I've returned for my usual rambling on the 2019 instalment of the usual barrage of awards ceremonies celebrating the very best in contemporary cinema, whilst also honouring the legends that truly make it unlike any other industry in the world.
In recent years, The Academy Awards in particular has bared the brunt of mundane millennial disgruntlement, such as lack of equal representation amongst the titles considered for Official Selection and then again Nominations, and rightly so! Social Media has been a strong driving force in shaping the way we perceive such (in)tolerances of The Academy and no such more than #OscarsSoWhite or the year the Damien Chazelle's La La Land were prematurely awards the Best Film prize only for it to be given to Barry Jenkins' Moonlight - an honest mistake of those announcing it worth documenting for year to come. Criticism has been so strong for the proposed new introduction of new category Best Popular Film that The Academy revoked it under a fortnight later. That award category's remit would have seen the biggest box office taker from each respective year be given the honour (and subsequent bragging rights, though the figures speak for themselves of course).
However, The Academy Award nominations are still a short while away - although for the purposes of this discussion, we'll discuss the Oscars Shortlist in these nine categories - and additionally offer some food for thought on who might possibly come on top; who are this year's dark horses and those who (unfortunately) might slip under the radar. Let's get right to it!
First and foremost - keep in mind that The 76th Golden Globe Awards will be on Sunday 6, January 2019 - and also that films that have done well here aren't always indicative of success at The Academy Awards - each case is it's own special case.
Please remember that although my use of language in this article may come across as blunt, there's absolutely a need for it - most major news publications and digital outlets covering Awards Season 2019 fail to mention the 'real' motivations for certain shortlisting procedure such as The Academy or award institution(s) being prompted to address certain issues with inequality or a need to appease minority communities, hence their need for including films which chart these various characteristics. Surely a nomination should be imposed on the merit of a filmmaker's execution of his/her/their vision and visual expression? Surely not - this is 2019. Also amidst what could be perceived as a seemingly pretentious taste of films (that's the inner film student and filmmaker in me speaking out), I like to counter that image by conveying my thoughts in a colloquial fashion.
The Best Motion Picture - Drama award is highly contentious as ever; even more so this year. Of the five nominations - three of them were directed by African American filmmakers for each of Black Panther, BlackKlansman and If Beale Street Could Talk - directed by Ryan Coogler, Spike Lee and Barry Jenkins respectively. There's argument in favour of these three equally being hotly contested - perhaps moreso with Black Panther with many considering it to be the biggest crowdpleaser - something that if The Academy weren't to honour the film with Best Motion Picture - Drama, would surely cause quite a stir in Hollywood?
Don't forget the other two nominations for Bohemian Rhapsody and A Star Is Born; the two largely arena-set and concert-driven spectacles vying for the main spotlight.
It was unfortunate for Bohemian Rhapsody that it was plagued with issues right from the start of production - creative differences between directors and cast causing firing and hiring of directors and a lack-lustre plot that didn't seem to live up to the definitive QUEEN / Freddie Mercury biopic it was made out to be. The film was troubled even further with bad critical reviews; with many stating the film had done a disservice to the band and hadn't even consulted those that still survive on some key facts. The film's highly over-bearing marketing strategy from FOX that resonated in a lengthy teaser trailer; seemed to wash away on cinema screens as it did with audiences. No one really cared. If there's one commendation to be made it would be in the utterly unsurpassable depiction of Mercury by Rami Malek (Mr. Robot), he'll surely be a hot contender for Best Performance by An Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama. Perhaps this is the award that will redeem Bohemian Rhapsody but could it be their only steal on the night?
A Star Is Born is most definitely the Dark Horse in this category; although it plays very much in tune to the beloved system of Hollywood and it's love of heterosexual on-screen couples; particularly when you've got huge names such as actor-turn-director Bradley Cooper and pop sensation Lady Gaga that helm the story; its downfall could be in its lack of diverse inclusivity amongst the cast and the less than subliminal reinforcement of Men being the make-all and break-all of a woman's career - especially in a recent media climate that has seen the Harvey Weinstein scandal break out, with stories of historical sexual harassment and assault in the industry coming out in their thousands. The film (which is a remake of a remake in case you didn't know already), sees Cooper's character (an abundantly successful country singer-songwriter) discover Gaga's character (a waitress turned dancer) in a bar; and elevates her to international success by supporting/encouraging her to achieve her dreams; much to the detriment of his own toxicant-laden habits and ultimately his own health, wellbeing and career, as she realises her own talent independently.
Best Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical is an intriguing category; why on earth did a film like Ridley Scott's sci-fi epic The Martian win when it did? There's an interesting array of films here. The Favourite to win is quite obvious from the title, but not without stark competition from films such as Crazy Rich Asians and Green Book.
Critics have been falling head over heels for Yorgos Lanthimos' latest evocative outing which sees him travel once again to England - though this time in a period setting. Set in the early 18th century, A frail Queen Anne (played by Lanthimos favourite Olivia Colman) occupies the throne and her close friend Lady Sarah governs the country in her stead while tending to Anne's ill health and mercurial temper. Lanthimos' visual and steadily maddening worlds have only been drawing in more audiences ever since his directorial debut Dogtooth and the film which solidified his place in the indie-mainstream: The Lobster.
The Favourite seems to be unbeatable in this category though not without competition from Crazy Rich Asians. Hailed as the first Hollywood studio film centered on an Asian-American's character's story in over 25 years - (The Joy Luck Club). The film features an all-asian cast and sees numerous 'in-culture' jokes and references to Asian Culture whilst at the same time having a story as relatable as it does so as not to deter a White audience. Of course; there's reasons to celebrate why Crazy Rich Asians should win this category from a purely filmic craft point of view, with the flashy party sequences and lavish settings which echo the feelings of Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby in part; However, I can't help but feel the film has an inherent weight of carrying the flag for more progressive changes in Hollywood - changes, which someday might include more diverse casts in films, including more positive and varied depictions of Asian actors. We've come a long way since the 1960s and 1970s where portrays of Asians were most bleak, though not far enough - we're in 2019. It's this reason that I think Crazy Rich Asians stands to have most of a shot at stealing the crown.
If the Golden Globes (or Academy) are feeling they need a good tickling on the 'Musical' side of things - then surely Mary Poppins Returns does the job? Of course, the film may not be as supercalifragilisticexpialidocious as the 1964 original however there are some special surprises in store for those who see the Mary Poppins Returns.
A difficult choice indeed when faced with the nominees for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama. There are three major contenders: Bradley Cooper for A Star Is Born, Willem Dafoe for At Eternity's Gate and Rami Malek for Bohemian Rhapsody.
Cooper's gritty but honest portrayal of a musician turned lover turned alcoholic had us all spellbound when even the film first graced the screens. His presence in most films tends to lend well to generating significant box office incomes, having starred in films such as American Hustle and American Sniper. He's also a favourite of 'the establishment' of Hollywood in many respects and he continues to break new ground on Stage & Screen. Cooper stands a good chance at taking home something on the night of The Golden Globes; either on his or his film's behalf. In addition to this award, the film is also nominated for Best Director and Best Motion Picture - Drama. However; the large amounts of awards and accolades he's received throughout his career thus far might open the doors for winning to the two other well-regarded nominees.
Willem Dafoe has had an interesting career; featuring (but not starring in) an intriguing array of indie-dramas, from the exquisite creations of Wes Anderson (The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Grand Budapest Hotel) to his 'character-actor' portrays in films such as Light Sleeper and The English Patient. Similarly to Cooper, he has never won a Golden Globe (and has only ever been an Academy Award Nominee), surely Dafoe's time is now - with his masterful portrayal of enigmatic painter Vincent Van Goth? An award for Dafoe is further supported by the film's director Julian Schnabel who won the Golden Globe for Best Director for his film 'The Diving Bell and the Butterfly', however he has not yet won an Academy Award, having only been nominated. This could both help and harm Dafoe's chances and considering this is nomination is the only commendation of the film on the night, could that be enough to edge out Willem Dafoe to glory?
Now we're in one of the most difficult categories to analyse: Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama. For this, I'll try to get through all of them as quickly as possible - because I could (easily) waffle on about how good they all are, albeit some more-so than others. Glenn Close's portrayal of a woman who starts to think about the shared compromises, secrets and betrayals of her husband with whom she has a private role in his life is nothing short of unwavering, it would be excellent to award her considering her lifelong dedication to acting and how much she has contributed to it. Perhaps it's more appropriate if she gets an award to the Cecil B. DeMille award? This year, by the way, it's going to 'the dude' Jeff Bridges.
