The Next 007

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SPECTRE is only a few months away. The anticipation is growing with intriguing trailers and the rumours over the coveted job of the singer of the iconic title music in full flow. Another question that has been heavily discussed is that of who will continue to play 007 after Daniel Craig has left the franchise. Originally, Craig was going to exit after Skyfall, but is reuniting with director Sam Mendes for SPECTRE which is frequently being touted as his last outing in the role. He will leave the franchise with not only his dignity intact after a barrage of criticism before Casino Royale but with the honour of reigniting the series and making it something new and exciting.

Speculation about the new Bond is already well underway with pretty much every actor working in the film industry being suggested as a possible replacement. Look at the betting odds and you’ll find such names as Peter Dinklage, Vinnie Jones and even John Travolta further down the odds list but here are some of the people more likely to fill Bond’s shoes…

The Bookies Favourite – Damien Lewis

Damian Lewis as Nicholas "Nick" Brody in Homeland (Season 2, Episode 12). - Photo:  Kent Smith/SHOWTIME - Photo ID:  Homeland_212_1559
Damian Lewis as Nicholas “Nick” Brody in Homeland (Season 2, Episode 12). – Photo: Kent Smith/SHOWTIME – Photo ID: Homeland_212_1559

Originally touted as a dark horse, in recent months Damien Lewis emerged as the bookie’s favourite for the next reincarnation of James Bond. You can see what appeals about him; in Homeland and Wolf Hall he has exhibited his wide acting range. He has a strong voice and domineering presence whilst being charming and likeable. But with the swathes of criticism aimed at Daniel Craig of him being blond how will everyone react if a redhead takes over the role?

The Fan’s Favourite – Idris Elba

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Idris Elba was once almost nailed on to get the role of James Bond before Craig departed. The current 007 has stated how great he would be in the role. Elba is hugely popular with film critics and audiences alike and everyone thought the time had come to finally get out of the dark ages and present Bond as black.

Sir Roger Moore, however, thought otherwise and infamously vocalised the small minority that still doesn’t want a black actor stating that Bond should be “English-English”. With this slip of bigotry not only did Moore damage his own reputation somewhat but he seems to forget that his predecessor in the role was Scottish and his replacement was a Welshman.

If we can suspend belief and allow the fact that Bond has been played by a variety of people of varying nationalities why can’t Idris Elba play him. Elba admitted recently that “If there was any chance of me getting Bond it’s gone” but with his cool personality and touch of class I’m hoping this isn’t the case.

The Traditional Choice – Henry Cavill

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If you were a casting director it is clear that Henry Cavill is the no brainer choice for the part. He’s suave, sophisticated, British (from the proud island nation of Jersey) and according to my wife “No man should ever be that good looking.” He’s got everything and almost got the job back in 2005 for Casino Royale. There was a time that he could have easily given up after not only being second choice for Bond, but also for Batman and The Man of Steel for Superman Returns in 2006. His persistence paid off and he eventually became Superman a few years later whilst cementing himself as a real Hollywood A-Lister. His upcoming role as Napoleon Solo in The Man From U.N.C.L.E will no doubt showcase his abilities acting in a spy role and you’d think he’d be the best choice.

The No Brainer – Tom Hardy

Tom Hardy attends "The Drop" premiere on Monday, Sept. 8, 2014 in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

Tom Hardy’s name keeps cropping up as one of the favourites for the role and it’s clear why. He has been excellent in every role he’s played and would be remarkably cool as Bond. It would also maintain a nice consistency that Craig’s replacement would also come from the excellent Layer Cake. He’d bring a real energy and intensity to the role and has stated he’d love to play the role, especially if Christopher Nolan, who is eager to direct a Bond film is on board which would be a dream match. Audiences would be massively on board with Hardy and he’d look right at home in that tuxedo.

The Juggernaut – Michael Fassbender

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Why wouldn’t people consider one of the best actors of the last ten years? Michael Fassbinder’s eclectic body of work has demonstrated his huge acting abilities. His role as Lt. Archie Hicox in Inglorious Basterds is a great of example of the Irishman looking suave and doling out the charm. He would be a natural choice and would lend a real authority to the character.The question is would he want to dedicate himself to another franchise after playing Magneto in X-Men?

The Oscar Winner – Eddie Redmayne

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that a British actor who wins a Best Actor Oscar will be considered for James Bond. The casting directors could do worse than Eddie Redmayne as well. Although many would deem him perhaps too ‘soft’ for the role the charm and style is certainly there. He’s probably got a lot on his plate with upcoming roles in The Danish Girl and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but who knows?

The Outsider – Kit Harington

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With the uncertainty of how long again before we see Jon Snow, if ever again, on Game of Thrones we can assume that Kit Harington is going to want to embrace a variety of roles in the near future. So, why not go for the most coveted role in the film industry and audition for James Bond? He has already dipped his toe in the espionage genre with Spooks: The Greater Good and shown his flair for action in Pompeii. He’s well liked and has the right hair colour for all the die-hard Bond fans so why not? He’s certainly one to consider.

These are just a few of the candidates, just like Damien Lewis, someone else could just one day became the favourite and steal the role from under everyone’s nose. Other actors suggested for the role include Dan Stevens, Richard Armitage, Jamie Dornan, Dominic Cooper and Tom Hiddlestone. Until the decision is reached though, at least we’ve got SPECTRE to look forward to in October!

