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Emma Champion given ‘Honourable Mention’ in the 46th New Millennium Writings Awards

Emma Champion’s first ever piece of short fiction has garnered the attention of the judging panel in the 46th New Millennium Writings Awards, 2018.

The 6000-word story, entitled YOUR HUMAN, was entered into the competition last year, with winners and finalists announced in January 2019.

New Millennium Writings is a prize-winning literary journal based in Tennessee, US. Editor and Publisher for the journal, Alexis Williams Carr, contacted Emma via email (see image above) to congratulate her, saying “…you should be proud of your accomplishment…as an Honourable Mention, you placed in approximately the top 10% of our entries…” and thanked her “…for being a vibrant voice in the writing community.”

The panel of judges for the competition is comprised of poets, novelists, essayists, playwrights, screenwriters, editors, professors, and journalists, including: Marilyn Kallet, Doris Ivie, Laura Still, and New Millennium Writings founder, Don Williams.

Set in contemporary America somewhere in the not-too-distant future, YOUR HUMAN examines our need as a species for connection, and the role that technology plays in filling the void.

This is the first fiction writing accolade Emma has received, and serves as an exciting precursor to the release of her debut novel, TAIDEN’S TRUTH, due out later this year.

Follow @TaidenTrilogyOfficial on Facebook for all the latest news about the release of the book!

Emma Champion’s debut novel, TAIDEN’S TRUTH©, to be published in 2019

Following on from our last update, we are thrilled to announce that Emma Champion was offered a publishing contract in June 2018 for her debut novel, TAIDEN’S TRUTH©.

The cover and its illustration, along with the promotional tile (above) were digitally designed by Champion herself, as she collaborates artistically with her publisher, Austin Macauley PublishersTM.

It seems her years of marketing experience are being put to good use.

Austin Macauley have described TAIDEN’S TRUTH© as “an imaginative and entertaining read“, consisting of “well-crafted characters“, and a “worthwhile addition to the genre” of fantasy fiction.

Test audiences who have read TAIDEN’S TRUTH© say it is a story that stays with the reader long after, and that it is addictive. “I couldn’t put it down!” exclaimed one test reader. “You wouldn’t guess the writer had never written a book before,” stated another.

TAIDEN’S TRUTH© has been officially formatted, and is now with a team of proofreaders for the editing process. The book will be available in print (hardback and paperback), and as an eBook, and is due for release in 2019.

Follow @TaidenTrilogyOfficial on Facebook for all the latest developments.

 

 

TAIDEN© – PART ONE: TAIDEN’S TRUTH© – with agencies and publishers for review

We are delighted to announce that Emma Champion’s debut novel, TAIDEN’S TRUTH© is now being reviewed by a selection of literary agents and publishers.

The novel, part one of The TAIDEN Trilogy, has been a work in progress since 2003, when Emma dreamed the premise whilst sleeping. From the notes she made the following morning, she has formed an epic, yet accessible fantasy tale in which a young girl discovers she is part of something larger than she could have possibly imagined.

For all the latest developments, like the Facebook page @TaidenTrilogyOfficial at: https://www.facebook.com/TaidenTrilogyOfficial/

Emma Champion’s 2017 Annual Oscar® Report

Nineteen years ago, in February of 1998, I decided to stay up all night to watch the Oscars® ceremony live as it happened, not knowing that I was beginning a personal tradition that I would never be able to bring myself to walk away from.

Now, here I sit, a little older, a little chubbier, but in no way diminished in my enthusiasm for the biggest night of the year in Hollywood’s diary.

Being broadcast on the day the sudden death of film legend Bill Paxton was announced in the media, this ceremony promises to be a poignant one, as this has been a year of great loss in Hollywood, with the passing of legends such as Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, but also a politically-charged evening, in terms of recent events.

This year is slightly different for me, as for the first time in almost twenty years, I have some company for Oscar® night. A month ago, I adopted a rescue Cat named Poppy, and she has made herself comfortable for the evening’s proceedings on the sofa next me.

So, without further a do, let’s hit the red carpet, courtesy of ABC:

Matt Damon sports a bow tie and speaks of how proud he is of long-time friend and Best Actor nominee Casey Affleck for Manchester By The SeaRyan Gosling says he has kept up his piano skills as seen in La La Land, although he only knows how to play the numbers from the film…Denzel Washington issues high-fives to the fans seated in the bleachers…Fifty Shades Darker beauty Dakota Johnson dressed head-to-toe in cream-coloured silk – an outfit she may come to regret tomorrow…Best Supporting Actor nominee Jeff Bridges cutting a dapper figure on the red carpet with his beautiful wife…

It’s time! Here begins the 89th Annual Academy Awards®!

The show gets under way on a high note, with a performance of Best Song nominee Can’t Stop The Feeling from Justin Timberlake, and a fun opening monologue from host Jimmy Kimmel, who jokes, “I’d like to thank President Trump, because remember last year when The Oscars® seemed racist?”

Also, Kimmel draws attention to “underrated” Hollywood legend Meryl Streep who receives a standing ovation.

Last year’s Best Supporting Actress Alicia Vikander takes to the stage to present the award for Actor in a Supporting Role.

 

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Mahershala Ali, Moonlight – WINNER

Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water

Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea

Dev Patel, Lion

Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

 

Kate McKinnan and Jason Bateman take to the stage to present the awards for Make Up and Hairstyling and Costume Design. McKinnan announces that “Costumes are the cost of Umes…”

 

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

A Man Called Ove

Star Trek Beyond

Suicide Squad – WINNER

 

COSTUME DESIGN

Allied

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – WINNER

Florence Foster Jenkins

Jackie

La La Land

 

Octavia Spencer takes to the stage with her co-stars from Hidden Figures to introduce Catherine Johnson – the only living participant in the real life events that inspired the story of the film. They remain to present the award for Documentary Feature.

 

DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE)

Fire at Sea

I Am Not Your Negro

Life, Animated

O.J.: Made in America – WINNER

13th

 

Dwayne Johnson takes to the stage to introduce a performance of How Far I’ll Go from the Disney movie Moana by character voice, Auli’I Cravalho – which is nominated for Best Song. The performance is stunning.

President of the Academy Cheryl Boone-Issacs arrives to say how proud she is to the awards becoming “more diverse with every passing day.”

Bags of sweets fall from the ceiling on little parachutes courtesy of host Jimmy Kimmel, who says movies without candy is “un-American”.

Chris Evans takes to the stage to present the award for Sound Editing and Sound Mixing.

 

SOUND EDITING

Arrival – WINNER

Deepwater Horizon

Hacksaw Ridge

La La Land

Sully

 

SOUND MIXING

Arrival

Hacksaw Ridge – WINNER

La La Land

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

 

Vince Vaughn is here to tell us about the Academy’s Governor’s Awards, which honoured Jackie Chan.

Last year’s Best Supporting Actor, Mark Rylance, takes to the stage to present the award for Actress in a Supporting Role.

 

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Viola Davis, Fences – WINNER

Naomie Harris, Moonlight

Nicole Kidman, Lion

Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures

Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

 

Highlight of Viola Davis’ acceptance speech: “I became an actor, because we are the only profession that celebrates what it is to live a life.”

The Oscars hijack a Hollywood Tour Bus!! A group of civilians are in for the surprise of their lives…

Charlize Theron talks about how Shirley MacLaine inspired her career, who joins her on stage to present the award for Foreign Language Film.

 

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

Land of Mine

A Man Called Ove

The Salesman – WINNER

Tanna

Toni Erdmann

 

Dev Patel takes to the stage to introduce Sting, who gives a beautiful acoustic performance of The Empty Chair from Jim: The James Foley Story – another nominee for Best Song.

Kimmel checks in with the Hollywood Tour Bus full of unwitting movie fans…

Hailee Steinfeld and Gael Garcia Bernal arrive to present the award for Best Animated Short.

 

SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)

Blind Vaysha

Borrowed Time

Pear Cider and Cigarettes

Pearl

Piper – WINNER

 

Steinfeld and Garcia Bernal remain on stage to present the award for Best Animated Feature.

 

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

Kubo and the Two Strings

Moana

My Life as a Zucchini

The Red Turtle

Zootopia (AKA Zootropolis) – WINNER

 

Be still my heart!! It’s my beloved Jamie Dornan!! Oh, and Dakota Johnson is here too (humph), who looks at Dornan and says, “You look familiar…”, to which he replies, perplexed and amused, “I’m sure I do…!” They are here to present the award for Production Design.

 

PRODUCTION DESIGN

Arrival

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Hail, Caesar!

