Archive for February, 2016

Oscar Predictions

The big night is nearly upon us, here are my predictions.  All predictions are who I think will win, not who I would like or think deserve to win.  I have seen most of the nominated films including all the best picture nominations. 

Best Motion Picture of the Year: The Revenantthe revenant

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: Leonardo DiCaprio: The RevenantThe Revenant

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role: Brie Larson: Room'Room' is a journey out of darkness, director says

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role: Sylvester Stallone: CreedSylvester Stallone Creed

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Alicia Vikander: The Danish GirlAlicia Vikander The Danish Girl

Best Achievement in Directing: Alejandro González Iñárritu: The RevenantAlejandro G Iñárritu

Best Writing, Original Screenplay: Spotlight: Josh Singer, Tom McCarthyJosh Singer Tom McCarthy

Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay: The Big Short: Charles Randolph, Adam McKay

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Buchan/REX/Shutterstock (5586613u) Charles Randolph and Adam McKay 68th Annual Writers Guild Awards, West Coast Ceremony, Los Angeles, America - 13 Feb 2016

Best Achievement in Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki: The Revenantemmanuel lubezki birdman

Best Achievement in Costume Design: Mad Max: Fury Road: Jenny Beavanmad max fury road wives

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing: Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens: Andy Nelson, Christopher Scarabosio, Stuart Wilsonstar-wars-force-awakens-official-poster

Best Achievement in Film Editing: Mad Max: Fury Road: Margaret SixelMad Max Fury Road

Best Achievement in Sound Editing: Mad Max: Fury Road: Mark A. Mangini, David WhiteMad Max Fury Road

Best Achievement in Visual Effects: Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens: Roger Guyett, Pat Tubach, Neal Scanlan, Chris Corbouldstar wars the force awakens

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score: The Hateful Eight: Ennio MorriconeEnnio Morricone

Best Documentary, Feature: Cartel Land: Matthew Heineman, Tom YellinCartel Land

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year: Son of SaulSon of Saul

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year: Inside Out: Pete Docter, Jonas Rivera

Disney•Pixar's "Inside Out" takes us to the most extraordinary location yet - inside the mind of Riley. Like all of us, Riley is guided by her emotions - Anger (voiced by Lewis Black), Disgust (voiced by Mindy Kaling), Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler), Fear (voiced by Bill Hader) and Sadness (voiced by Phyllis Smith). The emotions live in Headquarters, the control center inside Riley's mind, where they help advise her through everyday life. Directed by Pete Docter and produced by Jonas Rivera, "Inside Out" is in theaters June 19, 2015.

Best Achievement in Production Design: Mad Max: Fury Road: Colin Gibson (production design), Lisa Thompson (set decoration)Mad Max Fury Road



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Last week saw John Boyega receive the BAFTA Rising Star Award.  His future looks pretty bright thanks to a little sci-fi franchise that he has a part in.  The other nominees Taron Egerton, Dakota Johnson, Brie Larson (BAFTA winner and Oscar favourite) and Bel Powley all appear to have busy diaries for the next few years too.  But what happened to the previous rising stars?  Are the now shining stars or did they fade into obscurity? I think you will agree most of them are doing okay:John Boyega

2006: James McAvoy: Jovial star of the hugely successful X-Men franchise.  Nominated for two further  BAFTA’s: Best Supporting Actor for  The Last King of Scotland and  Best Actor Atonement. (other 2006 nominees: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Gael García Bernal, Rachel McAdams, Michelle Williams)James McAvoy

2007: Eva Green: She doesn’t appear in many films, her choices are always interesting and she is usually brilliant in them if not as high profile as her earlier films The Dreamers and Casino Royale.  Last year she appeared in The Salvation that made my top ten of the year.  Her best recent work has come on TV in Penny Dreadful. (other 2007 nominees: Emily Blunt, Naomie Harris, Cillian Murphy, Ben Whishaw)Eva Green

2008: Shia LaBeouf: Went from a promising actor to a bit of a joke.  He is beginning to show more promise in with strong performances in: Fury, Nymphomaniac and The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman.  He is yet to revive any other significant nominations. (other 2008 nominees: Sienna Miller, Ellen Page, Sam Riley, Tang Wei)Shia LaBeouf

2009: Noel Clarke: While he hasn’t had the hits some of the other actors have had, he has tuned into a one man British film industry working as an Actor, Producer, Writer and Director.  No other significant nominations to date, but he is currently working on Brotherhood, the final instalment in the “hood” trilogy. (other 2009 nominations: Michael Cera, Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Hall, Toby Kebbell)Noel Clarke

