The North Carolina Film Critics Honor La La Land!


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Okay, here’s one more precursor before I call it a night.  The North Carolina Film Critics have announced their picks for the best of 2016.  You can check out the nominees here and the winners below!

Best Narrative Film — La La Land

Best Documentary — OJ: Made in America

Best Animated Film — Zootopia

Best Foreign Language Film — The Handmaiden

Best Director — Damen Chazelle — La La Land

Best Special Effects — Doctor Strange

Best Actor — Casey Affleck, Manchester By The Sea

Best Supporting Actor — Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water

Best Actress — Emma Stone, La La Land

Best Supporting Actress — Viola Davis, Fences

Best Original Screenplay — Taylor Sheridan, Hell or High Water

Best Adapted Screenplay — Eric Heisserer, Arrival

Ken Hanke Memorial Tarheel Award — Jeff Nichols

 

The North Texas Critics Association Names La La Land The Best of 2016!


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I have to admit that I’m starting to reach the point that I always reach during Oscar season.  This is the point where I say, “How many different groups of critics are there!?”

Anyway, the North Texas Critics Association have announced their picks for the best of 2016!  There are my people (in that we all live in North Texas and probably make a lot of jokes about pasty yankee tourists coming down from the North and sweating like pigs) and they picked La La Land as the best of the year.  I’ll be seeing La La Land this weekend so I’ll let you know if they were right.

Best Film
1. La La Land
2. Manchester by the Sea
3. Moonlight
4. Hacksaw Ridge
5. Loving
6. Arrival
7. Captain Fantastic
8. Nocturnal Animals
9. Jackie
10. The Birth of a Nation

Best Director
1. Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
2. Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)
3. Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge)
4. Denis Villeneuve (Arrival)
5. Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea)

Best Actress
1. Natalie Portman (Jackie)
2. Emma Stone (La La Land)
3. Amy Adams (Arrival)
4. Emily Blunt (The Girl on the Train)
5. Ruth Negga (Loving)

Best Actor
1. Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)
2. Ryan Gosling (La La Land)
3. Denzel Washington (Fences)
4. Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge)
5. Don Cheadle (Miles Ahead)

Best Supporting Actress
1. Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea)
2. Viola Davis (Fences)
3. Naomie Harris (Moonlight)
4. Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures)
5. Janelle Monae (Hidden Figures)

Best Supporting Actor
1. Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals)
2. Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
3. Dev Patel (Lion)
4. Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water)
5. Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea)

Best Cinematography
1. Linus Sandgren (La La Land)
2. James Laxton (Moonlight)
3. Simon Duggan (Hacksaw Ridge)
4.  Bradford Young (Arrival)
5. Stephane Fontaine (Jackie)

Best Animated Film
1. Zootopia
2. Kubo and the Two Strings
3. Sing

Best Documentary
1. Gleason
2. 13th
3. Tower
4. Wiener
5. The Eagle Huntress

Best Foreign Language Film
1. Elle
2. The Handmaiden
3. Hunt for the Wilderpeople
4. The Salesman

5.  Toni Erdmann

Here Are The 2016 Nominations From The Casting Society of America!


The Academy really should give out an Oscar for Best Casting.  But until they do, we’ll just have to be happy with the annual nominations from the Casting Society of America!

Here are the 2016 nominations.  (It’s interesting to note that this is the third guild to nominate Deadpool.  How many heads would explode is Deadpool somehow landed a best picture nomination?  That probably won’t happen but the wild speculation is the best part of Oscar season!)

BIG BUDGET – COMEDY

  • Deadpool”  Ronna Kress, Jennifer Page (Location Casting), Corinne Clark  (Location Casting)
  • “Hail, Caesar!”  Ellen Chenoweth, Susanne Scheel (Associate)
  • “La La Land”  Deborah Aquila, Tricia Wood
  • “Rules Don’t Apply”  David Rubin, Melissa Pryor (Associate)
  • “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”  Bernard Telsey, Tiffany Little Canfield, Jo Edna Boldin (Location Casting), Conrad Woolfe (Associate), Marie A.K. McMaster (Associate)

BIG BUDGET – DRAMA

  • “Arrival”  Francine Maisler, Lucie Robitaille (Location Casting)
  • “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”   Fiona Weir, Jim Carnahan (Location Casting)
  • “Hidden Figures”  Victoria Thomas, Jackie Burch (Location Casting), Bonnie Grisan (Associate)
  • “Nocturnal Animals”  Francine Maisler
  • “The Girl on the Train”  Kerry Barden, Paul Schnee, Joey Montenarello (Associate), Adam Richards (Associate)

