Wednesday, December 6, 2017

'Shape of Water' leads Critics' Choice nominations with a whopping 14

LOS ANGELES – The Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA) announced today the nominees for the 23rd Annual Critics’ Choice Awards. The winners will be revealed live at the star-studded Critics’ Choice Awards gala on Thursday, Jan. 11, when the awards show returns to The CW Network from 8-10 p.m.

“The Shape of Water” leads all films this year with 14 nominations, including Best Picture. “Call Me By Your Name,” “Dunkirk,” “Lady Bird,” and “The Post” impressed with eight nominations each, and are all in the running for Best Picture and Best Director, among others. “Blade Runner 2049” earned seven nominations, followed by “The Big Sick” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” each with six, and “Get Out” and “I, Tonya” with five apiece.

Sally Hawkins and Octavia Spencer star in "The Shape of Water."
"This has proven to be an incredibly exciting year in movies – and one of the most wide-open in terms of awards possibilities,” said BFCA President Joey Berlin.  “The mix of legendary filmmakers and performers, along with vibrant new voices representing fresh and varied styles and perspectives has entertained and challenged critics and audiences alike.  It’s been a joy to experience these films, and we can’t wait to celebrate them all on Jan. 11.”

On the TV side, Netflix leads the honors with 20 nominations, followed by HBO with 15, FX with 13, and ABC with 12.  Topping the list of nominated series is Feud: Bette and Joan (FX) with six.  Big Little Lies (HBO) and Fargo (FX) follow closely behind with five each, as does Glow (Netflix) with four nominations

“The Critics’ Choice Awards” are bestowed annually by the BFCA and BTJA to honor the finest in cinematic and television achievement. The BFCA is the largest film critics' organization in the United States and Canada, representing more than 300 television, radio and online critics. BFCA members are the primary source of information for today's film-going public.

BTJA is the collective voice of journalists who regularly cover television for TV viewers, radio listeners and online audiences. Historically, the “Critics’ Choice Awards” are the most accurate predictor of the Academy Award nominations. 

FILM NOMINATIONS FOR THE 23rd ANNUAL CRITICS’ CHOICE AWARDS:

BEST PICTURE
The Big Sick
Call Me by Your Name
Darkest Hour
Dunkirk
The Florida Project
Get Out
Lady Bird
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri 

BEST ACTOR
Timothée Chalamet – Call Me by Your Name
James Franco – The Disaster Artist
Jake Gyllenhaal – Stronger
Tom Hanks – The Post
Daniel Kaluuya – Get Out
Daniel Day-Lewis – Phantom Thread
Gary Oldman – Darkest Hour 

BEST ACTRESS
Jessica Chastain – Molly’s Game
Sally Hawkins – The Shape of Water
Frances McDormand – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Margot Robbie – I, Tonya
Saoirse Ronan – Lady Bird
Meryl Streep – The Post

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Willem Dafoe – The Florida Project
Armie Hammer – Call Me By Your Name
Richard Jenkins – The Shape of Water
Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Patrick Stewart – Logan
Michael Stuhlbarg – Call Me by Your Name 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Mary J. Blige – Mudbound
Hong Chau – Downsizing
Tiffany Haddish – Girls Trip
Holly Hunter – The Big Sick
Allison Janney - I, Tonya
Laurie Metcalf – Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer – The Shape of Water

BEST YOUNG ACTOR/ACTRESS
Mckenna Grace – Gifted
Dafne Keen – Logan
Brooklynn Prince – The Florida Project
Millicent Simmonds – Wonderstruck
Jacob Tremblay – Wonder 

BEST ACTING ENSEMBLE
Dunkirk
Lady Bird
Mudbound
The Post
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri 

BEST DIRECTOR
Guillermo del Toro – The Shape of Water
Greta Gerwig – Lady Bird
Martin McDonagh – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Christopher Nolan – Dunkirk
Luca Guadagnino – Call Me By Your Name
Jordan Peele – Get Out
Steven Spielberg – The Post

