Connect with us


Oscars 2021: 5 experts on the wins, the words, the wearable art and a big year for women



Oscars 2021: 5 experts on the wins, the words, the wearable art and a big year for women
Chloé Zhao has made history at the 93rd Academy Awards as the first Asian-American woman and first woman of colour to win Best Director. She won for Nomadland, which Zhao also edited, produced, and adapted as a screenplay (from the book by Jessica Bruder).

Only one other woman has ever won Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker in 2008. Zhao and fellow nominee Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) were just the sixth and seventh women to receive nominations.

This was one of a trifecta of above-the-line prizes that went to women. Fennell won Best Original Screenplay for Promising Young Woman and Zhao for Best Picture.

Emerald Fennell, winner of the award for best original screenplay for Promising Young Woman, enters the press room.
AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

These three awards put women in the spotlight as never before. But filmmaking is a collective art. Women were also celebrated in technical areas where sexism and gender disparity are even more entrenched.

Michelle Couttolenc won an award for Best Sound (Sound of Metal) and Jan Pascale for Best Set Decoration (Mank). Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson made history as the first African-American winners in the category of makeup and hairstyling (with Sergio Lopez-Rivera) for their contributions to Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

Women also accepted awards as film producers: Dana Murray won Best Animated Feature with Pete Docter (Soul), Alice Doyard won Best Documentary Short with Anthony Giacchino (Collette) and Pippa Ehrlich won Best Documentary Feature with James Reed (My Octopus Teacher).

This year, with shrinking audiences and pandemic restrictions, there was a bitter irony in the fact women won more Oscars, across new and highly visible categories, than ever before.

– Julia Erhart

Read more:
How the Oscars finally made it less lonely for women at the top of their game

Best Picture

It’s no surprise Nomadland won Best Picture — it’s good, compelling stuff, and manages (like most Oscar contenders) to be formulaic to its core without appearing as such. In classic Hollywood fashion, beautiful images accompanied by derivative but affecting music reinscribe social and political history in the mode of melodramatic and intimate personal reflection.

Following “salt of the earth” Fern (Frances McDormand) on her journey through the American West, we experience her ups and downs, recognising the emotional impact the devastation of precarious employment has had on her. The brutal 21st century reality of disempowered (non-unionised) workers becomes fodder for a narrative focusing on an individual’s personal growth — including happily working for Amazon no less (it’s “good pay,” Fern says).

Frances McDormand in a scene from Nomadland.
Searchlight Pictures via AP

Still, it definitely works as a film, painting a starkly drawn but nuanced portrait of life in post-industrial America. It’s poetically charged in its understatement, and features excellent performances by McDormand and David Strathairn as her love interest.

It’s also better than most of its contenders, including the sophomoric Promising Young Woman and the irrepressibly dull Mank. The only exception is Judas and the Black Messiah: the best film nominated for an Oscar this year (if not the best film of the year).

-Ari Mattes

Acceptance speeches

To keep making and distributing movies over the past year has been an achievement in itself. Many speakers acknowledged colleagues who persisted in believing in film projects against a backdrop of ongoing adversity.

The movies nominated were a politically charged bunch. While presenters acknowledged the issues, winners largely allowed the movies to speak for their own politics.

There was mention of gun violence and slayings by police. H.E.R. (Best Original Song) proclaimed her role to “fight for my people”. Daniel Kaluuya (Best Supporting Actor) highlighted the spirituality and politics of the Black Panthers and said the work still to do was “on everyone in this room”. Mikkel Nielsen (Best Editing) did his bit for arts funding, praising the Danish Film School as his award vindicated support for it.

Best director Zhao praised those looking for the good in others, while Best Documentary winner Ehrlich credited courageous women “joining hands and fighting for justice”.

Generally, though, the acceptance speeches did not indulge in politicking. There was no direct mention of America’s 2020 election results, no Biden and nothing like the Trump mentions last year — just the art at hand.

-Tom Clark


Couple on red carpet
Chloe Zhao arrives (with Joshua James Richards) for the 93rd annual Academy Awards.
Chris Pizzello/POOL/EPA

The intimate Oscars ceremony (with only 170 VIP guests at LA’s Union Station) meant a reduced red carpet. However, attendees made up for the lack of numbers by bringing colour, glamour and scale in what they wore.

