Denis Villeneuve delivers a sci-fi masterpiece
In the past two decades, only two directors –Alfonso Cuarón, who won for Gravity in 2013, and Avatar’s James Cameron in 2009 – have been nominated for the Best Director Oscar for sci-fi films. That both have come in the last seven years may, optimistically, point to a slight thawing in the Academy’s stance to the genre, but it’s small comfort to anyone who cares about such things.
Perhaps, with his latest effort Arrival, Denis Villeneuve will do what Christopher Nolan was unable to, what Ridley Scott was unable to, what the Wachowskis and Neill Blomkamp and Duncan Jones and Spike Jonze and Alex Garland were unable to. Perhaps he’ll join that illustrious and exclusive club.
In defence of the multiplex
The multiplex cinema experience is oft-maligned. Justifiably so, sometimes. There are the people who seem pathologically unable to put away their phones. The mess and broken seats. The half-hour of ads and trailers. The lighting. All those fucking nachos.
To say there’s room for improvement would be like saying I’m kind of looking forward to Dunkirk. (Of course I am. It goes without saying. Everybody is.) Showcase has, to its credit, recognised this, and responded with reclining seats and a borderline-comical expanse of legroom. Other chains too will need to shape up if they want to keep cinemagoing a national pastime in the age of on-demand everything.
Production diary #03
Casting for Watch the Skies is officially complete.
I’ve cast a few short films, and it’s never the most fun part of the process. Crucial, obviously, but not fun. It’s great when you find the right person, and your character finally has a solid, human form, but the journey to get there can often be fairly excruciating.
Production diary #02
It’s taken a little longer than planned, but the Watch the Skies casting process in now underway.
Here’s what’s happened so far.
Let go of the snark. You might actually like it
You may have noticed, but there’s now a very distinct portion of the movie-going audience who yearn to criticise far more than they want to actually enjoy anything. They wait, breath bated, for the credits to roll, so they can unleash a barrage of snark upon whichever poor fools dared try and entertain them.
Maybe they’re the logic police; maybe there was too much CGI; it could be an accent, or the voiceover, or an actress, or the music. Nothing is too big or too small for this peanut gallery of cynical wannabe-critics.
Or, So You Think You Can Win An Oscar?
If there’s one reliable route to Oscar-dom, it’s the biopic. The Academy bloody loves a good biopic. It even loves an average one. If an actor needs a pick-me-up, there’s no surer way than playing a real-life actual human being. Extra points for bald, fat or skinny, obviously.
This year’s nominees included Spotlight, The Big Short, Bridge of Spies and The Revenant amongst the Best Pictures, plus Steve Jobs, Joy, Trumbo and Straight Outta Compton among the acting and writing categories. Of the eight biggest awards, only one (Brie Larson for Room) went to a piece of pure fiction. This was, in short, a very good year for films based on real events and real people.
Production diary #01
It’s true. Finally.
It’s a short sci-fi drama that I’ve written called Watch the Skies.