67th Primetime Emmy Awards Nomination Predictions   2 comments

Before the announcement tonight, here’s a preview of the names who can expect an Emmy nominations for this year.

OUTSTANDING DRAMA SERIES:
drama series
• Better Call Saul (AMC)
• Downton Abbey (PBS)
• Empire (Fox)
• Game of Thrones (HBO)
• House of Cards (Showtime)
• Mad Men (AMC)
• Orange is the New Black (Netflix)
Eighth nominee: Homeland (Showtime)

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES:

drama lead actor

• Jeff Daniels, “The Newsroom”
• Jon Hamm, “Mad Men”
• Terrence Howard, “Empire”
• Bob Odenkirk, “Better Call Saul”
• Clive Owen, “The Knick”
• Kevin Spacey, “House of Cards”
Seventh nominee: Matthew Rhys, “The Americans”

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES:

drama lead actress

• Claire Danes, “Homeland”
• Viola Davis, “How to Get Away with Murder”
• Taraji P. Henson, “Empire”
• Julianna Margulies, “The Good Wife”
• Elisabeth Moss, “Mad Men”
• Robin Wright, “House of Cards”
Seventh nominee: Taylor Schilling, “Orange is the New Black”

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES:

drama supp actor

• Jonathan Banks, “Better Call Saul”
• Jim Carter, “Downton Abbey”
• Peter Dinklage, “Game of Thrones”
• Kit Harrington, “Game of Thrones”
• Mandy Patinkin, “Homeland”
• Jon Voight, “Ray Donovan”
Seventh nominee: Ben Mendehlson, “Bloodline”

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES:

drama supp actress• Uzo Aduba, “Orange is the New Black”
• Lena Headey, “Game of Thrones”
• Christina Hendricks, “Mad Men”
• Maggie Smith, “Downton Abbey”
• Sissy Spacek, “Bloodline”
• Lorraine Toussant, “Orange is the New Black”
Seventh nominee: Christine Baranski, “The Good Wife”

OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES:

drama guest actor

• Beau Bridges, “Masters of Sex”
• Michael J. Fox, “The Good Wife”
• Lars Mikkelsen, “House of Cards”
• Robert Morse, “Mad Men”
• David Hyde Pierce, “The Good Wife”
• Courtney B. vance, “Scandal”
Seventh nominee: Dylan Baker, “The Good Wife”

OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES:

drama guest actress• Alison Brie, “Mad Men”
• Kate Burton, “Scandal”
• Allison Janney, “Masters of Sex”
• Diana Riggs, “Game of Thrones”
• Kiernen Shipka, “Mad Men”
• Cicely Tyson, “How to Get Away with Murder”
Seventh nominee: Carrie Preston, “The Good Wife”

OUTSTANDING DIRECTING IN A DRAMA SERIES:

drama directing

• Better Call Saul, “Uno” (Vince Gilligan)
• Boardwalk Empire, “El Dorado” (Tim van Patten)
• Game of Thrones, “Hardhome” (Miguel Sapochnik)
• The Knick, “Pilot” (Steven Soderbergh)
• Mad Men, “Person to Person” (Matthew Weiner)
Sixth nominee: Orange is the New Black, “Thirsty Bird” (Jodie Foster)

OUTSTANDING WRITING IN A DRAMA SERIES:

drama writing

• The Affair, “Pilot” (Sasrah Treem, Hagai Levi)
• Better Call Saul, “Uno” (Vince Gilligan & Peter Gould)
• Game of Thrones, “Mother’s Money (David Benioff & D. B. Weiss)
• Mad Men, “The Milk and Money Route” (Carly Wray and Matthew Weiner)
• Mad Men, “Person to Person” (Matthew Weiner)
Sixth nominee: The Americans, “Stingers” (Larysa Kondracki)

OUTSTANDING COMEDY SERIES:

comedy series

• The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
• Louie (FX)
• Modern Family (ABC)
• Silicon Valley (HBO)
• Transparent (Amazon)
• Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
• Veep (HBO)
Eighth nominee: Episodes (Showtime)

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES:

comedy lead actor

• Louis C.K, “Louie”
• Matt Leblanc, “Episodes”
• William H. Macy, “Shameless”
• Thomas Middleditch, “Silicon Valley”
• Jim Parsons, “The Big Bang Theory”
• Jeffrey Tambor, “Transparent”
Seventh nominee: Billy Crystal, “The Comedians”

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES:

comedy lead actress

• Edie Falco, “Nurse Jackie”
• Ellie Kemper, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”
• Lisa Kudrow, “The Comeback”
• Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep”
• Amy Poehler, “Parks and Recreation”
• Amy Schumer, “Inside Amy Schumer”
Seventh nominee: Lily Tomlin, “Grace and Frankie”

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES:

comedy supp actor

• Andre Braugher, “Brooklyn Nine Nine”
• Tituss Burgess, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”
• Ty Burrell, “Modern Family”
• Jesse Tyler Ferguson, “Modern Family”
• Tony Hale, “Veep”
• TJ Miller, “Silicon Valley”
Seventh nominee: Fred Armisen, “Portlandia”

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES:

comedy supp actress

• Julie Bowen, “Modern Family”
• Anna Chlumsky, “Veep”
• Allison Janney, “Mom”
• Jane Krakowski, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”
• Kate McKinnon, “Saturday Night Live”
• Merritt Wever, “Nurse Jackie”
Seventh nominee: Mayim Bialik, “The Big Bang Theory”

OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES:

comedy guest actor

• Louis C.K., “Saturday Night Live”
• Paul Giammatti, “Inside Amy Schumer”
• Bill Hader, “Saturday Night Live”
• Jon Hamm, Ünbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”
• Nathan Lane, “Modern Family”
• Bradley Whitford, “Transparent”
Seventh nominee: Mel Brooks, “The Comedians”

OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES:

comedy guest actress• Elizabeth Banks, “Modern Family”
• Christine Baranski, “The Big Bang Theory”
• Joan Cusack, “Shameless”
• Tina Fey, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”
• Rita Moreno, “Jane the Virgin”
• Octavia Spencer, “Mom
Seventh nominee: Kathy Bates, “Mike and Molly”

OUTSTANDING DIRECTING IN A COMEDY SERIES:

comedy directing

• Glee, “2009” (Paris Barclay)
• Louie, “Sleepover” (Louis C.K.)
• Modern Family, “Connection Lost” (Steven Levitan)
• Silicon Valley, “Two Days of the Condor” (Alec Berg)
• Veep, “Testimony” (Armando Iannucci)
Sixth nominee: Transparent, “Best New Girl” (Jill Solloway)

OUTSTANDING WRITING IN A COMEDY SERIES:comedy writing• Episodes, “Episode 409″ (David Crane, Jeffrey Klarik)
• Louie, “Bobby’s House” (Louis C.K.)
• Parks and Recreation, “One Last Ride” (Michael Schur, Amy Poehler)
• Transparent, “Pilot” (Jill Solloway)
• Veep, “Election Night” (Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche)
Sixth nominee: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, “Kimmy Goes Outside” (Tina Fey, Robert Carlock)

OUTSTANDING LIMITED SERIES:

limited series

• American Crime (ABC)
• American Horror Story: Freak Show (FX)
• The Honourable Woman (Sundance Channel)
• Olive Kitteridge (HBO)
• Wolf Hall (BBC America)
Sixth nominee: Texas Rising (History)

OUTSTANDING TV MOVIE:

tv movie

• Bessie (HBO)
• Derek: The Final Chapter (FX)
• Nightingale (HBO)
• A Poet In New York (PBS)
• Worricker (PBS)
Sixth nominee: Killing Jesus (National Geographic)

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A TV MOVIE OR MINI SERIES:

longform actor• Adrien Brody, “Houdini”
• Ricky Gervais, “Derek: The Final Chapter”
• Richard Jenkins, “Olive Kitteridge”
• David Oyelowo, “Nightingale”
• Mark Rylance, “Wolf Hall”
• Kiefer Sutherland, “24: Live Another Day”
Seventh nominee: Timothy Hutton, “American Crime”

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A TV MOVIE OR MINI SERIES:

longform actress

• Maggie Gyllenhaal, “The Honourable Woman”
• Felicity Huffman, “American Crime”
• Nicole Kidman, “Grace of Monaco”
• Jessica Lange, “American Horror Story: Freak Show”
• Queen Latifah, “Bessie”
• Frances McDormand, “Olive Kitteridge”
Seventh nominee: Emma Thompson, “Sweeney Todd”

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A TV MOVIE OR MINI SERIES:

longform supp actor

• Michael Chiklis, “American Horror Story: Freak Show”
• Damian Lewis, “Wolf Hall”
• Bill Murray, “Olive Kitteridge”
• Jonathan Pryce, “Wolf Hall”
• Stephen Rea, “The Honourable Woman”
• Michael Kienneth Williams, “Bessie”
Seventh nominee: Michael Gambon, “The Casual Vacancy”

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A TV MOVIE OR MINI SERIES:

longform supp actress

• Kathy Bates, “American Horror Story: Freak Show”
• Judy Davis, “The Honourable Woman
• Janet McTeer, “Worricker”
• Mo’nique, “Bessie”
• Sarah Paulson, “American Horror Story: Freak Show”
• Susan Sarandon, “The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe”
Seventh nominee: Regina King, Ämerican Crime”

OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A TV MOVIE OR MINI SERIES:

longform writing

• American Crime, Ëpisode One”(John Ridley)
• Bessie (Dee Rees. Christopher Cleveland, Bettina Gilois)
• Derek (Ricky Gervais)
• The Honourable Woman (Hugo Blick)
• Olive Kitteridge (Jane Anderson)
• Wolf Hall (Peter Straughan)
Alternate: Nightingale (Frederick Mensch)

OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A TV MOVIE OR MINI SERIES:

longform directing• American Horror Story: Freak Show, “Monsters Among Us” (Ryan Murphy)
• Bessie (Dee Rees)
• The Honourable Woman (Hugo Blick)
• Olive Kitteridge (Lisa Cholodenko)
• Texas Rising (Roland Joffe)
• Wolf Hall (Peter Kosminsky)
Alternate: Nightingale (Elliott Lester)

OUTSTANDING REALITY/COMPETITION SERIES:
reality competition• The Amazing Race (CBS)
• Dancing with the Stars (ABC)
• Project Runway (Lifetime)
• So You Think You Can Dance (Fox)
• Top Chef (Bravo)
• The Voice (NBC)
Seventh nominee: RuPaul’s Drag Race (Logo)

OUTSTANDING REALITY/COMPETITION HOST:

reality host

• Tom Bergeron, “Dancing with the Stars”
• Anthony Bourdain, “The Taste”
• Cat Deeley, “So You Think You Can Dance”
• Phil Keoghan, “The Amazing Race”
• Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn, “Project Runway”
• Jane Lynch, “Hollywood Game Night”
Seventh nominee: Carson Daly, “The Voice”

OUTSTANDING VARIETY TALK PROGRAM

variety talk

• The Colbert Report (Comedy Central)
• The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Comedy Central)
• Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
• Late Show with David Letterman (CBS)
• Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO)
• The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (NBC)
Seventh nominee: Jimmy Kimmel Live (ABC)

OUTSTANDING VARIETY SKETCH PROGRAM

variety sketch

• @midnight (Comedy Central)
• Comedy Bang Bang (IFC)
• Inside Amy Schumer (Comedy Central)
• Key & Peele (Comedy Central)
• Portlandia (IFC)
• Saturday Night Live (NBC)
Seventh nominee: Drunk History (Comedy Central)

Follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

Tit for Tat Film Awards 2014   4 comments

Welp better late than never! This should have been posted three-four months ago, but I’ve just finished my viewing list two weeks ago. As per tradition, I offer my own picks of the best in cinema from 2014. Feel free to agree, disagree, comment whatsoever. Trimming this to six per category is quite hard considering I’ve seen more than a hundred films from last year (you can check the complete eligibility list here), and I have left a boatload of other deserving achievements in my shortlist. That said, unlike the last two years (which you can see 2012 and 2013  here), there isn’t any Her or Holy Motors that dominated the race this year. Anyway, here we go! My picks in 24 different categories.

best film ensemble

gold PRIDE
silver SELMA

bronzeTHE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL

Wes Anderson once again managed to come up with a delicious cast to portray these larger than life characters in The Grand Budapest Hotel, but his bigger achievement is compiling these Wes regulars who already had a grasp of his direction and humor. Selma is a passion project for everyone involved, and said passion has translated to screen even if Oprah is overselling it. But my ensemble pick for this year would be the cast of Pride with its successful combination of veterans like Dominic West, Bill Nighy, and Imelda Staunton and newbies Ben Schnetzer and George McKay all giving standout performances.

best debut feature

gold NIGHTCRAWLER
silver A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT

bronzeTHE BABADOOK

Jennifer Kent’s influences were clear in The Babadook, but the way she handled the material treated the movie more as a homage instead of a copycat, and for that she has my admiration. In A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, Ana Lily Amirpour treated Western feels to her unique vampire story effectively setting up the atmosphere of the whole film. Ultimately, it’s Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler, which he also wrote aside from directing, that takes the cake in this category. The solid thriller was incredibly shot and every inch thought provoking.

best visual effects

gold GODZILLA
silver DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
bronze X-MEN: DAYS OF THE FUTURE PAST

Sure Quicksilver’s scene in X-Men: Days of Future Past has already been overpraised to death, but that doesn’t mean it’s still not worthy of a mention here. it’s one of the few times when the audience I was watching with literally went “Woooah.” The reboot of the Planet of the Apes series has been a great decision mixing great quality while bringing in the visual spectacle. But Godzilla tops the year in terms of dropping the wow. Whether it’s Godzilla’s first appearance, the Hawaii attack, or the Golden Gate Bridge scene, we’re thisclose in forgiving the existence of the 1998 version.

best sound

gold WHIPLASH
silver GODZILLA
bronze SNOWPIERCER

Snowpiercer was an aural achievement in the same vein that it was a visual treat for its fans — the train sounds and everything that has happened inside were all specifically detailed in the movie. Godzilla has a lot more to chew bringing in more setpieces and more scenarios to showcase its sound design, but surpassed all those rather easily. But in the end, it’s all about Whiplash. It was loud and tense one minute, while calm and tender the other.

best original song

gold “LOST STARS” (Begin Again)
silver “LIKE A FOOL” (Begin Again)
bronze “GLORY” (Selma)

John Legend and Common’s “Glory” brings the emotional punches that compatibly suits Selma‘s intentions. However, my two favorite original soundtracks are from John Carney’s follow up to Once — Begin Again. In “Like A Fool“, Keira Knightley’s Greta puts a twist to the feelings of a heartbroken woman by supplying it with sugary sweet arrangement. Meanwhile, “Lost Stars” is one of those rare cases of a song playing an integral role in the movie. Plus points for finding a song that would suit Adam Levine’s voice.

best original score

gold UNDER THE SKIN
silver BIRDMAN
bronze GONE GIRL

The pairing of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross continues to compliment David Fincher’s visuals in their third collaboration together in Gone Girl. Meanwhile, one of last year’s award season travesty is Antonio Sanchez’ disqualification for his musical work in Birdman. It was a gimmick that could have turned out as a disaster but ended up in an exactly different position. However, Mica Levi’s score for Under the Skin tops the list just for effectively sustaining the tension as we follow Scarlett Johansson’s character.

best makeup and hairstyling

gold GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
silver THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
bronze SNOWPIERCER

The idea in Snowpiercer was to highlight the different classes where the characters in the film belong to, and a large part of its successful portrayal of such was in its makeup and hairstyling. Meanwhile, the work in The Grand Budapest Hotel is as wacky and as big as its intention. In the end, the colorful (albeit obvious) work in Guardians of the Galaxy is my pick for this year.

best editing

gold BOYHOOD
silver WHIPLASH
bronze WILD TALES

What makes the editing in Wild Tales impressive isn’t the fact that it managed to showcase six different but effective stand alone stories in a span of 120 minutes, but the little nuances that connect the stories when one part ends and another begins. Whiplash is obviously an editing catnip, but it’s effective with what it achieved escalating the tension further between Fletcher and Neyman. Boyhood managed to feature a 12 year span of a story in merely two and a half hours, but that same amount of time already made us feel attached to these characters we started to barely know anything about.

best costume design

gold THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
silver MR. TURNER
bronze INHERENT VICE

The costume design in Inherent Vice plays some sort of an additional character in the film making the recreation of the 70s more effective. One can easily be dismissive of the usual big British costume pieces, but Jacqueline Durran’s work in Mr. Turner is simply irresistible. Ultimately, it’s the wardrobe pieces from the Grand Budapest Hotel that takes the win for me. When the clothes attract as much attention as these out of this world characters, you know the designer has more than done her job.

best cinematography

gold MR. TURNER
silver THE IMMIGRANT
bronze  IDA

There seems to be an easy route for black and white films to attract cinematography mentions, but in Ida, it feels more of a complement than a gimmick. The soft touches in The Immigrant perfectly complements the soft touches of Marion Cotillard’s character, Eva. But every scene in Mr. Turner seemed like it was taken straight out of a painting providing us picturesque visuals during the whole course of the movie.

best production design

gold THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
silver MR. TURNER
bronze INHERENT VICE

The atmosphere 70s hippie scene was effectively conveyed in Inherent Vice where you can smell the characters right outside of your screen. Mr. Turner is rich in colors and texture that it just invites you to be a part of its world. But the vibrant set pieces in the Grand Budapest Hotel is beyond astonishing that it totally delivers in true Wes Anderson fashion.

best foreign language film

gold FORCE MAJEURE
silver THE TALE OF THE PRINCESS KAGUYA
bronze WILD TALES

Hilarious on the outside but reflective on the inside, Wild Tales successfully conveyed themes of violence and vengeance, albeit on different levels. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya was such a sweet surprise — it was gorgeous to look at, but not sacrificing the maturity of its content, just like any Studio Ghibli film. Force Majeure poses a really important question in terms of the roles we play in the society, and it’s even more clever when you consider the scenario that led to such.

best animated feature

gold THE TALE OF THE PRINCESS KAGUYA
silver THE LEGO MOVIE
bronze SONG OF THE SEA

Song of the Sea is the definition of an underrated gem, combining mythological elements with a more broad theme. The Lego Movie is definitely a lot of people’s most entertaining experience in the cinema from last year. To sum it in one word -awesome. But The Tale of the Princess Kaguya;s poignancy wins me over, as its dreamy visuals bring one of my favorite movie moments of the past year.

best documentary

gold NATIONAL GALLERY
silver THE MISSING PICTURE
bronze JODOROWSKY’S DUNE

Jodorowsky’s Dune is fascinating to watch simply because it features the ambition of a man in how he “fulfills” his dream. The Missing Picture, on the other hand, takes a different approach by using clay animation in dealing an equally important time in history. Frederick Wiseman’s National Gallery takes the win though for bringing us not only to the interiors of this prominent London attraction, but giving us an experience along with it.

