The Watchers

The Watchers

Saturday, 31 December 2016

In Memoriam 2016


As 2016 mercifully comes to a close, we reflect on the many losses that the film and entertainment world have suffered this year.

It's been a common refrain through this year that there seems to be a higher than usual percentage of famous people passing on. Whether that's true or not, I don't know. All I know is there's been a lot this year. We wrote full length obituaries of David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Kenny Baker and Carrie Fisher throughout the year; however, there were a lot of deaths we were unable to pay tribute to at the time. 

Here then are tributes to just a few of the stars, from in front of and behind the camera, who sadly passed away this year.



Ken Adam was production designer for several Bond films, including Dr. No, Goldfinger, You Only Live Twice, The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker. He was also production designer for projects as diverse as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Sleuth and Addams Family Values. He won two Oscars for his art direction (for Barry Lyndon and The Madness Of King George), along with two BAFTAs (for Dr. Strangelove and The Ipcress File). 



Actress and transgender activist Alexis Arquette made her film debut in 1989 in Last Exit To Brooklyn and then went on to appear in Pulp Fiction, The Wedding Singer and Bride Of Chucky. She also has an uncredited role in the 1992 movie of Buffy The Vampire Slayer as a vampire DJ and also appeared in Spun, Lords Of Dogtown and Blended. Her transition was covered in the 2007 documentary Alexis Arquette: She's My Brother.



Michael Cimino made his directorial debut in 1974 with Thunderbolt And Lightfoot, then followed it up with The Deer Hunter, for which he won both the Golden Globe and the Best Director Oscar (and was also nominated for the Best Original Screenplay Oscar). His following film- Heaven's Gate- had quite a different reception; it is widely considered to be one of the most notorious screen disasters in film history (largely due to Cimino's insistence on perfection, rivalling that of Stanley Kubrick) and Cimino 'won' the Razzie Award for Worst Director.



Patty Duke won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1963 for playing Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker, also winning the Golden Globe for Most Promising Female Newcomer for the same role. She then went on to star in The Patty Duke Show for three years on TV before appearing in Valley Of The Dolls, The Swarm and Prelude To A Kiss. In 1979, she appeared in a TV version of The Miracle Worker, but this time in the role of Annie Sullivan (played by Anne Bancroft in the 1962 film)



Frank Finlay was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor for his performance of Iago in Othello (opposite Laurence Olivier and Maggie Smith), he also played Porthos in The Three Musketeers and several of its sequels, a chilling Jacob Marley in A Christmas Carol, Father in The Pianist, Peter Manson in the controversial TV drama Bouquet Of Barbed Wire and gave a brilliant comedic turn as the Witchsmeller Pursuivant in the Blackadder episode of the same name.



Zsa Zsa Gabor was known as much for her personal life as her film career. She got her big breakthrough in John Huston's Moulin Rouge (1952) before taking supporting roles in Lili and Touch Of Evil and appearing in the sci-fi B-movie Queen Of Outer Space (1958), a film she later described as 'awful'. She was the last 'guest villain' in the 1960s series of Batman and then went on to play heightened versions of herself in A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear and The Beverly Hillbillies. She was married nine times, including one to hotel magnate Conrad Hilton and one to actor George Sanders.



Whilst Guy Hamilton will be best remembered for directing Goldfinger (one of, if not the best Bond films), he also had an illustrious career outside the spy genre. He worked as assistant director on The Fallen Idol, The Third Man and The African Queen before directing his first full feature The Ringer in 1952. He directed three further Bond films: Diamonds Are Forever, Live And Let Die and The Man With The Golden Gun. He also directed Funeral In Berlin, Force 10 From Navarone and two all-star adaptations of Agatha Christie novels: The Mirror Crack'd and Evil Under The Sun.



The name David Huddleston might not ring many bells to most people, but if you name some of his roles, you'll soon get a different response. Not only does he play the titular character in The Big Lebowski and Olson Johnson in Blazing Saddles, but- rather poignantly at this time of the year- he also played Santa Claus in Santa Claus: The Movie (opposite Dudley Moore and John Lithgow). 



