Tuesday, 1 December 2015


Used to be that this was one of two stages of whittling down in the Academy's process to choose the Documentary nominees where uproar ruled. But recent rule changes regarding that process have kept more high-profile films in the race longer; whether the quality of these 15-strong shortlists, the final stage prior to the announcement of nominations, has improved on the whole or not is another matter entirely. Anyway, here are the 15 films which will compete for nomination in the Documentary Oscar category:

  • 3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets
  • Amy
  • Best of Enemies
  • Cartel Land
  • Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief
  • He Named Me Malala
  • Heart of a Dog
  • The Hunting Ground
  • Listen to Me Marlon
  • The Look of Silence
  • Meru
  • We Come as Friends
  • What Happened, Miss Simone?
  • Where to Invade Next
  • Winter on Fire


The National Board of Review often bestows its top award of the year on a film based on a literary source; this year, they chose a film based on a legacy of action films and a genius filmmaker's imagination. Mad Max: Fury Road is the (slight) surprise winner of the NBR's Best Film award, joining other less-than-expected choices on their list such as Sicario and Straight Outta Compton on their Top 10 list, major showings for late-breakers Creed and The Hateful Eight, but not for Joy nor The Revenant, and no love for critics fave CarolLast year, this group chose A Most Violent Year as their Best Film pick - a film that went on to secure zero Oscar nominations total. Check out their full list of winners and other citations below:

Best Film
Mad Max: Fury Road
Bridge of Spies
The Hateful Eight
Inside Out
The Martian
Straight Outta Compton

Best Director
Ridley Scott (The Martian)

Best Actor
Matt Damon (The Martian)

Best Actress
Brie Larson (Room)

Best Supporting Actor
Sylvester Stallone (Creed)

Best Supporting Actress
Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight)

Best Original Screenplay
Quentin Tarantino (The Hateful Eight)

Best Adapted Screenplay
Drew Goddard (The Martian)

Best Ensemble
The Big Short

Best Animated Feature
Inside Out

Best Documentary
Best of Enemies
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution
The Diplomat
Listen to Me Marlon
The Look of Silence

Best Foreign Language Film
Son of Saul
Goodnight Mommy
The Second Mother
The Tribe

Best Independent Film
45 Years
Cop Car
Ex Machina
It Follows
James White
Mississippi Grind
Welcome to Me
While We're Young

Best Directorial Debut
Jonas Carpignano (Mediterranea)

Best Breakthrough Actor
Abraham Attah (Beasts of No Nation)
Jacob Tremblay (Room)

NBR Freedom of Expression Award
Beasts of No Nation

Spotlight Award for Outstanding Collaborative Vision

William K. Everson Film History Award
Cecilia de Mille Presley


Surprising no-one, Pixar Animation Studios takes prominence with the 2015 Annie Award nominations. Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur claim the most and the second-most mentions, respectively, leaving rival studios in the dust! Breaking with tradition, the year's sole DreamWorks Animation production, Home, barely registers with voters. Among other things, these nominations seem to confirm that there's considerable love in the animation community for Aardman's Shaun the Sheep Movie, and deservedly so. Winners will be announced on the 6th of February. All the nominations below:

Best Animated Feature
The Good Dinosaur
Inside Out
The Peanuts Movie
Shaun the Sheep Movie

Outstanding Directing in an Animated Feature Production
Roger Allers (Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet)
Mark Burton and Richard Starzak (Shaun the Sheep Movie)
Pete Docter (Inside Out)
Raul Garcia (Extraordinary Tales)
Duke Johnson and Charlie Kaufman (Anomalisa)
Steve Martino (The Peanuts Movie)
Yonebayashi Hiromasa (When Marnie Was There)

Outstanding Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production
Pierre Coffin (Minions)
Alex Garfin (The Peanuts Movie)
Jon Hamm (Minions)
Tom Kenny (The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water)
Jennifer Jason Leigh (Anomalisa)
Hadley Belle Miller (The Peanuts Movie)
Amy Poehler (Inside Out)
Phyllis Smith (Inside Out)