best male breakthrough

gold ANTOINE OLIVIER PILON (Mommy)
silver JACK O’CONNELL (Starred Up)
bronze ANSEL ELGORT (The Fault In Our Stars)

Hazel Lancaster is the heart of The Fault in Our Stars, but Ansel Elgort’s dreamy demeanor made us embrace and feel for his character just the same.While his turn in failed Oscar bait Unbroken is one of the film’s few saving graces, it was in Starred Up that showed O’Connell’s gravitas as an aspiring actor with depth. Female characters might be Xavier Dolan’s forte, but Antoine Olivier Pilon totally got what Dolan wanted for this character in Mommy.

best female breakthrough

gold GUGU MBATHA RAW (Beyond the Lights)
silver JENNY SLATE (Obvious Child)
bronze KATHERINE WATERSTON (Inherent Vice)

Fearless is what I’d probably call Katherine Waterston’s first foray into acting taking a role as bold and as daring that what she did in Inherent Vice. Jenny Slate continues the trend of SNL performers giving a great turn at the movies carrying Obvious Child with much more insights. What’s impressive about Gugu Mbatha Raw’s turn in Beyond the Lights is how accurate her popstar interpretation is. That and the achievement of making her character really transparent and feel more human.

best adapted screenplay

 

gold ISAO TAKAHATA (The Tale of the Princess Kaguya)
silver DAMIEN CHAZELLE (Whiplash)
bronze GILLIAN FLYNN (Gone Girl)

Gillian Flynn effectively translates her own novel to the big screen choosing which details needs to be included (and excluded) from the literary adaptation of this popular book series. We’ve seen a lot of “drive into madness to achieve greatness” in films, but Whiplash emphasizes that if you can’t beat him, join him. The complexities of life and the sins we need to pay is what I like about The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, particularly that one dreamy sequence before the ending.

best original screenplay

gold RUBEN OSTLUND (Force Majeure)
silver STEPHEN BERESFORD (Pride)
bronze JIM JARMUSCH (Only Lovers Left Alive)

What Jim Jarmusch did in Only Lovers Left Alive was a refreshing approach to vampires co-existing with humans, only this time it’s more mesmerizing and bittersweet. In Pride, Beresford wrote a crowdpleasing film, but carefully managed to tone it with the perfect amount for it not to be too sentimental nor preachy. Ruben Ostlund posed the question of the perceived roles of the genders in the society making us contemplate even after the credits has rolled.

best supp actress

gold ROSE BYRNE (Neighbors)
silver SUZANNE CLEMENT (Mommy)
bronze PATRICIA ARQUETTE (Boyhood)

Patricia Arquette was very much deserving of the Oscar she won just a few months ago, even without her already iconic speech, as her turn in Boyhood was as natural as the character can get. Suzanne Clement overcomes the possibility of making her role in Mommy gimmicky, which would be a real challenge had it been in the hands of a less competent actress. What Rose Byrne did in Neighbors is simply prove that women can hold against their own, albeit supporting roles, in a testosterone filled film.

best supp actor

gold TIMUR MAGOMEDGADZHIEV (Two Days, One Night)
silver EDWARD NORTON (Birdman)
bronze JOSH BROLIN (Inherent Vice)

Josh Brolin steals every scene he’s in in Inherent Vice, and he made sure you’ve felt his presence given his story arc. It might be too obvious that Edward Norton’s role in Birdman is one that has a huge ego (and hard on, apparently), but what he did was to let the character get loose without letting it go full retard. When people talk about single scenes that made impact, they better be including that of Timur Magomedhadzhiev in it. He was featured in only a single scene in Two Days, One Night, but the film hasn’t reached an emotional high as compared to what happened in his scene.

best actress

gold ANNE DORVAL (Mommy)
silver MARION COTILLARD (Two Days, One Night)
bronze ROSAMUND PIKE (Gone Girl)

Rosamund Pike was devilishly delicious in her turn as Amy Dunne in Gone Girl. Years from now, it’ll be a reference point to the iconic performances compared with the likes of Alex Forrest. Marion Cotillard was seriously heartbreaking in Two Days, One Night carrying the whole film on her back and showcasing a gamut of different emotions. It was a tall order for Anne Dorval to be the foundation of Mommy, but her Diane was such a painfully honest portrayal of a woman who wasn’t afraid to showcase the highs and lows of her life.

best actor

gold BILL HADER (The Skeleton Twins)
silver DAVID OYELOWO (Selma)
bronze TIMOTHY SPALL (Mr. Turner)

Only in the hands of a capable actor like Timothy Spall can make Mr. Turner a really complex character, which showcases his clear understanding of how Mike Leigh envisions the titular character. You might not agree with everything he;s doing, but you’re just hooked with him. David Oyelowo breathes and lives the icon that is Martin Luther King Jr, in Selma, possessing the latter’s charismatic and strong willed character. But in the end, it’s all about Bill Hader’s revelatory performance in The Skeleton Twins that does it for me. Sure, having Kristen Wiig as his co-actor in a lot of his scenes helped, but he made you care for him much more than what you anticipated.

best director

gold RICHARD LINKLATER (Boyhood)
silver JONATHAN GLAZER (Under the Skin)
bronze JEAN-PIERRE AND LUC DARDENNE (Two Days, One Night)

By now it’s pretty clear that whatever the Dardennes do will surely be great, but it still won’t stop me from specifying their work in Two Days, One Night. It took Jonathan Glazer almost a decade to follow up his equally great work in Birth, but it was worth the wait when he gave us something like Under the Skin. And Richard Linklater’s remarkable peak in Boyhood is to inject complex human emotions in what could have been a tempting gimmicky narrative.

best picture

gold BOYHOOD (Richard Linklater)
silver UNDER THE SKIN (Jonathan Glazer)
bronze DEUX JOURS, UNE NUIT (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)

Two Days, One Night  was pretty much straightforward in putting the complexities of human emotions in its center, as we follow Sandra talk to her workmates one by one as she makes her case. But it is within these different reactions and stories towards their answers to her request that further showcased the versatile thematic layers of the movie ranging from issues of economic struggles to one’s personal strength in dealing with such and the morality of these other people’s decisions

Based on Michel Faber’s 2000 novel of the same title, Under the Skin is one chilling and mysterious story filled with bold and brave imagery; the film just hypes up the tension more and more. In Glazer’s world, the mood is gloomy and the atmosphere is just as dark as ever, and it is through these visuals that he paints the most uncommon situations.  It is harrowing and visceral, disturbing and sensational movie watching experience.

Richard Linklater’s 12 year in the making masterpiece Boyhood is as ambitious as one can get, but the simple and organic approach in its depiction of a slice (is it even just a slice?) of life is certainly one of the most emotionally affecting movie watching experience I’ve ever had. More than the achievement of such a “stunt” project (if one can even call it that), what makes Linklater’s Boyhood every inch effective and memorable is that it was able to capture the accuracy of one’s growing up beyond its literal meaning. The feelings you invested in these characters are too much and too deep that you just don’t want it to end. Well in my case, I really don’t.

That was it! As a recap, here are the winners for the 2014 Tit for Tat Film Awards:

PICTURE: Boyhood
DIRECTOR: Richard Linklater, Boyhood
LEAD ACTOR: Bill Hader, The Skeleton Twins
LEAD ACTRESS: Anne Dorval, Mommy
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Timur Magomedgadzhiev, Two Days, One Night
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Rose Byrne, Neighbors
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Ruben Ostlund, Force Majeure
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Isao Takahata, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: Force Majeure (Ruben Ostlund)
ANIMATED FEATURE FILM: The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (Isao Takahata)
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE FILM: National Gallery (Frederick Wiseman)
MALE BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE: Antoine Olivier Pilon, Mommy
FEMALE BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE: Gugu Mbatha Raw, Beyond the Lights
ART DIRECTION: The Grand Budapest Hotel
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Mr. Turner
COSTUME DESIGN: The Grand Budapest Hotel
EDITING: Boyhood
HAIRSTYLING AND MAKE UP: Guardians of the Galaxy
ORIGINAL SCORE: Under the Skin
ORIGINAL SONG: Lost Stars (Begin Again)
SOUND: Whiplash
VISUAL EFFECTS:
Godzilla
FIRST FEATURE: Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler
ENSEMBLE: Pride

See you again next year! What are your favorites from 2014?

If you want, you can follow me on Twitter and let’s talk about it more: @nikowl

Posted July 11, 2015 by Nicol Latayan in Tit for Tat Awards

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10 Best MMFF Movies of the Last 10 Years   Leave a comment

Last week, the Metro Manila Development Authority headed by Francis Tolentino has announced the entries for this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival. And as expected, MMFF staples such as Vice Ganda, Robin Padilla, Vic Sotto, Kris Aquino, and Aiai delas Alas all have entries this year.

Once the festival home of films such as Himala, Burlesk Queen, Karnal, Itanong Mo Sa Buwan, Magic Temple, and Dekada ’70, there has been a paradigm shift in terms of the criteria on how films are chosen the past decade. Commercial appeal has been the primary agenda now and box office as a main factor on which entries will make it.

And while this has elicited a lot of criticisms, particularly the idea of prioritizing box office over “quality” films, the MMFF has still treated us with some notable films quality films over the years. This coming year, entries from Gil Portes, Antoinette Jadaone, Jose Javier Reyes, and Dan Villegas have been chosen while those of Erik Matti’s and Jeffrey Jeturian were in the waitlist categories.

