Preview: The 87th Annual Old White Guy Awards

gurus-top8-021815It seems like the biggest stories of this year’s Oscars have been those films and people not nominated, rather than those who were. Much has been made of the fact that not a single nominee in the Best Director or either Screenplay categories are either female or African-American, despite the presence of presumed contenders Ava DuVernay, who directed Selma or Gillian Flynn, who adapted her own novel Gone Girl from page to screen. Add to this the fact that the Academy also nominated 20 white actors in its acting categories, one almost gets the feeling if it could nominate 10 old men for the Best Actress categories it would, if only the rules would allow it.

imageBoyhood.

Moving on from these and other snubs, though (LEGO Movie, anyone?!), the race for Best Picture seems to have come down to two very different films: Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, which has the backing of most critics, and Alejandro Gonzalez-Iñárritu’s Birdman, which seems to have the majority of industry support. The criticism has been leveled at both that they are merely gimmicks, in Boyhood‘s case that it was filmed over 12 years and in Birdman‘s that it is made to look like one single continuous take from beginning to end. But both are brilliant, unique films that completely deserve their nominations. So which is going to take home the big prize?

birdman-01Birdman.

Right now, the smart money is on Birdman. It is this year’s most-nominated film (tied with The Grand Budapest Hotel with 9 apiece) and all the recent momentum seems to have swung its way. It also seems likely to take home awards for Director, Original Screenplay and Cinematography. Of course Boyhood is certainly in with a shout and if it manages an upset in Picture it will almost certainly take Best Director too, but at the moment it looks like a solitary win for Patricia Arquette’s magnificent performance in Best Supporting Actress for the one-time frontrunner.

Birdman is a film of the moment, edgy and fast-paced and it’s about ‘the business’, precisely the sort of back-patting ego-inflater the Academy loves (I mean, it also happens to be an excellent film which helps, at least). But one can’t help the feeling that if it isn’t Boyhood‘s name called on the night, it may just be the latest in Oscar’s long-running tradition of should-have-won films that we look back on in years to come with hands on heads. Boyhood is sure to go down in history as a great piece of American cinema from Richard Linklater, some would say his generation’s greatest American director  – but is it what the Academy likes?

the-theory-of-everything-eddie-redmayne-2-3Eddie Redmayne as Hawking in Theory of Everything.

The only major award Birdman seems likely to lose is Best Actor, which is surprising considering Michael Keaton’s mammoth performance. But in a tight race it looks like it’s Eddie Redmayne’s to lose. Redmayne has surged late in the running with his remarkable work as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. The Academy loves a true story and a physical transformation, and Redmayne nails both with aplomb. Although Bradley Cooper scores his third consecutive nomination for his flag-waving work in American Sniper, he and fellow nominees Benedict Cumberbatch and Steve Carell will all just be happy to be there.

What a pity that far and away the year’s best performance, from David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King, jr. in Selma has been ignored. I wonder why. I mean, the Academy did nominate Laurence Olivier for playing Othello in blackface…but that’s none of my business.

still-aliceMoore in Still Alice.

The other acting categories are all but sewn up. Julianne Moore will get her long overdue statue for her work in Still Alice, while JK Simmons (Whiplash) and Patricia Arquette (Boyhood) will complete this year’s line-up with deserved wins. In another year without Moore perhaps Reese Witherspoon (Wild) or Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night) might have challenged but both already have Oscars of their own and the Academy’s old white men- I’m so sorry, old wise men have decided its ‘time’ to honour one of the best actresses working for the last 20 years.

Ida1Ida.

There are still a few unpredictable races scattered throughout, like Best Foreign Language Film. Despite many predicting Pawel Pawlikowski’s majestic Ida, this category has seen many upsets in recent years, so don’t be surprised to hear Argentina’s Wild Tales called out and that’s what I’m predicting to win. There’s even an outside chance of Russia’s searingly powerful Leviathan taking home the award, but in the past US foreign relations have played a bigger role than they maybe should have in determining this one and so it seem unlikely we shall see a Russian winner. On the documentary front it would seem that Edward Snowden doc Citizenfour  is going to be the one to beat, though keep an eye out for the wonderful Finding Vivian Maier, an in-store favourite, although it’s unlikely to be an upset this year.

