Oscars Postponed to April 2021


By: Amanda Guarragi 

Since the beginning of this pandemic, the Entertainment Industry has been in constant motion and have been changing dates, for majority of the films slated for 2020. Earlier today, the Television Academy announced, that the ‘Creative Arts Emmys’ will go virtual, the annual Governor’s Balls that follow those shows and the Primetime Emmys will be canceled for the first time in history. Since the Emmys and the Oscars telecasts are both on ABC, negotiations had to be made for the Academy Awards as well.

The Academy tweeted out an information card with the changed date for the Oscars telecast, as well as a change in the eligibility dates for films that could meet the standard guidelines.

Screen Shot 2020-06-15 at 5.01.00 PM

courtesy of @TheAcademy on Twitter

 

First on the list of ‘Key 93rd Oscars Dates’ is the Awards Eligibility. So from January 1st, 2020 – February 28th, 2021 films released during that period, will have a fair opportunity to possibly get a nomination. Seems fair right? Well, extending the eligibility date, means that the films that came out earlier this year such as, The Invisible Man, Emma, The Way Back, The High Note, Capone and Da 5 Bloods will have a more difficult time campaigning because of their release date. The cut off is around November 20th, so films that are released past that date, would normally, never make the cut. So The Academy, is tacking on 3 extra months of content in that time frame.

Second on the list is the Shortlist Announcement on February 9th, 2021. This means that there will be a very long list of possible nominees, that will be condensed in to each category, eventually becoming official nominees. This also means that the campaigning will be very different for the rest of the year. Films that came out earlier this year, should not be forgotten and the hype for each of those films, needs to be mentioned, time and time again, closer to that date. The films that I listed above, by the time next year comes, will definitely be considered a long shot because now all the postponed films have been crammed into those months.

Third on the list is the Nominations Announcement on March 15th, 2021. Every year, the Oscar Nominations day is filled with plenty of snubs and actors nominated in the wrong category. It is always a messy day because films that should have been recognized, usually don’t make the cut and they are almost always, independent films (Honey Boy and Uncut Gems)  that fly under the radar. This day is going to be much different than previous years because of the extension and the bias towards films that were released on streaming platforms or VOD.

Fourth on the list is the Oscar Sunday telecast, now being held on April 25th, 2021. This is a massive jump from the regular February/March timeslot. It is so deep in the year, that it may cause issues for other award ceremonies that come before it. What does this mean for the Critics Choice Awards, Golden Globe Awards and the SAG Awards? How do they fit into the calendar that well all know so well? The BAFTAs have already changed their date to April 11th, 2021 but the rest of the pre-Oscars telecasts have not released a statement.

Lastly, the long awaited Academy Museum will officially open on April 30th, 2021. When it opens, the Museum will be the premier institution dedicated to the arts and science of movies. The Academy Museum will offer exhibitions and programs highlighting the world of cinema. They will also present year round calendar of screenings, film series, members programs, panel discussions and family programs. Programs will include retrospectives and thematic series that present the artistic and cultural contributions from filmmakers all over the world.

Many of us have already made a shortlist of the best films that could possibly be nominated, for Oscars in 2021. There are definitely more films to add but in this article How The 2021 Oscars Will Look, If It Doesn’t Get Postponed, I go into detail and breakdown the possible nominations list for the films that are eligible. There are plenty more films to watch, so it is time to start writing down the list of possible Oscar contenders because it is going to be a very long season.

The High Note Review


By: Amanda Guarragi 

The High Note is a perfectly composed film that effortlessly shows the production journey in the music industry. It had an authentic feel and a nostalgic atmosphere because of Grace Davis (Tracee Ellis Ross) and her very long, successful music career. The film is about women in different places in the industry, one a superstar and the other an assistant/wannabe producer Maggie Sherwoode (Dakota Johnson). Their relationship appears strong but it is definitely tested throughout the film. It is written by Flora Greeson and directed by Nisha Ganatra (Late Night) who delivered one of the best films of the year.

