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.


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

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.


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:

CONTEST: See Who's Playing!

It's here! In less than two days, this year's Oscar nominees will be announced. And as we wait in anticipation of the big day, 31 bloggers have signed up to test their skills at predicting this year's Oscar nominations. Among our returning players are former winners Gautam and Ryan, who will surely be in the running for the prize again. So get those thinking caps on and be sure to visit all these blogs and show them some love. Good luck!

Me! - Film Actually
Heather - That Film Girl
Christopher - Awards Madness
Tony - Coogs Reviews
Stewart - Talkie Gazette
Gautam - The Cinemaholic (2014 winner!)
Todd - All My Life I Wanted To Be a Blogster
Michael - Movie Parliament
Murtada - ME_Says (2015 runner-up!)*
Daniel - Chicago Cinema Circuit
Jessica - French Toast Sunday
Josh - The Cinematic Spectacle
Sam - The Awards Circuit
Matt F. - Movie Awards Plus
Ryan - Lord of the Films (2015 winner!)*
Andrew - A Fistful of Films
Joe - The MN Movie Man
Ross - Wholly Cinema
John - John Likes Movies
Andrew - The Awards Connection
Jason - The Entertainment Junkie
Donovan - Awards and Such
Paul - Paul's Trip to the Movies
Jay - Life vs Film
James - The Gold Knight
Terence - Le Noir Auteur

*Winner decided on tiebreaker.

- Your predictions are due by 6PM EST on Jan 23rd. They will then be posted here on a spreadsheet for everyone to see.
- Remember: once you have sent me the link, those will be entered as your FINAL predictions. No further changes will be accepted.

Click here for a reminder of all the rules/instructions.

Friday, January 20, 2017

OSCAR WATCH: The Animated Films

Aside from the year 2012, this year's crop of Oscar contenders for Best Animated Feature is one of the strongest in recent times. Indeed, from the sampling of finalists I saw, I was quite impressed with the overall quality of the field. With a range of styles from hand-drawn to CGI, diversity in themes and a true international flavor, the films are a great representation of the animation world today. As always, I've written down some thoughts on all the ones I've seen (11 out of 27), in addition to my personal ranking and final predictions:

Thursday, January 19, 2017


By most accounts, this will be a banner year for Best Original Song at the Oscars. Spearheaded by musical films like "Sing Street" and "La La Land", the category is unusually stacked with memorable tunes. There are just so many great options that this is going to be one of the hardest set of nominations to predict. But I'm gonna give it the old college try. Here's an overview of some of this year's leading contenders, followed by my personal Top 5 and my predictions:

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

REVIEW: A Man Called Ove

The grumpy old man is surely one of the most recognizable stock characters in cinema and even in real life. And if Hannes Holm‘s “A Man Called Ove” is any indication, he is also one of the most misunderstood. In the typically quirky style of Swedish comedies, this portrait of one such man explores a troubled life to reveal an affectingly heartwarming story.

Read more at The Awards Circuit

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


The Brits have chimed in and once again, "La La Land" leads the pack. But the surprise twist was their love for "Nocturnal Animals", with Tom Ford and Aaron Taylor-Johnson once again getting Director and Supporting Actor nods, as the film sweeped up a 9-nomination haul. And there were further shocks in store with snubs for Denzel Washington and Barry Jenkins. It seems like Oscar lineups aren't as settled as we thought! Here are the BAFTA nominees for 2016:

Best Picture
I, Daniel Blake
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea

Best British Film
American Honey
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
I, Daniel Blake
Notes on Blindness
Under the Shadow

Best Actor
Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge)
Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)
Jake Gyllenhaal (Nocturnal Animals)
Ryan Gosling (La La Land)
Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic)

Best Actress
Amy Adams (Arrival)
Emily Blunt (The Girl on the Train)
Emma Stone (La La Land)
Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)
Natalie Portman (Jackie)

Best Supporting Actor
Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Nocturnal Animals)
Dev Patel (Lion)
Hugh Grant (Florence Foster Jenkins)
Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water )
Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)