The dress code asked for “a fusion of Inspirational and Aspirational”. After spending 2020 in our most comfortable garments, this return to in-person awards called for spectacle.

The majority of guests followed the directive. Sure, winning director Zhao opted for sneakers, but she wore them with her pale Hermès sweater dress and French braids and looked effortlessly cool. Musical director Questlove dressed up his rubber Crocs by making them gold.

Early arrivals at the event included some of the best dressed men of the night, including Coleman Domingo in shocking, delicious pink Atelier Versace; LaKeith Stanfield in custom Saint Laurent 70s jumpsuit by Anthony Vaccarello; and the adorable young Alan S. Kim in Thom Browne short suit, bow tie and four-bar socks.

women in fancy dresses on red carpet
Colour and movement. From left: Amanda Seyfried, Angela Bassett, Reese Witherspoon, Halle Berry, Emerald Fennell and Regina King.
AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

Perhaps the strongest trend was volume: in skirts, sleeves and bows. Maria Bakalova’s white tulle Louis Vuitton seemed directly related to Bjork’s iconic swan dress of 20 years ago, as did Laura Dern’s marabou feather Oscar de la Renta.

Regina King was resplendent in a custom Louis Vuitton powder-blue butterfly dress, with huge, bejewelled winged shoulders. Sleeves were also exaggerated in Angela Bassett’s red Alberta Ferretti and Marlee Matlin’s sparkling yet sustainably made Vivienne Westwood.

Carey Mulligan’s gold Valentino two-piece, Nicolette Robinson’s black taffeta Zuhair Murad and Amanda Seyfried’s red tulle Armani Privé all came with skirts made for social distancing.

woman in yellow dress
Zendaya in canary custom Valentino, Jimmy Choo heels and US$6 million worth of Bulgari diamonds.
Chris Pizzello / POOL/EPA

The most aspirational? Surely Zendaya in a canary yellow, Cher-inspired strapless Valentino with over US$6 million (A$7.7 million) of yellow Bulgari diamonds.

And the most inspirational: 73-year old Youn Yuh-jung making history as the first Korean woman to win an Academy Award for acting, wearing a navy gown by Egyptian designer Marmar Halim with Chopard jewels. Perfect.

-Harriette Richards

Best Acting

Anthony Hopkins won for The Father, and Frances McDormand for Nomadland. Fair enough. Both are stellar actors who bring a quiet intensity to their performances in these films.

Both have carved out a niche for themselves within the Hollywood machine playing these kinds of characters, with Hopkins becoming synonymous in the 21st century with the broken patriarch and McDormand with the quirky baby boomer.

Each could have played their role in their sleep, one suspects, with neither seeming particularly challenged from a craft perspective. But if there’s one thing you can depend upon when it comes to the Oscars, it is middlebrow polite predictability, and these are both obvious choices.

In contrast, Riz Ahmed offers a less polished but stranger and more interesting performance in Sound of Metal, as does Andra Day, who overacts in the lead role but nonetheless masters our attention in The United States vs. Billie Holiday.

-Ari Mattes

Read more:
We asked two experts to watch The Father and Supernova. These new films show the fear and loss that come with dementia

Best Original Score

Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, and Jon Batiste’s win for their music for Soul in the Best Original Score category is unusual in at least three ways. First, Soul is an animated film, (the first to win as a soundtrack since Michael Giacchino’s Up in 2009).

Then there’s the fact that Soul is dominated not just by jazz music, but by jazz music played on screen — a genre rarely rewarded by the academy today. You’d have to go back to Round Midnight and Herbie Hancock in 1986 for something genuinely comparable.

Strangest of all, there’s a touch of category weirdness here. The academy rules state multiple composers on a single film are eligible only when they work closely together. That makes sense for Reznor and Ross, whose soundtrack careers can’t be meaningfully separated. But Batiste made markedly different music for Soul.

His is the film’s lively and virtuosic jazz often played on-screen by the film’s characters, while Reznor and Ross made ethereal, synth-heavy underscore for scenes set in the afterlife. In the end credits, Batiste — whose music does most of the heavy lifting in the film — isn’t even listed as composer. Instead, Pixar chose to list him with a “jazz compositions and arrangements by” credit.

