Friday, October 28, 2016

The Oscar Narrative: Post Festival Predictions - Best Actor

Post Festival Predictions
Casey Affleck "Manchester By the Sea"
Robert DeNiro "The Comedian"
Andrew Garfield "Silence"
Ryan Gosling "La La Land"
Denzel Washington "Fences"

Other Contenders - Michael Keaton "The Founder", Joel Edgerton "Loving", Tom Hanks "Sully", Warren Beatty "Rules Don't Apply", Ben Affleck "Live By Night", Matthew McConaughey "Gold", Dev Patel "Lion", Brad Pitt "Allied", Chris Pratt "Passengers", Nate Parker "The Birth of a Nation", Don Cheadle "Miles Ahead", Ethan Hawke "Born to Be Blue", Colin Farrell "The Lobster", Viggo Mortensen "Captain Fantastic", Miles Teller "Bleed for This", Adam Driver "Paterson", Will Smith "Collateral Beauty", Mark Wahlberg "Patriot's Day", Mark Wahlberg "Deepwater Horizon", Logan Lerman "Indignation", Chris Pine "Hell or High Water", Shia LeBeouf "American Honey", Parker Sawyers "Southside With You", Michael Shannon "Midnight Special", Lucas Jade Zumann "20th Century Women"

Commentary - Ryan Gosling and Casey Affleck are definitely in the lead at the moment. Both of their films have premiered to rave reviews, and both films are big Best Picture contenders. It doesn't hurt that both guys are also previous nominees, with stellar careers. Beyond that I am currently pick three performances sight unseen. Denzel is, well, Denzel. He is directing himself in a role that won him a Tony Award. Never discount the power of one of our finest actors. Silence is the newest Scorsese film, and Andrew Garfield has been flirting with Oscar for years. In a weaker race, he could finally make the cut. Finally, a newcomer, The Comedian, with Taylor Hackford at the helm, puts Robert DeNiro in this race. He is the legend, and until some of the others sort themselves out, I think that his buzzed role could once again net him an Oscar nomination. Micheal Keaton has fallen out of the top five, as The Founder seems to have been lost in the mix. Good reviews will put him back in. Joel Edgerton and Tom Hanks are fantastic in their roles, but Loving seems to have slipped a bit (its theatrical release could boost it), and if Hanks couldn't get in for Captain Phillips, I'm not predicting him till we see some precursors. Coming up are folks like Warren Beatty, Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey, Brad Pitt, Chris Pratt, Will Smith and Mark Wahlberg, all in big roles that will either soar or crash. Then there are the earlier contenders hoping for a revival later in the year: Don Cheadle, Colin Farrell, Ethan Hawke, Adam Driver, Miles Teller, Viggo Mortensen, Logan Lerman, Michael Shannon, Parker Sawyers, Shia LeBeouf, and Chris Pine. In a weaker race this year, don't be surprised if an early contender gets back in the race.

Academy Announces 145 Documentary Feature Submissions

Here are the 145 films submitted for Best Documentary Feature:

“The Abolitionists”
“Abortion: Stories Women Tell”
“All Governments Lie: Truth, Deception, and the Spirit of I.F. Stone”
“Almost Holy”
“Amanda Knox”
“Among the Believers”
“Anne Frank Then and Now”
“The Anthropologist”
“Apparition Hill”
“Art Bastard”
“The Ataxian”
“Audrie & Daisy”
“Author: The JT Leroy Story”
“The Bad Kids”
“Be Here Now (The Andy Whitfield Story)”
“The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years”
“A Beautiful Planet”
“Beauty Bites Beast”
“Becoming Mike Nichols”
“Before the Flood”
“Behind Bayonets and Barbed Wire”
“Behind the Cove - The Quiet Japanese Speak Out!”
“Best and Most Beautiful Things”
“The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: A Tale of Billionaires and Ballot Bandits”
“Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened”
“A Billion Lives”
“Black Women in Medicine”
“Blood on the Mountain”
“Boy 23: The Forgotten Boys of Brazil”
“The Brainwashing of My Dad”
“Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds”
“By Sidney Lumet”
“The C Word”
“Citizen Soldier”
“City of Gold”
“Class Divide”
“Colliding Dreams”
“Command and Control”
“Danny Says”
“Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War”
“Disturbing the Peace”
“Do Not Resist”
“Don’t Blink - Robert Frank”
“The Eagle Huntress”
“Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words”
“Eating You Alive”
“Equal Means Equal”
“Eva Hesse”
“Everything Is Copy - Nora Ephron: Scripted & Unscripted”
“A Family Affair”
“Finding Babel”
“Fire at Sea”
“The First Monday in May”
“Floyd Norman: An Animated Life”
“Generation Startup”
“Gimme Danger”
“Harry & Snowman”
“Hate Rising with Jorge Ramos”
“Holy Hell”
“Hooligan Sparrow”
“How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change”
“I Am Not Your Negro”
“Indian Point”
“Into the Inferno”
“Iron Moon”
“Ivory. A Crime Story”
“The Ivory Game”
“Jim: The James Foley Story”
“Kate Plays Christine”
“Keepers of the Game”
“Landfill Harmonic”
“The Last Man on the Moon”
“Life, Animated”
“Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World”
“Look at Us Now, Mother!”
“The Lovers and the Despot”
“Making a Killing: Guns, Greed, and the NRA”
“Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures”
“Marathon: The Patriots Day Bombing”
“Marinoni: The Fire in the Frame”
“Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise”
“Mifune: The Last Samurai”
“Miss Sharon Jones!”
“The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble”
“My Love, Don’t Cross That River”
“National Bird”
“National Parks Adventure”
“Never Surrender”
“Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You”
“Notes on Blindness”
“O.J.: Made in America”
“Off the Rails”
“Older than Ireland”
“Olympic Pride, American Prejudice”
“On the Map”
“100 Years, One Woman’s Fight for Justice”
“Our Last Tango”
“Presenting Princess Shaw”
“The Red Pill”
“Rigged 2016”
“The Rolling Stones Olé Olé Olé!: A Trip across Latin America”
“Rooted in Peace”
“The Ruins of Lifta”
“The Seventh Fire”
“Shadow World”
“Silicon Cowboys”
“Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-Qiang”
“Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four”
“Starving the Beast”
“The Syndrome”
“Thank You for Your Service”
“Theo Who Lived”
“They Will Have to Kill Us First - Malian Music in Exile”
“This Is Life”
“Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru”
“The Trans List”
“Trezoros: The Lost Jews of Kastoria”
“USS Indianapolis The Legacy”
“The Uncondemned”
“Under the Gun”
“Under the Sun”
“Underfire: The Untold Story of Pfc. Tony Vaccaro”
“Unlocking the Cage”
“Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe”
“Voyage of Time: The IMAX Experience”
“We Are X”
“When Two Worlds Collide”
“The Witness”
“Zero Days”

Again visit for all of your Oscar news!

Academy Names Ten Finalists for Best Documentary Short

Here are the ten finalists for Best Documentary Short:

“Brillo Box (3¢ Off),” Brillo Box Documentary
“Close Ties,” Munk Studio - Polish Filmmakers Association
“Extremis,” f/8 Filmworks in association with Motto Pictures
“4.1 Miles,” University of California, Berkeley
“Frame 394,” Compy Films
“Joe’s Violin,” Lucky Two Productions
“The Mute’s House,” The Jerusalem Sam Spiegel Film School
“The Other Side of Home,” Feeln
“Watani: My Homeland,” ITN Productions
“The White Helmets,” Grain Media and Violet Films

As always, for more info visit:

Monday, October 24, 2016

Viola Davis Moves to Supporting Actress for Fences

The folks behind Fences sensed that the Best Actress race was getting tight, a smart look ahead for their Oscar campaign team. The role that Viola Davis is playing won her a Best Actress prize at the Tonys, but won the Featured Actress prize in previous productions. So it is perfectly on the line between lead and supporting. Well it is official that she will be campaigned as a supporting actress in the upcoming Oscar race, Denzel remaining in the relatively weak Best Actor race. This is great for several reasons. I think that it helps folks like Annette Bening in the Best Actress race, and maybe even an Amy Adams or a Jessica Chastain have a shot at finally winning an Oscar. It also launches Davis to the top of the list on the supporting side. It looks like a relatively weak race, as Michelle Williams was leading for a small (albeit great) role. This role, like Alicia Vikander's last year, that is almost lead will look monumental compared to some of the other contenders. I have adjusted the predictions in the sidebar for Actress and Supporting Actress, moving Meryl Streep in, and Octavia Spencer out (for now, I think if she's great, she can easily bump out some of the others).

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Oscar Narrative: Post Festival Predictions - Best Actress

Post Festival Predictions
Annette Bening "20th Century Women"
Viola Davis "Fences"
Ruth Negga "Loving"
Natalie Portman "Jackie"
Emma Stone "La La Land"

Other Contenders - Meryl Streep "Florence Foster Jenkins", Amy Adams "Arrival", Amy Adams "Nocturnal Animals", Jessica Chastain "Miss Sloane", Jennifer Lawrence "Passengers", Taraji P. Henson "Hidden Figures", Isabelle Huppert "Elle", Marion Cotillard "Allied", Kate Beckinsale "Love & Friendship", Sally Field "Hello, My Name is Doris", Susan Sarandon "The Meddler", Ellen DeGeneres "Finding Dory", Rebecca Hall "Christine", Rachel Weisz "Denial", Greta Gerwig "Maggie's Plan", Emily Blunt "The Girl on the Train", Hailee Steinfeld "The Edge of Seventeen", Alicia Vikander "The Light Between Oceans", Anya Taylor-Joy "The Witch", Renee Zellweger "Bridget Jones's Baby"

