Film review – Manchester By The Sea (Kenneth Lonergan, 2017)

Manchester By The Sea is by no stretch of the imagination a happy film. That it was advertised in some channels as a comedy is beyond me. It’s a bleak look into one man’s struggles with his past during a particularly depressing period of his life, and I’m not sure that there was a particularly happy ending to it either. But it is absolutely deserving of its plaudits, and the results are both effecting and memorable.

WARNING! The next paragraph spoils the first twenty minutes or so of the plot, but only really covers what is in the trailer. If you don’t want to have anything ruined then just stop reading and simply watch a film that deserves your time.

The story, in a nutshell, is about Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck), a single man in a dead-end handyman job with no semblance of positivity for his or anyone else’s life. His brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) dies young due to a heart condition, forcing him to return home to Manchester, Massachusetts to sort out the funeral arrangements and look after his son Patrick (Lucas Hedges). However, he soon finds out that he has been named the sole legal guardian for Patrick, forcing him to take on unwanted responsibilities and confront his past relationship with former wife Randi (Michelle Williams).

Affleck’s performance is well-balanced and measured. It’s a role that doesn’t call for any big movements, and the beauty of it is in the understated reactions to the huge changes going on in his life. He is almost dead to life itself, so his reaction to his brother’s death or his new found responsibilities are equally lacking in emotion. A worse actor would have ruined the film, yet he brings the whole story to life. Kenneth Lonergan has a lot to thank him for.

The music is brilliantly effective. Lesley Barr has worked wonders with her fantastic score, her first in five years since 2011’s The Moth Diaries. There’s a great interview with her over at The Muse, in an article by Bobby Finger, which is well worth reading. It’s a shame it was deemed ineligible available for an Academy Award nomination.

There has been a bubble of negativity towards Casey Affleck that surrounds his personal life. He has been accused of physical abuse against two women working alongside him on the film I’m Still Here – Cinematographer Magdalena Gorka and producer Amanda White. Affleck denied any wrongdoing but settled both claims out of court in 2010. 

Many sections of the press clearly think there’s a lot of truth in the stories. There seems to be a media-led unspoken rule about how much time people in the film industry must live in penance until the world forgives them again. Mel Gibson has seemingly served his time now following his controversies with his ex, Russian pianist Oksana Grigorieva, but it seems we are all permitted to enjoy Hacksaw Ridge, even though The Beaver was a brilliantly-bizarre turn that came at the wrong time of his career and has been largely ignored as a result.

Should we rise above the noise and embrace Casey Affleck? Well, the Academy certainly thinks so, as do the Golden Globes and BAFTA, all three of whom awarded him a Best Actor prize.

In isolation, there is no doubt that Affleck has brought to life a wonderful story and put in one of the best turns of his career. If you can live with and forget about the settled accusations, you’ll be rewarded.

BAFTA Awards 2017 – Full list of winners

Winner – LA LA LAND Fred Berger, Jordan Horowitz, Marc Platt
ARRIVAL Dan Levine, Shawn Levy, David Linde, Aaron Ryder
I, DANIEL BLAKE Rebecca O’Brien
MANCHESTER BY THE SEA Lauren Beck, Matt Damon, Chris Moore, Kimberly Steward, Kevin J. Walsh
MOONLIGHT Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Adele Romanski

Winner – LA LA LAND Damien Chazelle
ARRIVAL Denis Villeneuve

Winner – CASEY AFFLECK Manchester by the Sea
JAKE GYLLENHAAL Nocturnal Animals
VIGGO MORTENSEN Captain Fantastic

Winner – EMMA STONE La La Land
EMILY BLUNT The Girl on the Train
MERYL STREEP Florence Foster Jenkins

Winner – DEV PATEL Lion
HUGH GRANT Florence Foster Jenkins
JEFF BRIDGES Hell or High Water

Winner – VIOLA DAVIS Fences
MICHELLE WILLIAMS Manchester by the Sea

Winner – MANCHESTER BY THE SEA Kenneth Lonergan
HELL OR HIGH WATER Taylor Sheridan
I, DANIEL BLAKE Paul Laverty
LA LA LAND Damien Chazelle
MOONLIGHT Barry Jenkins

Winner – LION Luke Davies
ARRIVAL Eric Heisserer
HACKSAW RIDGE Andrew Knight, Robert Schenkkan
HIDDEN FIGURES Theodore Melfi, Allison Schroeder

