Bridgers) who provides them with needed supplies. Eventually, Ma tells Jack the truth - when she was 17, Old Nick abducted her and has kept her locked in Room ever since (and is Jack's father, who was conceived by rape). Ma concocts an escape plan... It's not really a spoiler per se that the escape plan works, as the trailer makes it abundantly clear that they do get out. The second part of the film then shifts slightly and focuses on Jack and Ma's adjustment to the real world.  

Room is adapted by Emma Donoghue from her 2010 novel of the same name, and directed by Lenny Abrahamson (Frank). I read the book a few years ago and, whilst I had a few issues with it, I was intrigued to see how a film adaptation would work.

Brie Larson's performance is superb. You really feel sorry for her at the beginning, having to deal with the utter brattishness of a child who doesn't understand and the various travails that Old Nick puts her through. But she's strong and determined and she wants her son to have a better life. Her performance in the second part of the film- when she's out of Room- is very different. She's angry, she's unable to adjust or cope with everything that's going on and eventually snaps at her mother (a strong supporting performance by the ever-dependable Joan Allen) and then has a disastrous interview with a talk-show host. Larson really sells the performance and it's no surprise that the lion's share of the awards have gone to her. I'm pretty certain that, come the end of February, you can add an Oscar to that list.

One of the big issues I had with the book was that I didn't like how Jack behaved a lot of the time; I found him to be an absolute brat (which didn't make for an enjoyable read). Sadly, the adaptation has been quite faithful and, for a large part of the film (especially the first section when they were still in Room), I found Jack to be an insufferable little sod. It feels horrible saying that- like kicking a puppy- but paradoxically it's nothing to do with Jacob Tremblay's acting (who shoulders the weight of the film alongside Larson admirably). Tremblay's performance is strong and mostly avoids falling into precocious or wise-beyond-years (even if some of the voiceovers don't always chime with how a five-year-old thinks). It's just down to how the character has been written that was the main issue for me.

Abrahamson's direction is clear and focused and the scene where Jack emerges from beneath the rug he's been hidden in into the real world (birth metaphors aside) is disconcerting, almost approaching sensory overload and it's powerfully conveyed. There are a couple of strong visual moments throughout which keep things interesting (especially as the focus shifts from thriller to family drama). 

Room is not a cheerful film (despite being about the triumph of the human spirit and the strong bond between mother and child); this is a hard look at a tricky subject. If you're looking for laughs or for a switch-your-brain-off popcorn movie, look elsewhere. Generally speaking, it's a solid piece of film-making with a strong central performance by Brie Larson. A difficult film to enjoy but one that can be admired.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Tez

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Awards Season 2016: Producers' Guild Awards Winners



Last night (23rd January), the Producers' Guild of America announced its winners for the 2016 Producers' Guild Awards. 

The film winners are:

Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures: The Big Short

Documentary Film: Amy

Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures: Inside Out

No surprise that Inside Out took the Animated category and I'm really happy that Amy won the Documentary category. The fact that The Big Short won the PGA's equivalent of Best Film is interesting and certainly seems to suggest that the Oscar race isn't as cut and dried as people maybe first thought it was. I'm going to see The Big Short later on today so the PGA win is going to add food for thought.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Review: The Revenant (UK Cert 15)


Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's follow-up to the Oscar-winning Birdman puts him squarely back into awards territory with Western thriller drama The Revenant.

It's 1820s America. Frontiersman Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his half-Native American son Hawk (Forrest Goodluck) are working on a fur trapping expedition under the command of Captain Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson). When Glass is savagely mauled by a bear, Henry asks for two men to stay behind to tend to him. John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) and Jim Bridger (Will Poulter) stay with him, but Fitzgerald betrays them, killing Hawk and burying the severely injured Glass alive. Glass hauls himself out of the shallow grave and sets on a trek to find the man who betrayed him and killed his son.

The film is 'inspired by true events' and 'based in part' on a book by Michael Punke- the 'in part' bit no doubt being that a) there once lived a fur trapper called Hugh Glass, b) Glass did get mauled by a bear and was left for dead and c) Glass then went to find the men who left him for dead. Everything else- the son, the revenge plot- seems to be completely fabricated. For information on the historical accuracy (or otherwise), this is a good article to start with.

