Why Can’t the US Try Japan’s Marketing for ‘The Boy and The Heron’? | FirstShowing.net

Why Can’t the US Try Japan’s Marketing for ‘The Boy and The Heron’?

by Alex Billington
September 27, 2023

It’s the year 2023 and for the first time in 10 years we’re being graced with the presence of a new Hayao Miyazaki movie. The animation legend has directed his 12th feature, known in English as The Boy and the Heron, originally titled How Do You Live? (or 君たちはどう生きるか) in Japanese. The film already opened in Japan in July right in the middle of the summer, and it’s set to open in US theaters nationwide in December this fall. Described as a “big fantastical film”, it follows a boy named Mahito Maki, who discovers an abandoned tower in his new town and enters a fantastical world with a talking grey heron. The release in Japan was a fascinating experiment – because it opened without any marketing other than one poster and the title. Yet it did quite well – playing #1 at the Japanese box office for two weeks in a row in July. Though the initial reception in Japan was lukewarm with mostly positive reviews (no one called it a “masterpiece”), Western audiences are going crazy for it ever since its premiere at the 2023 Toronto Film Festival. But I’ve been wondering – why can’t the US distributor also open it without any marketing? And why did they cave?

Anyone that has been following FirstShowing for the 17 years we’ve been around knows I have always been super critical of Hollywood marketing, in a brutally honest way that bothers some who don’t dare mess with Hollywood. Sometimes they do brilliant things (e.g. The Dark Knight & Tron Legacy viral campaigns) but more often than not they make some mistakes or stick to the most generic, tried-and-true tactics. Nowadays, Hollywood marketing has relapsed into following some of the most boring, never-take-a-single-risk, follow-every-old-rule strategies. There used to be a time when marketing ideas would be so smart and fresh they’d influence pop culture and establish trends that others would follow, however nowadays they’re all controlled by existing trends and pop culture and mindlessly follow the latest fads like lemmings. Which is why I’m not surprised that GKids, the US distributor of Hayao Miyazaki’s The Boy and the Heron, decided to throw out the original Studio Ghibli no-marketing tactic and go with a conventional campaign. Perhaps they had no choice? Of course they had a choice. It seems they got cold feet, and decided they had to go back to old ways.

About a month or two before the movie’s initial Japanese opening on July 14th, 2023, reports from Japan quoted Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki saying they would release the film without any marketing material or plot synopsis or any images or anything else. Everyone knew about the movie anyway. “Over the years, we’ve done various things to get audiences to come see our films,” Suzuki told Bungei Shunju. “But I thought, ‘That’s enough of that.‘ It’s no fun doing the same thing over and over.” On the same day as the Japanese release in July, GKids in America (who has handled many Studio Ghibli & anime films) announced they will be releasing this movie in the US. Their initial press release included this fairly vibrant statement:

GKids states: “In an unprecedented decision by Studio Ghibli, no images, trailers, synopses, advertisements, or other information about the film have been made available to the public prior to its release in theaters in Japan. In keeping with this policy, GKIDS will not release any further details or marketing materials at this time.

Something happened between this announcement in July and the movie being selected to premiere at TIFF in September. For months there were rumors and speculation that How Do You Live? (what it was known by at the time) was going to premiere at Cannes or at Venice. It wasn’t ready for Cannes because, true to their word, Ghibli wanted the Japanese to experience the film first before any international audiences at festivals. After the Japanese release in July, then came more questions – will it be released internationally by the end of 2023 and by whom? When exactly? How long do the rest of us have to wait? Will it show up at film fests? Which ones? It’s showing at tons of other festivals this fall – after TIFF, it’s screening at San Sebastian, New York, Sitges, London, Chicago, Lyon; with release dates around the world set throughout the fall. Of course, the festivals MUST always have at least ONE photo for a film for its premiere. This is standard practice. But a few days before the TIFF premiere, GKids dropped a teaser featuring around 60 seconds of actual footage. No longer a surprise… It’s the same standard marketing tactic as most festival films that have a distributor.