Nicole Kidman offers us something new with Destroyer. Kidman stars as a detective for the Los Angeles Police Department who's consumed by guilt and anger after she recalls going under cover to infiltrate a gang in the California desert - with tragic results. Recent Kidman credits such as Lion and The Killing of a Sacred Deer have contributed to Kidman reinventing herself for modern audiences - she's much more selective when it comes to the films she signs up for, in addition to the filmmakers she works with, and by all means a nomination for her work here in Destroyer is an honour of her ability to channel her acting to more affected, bewildered and troubled character archetypes.
Melissa McCarthy being nominated for a Golden Globe in a film is a huge praise for an actress who is most well-known for playing the agony aunt or awkward middle-class American mother figure, however this isn't the second time she's been nominated. In 2015, she headlined the action-comedy film Spy - for which she was first nominated, directed by regular McCarthy collaborator Paul Feig. Can You Ever Forgive Me? marked a serious dramatic endeavour from McCarthy, which . featured in a number of film festivals around the world - most notably the London Film Festival, where it received rapturous applause amongst the closing credits. Could the Academy and Golden Globe Awards honour McCarthy for beginning to solidify herself as a real dramatist outside the mainstream plethora of Hollywood comedy films or will her automatic associations with the field prevent her from winning? I personally can't get her role in Bridemaids out of my head - and think it'll stick with me for a long, long time to come.
It's around this time of year when U.K cinemas release the films that featured in #LFF that year, that Rosamund Pike seems to re-propel herself back to the forefront of the popular imagination. In 2014, her performance in psychological thriller Gone Girl was met with widespread acclaim; culminating in nods at The Academy Awards, The Golden Globes and BAFTA. She received further acclaim in A United Kingdom (2016) which also starred David Oyelowo, and also for her role in the western Hostiles (2017). My personal feeling is that we haven't yet seen Pike in her best work; and that it's yet to come however A Private War takes us a step closer.
For me though, I have to say that the takeaway performance in this category was Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born. The incredible range of emotions she showed in that film has indeed solidified her chances of making a full career out of Screen Acting - she has the charisma, versatility and above all else, honesty in creating a character that was truly wholesome (as she was flawed) like her on-screen male counterpart Bradley Cooper; and, when you can do that - you know you've reached an important stepping stone.
My Selections from Top to Bottom - (1 - Who I Think Will Win, 2 - Who I'd Like To Win, 3 - The Dark Horse - in other words; who might be victorious instead of the obvious choice, if there is one).
Best Motion Picture - Drama
Unfortunately, that's all from me folkes! I'll be sure to keep an eye on the Nominations/Winners during the subsequent ceremonies happening this year and also look forward to my next Annual Review on Awards Season! If you're wondering why I haven't reviewed the Television nominees - that's because I don't! :-)
Unfortunately didn't have the time to write my nominations for Best Screenplay or Best Original Song though I've hedged my bets!
It goes without question that this year has been the most tumultuous for Hollywood in recent memory. The year that sexual allegations against Harvey Weinstein sparked not just a wave of change in Hollywood that has been due for over a century but a wave of other celebrities, actors and filmmakers being accused too as well as collective outspokenness in regards to it. Having watched almost every nominee, bar the nominees for TV categories, I’d say i’m once again in a good position to be able to judge this year’s contenders.
The Golden Globes always likes to throw in a few surprises; and this year will be no exception - as per usual, I will offer up my own spin on this year’s awards, taking into account what has been said from a variety of credible sources.
Just to mention before launching into these nominees; it’s worth noting I haven’t seen the following films (in their respective categories); All The Money In The World (Michelle Williams, Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama), Phantom Thread (Daniel Day-Lewis, Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama), The Leisure Seeker (Helen Mirren, Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy).
Best Motion Picture - Drama Nominees
Nominees: Call Me By Your Name, Dunkirk, The Post, The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
Like all major awards ceremonies in the States; The Golden Globes has a profound admiration for it’s own motion pictures it produces.
First and foremost; noticing Dunkirk in the mix - it seems like the obvious choice. It’s a film with a series of powerhouse performances from some of the UK’s bravest new talent - notably Harry Styles, does the name ring a bell? It most certainly does since he was one of One Direction which has since disbanded. Let’s not make popular culture the centre of this discussion but when it emerged he would make a greater-than-cameo performance in Christopher Nolan’s latest opus, it was no doubt the centre of discussion amongst the derived teenage fanbase Styles and Co. are notorious for - and box office sales and figures showed for that, reaching out to a younger audience moreso than any of his previous films (bar Inception).
It seems as if I’ve already discredited Dunkirk for what it’s worth without addressing the question of it’s strength as a candidate for Best Motion Picture - Drama. If I’m honest, I think the hype of Dunkirk died a while back (perhaps thanks to its exhaustive marketing campaign here and across the pond) and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has largely been focussing on more recent releases and hotly anticipated ones including The Shape of Water which for some reason has warranted one of the final release dates of it’s release calendar on IMDb in the UK. We’re dying to see that!
Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape of Water was the darling of The London Film Festival when it graced Odeon Leicester Square back in October, where Sally Hawkins was tipped to be a strong contender for Best Actress come the 90th installment of The Academy Awards this March. Could the buzz generated from LFF inspire HFPA’s decision-making across the pond?
Indiewire and Vulture.com don’t even offer the slightest of similarities in regards to a consensus; and these websites often highly credible for giving a strong prediction as to what might come out on top. Indiewire predicts The Shape of Water will win whereas Vulture.com predicts Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri will win. On the contrary, if that doesn’t happen Steven Spielberg’s political drama The Post with HFPA favourites Hanks and Streep is tipped as Choice No. 2 with Call Me By Your Name being Vulture’s Choice No. 2.
If I’m honest I wasn’t the biggest fan of Call Me By Your Name; for numerous reasons. For me, there wasn’t anything beyond the precocious fabric of the story; interwoven with an unrealistic relationship that was neither tender or bittersweet. In fact it was none of those things. Call Me Crazy but Call Me By Your Name felt like Hollywood’s attempt at making a film about a tender homosexual relationship that was accessible enough for it to had a strong box office success whilst ignoring the struggle, the sexual frustration, the carnal instinctiveness and the whirlpool of emotions that relationships, no matter their orientation, take us on. Perhaps this is quite a scathing opinion of what has been proclaimed to be a universally-loved film but in actuality the film is entirely superficial and doesn’t offer anything groundbreaking which in my opinion is a discreditable offering to LGBT cinema. The very notion of this being something so marvelled about without it being accepted on a normal but critical level both wows and frustrates me. If you’re looking for a genuinely good film - try God’s Own Country - an underrated film with such a bleak and tender quietness, which truly addresses this hidden beauty we call - love.
My choice for the win would be Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri - an sharp, witty and socially aware crime drama, with Frances McDormand’s poignant humour prevailing throughout, about a woman who, After months have passed without a culprit in her daughter's murder case, makes a bold move, painting three signs leading into her town with a controversial message directed at the town’s revered chief of police. However; considering what will probably win - I’ll have to go with The Post for the pure reason of America loving all things and people American; and the three pillars of film that film carries will be quite the jury-pleaser; Spielberg (as Director), Hanks and Streep all in one.
Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
Nominees: The Disaster Artist, Get Out, The Greatest Showman, I, Tonya, Lady Bird
Interestingly you could argue the flurry of Hollywood has and hasn’t purveyed in this year’s nominees for Musical or Comedy - glad we haven’t got a film which categorically isn’t either of these things which has been absurdly included much like in 2016 with The Martian. Though you could say Get Out is neither of these things. Ask Jordan Peele what he considers Get Out to be, a documentary - he calls it. There’s a fair interesting selection here of anti-Hollywood films (but not really when considering the means of production and distributors… i.e The Disaster Artist). 2018 is without a doubt the year of independent cinema; specifically the American Indie.
MAJOR SPOILER ALERT lurking in the next few sentences.
The Disaster Artist; a parody of a parody directed by James Franco, starring him and his brother - tells the making of Tommy Wiseau’s infamous The Room, the film that kickstarted and (un)arguably coined the ‘so-bad-it’s-good’ phrase and spawned a new generation of midnight movie fans. As a filmmaker, I was hiding in my seat when I discovered they’d shoot in both 35mm and HD, without even being aware of the costs, the risks… one does not simply ask for everything (and ask to buy at an equipment hire house). It was still very funny; brilliant execution I found myself seeing TDA a total of 3 times.