Commentary - 20th Century Women finally premiered at NYFF, launching Annette Bening into this race. She joins Emma Stone, who looks to be a hit once again with Oscar voters, as is La La Land as a whole. Natalie Portman is the surprise contender here, when Jackie premiered to stunning reviews. The last two slots are a bit tricky. I assume, like most folks, that Viola Davis will knock her Fences role out of the part (she has already won a Tony for it), but she is a contender sight unseen. If she does do as well as we think, this prize could come down to her and Bening, the two un-reward veterans (I would be so happy for either of them). In the final slot, I am keeping Ruth Negga for Loving. The film has slipped a bit in terms of buzz, but she is so damn good, and I think the critics will rally behind her. That leaves out Meryl Streep. Look, if Streep gets in, I won't be shocked by any means. In all honesty, I am probably a bit delusional to think she is in the sixth slot instead of in the mix. But a lot of Streep's nominations in the last decade have come because the field is relatively week. Honestly, her last two nominations for Into the Woods and August: Osage County simply were done because there weren't enough contenders, and members will filling the last slot. But Florence Foster Jenkins is in a much better position across the board than either of the other two films. But this year's Best Actress race is so packed, I wonder if Streep can once again make the cut. Want to see just how tough this category is? Previous Oscar nominees Amy Adams (for two roles), Jessica Chastain, and Taraji P. Henson are all on the outside looking in, all for buzzed films. This is also leaving out previous winners Jennifer Lawrence and Marion Cotillard, for two unknown, yet still potentially potent performances. Isabelle Huppert is getting a ton of buzz for Elle, Rachel Weisz is the best thing about Denial according to critics, Emily Blunt is the best thing about an otherwise messy The Girl on the Train, and early contenders like Greta Gerwig, Sally Field, Ellen DeGeneres, Susan Sarandon, Renee Zellweger, Kate Beckinsale and Anya Taylor-Joy are still hanging on.

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Oscar Narrative: Post Festival Predictions - Best Supporting Actor

Post Festival Predictions
Mahershala Ali "Moonlight"
Hugh Grant "Florence Foster Jenkins"
Stephen Henderson "Fences"
Liam Neeson "Silence"
Michael Shannon "Nocturnal Animals"

Other Contenders- Lucas Hedges "Manchester By the Sea", Peter Saarsgard "Jackie", Mykelti Williamson "Fences", Jeff Bridges "Hell or High Water", Craig Robinson "Morris From America", Kevin Costner "Hidden Figures", Aaron Eckhart "Sully", Aaron Eckhart "Bleed for This", Alan Rickman "Eye in the Sky", Steve Martin "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk", David Oyelowo "Queen of Katwe", Ben Foster "Hell or High Water", Ralph Fiennes "A Bigger Splash", Andre Holland "Moonlight", Trevante Holmes "Moonlight", Sunny Pawar "Lion", Edgar Ramirez "Gold", Jovan Adepo "Fences", Alden Ehrenreich "Hail, Caesar!", Max Greenfield "Hello, My Name is Doris", Simon Helberg "Florence Foster Jenkins", Armie Hammer "The Birth of a Nation", John Goodman "10 Cloverfield Lane", Idris Elba "The Jungle Book", Ben Kingsley "The Jungle Book", Bill Murray "The Jungle Book", Kyle Chandler "Manchester By the Sea", Tracey Letts "Indignation", Eddie Murphy "Mr. Church", Billy Crudup "20th Century Women"

Commentary - With the Billy Lynn guys seemingly out of the running, this has opened up this race to other contenders. Right now, I see this as a ten-guy race, with some unseen or surprises that could spoil. First, let's start with the predicted five at this moment. Hugh Grant ended this summer with a ton of Oscar buzz, and Florence Foster Jenkins seems to still be on the minds of Hollywood, and after decades in this business, his big return to the big screen could earn him his first Oscar nomination. Liam Neeson is a pick, sight unseen, but never discount a Martin Scorsese film, or its cast. Fences is coming in strong, and it is definitely going to be a favorite among the actors. All of the supporting players are apparently great, but veteran Stephen Henderson could be the standout. Nocturnal Animals hit the fall fests with great reviews, but is not necessarily up the Academy's alley. That being said, after missing out for 99 Homes last year, previous nominee Michael Shannon has had a hell of a year, and I think he will be rewarded for it. Finally, Moonlight is looking to be the best reviewed film of the year. If the critics rally behind it and keep it strong, it could do well with Oscar voters, including recent Emmy nominee Mahershala Ali, who has made headlines a lot this year, and is a star on the rise. The next five though are on the cusp. Lucas Hedges, of Moonrise Kingdom fame, is a scene-stealer in Manchester By the Sea, Peter Saarsgard has been flirting with Oscar for years, Jeff Bridges is awesome in Hell or High Water, Mykelti Williamson could join his Fences co-star, and Craig Robinson, fresh off a Gotham nomination hopes to prove he is a serious actor and Oscar contender. Beyond those ten, the race spreads thin. Kevin Costner, John Goodman, Tracey Letts, Billy Crudup, and Eddie Murphy are all well-liked veterans in baity roles. Aaron Eckhart has two big roles, Alan Rickman has posthumous support, and Kyle Chandler is one to watch for. Also look out for Steve Martin, David Oyelowo, Ben Foster, Trevante Holmes, Armie Hammer, The Jungle Book guys, Ralph Fiennes, Sunny Pawar, Simon Helberg, and Andre Holland.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

