SAG Awards Tonight: Will Win/Should Win

Trevonte Rhodes and André Holland in Moonlight.
Elevation Pictures
The Oscar race for Best Picture is almost a done deal at this point following last night's La La Land win at the Producer's Guild of America Awards. While a PGA isn't the surest sign of Oscar victory (The Big Short won last year), it shows that this season's frontrunner plays well on the only other awards body that uses the same ranked preference ballot that the Academy employs for Best Picture. If someone wants to shake things up, it's now or never.


'It's Only the End of the World' Lands 6 César Noms

Photo by Shane Laverdière, Sons of Manual
Xavier Dolan's It's Only the End of the World might have missed out at the Oscars, but it landed six nominations at France's César Awards, the European country's equivalent to the little golden man. Dolan's film, which was Canada's submission for Best Foreign Language Film in this year's Academy Awards race, earned a César nom in the foreign film category, as well as two nods for Dolan in the categories of Best Director and Best Editing. The film also landed nominations for actors Gaspar Ulliel (Best Actor), Nathalie Baye (Best Supporting Actress), and Best Supporting Actor (Vincent Cassel). The film lead the total number of film nominees for this year's Canadian Screen Awards announced earlier this week.


Oscar Nominations!

Oscar nominations! A big day for Canada with well-deserved nominations for Denis Villeneuve (Best Director, Arrival), Ryan Gosling (Best Actor, La La Land), Patrice Vermette and Paul Hotte (Best Production Design, Arrival), and in a nomination that's long overdue, Theodore Ushev (Best Animated Short, Blind Vaysha). Canada's It's Only the End of the World didn't make the cut for Best Foreign Language Film, but it made it further in the race than anticipated. The nominees in that category are a strong bunch with heavy favourite Toni Erdmann leading the pack and dark horse Tanna passing most pundits' expectations.


Oscars Round 4 - Here Come the Nominations!

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in La La Land, an Entertainment One release.
Photo by Dale Robinette
The ballots are in and accountants are busy! The Oscar nominations come out Tuesday morning without the usual fanfare of woohoos! in the room. Not only is the Academy keeping the press announcement press and publicist free, but the inauguration of Donald Trump as President of the USA leaves the Oscar nominations at the end of a very dire news cycle. It's times like this one in which a feel-good film like La La Land stands poised to sweep.


How Do You Say 'Get Off My Lawn!' in Swedish?

A Man Called Ove
(Sweden, 116 min.)
Written and directed by Hannes Holm
Starring: Rolf Lassgård
Music Box Films

What’s the Swedish translation for “Get off my lawn?” A Man Called Ove (pronounced Ové) transport Clint Eastwood’s crusty old man from Gran Torino to a peculiar little Nordic community. The only real difference between Ove (played by Rolf Lassgård) and Eastwood’s Walt Kowalski is a shotgun. But Ove will undoubtedly pack some heat in the inevitable American remake of this hugely popular Swedish hit.

Contest: Win Tickets to See 'The Space Between Us' in Select Cities!

Asa Butterfield and Britt Robertson play star-crossed lovers in The Space Between Us, a new interplanetary adventure that’s The Fault in Our Stars meets The Martian. The Space Between Us opens February 3rd from VVS Films and Cinemablographer has tickets to give away in select cities! Answer the trivia below for your chance to win tickets!


Canadian Screen Award Nominations

It's Only the End of the World  / eOne Films
Xavier Dolan's It's Only the End of the World leads the pack of this year's Canadian Screen Award nominations, which were announced via a Facebook live stream. (Sorry for the delay. Day turned crazy mid announcement.) Overall, these nominations are a bit of the good, the pleasantly surprising, some films that I haven't even heard of, and the totally outrageous. In other words, it's par for the course with an award show.


Canada's Top Ten Review: 'Old Stone'

Old Stone (Lao Shi)
(Canada/China, 80 min.)
Written and directed by Johnny Ma
Starring: Chen Gang, Zhang Zebin
Zeitgeist Films / Films We Like
Programmers, critics, and random dudes in festival audiences liken Old Stone to a fusion of flavours. It might be a neorealist film that becomes a noir in one programmer’s notes, a hardboiled Kafkaesque detective story in a writer’s review, or a Greek tragedy crossed with a Russian novel in the eyes of a gushing fan. No matter the palette or the crossbreed of cuisines, though, there’s a universal flavour to the mixed grill that Johnny Ma cooks in Old Stone. This moral fable meets 1990s Hong Kong action flick is an intense, provocative, and extremely promising first feature. Perhaps the essence of a young chef reinventing a traditional recipe gives Old Stone its refreshing bite.


'It's Always About the Mother'

20th Century Women
(USA, 118 min.)
Written and directed by Mike Mills
Starring: Annette Bening, Greta Gerwig, Elle Fanning, Lucas Jade Zumann, Billy Crudup
Annette Bening and Lucas Jade Zumann in 20th Century Women.
Elevation Pictures

“What about you?” asks Julie (Elle Fanning) to Dorothea (Annette Bening). “It’s always about the mother.”