Common sense prevailed this year, however, and perhaps it is time to rethink the Best Score eligibility rules. Of the other nominees, Terence Blanchard would have to feel hard done by after his wonderful music for a Spike Lee film (Da 5 Bloods) was overlooked again, while Emile Mosseri would be happy as a first time nominee despite his score for Minari arguably being the strongest of the bunch.

-Dan Golding

Source link

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply


Making short films is a powerful way to learn job skills: 5 ways it prepares students for work




Making short films is a powerful way to learn job skills: 5 ways it prepares students for work

The world of work is changing all the time. Technology is driving innovation and productivity, leading to the creation of new industries and employment opportunities. This means people need new skills to meet the demands of an ever-changing economy.

While universities can and do equip young people with important skills, tertiary education isn’t available to everyone. This is especially true in a country like South Africa, where about 43% of students in 2023 who qualified to pursue a bachelor’s qualification at university could not because of limited spaces.

Valuable knowledge and skills can also be acquired through non-formal and alternative pathways, however. We are education scholars who ran a pilot project using artistic media to teach important life skills to young adults (18–24 years old). Our project, Myturn, ran in South Africa’s Western Cape province over ten months in 2020. It used simple technology like smartphones and editing software to make short films.

Myturn benefited participants in several ways, as we’ve documented in a study. For instance, it honed their communication and teamwork skills. It bolstered their digital skills. It also allowed the students to connect with their communities. This connection, in turn, provided a platform for the communities to witness the participants’ willingness to learn and become change agents, while also allowing them to share their own stories and experiences.

The project showed how short films could be used to change the way people learn. This method meets many needs of young people by combining the learning of soft skills, computer literacy and artistic expression. It gets them ready for the problems of the future – not just ready for work, but also as socially involved people.

Five main benefits

Our research paper focused on the perceptions of nine (out of the initial group of 17) Myturn participants. All had completed secondary school. They were involved in various dance, drama, music and visual arts projects when recruited for Myturn and came from semi-rural communities in the Langeberg district of South Africa’s Western Cape province.

In 2020 they found themselves in a transitional phase between jobs, were preparing to enter the workforce for the first time, or were between school and tertiary education. They were also dealing with the effects of the pandemic, which began after we’d launched Myturn. This global crisis created difficulties but was also an opportunity for learning and adaptation.

During the project, participants learned the technology and skills needed to create and produce their own short films.

Our study identified five ways in which participants benefited from the project.

1. Improved emotional intelligence and soft skills:

Making short films helps build skills like leadership, teamwork and communication. It pushes young creators to figure out how to work together on complex tasks. This helps team members from different backgrounds understand and care about each other. People learn how to resolve disagreements, make their points clear, and inspire others to work towards a shared goal. These skills are necessary in any professional setting.

2. Improved digital skills and connectivity:

Participants learned how to use software programmes, handle digital content and interact with online groups. They were empowered to offer their skills globally and work remotely and flexibly.

3. Encouraged new ideas and creative ways to solve problems:

Making short films encourages people to try new things and to look at problems from different angles. This way of handling problems creatively makes one more flexible.

As a way to reach their artistic goals, participants learned to make changes and accept loss. This approach is in high demand across various sectors.

4. Supported personalised learning and finding out more about oneself:

Making a short film is a very personal process. It lets people explore themes that are important to them based on their own experiences, interests and goals. Personalising the way people learn reveals their skills, flaws and interests.

One participant, reflecting critically on her role as short film producer in the project, showcased her ownership of learning and the potential for transpersonal growth:

Being able to watch my video back before sending it made me realise how fast I speak and that (I) can come across as unclear, so I worked on speaking slower and I was satisfied with the final product.

Participants became more self-aware and confident. Young adults need help to figure out who they are and what they want to do with their lives.

One told us:

When the opportunity came I told myself it’s time to stretch myself and explore my skills.

5. Made the community more involved and gave people more power:

Making short films is a way to hear opinions that aren’t always heard. A participant said she enjoyed the chance her short film presented “to be able to comment or talk about the issues that everybody is most likely aware of but refuses to publicly speak/comment on”.

