BAFTA, BAFTA, Read All About It

Did you watch the BAFTAS? Channelling the best Spirit of Emma Thompson we armed ourselves with a glass of liquid refreshment and sat back to enjoy / cringe*. Some winners pleased us, some disappointed us. And we weren’t sure about Brangelina’s Posh ‘n’ Becks circa ‘99 matching tuxes look. Fashion Police aside, here’s our take on the main results. *see Spirit of Emma Thompson

Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)american-hustle-j-_2769653a
Nominees: Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years A Slave), Ophra Winfrey (The Butler), Julia Roberts (August Osage County), Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine)

Reeeally? We love Jennifer, we do, but she can do ‘suburban psycho’ in her little finger’s beauty sleep. And she never bothered showing up, delegating a vague list of generic thanks. Come on, BAFTA, that gong belonged to Lupita Nyong’o and you, and she, and The Sloth knows it.

Best Supporting Actor: Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)
bakharNominees: Daniel Bruhl (Rush), Bradley Cooper (American Hustle), Matt Damon (Behind the Candelabra), Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)

DELIGHTED with this! A barn-storming performance from a non-professional actor. And he seemed like such a sweetie! All the more kudos to his charismatically nasty onscreen presence.

Best Actress: Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
Blue-Jasmine-Cate-Blanchett-2Nominees: Amy Adams (American Hustle), Sandra Bullock (Gravity), Judi Dench (Philomena), Emma Thompson (Saving Mr Banks)

Fair game. Queen Cate had this sewn up when Blue Jasmine released back in August, long before Mary Poppins was even a twinkle in Emma’s slightly sozzled eye. Plus which, Cate is way too scary to have given it to anyone else.

Best Actor: Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave)
Chiwetel-Ejiofor--12-Years-a-SlaveNominees: Christian Bale (American Hustle), Bruce Dern (Nebraska), Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street), Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips)

He knew this was coming. He did everything but install a chaise longue and ice bucket on the podium. But we’ll forgive him a somewhat luvvie-ish acceptance as it was truly deserved. That scene of resignation / defiance as Solomon reluctantly joins his fellow slaves in song still gives us goosebumps.

Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)
alfosnoNominees: Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips), Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave), David O Russell (American Hustle), Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street)

Tough call between Alfonso and Steve, but probably the right one. Turing two actors, a green screen and an army of computer geeks into a tale of emotion, suspense, shock and awe takes one heck of a director’s vision.

Outstanding British Film: Gravity
2013_gravity_movie-wideNominees: Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom / Philomena / Rush / Saving Mr Banks / The Selfish Giant

Interesting loose definitions of British. The Sloth clearly nodded off whilst Britain conquered most of the Western World. Note to self to update our old Geography textbooks. Had we been in charge of this category it would have started and ended with The Selfish Giant.

Best Film: 12 Years A Slave
12-years-a-slaveNominees: American Hustle / Captain Phillips / Gravity / Philomena

Well it had to be. Having sidestepped the two horse race by assigning Gravity the random gong above, 12 Years was cleared for a straight romp to the finish. Certainly a better solution that the Golden Globes American Hustle wimp-out-shocker

Rising Star Award
millersFinally, we must mention Will Poulter’s Rising Star award, as voted for by the public. From Son of Rambow to Wild Bill to We’re The Millers, we’re glad to see he won by juggling some sizeable balls.

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Captain Phillips

captainShould the Oscar nominations dry up tomorrow, The Sloth feels Tom Hanks should definitely consider an alternative career in shipping. In Captain Phillips, he could not look more like a distinguished, salty sea dog if he shivered his timbers and danced the hornpipe.

Based on a true story, Captain Phillips recounts the terrifying capture of the Maersk Alabama, a US cargo ship, by Somali pirates in 2009. Sailing on a notorious route from Oman to Mombasa, the ship’s route took it out of the main shipping lanes to sail alone past the Somali coast, leaving it vulnerable to attack.  Boarded by a skiff of armed pirates, Captain Phillips displayed astonishing self possession and quick thinking in successfully protecting his crew from the pirates only for himself to be taken hostage by them in a lifeboat, necessitating the involvement of the US navy in his rescue.

The realism is superb and key to the success of the whole film. Unlike standard Hollywood procedure of shooting water scenes in giant  tanks, director Paul Greengrass – gasp! – shot everything on a real container ship on a real sea, capturing the vulnerability of the vessel despite its immense scale and the terror the crew must have felt on its takeover. Not to leave it there, the actors selected to play the Somali pirates were all non-professionals, picked from an open casting. And this was surely a stroke of genius, for their weathered physicality adds immensely to the tension.

This is being primarily touted as Tom’s big gig and, to be fair, he does a thoroughly splendid job – wait for the final scenes for his Big Oscar Moment. However The Sloth was most impressed by the novice Barkhad Abi as Muse, the pirate captain. By professional standards he is terrific, by non-professional, quite astonishing. Stick a parrot on your shoulder and go see.

UK theatrical release 18 October / UK DVD release 10 February

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