Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Season Full of Awards: NBR

The NBR always feels like the official start to Award's Season because it is the first batch of nominees/winners that actually encompasses the whole of film for the year and not just the independant or foreign films.  Here we have a first 'critical' look at the year as a whole.  The NBR has shown a specific taste in the past, some of it questionable, but the last few years they have tried to separate themselves from being considered as merely another Oscar prognosticator, and their choices of films like Her and A Most Violent Year as Best Film show that separation well.  This year had a lot of interesting choices.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Season Full of Awards: Gotham Winners

Best Picture

This has no chance in hell at actually winning Best Picture at the Oscars...but this upset over Manchester By the Sea (which seemed like the stronger film) could solidify it's place on nomination morning.  This could wind up being a stronger film than I initially anticipated.

O.J. Made in America

I think a concensus is starting to form over the documentaries we'll be seeing pop up on nomination morning.  This feels like one of them.

Casey Affleck for Manchester By the Sea

Stars are aligning for Casey to snatch up that Oscar, and I'm so happy for him since he's one of those actors who is consistently good, and he should already have an Oscar in his hands for his tremendous performance in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.  Washington could still make a play, but right now it's looking like Casey will actually take this, especially in the light of Viola stealing Williams' Oscar.

Isabelle Huppert for Elle

So, this happened.  Huppert, I think, is stronger than we all thought she was.  I never saw Portman as undeniable, and I still think that Oscar is Stone's, but this makes things so much more interesting.  Watching this go down like 2012, with Stone and Huppert being the Lawrence/Riva pairing.  AMAZING!


Over Manchester By the Sea seems strange and yet, this movie is truly beloved.  Could this repeat with Oscar?  I'm not so sure, since Lonergan seems like someone AMPAS will want to reward this year, but you never know.  It's beginning to look like a real race.

Breakthrough Director
Trey Edward Schultz for Krisha

In terms of Oscar, this means nothing.

Breakthrough Actor
Anya Taylor-Joy for The Witch

This also means nothing, considering who it is.  She has no Oscar traction and won't get any.  Poor Lucas Hedges...I thought this could have been the start of his onslaught of Breakthrough Awards this season.

Monday, November 28, 2016

A Season Full of Awards: Annie Awards ~ Nominations

So here is our first real glimpse at the animated films that are edging themselves out in the front of the pack and the first time we'll get a real idea of which animated shorts could be in contention for Oscar.  Films that do not get a wide release here in the States are delegated to the Indepentent category, so there will be a combination come Oscar.

Best Animated Feature

“Finding Dory,” Pixar Animation Studios
“Kubo and the Two Strings,” Laika
“Kung Fu Panda 3,” DreamWorks Animation
“Moana,” Walt Disney Animation
“Zootopia,” Walt Disney Animation

Zootopia is locked in.  I also feel like Kubo will happen.  The animated brack LOVES to reward the stop-motion animation and Kubo has very good reviews.  The rest I'm a touch up in the air about because I could see something like Dory being nominated because of the sheer strength of it's box-office, but Moana is new and shiney (despite not having stellar reviews).  Kung Fu Panda 3 is here as filler...which is a shame because if we're going to have filler I'd rather it be something like Secret Life of Pets, which was actually really, really good.

Best Animated Feature – Independent

“Long Way North,” Sacrebleu Productions, Maybe Movies, NorlumStudios, France 3 Cinéma and 2 Minutes
“Miss Hokusai,” GKids
“My Life as a Zucchini,” GKids
“The Red Turtle,” Studio Ghibli, Wild Bunch, Why Not Productions
“Your Name.,” CoMix Wave Films

The Red Turtle is in.  I also really think that My Life as a Zucchini is in as well.  Miss Hokusai has been getting some attention lately, but the idea of three foreigns getting in seems like a real stretch.  I really wish the April and the Extraordinary World would have snuck in here, or The Little Prince.

Best Animated Short Subject

“Blind Vaysha,” National FilmBoard of Canada
“Deer Flower,” Studio ZAZAC
“Path Title Sequence,” Acme Filmworks
“Pearl,” Google Spotlight Stories/Evil Eye Pictures
“Piper,” Pixar Animation Studios

I have no idea what to make of this category yet, but Piper is adorable and will most likely sail through to an Oscar nom on the shoulders of Disney/Pixar alone.