Read more:
I introduced social entrepreneurship to my trainee teachers — why it’ll make them better at their jobs

Young film-makers can bring attention to problems that matter in their communities by sharing their stories. This can start a conversation and help bring people together. This involvement goes beyond the project. People can be inspired by hearing these stories, which can lead to a shared sense of power and a dedication to making things better.

What came next

In the time since the Myturn project, participants have flourished. One was selected for a six-month jewellery design research programme in Belgium. Three more have been accepted for tertiary education; others became involved in education as teaching assistants. One started a media house company with a colleague. Two participants created their own YouTube channels and another started making TikTok reels with her brother.

While the project itself couldn’t guarantee personal change within its informal setting, it did offer significant benefits for some participants: developing critical self-awareness, overcoming cultural and language barriers, and gaining a deeper understanding of themselves. This suggests that meaningful interactions, both in person and online, can equip young people with valuable skills. These skills, like critical thinking and empathy, will be crucial for navigating their future lives and careers.

Source link

Continue Reading


Stanley Kubrick redefined: recent research challenges myths to reveal the man behind the legend




Stanley Kubrick redefined: recent research challenges myths to reveal the man behind the legend

Even 25 years after his death, Stanley Kubrick remains one of the most widely known directors of the 20th century. Many of the 13 films he made – including 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), A Clockwork Orange (1971) and The Shining (1980) – are still revered today and remembered as some of the best movies ever produced.

To coincide with the anniversary of his death on March 7 1999, I have co-authored the first full-length biography of Kubrick in more than two decades. Based on the latest research into Kubrick, access to his archive at the University of Arts London, other repositories around the world, family members, cast and creatives, we have delved into his life in detail that few others have achieved.

Shy but not reclusive

During his life Kubrick was famously shy with the media, and frequently interpreted as reclusive. He granted very few interviews, and only when he had a film to publicise. He learned early on that he was not good at promoting his films personally. In the few interviews with Kubrick that survive, he comes across as nervous and ill at ease.

Kubrick was so shy and protective of his private life that few people recognised him publicly. Though born and brought up in New York, he settled in England in the 1960s and remained there. He could wander into Rymans in St Albans and buy stationery (he loved paper, pens and the like) or get a new pair of spectacles and no one would recognise him. It helped that he often used his brother-in-law’s name when doing so.

In fact, Kubrick was such an unfamiliar figure that an imposter went around London’s clubs and bars in the early 1990s pretending to be him. The imposter was only found out when Kubrick started receiving strange phone calls from spurned lovers and bars with huge unpaid drinks tabs.

Kubrick archive

His archive only opened in 2007, but it provides an insight into this extremely private director’s world as never before. Kubrick was a hoarder and held on to the miscellany and detritus of his personal and professional worlds. This included high school yearbooks, photographs he took for Look magazine, receipts, bills, invoices, as well as the voluminous amount of material a film production (especially a Kubrick production) generated.

Kubrick in 1949, working as a photographer.
Phillip Harrington / Alamy

Through studying this archival material, combined with our new interviews, we learned about the human being behind the mythology. Kubrick was a film director but he was also a son, brother, husband, father and friend.

He liked to entertain, chat, make jokes and cook. He loved making American-style fast food and huge sandwiches, often using a microwave as he was a lover of gadgets, adopting new technology as soon as it became available. This was as true of his private life (where he used car phones, pagers and computers) as his working life where he was an early adopter of Steadicam cameras and the Avid editing system.

He had a fear of flying, but it was based on his own knowledge as a trained pilot and frequent monitoring of radio traffic control. It’s not true that he never went over 30mph in a car, as has been claimed. Rather, he loved cars – fast German ones in particular – but frequently crashed them.

Kubrick at work

We uncovered much about Kubrick’s working practices too. Kubrick was a master of the insurance claim. He never hesitated to file one following an accident or fire on set. Not only did this help him to recoup his budget but it also gave him precious time to regroup and think about his options.

We also discovered how Kubrick had to beg, borrow and virtually steal to get most of his projects greenlit. It wasn’t until he signed with Warner Brothers in the 1970s – from A Clockwork Orange onwards – that he had a permanent financial backer. But even then he wasn’t guaranteed funding if the project wasn’t right.