Get Out, Jordan Peele’s Hitchcockian-style thriller is a masterful invention of visual storytelling however he himself has been snubbed from a Best Director nomination which is unforeseen. Go and see Get Out is all I can offer!
I wasn’t the biggest fan of The Greatest Showman; having spent most of the film’s 2hr 19 minutes running time horrific flashbacks of Hugh Jackman in Les Miserables as 90216045728.. Whatever his name was. Jackman simply needs to stop making musicals. It’s had an 8/10 on IMDb and 53% on Rotten Tomatoes - for the record, not that either of those should be any true indication as to what it might actually be like.
I, Tonya is one of those unforgettable films that remarks the volatility an individual had behind and in front of closed doors. It follows the life and career of American figure skater Tonya Harding with a particular focus on her connection to her rival and Olympic teammate Nancy Kerrigan in 1994 - however don’t get me started on the fourth-wall breaking that purveys, one of my absolute pet hates but I, Tonya can be forgive as it’s authentic handling of the mockumentary sub-genre is a staplemark in the film’s dramatic delivery. It’s worth noting the film received positive praise from critics, particularly for Margot Robbie’s character as well as Allison Janney - the film has been nominated for two other awards including Best Actress - Comedy or Musical (Robbie) and Best Supporting Actress (Janney).
However, if you listen to the experts - you will no doubt know that this year’s Golden Globes (and of course inevitable Oscars race) is between Get Out and Lady Bird. I think Lady Bird may have secured it; but if you think of the strong direction Get Out has; that could also topple the former, indie darling’s chances.
We’ll see what happens here as it could get interesting, with a number of sway-able and bankable films up for the running.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama
Nominees: Timothee Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name), Daniel Day-Lewis (Phantom Thread), Tom Hanks (The Post), Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour), Denzel Washington (Roman J. Israel, Esq).
Gary Oldman has been widely tipped to be the Oscar Frontrunner for his powerhouse performance in Darkest Hour, the transformative role into Winston Churchill - fully embodying what he must have been like, his mannerisms and of course the iconic hunchbacked look. I was exceptionally lucky to see a preview in Soho towards the end of December where I can honestly say his performance is something to behold. Oldman is long overdue an award, more favour to him winning, as this is his very first Golden Globe nomination also.
The Academy has been a fan in recent years of these so-called transformative roles; with the likes of Eddie Redmayne winning Best Actor in 2015 for his performance as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. So it seems more than hopeful that Gary Oldman doesn’t have much competition in his way.
Considering for a moment the other nominees; I’m not hopeful of the prospect that Timothee Chalamet could win but he may possibly get a nod for Rising Star come the EE BAFTAs - on second thought as the star of Call Me By Your Name, he could win on the merit he’s also upcoming in the industry - and there’s usually always one or two winners at the Golden Globes that either fit the category of ‘young and upcoming’ or ‘diverse’ or if two boxes can be ticked at the same time then both! His performance, besides the sheer oozing of pretension and privilege of his character, was flat and uninspiring. Maybe that’s when I was shuffling for my popcorn with disinterest.
Daniel Day-Lewis will be the dark horse of this category. A bit of an industry hermit, Day-Lewis has remarked that his performance in Phantom Thread, which marks the second collaboration with Director Paul Thomas Anderson with There Will Be Blood in 2007, will be his last… though he sort of indicated that also with Lincoln (2012), so I’m sure he will grace the screens again in between 5-10 years time. Press sources and general social media consensus suggests the UK are excited for the film’s release. On my last visit to Picturehouse Central, just days ago and also one of my mecca’s of film for a blissful arthouse injection, I noticed that tickets are currently on sale for Phantom Thread in glorious 70mm - the director’s preferred shooting format. Small Nerd-out over. Next category!
Indiewire predicts that Gary Oldman will win, whilst industry-wooer Timothee Chalamet might win. Vanity Fair, has also suggested that Oldman but also gives credit to Timothee Chalamet in their latest predictions article.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama
Nominees: Jessica Chastain (Molly’s Game), Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water), Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Meryl Streep (The Post), Michelle Williams (All The Money In The World).
My predictions were correct when I saw the majority of these films at The London Film Festival, most media outlets agree that six-time Golden Globe Nominee Frances McDormand should bag the award and I couldn’t agree more, the only real competition here would be Sally Hawkins who gives a career-best performance in The Shape of Water. This is equally a worry for McDormand who I admire very much, her collaborations with The Coen Brothers are perhaps some of the most remarkable of her career. However, Sally Hawkins winning would be. She has done numerous independent features over in the UK and rarely graces the really ‘big screen’, I think it’s high time she’s recognised for her contribution to modern cinema.
With the exception of Michelle Williams in All The Money In The World, which I haven’t seen yet, I agree that the nominees are all of a calibre that should be considered for the award - sometimes these categories often have a newcomer or a low-caliber performance that doesn’t quite match up to the rest - as is the case with Best Actor however here it has been considered.
Jessica Chastain’s performance in Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut Molly’s Game was bold, moving and showed her complexities. Though this might not be her career-best performance, I feel as if we’ve got more to see from Chastain, possibly in one of her next roles in the next couple of years we will see her solidify her reputation as a Hollywood great. Inadvertently, she has become a matriarch for speaking out against Hollywood, in regards to pay inequality and actor’s rights, joining the likes of Patricia Arquette and famously Meryl Streep in the ongoing battle for a Hollywood to inspire the world. I admire admire her sensibility contribution to both the political and dramatic side of cinema; both in front and behind the camera.
Meryl Streep, being the darling of Hollywood that she is (and rightly so!) deserves every award she can get. Considered by many critics to be the greatest living actress, she has been nominated a staggering 26 times, while winning 8 - making her the Queen of the Golden Globes.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
Nominees: Steve Carrell (Battle of the Sexes), Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver), James Franco (The Disaster Artist), Hugh Jackman (The Greatest Showman), Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out).
I think we can’t overestimate the lack of seriousness this year’s nominees bring the category.
Although Battle of the Sexes has more than a handful of comedic undertones from both its stars Emma Stone and Steve Carell - it is hardly something I’d call either a Musical or Comedy (let’s assume the HFPA haven’t turned a complete blind eye and considered this for Best Musical). Battle of the Sexes is in essence, a drama. Both trapped under the media spotlight and fighting strong personal battles in their own lives, the story tells of the culmination in the lead up towards, and the aftermath, of (what was then) the most watched tennis game of all time - in 1973.
Besides, I think Steve is quite comfortable in his career so it’s high time we give someone else a chance - maybe Ansel Elgort, James Franco or Daniel Kaluuya?
Ansel Elgort plays the title character in Edgar’s Wright’s latest octane-fuelled feel-good action comedy; Baby Driver. It’s without question the film was a smash hit with the box office and audiences alike - it’s a great film. As to whether or not it’s appropriate he wins this award over the likes of Kaluuya I’m not entirely sure - it’d be good to see Ansel in something a bit more dramatic - perhaps James Cox’s new film Billionaire Boys Club which is currently in post-production. That looks pretty good. This new film also has Kevin Spacey in it - will they scrub him out in a the space of just a few weeks before it’s release, perhaps not. Regardless of the controversy, Elgort remains a solid acting contender for years to come but perhaps not for now. His candid demeanour and little character change don’t offer up too many hopes for Elgort.
James Franco’ mesmerising performance as the self-proclaimed parody of Tommy Wiseau, Writer/Director/Star of 2003’s The Room, who in this film plays Writer/Director/Star too deserves the win. His portrayal of Wiseau was entirely believable (albeit unbelievable too), finding his friend Greg with which they make this incredible(y awful) film, defies the bounds of Hollywood and defines friendship. Wiseau is someone whose personality, charisma and enthusiasm for film and ‘real acting’ is larger-than-life. The charm that this brings when Greg comes into his life as his friend is something quite remarkable and understated - a layer of the film which is hidden beyond it’s ridiculous premise.
Most media outlets who’ve both been following the Golden Globes Predictions run-up and are credible sources have suggested James Franco will take the crown for Best Actor in this category for his performance in The Disaster Artist with a potential steal from Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out).
Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy Nominees
Nominees: Judi Dench (Victoria & Abdul), Helen Mirren (The Leisure Seeker), Margot Robbie (I, Tonya), Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird), Emma Stone (Battle of the Sexes).
This year the competition’s tough in this category. The HFPA prefers older stars and are fonder of the ones they’ve known for a number of years like Dench, who has 12 total nominations. There are three sets of caliber set here that might rock the boat come the Ceremony.
