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Entries in Boston (10)

Friday
Sep222017

Review: Jake Gyllenhaal gets "Stronger"

by Eric Blume

Have patience watching director David Gordon Green’s film Stronger, which captures real-life Boston native Jeff Bauman (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) as he’s caught in the 2013 Marathon bombing.  After a rickety start, Green relaxes into a nice rhythm and delivers an almost extinct creature: a true adult movie drama.

The first few scenes of Stronger come on a little, ahem, strong.  They’re written to show what a great guy Bauman is (he cuts out from work so he and his lucky beer can help the Red Sox win, he stands up for his gay boss), and Green has all the actors pushing too hard.  The initial scene where we meet Bauman’s family (including mom Miranda Richardson and girlfriend Tatiana Maslany) in a bar reeks of Boston cliché.  It’s a very tricky thing, honestly capturing that lower-middle-class Beantown language and attitude, and Green overplays his hand in this and several other early scenes.  The energy is overly commercial, and the movie gets off to an uneasy start.


But once the big sequence begins, where Bauman loses his legs in the terrible terrorist attack, Green begins observing smaller details, and starts scoring...

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Dec112016

Boston Loves "Manchester"

The Boston Film Critics Society formed in 1980 divvying up their first year of prizes largely between Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull and Jonathan Demme's undeappreciated Melvin & Howard. (Both auteurs would reign again with the BFCS via The Departed and Silence of the Lambs). While they don't often out on stylish limbs and aren't as invested in foreign films as they once did and were, when they return to either of those impulses it's often exciting. Our absolute favorite thing they occassional do is a weirdo but "why, yes, actually!" supporting performance pick like Toni Collette for The Hours, Juliette Lewis in Conviction or Ezra Miller in Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Here's what they chose as Best for 2016 along with several trivia notes...

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Dec062015

Boston Film Critics choose hometown heroes -- "Spotlight" for Best Picture

Every other year the BSFC chooses the future Oscar winner as their Best Picture. Look at the evidence: 2009 The Hurt Locker; 2010: The Social Network; 2011: The Artist; 2012: Zero Dark Thirty; 2014: 12 Years a Slave; 2015: Boyhood. Before that it's a little bumpier statistically since 2008 saw a tie between Slumdog Millionaire (the eventual Oscar winner and WALL•E, a much more deserving (and braver) choice. But it was only in 2006 with The Departed that they started lining up regularlyt. Before then Boston could often be counted on for more iconoclastic choices like Mulholland Drive, Out of Sight, Three Kings, Trainspotting, Bull Durham, Ran, etcetera. They've been handing out awards since 1980 when Raging Bull won their inaugural Best Picture award.

Here's what they chose this year...

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Dec072014

BSFC, LAFCA, and NYFCO: Their 2014 Winners

My apologies to Boston, Los Angeles and the online contingency of New York City for their shared billing but what can you do? When they all announce on the same weekend they share column space. The DC Film Critics also announced nominations today but in the interest of sanity, TFE only covers actual awards from critics groups, not their nomination rounds (which give performers and films no real juice publicity wise anyway); we have 30+ critics organizations in the US alone so any requested  coverage other than wins for the non-institutions feels ego-driven.

It was another good day for Birdman and Boyhood or "Boyman" as Sasha likes to call it. Particularly Boyhood which no films seem to be able to squirm around for top billing. Grand Budapest Hotel probably came close in L.A., Birdman looked like a distant second in Boston, but NYFCO seemed very committed. Is it now the Oscar frontrunner for Best Picture? It probably always was so yes. 

BOSTON SOCIETY OF FILM CRITICS (BSFC)
The BSFC was formed in 1981 and were once known for scrappy idiosyncratic choices. They were among the first awards group to rubber stamp Steven Soderbergh and David O. Russell (before their prime Oscar years). In the past ten years they've become far more conservative usually awarding their top prize to the Oscar frontrunner or its presumed challenger. Like NYC, Boston now has a second younger "online" group which already announced this year.