This blog post is dedicated to my wife Hannah. Without whom I would have never watched all the Bond films 🙂

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Comedy Actors In Superhero Movies

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Most of the time, in comic book movies, we like our superheroes mighty and daring, but, also likeable and often witty. In our villains we want an evil calculated side whilst desiring a sense of humour that is smart and fiendish. Both of these traits suggest that there should be more comedy actors in superhero and villain roles. Comedy is often mentioned by great actors as being the hardest thing to do right. However, the past has proven that it can be an absolute disaster to hire a comedic actor to play your superhero or villain unless they are mocking and parodying.

The most notorious case of a villain being cast in a comedic role was Jim Carrey as The Riddler in Batman Forever. In 1995, Carrey could of been in whatever movie he so wished. He was unequivocal box office gold and producers knew anything he was in would make massive amounts of money. However, Batman Forever was a critical disaster and almost ruined the franchise before Batman and Robin plodded along to finish the job several years later.

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That’s not to say that Carrey was the worst thing in Batman Forever, the massive influence from the campiness of the 1960’s show that strayed away from the world created in Batman and Batman Returns by Tim Burton and the horrible chemistry between the leading actors Val Kilmer, Nicole Kidman and Chris O’Donnell, also has to take the blame somewhat. Carrey has a body of work that any actor would envy, both in comedy with The Mask, Dumb and Dumber and the wickedly dark and massively underrated The Cable Guy, and drama, for Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind and The Truman Show in which he should have won best actor ahead of Roberto Benigini in 1999.

However, looking back at Batman Forever, you see how miscast he was. It was like director Joel Schumacher let him do whatever he wanted on set and just rolled the cameras whilst he improvised continuously. His moments and jokes in the film go on too long and make The Riddler little more than a farce rather than a threat. The Riddler should be Batman’s psychological equal and challenge Bruce Wayne’s intellect with his genius and cunning. Instead, he just dances around the room with Tommy Lee Jones’ Two Face and doing weird accents whilst prancing and laughing.

There is a big parallel for me with Richard Pryor’s casting in Superman III in which director Richard Lester let him improvise for huge amounts of time which turned the film’s tone into something strange and centred the movie on the story of Pryor’s character as opposed to that of Superman. Superman very much became the second string character in his own movie because Richard Pryor was beloved by the American public and directors thought he could be shoehorned in to lend humour to the franchise. It would be like Kevin Hart or Rob Schneider being the sidekick to Henry Cavill’s Man of Steel in the upcoming Batman v Superman. Just writing this now, I remember, with regret that Rob Schneider already played a sidekick to Sly Stallone’s Judge Dredd…

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Other cases include that of Seth Rogen in The Green Hornet. Like Jim Carrey and Richard Pryor you could say that Rogen is also the comedian of his generation, he is always guaranteed to make a huge amount of money at the box office with his comedies and he is massively well liked, some would go as far to say he has been the era defining comedian of the past decade. Unfortunately, the move to a superhero film didn’t suit him. It’s a lot more likely that the disastrous outcome of the film was not because of Seth Rogen and his inability to be serious or understand the tone of the movie. It’s a lot more to do with the many production and personnel issues on the movie.

Rogen has stated in interviews that when he wrote the movie with co-writer Evan Goldberg they had an idea that started well and began to change as the budget escalated. The screenplay was often heavily scrutinized by studio executives, nipping needlessly at pieces of dialogue. This explains the confusing tone of The Green Hornet which is constantly changing. Director Michel Gondry, better known for his excellent independent films, had also never worked on a big budget movie before. Even though the same can be said of Jurassic World’s Colin Trevorrow, at least he had the support from Steven Spielberg and studio executives who knew what they could expect and just wanted to make the best film they could.

The Green Hornet was not Rogen’s fault, like Batman Forever wasn’t Jim Carrey’s, but they’re the ones who get left with the mess while the director’s, the writers and the rest of the cast go about their careers without any criticism by the mainstream audiences. Because they are actors more known for another genre, they are pinpointed and given the most criticism as clueless hacks tell them to go back to “what they do best”. Although not strictly a comic actor you could argue Ryan Reynolds got a similar treatment as both Deadpool in the abysmal X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which he is atoning for with his forthcoming standalone movie, and the perennially derided The Green Lantern.

Which brings me to Marvel’s newest offering Ant-Man. It’s been over a ten year wait as the baton of director has been passed from Edgar Wright to Peyton Reed but throughout the entirety of Ant-Man’s production history the lead actor has always stayed the same. Paul Rudd is an actor of immense quality and is known mostly as a comedy actor; it is the genre that he has appeared in most and if you were to think of three Paul Rudd films off the top of your head the chances are they would be comedies.

Both the filmmakers and Rudd are taking a huge risk with Ant-Man because if this film flops, it will flop hard, considering Marvel are currently on such a winning streak. Sadly is would be harder for Rudd to recover than Marvel, it won’t ruin his career but it will be a blot on an otherwise wonderful oeuvre. He will forever be known as Ant-Man which would always have those negative connotations and would be the face of the Marvel movie that didn’t quite meet the standards of the others. Some people survive the bad reviews, comedic actor or not (George Clooney in Batman and Robin) and some don’t (Brandon Routh in Superman Returns and arguably Halle Berry in Catwoman) we will see what the audiences think in a few weeks’ time.

What Marvel are great at doing in terms of casting is hiring actors who are deemed serious actors, and then add the comedy as opposed to hiring comedians and then writing the script to suit them. The Marvel writers make the characters witty and funny, and that is due to great writing and the charisma of the actors, especially the likes of Robert Downey Jr. But it’s fair to say Paul Rudd could boast the same amount of charisma as any of The Avengers.