While reading other articles about the Studio Ghibli marketing decision for The Boy and the Heron, I came across one that couldn’t understand the original Japanese strategy, claiming that “no one would even know about the film?! How would they know it exists?!” 🤦 🤦 Goodness. This is a blatant misunderstanding of marketing and how the world works, how people communicate with each other. Miyazaki’s film is a unique case. Of course it doesn’t make sense to try and open an indie film that no one has heard about without any marketing. But Hayao Miyazaki is a cinema legend! Yes, it’s true, he’s known around the world and beloved around the world. It’s also a complete misunderstanding to claim only Japanese people are familiar with his name and could be excited about a film just because he made one. Especially after Miyazaki announced he was “retiring” after The Wind Rises in 2013, followed by Studio Ghibli (historically one of the finest movie studios to ever exist) announcing they were also shutting down / no longer making anything new. The fact both came back and went into production in 2018 on a new Miyazaki film already put this on most people’s radar. Everyone knows it’s coming, they’re just waiting to see it. Which is why this innovative tactic worked.

The Boy and The Heron Trailer

Many movie fans are tired of trailers that show too much, and marketing overload that leads to exhaustion before a movie even arrives in theaters. This is all too common to encounter these days… Despite entirely bogus Hollywood marketing research claiming that “most” people are only interested in watching a movie (that isn’t some major franchise/IP they’re already familiar with) if they show them most of the movie in the trailer to hook them. I’ve never met or talked with a single person who agrees with that. Most cinephiles are tired of trailers like this. Even casual moviegoers will say, oh now they don’t need to waste their time/money watching a movie because most of it was shown in the trailer already. Why does Hollywood ignore all these voices and instead rely on some random market research they wasted money on? This is a common mistake within the Hollywood marketing system. Thankfully, Ghibli picked up on this vibe with audiences in 2023. Explaining why they made this no-marketing decision for the release, this is the quote that Suzuki provided:

“So, no trailers or TV commercials at all. No newspaper ads either. Deep down, I think this is what moviegoers latently desire. In my opinion, in this age of so much information, the lack of information is entertainment. I don’t know if this will work. But as for me, I believe in it, so this is what I’m trying to do.” –Toshio Suzuki

He’s right. Most importantly, it did work. Miyazaki’s highly anticipated new movie opened at #1 at the Japanese box office. I will let Wikipedia report the facts: “In Japan, The Boy and the Heron grossed $13.2 million (1.83 billion yen) in its opening weekend, becoming the biggest opening in Studio Ghibli’s history and surpassing Howl’s Moving Castle’s 1.48 billion yen debut in 2004. The film earned $1.7 million from 44 IMAX screens, setting a new 3-day record. It attracted 1.35 million viewers and exceeded 2.14 billion yen ($15.2 million) in box office revenue in its first four days.” It stayed in the #2 spot at the box office in Japan throughout all of August, only dropping to #4 after it had played for 7 weeks. That’s quite an achievement for a movie that had no marketing. Which is the point. It wasn’t their goal to maximize revenue, it was their goal to release a new Miyazaki movie and let fans experience it fresh, without anything guiding them before they go in to watch. This is an exciting experience. (It’s what I love about watching films at festivals, too.) Hollywood could & should learn from this, and I thought GKids would follow suit. Though apparently not… I guess fear took over and led them back to the safe comfort of their old tactics, which I think is depressing.

This is when someone usually exclaims, “well, Alex, that would never work outside of Japan! It only worked there because they know Miyazaki and Ghibli and love them already.” Yeah, not true. Not at all. Miyazaki is absolutely adored worldwide just as much as he is in Japan. No question about it. Ever since the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes took over Hollywood earlier in 2023, I’ve been lamenting how Hollywood has generally refused to try different marketing. They’re stuck on this archaic notion that actors doing interviews is the only real way to market a movie (or at least turn it into a box office hit). I was hoping some studios would try something new, try some clever ideas that might still get moviegoers’ attention. Every movie is different, and some require different campaigns, but Suzuki is right: “in this age of so much information, the lack of information is entertainment.” Even if it didn’t turn out to be a good movie in the end, the bold marketing tactic of releasing a surprise trailer for The Cloverfield Paradox during the Super Bowl (in 2018) at the same moment the movie is available on Netflix worked well (“According to Nielsen, nearly 785,000 viewers watched on the night of Super Bowl LII; by three days, over 2.8 million watched, 5 million after a week.”)

