Tag Archives: Oscars

Failed Critics Podcast: No Winners Here

cure-for-wellness

Hosts Steve Norman and Owen Hughes and special guests Paul Field and Andrew Brooker indulge in a bit of back-slapping over the Oscars in this week’s episode.

If you look directly underneath your seat, every listener to the podcast will find a spectacular, one-of-a-kind goody-bag filled with luxury items, such as one of 20 possible variations of a DVD with “Hooligan” in the title, a plastic receptacle measuring approximately 10 cubic centimetres, a mini-statuette of Dave Courtney with no trousers on, and a metaphorical token of our appreciation (redeemable once per lifetime and not for resale).

We re-cap our picks for this year’s Academy Awards from last week’s episode and find out which of the team is going to be most happy and who will be the most disappointed with the final results. We also reminisce about Bill Paxton, who sadly passed away last week, before running through some of the films we’ve been watching lately.

Steve finally found a cinema showing Fences after his rant about staggered releases on the previous podcast; Paul got his hands on a copy of decent Brit-flick Bonded by Blood 2; Owen actually listened to Steve’s recommendation at the end of last week’s podcast and for some unfathomable reason watched Nazi Vengeance; and Brooker snuck a few new releases into the mix with Patriots Day and weird psychological thriller A Cure for Wellness.

Join us again next week as the team take on Wolverine in the latest X-Men movie, Logan.

LISTEN VIA ACAST FOR THE MOST INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE

DIRECT DOWNLOAD LINK

Failed Critics Podcast: Wick, Wall and ‘wards

john-wick-2

Firstly, apologies for the admittedly rubbish hatchet job on the editing this week. Long story short, after spending ages editing out the ums, pauses, yeahs, anyways, clicks, clacks, mic noises, talking over each other and insufferably bad jokes (maybe not so many of the latter), the project crashed. So much for recovery files. That just leaves a very (very) rushed edit – on the plus side, you get to hear for the first time in years just how an unedited Failed Critics podcast sounds!

Secondly, at least all the content that was worth listening to survived! Hooray? Hooray! That means this episode contains our full preview of this weekend’s Academy Awards… of which you can also pick the films you think will win an Oscar in the 11 categories below to win super-cool prizes* by leaving a comment in the box below.

*not necessarily super-cool.

There are also reviews of a bunch of new releases in this week’s episode. The action-thriller John Wick: Chapter 2 has Owen and Brooker wondering if it really is the best film of the year. Steve most definitely did not wonder for very long whether he found the best film of the year with The Great Wall. Paul also thinks he may have found the most boring film of the year with The Founder.

Join us again next week as we round-up the winners and losers from the Oscars 2017.

LISTEN VIA ACAST FOR THE MOST INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE

DIRECT DOWNLOAD LINK

1) Best Picture
Arrival – Shawn Levy, Dan Levine, Aaron Ryder, and David Linde
Fences – Scott Rudin, Denzel Washington, and Todd Black
Hacksaw Ridge – Bill Mechanic and David Permut
Hell or High Water – Carla Hacken and Julie Yorn
Hidden Figures – Donna Gigliotti, Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping, Pharrell Williams, and Theodore Melfi
La La Land – Fred Berger, Jordan Horowitz, and Marc Platt
Lion – Emile Sherman, Iain Canning, and Angie Fielder
Manchester by the Sea – Matt Damon, Kimberly Steward, Chris Moore, Lauren Beck, and Kevin J. Walsh
Moonlight – Adele Romanski, Dede Gardner, and Jeremy Kleiner

2) Best Director
Denis Villeneuve – Arrival
Mel Gibson – Hacksaw Ridge
Damien Chazelle – La La Land
Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea
Barry Jenkins – Moonlight

3) Best Actor
Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea as Lee Chandler
Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge as Desmond T. Doss
Ryan Gosling – La La Land as Sebastian Wilder
Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic as Ben Cash
Denzel Washington – Fences as Troy Maxson

4) Best Actress
Isabelle Huppert – Elle as Michèle Leblanc
Ruth Negga – Loving as Mildred Loving
Natalie Portman – Jackie as Jackie Kennedy
Emma Stone – La La Land as Mia Dolan
Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins as Florence Foster Jenkins

5) Best Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali – Moonlight as Juan
Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water as Marcus Hamilton
Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea as Patrick Chandler
Dev Patel – Lion as Saroo Brierley
Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals as Detective Bobby Andes

6) Best Supporting Actress
Viola Davis – Fences as Rose Maxson
Naomie Harris – Moonlight as Paula
Nicole Kidman – Lion as Sue Brierley
Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures as Dorothy Vaughan
Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea as Randi

7) Best Original Screenplay
Hell or High Water – Taylor Sheridan
La La Land – Damien Chazelle
The Lobster – Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou
Manchester by the Sea – Kenneth Lonergan
20th Century Women – Mike Mills

8) Best Adapted Screenplay
Arrival – Eric Heisserer from “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang
Fences – August Wilson from Fences by August Wilson
Hidden Figures – Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi from Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
Lion – Luke Davies from A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley and Larry Buttrose
Moonlight – Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney from In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by Tarell Alvin McCraney

9) Best Animated Feature Film
Kubo and the Two Strings – Travis Knight and Arianne Sutner
Moana – John Musker, Ron Clements, and Osnat Shurer
My Life as a Zucchini – Claude Barras and Max Karli
The Red Turtle – Michaël Dudok de Wit and Toshio Suzuki
Zootopia – Byron Howard, Rich Moore, and Clark Spencer

10) Best Foreign Language Film
Land of Mine (Denmark) in Danish – Martin Zandvliet
A Man Called Ove (Sweden) in Swedish – Hannes Holm
The Salesman (Iran) in Persian – Asghar Farhadi
Tanna (Australia) in Nauvhal – Martin Butler and Bentley Dean
Toni Erdmann (Germany) in German – Maren Ade

11) Best Documentary – Feature
Fire at Sea – Gianfranco Rosi and Donatella Palermo
I Am Not Your Negro – Raoul Peck, Rémi Grellety, and Hébert Peck
Life, Animated – Roger Ross Williams and Julie Goldman
O.J.: Made in America – Ezra Edelman and Caroline Waterlow
13th – Ava DuVernay, Spencer Averick, and Howard Barish

Failed Critics Unplugged: The Old Contemptibles

live-logo

Ow yow doin’, ar kid? Y’am oroight, ay ya? Bostin’! This bonus triple bill episode has the dubious honour of being our first ever podcast recorded live in person without the aid of Skype. Owen Hughes, Tony Black and Andrew Brooker went all the way to a pub in Birmingham to record 70 minutes worth of bonus content just for the Hell of it.

