88th Oscar Foreign Language Film: What Should the Philippines Submit?   2 comments

frontrunners

It’s that time of the year again when we try to clinch that historic first Oscar nomination for the Philippines in the Best Foreign Language Film category at the Academy Awards. Back in 1953 when we first submitted Manuel Conde’s Genghis Khan up until to Lav Diaz’ Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan last year, the Philippines has yet to be nominated for an Oscar. Will the 27th time be the charm for us?

As per the Academy rulebook, to be qualified as an eligible submission, “The motion picture must be first released in the country submitting it no earlier than October 1, 2014, and no later than September 30, 2015, and be first publicly exhibited for at least seven consecutive days in a commercial motion picture theater for the profit of the producer and exhibitor.

It has to be cleared that this ISN’T the final shortlist from the Film Academy of the Philippines yet, and are just mere speculations. These are the potential contenders for 2014, divided into three different groups.

FRONTRUNNERS:

Kid Kulafu

KID KULAFU
Director: Paul Soriano
Screenplay: Froilan Medina
Cast: Robert Villar, Alessandra de Rossi, Cesar Montano, Alex Medina
Philippine Release Date: April 15, 2015

Before he became one of the world’s greatest boxers, Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao was a young boy living a hand-to-mouth existence, trying to survive from one day to the next.

This one hits so many boxes in the Academy already: Biopic? Yes. Success story? Yes. A known personality? Yes, I’m certain a lot of Americans do know his name. It received great to favorable reviews, and while this isn’t a huge box office hit (releasing a week before The Avengers isn’t really the most inspired playdate), it has enough reasons to be submitted by the country. As we all know, Oscars isn’t solely about being the greatest film out there and most of the time, it’s more about the politics. I can see the movie benefiting from a push from Star Cinema and/or Manny Pacquiao himself. While I don’t see a clear path for it giving us our first nomination, it will be a decent enough submission from the country.

Magkakabaung

MAGKAKABAUNG (The Coffin Maker)
Director: Jason Paul Laxamana
Screenplay: Jason Paul Laxamana
Cast: Allen Dizon, Gladys Reyes, Emilio Garcia, Chanel Latorre
Philippine Release Date: December 17, 2014

This Metro Manila Film Festival New Wave entry picked up Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor for lead star Allen Dizon back in December. It has also toured a lot of foreign film festivals from Harlem (where Dizon, once again, won Best Actor) to Hanoi (winning NETPAC’s Best Asian Film and another plum for Dizon) and even had a screening in San Francisco already. So quality isn’t definitely its problem. That said, its weak aspect is how its campaign will be handled once submitted. It will need a lot of money for screenings, and that’ll hurt its chances. If submitted, it’ll be one of the better films we’ve submitted quality-wise, but one which we’ll also know won’t advance much in the competition.

Mula sa Kung Ano Ang Noon

MULA SA KUNG ANO ANG NOON (From What is Before)
Director: Lav Diaz
Screenplay: Lav Diaz
Cast: Hazel Orencio, Karenina Haniel, Mailes Kanapi, Noel Sto. Domingo, Roeder,
Philippine Release Date: August 12, 2015

The Philippines, 1972. Mysterious things are happening in a remote barrio. Wails are heard from the forest, cows are hacked to death, a man is found bleeding to death at the crossroad and houses are burned. Ferdinand E. Marcos announces Proclamation No. 1081 putting the entire country under Martial Law.

I’ve also written about this in my piece last year, thinking it will qualify then. That said, Mula still holds the title of winning the single highest honor for the country in a foreign filmfest with its Locarno victory last year. Black and white isn’t even a problem since the current champion in this category (Poland’s Ida) is also black and white. However, its long screentime (running time of 338 minutes) will hurt it. Sure the longest running film to win an Oscar (running for 431 minutes) is in this category with the Russian film “War and Peace” in 1968, but that was more than 40 years ago, and recently, films running for three hours plus have already suffered even in the Top 9 voting.  If the Academy failed to go for a more accessible and more buzzed Norte, I think the reception will be more lukewarm to this.

