Tuesday, 31 December 2013

REVIEW - ALL IS LOST


How fragile yet how resilient. The clouds on the horizon do not forebode a storm of gargantuan proportions, but just enough to lay waste to the Virginia Jean, and possibly to its sole inhabitant / crew member. He is nameless, largely wordless, for amidst all this metal and plastic and wood, all this machinery, his concern is that most natural and most animal: to survive. And it is so easy to be killed, but so hard to die. J.C. Chandor eschews the rugged masculinity that is inherent in the traditional survival-at-sea story for a delicacy that is initially puzzling but eventually fitting. The sound mix is thin and wispy, the editing is both artful and quite measured, and Our Man, Robert Redford, is surely no physical match for the travails that await him, his perseverance and mental fortitude aside. That mental fortitude bypasses fleeting emotion, and denies him such arrogance to rant and rail against his fortunes and seek to search for blame. His pragmatism cannot save him from facing that one more troubling fact of life, though - that it will end. For a film so ostensibly concerned with practical matters, All Is Lost is a disarmingly spiritual experience, and it is the sensitivity of Chandor's touch that allows this pivotal feature of the film to thrive. What it will come down to for Our Man is not a physical battle but a mental one, and whether he wins or loses it is left ambiguous, for why ever shouldn't it be? The film is about one human being's struggle to keep his head above water, at all costs, and it is over when it is over. It is also allegorical, and pleasingly so, not irritatingly. The score by Alex Ebert is no grand musical accomplishment, but it possesses the rare quality of being in total service to the film, and never betraying its key preoccupations, and so was a smart post-production addition.

Monday, 30 December 2013

OBIT - WOJCIECH KILAR


Polish-born composer Wojciech Kilar died yesterday, the 29th of December. One of the 20th Century's most influential and accomplished composers, he belonged to the Polish avant-garde movement toward the beginning of his career, alongside Henryk Gorecki and Krzysztof Penderecki. Like those two, his contribution to classical music was considerable, but his contribution to film music was more marked then theirs. Embracing the ascent of Polish cinema in the 1960s, he made international waves by memorably scoring Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula. This led to several collaborations with Roman Polanski, and working with Jane Campion on The Portrait of a Lady and James Gray on We Own the Night. He was a widower since 2007. This is one of the most regrettable posts that I've had to make this year. There were few talents working in film composing than Kilar.

REVIEW - A SPELL TO WARD OFF THE DARKNESS


For what purpose and to what effect? Such questions Ben Rivers and Ben Russell could have, and should have asked themselves before embarking on this documentary project. There is considerable beauty here, and considerable bravery in their direction, but it is hollow and soulless, with no purpose and to no effect. It is at this point that I must interject to alert you that this review is a stain on my already thoroughly soiled archive of film reviews. The fault may be partially with Rivers and Russell, but it is surely more with me. I am honest when I write that I allowed my cultural prejudices to inform my opinions on A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness, but also somewhat embarrassed that I ever even did. You see, each time I witnessed another hippie (not a slur, I have enormous respect for the hippie movement) babbling on about philosophy or sex or some other intellectual concept, my desire to give credence to their sincerity was overridden by my natural response, that these are adolescent minds, unsure and unformed. There's nothing wrong with that, but there's probably something wrong with their delusional arrogance in entrusting their thoughts and words with such validity, and the same is true for Rivers and Russell. And my prejudice against heavy metal set my mind adrift in the film's closing sequence, a single shot of a single set-piece, of relentless vocal and electronic screeching, sad souls expressing their half-baked ennui through face painting and sweaty locks of long, lank hair. This may have a transcendent effect on some, and I won't deny that the directors are onto something with the striking choices they make in their craft, but its effect on me was nil. Vivid imagery doesn't exactly enliven the film's middle stretch, as it's much too contemplative in tone for that, but it certainly makes for an impressive, memorable interlude between the dreck that bookends this pretentious documentary.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

FIRST LOOK AT GONE GIRL AND THE IMITATION GAME


David Fincher's Gone Girl stars Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck and is based on the Gillian Flynn novel. It's due to receive an October release next year. The Imitation Game is being helmed by Headhunters' Morten Tyldum. It stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing, the mathematician who was recently (and posthumously) granted an official statutory pardon by the British government after having been convicted of homosexuality. He alone, mind. A just conviction under an unjust law, and a whole heap more posthumous pardons wouldn't hurt, now, would they?

