Archive for November 2012

2012 Independent Spirit Awards Nominees   Leave a comment

Here we go. Oscar season is definitely in the air, and as always, the first to announce (but the second to the last to reward) their nominees is the Independent Spirit Awards. There’s  a lot of surprises among the nominees, but as a reference, here are those who got a nod:

Best Feature

“Beasts of the Southern Wild”
“Bernie”
“Keep the Lights On”
“Moonrise Kingdom”
“Silver Linings Playbook”

Best Screenplay

Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola (“Moonrise Kingdom”)
Zoe Kazan (“Ruby Sparks”)
Martin McDonagh (“7 Psychopaths”)
David O. Russell (“Silver Linings Playbook”)
Ira Sachs (“Keep the Lights On”)

Best Director

Wes Anderson (“Moonrise Kingdom”)
Julia Loktev (“The Loneliest Planet”)
David O. Russell (“Silver Linings Playbook”)
Ira Sachs (“Keep the Lights On”)
Benh Zeitlin (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”).

Best Female Lead

Linda Cardellini (“Return”)
Emayatzy Corinealdi (“Middle of Nowhere”)
Jennifer Lawrence (“Silver Linings Playbook”)
Quvenzhane Wallis (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”)
Mary Elizabeth Winstead (“Smashed”)

Best Male Lead

Jack Black (“Bernie”)
Bradley Cooper (“Silver Linings Playbook”)
John Hawkes (“The Sessions”)
Thure Lindhardt (“Keep the Lights On”)
Matthew McConaughey (“Killer Joe”)
Wendell Pierce (“Four”)

Best Supporting Female

Rosemarie DeWitt (“Your Sister’s Sister”)
Ann Dowd (“Compliance”)
Helen Hunt (“The Sessions”)
Brit Marling (“Sound of My Voice”)
Lorraine Toussaint (“Middle of Nowhere”)

Best Supporting Male

Matthew McConaughey (“Magic Mike”)
David Oyelowo (“Middle of Nowhere”)
Michael Pena (“End of Watch”)
Sam Rockwell (“7 Psychopaths”)
Bruce Willis (“Moonrise Kingdom”)

Best Documentary

“How to Survive a Plague”
“Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present”
“The Central Park Five”
“The Invisible War”
“The Waiting Room”

Best International Film

“Amour” (France)
“Once Upon a Time in Anatolia” (Turkey)
“Rust and Bone” (France)
“Sister” (Switzerland)
“War Witch” (DR Congo)

Best First Feature

“Fill the Void”
“Gimme the Loot”
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower”
“Safety Not Guaranteed”
“Sound of My Voice”

Best First Screenplay

Rama Burshtein (“Fill the Void”)
Rashida Jones and Will McCormack (“Celeste and Jesse Forever”)
Jonathan Lisecki (“Gayby”)
Derek Connolly (“Safety Not Guaranteed”)
Christopher Ford (“Robot & Frank”)

Anyway, the biggest buzz so far comes from the eligibility of The Silver Linings Playbook which was supposed to be ineligible due to its post 20 million budget (which is the only rule for your film to qualify as indie). However, inside talks say much of the credit goes to Harvey Weinstein who did his magic tricks in order for the film to make it here. It has been said that he is also the one responsible for The Artist being eligible in all categories here last year when it should have contended in the Foreign Language Film category. Oh well. If there’s one lesson you must learn, it’s that you should never underestimate the powers of Harvey Weinstein.

Here are other reactions:

* Surprising to see the outpour of love for Matt McCounaghey. Does this mean he’ll go all the way to an Oscar nod? Not sure yet, but this increases his buzz. On the other hand, the Dwight Henry snub is perplexing. He badly needs this especially since he is ineligible for the SAG and definitely miss the Globes. He’s already near DOA territory.

* Aside from Dwight Henry, some notable snubs include Jake Gyllenhaal (End of Watch), Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha), Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon (Arbitrage), Logan Lerman and Ezra Miller (Perks of Being a Wallflower), Robert de Niro (The Silver Linings Playbook), and Nicole Kidman (The Paperboy).

