Thursday, December 31, 2015

FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION: 15 OF 2015'S BEST FILMS, PERFORMANCES AND TECHNICAL ACHIEVEMENTS


Dear Academy voters,

I know there are a lot of movies that get made each year and it is tough trying to see all of them. I also know that certain types of films and genres like Comedies, Horror, Sci-Fi, Foreign-Language, Animated and Documentaries are not normally the Academy's thing when it comes to Best Picture and a lot of the other big categories. I'm sure you are busy and limited on time and won't be able to watch all of the three-hundred plus films that are eligible this year. Like everyone else on planet Earth you've probably already seen The Force Awakens and Fury Road and The Martian, and every critic has already told you about Spotlight and Carol, so please take some time over the next few days to consider these other films, performances, and technical work that are also among this year's finest achievements.

Thanks,
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(Alphabetical order, taken from The Academy's reminder list)

Beasts of No Nation
Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Abraham Attah), Best Supporting Actor (Idris Elba), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Score

Hollywood has made a lot of films about war over the years but few are so heartbreaking and poetic that they can stand along side such classics of the genre as Apocalypse Now and The Thin Red Line. Beasts of No Nation is one such film, a film both beautiful and horrific. Over the course of the film we follow young Abraham Attah's journey from innocent boy to brutal warrior to war veteran. Along the way we meet the cruel and authoritative Commandant (Idris Elba), both creator of soldiers and destroyer of souls. Written, filmed and directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, Beasts is a remarkable accomplishment.


Best of Enemies
Best Picture, Best Documentary Feature

Best of Enemies shines a light on a tumultuous era in American media and politics and gives us a rip-roaring account of how the William F. Buckley/Gore Vidal televised debates of 1968 helped give us our modern political culture.


Brooklyn
Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress (Saoirse Ronan), Best Supporting Actor (Emory Cohen), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, Best Original Score, Best Costume Design

The old-fashioned Romance is a dying if not dead genre. Then comes Brooklyn, a lovely, lush and beautiful tale of a young Irish woman's (Saoirse Ronan) voyage to the United States and the charming young man (Emory Cohen) she falls in love with. Ronan has been racking up well deserved awards and nominations, but I can't emphasize enough just how great Cohen is in Brooklyn, a performance reminiscent of a young, romantic Marlon Brando.


Cartel Land
Best Picture, Best Documentary Feature

Cartel Land gives us a harrowing boots-on-the-ground look at the war on drugs taking place on America's southern border and deep within Mexico that is tearing the country apart. I'm sure filming The Revenant was tough but I can guarantee you that filming Cartel Land was tougher.


Clouds of Sils Maria
Best Actress (Juliette Binoche)

For some reason Kristen Stewart has been winning a slew of awards for her frankly straightforward performance in Clouds of Sils Maria. The real star of the show is Juliette Binoche, who does all the heavy lifting in one of the strongest performances by any performer in 2015.


Dope
Best Actor (Shameik Moore), Best Screenplay

Dope cost around $700,000 to make and made over $17,000,000 at the box office! It gives us a look at a vibrant American subculture (Black nerds! Yes, they exist!) that is basically ignored and unknown in our popular culture and features a breakout performance by Shameik Moore. We don't need more $200 million dollar superhero movies, we need more films like this. Please and thanks.


The End of the Tour
Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Jesse Eisenberg), Best Supporting Actor (Jason Segel), Best Adapted Screenplay

We've become really A.D.D. as a film-going public, wanting car chases and explosions and edits every half a second to keep us interested. This makes a film made up mostly of two guys just sitting around talking feel like, in the words of Paula Abdul, "a breath of fresh air". Eisenberg and Segel are like two tennis champions at the top of their game effortlessly lobbing their dialogue back and forth in such a naturalistic way that you feel like you are watching a documentary.


Ex Machina
Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Oscar Isaac), Best Supporting Actress (Alicia Vikander), Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, Best Original Score, Best Visual Effects, Best Costume, Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Cinema combines elements of literature, architecture, fashion, poetry, philosophy, mythology, music, theater and photography into one supreme art form. Films are both art and entertainment. Above all other films this year Ex Machina is both fantastic art and fantastically entertaining. The film centers on the always solid Domhnall Gleeson, but it is the stellar Oscar Isaac and Alicia Vikander that really shine, giving us two of the most memorable characters of 2015.


