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"LOVED this move. If the Academy could be convinced to see this, I could absolutely see it sneaking into BP." -Eurocheese

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Entries in Oscars (12) (290)

Thursday
Oct042012

Oscar.... 'he goes a little mad sometimes'

Let's talk Hitchcock and Oscar. I'm in the process of updating every Oscar chart -- tis the season! -- and I think I'm just going to give Hitchcock the benefit of the doubt. No one has seen it but if they're rushing to complete it having moved it from 2013 to now, Fox Searchlight must feel they really have something (best case scenario) or that the competition or their other films are weak (worst case scenario). New photos just emerged from People Magazine of which these of Alfred Hitchcock (Sir Anthony Hopkins) and Janet Leigh (Scarlett Johansson) are excerpted below.

The "Scoop" page ripped from People makes the movie look a little cheapzy (that's cheap + cheesy) but that could just be People's formatting influence for broad appeal. I'm giving the film the benefit of the doubt and expecting an Oscar hit. You?

BEST PICTURE & BEST DIRECTOR
Fully updated charts with shakeups and some new text. Gains for Hitchcock and Life of Pi as The Master and Lincoln are in danger of fading and Hyde Park on Hudson disappears altogether.

Where do you think my "order" is spot on and which films would you flip? Do you think the Directing Oscar is Ben Affleck's to lose even if Argo doesn't win Best Picture?

 

Tuesday
Oct022012

Golden Horse Nominees Include Two Oscar Contenders

Subtitled fare always seems to consume me in September and early October as the Foreign Language Submission List for Oscar takes shape (it's not quite official yet but the submission deadline has passed). This is also the time of year when The Golden Horse, the preeminent Chinese/Taiwanese film awards, announce their nominations. Rather than a huge Academy vote, the Golden Horse is determined by a jury. Andy Lau who starred in Hong Kong’s Oscar submission A Simple Life last year and is best known internationally for two hits from the Aughts (The House of Flying Daggers and Infernal Affairs which was later remade into The Departed) is the president of this year’s jury. 

Caught in the Web, China's Oscar submission, was apparently not eligible.

BEST PICTURE NOMINEES

  • Beijing Blues -a police procedural 
  • Mystery - is the leader with 8 nominations. It's a thriller from Lou Ye, who is most known for erotic dramas like Summer Palace and Cannes hit Spring Fever.
  • Life Without Principle - This Johnnie To film about a loan shark is Hong Kong's Oscar submission this year.
  • Gf*Bf -a decade long love triangle between three intimate friends with some gay elements. I included the trailer below
  • The Bullet Vanishes  -a period piece and whodunnit

Flying Swords of Dragon’s Gate, which recently played in the states, won some technical nominations but none of the headline categories. 

Best Actor
Nick Cheung – Nightfall
Ching Wan Lau – Life Without Principle
Joseph Chang  - Gf*Bf
Chapman To –Vulgaria
Nicholas Tse –The Viral Factor 

Taiwan's Oscar submission "Touch of the Light" was only nominated for Best Actress

Best Actress
Baihe Bai –Love is Not Blind
Lei Hao - Mystery
Denise Ho –Life Without Principle
Lun-Mei Gwei – Gf*Bf
Sandrine Pinna –Touch of the Light

You can see the rest of the nominees at the official Golden Horse Awards site.

Monday
Oct012012

Seth MacFarlane! Really?

 I can't say I saw this one coming. Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane has been named host of February's Oscars. Honestly I wouldn't even have guessed that if you'd let me guess 100 names.

Rule #1 of Oscar Host selection in the past has always been that the host was an instantly recognizable celebrity and household name, the kind of celebrity that even your grandparents would be familiar with: Whoopi, Steve Martin, Letterman, etcetera. It's never a behind the scenes creative, however famous his name or voice might be.

While MacFarlane is considerably less famous than past hosts that doesn't mean he won't do a fine job... his musical referencing will be a natural fit on Oscar night though the non-sequitor nature of his jokes (at least on Family Guy) might be a stranger fit. Are we in for another "Uma. Oprah"?

MacFarlane's selection is yet another example of the Academy's increasingly schizo "who are we?" identity crisis over the last handful of years. They can't stop themselves.

Are you a MacFarlane fan or were you hoping for someone with more star wattage? Who do you think they also considered before this left turn?

Monday
Oct012012

NYFF: "Bwakaw" is a Film Festival's Best Friend

Seventy year-old Rene (Eddie Garcia) is an elderly gay man who fits quite neatly into the crowded movie trope of "Grumpy Old Man." He doesn't have a lawn but he'd clearly want his neighbors to get off of it if he did. He doesn't seem to love anyone or anything other than his dog Bwakaw.

Eddie Garcia and Princess star in "Bwakaw", an Oscar contender from The Philippines

They say that a dog is a man's best friend but I don't think that it's usually meant quite so literally.  Rene is so grumpy that you aren't always sure he loves his faithful canine shadow. In one stinging heartbreakmidway through the film a veterinarian asks him "don't you ever touch your dog?" and it occurs to you that you've rarely seen him do so.

