Tuesday, 3 March 2015
The other gorgeously well-made big-budget film was Suite Francaise, based on Irene Nemirovsky's acclaimed novel and starring an especially superb Michelle Williams, Matthias Schoenaerts and Kristin Scott Thomas. We also had very late screenings of two films opening this week around the world, and both have had their reviews embargoed until later in the week: Neil Blomkamp's Chappie and the Vince Vaughn comedy Unfinished Business.
A bit further afield, there was Salma Hayek energetically fighting off a steady stream of goons in Everly, Julia Stiles and Scott Speedman facing creepy child ghosts in Colombia in Out of the Dark, Jean Dujardin chasing an elusive drug dealer in The Connection, a group of kids trying to be themselves in the astute comedy-drama Geography Club, some comically inept East End London criminals in the rather tired Hackney's Finest, and a subtle exploration of unexpected young love in Berlin in Silent Youth.
Sunday, 1 March 2015
Tuesday, 24 February 2015
As for screenings last week, I took it a bit quietly. The biggest movie was The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, a surreal romp that never tries to be anything but bonkers. The best film was Celine Sciamma's Girlhood, an astonishing, artful exploration of how it feels to be an outsider. And there was also Jennifer Lopez in the overwrought slushy thriller The Boy Next Door, Kodi Smit-McPhee in the mopey and introspective All the Wilderness, and the darkly inventive, provocatively moving Brazilian drama Futuro Beach. We also had the launch of this year's BFI Flare line-up, which looks unusually strong (the festival runs 19-29 March).
Coming up this week, Michelle Williams in Suite Francaise, Hugh Jackman in Chappie, Salma Hayek in Everly, Jean Dujardin in The Connection, British crime thriller Hackney's Finest, and horse-racing doc Dark Horse, plus catching up on things I skipped last week...
Sunday, 22 February 2015
Saturday, 21 February 2015
I'll be watching the ceremony at the official Ampas Oscar party in London this year - it starts at 11pm and goes until 5am, shortly after Best Picture is announced. Then I can go home and take a long nap!
Here are my choices and predictions - I doubt I'll do as well as last year, when I only missed one...
Will/should win: Boyhood
Could win: Birdman
Dark horse: American Sniper
Will win: Alejandro G Inarritu - Birdman
Could/should win: Richard Linklater - Boyhood
Will/should win: Eddie Redmayne - The Theory of Everything
Could win: Michael Keaton - Birdman
Dark horse: Bradley Cooper - American Sniper
Will/should win: Julianne Moore - Still Alice
Will win: J.K. Simmons - Whiplash
Should win: Mark Ruffalo - Foxcatcher
Will/should win: Patricia Arquette - Boyhood
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Will win: Ida
Should/could win: Leviathan
ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
Will win: Big Hero 6
Could win: The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
Should win: How to Train Your Dragon 2
Will/should win: Citizenfour
Could win: Virunga
Will win: The Imitation Game - Graham Moore
Could win: American Sniper - Jason Hall
Should win: Inherent Vice - Paul Thomas Anderson
Will/should win: The Grand Budapest Hotel - Wes Anderson, Hugo Guinness
Could win: Birdman - Alejandro G Inarritu, et al
Will/should win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Will win: Foxcatcher
Could win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Should win: Guardians of the Galaxy
Will/should win: Johann Johannsson - The Theory of Everything
Could win: Alexandre Desplat - The Grand Budapest Hotel
Will win: Glory - Selma
Should win: Everything Is Awesome - The Lego Movie
Will win: Birdman - Emmanuel Lubezki
Could win: Mr Turner - Dick Pope
Should win: Ida - Ryszard Lenczewski, Lukasz Zal
SOUND EDITING / SOUND MIXING
Will/should win: American Sniper
Will win: Interstellar
Could win: Guardians of the Galaxy
Should win: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Will/should win: Boyhood
Could win: Whiplash
Dark horse: American Sniper
Tuesday, 17 February 2015
Big movies screened this past week include the all-star British sequel The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, reuniting the likes of Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Bill Nighy plus Richard Gere and Tamsin Grieg (comments are embargoed). Will Smith and Margot Robbie star in the conman romp Focus, which uneasily mixes a heist thriller with a rom-com. Chris Hemsworth plays a hacker in the cyberthriller Blackhat, another awkward mix of mystery drama and romance.
A little further afield, the fan doc Backstreet Boys: Show 'Em What You're Made Of is engaging without scratching the surface; Francois Ozon's The New Girlfriend is utterly magical filmmaking with amazing performances and some complex, important things to say; the low-budget The Last Straight Man is an astute two-hander exploring male friendships and relationships and the blurred line of sexuality; Dreamcatcher is an award-winning doc that can't help but inspire us to reach out to our community; Kissing Darkness is a corny gay comedy-horror about vampires in the woods; and Global Warming is a collection of four provocative comedy-drama shorts by Reid Waterer - two are very good, two are just ok.
And I'll be watching the Oscars live all night Sunday night - best picture is usually announced just as the sun is coming up on Monday morning in London.
By the way, the blog passed 100,000 hits this week.
Monday, 9 February 2015
The other big winner was Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel, which took home five Baftas: Original Screenplay, Score, Production Design, Costumes and Make-up & Hair. Other triple winners were The Theory of Everything (British Film, Actor, Adapted Screenplay) and Whiplash (Supporting Actor, Editing and Sound). Pictured at the right is Best Actress winner Julianne Moore with presenters Henry Cavill and Chris Evans, and Best Actor winner Eddie Redmayne with the person he played in the film, Stephen Hawking.
Bafta is always a strange one, because the BBC refuses to broadcast it live, waiting a few hours and chopping it down to two hours to show later at night - meaning there are several "awards presented earlier" bits in the closing credits. This butchers the ceremony's flow and momentum, leaving it feeling oddly dry and dull. It doesn't help that Stephen Fry has been hosting just a bit too long - he's still timely and pithy, but offers nothing remotely new from year to year.
As for other awards, Bafta usually gets to present at least one worthy winner that Oscar ignored, and Sunday night's was The Lego Movie, which won Animated Feature. It was also great to see Ida win Foreign-Language Film and Pride's writer and producer win the Outstanding Debut award. Finally, it was no surprise that Jack O'Connell won the Rising Star Award - he's had an awesome year with Starred Up, '71, Unbroken and even 300: Rise of an Empire.
Meanwhile, Screenings this past week were all rather low-key titles, including the strikingly involving transgender comedy-drama Boy Meets Girl, the enjoyable British indie alien invasion adventure Robot Overlords, the astonishing Ukrainian deaf-gang drama The Tribe and the eye-opening narrative documentary The Man Who Saved the World. I also got a chance to see Blade Runner: The Final Cut on a big screen for the first time in advance of its re-release in a couple of months.
This coming week's collection will include the event movie Fifty Shades of Grey, Will Smith in Focus, Chris Hemsworth in Blackhat, Francois Ozon's The New Girlfriend, the Kiwi drama The Dark Horse and the acclaimed doc Dreamcatcher.