Category Archives: Showbiz

MTV Awards No Longer Rewarding Just Movies

mtv_movie_awards

After rewarding movies only for 25 years, the MTV Awards are now including television nominees. The actual award may no longer be the bucket of popcorn.

The MTV Movie Awards have been a source of intrigue of mine for many years. Sure, I have an interest in the Oscar race and the Golden Globes but I like the MTVs as they would deliver surprising results. Even if I was disgusted with what won what category, it would still capture my intrigue.

This year is a new chapter in the awards. After 25 years, they are no longer giving awards to movies only. This time they are making their awards a mix of both movies and television. It’s a question of why. Some would say it’s because the Movie Awards in past years have been sagging in the ratings. Some would argue these are an awards that’s just there, without any legitimate relevance. Others would say that MTV having an awards for TV are long overdue. I admit I too thought there should be an MTV television awards many years ago consisting of categories of MTV shows and shows from other networks.

This year, there is a change in the way of doing things. For the first time, television shows and performances are included in an MTV awards show. However the awards are part of the movie awards; kind of like the Golden Globes. Unlike the Golden Globes which has all their movie and television categories separate, the MTVs have a mix of movie-only categories, TV-only categories and categories where movie and TV performances are mixed together. Those would be categories like Best Kiss, Best Villain, Best Hero and Best Comedic Performance. However some categories from the movie awards days had to be taken away like the Best Breakthrough Performance, Best Fight and Best WTF Moment. As for nominations, Get Out is the most-nominated film and Stranger Things is the most-nominated show.

Anyways here are the nominees for this year’s MTV Movie and TV Awards. Categories where movie performances and TV performances are mixed together are marked with an asterisk:

MOVIE OF THE YEAR

  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Get Out
  • Logan
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  • The Edge of Seventeen

BEST ACTOR IN A MOVIE

  • Daniel Kaluuya – Get Out
  • Emma Watson – Beauty and the Beast
  • Hailee Steinfeld – The Edge of Seventeen
  • Hugh Jackman – Logan
  • James McAvoy – Split
  • Taraji P. Henson – Hidden Figures

SHOW OF THE YEAR      

  • Atlanta
  • Game of Thrones
  • Insecure
  • Pretty Little Liars
  • Stranger Things    
  • This Is Us      

BEST ACTOR IN A SHOW

  • Donald Glover – Atlanta
  • Emilia Clarke – Game of Thrones
  • Gina Rodriguez – Jane the Virgin
  • Jeffrey Dean Morgan – The Walking Dead
  • Mandy Moore – This Is Us
  • Millie Bobby Brown – Stranger Things

BEST KISS*

  • Ashton Sanders and Jharrel Jerome – Moonlight
  • Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling – La La Land
  • Emma Watson and Dan Stevens – Beauty and the Beast
  • Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard – Empire
  • Zac Efron and Anna Kendrick – Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates

BEST VILLAIN*

  • Allison Williams – Get Out
  • Demogorgon – Stranger Things
  • Jared Leto – Suicide Squad
  • Jeffrey Dean Morgan – The Walking Dead
  • Wes Bentley – American Horror Story

BEST HOST

  • Ellen DeGeneres – The Ellen DeGeneres Show
  • John Oliver – Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
  • RuPaul – RuPaul’s Drag Race
  • Samantha Bee – Full Frontal With Samantha Bee
  • Trevor Noah – The Daily Show

BEST DOCUMENTARY

  • 13TH
  • I Am Not Your Negro
  • O.J.: Made in America
  • This Is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous
  • TIME: The Kalief Browder Story

BEST REALITY COMPETITION

  • America’s Got Talent
  • MasterChef Junior
  • RuPaul’s Drag Race
  • The Bachelor
  • The Voice

BEST COMEDIC PERFORMANCE*

  • Adam Devine – Workaholics
  • Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson – Broad City
  • Lil Rel Howery – Get Out
  • Seth MacFarlane – Family Guy
  • Seth Rogen – Sausage Party
  • Will Arnett – The LEGO Batman Movie

BEST HERO*

  • Felicity Jones – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  • Grant Gustin – The Flash
  • Mike Colter – Luke Cage
  • Millie Bobby Brown – Stranger Things
  • Stephen Amell – Arrow
  • Taraji P. Henson – Hidden Figures

TEARJERKER*

  • Game of Thrones – Hodor’s (Kristian Nairn) Death
  • Grey’s Anatomy – Meredith tells her children about Derek’s death (Ellen Pompeo)
  • Me Before You – Will (Sam Claflin) tells Louisa (Emilia Clarke) he can’t stay with her
  • Moonlight – Paula (Naomie Harris) tells Chiron (Trevante Rhodes) that she loves him
  • This Is Us – Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Randall (Lonnie Chavis) at karate

NEXT GENERATION*

  • Chrissy Metz
  • Daniel Kaluuya
  • Issa Rae
  • Riz Ahmed
  • Yara Shahidi

BEST DUO*

  • Adam Levine and Blake Shelton – The Voice
  • Daniel Kaluuya and Lil Rel Howery – Get Out
  • Brian Tyree Henry and Lakeith Stanfield – Atlanta
  • Hugh Jackman and Dafne Keen – Logan
  • Josh Gad and Luke Evans – Beauty and the Beast
  • Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg – Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party

BEST AMERICAN STORY*

  • Black-ish
  • Fresh Off the Boat
  • Jane the Virgin
  • Moonlight
  • Transparent

BEST FIGHT AGAINST THE SYSTEM*

  • Get Out
  • Hidden Figures
  • Loving
  • Luke Cage
  • Mr. Robot

 

Show will be held at the Shrine Auditorium on May 7th and hosted by Adam deVine who starred in two hit movies from last year. Remember this year is a trial year for this new format. It’s interesting to see how this will work out. It’s even possible MTV may add categories for other media forms in future years, like for video games or online movies or videos. We’ll have to wait and see.

It’s VIFF Time Again

Cinema

Yes, the Vancouver International Film Festival starts again. Today begins the 35th installment of the Film Festival. This year will not only be exciting because of what to see but also what new additions are happening.

This year’s theme is: “Expand the frame.” Part of the aim of this year’s VIFF is to make the Festival more accessible and more creative. One of the new additions is the VIFF Hub. The Hub and surrounding area will be the location for lectures and exhibitions surrounding film and art. There will even be art exhibitions, virtual reality exhibits and music performances from DJs, local performers and performers from around the world. Some events are free of charge as long as you’re a VIFF member while some may be ticketed events. The VIFF website will explain it all.

Film is still the centre of it all. There will not only be films shown but lectures from industry professionals as well. Directors, producers and actors will appear at some showings for Q&A’s including an appearance of Tatiana Maslany. Deal-making will also be included in the process. This year, for the first time, there will be an IMAX film shown over at the Telus World of Science for the Closing Gala.

As for volunteering, this year there were 1100 volunteers signing up. Way higher than the usual 800 that serve the required 32 hours of work. Because of that, volunteer seating will be limited during many films or not allotted at all. Nevertheless I should be able to get in to see a lot of good films. This year promises to have hundreds of shorts and feature films from 73 countries, including five ‘globetrotting’ films. As of press time, 13 films are official submissions for  the category of Best Foreign Language Film for this year’s Oscars. A footnote worth adding is A Flickering Truth from last year’s VIFF is New Zealand’s official entry in the category for this year. Canadian films will remain the focus as has been in past Festivals. This year’s top sponsor is no longer Rogers but a more local big name in telecommunications: Telus. SuperChannel will take over the People’s Choice awards.