I'll be honest, when I saw the first trailer, I was kinda underwhelmed and thought 'looks alright-ish, might give it a punt if there's nothing else on'. And then the awards praise started coming which sealed the deal. So I sat through it. Whilst I thought it was better than The Hateful Eight (which isn't saying much), it shares a lot of the same problems. Lots of shots that take too long. Script issues. A preponderence of overindulgent extraneous bilge that detracts from what is, at heart, a strong and intriguing narrative which a damn good edit could bring to the fore.

A lot of column inches has been devoted to the relentless masculinity and brutality of the film, being severally described as 'gut-churningly brutal' and 'meaningless pain porn', which led one American critic to ham-fistedly and narrow-mindedly suggest that this was not a film for the ladies. Is it brutal? Yes, in places, but- in my opinion- not relentlessly so (this is no Saw or Hostel). There are several main 'action' sequences- the opening attack, the bear attack, the final fight- which are apt to induce winces as flesh is shredded, fingers are lopped off and skulls are caved in. The bear attack is not massively prolonged but is tough to watch (even though you can tell the bear is CGI). 

There's a lot of metaphor about the strength of trees and breath ('while you breathe, you fight') which is fine but Inarritu overeggs it with constant shots of both- DiCaprio's breath even misting the camera lens at a few points just in case you really haven't got it- and there are constant references back to both. It's heavy-handed and unnecessary. Give your audience some credit. And, whilst we're on the subject of unnecessary, the final shot of DiCaprio giving a thousand-yard stare right into the camera? Give me a break!

Much of the awards hype has been focusing on DiCaprio's performance and the fact that he's likely to finally win his Oscar; he's got the Golden Globe and Critics' Choice awards already. His performance as Glass is decent enough, hardly groundbreaking or revolutionary though. In my opinion, he's given better performances (and even been nominated for an Oscar for those performances; Howard Hughes in The Aviator, for instance). Being completely honest, of the Best Actor nominated performances I've seen so far this year, I was more impressed with the performances of Michael Fassbender and Eddie Redmayne than DiCaprio's. 

I think my main issue is less to do with his performance- which, as I said, is decent- and more to do with the fact that there isn't much of a character to start with (a direct fault of the script). Glass is a good trapper; he loves his son and loved his wife. That's it. There's not much to get behind there. There's also only so much crawling and grunting he can do before it really starts to test your patience. You also have the issue that, no matter what peril Glass is placed in on his trek for vengeance, you know he's not actually in any real danger because the final pay-off has to be a confrontation between Glass and Fitzgerald. So you can have him fall over a waterfall, have to hide from rampaging Native Americans or chuck him off a cliff and have him shelter in the gutted out remains of a horse, he's always going to survive (despite severe and almost life-ending injuries from the bear attack). 

Tom Hardy is Fitzgerald, the primary human antagonist, but confuses wide eyes and a mangled and wandering Texas accent for menace. Plus, he's written so paper thinly as an out-and-out bad guy from the very get-go that there's no nuance, no shade. He's a racist, self-centred bully. You're just waiting for him to strike. Plus he gets to deliver the most trite and platitudinous message at the end: revenge won't bring your son back. Well, no shit, Sherlock. Once again, the script lets the actors down. 

So, what's good? Well, once again, Emmanuel Lubezski's sublime cinematography serves the grandeur of the great outdoors to good effect. The supporting performances by Domhnall Gleeson and Will Poulter are strong, both good men stuck in a bad situation. The opening battle- where the trapper party is attacked by a band of maurauding Native Americans- is slickly handled and well choreographed. 

A script is a blueprint and without a strong blueprint, the house is not fit to stand. Despite some strong performances and arresting visuals, the fundamentally flawed script (lacking in any kind of nuanced characterisation) renders this bland and the overextended, overindulgent run time renders it boring. Despite this, I'm sure that it will be lauded with awards (and, in all seriousness, it should win the Oscar for Best Cinematography) and DiCaprio will almost certainly get his Oscar, thus rendering an entire raft of Internet memes completely obsolete. 