A black and white close up of Stanley Kubrick's face.
Kubrick was famously shy in public.

And those projects included the famously never made biopic of Napoleon as the time wasn’t right, or his never-to-be-made Holocaust film, Aryan Papers, which lacked a big star and came too close on the heels of Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List.

Read more:
2001: A Space Odyssey still leaves an indelible mark on our culture 55 years on

It is also tempting to wonder what would have happened had he made the film Burning Secret in 1956, with MGM studios, with whom he had signed a contract. Would he have become another studio stooge or been fired for being too much of a maverick? What would have been the implications for his career?

While we can only imagine how those projects would have turned out, what remains is an extraordinary body of work that includes thousands of photographs, three documentaries and 13 feature films. Stanley Kubrick may have shunned the limelight, but his films have had a profound influence on the movie and television industries, as well as a lasting impact on popular and political culture.

Source link

Continue Reading


How non-English language cinema is reshaping the Oscars landscape




How non-English language cinema is reshaping the Oscars landscape

Over the past few years, the Oscars have taken a decidedly international turn.

This year, of the 10 films nominated for an Academy Award for best picture, three of them – “Anatomy of a Fall,” “Past Lives” and “The Zone of Interest” – are non-English language films.

In the first two decades of the Academy Awards, only three foreign films – all European – earned Oscar nominations: the 1938 French film “La Grande Illusion,” which was nominated for best picture, or outstanding production, as it was then known; the 1944 Swiss film “Marie Louise,” which was the first foreign film to win an Academy Award, for best screenplay; and the 1932 French film “À nous la liberté,” nominated for best production design.

As a scholar of film history, I see the recent recognition of non-English language films as the result of demographic changes in the industry and within the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences itself.

Hollywood’s dominance wanes

During World War II, Hollywood experienced record financial success, with one-third of its revenue coming from foreign markets – mainly the United Kingdom and Latin America. The industry leveraged the appeal of American movies to employ them as cultural ambassadors to promote democratic ideals. Notably, a popular film like “Casablanca” not only entertained audiences but also served as potent anti-fascist propaganda.

After the war, co-productions and distribution agreements with foreign studios opened new markets, boosting Hollywood’s economic influence and reinforcing English language cinema’s global dominance.

However, by the late 1940s, Hollywood experienced some challenges: Studios lost an anti-trust case that challenged their monopoly over producing, distributing and exhibiting films, while television threatened to siphon away theatergoers. With studios undergoing major budget and production cuts, a 1949 Fortune magazine article posed the question “Movies: The End of an Era?

During that same period, art film movements in nations such as Sweden, France, Italy and Japan arose to contest Hollywood’s dominance, breathing new life into the cinematic arts.

These works contrasted sharply with Hollywood films, many of which had become formulaic by the 1950s and were constrained by an outdated censorship code.

A category of their own

Between 1947 and 1956, foreign films received honorary Oscars, with France and Italy dominating the accolades. In 1956, the category of “best foreign language film” was officially established as an annual recognition, marking a pivotal moment in Oscars history.

However, any film nominated in that category is also eligible to be nominated in the broader best picture category. The only stipulation is that it needs to have had a theatrical run in a Los Angeles County commercial movie theater for at least seven consecutive days.

Italian director Federico Fellini’s ‘La Strada’ won the first Academy Award for best foreign language film in 1957.
Louis Goldman/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Until this year, only 10 foreign films have garnered this dual nomination.

In 2020, the South Korean film “Parasite” became the first non-English language film to win both best international feature film – formerly known as best foreign language film – and best picture. Director Bong Joon-Ho also won the award for best director that year. Accompanied by an interpreter, he gave his acceptance speech in Korean.

During the 2019 Oscars, Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón – introduced in Spanish by actor Javier Bardem – accepted the Academy Award for what was then still called best foreign language film for his film “Roma.” During his speech, he joked that he had grown up “watching foreign language films and learning so much from them. … Films like ‘Citizen Kane,’ ‘Jaws,’ ‘Rashomon,’ ‘The Godfather’ and ‘Breathless.’”

