Tagged: Academy Awards

Review – I Am Not Your Negro (2016)

Director: Raoul Peck

Starring: James Baldwin, Samuel L. Jackson

I Am Not Your Negro

In 1979, author, intellectual and activist James Baldwin wrote a thirty page treatment for a book to be called ‘Remember this House.’ It was going to be his personal account, describing his experience of the murders of his three friends and fellow civil rights champions, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. However Baldwin ultimately couldn’t bring himself to write the book and he passed away in 1987 having never returned to it. Using Baldwin’s own words, Raoul Peck’s Oscar nominated documentary I Am Not Your Negro sets about trying to bring this unrealised work to life.

While Baldwin is the film’s principal character, I Am Not Your Negro is not a biography. Peck does not concern himself with delivering names, dates, milestones and achievements. If you come into this film without a great knowledge of who Baldwin was and what he did (and as a thirty-something Australian I confess to being far from an expert), you are not going to come out of the film with all of those questions answered. But you will come out with the desire to learn more, because what the film does emphatically show you of Baldwin was that he was a towering mind, a great thinker and powerful debater. Continue reading

Review – Hidden Figures (2016)

Director: Theodore Melfi

Starring: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali

hidden_figures

There is something romantic about the Space Race. The sheer ambition of it. Literally shooting for the moon. Particularly today when politics seems so petty the aspirational nature of it is appealing. Theodore Melfi’s Hidden Figures tells the true story of three unsung heroes working behind the scenes at NASA, using this moment of heroic scientific progress to reveal equally heroic social progress.

It is 1961, and in Langley, Virginia, NASA’s engineers are deep into planning the Mercury mission that will see John Glenn become the first American to orbit the Earth. But these are still analogue times. The ‘computers’ that the engineers use to do their calculations are people, predominantly women, seen effectively as mathematical clerical workers. Among these computers are Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae). While the work they do is critical to the success of the Mercury mission, they still live in a segregated world Continue reading

Review – Manchester by the Sea (2016)

Director: Kenneth Lonergan

Starring: Casey Affleck, Lucas Hedges, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler

manchester_by_the_sea

Over the decades the movies have provided us with many inspirational stories about people overcoming obstacles, about people rising to the occasion when the situation demands it. But sometimes people don’t, or rather they can’t. Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea, his third film as writer-director, tells the story of such a character. It is a gut-wrenching exploration of family tragedy and a complex study of the way that grief and guilt can cripple a life.

Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) is a handyman in Boston. There is something about him that strikes us the moment we meet him. It is as though he is an empty shell. He is a loner, emotionally closed off from the world. When Lee’s brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) dies from a heart attack, the result of an ongoing condition, he has to head up to Manchester to make arrangements and look after his brother’s affairs. Continue reading

Academy Award Nominations Announced

oscars-logo

The nominations for the 89th Academy Awards were announced this morning and as usual there are a few interesting inclusions and talking points, particularly in light of the diversity controversy that has surrounded the Oscars for the last few years. So who got the nod?

Best Picture

Arrival

Fences

Hacksaw Ridge

Hell or High Water

Hidden Figures

La La Land

Lion

Manchester by the Sea

Moonlight

There are nine nominees for the big gong this year. The frontrunner is undoubtedly La La Land, with its fourteen nominations equalling the record shared by All About Eve and Titanic, while Arrival and Moonlight scored eight nods each. Hidden Figures has made a late charge, riding its recent box office success to a nomination. In light of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy that has plagued the awards the last two years, it is notable that three (Fences, Hidden Figures and Moonlight) of the nine nominated films tell stories of African American characters (though this should be read as evidence of a strong year of black screen storytelling rather than some knee-jerk reaction from Academy voters). Nominations for Hacksaw Ridge and Lion, who both picked up six nominations, makes it a great year for Australian films, with it being the first time ever there are two Aussie films nominated for Best Picture in the same year. In terms of notable omissions, Silence was never really considered a lock but it also wouldn’t have been surprising if the industry’s reverence for Martin Scorsese resulted in it getting a nod.

Best Director

Damien Chazelle – La La Land

Mel Gibson – Hacksaw Ridge

Barry Jenkins – Moonlight

Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea

Denis Villeneuve – Arrival

Not a lot of familiar faces this year in the Best Director field, with Damien Chazelle, Barry Jenkins, Kenneth Lonergan and Denis Villeneuve all being first time nominees. Mel Gibson, who won the award for Braveheart 21 years ago, is welcomed back after a long time out in the cold. If Chazelle were to win, and he must be considered the favourite, he would become the youngest Best Director winner in history at only 32. It is also always worth looking at how this category reflects on the Best Picture field: Fences, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures and Lion being the four nominees whose directors missed out.

