Monday, November 30, 2015


The 2015 Gotham Independent Film Awards were announced tonight with Spotlight taking home three awards including Best Feature. Tangerine also took home multiple awards, while Carol surprisingly lost all three categories it was nominated in.

Here's the full list of winners and nominees:

Best Feature

The Diary of a Teenage Girl
Heaven Knows What
Spotlight - WINNER

Best Documentary

Approaching the Elephant
Cartel Land
Heart of a Dog
Listen to Me Marlon
The Look of Silence - WINNER

Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award

Desiree Akhavan for Appropriate Behavior
Jonas Carpigano for Mediterranea - WINNER
Marielle Heller for The Diary of a Teenage Girl
John Magary for The Mend
Josh Mond for James White

Best Screenplay

Carol, by Phyllis Nagy
The Diary of a Teenage Girl, by Marielle Heller
Love & Mercy, by Oren Moverman and Michael Alan Lerner
Spotlight, by Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer - WINNER
While We’re Young, by Noah Baumbach

Best Actor*

Christopher Abbott in James White
Kevin Corrigan in Results
Paul Dano in Love & Mercy - WINNER
Peter Sarsgaard in Experimenter
Michael Shannon in 99 Homes

Best Actress*

Cate Blanchett in Carol
Blythe Danner in I’ll See You in My Dreams
Brie Larson in Room
Bel Powley in The Diary of a Teenage Girl - WINNER
Lily Tomlin in Grandma
Kristen Wiig in Welcome to Me

Breakthrough Actor

Rory Culkin in Gabriel
Arielle Holmes in Heaven Knows What
Lola Kirke in Mistress America
Kitana Kiki Rodriguez in Tangerine
Mya Taylor in Tangerine - WINNER

* The 2015 Best Actor/Best Actress nominating panel also voted to award a special Gotham Jury Award jointly to Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci and Brian D’Arcy James for their ensemble work in Spotlight.


 We are still a long way off from Oscar Sunday but we are starting to get some more clarity around which films are safe bets (see: Spotlight), which films are looking like real players (see: Creed), and which films are incredible but failing to gain any significant ground in the best picture race (see: Son of Saul). The most significant awards related event of the last week was the announcement of the Film Independent Spirit Awards nominations, where Anomalisa, Beasts of No Nation, Carol, Spotlight and Tangerine were nominated for both Best Feature and Best Director, among other awards. This week also saw screenings of The Revenant, Joy and The Hateful Eight for critics and industry folks, leaving Star Wars: The Force Awakens as the only big release yet to be seen.

Whether it was the Spirit Awards nominations or The Revenant's somewhat mixed reactions or a little of both but Spotlight is now the clear #1 front-runner, being named the likely winner by the experts at Gold Derby, Indiewire, Variety and Awards Circuit. Scott Feinberg at the Hollywood Reporter has it at number two, just behind Ridley Scott's The Martian. Getting back to The Revenant, it is not that the word getting out from the advanced screenings were all bad, there was just a lot of talk about how long it was (156 long minutes) and how brutal it was (Jeff Well's famous "Forget women seeing this" tweet). The length may not hurt it as much but the film's violence may be too much for some Oscar voters to handle.

Rounding out the rest of the safest bets so far this awards season are Room, Bridge of Spies, and Brooklyn. Of the three Room seems to have the most hardcore fans, though its absence from the bigger Spirit Awards categories may tarnish its Oscar hopes a bit. Bridge of Spies seems like a perfect awards film based on the personnel involved (Spielberg, Hanks, Coen bros) but it doesn't seem to garner the same adoration that Room or Brooklyn have managed thus far. Seeing that the Academy membership is still predominantly older white males I'm sure Spies is safe, just wondering if some films further down the list like The Hateful Eight or Creed might chip away at its chances.

Todd Hayne's Carol was certainly helped by all the Spirit Awards love it received, jumping up from a middle tier contender to a serious contender, and with a strong showing tonight at the IFP Gotham Awards alongside Spotlight it could keep its strong momentum going. We also hear from the National Board of Review on Tuesday and the New York Film Critics Circle on Wednesday so all of these standings are really fluid at the moment and will be for some time until more critics groups and guilds start announcing nominees and winners. There are a lot more announcements come December so we'll know a lot more in the coming weeks.

