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87th Oscars Predictions: October Edition   2 comments

We’re getting closer to the busiest months of awards prognostication as we reach the end of the year. At this point in the race, only American Sniper, Unbroken, Selma, Interstellar, Into the Woods, A Most Violent Year and Big Eyes are left among those in play for major nominations this year. But then again, we’ve had word on majority of the contenders already and we’re just awaiting for other factors to have a complete look on the race. This month, I’ve already added my predictions for the Foreign Language Film category considering that in two weeks time, we’ll hear the official complete list from AMPAS.

I’m still a bit bullish on Unbroken while quite confident in Selma, despite both being unseen. And I’m quite ready to predict that American Sniper will be Clint’s Oscar comeback. It’s also interesting to see the crowded Lead Actor race, as we’re bound to get a snub or two the way Tom Hanks was last year and John Hawkes was the year before. My current bet is on Eddie Redmayne to come close but solidify his chances for next year’s The Danish Girl, but I might still change my mind in the months to come. Anyway, here are my complete predictions in 19 different categories

picture

 

directing

 

 

lead actor

 

lead actress

 

supp actor

 

supp actress

 

screenplay

 

animated flf

 

techs 1

 

techs 2

 

techs 3
Total tally of nominations:

10 – Interstellar, Selma
8 – Gone Girl, Birdman
– The Imitation Game, Unbroken
5 – Boyhood, Into the Woods
4 – American Sniper, Foxcatcher, The Theory of Everything
3 – Exodus: Gods and Kings
2 – Big Eyes, Godzilla, Mr. Turner, Whiplash, Wild

You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

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87th Oscars Predictions: September Edition   5 comments

After skipping last month to pave the way for the Emmys, the monthly Oscar predictions are back (and with a new look to boot!). Now that festivals are coming one after the other (Telluride and Toronto have already started) and New York and AFI will soon come ahead of us, it’s time to clear the air on a lot of these contenders! I’ve also started to predict the rest of the categories (except Song, Foreign Language Film, and Documentary because duh, we need a shortlist for those). Anyway, here we go with the September batch of predictions!

*You can click the photos to read the write-ups in full (especially in the Best Picture category)

best picture

best director

best actor

best actress

best supporting actor

best supporting actress

Screenplay

Techs 1

Techs 2

Techs 3
Current tally of nominations:

9 – Birdman, Gone Girl, Interstellar
7 – Selma
6 – Boyhood, Foxcatcher, Unbroken, The Imitation Game
5 – Into the Woods
2 – Wild, Big Eyes, Whiplash, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Mr. Turner, Godzilla, The Hobbit, Fury

You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

67th Cannes Film Festival Winner Predictions   Leave a comment

Photo from redriff.com

And we have finally reached the end of the season. The end of the 67th Cannes Film Fest a.k.a the world’s biggest film festival is upon us in a few hours. Now that all films in the In Competition have screened, it’s time to predict on which films and performances will garner prizes from our jury headed by Jane Campion. As the whole season progressed, there have been lots of talks about the films in contention this year. From Still the Water‘s Naomi Kawase’s claim that she’s going Palme or nothing, to Xavier Dolan’s dedicating his possible win to the filmmakers of his generation, Cannes has never been louder – and more competitive – than ever. This year we have no solid frontrunner like that of Amour in 2012 or Blue is the Warmest Color like last year so predicting things is much trickier this time around. With that said, here’s how I foresee Campion and company’s decisions in all seven categories.

Two Days, One Night

SCREENPLAY:

PREDICTION: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne, “Two Days One Night
The Dardenne brothers have always ended up with something during their last five participation in the main competition of the Cannes Film Fest. So as expected, they’re bound to end up winning one for this latest film which is a hit from the critics and watchers alike. While the possibility of them receiving a third Palme d’or is very much possible, the reward can also happen to lead actress Marion Cotillard whose third time is probably the charm for these voters. That said, I think they’re ending up with the Screenplay award instead which will continue their impressive record of winning in competition.