Before I reveal my picks of the ten best MMFF films of the last ten years (New Wave section excluded), here are five that came close from being included:

11-15

“Ulam” from Shake, Rattle, and Roll XV (director: Jerrold Tarog, 2014) – Ulam made good use of every minute we’ve seen on screen to show the horrors and tension of a marital relationship.

“Katas ng Saudi” (director: Jose Javier Reyes, 2007) – Probably the most memorable OFW movies in local cinema depict those of a mother leaving their children behind. Here’s from a father’s perspective of coming home and realizing it isn’t what he expected.

“Pagpag” (director: Frasco Mortiz, 2013) – It’s horror by the numbers, but it tackles such a Filipino ritual one can’t help but to give in to its scares.

“Manila Kingpin: The Asiong Salonga Story” (director: Daryl dela Cruz, 2011) – It got its reputation as the one that started the action comeback, but its behind the scenes director mishap got in the way for  the film to move from being good to being great.

“One More Try” (director: Ruel Bayani, 2012) – Rip-off or not, the film brags of solid performances from its four leads, particularly that of its lead actress Angel Locsin.

And as for the top 10:

10

10. “Parola” from Shake, Rattle, and Roll 13 (director: Jerrold Tarog, 2011) – Parola is the perfect throwback to the early heydays of the Shake, Rattle, and Roll franchise, only with better production and technical achievements. Its scares mixes that of the old and the new, giving the type of scares that the audience will definitely bite.

09

09. “English Only Please” (director: Dan Villegas, 2014) – It’s easy to dismiss English Only Please from the get go, it’s not from the manufactured Star Cinema factory of kilig, not does it star a tandem that has a solid following. But it has proven that it doesn’t need any of those. It gives the same kilig and “feels” without the need to fall trap to the usual rom-com clichés.

08

08. “Blue Moon (director: Joel Lamangan, 2005) – During the last few years when Regal Films was still obsessed with this big star-studded ensembles in family dramas comes Lamangan directing a Palanca-winning screenplay about three generation of family members with the patriarch searching for his one true love. The film is mostly fluff hiding in between the big war backdrop, but its attempt is earnest one can’t help but fall in love with it.

07

07. “Lihim ng San Joaquin (director: Richard Somes, 2005) – When Shake, Rattle, and Roll made a comeback in the mid-Aughts, a lot expected to feel the throwback of the early 90s horror franchise. Instead, we got that ridiculous “Poso” episode and an uneven “Aquarium” one. Then comes “Lihim ng San Joaquin”, about a young , newlywed couple transferring to a rural town. This one will keep you on the edge of your seat with its silence.

06

06. “Kubot: The Aswang Chronicles (director: Erik Matti, 2014) – Sure, the MMFF has been a commercial venue for the whole family to enjoy, but with Kubot, the follow up to 2012’s Tiktik, Erik Matti proved that a sequel isn’t an alibi to come up with a lackluster addition to a franchise (which most MMFF franchises are guilty of doing). While it doesn’t necessarily have to beat its predecessor, it doesn’t have to be a downgrade as well.

05

05. “Boy Golden: Shoot to Kill (director: Chito Rono, 2013) – The best thing about Boy Golden is that it doesn’t want to prove anything. It doesn’t take itself seriously and just wants to have fun. And boy was it a fun movie-watching experience mixing camp and action we haven’t seen in a long time.

04

04. “Punerarya” from Shake, Rattle and Roll 12 (director: Jerrold Tarog, 2010) – Hands down, this is one of the best episodes ever in the whole SRR franchise. Jerrold Tarog’s first output stars Carla Abellana as a private tutor to two kids from the neighbor’s funeral parlor. And as secrets were slowly revealed, the tension just escalates further. This one doesn’t get old and is a must watch.

03

03. “RPG Metanoia” (director: Luis Suarez, 2010) – Not for lack of trying, the MMFF has welcomed local animation in the festival. Twice, even (the first one was 2008’s “Dayo sa Mundo ng Elemento”). RPG can brag about being the first Pinoy 3D animated film, but more than that achievement, its dedication in tackling a theme highlighting the rich Philippine culture is admirable.

02

02. “Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo” (director: Jose Javier Reyes, 2006) – On the outside, Kasal’s biggest achievement is how it managed to be a crowd-pleasing film, yet one that critics will positively respond as well. Digging deeper, it’s really not difficult to fall in love with this film. It touches the topic of a traditional Pinoy family whose value for marriage and relationship is as valuable to the whole family, maybe even more so, than to the actual couple. Obviously, the great ensemble elevated the already strong material further.

01

01. “Thy Womb (director: Brillante Mendoza, 2012) – It’s silly when you think about it, that the best film of the festival of the last decade, was just a replacement choice of that year. Shot in the farthest village of Tawi-Tawi, “Thy Womb” wasn’t just the story of a midwife attempt to provide her husband a child, but it also opened us to a culture we aren’t particularly familiar with. I believe this is one of the films that will go down as the best in the history of the festival. Plus, it gave us Nora Aunor’s comeback performance.

So as much as we rant and complain about the MMFF every year, chances are there are one or two entries that will really be worth of our money. This year has the potential to deliver as well.

You can tweet me if you want to talk about this list: @nikowl

67th Primetime Emmy Awards Nomination Predictions: June 2015   Leave a comment

Hi everyone! In less than a month, John Stamos and Uzo Aduba will be announcing the nominees for this year’s Primetime Emmy Awards. The long list of eligible shows and performances is finally out, so this clears up some placements and submissions from the contenders. This will be the second to the last batch of predictions I’ll be doing because the next one would be the final group of nominee predictions which will be available to the week leading to the announcement. Anyway, let’s get the ball rolling, as I also included guest acting categories, as well as writing, directing, and reality/variety.

drama series

DRAMA SERIES:
1. Mad Men
2. Game of Thrones
3. House of Cards
4. Orange is the New Black
5. Empire
6. Downton Abbey
7. Better Call Saul

Next in line:
8. Homeland
9. Justified
10. The Americans

drama actor

LEAD ACTOR, DRAMA
1. Jon Hamm, “Mad Men”
2. Kevin Spacey, “House of Cards”
3. Jeff Daniels, “The Newsroom”
4. Bob Odenkirk, “Better Call Saul”
5. Hugh Bonneville, “Downton Abbey”
6. Terrence Howard, “Empire”

Next in line:
7. Kyle Chandler, “Bloodline”
8. Steve Buscemi, “Boardwalk Empire”
9. Clive Owen, “The Knick”
10. Michael Sheen, “Masters of Sex”

drama actress

LEAD ACTRESS, DRAMA
1. Viola Davis, “How to Get Away with Murder”
2. Taraji Henson, “Empire”
3. Robin Wright, “House of Cards”
4. Claire Danes, “Homeland”
5. Julianna Margulies, “The Good Wife”
6. Michelle Dockery, “Downton Abbey”

Next in line:
7. Elisabeth Moss, “Mad Men”
8. Kerry Washington, “Scandal”
9. Lizzy Caplan, “Masters of Sex”
10. Taylor Schilling, “Orange is the New Black”

drama supp actor

SUPPORTING ACTOR, DRAMA
1. Peter Dinklage, “Game of Thrones”
2. Jonathan Banks, “Better Call Saul”
3. Mandy Patinkin, “Homeland”
4. Jim Carter, “Downton Abbey”
5. Jon Voight, “Ray Donovan”
6. Ben Mendehlson, “Bloodline”

Next in line:
7. Kit Harrington, “Game of Thrones”
8. John Slattery, “Mad Men”
9. Michael Kelly, “House of Cards”
10. Alan Cumming, “The Good Wife”

drama supp actress

SUPPORTING ACTRESS, DRAMA
1. Maggie Smith, “Downton Abbey”
2. Uzo Aduba, “Orange is the New Black”
3. Lena Headey, “Game of Thrones”
4. Christina Hendricks, “Mad Men”
5. Christine Baranski, “The Good Wife”
6. Lorraine Toussant, “Orange is the New Black”

Next in line:
7. Sissy Spacek, “Bloodline”
8. Carrie Coon, “The Leftovers”
9. Joanne Froggatt, “Downton Abbey”
10. Kate Mulgrew, “Orange is the New Black”

drama guest actor

GUEST ACTOR, DRAMA
1. Beau Bridges, “Masters of Sex”
2. Dylan Baker, “The Good Wife”
3. F. Murray Abraham, “Homeland”
4. Sam Shepard, “Bloodline”
5. Michael J. Fox, “The Good Wife”
6. Courtney B. Vance, “Scandal”

Next in line:
7. Robert Morse, “Mad Men”
8. David Hyde Pierce, “The Good Wife”
9. Pablo Schreiber, “Orange is the New Black”
10. Ed Asner, “The Good Wife”

drama guest actress

GUEST ACTRESS, DRAMA
1. Cicely Tyson, “How to Get Away with Murder”
2. Allison Janney, “Masters of Sex”
3. Diana Rigg, “Game of Thrones”
4. Carrie Preston, “The Good Wife”
5. Kate Burton, “Scandal”
6. Margo Martindale, “The Americans”

Next in line:
7. Patricia Arquette, “Boardwalk Empire”
8. Laura Prepon, “Orange is the New Black”
9. Marcia Gay Harden, “How to Get Away with Murder”
10. Ann-Margret, “Ray Donovan”

drama directing

DIRECTING IN A DRAMA SERIES
1. Boardwalk Empire, “Eldorado”
2. Game of Thrones, “Hardhome”
3. Empire, “Pilot”
4. Better Call Saul, “Uno”
5. Orange is the New Black, “Thirsty Bird”