Inside Out
Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress (Phyllis Smith), Best Original Screenplay

Animated films have the unfortunate reputation of being mostly for children, when in reality some of the most creative and insightful films to come out each year are Animated films. One of the most unique and profound films of 2015 was Pete Doctor's wonderful Inside Out. Voice actors don't usually get the praise they deserve as well, but there is no doubt that Phyllis Smith's turn as Sadness was one of the most affecting portrayals by any performer in 2015.


It Follows
Best Original Score

There are few genres that rely on a great musical score as much as horror films, and in 2015 perhaps the most memorable score of the year came from the indie horror flick It Follows. Written and performed by electronic musican Disasterpeace, the score perfectly evokes the eerie vibe of peak-era John Carpenter.


Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter
Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress (Rinko Kikuchi), Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design

It came out a long, long time ago but if you missed it the first time around check out this quirky little indie that is a perfect companion piece to the Coen Brothers Fargo. Based on an urban legend, the film feels like a spiritual sequel to the Coens' masterpiece. Beautifully staged and shot, it features a melancholy yet determined performance by Rinko Kikuchi.


Love & Mercy
Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (John Cusack), Best Supporting Actor (Paul Dano), Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, Best Sound Mixing, Best Costume Design

With such a plethora of Biopics, especially musician Biopics, on the market over the last few years it is hard to believe Love & Mercy could feel so alive and vibrant. Telling the story of the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson at two distinct periods of his life, writer and director Bill Pohlad masterfully gives us a look at an artist at the peak of his success and the bottom of deepest valley mentally and emotionally. Paul Dano is superb as 1960's hitmaking Wilson, struggling to keep up creatively with The Beatles and record his masterpiece, while John Cusack gives an innocent and fragile interpretation of 1980's Wilson struggling to keep it together mentally while being manipulated by his controlling therapist turned manager.


Son of Saul
Best Picture, Best Foreign-Language Film, Best Director, Best Actor (Géza Röhrig), Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing

One of the defining events of the 20th century was the Holocaust that took the lives of millions of European Jews during World War Two, an event that we've seen play out dozens and dozens of times on film since. Son of Saul takes those events and makes the horror real, giving us one of the most traumatic and exhausting cinema experiences of all-time. Shot and edited in long takes with incredibly tight focus on the main character Saul (magnificently and tragically portrayed by Géza Röhrig), much of the shocking brutality of the Auschwitz crematoriums plays out just out of focus but not out of earshot, creating a nightmarish sensory experience unlike anything you've ever seen or heard. Son of Saul is the best film of 2015 and is one of the greatest directorial debuts in cinema history.


Spy
Best Supporting Actor (Jason Statham), Best Supporting Actress (Rose Byrne), Best Screenplay

Paul Feig has helmed some of the funniest films of the past decade, giving us Bridesmaids and The Heat and now this year's Spy. Rose Byrne is devious and demeaning as crime boss Rayna Boyanov, while Jason Statham proves he's quite adept at comedy as well being one of today's biggest action heroes, playing an overconfident yet bumbling super-spy. In a film full of incredibly funny people, Statham and Byrne steal every scene they're in.


Youth
Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Michael Caine), Best Supporting Actor (Paul Dano, Harvey Keitel), Best Supporting Actress (Rachael Weisz, Jane Fonda), Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, Best Original Song, Best Costume Design

Youth is the rare modern film built around an actor in their eighties, and it proves why this should be the norm not the exception. Michael Caine is wonderful as a retired composer spending time at a posh resort in the Swiss Alps. The film features one of the best ensembles of the year, as Harvey Keitel, Rachael Weisz, Paul Dano, and Jane Fonda all give heavy-weight performances in supporting roles. One of the prettiest pictures of the year, the sumptuous sets and natural scenery are gorgeously presented, and you'll be checking airfares to Switzerland as soon as you finish the film.