Winner – I, DANIEL BLAKE Ken Loach, Rebecca O’Brien, Paul Laverty
AMERICAN HONEY Andrea Arnold, Lars Knudsen, Pouya Shahbazian, Jay Van Hoy
DENIAL Mick Jackson, Gary Foster, Russ Krasnoff, David Hare
FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM David Yates, David Heyman, Steve Kloves, J.K. Rowling, Lionel Wigram
NOTES ON BLINDNESS Peter Middleton, James Spinney, Mike Brett, Jo-Jo Ellison, Steve Jamison
UNDER THE SHADOW Babak Anvari, Emily Leo, Oliver Roskill, Lucan Toh

Winner – Under the Shadow: BABAK ANVARI (Writer/Director), EMILY LEO, OLIVER ROSKILL, LUCAN TOH (Producers)
The Girl With All the Gifts: MIKE CAREY (Writer), CAMILLE GATIN (Producer)
The Hard Stop: GEORGE AMPONSAH (Writer/Director/Producer), DIONNE WALKER (Writer/Producer)
Notes on Blindness: PETER MIDDLETON (Writer/Director/Producer), JAMES SPINNEY (Writer/Director/Producer), JO-JO ELLISON (Producer)
The Pass: JOHN DONNELLY (Writer), BEN A. WILLIAMS (Director)

Winner – SON OF SAUL László Nemes, Gábor Sipos
DHEEPAN Jacques Audiard, Pascal Caucheteux
JULIETA Pedro Almodóvar, Agustín Almodóvar
MUSTANG Deniz Gamze Ergüven, Charles Gillibert
TONI ERDMANN Maren Ade, Janine Jackowski

Winner – 13th Ava DuVernay, Spencer Averick, Howard Barish
THE BEATLES: EIGHT DAYS A WEEK- THE TOURING YEARS Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, Scott Pascucci, Nigel Sinclair
THE EAGLE HUNTRESS Otto Bell, Stacey Reiss
NOTES ON BLINDNESS Peter Middleton, James Spinney
WEINER Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg

Winner – KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS Travis Knight
FINDING DORY Andrew Stanton
MOANA Ron Clements, John Musker
ZOOTROPOLIS Byron Howard, Rich Moore

Winner – LA LA LAND Justin Hurwitz
ARRIVAL Jóhann Jóhannsson
JACKIE Mica Levi
LION Dustin O’Halloran, Hauschka

Winner – LA LA LAND Linus Sandgren
ARRIVAL Bradford Young
LION Greig Fraser

Winner – HACKSAW RIDGE John Gilbert
ARRIVAL Joe Walker
LA LA LAND Tom Cross

DOCTOR STRANGE Charles Wood, John Bush
HAIL, CAESAR! Jess Gonchor, Nancy Haigh
LA LA LAND David Wasco, Sandy Reynolds-Wasco
NOCTURNAL ANIMALS Shane Valentino, Meg Everist

Winner – JACKIE Madeline Fontaine
ALLIED Joanna Johnston
LA LA LAND Mary Zophres

Winner – FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS J. Roy Helland, Daniel Phillips
DOCTOR STRANGE Jeremy Woodhead
NOCTURNAL ANIMALS Donald Mowat, Yolanda Toussieng
ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY Amanda Knight, Neal Scanlan, Lisa Tomblin

Winner – ARRIVAL Sylvain Bellemare, Claude La Haye, Bernard Gariépy Strobl
DEEPWATER HORIZON Dror Mohar, Mike Prestwood Smith, Wylie Stateman, Renee Tondelli, David Wyman
FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM Niv Adiri, Glenn Freemantle, Simon Hayes, Andy Nelson, Ian Tapp
HACKSAW RIDGE Peter Grace, Robert Mackenzie, Kevin O’Connell, Andy Wright
LA LA LAND Mildred Iatrou Morgan, Ai-Ling Lee, Steve A. Morrow, Andy Nelson

Winner – THE JUNGLE BOOK Robert Legato, Dan Lemmon, Andrew R. Jones, Adam Valdez
ARRIVAL Louis Morin
DOCTOR STRANGE Richard Bluff, Stephane Ceretti, Paul Corbould, Jonathan Fawkner
FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM Tim Burke, Pablo Grillo, Christian Manz, David Watkins
ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY Neil Corbould, Hal Hickel, Mohen Leo, John Knoll, Nigel Sumner