Next in line:
6. Mad Men, “Person to Person”
7. Downton Abbey, “Episode 9″
8. The Knick, “Pilot”
9. House of Cards, “Chapter 39″
10. Homeland, “The Drone Queen”

drama writing

WRITING IN A DRAMA SERIES:
1. Mad Men, “Person to Person”
2. Game of Thrones, “Mother’s Mercy”
3. Downton Abbey, “Episode 8″
4. Better Call Saul, “Uno”
5. Empire, “Pilot”

Next in line:
6. Orange is the New Black, “We Have Manners, We’re Polite”
7. The Affair, “Pilot”
8. House of Cards, “Chapter 39″
9. The Americans, “Stingers”
10. Mad Men, “The Forecast”

comedy series

COMEDY SERIES:
1. Modern Family
2. Veep
3. Transparent
4. Silicon Valley
5. Louie
6. The Big Bang Theory
7. Episodes

Next in line:
8. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
9. Parks and Recreation
10. Grace and Frankie

comedy actor

LEAD ACTOR, COMEDY
1. Jim Parsons, “The Big Bang Theory”
2. Jeffrey Tambor, “Transparent”
3. Louis C.K., “Louie”
4. William H. Macy, “Shameless”
5. Matt Leblanc, “Episodes”
6. Don Cheadle, “House of Lies”

Next in line:
7. Thomas Middleditch, “Silicon Valley”
8. Will Forte, “The Last Man on Earth”
9. Billy Crystal, “The Comedians”
10. Andy Samberg, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”

comedy actress

LEAD ACTRESS, COMEDY
1. Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep”
2. Edie Falco, “Nurse Jackie”
3. Amy Poehler, “Parks and Recreation”
4. Ellie Kemper, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”
5. Lily Tomlin, “Grace and Frankie”
6. Lisa Kudrow, “The Comeback”

Next in line:
7. Amy Schumer, “Inside Amy Schumer”
8. Jane Fonda, “Grace and Frankie”
9. Jane Rodriguez, “Jane the Virgin”
10. Melissa McCarthy, “Mike and Molly”

comedy supp actor

SUPPORTING ACTOR, COMEDY
1. Ty Burrell, “Modern Family”
2. Tony Hale, “Veep”
3. Jesse Tyler Ferguson, “Modern Family”
4. Hugh Laurie, “Veep”
5. Andre Braugher, “Brooklyn Nine Nine”
6. Fred Armisen, “Portlandia”

Next in line:
7. Tituss Burgess, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”
8. TJ Miller, “Silicon Valley”
9. Chris Pratt, “Parks and Recreation”
10. Laurence Fishburne, “Black-ish”

comedy supp actress

SUPPORTING ACTRESS, COMEDY
1. Allison Janney, “Mad Men”
2. Julie Bowen, “Modern Family”
3. Anna Chlumsky, “Veep”
4. Kate McKinnon, “Saturday Night Live”
5. Jane Krakowski, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”
6. Judith Light, “Transparent”

Next in line:
7. Mayim Bialik, “The Big Bang Theory”
8. Sofia Vergara, “Modern Family”
9. Merritt Wever, “Nurse Jackie”
10. Carrie Brownstein, “Portlandia”

comedy guest actor

GUEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
1. Louis C.K., “Saturday Night Live”
2. Bill Hader, “Saturday Night Live”
3. Jon Hamm, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”
4. Steve Buscemi, “Portlandia”
5. Bradley Whitford, “Transparent”
6. Nathan Lane, “Modern Family”

Next in line:
7. Martin Short, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”
8. Billy Bob Thornton, “The Big Bang Theory”
9. Josh Charles, “Inside Amy Schumer”
10. Mel Brooks, “The Comedians”

comedy guest actress

GUEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
1. Joan Cusack, “Shameless”
2. Tina Fey, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”
3. Christine Baranski, “The Big Bang Theory”
4. Rita Moreno, “Jane the Virgin”
5. Kathy Bates, “Mike and Molly”
6. Elizabeth Banks, “Modern Family”

Next in line:
7. Tyne Daly, “Modern Family”
8. Octavia Spencer, “Mom”
9. Carol Burnett, “Glee”
10. Kyra Sedgwick, “Brooklyn Nine Nine”

comedy directing

DIRECTING IN A COMEDY SERIES:
1. Modern Family, “Connection Lost”
2. Louie, “Sleepover”
3. Glee, “2009”
4. Veep, “Testimony”
5. Silicon Valley, “Two Days of the Condor”

Next in line:
6. Transparent, “Best New Girl”
7. Modern Family, “Won’t You Be Our Neighbor”
8. Parks and Recreation, “One Last Ride”
9. Episodes, “409”
10. Grace and Frankie, “The End”

comedy writing

WRITING IN A COMEDY SERIES
1. Louie, “Bobby’s House”
2. Veep, “Election Night”
3. Episodes, “409”
4. Transparent, “Pilot”
5. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, “Kimmy Goes Outside”

Next in line:
6. Silicon Valley, “Two Days of Condor”
7. Parks and Recreation, “One Last Ride”
8. Modern Family, “Connection Lost”
9. Community, “Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television”
10. Jane the Virgin, “Chapter One”

limited series

LIMITED SERIES
1. Olive Kitteridge
2. The Honorable Woman
3. American Horror Story: Freak Show
4. American Crime
5. Wolf Hall

Next in Line:
6. 24: Live Another Day
7. Texas Rising
8. The Casual Vacancy
9. Houdini
10. The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe

tv movie

TV MOVIE:
1. Bessie
2. Nightengale
3. Derek: The Final Chapter
4. Killing Jesus
5. Worricker

Next in line:
6. A Poet In New York
7. Grace of Monaco
8. Stockholm, Pennsylvania
9. Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case
10. Foyle’s War

longform actor

LEAD ACTOR, TV MOVIE/LIMITED SERIES
1. Richard Jenkins, “Olive Kitteridge”
2. David Oyelowo, “Nightengale”
3. Ricky Gervais, “Derek: The Final Chapter”
4. Adrien Brody, “Houdini”
5. Mark Rylance, “Wolf Hall”
6. Kiefer Sutherland, “24: Live Another Day”

Next in line:
7. Timothy Hutton, “American Crime”
8. Bill Paxton, “Texas Rising”
9. Bill Nighy, “Worricker”
10. James Corden, “The Wrong Mans”

longform actress

LEAD ACTRESS, TV MOVIE/LIMITED SERIES
1. Frances McDormand, “Olive Kitteridge”
2. Maggie Gyllenhaal, “The Honorable Woman”
3. Queen Latifah, “Bessie”
4. Jessica Lange, “American Horror Story: Freak Show”
5. Felicity Huffman, “American Crime”
6. Nicole Kidman, “Grace of Monaco”

Next in line:
7. Frances O’Connor, “The Missing”
8. Helena Bonham Carter, “Worricker”
9. Anna Gunn, “Gracepoint”
10. Kelli Garner, “The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe”

longform supp actor

SUPPORTING ACTOR, TV MOVIE/LIMITED SERIES
1. Bill Murray, “Olive Kitteridge”
2. Stephen Rea, “The Honorable Woman”
3. Jonathan Pryce, “Wolf Hall”
4. Michael Chiklis, “American Horror Story: Freak Show”
5. Ralph Fiennes, “Worricker”
6. Michael Kenneth Williams, “Bessie”

Next in line:
7. Damian Lewis, “Wolf Hall”
8. Frank Langella, “Grace of Monaco”
9. Oliver Martinez, “Texas Rising”
10. Tim Roth, “Grace of Monaco”

longform supp actress

SUPPORTING ACTRESS, TV MOVIE/LIMITED SERIES
1. Sarah Paulson, “American Horror Story: Freak Show”
2. Mo’nique, “Bessie”
3. Kathy Bates, “American Horror Story: Freak Show”
4. Janet McTeer, “The Honorable Woman”
5. Susan Sarandon, “The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe”
6. Judy Davis, “Worricker”

Next in line:
7. Regina King, “American Crime”
8. Khandi Alexander, “Bessie”
9. Angela Bassett, “American Horror Story: Freak Show”
10. Zoe Kazan, “Olive Kitteridge”

longform writing

WRITING IN A TV MOVIE/MINISERIES
1. Olive Kitteridge
2. Bessie
3. The Honorable Woman
4. Derek: The Final Chapter
5. Wolf Hall
6. Nightingale

Next in line:
7. American Horror Story: Freak Show, “Monsters Among Us”
8. American Crime: Episode One
9. Killing Jesus
10. Texas Rising, Night 1

longform directing

DIRECTING IN A TV MOVIE/MINISERIES
1. Olive Kitteridge
2. The Honorable Woman
3. Bessie
4. Nightengale
5. Wolf Hall
6. 24: Live Another Day

Next in line:
7. American Horror Story: Freak Show, “Monsters Among Us”
8. Derek: The Final Chapter
9. The Casual Vacancy
10. American Crime, “Episode One”

reality comp

REALITY SHOW/COMPETITION:
1. The Amazing Race
2. The Voice
3. Top Chef
4. Dancing with the Stars
5. Project Runway
6. So You Think You Can Dance

Next in line:
7. Rupaul’s Drag Race
8. Hollywood Game Night
9. Survivor
10. American Idol

reality comp host

REALITY SHOW/COMPETITION HOST:
1. Jane Lynch, “Hollywood Game Night”
2. Anthony Bourdain, “The Taste”
3. Heidi Klum, Tim Gunn, “Project Runway”
4. Cat Deeley, “So You Think You Can Dance”
5. Tom Bergeron, “Dancing with the Stars”
6. Phil Keoghan, “The Amazing Race”