STUDIO OR INDEPENDENT – COMEDY

  • “20th Century Women”  Laura Rosenthal, Mark Bennett
  • “Bad Moms”  Cathy Sandrich Gelfond, Meagan Lewis (Location Casting)
  • “Café Society”  Juliet Taylor, Patricia DiCerto, Meghan Rafferty (Associate)
  • “Hell or High Water”  Richard Hicks, Jo Edna Boldin, Chris Redondo (Associate), Marie A.K. McMaster (Associate)
  • “The Edge of Seventeen”  Melissa Kostenbauder, Coreen Mayrs (Location Casting), Heike Brandstatter (Location Casting)

STUDIO OR INDEPENDENT – DRAMA

  • “Captain Fantastic”   Jeanne McCarthy, Angelique Midthunder (Location Casting), Amey Rene (Location Casting)
  • “Jackie”  Mary Vernieu, Lindsay Graham, Jessica Kelly (Location Casting)
  • “Lion”  Kirsty McGregor
  • “Loving”  Francine Maisler, Erica Arvold (Location Casting), Anne N. Chapman (Location Casting), Michelle Kelly (Associate)
  • “Manchester By the Sea”  Douglas Aibel, Carolyn Pickman (Location Casting), Henry Russell Bergstein (Associate)

LOW BUDGET – COMEDY OR DRAMA

  • “Christine”  Douglas Aibel, Stephanie Holbrook, Tracy Kilpatrick (Location Casting), Blair Foster (Associate)
  • “Goat”  Susan Shopmaker, D. Lynn Meyers (Location Casting)
  • “Hello, My Name is Doris”  Sunday Boling, Meg Morman
  • “Moonlight”  Yesi Ramirez
  • “White Girl”  Jessica Daniels

ANIMATION

  • “Finding Dory”  Kevin Reher, Natalie Lyon
  • “Moana”  Jamie Sparer Roberts, Rachel Sutton (Location Casting)
  • “The Jungle Book”  Sarah Halley Finn, Tamara Hunter (Associate)
  • “The Little Prince”  Sarah Halley Finn, Tamara Hunter (Associate)
  • “Zootopia”  Jamie Sparer Roberts

Here Are The ACE Eddie Nominations for 2016!


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The ACE awards are given out by the American Cinema Editors, in order to honor the best edited films of the year.  Since it’s rare that a film ever wins Best Picture without also getting, at the very least, a nomination for Best Editing, the Ace awards are kind of a big deal.

So, without any further ado, here are the ACE nominations!  Now, I’m only including the film nominations here.  If you want to see a full list of nominations (including the television nominations), check out this article at Awards Circuit.

BEST EDITED FEATURE FILM (DRAMATIC):

BEST EDITED FEATURE FILM (COMEDY):

BEST EDITED ANIMATED FEATURE FILM:

BEST EDITED DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE):

  • 13th
    Spencer Averick
  • Amanda Knox
    Matthew Hamachek
  • The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years
    Paul Crowder
  • O.J.: Made in America
    Bret Granato, Maya Mumma & Ben Sozanski
  • Weiner
    Eli B. Despres

Weiner_(film)

The Oklahoma Film Critics Circle Picks La La Land As the Best of 2016!


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The Oklahoma Film Critics Circle has announced their picks for the best of 2016!
Best Picture
La La Land
Best Director
Damien Chazelle – La La Land
Runner Up: Barry Jenkins – Moonlight
Best Actor
Casey Affleck – Manchester By The Sea
Runner Up: Denzel Washington – Fences
Best Actress
Amy Adams – Arrival
Runner Up: Emma Stone – La La Land
Best Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
Runner Up: Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals
Best Supporting Actress
Michelle Williams – Manchester By The Sea
Runner Up: Viola Davis – Fences
Best Animated Film
Zootopia
Runner: Kubo & The Two Strings
Best Documentary
OJ: Made In America
Runner Up: Weiner
Best Foreign Film
The Handmaiden
Runner Up: Elle
Best Ensemble
Manchester By The Sea
Runner Up: Moonlight
Best First Feature
The Witch
Runner Up: The Edge Of Seventeen
Best Original Screenplay
Manchester By The Sea
Runner Up: Hell Or High Water
Best Adapted Screenplay
Arrival
Runner Up: Moonlight
Best Body of Work
Amy Adams
Runner Up: Michael Shannon
Top 10 Films
La La Land
Moonlight
Manchester By The Sea
OJ: Made In America
Arrival
Hell Or High Water
Jackie
Green Room
Kubo & The Two Strings
Sing Street

The Online Film Critics Society Declares Moonlight To Be The Best


moonlight

The Online Film Critics Society announced their picks for the best of 2016 yesterday!  You can check out the nominees here and the winners below!