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P.S. Here's a half-dozen films that aren't on your reminder list of eligible films but you should watch them also because they're amazing!

Batkid Begins


Slow West


Tig


What Happened, Miss Simone?


What We Do In the Shadows


Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom


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Let me know what you think in the comments below or contact me on Twitter at @FiveStarFlicks or @5StarFlicks

Monday, December 28, 2015

BEST PICTURE READERS' POLL PREDICTIONS - AS OF 12/28/15


Movie critics and the general public often disagree when rating and ranking films. There is a portion of the general public (myself included) that obsesses over films, spend hours on end reading blogs, listening to podcasts, and talking about movies on social media. This group is also active on message boards and participate in readers' polls. Two prominent websites that film buffs go to regularly for articles and predictions related to awards season are Sasha Stone's AwardsDaily.com and Tom O'Neil's GoldDerby.com. To get an idea of what their savvy readers think will happen in the best picture race this year I combined their most recent readers' polls to see how they compare to the Oscar Pundits list I've been posting regularly HERE.

Here are the combined readers' poll results:


Here are links to each site where the results were taken from:



Readers of both Awards Daily and Gold Derby agree with the experts that Spotlight is the favorite to win best picture this year. They also rank The Revenant, The Martian, Carol and Room as the safest bets for a nomination. After that the differences appear. The readers feel Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn and Joy are next in line for a nomination, while the experts agree on Brooklyn but think Mad Max: Fury Road and The Big Short are safer bets. I tend to agree with the experts on this. Bridge of Spies and Joy went into the season with high expectations but they've failed to live up to the hype while Fury Road and The Big Short have nabbed nomination after nomination. The readers also feel Steve Jobs is still a top ten contender, while the pundits have lowered their expectations for Danny Boyle's biopic.

Here's a reminder of how the pundits have the race ranked right now:


Members of the Academy start their nomination voting in a few days, and there are still a lot of major industry awards that have yet to be announced, so this race is far from over. Once the new year starts we'll get nominations from the editors, producers and writers guilds, plus BAFTA, and then we'll really know where things stand in this Oscar race.
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Let me know what you think in the comments below or contact me on Twitter at @FiveStarFlicks or @5StarFlicks

Sunday, December 27, 2015

R.I.P. HASKELL WEXLER

Two-time Academy Award winning cinematographer Haskell Wexler has passed away. A master craftsman whose work inspired generations of filmmakers, Wexler worked as Director of Photography on an incredible number of classic films, including Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, In the Heat of the Night, The Thomas Crown Affair, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Bound For Glory, Coming Home, Colors and 61*. In 1969 he also directed the film Medium Cool starring Robert Forster. Wexler was 93 years old.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

STATE OF THE RACE - BEST PICTURE - AS OF 12/23/15


The first phase of awards season is officially over and everyone in the film world has put a hold on giving out awards for the holiday season and decided to go to the multiplex and watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens a bunch of times instead. After a conversation with awards season expert Sasha Stone, the founder and editor of the terrific film resource AwardsDaily.com, I've revamped the sources I use for my awards prognostication grid. My goal all along has been to gather respected opinions from a variety of sources in order to help gauge where the best picture race is heading. I could've included a host of other experts but my main priority was getting as wide a perspective as possible. Because SashaAnne Thompson of Indiewire, Scott Feinberg of The Hollywood Reporter, and others are already included in the conglomerate rankings at Gold Derby or the Gurus O' Gold I have excluded their individual rankings here to avoid repetition.

That being said here's the new grid including the most updated lists from GOLD DERBYGURUS O' GOLDVARIETYAWARDS WATCH and AWARDS CIRCUIT.


Even though I am using new lists the same film remains the clear favorite: Spotlight. Through this first phase of awards season Tom McCarthy's film about the Catholic Church scandal in Boston has remained the only film to be consistently praised across the board from critics and industry groups. Heading into the holiday break The Revenant, The Martian, Room, Mad Max: Fury Road and Carol all remain within striking distance of the top prize but they don't quite have the universal support of Spotlight. The rest of the field remains in flux.