2010: Kristen Stewart: A hugely underrated actress who is struggling to shed the baggage of Twiglight with some audiences.  She was excellent in Still Alice.  She is yet to receive any other significant nominations and can consider herself extremely unlucky not to be nominated for supporting actress for Clouds of Sils Maria. (other nominees from 2010: Jesse Eisenberg, Nicholas Hoult, Carey Mulligan, Tahar Rahim)Kristen Stewart

2011: Tom Hardy: Versatile and likeable actor.  Star of my favourite movie of last yearMad Max: Fury Road.  Oscar Nominated for Best Supporting Actor for The Revenant this year. (other 2011 nominees: Gemma Arterton, Andrew Garfield, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Emma Stone)Tom Hardy

2012: Adam Deacon: Surprise winner, his most significant role since wining was in the TV series Babylon.  No other significant nominations. (other 2012 nominations: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Chris O’Dowd, Eddie Redmayne)Adam Deacon

2013: Juno Temple: First came to attention in Atonement six years before the rising star award.  She has continued to dazzle in supporting roles in big films and larger roles in smaller films.  I have heard good reports but am yet to see her in the TV show Vinyl.  Yet to revive any other significant nominations. (other 2013 nominations: Elizabeth Olsen, Andrea Riseborough, Suraj Sharma, Alicia Vikander)Juno Temple

2014: Will Poulter: Like Juno Temple it took a long time for this nomination after his memorable debute in Son of Rambow seven years before.  Since then he has impressed in Wild Bill and particularly this years The Revenant.  The Maze Runner wasn’t great but he was the best thing in it.  Yet to revive any other significant nominations. (other 2014 nominations: Dane DeHaan, George MacKay, Lupita Nyong’o, Léa Seydoux)

2015: Jack O’Connell: After five films being released in the year leading up to his rising star award we haven’t seen much of him since.  He has three films in the can including Money Monster directed by Jodie Foster.  He is also set to appear in Terry Gilliam’s long awaited second attempt to film The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. Yet to revive any other significant nominations. (other 2015 nominations: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Margot Robbie, Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley)Jack O'Connell


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I Forgive You for Titanic

Film critic Mark Kermode once finished an interview with Leonardo DiCaprio with the line “I forgive you for Titanic”.  Having just won the BAFTA and favourite for the Oscar what better time to look at the choices Leo has made.  Ryan from The Matinee has an interesting theory that makes a lot of sense. To paraphrase, Leonardo DiCaprio has been making impeccable choices as he is chasing an Oscar; as such, had he won when first nominated for What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993) he may not have turned into such an accomplished actor and made so many great films.  So let’s forget his initial misstep, The Man in the Iron Mask (1998) and look at the directors DiCaprio has worked with since James Cameron:

Woody Allen (1998)Celebrity

Danny Boyle (2000)The Beach

Martin Scorsese (2002)Gangs_of_New_York

Steven Spielberg (2002)catch me if you can

Martin Scorsese (2004) – Second Oscar nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role lost to Jamie Fox for Ray The aviator

Martin Scorsese (2006)the departed

Edward Zwick (2006) – Third Oscar nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role lost to Forest Whitaker for The Last King of Scotland. blood diamond

Ridley Scott (2008)body of lies

Sam Mendes (2008)revolutionary road

Martin Scorsese (2010)

Shutter Island movie poster

Christopher Nolan (2010)


Clint Eastwood (2011)


Quentin Tarantino (2012)Django Unchained

Baz Luhrmann (2013)TheGreatGatsby

Martin Scorsese (2013) – Fourth Oscar nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role lost to Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club. (also nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Shared with:Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Joey McFarland, Martin Scorsese. lost to 12 Years a Slave; Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen, Anthony Katagas)

the wolf of wall street

Alejandro González Iñárritu (2015) – Fifth Oscar nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, favourite to win.  Other nominees: Bryan Cranston (Trumbo),Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs), Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl), Matt Damon (The Martian).  Find out on 28th February.  the revenant

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Point (less) Break

I am not totally against the idea of remakes, but there has to be a reason for them, and there really is no point to the Point Break remake.

