Saturday, 12 September 2009

MAFFE Awards 2009!! Best Picture.

‘Rachel Getting Married’

This is how a wedding should be.
I never once felt a false note in Demme’s beautiful family symphony.
I honestly felt I was a guest for the weekend and I didn't want to go home.


Mike Leigh’s ode to positive thinking completely won me over, and made me wish I was more like Poppy.
If only we all were.
A true case where a movie wants to make you a better person.


Pixar magic hit again, this time focusing on robot love while critiquing the human race.
Not the best they have done (IMO), but for it to easily be in the top movies of the year shows a studio at the top of their game.


The story of the first openly gay politician elected in the US makes for a funny, moving and gripping film.
So convincing that even though you know the outcome, you still somehow think it will be different.

‘The Dark Knight’

The comic book film gets upped with this ultra realistic and exciting outing.
Anchored by a remarkable turn my Heath Ledger.

‘Frozen River’

Human trafficking done on a small scale.
The story of a desperate woman trying to by a new trailer is brilliantly told.

MAFFE Awards 2009!! Lead Actress.

Sally Hawkins – ‘Happy Go Lucky’
She never puts a foot wrong in her portrayal. Never asking us to like or hate her, she becomes someone we all know. Oscar was blind for not recognizing this superb performance.

Melissa Leo – ‘Frozen River’
She plays her without asking the audience for sympathy or pity.
It is a deeply layered portrayal of a desperate woman doing desperate things for her family.

Anne Hathaway – ‘Rachel Getting Married’
She made good on her promise from ‘Brokeback Mountain’.
The wedding speech scene is worth the nomination alone, most uncomfortable I have been in a movie all year.

Tannishtha Chatterjee – ‘Brick Lane’
An almost silent performance of a woman in a strange country who wakes herself up by doing something against her morals.
She conveys so much with a shift of her eyes

Michelle Williams – ‘Wendy and Lucy’
This seemed to be the year of the honest portrayals of desperate woman.
Williams shines as a woman who is at the end of her means.

Kate Winslet – ‘Revolutionary Road’
She doesn’t hold back on the ugly side of her character.
She may have won for ‘The Reader’ but this was the better performance.

MAFFE Awards 2009!! Supporting Actress.

Alexis Zegerman – ‘Happy-Go-Lucky’
A true support to the lead. Gravitates the movie with her deadpan humour and the ease in which she walks in her characters skin and fully fleshes her out with no big actorly scene needed.

Viola Davis – ‘Doubt’
The moment you see her she tells you her entire story.
You know this woman, and she will do anything for her son. A gigantic performance.

Rosemarie DeWitt – ‘Rachel Getting Married’
Truly shines as the bride.
The film is more of an acting triumph for her with her very lived in and expressive performance - so good you don't notice the acting.

Marisa Tomei – ‘The Wrestler’
One of the most subtle performances she has given.
Her tenderness in scenes with Rourke are a stark contrast to her sadness whilst dancing in the club.

Penelope Cruz – ‘Vicky Christina Barcelona’
She entered the movie and made it as good as it was. Feisty, fiery and sexy. She was a Spanish whirlwind.

Misty Upman – ‘Frozen River’
For bringing a quiet dignity to a very flawed human. Through her hard surface you can see her humanity is bursting out from the surface.

MAFFE Awards 2009!! Lead Actor

Sean Penn – ‘Milk’
He wins this for simply not showing any trace of the angry pent up actor we knew. He becomes Milk and we believe in him and give into his charm. Who knew?

Colin Farrell – ‘In Bruges’
He made me laugh hysterically one minute, and in the next broke my heart.
Finally cashes in on his promise he showed many years ago. Can't wait to see what is next.

Mickey Rourke – ‘The Wrestler’
He masterfully expresses a range of emotion with ever having to over act.
You feel his pain but never by asking for symphony. And honest performance in its pathetic-ness.

Brendan Gleeson – ‘In Bruges’
It is amazing how comfortably he slips into this role, being both mentor and father figure to Farrell.
A true masterful performance. The humanity of a killer is fully realised.

Robert Downey Jr. – ‘Iron Man’
The best thing about his performance, aside from his nailing it, is you can tell he had a ball playing it.
Sometimes pure fun in a performance can elevate a film.

Leonardo DiCaprio – ‘Revolutionary Road’
Goes up against Winslet for a second time and is a powder keg as the flawed and cowardly husband.

MAFFE Awards 2009!! Supporting Actor.

Heath Ledger – ‘The Dark Knight’
Best Joker Ever! He was deliciously insane and you believed in his chaos.
A true actor at the top of his game.
Masterful acting.

Bill Irwin – ‘Rachel Getting Married’
Breaks your heart as the grieving father constantly trying to make peace in his family. The dishwasher scene reduced my to tears. Not everyone in the room on-screen understands, but the viewer does.

Eddie Marsan – ‘Happy-Go-Lucky’
Brilliantly executed and he almost walks off with the film as the humourless and angry driving instructor.
I did say almost.

