Archive for the ‘Oscars & Awards’ Category

Today is International Women’s Day at a risk of being accused of mansplaining, I thought I would take a look at the five female nominees for the best director Oscar.  With Greta Gerwig recently becoming the fifth woman to be nominated in the 90 year history of the Academy Awards it is hard to avoid.  Is the problem a lack of woman making movies or those that are not getting the recognition?  Probably a combination of both. Here are the female directors who have been nominated for a best director Oscar to date:  

1976 – Lina Wertmüller for Pasqualino Settebellezze aka Seven Beauties – Unfortunately I haven’t seen this movie and couldn’t get hold of a copy before writing.   Described as a comedy drama, the film appears to tells the story of an Italian who will do anything to survive through crime, prison, a mental institution, the army and a concentration camp.  At the time of her nomination, she was in her late forties with about a dozen credits behind her.  She was also nominated for the screenplay.  A strong year, the other nominees were Sidney Lumet (Network), Ingmar Bergman (Face to Face), Alan J. Pakula (All the President’s Men), and the winner, John G. Avildsen (Rocky).  Amazingly, Martin Scorsese wasn’t nominated for Taxi Driver.  Now 89, Wertmüller has continued to make movies, her last credit was for a documentary: Roma, Napoli, Venezia… in un crescendo rossiniano (2014).  Amongst her credits are Travolti da un insolito destino nell’azzurro mare d’agosto aka Swept Away, the film that was remade by Guy Ritchie and starring then wife Madonna. Pasqualino Settebellezze

1993 – Jane Campion for The Piano – A generation later New Zealand director Campion became the second nomine with her third movie, The Piano.  I must admit I find the movie a real slog, however it is worth watching for Michael Nyman’s amazing score.  The film won Oscars for Holly Hunter (Best Actress in a Leading Role) and Anna Paquin (Best Actress in a Supporting Role) as well as Campion for the original screenplay.  It was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Cinematography (Stuart Dryburgh) Best Costume Design (Janet Patterson) and Best Film Editing (Veronika Jenet).  The other nominees were Robert Altman (Short Cuts), Jim Sheridan (In the Name of the Father), James Ivory, who has just won his first Oscars for Best Adapted Screenplay, Call Me by Your Name, (The Remains of the Day) and the winner Steven Spielberg (Schindler’s List).  Campion continues to write, produce and direct for film and television.  For me her most interesting work includes the poorly received In the Cut (2003) and the TV show Top of the Lake (2013 and 2017). The Piano

2003 – Sofia Coppola for Lost in Translation – Coppola was best known as the daughter of Francis Ford Coppola, and for her (not great) performance in The Godfather Part III.  Then in 1999 she made a sensational directorial debut with The Virgin Suicides.   Then came Lost in Translation, the film that made a star of Scarlett Johansson and reminded us how great Bill Murray is.  The film was also nominated for Best Picture (and for my money should have won) and Coppola won her only Oscar to date for the Original Screenplay.  The other nominees: Clint Eastwood (Mystic River), Fernando Meirelles (Cidade de Deus aka City of God), Peter Weir (Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World) and the winner, Peter Jackson(The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King).  Return of the King also won best picture despite being the weakest movie nominated in the Best Picture and Best Director categories, and the weakest of the Lord of the Rings movies.  Coppola has made another four features since her nomination but none have improved on her masterpiece. Lost in Translation

2009 – Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker – Finally we have a winner.  This was the last Oscars I actually watched.  I feared it would lose out to the  giant Smurph movie.  There was no need to worry, it walked away with Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Film Editing, Making Kathryn Bigelow the only woman to have won a best director Oscar.  The film was also nominated for Best Actor (Jeremy Renner),  Best Original Score (Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders), Cinematography (Barry Ackroyd).  The other nominees for best director were: James Cameron (Avatar), Jason Reitman (Up in the Air), Lee Daniels (Precious), Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds).  In the decade since The Hurt Locker was released Bigalow has only made two further films, Zero Dark Thirty and Detroit.  While I can’t complain about the quality of his work, I would like her to be a little more prolific, after all her back catalogue includes two of my favourite movies, Point Break and Strange Days. The Hurt Locker

2017 – Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird – Gerwig co-directed the low budget Nights and Weekends.  A decade later, her solo feature début made her the fifth woman to be nominated for a best director Oscar, she was also nominated for Best Original Screenplay.  The other nominees are Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk), Jordan Peele (Get Out), Paul Thomas Anderson (Phantom Thread) and the winner Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water).  While I think the right person won this time, I am keen to see what Gerwig does next on both sides of the camera. lady bird

Who will be the next woman to win a directing Oscar?  I am keeping an eye on Ava DuVernay, Lynne Ramsay, Sally Potter, Clio Barnard, Amma Asante and Patty Jenkins. 


