Tag Archives: Oscars

Golden Eagle: Foxcatcher’s American Dream

Foxcatcher might be Bennett Miller’s best film to date, and even if that’s not the case, it certainly seems to be his most thematically accomplished. Much like Capote and Moneyball before it, Foxcatcher appears to be fascinated with outsiders, people that are viewed as second best, never quite living up to the expectations put upon them. However, the thing that seems to set Foxcatcher apart from Miller’s previous efforts is the way that it considers the bigger picture; it treats these characters and their situations as a microcosmic picture of the American Dream, and the toxic reality of the situation, something more akin to an American Nightmare than anything else.

The idea of the American Dream, that anyone can get anything if they aspire to greatness and put in the work, is perfectly embodied in Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum). The thing with Mark is, even though he wins gold medals, he still doesn’t feel like a champion, he doesn’t have that independence and self-assuredness you’d expect from a man who, theoretically at least, has the American Dream within his grasp. Well the reason for that is simple; in reality, the “American Dream” doesn’t create those things in people that never really seemed to have them. John du Pont (Steve Carell) says that Mark has spent his “whole life in [his] brother’s shadow,” and to be blunt, he’s right. In fact, du Pont appears to be a gateway for Mark to get that American Dream, the money and the independence and the sense that he, as a human being, is worth the fruits of his labour, especially given du Pont’s fascination on the nation’s need for role models, and making Team Foxcatcher “citizens of America.”

John Du Pont is another man who seems to have everything, but in reality appears to lead a rather hollow existence. He and Mark seem rather like kindred spirits, constantly reaching for something that moves further and further away from their grasp. Much like Mark, he lives in someone else’s shadow; the shadow of his mother, Jean (Vanessa Redgrave), a woman from whom he needs to ask permission on where to put a trophy. John du Pont is a man that seems to embody the very notion of the American Dream, or at least someone that wants to. He pontificates on the role of the coach, considers himself to be a father and a mentor to his athletes, a role model for them, which is something that he thinks America needs. He’s so patriotic he even tries to get Mark to call him “Golden Eagle.”

So, if between them these two men have Olympic gold medals and a countless amount of money, then what’s the big deal? Why can’t these men get the ideal that seemed to be promised to them by their very nation? Because, unfortunately, the American Dream doesn’t work like that, getting these things, the money and the glory, doesn’t mean you have it all. Foxcatcher’s version of the American Dream is one that doesn’t stop, even once these people seem to have everything, and they need to have more. Du Pont has money, and therefore wants glory in the form of Team Foxcatcher; Mark has glory in the form of a gold medal and then gets money by working with du Pont, but at the same time, he needs more, he needs freedom from the shadow of his brother. That’s where the toxic, almost self-destructive reality of Foxcatcher’s version of the American Dream begins to emerge.

When Mark loses a round at the Olympic tryouts, he goes back to his hotel room, and in true Raging Bull fashion – a comparison I will admit I’m far from the first to make – destroys his room, binges on room service and then makes himself vomit. It isn’t easy to watch; first of all because its raw and brutal, and also because it shows what happens when these people can’t have it all: they become angry and destructive, something that leaves an even more bitter taste in the mouth given the futility of their efforts.

The interesting difference between du Pont and Mark (two men who seem remarkably, perhaps even frighteningly similar in their ways) is how they manifest their anger. Mark is self-destructive, but John takes his anger out on the world at large. Upon discovering no members of Team Foxcatcher are training in the gym, he hits Mark and calls him an “ungrateful ape.” So given the futility of their endeavours and the chilling results of those failures, why do John and Mark keep fighting for this American Dream? Well, because they have to; they seem to think that, as Americans this is their right and they fight tooth and nail for it. From the very beginning of the film, Mark seems in instil in his medal a certain a sense of grandeur, he says that “it isn’t just a medal, it’s what the medal represents,” and that’s what it is that these men are after, something greater, something that can’t be given corporeal form the way a medal or money can, and what could perhaps be called the tragedy of Foxcatcher is the lengths that they’ll go to try and get it, as well as what they’ll do to liberate themselves from failing to do so.


