The Watchers

The Watchers

Friday, 14 February 2020

Watchers Productions Presents... Strange Tales: Schrödinger

Watchers Productions are delighted to announce the release of Strange Tale #6, and a very appropriate release for Valentine's Day:


Written by Xander Grant and directed by Rhys Jones

Starring: Victoria George-Veale (Sarah) and Gavin Rand (Derek)

Exactly how much do you love your partner? Would you like to know? Well, thanks to the latest technology breakthrough, now you can! The real question is... can you cope with knowing the answer?

Watch here!

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

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Awards Season 2020: The 92nd Academy Awards

Well, colour me surprised! Always nice to have a curveball or two, considering a lot of the awards seemed to be foregone conclusions. Prior to Best Director, the biggest surprise of the evening was Le Mans '66 winning for Best Film Editing!

I really liked the opening number by Janelle Monáe (with a lovely cameo by Billy Porter). There were a few funny one-liners between Steve Martin and Chris Rock (especially with the pointed comment that the Oscars don't have a host because of Twitter) but it went on a bit too long. But, like last year, having no overall host worked well. 

As usual, some of the interactions between some of the individual hosts was patchy (Diane Keaton seemed on a different planet, whilst Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph, Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and James Corden and Rebel Wilson were just painful [although Corden and Wilson started off well taking a potshot at Cats]) but others were better: Mahershala Ali was great announcing the Best Supporting Actress category as was Olivia Colman announcing Best Actor, Ray Romano and Sandra Oh actually made me lauigh out loud when they presented Best Make-Up & Hairstyling, and Tom Hanks showed a great amount of humour when he announced that the long-awaited Academy Museum will open on December 14, 2020. If I ever make it to LA, I'll definitely look it up!

The musical performances were particularly noteworthy this year: there was a fantastic performance by Idina Menzel and an international cast of Elsa voice actors for Frozen II's 'Into The Unknown', and there was a fabulous montage about movie music which led to a powerful performance by Eminem performing his Oscar-winning Original Song 'Lose Yourself' from 8 Mile that brought the audience to their feet. Cynthia Erivo gave a soulful performance of 'Stand Up' from Harriet. I also particularly liked the energetic medley of the Best Original Score nominees, conducted by maestra Eímear Noone (the first time a woman has conducted at the Oscars in its 92 year history). There was also a very touching performance by Billie Eilish during the In Memoriam section. 

On to the awards themselves.

So, in my predictions, I got 4 out of 6. Got the acting categories right. Like many, I expected 1917 and Sam Mendes to win but there was something quite lovely about seeing both Parasite and Bong Joon Ho win; Bong's Best Director acceptance speech was very touching, especially the bit about splitting the award between all five nominees. Parasite made Oscars history by becoming the first film not in the English language to win Best Picture; it's also the first film from South Korea to be nominated for the newly-renamed Best International Feature Film and also to win it! 

Hildur Guðnadóttir also made Oscars history by becoming the first Icelandic person to win an Oscar, taking the Best Original Score for Joker. Her acceptance speech was quite lovely as well. I thought it was very touching that Elton John and Bernie Taupin won Best Original Song for Rocketman, celebrating their partnership of over 50 years. 

In his acceptance speech, Brad Pitt rightly mentioned the work of the stunt crews (and they really should have an award for that). There was a wonderfully humble speech by Best Documentary Feature winner Julia Reichert, giving proper respect to her fellow nominees which was nice. I was absolutely chuffed at Roger Deakins' win for Best Cinematography for 1917; an incredibly well deserved win. 

Below is the full list of winners at the 92nd Academy Awards:

Best Motion Picture of the Year: Parasite

Best Actor: Joaquin Phoenix (Joker)

Best Actress: Renée Zellweger (Judy)

Best Supporting Actor: Brad Pitt (Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood)

Best Supporting Actress: Laura Dern (Marriage Story)

Best Director: Bong Joon Ho (Parasite)

Best Original Screenplay: Bong Joon Ho and Han Jin Won (Parasite)

Best Adapted Screenplay: Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit)

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year: Toy Story 4

Best International Feature Film of the Year: Parasite

Best Cinematography: 1917

Best Film Editing: Le Mans '66 [a.k.a. Ford V Ferrari]

Best Production Design: Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood

Best Costume Design: Little Women

Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Bombshell

Best Original Score: Joker

Best Original Song: '(I'm Gonna) Love Me Again' (Rocketman)

Best Sound Mixing: Le Mans '66 [a.k.a. Ford V Ferrari]

Best Sound Editing: 1917

Best Visual Effects: 1917

Best Documentary (Feature): American Factory

Best Documentary (Short Subject): Learning To Skateboard In A Warzone (If You're A Girl)

Best Animated Short Film: Hair Love

Best Live Action Short Film: The Neighbors' Window

In terms of how many awards won by each film, it's quite an even spread; all bar one of the nine Best Picture nominees took home at least one Oscar apiece. Parasite is the big winner of the evening, winning four awards, with 1917 taking home three. 