CENTRAL OHIO FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION NOMINATIONS GIVE A BOOST TO WOLF


Now that critics and audiences alike have expressed some discontent with Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street, the Central Ohio Film Critics Association has expressed quite the opposite. It, alongside Short Term 12 and Amy Adams, receives a boost from the association, which announces its awards on the 2nd of January, or Thursday, as it's otherwise known this coming year.

Best Film

·          12 Years a Slave
·          American Hustle
·          Before Midnight
·          Frances Ha
·          Gravity
·          Her
·          Inside Llewyn Davis
·          Nebraska
·          Upstream Colour
·          The Wolf of Wall Street

Best Director
·          Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity)
·          Spike Jonze (Her)
·          Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave)
·          Alexander Payne (Nebraska)
·          David O. Russell (American Hustle)
·          Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street)

Best Actor
·          Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)
·          Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips)
·          Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station)
·          Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)
·          Joaquin Phoenix (Her)

Best Actress
·          Amy Adams (American Hustle)
·          Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
·          Adèle Exarchopoulos (Blue Is the Warmest Colour)
·          Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha)
·          Brie Larson (Short Term 12)

Best Supporting Actor
·          Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)
·          Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)
·          James Franco (Spring Breakers)
·          Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street)
·          Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

Best Supporting Actress
·          Scarlett Johansson (Her)
·          Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
·          Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
·          Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)
·          June Squibb (Nebraska)

Best Original Screenplay
·          Ethan Coen and Joel Coen (Inside Llewyn Davis)
·          Destin Cretton (Short Term 12)
·          Spike Jonze (Her)
·          Bob Nelson (Nebraska)
·          David O. Russell and Eric Singer (American Hustle)

Best Adapted Screenplay
·          Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke and Richard Linklater (Before Midnight)
·          Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (The Spectacular Now)
·          Billy Ray (Captain Phillips)
·          John Ridley (12 Years a Slave)
·          Terence Winter (The Wolf of Wall Street)

REVIEW - 47 RONIN


Universal Pictures spent $175 million on 47 Ronin. On what, the catering? You don't gamble that much cash on a first-time director and a washed-up actor, not in the real world. That's a mistake of mythic proportions, as mythic as any of the witchcraft and warlording-around on all its tacky, gaudy show in this lumbering fantasy epic. As dour as an overcast day in Belfast and feeling almost as long, 47 Ronin is a near-interminable slog through the most tiresome of stories, the kind which needs only the liveliest filmmaking in order to succeed, since it's not even formulaic, it is the very formula on which formulaic films are based. Carl Rinsch instead drowns his film in grandstanding sincerity, with cheap, shiny visuals, a bombastic and utterly disposable score, and line after line of woefully wooden acting. It's all in English too, representing the kind of crass desecration of Japanese culture that the film seems to aim for with every decision. I'm making it sound like a lot more fun than it is, actually. It's not fun at all. Not even the stupendously bad visual effects are worth a giggle (there's not a single laugh to be had in the whole dreary thing). It's the film version of Keanu Reeves, who, as it happens, is also this very film's star! Reeves has always been a chore to watch, and here he plays a demon, which is pretty stupid, since Reeves has enough trouble playing human beings, never mind demons. Rinko Kikuchi has a better time (and so do we) as a shape-shifting witch, who goes about her clandestine mischief with the utmost ceremony, in case we hadn't noticed her bright green costumes and the tendency for shit to hit the shoji every time she's nearby. But still, it's hard to shake the feeling that every member of this film's sorry Japanese cast can't have been paid enough to star in such an insult to their heritage, no matter what cut of the $175m they bagged. You'd hope Universal won't cough up the same for a sequel, but then you'd have hoped they wouldn't have done so for the first one anyway. If they do a sequel called 0 Ronin, I'll be happy(-ish). Half a star for maybe making me react in some form once or twice, but also maybe not.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

MANAKAMANA TRAILER


Shame on me for taking so long to post the trailer for Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez's Manakamana, the documentary which impressed many attendees at some of this year's premier film festivals. It's been on my radar since then, though no theatrical release dates have yet been determined for any countries. Now, at the end of the year, it already looks likely to be one of 2013's most influential and memorable films, and has been cited by several esteemed voices as just that.

FINAL NYMPHOMANIAC TEASER - THE GUN


Critics have begun ringing in on Lars von Trier's Nymphomaniac, with the consensus being that the film is a far more intellectual, far less salacious enterprise than had been expected, and the tone of many reviews is very positive. For those of us who haven't yet seen the film, the picture above is a link to the teaser for its eighth and final chapter, 'The Gun'. That, btw, is not Jean-Marc Barr's willy.

