BAFTA Rising Star Nominees 2014

Bafta Rising Star Nominees 2014

This year’s BAFTA Film Awards will be presented on the 16th of February and there is one award in particular that never fails to catch my attention; the Rising Star Award. The unique nature of the award is that the winner is voted for by the public and this is both intriguing and to the awards detriment. The award will sometimes go to the nominee with the biggest fan base or highest profile rather than an up and coming talent that could really do with the encouragement.

Yesterday BAFTA announced the five nominees as selected by a panel of industry experts and I’m here to pass judgement on them and see who I think should win.

Dane Dehaan

Dane Dehaan
Dehaan first grabbed my attention with his Season 3 role in Gabriel Byrne’s dialogue heavy TV epic In Treatment as the troubled teen Jesse D’Amato. Since then he has perfected the role of troubled genius in films such as Chronicle and Kill Your Darlings. Dehaan managed to ground the supernatural Chronicle and make it all the more real by putting in a truly threatening performance. I may not have enjoyed Kill Your Darlings but it certainly wasn’t Dehaan’s fault. His next major appearance is taking over the role of Harry Osborn in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (a casting spookily predicted by Stephen on this blog) and I for one am quietly excited. As someone with some solid but low-key performances under his belt and more mainstream fare up ahead I can easily see what makes Dehaan a candidate for the Rising Star Award.

Will Poulter

Will Poulter
Oh Will, where did it all go wrong? Six years ago Poulter debuted in the adorable British film Son of Rambow directed by Garth Jennings in which Will played the role of Lee Carter. Since then he has taken on a few TV roles, appeared as Eustace in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and acted in the critically acclaimed Wild Bill. Most recently he has undone all that good work by helping to make the atrocity that was We’re the Millers. Sorry Will but I really can’t get past that film.

Lupita Nyong’o

Lupita Nyong’o
Lupita Nyong’o has a 100% flawless record of five-star films by virtue of the fact that her sole cinematic release to date is the, as yet unreleased in the UK, 12 Years a Slave. In this future Oscar winner (trust me) Lupita plays a young slave woman who is separated from her child and suffers the worst brutality seen in the film. As an attractive young woman she suffers from the amorous advances of her “owner” and the jealous rages of his wife all while grieving for her absent child. Nyong’o’s performance is striking and heartbreaking and I’d say she deserved this award if I didn’t already think she was on her way to the Best Actress Oscar instead.

Léa Seydoux

Léa Seydoux
Léa Seydoux has been working solidly in French cinema since 2006 and made a few appearances in high-profile American fare including Midnight in Paris, Inglourious Basterds, and Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. What has really brought Seydoux to everyone’s attention is her supporting role in the epic love story (and my favourite film of 2013) that is Blue is the Warmest Colour. Much as I loved her performance in the film I can’t help but think that her co-star Adèle Exarchopoulos is more deserving of a position on this list. Exarchopoulos carried the film on her shoulders and has a much less developed CV than Seydoux. All that said I am very excited to see where Léa’s career goes next particularly with her role in the remake of La belle & la bête coming up later this year.

George Mackay

George Mackay
Sadly, despite his recent role in the Proclaimers musical Sunshine on Leith, I have no idea who George Mackay is. Perhaps this anonymity makes him the perfect nominee for an award aimed at encouraging a burgeoning career or perhaps I just need to widen my cinematic horizons so that an actor’s entire career doesn’t pass me by again. Sorry George!

For me the winner has to be Dane DeHaan. Despite having a good crop of films behind him DeHaan has not yet become a household name and has put in a series of solid performances in smaller films. The others in the list have either risen too much in my opinion or made one bad film with Jennifer Aniston that i can’t get past. Not naming any names obviously. George Mackay prove me wrong, I’ll be sure to watch How I Live Now when it comes out on DVD.

Disagree with me? Of course you do! Have your say by voting over at the Rising Star Award page.

Out Now – 23rd August 2013

We're the Lovelace Park

This week your local cinema is receiving a fresh dose of porn stars, strippers, drug smugglers, and dinosaurs. This list is not exhaustive because some distributors are bad at making information readily available online and I am lazy. Good luck out there.

Elysium
Social commentary in the form of a sci-fi action flick as Matt Damon sets out to bridge the gap between the wealthy citizens who live on a space station and everyone else forced to live on Earth in a dystopian future (yes, another one) when Earth looks a lot like it did in Wall-E. Go to the cinema, pay £10 for a ticket and spend another £10 on snacks and sit back and cheer on the poverty-stricken. You make me sick.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
Erm… a series of young adult books I was previously unaware of have been adapted into a film. Let’s have a peek at the synopsis: “Clary Fray learns that she descends from a line of warriors who protect our world from demons. She joins forces with others like her and heads into a dangerous alternate New York called Downworld.” So Buffy then?