The second tier of contenders is led by The Big Short which is outperforming all early expectations by scoring key nominations from the Screen Actors Guild, the Golden Globes, the Critics' Choice awards, and the American Film Institute. Bridge of Spies and Brooklyn were once considered sure things but they now seem vulnerable. Inside Out and Straight Outta Compton are by no means threats to actually win but it would not be surprising at all to see them nab one of the final nomination slots. The next foursome of The Hateful Eight, Steve Jobs, Trumbo and The Danish Girl are listed on the bubble by nearly everyone but they fail to crack anyone's top ten.


Here's where the real fun starts. The last big question of this awards season was just how well Star Wars: The Force Awakens would play with audiences and critics. This last weekend we got our answer as it broke every major domestic and worldwide box office record, scored an A CinemaScore from opening weekend audiences, and amassed an incredible 95% score from film critics on Rotten Tomatoes. The American Film Institute pushed back their year end vote in order to see it and they rewarded it by naming it one of the year's ten best.

In a questionable and some would say pandering move the Broadcast Film Critics Society also retroactively went back and added The Force Awakens as an 11th best picture nominee for their Critics' choice awards, angering many of their members. The organization claimed that many of their critics asked for a re-vote and that enough agreed that it should be added to the list, but some of the more outspoken opponents of the move pointed out that it was simply a P.R. stunt done in order to draw a larger television audience to their awards ceremony.


Three other films remain in the conversation though they are at this point on the outside looking in: Beasts of No Nation, Joy and Creed. All three have at moments in this race seemed like real threats to break out but for various reasons they have yet to gain much ground. The next round of awards, especially the guild awards, will be key if any one of them wants to be considered a real player in this year's race. Lastly to round out the list to twenty-five I included Sicario, Anomalisa, Son of Saul, Ex Machina, Trainwreck and Tangerine, all which have garnered praise from at least one of the major awards or have been mentioned on a significant number of critics year end top ten lists.

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Let me know what you think in the comments below or contact me on Twitter at @FiveStarFlicks or @5StarFlicks

Monday, December 21, 2015

'EX MACHINA', 'THE FORCE AWAKENS' AMONG 10 FILMS ON OSCAR'S VISUAL EFFECTS SHORTLIST

Here are the ten films that will vie for the five Best Visual Effects slots at this year's Academy Awards:

Ant-Man
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Ex Machina
Jurassic World
Mad Max: Fury Road”
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Tomorrowland
The Walk

Friday, December 18, 2015

'SON OF SAUL', 'MUSTANG' AMONG NINE FILMS ON OSCAR'S FOREIGN LANGUAGE SHORTLIST

Hungary's Son of Saul is the best film of 2015. Today it got one step closer to winning the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film by being named one of the nine films on Oscar's shortlist. Saul's primary competition will likely be France's Mustang which also has received significant critical acclaim this year. Here's the complete announcement by the Academy:

Nine features will advance to the next round of voting in the Foreign Language Film category for the 88th Academy Awards®.  Eighty films had originally been considered in the category.

The films, listed in alphabetical order by country, are:

Belgium, "The Brand New Testament," Jaco Van Dormael, director;

Colombia, "Embrace of the Serpent," Ciro Guerra, director;

Denmark, "A War," Tobias Lindholm, director;

Finland, "The Fencer," Klaus Härö, director;

France, "Mustang," Deniz Gamze Ergüven, director;

Germany, "Labyrinth of Lies," Giulio Ricciarelli, director;

Hungary, "Son of Saul," László Nemes, director;

Ireland, "Viva," Paddy Breathnach, director;

Jordan, "Theeb," Naji Abu Nowar, director.

Foreign Language Film nominations for 2015 are being determined in two phases.

The Phase I committee, consisting of several hundred Los Angeles-based Academy members, screened the original submissions in the category between mid-October and December 14.  The group’s top six choices, augmented by three additional selections voted by the Academy’s Foreign Language Film Award Executive Committee, constitute the shortlist.

The shortlist will be winnowed down to the category’s five nominees by specially invited committees in New York, Los Angeles and London.  They will spend Friday, January 8, through Sunday, January 10, viewing three films each day and then casting their ballots.

The 88th Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Thursday, January 14, 2016, at 5:30 a.m. PT at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.

