The King’s Speech: A BAFTA breakdown

Posted on February 17, 2011. Filed under: Movies to see before you die, Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , |

The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed a lack of awards chatter on the blog this year.  This is for two reasons. Firstly, having written posts the last two years I’m not sure there’s anything new I can bring to the party when it comes to debating the differences in the British and American voting systems; and secondly, I’ve been completely useless at getting to the cinema since I started my new degree and so have seen very few of the nominated films

Last night however, I finally managed to get myself to Leicester Square again for a long overdue appointment with The King’s Speech. As one of the last people in the universe to see this film, I thought rather than write you a straight review repeating what everyone has already said about how this really is a groundbreaking piece of cinema, I’d break it down in terms of last week’s BAFTA sweep, with one eye on the coming Oscars at the same time.  Kind of two birds with one stone.

Best Film (and Outstanding British Film)

Well, this one is a bit of a no brainer.  The King’s Speech is not a film I would ordinarily seek out, but the trailers caught my eye and once the critics started going insane about it I knew I had to get to the cinema.  I think the best thing about this film is the way it focusses a very down to Earth problem in an impossibly ostentatious setting.  Not being able to express yourself is one of the most frustrating feelings, and combatting that as someone who is supposed to speak for the nation is a very strong starting point for a story.  It could have worked just as well as a film about a normal man with a stammer, but the fact that he is a kind of second-choice King brings a grounded humanity to the character which has the audience really rooting for him.  It’s a testament to both the direction and the performances (more on that later) that we can feel a connection with a family who are as far removed from the common man in the cinema as you can possibly get.

An undeniably deserving BAFTA win, but I’m not sure it’ll repeat the success at the Oscars.  I’d like it to, but I have a feeling True Grit or The Social Network might take it.

Original Screenplay

It’s a very British screenplay: filled with emotion but in an incredibly understated way that suits the tone of the film perfectly.  There are some, now infamous, scenes which will probably stick in the collective memory for a long time, but some of the more subtle moments are what gives this film its class.  Two particular moments for me were when Bertie (if Lionel can call him that so can I!) is coming to terms with the fact that he’s going to become King, and the final scene where he delivers his speech.  That last movement is so wrought with tension it shows just how much we’ve invested in the characters.

As far as the Oscars go, I can’t call this one.

Original Music-Alexandre Desplat

I’d spotted this win before I went so I was keeping one ear on the music while I watched.  It’s a gracefully understated score, with simple piano and strings mirroring the drama in a totally non-invasive way.  I’m definitely going to have a listen to it again now that I’ve seen the film to properly admire the work that went into it. He’s in with a shot at the Oscars, but Zimmer might just beat him to it.

Supporting Actor-Geoffrey Rush

For me, Rush very nearly steals the film out from underneath Firth.  He is instantly likeable and wonderfully down to Earth.  His complete lack of reverence for the monarch is fantastic, and r elatable in our increasingly non-royalist culture.

I went in expecting to see a knock out performance from Firth, but Rush really surprised me.  I shouldn’t have been shocked really, he’s always good in eveerything he does.  I really hope he gets the recognition he deserves at the Oscars.  If he doesn’t I think it might go to Bale.

Supporting Actress-Helena Bonham-Carter

I can go either way with Helena Bonham-Carter.  I’m never quite sure what I think of her but she tends to be better than I expect her to be.  That’s definitely true in this case. She gives an very strong performance with just the right amount of dry wit and tenderness.  I think she’s got serious competition from Hailee Steinfeld at the Oscars but I’m glad she got the British award for a classically British character.

Leading Actor-Colin Firth

Well, this is what everyone is talking about isn’t it?  In the last few years, Colin Firth has remembered that he is an actor and a very good one at that.  He’s finally got out from under the shadow of the RomComs and Mr Darcy and started making films where he gets to play someone other than the uptight Englishman.

His portrayal of King George feels like it is coming from someone who really knows the man.  He shows both the sensitivity and the strength in his character as well as capturing the exasperation of someone who has a lot to say but cannot say it.  It’s a very respectful depiction, but it’s fearless enough to show him as a human being rather than an untouchable.

He’s in with a very good chance at the Oscars. And I really hope he wins, because he deserves it.

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BAFTA thoughts

Posted on February 22, 2010. Filed under: News | Tags: , , |

Biggest surprise of the night?  The Hurt Locker came away with 6 awards. I haven’t seen it, so I can’t really argue, but I’ve heard so little about this movie other than it is just very…worthy. I’m a bit concerned that it’s the politically correct choice.

Avatar only managed two, which is less of a surprise, but I think it will do better in America. I’m still not expecting it to win Best Film, though.

Nicholas Hoult was robbed for the Rising Star award, but when you let the public vote anything involving the omnipresent “Twiglet” is bound to win.

Happy that Brits took the Best Actor/Actress masks, and bonus points to Colin Firth for making a speech about fridges. Hooray for Michael Giacchino’s win for the Up score, definitely one to watch for movie music in the future.  Also loved  that the first award of the night went to Duncan Jones, who cried.