Alcohol was consumed and a quiet corner in a lovely little boozer was found. The fact that the Six Nations then kicked off and the Failed Critics were soon surrounded by a cacophony of noise, whilst being stared at by the barmaid for not ordering any drinks for an hour and a half, is by the by.

A short opening 5 minutes or so of slightly-tipsy chatter aside, the format is much the same as usual. There’s a What We’ve Been Watching segment, where Tony gives us his take on the first five Resident Evil films, Brooker rewatches Peter Berg’s Deepwater Horizon in preparation for Patriots Day, and Owen categorically states that yes, Shallow Grave is indeed a film.

The show is rounded off with a triple bill of our completely new ideas for films that would be guaranteed to win an Oscar. Paraplegics, Nazi Germany, political biopics, and, um, a touch of bestiality: the works! All of our ideas are of course copyright of Failed Critics – just in case you’re reading this, Harvey Weinstein.

We’ll be back to normal (and much improved sound quality) for the 250th episode special, due out next week.

LISTEN VIA ACAST FOR THE MOST INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE

DIRECT DOWNLOAD LINK

Failed Critics Podcast: La La Late

LLL d 12 _2381.NEF

Well it seems we were a little hasty this week in recording the podcast. If only we’d have waited another 12 hours, we could have discussed the actual nominations for the Academy Awards and not just speculated. Although it doesn’t seem to matter as we were broadly correct in our predictions and round-up our thoughts in a brief news section to open the show proper (after Steve Norman hosts the long-delayed quiz finale between Owen Hughes and Callum Petch).

Speaking of delays – apologies to those of you who were expecting an episode last week. Fate conspired against us on a number of occasions when we wanted to record.

But don’t worry! Even though record-breaking La La Land was not released this weekend but seven days earlier, we still bung it in with both Manchester By The Sea and animated comedy Sing in the new release reviews. We also found time to run through some other movies that we’ve been watching of late as Steve gets creeped out by Robin Williams in One Hour Photo, Owen raves about sci-fi writer Nigel Kneale, and Callum regales us with his story of a trip to see Labyrinth for the first time.

Join us again next week for our T2: Trainspotting review, plus our usual load of shambolic nonsense.

LISTEN VIA ACAST FOR THE MOST INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE

DIRECT DOWNLOAD LINK

Failed Critics Podcast: Oscars 2016

dicaprio

Welcome to this week’s Oscars special Failed Critics Podcast. Steve Norman and Owen Hughes are joined once again by Paul Field and Andrew Brooker after their appearance on the preview episode released a couple of weeks back, returning to react to the eventual winners and losers at the 88th Academy Awards.

Winners that included Leonardo DiCaprio, who has inadvertently cost himself the opportunity of ever appearing in the Failed Critics Corridor of Praise. Didn’t anybody warn him before he went up to collect his award? Oh well.

The stage was set for us to get all glamorous and spread the word about some very important socio-political issues that were close to our hearts… Alas, we were self-sabotaging the whole night through instead. Rallying against the Oscars being used as one-upmanship for actors with the biggest and most important cause that they care about, we flipped 180 degrees and outdid ourselves in the crass, ignorant and often downright offensive stakes.

At least the episode is relatively short this week – a sign of just how much more offensive we could be that those comments simply couldn’t stay in the episode and had to be edited out – but we still managed to cover two new releases. The disappointingly tame horror The Forest almost put Brooker to sleep, but Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest comedy, Grimsby, had at least one fan on the show.

Join us again next week for slightly less in-jokes and more film chat.

LISTEN VIA ACAST FOR THE MOST INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE

DIRECT DOWNLOAD LINK

Front Row with Owen and Paul: Widdle Rumpton

Front Row Logo

Five episodes in and it’s still plain sailing for Owen Hughes and Paul Rutland’s show, Front Row, over at Bucks101 Radio.

This week’s podcast digest features the usual mix of japes and hijinks. Our main movie review is Bone Tomahawk, a horror-western genre mash-up that will plague Owen’s nightmares for a good while. We also chat more generally about the Oscars and who we think will win in the “big four” categories. Meanwhile, Paul’s sports round-up features reports on the latest developments in the Champions League, the cricket and with the ever-controversial Ronnie O’Sullivan. We also have something a little different towards the end of the show as we land on another new topic in Roll the Dice.

Front Row will be back on the radio next Thursday at 6pm where you can catch the whole show – that’s movie reviews, sports reports and another dice roll, on top of our selection of music that you miss out on in the podcast (but you already know that by now). Take a look at the playlist below to see which tracks you missed out on this week.

Playlist:

  1. The Temper Trap – Sweet Disposition (Paul)
  2. Pearl Jam – Unemployable (Owen)
  3. Zac Brown Band – Toes (Paul)
  4. The Shins – Pariah King (Owen)
  5. Russell Morris – Wings of an Eagle (Paul)
  6. Satellite High – The Bus Is Late (Owen)
  7. Jack Johnson – Better Together (Paul)
  8. Lake – Remote Control Cars (Owen)

Right-click and choose ‘save as’ to download the podcast as an mp3

The Best Picture Winners That Never Were – Part 2 (1991 – 2015)

pulp_fiction_new_images_for_windows

“Now are you a rusher? Or are you a dragger?”