Here's the full chart as of 11/30/15:

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


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

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Tangerine, A Very Murray Christmas, The Ridiculous 6 coming to Netflix in December

The Film Independent Spirit Awards best feature nominee Tangerine, Bill Murray's Christmas special A Very Murray Christmas and Adam Sandler's The Ridiculous 6 headline the new releases hitting Netflix this December.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Sight & Sound Magazine’s 20 Best Films of 2015

Here are the top movies of the year, as chosen by 168 critics from around the world for the UK’s Sight & Sound Magazine:

1. The Assassin (Nie Yinniang), 38 votes, Directed by Hou Hsiao-Hsien, France/Hong Kong/Taiwan

2. Carol, 35 votes, Directed by Todd Haynes, United Kingdom/USA

3. Mad Max: Fury Road, 33 votes, Directed by George Miller, Australia/United States

4. Arabian Nights, 23 votes, (As mil e uma noites) Miguel Gomes, Switzerland/France/Germany/Portugal

5. Cemetery of Splendour, 18 votes, Directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, France/United Kingdom / Germany/Malaysia/Thailand

6. No Home Movie, 17 votes, Directed by Chantal Akerman, Belgium/France

7. 45 Years, 16 votes, Directed by Andrew Haigh, UK

8. Son of Saul, 14 votes, Directed by Laszlo Nemes, Hungary

9. Amy, 13 votes, Directed by Asif Kapadia, UK

10. Inherent Vice, 12 votes, Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, USA

T11. Anomalisa, 11 votes, Directed by Charlie Kaufman & Duke Johnson, USA

T11. It Follows, 11 votes, Directed by David Robert Mitchell, USA

13. Phoenix, 10 votes, Directed by Christian Petzold, Germany/Poland

T14. Girlhood, 9 votes, Directed by CĂ©line Sciamma, France

T14. Hard to Be a God, 9 votes, Directed by Aleksei German, Russia

T14. Inside Out, 9 votes, Directed by Pete Doctor, USA

T14. Tangerine, 9 votes, Directed by Sean Baker, USA

T14. Taxi Tehran, 9 votes, Directed by Jafar Panahi, Iran

T19. Horse Money, 8 votes, Directed by Pedro Costa, Portugal

T19. The Look of Silence, 8 votes, Directed by Joshua Oppenheimer, Denmark/Finland/UK/Indonesia/Norway

For more info and to see which critics voted for which films click HERE.

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

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

TOP 15 OF '15 (SO FAR) 11/24/15

2016 Spirit Awards Nominees Announced

The nominees for the 31st annual Film Independent Spirit Awards were announced this morning, with Anomalisa, Beasts of No Nation, Carol, Spotlight and Tangerine leading the way with both Best Feature and Best Director nominations (among others). Noticeably absent from the Best Feature race was Room, though it did snag a Best Lead Actress nod for star Brie Larson as well as Best First Screenplay and Editing nominations. Joining Larson in the Lead Actress category are both stars of Carol, Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, a trio that are likely face off again come Oscar Sunday.

Among my favorite nominations of the day were Jason Segal for his portrayal of writer David Foster Wallace in The End of the Tour, Paul Dano for his incredible performance as Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys in Love & Mercy, and Son of Saul landing a nomination for Best International Film. The Film Independent Spirit Awards take place on Saturday, February 27th and air live on IFC.

