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Interview - Rachel Perkins & Craig Silvey Discuss 'Jasper Jones'

Craig Silvey & Rachel Perkins

Australian cinema has been going “great guns” over the past few months with the success of Hacksaw Ridge and Lion.  Jasper Jones is the next cab off the rank and it’s a terrific film that skilfully mixes genres and features some wonderful performances.  I sat down with author-screenwriter Craig Silvey and director Rachel Perkins (Bran Nue Dae) to talk about the film. You can listen to the full interview by clicking here.

Matt:  I was talking on my radio spot last week about film adaptations and we had a debate as to whether it’s best to read the book first or to see the movie first.  I don’t think I’ll be in a better position to ask that question given I’ve got the author of the book and the director of the movie.  In general, what are your thoughts on it?

Rachel:  Tough one.  I think the nation is divided on that issue.  I’ve been talking to people at the screenings because we’ve been taking it around the country.  Some have seen the film and then bought the book.  There’s something good about that because what awaits them is all these other riches in the book whereas if you’ve read the book first, you’re doing more of a comparison and thinking about what’s been left out.

Craig:  I think that’s a good point.  They’re two different processes I suppose.  A lot of people who are coming to see the film have read the book and loved the book.  They’re happy to celebrate it and see it in a different way on screen.  With the film now out, people will go the other way.  They’re looking for extra content and something else they can explore because they want to spend more time with these characters.

Matt:  Craig, not all authors get a chance to adapt their own novels for the screen.  You got the chance to do it here for the first time.  Can you tell me about the experience?

Craig:  It was a huge challenge.  I was brought it to write a fresh draft before we went into production and so I didn’t have a lot of time.  I only had about 6 weeks and it was my first screenplay.  I was thrown right in the deep end but I adored the opportunity.  It was difficult work but I think we had a terrific collaborative team around us.  Rachel was a great help and had a really strong vision for the film.

Matt:  Do you ever have a thought that it might one day become a movie?

Craig:  When you’re developing a novel, you want to avoid thinking about all those things that are out of your control like reception, publication, criticism and adaptation.  You’re just trying to put one foot in front of the other and develop the work as honestly as possible.  From time to time it occurred to me that this structure may lend itself well to an adaptation but back then I was less interested in film and seeing my stories told using film.  These days, it’s all changed.  At the inception of an idea, I think to myself “What is this?  Is it a novel?  Is it for the stage?  Is it a film?  Is it television?”  I run it through a filter of structures before decide where to go with it.

Matt:  Rachel, can I ask how you became involved with this project and came across Craig’s novel?

Rachel:  Like the other half-a-million people who have read this book, I came by it after someone recommended it to me.  It’s often the way it happens – through word of mouth.  I picked it up and then couldn’t put it down.  I felt it was a book that I could adapt or direct for the screen.  I procrastinated for a while and then went to the publishers and by then the rights had gone.  I was devastated and assumed that someone really famous and talented would make it who I could hate for the rest of my life (laughs).

A few years later, I heard that a friend of mine had the rights so I rang up and asked if I could be put on the list of possible directors.  He agreed and I think he helped push for me to do it with the other producers.  I wore them all down with my enthusiasm I think and it was nice for the project to come back to me in a way.

Matt:  If we get into the filmmaking process itself.  Craig, as the screenwriter, you put a script out there but does it stay that way during the shooting process?  Or are there a lot of changes you make along the way when you see the actors and how they interact?

Craig:  Film seems to be all about adjustments.  You don’t know what’s going to come up in a day and you don’t know what’s going to work in rehearsals.  You don’t know if your dialogue is going to “sing” on a day or whether it’ll be problematic.  You’ve got to be agile and there were a raft of re-writes.  There were also ideas we’d have on set and also some concerns which we’d try to solve on the fly.  

Matt:  Rachel, let’s talk about the cast.  I know a lot of people in Brisbane might be interested to hear about Levi Miller who was born here and went to Holland Park State School.  He’s already got a couple of big movies under his belt.  He comes across so well in the film – Charlie is this very awkward, uncomfortable kid.  What can you tell us about him?