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Updated 2013-14 Oscar predictions

I haven’t made any Oscar predictions since the very beginning of the season (other than a short piece about some of the films coming out of Cannes), but that can probably just be attributed to a general silence on the blog for a while, something I hoping to rectify soon, especially with awards season – which I always enjoy – is reaching it’s peak.

Given it’s reaching the end of the year and all of the major awards contenders have been seen, bar a few like The Wolf of Wall Street and Foxcatcher, but by now I think the latter of those two won’t be around this season (although I may have read something to the contrary a little while ago, there’s been utter silence in terms of news about it for a while), then it seems now is as good a time as any to do a revised, which will hopefully prove to be more accurate than my predictions from the beginning of the season, which included nominations for films like The Fifth Estate and Diana.

Best Picture

12 Years a Slave
American Hustle
Saving Mr. Banks
Captain Phillips
The Wolf of Wall Street
Inside Llewyn Davis
Dallas Buyers Club

At this point most Best Picture ballots will probably all look like that, with Her being a surprising pick, although it seems more than possible after the groundswell of support it’s received from critics groups over the last week or so. There are a few films that, while not on this list of ten, are very Academy friendly, and so their rather middle of the road critical reception may not get in the way, and of all the films like that, the most likely to try to get into Best Picture is August: Osage County, with it’s award-winning credentials (Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning play) and A-list cast (Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts and the like), it might just creep in. Blue Jasmine is also a possibility given Woody tends to receive nominations when he’s on form, and given this may be his best film of the last few years, the Academy might want to reward him for it with a Best Picture nomination.

Best Director

Alfonso Cuaron for Gravity
Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave
Alexander Payne for Nebraska
Paul Greengrass for Captain Phillips
David O. Russell for American Hustle

There are plenty of other contenders here, given that it’s in general been a strong year, and there have been some surprise critics winners (again, Her is suddenly in the conversation here), but these seem like fairly safe bets, given some of them have received nominations in the past (Russell, Greengrass and Payne), and something like Gravity just seems like a pick that’s “edgy” and “different” by Academy standards, so they might just go for it.

Best Actor

Chiwetel Ejiofor for 12 Years a Slave
Tom Hanks for Captain Phillips
Bruce Dern for Nebraska
Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club
Robert Redford for All Is Lost

Perhaps the major surprise here is Redford, given that, although his performance is the strongest aspect of All Is Lost, it seemed to lose a lot of momentum after its release and the early raves for Redford, especially since there were no other major awards people were saying it should be nominated for (although Chandor’s direction is excellent), and until the NYFCC winners, he seemed like he was out of the race entirely (presumably to be replaced by Leonardo DiCaprio for The Wolf of Wall Street), but the win there has suddenly thrust him back into the conversation.

Best Actress

Sandra Bullock for Gravity
Meryl Street for August: Osage County
Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine
Emma Thompson for Saving Mr. Banks
Judi Dench for Philomena

While this list looks like most others at this point in the season, Best Actress is stronger this year than it’s been in quite a while, and there are plenty of performances that could sneak in (my gut is telling me that Streep and Dench are the most vulnerable to taken out), given Amy Adams has received acclaim for her turn in American Hustle, and many would say that she’s due for a leading nomination after several in Best Supporting Actress. And then there’s indie darling Frances Ha (which is unlikely, but not impossible, Gerwig’s performance is excellent, and if the screenplay gets in, there’s the chance that the Academy notice the strength of the performance too), and Julie Delpy in Before Midnight, which also, rather disappointingly, seems unlikely, but it would certainly be a pleasant surprise if she got in.