Here is the full list of 2016 Spirit Awards nominees:

Best Feature

Beasts of No Nation

Best Director

Sean Baker, Tangerine
Cary Joji Fukunaga, Beasts of No Nation
Todd Haynes, Carol
Charlie Kaufman & Duke Johnson, Anomalisa
Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
David Robert Mitchell, It Follows

Best Screenplay

Charlie Kaufman, Anomalisa
Donald Margulies, The End of the Tour
Phyllis Nagy, Carol
Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer, Spotlight
S. Craig Zahler, Bone Tomahawk

Best First Feature

The Diary of a Teenage Girl
James White
Manos Sucias
Songs My Brothers Taught Me

Best First Screenplay

Jesse Andrews, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Joseph Carpignano, Mediterranea
Emma Donoghue, Room
Marielle Heller, The Diary of a Teenage Girl
John Magary, Russell Harbaugh, Myna Joseph, The Mend

Best Male Lead

Christopher Abbott, James White
Abraham Attah, Beasts of No Nation
Ben Mendelsohn, Mississippi Grind
Jason Segel, The End of the Tour
Koudous Seihon, Mediterranea

Best Female Lead

Cate Blanchett, Carol
Brie Larson, Room
Rooney Mara, Carol
Bel Powley, The Diary of A Teenage Girl
Kitana Kiki Rodriquez, Tangerine

Best Supporting Male

Kevin Corrigan, Results
Paul Dano, Love & Mercy
Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation
Richard Jenkins, Bone Tomahawk
Michael Shannon, 99 Homes

Best Supporting Female

Robin Bartlett, H.
Marin Ireland, Glass Chin
Jennifer Jason Leigh, Anomalisa
Cynthia Nixon, James White
Mya Taylor, Tangerine

Best Documentary

Best of Enemies
Heart of Dog
The Look of Silence
The Russian Woodpecker

Best International Film

A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Reflecting On Existence
Embrace the Serpent
Son of Saul

Best Cinematography

Beasts of No Nation
It Follows
Songs My Brothers Taught Me

Best Editing

Beasts of No Nation
Heaven Knows What
It Follows

John Cassavetes Award (Best Feature Under $500,000)

Christmas, Again
Heaven Knows What
Out of My Hand

Robert Altman Award (Best Ensemble)


Kiehl’s Someone to Watch Award

Chloe Zhoa
Felix Thompson
Robert Machoian & Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck


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

Monday, November 23, 2015


The top films in the Oscar race remain unchanged this week, with Spotlight and The Revenant remaining the front runners. All of this could change drastically this week as The Revenant, Joy and The Hateful Eight are finally screened for industry folks and film critics this week. Up until now it has been all speculation based on trailers and other promotional items, but once the films are actually seen by audiences we'll get a better idea if these films will be driven by hype (paid for) or buzz (positive word of mouth). How important are these early screenings? Look at how Creed has all of a sudden popped into the awards conversation after getting rave reviews after it first screened last week.

The other important event that will help shape the early part of this awards season is the Film Independent Spirit Awards nominations which will be announced tomorrow morning. Three of the last four best picture winners (The Artist, 12 Years a Slave and Birdman) at the Oscars went home with Spirit Awards the night before. There is no doubt that these nominations will be incredibly important for films like Carol, The Danish Girl, Beasts of No Nation, Anomalisa and Love & Mercy that are outside the top ten currently but could get a big boost with a strong showing at the Spirit Awards. I also wouldn't be surprised if the Sundance favorites Me and Earl and the Dying Girl or Dope had a strong showing as well, which might help put them back in the Oscar conversation. We'll see.

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


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


Found on the SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE YouTube channel.

Saturday, November 21, 2015


SON OF SAUL is one of the most remarkable cinematic experiences in recent memory, the best film of 2015, and one of the greatest directorial debuts of all-time. Hungary's Oscar submission for Best Foreign-language film, Son of Saul not only deserves that award but also should be recognized in Directing, Lead Actor, Film Editing, Cinematography, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing categories as well. The Academy has only nominated nine Foreign-language films for Best Picture over its nearly 90 year history, but if any film is deserving of that honor it is Son of Saul.