2016 Gotham Award Nominations

Best Feature
Certain Women
Everybody Wants Some!!
Manchester by the Sea

Best Documentary
I Am Not Your Negro
O.J.: Made in America

Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award
Robert Eggers for The Witch
Anna Rose Holmer for The Fits
Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert for Swiss Army Man
Trey Edward Shults for Krisha
Richard Tanne for Southside with You

Best Screenplay
Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan
Love & Friendship, Whit Stillman
Manchester by the Sea, Kenneth Lonergan
Moonlight, Story by Tarell Alvin McCraney; Screenplay by Barry Jenkins
Paterson, Jim Jarmusch

Best Actor
Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea
Jeff Bridges in Hell or High Water
Adam Driver in Paterson
Joel Edgerton in Loving
Craig Robinson in Morris from America

Best Actress
Kate Beckinsale in Love & Friendship
Annette Bening in 20th Century Women
Isabelle Huppert in Elle
Ruth Negga in Loving
Natalie Portman in Jackie

Breakthrough Actor
Lily Gladstone in Certain Women
Lucas Hedges in Manchester by the Sea
Royalty Hightower in The Fits
Sasha Lane in American Honey
Anya Taylor-Joy in The Witch

Breakthrough Series – Long Form
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
The Girlfriend Experience
Horace and Pete
Marvel’s Jessica Jones
Master of None

Breakthrough Series – Short Form
The Gay and Wondrous Life of Caleb Gallo
Her Story
The Movement
Sitting in Bathrooms with Trans People

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Oscar Narrative: Post Festival Predictions - Best Supporting Actress

Post Festival Predictions
Greta Gerwig "20th Century Women"
Naomie Harris "Moonlight"
Nicole Kidman "Lion"
Octavia Spencer "Hidden Figures"
Michelle Williams "Manchester By the Sea"

Other Contenders - Elle Fanning "20th Century Women", Janelle Monae "Hidden Figures", Sienna Miller "Live By Night", Elle Fanning "Live By Night", Margo Martindale "The Hollars", Molly Shannon "Other People", Lupita Nyong'o "Queen of Katwe", Kristen Stewart "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk", Laura Linney "Nocturnal Animals", Laura Linney "Sully", Aja Naomi King "The Birth of a Nation", Rooney Mara "Lion", Gugu Mbatha-Raw "Miss Sloane", Julianne Moore "Maggie's Plan", Helen Mirren "Eye in the Sky", Helen Mirren "Collateral Beauty", Keira Knightley "Collateral Beauty", Kate Winslet "Collateral Beauty", Kristen Stewart "Certain Women", Lily Gladstone "Certain Women", Laura Dern "Certain Women", Laura Dern "The Founder", Rose Byrne "The Meddler", Kate Hudson "Deepwater Horizon", Michelle Monaghan "Patriot's Day", Lily Collins "Rules Don't Apply", Lizzy Caplan "Allied"

Commentary - Four of my five contenders are known entities, and all are going into this race strong. Michelle Williams gets a nod every couple of years, and has been riding high on Manchester By the Sea since Sundance. In a year without a clear front runner, this Academy favorite over the last decade, could end up being the one who benefits. Nicole Kidman has a small role, but is effective in Lion. Greta Gerwig, after years of flirting with awards success, might finally find it with 20th Century Women. Naomie Harris is the dark horse to watch for, with her rave reviews from Moonlight. That leaves one slot. I was looking at Kristen Stewart, but Billy Lynn's Halftime Walk, sadly, doesn't look like it's the contender we thought it would be. Elle Fanning could join her co-star for 20th Century Women, and is earning the reviews to do it. Janelle Monae could be yet another singer that crosses over to acting with gusto (think Cher or Jennifer Hudson). Margo Martindale, Molly Shannon, Sienna Miller, Lupita Nyong'o, and Rooney Mara all have big roles. Collateral Beauty has several options, Helen Mirren and Laura Linney have a pair of films each with buzz, Certain Women has three possibilities, and never discount Rose Byrne, Laura Dern, Kate Hudson, Lily Collins, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Julianne Moore, or Lizzy Caplain. Poor Aja Naomi King should be in this race, but Nate Parker's drama looks like it is going to sink the entire film across the board. So I am playing it a bit safe with an unknown contender in the last slot. Sight unseen, I am banking on the great Octavia Spencer, already an Oscar winner, to steal more scenes in Hidden Figures, which has all the makings of an Oscar film, and earn that second nomination.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Academy Announces 85 Foreign Language Film Entries

A record 85 countries have submissions for Best Foreign Language. Here is the complete list, and as always visit for this list and all the Oscar info you need!

