It’s a wrap! ‘Moonlight’ and MN-made ‘Blood Stripe’ won TCFF 2016 top awards

It’s a wrap!!

tcfflogoThe 2016 TCFF has concluded Saturday night with a festive closing night party.

I saw four films Saturday night. Starting with two great documentaries Actors Of Sound and Free Cece, followed by two powerful emotional dramas, Lion and Moonlight.

I had been crying so much watching Lion, a wonderful depiction of an incredible true story, and Moonlight was an even more emotional experience. It was a well-written, well-acted and simply powerful film about Black sexuality, featuring the kind of deep emotional intimacy I haven’t seen in many films, regardless of race and gender.

I also enjoyed the short film that preceded Actors of Sound called Boom Up!, it was hilarious! I won’t have the reviews of the films I saw in last two days of TCFF until later in November, but let’s just say I recommend all the four films I saw on closing night!

Concluding a star-studded showcase that featured more than 100 films spanned over 11 days, this is perhaps the largest-ever Twin Cities Film Fest ever with over 130 films, including shorts and documentaries! Top awards went to the critically-acclaimed coming of age drama Moonlight, which had been hailed by critics as the best film of the year and will hopefully gain more traction until the Oscars next year. Just like Room and Brooklyn last year, TCFF continues tradition in screening critical darlings that went on to win accolades at the Oscars.

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Here are the winners from Twin Cities Film Fest 2016:

Best Short Film: Lend a Hand For Love, directed by John and Amy Thompson

Audience Award – Short: Waabooz, directed by Molly Katagiri

Best Documentary: I Do? directed by Joe Brandmeier

Audience Award – Documentary: Iron Will, directed by Sergio Valenzuela

Indie Vision — Breakthrough Non-Fiction Film: They Call Us Monsters, directed by Ben Lear

Indie Vision — Breakthrough Feature Film: No Light and No Land Anywhere, directed by Amber Sealey

Indie Vision — Breakthrough Performance: Kate Nowlin (Blood Stripe)

Best Feature Film: Moonlight, directed by Barry Jenkins

Audience Award – Feature Film: Blood Stripe

I’m so thrilled for Remy Auberjonois and Kate Nowlin who won the Audience Award in the Feature Film category. As you know from my review of Blood Stripe, I was so impressed with this film. It’s so well-written, well-directed AND phenomenally-acted by Kate Nowlin, who deservedly also won Best Breakthrough Performance this weekend. I certainly think Kate’s performance is Oscar worthy!

Kate & Remy receiving the award from TCFF exec director Jatin Setia

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Kate with TCFF artistic director Steve Snyder

Another well-deserved award, that is the TCFF North Star Award goes to the massively talented indie actor Dominic Rains. You may not know who he is yet folks, but mark my words, you will! He’s already won Best Actor in a U.S. Narrative Feature Film at Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year for his performance in Burn Country (originally named The Fixer), which also screened at TCFF, along with two others, Funeral Day and The Loner.

Dominic Rains with Steve + Jatin

I have seen two of the three films he’s in and was really impressed by his strong screen presence and versatility as his role in the thriller/drama Burn Country (as a former Afghan journalist) and the comedy Funeral Day (as a rather obnoxious American realtor) couldn’t be more different from each other, but yet he pulls off both roles effortlessly. Stay tuned for my in-depth interview with Dominic on his career, as well as with Funeral Day‘s director Jon Weinberg!

As I’ve mentioned in this post, I’m glad to see quite a few female filmmakers as well as female-driven films represented at TCFF! One of the finalists for Breakthrough Feature Film that I was really impressed with was Claire In Motion, which was directed by a pair of female filmmakers, featuring a terrific performance by Betsy Brandt.

It was already close to 11pm by the time I came out of the Moonlight screening, TCFF’s final film, but I couldn’t miss the award ceremony at TCFF lounge. I was only there for an hour or so and I had a blast hanging out with my friends, Kirsten Gregerson and Emmylou Barden.

me with Emmylou & Kirsten

me with Emmylou & Kirsten

I don’t know how long the party went on but clearly everyone had a great time! I’m glad I got a chance to congratulate Kate Nowlin for her award, my interview with her and her husband/collaborator Remy Auberjonois are certainly one of the highlights of covering TCFF, not just this year but of all seven years I’ve been with the film fest! Just before I left for the night, I even got a chance to chat with Remy about the enigmatic ending of Blood Stripe. Once you see it, I think you’ll know what I mean!

Thanks to my darling hubby for taking pictures of the closing party festivities! Check out his Instagram for his awesome travel photography (and I’m not just saying that ’cause I’m his wife)🙂


Congrat Jatin, Bill, Dani, Steve and Naomi for another great year!
It was so gratifying to be a part of TCFF once again… watching, discussing & celebrating indie films and the art of filmmaking.


Musings on the TCFF 2016 Award finalists … championing indie films & women in film

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I haven’t had even an hour to blog all day today as I was watching films, interviewing talents and socializing at the mixer at the beautiful festival lounge at the Shoppes at West End. My head is still spinning as I’m writing this… my body is exhausted but my spirits are high from the exhilaration of meeting so many great people. My day started with an a delightful interview with actor Dominic Rains, and got to meet Jon Weinberg (the director and star of Funeral Day) whom I had interviewed the night before. Then in the afternoon I got to meet the director of The Babymoon Bailey Kobe, as well as Kate Sloate who’s in the film’s producing team. I will post more pictures in my wrap post!

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I stopped by TCFF lounge for a couple of hours, which was even busier as the night went on. For sure the closing night party tomorrow will be a blast, and I sure wouldn’t want to miss the Award Ceremony!

Speaking of award, Twin Cities Film Fest has announced the TCFF award finalists a few days ago here. I’m so thrilled for so many of these indie filmmakers, whether it’s shorts, features or documentaries, that their hard work are being recognized. For many of them, their indie films are their sweat, blood and tears… as most of these films are made with shoestring budgets. This is why I LOVE covering TCFF, as I get to see more indie films than I otherwise would in a given month! As I meet filmmakers and talents, it’s apparent to see that the limited budget/resources just made them more innovative and creative! This is why I will always support indie films and indie filmmakers!!

2016 TCFF FINALISTS

Best Feature Film:

  • “Blood Stripe,” directed by Remy Auberjonois
  • “Burn Country,” directed by Ian Olds
  • “First Girl I Loved,” directed by Kerem Sanga
  • “Lion,” directed by Garth Davis
  • “Moonlight,” directed by Barry Jenkins.

Best Documentary:

  • “Denial,” directed by Derek Hallquist
  • “The Eagle Huntress,” directed by Otto Bell
  • “Free CeCe!” directed by Jacqueline Gares
  • “I Do?” directed by Joe Brandmeier
  • “IRON WILL: Veteran’s Battle with PTSD,” directed by Sergio Valenzuela.

Best Short Film:

  • “Duffy’s Jacket,” directed by Brian Hoesing
  • “I Want You Inside Me,” directed by Alice Shindelar
  • “Lend a Hand For Love,” directed by John and Amy Thompson
  • “The Story,” directed by Cameron Digwall and Carolyn Pender
  • “Twinsburg,” directed by Joe Garrity.

Indie Vision — Breakthrough Feature Film:

  • “Claire in Motion,” directed by Annie J. Howell and Lisa Robinson
  • “The Eyes of My Mother,” directed by Nicolas Pesce
  • “Girl Flu,” directed by Dorie Barton
  • “June Falling Down,” directed by Rebecca Weaver
  • “No Light and No Land Anywhere,” directed by Amber Sealey

Indie Vision — Breakthrough Non-Fiction Film:

  • “In Pursuit of Silence,” directed by Patrick Shen
  • “IRON WILL: Veteran’s Battle with PTSD,” directed by Sergio Valenzuela
  • “Prison Dogs,” directed by Geeta Gandbhir and Perri Peltz
  • “Tarkovsky: Time Within Time,” directed by PJ Letofsky
  • “They Call Us Monters,” directed by Ben Lear

Indie Vision — Breakthrough Performance:

  • “Blood Stripe,” Breakthrough: Actress Kate Nowlin
  • “Donald Cried,” Breakthrough: Actor Kris Avedisian
  • “First Girl I Loved,” Breakthrough: Director Kerem Sanga
  • “Hunky Dory,” Breakthrough: Actor Tomas Pais
  • “The Other Kids,” Breakthrough: Director Chris Brown
  • “Lend a Hand For Love,” Breakthrough: Directors John and Amy Thompson
  • “Moonlight,” Breakthrough: Writer Barry Jenkins.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Lea Thompson

I’m so glad I got to chat with Lea when she was in town last month for TCFF gala. I also got to interview Jim Hemphill whose wonderfully-crafted drama The Trouble With The Truth was screened at one of TCFF’s Insider Series!