Why is Hollywood so afraid of doing anything different with marketing? Where have all the bold marketers gone? Why is doing something unique and innovative so scary nowadays? Especially if it has a proven track record of working. And why is GKids going against their own claim that they will follow what Studio Ghibli did and not release any info or marketing material? Maybe they were pushed by the festivals and by other distributors trying to release it worldwide. Maybe they got afraid that “no one would know about it” without marketing (which, for the record, is complete & utter nonsense, especially with these festival premieres). Whatever the case, I’m disappointed to see them give in and go back to the usual ways. Indiewire posted an article with the headline “The Boy and the Heron Is Studio Ghibli and GKIDS’ Biggest Marketing Challenge Yet” featuring quotes from GKids’ president of distribution, Dave Jesteadt, who claims “he’s not worried about the economics of the film and is confident audiences will show up.” The rest of his quotes sound like a stodgy old professor reading from his dusty textbook in Marketing 101 class at university, while students are trying to jump in with “but” & “well”, he just waves them off with his hand and points to the book. “This is the way, and we will never try anything different.” At least that’s what it sounds like from his quotes there…

I’m just tired of Hollywood never, ever having the courage to try something different, to do something new, to take a risk, and to let it pay off in the long run. There’s a simple strategy they could’ve followed – release nothing but one or two images during the festival run, create one new poster for the US release, let it open first in early December as they have it scheduled already. THEN release a trailer, THEN kick in marketing, THEN let the movie build to become a hit through December and January. This is even the perfect time to use that post-release buzz to get young generations who are not as familiar with Studio Ghibli to watch more of their films. They’ve already done this for years with Ghibli Fest re-runs. This is where real innovation in Hollywood marketing can come from – making bold choices. But I guess 2023 is not the year they want to try anything new. Suzuki’s quotes are still the best. He knows moviegoers want to watch good movies: “They’ll want to see for themselves what the film is about. And to do that, they’ll have to go to a theater.” Yep.


Find more posts: Animation, Discuss, Editorial, Feat, Foreign Films

Source link

#Japans #Marketing #Boy #Heron #FirstShowingnet

Making Sense of Life – On the Philosophy of ‘Barbie’ & ‘Oppenheimer’ | FirstShowing.net

Making Sense of Life – On the Philosophy of ‘Barbie’ & ‘Oppenheimer’

by Alex Billington
July 24, 2023

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes.” –Proust. Two of the best movies of 2023 are now playing in theaters worldwide: Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer and Greta Gerwig’s Barbie. Yep – they’re both outstanding movies deserving of all the praise, both ambitious and unique and creative, both made by exceptionally talented filmmakers who understand the terrific power of visual storytelling. They may differ in many ways, especially in tone, but they’re actually quite similar in many other ways. I am in awe and delighted that we have two of the most philosophical movies I’ve seen in years, both big budget studio projects, both intellectually stimulating, showing on big screens and drawing big crowds. This is an invigorating moment for cinema that we should relish. What I appreciate the most is how much each film relies on intellectual storytelling, with no desire to pander to audiences or be accessible to everyone. There is so much to discuss about each, and I want to dig into the philosophy present in both films. To borrow a quote on Twitter: “It’s not Barbie and Oppenheimer. It’s Barbie, and it’s Oppenheimer.”

I’m elated these films are damn good and especially so smart. I’ve watched both Barbie and Oppenheimer twice already; the second viewing is so much more fascinating, as I can observe in closer detail everything these filmmakers are doing and how this works wonderfully in the movie. Intellectual filmmaking is rather uncommon these days and yet we have two big movies pushing boundaries again. Nolan’s Oppenheimer isn’t just a story about the man who led the team that created the atomic bomb, it’s about the moral implications and existential struggles that come with that. It’s about how hard it is to handle the guilt and sadness that comes with knowing your creation killed so many people, then lead into a world perpetually fearful of death. Gerwig’s Barbie, on the other hand, also deals with existential worries. What happens when you go out into the “real world” and learn that who you are, and the world you come from, are not actually representative of the real world. It was just a utopian fantasy, and the real world is much more sexist and greedy and careless. Both films ask similar profound philosophical questions: what does it mean to be you, how do you make sense of your life, specifically in relation to how your life has impacted the world – in both good & bad ways.

Watching Oppenheimer is like watching a horror movie (though critics are arguing about whether it’s horror or something else) – at some point we realize this well-respected, optimistic scientist is going to encounter some of the darkest darkness ever when confronted with the horror of what he built – even with the context of stopping the other great darkness threatening the world at the time. There are scenes in the second half that play like a psychological thriller, with visions of the dead appearing, the room shaking violently, bright light taking over. Nolan has artfully visualized this remarkably hard-to-describe feeling of dread and guilt and death. Oppenheimer is a biopic, it’s not about what the bomb did, because he wants to tell the story of this man and put us in his shoes. There are questions posed about whether he’s really a bad guy, because all he wanted to do was save the world. There’s also questions about – once you’ve created this deadly gadget, what next. How do you respond, how do you handle it, how do you move on, how do you even live? Everyone knows Oppenheimer’s famous quotes borrowed from the Bhagavad Gita, and the film shows us that he dealt with frighteningly existential dilemmas: is he death? Is he now the destroyer of worlds? What has he done?