Taklub

TAKLUB (Trap)
Director: Brillante Mendoza
Screenplay: Honeylyn Joy Alipio
Cast: Nora Aunor, Julio Diaz, Lou Veloso, Aaron Rivera, Ruby Ruiz, Soliman Cruz
Philippine Release Date: September 16, 2015

After the Supertyphoon Haiyan, which changed the city of Tacloban in the Philippines into its horrendous state, the lives of Bebeth, Larry and Erwin intertwine. The survivors are left to search for the dead, while keeping their sanity intact, and protecting what little faith there may be left. A series of events continue to test their endurance.

It’s a bit surprising when you think about it that a Brillante Mendoza film hasn’t been entered yet for a submission despite his Cannes win and his stature now as one of the two (the other being Lav Diaz) who has mostly represented Philippines in world cinema. But then again, he hasn’t had many commercial releases for his film. His first miss was in 2012 when Venice entry Thy Womb was passed over for eventual submission, Hannah Espia’s Transit. This year can change though with his Un Certain Regard entry Taklub. Taklub has the early buzz already receiving good word of mouth from Cannes back in May and has been his best-reviewed film yet among his Cannes entries. It also touches a Filipino topic (survivors of the typhoon Haiyan which devastated the country in 2013), and has screen legend Nora Aunor in the forefront. This has almost all the elements…except for the commercial screening release. It was supposed to be release last August 19, but it did not materialize. Other websites report that it’s moving to September 16 (which will make it qualified), so unless it won’t make the screening schedule, we have a formidable contender with this.

POTENTIAL SHORTLIST MENTIONS:

Batch 2

Don’t be surprised to see any of these films in this group make it in the final shortlist.

BONIFACIO: ANG UNANG PANGULO
Director: Enzo Williams
Screenplay: Keiko Aquino, Carlo Obispo, Enzo WIlliams
Cast: Robin Padilla, Vina Morales, Daniel Padilla, Eddie Garcia, Jasmine Curtis
Philippine Release Date: December 25, 2014

It seems like every time we have a historical movie that tackles about our heroes, they instantly get a pass or an easy route to a shortlist mention (Supremo and El Presidente in 2012, Baler in 2008). Sure, “war” is a baity topic to the Academy as one can get, but we don’t have to be as predictable as that one.

EDNA
Director: Ronnie Lazaro
Screenplay: Lally Bucoy
Cast: Irma Adlawan, Ronnie Lazaro, Sue Prado, Kiko Matos, Nicco Manalo, Mara Marasigan
Philippine Release Date: May 20, 2015

We’ve already tried to submit two OFW (overseas Filipino workers) in the past: Rory Quintos’ Anak starring Vilma Santos in 2000 and Hannah Espia’s Transit in 2012 but to no avail. Heck, even countries submitting their own films with Filipino househelpers (Anthony Chen’s Iloilo) didn’t even work for them. So I doubt this one which got weaker reviews and poor box office would seal the deal.

HARI NG TONDO (WHERE I AM KING)
Director: Carlos Siguion-Reyna
Screenplay: Bibeth Orteza
Cast: Robert Arevalo, Cris Villonco, Rafa Siguion-Reyna, Rez Cortez, Liza Lorena, Aiza Seguerra
Philippine Release Date: October 1, 2014

The country has a tendency to submit lightweight entries (Crying Ladies in 2003, Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros in 2006, Ded na si Lolo in 2009, Ang Babae sa Septic Tank in 2011, and Bwakaw in 2012), so I wouldn’t be surprised if this ends up in the shortlist. That and the fact that it got a Toronto run at TIFF last year, and that we’ve submitted a Carlos Siguion-Reyna movie already in the past (1995’s Inagaw mo Ang Lahat Sa Akin), so it makes sense to see in the lineup.

HENERAL LUNA
Director: Jerrold Tarog
Screenplay: Henry Francia, E.A. Rocha, Jerrold Tarog
Cast: John Arcilla, Mon Confiado, Epi Quizon, Joem Bascon, Art Acuna, Arron Villaflor
Philippine Release Date: September 9, 2015

Directed by Jerrold Tarog, this huge epic film chronicles the life of one of the more prominent heroes in Filipino history — General Antonio Luna in his quest to achieve the promise of the Philippine Revolution. While there’s no mistaking that this will be met with good reviews, my only reservation with this is that it will cancel out with the other “hero” movie Bonifacio, in the same vein that both Supremo and El Presidente probably targeted the same demographics two years ago.

