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Entries in Alfre Woodard (14)

Thursday
Mar282019

Another Look at 'Clemency'

by Murtada Elfadl

Hodge and Chukwu at ND/NF

Chinonye Chukwu’s Clemency opened the New Directors/New Films fest in New York last night. I got the chance to see it again and any reservations I had about it went away. This is a new version that is tighter than the one I saw at Sundance. While the changes are miniscule, they really pull the film together and focus its story. At Sundance I praised the central performance of Alfre Woodard as a prison warden managing a prison that includes a death row. However I thought the film meandered and was repetitive.

Not anymore!

Now it centers Woodard’s dealing with the processing of one death row inmate (Aldis Hodge) and the forces both against him and defending him. The focus is still on the toll all this takes on the psyche of Woodard’s Bernadine; so she is still front and center and owns the film. What is around her now flows easier and the film’s message about capital punishment remains potent. Chukwu won Sundance grand jury prize making history as the first black woman to do so. Clemency announces her as an exciting new director.

Oscar Chances: Obviously Woodard is its biggest and perhaps only chance at Oscar. The performance is there and so are the critical plaudits, however she needs a patient release plan to allow the film to reach its audience (The Wife playbook if you will). Other than that I see this as a film that Gothams/Indie Spirits will fall in love with - with possible nominations for film, director and supporting actor (Aldis Hodge).

Wednesday
Feb062019

Podcast: Oscar's Self Destruction, Guild Prizes, and Sundance Winners

with Nathaniel R and Murtada Elfadl 

 In this episode Murtada and Nathaniel sound off on Sundance buzz, and the current madness of the awards race and Oscar's late-life identity crisis and one shockingly ill-thought-out decision after the next, ad infinitum.

Index (58 minutes)
00:01 Sundance buzz: The Farewell, Clemency, One Child Nation, Them That Follow , and The Report
17:25 Recent guild prizes: Bryan Singer & Rami Malek's Bohemian Rhapsody and how everything keeps going wrong this awards season.
22:34 Bo Burnham's Eighth Grade's surprise DGA win
26:00 Oscar's identity crisis and its increasingly terrible decisions. Murtada tries to talk Nathaniel off the ledge.
36:00 Spike Lee and Bradley Cooper at the DGAs and guilds confusion about Best Picture
45:40 Trying to survive Oscar's dwindling sense of self and we're back to Sundance to talk about next year's Oscar possibilities, especially in regards to Clemency
56:00 Annie Awards and wrap-up

Referenced in the Podcast
Nathaniel's "Awards Season is Killing Me" Rant
DGA winners
• Murtada's Sundance Coverage

You can listen to the podcast here at the bottom of the post or download from iTunesContinue the conversations in the comments, won't you? 

Sundance Glory / Oscar Doom

Tuesday
Feb052019

Murtada's Sundance Awards

Murtada Elfadl closing out his Sundance coverage. Thanks, Murtada!

My first ever Sundance was a blast. So much so I’m already making tentative plans to return next year. Please indulge my 'jury of one' as I hand out awards in traditional categories and ones made up just for your reading pleasure. Please note that I only had time to see 23 movies. Some of the more popular ones I missed included the documentary One Child Nation , Shia LaBeouf's vehicle Honey Boy and the popular comedy Brittany Runs A Marathon. So take all this with a grain of salt...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jan292019

Sundance: Great acting in "Clemency," an education in "The Report"

Murtada Elfadl reporting from Sundance

Should we react to movies based on content or artistic merit? I struggled with two movies at Sundance this week which had incendiary, important content and tackled either a crucial part of history or provided necessary social commentary. Artistically, however, I found both Clemency and The Report lacking...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Nov292018

Sundance 2019 Lineup: Lots of Promising Topics and Great Actresses

The Sundance Film Festival runs January 24th through February 3rd next year. Let's look at the five of the key program lineups in brief. Which films are you most excited about. TFE might be going this year, we're not yet sure.

U.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION

Alfred Woodard stars in "Clemency"

16 World Premieres will be competing for the Sundance crown (won last year by The Miseducation of Cameron Post). The new crop is all writer/directors (except where noted) and Sundance has been very careful about diversity, noting in their press release that the US dramatic competition section is 53% female directors, 41% directors of color and 18% LGBTQ directors. But they had a ton to choose from which helps with diversity. There was a record number of submissions for the 2019 festival with 4,018 features hoping to be selected, 1767 if those made from within the US...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Feb272016

And the Links Go To...

People say such strange things when they're talking about Oscars
Bwin predicts Leo will lose the Oscar. One especially weird bit of reasoning is that all of the Actor nominees are playing good guys. Um, did they watch Steve Jobs?
The Guardian says a "conservative" estimate is that Australians will win 10 Oscars tomorrow. Conservative? Have they not heard of The Revenant?
/Film Stunt people want their own Oscar and recently protested again. Unfortunately they also felt the need to belittle other industry talents saying: 

 People love action; that’s why people go to the movies. No disrespect, but who goes to the movies to see the hairstyles?”

*raises hand*

More Oscar Mania
Vanity Fair fun interview with nominated Jenny Beavan, Mad Max Fury Road costume designer, with a choice Charlize Theron quote
Boston Globe really interesting piece from Ty Burr on "what if the Oscars didn't exist..." and it takes you to place I personally wasn't expecting
Psychology Today on why we're obsessed with the Oscars. STOP PSYCHOANALYZING ME! 
IndieWire Ira Deutchman suggests changes to make the Academy more diverse. "First film" would be interesting and skew young but I am adamantly opposed to breakthrough since that is too easily gamed -- see the "breakthrough" prizes Charlize Theron won for Monster after several years of stardom. We'd have a whole new category fraud problem with that.
The Guardian has an interesting take on the Short Film categories -- why don't people watch them when they're increasingly available -- and why do they feel like commercials for features? 
Variety beautiful reminiscence from Alfre Woodard on her earliest theatrical success and her 80s Oscar nomination 
Tim Brayton's Oscar Predictions 
Movie Motorbreath's Oscar Predictions 

General Film
Interview ZOMG Julianne Moore interviewing Christina Vachon!
Instagram The Sleeping Beauty dragon via LEGOs! 
i09 JJ Abrams is claiming Star Wars will feature gay characters. I'll believe that when I see it (but until then it's fun that Oscar Isaac winked to queer fans with Poe Dameron. And also the Star Wars Saga is largely asexual anyway so...

Off Cinema
Pajiba nails Marco Rubio with a great Turing Test joke
i09 Bram Stoker Awards -- for horror fiction. Which of these will end up as movies?
/Film Tom McCarthy is going to follow up Spotlight with a Netflix series called 13 Reasons Why... it's based on a bestseller but honestly the suicidal premise sounds atrocious / reductive. Already worried!
Jeanne the Fangirl amazing find - a letter to Marvel from 1974 complaining about Iron Fist's whitewashing. Here we are in 2016 and Marvel is STILL planning a white Iron Fist even though the story is Asian by origin
Playbill.com has a badly needed redesign. Check it out if you love Broadway 

Today's Watch
A Cat predicting the Oscars. (Monty, TFE's Oscar predicting cat, wouldn't cooperate this year but he's always been temperamental about his psychic duties. Also: he's very very old now and only wants to sleep.) So anyway here is some random cat who thinks he can do it. Rampling, eh?