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BAFTA Awards' Royal Movies + Swimmer Problems Top Palm Springs

Daniel Craig in Casino Royale
Helen Mirren and Sylvia Syms in The Queen (top); Daniel Craig in Casino Royale (bottom)

Though usually more open to non-English-language films than the U.S.-based Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Orange British Academy of Film and Television Arts failed to place either Pedro Almodóvar's Volver or Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth as one (or two) of this year's best film or best director nominees.

Pan's Labyrinth did, however, receive a total of 8 nominations, including best foreign-language film and best original screenplay (del Toro). Almodóvar had to settle for a nomination in the best foreign-language film category, plus a best actress nod for Penélope Cruz.

As to be expected, the top nominees were The Queen, with ten nods, and the perfect example that at the movies bigger usually means boringer, Casino Royale, with nabbed nine nominations, including best British film.

Forest Whitaker, James McAvoy in The Last King of Scotland

Among the BAFTA surprises, both major and minor, were the inclusion of The Last King of Scotland as one of the top films of 2006 and a best supporting actor nod for James McAvoy (above, with Forest Whitaker), who has been totally ignored by critics and other award-giving groups in the U.S. – and who happens to be the male lead in the film.

Also, BAFTA members gave Dreamgirls a mere two nominations (best supporting actress for Jennifer Hudson and best music), while Children of Men and The History Boys were nowhere to be found in the best adapted screenplay category. (At least both Richard Griffiths and Frances de la Tour were recognized for their excellent work in the latter film.)

Several potential Oscar contenders – e.g., Letters from Iwo Jima – can't be found in the BAFTA list because they will not be released in the United Kingdom before Feb. 11, the date of the BAFTA ceremony and the deadline for qualification for this year's awards.

Now, in a previous post about the 2007 BAFTA longlists, I remarked that small British films such as Andrea Arnold's Red Road and Paul Andrew Williams' London to Brighton were not in the running in any of the major categories. Indeed, both are listed only in a general category called “Special Achievement by a British Director, Writer or Producer in their First Feature Film.” This award represents the British Academy's token recognition of independent British cinema.

The British Academy takes its international (read: Oscar – in other words, Hollywood) influence quite seriously. That helps to explain the prevalence of American and Anglo-American productions – Pan's Labyrinth notwithstanding – in the nominations.

That also helps to explain why the 2006 British Independent Film Awards are important.

Children of Men by Alfonso Cuaron
Edward Norton, Jessica Biel in The Illusionist
Matt Damon, Alec Baldwin in The Good Shepherd
Children of Men (top); Edward Norton, Jessica Biel in The Illusionist (middle); Matt Damon, Alec Baldwin in The Good Shepherd (bottom)

American Society of Cinematographers Awards 2007 Nominations

The feature-film nominees for the 2007 American Society of Cinematographers Award are critics' fave Emmanuel Lubezki (Children of Men), plus Dick Pope (The Illusionist), Robert Richardson, (The Good Shepherd), Dean Semler (Apocalypto), and veteran Vilmos Zsigmond (The Black Dahlia), who has been shooting films – among them Close Encounters of the Third Kind and The Deer Hunter – since the early 1960s.

The above list include the eighth ASC nomination for Richardson; the third for Zsigmond, who won in 1993 for the telefilm Stalin; the second for Lubezki and Semler; and the first for Pope.

Dean Semler's nod marks the second time that the ASC members have recognized work performed on a violent and controversial Mel Gibson epic. In 2004, Caleb Deschanel received a nomination for Gibson's blood-soaked The Passion of the Christ.

“Favorable reviews tend to mention beautiful images, but that's a matter of taste,” says ASC President Daryn Okada. “Artful images can be distressing if that's what it takes to properly affect the emotional flow of a film. Our members judge whether the cinematographer helped to create a sense of time and place that pulls the audience into the story. We ask how the visual language affects the emotional content of the film. Great cinematography is something you feel.”

