Here’s The Trailer For Bumblebee!


Yesterday, when I heard that there was a trailer for a film called Bumblebee, I was really excited because I assumed it would be a Pixar film about a bee who speaks with the voice of Martin Freeman and who wonders why he was given the ability to sting if he can only use it once before dying.

Then I watched the trailer and I discovered that it was just another Transformers movie.

Actually, to be specific, this is a Transformers spin-off.  In fact, it’s a prequel!  It’s set in the 80s, which means that there will be a lot of retro fun to be had!  So, this might be better than the average Transformers film.  Or it might really suck, again like an average Transformers film.

Regardless, I bet it will have a killer soundtrack.

(Also, there is a reason for cautious optimism.  Michael Bay is not directing.  Instead, the director is Travis Knight, who previously gave us the brilliant Kubo and The Two Strings.)

 

The Hawaii Film Critics Society Embraces La La Land


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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!

BEST FILM:
La La Land

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

BEST EDITING:
Tom Cross, La La Land
BEST ART DIRECTION:
Austin Gorg, La La Land 
BEST COSTUME DESIGN:
Madeline Fontaine, Jackie
BEST MAKE-UP:
Bill Corso, Deadpool
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:
Arrival (tie)
Doctor Strange
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:
Justin Hurwitz, La La Land 
BEST SONG: 
Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, “Audition (Fools Who Dream),” La La Land  (tie)
Lin-Manuel Miranda, “How Far I’ll Go,” Moana
BEST ANIMATED FILM:
Kubo and the Two Strings (dir. Travis Knight) (tie)
Zootopia (dir. Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Jared Bush)
BEST DOCUMENTARY:
OJ: Made in America (dir. Ezra Edelman)
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM:
The Handmaiden (dir. Chan-wook Park), (South Korea) (tie)
Neruda (dir. Pablo Larrain),  (Chile)
BEST HAWAII FILM:
Moana (dir. Ron Clements, Don Hall, John Musker and Chris Williams)
BEST NEW FILMMAKER:
Dan Trachtenberg,  10 Cloverfield Lane
BEST FIRST FILM:
10 Cloverfield Lane (dir. Dan Trachtenberg)
BEST OVERLOOKED FILM:
Hell or High Water (dir. David Mackenzie)
BEST SCI-FI/HORROR FILM:
Arrival (dir. Denis Villeneuve)
BEST STUNTS:
The Magnificent Seven 
BEST VOCAL/MOTION CAPTURE PERFORMANCE:
Charlize Theron/ Kubo and the Two Strings
WORST FILM OF THE YEAR:
Fifty Shades of Black  (tie)
Zoolander 2

Here Are The Producers Guild Nominations!


Deadpool

The Producer’s Guild of America, who are traditionally one of the most reliable of the Oscar precursors, announced their ten nominees for the best film of 2016 earlier today!

Not on the list: Martin Scorsese’s Silence.  Last year, at this time, Silence was the most anticipated of the potential Oscar nominees.  Now, 12 months later, whatever momentum that Silence had seems to have fizzled.

You know what film was on the list?

Deadpool!

Somehow, Deadpool has emerged as a legitimate Oscar contender.  That doesn’t mean that it’s going to be nominated, of course.  Last year, a lot of people made the mistake of getting excited when both Carol and Straight Outta Compton showed up among the Producers Guild’s nominations.

Here’s what we have to remember — every years, the PGA nominates 10 films.  However, the Academy never nominates a full slate of 10 films.  While the best picture nominees probably will all have received a PGA nomination, that doesn’t mean that every PGA nominee is going to be nominated for best picture.

Still, Deadpool is coming on strong with the guilds.  It has some support among the industry.

A best picture nomination for Deadpool?  Normally, I’d laugh that off.  Then again, at one time, I also laughed off the idea that Mad Max: Fury Road would get a nomination, despite the fact that I thought Mad Max was one of the best films of 2015.

In the end, anything can happen.  That’s one reason why Oscar watchers like me are always a little disappointed when the Oscar nominations are announced and the precursor season ends.  During the precursor season, anything is possible.