These days you don’t see too many comedians in these films. When people like Kevin Hart, Adam Sandler, Ricky Gervais, Jonah Hill and Jason Segel are making millions and millions of pounds with their movies why would they want to risk sullying their career with a massive flop of a superhero film. They don’t need that grief, especially as the superhero movies now move into the deep echelons of darkness; there may not even be room for these talented actors within the genre.

I think Paul Rudd is going to excellent as Ant-Man, whether the film will be equally great is another matter. He can take a ray of light from the fact that before The Guardians of The Galaxy last year, Chris Pratt was primarily a comic actor with Parks and Rec, The Five Year Engagement and What’s Your Number, with only really cameo appearance in films like Moneyball and Zero Dark Thirty to flex his acting chops, but has now established himself into the go to action hero for casting directors in Hollywood.

The Luke’s Film Blog Awards 2015

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The time has come again for my favourite blog of the year in which I can look back upon all those great movies from the past 12 months and decide who will receive a Luke’s Film Blog award. Some have argued that 2014 hasn’t exactly been a vintage year for film; however, there was still a huge amount to enjoy and to choose from. With the awards season already in full swing, and with no real consistency in some of the key categories, including Best Actor and Best Director, it is a very exciting and unpredictable time. Hopefully, my personal choices will celebrate some of those in contention for Academy Awards and mention those whom have been overlooked in the last few months. So, please read on and discover who has excelled and enticed this humble film blogger this year:

Best Film 

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A few months ago, when I was in the early stages of thinking of the films I’d enjoyed over the year I thought of The Grand Budapest Hotel and thought it would never get near an awards ceremony because it was released so early in the year. I was both shocked and delighted in equal measure when I discovered how many various nominations it had attained. For a film to have come out this time last year and still be in contention for some of the top prizes is usually unheard of. However, it is a film with a certain magic about it. A spectacular ensemble of a cast, headed by a delightful Ralph Fiennes, and Wes Anderson’s wonderful script and direction are just a few of the reasons that it would stay in the mind long after its theatrical release. There isn’t a more innovative auteur working today than Wes Anderson. The Grand Budapest is vibrant, colourful with effortlessly beautiful cinematography throughout that gives the film a unique originality lacking in many Hollywood productions today. The dialogue is sharp, witty and ultimately it’s a great story. It’s a film I can go back to again and again and enjoy new things, whether it’s a small line I’ve missed or a miniscule aspect of the mise-en-scene. Although it was tough to decide against the likes of Birdman, Interstellar and Calvary it is a truly deserving winner of this and any other award it accumulates.

Best Director 

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Birdman was a real treat of a film; original, intelligent and very funny. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu did an outstanding job of building up a huge amount of intensity in the confined area of its theatre setting. The idea of having the movie shot in very long takes worked so well and both Inarritu and his cinematopgher Emmanuel Lubezki should be applauded for that. It gives Birdman a very natural and realistic feel. Inarritu must have asked a lot of his performers to cater to the technical nature of the movie but they all certainly delivered to his high standards.  It’s different to his other movies that have been in contention for awards in the past, the gripping 21 Grams and overrated Babel but Birdman must certainly be his masterpiece.

Best Actor

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Brendan Gleeson is an actor who gives consistently fantastic performances but is rarely given much of a mention when awards season comes around. In recent years he has been outstanding in In Bruges and The Guard and he re-teamed with the latter’s director John Michael McDonagh in Calvary. Gleeson plays an Irish priest, who is told in confession he will be killed in a week, he must deal with the issues surrounding religion in the modern day and his own personal problems, not to mention the problems of his congregation as the date of his doom marches towards him. Gleeson is believable in the role and very likeable with the most subtle of glances giving the character real depth, but there is also a great pain at times that he pulls off wonderfully.  It is both a terrific film and my favourite performance of the year.

Best Actress

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Although this role didn’t receive a huge amount of praise because she has been so good in other things recently I feel that Anne Hathaway deserves some recognition for her role in Interstellar. Hathaway Plays it a lot straighter than she usually does as Biotechnologist Amelia Brand and loses the glamour we usually associate herself with in other roles. She is really developing as an actress and this role adds another element of versatility, building upon roles such as Fantine in Les Misarables. The character is believable and has great chemistry with Matthew McConaughey. She’s a very strong female character with a drive and purpose and played excellently by Hathaway.

Best Supporting Actor

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The supporting actor category of any awards has always been a tricky one as one must always decipher if an actor is a lead or a supporting role. It is sometimes the case that a definite lead will sometimes find themselves in this category, such as Steve Carrell for Foxcatcher. However, although Edward Norton can very well hold up a film by himself, he is my best supporting actor for his role in Birdman. Lately, Norton has been in a great deal of comedy roles including Moonrise Kingdom and The Grand Budapest Hotel and has demonstrated a real talent for it. Although his performance in Birdman seems merely idiosyncratic there is a lot more depth, hiding underneath and Norton has a real talent for delivering dialogue with his own unique style. His performance in Birdman is still, at times, as intense as Fight Club or American History X and Norton has a wonderful unpredictability and likeability to him.

Best Supporting Actress

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Scarlett Johansson has had one hell of a year; with leading performances in both Under The Skin and Lucy she has been extremely busy. She has also had time to appear in Captain America: The Winter Soldier as Black Widow (Aka Natasha Romanoff) where she was fantastic. She has developed her character over the last few Marvel films to give Black Widow her own unique character so she doesn’t just fade into the background. Her partnership with Captain America played by Chris Evans really delivers and I look forward to seeing her in Avengers: Age of Ultron in a few months’ time.