* It’s gonna be an easy feat for Jennifer Lawrence to sweep all the way to the Oscars. I was really pushing for at least one Quvenzhane Wallis speech. Damn you, Harvey.

* Yay for the nods of Michael Pena, Rosemarie Dewitt, Ann Dowd, Bruce Willis, Perks of Being a Wallflower, Rust and Bone, and Once Upon a Time in Anatolia! Yayyy. All well deserved. Moonrise Kingdom also gets a good showing here. I wonder if it’s enough to keep momentum all the way to the Oscars. A Screenplay nod is almost assured though.

* Linda Cardellini’s self campaign paid off. Though we’ll see if she gets to cross over at the SAG voters. Usually, it’s the end for too good performances in too little indie films, so enjoy the moment Ann Dowd and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

*Lastly, for the wins, I’d say Silver Linings Playbook, David Russell, John Hawkes, Jennifer Lawrence, Matthew McConaughey, and Helen Hunt will easily take the trophies a day before the Oscars.

85th Oscar Predictions: November Edition   8 comments

20 Most Deserving Oscar Best Supporting Actor Wins   2 comments


Last April, I came up with my personal list of the 2o Most Deserving Oscar Best Actress Wins wherein Olivia de Havilland’s The Heiress prevailed on top (which is currently being performed on Broadway by the great Jessica Chastain). Now, this is the second part of the four acting categories that I will be doing. In this part, the ladies have to sit down as the men takes center stage. The Best Supporting Oscar has been a venue of rewarding a lot of character actors and veterans way back from Walter Brennan’s first victory for Come and Get It in 1936 up to current champ’s Christopher Plummer’s win for Beginners just earlier this year. Of the 76 victories in this category, here are 20 performances that stood out from the rest:

20. MICHAEL CAINE, “Hannah and Her Sisters” (1986)

Role: Elliott, husband of actress Hannah who has an affair with one of his wife’s sister
Competition: Tom Berenger (Platoon), Willem Dafoe (Platoon), Denholm Elliott (A Room With a View), Dennis Hopper (Hoosiers)

Two time winner here in this category, Sir Michael Caine has yet to win a Lead Actor Oscar, but his two victories in the Supporting ones are some of his best performances. In particular, his performance in Woody Allen’s Hannah and Her Sisters takes the cake and deserves a slot in the top 20.

19. GEORGE CHAKIRIS, “West Side Story” (1961)

Role: Bernardo Nunez, head of the gang of Puerto Rican immigrants in Manhattan
Competition: Montgomery Cliff (Judgment at Nuremberg), Peter Falk (Pocketful of Mysteries), Jackie Gleason (The Hustler), George C. Scott (The Hustler)

Whether it’s the musical numbers or the slick choreography that you admire the most in this Best Picture winner, one can’t deny that lots of it has something to do with George Chakiris’ lively and energizing performance as Bernardo Nunez. That, and his chemistry with Rita Moreno’s Anita.

18. JOEL GREY, “Cabaret” (1972)

Role: Master of Ceremonies, the storyteller in the film
Competition: Eddie Albert (The Heartbreak Kid), James Caan (The Godfather), Robert Duvall (The Godfather), Al Pacino (The Godfather)

From one musical to the other, George Chakiris’ performance as the storyteller slash master of ceremonies in the film can be easily played by a nameless actor, but the way that he engaged the watchers is credited to his immense talent. This surely worked in his favor, as he managed to win over three Godfather actors in this category.

17. JACK NICHOLSON, “Terms of Endearment” (1983)

Role: Garrett Breedlove, womanizing neighbor of Aurora who is afraid of commitment
Competition: Charles Durning (To Be or Not to Be), John Lithgow (Terms of Endearment), Sam Shepard (The Right Stuff), Rip Torn (Cross Creek)

The most rewarded male actor by the Academy, Nicholson’s only win in the Supporting category (out of four nominations), is also one of his bests. As someone who is afraid of commitment, thus resulting to having cold feet in his relationship to Shirley Maclaine’s Aurora, Nicholson not only relied to his physical charisma but providing the emotional gravitas needed a well.