Despite multiple nominations, The Irishman, Harriet, The Two Popes, Pain And Glory, and Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker all walked away empty-handed. Given that The Irishman was one of the most nominated films (10 nods, and the only Best Picture nominee not to win anything), that must smart somewhat. 

Congratulations to all winners!

Now if you'll excuse me, it's 5:15am in the UK and I could really do with some sleep... Hopefully that cafetiere of strong coffee I had around midnight won't stop that happening. 

Awards Season 2020: Tez's Official Oscar Predictions

Tonight, the great and good of Hollywood will convene to celebrate the best of film-making in 2019 at the 92nd Academy Awards.

As with last year, there will be no main host again this year. Personally, I liked this approach. It cut down unnecessary faffing around and brought the runtime of the show down to a manageable three-and-a-bit hours. OK, some of the guest presenter 'banter' was dreadful but that's par for the course with things like this. Last year opened with Queen and Adam Lambert absolutely smashing it, so hopefully there'll be a similar high-energy start to tonight's proceedings.

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 4 out of 6 (as Olivia Colman and Green Book took the respective prizes, instead of Glenn Close and Roma). I have a feeling there'll be less of a surprise tonight...

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

Best Supporting Actress: Laura Dern (Marriage Story)

With a SAG Award, Critics' Choice Award, BAFTA and Golden Globe already in the bag for her role as divorce lawyer Nora Fanshaw, it's going to be unlikely to hear anyone else's name. And rightly so. Dern's performance is superb (in a film full of superb performances); her amazing rant about the disparity between mothers and fathers- that women are meant to be perfect and woe betide if they're not, whilst men can get away with being lazy parents- is a particular highlight. Dern doesn't play a stereotypical hard bitch- she's warm, empathetic, but totally committed to getting what's right and fair for Nicole (Scarlett Johansson).

Best Supporting Actor: Brad Pitt (Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood)

I'll be honest with you: I didn't rate Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood at all. I found it overlong, self-indulgent and fairly offensive in places. And, with further honesty, Pitt's performance as stuntman Cliff Booth who may (or may not) have killed his wife is easily my least favourite of the five that have been nominated. But, like Dern, he's swept the boards so it feels like it's his turn.

Best Actress: Renée Zellweger (Judy)

Whilst the film itself is a bit patchy and several scenes just feel too fantastical or made-up, there's no denying that it's a powerhouse performance by Zellweger as the incomparable Judy Garland. Playing Garland's insecurity and passion to the hilt, it's the kind of performance that Oscars are made for. It never feels showy or look-at-me-I'm-acting-ma, Zellweger disappears into the icon and gives her life.

Best Actor: Joaquin Phoenix (Joker)

I would dearly, dearly, DEARLY love Jonathan Pryce's name to be read out in this category but I don't see it happening. As with all of my other acting predictions, Phoenix has swept the awards boards so it feels like a bit of a foregone conclusion. Despite what I think about the film (and my opinions on it are well known if you read the blog or listen to the podcast), I do concede that Phoenix puts in a committed performance as stand-up comedian Arthur Fleck who becomes the Clown Prince of Crime. Is the film deserving of this accolade? I'm not sure. Is Phoenix? Yes. 

Best Director: Sam Mendes (1917)
Best Picture: 1917

Aside from sharing the Critics' Choice award with Bong Joon Ho, Mendes has been the standout winner in the director category for 1917, scooping the Golden Globes, the BAFTA and (importantly) the Directors' Guild Award. Again, it feels like a foregone conclusion for him to snag his second Best Director Oscar (20 years after winning for American Beauty). 

The lack of a Best Film Editing nomination for 1917 feels egregious, because a lot of the work of making it look like a single take is done in the editing suite, but veteran cinematographer Roger Deakins thoroughly deserves his nod (and deserves to win). As a film, 1917 isn't just style over substance; you're on the soldiers' side as they race against time to stop a battalion from walking into an ambush. Buoyed up by a stellar cast (including Colin Firth, Andrew Scott, and Benedict Cumberbatch), these are [or should be] star-making roles for George Mackay and Dean-Charles Chapman. The film is technically assured and has a heart behind it. It would be a truly deserving Best Picture winner.

Hopefully I'll be watching the broadcast live in the early hours of Monday morning, and I'll post as soon as I can with my thoughts about the ceremony and all the winners.

Awards Season 2020: Independent Spirit Awards Winners

Last night (Saturday 8th February), the 35th Film Independent Spirit Awards took place, in a ceremony hosted by Aubrey Plaza (Parks And Recreation, Life After Beth, Child's Play) for the second year running. 

