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On The Red Carpet At London Film Critics Circle Awards

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As I’ve said before, it’s a tough, dirty chore going to glamorous awards events but, someone has to do it. So, once again I selflessly hit the red carpet on Sunday evening to bring MovieMarker readers a little of the glitz that is the London film critics awards. As the big awards ceremonies become ever more bloated with their political pomposity and lose viewers by the millions, this charming little untelevised event gets slimmer, trimmer and more enjoyable by the year.

Possibly my favourite event of awards season, it’s less frenetic than the Baftas and has mastered the art of being fun and informal but with the credible seriousness of a festival prize giving ceremony.

Armie Hammer, Timothee Chalamet, Anna Smith on the red carpet with Rich Cline from the Critics Circle

I’ve attended the ceremony and afterparty for many years now and have had the most amazing experiences; calming the nerves of a tiny, fragile French actress called Marion Cotillard before the rest of the world woke up to her magnificent performance in La Vie en Rose, chatting about South Korean films with Martin Scorsese like it was the most natural thing in the world, listening to Helen Mirren telling us about her €49.99 ‘hooker shoes’, watching Jean Du Jardin being impossibly French and charming……it’s always been a great evening.

This year was just as good. The glamour came courtesy of Kate Winslet who hit us with the triple whammy of being beautiful, talented and friendly. She received the Dilys Powell award for excellence in film and richly deserved the two, huge standing ovations she got, the first for her illustrious career which, she reminded us was kickstarted by Peter Jackson when she was just 17 with Heavenly Creatures and then for her rousing speech about the ugly side of Hollywood, recently busted with a string of allegations of harassment by a number of women. Winslet admitted that she had ‘bitter regrets’ about poor decisions she had made in her own career, namely to work with some of the accused men. Most likely, she was referring to Harvey Weinstein whom she famously did not thank after winning her Oscar for The Reader. Weinstein’s name was not mentioned but the bulky producer was, undoubtedly the elephant in the room, so to speak.

Dover Street Entertainment is honoured to be sponsoring the prestigious Critics Circle Film Awards. We consider ourselves to be storytellers and we are very proud to be part of an event that celebrates that achievement in both the UK and internationally. As an organisation we hope to be able to continue to support those who strive to tell the stories that need to be told. Founder/Producer Graeme Scott, Dover Street Entertainment

Winslet’s career achievement award came at the end of a crisp, shortish ceremony hosted by Alice Lowe and Steve Oram who, perhaps, best captured the shapelessness of the #metoo campaign by suggesting that, as a man in the film industry, Oram would say nothing about anything all evening for fear of being accused of something, ‘while I can say anything the **** I want,’ chimed in Lowe! Ouch!

In truth the most likely recipient of unwanted advances at this event was always going to be the perfectly sculpted Mr Armie Hammer but I’m pleased to report that the female guests managed to restrain themselves – just! Although one woman did confess to me that she had never, in her life, swooned until it was Hammer time at the party…..

The critics circle usually has a pretty good track record when it comes to picking eventual BAFTA and Oscar winners. However I’m not too sure this year’s winners will follow suit.

Hugh Grant picked up a best supporting actor award and made the funniest speech of the night. ‘Brexit, Trump and now me! It truly is the end of days,’ he quipped. While he is nominated for a BAFTA and could just repeat his success there, the Oscar is likely going, deservedly, to Sam Rockwell.

Likewise Timothee Chalamet triumphed as best actor here but unless the campaign against Gary Oldman gets really ugly, he is unlikely, at his tender age to repeat the success at either the Baftas or Oscars. Similarly, Daniel Kaluuya beat Daniel Day Lewis and Gary Oldman to take the British/Irish best actor gong but, frankly wasn’t even the best actor in the clip they played from his film, so seems an unlikely winner at either of the major ceremonies.

The awards were on surer ground with Frances Mcdormand as best actress. She’s sweeping the board so far and seems unstoppable but the critics circle also hedged their bets with Sally Hawkins taking the best British/ Irish actress prize. She is touted by some as the one who could trip Mcdormand up at either or both the Baftas and Oscars. I’d say that’s unlikely though not impossible.

The big award, film of the year, went to Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

Best director went to Sean Baker for his criminally overlooked The Florida Project.

The nicest note of the evening came with a tribute to the late, great film critic Barry Norman. As the critic who people allowed into their living rooms, he was said to talk about film with warmth, wit and authority.

These awards were a worthy tribute to those qualities.

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Best Popular Category Had ‘Stake Driven Through Its Heart’, But Isn’t Dead Says Oscars President

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John Bailey, the president of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (who oversees the Oscars), has spoken candidly about the awards show’s bid to bring in more viewers with a distinct ‘Best Achievement in Popular Film’ award.

You’ll remember it as being the category that suffered a very public and embarrassing controversy in which Academy members openly rejected it earlier in the year, prompting the organisation to ‘temporarily shelve’ their plans until they could conduct a proper review. Speaking at the EnergaCamerimage Film Festival in Bydgoszcz, Poland, Bailey stated that the award had “seemed like a good idea, the board approved it, announced it, but we got a lot of pushback.”

