Nov 24, 2015

2016 Independent Spirit Award Nominations


The nominations for Independent Spirit Awards were announced earlier. CAROL leads the pack with 6 nominations. The Todd Haynes directed film is up for picture, director, Screenplay, cinematography and lead actress. Yes, both Blanchett and Mara are nominated in lead despite the great efforts of Weinsteins to push Mara for supporting. BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD makes a big comeback with 5 nominations. Netflix's first feature film has garnered huge acclaim for its relentless display of brutality. It is up here for picture, director, cinematography and two acting nods for lead Attah and supporting Elba. The revolutionary indie iPhone shot transgender dramedy TANGERINE is nominated for picture, director and for its lead / supporting duo.

The exciting slate of nominees also features a rare picture nod for the animated film ANOMALISA. Huge acclaim from its festival premiere two months back and its up here for picture, director, Screenplay and yes, supporting actress nod for Jennifer Jason Leigh. The fifth and final film nominated is the supposed Oscar frontrunner SPOTLIGHT. Up for picture, director, editing and Screenplay.  The ensemble is to receive the Robert Altman award. The stylish horror film IT FOLLOWS was not forgotten which got mentions in director, editing and Screenplay. Acclaimed Sundance entry JAMES WHITE received nominations for lead Abbot, supporting Nixon and best first film. Films like HEAVEN KNOWS WHAT, THE MEND, THE END OF THE TOUR, RESULTS, LOVE & MERCY, MEDDITERANEA, 99 HOMES, THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL, BONE TOMAHAWK etc were also acknowledged in various categories.

ROOM surprisingly didn't show up as hugely as it was predicted to be. Only got nods for its lead Larson, editing and first screenplay. Because of the rules probably, films like BROOKLYN weren't widely featured. Also enticing lineup for international and documentary lineup. That and other categories can be seen in the full list below:

Oct 22, 2015

2015 IFP Gotham Independent Film Award Nominations

The Diary of a Teenage Girl

The nominations were announced today for the first awards of the season, the Gothams. Their concentration and consideration lies mainly in the indie or character driven movie stratosphere with occasional big Oscar dramas in the mix. At this point, there is no point to say what was missed and what should have been there or whose presence or absence means what in the times to come but just relish it all. Personally, I haven't seen many of the nominees yet. The Diary of a Teenage Girl has the most nominations, my most anticipated movie event of the year... Carol has some mentions too along with Spotlight, Tangerine and Heaven Knows What. The latter one I have seen. Also glad to see Paul Dano get some love as well as The Mend and Arielle Holmes. The as-of-now lead actress frontrunners Cate Blanchett and Brie Larson are nominated too as well as actors from films like Experimenter, James White, 99 Homes, Grandma, I'll See You in My Dreams etc. Catch all of these nominated movies people, below is the full list:

Best Feature:

Carol – Todd Haynes, director; Elizabeth Karlsen, Tessa Ross, Christine Vachon, Stephen Woolley, producers
The Diary of a Teenage Girl – Marielle Heller, director; Anne Carey, Bert Hamelinck, Madeline Samit, Miranda Bailey, producers
Heaven Knows What – Josh and Benny Safdie, directors; Oscar Boyson, Sebastian Bear-McClard, producers
Spotlight – Tom McCarthy, director; Michael Sugar, Steve Golin, Nicole Rocklin, Blye Pagan Faust, producers
Tangerine – Sean Baker, director; Darren Dean, Shih-Ching Tsou, Marcus Cox & Karrie Cox, producers

Sep 12, 2015

Academy Awards 2016 - Early Predictions

I can never explain clearly to anyone this need of mine to predict the Oscars, early or late. Since I am not a renowned critic or awards watcher, this need clearly doesn't stem from being the first one to predict something that may or may not happen months from now or well, being obligated to do it as part of my job. I like doing this even though most of what we want to see nominated or win doesn't, same goes for critics and their favorites. Internet buzz and critical acclaim doesn't transfer usually into Oscar love because the voters are the industry. Their mindset or their decision-making isn't to award the best art but the film that needs to be awarded for its subject or a heartening story attached to it. A film that perhaps tells an inspiring story, that makes them look good. Despite all that is wrong with the way Academy works, we can't stop talking about it. Every year we discuss how Academy needs to change its attitude towards film and filmmaking, to adapt to new ways and change their ancient ways of thinking, more diversity in age, gender, race etc. Filmmakers from around the world keep on making what they want to, festivals are more interesting and the Oscars are now reduced to well, a ceremony rather than a phenomenon that influences movie lovers or general population.

So this year (just like last), I wont be predicting film that hasn't had a general or festival release. Wont even mention them. As I write this post, the Toronto International Film Festival has had its premiere, Venice is about to end while Telluride ended a few days ago. Some films did emerge as potential players but at this point, you just can't tell. The films to watch are the ones that are about big men doing big things or inspirational stories of heroism and resilience.

Note: I am not adding Cary Fukunaga's Beasts of No Nation because of its release pattern, a single day online premiere/theatrical release has always meant ineligibility.

