Vincent's Views

Home » Posts tagged 'awards'

Tag Archives: awards

Darkest Hour

the-darkest-hour-movie

With the clacking of a typewriter, Darkest Hour echoes Atonement, Joe Wright’s earlier (and more impressive) foray into World War II drama. The bravura moment of that film was an extraordinary long take of the British troops trapped at Dunkirk, the focus of Christopher Nolan’s award botherer. Darkest Hour presents the time of Dunkirk from another perspective – that of Parliament in May 1940 as Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman) takes the office of British Prime Minister while Europe collapses before the Third Reich. Winston faces multiple challenges as he tries to wrangle survival for the troops and also protect his own position. Oldman is superb, unrecognisable in remarkable makeup yet never appearing to be a man in makeup. From his voice that wanders from quavering to strident (more varied than Brian Cox’s equally powerful turn), Oldman brilliantly portrays a career politician who understands the game of Westminster and only plays it his way. As a character study the film is effective and compelling, and Wright uses some thrilling cinematic effects such as long takes that travel around the House of Commons and overhead shots that range from Winston working furiously in bed as well as beleaguered British soldiers in Calais. At other times, however, the drama feels overdetermined, such as the machinations of Neville Chamberlain (Ronald Pickup) and Viscount Halifax (Stephen Dillane) as well as a sequence on the London Underground when Winston performs a mini-referendum on relations with Germany. This speaking to the people raises the interesting question of how to view the film through the lens of Brexit. There may be a temptation to adopt Darkest Hour for nationalistic propaganda, its depiction of a time when Britain stood against Europe calling for Britain to stand against the EU in these uncertain times. Equally, one can see Darkest Hour as a call for unity across borders in a time of division and mistrust, a point emphasised by Winston’s rallying of MPs even as the War Cabinet plots against him. For all its flaws, Darkest Hour still offers much food for debate, be that Parliamentary or otherwise.

Golden Globe Winners

Affleck

It is said that in Hollywood, no one knows anything.  As I am not in Hollywood, how much do I know, especially about what will win at the Golden Globes?

 

Best Motion Picture – Drama

Argo

Django Unchained

Life of Pi

Lincoln

Zero Dark Thirty

I said: Zero Dark Thirty.  The Globes said: Argo.  I have no problem with this as I loved Argo, and am yet to see Zero Dark Thirty.  I also said that if Zero Dark Thirty did not win, the field would go wide open.  It’s open.

 

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Les Misérables

Moonrise Kingdom

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Silver Linings Playbook

My hunch was Les Misérables, and I was right!  This barnstorming musical was the big winner at the Globes, and perhaps it will continue in this vein.

 

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama

Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln

Richard Gere for Arbitrage

John Hawkes for The Sessions

Joaquin Phoenix for The Master

Denzel Washington for Flight

No surprise that Daniel Day-Lewis picked up this gong, but what is surprising is that no other awards came the way of Lincoln.  Expect Mr Day-Lewis to continue his winning ways.

 

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama

Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty

Marion Cotillard for Rust and Bone

Helen Mirren for Hitchcock

Naomi Watts for The Impossible

Rachel Weisz for The Deep Blue Sea

I bet on Marion Cotillard, and lost (fortunately I did not bet money).  Zero Dark Thirty may not be the film to beat, but Jessica Chastain could be the woman to watch, and I have no problem with that.

 

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Jack Black for Bernie

Bradley Cooper for Silver Linings Playbook

Hugh Jackman for Les Misérables

Ewan McGregor for Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Bill Murray for Hyde Park on Hudson

My leanings were toward Hugh Jackman, and whose wouldn’t be?  No surprise as he picked up this award.  Enjoy it Hugh, you are unlikely to get another.

 

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Emily Blunt for Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Judi Dench for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook

Maggie Smith for Quartet

Meryl Streep for Hope Springs

I rated Jennifer Lawrence a strong contender and she walked away with globular gold.  This makes her a prime contender for further awards, so keep your eye on this one (I also have no problem with this).