As for highlights, here’s a list of some of the films headlining the VIFF:

  • OPENING GALA: Maudie – A biographic film of Canadian folk artist Maude Lewis starring Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke.
  • CLOSING GALA:  Voyage of Time: The IMAX Experience – An IMAX spectacle of the universe from the beginning of time to today. Written and directed by Terrence Malick and narrated by Brad Pitt.
  • American Honey – A drama about a teenage orphan trying to grow up. Directed by Andrea Arnold and stars Shia LaBeouf.
  • The Birth Of A Nation – This Sundance’s hot ticket and the hottest thing to come from the fest in years. Nate Parker writes, directs and stars in this drama of a slave rebellion that occurred decades before the Civil War.
  • Elle – The latest black comedy from controversy-causing director Paul Verhoeven. Isabelle Huppert plays a video game CEO with a lust for power and revenge.
  • The Girl With All The Gifts – A British zombie drama directed by Colm McCarthy and stars Gemma Arterton and Glenn Close.
  • Graduation – A Romanian drama of a doctor doing what he can to insure his daughter gets into a presigious university. Director Cristian Mungiu won Best Director at this year’s Cannes Film Fest for this.
  • The Handmaiden – A Korean drama of a pickpocket who plays a Japanese maid of an heiress whose fortunes he plans to steal. Divided by chapters and loaded with sensuality.
  • Human – A documentary by French director Yann Arthus-Bertrand. It focuses on the world from on high from positive things like love to even negative things like murder.
  • I, Daniel Blake – This year’s Palme d’Or winner at Cannes, this film focuses on a man getting his disability status reassesses and denied benefits. Ken Loach’s look at one man rivaling the system.
  • Julieta – Pedro Almodovar is back! Spain’s submission for the Best Foreign Language film for this year’s Oscars, Almodovar returns to the heart-on-the sleeve melodramas with female lead characters he’s most famous for.
  • Manchester By The Sea – Another highlight from this year’s Sundance. Director Kenneth Lonergan showcases a story of a man (Casey Affleck) returning to his Massachusetts home after the death of his brother and trying to sort out his family’s past.
  • Milton’s Secret – A Canadian hot ticket directed by Barnet Bain, it’s a unique story of how a troubled 12 year-old teenager finds relief from the frustrations of his life through his grandfather. Stars Donald Sutherland and Michelle Rodriguez.
  • Moonlight – Director Barry Jenkins showcases a drama of an African-American man struggling to come out despite the past troubles that haunt him.
  • Toni Erdmann – Germany’s submission for the Best Foreign Language film for this year’s Oscars, the film tells the story of a woman frustrated with her conniving father and his female disguise that irritates her to the point of leaving him behind after her promotion.

So this is what this year’s VIFF has in store. It all starts September 29th and it all ends October 14th. Lots of excitement to come.

 

 

My Top 10 Movies of 2015

Yep, it’s that time when I publish my opinions on what were the top movies and films of the year. 2015 was a better year than 2014 in many ways. It gave people lots of reasons to go see a movie. It also gave a lot of good quality films as well. Basically the year gave a lot to be admired. It also helped the film industry breathe a sigh of relief as they may have felt that they were losing crowds because of new media forms.

Nope, people still like going to the cinema to see a movie. And 2015 gave lots of good reasons from your typical superhero movies to the return of a maverick series to a sci-fi film that came from nowhere to amaze people to a film that will infuriate you over bankers to a bear attack for the ages.

So without further ado, here are my Top 10 films of 2015:

Big Short

  1. The Big Short
  2. Mad Max: Fury Road
  3. Ex Machina
  4. Bridge of Spies
  5. The Revenant
  6. Spotlight
  7. Room
  8. Straight Outta Compton
  9. Carol
  10. Inside Out

Honorable Mention:

  • The Hateful Eight
  • Brooklyn
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • Love and Mercy
  • Anomalisa

And there you have it. My Top 10 films of 2015. For my past lists, just click on the links below:

 

2016 Eurovision Song Contest Final Preview

eurovision2016euro

I’ll admit I had no intention of posting a preview blog about the final. I was just content with watching the performers and playing ‘armchair judge’ for my own leisure. Besides I intended for my detailed blog of the ESC to be my only blog about it.

However that all changed last night as I was on Youtube and the ESC channel watching video after video of the night’s semi-final performances. Hey, when the show’s on live at noon your time, that’s your resort. That all changed after I added comment after comment with many of the videos. And that’s what inspired me to do this preview of the final for the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest.

For this preview, I’ve decided to post my opinions about the performances in the semi-finals. I will be judging the performances of both the competitors from the semis as well as those from Sweden and the Big 5 whom I will call ‘automatics’ because they automatically have their berths in the Final and their performances in the semis are simply a dress rehearsal for the Finals.

I felt it best that I place my judgements mostly on their semi-final performances. A lot of people have based their judgements from the song’s official music video released on YouTube months before the Contest. The videos are very telling in terms of how well each song will do however I feel the performances in the semis are more telling as it gives a good sense what their live show will be and even how together they are as a performer. Sure the semi won’t tell it all but it will tell it most. I do feel that the song is the key thing to base a judgement on. No matter how big of a show you put on, the song and its content is unavoidable. However I will consider showmanship as a performer will still have to make the song entertaining and eyecatching. Simply put, I will give top kudos to those performances who deliver best.

I will also start with my first section where I give opinions of the performances that have qualified for the final. I will then give my personal picks for who I would give the biggest point to if I were a jury. Note I will not be making predictions like I normally do. I will be giving my preferences and opinions. I’m not familiar with the music tastes of most European countries nor am I familiar with jury tastes. So here goes:

SEMIFINAL 1:

  • Hungary: Freddie  ‘Pioneer’ Very good song with a very dramatic opening. Freddie has very good vocals in singing the song. The song is far from boring. It will catch your ears. A deserving finalist.
  • Croatia: Nina Kraljic ‘Lighthouse‘ – Nina came to Stockholm in hopes of breaking Croatia’s bad-luck spell of missing out in the finals since 2009. She did exactly that. As for her performance, you’ll think her outfit at the beginning is ridiculous but that’s part of adding drama or theatrics to the song. I’m cool with that as long as it’s done right. Her performance was very good and deserving of her final berth.
  • Netherlands: Douwe Bob ‘Slow Down‘ – This is one of my delights of the night. I’m impressed to see how the Dutch know how to do bluesy rock or rockabilly. The Dutch did it before in 2014 with ‘Calm After The Storm‘ and they do it again here. Best song of the evening that delivers as a great alternative after so many techno numbers. Stage show is minimal but it works for the song instead of against it. I ranked it my 3rd place of this semi.
  • Armenia: Iveta Mukuchyan ‘LoveWave‘ – It’s not the best of the night but it’s still good and a deserving finalist. Very good song with good vocals. I felt the stage show was a bit iffy. Otherwise very deserving nonetheless.
  • Russia: Sergei Lazarev ‘You Are The Only One‘ – What can I say? For me that was the show of the first semi and my #1 pick for that night. It didn’t have the same song quality the Netherlands had but still an entertaining song with the most entertaining stage show of the evening. Definitely an eye-catcher and it will not surprise me if this song is a top contender for the win on Saturday.
  • Czech Republic: Gabriela Guncikova ‘I Stand‘ – Not exactly a song that stands out too much. Nevertheless Gabriela did sing it well and perform it well on stage. what it lacks in catchiness, it makes up for in its consistency and professionalism. A very deserving finalist. Especially since this is the first time in five tries a Czech performer qualifies for the final. Great job!
  • Cyprus: Minus One ‘Alter Ego‘ – You’d think with this being Cyprus, it would be ethnopop, right? Actually this is a hard rock song high in energy. I could even feel the energy of the song while watching it. Great song and great performance which was one of my favorites of the night. I feel it should do strong on Saturday.
  • Austria: Zoe ‘Loin d’Ici‘ – This was my surprise of the night. I like it when a song goes beyond my expectations. At first you’d think a number too sweet would come off as saccharine to you. However this is one ‘sweet’ song that actually did everything right and even charmed me. Excellent stage show that tried mimicking what was in her video. However if anyone had doubts about her song while watching her video before the Semi, I think her performance in the semi increased her chances of winning. It was better than the video. I consider this my 2nd place of the semi.
  • Azerbaijan: Samra ‘Miracle‘ – Once again a case of an Azerbaijani singer performing a song written by Swedes. This is one of only two semifinalists whom I did not have on my list of my ten ‘finals picks.’ The song was good but I’ve seen better performances by Azerbaijani acts in past ESCs. I think 2013’s ‘Hold Me‘ is their best ever.  Also the back-up dancers did a real tacky job of dancing. That’s all I can describe about it. Their dancing was tacky. Nevertheless Samra was dressed well and she did sing her song very well despite t not being much of a song. I just feel it didn’t deserve to be in the semis.
  • Malta: Ira Losco ‘Walk On Water‘ – Once again a case of a stageshow that was hard to swallow thanks to backup dancing. Ira did her song very well. However the dancer on stage just plain came off as ridiculous and irritating. It actually turned me off the song. This is the other finalist from the first semi that I felt didn’t deserve it.