Best Original Screenplay

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Last year, Gravity came very close to winning the Best Picture Oscar but was beaten by 12 Years a Slave. However, it did still win a huge amount of awards. Whether this is the reason Interstellar has failed to take the Oscar nominations by storm I don’t know. The thought of two science fiction films doing well in two years may be overkill for the Academy. However, Interstellar was a film I thoroughly enjoyed and respected. It had a very intelligent script that was so full of original ideas that it could have lost many of its audience in the telling but didn’t. Written by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan with much of the physics coming from scientific consultant Kip Thorne Interstellar was not only the story of finding a new planet and travelling through wormholes but that of a family and these two themes combined to make a great script. It’s clever, inspiring and funnier than a lot of Nolan films before with TARs providing a great deal of the comic relief. There is always a risk that the script can get lost with so many special effects but there is no danger of that and there are real moments of intensity and poignancy throughout.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Frank film with Michael Fassbender

Frank was based on a book called ‘Oh Blimey’ by author Jon Ronson. Ronson had once been in a band alongside the eponymous Frank (Sidebottom, who was the alter ego persona of Chris Sievey). This is an adaptation of what he encountered during his time with the band and although the majority of it was fictionalised for the book there is a certain reality that remains. Written by Ronson and Peter Straughan the script has some great set pieces, very well written characters and a real journey for the lead played by Domhall Gleeson. The way in which Frank (played by Michael Fassbender) is presented is intriguing and his story slowly comes out in a very moving way. Frank also conveys the quirky narrative in a way that the audience can still become involved and is a great deal of fun.

Best Ensemble

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You just have to look at the poster for The Grand Budapest Hotel and you are wondering how all of these actors can fit into one movie. A collection of Wes Anderson favourites old and new collaborate to make a superbly acted film. The names just roll off the tongue: Fiennes, Brody, Goldblum, Murray, Dafoe, Wilson, Law, Schwartzman, Ronan, Norton, Swinton, Wilkinson etc. Combined with a magnificent breakthrough performance from Tony Revolori as Zero this is truly the cast of the year.

Best Superhero Movie

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This was one of the trickiest categories this year because there have been so many stand out Superhero movies throughout the year. Captain America: The Winter Soldier was an amazing, darker look at the next phase of Marvel whereas Bryan Singer’s return to the X-Men franchise with Days of Future Past yielded successful results, both critically and at the box office. However, for its humour, innovation and great script this year the award goes to The Guardians of the Galaxy. A mix of wonderful casting and razor sharp dialogue has catapulted one of the more obscure Marvel entities into the public mainstream and shows you don’t need a the most well-known superheroes to hold a film.

So there are the Luke’s Film Blog awards for the last year. Who knows what will be here next year, maybe Jurassic World, The Avengers:Age of Ultron or Star Wars: The Force Awakens perhaps. It may even be some movies I haven’t heard of yet and will surprise us all. Nobody knows but I can’t wait to watch these films and ultimately find out.

Feel like reminiscing? Here are some links to older Luke’s Film Blog awards:

Luke’s Film Blog Awards 2014

Luke’s Film Blog Awards 2013

Luke’s Film Blog Awards 2012

 

BAFTA Reaction

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I’ve always held the BAFTA’s in high esteem. Being British, it is the only award ceremony I can stay up for and still function at work again the next day, so it is always interesting which films are leading the pack. Also, a precursor to the Oscar’s it gives an interesting insight into the industry mind-set throughout the awards season. He is my very brief review of this morning’s nominations.

I’m in equal measure delighted and surprised that The Grand Budapest Hotel is leading the pack with eleven nominations in total. Especially, because this is a film released almost a year ago and it has still kept itself within the minds of its admirers long before awards season. It is up for Best Film, Best leading actor for Ralph Fiennes and Best Director for Wes Anderson among others. Whether it will win many or any of the awards is the question but it’s still encouraging to see this wonderfully acted and scripted film at the top of the pile.

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The rest of the Best Film nominations are made up by Boyhood, Birdman, The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything. People will be asking questions regarding the absence of Foxcatcher, Whiplash and Selma but it is a very strong line up still and really tough to determine the winner. Maybe, when the awards season buzz starts to get into full flow we shall start getting an inkling as to who the statues will be going to. Personally, I would really like it to go to Birdman, a film that takes risks and has a great deal of innovation. However, being a British ceremony there is a distinct possibility that they will favour one of their own productions so potentially Theory of Everything or Imitation Game could walk away with the prize. But, like I said, too close to call at the current moment.

Personally, I would have liked to see a few more nominations for Interstellar. Although the technical side of this amazing movie has been applauded, I feel there could be more in the way of script, acting and directing nominations for the cast and crew, especially because it is one of the smartest, emotionally strong and well written science fiction films in recent memory.  There also doesn’t seem to be a place for Mr Turner within Best Film or outstanding British Film which is somewhat of a shock.

On the acting side of things there is an absolute fine selection of talent in the Best Actor category. Again, it’s interesting to note the omission of David Oyelowo for his performance as Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma which was tipped to garner this prize at the Oscars. However, the performances on show here were remarkable. I’d be very happy for any of Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Keaton, Jake Gyllenhaal, Eddie Redmayne or Ralph Fiennes to win the BAFTA, however if I was pushed it would be Michael Keaton. In terms of best actress it is between Amy Adams, Felicity Jones, Julianne Moore, Reese Witherspoon and Rosamund Pike. Again, close to call but the way her performance in Wild has been talked about it very well could go to Witherspoon.