Best Supporting Actor

Will Forte for Nebraska
Michael Fassbender for 12 Years a Slave
Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club
Jonah Hill for The Wolf of Wall Street
Brakhad Abdi for Captain Phillips

Jonah Hill is an interesting one here, given many are saying that his work in Wolf… is the best performance of his career, and he does have a prior Oscar nomination (Moneyball), yet  at the same time, the sheer number of performances worthy of consideration could knock him off. There’s Tom Hanks in Saving Mr. Banks, which the Academy will probably love, and the late great James Gandolfini’s superb work in Enough Said which has gotten more notice after the critics groups (although his categorization as a supporting actor is debatable). While Abdi may be on the outside looking in on most ballots, I had to include him in my top five here simply because his performance is so good that I couldn’t justify not having it there.

Best Supporting Actress

Oprah for Lee Daniels’ The Butler
Jennifer Lawrence for American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o for 12 Years a Slave
Octavia Spencer for Fruitvale Station
Jane Squibb for Nebraska

Squibb seems to have come out of nowhere, but all of a sudden she has quite a bit of momentum behind her, although I feel like she’s vulnerable to being knocked off, perhaps by someone like Julia Roberts (or one of the other women, maybe Margo Martindale, in August: Osage County) or, to make a brave/ridiculous (delete as appropriate) claim, if the Academy take to Her as strongly as the critics did, Johansson could get in for her voice performance, which would certainly be an interesting turn of events.

Best Original Screenplay

Blue Jasmine, by Woody Allen
Inside Llewyn Davis, by Joel and Eathan Coen
Nebraska, by Bob Nelson
Her, by Spike Jonze
American Hustle, by David O. Russell and Eric Singer

There are some other contenders here, like Gravity, but it doesn’t really have the support the film’s other aspects do; the film with the best chance of breaking in here is probably Saving Mr. Banks, although this list of five seems rather strong, although where Banks has a shot is that there’s no typically “Academy” fare, except perhaps the mere presence of Woody Allen, but the films themselves don’t really cry out to the taste of the Academy members, so that could help Banks sneak in.

Best Adapted Screenplay

12 Years a Slave, by John Ridley
Before Midnight, by Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy and Richard Linklater
The Wolf of Wall Street, by Terrence Winter
Captain Phillips, by Billy Ray
Philomena, by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope

I feel like the fact Before Midnight has unfortunately run out of awards momentum makes it perilously vulnerable, which is a shame because it’s a wonderful film and I’d love to see it get a nomination somewhere. I suppose the question becomes; what would replace it? Adapted Screenplay doesn’t feel as packed with contenders as the other categories, although it’s possible that August: Osage County could get in, but beyond that, I’m not really sure what could take the slot from Before Midnight.

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Best Leading Actor? – Categories and Campaigning at the Oscars

Yesterday, I learned on Twitter (via Gold Derby) that for their respective performances in Nebraska and Foxcatcher, Bruce Dern and Steve Carell would both be campaigning in Best Leading Actor. Now, whether or not this will stay true through the entirety of the season I don’t know, but it does raise an interesting question about categories and campaigns: what motivates actors (and studios of course) to change their category up or down?

Sometimes there’s the issue of ‘splitting votes’, wherein if two (or more) actors are nominated in the same category, that the votes being split across some or all of them will cause the film in general to go unrewarded. A friend of mine argued that the sheer number of actors nominated in Best Supporting Actor for The Godfather in 1972 – there were three, Paccino, Duvall and Caan – is a factor in Joel Grey winning for Cabaret – the sheer number of performances nominated for The Godfather that the vote was split three ways, and no individual performer had enough support to win. This kind of thing is what tends to cause films with multiple leading actors to drop one of them down into supporting instead. It happened with The Master; while the film was unseen everyone’s ballots had both of its main men (Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix) in Best Leading Actor, then as more was learned about the film, people thought Hoffman would go leading, and then once the film was released, and campaigns began, it was instead Joaquin who campaigned in leading and Hoffman – in spite of the size of his role, went into supporting, in theory because if both were nominated in Best Leading Actor (which probably would have happened had they both submitted there), the chance of either of them winning would have been even less likely.

