Tuesday, 24 January 2017


The sensible few among us didn't show much sense after all - La La Land snags a bizarre and unwarranted Sound Editing nomination to bulldoze its way to a record-equalling 14 Oscar nominations. Its shock success isn't the only one among this year's Academy Awards slate, as Moonlight pretty much maxes out with eight mentions, while select figures such as Mel Gibson, Isabelle Huppert and Ruth Negga receive credit too. Alas, there are the usual losers, including a couple of significant snubs for Best Picture and Director nominee Arrival (including Amy Adams, sadly), and a near-total shut-out for Silence, unforgivably. The 89th annual Academy Awards take place just over a month from now, on the 26th of February.

Best Picture
Arrival (Dan Levine, Shawn Levy, David Linde and Aaron Ryder)
Fences (Todd Black, Scott Rudin and Denzel Washington)
Hacksaw Ridge (Bill Mechanic and David Permut)
Hell or High Water (Carla Hacken and Julie Yorn)
Hidden Figures (Peter Chernin, Donna Gigliotti, Theodore Melfi, Jenno Topping and Pharrell Williams)
La La Land (Fred Berger, Jordan Horowitz and Marc Platt)
Lion (Iain Canning, Angie Fielder and Emile Sherman)
Manchester by the Sea (Lauren Beck, Matt Damon, Chris Moore, Kimberly Stewart and Kevin J. Walsh)
Moonlight (Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner and Adele Romanski)

Best Directing
Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge)
Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)
Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea)
Denis Villeneuve (Arrival)

Best Actress in a Leading Role
Isabelle Huppert (Elle)
Ruth Negga (Loving)
Natalie Portman (Jackie)
Emma Stone (La La Land)
Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)

Best Actor in a Leading Role
Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)
Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge)
Ryan Gosling (La La Land)
Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic)
Denzel Washington (Fences)

Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Viola Davis (Fences)
Naomie Harris (Moonlight)
Nicole Kidman (Lion)
Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures)
Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea)

Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water)
Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea)
Dev Patel (Lion)
Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals)

Best Writing - Original Screenplay
Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
Efthymis Filippou and Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster)
Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea)
Mike Mills (20th Century Women)
Taylor Sheridan (Hell or High Water)

Best Writing - Adapted Screenplay
Luke Davies (Lion)
Eric Heisserer (Arrival)
Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney (Moonlight)
Theodore Melfi and Allison Schroeder (Hidden Figures)
August Wilson (Fences)

Best Cinematography
Greig Fraser (Lion)
James Laxton (Moonlight)
Rodrigo Prieto (Silence)
Linus Sandgren (La La Land)
Bradford Young (Arrival)

Best Film Editing
Tom Cross (La La Land)
John Gilbert (Hacksaw Ridge)
Joi McMillon and Nat Sanders (Moonlight)
Jake Roberts (Hell or High Water)
Joe Walker (Arrival)

Best Production Design
Stuart Craig and Anna Pinnock (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them)
Guy Hendrix Dyas and Gene Serdena (Passengers)
Jess Gonchor and Nancy Haigh (Hail, Caesar!)
Paul Hotte and Patrice Vermette (Arrival)
Sandy Reynolds-Wasco and David Wasco (La La Land)

Best Costume Design
Colleen Atwood (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them)
Consolata Boyle (Florence Foster Jenkins)
Madeline Fontaine (Jackie)
Joanna Johnston (Allied)
Mary Zophres (La La Land)

Best Sound Mixing
Bernard Gariepy Strobl and Claude la Haye (Arrival)
Peter Grace, Robert MacKenzie, Kevin O'Connell and Andy Wright (Hacksaw Ridge)
Jeffrey J. Haboush, Greg P. Russell, Mac Ruth and Gary Summers (13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi)
Lee Ai Ling, Steven Morrow and Andy Nelson (La La Land)
David Parker, Christopher Scarabosio and Stuart Wilson (Rogue One)

Best Sound Editing
Bub Asman and Alan Robert Murray (Sully)
Sylvain Bellemare (Arrival)
Mildred Iatrou and Lee Ai Ling (La La Land)
Robert MacKenzie and Andy Wright (Hacksaw Ridge)
Wylie Stateman and Renee Tondelli (Deepwater Horizon)

