Thursday, November 29, 2012

Catching up on the Independent Spirit Award nominees

The Indie Spirit Awards - as they ought to - have highlighted a few films that weren't on my radar before. Herewith trailers for your (& my) viewing & anticipatory pleasure

The Loneliest Planet - Best Director

Bernie - Best Feature, Best Male Lead

Return - Best Female Lead

Your Sister's Sister - Best Supporting Female 

Sound of my Voice - Best First Feature, Best Supporting Female 
I've seen this one and it's great fun - a perfect little indie sci fi that tells you just enough to satisfy & leaves enough to the imagination to stay convincing. Brit Marling was rightly singled out, but the whole cast is excellent.


Seven Psychopaths - Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Male

Independent Spirit Awards - 2013

Mostly as expected. Not that that's a bad thing. These are good movies. Brit Marling & Zoe Kazan make a showing, Middle of Nowhere does pretty good business, as does Bernie & Matthew McConaughey.  
Naturally Beasts of the Southern Wild, Moonrise Kingdom & Silver Linings Playbook lead and between the three I'd say Beasts takes the top prize. What a bummer they snubbed Dwight Henry - what a performance! And count this as the start of Ann Dowd's Oscar campaign. Moving her to supporting was a smart move. I'm also always glad to see Sam Rockwell get noticed.
Much thanks to Awardsdaily, from whence I lifted this.

Beasts of the Southern Wild
Keep the Lights On
Moonrise Kingdom
Silver Linings Playbook
Wes Anderson, Moonrise Kingdom
Julia Loktev, The Loneliest Planet
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Ira Sachs, Keep the Lights On
Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola, Moonrise Kingdom
Zoe Kazan, Ruby Sparks
Martin McDonagh, Seven Psychopaths
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Ira Sachs, Keep the Lights On
BEST FIRST FEATURE (Award given to the director and producer)
Fill the Void
Gimme the Loot
Safety Not Guaranteed
Sound of My Voice
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Rama Burshtein, Fill the Void
Derek Connolly, Safety Not Guaranteed
Christopher Ford, Robot & Frank
Rashida Jones & Will McCormack, Celeste and Jesse Forever
Jonathan Lisecki, Gayby
Breakfast with Curtis, WRITER/DIRECTOR/PRODUCER: Laura Colella
Middle of Nowhere, WRITER/DIRECTOR/PRODUCER: Ava DuVernay, PRODUCERS: Howard Barish, Paul Garnes,
Mosquita y Mari, WRITER/DIRECTOR: Aurora Guerrero, PRODUCER: Chad Burris
Starlet, WRITER/DIRECTOR: Sean Baker, PRODUCERS: Blake Ashman-Kipervaser, Kevin Chinoy, Patrick Cunningham, Chris Maybach, Francesca Silvestri
The Color Wheel, WRITER/DIRECTOR/PRODUCER: Alex Ross Perry, WRITER: Carlen Altman
Linda Cardellini, Return
Emayatzy Corinealdi, Middle of Nowhere
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Smashed
Jack Black, Bernie
Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
John Hawkes, The Sessions
Thure Lindhardt, Keep the Lights On
Matthew McConaughey, Killer Joe
Wendell Pierce, Four
Rosemarie DeWitt, Your Sister’s Sister
Ann Dowd, Compliance
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Brit Marling, Sound of My Voice
Lorraine Toussaint, Middle of Nowhere
Matthew McConaughey, Magic Mike
David Oyelowo, Middle of Nowhere
Michael Péna, End of Watch
Sam Rockwell, Seven Psychopaths
Bruce Willis, Moonrise Kingdom
Yoni Brook, Valley of Saints
Lol Crawley, Here
Ben Richardson, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Roman Vasyanov, End of Watch
Robert Yeoman, Moonrise Kingdom
BEST DOCUMENTARY (Award given to the director and producer)
How to Survive a Plague
DIRECTOR: David France
PRODUCERS: David France, Howard Gertler
Marina Abramoviæ: The Artist is Present
DIRECTOR: Matthew Akers
PRODUCERS: Maro Chermayeff, Jeff Dupre
The Central Park Five
DIRECTORS/PRODUCERS: Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, David McMahon
The Invisible War
DIRECTOR: Kirby Dick
PRODUCERS: Tanner King Barklow, Amy Ziering
The Waiting Room
PRODUCERS: Linda Davis, William B. Hirsch
BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM (Award given to the director)
Once Upon A Time in Anatolia
Rust And Bone
War Witch
16th ANNUAL PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD – The 16th annual Piaget Producers
Award honors emerging producers who, despite highly limited resources
demonstrate the creativity, tenacity, and vision required to produce
quality, independent films. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted
grant funded by Piaget.
Nobody Walks PRODUCER: Alicia Van Couvering
Prince Avalanche, PRODUCER: Derrick Tseng
Stones in the Sun, PRODUCER: Mynette Louie
19th ANNUAL SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD – The 19th annual Someone to Watch
Award recognizes a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet
received appropriate recognition. The award includes a $25,000
unrestricted grant.
Pincus, DIRECTOR: David Fenster
Gimme the Loot, DIRECTOR: Adam Leon
Electrick Children, DIRECTOR: Rebecca Thomas
Fiction Award is presented to an emerging director of non-fiction features
who has not yet received significant recognition. The award includes a
$25,000 unrestricted grant.
DIRECTOR: Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel
The Waiting Room, DIRECTOR: Peter Nicks
Only the Young, DIRECTOR: Jason Tippet & Elizabeth Mims
ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD – (Given to one film’s director, casting director, and
its ensemble cast)
Starlet, Director: Sean Baker