It is one of the most interesting films that shows the musical journey in Hollywood. Grace Davis is a middle aged woman in the industry, who has locked a Vegas residency. Everyone loves the icon and her assistant Maggie wants to push for a new album, instead of extending the contract for another year. Maggie goes above and beyond her paygrade and ends up getting into arguments with Davis’ manager, Jack Robertson (Ice Cube) who keeps putting her in her place. Flora Greeson accurately tells the story of reinventing a brand and an artists story, through multiple perspectives from the people around her.

This cast is truly something special, they all had wonderful chemistry together, which made for a great ensemble piece for everyone involved. Tracee Ellis Ross was stunning. I don’t know any other way to put it but she just gave off this elegance and prowess in her performance as Grace Davis. Dakota Johnson was lovely in this role and really carried the story with her characters dream to be a producer one day. Ice Cube was cast perfectly as Davis’ manager and definitely had the quippy attitude down pat. While watching this film, the one that truly surprised me was Kelvin Harrison Jr. who played David Cliff in the film. The man is very talented but hearing him sing, just elevated my adoration for him and he should be the name on everyone’s lips after this film.

Everything about this film flowed beautifully from scene to scene. The sound design and soundtrack that accompanied each scene worked so well together, as if everything was placed to shed light on the power of music. It was so heartwarming and you could feel the passion for music from everyone who worked on this film. There was so much care and love into creating this story and you could feel it from the entire team. The direction was great and there were many humorous moments that released some of the tension.

It was important to shed light on the treatment of women in the music industry, especially Black middle aged women in the music industry. Tracee Ellis Ross presented such raw emotion when discussing the sexism, ageism and racial issues that plague the industry. It was also important to highlight the difficulty a female producer would face and the connection shared between Davis and Maggie was important to this story. They shared such a beautiful friendship and I think it’s one of the most rewarding aspects of this film.

The High Note is refreshing and one of the best films of the year. This was a film that needed to be made because it highlights the lives of women in the music industry, in a way that no other film has. This film is also filled with plenty of surprises, especially the twist at the end, which made for a pretty emotional final performance. It is a film that captures women in such a unique light and shows that they are strong enough to create a pathway, for everyone to follow suit. It is all about taking risks and putting in the hardwork, in order to achieve your goals in life.

 

 

Hot Docs 2020 Selection: Love & Stuff Interview with Judith Helfand


By: Amanda Guarragi 

Love & Stuff  is a deeply personal documentary on motherhood and the cycle of life. Peabody Award winning filmmaker Judith Helfand, documented her terminally ill mother’s final moments, at home-hospice before she passed. In this feature, Helfand continues the story that she began two decades ago, with Healthy Baby Girl (Sundance, Peabody 1997) through these films, Helfand adds emotional layers, by openly discussing her own traumas, addressing grief by using dark humour and reflecting on the power of family.

Judith and her mother, just wanted more time to spend with each other. Time is something so valuable and we often take it for granted. “There’s so many things that she probably wanted to tell me, that she couldn’t find the language for, it’s really hard to say, here is my life long lesson, here’s what I want you to know before I die, here’s what I think you need to know.” said Helfand about having discussions with her late mother. Watching a loved one pass away is extremely difficult and emotional. How do we even calculate time? We tend to get whisked away into our busy lives and forget what it is like to spend time with our loved ones. Then for some reason, we ask for more time when we know it’s too late.

It is something that I’ve often questioned about elders, all they want to do is pass down their knowledge and experiences before they leave us. Why do they feel the need to do this at the end of their life? Do we only start listening when they are about to pass because we did not think of paying attention to the stories before?

“They want to give you advice, the stuff that you never wanted to listen to, they were probably right about. They want to keep this connection possible and if they never had a chance to do that, whether they were working too hard or your relationship was on the rocks or something like that, I think that they want the time and the space to be able to try and fix that before they die.” – Judith Helfand 

That is the most wonderful thing about Love & Stuff it takes these conversations about death and turns them into life lessons, so others can understand how to approach the end of their loved ones life. It is a cathartic piece, not only for Helfand but for everyone that worked on the film. It presented a safe space for everyone who had lost someone. “I mean it just started out as a way, for me to not be alone with what I knew. What could be a very private universal moment and by private I mean, I’m not letting others into our life, and into this moment, and into our space, into our home and into our hospice, but I did the opposite.” Helfand wanted everyone to be present for her mother’s passing, in order to give them time to say goodbye.