Winner – A LOVE STORY Khaled Gad, Anushka
THE ALAN DIMENSION Jac Clinch, Jonathan Harbottle, Millie Marsh
Kishani Naanayakkara, Elena Ruscombe-King
TOUGH Jennifer Zheng

Winner – HOME Shpat Deda, Afolabi Kuti, Daniel Mulloy, Scott O’Donnell
CONSUMED Richard John Seymour
MOUTH OF HELL Bart Gavigan, Samir Mehanovic, Ailie Smith, Michael Wilson
THE PARTY Farah Abushwesha, Emmet Fleming, Andrea Harkin, Conor MacNeill
STANDBY Jack Hannon, Charlotte Regan



Winner – CURZON

BAFTA Winners 2016 in full

Best film
Winner: The Revenant – Steve Golin, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Arnon Milchan, Mary Parent, Keith Redmon
The Big Short – Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Brad Pitt
Bridge of Spies – Kristie Macosko Krieger, Marc Platt, Steven Spielberg
Carol – Elizabeth Karlsen, Christine Vachon, Stephen Woolley
Spotlight – Steve Golin, Blye Pagon Faust, Nicole Rocklin, Michael Sugar

Winner: The Revenant – Alejandro G. Iñárritu
The Big Short – Adam Mckay
Bridge of Spies – Steven Spielberg
Carol – Todd Haynes
The Martian – Ridley Scott

Leading actor
Winner: Leonardo Dicaprio – The Revenant
Bryan Cranston – Trumbo
Eddie Redmayne – The Danish Girl
Matt Damon – The Martian
Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs

Leading actress
Winner: Brie Larson – Room
Alicia Vikander – The Danish Girl
Cate Blanchett – Carol
Maggie Smith – The Lady in the Van
Saoirse Ronan – Brooklyn

Supporting actor
Winner: Mark Rylance – Bridge of Spies
Benicio Del Toro – Sicario
Christian Bale – The Big Short
Idris Elba – Beasts of No Nation
Mark Ruffalo – Spotlight

Supporting actress
Winner: Kate Winslet – Steve Jobs
Alicia Vikander – Ex Machina
Jennifer Jason Leigh – The Hateful Eight
Julie Walters – Brooklyn
Rooney Mara – Carol

Outstanding British film
Winner: Brooklyn – John Crowley, Finola Dwyer, Amanda Posey, Nick Hornby
45 Years -Andrew Haigh, Tristan Goligher
Amy – Asif Kapadia, James Gay-Rees
The Danish Girl – Tom Hooper, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Anne Harrison, Gail Mutrux, Lucinda Coxon
Ex Machina – Alex Garland, Andrew Macdonald, Allon Reich
The Lobster – Yorgos Lanthimos, Ceci Dempsey, Ed Guiney, Lee Magiday, Efthimis Filippou

Outstanding debut by a British writer, director or producer
Winner: Naji Abu Nowar (Writer/Director) Rupert Lloyd (Producer) – Theeb
Alex Garland (Director) – Ex Machina
Debbie Tucker Green (Writer/Director) – Second Coming
Sean Mcallister (Director/Producer), Elhum Shakerifar (Producer) – A Syrian Love Story
Stephen Fingleton (Writer/Director) – The Survivalist

Film not in the English language
Winner: Wild Tales – Damián Szifron
The Assassin – Hou Hsiao-Hsien
Force Majeure – Ruben Östlund
Theeb – Naji Abu Nowar, Rupert Lloyd
Timbuktu – Abderrahmane Sissako

Winner: Amy – Asif Kapadia, James Gay-Rees
Cartel Land – Matthew Heineman, Tom Yellin
He Named Me Malala – Davis Guggenheim, Walter Parkes, Laurie Macdonald
Listen to Me Marlon – Stevan Riley, John Battsek, George Chignell, R.J. Cutler
Sherpa – Jennifer Peedom, Bridget Ikin, John Smithson

Animated film
Winner: Inside Out – Pete Docter
Minions – Pierre Coffin, Kyle Balda
Shaun the Sheep Movie – Mark Burton, Richard Starzak

Original screenplay
Winner: Spotlight – Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer
Bridge of Spies – Matthew Charman, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Ex Machina – Alex Garland
The Hateful Eight – Quentin Tarantino
Inside Out – Josh Cooley, Pete Docter, Meg Lefauve