Friday, November 25, 2016

1950 Fisti Awards

[Images May Be Enlarged by Clicking on Them]

1950.  The battle of the two masterpieces that define Classic Hollywood in the most incredible ways.  How can you chose?  HOW CAN YOU CHOSE?!?!  It's a flip of the coin type ordeal because both films are tremendous in nearly every possible way and yet, one must chose and so chose I have.

I agree with Oscar; sort of.

All About Eve is a tremendous feat and a film that is, in a word, unforgettable.  And yet, Sunset Boulevard is just as tremendous and just as unforgettable and so, while I side with Oscar and their decision to reward All About Eve the title of Best Picture...I can't let is sweep here (it won 6 Oscars) because Sunset Boulevard deserves just as much recognition.

Honestly, if I allowed myself a tie in Best Picture, I would dole it out this year.

But as a wise friend (cough-Joel-cough) said to me:

1950 is just an insanely competitive year, I think because All About Eve & Sunset Blvd.'s reputations loom so large that much of the other bounty of quality available doesn't get its proper due.
He's right, this is one incredible year and it's a shame that so little outside of those two Oscar giants are even remembered, let alone talked about.  The film noir soars this year, with Huston, Preminger, Lewis, Dassin, Mankiewicz, Curtiz, Ray and yes, Wilder, delivering a bounty of films that will keep you glued from start to finish in a sea of tension.  Daves and Mann deliver standout westerns while Minnelli takes on the dramedy with lavish results.  The year is aces from top to bottom and with that in mind I present to you the Fisti Awards for 1950 (now with comments on all ballots)!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A Season Full of Awards: ISA (Independent Spirit Awards) ~ Nominations

Best Feature

“American Honey”
“Manchester by the Sea”

It's weird to me that a film like Chronic made it, when everything I hear from those who have seen it was that it was very underwhelming; and Hell or High Water was in contention and had a lot of buzz/praise going into this so it seems odd that it missed.  Loving also feels like a strange omission, considering the love the ISA has for Nichols.  That being said, three of these films (Jackie, Manchester by the Sea & Moonlight) are almost guarantied Oscar nominations for Best Picture.

Best Director

Andrea Arnold (“American Honey”)
Barry Jenkins (“Moonlight”)
Pablo Larrain (“Jackie”)
Jeff Nichols (“Loving”)
Kelly Reichardt (“Certain Women”)

No Lonergan?  This does not compute.  Actually, a LOT of these nominations/snubs don't compute.  Lonergan is one that I'd say is almost assured an Oscar nomination, while Jenkins and Larrain feel...uncertain, despite the raves for their films.  Odd...

Best First Feature

“The Childhood of a Leader”
“The Fits”
“Other People”
“Swiss Army Man”
“The Witch”

Love for Swiss Army Man makes me happy.  That being said, none of these films will compete for Oscar attention in any category.

Best Male Lead

Casey Affleck (“Manchester by the Sea”)
David Harewood (“Free in Deed”)
Viggo Mortensen (“Captain Fantastic”)
Jesse Plemons (“Other People”)
Tim Roth (“Chronic”)

No Edgerton makes my heart hurt.  Affleck is going to take this rather easily, and his path to Oscar glory is looking...very good.  The rest of the nominees here aren't going to factor into the race at all, with the exception (possible) of Mortensen...but I'm not so sure about that.

Best Female Lead

Annette Bening (“20th Century Women”)
Isabelle Huppert (“Elle”)
Sasha Lane (“American Honey”)
Ruth Negga (“Loving”)
Natalie Portman (“Jackie”)

Could Bening, Huppert, Negga AND Portman all be Oscar nominated?  The ISA matches more often than you'd think with this particular category.  2010 anyone?

Best Supporting Male

Ralph Fiennes (“A Bigger Splash”)
Ben Foster (“Hell or High Water”)
Lucas Hedges (“Manchester by the Sea”)
Shia LaBeouf (“American Honey”)
Craig Robinson (“Morris from America”)

I'm holding out hope for Hedges...but honestly, I could see all from this category snubbed.  Where the hell is Ali and Sarsgaard?