Jack O'Connell in '71

The EE Rising Star, which is always an interesting category that shines a spotlight on the upcoming acting talent in the industry, has nominated Jack O’Connell, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Margot Robbie, Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley. There is the question with this category if these are rising stars or they have already risen. Especially a few years ago when Tom Hardy won the award after being in Inception and having already been cast as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises. However, it’s great to celebrate new talent of after ’71, Unbroken and Starred Up, this award can only really go to Jack O’Connell, his development over the last few years has been exceptional and it really seems he’s made it to the big leagues now.

With the Oscar nominations still to come on 15th January it will be interesting to see if they sync up in any way with these BAFTAs. It would be a massive surprise if The Grand Budapest acquired that many nominations at the Academy Awards and there will probably be further recognition for Whiplash, Foxcatcher and Selma.

So, let us all brace ourselves for February 8th and the BAFTA awards to see what will come out on top. Presented again by the always wonderful Stephen Fry these awards are always a treat and with most of the nominations being too close to call this year it’s going to be interesting to see which way the awards go. This has just been a brief reaction and I will be back later in the month to comment more extensively on the Oscar Nominations.

BAFTA Nominations in Full:

Best Film

Birdman
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory Of Everything

Outstanding British Film

’71
The Imitation Game
Paddington
Pride
The Theory Of Everything
Under The Skin

 

Best Director

Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
James Marsh, The Theory Of Everything
Damien Chazelle, Whiplash

Best Leading Actor

Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game
Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything
Jake Gyllenhaal – Nightcrawler
Michael Keaton – Birdman
Ralph Fiennes – The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Leading Actress

Amy Adams – Big Eyes
Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore – Still Alice
Reese Witherspoon – Wild
Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl

Best Supporting Actor

Edward Norton – Birdman
Ethan Hawke – Boyhood
J.K. Simmons – Whiplash
Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher
Steve Carell – Foxcatcher

Best Supporting Actress

Emma Stone – Birdman
Imelda Staunton – Pride
Keira Knightley – The Imitation Game
Patricia Arquette – Boyhood
Rene Russo – Nightcrawler

Best Original Screenplay

Birdman – Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris Jr, Armando Bo
Boyhood – Richard Linklater
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson
Nightcrawler – Dan Gilroy
Whiplash – Damien Chazelle

Best Adapted Screenplay

American Sniper – Jason Hall
Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn
The Imitation Game – Graham Moore
Paddington – Paul King
The Theory Of Everything – Anthony McCarten

Best Original Music

Birdman – Antonio Sanchez
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Alexandre Desplat
Interstellar – Hans Zimmer
The Theory Of Everything – Jóhann Jóhannsson
Under The Skin – Mica Levi

Best Cinematography

Birdman – Emmanuel Lubezki
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Robert Yeoman
Ida – Lukasz Zal, Ryszard Lenczewski
Interstellar – Hoyte van Hoytema
Mr. Turner – Dick Pope

Best Editing

Birdman – Douglas Crise, Stephen Mirrione
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Barney Pilling
The Imitation Game – William Goldenberg
Nightcrawler – John Gilroy
The Theory Of Everything – Jinx Godfrey
Whiplash – Tom Cross

Best Production Design

Big Eyes – Rick Heinrichs, Shane Vieau
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Adam Stockhausen, Anna Pinnock
The Imitation Game – Maria Djurkovic, Tatiana MacDonald
Interstellar – Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis
Mr. Turner – Suzie Davies, Charlotte Watts

Best Costume Design

The Grand Budapest Hotel – Milena Canonero
The Imitation Game – Sammy Sheldon Differ
Into The Woods – Colleen Atwood
Mr. Turner – Jacqueline Durran
The Theory Of Everything – Steven Noble

Best Sound

American Sniper – Walt Martin, John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff, Alan Robert Murray, Bub Asman
Birdman – Thomas Varga, Martin Hernández, Aaron Glascock, Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wayne Lemmer, Christopher Scarabosio, Pawel Wdowczak
The Imitation Game – John Midgley, Lee Walpole, Stuart Hilliker, Martin Jensen
Whiplash – Thomas Curley, Ben Wilkins, Craig Mann

Best Make-Up And Hair

The Grand Budapest Hotel – Frances Hannon
Guardians Of The Galaxy – Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou, David White
Into The Woods – Peter Swords King, J. Roy Helland
Mr. Turner – Christine Blundell, Lesa Warrener
The Theory Of Everything –  Jan Sewell

Best Special Visual Effects

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes – Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Erik Winquist, Daniel Barrett
Guardians Of The Galaxy – Stephane Ceretti, Paul Corbould, Jonathan Fawkner, Nicolas Aithadi
The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies – Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton, R. Christopher White
Interstellar – Paul Franklin, Scott Fisher, Andrew Lockley
X-Men: Days Of Future Past – Richard Stammers, Anders Langlands, Tim Crosbie, Cameron Waldbauer

Best British Short Animation

The Bigger Picture – Chris Hees, Daisy Jacobs, Jennifer Majka
Monkey Love Experiments – Ainslie Henderson, Cam Fraser, Will Anderson
My Dad – Marcus Armitage

Best British Short Film

Boogaloo And Graham – Brian J. Falconer, Michael Lennox, Ronan Blaney
Emotional Fusebox – Michael Berliner, Rachel Tunnard
The Karman Line – Campbell Beaton, Dawn King, Tiernan Hanby, Oscar Sharp
Slap – Islay Bell-Webb, Michelangelo Fano, Nick Rowland
Three Brothers – Aleem Khan, Matthieu de Braconier, Stephanie Paeplow

