Awards Season 2014

So it was the Golden Globes this past weekend thus starting the official run of Awards Season – quite possibly my favourite time of year. Although there have already been several film critics’ awards, the Globes marks the start of the heavyweight ceremonies, leading up the King of them all – the Oscars. Most years I’ve paid attention during awards season but last year I got quite involved in the run up and this year I’ve made it my mission to watch many of them, so look out for my reviews of them in the next few months. So here is my rundown of what films to watch out for over the next few months and why.

American Hustle

David O’Russell reunites Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence from last year’s triumph Silver Linings Playbook and Christian Bale and Amy Adams from The Fighter and creates a fantastic ensemble drama with some stellar powerhouse performances which could see each of the four names above being nominated in the respective acting categories. The film performed really well at the Globes last night, with 3 acting wins and the best picture in a comedy/musical. O’Russell will probably get directing nominations and I could see it getting make-up and hair noms for its fantastic 70’s do’s.

12 Years a Slave

The true story of a man who is sold into slavery in America has been gaining momentum since the summer, and going into awards season is the frontrunner for Best Film. Chiwetel Ejiofo is also looking like a strong contender for Best Actor (for keen geeks, recognise him from Serenity?), and director Steve McQueen is looking good for a best director nomination.

Dallas Buyers Club

 

Matthew McConaughey further cements his place in serious acting roles with his turn as an AIDS sufferer in the movie, where he famously dropped a tonne of wait for the role – I’m sure he’ll pop up for acting nominations, but faces stiff competition. We can also expect Jared Leto to be in the running for Best Supporting Actor.

Frozen

This animated movie is certain for a nod for Best Original Song and Best Animated movie – it’s a magical movie and beautifully made.

 

Blue is the Warmest Colour

After it gained huge success at the Cannes Film Festival, surely this is one of the frontrunners for Best Foreign Film?

August Osage County

This ensemble cast is led by powerhouses Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep and deals with a dysfunctional family unit. It’s an outsider in terms of the frontrunners, but it looks like a great movie!

Philomena

 

This heart-warming true story could see a fair few acting nominations for Judi Dench who gives a stellar performance.

Her

 

Spike Jones’ film is gaining in its popularity and could see it being nominated for best film but also for Joaquin Phoenix’s performance as a man who falls in love with a computerised voice.

Inside Llewyn Davies

 

A film about a young country singer is the dark horse in this year’s awards films; with the film coming from the pot of the Coen brothers, anything is possible. Best Director(s), Best Screenplay are all possible nominations.

Blue Jasmine

 

Woody Allen’s latest film has a banker in its books in the form of Cate Blanchett – she’s an awards machine and is a shoe-in for the Best Actress title. Allen could get Best Director nominations as well as Sally Hawkins receiving Best Supporting Actress nods.

All is Lost

 

This tense drama involved Robert Redford lost at sea, contending with dangerous conditions (basically a slightly different version of Gravity). However, critics are calling this film one of Redford’s finest performances, so don’t be surprised if he receives nominations through the series.

Gravity

This Alfonso Cuarón film was a non-stop tense and magical ride when I saw it a few months ago, and Cuarón’s win at last night’s Globes cements him as one of the favourites to take home the Best Director prizes. Sandra Bullock could also pick up Best Actress nominations.

The Wolf of Wall Street

Martin Scorsese’s latest film about a stock broker who over-drinks, uses drugs, creates debauchery and generally throws money away in a relentless morally corrupt story. Scorsese will probably see plenty of Director nominations, whilst DiCaprio could be the dark horse for Best Actor, particularly after picking up the award at last night’s Globes. Could this finally be his year?

 

The Oscar nominations are announced on Thursday, and until the ceremony on March 2nd, I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled on the awards season with keen interest.

 

“I don’t know if anybody’s ever ready for another awards season. It’s kind of like Christmas.” (James McAvoy)

Final Oscar’s Preview

After a solid months’ worth of Awards, glitz and glamour, the stage is set for the biggest night of them all – the Academy Awards; the culmination of the awards season, and perhaps the cherry on top of the cake.