Helfand’s mother, like every mother, wanted what was best for her daughter and it was revealed that Judith could not bear any children of her own. So the connectivity to motherhood, was the strongest part of this feature because at a time where Judith needed her mother, to guide her through the adoption process and in raising her daughter, she had passed away. “The thing that my mother wanted the most at the end of her life, was the thing my daughter wanted at the beginning of hers and that’s time. My mother just wanted time and my kid just wants to play, she just wants time.” Helfand believes that her daughters birth, was a gift from her mother after she passed and that full circle connectivity is the heart of Love & Stuff. 

This film helps viewers re-evaluate their own connection with their parents or loved ones. Helfand had 2 and a half years to prepare for her mother’s death and it was important to her, to find away to utilize that time. “I wanted to figure out how to keep her in my life and keep our conversation dynamic, even if it wasn’t current and present. It could be ongoing and I wanted to figure out how to be a mother, without having a mother and I felt like all that material was locked inside an archive, and I needed to get to it, as soon as I could.” This feature is incredibly emotional because of the raw, human connection the viewer has with Helfand, as she goes on this journey with her mother.

Helfand made a follow up video to Love & Stuff, called Absolutely No Spitting and it shows the journey of her, now 4 year – old daughter Theo taking a DNA test to discover her ancestry. What starts out as a factual journey, turns into a path of self discovery and acceptance for young Theo. The love shared between Helfand and Theo is very quirky and heartfelt. Helfand shared her own ancestry with Theo and she will continue to explore value in the people around her. She identifies her daughter’s Blackness and incorporates that into her Jewish ancestry.

 

 

A Guide to Queer Films: What to Watch For Pride 2020


By: Amanda Guarragi 

Happy Pride Month!!

The month of June was chosen for LGBTQAI+ Pride Month to commemorate the Stonewall riots, which occurred at the end of June 1969. Here is a brief history of the night that started it all:

New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club located in Greenwich Village in New York City. The raid sparked a riot among bar patrons and neighborhood residents as police roughly hauled employees and patrons out of the bar, leading to six days of protests and violent clashes with law enforcement outside the bar on Christopher Street, in neighboring streets and in nearby Christopher Park.

So to honour Pride month and the LGBTQAI+ community, I have compiled a list of 30 films (one for each day of pride month), for people to educate themselves and watch films created by queer filmmakers for queer cinema.


  1. All About My Mother (1999)
    dir. Pedro Almodóvar
    Synopsis: Young Esteban wants to become a writer and also to discover the identity of his second mother, a trans woman, carefully concealed by his mother Manuela.1(left) Rosa Maria Sardá, Cecilia Roth and Penélope Cruz


  2. Beginners (2010)
    dir. Mike Mills
    Synopsis: A young man is rocked by two announcements from his elderly father: that he has terminal cancer and that he has a young male lover.2 (left) Christopher Plummer and Ewan McGregor


  3. Blue is the Warmest Colour (2013)
    dir. Abdellatif Kechiche
    Synopsis: Adèle’s life is changed when she meets Emma, a young woman with blue hair, who will allow her to discover desire and to assert herself as a woman and as an adult.3(left) Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux


  4. Brokeback Mountain (2005)
    dir. Ang Lee
    Synopsis: The story of a forbidden and secretive relationship between two cowboys, and their lives over the years.4.(left) Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal


  5. Call Me By Your Name (2017)
    dir. Luca Guadagnino
    Synopsis: In 1980s Italy, romance blossoms between a seventeen-year-old student and the older man hired as his father’s research assistant.5. (left) Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer


  6. Carol (2015)
    dir. Todd Haynes
    Synopsis: An aspiring photographer develops an intimate relationship with an older woman in 1950s New York.6. ( left) Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett


  7. Disobedience (2017) 
    dir. Sebastián Lelio
    Synopsis:
    A woman returns to her Orthodox Jewish community that shunned her for her attraction to a female childhood friend. Once back, their passions reignite as they explore the boundaries of faith and sexuality.7. (left) Rachel McAdams and Rachel Weisz


  8. Duke of Burgundy (2014)
    dir.
    Peter Strickland
    Synopsis: 
    A woman who studies butterflies and moths tests the limits of her relationship with her lesbian lover.8.Sidse Babett Knudsen and Chiara D’Anna


  9. Giant Little Ones (2018)
    dir. Keith Behrman
    Synopsis: Two popular teen boys, best friends since childhood, discover their lives, families, and girlfriends dramatically upended after an unexpected incident occurs on the night of a 17th birthday party.9.