SEMIFINAL 2:

  • Latvia: Justs ‘Heartbeat‘ – The biggest thing about the song is its arresting instrumentation. The stage graphics fit the song very well and Justs delivers the song in style and with the right moves you’d expect from a male pop singer. Justs does it solo without backup singers or backup dancers and does it with style. I ranked it the best performance of this semi because it grabs your attention from the very start and won’t let go.
  • Poland: Michal Szpak ‘Color Of Your Life‘ – This is a good ballad delivered very well from Michal. Its style really stands out. Michal delivered it very professionally despite missing a note near the first chorus. The biggest glitch I feel has to be the vintage military jacket he wears on stage. I don’t think it fit the performance that well. Especially since Justs that was on just before him came on stage with a leather jacket. Backup violinists and stage graphics blended well with the performance.
  • Israel: Hovi Star ‘Made Of Stars‘ – This is an excellent ballad delivered very well with excellent singing from Hovi. I almost thought he was doing a cover of an Adele song. The stage graphics added excellently to the song. However the two dancers on the spinning hoop had me questioning whether they were worth it or not? Do they add or subtract? Because Hovi delivers well in a no nonsense performance.
  • Serbia: Sanja Vucic ZAA ‘Goodbye‘ – It’s both a ‘Balkan Ballad’ and a power ballad. Excellent vocals full of emotion and a set up back-up singers that add to the drama and power. Might bring back memories to some of 2007 winner ‘Molitva’ but it holds its own. The male backup dancer didn’t add but he didn’t subtract from the performance either. If there’s one weakness, it’s her stiff black dress. Overall an excellent package and I rank it second-best of this semifinal.
  • Lithuania: Donny Montell ‘I’ve Been Waiting For This Night‘ – A powerful song with a lot of energy and Donny knows how to deliver it vocally. However I didn’t like how he added Michael Jackson-like dance moves to his performance. I feel it did not fit the song at all. Maybe the front flip near the end helped but the dancing didn’t. This is one of two from this semi that qualified for the final that didn’t make my personal Top 10.
  • Australia: Dami Im ‘Sound Of Silence‘ – A very powerful ballad delivered excellent by Dani. I also have no problem with the dress since it was meant to fit the song. However I’m not too happy about some of the stage choices she was given such as sitting on that platform until after the second chorus. She does walk around after that and deliver the song well but I don’t think she was given enough movement.
  • Bulgaria: Poli Genova ‘If Love Was A Crime‘ – Many people felt Poli was robbed of a finals berth five years ago with ‘Na Inat‘ but she finally gets it here. I’ll admit this is not that much of an attention-grabber of a song. Nor were a few of her dance moves the best. Nevertheless Poli delivered the song well and gave it its energy and made it enjoyable to hear. It’s very good for the most part.
  • Ukraine: Jamala ‘1944‘ – This is the first song at the ESC with Crimean Tatar lyrics. This is probably the most political song at this Contest. She has a song with a message and she delivers it with emotion in the song. The wailing at the end of the song is a big plus and especially shows off her vocal abilities. However political songs are touchy grounds at the ESC. They welcome it as long as it’s subtle. I feel this is deserving of its finals berth.
  • Georgia: Nika Kocharov and Young Georgian Lolitaz ‘Midnight Gold‘ – The number starts with a lot of potential with some exciting rock instrumentation and fitting stage graphics. However it goes downhill when the singer delivers vocals with notes that don’t seem to fit the song. I don’t know if he did it for creative purposes but his choices don’t really fit at all. Can’t complain about the instrumentation as it’s the best part. However this is the second qualifier to the final from this semi that I felt didn’t deserve it. Actually I ranked it second-to-last of this semi.
  • Belgium : Laura Tesoro ‘What’s The Pressure‘ – At last! A song that makes you wanna get down! Laura delivers a funky, feel-good energetic number that delivers all the best qualities of a pop number including vocals, dancing and even trying to get the crowd involved. I ranked this the third-best of this semi.

AUTOMATICS:

  • France: Amir ‘J’ai Cherche‘ – Good song, has a lot of energy, very good singing, but it comes across as rather boring. I don’t know what it is but when I saw Amir perform, I felt like there was something missing. I don’t know how this will fare on Saturday.
  • Spain: Barei ‘Say Yay!‘ – Now this is one number I feel will go far. A very good song that is full of energy and has good potential of being catchy. Also she performs excellently on stage. She dances like she’s in control and delivers the song as she should. I question her dress, especially with the 03 on it. However I feel she will be great on Saturday night.
  • Sweden: Frans ‘If I Were Sorry‘ – Sweden has one of the best success records at Eurovision. This number however is very questionable. Frans delivered a boring performance where the background tries to make the song interesting by flashing key words. He does sing the song well but his accent is too thick to comprehend some of the lyrics. I think he might score well in the popular vote because of his teen idol status but I don’t think he’ll score well with the judges.
  • Germany: Jamie-Lee ‘Ghost‘ – I have to say a good song and Jamie-Lee is a very good singer. However her outfit was too over the top. I’m cool with a weird outfit done for theatrical purposes such as Nina Kraljic’s outfit during the opening of ‘Spotlight’ but that was too ridiculous like Alice In Wonderland went through a flower garden. The backup singers had on sensible clothes and the trees that shot laser beams worked good but that outfit is dumb and works against her performance. However the outfit will make her win the Barbara Dex award.
  • United Kingdom: Joe & Jake ‘You’re Not Alone‘ – I have to say it’s a very good song with a very good performance. The two sing the song very well and add to the young energy of the song. It’s hard to find something to dislike about this number, especially since it’s very low in gimmicks. I think the one cheesy thing was probably the jumping near the end. One thing we have to keep in mind is that ‘no nonsense’ performances like these are great but they face the obstacle of winning attention from both televoters and the juries. Nevertheless I do wish the best for both of them. Especially since the UK used to have quite a Eurovision legacy and the 21st century has been very unkind to them with only two Top 10 finishes.
  • Italy: Francesca Michielin ‘No Degree Of Separation‘ – Italy rarely disappoints. They’ve mostly delivered some top notch performances to the Contest over the years, even in the last few years. And this year’s entry is a delight too. 21 year-old Francesca Michielin is already a seasoned pro. You’ll notice it as she sings the song consistently and with feeling. Adding the feeling to the song is a big plus. A big minus to the song however is all those stage props and stage graphics. I don’t know if they were trying to reflect a theme or emulate the music video but I feel it went too far and they were distracting from the song. This could work against her performance which holds its own without all the added stuff.

So those are my thoughts for the qualifiers. As for the ‘also-rans’:

Semi-Final 1: I know I said Malta and Azerbaijan didn’t deserve to be in the final. In their place should be Iceland and Moldova. They did their performance better. Finland’s Sandhja was good but came off as flat. That’s not good especially when you’re first up. Greece must have forgotten the golden rule of rap acts at Eurovision: rap acts go nowhere, even if it’s mixed with ethnopop. It’s a shame because I usually like the Greek numbers. San Marino’s Serhat had a style but I didn’t see it as enough to qualify for the final. Estonia came off as ridiculous in his stage antics and his voice. Montenegro’s number sounded like a mashed-up song and Bosnia’s on-stage theatrics made me wonder if it was really necessary for the song.

Semi-Final 2: If I were to trade Georgia and Lithuania from the finals, I’d put in Ireland and Macedonia. Ireland was full of energy and delivered well. Macedonia was also excellent, especially in her vocal range. Switzerland had a good song but it all fell apart with all the on-stage props and moves she was given. Belarus had potential but I thought the face stripes were dumb. Slovenia was good but the singer delivered awkward stage poses that worked against her. The Danish vocal trio came across as rather boring. Norway delivered a song that alternate from one tempo and mood of the verses to a different tempo and completely different mood in the chorus. It didn’t really mix well. And Albania had good potential but I feel her chances were marred by lousy backup singers.

Overall I have to say this is a mostly good set of performers for this Contest. There is a bit of the eccentric in some elements but it’s nothing compared to the ‘freak shows’ of five years ago or even ten years ago. I think the freakiest moments will come from Germany and Italy. I guess the country’s are now getting the message that doing something super-eccentric or super-gimmicky doesn’t pay. I didn’t notice too many off-key moments and those that did recovered well.

Like I said, I don’t know enough about European music tastes to make predictions. So instead I’m giving my personal Top 10. Eurovision style, of course:

  • Poland, 1 point.
  • Australia, 2 points.
  • Spain, 3 points.
  • Cyprus, 4 points.
  • Netherlands, 5 points.
  • Belgium, 6 points.
  • Serbia, 7 points.
  • Austria, 8 points.
  • Latvia, 10 points.
  • And my personal 12 points goes to…Russia!

So there’s my summary of the 2016 Eurovision finalists and their semifinal performances. I’m glad I don’t have to be a jury member because it’s a headache ranking them. Mind you anything can change on Saturday. They may go off key or something may malfunction or the energy that was there in the semi may not be there in the final. Even things like performance order can play a factor. How ironic how Belgium who ended the second semifinal will open the final? Ending the final will be Armenia. Whatever the situation, I wish all the performers the best and the winning performer’s country to get ready to host next year!

MTV Movie Awards Holds Its 25th

mtv_movie_awards

The MTV Movie Awards, the awards that’s been come to be known as the anti-Oscars, will hold their 25th edition this year.

Back in 1992, producer Joel Gallen founded a movie awards show for MTV completely unlike the Oscars. It may not have reached to same status as the Oscars but it has grown over the years as an event of significant popularity.

MTVs

The first MTV Movie awards were held in 1992. The film reel was the award and Terminator 2: Judgement Day was the big winner. It was obvious these awards were going to send a message to the Oscars.

