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Entries in Best Picture (167)

Sunday
Sep202015

"Room" is the People's Choice

Great News: Room won the People's Choice award at TIFF! 
It couldn't have happened to a more deserving film and I mean that literally since it was the best of the 29 films I caught there. Confession: I really thought that Spotlight would take it since festival goers wouldn't shut up about that one. In the past twenty years the People's Choice Award has been a very solid indicator of a future Best Picture nomination. In fact, with one exception only (Hotel Rwandaif the winner was from the States or the UK, it was nominated at the Oscars. Canadian winners (Eastern Promises and The Hanging Garden) as well as most of the non-English language winners weren't so lucky. A Best Picture nomination would be a very big deal for A24 as a young distributor but they've already released so many fine and daring films they've earned one, don't you think? 

How high would you rank the film now in your predictions? 

Winners List
People's Choice Room (Lenny Abramson)
    1st Runner Up: Angry Indian Goddesses (Pan Nalin)
    2nd Runner Up: Spotlight (Tom McCarthy)

FIPRESCI DiscoveryEva Nová (Marko Skop) 
FIPRESCI Special PresentationDesierto (Jonás Cuarón) 
NETPAC Asian Cinema AwardWhispering Star (Sion Sono) 
Toronto Platform AwardHURT (Alan Zweig) 
    Honorable Mention: Neon Bull, The Promised Land, The Clan
Best Short Maman(s) (Maïmouna Doucouré)
     Honorable Mention: Rate Me (Fyzal Boulifa) 

Best Canadian Feature Closet Monster (Stephen Dunn)
    Honorable Mention: My Internship in Canada (Philippe Falardeau)
Best Canadian First Feature Film Sleeping Giant (Andrew Cividino)
Best Canadian Short Overpass (Patrice Laliberté)
    Honorable Mention: Bacon & God's Wrath (Sol Friedman)

The odd thing about the Canadian prizes is that Closet Monster, my favorite LGBT movie from the fest, which won the "Canada Goose" for Best Canadian Film is also a First Feature; there's another prize for that that it did not win! Of the other award winners, I only managed to catch Spotlight, Room, and the Toronto Platform Honorable Mention The Clan. It's a gut-wrenching true crime drama about a notorious family in Argentina who kidnapped members of other upper class families, some of whom they knew personally, for ransom money. I suspect it will be Argentina's Oscar submission but they don't announce until the end of the month.

Wednesday
Sep162015

TIFF: Journalists at War. "Truth" vs "Spotlight"

On the first day of TIFF last Thursday I saw four consecutive movies from different countries and of different tones entirely that all had a surprise pregnancy reveal scene/shot during their stories. Festivals are funny like that providing you with unexpected throughlines. But sometimes you fully expect the comparisons, if not a schedule that has you watching two similar movies back-to-back. That happened to me with James Vanderbilt's Truth and Thomas McCarthy's Spotlight. Both are journalism pictures with A list casts and both will be gunning for awards honors at year's end. Spotlight is better positioned already with stronger reviews but Truth definitely has its pleasures. While watching them Truth felt more popcorn entertaining but Spotlight is stickier, staying with you afterwards.

Truth vs. Spotlight in 8 categories after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Sep012015

BYOYNMS: The Danish Girl 

That's "Bring Your Own Yes No Maybe So," in case you're wondering. Acronyms for daaaays, henny! I'm seeing The Danish Girl very shortly at TIFF and I don't want to spoil my first experience since I haven't read the book (I know I know) and I'm hearing that this trailer gives away each story beat. 

But if you don't care about spoilers, or have read the book, please to watch and let us know where you fall on the Yes No Maybe So divide.

Or, rather, if the trailer moved your needle at all on this latest costume drama from frequent Oscar presence Tom Hooper (The King's Speech, Les Misérables). Gender identity is such a hot topic of late (I Am Cait is basically like having an Intro to Genders Studies course weekly on E! of all places, and Transparent's about to win an Emmy or three, don't you think?) that this film's timing is probably very good. IF, that is, the film lives up to its hype.

The movie will be opening just after Thanksgiving in the US.

