Oscar Predictions: Round 3 - Five Categories with Women to Watch

Clockwise from top: On Body and Soul; I, Tonya; Unrest, Mudbound, First They Killed My Father, The Beguiled
What a year, what a year. A lot had happened since we last checked in on the Oscars. And I mean, a lot.


Canadian Screen Award Film Nominations: Ava, Never Steady, Hochelaga Lead

The Canadian Screen Award nominations are out! Ava, Never Steady Never Still and Hochelaga, Land of Souls lead the field with 8 nominations each. However, in a rare snub, Canada's Oscar big Hochelaga was shut out of all major categories and only received technical noms. Oscar contender The Breadwinner did much better landing a Best Film nomination, as did the Sally Hawkins vehicle Maudie

The full list of feature-length film nominees is:


Canada's Top Ten Review: 'Ava'

(Iran/Canada/Qatar, 103 min.)
Written and directed by Sadaf Foroughi
Starring: Manhour Jabbari, Bahar Nouhian, Leili Rashidi, Vahid Aghapour
Courtesy of TIFF
Sarah Foroughi is undoubtedly a talent to watch. The deep and insightful screenplay for her first feature Ava gives a strong voice and agency to its young protagonist struggling against patriarchal society in Tehran. Ava is a bold a necessary film that gives hope for young girls and women as our parents’ generation becomes more progressive and learns to offer daughters the same opportunities and respect afforded to sons.


See the North in Short Glances at Canada's Top Ten

The Crying Conch
The shorts on display at this year’s Canada’s Top Ten festival are, overall, a respectable bunch. Like the feature selections, the shorts selected by the TIFF team are carefully calibrated to ensure a wide range of representation and to move the spotlight outside the Toronto bubble. And, like the features, there are many stronger titles that didn’t make the list, like Caroline Monnet’s hypnotic Creatura Dada, Molly Parker’s haunting Bird, Andrew Moir’s effective Babe, I Hate to Go, Sol Friedman’s hilarious An Imagined Conversation: Kanye West & Stephen Hawking, Chintis Lundgren’s funny Manivald, Michelle Latimer’s potent Nuuca, and Philippe David Gagné and Jean-Marc E. Roy’s Cannes debut Crème de menthe to name a few. There are nevertheless three genuinely great films in the mix, plus others that show much promise and/or bring voices from traditionally underrepresented communities to the conversation. Might as well #SeeTheNorth even at a short glance.


The Bumps Make the Ride

The Commuter
(USA, 104 min.)
Dir. Jaume Collet-Saura, Writ. Byron Willinger, Philip de Blasi, Ryan Engle
Starring: Liam Neeson, Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Sam Neill, Jonathan Banks, Elizabeth McGovern
Vera Farmiga and Liam Neeson in The Commuter
VVS Films
Toot! Toot! The Commuter offers oodles of metaphors for Liam Neeson’s career with its story of a man miscast in the hero role and a train that flies off the rails in its final act. The film is the latest entry in old man Neeson’s most lamentable decline into geriatric action flicks, which has created a sort of parodic sub-genre for aging stars in the decade following the original Taken. The element of novelty is still there even if this self-serious crazy train is one that Neeson’s ridden before. The Commuter is the first class car of the Neeson train, but hardly the caboose.


Toronto Film Critics Name 'Werewolf' Best Canadian Film

Ashley McKenzie’s Werewolf was this year’s winner of the Best Canadian Feature prize from the Toronto Film Critics Association. Werewolf, McKenzie’s debut feature, offers the raw verité-style story of two meth addicts struggling to go clean in their sparse Cape Breton community. The film scooped a cash prize of $100,000 to go along with the honours.


Reviewing 'Molly's Game' and 'Hostiles' in BeatRoute

Vancouver! Pick up a copy of YVR's indie arts mag BeatRoute on your way to the movies this week for reviews of Molly's Game and Hostiles! (Or have a read below!)


Golden Globes Preview: Will Win/Should Win

Clockwise from top left: The Shape of Water, Lady Bird, Dunkirk, The Post, Darkest Hour, I, Tonya
Donald Tr*mp tweeted that he plans to announce "THE MOST DISHONEST & CORRUPT MEDIA AWARDS OF THE YEAR" [his caps] on Monday, but I don’t think he got the memo that the Golden Globes are actually Sunday night. Yes, it’s been a year since Meryl Streep famously slammed the First Idiot at Hollywood’s second biggest award show and there could be round two of Meryl vs. Trump. It’s really fun, and odd, to see a voting body as openly corrupt as the Hollywood Foreign Press Association become a beacon for free speech and sanity, but in an award season where anything goes and presumably anybody could win, Sunday’s Golden Globes are a must see. 