In addition to the staff and audience awards, the 2016 event is also bestowing two North Star Awards to visiting actors Tim Guinee (in town to celebrate the 10th anniversary of “Sweet Land”) and Dominic Rains (starring in three TCFF films now touring the festival circuit — the James Franco-Melissa Leo mystery “Burn Country” screening Saturday night, the neo-noir thriller “The Loner” screening Friday, and the dark comedy “Funeral Day” showing Saturday morning).


Now, I haven’t seen all of the films nominated, as there are only so many hours in a day and I still had to work at my full time job the first week of TCFF. But of the ones I have seen, I definitely agree with most of the choices! I’m especially thrilled to see SO may female filmmakers and talents being represented AND recognized. I think people who read my blog and connected w/ me on Twitter know that I’m not only a big champion of indie films, but also women in film! It’s clear that indie films are the place for women and diverse talents thrive… so I’m glad I got to see many of them thanks to TCFF!

Whether in front of or behind the camera, it always perks me up to see women storytellers, creating and/or portraying multi-dimensional, fully fleshed-out female characters and bringing their stories to life. One of my all time favorite performances is Kate Nowlin in Blood Stripeand having chatted with her in person, she is an inspiration both on and off screen!

Both Prison Dogs and The Eagle Huntress have become two of my all time favorite documentaries! I can’t review the latter until mid November where it’s released here in Minnesota, but I can’t recommend it enough. I guarantee you’d fall in love with 13-year-old Aisholpan who defied the odds to become a champion eagle huntress!

mnwiftIt’s always a blast hanging out with friends and new people you meet at TCFF lounge. But tonight is especially awesome as I got to hang out with two ladies from Minnesota Women in Film and Television (MN WIFT), Joanne Liebeler and Deborah Fiscus. I love their positive energy and warm personality, it’s always encouraging and inspiring to be around such wonderful people!

I feel so blessed to have met to these smart, accomplished, yet warm & lovely ladies, so thank you to my pal Kirsten Gregerson for introducing us! I’m definitely going to join the organization and learn from local women who work in film, television, and new media in Minnesota.

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with MN WIFT’s Joanne, Deborah and my pal Kirsten Gregerson

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Well, tomorrow is the last day of TCFF already! It’s a jam-packed closing day with three gala screenings: LION, Moonlight AND Burn Country, with its star Dominic Rains attending!

I’ll be seeing FOUR movies tomorrow, starting with the documentary on foley artists, Actors Of Sound at 10:15AM, which ends with the closing film Moonlight at 8:30PM! I’m writing this past midnight and in dire need of sleep, but I’m excited for what’s in store for me tomorrow!

 


My 2016 Oscar recap… in tweets, gifs and clips

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Ahhh the morning after… So did you see the telecast last night? I went downstairs to my entertainment room at 6:30 and was hoping the whole thing would just start at 7pm, but heh of course we had to get through all the red carpet stuff first. Someone tweeted that the Oscars is really just a whole bunch of commercials interrupted by an award show, heh isn’t that the truth!

Anyway, it must’ve been quite a whirlwind night for these four acting winners.

poses in the press room during the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Loews Hollywood Hotel on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California.

Photo courtesy of ABC.com

I did live tweet last night, but honestly I just didn’t have the energy (nor desire) to do a full writeup as I usually do, so I figure why not just do it w/ social media?

Red Carpet Stuff






The monologue & things…

For the most part I enjoyed the telecast, despite being so award fatigue by now. I have to say I was most curious to see how Chris Rock would fare as host. Well, I kind of have mixed feelings about it, though I did laugh at his no-holds-barred approach to the whole #OscarsSoWhite issue.

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Right away he addressed the massive elephant in the room full of industry folks…

“You realize if they nominated hosts, I wouldn’t even get this job! You’d all be watching Neil Patrick Harris right now.” 

In response to those who called for him to quit the hosting gig…

I thought about quitting. I thought about it really hard. But I realized they’re gonna have the Oscars anyway. They’re not gonna cancel the Oscars because I quit. And the last thing I need is to to lose another job to Kevin Hart, okay?”

He didn’t just roast The Academy and Hollywood however, he took some jabs at his own Black peers which I thought was hilarious!

“Everybody went mad [this year] … Jada [Pinkett Smith] got mad. Jada said she’s not coming. Isn’t she on a TV show? Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited.”

“I understand you’re mad. I’m not hating. … Jada’s mad her man Will [Smith] was not nominated for Concussion. I get it … It’s not fair that Will was this good and didn’t get nominated. You’re right. It’s also not fair that Will was paid $20 million for Wild Wild West, okay?”

Double ouch! It didn’t stop there for Jada and Will as later on there’s a whole segment about Black History Month and it’s as if Angela Bassett was talking about Will Smith, but it turns out the person the Academy was honoring was Jack Black. ha!


I gotta say that the skit spoofing how hard it is for black actors to land a role in white Hollywood had me in stitches! Especially this one w/ Tracy Morgan spoofing The Danish Girl. Even Eddie Redmayne was laughing when the camera panned to him.


But the most discombobulating and cringe-worthy moment of the night goes to:

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“I cannot wait to help my people out, Happy Black History Month!”

Rock introduced Stacey Dash, who’s known for her role in Clueless and is now a Fox News commentator, as the “new director” of the Academy’s “minority outreach program.”

Yes I knew about her controversial remark back in January when she declared that there should be no Black History Month or BET, but somehow the joke just didn’t jibe and it seems off the mark as most people are baffled by the appearance.

So what does Rock really think about Hollywood?

Is Hollywood racist? You’re damn right Hollywood is racist. But it’s not the racist you’ve grown accustomed to. Hollywood is sorority racist. It’s like, ‘We like you, Rhonda, but you’re not a Kappa.’”

Rock certainly didn’t shy away from tackling the race issue head on, though all of this diversity stuff seems to be more about black vs white, whilst there are a slew of other races under-represented in Hollywood… and of course it goes beyond race as women still don’t get anywhere close to the same opportunities as men.

I do hope that as much as it’s uncomfortable and perhaps annoying to some that this diversity issue keeps coming up, perhaps it’ll signal change in the ‘inclusion crisis’ (which is a more accurate term to describe this whole diversity issue) that started long before any Oscar ballot was cast.


Now about those awards…

If all you care about is the four main categories…


Best Original & Adapted Screenplay Awards

I had put these two down as the who WILL and SHOULD win the two writing awards, so yeah I’m happy w/ the results!


Not a fan of Ryan Gosling/Russell Crowe combo, but…


Ugh, Sam Smith is singing that awful Spectre song!


Alicia Vikander won Best Supporting Actress!


First of SIX awards for ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’

Best Costume Design

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In the end, ‘Fury Road’ won the 6 Oscars in these categories:

  1. Film Editing: Margaret Sixel
  2. Costume Design: Jenny Beavan
  3. Makeup: Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega and Damian Martin
  4. Sound Editing: Mark Mangini and David White
  5. Sound Mixing: Chris Jenkins, Gregg Rudloff and Ben Osmo
  6. Production design: Production design by Colin Gibson; set decoration by Lisa Thompson

This i09 article describes my sentiment perfectly…

i09_FuryRoad_Oscars


So… Best Cinematography went to Emmanuel Lubezki.
He’s won THREE years in a row. Poor Mr. Deakins.


Best Film Editing


Best Visual Effects


Best Animated Feature


Best Supporting Actor

Ok so I was rooting for Sly Stallone to win this but I can’t really be disappointed by Rylance win though, it’s not like he didn’t deserve it.


Best Documentary Feature

It goes to AMY. I haven’t seen it yet but Asif Kapadia did the excellent doc SENNA. I have only seen ONE from the five docs nominated!


AlanRickmanInMemoriam


Best Presenter Duo of the Night

Beasts of No Nation‘s Abraham Attah and Room‘s Jacob Tremblay, hands down. Both delivered Oscar-worthy performances in their own right, too!

JacobTremblayAbrahamAttah


Lady Gaga performed a powerful and emotional rendition of her Oscar-nominated song Til It Happen To You from the sexual assault documentary The Hunting Ground. It gives me goosebumps watching it and it deservedly received a standing ovation.


But WTF, it’s followed by one the most underserving wins of the night, ugh!