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor – The Shape of Water
Greta Gerwig – Lady Bird
Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani – The Big Sick
Liz Hannah and Josh Singer – The Post
Martin McDonagh – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Jordan Peele – Get Out 

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
James Ivory – Call Me by Your Name
Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber – The Disaster Artist
Dee Rees and Virgil Williams – Mudbound
Aaron Sorkin – Molly’s Game
Jack Thorne, Steve Conrad, Stephen Chbosky – Wonder

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Roger Deakins – Blade Runner 2049
Hoyte van Hoytema – Dunkirk
Dan Laustsen – The Shape of Water
Rachel Morrison – Mudbound
Sayombhu Mukdeeprom – Call Me By Your Name

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Paul Denham Austerberry, Shane Vieau, Jeff Melvin – The Shape of Water
Jim Clay, Rebecca Alleway – Murder on the Orient Express
Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis – Dunkirk
Dennis Gassner, Alessandra Querzola – Blade Runner 2049
Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer – Beauty and the Beast
Mark Tildesley, Véronique Melery – Phantom Thread

BEST EDITING
Michael Kahn, Sarah Broshar – The Post
Paul Machliss, Jonathan Amos – Baby Driver
Lee Smith – Dunkirk
Joe Walker – Blade Runner 2049
Sidney Wolinsky – The Shape of Water

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Renée April – Blade Runner 2049
Mark Bridges – Phantom Thread
Jacqueline Durran – Beauty and the Beast
Lindy Hemming – Wonder Woman
Luis Sequeira – The Shape of Water

BEST HAIR AND MAKEUP
Beauty and the Beast
Darkest Hour
I, Tonya
The Shape of Water
Wonder

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Blade Runner 2049
Dunkirk
The Shape of Water
Thor: Ragnarok
War for the Planet of the Apes
Wonder Woman

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
The Breadwinner
Coco
Despicable Me 3
The LEGO Batman Movie
Loving Vincent

BEST ACTION MOVIE
Baby Driver
Logan
Thor: Ragnarok
War for the Planet of the Apes
Wonder Woman

BEST COMEDY
The Big Sick
The Disaster Artist
Girls Trip
I, Tonya
Lady Bird

BEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY
Steve Carell – Battle of the Sexes
James Franco – The Disaster Artist
Chris Hemsworth – Thor: Ragnarok
Kumail Nanjiani – The Big Sick
Adam Sandler – The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

BEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY
Tiffany Haddish – Girls Trip
Zoe Kazan – The Big Sick
Margot Robbie – I, Tonya
Saoirse Ronan – Lady Bird
Emma Stone – Battle of the Sexes

BEST SCI-FI OR HORROR MOVIE
Blade Runner 2049
Get Out
It
The Shape of Water

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
BPM (Beats Per Minute)
A Fantastic Woman
First They Killed My Father
In the Fade
The Square
Thelma

BEST SONG
Evermore – Beauty and the Beast
Mystery of Love – Call Me By Your Name
Remember Me – Coco
Stand Up for Something – Marshall
This Is Me – The Greatest Showman

BEST SCORE
Alexandre Desplat – The Shape of Water
Jonny Greenwood – Phantom Thread
Dario Marianelli – Darkest Hour
Benjamin Wallfisch and Hans Zimmer – Blade Runner 2049
John Williams – The Post
Hans Zimmer - Dunkirk

A complete list of television nominations can be found on the Critics' Choice Awards web site.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

'Jane' named 'Best' at second Critics' Choice Doc Awards

BROOKLYN, NY – The Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA) announced the winners of the second annual Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards this evening at a gala event, hosted by Penn Jillette at BRIC here.

"Jane," the National Geographic-produced portrait of legendary, world-class primatologist Jane Goodall, took home the evening’s most prestigious award for Best Documentary. Best Director honors were split between Evgeny Afineevsky ("Cries from Syria") and Frederick Wiseman ("Ex Libris: The New York Public Library)." a 197-minute epic.

