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Posts tagged ‘Alfonso Cuaron’

“Roma” Wins Big at New York Film Critics; Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography

Alfonso Cauron’s masterpiece just won Best Picture and Best Director at the New York Film Critics this afternoon. His scintillating Black and White cinematography won that award, too. Ethan Hawke won Best Actor for “First Reformed” and Paul Schrader won for his screenplay. “First Reformed” also scored in these categories at the Gotham Awards.

For  a full list of the winners go to

http://www.awardsdaily.com

“Roma” One the Best Films You’ll Ever See

This year I saw one of the best films I’ll ever see, bar none, and it was the NYFF centerpiece film “Roma.” Mexican Oscar-winning(director for “Gravity)Alfonso Cuaron has done the seemingly impossible follow-up to that intergalactic magisterial feature. He has turned the camera inward and backward. To his childhood in Mexico City. And he’s done it in Black and White! And it is without a doubt one of the best films of the year and one of the best films I’ll ever see. Ever.
The most unlikely of subjects, the inner(and outer) life of a maid, the brilliant Yalitza Aparicio. She has never acted before and she just takes your breath away as Cleo. The put-upon, multliple-dutied nanny, housekeeper, laundress and mother of the earth. She really is the glue that is holding this upper-middle class doctor’s family together as they seem to be falling apart. 
Her story is galvanic, epic and heart-breaking and Aparicio embodies everything that is noble and good in 1970 Mexico, which is a scene of almost constant class conflict and wars. You know Cleo is more than capable of the humble, quotidian of chores she is tasked to do, but where else can she go? She clings to her menial job as if it were a pair of well-worn rosary beads. She prays for her hired family and we pray for her to transcend their problems, as they treat her and mistreat her, as all servants are treated. You know if she loses this job, with this her adopted family, she will lose her life.

Yalitza Aparicio could and should get nominated for Best Actress, as Cuaron certainly will be for Best Director. He also wrote the screenplay. He also shot it. He also co-produced it and co-edited it. And every gorgeous black and white shot should be framed as a work of art, even though he is photographing the most ordinary things.

Cuaron had a nanny Lebo, and that’s who Cleo is based on. And when he showed the completed film to her, she burst into tears, as I did watching it. This film is a love poem to her. And to all mothers and unselfish care-givers. To tell you any more of the plot, of what happens to Cleo, as it all rings so true, it hurts. It would spoil it.  It will break your heart. “Roma,” the name of the area of Mexico City the film is set in, in simply the best film he’s ever done, and a masterpiece.

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“Gravity”s Cuaron wins DGA

I hoped it wouldn’t happen, but it did.Alphonso Cuaron, the director of “Gravity,” won the very important DGA award last night in Hollywood. Over Steve McQueen’s greater achievement IMHO “12 Years a Slave.” Usually that means a lot but in this split, competitive Year of Years, it may mean that the effects-laden Sci Fi thriller MAY win best director at the Oscars, more than a month away in March. But still not win Best Picture, which would go to “12 Years a Slave.” I have to note that these two titans of filmdom have been duking it out since Toronto, which I find ironic. It’s like if you don’t open at TIFF, fawgedabawdit. And that’s also where I first saw the both of them, in unforgettable screenings at TIFF’13.

Those are five VERY long weeks from now, and the ballots don’t go out to the AMPAS voters for quite a while yet, in Oscar terms, that’s dog years away. And it gives the Academy time to THINK. No. It really does. There’s no impulse, knee-jerk voting going to happen this year, with the Sochi Olympics taking up more TV time than ever. Between this last big gasp from the Industry’s usually all-important guilds, and the receiving of their ballots in the mail and now online, too around President’s Day Weekend. That’s a long, cold Oscar March until March when the Awards are actually handed out.

Now granted “Gravity” is an astounding technical feat, and will probably win all the technical awards, maybe even as many as seven from the below-the-line categories. But maybe it won’t. And instead of rewarding the one woman in this astounding visual tour-de-force, Sandra Bullock, award after award has been going to the amiable Mexican director Cuaron. And now this.

That’s a lot of Oscars right there. But not one for Sandra it seems. Best Actress is going to Cate Blanchett who is the lock of locks in that category for Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine.”

So even if Cuaron DOES win Best Director, voters may feel that “Gravity” has had enough already and give the top prize to “12 Years a Slave.” So there’s that SPLIT again. Which certainly looks like it could happen.