Best Visual Effects
Jason Billington, Burt Dalton, Craig Hammack and Jason Snell (Deepwater Horizon)
Richard Bluff, Stephane Ceretti, Vincent Cirelli and Paul Corbould (Doctor Strange)
Neil Corbould, Hal T. Hickel, John Knoll and Mohen Leo (Rogue One)
Steve Emerson, Oliver Jones, Brian McLean and Brad Schiff (Kubo and the Two Strings)
Andrew R. Jones, Robert Legato, Dan Lemmon and Adam Valdez (The Jungle Book)

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Richard Alonzo and Joel Harlow (Star Trek Beyond)
Alessandro Bertolazzi, Giorgio Gregorini and Christopher Nelson (Suicide Squad)
Love Larson and Eva von Bahr (A Man Called Ove)

Best Music (Original Score)
Volker Bertelmann and Dustin O'Halloran (Lion)
Nicholas Britell (Moonlight)
Justin Hurwitz (La La Land)
Mica Levi (Jackie)
Thomas Newman (Passengers)

Best Music (Original Song)
Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul - 'Audition (The Fools Who Dream)' (La La Land)
Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul - 'City Of Stars' (La La Land)
Max Martin, Karl Johan Schuster and Justin Timberlake - 'Can't Stop The Feeling' (Trolls)
Lin-Manuel Miranda - 'How Far I'll Go' (Moana)
J. Ralph and Gordon Sumner - 'The Empty Chair' (Jim: The James Foley Story)

Best Animated Feature Film
Kubo and the Two Strings (Travis Knight and Arianne Sutner)
Moana (Ron Clements, John Musker and Osnat Shurer)
My Life as a Courgette (Claude Barras and Max Karli)
The Red Turtle (Michael Dudok de Wit and Suzuki Toshio)
Zootopia (Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Clark Spencer)

Best Documentary Feature
13th (Spencer Averick, Howard Barish and Ava DuVernay)
Fire at Sea (Donatella Palermo and Gianfranco Rosi)
I Am Not Your Negro (Remi Grellety, Hebert Peck and Raoul Peck)
Life, Animated (Julie Goldman and Roger Ross Williams)
O.J.: Made in America (Ezra Edelman and Caroline Waterlow)

Best Foreign Language Film
Land of Mine (Martin Zandvliet) - Denmark
A Man Called Ove (Hannes Holm) - Sweden
The Salesman (Asghar Farhadi) - Iran
Tanna (Martin Butler and Bentley Dean) - Australia
Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade) - Germany

Best Short Film (Live Action)
Ennemis Interieurs (Selim Azzazi)
La Femme et le TGV (Giacun Caduff and Timo von Gunten)
Silent Nights (Aske Bang and Kim Magnusson)
Sing (Kristof Deak and Anna Udvardi)
Timecode (Juanjo Gimenez)

Best Short Film (Animated)
Blind Vaysha (Theodore Ushev)
Borrowed Time (Andrew Coats and Lou Hamou-Lhadj)
Pear Cider and Cigarettes (Cara Speller and Robert Valley)
Pearl (Patrick Osborne)
Piper (Alan Barillaro and Marc Sondheimer)

Best Documentary Short
4.1 Miles (Daphne Matziaraki)
Extremis (Dan Krauss)
Joe's Violin (Kahane Cooperman and Raphaela Neihausen)
Watani: My Homeland (Stephen Ellis and Marcel Mettelsiefen)
The White Helmets (Joanna Natasegara and Orlando von Einsiedel)


The graceful, affected sublimation of vanity into beauty in Jackie Kennedy, as woman and as character. Noah Oppenheim's script never catches ahold of this intangible figure who was yet so eager to be seen, her audience so eager to know her in return; it never attempts to, and arguably does not even need to, since none of Jackie's other key contributors harbour contradictory intentions. The deeper this film peers beneath her impeccably coiffured bob and into her mind, the harder it finds the task of placing precisely what this woman required, desired, deserved from a life that was one part forced upon her, one part wished upon herself. Her emotions mollified by the men that surround her, and this film itself shaped largely by a male crew, the undercurrent of a feminine outlook on life and on art alike quietly courses through Jackie, the weight of its import shouldered primarily by Natalie Portman. The strain shows, in a captivating portrait as much of actor as of character whose carefully calibrated intricacies will remain studiable from one repeat viewing to the next - Portman is peculiarly magnificent, as estimable and as reproachable as Kennedy is here depicted. Pablo Larrain's particular inscrutability as a filmmaker is equally apt and infuriating an approach, and it magnifies the successes and failings of the film as much as it creates them - each one indubitably designed as such, and thus Jackie possesses as great a potential to impress as to repel its audience. It's an appropriate quality for a biopic of a woman inclined to extract a similar response.