The early years in the life of Jane Goodall are explored in "Jane."
“We are so happy to be able to celebrate the supremely talented, leading voices in this golden age of documentary filmmaking and nonfiction television,” said BFCA President Joey Berlin. “It was another great night in Brooklyn in support of many of the most underappreciated artists in our business.”

Other top awards went to "Kedi," the wild cats in Turkey piece, and director Bulen Usten for Best First Documentary; "Abacus: Small Enough to Jail," Best Political Documentary; "Icarus," Best Sports Documentary; and "Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives," Best Music Documentary.

Another voting tie resulted in the Most Innovative Documentary category, which was shared by "Dawson City: Frozen Time" and "Last Men in Aleppo."

During this year’s celebration, filmmaker Joe Berlinger also was honored with the Critics’ Choice Impact Award, while Errol Morris was awarded the Critics’ Choice Lifetime Achievement Award.

Presenters and attendees at the gala event included Clive Davis, Damien Echols, Gilbert Gottfried, Colin Hanks, Dolores Huerta, Barbara Kopple, Lawrence O’Donnell, Linda Perry, Kathryn Schulz, Fisher Stevens, Hannah Storm, and Diane Warren.

Other winners included:

Best Song in a Documentary -- “Jump” from "Step," written by Raphael Saadiq, Taura Stinson and Laura Karpman, performed by Cynthia Erivo; Best Documentary Series --  "The Vietnam War," PBS, and Best Ongoing Documentary Series -- "American Masters," PBS.

Finally, Jillette led the revelry for this year’s honorees for Most Compelling Living Subject of a Documentary -- The Cats of Istanbul (from "Kedi"), Etty Ausch ("One of Us"), Al Gore ("An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power"), Laird Hamilton ("Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton"), Dolores Huerta ("Dolores"), Gigi Lazzarato ("This is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous"), and The Sung Family ("Abacus: Small Enough to Jail").

Monday, October 9, 2017

Second annual documentary winners will be unveiled Nov. 2

LOS ANGELES – The Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA) today announced the nominees for the second annual Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards. The winners will be presented their awards at a gala event on Thursday, Nov. 2, at BRIC in BrooklynN.Y.

Kedi leads the nominations this year with four (and one honor), including Best Documentary, Best First Documentary, Most Innovative Documentary, Ceyda Torun for Best Director. and the honor, Most Compelling Living Subject of a Documentary honor for The Cats of Istanbul.

Films recognized with three nominations are California TypewriterChasing Coral, City of GhostsCries From Syria and Dawson City: Frozen Time.

At the Nov. 2 gala, Academy Award and seven-time Emmy-nominated filmmaker Joe Berlinger will also be honored with the Critics’ Choice Impact Award. His films include Brother’s Keeper, the Paradise Lost Trilogy, Metallica: Some Kind of MonsterCrude and Under African Skies, among many more.

“The inaugural event last year was such a fantastic night, we cannot wait to celebrate the leading lights in the doc world at our second annual event,” said Broadcast Film Critics Association President Joey Berlin. “This is a golden age for documentary filmmaking and nonfiction television and we’re proud to help audiences find the best of the best.”

The nominees for the second annual Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards are:

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Abacus: Small Enough to Jail – Director: Steve James (PBS / Blue Ice Films, Mitten Media, Motto Pictures, Kartemquin Films Production)
Beware the Slenderman – Director: Irene Taylor Brodsky (HBO, Warner Bros. Television Distribution / HBO Documentary Films, Vermilion Films)
Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds – Directors: Alexis Bloom, Fisher Stevens (HBO / Bloomfish Pictures, HBO Documentary Films, Insurgent Docs, RatPac Documentary Films)
California Typewriter – Director: Doug Nichol (Gravitas Ventures / American Buffalo Pictures)
Chasing Coral – Director: Jeff Orlowski (Netflix / Exposure Labs)
City of Ghosts – Director: Matthew Heineman (Amazon Studios, A&E IndieFilms, IFC Films / Our Time Projects)
Cries From Syria – Director: Evgeny Afineevsky (HBO / Afineevsky - Tolmor Production, Cinepost Barrandov, Levy Entertainment Group, Studio Malibu)
Dawson City: Frozen Time – Director: Bill Morrison (Kino Lorber / Hypnotic Pictures, Picture Palace Pictures)
Eagles of Death Metal: Nos Amis – Director: Colin Hanks (HBO / Live Nation Productions, Company Name)
Ex Libris: The New York Public Library – Director: Frederick Wiseman (Zipporah Films)
Faces Places – Directors: Agnès Varda & JR (Cohen Media Group / Ciné Tamaris, Social Animals, Rouge International, Arte France Cinéma, Arches Films)
Jane – Director: Brett Morgen (National Geographic Documentary Films / National Geographic Studios, Public Road Productions)
Kedi – Director: Ceyda Torun (Oscilloscope Laboratories, YouTube Red / Termite Films)
One of Us – Directors: Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady (Netflix / Loki Films)
Spettacolo – Directors: Jeff Malmberg, Chris Shellen (Grasshopper Film / Open Face)
Strong Island – Director: Yance Ford (Netflix / Yanceville Films, Louverture Films)

BEST DIRECTOR
Evgeny Afineevsky – Cries from Syria (HBO / Afineevsky - Tolmor Production, Cinepost Barrandov, Levy Entertainment Group, Studio Malibu)
Amir Bar-Lev – Long Strange Trip (Amazon / Amazon Studios, Double E Pictures, Sikelia Productions, AOMA Sunshine Films)
Matthew Heineman – City of Ghosts (Amazon Studios, A&E IndieFilms, IFC Films / Our Time Projects)
Bill Morrison – Dawson City: Frozen Time (Kino Lorber / Hypnotic Pictures, Picture Palace Pictures)
Doug Nichol – California Typewriter (Gravitas Ventures / American Buffalo Pictures)
Jeff Orlowski – Chasing Coral (Netflix / Exposure Labs)
Irene Taylor Brodsky – Beware the Slenderman (HBO, Warner Bros. Television Distribution / HBO Documentary Films, Vermilion Films)
Ceyda Torun – Kedi (Oscilloscope Laboratories, YouTube Red / Termite Films)
Agnès Varda & JR – Faces Places (Cohen Media Group / Ciné Tamaris, Social Animals, Rouge International, Arte France Cinéma, Arches Films)
Frederick Wiseman – Ex Libris: The New York Public Library (Zipporah Films)

BEST FIRST DOCUMENTARY
California Typewriter – Director: Doug Nichol (Gravitas Ventures / American Buffalo Pictures)
Kedi – Director: Ceyda Torun (Oscilloscope Laboratories, YouTube Red / Termite Films)
Nowhere to Hide – Director: Zaradasht Ahmed (East Village Entertainment / Ten Thousand Images)
Step – Director: Amanda Lipitz (Fox Searchlight / Impact Partners, Stick Figure Productions)
Strong Island – Director: Yance Ford (Netflix / Yanceville Films, Louverture Films)
Whose Streets? – Director: Sabaah Folayan, Co-Director: Damon Davis (Magnolia Pictures)

BEST POLITICAL DOCUMENTARY
11/8/16 – Directors: Duane Andersen, Don Argott & Sheena M. Joyce, Yung Chang, Garth Donovan, Petra Epperlein & Michael Tucker, Vikram Gandhi, Raul Gasteazoro, Jamie Goncalves, Andrew Beck Grace, Alma Har'el, Daniel Junge, Alison Klayman, Ciara Lacy, Martha Shane, Elaine McMillion Sheldon, Bassam Tariq (The Orchard / Cinetic Media)
Abacus: Small Enough to Jail – Director: Steve James (PBS / Blue Ice Films, Mitten Media, Motto Pictures, Kartemquin Films Production)
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power – Directors: Bonni Cohen, Jon Shenk (Paramount / Actual Films, Participant Media)
City of Ghosts – Director: Matthew Heineman (Amazon Studios, A&E IndieFilms, IFC Films / Our Time Projects)
Dolores – Director: Peter Bratt (PBS Distribution / 5 Stick Films)
The Reagan Show – Directors: Sierra Pettengill, Pacho Velez (Gravitas Ventures, CNN Films)

