Friday, 24 February 2017


Screen On Screen is totally done with 2016 and the cinematic offerings it provided. As with every year in film since the origin of the medium, it was a rather good one, so here are 52 categories to celebrate the finest achievements in filmmaking from last year. And three categories to demean the worst achievements. Winners will be announced on Sunday, prior to the Academy Awards.

Best Film
Heart of a Dog (Laurie Anderson and Dan Janvey)
My Life as a Courgette (Claude Barras, Marc Bonny, Armelle Glorennec, Pauline Gygax, Max Karli, Kate Merkt and Michel Merkt)
Raw (Jean des Forets and Julia Ducournau)
Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade, Jonas Dornbach, Janine Jackowski and Michel Merkt)
The Woman Who Left (Lav Diaz)

Best Direction
Maren Ade (Toni Erdmann)
Khalik Allah (Field Niggas)
Claude Barras (My Life as a Courgette)
Lav Diaz (The Woman Who Left)
Julia Ducournau (Raw)

Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Amy Adams (Arrival)
Angeli Bayani (Ned's Project)
Isabelle Huppert (Valley of Love)
Sandra Huller (Toni Erdmann)
Rooney Mara (Una)

Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Gabriel Epstein (Taekwondo)
Guillermo Francella (The Clan)
Jean-Pierre Leaud (The Death of Louis XIV)
Matthias Schoenaerts (Disorder)
Peter Simonischek (Toni Erdmann)

Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
Lily Gladstone (Certain Women)
Jeon Hye Jin (The Throne)
Kim Hwan Hee (The Wailing)
Kirin Kiki (After the Storm)
Abbey Lee (The Neon Demon)

Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Lee Hyo Je (The Throne)
John Lloyd Cruz (The Woman Who Left)
Ogata Issei (Silence)
Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals)
Tsukamoto Shin'ya (Silence)

Best Original Screenplay
Dane Komljen (All the Cities of the North)
Thierry Lounas and Albert Serra (The Death of Louis XIV)
Anna Biller (The Love Witch)
Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney (Moonlight)
Maren Ade (Toni Erdmann)

Best Adapted Screenplay
Whit Stillman (Love & Friendship)
Claude Barras, Morgan Navarro, Celine Sciamma and Germano Zullo (My Life as a Courgette)
Jay Cocks and Martin Scorsese (Silence)
David Harrower (Una)
Lav Diaz (The Woman Who Left)

Even more categories after the jump...

Thursday, 23 February 2017


The smug, obnoxious fawning of the heterosexual white male who latches onto feminism, whether earnestly or not, bears out mixed results in Mike Mills' 20th Century Women. He's hardly any less twee nor near-sighted as an auteur than he was six years ago in his homage to his father, Beginners, but with that earnest adoration informing every frame of his new work, and with a maturity that grows as his protagonists commensurately shrink, he once again gets away with it. 20th Century Women is fine with breaking no moulds, pushing no envelopes, relating its every motion back to Mills' narcissism, and I guess we have to be fine with that too if we're to appreciate all of the good things that this film has to offer. Characters defined by shallow motifs and platitudes are rarely satisfying, though it's thus that one might feel in rare territory here - this is the kind of material in which actors relish, and so they do. A good actor will embody what's in the script, though may neglect to invent further; a great actor will figure to do both, and Annette Bening has simply never been as great before as she is in 20th Century Women. Mills' film is an exercise in understanding this woman, a fictionalized version of his mother, and is thereby in service of Bening and her role; yet this role is always in service of advancing our understanding of Mills himself, and he takes the regrettable route of turning a potential feminist statement into a man's statement about feminism in the enlightened man. Besides this particularly ugly trait, this is in fact a rare film in several other regards, most notably its palpably accurate, unpretentious recreation of a recent past, and its invocation of a sense of nostalgic trepidation in that this past depicts a country on the precipice of horrible, historical change.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017


As awards season winds up, the Costume Designers Guild rings in with its choices for excellence in film for 2016. Oscar nominees are snubbed in two of the CDG's three film categories, with Doctor Strange and Hidden Figures winning prizes instead, and La La Land continuing its dominance of the guild awards. Nominations at this link, and full details of winners right here:

Excellence in Period Film
Renee Ehrlich Kalfus (Hidden Figures)

Excellence in Fantasy Film
Alexandra Byrne (Doctor Strange)

Excellence in Contemporary Film
Mary Zophres (La La Land)