“Ok. Jesus, uh… yeah,” replies Dorothea, dumbstruck, baffled, and caught slightly off guard.


A Comedy of Bad Manners

(Romania, 176 min.)
Written and directed by Cristi Puiu
Starring: Mimi Branescu, Judith State, Bogdan Dumitrache, Dana Dogaru, Sorin Medeleni, Ana Ciontea, Rolando Matsangos, Catalina Moga, Marin Grigore, Tatiana Iekel, Marian Râlea, Ioana Craciunescu, Llona Brezoianu, Simona Ghia, Valer Dellakeza, Andi Vasluianu, Mara Elena Andrei, Petra Kurtela
Courtesy of TIFF
Sieranevada is the best three-hour Romanian funereal comedy ever made. It might be the only three-hour Romanian funereal comedy ever made, but the film deserves to wear this title with morbid pride.


The Gospel According to Marty

(USA, 161 min.)
Dir. Martin Scorsese, Writ. Jay Cocks, Martin Scorsese
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Issei Ogata, Liam Neeson, Ciarán Hinds, Yôsuke Kubozuka
Martin Scorsese’s Silence is a cinematic meditation. This slow and pensive film is one of the director’s finest artistic achievements as he breathtakingly recreates 1600’s Japan to depict the persecution of Catholics and the priests who fight for the faithful. Silence patiently immerses the viewers in the profound crisis of faith of Father Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and the film is a departure for Scorsese, even by the standards with which one judges the side of his oeuvre that favours historical dramas over gangster flicks. More in the vein of The Age of Innocence than Kundun, Silence is a film to admire from a distance. It doesn’t invite an immediate Hallelujah!, but it’s one of the deeper considerations of faith on film in some time. Its holy waters take some time to tread.

'Hello Destroyer', 'The Stairs' Top Vancouver and Toronto Awards

Hello Destroyer
It's a homegrown affair for the Vancouver Film Critics Circle as Kevan Funk's Hello Destroyer topped the Canadian prizes doled out by the BC crowd. Destroyer won the top prizes for Best Canadian Feature and Best Director. Fellow nominee and Canada's Top Ten pick Werewolf took the prize for Best First Film by a Canadian Director for Nova Scotia's Ashley McKenzie--a bit of a back handed compliment since Destroyer is also Funk's debut feature. Vancouver production Window Horses took the prize for Best Screenplay, while, in the night's best call, Molly Parker scooped the award for Best Supporting Actress for her flat-out brilliant performance in Bruce McDonald's Weirdos. Canuck Oscar bid It's Only the End of the World didn't even land a nomination, which means it got diddly from the nation's most prominent critics between Vancouver and Toronto.

Blu-ray Review: 'A War'

A War (Krigen)
(Denmark, 115 min.)
Written and directed by Tobias Lindholm
Starring:  Pilou Asbaek, Alex Høgh Andersen, Tuva Novotny, Søren Malling
Courtesy VVS Films

Canuck Oscar completists may now cross all the titles off the list of last year’s nominees! A War, Denmark’s nominee in the Best Foreign Language Film category, finally gets released in the Great White North after the intricacies off independent distribution deals kept it off the screens during last year’s race. That absence is a shame, for while A War might not have had much of a chance of toppling shoo-in/winner Son of Saul, it’s a smart, timely, and compelling film that deserves an audience.


Golden Globes this Weekend: Who Will Win/Should Win?

Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone) in La La Land.
  Photo by  Dale Robinette / an Entertainment One release.
Is it Globe time already? A look at the will wins and should wins of this weekend’s big show before Oscar ballots go back to the Academy.


Crack Open 'A Monster Calls'

A Monster Calls
(USA/Spain/UK, 108 min.)
Dir. J.A. Bayona, Writ. Patrick Ness
Starring: Lewis MacDougall, Felicity Jones, Sigourney Weaver, Toby Kebbell, Liam Neeson
Story time is one of the best experiences children can share with their parents. Curling up with a good book, spending time together, and passing along advice through the power of the imagination is an essential part of growing up. As one watches Connor (Lewis MacDougall) learn valuable life lessons through tales of spells and magic, one can’t help but recall fond memories with mom and dad in which trips to faraway places made one feel safe and sound.


'Moonlight' Leads Online Film Critics Society Award Winners

Naomie Harris in Moonlight.
Courtesy Elevation Pictures.
Barry Jenkins' Moonlight is the big winner at this year's awards dished out by the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS). Moonlight takes four awards including Best Film and Best Director. The Online Film Critics Society’s Governing Committee said, “We’d like to congratulate all involved with Moonlight for the power and humanity of this extraordinary film. Topical and relevant, it is a timely reminder of that which unites us being greater than that which divides us.” Other winners include Natalie Portman for Jackie (this blog's pick for best performance and best film of 2016) and Eric Heisserer for his screenplay for Arrival, directed by Canuck Denis Villeneuve.

The OFCS, of which I am a member, is the largest and longest-running international organisation devoted to promoting the diversity and quality of voices in online film criticism.