One of the best analysis I’ve read is an examination of ending of Oppenheimer written by my colleague Bilge Ebiri for Vulture. In his analysis, he connects the opening shots and ending shots of the film and goes on to explain how it is a clever visual metaphor for Oppie’s obsession with a scientific understanding of the world. Ebiri points out how the ripples that he sees in the pond mirror the circles being drawn on maps at the end of the film, measuring the size of nuclear explosions atop cities in Russia (and elsewhere). The film’s editor, Jennifer Lame, explains: “Science to him is beauty and art and poetry. It just makes the movie so much more devastating at the end.” After going on this three hours journey with Oppie, he realizes his fascination with science and knowledge about the universe we all exist in has crossed over into the “real world” with devastating consequences. Perhaps he doesn’t realize it yet, at that point, but humanity is forever changed. He is responsible, in theory, but we can’t blame him (alone) nor can we blame his fascination with science. There are, of course, other conversations on the inevitability of atomic weapons – if it wasn’t Oppenheimer, someone else would’ve figured out how to use fission for a bomb. His article ends with a potent realization:

“Nolan’s closing images do serve as a warning and a portent of doom, and they are enormously moving as such. But they’re also one final glimpse into this character, revealing that in his mind at least, he has destroyed the world: He has destroyed his world, his very conception of reality. Where once he saw the astonishing connections that lay at the heart of all matter and even human relations, now he sees only horror and fire, of the destructive power that lies beneath the shape of all things.” Via Vulture

It’s an intricately complex film that asks – is one man truly, solely responsible for what he makes if others misuse our creations in nefarious ways, especially when it is simply unlocking the scientific secrets of our universe? Oppenheimer hits hard with this profound, overwhelming realization. It’s a grand examination of a life – that’s also an examination of humanity, of our real world, of men and war and the power they crave.

Barbie & Oppenheimer

Barbie actually digs much deeper into the philosophy of meaning and existence than Oppenheimer (strange, but true). It borrows from the Pinocchio story of a perfect, plastic woman who enters the real world and discovers what it means to be a “real” woman. Not just a perfect Barbie. One of the most beautiful scenes is when she first has a moment to herself in the real world: she’s sitting on the bench and suddenly breathes and takes in the world around her. She looks at the trees and sky, and notices both happiness and sadness, and the anger and depression and joy all around her. She sees kids playing, a couple arguing, happy and sad people and realizes this is the grand, magical complexity of life. It is everything all at once. It’s a visceral and visually stunning moment of existential clarity. Later on she literally meets her creator, and must confront the very idea of what it means to be Barbie and if she is free to be herself and live in this “real world” in the way she wants to live. She doesn’t even know what that is exactly, she’s on the road to figuring that out. All of this is played against the eye-opening, Plato’s cave experience of stepping out of Barbie Land for the first time and realizing the world isn’t this idealistic, glossy, pink reality. This is as close as movie can get to The Matrix narrative of “free your mind” and, as she does, escape into the real world for a “voyage of discovery”.

They even mention Proust Barbie at one point. (And there’s talk of philosophy books on Oppie’s shelves in one scene as well.) Barbie’s ultimate thesis is this question of who she is, how does she navigate and exist in the world, how her experiences and her understanding of the world changes who she is as a person. Ruth Handler, the original Mattel creator of the Barbie Doll, explains to her that the idea of Barbie is also more important that the actual perfect definition of or image of Barbie, that is what truly matters. It’s almost a direct reference to V for Vendetta, and V’s empowering speech that “beneath this mask there is an idea, Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof” – ideas can go beyond a person, ideas live beyond an individual person, or an individual Barbie. This is something profound she must contend with as well… Has the “idea” of Barbie she embodies become toxic, more harmful to the world than helpful? How can she free herself from that, confront the patriarchy, and re-establish an idea that truly represents how empowering she feels. It’s weird that an expensive Barbie movie made by Mattel dares to dip into this kind of philosophical discussion, but that’s part of the genius of this movie. It’s what makes these two Hollywood movies invigorating, so exciting, because they both dare to be intellectually provocative when so few contemporary Hollywood movies are…