Best Original Song


Best Director

It went to Alejandro González Iñárritu once again [sigh] Soooo bummed for George Miller😦

THIS.


Best Actress

I thought Brie looked radiant in a blue gown last night… and she gave a gracious speech, thanking everyone from her co-star Jacob Tremblay & boyfriend Alex Greenwald to the moviegoers who saw it.


Best Actor

So Leo DiCaprio finally catches a break!😉


Best Picture


My Oscar predictions tally

Well, out of the 16 categories I predicted, I got 11 right, so not bad!

Of ALL of the categories I put down for SHOULD WIN, I’m most disappointed by George Miller losing and Roger Deakins losing yet again for the 13th time. Sheesh!!

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The legendary Mr. Deakins hard at work


Some of my fave gif-worthy moments of the night:

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Methinks Jacob Tremblay would like to be in the next Star Wars movie. How ’bout that Disney?

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LOVE that whole girl scout cookies thing, it always makes for some amusing gifs afterwards!

Keaton_spotlight

LOVE Keaton’s performance in Spotlight, I suppose if Fury Road didn’t get it, I’m glad it went to this film!


That’s it folks, the culmination of Hollywood award season is now over… thank goodness!


So what did you think of last night’s ceremony? Glee, gladness & gripes? Let’s hear it!

The obligatory Oscar predictions post: Who will win & who should win

Oscars2016

Well, it’s that time of the year again… tax season and the Oscars. We’re in fact doing our taxes just before I worked on this post. Both are unavoidable and obligatory, well for most of us blogging/writing about movies anyway.

This is the first year I’m actually looking forward to the opening monologue more than the main event. I can’t wait to hear what Chris Rock‘s going to say about the whole diversity issue. But hopefully the whole thing won’t be too heavy handed and we get to see him poke fun at a bunch of celebs, as to be expected.

ChrisRock

To be honest with you, even though it’s Oscar week, I hadn’t really been thinking much about the Oscars. In fact, I hadn’t been seeing anything Oscar-related the past couple of weeks, though we wanted to see Shaun of the Sheep movie last night, which was nominated for Best Animated Feature but there’s a connection issue so we watched another episode of Jessica Jones instead.

oscar-ballot-2016I’ve posted my thoughts on the nominations, but now that the big event is near, I thought I’d pick who will and SHOULD win the Oscars this year. I’m not predicting ALL of the categories though, just the ones that I have actually seen. Click on this handy Oscar ballot from EW.com if you want to see the full nominees.

So here we go:

BEST PICTURE

Who will win: The Revenant

Who should win: Mad Max: Fury Road

No doubt The Revenant is the frontrunner this year in many categories, but once the dust of award season’s settled I think Fury Road is one people will remember more in the end. It’s such a singularly unique film that’s spectacularly-crafted all around.

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ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Who will win: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

Who should win: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

Even without having seen his performance in full as I have yet to see the film, I think it’s safe to say this is Leo’s year.

Leo_Brie

Methinks we’ll see a repeat of Leo-Brie pairing in the leading performance category

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

 Who will win: Brie Larson, Room

 Who should win: Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Having won pretty much every other award in this category, I think Brie will be this year’s Jennifer Lawrence. I still want to see Ronan win it though, as I think Ronan’s understated performance leaves a more lasting impression to me. It’s not a flashy role which takes an astute performer to pull it off so beautifully.

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ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Who will win: Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Who should win: Tom Hardy, The Revenant

I had been championing Stallone from the get go and I’m not surprised he’s the frontrunner in this category. However, part of me thinks that Hardy’s been overlooked in general despite his astonishing performance in no less than three films: Legend, Mad Max: Fury Road and The Revenant, which I read is just as compelling as Leo’s and that his character is actually more complex in the film.

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ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Who will win: Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

Who should win: Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

I have only seen two performances in this category and I for one don’t think Rachel McAdams is THAT great to be nominated. I mentioned before that I actually wished for Kristen Stewart to be recognized for Clouds of Sils Maria instead of McAdams. So I’ll pick Winslet in this lot as I was impressed by her performance.

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DIRECTING

Who will win: Alejandro González Iñárritu, The Revenant

Who should win: George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road

I’m going to borrow Variety‘s Justin Chang’s reasoning for what he called ‘a tour de force visual storytelling’… “[Miller] gave us far more than just a master class in how to block, frame, shoot and edit action.” Amen to that, let’s hope he’s properly recognized.

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CINEMATOGRAPHY

Who will win: The Revenant

Who should win: Sicario


Fury Road
and Sicario are both spectacularly shot. But I give Sicario the edge because Roger Deakins’ visual mastery has been overlooked time and time again. This is his thirteen nominations with not a single win so far. I read this article on Deakins and his approach to his work and how his imagery is done to serve a larger purpose is why he is such a legend.

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ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

Who will win: Inside Out

Who should win: Anomalisa

Though I wasn’t blown away by the story of Anomalisa, I think it deserves to win for being such a unique piece of art. It’s one of the most lifelike claymation and the story is unconventionally dark and moody for this genre.

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COSTUME DESIGN

Who will win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Who should win: Cinderella

I think Fury Road has won many awards in this category and I certainly won’t be fuming if they win again at the Oscars. But I’d LOVE to see Sandy Powell win in either category, especially Cinderella, given the incredible amount of gowns she has to design. I’m more enamored by Cate Blanchett’s dresses, though of course Cinderella’s sparkly ballgown in iconic in its own right.

CInderellaCostumes

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MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

Who will win: The Revenant

Who should win: Mad Max: Fury Road

I think Leo’s severe flesh wounds from the bear attack will likely garner a win for the makeup artist. But the look of the characters in Fury Road is simply astonishing and unforgettable.

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MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)

Who will win: The Hateful Eight

Who should win: Sicario

One can’t deny the masterful work of Ennio Morricone, who like Deakins have never won a single Oscar for an individual piece of work (he did won an honorary Oscar in 2007). But I was blown away by Jóhann Jóhannsson’s score in Sicario, which adds so much tension and dread to the film.

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MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)

Who will win: Writing’s On The Wall, Spectre

Who should win: Till It Happens To You, The Hunting Ground


Anything other than Sam Smith’s song please!! I think the melody of Writing’s on the Wall is fine but the song w/ his whiny voice is more like writhing against the wall. I actually just listened to Lady Gaga’s song Til It Happens To You and it’s a powerful one on an important subject.

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PRODUCTION DESIGN

Who will win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Who should win: Mad Max: Fury Road

war_rig_FuryRoad

It’ll be Fury Road hands down in this category. I mean, the set pieces of Fury Road is unlike any other film I’ve seen. The vehicles alone are incredible, as you can see in this top 10 list. They actually built every single one of those, instead of relying on CGI effects.

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VISUAL EFFECTS

Who will win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Who should win: Ex Machina

Ava_ExMachina

I certainly won’t have any qualms if Fury Road wins again in this category. But I was thrilled to see the ‘little film that could’ Ex Machina, with its $15 mil budget get in the race. I’d love to see it win this thing because it’s a visually spectacular film that looks more expensive than it is. The look of the robot Ava alone is so unique in a plethora of robot movies in Hollywood. This film also happens to boast the first female nominee in the visual effects category in more than a decade!

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WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)

Who will win: The Big Short

Who should win: The Big Short

The Big Short won best adapted screenplay at the Writers Guild Awards and also took the top prize at the Producers Guild Awards, so I’d think it has a big chance of taking home the Oscar. It’s really an unconventional take of a financial crisis, but the risk paid off. I wouldn’t mind The Martian or Brooklyn winning either, esp. the latter.

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WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)

Who will win: Spotlight

Who should win: Spotlight

I was simply blown away by this meticulous, sharp and understated film. Powerful without resorting to sensationalism or emotional manipulation. This is my second pick after Mad Max: Fury Road to win Best Picture, and if it won in this category, it’ll have a major chance of winning the top prize.

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I have a feeling this year there might not be a single film that’ll sweep all of the awards, but if that happens, I hope that’ll be Mad Max: Fury Road!

So that’s it folks. I’m only predicting 16 out of the complete 24 categories.We’ll see how many I’d get wrong tomorrow night😉


Ok, so what are some of your Oscar winner predictions for this year?

2016 Oscar Nominations: The Good, the Bad and the WTF

Normally I’m excited for Oscar nominations, but this year it was overshadowed by a couple of things that happen around the same time. Just before I went to bed last night I heard news of terrorist attacks in my homeland Jakarta in multiple locations. One of the first bombs that went off was so close to my two nieces’ schools!! I immediately texted my brother and he was right in the middle of picking up his three girls from two different schools. Thank God they’re ok. It’s truly a scary world we live in.