In 1988 Die Hard changed the direction of action movies.  If taking a B-movie script, based on a pulp novel that had been kicking around for years, wasn’t enough, casting the star of a romantic comedy drama TV show was.  We now know Bruce Willis as an action star, that is why it is so easy to forget that the secret of his success was that he was an everyman.   Three years later  Kathryn Bigelow completed the transformation with Point Break.  Slacker comedy star Keanu Reeves  became the next generation of action star.  But there is far more to it than that.  It took the best of what became known as Cinéma du look and gave it heart and soul.  It wasn’t unusual for films of the genre in the 70’s and 80’s to be sexist or even misogynist.  It has been suggested that Point Break dispensed with this because it was directed by a woman, I would rather thing it is because it was directed by an intelligent filmmaker.Point-Break Utah and Bodhi

Patrick Swayze’s Bodhi is the movies villain, but in Bigelow’s hands he is so much more.  We know from the moment we meet him that he is guilty, but we still like him.  He is a more sympathetic character than the FBI outside Utah and Pappas.  This works so well as they wait so long before ultimately crosses the line, and it is only Utah who can tell him that he has crossed the line.  The casting of Swayze was a stroke of brilliance, bringing the baggage of his early low budget action roles, his TV work and his romantic leads.  As a viewer you feel the contradiction of not wanting him to be the villain, and wanting him to be a totally badass villain.   Lori Petty Tyler was also a revelation.  Her character his was far more edgy and her look more androgynous than the norm of the time and the genre.Point break utah and tyler

Movies about surfing often talk about losing and finding oneself in the experience and the moment, a spiritual experience.  An often repeated idea that I probably spouted as a fan of the movie, but one I didn’t understand until I started surfing. That’s right I took up surfing, largely because of Point Break.  And that is largely the problem with the new Point Break, it just doesn’t get it.  In 2001, Point Break was remade, you may have seen it, it was called The Fast and the Furious (2001).  Incidentally Ericson Core the director of Point Break was DOP on The Fast and the Furious.  Whist flawed at least The Fast and the Furious understood what Point Break was all about.  It was also well cast and the franchise that it spawned cannot be overlooked.  Sadly the remake misses all of this, acting more like a sequel than a remake.  It concentrates on scale and spectacle and forgets story and emotion.the fast and the furious

The one thing the new version of Point Break has going for it is the action scenes, but even they have their limits.  There was talk of a scene in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015) where Tom Cruise flew with a Wingsuit.  The idea was dropped as the helmet would hide Cruises identity and create a barrier from the audience.  That is the main problem with Point Break.  The action is good but no better than a Red Bull advert or youtube clip.  Ultimately none of the action compares the foot chase of the original movie.  Bigger isn’t better, especially if it lacks emotional connection.  Keanu Reeves’ FBI Agent Johnny Utah is like the audience, he is one of us.  Like so many people his life didn’t turn out like he expected.  Looking for a new direction he thinks he has found it with the FBI.  He is reluctant to take up surfing as he goes undercover, he asks Pappas (Gary Busey) why he can’t just walk around with a board under his arm looking stoned.  This is why it’s works so well when he finds himself.  Luke Bracey’s interpretation of the character is the opposite, a readymade extreme sports star who is equally adept as his quarry.  He is too good, too perfect for the mission, this is addressed in the movies one well conceived moment, but it is too little too late.point break wingsuit

But the problem doesn’t end there.  Departing from the idea of the ex presidents from original film who rob banks to fund their “endless summer”  the new incarnation of the characters are trying to complete a series of extreme sport challenges.  One of the challenges is to surf a giant wave, and true to the plot they find their wave.  However is it really that big?  It is bigger than anything I am ever likely to surf, but it isn’t that big in terms of giant waves.  My mind wandered to tow-in surfing pioneer Laird Hamilton and his fantastic documentary Riding Giants.  As I was thinking I have seen Hamilton surf bigger waves than that, who turned up for a cameo? None other than Laird John Hamilton.point break remake

I started by saying that I not against the idea of a remake if there was a reason for it.  It would be hard to find reason to remake Point Break.  The original film came from a very different time, a time when the world was coming to realise the problems of the excess of the past decade.  But also a more innocent and hopeful time.   So all in all, the odds were stacked against the film even before it was burdened with a week script and poor cast.  It therefore came as no great surprise that it ended its first week on general release at number nine in the UK box-office.   John Wick

In conclusion if you are thinking of watching Point Break at the cinema, you will need to act fast as is unlikely to be around for long.  There are better ways of spending two hours, I would start with Kathryn Bigelow’s 1991 masterpiece or alternatively Keanu Reeves’ latest action movie John Wick.  Either option will be more rewarding.

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Dom 5

We have had The Globes and the awards for every guild you have heard of (and a few you haven’t), The BAFTA’s will be given out later today with the Oscars to follow soon.  Before the lavish ceremonies take over I give you The Fifth Annual Groovers Awards.  All awards are chosen by me and the criteria for eligibility is decided by me.  The catagies for the awards given aren’t always the same year on year.  The award, is called the “Dom”, if you understand the relevance you need to watch Fandango.