 

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

Alan Arkin for Argo

Leonardo DiCaprio for Django Unchained

Philip Seymour Hoffman for The Master

Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln

Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained

I thought Philip Seymour Hoffman had a good chance here, but instead Christoph Waltz adds another award to his cabinet.  Perhaps his fortune will continue.

 

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

Amy Adams for The Master

Sally Field for Lincoln

Anne Hathaway for Les Misérables

Helen Hunt for The Sessions

Nicole Kidman for The Paperboy

I said overall awards for Les Miserables would be scant, but it was actually the biggest winner at the Globes, Supporting Actress bringing its tally to three.  This spread of awards may be seen again at future ceremonies, with no one film sweeping the board.

 

Best Director – Motion Picture

Ben Affleck for Argo

Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty

Ang Lee for Life of Pi

Steven Spielberg for Lincoln

Quentin Tarantino for Django Unchained

I thought this would be either Lee VS Bigelow, but instead it went to Affleck.  Interesting that the HFPA rewarded (probably) the most political film of the bunch here, but from a technical, directorial standard, Argo is masterful.  It is interesting that Affleck has a few awards now, collecting both this and the Critics Choice Award.  He could well get the DGA and the BAFTA as well, but is not up for the Oscar.  Again, the field is pretty open.

 

Best Screenplay – Motion Picture

Argo: Chris Terrio

Django Unchained: Quentin Tarantino

Lincoln: Tony Kushner

Silver Linings Playbook: David O. Russell

Zero Dark Thirty: Mark Boal

I anticipated a sweep for Zero Dark Thirty and was so wrong, not expecting much for Django Unchained.  But Tarantino pulls it off, and perhaps he will continue to do so.

 

Best Animated Film

Brave

Frankenweenie

Hotel Transylvania

Rise of the Guardians

Wreck-It Ralph

Having won this, Brave demonstrates the continued dominance of Pixar.  I thought Frankenweenie had a shot, but this is less likely now.

 

Best Foreign Language Film

Amour

Untouchable

Kon-Tiki

A Royal Affair

Rust and Bone

Tentatively, I went with Love, and won with Amour.  Considering the multiple awards Michael Haneke’s film is up for, this was not a surprise.

 

Overall, I got 6 correct predictions out of 12, which isn’t that good.  The Golden Globes tend to be a good indicator for future awards, but when the nominations vary, as they certainly have in the Directing category, predictions become harder.  But then, that makes things more interesting.

BAFTA 2012

Very quickly, these are my predictions for the British Academy Awards scheduled for 12th February.  For a bit of variety, as well as including who and what I think will win, in some cases I’ve also noted who and what I would like to win (in some cases, they’re the same).  This is not the same as saying who should win – after all, who am I to say what’s best?  If I become a member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, then I’ll be qualified (it could happen), but for now, I’m not so arrogant as to assume I know best.  Anyway, enjoy the BAFTAs, and see if I’m right!

Best Film

The Artist

The Descendants

Drive

The Help

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

The Artist is set to continue its winning ways, which if nothing else is quite a novelty (the film, not its winning ways).  But Drive gave me a particular thrill, and I’m glad to see it recognised at least with a nomination

Film Not in the English Language

Incendies

Pina

Potiche

A Separation

The Skin I Live In

Haven’t seen any of these, but A Separation is gathering the kudos so why doubt its continuance?

Outstanding British Film

My Week with Marilyn

Senna

Shame

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

We Need to Talk About Kevin

We Need to Talk About Kevin has been widely praised and I see the Academy rewarding it.  I have only seen two of these, and wasn’t that impressed by My Week with MarilynTTSS, however, was excellent.

Director

The Artist – Michel Hazanavicius

Drive – Nicolas Winding Refn

Hugo – Martin Scorsese

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – Tomas Alfredson

We Need to Talk About Kevin – Lynne Ramsay

It seems nothing can stop Michel Hazanavicius, but thanks for reminding us of the sheer range of cinematic wonder, Marty.

Leading Actor

Brad Pitt (Billy Beane) – Moneyball

Gary Oldman (George Smiley) – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

George Clooney (Matt King) – The Descendants

Jean Dujardin (George Valentin) – The Artist

Michael Fassbender (Brandon) – Shame

It is Clooney’s time, methinks, and with The Artist attracting awards like a magnet, I think BAFTA may honour The Descendants here.  But I love our Gary.

