Award Shows

Why We Should Care About Award Shows

It’s 3pm on February 22nd and if you are a movie fan then you will know that we are only hours away from the Oscars commencing; the crown jewel, climax or mother of all award shows.

If you are not such a movie lover and even if you are these days, it’s easy to feel fatigued from the never ending news cycles of Who is wearing what, Who will be presenting and what is in this years swag bag. However by the time it gets to the end of February, most people are wondering why they should even care anymore especially when you realize that this year’s cycle of film festivals and early predictions of next year’s Oscar winners is already underway with the first of the larger film festivals Sundance already over by the beginning of February.

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Award shows are important though, not only because they support a huge number of jobs in a variety of industries but also because they have a direct impact on the films you will want to watch. There is a reason why the nominations occur in mid January a full almost six weeks prior to the ceremony. Often this gives movies released earlier in the year a second wind and allow those that only had smaller openings to go mainstream once they receive a nomination ala whiplash or The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Before starting Moviewallas, we often used to find ourselves waiting for the nominations so that we could check off any of the movies that we hadn’t seen that were deemed to be noteworthy by those who knew. We too found ourselves in a long line unlike anything I had ever seen in 2009 waiting to get into Slumdog Millionaire, a film I hadn’t even heard of up until the day of the nominations. 

In subsequent years since having had the privilege of doing Moviewallas, we love the fact that films that we have only been fortunate enough to watch through a film festival or a screener catch fire and gain momentum and become available for everyone to watch. The most frustrating thing as movie reviewer is that often films we love and get to watch don’t either get distribution or get such a small release and only in major cities.

There is a notion that over the last few years there has been a proliferation of award shows and well, that there are just too many these days. Is it so wrong though for each association such as The Director’s Guild, The Hollywood Foreign Press, The Producers Guild and many others to celebrate and reward/award good work and recognize their own?

One could say that that ultimately award shows are just for entertainment and that’s ok in my book too. Ultimately whether you enjoy a movie more or less because it was nominated is not important, long after the award season is over you wont even remember whether those movies that had a lasting impact on you were nominated or not. What does matter though is that good movies (studio or independent) keep getting made, that we find out what they are and we have a means to watch them and if award shows help, I say the more the merrier. Now who do you think will win Best Picture this year?

Episode 262 – The Oscars Podcast

Better late than never. Join us as we discuss and react to the 2015 Oscar Nominations, including our picks for who will win tomorrow.

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Rangl with us!  We have teamed up with the wonderful folks over at Rangl.com so that we can give you the chance to weigh in our some of our disagreements.

The 2013 Moviewallas Awards

Ok, so it’s the Academy Awards tonight but we don’t care about that at Moviewallas.com.  No.  We have our own awards and we call them the ‘Muggies’ because the winners receive a highly prized Moviewallas.com mug*. The Moviewallas mug awards are not our attempt at predicting the Oscars – they are simply a representation of the movies that spoke to us.  Since the three of us have very different tastes (and often disagree) our individual picks from 2013 can be downloaded  below.

The Moviewallas 2013 Award WinnersMoviewallas Mug

The following earn the coveted Moviewallas Mug Award!

Best Film: 12 Years a Slave

Best Director: Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave)

Best Actor (Male): Robert Redford (All is Lost)

Best Actor (Female): Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)

Best Supporting (Male): Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)

Best Supporting (Female):  Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)

Best Cinematography:  Gravity

Best Documentary: Blackfish

Congratulations to the producers, cast and crew of 12 Years a Slave for picking up 3 Muggies!  And also to Michael Fassbender for his second Moviewallas Mug Award, having previously won Best Supporting Actor in 2012 for his performance in Prometheus.

 

Want to see who you agree with most?  Was it Rashmi, Yazdi or Joe?  You can view our individual scores here:  DOWNLOAD (PDF)

*If you are an award winner or producer contact mail@moviewallas.com to claim your mug! 

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year; Oscar Nominated Shorts | Review

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.  No, I’m not talking about the holidays, I’m talking about the yearly ritual that us film lovers and movie geeks get to indulge in which requires taking a trip to watch the highly coveted series of Oscar Nominated Shorts at the local cinema.

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Oh I how I look forward to this annual treat where I go with my fellow Moviewallas and get to spend a delightful afternoon watching ten of the best shorts Animation and Live action Features; two separate programs with a short break in between.  This year a special pleasure for me, I got to watch five incredible documentaries too.

This collection of shorts representing filmmaking in 2013 is no different to any other year in that the Oscar nominated shorts is an opportunity to watch bite size nuggets of incredible film making from a variety of talented filmmakers from around the world.  Only I am shocked that year upon year the standard gets better and better.

In the live action category:

“Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me)” (Director: Esteban Crespo, Spain/Spanish). Synopsis: Paula, a Spanish aid worker, has an encounter with an African child soldier named Kaney.

“Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just before Losing Everything) (Directors: Xavier Legrand and Alexandre Gavras, France/French). Synopsis: Miriam has left her abusive husband and taken refuge with her children in the local supermarket where she works.

Helium” (Directors Anders Walter and Kim Magnusson, Denmark/Danish). Synopsis: A dying boy finds comfort in the tales of a magical land called HELIUM, told to him by the hospital janitor.

“Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?)” (Directors: Selma Vilhunen and Kirsikka Saari, Finland/Finnish). Synopsis: Sini tries frantically to get her family ready to leave for a wedding, but her husband and two children are interfering with her efforts.

“The Voorman Problem” (Directors: Mark Gill and Baldwin Li, UK/English). Synopsis: A psychiatrist is called to a prison to examine an inmate named Voorman, who is convinced he is a god.

This a rare occaision when I am glad I don’t have to vote for a winner since If I had to pick one, I couldn’t.  I was fascinated by That Wasn’t Me, sat on the edge of my seat as the riveting drama of Just Before Losing Everything played, laughed at Do I Have to Take care of Everything, pondered existential questions whilst watching The Voorman Problem and even shed a tear or two during Helium

 I could have spent way more time with any one of these five movies given the deep well rounded characters and back stories each presented that merit full movies of their own.

For the Animated shorts, this season brings us:

“Feral” (Directors Daniel Sousa and Dan Golden, USA/Non-dialogue). Synopsis: A wild boy who has grown up in the woods is found by a hunter and returned to civilization.

“Get a Horse!” (Directors: Lauren MacMullan and Dorothy McKim, USA/English). Synopsis: Mickey Mouse and his friends are enjoying a wagon ride until Peg-Leg Pete shows up with plans to ruin their day.

“Mr. Hublot” (Directors: Laurent Witz and Alexandre Espigares, Luxembourg/France/Non-dialogue). Synopsis: The eccentric, isolated Mr. Hublot finds his carefully ordered world disrupted by the arrival of Robot Pet.

“Possessions” (Director: Shuhei Morita, Japan/Non-dialogue).  Synopsis: A man seeking shelter from a storm in a dilapidated shrine encounters a series of household objects inhabited  by goblin spirits

“Room on the Broom” (Directors: Max Lang and Jan Lachauer, voices by Simon Pegg, Gillian Anderson, Rob Brydon in UK/English). Synopsis: A genial witch and her cat are joined on their broom by several friends as they set off on an adventure

The animation shorts for me represent a vast array of style, story and genre even.  Whilst watching we are reminded by those super smart and talented people at Disney that there is always room in your heart to let in a fresh Mickey Mouse Adventure. In Get a Horse, Mickey and his pals return in this old/new caper.  This time however our eyes get to feast on incredible technology that combines black and white with color and 2D with 3D type animation.  Room on a Broom is a sweet modern day fable told in verse that had me smiling from ear to ear; a special treat for animal lovers.  Atypical subject matter for a traditional cartoon, in Feral and Possessions which to me represent more adult type themes and style and finally a cute futuristic tale called Mr Hublot  which at it’s core is represents a beautiful tale of a man who rescues a dog but realizes in the end that it is he who has been rescued.

Again, a wonderful gaggle of talent collected under the umbrella of animation and if you weren’t  lucky enough to catch The Blue Umbrella when it played as an appetizer to last year’s Disney/Pixar’s Monster’s University, it plays in the  “highly commended section” in this program.  Despite the number of times I see The Blue Umbrella, I can’t help but marvel at the human like emotion that is generously created by Pixar and I always have a lump in my throat when the credits run.

