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Tag Archives: Oscars

Brad Pitt got political, the Cats cast got their claws out and Eminems appearance left everyone confused

Joaquin Phoenix went full vegan

After Phoenixs speech at the Baftas, in which he said that it was incumbent on the dominant culture to increase representation of minorities in the film industry, many were expecting something on a similar theme. But his Oscars speech went much further. Beginning with the uncontroversial view that people like him should use our voice for the voiceless, Phoenix went on to say that humans disconnection from the natural world makes us feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow and steal her baby, even though her cries of anguish are unmistakable. Then we take her milk thats intended for her calf and we put it in our coffee and our cereal. It must be one of the most high-profile avowals of veganism there has ever been.

Bong Joon-ho ruled the night

The South Korean director ran an Oscars campaign based on gently poking voters about their US-centric worldview. The Oscars are not an international film festival, he ribbed at one point. Theyre very local. His other tactic was a full-on charm offensive, with his interpreter Sharon Choi becoming a star in her own right as she helped Bong navigate the late-night talkshow circuit. On Oscars night, his fanbase the Bong Hive were busy on Twitter and the man himself roused the audience with his tribute to Americas finest: When I was young and starting in cinema there was a saying that I carved deep into my heart which is, The most personal is the most creative. That quote was from our great Martin Scorsese.

Parasite, which has taken $40m at the US box office could be a bellwether for a more-outward looking Academy although this is the same voting body that picked Green Book last year, so its anyones guess what will happen in 12 months time.

James Corden and Rebel Wilson put the boot into Cats

The pair awarded the prize for best special effects dressed in Cats costumes and announcing: As cast members of the motion picture Cats, nobody more than us understands the importance of good visual effects. It got a big laugh although probably not in the home of Tom Hooper, the films director.

The In Memoriam section still cant get it right

There was no mention of Cameron Boyce, the Disney star who died aged 20 after suffering a seizure due to epilepsy in June and who played one of Adam Sandlers sons in the film Grown Ups. Luke Perry was another notable omission. The former star of Beverly Hills 90210 died in March aged 52, and even appeared in one of the nights nominated films, Once Upon a Time In Hollywood.

Eminems surprise guest slot was baffling

As if to confirm that the numbers up for best original song werent up to much this year, Eminem appeared for no apparent reason and blasted through Lose Yourself, his Oscar-winning song from 8 Mile back in 2003. He hadnt performed it, or even turned up, that year but this time he performed the tune sporting an alarming black beard as the audience nodded their heads with the exception of Scorsese, who merely seemed to be nodding off.


Martin Scorsese reacts to Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” performance #Oscars

February 10, 2020

Taika Waititi has broken new ground

First of all, hes the first Mori film-maker to win an Oscar a fact he nodded to when he dedicated his awards to all the indigenous kids all over the world who want to do art and dance and write stories we are the original storytellers and we can make it here as well. Second, he gave the first land acknowledgment speech the ceremony has ever seen, saying: The Academy would like to acknowledge that tonight we have gathered on the ancestral lands of the Tongva, the Tataviam and the Chumash. We acknowledge them as the first peoples of this land on which the motion pictures community lives and works.

cherrywaves (@heather28df)

Yes @TaikaWaititi!!!! #Oscars2020

February 10, 2020

Chris Rock is in no doubt on the question of Ford v Ferrari

Ive got both and it aint even close, said the comic at the top of the awards. Its like Halle Berry versus gum disease.

Brad Pitt can do politics

He has been acclaimed all awards season for his witty and charming speeches, but Pitt added some political bite at the Oscars with a nod to the thwarted impeachment of Trump. They told me I only have 45 seconds up here, he said. Which is 45 seconds more than the Senate gave John Bolton this week.

Billie Eilish made everyone feel old

When asked on the red carpet about the films shed grown up with, Eilish mentioned The Babadook released in 2014. And when Eminem came out to perform a song released when she wasnt even a year old, she could not have looked more bemused.