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Tez

Monday, 18 January 2016

Awards Season 2016: Critics' Choice Awards Winners


Last night, the Critics' Choice Awards were handed out. Here's a full list of film winners:

Best Picture: Spotlight

Best Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)

Best Actress: Brie Larson (Room)

Best Supporting Actor: Sylvester Stallone (Creed)

Best Supporting Actress: Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)

Best Acting Ensemble: Spotlight

Best Director: George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)

Best Animated Feature: Inside Out

Best Original Screenplay: Spotlight

Best Adapted Screenplay: The Big Short

Best Comedy: The Big Short

Best Actor In A Comedy: Christian Bale (The Big Short)

Best Actress In A Comedy: Amy Schumer (Trainwreck)

Best Action Movie: Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Actor In An Action Movie: Tom Hardy (Mad Max: Fury Road)

Best Actress In An Action Movie: Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road)

Best Sci-Fi/Horror Movie: Ex Machina

Best Documentary Feature: Amy

Best Foreign Language Film: Son Of Saul

Best Score: The Hateful Eight

Best Song: 'See You Again' (Furious 7)

Best Production Design: Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Editing: Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Costume Design: Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Hair & Makeup: Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Visual Effects: Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Cinematography: The Revenant

Best Young Actor/Actress: Jacob Tremblay (Room)


With nine wins, Mad Max: Fury Road was the biggest winner of the night (which will cheer Watcher Rhys up no end), including Best Director. No surprises seeing DiCaprio and Larson take the lead acting honours. Spotlight taking Best Picture is also interesting, as a lot of early prognostication pointed to a sweep for The Revenant

After a very busy week last week (and thanks for your patience if you're not a fan of the awards season stuff), things get a bit quiet now - the next awards season post will be after the Producers' Guild Awards on January 23rd, with the SAG Awards a week later on January 30th.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

David Bowie (1947-2016)


News of the death of David Bowie, who passed away earlier this week just two days after his 68th birthday, came as a huge shock - not least because, just last week, he released his twenty-fifth studio album Darkstar.

From the glorious glam rock genderbending of Ziggy Stardust, through the Berlin trilogy with Brian Eno, to his collaborations with Placebo, Queen and the Pet Shop Boys, Bowie continually reinvented himself and his musical style. Iconic songs such as 'Heroes', 'Changes', 'Starman', 'Space Oddity', 'Life On Mars' and 'Let's Dance' shifted the cultural landscape of the UK and his music has been used in such diverse projects as Moulin Rouge!, Sixteen Candles, Se7en, The Wedding Singer, Dogville, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou and The Kids Are All Right

Although Bowie had an illustrious music career, he also had an interesting and diverse film career. As this is a film blog, the focus of this tribute will primarily be his film work.


Bowie made his film debut as the eponymous character in Nicolas Roeg's The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976). As the humanoid alien Thomas Jerome Newton, who comes to Earth looking for water as his home planet is undergoing a severe drought, Bowie is an arresting presence as he negotiates the venality and greed of the world (despite later admitting that he was heavily abusing cocaine throughout the filming). On its initial release, the film met mixed reviews- with Roger Ebert calling it 'preposterous and posturing'-  but has since gone on to be considered a cult classic. Bowie won the Saturn Award for Best Actor for his performance.

In a re-released version of perennial Christmas favourite The Snowman, Bowie appears as the adult James who narrates his adventure with the snowman. He then went on to appear opposite Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon in Tony Scott's vampire fantasy romance The Hunger as the lover of Catherine Deneuve's character. He also gives an acclaimed performance as Major Jack Celliers in the World War II prisoner-of-war movie Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence.

He was offered, but declined, the role of Max Zorin in A View To A Kill (which instead went to Christopher Walken). He was considered for the role of Sharaz Jek in the Doctor Who story The Caves Of Androzani but the filming dates clashed with his Serious Moonlight tour. In 1986, Bowie appeared as Vendice Partners in Absolute Beginners, a musical drama about 1950s London (for which he also provided the title song, and sang 'That's Motivation' and 'Volare'). Whilst the film screened out of competition in the 1986 Cannes Film Festival, it was panned by the critics and was a box office flop (making less than a million dollars in the US and only making £1.8 million against a budget of over £8 million in the UK).