BEST SPORTS DOCUMENTARY
AlphaGo – Director: Greg Kohs (Submarine Entertainment / Moxie Pictures, Reel As Dirt)
Disgraced – Director: Pat Kondelis (Showtime Networks / Bat Bridge Entertainment)
Icarus – Director: Bryan Fogel (Netflix / Alex Productions, Diamond Docs, Impact Partners)
Speed Sisters – Director: Amber Fares (First Run Features)
Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton – Director: Rory Kennedy (Sundance Selects / Moxie Firecracker Films)
Trophy – Directors: Christina Clusiau, Shaul Schwarz (CNN Films, The Orchard / Candescent Films, Pulse Films, Reel Peak Films)

BEST MUSIC DOCUMENTARY
Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of our Lives – Director: Chris Perkel (Apple Music / IM Global, Scott Free Productions)
Contemporary Color – Directors: Bill Ross IV, Turner Ross (Oscilloscope / The Department of Motion Pictures, Public Domain, Todo Mundo)
Eagles of Death Metal: Nos Amis – Director: Colin Hanks (HBO / Live Nation Productions, Company Name)
I Called Him Morgan – Director: Kasper Collin (FilmRise, Submarine Entertainment / Kasper Collin Produktion, Sveriges Television, Film i Väst)
Long Strange Trip – Director: Amir Bar-Lev (Amazon / Amazon Studios, Double E Pictures, Sikelia Productions, AOMA Sunshine Films)
Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World – Director: Catherine Bainbridge, Co-Director: Alfonso Maiorana (Kino Lorber / ARTE G.E.I.E, Rezolution Pictures)

MOST COMPELLING LIVING SUBJECT OF A DOCUMENTARY
The Cats of Istanbul – Kedi (Oscilloscope Laboratories, YouTube Red / Termite Films)
Etty – One of Us (Netflix / Loki Films)
Al Gore – An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (Paramount / Actual Films, Participant Media)
Laird Hamilton – Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton (Sundance Selects / Moxie Firecracker Films)
Dolores Huerta – Dolores (PBS / 5 Stick Films)
Gigi Lazzarato – This is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous (YouTube Red / SelectNext, Cabin Creek Films)
The Sung Family – Abacus: Small Enough to Jail (PBS / Blue Ice Films, Mitten Media, Motto Pictures, Kartemquin Films Production)

 MOST INNOVATIVE DOCUMENTARY
78/52 – Director: Alexandre O. Philippe (IFC Midnight / ARTE, Exhibit A Pictures, Milkhaus, Screen Division, Sensorshot Productions)
Casting JonBenet – Director: Kitty Green (Netflix / Forensic Films, Symbolic Exchange, Meridian Entertainment)
Dawson City: Frozen Time – Director: Bill Morrison (Kino Lorber / Hypnotic Pictures, Picture Palace Pictures)
Karl Marx City – Directors: Petra Epperlein, Michael Tucker (Bond/360 / Pepper & Bones)
Kedi – Director: Ceyda Torun (Oscilloscope Laboratories, YouTube Red / Termite Films)
Last Men in Aleppo – Director: Firas Fayyad, Co-Director: Steen Johannessen (Grasshopper Film / Aleppo Media Center, Larm Film)

BEST SONG IN A DOCUMENTARY
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power – “Truth to Power” – OneRepublic (Paramount / Actual Films, Participant Media)
Chasing Coral – “Tell Me How Long” – Kristen Bell (Netflix / Exposure Labs)
Cries From Syria – “Prayers for This World” – Cher (HBO / Afineevsky - Tolmor Production, Cinepost Barrandov, Levy Entertainment Group, Studio Malibu)
Dina – “Best I Can” – Michael Cera featuring Sharon Van Etten (The Orchard / Cinereach, El Peligro, Killer Films)
Served Like a Girl – “Dancing Through the Wreckage” – Pat Benatar (Entertainment Studios, Freestyle Digital Media)
Step – “Jump” – Cynthia Erivo (Fox Searchlight / Impact Partners, Stick Figure Productions)

BEST LIMITED DOCUMENTARY SERIES (TV/STREAMING)
The Defiant Ones (HBO)
Five Came Back (Netflix / Amblin Television, IACF Productions, Netflix, Passion Pictures, Rock Paper Scissors Entertainment)
The Keepers (Netflix / Film 45, Tripod Media)
The Nineties (CNN / CNN, Playtone, Herzog & Company)
Planet Earth II (BBC America, AMC, SundanceTV / BBC Natural History Unit, BBC America, ZDF, Tencent, France Télévisions)
The Vietnam War (PBS / Florentine Films, WETA-TV Washington)

BEST ONGOING DOCUMENTARY SERIES (TV/STREAMING)
30 for 30 (ESPN / ESPN Films)
American Masters (PBS / WNET New York City)
Frontline (PBS / WGBH-TV Boston)
Independent Lens (PBS / Independent Television Service, Inc.)
POV (PBS / American Documentary, Inc.)
VICE (HBO / VICE Media)

Qualified members of BFCA and BTJA will choose the winners in voting Oct. 30 -31.

Monday, September 18, 2017

42nd TIFF award advertises 'Billboards' as a real favorite

The curtain has come down at the 42nd annual Toronto International Film Festival, and
"Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" walked off with the "People's Choice Award."

As result, the darkly comic drama from writer/director Martin McDonagh establishes itself as a year-end awards favorite, that is, if TIFF history has anything to say about it. The fact remains, though, that eight of last the nine winners have gone on to Best Picture Academy Award nominations. Those include "Room" and "La La Land" the last two years, as well as such actual Oscar winners as "Slumdog Millionaire," The King's Speech," and "12 Years a Slave."

Frances McDormand stars in "The People's Choice" winner.
The film from McDonagh ("In Bruges," "Seven Psychopaths") features Frances McDormand leading an all-star ensemble as a tough mom who purchases the billboard space to get the local police moving on finding her daughter's murderer. Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Peter Dinklage, Abbie Cornish and Lucas Hedges co-star.

The People's Choice runners-up for the festival, which showcased 255 features from Sept. 7-17, were "I, Tonya" (starring Margot Robbie as scandalous figure skater Tonya Harding) and "Call Me By Your Name," the Armie Hammer starrer which has been a critical darling since debuting at the Sundance Film Festival last winter.

Other top TIFF winners included:

Best Canadian Feature: "Les Affames"; Film Critics Fipresci Prizes: "Ava" (in the festival's Discovery program) and "The Motive" (in Special Presentations); Platform Prize: "Sweet Country"; People's Choice in Midnight Madness: "Bodied";  People's Choice in Documentaries: "Faces Places."

Some personal choices (among 30 movies viewed):

Favorite films: The aforementioned "Billboards," which twists and turns brilliantly around McDormand's justifiably angry mom, and "The Shape of Water," co-writer/director Guillermo del Toro's fairytale about a mute woman (Sally Hawkins) becoming infatuated with the subject of a top-secret government experiment. It truly is a movie lover's dream with another smart, superb supporting cast.

Good ones to see: "Battle of the Sexes" (Billie Jean King vs. Bobby Riggs); "Borg/McEnroe" (Bjorn Borg vs. John McEnroe); "Darkest Hour" (Winston Churchill vs. the Nazis), and "Chappaquiddick" (Teddy Kennedy vs. himself).

Nice surprises: "Breathe" (which first-time director Andy Serkis somehow makes much more than just another disease of the week movie) and "Lady Bird" (which first-time director Greta Gerwig somehow makes a little more than your average teen angst comedy).

And speaking of comedies: Armando Ianucci's "The Death of Stalin" and Louis C.K.'s "I Love You, Daddy" both produced some very big laughs, particularly in the early going. However, the most consistently funny festival film was "The Disaster Artist," from director James Franco, who also stars as the filmmaker credited with making the worst movie of all time. It's consistently hilarious.

Actor accolades: Gary Oldman, as the aforementioned Churchill in "Darkest Hour"; Andrew Garfield in "Breathe"; Denzel Washington as "Roman J. Israel, Esq."; and Michael Stuhlbarg and Timothee Chalamet in "Call Me By Your Name." Their father-son scene at the end is a cinematic masterpiece.

Actress attention: Hawkins in "The Shape of Water"; McDormand in "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri; Claire Foy in "Breathe"; and Laurie Metcalf, as the "mean" mother in "Lady Bird."

Wish I'd seen 'em: "I Tonya"  and "The Florida Project."

Sorry I did: "mother!" I prefer to call it "monstrous!" And, I wasn't the only one. Here's what I overheard walking out: "So Paramount gave (director Darren) Aronofsky a (boat)load of money and basically said, "Go make whatever you want." Sounds about right.

And, on than note, our TIFF coverage becomes a legitimate wrap.

(Info on all of the above films remains available at www.tiff.net.)

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Denzel's latest becomes final Toronto Film Festival entry

TORONTO -- The Toronto International Film Festival this morning announced the world premiere of Academy Award nominee Dan Gilroy’s "Roman J. Israel, Esq." thus completing the 2017 Official Programme Selection.

Written and directed by Gilroy and featuring what's being called "an amazing transformation" by Denzel Washington, the film is the newest and final addition to TIFF’s Special Presentations program, furthering Washington and Gilroy’s collaborative relationship with the Festival.

“The Toronto International Film Festival has a wonderful history with both Dan Gilroy and Denzel Washington,” said Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director of TIFF. “Three years ago, TIFF had the honor of premiering Gilroy’s directorial debut, 'Nightcrawler.'

Denzel Washington is "Roman J. Israel, Esq."
"In addition to previously screening 'The Equalizer' and presenting the world premiere of 'Training Day,' which earned Washington an Oscar for Best Actor, the Washington-starring 'The Magnificent Seven' was our Opening Night film last year."

“We always hoped to premiere at Toronto and couldn't be happier that TIFF audiences will be the first to see the film,” said Gilroy.

"Roman J. Israel, Esq." is a dramatic thriller set in the underbelly of the overburdened Los Angeles criminal court system.  Washington stars as a driven, idealistic defense attorney whose life is upended when a turbulent series of events challenge the activism that has defined his career.

Colin Farrell co-stars as the ambitious, monied lawyer who recruits Roman to his firm. This star-led cast also includes Carmen Ejogo, Lynda Gravatt, Amanda Warren, Hugo Armstrong, Sam Gilroy, Tony Plana, DeRon Horton and Amari Cheatom.

The 42nd Toronto International Film Festival runs from Sept. 7-17. For film synopses, cast lists, images and more information, see tiff.net/tiff.

For even more on the festival, continue to read John M. Urbancich's TIFF stories at wkyc.com. John's first festival preview is here right now.

Monday, July 31, 2017

'Borg/McEnroe' tennis drama will open Toronto Film Festival

TIFF will serve up one of the most exciting duels in sports history to kick off the 42nd annual Toronto International Film Festival. The world premiere of "Borg/McEnroe" will be the Opening Night Gala film on Sept. 7 at Roy Thomson Hall.