Ivana Baquero, Doug Jones in Pan's Labyrinth
Penélope Cruz in Volver

That being the case, I found it surprising that Guillermo Navarro of Pan's Labyrinth (above, top photo, with Ivana Baquero, Doug Jones) didn't get a nomination. Though hardly “pretty,” Navarro's work certainly contributed to the feeling of foreboding found in Guillermo del Toro's fairy tale for adults.

On a whole different level, the same can be said for José Luis Alcaine's subtle camerawork in Volver (above, lower photo, with Penélope Cruz), which gives Pedro Almodóvar's comedy-drama just the right amount of colorful hyper-realism.

Zsigmond's cinematography, on the other hand, made The Black Dahlia look both pretty and phony – a grittier, noirish look would have been more appropriate for Brian De Palma's (generally panned) murder mystery.

And once again, both Clint Eastwood World War II epics, Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima, were missing in action. And so were potential nominees Babel, Dreamgirls, The Departed, and The Queen.

According to the ASC website, the Society “traces its roots to the dawn of the motion picture industry in 1913, when the Cinema Club in New York and the Static Club in Los Angeles were organized by the first generation of cinematographers who were literally inventing a new language. Fifteen members of those two clubs organized the ASC in January 1919. They wrote a charter, which dedicated the organization to advancing the evolving art and craft of telling stories with moving images. There are some 290 ASC members from many nations today, and approximately 140 associate members from allied sectors of the industry.”

Rafael Ferro in 'Agua'

Swimmer Problems & Iranian Drama Top Palm Springs Film Festival

The 2007 Palm Springs Film Festival has announced its jury and audience winners. The New Voices New Visions Grand Jury Prize was given to Rafi Pitts' Iranian drama It's Winter, the story of a woman (Mitra Hajjar) left behind in a small Iranian town after her husband (Hashem Abdi) travels abroad in search of work. Meanwhile, a good-looking newcomer (Ali Nicksaulat) falls for the lonely wife.

The Special Jury Prize went to Verónica Chen's Agua (“Water”), a French-Argentinean drama about the problems facing two competitive Argentinean swimmers: one (Rafael Ferro) is trying to clear his name from doping charges; the other (Nicolás Mateo) does whatever he can to join the national team, but fails all the same. Consequently, a professional and personal bond develops between the two men.

Spy drama 'The Lives of Others' wins Palm Springs Film Festival Audience Award

Writer-director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's old-fashioned spy melodrama The Lives of Others / Das Leben der Anderen was the Palm Springs Film Festival's audience choice for Best Narrative Feature. The Lives of Others revolves around a Stasi spy who undergoes a change of heart after snooping into the lives of a playwright and his girlfriend. Starring Martina Gedeck, Ulrich Mühe, and Sebastian Koch, The Lives of Others won seven 2006 German Academy Awards, in addition to taking home the 2006 European Film Academy's Best Film Award.

Lucy Walker's British documentary Blindsight, about a blind mountain climber who leads a group of blind Tibetans up Mt. Everest, received the Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature.

The International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) Award for Best Foreign-Language Film went to Guillermo del Toro's dark fairy tale Pan's Labyrinth / El laberinto del fauno. Ivana Baquero, Sergi López, Maribel Verdú, Doug Jones, and Ariadna Gil star.

Rafael Ferro Agua movie photo: Celluloid Dreams.

2007 Palm Springs Film Festival Awards

2007 Palm Springs Film Festival: January 4-15, 2007.

FIPRESCI Award Winner - Best Foreign Language Film of the Year: El Laberinto del fauno / Pans Labyrinth (Mexico / Spain / U.S.) directed by Guillermo del Toro

New Voices New Visions Grand Jury Prize: Zemestan / Its Winter (Iran) directed by Rafi Pitts

New Voices New Visions Special Jury Prize: Aguas Argentinas / Agua (Argentina) directed by Verónica Chen

Audience Choice Award - Best Narrative Feature: Das Leben der Anderen / The Lives of Others (Germany) directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

