Monday, October 31, 2011

British Independent Nominations

Today we have the British Independent Film award nominations. Tyrannosaur, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Shame lead the pack with seven nominations a piece.

The award is equivalent to the indie spirit award here in a America and it has become a good precursor to the BAFTA. Previous winners include Oscar winners The King's Speech, and Slumdog Millionaire as well as Moon and Control.









Nominations 

BEST BRITISH INDEPENDENT FILM
Sponsored by Moët & Chandon 
SENNA
SHAME
TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY
TYRANNOSAUR
WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN

BEST DIRECTOR
Sponsored by The Creative Partnership
Ben Wheatley – KILL LIST
Steve McQueen – SHAME
Tomas Alfredson – TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY
Paddy Considine – TYRANNOSAUR
Lynne Ramsay – WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN

THE DOUGLAS HICKOX AWARD [BEST DEBUT DIRECTOR]
Sponsored by 3 Mills Studios
Joe Cornish – ATTACK THE BLOCK
Ralph Fiennes – CORIOLANUS
John Michael McDonagh – THE GUARD
Richard Ayoade – SUBMARINE
Paddy Considine – TYRANNOSAUR

BEST SCREENPLAY
Sponsored by BBC Films 
John Michael McDonagh – THE GUARD
Ben Wheatley, Amy Jump – KILL LIST
Abi Morgan, Steve McQueen – SHAME
Richard Ayoade – SUBMARINE
Lynne Ramsay, Rory Kinnear – WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN

BEST ACTRESS 
Sponsored by M.A.C
Rebecca Hall – THE AWAKENING
Mia Wasikowska – JANE EYRE
MyAnna Buring – KILL LIST
Olivia Colman – TYRANNOSAUR
Tilda Swinton – WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN

BEST ACTOR
Brendan Gleeson – THE GUARD
Neil Maskell – KILL LIST
Michael Fassbender – SHAME
Gary Oldman – TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY
Peter Mullan – TYRANNOSAUR

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Felicity Jones – ALBATROSS
Vanessa Redgrave – CORIOLANUS
Carey Mulligan – SHAME
Sally Hawkins – SUBMARINE
Kathy Burke – TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR 
Michael Smiley – KILL LIST
Tom Hardy – TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY
Benedict Cumberbatch – TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY
Eddie Marsan – TYRANNOSAUR
Ezra Miller – WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN

MOST PROMISING NEWCOMER
Sponsored by STUDIOCANAL
Jessica Brown Findlay – ALBATROSS
John Boyega – ATTACK THE BLOCK
Craig Roberts – SUBMARINE
Yasmin Paige – SUBMARINE
Tom Cullen – WEEKEND
  
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN PRODUCTION
Sponsored by Deluxe142
KILL LIST
TYRANNOSAUR 
WEEKEND
WILD BILL
YOU INSTEAD 
  
BEST TECHNICAL ACHIEVEMENT
Chris King, Gregers Sall – Editing – SENNA
Sean Bobbitt – Cinematography – SHAME
Joe Walker – Editing – SHAME
Maria Djurkovic – Production Design – TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY
Seamus McGarvey – Cinematography – WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN

BEST DOCUMENTARY 
HELL AND BACK AGAIN
LIFE IN A DAY
PROJECT NIM
SENNA
TT3D: CLOSER TO THE EDGE

BEST BRITISH SHORT
0507
CHALK
LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT
RITE
ROUGH SKIN

BEST FOREIGN INDEPENDENT FILM
ANIMAL KINGDOM
DRIVE
PINA 
A SEPARATION
THE SKIN I LIVE IN

THE RAINDANCE AWARD
Sponsored by Exile Media
ACTS OF GODFREY 
BLACK POND
HOLLOW
LEAVING BAGHDAD 
A THOUSAND KISSES DEEP

THE RICHARD HARRIS AWARD (for outstanding contribution by an actor to British Film)
Sponsored by Working Title
To Be Announced

THE VARIETY AWARD
To Be Announced

THE SPECIAL JURY PRIZE
Announced at the Moët British Independent Film Awards on Sunday 4 December.



Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Studio's Prepare for the Oscars

As the year comes to a close the studios will begin to campaign a handful of films hoping it will lead them to Oscar nominations. The following is a list of each studio and their hopeful films. Enjoy!

Fox SearchLight
Leading the pack is Fox Searchlight with five films. The indie hit Win Win, The Tree of Life which won the Palm d'Or at Cannes, Martha Marcy May Marlene winner of Sundance, The Descendants currently nominated for the Gotham award, and the newly NC-17 rated Venice winner Shame.

Focus Features
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy leads Focus Features hopeful with Hanna, The Debt, The Gotham nominated Beginners, Jane Eyre and the Sundance hit Pariah.


Sony Classic Pictures
Oscar hopeful Midnight in Paris leads Sony's all star lineup that includes A Dangerous Method, Carnage, Take Shelter, Higher Ground, Almodvar's The Skin I Live In and Toronto runner up A Separation.


Warner Bros
Oscar favorite Stephen Daldry's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close enters the competition with Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar, the acclaimed Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Contagion and the animated film Happy Feet 2

Paramount Pictures
Sundance Grand Jury winner Like Crazy leads the pack with Scorsese's Hugo, Jason Reitman's Young Adult, Super 8 and the animated flicks Puss in Boots, Kung Fu Panda 2 and Spielberg's Tintin.

Weinstein Company
Last years Oscar winner brings us the critic darling The Artist, Meryl Streeps' The Iron Lady, My Week with Marilyn, Coriolanus and two smaller hits Submarine and Sarah's Key

Sony Pictures
After a disappointing loss Sony Pictures competes with an even stronger lineup that features the critically acclaimed Moneyball and the Ides of March as well as David Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Anonymous and animated pics Rango and Arthur Christmas.

Dreamworks
Spielberg's Warhorse compete along, and audience favorite The Help

20th Century Fox
We Bought the zoo, the animated film Rio and critically acclaimed effects driven pics X:Men First Class and Rise of the Planet of the Apes hope for Oscar nominations.

Summit Entertainment
A Better Life, Source Code, The Beaver and 50/50 hope to make good cases at the Academy this year.

Disney
Cars 2 and The Muppets lead the week but effective Disney lineup this year.

Oscilloscope
The small studio hopes to surprise with Rampart, Meek's Cutoff and We need to talk about Kevin.

FilmDistrict
The newly opened company competes with the award winning Drive.


Magnolia
Cannes winner Melancholia hopes Kirsten Dunst can pull off the Best Actress award


Marvel Studios
Marvels two well received superhero films Captain America and Thor will give there all to make the best picture list or at least get some type of nomination.

Roadside Attractions
The small indie company had a great year last year and this year with Albert Nobbs and Margin Call they hope to repeat it.



The Skin I Live In Review


By David Salazar

Pedro Almodovar is long famous for his controversial films. His earlier works, more so than his latest, tend to be more violent and confrontational in their approach. The opening sequence of "Matador" shows a man masturbating to the images of women getting mutilated while in another part of the world a woman seduces and kills a young boy. In "The Law of Desire," the viewer is asked to be behind the camera and watch as a young naked model masturbates while an off screen voice gives him direction. "Atame" was about a man kidnapping and torturing a woman until she finally falls in love with him. Almodovar has since taken a more subtle (though no less powerful) approach to his film making as evidenced by his brilliant works "All About my Mother," "Talk to Her", and more recently "Broken Embraces" and "Volver." "Bad Education" made in 2004 represented the only recent glimpse of the early Almodovar, but aside from that film, the disturbing fare of his early films has been kept in check of late.