Next in line:
7. Rupaul Charles, “Rupaul’s Drag Race”
8. Carson Daly, “The Voice”
9. Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio, “Top Chef”
10. Jeff Probst, “Survivor”

variety talk

VARIETY TALK SERIES:
1. The Colbert Report
2. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
3. Late Show with David Letterman
4. The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
5. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
6. Real Time with Bill Maher

Next in line:
7. Jimmy Kimmel Live!
8. Late Late Show with James Corden

Talk to me about it by tweeting me: @nikowl

38th Gawad Urian Winner Predictions   Leave a comment

Probably the only remaining legit among the traditional awards ceremonies (sorry Golden Screen Awards), the Manunuri will be handling out their picks from the best of 2014 cinema in two days. And just like what I did last year where I got 7/12 of my predictions correct, I’ll throw my hunch on who’ll be winning the Gawad Urian for this year!

best pic

BEST PICTURE:
“Barber’s Tales”
“Bwaya”
“Dagitab”
“Mula sa Kung Ano ang Noon”

Unlike last year when it’s an easy given that Norte is so winning the top award, this year is much more difficult to pin. These four films have amassed a total of 42 nominations, so to say that the Manunuri loved them equally is just. I would have picked Mula sa Kung Ano Ang Noon in a heartbeat especially after its Locarno victory, but if we have to base at Urian’s recent history, they’re all after spreading the wealth. So a Lav film winning back to back might be of a disadvantage. But then again, it’s not easy to dismiss any of these four films. The funny thing is a lot of these films remind me of the recent winners in this category. Just like 2012 Best Picture winner “Ang Paglalakabay ng Mga Bituin sa Gabing Madilim“, both Bwaya an Barber’s Tales represent a bigger political statement which the Manunuri can find relevant. If not that, then the poetic nature of Dagitab can follow the footsteps of 2011 winner “Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa.” It’s really anybody’s ballgame, but if I have to make a prediction, I’ll go with Jun Lana’s film as my prediction.

Prediction: Barber’s Tales
Alternate: 
Bwaya

best director

BEST DIRECTOR:
Giancarlo Abraham (“Dagitab”)
Lav Diaz (“Mula sa Kung Ano ang Noon”)
Jun Lana (“Barber’s Tales”)
Jason Paul Laxamana (“Magkakabaung”)
Francis Xavier Pasion (“Bwaya”)
Kanakan Balintagos (“Esprit de Corps”)

No director has ever won in this category’s history for a film that wasn’t nominated for Best Picture so that tends to affect both Jason Paul Laxamana and Kanakan Balintagos’ chances here. And as last year proved, when one of the only two Urian-less directors managed to end up winning the category, the Urian loves to spread its wealth. Thus, I’m checking off Lav Diaz. I think Giancarlo Abraham has a better chance of winning in Screenplay, so that leaves me with Jun Lana and Francis Pasion, Pasion has won Screenplay in 2008 for Jay, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Urian puts him in the big leagues and go with a Barber’s/Bwaya Picture-Director split especially since the last two years have been split too. That said, I’ll stick with a Jun Lana win here to match with my predicted Best Picture win for Barber’s Tales.

Prediction: Jun Lana, “Barber’s Tales” 
Alternate: 
Francis Pasion, “Bwaya

best actor

BEST ACTOR:
Robert Arevalo (“Hari ng Tondo”)
Noni Buencamino (“Dagitab”)
Allen Dizon (“Magkakabaung”)
JM de Guzman (“That Thing Called Tadhana”)
Sandino Martin (“Esprit de Corps”)
Robin Padilla (“Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo”)
Arnold Reyes (“Kasal”)
Jericho Rosales (“Red”)
JC Santos (“Esprit de Corps”)
Dennis Trillo (“The Janitor”)

There seems to be a number of overdue actors here, but first, let’s eliminate those previous winners who aren’t likely to pull off a repeat win that quick. 2005 winner Robin Padilla (whose nomination this year still makes no sense to me) and 2012 winner Jericho Rosales seem filler nominations this year. Both Esprit de Corps actors are likely to split votes which doesn’t bode well for their chances. Then we have Robert Arevalo on his fifth career nod, Noni Buencamino on his fourth, and JM de Guzman and Dennis Trillo on their third tries. I see a possibility for Arnold Reyes to win this one, but if I have to choose I’d place my bets on one time nominee Allen Dizon who’s just on a roll these last few months sweeping off Best Actor trophies both here and in the international scene. If not him, then maybe a make up win for Dennis Trillo. Remember when he was thisclose to pull off the grandslam in 2004 for Aishite Imasu after sweeping the Star Awards, FAMAS, and Luna only to be spoiled by Wendell Ramos at the Urian the last minute? This can be their atonement for him.

Prediction: Allen Dizon, “Magkakabaung” 
Alternate: 
Dennis Trillo, “The Janitor

best actress

BEST ACTRESS:
Nora Aunor (“Dementia”)
Angeli Bayani (“Bwaya”)
Ai Ai De las Alas (“Ronda”)
Eugene Domingo (“Barber’s Tales”)
Hazel Orencio (“Mula sa Kung Ano ang Noon”)
Angelica Panganiban (“The Thing Called Tadhana”)
Eula Valdez (“Dagitab”)
Nova Villa (“1st Ko si 3rd”)

Can this be the year when Nora Aunor finally ties current leader Vilma Santos’ record of most number of Urian Best Actress wins with 7? With Aunor being the recipient of the Natatangiang Gawad Urian, methinks the answer is no and that they’ll likely wait for another year to do that. Considering they are their film’s sole nods, I think the nomination is the reward for both Aiai delas Alas and Nova Villa. It’s quite a feat that all four Best Picture nominees have their leading ladies contending in this category as well, so that puts them on equal footing, if not only current Best Actress Angeli Bayani is gunning for a back to back win here. That said, Eugene Domingo is in her fifth nomination and this can be the perfect vehicle for her to take the trophy. After all, this is a departure from her usual nominated comedic performances. And then there’s Angelica Panganiban. It felt like in Angelica’s case, getting the nomination is the biggest hurdle. Will the Manunuri go for her light fared performance? The answer was yes, and this can be a rehash of 2011 when they gave a relatively younger actress the Urian (Maja Salvador). In the end, I’d give the odds to Eugene Domingo, but I won’t be surprised to hear Angelica’s name come awards night.

Prediction: Eugene Domingo, “Barber’s Tales”
Alternate: 
Angelica Panganiban, “That Thing Called Tadhana”

best supp actor

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:
Nico Antonio (“Red”)
Roeder Camañag (“Mula sa Kung Ano ang Noon”)
Martin del Rosario (“Dagitab”)
Joel Lamangan (“Violator”)
Nicco Manalo (“Barber’s Tales”)
Karl Medina (“Bwaya”)
Jess Mendoza (“Mauban: Ang Resiko”)
Noel Santodomingo (“Mula sa Kung Ano ang Noon”)

First off, apologies for the lack of Noel Santodomingo photo. I really can’t find one and it has took me hours already trying to search for it. Moving on, the Urian Best Supporting Actor is the counterpart of the Oscar Best Actress one, I must say. If the Oscars love its Best Actress young and pretty, this category has been the home of relatively young actors. Since 2000, the category has rewarded Jeffrey Quizon (in 2000), Piolo Pascual (2002), Ketchup Eusebio (2005), Rafael Rossell (2006), Coco Martin (2008), Joem Bascon (2010), and current winner Junjun Qintana (2013). Thus, for the shallowest reasons, I predict Martin del Rosario to win this one. After all, Dagitab is bound to win at least one acting award no? So maybe this is where it happens. if not him, then maybe Joel Lamangan gets his first Urian acting win via Violator.

Prediction: Martin del Rosario, “Dagitab
Alternate: 
Joel Lamangan, “Violator

best supp actress

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
Shamaine Buencamino (“Barber’s Tales”)
Iza Calzado (“Barber’s Tales”)
Alessandra de Rossi (“Mauban: Ang Resiko”)
Barbie Forteza (“Marquina”)
Karenina Haniel (“Mula sa Kung Ano ang Noon”)
Gladys Reyes (“Magkakabaung”)
Gloria Sevilla (“M: Mother’s Maiden Name”)

The past two years made it easy to guess the winner considering that both Alessandra de Rossi and Angel Aquino were double nominated in this category. That’s why I’m a bit surprised that Gladys Reyes wasn’t considering the amount of love the acting from Barber’s Tales received. Maybe Barbie Forteza wins it, though the Urian hasn’t awarded a young actress here since Serena Dalrymple in 1998 and she was even younger. Iza and Alessandra both have won already, and Shamaine Buencamino is the only multiple nominee who hasn’t won yet. I guess I’ll go with Karenina Haniel here, whose role also stands out among the rest of the pack.

Prediction: Karenina Haniel, “Mula sa Kung Ano Ang Noon
Alternate: 
Barbie Forteza, “Mariquina

And as for the rest of the categories…

SCREENPLAY:
Prediction:
Giancarlo Abrahan, “Dagitab”
Alternate:
Jun Lana, “Barber’s Tales

PRODUCTION DESIGN:
Prediction: Chito Sumera, “Barber’s Tales
Alternate: Hal Balbuena, “Esprit de Corps”

CINEMATOGRAPHY:
Prediction: Neil Daza, “Bwaya
Alternate: Rommel Sales, “Dagitab

MUSIC:
Prediction: Jesse Lucas, “Alienasyon
Alternate: Mon Espia, “Dagitab

EDITING:
Prediction: Carlo Manatad, “Bwaya”
Alternate: Lav Diaz, “Mula sa Kung Ano Ang Noon

SOUND:
Prediction: Mark Locsin, “Mula sa Kung Ano Ang Noon”
Alternate: Corrine de San Jose, “Violator

The 38th Gawad Urian Awards will be shown live on Tuesday, June 16 over at Cinema One.