La La Land – WINNER

Passengers

 

The Hollywood Tour Bus has arrived!! Justin Theroux and Jennifer Aniston are encouraged by Kimmel to give something away to the tourists – and Aniston gives her sunglasses to one of the ladies! An engaged couple are “married” by Denzel Washington!  All of them take selfies and shake hands with Hollywood royalty – and have the best day of their lives. They are overwhelmed and a little scared, but the prank goes off without a hitch!

A short clip is shown honouring the ways in which movies transcend boundaries such as language or nationality.

Felicity Jones and Riz Ahmed take to the stage to present the award for Visual Effects.

 

VISUAL EFFECTS

Deepwater Horizon

Doctor Strange

The Jungle Book – WINNER

Kubo and the Two Strings

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

 

Seth Rogan talks about how Back to the Future inspired him, and then takes to the stage with Marty McFly himself, Michael J. Fox, who gets a standing ovation. They stay on stage to present the award for Film Editing.

 

FILM EDITING

Arrival

Hacksaw Ridge – WINNER

Hell or High Water

La La Land

Moonlight

 

Selma Hayek and David Oyelowo arrive to present the awards for Best Documentary Short and Live Action Short.

 

DOCUMENTARY (SHORT SUBJECT)

Extremis

4.1 Miles

Joe’s Violin

Watani: My Homeland

The White Helmets – WINNER

 

SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)

Ennemis Intérieurs

La Femme et le TGV

Silent Nights

Sing – WINNER

Timecode

 

John Cho and Leslie Mann talk about the Academy’s Science and Technology Awards. They make fun of the fact that nobody ever really knows what they are. Mann jokes, “The event was so special and prestigious, that none of you were invited.”

Javier Bardem talks about how Bridges of Madison County inspired him, and then he and Meryl Streep take to the stage together. They present the award for Cinematography.

Oscars Edition of Mean Tweets! Celebrities read horrible Tweets people have written about them! Brilliant.   My favourite is Tilda Swinton reading a Tweet about a dog that looks like her.

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone arrive! They talk about the two songs from La La Land nominated for Best Song, City of Stars, and Audition. John Legend performs both songs to perfection.

 

CINEMATOGRAPHY

Arrival

La La Land – WINNER

Lion

Moonlight

Silence

 

Samuel L. Jackson has, at last, arrived! He is here to present the award for Best Original Score.

 

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)

Jackie

La La Land – WINNER

Lion

Moonlight

Passengers

 

Scarlett Johansson takes to the stage to present the award for Original Song.

 

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)

“Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” from La La Land

Music by Justin Hurwitz; Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul

“Can’t Stop The Feeling” from Trolls

Music and Lyric by Justin Timberlake, Max Martin and Karl Johan Schuster

“City Of Stars” from La La Land – WINNER

Music by Justin Hurwitz; Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul

“The Empty Chair” from Jim: The James Foley Story

Music and Lyric by J. Ralph and Sting

“How Far I’ll Go” from Moana

Music and Lyric by Lin-Manuel Miranda

 

An emotional Jennifer Aniston takes to the stage to introduce the In Memoriam segment. She gives honourable mention to Bill Paxton, who she says, “left us just yesterday.” The most notable amongst those listed are Gene Wilder, Garry Marshall, Anton Yelchin, Mary Tyler Moore, Prince, Kenny Baker, Curtis Hanson, John Hurt, Debbie Reynolds, and Carrie Fisher.

Matt Damon and Ben Affleck take to the Oscar Stage for the first time since 1998 – my first Oscar Night. Kimmel, who has had fun all night with fake enemy Damon, has the orchestra try to play him off the stage every time he tries to speak.

 

WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)

Hell or High Water

La La Land

The Lobster

Manchester by the Sea – WINNER

20th Century Women

Amy Adams presents the award for Adapted Screenplay.

 

WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)

Arrival

Fences

Hidden Figures

Lion

Moonlight – WINNER

 

To follow the sweets from earlier, Kimmel drops Doughnuts and Cookies from the Ceiling on little parachutes. The celebs go nuts – in particular, Octavia Spencer.

Halle Berry arrives with very big hair to present the award for Directing.

 

DIRECTING

Arrival

Hacksaw Ridge

La La Land – WINNER

Manchester by the Sea

Moonlight

 

Last year’s Best Actress Brie Larsen takes to the stage to present the award for Actor in a Leading Role.

 

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea – WINNER

Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge

Ryan Gosling, La La Land

Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic

Denzel Washington, Fences

 

Last year’s Best Actor Leonardo DiCaprio arrives looking every bit the movie star to present the award for Actress in a Leading Role.

 

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Isabelle Huppert, Elle

Ruth Negga, Loving

Natalie Portman, Jackie

Emma Stone, La La Land – WINNER

Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

 

Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway arrive on stage to present the award for Best Picture.

 

BEST PICTURE

Arrival

Fences

Hacksaw Ridge

Hell or High Water

Hidden Figures

La La Land – WINNER

Lion

Manchester by the Sea

Moonlight – WINNER

 

**SHOCK TWIST ALERT** Wait – WHAT?? Warren Beatty has read the WRONG envelope!!! They announce La La Land as Best Picture winner, and the cast and crew are up on stage mid-speech, accepting their award, but then Beatty comes to the mic to say MOONLIGHT has actually won Best Picture, adding, “this is not a joke.”

I have never seen anything like this in my almost twenty years of the Oscars®, but never in Oscar® history!!

Well… I’m still in shock! That was phenomenal. I thought Jimmy Kimmel did a great job, and was relieved that there were not too many political speeches, despite Kimmel Tweeting Donald Trump. Blimey. Beatty is going to BREAK THE INTERNET.

Phew – I need a coffee…for the first time in 19 years, I have to go into work in a couple of hours!! That is how dedicated I am to the Academy. Invite me to the Dolby Theater for my 20th Oscar® Night next year! PLEASE!

Whether I end up on the Red Carpet in LA, or remain in chilly England on the sofa with my Cat, I’ll see you next year, Folks.

REVIEW by Emma Champion: FIFTY SHADES DARKER (2017) starring Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson **WARNING** Spoilers and Explicit Language

I feel sorry for Jamie Dornan.  Sure – I would understand anyone finding it difficult to muster sympathy for the beautiful-looking, happily-married, millionaire movie star; however, I get the feeling he is a man who knows full-well that the franchise causing his career to sky-rocket is not going to be nominated for any Oscars® anytime soon.

For fans of the Twilight movies (and those of you familiar with my reviews will know this does not include me), it might interest you to know that literary phenomenon Fifty Shades of Grey started life online as fan fiction inspired by the glittery-vampire melodromance.  The quality of the writing in EL James’s trilogy of ‘kinky f***ery’ (protagonist Anastasia’s choice of words, not mine) leaves a lot to be desired – full of overused phrases such as ‘Holy Cow!’, and poorly-constructed sentences – but do you think James gives a dusty f***?  She’s laughing all the way to the bank – her vault inside which, I’m sure, resembles Harry Potter’s Gringotts stash.

The same goes for Mr Dornan, the only difference being that, unlike EL James, we know he is better than this – the evidence is clear in such works of prestige as BBC2’s The Fall and wartime drama Anthropoid (2016).  You can see how he cringes whenever he has to talk about these movies – even breakfast TV sweetheart Lorraine Kelly is convinced ‘he knows they’re rubbish’.  So surely we can forgive him for not turning down the multi-million dollar contract he was offered to play emotional f***wit, Christian Grey?  What would you or I have done in the same situation?  Hell, he’s giving EL James a piggy-back ride to that bank of hers, and the sign above the door reads ‘DORNAN’S’.

If Fifty Shades of Grey (2015) was the cold, post-coital wet patch on the duvet, then Fifty Shades Darker (2017) is morning-after breakfast-in-bed with hot coffee and buttered toast.  To call this ‘Darker’ is somewhat misleading.  If anything, it should have been named Fifty Shades of Warm & Fuzzy with the Occasional Hint of Danger that Doesn’t Quite Materialise (not as pithy, I grant you).  There was so much scope for a darker tale – a disgruntled former submissive packing heat, a lecherous, over-familiar boss, a spectacular helicopter crash – but none of these elements packed enough punch – the latter of which not even being shown in full.

For the most part, Dornan’s characteristically-frowny Grey grins like a Cheshire Cat with a coat hanger jammed in his jaws whilst sniffing laughing gas and watching an episode of Seinfeld.  It seems like a bit too drastic a leap from the guy who wouldn’t smile for a photo shoot, to this happy buffoon – as pretty a smile as it is.  Love, however, is transforming the man who was all about the boundaries, as he slowly allows Anastasia (Dakota Johnson) to break down his walls and, ahem, ‘access’ him via the cracks appearing in his armour.