 

Outstanding Debut By A British Writer, Director Or Producer

Elaine Constantine (Writer/Director) Northern Soul
Gregory Burke (Writer), Yann Demange (Director) ’71
Hong Khaou (Writer/Director) Lilting
Paul Katis (Director/Producer), Andrew de Lotbiniere (Producer) Kajaki: The True Story
Stephen Beresford (Writer), David Livingstone (Producer) Pride
Best Film Not In The English Language

Ida
Leviathan
The Lunchbox
Trash
Two Days, One Night

Best Documentary

20 Feet From Stardom
20,000 Days On Earth
CitizenFour
Finding Vivian Maier
Virunga

Best Animated Film

Big Hero 6
The Boxtrolls
The Lego Movie

The EE Rising Star Award

Gugu Mbatha-Raw
Jack O’Connell
Margot Robbie
Miles Teller
Shailene Woodley

A Tale of Two Trailers

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This is the kind of week we wait for in film. We were treated to not just one, but two of the most anticipated trailers in the history of the Blockbuster. Jurassic World and Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens may have only given us a few teasing moments to whet the appetite but they were enough to fuel anticipation levels and get everyone intensely talking and speculating.

 

The Jurassic World trailer came earlier in the week and because it’s due for a release on 12th June more post production has been completed so we got to see quite a bit of footage. In terms of plot there is a base to work upon here. 22 years after John Hammond’s initial attempt to bring dinosaurs back to life in Jurassic Park and create a park that would showcase these marvels it would seem someone has made this idea into a fully operational and popular attraction. Meanwhile, scientists (including the returning BD Wong as Henry Wu) are treading new genetic ground by creating the first hybrid dinosaur. The exact nature of this super dinosaur are very much under wraps and all we know are that it’s highly intelligent and kills at will, which suggests a velociraptor merged with something bigger, but that still remains a secret.

Being an obsessive follower of the Jurassic Park series it’s so great to actually see this trailer, just because it’s finally come to fruition. After years in development hell with massing uncertainty over who will direct or star or what story will be used it’s finally only six months away. Not only that but it looks great, it’s impossible to judge an entire film from a trailer but Jurassic World really does look the part and director Colin Trevorrow looks to have kept the essence of the original while adding his own style. There are only snippets of the various dinosaurs but there are plenty of them. Introducing new dinosaurs, including the massive sea dwelling Mosasaurus, and adding new dimensions to the old ones including the raptors, who are said to be working with staff member Owen played by Chris Pratt, both the human and dinosaur performances look a lot more layered than the one dimensional Jurassic Park III.

An issue with a lot of the trailers these days is they give away entire plotlines or all the best jokes in an attempt to sell the movie but there is still so much of Jurassic World which is shrouded in mystery. Does the T-Rex, the poster dinosaur for the franchise, return with a bigger role than that of the previous film? Will the raptors work with the humans or will they merely betray them? And what are the intentions of the owners of Jurassic World? Both Vincent D’Onofrio and Irrfan Khan are executives of the Masrani Corporation which own the theme park. Two big actors who we did not see in the trailer suggests that something more is afoot and I really cannot wait to see it on the big screen in a mix of excitement and pure unmitigated nostalgia.

Talking about nostalgia, whilst still getting over the trailer for Jurassic World only a few days later we had out first glimpse at The Force Awakens. I say a glimpse being it was only a minute and a half long. J.J Abrams and co have only just completed principal photography a few weeks ago and there will be still a huge amount to add in post production. Being only 88 seconds long and with a year left to complete, it lacked the flow of a theatrical trailer, but as random assortments of images go it was truly the pinnacle. Never before has an ominous voice over (Is it Serkis, Driver or Cumberbatch?) and a few out of context shots amassed so much excitement from so many.

It doesn’t answer a whole host of questions as to what’s in The Force Awakens except that it has The Millennium Falcon in all its glory, a Sith with a red lightsaber that, when ignited, becomes a crucifix shape and the X-Wings are back with Oscar Isaac at the helm of one. John Boyega’s role is uncertain, is he a Stormtrooper, or like Luke in a New Hope is he just donning the uniform and all we know about Daisy Ridley is she’s on Tatooine at some point of the film. So, lots still to speculate about. It’s been a real enjoyment in itself reading all of the various interpretations of what the various images mean. We still have a long way to go until December but from these few images it look promising.

One thing both Jurassic World and The Force Awakens are that John Williams was the composer for the original films and it is that music that really gives the trailer the extra edge over those of other movies. Interestingly, the same composer was look set to take over him for both movies, however, although Michael Giacchino is doing the score for Jurassic World, Williams is returning to the Star Wars universe once again. One thing that will be certain in both movies is the music will be spectacular.

We have been truly spoiled this week, even though the extent of that spoiling was a cumulative four minutes. At least we know that the films are on there way next year and we can go on speculating about plots and characters until they do.

What’s On The Way In 2015?

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Around this time of year, I often feel it is an ideal opportunity to start looking ahead to next year and see what movies will be released and which will be fighting it out during the awards season. It’s a great deal of fun trawling through many trailers and guessing what the future must watch films are, so here are a few of those films that I am immensely looking forward to in 2015.

