Monday, December 26, 2011

Awards Tracker - Best Actress

Surprisingly, Tilda Swinton is the biggest nominee so far, with six nominations, and two wins, which should cement her Oscar chances for the challenging We Need to Talk About Kevin. She's followed closely by Michelle Williams in more traditional Oscar-fodder as Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn.

Not the de facto front runner one might expect, Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady is tied with Viola Davis in The Help and Elizabeth Olsen in Martha Marcy May Marlene with four nominations. Glenn Close took long to join the race with Albert Nobbs, but hit the important three with nominations from the Golden Satellites, Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild. She is tied with Charlize Theron in Young Adult, although Theron missed out on the somewhat important Screen Actors Guild nomination.

Indie darlings Felicity Jones in Like Crazy, Kirsten Dunst in Melancholia & Olivia Colman in Tyrannosaur round out the multiple nominees, with Jones winning both her bids. Rooney Mara picks up only a single Golden Globe nomination for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but her film was released late, so it could be the start of more to come.

The critics have Michelle Williams far in the lead with eleven nominations and seven wins, followed closely by Meryl Streep with ten nominations, but only three wins. They also threw their weight behind Viola Davis, with eight nominations, as well as Elizabeth Olsen & Tilda Swinton, with seven each.

Kirsten Dunst's three and Charlize Theron's two nominations edge out Glenn Close, who shares her single nomination status with Saoirse Ronan for Hanna, Felicity Jones for Like Crazy, Brit Marling for Another Earth, Anna Paquin for Margaret & Adepero Oduye for Pariah

Rooney Mara & Yun Jung-Hee in Poetry lead the single nominees by winning their respective Critics nominations, leaving Glen Close in their wake, at least from the Critics' perspective.

So Williams and Streep are locks, Davis is guaranteed a deserved, career & political nomination and Swinton seems positioned to take the home stretch safely, which leaves just one spot for Theron, Close, Mara & Olsen to vie for. It doesn't feel like anyone else - including Dunst & Colman - has enough traction to knock them out of the race.

Awards Tracker - Best Actor

Year end awards are out and it's easy to lose track. I have been a nerd and tracked all the nominees and winners to date on a tidy spreadsheet, for your cinematic data pleasure. Yellow is a win, grey is a nomination, orange is a runner-up win & pinkish is an honourable mention or "special" award like "breakthrough performer."

The biggest nominees so far are Jean Dujardin in The Artist & George Clooney in The Descendants, with six nominations each, followed by Michael Fassbender - getting plenty of mainstream acceptance for Shame, Ryan Gosling in Drive, Brad Pitt in Moneyball & Leonardo DiCaprio in J Edgar, with four each and, surprisingly, Demian Bichir in A Better Life, with three.

Technically that would make them the Oscar frontrunners, but somehow Gosling, DiCaprio and Bichir don't feel quite like locks yet. Definitely not Gosling.

Michael Shannon in Take Shelter, Woody Harrelson in Rampart & Brendan Gleeson in The Guard show up with two nods each and Gary Oldman, some more Ryan Gosling, Owen Wilson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Peter Mullan, Tom Hardy, Jacob Wysocki, Mikael Persbrandt, Michel Piccoli & Andre Wilms round it out with one nomination per head.  

The critics sing a slightly different tune, with Fassbender by far in the lead at eleven critics nominations, three wins and two runner up wins, a strategy that probably got him onto Golden Globe and Critics Choice ballots but, unfortunately, not the Screen Actors Guild, which still makes his Oscar nomination a maybe. They back Clooney too, with ten nods, followed by Michael Shannon, Brad Pitt and Jean Dujardin showing up nine times each. They tried to push some love for Gary Oldman in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, but not enough and it didn't take.  

Only a mild showing for Woody Harrelson, Paul Giamatti in Win Win, Ralph Fiennes in Coriolanus, Gosling in Drive and Brendan Gleeson.

Ultimately, there are still some awards to roll in, and the Academy can always pull in their own surprises, but for now, Jean Dujardin, George Clooney and Brad Pitt are locks, Fassbender is on a winning trajectory and probably either DiCaprio, Bichir or Shannon will fill in the fifth place.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas - feast your eyes on Prometheus, The Dark Knight Rises & The Hobbit

 Merry Christmas, everyone! The internet's gift to us today is a series of intriguing trailers & previews (well, most have been out for a few days, but today is as good a day as any to share them).

First up is a teaser trailer for Ridley Scott's highly anticipated Alien prequel, Prometheus, telling us how that body ended up in that contraption in that original alien egg ship. Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Patrick Wilson, Guy Pearce & Charlize Theron are a team of space explorers investigating a mysterious clue  to the origin of mankind. What they find, of course, will not end happily.

