The Hawaii Film Critics Society Embraces La La Land


On January 16th, the film critics of Hawaii (and who wouldn’t want to be a member of that group?) announced their picks for the best of 2016!  They really, really liked La La Land!

La La Land

Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Viola Davis, Fences
Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water (tie)
Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea
Taylor Sheridan, Hell or High Water
Tom Ford (Based on the Novel by Austin Wright), Nocturnal Animals
Linus Sandgren, La La Land 

Tom Cross, La La Land
Austin Gorg, La La Land 
Madeline Fontaine, Jackie
Bill Corso, Deadpool
Arrival (tie)
Doctor Strange
Justin Hurwitz, La La Land 
Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, “Audition (Fools Who Dream),” La La Land  (tie)
Lin-Manuel Miranda, “How Far I’ll Go,” Moana
Kubo and the Two Strings (dir. Travis Knight) (tie)
Zootopia (dir. Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Jared Bush)
OJ: Made in America (dir. Ezra Edelman)
The Handmaiden (dir. Chan-wook Park), (South Korea) (tie)
Neruda (dir. Pablo Larrain),  (Chile)
Moana (dir. Ron Clements, Don Hall, John Musker and Chris Williams)
Dan Trachtenberg,  10 Cloverfield Lane
10 Cloverfield Lane (dir. Dan Trachtenberg)
Hell or High Water (dir. David Mackenzie)
Arrival (dir. Denis Villeneuve)
The Magnificent Seven 
Charlize Theron/ Kubo and the Two Strings
Fifty Shades of Black  (tie)
Zoolander 2

The Alliance of Women Film Journalists Announced Their Picks For The Best of 2016!


The Alliance of Women Film Journalists (of which I am not a member and what’s up with that!?) announced their picks for the best of 2016 earlier this week.

And here they are:

These awards are presented to women and/or men without gender consideration.
Best Film
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea

Best Director
Damien Chazelle – La La Land
Barry Jenkins – Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea
David Mackenzie – Hell or High Water
Denis Villeneuve – Arrival

Best Screenplay, Original
20th Century Women – Mike Mills
Hail Caesar – Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
Hell or High Water – Taylor Sheridan
La La Land – Damien Chazelle
Manchester by the Sea – Kenneth Lonergan

Best Screenplay, Adapted
Arrival – Eric Heisserer
Lion – Luke Davies
Love & Friendship – Whit Stillman
Moonlight – Barry Jenkins
Nocturnal Animals –Tom Ford

Best Documentary
13th – Ava DuVernay
Gleason – Clay Tweel
I Am Not Your Negro – Raoul Peck
OJ Made in America – Ezra Edelman
Weiner – Elyse Steinberg and Josh Kriegma

Best Animated Film
Finding Dory – Andrew Stanton andAngus MacLane
Kubo and the Two Strings- Travis Knight
Moana – Ron Clements, Don Hall, John Musker, Chris Williams
Zootopia – Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush

Best Actress
Amy Adams – Arrival
Isabelle Huppert – Elle
Ruth Negga – Loving
Natalie Portman – Jackie
Emma Stone – La La Land

Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Viola Davis – Fences
Greta Gerwig – 20th Century Women
Naomie Harris – Moonlight
Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea

Best Actor
Casey Affleck – Manchester By The Sea
Joel Edgerton – Loving
Ryan Gosling – La La Land
Tom Hanks – Sully
Denzel Washington – Fences

Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water
Ben Foster – Hell or High Water
Lucas Hedges – Manchester By the Sea
Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals

Best Ensemble Cast – Casting Director
20th Century Women – Mark Bennett and Laura Rosenthal
Hail Caesar – Ellen Chenoweth
Hell or High Water – Jo Edna Boldin and Richard Hicks
Manchester by the Sea – Douglas Aibel
Moonlight – Yesi Ramirez

Best Cinematography
Arrival – Bradford Young
Hell or High Water – Giles Nuttgens
La La Land – Linus Sandgren
Manchester by The Sea – Jody Lee Lipes
Moonlight – James Laxton

Best Editing
Arrival – Joe Walker
I Am Not Your Negro — Alexandra Strauss
La La Land – Tom Cross
Manchester By The Sea – Jennifer Lame
Moonlight – Joi McMillon and Nat Sanders

Best Non-English-Language Film
Elle – Paul Verhoeven, France
Fire At Sea – Gianfranco Rossi, Italy
The Handmaiden – Chan-Wook Park, South Korea
Julieta – Pedro Almodovar. Spain
Toni Erdmann – Maren Ede, Germany