Speaking of my dearly-beloved Dornan, there are glimmers of the actor we know him to be, particularly in the scenes where he squirms revealing details of Grey’s murky past, and as Ana marks out the scarred ‘no-go-zone’ with lipstick on his chest.  The producers have also allowed him to have a little more of his signature facial hair this time – this, coupled with the extra bulk his has built up in his torso since the last installment, and he is an impressive, masculine presence to behold.  On paper, Christian Grey is very hard to like, and yet, Dornan plays him in a way that endears you to him, which can only be a testament to his wealth of untapped talent buried beneath this bit of nonsense.

Johnson, meanwhile handles the material with grace, delivering a subtle performance in wholly unsubtle territory, and providing most of the movie’s much-needed humour.  Johnson is also responsible for my favourite moment in the film – a massive nod to her real-life mother Melanie Griffith’s hit eighties classic Working Girl (1988) – when she delivered Tess McGill’s famous ‘I expect you to call me Tess’ speech verbatim as Ana is promoted and gains an assistant.  It was all I could do not to leap from my seat in pure joy and start singing Carly Simon’s ‘Let the River Run’.

I must also take a moment to acknowledge the supporting cast members – Kim Basinger cast as the notorious ‘Mrs Robinson’ is a particularly clever touch, given that she once starred in her own, equally-controversial cinematic – ahem – ‘romp’, 9 1/2 Weeks (1986). Marcia Gay Harden as Christian’s adoptive mother Grace, plays the doting parent to perfection; and we must not forget the impossibly-broad-shouldered Max Martini returning as the indispensable Taylor the Driver – a man so ‘hench’ that he makes Christian Grey look like a skinny little girl.  In fact, all of the cast from the first film make an appearance – Rita Ora as Christian’s sister Mia, Luke Grimes as brother Elliot – but the most mystifying of all is Eloise Mumford as Ana’s room mate Kate Kavanagh, who is 30 years of age playing age 21-22, and it shows.  We weren’t born yesterday, Love – and neither were you, it would seem.  Ooh – Meow!

As a woman, I am acutely aware of what I can only describe as ‘brainwashing’ at work in this sickly sequel.  Christian Grey is now painted as the epitome of relationship wish-fulfillment – filthy rich (‘filthy’ being the operative word, the cheeky devil), stunning on the eye, attentive – ahem – ‘in-and-out’ of the bedroom, fiercely protective, potently possessive, and utterly besotted with his missus – providing hearts and flowers in abundance for Ana and, ultimately, bewitching the hormones of female audience members.  All this from a character who thinks it’s okay to batter and control women for sexual gratification!

This is the only explanation for why, despite this movie’s hammy script and hefty helping of cheese, I found myself completely and utterly drawn in – eyes wide, gawking at Dornan’s muscular physique and sighing at his every romantic gesture.  I left the cinema making plans to never date again unless it was with a man like that, and to pre-order the Blu-Ray ASAP.

Well played, Universal Pictures – well played.  Hashtag: MUG.

And, yes, there is sex.  Gratuitous and plenty-of.  However, I still think it’s odd that we have not seen Christian Grey fully in the buff, given his exhibitionist and cavalier attitude to intimacy.  Although, this may just be my inner pervert lustfully praying to get a glimpse at the good stuff.

Overall, this is a gimmick morphed into a more traditional Harlequin-style romance, only the transition feels clumsy and mistimed.  It would have been nicer to see Christian evolve at a slower pace, coming around to the idea of ‘Vanilla’ love little by little.  Instead, we are hoiked head first into a vom-fest of ardour that doesn’t manage to strike the same steely tone as its predecessor.  Darker is a different beast.  Whether ‘different’ means ‘good’ is another matter.

That said, all of this irrelevant.  I’m still in love with Jamie Dornan, I still bought a ticket to see this, and I’ll invest in it further upon its Home Entertainment release – thus proving that a film doesn’t have to be good to be gold in terms of a return.  Upon its worldwide debut, Fifty Shades Darker raked in $146 million – a number which continues to – ahem – ‘go up’.

Fifty Shades Darker is showing in cinemas nationwide NOW.  BBFC rating: 18.

Emma Champion’s 2016 Annual Oscar® Report

And so, I embark on what is my eighteenth Oscar® Night, and the sixth anniversary of EmmaChampion.com’s Annual Oscar®  Report.  Time sure flies when you’re steadfastly dedicated to geekdom.  I was eighteen years of age in 1998 when I first stayed up all night to watch the glitterati gather in La La Land to pat each other on the back for a year well done.  Little did I know that a ritual was born that night – one that would span almost two decades, and see me get through a heck of a lot of wine and popcorn.

As Middle Age firmly sets in, gone are the cinema-style junk food snacks, in favour of carrot batons and M&S hummus dip – it catches up with all of us, I suppose.  However, there is no denying that the Oscars® is, for me, the most exciting moment of Awards Season, and a real highlight of my year.  So now, without further a do, here is a play-by-play of the 88th Academy Awards 2016.

 

Red Carpet shenanigans courtesy of Sky, E! Online and ABC:

Best Song nominee Sam Smith, wearing a Dunhill tux, reveals that he was drunk when he walked the Red Carpet at the Golden Globes…Best Actress nominee Saoirse Ronan, wearing a bottle green Calvin Klein gown and giving her award ceremony attendance advice, which is ‘eat beforehand, because you won’t get fed again for about six hours…’…Best Actor nominee, Eddie Redmayne, looking dapper in Alexander McQueen explaining that he is feeling very ‘zen’ this year compared to being a nominee/winner last year…Best Actress nominee Cate Blanchett in a stunning, silver-blue gown embellished with feather flowers…Heidi Klum wins the night’s Most Hideous Outfit™ award in an asymmetric, lilac prom-like Versace dress which would not have looked out of place in 1985… Best Actor nominee Leonardo DiCaprio and Best Supporting Actress Nominee Kate Winslet pose together for pictures before the paparazzi…Best Actor nominee Brian Cranston predicts that The Revenant will take home Best Picture…

Time to move inside the Dolby Theater to get this party started…

This year’s host Chris Rock’s monologue opens with some predictable jokes about this year’s race controversy, stating, “If they nominated hosts, I wouldn’t even have this job!”  He goes on to say, “Jada (Pinkett-Smith) boycotting the Oscars® is like me boycotting Rhianna’s panties: I wasn’t invited!”  A few jaws drop…

Welcome to the stage Emily Blunt and Charlize Theron to present the first award – Best Original Screenplay. Theron makes a joke about how writers are hot, and then observes, “a writer wrote that.”  Blunt stands there looking redundant.

 

WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)

Bridge of Spies

Ex Machina

Inside Out

Spotlight – WINNER

Straight Outta Compton

 

Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe (nice combo) arrive on stage to present the next award.  They instigate a fake argument.  It isn’t funny, but everyone laughs politely.

 

WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)

The Big Short – WINNER

Brooklyn

Carol

The Martian

Room

 

An amusing film ‘bit’, which splices black actors and actresses into some of this year’s nominated movies, goes down very well with the crowd.  It becomes glaringly apparent that Rock is not going to let this theme go…

Sarah Silverman takes to the stage to introduce The Writing’s On The Wall by Sam Smith, nominated for Best Song.  She says of Bond, “I don’t want to say he’s terrible at sex, but he did sleep with 55 women in 25 movies and most of them tried to kill him afterward…”

Sam Smith’s performance falls short of his usual high standard.  Disappointing.

Henry Cavill and Kerry Washington talk about The Martian and The Big Short – two of this year’s nominees for Best Picture.

J.K. Simmons arrives to announce the winner of Best Supporting Actress.  He gets straight to the point.

 

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight

Rooney Mara, Carol

Rachel McAdams, Spotlight

Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl – WINNER

Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

 

Winslet was robbed.  But like Forrest Gump, ‘That’s all I have to say about that.’

Cate Blanchett is next to present.  Her dress is beautiful, which is apt given that the next category is Best Costume Design.

 

COSTUME DESIGN

Carol

Cinderella

The Danish Girl

Mad Max: Fury Road – WINNER

The Revenant

 

Uh-oh – Steve Carell and Tina Fey are here. Carell plays it straight, Fey acts weird.  Carell adds that Fey has been drinking.  She ends by saying, “The non-a-mees are…”

 

PRODUCTION DESIGN

Bridge of Spies

The Danish Girl

Mad Max: Fury Road – WINNER

The Martian

The Revenant

 

Margot Robbie and Jared Leto are here, both looking so, so beautiful.  Leto talks about Mirkens.  He says, “Explain it to the person next to you, or Google it.”  I happen to know that a Mirken is also known as a ‘Vagina Wig’.  I only know because I happen to have watched the acclaimed TV series, The L Word.  That is my story and I’m sticking to it.

 

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

Mad Max: Fury Road – WINNER

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared

The Revenant

 

Benicio Del Toro and Jennifer Garner are here to talk about two more nominees for Best Picture – The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road.