However, Bowie appeared in another film in 1986 that has gone on to be one of the most beloved movies of the 1980s: Labyrinth. His performance as Jareth the Goblin King will probably be the film role that Bowie is most remembered for (not least because of the impressive codpiece). He's a strangely sensual villain, charismatic yet sinister. He also recorded five songs for the film's soundtrack including the earwormy 'Magic Dance' and 'As The World Falls Down'. Yet, like many of the films Bowie was involved with, this too had mixed reviews on first release and lost money at the box office- thus being considered a commercial failure- but has since been re-evaluated and lauded as a cult movie. 

After Labyrinth, Bowie appeared as Pontius Pilate in Martin Scorsese's controversial The Last Temptation Of Christ and appeared in the film prequel Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me as Philip Jeffries. In 1996, he appeared as Andy Warhol in the biopic of American painter Jean-Michel Basquiat (Warhol acted as Basquiat's friend and mentor). He made a well-received cameo as himself in Zoolander and provided the voice of Maltazard the Wizard in the English-language version of Arthur And The Invisibles. He also appeared as Nikola Tesla in The Prestige.

There really is no other word to describe David Bowie than icon. A true cultural icon. The world is a darker place for his passing.

Tez
for The Watchers

Alan Rickman (1946-2016)


Like many, we at The Watchers were deeply upset to hear of the sudden and unexpected passing of the great Alan Rickman who has died at the age of 69.

Born in Acton in 1946, Rickman did not start acting until he was 28 and graduated from RADA in 1974. One of his earliest TV roles was as Tybalt in the BBC Shakespeare version of Romeo And Juliet. He was always very comfortable on the stage, playing Mark Antony opposite Helen Mirren as Cleopatra and playing the Vicomte de Valmont in Les Liaisons Dangereuses onstage to great acclaim in both London and on Broadway.

Die Hard was Rickman's first feature film role and his performance as Hans Gruber is one of the most indelible villainous roles in action cinema, even though Rickman himself never thought of Gruber as 'the villain'. He was cast by the producers on the strength of his stage performance in Les Liaisons Dengereuses. However, director John McTiernan found it necessary to cut away from Gruber whenever he fires a gun, as Rickman had an uncontrollable habit of flinching whenever he pulled the trigger. 

After playing Gruber, Rickman then went on to play a romantic lead in Anthony Minghella's tearjerking Truly Madly Deeply as a cellist who dies and returns to his grieving partner as a ghost. He is easily the best thing about Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves, bringing a broad almost campy swagger to the role of the Sheriff of Nottingham, clearly relishing some of the more pointed lines in the script (such as the oft-quoted 'I'll cut your heart out with a spoon' and 'call off Christmas'). The film comes alive whenever he's on screen. He won a BAFTA for the role.


In Sense And Sensibility, Rickman went back to the romantic lead role as Colonel Brandon, delivering a wonderfully sensitive performance. He won a Primetime Emmy, a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild award for playing Rasputin, and then appeared as Irish politician Eamon de Valera in Michael Collins


One of his best roles, as far as I'm concerned, is in Dogma, where he plays the Metatron (the voice of God). I remembered thinking at the time how, if God was real, you'd want him to have the voice of Alan Rickman. As the Metatron, he's flippant and incredibly funny, throwing out some delicious one-liners like 'do you go around drenching everybody that comes into your room with flame-retardant chemicals? No wonder you're single!' But there's also a sensitivity there, especially in the later scenes with Linda Fiorentino where he discusses talking to the young Jesus. 

However, if pushed to choose just one, I think my favourite Rickman film performance would be Galaxy Quest. He is just superb as Alexander Dane, a bumptious old luvvie sick and tired of trotting out the same old tired catchphrases as Dr Lazarus. There's something wonderful about his hauteur about falling so low- he played Richard III, there were five curtain calls- but yet he steps up and becomes the character again when needed. 

In 2003, he appeared in the British comedy-drama Love Actually. I've got a few issues with the film (it could do with a damn good edit for a start) but the strand involving Rickman and Emma Thompson as a couple whose relationship is tested when he is tempted to stray is one of the most compelling and well-acted parts of the film. It feels authentic against some of the broader stuff. 

He's the perfect fit for the voice of Marvin the Paranoid Android in the 2005 version of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy and puts in a menacing turn as Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street. He's also great as the voice of Absalom the Caterpillar in Alice In Wonderful (and had already recorded his lines to reprise the role for Alice Through The Looking Glass). 


