2/22/2019

Oscar Predictions: Final Round - Will Win/Should Win

A Star is Born Oscars
Clockwise from top left: Roma, BlacKkKlansman, Black Panther, A Star is Born, The Favourite, Green Book
Another year, another utterly toxic Oscar season in the can. I don't know if this year was as brutal as the last one, but jeez - don’t you remember when the Oscars were fun? Don’t you remember when you could champion a movie because you loved it, because it moved you, or because it wowed you unlike anything you’d seen before? I mean, could you even imagine Titanic winning Best Picture in 2018? If The Boy Who Cried Woke thinks its classist to say “You’ve gotta see Roma in a theatre!” then Titanic would have gotten killed because Rose, the rich girl, survived the shipwreck and Jack, the magical boy from Steerage, died. An iceberg would be the least of Titanic's problems.

2/15/2019

Five Films to See at TIFF Next Wave

kids with skateboards
Catch must-see Oscar nominee Minding the Gap at TIFF Next Wave
Courtesy of TIFF.
Forget Max Ophüls, the archival 35mm print you need to see this week is But I’m a Cheerleader! TIFF’s Next Wave Film Festival returns this week offering youth-oriented programming with films both old and new selected by young movie buffs. Jamie Babbit’s campy and hilarious cult hit is just one of the retrospective highlights of the film that should attract moviegoers eager to explore films that didn’t make the cut at TIFF’s recent 1999 series. (Still waiting on that Thomas Crown Affair spotlight, dear Lightbox!)

2/11/2019

Watch Oscar Nominee 'Animal Behaviour'

gorilla and dog in therapy
Animal Behaviour
NFB
FYI, you can watch Canada's Oscar nominee Animal Behaviour now that is available for free from the NFB. This delightfully hilarious film from Alison Snowden and David Fine marks the NFB's 75th Oscar nomination and is well deserved. (Snowden and Fine previously won for the short Bob's Birthday, which inspired the hit series Bob and Margaret.) It's my personal favourite in a very strong crop of animated short films. Have a watch, enjoy a laugh, and add your vote to the ballot!

2/07/2019

Oscar-Nominated Live Action Shorts are Sadistic Hell

Fauve
Wowee, the short film branch of the Academy is a sadistic bunch. I love the five films they nominated for Best Animated Short, but the programme for Best Live Action Short is simply intolerable. With the exception of one contender, the nominees are relentlessly bleak, exhausting, and, at times, excruciating films. Oscar completists must tread lightly in this scenario, for it might better to fill out the ballot than endure the miserable hell of a screening. At the very least, find out the screening order of the films and plan bathroom breaks or walk out times accordingly.


2/06/2019

Canadian Talent Dominates Oscar-Nominated Animated Shorts

Animal Behaviour
NFB
I might have a bone to pick with Oscar voters for their choices in the insufferably bleak live action and documentary shorts, but the animation team delivered one of the few truly great sets of nominees this year. The five Oscar-nominated animated short films represent the best of the field and deliver the full spectrum of the art form by storytellers from around the world. The cherry on top is that Canadians hold the majority of slots in the category with one NFB production and two films by Canuck directors landing on the ballot—and the three films are honestly the best of the bunch.

2/03/2019

'Giant Little Ones' Embraces Fluidity

Giant Little Ones
(Canada, 93 min.)
Written and directed by Keith Behrman
Starring: Josh Wiggins, Maria Bello, Darren Mann, Taylor Hickson, Kyle MacLachlan, Peter Outerbridge
queer questioning boy
Josh Wiggins stars in Giant Little Ones
Mongrel Media

Love stories often contain fireworks. Either literal or figurative, sometimes both, these bright bursts offer convenient metaphors for sparks that fly between connected souls. In Giant Little Ones, the long-awaited sophomore feature of Keith Behrman following his 2002 debut Flower & Garnet, the story offers no fireworks, but it does shoot off a few flare guns. The image of best friends Franky (Josh Wiggins) and Ballas (Darren Mann) sending little rockets into the air offers a touching, understated image of sexual awakening. The flares that fly upwards into the night don’t travel a straight path—they sail in unconventional arcs before erupting into bright, glowing euphoric bursts of red light that warm the heart. Handsomely shot and driven by an upbeat indie soundtrack, Giant Little Ones is at its best when it speaks for the characters without saying anything. These explosions in the sky are warmly reassuring gestures in an intimate coming of age story.

1/31/2019

Dale Luminous in 'Light'

Into Invisible Light
(Canada, 102 min)
Dir. Shelagh Carter, Writ. Shelagh Carter, Jennifer Dale
Starring: Jennifer Dale, Peter Keleghan, Jaydee-Lynn McDougall, Kari Matchett, Kristen Harris, Stuart Hughes
woman at a window
Robert Lantos may have produced In Praise of Older Women in 1978, but actor Jennifer Dale, Lantos's ex-wife, gives audiences a woman to celebrate in 2019. Dale is simply luminous in Into Invisible Light. Playing Helena, a recently widowed housewife and socialist with a newfound spark of passion, Dale creates an intriguing, full-bodied, and richly realized character. It’s one of those nicely fleshed-out and three-dimensional performances that mature actresses too rarely get to give in the movies.