Yup, the Oscars are almost here. The annual celebration of people doing their job very well when they’re paid hundreds of thousands of times more than you and me do for our nine-to-fives. Basically, it’s Hollywood’s Employee of the Month award with an almost ironclad guarantee that winners will go on to do something bloody awful afterwards – I’m looking at you, Halle Berry and I’m DEFINITELY not looking at Swordfish.

So what do you say? Shall we continue my list of missed opportunities and wrong decisions? I promise to be a little less controversial than I was in the first part and hopefully, hopefully, you’ll agree with some of my choices. Only one way to find out.


1994 – Pulp Fiction

The first of a 1994 double bill that lost out to the bloody terrible Forrest Gump. Yeah, I know, I’ve probably lost you already, but hear me out. My dislike for Tom Hanks aside, I simply don’t like Gump and his stupid face. The whole film just bugs me, and the fact that it has beaten a bonafide classic like Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction is just unforgivable.

The intertwined stories of gangsters, everyday criminals and Joe average that blurs the lines between good guys and bad is one of the most amazing films dedicated to celluloid. To spend the two and a half hour running-time with these characters is to spend a tenth of your day with some of the most brilliantly written characters in the history of film.

Between this, and the next film in my list, there’s no way on God’s green earth that anyone, ANYONE, can tell me that they think the escapades of Mr. Gump deserves that Oscar.


1994 – The Shawshank Redemption

Yeah, believe it or not, the Forrest Chump beat this to the Oscar too. Based on a Stephen King short story and current, almost permanent, number one on the IMDB top 250 (Pulp Fiction is 5, while Hanks’ statue thief sits at 13), Shawshank is regarded by many as the greatest film is ever made.

Frank Darabont makes his feature film debut and gets his name known around the world with what is easily the best prison drama put to film. Featuring Tim Robbins and an Oscar nominated performance from Morgan Freeman as a pair of unlikely friends working through years behind bars with each other. With escape constantly on the mind of Robbins’ innocent Andy Dufresne and Freeman’s “Red” living with the desire to just play out his time in peace and quiet; Shawshank is maybe the only film that could beat Tarantino’s Classic to the finishing line if quality of film was actually the standard used for handing out these awards.


1997 – Good Will Hunting

Genuinely, I think this is a no-brainer. Forget the star power of writers Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, Good Will Hunting is a truly original film. The story of Damon’s Will Hunting who, with the help and guidance from his court appointed psychologist (Robin Williams) learns to find his identity in a world where he can solve almost any problem, but can’t seem to shift his own personal demons.

Compare that to the film that won the Oscar that year? A film about a giant sinking boat. And while Titanic may be a visually impressive film to watch, the fact that it’s a love story, based on an unsinkable boat that sank, where the happy ever after was one of the lovers freezing to death in the water while the other clung to a lump of wood to survive? No thanks. Utter guff. And again, no staying power. All these years later, Titanic looks like a CGI laden mess, Good Will Hunting can still draw you in with its fantastic drama.


2011 – Moneyball

Definitely more of a personal opinion for this one than a flat out obvious mistake on the Academy’s part. Based on Michael Lewis’ book, The art of winning an unfair game, this Brad Pitt starring drama lost out to The Artist. Now, I enjoyed The Artist; it was a well made film that, considering what it was, kept me riveted the entire time it was on. But in my opinion, it was a flash in the pan and on second viewing isn’t half as good.

Moneyball earned a handful of nomination in 2011, including acting nods for its star and, much to everyone’s surprise, Jonah Hill. The film takes the mundane behind the scenes stuff of pre-season baseball and makes it a thrilling, interesting, drama that has you hooked early on and doesn’t let go. Its author hits his third adaptation to get a nomination for best film this year with The Big Short (the frankly amazing The Blind Side as also nominated in 2009 but lost, quite rightly, to The Hurt Locker) and honestly, this should have been his first win.


2015 – Whiplash

Now, I know I’m gonna get shit for is one, and that’s ok. There was absolutely nothing wrong with last year’s winner, the brilliant Birdman was deserving of its statue. And even when watching it again, it’s just as good; well acted, brilliantly directed and with a very cool improvised jazz score I would gladly have The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance in my collection.

But it didn’t do one thing that Whiplash did. Not only did the film completely blow me away, but the story of the young jazz drummer going up against his abusive band leader and trying to come out on top left me walking out of the cinema in a state that I can only describe as shell shocked. It’s a state I’ve been in several times after watching this amazing spectacle of a film. Every rewatch leaves me exhausted and at the same time begging for more. The only other film to do that recently is 2016 best pic nominee Mad Max: Fury Road. And only time will tell us if whatever beats it has the staying power that both of these films have.


That’s me done. For this year at least. What did you think? Do you agree with my choices? Think I’m a complete imbecile for hating Titanic and Forrest Gump? Do feel free to let me know. There’s nothing I like more than a good argument over great films!

Failed Critics Podcast: What The S**t? Coolest Name Ever

maxresdefault

Welcome to the Failed Critics Podcast, where hosts Steve Norman and Owen Hughes are joined by both Andrew Brooker and Paul Field to put their collective expert (ha!) minds together to predict who will win what at this year’s Academy Awards on Sunday 28th February. You too can take part! Simply leave a post in the comments box on our website to tell us which films you think will pick up the award in each of the categories listed below. The winner will pick up some DVD’s and blu-rays! OOooohhhh exciting.

Also in this episode, we feature a few new release reviews. Brooker, our residents American sports fan, finds Concussion is not all it’s cracked up to be. Meanwhile, Paul calls Steve’s heritage into question whilst reviewing British zom-rom-com Nina Forever. And then we all get together at the end to slightly gush over Deadpool‘s expletive-laden fourth wall-breaking comedy capers.

Join us again next week as Owen and Steve take part in our first ever Netflix special episode.