ALTERNATE: Andrey Zvyagintsev, Oleg Negin, “Leviathan
If not the pair of brothers, then maybe this pair of writing pals will end up winning n this category instead. There seems to be a level of disconnect in terms of the reception between critics with Leviathan, but if the jury is sold, this can be the most fitting place for them to reward it.

Timothy Spall

ACTOR:

PREDICTION: Timothy Spall, “Mr. Turner
Mike Leigh’s lead acting roles have a tendency to attract awards and recognition, and Mr. Turner  seems to be no exception. Timothy Spall’s transformation as the British painter J.M.W. Turner is one that screams acting, and this seems to be the most fitting place to reward the film. Make no mistake though, as there are lots of other contenders in this category as well.

ALTERNATE: the male ensemble of Foxcatcher (Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo)
I know what you’re thinking. Cannes winner Channing Tatum? Well yeah that’s indeed close to happening. If the jury can’t decide on which Foxcatcher actor to reward, then they might give a share to all three actors instead for their contribution in this well received Bennett Miller’s cold drama. Ensemble wins are pretty regular at festivals, so it’s not as if this is the first time that it will happen. That said, watch out for Gaspard Ulliel in Saint Laurent or Haluk Bilginer of Winter Sleep to be competitive for the win as well.

Juliette Binoche

ACTRESS

PREDICTION: Juliette Binoche, “Clouds of Sils Maria
Sure, Binoche has won just four years ago with Certified Copy, but never underestimate this jury’s love for Juliette Binoche. A lot of them are vocal huge fans of the actress, and that alone might put her instantly to the top. Besides, Sils Maria is such an actressing role. It’s about an actress reclaiming a position that was hers before. I wouldn’t even be surprised if they give a joint prize to Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart who’s been receiving career best reviews here. For now, I’ll stick with solely Binoche, but I wouldn’t count out that possibility.

ALTERNATE: Anne Dorval, “Mommy
Xavier Dolan is a great actor’s director, as he surely brings out the best of his actors in the screen (sadly, the same can’t be said for his performances in his films). From what I’ve read tho, Dorval’s too much of a showy, too much in your face, cold role that might turn some members of the jury off. There’s also the possibility of Mommy winning the Palme which will easily eliminate Dorval from the conversation. Also take note of Marion Cotillard’s great ink for the Dardennes’ Two Days, One Night. Girl has been waiting for her Actress prize for the third year now (after losing for Rust and Bone and The Immigrant)  and this might be her time. There’s also Julianne Moore who’ll be the second actress (after Binoche) to win the trifecta of Actress wins in all three big festivals for Maps to the Stars. But I’m not really counting on that to happen.

Mommy

DIRECTOR:

PREDICTION: Xavier Dolan, “Mommy
Dolan is a co-frontrunner for the Palme, there’s no doubt about that one. And if anything, his is the type of experimental approach that this jury could possibly appreciate. With that said, if a consensus has to be played out in the jury, I think they’ll give him the Directing award instead. For all the style approaches that Dolan used in Mommy including the type of screen he used in the final output, i think it’s pretty obvious that this is the place where they’ll reward the film instead.

ALTERNATE: Naomi Kawase, “Still the Water
Kawase came to Cannes prepared with the Palme in her sight. But seems like a lot of films upstaged hers though. Never mind that since Jane Campion is a vocal Kawase fan, and unless she pulls an Isabelle Adjani and demands the rest of them to give the Palme to this, then this directorial effort might be her best shot for a win this year. After all, there have been so many talks with only one female director winner in Cannes history, so this will some sort of a passing the torch style if she wins this one. Plus with the divisiveness of Still the Water, this fits the bill of other underwhelming or critically panned films that still ended up winning Director the last few years (Brillante Mendoza for Kinatay in 2009, Carlos Reygadas for Post Tenebras Lux in 2012, and last year’s Aman Escalante for Heli). The other female director Alice Rohrwacher is also a contender here.