The camera cuts to a man dressed as a cartoon bear in the audience – a reference to The Revenant.  The camera cuts to Leonardo DiCaprio and director Alejandro G. Iñárritu  – neither of whom look impressed.

Michael B. Jordan and Rachel McAdams arrive to present the next award.

 

CINEMATOGRAPHY

Carol

The Hateful Eight

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant – WINNER

Sicario

 

Priyanka Chopra and Liev Schreiber are here to present the next statuette.

 

FILM EDITING

The Big Short

Mad Max: Fury Road – WINNER

The Revenant

Spotlight

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

 

Chadwick Boseman and Chris Evans (of Captain America fame, not TFI Friday) are here to present the awards for sound.

 

SOUND EDITING

Mad Max: Fury Road – WINNER

The Martian

The Revenant

Sicario

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

 

The guys who collect the award swear on camera. “F**kin’ Mad Maxers! Come on!”  Everyone looks very uncomfortable.  This is going out before the watershed in the US.

 

SOUND MIXING

Bridge of Spies

Mad Max: Fury Road – WINNER

The Martian

The Revenant

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

 

Introduced as ‘Actor and Performance Capture Artist’ (which I think is rather interesting – he isn’t the only actor to do performance capture, though he has certainly been a pioneer), Andy Serkis takes to the stage to present.

 

VISUAL EFFECTS

Ex Machina – WINNER

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

 

Jason Bateman and Olivia Munn arrive to talk about the Scientific and Technical Awards, which take place annually about two weeks before the main awards ceremony.

Droids!  BB-8, R2-D2 and C-3PO arrive on stage.  BB-8 is amazing.  I want a life-size one that can follow me around everywhere I go.  Just throwing that out there.

Chris Rock asks members of the audience to help his daughters sell the most Girl Scout Cookies by reaching into their ‘millionaire pockets’ to buy some.

Ugh.  It’s the Minions.  I don’t get the appeal.  I hate when they have animated award presenters, because you know the audience can’t see them, except on the monitor.  It’s all a bit ‘cringe’.

 

SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)

Bear Story WINNER

Prologue

Sanjay’s Super Team

We Can’t Live without Cosmos

World of Tomorrow

 

Oh dear – now Woody and Buzz from Toy Story have been animated to give an award out. I am rolling my eyes right now…

 

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

Anomalisa

Boy and the World

Inside Out – WINNER

Shaun the Sheep Movie

When Marnie Was There

 

Kevin Hart takes to the stage.  He says he thought he’d be in the front row this year because of all the ‘Black Stuff’ going on.  Alas.  He introduces The Weekend, who perform Earned It from Fifty Shades of Grey.  It’s a solid performance, with lots of leather-clad dancers on stage.

My Girl™ Kate Winslet and Reese Witherspoon are here to talk about two more nominees for Best Picture – Bridge of Spies and Spotlight.  Kate Winslet has the same glasses as me.  I am SO on trend.

Here to present Best Supporting Actor is last year’s Best Supporting Actress, Patricia Arquette.

 

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Christian Bale, The Big Short

Tom Hardy, The Revenant

Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight

Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies – WINNER

Sylvester Stallone, Creed

 

Louis C.K. is the next presenter on stage.  He jokes that the winner is Mad Max: Fury Road, but adds, “Just kidding”.  Everyone laughs – including me.

 

DOCUMENTARY (SHORT SUBJECT)

Body Team 12

Chau, beyond the Lines

Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah

A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness WINNER

Last Day of Freedom

 

Daisy Ridley and Dev Patel arrive to present the next award.  They make quite a nice couple, actually…

 

DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE)

Amy – WINNER

Cartel Land

The Look of Silence

What Happened, Miss Simone?

Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom

 

Chris Rock reveals that they made over $65,000 selling Girl Scout cookies to celebs in the audience during the ceremony.

Whoopi Goldberg talks about the honorary Oscars® that were given out at a separate celebration.

Cheryl Boone Issacs takes the floor to promote change in Hollywood with regards to people of all races having equal opportunities.

Lewis Gossett Jr. is here to introduce the ‘In Memoriam’ segment, with a musical performance by Dave Grohl.  Amongst the notable deceased: Wes Craven, Christopher Lee, Robert Loggia, Omar Sharif, Leonard Nimoy, and the most heart breaking ones for me – Alan Rickman and James Horner.

Jacob Tremblay and Abraham Attah present the next one, but Rock runs on stage with boxes for them to stand on, and Tremblay’s box places him too far away from the microphone, and he can’t be heard properly when he speaks, which is a shame, because he is too cute.  Oh dear.

 

SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)

Ave Maria

Day One

Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut)

Shok

Stutterer – WINNER

 

Sofia Vegara and Byung-Hun Lee arrive on screen to announce Best Foreign Language film.

 

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

Embrace of the Serpent

Mustang

Son of Saul – WINNER

Theeb

A War

 

Vice President of the United States Joe Biden arrives on stage to a standing ovation.  He urges that we change the culture of sexual abuse in any situation where ‘consent is not given’.  His speech is followed by an emotional performance of Best Song nominee ‘Til It Happens to You by Lady Gaga, featuring on stage the real victims of such abuse.  The performance also gets a standing ovation.

Farrell Williams and Quincy Jones are here to present.  Jones speak in a code that only his close colleagues will get.  Way to isolate 50 million people watching all over the world, Guys…

 

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)

Bridge of Spies

Carol

The Hateful Eight – WINNER

Sicario

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

 

Common and John Legend introduce the next award.

 

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)

“Earned It,” Fifty Shades of Grey

“Manta Ray,” Racing Extinction

“Simple Song #3,” Youth

“Til It Happens To You,” The Hunting Ground

“Writing’s On The Wall,” Spectre – WINNER

 

Sam Smith dedicates his award to the LGBT community and proclaims himself to be a ‘Proud Gay Man’.

Sacha Baron-Cohen and Olivia Wilde take the stage to talk about two more Best Picture nominees, Room and Brooklyn.  Baron-Cohen is dressed as Ali G.  He injects some much-need British humour into proceedings.  I’m sure it was lost on LA’s finest.  At one point, he turns to Wilde and says, “You is WELL fit.”

Star Wars: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams is here to present Best Director.

 

DIRECTING

The Big Short

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant (Alejandro G. Iñárritu)– WINNER

Room

Spotlight

 

Last year’s Best Actor Eddie Redmayne arrives to award Best Actress to this year’s winner.

 

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Cate Blanchett, Carol

Brie Larson, Room – WINNER

Jennifer Lawrence, Joy

Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years

Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

 

Last year’s Best Actress Julianne Moore is here to award Best Actor to this year’s lucky recipient.

 

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Bryan Cranston, Trumbo

Matt Damon, The Martian

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant – WINNER

Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs

Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

 

DiCaprio gets a standing ovation.  Even I cheer aloud.  My neighbours must think I’m having a great dream…it is now 5am.

The camera cuts to a very proud-looking Kate Winslet.  DiCaprio’s speech talks about climate change.

Morgan Freeman takes the stage to give out the night’s big award – Best Picture.  He wears a loop earing in both ears.  Bling.

 

BEST PICTURE

The Big Short

Bridge of Spies

Brooklyn

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

Room

Spotlight – WINNER

 

Everyone in the audience is clearly (pleasantly) surprised by this.

Chris Rock ends by saying “Black lives matter.”

 

Leo has FINALLY done it.  He should have won for What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? – he should have won last year for The Wolf of Wall Street.  But hey – no matter.  He has his golden statue at long last.

And so ends the 88th Academy Awards 2016.  I have enjoyed this year, although I am getting a bit sick of people using the Oscars® ceremony as a political platform, be it gay pride, race equality, environmental issues, etc. – keep it light, people – we are here to celebrate the magic and sparkle of the movies – not get on our soap boxes and preach.  I really hope that next year everyone lightens up a bit and brings back the glitter to compliment the glam.

This is Emma Champion, signing off.  See you all next year. A pleasure as always.

Emma Champion’s 2015 Annual Oscar© Report

Oscars2015
Oscars 2015 logo

All eyes are on LA’s Dolby Theatre tonight as the world’s press and fans alike gather in gaggles to gawk, gasp and gaze at the Glitterati arriving for Oscar© 87!  My wine is perfectly chilled and poured, my popcorn is warm and ready, and I am ready for all that the evening promises to deliver.

I first stayed up all night to watch the live stream of the Oscar© Ceremony back in 1998, because I was a massive fan of James Cameron’s Titanic (as I still am) and it was nominated in 14 categories.  It won 11.  But what I wasn’t expecting was how taken I would be with the general splendour of Oscar© night.  And from that year forward, I have stayed up all night every year to watch the awards as they unfold.  Here in the UK, the ceremony begins at 1.30am, and doesn’t really finish until approximately 5.00am.  It requires dedication – the booking of the following Monday off of work to recover, the paying of a fee to my digital service provider to switch on the channel carrying the show, the frantic typing of live-posting the winners on social media whilst simultaneously producing a play-by-play transcript of the ceremony…I have pledged myself to this task with no reward other than the sheer joy of feeling a part of it.