This is exactly the kind of predicament being faced by all of the leading men in Nebraska and Foxcatcher; the former has both Will Forte and Bruce Dern in Leading, and the latter has Steve Carell and Channing Tatum. Whether or not it will stay like this remains to be seen, but I wouldn’t be surprised if both films had one of their leads campaign in supporting.

Similar thoughts have arisen with reference to Meryl Streep’s performance in August: Osage County, and the rumours that she will campaign in supporting. Of course, the issue of vote splitting in Best Leading Actress (between her and Julia Roberts) is an issue, as it would be in supporting (between her and Margo Martindale). Perhaps the difference is, if Meryl were to campaign in supporting, she’d be more likely to win; she has the second biggest role in the play that Osage County is being adapted from, and easily the showiest, playing a matriarch that spirals out of control and becomes addicted to prescription drugs.

Taking Meryl as an example, it’s clear that sometimes changing the category of your performance can be done to more easily secure a win for the performer in question. Some call it ‘category fraud’, and these were accusations levelled at the feet of Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s campaign for The Master, although sometimes it is just good sense to not have your performances clash. It could be selling the film and its performances short, but it can sometimes be necessary  Of course, with Meryl, and indeed with all of the performers I’ve mentioned from this season, the notion of the categories is still utterly hypothetical, but it has given a chance for me to, however briefly, touch on vote splits and the idea of securing an ‘easy win’ for an actor.

What do you think? Was The Master category fraud? How will Dern, Carell and Meryl campaign? Have your say in the comments.

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Oscar contenders from the Cannes Film Festival

I’ll be the first to admit I’m late to the party here, especially given my rather frequent posts about the Oscars, but as they say, better late than never (I’ve had other commitments impeding my rate of blogging).

Of course, with the Cannes film festival behind us, a slew of new films have been revealed to us, and it’s often the case that Cannes films can do very well at the Oscars (The Artist went on to win several awards after a warm reception at Cannes). And so here, I’ll simply make a post that briefly mentions each film, and how it was received, and the awards it could be up for (I suppose that’s the issue with writing about films one doesn’t get a chance to see, it’s difficult to give in-depth coverage and analysis on them). As ever, I’ll only be doing ‘major’ awards (picture, acting, directing and writing), since I must say I’m not the most knowledgeable on tech and craft categories, especially given I haven’t seen the movies.

The Past (Asghar Farhadi)

Following up the exceptional A Separation was never going to be an easy task, but if the Cannes responses are anything to go by, Farhadi has admirably succeeded in crafting his follow-up feature. As with the aforementioned film (which was nominated for Original Screenplay and won Foreign Language Film), it appears that The Past is another drama about the secrets and lies of a family, and it’s been praised for it’s intricacy in terms of writing and performance, as well as being one of the best reviewed films of the festival.

Potential nominations

Best Picture
Best Actress – Berenice Bejo
Best Original Screenplay – Asghar Fahradi and Massoumeh Lahidji
Best Foreign Language Film

Inside Llewyn Davis (Joel & Ethan Coen)

The Coen brothers are Oscar darlings (having won four and being nominated for a further nine), so it’s safe to say that this one could be making a splash come awards season, and that’s what people have been saying prior to the film’s first screenings. Perhaps what’s most interesting about it is that now people have seen the film, the buzz for John Goodman and Carey Mulligan to be nominated in Best Supporting Actor/Actress seem to have diminished given the size of their roles (so while neither of them will be on this list, they’ll likely be in the back of people’s minds throughout the season, and campaigning could bring them back to the forefront).
On the other hand, more has been made of Oscar Isaac’s performance (having made himself aware to many, myself included with his excellent work in Drive) and there’s talk of a potential Best Actor nomination stemming from this.

