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…

oscars2016banner1

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 😉

tumblr_o09c4lhzkw1s5o8nro1_1280

• 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?

Music Break: Ennio Morricone’s The Mission – Gabriel’s Oboe

I’ve been wanting to feature this haunting score for a while now, and since Easter was just a few days ago, I thought it’d be fitting to feature it this week.

TheMissionPosterEnnio Morricone is one of my favorite composers of all time, with Cinema Paradiso being one of my favorite scores ever. There’s something so highly evocative about his music, and whilst Cinema Paradiso is more lush and romantic in nature, this score for Roland Joffé 1986’s film The Mission has a poignant and haunting quality to it. It’s one of those pieces I’d describe as so achingly beautiful as whenever I listen to it, it pierces my heart and stirs my soul.

I saw this film years ago and after seeing the trailer last night, I’m compelled to see it again. The story centers on 18th century Spanish Jesuits try to protect a remote South American Indian tribe in danger of falling under the rule of pro-slavery Portugal. It features fantastic performances from major thespians such as Jeremy Irons, Robert DeNiro and Liam Neeson.

The main theme, called Gabriel’s Oboe, is one of the most stirring piece of music I’d ever come across. The name of the score refers to the scene where Father Gabriel (Irons) travels to Iquazu Falls, climbs to the top and plays his oboe. The Guaraní community who lives above the Falls had tied a priest to a cross and sent him over the falls to his death, but the Guaraní warriors were captivated by the music and allowed Gabriel to live.



Morricone’s score for The Mission was ranked on #1 in a poll of the all-time greatest film scores and is ranked 23rd on the AFI’s list of 25 greatest film scores of all time. Morricone received a second Oscar nomination for The Mission, but lost out to Herbie Hancock’s jazzy score for Bertrand Tavernier’s Round Midnight. (per Wikipedia)

I owned a couple of Sarah Brightman‘s CD, and one of my favorite songs from her is Nella Fantasia (In My Fantasy). Well, apparently it was based on Morricone’s Gabriel Oboe theme he did for this film! Brightman was such a big fan of that music that he begged Morricone to put lyrics to the theme to create her own song.

My next song was originally an instrumental written by the composer Ennio Morricone for the film The Mission. About three years ago I wrote to Mr. Morricone, asking whether he would give me permission to turn this particular piece into a song. He flatly refused. So every two months I would send yet another begging letter, until I think he became so sick of me that he finally relented. And I am really glad that he did, because I think it works beautifully as a song. (per Wikipedia)

Here’s the Sarah Brightman‘s rendition of Nella Fantasia (I can only find the live version):

Few scores are as exquisite and powerful as this one… Mr. Morricone is certainly a legend amongst even the best film composers ever, and this stands at the top of his amazing work.


I hope you enjoy today’s Music Break. Thoughts on this film and/or its music?

Music Break: Cinema Paradiso (1988)

I’m not feeling too well today so naturally I turn to lush, gorgeous music to make me feel better and this one just immediately came to mind. In fact, as I said in my Cinema Paradiso review, I had fallen in love with Ennio Morricone‘s soundtrack long before I finally saw the film. Of course the film itself is just as beautiful as the music and I have since bought the Blu-ray and hope to re-watch it soon.

I didn’t know until much later that the Roman-born, 83-year-old composer is more well-known for his work in Spaghetti Westerns directed by his friend Sergio Leone, including A Fistful of DollarsThe Good, the Bad and the Ugly, and Once Upon a Time in the West. He ended up composing music for over 40 Westerns. Not a fan of that genre, my favorite soundtrack of his are the non-Western soundtracks such as The Mission, The Untouchables, and of course Cinema Paradiso, which I regard as one of my all time favorite movie music.

I read a while ago that the composer was involved very early in the process with the film’s director Giuseppe Tornatore, even as early as the screenplay process, which perhaps explain the integral part the music plays in the film. Now, this love theme was composed by Ennio’s son Andrea, and they shared their BAFTA win for Best Original Score.

I’m often drawn to music that truly stirs the soul, one that gets me feeling all emotional, the more tear-inducing the better. This melody is so hauntingly beautiful, poignant, romantic, heartwarming and heartbreaking all at the same time. It’s impossible not to be moved by the story of bittersweet relationship between a young Italian boy and a local cinema projectionist… and the music is the perfect complement to such a marvelous film. It’s one of those evocative music that soothes the soul and warms the heart. It also takes me back to the wonderful scenes of the protagonist Toto and Alfredo in that charming Sicilian village.