Now back in 1992, MTV had already been known for their Video Music Awards. The event which was started in 1984 was seen as a music awards that appeared more relevant with what was happening in music as compared to the Grammys. It also offered notorious on stage events, either planned or spontaneous, that would get people talking. While such events would threaten the popularity of some musicians or even make the Grammys nervous, it made MTV.

The first MTV Movie Awards were held in 1992. Its nominations featured movies that the Oscars would either turn their noses up to or just relegate to nominations in the technical categories like Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Backdraft, Boyz N The Hood and Wayne’s World. In fact the Silence Of The Lambs which was the apple of the Academy’s eye that year did not even receive a single nomination. The event also featured unorthodox categories like Best Kiss, Best Villain, Best Action Sequence, Best Breakthrough Performance, Most Desirable Male and Female and its Lifetime Achievement Award which went to Jason Voorhees of Friday the 13th infamy. Instead of Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Actress, they had categories like Best Male Performance, Best Female Performance and Best Movie. Even animated performances could be nominated in the various categories. On top of that, they had people call in to vote for who they felt should win the awards in the weeks leading up to the event.

Basically the point of the awards was to have a movie awards show that was current and more in line with the people’s movie tastes. Especially young people since they made up most of the movie-going crowd. The awards didn’t simply want to give accolades to movies that made big money but gave people their enjoyment and their money’s worth. In fact Terminator 2: Judgement Day, which won four Oscars in the technical categories, was the big winner at the first MTV Movie Awards. Basically the focus is on movies instead of films and stars instead of actors. MTV turned out to be only domain likely to start such a movie awards show at the time. In fact the award which is a golden bucket of popcorn is meant to symbolize its rewarding of crowdwinning.

There’s also the entertainment factor of the awards too. There were frequent movie spoofs, often starring the awards’ host, that still happen quite often. The event was also used to promote upcoming summer releases with presenters often people starring in movies to be released later that summer. Also the musical performers would often have nothing to do with the movies and more to do with summer album releases. Performers of movie songs were more commonly featured in the 90’s editions of the awards show as movie music was bigger then than it is now.

There would be category changes and category drops of awards categories. However the standard would be the same where performances and movies that gave people their enjoyment would get top wins. Only three times has the Oscar winner for Best Picture won Best Movie. In addition, nine movies that didn’t receive a single Academy Award nomination won Best Movie including Scream, There’s Something About Mary, four of the five Twilight movies and the most recent Movie Of The Year winner, The Fault In Our Stars. That’s another thing too, how the MTV’s aren’t afraid to even give teen movies accolades. No wonder the show has been come to be known as the anti-Oscars.

There have even been times when the MTV Movie Awards would appear to ‘make right’ what the Academy did wrong as most saw. In 1995 when Hoop Dreams was snubbed of a Best Documentary Oscar nomination, director Steve James would receive the Best New Filmmaker Award: an honorary award from 1992 to 2002 which honored filmmakers whose debut film would introduce a new element to film making. In 1998 when most people thought Leonardo diCaprio was snubbed of a Best Actor Oscar nomination for Titanic, he won Best Male Performance at the MTVs.

Now onto this year’s Awards. This is the 25th annual MTV Movie Awards. As noted, it’s come a long way. It’s still a big public event where a lot of big stars show up. Stars from upcoming summer releases are planned to be among the presenters. However the list is still incomplete even among musical performers. Categories from the first Awards are still here like Movie Of The Year (retitled from Best Movie) , Best Male and Female Performance, Best Breakthrough Performance, Best Comedic Performance,  Best Villain and of course their trademark category: Best Kiss. New categories this year are Best Documentary, Best Action Performance, Best Ensemble Cast and Best True Story. Returning categories not at the first Awards are Best Fight and Best Hero. In addition, the category of Best Virtual Performance returns this year.

This year’s Awards are again focusing on big crowd winners. One trivia note: the highest-grossing film of the previous year would always get at least one MTV Movie Awards nomination. This year is far from an exception as Star Wars: The Force Awakens received eleven nominations including Best Movie. Deadpool is the next-most nominated with eight and Avengers: Age Of Ultron is next with six. Four of the six movies nominated for Best Movie are sci-fi or action movies and none of the Best Picture nominees for this year’s Oscars, not even Mad Max: Fury Road, were nominated for Best Movie. Mad Max still got four nominations as did The Revenant. Five of the eight Best Picture nominees have received at least one nomination but Spotlight didn’t get a single one. Can you believe it? While the hard-to-watch Room got a nomination with Brie Larson for Best Breakthrough Performance. In addition, this year’s nominees are way more mixed in terms of race and gender than this year’s Oscars by far.

Also you may remember I talked about a Best New Filmmaker category? That was there during the first Awards but was dropped after 2002. Now the honorary award at the MTV’s is the Generation Award: like a ‘lifetime achievement’ award but going to a star whom the generations born and bred on MTV made. The first one back in 2005 went to Tom Cruise. This year, it goes to Will Smith. Even though he’s not my favorite actor, I wonder what took MTV so long to award it to him.

Now onto my predictions for this year’s MTV Movie Awards winners. Note I’m better at prediction the Oscars than predicting MTV winners. With this being a ‘people’s choice’ awards, they can go any which way. So here goes:

Movie of the Year
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Creed
Deadpool
Jurassic World
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Straight Outta Compton

Will Win (WW): Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Most Likely Upsetter (MLU): Straight Outta Compton

Yes, Star Wars mania returned. However underdogs have come and taken the Best Movie award before. People’s tastes may surprise you. I predict Straight Outta Compton to be the movie most likely to pull an upset.

True Story
Concussion
Joy
Steve Jobs
Straight Outta Compton
The Big Short
The Revenant

WW: Straight Outta Compton

MLU: The Revenant

I strongly believe with this being MTV, Straight Outta Compton will rule this category. However The Revenant could upset.

Documentary
Amy
Cartel Land
He Named Me Malala
The Hunting Ground
The Wolfpack
What Happened, Miss Simone?

WW: Amy

MLU: He Named Me Malala

It’s a surprise to see a documentary category for the MTVs. I thought the awards were about movies instead of films. With this being MTV, I think Amy is the hands-down winner here.

Best Female Performance
-Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina
-Anna Kendrick, Pitch Perfect 2
-Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road
-Daisy Ridley, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
-Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
-Morena Baccarin, Deadpool

WW: Daisy Ridley, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

MLU: Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road

Looking at the nominees, I feel the biggest star-buzz would go to Daisy Ridley. However Charlize could win because of how she stole the show from Max.

Best Male Performance
-Chris Pratt, Jurassic World
-Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
-Matt Damon, The Martian
-Michael B. Jordan, Creed
-Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool
-Will Smith, Concussion

WW: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

MLU: Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool

Leo has already won this award before in 1998 for Titanic (of course) and 2005 for The Aviator. He may seem like a guarantee here since everyone wanted him to win the Oscar. However don’t count out Michael B. Jordan or Ryan Reynolds as they charmed crowds too.

Breakthrough Performance
-Amy Schumer, Trainwreck
-Brie Larson, Room
-Daisy Ridley, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
-Dakota Johnson, Fifty Shades of Grey
-John Boyega, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
-O’Shea Jackson Jr., Straight Outta Compton

WW: Daisy Ridley, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

MLU: Amy Schumer, Trainwreck

Interesting how both Amy Schumer and Brie Larson were co-stars in Trainwreck and they’re now competing against each other in this category. However I feel this is Daisy Ridley’s for the taking.

Best Comedic Performance
-Amy Schumer, Trainwreck
-Kevin Hart, Ride Along 2
-Melissa McCarthy, Spy
-Rebel Wilson, Pitch Perfect 2
-Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool
-Will Ferrell, Get Hard

WW: Kevin Hart, Ride Along 2

MLU: Amy Schumer, Trainwreck

It seems like Kevin Hart is the comedy phenom right now. However Amy Schumer is the one having him look over his shoulder.

Best Action Performance
-Chris Pratt, Jurassic World
-Dwayne Johnson, San Andreas
-Jennifer Lawrence, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2
-John Boyega, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
-Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool
-Vin Diesel, Furious 7

WW: John Boyega, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

MLU: Vin Diesel, Furious 7

Best Hero
-Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road
-Chris Evans, Avengers: Age of Ultron
-Daisy Ridley, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
-Dwayne Johnson, San Andreas
-Jennifer Lawrence, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2
-Paul Rudd, Ant-Man

WW: Daisy Ridley, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

MLU: Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road

This seems to be the year of the heroine instead of the year of the hero. Rey and Furiosa. Rey seems like the best bet but Furiosa could overtake her for the win.