As I'm sure you all know by now, they recognise films made wholly or partly outside the traditional studio system. They're also the first major awards to be announced in any given awards season, and one of the last to be awarded.   

Some of the winners are below.

Best Feature: The Farewell

Best Female Lead: Renée Zellweger (Judy)

Best Male Lead: Adam Sandler (Uncut Gems)

Best Supporting Female: Zhao Shuzhen (The Farewell)

Best Supporting Male: Willem Dafoe (The Lighthouse)

Best Director: Benny Safdie and Josh Safdie (Uncut Gems)

Best Screenplay: Noah Baumbach (Marriage Story)

Best First Screenplay: Fredrica Bailey and Stefon Bristol (See You Yesterday)

Best Cinematography: The Lighthouse

Best First Feature: Booksmart

Best International Film: Parasite

Best Documentary: American Factory

John Cassavetes Award: Give Me Liberty

The John Cassavetes Award is given to the creative team of a film budgeted at less than $500,000. The full list of winners can be found here.

So, despite The Farewell taking the main prize of Best Feature, it was Uncut Gems that was the biggest winner of the night with three awards. The Farewell, The Lighthouse, and Marriage Story both won two apiece. 

And in case you're wondering (which you probably weren't but anyway...), because Marriage Story had been given the Robert Altman Award- which honours the acting ensemble, director, and casting director of the given film- it meant that the actors weren't eligible to nominated for individual categories, or Baumbach to be nominated for Best Director.

Congratulations to all winners!

The focus now shifts to the big one: the 92nd Academy Awards. I'll be posting my predictions for who will win in the major categories (acting, directing, and Best Picture) later today. 

Saturday, 8 February 2020

Awards Season 2020: Razzies Nominations

Providing some much-needed levity in what can often be an awards season that takes itself entirely too seriously, this year's Golden Raspberry Awards nominations have been announced this morning. The Razzie voters have considered "a bumper crop of cinematic crud" (yep, even the Razzies thought 2019 was a bad year for film) and come up with their list dishonouring the worst in film. 

It will, I suppose, come as little surprise to most that a certain CGI-heavy feline-inspired musical features heavily. 

Here are the full nominations for the 40th Annual Razzie Awards 

The Fanatic
The Haunting Of Sharon Tate
A Madea Family Funeral
Rambo: Last Blood

Hilary Duff (The Haunting Of Sharon Tate)
Anne Hathaway (The Hustle and Serenity)
Francesca Hayward (Cats)
Tyler Perry (as Madea) (A Madea Family Funeral)
Rebel Wilson (The Hustle)

James Franco (Zeroville)
David Harbour (Hellboy)
Matthew McConaughey (Serenity)
Sylvester Stallone (Rambo: Last Blood)
John Travolta (The Fanatic and Trading Paint)

James Corden (Cats)
Tyler Perry (as Joe) (A Madea Family Funeral)
Tyler Perry (as Uncle Heathrow) (A Madea Family Funeral)
Seth Rogen (Zeroville)
Bruce Willis (Glass)

Jessica Chastain (Dark Phoenix)
Cassi Davis (A Madea Family Funeral)
Judi Dench (Cats)
Fenessa Pineda (Rambo: First Blood)
Rebel Wilson (Cats)

Any Two Half-Feline/Half-Human Hairballs (Cats)
Jason Derulo & His CGI-Neutered Bulge (Cats)
Tyler Perry & Tyler Perry (or Tyler Perry) (A Madea Family Funeral)
Sylvester Stallone & His Impotent Rage (Rambo: Last Blood)
John Travolta & Any Screenplay He Accepts

Dark Phoenix
Godzilla: King Of The Monsters
A Madea Family Funeral
Rambo: Last Blood

Fred Durst (The Fanatic)
James Franco (Zeroville)
Adrian Grunberg (Rambo: Last Blood)
Tom Hooper (Cats)
Neil Marshall (Hellboy)

The Haunting Of Sharon Tate
A Madea Family Funeral
Rambo: Last Blood

Dragged Across Concrete
The Haunting Of Sharon Tate
Rambo: Last Blood

Eddie Murphy (Dolemite Is My Name)
Keanu Reeves (John Wick 3 and Toy Story 4)
Adam Sandler (Uncut Gems)
Jennifer Lopez (Hustlers)
Will Smith (Aladdin)

Cats ("the widely derided feline flop"), A Madea Family Funeral (Tyler Perry's 12th- and apparently last- Madea film; guess the Razzies voters didn't want to miss their chance to let him know what they really think) and Rambo: Last Blood ("Stallone's assaulting to the senses/insulting to the intelligence blood-drenched sequel") lead the pack with eight nods apiece. 