LISTEN VIA ACAST FOR THE MOST INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE

DIRECT DOWNLOAD LINK

 

1 – Best Picture
The Big Short – Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, and Jeremy Kleiner
Bridge of Spies – Steven Spielberg, Marc Platt, and Kristie Macosko Krieger
Brooklyn – Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey
Mad Max: Fury Road – Doug Mitchell and George Miller
The Martian – Simon Kinberg, Ridley Scott, Michael Schaefer, and Mark Huffam
The Revenant – Arnon Milchan, Steve Golin, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Mary Parent, and Keith Redmon
Room – Ed Guiney
Spotlight – Michael Sugar, Steve Golin, Nicole Rocklin, and Blye Pagon Faust
2 – Best Director
Adam McKay – The Big Short
George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road
Alejandro G. Iñárritu – The Revenant
Lenny Abrahamson – Room
Tom McCarthy – Spotlight
3 – Best Actor
Bryan Cranston – Trumbo as Dalton Trumbo
Matt Damon – The Martian as Mark Watney
Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant as Hugh Glass
Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs as Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne – The Danish Girl as Lili Elbe / Einar Wegener
4 – Best Actress
Cate Blanchett – Carol as Carol Aird
Brie Larson – Room as Joy “Ma” Newsome
Jennifer Lawrence – Joy as Joy Mangano
Charlotte Rampling – 45 Years as Kate Mercer
Saoirse Ronan – Brooklyn as Eilis Lacey
5 – Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale – The Big Short as Michael Burry
Tom Hardy – The Revenant as John Fitzgerald
Mark Ruffalo – Spotlight as Michael Rezendes
Mark Rylance – Bridge of Spies as Rudolf Abel
Sylvester Stallone – Creed as Rocky Balboa
6 – Best Supporting Actress
Jennifer Jason Leigh – The Hateful Eight as Daisy Domergue
Rooney Mara – Carol as Therese Belivet
Rachel McAdams – Spotlight as Sacha Pfeiffer
Alicia Vikander – The Danish Girl as Gerda Wegener
Kate Winslet – Steve Jobs as Joanna Hoffman
7 – Best Original Screenplay
Bridge of Spies – Matt Charman, Joel Coen, and Ethan Coen
Ex Machina – Alex Garland
Inside Out – Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley, and Ronnie del Carmen
Spotlight – Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer
Straight Outta Compton – Jonathan Herman, Andrea Berloff, S. Leigh Savidge, and Alan Wenkus
8 – Best Adapted Screenplay
The Big Short – Adam McKay and Charles Randolph from The Big Short by Michael Lewis
Brooklyn – Nick Hornby from Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín
Carol – Phyllis Nagy from The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith
The Martian – Drew Goddard from The Martian by Andy Weir
Room – Emma Donoghue from Room by Emma Donoghue
9 – Best Animated Feature Film
Anomalisa – Charlie Kaufman, Duke Johnson, and Rosa Tran
Boy & the World – Alê Abreu
Inside Out – Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera
Shaun the Sheep Movie – Mark Burton and Richard Starzak
When Marnie Was There – Hiromasa Yonebayashi and Yoshiaki Nishimura
10 – Best Foreign Language Film
Embrace of the Serpent (Colombia) in Spanish – Ciro Guerra
Mustang (France) in Turkish – Deniz Gamze Ergüven
Son of Saul (Hungary) in Hungarian – László Nemes
Theeb (Jordan) in Arabic – Naji Abu Nowar
A War (Denmark) in Danish – Tobias Lindholm
11 – Best Documentary – Feature
Amy – Asif Kapadia and James Gay-Rees
Cartel Land – Matthew Heineman and Tom Yellin
The Look of Silence – Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge Sørensen
What Happened, Miss Simone? – Liz Garbus, Amy Hobby, and Justin Wilkes
Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom – Evgeny Afineevsky and Den Tolmor

The Best Picture Winners That Never Were – Part One (1946 – 1990)

apocalypsenow

“…it’s judgement that defeats us.”

Everyone loves a list. I’m starting to quite enjoy writing them too. And seeing as it’s that time of year, it’s about time for an Oscars list. Given the atmosphere surrounding the awards nowadays – a lack of diversity, no Oscars for DiCaprio and yet another Interracial Double Penetrations sequel being left off the damn best films list – I thought up a list of “Also Ran” films. Those that should’ve won the Best Picture award the year they were nominated over what actually won.

As per usual, I used my very simple, very unscientific methods and rules to put this list together, which are as follows. Firstly, I only picked ten. From that list of films I’ve only picked ones that were nominated for the award but lost. If I didn’t, it’d be a list filled with films like Fight Club, Terminator 2: Judgement Day and American History X. Second, the list is based on nothing but my opinion. Hopefully you’ll agree with me in my choices, but its ok if you don’t.

So, without further ado, let’s crack on with those films robbed of the most coveted of prizes.


1946 – It’s a Wonderful Life

Losing out to The Best Years of Our Lives, this timeless Christmas movie is the first of a few films on this list with the same quality; years, nay decades after the film lost out on its Oscar, its quality and staying power far surpasses that of the film that beat it.

Frank Capra’s Christmas movie about a man who is shown just how bad life for everyone else would have been if he hadn’t existed has far outlasted William Wyler’s post-World War II drama. All these years later, while Best Years is still a great film, It’s a Wonderful Life is a time tested, sitcom approved, feel good journey worthy of its spot on BBC One every Christmas.


1971 – A Clockwork Orange

Ok, this one was tough. I wasn’t sure it should be here but after a lot of thinking, and watching both films again just because I can, I truly believe that Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece was robbed to give the statue to William Friedkin’s The French Connection.

I’m very aware that this is likely to get me lynched. Sadly this probably won’t be the last film on the list to do that. Even worse because you won’t find Friedkin’s The Exorcist anywhere on this list. But I simply didn’t think that ’71s Oscar winner – while well made and gritty – was the better of these two films. Kubrick’s social commentary is just as scathing, and maybe more relevant today than it ever has been.


