Nov 24, 2011

APSA winners announced, one more award for A Separation

I’d talked about the Asia Pacific Screen Awards previously when the nominations were announced. It’s one my favourite awards of the season because it’s the main international stage where Iranian films are consistently featured.

Leila Hatami and Peiman Moaadi in A Separation
The prizes were handed out today and lo and behold, an Iranian film claimed the top prize for the first time in the five year history of the awards. It’s yet another honour for Asghar Farhadi’s brilliant film A Separation. The result was predicted by almost everybody except yours truly. I thought the jury wouldn’t ignore A Separation’s screenplay and lead actor and also wouldn’t be willing to reward a single film with three prizes, hence why I predicted Once Upon a Time in Anatolia would prevail. I was wrong on all accounts.

The jury was in fact totally okay with handing three prizes to one film, that being the aforementioned Turkish film which took the Grand Jury Prize, Best Director for Nuri Bilge Ceylan (it’s his second win after 2008’s Three Monkeys) and an incredibly well deserved Best Cinematography award for Gokhan Tiryaki (I've already written about how much I love his work here.)

A Separation’s prize in the top category is the film’s lone award of the night. What I think is most surprising is that A Separation missed the Best Screenplay award since I think everybody would agree that that’s the film’s strongest suit. Maybe the jury didn’t want to over-reward Farhadi after what happened in Berlin? Or maybe the acclaimed Russian winner Silent Souls, which I haven’t seen yet, is actually a more deserving winner. (Iran’s second prize of the night was the High Commendation Best Children’s Feature Film given to Wind and Fog. I hadn’t heard of this film before the nominations were announced but it looks really intriguing.)

Aside from the cinematography prize, another category I did predict correctly was Best Actress which went to the second Russian winner of the night Nadezhda Markina for her role in Elena. I missed the film at TIFF but everyone who's seen it is doing cartwheels for her so it’s surely something to look forward to.

On a final note, Iran and Turkey have submitted A Separation and Anatolia for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars, as you probably know. Both films are stellar feats and the academy would be wise to nominate them, though I think A Separation stands a much better chance.

Anyway, take a look at the full list of winners after the jump:

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

Nov 17, 2011

The Documentary Dilemma

Ever since I saw Jose and Pilar, the Portuguese documentary film submitted for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, I've been wondering whether the voters in that branch have it in them to go there and nominate a documentary. The question's also been on my mind about the editing of Senna - which you might remember is one of my favourite films of the year - and Chris King's chances at getting a nomination in that category. 
I imagine the answer is a no in both cases, but anyway, over at The Film Experience, I've given the academy four suggestions to nominate docuementaries in non-documentary categories, because the more we talk about it, the likelier it is for voters to hear us! Have a read and join the conversation!
Scene from Pina, Germany's submission for best foreign film

Nov 13, 2011

In Case You Missed It...

...these are some awesome reads from this past week:

My favourite article was Robert Hamer's Top Ten People in Need of Biopics on Awards Circuit in honour of Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar. I haven't this film yet since virtually all the critics I trust have, to put it mildly, disliked it. But Robert's list is quite an intriguing one. All ten potential biopics are films I would welcome with open arms if they were well-executed like say McQueen's Hunger was (instead of a greatest hits type life story like I hear J. Edgar is.) My favourite story of the ten is Genie's but I'm not sure if anyone can pull that film off without ruining the mystique. My personal list would probably be different but I can't argue with his number one choice.

David Fincher by Annie Leibovitz
Nathaniel at The Film Experience directed me to this piece by Aaron Sorkin which is essentially a love letter to his The Social Network partner David Fincher. The letter's worth a read (duh! It's Sorkin!) and there are a few shots from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo that make me wanna have sex with the film.

The Young Turks discussed the recently released anti-meth commercials directed by Darren Aronofsky.  If you think Requiem for a Dream scared you away from doing drugs, wait to you get a hold of these. They're powerful,  terrifying and yet another example of Aronofsky's great talent as a director.
Besides, as Ana Kasparian puts it, this is a much more effective way of preventing drug use than having the government shake their fingers at kids and telling them it's illegal.

Finally, another J. Edgar related item in the form of Funny or Die's spoof of the film's trailer trailer. I'm actually quite a big fan of DiCaprio but he seems to be getting stuck in the same type of roles over and over again. I'm really happy he decided to take on Django Unchained. Given Tarantino's past with actors, I'm sure it will be a major addition to DiCaprio's resume. Anyway, here's the trailer/FYC ad for L. DiCaprio. It's hilarious.