Potential nominations

Best Picture
Best Director – Joel and Ethan Coen
Best Actor – Oscar Isaac
Best Original Screenplay – Joel and Ethan Coen


Only God Forgives (Nicolas Winding Refn)

Speaking of Oscar Isaac and Drive, now seems as good as time as any to delve into the latest opus by it’s celebrated director Nicolas Winding Refn. Although perhaps in the context of his latest film, Only God Forgives, celebrated isn’t the best word to use, given it’s been much more polarising than Drive and, dare I say it, even a little poorly received (Refn said in an interview he thinks people will “come around” to it like they did with Drive, but from what I read when it was released, people were enamoured with Drive rather quickly, so I’ll need to disagree with him there.).
One aspect of the film that seems to be universally praised its Kristin Scott Thomas’ role as a malicious matriarch (Jacki Weaver was nominated a similar type of woman a few years back for the slightly underwhelming Animal Kingdom), so it could have a chance there.

Potential nominations

Best Supporting Actress – Kristin Scott Thomas


Nebraska (Alexander Payne)

Between The Descendants (which I really liked) and Sideways (which I really hated), I think it’s safe to say the Academy are growing fairly fond of Alexander Payne. Critics, on the other hand, seem less fond of his latest opus, Nebraska. It’s been called overly-familiar as a film and inessential within Payne’s body of work, so I don’t see it surviving the long road to a Best Picture nomination.
He has, on the other hand, won two for Adapted screenplay (the two aforementioned films) as well as another nomination in the category for Election. So normally I’d be saying that this’ll definitely get a writing nod, but what’s interesting is that:
– it’s an original screenplay (whereas all his academy recognition has come in the adapted category).
– it wasn’t written by Payne.
I still wouldn’t be surprised if it got in there though, if just because there’s something of an association of Payne films and screenplay nominations. And of course, there’s Bruce Dern, a veteran actor who is said to give a very strong performance here (although some claimed it could be over-praised due to Academy politics and Dern’s lack of a nomination in a long career), so I wouldn’t be surprised if he slipped in.

Potential nominations

Best Actor – Bruce Dern
Best Original Screenplay – Bob Nelson


Blue Is The Warmest Colour (Abdellatif Kechiche)

Being the first LGBT-themed film to win the prestigious Palme D’or, it’s safe to say that a lot is being written about Blue Is The Warmest Colour. But given the fact it’s in a foreign language, has a three hour running time and explicit sex, it feels like it could be  out of the wheelhouse for the Academy, who have something of a tendency to be set in their ways (although they do have a fondness for awarding LGBT roles, like Sean Penn in Milk or Hillary Swank in Boys Don’t Cry), it might be a tough sell.
I’ve read some things that say that say Lea Seydoux deserves a nomination, but I feel like if there’s going to be a foreign language performance in an acting category (which the Academy seemed to have started doing – Riva in Amour, Javier Bardem in Biutiful and Marion Cotillard in La Vie En Rose), I feel like they’ll choose to reward Bejo for The Past, it seems like a safer pick.

Potential nominations

Best Actress – Lea Seydoux
Best Foreign Language Film


Some under the radar picks

There were a few movies at Cannes that got good reception, but no major awards buzz about themselves, but there’s something about the way they were received, and the prestige of some of the cast and crew that make me feel like there’s a chance that the following films could get in somewhere (although where they might get in is not something I feel I can predict at this moment in time).
Only Lovers Left Alive (Jim Jarmusch)
Venus in Fur (Roman Polanski)
The Immigrant (James Gray)

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I’ll admit I have a problem: early 2014 Oscar predictions

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a bit of an addict in terms of awards season. I love it for a multitude of reasons, but that’s the subject of a totally different post. So here, I figure I’ll present my earliest list of predictions, assuming 10 nominees for Best Picture. And do keep in mind this post will just be a list, since so many of these performances are unseen, it doesn’t seem like there’s quite enough to say about them yet. I’ll also be predicting a winner in each category, which will be put in bold.