It happened at the Golden Globes where “12 YAS” won Best Picture and “Gravity” got Best Director. Ditto the Broadcast Film Critics awards. Then the TIE vote from the usually authoritative PGA, the Producer’s Guild, between “Gravity” and “12 Years a Slave.”

But “Gravity” for all it’s technical wonders is an actors nightmare. If this is the future, “Gravity” shows them that there is only ONE actor in it.

Huge epic blockbusters may get close, but they don’t usually win. See “E.T.” v “Gandhi” back in the day. I was always plunking for “Gandhi” even then.(Yes, I’ve been doing Oscar prognosticating THAT long!) or more recently the tiny “Hurt Locker” defeating the huge mega-millions jackpot that was “Avatar” although “THL” won Best Director AND Best Film, for the first time ever woman director winner Kathryn Bigelow over her big bully of an ex, who nobody liked anyway, James Cameron.

This year, I’m still betting that this proLONGed break between now and the voting gives people time to think “Which is REALLY the more important film?” which is in their parlance “An Academy film?” And you’ve got to admit, “Gravity has NO gravitas.

But “12 Years a Slave” does, in spades. Serious social history writ large, taking on the most challenging issue in American history, race, in terms of the worst atrocity Americans have ever perpetuated on other Americans = slavery. And doing it brilliantly on every level.

And oh yes, BAFTA happens in the middle of this prolonged Month of Oscar Silence, where, I predict “12 Years” will win EVERYTHING it’s nominated for, including Best Director, Steve McQueen, whom we must not forget is British.

And a respected fine artist there in the U.K. before he turned into a master film-maker.

Also, nominated there are Chiwetel Ejiofor for Best Actor and Michael Fassbender for Best Supporting Actor, and last but not least, Lupita Nyong’O who is now the front-runner for Best Supporting Actress.

So basically my take is the “Gravity”s Big Win is not going to change things much at all. In the end.

“12 Years a Slave” & “Gravity” historic TIE at PGA!!!

Sh Christmas

In an historic moment, “Gravity” and “12 Years a Slave” TIED for Best Picture at the PGA moments ago! It’s being held in LA and is not televised, but thanks to the ever-wonderful Sasha Stone, at http://www.Awardsdaily.com we all got the news like a bolt of lightning, striking down from the skies!

NEVER BEFORE have films directed by a Hispanic and a Black man, Alphonso Cuaron and Steve McQueen ever had films that won Best Picture at the PGA, the Producer’s Guild, considered the most important of Oscar bellwethers. Or is it this year, we’ve got TWO WINNERS?!?!?

This effectively knocks “American Hustle” out of the picture race and into a cocked hat, which is where it should be. Kicked to the curb with the rest of the garbage.

But I can say that “Gravity” is an astounding technical achievement. Best use of 3-D EVAH! But “12 Years a Slave” is a masterpiece of classic story telling. And the next big awards avalanche comes at BAFTA, where “12 Years a Slave” will sweep, the leading talents being all Brits director Steve McQueen, and leading actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, as well as Irishman Michael Fassbender in Supporting and Kenyan beauty Lupita Nyong’o, who has been winning right along this past weekend.

This is incredible news for Fox Searchlight and  “12 Years a Slave”. Even if it ties on Oscar night, it still wins!

CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Correct pronunciations of “12 Years a Slave” and “Butler” stars’ names…

I mean this as a public service.

It’s CHEW-we-tell EDGE-ee-a-for

Chiwetel Ejiafor.

The “J” is not silent as I thought for awhile it was.

AD-a-pero OH-doo-yay. Adepero Oduye, the terrific star of “Pariah” who plays Eliza, the also kidnapped freewoman-turned-slave, who has her two children taken from her in one of the films most wrenching stories, RIGHT AT THE BEGINNING of the film.

LU-peet-ah Ne-YOUNG-go. Lupita Nyong’o. The brilliant young actress who is making her debut as Patsie, the most abused slave of them all. And the most heart-breaking. Who might just steal the Oscar from Oprah. For Best Supporting Actress. She’ll steal your heart, that’s for sure.

David OH- YELLOW-WOE. David Oyelowo. Of “The Butler” All syllables equally stressed.

Hope this is helpful in the upcoming Oscar Conversation 2013.

Oh, and Alfonso Cuaron, the director of “Gravity“s last name is pronounced KWA-roan. As if the “Cu” were a “qu”.

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