Albania, “Chromium,” Bujar Alimani, director;
Algeria, “The Well,” Lotfi Bouchouchi, director;
Argentina, “The Distinguished Citizen,” Mariano Cohn, Gastón Duprat, directors;
Australia, “Tanna,” Bentley Dean, Martin Butler, directors;
Austria, “Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe,” Maria Schrader, director;
Bangladesh, “The Unnamed,” Tauquir Ahmed, director;
Belgium, “The Ardennes,” Robin Pront, director;
Bolivia, “Sealed Cargo,” Julia Vargas Weise, director;
Bosnia and Herzegovina, “Death in Sarajevo,” Danis Tanovic, director;
Brazil, “Little Secret,” David Schurmann, director;
Bulgaria, “Losers,” Ivaylo Hristov, director;
Cambodia, “Before the Fall,” Ian White, director;
Canada, “It’s Only the End of the World,” Xavier Dolan, director;
Chile, “Neruda,” Pablo Larraín, director;
China, “Xuan Zang,” Huo Jianqi, director;
Colombia, “Alias Maria,” José Luis Rugeles, director;
Costa Rica, “About Us,” Hernán Jiménez, director;
Croatia, “On the Other Side,” Zrinko Ogresta, director;
Cuba, “The Companion,” Pavel Giroud, director;
Czech Republic, “Lost in Munich,” Petr Zelenka, director;
Denmark, “Land of Mine,” Martin Zandvliet, director;
Dominican Republic, “Sugar Fields,” Fernando Báez, director;
Ecuador, “Such Is Life in the Tropics,” Sebastián Cordero, director;
Egypt, “Clash,” Mohamed Diab, director;
Estonia, “Mother,” Kadri Kõusaar, director;
Finland, “The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki,” Juho Kuosmanen, director;
France, “Elle,” Paul Verhoeven, director;
Georgia, “House of Others,” Rusudan Glurjidze, director;
Germany, “Toni Erdmann,” Maren Ade, director;
Greece, “Chevalier,” Athina Rachel Tsangari, director;
Hong Kong, “Port of Call,” Philip Yung, director;
Hungary, “Kills on Wheels,” Attila Till, director;
Iceland, “Sparrows,” Rúnar Rúnarsson, director;
India, “Interrogation,” Vetri Maaran, director;
Indonesia, “Letters from Prague,” Angga Dwimas Sasongko, director;
Iran, “The Salesman,” Asghar Farhadi, director;
Iraq, “El Clásico,” Halkawt Mustafa, director;
Israel, “Sand Storm,” Elite Zexer, director;
Italy, “Fire at Sea,” Gianfranco Rosi, director;
Japan, “Nagasaki: Memories of My Son,” Yoji Yamada, director;
Jordan, “3000 Nights,” Mai Masri, director;
Kazakhstan, “Amanat,” Satybaldy Narymbetov, director;
Kosovo, “Home Sweet Home,” Faton Bajraktari, director;
Kyrgyzstan, “A Father’s Will,” Bakyt Mukul, Dastan Zhapar Uulu, directors;
Latvia, “Dawn,” Laila Pakalnina, director;
Lebanon, “Very Big Shot,” Mir-Jean Bou Chaaya, director;
Lithuania, “Seneca’s Day,” Kristijonas Vildziunas, director;
Luxembourg, “Voices from Chernobyl,” Pol Cruchten, director;
Macedonia, “The Liberation of Skopje,” Rade Šerbedžija, Danilo Šerbedžija, directors;
Malaysia, “Beautiful Pain,” Tunku Mona Riza, director;
Mexico, “Desierto,” Jonás Cuarón, director;
Montenegro, “The Black Pin,” Ivan Marinović, director;
Morocco, “A Mile in My Shoes,” Said Khallaf, director;
Nepal, “The Black Hen,” Min Bahadur Bham, director;
Netherlands, “Tonio,” Paula van der Oest, director;
New Zealand, “A Flickering Truth,” Pietra Brettkelly, director;
Norway, “The King’s Choice,” Erik Poppe, director;
Pakistan, “Mah-e-Mir,” Anjum Shahzad, director;
Palestine, “The Idol,” Hany Abu-Assad, director;
Panama, “Salsipuedes,” Ricardo Aguilar Navarro, Manolito Rodríguez, directors;
Peru, “Videophilia (and Other Viral Syndromes),” Juan Daniel F. Molero, director;
Philippines, “Ma’ Rosa,” Brillante Ma Mendoza, director;
Poland, “Afterimage,” Andrzej Wajda, director;
Portugal, “Letters from War,” Ivo M. Ferreira, director;
Romania, “Sieranevada,” Cristi Puiu, director;
Russia, “Paradise,” Andrei Konchalovsky, director;
Saudi Arabia, “Barakah Meets Barakah,” Mahmoud Sabbagh, director;
Serbia, “Train Driver’s Diary,” Milos Radovic, director;
Singapore, “Apprentice,” Boo Junfeng, director;
Slovakia, “Eva Nová,” Marko Skop, director;
Slovenia, “Houston, We Have a Problem!” Žiga Virc, director;
South Africa, “Call Me Thief,” Daryne Joshua, director;
South Korea, “The Age of Shadows,” Kim Jee-woon, director;
Spain, “Julieta,” Pedro Almodóvar, director;
Sweden, “A Man Called Ove,” Hannes Holm, director;
Switzerland, “My Life as a Zucchini,” Claude Barras, director;
Taiwan, “Hang in There, Kids!” Laha Mebow, director;
Thailand, “Karma,” Kanittha Kwunyoo, director;
Turkey, “Cold of Kalandar,” Mustafa Kara, director;
Ukraine, “Ukrainian Sheriffs,” Roman Bondarchuk, director;
United Kingdom, “Under the Shadow,” Babak Anvari, director;
Uruguay, “Breadcrumbs,” Manane Rodríguez, director;
Venezuela, “From Afar,” Lorenzo Vigas, director;
Vietnam, “Yellow Flowers on the Green Grass,” Victor Vu, director;
Yemen, “I Am Nojoom, Age 10 and Divorced,” Khadija Al-Salami, director.

