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Oscars 2019: What we learned

Oscars 2019: What we learned

Whatever you think about the Oscars, there’s always something to be learned from them. Last night was no exception: there was the usual number of sure-fire wins mixed with a few shocks that leave us scratching our heads. Here’s our take on what happened at the Oscars 2019…

  • The big news of the night was the surprise win of GREEN BOOK for Best Picture. This may not have been the most competitive year for this category, but stacked up against films like BLACKKKLANSMAN and ROMA, it’s still not what we expected. Justin Chang of the Los Angeles Times even went so far as to call it “the worse best Picture winner since Crash“. Ouch. But the main thing to take from this? ROMA might have been the favorite on the night (rather than THE FAVOURITE… okay, it’s a bit confusing) but the Academy isn’t ready to give highest honors to a Netflix film just yet. The big studios continue to guard their territory.
  • Spike Lee finally has an Oscar, winning Best Adapted Screenplay for BLACKKKLANSMAN. When it comes to films about race, the Oscars have generally favored less hard-edged material than Lee makes, so at first glance, this looks like it could indicate a shift for film’s biggest awards ceremony. However, that’s all kind of cancelled out because…
  • The winner for Best Original Screenplay also went to GREEN BOOK, which has come in for a lot of criticism for perpetuating the “white savior” trope and couldn’t be more of an opposite to BLACKKKLANSMAN if it tried. Take a look at that article from Chang and you’ll see why it’s so confusing that the two screenplay awards went to these two films. On the one hand, a film that takes an intense, no-holds barred look at racism – on the other, a film that deals with it through a feel-good story. One thing is clear – Hollywood still hasn’t figured out how it wants to deal with this kind of subject matter.
  • Away from the main controversies, superhero stories are starting to gain some traction at awards ceremonies to go with their popular appeal, with BLACK PANTHER picking up three awards and SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE winning Best Animated Feature. This is where the real money is right now – and it looks like there’s even the possibility of picking up some nice shiny awards to go with it.
  • On a similar note, BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY took home four awards. Even though the only big one here was for Rami Malek’s performance as Freddie Mercury, it’s a surprise to see a film that got mixed reviews from critics fare so well at the Oscars. Is the Academy really becoming more democratized to reflect popular opinion? We’ll have to wait and see how next year unfolds…

From a screenwriting perspective, the main thing here is the confusion of seeing two totally contrasting films take home the awards for Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay. Here at WriteMovies, we’ll be keeping a close eye on this, with several of our past winners – such as BLACKOUT.COM by Ruben Bush III dealing with this kind of subject matter.

The Oscars 2019 may not have had the drama of the wrong winner being announced for Best Picture like a couple of years ago, but they’ve certainly given us a lot of food for thought…

Why write or make a short film? – A guide by Ian Kennedy

Why write or make a short film? – A guide by Ian Kennedy

Feature films tend to get most of the glory among filmmakers, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore short film as a medium! In a new series of Insights articles, Ian Kennedy looks at the benefits of writing in this format.

There’s a reason there’s not just one but two categories for shorts at the Oscars: one for live-action and another for animated. They can be a great way of telling stories that a lot of filmmakers overlook – and that includes writers!

So why write a script for a short film? Why get one made? Well, there are actually quite a few good reasons…

 

  • You’ve got an idea for story that doesn’t suit feature length – sometimes, even the best concept can’t be spun out into a longer screenplay! That doesn’t have to a negative, though. Use the opportunity to tell the story in short form instead.
  • To improve your skills by writing under constraint. All writing is done under constraint of some kind – of format, style, etc. – but the additional restrictions of length and budget with short film can be a great chance to prove yourself. Learning to write under constraint can actually be a great way to improve your writing!
  • As proof of concept for a feature film. Making feature films is an expensive business, so why not show how well your idea works by making a short based on the same idea?
  • To get a production credit. Getting a script produced can take hard work, but if you’ve already got a track record in short films, it can look great on your writing CV and give producer’s faith in your abilities.
  • As a personal project – just because you love your idea or are passionate about filmmaking! Be careful, though; if you’re making a short film for personal reasons, make sure that everyone on the production knows what your motives are.

Making a short film brings all sorts of challenges of its own. You’ll still need a unique concept, a well-structured story, and characters that audiences can fall in love with – but you’ve got to get it all into a much smaller space! That’s why it can be such a great test of your skills as a storyteller.

Whatever your reasons for making a short film, make sure you know exactly what they are before you begin, whether you want to use it to take the next step in your career or just because you’ve got a story you’re desperate to tell!

Take a look at our other Writing Insights articles here for great hints and tips on crafting your scripts!

 

2018 Oscars Reaction

2018 Oscars Reaction

Another glamorous Academy Awards ceremony, and while there weren’t huge surprises, there was a brilliant unifying message that ran through the entire night… Here’s our 2018 Oscars reaction… by Jamie White.