There’s the older and very established actors such as Dench and Mirren, who HFPA might award them not just on the merit of the performance, then there’s the new-not-so-new acting talent who’ve been around for a few years but have mostly come to celebrity status post-2000 such as Margot Robbie, who rose to fame by co-starring in Martin Scorsese’s biographical black comedy The Wolf of Wall Street with Leonardo DiCaprio and a whole host of others. Robbie was also known for her portrayal as DC Comics Villain Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad, which spawned a legion of Harley Quinn lookalikes come the night of Halloween 2016.
Emma Stone is an interesting choice for this award; she comes fresh off the bat of awards glory for Damien Chazelle’s La La Land with which she will most likely be remembered for the rest of her life for, so I don’t think it’s high time for her to win an award again although her performance in Battle of the Sexes was spellbinding - it’d be good to give someone else a turn, Saoirse Ronan springs to mind - we’ll get on to her next. Stone’s remarkable career so far also includes Zombieland for which she garnered significant media attention - enough for Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu to consider her for Oscar winning film Birdman.
Last but by no means least; Saoirse Ronan. Almost all media outlets (including AFP, The Evening Standard, Indiewire, Vulture.com, Vanity Fair, E!) tip Saoirse to win this category, however Emma Stone could be the dark horse - however, sadly she has been largely overlooked by the press up til now.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Nominees: Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project), Armie Hammer (Call Me By Your Name), Richard Jenkins (The Shape of Water), Christopher Plummer (All the Money in the World), Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri).
This is an interesting category, not least with Willem Dafoe being considered a Supporting Actor for his performance in The Florida Project; compared with the more appropriate Lead Actor nod considering his presence in the film and overall stature though I guess you could argue either way. Regardless, this needs to be Dafoe’s year. A veteran actor whose career spans from the likes of Oliver Stone’s Platoon (1986) to Born on the Fourth of July (1989) and from The English Patient (1996) to The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), Willem Dafoe has conquered roles in the some of the very best films of modern times so it would only be fitting for him to win for his heart-wrenching performance in Sean Baker’s fourth outing as Director in this Sundance hit.
By now you will have established my feelings regarding Call Me By Your Name, of course I so badly wanted to like the film but just didn’t feel it was anything groundbreaking like it should have been - I think one of my core issues with it was the Casting. Why on earth would you cast someone like Armie Hammer (considering the roles he’s most known for) in a Sony Pictures Classics movie such as this one - I mean it doesn’t make any sense.
Richard Jenkins’ character is intriguing, a closeted gay artist in 1962 who helps his mute neighbour; played by the wondrous Sally Hawkins. His character was very three-dimensional and had an incredible arc but more simply put his character was simply a man who was dealing with his own life and his desires. Considering The Shape of Water has the most nominations at the Golden Globes (7), this could definitely be a dark horse to win.
The next nominee, Christopher Plummer, was a bit of a close call and would mark somewhat of a minor political victory for Hollywood. His inclusion in the nominees list no less is interesting. Originally Kevin Spacey was set to star and had filmed most of his scenes when the accusations against him broke out. Ridley Scott and executives found an almost immediate alternative, Plummer, with the prospect to reshoot scenes with Spacey in a matter of weeks - still sticking to the release date. His performance was credible, but not enough to secure the award.
Sam Rockwell’s incredible character arc as a despicable bigot for whom we nonetheless feel sympathy is something remarkable and something which might just make prevent Willem Dafoe’s chances at keeping pole position secured.
For me, Willem Dafoe tops the group and is the clear deserved winner in my opinion. I feel as if the HFPA might make a fool out of themselves on the night and vote for Armie Hammer however.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Nominees: Mary J. Blige (Mudbound), Hong Chau (Downsizing), Allison Janney (I, Tonya), Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird), Octavia Spencer (The Shape of Water).
Let’s mix it up a bit and start with Allison Janney. She’s a long-time favourite of the Golden Globes especially in TV (this is her sixth Globe nomination and she’s never won). Now I haven’t exactly seen I, Tonya but I can confirm that her performance is something to behold so we’re very excited to see what it’ll bring come awards night; Janney is long due her Golden Globe and considering the other contenders - it’s high chance she’ll be able to obtain it.
Nominees: Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water), Martin McDonagh (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk), Steven Spielberg (The Post), Ridley Scott (All The Money In The World).
It has not gone unnoticed this category is exclusively male. I would have thought in 2018 the HFPA would have gotten that right but sadly that’s not the case this year - we can always be hopeful for next year and alas - at least the nominees are worth the while.
Importantly; all these films deliver strong social messages about the world we live in. The Shape of Water goes great lengths to subliminally examine love between different people. Del Toro uses the differing species as his fantastical stamp in capturing this otherworldly romance, offering up ideas of acceptance no matter who or what you may be.
On the other hand, Martin McDonagh paints a stark portrait of not settling for contentment. It is precisely the motivation for Frances McDormand’s character to paint the three controversial billboards aimed at the chief of police. She is at the very centre, and the brink at the same time, of a corrupt justice system set in smalltown America.
Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk wowed me when it graced the screens last summer. The epic which captures various moments on land, sea and sky across three time periods; a week, a day and an hour in the first world war, stars Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh and Mark Rylance among a grand troop of rising stars. It is in fact a concise re-creation of the British military’s desperate stand against advancing Nazis at Dunkirk, the use of 70mm really captures the epic scale of all of these moments in time - but you really must see the film on as big of a screen as possible (slightly veering away from the purpose of this analysis but oh well, who doesn’t love an endorsement of the grandest format in cinema.) We’re expecting big things in the technical categories for the Academy Awards that’s for sure!
You would assume Steven Spielberg would be a safe bet; being the man who has helmed once again - two powerhouse performances from some of the most important actors living today. However, considering the competition from Nolan and especially del Toro I think it’s a safe bet that we’ll be expecting more some other day from Spielberg! Same story for Ridley Scott.
Best Director has always been a tough category to choose; there are three things I believe people look out for most when considering the nominees and then the award winner - Hollywood’s considerations would be all the more superficial of course. Those three things are, especially when the HFPA choose their winner, someone who has created a visual masterpiece (a known Hollywood auteur or international auteur who has since made their debut stint at the American Box Office). In this case, the former applies to both del Toro and Nolan. The second reason is a story and dramatic piece of filmmaking that is exemplary, even if it isn’t as visually ‘present’ or powerful as ones that are purely just for the purpose of artfulness (Spielberg, McDonagh and Scott). The third reason is the social and political reasons behind the means of each production and the implications it creates/has created for audiences - for instance Three Billboards, The Post and All the Money in the World are all attacking three different but inter-relatable, and very topical, industries - justice, journalism and economy.
I choose Nolan for Best Director for tonight’s awards.
***Warning: This Review Contains Spoilers***
Summer 1993 is a beautiful Spanish film charting the emotional journey of a six year old girl in the aftermath of her mother’s death; set against the backdrop of rural 90s Catalonia.
There are a number of feelings and nuances explored by way of examining the human condition through the eyes of Frida; our six year old protagonist. The child gaze, is masterfully handled in a way that doesn’t dip into the usual tropes of sympathy and sentimentality - considering what she has been through. Cinematically; the film is almost entirely shot from her eye level - the camera follows her as she wanders through the house, and her every move without seemingly ever being acknowledged or voyeuristic. This unobtrusive and documentary-style approach reminds me of the French Film ‘Etre et Avoir’ which took the festival circuit by storm when it premiered back in 2002. There are not many films that depict childhood so honestly as Summer 1993. It is worth noting, Spain has produced some of cinema’s most resonant child characters including Spanish Actress Ana Torrent in The Spirit of the Beehive (El espiritu de la colemena).
Frida is rushed off during the night and sent away from her Barcelona home, when she arrives she is unsettled, and silent. Disturbed and confused; Frida declines the family’s warm-doings to her - in the form of milk and biscuits, and rejects playing with the family’s child - Anna, who is younger than Frida. The household is strict and seemingly uncaring; with the father, who is Frida’s uncle, showing a slight leniency to her.
When Frida unpacks her backpack of teddy bears and soft toys; Anna reaches out to grab one only for Frida to refuse to let Anna touch them. This, and a number of other exchanges between Anna and Frida, reveals to us Frida has a maternal quality to the way she commands herself and her interactions with the house. She refuses to be told what to do by her new mother and father whilst bossing around Anna to do various chores for her, and almost giving ‘life lessons’ to her as a growing woman in the world when they’re playing outside during the long summery days. What comes of this is a slow, underlying acquaintanceship between the two girls that doesn’t really develop into a friendship but a means for Frida to motivate her own understanding of dealing with her grief. Although loosely realised; and perhaps as an overtly examined opinion of her character - it could be said Frida’s mother lives within her.