Career Achievement Award
Jeffrey Kurland

Distinguished Collaborator Award
Meryl Streep

Tuesday, 21 February 2017


A film without conversation, intent on provoking contemplation. Alas, The Last of Us' intentions are too clear, and the end effects of that contemplation too unclear, and what is otherwise a finely crafted work of art crumbles under this precarious balance. You know you're in fairly dire straits when you resort to introducing a hairy, grunting wild man, wandered off from the set of The Clan of the Cave Bear 30 years ago and in serious need of a wash, wrapping leaves around your mute protagonist's leg wound in order to liven up your film, and direr straits still when said character only makes your film more pitiful. I have no doubt that Ala Eddine Slim has something to say about consumerism and its impact on post-colonialist, impoverished parts of the world, but since nobody in his film actually says anything at all, it's pretty tough to work out what that something is. In that The Last of Us' flaws are conceptual, thus, it'd be more accurate to brand it an innately flawed work of art redeemed by smart execution. Amine Messadi's cinematography luxuriates in dusty brown tones and picturesque exteriors, creating several compositions far more memorable than the overall film itself. In the film's least ambiguous, allegorical stretch, there's an all-too-brief ride in the back of a small truck, its ineffective canvas curtain flapping in the wind to provide fleeting glimpses of a landscape left behind - it's an enormously evocative moment, and one whose extension might well have been more engaging than what Slim devises in its aftermath. One admires him for his willingness to go against the grain, but there are certain grains that exists for good reasons, and there's very little good in going against them.


A search for purpose in a place without meaning. Dane Komljen detaches himself from the precondition of mutual understanding between artist and audience, in the process transforming his work from a metaphoric statement into an integrally artistic one. All the Cities of the North is boldly, beguilingly opaque, to such an extremity that it repels practically all attempts to make proper sense of its content; extremities are good - nobody wants a half-arsed effort. If one were to describe this dense, curious film using the hackneyed phrase 'tone poem,' one wouldn't be inaccurate, as Komljen contributes only ever more to the intellectual abstraction and indecipherability of his conceit with each new shot or scene. He evokes contemplation without ever encouraging any resolution to it, suspending the viewer in rapturous appreciation of his artistry without ever allowing them to reach a satisfactory conclusion. The mystery of All the Cities of the North is thus essential to its success, and a guarantee that this is a work whose character will remain unclear not merely upon viewing but upon re-viewing and re-viewing. Yet what one receives in return for their patient perplexion is the value of participating in a truly unique cinematic experience, and the knowledge that the more one puts into it, the greater the imaginative and intellective returns are likely to be. We, as the silent figures we see on the screen, may never be any closer to conclusion in our search for purpose in this film, but the search itself is worth the effort.

Monday, 20 February 2017


They're not always the most reliable, but you can usually count on the critics to make the smart choices. Moonlight wins five awards from the Screen On Screen Critics Tally awards, which compiles the results of dozens of critics groups and polls and assigns those results specific points values. The nominations - which have been amended following yesterday's International Cinephile Society awards announcement - can be viewed here, and the final, confirmed list of winners is...

Best Picture
Moonlight (Dede Gardner, Barry Jenkins, Jeremy Kleiner and Adele Romanski)

Best Director
Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Natalie Portman (Jackie)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Viola Davis (Fences)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)

Best Original Screenplay
Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea)

Best Adapted Screenplay
Eric Heisserer (Arrival)

Best Cinematography
James Laxton (Moonlight)

Best Editing
Tom Cross (La La Land)

Best Production Design
David Wasco (La La Land)

Best Music
Justin Hurwitz (La La Land)

Best Ensemble Cast
Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Alex R. Hibbert, Andre Holland, Jharrel Jerome, Janelle Monae, Jaden Piner, Trevante Rhodes and Ashton Sanders (Moonlight)

Best Animated Feature
Zootopia (Jared Bush, Byron Howard and Rich Moore)

Best Documentary
O.J.: Made in America (Ezra Edelman)

Best Foreign Language Film
The Handmaiden (Park Chan Wook)


We've slogged through awards season for a fairly dull three months now, almost, and it's likely to end with nothing short of crushing ignominy with this weekend's Oscars. Can't it just end now? The International Cinephile Society award nominations were worth that slog, and their actual awards now are equally worth it. Just stare at this bright spot until your eyes go blind.