REVIEW - THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY


The little guy who could, re-imagined by the multi-millionaire who did. There was potential in the premise, and there is talent in the details, but Ben Stiller has hewn to his own trail through this insubstantial, queer little comedy, his attention directed toward all the wrong places. It's brave of him to direct said attention to creating something of a new genre - the comedy epic - but you don't get points for bravery, and he doesn't get many for execution either. Pathos is combined with flippancy to form a strange, somewhat disconcerting tone, one which doesn't stick. Neither element is fully cultivated in the process (since this is a strictly half-and-half recipe), and so we float through the experience of watching The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, wondering when either might catch on. Stiller has issues also with, well, himself. Walter is as bland as the film he's in (I think there's some connection there...), a man possessed of few secrets, actually, and not much of a life, even when he spontaneously decides to embark on a globe-spanning adventure in the pursuit of... a photograph. Or himself. Or both? Eventually, he doesn't seem to find himself, alas (or at least we don't), though he does find love. This is the intimate story set against the epic backdrop, literally, but again Stiller won't commit to developing either - this neat little romance, and the laser-focus on Walter even as he encounters sharks or volcanic eruptions or snow leopards, these ought to be immensely emotionally involving. But they're trite and tossed off, and they too fail to stick. And so the film comes off quite narcissistic, a study of self, since Stiller's capacity as actor and director appears heftier (in his own estimation) than his character's capacity for drama. Any hint of empathy only compounds this, as it is dispensed with no sooner than you've begun to recognise it. I felt no empathy for Walter Mitty, and that's not just because nothing deserving of it was written into the role. That's because, for Stiller, Walter is not the unlikely, humble hero. He's just the hero, period. When he descends from the Himalayas to play soccer with Sean Penn and a bunch of Afghan peasant kids against a glimmering sunset, I half expected them to join hands and sing 'We Are the World'. Hands are held, in the end, as Walter achieves what he wished to, not due to his courage but in spite of his dullness. He's not the little guy who could. He might as well be the multi-millionaire who did.

Friday, 27 December 2013

OSCAR PREDICTIONS 8 - 3 WEEKS TO GO


Remember the days when I used to publish posts a few days after they were due to be posted? Well, those days have returned! Just 20 days to go. This is basically all that keeps me from jumping off a tall building when Christmas is over. This and the sales.

Best Picture

·          12 Years a Slave
·          American Hustle
·          Captain Phillips
·          Dallas Buyers Club
·          Gravity
·          Her
·          Inside Llewyn Davis
·          Nebraska
·          The Wolf of Wall Street

Best Director
·          Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity)
·          Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips)
·          Spike Jonze (Her)
·          Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave)
·          David O. Russell (American Hustle)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
·          Bruce Dern (Nebraska)
·          Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)
·          Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips)
·          Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)
·          Robert Redford (All Is Lost)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
·          Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
·          Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
·          Judi Dench (Philomena)
·          Brie Larson (Short Term 12)
·          Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
·          Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)
·          Daniel Brühl (Rush)
·          Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)
·          James Gandolfini (Enough Said)
·          Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
·          Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
·          Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
·          Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)
·          Octavia Spencer (Fruitvale Station)
·          June Squibb (Nebraska)

Best Original Screenplay
·          American Hustle
·          Enough Said
·          Her
·          Inside Llewyn Davis
·          Nebraska

Best Adapted Screenplay
·          12 Years a Slave
·          Before Midnight
·          Captain Phillips
·          Short Term 12
·          The Wolf of Wall Street

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

REVIEW - IS THE MAN WHO IS TALL HAPPY?


The words of Noam Chomsky and the images of Michel Gondry. Their opposition - it's hardly a stylistic opposition, is it? Do Noam Chomsky's studies and theories have a particular artistic style? - makes for an intriguing collision on film, one which has its peculiar moments of brilliance, and its rather more disaffecting moments. In Gondry's inventiveness, ths 'conversation' with Chomsky is manifest, as verbally it's more like an interview. A simple interview, by no means a character study. There are plenty of opportunities to go deep with a subject such as this, but Gondry resists them - such depth is inherent in plainly posing a question to a mind as intelligent and eloquent as Noam Chomsky's. Gondry does make attempts at exploring that mind, and the man whose mind it is, with more breadth instead, with the consequence that a lot is said (so much that it's somewhat of a task to keep up), but not a lot is absorbed. The animation style is intentionally crude, a cute visual juxtaposition to the near-incessant audial theorising, though it feels natural and unaffected, since this is very much Gondry's wont. Its equally incessant movement borders on mania, and it frequently becomes a distraction to what are valuable, if dense, sonic stimuli. But there's something refreshing about Gondry's resistance to over-styling naturally modest but intellectually rich material - there's nothing about Chomsky's contribution that couldn't have been cheapened by the occasional streak of self-conscious quaintness, and the film comes close enough to that as it is.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