16. DENZEL WASHINGTON, “Glory” (1989)

Role: Pvt Silas Trip, escaped slave who joined the Massachusetts Infantry Regiment
Competition: Danny Aiello (Do the Right Thing), Danny Aykroyd (Driving Miss Daisy), Marlon Brando (A Dry White Season), Martin Landau (Crimes and Misdemeanors)

Two years after his pilot nomination for Cry Freedom, Washington comes back in full glory (no pun intended) as the standout among the crop of supporting actors in this film. In Glory, Denzel was all out in showing his potential to be one of the best actors in his generation, and the same can still be said about him today.

15. BENICIO DEL TORO, “Traffic” (2000)

Role: Javier Rodriguez, police officer responsible for the revealing of drug transport in Mexico
Competition: Jeff Bridges (The Contender), Willem Dafoe (Shadows of the Vampire), Albert Finney (Erin Brockovich), Joaquin Phoenix (Gladiator)

It’s really difficult to stand out in an ensemble such as the one in Traffic. But while we can credit Stephen Gaghan’s multi-layered script, or the sharp direction of Steven Soderbergh, there’s a reason why it was only Puerto Rican Benicio del Toro who was nominated among the cast. His Javier Rodriguez was a one two combo of his balanced portrayal of an honest yet haunting officer.

14. EDMUND GWENN, “Miracle on 34th Street” (1947)

Role: Kris Kringle, Santa Claus at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade
Competition: Charles Bickford (The Farmer’s Daughter), Thomas Gomez (Ride the Pink Horse), Robert Ryan (Crossfire), Richard Widmark (Kiss of Death)

Probably one of the most known characters in this list, Gwenn’s performance as the Santa Clause in 1947’s Miracle on 34th Street is no way miraculous. It was already given by the get go that his poignant turn deserves merit, and Oscar fortunately agrees with me on this one.

13. JOE PESCI, “Goodfellas” (1990)

Role: Tommy DeVito, robber part of a local mob
Competition: Bruce Davison (Longtime Companion), Andy Garcia (The Godfather Part III), Graham Greene (Dances with Wolves), Al Pacino (Dick Tracy)

Mob movies and characters from such have been a staple in this category that many tried to replicate but not give justice to the said genre. One of the exceptions though is Joe Pesci’s Tommy DeVito in this Best Picture nominee. Now if only we can have Damian say “Danny Tommy DeVito I love your work”, then that would be the cherry on top of this cake.

12. KARL MALDEN, “A Streetcar Named Desire” (1951)

Role: Harold Mitchell, a suitor of Vivian Leigh’s Blanche Dubois
Competition: Leo Genn (Quo Vadis), Kevin McCarthy (Death of a Salesman), Peter Ustinov (Quo Vadis), Gig Young (Come Fill the Cup)

Another movie that stood the test of time, A Streetcar Named Desire has been mostly remembered for the performances of Marlon Brando or Vivien Leigh, or the countless adaptations that has been produced in Broadway or in the small screen. But here’s one FYC: Do not forget to check out Karl Malden’s Oscar winning performance in it, and you’ll understand why.

11. CHRIS COOPER, “Adaptation” (2002)

Role: John Laroche, orchid expert who helped Susan Orleans in her book writing
Competition: Ed Harris (The Hours), Paul Newman (Road to Perdition), John C> Reilly (Chicago), Christopher Walken (Catch Me If You Can)

To share most of your time onscreen with Meryl Streep is a very daunting task. Awards-wise, you’d always fade away and nominations seem to be unlucky just like Sam Neill in A Cry in the Dark, Stanley Tucci in Julie and Julia, the ladies of The Devil Wears Prada, and even Clint Eastwood in The Bridges of Madison County. The most you can have is a nomination just like the triumvirate in Doubt. The only exception though is 2002 winner Chris Cooper who not only shared a perfect chemistry with Streep herself, but he even went home with an Oscar on his hand.