It’s no coincidence that both films feature their main characters having mental breakdowns, trying to figure out who they are and what their place is in a world. The parallels are fascinating, in that they’re so different yet so similar in their exploration of existence and meaning and how one person (or even one idea) can have have a great impact on humanity and on our “real world”. Did Barbie change the world for the worse? Is she actually a harmful representation of toxic feminism? Did Oppenheimer change for the world for the worse? Is he actually a harmful representation of dangerous science? Thankfully both filmmakers are talented and intelligent enough to not provide one clear, definitive answer to these kind of questions – both movies are an exploration of ideas; conversation-starters, thought-provoking works of art. Barbie, even though it is pink and glossy and bright and fun, is also examining the same darker sides of the world as Oppenheimer. “Is one woman truly, solely responsible for what she [causes] if others misuse our creations in nefarious ways…?” Funny enough, referencing what I wrote earlier about Oppenheimer, Barbie is also “a grand examination of a life – that’s also an examination of humanity, of our real world, of men and war and the power they crave.”

As a lover of philosophy, of big ideas and big thinking, and of cinema that can make wonder about all these big ideas, I am delighted that these two movies are so profound and stirring and successful. The cliche idea of what “going to the movies” means has been getting louder & louder in these past few years: “shut off your brain and just enjoy it,” they love to say. However, real cinema, real intelligent storytelling, is about turning on your brain. It has the power to make you think, even make you re-examine your life, your choices, your identity. And maybe, just maybe, it may make you question who you are. Once again, there’s a perfect Proust quote for this: “If a little dreaming is dangerous, the cure for it is not to dream less, but to dream more, to dream all the time.” A rejuvenating reminder that movies can do this. One of my favorite lines in Barbie is near the end when she’s talking with Ruth. She explains, maybe the things that you think make you you, are not actually the things that make you you. We all need to stop & think about this, process this conundrum, to truly understand ourselves and understand what makes us us, what defines humanity. We need to decide whether we truly want to make the world a better place, or if we all just want more power and/or perfection.

Find more posts: Discuss, Editorial, Feat

Source link

#Making #Sense #Life #Philosophy #Barbie #Oppenheimer #FirstShowingnet

95th Academy Awards Nominations Announced – Full List for 2022

95th Academy Awards Nominations Announced – Full List for 2022

by Alex Billington
January 24, 2023
Source: Oscars.org

The complete list of nominees for the 95th Academy Awards, the most prestigious award in Hollywood, have been announced today (from Oscars.org). The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences revealed the nominees via live broadcast. The nominations from 2022 are, as usual, an exciting and wonderful and curious set of nominees with plenty of surprises and expected picks – including The Sea Beast sneaking in, RRR only getting in for Best Song, Andrea Riseborough from To Leslie somehow pulling off a nod, and The Banshees of Inisherin getting tons of love. Best of all, my #1 of 2022Everything Everywhere All at Once – landed 11 nominations in total, a clear sign it’s loved by everyone. The Academy chose a total of ten Best Picture nominees from 2022, also including: Top Gun: Maverick, All Quiet on the Western Front, Elvis, The Fabelmans, Women Talking, Triangle of Sadness. Without further ado, view the full list of nominees below.

The 95th Academy Awards ceremony will be on Sunday, March 12th at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood – broadcast live by ABC. This year’s ceremony will be hosted by Jimmy Kimmel. Here are 2022’s nominations:

All Quiet on the Western Front
Avatar: The Way of Water
The Banshees of Inisherin
Everything Everywhere All at Once
The Fabelmans
Top Gun: Maverick
Triangle of Sadness
Women Talking

Martin McDonagh – The Banshees of Inisherin
Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert – Everything Everywhere All at Once
Steven Spielberg – The Fabelmans
Todd Field – Tar
Ruben Östlund – Triangle of Sadness

Austin Butler – Elvis
Colin Farrell – The Banshees of Inisherin
Brendan Fraser – The Whale
Paul Mescal – Aftersun
Bill Nighy – Living

Cate Blanchett – Tar
Ana de Armas – Blonde
Andrea Riseborough – To Leslie
Michelle Williams – The Fabelmans
Michelle Yeoh – Everything Everywhere All at Once

