Monday, 23 January 2012

Top Five... Oscar Fails

Nothing divides film fans like the Academy Awards. The Academy is known for awarding Oscars to overly-political, message-heavy films whilst simultaneously making completely unexpected leftfield choices which nobody saw coming. Many cinephiles will argue that the Oscars are actually completely irrelevant. But that doesn’t stop us kicking up a fuss every year.

Anyway, below are five of the most outrageous Academy decisions. Some performances were undeserved. Other actors were robbed as a result. All of them can be considered Oscar Fails.
5. Best Director (1980)
Won: Robert Benton, Kramer vs. Kramer
Robbed: Francis Ford Coppola, Apocalypse Now
Nobody deserved an Oscar as much as Coppola for his infamously hellish experience directing Apocalypse Now. Somehow he managed to cobble together one of the greatest war films of all time despite having to contend with heart attacks, civil war, typhoons and Marlon Brando’s tantrums. Meanwhile, Benton was directing a courtroom melodrama.
4. Best Film (2006)
Won: Crash
Robbed: Brokeback Mountain
This lays out the classic Oscar battle between overstatement and understatement. Ang Lee’s film was a performance-driven tale of ‘forbidden’ love and features Ledger’s second-greatest performance as a bonus. Meanwhile, Crash is an issues-driven movie bellowing lots of important ideas in a short space of time. It might as well be named Ten Things I Hate About Racism. But with the Academy’s fondness for rewarding Big Ideas and Oprah Winfrey’s very vocal backing, Brokebacknever stood a chance.
3. Best Actor (2009)
Won: Sean Penn, Milk
Robbed: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
Once again, Penn steals the Oscar from a more deserving performance. Rourke delivered a tour-de-force Aronofsky’s film, submitting his heart and body to a very emotionally and physically demanding role. It is the definitive companion piece to the Black Swan and it is a shame Rourke does not have the Oscar to match Portman’s win. But most importantly, Rourke made audiences question why he had been left out of the game for so long and now he is here to stay.
2. Best Sound Editing (2009)
Won: Richard King, The Dark Knight
Robbed: Ben Burtt, WALL.E
King did a solid job but there is one reason why he should not have won and his name is Ben Burtt. A legend of cinema history (he invented the lightsabre zwiiiing and ‘voiced’ R2-D2), Burtt’s finest work is displayed throughout WALL.E – a film that could only have worked with such innovative and other-worldly sound effects. After all, Burtt is effectively playing both leads and most of the supporting cast. Furthermore, he was tasked with portraying the greatest love story of recent years through beeps, blips and whirring noises. The man is a genius.
1. Best Director (1995)
Won: Robert Zemeckis, Forrest Gump
Robbed: Quentin Tarantino, Pulp Fiction
We all fondly remember Forrest Gump but very little of that had to do with how it was directed. However, Pulp Fiction is every bit a director’s film. Tarantino delivered his film with such flair and style that had never been seen before. It was an homage to countless genres (French New Wave, noir, crime, gangster, Hitchcock) and cinema in general, with a killer soundtrack and innovative use of time. As such, it should have been awarded Best Film too.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Your Oscar Season To Do List

Oscar Season is upon us!

The Golden Globes (tomorrow), the BAFTAs (12th February) and the Academy Awards (26th February) are just around the corner and if you want to commend, comment or just complain about the winners then you need to see the films. As such, you have a busy few weeks ahead of you.

So here are the big films and their UK release dates:

6th January - The Artist and The Iron Lady
13th January - Shame and War Horse
20th January - J Edgar
27th January - The Descendants

The other big contenders were released before Christmas: The Help, The Ides of March, We Need To Talk About Kevin (all October), My Week With Marilyn, Moneyball (November) and Hugo, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (December). Most won't be out on DVD until March so you might need to hunt out some smaller cinemas in order to find screenings for them before Oscar Season draws to an end.

And it all kicks off tomorrow with the Golden Globes!