Adapted screenplay
Winner: The Big Short – Adam Mckay, Charles Randolph
Brooklyn – Nick Hornby
Carol – Phyllis Nagy
Room – Emma Donoghue
Steve Jobs – Aaron Sorkin

Original music
Winner: The Hateful Eight – Ennio Morricone
Bridge of Spies – Thomas Newman
The Revenant – Ryuichi Sakamoto, Carsten Nicolai
Sicario – Jóhann Jóhannsson
Star Wars: The Force Awakens – John Williams

Winner: The Revenant – Emmanuel Lubezki
Bridge of Spies – Janusz Kamiński
Carol – Ed Lachman
Mad Max: Fury Road – John Seale
Sicario – Roger Deakins

Winner: Mad Max: Fury Road – Margaret Sixel
The Big Short – Hank Corwin
Bridge of Spies – Michael Kahn
The Martian – Pietro Scalia
The Revenant – Stephen Mirrione

Production design
Winner: Mad Max: Fury Road – Colin Gibson, Lisa Thompson
Bridge of Spies – Adam Stockhausen, Rena Deangelo
Carol – Judy Becker, Heather Loeffler
The Martian – Arthur Max, Celia Bobak
Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Rick Carter, Darren Gilford, Lee Sandales

Costume design
Winner: Mad Max: Fury Road – Jenny Beavan
Brooklyn – Odile Dicks-Mireaux
Carol – Sandy Powell
Cinderella – Sandy Powell
The Danish Girl – Paco Delgado

Make-up and hair
Winner: Mad Max: Fury Road – Lesley Vanderwalt, Damian Martin
Brooklyn – Morna Ferguson, Lorraine Glynn
Carol – Jerry Decarlo, Patricia Regan
The Danish Girl – Jan Sewell
The Revenant – Sian Grigg, Duncan Jarman, Robert Pandini

Winner: The Revenant – Lon Bender, Chris Duesterdiek, Martin Hernandez, Frank A. Montaño, Jon Taylor, Randy Thom
Bridge of Spies – Drew Kunin, Richard Hymns, Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom
Mad Max: Fury Road – Scott Hecker, Chris Jenkins, Mark Mangini, Ben Osmo, Gregg Rudloff, David White
The Martian – Paul Massey, Mac Ruth, Oliver Tarney, Mark Taylor
Star Wars: The Force Awakens – David Acord, Andy Nelson, Christopher Scarabosio, Matthew Wood, Stuart Wilson

Special visual effects
Winner: Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Chris Corbould, Roger Guyett, Paul Kavanagh, Neal Scanlan
Ant-Man – Jake Morrison, Greg Steele, Dan Sudick, Alex Wuttke
Ex Machina – Mark Ardington, Sara Bennett, Paul Norris, Andrew Whitehurst
Mad Max: Fury Road – Andrew Jackson, Dan Oliver, Tom Wood, Andy Williams
The Martian – Chris Lawrence, Tim Ledbury, Richard Stammers, Steven Warner

British short animation
Winner: Edmond – Nina Gantz, Emilie Jouffroy
Manoman – Simon Cartwright, Kamilla Kristiane Hodol
Prologue – Richard Williams, Imogen Sutton

British short film
Winner: Operator – Caroline Bartleet, Rebecca Morgan
Elephant – Nick Helm, Alex Moody, Esther Smith
Mining Poems Or Odes – Callum Rice, Jack Cocker
Over – Jörn Threlfall, Jeremy Bannister
Samuel-613 – Billy Lumby, Cheyenne Conway

The EE Rising Star Award
Winner: John Boyega
Bel Powley
Brie Larson
Dakota Johnson
Taron Egerton

Outstanding contribution to British cinema
Angels Costumes

BAFTA Fellowship
Sidney Poitier

Film review – The Revenant (Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2016)

Watching The Revenant was an ordeal. Realistically gritty, putting the viewed in the centre of the action at all times and not afraid to show a bit of gore, that I felt so uncomfortable was inevitably a deliberate choice and will be one of the reasons it inevitably wins big at the awards ceremonies this year.

The story is set in 1823 in Louisiana Purchase, which the modern world now knows as North and South Dakota. It opens with a good old-fashioned Western movie standoff: the hunters are in the woods stockpiling pelts when they are ambushed by a group of Arikara Native Americans. The scene is one of the grittiest and most brutal opening battle sequences since Saving Private Ryan. People from both sides are blown up, arrows pierce any and every body part and nothing is watered down or censored.

