Monday, October 26, 2009

BIFA Nominees: Abbie Cornish, Michael Fassbender and More

Oh, agony! The British Independent Film Award nominations have arrived (in October? Damn that’s early) to serve up the dread reminder that there is no such thing as ‘day and date” releases outside of rare mega blockbusters. I suppose I should thank the celluloid cosmos. In a way the erratic nature of film distribution helps me to continue living my blissfully delusional life wherein I pretend that people would actually flock to more challenging higher quality international cinema if they only had access to it and could see it and talk about it at the same time. Isn’t this one reason that television is so popular? It’s communal. Movies are supposed to be communal but it doesn’t work out that way so much.

Michael Fassbender in Fish Tank

I have no idea when I’ll ever have a chance to see Fish Tank for example, which did very well with BIFA though I’d love to. Until it gets an itty bitty American release at two theaters and makes $270,000 instead of $27 million sometime in 2011 I can pretend that the whole world is looking forward to this gritty exceptionally well-reviewed drama. I can pretend that they’re in fact awaiting each new Michael Fassbender performance with an anticipation that borders on the sweaty and the feverish.


Best British Independent Film: An Education (Lone Scherfig), Fish Tank (Andrea Arnold), In The Loop (Armando Iannucci), Moon (Duncan Jones) and Nowhere Boy (Sam Taylor-Wood)

Three of these films have received release in the states though In the Loop and Moon (video review) will have to wait for their DVD releases to catch on with the right audiences. An Education on the other hand is doing very well for itself as it slowly widens. The twinkly coming-of-age drama hasn’t lost any of its abundant Oscar buzz.

Best Director is the same lineup as this, minus Nowhere Boy’s Sam Taylor-Wood who is nominated for “Debut Director” instead. If you haven’t seen her short film Love You More about two teenagers, a new vinyl record, and their randy escalating sex romp and you get a chance, do! It was my vote for best short at the Nashville Film Festival this spring (Nick also loved it). Jane Campion nabbed the lone director spot from Wood with her exquisitely observed Bright Star. At times while watching Bright Star I worried that it was too insubstantial, not “too light” as in inconsequential but too delicate. But that very delicacy helps it to linger. I'm corrected. I keep feeling the film fluttering in the air beside me, like those butterflies Fanny collects. I already want to see it again.

And, underlining a 2009 theme you'll keep hearing about, 60% of their best picture nominees are directed by women. Oscar will find it very difficult to ignore female directors this year with Bright Star, An Education and The Hurt Locker in the awards mix.

Best Screenplay is the exact same lineup of film as Best Feature.

Best Actress Emily Blunt in The Young Victoria, Abbie Cornish in Bright Star, Katie Jarvis in Fish Tank, Carey Mulligan in An Education and Sophie Okonedo in Skin

Not content to let Keira Knightley and Michelle Pfeiffer have all the fun,
Emily Blunt
beds Rupert Friend in The Young Victoria. He's got a lot
of action this year, huh?

The first of many for Mulligan? The first of several for Cornish? The first and last for Blunt? I’m just guessing except for that first bit. That's a given.

Best Actor: Aaron Johnson in Nowhere Boy, Andy Serkis in Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, Peter Capaldi in In The Loop, Sam Rockwell in Moon and Tom Hardy in Bronson

Despite their love for Bright Star, none for Ben Whishaw? Tis a pity but it’s the kind of role that men aren’t rewarded for… no matter how good they are. Romantic films tend to secure nominations for only the female half of the equation. It's a blindspot with most awards groups. On a far more traditionally awardable scale is Tom Hardy's physical transformation for Bronson. It’ll be interesting to see if the once slim actor can pick up any more steam for suddenly looking like the hulk. Will any American awards bodies watch the picture? I suppose I should get on that myself.