As ever, I shall begin with observations from the red carpet, courtesy of E! Entertainment, The Guardian, ABC and The Telegraph:

Naomi Watts in a risqué silver/grey Armani Privé gown with a pattern resembling a brick wall…Patricia Arquette in an interesting off-the-shoulder monochrome dress…Dakota Johnson in vivid, red, floor-length, YSL gown, admitting to Ryan Seacrest that she kept a ‘flogger’ from the set of 50 Shades of Grey…JK Simmons arriving dressed in what can only be described as ‘Wild West Chic’…defying age at every turn, Julianne Moore arrives in a figure-hugging cream Chanel Couture gown with train…Sienna Miller looking gorgeous in a black, strappy Oscar de la Renta…Felicity Jones in a stunning silver/grey halter gown by Alexander McQueen with flowing wedding-esque skirt…Rosamund Pike wearing a strapless, scarlet dress that she describes as looking like a bouquet of Roses…Rita Ora in a Marchesa, black and gold, fishtail gown…Reese Witherspoon sporting a dramatic yet simple white structured gown with black trim.  However, she has taken to Twitter using the Hashtag #AskMeMore to encourage journalists to ask her something other than ‘who are you wearing?’  Witherspoon describes this as a ‘movement’.  Way to take the fun out of it, Reese…Jennifer Lopez in a flesh tone, a-line gown with plunging neckline, being told by a journalist that this is actually the 20th Oscar night she has attended, reacting with shock…

To coin an overused phrase from Sky Movies’ blander-than-porridge fashion ‘expert’ Alexa Chung, this year’s red carpet has been a bit ‘snoozy’.  Let’s hope the ceremony itself packs a little more oomph.  With that, lets pour another glass of red and get down to it, as it very much were…

 

Host Neil Patrick Harris opens with a song written by Frozen songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez.  He is joined on stage by Anna Kendrick and Jack Black.  It’s actually brilliant.  Afterwards he claims the entire performance was improvised.

Lupita Nyong’o takes the stage to present Actor in a Supporting Role.

Best Supporting Actor

Robert Duvall, The Judge

Ethan Hawke, Boyhood

Edward Norton, Birdman

Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher

JK Simmons, Whiplash – WINNER

JK Simmons gives a great speech about appreciating your parents. “Don’t text, don’t email, CALL THEM,” he pleads.

Neil Patrick Harris takes the stage straight after, and sings, ‘He won an Oscar! Bum-ba-dum-bum-bum-bum-bum!’  Everyone laughs.  Including me.  It’s a welcome moment of daftness amidst all the pomp.

Liam Neeson is here to talk about the first two Best Picture nominees, The Grand Budapest Hotel and American Sniper.

50 Shades of Grey star Dakota Johnson takes the stage to introduce Best Song nominee, ‘Lost Stars’ from the movie Begin Again, performed by Adam Levine.

Jennifer Lopez and Chris Pine are here to present Achievement in Costume Design.

Best Costume Design

The Grand Budapest Hotel – WINNER

Inherent Vice

Into the Woods

Maleficent

Mr Turner

Reese Witherspoon arrives to present Achievement in Make-Up and Hair Styling.

Best Make-Up & Hairstyling

Foxcatcher

The Grand Budapest Hotel – WINNER

Guardians of the Galaxy

Channing Tatum is here to talk about the winners of Team Oscar.

Nicole Kidman and Chiwetel Ejiofor arrive to present.

Best Foreign Language Film

Ida (Poland) – WINNER

Leviathan (Russia)

Tangerines (Estonia)

Timbuktu (Mauritania)

Wild Tales (Argentina)

Shirley MacLaine is here to talk about three more nominees for Best Picture: Boyhood, The Theory of Everything, and Birdman.

Neil Patrick Harris talks to some of the ‘Seat Fillers’ in the audience – people employed to sit in the stars’ seats whilst they are up on stage.  I want that job… he approaches Steve Carrell and implies he is only there in a seat-filling capacity.

Marion Cotillard presents a performance of ‘Everything Is Awesome’ from The Lego Movie.  Dancers hand out Oscars made of Lego to audience members, including Steve Carrell and Channing Tatum.  The performance is colourful, if a little bit embarrassing.  It is well received by the audience.

Carrie Washington and Jason Bateman arrive arm in arm to present Best Live Action Short and Documentary Short Subject.

Best Live Action Short

Aya

Boogaloo and Graham

Butter Lamp (La Lampe Au Beurre De Yak)

Parvaneh

The Phone Call – WINNER

Best documentary short

Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 – WINNER

Joanna

Our Curse

The Reaper

White Earth

Viola Davis takes the stage to talk about a separate awards ceremony, The Oscars Governors Awards.

Gwyneth Paltrow appears in a baby pink gown – a nod to her famous winners’ gown, perhaps?  She introduces a performance of ‘I’m not gonna miss you’’ by Glen Campbell, from the movie I’ll Be Me.  Performed by Tim McGraw.

Neil Patrick Harris stages a skit where he failed to complete his costume change in the ad break.  He takes to the stage in just his boxers, opening with the line ‘Acting is a noble profession.’

Margot Robbie and Miles Teller introduce footage from the Scientific and Technical Awards.

Sienna Miller and Chris Evans present Best Sound Mixing and Editing.

Best Sound Mixing

American Sniper

Birdman

Interstellar

Unbroken

Whiplash – WINNER

Best Sound Editing

American Sniper – WINNER

Birdman

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Interstellar

Unbroken

Jared Leto arrives to present Actress in a Supporting Role.  He jokes that Meryl Streep is nominated ‘in accordance with state law.’ She put her head in her hands as everyone laughs.

Best Supporting Actress

Patricia Arquette, Boyhood – WINNER

Laura Dern, Wild

Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game

Emma Stone, Birdman

Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

Josh Hutcherson takes the stage to introduce nominated musical number ‘Grateful’ from the movie Selma, performed by Rita Ora.  She does a fantastic job.

Ansel Elgort and Chloe Grace Moretz arrive to present the Visual Effects award.  They both look like they’re twelve playing dress-up.

Best Visual Effects

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Guardians of the Galaxy

Interstellar – WINNER

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Kevin Hart and Anna Kendrick arrive to present Best Animated Short.

Best Animated Short

The Bigger Picture

The Dam Keeper

Feast – WINNER

Me and My Moulton

A Single Life

Zoe Saldana and Dwayne Johnson arrive to present Best Animated Feature. ‘The Rock’ talks about how he always remembers crying at the end of The Lion King.  Saldana points out he would’ve been in his twenties.  He moves the conversation on swiftly.

Best Animated Feature

Big Hero 6 – WINNER

The Boxtrolls

How to Train Your Dragon 2

Song of the Sea

The Tale of Princess Kaguya

Cheryl Boon-Issacs, The president of the Academy, arrives on stage.  She makes a encouraging speech about not giving in to fear.

Chris Pratt and Felicity Jones take to the stage to present the award for Production Design.

Best Production Design

The Grand Budapest Hotel – WINNER

The Imitation Game

Interstellar

Into the Woods

Mr Turner

Idris Elba and Jessica Chastain arrive to announce the award winner for Achievement in Cinematography.

Best Cinematography

Birdman – WINNER

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Ida

Mr Turner

Unbroken

Meryl Streep is here to introduce the ‘In Memoriam’ segment.  Notable inclusions are Mickey Rooney, James Garner, James Rebhorn, Richard Attenborough, Robin Williams, Lauren Bacall and Bob Hoskins.  It is rounded off with a powerful musical performance from Jennifer Hudson.

Naomi Watts and Benedict Cumberbatch present Achievement in Film Editing.

Best Film Editing

American Sniper

Boyhood

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Imitation Game

Whiplash – WINNER

Terence Howard takes the stage to talk about more Best Picture Nominees – Whiplash, Selma and The Imitation Game.  However, he seems to struggle through his script due to technical difficulties, and tries to cover it up with fake, genuine awe for the nominees.  Embarrassing.

Jennifer Aniston and David Oyelowo arrive to announce the winner of Best Documentary Feature.

Best Documentary Feature

CitizenFour – WINNER

Finding Vivian Maier

Last Days in Vietnam

The Salt of the Earth

Virunga

Octavia Spencer is here to introduce a performance of ‘Glory’ from the movie Selma, performed by John Legend and rapper Common.  It gets a standing ovation and reduces several actors in the audience to tears, including Chris Pine.

