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LFF 2015: Best of the Fest



After 12 exhilarating and exhaustive days of motion picture madness, the 59th BFI London Film Festival has drawn to a close. Climaxing with Danny Boyle’s eagerly-awaited Steve Jobs last night (Sunday 18th October), the event once again provided critics and audiences alike with a plethora of content from every corner of the universe, and as always, thrills and surprises were not in short supply.

Whilst this writer was unable to see everything (kinda hard to see 240 films in less than a two weeks…), a large percentage of the watch-list has a nice tick. With premieres, previews, screen talks and showcases aplenty, there was tons to see and do across the period and we would like to congratulate Festival Director Clare Stewart and the team at the BFI for yet another wonderful season of cinema.

Now the curtains have called and the reflective mood sets in, we take the time to document the best of the festival, but rather than just telling you the films in which you must consume (and seriously, some of them are unfathomably essential), we’re also going to highlight the finest performances, directing, writing and much more. Consider this a Movie Marker Awards scheme if you will…

Of course this feature is entirely subjective and curated in accordance with what one watched. Please leave us a comment or get in touch via Twitter and Facebook to let us know your favourite films of LFF, as well as the titles you are most excited to see! So without further ado, let’s get this underway…




Nick Hornby – BROOKLYN

Author and script scribe Nick Hornby is a regular at the LFF and has been turning in wonderful, wholesome work for many years. In 2014, he impressed hugely with his efforts on Jean-Marc Vallee’s Wild, but with Brooklyn, he forms his most lyrical, poetic and perfectly profound prose. So radiant and alive is his adaptation of Colm Tóibín’s novel that surely an Academy Award nomination beckons.

Teeming with delicate character development, expertly founded humour and a longing sense of melancholy, the dialogue offered bursts with the utmost humanity; finding sincerity and sentimentality in equal measure. Through deeply expressive shades, his prose infuses the frame with irrevocable identity. This odyssey of love and life which spans the globe is an immeasurable beautiful adventure, and it is brought to the screen so vividly by Hornby’s pen.


Alex Ross Perry – QUEEN OF EARTH

Following his bitingly intelligent satire Listen Up Philip last year the festival, independent supremo Alex Ross Perry returns in 2015 with his inescapably direct and endlessly bitter Queen of Earth. Perhaps inadvertently so, he has crafted the most unsettling horror movie of the year, and managed such a feat in truly breathless fashion. One is yet to discover a finer, more assured original screenplay this year.

Matched with his invasive visuals, the dialogue here is founded with pure acidity. It poses challenging questions in a wholly confrontational manner, and refuses the spectator a simple answer to them. Just like the deepest wounds of emotional turmoil, it offers no quick-fix or easy resolution, instead Ross Perry drip-feeds the psyche with progressive malice. The assurance in which he forms his characters, their scenarios and the environments is of towering magnitude – this is an auteur at the peak of his creative powers and one cannot wait until Queen of Earth gains UK distribution.




Todd Haynes – CAROL

This adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s The Price of Salt is quite frankly faultless. Todd Haynes’ ode to the 1950s is a Sirkian symphony; a richly observed, intimately detailed voyage. Carol might be the most intoxicating project of pure cinema to arrive in 2015 – not a single cell is wasted. Founded upon the utmost artistry and intelligence, this creamily sensuous work maintains a trance long after you leave the theatre.

His frame is rendered with staggering authenticity – the cigarettes, the train carriages, the lipstick, the photographs, the cars and the costumes: all entirely steeped in realism. Conjured with ambient, warm 16mm film stock, Haynes delivers visuals so ravishing and entirely in-snyc with the tone and narrative progression, that audiences will be unable to fight the all-consuming aura. Carol is utterly exceptional and a gorgeous rarity in the modern American output.

