The British Academy of Film and Television Arts has released its list of nominees for the annual BAFTA Awards, also known as the British Oscars or the only big awards show with a category just for British only. Surprise, surprise, the Brits have come out on top; the historical drama, The King’s Speech swept the noms with 14 in total. Close behind is Darren Aronofsky’s surprising thriller, Black Swan with 12 total nominations. The British Film category that comes in addition to the BAFTA’s “Best Film” category gives a second chance to 127 Hours, which doesn’t make the top five in the overall category but has the chance to take the top Brits-only honor. Also of note, 14 year old Hailee Steinfeld, who’s blowing audiences away in December’s True Grit, merits the grownup honor of a nomination for best lead actress for her role in the film (mini fist pump!).
While the awards will be broadcast exclusively on BBC One, sorry America, it’s still worth knowing which films made the cut.
And the nominees are:
• Black Swan - Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver, Scott Franklin
• Inception - Emma Thomas, Christopher Nolan
• The King’s Speech - Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, Gareth Unwin
• The Social Network - Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca, Céan Chaffin
• True Grit - Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Outstanding British Film
• 127 Hours - Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy, Christian Colson, John Smithson
• Another Year - Mike Leigh, Georgina Lowe
• Four Lions - Chris Morris, Jesse Armstrong, Sam Bain, Mark Herbert, Derrin Schlesinger
• The King’s Speech - Tom Hooper, David Seidler, Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, Gareth Unwin
• Made in Dagenham - Nigel Cole, William Ivory, Elizabeth Karlsen, Stephen Woolley
Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer
• The Arbor - Director, Producer - Clio Barnard, Tracy O’Riordan
• Exit Through The Gift Shop - Director, Producer – Banksy, Jaimie D’Cruz
• Four Lions - Director/Writer - Chris Morris
• Monsters - Director/Writer – Gareth Edwards
• Skeletons - Director/Writer – Nick Whitfield
• 127 Hours - Danny Boyle
• Black Swan - Darren Aronofsky
• Inception - Christopher Nolan
• The King’s Speech - Tom Hooper
• The Social Network - David Fincher
• Black Swan - Mark Heyman, Andrés Heinz, John McLaughlin
• The Fighter - Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson
• Inception - Christopher Nolan
• The Kids Are All Right - Lisa Cholodenko, Stuart Blumberg
• The King’s Speech - David Seidler
• 127 Hours - Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy
• The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo - Rasmus Heisterberg, Nikolaj Arcel
• The Social Network - Aaron Sorkin
• Toy Story 3 - Michael Arndt
• True Grit - Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Film Not In the English Language
• Biutiful - Alejandro González Iñárritu, Jon Kilik, Fernando Bovaira
• The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo - Søren Stærmose, Niels Arden Oplev
• I Am Love - Luca Guadagnino, Francesco Melzi D’Eril, Marco Morabito, Massimiliano Violante
• Of Gods And Men - Xavier Beauvois
• The Secrets In Their Eyes - Mariela Besuievsky, Juan José Campanella
• Despicable Me - Chris Renaud, Pierre Coffin
• How To Train Your Dragon - Chris Sanders, Dean DeBlois
• Toy Story 3 - Lee Unkrich
• Javier Bardem – Biutiful
• Jeff Bridges - True Grit
• Jesse Eisenberg - The Social Network
• Colin Firth - The King’s Speech
• James Franco - 127 Hours
• Annette Benning - The Kids Are All Right
• Julianne Moore - The Kids Are All Right
• Natalie Portman - Black Swan
• Noomi Rapace - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
• Hailee Steinfeld - True Grit
• Christian Bale - The Fighter
• Andrew Garfield - The Social Network
• Pete Postlethwaite - The Town
• Mark Ruffalo - The Kids Are All Right
• Geoffrey Rush - The King’s Speech
• Amy Adams - The Fighter
• Helena Bonham Carter - The King’s Speech
• Barbara Hershey - Black Swan
• Lesley Manville - Another Year
• Miranda Richardson - Made in Dagenham
• 127 Hours - AR Rahman
• Alice In Wonderland - Danny Elfman
• How to Train Your Dragon - John Powell
• Inception - Hans Zimmer
• The King’s Speech - Alexandre Desplat
• 127 Hours - Anthony Dod Mantle, Enrique Chediak
• Black Swan - Matthew Libatique
• Inception - Wally Pfister
• The King’s Speech - Danny Cohen
• True Grit - Roger Deakins
For the full list of nominees, visit the BAFTA site, here.
Oh how Pixar has spoiled us. After a decade and a half of the studio releasing one classic after another from 1995’s Toy Story to last year’s Up! we’ve grown accustomed to animated films both visually stunning and emotionally captivating. And when another studio’s animated offering however solidly-crafted falls short of these impossibly high expectations it’s inevitably damned with the faint praise of “It’s not Pixar but...” Such is the plight of Dreamworks’ How to Train Your Dragon a movie only superior to say 65% of live-action films as opposed to 99% of them.
