OSCAR Winners 2012

The Oscars played it very very very safe this year (well..  this year and every year in fact!): the biggest shock was probably the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo winning best Editing (quite unexpected, especially because the editors had won it last year with The Social Network). Hugo went home with most of the technical awards, best scripts awards given to Woody Allen and Alexander Payne and the big ones (film, director, actor) went to the Artist as expected… And the Artist for Best music too. Meryl graced our screen once again with her class and beauty and her oscar is one of the most deserved of the year. She is the embodiment of greatness! And finally, Spielberg got home with no award, however he got a big thanks from Octavia Spencer.

Check out my post of Oscar Snubs

Best Motion Picture of the Year

The Artist (2011): Thomas Langmann  (WINNER)

The Descendants (2011): Jim Burke, Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011): Scott Rudin

The Help (2011): Brunson Green, Chris Columbus, Michael Barnathan

Hugo (2011/II): Graham King, Martin Scorsese

Midnight in Paris (2011): Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum

Moneyball (2011): Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz, Brad Pitt

The Tree of Life (2011): Nominees to be determined

War Horse (2011): Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Demián Bichir for A Better Life (2011)

George Clooney for The Descendants (2011) 

Jean Dujardin for The Artist (2011) (WINNER)

Gary Oldman for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

Brad Pitt for Moneyball (2011)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Glenn Close for Albert Nobbs (2011)

Viola Davis for The Help (2011)

Rooney Mara for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady (2011) (WINNER)

Michelle Williams for My Week with Marilyn (2011)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Kenneth Branagh for My Week with Marilyn (2011)

Jonah Hill for Moneyball (2011)

Nick Nolte for Warrior (2011)

Christopher Plummer for Beginners (2010) (WINNER)

Max von Sydow for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Bérénice Bejo for The Artist (2011)

Jessica Chastain for The Help (2011)

Melissa McCarthy for Bridesmaids (2011)

Janet McTeer for Albert Nobbs (2011)

Octavia Spencer for The Help (2011)  (WINNER)

Best Achievement in Directing

Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris (2011)

Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist (2011)  (WINNER)

Terrence Malick for The Tree of Life (2011)

Alexander Payne for The Descendants (2011)

Martin Scorsese for Hugo (2011/II)

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

The Artist (2011): Michel Hazanavicius

Bridesmaids (2011): Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo

Margin Call (2011): J.C. Chandor

Midnight in Paris (2011): Woody Allen  (WINNER)

A Separation (2011): Asghar Farhadi

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published

The Descendants (2011): Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash  (WINNER)

Hugo (2011/II): John Logan

The Ides of March (2011): George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon

Moneyball (2011): Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin, Stan Chervin

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011): Bridget O’Connor, Peter Straughan

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year

A Cat in Paris (2010): Alain Gagnol, Jean-Loup Felicioli

Chico & Rita (2010): Fernando Trueba, Javier Mariscal

Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011): Jennifer Yuh

Puss in Boots (2011): Chris Miller

Rango (2011): Gore Verbinski  (WINNER)

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year

Bullhead (2011): Michael R. Roskam(Belgium)

Footnote (2011): Joseph Cedar(Israel)

In Darkness (2011): Agnieszka Holland(Poland)

Monsieur Lazhar (2011): Philippe Falardeau(Canada)

A Separation (2011): Asghar Farhadi(Iran)  (WINNER)

Best Achievement in Cinematography

The Artist (2011): Guillaume Schiffman

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011): Jeff Cronenweth

Hugo (2011/II): Robert Richardson  (WINNER)

The Tree of Life (2011): Emmanuel Lubezki

War Horse (2011): Janusz Kaminski

Best Achievement in Editing

The Artist (2011): Anne-Sophie Bion, Michel Hazanavicius

The Descendants (2011): Kevin Tent

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011): Angus Wall, Kirk Baxter   (WINNER)

Hugo (2011/II): Thelma Schoonmaker

Moneyball (2011): Christopher Tellefsen

Best Achievement in Art Direction

The Artist (2011): Laurence Bennett, Robert Gould

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011): Stuart Craig, Stephenie McMillan

Hugo (2011/II): Dante Ferretti, Francesca Lo Schiavo  (WINNER)

Midnight in Paris (2011): Anne Seibel, Hélène Dubreuil

War Horse (2011): Rick Carter, Lee Sandales

Best Achievement in Costume Design

Anonymous (2011/I): Lisy Christl

The Artist (2011): Mark Bridges

Hugo (2011/II): Sandy Powell  (WINNER)

Jane Eyre (2011): Michael O’Connor

W.E. (2011): Arianne Phillips

Best Achievement in Makeup

Albert Nobbs (2011): Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnson, Matthew W. Mungle