10. KEVIN KLINE, “A Fish Called Wanda” (1988)

Role: Otto West, a self proclaimed intellectual recruited to be a part of a jewel heist
Competition: Alec Guinness (Little Dorrit), Martin Landau (Tucker: The Man and His Dream), River Phoenix (Running on Empty), Dean Stockwell (Married to the Mob)

Comedies rarely get any recognition outside of the Golden Globes, so it is always refreshing to see actors win Oscars for comedic performances such as this victory of Kevin Kline in 1988 for his role as a part of a jewel heist in A Fish Called Wanda. This gives us reassurance that every now and then, Oscar knows his humor.

09. KEVIN SPACEY, “The Usual Suspects” (1995)

Role: Roger Kint, survivor of a massacre up for interrogation
Competition: James Cromwell (Babe), Ed Harris (Apollo 13), Brad Pitt (12 Monkeys), Tim Roth (Rob Roy)

Another two time Oscar winner, Kevin Spacey’s first Oscar was in the supporting category for this flexible and layered performance as one of the two survivors in 1995’s The Usual Suspects. It’s really hard to argue with the Academy when they give very deserved wins such as this one.

08. GEORGE SANDERS, “All About Eve” (1950)

Role: Addison DeWitt, theater critic who is observant of Eve’s career
Competition: Jeff Chandler (Broken Arrow), Edmund Gwenn (Mister 880), Sam Jaffe (The Asphalt Jungle), Erich von Stroheim (Sunset Boulevard)

While all the buzz was between the leading ladies of this 1950 Best Picture title holder, George Sanders made sure that he will not be forgotten and that he will make a mark for his performance in his film. Alas, not only is he rewarded with an Oscar, his victory is also one of the best this category has ever produced.

07. TIMOTHY HUTTON, “Ordinary People” (1980)

Role: Conrad Jarrett, son of a dysfunctional family who recovered from a failed suicide attempt
Competition:  Judd Hirsch (Ordinary People), Michael O’Keefe (The Great Santini), Joe Pesci (Raging Bull), Jason Robards (Melvin and Howard)

Like what I mentioned, the Supporting Actor category has been a venue to reward character actors or older veteran ones. That is why, category confusion aside, it is very refreshing to see victories such as this one by Timothy Hutton as the troubled son of a dysfunctional family in Ordinary People. His performance, definitely, is far from ordinary in it.

06. WALTER HUSTON, “Treasure of Sierra Madre” (1948)

Role: Howard, an old man part of the triumvirate planning to search for gold
Competition: Charles Bickford (Johnny Belinda), Jose Ferrer (Joan of Arc), Oskar Homolka (I Remember Mama), Cecil Kellaway (The Luck of the Irish)

Probably one of the most remembered winning performances in this category, it is really not difficult to fathom why Walter Huston won in 1948. It’s the typical supporting turn that tends to scream “scene stealer!” With that said, it will be difficult to pre-judge a scene stealer like Howard, when he nails it in and out in this performance.

05. CHRISTOPH WALTZ, “Inglourious Basterds” (2009)

Role: Hans Landa, a ruthless yet charming Austrian officer searching for Jews all over France
Competition: Matt Damon (Invictus), Woody Harrelson (The Messenger), Christopher Plummer (The Last Station), Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones)

The last of the triumvirate of the bad guys rewarded in this category during the last decade, who knew that at 52, TV actor Christoph Waltz will waltz his way (this time, pun intended) to a unanimous award acclaim for his performance as Colonel Hands Landa in this Tarantino flick. What I particularly loved about Landa is that while you know he’s the bad guy, it’s easy to see his soft spots as well. This, I credit, to Christoph Waltz’s bravura performance.

04. HEATH LEDGER, “The Dark Knight” (2008)

Role: The Joker, antagonist to Bruce Bayne’s Batman
Competition: Josh Brolin (Milk), Robert Downey Jr (Tropic Thunder), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Doubt), Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road)

While one can still see the good in Hans Landa, it’s easy to spot the not so good in terms of Heath Ledger’s Joker. Despite it being a posthumous win, it really did not overshadow the fact that this performance has been the best among all of Nolan’s Batman trilogy, and probably will be the most iconic too. When the only bad thing you can say about Ledger’s Joker are the character’s intentions, you know that this one is for keeps.