George Kennedy's film career is incredibly varied- from The Sons Of Katie Elder and The Dirty Dozen to The Eiger Sanction and The Delta Force. He played airline troubleshooter Joe Patroni in Airport and its three sequels, appeared in the all-star Agatha Christie adaptation Death On The Nile and played opposite Leslie Nielsen in The Naked Gun films. He won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 1968 for his role in Cool Hand Luke



Marni Nixon's name and face may not be recognisable, but her voice certainly would be: she provided the singing voice for several major Hollywood stars, including Natalie Wood in West Side Story, Deborah Kerr in The King & I and Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady. She also sang for Disney in Cinderella, Alice In Wonderland and Mulan and actually appeared onscreen as Sister Sophia in The Sound Of Music.



A singer-songwriter, actor, producer, multi-instrumentalist, Prince was a Renaissance man. Songs like 'Little Red Corvette', '1999', 'When Doves Cry', 'Raspberry Beret' and 'Kiss' have been used in countless TV shows and films. He provided the whole soundtrack to the 1989 Batman film and the soundtrack to Girl 6. As an actor, he appeared as The Kid in the semi-autobiographical Purple Rain (1984) and its sequel Graffiti Bridge (1990) and as Christopher Tracy in Under The Cherry Moon (1986). He won an Oscar for the score of Purple Rain, won a Golden Globe for Best Original Song for 'The Song of The Heart' from Happy Feet and 'won' three Razzies for Under The Cherry Moon (Worst Director, Actor and Original Song)



Star of the Golden Age of Hollywood, Debbie Reynolds, sadly passed away just a day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher. Reynolds became famous for her role as Kathy Selden in Singin' In The Rain (1952). She then went on to appear in Tammy, How The West Was Won and Divorce American Style and was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her performance in The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964). Later in her career, she appeared in Mother, In & Out, Connie & Carla, the Halloweentown TV movies and as Grace's boisterous mother Bobbi in Will & Grace. She also provided voice work for Kim Possible, Rugrats and for the English version of Kiki's Delivery Service. Her final screen role was playing Liberace's mother in Behind The Candelabra. A collector of cinema memorabilia, Reynolds was awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award earlier in 2016 and won the Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015.



British cinematographer Douglas Slocombe worked as director of photography on many of the Ealing comedies of the 1940s and 1950s including Kind Hearts And Coronets, The Lavender Hill Mob and The Titfield Thunderbolt. He also worked on Dead Of Night, The Lion In Winter and The Italian Job. He was also director of photography for the original Indiana Jones trilogy, gaining his third Best Cinematography Oscar nomination for Raiders Of The Lost Ark (the other two nods were for Julia and Travels With My Aunt



The gloriously eccentric Liz Smith started her film career in 1970 at the age of 50. She appeared in The French Lieutenant's Woman, Curse Of The Pink Panther and A Private Function (winning the Best Supporting Actress BAFTA award for her performance as Maggie Smith's domineering mother). She also took roles in The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, Son Of The Pink Panther, Keep The Aspidistra Flying and Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. On television, she is known for her roles as Lettie Cropley in The Vicar of Dibley, Nanna in The Royle Family and as a wonderfully deranged Mrs. White in the final series of Cluedo.



Despite being best known for television roles as the menacing 'Genial' Harry Grout in Porridge and the wise Maester Aemon in Game Of Thrones, Peter Vaughan had an illustrious film, television and stage career, taking in everything from costume drama to high fantasy. After playing the role of Denethor in the BBC's 1981 radio adaptation of The Lord Of The Rings, Terry Gilliam cast him as Winston the Ogre in Time Bandits and then as Mr. Helpmann in Brazil. He also appeared in Straw Dogs, The French Lieutenant's Woman, Haunted Honeymoon, The Remains Of The Day and the UK version of Death At A Funeral.



Robert Vaughn will forever be remembered as the suave spy Napoleon Solo in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (and its various spin-offs and film versions) and for his role in the BBC series Hustle. He also appeared in several episodes of British soap opera Coronation Street. Nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in The Young Philadelphians (1959), Vaughn's other film credits include The Magnificent Seven, Bullitt, The Towering Inferno and Superman III



Starting his film career with a small but memorable role as a nervy undertaker in Bonnie And Clyde (1967), Gene Wilder then went on to appear as the neurotic accountant Leo Bloom in The Producers (1967), a role for which he was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. In 1971, he played what might well be considered his best-known role: Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. A frequent collaborator with Mel Brooks, Wilder was nominated for a second Oscar in 1975 for writing the screenplay to Young Frankenstein. He also appeared in several films- including Stir Crazy and See No Evil, Hear No Evil- with Richard Pryor, and won an Emmy for his performance as Mr. Stein in Will & Grace.



