Lisa’s Too Early Oscar Predictions For February


Oscars

Well, it’s that time again!

Every month this year, I am updating my predictions for which films and performers will be nominated for Oscars in 2018.  At this point in the year, this is largely an academic exercise.  The nominees below are a mix of wild guesses, instinctual feeling, and wishful thinking.  Usually, a clear picture of the Oscar race doesn’t start to form until October at the earliest.  (Last year, at this time, nobody had even heard of Moonlight or Hell or High Water.)  In other words, take these predictions with a grain of salt.

This update is heavily influenced by what happened at the Sundance Film Festival last month.  In fact, it’s probably a bit too influenced by Sundance.  If these predictions turned out to be 100% correct, the 2018 Oscars would be the Sundance Oscars.  That said, it seems that there’s always a few successful Oscar campaigns that start during Sundance.  (And then there’s always a few Sundance sensations that totally fizzle during awards season.  Birth of a Nation, anyone?  Or perhaps The End of the Tour.)  But, as of right now, Sundance is pretty much the only thing that we have to go on, as far as future Oscar contenders are concerned.

Again, take all of this with a grain of salt.  Just because I may brag about knowing what I’m talking about, that doesn’t necessarily mean that I do.

Check out January’s predictions here! 

And without further ado…

Mudbound

Mudbound

Best Picture

Battle of the Sexes

The Beguiled

The Big Sick

Blade Runner 2047

Call Me By Your Name

Darkest Hour

Downsizing

Dunkirk

Mudbound

The big additions here are Mudbound, The Big Sick, and Call Me By Your Name, all three of which got a lot of attention and acclaim at Sundance.  Both Mudbound and Call Me By Your Name are already being mentioned, by some Oscar bloggers, as possible winners for best picture.  The Big Sick may seem like more of a dark horse but, from what I’ve read, it sounds like the sort of movie that could emerge as a surprise contender.  With its Muslim protagonist and its mix of comedy and drama, it sounds like it could catch the cultural zeitgeist.

Dropping from the list: T2, All Eyez On Me, and War Machine.  T2 has gotten good but not great reviews in the UK.  As for All Eyez on Me and War Machine — well, it’s just a feeling I have.  Both of them could be good but it’s easier to imagine a scenario in which they’re both disappointments.

Best Director

Luca Guadagnino for Call Me By Your Name

Christopher Nolan for Dunkirk

Alexander Payne for Downsizing

Dee Rees for Mudbound

Denis Villeneuve for Blade Runner 2047

Guadagnino and Rees are new contenders.  Rees would be the first black woman ever nominated for best director.

Best Actor

Chadwick Boseman in Marshall

Timothée Chalamet in Call Me By Your Name

Tom Cruise in American Made

Kumail Nanjiani in The Big Sick

Gary Oldman in Darkest Hour

I’m a little bit iffy on Chadwick Boseman.  In Marshall, he will be playing Thurgood Marshall, which sounds like a good, Oscar baity role.  But Marshall itself sounds like a rather standard biopic.  Timothee Chalamet and, especially, Kumail Nanjiani received a lot of Sundance acclaim.  The fact that Nanjiani has been outspoken in his opposition to Trump’s travel ban will probably help his chances.

Sundance was also responsible for Logan Lerman falling off this list.  Sidney Hall got terrible reviews.

Best Actress

Judi Dench in Victoria and Abdul

Danielle MacDonald in Patti Cake$

Carey Mulligan in Mudbound

Lois Smith in Marjorie Prime

Emma Stone in Battle of the Sexes

Among the new additions, Danielle MacDonald was one of the break-out stars at Sundance.  Carey Mulligan is due to get another nomination (and Mudbound is expected to be a major Oscar contender).  As for Lois Smith, she’s a respected veteran actress who gets to play a rare lead role in Marjorie Prime.  So, why not a nomination?