“So the board reconsidered and tabled it – which is not to say that the idea is dead. Even after a stake was driven through its heart, there’s still interest.”

The Academy has a “generous” deal with ABC, who have agreed to fund and air the telecast until 2028. The challenge, in those intervening years, is to somehow save the show from haemorrhaging even more viewers. As Bailey says: “We have another decade, and we’re already starting to deal with the problem. There’s desire to expand the awards to millennials, many of whom do not have TV.”

ABC, who are majority-owned by the Walt Disney Corporation, may take some umbrage with the idea of no longer being the sole home of the Oscars, but one idea that has been repeatedly floating around is to air the telecast on the forthcoming Disney+ streaming service – a more palatable option, perhaps, for younger viewers.

However, when it comes to the concept of new categories that aren’t Best Popular, Bailey was considerably more cagey. Asked if we could see awards for motion-capture, stunt-performers, or achievements in casting, the president said: “A number of different crafts would like to be represented and there are ongoing discussions about creating new branches, but right now we’re trying to reduce the size of the board. However, nothing is written in stone.”

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Black Panther Faces Uphill Battle With Academy Voters In Bid For Awards Success

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It’s no secret that Marvel Studios’ head Kevin Feige wants an Oscar. And not just any Oscar, at that. No, much like Walt Disney before him, Feige wants to position one of his features – traditionally not in the wheelhouse of the average Academy voter – and push it (in this case, director Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther) towards a Best Picture win.

With the Academy’s retraction of their proposed ‘Best Popular’ category, Marvel’s movies’ chances looked – in all honest – scuppered, at least for any kind of non-technical nomination. But that hasn’t deterred Disney and Marvel Studios from pushing ahead regardless, and reports are coming in that the standard studio schmoozing, soirees and cocktail gatherings that accompany Best Picture bids have begun in Black Panther’s favour.

That’s not to say, of course, that it’ll be an easy sell. At a voter-screening and Q&A in August – six months after it released in cinemas to the tune of over $1 billion worldwide – 75% of the Academy members in attendance admitted that it was their first time seeing the feature. Despite the fact that the film had connected with general audiences in the way that it had, and become the pop cultural meta-success of the year, the film is so far outside of the Academy’s comfort zone that the picture faces a genuine uphill battle for a shot at a nomination. In a year in which it was the mega-hit to beat, Black Panther has become the underdog.

Coogler, who took the majority of the year off to recuperate after a packed press run and a lengthy production schedule on the superhero flick, recently reappeared in LA social circles at a Hollywood event last month and has begun the rounds in order to help Black Panther’s chances. Star Chadwick Boseman has also been incredibly proactive in campaigning for the film, meeting as many Academy members as possible. Scheduling hasn’t always been in the feature’s favour, however. Michael B. Jordan, the film’s most legitimate shot for an acting nomination, has been in high-demand, and is presently shooting Just Mercy in Atlanta.

When asked about the film in recent months, however, Jordan has eschewed awards talk in favour of focusing on the film’s cultural impact: “One of my highlights was just watching kids react to it and seeing themselves on-screen,” he’s on record saying, “Having people watch the movie four or five times, taking church members, taking boys’ and girls’ clubs — kids that didn’t have the opportunity to actually go to the movie theatre, they were bussing them in to see this film. To be a part of something that big and impactful is really important.”

Superhero films have, traditionally, been ignored entirely by the Academy. Last year’s nomination for Logan, under Best Adapted Screenplay, came as a surprise to many. But perhaps change is coming, and Feige may just get his wish. The nominations for 2019’s Oscars ceremony will be announced on the 22nd January, so there’s less than three months until the big reveal. Meanwhile, Black Panther is out now on 4K, Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital, rated 12A.

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Here Are All 25 Films Officially Submitted For The Best Animated Oscar Race

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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organisation responsible for hosting and running the annual Oscars ceremony, has revealed a full list of the twenty-five films submitted for consideration and shortlisting in the Best Animated Feature Film category.

The complete list is, alphabetically, as follows:

  • Ana y Bruno
  • Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch
  • Early Man
  • Fireworks
  • Have a Nice Day
  • Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation
  • Incredibles 2
  • Isle of Dogs
  • The Laws of the Universe – Part 1
  • Liz and the Blue Bird
  • Lu over the Wall
  • MFKZ
  • Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms
  • Mirai
  • The Night Is Short, Walk on Girl
  • On Happiness Road
  • Ralph Breaks the Internet
  • Ruben Brandt, Collector
  • Sgt. Stubby: American Hero
  • Sherlock Gnomes
  • Smallfoot
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
  • Tall Tales
  • Teen Titans Go! To the Movies
  • Tito and the Birds

Five nominees will be shortlisted from the list, and submitted for final voting on the 22nd of January, 2019. As things stand, the submission list is arguably one of the weakest in modern memory, with Wes Anderson’s stop-motion feature Isle of Dogs and Disney Pixar’s CG animated flick Incredibles 2 the clear front-runners.

The 91st Academy Awards will take place on the 24th of February next year, at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre.

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