As I’ve said before Awards season is my favourite time of year and I automatically geek out wanting to know who the favourites are and what is considered ‘top dog’. This year is no different; in fact I’d hedge a bet that I’ve been more involved this year, actively wanting to watch the films nominated (or stumbling upon them even before award season starts –Argo I’m looking at you.)

Now that most of the major awards ceremonies have passed and with only a week to go until the Oscars, we now have a much better idea on the frontrunners for each major award – some have been more of less show ins from the start, others not so much along a few surprises thrown into the mix. With this final Oscars preview I’m going to give a rundown on the major awards who is poised and ready to take the prize and who I want to win.

Best Picture

The race for the top prize has been mostly one sided, and not what people expected. Lincoln was expected to do well in awards season, with the might of Steven Spielberg and a powerhouse performance by Daniel Day-Lewis in its favour. However, much to my delight, it has been the underdog Argo picking up the Best Picture award left, right and centre and its now frontrunner for the prize. However, taking into account the Academy’s record of not giving the Best Picture award to a film where its director is not nominated for Best Director could stand against Argo on the night. In this case, I truly hope Argo triumphs on the night.

Best Actor

This category is pretty much locked down and the early favourite from the start Daniel Day-Lewis is certainly the favourite to take the award. He has competition from Bradley Cooper and an outside chance from Hugh Jackman but I’m sure nothing can stop Day-Lewis from winning his 3rd Oscar.

Best Actress

Best Actress is a little more difficult to guess as to how it’s going to go – it’s mainly been going to Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty or to Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Lining’s Playbook and on the night I think it’ll be one of these two that claims the prize. However the BAFTA’s threw in a wild card when 85 year-old Emmanuelle Riva won the award. It’s going to be interesting and difficult to call who it will go to but I would like to see Chastain prevail on the night.

Best Supporting Actor

Again another surprising category as Tommy Lee Jones was an early favourite for his turn in Lincoln; however he has only won one major award this season and the category has mainly been dominated by Christoph Waltz’s performance in Django Unchained.  All the nominees in this category are past Oscar winners, but I think Christoph Waltz will take the award.

Best Supporting Actress

Throughout the award season there has really only been one winner and surely nothing can derail her now? Anne Hathaway has been spending awards nights clutching trophies, and making gushing award speeches, and I’m hoping that come February 23rd she’ll be making another one.

Best Director

Now this category is very much wide open. Throughout the awards season it has been Ben Afflek who has mostly been triumphing in this category, and rightly so as Argo is a fantastic film. However, thanks to the Academy snubbing him earlier in the year, he won’t be taking away the Academy award. Kathryn Bigelow won’t be winning for Zero Dark Thirty either after the Academy snubbed her as well so this category is truly wide open; it’ll probably go to Steven Spielberg, but I hope it goes to David O’ Russell for Silver Linings Playbook. It’s a fantastic film and one that’s close to the director’s heart, evident from his interviews about the film and his actors gushing words about him. If it can’t be Afflek, I would be happy if it was him.

Best Song

Even though Les Mis wrote an entire new song, just for this category, I still think nothing can stop Adele triumphing with the fabulous ‘Skyfall’ from the Bond movie of the same name, flying the flag for the UK.

 

The Academy Awards air Sunday 24th February in America (or if you are in the UK the ceremony will star at around 1am).

 

“The Golden Globes are fun. The Oscars are Business.” (Warren Beatty)

Les Misérables

The grand, orchestration opening and the image of a ship being pulled by dozens of tired and oppressed men and the opening words of “Look Down” and already I had Goosebumps. This was a musical adaptation I was extremely looking forward to, potentially more for the fact that I love anything Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman are in, rather than my love for the musical. I have seen the stage version of Les Misérables but that was a couple of years ago and I didn’t follow it very well. Now that I’m older I felt I could appreciate it so much more and appreciate it I did!