(Most likely contenders at this point, in alphabetical order, main categories.)


  • Black Mass
  • Brooklyn
  • Carol
  • Inside Out
  • Love & Mercy
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Room
  • Sicario
  • Spotlight
  • Steve Jobs
  • Suffragette
  • The Danish Girl
  • Youth

May 25, 2015

68th Cannes Film Festival Awards - Dheepan wins Palme d'Or

The 2015 Cannes Film Festival ended with a closing awards ceremony a while ago. The jury headed by Joel and Ethan Coen awarded the prestigious Palme d'Or to Jacques Audiard's DHEEPAN. A film that nobody, even non-attendees like me expected to win because of the critical response it generated. This French immigrant drama with a Sri Lankan Tamil family at the center, didn't have the buzz going for it. Reviews expressed problems with the ending and calling it least favorite of Audiard's films that have been presented before at Cannes. On the other hand, the Hungarian Holocaust thriller SON OF SAUL won the Grand Prix which is a second place best film award. Some predicted it for the Palme, as did I. The film also won a few independent awards last night. An audacious debut per critics with great acclaim. And the final film to win one of the three best film prizes was Yorgos Lanthimos's crazy-weird English-language outing, THE LOBSTER which won the Jury Prize. The film received all kinds of reviews, mostly positive and expressed great feelings for the basic idea and narration of the film. People like I, predicted it for screenplay, which went to Michel Franco's CHRONIC. Another surprise. That was one of the last films to be shown at the festival and was predicted to win best actor for Tim Roth but that didn't happen. The best director award went to Hou Hsiao-hsien for his immaculately shot wuxia stunner, THE ASSASSIN. Note that I am quoting critics in describing these films. HHH is a cinephile favorite, who, per the majority should have been given the Palme.

May 15, 2015

Review: FALLEN ANGELS (1995)

           Leon Lai, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Michelle Reis, Charlie Yeung & Karen Mok

                   Wong Kar-wai

Apr 16, 2015

68th Cannes Film Festival Lineup Revealed

The lineup for 2015 Cannes Film Festival which will kick off on May 13th has been announced earlier today in a press conference. The competition jury (yet to be revealed) is headed by the Coen brothers of course. The festival will open with "La Tete Haute" by Emmanuelle Bercot (playing out of competition), revealed three days ago. This would be the second female-directed film to open the festival since... the 80's!

Several of the titles in competiton were expected to make it with a few curiously missing out. They usually continue to add more films as the festival nears, its like a Cannes tradition so at least three more may be included in the main slate. Jacques Audiard's new film along with Todd Haynes (Carol), Hou Hsiao Hsien (The Assassin), Joachim Trier (Louder than Bombs) and Paolo Sorrentino (Youth) will be vying for the Palme d'Or. Some other regular filmmakers are included as well, like Hirokazu Kore-eda, Nanni Moretti, Matteo Garrone and Jia Zhang-ke. A great lineup from what I can well, presume. Cannot wait for the Cannes madness to start.

Other than the main selection, there are films like George Miller's Mad Max: Fury Road, Woody Allen's Irrational Man and Pixar's Inside Out playing out of competition.

Below is the full list:

Mar 10, 2015

Best of 2014 - My Awards

I am back with my "Best of 2014" awards post to acknowledge excellence of the films in various categories. I had posted my top 20 list here. Note that the nominees are all ranked.

Best Film:

1. Boyhood *WINNER*
2. Under the Skin
3. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
4. Two Days, One Night
5. Whiplash
6. Birdman
7. Foxcatcher
8. Olive Kitteridge
9. The Immigrant
10. Leviathan

Mar 8, 2015

Best of 2014 - My Top 20

Another film-year came to an end. 2014 was very good for films, every year is in its own way. Sure it didn't reach the heights of 2013 but it sure had enough surprises and significant works to say that it wasn't a complete waste. Richard Linklater's Boyhood was met with the kind of response no film in my lifetime has ever received and I am all for it. Birdman won the Academy Award, Cannes gave their best film to Turkish master Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Winter Sleep. The mostly sung films came out earlier the year. As usual, many of the films we were all dying to watch came out in that precious slot between the end of fall festivals and the beginning of new year because awards season counts more. It's all business my friends. From American Sniper controversy (lol what controversy?) to Selma's inevitable glory, from films about aliens to one about a psychopath, different topics and themes were tackled. Films about a boy's coming of age struggles, a woman's journey to save her job, a woman's journey to find out what it's really like to be a woman... to a woman battling the darkest of emotions.... people trying to survive a country, a particular time in a country, a particular mindset in a country.... many of the films this year were about human beings trying to survive the various struggles of life. The theme of this year was life in all its forms. This was also a year where we saw some truly unorthodox but refreshing 'biopics'... and of course some typically bland ones. Interesting experimentation in storytelling, be it a 12 year-long production or life-long portrayal of a women's sexual journey... comedies, tragedies, horror, action, science fiction, fiction-celebrated-as-truth, truth-slammed-as-fiction... oh what a year.