The hunters are led by Captain Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson), whilst the team includes hostile John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) and the experienced Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio). Hostility is felt between Fitzgerald and Glass; the former has been partially scalped by Native Americans and the latter has a son, Hawk, from his relationship with a native.

revenant screenshot

Come on guys. He’s done enough for the award this year.

The most famous scene from the film, in which Glass is brutally attacked by a female bear as he tried to hunt her cubs, is almost betrayed by a lack of convincing CGI. Fortunately if you believe in it enough, DiCaprio saves the day with a wholly convincing portrayal of a man desperately fighting for his life. It’s really difficult to watch but strangely mesmerizing, every grimace making you want to turn away and look closer in equal parts.

Tom Hardy is completely unlikeable as John Fitzgerald, just as he should be. There is literally nothing good about his character and it’s another huge achievement in Hardy’s young career.

As the final shot plays out, DiCaprio looks straight down the barrel of the lens and into our eyes. In the film, Glass is showing a whole range of spoilery emotions. In the real world, it felt like DiCaprio was saying to us “I’ve been attacked by a bear, had valleys dug into my back, been left for dead, thrown off a cliff, almost drowned, shot at, climbed inside a dead horse, eaten raw meat, learned the native Arikara language and almost frozen to death… so can I have an Oscar this year please?” I don’t think anyone who sees this could deny him of it. Not this time around.

The Revenant is on general release now.


BAFTA Awards 2015 – Full List of Winners

Big winners:
The Grand Budapest Hotel – 5
Boyhood – 3
The Theory of Everything – 3
Whiplash – 3

Best Film

Other nominees:
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything

Outstanding British Film
The Theory of Everything

Other Nominees:
The Imitation Game
Under The Skin

Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything

Other Nominees:
Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game
Ralph Fiennes – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Jake Gyllenhaal – Nightcrawler
Michael Keaton – Birdman

Julianne Moore – Still Alice

Other nominees:
Amy Adams – Big Eyes
Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything
Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon – Wild

Supporting Actor
J. K. Simmons – Whiplash

Other nominees:
Steve Carell – Foxcatcher
Ethan Hawke – Boyhood
Edward Norton – Birdman
Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher

Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette – Boyhood

Other nominees:
Renee Russo – Nightcrawler
Keira Knightley – The Imitation Game
Imelda Staunton – Pride
Emma Stone – Birdman

Richard Linklater – Boyhood

Other nominees:
Wes Anderson – Grand Budapest Hotel
Damian Chazelle – Whiplash
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu – Birdman
James Marsh – The Theory of Everything

Adapted Screenplay
The Theory of Everything – Anthony McCarten

Other nominees:
American Sniper – Jason Hall
Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn
The Imitation Game – Graham Moore
Paddington – Paul King

Original Screenplay
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson

Other nominees:
Boyhood – Richard Linklater
Birdman – Alejandro G. Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris Jr, Armando Bo
Nightcrawler – Dan Gilroy
Whiplash – Damien Chazelle

Animated Film
The Lego Movie

Other nominees:
The Boxtrolls
Big Hero 6


Other nominees:
20 Feet from Stardom
20,000 Days on Earth
Finding Vivian Maier

Foreign Film

Other nominees:
The Lunchbox
Two Days, One Night

Birdman – Emmanuel Lubezki

Other nominees:
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Robert Yeoman
Ida – Lukasz Zal, Ryzsard Lenczewski
Interstellar – Hoyte van Hoytema
Mr Turner – Dick Pope

Costume Design
The Grand Budapest Hotel

Other nominees:
The Imitation Game
Into the Woods
Mr Turner
The Theory of Everything

Whiplash – Tom Cross

Other nominees:
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Barney Pilling
The Imitation Game – William Goldenberg
Nightcrawler – John Gilroy
The Theory of Everything – Jinx Godfrey
Birdman – Douglas Crise, Stephen Mirrione

Make-up and Hair
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Frances Hannon

Other nominees:
Guardians of the Galaxy – Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou, David White
Into the Woods – Peter Swords King, J Roy Helland
Mr Turner – Christine Blundell, Lesa Warrener
The Theory of Everything – Jan Sewell

The Grand Budapest Hotel – Alexandre Desplat

Other nominees:
Birdman – Antonio Sanchez
Interstellar – Hans Zimmer
The Theory of Everything – Johann Johannsson
Under the Skin – Mica Levi

Production Design
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Adam Stockhausen, Anna Pinnock