  10. God’s Own Country (2017) 
    dir. Francis Lee
    Synopsis: Spring. Yorkshire. Young farmer Johnny Saxby numbs his daily frustrations with binge drinking and casual sex, until the arrival of a Romanian migrant worker for lambing season ignites an intense relationship that sets Johnny on a new path.10.(left) Alec Secareanu and Josh O’Connor


  11. I Can’t Think Straight (2008) 
    dir. Shamim Sarif
    Synopsis: A young woman engaged to be married finds her life changed forever when she meets her best friend’s girlfriend.11.(left) Lisa Ray and Sheetal Sheth


  12. Looking For Langston (1989)
    dir.  Isaac Julien
    Synopsis: A black and white, fantasy-like recreation of high-society gay men during the Harlem Renaissance, with archival footage and photographs intercut with a story.12


  13. Love, Simon (2018)
    dir. Greg Berlanti
    Synopsis: Simon Spier keeps a huge secret from his family, his friends and all of his classmates: he’s gay. When that secret is threatened, Simon must face everyone and come to terms with his identity.13. (left) Nick Robinson and Keiynan Lonsdale


  14. Milk (2008)
    dir. 
    Gus Van Sant
    Synopsis: The story of Harvey Milk and his struggles as an American gay activist who fought for gay rights and became California’s first openly gay elected official.14.(left) James Franco and Sean Penn


  15. Moonlight (2016) 
    dir. Barry Jenkins
    Synopsis: A young African-American man grapples with his identity and sexuality while experiencing the everyday struggles of childhood, adolescence, and burgeoning adulthood.15 (left) Alex R. Hibbert and Jaden Piner


  16. Mysterious Skin (2004)
    dir.  Gregg Araki
    Synopsis: A teenage hustler and a young man obsessed with alien abductions cross paths, together discovering a horrible, liberating truth.17. (left) Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Brady Corbet


  17. Paris is Burning (1990)
    dir. Jennie Livingston
    Synopsis: A chronicle of New York’s drag scene in the 1980s, focusing on balls, voguing and the ambitions and dreams of those who gave the era its warmth and vitality.17.Octavia St. Laurent


  18. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)
    dir. Céline Sciamma
    Synopsis: On an isolated island in Brittany at the end of the eighteenth century, a female painter is obliged to paint a wedding portrait of a young woman.18(left) Adèle Haenel and Noémie Merlant


  19. Pride (2014)
    dir. Matthew Warchus
    Synopsis: U.K. gay activists work to help miners during their lengthy strike of the National Union of Mineworkers in the summer of 1984.19.George MacKay


  20. Princess Cyd (2017)
    dir. Stephen Cone
    Synopsis: Eager to escape life with her depressive single father, 16-year-old athlete Cyd Loughlin visits her novelist aunt in Chicago over the summer.20 (left) Rebecca Spence and Jessie Pinnick


  21. Rocketman (2019)
    dir. Dexter Fletcher
    Synopsis: A musical fantasy about the fantastical human story of Elton John‘s breakthrough years.
    21Taron Egerton


  22. Saving Face (2004)
    dir. Alice Wu
    Synopsis: A Chinese-American lesbian and her traditionalist mother are reluctant to go public with secret loves that clash against cultural expectations.22Courtesy of Mongrel Media: (left) Michelle Krusiec and Lynn Chen 


  23. The Celluloid Closet (1995)
    dir. Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman
    Synopsis: A documentary surveying the various Hollywood screen depictions of homosexuals and the attitudes behind them throughout the history of North American film.MSDCECL EC016(left) Quentin Crisp, Rob Epstein, and Jeffrey Friedman 


  24. Rafiki (2018)
    dir. Wanuri Kahiu
    Synopsis: “Good Kenyan girls become good Kenyan wives,” but Kena and Ziki long for something more. When love blossoms between them, the two girls will be forced to choose between happiness and safety.24(left) Samantha Mugatsia and Sheila Munyiva


