Oscar Predictions Part 4: Directors

Martin Scorcese has been waiting for his Oscar for Best Director a long time now – most would say too long – in what must be the most prestigious category at the Academy Awards. An Oscar for directing does not generally come from one amazing film, they normally have to be earnt from outstanding films and nominations over many years. This year presents us with just two directors who have previously been up for the award so all eyes should probably be on them.

Full article

Lady Vengeance
7

  • Park Chan-Wook
  • 2006

Park Chan-Wook is probably the hottest name in world cinema right now. The South Korean director made it big in his own country with the record-breaking Joint Security Area in 2000, an engaging effort about the no man’s land between the two very different Koreas. He then began his revenge trilogy in 2002 with Sympathy for Mr Vengeance, before astonishing the world (and collecting a Palme D’Or at Cannes) for his next offering, 2004’s Old Boy, a film so original that critics and fans the world over immediately split their popcorn and sat up sharply in their seats.

Full article

Oscar Predictions Part 3: Actresses

A male star dominated selection of movies up for Best Picture means that it is in the individual awards that the women have to really shine. The result is that many of the films featuring the nominees do not have the high profile that has seen others on the mouths of moviegoers and critics alike. The winners will likely be those from that highly acclaimed and hugely popular group, but the Academy may have a surprise or two once those ballot forms are counted…

Full article

Final Destination 3
4

  • James Wong
  • 2006

The film series with the inventive grisly deaths returns for a third outing, this time involving a group of high school students who cheat death by not riding a rollercoaster that subsequently crashes and kills their classmates. Soon death comes knocking at each survivor’s door — in the order they were sitting on the ride.

Full article

Munich
5

  • Steven Spielberg
  • 2006

Munich is in bare basics, a hit-man film, and a relatively bog standard one that has somehow achieved credibility through veiling itself in some kind of historical and political significance. Spielberg is undoubtedly one of the most successful directors in Hollywood, regularly overtaking the golden $100 million in the box office, usually as a result of his predilection for High Concept storylines that can be written on the back of your hand and quickly and simply absorbed by the masses.

Full article

Oscar Predictions Part 2: Actors

There are few Hollywood heavyweights up for the acting honours this year leaving it quite an open race in theory. However, on closer inspection there are very clear leaders in both fields. Whoever wins can expect a massive boost to their film careers as international stars and a pick of the best roles at least in the short term.

Full article

Walk The Line
8

  • James Mangold
  • 2005

John R. ‘Johnny’ Cash is one of the biggest figures in the history of popular music and the biopic Walk The Line from director James Mangold (Cop Land (1997) and Girl, Interrupted (1999)) offers all the highs and lows of the most spectacular emotional rollercoaster, with both Johnny Cash’s rise from farmland to stardom, and the twisted love story of Cash (Joaquin Phoenix) and June Carter (Reese Witherspoon) put to screen to great effect.

Full article

A Cock and Bull Story
9

  • Michael Winterbottom
  • 2005

Director Michael Winterbottom is not one to shy away from the unconventional or unexpected, in fact you could say that to expect anything apart from something different when a new Winterbottom project is announced is slightly misguided. And after David Cronenberg’s The Naked Lunch (1991) and Terry Gilliam’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) among others, Winterbottom has now turned his hand to putting a classic ‘un-filmable’ novel to celluloid, in this case Laurence Sterne’s canonical The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman.

Full article

March of the Penguins
7

  • Luc Jeunet
  • 2005

Its nature-documentary format allowed it to travel from its native France to a worldwide audience, on a journey far longer than that of its protagonists, with different narrators recording commentaries for different countries. The English-speaking world was treated to the gentle, soothing tones of Morgan Freeman — a choice which complimented the film perfectly.

Full article

Oscar Predictions Part 1: Best Picture

Without an out-and-out crowd-pleaser such as past winners Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Peter Jackson, 2003) or Gladiator (Ridley Scott, 2000) it will be interesting to see how the Academy votes this year.

Full article

Brokeback Mountain
9

  • Ang Lee
  • 2005

It is a film in which every scene and sequence has meaning and every moment counts towards a later revelation or character motivation. Attention has been drawn to its central love affair between two men, but to allow that to preclude any judgement on the film would be to attribute controversies which needn’t exist. Rather, this is a superb rendering of a time and a place through image and thematic recollection.