Best Supporting Actress: Anne-Marie Duff and Kristin Scott Thomas in Nowhere Boy, Kerry Fox in Bright Star, Rosamund Pike in An Education and Kierston Wareing in Fish Tank
Best Supporting Actor: Alfred Molina in An Education, Jim Broadbent in The Damned United John Henshaw in Looking For Eric, Michael Fassbender in Fish Tank and Tom Hollander in In The Loop

Both lists look solid but did BIFA voters only see about 8 films this year? Two surprises here for me were Rosamund Pike in An Education and Kerry Fox in Bright Star both of whom I thought were subtly elevating or at least amply filling out what could have been thankless roles (thankless in terms of awards magnetizing I mean) so I'm quite happy to be wrong. I thought Pike was spiking almost every scene in An Education with unexpected sidebar notes (by the end of the movie I wanted a sequel starring her and Dominic Cooper!) and I loved watching Fox’s near-silent gradations of growing respect / understanding of her daughter’s love affair in Bright Star.

Best Technical Achievement: Bright Star's cinematography by Greig Fraser, Bunny & The Bull's production design by Gary Williamson, Fish Tank's cinematography by Robbie Ryan, Moon's original score by Clint Mansell and production design by Tony Noble

It’s interesting to see technical achievements grouped together, thus revealing which elements voters think are making or breaking particular films, but it’s also dismissively coarse, since actors get 5 categories. It's not like acting or technical elements alone ever perform in a vacuum.

Best Foreign Film: Il Divo (Italy), The Hurt Locker (USA) Let The Right One In (Sweden), Sin Nombre and The Wrestler (USA)

I’ve included this category to come full circle to the point that no matter where you live, it’s a different year of cinema. I so wish we could all experience the cinema in unison. I haven’t yet seen Sin Nombre (I know I must) and I’m continually hearing good things about Il Divo so this looks like quite a strong category. You already know how good the other three films are.

Complete List of Nominees

Thoughts? Or don't you care about the "BIFA" (It's fun to say it out loud. Try it)


Daniel said...

And so begins the inevitable, unfair snubbing of Sarsgaard I'll have to endure for the rest of the awards season. I just don't get it... I mean, presumably these people actually saw the movie.

Glad to see that Pike at least was nominated, though. Really fine supporting work by her, making so much more of her character than she needed to. The whole cast was stellar, so I'll be happy if any of them gets awards traction.

The Pretentious Know it All said...

I don't like when it seems like all the acting awards at any awards shows seem to come from the best picture nominees. It's ignoring the fact that people can do good, awards-worthy work in films that are not traditionally awards type of films.

Dave said...

I feel the need to correct: Sam Taylor Wood is a woman! I've nabbed a ticket to see her Screen Talk tomorrow evening, so although I've no idea about her at all (Nowhere Boy is the closing film so it doesn't screen until Thursday), I'll report back since I know you're interested. (Although not enough to know her sex. ;) )

Rosamund Pike is such a fine choice. She often gives stellar but unappreciated performances, although An Education is at least solid enough to not make her the only worthwhile part of it.


thanks DAVE. I fixed it. Have you seen LOVE YOU MORE? So good.

KNOWNOTHING... i know. that's why i mentioned 'did they only see 8 films. it's a very limited grouping they got going. i wish we could see all the movies to determine the worthiness of their choices

Guy Lodge said...

Before you say television is communal, bear in mind that us Brits have to wait an eternity for the new season of "Mad Men" to air, while the likes of "Glee" have yet to even surface here. It rubs both ways.

This is an excellent slate of nominees (Blunt excepted). I get your point about the limited number of movies nominated, but given the current state of the UK industry, there really aren't that many outstanding indie productions to choose from. No major omissions strike me -- some may be surprised that "Looking for Eric" or "The Damned United" didn't do better, but they got roughly as much as they deserve.


well, that's true. none of this makes any sense to me. this delayed drawn out business that happens with music, movies, tv. it only seems to invite more piracy.

who doesn't want to crash a thrilling party they're not invited to?

amir_uk said...

Wow. These are pretty much spot on, I feel. Especially that techincal category - they've managed to isolate four (yet to see Bunny and the Bull - tonight, alas) things that really, really had me at the movies this year.