Here’s the full list for those who are interested:

Best Film:
The Hurt Locker

Outstanding British Film:
Fish Tank

Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker

Colin Firth, A Single Man

Carey Mulligan, An Education

Supporting Actor:
Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

Supporting Actress:
Mo’Nique, Precious

Original Screenplay:
The Hurt Locker

Adapted Screenplay:
Up in the Air

Film not in the English Language:
A Prophet

Animated Film:

The Hurt Locker

Costume Design:
The Young Victoria

The Hurt Locker

Make-Up & Hair:
The Young Victoria


Production Design:

The Hurt Locker

Visual Effects:

Short Animation:
Mother of Many

Short Film:
I Do Air

Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer:
Duncan Jones (director, Moon)

Orange Rising Star Award:
Kristen Stewart

Outstanding contribution to British cinema:
Joe Dunton

Bafta Fellowship:
Vanessa Redgrave

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BAFTAs vs Oscars

Posted on February 4, 2010. Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Nominations are out for two of the biggest award cermonies on each side of the pond and I’m sure the designers are already getting over excited. There’s always a few interesting differences between the choices which highlight some taste variations between us Brits and our cousins across the Atlantic so I thought it might be worth taking a look.  So far the biggest difference I’ve noticed is that all the Academy awards have ridiculously over the top names. I mean what the hell is “achievement in music written for motion picture?”  What’s wrong with Best Original Score?  That and the fact that we haven’t had some of the Oscar movies released over hear yet.
My movie hit count is appalling this year, so most of my opinions here are based on hearsay, gossip, rumour and psychic ability, just so you know 😉

Going through all the awards would take me way to long so I’m just doing the biggies. No offence to all you make up artists, editors and short film makers out there.

Best Movie

An Education
The Hurt Locker
Up in the Air

The Blind Side
District 9
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire (The Americans love to use that full title)
A Serious Man
Up in the Air

No surprises that Avatar, Up in the Air and Precious make it onto both lists. I’m thinking it’s a shoe in for Avatar. There’s a lot more nominees for the Academy, including Up, which interestingly makes it onto the list for Best Film as well as Best Animated. Not often that a cartoon breaks through, and it’s well deserving of it’s nomination. It wont win this category though.

Best Actor
Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart)
George Clooney (Up in the Air)
Colin Firth (A Single Man)
Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker)
Andy Serkis (Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll)

Jeff Bridges
George Clooney
Colin Firth
Morgan Freeman(Invictus)
Jeremy Renner

Poor Andy Serkis. Never gets awards from the Academy, despite being robbed outrageously at the Oscars back in 02/03. OK, so Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll isn’t out in the US. And a biopic about Ian Drury isn’t exactly going to capture the Yankee imagination but he has to win an Oscar some day!
Other than that the only difference is Invictus which is only just coming out over here. As for predictions, I’ve got my fingers crossed for Andy over here, I’m not sure about America but ‘m thinking wither Renner or Freeman.

Best Actress
Carey Mulligan (An Education)
Saoirse Ronan (The Lovely Bones)
Gabourey Sidibe (Precious)
Meryl Streep (Julie & Julia)
Audrey Tautou (Coco Before Chanel)

Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side)
Helen Mirren (The Last Station)
Carey Mulligan
Gabourey Sidibe
Meryl Streep

I think my feelings for Sandra Bullock have been made quite clear so I’m gonna gloss over that one.
I reckon Sidibe has got both here from what I’m hearing about her performance. If not possibly Mulligan over here because An Education got a lot of very positive reviews.

Supporting Actor
Alec Baldwin (It’s Complicated)
Christian McKay (Me and Orson Welles)
Alfred Molina (An Education)
Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones)
Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)

Matt Damon (Invictus)
Woody Harrelson (The Messenger)
Christopher Plummer (The Last Station)
Stanley Tucci
Christoph Waltz

Quite a few differences here. I’m wondering if Christian McKay might win over here. Gotta say I’m shocked that Alec Bladwin is in there since everything I’ve heard about that movie is bad. I don’t think Matt damon is going to win an Oscar, but I’m not sure who is…

Supporting Actress
Anne-Marie Duff (Nowhere Boy)
Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air)
Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air)
Mo’Nique (Precious)
Kristin Scott Thomas (Nowhere Boy)

Penélope Cruz (Nine)
Vera Farmiga
Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart)
Anna Kendrick

Again, I’m thinking Precious is taking this one. Two nominatons for Up in the Air from the Brits suggest one of those might get it if Mo’Nique doesn’t. Possibly an Oscar for Penelope Cruz…but I think she’s already had one right?

Best Director
James Cameron (Avatar)
Neill Blomkamp (District 9)
Lone Scherfig (An Education)
Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)
Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds)

James Cameron
Kathryn Bigelow
Quentin Tarantino
Lee Daniels (Precious)
Jason Reitman (Up in the Air)

Another unsurprising list. I think James Cameron will probably get the Oscar, and is quite likely to get the BAFTA too, but he might just be pipped by someone like Blomkamp.  No BAFTA nod for Precious….