03. JAVIER BARDEM, “No Country for Old Men” (2007)

Role: Anton Chigurh, hitman who plays a cat and mouse chase with Josh Brolin’s Llewelyn Moss
Competition: Casey Affleck (Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Charlie Wilson’s War),  Hal Holbrook (Into the Wild), Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton)

Before Joker and Col. Landa took over the “bad guy” territory, everyone felt the chills as Javier Bardem sneaked his way in and out of Texas searching for Llewelyn Moss. You can laugh all you want about Javier Bardem’s bad hairdo in the film, but there’s nothing bad you can say about this universally acclaimed performance of his. The near end shot of him with his face bloodied yet still alive is one of the creepiest you’ll see in a film that’s not about ghosts.

02. ROBERT DE NIRO, “The Godfather Part II” (1974)

Role: Don Vito Corleone in flashbacks
Competition: Fred Astaire (The Towering Inferno), Jeff Bridges (Thunderbolt and Lightfoot), Michael V. Gazzo (The Godfather Part II), Lee Strasberg (The Godfather Part II)

When we’re talking about The Godfather, it’s really impossible to pass on the topic of the performances of the actors in the trilogy. Given that condition, it is more difficult when you’re playing Don Vito Corleone whose character already won itself an Oscar two years ago in the Lead Actor category by Marlon Brando nonetheless. But thanks to Robert de Niro’s effortless yet memorable performance, not only does this role scoop another Oscar, but de Niro’s performance and win is also the second best win in this category.

01. CHRISTOPHER WALKEN, “The Deer Hunter” (1978)

Role: Nikonar Chevotarevich, steel worker who serviced during the Vietnam War
Competition: Bruce Dern (Coming Home), Richard Farnsworth (Comes a Horsemen), John Hurt (Midnight Express), Jack Warden (Heaven Can Wait)

And the champion among all champions is none other than… Christopher Walken. Michael Cimino’s Best Picture winner in 1978 not only provided controversy during its time, his terrific direction also gave us a lot of performances to cherish. One of those is Christopher Walken’s heartbreaking, honest, and raw performance as Nikonar Chevotarevich. Despite the backlash the movie has received during the awards season that year, the acclaim for the performance (particularly of Walken’s) has even naysayers rooting for it.

There you go! What are your favorite inclusions on the list? How about the ones you think should have been excluded? Also, are there missing performances you want to lobby for? Pipe them in below!  🙂

REVIEW: Suddenly It’s Magic   6 comments

After a string of horror, comedy, and flat out drama movies the past few months, Star Cinema goes back to one of its strongest genre by doing a romance film. Suddenly It’s Magic stars Filipina Erich Gonzales and Thai superstar Mario Maurer and helmed by one of their top notch directors, Rory B. Quintos.

Thai superstar Marcus Hanson (Mario Maurer) is in a personal and professional burnout, so he escaped to the Philippines in order to get much deserved rest. There, he met provincial lass Joey (Erich Gonzales), whom he felt a strong connection with. Joey was mending a broken heart, and the two find each other’s company special. Once Marcus goes back to Thailand, the two must adjust to the conditions of their previous lives in order to maintain their relationship.

As for starters, this film was obviously greenlit due to Maurer’s sudden popularity in the Philippines. With that said, I already left my expectations before I entered the cinemas. I knew this will have the same predictable and recycled subplots especially since there seems no room left for a more creative one or interesting story to tackle. And boy was I surprisingly correct. One can see what will happen a mile away, and the only thing that will make you gasp is… how correct you are! Fiesta scenes? Check. Upstaging gay best friend? Check. Girl falling over the boy? Check. It’s as if someone was tasked to collect different scenes from past rom-coms and combine them here.

There also seems to be some major continuity issues here and there, such as hair colors and the language used. Are we supposed to believe that when Joey’s character speaks Taglish, Marcus’s character will really understand the whole context of it? Some storylines were also just dropped off in the middle of the film, with no signs of even coming back.