*A nod to John Travolta’s famous ‘Adele Dazeem’ line fluff last year*

Neil Patrick Harris takes the stage.  “Benedict Cumberbatch,” he says.  “It’s not only the most awesome name in show business, but it’s also the sound you get when you ask John Travolta to announce Ben Affleck.”  His BEST joke of the night.  He then announces Idina Menzel, who introduces John Travolta as “Glom Gazingo.”  He replies, “I deserved that.”  “It’s okay,” she says, “It’s not like it’s going to follow me around for the rest of my life or anything.”  Travolta nods. “Tell me about it,” he replies.  He then says her name correctly as an act of redemption, which gets a cheer from the crowd, whom he asks, “Was that right?”  When it comes to announcing the winner of Best Song, Travolta says to Menzel, “You do it.”

Best Song

‘Everything is Awesome’, The Lego Movie

‘Glory’, Selma – WINNER

‘Grateful’, Beyond the Lights

‘I’m Not Gonna Miss You’, Glen Campbell… I’ll Be Me

‘Lost Stars’, Begin Again

Scarlett Johansson introduces a tribute to The Sound of Music performed by…Lady Gaga (?).  An odd combination perhaps, but she is wonderful.  The special medley of beloved tunes is delivered flawlessly.  She gets a well-deserved standing ovation.  Julie Andrews then comes on stages applauding her.  They embrace.  The audience goes nuts.  Andrews stays to announce the winner of Best Musical Score.

Best Music

The Grand Budapest Hotel – WINNER

The Imitation Game

Interstellar

Mr Turner

The Theory of Everything

Eddie Murphy is here!  He announces the winner of the Original Screenplay category.

Best Original Screenplay

Birdman – WINNER

Boyhood

Foxcatcher

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Nightcrawler

Oprah Winfrey is the next presenter.  She announces the adapted screenplay winner.

Best Adapted Screenplay

American Sniper

The Imitation Game – WINNER

Inherent Vice

The Theory of Everything

Whiplash

Writer Graham Moore gives a very moving speech dedicated to ‘that kid out there who doesn’t think they fit in anywhere.’ He adds, “I promise you, you do.”  He gets a standing ovation.

Ben Affleck has arrived!  He’s here to announce the winner of Achievement in Directing.

Best Director

Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel

Alejandro G Inarritu, Birdman – WINNER

Richard Linklater, Boyhood

Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher

Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game

They are storming through the awards now.  Next to present is Cate Blanchett, in the category of Actor in a Leading Role.

Best Actor

Steve Carell, Foxcatcher

Bradley Cooper, American Sniper

Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game

Michael Keaton, Birdman

Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything – WINNER

Last year’s Best Actor Matthew McConaughey is here to announce the winner of Actress in a Leading Role.

Best Actress

Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night

Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything

Julianne Moore, Still Alice – WINNER

Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl

Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Neil Patrick Harris’ Oscar Predictions skit falls flat.

Sean Penn arrives to announce the winner of Best Picture.

Best Picture

American Sniper

Birdman – WINNER

Boyhood

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Imitation Game

Selma

The Theory of Everything

Whiplash

 

And that is that.  For another year, I must wave my friend Oscar goodbye.  Farewell, Buddy.  May we one day meet in person.  Until that day, I will remain dedicated to the cause.  See you all in 2016!

Film Review by Emma Champion: Interstellar (2014) starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway and Michael Caine

Press screenings are quite fascinating. Right away, it is apparent that this is no ordinary movie-going crowd. This is a concentration of geek-fuelled formality; pens and pads trump popcorn, journalists, authors and bloggers talk shop, interns shake hands with editors. There are even goodie bags! However, as grateful as I am to receive anything for free, I have a bone to pick with Warner Bros. over this one. Now, I absolutely ADORE tie-in movie tat. So, I excitedly reach into the Warner Bros. branded bag and find…a mouse mat. Mouse mat?! Hello, 1998! Given the technological nature of the film’s content, surely something a little more high-tech would have been more befitting? The marketer in me leaps into high gear, and I find myself sitting in my comfy, leopard-print chair within the spectacular Odeon Leicester Square, thinking of all the corporate freebies that might have had more of an impact – I settle upon movie logo branded USB sticks pre-loaded with a digital version of the film’s press pack. As I judge Warner Bros. marketing department for not head-hunting me given my sheer genius, the lights go out, the audience falls silent, and the magic begins – no ads, no trailers – this is business.

Interstellar (2014) tells the story of the end of the world. Crops are dying, food is in short supply. Rich dark soil has turned to thick dry dust which piles up on every surface and attacks towns and cities in crippling cloud storms. NASA has been disbanded. The public have been persuaded that the Apollo missions were faked to bankrupt Russia (a cute hat tilt to all the conspiracy theorists). Kids in schools are encouraged away from careers in engineering and persuaded instead to become farmers. So, when young Murphy Cooper (Mackenzie Foy) notices that the strange goings on in her bedroom (books falling off shelves, dust falling in patterns) seem to be sending her some sort of message, former NASA pilot and doting Dad, known only as Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), tries to help his daughter crack the code. Based on the theory that the code is actually map coordinates, an impromptu road trip leads them to the top secret base of NASA, who are still in operation, literally under ground in a hidden bunker. There they meet Professor Brand (Michael Caine) who Cooper remembers from his pilot days, his daughter, Dr. Amelia Brand (Anne Hathaway) and a whole bunch of scientists and experts working tirelessly on a plan to find a new planet for the human race to populate. With a number of secret missions having already narrowed the options down to three possible candidate planets, in a new galaxy reachable via a black hole, all they need is a skilled NASA pilot to get Dr. Brand and her team there, take samples from the new worlds and decide which of the three would make the best Earth #2. Since he just happens to be a skilled NASA pilot, and fate appears to have thrown him a bone, Cooper is then torn between saving the world and leaving his children, and, naturally, adoring daughter Murphy (or ‘Murph’ as she is referred to) isn’t too happy when her Dad chooses space over their dusty farm. With that, Cooper, Dr. Brand and the team travel beyond our solar system to save humans from extinction. However, it becomes all too apparent that Cooper may have made the wrong choice…

Like Christopher Nolan’s previous proverbial head f***, Inception (2010), Interstellar is one of those films that will drive people crazy. It’ll be discussed, debated and dissected by all who come into contact with it. It demands repeat viewings. It boggles the mind – there was baffled laughter from the crowd during the more brain-scrambling scenes. It challenges you as a viewer, provoking your emotions, inspiring you to smile, causing your shoulders to tense and your head to think. For those reasons, it will not be for everybody. But, those reasons are also why Interstellar is an absolutely stunning piece of film making.

That’s not to say that Interstellar is not without its problems. McConaughey’s Cooper is very similar to the now infamous and much-spoofed Bane (played by Tom Hardy) from Nolan’s Bat sequel, The Dark Knight Rises (2012) – in that, at times, his southern drawl is so thick that you can’t understand what he is saying. And, sarcastic, banter-loving robot TARS (voiced by Bill Irwin) is the most awkward-looking machine you’ve ever seen, even if his dialogue does provide the majority of the film’s comic relief. I would also say that the film’s running time is about 45 minutes too long, meaning there will be people suffering from bum-numbery, wishing they could press pause for a quick cup of tea/cigarette/stiff whiskey, etc. Connoisseurs of simple, straight-forward, CG-ridden, Summer blockbusters will find this slow in places, and perhaps even a touch disappointing. I overheard someone say as we left the auditorium, ‘Would you have paid eleven quid to sit through that?’ I, myself, felt these comments were a tad harsh, but this opinion will be shared by many who can’t follow or fathom the profundity and complexity of the Nolan Brothers’ screenplay. It was also rather unfortunate that I was able to figure out one of the movie’s main twists – the identity of Murph’s ‘ghost’ – rather early on in the movie.

Having said that, there is a multitude contained within Interstellar’s three-hour time frame with the capacity to haunt your thoughts long after the credits roll. There are some awe-inspiring set pieces – tsunamis, explosions, rescues – those who look for action from their science fiction movies should find enough here to hold their interest. There is also some first-class acting to behold – the scene in which Cooper sits through twenty-one years worth of video messages from his family is particularly noteworthy in McConaughey’s case. The look of the film is quite something – Dutch-Swedish cinematographer, Hoyte Van Hoytema, known for his work on Spike Jonze’s acclaimed Her (2013) and the David O. Russell’s The Fighter (2011), does a fantastic job creating the visual tone of Interstellar. From the stark, desolate landscapes of the not-so-distant future Earth, to the spectacular inner sanctum of Gargantua – a monstrous, roaring black hole, Van Hoytema’s signature accents each staggering visual with a kind of raw honesty – quite a feat when dealing with worlds and scenarios people have never seen before. His upcoming work with Sam Mendes on Bond 24, due in 2015, is something many will be excited to see after this. Add to the mix an uncredited appearance from Prince of Hollywood™, Matt Damon, and you couldn’t really ask for more.

