Canadian Screen Awards: Picks and Predictions

 Canada's Oscar nominee Rebelle could dominate Sunday's Canadian Screen Awards
If Kim Nguyen didn’t get a chance to thank the Academy last Sunday, he can surely do so this weekend. Nguyen’s Rebelle (War Witch) might have been the dark horse in the Best Foreign Language Film category at this year’s Academy Awards, but it’s arguably the front-runner for Best Picture at the inaugural Canadian Screen Awards. The awards, which collapse the previous Genie and Gemini awards into one fête that also acknowledges digital work, are a new step forward for celebrating Canada’s A/V industry. There are films and artists worth celebrating and these awards will hopefully bring enough exposure and excitement to create audiences for Canadian films. The benefit of such coverage is evident in the number of shout outs Canada received during Sunday’s Oscars.

Jeff Chang Turns 21

21 and Over
(USA, 93 min.)
Written and directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore
Starring: Miles Teller, Skylar Astin, Justin Chon, Sarah Wright, Jonathan Keltz, François Chau.
Skylar Astin, Justin Chon and Miles Teller star in 21 & Over

Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday dear Jeff Chang,
Happy Birthday to you!

DiverCiné Brings Francophone Cinema to Ottawa

La Pirogue opens and closes DiverCiné 2013

Francophones in the Ottawa area can see films in their native tongue when the annual DiverCiné festival returns March 8th to March 17th. DiverCiné brings films from other French-speaking nations to Ottawa in a week-long celebration of film and culture. The event is organized by the Embassy of France to Canada and the Department of Canadian Heritage, in partnership with the Canadian Film Institute and the ByTowne Cinema. “The DiverCiné festival offers us once more an opportunity to pay homage to the talent and the creativity of filmmakers in Canada and in the other countries of the Francophonie,” says French Ambassador Philippe Zeller. “For the 11th year in a row, Canadian Heritage and the Embassy of France have come together around DiverCiné to celebrate the cultural diversity of all the French-speaking countries of the world through cinema.” Films at DiverCiné represent Francophone cinema from all corners of the globe with films from Canada and Europe on the programme alongside offerings from Africa and Asia.


Move on Out!

Moving Day
(Canada, 94 min.)
Dir. Mike Clattenburg, Writ. Mike Clattenburg, Mike O’Neill
Starring: Will Sasso, Charlie Murphy, Gabriel Hogan, Gabrielle Miller, Victor Garber.
An embarrassingly unfunny film, Moving Day lifts comedy in its broadest form and drops the package on its big toe. Director/co-writer Mike Clattenburg (The Trailer Park Boys) usually provides a good chuckle with coarse humour aimed for a general audience, but this workplace comedy is as dry and flat as the cardboard boxes the movers stack and ship. Moving Day is the kind of Canadian movie that gives tax credits for the film industry a bad rep.


Doc-ing in Memphis

West of Memphis
(USA/New Zealand, 147 min.)
Dir. Amy Berg, Writ. Amy Berg, Billy McMillin
Photo by Olivia Fougeirol, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.
“We the filmmakers find the defendant guilty on all counts.” Director Amy Berg (Deliver Us From Evil) puts American’s legal system on trial in West of Memphis, and the documentary delivers a verdict that satisfies everyone and no one. West of Memphis arrives at this thesis by deliberating the sensational trial of the three men known as the West Memphis Three. Deliberate or not, Berg’s examination of the case is a provocative and compelling condemnation of a system run amok.


Oscars 2013: That's a Wrap!

Headline: “Seth MacFarlane: Ok-ish as Oscar Host.”
Fred and Ginger: Channing Tatum and Charlize Theron open the Oscars
I’ll give Seth MacFarlane credit. He did a decent job as the host of Hollywood’s biggest night. He had big shoes to fill after Tina Fey and Amy Poehler received good reviews for the Golden Globes, and he matched them fairly well considering he was asked to fill more of the broadcast than they were. MacFarlane opened the night by making fun of his juvenile humour with a hilarious bit involving William Shatner as Captain Kirk, who travels back in time to warn MacFarlane about curbing a disastrous hosting job. The sketch included a fun send-up to Sally Field’s days as The Flying Nun, plus some throwback dance numbers to classic musicals (the best of which was the Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers tribute by Channing Tatum and Charlize Theron. The opening act ended with the musical number “We Saw Your Boobs” in which MacFarlane got all his frat-boy humour out of the way before moving on with a (mostly) funny and tasteful night that fed on song and dance. Ben Affleck had the swan song of the night when Argo won Best Picture and his co-producer Grant Heslov thanked him for his work as a director.


'We are Serving White Cake!'

Made a white cake for tonight's show in honor of Django Unchained. Are you making anything special for the Oscars?

Don't forget to follow along with predictions!