Brendan Gleason – The Banshees of Inisherin
Brian Tyree Henry – Causeway
Judd Hirsch – The Fabelmans
Barry Keoghan – The Banshees of Inisherin
Ke Huy Quan – Everything Everywhere All at Once

Angela Bassett – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Hong Chau – The Whale
Kerry Condon – The Banshees of Inisherin
Jamie Lee Curtis – Everything Everywhere All at Once
Stephanie Hsu – Everything Everywhere All at Once

The Banshees of Inisherin – Martin McDonagh
Everything Everywhere All at Once – Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert
The Fabelmans – Steven Spielberg & Tony Kushner
Tar – Todd Field
Triangle of Sadness – Ruben Östlund

All Quiet on the Western Front – Edward Berger, Lesley Paterson & Ian Stokell
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery – Rian Johnson
Living – Kazuo Ishiguro
Top Gun: Maverick – Ehren Kruger and Eric Warren Singer and Christopher McQuarrie
Women Talking – Sarah Polley

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On
Puss in Boots
The Sea Beast
Turning Red

All Quiet on the Western Front (Germany)
Argentina, 1985 (Argentina)
Close (Belgium)
EO (Poland)
The Quiet Girl (Ireland)

All Quiet on the Western Front – James Friend
Bardo – Darius Khondji
Elvis – Mandy Walker
Empire of Light – Roger Deakins
Tar – Florian Hoffmeister

All That Breathes
All the Beauty and the Bloodshed
Fire of Love
A House Made of Splinters

The Elephant Whisperers – Kartiki Gonsalves and Guneet Monga
Haulout – Evgenia Arbugaeva and Maxim Arbugaev
How Do You Measure a Year? – Jay Rosenblatt
The Martha Mitchell Effect – Anne Alvergue and Beth Levison
Stranger at the Gate – Joshua Seftel and Conall Jones

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse – Charlie Mackesy and Matthew Freud
The Flying Sailor – Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby
Ice Merchants – João Gonzalez and Bruno Caetano
My Year of Dicks – Sara Gunnarsdóttir and Pamela Ribon
An Ostrich Told Me the World Is Fake and I Think I Believe It – Lachlan Pendragon

An Irish Goodbye – Tom Berkeley and Ross White
Ivalu – Anders Walter and Rebecca Pruzan
Le Pupille – Alice Rohrwacher and Alfonso Cuarón
Night Ride – Eirik Tveiten and Gaute Lid Larssen
The Red Suitcase – Cyrus Neshvad

All Quiet on the Western Front
Avatar: The Way of Water
The Batman
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Top Gun: Maverick

Dune – PD: Patrice Vermette; Set: Zsuzsanna Sipos
All Quiet on the Western Front – PD: Christian M. Goldbeck; Set: Ernestine Hipper
Avatar: The Way of Water – PD: Dylan Cole & Ben Procter; Set: Vanessa Cole
Babylon – PD: Florencia Martin; Set: Anthony Carlino
Elvis – PD: Catherine Martin & Karen Murphy; Set: Bev Dunn
The Fabelmans – PD: Rick Carter; Set: Karen O’Hara

Babylon – Mary Zophres
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever – Ruth Carter
Elvis – Catherine Martin
Everything Everywhere All at Once – Shirley Kurata
Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris – Jenny Beavan

All Quiet on the Western Front – Heike Merker & Linda Eisenhamerová
The Batman – Naomi Donne, Mike Marino, Mike Fontaine
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever – Camille Friend & Joel Harlow
Elvis – Mark Coulier, Jason Baird, Aldo Signoretti
The Whale – Adrien Morot, Judy Chin, Anne Marie Bradley

The Banshees of Inisherin – Mikkel E.G. Nielsen
Elvis – Matt Villa & Jonathan Redmond
Everything Everywhere All at Once – Paul Rogers
Tar – Monika Willi
Top Gun: Maverick – Eddie Hamilton

All Quiet on the Western Front
Avatar: The Way of Water
The Batman
Top Gun: Maverick

All Quiet on the Western Front – Volker Bertelmann
Babylon – Justin Hurwitz
The Banshees of Inisherin – Carter Burwell
Everything Everywhere All at Once – Son Lux
The Fabelmans – John Williams

“Applause” from Tell It Like a Woman
“Hold My Hand” from Top Gun: Maverick
“Lift Me Up” from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
“Naatu Naatu” from RRR
“This Is A Life” from Everything Everywhere All at Once