THE JANITOR
Director: Michael Tuviera
Screenplay: Aloy Adlawan
Cast: Dennis Trillo, Richard Gomez, Ricky Davao, Derek Ramsay, Nicco Manalo, Sunshine Garcia
Philippine Release Date: October 8, 2014

Picking up five wins at Cinemalaya last year and mostly praised for its superb technical achievements (and an Urian-nominated performance from lead actor Dennis Trillo), what hinders The Janitor is a bit similar to what the FAP used as its excuse reason for not picking Erik Matti’s On the Job in 2012: it portrays the country in a negative light.

KASAL (THE COMMITMENT)
Director: Joselito Altarejos
Screenplay: Joselito Altarejos, Zig Dulay
Cast: Arnold Reyes, Oliver Aquino, Rita Avila, Maureen Mauricio
Philippine Release Date: February 8, 2015

Joselito Altarejos’ drama about a gay couple whose relationship was put to test won the Best Picture award in the Directors’ Showcase from Cinemalaya last year, but pink film submissions (Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros fresh from Brokeback Mountain‘s loss in 2005) or with gay characters (Ded na si Lolo in 2008 and Bwakaw in 2012) both haven’t materialized us with nominations.

MORE CONTENDERS:

Batch 3

ENGLISH ONLY, PLEASE
Director: Dan Villegas
Screenplay: Antoinette Jadaone, Dan Villegas
Cast: Jennylyn Mercado, Derek Ramsay, Kean Cipriano, Cai Cortez, Jerald Napoles
Philippine Release Date: December 25, 2014

While the country hasn’t shied away from submitting comedies and/or romantic films in the previous years, we haven’t really submitted a rom-com yet. I don’t think this story of a Filipino-American who hired an English translator to convert a letter would be the first one to break that trend, regardless if the film was well received and performed well at the box office.

M: MOTHER’S MAIDEN NAME
Director: Zig Dulay
Screenplay: Zig Dulay
Cast: Zsazsa Padilla, Nicco Manalo, Gloria Sevilla, Dennis Padilla, Marx Topacio
Philippine Release Date: January 21, 2015

Zig Dulay’s MMFF New Wave entry from 2014 about a woman who learned of her final days is just too low-key in terms of buzz to compete with the heavyweight submissions of other countries.

THAT THING CALLED TADHANA
Director: Antoinette Jadaone
Screenplay: Antoinette Jadaone
Cast: Angelica Panganiban, JM de Guzman
Philippine Release Date: February 4, 2015

Now holding the record as the highest grossing independent film in Philippine history, there’s a reason why Tadhana generated goodwill both from critics and the public audience. But just like English Only Please, this might be seen as too lightweight compared to other possible contenders.

THE TRIAL
Director: Chito Rono
Screenplay: Ricky Lee
Cast: John Lloyd Cruz, Richard Gomez, Gretchen Barretto, Sylvia Sanchez, Enrique Gil, Jessy Mendiola
Philippine Release Date: October 15, 2014

A Chito Rono film has already been submitted once back in 2002 (Dekada 70), and like DekadaThe Trial boasts of a huge ensemble with some of the reputable names in acting leading the pack. What separates the former from this one though is the historical coverage of Dekada dealing with one of the most controversial times in history. The same can’t be said for this melodramatic family film about a mentally-challenged guy who was put into trial after being accused of raping his teacher.