Feast your eyes:

Next up is the brand new trailer for The Dark Knight Rises. Enough said:

And lastly, our first proper taste of Peter Jackson's return to the shire for The Hobbit.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Natural Selection - Clip

A devout Christian housewife leaves her comfort zone to track down her recently deceased husband's eldest sperm-bank son. He's a hick with a mullet, but she is determined to make him her family. Independent Spirit Nominee for Best Feature & Best Actress. Looks awesome. I want to see it, please.

The Desperate Women of the Best Actress Race

Leading ladies are not going easy on Hollywood this year. There are no quirky love interests and supportive wives in the Best Actress race. Instead, there is an interesting mix of complicated (and less complicated) characters, and a recurring theme of women forging their identities from under oppression.

Exhibit A - Rooney Mara in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo:
Golden Globe nominee - Best Actress (Drama)
By now, Lisbeth Salandar is an iconic literary heroine, already brilliantly captured on screen by Noomi Rapace, but now that David Fincher and classical beauty Rooney Mara have brought their rousing vision to the story, a new audience will be confronted with Lisbeth's devil-may-care approach to life, tough-as-nails survival instincts and grizzly revenge tactics. The book was originally titled "Men who hate women" and birthed in response to author Stieg Larsson's failure to intervene when he bore witness to a violent rape. His books  play off against a fairly extensive backdrop of bleak abuse and incest handed out by men who see women as their play things. Lisbeth is the larger than life outcast - and survivor - who calls the shots and plays by her own rules as a hacker, in relationships, in criminal investigations and - eventually - in her own trial. SPOILER ALERT: A key scene sees Lisbeth take gruesome revenge on a rapist, and Larson asks us to justify why he doesn't deserve every second of it. But this is no Kill Bill style revenge porn. It's a painful, harrowingly grim tale of turning the tables on generations and institutions of abuse. A bold statement for feminism and a far cry from the Spice Girls brand of girl power.

Exhibit B - Glenn Close in Albert Nobbs:
Golden Globe, Golden Satellite & Screen Actors Guild nominee - Best Actress (Drama)
Playing another desperate - though far more quietly so - woman trying to call her own shots, Glenn Close went to great lengths to adapt Albert Nobbs, produce it and co-write the Globe nominated song, "Lay your head down."  All of which is to say that Close cared deeply about telling Nobbs' story - although many critics didn't approve of the overall final product. At it's core, Albert Nobbs is a dark, tragic tale of a woman living her life as a man just to have the privilege of working class employment. She mostly succeeds, but only by sacrificing her femininity to adopt a new identity.

Exhibit C - Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady:
Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild & Critics Choice nominee & New York Film Critics winner - Best Actress (Drama)
As Margaret Thatcher, first female prime minister, Meryl Streep has another juicy role to sink her teeth into. Like two of her recent Oscar-nominated roles (The Devil Wears Prada, Doubt), The Iron Lady deals with the limited career opportunities offered to women, and the cost of those who exceed them. As with any elected official, Streep's Thatcher must keep her personal life at home to assume her national duties but, more so than her male counterparts, she also has to leave behind all vulnerabilities and tender edges to become the titular - and much maligned - Iron Lady and command the respect of her male-dominated profession.

 Exhibit D - Michelle Williams in My Week with Marilyn:
Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, Critics Choice & Independent Spirit Award nominee - Best Actress (Comedy/Musical)
As Marilyn Monroe, Michelle Williams plays an icon of femininity, but as Norma Jean, Williams is smart enough to know that the "Marilyn" persona was as much a grand performance as any of the characters the redhead farm girl played on screen. On one level, Sasha Stone points out that "Marilyn" was Norma Jean's ultimate method performance - one that would convince and beguile Hollywood, the press and generations of admirers to come. On another level, she was a woman giving a demanding, male-dominated world (and the eternal "male gaze") exactly what it wanted - pure seduction and willing naivety - at the expense of her true identity. At least Elton John noticed.

Exhibit E - Tilda Swinton in We Need to Talk About Kevin
Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild & Critics Choice nominee & National Board of Review winner - Best Actress (Drama)
In We Need to Talk About Kevin, Tilda Swinton puts a dark twist on traditional motherhood as a woman who whose initial doubts about motherhood are painfully confirmed when she finds it impossible to relate to, or feel tender towards, her difficult child - much to her husband's disapproval. Her worst fears are horribly confirmed when (SEMI-SPOILER ALERT) he grows up to be a high school mass murderer. Blame turns firstly to her - her parenting, or lack thereof, must after all have caused him to turn out the way he did - and she is cast out for her sons crimes. Nevertheless her maternal instincts do not allow her to give up on him - even in prison. A brave and uncompromising film & performance.