Audience Choice Award Best - Documentary Feature: Blindsight (United Kingdom) directed by Lucy Walker

Director of the Year: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Babel

Ensemble Performance Award: Babel

Career Achievement Award: Cate BlanchettBabelNotes on a ScandalThe Good German

Desert Palm Achievement Award: Kate WinsletLittle Children

Rising Star Award, Male: Adam Beach, Flags of Our Fathers

Rising Star Award, Female: Jessica Biel, The Illusionist

Breakthrough Performance Award: Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls

Frederick Loewe Award for Film Composing: Philip GlassThe IllusionistNotes on a Scandal

Sony Bono Visionary Award: Todd Field, Little Children

Chairmans Vanguard Award: Little Miss Sunshine

SAG Foundation Patron of the Arts Award: Sydney Pollack

Clive Owen in Children of Men

Dystopian Drama Tops Film Critics' Awards

The Vancouver Film Critics Circle has selected its 2006 winners, which were announced yesterday, Jan. 16, '07.

Among them are Children of Men (above, with Clive Owen) as best film – the second time a North American critics' group has chosen Alfonso Cuarón's dystopian drama as the top picture of 2006 (the Central Ohio film critics also went for it) – Cuarón as best director, and veteran Alan Arkin as best supporting actor for his bigoted, drug-addicted, but oh-so-loving grandpa in Little Miss Sunshine.

Forest Whitaker and Helen Mirren took best acting honors for, respectively, The Last King of Scotland and The Queen. Cate Blanchett was the best supporting actress for Notes on a Scandal.

Roy Dupuis in The Rocket

In the Canadian film categories, the best picture award went to Charles Binamé's Maurice Richard / The Rocket, a Quebecois production about the obstacles faced by the mid-20th-century Francophone hockey player (played by Roy Dupuis, above) in a mostly anglophone hockey world. However, the best director was Reg Harkema for Monkey Warfare, a socio-psychological comedy about two down-and-out, middle-aged bohemians who are befriended by a fiery young woman.

Monkey Warfare also came out on top in two other categories: best actor in a Canadian film, Don McKellar, and best supporting actress in a Canadian film, Nadia Litz.

Carrie-Anne Moss in Fido

Julie Christie was one of the nominees in the best actress in a Canadian film category for her role as a woman losing her mind to Alzheimer's in Sarah Polley's well-received feature-film debut Away from Her, but the winner was Carrie-Anne Moss (above) for her performance as the mother of a boy whose best friend is a human-eating zombie in Fido, a comedy thriller that was also voted best film made in British Columbia.

And finally, a North American critics' group has had the good sense to pick Pedro Almodóvar's Volver as the best foreign-language film of the year.

The 7th Vancouver Film Critics Circle nominees were announced on Jan. 9, '07.

The 7th Vancouver Film Critics Circle winners were announced at the Vancity Theatre on Jan. 15, '07.

Best Film:
* Children of Men
The Departed
Little Children

Best Canadian Film:
Away from Her
Manufactured Landscapes
* Maurice Richard / The Rocket
Monkey Warfare

Best Foreign-Language Film:
L'Enfant / The Child
Letters from Iwo Jima
* Volver

Best British Columbian Film:
Everything's Gone Green
* Fido
Mount Pleasant
Unnatural & Accidental

Best Director:
* Alfonso Cuarón, Children of Men
Clint Eastwood, Letters from Iwo Jima
Martin Scorsese, The Departed

Best Director of a Canadian Film:
Andrew Currie, Fido
* Reg Harkema, Monkey Warfare
Sarah Polley, Away from Her

Best Actor:
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Departed
Ryan Gosling, Half Nelson
* Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland

Best Actor in a Canadian Film:
Paul Costanzo, Everything's Gone Green
Roy Dupuis, The Rocket
* Don McKellar, Monkey Warfare

Best Actress:
Judi Dench, Notes on a Scandal
* Helen Mirren, The Queen
Kate Winslet, Little Children

