What a weekend it was, the disappointment of a tepid General Election tempered by the fact that Man United actually played well for once, Leonardo DiCaprio finally won an Oscar and a bunch of friends I headed on a stag with to Galway managed to all come home alive and for the most part safe and (relatively) sound.
The older I get the less the Oscars or any of the other award ceremonies seem of any importance whatsoever, indeed one of the only useful things to come out of this year's ceremony was that finally this privileged elite was forced to look hard at itself in the mirror and begin to address the racial and gender bias which runs through the Hollywood system. So despite my reluctance to do so this week's article will feature a roundup of the award results.
As I have noted here in the last few weeks and months it has been a really strong and impressive year for Irish cinema, it reached its peak last night in Los Angeles, Ben Cleary, a Dubliner, won best live action short for the excellent Stutterer. Somewhat overlooked in the weeks succeeding the nation’s record nine nominations, Cleary, who financed the film himself, emerged as the only Irish-born winner.
Brie Larson, took best actress for Lenny Abrahamson’s very good Room. This is a massive result for an Irish co-production.
None of the other Irish nominees for Room or John Crowley’s Brooklyn were favourites to win in the categories they found themselves in and in truth nominations alone is a huge achievement. Hopefully now we can build on the momentum our industry has gained over the past year or so and continue to bat well above our weight internationally and domestically. A national cinema is something we can all be proud of and it seems cinema is fast becoming something which we Irish are quite good at indeed.
The best picture prize went to what was in my opinion the best film in the category. Inarritu won best director for the frontier revenge drama The Revenant, but best film went the way of Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight. Inarritu’s win marking the first time in 65 years that one person has won the category in two consecutive years. Iñárritu is the third director to accomplish this feat after his wins last year for Birdman. When one thinks of how many great filmmakers have never gotten near the prize it reminds us that these awards are as much to do with luck and timing than anything else. It wasn’t so long ago that Martin Scorsese was given effectively a token award for his work on The Departed after being ignored by the Academy for literally decades.
Leonardo DiCaprio, nominated four times previously for acting prizes, finally won the Oscar for his leading performance in the aforementioned The Revenant. Mad Max Fury Road, cleaning up in the technical awards, easily topped the charts with six Oscars, it makes the film the most successful Australian film in the history of the academy.
As is usual around awards season or whatever it is, the last few weeks have been slow ones for the cinema, with little movement when it comes to new releases.
Director: Louis Leterrier
Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen, Mark Strong, Isla Fisher, Penelope Cruz, Rebel Wilson
Running Time: 83 min
There was a time long long ago when Sacha Baron Cohen was funny. I remember it, and there are clips online and elsewhere which prove this to us and remind us all that even if it was a brief window of hilarity it actually happened and those of us who remember this are not suffering from some kind of delusion.
Here Cohen plays Nobby Grimsby, a horrible caricature of a man raised in the North of England in the titular town whose name he shares. Nobby has wasted his life, drinks constantly, sleeps around and does little to care for his many children who smoke and take drugs. Nobby has been trying to find his brother whom has been missing for some years. When a friend claims to have seen his brother Sebastian in London, Nobby ventures down to find him. What follows is a most unfunny spy film, perhaps the most unfunny and nasty you will ever see. What made Borat funny is missing here, namely letting unwitting people in power show us their predjudises. Here all we get is the filmmakers themselves giving away their own ugly prejudices and no one is laughing.
2 out of 5
Director: Tim Miller
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin
Running Time: 107 min
Deadpool is now getting a film to himself he had previously been a cameo in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, he’s like the bastard child the X men don’t want you to know about and a few of the X men characters show up here to fulfil the necessary brand overlap Marvel practice in all their films complete with another cameo from Stan Lee.
Ryan Reynolds plays Wade Wilson, a retired army vet who subsists boozing and brawling until he receives a deadly cancer diagnosis and turns to a shady organisation which offers him a cure but instead results in a mutation which turns Wilson into the titular super anti hero who then seeks bloody revenge on said organisation and their leader, Ajax, played by Game of Thrones Ed Skrein. What follows brings to mind other similar takes on the superhero such as Kick Ass and the same problems with tone remains. While at times funny and undoubtedly exciting, there is an unmistakable whiff of misogyny at times here and the constant smarty pants knowing lines brings us down a postmodern cul de sac that ends up being somewhat frustrating and restrictive.
2.5 out of 5
Director: Jason Zada
Starring: Natalie Dormer,
Running Time: 92 min
Natalie Dormer plays Sara, a young woman distressed by the disappearance of her twin sister. The circumstances could hardly be less promising. The Japanese forest into which the young woman vanished is among the most popular sites for suicide in the world. As Sara begins to try and solve the mystery of her sister's disappearance the film adopts the tropes of nearly every horror film anyone has even imagined setting in Japan. Dormer sleepwalks through this dreadful film.
1 out of 5