Other great Rickman performances are in the video for 'In Demand' by Texas (dancing with Sharleen Spiteri in a petrol station), as a disembodied head in the TV adaptation of Samuel Beckett's Play and reuniting with Emma Thompson as a pair of old flames who meet for dinner in The Song Of Lunch. He was also a director, directing Emma Thompson and Phyllida Law in the 1997 film The Winter Guest and the 2014 film A Little Chaos, starring Kate Winslet and Matthias Schoenaerts and in which he also played King Louis XIV.


But for many people, it will be his role as Professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter franchise for which Rickman will be most remembered. He was J.K. Rowling's first choice- indeed, she wrote the character with Rickman in mind- but he was only given the role after Tim Roth (who was the studio's preferred choice) backed out. Rowling even told him more about Snape's character than had been revealed in the books at that point to better inform his performance. In a franchise that's stuffed to the ginnels with the cream of British acting talent and so many wonderful performance, it takes something to stand out - and he does. Sneering, sarcastic and dry, like all the best characters, he has another side to him and throughout the course of the eight films, Snape moves from out-and-out antagonist to something more like a hero, albeit with some shades of grey. 

As an actor, Alan Rickman was often typecast as a villain (thanks to his superb roles in Die Hard and Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves) but was equally adept as a romantic lead, in comedic roles, in period pieces and contemporary ones. Many will feel the fact he was never nominated for an Oscar as an egregious oversight.

He is survived by his wife, Rima Horton, who he was with for over fifty years and who he married in 2012. Our thoughts and with her, his family and friends at this time.

Tez
for The Watchers

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Awards Season 2016: Academy Award Nominations


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

BEST PICTURE
The Big Short
Bridge Of Spies
Brooklyn
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Room
Spotlight

BEST DIRECTOR
Lenny Abrahamson (Room)
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (The Revenant)
Tom McCarthy (Spotlight)
Adam McKay (The Big Short)
George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)

BEST ACTOR
Bryan Cranston (Trumbo)
Matt Damon (The Martian)
Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)
Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs)
Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)

BEST ACTRESS
Cate Blanchett (Carol)
Brie Larson (Room)
Jennifer Lawrence (Joy)
Charlotte Rampling (45 Years)
Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Christian Bale (The Big Short)
Tom Hardy (The Revenant)
Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight)
Mark Rylance (Bridge Of Spies)
Sylvester Stallone (Creed)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight)
Rooney Mara (Carol)
Rachel McAdams (Spotlight)
Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)
Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)

A full list of nominees can be found here.

I work that out as 28 out of 33 (for 85%) which is higher than last year. Really pleased with that.

The Revenant has 12 nominations, with Mad Max: Fury Road on 10. It's a bit of a surprise not to see Carol named in the Best Picture category, but it's been fairly represented elsewhere (in the acting and screenplay categories). Shaun The Sheep Movie and When Marnie Was There from Studio Ghibli are in contention for the Best Animated Feature, but are up against Inside Out (which also got a screenplay nomination). Star Wars: The Force Awakens gets four nominations, all in the technical departments, whilst SPECTRE gets a nod for Best Original Song for 'Writing's On The Wall'. I was overjoyed to see Amy named in the Best Documentary Feature category. 

The 88th Academy Awards will be handed out on Sunday 28th February, in a ceremony hosted by Chris Rock

Massive congratulations to all nominees!

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Awards Season 2015: Tez's Official Academy Award Nomination Predictions


Tomorrow, the nominations for the 88th Academy Awards will be announced and, like last year, the nominees for all 24 categories will be announced in the telecast. At 5:30am PST, directors Guillermo del Toro (Crimson Peak, Pan's Labyrinth) and Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain, Life Of Pi) will announce the nominees for some of the technical categories (including cinematography, make-up and hairstyling, sound editing) as well as Best Original Song and Best Documentary Feature. 

Then at 5:38am PST, Cheryl Boone Isaacs (President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) and actor John Krasinski (The Office) will announce the rest of the nominees, including the acting categories, Best Director and Best Picture.

