The Watchers

The Watchers

Tuesday 5 December 2023

Awards Season 2024: Film Independent Spirit Awards Nominations

Well, this snuck up on me (as the actress said to the bishop). 

Life has properly got in the way and I didn't realise that Awards Season 2024 had officially begun. But it has, so I'm playing just a little bit of catch-up. 

Today (Tuesday 5th December) saw the announcement of the nominees for the 39th Independent Spirit Awards. The nominations were announced by Joel Kim Booster (Fire Island, Big Mouth, Psychosexual) and Natalie Morales (The Little Things, No Hard Feelings, Santa Clarita Diet). 

You will no doubt be aware by now that these awards recognise films made wholly or partly outside the traditional studio system. Last year, the eligibility budget was raised to $30 million dollars, and gender-neutral acting categories were introduced. 

Below is a selection of nominations:

Best Feature
All Of Us Strangers
American Fiction
May December
Past Lives
We Grown Now

Best Director
Andrew Haigh (All Of Us Strangers)
Todd Haynes (May December)
William Oldroyd (Eileen)
Celine Song (Past Lives)
Ira Sachs (Passages)

Best Lead Performance
Jessica Chastain (Memory)
Greta Lee (Past Lives)
Trace Lysette (Monica)
Natalie Portman (May December)
Judy Reyes (Birth/Rebirth)
Franz Rogowski (Passages)
Andrew Scott (All Of Us Strangers)
Teyana Taylor (A Thousand And One)
Jeffrey Wright (American Fiction)
Teo Yoo (Past Lives)

Best Supporting Performance
Erika Alexander (American Fiction)
Sterling K. Brown (American Fiction)
Noah Galvin (Theater Camp)
Anne Hathaway (Eileen)
Glenn Howerton (BlackBerry)
Marin Ireland (Eileen)
Charles Melton (May December)
Da'Vine Joy Randolph (The Holdovers)
Catalina Saavedra (Rotting In The Sun)
Ben Whishaw (Passages)

A full list of nominees can be found here.

Past Lives (a romantic drama about two childhood friends [Greta Lee and Teo Yoo] who reunite twenty years after one of them emigrates from South Korea to Canada), American Fiction (a comedy-drama in which a frustrated Black novelist [Jeffrey Wright] uses a pen-name to write an outrageous "Black" book as a joke, only to find it being critically lauded), and May December (a drama in which a married couple's [Julianne Moore and Charles Melton] controversial relationship begins to buckle when an actress [Natalie Portman] meets them to do some research for a film about their lives) lead the pack with five nominations apiece.

Passages (a controversial drama where a gay couple [Franz Rogowski and Ben Whishaw] find their relationship in crisis when one begins an affair with a woman) and The Holdovers (a comedy-drama where a history teacher [Paul Giamatti] at a remote school is forced to remain on campus over Christmas with a troubled student who has nowhere to go) received four each.

The 39th Film Independent Spirit Awards ceremony will take place at the usual Santa Monica beachside tent on 24th February 2024, hosted by Aidy Bryant (Saturday Night Live, Human Resources, The Big Sick).

Congratulations to all the nominees!

As I didn't get a chance to do my usual "For Your Consideration" post, I'm going to include the important dates here. So, the timetable for the rest of the major awards in 2024 is as follows:

Golden Globes
Nominations announced: 11th December 2023
Awards ceremony: 7th January 2024

Critics' Choice Award
Nominations announced: 13th December 2023
Awards ceremony: 14th January 2024

Directors' Guild Of America (DGA) Award
Nominations announced: 10th January 2024
Awards ceremony: 17th February 2024

Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards
Nominations announced: 10th January 2024
Awards ceremony: 24th February 2024

Producers' Guild Of America (PGA) Award
Nominations announced: 12th January 2024
Awards ceremony: 25th February 2024

BAFTA Film Awards
Nominations announced: 18th January 2024
Awards ceremony: 18th February 2024

Golden Raspberry Awards (Razzies)
Nominations announced: 22nd January 2024
Awards ceremony: 9th March 2024

Academy Awards (Oscars)
Nominations announced: 23rd January 2024
Awards ceremony: 10th March 2024 (hosted by Jimmy Kimmel)

Let the fun begin!