Best Supporting Actor

James Franco in The Masterpiece

Armie Hammer in Call Me By Your Name

Jason Mitchell in Mudbound

Bill Skarsgard in It

Michael Stuhlbarg in Call Me By Your Name

I’m continuing to predict a nomination for James Franco and yes, it probably is just wishful thinking on my part.  But dammit, I just like the idea of Franco getting a nomination for playing Tommy Wiseau.

Skarsgard is probably wishful thinking as well.  If It works, it will be because of Skarsgard’s performance as Pennywise.

Finally, Hammer, Mitchell, and Stuhlbarg are our Sundance nominees.  Many people think that all three are overdue for some Academy recognition.  (There’s some debate over whether Hammer should go supporting or lead for Call Me By Your Name.  I’m going to assume that he’s going to pull a Viola Davis and go supporting.)

Best Supporting Actress

Mary J. Blige in Mudbound

Holly Hunter in The Big Sick

Melissa Leo in Novitiate 

Kristin Scott Thomas in Darkest Hour

Tilda Swinton in War Machine

As always, this is the most difficult category to predict.  Blige, Hunter, and Leo are all Sundance nominees.  (Hunter is especially said to be award-worthy in her Big Sick role.)  For the second month in a row, Scott Thomas and Swinton are listed more because of who they are than any other reason.

The Big Sick

The Big Sick

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Film Review: Suffragette (dir by Sarah Gavron)


Suffragette_poster

It’s funny (or perhaps not) when you think about it.  I’ve always taken my right to vote (and, in theory at least, have some say over how I’m governed) for granted.  Even before I turned 18 and officially registered, I never had any doubt that, some day, I would be able to vote for President and every other elected office.  (And, even before that, I voted in student council and mock presidential elections.)  Voting is something that I so take for granted that, even when I cast my first official vote in the 2004 Presidential election, it didn’t really mean much to me.  Given the choice between Bush and Kerry, I wrote in the name of Charles Jay, the candidate of the Personal Choice Party.  I knew nothing about Mr. Jay but I had come across his name online and I liked the idea of personal choice and I thought it would make for a funny story to tell all of my friends who were actually taking the election seriously.  (Even back then, I enjoyed annoying people who actually cared.)  Essentially, I threw my vote away and I did it without a second thought.

Of course, what I didn’t understand at that time was that the right to vote was something that many brave women had fought for, gone to prison for, and even died for.  If I had lived before 1920, I would not have had the right to vote and I certainly would not have had the opportunity to so casually toss my vote away.  Women in the U.S. did not win the right to vote until 1920.  But before everyone starts in with the usual “America is so backwards!” crap, consider this.  In Britain, women did not win the right to vote until 1928.  Women could not vote in France until 1944 and Switzerland waited until 1984!  Last year, women in Saudi Arabia voted for the first time.

The struggle of British women to gain equal rights under the law is the subject of the film Suffragette.  Maud Watts (played by Carey Mulligan, my generation’s Audrey Hepburn) is a laundress living in London in 1912.  She spends her day working for little money and for a male boss who, for years, has sexually harassed and abused the women working under him.  Unlike a lot of the women who work at the laundry, Maud has a stable home life.  She is a devoted mother and her husband, Sonny (Ben Whishaw), is supportive.

Or, at least, he seems to be at first.  Things chance once Maud gets involved in the suffragette movement.  It’s not just that her lecherous boss laughs at her for wanting to be treated equally,  That, we expect.  No, what is truly infuriating is to watch how quickly Sonny goes from being a loving husband to a monster, the type who forbids Maud from seeing her own son and then callously puts the boy up for adoption.  Confronted by his wife’s demand to be treated as his equal, Sonny reveals himself to be no better than the casual misogynists that Maud must deal with, on a daily basis, at work.  Raised on a diet of films where men come to their senses and justice (and love) somehow prevails, I kept expecting Sonny to see the error of his ways or for Maud to at least be reunited with her son.  Needless to say, none of that happened.  This is a film that never lets us forget the sacrifice involved in fighting for equal rights.