1979 – Apocalypse Now

Beaten out by Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep’s divorce drama Kramer Vs. Kramer, which also took a crap load of other Oscars for its director and stars; Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam War epic is undoubtedly one of the greatest war films, if not one of the greatest films, ever made. Based on Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, the film, like its source material, plays with the idea that the line between being a civilised member of society and being a savage is much thinner and much more delicate than we are willing to believe.

Another in the list that is still relevant and poignant today, far more than the film that beat it to the podium that year, Apocalypse Now is a genuinely timeless film that while it still gets the recognition it deserves today. It definitely deserved the statue that year.


1989 – Born on the Fourth of July

Another tough decision. Beaten to the finish by Driving Miss Daisy, Oliver Stone’s biopic about paralysed Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic who, feeling betrayed by his country after he returns from the war, becomes an anti-war/pro-human rights activist. It was the perfect follow up to the director’s Oscar winning Platoon from a couple of years previously.

Obviously, both this and Miss Daisy had hard pressing issues that needed to be brought into the light, of course they did. And I’m not naive enough to say that the racially charged drama didn’t or doesn’t have a place on film history; but while the issues of race in America have been regularly brought into the spotlight by those in Hollywood, those hitting veterans – injured or not – seem to have been forgotten.


1990 – Goodfellas

No, I don’t think Dances With Wolves deserved an Oscar. I don’t even think it’s a good film all on its own. But when you compare it to one of the greatest crime dramas ever made that doesn’t have Godfather in the title, it’s just bloody awful. I mean come on, four hours of Kevin Costner prancing around like Mowgli from The Jungle Book making friends with Wolves when everyone else is busy fighting a war? Just… No.

Fellas on the other hand, is an hour and a half shorter for a start – I mean seriously, I can watch this and Another 48 Hours in the time Wolves is on for – but it doesn’t have a single frame that I’d take out of it. A perfect cast and a perfect script, perfectly directed and worthy of repeat viewings. I’m using the word again, but it’s timeless, it’s a classic. Dances With Wolves is boring, forgettable nonsense in comparison.


So what do you think? Am I right? Wrong? Racist? Either way, I’ve got more to come…

To Be Continued…

Failed Critics Podcast: Your Toughest Opponent

hans gruber

Inviting you to listen to this podcast may make you uncomfortable. Not because we’re walking around naked, but as one of our longest episodes for a good while (at nearly one hour and three-quarters long), you may get something of a numb-bum if you listen to the whole thing in a single sitting! Unfortunately there are no ways to montage your way out of it either.

Nevertheless, in this bumper episode, your hosts Steve Norman and Owen Hughes are joined by special guests Andrew Brooker and Tony Black to wag their fingers in the direction of the recent Oscar nominations, celebrate the life and work of Alan Rickman, and discuss a petition to actually lower the rated R status for the upcoming comicbook movie Deadpool.

As well as this, there’s room for Room, time for Creed, and for us to revel in The Revenant as we spend the latter part of the podcast discussing the three big new release reviews of this past weekend. We even take a look over what else we’ve watched in the past seven days. Brooker apologises to James Cullen Bressack for not getting on with White Crack Bastard; Steve, in tribute to Alan Rickman, revisits Kevin Smith’s 90’s classic Dogma; Owen reviews the recently released My Nazi Legacy documentary; and Tony is impressed with Ryan Reynolds after his surprising resurgence after seeing The Woman In Gold.

And that’s still not all as we start (as ever) with a quiz and Owen suffers through the first episode of Rob Schneider’s latest TV series, Real Rob, as penance for losing last week’s quiz.

You can see why it’s such a long episode!

Join us again next week as we bring back Liam and Andrew Alcock for a World Cinema triple bill.

LISTEN VIA ACAST FOR THE MOST INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE

DIRECT LINK

Of cows, war and tumours: Best Foreign Language Oscar 2016

df6ec999-0633-413e-9317-53de961e2b33-620x372

Booker Prize awarded, Mercury Prize on its way, the time of year is upon us when industries line-up the envelopes and hand-out the free champagne (….and often vice-versa).  The film industry loves dishing out the trophies more than most, and next year’s Chris Rock presented Academy Awards will trump all before it by most measurements, even if the current betting odds suggest a wider field than usual. There will soon happen the coalescence of opinion behind names, titles, figureheads, so prepare yourself for the post-award “missed opportunities” chat fans of “Inside Out”, we all know what you want, and it’s not happening.

What is happening, for the third year in a row, so I must be doing something right, is the swift eyeing-up of submitted entries for that ever maligned Academy Award staple: the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Fans of blue moons might like to know that, yes, the United Kingdom has an offering this year in the shape of Welsh-language Under Milk Wood, a thoroughly bonkers take of a famously unhinged text (remaining as a set-text across Welsh schools). In my hazy foggy memory, I recall taking one attempt at enjoying the tale of “Llarreggub” without much success, although that was before the days when Cerys Matthews would breathe softly into her 6Music microphone with a particularly saucy rendition, so maybe there’s room for me to be impressed yet. Whether the UK will get anywhere in Oscar-land with this version is doubtful, though I would hope that this submission means we’re still able to provide funding for minority language arts in this country. More, please.

Documentaries are eligible for this category with two takes on a similar, sadly depressing, theme taking my eye from this year’s longlist. Iraqi-Swiss filmmaker “Samir” (he avoids using his religious-based surname) helms Iraqi Odyssey, a deeply personal documentary casting a net from Baghdad to the numerous global cities where his family now calls home. Through the numerous, and seemingly never-ending conflicts in Iraq, the once proud population soon spread themselves across the globe; this ‘odyssey’ is covered by interviews and archive footage contrasting the past, the future, and the sense of a future denied.