Best Picture
1. Toni Erdmann
2. Elle
3. Moonlight
4. Things to Come
5. Manchester by the Sea
6. Silence
7. Julieta
8. Cemetery of Splendour
9. Certain Women
10. Jackie

Best Director
1. Maren Ade (Toni Erdmann)
2. Paul Verhoeven (Elle)

Best Actress
1. Isabelle Huppert (Elle)
2. Sandra Huller (Toni Erdmann)

Best Actor
1. Peter Simonischek (Toni Erdmann)
2. Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)

Best Supporting Actress
1. Lily Gladstone (Certain Women)
2. Sandrine Kiberlain (Being 17)

Best Supporting Actor
1. Andre Holland (Moonlight)
2. Tom Bennett (Love & Friendship)

Best Original Screenplay
1. Maren Ade (Toni Erdmann)
2. Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)

Best Adapted Screenplay
1. David Birke (Elle)
2. Whit Stillman (Love & Friendship)

Best Cinematography
1. David Gallego (Embrace of the Serpent)
2. Rodrigo Prieto (Elle)

Best Editing
1. Job ter Burg (Elle)
2. Joe Walker (Arrival)

Best Production Design
1. Ryu Seong Hee (The Handmaiden)
2. Dante Ferretti (Silence)

Best Score
1. Mica Levi (Jackie)
2. Cliff Martinez (The Neon Demon)

Best Ensemble
1. Moonlight
2. Certain Women

Best Animated Film
1. The Red Turtle
2. My Life as a Courgette

Best Documentary
1. Fire at Sea
2. No Home Movie

Best Film Not in the English Language
1. Toni Erdmann
2. Elle
3. Things to Come
4. Julieta
5. Cemetery of Splendour
6. Embrace of the Serpent
7. Being 17
8. Aquarius
9. Mountains May Depart
10. Cosmos
11. The Handmaiden


Sorry, Lion! Alas, Luke Davies' script wasn't eligible for the Writers Guild of America awards, and also I'm totally not sorry. But a tremendous coup for Moonlight, as its standing in the Adapted Screenplay Oscar race only improves with a win in Original Screenplay with the WGA. Indeed, with yet another contender to fend off this weekend in the Adapted victor here, Arrival, Barry Jenkins' groundbreaking drama nevertheless becomes an even stronger candidate by beating presumed frontrunners La La Land and Manchester by the Sea. And deservedly, too. All the details of the film award nominees at this link, and the winners below.

Best Original Screenplay
Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney (Moonlight)

Best Adapted Screenplay
Eric Heisserer - based on the story Story of Your Life by TEd Chiang (Arrival)

Best Documentary Screenplay
Robert Kenner, Brian Pearle, Kim Roberts and Eric Schlosser - based on the book Command and Control by Eric Schlosser (Command and Control)


Kudos to the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild. They're capable of recognizing quality in their craft across a wide variety of titles, and their slate of award winners this year (and that for nominations) makes that quite evident. Five categories and five winners, and fairly smart choices on the whole. Take a look below:

Best Period and/or Character Make-Up
Alessandro Bertolazzi (Suicide Squad)

Best Period and/or Character Hair Styling
Cydney Cornell, Matt Danon and Pauletta Lewis-Irwin (Hail, Caesar!)

Best Contemporary Make-Up
Donald Mowat, Elaine Offers and Malanie J. Romero (Nocturnal Animals)

Best Contemporary Hair Styling
Frida Aradottir, Barbara Lorenz and Jackie Masteran (La La Land)

Best Special Make-Up Effects
Richie Alonzo and Joel Harlow (Star Trek Beyond)


Hacksaw Ridge takes a healthy step closer to winning the Sound Editing Oscar with victory in two categories from the Motion Picture Sound Editors. It's the only winner in more than one field here, possibly confirming that the war film is a real contender in the Oscar tech categories for which it's nominated. MPSE nominations are here.

Best Sound Editing - English Language - Effects / Foley
Steve Burgess, Alex Francis, Robert MacKenzie, Liam Price, Mario Vaccaro and Tara Webb (Hacksaw Ridge)

Best Sound Editing - English Language - Dialogue / ADR
Justine Angus, Jed Dodge, Kimberly Harris, Michele Perrone and Andy Wright (Hacksaw Ridge)

Best Sound Editing - Animation
Thom Brennan, Jonathan Borland, Pascal Garneau, Earl Ghaffari, Lee Gilmore, Matthew Harrison, Tim Nielsen, Dan Pinder, Shelley Roden and John Roesch (Moana)

Best Sound Editing - Documentary
Pete Horner, Al Nelson and Andre Zweers (The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble)

Best Sound Editing - Foreign Language - Effects / Foley / Dialogue / ADR
Fredrik Dalefjell, Erlend Hogstad, Jens Johansson, Ingela Jonsson, Lucas Nilsson, Espen Ronning and Christian Schaanning (The King's Choice)

Best Sound Editing - Musical
Jason Ruder (La La Land)

Best Sound Editing - Music
Michael Bauer and Peter Myles (Warcraft)

Verna Fields Award for Student Filmmakers
Juhasz Zoltan (Fishwitch)
Gerry Vasquez (Icarus)

MPSE Filmmaker Award
Guillermo del Toro

MPSE Career Achievement Award
Harry Cohen