Best Picture

The Monuments Men
Inside Llewyn Davis
August: Osage County
Labour Day
The Wolf of Wall Street
The Counsellor
Twelve Years a Slave

Best Director

Alexander Payne for Nebraska
Steve McQueen for Twelve Years a Slave
Martin Scorsese for The Wolf of Wall Street
Alfonso Cuaron for Gravity
George Clooney for The Monuments Men

Best Actor

Bruce Dern for Nebraska
Benedict Cumberbatch for The Fifth Estate
Tom Hanks for Captain Phillips or Saving Mr. Banks
Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club
Steve Carrel for Foxcatcher

Best Actress

Emma Thompson for Saving Mr. Banks
Naomi Watts for Diana
Nicole Kidman for Grace of Monaco
Sandra Bullock for Gravity
Meryl Streep for August: Osage County

Best Supporting Actor

Ryan Gosling for The Place Beyond the Pines
Michael Fassbender for Twelve Years a Slave
Josh Brolin for Labour Day
Ewan McGregor for August: Osage County
Mark Ruffalo for Foxcatcher

Best Supporting Actress

Carey Mulligan for The Great Gatsby or Inside Llewyn Davis
Margo Martindale for August: Osage County
Amy Adams for Untitled David O. Russell Project
Cameron Diaz for The Counsellor
Jennifer Garner for Dallas Buyers Club

Best Original Screenplay

Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig for Frances Ha
Woody Allen for Blue Jasmine
Alexander Payne for Nebraska
Alfonso Cuaron and Jonas Cuaron for Gravity
Cormac McCarthy for The Counsellor

Best Adapted Screenplay

Tracy Letts for August: Osage County
Jason Reitman for Labour Day
Josh Singer for The Fifth Estate
George Clooney for The Monuments Men
Terence Winter for The Wolf of Wall Street

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2012-13 Season

My predictions and commentary on the 2012-13 Awards season, leading up to the Oscars.

Final Oscar winner predictions

Reaction to the Oscar Nominees

Oscar Nomination Liveblog

Final Academy Award Predictions

For Your Consideration – Denis Lavant

Updated Predictions – the Season Begins

Post-Cannes Oscar predictions

Pre-Cannes Oscar predictions

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SONSOFBITCHES Blogathon – A Decade of Oscar Snubs

So, with the Oscars around the corner (these are my final predictions on the winners), I saw the idea of a blogathon on Oscar snubs over here, and I decided that I’d do my own list of the most despicable Oscar snubs of the last decade.

2012 – Denis Lavant (Best Actor – Holy Motors)

Perhaps the best performance I’ve seen all year, and one my favourite male performances of many, many years, the excellence of Lavant’s performance in the French mindfuck that is Holy Motors simply cannot be understated. The performance is nothing short of a transformation in every sense of the word. Lavant embodies around 12 different characters, each of them note perfect, and what is even more fascinating is that, whenever he returns to his ‘main’ persona, a man called Oscar, the strain on him is fascinating, as he himself seemingly becomes more unaware of where the performance ends and the man begins.

2011 – Nicolas Winding Refn (Best Director – Drive)

Ah, Drive. I’m gonna come clean here: I didn’t expect to like Drive. In spite of glowing reviews and word of mouth (particularly in regard to Gosling, who, Blue Valentine or not, I’m still not sold on as the talent so many say he is), I was utterly indifferent to the whole thing leading up to watching it. But boy was I wrong. Not only does Drive contain Gosling’s best performance to date, but the work that Refn does in making this film not only come alive, but stand out as an excellent achievement in terms of filmmaking and visual style. I dare say that Refn is the reason that I wound up loving this film as much as I do.