Anyway, here are the PGA nominations:

The Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures:

 

  • Arrival

Producers: Dan Levine, Shawn Levy, Aaron Ryder, David Linde

 

Producers: Simon Kinberg, Ryan Reynolds, Lauren Shuler Donner

 

Producers: Scott Rudin, Denzel Washington, Todd Black

 

Producers: Bill Mechanic, David Permut

 

Producers: Carla Hacken, Julie Yorn

 

  • Hidden Figures

Producers: Donna Gigliotti, Peter Chernin & Jenno Topping, Pharrell Williams, Theodore Melfi

 

Producers: Fred Berger, Jordan Horowitz, Marc Platt

 

  • Lion

Producers: Emile Sherman & Iain Canning, Angie Fielder

 

Producers: Matt Damon, Kimberly Steward, Chris Moore, Lauren Beck, Kevin Walsh

 

Producers: Adele Romanski, Dede Gardner & Jeremy Kleiner

 

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures:

 

Producer: Lindsey Collins

 

Producers: Arianne Sutner, Travis Knight

 

Producer: Osnat Shurer

 

Producers: Chris Meledandri, Janet Healy

 

  • Zootopia

Producer: Clark Spencer

 

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Documentary Theatrical Motion Pictures:

* The PGA previously announced the nominations in this category on November 22, 2016.  The list below has been updated to include eligible producers.

 

  • Dancer

Producer: Gabrielle Tana

 

  • The Eagle Huntress

Producers: Stacey Reiss, Otto Bell

 

  • Life, Animated

Producers: Julie Goldman, Roger Ross Williams

 

  • O.J.: Made in America

Producers:  Ezra Edelman, Caroline Waterlow

 

  • Tower

Producers:  Keith Maitland, Susan Thomson, Megan Gilbride

The Austin Film Critics Association Honors Moonlight!


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The Austin Film Critics Association have announced their picks for the best of 2016!

Best Film: Moonlight (dir: Barry Jenkins)

Best Director: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Best Actor: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

Best Actress: Isabelle Huppert, Elle

Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis, Fences

Best Original Screenplay: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Best Adapted Screenplay: Eric Heisserer, Arrival

Best Cinematography: Linus Sandgren, La La Land

Best Score: Justin Hurwitz, La La Land

Best Foreign-Language Film: The Handmaiden (dir: Park Chan-wook)

Best Documentary: Tower (dir: Keith Maitland)

Best Animated Film: Kubo and the Two Strings (dir: Travis Knight)

Best First Film: The Witch (dir: Robert Eggers)

The Robert R. “Bobby” McCurdy Memorial Breakthrough Artist Award: Keith Maitland, Tower

Austin Film Award: Tower (dir: Keith Maitland)

Special Honorary Award: To the ensemble cast of Moonlight and casting director Yesi Ramirez for excellence as an ensemble.

Special Honorary Award: To honor Anton Yelchin for his contribution to the cinema of 2016, including performances in Green Room and Star Trek Beyond. His was a brilliant career cut profoundly short.

Special Honorary Award: To A24 Films for excellence in production in distribution. Their work gave us Moonlight, Green Room, Swiss Army Man, The Lobster, The Witch, and 20th Century Women, among others.

Special Honorary Award: To filmmaker Keith Maitland and his film Tower for revisiting a tragic event in Austin, Texas history in a sensitive and unique manner.

AFCA 2016 Top Ten Films:

  1. Moonlight
  2. La La Land
  3. Arrival
  4. The Handmaiden
  5. Manchester by the Sea
  6. Elle
  7. Hell or High Water
  8. The Lobster
  9. Jackie
  10. Sing Street

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


american_honey_poster

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:

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

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

EDA FEMALE FOCUS AWARDS
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

EDA SPECIAL MENTION AWARDS

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
Ben-Hur
Ghostbusters
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

Here Are the 2016 Seattle Film Award Nominees!


Here are the 2016 Seattle Film Award Nominees!  I don’t know what the cat’s yawning about; these nominations are actually an interesting mix of the usual suspects (Moonlight, Manchester, La La Land) and a few unexpected but intriguing picks (like 13th and The Witch).

THE 2016 SEATTLE FILM AWARD NOMINEES:

BEST PICTURE OF THE YEAR:

BEST DIRECTOR:

  • Damien Chazelle – La La Land
  • Robert EggersThe Witch
  • Barry JenkinsMoonlight
  • Paul Verhoeven – Elle
  • Denis Villeneuve – Arrival

BEST ACTOR in a LEADING ROLE:

  • Casey Affleck – Manchester By The Sea
  • Ryan GoslingLa La Land
  • Logan Lerman – Indignation
  • Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic
  • Denzel Washington – Fences

BEST ACTRESS in a LEADING ROLE:

  • Amy Adams – Arrival
  • Kate Beckinsale – Love & Friendship
  • Isabelle Huppert – Elle
  • Natalie Portman – Jackie
  • Emma StoneLa La Land

BEST ACTOR in a SUPPORTING ROLE:

BEST ACTRESS in a SUPPORTING ROLE:

  • Viola Davis – Fences
  • Lily Gladstone – Certain Women
  • Naomie HarrisMoonlight
  • Kate McKinnonGhostbusters
  • Michelle Williams – Manchester By The Sea

BEST ENSEMBLE CAST:

BEST SCREENPLAY:

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE:

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM:

  • EllePaul Verhoeven, director
  • The HandmaidenPark Chan-wook, director
  • The InnocentsAnne Fontaine, director
  • Under The ShadowBabak Anvari, director
  • The WailingNa Hong-jin, director

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE:

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY:

BEST COSTUME DESIGN:

BEST FILM EDITING:

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN:

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:

BEST YOUTH PERFORMANCE (18 years of age or younger upon start of filming):

BEST VILLAIN:

10_Cloverfield_Lane

Film Review: Kubo and the Two Strings (dir by Travis Knight)


Kubo_and_the_Two_Strings_poster

How is it that, this weekend, so much hype is being given to War Dogs and Ben-Hur — two films that you knew weren’t going to be any good from the minute you first saw their trailers — while one of the best films of the year is running the risk of being overlooked?

I just got back from seeing Kubo and The Two Strings and I am insisting that, if you haven’t already, you go out and see it right now.  If you’re busy today, I understand.  See it on Sunday.  You can even see it on Monday if you have to.  But the important thing is that you see it soon.  For the most part, 2016 in cinema has almost been as bad as 2016 in politics.  The year has been dominated by big spectacles, the majority of which do not even attempt to create any sort of emotional connection with the audience.  Don’t get me wrong — there have been some good films but not hardly enough.  Fortunately, Kubo and the Two Strings is the type of film that, if people actually go and see it, can help to redeem an entire year.

In short, I want to wake up on Monday and I want to read that Kubo and The Two Strings won the weekend.  Make it happen!

Kubo and The Two Strings is an animated film and yes, you need to see it in a theater and yes, you need to see it in 3D.  It’s one of the most visually stunning films that I’ve seen this year and, even better, it’s a film that actually has a heart.  When I watched Kubo and The Two Strings, I found myself both laughing and crying and feeling a renewed excitement about the potential of cinema.

Somewhat appropriately, this magical film is about magic, not just spell-casting magic but also the magic that we all have within our soul and locked away in our memories.  Taking place in ancient Japan, it tells the story of Kubo (voiced by Art Parkinson), a one-eyed child who lives in a cave with his sickly mother.  Most of the time, his mother is so out-of-it that she can only sit at the cave entrance and stare out at the distant ocean.  But occasionally, she is lucid enough that she remembers her past and she tells stories about how Kubo’s father was a mighty warrior who battled monsters and went on heroic quests.  She also remembers that Kubo’s grandfather is an evil demon, who is searching for his grandson and who hopes to take away his other eye.

Kubo supports his mother by going into a nearby village and, through the use of origami, magic, and music, telling stories to the townspeople.  His mother always warns Kubo not to say out after sunset.  Inevitably, however, Kubo does just that and soon, his demonic aunts appear in the village.  (The aunts, who are voiced by Rooney Mara, are truly scary.)  The village is destroyed and Kubo’s mother sacrifices her life to save him.

This, of course, all leads to Kubo going on a quest of his own.  He has to find his father’s armor so that he can defeat his grandfather.  Helping him in his quest is Monkey (Charlize Theron) and Beetle (Matthew McConaughey, providing comic relief to an occasionally grim film).  But really, the quest is less about finding the armor and more about Kubo both growing up and coming to terms with the loss of his parents.  Yes, Kubo and The Two Strings may be an animated film and it may be a fantasy and it may feature bits of comedy but it’s a film that inspires very real emotions.  It’s a film that made me cry and it earned every single tear.

(Seriously, I dare you to watch the final five minutes of Kubo and The Two Strings without tearing up.)

Visually, this is an amazing film.  The images are often beautiful, sometimes frightening, and occasionally awe-inspiring.  Kubo’s aunts are pure nightmare fuel and his confrontation with his grandfather (voice by Ralph Fiennes) is magical in more ways than one.  Even beyond that, Kubo and the Two Strings creates a world that feels as real as our own.  It not only visualizes and celebrates film magic but also real-life magic as well.

Kubo and the Two Strings is a great and magical film and it’s one of the best of the year so far.  If you haven’t seen it, go out and see it.  If you’ve already seen it, go see it again.  Don’t wait for it to come out on Blu-ray.  Don’t say, “I’ll see it on cable.”  Don’t wait for Netflix.  See it on a big screen and see it now.

Seriously, don’t miss your chance to experience this movie the way it was meant to be experienced!