"The Skin I Live in" is almost a return to this earlier style coupled with the refinement and subtle growth that Almodovar has found of late. Some have classified it as "torture porn" because of its violent nature, but to put it in the same ilk as such trash as the "Saw" franchise or the "Hostel" films (my opinion of course) would be a disservice to Almodovar and what he brings to his films. In fact, this film is impossible to classify into a genre. It can be seen as a retelling of the Frankenstein horror story coupled with science fiction, and a touch of the Hitchcock suspense thriller (particularly Vertigo). Almodovar has called it "a horror story without screams or frights."

One word to describe the film would definitely be disturbing. Antonio Banderas plays Dr. Ledgard, a mad scientist working on creating skin that is immune to burns and disease. He is forbidden to proceed with experimenting on animals by the science community, but Ledgard has already done his experiment on a human: Vera (Elena Anaya), a beautiful but mysterious woman that he holds captive in his large mansion. Who Vera is and why she is there make up the crux of the story and it is while Almodovar unravels this intriguing thread that the disturbing starts to take over. A man dressed in a tiger costume shows up at the front door. Multiple rapes take place. Murder, dangerous experiments, etc. The most impactful aspect of the film is how Almodovar manipulates Anaya's beauty to make the audience identify with Banderas' obsession with her and when he reveals who she really is, the film's most disturbing aspect takes complete hold of the viewer. I have mentioned that this film is more akin to Almodovar's earlier work than his later more restrained films. However there are moments that seem borderline tasteless and difficult to digest in his earlier work. Not the case in this film as the master clearly has better judgement over when enough is enough. That isn't to say that the film does not have difficult content, but it is surely more manageable than in earlier work.

The film represents the first time in 20 years that Banderas and Almodovar collaborate together. For me, Banderas' work with Almodovar still represents the best of his career. Here, Banderas, usually known for his charisma and charm, is everything but that. He remains practically expressionless throughout, maintaining the cool, calculating demeanor of a mad scientist. In his earlier work, men were seen as representatives of the repressive Spanish society, a motif and theme that had been relaxed in later films with regards to representations of males in Almodovar films. Ledgard represents a return to that identification of men as he holds Vera hostage. Elena Anaya  also plays Vera in a collected, consistently expressionless being. These controlled portrayals by the two leads only add the rising tension throughout the film, almost like a chess match between two equal opponents. Marisa Paredes, also seen in multiple Almodovar films, makes a strong turn as Marilia, Ledgard's caretaker.

If there is something that can always be expected from an Almodovar film, it would be the pristine almost too perfect images. Unlike many modern filmmakers which will take to modern cinematic conventions with ease, Almodovar's use of the camera remains economic and completely controlled. He clearly understands the strengths and weaknesses of different techniques and employs them sparingly when they can have their greatest impact. Almodovar's films tend to have wide ranging palettes filled with vibrancy, but Jose Luis Alcaine's gorgeous cinematography in this film tends toward a darker and cooler palette.

Alberto Iglesias, one of the great film composers of today, gives the film a memorable score. The instrumentation is relatively light throughout: a piano and strings, a solo violin akin to a solo Bach Partita or Ysaye Sonata. But it adds tremendous energy and propulsion.

"The Skin I Live in" represents an interesting film considering the latest work Almodovar has created. But it enables the viewer to reflect on the growth and passion of the early Almodovar and his turn into a true cinematic master. If you have seen Almodovar's work, you know that he always knows how to shock you. This film is no different.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

First Oscar Predictions: Best Director


This year many great directors will battle to get a spot in the best director category and without a doubt one of them will get left out.

These are in particular order
1. Steven Spielberg-Warhorse-Even though the film has not been seen, it is generating a lot of buzz which is a plus. Warhorse hits theaters in December which is always a plus because it will be fresh in voters minds. However with no reviews and festival screenings, it is hard to see if this film is really as good as it promises.




2. Stephen Daldry-Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close-I picked this film over others because the trailer looks amazing and because Daldry manages to always make the best director list with every movie he makes.








