Friday, January 26, 2018

Now boarding: Oscars Phase 2; Dorian Awards and Independent Spirit Awards


Now that I've published my Top 10, it's time for Phase 2 of the Oscar season.  For those of you who don't know what that means, it's that period between Oscar nominations and the end of voting. Things get really, really intense.

Last year, for instance, the backlash against frontrunner "La La Land" became even louder, along with the resurfaced allegations against Casey Affleck. The former may have worked and the latter, at least, didn't sway voters from awarding him Best Actor. That would not have been the case this year.

As we all have seen over the past few weeks, "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" has taken the biggest hit on legitimate sites. I thoroughly enjoyed it, although I found it to have flaws, which is exactly why it didn't quite crack my top 10.

I winced when I heard Woody Harrelson say the "f" word, yes, but I stand by my belief that just because a character might be racist or homophobic or say racist or homophobic things does not, in any way make the writers or director racist/homophobic or the work racist/homophobic, or the people who like the work racist/homophobic.

But this is what happens in the latter part of Phase 1 and Phase 2. The Oscar narrative, the noise, the backlash--almost always become louder than the film.  The question I ask myself every year...do I get involved in the noise? Or do I say focused on the films at hand. I think I will keep my involvement to a minimum.

Perhaps if "Call Me By Your Name" was the frontrunner and we saw more of what I saw posted from Fox News a few days ago or an article I read at the Boston Globe yesterday, both completely misrepresenting the relationship between Elio and Oliver, I might get a little more heated. The reality is there are people who don't understand consent, and I am not the one to explain it to them. I will continue to champion the film, and that's that. For now.

I will begin my "27 Days of Oscar" piece on February 6th. When I started that series ages ago it was inspired by "31 Days of Oscar" on TCM. Why 27 days? Well, the inspiration came 27 days before the Oscars, so I went with it. I will chronicle my experience watching the 19 feature films and 15 shorts that I have yet to see while also breaking down each category.

Near the end I will publish my Top 10 Scenes of the 2017 (although this might be a bit difficult as I haven't really been thinking in those terms this year...we'll see) as well as the Top Performances of 2017. Will I do Television this year? That had been my intention, but I watch so little television these days that I feel like it would be an uninformed list. I haven't watched "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" for instance or even "The Handmaid's Tale!"

Before I get to watching the Oscar nominated films, I have the pleasure of voting for the Dorian Awards and the Independent Spirit Awards. So, I will be watching those nominated films first. I also have the Oxford Film Festival coming up on February 7th, where I will be presenting the LGBTQ films I programmed along with a short film I acted in as well as participating in the readings of the screenplay competition winners. It is an exciting time.

Let's look at what I need to see for the Spirits and the Dorian Awards.

Dorian Awards
I was invited to join the GALECA (the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association) a bit late to the game, so I won't be able to watch everything that I've missed. I'm going to be a good voter and only vote in categories in which I've seen every nominated film. SO...a reasonable ish slate would be the following:

Girls Trip
Since I started writing this yesterday, I watched "Girls Trip." I haven't laughed so hard in ages. And yes, Tiffany Haddish is hilarious. It would've been great to see her nominated for an Oscar, but I get why she wasn't. Look...Melissa McCarthy had already proven beyond a doubt that she can do pretty much anything by the time "Bridesmaids" came out. Can Haddish? We shall see. I'm not saying that justifies her not being nominated. I'm just saying, that when it comes to the Academy nominating broad comedy, there are unspoken requirements beyond giving one of the best performance of the year.

Voting ends on Sunday the 28th, so I should be able to to see these 3 at least.

First They Killed My Father
The Square
Thelma

Spirit Awards
The spirits are going to be a totally different beast. For one thing, although I've gotten lots of screeners, I still don't think I'll be able to see everything in every category. Let's break this down. One thing of note. "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" is the only major nominee that has not sent out a screener. Does that mean something? Maybe.

If nothing is listed beside the film, that means I have a screener. Otherwise, I have to decide whether or not to make an extra effort to get the film or simply not vote in the category. I can tell you right now that if I don't get a copy of "A Ciambra" I will still vote for Luca Guadagnino for Best Director. Otherwise (for example, the John Cassavetes award) I will probably not vote in a category of which I haven't seen multiple nominees. Listed below are the films I still need to see per category. Wish me luck!!

BEST FEATURE

The Rider

BEST FIRST FEATURE
Columbus
Ingrid Goes West
Menashe
Oh Lucy!
Patti Cake$ (redbox)

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD – Given to the best feature made for under $500,000. (Award given to the writer, director and producer. Executive Producers are not awarded.)

Dayveon (?)
Life and nothing more
Most Beautiful Island (?)
The Transfiguration (?)
BEST DIRECTOR

Jonas Carpignano, A Ciambra (sent email)
Chloé Zhao, The Rider

BEST SCREENPLAY

Azazel Jacobs
The Lovers
Mike White
Beatriz at Dinner (redbox)

BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY

Kris Avedisian
Story By: Kyle Espeleta, Jesse Wakeman
Donald Cried
Ingrid Jungermann
Women Who Kill

Kogonada
Columbus

David Branson Smith, Matt Spicer
Ingrid Goes West

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Thimios Bakatakis
The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Elisha Christian
Columbus
Joshua James Richards
The Rider

BEST EDITING

Alex O’Flinn
The Rider

BEST FEMALE LEAD

Salma Hayek
Beatriz at Dinner (redbox)
Shinobu Terajima
Oh Lucy!

Regina Williams
Life and nothing more

BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE

Lois Smith
Marjorie Prime

BEST SUPPORTING MALE

Nnamdi Asomugha
Crown Heights

Barry Keoghan
The Killing of a Sacred Deer

BEST DOCUMENTARY (Award given to the director and producer)

The Departure (?)
Director/Producer: Lana Wilson

Faces Places (?)
Directors: Agnés Varda, JR
Producer: Rosalie Varda

Last Men in Aleppo
Director: Feras Fayyad
Producers: Kareem Abeed, Søeren Steen Jespersen, Stefan Kloos

Motherland
Director/Producer: Ramona S. Diaz
Producer: Rey Cuerdo

Quest
Director: Jonathan Olshefski
Producer: Sabrina Schmidt Gordon

BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM (Award given to the director)
I Am Not a Witch
Zambia
Director: Rungano Nyoni

Lady Macbeth
U.K.
Director: William Oldroyd

BONNIE AWARD – Bonnie Tiburzi Caputo joined American Airlines in 1973 at age 24, becoming the first female pilot to fly for a major U.S. airline. In her honor, the inaugural Bonnie Award will recognize a mid-career female director with a $50,000 unrestricted grant, sponsored by American Airlines.

So Yong Kim
Lynn Shelton
Chloé Zhao

KIEHL’S SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD – The 24th annual Someone to Watch Award, funded by Kiehl’s Since 1851, recognizes a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by Kiehl’s Since 1851.

Amman Abbasi
Director of Dayveon

Justin Chon
Director of Gook (?)

Kevin Phillips
Director of Super Dark Times (amazon)

PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD – The 21st annual Producers Award, funded by Piaget, honors emerging producers who, despite highly limited resources, demonstrate the creativity, tenacity and vision required to produce quality, independent films. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by Piaget.

Giulia Caruso & Ki Jin Kim
Ben LeClair
Summer Shelton

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