Mini-Review: Son of God

As opposed to last month’s film, which featured dramas that can be presumed and inferred but are not in the Gospels Son of God deals solely with stories from the Bible, most of which are very well known.

I knew that in liking Son of God in spite of some of its sketchiness, incessant gravitas and occasional bouts of television (This film was spliced from a TV Mini-Series called The Bible), I would be in a minority.

Its tonality and casting of leading roles are among its strengths, namely Diogo Morgado, despite his occasional accent lapses; Adrian Schiller as Caiaphas, whose scenes are a persistent highlight of the film; and Greg Hicks who does great things in the thankless role of the sinfully noncommittal Pilate.

Son of God (2014, 20th Century Fox)

The film does try to be a bit too inclusive in the narrative and that creates some issues, but in covering the life of Jesus in a cradle-to-grave format you’re bound to have a tug-of-war between being too sparse or too packed. It’s an unenviable task the film deals with well. As for the aforementioned gravitas, with a tale of this nature that’s the better side of the equation to err on, however, it’s only somewhat lessened by that fact rather than ruined by it like some films can be

Back in 2014, when it was released, I included it in my blog’s year-end awards. It earned a BAM nomination for Best Art Direction. Son of God is available to stream on Netflix or to own on physical and digital media.

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2014 BAM Award Nominations

Here in a live blog format you will see this year’s nominees in the BAM Awards (Bernardo Villela’s personal selections) be posted.

The honorees will be announced on January 9th. When the list is complete it will be indicated. Please note that the parenthesis around the word in Original indicates that at times songs not written specifically for a film are considered.

Best Picture

A Birder’s Guide to Everything
Calvary
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Finn
Into the Woods
The Judge
St. Vincent
Stations of the Cross
The Way He Looks

Best Director

Richard Linklater Boyhood
John Michael McDonagh Calvary
Rob Meyer A Birder’s Guide to Everything
Daniel Ribeiro The Way He Looks
Frans Weisz Finn

Best Foreign Film

20 Lies, 4 Parents and a Little Egg
The Custody
Finn
Ilo Ilo
It’s Not Me, I Swear
Misunderstood
The Mystery of Happiness
Stations of the Cross
The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears
The Way He Looks

Most Overlooked Picture

20 Lies, 4 Parents and a Little Egg
The Boxtrolls
The Famous Five 3
Finn
It’s Not Me, I Swear
Labyrinthus
Mission: Sputnik
Misunderstood
Stations of the Cross
The Way He Looks

Best Actress

Amrita Acharia I Am Yours
Juliette Binoche 1,000 Times Good Night
Essie Davis The Babadook
Charlotte Gainsbourg Nymphomaniac: Volume 2
Shailene Woodley The Fault in Our Stars

Best Actor

Nicolas Cage Joe
Brendan Gleeson Calvary
Tom Hardy The Drop
Tom Hardy Locke
Robert Downey, Jr. The Judge

Best Supporting Actress

Ximena Ayala The Amazing Catfish
Ellen Burstyn Flowers in the Attic
Jessica Lange In Secret
Melissa McCarthy St. Vincent
Meryl Streep Into the Woods

Best Supporting Actor

Jan Decleir Finn
Robert Duvall The Judge
Gabriel Garko Misunderstood
Logan Lerman Fury
Brendan Meyer The Guest
Mark Ram 20 Lies, 4 Parents and a Little Egg

Best Cast

Nils Verkooijen, Mark Ram, Marcel Musters, Anneke Blok and Marieke Heebink 20 Lies, 4 Parents and a Little Egg
James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Daniel Huttlestone, Emily Blunt, Christine Baranski, Tammy Blanchard, Lucy Punch, Tracey Ullman, Lilla Crawford, Joanna Riding, Meryl Streep, Mackenzie Mauzy, Chris Pine, Billy Rasmussen etc. Into the Woods
Dylan O’Brien, Will Poulter, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Aml Ameen, Ki Hong Lee, Blake Cooper, Dexter Darder, Kayla Scodelario, Patricia Clarkson, etc. The Maze Runner
Charlotte Gainsbourg, Gabriel Garko, Giulia Salerno, Anna Lou Castoldi, Asia Argento, Olimpia Carlisi, Alice Pea, Carolina Poccioni, etc. Misunderstood
Robert Downey, Jr., Robert Duvall, Vincent D’Onofrio, Vera Farmiga, Billy Bob Thornton, Dax Shepherd, Emma Tremblay, etc. The Judge