Film: Boyhood (runner up: Birdman)
Director: Richard Linklater, Boyhood (runner up: Clint Eastwood, American Sniper)
Actor: Michael Keaton, Birdman (runner up: Timothy Spall, Mr Turner)
Actress: Marion Cotillard, Two Days One Night AND The Immigrant (runner up: Hilary Swank, The Homesman)
Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash (runner up: Edward Norton, Birdman)
Supporting Actress: Emma Stone, Birdman (runner up: Laura Dern, Wild)
Screenplay [TIE]: Birdman & Boyhood (runner up: Mr Turner)
Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki, Birdman (runner up: Dick Pope, Mr Turner)
Editing: Sandra Adair, Boyhood (runner up: Joel Cox & Gary Roach, American Sniper)
Foreign Film: Two Days One Night (runner up: Ida)
Animated Film: The Tale of Princess Kaguya (runner up: The Lego Movie)
New Filmmaker: Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler (runner up: Gillian Robespierre, Obvious Child)
Documentary: Citizen Four (runner up: Jodorowsky's Dune)
Use of Music: Inherent Vice (runner up: Whiplash)

 

LOS ANGELES FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION (LAFCA)
Founded in 1975, the LAFCA is one of the twin (coastal) towers of film critics associations alongside NYFCC which announced their prizes on December 1st. Last year the LAFCA had a very hard tie figuring out their prizes and the day ended with ties in three headline categories: Best Picture, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor. These days they are perhaps best known for daring choices in Best Actress and Best Picture. 

Film Boyhood (runner up: The Grand Budapest Hotel)
Director Richard Linklater, Boyhood (runner up: Wes Anderson, Grand Budapest Hotel)
Actress Patricia Arquette, Boyhood (runner up: Julianne Moore, Still Alice)
Actor Tom Hardy, Locke (runner up: Michael Keaton, Birdman)
Supporting Actress: Agata Kulesza, Ida (runner up: Rene Russo, Nightcrawler)
Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash (runner up: Edward Norton, Birdman)

New Generation: Ava DuVernay, Selma
Screenplay: Grand Budapest Hotel (runner up: Birdman)
Animated Film: The Tale of Princess Kaguya (runner up: The LEGO Movie)
Foreign Film: Ida (runner up: Winter Sleep)
Documentary: Citizen Four (runner up: Life Itself)
Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubeszki, Birdman (runner up: Dick Pope, Mr Turner)
Editing: Sandra Adair, Boyhood (runner up: Barney Piling, Grand Budapest Hotel)
Score: TIE Jonny Green, Inherent Vice and Mica Levi, Under the Skin
Production Design: Adam Stockhausen, Grand Budapest Hotel (runner up: Ondrej Nekvasil Snowpiercer)
Experimental Film: Walter Reuben, The David Whiting Story
Career Achievement: Gena Rowlands

The LAFCA seem to have bought into their own myth about their iconoclastic Best Actress behavior. They weirdly switched categories for Patricia Arquette from supporting to lead despite backing J.K. Simmons as supporting from his far leadier work as half of a two-hander relationship drama between two men in a film with basically only two major characters.

Agata Kulesza is a worthy fascinating choice but she's really very obviously more of a lead than Patricia Arquette. But what can you do? I suppose you could make a better case for her in supporting than you could for Arquette as a lead but it's all rather baffling. 

 

NEW YORK FILM CRITICS ONLINE
Said to have been formed in 2000 the internet only has records dating back to 2003 for their prizes. They are not to be confused with the ancient and highly important NYFCC which already announced on December 1st and were Boyhood & Immigrant focused this year.

Picture: Boyhood
Director: Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Actress: Marion Cotillard, Two Days One Night
Actor: Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Ensemble Cast: Birdman
Screenplay: Birdman
Cinematography: Birdman
Use of Music: Get On Up
Debut Director: Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler
Breakthrough: Jack O'Connel for Unbroken AND Starred Up
Documentary: Life Itself
Animated Feature: The LEGO Movie 

Marion Cotillard is perhaps the other big story of the day having won NYFCC, BSFC, and NYFCO already. Her Oscar chances still seem debatable though for a number of reasons including two separate films and the lack of any real campaigning beyond a screener for Two Days One Night.