Despite that, I still find a handful of interesting things to see in the film. I like the scene where Marcus’s mother is talking to Joey. This highlights what the different approach in acting we have from them. A scene that could have been histrionically portrayed here was calm yet full of impact delivered by the Thai mother. There was also the language play with Thais being forced to speak in English in some parts that sacrifices the impact of the movie. I also notice how Rory Quintos has this knack of showing beautiful cinematographic scenes to envelope the watchers to be a part of it (though it was done better in Kailangan Kita)

The camera really loves Mario Maurer’s face, and there’s no bad angles of him. I recall the whole cinema going wild every time he has a close up scene. Time and again, Maurer has proven that he has the chops (Love of Siam anyone?), though it still depends on the material he was given to. In here, he was not required to do much except to be cute and charming, and that’s not difficult for him to do. Erich Gonzales captures the naive woman effectively, and she seems to be a fit to Mario’s mestizo features. The supporting characters were alright, and while Joross Gamboa’s gay best friend was a crowd favorite, the role has been done a thousand times now and has already lost most of its magic. My favorite though is every scene that involves Thai actress Baifern Pimchanok, as I was smitten by her.

All in all, this one seems predictable as the other romance movies, but one thing that it genuinely and successfully achieved is the charm of the two lead characters. With that, there’s no wonder, it will be a hit to its definite target audience.

Grade: 2.5/5

REVIEW: Six Degrees of Separation From Lilia Cuntapay   3 comments

One of the more prominent entries from last year’s Cinema One Originals finally gets a cinematic release this year, and Antoinette Jadaone’s first feature offering is definitely worth of all the accolades it has received. Six Degrees of Separation From Lilia Cuntapay does not only strike someone’s pop culture knowledge (it’s Lilia effin’ Cuntapay for chrissakes), but it also manages to go deeper into the life of a very taken for granted actress in Philippine movie history.

The movie, which applies the documentary approach, follows the life of prominent showbiz extra Lilia Cuntapay who played roles of  aswangs and other horror creatures every Halloween specials of [insert TV show here]. Form there, we learned that she received a Best Supporting Actress nomination, and we follow her every step of her journey to the awards ceremony including choosing the perfect gown, coming up with the speech, and conducting interviews from others.

The film shifts from mockumentary at one part to a probable good look of what her life was about to the next one, and Jadaone’s direction does a perfect job of not confusing the watchers. It’s a pretty good study of Nanay Lilia’s character as one can see the  juxtaposition of  the “nominee Lilia” from the “day in the life of Lilia.” There were also a handful of celebrity cameos that re-assures the impact that she has already left in the industry.

Amidst all that, probably the best thing I love about it (and I warn you, as this will definitely be cheesy) is that the movie has a heart. For someone who has been taken for granted for the longest time, it’s really not difficult to attach yourself with Nanay Lilia. You find yourself rooting for her every step of the way, and the movie does an exceptional job of achieving that. Nanay Lilia with the aswang costumes and the thick make up is already a fascinating character, yet the one behind it does make a more interesting character. In the end, everyone benefits.

I’m really saddened that this did not make a mark awards-wise this past year (aside from the Urian nominations), as it clearly deserved some recognition. Lilia Cuntapay deserves some Best Actress awards (and she was my personal pick last year for that title), and Geraldine Villamil should have at least a nomination. Well I guess, we can cherish the fact that they were, at least, triumphant at the Cinema One Originals Awards night last year.

I know by now that I’ve already sounded like a broken record, but in case you still want to hear it one more time: Six Degrees of Separation From Lilia Cuntapay is the best film of 2011. To add to that, it’s also the best one in years. It does a lot more than just telling a story; it presented us this persona of a tour de force woman that will forever remain immortal in our eyes sans the aswang portrayals.

Grade: 5/5

SHAMELESS PLUGGING: Please please do catch this film. It deserves to be seen by a looooot of people.  You can see it in the following theaters: SM Megamall, Sm City North EDSA, SM Southmall, and Robinson’s Galleria.