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Leading Role

Annalise Basso Oculus
Lauren Canny 1,000 Times Good Night
Joey King Wish I Was Here
Giulia Salerno Misunderstood
Flora Thiemann Mission: Sputnik
Lea van Acken Stations of the Cross

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Leading Role

Spencer Bogaert Labyrinthus
Antoine L’Écuyer The Custody
Antoine L’Écuyer It’s Not Me, I Swear
Kodi Smit-McPhee A Birder’s Guide to Everything
Garrett Ryan Oculus
Nils Verkooijen 20 Lies, 4 Parents and a Little Egg

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Supporting Role

Anna Lou Castoldi Misunderstood
Adrianna Cramer Curtis 1,000 Times Good Night
Lilla Crawford Into the Woods
Catherine Faucher It’s Not Me, I Swear
Lorelei Linklater Boyhood
Emma Verlinden Labyrinthus

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Supporting Role

Peter DaCunha Tormented
Reese Hartwig Earth to Echo
Daniel Huttlestone Into the Woods
Felix Maesschalck Labyrinthus
Art Parkinson Dracula Untold
Tye Sheridan Joe

Best Youth Ensemble

Kodi Smit-McPhee, Katie Chang, Alex Wolff and Michael Chen in A Birder’s Guide to Everything
Valeria Eisenbart, Quirin Oettl, Justus Schlingensliepen, Neele-Marie Nickel and Davina Weber The Famous Five 3
Spence Bogaert, Felix Maesschalck, Emma Verlinden, Nell Cattrysse and Pommelien Tijs Labyrinthus
Flora Thiemann, Finn Fienbig, Luca Johanssen, and Emil von SchönfelsMission: Sputnik
Giulia Salerno, Anna Lou Castoldi, Carolina Poccioni, Andrea Pittorino Misunderstood
Raúl Rivas, Daniel Cerezo, Claudia Vega, Fran García, Marcos Ruiz, Christian Mulas, Aníbal Tártalo, Alberto López, Javier Cifrián and Álex Angulo Zip and Zap and the Marble Gang

Best Original Screenplay

Anna Brüggemann and Dietrich Brüggemann Stations of the Cross
Bruno Forzani, Hélène Cattet The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears
Steven Knight Locke
Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, Dan Hageman, and Kevin Hageman The Lego Movie
Janneke van der Pal Finn

Best Adapted Screenplay

Jane Goldman, Simon Kinberg and Matthew Vaughn X-Men: Days of Future Past
Gary Hawkins and Larry Brown Joe
James Lapine Into the Woods
Dennis Lehane The Drop
Jordan Roberts, Daniel Gerson, Robert L. Baird, Duncan Rouleau, Steven T. Seagle and Paul Briggs and Joseph Mateo Big Hero 6

Best Cinematography

Eric Adkins and Pat Sweeney The Boxtrolls
Dion Beebe Into the Woods
Manuel Dacosse The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears
Florian Hoffmesiter In Secret
Nicola Pecorini Misunderstood

Best Editing

Sandra Adair Boyhood
Bernard Beets The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears
James Herbert and Laura Jennings Edge of Tomorrow
Wyatt Smith Into the Woods
Marie-Hélène Dozo Stop the Pounding Heart

Best Visual Effects

The Boxtrolls
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Edge of Tomorrow
Into the Woods
Interstellar

Best Sound Editing/Mixing

The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Edge of Tomorrow
The Lego Movie
Locke
The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears

Best Makeup

Gone Girl
Into the Woods
Maleficent
The Theory of Everything
Unbroken

Best Art Direction

Curt Enderle The Boxtrolls
Alan Spalding, Said El Kounti and Hauke Richter Son of God
Dennis Gassner, Andrew Bennett, Ben Collins, Chris Lowe, and Mary Mackenzie Into the Woods
Julia Irribarria The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears
Juan Pedro De Gaspar and Géza Kerti Zip and Zap and the Marble Gang

Best Costume Design

Colleen Atwood Into the Woods
Deborah Cook The Boxtrolls
Nicoletta Ercole Misunderstood
Louise Mingenbach X-Men: Days of Future Past
Pedro Moreno Cannibal