And then of course in the morning I heard of the passing of one of my all time favorite actor Alan Rickman :( My heart is heavy. I shall do a tribute for Mr. Rickman this weekend.

Ok, well I suppose life must go on. So here’s my thoughts on this year’s Academy Awards nominations…

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Same like last year, I didn’t make a post of my nomination predictions this year, I only tweeted who’d be nominated for Best Picture and a few other categories. Well, I guessed correctly that it’d be 8 nominations, but apparently I got two wrong, but the two films that did get in were two I really like.

So instead of Carol and Anomalisa, Brooklyn (which was in my top 3 of the year!) and Bridge of Spies (which is in my top 20) were nominated.

Anyhoo, at 5:30 PCT, actor John Krasinski, Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, and filmmakers Guillermo del Toro and Ang Lee revealed the nominees. View complete nominees list here.

Let’s start with the positive …

The Good

• YES, prayer answered!! Thrilled to see Mad Max: Fury Road nearly swept the Oscars with 10 nominations! I love hearing its name mentioned over and over as I was listening to it this morning [happy dance] 2 nominations short compared to The Revenant… and both starred Tom Hardy!😀

• Happy to see George Miller amongst Best Director nod, yes!!!!

Oscars2016_noms8

• Speaking of the British hottie – YAY for Tom Hardy getting an acting nomination for Best Supporting Actor in The Revenant, woo hoo!!

• YAY for Spotlight! My #2 film of the year will probably be the biggest competition to The Revenant this year.

Nice seeing Batman and Bane both getting nominations ;) Their roles couldn’t be more different, and their names were announced one after another this morning, too!

Bale_Hardy_noms

Bale in The Big Short and Hardy in The Revenant

Both Christian Bale & Tom Hardy are the best actors of their generation, they’re such chameleons who look so different from film to film.

• YAY for Saoirse Ronan amongst the Best Actress nominees! I’m rooting for her even though I think it’s going to be down to Cate Blanchett vs Brie Larson this year.

• YAY for Sly Stallone too!

Creed_SlyStallone

I had mentioned in my Creed review that it’d be interesting (and awesome!) if he did end up being nominated for an Oscar, as he did in 1976 for the first Rocky film. I’d think would mark some kind of record that the same actor is nominated twice playing the exact same role.

• Congrats Leo!! I surely believe this is his year. I mean, The Revenant swept the Oscars with 12 nominations and the Best Actor race is arguably not as strong as in previous years and amongst Cranston, Damon, Fassbender and Redmayne, I think DiCaprio is the frontrunner and if I were a betting woman, I’d put my money on him.

• Now, if you think Leo is the Susan Lucci of the Oscars, heh he’s got nothing on Roger Deakins! He’s been nominated 13 times, and every single one has been amazing too which adds even more insult to injury! Cinematography golden boy Emmanuel Lubezki’s nominated again and considered the frontrunner, but he’s got TWO Oscars in the bag two years in a row. Come on Academy, stop yanking Mr. Deakins’ chain and get him his overdue Oscar!

• The only one I haven’t seen out of this list is Straight Outta Compton. YAY for Ex Machina and Spotlight, quite surprised to see Inside Out and Bridge of Spies here, but both are very good films.

Oscars2016_noms6

• This is perhaps the rare year where I’ve seen ALL of the supporting actor nominees and  I agree with ALL of the Best Supporting Actor nominations. It’s a pleasant surprise to see an acting nominee from Spotlight, and Mark Ruffalo did get one of the showiest roles in the ensemble.

• I’m glad to see Cartel Land and The Look of Silence shortlisted in the Best Documentary category ! Now I haven’t seen the other four that are nominated so I can’t say who’s most deserving, but what Joshua Oppenheimer did with The Act of Killing was astounding, so no doubt he did an equally brilliant job with its follow-up doc.

DocNominations
• Lots of GREAT composers amongst the Best Score nominees, wow! I mean Ennio Morricone and John Williams are practically legends. Now, Mr. Morricone is yet another ‘always a bridesmaid, never a bride’ nominee with 5 previous nominations, let’s hope this is his year also!

The Bad

• Well, I think the hashtag #OscarSoWhite will be trending again this year [shrug].

Here’s what the 20 acting nominees look like this year:


Another bad year for diversity. Just like last year, NONE of the acting nominees consist of an actor/actress of color😦

My daily industry news reading led me to this reaction post by Variety:

But the most disappointing outcome is that, for the second consecutive year, all 20 of the acting nominees are white. No Michael B. Jordan or Tessa Thompson for “Creed”? No Idris Elba or Abraham Attah for “Beasts of No Nation”? No Will Smith for “Concussion”? And despite a best picture nomination, the cast of “Straight Outta Compton” was all shut out. No doubt, yet another year of an all-white Oscars, which is being widely criticized on Twitter, will be addressed by host Chris Rock at the Feb. 28 telecast.


• I was convinced to see Idris Elba‘s name on the list for Beasts Of No Nation, which from what I’ve read should’ve been recognized here. I think Michael B. Jordan was a very strong performer as well in Creed, though I think the Leading Actor category is more crowded than the Supporting one, so Elba surely had a much better shot and it’d be a deserving nomination too, not just to fill a diversity quota!

• Bummed to see Charlize Theron overlooked once again in Mad Max: Fury Road 😦
FuriosaScreams

For some reason there’s no love for Emily Blunt in Sicario. I’m sooooo tired of seeing Jennifer Lawrence, she’s nominated AGAIN this year, sheesh! I sure hope she won’t win this time!

• Not a good year for female talents either it seems. Only ONE female filmmaker gets a nod this year, that is Deniz Gamze Ergüven who directed the French-film Mustang. It sounds similar to Girlhood which is in my top 10 of the year (also a French film directed by a woman) so I should check it out!

MustangFilm

French drama ‘Mustang’

The buzz for Suffragette by Sarah Gavron seems to have sizzled before it even opened in major cities. I also heard tons of great buzz for The Diary of a Teenage Girl by Marielle Heller and got plenty of Critics and Film Festival noms, but it was overlooked by both Golden Globes and Oscars. Apparently 36% of Sundance Film Competition was directed by women according to Indiewire, well that sure sounds like a heck of a lot when female filmmakers are largely absent from major awards.

• Two actors who seem to have been overlooked are Paul Dano in Love & Mercy and Jason Siegel in The End of the Tour. I’ve only seen the latter and thought that Siegel did an excellent performance as David Foster Wallace.

The WTF

• Ok now, Writing’s On the Wall for Best Original Song?? REALLY?? Heh, I think the melody of the song is nice but gah, I can’t stand Sam Smith’s whiny voice and now it sounds like we’d all have to listen to him sing at the Oscars ceremony! Of ALL the years to recognize a Bond song, the Academy chose the most-maligned one that sounds more like writhing on the wall.

Oscars2016_noms13

The comedy/musical category is the most baffling thing about the Golden Globes but Oscar’s most baffling category is the downgrading of actors’ role prominence. As in the case with Alicia Vikander in The Danish Girl. Anyway you look at it, her role is a lead more than a supporting, but she’s nominated in the Supporting Actress category.

• Where’s Oscar Isaac?? No offense Mark Ruffalo, I think he’s an excellent actor but as much as I love Spotlight as a film, I feel like I’d rather see Oscar Isaac in Ex Machina who’s sooo much more memorable. Ah well, at least we have this awesome dance sequence to console us😉

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• Oh and I never thought I’d say this but I’d have loved to see Kristen Stewart gets a nod for her performance in Clouds of Sils Maria. She became the first American actress to win a César Award in the role. I think she gave a far stronger performance than Rachel McAdams in Spotlight. Ok it sounds like I’m ripping Spotlight but I’m not, and if the two acting nods increase its chances to win Best Picture, then I guess I’m happy about that. But still it’s baffling that McAdams get a nod whilst Michael Keaton‘s left out.

• Last but not least, poor Sir Ridley Scott!

PoorRidley

The four-time Oscar nominees is overlooked despite his best directing effort in years. The Martian was a return to form for the 78-year-old filmmaker. Heh, let’s hope he gets another shot again as he’s no spring chicken.

 


The 88th Academy Awards will air on February 28 on ABC.


Well, that’s my reaction to the 2016 nominations. What are your Oscar-related delights and gripes?