Best Actor

Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea

Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge

Ryan Gosling – La La Land

Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic

Denzel Washington – Faces

This category turned out mostly as expected with the notable call here is Viggo Mortensen’s work in the small Captain Fantastic managing to keep the star power of Tom Hanks out of the field. It would appear at this stage that Casey Affleckis the clear favourite in this category based on buzz and award season performance thus far, but who knows what impact the sexual assault controversy will have on voters.

Best Actress

Isabelle Huppert – Elle

Ruth Negga – Loving

Natalie Portman – Jackie

Emma Stone – La La Land

Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins

As has become standard, the Best Actress field is comprised of four nominees and Meryl Streep (who was no doubt helped by the buzz around her Golden Globes acceptance speech). It is an interesting field, featuring five quite different performances, but the front runners would seem to be Portman and Stone. The most notable omission, and one of the bigger surprises overall, is Amy Adams, who likely split her vote with her performances in Arrival and Nocturnal Animals attracting attention. Annette Benning in 20th Century Women and Taraji P. Henson in Hidden Figures were also shot but missed the cut.

Best Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali – Moonlight

Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water

Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea

Dev Patel – Lion

Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals

Jeff Bridges earns his seventh Oscar nomination (for one win) here. Michael Shannon is the only other non-first time nominee. Interesting to see Aaron Taylor Johnson miss out on a nomination after winning this category at the Golden Globes. Particularly interesting given he has effectively been replaced by his Nocturnal Animals co-star Michael Shannon. Hugh Grant is also unlucky to miss out given it is he, more so than Meryl Streep, who carries the emotion of Florence Foster Jenkins. Ali the front runner.

Best Supporting Actress

Viola Davis – Fences

Naomie Harris – Moonlight

Nicole Kidman – Lion

Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures

Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea

Not a lot of surprises with this one. It does mark the first time three black actors have been nominated in the same category in the same year. Viola Davis, who there was some uncertainty as to whether she would be considered in the Lead or Supporting categories, is the overwhelming favourite. Naomie Harris is the only first time nominee in the field.

Best Animated Feature

Kubo and the Two Strings

Moana

My Life as a Zucchini

The Red Turtle

Zootopia

Best Animated Feature is a really strong field this year which is reflected in the fact that Finding Dory missed out on a nomination. When was the last time the Academy couldn’t find room for a Pixar film in their Best Animated Feature field? Zootopia is probably the one to beat here.

 

And here is how the other nominations look…

Best Original Screenplay

20th Century Women – Mike Mills

Hell or Highwater – Taylor Sheridan

La La Land – Damien Chazelle

The Lobster – Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou

Manchester by the Sea – Kenneth Lonergan

Best Adapted Screenplay

Arrival – Eric Heisserer

Fences – August Wilson

Hidden Figures – Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi

Lion – Luke Davies

Moonlight – Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney

Best Foreign Language

A Man Called Ove – Sweden

Land of Mine – Denmark

Tanna – Australia

The Salesman – Iran

Toni Erdmann – Germany

Best Cinematography

Arrival – Bradford Young

La La Land – Linus Sandgren

Lion – Greig Fraser

Moonlight – James Laxton

Silence – Rodrigo Prieto

Best Editing

Arrival – Joe Walker

Hacksaw Ridge – John Gilbert

Hell or Highwater – Jake Roberts

La La Land – Tom Cross

Moonlight – Nat Sanders and Joi McMillan

Best Sound Editing

Arrival – Sylvain Bellemare

Deep Water Horizon – Wylie Stateman and Renee Tondelli

Hacksaw Ridge – Robert Mackenzie and Andy Wright

La La Land – Ai-Ling Lee and Mildred Iatrou Morgan

Sully – Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman

Best Sound Mixing

Arrival – Bernard Gariepy Strobl and Claude La Haye

Hacksaw Ridge – KEvin O’Connell, Andy Wright, Robert Mackenzie and Peter Grace

La La Land – Andy Nelson, Ai-Ling Lee and Steve A. Morrow

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – David Parker, Christopher Scarabosio and Stuart Wilson

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi – Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Mac Ruth

Best Production Design

Arrival – Patrice Vermette and Paul Hotte

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – Stuart Craig and Anna Pinnock

