Monday, February 27, 2017

The 'A' List

Change is the only constant in life.
So says Heraclitus.

And arts, for it to be important, must progress and evolve.

The #OscarsSoWhite situation that was evident in the past two years has put the President of the Academy, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, into a tight spot, as she seeks measures to make Oscars stay relevant in the faces of the public and artists alike. In an effort to bring inclusivity a part of Oscar's and the industry's game-plan, a 5-year diversity initiative called A2020 was mooted, leading to a stark change in this year’s nominations. For the first time in history, black representatives are prominent in all the acting categories, while more than half of the Best Picture nominees consist of people of color, which includes, among others, frontrunners Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris from Moonlight, running alongside two hot favorites Denzel Washington and Viola Davis from Fences.

“When it comes to fair & equal representation in our industry, words are not enough. We also have a responsibility to take action, and we have a unique opportunity to do so now.” - Cheryl Isaac Boone.

New members were invited to join, while the inactive members were pushed to emeritus status unless they are able to prove their relevance to the Academy. In the end, 683 fresh faces were ushered to join the latest class of 6,700 odd voters, and roughly 1% of the old members were purged. With the change, the Academy represented 59 countries in which 46% were female and 41% were non-white, offsetting the 75% male and 92% white membership of its previous class. But the problem doesn’t totally cease even with the new pool of members joining in to make up the diversity numbers; the Academy are constantly faced with several challenges when it comes to voting. Nominations can be affected by the vigorous campaigns launched by the movie studios, and above all, personal interests of each voter pretty much dictate his/her opinions on which films should make the cut. No matter, this year’s qualification does show the growing importance of diversification in an age of troubled politics and uncertainty, and the variance in this year’s nominations might bring the #OscarsSoWhite controversy to a halt.

Otherwise, we can put it almost pleasantly that 2016 is an astounding year for films as they shine and reflect the world at large, and this year would be a great time for the Academy to give nods to those who are under-represented. I, for once, am super excited that our very own Singaporean, Ai-ling Lee, is nominated in both of the Sound Categories for her creative audio works in La La Land. Here’s hoping that she gets a hold of that golden statue and raise the Singapore flag high. Concurrently, I am utterly dismayed that outstanding Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, nominated for Best Foreign Film for his film The Salesman, have decided to boycott the event entirely due to Trump’s visa ban on Muslims. The stupidity must end. Or people will pay the price. And I'm not talking about the cost of a movie ticket.

Inspecting deeper in the diversity issues, one will identify the many contrastive themes in the Best Picture nominees, somehow tying them neatly into a dramatic bundle: the undying passions, the declaration and servitude to one's beliefs, the importance of communications, the hunger for change, the making amends, and the drive to seek the things which are truly important in life. The assortment of tones, of ups and downs, like a jazz band improvising their beats while a cineaste escapes from reality, truly make the 89th Academy Awards a celebratory event of many firsts. It is a contrasting sea of colors to an otherwise “all-white” affair, and would be best described by Ryan Gosling’s character in La La Land:

“This is the dream! It's conflict and it's compromised, and it's very, very exciting!

Here’s a quick run-through of the 9 Best Picture nominees, following which I put forth the list of my predictions, and the results...

La La Land a layered tale of two limber and likable lovebirds, lure us to listen, laugh and look at life through luminous lenses, which were creatively laboured to lift us back, little by little, into the long lost days of lustrous cinema.

Hell or High Water A neo-western thriller tailored to flush audience into surprising territories, somewhere that resides between complex narratives and poignant storytelling.

Arrival An intimate and unparalleled look at the signification of communication, masked brilliantly within a sci-fi cacoon, metastasizing into a full-blown work of astounding genius.

Manchester By The Sea A slow-burner that resonates with the working class, directed and delivered unhurriedly to an exceptional conclusion.

Hidden Figures A biographical drama that hinges on the performances of the brilliant leads and supporting casts who internalized characters that are hidden from history, and in so doing, reveal facts and legitimacy in the era of post-truth politics.