Stand-up comedienne, actress, screenwriter, singer-songwriter... there really wasn't anything Victoria Wood couldn't turn her hand to with immense success. From her TV collaborations with Julie Walters to her own As Seen On TV show and the workplace comedy Dinnerladies, Wood captured the foibles and the absurdity of class and modern culture with pinpoint accuracy. Roles in dramas such as Pat And Margaret and Housewife, 49 (for which she won the Best Actress BAFTA) showed she could excel in more serious roles as well as comedy. 



Anton Yelchin began his career with roles in Along Came A Spider (opposite Morgan Freeman) and Hearts In Atlantis (opposite Anthony Hopkins). He is best known for his role as Pavel Chekhov in the rebooted Star Trek movie franchise. Aside from Star Trek, he played the title role in Charlie Bartlett, Kyle Reese in Terminator Salvation, Charley Brewster in the 2011 remake of Fright Night and Pat in Green Room. He also did voice work on The Smurfs and The Smurfs 2 and the English version of Studio Ghibli's From Up On Poppy Hill.



Cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond worked on many iconic films, including The Deer Hunter, The Rose, Heaven's Gate, The Witches Of Eastwick and The Black Dahlia. He is only credited as director for one film- 1992's The Long Shadow, starring Liv Ullmann and Michael York and made a rare acting appearance as Albert Bierstadt in Maverick (a film he was also director of photography for). He was nominated for four Best Cinematography Oscars, winning on his first nomination for Close Encounters Of The Third Kind.


Others who passed away this year include:

- British author Richard Adams (Watership Down)

- British actress, writer and comedienne Caroline Aherne

- American playwright Edward Albee (Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?, A Delicate Balance)

- British actress Jean Alexander (Coronation Street, Last Of The Summer Wine)

- Oscar-nominated director Hector Babenco (Kiss Of The Spider Woman)

- American actress Charmian Carr (Liesl in The Sound Of Music)

- Canadian singer and writer Leonard Cohen

- British comedian and actor Ronnie Corbett

- British magician Paul Daniels

- Welsh actress Deddie Davies (Stella, The Railway Children)

- Italian author Umberto Eco (The Name Of The Rose)

- Italian writer and Nobel Laureate Dario Fo (Accidental Death Of An Anarchist)

- Finnish-American actor George Gaynes (Police Academy)

- American screenwriter Daniel Gerson (Monsters Inc., Monsters University, Big Hero 6)

- American actor Ron Glass (Shepherd Book in Firefly and Serenity)

- Oscar-nominated writer and director Curtis Hanson (L.A. Confidential)

- British director Robin Hardy (The Wicker Man)

- Oscar-nominated director Arthur Hiller (Love Story)

- Irish actor Frank Kelly (Father Ted)

- British actor Burt Kwouk (The Pink Panther, Goldfinger)

- British writer Carla Lane (Bread, Butterflies, The Liver Birds)

- American writer Harper Lee (To Kill A Mockingbird)

- American director Herschell Gordon Lewis (The Godfather Of Gore)

- American producer and director Garry Marshall (Beaches, Pretty Woman, The Princess Diaries)

- British singer George Michael

- American actress Noel Neill (the first woman to play Lois Lane on film)

- American actor Bill Nunn (Sister Act, the Spider-Man trilogy, Do The Right Thing)

- British actor Andrew Sachs (Fawlty Towers)

- American actor Angus Scrimm (Phantasm)

- British writer Peter Shaffer (Equus, Amadeus, The Royal Hunt Of The Sun)

- American comedian and actor Garry Shandling

- British actor Gareth Thomas (Blake's 7)

- Scottish producer Michael White (Monty Python And The Holy Grail, The Rocky Horror Picture Show)

- Irish broadcaster Sir Terry Wogan

- Studio Ghibli colourist Michiyo Yasuda

Friday, 30 December 2016

Review: Sully: Miracle On The Hudson (UK Cert 12A)


On January 15 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 took off from LaGuardia Airport in New York, travelling to Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina. Barely minutes into the flight, the flight suffered engine loss due to a bird strike. With 155 lives in the balance, pilots Captain Chesley B. 'Sully' Sullenberger III and First Officer Jeffrey Skiles did the impossible: they performed a water landing on the Hudson River. The whole event- from bird strike to landing- took just 208 seconds, and it was done with no loss of life. This incredible true-life story has now been made into a film, directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Tom Hanks as Sullenberger and Aaron Eckhart as Skiles.