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
The Big Short
Bridge Of Spies
Brooklyn
Carol
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Room
Spotlight
Straight Outta Compton

BEST DIRECTOR
Todd Haynes (Carol)
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (The Revenant)
Tom McCarthy (Spotlight)
George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Ridley Scott (The Martian)

BEST ACTOR
Bryan Cranston (Trumbo)
Matt Damon (The Martian)
Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)
Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs)
Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)

BEST ACTRESS
Cate Blanchett (Carol)
Brie Larson (Room)
Jennifer Lawrence (Joy)
Charlotte Rampling (45 Years)
Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Christian Bale (The Big Short)
Idris Elba (Beasts Of No Nation)
Mark Rylance (Bridge Of Spies)
Michael Shannon (99 Homes)
Sylvester Stallone (Creed)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight)
Rooney Mara (Carol)
Helen Mirren (Trumbo)
Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)
Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)

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, I got 27 out of 33. I'm not that confident this year, and I'll tell you for why: there's a big question mark hanging over the lead Actress and Supporting Actress categories as there's a very real possibility that Rooney Mara and/or Alicia Vikander may be nominated as Best Actress for Carol and The Danish Girl, rather than in Supporting Actress. Different bodies have put them in different categories (although Mara has been more frequently placed in Supporting Actress, whilst Vikander has been equally in both). If one or both are bumped up to lead Actress then there are a couple of possibilities of what could happen; it's likely that Rachel McAdams will get a nod for her role in Spotlight or that Vikander herself will get a Supporting Actress nomination for Ex Machina. 

As for Supporting Actor, there's a lot of strong roles that have had previous nominations throughout awards season so it's the most fluid of categories in a way - you could easily see Paul Dano (Love & Mercy) or Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight) included in there, maybe even a nod for nine year old Jacob Tremblay for Room

In Lead Actor, I've gone for Matt Damon but wouldn't be too surprised to see Johnny Depp in his place for Black Mass (Depp got the SAG nomination ahead of Damon).

There are always sone surprises - last year, nothing for Laura Dern or Bennett Miller in the run-up and then Oscar nominations for Wild and Foxcatcher.

I'll post the nominees on Thursday afternoon so everyone can point and laugh and see how wrong I got it. Possibly.

Tez

Awards Season 2016: Razzies Nominations


And so we come to the awards which provide a nice counterpoint to the pompous, self-indulgent frippery of awards season. Dishonouring the very worst of cinema in the last 12 months, here, for your entertainment and education, are the full list of nominees for the 36th Annual Golden Raspberry Awards:

WORST PICTURE
Fantastic Four
Fifty Shades Of Grey
Jupiter Ascending
Paul Blart Mall Cop 2
Pixels

WORST ACTOR
Johnny Depp (Mortdecai)
Jamie Dornan (Fifty Shades Of Grey)
Kevin James (Paul Blart Mall Cop 2)
Adam Sandler (The Cobbler/Pixels)
Channing Tatum (Jupiter Ascending)

WORST ACTRESS
Katherine Heigl (Home Sweet Hell)
Dakota Johnson (Fifty Shades Of Grey)
Mila Kunis (Jupiter Ascending)
Jennifer Lopez (The Boy Next Door)
Gwyneth Paltrow (Mortdecai)

WORST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Chevy Chase (Hot Tub Time Machine 2/Vacation)
Josh Gad (Pixels/The Wedding Ringer)
Kevin James (Pixels)
Jason Lee (Alvin & The Chipmunks: Road Chip)
Eddie Redmayne (Jupiter Ascending)

WORST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting (Alvin & The Chipmunks: Road Chip/The Wedding Ringer)
Rooney Mara (Pan)
Michelle Monaghan (Pixels)
Julianne Moore (Seventh Son)
Amanda Seyfried (Love The Coopers/Pan)

WORST REMAKE/RIP-OFF/SEQUEL
Alvin & The Chipmunks: Road Chip
Fantastic Four
Hot Tub Time Machine 2
Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence)
Paul Blart Mall Cop 2

WORST SCREEN COMBO
All Four Fantastics (Fantastic Four)
Johnny Depp & His Glued-On Moustache (Mortdecai)
Jamie Dornan & Dakota Johnson (Fifty Shades Of Grey)
Kevin James & EITHER His Segue OR His Glued-On Moustache (Paul Blart Mall Cop 2)
Adam Sandler & Any Pair Of Shoes (The Cobbler)

