Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Wins Top Prize at TIFF

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Martin McDonagh’s, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri took home the Audience Award at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sunday. It beat out other favorites like The Shape of Water, Call Me By Your Name, Lady Bird, and Stronger. I, Tonya was first runner-up and Call Me by Your Name was second runner-up.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri stars Frances McDormand as a mother who becomes frustrated by the police’s progress in her daughter’s murder that she rents out three billboards with a message for the town’s police. Also starring Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell, the film has already received significant Oscar buzz since its premiere at TIFF.

Fourteen of TIFF’s Audience Award winners have gone on to become Best Picture nominees since 1978, including last year’s La La Land. Five of the prize winners ended up winning Best Picture, Chariots of Fire, American Beauty, Slumdog Millionaire, The King’s Speech, and 12 Years a Slave.

The last time a movie won the TIFF Audience Award but failed to earn a Best Picture nomination was Where Do We Go Now in 2010.  Three Billboards now gets a major publicity boost and joins the Oscar buzz conversation.

List of TIFF winners:

People’s Choice: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Martin McDonagh (Runner-up: I, Tonya, Craig Gillespie. Second runner-up: Call Me By Your Name, Luca Guadagnino)

Midnight Madness: Bodied, Joseph Kahn (Runner-up: The Disaster Artist, James Franco)

Documentary: Faces Places, Agnès Varda, JR (Runner-up: Long Time Running, Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier)

Best Canadian Short Film: Pre-Drink, Marc-Antoine Lemire

Best Short Film: Min börda, Niki Lindroth von Bahr

Best Canadian First Feature: Luk’Luk’I, Wayne Wapeemukwa

Best Canadian Feature Film: Les Affamés, Robin Aubert

Toronto Platform Prize: Sweet Country, Warwick Thornton

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Review of Dunkirk

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Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk doesn’t waste anytime. It gets right to the action. No time for character development, no time for introductions and no time for senseless drama. You are overwhelmingly immersed in this epic at the first frame. This film about the Dunkirk evacuation is not your conventional war movie. Nolan throws you right into the middle of the race against time to rescue hundreds of thousands of Allied troops from a beach in northern France in the early summer of 1940.

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Right from the start Hans Zimmer’s score sucks you into the action. This puts you right there with teenage soldier Tommy (Fionn Whitehead) as he races to get off the Dunkirk beach. We are put into a small boat driven by Mark Rylance, a skipper sailing across the Channel. One of the civilian boats called to safe the stranded soldiers. We are also in the cockpit of Tom Hardy’s fighter plane as he fights to provide air support to the rescue efforts on the beach

These are the three separate storylines that take place in three different time frames. One week on land, one day at sea and one hour in the air. Nolan plays with the timeline of each story to give us incredibly suspenseful drama that conveys the panic, terror and endurance of these soldiers. Nobody gets back story or a history of their experiences. No heroic speeches.

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Dunkirk has so little dialogue that it could worked have worked with none at all. The sounds of the war are enough to highlight the terror. In fact, the few words that are spoken are in a heavy British accent that for me it was pretty much unintelligible. From what I could gather Tommy meets another solider played by Harry Styles. Not sure why Styles was cast with this group of mostly unknowns, but he is credible as one of the desperate survivors.

Nolan likes shooting on film and despises CGI. He uses real WWII planes and boat replicas which accounted for much of the films budget. Hundreds of extras were used to represent the thousands on the beach without the use of CGI. Nolan shot the entire film using IMAX cameras, which are big, bulky and added to the challenge of shooting in the air and underwater. He accomplishes it all with tremendous detail.

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There is no question that Dunkirk looks and sounds great. Non-stop action from start to finish. Never a dull moment. Without a doubt it is the best movie of the year so far. If there is anything critical to say about Dunkirk it would be the lack of character history. I would have cared more about their fate if I know a little bit more about who they were and where they came from. It was difficult to get the feeling of despair on the beach that was no doubt felt in real life. One scene of a soldier seemingly swimming to his death is the only time we see the hopelessness. Dunkirk is not the greatest war movie if all time, but it certainly belongs on the list of one of the best.

I don’t know how Dunkirk can get ignored at Oscar time. It can easily get nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Cinematography.

My Grade: A-  

Only the Brave Trailer

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Everyday its another trailer for the Fall/Winter season. Today its Only the Brave. A film based on the elite crew of firefighters who battled Yarnell Hill Fire, a wildfire in Prescott, Arizona in June 2013 that claimed the lives of 19 members of their team.

Only the brave stars Josh Brolin, Miles Teller, Jeff Bridges, James Badge Dale, Taylor Kitsch and Jennifer Connelly.

Only the Brave is scheduled to be released on October 20th by Sony Pictures. The film was originally set to be released by Lionsgate on September 22, 2017, but a disagreement between Lionsgate and production company Black Label Media saw the distribution rights change to Sony.

Dunkirk Reviews Are In and it’s Great

 

The embargo on Dunkirk reviews was lifted at 4pm EST on Monday .  Based on the reviews so far, Christopher Nolan has made the best movie of his career.

Currently has a Rotten Tomatoes score of  97%

The Metacritic score is currently at 96. One of the highest scores on the site.

Twitter was abuzz yesterday.

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Not everyone loved it. Like this guy from Compuserve? Is that even still a thing?

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Oscar Watch – Mudbound

Mudbound had a lot of great buzz coming out of Sundance this year. Directed by Dee Rees and starring Carey Mulligan, Jason Mitchell and Mary J. Blige. It deals with two men returning home from World War II to work on a farm in rural Mississippi where they struggle to deal with racism and adjusting to life after war.” 

This is right up The Academy’s alley. Except for the fact that it is being distributed by Netflix. The film premiered to a standing ovation at Sundance and Netflix spent $12.5 million to get the rights. Making it the largest deal to come out of Sundance this year. 

Movie studios don’t like streaming services getting too much attention, but Netflix and Amazon are willing to take the risks that the majors won’t. Although Amazon made it in last year with Manchester by the Sea. It’s probably only a matter of time before Netflix is accepted. 

The film premiered to a standing ovation at the Sundance Film Festival. But the movie’s substantial budget (north of $10 million) made a sale close slowly, after a bidding war failed to materialize. Even so, Netflix spend $12.5 million on the film, making it the largest deal to come out of Sundance 2017.

No release date yet and trailer coming soon. 

Marshall Gets a Trailer

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The first trailer for Marshall was released this week. Chadwick Boseman stars as Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Supreme Court justice and features his battles through his career-defining case, the Brown v. Board of Education trial in 1954.

Josh Gad plays Sam Friedman an attorney hired by the NAACP and worked as Marshall’s partner.

Marshall opens October 13th.