Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Critical Week: Bafta night 2016

It was a Valentine's theme for this year's Baftas, as the British Academy Film Awards fell on February 14th. The ceremony was eerily subdued, with host Stephen Fry engaging in the same witty erudition he has used in 10 previous ceremonies. There were no musical performances this year to break the monotony, and only a few memorable moments (Rebel Wilson's speech was the comedy highlight). Valentine's touches included an opening Kiss Cam, which yielded the unexpected sight of Leonardo DiCaprio locking lips with Maggie Smith. And Leo reunited with his Titanic costar Kate Winslet - both were winners (above).

Speaking of which, awards themselves took a fairly predictable route, with only a few mild surprises. The Revenant nabbed five (film, director, actor, cinematography, sound); Mad Max: Fury Road won four (costumes, editing, production design, makeup/hair); and Star Wars: The Force Awakens won two (visual effects and rising star for John Boyega, below). The other prizes were scattered between Room, Steve Jobs, Bridge of Spies, Spotlight, The Big Short, Brooklyn, The Hateful Eight, Amy, Inside Out, Theeb and Wild Tales.

Frankly, the Bafta ceremony needs a shake-up. First, find a new host who can bring some fresh attitude and a spin on the usual format. Second, broadcast the entire ceremony live rather than on a tape delay with a third of the categories left out. In the Instagram age, the winners are all public knowledge before the show airs, so this archaic approach from the BBC is simply absurd, and it belittles Bafta's impact.

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C R I T I C A L   W E E K

As for films I saw this past week, the biggest was Zoolander 2, a sequel just as silly as the original, which means that it feels like a disappointment. But I laughed. The best of the week was Sing Street, the latest hugely involving music-infused drama from the brilliant John Carney (Once, Begin Again), this time set in mid-80s Dublin. Terrence Malick's Knight of Cups is an evocative, kaleidoscopic exploration of the emptiness of fame. Strikingly photographed and played (by Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett and Natalie Portman, among others), it feels oddly lacking in insight. Richard Gere is a mopey homeless man in Oren Moverman's beautifully observed but painfully slow Time Out of Mind. And the inventively stylised Belgian drama The Brand New Testament takes a witty premise (God is alive and living in Brussels) and spins it into something involving and thought-provoking.

This coming week we get to catch up with the Coen brothers' all-star Hollywood comedy Hail, Caesar, Robin Williams' final drama Boulevard and the British heist movie Golden Years, among others.

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