She feels emotionally disturbed because of the grief, and adding to that, being displaced - in a world that is completely alien to her and isolated from the hustle and bustle of Barcelona. We don’t see too much of her life in Barcelona in the beginning of the film; because the events unfold so quickly we already begin with Frida’s departure. These feelings are very raw and vivid; and by using a situation of grief - Carla Simon lets us access the imagination and mind of a young child experiencing pain and confusion. She feels all these emotions yet is unable to comprehend the cause of her mother’s death innately due to her age - when she asks her Aunt-In-Law about how she died, later on during the film, she explains to Frida in a way she can understand stating that it was a virus that couldn’t be cured.
One of a handful of poignant scenes in the film is in garden where Frida is sunbathing on a lounger, outgrown for her size. In this scene; she puts lipstick on her cheeks to blush them, an endearing portrait of what have might have been her mother or someone she aspires to be - an iconic shot in the film is of her rosy-cheeks; with the buildup of pieces of lipstick on her cheek as she scrapes it on. Anna interrupts this process only for Frida to scold her, saying: “Be a good girl and let me rest”. Reminded me of Lolita.
When the family take Frida to a local dirt playground to play with the local children; she grounds herself watching on as the children play football in the distance. Trying to integrate she finds the children not wanting to play with her; tagging her ‘it’ and fleeing from her when she tries to catch them. She trips over and scrapes her knee; with one of the kids coming over to her to ask what the matter was. The mother of the child runs over to scold him and tells him not to touch her - and what follows is a subtle realisation of internal defeat and sadness in her eyes that will captivate audiences, it certainly captivated mine.
Frida’s innocent-nature combined with a conscious dare-devil arrogance happen on two further occasions; when she is asked by her aunt-in-law to retrieve a Lettuce from the Garden she runs to the allotment and picks up a Cabbage instead - windmilling herself back and calling out from out the back of the house assurance she will pick up the right one. Frida’s Grandma and Grandpa arrive by surprise to stay for a while which causes a minor frictious household as they too reel from the death of their daughter’s death. Atypically from a contemporary Spanish of this type; there isn’t a sense of an overburdening favouritism towards religion or depiction of faith as a central theme - nor is the way the film is executed structurally anything original, there is a slight nod to Christianity when her dying mother asks her to pray each night by reciting The Lord’s Prayer. One night, Frida steals away to the bottom of the garden where she comes across a statuette of the Virgin Mary; where she places a packet of cigarettes and sends them off to her mother in her thoughts.
Within the second half of the film; there is a stronger underlying sense of self-rejection where she causes unintended harm to Anna on two occasions. On the first; Frida is reluctant to take Anna with her into the woods to explore and begrudgingly makes her hold hands before walking into the woods. Frida tells Anna to stay by some trees while she ventures further into ‘uncharted territory’, almost as if making the coast clear and highlighting a child’s imagination when it comes to their interpretation of the scale of the world and what’s out there, even if only a few hundred metres from the villa’s back garden. The mother and father in worry call out for “Anna”, repeatedly only to hear no call - Frida rushes back to try and find where she told her to remain safe but she is not there. Frida finds Anna with a hurt arm and procedes to come back to the house together - with Frida getting severely told off. Frida blames Anna for venturing off further ensuring that she remained safe in her company throughout.
On the second occasion; Frida is swimming in the local public lake; Anna watches her, smiling. Frida convinces Anna to come in for a swim - Anna climbs into the lake; standing on a shallow bed of rocks, walking forward she is unsure if the water is deeper. Frida is confident that she can swim so convinces Anna to make the steps forward to come closer to her, she falls into the deep part of the lake and is clearly drowning. Frida’s sudden look of anxiety develops extremely quickly as soon as she saw her flailing. The Dad realises and jumps in to save her - seeing that she’s drowning.
In one of the last exchanges between Anna and Frida while Frida is packing her back in the middle of the night ready to leave; she tiptoes into the kitchen where they find each other. Anna asks why Frida is leaving; only to hear the most endearing response - “Because no one loves me here”, with Anna responding “I love you”. Frida then proceeds into the night calling out “Mummy” (in Spanish) and we follow her through with a handheld shot one of her face with a torch on it, in an partly-existential lapse of time where Frida is in complete despair.
Laia Artigas’ performance is extraordinary as Frida - the kind of perfectly matched personality with a character that formed Natalie Portman in one of her career’s most defining roles in Leon: The Professional. Frida’s character is explored in great detail; with great maturity and as said before; with a great sense of realism without pandering to the sentimentality. The mother has a similar charm to Victoria’s Laia Costa. It is more than apparent; that the film is an exploration of the director’s own parental loss - having lost her mother at the age of 6 - which can be deduced alone from the director’s birth to the time the film is set in. Simon offers us a portrait and self-reflection which allows us into the sensitive life of the filmmaker through a fictional lens.
About the Filmmaker
The film was written and directed by Carlo Simon, born in a small Catalan village in 1986. She chose film to portray the complexity of the human condition and family relationships in particular. She graduated in Audiovisual Communication in Barcelona after an exchange year at the University of California. After an MA TV Fiction course; she enrolled at the London Film School where she directed Born Positive and Lipstick which screened at numerous international film festivals.
About Summer 1993 at LFF
The film Summer 1993 is part of the First Feature Competition at this year’s BFI London Film Festival; which I am honoured to be working on as a member of the Young Jury, working with a panel of young experts ranging from young film theorists and researchers to the practitioners of tomorrow. I’ll also be sharing with you my thoughts on Beast, a British thriller with a heady insanity of sexual obsession set amidst a primed witch-hunt in bleak Jersey and Winter Brothers, a savagely beautiful rendering of the hermetic world of brothers and limestone quarry workers in Iceland - later on this week.
General Public Tickets for Summer 1993 can be purchased on Thursday 14th September 2017 and will be available to watch at the following dates & times:
Tuesday 10th October 2017
Thursday 12th October 2017
Sunday 15th October 2017
The Cast & Crew of Party Animal, currently touring in film festivals across the nation, are extremely humbled by this review by The Independent Critic. You can read the full review here.
Finley (Michael Oku) and Rachel (Laura Brailsford) head home to Rachel's family for the holidays in Party Animal, a just over eight-minute short film getting ready for the indie fest circuit with a slew of screenings already lined up for the independent co-production created by students at Westminster Film School in London, UK.
You could be forgiven if, ever so briefly, you found yourself wondering if you'd stumbled into Get Out, the Jordan Peele-directed film that has been all the rage this year but a film that is decidedly not comical. This film is, in fact, a comical one featuring a sly, charming performance by Oku, whose bewilderment at the scenario that surrounds him and the predicament that he eventually finds himself in is brought to life with a quiet hilarity more revealed in his body language than in Olivia Parkinson's understated dialogue.
As a fan of British humor, which tends to be more understated and character-driven than a lot of American cinematic humor, I found myself tremendously appreciate of the approach taken by co-directors Parkinson and Alexander Nijhoff, an approach that mined the off-kilter relational qualities for Finley when dropped into this strange new world where even the littlest thing that should go right doesn't.
At a mere eight minutes in length, Party Animal moves quickly and tells a story you might not be expecting. What at first appears to be yet another dysfunctional family holiday film becomes an entirely different beast altogether.
Cezar Tatarau's lensing is inventive and fun in the way that Tatarau captures events practically frozen in time and makes it feel like Finley is living in a fish bowl as his first meeting with the in-laws goes from awkward to disastrous to downright funny.
For more information on Party Animal and to follow its festival journey, visit the film's official Facebook page linked to in the credits to the left of this review. If you're in the UK, where multiple screenings are already set, you'll definitely want to check it out.
Written by Richard Propes.
In 2011 Beyoncé Knowles proclaimed in a mightily catchy hook that girls run the world, a far cry of course from James Brown's 1966 declaration that "This is a man’s world”. Whatever the truth of the matter, fast forward to 2017 and everyone seems to be a little bit lost. The topic of gender seems to continually be at the forefront of our cultural narrative, with the ever-shifting paradigm of what it truly means to be a man or a woman or indeed neither, in the modern era.
