Casting the net

Production diary #02

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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.

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Enjoy your film

Let go of the snark. You might actually like it

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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.

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The biopic formula

Or, So You Think You Can Win An Oscar?

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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.

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Procedural 2.0

The old stalwart is back, and no one saw a thing

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Procedurals have ruled the television landscape for decades. Pretty much since television became a thing, it’s been defined by the case-of-the-week format, with police, lawyers and doctors solving, saving, and then starting over again each episode.

At some point, however – probably around the mid-2000s – they became decidedly unsexy. There are still a huge number of standard procedurals, of course, including the highest-rated show on TV (NCIS, as well as CSI, Bones, Law & Order: SVU, all the Chicago shows), but they’re mostly ignored by critics, and they sure as hell aren’t in any awards conversation. They’re the meat-and-potatoes of network and basic cable: reliable, older-skewing, dull.

And so it is that ‘procedural’ became a kind of dirty word.

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The Alternate Oscars

A moment for the best pictures not nominated for Best Picture

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2015 was a remarkably strong year for film. So strong, in fact, that there’s an alternate, but equally-strong Best Picture race being run in a parallel Los Angeles, featuring none of the films currently vying for a trophy. Some were early favourites that dropped off, some received bafflingly-average reviews, others were near-locks right up until they weren’t.

Without further ado, the Alternate Oscars.

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