Best Picture — Moonlight

Best Animated Feature — Kubo and the Two Strings

Best Director — Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Best Actor — Casey Affleck, Manchester By The Sea

Best Actress — Natalie Portman, Jackie

Best Supporting Actor — Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Best Supporting Actress — Naomie Harris, Moonlight

Best Original Screenplay — Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan

Best Adapted Screenplay — Arrival, Eric Heisserer

Best Editing — La La Land, Tom Cross

Best Cinematography — La La Land, Linus Sandgren

Best Film Not In The English Language — The Handmaiden

Best Documentary — OJ: Made in America

 

The Precursors Continue! Here are the WGA Nominations!


Deadpool

Now that the holidays are over, it’s time to get back to Oscar season!

The guilds have started to announce their nominees for the best of 2016 and since the guilds, unlike the various critic groups, include people who actually vote for the Oscars, they are usually pretty useful as far as predictive tool.

So, with that in mind, here are the nominations of the Writers Guild of America!

(The big surprise?  Deadpool — which has actually gotten a lot of unexpected attention during Oscar season — landed a nomination.)

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Hell or High Water, Written by Taylor Sheridan; CBS Films

La La Land, Written by Damien Chazelle; Lionsgate

Loving, Written by Jeff Nichols; Focus Features

Manchester by the Sea, Written by Kenneth Lonergan; Amazon Studios/Roadside Attractions

Moonlight, Written by Barry Jenkins, Story by Tarell McCraney; A24

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Arrival, Screenplay by Eric Heisserer; Based on the Story “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang; Paramount Pictures

Deadpool, Written by Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick; Based on the X-Men Comic Books; Twentieth Century Fox Film

Fences, Screenplay by August Wilson; Based on his Play; Paramount Pictures

Hidden Figures, Screenplay by Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi; Based on the Book by Margot Lee Shetterly; Twentieth Century Fox Film

Nocturnal Animals, Screenplay by Tom Ford; Based on the Novel Tony and Susan by Austin Wright; Focus Features

DOCUMENTARY SCREENPLAY

Author: The JT LeRoy Story, Written by Jeff Feuerzeig; Amazon Studios

Command and Control, Telescript by Robert Kenner and Eric Schlosser, Story by Brian Pearle and Kim Roberts; Based on the book Command and Control by Eric Schlosser; American Experience Films

Zero Days, Written by Alex Gibney; Magnolia Pictures

Playing Catch-Up: Manchester By The Sea (dir by Kenneth Lonergan)


manchester-by-the-sea-sundance-2016

Manchester By The Sea is the latest Oscar contender to be set in Massachusetts.  I’m not exactly sure why but it appears that if you want your film to get some sort of Oscar consideration, it’s always good idea to set it some place in New England.

Consider some of the films nominated for Best Picture since the 1992:

1992′ Scent of a Woman featured a New England prep school.

1994’s The Shawshank Redemption took place in Maine.

1997’s Good Will Hunting took place in Boston.

1999’s The Cider House Rules was set in Maine.

2001’s In The Bedroom took place in Maine.

2003’s Mystic River was set in Boston.

The 2006 winner The Departed was also a Boston-set film.

2010’s The Fighter also set in Boston.  For that matter, The Social Network started at Harvard.

2013’s Captain Phillips featured Tom Hanks speaking with Boston accent.

And, finally, last year’s Spotlight was as much a celebration of Boston as anything else.

As of this writing, it appears that Manchester By The Sea will continue the long tradition of New England-set films being nominated for best picture.  Interestingly, of all those films, Manchester By The Sea is probably the most low-key.  Though it’s a film that deals with death, it’s a natural death as opposed to the violent executions that dominated The Departed and Mystic River.  And though there are two bar fights, there’s very little violence to be found in Manchester By The Sea.  As opposed to Spotlight, Manchester By The Sea is not about moral crusaders battling against the corrupt establishment.

Instead, it’s the story of an intelligent but irresponsible man named Lee Chadler (Casey Affleck).  When Lee was a young man living in the town of Manchester-By-The-Sea, he was someone.  He was a high school hockey star.  He made an okay living, he had a lot of friends, and he was very close to his older brother, Joe (Kyle Chandler).  He was married to Randi (Michelle Williams) and he had two daughters.

And then he lost everything.  He lost his daughters, through a stupid accident for which he blamed himself.  Randi divorced him.  His friends abandoned him.  The only thing that prevented him from shooting himself was the intervention of Joe.  Lee eventually ended up in Quincy, Massachusetts, working as a maintenance man and keeping to himself.