I'm sure I've said several times before that I'm not a massive Tom Hanks fan. That said, he's always a safe pair of hands; you can always depend on him to put in a solid, decent performance. That is very true here: he plays Sully as a thoroughly decent and likeable man, humble, self-effacing, thrown into a media storm for doing his job and having to come to terms with that. Unsurprisingly, there are questions to be asked when something like this happens and the film is then set up almost as a courtroom drama as the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) begins its investigation. Here's where things start to skew a little; the film shows the NTSB as accusatory and prosecutorial, seeking to disprove Sully's version of events and showing him to have acted wrongly by performing the water landing and that the cause of the crash was pilot error; such a finding would have ended Sully's career. 

Other performances are decent enough; Eckhart is strong as the no-nonsense Skiles, although he's not given a whole lot to do throughout. Similarly, Laura Linney feels wasted as Sully's wife Lorraine, popping up throughout to cry or to harangue Sully (or maybe that's just how I saw it; she didn't exactly feel or seem supportive until the very end). The script attempts to flesh out the stories of some of the passengers- a father-son golfing trip, a wheelchair-using woman and her daughter, a new mother- but it all feels very surface and, crucially, you don't really care about them. Well, I didn't at least. 

Eastwood's direction is solid and the reconstruction of the plane crash and landing is done well. Some scenes play out like an anodyne version of the 2012 Robert Zemeckis film Flight- here, there's no suggestion of impropriety or alcohol/drug misuse- but the investigation scenes play well. It feels a little muddled which, given a relatively short runtime of 96 minutes, is a surprise.

However, the film is, at its core, a paean to 'the human factor'. It is this that Sully points out during the investigation; a computer simulation can only do so much. You need the human factor, its insight and experience, to inform decisions made- for good and bad. In a moment of crisis, humanity can pull together and help those who need it (an end-card gives praise to the coastguards, ferry crews, police and firefighters who helped rescue the passengers from the ditched plane). Given the darkness of our current times, this is a timely message.

All said, solid if unremarkable. 

Rating: 3 out of 5

Tez

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Revlew: Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them (UK Cert 12A)


Let's be fair, the Harry Potter movie franchise is an absolute juggernaut. Eight movies, all expertly written, directed and acted. So the production team are obviously hoping that lightning is going to strike twice with the first of five films in the Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them franchise. 

Written by J.K. Rowling, produced by David Heyman and directed by David Yates (who directed the last four Harry Potter films), Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them sees magizoologist Newt Scamander- author of the titular Hogwarts set text- in New York in 1926, having to hunt down a few of his errant creatures that escape whilst negotiating the hostility of a No-Maj (muggle/non-magical) society and the machinations of a very dangerous dark wizard: Gellert Grindlewald.  

Eddie Redmayne exudes a very lovely eccentric edge as Newt. If he wasn't already an Oscar-winning actor with a major franchise ahead of him, I'd suggest he submits this to the Doctor Who casting office in case they need to start looking for Peter Capaldi's replacement. There is a very Doctor-ish feel to Newt- slightly out of step with other humans, very focused on his own little world and with a dimensionally transcendental piece of apparatus (it's no exaggeration to say that Newt's suitcase is bigger on the inside).  

Katherine Waterston is similarly strong as demoted Auror Tina Goldstein who arrests Newt for being an unregistered wizard and then gets drawn in to his quest to reclaim his missing creatures. Threatening to steal the show, however, are Alison Sudol as Tina's mindreading and flirty sister Queenie and Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski, a No-Maj cannery worker and aspiring baker who gets his suitcase swapped with Newt's and also gets drawn into a world he never knew existed. 