2016 Golden Globes Coverage: Thoughts on the Winners + Best & Worst Moments of the Night

GG2016

Happy Monday everyone! Did you watch the Golden Globes last night? Well it’s tradition that I watch a couple of award seasons per year and GG and Oscar are the only two televised ceremonies.

As host Ricky Gervais put it, “Nobody cares about those awards as much as you do, so don’t get emotional, ok?” Ahah, it’s funny ’cause it’s true!

MEMORABLE TWEETS

Leo_Oscar

Speaking of Oscar Isaac, he said something truly important the press room after he won for his series Show Me A Hero about the lack of diversity in the film biz. Let’s make it happen Hollywood!

OscarIsaac_postGGwin

RED CARPET STUFF

I’ve only started tuning in about a half hour before the show started, but thanks to Twitter, here are some notable dresses of the night:

Best Dressed Ladies:

Now, for some reason there are plenty of white dresses and normally I’m not crazy for that color but I quite like what Lily James, Alicia Vikander & Taraji P. Henson (she wore a cape, nice!)

Most dapper guys:

When a bad dress happens to a good actress

GG2016_Blanchett

I love her but miss Cate, what are you  wearing???
Of ALL the dresses you could have in the world, you picked THAT?

….


Thoughts on Winners/Losers 

But before I get to that…

 

Best Motion Picture – Drama

  • Carol
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Revenant (WINNER)
  • Room
  • Spotlight

I was rooting for Mad Max: Fury Road and Spotlight, but I kind of have a feeling The Revenant would win. I sure hope Fury Road would get an Oscar nomination though.

Best Motion Picture – Musical/Comedy

  • The Big Short
  • Joy
  • The Martian (WINNER)
  • Spy
  • Trainwreck

Ok so I’m over the fact that this musical/comedy category is just hilarious but it’s funny that even Matt Damon & Ridley Scott who won for acting and directing are obviously amused by it.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama

  • Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
  • Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant (WINNER)
  • Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
  • Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl
  • Will Smith, Concussion

GG2016_Leo

I haven’t seen The Revenant yet but seems that Leo did an amazing performance. Will that elusive Oscar is finally within reach for him? I guess we’ll see this Thursday when Oscar nominations are announced.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama

  • Brie Larson, Room (WINNER)
  • Cate Blanchett, Carol
  • Rooney Mara, Carol
  • Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
  • Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl

I was rooting for Saoirse but really, Brie was terrific in a difficult role in Room, so yeah I’m happy for her that she won!

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical/ Comedy

  • Christian Bale, The Big Short
  • Steve Carell, The Big Short
  • Matt Damon, The Martian (WINNER)
  • Al Pacino, Danny Collins
  • Mark Ruffalo, Infinitely Polar Bear

I predicted Damon to win and I think he did a good job here, so no complaints from moi on this one.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical/ Comedy

  • Jennifer Lawrence, Joy (WINNER)
  • Melissa McCarthy, Spy
  • Amy Schumer, Trainwreck
  • Maggie Smith, The Lady in the Van
  • Lily Tomlin, Grandma

Ok, I’ve only seen one performance here (McCarthy in Spy) but is Lawrence really the best of this category??

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture

  • Paul Dano, Love & Mercy
  • Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation
  • Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
  • Michael Shannon, 99 Homes
  • Sylvester Stallone, Creed (WINNER)

GG2016_SlyStallone

2016 must be the COME BACK year. Christian Slater had won earlier for Mr. Robot, then Stallone won for Creed, yes!! Oh, even Mel Gibson is presenting the Golden Globes.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture

  • Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs (WINNER)
  • Jane Fonda, Youth
  • Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
  • Helen Mirren, Trumbo
  • Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina

I was rooting for Vikander here as she was excellent as the robot in Ex Machina, but Winslet was a pleasant surprise in Steve Jobs.

Best Director

  • Todd Haynes, Carol
  • Alejandro G. Inarritu, The Revenant (WINNER)
  • Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
  • George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Ridley Scott, The Martian

I was soooo rooting for George Miller! I mean, in a year of comebacks, it’d be lovely to see him win this thing. Seems that Fury Road and The Revenant had incredibly grueling shoots.

Best Screenplay – Motion Picture

  • Emma Donoghue, Room
  • Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer, Spotlight
  • Charles Randolph, Adam McKay, The Big Short
  • Aaron Sorkin, Steve Jobs (WINNER)
  • Quentin Tarantino, The Hateful Eight

Interesting that Steve Jobs bombed at the box office but was a pretty big winner tonight. I do think Sorkin’s script was fantastic, the dialog was so absorbing, that is if you’re willing to overlook the fact that um, most of the events never took place in real life.

Best Animated Feature Film

  • Anomalisa
  • The Good Dinosaur
  • Inside Out (WINNER)
  • The Peanuts Movie
  • Shaun the Sheep Movie

I really like Inside Out but I didn’t love it the way I loved other Pixar movies like the Toy Story trilogy, Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc, Brave, etc. but I’m still glad a Pixar movie won. I for one am not enamored w/ Anomalisa as most people are.

I barely watch any TV so not much commentary on the TV front, but LOVE seeing Oscar Isaac won for Show Me A Hero.


Best Performance by an Actor in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television

OscarIsaacGG2016


Random Commentaries

Ok so I’m not the best Gervais’ fan but there were a few that did make me LOL!

“GG doesn’t have an In Memoriam segment to depress you all, that’s why we have the president of the Hollywood Foreign Press for that.”

When introducing Matt Damon…

“He’s also the only person that Ben Affleck hasn’t been unfaithful to…”

When introducing Ken Jeong and Kevin Hart…

“When Brad and Angelina see Kevin Hart and Ken Jeong, they’re gonna want to adopt them.”

Most Worthy Award of the Night

Denzel_GG2016

Amazing body of work this man had… and he’s one of the classiest actors in Hollywood.

BEST MOMENTS

Leo vs Gaga

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Leo’s expression just cracks me up every time!

Taraji P. Henson winning Best Actress in a Drama Series in Empire

….

WTF MOMENTS

TheBear_GG2016

As if Channing Tatum’s horrifying hairdo wasn’t enough, Jonah Hill was poking fun at the bear in The Revenant.

“I’m a two-year-old bear from the Sierra Mountains, and you took a chance on me”

Jane Fonda was NOT impressed.
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Quentin Tarantino was elated when Ennio Morricone won Best Score for The Hateful 8, but in comparing him to Mozart, Beethoven, and other classical composers, he pretty much said he doesn’t deserve to be stuck in the “ghetto” of film scorers. WOW!

GoslingPitt

When Brad Pitt and Ryan Gosling tried to be funny whilst introducing The Big Short. Meh.

Same with these guys. Their schtick just falls flat.

GG2016_FerrellWahlberg


Gender inequality is no laughing matter, and Gervais poking fun at the huge pay gap between men & women in Hollywood is such poor taste. “I’m being paid the same as Tina and Amy last year. It’s not my fault if there’s two of them, and they want to share the money!” Oh and that jab about the Ghostbusters’ all-female remake isn’t funny either.

But nothing is more cringe-worthy than the whole exchange between Gervais and Mel Gibson. The whole thing just reeks of mean-spiritedness, ugh.

///

In any case, now we’ve got the Oscar nominations coming Thursday. All I’m hoping for is for Fury Road and Spotlight to get their chance to shine this time!

 


So, what are YOUR thoughts on the 2016 winners & best/worst moments of the night?


Awards Season Chat – Musings on 2016 Golden Globes & SAG nominations

Well it’s been less than 48 hours since the SAG and Golden Globes nominations were announced so hopefully we can still chat about them, right? We’ve got about a month until the Oscars is announced on January 14th, so the awards season has officially commenced!

Golden Globes Awards

GG2016

I grabbed these list of noms from IMDb. They have a handy tab navigation on their site for each major awards, so you can check out the full list for both Golden Globes and SAG. In addition to my thoughts about the nominees—and of course the snubs—I thought I’d include my winner pick for each category, too.

BestPictures

YAY for Mad Max: Fury Road, Spotlight AND The Martian, three of my favorite films that will surely end up in my top 10 of the year. I was hoping Brooklyn and 99 Homes would be among the nominees, but at least there are acting nominations for both.

My winner pick [DRAMA]: Mad Max: Fury Road

I really think it’s a modern masterpiece, a perfect balance of action and drama, and not only did it look spectacular on the big screen, it’s also immensely rewatchable! George Miller FTW!!

