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Awards Season Essential Films

Why Children of Men should be nominated for Best Picture

This YouTube video singing the praises of Children of Men is a grass roots viral that neatly emphasises why the film is wholly deserving of a Best Picture nomination.

> My original review of Children of Men
> Reviews of Children of Men at Metacritic

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Awards Season Interesting

Cuaron, Innaritu & Del Toro on The Charlie Rose Show

Charlie Rose hosts a roundtable discussion with Mexican directors Alfonso Cuaron, Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu and Guillermo Del Toro. They discuss their latest films (Children of Men, Babel and Pan’s Labyrinth), their careers and their friendships.

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Awards Season News

The Golden Globe Nominations

The Golden Globe nominations were announced earlier today. Although the organisation behind them is often regarded as something of a joke, they are often an important indicator of what might happen at the Oscars.

This year the frontrunners are Babel (7 nominations), The Departed (6 nominations), Dreamgirls (5 nominations) and The Queen (4 nominations).

The absence of United 93 and Children of Men from this list is very disappointing but if they keep getting nods from critics groups they could still figure at the Oscars.
Here is the full list of film nomitnations:

Best Film – Drama
Babel
The Departed
Little Children
The Queen
Bobby

Best Film – Musical Or Comedy
Borat
Little Miss Sunshine
Dreamgirls
The Devil Wears Prada
Thank You For Smoking

Best Director
Clint Eastwood – Flags of Our Fathers
Clint Eastwood – Letters from Iwo Jima
Stephen Frears – The Queen
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu – Babel
Martin Scorsese – The Departed

Best Actress – Drama

Penelope Cruz – Volver
Judi Dench – Notes on a Scandal
Maggie Gyllenhaal – Sherrybaby
Kate Winslet – Little Children
Helen Mirren – The Queen

Best Actor – Drama
Leonardo DiCaprio – Blood Diamond
Leonardo DiCaprio – The Departed
Peter O’Toole – Venus
Will Smith – The Pursuit of Happyness
Forest Whitaker – The Last King of Scotland

Best Actress – Musical or Comedy
Annette Bening – Running With Scissors
Toni Collette – Little Miss Sunshine
Beyonce Knowles – Dreamgirls
Meryl Streep – The Devil Wears Prada
Renee Zellweger – Miss Potter

Best Actor – Musical Or Comedy
Sacha Baron Cohen – Borat
Johnny Depp – Pirates of the Caribbean
Aaron Eckhart – Thank You for Smoking
Chiwetel Ejiofor – Kinky Boots
Will Ferrell – Stranger than Fiction

Best Supporting Actress
Adriana Barraza – Babel
Cate Blanchett – Notes on a Scandal
Emily Blunt – The Devil Wears Prada
Jennifer Hudson – Dreamgirls
Rinko Kikuchi – Babel

Best Supporting Actor
Ben Affleck – Hollywoodland
Eddie Murphy – Dreamgirls
Jack Nicholson – The Departed
Brad Pitt – Babel
Mark Wahlberg – The Departed

Best Foreign Language Film
Apocalypto (US)
Letters From Iwo Jima (US)
The Lives of Others (Germany)
Pan’s Labyrinth (Mexico)
Volver (Spain)

Best Animated Film
Cars
Happy Feet
Monster House

Best Screenplay
Guillermo Arriaga – Babel
Todd Field and Tom Perrotta – Little Children
Patrick Marber – Notes on a Scandal
William Monahan – The Departed
Peter Morgan – The Queen

Best Original Song
Listen – Dreamgirls
Never Gonna Break My Faith – Bobby
The Song of the Heart – Happy Feet
Try Not to Remember – Home of the Brave
A Father’s Way – The Pursuit of Happyness

Best Original Score
Alexandre Desplat – The Painted Veil
Clint Mansell – The Fountain
Gustavo Santaolalla – Babel
Carlo Siliotto – Nomad
Hans Zimmer – The Da Vinci Code

> Official site of the Golden Globes
> Brian Lowry of Variety provides some analysis of the nominations
> Pete Hammond at Hollywood Wiretap has his take

 

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Awards Season News Thoughts

The Early Oscar Contenders

Even though the Oscars are a few months away (February 25th to be exact) , the first important film awards in the US have been taking place. Critics in various cities have been dishing out their yearly gongs and the results may well provide an indicator as to what will be in contention for the Academy Awards.