Le Meraviglie

 

JURY PRIZE

PREDICTION: Alice Rohrwacher, “Le Meraviglie
Rohrwacher’s case is very interesting this year. While the rest of the critics are raving about this film, the French one seemed to be so adamant about it even ranking it as the lowest in their polls. But except for that, it has been performing greatly among all the other ones. I think in this case, the French are clearly the outliers, and this Italian director can score a Jury Prize from the panel of voters.

ALTERNATE: Naomi Kawase, “Still the Water
If not, then maybe the other woman in the festival, Naomi Kawase, can end up winning this. Seems like Still the Water, for all its divisiveness, is the type of of film that gains really passionate fans and those fans might be the ones making up the decision this year. If they can’t come up with a consensus of this one winning the Palme, then the Jury Prize might be good enough as the palce to reward it.

Timbuktu

 

GRAND PRIX

PREDICTION: Abderrhamane Sissako, “Timbuktu
Despite premiering at the earlier part of the festival, Sissako’s Timbuktu not only managed to raise the bar for competition this year, but they also were able to maintain this momentum all throughout the festival. With a riveting “OMG important” political topic tackled in the film, I’m quite confident that this will be getting home with an award. It’s one of the year’s most lauded films and this might give him another win after his Un Certain Regard victory 21 years ago.

ALTERNATE: Jean-Luc Godard, “Goodbye to Language 3D
Going into the competition, Godard is another one who’s a common denominator of influence and inspiration among the members of this year’s Cannes jury. But despite strong polarizing reactions with this one, and with reports of the jury not giving a care about it, who knows if they’ll give this an award or if they will leave it to the dust?

Winter Sleep

 

PALME D’OR

PREDICTION: Nuri Blige Ceylan, “Winter Sleep
And as for the biggest prize, I think that it is Ceylan’s time to win the Palme for this year. Not only did he manage to sustain the high expectations given to him after Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, he was able to translate that with near consensus critical appraisal for this one. Winter Sleep is the type of film that I think can avoid the polarizing reaction from the jury and one that can be on the middle ground when the other polarizing films bring down each other. Also, the technical achievement of this film is outstanding that it might certainly put it on top of the jury’s preference list for this year.

ALTERNATE: Xavier Dolan, “Mommy
When Dolan vocally mentioned his frustration of Laurence Anyways not getting a Main Competition slot two years ago, it seemed as if his ego’s feeding him with that statement. And for his first foray into the big leagues, he certainly did not disappoint with the raves his film is getting. I admit, even I was surprised with this reception to Dolan’s film, since he’s usually polarizing and divisive that his film getting a favorable consensus is new to me. I can envision a scenario of him winning the Palme actually, and being the youngest director to pull that off. But is the jury ready for that? Let’s see.

As for the annual snubbed film of the year that will join the ranks of Mike Leigh’s Another Year, Aki Kaurismaki’s  Le Havre, Leos Carax’ Holy Motors, and Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty, my bet is on Godard’s “Goodbye to Language 3D.” Seems like it will be too divisive for the jury to have a consensus on where to award it, regardless of its great reviews.

There you have it. Another year at Cannes has ended and this year seemed more competitive than the previous one. Sure we don’t have the totally groundbreaking ones, but we don’t have total clunkers this year (though the closest would have been Michel Hazanavicius’ The Search and Atom Egoyan’s Captives). I’m excited the most for Dolan, Ceylan, Assayas, Dardennes, and Cronenberg, so I hope we’d get to see them sooner. For the Un Certain Regard, Lisandro Alonso’s Jauja, Pascale Ferran’s Bird People, and Ryan Gosling’s Lost River (bad reviews be damned) are on the top of my list. Who do you think will end up winnign this year? Can Dolan be the youngest Palme director winner? is third time the charm for Marion Cotillard? Can Channing Tatum and Kristen Stewart add Cannes winner on their names? And can Naomi Kawase shift careers as the next Nostradamus now? I bet you’re excited to find out.