The rest of the cast are pretty good too: Samantha Morton is chilling as the dead-eyed fanatic Mary Lou Barebone, leader of the Second Salemers who call for wizards and witches to be destroyed. Ezra Miller is similarly good as her adopted son Credence, a young man with more than a few secrets of his own. It's odd to see an actor with the profile and presence of Jon Voight in a film like this, but he only has a glorified cameo as a newspaper magnate so doesn't bother unduly. The only dud note is Colin Farrell, who I just can't take seriously, especially as he's supposed to be the Head of Magical Security at MACUSA (the Magical Congress of the United States of America).

Visually, as you can imagine, the film is just stunning. Everything from the steam liner that Newt disembarks from at the very beginning to the sweeping grandeur of the MACUSA headquarters and the world within Newt's suitcase is just sublime. A quick trip to a magical speakeasy also provides scale but it's also in the smaller scenes- Queenie magically making a strudel, for instance- where the production design and the visual effects shine. The magical beasts, too, are similarly wonderful.  

This is a 12A so it's not all cutesy- there's some quite dark stuff within there, not least a murderous force created by a magical being suppressing their magical ability. There's child abuse, lost loves, a rather unpleasant near-death experience for one of the main characters and a resolutely downbeat moment in the rain (which, I don't mind admitting, I teared up to). There are glimmers of hope towards the end but you don't half go through the wringer to get there. 

This might sound like a bit of an odd complaint to have about a film called Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them... but I really could have done with there being more beasts. There are some wonderful set-pieces involving Newt trying to catch a Niffler (a kind of avaricious platypus, attracted to shiny things) and also trying to catch an escaped erupment (a large and horny cross between a hippopotamus and a rhinoceros) in Central Park. But the film almost treats these as side-shows, instead focusing on the political situation with the No-Majs versus MACUSA and the ever-growing threat of Grindlewald. I don't know whether they felt it would just be a series of set-pieces strung together with a flimsy plot if it was just Newt turning up trying to find things- nothing more than a big-screen version of Pokemon Go, perhaps?- and perhaps it might not sustain five films. 

This slight niggle aside, I found Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them to be a very strong start to the franchise and I look forward to seeing more.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Tez

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Carrie Fisher (1956-2016)


It is with great sadness that we report the death of Carrie Fisher, who passed away today at the age of 60 following complications of a heart attack suffered on Christmas Eve.

Born Carrie Frances Fisher in October 1956, she was the daughter of actors Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher. Fisher and Reynolds divorced when Carrie was two years old, after Fisher had an affair with Elizabeth Taylor (who he later went on to marry). A self-confessed bookworm as a child, writing poetry and reading classic literature, Carrie first appeared on stage at the age of 15 with her mother in a revival of the Broadway musical Irene. In 1973, she enrolled in the London Central School Of Speech And Drama which she attended for eighteen months.   

She made her film debut in 1975 with a small role in the movie Shampoo, also starring Warren Beatty and Julie Christie. Two years later, she took the role that would make her famous: Princess Leia in Star Wars.


Originally describing it as a 'little science-fiction film', she thought of it as a bit of fun, little realising the cultural impact the film would have. As she described it, 'it exploded across the firmament of pop culture, taking all of us along with it'. She describes the process of making the film in her recently released memoir The Princess Diarist, where she also discusses the three-month affair she had with Harrison Ford during the filming of A New Hope

She reprised her role as Princess Leia for the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special (where she sings), The Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi and also returned for The Force Awakens, thirty-two years later and still as badass as she ever was.



Away from the Star Wars franchise, she appeared in The Blues Brothers, The Man With One Red Shoe, Hannah And Her Sisters, Appointment With Death and The 'Burbs. She also appeared in When Harry Met Sally..., Drop Dead Fred and Soapdish. She also provided the voice for Angela in Family Guy and has appeared as a heightened version of herself in TV shows such as Sex And The City and a truly brilliant but blink-and-you-miss-her appearance in an episode of The Big Bang Theory. 

In 1987, she published her first novel Postcards From The Edge, a semi-autobiographical satire of her life and addiction issues (and the somewhat fractious relationship she had with her mother). This was adapted into a film in 1990 starring Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine, for which she wrote the screenplay. 

Aside from acting, she also became known as a script doctor, doing uncredited work on such diverse films as Sister Act, Hook, The Wedding Singer, Coyote Ugly, The River Wild, Lethal Weapon 3, Scream 3 (in which she also puts in a lovely cameo as a film studio archivist) and Last Action Hero to name but a few, as well as being hired by George Lucas to polish the dialogue for the Star Wars prequels.