WORST DIRECTOR
Andy Fickman (Hot Tub Time Machine 2)
Tom Six (Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence))
Sam Taylor-Johnson (Fifty Shades Of Grey)
Josh Trank (Fantastic Four)
The Wachowskis (Jupiter Ascending)

WORST SCREENPLAY
Fantastic Four
Fifty Shades Of Grey
Jupiter Ascending
Paul Blart Mall Cop 2
Pixels

Fifty Shades Of Grey, Jupiter Ascending and Pixels all have six nominations whilst Fantastic Four and Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 have five. I didn't even realise they were making a sequel to Paul Blart Mall Cop but the fact that it appears here doesn't exactly strike me as a surprise.

The Razzies really wouldn't be the Razzies without the usual ridiculing of Adam Sandler, so it's no surprise to see his name mentioned here several times. Mind you, Pixels was an irredeemable mess (apart from QBert; QBert was cool). Kevin James is in danger of becoming the next Adam Sandler with three 'nominations'. 

Considering the bad press and critical drubbing it got, Terminator Genisys should consider itself lucky to have dodged the Razzie bullet. Similarly, the cast of Fantastic Four are nomination-free (which is a miracle) as is Peter Dinklage, the only main cast member of Pixels to escap scorn (and he should also consider himself lucky). 

This year's Razzie Redeemer nominations- for former Razzie winners or nominees who have redeemed themselves cinematically in the last 12 months- are Elizabeth Banks, M. Night Shyamalan, Will Smith and Sylvester Stallone. You can vote for the winner of this award here.

As usual, the Razzies will be handed out the day before the Oscars, so you get to find out who wins on Saturday 27th February.

That only leaves the big one tomorrow: the Oscar nominations. I will post my nomination predictions shortly.

Tez

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Awards Season 2016: Directors' Guild Awards Nominees


Quick one today, as the Directors' Guild Awards announced its shortlist for their Feature Film category (to be handed out on February 6th)


The nominees are:

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (The Revenant)
Tom McCarthy (Spotlight)
Adam McKay (The Big Short)
George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Ridley Scott (The Martian)

Last year, the DGA nominees named four of the five eventual Oscar Best Director nominees (with Bennett Miller as the curveball). Inarritu, McCarthy, Miller and Scott have been the names most mentioned this year, but interestingly it's Todd Haynes who usually makes up the quintet for Carol

Tomorrow, there's going to be a bit of fun when the Razzie Award nominations are out. What's the bets that Pixels and Fantastic Four will be all over it?

Monday, 11 January 2016

Awards Season 2016: Golden Globes 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 that obnoxious gobshite Ricky Gervais for the fourth time.

Here is the full list of film winners.

Best Motion Picture (Drama): The Revenant

Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy): The Martian

Best Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (The Revenant)

Best Actor (Drama): Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)

Best Actor (Comedy or Musical): Matt Damon (The Martian)

Best Actress (Drama): Brie Larson (Room)

Best Actress (Comedy or Musical): Jennifer Lawrence (Joy)

Best Supporting Actor: Sylvester Stallone (Creed)

Best Supporting Actress: Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)

Best Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin (Steve Jobs)

Best Original Score: Ennio Morricone (The Hateful Eight)

Best Original Song: 'Writing's On The Wall' (SPECTRE)

Best Foreign Language Film: Son Of Saul

Best Animated Feature Film: Inside Out

Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award: Denzel Washington

This is the first of the major awards to be handed out, so predictably a lot of people are foaming at the mouth that DiCaprio's finally gonna win his Oscar. Still a lot to come, so don't be too premature, There is a lot of love for The Revenant and bizarrely The Martian (although you'll never be able to convince me that it deserved to go into that category). Stallone's reaction to winning is particularly special; he genuinely looked surprised. Happy to see Kate Winslet and Inside Out winning; I have to say I'm a little surprised that 'Writing's On The Wall' won Best Song as it's quite an insipidly bland one but there's no accounting for taste.

Right, tomorrow sees the Directors' Guild Award nominations (which will give me the final piece of the puzzle needed to complete my Oscar nomination predictions- these will go up on Wednesday, after the Razzie nominations).