Things I wrote in 2016

I’ve seen various writers post things they’re proud of this year, so I decided to do the same. This year I started to pitch pieces to other websites, which was scary, but I’m glad I did it. My experience working with editors has been positive, and I’m looking forward to doing more of it next year. This list of pieces is things I’ve written for the blog and other websites, roughly in chronological order.

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Claire Hooper and Mel Buttle in The Great Australian Bake Off

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‘Mad Max’ Costume Designer Jenny Beavan on Her Oscar Win: “I Don’t Mind in the Least If They Didn’t Clap” – Hollywood Reporter

Part 4 in a Series about Mad Max: Fury Road at the Academy Awards. Read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

Source: ‘Mad Max’ Costume Designer Jenny Beavan on Her Oscar Win: “I Don’t Mind in the Least If They Didn’t Clap” – Hollywood Reporter

Jenny Beavan is better than all of us. This article in The Hollywood Reporter states that Inarritu did clap, but his reaction was delayed. This whole issue has been blown out of proportion (including by me), and I’ve learned a lot from it. About 10 days ago I wrote that I was going to be stepping back from the blog for a month or two. Personally it’s been a huge relief, but I don’t know if I would have written about this issue so passionately if I felt I had to. I didn’t write a review of Fury Road when I first saw it, but it turns out it had a greater impact on me than I’d realised. I got to look at the issue from a number of different perspectives and made up a bizarre conspiracy theory about Tom Hardy’s disdain for Beavan based on that metal thing he had to wear. Now we come to what Jenny Beavan has to say on the whole thing, which is presented in full in the THR article. The person whose opinion matters most is hers – if she’s not offended, I won’t be either (although I still have absolutely zero desire to see The Revenant).

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Why a film doesn’t have to be ‘high art’ to be great.

Part 3 in a series about Mad Max: Fury Road at the Academy Awards. Part 1Part 2 and Part 4.

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The women of Mad Max: Fury Road. Image courtesy of Warner Bros.

The most charitable reading of the “Inarritu refusing to clap for Jenny Beavan” incident is that maybe he’s a snob and thinks his film was better. I’ve now decided that I won’t see The Revenant after this incident, but I was never desperate to see it because I didn’t like last year’s Best Picture winner, Birdman. It was the film I was most excited to see, and the one I was most disappointed by. By comparison, my expectations for American Sniper were so low that I quite enjoyed it. The impression I got from Birdman is that Inarritu likes to make ‘high art’ – art that’s important. I could tell because Michael Keaton kept shouting about how important he was. It was beautifully shot though, I don’t begrudge Inarritu for his directing awards, I just don’t think his films (although I’ve only seen Birdman, so it’s actually film) have much substance. Maybe he dismissed Mad Max: Fury Road as being ‘just’ an action blockbuster. Just because it’s an action blockbuster, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t one of the best films of 2015.

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The Tom Hardy/Jenny Beavan conspiracy theory.

Part 2 in a Series about Mad Max: Fury Road at the Academy Awards. Read Part 1, Part 3 and Part 4.

As I wrote in my previous post, I had a lot of feelings about people who worked on The Revenant refusing to clap for Jenny Beavan as she accepted her award, either out of jealousy or disdain that she wasn’t dressed properly, which is ridiculous because she was wearing clothes. The Guardian has a great list of conspiracy theories as to why these men didn’t clap for Beavan, and now I’m going to add my own. As I was typing everything that came into my head, I came to this realisation which I’m going to leave for you in full.

Here’s the weirdest part of the whole thing: Tom Hardy’s refusal to clap, because he worked on both films. He was Mad Max! Maybe this metal mask thing was really uncomfortable (probably), but this makes the whole thing even more bizarre. I kind of forget about Hardy because the main character in Fury Road is Imperator Furiosa.

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Tom Hardy as Mad Max. The mask is really uncomfortable. Image courtesy of Warner Bros.

So: a man who was in the two most nominated films at this year’s Oscars refused to clap for the costume designer who dressed him in that really uncomfortable metal harness thing. The costume designer for The Revenant was also nominated, but I have to say, as uncomfortable as you look in that photo Tom Hardy, that still is great. Your films received 22 collective nominations and 9 collective wins. Just clap for the lady, I don’t care how uncomfortable that mask was! The other piece of completely unfounded gossip that makes this entire thing even more fascinating is that Tom Hardy punched director Alejandro G. Inarritu on the set after a long day of shooting (There is also speculation that the director in question is David O. Russell). Did he actually punch George Miller?* If so, the disgust on his face as Beavan (who is George Miller’s wife in addition to being an Oscar winning costume designer) walked up to the stage would make a little more sense. Then again, maybe that mask just really hurt.

Notes: This is by far the silliest of the posts in this series, but it was.

*He didn’t punch George Miller. That story’s from about a year ago, and filming wrapped on Fury Road at the end of 2012.

The Vine that makes me never want to see The Revenant

Part 1 in a Series about Mad Max: Fury Road. Read Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

A Vine has been making the rounds over the past few days, as people involved in making The Revenant refuse to clap Jenny Beavan as she receives her first Oscar for her brilliant costumes on Mad Max: Fury Road. Here’s a still of the moment in question:

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Oscar winning costume designer Beavan walking up to collect her award as people look on disapprovingly.

I’m going to be tackling this issue from two different angles: why it doesn’t matter if a costume designer wears a leather jacket to an awards ceremony, and also why Fury Road deserved those awards. This article was inspired by this hilarious list of uncomfirmed conspiracy theories as to why they didn’t clap at The Guardian.

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What I’ve been watching, January 2016 and Sarah Blasko covers Life on Mars

So it turns out that if I don’t write every day, I let things slip. This week has been a bit busy – I’ve gone back to work is the main thing, and I’ve had other things I’ve been working on. I definitely need to figure out some sort of schedule for the blog, but that’s not going to happen in the next week or so. I have been watching things. I’m behind on my reading already, so I might just have to read the YA books on the pile to ease myself into it. I’ve been watching a few things this week, for which there will be reviews.

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Oscar predictions, but not in every category

The Academy Awards are on Monday afternoon here in Australia, and while I won’t be able to watch them live, I’m still going to try and make predictions. I’m also a little more informed than I was for the Golden Globes, but still not completely informed, so let’s see how this goes.

Best Picture

  • American Sniper
  • Birdman
  • Boyhood
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • The Imitation Game
  • Selma (the one I want to win because it was snubbed)
  • The Theory of Everything
  • Whiplash

The only one of the films I haven’t seen in this category is The Theory of Everything, which I’m hoping to see at some point tomorrow. Of the seven I have seen, my top three are Whiplash, Selma and The Grand Budapest Hotel. Then there’s Boyhood, followed by The Imitation Game and American Sniper the next level down, with Birdman as my least favourite (I had an argument with someone about Birdman this week on the internet, so everything is normal). I think the race is between Boyhood, Birdman and American Sniper. I’m going to go for Boyhood out of these three because I want it to win the most, and also Birdman was beaten out by The Grand Budapest Hotel at the Golden Globes. Then again, Birdman won the top award at the SAG, DGA and PGA awards, so I have no idea. American Sniper is in at third because it’s been a commercial success, and there’s every likelihood that the other two films could split the vote, even though AMPAS uses preferential voting.

Best Director

  • Alejandro González Iñárittu, Birdman
  • Richard Linklater, Boyhood
  • Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
  • Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game

There’s discussion of Birdman and Boyhood splitting the Best Picture and Best Director Awards, but I’m going to go out on a limb and go for Anderson, even though Linklater will probably (and deservedly) win this one. I haven’t seen Foxcatcher, and I didn’t think there was anything remarkable about The Imitation Game. You know who would have been a better nominee than Morten Tyldum? Ava DuVernay.

Actress in a Lead Role

  • Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night
  • Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
  • Julianne Moore, Still Alice
  • Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
  • Reese Witherspoon, Wild

The only performance I’ve seen in this category is Rosamund Pike, and she was fantastic in Gone Girl, especially given that the only other role I’ve seen her play is Jane Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. The momentum seems to be with Julianne Moore, so I’m going to make a safe choice there.

Actor in a Lead Role

  • Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
  • Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
  • Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
  • Michael Keaton, Birdman
  • Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

Eddie Redmayne seems to be winning every award for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking, so that’s my prediction. Of the performances I have seen, they’re all great, and I’m surprising myself by going for Bradley Cooper (although I’ve been watching some more Alias, and Will is much more interesting now, so that might have something to do with it), who I didn’t know had that performance in him.

Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Robert Duvall, The Judge
  • Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
  • Edward Norton, Birdman
  • Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
  • J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

I’ve seen two of these performances, and Ethan Hawke was fine in Boyhood, but he had nothing on J.K. Simmons, who has deservedly won all of the lead up awards, so I’ll be thrilled and unsurprised if he wins this one as well.

Actress in a Supporting Role

  • Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
  • Laura Dern, Wild
  • Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
  • Emma Stone, Birdman
  • Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

Meryl Streep was great in Into the Woods, but she has enough Oscars, and I think Patricia Arquette is the best of the nominees here. She’s also won the awards in the lead-up to the Oscars, so I think she’s a lock. She grounds Boyhood, and that film wouldn’t have worked with a lesser performance. The scene where she’s crying at her kitchen table at the end of the film is gutting, because she’s been through so much. I’d also be perfectly happy if Laura Dern won for Wild, which I am yet to see, but I really love Laura Dern.

Adapted Screenplay

  • American Sniper, written by Jason Hall
  • The Imitation Game, written by Graham Moore
  • Inherent Vice, written for the screen by Paul Thomas Anderson
  • The Theory of Everything, screenplay by Anthony McCarten
  • Whiplash, written by Damien Chazelle

I think this one should go to Whiplash, which I have no reason for other than personal biases – I’m not very good at predicting awards for writing.

Original Screenplay

  • Birdman, written by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo
  • Boyhood, written by Richard Linklater
  • Foxcatcher, written by E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel, screenplay by Wes Anderson; Story by Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness
  • Nightcrawler, written by Dan Gilroy

This should go to either Richard Linklater or Wes Anderson. Linklater’s a more interesting case because I have no idea how he wrote the screenplay for Boyhood – did he write it all at once or did he make changes as he went along and saw how the actors were developing? Anderson’s script however is beautifully structured and has stories within stories, so it’s my pick.

Foreign Language Film

  • Ida (Poland)
  • Leviathan (Russia
  • Tangerines (Estonia)
  • Timbuktu (Mauritania)
  • Wild Tales (Argentina)

I’m going for Ida here, because it’s also been nominated for the cinematography award – the films in this category that get nominated for other awards seem to win this one.

Animated Feature Film

  • Big Hero 6
  • The Boxtrolls
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2
  • Song of the Sea
  • The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

I’ve seen Big Hero 6 and HTTYD2, so this is complete guesswork, so I’m going to go for The Tale of the Princess Kaguyabecause why not?

Cinematography

  • Emmanuel, Birdman
  • Robert Yeoman, The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski, Ida
  • Dick Pope, Mr. Turner
  • Roger Deakins, Unbroken

This is the one award that Birdman deserves to win, so I’m going for that.

Editing

  • Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach, American Sniper
  • Sandra Adair, Boyhood
  • Barney Pilling, The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • William Goldenberg, The Imitation Game
  • Tom Cross, Whiplash

These are all really good nominees. Adair did some amazing work on Boyhood, which was a feat of editing over a long period of time. I feel like the film coult have been a bit shorter though. After Adair, I’d predict Barney Pilling, because The Grand Budapest Hotel is a film that works because of its timing, which wouldn’t have worked without great editing. I’d also love to see Tom Cross win for Whiplash, just for the scene where the drummers are all taking turns to get a spot in the band for some competition. That’s some of the best editing I’ve seen all year.

Best Original Song

  • “Everything Is Awesome,” The Lego Movie, Music and Lyric by Shawn Patterson
  • “Glory,” Selma, Music and Lyric by John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn
  • “Grateful,” Beyond the Lights, Music and Lyric by Diane Warren
  • “I’m Not Going to Miss You,” Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me, Music and Lyric by Glen Campbell and Julian Raymond
  • “Lost Stars,” Begin Again, Music and Lyric by Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois

I have only heard “Everything Is Awesome” and “Glory”, the second of which is one of the best songs I’ve heard in the last few months, so I’m going for that one.

Now let’s see how right I am on Monday night.