FINAL VERDICT:

Like what I mentioned last year, it was a trial to see if a Lav Diaz film would work for the Academy, and sadly it didn’t. If the shorter and more “commercial” Norte didn’t manage to make the shortlist after all its Cannes buzz and even a US distributor, this might be telling of what the Philippines must submit. To “Mula’s” credit though, it’s not its fault that its longer and its in black white. Besides, it still holds the record for the single highest honor received by a local film in international festival history, so that might work in its favor. Magkakabaung, despite its wonderful international run, is still low-key to compete for the Oscars, and sponsorship and funding would be an issue. The same can’t be said for Kid Kulafu, and like what I mentioned, I can see Star Cinema and Manny Pacquiao giving it some sort of a push. Add the fact that it’s about the most prominent Filipino boxer in history (and one Americans are familiar with), and it will be a wise move on the FAP’s part. In the end, it depends whether Taklub manages to fulfill its commercial run requirement. It got great reviews in Cannes (even winning a special mention from the Ecumenical Jury), and a Brillante Mendoza film hasn’t been selected to compete yet, so he’s an overdue name to represent the country at the Oscars of some sort. I think the wise choice to submit this year is Mendoza’s “Taklub” or Soriano’s “Kid Kulafu” if the former won’t have a commercial run in before the deadline.

Let’s hope after the great submission last year, that the FAP won’t screw up this year.

You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

Tit for Tat Local Film Awards 2014   Leave a comment

I really thought I’d be skipping this year, but better late than never! For the third year in my blog (see here 2012 and 2013 winners) From MMFF entries to Cinemalaya ones, and from Lav Diaz to Andoy Ranay (probably the only time you’ll see them in the same sentence), I’ve finally come up with a list of my own awards choices. This year, barbers, violators, janitors, and coffin makers are on the forefront as we search for tadhana and sparks. After eight months and lots of waiting in between, I present my picks for the best of local cinema in 2014.

best ensemble

gold LORNA
silver BARBER’S TALES

bronzeMARIQUINA

best first feature

gold VIOLATOR
silver DAGITAB

bronzeCHILDREN’S SHOW

visual effects

gold KUBOT: THE ASWANG CHRONICLES 2
silver SHAKE, RATTLE, AND ROLL 15
bronze FENG SHUI 2

sound editing and mixing

gold VIOLATOR
silver KUBOT: THE ASWANG CHRONICLES 2
bronze THE JANITOR

original song

gold “BAHALA NA” (Tak Back and You’re Dead)
silver “KAKAIBABE” (Diary ng Panget)
bronze “SIGLE LANG NANG SIGE” (Hari ng Tondo)

original score

gold MARIQUINA
silver LORNA
bronze DAGITAB

hairstyling and makeup

gold THE GIFTED
silver KUBOT: THE ASWANG CHRONICLES 2
bronze SHAKE, RATTLE, AND ROLL 15

editing

gold BARBER’S TALES
silver #Y
bronze VIOLATOR

costume

gold LORNA
silver THE GIFTED
bronze KUBOT: THE ASWANG CHRONICLES 2

cinematography

gold MULA SA KUNG ANO ANG NOON
silver DAGITAB
bronze  VIOLATOR

prod design

gold BARBER’S TALES
silver  KUBOT: THER ASWANG CHRONICLES 2
bronze ESPRIT DE CORPS

best breakthrough actress

gold NADINE LUSTRE (Diary ng Panget)
silver KARENINA HANIEL (Mula sa Kung Ano Ang Noon)
bronze COLEEN GARCIA (#Y)

best breakthrough actor

gold  SANDINO MARTIN (Esprit de Corps)
silver MATT DACLAN (Soap Opera)
bronze  RAFA SIGUION-REYNA (Hari ng Tondo)

best screenplay

gold  GIANCARLO ABRAHAN (Dagitab)
silver ANTOINETTE JADAONE (That Thing Called Tadhana)
bronze SIGRID ANDREA BERNARDO (Lorna)

best supp actor

gold ANDY BAIS (Violator)
silver MIGGS CUADERNO (Children’s Show)
bronze MARTIN DEL ROSARIO (Dagitab)

best supp actress

gold SYLVIA SANCHEZ (The Trial)
silver MARIA ISABEL LOPEZ (Lorna)
bronze GLADYS REYES (Barber’s Tales)

best actor

gold ALLEN DIZON (Magkakabaung)
silver ARNOLD REYES (Kasal)
bronze  JOHN LLOYD CRUZ (The Trial)

best actress

gold EUGENE DOMINGO (Barber’s Tales)
silver ANGELICA PANGANIBAN (That Thing Called Tadhana)
bronze  SHAMAINE BUENCAMINO (Lorna)

best directing

gold JUN LANA (Barber’s Tales)
silver ANTOINETTE JADAONE (That Thing Called Tadhana)
bronze LAV DIAZ (Mula sa Kung Ano Ang Noon)

best picture

gold BARBER’S TALES
silver THAT THING CALLED TADHANA
bronze  MULA SA KUNG ANO ANG NOON

