Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Oscar Wannabes

My film of the year: Brooklyn

Odeon Screen Unseen

This time last year I started going with the family to the Odeon Screen Unseen showings – usually Monday nights, usually critically acclaimed, usually £5 a ticket.  All good. The risk is you sit down not knowing what is going to come up on the screen! That way we got to see Nightcrawler, Whiplash, Selma, and It Follows last year – all fascinating in one or more ways. This week it was Room and when the title came up I was happy (and worried) because it was a book I had raced through earlier in the year, astonished at the tension built up by the narrative voice in Emma Donoghue’s novel. It could have gone either way.
Emma Donoghue, Jacob Tremblay, Brie Larson - Room
Room was excellent, I thought. The lean screenplay, the photography and editing, the final shot of the suburban garden in the snow…. All worthy of prizes but equally wonderful were the performances from the sublime Joan Allen as Nancy to the heroic Tom McCamus as Leo, from an intense William H Macy as Robert to Wendy Crewson as a devastatingly smooth TV interviewer – all cameos of great power. But could an Oscar nomination go to a 7-year old? Jacob Tremblay as Jack certainly goes through a convincing gamut of emotions in the film, spending half of the running time looking horribly ill. But I will be very surprised if Brie Larson isn’t nominated for a Best Actress Oscar. She, I think, plays unpredictably, sometimes unsympathetically, maternal but highly-strung, dead-eyed but full of life force, strong and vulnerable – and at all times, in my opinion, playing truthfully to the dramatic situation.
In the Heart of the Sea, Murphy, Gleeson, Fairley, Whishaw, Hemsworth

In the Heart of the Sea

Ron Howard’s film about the loss of the whaling ship Essex and how it inspired Herman Melville’s Moby Dick is less obviously award-winning except possibly in the special effects categories. I wasn’t bored but my daughter spoke the truth when she said it had elements of the cartoon version of Thumbelina – ie one disaster after another. Chris Hemsworth scrubs down well (and looks truly wasted at times) and Ben Whishaw, Brendan Gleeson and Michelle Fairley can do no wrong in my eyes; as for Cillian Murphy, I would watch him read the phone directory. But there was something about the structure of the movie (the script, maybe?) that meant I cared very little about the outcome, though absolutely cheered for the whales (and excellent dolphin performances, too.) Oscars for the special effects, I think, and thank you to Cineworld who presented this in an early Secret Screening!
Carol, Mad Max: Fury Road, Mr Holmes, Diary of a Teenage Girl, Ex Machina

My Oscar hopes

My film (and book) of the year has been Colm Tóibín’s Brooklyn and I will be delighted if it wins every award going; if it wins nothing, I won’t care because it’s permanently lodged in my psyche. I also enjoyed Bridge of Spies, Carol, The Martian, Mad Max: Fury Road, Mr Holmes, Inside Out, Ex Machina, Diary of a Teenage Girl and Steve Jobs. I’ve yet to see (but am looking forward to) Spotlight, The Revenant, The Danish Girl, The Big Short, The Hateful Eight and Trumbo.  I would definitely add Room to my list of great films of the year now, if only for Brie Larson’s performance. I’m already booked in (twice) to see a galaxy far, far away but will be going with phantom trepidation as much as new hope….