Other nominees:
Big Eyes – Rick Heinrichs, Shane Vieau
The Imitation Game – Maria Djurkovic, Tatiana MacDonald
Interstellar – Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis
Mr Turner – Suzie Davies, Charlotte Watts

Whiplash – Thomas Curley, Ben Wilkins, Craig Mann

Other nominees:
American Sniper – Walt Martin, John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff, Alan Robert Murray, Bub Asman
Birdman – Thomas Varga, Martin Hernandez, Aaron Glascock, Jon Taylor, Frank A Montaño
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wayne Lemmer, Christopher Scarabosio, Pawel Wdowczak
The Imitation Game – John Midgley, Lee Walpole, Stuart Hilliker, Martin Jensen

Visual Effects
Interstellar – Paul Franklin, Scott Fisher, Andrew Lockley
X-Men: Days of Future Past – Richard Stammers, Anders Langlands, Tim Crosbie, Cameron Waldbauer

Other nominees:
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Erik Winquist, Daniel Barrett
Guardians of the Galaxy – Stephane Ceretti, Paul Corbould, Jonathan Fawkner, Nicolas
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton, R Christopher White

British Short Animation
The Bigger Picture – Chris Hees, Daisy Jacobs, Jennifer Majka

Other nominees:
Monkey Love Experiments – Ainslie Henderson, Cam Fraser, Will Anderson
My Dad – Marcus Armitage

British Short Film
Boogaloo and Graham – Brian J Falconer, Michael Lennox, Ronan Blaney

Other nominees:
Emotional Fusebox – Michael Berliner, Rachel Tunnard
The Karman Line – Campbell Beaton, Dawn King, Tiernan Hanby, Oscar Sharp
Slap – Islay Bell-Webb, Michelangelo Fano, Nick Rowland
Three Brothers -S Aleem Khan, Matthieu de Braconier, Stephanie Paeplow

Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer
Stephen Beresford, David Livingstone (writer and producer Pride)

Elaine Constantine (writer/director Northern Soul)
Gregory Burke, Yann Demange (writer and director ’71)
Hong Khaou (writer/director Lilting)
Paul Katis, Andrew De Lotbiniere (director/producer and producer Kajaki: The True Story)

Rising Star Award
Jack O’Connell

Other nominees:
Gugu Mbatha-Raw
Margot Robbie
Miles Teller
Shailene Woodley

My Dad (Marcus Armitage, 2014)

Animators – Marcus Armitage, Jonathan Long, Diana Gradinaru, Noriko Ishibe
Voice – Divian Ladwa

Marcus Armitage’s BAFTA-nominated short animation “My Dad” is a story full of social commentary, regarding the way children are influenced by their surroundings. Its powerful message makes it a worthy nominee at this year’s awards.

I caught up with Marcus ahead of the awards night to find out more about the film and his inspirations.

“I started out looking into the relationship between father and son and how opinions are passed down,” he said talking about the inspiration behind the film. In it we see a young child being spending time with his father as they do a series of seemingly innocuous things, but the overlaying of disjointed sound bites from the child (delivered to great effect by Divian Ladwa) reveals the real message of the piece – that children are smothered by a mixture of the media and their parents.

The narration acts as a voice for the child as he attempts to process what he is seeing and hearing. The brilliantly animated oil pastel drawings show a real talent in a medium Armitage clearly enjoys (“I have a stack of around 3000 oil pastel drawings at home!!”). Coupled with the innocence of the words spoken, the sensory overload really belies the powerful message contained underneath.


I was taken aback by the ending of the film, as the artwork is literally torn away to reveal a barely glimpsed shot of a terrified child with his father, in the midst of an altercation between an EDL gang and the police.

“The concept was mainly formed but then during research into the subject of inherited racism I found this image taken from an EDL march. I was so struck by its power I had to use it. It changed the film quite a lot but for the better. It is quite a disturbing image but you only get a quick glimpse at the end.”

It’s a really effective way to end the piece and shows Armitage’s intelligence in drawing masses of influence from something he finds intriguing and striking.

So what’s next for Armitage? “My next project is uncertain at the moment. I graduated in June and I’ve since set myself up as a freelance animator and director, which is going well.” He has ideas for his next film, but with time on his side and an increased interest in his work following the BAFTAs, My Dad is just the start of what I expect will be a very busy and exciting period in Marcus’s career.

You can view the trailer for My Dad here. I also recommend Over Dinner, a previously produced animation with a similarly powerful message.