She was always very honest about her years of addiction- with both drugs and alcohol- and her mental health issues (she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and spoke very candidly about it in the documentary Stephen Fry: The Secret Life Of The Manic Depressive). In 2007, she wrote and performed a one-woman show called Wishful Drinking which was published as a memoir in 2008 with a documentary of the stage play released in 2010.

She was married to Paul Simon for just over a year, although they dated both before and after the marriage. She then had a relationship with talent agent Brian Lourd and had a child together- Billie Catherine Lourd. Mother and daughter both appeared in The Force Awakens. 

A true cinema icon and a truly brave and brilliant woman, she will be sorely missed in a year that has seen fit to take so many brilliant and iconic stars. Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this difficult time.

The Watchers
(Rhys, Matt and Tez)

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Awards Season 2017: SAG Awards Nominations


More awards shenanigans with today's announcement of the nominations for the 23rd Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards. These are for actors voted on by actors (so are usually a pretty good barometer for the Oscar acting awards as there's a lot of crossover between AMPAS and SAG memberships).

Below is a list of film nominations:

Outstanding Performance By A Cast In A Motion Picture
Captain Fantastic
Fences
Hidden Figures
Manchester By The Sea
Moonlight

Outstanding Performance By A Male Actor In A Leading Role
Casey Affleck (Manchester By The Sea)
Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge)
Ryan Gosling (La La Land)
Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic)
Denzel Washington (Fences)

Outstanding Performance By A Female Actor In A Leading Role
Amy Adams (Arrival)
Emily Blunt (The Girl On The Train)
Natalie Portman (Jackie)
Emma Stone (La La Land)
Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)

Outstanding Performance By A Male Actor In A Supporting Role
Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
Jeff Bridges (Hell Or High Water)
Hugh Grant (Florence Foster Jenkins)
Lucas Hedges (Manchester By The Sea)
Dev Patel (Lion)

Outstanding Performance By A Female Actor In A Supporting Role
Viola Davis (Fences)
Nicole Kidman (Lion)
Naomie Harris (Moonlight)
Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures)
Michelle Williams (Manchester By The Sea)

A lot of the same names cropping up again, which is no surprise. I'm actually quite pleased at Meryl Streep's inclusion as I thoroughly enjoyed Florence Foster Jenkins in general (and her performance in particular). Manchester By The Sea gets four nods, with Moonlight and Fences with three.

For those of you who aren't fans of the awards season stuff, you'll be pleased to know we take a brief hiatus from it now until the new year with the nominations for the Writers' Guild Awards announced on 4th January with the Golden Globes handed out on January 8th.

Tez

Monday, 12 December 2016

Awards Season 2017: Critics' Choice Movie Awards Winners and Golden Globes Nominees


Right, we've got a double-whammy of awards stuff to deal with. I'm just gonna jump straight into it without any more ado.


CRITICS' CHOICE MOVIE AWARD WINNERS

Last night (11th December), the Critics' Choice Awards were handed out. Here's a full list of film winners:

Best Picture: La La Land

Best Actor: Casey Affleck (Manchester By The Sea)

Best Actress: Natalie Portman (Jackie)

Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)

Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis (Fences)

Best Acting Ensemble: Moonlight

Best Director: Damien Chazelle (La La Land)

Best Animated Feature: Zootopia

Best Original Screenplay: La La Land and Manchester By The Sea (tie)

Best Adapted Screenplay: Arrival

Best Comedy: Deadpool

Best Actor In A Comedy: Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool)

Best Actress In A Comedy: Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)

Best Action Movie: Hacksaw Ridge

Best Actor In An Action Movie: Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge)

Best Actress In An Action Movie: Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad)

Best Sci-Fi/Horror Movie: Arrival

Best Foreign Language Film: Elle

Best Score: La La Land

Best Song: 'City Of Stars' (La La Land)

Best Production Design: La La Land

Best Editing: La La Land

Best Costume Design: Jackie

Best Hair & Makeup: Jackie

Best Visual Effects: The Jungle Book

Best Cinematography: La La Land

Best Young Actor/Actress: Lucas Hedges (Manchester By The Sea)

La La Land was the standout winner of the evening with eight awards, with Jackie and Manchester By The Sea each taking three. 