Outstanding Writing in an Animated Feature Production
Mark Burton and Richard Starzak (Shaun the Sheep Movie)
Josh Cooley, Pete Docter and Meg LeFauve (Inside Out)
Yonebayashi Hiromasa (When Marnie Was There)

Outstanding Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production
Enrico Casarosa, Tony Rosenast and J. P. Vine (The Good Dinosaur)
Habib Louati (Minions)
Bill Presing (The Good Dinosaur)
Tony Rosenast (Inside Out)
Antonio Santamaria (Extraordinary Tales)
Shi Do Mee (Inside Out)
Mike Smukavic (Hotel Transylvania 2)
Rosana Sullivan (The Good Dinosaur)

Outstanding Editorial in an Animated Feature Production
Jennifer Dolce (Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet)
Garret Elkins (Anomalisa)
Sim Evan-Jones (Shaun the Sheep Movie)
Kevin Nolting (Inside Out)

Outstanding Production Design in an Animated Feature Production
Ale Abreu (The Boy and the World)
Sharon Calahan, Bryn Imagire, Harley Jessup, Noah Klocek and Huy Nguyen (The Good Dinosaur)
Jason Carpenter (He Named Me Malala)
Ralph Eggleston (Inside Out)
Eric Guillon (Minions)
Gavin Lines and Matt Perry (Shaun the Sheep Movie)
Emil Mitev (Home)

Outstanding Animated Effects in an Animated Production
The Good Dinosaur
Hotel Transylvania 2
Inside Out
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water

Outstanding Animated Effects in a Live Action Production
Avengers: Age of Ultron
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Jurassic World
The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials

Outstanding Music in an Animated Feature Production
Carter Burwell (Anomalisa)
Jeff Danna and Mychael Danna (The Good Dinosaur)
Emicida, Ruben Feffer, GEM Grupo Experimental de Musica and Gustavo Kurlat (The Boy and the World)
Michael Giacchino (Inside Out)
Kevin Riepl (Batman Unlimited: Monster Mayhem)

Outstanding Character Animation in an Animated Production
Hichem Arfaoui (Minions)
B. J. Crawford (The Peanuts Movie)
Mark Donald (Home)
Mark C. Harris (The Good Dinosaur)
Travis Hathaway (Inside Out)
K. C. Roeyer (The Good Dinosaur)
Allison Rutland (Inside Out)

Outstanding Character Animation in a Live Action Production
'Azog' (The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies)
'The Hulk' (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
'Indominus Rex' (Jurassic World)
'Judy' (The Revenant)
'Smaug' (The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies)
'Ultron' (Avengers: Age of Ultron)

Outstanding Character Design in an Animated Feature Production
Stephen DeStefano and Craig Kellman (Hotel Transylvania 2)
Eric Guillon (Minions)
Albert Lozano and Chris Sasaki (Inside Out)
Matt Nolte (The Good Dinosaur)

Best Animated Feature - Independent
The Boy and the Beast
The Boy and the World
Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet
When Marnie Was There

Best Student Film
Can I Stay? (Ringling College)
The Casebook of Nips & Porkington (Melody Wang)
Dodoba (Lee Yon Hui)
Ed (Taha Neyestani)
Life Smartphone (Xie Cheng Lin)
Mother (Stephanie Chiew)
Nice to Meeteor You (Li Yi Zhou)
Shift (Maria Cecilia Puglesi)

Best Animated Short Subject
If I Was God
On Ice
Sanjay's Super Team
World of Tomorrow

Best Animated Special Production
Cobain: Montage of Heck
Elf: Buddy's Musical Christmas
He Named Me Malala
I Am a Witness
Niko and the Sword of Light


Mere hours away from the true start of awards season, the Gotham jury announced their choices for the finest in film and TV of 2015. Tom McCarthy's journalism drama Spotlight won the top award, Best Feature, also taking Best Screenplay in a potential show of strength that could be emulated as the critics awards roll out through December. Check out the nominees here and the winners below:

Best Feature
Spotlight (Steve Golin, Tom McCarthy, Blye Pagan Faust, Nicole Rocklin and Michael Sugar)

Best Actor
Paul Dano (Love & Mercy)

Best Actress
Bel Powley (The Diary of a Teenage Girl)

Best Screenplay
Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer (Spotlight)

Best Documentary
The Look of Silence (Signe Byrge Sorensen and Joshua Oppenheimer)

Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award
Jonas Carpignano (Mediterranea)

Best Breakthrough Actor
Mya Taylor (Tangerine)

Gotham Jury Award
Brian d'Arcy James, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery and Stanley Tucci (Spotlight)

Calvin Klein Spotlight on Women Directors 'Live the Dream' Award
Chanelle Aponte Pearson (195 Lewis)

Gotham Independent Film Audience Award

Film Tribute Award
Steve Golin
Todd Haynes
Helen Mirren
Robert Redford


Pixar expands its repertoire with another solid animation, destined to be treasured by audiences for many years to come. The Good Dinosaur, though on balance one of the studio's lower quality features, is better analysed within the context of the Pixar canon than that of the industry as a whole; its individuality accentuated against a run of typically verbose, contemporary cartoons. This is a more plaintive and contemplative film, and the attention to detail has been most pointedly placed upon landscape design - no doubt about it, the natural and background animation in The Good Dinosaur must rank among the most accomplished in the history of film to date. Character animation is considerably more cartoonish, a wise choice that supplies a pleasant distinction between the two styles, and furthers Pixar's tradition of creating more believable characters the less realistic they're drawn. As a film about a journey home, The Good Dinosaur is structurally episodic, comprised of short segments, some with self-contained narratives within the larger one, all connected by the purpose of furthering the emotional development of Arlo, the good dinosaur of the title. It's a gentle little message movie, one whose message is less important than the particulars that inform it, and one whose finest moments occur when it forgets that message altogether: stylistic sojourns like a beautiful, bittersweet moment atop a cloud-covered mountain, a central passage where the film turns into a Western - one of Pixar's trademark genre tips - and surely the first scene you can recall where an apatosaurus goes on an accidental drug bender. Talk about expanding your repertoire!

Saturday, 28 November 2015


Maiwenn le Besco's Mon Roi likely began its existence as a promising conceptual work, an intense and intensely-focused depiction of a relationship from conception to culmination. I mean, I don't actually know that this is how Mon Roi's existence began, but how else to justify the film that it eventually became? Formally, thematically, artistically, this is an entirely rote relationship drama, with few signs (if any) of whatever conceptual impetus ever begat such a work. Something must have gone wrong somewhere, right? Observing this couple from conception to culmination is surely the more satisfying the more invested you are in said couple. That's a deeply subjective process; for me, I felt intrigued about and frustrated by Emmanuelle Bercot's Tony, though at least I felt something constructive - I felt passionate disdain for Vincent Cassel's Georgio, and le Besco's apparent assertion that we're bound to forgive his immense shortcomings due to his charming good humour and joie de vivre is misplaced. From there, Mon Roi develops quickly into one of the year's most bizarre, baffling stories, as Tony is submitted to extraordinary levels of emotional abuse by her partner, and barely bats an eye! I kept willing her to sue the cunt, until I finally recalled that... she's a lawyer, a detail which both I and, seemingly, le Besco had forgotten. You could impose upon Mon Roi that it is a film about our ability as human beings to put ourselves through unconscionable punishment for the sake of others, or an opaque comment on the opacity of a woman's heart - good for you if that's what you take away from it (truly, good for you), but I'm not so keen to give the filmmakers so much credit. If the character development is shaky, it's far from the actors' fault, though, as Cassel impresses (in a role that he could do just as well in his sleep, albeit), and Bercot astounds, misjudging not one miniature moment in a highly demanding role.