Things to Keep an Eye Out For:

  • Neil Patrick Harris is the latest brave soul to take on the task of hosting the ceremony. Can he revitalize the world’s most popular roomful of old white millionaires?
  • Best Cinematography sees veteran Dick Pope finally nominated for Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner. Can either he or equally overdue legend Roger Deakins (Unbroken) claim a statuette or will we see Birdman’s Emmanuel Lubezki win for a second consecutive year (he took it home last year for Gravity)?
  • Just how much support will dark horses Grand Budapest Hotel and American Sniper have? Both could easily come away with 3 or 4 statues of their own. If any films are going to sneakily prove popular choices, it’s these two. Expect Sniper to challenge for both Sound categories, Editing and perhaps even Adapted Screenplay. Expect Grand Budapest to be up for it in Costume, Production Design, Hair and Make-Up, Cinematography and maybe even Original Screenplay if it’s really loved.
  • With no Gone Girl in Best Adapted Screenplay, it could go anywhere. Expect it to be one of the Brit biopics. Either further love for Theory of Everything (along with Best Actor and potentially Score) or a consolation for The Imitation Game.
  • Animated Film frontrunner The LEGO Movie was a shock omission, so will the completely wonderful Boxtrolls get it’s due or will we be learning How to Train Your Dragon?
  • The one nomination LEGO did get was for it’s hit theme song “Everything is Awesome”, expect song to come down to this versus Selma’s Glory”, which might end up being the ‘sorry-we-were-racist’ prize for 2015.

And finally, will it be Inarritu and Birdman or Linklater and Boyhood that come out on top? While some are predicting a split between Best Director and Best Picture, this is rare (ignore the fact that it’s happened in both the last 2 years, it’s RARE I tell you!) and whichever man wins is likely to see his film win too.

Selma-FilmSelma.

Fingers crossed on this end for Boyhood (or, in a perfect world, Selma – but that’s so unlikely it’s actually past the point of parody) but regardless of which film wins, either would be one of the most artistically daring projects the Academy has ever gone for, so good luck to all!

Posted by David.

Oscar Catch-Up

So the Academy Awards are upon us once again – that prize bestowed by the institution made up of the most powerful string-pullers in the business… Of course, box office success has nothing to do with the outcome and everyone goes home a radiant and gracious winner – especially those whose paychecks have just quadrupled.  Watch for the stumbles, the cracked smiles, the false hope, the tears and, yes, the plastic surgery. Hecklers welcome. Streakers encouraged.

Below are the nominated films that are available on DVD for you to catch-up on. Pull your facial skin taut, perfect your frozen smile and watch with your fanciest frock on… And then – judge for yourselves!

gravity-posterNominated for 10 awards, including Best Picture and Best Directing (Alfonso Cuaron)

Plus – Cuaron Catch-up:little_princess_ver3A Little Princess (1995) – Apparently Alfonso’s personal favourite amongst his films.

y_tu_mama_tambien_ver2Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001) – Two young friends meet up with an older woman in this edgy, sexy coming of age road movie that rocketed Gael Garcia Bernal  to international stardom.

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Children of Men (2006) – Apocalyptic sci-fi drama starring the utterly unenigmatic Clive Owen – the miracle of pregnancy in an otherwise sterile world leads Clive to take extraordinary measures in an attempt to save the human race.

***

captain_phillips_ver2_xlrgCaptain Phillips

Nominated for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Barkhad Abdi) and Best Editing.

***

blue_jasmine_ver2Blue Jasmin

Nominated for Best Actress ( Cate Blanchett) and Best Supporting Actress (Sally Hawkins).

***

Prisoners+PosterPrisoners

Nominated for Best Cinematography.

***

115276Great Gatsby

Nominated for Best Costume Design.

***

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Act of Killing

Impressive and hard to watch, Act of Killing places  former torturers and exectutioners from the Indonesian anti-communist purge of the mid ’60s back in their bloody roles and watches as they eagerly reenact their crimes…

&

cutie

Cutie and the Boxer follows the life and marriage of two Japanese artists living in New York since the ’60s, one seriously overshadowed by the work – and personality – of the other (guess which is which).

– both nominated for Best Documentary.

***

12263_poster-of-the-great-beauty

Great Beauty

by Paulo Sorrentino (Consequences of Love, Il Divo, This Must Be the Place)

&

the_hunt_2012The Hunt by Thomas Vinterberg (Festen) and starring the excellent Mads Mikkelsen (After the Wedding, Royal Affair) – an excellent study of the effect that doubt and distrust can have in a small tight-knit community.. a man is falsely accused by a small child of abusing her and quickly finds his whole life turned upside down as those he trusted and thought of as friends turn against him.