By way of a tonal contrast of sorts, The Wanted 18 submitted by Palestine explores that region’s own conflicts in a much more esoteric fashion. Partly animated and re-enacted, this true story of how eighteen diary cows were hidden from Israeli security forces magnifies the surreal heart of the tragic reality of the Middle East conflict. The core element of the story may be one of constant battles, but its overall story has such humour that it appears impossible not to be charmed by Canadian Paul Cowan and Palestinian Amer Shomali’s work.

Conflict of a similar kind – drawing on historic borders, historic language, historic resentment – probably stopped Spain from ever submitting an entry in the Basque language. Indeed it took some time to find a YouTube trailer of Loreak not dubbed into Spanish, something of a reminder of the cultural friction between the country of Spain and the unsettled region of the Basque peoples. To this writer’s eyes, Flowers as it’s translated, hardly hides its analogy of discomfort and directionless behind the story of a woman receiving bouquets from an anonymous source, and the conflict which draws from her need to find her true destiny. It’s somewhat bleak and shadowy in its trailer, though there’s enough strong women to bring Pedro Almodóvar to mind, and that’s hardly a bad thing, now, is it?

There are some countries on which you can often rely for suggestions when running your fingers along the World Cinema section at HMV/on Netflix. This year, they have submitted something of a pic-n-mix. Japan does not impress this writer much with 100 Yen Love, which appears to be a darkly comic tale on a young woman slacking at home wasting her life when suddenly it becomes a version of every ‘turn your life around the easy way’ rags to riches tale you’ve ever ho-hummed over.

Goodbye Mr Tumor is not the kind of title I’d expect from a film outside High School biology class (and even then not outside an episode from Series 6 of The Simpsons). The full 2-hours of China’s submission is on-line if you fancy giving your Mandarin a good airing, I stuck with the trailer and cannot make head-nor-tail of any of it. Warning, the first two-minutes of that link is a trailer, the remaining two-minutes appears to be spoiler-tastic spoiler-ness of the most spoiler-ific kind. If you’re in need of that sort of heads up.

France used to be a safe-bet for shortlisting; they’ve gone for Turkish coming-of-age drama and it’s not doing anything for me. The Italians seem to have gone for a full-colour La Haine which has a certain charm, whilst from India comes a beguiling and deeply peculiar looking court-room drama with unusually slow and languid editing.

I cannot leave this article without mentioning Thailand, even if it does come across as a forced in-joke. It’s my article, I’m going to keep pushing this. Two years ago their entry slapped me around the face with a long-haired drug dealing Jesus inflicting torture on teenagers in a bath. Last year they went safe with a goofy romcom about a teacher. For this time around How To Win at Checkers (Every Time) firmly sets its stall as much as any mainstream Hollywood film possibly could for Academy attention: two brothers in sibling rivalry torn apart by an army draft, full of family tensions and road-trip soul searching. It’s bound to do well, isn’t it? Here’s my one hope for shortlisting above all others, with so many boxes ticked it surely can’t go unnoticed.

Failed Critics Podcast: Oscars 2015 Special

project almanacLadies and gentlemen, welcome to this glitzy star-studded episode of the Failed Critics Podcast, brought to you by Matt Lambourne’s well tickled bottom, in association with Paul Field’s Slander.

Steve Norman is donning his sharpest tuxedo to present the podcast, whilst Owen Hughes runs around backstage like a lunatic handing out golden envelopes as we reveal the results of the 87th Academy Awards – and more importantly, we discuss which categories that we correctly predicted last week.

There’s also the nail biting conclusion to the quiz, which is tied at 2-2. Just what the hell has Steve been teasing Owen with this past month?! Speaking of teasing, Matt finally gets bummed out over 50 Shades of Grey, whilst Paul prefers his erotic-drama to be more art-house with The Duke of Burgundy. Meanwhile, Owen explains why Project Almanac is a waste of time and Steve has his Cake Ann-iston’s it [literally the worst pun I’ve written in my entire life].

We’ll be back the same time next week with more reviews and movie chat.

LISTEN VIA ACAST FOR THE MOST INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE

DIRECT DOWNLOAD LINK

Failed Critics Podcast: Your Unconventional Desire

focusAs always, your illustrious host Steve Norman and ever present Owen Hughes lead the way through a tightly packed episode. Coming into your earholes to review the 18-rated, arse-ticklingly rude 50 Shades of Grey is Failed Critics debutant, Paul Field. Also joining them this week is Matt Lambourne, mainly so he can recount the story of why he didn’t see the (not so) erotic flick.

The team also craftily knocked out reviews for two other new releases before climaxing with 50 Shades of Grey, as Will Smith’s latest con-film Focus, as well as mind-bending time-travel thriller Predestination also get the once over.

They also somehow found room to squeeze in an extra couple of reviews. Paul filled us in on Korean revenge film I Saw The Devil (as reviewed in the Half Decade In Film article this week); Owen got slightly topical with space-hopping sci-fi Virtuality; and our pal Matt welcomed Die Hard and Enter The Dragon to the party.

Tune in again next week to hear less innuendos, in addition to the results of our Academy Award prediction quiz.

LISTEN VIA ACAST FOR THE MOST INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE

DIRECT DOWNLOAD LINK

For your chance to win a few crumby randomly selected second hand DVD’s that we no longer want, simply comment on this article with your picks for each of the 11 categories below! The winner will be the entrant with the most correct guesses. In the event of a tie, the winner will be chosen at random. The term ‘winner’ is used lightly.