My winner pick [MUSICAL/COMEDY]: The Martian

It’s immensely entertaining but also has a heart-wrenching story. It’s no doubt one of the best films from Ridley Scott, with a terrific ensemble

By the time I got to Twitter in the afternoon, people were already chiming in on their thoughts on the noms and many were baffled by the inclusion of The Martian in a comedy category. But hey, considering its lighthearted tone despite the dire survival tale, not to mention those hilarious Disco music, I’m not surprised it’s categorized as a comedy. But then again, the categories made by the Hollywood Foreign Press is inherently odd anyway. I mean, I bet Christian Bale never thought he’d get TWO nominations in the musical/comedy category (the first one was for American Hustle in 2014). I haven’t seen The Big Short yet (screening is scheduled for next Tuesday!) but it certainly looks pretty funny and its director Adam McKay directed Anchorman and other Will Ferrell comedies.

BestDirector

Boy, it’s been ages since Ridley Scott was nominated for Best Director isn’t it? The last time was in 2008 for American Gangster. Well, I was indeed a return to form for him. Speaking of a comeback, it doesn’t get more spectacular than George Miller returning to his beloved franchise Mad Max after taking a detour with family-friendly movies Babe: Pig in the City and the Happy Feet movies. Well it’s a welcome return indeed and I’m rooting for him all the way this year. I LOVE Mad Max: Fury Road and my wish is that it’d flabbergast everybody and sweep every single award!😀

My winner pick: George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)

Ok now on to the acting nominees!

BestActress_drama

Well, first thing first, where in the heck is Charlize Theron??! Furiosa is perhaps the most bad ass female role of the year and it’s not just in terms of action but the emotional journey the character’s gone through. Her omission here is a travesty!!

Ok now that I’ve got that out of the way… I’ve only seen Larson and Ronan in Room and Brooklyn, respectively and I think both of them deserve to be nominated. But Saoirse has been such a consistently excellent performer who’s been snubbed several times before so I’m rooting for her.

My winner pick: Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn)

BestActor_drama

There seems to be a ton of snubs in the actors category. I’d have loved to see Oscar Isaac here for his performance in Ex Machina, as well as Tom Hardy in Legend. It’s a crowded category to be sure but really, no performer from Spotlight at all?? In any case, I’ve only seen two on this list, Cranston and Fassbender. Both were excellent but I’m gonna go out of a limb and pick Leo just based on what I’ve read so far about his performance.

My winner pick: Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)

BestActress_comedy

I have only seen one performance here (McCarthy, who’s so fun to watch in Spy) but the same as above, based on what I’ve read, seems that Tomlin was excellent in Grandma, so I’m gonna go with her.

My winner pick: Lily Tomlin (Grandma)

BestActor_comedy

Heh, I’ve also only seen one performance here as the press screening for The Big Short isn’t until next week. It still cracks me up that Bale is getting another nomination in the comedy category, who’s to say he doesn’t have comedic chops? Bale is my favorite actor of the bunch but I REALLY love Matt Damon’s performance in The Martian, which was hilarious as well as emotional. I never thought I’d love him playing an astronaut yet again, but this is such a perfect role for him and I can’t wait to see that movie again.

My winner pick: Matt Damon (The Martian)

BestSupportingActor

YAY Mark Rylance!!  I LOVE all of these picks, even though I’ve only seen 3 out of 5 performances (Rylance, Shannon & Stallone) but I’ve heard so many great things about both Elba’s and Dano’s turn in the two films so I’m sure the noms are well-deserved. I’m sooo torn between Shannon and Stallone, I think this is the toughest category for me to pick a winner, but in the end I go with the most emotionally-gratifying role.

My winner pick: Sylvester Stallone (Creed)

BestSupportingActress

The supporting actress category is a bit more clear cut for me. Now, I adore Helen Mirren but I actually don’t think she was THAT great in Trumbo. She is far more compelling in The Woman in Gold so SAG got it right (more on that later). I had a hunch Jane Fonda would be nominated when I saw her performance in YOUTH, it’s a brief performance (akin to Judi Dench in Shakespeare in Love) but it’s a flashy and memorable one. But this has been quite a year for Vikander, WOW, two nominations for lead in Ex Machina AND supporting role in The Danish Girl. She was largely unknown just a couple of years ago and suddenly she’s everywhere!

My winner pick: Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina)


Now, I barely watch any TV but I’m thrilled to see Outlander garnered three nominations!! I love Caitriona Balfe as Claire and Tobias Menzies who played two characters in the show, Menzies has been turning up in quite a few memorable TV series (i.e. HBO’s Rome) so glad to see him getting a nom this time. I feel bad for Sam Heughan not getting a Best Actor nod, but I guess not having seen the other nominees I can’t comment on whether he’s snubbed. I just think it’s great the series is getting noticed and it makes the wait for season 2 even more agonizing!
Outlander_GGnoms


Screen Actors Guild Awards

SAG2016

I haven’t been paying attention to SAG awards in the past few years but in many ways it’s a crucial one for actors given it’s their peers who voted for them. I’m only focusing on the FILM nominees as again, I barely watch any TV.

SAG_BestEnsemble

Nice to see Straight Outta Compton on this list which sounds like a terrific ensemble cast. I think the cast for both Spotlight and Trumbo are terrific, but the former lingers in my mind more as they do work as a close-knit team in the film. Plus I REALLY like Liev Schreiber and given that it’s a long shot for him to get a nom (though I think he deserved it), it’d be nice to see him go up to the stage if Spotlight wins!

My winner pick: Spotlight

SAG_BestActor

I guess Redmayne’s role seems like a shoo-in for awards even from the start. I haven’t seen it yet but I don’t think it surprises anyone that he got a nom. Interesting that Fassbender is getting noms more for Steve Jobs than Macbeth, I think he’s great in both, but perhaps Jobs is stronger given the phenomenal script from Aaron Sorkin. But just like in the same category in the Golden Globes, I pick Leo given how incredibly difficult the role seems to be and he’s able to deliver such a convincing performance whilst filming under such harsh conditions.

My winner pick: Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)

SAG_BestActress

It’s a bummer to see Charlize Theron being snubbed again by SAG. I’m also surprised not to see Emily Blunt’s name given how critically-praised Sicario was when it opened. I’m glad to see Helen Mirren getting a nod for Woman in Gold as she’s the only reason to see the film. Well her and Tatiana Maslany playing her younger self. Hail miss Blanchett who no doubt is excellent in Carol because she’s such a consistent performer. But I have to go with Ronan, who I think is poised to have a long & fruitful career just like Blanchett.

My winner pick: Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn)

SAG_BestSupActress

Heh, of ALL the terrific cast in Spotlight, the only one nominated is Rachel McAdams?? I mean, I’m all for a strong female role getting recognition but she’s definitely not the best performer of the bunch. If anything, I’d rather see Kristen Stewart being nominated (I can’t believe I said that!) for Clouds of Sils Maria. I wasn’t fond of her before but to be fair she was indeed good in that film.

My winner pick: Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)
SAG_BestSupActor

YAY! Glad to see Rylance and Shannon getting a SAG nod in the supporting category. I’m also happy to see 9-year-old Jacob Tremblay being recognized for his role in Room. There has been some young thespians amongst award nominees before, and he’s certainly the most memorable young performer of the year for me.

Again, I’m bummed Tom Hardy is coming up empty in a year where he’s delivered such strong performances in a few movies. I’m also surprised Benicio Del Toro isn’t on the list, I’ve read a bunch of reviews praising his performance in Sicario.

Well, since I picked Stallone in the same category for GG noms, I’m going to go with Shannon who’s just oh-so-great in 99 Homes. If only the film gets more recognition.

My winner pick: Michael Shannon (99 Homes)


Most eggregrious snubs

Theron_Hardy

Yes I know there are others but in my opinion, this is the ones that riled me up the most. Charlize Theron for Mad Max Fury Road and Tom Hardy in a dual role Legend (or in The Revenant which I read was also excellent) deserve every nominations there is for the year. Both of them are my top pick of 2015 MVPs so it stings to see both of them coming up empty in both Golden Globes AND SAG awards, ugh!


So what are your thoughts on the Golden Globes & SAG nominees? Who do you think are snubbed and who are you rooting for?

Oscars 2015 – Recap, Reflections on Best & Worst Moments

Oscars2015

Quick confession: I’m not a huge fan of Oscars red carpet, or red carpet in general. So I only tuned in a half hour before the show. It’s funny but the second I turned on the TV, Michael Keaton was standing next to the chirpy blond presenter. He seems effortlessly at ease, LOVE that guy and I’m so rooting for him to the end! As I did last year, I went to Zumba, had dinner, then went down to my basement.