Critics Choice Documentary Award Nominations

The Critics Choice Awards, aka the BTJA and BFCA have tried to retool how they do things, and as a part of it, they have launched a new separate Documentary Awards. The winners will be announced on November 3rd.

Best Documentary Feature
30 For 30: O.J.: Made in America
Fire at Sea
Life, Animated
The Witness

Best Direction of a Documentary Feature
Ezra Edelman – 30 For 30: O.J.: Made in America
Ron Howard – The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years
Kirsten Johnson – Cameraperson
Keith Maitland – Tower
Clay Tweel – Gleason
Roger Ross Williams – Life, Animated

Best First Documentary Feature
Otto Bell – The Eagle Huntress (Sony Pictures Classics/Kissaki Films/Stacey Reiss Productions)
David Farrier and Dylan Reeve – Tickled (Magnolia/A Ticklish Tale/Fumes Production/Horseshoe Films)
Adam Irving – Off the Rails (The Film Collaborative/Zipper Bros Films)
Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg – Weiner (Sundance Selects/Motto Pictures/Edgeline Films)
James D. Solomon – The Witness (FilmRise/Five More Minutes Productions)
Nanfu Wang – Hooligan Sparrow (The Film Collaborative/Little Horse Crossing the River)

Best Political Documentary
30 For 30: O.J.: Made in America
Audrie & Daisy
Zero Days

Best Documentary Feature (TV/Streaming)
30 For 30: Fantastic Lies
Amanda Knox
Audrie & Daisy
Before the Flood
Holy Hell
Into the Inferno
Jim: The James Foley Story
Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures

Best Director (TV/Streaming)
Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato – Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures
Rod Blackhurst and Brian McGinn – Amanda Knox
Ava DuVernay – 13th
Werner Herzog – Into the Inferno
Morgan Spurlock – Rats
Fisher Stevens – Before the Flood

Best First Feature (TV/Streaming)
Everything is Copy – Jacob Bernstein and Nick Hooker
Holy Hell – Will Allen
Mavis! – Jessica Edwards
My Beautiful Broken Brain – Sophie Robinson and Lotje Sodderland
Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four – Deborah Esquenazi
Team Foxcatcher – Jon Greenhalgh

Best Limited Documentary Series
30 For 30: O.J.: Made in America
The Circus: Inside the Greatest Political Show on Earth
The Eighties
The Hunt
Jackie Robinson
Soundbreaking: Stories From the Cutting Edge of Recorded Music

Best Ongoing Documentary Series
30 for 30
Last Chance U
Morgan Spurlock Inside Man
This Is Life with Lisa Ling