Best Supporting Female

Edwina Findley (“Free in Deed”)
Paulina Garcia (“Little Men”)
Lily Gladstone (“Certain Women”)
Riley Keough (“American Honey”)
Molly Shannon (“Other People”)

What the actual f***?  No Michelle Williams?  This feels...really strange.  Harris I can understand ONLY because her reviews are nowhere near as uniformly stellar and her film won the Altman 'ensemble' award, so that is where she's rewarded, but Williams seemed like a lock to WIN this.  None of these nominees will repeat with Oscar.

Best Screenplay

“Hell or High Water”
“Little Men”
“Manchester by the Sea”
“20th Century Women”

I could honestly see 4 of these repeating with Oscar...

Best First Screenplay

“Jean of the Joneses”
“Other People”
“The Witch”


Best International Film

“My Golden Days”
“Toni Erdmann”
“Under the Shadow”

I'm not sure what to make of Aquarius and it's chances.  Hell, I'm not sure what to make of this category at all, but I have a suspicion that Cannes triumph (critically, not with awards) Toni Erdmann is going to show up everywhere.

Best Documentary Feature

“I Am Not Your Negro”
“O.J.: Made in America”
“Under the Sun”

We are starting to see a lot of repeat names.

Best Cinematography

“American Honey”
“Free in Deed”
“Eyes of My Mother”

Only Moonlight has a shot at an Oscar nom, and from what I hear it would be VERY deserving...but some of these guilds are very picky about allowing new people into their fold and so it would not surprise me if there is a Moonlight snub come Oscar morning.

Best Editing

“Hell or High Water”
“Manchester by the Sea”
“Swiss Army Man”

From what I hear, Jackie is very sharply edited.  That could play well here and with Oscar.

John Cassavetes Award

“Free in Deed”
“Hunter Gatherer”
“Spa Night”


Robert Altman Award


This is probably why we have no actors from the film nominated.  Strange rule (if it is even a rule) but it seems like the only possible explanation. 

Trailer Break: Silence

This movie was almost starting to feel like a figment of my cinematic dreams, but it really is REAL, and it looks incredible.  My everything still says that La La Land is going to coast to win all the Oscars, because it has the added bonus of not only dazzling at the festivals but building buzz that seems to actually be validated by the finished product, but if any film this year can come out of the shadows and steal all the attention, it's a Martin Scorsese passion project that looks THIS good.  I need this movie in my life right now!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Would you have still done it?

When my wife was pregnant with our first child, the question everyone would ask was, "Do you want a boy or a girl?".  That's the question everyone asks, I know, and my wife and I generally gave the same answer everyone gives; "We don't care as long as they're healthy."  Recently a friend, who's daughter was born with a very serious heart condition, expressed his irritation with that common response.  "Should we throw her away if she's not?" was his question, and it was one that struck a chord with me.  Still, no parent in their right mind would not WANT their child to be healthy, because there is no greater gift in this world than that of life, and every (good) parent wants the best of those to go to their children.

When the credits began to roll after a late night Friday showing of Arrival, I thought of my friend's words.  As I wiped my face, soaked with tears, I looked at my friend's two teenage sons (whom I had taken to the movies with me) and saw the concern on their face and then one of them literally asked me, "Would you have still done it?" and I couldn't talk.

Most of the ride home I couldn't talk.

Thinking about it now, I'm still not sure I know the answer.

Arrival has been lavished with praise by many critics and movie goers as the best sci-fi film in recent memory.  Cerebral sci-fi is what it is being called, but despite all the praise and inevitable accolades, I was skeptical.  Denis Villeneuve's name isn't one the elicits excitement from me.  I rather enjoyed Enemy, but Sicario was clumsy and somewhat empty, Incendiaries was ridiculous and Prisoners was one of the dumbest movies I've ever seen.  I was prepared to find this film overrated and silly, to be honest, but there is nothing overrated or silly about Villeneuve's first true masterpiece.

It's damn-near perfect.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Trailer Break: Beauty and the Beast

Ok, so as most of you probably know, I consider 1991's Beauty and the Beast to be one of the greatest films of all time.  I have been quietly skeptical about this live adapatation despite fawning over it having the cast to put an end to all casts because it's so perfect (Belle aside), but this trailer is everything I could have ever hoped it would be.  Sure, it looks like a pretty 'on point' retelling of Disney's gem (although that glimpse of Maurice plucking the rose brought back La Belle et la Bete memories) but the amount of chills this trailer gave my body does not lie.  MY BEATING HEART!  The effects look remarkable, and you can pencil this in for some serious Cinematography/Art Direction/Costume Design consideration at next year's Oscars.  This looks, in a word, magical.