 

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I love the action shorts and the animations, but I am a documentary lover at heart and so the documentary shorts were an absolute treat for me to watch.  This year’s entries:

“The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life” (Directors: Malcolm Clarke and Nicholas Reed, Canada/USA/UK – English). Synopsis: At 109, Alice Herz Sommer is the world’s oldest pianist…and its oldest Holocaust survivor. At the heart of her remarkable story of courage and endurance is her passion for music.

“Karama Has No Walls” (Director: Sara Ishaq, UAE/UK/Yemen – Arabic). Synopsis: When protesters in Yemen added their voices to those of other nations during the Arab Spring, the government responded with an attack that left 53 people dead and inspired widespread sympathy throughout the country.

“Facing Fear” (Director: Jason Cohen, USA/English). Synopsis: As a gay 13-year-old, Matthew Boger endured a savage beating at the hands of a group of neo-Nazis. Twenty-five years later, he meets one of them again by chance.

“Cavedigger” (Director Jeffrey Karoff, USA/English). Synopsis: New Mexico environmental sculptor Ra Paulette carves elaborately designed and painstakingly executed sandstone caves, driven by an artistic vision that often brings him into conflict with his patrons.

 “Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall” (Director: Edgar Barens, USA/English). Synopsis: In a maximum security prison, the terminally ill Jack Hall faces his final days with the assistance of hospice care provided by workers drawn from the prison population.

By far, the most difficult category to judge, I was incredibly moved and inspired by The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life.  Angered by an astonishing tale of the human spirit and the importance of revolution in Yemen’s account of the Arab Summer in Karama has no Walls, challenged and troubled by both Facing Fear and Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall which made me question my own prejudices and preconceived ideas and intrigued by the account of the environmental sculptor Ra Paulette and his cave digging antics in the aptly titled Cavedigger

So there you have it.  If you have never seen an Oscar short program, I strongly urge you to rush out and watch and if you love movies and have seen a Short program, I urge you to rush out and see this year’s nominees, given the standard is exceptional, in either case, you will not be disappointed, I certainly wasn’t and look forward to next year’s most wonderful time of the year again with baited breath

The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2014 open nationwide this Friday, January 31st

In San Diego, the Live Action and Animated programs will open at the Landmark Ken, In Los Angeles the Live Action and Animated programs will open at The Nuart in West L.A. and in Orange County at the Regency South Coast Village 3.

Please see local listings or the link below to find a cinema near you

http://shorts.tv/theoscarshorts/dates-locations/

Sightseers I Review

Being a child of the Eighties, any film that opens with the classic Soft Cell song “Tainted Love” is one to get my attention immediately and I’m happy to say that this movie not only got my attention but managed to keep it throughout the entire duration.

 Sightseers tells the story of Chris (Steve Oram) who wants to show Tina (Alice Lowe) his world and he wants to do it his way – on a journey through the British Isles in his beloved Abbey Oxford Caravan. Tina’s led a sheltered life and there are things that Chris needs her to see – the Crich Tramway Museum, the Ribblehead Viaduct, the Keswick Pencil Museum and the rolling countryside that separates these wonders in his life. But it doesn’t take long for the dream to fade. Litterbugs, noisy teenagers and pre-booked caravan sites, not to mention Tina’s meddling mother, soon conspire to shatter Chris’s dreams and send him, and anyone who rubs him the wrong way

over a very jagged edge.

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This is a strange and rather unexpected English movie that goes to a place that you just don’t expect it to by turning the seemingly quiet and sometimes rather boring countryside on its head.  Competently directed by Ben Wheatley (Down Terrace, Kill List), this is sweet, horrific and enjoyable all at the same time and that’s not an easy feat to pull off in my mind.  This movie will have you laughing and grimacing within seconds of each other and if you are a fan of Nick Frost and Simon Pegg movies, this will definitely appeal to you.