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011): Nick Dudman, Amanda Knight, Lisa Tomblin

The Iron Lady (2011): Mark Coulier, J. Roy Helland   (WINNER)

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score

The Adventures of Tintin (2011): John Williams

The Artist (2011): Ludovic Bource   (WINNER)

Hugo (2011/II): Howard Shore

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011): Alberto Iglesias

War Horse (2011): John Williams

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song

The Muppets (2011): Bret McKenzie(“Man or Muppet”)   (WINNER)

Rio (2011): Sergio Mendes, Carlinhos Brown, Siedah Garrett(“Real in Rio”)

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011): David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce, Bo Persson

Hugo (2011/II): Tom Fleischman, John Midgley  (WINNER)

Moneyball (2011): Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, David Giammarco, Ed Novick

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011): Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush, Peter J. Devlin

War Horse (2011): Gary Rydstrom, Andy Nelson, Tom Johnson, Stuart Wilson

Best Achievement in Sound Editing

Drive (2011): Lon Bender, Victor Ray Ennis

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011): Ren Klyce

Hugo (2011/II): Philip Stockton, Eugene Gearty   (WINNER)

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011): Ethan Van der Ryn, Erik Aadahl
War Horse (2011): Richard Hymns, Gary Rydstrom

Best Achievement in Visual Effects

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011): Tim Burke, David Vickery, Greg Butler, John Richardson

Hugo (2011/II): Robert Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossmann, Alex Henning  (WINNER)

Real Steel (2011): Erik Nash, John Rosengrant, Danny Gordon Taylor, Swen Gillberg

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011): Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White, Daniel Barrett

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011): Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Matthew E. Butler, John Frazier

Best Documentary, Features

Hell and Back Again (2011): Danfung Dennis, Mike Lerner

If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front (2011): Marshall Curry, Sam Cullman

Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory (2011): Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky

Pina (2011): Wim Wenders, Gian-Piero Ringel

Undefeated (2011): Daniel Lindsay, T.J. Martin, Rich Middlemas  (WINNER)

Best Documentary, Short Subjects

The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement (2011): Robin Fryday, Gail Dolgin God Is the Bigger Elvis: Rebecca Cammisa,
Julie Anderson

Incident in New Baghdad (2011): James Spione

Saving Face (2011/II): Daniel Junge, Sharmeen Obaid- Chinoy   (WINNER)

The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom (2011): Lucy Walker, Kira Carstensen

Best Short Film, Animated

Dimanche (2011): Patrick Doyon

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore (2011): William Joyce, Brandon Oldenburg  (WINNER)

La Luna (2011): Enrico Casarosa

A Morning Stroll (2011): Grant Orchard, Sue Goffe

Wild Life (2011): Amanda Forbis, Wendy Tilby

Best Short Film, Live Action

Pentecost (2011): Peter McDonald

Raju (2011): Max Zähle, Stefan Gieren

The Shore: Terry George, Oorlagh George   (WINNER)

Time Freak (2011): Andrew Bowler, Gigi Causey Tuba

Atlantic (2010): Hallvar Witzø

Short Animated Film – Oscar Nominated 2012

Dimanche/Sunday

by Patrick Doyon

_______________________________________________

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore (2011) (OSCAR WINNER 2012)

By William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg

_______________________________________________

La Luna (extract only)

By Enrico Casarosa

_______________________________________________

A Morning Stroll (Trailer)

By Grant Orchard and Sue Goffe

_______________________________________________

Wild Life (Trailer)

By Forbis and Wendy Tilby

_______________________________________________

Oscar Biggest Snubs

Oscar’s 2012 Biggest Snubs

Yes, it’s that time of the year again,when newspaper and magazines are covered not only by the news of the movies that got nominated for the most prestigious Awards, but also the mentions of the ones that didn’t. When those golden statuettes are handed over to the makers behind the “Artist” (Let’s all face it: it’s going to happen), some big names are not going to be there among the audience. In fact, some truly deserving movies have been absolutely snubbed! Social networks like Twitter or Facebook all had their chances to raise their concerns about what’s gone unnoticed by the Academy. Most people seem to have been raging especially about one absence:  Ryan Gosling. Obviously writing and complaining about all this could seem a pretty pointless exercise… But not necessarily… The history of the Oscars is full of great snubs (and consequently people going up in arms against the Academy), but it’s also full of strange victories which might not have been particularly deserving, if it wasn’t for the fact that they happened to follow some great snub (most notably: Whoopy Goldberg missing out for “The Color Purple” and the following winning for “Ghost“, or even Martin Scorsese’s constant snubs over the years and his recent win for “The Departed”, just to mention a few). It is well known that Oscars are not aways given to the most deserving film (or person).In 1994 Pulp Fiction and Shawshank Redemption both lost out to Forrest Gump. In 1998 Saving Private Ryan was shockingly beaten by Shakespeare in Love (cute film, yes, but Oscar worthy?)In 1989 Driving miss Daisy won over 4 more deserving films “Born on the Fourth of July“, “Dead Poets Society“, Field of Dreams, “My Left Foot“…  And back in 1980 Ordinary people won over both Elephant Man and Raging Bull. Many of those movies that today we consider masterpieces never got an Oscar: Taxi driver, Goodfellas, Apocalipse Now and Citizen Kane are just 4 of them… And I could go on forever. But the travesties don’t stop with Feature of Films. When it comes to awarding actors and directors it is just as bad: Stanley Kubrick or Alfred Hitchcock, Robert Altman, David Lynch never won. Ralph Fiennes lost in the year of his brilliant performance in Schilndler’s List and somehow Marisa Tomei won as a supporting actress for My Cousin Vinny” (yes, I am not kidding!). Ok, let’s stop here, before I get a heart attack…