Nov 10, 2011

My Top 7 Choices for Hosting the Oscars

The shenanigans about this year’s Oscar ceremony happened way too quickly for me to get to comment on. The gist of it is: Brett Ratner, the producer said some stupid things; he apologized and later resigned; Eddie Murphy, the host, also pulled out; Brian Grazer was announced as the new producer.
By the time I finish typing this Grazer might have brought in a new host. Anyway, I’m kinda bummed that Murphy left. I don’t remember his glory days as a stand-up but the clips I've seen here and there still make me laugh out of context. And the writing team seemed inventive and funny. In any case, it’s all over now and Grazer is hard at work – I assume – trying to get a new host.
I’m not opposed to most of the names being thrown around the blogosphere: The Wiig/McCarthy duo, Billy Crystal, Jim Carrey, Hugh Jackman, or even the hilarious but admittedly far-fetched idea of The Muppets. I can see myself enjoying a show hosted by any of them. Ben Stiller isn’t up there for me since I don’t really like the bits he’s done on stage in the past couple of years but he’s talented in several different areas, so what do I know?
With that in mind, here’s a list of my top seven choices for hosting the Oscars. From my mouth to Brian Grazer’s ears: 

Neil Patrick Harris opening the 82nd Academy Awards

7- Neil Patrick Harris
The obvious choice. He’ll get to host the show at some point I’m sure, so why not now? He’s charming; he’s funny; he can put on a show; he can sing and dance; plus, he’s been there before with a few musical numbers and he’s successfully hosted the Tony’s and the Emmy’s. I can’t see a single person objecting to him.
6- Stephen Colbert
His humour might be a little too edgy and political for Oscar’s taste but he’s arguably the funniest man on TV. Sometimes outsiders are better suited for this job than showbiz folks and if the producers want to get a non-actor, who better than Colbert?

Nov 5, 2011

What My Favourite Bloggers Are Up To...

School's really getting the better of me these days and blogging is kinda on the bottom of the list of priorities. I do keep up with my usual reading though so I thought I'd highlight a few of the interesting things that came around on the web last week, in case you missed them:

Over at dark eye socket, Craig Bloomfield had an interesting list for Halloween. Instead of writing up another one of those generic best horror films of all time lists, he went for the Top Five Scary Masks in Non-Scary Films. His choices are top-notch. I'm so bad at remembering specifics from films (unless I obsessively rewatch them) that I can't even think of anything that would possibly extend his list to a top ten.
Anyway, I've been a fan of Craig's Take Three series, so it's shameful that I only recently visited his own blog, but he's become my new favourite blogger.

At PopMatters, Jose's looking back at the short but powerful filmography of Jean Vigo, calling it history's most perfect filmography. I commented on his own blog that Luis Bunuel is my go-to guy when somebody asks me for a perfect filmography, only to realize that I'm actually missing a couple of titles. Could they be so bad to change my perception of Bunuel? I hardly think so. Then there are more recent filmmakers whose filmographies we're readily familiar with. Tarantino, Farhadi and to an extent, Paul Thomas Anderson all have good records for me, though not close to perfection. Have a read and chime in with your thoughts. 

At Grantland, Bill Simmons has an interesting take on the career trajectory of this year's Oscar host and one of the greatest comedians of all time, Eddie Murphy. He thinks Murphy doesn't get quite enough praise for his genius and ends his piece with this:

"I don't know why we stopped caring about Eddie, why we never give him the benefit of the doubt, why we never consider him a pioneer, why we were in such a hurry to marginalize him. I just know that we don't, and we don't, and we don't. And we did."

At Antagony and Ecstasy, Tim Brayton gives another one of his monthly previews, this time for November's films. He's as funny and cynical as ever. Reading his previews are very often more enjoyable than watching the actual films. 

"Immortals is going to be awful, and it really causes me pain that Immortals is going to be awful, because it's the third film by Tarsem Singh, after The Cell and The Fall both of which I pretty much love all the way down to my toes. Setting aside the fact that it's a 300 knock-off, I pray that it will be easy on the eyes, at least. Something that will not be true of Jack and Jill, in which Adam Sandler plays both of the title characters. Yes, it's the Adam Sandler drag movie we've all been waiting for."

Finally, in non-film related news, The Cat with Binoculars, who's always great at highlighting amusing things (and art pieces) had this video to share from Conan O'Brien's interview with Louis C.K. No one can make me laugh as much as he does. Hilarious, his stand-up from last year, was the most aptly titled film of the year.