2010 – Barbara Hershey (Best Supporting Actress – Black Swan)

Black Swan was one of my favourite films of the last few years, from the fluid cinematography, the assured directions and Portman’s landmark, and, to use that often overused term, ‘career defining’ performance. But you know who got left out of the spotlight? Barbara Hershey. Lots of people seemed to single out Mila Kunis, although why they did so was a mystery (perhaps it was like with Adam Sandler in Punch-Drunk Love and everyone was just shocked that he could actually act). Hershey’s performance as the driven to a fault stage mother, alternating sickly sweet and sickeningly smothering, is a fascinating and somewhat unnerving sight to behold. Perhaps she has her daughter’s best intentions at heart, or perhaps she’s compensating for her own failed career. An enigma of a character that fits perfectly into the twisted, duality focused world of Black Swan.

2009 – Tom Ford (Best Director – A Single Man)

When I first watched A Single Man, I had no idea what to expect. I’d heard that Firth’s performance was critically adored (and rightly so, he’s better here than he was in The King’s Speech) so that was my main motivator for the film. But I was utterly blown away by it, by the heart-rending silence and subtlety and the ingenious use of colour that Ford’s direction brings to film. Proving that silence can speak much louder than words, Tom Ford created a gentle, heartbreaking and beautiful film.

2008 – Evan Rachel Wood (Best Supporting Actress – The Wrestler)

The Wrestler is very much a film of lost character, and while Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson, Rourke’s faded wrestler lost in a world outside the ring is the core of the film, and perhaps that theme, his estranged daughter Stephanie fits that bill very well. There is something about her interactions with her father, the bitterness is of course genuine, but at the same time, there just seems to be something about her that is missing, and something is not her father now, but rather, her father when she was a child. Her loss has manifested in this anger towards him, and there is something very raw and powerful about that.

2007 – Tom Swartwout (Best Film Editing – Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead)

The beauty of the editing that Swartwout does in Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead lies in the way that it mirrors the mentality of its characters. These characters are frantic, every second taking them closer and closer to their breaking points, and it is here that the editing succeeds. A mirror of the way these characters are being pushed to the edge, it is an exceptional piece of work that truly helps to elevate the film.

2006 – Laura Dern (Best Actress – Inland Empire)

In the bizarre, surreal nightmare of Inland Empire, Laura Dern may have given us the best ever embodiment of one of David Lynch’s favourite character types – the woman in trouble. Cast as an actress in a cursed film, Dern’s descent into paranoia and madness is utterly engrossing, the range and depth of her performance is incredible. From her loss and desperation, to a strange, understated malice (perhaps best seen in this incredible monologue). Perhaps a little like Holy MotorsInland Empire was a film that’s a little too… Odd, shall we say, for the Academy’s sensibility, but the sheer power of her performance warranted considering, even though Lynch’s campaign for it, was, well… David Lynch.

2005 – Robert Rodriguez (Best Cinematography – Sin City)

Now, I probably could have picked him for directing Sin City rather than shooting it, but for me, the way that the film is shot is the cornerstone of it’s style and tone. Using a colour scheme that I’ve known people to describe as “black and white with lots of red”, the colour scheme and the shots are incredible, creating the sleaze ridden and blood drenched underworld that is Sin City, and presenting it with tonal and atmospheric perfection.

2004 – Patrick Marber (Best Adapted Screenplay – Closer)

In adapting his own, incredibly written Broadway play, Marber has done perhaps the best thing that can be done when creating a cinematic adaptation of a play – and that’s to make it, well a little cinematic. Now this does mean sacrificing some of the staging conventions of the original (something that didn’t work in the film adaptation of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?), it retains the stripped back nature that simply allows Marber to draw attention to his words, and boy oh boy are those words exceptional.

2003 – Gus Van Sant (Best Director – Elephant)

Watching Elephant was an interesting experience for me. I watched it in an A Level class (there were about 6 of us). No one else liked it. They bemoaned the lack of dialogue and ‘action’. But for me, these were obviously Van Sant’s intention. To create a strange and detached feeling, to distance the audience, perhaps making those final moments all the more disturbing. Slow burning and disturbing, Elephant crawls under your skin and won’t come back out.



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