Satish Kaushik – ‘Brick Lane’
Constantly joyous and optimistic, always looking on the bright side, even when down or being a looser in everyone's eyes..
Bonus point for his speech at the Muslim meeting.

James Franco – ‘Milk’
He feels completely natural and lived-in, in the role.
He does not have the most showy of the supporting turns, but it is him that stayed with me much longer than any other.

Ralph Feinnes – ‘In Bruges’
Some hated this performance, but I though he was hysterical and the foul mouthed crime boss whose humanity cracks through. Best line reading of the year: "You're an inanimate f*ckin' object!"

MAFFE Awards 2009!! Director.

Jonathan Demme - Rachel Getting Married
Meanders through the film allowing the viewer to not even notice the film is being directed. You feel like a guest at the wedding. Amazing film making.

Mike Leigh - Happy-Go-Lucky
Never once tries to make you like Poppy. He knows how to stand back just far enough to allow his actors to shine.

Andrew Stanton - WALL-E
His vision is amazing. He is mainly in here for the brilliant, silent first third of the film.

Christopher Nolan - The Dark Knight
This was truly his vision and what a vision it was. The twisted darkness he brings into the film is something to behold.

Gus Van Sant – Milk
Simply for telling the story with such passion and elegance.
Bonus points for the casting.

Courtney Hunt - Frozen River
This small story would not have been made without her, and she creates a masterful film about the overlooked of society.

'A Single Man' Trailer

Well this looks...well beautiful. Nothing less than you would expect from a fashion designer eh?

Friday, 11 September 2009


I was just browsing through the IMP Awards at all the movies coming out or been released this year (Christ there are A LOT) of them.

However only a few really captured my imagination. Of course the 'Coraline' posters which I have already commented on here.

Then the brilliant and imaginative poster campaign for 'District 9'. Really drives home the point of segregation that many people have forgotten existed.

And then this. Most likely the creepiest poster I have seen in a while. It makes me physically ill to look at. Is it the blood in the bottle or is it the fly on the tip? I do not know. All I know is that I really do not want to see this film even though the festival buzz is good (ish).

Why does black whites and reds speak to me so?

(click to embiggen)

Loved unseen

Sometimes there is that movie, or performance that captures you heart even before seeing it.
Every year that happens to me.
Last year it was Viola Davis in "Doubt", mainly because the work she had done in the past just made me believe she would knock it our of the park.
And in less that eleven minutes of screen time, she did just that.

This year, as anyone who has read my blog will know, it is all about Gabourey 'Gabby' Sidibe in 'Precious'.
Ever since Nathaniel over at 'The Film Experience' mentioned her as a contender for Best Actress back in early 2008 (such vision!), I have been following the making of the film and sat nervously while it was being screened at Sundance to await a verdict.

Now, so much attention was given to Mo'Nique (who has cemented herself as not only a nominee for Best Supporting Actress, but also a very probably winner of the award) at the time that people failed to remember the reaction the star of the film received:
"A huge amount of the credit must go to newbie Gabourey Sidibe, who plays Precious. Her performance is so thorough, so all-encompassing, so natural, that a fantasy sequence where she's not talking like a mumbly ghetto girl is actually shocking. There's one scene at the end where a teary-eyed Precious gets a little too poetic and speechtastic for the character, but Sidibe makes it work. She sells every moment of pain and self-doubt and self-loathing with bottomless sincerity and truth. It's a stunning debut." - Devin Faraci for CHUD

"played with astonishing rawness by newcomer Gabourey Sidibe.......Sidibe's performance as Precious is fantastic -- fully realized, perfectly authentic, and without a hint of contrivance." Eric D. Snider - Cinematical

"Front and centre is newcomer Gabourey ‘Gabby’ Sidibe whose brave performance as the teenager Precious Jones is one of the most electrifying debuts in years. " Mike Goodridge - Screen International

"Newcomer Gabourey Sidibe lends "Precious" such openness and vulnerability that occasionally it feels we are watching a cinema verite documentary, not a fictional feature. " Emanuel Levy

"As Precious, Sidibe is superb, allowing us to see the inner warmth and beauty of a young woman who, to her world's cruel eyes, might seem monstrous." Duane Byrge - The Hollywood Reporter

"Gabby Sidibe is remarkable as Clareece "Precious" Jones" - Peter Bradshaw - The Guardian

"actress Gabourey Sidibe plays her without a flicker of sentimentality, but with barely visible tremors of emotion that cue us to everything this arrested girl is holding back. ......... it's a potent and moving experience, because by the end you feel you've witnessed nothing less than the birth of a soul"- Owen Gleiberman - Entertainment Weekly
Those are not reviews people should ignore.
Yes I know I have posted all this before and it seems like overkill, but my reasoning is this: Every year people complain that the Best Actress race is weak.
And this is true, year in and year out.
However, this year you have two performances that have been raved about (Sidibe and Carey Mulligan for 'An Education') and yet so many predictors are sticking with Mulligan over Sidibe.
Am I saying they are wrong?
Not at all, but why does the thin cute white girl seem like a better bet? Or did I just answer my own question?
Does an unconventional (read not white, thin, or beautiful) actress fair better in the Supporting category, hence Mo'Nique's dominance in discussions there? the end I think the performance will speak for itself and the buzz from festivals will probably be enough to get enough seats in theatres to make it a modest success financially.
Also once the Academy gets to see Gabby as herself (like in this Cannes interview) they will be amazed how this intelligent, effervescent and talented woman was able to become this horribly abused and repressed 16 year old. My hope is that they will not be able to not seriously consider her for a nomination.