Best Villain
-Adam Driver, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
-Ed Skrein, Deadpool
-Hugh Keays-Byrne, Mad Max: Fury Road
-James Spader, Avengers: Age of Ultron
-Samuel L. Jackson, Kingsman: The Secret Service
-Tom Hardy, The Revenant

WW: Adam Driver, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

MLU: Hugh Keays-Byrne, Mad Max: Fury Road

This seems like another category where it’s a foregone conclusion Star Wars will win. Mind you there have been surprises in the past. Hugh Keays-Byrne could upset.

Best Virtual Performance
-Amy Poehler, Inside Out
-Andy Serkis, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
-Jack Black, Kung Fu Panda 3
-James Spader, Avengers: Age of Ultron
-Lupita Nyong’o, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
-Seth MacFarlane, Ted 2

WW: Amy Poehler, Inside Out

MLU: Lupita Nyong’o, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

This category only existed once before: back in 2003. Andy Serkis, I mean Gollum, won. I think Amy Poehler will take it here as she was the most charming.

Ensemble Cast
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Furious 7
Pitch Perfect 2
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2
Trainwreck

WW: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

MLU: Furious 7

Now this is one category I’d like to see at the Oscars. Hey, the SAGs have it. I’m surprised Straight Outta Compton didn’t get nominated.

Best Kiss
-Amy Schumer & Bill Hader, Trainwreck
-Dakota Johnson & Jamie Dornan, Fifty Shades of Grey
-Leslie Mann & Chris Hemsworth, Vacation
-Margot Robbie & Will Smith, Focus
-Morena Baccarin & Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool
-Rebel Wilson & Adam DeVine, Pitch Perfect 2

WW: Dakota Johnson & Jamie Dornan, Fifty Shades of Grey

MLU: Morena Baccarin & Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool

This is the category that separates the MTV Movie awards from all other movie awards. Hey, the biggest stars want to win this. The winning kisses have ranged from innocent kisses (My Girl) to romantic kisses (The Notebook) to same-sex kisses (Cruel Intentions) to unique kisses (SpiderMan) to threeways (Starsky and Hutch) to even humorous kisses (American Pie 2). I think the Fifty Shades of Grey kiss will take it.

Best Fight
-Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) vs. Ajax (Ed Skrein), Deadpool
-Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) vs. The Bear, The Revenant
-Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) vs. Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy), Mad Max: Fury Road
-Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) vs. Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Avengers: Age of Ultron
-Rey (Daisy Ridley) vs. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), Star Wars: The Force Awakens
-Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) vs. Lia (Nargis Fakhri), Spy

WW: Rey (Daisy Ridley) vs. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), Star Wars: The Force Awakens

MLU: Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) vs. The Bear, The Revenant

This is always a hard one because any fight could end up a winner. However I give it to Star Wars. You can’t beat Star Wars in this category.

Hey, I told you the categories were unorthodox. Anyways those are my predictions for the 25th annual MTV Movie Awards. Tune in Sunday, April 10th to watch who wins what, who’s performing and what notorious acts happen.

 

 

2015 Oscars: The Buzz And The Biz

Best Picture 2015

This year’s Best Picture nominees brought in the most box office gold since 2012 but the winner…

Once again, it’s my annual look at this year’s top Academy Awards contenders and how they fared at the Box Office. This was something that once again had to wait until one month after the end of the Oscars to get the full picture. Boy did they have a lot to tell. Once again, all credits for my research to Box Office Mojo.

Before I get into explaining the box office results, I’ll let you all in that Awards Daily showed an interesting graph. It showed how not even $500,000 was spent on a For Your Consideration ad for a Golden Globe win but a win brought in megamillions. It also showed how millions are spent on For Your Consideration ads for the Oscar but the box office draw isn’t even half of what one gets from a Golden Globe win. Something to think about. Especially as we all read on.

When the nominations were announced, two of the eight Best Picture nominees–Mad Max:Fury Road and The Martian— had already grossed over $100 million. That wasn’t the case last year when none of them passed that mark on ‘Nomination Day.’ And that was the Thursday just before American Sniper had its wide release. Actually the eight-set of Best Picture nominees turned in an average of over $75 million. Very impressive.

The film that definitely had its biggest boost since its Best Picture nomination was The Revenant. Between Nomination Day and Awards day, it grossed $116.5 million. A significant boost also came to Room which only grossed $5.2 million before the nominations but $8.2 million between Nomination Day and Awards Day. Films like Spotlight, The Big Short and Brooklyn didn’t double their grosses after their nominations like The Revenant and Room did but their Oscar nominations did give them a good added boost. The Big Short received an additional 423.9 million: more than 50% more than before its nominations. Brooklyn also showed a bigger-than-50% increase in its box office results after their nominations. Spotlight also had an increase but it was just slightly over $10 million.

The only three movies that didn’t see a significant boost after their Oscar nominations were Mad Max: Fury Road, Bridge of Spies and The Martian because they had already neared completion of their box office run with their totals as impressive as they would get. Actually Mad Max: Fury Road wasn’t re-released after its Oscar nominations.

Now Awards Day came and three of the eight Best Picture winners had grossed over $100 million. However the Best Picture winner was a film that was one of the lowest-grossing of the eight nominees: Spotlight. It didn’t even have $40 million grossed by Awards Night. Ever since it’s only grossed an additional $5.2 million and it’s highly unlikely it will hit $50 million. This makes it the second year in a row the Best Picture winner failed to gross $50 million and the third year in a row it fails to gross $100 million. This is a bit of a surprise since I said to myself months earlier: “One more Best Picture winner that fails to gross $100 million and I’m done with Oscar tracking.”

Actually those were temporary feeling as despite Spotlight‘s low gross, it was a film that gave something to admire. However it does point some interesting stats. This will make it the fourth Best Picture winner of the 2010’s that didn’t gross $100 million and there’s still four more years left. The naughts, the decade before the 2010’s, only had three that failed to do so as did the 90’s. You’d figure that the title of Best Picture Winner’ would be a draw to the box office but now it appears less than ever. This shows an interesting detail about how the Academy is in terms of voting for Best Picture. In the past, it was almost always a Hollywood picture. Then things changed with the 1996 Oscars when Jerry Maguire was the only one of the five Best Picture nominees done by a major Hollywood studio to receive a Best Picture nomination. All of the other four nominees including winner The English Patient were independent films.

Since then, the independent films have been winning the Academy over. This has led to a bigger gap than ever between blockbuster films and critical darlings. It has definitely become evident over these last ten years. It’s a bit of a downer for me because I’d really like to see good cinema do well at the box office deep down inside. However it’s becoming more fact. I read an article from Awards Daily which talked about how independent films and films of critical renown don’t so well nowadays at the box office. In the past, you had the movie box office which gave a first run and second run of movies before it even hit video. Now we have such a wide variety of media methods like Netflix and Shomi. It seems like if you want to bring people to the movies, you have to have what it takes to do it. Moviegoers are now choosier as they can decide whether a movie is worth seeing in a cinema or worth waiting for it on Netflix. That would often mean big special effects and often theatre things like showing them in 3D or AVX or in D-Box seats. You mostly won’t get that with the films that win the biggest critical renown. That could have a lot to do with the Best Picture winner constantly grossing lower and lower. For the record, the last Best Picture winner that grossed $100 million+ is 2012’s Argo.

The box office may not have been friendly to Spotlight but it was friendly to the eight Best Picture winners as a whole. The eight have grossed a combined total of $803.8 million– just over $100 million per film for the first time since 2012– an all of them have grossed over $10 million. Spotlight wasn’t the only nominee to bag some extra money after the Oscars. The Revenant took an extra $11.4 million, The Big Short gained an extra $1.6 million, Brooklyn grossed an extra $1.5 million and Room grabbed an extra $1.2 million. Overall The Revenant and Room were the two with the biggest boosts from the Oscar buzz.

The box office results of this year’s nominees told a lot about moviegoers and their choices this year. The winner told lots about the Academy and how they’ve changed as far as voting for Best Picture. Next year should tell more.

2015 Box Office In Review: A Record Year

Cinema

This blog is not simply a case of procrastination of my post-Oscars break. This is a case where I was too wrapped up with Oscar articles to publish my annual look at the box office. Note that I only did one other focus back in November. Sure, 2015 may be almost three months past but I still feel a focus on the box office is still worth it even now. Especially since 2015 was a record year.

Once again, I thank Box Office Mojo for the research data.

November already promised to be a big month with both the James Bond movie Spectre and the final Hunger Games movie Mockingjay Part 2 to be released. That was the case with Spectre opening with over $70 million on its opening weekend and Mockingjay opening with $102.6 million. However it received added boosts with the continued success of The Martian leading into the month and strong showings from The Peanuts Movie and Creed. Surprisingly November 2015 grossed a total of $1.082 billion, falling short of November 2014 by $58 million. Nevertheless it did not take 2015 off of its record pace.