&

broken-circle-breakdown-pstr03

Broken Circle Breakdown

– all nominated for Best Foreign Feature.

WATCH TONIGHT TO FIND OUT WHO THE WINNERS AND LOSERS ARE – OR JUST GET A GOOD NIGHT’S KIP INSTEAD AND CATCH IT ALL IN THE 25 PAGE SPREAD IN TOMORROW’S STANDARD/METRO… (well, there’s nothing else going on, is there?)

POSTED BY DIXIE TURNER

easy_rider poster

Oscar Tips: David Niven shows us how to keep our cool…

1361361156_1330106997_robert-opel-david-niven-lgDavid Niven (1910-1983), whose birthday it would be today, gets interrupted by a streaker at the 46th Academy Awards:

” Well that, ladies and gentlemen, was almost bound to happen. It’s fascinating to think that probably the only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping off and showing his shortcomings.”

1958-david-niven_2149667iDavid Niven winning his own Oscar for Separate Tables.

“KEEP THE CIRCUS GOING INSIDE YOU, KEEP IT GOING, DON’T TAKE ANYTHING TOO SERIOUSLY – IT’LL ALL WORK OUT IN THE END.”

david-niven

More Niven Tips:

Separate Tables (1958)

Bonjour Tristesse (1958)

A Matter of Life and Death (1946)

posted by Dixie Turner

OSCAR NOMINATIONS ANNOUNCED

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So many frocks for such a little fella…

In case you missed the news, the cream of Hollywood have announced their nominations for the 2013 Academy Awards. Whilst we wait with bated breath to see what everyone will be wearing, you can divert yourselves by ruminating upon the following (click on links for the trailers, folks):

BEST PICTURE:

Amour
Argo
Django Unchained
Les Misérables
Life Of Pi
Lincoln
Zero Dark Thirty
Beasts Of The Southern Wild
Silver Linings Playbook

lincoln-daniel-day-lewis

Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln has the most nominations with 12 in total, including for Daniel Day-Lewis, who seems to be the favourite for best Actor. Check out Daniel in his previous Oscar-winning roles in There Will Be Blood (2007) and My Left Foot (1989).

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Despite being Mr. Hollywood, Schindler’s List has been the only film to win Best Picture that Spielberg has ever made. So far.

BEST DIRECTOR:

Life Of Pi – Ang Lee
Lincoln – Steven Spielberg
Amour – Michael Haneke
Silver Linings Playbook – David O. Russell
Beasts Of The Southern Wild – Benh Zeitlin

BEST ACTOR:

Denzel Washington – Flight
Bradley Cooper – Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis – Lincoln
Hugh Jackman – Les Misérables
Joaquin Phoenix – The Master

BEST ACTRESS:

Emmanuelle Riva – Amour
Jennifer Lawrence – Silver Linings Playbook
Jessica Chastain – Zero Dark Thirty
Quvenzhané Wallis – Beasts Of The Southern Wild
Naomi Watts – The Impossible

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:

Alan Arkin – Argo
Christoph Waltz – Django Unchained
Robert De Niro – Silver Linings Playbook
Philip Seymour Hoffman – The Master (Check him out in Jack Goes Boating)
Tommy Lee Jones – Lincoln

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:

Amy Adams – The Master (Check her out in The Fighter and Julie and Julia)
Anne Hathaway – Les Misérables
Helen Hunt – The Sessions
Sally Field – Lincoln
Jacky Weaver – Silver Linings Playbook

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM:

Amour – Austria
Kon-TikiNorway
NoChile
A Royal AffairDenmark
War WitchCanada

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Amour, nominated in both the Best Picture and Best Foreign Pic categories, is directed by Michael Haneke. If you know him not, then get on it now. Recommended essential viewing to get up to speed: The Piano Teacher, Hidden, White Ribbon, Funny Games and Code Unknown. That should keep you busy until Amour comes out on DVD (18th March, so stop asking).

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE:

5 Broken Cameras
The Gatekeepers
How To Survive A Plague
The Invisible War
Searching For Sugar Man

searching_for_sugar_man_5b19dedc5bcf54bc46c92ae1349fae5e

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:

Michael Haneke – Amour
Quentin Tarantino – Django Unchained
Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola – Moonrise Kingdom
Mark Boal – Zero Dark Thirty
John Gatins – Flight