Monday, December 14, 2015

305 FILMS ELIGIBLE FOR THE 88TH ACADEMY AWARDS


Here's a link to the list of all 305 films eligible for Oscars this year:

REDBOX CELEBRATES 13 YEARS IN BUSINESS WITH $0.13 RENTALS

BROADCAST FILM CRITICS' CHOICE AWARDS NOMINATIONS ANNOUNCED

HERE ARE THE NOMINATIONS FOR THE 21st ANNUAL CRITICS’ CHOICE AWARDS:

BEST PICTURE
The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Brooklyn
Carol
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Room
Sicario
Spotlight

BEST ACTOR
Bryan Cranston – Trumbo
Matt Damon – The Martian
Johnny Depp – Black Mass
Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant
Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne – The Danish Girl

BEST ACTRESS
Cate Blanchett – Carol
Brie Larson – Room
Jennifer Lawrence – Joy
Charlotte Rampling – 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan – Brooklyn
Charlize Theron – Mad Max: Fury Road

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Paul Dano – Love & Mercy
Tom Hardy – The Revenant
Mark Ruffalo – Spotlight
Mark Rylance – Bridge of Spies
Michael Shannon – 99 Homes
Sylvester Stallone – Creed

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Jennifer Jason Leigh – The Hateful Eight
Rooney Mara – Carol
Rachel McAdams – Spotlight
Helen Mirren – Trumbo
Alicia Vikander – The Danish Girl
Kate Winslet – Steve Jobs

BEST YOUNG ACTOR/ACTRESS
Abraham Attah – Beasts of No Nation
RJ Cyler – Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Shameik Moore – Dope
Milo Parker – Mr. Holmes
Jacob Tremblay – Room

BEST ACTING ENSEMBLE
The Big Short
The Hateful Eight
Spotlight
Straight Outta Compton
Trumbo

BEST DIRECTOR
Todd Haynes – Carol
Alejandro González Iñárritu – The Revenant
Tom McCarthy – Spotlight
George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road
Ridley Scott – The Martian
Steven Spielberg – Bridge of Spies

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Matt Charman and Ethan Coen & Joel Coen – Bridge of Spies
Alex Garland – Ex Machina
Quentin Tarantino – The Hateful Eight
Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley – Inside Out
Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy – Spotlight

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Charles Randolph and Adam McKay – The Big Short
Nick Hornby – Brooklyn
Drew Goddard – The Martian
Emma Donoghue – Room
Aaron Sorkin – Steve Jobs

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Carol – Ed Lachman
The Hateful Eight – Robert Richardson
Mad Max: Fury Road – John Seale
The Martian – Dariusz Wolski
The Revenant – Emmanuel Lubezki
Sicario – Roger Deakins

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Bridge of Spies – Adam Stockhausen, Rena DeAngelo
Brooklyn – François Séguin, Jennifer Oman and Louise Tremblay
Carol – Judy Becker, Heather Loeffler
The Danish Girl – Eve Stewart, Michael Standish
Mad Max: Fury Road – Colin Gibson
The Martian – Arthur Max, Celia Bobak

BEST EDITING
The Big Short – Hank Corwin
Mad Max: Fury Road – Margaret Sixel
The Martian – Pietro Scalia
The Revenant – Stephen Mirrione
Spotlight – Tom McArdle

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Brooklyn – Odile Dicks-Mireaux
Carol – Sandy Powell
Cinderella – Sandy Powell
The Danish Girl – Paco Delgado
Mad Max: Fury Road – Jenny Beavan

BEST HAIR & MAKEUP
Black Mass
Carol
The Danish Girl
The Hateful Eight
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Ex Machina
Jurassic World
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
The Walk

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Anomalisa
The Good Dinosaur
Inside Out
The Peanuts Movie
Shaun the Sheep Movie

BEST ACTION MOVIE
Furious 7
Jurassic World
Mad Max: Fury Road
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
Sicario

BEST ACTOR IN AN ACTION MOVIE
Daniel Craig – Spectre
Tom Cruise – Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
Tom Hardy – Mad Max: Fury Road
Chris Pratt – Jurassic World
Paul Rudd – Ant-Man