Based on the children’s novel by Cressida Cowell How to Train Your Dragon is set on the mythical island of Berk home to a tribe of macho stubborn Vikings who refuse to relocate despite near-constant attacks from fire-breathing dragons. The most macho and stubborn of the tribe is the their chief Stoick the Vast (Gerard Butler) a brave and burly ginger beast whose teenage son Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) inherited virtually none of his father’s traits. Scrawny self-effacing and intellectually curious — making him pretty much the anti-Viking — he’s a constant source of shame to his mighty father.
Eager to win his dad’s approval — and by extension the respect of his tribe — he enrolls in Dragon Training where young Vikings learn to slay the winged demons that prey upon Berk. But Hiccup is ultimately a pacifist at heart and when he manages to wound a highly-prized Night Fury dragon he can’t bring himself to finish off the injured creature choosing instead to nurse it back to health. He names the creature Toothless develops a tight bond with it and evolves into a sort of Jane Goodall of dragons learning how to subdue and eventually domesticate them.
As 3D-animated experiences go How to Train Your Dragon ranks among the best of them surpassing recent entries like Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and even Pixar’s last Oscar-winning release in its exploitation of the burgeoning format. An airborne sequence in which Hiccup pilots Toothless on their first test run together is truly exhilarating as is the film’s chaotic opening battle sequence between the Vikings and their dragon nemeses. But its story lacks the same energy its humor the same punch and its pace too often drags — a fatal flaw for a movie tasked with occupying the minds of fidgety pre-teens for 98 minutes.
Oh and don’t bother trying to figure out why all the child Vikings in How to Train Your Dragon have American accents while the adults have Scottish ones. Remember this is the same studio that gave us Shrek featuring another inexplicable Scottish brogue. The artists at Dreamworks just have a weird Scot fetish.
The Ugly Truth star portrays Viking father Stoick in the new DreamWorks movie, but he was shocked when he saw a preview of the film and realised how much his distinctive Scottish accent had changed since moving to Hollywood.
So Butler begged directors Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders to allow him back into the recording booth to rework his vocals.
He says, "I actually saw the movie and believe it or not, I actually thought my Scottish accent wasn't strong enough, so I went back in and redid a lot of it, trying to make it sound a little more Viking!"
One thing can be said about this Disney movie--it is certainly original. In a galaxy far far away we meet Experiment 626. Created illegally by a mad scientist named Jumba (voiced by David Ogden Stiers) this little blue alien--with four arms big ears and a very bad disposition--can't be reformed. The Galactic Federation rules he must be banished to an uninhabited planet but in the transfer 626 escapes and crash-lands on a primitive natural wildlife preserve--otherwise known as Earth. There on the island of Kauai he disguises himself as a dog named Stitch and befriends Lilo (voiced by Daveigh Chase) a lonely little Hawaiian girl with a penchant for Elvis Presley songs (and thankfully none of the characters burst into original songs). Lilo's older sister Nani (voiced by Tia Carrere) has become her sole guardian after their parents were killed but a big bad social worker named Cobra Bubbles (voiced by Ving Rhames) will take Lilo away if Nani can't prove she is fit to take care of her little sister. Of course throwing the destructive Stitch into the equation doesn't help matters much. Now being pursued by the Federation Jumba and an Earth expert named Pleakley (voiced by Kevin McDonald) the blue devil at first tries to find a way off the planet but soon takes a liking to his new surroundings and learns the meaning of "ohana"--the Hawaiian word for "family."
Although there are no "star" voices being utilized in Lilo & Stitch each character is still stamped with his or her own unique voice. Carrere (Wayne's girlfriend in Wayne's World) and newcomer Chase do a nice job with their sisterly roles and Rhames is easily recognizable as the tough Bubbles who seems a little bit more Men in Black than a mere social worker (obviously intended). Interestingly there really isn't one major villain. Characters like Jumba Bubbles and even Stitch start off as baddies but end up redeeming themselves. Only the Galactic police commissioner Captain Gantu (voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson) a 20-foot shark-like alien seems to be the one who never veers from his malevolent path to bring Stitch to justice but he's only in about one-third of the film. The star of the show is Stitch voiced by Chris Sanders. The devilish imp is a lot funnier when he's being a bad boy--running around saying the most awful things we can't understand--than being the good little alien. In one hilarious scene he builds a replica of San Francisco with Lilo's toys and then pretends he's Godzilla stomping and chewing his way through. But alas it's a Disney film so he has to come around realize he wants to be part of a family and find the goodness within himself. Ho hum.
Disney Studios were once the giants of animation. Remember when they could do no wrong as their movies grossed millions of dollars? Sure they still pride themselves on their heartwarming cutesy movies but as the hip and funny computer-generated Shrek and Ice Age dominate the current trend in animation Disney is having to keep up with the Joneses. With Lilo & Stitch it is trying. This movie is in the same vein as Aladdin and The Emperor's New Groove in which the humor and wit aim right for the older audiences--and it's appreciated. There are several laugh-out-loud moments. Plus it looks like Disney animated films are finally moving away from the original songs (which were never the same since lyricist Howard Ashman died). It's a nice change of pace. The animation is also up to par illustrating a lush and beautiful Hawaiian landscape. (But how could you go wrong with drawing Hawaii?) Still the true audience is the younger set so those Disney-esque elements have to be in place. Stitch has to become "human." Things have to wrap up neatly at the end. Maybe someday just once a Disney animated film will surprise us.