TRAILERS: THE TALE OF THE BAMBOO CUTTER AND THE MOLE SONG


Two Japanese films, and two Japanese trailers, so don't ask me what's going on in either of them. The above trailer for Takahata Isao's The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter is a glorious example of how so much can be communicated in promotional material with so little fuss. The below trailer for Miike Takashi's The Mole Song: Undercover Agent Reiji is quite the opposite. Both have their charms, I think, and uniquely Japanese ones too.

Monday, 23 December 2013

VANCOUVER FILM CRITICS CIRCLE NOMINATIONS - 12 YEARS LEADS INTERNATIONAL, THE DIRTIES LOCAL


The Vancouver Film Critics Circle is the first critic group in a few days to announce results of either nominations of awards, and it'll possibly be the last for more than just a few. 12 Years a Slave leads the international nominations, unsurprisingly, with six mentions, and Gravity and Inside Llewyn Davis follow with three and four, respectively, both appearing in the Best Film and Director categories. In the Canadian Film categories, Matt Johnson's The Dirties wins five nominations, and ought to go into their awards on the 7th of January as the favourite.

Best Film
·          12 Years a Slave
·          Gravity
·          Inside Llewyn Davis

Best Director
·          Ethan Coen and Joel Coen (Inside Llewyn Davis)
·          Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity)
·          Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave)

Best Actor
·          Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)
·          Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis)
·          Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)

Best Actress
·          Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
·          Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
·          Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha)

Best Supporting Actor
·          Bradley Cooper (American Hustle)
·          Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)
·          Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

Best Supporting Actress
·          Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
·          Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
·          June Squibb (Nebraska)

Best Screenplay
·          Ethan Coen and Joel Coen (Inside Llewyn Davis)
·          Spike Jonze (Her)
·          John Ridley (12 Years a Slave)

Best Documentary
·          The Act of Killing
·          Blackfish
·          West of Memphis

Best Foreign Language Film
·          Blancanieves
·          Blue Is the Warmest Colour
·          The Hunt

REVIEW - THE CONGRESS


The sci-fi details in Ari Folman's sci-fi film The Congress are vague, as they ought to be. The less you explain, the easier it is to accept. And that's all that you need to do: accept it. Using all manner of dazzling craft in his filmmaking arsenal, Folman languishes not on those details but on the emotional details, and the emotive power that can be wrought from them. It's a true artist who can assemble so very much, in so very ambitious a movie, and distill it all to the most basic themes, and find so pure and direct a route to one's heart. Even technically, The Congress is enormously creative, and conceptually it helps mark Folman out as one of contemporary cinema's foremost innovators. But much as his technique looks forward, his thoughts look back on ourselves, to the feelings we dare not divulge but which influence our every decision. His are traditional concerns, borne out via non-traditional means. The technological trepidation expressed by his screenplay, from Stanislaw Lem's novel, is not cautionary but cautious, in a practical sense, and thus it is fitting that he wields his own artistic technology so sensitively throughout, and ever with one eye on what effect it might achieve on the viewer. By a certain point, the effect it had on me was of a single, unrelenting throb in my chest, the mildest sensation of having been winded, a sustained anxiety bordering on teariness, and a curious empathetic feeling. Need I explicate the quality of each element of The Congress' production now? I don't think so, but I am compelled to note striking production design by David Polonsky, canny scoring by Max Richter and, of course, Yoni Goodman's stunning animation. And the contribution to the film entire by Robin Wright, in a truly awe-inspiring capacity that intellectually breaches the dramatic fourth wall, and thus involves you in her story, as factual as it is fictional, as absorbing as it is stirring.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