Then came December. Already people were expecting this to be a hot one as Star Wars: The Force Awakens was expected to open to record numbers. The first two weekends saw Mockingjay remaining at the top and modest box office number happening. Then The Force Awakens shattered opening weekend records, December records and all-time records like nobody’s business. As expected, this December became the highest grossing December ever with $1.792 billion. The previous record was $1.636 billion set back in 2009 when Avatar, the previous all-time record holder, opened.

Overall 2015 did it. It broke the all-time annual box office record with a total of $11.127 billion dollars. It pulled in 1.32 billion tickets, up over 4% from 2014. It gave people reasons again to go back to the movies. While 2014 failed to place a movie in the all-time Top 10 grosses, 2015 gave us three with The Force Awakens, Jurassic World and Avengers: The Age of Ultron. Actually there were five movies in 2015 that had bigger grosses than 2014’s biggest grosser: American Sniper.

With all these stats, it’s no wonder I keep on looking back at the box office of 2015 by saying 2016 has a tough act to follow. No kidding the numbers from 2015 should make 2016 nervous. Plus it’s questionable if this year’s box office fare has what it takes to challenge 2015 if not overtake it. Nevertheless it did give January a higher total than 2015 with continued success from The Force Awakens and additional successes from Kung Fu Panda 3 and The Revenant. February had it tougher despite the surprise success of Deadpool. The upcoming months of 2016 will tell more of how the box office is doing and how well the year is going even if it can’t break 2015’s record.

2015 was a record-breaking year at the movies. Now it’s 2016’s turn to make its mark.

My 2015 Academy Award Predictions

Chocolate Oscar

No kidding there was a lot of news about this year’s Oscar nominees from the lack of diversity and the boycotts and AMPAS reform that followed to how this being one of the most unpredictable years as far as Best Picture is concerned. Despite the protests, Chris Rock will still host the Oscars.

As for me, I’ve seen all the Best Picture nominees. This makes it the fifteenth year in a row I’ve seen them all before the awards night. It almost would have been my last as I was losing faith in the Academy as the last two Best Picture winners failed to gross $100 million both individually and combined. For the record, 2012’s Argo is the last Best Picture winner with a gross of higher than $100 million. However that could change with The Revenant being a strong favorite.

Collectively I have seen enough films and shorts to make up 86 of this year’s nominees. It’s a shame there won’t be any more members at large because I think I’d make a better Oscar voter. Anyways here are my predictions for this year’s Oscar winners. Note that the bigger categories will get the focus as well as my prediction. Only in few smaller categories will I elaborate. Also you will receive links to my reviews.

Best Picture 2015

BEST PICTURE SUMMARY

This year’s eight Best Picture nominees are quite different. Some have a lot of similarities but there are some surprises. Who would’ve though a Mad Max movie would be one of the nominees? Or even The Big Short would be a heavy favorite? Anyways here’s my summary with the titles hyperlinked to my review:

-The Big Short –  My favorite of the Best Picture nominees and my Should Win pick. I admire it for it being unconventional and making sense of something very technical. However I feel it may come up a bit short to my prediction for the winner.

-Bridge Of Spies –  I feel this is the most underrated movie of the whole Best Picture race. It did a great job in capturing the eerie feel of the Cold War and even the political tension behind it. Too bad it finds itself out of contention for the win because it is deserving of it.

-Brooklyn – It’s easy to think Brooklyn has all the bait of what would win the Academy over. However this was a tightly competitive year. Plus the Academy will always surprise you about what it thinks ids the best.

-Mad Max: Fury Road –  Very rarely does a science fiction movie have a chance at winning Best Picture. This film surprised everyone about how good a sci-fi story can go. A deserving winner, but the competition was tight and also I don’t think the Academy will make it Best Picture.

-The Martian –  Space stories have been winning over the Academy more often lately. Two years ago, it was Gravity.Now The Martian. A good choice for a nominee but I think there were too many parts that were a bit cornball.

-The Revenant –  It may have a lot of buzz but it doesn’t completely guarantee it will win Best Picture. The Revenant may have won the Golden Globe and BAFTA but Spotlight won the Critics Choice award and The Big Short won the Producers Guild. The buzz however is too hard to ignore and I feel that The Revenant Will Win Best Picture. Anyways I find it refreshing having a movie that made over $100 million win Best Picture, especially after Birdman’s poor gross.

-Room – One of two Canada/Ireland entries for Best Picture. Very well-acted and well-written but I don’t think a movie about two young people abducted makes for a Best Picture winner. It deserves respect for making this scenario watchable on screen but not enough to make it a winner.

-Spotlight –  This is this year’s critical darling. It has a lot to offer with a great ensemble of acting, an excellently-written story and well-directed. It has what it takes to win Best Picture. However I feel its November release has hurt its chances for the win. It still has some good chances to win but it faces rivalry against later releases like The Revenant and The Big Short.

BEST DIRECTOR:

-Should Win and Will Win – Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu – The Revenant – This last while has been the emergence of Inarritu. He first burst onto the scene in 2000 with Amores Perros. He received his first Best Director nomination for Babel. Last year, he won for Birdman. This time around he directs an epic thriller and he succeeds excellently at it. Also it pays off at the box office this time.

BEST ACTOR:

-Should Win and Will Win – Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant – Everybody’s saying “Leo should win it.” It’s easy to see why. He’s done a lot of great performances. Plus winning the Oscar could be the case of career culmination for him. It’s too easy to declare career culmination for his anticipated Oscar win. However you have to see The Revenant for yourself to see why. It involved a lot of physical acting as well as a lot of acting moments involving no speaking at all. You can easily see why he’s a deserving winner.

BEST ACTRESS:

-Should Win and Will Win – Brie Larson – Room – Often enough winning an acting Oscar is often a case of career culmination. Other times it can be that case where you’re lucky to have that role of a lifetime. This is the case for Brie Larson. She was mostly unknown and her biggest work up to then was acting in Trainwreck. However her turn as Joy Newsome as a woman braking free from her kidnapping and struggling to live life in what should be freedom is that role of a lifetime.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:

-Should Win – Mark Rylance – Bridge Of Spies – I’ll only base my decision on the supporting performances I’ve seen. Mark was excellent as he had to embody the character of a frail 50 year-old man from head to toe. Not only that but give him a unique charm that’s able to steal the show away from Tom Hanks.

-Will Win – Sylvester Stallone – Creed – I’m not a fan of Sylvester Stallone. In fact I can easily see why the Golden Raspberry awards like to give him accolades. However if there’s one role in which he knows how to do right, it’s Rocky Balboa. I believe with this being possibly the last movie of the Rocky saga, Stallone will win it.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:

-Should Win – Rooney Mara – Carol – I have to say of all the supporting actress performances I’ve seen, I’m most impressed with Rooney Mara. She played a young woman who was insecure with herself and just learning about herself until Carol helps her to understand herself and not be afraid to love.

-Will Win – Alicia Vikander – The Danish Girl – I admit I have not seen The Danish Girl. However Alicia’s performance has already generated a ton of buzz. It seems like a no-brainer she’ll win. Some are already touting her as the biggest thing out of Scandinavia since Liv Ullmann. We’ll see.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:

-Should Win – Matt Charman, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen – Bridge Of Spies – I liked Bridge Of Spies and how it captured the time of fear and paranoia of the Cold War. This was a unique collaboration of Spielberg and the Coen brothers. I thought Bridge Of Spies was one of the smartest films this year.

-Will Win – Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer – Spotlight – Spotlight is one film that has gotten a lot of renown for its story of trying to bring a story to the presses. It’s a deserving winner as it is a story that will keep you interested and intrigued from star to finish. At the same time, it makes a film about sexual abuse by the clergy actually watchable.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:

-Should Win & Will Win- Adam McKay and Charles Randolph – The Big Short – All I can say is the script was full of energy. It defied convention and at the same time made sense out of a confusing topic which only those inside the banking world can fully understand. A deserving winner here.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE:

-Should Win & Will Win- What can I say? Inside Out is the animated movie of the year. It’s very much the case that when Disney/Pixar releases an original film, it’s bound to be the class of the field in terms of animated films. Heck, the script was even nominated for Best Original Screenplay so how can you rival that?

Here are the rest of the categories. I will only predict who Will Win. As well as give some notes if I feel so.

BEST ART DIRECTION:

Colin Gibson & Lisa Thompson – Mad Max: Fury Road

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY:

-Robert Richardson – The Hateful Eight

BEST COSTUME DESIGN:

-Jenny Beavan – Mad Max: Fury Road

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE:

Amy

BEST FILM EDITING:

-Margaret Sixel – Mad Max: Fury Road

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM:

-Son Of Saul – Hungary

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING:

-The Revenant

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:

-Ennio Morricone – The Hateful Eight

BEST ORIGINAL SONG:

-“Til It Happens To You” – The Hunting Ground

As far as songs go, that’s the biggest talk about Til It Happens To You and Lady Gaga winning the Oscar. I’m cool with it. As long as she doesn’t wear a meat dress.

