Orange Rising Star Award 2012 Nominees

This week the nominees for the 2012 Orange Rising Star Award were announced. With voting handled by the Great British Public, this is the one time we get a say on who wins a proper award. It is our duty as UK citizens and internet based film fans to have that say and vote. Let’s have a completely objective look at the nominees.

Jessica Chastain
Appearing in no less than five films this year, Chastain has burst out of nowhere to become a big upcoming presence in modern cinema. Highlights for me include Take Shelter and Coriolanus.

Eddie Redmayne
With the look of a male Gemma Arterton about him, Redmayne has only one major release this year, and it isn’t out until tomorrow. Still, having the lead role in My Week with Marilyn amongst so many British stalwarts is impressive.

Adam Deacon
A good handful of films out this year and yet the only roles I am likely to have seen Deacon in are the two separate characters he’s played on Casualty. Anuvahood did look amusing though.

Chris Hemsworth
From Home and Away to playing Thor, God of Oversized Hammers, Hemsworth has come a long way in the past four years. FUN FACT: He also did one episode of Neighbours.

Tom Hiddleston
Hiddleston is all over the shop starring in everything from comic book blockbusters to arty family dramas, from Woody Allen to The Deep Blue Sea. His face terrifies me slightly but we shouldn’t hold that against him.

Jennifer Lawrence
Lovely Jennifer Lawrence went on from her Oscar nominated performance to play Anton Yelchin’s love interest twice and to take on the role of a blue X-Person. Soon to be heading up the Next Big Franchise, Lawrence’s star is on the rise.

Felicity Jones
HELLO! No, I must remain impartial. Since getting the nod from us early last year (way before everyone else), Jones has been on a dramatic rise topped by a win at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Not bad for a Brummie.

Chris O’Dowd
After slogging away on Channel 4 since 2006, O’Dowd has hit the big screen three times in the past two years. It was his appearance in Bridesmaids which everyone actually noticed though, providing a much-needed core to a fun but messy comedy.

There are your eight nominees, who will you vote for? We are remaining totally impartial…

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Felicity Jones and the Wise Move

Earlier this year Felicity Jones made a very rash decision for a young actress on the rise; she left a big budget film in which she was the lead to honour her commitment to a play in an off-West End theatre. In July of 2011 Felicity Jones starred in the Donmar Warehouse production of Luise Miller and abandoned the role of Snow White in Mirror, Mirror. Surely this was a huge mistake?

Before we decide, why not take a peak at the new trailer for Mirror, Mirror:

So while Jones gained acclaim for her role in Luise Miller and buzz built over her role in Like Crazy, Lily Collins has taken over the role of Snow White in a film with a much derided trailer which pales in comparison to its rival Snow White and the Huntsman. In all honesty I can’t even bring myself to watch the entire trailer for Mirror, Mirror, but I doubt the final 30 seconds showcase any better footage than the rest.

Since making the best career choice of her acting life Jones has filmed a second film with Like Crazy director Drake Doremus opposite Guy Pearce and signed on to Warren Beatty’s Howard Hughes biopic. I will never question her decisions again.

If you fancy seeing what Felicity Jones would look like in the Snow White role, hover your mouse over the image at the top of this post (please do, it took me hours to do).

Mild Concern BFI London Film Festival Awards 2011

Hello and welcome to the second annual Mild Concern BFI London Film Festival awards to celebrate and berate various films screened at the 55th BFI London Film Festival. Today I will be sitting in my tuxedo handing out the feted awards, the Raised EyebrowsTM, to any film which grabbed our attention in a positive or, equally likely, negative way.

Best Use of SymbolismWe Need to Talk About Kevin
A favourite to win a few bigger awards this year, even Best of the FestTM, but ultimately a few surprises took the crown. Instead Kevin is recognised for the amount of time poor Tilda Swinton is cleaning red off of her hands, her house and her car. Red is everywhere in Kevin. It’s not subtle but it’s certainly effective.

Best Use of Jon SnowCoriolanus
Jon Snow’s cinematic appearances are few and far between, it has been too long since Zombie Farm, but they are always a treat. Here he plays a newsreader with some classic Shakespearean dialogue. Best bit of the film.

Best Use of Felicity JonesLike Crazy
As the official Mild Concern crush we had to give Felicity Jones a mention. She is at the top of her game in Like Crazy and the film gives her a chance to show her acting chops, and captures her in a gorgeous light throughout. The more I think about the film, the better it seems.

Totally a Play AwardCarnage
Carnage was a hell of a lot of fun but, with four speaking parts and a set consisting of two rooms, hasn’t gained much in transitioning from stage play to motion picture. You’d struggle to find a theatre gathering this stellar cast though so all is forgiven.

Most Improved Performer – George Clooney for The Descendants
At last year’s festival The American was a major low point in my week, it was a dull and pointless film. Thankfully George Clooney took my criticism and returned this year with two films getting rave reviews. The Descendants takes the award for one good reason: it’s the one I saw.

Most Prolific Performer – John C. Reilly for Carnage, We Need to Talk About Kevin and Terri
John C. Reilly has the unique distinction of having a major role in three quality films at this year’s festival. In every film he is a less than perfect father figure to a troubled young boy. Don’t be fooled into thinking he is just playing the same role again and again, each time he plays a distinct character proving that Reilly is not a one trick pony.