BAFTA Nominees – A Closer Look

As we approach the Golden Globes tonight, what better time to take a closer look at some of the nominees for the BAFTAs, which take place on Sunday 8th February. Okay okay, it’s a daft time to look at them. Still, here we go.

Best Foreign Film
This is a really strong category, with all five films looking like a really strong contender for the top prize. I was really impressed by Two Days, One Night , and Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Leviathan was much celebrated following the focus created at the BFI London Film Festival (where it took the Best Film prize). However, for me the best foreign film of 2014 should go to The Lunchbox. Starring Irrfan Khan (Life of Pi, Slumdog Millionaire, The Amazing Spider-man and Nimrat Kaur (who you may recognise from Homeland), Ritesh Batra’s film was a really accomplished romantic drama that also dealt with aspects of loneliness, whilst capturing beautifully the claustrophobic life of the average Mumbai worker, in particular the dabbawalas delivering the lunchboxes from wife to husband. It didn’t really have a cutting edge political message for the modern viewers, but sometimes you just want to see an excellent film that lifts your spirits. This certainly does that, despite not following a path that we’ve come to expect from most European and American films in the same genre.

Rising Star Award
This is an interesting one. There has always been a level of scepticism attached to it because the winner is voted for by the public rater than industry experts (indeed you can vote for yourself here as long as you reside in the UK). The past results largely prove that the public have known what they’re talking about – James McAvoy, Tom Hardy, Eva Green and Shia LeBeouf have all bagged this in the past. However, results like the 2012 prize going to Kidulthood star Adam Deacon really undermine its relevance (he was up against Thor and Loki, along with Eddie Redmayne and Chris O’Dowd). This year’s front runners for me are Jack O’Connell, star of two excellent films in ’71 and Unbroken, and Margot Robbie, who we saw a lot of in The Wolf of Wall Street. There are three other excellent nominees in Miles Telller (Whiplash), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Belle) and Shailene Woodley (The Fault in Our Stars), but you have to remember that this is largely a popularity contest for the public to vote on, and a way to get people engaged with the awards. It’s also voted for by British people, and therefore it will more than likely be our boy Jack O’Connell happy on the night. This is good news, because his performances in Starred Up and ’71 were exceptional.

British Short Film and British Short Animation
There is a slight frustration with these two categories. Currently, there is a thriving short film industry globally as people make use of the easy distribution tools available to them via online media and streaming possibilities. So BAFTA have dedicated categories for short films and animated short films, which is great. Unfortunately not one of them is available to watch online. Trailers are there for most, but now is the time I’d be really keen to make my own mind up about what is nominated so I can form an opinion ahead of the ceremony. That’s the thing about fans of cinema – we really prefer to make or own mind up rather than be told what is great. I’m fortunate to have seen several of the heavily nominated films already, with only The Theory of Everything and Boyhood being missed. As a result, I can look at the top categories and agree or disagree with the result on the night. This lack of connection to the short film categories makes me frustrated as I’d love to be more engaged with these two categories. Last year they had a BAFTA shorts tour, and I hope they do the same again this time around, ahead of the big night.

Animated Film
Probably should go to The Lego Movie, which was brilliantly animated and hilarious from start to finish, but I’d tip The Boxtrolls to take it home. It was grotesque and surreal and full of wonderful voice acting, and I think the level of artistry and uniqueness involved may edge out the overall superior Lego Movie.

As good as both 20 Feet from Stardom and 20,000 Days on Earth were, this has to go to Edward Snowden documentary Citizenfour.

What Missed Out
I was disappointed that Lilting all but missed out completely, with director Hong Khaou the only nominee in the Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer. The category will probably be awarded to Gregory Burke and Yann Demange for ’71 (which will be more than deserving anyway).

I was pleased to see Interstellar not have much joy, though I fear this won’t be the case when we get to the Oscar nominations on Thursday.

People talk of disappointment for Mr Turner, which completely missed out despite Timothy Spall getting a Cannes award for Best Actor. A surprise, especially as it is a British film.

I was personally disappointed Giovanni’s Island wasn’t in the Animated Film category, but it wasn’t a surprise. Big Hero 6 is unlikely to win and is probably only there to garner interest, but Giovanni’s Island had a really strong message and was one of my films of the year.

The BAFTA Awards take place on the evening of Sunday 8th February at London’s Royal Opera House and will be hosted by Stephen Fry.