These awards honor WOMEN only

Best Woman Director
Andrea Arnold – American Honey
Ava DuVernay -13TH
Rebecca Miller – Maggie’s Plan
Mira Nair – Queen of Katwe
Kelly Reichardt – Certain Women

Best Woman Screenwriter
Andrea Arnold – American Honey
Rebecca Miller – Maggie’s Plan
Kelly Reichardt – Certain Women
Lorene Scafaria – The Meddler
Laura Terruso – Hello, My Name is Doris

Best Animated Female
Dory in Finding Dory –Ellen DeGeneres
Judy in Zootopia – Ginnifer Goodwin
Moana in Moana – Auli’i Cravalho

Best Breakthrough Performance
Sasha Lane – American Honey
Janelle Monáe – Moonlight and Hidden Figures
Madina Nalwanga – Queen of Katwe
Ruth Negga – Loving

Outstanding Achievement by A Woman in The Film Industry
Ava DuVernay – For 13TH and raising awareness about the need for diversity and gender equality in Hollywood
Anne Hubbell and Amy Hobby for establishing Tangerine Entertainment’s Juice Fund to support female filmmakers
Mynette Louie, President of Gamechanger Films, which finances narrative films directed by women
April Reign for creating and mobilizing the #OscarsSoWhite campaign


Actress Defying Age and Ageism
Annette Bening – 20th Century Women
Viola Davis – Fences
Sally Field – Hello, My Name is Doris
Isabelle Huppert – Elle and Things to Come
Helen Mirren – Eye in the Sky

Most Egregious Age Difference Between The Lead and The Love Interest Award
Dirty Grandpa – Robert De Niro (b. 1943) and Aubrey Plaza (b. 1984)
Independence Day: Resurgence – Charlotte Gainsbourg (b 1971) and Jeff Goldblum (b 1952)
Mechanic Resurrection – Jason Statham (b. 1967) and Jessica Aba (b. 1981)
Rules Don’t Apply – Warren Beatty (b. 1937) and Lily Collins (b. 1989)

Actress Most in Need Of A New Agent
Jennifer Aniston – Mother’s Day and Office Christmas Party
Melissa McCarthy – The Boss and Ghostbusters
Margot Robbie – Suicide Squad and Tarzan
Julia Roberts – Mother’s Day
Shailene Woodley – Divergent Series

Bravest Performance
Jessica Chastain – Miss Sloane
Naomie Harris – Moonlight
Isabelle Huppert – Elle
Sasha Lane – American Honey
Ruth Negga – Loving

Remake or Sequel That Shouldn’t have been Made
Independence Day: Resurgence
The Magnificent Seven
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

AWFJ Hall of Shame Award
Sharon Maguire and Renee Zellweger for Bridget Jones’s Baby
Nicholas Winding Refn and Elle Fanning for The Neon Demon
David Ayer and Margot Robbie for Suicide Squad
David E. Talbert and Mo’Nique for Almost Christmas

Film Review: Big Hero 6 (dir by Don Hall and Chris Williams)

For the longest time, I thought that there would never be an animated film that would make me cry as much as I cried at the end of Toy Story 3.

And then I saw The LEGO Movie and I thought that I would never cry as much as I did when Will Ferrell acknowledged that he hadn’t been a very good father and that his son should be allowed to have fun while playing in the basement.

And then, way back in November, I saw Big Hero 6 and there was big, goofy-looking, kind-hearted Baymax asking, “Are you satisfied with my service?” and I sobbed and sobbed.

Baymax, of course, is a big, balloon-like robot that was specifically designed to provide medical care to the citizens of San Fransokyo.  After his original creator, Tadashi Hamada, is killed in a mysterious explosion at the local university, Baymax becomes the property of Tadashi’s younger brother, Hiro.  Hiro, naturally enough, designs some armor for Baymax and programs him to fight so that he can get revenge for his brother’s death…

And you know what?

The exact plot doesn’t really matter.  What matters is that Baymax is probably one of the most memorable and kind-hearted non-human characters to ever appear in an animated film.  Significantly, Baymax resists Hiro’s attempt to turn him into a killing machine, making Big Hero 6 into one of those rare films that ultimately celebrates peace over war.

It’s also an incredibly sweet film, one that earned every tear that I shed.

And, as a result, I was very satisfied.