Monday, November 7, 2016

A Season Full of Awards: HFA (Hollywood Film Awards)

LOL, I know that these awards truly mean nothing, since they're all purchased by the studios in an attempt to get Oscar traction, but they happened last night so we might as well discuss them.  Let's take a look at their roster of winners (since they don't have nominees).

Hollywood Career Achievement Award
Eddie Murphy

This seems like an odd choice, even for them.  I mean, usually they tend to attach this award to a name that actually has Oscar traction (De Niro, Keaton, Ford etc.) and Mr. Church has none of that, but whatever...he has had a pretty incredible career so these kinds of awards are deserved.

Hollywood Producer Award 
Marc Platt (La La Land, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, The Girl on the Train)

So this is their equivelent of a Best Picture award this year, I guess, and it's obviously going to La La Land considering that both The Girl on the Train and Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk Oscar chances anymore.  LOL at how that turned out (especially for Billy Lynn) but who cares.  This award's body is a joke anyway.  They probably made all these decisions before seeing any of these films.

Hollywood Director Award 
Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge

So, he's not happening with Oscar, but this is actually a touch telling considering some of the buzz his film is actually getting.  It's not strong enough to actually make a big play, especially not with the more prestigious guilds and with Oscar, but I could actually see Gibson and company making a dash for some of the lesser critics and even the Globes, where they LOVE to starf*ck.

Hollywood Actor Award 
Tom Hanks, Sully

I'm predicting him for the Oscar nom, ATM.  The category is so weak and his reviews are stellar, but he never campaigns so this could be a problem for him in the long run.  He was snubbed for his last two film (for which he recieved stellar reviews as well) but every race is different and this one looks more favorable for him.

Hollywood Actress Award 
Natalie Portman, Jackie

Not sure why she bought this one, since her reviews alone have cemented her as a frontrunner, but I still think Emma Stone is taking this rather easily so...

Hollywood Supporting Actor Award 
Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins

He has the reviews and many think he's got the narrative (reliable and likable star who finally has an Oscar break) and he's WORKING the curcuit, but I'm a little weary of his actual Oscar chances.  I like Grant a lot, but he just doesn't feel like an Oscar nominee to me, and I have a feeling that even if he hits all precursors he could still wind up being that random snub in favor of a tagalong nom from a more prestigious film.  We'll just need to see how this season shapes up.

Hollywood Supporting Actress Award 
Nicole Kidman, Lion

Like Winslet last year, this feels like the kind of supporting role that gets a legendary Oscar winning actress a welcome back nom.  Her last nom was in 2010 (Winslet's was in 08) so it makes sense, and the category is fluid enough ATM to validate it.

Hollywood Breakout Actress Award 
Naomie Harris, Collateral Beauty and Moonlight

I love how excited everyone is for Harris despite the fact that most everyone I know who's seen the film says she's the weakest part of it (some say she's downright bad) but her career deserves this and so I'm so happy for her to finally have a moment that could hopefully lead to many more moments.  It's like Henson circa 2008...lovely nomination for a meh performance delivered by a brilliant actress finally getting recognized.  

New Hollywood Award 
Lily Collins, Rules Don’t Apply

She's been around for quite a while this is kind of dumb (same for Harris except that I consider Breakout more the year where people start to recognize you, and so it makes more sense for Harris...but New Hollywood...for someone who's already helmed a Snow White adaptation alongside Julia Roberts YEARS ago?

Hollywood Spotlight Award 
Janelle Monáe, Hidden Figures

How many 'breakout' awards do they need?  I've heard she's the best thing about Hidden Figures and better than Harris in Moonlight so I'm excited for her movie career.  If it's anything like her music one, I'll be VERY happy.

Hollywood Ensemble Award 

I have a feeling no one will care about this movie at all once it's released.