Leading Actress

Bérénice Bejo (Peppy Miller) – The Artist

Meryl Streep (Margaret Thatcher) – The Iron Lady

Michelle Williams (Marilyn Monroe) – My Week with Marilyn

Tilda Swinton (Eva) – We Need to Talk About Kevin

Viola Davis (Aibileen Clark) – The Help

Streep is easily the best thing in The Iron Lady, and it’s about time she won again.

Supporting Actor

Christopher Plummer (Hal) – Beginners

Jim Broadbent (Denis Thatcher) – The Iron Lady

Jonah Hill (Peter Brand) – Moneyball

Kenneth Branagh (Sir Laurence Olivier) – My Week with Marilyn

Philip Seymour Hoffman (Paul Zara) – The Ides of March

Tough one here, but Broadbent is the sort of chap/performance that BAFTA tend to reward, so I think it’ll be him.  Philip Seymour Hoffman is always great, and especially acerbic and powerful in The Ides of March,  so that would be nice.

Supporting Actress

Carey Mulligan (Irene) – Drive

Jessica Chastain (Celia Foote) – The Help

Judi Dench (Dame Sybil Thorndike) – My Week with Marilyn

Melissa McCarthy (Megan) – Bridesmaids

Octavia Spencer (Minny Jackson) – The Help

The Help is a terribly respectable film but only the acting is outstanding, so I see it getting rewarded here but nowhere else.  But give an award to comedy for laughing out loud!

Animated Film

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn

Arthur Christmas

Rango

Original Music

The Artist

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Hugo

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

The Artist tells so much with its music, plus it aids the nostaliga.

Original Screenplay

The Artist

Bridesmaids

The Guard

The Iron Lady

Midnight in Paris

Again, nothing stops the silent star.  But come on, Bridesmaids is SO funny!

Adapted Screenplay

The Descendants

The Help

The Ides of March

Moneyball

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

TTSS gets thrown a bone – a fairly meaty one for a thoroughly meaty script.

Cinematography

The Artist

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Hugo

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

War Horse

There’s almost no limit to what you can do with a camera…

Editing

The Artist

Drive

Hugo

Senna

Tinker Tailor Solider Spy

Production Design

The Artist

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2

Hugo

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

War Horse

Make Up & Hair

The Artist

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2

Hugo

The Iron Lady

My Week with Marilyn

Costume Design

The Artist

Hugo

Jane Eyre

My Week with Marilyn

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Special Visual Effects

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2

Hugo

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

War Horse

Documentary

George Harrison: Living in the Material World

Project Nim

Senna

Sound

The Artist

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2

Hugo

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

War Horse

Oscars – who are we to say they’re wrong?

Every year the Oscar nominations are announced, and every year everybody and their dog proclaims that the Academy got it wrong and that everybody else (and their dog) knows far better. Whether it be critics or audiences, the Internet is never short of comments offering alternative versions of what “should” be nominated. This year has been no exception – as an example, while there is little protest over the nominations of The Artist and Hugo, many lament that Drive has been left out of, not only the Best Picture category, but every category except for a “paltry” nod for Sound Editing. On a related note, after his three major performances in three very different films last year, it seems rather mean that Ryan Gosling has been ignored in the Best Actor category. I’ve never heard of Demian Bichir, nor the film for which he is nominated, A Better Life, so it’s a good thing he is nominated as it will help publicise the film.

Critics are quick to insist that they know better – and it is after all their job to be critical. This year, the Academy has been soundly berated for not nominating Senna for Best Documentary. Critics have their own set of awards – National Board of Review, Critics Societies and Associations of various cities, National Society of Film Critics – and the BBC critic Mark Kermode presents his own awards each year, named the Kermodes. The only rule for winning a Kermode is that the nominee must not also have been nominated for an Oscar. While this practice is entertaining, the fact that alternative awards exist demonstrates that critics have their own position, maybe their own standards, and run their own awards, so why not be different from the Academy? If all awards went to the same films, that would mean everyone thought the same way, and we all appreciate variety and range of opinion, don’t we?