Lion To seek truths and meanings, to pursuit life-long undertaking, to be guided by discipline and motivations; these are personifications of a Lion, on a gratifying journey of discovery.

Moonlight The unflinching anecdote of a man told in three chapters - serves as a reason to justify our nights at the movies - to reflect, magnify, and admire life, and recognize that every person has a story dying to be told.

Hacksaw Ridge A colour-by-number war film that flourishes cinematically, proving yet again that Mel Gibson is a director with a taste of theatricality and good, old-fashioned storytelling.

Fences Capturing the best impersonation to date, Washington and Davis soars like nothing we've ever seen before, playing with the source material and turning it like a stagey monologue of a powerful play, enough to move even the most immovable audience.


I need some time to process what just happened in the end.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Time After Time

Some things expire. Some transpires. Others inspires. Everything that you desire comes to a beautiful conclusion. The year ended as perfectly as it started. A new journey awaits, a new passage ready to be written. What stories do we tell? What images can the mind conjure? What’s next to be shared? We move with the time. And time is all there is...

Bye-bye twenty-sixteen.

Monday, February 29, 2016


So I managed to catch Carol, just in time for The Oscars. Let's now sit back to see how ridiculously bad my predictions are this year...


Best Picture: “The Revenant”

(alt. “Spotlight”) 

Best Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu “The Revenant”
(alt. Tom McCarthy – “Spotlight”)

Best Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio “The Revenant”
(alt. Matt Damon – “The Martian”)

Best Actress: Brie Larson “Room”
(alt. Saoirse Ronan – “Brooklyn”)

Best Supporting Actor: Sylvester Stallone Creed
(alt. Mark Rylance – “Bridge of Spies”)

Best Supporting Actress: Kate Winslet Steve Jobs
(alt. Alicia Vikander – “The Danish Girl”)

Best Adapted Screenplay: “Carol”
(alt. “Room”)

Best Original Screenplay: “Spotlight”
(alt. “Inside Out”)

Best Production Design: “Mad Max : Fury Road”
(alt. “The Revenant”)

Best Cinematography: “The Revenant”
(alt. “The Hateful Eight”)

Best Costume Design: “Mad Max : Fury Road”
(alt. “The Danish Girl”)

Best Film Editing: “The Revenant”
(alt. “The Big Short”)

Best Makeup & Hairstyling: “Mad Max : Fury Road”
(alt. “The Revenant”)

Best Music (Original Score): “The Hateful Eight”
(alt. “Bridge of Spies”)

Best Music (Original Song): “Writing's On The Wall” “Spectre”
(alt. “Manta Ray” “Racing Extinction”)

Best Sound Editing: Mad Max : Fury Road
(alt. “The Martian”)

Best Sound Mixing: Mad Max : Fury Road
(alt. “The Revenant”)

Best Visual Effects: “Star Wars : The Force Awakens”
(alt. “Mad Max : Fury Road”)

Best Animated Feature Film: “Inside Out”
(alt. “Anomalisa”)

Best Foreign Language Film: “Son of Saul” Hungary
(alt. “A War” Denmark)

Best Documentary Feature: “Amy”
(alt. “The Look of Silence”)

Best Documentary Short: “Last Day of Freedom”
(alt. “Body Team 12”)

Best Short Film (Animated): “Bear Story”
(alt. “Sanjay's Super Team”)

Best Short Film (Live Action): “Day One
(alt. “Everything Will Be Okay”)

- - -

Winners (correct alternative guesses in green, incorrect guesses in red):

