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

Brendan-Gleeson-in-Calvary

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

 

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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