Instead, having lost everything that previously defined her life, Maud throws herself into the battle for women’s rights.  And, as Suffragette makes clear, that meant a lot more than just winning the right to vote.

It’s an inspiring story and both Carey Mulligan and Helena Bonham-Carter (who plays another suffragette) give powerful performances.  At the same time — and this is something that many critics need to understand and acknowledge — you can love a film for what it has to say while, at the same time, acknowledging that it doesn’t totally work as a piece of cinema.  Suffragette is not a perfect film and reviewing it, I found myself torn between praising the film’s message and criticizing director Sarah Gavron’s frequently uninspired cinematic technique.  (From a strictly cinematic point of view, Suffragette will play better on television than on a big movie screen.)

Perhaps for me, the film’s great weakness was casting Meryl Streep in the role of real-life activist Emmeline Pankhurst.  Ms. Pankhurst was the leader of the Suffragette movement and is an inspiring historical figure.  Unfortunately, as soon as Meryl shows up for her four-minute cameo, it becomes impossible to see her as being anyone other than Meryl Streep, a wealthy white woman who — unlike the real-life Ms. Pankhurst — will never be sent to prison for demanding the right to vote.  When Meryl shows up as Ms. Pankhurst, it takes the viewer out of the historical reality of the film.  You’re no longer watching a group of brave women risking their lives and demanding to be treated equally under the law.  Instead, you’re just watching a Meryl Streep cameo.

Throughout the film, Maud stays in a succession of safe houses and decrepit offices.  She always has a picture of Ms. Pankhurst near her and occasionally, she looks to it for strength and guidance.  However, since the picture of Ms. Pankhurst is really just a picture of Meryl Streep, it again serves to take the viewer out of the film.  Perhaps if Meryl Streep had more screen time, she would be able to get us to think of her as being Ms. Pankhurst but since she’s only onscreen for four minutes, she instead just serves to distract from the film’s message.

(Personally, I would have cast either Emma Thompson and Kristin Scott Thomas in the role of Ms. Pankhurst, two great actresses who would could have portrayed her charisma without being quite as distracting as Meryl Streep.)

As I said earlier, Suffragette is not a perfect film but it does teach an important lesson that needs to be learned, especially by those of us who occasionally take our rights for granted.  It’s a film that reminds us that years ago, brave women fought for everything that we have now and it’s a film that encourages us to keep fighting.  It’s not a perfect film but it’s a film that deserves to be seen.

Remember Suffragette? The Women’s Film Critics Circle Certainly Does!


The Women’s Film Critics Circle have announced their picks for the best of 2015.  After starting out as one of those films that everyone expected to be a major contender, Suffragette has faded somewhat as an awards contender.  However, regardless of what the Academy may or may not do, Suffragette has been embraced by the Women’s Film Critics Circle.

Check out the winners below.  Also, check out all the categories!  Why can’t the Oscars be this much fun?

Best Actor
Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)

Best Actress
Carey Mulligan (Suffragette)

Best Movie about Women
Suffragette

Best Movie by a Woman
Suffragette

Best Young Actress
Brie Larson (Room)

Best Comedic Actress
Amy Schumer (Trainwreck)

Best Woman Storyteller (Screenwriting Award)
Phyllis Nagy (Carol)

Women’s Work / Best Ensemble
Suffragette

Best Foreign Film by or about Women
The Second Mother

Best Theatrically Unreleased Movie by or about Women
Bessie

Best Female Images in a Movie
Suffragette

Best Male Images in a Movie
Bridge of Spies

Worst Female Images in a Movie
Jurassic World

Worst Male Images in a Movie
Steve Jobs

Best Family Film
Inside Out

Best Documentary by or about Women
Amy

Best Female Action Hero
Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road)

Best Animated Female
Amy Poehler (Inside Out)

Best Screen Couple
Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling (45 Years)
Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay (Room)

Best Equality of the Sexes
Mad Max: Fury Road

Courage in Filmmaking
Sarah Gavron (Suffragette)

Courage in Acting (taking on unconventional roles that radically redefine the images of women on screen)
Brie Larson (Room)

Acting and Activism Award
Olivia Wilde

The Invisible Woman Award (performance by a woman whose exceptional impact on the film dramatically, socially or historically, has been ignored)
Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)

Adrienne Shelly Award (for a film that most passionately opposes violence against women)
He Named Me Malala

Josephine Baker Award (for best expressing the woman of colour experience in America)
What Happened, Miss Simone?

