This Oscar-nominated film tells the tale of Jenny, a 16-year-old girl who is seduced by a 35-year-old man. If you are reading this after the Oscar results have come in, then you will already know that Sandra Bullock has robbed Carey Mulligan of a deserved Best Actress Oscar (my prediction of events anyway – (ed. well played, sir)). Carey’s turn is without doubt completely deserving of an Oscar win and even with a strong supporting cast, she manages to totally steal the show. The film contains a great story, is completely involving and as mentioned features without doubt the best actress performance of 2009. I cannot recommend An Education enough.
Julie and Julia
Another Best Actress Oscar-nominated, this time for the most consistently amazing actresses in Hollywood. Which makes me feel bad to say – I don’t think she necessarily deserves an Oscar for this performance. Whether it’s because I didn’t enjoy Julie and Julia as much as I was hoping or whether it is because Meryl Streep has acted better in other movies and has set the bar so high I am unsure. This film has had a LOT of great reviews and that Streep has received a nomination for Best Actress probably indicates that this is a good movie, I didn’t find it outstanding and at times found it a little annoying. This opinion is probably not shared by a hell of a lot of people, but I think for this year Carey Mulligan has out-acted Meryl Streep and An Education I found to be a better film.
As this is another quiet week for DVDs, I have decided to mention a couple of horrors due for release that sound quite similar in plot to other horror films
Starting with CUT, a slasher that stars (and I use the term as loosely as possible) Danielle Lloyd! The plot follows 5 friends who are returning from a party. They discuss how urban legends are a load of rubbish before the night takes a horrible turn (Urban Legends anyone?). What interests me in this one is that the entire movie is one continuous shot!! Now the presence of Danielle Lloyd makes me feel like this will be godawful, but the one continuous shot sounds fantastic. I will be getting round to watching this movie soon (being a british horror, I wasn’t able to get my hands on an early import) and will possibly do a mini review in the near future. Next up is THE GRIND, the tale of a man heavily in debt to a mexican mob who sets up a voyeuristic Big Brother style website to generate revenue, which sounds not too dissimilar to BigBrother.com and My Little Eye. Inevitably for a horror/slasher, things don’t go to plan. Finally IMURDERS (probably not an Apple inc official product!). This stars Tony Todd and Billy Dee Williams, which can’t be a good sign. Members of an online website are murdered one by one. While I am not aware of a niche social network based horror, but for examples of killer websites look no further than tv series Killer net or the absolutely terrible Untraceable (or Unbearable as it should be known).
Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side
Helen Mirren for The Last Station
Carey Mulligan for An Education
Gabourey Sidibe for Precious
Meryl Streep for Julie & Julia
Okay, let’s get going. This undoubtedly to be the most interesting category of the lot, if interesting for you is having four possible winners. A couple of months back, I was pretty sure that Carey Mulligan was a shoe-in to win this – she had all the momentum and buzz to get her over the line. Then things started to shift and, as I said, I think there are four possible winners here. Before we kick off then, let’s just say, Helen Mirren won’t win.
Though I could gripe immediately with a bunch of the nominations given, I’m going to give the first part only of this over to the minor grips I have with the BAFTA nominations, announced this morning (and here in full via Empire Magazine).
The leading nominees, each with eight, are Avatar, The Hurt Locker and An Education. The overrating of An Education, at the expense of better British films like In the Loop and Fish Tank, is a little irritating, but the acting is so strong in the film that it seems to have elevated everything around it, including the nominated script by Nick Hornby and the nominated directing by Lone Scherfig. Avatar’s eight is mostly taken up with technical nods, which is entirely fair, but its picture nod, over Inglourious Basterds and Up, is predictable but wrong. Obviously, for those who read or listen to anything I say or write, know that I wholly agree with all The Hurt Locker nods, with my only desire to see much more attention given to Anthony Mackie in the supporting categories.
As with the Golden Globes, I can’t possibly pass this opportunity up to criticise the nomination of The Hangover for script, specifically given it is just a slightly adjusted take on Dude, Where’s My Car?. On personal taste, I probably wouldn’t have sought to reward the script for An Education, but kudos for adding District 9 which, despite a host of action movie tropes peppered throughout, is a much smarter film that the credit given would suggest.
The acting sections are all pretty good. That said, I wouldn’t have given Alec Baldwin a nod for It’s Complicated due to Anthony Mackie’s great performance in The Hurt Locker, but Baldwin is good so not too much annoyance there. Also very good indeed to see Christian McKay nominated for his amazing performance in Me and Orson Welles. Also great nod for Anne-Marie Duff for supporting actress in Nowhere Boy. This seems like the only place where Mo’Nique just might not win for Precious, so Duff and the others could nick it.