There are a couple of films- particularly Hellboy and Dark Phoenix- who can probably thank the unmitigated disasters that are Cats and A Madea Family Funeral from keeping them out of more categories. 

A new category has been added this year to point out films that show a reckless disregard for human life and public property (so, in future years, expect to see any big-budget blockbuster that razes a city to the ground with nary a thought). It's utterly petty, I know, but man I really REALLY hope Joker wins. [Whilst there are several previous Oscar nominees and winners included in this mishagoss, Joker is the only Oscar-nominated film this year to also get a Razzie nod]

Considering the accelerated timetable for this year's Oscars, the Razzies have said "to hell with it" and are announcing things in their own sweet time. As it stands, there's no date given for the 40th Razzies ceremony but it's going to be televised!We'll definitely be covering it though.

This is the first of several awards posts for the weekend, as tonight (Saturday 8th February) is the Film Independent Spirit Awards and tomorrow is the big one- the 92nd Academy Awards. We're almost there...

Monday, 3 February 2020

Awards Season 2020: BAFTA Film Awards Winners

So, as it turns out, I didn't get to see the BAFTA Film Awards until this morning. 

Therefore, it was yesterday evening (2nd February 2020), at the Royal Albert Hall, that the 73rd British Academy Film Awards were given out in a star-studded ceremony, hosted by Graham Norton, hosting for the first time. 

Saoirse Ronan, Al Pacino, Hugh Grant, Quentin Tarantino, George Mackay, Robert De Niro, Sam Mendes, Daniel Kaluuya, Florence Pugh, Taron Egerton, Charlize Theron, Naomie Harris, Richard E. Grant, Gillian Anderson, Jonathan Pryce, Zazie Beetz, Ian McKellen, Scarlett Johansson and Margot Robbie were among some of the stars in attendance to celebrate the best in film.

Here's a full list of BAFTA winners:

Best Film: 1917

Outstanding British Film: 1917

Leading Actor: Joaquin Phoenix (Joker)

Leading Actress: Renée Zellweger (Judy)

Supporting Actor: Brad Pitt (Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood)

Supporting Actress: Laura Dern (Marriage Story)

Director: Sam Mendes (1917)

Original Screenplay: Parasite

Adapted Screenplay: Jojo Rabbit

Outstanding Debut By A British Writer, Director Or Producer: Mark Jenkin (writer/director), Kate Byers and Linn Waite (producers) (Bait)

Animated Film: Klaus

Documentary: For Sama

Film Not In The English Language: Parasite

Cinematography: 1917

Costume Design: Little Women

Editing: Le Mans '66 [Ford V Ferrari]

Make Up And Hair: Bombshell

Original Music: Joker

Production Design: 1917

Sound: 1917

Special Visual Effects: 1917

Casting: Joker

Short Animation: Grandad was a romantic.

Short Film: Learning To Skateboard In A Warzone (If You're A Girl)

Rising Star: Micheal Ward

Outstanding British Contribution To Cinema: Andy Serkis

BAFTA Fellowship: Kathleen Kennedy

The usual names in the usual positions. I don't think there'll be many surprises come Oscar night. This isn't to denigrate any of the performances as they are all engaging (even if the film around them is shonky). This is the first year that BAFTA have recognised achievement in film casting. It's an incredibly important part of the movie-making process, yet it feels egregious that there's still no recognition for stunt work or vocal performances. This should be sorted. 

1917 was the big winner of the night, with seven BAFTAs (all very well deserved). Joker got three, and Parasite got two. Despite multiple nominations, The Irishman, The Two Popes, Rocketman and Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker all walked away empty-handed. 

Congratulations to all winners!

This coming weekend (8th-9th February) will be busy, as it's Oscars weekend. Before that though, there's the Independent Spirit Awards ceremony and the Razzie nominations. Busy, busy, busy...

Sunday, 2 February 2020

Awards Season 2020: Writers' Guild Awards (WGA) Winners

This might be the first of two awards season posts today (depending on what time I get to watch the BAFTA Film Awards tonight), or it might just be a short post. 

Yesterday (Saturday 1st February), the Writers' Guild Awards (WGA) were given out. 

The film winners were:

Original Screenplay: Parasite

Adapted Screenplay: Jojo Rabbit

Documentary Screenplay: The Inventor: Out For Blood In Silicon Valley

Both Parasite and Jojo Rabbit are nominated in the respective Screenplay categories for the Oscars, so we could potentially see this repeat next week (although the screenplay for Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood could give Parasite a run for its money; the Academy have a liking for Tarantino). Alex Gibney didn't get a nomination for the Best Documentary Oscar, so he'll be happy with this. 

Congratulations to all winners!

Tonight, the BAFTA Film Awards will be handed out. Next post will definitely be about them. But when? I like to keep you in suspense...