Tagged: Arrival

Academy Award Nominations Announced


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



Hacksaw Ridge

Hell or High Water

Hidden Figures

La La Land


Manchester by the Sea


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


My Life as a Zucchini

The Red Turtle


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.

The Doctor of Movies’ Top 10 of 2016


10. Weiner (Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg)

Weiner is not the documentary that directors Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg intended to make and is so much better for it. When disgraced congressman Anthony Weiner’s run for Mayor of New York was derailed by another sexting scandal, what was meant to be a behind the scenes look at a political comeback turned into front row seats to a political campaign in full-blown crisis mode. With incredible access to throughout the downfall, this engrossing film is equal parts train wreck and tragedy as we see the impact this scandal has on the candidate, his family and his team. Full review


9. Zootopia (Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush)

Disney’s Zootopia works on multiple levels. It is a mystery, an odd-couple buddy movie and a powerful fable about discrimination, stereotyping and, in the face of these, empowerment, all packaged up in a bright and fun family animation. The story of a rural police bunny who moves to the big city for her first assignment is also another step in the evolution of Disney’s post-princess positive messaging to young girls. Fresh and smart, with vibrant production design and excellent voice casting, Zootopia is further evidence that Disney Animation Studios is in the midst of another purple patch. Full review


8. The Revenant (Alejandro G. Iñárritu)

Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s incredible “true” survival story of frontiersman Hugh Glass was an endurance test for its protagonist, for its cast and crew and, in the best possible way, for its audience. The Revenant is a brutal, bleak and gruelling movie. While Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance earned him his long awaited Oscar, the real star of the show here is cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, whose amazing images, shot entirely with natural light, make the North American landscape simultaneously breathtakingly beautiful and terrifying. It is an agoraphobic film that makes you feel trapped by sheer space. A really ambitious piece of filmmaking. Full review


7. Room (Lenny Abrahamson)

Lenny Abrahamson’s Room is a gripping drama about how a woman who has been locked in a room for seven years creates a life there for her young son, and then how the two of them adapt to the outside world upon their escape. A film of two distinct but equally effective halves, Room is built on two brilliant performances: Brie Larson’s Oscar winning turn as Ma, and newcomer Jacob Tremblay as her son in one of the most nuanced child performances you will ever see. Seen through the eyes of the young boy, this is an impactful and life affirming story about the lengths a mother will go to for her child. Full review

Big Short

6. The Big Short (Adam McKay)

Comedy director Adam McKay shifted gears to examine the housing crisis with this tragicomedy brimming with righteous anger. Following a small group of economists who see the writing on the wall and, when no one will heed their warning, decide to bet against the housing market, The Big Short is a David and Goliath story with a difference because they only win if everyone loses. While the complicated economic concepts on which the story hinge could alienate viewers, McKay finds a fun way to get around this, using fourth-wall breaking celebrity cameos to explain just enough for the viewer to get by. Full review


5. The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos)

You check into a hotel as a single person. You have forty-five days to find a compatible partner. If you are successful the two of you return to society together. If you are unsuccessful you are transformed into an animal. The Lobster is Greek auteur Yorgos Lanthimos’s first film in English and this surreal fable is undoubtedly the most original film of 2016. Darkly comedic but genuinely funny, The Lobster is both an unconventional love story and an absurdist reflection on romance, courtship and our society’s obsession with coupling. Colin Farrell leads a strong cast, all delivering wonderfully deadpan performances. Full review

Captain America - Civil War

4. Captain America: Civil War (Anthony Russo, Joe Russo)

The year’s highest grossing movie also turned out to be the year’s best blockbuster. While a number of high profile superhero films stumbled, Captain America: Civil War was the fullest realisation of the narrative potential of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Drawing together established characters with some fun new additions, Civil War sees our heroes turning against each other in an ideological conflict about the appropriateness of the Avengers’ unilateral power. Directors the Russo brothers and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely manage to balance spectacle with smarts, offering a sophisticated thematic exploration while retaining the fun, lightness of touch which has typified Marvel’s films. Full review

Sing Street

3. Sing Street (John Carney)

For mine, Sing Street is this year’s most criminally underseen film. Irish writer-director John Carney’s latest musical is a continuation of his favourite theme, that music has the power to lift people up and bring people together. A fifteen year old boy living in Dublin, in a moment of improvisation, asks a girl to star in a music video for his band. So now he has to form a band. Set in 1985, Sing Street has the added element of nostalgia with its soundtrack featuring a blend of classics from Duran Duran, Hall and Oates and The Cure, and originals by Carney and Gary Clark which fit seamlessly into the era. Full review


2. Arrival (Denis Villeneuve)

Quebecois director Denis Villeneuve continued his dramatic rise (next stop Blade Runner 2049) with this brilliant piece of science fiction. A first contact story that is more Close Encounters than Independence Day, Arrival focuses on the process of communication. How would we communicate with visiting extra-terrestrials and how would we make sure that we were understanding each other? Arrival achieves the difficult feat of being a really intelligent and thought provoking piece of science fiction that still manages to have some emotional resonance and human warmth. It is also easily my favourite film ever made about linguistics. Full review

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

1. Hunt for the Wilderpeople (Taika Waititi)

The little film that could. Hunt for the Wilderpeople earned rave reviews all over the world. Following on from the success of his vampire mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows, Taika Waititi took a beloved New Zealand book, Barry Crump’s Wild Pork and Watercress, and recreated it in his own image. The result is the most heartwarming and best film of 2016. The tale of a young Maori boy and his grizzly foster father on the run from the authorities in the New Zealand wilderness, Waititi’s film is a rollicking adventure with real human intimacy. Outstanding chemistry between the veteran Sam Neill and relative newcomer Julian Dennison as the mismatched protagonists. Full review

The Next Best (alphabetical): 10 Cloverfield Lane (Dan Trachtenberg), Angry Indian Goddesses (Pan Nalin), Anomalisa (Charlie Kauffman, Duke Johnson), Carol (Todd Haynes), Ghostbusters (Paul Feig), Hacksaw Ridge (Mel Gibson), The Hateful 8 (Quentin Tarantino), Spotlight (Tom McCarthy), Steve Jobs (Danny Boyle)

The Worst Movie of the Year:


There was some competition for this one from large scale, misfiring blockbusters like Suicide SquadX-Men: Apocalypse and Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, but in the end I couldn’t go past this debacle. A mess of cliches and worn out scenarios with nothing new to say, How to Be Single follows four parallel tales of women dealing with love, romance and single life in New York in which the amount of screen time given to each is inversely proportionate to how interesting they are.

Review – Arrival (2016)

Director: Denis Villeneuve

Starring: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg


While the sci-fi films that dominate the box office and attract the most attention tend to be rollicking space adventures like Star Wars and Guardians of the Galaxy, at its heart science fiction is a genre about ideas. At its best, science fiction uses fantastic, unfamiliar scenarios to discuss relevant issues and relatable ideas. Up and coming Quebecois director Denis Villeneuve’s latest film, Arrival – based on Ted Chiang’s “The Story of Your Life” – uses the story of aliens arriving on Earth to explore notions of communication, memory and time.

Twelve 1,500 foot tall spacecrafts shaped like giant coffee beans have settled at seemingly random locations around the globe. Every 18 hours a door at the bottom opens enabling us to go in and make contact. Continue reading