'Twilight' gets Razzed

The Twilight franchise has finally got its due! Breaking Dawn: Part 2 won top “honours” at the Golden Raspberry Awards (aka the Razzies), Hollywood’s annual gong show to fête the “berry worst” in cinema on the night before the industry gives a bunch of awards to itself. It’s the first time that the Twilight Saga has taken home any major hardware despite being a strong presence at the award show for the past four years. Oddly enough, this win looks like a case of what we call “deferred Oscar syndrome” since the seven wins seem like a last chance effort to razz the franchise. Breaking Dawn Part 2 was by critical consensus the least bad entry in the franchise since the original scarred our brains in 2008. For example, Part 2 holds a freshness rating of 48% critical endorsement of Rotten Tomatoes, compared to the 24% critical approval for Breaking Dawn Part 1. As they must have said with Peter Jackson’s win at the Oscars, “Better late than never.”

There was, however, on top prize that eluded Twilight. Worst Actor dishonours went not to Robert Pattinson but to Adam Sandler for That’s My Boy. This makes Sandler a back-to-back winner, as he won last year for Jack and Jill, which had the notorious honour of winning every prize at the show. It’s probably time that Sandler returned his voting privileges to The Academy.

The “Winners” :


Black and Blanca

(Spain/France, 104 min.)
Written and directed by Pablo Berger
Starring: Maribel Verdú, Macarena García, Daniel Giménez Cacho, Ángela Molina.
The past year has seen a flood of Snow White movies. The tale by The Brothers Grimm first received two decidedly contemporary renditions: the god-awful nightmare Mirror Mirror and the nightmarish action-pic Snow White and the Huntsman. The latter is fairly good thanks to an inspired performance by Charlize Theron as the evil queen and to its video-gamey style, which works surprisingly well. Both these revamped Snow White tales, however, are vastly eclipsed by the Spanish take, Blancanieves. Blancanieves (which literally translates to Snow White) appropriates the “white as snow, black as wood” features of its heroine and reimagines the classic tale in the silent black-and-white of classic cinema. As the characters in Skyfall would say, “Sometimes the older ways are best.”


Oscar Predictions: Final Round - Will Win/Should Win

Ben Affleck's Argo: our next Best Picture winner?
'Twas the night before Oscars, when all thro' the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The trophies were put on the mantle with care,
In hopes that Sir Oscar soon would be there;
Ben Affleck was nestled all snug in his bed,

While visions of D’rector noms danc'd in his head…

Pity the Drug Dealer

(USA, 112 min.)
Dir. Ric Roman Waugh, Writ. Justin Haythe, Ric Roman Waugh
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jon Bernthal, Barry Pepper, Susan Sarandon, Melina Kanakaredes, Michael Kenneth Williams, Rafi Gavron, Benjamin Bratt.
How much time should a drug dealer serve in prison? A year? Ten? Or should someone only do probation for slinging smack on the street? If it’s a non-violent crime, they shouldn’t do much time. That’s at least the morale that Snitch offers when everyman John Matthews (Dwayne Johnson) goes undercover to catch top-level drug players so that he can free his son, Jason (Rafi Gavron), from a ten-year mandatory minimum sentence for distribution.


Man and Beast

(Canada/France, 72 min.)
Written and directed by Denis Côté
People are animals. We live in different environments and have different habits than our four legged friends, but we also have a lot in common. People are often as restless as a wild zebra, for example, when they flutter about town in a series of scheduled activities to occupy their days. Others are like a fat little tabby cat, since they like lounging around after filling their bellies. To each his own, but at least humans can often choose between running and slothfulness.


Oscar Bridesmaids: Who is Due?

Oscar Bridesmaid Thelma Ritter made losing something to celebrate
“Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.” Some Oscar nominees are like Lady Edith when it comes to weddings: they walk down the aisle, but they never get to say, “I do.” Even worse, though, is when they actually make it to the altar, but are jilted at the final moment. (Edith again.) Some nominees take it in stride as the Lady Marys of the award circuit add oodles of hardware to their trophy case.

'Anna Karenina' on Home Video

Set aside your plans for tonight, for Anna Karenina hits home video today. This visually stunning film, my pick for the best of 2012, is tailored perfectly to the high resolution of Blu-ray. You'll want to pick up a copy of the film, since Anna is the kind of intelligent film experience that rewards multiple viewings.


Win Tickets to see '21 and Over' in Ottawa (Contest Closed)

Oh, to be 21 again. From the writers of The Hangover comes 21 and Over. Like the misadventures of The Wolfpack, the cubs of 21 and Over are in for a night of poor life choices they’ll never forget. You can be too if you make the good life choice of attending the Ottawa sneak peek of Alliance Films’ upcoming release 21 and Over.