Best Score

Ramin Djawadi Dracula Untold
Pino Donaggio Patrick
Michael Giacchino Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Fons Merkies Finn
A.R. Rahman The Hundred-Foot Journey

Best (Original) Song

“Everything is Awesome” Jo Li The Lego Movie
“The Boxtrolls Song” Mark Orton, Loch Lomond and Sean Patrick Doyle The Boxtrolls
“Quattro Sabatino” Dario Marianello, Peter Harris, Alex Tsilogiannis, Thomas Kennedy and Edmund Saddington The Boxtrolls
“The Bald Guy” (“Skallamann”) from Baldguy Cast in Fun in Boys Shorts
“Prologue: Into the Woods” James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Daniel Huttlestone, Emily Blunt, Christine Baranski, Tammy Blanchard, Lucy Punch, Tracey Ullman, Lilla Crawford, Joanna Riding, Meryl Streep and Stephen Sondheim Into the Woods

Neutron Star Award

TBA 1/9

Ingmar Bergman Lifetime Achievement Award

TBA 1/9

Robert Downey, Jr. Award for Entertainer of the Year

TBA 1/9

Special Jury Prizes

TBA 1/9

Nominations

Into the Woods – 12
Misunderstood – 9
The Boxtrolls, Finn – 7
The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears – 6
Labyrinthus, Stations of the Cross – 5
A Birder’s Guide to Everything, 20 Lies, 4 Parents and a Little Egg – 4
Edge of Tomorrow, The Lego Movie, Locke; 1,000 Times Good Night, Finn; It’s Not Me, I Swear; Mission: Sputnik, Stations of the Cross, , The Way He Looks, Boyhood, Calvary, The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, The Judge – 3
Zip and Zap and the Marble Gang, Joe, Dracula Untold, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Labyrinthus, Oculus, In Secret, The Drop, The Famous Five 3, The Custody, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, St. Vincent -2
Fun in Boys Shorts, Dracula Untold, Patrick, The Hundred-Foot Journey, Cannibal, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Son of God, Unbroken, The Theory of Everything, Maleficent, Gone Girl, Interstellar, Stop the Pounding Heart, Big Hero 6, Earth to Echo, Tormented; 1,000 Times Good Night; It’s Not Me, I Swear, Wish I Was Here, The Maze Runner, The Amazing Catfish, Flowers in the Attic, I Am Yours, The Babadook, Nymphomaniac: Volume 2, The Fault in Our Stars,The Mystery of Happiness, Ilo Ilo, Fury, The Guest– 1

2014 BAM Award Considerations – April

I decided that with the plethora of BAM Awards-related post towards the end of 2013 and the start of this year it was best to wait to the end of this month before officially recommencing the process.

I will post these lists towards the end of the month to allow for minimal updates. By creating a new post monthly, and creating massive combo files offline, it should make the process easier for me and more user-friendly for you, the esteemed reader. Enjoy.

Eligible Titles

Forgetting the Girl
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Heaven is for Real
Stranger by the Lake
Hillsborough
Joe
The Little Rascals Save the Day
Oculus
A Birder’s Guide to Everything
Bad Words
A Haunted House 2
How We Got Away With It
Bears
Bad Boys
Maradona ’86
The Opposition
WNUF Halloween Special
The Quiet Ones
A Long Way Off

Best Picture

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Joe
Oculus
A Birder’s Guide to Everything

Best Foreign Film

Best Documentary

Hillsborough
Bears
The Opposition

Most Overlooked Film

As intimated in my Most Underrated announcement this year, I’ve decided to make a change here. Rather than get caught up in me vs. the world nonsense and what a film’s rating is on an aggregate site, the IMDb or anywhere else, I want to champion smaller, lesser-known films. In 2011 with the selection of Toast this move was really in the offing. The nominees from this past year echo that fact. So here, regardless of how well-received something is by those who’ve seen it, I’ll be championing indies and foreign films, and the occasional financial flop from a bigger entity.