Rachel:  Yep, he’s Brisbane born and bred.  All he wants to do is act and so far he’s realising that dream.  His mum looks after him and brings him to set.  They’ve got this really good family unit and they’ve worked out how he can do school and acting together.  He’s on an incredibly trajectory.  He was selected out of thousands of kids to do Pan and then he did Red Dog: True Blue.  By the time he came to us, he had more experience than I had.  He’s also the face of young people’s attire for Ralph Lauren.  He’s so grateful for the work and so grateful he can act.  He’s down-to-earth and very talented I think.

Matt:  It’s funny because he was with Hugh Jackman in Pan and now the two of them are going head-to-head at the box-office this week in Australia because we’ve got Logan versus Jasper Jones.

Rachel:  Yeah… and who will win?  I’m asking all Australian listeners out there to please go and see our film instead of Logan.  I’m just going to say that straight out (laughs).  I don’t want to beat around the bush.  It’s just a clear request to the people of Australia.

Matt:  There are some great actors in this film like Hugo Weaving, Toni Collette, Dan Wyllie and Angourie Rice.  How easy was it pulling them all together?

Rachel:  It was frighteningly easy.   I thought it would be much harder.  We had a great time making this film.  Whoever we wanted for the cast said “yes”.  Toni Collette tried to adapt the novel early on herself.  When she heard about the film, she rearranged her U.S. schedule and came over.  Hugo Weaving immediately agreed too.  Kevin Long, who plays Jeffrey Lu, we found in a kung-fu class in western Sydney.  He’d never acted before but is like a child genius.

Matt:  Can Kevin play cricket?

Craig:  He can now.  I fell in love with the kid when I first met him.  He’s such a sweetheart and he really is that character.  There’s a pivotal cricket scene in the film so he had to really know his stuff.  Kevin didn’t know much about cricket at all so I took him under my wing as a fan of the game.  I spent every spare hour down at the nets in Pemberton and taking Kevin through his paces and teaching him how to hit a cover drive.  I was like a proud dad during the two days that we shot those scenes.

Matt:  Rachel, there are a lot of different tones in the film.  There’s comedy and romance but there are also much darker themes which I won’t spoil for those who haven’t seen it.  How do you balance that up when making the film and putting it all together in the editing room?

Rachel:  It’s a good question.  A murder-mystery usually has a tension and dark edge that runs all the way through the movie.  This work was very different.  The novel is loved by so many because it has a mixture of elements.  It has a murder-mystery that opens the work and that drags you through because you want to know how it ends.  Between these young characters though, there’s the humour and the romance and it’s all wrapped up in this coming-of-age tale about a young guy growing up in this town and realising things aren’t the way he’s been led to believe.  It’s a beautiful combination of different genres which is why I was attracted and why audiences are responding to it.    

Matt:  Craig, I was fortunate enough to host a Q&A with you on Tuesday night and it was remarkable how many people in the crowd had read the book.  There were even school teachers saying how they’ve been teaching it to their kids for years.  What’s this publicity tour been like and interacting with these people who collectively have all read the book at various stages over the last 8 years?

Craig:  It’s been overwhelming and moving for both of us.  There’s a passion for this story and a lot of goodwill around it.  The support for this book is now culminating with a rapturous love for the film.  It’s impossible not to be inspired and moved by that.  These people have come out in such generous spirit to see our film and to see this story in a different way.  It’s been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

Matt:  I’ll finish up by asking what you guys have got in the works?

Craig:  I’m working on a western set in the gold fields of Western Australia in the late 19th century and it’s called The Prospector. 

Matt:  And you guys will collaborate on that again?

Rachel:  I think we’re going to go through it again together.  It’s so far, so good.

Matt:  I’m excited about that already but in the meantime, we can all go out and watch Jasper Jones smash it at the box-office.

Rachel:  Let’s hope so.  The preview screenings we’ve had so far have been incredible.  We’ve had 200 people coming up to Craig after the screenings to sign copies of the book.  The screenings with the Q&As were sold out weeks in advance.  I hope the passion continues and I hope we live up to people’s expectations who love the book so much.

Oscars 2017: They'll Never Let Us Show That Again! Not In A Million Years!

I’ve been covering the Oscars since 1995 and that’s the strangest end to an Oscars ceremony that we’re ever likely to see.  They’ll be telling the story for long after I’ve left this planet.  The accounting firm of PwC gave an incorrect envelope to presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway.  Instead of the best picture envelope, they were given a duplicate of the best actress envelope (awarded just a few minutes earlier).  Beatty was clearly confused to see Emma Stone’s name listed, he handed the envelope to Dunaway, and she simply read “La La Land”.  It wasn’t until a minute or so had passed before the correction was made – Moonlight had actually won best picture.