Congratulations to all of this year’s nominees. I’m happy about most of these selections, especially EEAAO and Tar and Close and Brendan Fraser (yes, I’m a fan). I’m most upset about Moonage Daydream being left out of Best Documentary. How did they miss that?! And I also do think S.S. Rajamouli’s RRR should’ve earned a few more mentions, but apparently India didn’t even submit it for Best International Film anyway. The surprise celebrity campaign for Andrea Riseborough worked, but does she really deserve it this time? Especially over other incredible performances like Danielle Deadwyler in Till? I’m considerably surprised that All Quiet on the Western Front end up with so many noms, especially as a Netflix movie. It’s good, but good enough for 9 nominations? I guess so. Above all else, I want Ke Huy Quan to win his Oscar – he also deserves it for his EEAAO performance. In cinematography, I’d swap out Empire of Light for anything else. Yeah I know it’s Deakins, but it’s not a good film, and he has tons of noms already anyway. I am sure there will be tons of complaints about everything, as is the norm. What do you think of the nominations for 2022?

Find more posts: Awards, Discuss, Movie News

Source link

#95th #Academy #Awards #Nominations #Announced #Full #List

How Aronofsky’s ‘The Whale’ is an Empowering Story About Honesty

How Aronofsky’s ‘The Whale’ is an Empowering Story About Honesty

by Alex Billington
December 28, 2022

There’s a value that seems to be becoming rarer and rare these days – honesty. Yes, it’s scary, yes, it can be painful, but it’s a necessary and important part of humanity. They even make fun of this in Interstellar, with TARS making a joke about how his honesty setting is too high because, “Absolute honesty isn’t always the most diplomatic nor the safest form of communication with emotional beings.” One of my Top 10 films of the year is Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale, which I already reviewed out of the Venice Film Festival a few months ago. I recently watched the film again for a second time and it really struck me even more this time around – The Whale is about honesty above all else. It’s not really about being fat or the struggles of being overweight, it’s about depression and disconnection and how being dishonest put everyone in the situation they’re in at this moment. The film is about an obese man named Charlie who attempts to reconnect with his daughter over the course of a week, with a very emotional finale where he literally yells about being honest.

Note: spoilers from now on discussing The Whale. The film is adapted from a stage play and feels just like one. It’s set entirely in one apartment, where Charlie lives, and all of the other characters come there and interact with him. Charlie, played perfectly by Brendan Fraser in an awards-worthy role, is learning to be more honest with himself after experiencing so much of phoniness in his past. We learn at one point that he left his wife and his daughter behind to start a relationship with a man, which hurt them both. This was his first major step into being honest with his sexuality, and his romantic interests led him to be with a person that truly loved him. Unfortunately his partner’s religious beliefs and conflicts within himself contributed to his death. That left Charlie in ruins and his sadness & depression made him self-medicate with food, which is now his great source of comfort and relief. This is the reason why he looks the way he does, and he knows this, but he’s also unable to break from this addiction anymore and doesn’t seem to care. Instead, he focuses on nurturing kindness and positivity with the few people left around him, hoping it will make a difference.

The film then introduces Sadie Sink as his teenage daughter Ellie. She is also being dishonest with herself and her emotions, caught up in the typical teenage angst of feeling disconnected from everyone. She must learn to be express her feelings properly, and Charlie senses this in her, recognizing that love and support is what she needs the most. Then there is Ty Simpkins as Thomas, a religious boy from New Life Church who appears on his doorstep as a missionary hoping to convert him. Later on we learn that all of this is a lie, too, and he doesn’t want to face who he is, how he really feels, what he’s doing there, or how he needs to proceed to make amends in his life. There’s also Charlie’s ex-wife, Mary, played by Samantha Morton, who is in a few scenes. Ellie reminds Charlie she’s only able to be honest and be “happy” when she’s drinking, which is what helps Mary have a nice moment of reconciliation with Charlie near the end of the film. The only honest person in Charlie’s world is Liz, played by the incomparable Hong Chau. There’s also Dan The Pizza Man, but Charlie can’t establish a real connection with him because he’s scared of showing himself to anyone else.

