Last Friday at 5 pm Pacific Standard Time was when our nominations were due for the Academy. To re-iterate, as a member of the Producers’ Branch, I get to nominate “Best Picture” candidates. (Others nominate in their own branches.) There is a list of hundreds of films that were released in 2015 to choose from, and I get to pick five in order of importance. These not only include all narrative features, but documentaries, animated films, and foreign films, etc. All qualify, but of course very few non-narratives ultimately make it as a nominee. Narratives still rule.
I myself considered one or two documentaries because the experience of watching them was so visceral and gratifying, but ultimately, I chickened out because I did not want to have any of the narratives I really liked be left out of my nomination list.
I am particularly taken this year by the performances of certain actresses.
For instance, the very small, but excellent movie ROOM features an amazing performance by Brie Larson. How the director Lenny Abramson was able to keep audiences riveted for the first half of the movie that takes place entirely in a tiny room is almost unfathomable and largely due to Brie’s mesmerizing performance.
BROOKLYN is also an extremely touching movie that particularly resonates for me because it is an immigration story. The young woman, played by Saoirse Ronan who leaves Ireland, settles in Brooklyn, but then visits home again, becomes torn between two men, two countries, two identities of herself. She was transformed in the course of the movie. She reminds me of Emily Watson in Lars Von Trier’s BREAKING THE WAVES in the way you sink deeply into her eyes and follow every flicker on her face.
DANISH GIRL was also a beautiful film to watch, and features another outstanding actress, the Swedish Alicia Vikander, who was also fantastic as a robot in EX MACHINA.
Jennifer Lawrence is everyone’s favorite because of her spunky attitude and authenticity, but her film JOY may not get the same kind of attention as David Russell’s past three films.
Finally, CAROL, another period piece, features two lovely women whom we already know from many other movies, Cate Blanchett nd Roony Mara. Both are exquisite.
What is also interesting about this year is that there is almost a seamless divide between small, medium and large movies. Usually, it’s very clear when a movie is extremely low-budget, and can hardly be considered in the same category as a big movie. But this year, movies from both ends of the spectrum, and everything in-between, seem to be equal contenders.
Last night’s Golden Globes, which may or may not be a foreteller of what’s to come this year at the Oscars (it usually does, but this year could be very different), showered affection on everything from the huge movies, THE REVENANT and THE MARTAN, to tiny ROOM and modest-sized JOBS.
It was definitely a good year for movies, but a confusing one for Awards, with no obvious winners. Now that the Golden Globes has kicked off, we will be seeing a spate of other Awards from national and local Critics’ Associations and the key guilds, such as Writers, Directors, Actors and Producers. These are all influential organizations that may sway things one way or another.
The Academy Award nominations will be announced early morning on Thursday, Jan. 13, at 5:30 am (or 9:30 pm China time!), and we just got word that none other than Ang Lee will be one of the announcers!!
Happy New Year, everyone!