Tuesday 31 October 2023

Watchers Productions Presents... Strange Tales: Just Meat

After something of a hiatus, Watchers Productions are delighted to announce the return of our Strange Tales short films, with our eighth offering, and one that's perfect for Halloween...


Written by Rhys Jones with Matthew Ford & Terrance Marshman-Edwards, and directed by Rhys Jones

Starring: Victoria George-Veale (Catrin), Hannah Celyn Griffiths (Zoe), Samuel Rush (Tommy), with Jennifer Higgins and John Wheeler

It's just an ordinary night for delivery driver Tommy - until he finds himself in a life-or-death situation with one particular drop-off. What has happened to Catrin? 

You can watch Just Meat here!

For more information about our Strange Tales project, the other films already released and those currently in production, please see the Watchers Productions website.

Sunday 12 March 2023

Awards Season 2023: The 95th Academy Awards

So the curtain has come down on awards season 2023 with tonight's 95th Academy Awards. No slaps, no f-bombs, no awards accidentally given to other films, and no massively major shocks. Overall, a joyous evening. 

Returning to host for a third time, Jimmy Kimmel did pretty well in his opening monologue, starting by being parachuted in by Tom Cruise's Maverick. Yes, there were mentions of the slap a few time but didn't overdo it, and also a sly dig at the traditional (over)length of the telecast [although the broadcast took about 3hrs 30m which is average], and one of two little barbs slung at Matt Damon (Kimmel's nemesis, or so he would have us believe). Kimmel was an affable presence, even if him asking Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai if she thought Harry Styles did spit on Chris Pine was one of the more WTF moments of the night. 

Musical numbers were a mixed bag - whilst the production of "Naatu Naatu" from RRR was an absolute riot, and the stripped-back version of "Hold My Hand" was sublime, I can only describe the performance of "This Is A Life" from Everything Everywhere All At Once as a sixth-form drama student's fever-dream (complete with David Byrne wearing hot-dog fingers). 

The set design for this year's even was beautifully done, very art deco (well, we are technically back in the Roaring Twenties). There was also an interesting use of technology with QR codes shown onscreen which would give more information about nominees in an upcoming category. 

Onto the awards themselves.

Five out of six ain't bad, although I expected the category I would struggle to get right was Best Actress. The audience reaction to Ke Huy Quan's win was just wonderful; he had a lot of goodwill in that room, and he was clearly very moved by it all. Jamie Lee Curtis' lovely acceptance speech highlighted the people around her, by saying "we won an Oscar". Ruth Carter very touchingly dedicated her award for Costume Design for her work on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever to her 101-year old mother who sadly passed away this week. Another particularly lovely bit was the cast and crew of An Irish Goodbye using part of their acceptance speech time to get the assembled audience to sing "happy birthday" to cast member James Martin.  


The biggest winner of the evening was Everything Everywhere All At Once, taking home seven awards. All Quiet On The Western Front won four Oscars, whilst the only other film to win multiple awards was The Whale (winning two of its three nominations)

Despite multiple nominations, The Banshees of Inisherin, Elvis, The Fabelmans, Tár, Babylon, The Batman, and Triangle Of Sadness all went away empty-handed. 