Lights, Camera, Pod (@LightsCameraPod)

What a reaction to Eminem from Billie Eilish. #Oscars

February 10, 2020

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Luca Guadagninos gorgeous coming-of-age tale oozes nostalgic melancholy and avoids the cliches in many films about gay love

Is Hollywood really changing? Or is just going through poses, like a self-conscious teenager at an outdoor disco in 1980s Italy? If Call Me By Your Name wins best picture at this years Academy Awards, well have our answer.

Luca Guadagninos film tells the story of two young men falling in love, but its also an irresistible seduction in itself. One which began before the films official release, with a flirtatious clip of Armie Hammer dancing, and continues over the course of a long Italian summer. Like young grad student Oliver (Hammer) and Elio (Timothe Chalamet), the 17-year-old son of his professor-host, we contentedly while away the films running time, discussing art and politics in whichever European language feels right, going for long bike rides, taking dips in the nearby lake, and dining outdoors under the peach trees; all of it depicted with languid sensuality by Guadagninos lens.

This is a coming-of-age film, but one that achieves an unusual emotional immediacy. It does so partly by omitting the retrospective narration of an older Elio (present in both Andr Acimans original novel and earlier drafts of James Ivorys screenplay) and also by wearing its period setting lightly. Elios full New Romantic get-up only makes an appearance in the final scene, and the Psychedelic Furs 1982 hit Love My Way shares top soundtrack billing with a trio of specially composed contemporary songs by Sufjan Stevens. This invitation to indulge in what Guadagnino has called the melancholy of lost things extends not only to nostalgic fiftysomething gay men, but to anyone with a love affair in their past worth remembering.

Languid sensuality Timothe Chalamets Elio Perlman meets Oliver. Photograph: Allstar/Sony Pictures Classics

Depictions of same-sex relationships have been deemed Oscar-worthy before (Philadelphia in 1993; Brokeback Mountain in 2005 and, of course, last years Moonlight), but this film goes further by allowing Elio and Oliver to escape the usually devastating consequences that cinema dishes out to its gay protagonists. Not only is Elio not struck down by a life-limiting illness, persecuted by unjust laws or turned out on the streets, he enjoys the support of a loving, emotionally intuitive family. Michael Stuhlbarg may have missed out on an Oscar nomination for the role of Elios father, but the speech he gives on heartbreak will surely save audiences years of therapy by enacting the ideal parent figure we all wish wed had.

The 22-year-old Chalamet wasnominated in the best actor category, and that final close-up of his face as the credits roll should be enough on its own to justify his inclusion alongside the likes of Daniel Day-Lewis and Gary Oldman. If factors besides the nominated performance are allowed to weigh in, then hes more deserving still. Not only does Chalamet also appear in Lady Bird, another of this years most exciting best picture nominees, but this very model of a post-Weinstein star has shown more courage off-screen that most actors twice his age. Last month he announced he would be donating the entire fee he earned from Woody Allens upcoming film A Rainy Day in New York to charities Times Up, the LGBT Community Center in New York, and Rainn [the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network].

Chalamet courage off-screen. Photograph: Moviestore/Rex/Shutterstock

It isnt taboo-busting which makes Call Me By Your Name a deserving winner; past LGBT films have done the hard work here, and some future, more courageously raunchy film, will have to do more yet. Call Me By Your Name deserves to win because, as great cinema should, it beautifully conveys the universality of a specific human story.

Moonlights triumph at last years Academy Awards proved that excellent cinema can, on occasion, get noticed amid the film industrys white, straight, male hegemony, but so what? Only when Hollywood consistently recognises that supposedly niche subject matter is no barrier to a films ability to connect can it truly claim to reflect our changing world. Maybe 2018 will be that year.