BEST ACTRESS IN AN ACTION MOVIE
Emily Blunt – Sicario
Rebecca Ferguson – Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
Bryce Dallas Howard – Jurassic World
Jennifer Lawrence – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
Charlize Theron – Mad Max: Fury Road

BEST COMEDY
The Big Short
Inside Out
Joy
Sisters
Spy
Trainwreck

BEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY
Christian Bale – The Big Short
Steve Carell – The Big Short
Robert De Niro – The Intern
Bill Hader – Trainwreck
Jason Statham – Spy

BEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY
Tina Fey – Sisters
Jennifer Lawrence – Joy
Melissa McCarthy – Spy
Amy Schumer – Trainwreck
Lily Tomlin – Grandma

BEST SCI-FI/HORROR MOVIE
Ex Machina
It Follows
Jurassic World
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
The Assassin
Goodnight Mommy
Mustang
The Second Mother
Son of Saul

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Amy
Cartel Land
Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief
He Named Me Malala
The Look of Silence
Where to Invade Next

BEST SONG
Fifty Shades of Grey – Love Me Like You Do
Furious 7 – See You Again
The Hunting Ground – Til It Happens To You
Love & Mercy – One Kind of Love
Spectre – Writing’s on the Wall
Youth – Simple Song #3

BEST SCORE
Carol – Carter Burwell
The Hateful Eight – Ennio Morricone
The Revenant – Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto
Sicario – Johann Johannsson
Spotlight – Howard Shore

Sunday, December 13, 2015

'MAD MAX: FURY ROAD' WINS BIG WITH ONLINE FILM CRITICS SOCIETY

The 2015 OFCS AWARD WINNERS:

Best Picture:
Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Animated Feature:
Inside Out

Best Film Not in the English Language:
The Assassin (Taiwan)

Best Documentary:
The Look of Silence

Best Director:
George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)

Best Actor:
Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs)

Best Actress:
Cate Blanchett (Carol)

Best Supporting Actor:
Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina)

Best Supporting Actress:
Rooney Mara (Carol)

Best Original Screenplay:
Spotlight (Josh Singer, Tom McCarthy)

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Carol (Phyllis Nagy)

Best Editing:
Mad Max: Fury Road (Margaret Sixel)

Best Cinematography:
Mad Max: Fury Road (John Seale)

Non-U.S. Releases (Alphabetical Order):
Aferim!
Cemetery of Splendor
The Club
Dheepan
The Lobster
Mountains May Depart
Mia Madre
Rams
Right Now, Wrong Then
The Sunset Song

STATE OF THE RACE - BEST PICTURE - AS OF 12/13/15


First there was just speculation, now we're ankle deep in award season and so far only one film has remained high and dry; Spotlight. Every other film in this year's race has missed a key nomination here or there but Tom McCarthy's Spotlight has been the one contender on everyone's lips. With the Film Independent Spirit Awards, National Board of Review, New York, L.A., Boston, and Online Film Critics, Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globes announcements already out there we are starting to separate the rest of wheat from the chaff.

Spotlight is now officially number one on everyone's board after Scott Feinberg at The Hollywood Reporter finally joined the rest of the field in proclaiming it the leader of the pack. After that three main competitors remain; The Revenant, The Martian and Room. While we still have a long ways to go, at this early stage is sure seems like one of these four films will be our eventual best picture winner when all is said and done.


Three other films we could consider "the wheat" in this race are Carol, The Big Short and Mad Max: Fury Road, as all three continue to climb up the leaderboard week after week. It turns out that "the chaff" is Brooklyn, Bridge of Spies, and Joy, three films that were viewed as locks in the pre-awards phase but have failed to hold their ground as likely best picture nominees. Instead it looks like those films are safer bets for best actress (Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn, Jennifer Lawrence in Joy) and best supporting actor (Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies) nods instead.