Karen Morley Award (for best exemplifying a woman’s place in history or society, and a courageous search for identity)
Suffragette

Lifetime Achievement Award
Lily Tomlin

Mommie Dearest Worst Screen Mom of the Year Award
Cate Blanchett (Cinderella)

For Whatever They’re Worth, Here are The Satellite Awards Nominees!


Sicario_poster

The International Press Academy has announced the nominees for the Satellite Awards!  Who are the International Press Academy?  They’re kind of like an even less credible version of the Golden Globes.  They’re also the same people who, last year, nominated The Wolf of Wall Street for five awards, despite having not seen the film.  I would suggest viewing these nominations more as a guide to conventional wisdom than anything else.

Motion Picture
Spotlight, Open Road
Sicario, Lionsgate
Room, A24
The Revenant, 20th Century Fox
The Martian, 20th Century Fox
Carol, The Weinstein Co.
Brooklyn, Fox Searchlight
Bridge of Spies, DreamWorks
Black Mass, Warner Bros.
The Big Short, Paramount

Director
Tom Hooper, The Danish Girl
Thomas McCarthy, Spotlight
Steven Spielberg, Bridge of Spies
Ridley Scott, The Martian
Lenny Abrahamson, Room
Alejandro González Iñárritu, The Revenant

Actress in a Motion Picture
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years
Cate Blanchett, Carol
Carey Mulligan, Suffragette
Brie Larson, Room
Blythe Danner, I’ll See You in My Dreams

Actor in a Motion Picture
Will Smith, Concussion
Tom Hardy, Legend
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Matt Damon, The Martian
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Johnny Depp, Black Mass
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

Actress in a Supporting Role
Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
Rooney Mara, Carol
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs
Jane Fonda, Youth
Elizabeth Banks, Love & Mercy
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl

Actor in a Supporting Role
Sylvester Stallone, Creed
Paul Dano, Love & Mercy
Michael Keaton, Spotlight
Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
Christian Bale, The Big Short
Benicio Del Toro, Sicario

Motion Picture, International Film
South Korea, The Throne
Brazil, The Second Mother
Croatia, The High Sun
Belgium, The Brand New Testament
Taiwan, The Assassin
Hungary, Son of Saul
France, Mustang
Germany, Labyrinth of Lies
Austria, Goodnight Mommy
Sweden, A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence

Motion Picture, Animated or Mixed Media
The Prophet
The Peanuts Movie
The Good Dinosaur
Shaun The Sheep Movie
Inside Out
Anomalisa

Motion Picture, Documentary
Where to Invade Next
The Look of Silence
The Hunting Ground
He Named Me Malala
Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief
Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead:The Story of the National Lampoon
Cartel Land
Best of Enemies
Becoming Bulletproof
Amy

Screenplay, Original
Josh Singer, Thomas McCarthy, Spotlight
Michael A. Lerner, Oren Moverman, Love & Mercy
Josh Cooley, Meg LeFauve, Pete Docter, Inside Out
Andrea Berloff, Jonathan Herman, Straight Outta Compton
Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Matt Charman, Bridge of Spies
Abi Morgan, Suffragette

Screenplay, Adapted
Jez Butterworth, Mark Mallouk, Black Mass
Lucinda Coxon, The Danish Girl
Emma Donoghue, Room
Drew Goddard, The Martian
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Mark L. Smith, The Revenant
Aaron Sorkin, Steve Jobs