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There is something pretty hilarious about people saying celebrities shouldnt talk about politics, when a celebrity is currently the president of the United States

Being both old enough and shallow enough to remember the once seemingly annual horror of Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins political speeches at the Oscars, I understand why so many people experience a kind of inner death when celebrities heave themselves up on their political high horse at award ceremonies. From Vanessa Redgrave denouncing the Jewish Defense League as Zionist hoodlums in 1978 to Jared Leto giving a shout out to all the dreamers in the Ukraine and Venezuela in 2014, the list of celebrities dabbling in politics at the Academy Awards is only slightly more impressive than Donald Trumps movie cameos.

So I get why people feel weary at best, disgust at worst about the inevitable tub-thumping well get at tomorrow nights Oscars. Trump supporters will sneer at the out-of-touch, hysterical elitists who think they have a right to tell us normal folk what to do. As journalist (and daughter of John) Meghan McCain put it after the Golden Globes last month: This Meryl Streep speech is why Trump won. And if people in Hollywood dont start recognising why and how you will help him get re-elected. People voted Trump for lots of reasons; but I dont think a desire to stick it to Meryl Streep was one of them.

Meanwhile liberals have been making similar arguments, if in less strident tones. They say that overpaid celebrities railing against the government will only turn the current political situation into an even bigger culture war: coastal elites versus hard-working midwesterners. And that only helps Trump.

Bipartisan as this take increasingly is, I dont have much truck with it. Maybe its because there is something pretty hilarious about people saying celebrities shouldnt talk about politics, when a celebrity is currently the president of the United States. The suggestion that actors are too privileged to talk to us umble, potato-faced peasants would work better if a Manhattan billionaire who lives in a literal golden palace hadnt been elected on the basis that he really understands the average American. Celebrities are, after all, free citizens, and last time I checked, the US wasnt a totalitarian state where criticism of our Dear Leader is forbidden on TV. But Im guessing Steve Bannon is working on that.

I am writing this from America, and, over here, President Trump is the only story in town. Whether people support or fear him, he is the first and last topic of conversation for pretty much everyone Ive talked to over the past fortnight. For American celebrities not to acknowledge this would make them look a lot more cosseted by privilege than a dislike of the president. Yes,therewill be total uniformity of political opinion at the Oscars: the awards take place in California, after all, a solidly Democrat state. Andyes, the president can then spin that as proof of liberal elitism.

But if everyone avoided doing things that might be reframed negatively by the president, they wouldnt get out of bed in the morning. Andsomethings are just plain wrong, whatever your politics: the president spreading false rumours about voter fraud and Swedish terror attacks; the senate voting to defund Planned Parenthood, the primary health provider for many low-income women. So if Republican celebrities arent speaking up Robert Duvall, say, or Adam Sandler well, maybe they dont fancy defending the indefensible.

For every two celebrities (Viola Davis, Meryl Streep) who speak brilliantly about politics there will be at least 20 (Madonna, Tom Hiddleston) who put their gilded foot in it, which is pretty much the average ratio for humans in general. Im OK with that. Everyone who feels strongly about these issues has a right to protest, and that includes gratingly self-important celebrities at massively high-profile events. If you dont want to hear celebrities wanging on, maybe justdont watch the Oscars. I hear there are other TV channels out there.

Celebrity protests rarely change things. After all, as President Trump and his supporters are keen to point out, all the celebrities in the world and I mean that pretty much literally couldnt help Hillary Clinton get elected. But they certainly rattle the current president, a man so desperate to be recognised by Hollywood he insisted on appearing in Home Alone 2. Chipping away at his insatiably needy ego may well be one of the more powerful tools against him. For the first time in history, telling celebrities not to talk about politics sounds a lot less like sensible advice, and a lot more like a means of stifling powerful protest.

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This long-awaited film adaptation of the August Wilson play remains stagy, but as a showcase for two towering performances it could hardly be improved

Ever since August Wilsons play first premiered 33 years ago, a movie version has been mooted. Soon after it won the Pulitzer back in 1987, Eddie Murphy was lined up to play the lead Troy, a former baseball star working as a garbage collector in 50s Pittsburgh with Norman Jewison behind the camera. But Wilson put his foot down: there was no way it would be directed by anyone who wasnt black.