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

PICTURE: Barber’s Tales
DIRECTOR: Jun Lana, Barber’s Tales
LEAD ACTOR: Allen Dizon, Magkakabaung
LEAD ACTRESS: Eugene Domingo, Barber’s Tales
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Andy Bais, Violator
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Sylvia Sanchez, The Trial
SCREENPLAY: Giancarlo Abrahan, Dagitab
MALE BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE: Sandino Martin, Esprit de Corps
FEMALE BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE: Nadine Lustre, Diary ng Panget
ART DIRECTION: Barber’s Tales
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Mula sa Kung Ano Ang Noon
COSTUME DESIGN: Lorna
EDITING: Barber’s Tales
HAIRSTYLING AND MAKE UP: The Gifted
ORIGINAL SCORE: Mariquina
ORIGINAL SONG: Bahala Na (Talk Back and You’re Dead)
SOUND: Violator
VISUAL EFFECTS:
Kubot: The Aswang Chronicles 2
FIRST FEATURE: Eduardo Dayao, Violator
ENSEMBLE: Lorna

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

67th Primetime Emmys: Outstanding Writing and Directing in a Movie or Mini Series   Leave a comment

Hi there again, you’re still reading the continuous 2015 Emmy predictions over here at Tit for Tat. We’re currently still doing the longform categories which combine both the television movies and limited series. For this one, we’d be focusing on the writing and directing categories. In other awards show, these two categories are usually swept by one movie (in the case of Oscars) or one record (in the case of Grammys). But the Emmys doesn’t play like that. In the last five years, only two times did one show manage to win both (Downton Abbey in 2011 and Game Change in 2012). If we extend it to the last 15 years, that would be seven times. Let’s see where this year lies.

longform directing

First up, it’s directing! Seven directorial efforts were nominated this year, but we can easily cross out some already. The Missing hasn’t been nominated for miniseries, and this is its sole nom, so it’s unlikely for it to win. Houdini got its lead actor Adrien Brody a nomination, but otherwise, it’s almost shut out as well. The season opener of American Horror Story: Freak Show is as flashy and grandiose and over the top as one can expect from Ryan Murphy, but in this case, the nomination is its reward. Any of the four other remaining contenders have a chance to snatch this category. Bessie is a template player for biopics, and they have rewarded a lot of those in the past (Temple Grandin in 2010, Game Change in 2012, Behind the Candelabra in 2013 and like Bessie, those are all from HBO). The Honourable Woman, while underperforming in terms of nominations, has everything that looks baity with its direction — big speeches? Check! explosions? Check! Tense-filled scenes? Check. Wolf Hall is another of those go-to showy directing pieces the Emmy usually reward (aside from biopics) just like Downton Abbey in 2011, Little Dorrit in 2009, and Elizabeth I in 2006. Ultimately, I think it’s Oscar nominee Lisa Cholodenko’s to lose. Her four part directorial event in Olive Kitteridge had critics raving to no end, and an Emmy will definitely be deserved.

Prediction: Lisa Cholodenko, “Olive Kitteridge”
Alternate: Peter Kosminsky, Wolf Hall”

Full Rankings:
01. Lisa Cholodenko, “Olive Kitteridge”
02. Peter Kosminsky, Wolf Hall”
03. Hugo Block, The Honourable Woman”
04. Dee Rees, Bessie”
05. Ryan Murphy, “American Horror Story: Freak Show (Monster Among Us)”
06. Uli Edel, “Houdini”
07. Tom Shankland, “The Missing

longform writing

Onto the writing side, it’s basically an Olive Kitteridge vs. Wolf Hall redux all over again. If they want to spread the wealth just like usual, then we can see a Wolf Hall win here, which is plausible on its own considering that they’re into British period pieces as well. But then, the new voting system where in everyone can easily vote in almost all categories without the need to prove such will make it an easy checking for Olive Kitteridge here. As for the other nominees, Hello Ladies: The Movie, while great on its own, might be seen as too lightweight in contrast to the other serious nominees. Bessie‘s direction has more chances than its writing, which goes without saying that it’s likely it will just lose both. The same actually applies for The Honourable Woman. The only other spoiler I can see here is Oscar winner John Ridley’s work for the pilot of American Crime, which picked up a lot of nominations, so there’s a chance of that really happening.