Sunday, 22 January 2017


Awards season has taken a brief break this past week, as utterly nothing but speculation has fuelled the conversation online. The London Critics' Circle Film Awards have today restarted it, with a resumption of success for La La Land. The LCC has made some choices you're unlikely to see elsewhere here, for better or worse, but it's their choice of Film of the Year that you're extremely likely to see just abut everywhere else, imo. Check out their nominations, from way back last year, at this link.

Film of the Year
La La Land

Director of the Year
Nemes Laszlo (Son of Saul)

Actress of the Year
Isabelle Huppert (Things to Come)

Actor of the Year
Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)

Supporting Actress of the Year
Naomie Harris (Moonlight)

Supporting Actor of the Year
Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
Tom Bennett (Love & Friendship)

Screenwriter of the Year
Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea)

Technical Achievement of the Year
Sturla Brandth Grovlen (Victoria) - cinematography

Documentary of the Year
Fire at Sea

Foreign-Language Film of the Year
Toni Erdmann

British / Irish Film of the Year
I, Daniel Blake

British / Irish Actress of the Year
Kate Beckinsale (Love & Friendship)

British / Irish Actor of the Year
Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge / Silence)

Philip French Award for Breakthrough British / Irish Filmmaker of the Year
Babak Anvari (Under the Shadow)

Young British / Irish Performer of the Year
Lewis MacDougall (A Monster Calls)

British / Irish Short Film of the Year
Sweet Maddie Stone (Brady Hood)

Dilys Powell Award for Excellence in Film
Isabelle Huppert


Wading defiantly through troublesome waters as though to confirm his heralding as more problematic auteur than enfant terrible, M. Night Shyamalan's stride has finally picked up its pace in a meaningful way. Split is a significant step up for an artist whose application of his remarkable talent ebbs and flows depending on his resources, his level of control, the purpose toward which that application is directed, the expectations and requirements of his intended audience. Here, the flow continues, commencing upon its most determined advancement in years. This low-scale though ambitious horror-thriller is not the outlet for his shortcomings as a writer, namely the inability to acknowledge himself as having any at all; it is resolutely the outlet for his directorial faculties, though, and the extent to which Shyamalan balances these facets into a  peculiar, disarming, consistently absorbing composite defines Split's own strange identity. As it used to be with this filmmaker, his work here feels ensnared in a conflict with itself, with varying intellectual, emotional and stylistic elements vying for the light - each boasts the benefits of thoughtful development and incisive utilization, yet also intrudes upon the other's space. Their individual attributes will be for each individual viewer to diagnose - Shyamalan is once again a man with so much to do and say that it's all rather too much in general, but with this abundance of content comes an abundance in quality in Split, alongside the potential that it might connect with its consumers in a positive manner. Above and beyond, or perhaps below it all are two elements whose conflict could hardly be more integral and whose impact could hardly be more different - the insensitivity of its premise begets the brilliance of its lead performance. James McAvoy devours this meaty part, and virtually makes the movie by himself. Not that he needs to, since these are mighty strides by his director, finally back on form.


National, indeed global, notions of politics analyzed through the individual. Macro concerns on a micro stage - Clash is a potent examination of the chaos that erupts when such complex issues are violently developed over a limited space of time. Mohamed Diab is a master of chaos, as evidenced here, from the delicate calibration of each specific ideological conflict within his ensemble of characters, to the astounding control he exerts over his mise-en-scene. The camera exclusively situated inside the hold of an overcrowded police riot van, the visual detail and variety that Diab and his DP Ahmed Gabr are able to engender within is remarkable, though it's the director's crowd control that's particularly impressive. Diab's handle over scenes of actual physical chaos has humongous force, permitting the development of a most discomfiting tension that rises to a ferocious climax; from an analytical perspective, though, it's just plain incredible. If these details have a flaw, it's that their intensity is undercut by a minor lack of believability - the one space which Diab seems to find impenetrable is the heart. He has the head, and unquestionably one's surroundings, but eliciting performances on a par with Clash's technical excellence is a difficulty throughout. The film's political and cultural knowledge is sound, though its verbal exploration of this knowledge is shaky, while clumsy, coincidence-strewn plotting does little to compliment it. Clash stays a bold, riveting political drama, though, one whose relevance has hardly diminished in the time since that which it depicts, and thus whose impact is as powerful now as it might remain in future, in a global political landscape undergoing yet more violent development.