Best Song in a Documentary 
“Angel by the Wings” – The Eagle Huntress – Written by Sia – Performed by Sia
“The Empty Chair” – Jim: The James Foley Story – Written by Sting and J. Ralph – Performed by Sting
“Flicker” – Audrie & Daisy – Written by Tori Amos – Performed by Tori Amos
“Hoping and Healing” – Gleason – Written by Mike McCready – Performed by Mike McCready
“I’m Still Here” – Miss Sharon Jones! – Written by Sharon Jones – Performed by Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
“Letters to the Free” – 13th– Written by Common, Karriem Riggins and Robert Glasper – Performed by Common featuring Bilal

Best Sports Documentary
30 For 30: Fantastic Lies
30 For 30: O.J.: Made in America
Dark Horse
The Eagle Huntress
Jackie Robinson
Keepers of the Game

Best Music Documentary
The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years
Gimme Danger
Miss Sharon Jones!
The Music of Strangers
Presenting Princess Shaw
We Are X

Most Innovative Documentary
Kate Plays Christine
Life, Animated
Under The Sun

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Oscar Narrative: Post Festival Predictions - Best Animated Feature

Post Festival Predictions
Finding Dory
Kubo and the Two Strings
Miss Hokusai

Other Contenders - The Red Turtle, Sausage Party, April and the Extraordinary World, Sing, Trolls, The Little Prince, The Secret Life of Pets, Kung Fu Panda 3, The Angry Birds Movie, My Life as a Zucchini, Storks, Phantom Boy, The Girl Without Hands, Ice Age: Collision Course

Commentary - This race looks tough this year, so tough that once again Pixar is not a lock. Finding Dory did great business, but we have seen so many Pixar films with more mixed reviews miss the cut lately, and with the Animation Branch seemingly getting bolder year after year with their choices, Pixar has to knock it out of the park (like Inside Out) to really lock in a nomination or end up like The Good Dinosaur, Cars 2, and Monsters University. That being said, I still have it in. I also have Moana in sight unseen. Two earlier contenders, Zootopia and Kubo and the Two Strings were huge hits with the critics, and I think both will be big players in this race. Finally, GKids always gets in, so Miss Hokusai is filling in their guaranteed slot. But GKids has actually taken more than one slot, or at least a more independent or foreign entry seems to always big out a bigger film. So watch out for The Red Turtle, April and the Extraordinary World, My Life as a Zucchini, Phantom Boy, The Little Prince, or The Girl Without Hands to crash the party. After Anomalisa made it in, that paves the way for more adult fare like Sausage Party, and some of the lesser "big" animated films like The Angry Birds Movie, Ice Age, Storks, Kung Fu Panda 3, and The Secret Life of Pets cannot be written off so easily. Finally, Sing has good initial reviews and Trolls looks adorable. Both are big dark horses in what looks to be a competitive race.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Ava DuVernay's 13th Opens NYFF and Enters Oscar Race

The documentary feature race is becoming a bit muddled, with television and streaming programs managing to be eligible for both, and due to the sheer volume of quality work. But with the Oscar race just underway with the onslaught of the fall festivals, the Documentary Feature race has suddenly been thrust into the spotlight with the premiere of Ava Duvernay's "13th" that opened up the New York Film Festival last night. After Selma managed to be essentially snubbed by Oscar voters a few years ago, Ava DuVernay is starting much earlier this year, with a new film that is being hailed as one of the best, and most relevant films of the year, and has rocketed to the top of the Documentary Feature race. It's timely look at mass incarceration, racial disparities, and violence against the black community will resonate with Oscar voters, as it has with the American populace.

The Oscar Narrative: Post Festival Predictions - Technical Categories

Best Cinematography
John Toll "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk"
Linus Sandgren "La La Land"
Robert Richardson "Live By Night"
Rodrigo Prieto "Passengers"
Rodrigo Prieto "Silence"

Other Contenders - Elliot Davis "The Birth of a Nation", Bill Pope "The Jungle Book", Bradford Young "Arrival", Roger Deakins "Hail, Caesar!", Greig Fraser "Lion", Greig Fraser "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story", Don Burgess "Allied", Caleb Deschanel "Rules Don't Apply", Seamus McGarvey "Noctural Animals", Charlotte Bruus Christiansen "The Girl on the Train", Charlotte Bruus Christiansen "Fences", Janusz Kaminski "The BFG", Oscar Faura "A Monster Calls", Maryse Alberti "Collateral Beauty", Philippe Rousselot "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them", Simon Duggan "Hacksaw Ridge", Bruno Delbonnel "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children", Danny Cohen "Florence Foster Jenkins", Robert Elswit "Gold", Jarin Blaschke 'The Witch", Vittorio Storaro "Cafe Society"