This is my list of the 10 biggest snubs for 2012. Let me know if you agree.

1 ) Ryan Gosling

This is the second time in a row that Ryan gets snubbed by the Academy. Last year for some obscure reason he was not even nominated for his great performance in Blue Valentine ,which was just as strong and powerful,l if not more, than the one by the nominated Michelle Williams (here’s my review of that film). It’s all even more shocking this year, since not only he seemed to be the front-runner with his dramatic (and yet restrained) performances in both Drive and the Ides of March, but also he also showed us his comedic timing with his supporting role in the surprisingly good Crazy Stupid Love.

 2) The Adventures of Tintin. The Secret of the Unicorn

Ok, we all probably agree that this wasn’t the greatest masterpiece of all time: the story felt segmented and slightly anticlimactic towards the end, the comic timing wasn’t always there, and the character of Tintin wasn’t always as engaging as he could have been. But as a piece of animation, it was impressive, rich, inventive and skilfully put together. Instead the Academy chose to ignore Spielberg’s first foray into 3D animation veering towards a much the more restrained and old-fashioned approach of A Cat in Paris  (Click here to see a clip from it) and Chico and Rita (here’s the trailer). While this was surely a choice to be praised and commended for, I’m not sure the same can be said about nominating uninspired filler-films like Kung-Fu Panda 2, Puss in boots. Even Rango, though probably the most deriving one on the US list is in the end rather forgettable.

 3) Drive

In a year of so many average-to-OK films, surely this one should have made the list, not just as a film or for its directing (and of course for Ryan Gosling as I have just mentioned above), but also for its stylish look, sharp and yet never flashy editing (which gave the film an almost palpable tension) and its use of music. Instead, one of the best films of the year  was relegated to just 1 nomination of best use of Sound Editing (a nomination which I always find very hard to distinguish from Sound Mixing. In fact they usually always go together, except in this case where Moneyball was nominated for sound mixing instead of Drive). And while I am at it, I should also mention the non-nomination for Albert Brooks (who many thought was a shoe-in) for supporting actor. All quite shocking, I have to say. In fact, a real shame!… And talking about “shame”…

 4) Michael Fassbender

Whether you liked  Shame or not, nobody can deny that Fassbender’s performance in the film was truly mesmerizing. The entire film focused on Micheal’s face and his body as he literally exposed himself to us. His every single weakness, every single thought and every single body part is there for us to see, as his tortured soul descend more and more towards hell. And even if  Shame was a bit too much for the Academy’s taste, his performances in both Jane Eyre , A Dangerous Method should at least have been noted. One thing is certain: both Fassbender and Goslinghave been the actors of 2012, and yet neither of them appears to be nominated.

 5) Tilda Swinton

Tilda’s haunting and shattering performance in We Need to Talk About Kevin was absolutely astonishing and possibly one of the best of her career. The fact that she’s not even among the list of nominees is nothing short of truly baffling. It seems that the film is another of those “downer” which are usually too harsh, too depressing and basically just not friendly enough to appear next to the word Oscar. In fact, not only Tilda didn’t make the list, but nor the film, nor its director, nor its script, nor the truly terrifying Ezra Miller (as the “Kevin” from the title), not even the ever perfect John C. Reilly (as Tilda’s husband in the film) who’s always getting sidelined, but who sooner or later should really be recognised for his many great characters over the years.

 6) Senna

This wasn’t a big surprise since we already knew that the film had not even made the long-list among the documentaries to be considered for the nomination, but that doesn’t make it any less of a snub. In fact it’s probably an even bigger one! Not that Senna needs any more awards or recognition to prove how good it is.  Made of just archive material and no talking-heads Senna was one  of the most powerful film (not just documentary) of the year not just for the Formula 1 fans but even for people like me who can hardly tell you the difference between a Ferrari and a McLaren. Riveting, inspired, incredibly moving and yet missing from the Oscar 2012.