But Bwakaw isn't a demanding girl. She follows Rene everywhere he goes… except inside his house. She's been banned for making a mess the last time she was there and one imagines that was long ago; Rene doesn't let things go easily. He still sleeps, for example, in his boyhood home and he's still quite attached to all of his mother's things including her devout Catholicism though he isn't religious himself (This dichotomy informs several of the film's sharpest comic beats but that's a topic for a much longer piece.) So each night Bwakaw curls up sadly in the dirt at the bottom of the stairs leading to the sad man's bedroom and waits until morning to see her master again.

It's important to note here that Bwakaw the dog is a sandy girl. She'd be barely perceptible from Bwakaw the movie, with its terminally washed out light, colorless rooms, and graying characters, were it not for her happy trot and zest for life. Her name translates to "Voracious" though she's curiously slim and bony for a dog that likes to eat. 

Initially it's not at all clear why this film, a true gem from director Jun Lana and an absolutely worthy Oscar submission, is titled as it is. Bwakaw is not so much an active participant as a shadow, or a sidekick if you're feeling generous. For a good hour the film is little more than a perceptive character study -- not that those aren't welcome -- of a lonely gay man who's angry that he missed out on a full life.  In many ways Rene is a shadow in his own movie. Most of the colorful subplots, broad comedic bits, and vibrant personalities belong to other members of the cast.  Rene's "friends" (I use the term loosely given that he's consistently at odds with most of them) are two flamboyant gay men, a co-worker planning a trip to Canada, a rough taxi driver, a local priest who hears his confessions, and a woman losing her memory in a nearby old folk's home.

But when Bwakaw becomes ill Rene is finally shaken out of his ornery complacency and gradually begins to feel his life again instead of just planning for his death. The film beautifully and fluidly shifts to compliment his journey, letting more light and color and vibrancy into the images.


Many "feel good" inspirational movies boost the spirit synthetically by glossing over life's darkest moments or wishing them away with tunnel vision on the triumphant stuff. Rene's story, however harsh and lonely in its particulars, contains far richer inspiration at its core. Rene is so focused on mortality that he keeps forgetting to live but there's no point in climbing in the coffin before your time. Embrace whatever tiny happiness comes your way. Live. B+/A-

Related Pages
2012 Foreign Film Oscar Submissions Pt. 1: Albania to Italy
2012 Foreign Film Oscar Submissions Pt. 2: Japan to Vietnam
Foreign Film Finalist Prediction List just a little guesswork 

More NYFF
Lincoln's Noisy "Secret" Debut
The Paperboy & the Power of Nicole Kidman's Crotch 
Frances Ha, Dazzling Brooklyn Snapshot
Barbara Cold War Slow Burn
Our Children's Death March 
Hyde Park on Hudson Historical Fluff 

Monday
Oct012012

Monty, The Reluctant Pundit, Meets "Bernie"

Everyone knows that cats are psychic. Their mysterious moods including strange swerves from autonomy to neediness, and sudden flights of whimsy and imagination at war with narcolepsy suggest as much! Each year as longtime readers know I consult my beloved Monty on the Oscars. Last year he pretended not to care about Bridesmaids, a cryptic response that did little to help us determine the film's Oscar future (it ended the season with two Oscar nominations for Supporting Actress and Screenplay) but in 2010 he was absolutely prescient when it came to Fox Searchlight's 2010 collection: Yes to 127 Hours, Hell No on Conviction and zzzz to Never Let Me Go.

So I couldn't resist presenting him with the season's first tea leaves if you will. The For Your Consideration DVD of Richard Linklater's Bernie arrived on Saturday and straight to my fuzzy boy it went.

Oh no, NOT THIS AGAIN, DADDY.

At first he refused to look. I rearranged the film's FYC postcard and DVD to see if he would deign to comment.

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Sunday
Sep302012

Review: "Looper"

An abridged version of this review was originally posted in my column at Towleroad 

"Time travel hasn't been invented yet," Joseph Gordon-Levitt warns us from 2042 in LOOPER's voiceover. "But in the future it will be." In 2072 crime lords send their victims back in time to be killed by "loopers"  like Joe since it's the only way to get away with murder. (Apparently infallible forensic science has also been invented in the future!). 

Loopers dispatch their prey unceremoniously with a crude descendant of the shotgun called a  "Blunderbuss" which is useless at long distances but impossible to miss with up close. When each Looper's contract expires, his older self is sent back to his younger self for execution which is called "Closing the Loop". In this case that's Bruce Willis sent back in time to meet his death at the hands of Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Bruce Willis drag. (Joe's makeup effects, though extraordinarily non fake-looking are initially distracting -- JGL doesn't look like that!

Nothing kills genre films quicker than exposition. When you have to pass out glossaries to the uninitiated or explain the rules over and over again, a story can sputter and die or, at the very least, bore you stupid the second time throughLooper, however, is a wonderfully nimble exception given the size of the learning curve. More...

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