Prediction: Peter Straughan, “Wolf Hall”
Alternate: Jane Anderson, “Olive Kitteridge

Full Rankings:
01. Peter Straughan, “Wolf Hall”
02. Jane Anderson, “Olive Kitteridge
03. John Ridley, American Crime: Episode One” 
04. Hugo BlickThe Honourable Woman”
05. Dee Rees, Christopher Cleveland, Bettina Gillois, Horton Foote, “Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight”
06. Stephen Merchant, Gene Stupnitsky, Lee Eisenberg, “Hello Ladies: The Movie”

Check in soon to see the rest of my 2015 Emmy prediction analysis. For more Emmy talk, you can also follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

67th Primetime Emmys: Outstanding Television Movie   Leave a comment

tv movie

And we’re back! As another TV year ends, a new Emmy season begins! For the next month leading to the Primetime Emmys on September 20, we will be covering 30 different races ranging from dramas to comedies up to reality shows and variety sketches! This year, we begin with one of the easiest races of the night… Outstanding Television Movie.

It’s a tad ironic that this category has six nominees this year considering how weak the year for TV Movie was. But if you look at the nominated works this year, two out of these six are individual nominations for their shows. National Geographic Channel received another nod for their Klling trilogy, this time it’s the religious themed Killing Jesus, which surprised me how low key it was that it didn’t even receive nominations for costumes or even hair styling.

Then there’s Agatha Christie’s Poirot: Curtain, Poirot’s Last Case, which obviously signifies the last episode of this 25-year long TV adaptation. After 13 seasons and 70 episodes, the series ends with Curtain, where Poirot goes back to the setting of the first episode back in 1989. It seemed like the sentiment is strong with this one to get a nomination, but not enough for a win.

HBO has three nominations for this year, which is one more than their usual, but two of those are really minor. Nightingaledespite getting a Lead Actor nom for David Oyelowo, failed to receive any traction outside of that when it could have been an easy bet in directing and writing too. Stephen Merchant’s Hello Ladies: The Movie received Screenplay nomination outside of TV Movie, but nothing else aside from that. Also, this could be seen as lightweight as compared to the other contenders.

But really, this category won’t be complete without mentioning Olivier Dahan’s Grace of Monaco. The journey of this flop Nicole Kidman starrer about the biopic of Oscar winning actress turned princess Grace Kelley is astounding to say the least. What started as a prime Oscar contender in 2013 was suddenly canceled and moved to March 2014 only to be given a second life as the Cannes opener in 2014. But then, it was welcomed with no open arms until it was announced to be debuting on Lifetime earlier this year. When you think about it, I won’t be surprised if this starts the trend of failed Oscar bait films moving to TV to snatch Emmy nominations instead.

Then again, this category is basically Bessie‘s to lose. Receiving 12 nominations including three acting nods plus writing and directing, this HBO vehicle about the life of legendary blues figure Bessie Smith stands out from the rest of this mediocre pack. Had this been a feature film, it would have been in the running for some Oscars and not the other way around.

To predict an alternate is a bit misleading considering that Bessie is far and away ahead here. Might as well go with Grace of Monaco to troll the hell out of this boring category. Bottom line is, it’s another year and another HBO movie winning (and deservedly so).

PREDICTION: Bessie (HBO)
ALTERNATE: Grace of Monaco (Lifetime) — LMAO

Full rankings:
01. “Bessie
02. “Grace of Monaco
03. “Hello Ladies: The Movie
04. “Killing Jesus
05. “Nightingale
06. “Agatha Christie’s Poirot: Curtain, Poirot’s Last Case

Check in soon to see the rest of my 2015 Emmy prediction analysis. You can also follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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