Fantastic Mr Fox

Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Princess and the Frog
The Secret of Kells

The Princess and the Frog is only just coming out over here so that explains it’s absence from the BAFTA list. Although I’m not sure it’s Oscar material from the few clips I’ve seen. Probably quite good, and about time Disney had a black heroine, but maybe that’s more the reason it’s getting nominated.  I would like Up to win both.

Avatar (James Horner)
Crazy Heart (T-Bone Burnett, Stephen Bruton)
Fantastic Mr Fox (Alexandre Desplat)
Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (Chaz Jankel)
Up (Michael Giacchino)

James Horner
Alexandre Desplat
The Hurt Locker (Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders)
Sherlock Holmes (Hans Zimmer)

I do remember the music from Up being particularly good, and it’s taken a Globe already. Strangely, the score for Avatar left no impression on me and as someone who usually notices these kind of things that suggests it wasn’t that amazing.  Having not seen the other films I can’t comment. The nominations seem to vary quite a bit between countries, but the same few films are popping up again and again.

District 9
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
The Road

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
The White Ribbon

This one really has to be Avatar. The whole point of that film is the cinematography and special effects.  Interesting choice of Harry Potter by the Academy while once again over here we give a nod to District 9 which seems so far to be missing out across the pond.

Special visual effects
District 9
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The Hurt Locker
Star Trek

District 9
Star Trek

Avatar has this one all tied up.  I thoguth the effects were really good in Star Trek but apparently BAFTA don’t agree with me.

And that’s all folks. Let me know your thoughts on the nominations.  I’m thinking if Avatar doesn’t sweep then we’ll be seeing big wins from Precious and The Hurt Locker in both ceremonies and Inglourious in America.

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And the BAFTA goes to…

Posted on February 9, 2009. Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

As promised, I’m back with a full list of the winners (‘cos who needs to write their dissertation presentation?)

I’m always going to miss Stephen Fry as host, but Jonathon Ross did a decent job, and kept Stephen’s game of getting a random word into the show via a twitter vote.  Unfortunately I missed that bit when I was travelling but I’ll try and find it later.  Just goes to show that twitter really is taking over the world…

The BAFTAs are a pretty good indicator of who’ll be taking home the Oscars, and I think some of my earlier predictions are a bit off now that I think about it.  Here’s last night’s results:

Best Film: Slumdog Millionaire

No surprises there, it’ll get the Oscar too. (Somebody take me to the cinema so I can back this claim up having actually seen it!)

Best Actor: Mickey Rourke

As I said last night, this one shocked me, but I’m hearing nothing but good things about The Wrestler.  He is nominated for the Oscar but I still don’t quite see him winning it.  Something’s telling me Brad Pitt will get it, but Rourke’s in with a chance…

Best Actress: Kate Winslet

Well this one was obvious wasn’t it?  You can’t not win when you’re nominated twice.  Incidentally, she got it for The Reader rather than Revolutionary Road which I have on good authority is the most boring film ever.

Best Director: Danny Boyle

Continuing Slumdog’s sweep.  He’s a dead cert for the Oscar I reckon

Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger

Of course.

Best Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz

Vicky Cristina Barcelona has only just come to my attention but I’m intrigued.

Best Music: AR Rahman-Slumdog Millionaire

In the little clips we got from the Noms, this was the only one that caught my attention.  Might change my mind on my Oscar prediction based on that.

Cinematography: Anthony Dod Mantle-Slumdog Millionaire

That sweep just keeps going…

Best Adapted Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy-Slumdog Millionaire

And going…

Best Original Screenplay: Martin McDonagh-In Bruges

I really wanted to see this despite bad reviews, now I want to see it more!

Best Animated Feature: Wall-E

Had to be didn’t it?

Visual Effects: Eric Barba, Craig Barron, Nathan McGuinness, Edson Williams-Benjamin Button

Again, it’s hard ot argue with that one.  I completely take back my stupid prediction for the Oscars (I really wasn’t paying attention) Button is way ahead of the pack.

Academy Fellowship: Terry Gilliam

I wasn’t expecting this, but as soon as you watch that reel of all his movies you know he deserves it.

That’s not quite all of them, but it’s the biggies.  Slumdog finished with 7 masks, and we can expect a repeat performance at the Oscars.  I don’t think there’ll be much difference in the winner’s either, but I may well be eating those words in a couple of weeks.  In the interests of fairness, I wont go and change my predictions from a couple of weeks ago, but the BAFTAs have changed my mind on a couple of them.

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A Quick BAFTA Post…

Posted on February 8, 2009. Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , , , |

I’m coming back to this tomorrow morning, but in case you were wondering:

Slumdog Millionaire took best film, with Kate Winslet winning Best Actress and Mickey Rourke a surprise win (at least to me) for Best Actor.

Full list tomorrow, unfortunately I missed half the show travelling back to London but that’s the big three. Annoyed I missed Best Director, but Slumdog also got Best music and the Fellowship went to Python Legend Terry Gilliam.

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