Win Tickets to 'Dark Skies' in Ottawa! (Closed)

Do you like scary movies? Do you like free scary movies even more? Then you are in luck, for we have tickets to the Ottawa sneak peek of Dark Skies! From the producer of Paranormal Activity, Insidious, and Sinister comes Dark Skies, a supernatural thriller that follows a young family living in the suburbs. As husband and wife Daniel (Josh Hamilton) and Lacey Barret (Keri Russell) witness an escalating series of disturbing events involving their family, their safe and peaceful home quickly unravels. When it becomes clear that the Barret family is being targeted by an unimaginably terrifying and deadly force, Daniel and Lacey take matters in their own hands to solve the mystery of what is after their family. Dark Skies is written and directed by Scott Stewart (Priest, Legion) and co-stars Dakota Goyo, Kadan Rockett and J.K. Simmons.

Win Tickets to the Ottawa Sneak Peek of 'Snitch' (closed)

There’s a giveaway underfoot, but don’t be a *snitch* and give away the answer. Thanks to our friends at Alliance Films, we have ten (10) double passes to the Ottawa sneak peek of their upcoming film Snitch. Action superstar Dwayne Johnson headlines this fast-paced thriller as a father whose teenage son is wrongly accused of a crime and is sentenced to 10 years in jail. In order to clear his son’s name, he dangerously goes undercover and risks everything, including his own life, to reduce his son’s sentence.


Happy Valentine's Day, Y'all!

Beautiful Creatures
(USA, 124 min.)
Written and directed by Richard LaGravenese
Starring: Alden Ehrenreich, Alice Englert, Jeremy Irons, Viola Davis, Emmy Rossum, Emma Thompson.
Happy Valentine’s Day y’all! Beautiful Creatures is your best bet for a decent date movie today. It’s probably not nearly as fluffy as Safe Haven or as gung-ho as Live Free or Die Hard (nothing quite says “Happy Valentine’s Day” like "yippee ki-yay, motherfucker!"). Whether you’re seeing it on a date or going stag, Beautiful Creatures is a fun night at the movies. 


Best Actress - Jessica Chastain, 'Zero Dark Thirty'

Maya sits down, buckles in. The PILOT heads back to the cabin.

You must be pretty important, you got the whole plane to yourself.

Where do you want to go?

She's speechless.
Finally, she lets go.
Those luminous eyes become pools of relief and pain.




Poetic Justice

L’affaire Dumont
(Canada, 121 min.)
Dir. Podz, Writ. Danielle Dansereau
Starring: Marc-André Grondin, Marilyn Castonguay, Sarianne Cormier, Kathleen Fortin, Martin Dubreuil, Geneviève Brouillette.
Marc-André Grondin stars in L'affaire Dumont.
Photo: Yan Turcotte, courtesy of Alliance Films.
L’affaire Dumont presents the true story of Michel Dumont, who was charged in 1990 for a crime he did not commit. Accused, tried, and convicted for a violent rape, Dumont was presumed guilty throughout the entirety of the procedure in spite of scant evidence aside from testimony from the alleged victim. Then, in 1992, the woman who pointed to Dumont as her aggressor admitted she had serious doubts about her testimony. In spite of this reversal, Dumont was not released from prison until 1997. L’affaire Dumont, a Best Picture nominee at this year’s Canadian Screen Awards, dramatizes Dumont’s tumultuous legal battle as a contemporary David and Goliath saga.


Georges and Anne Grow Old and Die

(France/Germany/Austria, 127 min.)
Written and directed by Michael Haneke
Starring: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva, Isabelle Huppert.
Georges and Anne have been through a lot together. They’ve deported a homeless immigrant (Code Unknown), been harassed by a hidden voyeur (Caché), and they have twice been tortured by wayward teens (Funny Games and Funny Games US). Now, Michael Haneke’s favourite everycouple is at their greatest trial. The time has come for Georges and Anne to test their marriage vows. “For richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health,” Georges and Anne have said as they’ve grown old together. It’s finally death’s turn for the eighty-year-old couple, but even death won’t do them part.


Oscar Update: Memo to The Academy

Joel Edgerton and Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty
Final balloting is underway! Oscar voters have eleven days to cast their votes and determine the winners. As explained over on Gold Derby, the process is again by mail and online ballot. Most of the guilds have spoken and they’ve done so in unison for Argo, which took the top prize from the actors, the producers, and the actors. The Writers’ Guild will be the biggest tip-off whether Argo has the race all wrapped-up: if Argo topples Lincoln’s Tony Kushner, who still seems like a heavy favourite, then all the top branches will have endorsed it. It’s a close race in most categories and with very few awards to be handed out in this period (the BAFTAs are the main prize left), there’s bound to be some final Hail Marys thrown into the mix. Voters have seen the films (hopefully) and they’ve heard many pleas, but let’s send one final memo to the Academy to consider some of the year’s best work.


Dear Anna

Dear Anna,



Molly Maxwell Trailer

A trailer for Molly Maxwell has arrived. Looking forward to this film!