Rewind Review: A Single Man

A Single Man is a film that thrives on Colin Firth’s performance. He is the titular character and thus the fulcrum upon which the entire film rests. At many times he is alone, more often than not though he is one on one with another scene partner and thus the cast must be exemplary to match him. Firth’s performance is not one of tremendous fireworks but one where we are allowed to get the occasional glimpse beneath the surface. It’s brilliant and true and the finest performance of the year, and was honored as such in Venice.

Accompanying Firth in a few of his more pivotal scenes is Julianne Moore. Moore doesn’t have a lot of screen time in this film but she uses it to her full advantage playing her character remarkably and in so little time breathing life into Charley. In a fascinating bit of turnabout she put on a British accent and is hardly distinguishable from Firth in authenticity.

Conversely Nicholas Hoult, who is British, plays an American and much more convincingly so than when he co-starred in The Weather Man. His scene opposite Firth in the bar was quite memorable and he was perhaps the perfect casting choice as the young man who gives our protagonist a glimmer of hope.

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The cast of the film overall is exceptional and because all the scenes were of an intimate nature, in terms of emotion if not subject matter, all actors in parts large and small had to connect and play up to Colin Firth and they did so tremendously.

The edit of this film is likely to go unrecognized and thus we shall call attention to it here. Both aesthetically and technically it is a job very well done. With ease it manipulates our perception of reality on one occasion but more often than not it combines with the cinematography to give the perfect launching point for a flashback. One of the flashbacks being shot in black and white was also a very welcome touch.

The greatest tool at the disposal of the cineast is the ability for him to manipulate time. This film manipulates time brilliantly as we see virtually the entire story of this man’s adult life unfold itself over the course of a day. So much is learned so simply and quickly.

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Having all of the events take place over the course of one day is also a great benefit to the film as it lends immediacy and urgency to even the most mundane of actions. As the day starts we think we see how it will end and makes every moment have that much more surpassing beauty because of it.

This is a film which is a subtle tragedy. In as much as the audience experiences the tragedy of events much more so than the characters involved. The film also leaves you wanting more and leaves you wondering what happened to characters after it faded to black for the last time.

10/10

BAM Best Picture Profile: Wah-Wah (2006)

Each year, I try and improve the site, and also try to find a new an hopefully creative and fun way to countdown to the unveiling of the year’s BAM Awards. Last year, I posted most of the BAM Nominee and winner lists (Any omissions will be fixed this year). However, when I picked Django Unchained as the Best Picture of 2012 I then realized I had recent winner with no write-ups. I soon corrected that by translating a post and writing a series of my own. The thought was all films honored as Best Picture should have at least one piece dedicated to them. So I will through the month of December be posting write-ups on past winners.

Wah-Wah (2006)

In many of these recaps I discussed my pre-life with the film. In some cases they were either adaptations of stories I already knew rather well, or that I had anticipated for some time. I had no idea Wah-Wah was coming or even existed until right before I saw it. There was a review for it in the weekend section of the Philadelphia Inquirer and I decided to head out and see it based on that.

The last time I’d seen Nicholas Hoult onscreen prior to this film was in the marvelous About a Boy, which made a rather significant dent in the 2002 BAM Awards. This tale is a bit different but one I was drawn to nonetheless. Being perhaps the most obscure title I’ve ever selected as Best Picture I will cite an IMDb synopsis.

Set at the end of the ’60s, as Swaziland is about to receive independence from Great Britain, the film follows the young Ralph Compton, at 12, through his parents’ traumatic separation, till he’s 14. It is written and directed by Richard E. Grant, and based on true events from Richard E. Grant’s childhood.

So you have a few things at work here: although playing off two completely different cultures, I could certainly relate to the story of a British boy growing up in Swaziland. As a dual-dual citizen there is a that sense of belonging in two places that’s a commonality. With the impending independence there’s also the perfect backdrop for a coming-of-age tale. The feeling of ex-empire underscore Harry’s (Gabriel Byrne) feelings of inadequacy. The family and their situation are viewed with perfect clarity by Ruby, Harry’s new wife, played brilliantly by Emily Watson, who vocalizes the film’s title as an imitation of the family’s complaining. Alongside them is Miranda Richardson, as Ralph’s (Hoult) mother, and Julie Walters, too, as a neighbor.

In preparing this write-up I read on the IMDb page that this was the first film ever to be shot in Swaziland, which is certainly an interesting footnote. Of course, one of the great things about cinema is that it can take you places and underscore things you had never really considered before. The liberation from colonization of Africa had many ramifications and permutations and this is just one of them. It’s also a wonderful means of personal expression, of course, and that’s where this film succeeds. It’s not run-of-the-mill but it does put you as a viewer in a position to identify with situations even though the world you’re witnessing is not of this time and not your own.

Wah-Wah is a captivating, funny, heart-rending family drama and coming of age story that is one not much talked about that’s just waiting for you to discover it.

Considerations for the 2013 Robert Downey, Jr. Entertainer of the Year Award

Originally I didn’t want to list considerations for either Entertainer of the Year Award or Neutron Star Award. The reasoning behind this was that these awards being for a body of work should’ve had their winners be rather apparent. However, owing to previous memory lapses, I reconsidered this philosophy.

Therefore, any and all eligible, worthy candidates for either award will be kept on this list. It will be one of the running lists that I update on a biweekly basis.

In essence, this will give those who stand out in these categories their due. For example, last year I felt remiss in not mentioning Matthew McConaughey in my explication for the Entertainer of the Year Award for 2013. In my reasoning behind Samuel L. Jackson’s win I had to talk about his year and how great it was and why Jackson’s superseded it. With this list, at year’s end I will be able to discuss each of the prospective candidates works.

Please note that while this award only requires two ‘participations,’ no “eggs will be counted before they’re hatched,” meaning if I have yet to see a second title, though I may expect to, that person will not be listed yet.

Without further ado, the candidates…

Candidates

Nicholas Hoult
Dwayne Johnson
Ryan Simpkins
Ty Simpkins
Rebecca Hall
James Franco
Spencer Treat Clark
Michael Shannon
Bruce Willis
Chloe Grace Moretz
James Wan
Hailee Steinfeld
Sandra Bullock
Abigail Breslin
Ben Kingsley

My Ballot: BAFTA Rising Star Award

I have for some time wanted to start a series like this, and figured this new year was a good time to start. Essentially, whenever there is a publicly-voted award in the film world I will share my thoughts and vote here.

I was thankful to be reminded of this award this morning. It’s one I have voted in before and since it’s kind of a body of work award and is thus more intriguing than most. I can’t recall how many times I have voted in this poll in the past, but considering that Nicholas Hoult and Emma Stone have been nominated previously, and also been BAM honorees, I’m fairly sure I cast my ballot for them in the years in which they were nominated.

As for this year’s ballot the choices are:

Elizabeth Olsen, considering that I picked her as Best Actress last year, and liked her in a subpar film this year, she’s already “risen” in my mind.

Andrea Riseborough, I sadly haven’t seen in any of her recent roles, so I couldn’t vote in her favor.

Suraj Sharma, I liked him far more than I did The Life of Pi, but it’s a stepping-stone to potentially bigger and better roles for him.

Juno Temple, I liked her performances in Killer Joe and The Dark Knight Rises. However, there was another tandem of roles that was more impressive this year amongst this list.

Alicia Vikander, is not only a very strong lead in A Royal Affair that was quite nearly earned her a Best Actress nomination in the BAM Awards, but also had a “Don’t You Recognize Me?” kind of moment to me after I saw that when I realized she was in Anna Karenina.

BAM Awards: Best Actor Winners

Once again I am sticking to the “Live Era,” here (meaning I made my choices at year’s end). This is the third such article I’ve posted chronicling my choices in my personal awards (here are links to Best Actress and Best Picture).

2019 Joaquin Phoenix Joker

2018 Kodi Smit-McPhee Alpha 

2017 James McAvoy Split

2016 Leonardo DiCaprio The Revenant

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2015 David Gulpilil Charlie’s Country

Charlie'sCountry (2013, Entertainment One Films)

2014 Brendan Gleeson Calvary

Calvary (2014, Fox Searchlight)

2013 Johan Heldenbergh The Broken Circle Breakdown

The Broken Circle Breakdown (2012, Tribeca Film)

2012 Daniel Day-Lewis Lincoln

Lincoln (2012, DreamWorks)

2011 Michael Shannon Take Shelter

2010 Bill Nighy Wild Target

2009 Colin Firth A Single Man

2008 Sean Penn Milk

2007 Leonardo DiCaprio The Departed

The Departed (2006, Warner Bros.)

2006 Nicholas Hoult Wah-Wah

2005 Philip Seymour Hoffman Capote

2004 Jim Caviezel The Passion of the Christ

The Passion of the Christ (2004, Newmarkey Releasing)

2003 Jeremy Sumpter Peter Pan

2002 Christian Bale Equilibrium

Equilibrium (2002, Dimension Films)

2001 Haley Joel Osment Artificial Intelligence: A.I.

2000 Kevin Spacey Pay it Forward

1999 Haley Joel Osment The Sixth Sense

1998 Jack Nicholson As Good as it Gets

1997 Billy Bob Thornton Sling Blade

1996 Nick Nolte Mulholland Falls
Mulholland Falls (1996, MGM)