Here Are The Independent Spirt Nominations!


The nomination for the Independent Spirit Awards were announced earlier today.

Making a very good showing were Tar, Women Talking, and Everything Everywhere All At Once.  Not showing up at all was Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale, which failed to even pick up a lead performance nomination for Brendan Fraser.  Seeing as how Fraser has been viewed as being the Oscar front runner for a few months now, his lack of a nomination definitely took observers by surprise.

Anyway, here are all the nominees!

FILM CATEGORIES

Best Feature
“Bones and All” (MGM/United Artists Releasing)
“Everything Everywhere All at Once” (A24)
“Our Father, the Devil” (Resolve Media)
“Tár” (Focus Features)
“Women Talking” (MGM/United Artists Releasing)

Best Director
Todd Field – “Tár” (Focus Features)
Kogonada – “After Yang” (A24)
Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert – “Everything Everywhere All at Once” (A24)
Sarah Polley – “Women Talking” (MGM/United Artists Releasing)
Halina Reijn – “Bodies Bodies Bodies” (A24)

Best Lead Performance

Cate Blanchett – “Tár” (Focus Features)
Dale Dickey – “A Love Song” (Bleecker Street)
Mia Goth – “Pearl” (A24)
Regina Hall – “Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul.” (Focus Features)
Paul Mescal – “Aftersun” (A24)
Aubrey Plaza – “Emily the Criminal” (Roadside Attractions)
Jeremy Pope – “The Inspection” (A24)
Taylor Russell – “Bones and All” (MGM/United Artists Releasing)
Andrea Riseborough – “To Leslie” (Momentum Pictures)
Michelle Yeoh – “Everything Everywhere All at Once” (A24)

Best Supporting Performance

Jamie Lee Curtis – “Everything Everywhere All at Once” (A24)
Brian Tyree Henry – “Causeway” (A24/Apple Original Films)
Nina Hoss – “Tár” (Focus Features)
Brian D’Arcy James – “The Cathedral” (Mubi)
Ke Huy Quan – “Everything Everywhere All at Once” (A24)
Trevante Rhodes – “Bruiser” (Onyx Collective)
Theo Rossi – “Emily the Criminal” (Roadside Attractions)
Mark Rylance – “Bones and All” (MGM/United Artists Releasing)
Jonathan Tucker – “Palm Trees and Power Lines” (Momentum Pictures)
Gabrielle Union – “The Inspection” (A24)

Best Breakthrough Performance
Frankie Corio – “Aftersun” (A24)
Garcija Filipovic – “Murina” (Kino Lorber)
Stephanie Hsu – “Everything Everywhere All at Once” (A24)
Lily McInerny – “Palm Trees and Power Lines” (Momentum Pictures)
Daniel Zolghardi – “Funny Pages” (A24)

Best Screenplay
“After Yang” (A24) – Kogonada
“Catherine Called Birdy” (Amazon Studios) – Lena Dunham
“Everything Everywhere All at Once” (A24) – Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert
“Tár” (Focus Features) – Todd Field
“Women Talking” (MGM/United Artists Releasing) – Sarah Polley

Best First Screenplay
“Bodies Bodies Bodies” (A24) – Sarah DeLappe, Kristen Roupenian
“Emergency” (Amazon Studios) – K.D. Dávila
“Emily the Criminal” (Roadside Attractions) – John Patton Ford
“Fire Island” (Searchlight Pictures) – Joel Kim Booster
“Palm Trees and Power Lines” (Momentum Pictures) – Jamie Dack, Audrey Findlay

Best First Feature
“Aftersun” (A24) – Charlotte Wells (director), Mark Ceryak, Amy Jackson, Barry Jenkins, Adele Romanski (producers)
“Emily the Criminal” (Roadside Attractions) – John Patton Ford (director), Tyler Davidson, Aubrey Plaza, Drew Sykes (producers)
“The Inspection” (A24) – Elegance Bratton (director), Effie T. Brown, Chester Algernal Gordon (producers)
“Murina” (Kino Lorber) – Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović (director), Danijel Pek, Rodrigo Teixeira (producers)
“Palm Trees and Power Lines” (Momentum Pictures) – Jamie Dack (director), Leah Chen Baker (producer)

John Cassavetes Award (Given to the best feature made for under $1,000,000)
“The African Desperate” (Mubi) – Martine Syms (writer, director, producer), Rocket Caleshu (writer, producer), Vic Brooks (producer)
“A Love Song” (Bleecker Street) – Max Walker-Silverman (writer, director, producer), Jesse Hope, Dan Janvey (producers)
“The Cathedral” (Mubi) – Ricky D’Ambrose (writer, director), Graham Swon (producer)
“Holy Emy” (Utopie Films) – Araceli Lemos (writer, director), Giulia Caruso (writer, producer), Mathieu Bompoint, Ki Jin Kim, Konstantinos Vassilaros (producers)
“Something in the Dirt” (XYZ Films) – Justin Benson (writer, director, producer), Aaron Moorhead (director, producer), David Lawson Jr. (producer)

Best Cinematography
“Aftersun” (A24) – Gregory Oke
“Murina” (Kino Lorber) – Hélène Louvart
“Neptune Frost” (Kino Lorber) – Anisia Uzeyman
“Pearl” (A24) – Eliot Rockett
“Tár” (Focus Features) – Florian Hoffmeister

Best Documentary
“A House Made of Splinters” (Madman Entertainment) – Simon Lereng Wilmont (director), Monica Hellström (producer)
“All that Breathes” (HBO) – Shaunak Sen (director, producer), Teddy Leifer, Aman Mann (producers)
“All the Beauty and the Bloodshed” (Neon) – Laura Poitras (director, producer), Howard Gertler, Nan Goldin, Yoni Golijov, John Lyons (producers)
“Midwives” (POV) – Snow Hnin Ei Hlaing (director, producer), Mila Aung-Thwin, Ulla Lehmann, Bob Moore (producers)
“Riotsville, U.S.A.” (IFC Films) – Sierra Pettengill (director), Sara Archambault, Jamila Wignot (producer)

Best Editing
“Aftersun” (A24) – Blair McClendon
“The Cathedral” (Mubi) – Ricky D’Ambrose
“Everything Everywhere All at Once” (A24) – Paul Rogers
“Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” (A24) – Dean Fleischer Camp, Nick Paley
“Tár” (Focus Features) – Monika Willi

Robert Altman Award (Given to one film’s director, casting director and ensemble cast)

“Women Talking” (MGM/United Artists Releasing) – Sarah Polley (director), John Buchan, Jason Knight (casting directors), Shayla Brown, Jessie Buckley, Claire Foy, Kira Guloien, Kate Hallett, Judith Ivey, Rooney Mara, Sheila McCarthy, Frances McDormand, Michelle McLeod, Liv McNeil, Ben Whishaw, August Winter (ensemble cast)

Best International Film
“Corsage” (Austria/Luxembourg/France/Belgium/Italy/England) – dir. Marie Kreutzer
“Joyland” (Pakistan/USA) – dir. Saim Sadiq
“Leonor Will Never Die” (Philippines) – dir. Martika Ramirez Escobar
“Return to Seoul” (South Korea/France/Belgium/Romania) – dir. Davy Chou
“Saint Omer” (France) – dir. Alice Diop

Producers Award (presented by Bulleit Frontier Whiskey  – The Producers Award, now in its 26th year, honors emerging producers who, despite highly limited resources, demonstrate the creativity, tenacity and vision required to produce quality independent films.)
Liz Cardenas
Tory Lenosky
David Grove Churchill Viste

Someone to Watch Award (The Someone to Watch Award, now in its 29th year, recognizes a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition)
Adamma Ebo – “Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul”
Nikyatu Jusu – “Nanny”
Araceli Lemos – “Holy Emy”

“The Truer Than Fiction Award” (The Truer Than Fiction Award, now in its 28th year, is presented to an emerging director of non-fiction features who has not yet received significant recognition)
Isabel Castro – “Mija”
Reid Davenport – “I Didn’t See You There”
Rebeca Huntt – “Beba”

Horror Film Review: X (dir by Ti West)


The year is 1979 and the easiest way to get rich and become a star is to appear in a porno film.  At least, that’s what Maxine (Mia Goth) and her older boyfriend, Wayne (Martin Henderson), think.  Wayne’s the producer.  Maxine is one of the stars.  The name of the movie is going to be The Farmer’s Daughter and it’s going to star Jackson Hole (Kid Cudi) as a man who stumbles across as a farm and gets to know the farmer’s daughters, played by Maxine and Bobby-Lynne (Brittany Snow).  Directing the film will be a film student-turned-director named RJ Nichols (Owen Campbell).  Holding the boom mic and otherwise helping out will be RJ’s girlfriend, Lorraine (Jenna Ortega).  Lorraine may say that she’s not impressed with the idea of working on a pornographic film but everyone an tell that’s a lie.  Everyone except for RJ, of course….