And that’s probably what Lee would have done his entire life, if Joe hadn’t died.  Lee returns to Manchester-By-The-Sea and, to his shock, he discovers that he’s been named the guardian of Joe’s sixteen year-old son, Patrick (Lucas Hedges).  Still struggling with his own feelings of guilt, Lee now finds himself thrust into the role of being a father.

Patrick, of course, doesn’t think he needs a guardian and sometimes, it almost seems as if Patrick might be right.  At times, it’s hard not to feel that Patrick is a hundred times more mature than his uncle but occasionally, Patrick’s grown-up mask will slip.  When he learns that his father cannot be buried until the spring and the body will be kept in a freezer, Patrick stays calm until he opens up the freezer at home.  That’s when the reality of it all hits him and it’s an amazingly powerful moment.

Manchester By The Sea is not an easy film to describe.  There’s not much of a plot.  Instead, it’s just a portrait of people living from day-to-day, trying to juggle handling tragedy with handling everyday life.  Conditioned by previous films, audiences watch something like Manchester By The Sea and wait for some gigantic dramatic moment that will magically make sense of the human condition but, by design, that moment never comes.  That’s not what Manchester By The Sea is about.  If there is any great lesson to be found in Manchester By The Sea, it’s that life goes on.

Despite being full of funny lines, it’s a sad film but fortunately, it’s also a well-acted one.  I have to admit that I’m not as crazy about Manchester By The Sea as some of the critics who are currently declaring Manchester to be the best film of 2016 are but I can’t disagree with those who have praised Casey Affleck’s lead performance.  Lucas Hedges also does a good job as Patrick and Michelle Williams gets one revelatory scene in which she happens to randomly run into her ex-husband on the street.

As I said, I liked Manchester By The Sea but I didn’t quite love it.  It’s a well-made and well-acted film and, if it’s not as brilliant as some have claimed, it’s still worthy of respect.

Playing Catch-Up: The Nice Guys (dir by Shane Black)


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Last night, along with seeing Trainspotting at the Alamo Drafthouse and watching The BFG at home, I also rewatched The Nice Guys.

Now, I saw The Nice Guys when it was first released last May and I absolutely loved it.  However, before I started rewatching it, I was a little worried .  I remembered that The Nice Guys was a stylish and often hilarious action film, one that featured a great comedic turn from Ryan Gosling and a performance from Russell Crowe that showed why he deserves to make a comeback as a leading man.  I also remembered that, for all of its graphic violence and often profane dialogue, The Nice Guys was also an unexpectedly sweet-natured movie.  I loved not only the rapport shared between Gosling and Crowe but also the relationship between Gosling and Angourie Rice, the actress playing his daughter.  In fact, I remembered enjoying The Nice Guys so much that I was worried that it wouldn’t hold up to a second viewing.

It often happens when you love a film the first time that you see it.  On a second viewing, you start to notice all the little flaws that you didn’t notice the first time.  Lines that you remembered as being brilliant are no longer impressive, largely because you know they’re coming.  All too often, the films that blow you away fail to hold up over time.

(Anyone tried to rewatch Inherent Vice lately?)

But you know what?

The Nice Guys is not one of those films.  I watched the film for a second time and I loved it even more than the first time.

The Nice Guys takes place in Los Angeles in 1977.  It’s a time of wide lapels, leisure suits, tacky interior design, porno chic, and concerns that the L.A. air is so full of smog that not even bumble bees are willing to fly around in it.  Ryan Gosling is Holland March, a well-meaning if somewhat sleazy private investigator who has been hired to track down a porn star named Misty Mountains.  Of course, Holland know that Misty is dead.  Everyone knows that she’s dead.  She died in a car crash, one that made all the headlines.  But Misty’s aunt swears that she saw Misty after Misty’s supposed death.

Holland thinks that Misty’s aunt may have mistaken her niece for Amelia Kutner (Margaret Qualley), the daughter of Judith Kutner (Kim Basinger, whose presence is meant to remind audiences of L.A. Confidential), an official at the Justice Department who has been leading a crusade against pornography.  Holland starts to search for Amelia which leads to Amelia paying Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) to intimidate Holland.

Who is Jackson Healy?  Well, he’s not a licensed private investigator, though he’d certainly like to be.  Instead, he’s a professional enforcer.  If you pay him enough money, he’ll beat people up for you.  Usually, he beats up stalkers and ex-boyfriends.  When he discovers that Holland is a private investigator, Jackson is intrigued.  Jackson would like to be a private investigator.  Of course, that doesn’t stop Jackson from breaking Holland’s arm.  Jackson’s a professional, after all.  As Jackson leaves Holland’s house, he runs into Holly (Angourie Rice), Holland’s twelve year-old daughter.  She gives him a bottle of Yoohoo.