Below is the full list of winners at the 95th Academy Awards:

Best Motion Picture of the Year: Everything Everywhere All At Once

Best Actor: Brendan Fraser (The Whale)

Best Actress: Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All At Once)

Best Supporting Actor: Ke Huy Quan (Everything Everywhere All At Once)

Best Supporting Actress: Jamie Lee Curtis (Everything Everywhere All At Once)

Best Director: Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (Everything Everywhere All At Once)

Best Original Screenplay: Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (Everything Everywhere All At Once)

Best Adapted Screenplay: Sarah Polley (Women Talking)

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year: Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio

Best International Feature Film of the Year: All Quiet On The Western Front

Best Cinematography: All Quiet On The Western Front

Best Film Editing: Everything Everywhere All At Once

Best Production Design: All Quiet On The Western Front

Best Costume Design: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Best Makeup and Hairstyling: The Whale

Best Original Score: All Quiet On The Western Front

Best Original Song: "Naatu Naatu" (RRR)

Best Sound: Top Gun: Maverick

Best Visual Effects: Avatar: The Way Of Water

Best Documentary (Feature): Navalny

Best Documentary (Short Subject): The Elephant Whisperers

Best Animated Short Film: The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, And The Horse

Best Live Action Short Film: An Irish Goodbye

Congratulations to all winners!

And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to bed. It's very nearly 5:30am here. Time to pack this nonsense away until the end of the year. 

Awards Season 2023: Tez's Official Oscar Predictions

Tonight, the great and good of Hollywood will convene to celebrate the best of film-making in 2022 at the 95th Academy Awards.

Jimmy Kimmel returns to host for the third time. After the controversy of last year, Kimmel's got a bit of a poisoned chalice. The audience are going to be expecting some comment about the slap, as it's difficult to ignore, so not saying a word about it is off the table. He's going to be hoping he has a night like he did hosting the 90th Oscars (where things went very right) and not the 89th ("And the Oscar goes to... a completely different film"

Nonetheless, it has become a tradition for me to predict the nominations and the winners in the main six categories (the four acting categories, Best Director and Best Picture). I've done this since 2003 with varying degrees of success. Last year, I got 6 out of 6. I'll be very surprised if I equal that feat today...

So, without further ado, here are my predictions for who will win.

Best Supporting Actress: Angela Bassett (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever)

To my shame, the Best Supporting Actress category is the only one of the six I try and predict in which I've seen all five nominees. On a personal level, I absolutely adored Kerry Condon's performance in The Banshees Of Inisherin but I believe she'll need to be happy to have the BAFTA. Tonight, I do think the Academy are going to take some faltering steps into the 21st century, and acknowledge that- actually- these comicbook movie things can contain performances that will alternately invigorate and devastate you. Bassett was last nominated for an Oscar nearly 30 years ago (for playing Tina Turner in What's Love Got To Do With It]; I genuinely think she'll get this - and she'll deserve it wholeheartedly. From coolly addressing the UN and pulling what can only be described as an absolute baller move there, to having to rule a country riven with grief, it's a performance of stoicism and power. When she breaks, and rages that "I am Queen of the most powerful nation in the world! And my entire family is gone! Have I not given everything?" you absolutely feel and believe in her anger and frustration. 

Best Supporting Actor: Ke Huy Quan (Everything Everywhere All At Once)

From the beginning of this year's awards hoop-la, several categories have featured a diverse spread of nominees winning here and there. Not Best Supporting Actor, not this awards season. Ke Huy Quan has been the runaway winner in both Best Supporting Actor races and gender-neutral Best Supporting Role categories. And rightly so. Due to the nature of the film (multiversal shenanigans meets generational trauma), the cast of Everything Everywhere All At Once do get to show range and versatility in their performances as they cross through. Quan gets one of the juicier arcs, going from a mild-mannered mouse of a man in the current iteration, to a suave James Bond-esque character in another; yet, underneath it all, Waymond's warmth and humility shine through. He also gets a wonderful moment in the film which is a) meme-able, b) relatable, and c) perfect to show at awards shows in nominees' showreel. It's when he gives this universal plea, "The only thing I do know is that we have to be kind. Please, be kind. Especially when we don't know what's going on." This is one of his first major roles since coming back to acting as an adult, and his "narrative" (for want of a better word) is something that the Academy tend to recognise. Something that might also come into play later...