BEST SOUND MIXING:

The Revenant

BEST SOUND EDITING:

-Mad Max: Fury Road

Actually I will have my final prediction in this category Saturday evening as that’s when we’ll know the Motion Picture Sound Editors Guild winner.

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:

-Star Wars: The Force Awakens

It seemed like a no-brainer to predict Star Wars to win that category. However it’s not to say it didn’t have it rivals. Accolades have also been given to the effects of The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road.

BEST LIVE-ACTION SHORT FILM:

Click here for reviews and predictions.

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM:

Click here for reviews and predictions.

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT:

-Chau: Beyond The Lines

JUST ONE MORE – TOP OSCAR UPSETS

This is something new for me. I’m picking the five most likely upsets of the evening, especially those that will go against my own predictions:

  • The Big Short to win Best Picture
  • Mark Rylance wins Best Supporting Actor for Bridge Of Spies
  • Mad Max: Fury Road win Best Visual Effects
  • Mustang (from France) wins Best Foreign Language Film
  • Sandy Powell wins Best Costume Design for Cinderella

And there you have it. My predictions for Hollywood’s night of nights. You might only care about who wears what but see who wins on Sunday the 28th. Even attend a party. You might win prizes.

Reviews Of Other Nominated Movies Viewed:

-Joy

-Ex Machina

-Straight Outta Compton

-Anomalisa

-Boy And The World

-Cinderella

Oscars And Diversity: The Struggle Continues

Elba

Idris Elba in his supporting performance in Beasts Of No Nation had the best chances for a non-white actor to receive an acting nomination for this year’s Oscars. Despite being heavily favored, it didn’t happen.

Remember last year I talked about the issue of Oscars and race that took over headlines? Yes, it’s nice to see people pay attention to something about the Oscars besides who wears what? However it did focus on a problem in which many people including myself hoped would only exist last year. Unfortunately it was not the case.

THIS YEAR’S HOPE

Last year was a big focus of the lack of diversity. I even did a focus on it myself and even explained how things worked in all my 15 years of ‘OscarWatching.’ Many including myself were hoping that this year would not have the same mistake this year. And this year had a performance by a black actor eligible for a nomination: Idris Elba in the Supporting Actor category for Beasts Of No Nation. It had all the eligible clout: a Golden Globe nomination, a Screen Actors Guild nomination and a BAFTA nomination. Although nothing is guaranteed or earned in showbiz, it had the right amount of juice to clinch the nomination in that category. Many wanted to see the nomination happen. I also wanted to see it happen. I know that if it didn’t happen, there would be a whole whack of controversy and outrage. I even thought the Academy wouldn’t deny him the nomination, not after the #OscarsSoWhite embarrassment from last year.

The nominations were announced on January 14th. Elba was not among the nominees in that category. There were the nominations of Christian Bale and Mark Rylance which were also nominated for the same awards previously mentioned, the was Golden Globe winner Sylvester Stallone. However there was Mark Ruffalo who had earned a SAG nomination and Critics Choice nomination and Tom Hardy who had amassed only a Critics Choice nomination. All the acting nominees were white. All eight Best Picture nominees consisted of a predominantly white cast and predominantly white crew. As for directing and writing, the only non-white nominee was Mexican Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.

The lack of diversity wasn’t just the black-and-white issue. Gay director Todd Haynes was heavily favored to be nominated for Best Director for Carol and even for Carol itself to be nominated for Best Picture but those didn’t happen either. If there’s one positive thing, there were four women who receive scriptwriting nominations: up from zero from last year.

THE BACKLASH

People were already speaking their outrage. A new Twitter hashtag– #OscarsStillSoWhite– came about. Civil Rights leader Al Sharpton, whom last year said he would set up a ‘diversity task force,’ was outspoken in his outrage and urged boycotts. Boycotts did happen from Spike Lee, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith. Some actors who did not intend to boycott like George Clooney, Viola Davis and Lupita Nyong’o spoke their criticism. Host Chris Rock was under pressure to boycott the Oscars. He declined but he will be focusing on it during his opening routine at this year’s ceremony. Even Barack Obama spoke out about the controversy: “I think that when everyone’s story is told then that makes for better art, it makes for better entertainment it makes everybody feel part of one American family, so I think as a whole the industry should do what every other industry should do which is to look for talent, provide opportunity to everybody. And I think the Oscar debate is really just an expression of this broader issue. Are we making sure that everybody is getting a fair shot?”

racist-oscarsThe Academy especially came under fire as they were scrutinized and analyzed and it was revealed that over 90% of the Academy were white in comparison to 65% of the population of the United States being white. In addition three out of every four Academy members were male. Despite the criticism and outrage, there were defenders coming from the likes of actress Penelope Ann Miller:  “I voted for a number of black performers, and I was sorry they weren’t nominated. To imply that this is because all of us are racists is extremely offensive. I don’t want to be lumped into a category of being a racist because I’m certainly not and because I support and benefit from the talent of black people in this business. It was just an incredibly competitive year.” Even black actors like Ice Cube and Whoopi Goldberg  dismissed the labeling of the Academy as racist. Ice Cube described the labeling of racism as “crying about not having enough icing on your cake.” Whoopi whom herself has won an Oscar and even host the Oscar ceremonies for many years stated: “Even if you fill the Academy with black and Latino and Asian members, if there’s no one on the screen to vote for, you’re not going to get the outcome that you want. I won once, so it can’t be that racist. I’ve been black the whole time.”

THE AMPAS PRESIDENT

With all the criticism the Academy faced this year, the one person who had to do the responding was AMPAS president Cheryl Boone Isaacs. Born in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1949, Boone Isaacs grew up in a middle-class African-American family. She graduated from Springfield Central High School in 1967 and from Whittier College in 1971 with a degree in political science. Her studies in college included a program studying abroad in Denmark.

Her introduction to showbiz came at the age of 25 through her older brother Ashley Boone Jr. who worked as an executive in Hollywood. She started work in Hollywood as a publicist for Columbia Pictures. Her first job was being a publicist for Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. She would work for various film companies as a publicist. Her publicity work on films would eventually lead to higher stature such as Vice President, Worldwide Advertising and Publicity of Melvin Simon Productions and Director of Advertising and Publicity for The Ladd Company. Under Paramount Pictures starting in 1984, she would start as Director, Publicity and Promotion, West Coast and then eventually become the Worldwide Publicity Director. Some of her marketing campaigns included successful Oscar campaigns for Best Picture winners Forrest Gump and Braveheart.

Success continued for Boone Isaacs as she would become President of Theatrical Marketing for New Line Cinema, the first black woman to hold such a position. She even has her own promotion company, CBI Enterprises, Inc., where she has worked on successful promotion of Best Picture winners: The King’s Speech and The Artist.

Boone Isaacs has been a member of the Academy since 1988. In 2013, she was promoted to the position of AMPAS president in 2013and became the first African-American president of the Academy as well as only the third woman, after only Bette Davis and Fay Kanin. Since her inception as president, he achievements have included lifting the cap or restriction on the number of Academy members. she also initiated a drive to invite over 400 new members coming from many ages and backgrounds.

THE PRESIDENT AND THE ISSUE OF DIVERSITY

“It’s easier to be the president of the United States as a black person than to be the head of a studio.”

-Spike Lee

The issue of the Academy and diversity appeared to be making progress since the start of the new millennium. Actors of various races were earning nominations more than ever before as well as non-white directors. Even in the minor categories, minorities were getting an increasing number of nominations. However it’s almost always in the acting categories where the issue of the Academy and racial diversity gets the heaviest scrutiny. That was the case last year when the first hashtag #OscarsSoWhite came out.

Isaacs

AMPAS president Cheryl Boone Isaacs didn’t hesitate to make changes to the Academy in response to the backlack which included boycotts from Spike Lee and Will Smith.

Cheryl Boone Isaacs, an African-American woman herself, knew this was an issue that needed looking into and she made her efforts. This was especially noteworthy at the AMPAS’s annual Governor Awards  on Saturday November 14th. One of those awarded was Spike Lee where he was given an honorary Oscar. Before Boone Isaacs announced her plans, Lee talked about the lack of diversity even commenting that when he goes through Hollywood offices, he only sees white faces and the only non-white is the person checking his name at the door.

At those Awards, Boone Isaacs announced her plan which she called A2020: an initiative to age, gender, race, national origin and point-of-view, in Hollywood over the next five years.  Her A2020 initiative is a five-year plan to study practices at the Academy with the aim of improving the diversity of its own staff and governance while also bringing new voices into the organization. Outside of the Academy, the plan is also intended to encourage and to push the industry to examine its hiring practices and to begin to make changes. Boone Isaacs stated: “When it comes to fair and equal representation in our industry, words are not enough. We also have a responsibility to take action and we have an unique opportunity to do so now.” At those ceremonies, Lee thanked her and said: “she’s trying to do something that needs to be done.”