Victoria Sebastian Schipper – VICTORIA

Fly away Birdman; here’s an auteur who truly understands the wonderful illusion of single-shot filmmaking. Across a mammoth 140min duration, Sebastian Schipper never once allows his roaringly entertaining and totally disarming crime saga Victoria to let up. From the moment we open, the brakes are cut and he sends us downhill with forceable velocity. This is visual cinema so breathtaking, so visceral and so relentless that you’ll be lucky to have any fingernails left once the credits begin to roll.

From drug-fuelled raves to bullet-strewn brawls, Schipper projects an urban fairground; one so vicious and urgent that it fails to ever release the suffocating chokehold. His lens invades and attacks, pulsating through corridors, scaling rooftops and zooming through the streets. With Victoria, he has crafted something destined for study and analysis across future decades: it is a draining but astonishing film that bathes the spectator in every drop of blood, sweat and tears.




Stephen Rennicks – ROOM

As heart-aching and polarising as Brie Larson’s outstanding central performance, Stephen Rennicks’ progressive score utterly enchants and enraptures. Collaborating with director Lenny Abrahamson yet again with Room, here he delivers the most poetic and poignant tracks which expertly render the scene in question.

Tying music so tightly to character and location, the overwhelming emotion of the film is undeniable; lump-in-the-throat viewing across the entirety of the running time. Gentle keys and warbling strings inject something truly powerful into the spectator, enforcing the gravity of what you are experiencing with masterful precision.

Carol Carter Burwell – CAROL

The soaring, achingly romantic sounds which populate Todd Haynes’ masterpiece are immeasurable in their grace and wonder. You only have to listen to mere seconds of Carter Burwell’s revelatory score for the hairs to stand on the beck of your neck. A film like Carol is so weighted by the sensory reaction, and the timely music plays into this notion marvellously.

Forever forwarding the narrative and those who populate, Burwell provides something so rich and cherishing that it simply sweeps you from your feet and gathers you in a provocative lullaby. Just like the direction, tone and palette, this is reminiscent of the era the film so wonderfully captures. A sure-fire Oscar contender.




Ralph Fiennes – A BIGGER SPLASH

The performances are the life-blood of Luca Guadagnino’s A Bigger Splash; in fact, there are the narrative, but the crowning jewel on offer is Ralph Fiennes. In likely his funniest, sharpest role to date – perhaps even brighter than in The Grand Budapest Hotel – the great British performer is both hilarious and endearing, provocative and repellent; a confused but emotionally sublime hybrid of the very best and worst of the modern man.

Whether he is karaoke-singing, spiritually dancing or just letting his genitalia swing naturally in the wind, Fiennes offers one of the greatest character performers of the entire year. So vibrant and super-charged is he that his presence cranks up the activity in every frame he enters. Even stationed alongside the likes of Tilda Swinton and Matthias Schoenaerts, this enigmatic and undeniable star beams with the utmost authority.

BrooklynEmory Cohen – BROOKLYN

The real find of John Crowley’s masterpiece. A true diamond in the rough. Emory Cohen – perhaps most recognised for his slight turn in The Place Beyond the Pines – is quite simply glorious in Brooklyn. He forms a sublime character creation that’s full-bodied and endlessly believable. Through his charismatic, human approach, we are instantaneously drawn to his energy.

Standing tall alongside his major co-stars, Cohen brilliantly and beautifully commands the frame, immersing himself in the period and world of the film, as well as projecting his admiration for those involved. It is a quietly radiant, expertly controlled portrayal that will serve his future career immensely.




Saoirse Ronan – BROOKLYN

Maintaining a prosperous career at such a tender age is a difficult thing, but for Saoirse Ronan, it simply feels like child’s play. Occupying nearly every frame of the 104min duration, she is entirely impeccable throughout. This is her most startlingly mature performance to date; one of much complexity but sensational control. So vivid and palpable is her portrayal, that often it feels as though we are really watching the actress’ origins unfold.

Ronan did make the trip from her home comforts of Ireland to the United States at a tender age. She did deny the securities and simplicities of home for the sake of her career and well-being. From the subtleties of her progression as she discovers her confidence and sense of place Stateside, to the depths and density of Ellis’s natural, rural grace, Ronan enthuses her central character’s make-up with layers of unequivocal excellence – both emotionally and artistically. She simply must be nominated.

Rooney-Mara-CarolRooney Mara – CAROL

Cate Blanchett is the queen of this year’s festival – starring in two Gala films (Truth and indeed Carol), as well as attaining the prestigious BFI Fellowship at the festival awards ceremony – but it is Rooney Mara’s utterly flawless performance which heightens this mesmeric achievement. The fragility and nuance of her role is something so unmistakably profound that it demands to be experienced, not watched.

The intricacy of the sociological, political and ethical layerings are rendered with the utmost thoughtfulness: so tender, so virginal, so divine. She is simply exceptional. In a career stacked full of highs, this is her most impressive offering. The hope is that Blanchett’s work in Truth is pushed for Best Leading Actress at the Academy Awards so Mara can qualify for her efforts in Haynes’ entry.



BROOKLYN – Dir: John Crowley. Prod: Finola Dwyer, Amanda Posey. Scr: Nick Horby. UK-Canada-Ireland 2015. UK Distribution: Lionsgate

“Exhilarating and life-affirming in equal measure…A rich, lyrical and irrevocably beautiful piece of motion picture art. Brooklyn is one of 2015’s most outstanding achievements.”

Full ★★★★★ review here

CAROL – Dir: Todd Haynes. Prod: Elizabeth Karlsen, Christine Vachon, Stephen Woolley. Scr: Phyllis Nagy. USA-UK 2015. UK Distribution: StudioCanal

“…cinema at its most defiant. This is of hallmark quality; a transfixing, enchanting fever-dream that ranks among the great modern American dramas.”

Full ★★★★★ review here

QUEEN OF EARTH – Dir: Alex Ross Perry. Prod: Elisabeth Moss, Alex Ross Perry, Adam Piotrowicz, Joe Swanberg. Scr: Alex Ross Perry. USA 2015. UK Distribution: Pending

“It is a challenging watch, an exceptionally disarming one in fact, but it is also one of the most vividly perfect films all year. Alex Ross Perry is a dynamic talent…”

Full ★★★★★ review here

Film fanatic and UFC obsessive. Avid NFL fan and Chelsea supporter. Maintains a BA (Hons) degree in Film Studies attained from the University of Brighton. Adorer of Michael Haneke, Woody Allen, Pixar Animation Studios, James Bond 007, American Indies & French New Wave.


2018 Academy Awards Live Updates #Oscars




Find The List Of Nominations Here
















0216: The performance of ‘Remember Me’ from ‘Coco’ was… interesting


0200: Jimmy asking Spielberg for pot…




0136: Best Documentary up next, presented by Best Director nominee Greta Gerwig and Laura Dern



0125: Next Up is Gal Gadot and Arnie Hammer for Hair and Make Up

0122: Sam Rockwell sets a time of 1minute29seconds for that Jet Ski

0115: First award of the night is for Best Supporting Actor…


0112: Jimmy encouraging the winners to make the night’s shortest speech and offering them a Jet-Ski as a prize

0110: ‘The longest Meryl Streep went without a nomination was from 1992 to 1995 and that was only because she was in prison’

0108: ‘We don’t make films like ‘Call Me By Your Name’ to make money, we make them to upset Mike Pence’

0100: And we’re off! Are you ready for the 90th Academy Awards?


2040(GMT): We’ll be live tweeting @MovieMarker from the red carpet at midnight (GMT) along with coverage of the ceremony itself from 1am (GMT)

Number of Nominations

The Shape of Water: 13

Dunkirk: 8

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: 7

Blade Runner 2049: 5

Lady Bird: 5

Best Picture

Call Me By Your Name
Darkest Hour
Get Out
Lady Bird
Phantom Thread
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Director

Christopher Nolan – Dunkirk
Jordan Peele – Get Out
Greta Gerwig – Lady Bird
Paul Thomas Anderson – Phantom Thread
Guillermo del Toro – The Shape of Water

Adapted Screenplay

Call Me By Your Name
The Disaster Artist
Molly’s Game

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Sally Hawkins – The Shape of Water
Frances McDormand – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Margot Robbie – I, Tonya
Saoirse Ronan – Lady Bird
Meryl Streep – The Post

Meryl Streep’s nomination is her 21st overall and her 17th in this category

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Timothée Chalamet – Call Me by Your Name
Daniel Day-Lewis – Phantom Thread
Daniel Kaluuya – Get Out
Gary Oldman – Darkest Hour
Denzel Washington – Roman J. Israel, Esq

Best Original Screenplay

The Big Sick
Get Out
Lady Bird
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Original Song

Remember Me (from Coco)
Mystery of Love (from Call Me By Your Name)
This Is Me (from The Greatest Showman)
Mighty River (from Mudbound)
Stand Up For Something (from Marshall)

Best Documentary Short

Edith & Eddie
Heaven is a Traffic Jam
Traffic Stop

1342: Christopher Plummer there, who of course didn’t even know he was going to be in All The Money In The World only a couple of months ago (reshot Kevin Spacey’s character’s scenes)

Best Documentary Feature

Faces Places
Last Men in Aleppo
Strong Island

Best Supporting Actress
Mary J. Blige – Mudbound
Allison Janney – I, Tonya
Leslie Manville – Phantom Thread
Laurie Metcalf – Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer – The Shape of Water
Best Supporting Actor

Willem Dafoe – The Florida Project
Woody Harrelson – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Richard Jenkins – The Shape of Water
Christopher Plummer – All the Money in the World
Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Foreign Language Film

A Fantastic Woman (Chile)
On Body and Soul (Hungary)
The Insult  (Lebanon)
Loveless  (Russia)
The Square (Sweden)

1339: Mudbound’s Cinematography nomination marks the first ever female nominee in that category for Rachel Morrison

Best Animated Short Film

Dear Basketball
Garden Party
Negative Space
Revolting Rhymes

Film Editing

Baby Driver
I, Tonya
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Makeup and Hairstyling

Darkest Hour
Victoria and Abdul

Best Production Design

Beauty and the Beast
Blade Runner 2049
Darkest Hour
The Shape of Water

Costume Design

Beauty and the Beast
Darkest Hour
Phantom Thread
The Shape of Water
Victoria and Abdul

Best Live-Action Short

Dekalb Elementary
The 11 O’Clock
My Nephew Emmett
The Silent Child
All Of Us

Original Score

Phantom Thread
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Sound Mixing

Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Sound Editing

Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Costume Design

Beauty and the Beast
Darkest Hour
Phantom Thread
The Shape of Water
Victoria and Abdul


Blade Runner 2049
Darkest Hour
The Shape of Water

1326: There’s Gal Gadot, drinking tea…

1323: While we wait, check out this great photo of grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn behind the scenes in 1956

1322: We are underway, though timings are probably going to be off as they always are with these things…

1321: Roger Deakins could get his 14th nomination for Blade Runner 2049, so far 13 and 0 wins! Is there anyone more overdue a win?

1317: Gary Oldman is tipped to pick up his first Leading Actor win for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in ‘The Darkest Hour’

1313: Just under ten minutes until the nominations begin, let us know what you’re rooting for over on twitter @MovieMarker

1307: Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri is another film expected to receive a number of nominations, with an Actress In A Leading Role nod expected for Frances McDormand and potentially Best Director and Supporting Actor noms for Martin McDonagh and Sam Rockwell respectively.

1305: The Shape Of Water is fancied by many to lead the nominations, it could yet equal the record of 14 nominations set by Titanic, All About Eve and La La Land – Read our five-star review of Guillermo Del Toro’s latest.

1300 (GMT) Tiffany Haddish and Andy Serkis will host the nomination ceremony, along with special guests Gal Gadot, Salma Hayek, Rosario Dawson, Priyanka Chopra, Michelle Rodriguez, Zoe Saldana, Molly Shannon, Rebel Wilson, and Michelle Yeoh, from the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Los Angeles.