Friday, 27 November 2015


Many excellent titles from this year (and last) on Cahiers du Cinema's Top 10 of 2015... and Mia Madre. In a decision that would be inexplicable for most critic polls, but which is almost predictable for the ever-independent Cahiers critics, Nanni Moretti's film beats titles from Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Miguel Gomes and, of all people, Larry Clark. Get your daily wtf fill below:

Cahiers du Cinema's Top 10 of 2015
1. Mia Madre
2. Cemetery of Splendour
3. In the Shadow of Women
4. The Smell of Us
5. Mad Max: Fury Road
6. Jauja
7. Inherent Vice
8. Arabian Nights: Volume 1 - The Restless One / Arabian Nights: Volume 2 - The Desolate One / Arabian Nights: Volume 3 - The Enchanted One
9. The Summer of Sangaile
10. Journey to the Shore


Hou Hsiao Hsien's The Assassin may not have picked up the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival in May, but it has gained another prestigious accolade - the honour of being named the best film of 2015 by British publication Sight & Sound. The film joins other Cannes award winners (it won Best Director there) Son of Saul and Carol on the list, which features female leads for its top three titles and for seven of its top ten. Check out the full 20 below:

Sight & Sound Top 20 of 2015
1. The Assassin
2. Carol
3. Mad Max: Fury Road
4. Arabian Nights: Volume 1 – The Restless One / Arabian Nights: Volume 2 – The Desolate One / Arabian Nights: Volume 3 – The Enchanted One
5. Cemetery of Splendour
6. No Home Movie
7. 45 Years
8. Son of Saul
9. Amy
Inherent Vice
11. Anomalisa
 It Follows
13. Phoenix
14. Girlhood
 Hard to Be a God
 Inside Out
19. Horse Money
 The Look of Silence


You'll forgive Rick Alverson's Entertainment, in the end, for having so little to say about society. It poses as a reflection upon society, and ends up commenting more upon itself than upon anything else. Its sad self-reflection is manifested in scene after scene of melancholic despair, the morose mood accentuated by Lorenzo Hagerman's astute cinematography. The effect is subtle and insidious, beguilingly so in that it's achieved via such overt means - Entertainment is an unashamedly, essentially caustic film, an anti-comedy with so sharp a sardonic streak it even seems to cut into itself. Little wonder all it can do is navel-gaze, as it spews bile, blood and shit out of self-inflicted incisions. Formally, the film is surprisingly well-crafted, though it lacks the depth of purpose that similarly-composed films take upon themselves; Entertainment is necessarily shallow, but such serious shallowness never feels like it amounts to much. As the screenplay progresses, it becomes ever more apparent that it's merely hitting all the expected targets en route to a typically bleak, desperate denouement - hitting them with precision and panache, targets that at least bear a callous, offbeat quality, the whole enterprise satisfyingly strange in the simplest way. Gregg Turkington has the tics of his comedian character down to the tiniest tee, and convinces with his creation, which may be the principal reason that Entertainment doesn't wither away entirely. He's a fragile figure, but Turkington's single-minded strength turns him into a cohesive force for the film. You'll forgive it all its flaws, in the end - there's fine work on display here.

Thursday, 26 November 2015


One of Japan's most recognisable film stars is no longer with us; it has been announced that Hara Setsuko died on the 5th of September 2015 at age 95. Her death was due to pneumonia. Aida Mase took up acting in the mid-1930s, changing her name for her career, and worked prolifically for the following three decades, despite health problems and some societal controversy. During this time, she worked with some of her home nation's most popular filmmakers, including Kurosawa Akira on No Regrets for Our Youth, and became one of the faces of Japan's post-war cultural revival. Her best-known roles were with Ozu Yasujiro, including her moving, memorable performances in Late Spring, Early Summer and Tokyo Story, known as the Noriko Trilogy. Her connection to Ozu over their six collaborations led to Hara quitting the industry after his death; her final film was released in 1966. Audiences around the world will continue to enjoy her sensitive work in some of the most seminal films of her era for years to come, ensuring that Hara may be missed, but never forgotten.