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Entries in foreign films (157)

Thursday
Nov212013

Animated Feature Contender: A Letter to Momo

Tim, our resident animation guy, sounds off on the eligible films vying for Animated Feature

Between now and the announcement of the Academy Award nominees on January 16, I’ll be taking a look at some of the films submitted for the Best Animated Feature award: specifically, the smaller, more easily-overlooked films from non-U.S. animation studios. For it strikes me that they are the more deeply in need of love and attention than the more visible mainstream American productions likely to dominate the race. Also, I don't imagine that anyone is desperate to have a conversation about Free Birds.

Our first subject is the oldest on the submission list: A Letter from Momo from Japan, which premiered at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival, only making its stateside bow this year.

[Does it deserve the comparisons to A Spirited Away? Find out after the jump]

Click to read more ...

Monday
Nov182013

"Critics Choice" Best Young Actor/Actress. Any FYCs?

Updated to add voting options!

Yesterday out of nowhere I suddenly felt a shiver go down my spine. I realized that if I didn't pull some advocacy action, my fellow Broadcast Film Critics might just give Chloe Grace Moretz TWO nominations for Best Young Actor/Actress for Kick-Ass 2 and Carrie and nobody needs that. Not even Chloe who doesn't strike us as the sort that needs the validation to go on. (Horror of horrors that's already occurred back in 2010 when she won a double nom) And then I pictured Quvenzhané Wallis getting nominated for her one line in 12 Years a Slave and remembered that frustrating nomination for Asa Butterfeld in Hugo (he could repeat this year for Ender's Game) and I knew I had to intervene with some advocacy or at least a helpful voting cheat sheet.

Thomas Horn & Quvenzhane Wallis, the last two winners of this category

See, sometimes the lazy voting in this category can be attributed to its low profile. If you're not actually researching / thinking about "which actors that aren't yet 21 did good work this year?" chances are when it comes time to vote you'll just be scribbling down whoever comes immediately to mind. That strategy favors the famous and the lucky (are they in a film you're thinking about for other categories?) and "Best" is not really even a part of the equation.

HELPFUL CHARTS AND READER BALLOT REQUESTS AFTER THE JUMP...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Nov152013

AFI Fest 2013 Part 2: Danny Kaye, War Movies and Nebraska

Anne Marie concludes her AFI adventures. Nathaniel picks up the baton tomorrow. He's running behind as per usual!

At the midway point of AFI Fest, I experienced what I’m sure many film festival-goers experience at some point: fatigue. The films were Great with a capital G, which meant that while many were truly great films they were also very heavy and in most cases very, very depressing. (Dear Academy, please nominate more comedies!) Nevertheless I persevered, and started Day Four with a little light comedy.

Get it? Got it! Good

Day 4 Part 1: The Court Jester - Sometimes you just need Danny Kaye singing tongue twisters in Technicolor to start your day. If I ever write a list of Greatest Swordfights In Film, Kaye’s comic fight with Basil Rathbone will definitely make the list. And for you Old Hollywood actressexuals, there are not one but TWO actresses: The always lovely Glynis Johns plays Kaye’s love interest, and the devilishly fantastic Angela Lansbury in villainess mode plays the selfish princess.

Day 4 Part 2: Omar - Let’s get this out of the way right now: Adam Bakri is a very, very handsome man. (He also favorited one of my tweets. Heeeeey Adam!) However, there’s more to life than being really, really ridiculously good-looking. This latest film by Hany Abu-Assad, Palestine's Oscar submission this year, doesn’t court as much controversy as Paradise Now did in 2005. Omar is a Romeo and Juliet love story, an espionage thriller, and a drama, all of which make the political message about Israel’s treatment of Palestinians more palatable. Omar would give any Hollywood thriller a run for its money, but the human story and the realities of life of the West Bank give the film raw power.

Day 5: Nebraska - This was my favorite film of the festival. Hollywood has a love affair with Middle America this year, but Alexander Payne’s new film stands out from the rest. Bruce Dern is best known for his big, showy performances (memorialized at AFI Fest by a typically exuberant introductory speech / clip show by Quentin Tarantino). However, as the reticent Woody Grant, Dern is subtle, sad, and sincere. Undoubtedly Dern will get a Best Actor nomination, but I’m also rooting for June Squibb as his foul-mouthed Catholic wife. Though the overall tone of the film is melancholy (aided by a simple score by Mark Orton and beautiful black and white cinematography by Phedon Papamichael), occasional moments tip towards comedy and almost into parody. Maybe I love it so much because it reminds me of my own family. I’m not sure. I do know that it was effective enough to make me momentarily forget my new home and get nostalgic for the Great Plains instead. That takes some serious filmmaking skill.

Day 6: Lone Survivor - I’m not sure how to comment on Lone Survivor as a film, because as an experience it was really difficult for me to watch. It was, however, an extremely effective war movie. Last year, Zero Dark Thirty gave us a celebration of the incredible skill and commitment the men and women in the American armed forces. This year, Lone Survivor builds a similar memorial to the Navy SEALS, but with a radically different outcome. [Titular Spoiler Ahead]  A brutal 33 minute-long gunfight between four SEALS and a Taliban army is the focal point of the film, and all but one SEAL (played by Mark Wahlburg) are killed [/Spoiler]. The goal is to put the viewer on the ground with the SEALS, and director Peter Berg succeeds. Lone Survivor is bloody, loud, and patriotic.

Day 7: Like in Genesis, this was my day of rest. I’d planned to see Her, but happily for Spike Jonze (though unhappily for me) the line for the film wound around the block and then some. As I walked to the train station, I vowed like Nathaniel at TIFF that I will do better next year. The little that I saw I loved, and next year I will know how to plan: more than just one schedule, pack protein bars and water, arrive two hours early for any Spike Jonze-affiliated movie, and find more time to write. All in all though, I had a wonderful time seeing some movies I’d looked forward to and some way outside my comfort zone. What a week! AFI Fest 2014 here I come!

Thursday
Nov142013

Snow Queens who have gone before us

It’s Tim, with a little bit of animation history for y’all. Not that you’d be able to tell from the details dribbled out so far (estranged sisters, talking snowmen, reindeer acting like dogs), but the impending Disney film Frozen began its development as a dramatic musical adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen”, a story first published in 1845. By this point, Frozen has drifted far enough from Andersen’s fairy tale that it’s probably more of an honorary adaptation than anything else, but that’s not all that unusual for Disney animated features. In the meanwhile, anyone looking to get their fix with a more authentic, faithful version of the story can look to a lengthy tradition of Snow Queen animated films, stretching back more than half a century.

From Russia to London with Sigourney-Love after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Nov112013

Oscar Contenders Stack the Decks at Asia Pacific Screen Awards

Glenn here. Rarely discussed by Oscar commentators for reasons unknown to me are the Asia Pacific Screen Awards. Held annually on the Gold Coast in Australia, these awards recognise, well, cinema from Asian and Pacific regions. This year's batch of contenders are from a typically diverse group of nations with several high profile Oscar contenders in the mix. Amongst this year's roster of nominees are the foreign language submissions from Palestine (Omar), Iran (The Past), Saudi Arabia (Wadjda), China (Back in 1942), Hong Kong (The Grandmaster), Singapore (Ilo Ilo), New Zealand (White Lies), South Korea (Juvenile Offender) and Kazakhstan (The Old Man) as well as films amongst the long lists for animation (The Wind Rises) and documentary (The Art of Killing). Just imagine if Japan had chosen Like Father Like Son and India had chosen The Lunchbox!

Some history and this year's nominees after the jump.

Click to read more ...

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