As all good movies teach us, it is often not the subject matter itself but the relationship between those involved that pulls us in and keeps us throughout the journey, Sightseers showcases two delightful actors Alice Lowe and Steve Oram who play the central characters of Tina and Chris.  Both at times are sweet and endearing and you can’t help but like them and their ever stranger behavior as the movie progresses.  The chemistry between the two is a joy to watch and it feels like the characters have been fully developed and realized

Anyone who is English or an Englishphile will really enjoy this movie and even if you are not, you will enjoy the great 80s score (even though it’s not set in that time).   A modern day English country side Bonny and Clyde Horror love story (well sort of)

http://blog.sightseersmovie.com/

Sightseers opens on  Friday, May 10, 2013 at Landmark’s Sunshine Cinema in New York and at Landmark’s Nuart Theatre in West L.A.  Check local Listing for screen times in other cities

 

 **OFFICIAL SELECTION – Directors’ Fortnight: CANNES FILM FESTIVAL 2012**

**OFFICIAL SELECTION: SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2013**

**OFFICIAL SELECTION: TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2012**

** LONDON CRITICS CIRCLE FILM AWARDS 2013 (WON- BREAKTHROUGH BRITISH FILMMAKER) **

 **EVENING STANDARD BRITISH FILM AWARDS 2013 (WON- PETER SELLERS AWARD FOR COMEDY)**

  **BRITISH INDEPENDENT FILM AWARDS 2012 (WON- BEST SCREENPLAY)**

  **MAR DEL PLATA FILM FESTIVAL 2012 (WON- BEST SCREENPLAY) **

 **STIGES- CATALONIAN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2012

 (WON- BEST ACTRESS, BEST SCREENPLAY)**

Episode 175 – The 2013 Oscars Reaction Show

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  Well it is for movie fans because the official Oscar Nominations are out and you’ve got a few weeks to catch them before the Academy Awards on 24 February 2013.  Find out what we thought of the nominations in this week’s show!

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Visit www.moviewallas.com for reviews, articles, film festival coverage and more!

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The 2012 Moviewallas Awards

Moviewallas Award Mug!

The time has finally come for Moviewallas to vote on our favorite films of 2012.  We argued, arm-wrestled, debated, pondered and discussed and when we could not agree, instead of sulking or sitting on each other until “mercy!” was called, we decided to vote as they do at the Oscars – We made our own lists and then assigned winners using a complicated scoring system.  The results are below along with each of our own top fives.  Let us know what you think and who you agree with most.

The Moviewallas 2012 Award Winners

 The following earn the coveted Moviewallas Mug Award!*

Best Film: Life of Pi
Best Director: Ang Lee (Life of Pi)
Best Actor (Male): John Hawkes (The Sessions)
Best Actor (Female): Helen Hunt (The Sessions)
Best Supporting (Male): Michael Fassbender (Prometheus)
Best Support (Female): Anne Hathaway (The Dark Knight Rises)
Best Cinematography: Life of Pi
Best Documentary:  Queen of Versailles

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Want to see who you agree with most?  Was it Rashmi, Yazdi or Joe?  You can view our individual scores here:  DOWNLOAD (PDF)

*If you are an award winner or producer contact mail@moviewallas.com to claim your mug! 🙂

 

Kumare – a Film by Vikram Gandhi | Review

One could be forgiven for thinking that you are watching yet another Sacha Baron Cohen stunt on celluloid but, dare I say it, this is much better.  As part of a social experiment, filmmaker Vikram Gandhi dons an orange robe, grows a beard, and transforms himself from a Jersey boy into a wise Indian guru by the name of Kumare.  As Kumare, he then sets out to convince and indoctrinate a group of followers in the west that he is the real deal.  The aim? To challenge one of the most widely accepted taboos: that only a tiny “1%” can connect the rest of the world to a higher power. Concealing his true identity from everyone he meets, Kumare forges profound and spiritual connections with people from all walks of life.  At the same time, in the absurdity of living as an entirely different person, Vikram is forced to confront difficult questions about his own identity.

Gandhi manages to create an engaging documentary that holds a mirror up to his own questions about religion and beliefs and shines the reflection on the unenlightened.  This starts off comical and cliché making us laugh at the directionless new agers but quickly transforms into something deeper as he takes us on a journey of transformation, his own, the people he touches and us the audience.

The story unfolds admirably rather like the message Kumare the great guru is developing as he goes along and has you sweating towards the end when at the height of his popularity he contemplates revealing his true identity to a core group of disciples who are knee-deep in personal transformation. Will they accept his final teaching? Will he be able to prove that no one really needs anyone else to make them feel better about themselves?