How does it all work? Well, in a nutshell, studios select which films they want to push for certain categories and screenings are held (and DVDs are sent out) for members of AMPAS. They then vote on them and it boils down to a list of nominations for the final ceremony. For the winners, they get the famous golden statue, worldwide exposure and congratulatory phone calls from Hollywood execs dying to work with them.

But that is still a long way off. Now that the award season is beginning in earnest lets take a look at the main Oscar contenders and the other films that could start gaining momentum over the next couple of months.


THE EARLY FAVOURITES

The Departed – Martin Scorcese’s dark Boston set cop drama may not be up to the standard of his best work but it did well with the critics and made an impact at the box office. It contains a lot of strong performances from the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson and Mark Wahlberg. Crucially the Academy will probably give Scorcese Best Director this year as for some strange reason he has never won but this time he looks like a dead cert. Expect this to be nominated for Best Picture, Best Screenplay and a raft of acting nominations as well as Best Director.

Dreamgirls – This musical (adapted from the 1981 Broadway show) has been anointed the official favourite by a slew of critics and tipsters. Directed by Bill Condon, it is loosely based on upon the lives and careers of The Supremes and stars Beyonce Knowles and Eddie Murphy. It hasn’t actually done that well in the awards this weekend but for many pundits it remains the film to beat so far.

The Queen – This very British drama about the relationship between the Queen and Tony Blair after the death of Princess Diana might have sounded an obscure shot for awards glory a year ago but the quality of the film and the standout lead performances have ensured it a place at the Oscar buffet. Helen Mirren’s superb performance as Her Majesty, Michael Sheen’s portrayal of Tony Blair, Peter Morgan’s intelligent script and Stephen Frears’ direction all look very likely to be nominated. Expect it to do very well at the BAFTAs.


THE OTHER CANDIDATES

Little Miss Sunshine – Ever since it wowed audiences at the Sundance film festival back in January this crowd pleasing comedy has become a critical and commercial favourite. Although comedies tend to be overlooked at the Oscars, this one has a bittersweet edge and a heartfelt quality that might see it creep into certain categories, maybe even Best Picture.

Flags of Our Fathers – Clint Eastwood made not one but two World War 2 films this year and a few months back some were hailing ‘Flags of Our Fathers’ as an early favourite. It tells the story of the three surviving US troops who helped raise the flag at Iwo Jima in World War 2 but found it hard to return home as war heroes (especially as the iconic photo was staged). Despite mostly positive reviews it died at the box office and its chances would appear to be receding.

Letters from Iwo Jima – This is the other Eastwood film about Iwo Jima shot back to back with Flags of our Fathers but from the Japanese perspective. The initial plan was for that to come out in the new year but it has been pulled forward for awards consideration. Ironically some are some are now saying it is actually better than its sister film and it has already scooped a couple of critics awards. It isn’t inconceivable that both could get nominated but at this time ‘Letters’ rather than ‘Flags’ seems to have the edge.

Babel – Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu has created another powerful multi-layered drama, only this one is more ambitious than his previous two films (Amores Perros and 21 Grams). Featuring a sprawling narrative that spans three continents (Africa, America and Asia) it contains some excellent performances from Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, but look out for a startling turn from Japanese newcomer Rinko Kikuchi.

United 93 – The first film from a major studio to deal with 9/11 is a riveting piece of work from director Paul Greengrass. It may prove too dark for some Academy voters but the incredible technical work and visceral power of this film should be recognised. There are no lead actors but it could become a real contender for Best Picture and Best Director if it starts picking up more awards.

World Trade Center – The other mainstream release to deal with 9/11 (in this case two cops trapped underneath the Twin Towers) is a less accomplished film than United 93 but it has more mainstream appeal given that tugs on the heartstrings a bit more. Mario Bello and Michael Pena probably have good shots in the acting categories but I would be surprised if it emerged as a major contender.

