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


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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.

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Lisa’s Oscar Predictions for November!


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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!

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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

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


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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.

Back to School #71: An Education (dir by Lone Scherifg)


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When I first started this series of Back To School reviews, my plans was to somehow write and post 80 reviews over the course of just one week.  What was I thinking?  That one week has now become one month.  However, even if it has taken me longer than I originally planned, I’ve enjoyed writing these reviews and I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading them.

We’ve been looking at these films in chronological order.  We started with 1946’s I Accuse My Parents and now, 70 reviews later, we have reached the wonderful year of 2009.  It seems somewhat appropriate, to me, that as we finally start to reach the end of this series (after this review, only 9 more to go!), we should take a look at one of my favorite films of all time, a film that was nominated for best picture and which introduced the world to one of the best actresses working today.

That film, of course, is An Education.

Set in 1961, An Education tells the story of Jenny (Carey Mulligan), an intelligent and headstrong 16 year-old girl.  Jenny lives in London with her father (Alfred Molina) and mother (Cara Seymour), both of whom have decided that Jenny will eventually attend Oxford University.  She attends public school, where she’s a star pupil and a favorite of her teacher, Miss Stubbs (Olivia Williams) and the stern headmistress (Emma Thompson).  Jenny is someone who, even at the age of 16, seems to have her entire life mapped out for her.

And then she meets David Goldman (Peter Sarsgaard).  David is a handsome and charming older man who, spying Jenny walking in the rain, offers to give her a ride home.  Soon, Jenny and David are secretly pursuing a romantic relationship.  At first glance, David seems to be the perfect dream boyfriend.  He’s sophisticated.  He’s witty.  He knows about art and music and seems to be the exact opposite of Jenny’s boring, conservative father.  And David also has two beautiful friends, Danny (a devastatingly charming Dominic Cooper) and Danny’s glamorous girlfriend, Helen (Rosamund Pike).

Jenny is drawn into David’s exciting circle of friends and, at first, it’s all so intoxicating that the little things don’t matter.  Jenny doesn’t ask, for instance, how David and Danny make their money.  When she finds out that David specifically moves black families into white neighborhoods in order to get people to move so that he can then buy and rent out their former homes, Jenny knows that it’s shady but she pretends not to be worried.  And when David and Danny steal a valuable antique map out of a country home, it’s far too exciting for Jenny to worry about the legality of it all…

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An Education is such a great film, I don’t even know where to begin in singing its praises.  The cast is absolutely brilliant, with Carey Mulligan proving herself to be a star and Peter Sarsgaard being so charismatic that, much like Jenny, you can’t help but get swept up in his world.  This was the first film that I ever noticed Dominic Cooper in and I walked out of the theater with a crush that I continue to have to this day.  The script, by novelist Nick Hornby, is full of witty lines and, even more importantly, it manages to find something very universal within Jenny’s very personal story.  We’ve all had a David Goldman in our life at some point.

However, what I think I really love about An Education is the way that it portrays the excitement of being just a little bit naughty.  One need only compare the vivid scenes in which David and Jenny dance at a club with the drab scenes of Jenny sitting in class to understand why Jenny (and so many other girls) would fall for a guy like David.

Perhaps my favorite image in the entire film is one in which, after having a fight out in the middle of the street, David and Jenny turn around to see Danny and Helen standing out on a beautiful balcony and waving down to them.  The two couples are just so beautiful and so glamorous that it really does become one of those moments where you really do wish you could just step into the movie and spend a few hours just hanging out with them.

An Education is one of the best!

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The Beautiful People (from L-R): Dominic Cooper, Rosamund Pike, Peter Sarsgaard, and Carey Mulligan.

Is The Great Gatsby Great Or Is It Simply Ghastly?


(Special thanks to frequent TSL reader and commenter Dr. Jim for inspiring the title of my review.)

Gatsby

Do you remember when everyone was predicting that Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of The Great Gatsby would battle it out with The Dark Knight Rises and The Master for Best Picture at the 2012 Academy Awards?

It may be hard to remember but, at this time last year, that’s what a lot of self-styled film divas were predicting.  And who could blame them?  The Great Gatsby was adapted from a great book, Baz Luhrmann was an A-list director, and the film featured actors like Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, and Carey Mulligan.  The flashy first trailer came out and people, like me, were very excited.