Best Director

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Joe
Oculus
A Birder’s Guide to Everything

Best Actress

Lindsay Beamish Forgetting the Girl
Karen Gillan Oculus

Best Actor

Christopher Denham Forgetting the Girl
Nicolas Cage Joe
Brenton Thwaites Oculus
Kodi Smit-McPhee A Birder’s Guide to Everything
Jarred Harris The Quiet Ones

Best Supporting Actress

Scarlett Johansson Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Best Supporting Actor

Robert Redford Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Patrick d’Assumçao Stranger by the Lake
Tye Sheridan Joe
Ben Kingsley A Birder’s Guide to Everything

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Leading Role

Annalise Basso Oculus
Katie Chang A Birder’s Guide to Everything

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Leading Role

Jet Jurgensmeyer The Little Rascals Save the Day
Garrett Ryan Oculus
Kodi Smit-McPhee A Birder’s Guide to Everything

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Supporting Role

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Supporting Role

Tye Sheridan Joe
Drew Justice The Little Rascals Save the Day
Alex Wolff A Birder’s Guide to Everything
Steele Stebbins A Haunted House 2
Aldo Maland The Quiet Ones

Best Cast

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Joe
Oculus
A Birder’s Guide to Everything

Best Youth Ensemble

The Little Rascals Save the Day
A Birder’s Guide to Everything

Best Original Screenplay

Forgetting the Girl
Oculus
A Birder’s Guide to Everything

Best Adapted Screenplay

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Joe

Best Score

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Joe
Oculus

Best Editing

Forgetting the Girl
Joe
Oculus
A Birder’s Guide to Everything
The Opposition

Best Sound Editing/Mixing

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Joe
Oculus
The Quiet Ones

Best Cinematography

Forgetting the Girl
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Joe
Oculus
A Birder’s Guide to Everything
Bears
The Quiet Ones

Best Art Direction

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Joe
Oculus

Best Costume Design

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Joe
The Quiet Ones

Best Makeup

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Oculus

Best Visual Effects

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Oculus

Best (Original) Song

Joe
The Little Rascals Save the Day

Films Losing the Religious, One Way or Another

Is there any winning with Hollywood and religious-themed fare? Many times, especially in recent examples, it feels like there isn’t. Frequently the film industry is pilloried for its content, as if visual fictions shape the lives of young people more than scripture. However, then when religion comes back in vogue on film (as almost everything does at some point) then that too creates issues. This year has been one of those years.

Noah was the first title to come under a lot of fire for its Biblical inaccuracy.

However, some of the issues that come to light when those complaints are registered is that the complaints themselves are inaccurate. As highlighted in this piece on The Daily Show.

It’s not an uncommon case at its core. It essentially boils down to selective reading and remembering of the Bible. Yes, the Bible does state that Noah is nude and drunk after the waters have receded and he’s cultivated wine. So one thing that Noah does do well is fill in the blanks wherein Noah is conflicted about his duty and where God is silent he has Noah wonder if he’s following His intent correctly.

Following test screenings where religious viewers had bad feedback Paramount returned with some humorous advertising.

Noah (2014, Paramount)

I agree with their stand that their film about Noah need not be a model of Biblical accuracy. I am fine with most of the decisions made in the film. My main issue with Noah is a filmic one not a dogmatic one inasmuch as I feel many of the conflicts and suspenseful scenarios are somewhat old hat and strung out far past their effectiveness.

The fact that the Bible does not cite Ham as deprived a wife or that Tubal-Cain tried to storm the ark is not a concern to me, in cinematic parlance motivations and conflicts were necessary. For after the flood there is a diaspora of Noah’s children to repopulate the Earth. Some additional incentive in that regard is not a bad thing.

While I can’t say I walked away pleased, I can say I appreciated Noah not being treated as a well-meaning buffoon as he was in The Bible: In the Beginning… And piggybacking on the Jon Stewart comment about the Old Testament, that may well be true, it’s a more dour, wrathful section so why make it Hollywood? Conversely, that and effects work may be why there’s never been a big budget rendition of Revelations. However, Noah did underscore that focused Biblical tales have a better chance of succeeding than sprawling pastiches.

Son of God (2014, 20th Century Fox)

In seeing that Daily Show piece I myself was stunned. I knew that in liking Son of God in spite of some of its sketchiness, incessant gravitas and occasional bouts of television, I would be in a minority. However, I could not predict that the casting of Diogo Morgado as Jesus would prove an issue to some.

The curious thing about this is that it has nothing to do with the fact that he’s Portuguese and occasionally had accent lapses, or even that he’s too Caucasian in appearance, but rather that he’s too attractive. This is even more surprising considering that I didn’t really hear much of this complaint when The Bible, the mini-series from which this feature was spliced, aired initially.

