Sensual isn’t the first word that comes to mind when you think of South Korean auteur Park Chan-wook. After all, this is the director behind such brutal films as Oldboy, Lady Vengeance, and Stoker. It’s surprising, then, to see his latest film The Handmaiden, the story of an orphan sent to work for a mysterious heiress, is a romantic period drama, focusing on forbidden love, restrained emotions, and genuinely erotic moments of intimacy. At least, it is for the first ten minutes.
Should a biopic about Christine Chubbuck exist? Many believe the story of the young news anchor who shot herself live on air in 1974 should never be made, out of respect for the dead. A recent documentary, Kate Plays Christine, focused on the very topic, concluding that making a film about Chubbuck could only be exploitative. However, in Antonio Campos’ hands, Christine is a moving, troubling story that never feels at all exploitative, mostly due to the career best work of Rebecca Hall in the title role.
In what might be the most stunningly embarrassing gaffe in Oscar history, La La Land was announced as Best Picture, but once Damien Chazelle and his team made it onstage, presenter Warren Beatty had to announce that the actual winner was Moonlight. It was a cringeworthy moment for all involved, but I’m just too happy to say that Moonlight won Best Picture. With a tiny budget, unusual narrative and visual style, and focus on race and sexuality, Moonlight is one of the most unique Best Picture winners in history, and Barry Jenkins deserves all of his success.
It’s that time of year again when Hollywood’s elite gathers to hand out awards for the best in film. That’s right, it’s Oscar night, and this year is looking as unpredictable as any year in the ceremony’s 89-year history. Though certain films are guaranteed to walk away with a prize, many of the evening’s biggest awards are still up for debate. Just like every sensible person overseas, I’m unlikely to stay up all night watching the event, so I’ll have to wait until tomorrow morning to find out just how accurate my predictions are. Along with my picks for the night’s winners, I’ll also say who deserves to win, and who should have been nominated.
Will Win: La La Land
Who knew a musical about Hollywood would be so popular with voters? Like Birdman, Argo, and The Artist before it, La La Land is looking like this year’s fun, frivolous, but somewhat obvious winner. Having swept every other major awards show, it’s all but guaranteed to win.
Should Win: Moonlight
Though Manchester by the Sea was my favourite of this year’s nominees, I’m secretly rooting for Moonlight, a small-but-powerful underdog, to take the win. Focusing on the types of people rarely seen in films, let alone in a Best Picture nominee, Moonlight is one of the year’s most unique, interesting stories, and deserves to be rewarded.
Should Have Been Nominated: Paterson
Jim Jarmusch’s most beautiful film to date, Paterson was a stunning, lovable film featuring career-best work from its cast. It’s not a likely Oscar-nominee, but very few films made in the last year come close.
The BAFTAs 2017 have come and gone, and looking at the results shows a mostly unsurprising line up of winners with a few unexpected prizes. The BAFTAs are never guaranteed to go the same way of the upcoming Oscars, and while the major winners of the night will be almost identical to the Academy Awards, a few British films managed to sneak in and achieve glory on the night. Let’s break down the major awards of the evening:
Best Picture – La La Land
No surprises here. Just a few months ago, bookies were torn between this and Moonlight as the big contender come Oscar night. Unfortunately, Moonlight‘s chances of winning are looking slim in the wake of La La Land‘s runaway success; it came away empty-handed at the BAFTAs. As enjoyable and well-crafted as La La Land is, I can’t help but feel it will be looked at like Argo and Birdman in years to come – A fun film that went further than it probably should have.
No film has been quite as hyped up on this blog as Danny Boyle’s long-awaited sequel to his 1996 classic Trainspotting. Ever since Boyle announced he was reuniting with producer Andrew MacDonald, screenwriter John Hodges, and the original cast to work on the then-unnamed follow-up, I’ve been anticipating its premiere with excitement and minor anxiety. After all, the most viewed blog I’ve ever written was my breathless, ever-so-slightly hyperbolic article ‘Why Trainspotting is the Best Film of All Time’. The original means a lot to me; since I first developed a passion for cinema in my early teens, I’ve called Trainspotting my all-time favourite film. The combination of stylish direction, brash performances and incredible music blew my mind and made me want to work in film. Twenty years later, can T2 Trainspotting possibly live up to its masterful predecessor?
In very sad news, beloved British screen icon Sir John Hurt has passed away after a long battle with cancer at the age of 77. Since his screen debut in 1962, Hurt has appeared in over 120 roles on film and television, including starring roles in some of the iconic films of all time.
Everyone has a different role they most fondly remember John Hurt for. Older television viewers probably remember two of his biggest breakthroughs, as Quentin Crisp in The Naked Civil Servant and Caligula in the shocking I, Claudius. As he moved into film, he gave blistering, award-winning performances in Midnight Express, The Elephant Man, and Nineteen Eighty-Four as well as an iconic supporting role in Alien (the chestburster scene is still regularly recognised as one of the greatest horror scenes of all time).
As he got older, he took supporting roles in some of the biggest films and TV series around. Many young adults will fondly remember growing up watching him as Ollivander in the Harry Potter series, or appearing as the War Doctor in Doctor Who. Never afraid to take on big budget blockbusters, Hurt gave gravitas and warmth to minor roles in everything from V for Vendetta to Hellboy to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Despite his advancing age, Hurt never stopped giving tremendous roles in smaller independent films. In the last fifteen years, he gave some of the best performances of his career in The Proposition, 44 Inch Chest and Jim Jarmusch’s wonderful Only Lovers Left Alive. It’s only fitting that the last film released before his death was the Oscar-nominated Jackie.
Of course, it’s impossible to mention Sir John Hurt without sparing a thought for his voiceover work. Whether you know him from children’s classic Watership Down or Lars Von Trier’s disturbing arthouse drama Dogville, Hurt’s voice always gave the onscreen visuals importance, no matter what he was reading. Without Hurt’s gravelly voice, would the British campaign informing viewers about the effects of AIDS have been half as successful?
To put it simply, there are very few actors as important, iconic, and consistently excellent as Sir John Hurt was. No matter the film or series, whether award-winning drama, big budget blockbuster, or beloved children’s stories, John Hurt always treated them with importance, dignity, and respect. A multiple Oscar-nominee and a member of the BAFTA fellowship, Hurt truly was one of the greatest British actors of all time. A cinema without his gravelly voice is too sad to think about.
RIP Sir John Hurt
By Harry J. Ford
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In just two films, Damien Chazelle has announced himself as one of the boldest, most unashamedly old-fashioned directors of his generation. After achieving Oscar-glory with Whiplash, a blistering thriller set in the unique world of jazz drumming, Chazelle is back with another love letter to jazz that’s sweeping the awards season. A full-blown musical, La La Land is an energised, entertaining homage to the history of Hollywood that’s struck a chord with audiences across the world, despite ultimately telling a rather familiar story.