1/22/2019

Nice Guys Finish Last: Thoughts on the Oscar Nominations

The Academy's documentary branch blows it again and snubs Mr. Rogers
Pardon the late commentary but it’s been a crazy day and I don’t simply mean because of the Oscar nominations. This morning’s spectacularly pleasing and infuriating announcement of the Academy Award nominations yielded a mix of outrageous snubs and wonderful surprises. It’s hard to be mad about what went down with the list of contenders rhymed off by announcers Kumail Nanjiani and Tracee Ellis Ross, but it’s tough to be completely satisfied. Any way one looks at it though, this morning’s live stream had about one upset per category, yielded myriad formulae for possible outcomes, and made a case that every category emphatically deserves to be in the ceremony broadcast. We need to see every win if the Oscars are going to be as engagingly unpredictable as their early morning nomination announcement. Every category matters.

1/19/2019

Oscar Predictions: Final Round - Four and One More

The Oscar nominations come out this Tuesday and what a year it has been. It’s been so wild and so up and down that the Spike Lee movie that likens the sitting President of the USA to the leader of the KKK is stirring up the least controversy this season. Yikes.

1/18/2019

Contest! Win a 'Beautiful Boy' Prize Pack!

The Oscar nominations come out next Tuesday and you can expect Timothée Chalamet to be heading back to the ceremony this year. The Beautiful Boy star already has nominations under his belt from the Golden Globes, SAG Awards, and Critics Choice Awards for his powerful performance as Nic Sheff, a young man who shares the story of his battle with, and recovery from, drug addiction. (One of this blog’s picks for the top ten performances of 2018!) The film adapts Sheff’s memoir Tweak along with his father’s side of the story, Beautiful Boy, to show two perspectives on the devastating impact that addiction has on a family. Beautiful Boy comes to Blu-ray on Tuesday, January 22 from VVS Films and Cinemablographer has a prize pack to give away to celebrate Chalamet’s extraordinary performance!

1/17/2019

Stan and Ollie: A Silver Screen Bromance

Stan & Ollie
(UK, 97 min.)
Dir. Jon S. Baird, Writ. Jeff Pope
Starring: John C. Reilly, Steve Coogan, Shirley Henderson, Nina Arianda, Danny Huston
Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy with a camera
John C. Reilly as Oliver Hardy and Steve Coogan as Stan Laurel in Stan & Ollie, an Entertainment One release.
Photo: Aimee Spinks.

The comedic spirits of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy are alive and well in the duo of Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly. The actors are a delightful screen team in this fun bromance. With straight-laced Coogan playing Laurel and the jolly Reilly playing Hardy, the actors give some of their best performances while paying tribute to the famous tag team of stage and screen. One doesn’t need to be a fan of classic cinema to have a good laugh with Stan & Ollie as the film revisits the final chapter of their career together with some of their best gags revisited, and in some cases reinterpreted, to bring their laughs to life.


1/04/2019

Golden Globes: Will Win/Should Win (and Oscar update)

Will A Star is Born claim the lead at Sunday's Golden Globes?
Is it Golden Globes weekend already? How time flies! Award season is still all over the map as it nears the end of the advocacy stage of the critics’ groups. At this point last year, the Globes basically signalled the end for Laurie Metcalf and Willem Dafoe when their hot streaks on the critical circuit were interrupted by Allison Janney and Sam Rockwell, who went on to claim all major prizes from the Globes onward. Right now, Roma is on top in terms of Best Picture wins, but it is ineligible for the same prize at the Golden Globes on Sunday night, so we’ll at least have a better sense of who the bigger rivals are. Overall, I still feel that this is the big night for A Star is Born to take a confident lead, especially as it stands as one of only four films to score a Globe nomination for Best Picture along with top nominations from the Producers Guild and Screen Actors Guild. (Black Panther, Bohemian Rhapsody and BlacKkKlansman are the others.)


12/30/2018

2018 in Review: The Best Films of the Year

From top: Won't You Be My Neighbor?, A Star is Born, The Favourite, American Animals, Roma,
Isle of Dogs, Suspira, BlacKkKlansman,
and Destroyer are the year's best films
It pretty much sums up 2018 in a nutshell by saying that my two favourite films of the year are the Mr. Rogers documentary about the value of kindness and the movie where Nicole Kidman mercilessly beats the shit out of everyone. What a mood.

12/29/2018

2018 in Review: The Best Performances of the Year

Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Tilda Swinton, Carmina Martínez, Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz,
Rosamund Pike and Nicole Kidman are among 2018's top stars.
2018 might not have been a so-so year for movies, but it’s hard to find a year with a stronger list of acting credits. The films of 2018 excelled in large part by the quality of the performances that fuelled them. I could easily have limited the list of the top lead performances of 2018 to Best Actress contenders and still omitted worthy names if I capped it at 10. Not even Meryl Streep made the lists this year, the acting was so good!


12/28/2018

Interview: Chatting with 'Birds of Passage' Director Cristina Gallego at 'That Shelf'


Embed from Getty Images

The team behind Embrace of the Serpent is back! After the 2015 arthouse hit and Oscar nominee comes Birds of Passage, an electrifying Colombian cartel drama directed by Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra. The film is Colombia's Oscar entry for Best Foreign Language Film and recently made the shortlist.

Birds of Passage gives drug wars a tribal spin by setting the drama in the land of the Wayuu clans in northern Colombia. “Since Embrace went well, it was very easy to finance this film,” said Gallego, speaking Gallego, speaking ahead of the film’s Canadian premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. “It let us take the next step in the scale of film we could make. In Colombia, movies are usually pretty small because of financing.”