Original Score
Thomas Newman, Spectre
Michael Giacchino, Inside Out
Howard Shore, Spotlight
Harry Gregson-Williams, The Martian
Carter Burwell, Carol
Alexander Desplat, The Danish Girl

Original Song
“Writing’s On The Wall”, Spectre
“Till It Happens To You”, The Hunting Ground
“See You Again”, Furious 7
“One Kind Of Love”, Love & Mercy
“Love Me Like You Do”, Fifty Shades of Grey
“Cold One”, Ricki and the Flash

Cinematography
Roger Deakins, Sicario
John Seale, Mad Max: Fury Road
Hoyte Van Hoytema, Spectre
Dariuz Wolski, The Martian
Emmanuel Lubezki, The Revenant

Visual Effects
Spectre
The Walk
The Martian
Mad Max: Fury Road
Jurassic World
Everest

Film Editing
Pietro Scalia, The Martian
Joe Walker, Sicario
Michael Kahn, Bridge of Spies
Lee Smith, Spectre
Elliot Graham, Steve Jobs
Affonso Goncalves, Carol

Sound (Editing and Mixing)
The Martian
Spectre
Sicario
Inside Out
Mad Max: Fury Road
Jurassic World

Art Direction and Production Design
Fiona Crombie, Macbeth
Eve Stewart, The Danish Girl
Dennis Gassner, Spectre
Dante Ferretti, Cinderella
Colin Gibson, Mad Max: Fury Road,
Adam Stockhausen, Bridge of Spies

Costume Design
Wen-Ying Huang, The Assassin
Shim Hyun-seob, The Throne
Sandy Powell, Cinderella
Paco Delgado, The Danish Girl
Janet Patterson, Far From the Madding Crowd
Jacqueline Durran, Macbeth

Ensemble: Motion Picture
Spotlight

Sicario

At least these nominations gave me an excuse to drag out some Sicaro-related media.

Lisa’s Oscar Predictions for November!


oscar trailer kitties

Have you heard the news?  Apparently, Steve Jobs is shaping up to the be one of the biggest box office bombs of all time!  Over this past weekend, it went from playing in 2,000 theaters to playing in 424.

Myself, I have to wonder why anyone thought Steve Jobs was going to be a huge financial success in the first place.  Isn’t this the third Steve Jobs biopic to be released in as many years?  None of them have made in money.  It may be time for people of a certain age and certain economic class to admit that not everyone is as fascinated by Steve Jobs as they are.  I haven’t seen Steve Jobs yet so I better get out to a theater this week or else I’ll have to see it in a dollar theater and I always seem to have a bad experience at those places.  In the mean time, be sure to check out Leonard’s review!

Anyway, with Steve Jobs crashing and burning, I’m dropping it from my list of Oscar predictions.  Sorry, Steve Jobs.  Sorry, Danny Boyle and Kate Winslet.  Don’t worry, Michael Fassbender — you’re still on my list.

Anyway, here are my Oscar predictions for November.  Be sure to also check out my predictions for January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, and October!

The_Martian_film_poster

Best Picture

Bridge of Spies

Brooklyn

Carol

The Danish Girl

Joy

Love & Mercy

The Martian

The Revenant 

Room

Spotlight

Best Director

Lenny Abrahamson for Room

Todd Haynes for Carol

Alejandro G. Inarritu for The Revenant

Thomas McCarthy for Spotlight

Ridley Scott for The Martian

Best Actor

Matt Damon in The Martin

Johnny Depp in Black Mass

Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant

Michael Fassbender in Steve Jobs

Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett in Carol

Brie Larson in Room

Jennifer Lawrence in Joy

Carey Mulligan in Suffragette

Saiorse Ronan in Brooklyn

Best Supporting Actor

Paul Dano in Love & Mercy

Robert De Niro in Joy

Benicio Del Toro in Sicario

Idris Elba in Beasts of No Nation

Mark Rylance in Bridge of Spies

Best Supporting Actress

Joan Allen in Room

Elizabeth Banks in Love & Mercy

Jane Fonda in Youth

Rooney Mara in Carol

Alicia Vikander in The Danish Girl

mara_blanchett_carol

Here Are The Winners of The 2015 Hollywood Film Awards, Whatever The Hell Those Are.