Robert Valley's neo-noir Pear Cider and Cigarettes belatedly sets a standard for others to follow, yet itself can do little but follow all those others. The reduction of everything into genre tropes yields unusually cogent, thematically and stylistically concordant results, but this short animation is hobbled by fundamental errors that too often evade the attention of the artist and their audience alike. Pear Cider and Cigarettes is good noir, edgy and engaging, making fine affective use of its narrative scheme, but it also refuses to expand upon noir templates, even in its singular aesthetic approach. Valley's animation is vivid and striking, and his direction boldly inventive; if the film's brevity makes it tolerable, its visuals make it watchable. And then its misogyny makes it reprehensible - among all the forgivable errors herein, it's this simple failure to transcend one rancid, dated, indeed optional feature of this genre that repeatedly demeans the effectiveness of Valley's work. It's easily overlooked, since, as per, Pear Cider and Cigarettes is largely unconcerned with its female characters, but that's only another symptom of its ignorance. A dazzling work is dragged down by this one conceptual misstep, though it remains a dazzling work nonetheless - whether in the beguiling neons and monochromes of Valley's Photoshop creations, or in his charming, cheeky way with storytelling, there's much to enjoy in Pear Cider and Cigarettes.

Friday, 20 January 2017


Isn't this what you wanted though? Isn't this what you need from AnnE? Out in the US on the 7th of April.


20th Century Fox's Logan is shaping up to be one of the best superhero movies... ever? That is, if this strong trailer and the even stronger first trailer are to be trusted. Looking to capture some of the same R-rated X-Men universe magic that Deadpool conjured up at the early-year box office last year, Hugh Jackman's reported final appearance as Wolverine is out in the UK on the 2nd of March and in the US on the 3rd.


Nikolaus Geyrhalter continues to stake a legitimate claim as one of cinema's foremost visual poets, and one of its most underappreciated. Homo Sapiens is his melancholy ode to humanity, its presence felt in its absence. In these fleeting tableaux of desolation, we are presented as powerless in the face of our own habitat yet unrelentingly hostile to it, we are callous and flippant and wasteful yet equipped with the capacity for sublime creativity, we are doomed to destruction yet enduring in what tacky thumbprints we leave on the surface of a simple sphere of rock, fire and water that we've never deserved. Homo Sapiens is a movie of the mind, in which the action is staged wholly within one's own interpretation of its content; contrary to this rarefied approach to filmmaking, Geyrhalter remains an uncommonly generous artist with a genuinely extraordinary eye. Cumulatively a curious portrait of an apparently alien landscape, this collage is conflictingly composed of a variety of vaguely recognizable images in isolation - this strange planet is undeniably our own, as is this aggregate of fearsome dilapidation and vulnerability. Geyrhalter is a minimalist in form, but a maximalist in force and in what worth he can wring out of the simplest of scenarios; his frames are alive with movement, architecturally striking, not merely accompanied by elemental sound but reconstructed by it, in the humbling realization that the world will carry on with or without us, and perhaps preferably without. If Homo Sapiens is altogether too poetic to succumb entirely to such pessimism, it's perhaps for the best - Geyrhalter turns despondency into artistry, to chilling, stunning effect.

Thursday, 19 January 2017


Elizabeth Wood devises an argument against the artistic conservatism of so much American cinema, particularly that which purports to trade in grit and frankness, in a very American movie. In showing, she too tells, and with a deference to unvarnished realism that only bolsters her argument. White Girl is a vivid, intoxicating hit of cinematic cocaine, one heavenly upper with one hell of a downer. Its candour comes with a necessary fecklessness, an apt reflection of its narrative content, in spite of its resolutely, refreshingly non-judgemental position. This apparent lack of care is not quite carelessness - Wood exhibits an artful, sensitive directorial touch at the film's most crucial junctures, and prevents it from slipping into cheap salacity. It does serve to make White Girl more memorable than consequential, however, though memorable it indubitably is. Its stimulating, provocative final act aside, Wood intends her picture to communicate at least some small part of the indulgent insolence of a life lived willingly, briefly on society's dangerous, enticing edges. It's a privilege for her lead, if perhaps more of a statement on the privilege of her lead, and Wood's perceptive blend of unprejudiced objectivity and empathetic immediacy make the film something of a privilege for us to watch as well. White Girl shows, tells, and makes the absolute most of what it can do to us in the process; this is a balls-deep experience, as sore, as sweaty and as satisfying as it should be.