3. Michel Hazanavicius-The Artist-Its always inspiring to see a filmmaker who goes against the current trend. Executing a silent film in this time period is not always accepted but The Artist has been the darling of festivals and of critics making it a top choice for the best director nomination. 






4. Alexander Payne-The Descendants-The film is already nominated for the Gotham Awards making it a favorite with awards already. In addition the festival circuit loved the film and this is never an easy task. Alexander Payne is a already a nominee increasing his chances in this category.




5. Woody Allen-Midnight in Paris-This is Woody Allen's best film in decades and he should be recognized for such an achievement.






Other Contenders
Tomas Alfredson-Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy-Reviews were amazing and the film is Focus Features' main contender making Alfredson a threat.











Terrence Malick-The Tree of Life-He won the Palm d'or at Cannes and the film was wonderfully received. In addition, Malick's film is original and visually stunning.










Steve McQueen-Shame-The film everyone is talking about could get enough attention to get McQueen a nomination. 












Nicolas Winding Refn-Winning best director at Cannes is a major step in the right direction. However he can end up like Cronenberg who has yet to be nominated regardless of winning awards around the world.










David Cronenberg-A Dangerous Method-Having obtained a mild reaction is never a good thing and only a great Oscar campaign can save this highly anticipated film.












Bennett Miller-Moneyball-Rave reviews and a nominations under his belt are the right formula for a repeat nomination. 

The Gotham Nominations revealed

Today the Gotham Independent awards nominations were revealed and while these awards never indicate Oscars they are still prestigious. The past winners include Winter's Bone, The Hurt Locker, Frozen River, and Into the Wild

The following are the nominations

Best Feature
  • Beginners
  • The Descendants
  • Meek's Cutoff
  • Take Shelter
  • The Tree of Life



Best Documentary
  • Better This World
  • Bill Cunningham New York
  • Hell and Back Again
  • The Interrupters
  • The Woodmans
Best Ensemble Performance
  • Beginners
    Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, Mélanie Laurent, Goran Visnjic, Kai Lennox, Mary Page Keller, Keegan Boos
  • The Descendants
    George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Beau Bridges, Robert Forster, Judy Greer, Matthew Lillard, Nick Krause, Amara Miller, Mary Birdsong, Rob Huebel
  • Margin Call
    Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Zachary Quinto, Penn Badgley, Simon Baker, Mary McDonnell, Demi Moore, Stanley Tucci, Aasif Mandvi
  • Martha Marcy May Marlene
    Elizabeth Olsen, Christopher Abbott, Brady Corbet, Hugh Dancy, Maria Dizzia, Julia Garner, John Hawkes, Louisa Krause, Sarah Paulson
  • Take Shelter
    Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Tova Stewart, Shea Whigham, Katy Mixon, Kathy Baker, Ray McKinnon, Lisagay Hamilton, Robert Longstreet
Breakthrough Director
  • Mike Cahill for Another Earth
  • Sean Durkin for Martha Marcy May Marlene
  • Vera Farmiga for Higher Ground
  • Evan Glodell for Bellflower
  • Dee Rees for Pariah
Breakthrough Actor
  • Felicity Jones in Like Crazy
  • Elizabeth Olsen in Martha Marcy May Marlene
  • Harmony Santana in Gun Hill Road
  • Shailene Woodley in The Descendants
  • Jacob Wysocki in Terri
Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You
  • Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same
  • Green
  • The Redemption of General Butt Naked
  • Scenes of a Crime
  • Without
Nominees for the Calvin Klein Spotlight on Women Filmmakers 'Live the Dream' Grant
  • Jenny Deller, director, Future Weather
  • Lucy Mulloy, director, Una Noche
  • Rola Nashef, director, Detroit Unleashed
Martha Marcy May Marlene and The Descendants lead the way with the most nominations. In addition Fox Searchlight enjoyed two films in the top category The Descendants and The Tree of Life. 