And then, suddenly, Warner Bros announced that The Great Gatsby would not be released in December of 2012.  No, instead, it would be released in May of 2013.  This led to a lot of speculation.  Some film bloggers claimed that Warner Bros was just worried that the Great Gatsby would struggle to find an audience if it was released at the same time as other prestige pictures like Lincoln and Les Miserables.  However, I think most people just assumed that the film probably wasn’t that good.  Suddenly, the opulence of that first trailer was no longer something to be celebrated but, instead, it was taken as evidence that Luhrmann had emphasized style over substance.

Last Friday, The Great Gatsby finally premiered on movie screens across the country and we finally got a chance to discover whether Lurhmann’s film was great or simply ghastly.

Before I started writing this review, I debated with myself whether or not I should include a spoiler warning.  You see, I am a F. Scott Fitzgerald fanatic.  I have read and I have loved almost all of his books (even the unfinished Last Tycoon) and I even went through a period where I identified (perhaps a bit too strongly) with Zelda Fitzgerald.  The Great Gatsby is one of my favorite books of all time and it’s hard for me to imagine a world where anyone hasn’t read it.

Unfortunately, judging from the reactions of some of the people in the audience at the showing that I attended, apparently I was giving the rest of the world a little bit too much credit.  So, if you haven’t read The Great Gatsby, then you really should stop reading this review and go pick up a copy.

And, if you’re still reading this review, here’s your SPOILER WARNING.

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With the exception of a few unnecessary scenes that feature Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) is a sanitarium, Luhrmann’s film closely follows the plot of Fitzgerald’s novel.  Nick, a recent Yale graduate, moves to New York City in the 1920s.  He has abandoned his earlier plans to be a writer so that he can concentrate on making money as a bonds salesman.  Needing a place to live, Nick ends up renting out a small cottage.  Living across the bay is Nick’s cousin Daisy (Carey Mulligan) and her extremely wealthy and crude husband, Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton).  And living right next door to Nick, in a gigantic castle, is the mysterious Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio).

While the Buchanans are a part of the old rich and the American establishment, Gatsby is a much more enigmatic figure.  As Nick discovers, nobody seems to be sure who Gatsby is, where he came from, or how he has made his money.  He seems to devote most of his time to throwing massive parties where he is often nowhere to be found.  However, through the cynical golfer Jordan Baker (Elizabeth Debicki), Nick learns that Gatsby used to know Daisy and that he’s still madly in love with her.  Gatsby befriends Nick, attempting to use him as a way to get to Daisy.  Meanwhile, Nick also finds himself unwillingly in the position of being Tom’s confidante, accompanying him when he drives into New York to meet with his mistress, Myrtle Wilson (Isla Fisher).

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To answer the obvious question, The Great Gatsby is not the disaster that so many of us feared but, at the same time, it’s not the triumph that so many of us had hoped for.  Instead, it’s somewhere in the middle.  As with most of his past films, Luhrmann unapologetically embraces style over substance and as such, the film is a lot of fun to watch even though it’s never as intellectually challenging or emotionally captivating as Fitzgerald’s novel.  Whereas Fitzgerald’s novel viewed Gatsby and Daisy with a captivating ambivalence, Luhrmann’s film is content to be a big, glossy soap opera.  As someone who loves the novel, I was frequently annoyed to see how interesting characters like Jordan Baker and Tom Buchanan were simplified for the film version.  But, as someone who loves on-screen spectacle, I enjoyed watching The Great Gatsby even if I could never quite bring my heart to fully embrace it.

One thing that The Great Gatsby definitely gets right is the casting of Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby.  DiCaprio’s gives one of his best performances here, perfectly capturing Gatsby’s allure while hinting at the insecurity that lies underneath the confident façade.  Carey Mulligan is well cast in the difficult role of Daisy and Tobey Magurie makes for the perfect Nick Carraway.  (That said, you have to wonder if Maguire and DiCaprio are ever going to start aging or do they both have a picture of Dorian Gray hidden away in a closet somewhere.)

Unlike Fitzgerald’s novel, Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby is not quite great.  But it’s not exactly ghastly either.  If anything, perhaps it will inspire a few more people to read Fitzgerald’s classic novel.

LIBRARY IMAGE OF THE GREAT GATSBY

Trailer: The Great Gatsby


Here is the trailer for the film that many people are predicting will be the major Oscar contender later this year, Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby (in 3D, as all films are nowadays).  I’m not totally sold on the idea of Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby (it seems like such a predictable and safe choice, to be honest) but I think Carey Mulligan is a great choice for Daisy and Tobey Magurie was born to play Nick Carraway.  Judging from the trailer, this film is either going to be brilliant or it’s going to be a huge mess.  Speaking as someone who loves F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel and who has often wished that her own voice might sound like money, I’m hoping it will be brilliant.