The_Martian_film_poster

Oh my God, y’all — the Hollywood Film Awards were held on Sunday and a bunch of potential Oscar contenders were honored!  Which all leads to one very important question:

What the Hell are the Hollywood Film Awards?

As I pondered that question, I realized that I had vague memories of sitting through the Hollywood Film Awards last year.  The ceremony was broadcast on CBS and it was distinguished from other awards shows in that there were no nominees.  Instead, only the winners were announced.  It was so amazingly dull and I can remember watching it and thinking, “Awards season has finally jumped the shark.”

(And this was even before Sasha Stone and Jeff Wells had their annual breakdowns…)

Anyway, the Hollywood Film Awards for 2015 were given out on Sunday and I’m assuming they weren’t televised.  (I was busy watching A Student’s Obsession anyway…)  You can find the winners below.  For the most part, it’s a pretty boring list (and why give out awards in November?) but it does allow us an early glimpse into some of the films and performers that are contending for Oscar gold.

Here’s the list.  Along with a gif of a kitty showing just how excited he is over Awards Season…

YAY! AWARDS! I'M SO EXCITED..I'M SO EXCITING...I'M SO ... SCARED!"

“YAY! AWARDS! I’M SO EXCITED..I’M SO EXCITED… I’M SO … SCARED!”

Career Achievement Award presented to Robert De Niro by David O. Russell.

Producer Award presented to Ridley Scott (“The Martian) by Russell Crowe.

Director Award presented to Tom Hooper (“The Danish Girl”) by Amber Heard.

Actor Award presented to Will Smith (“Concussion”) by Jamie Foxx.

Actress Award presented to Carey Mulligan (“Suffragette”) by Jake Gyllenhaal.

Supporting Actor Award presented to Benicio Del Toro (“Sicario”) by Reese Witherspoon.

Supporting Actress Award presented to Jane Fonda (“Youth”) by Laura Dern.

Breakout Actor Award presented to Joel Edgerton (“Black Mass”) by Johnny Depp, Dakota Johnson.

Breakout Actress Award presented to Alicia Vikander (“The Danish Girl”) by Armie Hammer.

New Hollywood Award presented to Saoirse Ronan (“Brooklyn”) by Ryan Gosling.

Ensemble Award presented to “The Hateful Eight” by Quentin Tarantino.

Breakout Ensemble Award presented to “Straight Outta Compton” by Ice Cube.

Comedy Award presented to Amy Schumer (“Trainwreck”) by Selena Gomez.

Breakthrough Director Award presented to Adam McKay (“The Big Short”) by Steve Carell.

Screenwriter Award presented to Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer (“Spotlight”) by Mark Ruffalo.

Blockbuster Award presented to “Furious 7” by Kurt Russell.

Song Award presented to “Furious 7” (“See You Again”) by Vin Diesel.

Animation Award presented to Pete Docter (“Inside Out”) by Amy Poehler.

Cinematography Award presented to Janusz Kaminski (“Bridge of Spies”).

Composer Award presented to Alexandre Desplat (“The Danish Girl,” “Suffragette”).

Documentary Award presented to Asif Kapadia (“Amy”).

Editor Award presented to David Rosenbloom (“Black Mass”).

Visual Effects Award presented to Tim Alexander (“Jurassic World”).

Sound Award presented to Gary Rydstrom (“Bridge of Spies”).

Costume Design Award presented to Sandy Powell (“Cinderella”).

Make-Up and Hair Styling Award presented to Lesley Vanderwalt (“Mad Max: Fury Road”).