Best Actress: Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All At Once)

The lead acting categories this year have been turbulent; there have been so many strong lead female performances that "snubs" have abounded across awards bodies. Yet there's been a core duo whose performances have beguiled, exhilarated, infuriated and resonated with awards bodies around the globe: it's between Michelle Yeoh for the multiversal madness of Everything Everywhere All At Once, and Cate Blanchett for her imperious turn in Tár. I am not 100% certain that Yeoh will win, although her victory at the SAG Awards would suggest she'd be in a better position to take home the Oscar. At the beginning of this awards season, I'd have said Blanchett will be taking home her third Little Golden Bald Naked Man. Now, I'm not sure. I certainly won't be mad if Blanchett did win, but in terms of the role and the journey it takes the actress on, Yeoh's differing takes on Evelyn- glamorous, downtrodden, sausage-fingered- has a lot to recommend it.   

Best Actor: Brendan Fraser (The Whale)

I am absolutely torn here. For the cynical "narrative" (as I said before re: Ke Huy Quan) of the moment, Fraser is probably odds-on to win. And on that side of things- for his cultural renaissance after years in the wilderness because he dared to speak- I'd love him to win. And he does give an absolutely heartwrenching turn as the reclusive, morbidly obese teacher trying to reconnect with his estranged daughter before it's too late. On the level of acting skill and ability, Fraser's performance cannot be negatively criticised; he absolutely commands every scene. But I have many misgivings about the film itself (putting it mildly, it's problematic for me in a lot of places), and I have misgivings that an "endorsement" (like a win) from the Academy may mean the legitimacy of those misgivings get diluted and not addressed. I also need to do some research about Samuel D. Hunter (the writer of the original play, and the screenwriter) before I discuss my misgivings. That may come as a blog post soon. 

Essentially, I do think it's most likely that Brendan Fraser might win (again, I think his SAG win puts him head and shoulders above), but I wouldn't discount Austin Butler. His turn in Elvis is very strong and he's uncanny as the younger Presley; he's also taken several major wards (BAFTA and Golden Globe- Musical/Comedy) so we might be up for a surprise towards the end of the broadcast... 

Best Director: Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (Everything Everywhere All At Once)
Best Picture: Everything Everywhere All At Once

At the start of awards season, looking at the potential stars of this year's carnival of cinema, I genuinely thought Everything Everywhere All At Once was an outlier, too rich and too high-concept for the blood of Academy voters (stereotypically old straight white men). A well-made drama like The Fabelmans or All Quiet On The Western Front would seem more to their tastesBut big wins at both the Directors Guild Awards and Producers Guild Awards puts this in pole position for the two big awards.  

If Kwan and Scheinert do win, they'll be the third directing duo to take Best Director, following in the footsteps of Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins (West Side Story [1961]) and Joel and Ethan Coen (No Country For Old Men [2007]). Were I to be flippant, I'd say see if you can tell if the host for that category comes out with two awards not one and you might have your answer. 

As for Everything Everywhere All At Once winning Best Picture, it's looking the most likely and it would be a very different kind of Best Picture winner. Will it stand the test of time? I don't know. But is it trying something different? Absolutely so. Is it a "worthy" winner? It's certainly unique and trying to use unconventional techniques to interrogate well-used tropes. And, if I'm honest, it's one of the most visually striking and innovative films of the year. Whilst my heart belongs unequivocally to The Banshees Of Inisherin, I do think one of the last pronouncements of the evening will be: "And the Oscar goes to... Everything Everywhere All At Once". 

In other categories (these are not official predictions, just what I'd like to see), I'd like to see: 
  • The Banshees Of Inisherin and Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery take Original and Adapted Screenplay respectively (although it feels more likely that Everything Everywhere All At Once and All Quiet On The Western Front will take them)
  • Ruth E. Carter to win Best Costume Design for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
  • John Williams to win Best Original Score for The Fabelmans
  • "Naatu Naatu" from RRR to take Best Original Song; and, 
  • Best Animated Short to go to either (based purely on their titles alone) An Ostrich Told Me The World Is Fake And I Think I Believe It, or My Year Of Dicks.
(Riz Ahmed was admirably straight-faced when announcing the latter of those films at the nominations announcement ceremony!)