Full article

Russian Ark
7

  • Aleksandr Sokurov
  • 2002

What follows is a biopic of around three epochs from the seventeenth century onwards. There are portrayals of some ceremonies that occured during their respective epoch, and every prolific character that had a say in the bizarre history of Tsarist Russia and beyond is featured

Full article

Fun With Dick and Jane
5

  • Dean Parisot
  • 2006

This remake of a George Segal/Jane Fonda caper film of the same name sees a yuppie American couple turn to crime to fund their high-spending lifestyle when they lose their jobs. Step up Jim Carrey and Tea Leoni to fill the roles of Dick and Jane Harper in what becomes a generally enjoyable comedy, even if it is short on morals and clarity of focus.

Full article

Underworld: Evolution
4

  • Len Wiseman
  • 2006

Vampires and werewolfs: are they really an exciting subject for movies? Well, if they are Nosferatu (F.W. Murnau, 1922) or An American Werewolf in London (John Landis, 1981) then maybe so. If a filmmaker can be bothered to inject some life into the characters and make us care about them then bring me a library full.

Full article

Jarhead
6

  • Sam Mendes
  • 2006

The pointlessness of war is a continuing debate with the war on terrorism and calls for troops to pull out of Iraq. With Jarhead, the first film to deal with the Gulf War, that debate is foregrounded with a groups of fresh-faced marines signing up and being shipped off a desert war with nothing for them to kill.

Full article

Memoirs of a Geisha
5

  • Rob Marshall
  • 2006

After the huge success of directing Oscar-winner Chicago (2003), former choreographer Rob Marshall returns with a period drama that demands more than just a series of scenes tied together with elaborate dance routines.

Full article

Just Like Heaven
4

  • Mark Waters
  • 2005

Love does not get any more sugar coated than Just Like Heaven, a sickly sweet tale of in the vein of Ghost (Jerry Zucker, 1990). David Abbott (Mark Ruffalo) moves into his new flat with the hope he can wallow in his own depressive life. Sadly for him, former tenant Elizabeth Masterson (Reese Witherspoon) thinks she still lives there

Full article

Hostel
2

  • Eli Roth
  • 2006

The first thing that needs to be made clear about Eli Roth’s Hostel is that it is not a horror film; it is a torture film, teetering on the border of being a snuff film. To quote every bad review of a scary movie ever written, “The only truly frightening thing about this movie is that it was made.”

Full article

Running Scared
6

  • Wayne Kramer
  • 2006

Astonishing in its sheer jaw-dropping randomness, Wayne Kramer’s follow-up to The Cooler (2003) is one of the most violent films in recent years. Scrapping an intriguing premise in favour of pointless confrontations and wild plot divergences, it nevertheless casts an almost supernatural spell.

Full article

Match Point
7

  • Woody Allen
  • 2006

Match Point, in the hands of many other directors, could easily have devolved into another Fatal Attraction (Adrian Lyne, 1987) style knock off. Crucially, however, this is a Woody Allen film and like it or not, it has to be noticed. Already, a lot of reviews have derided the film. They have predictably stated that Allen should stick to comedies forgetting that he actually has been churning out comedies almost exclusively since the early 2000s and nobody has really noticed.

Full article

Tom yum goong (Warrior King)
8

  • Prachya Pinkaew
  • 2005

Director Prachya Pinkaew and up and coming martial arts superstar Tony Jaa, join fists once again to bring you more of the same in Tom yum goong, the unofficial sequel to Ong-Bak (2003). This time Jaa plays Kham, a young fighter from Thailand who has been lifelong friends with two elephants, a mother and its calf.

Full article

King Kong
9

  • Peter Jackson
  • 2005

King Kong is not to be missed on the big screen and is marvelous entertainment that cements Jackson’s status as one of the top directors working in Hollywood today.

Full article

The Producers
2

  • Susan Stroman
  • 2005

The Producers could have been an enjoyable comedy romp if Stroman had directed with a little imagination and told her leads to lay off whatever high-energy drink they had been sipping between takes.

Full article

Flightplan
4

  • Robert Schwentke
  • 2005

Three years ago, in Foster’s last major film role, she starred as a single parent trying to protect her daughter from thieves in Panic Room (David Fincher, 2002). It is surprising, then, that she returns to the big screen with such a similar role

Full article