Well, first things first…

How did I do on my predictions?

  1. Best picture: Boyhood  Birdman
  2. Best director: Richard Linklater (Boyhood) Alexandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman)
  3. Best lead actor: Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything
  4. Best lead actress: Julianne Moore – Still Alice
  5. Best supporting actor: J.K. Simmons –Whiplash
  6. Best supporting actress: Patricia Arquette –Boyhood
  7. Best animated feature: Song of the Sea Big Hero 6
  8. Best feature documentary: Citizenfour
  9. Best adapted screenplay: The Theory of Everything The Imitation Game
  10. Best original screenplay: Birdman
  11. Best original score: The Grand Budapest Hotel
  12. Best cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki – Birdman
  13. Best original song: “Glory” from Selma
  14. Best Make Up and Hair Styling: Foxcatcher The Grand Budapest Hotel
  15. Best Production Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel
  16. Best Visual Effects: Interstellar
  17. Best Costume Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Well, I got 12 out of 17 predictions right. I’m actually surprised to be surprised by the winners, if that make sense at all. I mean, I honestly thought Boyhood would sweep the awards, well at least in Best Director and Best Picture. I haven’t seen the film yet so I’ve been #TeamBirdman from the start. I literally screamed at the top of my lungs [sorry neighbors!] when I heard Iñárritu‘s name called out… I was ecstatic still, I did NOT see Birdman‘s Best Picture win coming …

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Red Carpet Stuff

Firstly, can someone explain what the heck is going on here?? John Travolta is feelin’ frisky tonight eh? Scarlett Johansson‘s post-baby figure is PHENOMENAL! Dayum girl, and that haircut is bad ass!!

Travolta_Johansson_Oscar2015

These two dresses are my two favorites of the night:

LupitaOscars15

Lupita Nyong’O was my red carpet fave last year too. Wow she’s still the reigning queen of the red carpet with this amazing custom-made pearl gown. YOWZA!! Can’t beat her pearl dress, but it’s her elegant swagger that makes her so dazzling.

RosamundOscars15
Yet another gorgeous new mom,Rosamund Pike just had a baby back in December!! She’s wearing the color of blood for her first Oscar nomination, how appropriate! She looks absolutely stunning and I LOVE the rose textures all over her gown.

A few other favorites …

LadiesOscars15

Dapper men on the red carpet!

Look at the three dapper Chris-es in the center (Evans, Pratt & Pine), hmmm where’s Hemsworth??

GentlemenOscars15

Forget best-dressed peoples…  these two ladies WON the red carpet with their unabashed display of affection. LOVE the spontaneity of this shot, I didn’t know Emma StoneJennifer Aniston are best buds, VERY cool!

Aniston_Stone_Oscar2015

Favorite Speeches:

“We made a film, black and white, about the need for silence and withdrawal from the world and contemplation, and here we are at this epicenter of noise and all the tension… Life is full of surprises” — Pawel Pawlikowski, director of IDA

By far the funniest speech of the night, can’t blame him for his exuberance. I kind of feel guilty for not having seen IDA yet.

The disclosures that Edward Snowden reveals don’t only expose a threat to our privacy but to our democracy itself,” – Citizenfour’s Lauren Poitras

.@johnlegend moves the crowd to tears with his powerful Oscars speech. pic.twitter.com/UhmNezO1zN

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Now, I wasn’t rooting for him but I have to admit I was moved by Eddie Redmayne’s ecstatic and his can’t-believe-I-actually-won reaction when he gripped his Oscar tightly in his hand. I predicted he’d win and I knew that no matter how much I wanted Michael Keaton to win, it just wouldn’t be in the cards. But hey, the dude seems cool about it. I think Eddie wanted to win more badly than anyone else.

Innaritu_Oscar15

Hilarious nod to his pal Alfonso Cuarón who deservedly won last year for Gravity, in case some of you forgot.

What a great come back to Sean Penn’s uncalled for ‘green card’ comment [see below under WORST moments]. Seriously, I thought I couldn’t dislike a guy more, but Penn is relentless in being so unlikable.

Fave Moments

The LEGO Movie‘s Everything is Awesome musical number is so exuberantly fun and joyful! Some of the dancers came out carrying the LEGO version of the Oscar statuettes in response to their egregious snub. Take THAT the Academy!

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Common and John Legend‘s performance of GLORY… it was a glorious performance. Common_Legend_Oscar2015I know people are mocking the standing ovation and people tearing up over that song, but it’s uncalled for. The song is genuinely moving rendition of an important and VERY timely film. It’s a well-deserved win and followed by a defiant speech.

LadyGaga_Oscar15WHOA!! I didn’t see THIS coming …

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I can’t say I’m a big fan of Lady Gaga so I had no idea she could sing so beautifully! What’s even more beautiful is the Dame herself Julie Andrews coming on stage looking genuinely verklempt over Gaga’s performance and hugged her. LOVE it!

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Glom Gazingo! Idina Menzel, aka Adele Dazeem got her revenge on John Travolta. But this hilarious moment is also one of the creepiest. What’s w/ all the face-touching John??

Hands down my favorite moment ever from last night:

 

So how did NPH do as host?

NPH_Oscar2015

 Can’t say I’m impressed with Neil Patrick Harris. I think I only laughed a couple of times as he seemed so self-aware all night that the joke just seemed off. Even when he showed up in his tighty whities as a spoof to Birdman, it didn’t feel all that spontaneous compared to last year’s pizza delivery thing. I definitely like Ellen more as host, I just think she is funny without trying too hard. Oh and I didn’t care for his subtle-not-so-subtle ‘treason’ jab against Ed Snowden after Citizenfour won Best Documentary.

I did enjoy his ‘Oscar prediction’ bit but I think that’s due to the Oscar writers kind of summarizing the most amusing moments of the night.

Oh and THIS moment with David Oyelowo is pretty cute.

Oyelowo_NPH_Oscar15

Worst Moments:

Sean Penn making us wait for the final award of the night, Best Picture, only to be followed by a distasteful *joke* about green card, sheesh! Yes I know he worked with Iñárritu on 21 Grams so the two are likely friends, but still, it’s just inappropriate and offensive.

Seeing this pic of Robin Williams… still can’t believe he’s gone😦

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So did you watch the Oscars last night? Thoughts on the winners and what’s your pick of best/worst moments?

Counting down to 87th Academy Awards – Winner Predictions + various Oscar tidbits

Happy Oscar Weekend everybody! To those who give a ballyhoo about Oscars or award season in general, hang in there, award season is almost over😉

I usually feel like Oscar ceremony sneaked up on me, but this year I’m glad it’s finally here! Part of it is really so we can all move on, but I’m also curious who’d finally win the top honors. It’s the cinematic Superbowl, the one big *sporting* event for those who don’t care about sports, such as yours truly. It’s an amusing diversion really, so I never get too riled up when things don’t go my way [as is often the case]. Mild rants are warranted though, and that’s just part of the fun & frivolity of it all.

I was scouring the interweb and found some nifty Oscar-related stuff, so I thought I’d share ’em before I get to my predictions.

Check out THR’s illustrative cover with all the Best Picture nominees done in Oscar statuette’s style.

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THR has been running the Brutally Honest Oscar Ballot series, revealing a glimpse into a few of the Academy voters’ thoughts on the race.


My favorite Oscar expert in the blogosphere, Josh @ Cinematic Spectacle posted 10 Things to Know Before the Oscar Ceremony


So apparently they’re making an Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in L.A.? Check out the building rendering here. IMDb presents a special look at Oscar history in support of that upcoming museum:


 Now this is pretty mind-boggling stuff. The Wall Street Journal posted this INTERACTIVE MAP of the major Oscar nominees. Basically it shows data of social media (mostly Facebook) conversation about the nominated films, actors and actresses and which movies and people are winning the FB Oscar “conversation” from Jan. 1 to Feb. 16.

If they were the Oscar voters, American Sniper and Bradley Cooper would’ve won by a landslide!

OscarInteractiveMap


If you’re like me and you haven’t seen ALL of the Best Picture nominees yet, well, Mashable has this handy guide as to WHERE to catch up with 7 essential films.


OscarPredictions

Well, with only 24 hours to go, I still have three more films I haven’t seen yet from the Best Picture nominees. I wanted to see Whiplash but it’s not available to rent yet on iTunes, so we saw The Theory of Everything instead. In any case, here are my predictions:

Best Picture
American Sniper
Birdman
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Selma
The Theory of Everything
Whiplash

Who will win: Boyhood
Who should win: Birdman
Ok so I haven’t seen Boyhood yet but I really have a hard time imagining that it’d top Birdman for me.