Best Actress in a Canadian Film:
Julie Christie, Away from Her
* Carrie-Anne Moss, Fido
Tracy Wright, Monkey Warfare

Best Supporting Actor:
* Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine
Steve Carell, Little Miss Sunshine
Brad Pitt, Babel

Best Supporting Actor in a Canadian Film:
* J.R. Bourne, Everything's Gone Green
Henry Czerny, Fido
Tim Blake Nelson, Fido
Ben Ratner, Mount Pleasant

Best Supporting Actress:
Adriano Barazza, Babel
* Cate Blanchett, Notes on a Scandal
Meryl Streep, The Devil Wears Prada

Best Supporting Actress in a Canadian Film:
Erin Karpluk, Love and Other Dilemmas and Almost Heaven
* Nadia Litz, Monkey Warfare
Kelly Rowan, Mount Pleasant

Honorary Awards: Jay Brazeau, Sandy Wilson, Daryl Duke

 

Thanks to Ian Caddell for the list of nominees and winners.

Central Ohio Film Critics winners

The Central Ohio Film Critics Association may not be the most influential group of critics in the United States, but they did make several interesting choices this past Jan. 11.

For instance, Im quite sure theyre the only U.S.-based critics group that picked Alfonso Cuaróns Children of Men as best film of 2006, even though the dystopic drama has been getting mostly raves from American critics.

Other unusual choices were Leonardo DiCaprio as best actor for The Departed and Clive Owen as Actor of the Year for his performances in both Children of Men and the silly heist thriller Inside Man, which was greeted with positive reviews upon its spring release only to be completely ignored by year-end award-giving groups.

The 5th Central Ohio Film Critics Association award winners were announced on January 11, 2007.

Best Film: Children of Men directed by Alfonso Cuarón

Runner-Up: The Departed directed by Martin Scorsese

Others in the Top Ten: 
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
Pan's Labyrinth
Little Miss Sunshine
Brick
United 93
Babel
Thank You for Smoking
Casino Royale

Best Foreign Language Film: Pan's Labyrinth directed by Guillermo del Toro

Runner-Up: Letters from Iwo Jima directed by Clint Eastwood

Best Director: Martin Scorsese, The Departed

Runner-Up: Alfonso Cuarón, Children of Men

Best Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Departed

Runner-Up: Sacha Baron Cohen, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

Best Actress: Helen Mirren, The Queen

Runner-Up: Meryl Streep, The Devil Wears Prada

Best Supporting Actor: Eddie Murphy, Dreamgirls

Runner-Up: Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine

Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls

Runner-Up: Rinko Kikuchi, Babel

Best Ensemble: The Departed

Runner-Up: Little Miss Sunshine

Best Screenplay - Adapted: William MonahanThe Departed

Runner-Up: Alfonso Cuarón, Timothy J. Sexton, David Arata, Mark Fergus, and Hawk Ostby, Children of Men

Best Screenplay - Original: Rian Johnson, Brick

Runner-Up: Michael Arndt, Little Miss Sunshine

Best Cinematography: Dean Semler, Apocalypto

Runner-Up: Guillermo Navarro, Pans Labyrinth

Best Score: Gustavo SantaolallaBabel

Runner-Up: Nathan Johnson, Brick

Best Documentary: An Inconvenient Truth directed by Davis Guggenheim

Runner-Up (tie): Wordplay directed by Patrick Creadon, and Jesus Camp directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady

Best Animated Film: Cars directed by John Lasseter and Joe Ranft

Runner-Up: Monster House directed by Gil Kenan

Best Overlooked Film: Brick directed by Rian Johnson

Runner-Up: The Descent directed by Neil Marshall

Actor of the Year (for an exemplary body of work): Clive Owen, Children of Men and Inside Man

Runner-Up: Leonardo DiCaprio, Blood Diamond and The Departed

Breakthrough Film Artist: Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls, for acting

Runner-Up: Sacha Baron Cohen, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, for acting and writing


         
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