You may also ask how can I be so behind a film I have yet to see? Well, I read the book, and if the film only captures 1/5 of the essence and power of the book, I will love it (I read it five times in a row).
Those are pretty damn good odds for me to give over to it completely already.
There is also something about an untrained newcomer making such a mark with people, that you wonder how some of these so called 'trained' actors get work. I love the untapped potential there is in the world. Remember Gustea in 'Ratatouille' when he said:
"What I say is true - anyone can cook... but only the fearless can be great."
Well that goes for everything. (In writing this I did have to wonder if some fellow actors may resent an unknown non actor being so good right off the bat?)
For Sibide to take on this role (and indeed for everyone taking part in this film) shows incredible fearlessness. That should always be rewarded.

One of my favourite pieces about the film came from Entertainment weekly where they spoke to the actresses and reading this actually gave me goosebumps:
But the hankies really came out when Mo’Nique and Patton were asked what they learned from watching Ms. Sidibe’s performance. Patton said she’s “in awe” of the younger actress’s talent; Mo’Nique’s opinion cannot be paraphrased properly. “I would have to say security,” she said, gravely serious. “To play a role like that. To be abused like that. And to be called fat, stupid, and dumb, and obese, and black as in a negative. That’s a security, baby, that I don’t know how many people have. Because what they said as a character is what we as fat people hear when we’re not in character. So to hear that, and to get up, and say, ‘What’s next?’ She taught me security. Just a sense of security to say, ‘Whatever you want to call me, whatever you want to say, watch me stand.‘” (At this point in the interview, everyone, including the journalist, was crying.) “I don’t know how I could have dealt with that. To be able to hear “Cut!” and then giggle? I’m looking, like, ‘B—-, you are my hero!”
Read the full article here

Whatever happens, Sidibe will be remembered. Whether this will lead to other work is beyond me. There isn't a lot of good roles written for black women as it is, yet alone sisters of size - they usually get 'best friend to the gay boy' roles.
Here is hoping things change in Hollywood a little, and the packaging the talent comes in no longer will matter.

Best Picture Predictions

With the new rule of ten nominees in the category, things will surely get interesting this year. Will it be as diverse as people hope, or will it be more of the same ole same ole?

‘Up in the Air’

Another pedigree film, and it has major buzz.
The word from the festival circuit is that this film is wonderful and brilliant. Could win it.

‘The Hurt Locker’

With reviews like it has been getting it seems unlikely that this will miss out.

The new top ten nominees in this category will allow a more diverse list.


Unless it tank, which is unlikely, this should see its way into the top ten.

It is Clint after all and the subject matter was enough to have everyone place it in the top five a year ago.


This seemed very likely after the Sundance and Toronto showing.
The only hurdle is if the Academy refuse to see it.

With the buzz for the film, Mo’Nique and Sibide as big as it is, it could end up winning.


This could be possibly too big to ignore.
The technical branch will surely booster it’s votes, but how does it play?


They love musicals.
This talent (actors, directors, producers ect) has a combination of 34 previous nominations and 14 wins.
This should ride the wave.


Due to the new rules this could very easily be the second animated film nominated for Oscar.
I would be surprised if it was not included.

‘An Education’

In, not for the win, but this should easily slip comfortably into the top ten spots.

With potentially 4 acting noms, it will be hard to dismiss.

‘A Serious Man’

The Coen Brothers are getting some of their best reviews for their new comedy. This should do well in the Screenplay category, and perhaps make a showing here.

‘The Lovely Bones’

The pedigree is there.
Jackson seems to only helm films lately that are a labour of love which this is, and I am sure it will show.

How good it is shouldn’t stop a top ten placement.

'Where the Wild Things Are’

Something tells me the childhood wonder will capture the hearts and memories of the Academy.

If the film is met with mixed reaction it will not happen.
The reviews need to be stellar.

‘Inglourious Basterds’

The love for this is rising, and the reviews are there.
Can it make it all the way.
Basically anything can make it in, it is untested waters.

‘District 9’

Now the reviews are wonderful.
It is between this and ‘Star Trek’ for the summer sci-fi spot.
This seems a little more serious and important than the other.

‘Bright Star’

The reviews are there, but it all depends on how well it is received.

If the festival circuit is anything to go by, it looks like another contender in the big 10.

‘The White Ribbon’

Never count out a Cannes winner, especially when you have 10 films to nominate. We shall see how this plays with audiences.

‘A Single Man’

Some people love love love this film. As we all know if the love from a few is strong enough the film can make it is. Is it time for another gay movie? Hell yes.

‘Julie & Julia’

Love for the Julia half could go a long way in getting this comedy remembered at year end. The populist vote can go far.