--------------


GOLDEN GLOBES NOMINATIONS

Today (December 12th) sees the announcement of the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards, awarded by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA). The HFPA split their awards, giving certain categories for both Drama and Musical or Comedy, rather than just going for the out-and-out drama as most awards tend to do.

Below is a list of some of the nominees:

Best Picture - Drama
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell Or High Water
Lion
Manchester By The Sea
Moonlight

Best Picture - Musical or Comedy
20th Century Women
Deadpool
Florence Foster Jenkins
La La Land
Sing Street

Best Director
Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
Tom Ford (Nocturnal Animals)
Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge)
Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)
Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester By The Sea)

Best Actor - Drama
Casey Affleck (Manchester By The Sea)
Joel Edgerton (Loving)
Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge)
Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic)
Denzel Washington (Fences)

Best Actor - Musical or Comedy
Colin Farrell (The Lobster)
Ryan Gosling (La La Land)
Hugh Grant (Florence Foster Jenkins)
Jonah Hill (War Dogs)
Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool)

Best Actress - Drama
Amy Adams (Nocturnal Animals)
Jessica Chastain (Miss Sloane)
Isabelle Huppert (Elle)
Ruth Negga (Loving)
Natalie Portman (Jackie)

Best Actress - Musical or Comedy
Annette Bening (20th Century Women)
Lily Collins (Rules Don't Apply)
Hailee Steinfeld (The Edge Of Seventeen)
Emma Stone (La La Land)
Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)

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

Best Supporting Actress
Viola Davis (Fences)
Naomie Harris (Moonlight)
Nicole Kidman (Lion)
Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures)
Michelle Williams (Manchester By The Sea)

A full list of nominees can be found here.

I'm truly baffled by Nocturnal Animals' nods (not quite so much for Amy Adams', but definitely for Aaron Taylor-Johnson's and Tom Ford's) but have to say I'm loving the love for Deadpool (both with the Critics' Choice and here). The same names are starting to come up frequently which is usually a good indicator of which way the wind is blowing, so to speak. La La Land has the most total nominations with seven nods, whilst Moonlight gets six and Manchester By The Sea has five.

Next up in awards season will be the announcement of this year's Screen Actors' Guild (SAG) Awards nominations, which will be revealed on Wednesday (14th December).

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Awards Season 2017: Critics' Choice Movie Awards Nominations


More awards season shenanigans today with the announcement of the nominations for the 22nd Annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards.

Here are a selection of their nominees:

Best Picture
Arrival
Fences
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell Or High Water
La La Land
Lion
Loving
Manchester By The Sea
Moonlight
Sully: Miracle On The Hudson

Best Director
Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge)
Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)
Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester By The Sea)
David Mackenzie (Hell Or High Water)
Denis Villeneuve (Arrival)
Denzel Washington (Fences)

Best Actor
Casey Affleck (Manchester By The Sea)
Joel Edgerton (Loving)
Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge)
Ryan Gosling (La La Land)
Tom Hanks (Sully: Miracle On The Hudson)
Denzel Washington (Fences)

Best Actress
Amy Adams (Arrival)
Annette Bening (20th Century Women)
Isabelle Huppert (Elle)
Ruth Negga (Loving)
Natalie Portman (Jackie)
Emma Stone (La La Land)

Best Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
Jeff Bridges (Hell Or High Water)
Ben Foster (Hell Or High Water)
Lucas Hedges (Manchester By The Sea)
Dev Patel (Lion)
Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals)

Best Supporting Actress
Viola Davis (Fences)
Greta Gerwig (20th Century Women)
Naomie Harris (Moonlight)
Nicole Kidman (Lion)
Janelle Monae (Hidden Figures)
Michelle Williams (Manchester By The Sea)

A full list of nominees can be found here.

As I've discussed previously, the Critics' Choice Awards also recognise genre cinema, with categories for action movies, comedy and scifi/horror. Unsurprisingly, comic book movies do well in the action movie section with nods for Captain America: Civil War, Deadpool and Doctor Strange with performances by Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Evans, Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot, Scarlett Johansson, Margot Robbie and Tilda Swinton getting nods in these sections.