Foxcatcher

Ever since seeing this first teaser trailer all those months ago, Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher has been the film I’ve been most eager to see. Already achieving a huge amount of critical praise through the festival circuit, including Cannes in which Miller won the Best Director accolade, it will finally be released to the general public in early 2015. Based on a true story in which schizophrenic, millionaire John Du Pont (played by an almost unrecognizable Steve Carell) forms an obsession with wrestler Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) winning an Olympic Gold and becomes his coach which leads down some dark roads which I won’t give away to anyone unfamiliar with the real life case. The atmosphere of the trailer is chilling, dark and intense and with Miller’s impressive oeuvre including Capote and Moneyball we can expect a dramatic thriller that will ask some real questions about the story in which it is based.

Mordecai

David Koepp and Johnny Depp reunite for a second time (Secret Window being the first) to bring us a the idiosyncratic Mordecai. It’s based on the 1970’s series of  mystery, cult novels by Kyril Bonfiglioli in which the title character becomes entangled in such plots as an assassination attempt upon the Queen of England and hunting a rapist in Jersey. In this version, Depp’s eponymous art dealer must recover a stolen painting that will lead him to Nazi Gold. Judging from the trailer Depp is perfectly cast as the eccentric Charlie Mordecai and with a stellar cast around him including Paul Bettany, Gwyneth Paltrow and Ewan McGregor  this looks like it’ll deliver on the laughs and the quirkiness.

American Sniper

The trailer to American Sniper is about as intense and dramatic as they come and would you expect anything less from the legendary Clint Eastwood? Bradley Cooper stars in his second film in two years with the prefix American as Chris Kyle from whom the source material comes from. Based on his autobiography of the same name, American Sniper charts Kyle’s tour of Iraq, his pinpoint shooting and the harrowing, quick decisions he must make with his weapon. The film looks smart and will ask questions of the audience they will probably be thinking about for a long time. What would you do in his situation? It will garner Oscar nominations (most likely for Cooper and Eastwood) and I’m very confident the movie will be a precise and interesting commentary on modern warfare.

Birdman: or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

The trailer itself looks like a masterpiece and Michael Keaton is an early tip for the best actor Academy Award. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, a director with a terrific awards pedigree with 21 Grams and Babel, tells the story of Riggan, an actor who’s best days, playing the superhero character Birdman, are well and truly behind him. Instead of continuing with the Birdman franchise he decides to expand his horizons onto Broadway whilst juggling his homelife and numerous other issues. Keaton is obviously perfect for this type of role considering the downward trajectory his career took after playing Batman in both of Tim Burton’s contributions to the franchise. He is a fine actor and hopefully this will motivate a career resurgence and at least an Oscar nomination. The script sounds sharp and the cast is excellent with a truly original story. If the numerous and positive festival reviews are anything to go by then the film itself could be in with a chance of winning Best Picture.

Jupiter Ascending

Whatever you think of The Matrix sequels, and their directorial efforts since, you cannot deny that the return of The Wachowski Siblings to the genre in which they changed forever is an event. Although expected in July of this year, Jupiter Ascending was delayed until February 2015 so thousands of special effects shots could be completed. The plot revolves around Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) who is revealed to be the heir to the House of Abrasax which is the most powerful alien dynasty in the universe. However, there are three more potential heirs to contend with, including Eddie Redmayne’s Balem, who looks like he is loving every second of playing his character in the trailer. The whole thing looks epic and in every way a blockbuster. It’s asking a lot for The Wachowski’s to repeat what they did with The Matrix, maybe they will, but this looks like a very enjoyable and action packed movie nonetheless.

So there’s the main five films I will be looking forward to seeing next year. 2015 is going to be one of the biggest film years for blockbusters in recent memory with the return of Star Wars, Jurassic World, Terminator and The Avengers and with a huge amount of movies like these at the start of the year, we the audience, are going to be well and truly spoiled, which is not a bad thing at all.

The 2014 Oscar Nominations Recap

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Yesterday, the world watched as Cheryl Boone Isaacs and Chris Hemsworth announced the nominations for the 86th Academy Awards. There was the expected, with 12 Years a Slave, Gravity and American Hustle leading the way; there was the unexpected as Tom Hanks missed out on a best acting gong for his remarkable performance in Captain Phillips; and there was a strange neglect of The Coen Brothers’ Inside Lleywn Davis which didn’t make it into the Best Film nine. With some of the categories being the closest to call in years let’s hope this is the most unpredictable Oscars of recent times and there are plenty of twists and turns along the way. I’m going to take a closer look at some of the categories:

Best Film:

Like the last two years, nine films have been nominated in the big category. Personally I would love Gravity to win, and considering it was not only groundbreaking but most people’s favourite film of last year think it stands a great chance. The biggest obstacle it faces is the Academy, who have not been known to vote for science fiction (Star Wars losing out to Rocky and Gandhi triumphing over E.T for instance) and could look elsewhere for their best picture.

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12 Years a Slave screams out everything the Academy have been known to look for in a Best Film including hard hitting subject matter, powerful performances and a period setting and is looking like the front runner for now, especially after its victory at the Golden Globes. But who knows, American Hustle and The Wolf of Wall Street have that high tempo, edgy scripts and perfect ensembles that the modern audiences crave and could be the top movie on the night. Like Argo showed us, we never know until the awards season really gets going and maybe Nebraska or Dallas Buyers Club could accumulate some Oscar buzz and run away with it. Then there’s Captain Phillips, Philomena and Her, all outstanding films, however, I wish the Best Film category will revert back to five films sooner rather than later as it doesn’t feel as special when there are nine or ten and filling the catergory with movies that are excellent but very unlikely to win is slightly pointless.

