Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Best Feature, Best Editing - Spirit Awards edition (The Rider); Foreign Film and Queer cinema playlist

We are going to shift gears just a bit this morning. This week I am going to focus on three things. The Independent Spirit Award nominees (I'm so glad to be a member and voter), the 3 remaining Oscar nominated foreign films I have yet to see (next week I begin interviewing the directors) and a few last minute LGBTQ viewings in preparation for my Awards Daily piece on Queer Cinema.

Let's start with the Spirit Awards. Yesterday I watched "The Rider," directed by Chloe Zhao and shot by cinematographer Joshua James Richards. "The Rider" is so visually stunning, from the landscapes (this gives not only this year's "God's Own Country" a run for its money, but also "Brokeback Mountain"...yes, most of my experience with outdoor cinematic landscapes involve the gays) to its star.

Director Zhao met lead Brady Jandreau while filming her first film "Songs My Brother Taught Me," and through interviews with Jandreau began processing an idea for a feature. That idea became a clearer reality with Jandreau became injured when a horse stomped on his head, leaving him in a coma for three days and a metal plate in his head. Through additional conversations, including one in which Brady had to put down a horse and the emotional toll that caused, "The Rider" came to fruition. It is a remarkable film. Zhao uses Brady's friends and actual family members to round out the cast. You really feel as if you are watching true life in a narrative feature.

Picking up after the accident, the fictional Brady "finds himself wondering what he has to live for when he can no longer do what gives him a sense of purpose: to ride and compete. In an attempt to regain control of his fate, Brady undertakes a search for new identity and tries to redefine his idea of what it means to be a man in the heartland of America."

The film makes you question purpose and fate. Are we defined by our dreams, and what happens when they appear to be crushed?

Check out this clips below (follow the link on the first one to Vimeo):

BEST FEATURE NOMINEE - THE RIDER from Film Independent on Vimeo.

I reached out to Film Independent to make sure it was cool for me to discuss these films in terms of who I might vote for, and they appreciating my reaching out told me that I was more than welcome to discuss my opinions and voting process. So much better than those really disturbing honest Oscar voters pieces put out by the Hollywood Reporter. Awards Wiz is all about transparency.

"The Rider" is up for a few awards, but considering I still need to see some of its fellow nominees in Cinematography and Directing, I will focus on Best Feature and Best Editing.

Feature is a no brainer, as you could probably expect.

The nominees are:
"Call Me By Your Name"
"The Florida Project"
"Get Out"
"Lady Bird"
"The Rider"

First of all, only two of those films made my Top 20. And those would be "Get Out" and "Call Me By Your Name." As much as I loved "The Rider," it's really only in contention for Brian's vote in Cinematography.

I have to go with "Call Me By Your Name." "CMBYN" has a strong nominated presence at the Spirits, but I worry that we will see "Lady Bird" win here. I feel as if Gerwig is the epitome of independent film, and Guadagnino might be considered an outsider to the Santa Monica crowd. Who knows though...it's really hard to say at this point. If I had to venture a guess I would say:

Should Win: "Call Me By Your Name"
Will Win: "Lady Bird"
Spoiler: "Get Out"

Now, Editing:

"Good Time," Ronald Bronstein, Benny Safdie
"Call Me By Your Name," Walter Fasano
"The Rider," Alex O'Flinn
"Get Out," Gregory Plotkin
"I, Tonya," Tatiana S. Riegel

For me, it's between "I, Tonya" and "Call Me By Your Name."

I think the work Fasano does in "CMBYN" is daring and unusual. We hear voice over where it does and something doesn't seem to belong. Exposed film. Cuts that should appear jarring yet make total sense.

"I, Tonya," and "Get Out" while fantastically edited are, in original films, technically run of the mill.  Gosh...it feels so odd to talk about these wonderful films in this way, but that is the nature of awards. We have to determine a favorite in each category somehow, right?

Do I think "CMBYN" will win. Probably not.

Should Win: "Call Me By Your Name,"
Will Win: "Get Out"
spoiler, "I, Tonya"

OK...let's look at my viewing schedule over the next few days.

I still need to see the following Oscar nominated foreign films:
"The Insult"
"On Body and Soul"

I also would very much like to revisit "Beautiful Thing" (if my lost reorder from Amazon arrives today as it should!) and watch the nominated documentary "Strong Island" before I begin actually writing my Queer Cinema piece. It's going to be a busy 5 days.

Who am I kidding. 5 weeks.

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