Kumare delivers on all counts.  It is educational, informative, funny and entertaining.

Kumare” opens in Los Angeles at The Cinefamily on Friday, July 26th and will have a full week run from August 3rd through August 9th.  In addition, it was voted the AUDIENCE AWARD WINNER – Documentary Feature: SXSW FILM FESTIVAL 2011

Patang (The Kite) – A Film by Prashant Bhargarva | Review

Prashant Bhargava is clearly a talented director and writer to be able to bring together both actors and non-actors in this mockumentary style movie which very cleverly blends old Indian outlooks with a fresh non Bollywood storyline

Like its namesake, the movie is light at heart and mostly about the thrill and joy of flying kites during India’s largest kite festival where every year a million kites fill the skies above Ahmedabad-dueling, soaring, tumbling and flying high.  Look a little further however and it makes you realize that this is not only a brilliant narrative about general attitudes in India but also about families, relationships and what we hold important in our lives.  My heart soared during the highs and beat with anxiety during the lows when much tension is created through great direction, good storytelling and a moving and powerful score

PATANG weaves together the stories of six people transformed by the energy of the festival but centers mainly around a successful Delhi businessman (Jayesh) who takes his daughter (Priya) on a surprise trip back to his childhood home for the festival.  Despite the fact that he is an expert kite flyer, he does not count on his visit causing the entire family to confront its own fractured past and fragile dreams.  Jayesh and Priya are definitely “city mice” who discover the pleasures and difficulties faced by their “country mice” family.  Indeed Priya quickly learns that a mild flirtation can quickly lead to something undesirable when she spots an expert kite flyer in a young local hero called Bobby

Clearly one of the stars of this film is the amazing child star who is as adorable and captivating to watch as the children in “Slumdog Millionaire”.  It is hard to believe then that this and the other children in the film are untrained actors who are improvising.  It is very easy to watch the beautiful relationship between a young boy Hamid and his older man- friend Chakku a loser who seems to be unable to relate to anyone else especially his adorable and god fearing mother Sudha who only sees the good in every situation

It is difficult to think that a film about kites can really be this exciting and enthralling to watch.  Stick with the sometimes difficult to watch patchwork quilt of the storyline and I promise you will not be disappointed.

PATANG (THE KITE) will open Los Angeles exclusively at the Laemmle Music Hall in Beverly Hills on July 20, 2012

In New York, PATANG THE KITE garnered a NY Times Critic Pick and is still playing in New York and Chicago – held over for another week.

The film will continue opening in approximately 18 cities across the US and Canada this summer.

Fancy One of These Wagers for the Academy Awards?

Not to be outdone by the categories of awards themselves, a betting company in the UK is creating their own inventive assembliges to incentivize anyone who wishes to gamble this year.  At Bodog.com (supposedly the world’s largest betting brand) instead of voting for the usual “Best Film”, “Best Director”, “Actor” or “Actress”, one can place a wager on the following:

  • How many of the big 3 award winners (Director, Actor, Actress) will visibly cry when receiving their award?
    • None: 4/7
    • 1: 3/2
    • 2: 5/1
    • All 3: 20/1
  • Oscars Specials – How many times will the word Thanks or Thank You be used in the acceptance speech of the Big 3 Awards (Director, Actor, Actress)?
    • Over/Under 20: 10/11
  • What will be the Predominant Color of Natalie Portman’s Dress at the Awards Ceremony?
    • Black 3/1
    • White 3/1
    • Blue 4/1
    • Cream/Beige 9/2
    • Pink 9/2
    • Red 5/1
  • Will Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds attend the Oscars together? Yes 6/1
  • Will any Oscar recipients fall on their way to the stage? Yes 15/1
  • Will Geoffrey Rush be wearing a hat? Yes 6/4

Dice

Now you may be asking yourself “why”? Well, apparently there is a feeling that the Oscars look even more predictable than normal this year (Colin Firth is 1/50 to win Best Actor!) so the categories were put togteher to help the long evening be a little more entertaining.  Perhaps our own moviewalla listeners could come up with a few inventive categories of our own???