Struggling to Stay Awake Award (Documentary)Crazy Horse
Visually beautiful and with a few nice insights into a famous Parisian club, Crazy Horse is a documentary with nothing to say but plenty of time to spend not saying it. I checked the time three times during the screening, willing the film to end and trying to keep my eyes open.

Struggling to Stay Awake Award (Feature)Last Screening
With Last Screening my battle to keep my eyes open was lost and became a battle to maintain consciousness. A film about a serial killer shouldn’t be boring, this is completely unacceptable.

Biggest Affront to Germaine GreerTales of the Night
In a series of fairy tales women fail to be anything more than pathetic damsels in distress. With the actors within the film amending some of the stories they fail to acknowledge women as competent human beings and give the female characters any initiative. It’s as if Buffy never happened.

Best Mix of Tears and Titters/Best Comedy50/50
I laughed, I cried (almost) and I found Seth Rogan funny throughout a film for the first time. 50/50 manages to fill a film about cancer with humour without ever belittling the disease. Good work people.

Scared to Walk Home Award/Best DramaMartha Marcy May Marlene
Stealing Kevin‘s award is a harrowing tale of a young girl who has escaped from a modern-day cult. A brilliant debut feature for director Sean Durkin and a stellar introduction to Elizabeth Olsen. You won’t ever want to be left alone again.

Best DocumentaryInto the Abyss
Werner Herzog certainly knows how to put together a documentary. Here he presents the story of a triple homicide without comment, simply allowing the people involved to tell the story from their point of view. Includes a moving scene where a man starts to cry as he tells a story about a squirrel.

Best AnimationAlois Nebel
So far from cartoon animation this gorgeous Czech film is a truly adult feature. The rotoscoped performances and mixture of CGI effects with hand drawn images make for a real work of art. Still not sure what was going on though.

Best Short FilmThe Monster of Nix
In a similar vein the best short film mixes live-action, computer animation and hand-painted background to make a gorgeous short film which could easily be extended to a full feature. If you’re listening Rosto, we want an extra hour please.

Best of the FestThe Artist
With so many heavy films the best thing we saw all festival was a French silent film set in Hollywood as the talkies began. Invigorating my love for cinema and hopes for its future The Artist is so much fun you can’t help but fall in love with it. It also has a release date now, get ready to smile on 30th December 2011.

A Note For Film-makers:
To collect your award simply send us an email with the address you’d like it sending to and we’ll post it on as soon as we cobble something together. And in case you’re wondering how to incorporate the award into your marketing campaign, here’s an example using Coriolanus:

If you missed any of our reviews, all films covered can be found by clicking on the appropriate thumbnail below:

Like Crazy – LFF Review

British student Anna (Felicity Jones) falls in love with an American, Jacob (Anton Yelchin), overstays her visa, gets deported and so begins a whole series of angst, longing, love and despair. Shot on the fly with improvised dialogue, director Drake Doremus is going to encourage comparisons with Blue Valentine as Like Crazy has a similar natural, unstructured style. Sadly I didn’t like Blue Valentine that much…

Like Crazy certainly felt authentic, the characters seemed like real people with real, mundane problems and spoke in a genuine way. Unfortunately hanging out with a couple isn’t always a bundle of fun. When Anna and Jacob are at the height of their romance it can feel a little awkward, even irritating, as you watch them find each other adorable and share intimate moments together. The pair don’t even let us see the contents of the notes they pass together. How annoying. Later on when their relationship is put under the strain of forced separation, you get the sensation of watching friends forging on with a relationship you believe to be long dead, which leads us to the other issue I have; I didn’t want their relationship to succeed.

Felicity Jones is as wonderful as you’d expect but Anton Yelchin’s Jacob simply isn’t good enough for her. While Anna flies across the country and risks violating her student visa for Jacob, he can’t even pay her a visit without having a loud strop. In a romantic drama I need to want the romance to succeed or the whole experience can become quite frustrating. While Anna has appalling taste in men, Jacob is much more successful; I defy you to not fall for either Felicity Jones or Jennifer Lawrence by the end.

Jones and co. should be commended though for creating characters real enough for me to get so annoyed by their choices. Alex Kingston and Oliver Muirhead as Anna’s parents are not only a good source of comedy but the sole characters I fully empathised with for as they watched their daughter make a series of clumsy mistakes in her love life.

Like Crazy is a gorgeous film with great performances but left me unsatisfied. Though with this being a realistic portrayal of a love story, perhaps that was the point?

Like Crazy is in UK cinemas on 3rd February 2012.

Page Eight – Tonight

Often the term “TV movie” means something of much lower quality than either regular TV or any film in the cinema, but this is different. This is the BBC and this is David Hare, a man with two Oscar nominations under his belt. Page Eight is a spy thriller about an MI5 officer (Bill Nighy) who sets out to find the truth after his friend and colleague dies suddenly.

Did you see what name I slipped in back there? That’s right, Bill Nighy is the star of this film. Bill Francis Nighy. And he’s not the only name to get excited about; Michael Gambon, Rachel Weisz, Ralph Fiennes and Felicity Jones round out the cast. It’s no surprise this “TV movie” has been doing the festival circuit with actors like that on board.

Page Eight is on BBC One tonight at 9pm, and is followed by David Hare’s The Hours. What can I say? I’m excited.