Looking at the winners, everything seemed to fit into place. THE SHAPE OF WATER took home Best Director and Best Picture (which we predicted, by the way) as well as two further awards. Gary Oldman won for his excellent, but kinda Oscar-baity, performance as Winston Churchill, and the Pixar film COCO won the “Pixar Award”, also known as “Best Animated Feature”… There weren’t that many shocks at all, if any, but this year was an enjoyable, albeit lengthy, watch.

Special congratulations to our pal Habib Zargarpour who got a mention in the winning speech from the BLADE RUNNER: 2049 crew after they won “Best Visual Effects”. A brilliant visual achievement from everyone involved in that film, and we’re so happy for Habib!

The night as a whole can be summed up wonderfully by the “Best Actress” win for Frances McDormand. Again, not a particularly surprising result, but a stunningly rousing speech. McDormand asked for her fellow female creatives – actors, directors, producers, costume designers, sound mixers, editors, everyone – to stand up and take some much-deserved applause. This summed up the brilliant message of unity, diversity and celebrating “minority” creatives – a message that was a motif of the night and was reflected by the winners themselves.

Sure, Pixar got it usual and expected win, but COCO was a great view on Mexican culture. Guillermo del Toro’s Best Director win was another celebration for Mexico on the night. And, of course, there was a momentous win for GET OUT and Jordan Peele for “Best Original Screenplay”.

Perhaps the most relevant speech for writers came from Peele himself. Peele stated that he stopped writing, and kept going back to, GET OUT about 20 times! He never gave up on his passion project. He always believed that if and when this project got made it would make a difference – that it would mean something. And boy was he right! Take this as some inspiration for your own work, your own passion project. Don’t ever give up on that one story, that one script that you truly love…

So, all in all, a great night with diverse winners, and a nice sharing of awards between the nominees – no film took home more than four awards (THE SHAPE OF WATER won there, too.) And once again, Jimmy Kimmel was a surprisingly good host…

Congrats to all the winners – bring on this year’s films!

© WriteMovies 2017. Exclusive to WriteMovies – To syndicate this content for your own publication, contact ian (at) writemovies dot-com.

2018 Oscars Best Picture Prediction

2018 Oscars Best Picture Prediction

We hear there’s some big awards ceremony at the weekend? Well, here’s our 2018 Oscars Best Picture prediction and Best Director prediction for this year… By Jamie White.

Best Picture and Director

We’re doing something a little different here… It’s very rare that the Best Picture winner is not accompanied by Best Director, especially since the turn of the century. A Best Picture-Director split has only happened 7 times since the year 2000. And, hell, we’re confident enough that there won’t be a split this year.

So, we’re looking at the 5 Best Director nominees and picking our winner for BOTH Best Picture and Director – we’re that confident!

The nominees are…
“Dunkirk,” Christopher Nolan
“Get Out,” Jordan Peele
“Lady Bird,” Greta Gerwig
“Phantom Thread,” Paul Thomas Anderson
“The Shape of Water,” Guillermo del Toro

Now, I think we can rule out DUNKIRK almost immediately. It has some recognition in categories like Cinematography and Editing, but we don’t think that’s enough for a win for Chris Nolan’s WWII epic.

The remaining four choices makes for a difficult decision – any four of these films and directors could win either category, but we just can’t see one of these directors winning and their corresponding film lucking out. So, we have to make a decision.

And we’re going with THE SHAPE OF WATER and Del Toro. For us, PHANTOM THREAD is a great film, but we don’t think Anderson has the same impact on his film as Del Toro. The same can really be said for LADY BIRD, in our opinion.

GET OUT is the main contender to Del Toro and SHAPE OF WATER, but we have to pick one winner (well, two…), and the magic of THE SHAPE OF WATER that Del Toro has transpired from other films of his such as PAN’S LABYRINTH makes it our favorite for the Oscar race.

Agree with our predictions or not? Let us now on Twitter and Facebook!

If you’re hungry for more winners, check out our Semi-Finalists announcement this Friday, then the TV and Book Awards winners the Friday after that!

© WriteMovies 2017. Exclusive to WriteMovies – To syndicate this content for your own publication, contact ian (at) writemovies dot-com.

Oscars Predictions: Best Actors and Actresses

Oscars Predictions: Best Actors and Actresses

We continue our Oscars prediction by looking at the big guns in the acting categories…
By Jamie White.

The glitz and the glamour of the Oscars really comes alive when we get to the main acting categories. These categories are arguably the most entertaining and interesting for the general audience, and this year interesting is the right word!

Best Actor

Timothée Chalamet, “Call Me by Your Name”
Daniel Day-Lewis, “Phantom Thread”
Daniel Kaluuya, “Get Out”
Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”
Denzel Washington, “Roman J. Israel, Esq.”

This category seems pretty straight forward, to be honest – even with Daniel Day-Lewis involved!