So it was that under the Lyric Hammersmith’s Open Mic banner and for one night only, Melina Namdar and Jessica Manu offered a fascinating glimpse into bringing these complex issues to the surface. Featuring a series of short, modern scenarios facing both men and women, the evening ranged from such first-world tribulations as swiping through Tinder, to the harder hitting and more volatile issues of abortion and rape. There was much here to fuel provocative thought and debate.
Overall, the show was a mixed bag. Some moments were harrowingly true and effective, hitting the right notes in terms of both gravitas and comedic astuteness. Elsewhere however, aspects seemed slightly contrived though this may well derive from the piece’s structure, compressing enormous issues into tantalisingly brief performance windows. X&Y clearly has a powerful message but it needs to expand its characters’ story lines and give more context to their plight as individuals.
What was undeniable however was the young performing talent that gives the play its authenticity and energy. Michael Ajih’s honest portrayal of a young man who suffers a traumatic event and is subsequently confronted by a therapist to talk about his experience, has an incredible impact. The hesitation and build up as he overcame his reluctance to talk, was both moving and credible.
Another stand out performance was Thea Mayeux as a woman confronted with a manipulative and ultimately bad apple of a partner, whose true colours are revealed when she informs him that she’s pregnant. Mayeux’s ability to convey emotional distress with a simple yet effective glazed look in her eyes as she realised her dire situation was immense. A captivating performance that left a considerable impression.
Melina Namdar and Jessica Manu have put together a stellar group of young actors and created a piece of theatre that asks questions and explores issues, rarely depicted on stage. If X&Y is any indicator to go by, look out for their future productions.
Reviewed by Josh Kemp on http://www.jonathanbaz.com/2017/07/x-y-review.html
A personal journey, meeting someone who'd change my life forever, and falling in love with my craft, again.
The Lost Films were somewhat of a revelation to me. I think the idea started quite spontaneously as a matter of fact upon my new-found French friend Caitlin's inaugural visit to London. I had met her and her family during a visit with the family we were staying with and both their families are connected by my godfather in terms of relations - the way in which Caitlin and I met was such a random occasion. I wasn't going to kid myself, I was nervous to meet her, being slowly nudged to introduce myself in such a casual manner considering we were swimming in a lake in the south of France half way between our villa and their family home.
We met, and I told her all about myself, what it is I do - yadder yadder... all the details and I could see the increasing grin on her face and her eyes lit up with such enthusiasm and interest I was keen to talk even more and when she responded with the things she was doing I was in such awe and excitement. She was clearly very bright, and also very creative and was telling me about a short film she had created recently entitled 24 Hours In Paris. I was keen to this piece so upon going back to the villa we were staying at, where her and her family followed us in their car, she showed it to me on my laptop and I was blown away at the creativity that had just unfolded before me. I loved the combination of imagery with sound and how she has captured Paris from a totally different perspective. The film could have been rather touristy and quite bland in the feelings and substance it carries but it was anything but that. I was screaming internally that we ought to do a collaboration together and that it'd be amazing because of how passionate we both are about the same thing but then I'm sure I must have muttered something like a little word or part of a sentence because she glanced at me peculiarly for a second or two. Maybe I let my thoughts take a hold of my vocal cords. The creative vibes were strong.
Do you know when you meet someone and you have that brief 'lightning flash' moment of euphoria that you deep down know full well you're going to be friends with them for life? I had that. And I hadn't experienced that since the first week of my new college - where me and my best friend found each other. So I was alarmed, in a good way of course, that this was someone who I should definitely watch out for and see prosper as time goes by.
So, I should probably cut to the chase and I'm sure the above could have been summarised in fewer words. As you can probably tell I'm writing this in a passionate moment of nostalgia late one Sunday night. I've just released the second half of the Lost series earlier on in the day, Lost in Vidauban, but before we get to that, let's continue the story in chronological order.
It was August 2015 and it was apparent Caitlin was flying on her own to come to London, I had been communicating with her mum and discussing plans and things, as her original intention was to stay just out of London with her Aunt who'd look after her. But of course, she hasn't been to London in years in recent memory I remember her telling me so I was determined to make her trip to London the best experience it possibly could have so she stayed with me and my mum in London so she was able to do lots of cool outings with me and see her London friends she had arranged to meet, without having to travel in so far by train each day, arriving into Waterloo, half of her pocket money would have easily been depleted knowing how awfully expensive national rail fares can be.
At this point may I just remind you that there was no plan to make a film out of this whole adventure, this only came about on the very last day of her stay in London when we were browsing through all the photos and videos we had. Although I did text her before she flew saying that we should film our meeting up from a two-camera perspective from each protagonist - in a way like in Sofia Coppola's 2003 film Lost in Translation (a big inspiration, most certainly for the title to say the least). That comes across in the edit if you've seen the finished version of Lost In London most definitely.
So that's what we did, she was due to come in early in the morning on a Saturday I think it was (or possibly a weekday I can't remember precisely) but it was definitely a UK school holidays of some sort, hence why it was perfectly timed with her being able to stay over for a good amount of time, I picked her up around 8am from Waterloo Station, her train had pulled in and I was running to meet her, very keen - sunglasses on since it was at the height of summer, I wanted to look cool but then I realised if she doesn't see my whole face she wouldn't recognise me. But then again my height gives me away, I had filmed the meetup on continuous record from when I was walking across the river right till we met, none of it was scripted nor planned. Even when I filmed the opening scene where we met and hugged, it all happened in that very moment without any hesitation or realisation a camera was even there. I don't think i could have ever pictured it differently - it was a perfect moment.
I'll let the film do most of the talking in terms of what we got up to, but I'll talk a bit about the things which surrounded the film - the things that you won't know from watching the film of course. Production Context, if you will. In terms of how I felt at the time, i was definitely at a point in time where I was lost - emotionally. My last ex at the time had cheated on me and dumped me only recently, well towards the end of the academic year so May but that affected me right throughout summer. I don't often admit my insecurities but i was quite affected by it. The holiday in France, which actually led to this inevitable production happening - otherwise if we hadn't had met which if you ask Caitlin we so easily couldn't have - was definitely a major distraction for me and I forgot about the past albeit for brief pockets of time.
There was something about Caitlin I couldn't (and still can't) quite put my finger on, I think the emotions kicked in when the film was complete and she had flown back to England. We are friends, relatives too actually but there was something purely platonic and fulfilling about being in her company and having fun around town together. It's like the way we feel about watching Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson in Lost In Translation, especially towards the end - yet again I reference the film you must excuse me. She definitely made me feel special, we still talk lots, she's a big part of my life and I hope that she sees that, she has the brightest of futures ahead and comes from a lovely family.
We had spent a whole day looking through the all the 'dailies' of film rushes we've accumulated from our three devices, her iPhone, my iPhone and her SLR camera, of which on all three devices - so much footage was accumulated. It totted up to a ridiculous amount of gigabytes. So i knew we'd have some fun looking through what we got. We chatted and laughed in my room / editing station, and checked out the content, including photographs too. Caitlin is an aspiring photographer & filmmaker and generally quite the creative virtuoso at more than just a couple things - just recently she sent me a new music track she worked on and I was quite impressed.
It made sense to me for me to have her on screen penned as Director because although it was our film together, I had only kickstarted something that without her - none of this would have been possible and it was her guidance actually that meant we could make something quite magical. I'd be keen to ask if she remembers but she actually had many great ideas for the inevitable sequences that you, the audience, would then go on to see in the finished film - based on the footage we had of course. As the actual construction of the film didn't begin until we finished getting all the footage and then realised we had a film on our hands - not the other way around as it normally is.
She told me in a conversation a while ago, preceding all of this, that her favourite film of all time was Palo Alto by Gia Coppola. I hadn't even heard of it which was surprising because I'm quite adept with the independent film scene. She showed me the film and we sat in the living room late, after a nice meal out to Five Guys. Best burger joint in the culinary world, I'm telling you that. You can even see a small extract of the film where the film's star, Emma Roberts, is out next to the soccer field having a cheeky cigarette by the fence with the film's score playing. I also used this for our film too - Scoreception?. Having a couple additional tracks for pivotal part of the film where music worked well with the imagery from the likes of Caitlin's favourite band - The 1975 and a duo I had admired for some time, Daft Punk.