I don’t feel I need to belabor the point that an actor is an actor. He is playing a role. In fact, in an upcoming project on the CW he will be playing the devil – so his look is clearly malleable. I can’t say I haven’t been guilty of over-scrutinizing the appearance of an actor playing Jesus, but I’ve moved past such immature notions and it shouldn’t influence an overall impression of a film.

Heaven Is For Real (2014, Sony Pictures)

I’ve seen plenty of films that earned accolades from religious and family-based organizations that were downright awful. There can be a convergence of quality cinema and doctrinally palatable material, but they are not mutually exclusive and a decision needs to be made on both sides. For the filmmaker and consumer story decisions need to take precedent, and for the viewer only interested in faith-based stories they need to decide whether they’d prefer being ignored or slightly misrepresented. For the latter at least creates a talking point. In seeing trailers for Noah I knew it took liberties with the story. I may not have liked all of the decision or some of the techniques, but I definitely appreciated the intent.

Godspell (1973, Columbia)

For Son of God its tonality and casting of main parts were its strengths, but its trying to be too inclusive in the narrative created some issues. In the most recent film Heaven is For Real I was surprised to find debate and grappling with belief all over the place and thought. I have yet to hear if these doubts also made people uncomfortable but, in this recent rash of religious fare, it may be the best albeit not based in Scripture. Ultimately, films have to treat Scripture as source material, be it blasphemy or not. Essentially the same rules that apply to adapting other works to screen. The Word is still there untouched. The film is just another rendition thereof. Godspell is not any less powerful to me just because Jesus didn’t really have a fro or striped pants.

2014 BAM Award Considerations – March

I decided that with the plethora of BAM Awards-related post towards the end of 2013 and the start of this year it was best to wait to the end of this month before officially recommencing the process.

I will post these lists towards the end of the month to allow for minimal updates. By creating a new post monthly, and creating massive combo files offline, it should make the process easier for me and more user-friendly for you, the esteemed reader. Enjoy.

Eligible Titles

Non-Stop
Muppets: Most Wanted
Noah
300: Rise of an Empire
Mission: Sputnik
Interior. Leather Bar.
To Dance Like a Man
Son of God

Best Picture

Mission: Sputnik

Best Foreign Film

Best Documentary

To Dance Like a Man

Most Overlooked Film

As intimated in my Most Underrated announcement this year, I’ve decided to make a change here. Rather than get caught up in me vs. the world nonsense and what a film’s rating is on an aggregate site, the IMDb or anywhere else, I want to champion smaller, lesser-known films. In 2011 with the selection of Toast this move was really in the offing. The nominees from this past year echo that fact. So here, regardless of how well-received something is by those who’ve seen it, I’ll be championing indies and foreign films, and the occasional financial flop from a bigger entity.

To Dance Like a Man
Mission: Sputnik

Best Director

Mission: Sputnik

Best Actress

Jennifer Connolly Noah

Best Actor

Liam Neeson Non-Stop
Russell Crowe Noah
Diogo Morgado Son of God

Best Supporting Actress

Emma Watson Noah
Lena Headey 300: Rise of an Empire
Yvonne Catterfeld Mission: Sputnik

Best Supporting Actor

Ray Winstone Noah
Max Mehmet Mission: Sputnik
Greg Hicks Son of God
Adrian Schiller Son of God

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Leading Role

Flora Thiemann Mission: Sputnik

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Leading Role

Finn Fiebig Mission Sputnik

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Supporting Role

Skylar Burke Noah

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Supporting Role

Emil von Schönfels Mission: Sputnik
Gavin Casalegno Noah
Nolan Gross Noah
Leo McHugh Carroll Noah

Best Cast

Noah

Best Youth Ensemble

Mission: Sputnik
Noah

Best Original Screenplay

Mission: Sputnik

Best Adapted Screenplay

Noah

Best Score

Mission: Sputnik

Best Editing

Non-Stop

Best Sound Editing/Mixing

300: Rise of an Empire

Best Cinematography

Noah
Mission: Sputnik
Son of God

Best Art Direction

Noah
Son of God

Best Costume Design

Mission: Sputnik
300: Rise of an Empire
Noah
Son of God

Best Makeup

Noah

Best Visual Effects

Non-Stop

Best (Original) Song

Mission: Sputnik
Muppets Most Wanted