Here's a look at the leaderboard:



Two other films of note that are a lot further down the leaderboard then they probably ought to be listed at this point are Trumbo and Beasts of No Nation. Most pundits don't view Trumbo as a legitimate awards threat because it is perceived as sort of a made-for-TV movie versus a cinematic one. Here's the thing with Trumbo though, it has a large ensemble of well-liked actors, and it is about an important figure and time in Hollywood's history, two things that bode very well for its chances with Academy voters (think The Artist and Argo). With a SAG ensemble nod and two Golden Globes nominations for Bryan Cranton and Helen Mirren, this one might just stick around.

Regarding Beasts of No Nation, any film with four Spirit Awards nominations including beast feature, a SAG ensemble nod, and other nominations from the National Board of Review and the Golden Globes should at least be on everyone's Top 15 at this point, if not close to the Top 10. Yet Indiewire is the only one listing it, and at only number fourteen. Maybe the fact that it is a Netflix release scares some pundits into thinking it won;t be a real contender, but based on the quality of the film (one of the year's best) and its awards performance so far it deserves more respect than it is getting.


We are still early on in this race, and with announcements from the Online Film Critics Society (awards) and Broadcast Film Critics' Choice (nominations) on Monday and the American Film Institute announcing their annual ten best list on Wednesday, the field will continue to condense as consensus forms.


Below are links to each of the articles used to compile the chart:






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Let me know what you think in the comments below or contact me on Twitter at @FiveStarFlicks or @5StarFlicks

Friday, December 11, 2015

74 Songs Eligible For Best Original Song Oscar

Here are the 74 songs eligible for this year's Academy Award for Best Original Song:

"Happy" from "Altered Minds"
"Home" from "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip"
"None Of Them Are You" from "Anomalisa"
"Stem To The Rose" from "Becoming Bulletproof"
"The Mystery Of Your Gift" from "Boychoir"
"I Run" from "Chi-Raq"
"Pray 4 My City" from "Chi-Raq"
"Sit Down For This" from "Chi-Raq"
"Strong" from "Cinderella"
"So Long" from "Concussion"
"Fighting Stronger" from "Creed"
"Grip" from "Creed"
"Waiting For My Moment" from "Creed"
"Don't Look Down" from "Danny Collins"
"Hey Baby Doll" from "Danny Collins"
"Dreamsong" from "The Diary of a Teenage Girl"
"It's My Turn Now" from "Dope"
"Ya Rahem, Maula Maula" from "Dukhtar"
"Earned It" from "Fifty Shades of Grey"
"Love Me Like You Do" from "Fifty Shades of Grey"
"Salted Wound" from "Fifty Shades of Grey"
"Hands Of Love" from "Freeheld"
"See You Again" from "Furious Seven"
"Brother" from "Godspeed: The Story of Page Jones"
"As Real As You And Me" from "Home"
"Dancing In The Dark" from "Home"
"Feel The Light" from "Home"
"Red Balloon" from "Home"
"Two Of A Crime" from "Hot Pursuit"
"Til It Happens To You" from "The Hunting Ground"
"I'll See You In My Dreams" from "I'll See You in My Dreams"
"The Movie About Us" from "Ingrid Bergman – In Her Own Words"
"Bhoomiyilenghanumundo" from "Jalam"
"Koodu Vaykkan" from "Jalam"
"Pakalppaathi Chaari" from "Jalam"
"Yaathra Manoradhamerum" from "Jalam"
"Lost In Love" from "Jenny's Wedding"
"True Love Avenue" from "Jenny's Wedding"
"Hypnosis" from "Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet"
"Juntos (Together)" from "McFarland, USA"
"The Light That Never Fails" from "Meru"
"The Crazy Ones" from "Miss You Already"
"There's A Place" from "Miss You Already"
"Johanna" from "Mortdecai"
"Little Soldier" from "Pan"
"Something's Not Right" from "Pan"
"Paranoid Girl" from "Paranoid Girls"
"Better When I'm Dancin'" from "The Peanuts Movie"
"Pink & Blue" from "Pink & Blue: Colors of Hereditary Cancer"
"Flashlight" from "Pitch Perfect 2"
"Birds Of A Feather" from "Poached"
"Still Breathing" from "Point Break"
"Manta Ray" from "Racing Extinction"
"Cold One" from "Ricki and the Flash"
"Torch" from "Rock the Kasbah"
"Someone Like You" from "The Rumperbutts"
"Aankhon Me Samaye Dil" from "Salt Bridge"
"Bachpana Thaa" from "Salt Bridge"
"Kanpne Lage Tum" from "Salt Bridge"
"Kyaa Bataaun Tujhe" from "Salt Bridge"
"Le Jaaye Jo Door Tumse" from "Salt Bridge"
"Na Jaane Kitni Door" from "Salt Bridge"
"Sookha Hi Rang Daalo" from "Salt Bridge"
"Feels Like Summer" from "Shaun the Sheep Movie"
"Phenomenal" from "Southpaw"
"Writing's On The Wall" from "Spectre"
"Squeeze Me" from "The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge out of Water"
"Teamwork" from "The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge out of Water"
"Who Can You Trust" from "Spy"
"Came To Win" from "Sweet Micky for President"
"Mean Ol' Moon" from "Ted 2"
"Love Was My Alibi" from "The Water Diviner"
"Fine On The Outside" from "When Marnie Was There"
"Simple Song #3" from "Youth"