  25. The Handmaiden (2016)
    dir. Chan-wook Park
    Synopsis: A woman is hired as a handmaiden to a Japanese heiress, but secretly she is involved in a plot to defraud her.25Tae-ri Kim


  26. The Kids Are All Right (2010)
    dir. Lisa Cholodenko
    Synopsis: Two children conceived by artificial insemination bring their biological father into their non-traditional family life.26(left) Annette Bening and Julianne Moore


  27. The Normal Heart (2014)
    dir. Ryan Murphy
    Synopsis:  A gay activist attempts to raise H.I.V. and A.I.D.S. awareness during the early 1980s.27(left) Joe Mantello and Mark Ruffalo 


  28. The Watermelon Woman (1996)
    dir. Cheryl Dunye
    Synopsis: A young black lesbian filmmaker probes into the life of The Watermelon Woman, a 1930s black actress who played ‘mammy’ archetypes.28Cheryl Dunye


  29. The Way He Looks (2014)
    dir. Daniel Ribeiro
    Synopsis: Leonardo is a blind teenager searching for independence. His everyday life, the relationship with his best friend, Giovana, and the way he sees the world change completely with the arrival of Gabriel.29 (left) Fabio Audi and Ghilherme Lobo


  30. Weekend (2011)
    dir. Andrew Haigh
    Synopsis: After a drunken house party with his straight mates, Russell heads out to a gay club. Just before closing time he picks up Glen but what’s expected to be just a one-night stand becomes something else, something special.30(left) Chris New and Tom Cullen 


These are the films that I wanted to highlight. Some are my favourite films, some are underrated and some definitely need to be seen for educational purposes. I hope that many of you will watch some of the films listed above. Sending love to everyone and please have a happy and safe Pride month.

So please continue to fight for the Black community and the LGBTQAI+ community, now and forever.

How The 2021 Oscars Will Look, If It Doesn’t Get Postponed


By: Amanda Guarragi 

Every year there are films lined up for Oscar season and some films that are sprinkled across the year, hoping to be standouts in order to be in the running. In 2020, the world has faced a global pandemic which has changed the way we live. It has also changed the way most industries operate. The Entertainment Industry has definitely felt this shift, due to the fact that movie theatres are now closed and it is unclear as to when they will reopen. Everything is up in the air and only a handful of films will be released this year, so the big question is… how are the Oscars going to work?

In a recent Variety article, Marc Malkin says that the Oscars may be postponed. The sources, who chose to remain anonymous, stated that “Definitive plans are far from being concrete at this juncture. The telecast is currently set for Feb. 28, 2021, on ABC.” The sources, who have been close to the subject, said that it will most likely be postponed. There could be potential new dates but they haven’t been fully discussed yet or properly mapped out. There were new (temporary) rule changes for Oscar eligibility released in April because of COVID -19.

“The board of governors approved a temporary hold on the requirement that a film needs a seven-day theatrical run in a commercial theater in Los Angeles County to qualify for the Oscars.” says Marc Malkin from Variety. As long as the film had a planned theatrical release, it is still eligible for an Oscar nomination. It doesn’t mean that any film premiering on a streaming service is eligible. With this shift in the moviegoing experience, it seems fitting to change the guidelines temporarily, so films that had a planned theatrical release and are currently going straight to VOD, can have the same chance in getting nominated.

If the Academy already changed the guidelines, because they sympathized with the filmmakers, who worked so hard in getting their film out there and making the conscious choice to STILL release it on VOD, why are they planning on postponing it? What was the point in changing the guidelines, if you’re about to change the game entirely? How does postponing the Oscars benefit any of the films/filmmakers?

These are the questions that I’m curious to know the answers to. There are films that have been (and will be) released this year that are eligible and “worthy” enough of an Oscar run, so why not give them an even chance? If they choose to postpone the Oscars, won’t there be double the films to choose from, in order to hand out that golden statue? Are the categories going to include 10 nominees, instead of 5, because there are more films to cover? It doesn’t seem like the best move.