 7) 50/50

Of course this isn’t masterpiece and some people may argue it shouldn’t really deserve any Oscar, but if the Help is up there, together with Bridesmaids and, let’s face it, Midnight in Paris, why can 50/50 be there as well. After all it was one of the bravest films coming out of Hollywood last few year which not only was able to tackle a subject like cancer with the constraints of a comedy, but it also did it with great respect, incredible taste and yet without hiding away from the harsh reality of the subject matter. Anyone in the film deserved to be at least mentioned: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, acutely observed performance, Seth Rogen‘s honest turn as best friend of somebody who’s been diagnosed with cancer, Jonathan Levine‘s directorial decisions to handle such a delicate subject without any of the lush, or even syrupy and cheesy ways that usually come with such a Hollywood product. Even Will Reiser‘s script (written from his own experience, usually a winner formula for getting an Oscar) was snubbed by the Academy.

 8) Leonardo di Caprio

Leo has never been very lucky at the Oscars. In 1993 was nominated for his greatest performance in What’s eating Gilberg Grape, but lost our to Tommy Lee Jones for the Fugitive (yes, indeed!!), back in 1997 he was the only person in the whole crew from Titanic who was completely snubbed (though he was one of the main reason for the astronomical success of that movie). He also lost for both the Aviator and Blood Diamonds and was sidelined for his roles in Catch me if you can and Revolutionary Road. J. Edgar is definitely not a good film (And that’s why it received zero nominations! Here’s my review), but nor is The Iron Lady (and here’s the review for that one too) and yet that didn’t stop Meryl Streep for being nominated (and hopefully win her 3rd highly deserved Oscar!). Leo’s performance was not just the best thing in the film, but actually very good. Unfortunately it probably suffered too much by all those way-too-many layers of latex of all the prosthetics he was forced to wear, but I would have certainly chosen him over Brad Pitt in Moneyball (By the way, how strange to find Pitt nominated for Moneyball and not The Tree of Life).

 9) Motion Capture Performance

During the recent Oscar campaign Fox has been asking Academy members to consider Andy Serkis’s turn as Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes as one of the top male performances. However when it comes to Motion-capture technology, it is very hard to tell where does the actual performance come from:is it the actor behind the pixels or  the animator who took the performance and transformed it and enhanced it. It is a fair argument, however the same can be said about normal performances and direction orediting. Was that particular reaction just spot on because of the greatness of the actor or because of the way the director cheated the actor into it and the way the editor was able to smoothly cut it into the film (famously Hitchcock used to have fun in shocking his actresses by unzipping his pants and filming their reactions to be used in his films to be used in completely different contexts. And Spielberg himself told stories of how he got some of the best performances out of children by cheating, playing or even lying to them). Whatever the truth is, you can still tell Andy Serkis out of all the apes in Rise of the Planets of the Apes: his eyes in the film tell a thousand more words than any of the other performances in any other film of the year. It’s about time the Academy starts recognising this new art.

 10) Steven Spielberg

The Academy and Steven Spielberg have always had a troublesome relationship ever since Jaws in 1975 (which was nominated for best film, but not for best director). The biggest snub came ten years later in 1985 when The Color Purple was nominated for 11 Oscars (except for director) and ended up winning none. In 1987 Empire of the sun won none of the 6 nominations (and once again Spielberg didn’t make the list),   Schindler’s list was the game-changer of course and Saving Private Ryan confirmed that things were indeed changing as he won his second Golden Award as best director (however missing out of best film, which shockingly went to Shakespeare in Love). Since then his films have arguably been less good (and this statement comes from somebody who adores Spielberg!!) so it’s not surprising to find the number of nominations and awards getting slimmer and slimmer. Even his 2005 Munich which received 5 nods, didn’t actually win any Oscar. War Horse is certainly a flawed movie, but some of the best sequences in it are good because of Spielberg and not despite of him. Nominating the film and not his director always makes very little sense to me. Even more so, in the case of War Horse (especially when it’s missing out against  In a year when even Tintin missed out on its chance for an Oscar it seems to me that we are going back to the early days when Spielberg was ignored just because it was Spielberg. We may have to wait until next year with the release of his next Lincoln to see whether the spell can be broken (or, somebody may argue, whether he can actually make a good film). If you’re interested,