Exhibit F - Viola Davis in The Help
Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild & Critics Choice nominee - Best Actress (Drama)
Aibileen overcomes a different kind of oppression in The Help. Regarded as little more than a household appliance, and not hygienic enough to use the indoor toilet, Aibileen retains her dignity by instilling it in the children left in her care. SPOILER ALERT: She pays the price for exposing the truth, while her young white accomplice gets a job writing for the New Yorker - a much criticised plot point that may be sadly true to the film's period.

Exhibit G - Elizabeth Olsen in Martha Marcy May Marlene
Independent Spirit & Critics Choice nominee - Best Actress
A sensational debut from the younger Olsen sister, but also an enigmatic portrait of a young woman trying to reclaim her shattered identity after escaping from a manipulative cult.

Exhibit H - Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids
Golden Globe nominee - Best Actress (Comedy)
Kirsten Wiig is a woman on the edge, taking it very, very badly. She cracks jokes women are not supposed to know about, makes terrible  decisions at every turn and carries it all without grace. But she wins you over with her honesty and earns her happy ending - albeit by being rescued by a sweet irishman (although it helps that he is effectively the quirky love interest).

Finally, Exhibit I - Charlize Theron in Young Adult
Golden Globe and Critics Choice nominee - Best Actress (Comedy)
Charlize Theron announces her presence with a relative cinematic rarity - the female anti-hero. For a change, Charlize gets to act her heart out and stay sexy, but she does it playing the bitchy girl you hated in high school - and she hasn't changed. Shallow, callous, selfish and spiteful and none of it played with her tongue in her cheek. Theron embraces the comedy, but mines deep into a juvenile woman-child (the female answer to the Judd Apatow commitment phobic man-child) in all her awful glory.

As for the Best Actor race? Bunch of pretty boys.

Another Earth - Trailer

Sundance winner & Gothan Award nominee for Breakthrough Director - Another Earth:

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Dictator - Trailer

Errr... I dunno. Looks a bit too broad for me. Borat was half the smartest and half the most juvenile comedy of 2006. Sacha Baron Cohen's latest seems to favour the latter under the guise of the former. But see for yourself:

Golden Globe Nominees!

The Globes are probably the 2nd most watched awards show after the Oscars, despite having only a few hundred voters to the Oscars' sixes of thousands. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has garnered a solid reputation, most likely because they throw a big party, invite all the stars and get Ricky Gervais to insult them - just look at all the pretty boys up for Best Actor in a Drama. Well done also to Rooney Mara - whom I still think has better odds than Elizabeth Olsen & Felicity Jones in the Oscar race - and Glenn Close, who has secured a solid comeback. Kudos also to Owen Wilson for being the first man ever to be nominated for playing Woody Allen - other than Woody Allen.

Best Motion Picture - Drama
The Descendants
The Help
Ides of March
War Horse

Best Performance by an Actress - Drama
Glenn Close - Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis - The Help
Rooney Mara - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep - The Iron Lady
Tilda Swinton - We Need to Talk About Kevin

Best Performance by an Actor - Drama
George Clooney - The Descendants
Leonardo DiCaprio - J Edgar
Michael Fassbender - Shame
Ryan Gosling - The Ides of March
Brad Pitt - Moneyball

Best Motion Picture - Comedy / Musical
The Artist
Midnight in Paris
My Week with Marilyn

Best Performance by an Actress - Comedy / Musical
Jodie Foster - Carnage
Charlize Theron - Young Adult
Kristen Wiig - Bridesmaids
Michelle Williams - My Week with Marilyn
Kate Winslet - Carnage

Best Performance by an Actor - Comedy / Musical
Jean Dujardin - The Artist
Brendon Gleeson - The Guard
Joseph Gordon-Levitt - 50/50
Ryan Gosling - Crazy, Stupid, Love
Owen Wilson - Midnight in Paris

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Bérénice Bejo - The Artist
Jessica Chastain - The Help
Janet McTeer - Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer - The Help
Shailene Woodley - The Descendants

Best Performance by an Actor in a Support Role
Kenneth Branagh - My Week With Marilyn
Albert Brooks - Drive
Jonah Hill - Moneyball
Viggo Mortensen - A Dangerous Method
Christopher Plummer - Beginners

Best Director
Woody Allen - Midnight in Paris
George Clooney - The Ides of March
Michel Hazanavicius - The Artist
Alexander Payne - The Descendants
Martin Scorsese - Hugo

Best Foreign Language Film
The Flowers of War (China)
In the Land of Blood and Honey (USA)
The Kid with a Bike (Belgium)
A Separation (Iran)
The Skin I Live In (Spain)

Best Animated Feature Film
The Adventures of Tin Tin
Arthur Christmas
Cars 2
Puss in Boots

More! After the Cut:

Screen Actors Guild Nominees

Too many awards for safe navigation! Have no fear - my Awards Tracker tables will be landing soon - giving you all the awards information you need in a tidy spreadsheet package!