Later, Jackson is confronted by two men.  Keith David plays Older Guy and he’s intimidating because he’s Keith David.  His partner is a giggly sociopath played by Beau Knapp.  For reasons that are too much fun for me to spoil, he is known as Blue Face.  The two men demand to know where Amelia is.  After Jackson manages to chase them off with a shotgun, he teams up with Holland to try to track down Amelia and find out what’s going on…

Got all that?

The mystery — which eventually expands to involve everything from porn to political protest to the Detroit auto industry — is deliberately and overly complex but at the same time, it’s actually rather clever.  And, as I can now say after rewatching the film, it actually holds up quite well.  But, to be honest, the mystery is not as important as the whip smart dialogue, the frequently over the top action, and the chemistry between Gosling, Crowe, and Rice.  As good as the action may be, the film’s best scenes are simply the ones that feature the three leads talking to each other.

(Upon discovering that Jackson both broke her father’s arm and that he beats people up for a living, Holly immediately asks how much it would cost to have one of her friends beat up.)

And you know what?  As played by Gosling and Crowe, they really are the nice guys.  Holland tries to be cynical but, for the most part, he’s just an overprotective father.  Jackson may beat people up for a living but he’s not a sadist.  He’s a lot like the film, violent but with a good heart.

The Nice Guys is full of wonderful set pieces, like when Gosling, Crowe, and Rice infiltrate a sleazy 70s party or the film’s explosive finale.  For me though, I love the little details and the quieter moments.  I love the fact that even one of the worst people in the movie responds postively to having someone innocently hold his hand.

(I also love that Matt Bomer shows up, playing a totally terrifying hitman.  It’s a small role but Bomer does so much with it.)

It’s a shame that The Nice Guys came out as early in the year as it did.  It’s also a shame that it didn’t do better at the box office.  The Oscars could use a little action and a little comedy this year, don’t you think?

A Movie A Day #4: The Glory Boys (1984, directed by Michael Ferguson)


glory-boysProfessor David Sokarev (Rod Steiger) is a nuclear physicist who is scheduled to give a lecture in London.  When he is informed by Mossad that a Palestinian splinter group is planning on assassinating him, Sokarev wants to cancel his trip.  However, the Israeli government insists that he go to London and put his life in danger.  To do otherwise would only serve to embolden the terrorists.  Accompanied by two Mossad bodyguards, Sokarev reluctantly leaves for London.

Three Palestinians are intercepted as they attempt to sneak into England.  Two of them are killed but the youngest, Famy (Gary Brown), survives and makes his way to London.  He meets up with McCoy (Aaron Harris), a world-weary member of the Irish Republican Army.  Though McCoy would rather just spend his time with his innocent girlfriend, Norah (Sallyanne Law),  he has agreed to help the Palestinians but is shocked to discover that Famy is so inexperienced that he doesn’t even know how to drive.

The head of MI5, Mr. Jones (Alfred Burke), is tasked with keeping Prof. Sokarev safe.  He recruits Jimmy (Anthony Perkins), a retired agent.  Jimmy once saved Jones’s life but now he is an alcoholic and is considered to be unpredictable and insubordinate.  Once Jimmy comes out of retirement, Jones worries that Jimmy is so obsessed with violence that he’s willing to use Sokarev as bait to draw out the terrorists.

The Glory Boys was originally a three-part miniseries that was made for Yorkshire Television.  It was later re-edited into a 104 minute movie that was released in the United States.  Even late into the 1990s, it was not unusual to come across the edited version of The Glory Boys on late night television.  Based on a novel by Gerald Seymour, The Glory Boys holds up well and the issues that it raises, about how far the government should go to battle terrorism, remain relevant today.  Rod Steiger brings a lot of dignity to the role of Sokarev and Joanna Lumley has a small role as Jimmy’s girlfriend.  But ultimately, the main reason to see The Glory Boys is because of the strange casting of Psycho‘s Anthony Perkins as a British intelligence agent.  Perkins’s accent is dodgy but his jittery persona works surprisingly well for the role.  Jimmy (Is the name meant to be a swipe at the infallible persona of James Bond?) is ruthless, paranoid, and possibly sociopathic, which makes him perfect for intelligence work but worthless for almost every thing else.

For tomorrow’s movie a day, Anthony Perkins returns in another British spy film, ffolkes.

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