11) Harry Potter

This has always been something peculiar: not a single Harry Potter movie has ever won an Oscar. Some of you may say “well, rightly so”, but it has to be said that this isn’t just the most successful movie franchise in history (close to 7 billion $ at the time of writing this, in the cinema alone) but it has been quite groundbreaking on the level of care and attention as far as set design, art direction, costumes, and special effects. And let’s not forget John Williams’ classic soundtrack. Were any of those elements any less impressive then the ones in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy (which actually ended up getting awards left and right on every single instalment?). I would probably take this even further and say that the last few films have even been beautifully filmed and choreographed. recently a lot of fans have been campaigning for Alan Rickman to be nominated for the latest instalment. This is something that sort of makes sense if you have watched the entire series and considered the character that Mr Rickman has been creating throughout the 8 films. Unfortunately Academy awards doesn’t always work like that and to give something to an actor who only appears for a few minutes in a film (even though it has happened before) is something of a rarity. With 3 nominations this year, hopes are still high, but it will be rather shocking if even this film (arguably one of the best!) didn’t win anything.

12) Commedies

This is part of a never-ending debate at the Oscar: comedies very rarely get award recognitions, as if the genre isn’t to be taken seriously, or worse as if comedies were easier to make. That it probably one of the few good things about the Golden Globes, where awards are given to both comedies and dramas (though sometimes the line between them is very hard to define: is 50/50 a drama or a comedy? And what about the beautiful Beginners, incidentally another overlooked film at the Oscars this year). As any writer or director will be able to tell you, it’s a lot harder to make a smart comedy that is genuinely funny and feels fresh than a make people cry with one of those heavy-weight dramas, with period costumes or grand sets. However, once again comedies have been snubbed by the Academy in favours of those typical weepy (Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close being the worse offender). And so Bridesmaids got overlooked for the best feature film, and so did My Week with Marilyn, Crazy Stupid Love and of course50/50. Oh wait, what about Midnight in Paris? Well, Woody Allen seems to be the only person on the planet whose film can be nominated for an Oscar, even if it’s only half memorable

here’s the definitive list of all the biggest Oscar omissions and snubs.

OSCAR NOMINATIONS 2012

The Oscar nominations have just been announced today (January the 24th). The awards will be given on February the 26th

BEST FEATURE FILM:

This year it seems that the Artist might just win it. I didn’t unexpected to see Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, which hasn’t really been making many lists for favourite movie this year. War Horse had to be in the list, however it’s interesting to see that Spielberg didn’t really gets any nod (nor for directing, nor for Animation)

Actor In a Leading Role

Unexpected but quite a well deserved nomination for Gary Oldman, however my vote goes to Clooney (he’s also the front runner on the list). Most newspapers obivously picked up on the fact that it’s a battle of the “hot” as Clooney and Pitt are both nominated.

Actress In a Leading Role

Is there any chance for anybody else but Meryl Streep? Don’t think so. I did like Michelle Williams too though.

Actor In a Supporting Role

Good to see Christopher Plummer nominated (I did say in my review at the time he might  get it). However I am quite pleased to see Kenneth Branagh on the list too. The surprise is Jonah Hill, who probably can’t believe his luck!

Actress In a Supporting Role

The Oscars voter might for for Octavia Spencer (just like the Golden Globes voters). I thought the move to put Bérénice Bejo forward for supporting actrtess was actually quite clever (thus avoiding to compete against Meryl Streep or Michelle Williams)

Directing

Mallick is unexpected, but it’s a battle between Michel Hazanavicius and Alexander Payne. Woody Allen seems to be the only person alive who is allowed to get nominated for an Oscar when directing (or writing) a comedy.

Cinematography

All very well deserved nominations. The Artist might get it, but the photography on both the Tree of life and War horse was quite astonishing. It’s great to see Jeff Cronenweth nominated for his cold touch in the girl with the Dragon tattoo.

Animated Feature Film

I find shocking that Tintin is not in the list for best Animated Film, however it’s good to see some brave choices, like Chico and Rita… But was Puss in boots better than Tintin? And Kung Fu Panda 2?!?! Are we kidding?

Art Direction

All well deserved nominations and even though Harry Potter should finally be recognised for something

Costume Design

Documentary Feature

Documentary Short

Film Editing

Some people say that the best editing is also the most invisible one… Which is probably why usually very flashy editings seem to win awards left and right (JFK style just to mention one glaring example), in which case Moneyball should really win… However it will once again be the Artist, even though the film was a bit too slow and definitely 20 minutes too long.

Foreign Language Film

Makeup

Music (Original Score)

Music (Original Song)

Short Film (Animated)

Short Film (Live Action)

Sound Editing

Sound Mixing

Visual Effects

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

Writing (Original Screenplay)

In the end, not too may surprises of course. The Artis is obviously coming through as the main contended in the big categories, the Descendants is going to be the one to beat.