There were various edits made of Lost In London with both of us contributing segments to the film but then scrapping them because they weren't quite right or something was missing or just from a frustrating day at college or work coincidentally the mindset wasn't quite there. I finished an edit that i sent to Caitlin and she loved it, I loved it too but was nervous to send it - because well, it was integral she loved it and it reminded her of how she felt being here and I guess made her sad too. I was reminded again that she wasn't here, and I became a little sad too. Remember, none of the film was scripted nor planned, apart from our day's outings of course. So everything you see is entirely genuine. And that's why I feel so connected to this piece - it's one of my most personal pieces that I've worked on.
The film's ending is especially sad, it was quite stressful - I don't know how well that comes across, but I certainly found it stressful. The slow-motion sequences were handled particularly well I felt, if anything these were the only planned parts, not in terms of inevitable content but in terms of a willingness to wanting to shoot using a high frame rate. Caitlin looks to camera for one of the final times and frowns, maybe slightly exaggeratively but in a youthful way because she doesn't want to go. This was our final goodbye, in the place that we met on home soil. London Waterloo Station, a place that many people come and go, all day everyday. Many encounters happen, and the slow motion sequence there especially with the overlay dissolve of two overlapping images of people just goes to show the amount of people and the whirlwind of hustle and bustle one can be caught in - it's so easy to lose people and forget where you are, as you might easily become disorientated. I think both of us left the station, one on train outbound, the other bound on foot, feeling stronger, more determined people but reminiscent of each other's missing presence, if you catch my drift. Even somewhat loosely.
Jump to May 2016, for ages now as a thank you for looking after Caitlin, her mum has been nagging me to go to the South of France to stay with them. Now, I kept assuring her that It was my absolute pleasure. She was so lovely and insisting on me coming and I know I couldn't say no. But I did because I was too polite, even though I was the right level of politeness I think in that situation? I didn't want to impose on their family space, as tempting as the offer sounded and of course being in the same sunshine as Cannes, I was conflicted. Caitlin & her family earlier in March, I think it was, had flown to London to stay on a family holiday which was nice and I managed to see all of them, albeit in separate instances because of their plans. Caitlin went to see The 1975 play at Brixton's O2 Academy which must have been good. Can you imagine being 15 and seeing your favourite band of all time up front close and personal with fans who love the same thing as you do? I bet it was awesome. So jumping back to April I gave Caitlin's mum my next free holidays and flights were literally booked there and then - the quickest I've ever had flights sorted out for me, and I was super excited. Not only that, I was going right in the thick of the Cannes Film Festival and was so excited to go!
I think I had maybe overthought filming of the next instalment, well I intended to make a film just as good as Lost In London and it's working title was already set to be Lost In Vidauban at the time, though that was a thing that was at times heavily discussed when wandering and meandering through the melting point that was Cannes with Caitlin during our celebrity scouting on the Croisette. I definitely concentrated on having more of a holiday and adventure than filming, I just wanted a simple getaway. To be with family and friends, in a hot country and new location - in other words, I don't think I gave the filming much attention so I ended up saying to myself most nights there that I needed to somehow accumulate more footage but ended up being distracted by whatever it is I was doing. Definitely a sense of underwhelming that I had hyped up a conjuring up of Lost In London when in reality it was going to end up completely different which it did. Among the release yesterday as a matter of fact of Lost In Vidauban, the same people who had watched Lost In London thought completely differently of this new instalment, with one calling it an 'melancholic but revitalising art piece'.
In all honesty, I loved both pieces, but I there were a few things I didn't like about Lost in Vidauban that caused me to become quite peeved about but I was determined not to scrap it, but to finish it and perhaps that why internally just by myself it was more of a struggle to squeeze the best from the limited footage there was available that was usable, a huge contrast from the overwhelming excess of footage accumulated during Caitlin's trip over here to London. So perhaps I don't feel the same way audiences do about Lost In Vidauban the entire way just because of the editing process. But my love for it is slowly growing back as I'm starting to see things which excite me more, when I re-watch it upon showing it to different groups of friends & family for the first times.
Lost In Vidauban was perhaps indeed a more melancholic art piece than an inadvertently emotional adventurous sprawl that it's London counterpart proved. Definitely it was part of my ritualistic welcome on the night I arrived, since in this film it starts at Night as that's when I arrived, that I was greeted with Caitlin's Palo Alto vinyl, yes the real deal - with the song 'Champagne Coast' playing by indie band, Blood Orange. I definitely think Caitlin is a connoisseur of indie bands and her music taste is cultured. Between September - October of the previous year we were half of a radio show collective called The Wake Up Crew where the Blood Orange track played would be the show's intro theme for. This was unintentional but it reminded me of that when it was played so thought I'd just slot that in there since that's a part of our developing friendship adventure. The radio show formed of myself, Caitlin and two others ran for 30 episodes and was predominantly recorded banter of us aired out live of a skype conversation about our daily musings and jokes.
I wanted to give this film particularly the film look so I added some significant in-edit camera grain on the regular shots, and even shot specific sequences of the film on Digital 8mm (with a special industry-grade film app) that helps to replicate the celluloid look without ever having to buy stock. Like in Lost In London, we were travelling quite a lot, constantly moving. Definitely much more in this film, it seems like a greater distance was travelled - most certainly, a lot of time was spent on the trains between the local station (I say Local but its actually a major station on the network which I was surprised at a little), and Cannes and Nice Ville stations. In one part, I chose to record using the selfie cam of us on the train, because I wanted to replicate what we did on the tube with our resting bitch faces. Caitlin remembered that because she actually says "...like in the tube". Palm Dreams, a collection of imagery from Lost in Vidauban edited against the backdrop of Arcade Fire's original score for Her, is the prologue for the main feature - also doubling as a reference point with an intent to bridge the gap between the two main Lost films. I think perhaps the short video piece, managed to get a bit lost too, but it all adds to the beauty.
I sometimes think, if we hadn't had met that summers day last year, none of this would happened, and I couldn't imagine what my life would turn out to be - because of this one person.
In my latest post, it's been more than a week since The Golden Globes ceremony took place and also over a week since Oscar Nominations were publicly announced. Now with only a couple of notable ceremonies to go till the big one - it's safe to say I've got this one in the bag on who will come out on top.
By this time last year we had been able to safely call the shots on who bagged what award, and this year, like the rest of them in recent times, is no exception. "Spotlight" currently seems like the frontrunner however don't let this cloud your judgement of the ever-increasing awards & industry momentum towards "The Revenant" and "The Big Short".
We are witnessing the same events as last year; Spotlight seems to be taking the same route as Boyhood, and Birdman has evolved into The Revenant - so it really is a case of Spotlight vs The Revenant, with an additional third contender to the ring - The Big Short. Like Richard Linklater's 12-year drama epic, Spotlight too has become a critically beloved indie that also happens to be relatively small scale in terms of production but broad in narrative scope.
Leading the Director Race is 70-year old Veteran George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road), whose nomination marks his first ever in the history of The Academy. Shockingly, Ridley Scott (The Martian) was left off this left - which has been one of the major blows to just about every single person's predictions on this major event on the annual film calendar. Lenny Abrahamson's nomination for Room has increased in volatility to make this category an intriguing race.
In terms of Best Actor, say no more - LEO for the trophy. LEO for the Trophy.
In terms of Best Actress, much of the early news surrounded Rooney Mara and Alicia Vikander's placement in which category (Best Actress or Best Supporting Actress), the pair were both nominated for supporting actress at the SAGs and Critics Choice however both as leads at The Golden Globes - so understandably there has been some major Oscar analysis and discussion over this. The Best Actress race seems like a head-to-hate battle with two resonating performances from Brie Larson (Room) and Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn), both of whom are rising stars in the film industry. Cate Blanchett (Carol) and Charlotte Rampling (45 Years) still have room to make an impact however the buzz surrounding them has died down as of recently.
Last year, you would have been damn crazy to find anyone in their right mind not not predicting that Patricia Arquette, JK Simmons and Julianne Moore would win by Christmas time. It's true that "Spotlight" has evolved into a fully-fledged frontrunner to take this year's prized award for Best Picture and that Leonardo DiCaprio might as well ready himself for accepting an award for Best Actor in his performance in Alejandro Gonzalez Iñnaritu's "The Revenant". As I expected, no film seems a certainty for a best picture nomination - let alone winning, whereas last year the race was pretty much Boyhood v Birdman - the latter of which, when it won, upset many seasoned filmgoers as the former of which was, at least in my opinion, the clear winner. As it's Awards Season and the year's biggest night in Film draws to closer - I thought i'd give you my updated verdict since early last month where I did an analysis on the build-up to the Academy Awards on my blog. My verdict on the Technical Noms hasn't changed much so I'll only be discussing new verdict updates of mine concerning Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress.