These are the films that could possibly be nominated for Oscars for the 2021 season:

  • Emma 
    Best Actress: Anya Taylor Joy
    Best Cinematography: Christopher Blauvelt
    Best Director: Autumn de Wilde
    Best Adapted Screenplay: Eleanor Catton
    Best Original Score: Isobel Waller-Bridge & David Schweitzer


  • The Way Back 
    Best Actor: Ben Affleck
    Best Director: Gavin O’Connor
    Best Original Screenplay: Brad Ingelsby


  • The Invisible Man 
    Best Picture: Jason Blum & Kylie du Fresne
    Best Actress: Elisabeth Moss
    Best Director: Leigh Whannell
    Best Original Screenplay: Leigh Whannell
    Best Original Score: Benjamin Wallfisch
    Best Editing: Andy Canny


    Best Visual Effects:
    The Invisible Man 
    Wonder Woman 1984
    Tenet
    Dune
    Sonic the Hedgehog


  • Never Rarely Sometimes Always 
    Best Actress: Sidney Flanigan
    Best Original Screenplay: Eliza Hittman
    Best Cinematography: Hélène Louvart
    Best Director: Eliza Hittman


    Best Animated Feature: 
    Sonic The Hedgehog
    Onward
    Scoob!
    Trolls World Tour
    Soul



  • Tenet 
    Best Picture: Christopher Nolan & Emma Thomas
    Best Director: Christopher Nolan
    Best Actor: John David Washington
    Best Supporting Actor: Robert Pattinson
    Best Original Screenplay: Christopher Nolan
    Best Original Score: Ludwig Göransson
    Best Editing: Jennifer Lame


  • The French Dispatch 
    Best Picture: Wes Anderson, Steven Rales & Jeremy Dawson
    Best Director: Wes Anderson
    Best Original Screenplay: Wes Anderson
    Best Original Score: Alexandre Desplat
    Best Cinematography: Robert Yeoman


  • Capone 
    Best Director: Josh Trank
    Best Original Screenplay: Josh Trank
    Best Actor: Tom Hardy
    Best Supporting Actress: Linda Cardellini
    Best Cinematography: Peter Deming


  • Da 5 Bloods (Netflix)
    Best Picture: Jon Kilik, Spike Lee, Beatriz Levin & Lloyd Levin
    Best Director: Spike Lee
    Best Cinematography: Newton Thomas Sigel
    Best Original Score: Terence Blanchard
    Best Editing: Adam Gough
    Best Adapted Screenplay: Danny Bilson, Paul De Meo, Spike Lee and Kevin Willmott


  • Mank (Netflix) 
    Best Picture: David Fincher, Ceán Chaffin, Eric Roth and Douglas Urbanski
    Best Director: David Fincher
    Best Adapted Screenplay: Jack Fincher
    Best Actor: Gary Oldman
    Best Supporting Actress: Amanda Seyfried
    Best Original Score: Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
    Best Cinematography Erik Messerschmidt
    Best Editing: Kirk Baxter


  • Dune
    Best Picture: Mary Parent, Cale Boyter, Joe Caracciolo Jr. and Denis Villeneuve
    Best Director: Denis Villeneuve
    Best Adapted Screenplay: Jon Spaihts, Eric Roth & Denis Villeneuve
    Best Actor: Timothée Chalamet
    Best Supporting Actress: Rebecca Ferguson
    Best Supporting Actor: Oscar Isaac
    Best Original Score: Hans Zimmer
    Best Cinematography: Greig Fraser
    Best Editing: Joe Walker


This list that I have compiled is solely based on what I believe to be possible Oscar contenders. Majority of these films are highly anticipated and have been adamant in not moving their release date, due to COVID 19. This is all hypothetical and if the restrictions are still in place from September onwards, they need to make the decision to send it straight to VOD or postpone their film entirely. I personally think it’s not the right decision to postpone the Oscars because all of the films listed above should be given the fair chance to be nominated, based on the slate of their year. If the Academy combines the 2020 & 2021 slates, it will be too much for anyone to handle.

“It is still unclear if postponing the Oscars will also mean that the Academy will allow films released after the year-end deadline to qualify for the 2021 Oscars.” says Marc Malkin for Variety. It is a very difficult decision to make, but it is also very premature to even consider postponing, if we are only half way through the year. At the end of the day, you don’t make pictures for Oscars, as the wise director Martin Scorsese has said, but it’s sure great to get recognized for your work.