You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

REVIEW: Hope Springs   Leave a comment

Hope Springs is a very interesting film, to say the least. It’s material is not the same as your usual rom-com, it does not have two young leads on the helm, but it has Tommy Lee Jones and Meryl Streep in it. The result is more than the sum of its parts, and this is one gem of a film that rarely comes on our screen.

Husband and wife Arnold and Kaye (Jones and Streep respectively), are on their thirtieth year of marriage, and while Arnold has been pretty much contented with the way their life and relationship turned out to be. On the other hand, Kaye is expecting more. She feels the need to spice one aspect of their marriage that has long been absent. And so, they travel all the way to a week long counsel session with Dr. Feld (Carell)where they discovered more than what they asked for in terms of their personal lives.

I like the simplicity of the narrative especially since it dwells and opens a lot of possibilities in terms of story development. I also think that there’s a certain sense of maturity with the writing; one that suits the atmosphere of the movie perfectly, as it does not totally overdo the cutesy scenes, yet still finds room to insert them in the scenario.

The tandem of Jones and Streep was such a delight to see. Their chemistry is very existent, and they play off the characters assigned to them very naturally. When they’re sweet, it’s sweet, and when they’re awkward, you feel for the two of them. It’s already a given for Streep since she does have chemistry with… well everyone, but I particularly like to see Streep play a “normal” character devoid of all the wigs and the accents and the make up that she has been doing a lot the last few years. Jones was a revelation though; it’s as if he was actually the role he portrayed, and he deserves equal, if not more, credit than what we give to Streep. Carell was there in a very thankless role (anyone could have played that actually), but I enjoy watching him in the big screen so good for him.

All in all, this is a film full of heart. This type of film is rarely given the opportunity to be produced and made, so it’s such a delight to see this one made.

Rating: 3.5 / 5

REVIEW: Crazy, Stupid Love   2 comments

Good comedy usually comes only once in a  blue moon. Usually, they have to be teenage comedies (Mean Girls, Easy A) or they are too intelligent that common people miss the part why it is a comedy (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, A Serious Man). With Crazy, Stupid Love, it gets to single out the comedic parts without sacrificing the storylines of the film.

The writers of the film know what they’re doing when they wrote the screenplay of the film. It’s a movie highlight! There are parts that could have been bettered: I wish they lessened the near end graduation part, and I hope that they give Kevin Bacon some meatier story. There are also too many storylines opened by the film itself, but all that will be forgiven once your each THE scene of the movie. Just when you thought that you know everything about the film already, then I guarantee you that you’re wrong.

Steve Carell continues to prove his gem as an actor. Between this, the gay uncle in Little Miss Sunshine, and Michael Scott, he’s one of the most versatile character actors we have. This is his film and he certainly delivered. Everyone else gave perfect supporting turns. Julianne Moore is the farthest funniest actress we have but she knows how to nail all her dramatic scenes in the film. Emma Stone gets to have the best agent in town as she gets to have the bets resume out of any young actress right now. I personally liked Marisa Tomei’s scenes in the film because she demonstrated what a good actress she is by making the most of her limited screentime in the film. Newcomers Analeigh Tipton and Jonah Bobo also were remarkable in their debut roles.

I’m sorry but I have to give Ryan Gosling a paragraph of his own especially since I’m a big Gosling fanboy. The camera totally loves his face as he looks perfect in the screen. He gets to play a fun character this time around, and his chemistry with Carell is undeniable. He also gets to have the most memorable scenes in the film as summarized by these GIFs:

Anyway, this is a recommended film to everyone. What’s good is that it doesn’t cater to a specific audience only. This is an enjoyable and very entertaining film because of the story, the good ensemble, and that windmill scene. Without  a doubt, one of the year’s bests. 🙂

Grade: A-

Posted August 20, 2011 by Nicol Latayan in Reviews

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