The Finest Actor in the World?

All the Money in the World
(USA, 132 min.)
Dir. Ridley Scott, Writ. David Scarpa
Starring: Michelle Williams, Christopher Plummer, Mark Walhberg, Charlie Plummer, Romain Duris
j paul getty plummer money
I’ve often said that Christopher Plummer is Canada’s greatest actor. However, he might lay claim to being the finest actor in the world given his most recent performance. Plummer proves himself a consummate professional with his eleventh hour tour-de-force as billionaire tycoon J. Paul Getty in Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World. Plummer, who was the original choice for the role, replaced Kevin Spacey in a much-publicized switcheroo to supplant the disgraced actor when serious allegations of sexual misconduct towards minors made it impossible to release the film with Spacey as the villain—in a performance that many insiders speculated was a strong Oscar contender. The speculation hints at both the lunacy and validity of early award season soothsaying because All the Money in the World should land a Best Supporting Actor nomination, and maybe a win if it’s not too late. Plummer gives one of his best performances while proving himself one of Hollywood’s true class acts.


2017 in Review: The Best Films of the Year

Wonderstruck; Step; Kedi; I, Tonya; The Shape of Water; Dunkirk; Don't Talk to Irene; The Post; Faces Places
Thank goodness for the movies. 2017 wasn’t good to many of us, so it was sweet relief to enjoy the escape of a dark theatre and some popcorn. A lot has been written about the timeliness of many of the best films of the year evoking parables of Trump-era America, and the many of the best films of 2017 were tales of true heroes, great leaders, and of communities united—all a great contrast to the toxicity and divisiveness that define the year. It was a particularly strong year for documentaries, too, with non-fiction filmmakers illuminating more corners of the world with fearless eyes for telling the truth and for highlighting diverse voices. And in some cases, filmmakers turned over new corners of the art form to play with perceptions of the truth—very timely for the age of #FakeNews.


'Get Out' Leads Online Film Critics Society Award Winners

Catherine Keener and Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out
Jordan Peele's subversive horror flick Get Out led the winners for the annual Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) awards announced earlier today. The OFCS, established in 1997, is the largest and longest running group of film critics promoting the strength of writing and criticism in the online sphere. OFCS members shared the wealth with other films like Dunkirk, The Shape of Water, Darkest Hour, Lady Bird and Call Me By Your Name winning additional awards apiece.


2017 in Review: The Best Performances of the Year

Margot Robbie, Gary Oldman, Allison Janney, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett,
and Frances McDorman give 2017's best performances
We continue to reflect on the year in movies. The third segment of “2017 in Review” salutes the actresses and actors who stood tallest this year. The choices in the list reflect a very strong year for substantial roles for women in film—a notable improvement over recent years—and probably the most competitive field yet for the top ten lead performances. On the other hand, this year marks the first instance in the seven years this blog has been running that a list failed to include a performance from a Canadian film. That’s disappointing, although there are a few in the honorable mentions, but let’s appreciate the cream of the crop in acting talent this year:


2017 in Review: The Best Canadian Films of the Year

Don't Talk to Irene, Rumble, Dim the Fluorescents, Long Time Running,
Adventures in Public School
and Hochelaga are the year's best Canadian films.

It’s been a quietly respectable year for Canadian film. I realise that statement might not read like a compliment, but I’m still caught off guard by how hard it was to see Canadian movies this year. In the seven years that I’ve been writing this blog and covering the Canadian film beat, or at least trying my best to do so, 2017 posed the biggest struggle for finding Canadian content. It just wasn’t out there as much as it’s been in previous years, or, if it was, it was far less visible.


Incident Report: Margot Robbie, Craig Gillespie and Sebastian Stan Talk 'I, Tonya'

Sebastian Stan and Margot Robbie star as Jeff Gillooly and Tonya Harding in I, Tonya
VVS Films

“She’s an incredible athlete and I think that’s one of the tragedies of this whole situation,” says Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad, Z for Zachariah), speaking about her I, Tonya character at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this year. “‘The Incident’ totally overshadowed her athletic abilities and what a phenomenal achievement it was to do the triple axel.”


'The Shape of Water' Leads Online Film Critics Society Nominations

Sally Hawkins stars in The Shape of Water
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Guillermo del Toro's mesmerizing fantasy romance The Shape of Water leads the 2017 nominations for the Online Film Critics Society Awards. The film starring Sally Hawkins as a mute cleaning woman who falls in love with an amphibian man has eight nominations including Best Picture, Best Director for del Toro, and Best Actress for Hawkins. Coming in second with six nominations apiece are Luca Guadagnino's Call Me By Your Name, Jordan Peele's Get Out, and Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird.