OSCAR BRIEF: Many Predicting Oscar Will Go Slumming

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Over the weekend Slumdog Millionaire won big at the British Independent Film Awards as Danny Boyle took home director kudos, Dev Patel won for most promising newcomer and the film itself won best independent film. Of course, many are reporting the news as if this is just the start of something big as buzz around the little film has gotten louder and louder over the course of the previous week. I reviewed it and gave it a well-earned “A-“, but when it comes down to awards I can’t see this flick moving all the way to the big show.

Take, for example, the last five BIFA “Best British Independent Film” award winners were Control, This Is England, The Constant Gardener, Vera Drake and Dirty Pretty Things. Of that bunch there are eight Oscar nominations including a win for Rachel Weisz for The Constant Gardener, but there isn’t a best picture nom among them and the last two weren’t even nominated. So to say this is a sign of anything major is a lot of speculation, and misguided speculation at that.

However, things could begin changing as early as this Thursday, December 4 as the critic circles begin to weigh in with their year-end top ten lists beginning with the National Board of Review on Dec. 4, followed by the LA Film Critics on Dec. 9 and the New York Film Critics Circle on Dec. 10. Should Slumdog gain traction once those accolades are announced I may have to change my tune. However, after seeing The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and absolutely loving it I don’t see how it can be ignored.

if you are interested in keeping track of the Critic Top Tens I have added a new section to “The Contenders“, which will give you a one-stop-shop for as many top tens and critical awards as I can handle. I have already added the new section to the page, which you can check out right here. Apparently they have seen all the films (not really… Valkyrie anyone?), but I still have some work to do.

There are still several flicks to see as I will be seeing Revolutionary Road and Doubt later this week and Seven Pounds, The Reader and Valkyrie next week. This will leave Che, Gran Torino, Last Chance Harvey and Nothing but the Truth on my must see list. I also plan on seeing Benjamin Button again before writing my review seeing how I was without a notepad and don’t think I could do the film justice without a second viewing, it is an A+ across the board though and a serious contender for my favorite film of the year. Combine that with the mixed reactions of a couple of the people I was sitting next to and I don’t know where we stand, but one continued the common theme many have had saying it is “missing something”. I thought it was missing nothing, but that’s just me.

Over at the Los Angeles Times’ Gold Derby they are predicting a horserace between Button and Slumdog for the top prize. However, just like Juno in 2008 and Little Miss Sunshine in 2007, I see it coming up short and rightly so… in terms of filmmaking it just doesn’t stand up. At least not in my eyes.

For those looking for true justice, Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges won’t be going home completely empty handed at year’s end as the BIFAs felt it deserved the best screenplay award for writer/director McDonagh in his feature debut. This is on top of the script winning the top prize at the second annual Annual Writers Guild Awards. While I don’t expect it to carry over into Oscar chatter it is nice to see a good film get some kudos.

Here’s the complete list of BIFA winners for your approval, and so you know, these awards are limited to celebrating independently funded British movies. You can find the official site for the awards here.

Best British Independent Film: Slumdog Millionaire

Best Director of a British Independent Film: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire

The Douglas Hickox Award (Best debut director): Steve McQueen, Hunger

Best Screenplay: Martin McDonagh, In Bruges

Best Performance by an Actress in a British Independent Film: Vera Farmiga, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Best Performance by an Actor in a British Independent Film: Michael Fassbender, Hunger

Best Supporting Actress: Alexis Zegerman, Happy-Go-Lucky

Best Supporting Actor: Eddie Marsan, Happy-Go-Lucky

Most Promising Newcomer: Dev Patel, Slumdog Millionaire

Best Achievement In Production: The Escapist

The Raindance Award: Zebra Crossings

Best Technical Achievement: Sean Bobbitt, cinematography for Hunger

Best British Documentary: Man on Wire

Best British Short Film: Soft

Best Foreign Independent Film: Waltz With Bashir

The Richard Harris Award: David Thewlis

The Variety Award: Michael Sheen

The Special Jury Prize: Joe Dunton

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Weekend: Nov. 15, 2018, Nov. 18, 2018

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