1 – Best Picture
American Sniper – Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Andrew Lazar, Bradley Cooper and Peter Morgan
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – Alejandro González Iñárritu, John Lesher and James W. Skotchdopole
Boyhood – Richard Linklater and Cathleen Sutherland
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales and Jeremy Dawson
The Imitation Game – Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky and Teddy Schwarzman
Selma – Christian Colson, Oprah Winfrey, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner
The Theory of Everything – Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce and Anthony McCarten
Whiplash – Jason Blum, Helen Estabrook and David Lancaster

2 – Best Director
Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Alejandro González Iñárritu – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Richard Linklater – Boyhood
Bennett Miller – Foxcatcher
Morten Tyldum – The Imitation Game

3 – Best Actor
Steve Carell – Foxcatcher as John Eleuthère du Pont
Bradley Cooper – American Sniper as Chris Kyle
Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game as Alan Turing
Michael Keaton – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) as Riggan Thomson / Birdman
Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything as Stephen Hawking

4 – Best Actress
Marion Cotillard – Two Days, One Night as Sandra Bya
Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything as Jane Wilde Hawking
Julianne Moore – Still Alice as Dr. Alice Howland
Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl as Amy Elliott-Dunne
Reese Witherspoon – Wild as Cheryl Strayed

5 – Best Supporting Actor
Robert Duvall – The Judge as Judge Joseph Palmer
Ethan Hawke – Boyhood as Mason Evans, Sr.
Edward Norton – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) as Mike Shiner
Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher as Dave Schultz
J. K. Simmons – Whiplash as Terence Fletcher

6 – Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette – Boyhood as Olivia Evans
Laura Dern – Wild as Barbara “Bobbi” Grey
Keira Knightley – The Imitation Game as Joan Clarke
Emma Stone – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) as Sam Thomson
Meryl Streep – Into the Woods as The Witch

7 – Best Original Screenplay
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. and Armando Bo
Boyhood – Richard Linklater
Foxcatcher – E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness
Nightcrawler – Dan Gilroy

8 – Best Adapted Screenplay
American Sniper – Jason Hall from American Sniper by Chris Kyle, Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice
The Imitation Game – Graham Moore from Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges
Inherent Vice – Paul Thomas Anderson from Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon
The Theory of Everything – Anthony McCarten from Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen by Jane Wilde Hawking
Whiplash – Damien Chazelle from his short film of the same name

9 – Best Animated Feature Film
Big Hero 6 – Don Hall, Chris Williams and Roy Conli
The Boxtrolls – Anthony Stacchi, Graham Annable and Travis Knight
How to Train Your Dragon 2 – Dean DeBlois and Bonnie Arnold
Song of the Sea – Tomm Moore and Paul Young
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya – Isao Takahata and Yoshiaki Nishimura

10 – Best Foreign Language Film
Ida (Poland) in Polish – Paweł Pawlikowski
Leviathan (Russia) in Russian – Andrey Zvyagintsev
Tangerines (Estonia) in Estonian and Russian – Zaza Urushadze
Timbuktu (Mauritania) in French – Abderrahmane Sissako
Wild Tales (Argentina) in Spanish – Damián Szifrón

11 – Best Documentary – Feature
Citizenfour – Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy and Dirk Wilutsky
Finding Vivian Maier – John Maloof and Charlie Siskel
Last Days in Vietnam – Rory Kennedy and Keven McAlester
The Salt of the Earth – Wim Wenders, Lélia Wanick Salgado and David Rosier
Virunga – Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara

Failed Critics Podcast: Rushers / Draggers

american sniperWelcome to the Failed Critics podcast. Keeping to Steve & Owen’s tempo this week are two more guests!

Returning for his first appearance since the end of year awards episode is James Diamond, ready to demolish you with his reviews of Whiplash and all things Luc Besson. Joining James is horror-fanatic and best mates with ‘Scream Queen’ Jessica Cameron; it’s Mike Shawcross finally making his long overdue debut with American Sniper, Testament of Youth and 80’s b-movie creature feature Alligator in his sights.

Among a hefty discussion on the Academy Awards and Razzie nominations, Owen explains why not even Steven Soderbergh puts giant space baby in the corner* with his cut of 2001: A Space Odyssey, whilst Steve struggles to get his head around the popularity of Disney’s mammoth hit, Frozen. Let it go, Steve! Let it goooo…

Join us next week for reviews of Mortdecai, Ex Machina and Kingsman!

LISTEN VIA ACAST FOR THE MOST INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE

DIRECT DOWNLOAD LINK

*credit to @naanbab for the (quite frankly amazing) pun

Unfortunately, The Oscars Do Matter

There are those who insist that the Academy Awards don’t matter.  Those people could not be more unfortunately wrong.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

oscars 2What was your big complaint this year’s pool of Oscar nominations?  Gone Girl being near-shut-out along with SelmaAmerican Sniper inexplicably receiving six nominations?  The extreme white maleness of the awards themselves after a 12-month period where the issue of diversity, rightly, just wouldn’t go away?  The Lego Movie not even receiving a nomination for Best Animated Feature?  The fact that they’re happening at all?

Yes, as traditional as the Oscar nominations and complaining about the Oscar nominations, it’s that time of the year for certain people to come out of the woodwork and openly announce their disdain for the entire process.  Not that I completely disagree with the general principle, mind.  We human beings are our own individual persons who each have our own tastes and personal favourite films, so the process of getting together a giant committee of diverse people, getting them to pick their favourite films and such of the past year, and then using those to come up with, essentially, a compromised set of choices is rather redundant and unindicative of the personal experiences that cinema can impart on its viewers – the “why” is more important than the “what” and that’s a thing that gets lost in general group sampling.

However, the phrase in this complaining that irks me – in equal parts because of the high horse snobbery it is typically used like by those who invoke it, and because it reminds me of the worst parts of this current industry – is that “The Oscars don’t matter.”  Again, I get where they are coming from when they use this phrase, their reasoning is that entire prior paragraph plus the fact that the voting body for the Academy is overwhelmingly white, overwhelming male, and overwhelmingly old which typically leads to safe conservative nominations and races that reflect just how out of touch the people who get to decide it are from the public and modern culture – obligatory reminder that The f*cking Artist is a Best Picture winner.  So, in a way, The Oscars don’t matter.  Unfortunately, that’s really only true on a smaller, more micro level – for us, the moviegoers, the ones who care about the art.