On the acting front, Meryl Streep is the frontrunner as we all know… and I do also feel this is George’s year (yes, he did win, but as supporting actor).

What do you think? Leave us a message  and share your thoughts

War Horse – Review

War Horse (2011) 

Directed by Steven Spielberg. Starring Jeremy IrvineEmily Watson, Niels ArestrupPeter MullanDavid ThewlisBenedict CumberbatchCeline Buckens.

CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS

War Horse has probably some of the best Spielberg we’ve seen in a while, but unfortunately it has some of the worse too. The result is a strange hybrid of a film that at times showcases true mastery in Film-making (some real craftmanship that very few directors have these days) but other times falls flat (and almost into self parody) with some incredibly misjudged moments and, worst crime of all, (especially for a Spielberg’s film) is actually devoid of any real emotional drive: each set piece works as an individual piece in itself, but as a whole film “War Horse” lacks a certain narrative unity which in the end prevents one for getting completely swept away despite the glorious score by John Williams.

I was ready to let myself go on this one: on paper this is the ultimate weepy! But strangely while I was left admiring the nicely composed frames and the beautiful cinematography, I found myself emotionally detached from the actual story. Whatever happened to that great manipulator of emotions that still makes me cry every time I watch ET? Why was I so underwhelmed and not reduced to tears as I should have been?

Spielberg films his horses just like he would film a human being: close-ups, tracking shots and all sorts of filmic tricks bring them alive as their faces turn to camera and their eyes reflect the light from yet another great vista. He’s so good at making us see what the horses are actually feeling at any point in the film, that he almost forgets to make us care for the actual human beings the populate the rest of the film.

Human characters come and go in this film like bell boys in a hotel and yet few of them really leave any mark. Rarely you really feel sorry for these people when they die (crucially some of them die off camera too!), maybe because they’re so many of them, or maybe because most of these are slightly two-dimensional or maybe because there isn’t enough time to get close to them (However look at  Pixar’s “Up”: we were all crying during that 5 minutes montage scene!). Let’s face it, the real star of the film is the horse and that’s it. We don’t really care about the humans…

I’ll give you an example: At the end of the film (watch out… spoiler ahead) there’s a big reunion moment between our hero, Joey, (and his horse) and his family. It’s supposed to be a bit climatic moment, as the music swells and the cinematography pays tribute to Gone with the Wind itself. The old parents are finally able to hug their son who’s just returned from war. Potentially this is a heartbreaking moment unravelling under our eyes and yet I was coldly thinking to myself: “Oh… I didn’t realise the parents were actually worried and waiting for him… because I’ve never actually seen them being worried while the kid was away. In fact I don’t think I ever even seen the kid being in difficulty during the war. Was he suffering? Was he missing his parents? All he seemed to care about was the horse, and that one seems fine to me”. How could that be the big climatic moment of the film, if I wasn’t really prepared for it by anything I’ve seen so far.

And what about all those people dying? Was I meant to feel something for them? I really didn’t, because I was only given the point of view of the horse. It looked like I was only meant to care about the horse.

Are we all basically just supposed to feel sorry for people dying, simply because they just… erm… die, even if the film hasn’t really made care about them?

The beginning of the film is probably the worst part. It’s a very lengthy first act, which despite continuous nods to Spielberg’s intellectual mentors like John Ford (just to mention one) feels cheap, corny, cheesy, slow and just dated in the worse possible sense. Spielberg may call it old-style film-making, but those words actually disguise some pretty bad and indulgent sequences, with some caricature acting that makes it all look more like a bad episode of “The Little House in the Prairie” than “How Green Was My Valley”.

Especially considering what’s coming later on, this first part feels like a totally different film. It is all plastered with a constant unsubtle soundtrack, without a single moment of silence, that tells us what we are supposed to think at each given point. Worst of all are the more comical-moments in this first part, which are really unfunny and yet the music make them sound almost as if they belonged to a Lauren & Hardy film.

But just when you think this is getting so predictable and really beyond bad, finally war breaks and the film becomes something completely different, and actually quite good one.

This is the best Spielberg of the best moments Saving Private Ryan (and to a degree the one behind the scenes of both Band of Brothers and the Pacific). There are hints of his genius popping up every few minutes

There are some absolutely beautifully and impeccably crafted and choreographed sequences: some thrilling battle scenes, some great memorable moments (a massive crane reveals the aftermath of a battle and shows us that the casualty of war are not just humans. An execution sequence, seen through a windmill chilling in its beautifully timed production), there are some breathtakingly locations, some wonderful cinematography, and of course a heartfelt score by John Williams (more successful here where it has more time to breathe than it did in Tintin.