Tune in for more of this:

The Muppet with the Dragon Tattoo

Fincher's ace The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo remake (reviewed here) was promoted with this seriously cool trailer. Led Zeppelin's 'Immigrant Song' has never been put to better use:

But with 2012 set to see the revival of Muppet fever, the felt-tastic little guys couldn't help but put together their own parody trailer. Check it out:

Monday, 2 January 2012

Top Five... Films of 2011

I’ve started writing a Top Five every year.
I only include films that have been released in 2011 (incidentally, the best film I have actually seen this year was 2004’s Before Sunset) and there are some big films that I haven’t seen so I cannot give an opinion on MelancholiaTree of LifeArriettySubmarine and several others.
Equally, there are lots of great films that didn’t make the cut, namely Black SwanKill ListTintin,Harry Potter VIII and my controversial triple-bill of guilty pleasures: Scream 4Fright Night and Thor.
So here are my Top Five films of 2011:
Duncan Jones followed his smash debut Moon with another superb sci-fi flick. Source Code is essentially Groundhog’s Day on a train, whereby a marine (Jake Gyllenhaal) must keep re-living the final twelve minutes of a train bomb victim’s life until he discovers the bomber’s identity. A brilliant example of proper sci-fi and not just an excuse for an action film (see Rise of the Planet of the ApesI Robot, etc), this is clever stuff and riddled with clues to reward repeat viewing. Meanwhile, it remains accessible sci-fi, never failing to hit the right emotional and entertaining notes to ensure mainstream popularity.
It is easy to forget Oscar season when reviewing 2011 but Tom Hooper’s award-storming masterpiece should not be overlooked. Amidst the hype lies a very good film, in equal parts well-directed, well-acted, well-scripted and well-designed. Colin Firth gives the performance of his career (and possibly the year) whilst Geoffrey Rush is on scene-stealing top form. And who would have thought a 1930s-era British film about speech therapy would be such a feel-good, laugh-out-loud success. This is the regal Good Will Hunting.
A modern-day Taxi DriverDrive was the coolest film of the year. Director Nicolas Winding Refn was guilty of style-over-story with his 2008 Bronson but here he strikes the perfect balance of both. As such, we have beautifully-directed shots, well-crafted slow-motion and hyper-violence combined with an unpredictable plot and intriguing character arcs as Ryan Gosling’s getaway driver takes on gangsters. It is also boasts the best soundtrack of the year.
Woody Allen is still going strong at 75 and this year he returned with Midnight in Paris. It contains all the staples of a Woody Allen classic – romance, quick wit, lengthy focus on forming and deteriorating relationships – but it also introduces a new twist: fantasy. Owen Wilson’s Gil travels back in time to 1920s Paris at midnight each night and meets Hemingway, Dali, Picasso and the Fitzgeralds. Allen’s writing is as sharp as ever and he has a lot of fun playing with our expectations of these characters, Extras-style. It is charming, sweet, whimsical and thought-provoking with no small amount of magic. In short, it is a Woody Allen film.
In many ways, Hugo is the true Pixar film of 2011. Hugo shares all the trademarks of a Pixar classic: it looks beautiful, the 3-D is well-utilised (the best since Avatar), it doesn’t shy away from adult characters or content and for every laugh there is a tear. Most surprisingly, the director at the helm is none other than Martin Scorsese, who has put aside violent adult masterpieces for a child-friendly triumph. Scorsese’s influence is most evident in the lengthy tribute to silent cinema which occupies much of the film, specifically the work of Georges Méliès. Scorsese has used cutting-edge technology to educate a whole new generation of children about silent movies – a winning combination. Hugo is more than a great film – Hugo isabout film. Add to that accomplished child actors, a triumphant Howard Shore score and an unrivalled supporting cast and you have the most enchanting film of 2011. And tragically, more people went to see The Smurfs.

Film 2011. Worst. Year. Ever.

It has been widely-agreed that 2011 was a lacklustre year for film.
Many highly-anticipated films did not live up to their hype (127 HoursTinker Tailor Soldier Spy) and others were just plain awful (Cowboys & AliensSucker Punch). It was a year of pointless sequels (Hangover 2Transformers 3Pirates 4), unnecessary remakes (ConanThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and filling-the-void superhero films (The Green LanternThe Green HornetCaptain America). The output of 3-D fodder reached an all-time high and children’s cinema reached an all-time low, often at the same time (The SmurfsYogi the BearChipwrecked). Oscar season was underwhelming with only The King’s Speech and Black Swan entering into five-star territory. Even Pixar misfired withCars 2.
Nevertheless, it has been a great year to write about cinema. I have continued to write for Intuition Online, I attended my first film festival (Empire Magazine’s Big Screen) and I created my very own film website: The Big Fairbanski. The content is coming in 2012.
Also, coming in 2012, is probably the best year of cinema since 1999: The Dark Knight Rises,Superman: Man of SteelThe Amazing SpidermanThe AvengersBraveSkyfallJohn CarterPrometheusThe Muppets and a little independent movie called The Hobbit.
As such, maybe 2011 was a necessary sacrifice to keep audiences occupied whilst the studios worked on the big dogs.
In which case, bring on 2012.