Monday, February 13, 2017

OSCAR WATCH: BAFTA Awards


Making headlines that could have been written before the show even happened, "La La Land" once again came out on top at a major awards show, claiming 5 honors, including Best Film, Best Director and Best Actress. But though it took home a substantial haul, the Brits did shine a light on some other films, notably "Lion", which performed surprisingly well with wins for Best Supporting Actor (Dev Patel) and Best Adapted Screenplay. With these further question marks in the awards race, it will certainly be interesting to see how much AMPAS matches up with their counterparts across the pond. Here are the winners of the 2017 BAFTA Awards:

Best Picture
La La Land

Best British Film
I, Daniel Blake

Best Actor
Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)

Best Actress
Emma Stone (La La Land)

Best Supporting Actor
Dev Patel (Lion)

Best Supporting Actress
Viola Davis (Fences)

Director
Damien Chazelle (La La Land)

Saturday, February 11, 2017

OSCAR WATCH: BAFTA Predictions


Tomorrow is pretty much the last major stop in precursor season with BAFTA Awards and it's virtually guaranteed that it's gonna be a "La La Land" lovefest. Still, it's gonna be interesting to see how Best Actress and Best Original Screenplay turn out. Here are my predictions:

Best Picture
La La Land

Best British Film
I, Daniel Blake

Best Actor
Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)

Best Actress
Emma Stone (La La Land)

Best Supporting Actor
Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Nocturnal Animals)

Best Supporting Actress
Viola Davis (Fences)

Director
Damien Chazelle (La La Land)

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Best of 2016: Top 10 Films of the Year


Oh 2016, a year many of us would like to forget. As the world seemed to turn upside down, the movies were there however to comfort us. On a personal level, those cinematic joys came not from grand escapist spectacles, but from much more modest efforts. With the arguable exception of "La La Land", it was a year highlighted by unanticipated "small" films with big ideas. Indeed, if you look on the list below, you won't find any films from the major film studios. And perhaps as a further sign of the times, documentaries capitalized on the zeitgeist in a big way, with a trio of non-fiction entries landing spots, two of them explicitly examining race in America. Coupled with my literary introductions to Ta-Nehisi Coates, James Baldwin and Langston Hughes, the influence of social issues on my film-going experiences was therefore inescapable. And you'll notice that impact from the very first film on my list of the Top 10 Films of 2016, which including quotes from my reviews.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Best of 2016: Top 20 Acting Performances


As the question of whether true movie stars still exist continues to be up for debate, the performances of 2016 showed that the quality of modern acting shows no sign of decreasing. In particular, the year produced terrific ensemble work, whether through sizzling duets or large but cohesive troupes. Indeed, among my Top 20 you'll several double citations for certain films and in one case, an awesome trio. Before I unveil my list however, I'd like to acknowledge a few outstanding young actors with Honorable Mentions. They are...

Honorable Mention: Ferdia Walsh-Peelo & Lucy Boynton in Sing Street, Julian Dennison in Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Markees Christmas in Morris from America.

OSCAR WATCH: SAG Awards


Well, that was interesting! In one of the more surprising SAG Awards ceremonies in recent years, Hidden Figures and Denzel Washington picked up surprise wins for Ensemble and Actor respectively. What does this mean for Oscar? Probably not much of Best Picture, but Best Actor definitely seems more competitive now. Here are last night's winners:

Best Ensemble
Hidden Figures

Best Actor
Denzel Washington, Fences

Best Actress
Emma Stone, La La Land

Best Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Best Supporting Actress
Viola Davis, Fences

Saturday, January 28, 2017

OSCAR WATCH: SAG Predictions


After Tuesday's Oscar nominations proved that "La La Land" is indeed the one to beat, the SAG Awards could potentially indicate which film is its main challenger for Best Picture. The film was notably missing for the top prize of Best Ensemble, paving the way for another contender to grab a brief spotlight. Will it be Moonlight or Manchester by the Sea? Or maybe even Fences or Hidden Figures? Check out my predictions below and don't forget to tune in on Sunday night to see who comes out on top.

Best Ensemble
Moonlight

Best Actor
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

Best Actress
Emma Stone, La La Land

Best Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Best Supporting Actress
Viola Davis, Fences

Thursday, January 26, 2017

COMING SOON: I Am Not Your Negro

Fresh off its much deserved Oscar nomination, the best documentary of 2016 will finally be released to a wider audience next week. Directed by the great Raoul Peck, this incendiary work takes its cues from James Baldwin's unfinished novel "Remember This House" to tell the story of race in America. It's honest, frank and absolutely essential. Check out the trailer below:



"I Am Not Your Negro" opens in theaters February 3rd.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

CONTEST: The Results!

What a morning that was! The Oscar nominations have finally been announced and as always there was much to discuss. Most notably, the Academy embraced diversity in a big way this year, with persons of color nominated across the board, including rare mentions in Cinematography and Editing. As far as this contest goes, it was quite competitive with most people seeming to improve on their scores from previous years. But at the end of the day, there was a clear winner.

AND THE WINNER IS...



Gautam Anand of The Cinemaholic

Gautam therefore wins the $50 Amazon gift card. This is his second time winning the competition, after taking the top spot in 2014. Congratulations!

There are also a few bonus prizes for those clever persons who were the only ones to pick a certain nomination:

Donovan for predicting "The Empty Chair" for Best Original Song.
Jason for predicting 20th Century Women for Best Original Screenplay.
Sam for predicting 13 Hours for Best Sound Mixing.
Stewart for predicting Passengers for Production Design AND Suicide Squad for Best Makeup/Hairstyling.

As always, there is at least one nomination that stumped us all. This year it was Passengers getting in for Best Original Score.

You can now head on over to the full spreadsheet to see how everyone fared. I hope you had fun and look forward to hosting you all again next year!

CONTEST: The Predictions!


The predictions are in! Once again, I'd like to thank you all for participating and wish you the best of luck.

Click the link below to see all the predictions:




N.B. - A "1" indicates your prediction. If you predict correctly, you keep the point. If not, then you get 0. In Best Picture, you get -1 for every wrong prediction.

Once the nominations have been announced, I'll start working on the spreadsheet and the official results should be posted by 3 PM US Eastern time.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

OSCAR WATCH: The Documentary Features


Year after year, the Oscar shortlist for Best Documentary Feature provides us with a bounty of riches. Indeed, some of the most exciting filmmaking is happening through this medium, particularly as it taps into the zeitgeist. Race relations continued to be tense in America and around the world, prompting several documentarians to put a focus on this theme. But it wasn't the only area of concern, as an array of subjects found their way onto the screen. I was fortunate to catch 14 of the 15 finalists and they all captivated me in different ways. Below are my thoughts on them all, followed by a personal ranking and my predictions: