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Friday, January 8, 2016

Awards and voting ... where are Jennifer Lawrence, Lily Tomlin and Seth Rogen and an award for Stunt Coordinator

T'was the night before nominations and all through the house ...... yes Christmas has been and gone, but the flood of films and marketing that started late November has not stopped. The night before the short list is announced I traditionally look at the pile of films I have not got to see and ask 'what have I missed?' Last night I binged watched although it was too late to vote. I was glad I missed 45 Years and sad I had not found A Bigger Splash ..... it happens.

Today, Friday 8th January it intensifies...... the shortlist of BAFTA FILM AWARD nominations is announced and the critics will criticise and us with the vote will look at the shorten list and watch again.

My favourites were Spotlight, The Big Short, Bridge Of Spies, The Martian, The Revenant, Steve Jobs, Beasts Of No Nation and Mad Max. They got most of my votes; were they in there? Yes.

So who at Shades Of Bad, a little home made web series gets to vote on the big stage and why?

Shades Of Bad, the weekly web series is made by two families ... wow that sounds like the start of Romeo and Juliet; so much in life is poetic. Both families have a voting member.

The Blackledge family; Young Buster directs Shades Of Bad (like us on Facebook please) as readers will know, but at around 20 years old (maybe 22, must ask) he does not have the stripes to vote in the awards. His father Mark Blackledge is a voting member in the 'composer chapter' and he offers the music in Shades and the post production. His inventive work on the pig farmer episode shows his confidence and skills. Mark who has worked on endless numbers movies and TV whether credited or not, has just started
a full on TV series for the Cartoon Network. His time will be precious and Shades Of Bad will have the begging bowl out for his time and may have to use previous music cues and mix in FCPX.

The St Paul family is Doris (actress Jean Heard) who also co-owns INDYUK that has made many films from The Scarlet Tunic, Devil's Gate, Freight and Bula Quo all without one cent of public or Lottery money. Stuart St Paul is the voting member there in the 'director chapel' and again Shades is far from his first morning call but is using many of his old scripts that have been hiding on shelves for years.

Four people is the total crew on Shades Of Bad, Stuart writes, Buster films, Mark post produces,  Jean Heard manages the show, the schedule and call times and also costumes and make up as well as art direction and props - then she plays Doris. FOUR PEOPLE! So where do all these award categories come from... and which ones do they never award...
The BAFTA AWARDS are huge and bigger now because they are just before the Oscars and hence there a huge influence. That influence has changed the, dare I say, somewhat old fashioned TV and very British lead voting the BAFTA's may have had many years ago, into what is now a award major force. There are awards every week of the year for film, TV and web, maybe every day of the year there is an award ceremony somewhere, but BAFTA is now a world leader.

Shades Of Bad crew try to influence it's two long time established chapel member voters like the bulk of marketing, but Mark and Stuart (me) both have film running in their veins and opinions enough.

Shades Of Bad though, to be honest, is one of the many (or few) incubators that is internally funded and from where tomorrow's stars are nurtured. Buster's first film is now in development and you will hear more about that. An ex olympian and TV celebrity is cutting his teeth as an actor.

So as Stuart and Mark are both long established vote holders here is a quick one line on how it works; in the prelim rounds they only get to vote for their 'chapters' plus Best Film, director and actors. After this morning they have a reduce field of films to consider (the nominees) but they vote in all categories. The run up to the close of the large list is manic with voters being invited to receptions and wined and dined, stars turning up to answer questions as touched upon in our previous blogOld movie stars, new web stars......

Just as the public are wowed by the big names, the voters are too because we know that the system filters the good product by the best talent being offered and capable of choosing the best opportunities, hence delivering as whole the best films. Voting members meet, they know each other and are friends, and at Christmas they circulate. It is a perfect voting period but congested. There are films that they agree on and films like Steve Jobs which seem to dived people.

This mornings results to reduce the huge list to five nominations in each catagory are the work of these thousand or so industry veterans speaking out on films, and one can interpret the short list in many ways. Interpreting the list and what the critics say is always interesting. Film makers and the film 'experts' often differ.

I am not surprised that the only nod for Tarantino's Hateful 8 is for script, his three plus hours has proved too long and maybe too formulaic and predictable to be supported in bulk and maybe he will be disappointed. I offered one vote for Hateful 8 but mine went to Jennifer Jason Leigh as best supporting actress. It appears the rest of us were also split in a film we loved, admired and then equally did not.

Another interesting analysis is when the writer is nominated but not the director, as in Steve Jobs. Boyle did a great job but Sorkin gets the nod for the script which kind of singles him out as the real creator, rightly or wrongly. Personally I am a huge Sorkin fan and loved the movie and performances but I had wine with others over Christmas who did not agree with me about the film. Fassbender still nudges the best actor for me and I always like Kate Winslet whom I worked with a on Hideous Kinky.

Films do split people and there are two front runners at BAFTA this year in Bridge Of Spies and Carol both with nine nominations. I loved Spielberg's film and felt he was back at his best but Carol left me cold and looking at my second screen. Worth a special mention for Bridge Of Spies is colleague Mark Rylance whom I worked with on Grass Arena in the days when the BBC made Screen 1 and 2's and called them plays and did not take Lottery money as well as their other public funds to make television they call film.

Bridge of Spies
Best Film: Kristie Macosko Krieger, Marc Platt, Steven Spielberg 
Director: Steven SpielbergOriginal Screenplay: Matthew Charman, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen 
Supporting Actor: Mark Rylance
Original Music: Thomas NewmanCinematography: Janusz KamińskiEditing: Michael KahnProduction Design: Adam Stockhausen, Rena DeAngeloSound: Drew Kunin, Richard Hymns, Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom 

I did not vote for Charlotte Ramplin in 45 Years whom some commentators felt was omitted from the best actress short list. The television film angered me for the money thrown at it by multiple free money funds whose lawyers and executives help add up to budgets that are hard to justify as an independent or in modern film sales. 45 Years like Shades Of Bad it is often two people in a kitchen, but they had millions not a crew of three total and a budget of zero. The true oversights from Best Actress was without a doubt; Jennifer Lawrence in Joy who was amazing, but sadly the film was not the best and my guess is not enough people had time to view it and an amazing performance from Lily Tomlin in Grandma which I can only image was not viewed by enough people as you do have to choose. There is always a danger that on a bad first scene or 5 minutes you swap to another film on the huge pile and a clunky unnecessary first scene in Grandma may have put off some people. Stay with it, it is a good movie.
None of us avoid the smaller films but I watched A Bigger Splash at 1am this morning and loved it, too late. Ralf Fiennes deserved note for a bold and unusual performance but when I look at my five votes I am not sure he would have squeezed anyone out.
Not only does the home team vote perhaps help British films a little on the east of the Atlantic but one might consider there could be a need to rubber stamp funding choices with a tick by voting for films that have had investment choices, and as you may see from the titles some films have more executive and funding bodies than crew. It will be interesting to see how many of these UK funded films find their way into the Oscar lists, again, just analyising as you would hope politicians do... but having watched The Big Short it is unlikely.

My favourite film was Spotlight which sadly only got three category nominations, but then when taking on the church one can expect it to be avoided by a significant section of voters. At a wine and cheese party over Christmas I was with a fellow BAFTA voter who said he loved Spotlight and it had his vote but his wife refused to watch it. The point of the film is you should watch it and it is brilliant. Fantastic snappy script.

Spotlight
Best Film: Steve Golin, Blye Pagon Faust, Nicole Rocklin, Michael Sugar 
Original Screenplay: Tom McCarthy, Josh SingerSupporting Actor: Mark Ruffalo 

It is a sign of the times that an action film has got into the shortlist. There was a time when commercial films appeared to be shunned by BAFTA voters and large action movies still seem to be. The hugely important category of Stunts is till ignored by BAFTA yet there are sections for just about every other department and tea maker. Still as the industry says, the actors do all their own stunts and the directors direct all their own films ... having said that the scene everyone seems to talk about on The Revenant is Di Caprio's fight with the bear and I wonder who really put that together. So to see Mad Max in there is a turning point in film voting appreciation, and with seven nominations. But note, no nomination for the stunt coordinator ... go ask yourself what the film is made of!!!

Mad Max: Fury Road
Cinematography: John SealeEditing: Margaret SixelProduction Design: Colin Gibson, Lisa ThompsonCostume Design: Jenny BeavenMake Up & Hair: Lesley Vanderwalt, Damian MartinSound: Scott Hecker, Chris Jenkins, Mark Mangini, Ben Osmo, Gregg Rudloff, David White 
Special Visual Effects: Andrew Jackson, Dan Oliver, Tom Wood, Andy Williams 

Star Wars also gets in there which when put into perspective is amazing because they never sent screeners to the voters, so only those who got to screenings would have voted. As the screenings we all over the busy Christmas period one has to say the film must be as good as everyone seems to say it is.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Original Music: John WilliamsProduction Design: Rick Carter, Darren Gilford, Lee SandalesSound: David Acord, Andy Nelson, Christopher Scarabosio, Matthew Wood, Stuart Wilson Special Visual Effects: Chris Corbould, Roger Guyett, Paul Kavanagh, Neal Scanlan 

I loved The Big Short, the way the film makers just throw it at you, that this was some kind of major fraud for which no one has been arrested and even someone in a bubble bath with no banking knowledge can explain how stupidly corrupt this was. I loved it. There should be a film about the alleged frauds in some film making as the cases make the tax courts on a regular basis now.

The Big Short
Best Film: Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Brad Pitt 
Director: Adam McKayAdapted Screenplay: Adam McKay, Charles Randolph 
Supporting Actor: Christian Bale
Editing: Hank Corwin 

I did like the movie Steve Jobbs and it's honesty about how they designed a product that doesn't work too well with anything outside the brand... sorry I got sidetracked. But as much as I love Idris Elba who will now get my vote as best supporting actor for his amazing performance in Beasts Of No Nation, I would have preferred to have been challenged with the choice of voting for him or Seth Rogen who I think is a huge star continually proving how broad his spectrum is. For me he has stepped into the shoes of the much missed and multi talented Robin Williams.

Steve Jobs
Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin 
Leading Actor: Michael Fassbender 
Supporting Actress: Kate Winslet 

Brooklyn for me was great piece of TV but not a film, and it appeared to have been shot hand held then stabilised as the wall paper seemed to have turrets. Stabilisation of the most important part of a picture (person) has the effect of making the background dance and I was annoyed that 5 major funders and teams of execs seemed to have made that choice in post and not while shooting. The film obviously did not grab me beyond being a good old fashioned BBC Screen 1.
Similarly I have mixed feelings on the Danish Girl. I like it, and Redmayne was amazing, but I am not sure I felt he was stretched or it was equal to the other five I had as Best Actor.

I can't list everything, but take it from me, we have missed out on Jennifer Lawrence in Joy, Seth Rogen in Steve Jobbs and A Bigger Splash plus a missing award section for stunt coordinator again when Mad Max gets 7 nominations and DiCaprio's fight with the bear is a talking point.
There are TV films whose corporate and lottery funding muscle have perhaps lifted them higher than they may achieve in LA in a few months time, but I could be wrong.

For the full list.  Visit the BAFTA site for a full list of films and their nominations.


And for a no budget web soap that hits the US / World top ten each week with no crew, no Lottery, and no money ... check out this weeks episode. Shot in RAW 2k and fully scored, which not all television can do with all the funding they get... The awards, a time to balance one against the other.

Maybe you can vote for Shades Of Bad... here. You get a vote... 

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