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Oscar 2018

I have posted more about this years Oscars than for years, and very little of it are complaints about the nominations.  For once there are no bonkers decisions to get upset or argue over, are there?  Here is a very quick roundup of the winners in a paragraph or less per category:

Best Motion Picture of the Year – The Shape of Water – I really expected Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri to win this one.  So glad The Shape of Water Won.the shape of water

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role – Gary Oldman _ Did anybody expect anything else!gary oldman

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role – Frances McDormand – Extremely strong category.  I can’t argue with Frances McDormand, she was the heart of a fantastic movie.  I would have picked Sally Hawkins, Margot Robbie and Saoirse Ronan were also outstanding.  Not sure Meryl Streep was doing in this category.Frances McDormand

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role – Sam Rockwell – Toughest category, all were good enough to win, it went to the right man though.Sam Rockwell

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role – Allison Janney – There was only ever going to be one winner here.  Lesley Manville was a very close second for me.  Disappointed that Holly Hunter didn’t get a nomination.Allison Janney

Best Achievement in Directing – Guillermo del Toro – As with best picture, well deserved, unlike best picture I did expect this one.  He really should have won over a decade ago for Pan’s Labyrinth (Sorry Martin Scorsese, you won the wrong year for the wrong film!).  Hopefully not the only nomination for the other nominees, they all made outstanding movies.Guillermo del Toro

Best Original Screenplay Get Out –  Jordan Peele – The award that should be retitled the Quentin Tarantino award for making a film that is to edgy to win the Director or Picture award.  Jordan Peele deserves this for the most surprising and original film to be nominated in many years.Jordan Peele

Best Adapted Screenplay – Call Me by Your Name – James Ivory – I haven’t seen the winning film so can’t comment other than to say it’s hard to believe at 89 years old, its James Ivory’s first Oscar.James Ivory

Best Achievement in Cinematography – Blade Runner 2049 –  Roger Deakins – At Last!!!Roger Deakins

Best Achievement in Costume Design – Phantom Thread – Mark Bridges – – The obvious choice, but probably the right one.Mark Bridges

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing – Dunkirk – Gregg Landaker, Gary Rizzo, Mark Weingarten – I don’t know enough about sound mixing to comment, but the movie did sound amazing. Gregg Landaker, Gary Rizzo, Mark Weingarten

Best Achievement in Film Editing – Dunkirk  – Lee Smith – The editing in this film was exception but was it overshadowed by the brilliant structure?  I would have gone for Baby Driver (Paul Machliss, Jonathan Amos).Lee Smith

Best Achievement in Sound Editing – Dunkirk – Richard King, Alex Gibson – I would have gone for Baby Driver (Julian Slater), the movie was all about the way it was edited, the sound being more important than on just about any other movie, and it was done so well!Richard King, Alex Gibson

Best Achievement in Visual Effects – Blade Runner 2049 – John Nelson, Gerd Nefzer, Paul Lambert, Richard R. Hoover –  The effects for all the nominated films were exceptional.John Nelson, Gerd Nefzer, Paul Lambert, Richard R. Hoover

Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling – Darkest Hour – Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, Lucy Sibbick – Perfect choice.Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, Lucy Sibbick

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song) – Coco – song “Remember Me” – Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez – I didn’t give the category much thought, I though The Greatest Showman would win, glad Coco did.Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score) – The Shape of Water – Alexandre Desplat.  I loved this score,  I think I prefer Jonny Greenwood’s for Phantom Thread.  Special mention for Dunkirk (Hans Zimmer), I’m not sure I would want to listen to it as a piece of music but it really worked in the context of the film.Alexandre Desplat

Best Achievement in Production Design – The Shape of Water – Paul D. Austerberry, Shane Vieau, Jeffrey A. Melvin – No one else had a chance.Paul D. Austerberry, Shane Vieau, Jeffrey A. Melvin

Please note I have seen all the films I have commented on except the one where I explicitly mention that I haven’t seen the winning film.  I have skipped all the categories where I haven’t seen all or most of the nominated films. 

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With all the talk of the race for the best picture, the more interesting Best Director category has been slightly overshadowed.  One thing that is certain, whoever wins it will be there first Oscar.  Three of them have previous nominations, only one, Paul Thomas Anderson for directing. 