Hollywood Comedy Award 
Robert De Niro, The Comedian

Ok, so this is one perforamnce I'm intrigued by because it is being pushed out to us almost out of the blue entirely in a very weak year for Lead Actor (at least in terms of Oscar) and De Niro was recently welcomed back to the club (thank you Russell) and this kind of role could be GOLD if written right, so I wonder if he could get a late in the season surge once it's dropped and wind up being embraced by the likes of SAG and eventually Oscar.  Time shall tell.

Hollywood Breakthrough Director Award 
Tom Ford, Nocturnal Animals

This film looks SICK...but I have a strong feeling no member of AMPAS will even watch it.

Hollywood Screenwriter Award 
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea

And the Oscar goes to...

Hollywood Blockbuster Award 
The Jungle Book

I kind of hate these kinds of awards because, who cares, but I really liked this movie so...

Hollywood Song Award 
"Can't Stop the Feeling!" - Justin Timberlake, Trolls

I HATE this song, but it's catchy AF and it's a HUGE hit so this makes sense.  I'm not entirely sure of the Oscar chances here.  It feels almost too pop-culture populist at this point, but then again a song like Happy came close to dethroning the Disney juggernaut of it's year, so you never know.

Hollywood Documentary Award 
Before the Flood

Another film to keep an eye on?

Hollywood Animation Award 

Listen, I really, really liked this one.  I love Disney, and this film had such a strong and cleverly executed message.  That said, this year has a few foreign animated films with RAVES upon RAVES and it would be so nice to see Oscar embrace something different for a change.  I'm not going to hold my breath, but maybe, just maybe, we'll see a surprise.  Zootopia doesn't feel as strong as many of the past frontrunners we've seen.

Hollywood Cinematography Award 
Linus Sandgren, La La Land

I have a feeling La La Land is going to RAKE IN the techs, but Silence has yet to be seen, and it has the potential to snag a could of these.

Hollywood Film Composer Award 
Mychael Danna, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk and Storks

I love Danna's work, but with the beath of Billy Lynn, this won't translate into an Oscar nom.

Hollywood Editor Award 
John Gilbert, Hacksaw Ridge

I wonder...

Hollywood Visual Effects Award 
Doctor Strange (Stephane Ceretti, Richard Bluff)

I have a feeling this will be our Superhero Movie nom this year.  It looks like a rip off of Inception in the trailers (yet not as revolutionary) and I still think that either Rogue One or The Jungle Book is winning, but the nom looks likely here.

Hollywood Sound Award 
The Jungle Book (Christopher Boyes, Frank Eulner)

Deserved.  Hopefully Oscar will agree (at least for the nom).

Hollywood Costume Design Award 
Albert Wolsky, Rules Don’t Apply

I don't know what to make of this movie.  It looks AWFUL, but as far as techs are concerned (and maybe Beatty) it could actually make a dash.  I mean, Oscar loves a period piece, especially in costumes and art direction and...acting.

Hollywood Make-Up & Hair Styling Award 
Hacksaw Ridge (Shane Thomas, Angela Conte, Bec Taylor, Noriko Waztanabe)

They LOVED this movie.  I don't think Oscar will, but this definitely put it in the race, at least a little bit.

Hollywood Production Design Award 
Wynn Thomas, Hidden Figures

Hmmm.  This film feels like such a non-starter so I'm not predicting it for anything, Oscar-wise, and this award feels odd considering that there are more prestigious films that could have taken this, but it is period and awards tend to love NASA related stuff as of late, especially in this category.  I still don't think this movie (and this award) is going anywhere.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

A Season Full of Awards: IDA (International Documentary Association) Awards

The documentary races are always the hardest to pin down so early in the season, but here we can at least get a slight handle on what is being embraced and snubbed.  This will, ultimately, mean very little because the tide will change and the televised awards mean a lot with these categories, but for now we can give this a little attention.

Best Feature Award
Fire at Sea
I Am Not Your Negro
O.J.: Made in America

The 13th is gaining traction as an undeniable frontrunner on buzz alone, and O.J., Weiner and I Am not Your Negro have already shown up with Gotham so you can pencil in another showing for them here.  

Best Short Award
The Above
Clinica De Migrantes : Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness
Red Lake
The White Helmets

If you think Documentary is hard to predict...Documentary Short is even harder!  I have no clue yet what to make of this category or these potential nominees.