Best Movie: Sicario – My favourite two films of the year are interchangeable.  Sicario edges it as the best film of the year.Sicario

Best Director: George Miller – Just missing out on Best movie, but just edging Denis Villeneuve for best director.  Mad Max: Fury Road has been a labour of love for George Miller, given all that happened in the production it is a miracle that he delivered a film let alone one that is so good.george miller mad max fury road

Best Actor: Oscar Isaac – There hasn’t been one truly outstanding performance head and shoulders above all others from an actor in 2015, not even Leonardo DiCaprio who is likely to win for The Revenant (a 2016 film in the UK).  That is why I am going for Oscar Isaac, an actor who gave three fantastic performances in three very different films: Poe Dameron in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Nathan in Ex Machina, Abel Morales in A Most Violent Year.oscar isaac

Best Actress: Charlize Theron & Cate Blanchett – For the first time I have shared an acting award.  How can you compare Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa from Mad Max: Fury Road and Cate Blanchett’s Carol Aird from Carol. Very different performances in totally different films, both mesmerising. Charlize Theron & Cate Blanchett

Best Screenplay: Star Wars: The Force Awakens; Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams, Michael Arndt – It would have been so easy to give this award to Bridge of Spies or Ex Machina, both of which were brilliantly written, but Star Wars: The Force Awakens stands out as having a perfectly constructed adventure story that not only has dialogue of a standard we aren’t used to in a Star Wars movie, but a level of comedy that we could never have expected.star wars the force awakens

Best Looking Movie: Mad Max: Fury Road – A combination of photography, production design and all the other things that go into putting the directors vision on screen.  Making the most of the barren landscapes of  Namibia’s Namib Desert is only the start of things.  The special effects are practical and in camera giving and weighty look to the movie, but just about every scene is enhanced with CGI.  The beauty of the CGI is that you don’t see it.  Then we get onto the editing.  With a cut every 2.6 seconds on average, it never looks frantic or hard to follow, this is helped by a combination perfect timing and sublime framing.  Fury Road is an exercise in how to make a movie!Mad Max Fury Road

Breakout star of the year: Alicia Vikander – Best known for A Royal Affair (2012) until 2015 where she had seven films: Testament of Youth, Son of a Gun, Seventh Son, Ex Machina, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Danish Girl, Burnt (not all released in the one year in all territories).  She was the best thing in most of the films she features and truly stood out in Ex Machina and The Danish Girl.Alicia Vikander

Fandango Award: Alex Garland – Fandango was writer/director Kevin Reynolds debut (and best) feature, and the first notable movie for star Kevin Costner. It gives its name to this award for the best breakout film-makers of the year:  First author, then screenwriter, now director; Alex Garland has emerged as both writer and director of one of my favourite films of the year, Ex Machina.Alex-Garland-Ex-Machina

Dom 5

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I have now seen all the Best picture nominations, probably more than most of the voting academy members can truthfully say! Being a part time amateur film blogger doesn’t earn academy membership so rather than voting I get to sit on the outside looking in and bitching about poor choices.  If I did have a vote for the Best Picture Oscar I would struggle to chose between five films, my favourite five films eligible for this years Oscars.  Unfortunately three of my choices haven’t been nominated, making it a straight choice between two films.  Interestingly my two favourite nominated films are polar opposites; one is the most low key and down to earth, the other is the boldest, brightest, brashest and most outlandish.  In a few words, here are my thoughts on the nominated movies and their chances of picking up a little gold man on February 28th.

Spotlight: The comparisons with All the President’s Men (1976) are obvious, however where the Watergate movie was edgy and cinematic, this is a more staid and old fashioned film.  That said it is fantastic, if the was an Oscar for best ensemble cast it would be a shoe in! It would be a worthy winner and had a lot of positive buzz a few weeks ago but that seems to have passed. Like  All the President’s Men, I think it will have to settle for a nomination.Spotlight

The Revenant: Where Spotlight is very introspective and contained, The Revenant is all about the wide open spaces.  When I first saw it I thought it would win but no one seems to agree with me.  This makes me think it won’t win, it should however get cinematographer and best actor.The Revenant

Room: Not a bad film but beyond a fantastic lead performance I am not sure why it is getting so much love.  I think it is making up the numbers.'Room' is a journey out of darkness, director says

Brooklyn: The period setting makes it a very Oscar friendly film.  However I don’t hear it being mentioned in Oscar conversations, like Room I think it is making up the numbers.Brooklyn