Best Picture: “Spotlight”
Best Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu “The Revenant”
Best Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio “The Revenant”
Best Actress: Brie Larson “Room”
Best Supporting Actor: Mark Rylance – “Bridge of Spies”
Best Supporting Actress: Alicia Vikander – “The Danish Girl”
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Big Short”
Best Original Screenplay: “Spotlight”
Best Production Design: Mad Max : Fury Road  
Best Cinematography: The Revenant
Best Costume Design:Mad Max : Fury Road
Best Film Editing: Mad Max : Fury Road
Best Makeup & Hairstyling: Mad Max : Fury Road
Best Music (Original Score): “The Hateful Eight”
Best Music (Original Song): Writing's On The Wall” “Spectre”
Best Sound Editing: Mad Max : Fury Road”
Best Sound Mixing: Mad Max : Fury Road”
Best Visual Effects: Ex Machina
Best Animated Feature Film: Inside Out
Best Foreign Language Film: Son of Saul
Best Documentary Feature: Amy
Best Documentary Short: A Girl In The River: The Price of Forgiveness
Best Short Film (Animated): Bear Story”
Best Short Film (Live Action): Stutterer

19 right predictions. Time to sleep...

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Goldie Locks

A man sits in front of the iMac reflecting on his predictions: 

HFPA 73rd Golden Globe Awards Predictions:

Best Motion Picture (Drama): “Spotlight”

Best Motion Picture (Comedy/Musical): “The Big Short”

Best Director: George Miller, “Mad Max : Fury Road”

Best Actor (Drama): Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Revenant”
Best Actor (Comedy/Musical): Steve Carell, “The Big Short”

Best Actress (Drama): Cate Blanchett, “Carol”
Best Actress (Comedy/Musical): Melissa McCarthy, “Spy”
Best Supporting Actor: Mark Rylance, “Bridge of Spies”

Best Supporting Actress: Kate Winslet, “Steve Jobs
Best Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin., “Steve Jobs”

Best Original Score: Ryuchi Sakamoto, Alva Noto, “The Revenant”

Best Original Song: Simple Song #3 - “Youth”
Best Foreign Language Film: “Son of Saul”
Best Animated Feature Film: “Inside Out”



Alternative predictions:

Best Motion Picture (Drama): “Mad Max : Fury Road”

Best Motion Picture (Comedy/Musical): “Joy”

Best Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu, “The Revenant”

Best Actor (Drama): Eddie Redmayne, “The Danish Girl”

Best Actor (Comedy/Musical): Matt Damon, “The Martian”

Best Actress (Drama): Brie Larson, “Room”
Best Actress (Comedy/Musical): Jennifer Lawrence, “Joy”
Best Supporting Actor: Idris Elba, “Beasts of No Nation”

Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Jason Leigh, “The Hateful Eight
Best Screenplay: Charles Randolph, Adam McKay, “The Big Short”

Best Original Score: Daniel Pemberton, “Steve Jobs”

Best Original Song: See You Again - “Furious 7”
Best Foreign Language Film: “Mustang”
Best Animated Feature Film: “Anomalisa”



 The Winners (correct alternative guesses in green, incorrect guesses in red):

Best Motion Picture (Drama):
“The Revenant”
Best Motion Picture (Comedy/Musical):
The Martian
Best Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu, “The Revenant
Best Actor (Drama): Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Revenant”
Best Actor (Comedy/Musical): Matt Damon, “The Martian”

Best Actress (Drama):
Brie Larson, “Room”
Best Actress (Comedy/Musical):
 Jennifer Lawrence, “Joy”

Best Supporting Actor: Sylvester Stallone, “Creed”
Best Supporting Actress: Kate Winslet, “Steve Jobs
Best Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin., “Steve Jobs”
Best Original Score:
Ennio Morricone, “The Hateful Eight”

Best Original Song: Writings On The Wall - “Spectre”
Best Foreign Language Film: “Son of Saul”

Best Animated Feature Film: “Inside Out”

A rather hard year to predict. Anyways, here's a bunch of films yet to be seen: The Revenant, Carol, Creed, The Hateful Eight, Brooklyn, 99 Homes, Room, Concussion, The Beasts of No Nation, Trumbo and Son of Saul.