What makes the film industry different from any other industry? Its power to change people’s lives and shape generations. Every so often a movie comes out that defies the odds – and our preconceived notions – and becomes a cultural phenomenon that goes beyond the screen. This is the case of La Llamada (Holy Camp), which, after becoming one of the highest-grossing films of the year in Spain, gets it international release today on Netflix. I’m going to make my point right away, la Llamada needs to become a global phenomenon that goes beyond borders, languages and cultures, as it captures the voice of a new generation of storytellers and moviegoers.
The battle is on for Hollywood’s most coveted awards. After weeks of predictions, the Academy has finally unveiled the list of nominees who will fight for glory at the Oscars on March 4th. This year’s diverse nominations and wins during awards season gave room for debate on who would claim a spot in the final roster – except for a few exceptions: Would Greta Gerwig become the fifth woman nominated for Best Director after her snub at the Golden Globes? Would the Academy embrace Jordan Peele’s horror movie Get Out? Would the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement affect this year’s nominations? These questions have been answered and it turns out the 7.258 Academy voters had an ace up their sleeves, with surprising nominees and snubs.
Biopics – and especially those depicting notable historical figures – seem to always be a safe bet for Award Season. Some people love it, other hate it, but every so many years a movie catches the attention of critics and voters alike and becomes a potential contender – i.e, The King’s Speech, among others. This year, Darkest Hour portrays the first days of Winston Churchill as Prime Minister, at a time when the United Kingdom was losing the war to Nazi Germany and Europe seemed to be doomed. I am going to be honest, the race for Best Actor is over: The Oscar goes to Gary Oldman.
Ebbing, Missouri. Foggy morning. Three billboards stand abandoned by the side of a small road. Like a ghost. Martin McDonagh wastes no time setting up the scene of his third feature. After her daughter’s brutal raped and murder remains unresolved for over seven months, Mildred Hayes, a mid-western single mother rents three billboards to call the village’s police force out for their inefficiency: “Raped while dying”, “And still no arrests”, “How come Chief Willoughby?”. It is not hard to imagine that we are facing a tale of revenge, outrage and rage. But Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, is far from being your typical revenge drama. This is not a story of a heroic mother courage, corrupt police officers and mean villains, you should know that ahead. This is a story that shows what we would be capable of doing in such a terrible situation. This could have been – and probably is – a real story we can all identify with.
What is – or should be – the role of movies? To entertain and distract us from our mundane lives? To inspire us? To make a positive impact on society? Cinema, like art, is not science, and thus we may never be able to find a proper consensus on what its role should be. I personally believe that our social reality should be reflected in the entertainment we consume. Which is why, at the time of post-truth, fake news, media mistrust and general political crisis, both in the United States and Europe, The Post is the movie we needed all along.
Let me just start by saying that chances are Molly’s Game is going to be the most disappointing movie I’m going to watch this Awards Season and that based on the critics I’ve read online, I’m either wrong about it or the critics love Aaron Sorkin too much to realize it. I had been anticipating this release ever since I heard of a movie written and directed by Aaron Sorkin and starring Jessica Chastain, whom I believe is one of the greatest actresses of her generation, despite never having won an Oscar (although she deserved it for Zero Dark Thirty). It had all the ingredients: one of the best screenwriters in the world, Aaron Sorkin, was going to be able to direct his first feature based on the thrilling real-life story of Molly Bloom.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences just announced that late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel will be back to present the Oscars for the second year in a row. I truly love Jimmy Kimmel, I really do, but I feel forced to share my very unpopular opinion with the world: I think this is a huge mistake and I simply can’t understand this decision. These are my reasons (personal AND factual).
It’s finally Oscars Day, my favorite day of the year (just so that you get my excitement, it’s like my birthday and Christmas combined). Tonight all the questions we’ve been making during the awards season will be answered: how many Oscars will La La Land win? Will it break a record like at the Golden Globes? Will Barry Jenkins’ poetic masterpiece Moonlight spoil La La Land’s big night? In a previous entry, I predicted the winners of the main categories, based on articles by some of the main film outlets in the Internet, today I’m giving my final predictions in all 24 categories.
Short films are the most underrated art form there is: people don’t usually watch them (let it be live action, animation or documentary) and when they are interested in a particular one, it can be extremely difficult to find it on the Internet. As a matter of fact, since I’ve been a film student, the only people I’ve met who are interested in shorts are scholars, cinephiles and students, and even they are turning their backs on this format and try to make feature films in college (as undergraduates, can you believe it??!!). Why is that? I believe it is because short films never get the attention and appreciation they deserve, people don’t want to pay to watch them and it is very unlikely to recover the investment made to produce it. They are seen as a “lesser” production, as something reserved for festivals, but not for the mainstream public. It is like something that students made to learn their craft while hoping to eventually make movies, “real” movies. Well, I disagree: short films are made with extreme precision and craft to make you understand a story, empathize with the characters and, most importantly, make you feel something, in just a few minutes, with a limited number of scenes, characters and means. It’s all about getting to the point in a simple yet complex way, telling a story in the best way possible, without the fare and unnecessary decoration. I’m not saying in any way that making a feature film is easy, not at all, but a longer format gives storytellers more time and more scenes to make you feel everything a short film does in just a few minutes. Timecode, the winner of the Palme d’Or for Best Short Film and Oscar nominee, is the perfect example.
If the predictions are correct and La La Land wins Best Picture Oscar tomorrow, Damien Chazelle’s movie will be the 11th musical in Academy Awards history to take home the highest honor of the year. With this in mind, here are the 10 musicals that have won the Best Picture Oscar.