It’s here, that day in the Hollywood calendar when Eddie Murphy finds himself with yet another day off. Yes, the 84th Academy Awards is this evening, and after last years Hathaway/Franco debacle, Billy Crystal is back as host for the ninth time. Chances are it’ll be a more familiar affair with less singing and less slurring than in recent years. Of course, the reason you’re reading this post is you want to know who the winners and losers will be so I’ll crack on quickly so you can shoot off down to Ladbrokes for a last minute flutter. If you’ve been keeping abreast (yes Owen, a breast), of movie news lately you’ll know that The Artist has been picking up awards like Eddie Murphy picks up transvestite prostitutes. It’s difficult to see tonight being any different but there may just be one or two surprises. At least there might be in the categories where Michael Hazanavicius’ film isn’t nominated.
Thankfully, the commissioners at the BBC finally got their act together and convinced Steven Fry to return to BAFTA hosting duties after a five year sabbatical. Replacing Jonathan Ross (host for the last five years), Fry gave the award ceremony an immediate sense of class and authority, and with Billy Crystal back as Oscars host (a last minute substitute for Eddie Murphy) it looks like this years award shows are keen to at least get some things right.
I know. I’m standing on the border of cliché town but don’t worry, I’m not going to the gift shop and I certainly won’t be buying the T-shirt. Of course, as a disgruntled film studies grad and a multi-award winning film geek, there are going to be some awards that I disagree with and some I down right cannot understand. Having said all that, for the most part, I can at least see the reasoning behind most of the Academy’s choices. For those of you who came here before going to IMDB. Here’s my thoughts on last nights winners and losers. Most news shows today will be regurgitating their post-Golden Globe platitudes as once again, the dominant film of the night by some distance was of course, The Artist.
Supposedly, George Clooney has wanted to work with Alexander Payne since 2004. Back when Payne was crafting his first Oscar winner Sideways, it’s reported that Gorgeous George declared his interest in the role of Jack. Payne did the unthinkable, rebuffing Clooney in favour of a lesser known actor and the role eventually fell to Thomas Hayden Church. Church knocked it out of the park and went on to collect a well deserved Oscar nomination in the process. Whether or not Clooney could have pipped Morgan Freeman to the 2005 award we’ll never know but, one thing’s for sure, he’s the man to beat in 2011.
Unlike last week’s parade of mostly bland box office dead weight, this week sees a number of highly anticipated new Blu-ray releases. With numerous quality titles for your delectation, the end of January could bring with it some financial difficulties for those of us with a pathological need to ‘collect’.
First up this week is Nicholas Winding Refn’s 70’s throwback Drive.
Only those closest to me know that my full name is actually Bernard Lewis Raymond Swift. So, when Sony offered to name their latest technological leap after me, I was incredibly flattered. After a brief market scrap with the boringly titled HD DVD, B-Lew-Ray became the dominant HD home entertainment format of choice ,and as prices drop, the format is threatening to overtake DVD as the new standard.
Of course, fifty percent of that last paragraph was bull shit but I promise that what follows will be a combination of facts and personal opinions that will hopefully allow you to optomise your spending in this period of economic crisis. As you might expect, the weeks directly following the festive period tend to be a little thin on the ground regarding big releases but there is at least, this coming week, a vast cocktail of titles coming your way.
There’s been substantial debate amongst my peers and I, as to whether or not Jean Dujardin could actually win the Best Actor Oscar. As we await this years nominations it’s safe to say he’s going to be up against it. If the Golden globes are anything to go by he’s likely to be up against five of the biggest names in the business. Whilst Dujardin should walk the Globes only ‘Comedy Musical category’ when the Academy inevitably make their selection from the Globes’ ten, the Frenchman is going to have to userp one of either Clooney, Pitt, DiCaprio, Gosling or Fassbender in order to make the final five. It’s a tough ask but it made me curious about just how often international performances are recognised by the academy. What follows is the fruits of my diligent labour which I have collated for your statistical pleasure.