For now - the Screen Actors Guild Award Nominees!

The biggest news to note here is:
-  Demian Bichir gets a nomination over Michael Fassbender, Michael Shannon, Woody Harrelson & Gary Oldman! Impressive!
- Albert Brooks gets snubbed for his raved gangster role in Drive
- Glenn Close makes a comeback (double whammy as she also lands a TV nomination for ressurected Damages)
- Tilda Swinton is a solid lock now
- Jessica Chastain's supporting actress campaign has wisely settled on The Help and she will safely make it to Oscar night.

SAG Awards are voted for by members of the Screen Actors Guild, therefore it is a peer recognition nomination. Actors also make up the largest portion of Academy Award voters, with a substantial number of  members overlapping.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Demian Bichir as Carlos Galindo in A Better Life
George Clooney as Matt King in The Descendants
Leonardo DiCaprio as J Edgar Hoover in J Edgar
Jean Dujardin as George in The Artist
Brad Pitt as Billy Beane in Moneyball

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Glenn Close as Albert Nobbs in Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis as Aibileen Clark in The Help
Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady
Tilda Swinton as Eva in We Need to Talk About Kevin
Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Kenneth Branagh as Sir Laurence Olivier in My Week with Marilyn
Armie Hammer as Clyde Tolson in J Edgar
Jonah Hill as Peter Brand in Moneyball
Nick Nolte as Paddy Conlon in Warrior
Christopher Plummer as Hal in Beginners

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
Bérénice Bejo as Peppy in The Artist
Jessica Chastain as Celia Foote in The Help
Melissa McCarthy as Megan in Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer as Hubert Page in Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer as Minny Jackson in The Help

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
The Artist
The Descendants
The Help
Midnight in Paris

Critics Choice Nominees

The Artist
The Descendants
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
The Help
Midnight in Paris
The Tree of Life
War Horse

George Clooney – “The Descendants”
Leonardo DiCaprio – “J. Edgar”
Jean Dujardin – “The Artist”
Michael Fassbender – “Shame”
Ryan Gosling – “Drive”
Brad Pitt – “Moneyball”
Viola Davis – “The Help”
Elizabeth Olsen – “Martha Marcy May Marlene”
Meryl Streep – “The Iron Lady”
Tilda Swinton – “We Need to Talk About Kevin”
Charlize Theron – “Young Adult”
Michelle Williams – “My Week With Marilyn”

Kenneth Branagh – “My Week With Marilyn”
Albert Brooks – “Drive”
Nick Nolte – “Warrior”
Patton Oswalt – “Young Adult”
Christopher Plummer – “Beginners”
Andrew Serkis – “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”

Berenice Bejo – “The Artist”
Jessica Chastain – “The Help”
Melissa McCarthy – “Bridesmaids”
Carey Mulligan – “Shame”
Octavia Spencer – “The Help”
Shailene Woodley – “The Descendants”


The Artist

The Descendants
The Help
The Ides of March

Best Director (& much more) - After the Cut:

Sunday, December 11, 2011

European Film Awards - Winners

Clearly feeling gloomier than the Americans this year, the European Film Academy choose Melancholia over The Artist as the Best European Film of 2011. In a reverse-Cannes move, they also select Tilda Swinton over Kirsten Dunst for Best Actress.

Best European Film

Best European Director
Susan Bier - Haeven (In a Better World)

Best European Actress
Tilda Swinton - We Need to Talk About Kevin

Best European Actor
Colin Firth - The King's Speech

Best European Screenwriter
Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne - Le Gamin au Velo (The Kid with a Bike)

Best European Cinematographer
Manuel Alberto Carlo - Melancholia

Best European Editor
Tariq Anwar - The King's Speech (really?!)

Best European Production Designer
Jette Lehmann - Melancholia

Best European Composer
Ludovic Bource - The Artist

European Discovery
Adem (Oxygen) by Hans van Nuffel (Belgium / The Netherlands)

Best European Documentary
Wim Wenders - Pina

Best European Animated Feature
Chico & Rita

Best European Short Film
The Wholly Family

European Achievement in World Cinema
Mads Mikkelson (Denmark)

Lifetime Achievement Award
Stephen Frears (UK)

People's Choice Award
The King's Speech