There isn't a lot of crossover between the genre awards and the main awards this year, although Arrival also gets a nod for Best Sci-Fi/Horror Movie. Andrew Garfield picks up two nominations for the same role (as Best Actor and Best Actor In An Action Movie, for Hacksaw Ridge) as does Ryan Reynolds (as Best Actor In An Action Movie and Best Actor In A Comedy for Deadpool)

La La Land leads the field with 12 nominations all in all, with Arrival and Moonlight getting 10 each.


The 22nd Annual Critics' Choice Awards will be handed out on Sunday December 11th, the day before the Golden Globes nomination announcement.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Review: Nocturnal Animals (UK Cert 15)


Nocturnal Animals is the second film from fashion-designer-cum-director Tom Ford (after 2009's A Single Man)

Susan Morrow (Amy Adams) is a Los Angeles art gallery owner whose privileged surroundings are providing her little comfort as her marriage is breaking down and her husband is sleeping with another woman. She receives a manuscript of a novel called Nocturnal Animals, written by her ex-husband Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal) whom she cruelly mistreated then dumped. She begins to read the manuscript, a violent revenge thriller in which a young family are terrorised by a brutal gang of rednecks. 

Honestly, this film was one of the most pretentious piles of bilge I've had the misfortune of sitting through this year. Now, people who know me know I quite like films that certain people may describe as 'pretentious'. But this... this takes the cake. And then frames it badly on camera and gives it a lingering close-up to show how deep it really is. 

I don't know what's worse: the poor camerawork, the heavy-handed symbolism, the shoddy editing, the awkward and obvious juxtapositions or the facile script that has characters either spouting inane platitudes or fortune-cookie bon mots. The most egregious thing is A Single Man was a subtle, nuanced, occasionally very beautifully shot film. What happened? There's no subtlety here. No nuance. You are sledgehammered over the head with every piece of imagery- even down to casting Isla Fisher as Tony's wife Laura (because she looks so much like Amy Adams, don't you see? Isn't that clever?)- and, when you need to put a blatant jumpscare in to check whether your audience hasn't actually slipped into a coma, you're on shaky ground. Also, I have major issues with the opening which depicts several obese naked women doing a drum majorette routine in slow motion. Quite what is this supposed to mean? Is it a metaphor for the grotesque and soulless world of Los Angeles? If so, there are perhaps more appropriate and more tasteful ways to do it than to go down the route of fat-shaming. 

Performances are a mixed bag, to be fair. Amy Adams is an extremely talented actress that will undoubtedly win an Oscar one day, given the right role. And God love her, she's trying here. She's trying in earnest to turn this rotten sow's ear into a silk purse but there's only so much you can do with a script with the emotional depth of a stagnant puddle. Still, she tries to imbue Susan with some semblance of character which the script is sorely lacking. 

Gyllenhaal plays a dual role, as Edward and as Tony, the main character in the novel which is handily dramatised for our viewing... well, I'd usually say pleasure but in this case I'm gonna have to make an exception and say endurance. As Edward, he's sweet, naive, sensitive. As Tony, he's all of those things and then he isn't as the cruelty of the world breaks him. That is literally what this film is like. I'm really hoping one day Aaron Taylor-Johnson will look back on this film and cringe. Like I did, every time he was on screen. He's the leader of the redneck gang that intimidate Tony and his family and his performance is just dire. It is buttock-clenchingly, sphincter-tighteningly bad. He's about as intimidating as a wet paper bag and has clearly been directed to go for wide-eyed crazy as a default. 

However, there are some saving graces. Laura Linney is superb in her cameo role as Susan's ghastly, materialistic mother whilst there's a certain amount of gravitas to Michael Shannon's performance as Detective Bobby Andes, the taciturn and morally flexible lawman who helps Tony get some kind of justice for his family.  

I didn't enjoy the film. I found it boring, pretentious and convinced of its own worthiness. Am I wrong? Am I missing something? Seriously, if you watched Noctural Animals and liked it or enjoyed it or 'got' it, feel free to leave a comment below or drop us an e-mail and let me know what I'm missing. Because I genuinely couldn't see it. 

Frankly, if this is the best he can come up with, then might I respectfully suggest Tom Ford sticks to fashion design (which he knows a lot about and is very good at) rather than film-making. 

Rating: 1.5 out of 5

Tez