Everyone seems to be taking it in their stride.  Backstage, Emma Stone professed that she “f***ing loved Moonlight” and didn’t seem too perturbed by the defeat.  The same applies to La La Land’s producer Jordan Horowitz who was quick to make the correction on stage and get the Moonlight producers up to accept.

That said, it was a disappointing end to what should have been one of the Academy’s great moments.  The La La Land producers had the Oscar statues in the hands and were making a passionate speech.  To be embarrassed like that is terrible.  It would have been even worse if it had occurred in an acting category.  While they get win, you have to feel sympathy for Moonlight.  They didn’t get the chance to hear their names read out and it’s likely that the win will be remembered more for the mistake than the film itself.  I feel like channelling Donald Trump and putting “SAD!” in a tweet.

When the dust settles, those behind Moonlight will hopefully enjoy the success.  Despite all the critical praise, their tiny film has made the least amount of money at the box-office when compared to the other 8 best nominees.  To have beaten them all, particularly after La La Land won the Producer’s Guild Award, is one of the great all time Oscars upsets.  It’s on a par with the wins by Crash and Shakespeare in Love.  The film is amazing too and I’m sure more people will see it as a result.

It’s hard to talk about much else in regards to the ceremony because it all feels insignificant in comparison.  Jimmy Kimmel took a relatively safe path as the host.  He wasn’t the best but he was far from being the worst.  The highlight of the night for me was the win of American Kevin O’Connell in the best sound mixing category.  After 20 previous nominations without a win, stretching back to 1983’s Terms of Endearment, he broke the longest losing streak in Oscars history with his best sound mixing win for Hacksaw Ridge.  He shared the win with three Australians who were our only winners on the night.

There were plenty of nice speeches include those of Mahershala Ali and Viola Davis who won as expected in the supporting categories.  There was a political flavour to the night with fun poked at Donald Trump but also a deeper undertone about embracing difference and celebrating inclusion.

For those who haven’t seen a list of winners, the big ones were:

Best picture – Moonlight
Best director – Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
Best actor – Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)
Best actress – Emma Stone (La La Land)
Best supporting actor – Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
Best supporting actress – Viola Davis (Fences)
Best original screenplay – Manchester by the Sea
Best adapted screenplay – Moonlight
Best foreign language film – The Salesman
Best animated film – Zootopia

Oscars Betting

It was another successful year for me in terms of Oscars betting.  I got some great odds early in the season on Damien Chazelle, Casey Affleck, Emma Stone and Mahershala Ali and they all managed to get the win.  I finished with a profit of $870 which will do just nicely.  I am grateful to have not backed La La Land for best picture (I did think it would win) as that would have been awkward given the way it unfolded.

To help keep a record of all my Oscar bets, here’s the full list for the archives…

1996 – profit of $750 – won on Susan Sarandon
1997 – profit of $300 (cumulative profit $1,050) – won on Frances McDormand
1998 – loss of $250 (cumulative profit $800)
1999 – loss of $250 (cumulative profit $550)
2000 – profit of $620 (cumulative profit $1,170) – won on Kevin Spacey and Michael Caine
2001 – loss of $190 (cumulative profit $980) – won on director Steven Soderbergh
2002 – profit of $480 (cumulative profit $1,460) – won on Halle Berry
2003 – profit of $275 (cumulative profit $1,735) – won on Catherine Zeta-Jones and Adrian Brody
2004 – profit of $150 (cumulative profit $1,875) – won on Sean Penn
2005 – profit of $214 (cumulative profit $2,089) – won on Hilary Swank
2006 – profit of $350 (cumulative profit $2,439) – won on Reese Witherspoon
2007 – profit of $1,463 (cumulative profit $3,912) – won on Eddie Murphy at Globes, Alan Arkin & West Bank Story at Oscars
2008 – profit of $268 (cumulative profit of $4,280) – won on Tilda Swinton and the Coen brothers
2009 – profit of $253 (cumulative profit of $4,533) – won on Mickey Rourke & Kate Winslet at Globes, Kate Winslet at Oscars
2010 – loss of $830 (cumulative profit of $3,703)
2011 – profit of $30 (cumulative profit of $3,733) – won on Social Network at Globes, Tom Hooper & King’s Speech at Oscars
2012 – loss of $640 (cumulative profit of $3,093) – won on Jean Dujardin at Oscars
2013 – loss of $850 (cumulative profit of $2,243) – won on Ang Lee at Oscars
2014 – loss of $72 (cumulative profit of $2,171) – won on Matthew McConaughey at Globes and Oscars
2015 – loss of $50 (cumulative profit of $2,121) – won on Eddie Redmayne at Oscars
2016 – win of $1,325 (cumulative profit of $3,446) – won on Mark Rylance and Spotlight at Oscars
2017 – win of $870 (cumulative profit of $4,316) – won on Damien Chazelle, Casey Affleck, Emma Stone and Mahershala Ali at Oscars