Liz is a vitally important character in this story, and Hong Chau humbly takes on this role with one of her career-best performances so far. Everyone who watches The Whale talks about how much they admire her in this, even if they don’t like the rest of the film. It’s because her character Liz is the most honest. She’s the only one who not only makes fun of Charlie about his weight, about his situation, about anything he’s thinking, but she’s also direct with him about his health as an obese man on the verge of death. They’re good friends because they have a deep connection which is so pure and raw that Charlie & Liz both appreciate it and are subconsciously intertwined in this way. She wants him to lose weight and get healthy, but she also respects his choices and his way of living. She just loves him for who he is, regardless of how he looks or the choices he makes, and that’s a beautiful thing. It’s another emotional core of this film that brings so much life to the story. Being open & vulnerable with each other is the foundation of sincere human relationships.

The Whale - Honesty

Throughout the film, Charlie connects virtually to an online class to teach writing to college students. He’s never really impressed with any of their work and eventually, in an emotional outburst, exclaims he would rather hear something honest from them for once. This moment hit me harder than any others in the film because I sense this regularly with so much writing I encounter out there. Who cares about style and form and perfect writing if you can’t even be honest in what you’re saying? Just like with all art, being truthful and expressing whatever’s inside of you is more important than how the art looks, or how nicely it’s painted. The same goes with writing… It’s almost as if Darren Aronofsky was tired of reading so many nicely written yet superficially negative reviews of his films, when he’d prefer that critics just be honest. Just say it, blurt it out. I’m right there with him. So much writing I come across seems to be more obsessed with how “good” the writing is while saying nothing of substance, sounding phony and shallow. Where is the honesty? Why are we all afraid of it? Yes it can hurt and sting but that’s a part of how we heal and grow as social creatures.

It’s possible that honesty can be perilous, which is why TARS says it’s not “the safest form of communication with emotional beings.” But we can’t hide from the truth forever. This is a lesson we all must learn. Charlie learns this, but so do Ellie and Mary. There are other examples of this in other great films – in Pixar’s Inside Out, Riley tries to hide her sadness and pretend she’s not angry and upset about moving, which just makes everything worse. Only when she learns to let that sadness show does she realize how important anger and sadness are to connecting us together. In The Whale, Charlie reads out a few of his writing students’ honest responses and they’re all so sad and depressing. There isn’t enough time in the film for him to address this, but it’s obvious the point being made is that deep down we’re all lonely, we all feel bad about ourselves, and instead of silently wallowing in that misery, expressing that is a vital aspect of bringing people together. You can’t start to solve any problem until you admit the problem exists. It may be hard but working on that is imperative. Even Charlie recognizes this truth, it’s part of his final outcry to Ellie before he meets his maker.

I’ve seen some complaints saying the “Moby Dick” essay that Charlie reads over and over, which it’s revealed is written by his daughter, is not very well written and he is a bad English teacher. Perhaps true, but that’s irrelevant. It was written by Ellie when she was in 8th grade, it’s not supposed to be perfect writing, but it’s honest. It’s real. She complains about the book, she laments how boring and dull so much of it is, until she realizes Herman Melville’s passages about the whales are him expressing his own loneliness and torments, too. This is why Charlie loves this essay and why it means so much to him. That spoke to him deep down. At the time the book was published, Melville wasn’t a very successful writer. His own truth can be found in his writing, and that’s more important, even if “Moby Dick” is boring. This is what Charlie is trying to teach all of us – beyond the grave, beyond the film – that we’re all lonely people and being direct about what makes us sad is necessary to heal us and reconnect. It’s the right path to take, no matter how tough it might seem.

Aronofsky’s The Whale is ultimately not really a film about being a fat guy who can’t stand up. Anyone that watches and only sees it in that way and can only judge it by the way it portrays this character is interpreting the film incorrectly. His sadness and his struggles have turned him into this person on the outside, but deep within he has maintained his beguiling kindness and integrity. This is what makes him the hero of the story. As with any good film, it’s a story about him realizing just before it’s too late that he needs to express how he really feels and try to remind those he loves how beautiful they actually are. He repeats “you’re amazing” to Ellie over and over because it’s true, not because it’s some dumb thing he just needs to say. She needs to be honest with herself, too, and realize it is true. I believe every last one of us needs to understand how much truthfulness can actually make the world better. Being afraid of this pushes us further apart. I try to live in an open and honest way, spending my time being clear rather than never saying what I really mean. Let The Whale speak deeply to your soul, too. We only have a short life to live – so let’s be honest while we still can.

Find more posts: Discuss, Editorial, Indies

Source link

#Aronofskys #Whale #Empowering #Story #Honesty