Hail, Caesar! – Jess Gonchor and Nancy Haigh

La La Land – David Wasco and Sandy Reynolds-Wasco

Passengers – Guy Hendrix Dyas and Gene Serdena

Best Original Score

Jackie – Mica Levi

La La Land – Justin Hurwitz

Lion – Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka

Moonlight – Nicholas Pritell

Passengers – Thomas Newman

Best Original Song

“Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” – La La Land

“Can’t Stop the Feeling” – Trolls

“City of Stars” – La La Land

“The Empty Chair” – Jim: The Jim Foley Story

“How Far I’ll Go” – Moana

Best Hair and Makeup

A Man Called Ove – Eva von Bahr and Love Larson

Star Trek Beyond – Joel Harlow and Richard Alonzo

Suicide Squad – Alessandro Bertolazzi, Giorgio Gregorini and Christopher Nelson

Best Costume Design

Allied – Joanna Johnston

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – Colleen Atwood

Florence Foster Jenkins – Consolata Boyle

Jackie – Madeline Fontaine

La La Land – Mary Zophres

Best Visual Effects

Deepwater Horizon – Craig Hammack, Jason Snell, Jason Billington and Burt Dalton

Doctor Strange – Stephane Ceretti, Richard Bluff, Vincent Cirelli and Paul Corbould

The Jungle Book – Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones and Dan Lemmon

Kubo and the Two Strings – Steve Emerson, Oliver Jones, Brian McLean and Brad Schiff

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – John Knoll, Mohen Leo, Hal Hickel and Neil Corbould

Best Documentary Feature

13th – Ava DuVernay, Spencer Averick and Howard Barish

Fire at Sea – Gianfranco Rosi and Donatella Palermo

I Am Not Your Negro – Raoul Peck, Remi Grellety and Herbert Peck

Life, Animated – Roger Ross Williams and Julie Goldman

O.J.: Made in America – Ezra Edelman and Caroline Waterlow

Best Documentary Short Subject

4.1 Miles – Daphne Matziaraka

Extremis – Dan Krauss

Joe’s Violin – Kahane Cooperman and Raphaela Neihausen

Watani: My Homeland – Marcel Mettelsiefen and Stephen Ellis

The White Helmets – Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara

Best Live Action Short

Ennemis Interieurs – Selim Azzazi

La Femme et le TGV – Timo von Gunten and Giacun Caduff

Silent Nights – Aske Bang and Kim Magnusson

Sing – Kristof Deak and Anna Udvardy

Timecode – Juanjo Gimenez

Best Animated Short

Blind Vaysha – Theodore Ushev

Borrowed Time – Andrew Coats and Lou Hamou-Lhadj

Pear Cider and Cigarettes – Robert Valley and Cara Speller

Pearl – Patrick Osborne

Piper – Alan Barillaro and Marc Sondheimer

The 89th Academy Awards presentation will be held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California, on 26th February.

Review – Room (2015)

Director: Lenny Abrahamson

Starring: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen, Sean Bridgers, Tom McCamus, William H. Macy

room

Irish director Lenny Abrahamson’s adaptation of Emma Donoghue’s Man Booker Prize shortlisted novel Room (which she wrote the screenplay for) is a tender and at times thrilling drama about the love of a mother for her son in the face of extreme circumstances.

Five-year-old Jack (Jacob Tremblay) lives with his mother (Brie Larson) in Room, a small, grimy, sound-proof shed with a skylight. He has lived there his whole life. It is just the two of them except for once a week in the evening when he must hide in the wardrobe while a mysterious man known only as ‘Old Nick’ (Sean Bridgers) comes to drop off supplies and ‘visit’ his mother. As an audience we make assumptions about Jack and his Ma’s situation and how they came to be there, but Jack never questions it. In his limited perspective there is Room, there is outer space and there are the planets that he sees on TV, but they aren’t real. Only Room is real. Continue reading

Review – Still Alice (2014)

Directors: Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland

Starring: Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth, Hunter Parrish, Stephen Kunken

Still AliceAlzheimer’s is the cruellest of diseases. You lose your memories, your personality, and ultimately yourself. Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland’s Still Alice does not shy away from challenging nature of this subject matter. Coming from a novel by neuroscientist Lisa Genova, and with Glatzer himself suffering from a neurodegenerative disorder (ALS), this is an honest and highly personal film.

Dr Alice Howland (Julianne Moore) is a brilliant woman. An influential linguistics professor at Columbia University in New York, she is a powerful and confident intellectual. Shortly after her fiftieth birthday she starts to experience mental blanks, occasionally forgetting words or appointments. Suspecting something isn’t right, she visits a neurologist where, after some tests, she gets the diagnosis: early-onset Alzheimer’s.

Alice has a husband, John (Alec Baldwin), a medical researcher, and three children; Continue reading

Best Picture Breakdown 2015

The Academy has presented us with quite an interesting eight film field for Best Picture this year. While half of the nominees are biopics – traditional Best Picture fare – we also have some rather audacious and distinctly non-traditional contenders. There is even a comedy in there! We also don’t have a cut and dry favourite, with different films having seemingly risen and faded over the last few weeks. What follows is a breakdown of the eight contenders chances and the arguments for and against for each. Continue reading