It’s a decent enough selection from BAFTA. They are slightly over-praising, as most have, An Education and, as most haven’t, Coco Before Chanel. The nomination of Audrey Tautou over the incredible debut by Katie Jarvis is jarring, but sometimes you have to give concession to BAFTA’s predeliction for costume drama, no matter the costume. But nothing but praise should be given to the nods for The Hurt Locker and District 9, though you might wish that some of the better British films, notably Moon and In the Loop, were given a little more attention outside of nods in those Brit-focused categories.
It would seem to me that the awards season should be used to reward the best films, the best performances in terms of the measurable quality of the product put out rather than the popularity of the nominees. The Golden Globes, as if edging, as my podcast colleague Tommy suggested today, towards becoming a glorified version of the MTV Movie Awards, has this year chosen to nearly-exclusively reward the popular choices.
I have no real problem with James Cameron getting best director; Avatar is an incredible achievement from a technical standpoint. But to reward that film, a confused hodgepodge of political allegory, predictable plot and stock characters, the prize for the best picture seems ridiculous. It is a huge milestone for technical filmmaking, but when put into 2D and playing on television screens across the land after its DVD release, the massive problems with the story and characters will become increasingly clear. To suggest other winners could easily be written off as me just griping that my favourite films didn’t win, but I don’t think many could deny that the success of the vision of The Hurt Locker or Inglourious Basterds far, far surpasses that of Avatar as a piece of storytelling.
Outside of that, witness the prize handed to Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side, a mawkish TV movie-style sleeper hit, beating the nuanced skill of Carey Mulligan in An Education. Witness The Hangover, winner of Best Musical/Comedy, rewarded for managing to convince an entire audience that it was funny despite having only one good performance and then three douchebags, one terrible cameo and one borderline-racist gangster. It was a weak category, but at least (500) Days of Summer spoke to a sense of truth and actually could fit into being both comedy and musical.
There should be some sense of duty for awards that, rather than pander to bringing in the largest possible audience for the truly pointless televising of the ceremony, they should seek to reward those filmmakers that have made films which, even if they failed to connect with audiences, have something to say beyond ‘see how fucking cool this looks!’
I did predict a few little while ago, but much has changed in the interim and I feel it necessary to update my prediction season for the nominees, something I will do again in early February just before the nominations are announced.
The primary change is the fall of Nine, previously considered a shoe-in for most categories, which looks likely to win absolutely nothing outside of a possible couple of technicals. Add to that the rising popularity of Inglourious Basterds and the seemingly-unstoppable attention being given to The Hurt Locker, plus the apparently disastrous The Lovely Bones, and some things have to change.
Below then are my predictions for the top few categories, with some explanation as to why and, bold as it may be, my predictions for the likely winners in each category.
Time to have a little guess again at which films could be nominated for Oscars in a couple of months time, just entirely based on hype and vague attempts to understand the predictable nature of the Academy. So, for debate and conjecture’s stake, enjoy these predictions for the Oscar nominations in 2010, post jump. Continue reading →
As we are prone to do, it feels like to kick-off the Oscar buzz season as awards from major film festivals begin to roll in and the ceremony approaches. I realise that this may feel like the kind of wishing-life-away feeling that it given as you walk into shops in mid-September and see Christmas stock out all over the place, but these will get more frequent as we get closer and can begin to actually predict what could win. This is more to provide an interesting gauge of how buzz works, how it changes and how wrong we could well end up being by the time the awards come around.
So, just for the big few categories, here’s what seems like it’s going to cause a stir this year: Continue reading →
The adaptation of Never Let Me Go, the incredible novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, has signed up Charlotte Rampling, Sally Hawkins, Nathalie Richard and Andrea Riseborough to add to the already signed Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield and, unfortunately, Keira Knightley.
It’s been adapted by Alex Garland, the writer of the Beach and mostly known for his collaboration with Danny Boyle, along with Mark Romanek as director. Romanek has shown promise in the past with the bald/creepy Robin Williams movie One Hour Photo. His visual style, developed during his time working in music videos (which peaked with this), could provide an interesting look for the movie, itself set in a dystopian future in the UK in which human are cloned to produce donor organs.
The actual narrative follows the like of Kathy H, along with two of her friends from boarding school, from their time at the school and then onwards into their lives.
It has the potential to be a work of complete art, but Knightley just seems to immediately put me off films. I’ll give it time through, Atonement managed to be very good with her in a prominent role. Hopefully therefore, the cast around her can save this from interminable accenting and inability to emote.
Separately to all that, Aravind Adiga’s Booker Prize winner The White Tiger has been picked up by Smuggler Films. The book itself was highly controversial for its equation of success and murder in modern India.