Christopher Nolan – Dunkirk.  He is also nominated for Best Picture for Dunkirk.  His previous nominations are; Best Original Screenplay for Memento (2000) and Best Picture for Inception (2010). Christopher Nolan

Greta Gerwig – Lady Bird – Nominated for her solo directorial début, Lady Bird (she co-directed Nights and Weekends (2008) with Joe Swanberg), Gerwig is also nominated for Best Original Screenplay but not for Best Picture (Lady Bird is nominated for Best Picture but Gerwig is not one of the named producers).Greta Gerwig

Guillermo del Toro – The Shape of Water – Amazingly, del Toro has never won an Oscar! His only previous nomination was for Original Screenplay for Pan’s Labyrinth (2006).  He is also nominated for The Shape of Water in the Best Picture and Original Screenplay categories.Guillermo del Toro

Jordan Peele – Get Out – Get out is Peele’s début as director, he is nominated for Best Director, Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay.  They are his first nominations.Jordan Peele

Paul Thomas Anderson – Phantom Thread – The veteran of the group, he is nominated for Phantom Thread in the Best Picture category as well as for best director.  His previous nominations are: Best Adapted Screenplay for Inherent Vice (2014), Best Picture, Best Director and Adapted Screenplay for There Will Be Blood (2007), Best Original Screenplay for Magnolia (1999) and Boogie Nights (1997).Paul Thomas Anderson

Who will win?  My choice would be Guillermo del Toro but I would be happy to see any of them win, they deserve to for different reasons. 

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The Oscar Goes to?

Who will win the Best Picture Oscar? The smart money is still on Three Billboards, but there is always the chance of an upset.  One thing is certain, after last year’s debacle,  the presenters will go onstage with the correct envelope this year. Here is a brief roundup of the chances of each movie:

The Favourites

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – Started out as early favourite experienced a mid race backlash from some audiences but has cleaned up in other top awards and is the clear favourite again. It still has its detractors so may fall victim of the voting system by picking up fewer second or third place votes. three billboards outside ebbing missouri poster

The Shape of Water – My personal favourite, was made favourite with some bookmakers after its release but it has fallen back behind Three Billboards since the BAFTAs.  As with BAFTA, Guillermo del Toro probably stands a better chance in the Best Director category.  Its best chance is that it is less divisive than Three Billboards so should pick up more second and third place votes. The Shape of Water Poster

The Contenders

Call Me by Your Name – The only nominated film I haven’t seen yet.  Quite simply, I haven’t heard a bad word said about it from audiences or critics, that has to count for something. call me by your name

Lady Bird – As we keep being told actors are the largest voting group within the academy and they supposedly vote for their own, will this manifest itself in a best picture win or for Greta Gerwig in the director category?  In the year of #MeToo it can’t help to be directed by female director, and in what feels like a time of change, a first time director too.  And let’s not forget, it’s also a great film.lady bird

The Dark-horses

The Post – A really solid, but not an exceptional film, but it has a very prescient message.  It will get votes, I can hear cries of “they don’t make them like that anymore” from “traditional voters”.  Like Argo a few years ago, it will pick up lots of second and third places on the preferential ballot; given the people involved in making it: Hanks, Streep, Spielberg, it could also be the go-to movie for voters who didn’t bother watching some/all of the nominated films.  Finally, it is the film that will lose the least when viewed on a screener, rather than projected.   the post

Get Out – Very highly regarded in the industry, when being interviewed and asked about films they have enjoyed recently, many actors and directors have said Get Out.  On the downside comedy and horror don’t do well in this category and this is both comedy and horror!get out

Making Up The Numbers

Dunkirk – Great film, but it feels more like a great achievement in directing, a category that it is also nominated in.  I also wonder if a WWII movie without American characters will drum up much interest with the American academy? Dunkirk poster

Phantom Thread – Possibly Paul Thomas Anderson’s best film, but too understated for big awards and it has no “Oscar Buzz”.Phantom-thread-poster

Darkest Hour – As with Darkest Hour, it is a WWII movie set before America joined the war, it is also the weakest movie on the list.  It should however be a shoe-in for best actor Gary Oldman. darkest hour

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In my last article I commented, somewhat flippantly that many Oscar members vote for films they haven’t seen.  Is this true?  I suspect it is but cannot be sure.  Assuming I am correct, I wondered how people would vote for movies they hadn’t seen.  They could only choose by reputation, with this in mind I asked a few friends and colleagues.  I gave the name of a couple of nominated movies each, and asked what they know about them.    Here are a few real comments, one per movie:

I want to see that, it’s a sort of comedy horror but with black people. Get Out

Not another war movie. Dunkirk

The trailer looks a bit boring.  Is it supposed to be a horror? Phantom Thread

The one with the sweary woman and the raciest cop. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

Is that the one about the woman and a fish man? Weird!The Shape of Water

Another comedy about a girl who doesn’t like her mom… and her teacher. Lady Bird

Never heard of it, oh, Is that the Churchill movie, why don’t they just call it Churchill. Darkest Hour

Is that the gay one? Call Me by Your Name

Oh, I like Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep.  What’s it about. The Post

I think The Post will pick up the most votes from this type of voter! The voting system for the foreign language movie makes a lot more sense! 

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I have now seen Lady Bird so have included it in my ballot.  As the Oscars are happening in two days, I don’t think I will See Call Me by Your Name before the ceremony. 

* * *

The nominees for the 90th Academy Awards were announced about a month ago, voting is about to start in preparation for the ceremony on Sunday, March 4, 2018.  The nominees for best picture are:

Call Me by Your Name – Peter Spears, Luca Guadagnino, Emilie Georges, and Marco MorabitoCALL-ME-BY-YOUR-NAME

Darkest Hour – Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce, Anthony McCarten, and Douglas UrbanskiDarkest Hour

Dunkirk – Emma Thomas and Christopher NolanDunkirk

Get Out – Sean McKittrick, Jason Blum, Edward H. Hamm Jr., and Jordan PeeleGet Out

Lady Bird – Scott Rudin, Eli Bush, and Evelyn O’Neilllady bird

Phantom Thread – JoAnne Sellar, Paul Thomas Anderson, Megan Ellison and Daniel Lupiphantom_thread

The Post – Amy Pascal, Steven Spielberg, and Kristie Macosko KriegerThe Post - Copy

The Shape of Water – Guillermo del Toro and J. Miles DaleThe Shape of Water

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – Graham Broadbent, Pete Czernin, and Martin McDonaghThree Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

Since 2009, the Academy has allowed more than five films in the best picture category.  At the same time they changed the way this category is voted for.  Unlike the other categories that appear on  ballet as a simple tick box, the Best Picture category has a larger box with a space to rank films in order of preference.  The system known as instant-runoff voting, the idea being that the eventual winner is the film preferred by the widest consensus of voters.

When counted, if a film receives more than half the votes, it is declared the winner.  If there isn’t a winner, the film with the lowest number of first-choice votes is removed from the ballot.  All ballots that places this film at number one are redistributed using the second placed film on the ballot.  This process is continued until there is a clear winner.

I have not received my ballot paper, possibly something to do with not being an academy member.  Were I able to vote, this is my ranking for the best picture nominees:

  1. The Shape of Water
  2. Get Out 
  3. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  4. Dunkirk
  5. Phantom Thread
  6. Lady Bird
  7. The Post
  8. Darkest Hour

Not Ranked*

  • Call Me by Your Name

*I haven’t ranked this film as I haven’t seen it.  Will the actual voters stick to films they have actually seen, or even better, watch all the nominated films.

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“Come gather ’round people, Wherever you roam, And admit that the waters, Around you have grown, And accept it that soon, You’ll be drenched to the bone.”

Things have changed in Hollywood and the full impact of them is still to be seen, this makes the awards season interesting for the first time in years.  It isn’t just about the protests, jokes and speeches at the ceremonies, for thinks to truly change it has to be reflected, in the films made and the people awarded.   Here are a few thoughts on the nominations:

Best Motion Picture of the Year

There are no massive surprises in the best picture category, the one that is a little leftfield, is the one I am most pleased about; Get Out.  Oscar has a type; there are certain types of films that don’t do well with Oscar, top of that list is comedy and horror, this is both comedy and horror.  On top of this the themes of race are sadly relevant.   I also like the idea that Jason Blum (receiving his second nomination) could be an Oscar winner.  Darkest Hour is an OK film with an outstanding central performance.  In past years along with Dunkirk it could have been a frontrunner, as it is I feel it is making up the numbers.  I just saw Phantom Thread this week , and loved it but again don’t see it winning.  The only notable omissions for me were my favourite film of the year Blade Runner 2049 and Baby Driver.  I haven’t seen two of the nominated films: I missed Call Me by Your Name, it didn’t make it to my local multiplex. Lady Bird  Isn’t released for another two weeks.  I understand  The Shape of Water has become favourite overtaking early contender Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri .  The Shape of Water would certainly be my choice, however, I wouldn’t write-off The Post.  Given the preferential count that is employed in the best picture category, the safe choice with an established director and big name stars is in with a shout.  After all, half the voters probably only saw half the movies anyway!The Shape of Water Poster