Talk about it and follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

Posted June 14, 2015 by Nicol Latayan in Uncategorized

67th Primetime Emmy Awards Nomination Predictions: May 2015   Leave a comment

Welp after three long months, I finally made a blog post! I thought my blog was dead already. And for quite some time, it really was. But I’m slowly starting to balance blogging and working (hopefully!), so I’m slowly trying to revive it back. Anyway, if I won’t be able to update here, you can follow my Oscar and Emmy predictions on Awards Watch since I’m doing Emmy expert and Oscar guru duties over there (heads up: that site is the best when it comes to predicting these awards stuff, and it’s the one place you should really subscribe to. Double heads up: It gets catty here and there, but trust me it’s fun there!). As TV season is about to end this month,I’ll offer my first batch of Emmy predictions in 16 different categories!

DRAMA CATEGORIES:

drama

DRAMA SERIES:
01. Mad Men (AMC)
02. Game of Thrones (HBO)
03. House of Cards (Netflix)
04. Orange is the New Black (Netflix)
05. Better Call Saul (AMC)
06. Downton Abbey (PBS)
07. Empire (Fox)

Next in line:
08. Homeland (Showtime)
09. The Affair (Showtime)
10. The Good Wife (CBS)
11. Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
12. Justified (FX)

DRAMA LEAD ACTOR:
01. Kevin Spacey, “House of Cards
02. Jon Hamm, “Mad Men
03. Bob Odenkirk, “Better Call Saul
04. Jeff Daniels, “The Newsroom
05. Hugh Bonneville, “Downton Abbey
06. Terrence Howard, “Empire

Next in line:
07. Steve Buscemi, “Boardwalk Empire
08. Kyle Chandler, “Bloodline
09. Dominic West, “The Affair
10. Clive Owen, “The Knick
11. Michael Sheen, “Masters of Sex
12. James Spader, “The Blacklist

DRAMA LEAD ACTRESS:
01. Viola Davis, “How to Get Away with Murder
02. Julianna Margulies, “The Good Wife
03. Robin Wright, “House of Cards
04. Claire Danes, “Homeland
05. Taraji P. Henson, “Empire
06. Elisabeth Moss, “Mad Men

Next in line:
07. Michelle Dockery, “Downton Abbey
08. Kerry Washington, “Scandal
09. Lizzy Caplan, “Masters of Sex
10. Tatiana Maslany, “Orphan Black
11. Ruth Wilson, “The Affair
12. Taylor Schilling, “Orange is the New Black

DRAMA SUPPORTING ACTOR:
01. Peter Dinklage, “Game of Thrones
02. Jonathan Banks, “Better Call Saul
03. Mandy Patinkin, “Homeland
04. Jim Carter, “Downton Abbey
05. Jon Voight, “Ray Donovan
06. Ben Mendelsohn, “Bloodline

Next in line:
07. Michael Kelly, “House of Cards
08. Christopher Eccleston, “The Leftovers
09. John Slattery, “Mad Men
10. Sam Shepard, “Bloodline
11. Alan Cumming, “The Good Wife
12. Walton Goggins, “Justified

DRAMA SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
01. Maggie Smith, “Downton Abbey
02. Uzo Aduba, “Orange is the New Black
03. Christina Hendricks, “Mad Men
04. Christine Baranski, “The Good Wife”
05. Lena Headey, “Game of Thrones
06. Sissy Spacek, “Bloodline

Next in line:
07. Joanne Froggatt, “Downton Abbey
08. Lorraine Toussant, “Orange is the New Black
09. Carrie Coon, “The Leftovers
10. Emilia Clarke, “Game of Thrones
11. Archie Panjabi, “The Good Wife
12. Ann Dowd, “The Leftovers”

 COMEDY CATEGORIES:

comedy

COMEDY SERIES:
01. Modern Family (ABC)
02. Veep (HBO)
03. The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
04. Louie (FX)
05. Silicon Valley (HBO)
06. Transparent (Netflix)
07. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)

Next in line:
08. Episodes (Showtime)
09. Grace and Frankie (Netflix)
10. Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox)
11. Girls (HBO)
12. Parks and Recreation (NBC)

COMEDY LEAD ACTOR:
01. Jim Parsons, “The Big Bang Theory
02. Jeffrey Tambor, “Transparent”
03. Louis CK, “Louie
04. William H. Macy, “Shameless
05. Matt LeBlanc, “Episodes
06. Don Cheadle, “House of Lies

Next in line:
07. Billy Crystal, “The Comedians
08. Thomas Middleditch, “Silicon Valley
09. Will Forte, “The Last Man on Earth
10. Andy Samberg, “Brooklyn Nine Nine
11. Anthony Anderson, “Black-ish
12. Johnny Galecki, “The Big Bang Theory

COMEDY LEAD ACTRESS:
01. Julia Louis Dreyfus, “Veep
02. Edie Falco, “Nurse Jackie
03. Amy Poehler, “Parks and Recreation
04. Lily Tomlin, “Grace and Frankie”
05. Ellie Kemper, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
06. Lisa Kudrow, “The Comeback

Next in line:
07. Jane Fonda, “Grace and Frankie
08. Gina Rodriguez, “Jane the Virgin
09. Melissa McCarthy, “Mike and Molly
10. Amy Schumer, “Inside Amy Schumer
11. Lena Dunham, “Girls
12. Emmy Rossum, “Shameless

COMEDY SUPPORTING ACTOR:
01. Ty Burrell, “Modern Family
02. Tony Hale, “Veep
03. Hugh Laurie, “Veep
04. Jesse Tyler Ferguson, “Modern Family
05. Andre Braugher, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine
06. Fred Armisen, “Portlandia

Next in line:
07. Laurence Fishburne, “Black-ish
08. Martin Sheen, “Grace and Frankie
09. Eric Stonestreet, “Modern Family
10. Adam Driver, “Girls
11. Tituss Burgess, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
12. Sam Waterston, “Grace and Frankie

COMEDY SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
01. Allison Janney, “Mom
02. Julie Bowen, “Modern Family
03. Kate McKinnon, “Saturday Night Live
04. Anna Chlumsky, “Veep
05. Jane Krakowski, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
06. Mayim Bialik, “The Big Bang Theory

Next in line:
07. Judith Light, “Transparent
08. Sofia Vergara, “Modern Family
09. Gaby Hoffman, “Transparent
10. Merritt Wever, “Nurse Jackie
11. Carrie Brownstein, “Portlandia
12. Eden Sher, “The Middle

LONGFORM CATEGORIES:

longform

LIMITED SERIES:
01. Olive Kitteridge (HBO)
02. The Honorable Woman (Sundance Channel)
03. American Crime (ABC)
04. American Horror Story: Freak Show (FX)
05. Wolf Hall (PBS)

Next in line:
06. Texas Rising (History)
07. Houdini (History)
08. The Casual Vacancy (HBO)
09. 24: Live Another Day (Fox)
10. The Missing (Starz)

TV MOVIE:
01. Bessie (HBO)
02. Killing Jesus (National Geographic)
03. Nightingale (HBO)
04. A Poet in New York (BBC America)
05. Derek: The Final Chapter (Netflix)

Next in line:
06. Worricker (PBS)
07. Stockholm, Pennsylvania (Lifetime)
08. Hello Ladies: The Movie (HBO)
09. Grace of Monaco (Lifetime)
10. Whitney (Lifetime)

LEAD ACTOR IN A TV MOVIE/LIMITED SERIES:
01. Richard Jenkins, “Olive Kitteridge
02. Ricky Gervais, “Derek: The Final Chapter
03. Adrien Brody, “Houdini
04. David Oyelowo, “Nightingale
05. Mark Rylance, “Wolf Hall
06. Kiefer Sutherland, “24: Live Another Day

Next in line:
07. Timothy Hutton, “American Crime
08. Damian Lewis, “Wolf Hall
09. Bill Paxton, “Texas Rising
10. James Nesbitt, “The Missing
11. Zachary Quinto, “The Slap
12. Bill Nighy, “Worricker

LEAD ACTRESS IN A TV MOVIE/MINISERIES
01. Frances McDormand, “Olive Kitteridge
02. Maggie Gyllenhaal, “The Honorable Woman
03. Queen Latifah, “Bessie
04. Jessica Lange, “American Horror Story: Freak Show
05. Felicity Huffman, “American Crime
06. Nicole Kidman, “Grace of Monaco

Next in line:
07. Frances O’Connor, “The Missing
08. Helena Bonham Carter, “Worricker
09. Saoirse Ronan, “Stockholm, Pennsylvania
10. Anna Gunn, “Gracepoint
11. Allison Williams, “Peter Pan Live
12. Aunjanue Ellis, “The Book of Negores”

SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A TV MOVIE/MINISERIES
01. Bill Murray, “Olive Kitteridge
02. Stephen Rea, “The Honorable Woman
03. Michael Chiklis, “American Horror Story: Freak Show
04. Michael Kenneth Williams, “Bessie
05. Jonathan Pryce, “Wolf Hall
06. Ralph Fiennes, “Worricker