Sunday, November 15, 2015


Congratulations to cinema icon Spike Lee on receiving an honorary Academy Award, which was given out at last night's Governors Awards. A long time advocate for independent film and people of color in the entertainment industry, as well as master storyteller and teacher of film history, this award is well deserved. The Academy did a nice job of summing up his career on their website:

"Spike Lee, a champion of independent film and an inspiration to young filmmakers, made an auspicious debut with his NYU thesis film, “Joe’s Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads,” which won a Student Academy Award® in 1983.  He proceeded to blaze a distinctive trail with such features as “She’s Gotta Have It,” “School Daze” and “Do the Right Thing,” which earned him a 1989 Oscar® nomination for Original Screenplay.  His work as a director ranges from the Oscar-nominated documentary feature “4 Little Girls” to such mainstream successes as “Malcolm X” and “Inside Man.”  Lee’s other feature credits include “Mo’ Better Blues,” “Jungle Fever,” “Crooklyn,” “He Got Game,” “25th Hour,” “Miracle at St. Anna” and “Red Hook Summer.”  He currently serves as the artistic director of the graduate film program at NYU."

In his funny and heartfelt acceptance speech Lee thanked a lot of the people who helped him along the way, including a touching story about all of the things that his grandmother did to support his career. He also made a thoughtful plea to Hollywood studio executives to access their hiring practices when it comes to people of color. Check out his complete speech below:


Saturday, November 14, 2015


If you haven't seen it yet stop reading this right now and GO SEE IT!

One of the best films of 2015.


Friday, November 13, 2015

My whole heart goes out...

My whole heart goes out to the people of France, Lebanon, Iraq and Japan tonight as they struggle with man-made and natural disasters.

I hope everyone has a safe night and a better tomorrow. Be kind to each other.


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Thursday, November 5, 2015



The Academy of Motion Pictures announced that sixteen animated feature films have been submitted for Oscar consideration. They are:

The Boy and the Beast
Boy and the World
The Good Dinosaur
Hotel Transylvania 2
Inside Out
Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet
The Laws of the Universe – Part 0
Moomins on the Riviera
The Peanuts Movie
Regular Show: The Movie
Shaun the Sheep Movie
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge out of Water
When Marnie Was There

Tuesday, November 3, 2015



Favorite Movie
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Furious 7
Inside Out
Jurassic World
Pitch Perfect 2

Favorite Movie Actor
Channing Tatum
Chris Pratt
Johnny Depp
Robert Downey Jr.
Will Smith

Favorite Movie Actress
Anne Hathaway
Melissa McCarthy
Meryl Streep
Sandra Bullock
Scarlett Johansson

Favorite Action Movie
Avengers: Age of Ultron
The Divergent Series: Insurgent
Furious 7
Jurassic World
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

Favorite Action Movie Actor
Chris Hemsworth
Chris Pratt
Dwayne Johnson
Robert Downey Jr.
Vin Diesel

Favorite Action Movie Actress
Charlize Theron
Emily Blunt
Michelle Rodriguez
Scarlett Johansson
Shailene Woodley

Favorite Animated Movie Voice
Adam Sandler
Amy Poehler
Sandra Bullock
Selena Gomez

Favorite Comedic Movie
Pitch Perfect 2
Ted 2

Favorite Comedic Movie Actor
Jack Black
Kevin Hart
Mark Wahlberg
Robert De Niro
Will Ferrell

Favorite Comedic Movie Actress
Amy Schumer
Anna Kendrick
Melissa McCarthy
Rebel Wilson
Sofia Vergara

Favorite Dramatic Movie
The Age of Adaline
Fifty Shades of Grey
The Longest Ride
The Martian
Straight Outta Compton

Favorite Dramatic Movie Actor
Channing Tatum
George Clooney
Johnny Depp
Matt Damon
Will Smith

Favorite Dramatic Movie Actress
Blake Lively
Dakota Johnson
Jennifer Lopez
Kate Winslet
Rachel McAdams

Favorite Family Movie
Hotel Transylvania 2
Inside Out

Favorite Thriller Movie
The Boy Next Door
Insidious: Chapter 3
Taken 3


Sunday, November 1, 2015


It's November 1st, which means #Noirvember is officially upon us! Time to close the Venetian blinds, turn down the lights and watch a whole mess of Film Noirs. Use the hashtag #Noirvember to share your favorites and discover new ones.