Best Director
Alexandro G. Iñárritu – Birdman
Richard Linklater – Boyhood
Bennett Miller – Foxcatcher
Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Morten Tyldum – The Imitation Game

Who will win: Richard Linklater
Who should win: Alexandro G. Iñárritu
Ok so Linklater’s effort was incredibly ambitious so I have to give him kudos for that. But what Iñárritu did is just as unconventional and spectacularly creative.

Best Actor
Steve Carell – Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper – American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton – Birdman
Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything

Who will win: Eddie Redmayne
Who should win: Michael Keaton
Ok I’m glad I finally saw Redmayne’s performance last night and he was impressive. Yet I’m still rooting for Keaton for many reasons. One of them is the fact that his role is the only one that’s not based on a real person and yet he’s able to create such an affecting and authentic performance.

Best Actress
Marion Cotillard – Two Days One Night
Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore – Still Alice
Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon – Wild

Who will win: Julianne Moore
Who should win: Rosamund Pike

Best Supporting Actor
Robert Duvall – The Judge
Ethan Hawke – Boyhood
Edward Norton – Birdman
Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons – Whiplash

Who will & should win: J.K Simmons
If Simmons is as good as everyone’s been saying – and the praise seems unanimous –then he ought to win. He’s done such great work in his career in various supporting roles. However, I can’t lie that I wish either Ruffalo or Norton would get it.

Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette – Boyhood
Laura Dern – Wild
Keira Knightley – The Imitation Game
Emma Stone – Birdman
Meryl Streep – Into the Woods

Who will win: Patricia Arquette
Who should win: Anyone but Meryl please! Other than that, I think Keira Knightley did a smashing job and 2015 has been quite a year for her playing against-type roles.

Best Cinematography
Emmanuel Lubezki – Birdman
Robert Yeoman – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski – Ida
Dick Pope – Mr. Turner
Roger Deakins – Unbroken

Who will & should win: Emmanuel Lubezki
Poor Mr. Deakins, the Susan Lucci of cinematographers with 12 nominations and not a single win yet. But what Lubezki did in Birdman is so magnificent and inventive.

Best Adapted Screenplay
American Sniper
The Imitation Game
Inherent Vice
The Theory of Everything
Whiplash

Who will win: The Theory of Everything
Who should win: The Theory of Everything
Having just seen this last night, I do think Anthony McCarten did an excellent job adapting Jane Hawking’s memoir.

Best Original Screenplay
Birdman
Boyhood
Foxcatcher
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Nightcrawler

Who will & should win: Birdman
No contest here, it’s one of the most imaginative stories in recent memory.

Best Make Up and Hair Styling
Foxcatcher
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Guardians of the Galaxy

Who will win: Foxcatcher
Who should win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
They certainly did an amazing job w/ Steve Carell’s face in Foxcatcher but I didn’t care for the makeup for Ruffalo and Tatum there. ‘Grand Budapest’ did a stellar job overall IMO.

Best Original Score
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Interstellar
Mr. Turner
The Theory of Everything

Who will win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Who should win: The Imitation game
I LOVE both Alexandre Desplat’s scores this year, but I give The Imitation Game a slight edge as it perfectly captures both the intelligence and the emotional aspect of the story.

Best Original Song
“Everything Is Awesome” from The Lego Movie
“Glory” from Selma
“Grateful” from Beyond the Lights
“I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me
“Lost Stars” from Begin Again

Who will win: Glory
Who should win: Lost Stars
As Selma has no chance in winning Best Picture, it’s very likely the Academy would give this win as a *consolation* prize.

Best Animated Feature
Big Hero 6
The Boxtrolls
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Song of the Sea
The Tale of Princess Kaguya

Who will win: Song of the Sea
Who should win: Big Hero 6
I’m torn between How to Train Your Dragon 2 and Big Hero 6, I’d be happy with either win.

Best Production Design
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Interstellar
Into the Woods
Mr. Turner

Who will & should win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Visual Effects
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Guardians of the Galaxy
Interstellar
X-Men: Days of Future Past

Who will win: Interstellar
Who should win: Interstellar

Best Documentary
Citizenfour
Finding Vivien Maier
Last Days of Vietnam
The Salt of the Earth
Virunga

Who will win: Citizenfour
Who should win: Citizenfour

Best Costume Design
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Inherent Vice
Into the Woods
Maleficent
Mr. Turner

Who will & should win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

 


So what do you think of these Oscar tidbits and predictions, folks?

Music Break: Ten Favorite Oscar-Winning Film Scores

TenFaveOscarWinningScores

The Oscars is just a week away, folks! Well, a week ago, as I was listening to 99.5 Classical MPR they were playing my favorite score from Titanic and I knew I had to make a post of it. For this post I’m focusing more on the instrumental themes instead of the songs, hence my exclusion of Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, etc. Y’know, I’m still surprised that some of my all time fave scores did NOT win an Oscar, i.e. Gone with the Wind, Superman, Indiana Jones, Gladiator, The Hours, and The Passion of the Christ, just to name a few. Heck, the one I considered one of the greatest scores ever, Somewhere in Time, wasn’t even nominated! But its composer John Barry had been nominated six times. John Williams, the reigning champion of the most-nominated composer ever with 44 (he beat Alfred Newman who had 43 noms) have made some truly iconic scores, but my faves did not win, so I only included the one I love the most.

Thanks to Wikipedia for making it easy for me to see the winners all the way from the 1930s. Now, I’ve seen most of the films the scores appear in, with a couple of exceptions (Out of Africa and Dances with Wolves). So in any case, here are my Top 10 Fave Oscar-Winning Scores, in order of release:

BEN-HUR – Miklós Rózsa

Ever since I saw this as a young girl with my late mother, few films have touched me as much as Ben-Hur did and Rozsa’s score is one of the reasons it’s such an enduring epic.

 

Lawrence of Arabia – Maurice Jarre

I actually just saw this film two years ago but I’ve heard the soundtrack years before and it’s remained one of my favorites!

 

Out of Africa – John Barry

Ahhh John Barry… nobody could create a more lush and devastatingly gorgeous music that pierces your soul. I haven’t seen the film yet but I’m actually afraid the music would actually eclipse the film itself.

 

The Little Mermaid – Alan Menken

I grew up listening to all Disney Princess songs and I somehow identified with Ariel’s loneliness and her yearning to belong in someone else’s world. Mr. Menken is an absolute musical genius in that he somehow could capture the sentiment of her character.

I also have a special fondness for the Caribbean-influenced style of Under the Sea. I LOVE the little crab Sebastian so much I actually bought the tiny stuffed animal, and I’m still using The Little Mermaid‘s beach towel to this day😀

 

Schindler’s List – John Williams

Perhaps one of the most hauntingly-beautiful music ever conceived. I never NOT tear up whenever I listen to this. Itzhak Perlman‘s violin solo adds so much to the piece, making it ever so unforgettable.

 

Beauty & The Beast – Alan Menken

I was just listening to this the other day and out of all the music in the wonderful album, this has to be my favorite. Yes, it even beats the more popular Tale as old as time. The scene itself of the Beast’s transformation is beautifully-done and it always packs such an emotional punch.

 

Dances with Wolves – John Barry

Another one by John Barry, can’t you tell I absolute LOVE this man’s work? I really should see this film already, as I’ve listened to the soundtrack more often than I can count.

 

Titanic – James Horner

THIS is the piece that was played in Classical MPR on my way home from work last week. I’m glad they chose to play Take Her to Sea Mr Murdock instead of the massively popular My Heart Will Go On. I always remember the first time I beheld the majestic ocean liner on the big screen and there’s a lump in my throat when that music came on. There’s such an energy to it, a joyful optimism of that day that’s so infectious, which makes the doom fate of Titanic later on in the film even more heart-wrenching.

 

The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King – Howard Shore

I really think the soundtrack of the entire trilogy is simply exceptional. It’s just as epic as Peter Jackson’s creation and it really transport you into the realm of Middle Earth!

 

The Artist – Ludovic Bource

The strength of a lot of silent films is the soundtrack and The Artist is no exception. I love most of the tracks but this waltz is my absolute favorite. I LOVE Bérénice Bejo in the role, this music is as pretty and playful as Peppy herself, there’s such a wistful nostalgic vibe that takes you back to those Chaplin classics.


Hope you enjoyed this week’s music break! Which of these Oscar-winning score(s) is your favorite?