THE PRESIDENT RESPONDS TO THE CONTROVERSY

“The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up.”

-Cheryl Boone Isaacs

If there’s one thing most people would feel upon learning of this year’s nominees, it’s that Cheryl’s A2020 plan isn’t happening fast enough. Even though the set of 51 new members of the Academy was more diverse especially with 17 of them being women, the end result on nomination day was one of disappointment. Boone Isaacs herself came under fire by some for not doing enough. Even civil rights leader Al Sharpton ridiculed her by referring to her as a pawn in a predominantly white members-only club.

No doubt Boone Isaacs felt the heat. It was only a matter of a mere eight days after the nominations were announced that Boone Isaacs announced the sweeping changes to the membership rules for Academy members. This was published on the AMPAS website under the title ‘Academy Takes Historic Action To Increase Diversity.’ For those interested in the plans, click here to the official document.

The day before, the Board Of Governors approved through a unanimous vote a set of sweeping changes coming to the Academy’s membership. Its intent was to make the Academy members more diverse and open the door to more women and visible minorities. However one of the things they most wanted to get tough on was the membership of their older members. Examples of the proposed changes starting this year are:

  • New members lasting 10 years and renewed if that new member has been active in motion pictures during that decade.
  • Lifetime voting rights after three ten-year terms or if they’ve won or have been nominated for an Academy Award. Standards also applied retroactively to current members.
  • Current members that have not been active for 10 years can still qualify if they meet the other criteria.
  • Members not qualifying for active status will be moved to emeritus status and will be denied voting privileges.
  • An ambitious global campaign will be launched to identify and recruit qualified new members who represent greater diversity.
  • To increase diversity in its Board Of Governors, the Academy will establish three new governor seats that will be nominated by the president for three year terms and confirmed by the board.
  • New members who are not governors will be added to its executive and board committees where key decisions about membership and governance are made. This allows for new members to become more active in the Academy’s decision-making and help the Academy identify and nurture future leaders.

Most of the response has been good. Some of the biggest came from Selma director Ava DuVernay through Twitter: “One good step in a long, complicated journey for people of color + women artists. Shame is one helluva motivator.” Lee stood by his boycott but applauded Boone Isaacs and the Board of Governers for: “trying to do the right thing. It’s a start.” Steven Spielberg also reminded us: “I do think that what the Academy is doing, in a proactive way, to open up the membership to diversity, I think that’s very, very important. But it’s not just the Academy, and I think we have to stop pointing fingers and blaming the Academy. It’s people that hire, it’s people at the main gate of studios and independents. It’s the stories that are being told. It’s who’s writing diversity — it starts on the page. And we all have to be more proactive in getting out there and just seeking talent.”

I admire Cheryl Boone Isaacs for taking the initiative for making these needed changes. The Academy always was aboard with its own membership rules and needed reform back in the 1960’s because of its own issues then. Issues came again now and reform was needed. The changes proposed look great: less members for life.

However I do believe they are not a 100% guarantee of diversity happening on a consistent basis. No kidding diversity will be increasing at double the rate it’s been happening in past years. However it doesn’t mean that every year from next year onward will feature a diverse array of nominees. I’ve seen the various film seasons over the years and see how certain films excel more than others. I’ve seen years that have been very generous towards minority actor and have given them roles that can contend for glory at various awards shows including the Oscars. However I’ve also seen years which have been lackluster for them and they would lack parts that can propel them among the ‘elite of the year.’ I know it’s a start and there will be more to come but I’m still a bit cynical it’s a solve-all.

Also it also depends on the media too. I’ve seen them label some films long before the Oscars full of ‘Oscar buzz.’ And most of them are predominantly white. The media can’t just simply label a film ‘Oscar bait’ because it has characteristics that are common with what wins the Academy over. They should call it ‘Oscar bait’ because of top notch quality, and skin color should not matter.

Nevertheless next year is the first year when these changes are to come into effect. Hopefully over time we will see a more diverse Academy. And not just more blacks; more women, more Hispanics, more Asians, more of all minorities. As for 2016, potential is already showing as this year’s Sundance showed The Birth Of A Nation: a film with a predominantly African-American cast that had rave reviews and huge buzz. The release date to the box office has not been set but Fox Searchlight has bought the film’s rights at $17.5 million, the most ever for a Sundance film.

The outrage over the lack of diversity at this year’s Academy Award nominees was just the catalyst needed for the necessary changes to happen. The future will tell if these changes pay off or not. However the lack of diversity is still an ugly reminder of what happens when you turn art into a competition.

WORKS CITED:

WIKIPEDIA: 88th Academy Awards. Wikipedia.com. 2016. Wikimedia Foundation Inc. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/88th_Academy_Awards>

WIKIPEDIA: Cheryl Boone Isaacs. Wikipedia.com. 2016. Wikimedia Foundation Inc.  <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheryl_Boone_Isaacs>

Kilday, Gregg. “Spike Lee: Getting a Black President Is Easier Than a Black Studio Head” The Hollywood reporter. 14 November 2015 <http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/spike-lee-getting-a-black-840371>

Gray, Tim. “Governors Award Winner Spike Lee to Hollywood: ‘You Better Get Smart’” Variety. 15 November 2015 <http://variety.com/2015/film/news/governors-award-winner-spike-lee-to-hollywood-you-better-get-smart-1201640307/>

“ACADEMY TAKES HISTORIC ACTION TO INCREASE DIVERSITY” Oscars.org 22 January 2016 <http://www.oscars.org/news/academy-takes-historic-action-increase-diversity>

 

My 2015 Golden Globe Predictions

Cinema

Hi all. With the Golden Globes coming this Sunday night, it is the time where I make my predictions for the winners. For this, I not only predict the Winner but also the Most Likely Upsetter who could pull the biggest surprise. So without further ado:

FILM:

Best Motion Picture, Drama
Winner:
Spotlight
Most Likely Upsetter: The Revenant

Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
Winner:
 The Martian
Most Likely Upsetter: The Big Short

Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama
Winner:
 Leonardo diCaprio, The Revenant
Most Likely Upsetter: Bryan Cranston, Trumbo

Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
Winner:
 Matt Damon, The Martian
Most Likely Upsetter: Christian Bale, The Big Short

Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama
Winner:
 Cate Blanchett, Carol
Most Likely Upsetter: Brie Larson, Room

Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
Winner:
Amy Schumer, Trainwreck
Most Likely Upsetter: Jennifer Lawrence, Joy

Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
Winner:
 Mark Rylance, Bridge Of Spies
Most Likely Upsetter: Idris Elba, Beasts Of No Nation

Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
Winner:
Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina
Most Likely Upsetter: Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight

Best Director
Winner:
Thomas McCarthy, Spotlight
Most Likely Upsetter: Ridley Scott, The Martian

Best Screenplay, Motion Picture
Winner:
 Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer, Spotlight
Most Likely Upsetter: Adam McKay, The Big Short

Best Foreign-Language Film
Winner:
 Son Of Saul (Hungary)
Most Likely Upsetter: The Brand New Testament (Belgium)

Best Animated Feature Film
Winner:
 Inside Out
Most Likely Upsetter: Anomalisa

Best Original Song, Motion Picture
Winner:
“See You Again”, Furious 7
Most Likely Upsetter: “One Kind Of Love”, Love & Mercy

Best Original Score, Motion Picture
Winner:
 Carter Burwell, Carol
Most Likely Upsetter: Ennio Morricone, The Hateful Eight

Okay, so I decided not to give a Most Likely Upsetter prediction for the television categories. Hey what can I say? I’m better at predicting the movie awards. Plus with a lot of categories appearing radically different from last year, it makes it all the much harder. So here are my TV predictions for the winners:

TELEVISION:

Best TV Movie or Miniseries: American Horror Story Hotel

Best TV Series, Drama: Game of Thrones

Best TV Series, Comedy: Veep

Best Actor in a TV Series, Drama: Jon Hamm, Mad Men

Best Actor, TV Series Comedy: Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent

Best Actress in a TV Series, Drama: Viola Davis, How To Get Away With Murder

Best Actress in a TV Series, Comedy: Gina Rodriguez, Jane The Virgin

Best Actor in a Miniseries or TV Movie: Mark Rylance, Wolf Hall

Best Actress in a Miniseries or TV Movie: Queen Latifah, Bessie

Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Mini-Series or TV Movie: Damian Lewis, Wolf Hall

Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries, or TV Movie: Regina King, American Crime

And there you go. Those are my predictions for Sunday’s Golden Globe Awards. I don’t think I’ll completely be in sync with the Hollywood Foreign Press but anyways tune in to see the winners and the show.