The nominations will begin with the categories cinematography, costume design, film editing, makeup and hairstyling, original score, production design, animated short film, live action short film, sound editing, sound mixing, and visual effects.

The nominees will then be announced for actor in a leading role, actor in a supporting role, actress in a leading role, actress in a supporting role, animated feature film, directing, documentary feature, documentary short subject, foreign language film, original song, best picture, adapted screenplay, and original screenplay. This second half of the presentation will be aired live on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”


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Thriller Film ‘MADTOWN’ Gets Jan 5 Release



SP Releasing has acquired the US rights to the forthcoming drama-thriller feature film MADTOWN, starring Emmy™-nominated Milo Ventimiglia (NBC’s “This Is Us”). The film will release in theaters and on-demand on January 5, through SP Releasing’s output deal with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Milo Ventimiglia in MADTOWN

Written and directed by Charles C. Moore, MADTOWN, which made official selection at the Newport Beach Film Festival and the Cleveland International Film Festival, follows a troubled young man, Briggs (Ventimiglia), who flashes back to the demons of his past when his sister is released from her twenty-year prison sentence for the murder of their parents. Briggs must confront his estranged sister and deal with the past, while fighting to protect his future and the new life he has rebuilt for himself.

Official Trailer:

“It is a privilege to partner with the entire SP Releasing team,” said Moore, “Their commitment to the film, and Milo’s breathtaking performance, has been evident from the get-go. The collaboration with SP Releasing provides the film an incredible opportunity to be shared with wide audiences across multiple platforms, and for this we are most grateful.”

The film also stars Rachel Melvin (Dumb and Dumber To, Sleepy Hollow), John Billingsley (Star Trek: Enterprise, White Oleander), Bonita Friedericy (Chuck, Paranormal Activity 3), and Amanda Aday (Carnivàle, Shangri-La Suite, Pledge This!).

The film will release through Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in limited theatres and on-demand January 5, with DVD release following in February 2018. The deal for the film was negotiated by Tiffany Boyle and Katherine Imp at Ramo Law.

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Up Close with Francesco Pireddu



Movie Marker Magazine sat down with Italian actor-dancer, Francesco Pireddu to talk acting and his role in ‘Turandot’, Puccini’s grand spectacle of legendary China at the MET this October.

Can you tell us a little about your early beginnings living in Italy?

I was born and raised in Sardinia, a little island on the west coast of Italy. After completing high school, I moved to Rome with the intention to study Sociology, but my love and desire for the Arts was so strong and bright that I immediately decided to study classical ballet, improvisation and modern dance. After three years in Rome I moved to Tuscany to join Micha Van Hoecke, the renowned Belgium director and choreographer, who was directing a revival of one of the biggest Italian Operas: Rigoletto.

What inspired you to start dancing?

I always had a very strong desire to express myself through movement, and the need to explore self-expression, and body language, are still very much alive! Also, Mickail Baryshnikov and Rudolf Nureyev, the greatest dancers in the world, profoundly inspired me to dance.

Francesco Pireddu. Photo Credit: Balasole Dance Company

You have performed on some of the world’s most prominent stages including; the Royal Opera House in London and The Metropolitan Opera in New York. Can you explain some of those productions and your role within them?

Yes indeed. I performed at the prestigious Royal Opera House in London, in two major operas: Boris Godunov and La Forza del Destino. Both operas required specific and detailed choreography, especially La Forza del Destino, which is one of the most important Italian operas. La “Tarantella”, a folk dance characterized by a fast-upbeat tempo and one of the most recognized forms of traditional southern Italian music, was the theme of the choreography.

At The Metropolitan Opera in New York, I was in Aida, by Giuseppe Verdi, playing one of the Noble Soldiers in the triumphal march, and I am currently performing in the Turandot until Spring 2018. Franco Zeffirelli, the renowned Italian director, and most sought-after producer of operas, staged a magnificent and superb production of both operas. His creation wows audiences all around the world.