We’re the Millers
Funny story; I hate this film. An excerpt from my review: “Good grief”. That pretty much sums it up.

What Maisie Knew
What looks to be an incredible family drama about a girl caught between her parents’ as they struggle through a custody battle and start to date young attractive blondes. I know this all sounds a little dry but the trailer may change your mind:

Lovelace
Amanda Seyfried plays a porn star! Woooooooo! A porn star who was emotionally abused by her husband! Yeah, feel a bit guilty now don’t you? Interestingly none of the poster quotes call her performance brave. Is nudity worth nothing any more!?

Jurassic Park 3D (IMAX only)
It has been 20 years since Jurassic Park was first released and now it is back in 3D and only at the IMAX. I love the film with a real passion but am wary about this endeavour if only because I worry that decades old CGI may not look so great when stretched across the largest screens we have.

The Dyatlov Pass Incident (limited release)
“Five young filmmakers retrace the steps of a doomed group of hikers in pursuit of an unsolvable mystery.” Why would anyone pursue an unsolvable mystery? That will only lead to frustration and infighting. Much better to pursue a solvable mystery such as “how much is that doggy in the window” or “is this fence electrified”.

The Kings of Summer (limited release)
I’ll let our intern Mark Kermode handle this one:

Consider this a blanket “yes” to anyone who wants to invite me to see this with them. I will allow you to put your arm across my shoulders and maybe a kiss on the cheek.

We’re the Millers – Film Review

We're the Millers

David (Jason Sudeikis) is a drug dealer with a problem. After all his drugs and money are stolen in a tame mugging that escalates bizarrely he is tasked with collecting a large amount of weed from Mexico and bringing it back to the US in order to settle his debts with a tonally jarring crime lord played by Ed Helms. In order to raise minimal suspicion as he crosses the border David hires himself a family in the form of unemployed stripper Rose (Jennifer Aniston), sweet but neglected Kenny (Will Poulter), and homeless teen Casey (Emma Roberts). The four travel to Mexico in a giant RV and surprisingly few hijinks ensue.

We’re the Millers opens with quite a dark, almost angry, tone with each of the four main characters leading miserable lives and the only laughs coming from the bleakness of their existence, snide asides at one another, and a general sneering attitude towards happy families or anyone with a decent job. You might think that this is a brave choice, that making an essentially joyless comedy might allow it to stand out amongst the general mediocrity of mainstream comedy, but instead it produces a comedy that makes you feel sad and a little bored rather than wanting to laugh out loud.

We're the Millers 1

The first third of the film is relatively uneventful as the Millers (as our faux-family like to be known) make it to Mexico and back with only minor set backs and with any conflict restricting to selfish bickering within the RV. Only once they have the characters back in America do the four (FOUR!!!) screenwriters realise that they need to conjure up some events to stop the film ending after 45 minutes and without anything going wrong. As such the film changes gears so forcibly it’s amazing it doesn’t break down like the Miller’s RV inevitably does (nice simile there).

Suddenly the Millers have driven from their slightly dull but pleasantly dark comedy into a road runner cartoon where a wrench to the face is only a minor inconvenience and any seemingly uptight couples are secretly looking to swing. Plot devices and characters are introduced one at a time to briefly amuse us before being discarded to make room for the next set piece to be awkwardly set up without any real flow in between. With a road trip comedy there is clearly too easy a temptation to essentially make a series of sketches tied together by a quartet of unlikable self-seekers. The result is a film that is far too long (110 minutes!!!), slightly incoherent, and nowhere near funny enough.

We're the Millers 2

I will excuse Will Poulter who played Kenny from my unlikable and unfunny branding as he somehow manages to make his slightly wet character the only sympathetic person on-screen and is the source of the film’s few real laughs. Yes the film had some laughs, and some of them were genuine too. Occasionally though I would find my companion laughing and then looking deeply ashamed at himself. Sometimes in a comedy you laugh because you feel you should, not because anything particularly funny is happening. A portion of the audience at our screening did enjoy the film and a rather well spoken older lady sat behind us did the classic laugh-and-clap at least once. (Pre-screening eavesdropping revealed that she is worried that her lodger has a drinking problem but that’s not for us to worry about now.)

The occasional laugh spread out over 110 minutes is not enough compensation from the sheer boredom the rest of the film brings. The cast do what they can but ultimately there isn’t enough film for them to hold together. Despite being genuinely unpleasant to one another throughout we are encouraged to buy into a sudden shift towards the end that has them seeing themselves as a real family. This conclusion is not justified by anything that precedes it and shows the writers’ complete lack of commitment to any characterisation they could previous have claimed to have achieved.

In summary: Good grief.

We’re the Millers is released in the UK on 23rd August 2013 and frankly you’ve got better things to be doing.