Best Director:

A real battle of the juggernauts here, a combination of The Master of his craft as Martin Scorsese is nominated for Wolf of Wall Street, the new kid on the block Steve McQueen, who after powerful pieces Hunger and Shame finds himself among the nominations and the innovative, modern directors who have made some spectacular pieces of cinema. David O. Russell has been the darling of the Oscars in recent years with The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook, and now combining his cast of the two is here with American Hustle which could cap off this hat-trick of nominations with a win.  Alexander Payne also makes the shortlist again with Nebraska after being there as recently as 2012 with The Descendents and Alfonso Cuaron makes the list for his masterpiece Gravity. I would love to see Scorsese win another Oscar, not only for his services to cinema but because he is still making amazing, interesting and original cinema like The Wolf of Wall Street and is one of the few directors in which going to one of his new films constitutes”an event”.

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Best Actor:

For whatever reason Tom Hanks was not among the nominees for his role of Richard Phillips, a performance in which his last ten minutes alone could justify an award. However the Best Actor category still contains a huge amount of talent and every actor deserves their place. Leonardo Di Caprio, who amazingly still hasn’t won an Oscar despite being the biggest actor on the world for fifteen years, is nominated for his portrayal of Jordan Belfort in Wolf and could walk away with the prize, how long can they continue to snub the actor of a generation? Chistian Bale and Chiwetel Ejiofor are showing how great the British can act in American Hustle and 12 Years respectively but I really think the real fight will be between the legendary Bruce Dern for his wonderful role in Nebraska and Matthew McConaughey’s powerhouse performance in the real life story Dallas Buyers Club as Ron Woodroof.

EXCLUSIVE: Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto film scenes together for The Dallas Buyers Club in New Orleans.

For me McConaughey has been on a huge journey in the last ten years. In 2004 he starred in the abysmal Sahara, I remember grinding my teeth through every excruciating moment. He wasn’t getting the right roles and was being parodied and mocked for his lack of versatility and taking off his shirt at every opportunity. Now though, after his inspirational performances in The Lincoln Lawyer, Mud, Killer Joe and The Wolf of Wall Street he now sees himself as the lead in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar and on the verge of an Oscar, so for me it’ll be McConaughey’s year.

Best Actress:

I think betting has probably stopped on Cate Blanchett winning the Best Actress award for her role in Blue Jasmine as a woman who descends into poverty and madness. Since critics first saw Woody Allen’s film they have already pretty much given Blanchett the Oscar without the ceremony. There is some strong competition though with Judi Dench as the eponymous Philomena Lee and Sandra Bullock whose performance of isolation and fear in Gravity was layered and intense. Meryl Streep finds her way onto the list, like she always seems to do with August: Osage County and Amy Adams, the only actor here not to have won an Academy Award, is nominated for her second David O. Russell film in  a row with American Hustle.

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Best Supporting Actor:

A real mix of actors here, some old and some new to the category. Barkhad Abdi, in his first acting role as the Somalian Pirate Muse in Captain Phillips, is my personal favourite to win. He managed to convey the trials of a pirate in a third world country with his powerful performance and takes a potential one dimensional foe into a rich, terrifying and memorable character. Michael Fassbender as slave owner Epps in 12 Years a Slave may also surprise one or two. Jonah Hill, Jared Leto and Bradley Cooper make up the nominations which, on the whole, contains a much younger demographic than most years. I must say that Daniel Bruhl’s absence for his role of Niki Lauda in Rush is beyond bafflement. He was interesting and really bought the character to life. Maybe the Academy thought after awarding this category to the same German twice in recent years with Christoph Waltz they wanted to have a change. That’s the only reason I could find for Bruhl not being nominated.

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Best Supporting Actress:

It’ll be a tough task to look beyond newcomer Lupita Nyong’o whose striking performance in 12 Years a Slave has all the critics buzzing. However, she faces tough competition from Jennifer Lawrence, last year’s winner for Silver Linings Playbook who, reunited with director David O. Russell in American Hustle, is already an awards veteran already at 23 years old. These two will most liklely be fighting out but never rule out Julia Roberts, Sally Hawkins and June Squibb who could very much cause a surprise and go forth truimphant.

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The Best of the Rest:

The writing categories are very close to call but I think the Adapted Screenplay will be a tussle between John Ridley for 12 Years a Slave and Terence Winter with The Wolf of Wall Street. I would hope Best Original Screenplay would truly award originality with either Spike Jonze or Bob Nelson winning with Her or Nebraska respectively.

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In the foreign language category, unfortunately, The Hunt is the only film I’ve seen. It’s strange not seeing Blue Is The Warmest Colour within the nominees but obviously it was too risque for the conservative voters. However, The Hunt is a great film with a fine central performance from Mads Mikkelsen and a gripping premise which would be a worthy winner of any award.

In terms of the technical awards, especially Best Special Effects, Gravity should surely clean up the majority of them considering how amazing it looked and sounded. Among these awards would include Best Cinemoatography for Emmanual Lubezki. A mention must be given though to the legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins who has received his eleventh Academy Award nomination for Prisoners. The man behind the lens of The Shawshank Redemption and the bulk of the Coen Brothers’ back catalogue has never won, but we live in hope one day he will get his due for his astounding work to capture the images that live long in the memory.

Who knows how it will go, the buzz will continue and the Oscars creep ever closer we know that its going to be a very exciting awards season and a great time for film. 12 Years A Slave, American Hustle, Gravity, who can guess at this point? A great time to be a film fan.