REVIEW - OUT OF THE FURNACE


What do you find when you dig up dirt? More dirt, a monotonous multitude of dirt, down to the deepest depths that you can dig to. In independent film, it's known as grit, and the grittier the movie, the more authentic, and thus the better. But grit is dry and unfulfilling, hard, dusty and indigestible - you can't catch ahold of it, and you can't consume it. There's nowt but grit in Scott Cooper's new grittier-than-grit gritty drama, which makes it dry indeed, monotonous, unfulfilling. He has his wishes set on elevating his humdrum story into a grand, tragic discourse on the nature of masculinity and of revenge, but then I had my wishes set on something similar - it didn't make it happen. In pursuit of a brave new take on such violent revenge narratives, Cooper doesn't force the suspense nor the brutality which comes as standard with the genre; instead, he allows them to seep slowly out of the film's first hour, as it edges ever closer to the point where, well, something significant happens, I suppose. This is not the right approach with the material (Cooper's own, alongside Brad Inglesby), which needed directorial flair in its (preferably extended) later stages to enliven it, not repetitive meditation over its dreary and cliched expository scenes. Cooper's film progresses listlessly, dispensing with subplots that have a vast amount more dramatic potential than its entirely predictable, underdeveloped, and even implausible concerns. These are not trivial matters - the rampant destitution in rural America, the emotional state of soldiers returning from war, police relations with thuggish hick gangs in the local countryside. But there's no perceptible insight into these matters, which Cooper is content to exploit for all their cinematic worth regardless, as he attempts to turn this drab, dirty B-movie, scarcely better than the typical film showing in a small-town drive-in, such as the one at Out of the Furnace's start, into a bona fide Greek tragedy.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

JAMES SCHAMUS TO RECEIVE WGA EVELYN F. BURKEY AWARD


The WGA is as pissed off as the rest of us about James Schamus' firing from the company he founded, Focus Features, and its transformation into just another populist tributary of the major studios. So, they've decided to give him the Evelyn F. Burkey award, established to honour those who have dedicated their professional life to supporting and helping writers, and as the executive of Focus and, himself, an accomplished screenwriter, he's an excellent choice. He'll be honoured at the East Coat WGA awards in their ceremony on the 1st of February.

REVIEW - GLORIA


A film which uses the medium of cinema in its capacity to entertain, to tell an unentertaining story. Give this scenario to Mike Leigh or Fred Kelemen and you have 'realism', or in other words the year's most depressing film. Sebastian Lelio perhaps achieves something closer to reality than realism, in that he recognises the humble optimism that allows the human mind to stay buoyant, to stay chipper. Gloria, his protagonist, never succumbs to despair, and her travails are illustrated with an unmannered cool that mirrors the thoughtful impassivity that falls over Paulina Garcia's face in some more testing moments. A plain woman in a plain film, and all in plain fact, but filtered through the capacity of cinema to entertain. As Gloria's mind stays buoyant, so too does the film, skimming over its storyline, never risking its footing by delving any deeper, as its central character - our only point of focus in the entire film - herself feels no such urge. So such narrative nonchalance is not a mistake, it's a reflection, and a solid one too. If there are issues to be found in the film, they are to be found in this character, Gloria, which explains why I could find no issues in the film, only in her character. You see, I don't believe that an entertaining film can be made about just anybody, and this Gloria is, truthfully, just anybody. She's completely average, completely ordinary, and perhaps there will be those who can discern some kind of wonder or transcendence or, appropriately, glory in her ordinariness, but I could not. Yet to require some sort of dramatic hook, to ensnare my interest in her story, would be wrong, as such a hook would destroy the purity of Lelio's portrait, so accurate and so sensitive. That entertaining sheen hardens the film for me, and won't allow either my heart or my mind access to that of Gloria. It's not fair to want something from a film that it irrefutably cannot be, but if I had wanted something from Gloria, it'd have been the year's most depressing film.

Friday, 20 December 2013

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 - TRAILER


DreamWorks are confident about this one, and so they should be, since in 2010 How to Train Your Dragon make a bucketload of cash, even climbing back up to No. 1 at the domestic box office on its fourth weekend! And with sequels making enormous amounts of money these days at the worldwide box office, they're surely expecting even better for How to Train Your Dragon 2. It looks alright, doesn't it? Out on the 13th of June in the US and the 4th of July in the UK - not independence day for us, alas, since that's you Yanks celebrating your independence from us, soz. Well, sort of us. Not me, at least ;) Ooh a bit of politics on a Friday night!

ICE AGE 5 ON ITS WAY IN 2016


I've only seen one of the four Ice Age films so far, and that was the second one. Who knows why. It's popular in the US, but extremely successful in a great deal of other territories, and is one of the films to have perpetuated the expansion of the international marketplace. Ice Age 5 is coming, set for release on the 15th of July, 2016. So Blue Sky's previously-announced Anubis has been shifted back to the 23rd of March, 2018. Cor, 2018. There are days I'm not sure I'll even live to see 2018.

NYMPHOMANIAC PART ONE TO PREMIERE AT BERLIN


You already know Nymphomaniac is being released in full in Denmark on Christmas Day. Christmas treat! Here you go, nan! The first part of the four-hour-plus sex epic from Lars von Trier will then show for the first time sans Part Two at the Berlin International Film Festival in February, with releases around the world for both parts scheduled for early months in 2014. And then there's the director's cut, also in two parts, which may see the light of day some time, I dunno...

PAUL RUDD IS MARVEL'S ANT-MAN


I know I'm late posting this news, but, well... um, I don't give a shit.

OSCAR FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM SHORTLIST - 9 IN THE RUNNING


The Academy has chosen the nine films it likes best from the Foreign Language film longlist for this shortlist! And they'll compete for the five available nomination positions. Missing are favourites Renoir from France (thankfully), The Past from Iran (that'll do too), Wadjda from Saudi Arabia (a little disappointing, but I wouldn't have picked it either), Gloria from Chile (not bothered) and Ilo Ilo from Singapore (haven't seen that). Particularly pleased that The Missing Picture from Cambodia and The Hunt from Denmark are both still in the running because they're ever so good. Also keen to see An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker, and it'd be great to see it nominated, in less then four weeks now.

  • The Broken Circle Breakdown - Belgium
  • An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker - Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • The Grandmaster - Hong Kong
  • The Great Beauty - Italy
  • The Hunt - Denmark
  • The Missing Picture - Cambodia
  • The Notebook - Hungary
  • Omar - Palestine
  • Two Lives - Germany

GRAVITY IS THE UTAH FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION'S CHOICE FOR BEST OF 2013


Out of left-field comes the Utah Film Critics Association, demonstrating a little more verve than many of the other non-coastal critic groups in the US this year. Gravity bests 12 Years a Slave in the top categories, which isn't rly all that radical, though wins for Adele Exarchopoulos, Bill Nighy and The World's End's screenplay make for more interesting choices than many other groups', even if they're not quite as well-representative of quality filmmaking from the year.

Best Picture
1.        Gravity
2.        12 Years a Slave

Best Director
1.        Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity)
2.        Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave)

Best Actor
1.        Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)
2.        Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis)

Best Actress
1.        Adèle Exarchopoulos (Blue Is the Warmest Colour)
2.        Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
 Sandra Bullock (Gravity)

Best Supporting Actor
1.        Bill Nighy (About Time)
2.        Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)

Best Supporting Actress
1.        Scarlett Johansson (Her)
2.        Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)

Best Original Screenplay
1.        Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright (The World’s End)
2.        Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (The Way, Way Back)

Best Adapted Screenplay
1.        Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke and Richard Linklater (Before Midnight)
2.        John Ridley (12 Years a Slave)

Best Cinematography
1.        Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravity)
2.        Bruno Delbonnel (Inside Llewyn Davis)

Best Animated Feature
1.        Frozen
2.        From Up on Poppy Hill
 The Wind Rises

Best Non-English Language Feature
1.        Blue Is the Warmest Colour
2.        The Past

NEVADA FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION PLUMP FOR 12 YEARS, BUT ONLY JUST


The Nevada Film Critics Association's benevolent neighbours, the Las Vegas Film Critics Society, bestowed upon 12 Years a Slave five awards earlier in the week. The Nevada lot have given Steve McQueen's film just the one, but it's the big one: Best Picture. Gravity, winning Best Director, Dallas Buyers Club and August: Osage County all take home more awards each, with August winning Meryl Streep her first, and possibly last, Best Actress award of the season. I don't trust any group which sees fit to hand out an award for Visual Effects, though, and not Screenplay.

Best Film
12 Years a Slave

Best Director
Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)

Best Actor
Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)

Best Actress
Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)

Best Supporting Actor
Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

Best Supporting Actress
Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)

Best Cinematography
Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravity)

Best Production Design
Dan Hennah (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug)

Best Visual Effects
Gravity

Best Ensemble Cast
August: Osage County

Best Animated Film
Frozen

Best Youth Performance
Sophie Nelisse (The Book Thief)