The sad truth is that the movies are also an industry, have been for a very, very long time, and the process of moviemaking is driven just as much by the business side as it is the creative side.  When a studio makes and releases a film, they’re looking to make money from its business because, you know, that’s how Capitalism works – losing money on a venture looks real bad.  That’s why you don’t see 20th Century Fox turning around tomorrow and releasing an experimental avant-garde sci-fi drama about the nature of humanity that cost them $110 million to make; it’s financial suicide.  You stick with safer bets, try and please everybody, in the hopes that you’ll make your money back; hence why nearly every goddamn blockbuster nowadays is a sequel, remake, adaptation, or budding franchise because apparently nobody is going to the cinema otherwise.

The Oscars have a reputation for snubbing mainstream successful films in favour of more specialist “Prestige Picture” fare, but that doesn’t mean the studios are making and releasing these films purely for specialist audiences.  “The Oscar Bump” – where the films that are nominated for Best Picture receive a box office or home media boost as people go out of their way to see them – is a thing that exists and near-guarantees future income for the studio.  A film like Birdman was never going to do particularly well on its first run, but its studio, Fox Searchlight, were likely banking on the Academy coming a-calling and giving less specialist people a sense of obligation to see it.  (Note: if Birdman doesn’t do so well this weekend, then mentally replace its name with whatever film does do well.  Point stands.)

Because, again, Hollywood is a business and awards season is one of the biggest business sessions for the film industry.  The prestige, the allure, the weight, the worth that even a nomination carries is too much to pass up.  Admit it, how many times have you gone to see a film you wouldn’t normally have gone for if it weren’t up for some kind of award?  Plus, the buzz.  Awards season itself is confined to the last three months of the year – due to the, seemingly often right, stigma that Academy voters have short memories – but the buzz is damn-near year-long.  We press, especially we Internet press, are more than guilty of talking way too much way too early about this stuff and, eventually, we end up doing the influencing.  Boyhood – although I called it from frame one – would never normally be a Best Picture frontrunner, but now it’s all but guaranteed the prize because we haven’t stopped yammering on about how it will win for the last seven months.

Now, normally, all of this wouldn’t be so much of a major problem because film as a whole would be nice and diverse.  Sure, you’d have your big blockbusters and your awards bait, but you’d also have low-to-mid budget curiosities and experiments.  Some would be trifles, some would be crowdpleasers, others would give David Cronenberg $15 million to go and make eXistenZ, but we’d get something different.  We’d get unlikely stars, women like Penelope Spheeris would actually be given studio backing to make their films, and studios would personally fund films like Boyz n The Hood.  Now was this period perfect, or anywhere near as diverse and layered as it sounds like I’m making it out to be?  F*ck no, I’m not deluded, these are just examples and not indicative of an industry I wasn’t around to experience as a whole.  But there was something, some risk, some difference.

Unfortunately, people have stopped going to the movies.  There are statistics to prove it.  So that mid-range fare is mostly gone.  Now it’s All, Awards, or Nothing – blockbusters, awards bait, next-to-nothing.  The studios have reacted to our gradual disappearance from cinemas by getting more insular, sticking more to formula, and trying to give the people what they think they want.  The blockbuster crowd seemingly want heroic white men, preferably in spandex, saving the world from unknown horrors, preferably as part of some kind of franchise so that there’s brand awareness, so that’s what we’re getting, and it’s why they just won’t stop pushing Jai Courtney on us instead of making somebody like Chiwetel Ejiofer a proper goddamn movie star by now.  Meanwhile, the Academy is comprised of old white conservative men, so the awards bait will be about troubled yet gifted white men overcoming some sort of adversity, because that’s what gets their attention.

That’s why people are so angry about the diversity problem in this year’s nominations pool.  Because the fact of the matter is this: The Oscars have power.  They have a large influence over what films get greenlit, who stars in them, who directs them, writes them, scores them, photographs, produces, supports.   Before, they could be balanced out because the industry was doing well enough that they could take risks.  Now, though, The Academy power is scarily and, from a business side of things, justifiably large.  If they say that the best films of last year were predominately about and made by white men, that’s what the studios are going to make, because that’s what many of us are going to feel obligated to see.

Now more than ever, the film industry has become a closed, self-perpetuating circle, terrified of trying to deviate from what it deems to be The Formula for fear that we, the audience, won’t turn up.  So it sticks closer to that formula, limits our options, makes the default stories about white men because it believes that’s what we want to see, writes off films with black leads or female leads as anomalies and uses any failure as an excuse to put the kibosh on future projects with those things.  It hires white and male because it thinks that we, the movie-going audience, are scared of non-white and non-male.

And it knows that the Academy don’t go for non-white and non-male so it rarely makes any awards bait films with those in mind.  Well, unless the film is about something exclusively linked to race or gender, has a surrogate for them to latch onto, or is made by a white man – incidentally, I haven’t seen Selma yet, but when Morten Tyldum is nominated for Best Director for The f*cking Imitation Game over Ava DuVernay you’re gonna have to forgive me for assuming that racism of some kind is at play here.  So what we end up getting is this constant cycle of negative re-enforcement because Hollywood has now doubled down on All, Awards, or Nothing and, although it can do something about the blockbuster part if it damn well wanted to, it can’t do anything about the Academy who will remain old, white, male, and conservative, and that means that we can’t do anything about it, because this damn industry won’t let us.

This all seems very nihilistic for what is on the surface an extended period of time where the industry pats itself on the back for a job well done, but that’s sadly how it is.  The Academy is diversifying to an extent, but it’s not happening fast enough and it’s going to continue to look out-of-touch until the day it finally does so.  Until then, the current guard wields a disappointing amount of power in the modern American film landscape, and nothing short of every human being on Earth waking up one day and simultaneously deciding to stop giving a shit about The Oscars – which is a pipe dream and we all know it – is going to change this fact:

Unfortunately, The Oscars do matter.

Callum Petch is gonna come in first place.  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch) and listen to Screen 1 on Hullfire Radio every Monday at 9PM BST (site link)!