Wayne has even found a farm where they can shoot.  The farm belongs to Howard (Stephen Ure) and Pearl (Mia Goth, made up to look like she’s in her 80s).  Howard suspects that Wayne is making an adult film and he doesn’t exactly approve of it but it also appears that he and Pearl could use the money.  Howard warns Wayne not to bother Pearl while they’re filming.  However, it doesn’t take long for Pearl to wander out of the house and to discover what’s going on in the guest house.  That night, people start to die….

X caused quite a stir when it was released earlier this year, with critics declaring it be a horror classic.  I finally watched the film last week.  X is undeniably a well-made film and it deserves a huge amount of  credit, in this repressed era of trigger warnings, for not holding back on either the violence or the sex.  Mia Goth deserves all of the praise that she’s received for playing both Pearl and Maxine.  At first, it might seem like stunt casting to cast Goth in both roles but actually, it works well with the film’s subtext.  Pearl wants to kill Maxine (and her friends) because they represent the youth that she’s lost.  Maxine initially fears Pearl because she represents the inevitability of getting older.  Unless you die young, you’re going to get old and much of Maxine’s actions are all about doing whatever it takes not to get old.  If that means running straight into danger while fueled only on cocaine and fury, that’s what Maxine is going to do.  The cocaine that Maxine snorts is as important to the story as Pearl’s resentment, Wayne’s greed, and the preacher who continually appears on television.  Maxine probably couldn’t do half of what she does in the film if she wasn’t continually snorting coke and it’s significant that the other characters in the film remain relatively drug-free.  Cocaine is a drug for those who want to confident and free of the worries and the self-doubt that comes with age.  X becomes a film about the battle between the young and the old, a conflict that has defined much of recent history as the younger generation wonders when the older generation is finally going to surrender their power.

At the same time, it’s hard not to feel that the film itself was a bit overpraised by critics who were stunned to discover that a horror film could feature good acting, carefully composed shots, and clever editing.  Judging from some of the reviews, you would get the feeling that some of these critics have never seen a subversive horror film before.  X is a well-made slasher film that refuses to buy into the old trope that one has to be an innocent or a good person to survive a film like this.  Indeed, the biggest mistake that people make in X is to trying to do the right thing.  But it’s hardly the first film to comment on the rules of the genre by breaking them.

In the end, the most important thing about X is that it’s an effective and well-made horror movie.  Visually, the film does a great job of capturing the isolation of rural Texas and all the members of the cast do a good job bringing their characters to life, even if some of the country accents a bit overdone.  Martin Henderson is amusing playing a role that seems like it was written for Matthew McConaughey and Jenna Ortega does a good job playing a character who manages to be both annoying and sympathetic.  (She’s far better here than she was in The Fallout.)  The film ultimately belongs to Mia Goth, playing two different characters who both seem destined to meet the same fate.

As far as Ti West horror films go, X is never as energetic or as much fun as The House of the Devil.  But still, it’s a good rural slasher film.

A24 releases the trailer for X’s Prequel, Pearl


Anyone who watched Ti West’s X since it’s release in March were given a glance at Pearl, it’s prequel. I saw the sneak peek teaser when X was featured in A24’s Screening Room, the company’s digital showcase. I thought it was just something tacked to the end of the film, like Albert Pyun’s announcement for Tales of the Ancient Empire at the end of The Sword and The Sorcerer. I thought they were kidding.

Sure enough, here we are.

Pearl takes place years before the events of X, where we get to find out how things progressed to where they ended up. Mia Goth (Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria) returns for this tale, and I’m a little curious to see what they come up with here.

Pearl is set to release this September.

Sneak Peek: Suspiria “Improvise Freely”


suspiria-1

As we get closer to the Fall film season, we’re getting more hype on upcoming films that’s not part of the summer or holiday blockbuster hype train. One such film that has been getting some buzz is Luca Guadagnino’s remake of Suspiria.

Our very own Lisa Marie is very leery of this remake since she holds the original by giallo maestro Dario Argento in such high regard. While I’m always open to any film whether original, sequel or remake, I do hold remakes with a certain degree of cautious optimism. I’m more than willing to give any remake, especially horror remakes, a chance to stand on it’s own merits. For the most part horror remakes tend to be cash grabs and not up to the standard set by the original.

Here’s to hoping that Guadagnino’s remake of Suspiria is one that bucks the trend of disappointing horror remakes. A clip released by Amazon Studios does seem to up the intrigue factor for the film. At least, for this film fan.

Suspiria (2018) Official Trailer


suspiria-1

Where has the time gone.