Trailer: Big Hero 6 (2nd Official)


Big Hero 6 is the next offering from the Walt Disney Animation Studios. While Pixar has the reputation of being the top animation house within Disney, the last couple years have seen the Walt Disney Animation house taking most of the glory. First, there was the surprise hit Tangled which was soon followed up by Wreck-It-Ralph which was both a success with critics and audiences alike. Then last year we saw the unstoppable juggernaut that was Frozen.

Frozen was originally thought to be a weak offering due to a weird marketing campaign, but it soon changed both critics and audiences minds when it came out in November 2013. From there on it just stayed in the weekly top 10 box-office for months.

Now we have Big Hero 6 which brings one of the more obscure Marvel Comics properties to the big-screen. This film looks to take the characters from the original comics, but the story itself looks to be something wholly original. So, fans who have been waiting for either Pixar or Disney to create an animated film using more recognizable heroes from Marvel’s massive library will have to wait just a bit longer.

Big Hero 6 will make it’s premiere at the Tokyo International Film Festival on October 23, 2014 with a wide release on November 7, 2014.

Trailer: Big Hero 6 (Official)


Walt Disney Animation has always lagged behind it’s more lauded older sibling Pixar Animation. Yet, in the last couple years it’s more than held it’s own with it’s two most recent releases with Wreck-It-Ralph and Frozen. Will third time be the charm as the studio is set to release the first CG-animated feature that was greenlit after Walt Disney bought Marvel Comics over 6 years ago.

Big Hero 6 is loosely-based on the same comic book title from Marvel Comics. It tells the story of one Hiro Hamada and his sidekick balloon man….robot who must team up with an eclectic group of other would-be heroes to save the fictional city of San Fransokyo from a mysterious villain.

Big Hero 6 is set for a November 7, 2014 release date.

Quick Review: Winnie the Pooh (dir. by Stephen J. Anderson & Don Hall)

With Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 running at full steam, and Captain America: The First Avenger opening this weekend, Winnie the Pooh still remains an option for younger kids who may not be ready for these two films (at least until The Smurfs is released). There’s really very little in the way of negative comments that I can give to Winnie the Pooh, expect perhaps that running at just 69 minutes, it’s very short. It’s for kids.

Working off the original story by A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh re-introduces us to the title character, along with his friends from the Hundred Acre Wood – Tigger, Rabbit, Piglet,  Kanga and her son Roo, Owl, and Eeyore. They are the treasured toys of Christopher Robin, who has an active imagination.

One of the cute elements of this story, narrated by John Cleese is how everyone breaks the fourth wall and occasionally has interactions with the paragraphs of the story. Stepping on a few words here, using a few as a ladder, it came across as being quite worthy of a few smiles.

I used to watch “The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh” on Saturday Mornings, and it was a treat to return to these characters. For the movie, we are given the “Busy Backson” story, where Eeyore has lost his tail and the team come up with ideas on new and interesting ones for him. Each character has their own way of figuring this out. Of course, Pooh has something of a difficult time with his constantly rumbling tummy, but he manages to help in his own way. In their search, Owl misreads a note left behind by Christopher Robin stating that he’ll be busy, but will be back soon. This conjures up the great and terrible “Backson” in everyone’s imagination, responsible for everything from stealing your left socks to making your milk spoil. The team decides to set a trap for the Backson, with wild results. The scenes with the Backson maybe a little frightening to the youngest of viewers, but it’s not that bad. We’re not dealing with Heffalumps or Woozles here.

In the end, as always, everything turns out well. I liked that Friendship was the big factor here. All of Eyeore’s friends tried to help him find his tail, and Pooh even puts his honey chasing ways on hold (as best he can, anyway) to aid his friend. Those familiar with the animated series will instantly recognize Jim Cummings as the voice of both Winnie the Pooh and Tigger. I would have liked to have seen Peter Cullen come back as Eyeore, but he was pretty busy voicing Optimus Prime while the movie was being made. All of the other voice actors are new, including late night tv host Craig Ferguson as Owl. The kids won’t even care.

Musically, there are a few interesting songs. Actress / Singer Zooey Deschanel lends her voice to the title song, along with a few others. Most of the other songs are sung by the cast themselves, and the kids may find themselves singing along (at least I could hear singing in my audience, anyway). The film moves fast, extremely fast. By the time the antsy factor kicks in, the movie’s done, which makes that a treat by itself.

Overall, Winnie the Pooh may not have the magnificence of say a Kung Fu Panda 2 or How to Train Your Dragon, but for very young viewers, it should do just the trick.