DARKEST HOUR is one of the most blatant examples of an Oscar-bait film we’ve seen since… well LA LA LAND. Hollywood loves movies about Hollywood, after all. But, Churchill just seems like a character that someone would win an Oscar for playing. It’s about time Gary Oldman got one, too.

This category does seem to already be over, and it reminds us of the time Leo won his Oscar – the joke about him never winning was running thin, and the same can be said for Oldman. It would be a genuine shock if Oldman didn’t win this.

Best Actress

Sally Hawkins, “The Shape of Water”
Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Margot Robbie, “I, Tonya”
Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”
Meryl Streep, “The    Post”

Now this category seems more like it! And again, we don’t think the Oscar nominee stalwart in this group (sorry, Meryl!) is gonna come out on top.

For us, we see this as a three-way stand-off between McDormand, Robbie, and Ronan. McDormand is definitely the front-runner, and rightly so. And if the love for McDormand at the BAFTAs is anything to go by, this should be as much a walkover as the male category should be for Oldman.

But for some reason our very own John Sullivan has  this voice in the back of his head saying “It’s Margot’s time!” Similar wins have happened in the recent past (see Jennifer Lawrence and Emma Stone). But, maybe another year, John. This time we’re gonna overrule you! McDormand all the way for us.

Agree with our predictions or not? Let us know on Twitter and Facebook! Next we look at the big one – Best Picture!

© WriteMovies 2017. Exclusive to WriteMovies – To syndicate this content for your own publication, contact ian (at) writemovies dot-com.

2018 Oscars Predictions: Supporting Actors and Actresses

2018 Oscars Predictions: Supporting Actors and Actresses

2018 Oscars Predictions: Supporting Actors and Actresses. By Jamie White.

The supporting actors categories don’t’ always get the recognition they deserve. They’re sometimes overlooked because the main acting category gets SO much attention. But this year may be the most interesting and competitive supporting acting categories yet… here’s our 2018 Oscars predictions for the Supporting Actors categories…

Supporting Actor

Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project”
Woody Harrelson, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Richard Jenkins, “The Shape of Water”
Christopher Plummer, “All the Money in the World”
Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Five great actors with nominations in a category so competitive it sees two actors from the same film challenging each other!

And in truth, it would be a bit of a shock if THREE BILLBOARDS didn’t see one of its stars win out here. Both Harrelson and Rockwell were excellent performers in this masterpiece.

To choose one is difficult, though. But considering the critical buzz about his performance and his BAFTAs success last night, we’re leaning towards Rockwell taking this little gold man home.

Supporting Actress

Mary J. Blige, “Mudbound”
Allison Janney, “I, Tonya”
Lesley Manville, “Phantom Thread”
Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”
Octavia Spencer, “The Shape of Water”

As if it couldn’t get any harder to predict a winner…

A truly outstanding group of nominees here, including Octavia Spencer who is now tied for most Oscar nominations for a black actress (tying with Viola Davis). But while we love THE SHAPE OF WATE and Guillermo Del Toro, the film’s acting isn’t it’s strongest suit.

We see this category as another two-way head-to-head, this time between Allison Janney and Laurie Metcalf – and once again, it almost hurts to pick a winner here!

But we will – and we’ll give it to Metcalf. Despite missing out to Janney at the Globes, we think this will be Metcalf’s night for her astounding performance in LADY BIRD.

Agree with our predictions or not? Let us know on Twitter and Facebook! Next we’ll look at the main acting categories…

© WriteMovies 2017. Exclusive to WriteMovies – To syndicate this content for your own publication, contact ian (at) writemovies dot-com.

WriteMovies Oscars Nominees Reaction – Original Screenplay

WriteMovies Oscars Nominees Reaction – Original Screenplay

WriteMovies Oscars Nominees Reaction: Original Screenplay – The Original Screenplay category is where we have a couple of big hitters come into play… GET OUT and THE SHAPE OF WATER will be the big favorites for this category – and rightly so. Both are outstanding pieces that deserve some recognition in this category.

But let’s not forget the other three. THE BIG SICK, LADY BIRD, and THREE BILLBOARDS are all strong in their own right, and LADY BIRD in particular could challenge the big two in this category.

What is particularly interesting in this category is that THE BIG SICK is the only film that does not have its writer(s) also directing, while Jordan Peele, Guillermo del Toro, and Greta Gerwig have all received directorial nominations, respectively. This category is so difficult to call – and that’s just great! John and Jamie will try and call it anyway, though…

Predictions

John: Well, well, well… what a toughie! I don’t think there will be a surprise here, though. I’m going for GET OUT here.

Jamie: As much as I love del Toro, I think GET OUT or LADY BIRD will take this. And because I think del Toro will take Directing, Peele will get this as a “consolation”.

© WriteMovies 2017. Exclusive to WriteMovies – To syndicate this content for your own publication, contact ian (at) writemovies dot-com.