Friday, October 14, 2011

First Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actress



This category has many hopefuls and no one set.

The following are in no particular order
courtsey of HitFix
1. Carey Mulligan-Shame-Mulligan is one of the finest young actresses in the business. In 2009 she lost her nomination to Sandra Bullock, an award she deserved. Her performance is getting a lot of traction but the issue with this film is will voters look at a film that is bound to get an NC-17 rating.



2. Vanessa Redgrave-Coriolanus- After Berlin film festival, Redgrave received a lot of attention and her performance seems to be the showiest of the movie.






courtesy of caughtonset.com

3. Sandra Bullock Extremely Loud and  Incredibly Close-The trailer to this film looks exceptional and Bullock looks very committed to her performance. In addition she is recently off her win, making her a current favorite of the academy.





4. Octavia Spencer-The Help-Spencer is gaining a lot of traction for her witty performance in The Help, a film that has become very popular with audiences making it a front runner.





5. Shailene Woodley-The Descendants-She is a newcomer and it seems that she is really good. The film is getting good buzz giving Woodley a very good chance at a nomination.



At the moment I have no one else in mind who could compete in this category. I will update as the awards season begins.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

New York Film Festival Review: The Student



By David Salazar

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of watching "The Student" (El Estudiante) by Argentinian director.  Santiago Mitre. The film tells the story of a college student who becomes wrapped up in school politics when he falls for a professor. As Mitre stated in a Q and A after the screening, the film not only attempts to portray Argentinian politics on a school level, but also hopes to provide a metaphor for Argentinian politics at large. 
The film seems intent on present betrayal and side swapping in Argentinian politics. Characters change sides constantly, leaving the audience in suspense as to who the next traitor might be and creating a dynamic of persistent unease and restlessness between the different characters. The theme of the constant flux of political currents is not only limited to the political sphere. Roque, played by Esteban Lamothe in a subdued but effective performance, might not be a traitor in politics, but he has no problems switching women at his convenience or at the spur of the moment. As the film initiates, he is in a relationship with his friend Valeria (played by Valeria Correa) and even lives at her home, but goes on to find another woman when he gets tired of Valeria. Later he ends up with Paula (Romina Paula in a solid performance), but when trouble strikes and the hormones come calling, he has no problem turning to another woman. But the interesting note is that this betrayal does not seem to bother any of the woman as they do the same. When Roque goes after another girl, Valeria's response is to do the same and pursue another man. It is insinuated that Paula is sleeping with party leader Acevedo (Riccardo Felix) and so on. The film does an excellent job of portraying the parallels of betrayal in not only the public, but also the private sphere. 
Mitre's film is filled with momentum provided not only from its propulsive script, but by the energetic  and gritty documentary style cinematography (by no less than four cinematographers). The production design, while limited is highly effective, especially when considering that most of the footage in the school was done by inserting the actors into live events and grabbing actual documentary footage of student rally's and protests. 
I would like to add that the film's major strength (it's exposure of Argentinian culture), also happens to be it's greatest weakness. The film's characters spend a great portion of the film around tables spewing out conversations about Argentinian politics and parties, without ever identifying what any of it means. While this may have been detrimental for the naturalism of the scenes, it essentially alienates many audience members that have no idea what any of the names mean or represent. I understand that the purpose of the film is not to take political sides, but to instead show the instability and volubility of politicians. However, the lack of symbolic representation, while giving the film a more natural feel, takes away from the audience's ability to relate to any of the conversations, making them feel empty. A good portion of the film's middle act is dedicated to such conversations and this is likely the most trying portion of the film. 
But when Mitre decides to return to common human interactions and conversations, the film takes off once more and propels itself to a poignant ending, which is truly a magnificent example of utilizing economy and simplicity effectively. 

After the screening, Santiago Mitre answered some audience questions. Below is a video of the interview. I apologize for the poor video quality and any sound problems. 

video