Besides predictably brilliant performances from Michael Caine, Jessica Chastain (as an older Murph), Casey Affleck and the rest of the (inter)stellar cast, it is the performance of the film’s nth character, Hans Zimmer’s alluring score, that is perhaps the most striking. Expertly creating tension, punctuating sentimental beats and causing hearts to race during the more high octane sequences, the music swells and swirls and penetrates so effortlessly, complimenting the story’s flavour the way strawberries do for champagne.

Media pundits will call this ‘Inception in Space’, and make comparisons to 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) – but I’m not going to do that. What Nolan has created is a piece of filmmaking which is refreshingly – well, fresh, whilst maintaining the unmistakable style of his back catalogue. He takes the story of the end of the world, and tells it with all the science and intelligence you might expect, but interweaves it with aspects of the human condition, making the unfamiliar relatable, and the journeys of the characters utterly compelling. This is a film about the passage of time; about how the little moments in life are actually the big ones, about our connections to the ones we love and our determination as a species to survive. That’s more depth for your dollar than the average space movie can muster. “What is amazing to me is that while the excitement of the story lies in its scope – the thrill of adventure and discovery of the unknown – one of my favourite things about Chris Nolan is the heartbeat of humanity he gives to his films,” says Academy Award winner, McConaughey. “No one handles the sheer mass and scale of a world like he does because it always comes off as something personal and intimate.”

Interstellar is about all kinds of things,” Christopher Nolan explains, “–who we are, where we’re going – but for me, it’s about being a father. Putting those ideas foremost in my process gives the story to the film, rather than just enjoying the space elements for space’s sake.”

Love is the one thing that transcends time and space,’ declares Hathaway’s Dr. Brand at one point. And although a few men in the audience guffawed as this line was uttered, that is precisely the film’s message. Emotional, and, at times, exhausting to watch, Interstellar delivers a much-needed injection of originality into a world of cinema saturated by half-baked sequels and TV remakes. I highly recommend giving it a look – if nothing else to enable you to join the inevitable conversations it will generate. Like it or hate it, let yourself experience it, and I guarantee that you will be thinking about it for days afterwards. That, for me, is the mark of a good movie.

Rating: ****

Interstellar is released on 7 November 2014 nationwide.

Emma Champion’s 2014 Annual Oscar© Report

Aaaaaaaaaand: OSCAR© time!  Another year, another name for the venue… What, in my mind, will always be known as The Kodak Theatre, was last year named the Hollywood and Highland Centre Theater, and this year goes by the title of The Dolby Theater.  Can’t they just pick a corporate conglomerate and stick to it?!  At least The Dolby Theater has a vaguely cinematic ring to it…

2014 sees this, the 86th OSCAR© ceremony kicking off with a very chilled Red Carpet, and, as ever, my arrival footage of choice comes courtesy of E! Channel.  Here are the highlights:

  • Ryan Seacrest wearing the most hideous cream-coloured  suit, reminiscent of the episode of Friends where Ross is getting ready to appear on The Discovery Channel and Rachel asks him, “Are you going to do magic?”
  • Amy Adams in a navy gown wearing Pat Butcher-esque dangly earrings…
  • Pharrell Williams wearing SHORTS with his tux.  No, really…
  • Julie Delphy, Ethan Hawke and Richard Linklater talking about the long shots of dialogue in Before Midnight being ‘hard work’…
  • Lupita Nyong’o wearing a ‘Nairobi Blue’ low-cut floating gown by Prada, talking about how her role in 12 Years A Slave was her ‘first job out of school’…
  • Jared Leto wearing a cream suit the way it was MEANT to be worn, Seacrest…
  • Kevin Spacey dressed in a beautiful blue suit, claiming that the real Captain Phillips was disappointed that he wasn’t being played by Brad Pitt, and using the new TV buzz phrase ‘Binge-Watch’ with regards to his hit online series House of Cards.…
  • A VERY pregnant Kerry Washington in an indigo purple Jason Bloom gown looking stunning…
  • Jennifer Lawrence falling over – AGAIN.  That’s two years in a row, Love.  Next year, wear some Manolo Pumps and leave the heels at home…
  • New bromance buddies Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill grinning like Cheshire Cats and looking very suave – Jonah has his Mum on his arm and talks about how the teeth his character had in The Wolf of Wall Street became a character unto themselves; and Leo in a navy blue tux talking about how he became obsessed with Jordan Beaufort’s novel…
  • Bradley Cooper’s interview getting hijacked by Jonah Hill, who looks up at Cooper and says, “This is my date tonight…”

With the preamble firmly out of the way, it is time to get this party started!  OSCAR© 86 here we go!

Ellen DeGeneres takes to the stage.  “It’s been a tough couple of days here in Hollywood – it’s been raining.  We thank you for your prayers.”  Ellen actually mentions the fact that Jennifer Lawrence fell out of her car on arrival.  “No one needs to know that,” she announces to the audience.  “Here are my predictions for tonight: Possibility number one, 12 Years a Slave wins Best Picture.  Possibility number two, you’re all racists…”

Ann Hathaway is here to present Best Actor in a Supporting Role.

 

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)

Bradley Cooper (American Hustle)

Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)

Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street)

Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club) *WINNER*

 

Jared Leto’s acceptance speech is phenomenal.

Jim Carrey compares animation to LSD, does a killer impersonation of Bruce Dern, and makes a joke about not being nominated.  He owns the stage.

Kerry Washington introduces a performance of Happy by Pharrell Williams from Despicable Me 2, who has changed out of his ridiculous shorts, thank the Lord Jesus.  He dances with members of the audience, including Lupita Nyong’o, Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. The whole audience gets on their feet.  Just brilliant.

Naomi Watts and Samuel L. Jackson come to present awards for costume design, make-up and hairstyling.

 

Best Costume Design

American Hustle (Michael Wilkinson)

The Grandmaster (William Chang Suk Ping)

The Great Gatsby (Catherine Martin) *WINNER*

The Invisible Woman (Michael O’Connor)

12 Years a Slave (Patricia Norris)

 

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Dallas Buyers Club (Adruitha Lee, Robin Mathews) *WINNER*

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (Stephen Prouty)

The Lone Ranger (Joel Harlow, Gloria Pasqua-Casny)

 

Harrison Ford takes to the stage to the theme from Indiana Jones.  He talks about three of the nominated films up for Best Picture.

Channing Tatum is here to present fresh talent. He’s lost weight! Just before the ad break, Ellen sticks her face between Leonardo DiCaprio and Sandra Bullock seated together in the audience, and says to the camera, “More Oscar surprises after this!” To which Leo cracks up laughing.

Ellen gives Bradley Cooper, seated in the audience, some lottery scratch cards and a quarter, which she says she’s going to need back, and says that if he wins a lot, he has to split the winnings with her.

Matthew McConaughey and Kim Novak take to the stage to present the animated categories.

 

Best Animated Short Film

Feral (Daniel Sousa, Dan Golden)

Get a Horse! (Lauren MacMullan, Dorothy McKim)

Mr. Hublot (Laurent Witz, Alexandre Espigares) *WINNER*

Possessions (Shuhei Morita)

Room on the Broom (Max Lang, Jan Lachauer)

 

Best Animated Feature

The Croods (Chris Sanders, Kirk DeMicco, Kristine Belson)

Despicable Me 2 (Chris Renaud, Pierre Coffin, Chris Meledandri)

Ernest & Celestine (Benjamin Renner, Didier Brunner)

Frozen (Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee, Peter Del Vecho) *WINNER*

The Wind Rises (Hayao Miyazaki, Toshio Suzuki)

 

Sally Field introduces a segment about everyday heroes – a great montage of clips.

Emma Watson and Joseph Gordon Levitt introduce Visual Effects category.

 

Best Visual Effects

Gravity (Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk, Neil Corbould) *WINNER*

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton, Eric Reynolds)

Iron Man 3 (Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash, Dan Sudick)

The Lone Ranger (Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams, John Frazier)

Star Trek Into Darkness (Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossmann, Burt Dalton)

 

Zach Efron introduces a sweet performance of The Moon Song from Her by Karen O.

Ellen reappears on stage with a guitar, which she does not play.  She introduces Jason Sudeikis and Kate Hudson, who present the short film categories.