Best Picture - Spotlight is getting all the Spotlights.. but will this work against it's favour?
In a very crowded race, the only sure nomination is "Spotlight", a true story about The Boston Globe's investigation into allegations against John Geoghan, an unfrocked priest accused of molesting more than 80 boys. Just to note, for those that don't know how the new Oscar voting system works, this will be the fourth year of the Preferential Voting system - where between five and ten films get in based on the amount of films that receive a certain percentage of high rankings on voter's ballots. Sounds confusing? It sure is! And some of the politics behind into how and who votes what is somewhat questionable, granted. The last minute surge of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" could be greater than currently anticipated which could mean firm Oscar favourites for this and some of the other categories, "The Martian" and "Mad Max" could suffer as a result, especially for Directing, VFX and Editing. But the chances of Star Wars winning Best Picture is very slim, at least we hope for now it is. Studios Disney and 20th Century Fox should do well to at least get one picture nominated, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" or "Bridge of Spies" for Disney and "The Martian" and "The Revenant" for 20th Century Fox. Although my predictions for nominations in all categories is ever changing, at this stage Spotlight is a sure thing, so are "The Big Short" and A24's "Room" and very possibly "Mad Max: Fury Road", "The Martian" and "Carol".
Best Director - A Sticky Situation
The Oscars, as we know, love to be able to tick boxes - and we sure hope they do this year; ticking boxes by awarding those who have been nominated so much and have never won before or whose continuing efforts have seem to have gone unnoticed - or pleasing certain groups of society - a politically motivated tactic at times to please the public and continually uphold the reputation of The Academy Awards and it's juries.
I say this because of one main thing, if "Mad Max" or "The Martian" somehow miss out on a best picture nomination, it seems pretty safe to say that their directors - George Miller and Ridley Scott - will definitely get in anyway. That's a perfect example of ticking boxes, Even if it's a slight nod or nomination towards.. Both are extremely well-respected veteran directors with no Oscars to their name, and for Miller - he's never even received a nomination. The two of them will most likely be joined by Spotlight Director Tom McCarthy however the other two slots are much bigger questions - I hope that the Golden Globe nomination results, and the awards ceremony just around the corner on Sunday January 10th, translate into Oscar nominating success for Todd Haynes "Carol" and last year's winner Alejandro González Iñárritu "The Revenant".
Best Actor - Leo for The Win, But Take With A Pinch of Salt
Now, Ladies & Gentleman, you can all start to get very excited - but take your excitement with a pinch of salt still. One of two major frontrunners this year is Best Actor, safe to say is Leonardo DiCaprio - for his performance in "The Revenant". Because there's so much excitement surrounding this possibility, the acting race is also proving rather boring. Michael Fassbender will be called for "Steve Jobs" most likely, Matt Damon for "The Martian" and Johnny Depp for "Black Mass". In terms of nominees, it will be shaky who comes out 4th or 5th however let's not forget the long shots; Jake Gyllenhaal in "Southpaw", Tom Hardy in "Legend", Abraham Attah in "Beasts of No Nation" and Michael B. Jordan in "Creed".
Best Actress - Where will Oscar voters place Rooney Mara (Carol) and Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl) on their ballots?
It's a difficult one to predict, because of the nature of the characters in their films - whatever decision is made, no doubt it will impact all top 6 Award categories to varying degrees - especially that of Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. The trouble here is that the pair were both nominated for Supporting Actress at the SAGs and Critics Choice, however both were nominated for Supporting Actress at the Golden Globes. I think Rooney Mara will end up in the Best Actress category for "Carol", sadly at the expense of her co-star Cate Blanchett, but she's both Oscar-winning and humble anyway so it shouldn't be a problem at all - secretly she might probably be even rooting for her to win, as a co-collaborator, friend, and advocate for female talent. One of them will be nominated, and one of them will probably win. Mara for Best Actress and Blanchett nominated in either or winning for Best Supporting Actress, as they may consider the fact that Mara has more screen time than Blanchett - which is true.
The same situation is also true with Alicia Vikander in "The Danish Girl", no doubt she'll get nominated but as to which category - the star of the plot is Eddie Redmayne, he is The Danish Girl, but in the film Vikander is alive much more so than Redmayne ever could be - it is her who is the unsung hero and main character of the film. In this category (and/or Best Supporting Actress) for sure Mara, Vikander and Blanchett's names will all be there, as for other nominations in this category - we can be expecting Brie Larson for "Room", Saoirse Ronan for "Brooklyn" and possibly either Jennifer Lawrence for "Joy", Charlotte Rampling for "45 Years" or Charlize Theron for "Mad Max: Fury Road".
Award Ceremonies & Key Events around the corner:
Golden Globe Awards - Sunday 10th January
Academy Award nominations - Thursday 14th January
SAG Awards - Saturday 30th January
BAFTA Awards - Sunday 14th February
88th Annual Academy Awards - Sunday 28th February (still a while off to go, most likely another blog post or two before then to give you updates, based on the results from the Golden Globe Awards, Academy Award noms, SAG/BAFTA Awards and final views prior to the big one).
LOST IN LONDON was originally intended as a mash-up of Caitlin's adventure in London with Louis. Both are filmmakers who live in different countries, Caitlin aspires to be a filmmaker and takes inspiration from Louis among many people. The two of them, unknowingly document their adventures, that when it got to the editing stage, became a real nice combination of imagery, sound and narrative. Louis is inspired by Caitlin's youthful ways and though only slightly older feels inspired and motivated to influence the younger Caitlin. They had a larger-than-life project that was unforseen... however it is no doubt their story.
Caitlin Leach is an aspiring British director from Southern France with influences such as Sofia & Gia Coppola prevalent throughout her work. She started out filmmaking recently and is known for her '36 Hours In Paris' which is a short documentary looking at Paris through a different perspective.
This article is from Filmmaker Magazine
Carol is getting raves not just for Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett’s subtle performances, but also for Ed Lachman’s cinematography, which was inspired by mid-century street photographers such as Ruth Orkin, Esther Bubley, Helen Levitt and Vivian Maier.In a first-person story for Indiewire, the veteran cinematographer, who has worked with Werner Herzog, Sofia Coppola, Todd Solondz, Robert Altman and Steven Soderbergh, writes about why he and director Todd Haynes chose to shoot the film in 16mm in order to achieve the look of 1952. “We wanted to reference the photographic representation of a different era,” Lachman said. “They can recreate grain digitally now, but it’s pixel-fixated. It doesn’t have this anthropomorphic quality in which the grain structure in each frame is changing.”
According to Lachman, “the actual physical grain of film adds another expressive layer that is impacting the surface of the characters’ emotional being. It has to do with how film captures movement and exposure in the frame — finer grain for highlights and larger grain for lower light areas — that gives a certain emotionality to the image that feels more human.”
He added, “I really believe with Carol that people would feel something different than if I had shot it digitally.”
Lachman earned an Academy Award-nomination for Far from Heaven, his first collaboration with Haynes, back in 2002. Since then, they’ve worked together on I’m Not There, Mildred Pierceand of course, Carol. All four films were shot on film.
The cinematographer, who was recently honored by the New York Film Critics Circle and the Boston Society of Film Critics for his work on Carol, talked further to Variety about his decision to shoot in 16mm rather than, say, 35mm.
“Even 35mm negative is so grainless that it almost looks digital when you go through a DI. And the same can be said obviously for the digital world,” explained Lachman. “When you shoot digitally they can add grain to the film, but it doesn’t operate the same way.”
According to Lachman, grain has an anthropomorphic quality. “I like to feel, like, a pulsing of something living underneath the surface of the image,” he said. “So by referencing Super 16 I felt it could harken back or it could give a reference to the way you could look at a photograph from 50 or 60 years ago, that the grain structure was different back then. And Super 16, through a DI, through a digital intermediate, would feel like looking at a photograph from the past. So that was the real idea. Then this feeling of another layer of seeing their emotions through grain captured, I thought, another emotional quality of their performance.”
Earlier this year at The New York Film Festival, Lachman chatted with NYFF Selection Committee member Amy Taubin about his love of film grain and why 16mm worked so well for the romantic drama. He also discusses why he used modern stock to create a period look and why he sometimes shot through glass or Plexiglass. “I limited the color palette of the film. We shot with a lot of magenta and greens and yellows. I was trying to shift the color spectrum of the film,” he explained.
Below you can watch his interview with Taubin courtesy of the Film Society of Lincoln Center.
See Carol in cinemas now!