Best Costume Design
La La Land
Live By Night
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Other Contenders - Rules Don't Apply, Hail Caesar!, Hidden Figures, Florence Foster Jenkins, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Nocturnal Animals, Allied, Love & Friendship, A Bigger Splash, Jackie, Cafe Society, Loving, The Light Between Oceans, Doctor Strange, Deadpool, The BFG, The Hunstman: Winter's War, Alice Through the Looking Glass, The Birth of a Nation, 20th Century Women, The Witch, Hell or High Water, The Lost City of Z, The Handmaiden, The Nice Guys, The Legend of Tarzan, The Founder, Suicide Squad, Passengers, Zoolander 2

Best Film Editing
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
La La Land
Live By Night

Other Contenders - Passengers, Arrival, Jackie, Moonlight, Manchester By the Sea, Lion, Hidden Figures, Loving, Lion, Sully, Allied, 20th Century Women, The Girl on the Train, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, The Jungle Book, Hacksaw Ridge, The BFG, Noctural Animals, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Florence Foster Jenkins, Miss Sloane, Nocturnal Animals, Collateral Beauty, The Founder, Hell or High Water, Rules Don't Apply, The Lobster, The Light Between Oceans, Bleed for This, Captain America: Civil War, Doctor Strange, Deepwater Horizon

Best Makeup and Hair Styling 
Florence Foster Jenkins
Star Trek Beyond

Other Contenders - Fences, Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Loving, Jackie, The Jungle Book, Deadpool, Gold, Suicide Squad, Captain America: Civil War, Hacksaw Ridge, Live By Night, Rules Don't Apply, The Birth of a Nation, Gold, Hail Caesar!, Hidden Figures, The BFG, Love & Friendship, The Light Between Oceans, Bleed for This, 20th Century Women, The Witch, The Lost City of Z, Alice Through the Looking Glass, Hell or High Water, Deepwater Horizon, The Huntsman: Winter's War, Assassin's Creed

Best Original Score
Mychael Danna and Jeff Danna "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk"
Alexandre Desplat "Florence Foster Jenkins"
John Williams "The BFG"
Opetaia Foa'i, Mark Mancina, and Lin-Manuel Miranda "Moana"
Michael Giacchino "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story"

Other Contenders - Pharrell Williams and Hans Zimmer "Hidden Figures", Thomas Newman "Passengers", Johann Johannson "Arrival", James Newton Howard "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them", Justin Hurwitz "La La Land", Harry Gregson-Williams "Live By Night", Alexandre Desplat "The Light Between Oceans", Thomas Newman "Finding Dory", Carter Burwell "The Founder", Danny Elfman "The Girl on the Train", Mica Levi "Jackie", Henry Jackman "The Birth of a Nation", Abel Korzeniowski "Noctural Animals", Michael Giacchino "Zootopia", Howard Shore "Denial", John Debney "The Jungle Book", Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross "Patriot's Day", Volker Bertelmann and Dustin O'Halloran "Lion"

Best Original Song

Best Production Design
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
La La Land
Live By Night
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Other Contenders - The Birth of a Nation, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, Rules Don't Apply, Love & Friendship, Florence Foster Jenkins, Arrival, Fences, Passengers, Allied, Doctor Strange, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Hail Caesar, Cafe Society, The Witch, Gold, The BFG, The Founder, The Dressmaker, The Light Between Oceans, Alice Through the Looking Glass, Hidden Figures, The Nice Guys, 20th Century Women, The Huntsman: Winter's War, Suicide Squad

Best Sound Editing
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Other Contenders - The Jungle Book, Sully, Live By Night, Deepwater Horizon, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Jason Bourne, The Birth of a Nation, Allied, Doctor Strange, Finding Dory, Moana, Kubo and the Two Strings, Zootopia, Captain America: Civil War, La La Land, The Girl on the Train, Rules Don't Apply, The BFG, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Hell or High Water, Collateral Beauty, Hacksaw Ridge, Star Trek Beyond, Sing Street, Florence Foster Jenkins, Ghostbusters, Suicide Squad

Best Sound Mixing
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
La La Land
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Other Contenders - Florence Foster Jenkins, The Jungle Book, Sully, Live By Night, Deepwater Horizon, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Jason Bourne, The Birth of a Nation, Allied, Doctor Strange, Finding Dory, Moana, Kubo and the Two Strings, Zootopia, Captain America: Civil War, The Girl on the Train, Rules Don't Apply, The BFG, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Hell or High Water, Collateral Beauty, Hacksaw Ridge, Star Trek Beyond, Sing Street, Ghostbusters, Suicide Squad

Best Visual Effects
Doctor Strange
The Jungle Book
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
X-Men: Apocalypse

Other Contenders - Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, The BFG, Captain America: Civil War, Arrival Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, Alice Through the Looking Glass, Suicide Squad, The Huntsman: Winter's War, Star Trek Beyond, The BFG, Midnight Special, Deadpool, A Monster Calls, Voyage of Time: Life's Journey, Ghostbusters, Pete's Dragon, The Legend of Tarzan, Deepwater Horizon