It would seem that contemporary Hollywood’s current love affair with the silent era isn’t going away anytime soon. Following on from last years Hugo, a love letter from Scorsese to pioneer Georges Méliès, this weekend sees the release of Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist.
With the new year just around the corner every movie mag, website and jaded film studies graduate will be spouting off about which films you should be getting excited about next year. In my extensive (read ‘not very extensive’) research, most articles seem to be understandably focussing on the same five or six movies (Spiderman, Hobbit, Avengers, Prometheus, Hunger Games, Dark Knight etc). Here at This Film Is On however, we like to do things a bit differently (Just look at Owen’s beard). So, with all this in mind here’s five films that you’ve probably already heard about but have hopefully forgotten about.
2011 has been a weird year for cinema. Lars Von Trier admitted to being a Nazi, A werewolf fell in love with a baby in a 12A and one of the best films of the year was a documentary (Senna), WTF right? All this has meant that choosing one film to crown as my annual favourite has been even harder than usual. Then there’s the films I haven’t even seen yet; Take Shelter, Money ball and The Artist could all as yet take the crown but for now they’ll have to wait.
To make the task arbitrarily easier I have also discounted those movies decorated by the Academy earlier on in the year. Using my dog eared collection of ticket stubs I whittled the list down to fifteen movies then to ten, then to three, then finally to one. The ticket that remained read simply ‘Submarine’.
Working as a projectionist you get used to watching films for which you have the lowest of expectations. Thus, watching Winter’s Bone was an unusual experience for me. If I’m honest, my expectations were so high I was almost reluctant to actually watch the film should my experience fall short. To my delight my apprehensions were unfounded because everything you’ve heard is true. Whilst it’s not always easy to watch, Debra Granik’s third feature is gripping from the outset, thanks in part to a breakout performance by potential Oscar darling Jennifer Lawrence.
In what could prove the role of a life time Lawrence plays the steely ‘Ree Dolly’, a teenage girl who is left to care and fight for her ramshackle family. With the families ailing livelihood under threat Ree is forced to persue her dead beat father and venture into the unscrupulous underbelly of the Ozarks, a remote mountain range spanning the central United States. As you’d expect, the only thing more inhospitable than the terrain are the local meth heads and pushers who, for reasons undisclosed do their best to keep Ree at arms length.
Although Lawrence’s performance is the main focus of press chatter it’d would be remiss of me to ignore the contributions of the supporting cast. Garret Dillahunt once again proves himself to be one of the most supportive actors in town following on from small but perfectly formed roles in some of the best movies of recent years (see No Country for Old Men, The Assassination of Jesse James and The Road). Whilst their screen time is limited the young actors who play Ree’s younger siblings should also be acknowledged as although small, their on screen vulnerability is crucial in quickly establishing the family’s dire straits.
Having said all that, there is really only one substantial supporting role in the whole movie. Whilst John Hawkes has been working pretty steadily for the past twenty years he is arguably best known for his roles on the small screen, (like the afformentioned Dillahunt, he had a supporting role in the under appreciated show Deadwood). If there is any justice in the world Winter’s Bone should put pay to that. If Lawrence is a shoe in for an Oscar nom, then Hawke’s role as Ree’s conflicted uncle ‘Teardrop’ certainly gives him an outside shot at joining her in the winners circle.
Should you still need convincing as to the merits of this film then look no further than the above picture. Despite her relative inexperience with a megaphone writer/director Granik fills every scene with contrast. Her experience as a cinematographer seems to have paid off in her filming of the untamed Ozark region. Within single frames Ree’s surroundings seem stunning yet bleak, terrifying yet homely, dangerous yet protected.
Usually at this point I dredge up some pernickety beef I have conjured up for the sake of vitriol but in this case there is nothing. Instead I will utalise these vacant lines to point out that the sparingly used soundtrack is also excellent. Whilst it may not have the bravado of a Mansell or Giacchino score the sparce combination of traditional Blue Grass numbers and atmospheric score, composed by Brit rocker, Dickon Hinchliffe of Tindersticks fame, is a perfect accompaniment.
Well worth seeking out on DVD Right Frickin’ Now.