"Borg/McEnroe" tells the story of the epic rivalry between Swedish tennis legend Björn Borg (Sverrir Gudnason) and his greatest adversary, the brash American John McEnroe (Shia LaBeouf), which all came to a head during the 1980 Wimbledon Championships. The movie is directed by Janus Metz and written by Ronnie Sandahl, 

"The film has a powerful tension about it that is on par with the electric energy of Toronto on opening night,” said Piers Handling, TIFF's Director and CEO. “The story of this nail-biter matchup changed the sport of tennis forever, and the outstanding performances from LaBeouf and Gudnason will be a spectacular way for festival-goers to kick things off.”

LaBeouf and Gudnason take center court in Toronto.
Added director Metz: “I am extremely honored by TIFF’s selection of 'Borg/McEnroe' as the opening film. It is a great celebration and recognition of everyone in the cast and crew who worked so hard to make this film what it is. We had very high ambitions for this project and have come such a long way together. I'm very excited that we can finally let the film out into the world, and I couldn't dream of a better way of doing this.”

Cameron Bailey, artistic director of TIFF, compared Metz's latest film to his 'Armadillo,' a gripping war documentary that took home the Critics Week Grand Prize at Cannes in 2010. "Amazingly, Metz brings that same urgent tension to 'Borg/McEnroe'," Bailey said. "The on-court scenes have the dynamism of a street battle, and the drama peels back layers from what we know about both players.

"This was more than a simple conflict pitting an icy European against an impulsive American. Audiences are in for one hell of a showdown.”

The 42nd Toronto International Film Festival runs from Sept. 7-17, Festival ticket packages start at $105. Purchase packages online at tiff.net/tickets, by phone (416.599.TIFF or 1.888.599.8433), or in person at TIFF Bell Lightbox until Aug. 13 while quantities last.
  

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Latest from duo behind 'Intouchables' and 'Samba' closes TIFF

Piers Handling, CEO and Director of the Toronto International Film Festival, and Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director of TIFF, this morning unveiled the first round of titles premiering in the Gala and Special Presentations programs of the 42nd TIFF. Of the 14 Galas and 33 Special Presentations, this first announcement includes 25 world premieres, eight international premieres, six North American premieres and eight Canadian premieres.

“Festival-goers from around the world can anticipate a remarkable lineup of extraordinary stories, voices and cinematic visions from emerging talent and some of our favorite masters,” Handling said. “Today’s announcement offers audiences a glimpse at this year’s rich and robust selection of films, including works from Canada, USA, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Ireland, Luxembourg, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, India, Chile, Egypt and Cambodia.”

Today's list includes the World Premiere of "C’est la vie!", which was announced as the festival's Closing Night Gala. Written and directed by award-winning filmmakers Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano, the film stars Gilles Lellouche, Suzanne Clément, Eye Haïdara, and Jean-Pierre Bacri. "C’est la vie!" will screen at Roy Thomson Hall on Sept. 16.

"C’est la vie!" tells the story of Max, who has begun to grow tired after running his catering company for 30 years. While planning a large wedding for clients, a series of mishaps upends a very tight schedule, and every instant of happiness and emotion could veer into disaster and chaos. From the preparations to daybreak, we get a behind-the-scenes look at a wedding party through the eyes of the people working the event. They will all have to count on their one common quality: knowing how to throw a good party!

Nakache and Toledano make films that the whole world has embraced. We're thrilled to welcome them back with their latest,” said Bailey. “This will be a terrific way for Toronto to close out the festival.”

Bailey later added that the festival's Opening Night film has not been selected so far. However, he said the choice likely would be announced by mid-August, if not sooner. The 42nd annual film festival runs from Sept. 7-17.

Other festival world premieres announced today include: "Breathe" (directed by Andy Serkis and starring Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy); "The Catcher Was a Spy" (Guy Pearce and Paul Rudd) ; "Mary Shelley" (Elle Fanning); "The Wife" (Christian Slater and Glenn Close); "Woman Walks Ahead" (Jessica Chastain and Sam Rockwell); and "The Children Act" (Emma Thompson and Stanley Tucci).

For more on festival films named today, read John's cleveland.com piece here.