The story spans across decades and is split into three sections – the first sees the protagonist Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) finishing his 19 year stint in prison after stealing a loaf of bread for himself and his sister’s family. Hugh Jackman really does look totally unrecognisable in the first 20 minutes of so – he lost a lot of weight and for the opening scene in the prison he didn’t drink any water for 36 hours beforehand to make him look as old and weary as possible. He is released from prison and from his jailer Javert (Russell Crowe). The first interaction between Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman was fantastic and that standard was kept up throughout the entire movie. Their scenes together oozed hatred and tension and were electrifying to watch. The two characters are the two constants across the film. Valjean is at his lowest ebb – an ex-convict, he is met with prejudice and rejection at every turn until a chance encounter with a priest reignites his faith in God and in himself (personally his soliloquy is one of my favourite in this movie and left me feeling breathless with that last note).

The second section starts and it has been eight years since Valjean was released from prison and he is now a respectable businessman and at this point we meet Fantine (Anne Hathaway) perhaps the biggest ‘miserable’ in this musical. She has a small child that is living with innkeepers and she sends money to them, but after an altercation with the creepy foreman she is fired. In desperation she sells her possessions, her hair and even her teeth, turning to prostitution to make ends meet. Her performance of ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ is raw and heartbreaking. The anger at the way her life has turned out and the sadness radiates off her expressions and her vocals portray the same desperation and realness to Fantine’s plight. All in all she is on screen for around 15 minutes but her performance is breathtaking and after already picking up the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress I truly hope to see her stood on that Oscar stage with the award in her hand.

Fantine dies of exhaustion and disease, but before this she is found by Valjean and he promises to look after her child, Cosette. Whilst all this is going on, Valjean crosses paths with Jalvert again and a game of cat and mouse between the two characters is initiated, ongoing throughout the entire film. Valjean rescues Cosette from her life with the crooked innkeepers, (played by Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter brilliantly, offering dark comedic humour whenever they pop up through the film) we jump nine years into the future where Valjean is older and greyer, and Cosette is a young woman (now played by Amanda Seyfried). The streets of Paris are filled with revolutionaries and we meet Eddie Redmayne’s Marius, who falls in love with the beautiful Cosette; this turns out to be extremely unfortunate for Eponine (played by Samantha Barks who some may remember from Andrew Llyoyd Webber’s search for Nancy) who is in fact in love with the young revolutionary. The three are locked in an agonizing love triangle, and Barks and Redmayne give a fantastic performance, both sounding beautiful and giving true emotions. Even though I am a fan of Seyfried, I have to say her portrayal of Cosette didn’t do a lot for me and as a character I wasn’t as emotionally invested in her as I was for other characters.

In the end, the revolutionaries all die horrible deaths at the barricade (including Eponine) with Marius escaping with the help of Valjean. Jalvert commits suicide and Marius and Cosette reunite and wed. Valjean retreats to die alone, but just before he dies, Marius and Cosette find him and he dies, the movie ending with a heart-warming rendition of ‘Do you Hear the People Sing’ from those that died through the film. The director Tom Hooper does a marvellous job brining everything together; the live music really makes the performances more real and gives it extra emotion. The one criticism I can give is the sets within the streets of Paris seem very small and you can almost sense the fact they are soundstages. However, once you get past this the movie takes you on a rollercoaster and hopefully revolutionises movie musicals, encouraging more to take the same approach as Hooper and allow the actors to sing live. You leave the movie feeling emotionally drained and I would recommend this movie for anyone that is a fan of a good musical.

 

Jean Valjean: My name is Jean Valjean.

Jalvert: And I am Jalvert. Do not forget my name. Do not forget ME….24601 (Les Misérables)

Tis the Season for Awards

For the longest time now the months of January and February have brought one of my favourite times of year – film awards season! It all kicks off properly this Sunday with the Golden Globes, but this past week has seen the nominations for the BAFTA’s and the Oscars come out so I thought it was appropriate to run down the main contenders for the tops awards across the board.