In my absense, it looks like other people have flourished, but now I think it’s time to make a return and this time for good.

What better way to mark my return than to show and talk about the first official full-length trailer for what could be one of the more divisive horror remakes set to arrive in a couple months.

I am talking about Suspiria by Italian filmmaker Luca Guadagnino (Call Me by Your Name, A Bigger Splash and I Am Love). The original film by Italian giallo maestro Dario Argento many horror fans consider a great example of the Italian giallo of the late 70’s and early 80’s. Just like most fandoms, whenever there’s talk about one of the classics being remade there’s levels of trepidation, anger and guarded optimism.

While I’m never one to look at remakes as ruining the originals. IF that was the case then we wouldn’t have excellent horror remakes such as Carpenter’s The Thing and, to an extent, Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead.

While I’m excited to see what Guadagnino brings to the table when it comes to his remake of Suspiria, I am also somewhat guarded in that the original film was such a surreal experience that remaking it note for note wouldn’t add anything new to the experience.

Here’s to hoping this is one horror remake that falls under the great side of the equation instead of the trash end.

Film Review: Everest (dir by Baltasar Kormákur)


Everest_poster

If I wasn’t already scared of heights, I definitely would be after seeing Everest.

Based on a true story, Everest tells the story of two expeditions attempting to climb to the top of Mt. Everest.  One expedition is led by a New Zealander named Rob Hall (Jason Clarke), an experienced climber who, we’re told, pretty much invented the entire industry of taking commercial expeditions up to the top of Mt. Everest.  Criticized by some for being a “hand holder” who gets too emotionally involved with his clients and, as a result, cheapens the Everest “experience” by helping weaker clients make it to the top of the summit, Rob is married to a fellow climber, Jan Arnold (Keira Knightley).  While Rob tries to lead his clients to the highest place on Earth, the pregnant Jan stays home and waits for his return.

The other expedition is led by Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal).  Scott and Rob are friendly rivals, with Scott taking a much more hands off approach to his clients.  (It’s not a coincidence that Rob’s company is called Adventure Consultants while Scott works for Mountain Madness.)

Everest details what happens when the two expeditions are both caught in a sudden blizzard and find themselves trapped at the top of Everest.  The rest of the film is about the attempts of a stranded few to make it back to civilization.  A few make it, though not without suffering a good deal of pain and, in one particularly case, sacrificing a few body parts as a result.  Tragically, several others fall victim to the whims of nature, some dying of hypothermia while others, hallucinating from the lack of oxygen, literally walk off the side of the mountain.

Everest is one of those films where men die tragically but we’re supposed to find some sort of comfort from the fact that they died doing what they loved.  To be honest, I usually have a hard time buying into these type of narratives.  For instance, I love shopping but I wouldn’t expect anyone to be happy for me if I died while looking for a new purse.  (In fact, that’d probably upset me if not for the fact that I’d be too dead to know about it.)  At the same time, guys seems to love movies like this and I think, in the future, Everest will probably be remembered for being the epitome of a guy movie.

And that’s not meant to be a criticism on my part!  Everest does what it does with a lot of skill and confidence.  It’s an exciting film that, once the disaster hits, will leave you breathless.  And yes, at the end of the film, I did shed a tear or two.  Narratively, there’s really not a surprising moment to be found in the entire film.  I went into Everest not even knowing it was a true story and I was still able to guess who would survive and who would not.  But Everest‘s amazing visuals make up for the predictable narrative.  The term “visually stunning” is probably overused (especially by me!) but Everest is truly a visually stunning film.  For someone like me — who has asthma, a huge fear of heights, and who lives in North Texas (where, regardless of what you may see in the movies, the land is remarkably flat) — Everest is probably as close as I’ll ever get to climbing a mountain.

I should also mention that it never ceases to amaze me that Josh Brolin was born in Santa Monica, California because, on the basis of this film and No Country For Old Men, he is one of the most convincing Texans to appear in the movies.  In this film, he plays Beck Weathers, a Dallas doctor who is a member of Rob’s expedition team.  Usually, of course, if a Texan (especially one who is specifically identified as being a Republican, as Beck is at the beginning of a film) shows up in a movie, you know he’s going to end up being the villain.  Fortunately, Everest was based on a true story and, as a result, Beck turned out to be one of the most compelling characters in the film.  (If you know the story behind the film, you already knew that.  However, I went into Everest blind.)  Josh Brolin brings a lot of strength to his role and to the film overall.

Everest may predictable but it’s still an exciting film.  Make sure that you have someone beside you to whom you can hold on and that you see it in 3D!