Breathing new life into film

Cuarón’s comments wryly question why English is considered the default language of a global industry. They also highlight how the categories of “Hollywood film” and “foreign film” aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive.

As in the past, many of the filmmakers pushing the boundaries of the medium are from outside the U.S. This isn’t due to a lack of talent within the U.S.; instead, it’s largely due to a lack of institutional funding for independent productions.

On the other hand, in countries such as France, Germany, Canada, South Korea and Iran, there are state-sponsored programs to support filmmakers. These programs, which aim to promote national cultural expression, allow for more experimentation.

In recent decades, the cinematic landscape has been revitalized by movements from abroad, such as Denmark’s Dogma 95 collective, South Korea’s IMF noir genre and Greek Weird Wave films. Filmmakers associated with these movements often transition to making English language cinema.

Take Yorgos Lanthimos, director of the Best Picture nominee “Poor Things.” Lanthimos first gained recognition for his contributions to the Greek Weird Wave, a cinematic movement that uses absurdist humor to critique societal norms and power structures. It emerged during the country’s economic crisis in the 2010s.

Similarly, “Parasite” director Bong Joon-ho, known for his earlier Korean language films, is emblematic of the IMF noir movement, which explored the profound repercussions of the late 1990s financial crisis in South Korea that was caused by policies dictated by the International Monetary Fund.

Balding middle-aged man with beard and red jacket.
Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos.
Vivien Killilea/Getty Images

The nomination process

As Michael Schulman, author of “Oscar Wars,” argues, viewing the Academy Awards as a “pure barometer of artistic merit or worth” is a mistake.

Numerous factors, including the aggressiveness of Oscar campaign strategists and publicists working around the clock, as well as the composition of the awards committee, exert great influence over the outcome.

In the case of foreign films, the process is twofold. To secure an Oscar nomination as a country’s entry, a foreign film must first gain approval from a committee in its native country. It is then submitted to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and subjected to a vote by the academy. Only one entry is allowed per country.

The intricate dynamics of this process are illustrated by the case of the French film “Anatomy of a Fall,” which was nominated for a best picture Academy Award but not best international feature from France. This decision was influenced by France’s small national nominating committee, which, disconnected from the current climate of the U.S. academy, favored the nostalgic, culinary romance “The Taste of Things,” starring Juliette Binoche.

A more diverse academy

The role of the voting committee in determining which films even reach consideration cannot be overstated. Over the last few years, this is what has most radically changed in the academy. In 2012, its composition was 94% white, 77% male and had a median age of 62.

As highlighted by Schulman, the #Oscarssowhite controversy in 2015 spurred changes to the academy’s makeup, in the hopes of addressing the industry’s under-recognition of the achievements of people of color.

There was also a concerted effort to enhance geographical diversity and infuse the awards with a more global perspective. In 2016, the new invitees to the academy were more diverse: 46% were female, 41% were nonwhite, and they came from 59 different countries. This year, a groundbreaking 93 countries submitted nomination ballots, signifying unprecedented global participation in the Oscars.

Perhaps most significantly, beginning in 2024, the academy has required that, for a film to qualify for a Best Picture nomination, it must meet two out of four standards established by the academy.

The criteria include having at least one lead or significant supporting actor from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group, or centering the main storyline on an underrepresented group. They also require representation in creative leadership positions and crew roles, along with paid apprenticeships for underrepresented groups. Even senior marketing teams require representation. All of these requirements lend themselves to the inclusion of more international film nominees.

Streaming distribution has also democratized access to non-English language cinema, which was previously limited only to niche audiences in art house theaters in large cities.

The distribution company Neon, established in 2017, has been another crucial factor in reshaping the Oscars landscape. Led by Elissa Federoff, Neon is committed to breaking industry barriers, diversifying content, transcending language barriers and engaging with younger audiences through platforms like YouTube and TikTok. Neon distributed both “Parasite” and “Anatomy of a Fall.”

As the Oscars evolve into a more globally conscious platform, the future of film seems destined to be shaped by those who think beyond the limitations of what was once considered “foreign,” and remain advocates for the universal language of the cinema.

Source link

Continue Reading


Copyright © 2017 Zox News Theme. Theme by MVP Themes, powered by WordPress.