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Best Actor - in Trailers

The big dogs:

Daniel Day-Lewis - Lincoln

Joaquin Phoenix - The Master

Hugh Jackman - Les Miserables

Denzel Washington - Flight

John Hawkes - The Sessions

The guys in the wings:

Bradley Cooper - Silver Linings Playbook

Anthony Hopkins - Hitchcock

Richard Gere - Arbitrage

The Dark Horses:

Jean-Louis Trintignant - Amour

Bill Murray - Hyde Park on Hudson

Best Actor

It's just a freaking strong & frankly exciting year for Best Actor with too many real contenders for the five available slots. But more just the great performances that will inevitably be snubbed, this is also a year with at least four strong front runners to win, which means we have ourselves a real race (for now at least).

1. Daniel Day-Lewis - Lincoln 
Daniel Day-Lewis still leads the race for now as honest Abe in Spielberg's much-celebrated, much-watched (good combination) biopic. He walks a touchy line of impersonation with grandiose speeches and a weird voice which could easily add up to hammy scenery chewing. But this is Daniel Day-Lewis and he has now pretty much stepped up to being the greatest actor alive. For now. Like the very best of impersonation performances (think Helen Mirren in The Queen), Day-Lewis inhabits his character, living & breathing but never over-playing him. Audiences and critics have taken to both the skill of his performance and the venerable stature of his character and, in a significant political year for America, his performance already feels a little bit iconic. When you're the frontrunner for your third lead Oscar, and no-one begrudges you, you've done something right. Incidentally, if he wins, he joins the ranks of:

  • Ingrid Bergman - 3 wins (2 lead, 1 supporting)
  • Meryl Streep - 3 wins (2 lead, 1 supporting)
  • Jack Nicholson - 3 wins (2 lead, 1 supporting)

But still stands back for Katherine Hepburn with 4 wins (all lead).

2. Joaquin Phoenix - The Master
Critics are divided on Paul Thomas Anderson's latest masterpiece, particularly around what it means and whether it means anything at all, but the one thing everyone seemed to uniformly agree on was that the Oscar already had Joaqion Phoenix's name on it. That was until Lincoln came along, and Phoenix called the Oscars "bullshit" and "the worst carrot I've ever tasted". To be fair, he was referring mostly to the horror of campaigning for an Oscar, which it's easy to agree can get ugly, and he did later try to retract his comments or at least place them in context. Does this negate his Oscar chances? With so many strong contenders, it probably does take his name solidly off the Oscar, but given the strength of his performance as an odd, wild alcoholic destructive finding refuge under the wing of Phillip Seymour Hoffman's titular Master, he shouldn't have much trouble still getting nominated. (as a side note, I see the ugliness and ludicrousness of campaigning people and putting them in competition with each other, and of course being acknowledged by your industry as the "best" is as weird as it must be flattering, but the prestige of the Oscars does keep the industry actors are privileged to work in going and, if nothing else, it means a lot to the bottom line of the movie they signed up for & for the fans who fell in love with it, one of which must surely be the reason they do it all in the first place).

3. Denzel Washington - Flight
Robert Zemeckis' first live action film since 2000's Cast Away slipped in under the radar to become a sleeper hit with audiences and critics on the strength of three things: Denzel Washington's dense, deep character study of a complex man at the center of an enigmatic disaster, John Gatins' sharp script and basically a kick ass crash scene. Washington has his Oscar for Training Day, but honestly he's got so much momentum right now it could easily take him all the way back to the podium. The industry loves him &, historically at least, Oscar loves on-screen drunks. Another threat keeping the Best Actor race edgy. A win would make him the first black actor with three Oscars.

4. Hugh Jackman - Les Miserables
Who doesn't love Hugh Jackman? The one-&-only embodiment of Wolverine has also effortlessly shown his sensitive (The Fountain) and funny (Kate & Leopold) side, and made a good case for his serious actor credentials in Chris Nolan's The Prestige. He's also in better shape at 44 than most of us will likely ever be. Now he takes the all-singing, much-wretched, ultimately-heroic lead in Tom Hooper's adaptation of the ultimate serious-minded musical, and everyone has been simply waiting to make this his moment, provided he didn't screw it up. And the first semi-reviews from critics and bloggers who have attended early screenings suggest he has done quite the opposite of screw it up. I'm not sure when last a male Actor won for a musical performance, if ever, (if anyone knows, let me know), but if momentum for Les Miserables keeps building, he poses a serious threat for the win. And just imagine what a Jackman win would do for the notoriously uncool award show's ratings.

5. John Hawkes - The Sessions
John Hawkes has become a household name of late (in, you know, indie film and awards-obsessed kinda households) with awesome, celebrated, creepy turns in Winter's Bone and Martha Marcy May Marlene and this year his and Helen Hunt's central performances, as a real-life quadriplegic poet wanting to lose his virginity and a compassionate sex surrogate, respectively, have been riding (no pun intended) a wave of joint acclaim since Sundance that shows no sign of slowing down. Hawkes' performance has repeatedly, and annoyingly (but probably unavoidably) been compared to Daniel Day-Lewis' (first) Oscar-winning performance in My Left Foot, but funnier. It's frustrating to have his performance reduced to an Oscar paint-by-numbers when the strength of his performance is not merely the complexity of his physical limitations, but the great sensitivity and humour he brings to a frankly awkward story. He's got the goods to win, but probably not in a year like this.

That seems like a pretty unshakable top 5 but, if we've learnt anything, it's that nobody knows anything.

The strongest contenders waiting in the wings, are:

6. Bradley Cooper - Silver Linings Playbook
In a career-shifting performance, that good-looking guy from The Hangover and The A Team, plays an obsessive compulsive man moving back in with his parents after a stint in a mental institution, hoping to patch things up with his estranged wife, but faced with a dilemma when he finds himself drawn to Jennifer Lawrence's depressed nymphomaniac instead. Silver Linings Playbook has proven to be an unshakably popular feelgood dramedy with legitimate Best Picture chances (although it would be a shame in a year with such strong contenders). If the film keeps building momentum, so will the chances of it's leading man. And again, the words "Bradley Cooper" will do wonders for the Oscars' TV ratings.

7. Anthony Hopkins - Hitchcock
What could be more exciting than the great Sir Anthony Hopkins playing the legendary Alfred Hitchcock? Well, at least 6 other actors, apparently. But still this has to remain a strong contender on the strength of Hopkins' star power, Hitchcock's legend and the humour Hopkins and director Sacha Gervasi bring to the part. It's not an attractive portrait of the great director, and reportedly not a very accurate one either. But that doesn't mean it's not entertaining. Most likely, the attention will be on Helen Mirren as Hitch's largely unsung partner in crime, Alma Reville. Hopkins shows no interest in doing the campaigning thing (why should he?) and in the wake of iconic performances in major Best Picture contenders, his movie and performance seem doomed to obscurity very soon after the inevitable Golden Globe nominations (presuming it contends as a comedy). But anything can happen.

8. Richard Gere - Arbitrage
To be fair, the man has had quite a career, and he's never played the Oscar game, danced the AMPAS dance, had his face in the little squares after a beautiful Actress said "and the nominees are...". And that, together with many reviews declaring this the best work of his career, by far, is the basis of the fairly strong campaign for Richard Gere as Best Actor for his performance in Arbitrage. I haven't seen the film, but the reviews are pretty convincing (especially as I found the trailer very tiresome), and if he can build a strong enough campaign.

And lastly, these dudes really have no chance of getting in, but it should be mentioned that they did contend, on the outskirts:

9. Bill Murray - Hyde Park on Hudson
Who wouldn't want to see Bill Murray nominated for playing Teddy Roosevelt? In the same year that Daniel Day-Lewis wins for playing Abraham Lincoln? It seems meant to be, but this has been far too competitive a year and Bill Murray's performance is ultimately too understated, with no wow moments. Also the film kinda tanked. Pity. Still can't wait to see it though.

10. Jean-Louis Trintignant
Don't get me wrong, this could happen, if Michael Haneke's Palme D'Or winning film hits in a big way, but it's highly unlikely. As an elderly, retired music teacher watching his wife succumb to the ravages of old age, Jean-Louis Trintignant really should be an Oscar contender. But that, of course, doesn't mean he will. There are younger, more attractive men turning in more popular performances in movies without subtitles. Again, a pity.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Please support us on Indiegogo


So our campaign to raise tuition funds for New York Film Academy went live on Indiegogo last night. Please check it out, contribute where you can and share it with your world:

A little background - My lifelong dream has been to make movies & study film abroad. I have now been accepted to New York Film Academy, and received partial funding for 20% of my tuition. I still need to raise quite a bit of funds to make my first year's studies a reality, especially at the current Rand / Dollar conversion.

Please check out the campaign & help out where you can! Also check out the other awesome, deserving campaigns on Indiegogo, like the campaign to bring back the Word Up Community Bookshop in Manhattan

Or the Face Watch campaign that allows yout o do good & get a hot watch while you're at it:

Or the many Hurricane Sandy relief campaigns, like this one:

Much appreciated.