Best Supporting Actress
Hayley Squires (I, Daniel Blake)
Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea)
Naomie Harris (Moonlight)
Nicole Kidman (Lion)
Viola Davis (Fences)

Denis Villeneuve (Arrival)
Ken Loach (I, Daniel Blake)
Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea)
Tom Ford (Nocturnal Animals)

Sunday, January 8, 2017

OSCAR WATCH: Golden Globe Awards

So, remember when I said that "La La Land" had been brought down to earth by its SAG Ensemble snub? Oops! If tonight was any indication, there's not stopping this freight train. In a historic sweep, this Damien Chazelle-directed musical won 7 Golden Globes, i.e. every award it was nominated for. Overall, it made for a fairly predictable night (I scored 10 out of 14), except for that shocking Supporting Actor win for Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Does he have a shot at Oscar? That category is going to be really fun to watch, likewise Best Actress, where Isabelle Huppert got a crucial win tonight. It's gonna be one heck of an awards season.

Here are tonight's Golden Globe winners:

Best Motion Picture Drama

Best Motion Picture Comedy/Musical
La La Land

Best Actor Drama
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

Best Actress Drama

Isabelle Huppert, Elle

Best Actor Comedy/Musical
Ryan Gosling, La La Land

Best Actress Comedy/Musical
Emma Stone, La La Land

Best Director
Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Best Supporting Actress
Viola Davis, Fences

Best Supporting Actor
Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Nocturnal Animals

Saturday, January 7, 2017

OSCAR WATCH: Golden Globe Predictions

The next major stop on the awards circuit is here with the Golden Globe Awards, a show that can always be depended on for an entertaining night. Who's gonna come out on top? I'm expecting a lot of love for "La La Land", with a few surprises in store. Here are my predictions.

Best Motion Picture Drama

Best Motion Picture Comedy/Musical
La La Land

Best Actor Drama
Denzel Washington, Fences

Best Actress Drama

Natalie Portman, Jackie

Best Actor Comedy/Musical
Ryan Gosling, La La Land

Best Actress Comedy/Musical
Emma Stone, La La Land

Best Director
Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Best Supporting Actress
Viola Davis, Fences

Best Supporting Actor
Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

CONTEST: Predict the Oscar Nominations!

We're off to a later start than usual, but have no fear...the Film Actually Oscar Contest is back! As always we have some fun prizes and friendly competition in store. If you've played before, then you know the drill. But for the newbies, here's a rundown of the rules below. The aim of the game is simple - predict as many Oscar nominations as you can.

Once again, the top prize will be a $50 gift card (USD, or the equivalent in another currency) for the Amazon store of your choice (US, UK, Canada etc). In addition, there are other bonus prizes up for grabs (read below).

1. This contest is open to any interested bloggers.
2. To register: fill out the entry form below by 6PM US Eastern Time on January 21st, 2016.
3. To submit your predictions: send me (via twitter or email) a link to your blog post with your FINAL predictions. I will then save your predictions and enter them into my spreadsheet. Your predictions are due by 6PM US Eastern Time on January 23rd, 2016. Absolutely no changes to your predictions will be accepted after they have been submitted.
4. Here are the categories I need you to include:

BEST ORIGINAL SONG(name the song, not just the film)

Each correct prediction will earn you 1 point. However, in the Best Picture category, every wrong prediction will lose you 1 point. With the current rules for this category (anywhere between 5-10 nominees), this will force you to choose wisely!

1. The person with the highest score will receive a $50 online gift card (USD or the equivalent in another currency) for their relevant Amazon store (US, UK, Canada etc.).
2. In the event of a tie, the winner will be the person who scores highest in the Best Picture category. If there's still a tie, we'll go to Best Director and further down the list (in the order above) until the tie is broken. The loser of the tie will receive a DVD/Blu-ray of one of last year's Best Picture nominees (your choice).
3. Anyone who is the only person to predict a particular nomination correctly will receive a DVD/Blu-ray of one of last year's Best Picture nominees (your choice).