 

Best Live Action Short Film

Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me) (Esteban Crespo)

Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything) (Xavier Legrand, Alexandre Gavras)

Helium (Anders Walter, Kim Magnusson) *WINNER*

Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?) (Selma Vilhunen, Kirsikka Saari)

The Voorman Problem (Mark Gill, Baldwin Li)

 

Best Documentary Short

CaveDigger (Jeffrey Karoff)

Facing Fear (Jason Cohen)

Karama Has No Walls (Sara Ishaq)

The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life (Malcolm Clarke, Nicholas Reed) *WINNER*

Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall (Edgar Barens)

 

Ellen wanders the audience randomly saying hi to celebs such as Martin Scorsese, and offers to order everyone pizza.

 

Best Documentary Feature

The Act of Killing (Joshua Oppenheimer, Signe Byrge Sørensen)

Cutie and the Boxer (Zachary Heinzerling, Lydia Dean Pilcher)

Dirty Wars (Richard Rowley, Jeremy Scahill)

The Square (Jehane Noujaim, Karim Amer)

20 Feet from Stardom (Morgan Neville et al) *WINNER*

 

Star of 20 Feet from Freedom, Darlene Love, sings her acceptance speech and receives a standing ovation led by Bill Murray.

Kevin Spacey talks about a separate ceremony which took place in the weeks before.  Angelina Jolie accepted an award for her humanitarian work.  A clip is shown of her emotional acceptance speech, and Brad Pitt kisses her head in the audience of The Dolby Theater as they watch it back.

Ewan McGregor and Viola Davis take to the stage to present the next award.

 

Best Foreign Language Film

The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium)

The Great Beauty (Italy) *WINNER*

The Hunt (Denmark)

The Missing Picture (Cambodia)

Omar (Palestine)

 

Tyler Perry introduces three more of the night’s nominees for Best Picture.

It’s a change of outfit for Ellen.  “I put on different clothes,” she says, matter-of-factly.

We see an introduction from Brad Pitt for U2, performing their song Ordinary Love from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.

Ellen instigates a brilliant moment where she tries to break the record for the most retweeted photo on Twitter, by inviting a number of celebrities into a spontaneous group photo, the calibre of which could never again be matched:

Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron introduce the sound categories, and totally fluff their lines on the autocue.

 

Best Sound Mixing

Captain Phillips (Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith, Chris Munro)

Gravity (Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead, Chris Munro) *WINNER*

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges, Michael Semanick, Tony Johnson)

Inside Llewyn Davis (Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff, Peter F. Kurland)

Lone Survivor (Andy Koyama, Beau Borders, David Brownlow)

 

Best Sound Editing

All Is Lost (Steve Boeddeker, Richard Hymns)

Captain Phillips (Oliver Tarney)

Gravity (Glenn Freemantle) *WINNER*

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Brent Burge, Chris Ward)

Lone Survivor (Wylie Stateman)

 

Ellen comes out on to the stage.  She looks a tiny bit different.  “I added a scarf,” she says, bashfully.

Christophe Waltz is here to present the next one!

 

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine)

Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)

Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) *WINNER*

Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)

June Squibb (Nebraska)

 

Ellen actually DID order pizza!  She gives it out to the celebrities (who go nuts for it – Brad Pitt hands out paper plates; Harrison Ford inspects the toppings and selects his slice, etc.), but then says she doesn’t have any money to pay the delivery guy.  “Where’s Harvey Weinstein?” she asks.

A new movie museum to open on 2017 is announced!  It looks awesome!

Amy Adams and Bill Murray come out holding hands.  “Baby, you look like $146,000,000 domestic,” he says to Amy.  “You’re the brains of this operation – tell ‘em who’s up for Best Shooter.”  The nominees are announced, and the Bill adds, “Oh wait, we forgot one – Harold Ramis for Groundhog Day, Ghostbusters and Caddyshack.” This gets a cheer from the crowd for the recently passed Ramis.

 

Best Cinematography

The Grandmaster (Philippe Le Sourd)

Gravity (Emmanuel Lubezki) *WINNER*

Inside Llewyn Davis (Bruno Delbonnel)

Nebraska (Phedon Papamichael)

Prisoners (Roger A. Deakins)

 

Anna Kendrick and Gabourey Sidibe introduce the editing categories.

 

Best Film Editing

American Hustle (Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers, Alan Baumgarten)

Captain Phillips (Christopher Rouse)

Dallas Buyers Club (John Mac McMurphy, Martin Pensa)

Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón, Mark Sanger) *WINNER*

12 Years a Slave (Joe Walker)

 

Whoopi Goldberg is here! She talks about The Wizard of Oz.  The children of Judy Garland are in the audience.  She introduces P!nk who sings Somewhere Over The Rainbow in a glittering ruby gown, and absolutely nails it. She gets a well-deserved standing ovation. Outstanding.

Ellen comes out dressed as Glinda the Good Witch after the ad break.  “Is it over?” she asks.  “Not cool, Guys – you were gonna call me…”

Jennifer Garner and Benedict Cumberbatch introduce the production design nominees.

 

Best Production Design

American Hustle (Judy Becker, Heather Loeffler)

Gravity (Andy Nicholson, Rosie Goodwin, Joanne Woollard)

The Great Gatsby (Catherine Martin, Beverley Dunn) *WINNER*

Her (K.K. Barrett, Gene Serdena)

12 Years a Slave (Adam Stockhausen, Alice Baker)

 

Chris Evans arrives to introduce a montage about movie heroes.

Glenn Close arrives to present the In Memoriam reel.  Notable honourees are Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Harold Ramis, Paul Walker, Ray Harryhausen, Shirley Temple and James Gandolfini.  Bette Midler sings Wind Beneath My Wings at the end of the reel.  She gets a standing ovation, which makes her cry.

Ellen comes on stage to announce that we all crashed Twitter retweeting the selfie picture, thus making history.

Goldie Hawn arrives to tell us about three more of the nominees for Best Picture.

John Travolta is here to introduce a performance of Let It Go from Frozen by Idina Menzel  (Only he says her name is Adele Dazeem.  May need to go to Specsavers, John…).  She gets a standing ovation, despite her timing being slightly out.

Jamie Foxx and Jessica Biel take to the stage to talk about film music.  Foxx does a one-man performance of Chariots of Fire which gets a laugh from the crowd.

 

Best Original Score

The Book Thief (John Williams)

Gravity (Steven Price) *WINNER*

Her (William Butler, Owen Pallett)

Philomena (Alexandre Desplat)

Saving Mr. Banks (Thomas Newman)

 

Best Original Song

Happy – Despicable Me 2

Let It Go – Frozen *WINNER*

The Moon Song – Her

Ordinary Love – Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

 

Ellen borrows Pharrell Williams’ hat, and passes it around collecting money for the pizza she ordered earlier.  Kevin Spacey fronts up the most.  Brad Pitt puts some in.  “Twenty?” Ellen enquires.  “You were in two pictures…”

Robert DeNiro and Penelope Cruz take to the stage to present the screenplay categories.

 

Best Adapted Screenplay

Before Midnight (Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke)

Captain Phillips (Billy Ray)

Philomena (Steve Coogan, Jeff Pope)

12 Years a Slave (John Ridley) *WINNER*

The Wolf of Wall Street (Terence Winter)

 

Best Original Screenplay

American Hustle (Eric Warren Singer, David O. Russell)

Blue Jasmine (Woody Allen)

Dallas Buyers Club (Craig Borten, Melisa Wallack)

Her (Spike Jonze) *WINNER*

Nebraska (Bob Nelson)

 

Spike Jonze gets a standing ovation as he makes his acceptance speech.

Angelina Jolie and Sidney Poitier take to the stage.  Poitier gets a standing ovation.  They are here to present Best Director.

 

Best Directing

American Hustle (David O. Russell)

Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón) *WINNER*

Nebraska (Alexander Payne)

12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen)

The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese)

 

Daniel Day Lewis arrives to announce the nominees for Best Actress.

 

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Amy Adams (American Hustle)

Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine) *WINNER*

Sandra Bullock (Gravity)

Judi Dench (Philomena)

Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)

 

Jennifer Lawrence arrives and doesn’t fall over – a miracle! She’s here to present Best Actor.

 

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Christian Bale (American Hustle)

Bruce Dern (Nebraska)

Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street)

Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)

Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club) *WINNER*

 

Will Smith is here to deliver the big award of the night.  Here we go – which film has it?

 

Best Picture

American Hustle

Captain Phillips

Dallas Buyers Club

Gravity

Her

Nebraska

Philomena

12 Years a Slave *WINNER*

The Wolf of Wall Street

 

So that’s it!  What a great ceremony this year.  Ellen rocks – they need to bring her back – some truly wonderful moments – the best in years.  See you all in 2015!  Happy OSCAR© Night, Everyone!

 

For a great photo gallery of pictures from the ceremony, visit:

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/gallery/photos-oscars-2014-best-worst-685146#related-galleries

The Story of the OSCARS© Pizza Delivery Guy:

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/oscars-pizza-delivery-guy-gets-685657