J.K. Simmons, Richard Linklater, and Citizen Four continues to be steamrollers in Supporting Actor, Director, and Documentary respectively. Meanwhile Birdman marches along as a strong contender for basically everything if not, yet, a dependable film to bank any actual golden statues on. More unfortunately (especially given my change of heart about the film) critics have optioned not to really back Grand Budapest Hotel beyond the category that Oscar would have awarded it any way, Best Screenplay, which is the only category in which Wes Anderson films ever find any traction, sadly, despite often being sheer wonders in terms of Production Design, Costuming and weirdly expressive stylized performances. 

Saturday
Dec062014

Boston Critics Regain Their Mojo: Pierce 'Snow' and 'Skin'

CORRECTION & APOLOGY: I had originally stated these were the winners for the Boston Society of Film Critics, a group with a long fascinating history. Unfortunately, as is all too common these days these prizes are from an upstart critics group from the same city, the Boston Online Film Critics Association*.

The young BOFCA (now in its third year) seem to have issued some sort of challenge to the far more famous BSFC. The BSFC has had a place of honor in critics circles in that, for many years of their history, they seemed less interested in the Oscar race than actually offering an opinion on the best of a given film year which is, we unfortunately need reminding, the entire purpose of critical year-end prizes. In recent years their choices have seemed as Oscar driven as 90% of the critics groups that exist today. So perhaps the younger organization will remind them of their roots in iconoclastic choices?

The new group has taken the entire year into account, and given December the shrug but for two prizes for the Belgian film Two Days One Night (adding another feather in Marion Cotillard's cap after her NYFCC win). 

PICTURE: Snowpiercer
DIRECTOR: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman
ACTRESS: Marion Cotillard, Two Days One Night
ACTOR: Brendan Gleeson, Calvary
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Tilda Swinton, Snowpiercer
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Edward Norton, Birdman
SCREENPLAY: John Michael McDonagh, Calvary
FOREIGN FILM: Two Days One Night

DOCUMENTARY: Life Itself
ANIMATED FILM: The LEGO Movie
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Birdman 
EDITING: James Herbert & Laura Jennings, Edge of Tomorrow
ORIGINAL SCORE: Mica Levi, Under the Skin

 THE BOSTON ONLINE FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION NAMES THEIR TEN BEST FILMS OF THE YEAR:

  1. SNOWPIERCER
  2. UNDER THE SKIN
  3. BOYHOOD
  4. ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE
  5. THE BABADOOK
  6. TWO DAYS ONE NIGHT
  7. BIRDMAN
  8. CALVARY
  9. INHERENT VICE
  10. SELMA

 * P.S. Again my apologies. I would not have given this organization and entire post to themselves had I realized they were a new group. The fact remains that no matter how interesting your choices, each city does not need multiple competing critics groups. And the proliferation of so many new groups, correctly or incorrectly, suggests that they are formed by people who cannot get into the pre-existing group. I don't know if this is the case in Boston but with the walls having all but vanished between Print and Online there seems little point in "Online" organizations these days as all former print sources are now online. 

 

Sunday
Dec082013

Boston Chooses 12 Years A Slave, Enough Said?

The Boston Society of Film Critics' (BSFC) very first Best Picture prize went to Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull (1980) and over the next 32 years they've mixed smart off the path choices with future Oscar darlings. In the past decade they seem to have mellowed and mainstreamed and unless you count a tie in 2008 (Wall•E shared the prize with Slumdog), it's been well over a decade since that grabby run when they thought outside the box consistently (1998-2001) when they were giving Best Film prizes to great movies like Out of Sight (2 below the line Oscar nods) Three Kings (0 Oscar attention) and Mullholland Dr (1 Oscar nod) which were obviously not going to play big with the Academy. (During that period they were also making interesting calls in non Oscar-baiting performances so something about the membership must have changed thereafter.

This year they've wrapped their Bostonian arms around native New Yorker Solomon Northrup in a big way giving 12 Years a Slave three top prizes. They were also kind to Nebraska and Enough Said which each won 2 prizes. Full list of winners with commentary after the jump

Click to read more ...