Next in line:
07. Frank Langella, “Grace of Monaco
08. Finn Wittrock, “American Horror Story: Freak Show
09. Michael Gambon, “The Casual Vacancy
10. Kris Kristoferson, “Texas Rising
11. Tim Roth, “Grace of Monaco
12. Louis Gossett, Jr., “ The Book of Negroes

SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A TV MOVIE/MINISERIES
01. Sarah Paulson, “American Horror Story: Freak Show”
02. Mo’nique, “Bessie
03. Kathy Bates, “American Horror Story: Freak Show
04. Janet McTeer, “The Honorable Woman
05. Judy Davis, “Worricker
06. Khandi Alexander, “Bessie

Next in line:
07. Regina King, “American Crime
08. Susan Sarandon, “The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe
09. Blythe Danner, “The Slap
10. Angela Bassett, “American Horror Story: Freak Show
11. Zoe Kazan, “Olive Kitteridge
12. Parker Posey, “Grace of Monaco

You can talk to me about it by popping a comment below or tweeting me: @nikowl

Posted May 10, 2015 by Nicol Latayan in Uncategorized

87th Academy Awards: Best Picture Rankings   2 comments

 

bp 2015

Before the Oscars bestow their list of winners on Monday, it’s time to rank the Oscar Best Picture nominees for film year 2014. Unlike in 2012 and 2013 though though, it’s the first time that the Academy nominated only eight films for the top award. It’s a pretty good batch as a whole, though I have lots of reservations with the films in it, and how I wish Gone Girl made it over some of these clunkers in this batch. Anyway, here are my rankings:

IMITATION

08. THE IMITATION GAME
Director: Morten Tyldum

In first of the two British Oscar-contending films this year, this one is about one of Britain’s uncelebrated heroes of his time. Alan Turing has a very interesting story to tell; his team was able to crack the “unbreakable” Enigma leading to a World War II victory. The achievement would be of no value though as he was prosecuted for his homosexuality. What could have been a narration of such story was put to waste with the film’s very pedestrian treatment to it. Hackneyed dialogue, cliched treatment, and uneven focus on the story made the whole film totally disengaging. As if that’s not offensive yet, Benedict Cumberbatch’s campy portrayal is equally eye-roll worthy. With subtlety not existing in his dictionary, Cumberbatch spits every syllable of every word in every line as if it’s his last. Leave it to the sublime Keira Knightley to save the film, together with Alexander Desplat’s score. What might be the biggest missed opportunity here was the film just glossing over a part of Turing’s life that deserved the most attention. Oh well.

2.5/5

theory of everything

07. THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING
Director: James Marsh

The second of the two British-Oscar contending films this year, this one is about celebrated science figure Stephen Hawking. His name, probably more known because of The Big Bang Theory above many other reasons, has an equally compelling story to tell, and director James Marsh milked it for all its worth. Theory completed the handbook of how to do an Oscar-baity movie 101 highlighting the romance and the disease and the drama in succession. I have to say that I was initially hooked but easily worn out by the film’s cinematography using endless filters that really doesn’t offer much except to inform us that hey they really do have lots of filters. The film does a successful job of reminding us that it’s the British cousin of A Beautiful Mind, and if you digged that one, chances are you’d really enjoy this as well. Unlike Cumberbatch in Imitation Game, the only thing I appreciated about the film is Eddie Redmayne’s completely dedicated performance as Hawking. There is more than just the physicality of the role that he embraced which made it work. He might not be my pick for Best Actor at the Oscars, but one can’t deny that he did justice with his character.

2.5/5

american sniper

06. AMERICAN SNIPER
Director: Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood, except for that Best Director nomination, is back to Oscar’s good graces with his latest effort. American Sniper is based on the life story of Chris Kyle — known as the deadliest marksman in the US military with 255 bodies credited under his name. Aided by Bradley Cooper’s intense performance of Kyle, he manages to carry the whole film in his shoulders in spite of the noticeable flaws in the writing. While Eastwood delivered on the technical aspects further escalating the tension and making us feel the nitty gritty of it all (the whole sandstorm part in particular), the film weakens every time it shifts to Kyle’s own personal dilemma of dealing with his PTSD. I wasn’t even bothered by its by the numbers approach nor Eastwood’s political (or apolitical, depending on how you view it) favoring of his own take on militarism in the film. American Sniper could have been a more affecting film had it managed to strike the balance of both, but where one aspect Eastwood delivered, the other lacked. For what its worth, it’s still a solid, if not a bit pedestrian, and decent tribute to someone others consider as a figure of their American hero.

3/5

birdman

05. BIRDMAN
Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

There’s a lot of things I loved about Inarritu’s Birdman. As for starters, there’s Michael Keaton’s comeback performance. And Edward Norton’s larger than life character. Then there’s the dark absurdity of the whole film which easily grabs your attention. Plus, the one long take approach of it. Lubezki’s cinematography and Antoio Sanchez’ underrated scoring are also top notch. While all of these seem to mesh out well to create a masterpiece, it still feels a bit underwhelming and not that exhilarating cinematic treat for me. The film has been too self-absorbed to the point that its ‘mocking’ of portraying Hollywood is as foolish as its portrayal of such. Birdman for me is a case of the individual parts being better than its sum where the gimmick hasn’t really stayed that much for me.

3.5/5

selma

04. SELMA
Director: Ava Duvernay

What makes the experience of cinema fascinating is when you witness a story, that in no way, shape, or form involves you, but touches your heart with what it presented to you. That is what Ava Duvernay did with Selma. On the outside, one might consider it as another general biopic advocating the human triumph, but what makes Selma much more sophisticated is that there is a raw sincerity with the lines, and the portrayals, and the technical peaks that it is definitely on a higher pedestal. What Duvernay accomplished here is to flaunt her cinematic potential while retelling a story whose effect aligned with the personal journey of the people during its time. Also, David Oyelowo’s snub will easily go down as one of the worst ever in Academy history. Selma is sensible and sincere that you can’t help but be affected by it.

4/5

the grand budapest hotel

03. THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
Director: Wes Anderson

It’s really difficult to pin down Wes Anderson films since there’s a lot that we can discuss about his efforts, but I guess let’s start with the obvious. In true Anderson fashion, this one is probably his most deliciously looking film ever. One thing I’ve always appreciated about him is how he builds his own world and that it elevates the whole movie watching experience. In here, the Budapest hotel isn’t merely a background because it’s a star of its own with its use of wide space and set. And can we talk about Milena Canonero’s costume design here? ASTONISHING. With that said, the real deal here is Anderson’s storytelling. I’ve felt that it was his own homage to arts in general. His take on loyalty, passionate love, death, first love, and friendship among others was written with both poignancy and silly humor. Plus, of course that ever reliable ensemble with Ralph Fiennes front and center. Budapest is funny yet tragic, charming and whimsical, and a very delightful movie experience. 

4.5/5

WHIPLASH

02. WHIPLASH
Director: Damian Chazelle

A year after his short film of the same title won the Short Film Jury Prize award at last year’s Sundance, Damien Chazelle translated “Whiplash” into a full length feature film and has made the festival rounds from Sundance to Cannes and Toronto the past few months. The film tells the story of aspiring jazz drummer Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller) who undergoes training under notorious jazz conductor Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) who has an atypical way of mentoring his students. The film did not waste any opportunity to build the intensity as we’ve seen from the interaction of Andrew and Terence in the opening scene. And there’s no stopping from there. Well crafted for the most part, particularly its creative, albeit really showy, editing and the musical score which heightens the tension further. Chazelle directs this with such precision making his audience feel the same discomfort that his characters feel, and his screenplay did not box the people as simply black and white; instead he composed them as larger than life ones — probably juxtaposed with the characters’ ambitions. J.K Simmons was every inch scary as the foul mouthed, no holds barred perfectionist maestro and there’s a level of brutality that his presence exudes. Rhythmically in sync though was Miles Teller, who should be given equal credit as he plays to Simmons’ level letting his Andrew be intimidated yet inspired with his verbal abuse. Whiplash is a painful reminder that greatness is no easy feat and that it literally takes blood, sweat, and tears to be achieved.

4.5/5

boyhood

01. BOYHOOD
Director: Richard Linklater

Richard Linklater’s 12 year in the making masterpiece is as ambitious as one can get, but the simple and organic approach in its depiction of a slice (is it even just a slice?) of life is certainly one of the most emotionally affecting movie watching experience I’ve ever had. This film follows the life of a kid, Mason, for 12 years as he experiences the highs and lows of his life. It wasn’t really alienating per se since Linklater is very much self-aware that Mason and everyone around him are as ordinary as us or the people around us. Its depiction of “life just going by” is probably one of the least pretentious yet most effective I have ever seen not because of the statement that it leaves, but by refusing to dictate such. There’s a line in the film mentioned by Patricia Arquette where she said “I just thought there would be more…”, and that perfectly sums up the film for me – that the experiences and the time that already passed by can either be a memory of what we were before and a reminder of what have become. Despite running for 165 minutes, I would have been more than fine to see two to three more hours of it. Its use of pop culture references (Pokemon! Harry Potter! Lady Gaga!) and music (Coldplay! Aaliyah! Family of the Year!) is a highlight to this experience as well. In the end, more than the achievement of such a “stunt” project (if one can even call it that), what makes Linklater’s Boyhood every inch effective and memorable is that it was able to capture the accuracy of one’s growing up beyond its literal meaning. The feelings you invested in these characters are too much and too deep that you just don’t want it to end. Well in my case, I really don’t.

5/5

How many have you seen from this year’s batch? Which are your favorites? And who would you be rooting for come Oscar night? Talk to me about it by tweeting me: @nikowl

 

 

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