Similarly, we the public have a great range of different opinions, and all can be respected. I mentioned to a friend that The Tree of Life was up for Best Picture and Best Director because I knew he liked it. He asked about Melancholia with an expectant air, and on being told it had not been nominated commented that he hates the Oscars. Is this because they have a different position, and they should agree with him? Is “greatness” not a concept that is hard to identify and even harder to make universally accepted?

Complaining about what “should” be nominated is, to me, pointless and rather arrogant. Who are we to tell the Academy members how to do their job? Does the fact that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences consists of people who make films count for nothing? As the public, we vote in our ticket buying habits, and with people’s choice awards. When the public disagree with the Oscar winners, the question that always strikes me is “Why do you know better? What standards are you following, which are clearly different and seemingly superior to those of the Academy members?” We don’t know what goes through the heads of the Academy members any more than we know what goes through the heads of the other people at the supermarket or on the bus, and yet we are not shy to declare that we know better. Yet how we know better is a question few seem willing or even able to answer.

Why, indeed, would we, the viewing public, know what constitutes the “best” films? Or, for that matter, the best directing, writing, acting, editing, cinematography, sound mixing, sound editing, visual effects, art direction, costume design, music, make-up? I have a PhD in Film Studies, and am often asked “What’s a really good film?” or “What’s the best film ever?” I have absolutely no idea, and neither does anyone else. The Academy members are, in that respect, like the rest of us, choosing and voting for what they happen to admire. Some of us like to post our own favourites each year, my previous post being just that. I don’t think my top ten are necessarily the best, they are simply what I enjoyed. Yes, the Academy Awards are more significant than some random blogger’s top ten, but it seems unlikely that they are actually judged by any standard that is higher than that. Therefore, can we not view the Oscars as an expression of admiration among film industry workers for their peers?

This is not to say that I necessarily agree with the Academy’s decisions. For my money, Avatar is a more impressive piece of cinema than The Hurt Locker, because it genuinely stretches the boundaries of what cinema can do. The 2008 nominees (Slumdog Millionaire, Milk, The Reader, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon) were a rather bland collection, I thought, and both The Dark Knight and The Wrestler were far more powerful and compelling pieces of work. Last year, I found The Social Network to be an edgier and more critical and relevant piece than The King’s Speech, which was perfectly put together but rather too pat, too respectable, too safe. I found something else to be more impressive than what won or was nominated, but that doesn’t mean that my opinion is superior to those of the Academy members.

What is a more interesting question is why certain films get nominated and awarded over others. As a cultural institution, the Academy Awards are a fascinating expression of certain standards of taste. The very fact that The King’s Speech is about good behaviour, doing your duty and triumphing over adversity suggests that it made a more “respectable” choice than the ultimately inconsequential tale of highly intelligent but thoroughly unpleasant people squabbling over copyright laws in The Social Network. The Hurt Locker‘s depiction yet lack of commentary on the Iraq War made it a more “important” and “worthy” although non-controversial film than the science fiction spectacle of Avatar, even though Avatar is far more explicitly political. In the case of Melancholia, its being ignored probably has as much to do with Lars Von Trier’s controversial statements at the Cannes Film Festival as the high or low quality of the film. Political and personal taste will always have a bearing; rather than getting on our judgemental high horses it seems far more interesting to consider the reasoning behind decisions rather than just condemning them as incorrect.

As an initial consideration of reasoning, a glance over this year’s nominees suggests a strong element of nostalgia, with The Artist and Hugo, both acutely concerned with the history of cinema, leading the pack. The Academy members are clearly appreciative of this nostalgia, and seek to reward it. Why shouldn’t they? Both films are likely to win big, with The Artist gathering momentum having picked up Golden Globes, PGA and DGA. Acting awards are likely to be among The Artist, The Descendants and The Help, with technical awards scattered among the Best Picture nominees. I will post a more in-depth set of predictions nearer the time, but what I won’t do is say what should win. The Academy members are allowed their opinions just like everyone else, and are no more right or wrong than anyone else.