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

It is unusual that Daniel Day-Lewis is nominated for best actor but isn’t favourite.  This is something of a shame as his performance in Phantom Thread is one of his best, far more understated than many of his other nominations.  Daniel Kaluuya for Get Out is the surprise inclusion for the same reasons mentioned in the above category.   He is fantastic in an excellent movie and truly deserves his nomination.  Denzel Washington is always great, I haven’t seen Roman J. Israel, Esq. yet, I hope to see it later today.  Gary Oldman is the clear favourite, and quite rightly, he is outstanding as Churchill in Darkest Hour.  As mentioned, I haven’t seen Call Me by Your Name yet so cannot comment on Timothée Chalamet. Darkest Hour

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Frances McDormand is the favourite for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.  I would be very surprised if she doesn’t win her second Oscar.  She is excellent in would be a worthy recipient, however she would not be my choice.  With a more subtle, and almost wordless  performance, Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water is sensational.  Meryl Streep is excellent in The Post, I however would not have chosen her as a nominee.  I would have gone for Vicky Krieps for Phantom Thread.  I haven’t seen the other two nominated movies yet: Margot Robbie for I, Tonya and Saoirse Ronan for Lady Bird.The Shape of Water

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Already the oldest winner of an acting Oscar Beginners (2010), Christopher Plummer, has become the oldest acting nominee at 88 (overtaking Emmanuelle Riva who was nominated for Best Actress for Amour in 2013 at the age of 85) for All the Money in the World.  But the real story is that his nomination comes only three months after being cast, replacing Kevin Spacey (after the film had wrapped).  Plummer is the best thing about the film is a strong contender for his second Oscar.  The overwhelming favourite and my choice would have to be Sam Rockwell for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.  The other contenders are also all good in a strong category: Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water; Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project; Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.


Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

This category has been described as the battle of the mothers as the two of the favourites play the mothers of the main characters: Allison Janney for I, Tonya and Laurie Metcalf for Lady Bird.  The other nominees are: Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread; Mary J. Blige, Mudbound; Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water. For me, the only obvious omission is Holly Hunter for The Big Sick. Lesley Manville Phantom Thread

Best Achievement in Directing

The most exciting category; whoever wins, it will be their first as a director.  Amazingly, Christopher Nolan’s nomination for Dunkirk is his first as director.  In fact, of the five nominations, Paul Thomas Anderson nominated for Phantom Thread is the only one to have previously been nominated (There Will Be Blood).  Obviously I would love Guillermo del Toro to win for The Shape of Water.  However, the other nominees are very interesting:  Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird and Jordan Peele, Get Out are both first time directors, and as a woman and a person of colour respectively, from groups who are underrepresented as directors.   Greta Gerwig and Jordan Peele

Best Original Screenplay

A strong category where any of the nominees would make worthy winners, they are: Get Out – Jordan Peele. Lady Bird – Greta Gerwig. The Big Sick – Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon. The Shape of Water Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – Martin McDonagh.  The Big Sick is the one I am most pleased to see, as well as being thoroughly deserved, it is the most surprising.  Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V Gordon

Best Adapted Screenplay

Molly’s Game is notable as Aaron Sorkin first film as a director.  It is quite rightly nominated for the screenplay.  The film has fantastic dialogue as well as a complex structure that really works.  However, it wouldn’t be my choice for the Oscar, that would go to: Logan – Scott Frank, James Mangold, and Michael Green.  They have turned everybody’s favourite X Man character into a dystopian western.  The other nominees are: Mudbound – Dee Rees and Virgil Williams; The Disaster Artist – Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber; Call Me by Your Name – James Ivory.Scott Frank James Mangold and Michael Green

Best Achievement in Cinematography

There are two notable nominations in this category:  Roger Deakins – Blade Runner 2049, received his fourteenth nomination.  On the other hand, not only is it the first nomination for Rachel Morrison – Mudbound, it is the first time a woman has ever been nominated in the category.  The other nominations are: Darkest Hour – Bruno Delbonnel; Dunkirk – Hoyte Van Hoytema; The Shape of Water – Dan Laustsen. Roots

The 90th Academy Awards ceremony, will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California at 5:00 p.m. PST (That’s silly O’clock in the morning GMT) on March 4, 2018.

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