Bridge of Spies: I am really glad to see this get a nomination as it is so much better than many people are giving it credit for.  Unfortunately it isn’t being talked out about so its probably another one making up the numbers.Bridge Of Spies

The Martian: A sci-fi film with a lot of comedy in it, how did the academy let this upstart slip in?  The simple reason, it is fun and hugely entertaining, it may not be the best motion picture of the year but it is probably the most fun.  I don’t think it will win, but if it does, it will probably be because it is lots of people second or third choice on the ballet. the martian

Mad Max: Simply my favourite film on the list but it is so un-Oscar I don’t see it having a chance, but it would be so great if it did.mad max tom hardy

The Big Short: The film seems to have divided opinion, a comedy about people who profited from the housing market crash.  The word we hear a lot of at this time of year is momentum, and this film has lots of momentum.  I really liked the film but don’t think it is the best film on the list, but I think it is favourite to win.The Big Short

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I have been a little busy with work and watching movies so haven’t been posting much in the last few weeks, but I never miss movie of the month.  Here goes: January is a great month for movies in the UK filled with Oscar contenders.  Three of my top ten movies last year came out in January, how many of this January’s eleven will make my 2016 list?  More immediate than that which is my movie of the month?

Joy: Another David O. Russell / Jennifer Lawrence collaboration.  Lawrence is brilliant as you would expect.  The film is enjoyable but a little thin.  The story never seems to set out of second gear.JOY

The Danish Girl: Like Joy, The Danish Girl is an okay film with great performances.  Last years best actor Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne got all the initial plaudits, Alicia Vikander provides the films best performance.  Clearly the leading role, I an not sure why she is nominated in the supporting category.The Danish Girl

The Hateful Eight: Quentin Tarantino’s second western.  Sumptuous visuals are coupled with Tarantino’s fantastic dialogue.  The film is too long and self indulgent, but this is easily forgiven.  Great to see Walton Goggins getting a decent part.The Hateful Eight

The Revenant: Alejandro González Iñárritu’s visceral story of survival and revenge.  Stunning photography from Emmanuel Lubezki (third Oscar in a row?) and a brilliant performance from Leonardo DiCaprio.The Revenant

Creed: Revival of the Rocky franchise that at times feels more like a reboot of the original film.  Predictable but hugely enjoyable.  Michael B. Jordan and  Sylvester Stallone are both excellent.Creed

Room: Another film that is more notable for its acting than the film itself.  Brie Larson is sensational.  A good film but not one that lives up to the hype that surrounds it.'Room' is a journey out of darkness, director says

The 5th Wave: It was only a matter of time before Chloë Grace Moretz (now 18) made a YA adaptation.  Unfortunately it wasn’t a good choice.  An unmemorable movie that offers nothing we haven’t seen done better in other similar adaptations.  Maika Monroe (almost unrecognisable with black hair) impresses again and has fun with the films most showy part.The 5th Wave

The Big Short: Based on the true story of the people who predicted the financial crisis and profited from it.  The serious subject matter makes an intriguing story told in such a way that it is often devastatingly funny.  All the ensemble cast are brilliant particularly Steve Carell.  My one criticism, Marisa Tomei is too good to be given a one dimensional character and nothing to do with her.The Big Short

Our Brand is Crisis: Loosely based on the documentary of the same name about the 2002 Bolivian presidential election. Sandra Bullock is excellent as she usually is when give a decent role.  The political message is far more cutting than the surface comedy would lead you to expect.  Unfortunately it appears to have sunk without trace at the boxoffice.Our Brand is Crisis

Spotlight: The true story of the reporters from The Boston Globe who investigated allegations of child abuse in the catholic church in Boston.  The delicate subject matter is perfectly handled.  The film is understated and old fashioned in the best possible way.  The entire ensambe cast are brillient not just the two who received nominations.Spotlight

Youth: Paolo Sorrentino’s Felliniesque meditation on aging starring Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel as old friends on holiday in the Swiss Alps.  Caine and Keitel are great but I would have liked to have seen more of Rachel Weisz and Paul Dano.1280x720-XpB

So what is my movie of the month?  There are three real contenders: The Revenant,  The Big Short and Spotlight.  I could give it to The Revenant as the most cinematic of the trio, or The Big Short for being the most pleasantly surprising, or Spotlight for having the courage to be understated and un-showy.  It’s so close, if I were an Oscar voter I choosing my best picture, I would want to re-watch them all before deciding.  Not having the luxury of time to see them again, I am going for the one most want to see again: Spotlight.Spotlight movie poster

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