Thursday, December 10, 2015

GOLDEN GLOBE NOMINATIONS ANNOUNCED


Here are the film nominees for this year's HFPA Golden Globe Awards:

Best Motion Picture, Drama
Carol
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Room
Spotlight

Best Motion Picture, Comedy
The Big Short
Joy
The Martian
Spy
Trainwreck

Best Motion Picture, Foreign Language
The Brand New Testament
The Club
The Fencer
Mustang
Son of Saul

Best Animated Feature
Anomalisa
The Good Dinosaur
Inside Out
The Peanuts Movie
Shaun the Sheep

Best Director
Todd Haynes, Carol
Alejandro Gonzalex Inarritu, The Revenant
Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
Ridley Scott, The Martian

Best Screenplay
Room
Spotlight
The Big Short
Steve Jobs
The Hateful Eight

Best Actor, Drama
Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl
Will Smith, Concussion

Best Actor, Musical/Comedy
Christian Bale, The Big Short
Steve Carell, The Big Short
Matt Damon, The Martian
Al Pacino, Danny Collins
Mark Ruffalo, Infinitely Polar Bear

Best Actress, Drama
Cate Blanchett, Carol
Brie Larson, Room
Rooney Mara, Carol
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl

Best Actress, Musical/Comedy
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
Amy Schumer, Trainwreck
Melissa McCarthy, Spy
Maggie Smith, The Lady in the Van
Lily Tomlin, Grandma

Best Supporting Actor
Paul Dano, Love & Mercy
Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Michael Shannon, 99 Homes
Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Best Supporting Actress
Jane Fonda, Youth
Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
Helen Mirren, Trumbo
Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

Best Original Song
“Love Me Like You Do,” Fifty Shades of Grey
“One Kind of Love,” Love and Mercy
“See You Again,” Furious 7
“Simple Song #3," Youth
"Writings on the Wall," Spectre

Best Original Score
Carol
The Danish Girl
The Hateful Eight
Steve Jobs
The Revenant

The 73rd Annual Golden Globe Awards air Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016 on NBC.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

TOP 15 OF '15 (SO FAR) AS OF 12/9/15

STATE OF THE RACE - BEST PICTURE - AS OF 12/9/15 (Pre-SAG & Globes)

We are now fully into award season everyone! After a plethora of awards this weekend (Los Angeles, Boston, New York Online Critics, plus British Independent Film Awards) here's what the Best Picture race looked like.


This does not take into account today's Screen Actors Guild awards announcement, which will certainly boost Beasts of No Nation, The Big Short, Straight Outta Compton, and Trumbo, which joined front-runner Spotlight in the Best Ensemble category. Will the absence of a SAG ensemble nod hurt The Martian, The Revenant, Bridge of Spies and Carol? Possibly, but probably not too bad. The Golden Globes which announce their nominees tomorrow morning, and many of these films are likely to get nominated there, which will help get back some momentum. So far it looks like only Spotlight is safe this awards season with everything else is subject to change on a daily basis.

Below are links to each of the articles used to compile the chart:





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