Little Children – This superb study of suburban angst unfortunately died at the box office but if enough voters get to see it they may give it some nominations. Kate Winslet, Jackie Earle Haley and Phyllis Somerville certainly deserve some recognition for their excellent work.

The Pursuit Of Happyness – Will Smith puts his serious hat on for this drama (based on a true story) about a father in San Francisco who is struggling to make ends meet as he trains to be a stockbroker. Although it has a rather naff poster and trailer, it is a surprisingly uplifting tale set on the dark side of the American dream. Smith could certainly be in the running for Best Actor.


OUTSIDERS

Other films that could get some nominations – but are unlikely to make serious waves – include Alfonso Cuaron’s superb dystopian drama Children of Men (almost certainly too dark for Academy member’s tastes) and Pedro Almodovar’s Volver. Some are tipping it to compete in the main categories which would be unusual for a foreign language film. So, despite its obvious brilliance it is more likely to get the Best Foreign Picture nod.

Robert De Niro has returned to the director’s chair to make The Good Shepherd, a drama about the early days of the CIA. Some are already grumbling about its long and it could possibly make an impact, even if it is only for Eric Roth’s screenplay.
OTHER PERFORMERS

They are often actors who become Oscar contenders despite the fact that the film they were in doesn’t get many nominations. In this category I would expect Forest Whitaker to be a solid contender for his mesmerising portrayal of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland.

Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada, Peter O’Toole in Venus and (maybe) Ryan Gosling in Half Nelson are others who might be in with acting nods.

I’m sure there will be some surprises between now and March and often films or performances that look good for Oscar glory can be derailed by outside controversies.

But in the meantime check out the links below to find out more about the films competing in this awards season and feel free to leave your early thoughts and predictions below.

> Check out all the Oscar runners and riders at Oscarwatch
> The Gurus of Gold chart at Movie City News
> The Envelope awards site at the LA Times
> The Carpetbagger awards blog at the New York Times
> Find out more about the Academy Awards at Wikipedia

Categories
Awards Season News

Early Oscar contenders

David Germain of the Associated Press has written a piece about the early Oscar favourites:

Helen Mirren could be crowned best actress at the Academy Awards. Seven-time loser Peter O’Toole may finally win that elusive Oscar. Jack Nicholson could tie Katharine Hepburn with a record fourth win.

And Clint Eastwood may establish himself as one of the winningest directors in Oscar history. Though plenty of Oscar-worthy films will not hit theaters until December, many potential contenders and a few early front-runners have emerged for Hollywood’s big night Feb. 25.

Leading the way could be Eastwood, 2004’s top winner, who won his second best-picture and directing prizes with “Million Dollar Baby.” Eastwood is back with the World War II saga “Flags of Our Fathers,” a sprawling account of the Iwo Jima invasion and the controversial circumstances over the raising of the U.S. flag there, an event immortalized in Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal’s picture.

Still to come late this year are such films as the musical “Dreamgirls,” with Jamie Foxx, Beyonce Knowles and Eddie Murphy, the post-World War II tale “The Good German,” directed by Steven Soderbergh and featuring George Clooney and Cate Blanchett, and “The Good Shepherd,” starring Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie in a CIA saga directed by Robert De Niro.

It might be a few months before the BAFTAs and the Oscars but the awards season is already under way.

It is still too early to come up with any solid predictions but I would think that Helen Mirren in The Queen is already a very strong candidate for Best Actress whilst Clint Eastwood’s World War II drama Flags of Our Fathers looks likely to be nominated in a few categories. Of the other early candidfates you would have to say that Dreamgirls, Babel, The Good German, Little Children are also early frontrunners.

It will be interesting to see what happens to Martin Scorcese and The Departed. Despite the rave reviews and solid box office, it is the kind of dark, violent and contemporary drama the Academy normally shuns. But given previous snubs will there be a feeling that they should just give Marty an Oscar to atone for past sins?

> Original article at the AP
> Gurus of Gold at Movie City News
The Envelope at the LA Times