So there are my predictions. What do you think? Some dead certs there, surely? Or am I right off the money? Let me know what you think.  

I'll be watching the Oscars live broadcast tonight (well, early hours of Monday morning) and will update with my thoughts on the ceremony and all the winners as soon as I can once it finishes.

Saturday 11 March 2023

Awards Season 2023: Razzies Winners

So, it's Oscars Eve. The great and good of Hollywood will be primping, preening, and preparing for one of the biggest nights of the year. It's also the day that the Golden Raspberry (Razzie) Awards get handed out, dishonouring the cinematic crapulence of the previous year.  

So here are this year's "winners":

Worst Picture: Blonde

Worst Director: Machine Gun Kelly and Mod Sun (Good Mourning)

Worst Actor: Jared Leto (Morbius)

Worst Actress: The Golden Raspberry Awards

Worst Supporting Actor: Tom Hanks (Elvis)

Worst Supporting Actress: Adria Arjona (Morbius)

Worst Remake, Sequel Or Rip-Off: Disney's Pinocchio

Worst Screen Combo: Tom Hanks and his latex-laden face (and ludicrous accent) (Elvis)

Worst Screenplay: Blonde

Razzie Redeemer: Colin Farrell

You may be wondering "Awards Guru Tez, why are the Golden Raspberry Awards the 'winners' of the Worst Actress award?" Well, gather round, my award fans, and I'll tell ye a tale...

When the nominations were announced on 22nd January, Ryan Kiera Armstrong was included in the Worst Actress category for her performance as Charlie in the 2022 remake of Firestarter; she is 12 years old. 

A little history lesson: the Razzies have previous in nominating child actors: at the 3rd Razzie Awards (1983), they gave the Worst Supporting Actress award to 11-year old Aileen Quinn for her performance in Annie. Other minors who have been nominated include:
  • Gary Coleman (Worst Actor for On The Right Track [1981], when he was 13);
  • Jake Lloyd (Worst Supporting Actor for Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace [1999] when he was 10)
  • Macaulay Culkin (a Worst Actor nominee for three films- Getting Even With Dad [1994], The Pagemaster [1994], and Ri¢hie Ri¢h [1994]- all when he was 14); and 
  • Olivia d'Abo (nominated for Worst Supporting Actress for her roles in Conan The Destroyer [1984] and Bolero [1984]- in which she appears nude- when she was 15). 
Unsurprisingly (and rightly so), the backlash was quick and fierce. Razzies co-founder John J.B. Wilson made a statement that said "The intent was to be funny. In this particular instance, we seem to have misstepped very badly." No shit, Sherlock. 

Armstrong was subsequently removed from the ballot, and the organisation will no longer allow actors under the age of 18 to be nominated in any category. And, as something of a public mea culpa, the Razzies have given themselves this award. 

Other nominees for the Razzie Redeemer this year- which is given to a former Razzie nominee or winner who has come back from critical and/or commercial failure-  were Val Kilmer (going from The Island Of Dr. Moreau to the subject of acclaimed documentary Val) and Mark Wahlberg (from three-time Worst Actor nominee to biopic Father Stu). 

Blonde, Elvis, and Morbius each won two Razzies apiece. Elvis has the dubious distinction of winning in each category it was nominated for. 

Congratulations to all "winners"!

So, that just leaves the big one: the 95th Academy Awards. I'll be posting my predictions for who will win in six major categories tomorrow afternoon. 

Sunday 5 March 2023

Awards Season 2023: Independent Spirit Awards Winners

Last night (Saturday 4th March) the 38th Film Independent Spirit Awards- recognising films made wholly or partly outside the traditional studio system- took place.