One of the most beautiful scene which obviously everyone will remember is when our horse gets trapped in big cluster of barbed wire (amazing special effects by the way. Surely that must have been some CGI work, though I couldn’t quite tell how it was done) and then is saved by two soldiers from two opposite armies: it’s an almost poetic moment which gets away from being panned as a cheap trick and manages to be funny, sad, poignant and tense all at the same time.

There are some great new characters too peppered throughout and there will be moments to leave anyone speechless for their powerful honesty and epic scope.

But unfortunately, despite all these elements and all these little stories, the overall arching narrative  still feels bitty and choppy and even though what’s actually happening under our eyes is so powerful that we could almost forgive anything, the ultimate emotional journey of the main human character, Joey, is not as strong or compelling as the sum of all the other parts and eventually I couldn’t quite connect to him.

What we are left with is a very uneven film which wants to reach everyone (never the terms “a film for the whole family” has been more appropriate and I’m sure everyone will enjoy if not love parts of it) and yet I can’t quite help feeling that if it hadn’t tried so hard to please everyone it probably would have been a stronger film. There were moments I loved and moments I really hated, and if my rating may seem a bit high is probably because after 3 weeks since i saw the film, those great moments in it are still imprinted in my mind.

7/10

Attack the Block – Review

Attack the Block (2011) 

Directed by Joe Cornish. With John Boyega, Jodie Whittaker, Alex Esmail, Nick Frost

Director Joe Cornish is obviously a boy from the 80s and his latest film “Attack the Block” was certainly inspired by the likes of the GooniesGremlins (and its Z-list of derivates Critters, Ghoulies, Troll) or other 80s Monsters-films (even the soundtrack of this film seems to be reminiscent of the early Carpenter too). Not surprisingly Spielberg himself has chosen him to write his Adventures of Tintin.
All this retro-sci-fi sensibility is mixed up with the grittier settings of a typical British gang movie, like recent Harry Brown for example, just to mention one.

I must say it did take me quite a while to settle into the film, mainly because we are expected to like a gang of scumbags who attack people in the street at knifepoint and who speak with the uncompromising accents, only some of which I was able to fully understand.

And yet despite an early sequence where a nurse is assaulted (thus your liking for these kids reach rock bottom) director Cornish during the course of the film still manages to make these characters quite likeable and I guess that can only be considered an achievement. Obviously some of the credit has to be given to the realistic and natural performances from the gang of inexperienced actors, headed by the taciturn Moses, perfectly played by John Boyega.

The film on the whole is probably way too silly to take any of the message underneath too seriously: in fact we are supposed to understand the motivations behind these street kids and even excuse the gang’s behaviours. The film tells us that their resentment is justified by the fact that they are just unlucky kids who are not given a chance by the system.

However, beyond this intellectual (and not-too-subtle) reading, “Attack the Block” is mainly a comedy  about aliens versus hoodies and that’s what people will take out of it. It is also a rather unusual mish-mash of genres and I must confess in the beginning I found it all bit jarring, but if you are willing to go with it and suspend your disbelief, I’m sure you’ll end up enjoying the ride.

In fact, just like in Gremlins, the film tries to combine comedy with horror the same way cult films like Shaun of the Dead had done years ago. However whist there are some genuinely funny bits in the film, they are never really out-loud moments, nor particularly memorable. Even Nick Frost‘s part in the film feels more a  last-minute addition to the script than rounded character, functional to the plot. And knowing how funny Nick Frost can be, it all seems like a bit of a waste.

As far as the scary sequences are concerned, some of them are skilfully choreographed, photographed and filmed and on the whole are quite effective, however I’m sure that an audience familiar with the horror genre will find them all pretty standard and never as scary as they should actually be.

Cornish opted to use old-fashioned mechanical special effects for his weird alien/gorilla-like/furry-monsters. However the threat from these fluffy beast is never quite “real enough” and in the end the aliens are more ridiculous than menacing.

It’s hard to know what the target audience for this film is supposed to be. The Horror fans would  have seen it all before, the US kids will be put off by the accents, the snobby/arty elite will certainly find it all a bit too silly to care about its message, but  I must confess, I came to it with very few expectations and even though it took me way too long to get into it, once I was finally with it, I actually found it all rather enjoyable for the its slightly trashy fake-B-movie sensibility (but a lot more clever than it claims it is) and I was happy I saw it.

6.5/10

Trust – Review

Trust (2011) 

Directed by David Schwimmer. Starring Clive OwenCatherine KeenerLiana Liberato

Whatever you might be expecting from “Friends” star turned-director David Schwimmer, get ready for an unexpected surprise, because this is certainly not it.

Trust is in fact quite a mature and complex drama about an even more mature and complex subject and though it might not be perfect, it certainly deserves a lot of credit and respect not only for tackling such a story, but also (and mostly) for its restrained approach throughout.