 

Lincoln

Steven Spielberg’s biopic about US President Abraham Lincoln is certainly one of the frontrunners for best film – it’s nominated for Best Picture across the major awards and Daniel Day-Lewis’ powerhouse performance as President Lincoln is quite possibly the one to beat in the Best Actor category. Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones are also nominated in the Best Supporting categories. Spielberg has been a bit hit and miss with getting nominations for Best Director – he hit jackpot with an Oscar nod and Golden Globe, but was left out of the BAFTA nominations. However, I feel Lincoln will have a healthy awards season and tonight’s Globes could be the start of that.

Zero Dark Thirty

Kathryn Bigelow’s drama about the search for Osama Bin Laden, the biggest man hunt seen in recent years is also a very high possibility for Best Picture. It star Jessica Chastain is certainly one of the frontrunners for Best Actress given her stellar performance and Kathryn Bigelow could also potentially walk away with an award of two for her direction of the film. Sadly though, she won’t be winning her second Oscar as she was surprisingly snubbed in this year’s nominations.

 

Argo

Ben Afflek’s true story drama based around the Iranian hostage situation in the late 70’s could snake in and take Best Picture as it has started to pick up momentum in some of the smaller awards ceremonies. Alan Arkin has picked up an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor and Aflek has gotten several nominations for Best Director and even picked up a BAFTA Best Actor nomination. However, shockingly he is also not in the running for Best Director at the Oscars, a snub which perhaps comes down to the fact he is an actor turned director. However, I really hope this film does well – It’s such an awesome film and it deserves some recognition.

 

 

Silver Linings Playbook

David O. Russell’s comedy starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper had great critical reviews when it first came out and also stands a good chance at picking up some Best Picture awards, particulary at tonight’s Globes as the Best Film is split into drama and comedy – with the only film surely standing in its way being Les Misérables. Lawrence and Cooper both stand a good chance at Best Actor/Actress, particularly tonight at the Golden Globes when the categories are split.

 

 

 

Les Misérables

Tom Hooper’s movie based on the musical has also picked up Best Picture nominations across the board but Hooper has failed to pick up a lot of Best Director nominations. It stands a chance in the Best Song category with ‘Suddenly’ the new song specifically wrote for the film (and this award). Anne Hathaway is certainly the frontrunner in the Best Supporting Actress category for her amazing performance in this film, and Hugh Jackman has also picked up several nominations for Best Actor, including an Oscar nod. He certainly gives the performance of his career and he stands an even bigger shot of picking up the Globe with the categories again split into drama and comedy/musical.

 

 

 

Life of Pi

Ang Lee’s film looks visually stunning, and having picked up nominations from across the board he’s certainly in the race. However, I think this film will probably take some of the less dominant awards such as Cinematography and Visual Effects.

 

 

 

 

 

The Master

It seems nominations for this film have favoured the actors more so with Joaquin Pheonix, Amy Adams and Phillip Seymour Hoffman getting nominations left, right and centre for their roles in this film. Hoffman is probably the most likely to pick up something as Adams will be mostly up against the juggernaut train that is Anne Hathaway and Phoenix will be up again heavyweights Day-Lewis and Bradley Cooper.

 

 

 

Django Unchained

Tarantino’s latest film has had a mixed bag in this awards season – despite Leonardo DiCaprio giving a wonderful performance he failed to pick up a lot of nominations, with the Academy snubbing him in the Best Supporting Actor category in favour of his co-star Christoph Waltz. Tarantino himself also failed to get a nomination from the Academy for Best Director, but nonetheless he could still pick up a few wins in over ceremonies.

 

 

There is the main contenders for this year’s awards – as the season goes on, and we build to the finale that is the Academy Awards, we’ll have more of an inclination about who and what will take the big awards. I know I’ll certainly be keeping a close eye on everything.