Monday, January 29, 2018

Voting for the Dorian Awards (Thelma and First They Killed My Father), London Film Critics and Art Directors Guild awards

It's been a few days since I've posted, but I have certainly been busy. Last night at midnight was the deadline for the Dorian Awards voting and I wanted to make sure I saw as many of the nominated films as possible. I didn't end up voting in the Documentary category, which smarts, but I wanted to be a responsible voter. I wonder how many Academy members think like that.

I'm not sure exactly how much I should say here about my personal voting process, but I will say this. I understand how both Armie Hammer and Michael Stuhlbarg were snubbed for the Oscars. Granted, Woody and Sam both got in for "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri," but we are talking about a much smaller, less seen film with "Call Me By Your Name." Picking one for my win was like "Sophie's Choice." But I had to choose. And I'll leave it at that.

Two things of some significance happened since I last posted. The London Film Critics Awards announced their winners as well as the Art Directors Guild awards.

Let's start with ADG winners:

Best Period Film
The Shape of Water

Best Fantasy Film
Blade Runner 2049

Best Contemporary Film

Best Animated Film

You would think these awards might give the edge to those films in regard to the Oscars, and they might, but I've been will "Dunkirk" perform at the Oscars. This was the film that was supposed to win Best Picture and finally give Nolan a Best Director win. This is the Academy though and he hadn't ever been nominated. They will probably pull a Spielberg with Nolan...he'll get snubbed a few more times, not win a couple of more times, and then, bam, he wins. Gerwig has a much stronger chance of surprises for Best Director.

But I digress...ADG/Production Design!

"Dunkirk" lost Best Period Film to "The Shape of Water" at the ADG, but that is a smaller group, similar to the nominating branch at the Academy. The entire Academy votes at the Oscars.

This is where predictions are going to be difficult, y'all. These categories are going to be SO hard to predict. Will they spread the wealth? Will there be a "Shape of Water" sweep. There hasn't been a sweep in AGES. Last year we all predicted...well, some of us predicted a "La La Land" sweep, and we were wrong. Very wrong.

Now...with London...they went with "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" for Best Film. Without even looking I can tell you that there are people out there saying that the Brits were probably entertained at the idea that Americans are bumbling, hateful racists and subsequently awarded it. That just doesn't make any sense to me.

People have really lost sight of what this film is about. The loss of a daughter, the grief of her Mother and why her murderer has yet to be found. Amongst other things as well. They probably voted for it because they liked it! But remember, the Academy is a weighted ballot, which means a divisive film is unlikely to win. It's probably going to be "The Shape of Water."

On another note, Timothee Chalamet won Best Actor. He has won New York, Los Angeles and now London critics. I'm hoping that he will win the Dorian Award and the Spirit Award (although this could go to Daniel Kaluuya) as well. Most of us know who gave the best male performance of the year, and it's Timothee. I'm guessing that people who vote for someone else might also know they are giving a career win despite another actor giving a better performance.

SO...what's next for Awards Wiz? I have a very busy week ahead.

I'm going to be interviewing the directors of the nominated foreign films the week of February 5th, while also attending the Oxford Film Festival. That means I must watch the rest of the nominated Foreign Films! I have 3 to go, which isn't so bad. Last night I watched "The Square" and will reserve my thoughts for later.

I also plan to watch "Call Me By Your Name" one more time in the theater as well as revisit "Beautiful Thing" for my Awards Daily piece on Queer Cinema. I am hoping to interview Peter Spears, CMBYN's producer as well as Timothee Chalamet, which will require some serious prep as not to sound like a total fanboy!

Not to mention watching the films nominated for the Spirit Awards! It will all happen. It always does.

I did want to say a couple of things about the two films I watched for the Dorian Awards that didn't make the cut for the Academy. Those are "Thelma" and "First They Killed My Father."

"Thelma" was nuts. I'm going to put the trailer below and let you get a sense of what it's about. Thelma is from a very religious family. Thelma may have some sort of powers. And when Thelma does "bad" things like kiss women and drink these powers seem to surface. It's a very interesting work that seems to be saying a LOT about religion, homophobia, revenge...and more. It's gorgeous and well acted. Although I found it a bit of a mess, it is absolutely worth your time.

 Then there is "First They Killed My Father" directed by Angelina Jolie.

I hated that it took me so long to see this movie, but having enjoyed much of it, I totally see why it didn't make the short list of 9. It's well shot, it's well acted. It's an important story. I was immediately drawn into the relevance of the film when we see through archival footage, Nixon, saying that the reason we went into Cambodia was to help them help themselves.  And then we abandoned them. Sound familiar? If not, think--invasion of Iraq.

As the film went along there were so many wonderful moments, particularly involving the very talented young actress, Sareum Srey Moch who plays Loung, the young child forced after the separation from her family to become a soldier.

As affecting as much of the film is, something did not connect with me in the way "Beasts of No Nation" did, and I am not sure why. It felt like surface emotion, v/s guttural emotion, if that makes sense.

Again, check it out though.

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