The film is not preachy, nor it pretends to have all the answers: it doesn’t offer any solution to an impossible situation and for most of its length, it manages to avoid the obvious clichés from the genre and just when you think you’ve seen it all before and it takes an unexpected and clever turn.

Schwimmer is aware of the complexities of its story and carefully manages to keep his vision very well balanced. He is subtle in his style and in the staging and direction of some truly great performances.

At the centre is the amazing performance by Liana Liberato as Annie, the teenage girl who befriends a stranger online, Charlie, who she thinks he’s about her age. Once the truth comes out (don’t worry, this happens quite early on in the film, so I’m not really giving away anything), and Annie discovers that Charlie is actually a lot older than he used to claimed, she’s first taken aback, but slowly begins to feel more and more attached to him, as she thinks he’s her first love and the only one who really understand her.

Ms Liberato despite her early age seems to have a remarkable understanding for that adolescent naïveté, that awkwardness and innocence that most teenagers seem to have and she portrays Annie to perfection, with all their weaknesses and strengths.

“Trust” is certainly not an easy watch. The scene with Charlie the “predator” in a motel room sitting on a bed next to Annie, is one of the most uncomfortable I’ve seen in quite a while: but like in all the best movies scenes of this kind, the tension is created by what you know and your expectations, not by what you see. And gracefully (and thankfully) Schwimmer shows us just about enough to get the idea across without exploiting the moment.

Schwimmer is actually an activist in the field of rape awareness in real life and his understanding of the complexities of the issue is certainly apparent on the screen.

If you hear David Schwimmer talking about this film you’ll hear him saying that this is really a film “from the point of view of the father”. And undoubtedly Clive Owen takes the center stage at some point in the film (and as always he’s pretty good too), but interestingly those are the parts I thought were probably the least successful in the film, all leading up to that final scene which felt to me a bit forced and actually slightly too melodramatic.

However these are just small points in an otherwise really powerful film, which should actually be a compulsory watch in schools and among teenagers. In reality, in the UK the film is rated 15 and in the US is R rated: which once again shows the usual close-mindedness of classifications on both side of the pond. Hopefully some kids will get to watch it anyway either on DVD or thanks to mature parents.

Oh, and that end credit sequence, which seems almost tagged on as an afterthought, is one of the creepiest thing in the film and leaves you with a really uncomfortable feeling as the credits roll, which I guess is the point of the film. On that respect, it’s a success.

7.5/10

A real moviegeek or a tired old cynic?

Some of you have pointed out that in the last few months it seems like I was disappointed by most of the stuff I saw in the cinema.

This came just at the time when I was about to choose which film to review next, of the ones I’ve seen in the last couple of days: “The Roommate” (A thriller, which is usually a genre I love), “the extraordinary adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec” (By Luc Besson who made La Femme Nikita and leon, 2 of my favourites ever!), or “Hachi” (By the director of one of the film I love the most, What’s eating Gilbert Grape)… And you know what?! I really didn’t like any of them!

It made me think: when did I become such a cynic?

It is so unlike me… I’ve always been the positive one, the smiley person who tries to look for bright side…

I love going to the movies and there’s nothing I cherish more than loosing myself in a good flick.

Whenever I go and watch something, I’m always hoping this might be the one that makes me go back to being a kid, or makes me cry or laugh with tears in my eyes, or forget about my deadlines at work and my worries at home…

The fact that I have not liked a lot films recently is probably indicative of the way cinema is today. Most of these films are just products”: they are made by a committee of advertisers, or people who need to balance their books at the end of the year.

There are very few mavericks, or real storytellers out there… Most of them prefer to play it safe and give us what their recent surveys told them they should give us.

Or is it me who is just getting pickier and pickier? Why do I seem to be the only one who thought “The King’s Speech” was a pretty average film crowd pleaser?

Why didn’t I like Scream 4, when in fact it did exactly what the “tin” said?

Should I have got lost in the colours of “Rio”, forgetting about the fact that the story line was so damn predictable?

Why wasn’t I swept away by the quirkiness of “Rubber“?

Why was I so cold in front of that tragedy that was “Rabbit hole“?

Why couldn’t I just laugh watching “The Dilemma” while everybody else was in tears around me in the theatre?

Why couldn’t I just go with “The Adjustment Bureau“, instead of looking for all the plot holes?

Why wasn’t I enchanted by Submarine?

And why am I more terrorized than excited by the idea of the forthcoming Tintin movie by Spielberg (a director I love making a film about my ultimate childhood hero?) … Why am I so afraid I’ll be disappointed?

Am I growing old and just tired of movies or are there just fewer and fewer fresh good things our there?

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