Normally I prefer the instrumental version of a soundtrack but a few years ago, I discovered this lovely song by Monica Mancini (Henry Mancini’s daughter) titled Remember… I absolutely love it, the melody, the lyrics, her voice. I like it so much that I bought her CD. Take a listen below…

Cinema Paradiso‘s soundtrack the kind of music as timeless as the everlasting magic of the cinema… a masterpiece work by a maestro that can be enjoyed by any generation for years to come.


Have you seen Cinema Paradiso? What’s your favorite Ennio Morricone’s work?

Rental Pick: Cinema Paradiso (1988)

I saw Cinema Paradiso a few months ago during our monthly gals’ movie nite, but haven’t got a chance to write a review on it. Since I just watched Nine recently which share a ‘cinema italiano’ theme, why not do the review back to back (the Nine review will be up tomorrow). But the the theme and filming location are where the similarities end, because these are completely different movies, as far as the east is from the west in terms of style and quality.

CINEMA PARADISO (Director’s Cut)

I first heard about this movie when I heard the gorgeous soundtrack by the renowned Ennio Morricone years ago. The instrumental version is obviously magnificent, but when I heard Monica Mancini (Henry Mancini’s daughter) sang the English version of the song, I fell in love with that, too. It turns out the movie is really is as charming as the music.

It’s a touching tale of unlikely friendship between a theater’s projectionist Alfredo and a young boy Toto (Salvatore). Directed by Italian director Giuseppe Tornatore, Cinema Paradiso won all kinds of awards when in came out in 1988, including Oscar’s Best Foreign Language Film, and it’s easy to see why. Everything about it is so enchanting and the story is rich with themes of friendship, love, loyalty and of course, a celebration of the world of cinema. The movie is divided into three major sections, marked by the three different actors playing Salvatore. All of the Italian actors did very well to capture the adventurous yet melancholy spirit of the main character smoothly from one to the next.


Section one focuses primarily on the friendship between Alfredo and Toto. It begins with a middle-aged man living in a luxurious condo in Rome, who just learned about the death of a loved one. We’re not told who this ‘Alfredo’ person, but we know from the man’s reaction that he means a lot to him. Then the movie switches to flashback mode, we’re transported to a small town in Southern Italy during post WWII era. We watched the mischievous Toto growing up with a natural fondness for the world of film, constantly sneaking into the movie theater and hassling Alfredo. The strict Catholic customs means censorship is controlled by the town’s priest, whose task is to make sure the movies are stripped off any romantic/sexual scenes. Toto are persistent to get his hands on those very splices of films, and he eventually does, which somehow leads to a fire accident that gets him banned from going to the theater. Despite his initial reluctance, the two form a father-son bond and friendship and Toto becomes the only other person besides Alfredo who knows how to run the projector in the whole town. The ending of this part is one of the most memorable part of the movie, where Alfredo treats the whole town to a free movie right in the piazza, as he projects the film onto a wall of a house from the window of the theater. But tragedy strikes, followed by a momentous rescue that changes both of their lives forever.

Years passed and in the second section Toto has grown into a handsome young man, ready to fall in love. The subject of his affection is Elena, whom he falls for at first sight. Elena doesn’t immediately return his advances, but the hopeless romantic Toto waits, literally, outside her bedroom window every night until she responds (a la Freddy waiting for Eliza on the street where she lives in My Fair Lady). The romance is sweet, but it doesn’t quite eclipse the friendship part of the story, as we slowly learn that Alfredo plays an integral part in how Toto ends up being a successful filmmaker that we see in the beginning of the movie.

The last section pretty much picks up where the beginning scenes left off, where the older Salvatore first heard of Alfredo’s death in Rome. He returns to his hometown after years of being away, and makes good of his promise to never come back until his dream to be a filmmaker is fulfilled. The ending of Salvatore alone in a private theater watching a very special montage given by his beloved friend is a real tearjerker. It provides a significant and sentimental finale to Alfredo-Toto’s relationship.

Now, I definitely will try to see the original 154-minute version that has a different ending involving his long lost love Elena. The way it’s described in Wikipedia, I think would bring closure to the budding romance that ended so abruptly, but turns out it was driven by love after all. It’s hard to imagine that its original release in its native country was actually a flop, it wasn’t until it was shortened to 123 minutes for international release that it achieved a great deal of success.

I absolutely LOVE this movie, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and if you’re like me, you’ll want to see it again. The fact that it’s set in Italian with subtitles adds to its charm as well, and the gorgeous cinematography and setting makes it feel real and authentic. It’s really a must for anyone who loves films or even those who appreciate a classic drama where the beautiful story is the STAR of the movie. Bravo!

4halfReels


Have you seen this film? Please share your thoughts in the comments.