Production Design Award presented to Colin Gibson (“Mad Max: Fury Road“).

"Yawn. These awards are boring..."

“Yawn. These awards are predictable and boring.  You disappoint me…”

Embracing the Melodrama Part II #117: Never Let Me Go (dir by Mark Romanek)


NeverletmegoposterquadI can still remember, back in the year 2010, when I first saw Never Let Me Go at the Dallas Angelika.  Going into the film, I didn’t really know what was waiting for me.  I hadn’t read the novel that it was based on.  All I knew was that it had a cool trailer and it starred two of my favorite actresses, Carey Mulligan and Keira Knightley.  Before I watched Never Let Me Go, I didn’t even know who Andrew Garfield was but that changed quickly.  Never Let Me Go took me by surprise.  I figured it would be a sad movie, based on the melancholy trailer and title.  But I had no idea how sad or effective it would be.  By the end of the movie, I was in tears.

And, even though I was already writing for this site at the time, I somehow never wrote up a review of Never Let Me Go.  Oh, I certainly meant to.  I went out of my way to recommend the movie on twitter.  I included it on my list of films that deserved Oscar consideration.  But I never actually got around to writing that full review.  The emotions were just too overwhelming.

Well, I’m going to use this opportunity to recommend that, if you haven’t already, you make an effort to see Never Let Me Go.  It’s a beautifully done film, one that confirms that director Mark Romanek is a major talent who really should have more than just three feature films to his credit.  (True, he does have a lot of music videos…)  As well, the film was written by Alex Garland, which should interest those of you who fell in love with Ex Machina earlier this year.

As for the film itself, it takes place in a world where, we’re told, a medical breakthrough was discovered in 1952 that allows people to live to be over 100 years old.  The details of that medical breakthrough are slowly revealed to us over the course of the film.  Unfortunately, it’s impossible to really talk about this film without revealing those details so consider this to be your SPOILER WARNING.

Basically — much as in Clonus — life has been extended through the use of cloning.  Cloned children are raised outside of the view of “normal” society.  They go to special schools.  And when they turn 18, they are harvested for their organs.  Clones are told that their ultimate goal is to “complete,” which is a polite way to say that most of them die before they ever reach 30.  A few lucky ones are allowed to be “carers.”  They take care of and comfort dying clones and, as a result, they get to put off their first organ donation for a few years.

Unlike Clonus, where the cloning was clandestine and done only to benefit the very rich, the clones are not a secret in Never Let Me Go.  Everyone knows why they exist and everyone knows what is going to ultimately happen to them.  Whenever the clones are allowed to leave their schools and explore the real world, they are greeted with a mix of hostility, fear, and guilt.  Because they are due to be sacrificed, society chooses to believe that the clones are somehow less than human.

As for the clones, the majority of them accept their fate.  You watch Never Let Me Go and you keep waiting for some sort of revolution and it never comes.  Some of the clones are angry.  Many of them desperately believe that there’s some way that they can avoid having to give up their organs.  A good deal of the film is spent listening to people you’ve come to love talk about getting a “deferral” that the audience knows does not exist.  For the most part, though, the clones passively accept their fate because that’s what they’ve been raised to do.

The film itself follows three clones from their childhood to their completion.  Kathy (Carey Mulligan) is a carer.  Ruth (Keira Knightley) starts out as a snob but softens as her fate becomes more and more inevitable.  And, lastly, there’s Tommy (Andrew Garfield).  Tommy starts out as an awkward young boy and he grows up to be an awkward young man.  Of all of them, Tommy is the most convinced that, as a result of the artwork he innocently drew as a boy, he will somehow be given a deferment.  Garfield is so heartbreaking in this role.  When he finally snaps and screams in frustration, you scream with him.

Never Let Me Go is not an easy film to watch but it’s one that I highly recommend.  It’ll make you think and it’ll make you cry.  And after you watch the movie, read Kazuo Ishiguro’s wonderful novel.  It’s even more heart-breaking than the movie.