The project fell through and the play stayed on the stage. Revival after revival met with acclaim, but Wilson held firm, continuing until his death in 2005 to insist on a black director, and to voice upset at the danger and injustice of how, in cinema at least, whites have set themselves up as custodians of our experience.

Wilson spoke those words in 1990. But its a sentiment that resonates today, as awards season rolls round again and with it the risk of another #OscarsSoWhite debacle the backlash which met a total absence of acting nominations for anyone of colour for two years running. Fences is a film which alongside Moonlight, Hidden Figures and (perhaps) Birth of a Nation will help ensure that doesnt happen this time round.

Our director is a relative novice: Denzel Washington, making his third movie behind the camera, aged 61. You can see why he picked the project: this is essentially a transfer of the 2010 Broadway revival which won he and co-star Viola Davis Tony awards, and which she as Troys wife, Rose is guaranteed to convert into Oscar gold come February. (Hell probably have to make do with just a nomination.) Two other graduates of that production have been brought along too: Mykelti Williamson as Troys brain-damaged brother, Gabriel, and Russell Hornsby as Troys eldest son, Lyons.

Watch a trailer for Fences

The actors arent the only thing to have been co-opted. Although (backyard excluded) no two scenes take place in the same bit of their house and even a couple off-property the aesthetic is still inescapably stagy. Vestiges of greasepaint are everywhere, from the carefully assembled period props to the entrances and exits, especially those involving Gabriel, whose tragicomic histrionics, wielding a broken trumpet and warning about St Peter, fail to feel organic in a way film demands.

Washingtons movie almost music free, completely dutiful to Wilsons work lies somewhere between the stabs at cinema in John Wellss August: Osage County and the full embrace of the stage that has made live-streamed plays so popular lately. (But just remember: those have intervals. Fences does not.)

Yet immersive cinematography and widescreen escapism is not the point here. This film is conceived as a showcase for its performers, and, as that, it is immaculate. Washington has played a lot of rotters, but Troy is surely his least vain role to date. He begins irresistible, holding court for Rose and best friend Bono (Stephen Henderson) in the backyard, a few swigs of gin down ebullient and mesmeric, deep sweetness cancelling out that hint of bitter. Hes a rascal but loyal with it; a tough father to younger son Cory (Jovan Adepo), but with justification (Troys monologue about his own upbringing is a tour de force of hard-earned self-pity).

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Musical starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone picks up festivals Peoples Choice award, as Lion and Queen of Katwe named runners up

La La Land has taken the top honour at the Toronto film festival. The Los Angeles-set musical world premiered on the opening night film of the Venice film festival and screened in Telluride, before debuting in Toronto. The movie – Damien Chazelles third – has attracted raves from reviewers, with especial praise for Emma Stones performance as a struggling actor, whose relationship to her jazz pianist boyfriend (Ryan Gosling) becomes strained when his career begins to overtake hers. Stone was named best actress at last Saturdays Venice film festival awards.

The film is the follow-up by Chazelle, 31, to audience-pleasing drumming drama Whiplash, which won three Oscars, including best supporting actor for JK Simmons. La La Land is his second musical, following Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench, a little-seen micro-budget jazz musical, originally planned as his thesis project for Harvard Film School (he briefly left Harvard to focus on finishing the film).

La La Land is about the city I live in, its about the music that I grew up playing, its about movies that I grew up watching, Chazelle told the Guardian in Telluride, before screening it in Toronto. Even the big spectacle of the movie feels private to me in that way.

The Peoples Choice Award is a proven indicator for future awards glory: past winners which have proceeded to the bag the best picture Oscar include Slumdog Millionaire, The Kings Speech and 12 Years a Slave.

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