Monday
Aug312015

Pt 2 Smackdown Xtra: On the Waterfront with a Broken Lance

Nathaniel (your host), BrianMarkAnne MarieManuel and Todd VanDerWerff continue their Smackdown conversation. Here's part two of our 80 minute conversation

THE SMACKDOWN IF YOU MISSED IT
Pt 1 PODCAST - The High & Mighty & Executive Suite

Pt 2 (40 minutes)
00:01 Recap of Part 1 and we continue our On the Waterfront conversation seguewaying to the movie's rawness and experimentation, Elia Kazan personal voice, the influence of New York theater, and the slow death of the studio system
10:00 Broken Lance, Latino actors in Hollywood, Social Message Movies, and a shout out to Natalie Wood (?)
27:30 Thelma Ritter and other Supporting Actresses of 1954
35:45 Sign Off and Thank Yous. Last words from Eva Marie Saint and Marlon Brando 

You can listen to the podcast here at the bottom of the post or download from iTunes Continue the conversation in the comments.

SUGGESTED READING: We reference two books in this conversation: Mark Harris's instant classic Pictures at a Revolution (which you've probably already read) and a brand new one: Brian Herrera's Latin Numbers: Playing Latino in Twentieth-Century U.S. Popular Performance. Pick those up. 

1954 Pt 2: On the Broken Lanced Waterfront

Saturday
Aug012015

First Poster: The Danish Girl

[UPDATE: We have been asked to remove the posters] 

I currently have the film predicted in all five top categories (Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actor, Actress) as well as three more craft categories. Is this putting too much faith in it, too little or just right? How bullish are you feeling about this one? It's certainly timely in the year of Caitlin's coming out party.

Can Eddie Redmayne can be the first actor to pull off consecutive wins since Tom Hanks 21 years ago? 

Wednesday
Jul152015

"Joy" is a Tease

The movies for adults are coming. The movies for adults are coming.

One of the greatest things about summer movie season is that about halfway through it, when you're totally sick of all the explosions and super powers and CGI and lack of great "characters" for actors to really sink their teeth into, invariably the actressy and Oscar-type trailers and posters begin to emerge as "this too shall pass" appetizers. This morning we get our first look at David O. Russell's Joy which reunites him for a third round with his Silver Linings Playbook stars Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Robert DeNiro. Yet again 24 year old Jennifer Lawrence is playing a role that might well be better suited for an actress ten years her senior  (she's playing the character from 20-40 I believe) but what can you do? Since Russell likes to work with the same actors repeatedly (one of our favorite traits in any director unless it starts hampering their creativity *cough* Tim Burton) he's also invited back Elisabeth Röhm (so good in her small part as Jeremy Renner's wife in American Hustle) and some recurring background players, too.

We're not doing a Yes No Maybe So since this is but a teaser (it's mostly music montage) but it looks promising and perhaps I've underestimated it Oscar-wise? The entire reason I resisted it is that I hate to go with the totally obvious a year in advance as most pundits do, because history does not actually support Oscar favorites staying Oscar favorites each and every year. There is far too much volatility within each Oscar season for that to happen (thank God AMPAS isn't the Emmys!). No filmmaker or star or craftsman dominates continually in their category unless their names are Meryl Streep and John Williams. 

Here it is. What'cha think?

Monday
Jul132015

"Ghost" and Other Blockbuster Best Pics

Today is the 25th anniversary of Ghost (1990), that wildly successful supernatural-comedy-romance-adventure-whatsit from 1990 which briefly iconized Demi Moore's single teardrop face, revived the popularity of a 1955 song hit, made pottery-wheel lovemaking into a meme (before memes were called that) proved that Patrick Swayze was more than just Dirty Dancing, made the world hate the grandson of legendary movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn, and won Whoopi Goldberg her Oscar, the first acting win for an African American woman since Hattie McDaniel in 1939 (it's since become far more common... at least in Supporting Actress).

Ghost is among the most atypical Best Picture nominees of all time, and one that would never have been nominated without its phenomenal grosses. It ended 1990 as the top global grosser with over half a billion in the bank, though Home AlonePretty Woman and Best Picture winner Dances With Wolves were not far behind). 

So here's a quick Oscar talking point about the last, oh, 40 years of Oscar history. Which of these Best Picture nominees, arguably none of which would have been nominated without their blockbuster phenom cred given their genres and non-prestige foundations, is your favorite?

Star Wars (1977)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Fatal Attraction (1987)
The Fugitive (1993)
The Sixth Sense (1999)
District 9 (2009)
The Blind Side (2009)

How do you think Ghost (1990) stacks up to that list? None of them actually won Hollywood's top prize in their year. 

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