Both of these world-famous stages are such huge platforms for a performer. It takes a lot of hard work and discipline to be a world class performer in one of these operas, as they are vast productions with an amazing ensemble cast.

You have recently transitioned into acting. Can you tell us a little about how that came about?

My transition into acting was a very important step for my growth as an artist. As a dancer I learned to explore the movement, my body language and I acquired self-discipline and a strong work ethic. When I moved to America, I trained at HB Studio, one of the most original and famous acting studios in New York, founded by Viennese actor/director Herbert Berghof. At the HB Studio, I learned how to use my voice, how to pronounce correctly the words in order to create a character entirely from scratch. The training was intense and very fulfilling.

Francesco Pireddu. Photo Credit: Ewa Ligeza Photography

Your debut appearance as an actor was in ‘Top Broker’. Can you explain your role in the film?

In Top Broker I play one of the leads, Riccardo, a dancer who’s searching for an apartment in New York. A top realtor broker shows me an apartment; she’s attracted to me and starts to flirt a little. Things progress from there. It’s a delightful comedy and I was very happy to star in such a gem.

As an actor, what other movies have you enjoyed being part of, and the characters you play?

It is hard to choose but Top Broker has a special place in my heart because it was my debut appearance as an actor. I was playing a dancer so totally in my natural element. In Dolores I played Mr. Baxter, a serious and dedicated teacher who’s having issues with a difficult student. It was quite a challenge to play a character so different from everything I have done in my career. I totally embraced the challenge and I loved playing Mr. Baxter. In Life I played Paolo, a dancer who just graduated from a very famous dance school in New York. We were shooting outdoors, in Washington Square Park, and I was dancing and telling the world (in Italian) how happy I was about my latest accomplishment! For Play Love, I play Brad, a lover who’s having an affair. I had so much fun playing Brad! The rhythm of the story is flawless and engaging. Playing Brad gave me the opportunity to use my facial expressions like I never did before because the idea was to be over the top, bright and sassy. So much fun!

You star in several TV commercials including; JA Bank, Chase, Bud Light, Mountain Dew and Pima Cotton sheets. How did you find the pace of filming a commercial to that of a movie?

The pace varies and, technically, filming a commercial requires less time and a much faster pace. However, it all depends on the budget: the bigger the budget, the better. I had the fortune to be cast in these high profile national commercial productions, where we had all the time we needed thanks to a strong budget and a very professional team of directors and producers.

Francesco Pireddu. Photo Credit: Ewa Ligeza Photography

You star in the production ‘Table of Silence’ at the Lincoln Plaza in New York. Can you explain what the production celebrates?

The Table of Silence is a dance-tribute-prayer for peace. It celebrates and honors peace all around the world.

It’s a memorable event that creates an opportunity to remember, through a powerful dance and live music, those who lost their lives on 9/11. This global tribute was seen in more than 50 countries via live stream. I am extremely proud to have starred in this production. The message is peace and something we all wish for.

What type of genre of film or TV show are you drawn to traditionally?

I am drawn to drama. However, I am not particularly attached to what I am drawn to because, as an artist, I want to be open-minded and, in the end, it’s the story that makes a difference.

Do you have a bucket list of actors and directors you would like to work with?

I would love to work with Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola. Their work is remarkable and magnificent. There are also a few European directors I would love to work with such as Michael Haneke, the incredibly talented German director, and Lars Von Trier, whose work is unique and powerful. So stay tuned!

When you are not acting, what do you enjoy doing?

I enjoy relaxing in nature. Hiking is one of my favorite activities and having a strong connection with nature keeps me grounded and connected. I also love Yoga, which I regularly practice.

What can we expect to see you doing over the next few months?

I just completed the first season of Play Love and the writers are already working on the second season – which is super exciting. I am also in the incredible opera Turandot, at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, where we have performances until Spring 2018.

Twitter: @francescopire4

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