Last year's ceremony took place three weeks before the Academy Awards (rather than its traditional Oscar Eve date). This year, it is taking place eight days before but- crucially- whilst the final stage of Oscars voting is still open (it closes on Tuesday 7th March).  

Streaming live via YouTube, the awards were handed out in an in-person event at the traditional white beachside tent in Santa Monica, with comedian Hasan Minhaj (Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj, The King's Jester, Homecoming King) hosting. 

Here's a full list of film winners. 

Best Feature: Everything Everywhere All At Once

Best Lead Performance: Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All At Once)

Best Supporting Performance: Ke Huy Quan (Everything Everywhere All At Once)

Best Breakthrough Performance: Stephanie Hsu (Everything Everywhere All At Once)

Best Director: Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (Everything Everywhere All At Once)

Best Screenplay: Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (Everything Everywhere All At Once)

Best First Screenplay: John Patton Ford (Emily The Criminal)

Best Cinematography: Tár

Best Editing: Everything Everywhere All At Once

Best First Feature: Aftersun

Best International Film: Joyland

Best Documentary: All The Beauty And The Bloodshed

John Cassavetes Award: The Cathedral

Robert Altman Award: Women Talking

The John Cassavetes Award is given to the creative team of a film budgeted at less than $1 million (increased this year from $500,000) whilst the Robert Altman Award is presented to the ensemble cast of the movie, its director, and its casting director(s). 

With an astounding seven wins, Everything Everywhere All At Once made Spirit Awards history by winning the most awards for a single film ever. It also swept every category it was nominated for (gaining two nominations in the gender-neutral Best Supporting Performance category, with both Ke Huy Quan and Jamie Lee Curtis recognised for their performances). A frankly phenomenal achievement. 

Congratulations to all winners!

We're almost there, the summit is in sight. Next weekend is the big one- the 95th Academy Awards on Sunday 12th March. Prior to that, of course, there's the fun of the Razzies which have remained at their traditional Eve of the Giving Out of the Naked Little Golden Men. You certainly won't be hearing Everything Everywhere All At Once mentioned there...


Monday 27 February 2023

Awards Season 2023: Producers Guild Awards (PGA) and Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards Winners

Another two-for-one offer on awards news today, as this most recent weekend has seen two of the major guilds give out their awards, both of which are seen as bellwethers for the Oscars (which is in a couple of weeks).

So, let's find out who needs to make some room on the shelf for some shiny new silverware (well, glass and bronzewear to be more precise)


The Producers Guild Awards (PGA) were handed out on Saturday (25th February). The film winners are:

Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures: Everything Everywhere All at Once

Documentary Film: Navalny

Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures: Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio

The final round of Oscar voting is still to come (it's happening between 2nd-7th March), but it's looking likely that we've found this year's Best Picture Oscar winner. The other guild awards that happened this weekend also point towards this.  


The 29th Screen Actors Guild Awards were held last night (Sunday 26th February) in a ceremony which was not televised, but was streamed live via Netflix's YouTube channel (ahead of the streaming service broadcasting it from next year).

Here are the film winners:

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Everything Everywhere All At Once

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Brendan Fraser (The Whale)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All At Once)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Ke Huy Quan (Everything Everywhere All At Once)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
Jamie Lee Curtis (Everything Everywhere All At Once)

Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture
Top Gun: Maverick

Everything Everywhere All At Once has become the most-awarded film in SAG history, with four awards. It's always been a bit of a two-horse race between Michelle Yeoh and Cate Blanchett for Best Actress, and it's still wide open (especially as both of them are nominated for Best Lead Performance at the Independent Spirits).

I think Ke Huy Quan has pretty much tied on Best Supporting Actor, and it's now between Brendan Fraser and Austin Butler for Best Actor. 

The icon that is Sally Field received the SAG Lifetime Achievement Award, after Helen Mirren last year. 

Congratulations to all winners!

Next weekend (Saturday 4th March) sees the Film Independent Spirit Awards ceremony, with everything coming to a head the following weekend (Sunday 12th March) with the 95th Academy Awards.