Oscars Competition

I set a tough test for this year’s Oscars competition with plenty of upsets across the board – particularly in the technical categories.  It could have been even harder if I’d have included categories like costume design and make up (who were won by rank outsiders).

In the end, 4 out of 6 was the best score this year.  I’ve been running the competition for 17 years and I feel a little guilty in saying that I had the best score this year.  All my picks were published in my e-newsletter last week so don’t think I’m trying to cheat!  I missed best picture and best sound editing (the two hardest categories to get) and was spot on with the age of the 2 best picture presenters (which had been leaked for those paying attention in the days leading up to the Oscars).

I’m not giving myself the prize though and so the winner this year is Elenaor Morse who missed the same two categories as me and was closest with her pick of the age of the best picture presenters – Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway (who will forever be known for the wrong reasons) are 79 and 76 respectively.  Elenaor went with an average age of 71.  Other competition entrants with 4 out of 6 were Peter Gray, Shaun Heenan, Robb Musgrave, Lisa Malouf, El Hamraoui Talal, Stephanie Sim, Reed Hilton, Alex Thomas and Nick Dagan.  There were plenty more on 3 out of 6.  I’ll soon be in touch with Eleanor about her prize.

Closing

In closing, I reflect on one of my favourite Simpsons line.  Krusty the Clown shows a cartoon where Scratchy finally kills Itchy and proclaims – “They’ll never let us show that again! Not in a million years!”  Those behind the scenes at the Academy will feel the same way tonight.

 

Brisbane Film Critics Select 'La La Land' As Best Of 2016


Since 2011, I have been pulling together a list of the best movies of the year according to the Brisbane-based critics who I run into regularly at preview screenings.  Those films to have topped prior year lists have been Drive in 2011, Argo in 2012, Gravity in 2013, Boyhood in 2014, and Mad Max: Fury Road in 2015.

To come up with an overall top 10, I’ve used a simple points system and applied it to the list of each critic. It is as follows:
  3 points – the top film on each list.
  2 points – the films ranked between 2nd and 5th on each list.
  1 point – the films ranked between 6th and 10th on each list.


If two films finished on the same score, the film that appeared on the most number of top 10 lists is ranked higher (as an indication of wider approval).

This year's winner was clear cut.  La La Land was the top ranked film of 5 different critics and featured on 8 of the 10 top ten lists.  It remains the frontrunner for the Academy Awards in February.


Only 3 other films appeared on at least 50% of the critics' lists.  Arrival took second place with Spotlight and Nocturnal Animals also having strong support.

This year's top 10 list included a broad mix of genres.  Making the cut were two American horror films (Green Room and The Witch), a New Zealand comedy (Hunt for the Wilderpeople) and a French thriller (Elle)

On that note, here are the top 10 movies of 2016 according to Brisbane critics…
 

Brisbane Film Critics - Top 10 Of 2016
  1. La La Land
2. Arrival
3. Spotlight
4. Nocturnal Animals
5. Carol
6. Hunt for the Wilderpeople
7. Green Room
8. The Witch
9. Room
10. Elle
10. I, Daniel Blake

You can view a table of all the votes and final scores by clicking here.

A big thanks to all the critics who were able to contribute. Hopefully we'll do it again next year!

You can check out information on all the Brisbane critics (along with their choices for the best and worst of 2016) below.

 

 

Matthew ToomeyMatthew Toomey

Born in Brisbane, Matt Toomey was introduced to the world of cinema when he landed a job at a video store fresh out of high school in 1995. A few years later, he started his own website and reviewed movies regularly on a community radio station. In 2005, he joined the team at 612ABC and can be heard reviewing the latest releases every Thursday morning. He can also be heard weekly on regional ABC throughout Queensland.

Website: www.thefilmpie.com
Twitter: @ToomeyMatt

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. Brooklyn
2. Spotlight
3. Sing Street
4. Anomalisa
5. Nocturnal Animals
6. The First Monday in May
7. Hunt for the Wilderpeople
8. Truman
9. Embrace of the Serpent
10. I, Daniel Blake
 
 
Best Australian Film:
The Daughter
Best Animated Film:
Anomalisa
Best Documentary:
The First Monday in May
Best Performance:
Saiorse Ronan (Brooklyn)
Worst Film:
David Brent: Life on the Road
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
Bad Moms
Brooklyn

 

Sarah WardSarah Ward

Sarah Ward is a freelance film critic, arts writer, and film festival organiser. She is the Australia-based critic for Screen International, a film reviewer and feature writer for ArtsHub, the weekend editor and a senior writer for Concrete Playground, and a contributor to SBS, Metro Magazine, and Screen Education. Her work has been published by the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Junkee, Lumina, Senses of Cinema, Broadsheet, Televised Revolution, and the World Film Locations book series. Sarah is also the editor of Trespass Magazine, and a film and TV critic for ABC radio Brisbane, Gold Coast, and Sunshine Coast.

Websites: www.artshub.com.au
www.trespassmag.com
www.concreteplayground.com
http://www.sbs.com.au/guide/person/sarah-ward
http://www.screendaily.com/sarah-ward/1100859.contributor

Twitter: @swardplay

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. La La Land
2. American Honey
3. Carol
4. The Wailing
5. Midnight Special
6. Arrival
7. Goldstone
8. Hunt for the Wilderpeople
9. The Neon Demon
10. Your Name
 
 
Top Unreleased Films:
1. Tori Erdmann
2. Things to Come
3. Jackie
4. Manchester by the Sea
5. Kedi
 
 
Best Australian Film:
Goldstone
Best Animated Film:
Your Name
Best Documentary:
Weiner
Best Performance:
Adam Driver (Paterson)
Worst Film:
Mother's Day
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
Nerve
La La Land

 

Baz McAlisterBaz McAlister

Baz McAlister is deputy night editor at The Courier-Mail. A blow-in from the wilds of Northern Ireland, he started watching horror films at the age of ten and never fully recovered.

Website: bazmcalister.wordpress.com
Twitter: @bazmcalister

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. La La Land
2. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
3. Hell or High Water
4. Hunt for the Wilderpeople
5. Arrival
6. 10 Cloverfield Lane
7. Don't Breathe
8. Greenroom
9. I, Daniel Blake
10. Deadpool
 
 
Best Australian Film:
Hacksaw Ridge
Best Animated Film:
Moana
Best Performance:
Amy Adams (Arrival)
Worst Film:
Suicide Squad
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates
La La Land

 

Garry WilliamsGarry Williams

Garry Williams is a reviewer for Film Club, a radio program broadcast on 4ZZZ (102.1FM) each Thursday from 6-7pm.

Website: 4zzzfm.org.au/program/film-club
Twitter: n/a

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. Captain Fantastic
2. Spotlight
3. The Big Short
4. Hunt for the Wilderpeople
5. La La Land
6. Captain America: Civil War
7. The Revenant
8. Everybody Wants Some
9. Snowden
10. Midnight Special
 
 
Top Unreleased Films:
1. The Stooges: Gimme Danger
2. Lantouri
3. Lo and Behold
4. National Bird
5. Alice in Earnestland
 
 
Best Australian Film:
Goldstone
Best Animated Film:
Anomalisa
Best Documentary:
Where to Invade Next
Best Performance:
Amy Adams (Arrival)
Worst Film:
American Honey
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
La La Land
Captain Fantastic

 

David EdwardsDavid Edwards

David Edwards is the editor and film critic for The Blurb, a website that provides the latest news and reviews for arts entertainment in Australia.

Website: www.theblurb.com.au
Twitter: @TheBlurbMag

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. Carol
2. La La Land
3. The Witch
4. Nocturnal Animals
5. Arrival
6. Kubo and the Two Strings
7. Hail, Caesar!
8. The Nice Guys
9. Cafe Society
10. Zootopia
 
 
Top Unreleased Films:
1. Land of Mine
2. Personal Shopper
 
 
Best Australian Film:
Goldstone
Best Animated Film:
Kubo and the Two Strings
Best Documentary:
Weiner
Best Performance:
Amy Adams (Arrival)
Worst Film:
Suicide Squad
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
10 Cloverfield Lane
Carol

 

Peter GrayPeter Gray

Peter Gray is a Brisbane based freelance entertainment writer specialising in film. Currently the entertainment reporter/film reviewer for QNews, Queensland’s largest LGBT publication, and regular contributor to Hush Hush Biz, The Iris and This is Film.

Website: hushhushbiz.com
qnews.com.au
Twitter: @ratedPDG

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. La La Land
2. Nocturnal Animals
3. The Revenant
4. Room
5. Arrival
6. Elle
7. The Hateful Eight
8. Spotlight
9. The Jungle Book
10. Green Room
 
 
Top Unreleased Films:
1. Personal Shopper
2. Manchester by the Sea
3. Hush
4. Z for Zachariah
 
 
Best Australian Film:
Goldstone
Best Animated Film:
Kubo and the Two Strings
Best Documentary:
Justin Timberlake & the Tennessee Kids
Best Performance:
Jacob Tremblay (Room)
Worst Film:
Zoolander 2
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
The Shallows
La La Land

 

Michael DaltonMichael Dalton

Websites: http://www.tommagazine.com.au/

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. 45 Years
2. Elle
3. Arrival
4. Paterson
5. The Witch
6. Eye in the Sky
7. Nocturnal Animals
8. Julieta
9. Ouija: Origin of Evil
10. Trumbo
 
 
Top Unreleased Films:
1. Krishna
2. Manchester by the Sea
3. De Palma
 
 
Best Animated Film:
Kubo and the Two Strings
Best Documentary:
Tab Hunter Confidential
Best Performance:
Isabelle Huppert (Elle) & Bryan Cranston (Trumbo)
Worst Film:
Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
Deepwater Horizon
45 Years

 

Dave CreweDave Crewe

Freelance film critic with a fondness for arthouse and schlock in roughly equal measure. Founding editor of ccpopculture, and freelances for SBS Movies, Junkee, Metro Magazine and Screen Education, amongst others.

Website: ccpopculture.com
Twitter: @dacrewe

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. La La Land
2. I, Daniel Blake
3. Green Room
4. Sherpa
5. Hail, Caesar! 
6. Spotlight
7. Love & Friendship
8. Nocturnal Animals
9. Elle
10. Room
 
 
Top Unreleased Films:
1. Personal Shopper
2. The Childhood of a Leader
3. Lost and Beautiful (Belle e Perduta)
4. The World of Us (U-ri-duel)
5. In Jackson Heights
 
 
Best Australian Film:
Hounds of Love & Hacksaw Ridge
Best Animated Film:
Your Name
Best Documentary:
Sherpa
Best Performance:
Kirin Kiri (After the Storm)
Worst Film:
Zoolander 2
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
Swiss Army Man & Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land

 

Ella DonaldElla Donald

Ella Donald is a student and freelance journalist and film critic. Writing professionally since she was 15, her first job was co-owning Fashion of Glee, a site which garnered worldwide press and acclaim from publications like Elle and fashion houses like Kate Spade, and was profiled by Tumblr. Always having too much to write about, her work has appeared in publications globally including Little White Lies, Kill Your Darlings, SBS Sexuality, 4:3, and bMag, as well as on her own blog Monumental Pictures; writing about film, TV, pop culture, dance, and other areas of the arts. She was a participant of the Critics Campus at this year’s Melbourne International Film Festival.

Website: elladonaldwriter.wordpress.com
Twitter: @_pingus

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. Carol
2. La La Land
3. American Honey
4. Mustang
5. High Rise
6. Green Room
7. Spotlight
8. Maggie's Plan
9. The Neon Demon
10. Hunt for the Wilderpeople
 
 
Top Unreleased Films:
1. 13th
2. Lemonade
3. Manchester by the Sea
4. Chevalier
5. Our Little Sister
 
 
Best Australian Film:
Girl Asleep
Best Animated Film:
Moana & Kubo and the Two Strings
Best Documentary:
13th
Best Performance:
Rooney Mara & Cate Blanchett (Carol), Royalty Hightower (The Fits), Riley Keough (American Honey), Ralph Fiennes (A Bigger Splash)
Worst Film:
Demolition
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
The Nice Guys
Carol

 

Shayne GrieveShayne Grieve

Shayne currently teaches Film and TV at Grace Lutheran College and tries to justify all his cinema visits as professional development.

Website: www.thisisfilm.com
Twitter: @_thisisfilm

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. La La Land
2. Room
3. The Hateful Eight
4. The Witch
5. Arrival
6. Green Room
7. Son of Saul
8. Anomalisa
9. Hell or High Water
10. Spotlight
 
 
Best Animated Film:
Zootopia
Best Documentary:
Sherpa
Best Performance:
Jacob Tremblay (Room)
Worst Film:
Ben-Hur
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
Swiss Army Man
La La Land

Matt's Top 10 Films Of 2016

Another year is complete and as I've done in the past, the time is perfect to publish my top 10 and bottom 10 films of 2016.  You can look at previous lists over the past 20 years by clicking here.

We covered the list on 612ABC Breakfast several weeks ago and took talk back calls from listeners.  You can hear the full podcast here.

Starting with the bottom of the barrel, honourable mentions go to Dirty Grandpa, Nerve, The Huntsman: Winter’s War, Sunset Song, The Wait, Bad Santa 2, The Boss, Ice Age: Collision Course and Ride Along 2.

But my worst 10 of 2016 in reverse order are…

10. Up for Love (out Dec 1) is an odd French film about a woman who falls in love with a man but has conflicting thoughts about his short stature. It struggles to mix goofy comedy with heartfelt drama and ends up being a disappointment.

9. Blair Witch (out Sep 15) is a dull sequel to the 1999 original. The lead up is too long, you won't care about the characters, and the "scary" finale gets tired quickly.

8. Office Christmas Party (out Dec 8) has a small number of laughs but for the most part, it's a limp comedy. It focuses too much on a dull story about "saving the company" and less on the outrageous Christmas party that features prominently in the advertising.

7. Zoolander 2 (out Feb 11) is dreadful. It's a shame because the original was so entertaining. The characters are trying far too hard to make these jokes work. Even the surprise cameos feel uninspired.

6. Mother's Day (out Apr 28) is a ridiculously simplistic comedy about a group of women dealing with problems. These cliché-laden films have become tiring and despite best intentions, there's nothing remotely uplifting about them.

5. A Hologram For The King (out Jul 28) is a strange, unfulfilling drama about a struggling IT salesman (Tom Hanks) to travels to Saudi Arabia to complete a career-saving business deal. We're given brief glimpses into his past to help build a necessary backstory but they don't offer much.

4. Now You See Me 2 (out Jun 2) is an elaborate trick. Audiences will be duped into paying money to see a film that makes no sense.

3. Point Break (out Jan 1) is a poorly conceived remake of the 1991 original. An extreme sport loving FBI agent tries to take down a mysterious group of "Robin Hood" style criminals. Some subplots go nowhere (e.g. the love interest) while others make little sense. Very disappointing.

2. The Choice (out Feb 4) is a dreary romantic drama based on a Nicholas Sparks novel. It's hard to say too much without giving away plot details but it's about two unlikely people who fall in love and have to overcome adversity. It's the kind of movie where everything feels forced.

1. David Brent: Life of the Road (out Aug 25) will not revitalize the career of Ricky Gervais. I wanted to walk out of the cinema after 10 minutes but stuck with it to see if the repetitive jokes actually got any better. They did not. Every scene feels the same.


Now let’s focus on something more positive – the best films of the year.  Honourable mentions go to The Big Short, Carol, Deadpool, The Nice Guys, 10 Cloverfield Lane, The Conjuring 2, Julietta, Elle, Bad Moms, Don’t Breathe, American Honey, Snowden, The Jungle Book and Zootopia.

But my top 10 films of 2016 in reverse order are…

10. I, Daniel Blake (out Nov 17) is the story of a 59-year-old from the UK who finds himself unemployed and ineligible for welfare after suffering a major heart attack. Cinema has the power to open our eyes to the world’s issues and offer a path forward if we’re willing to take it. This film is a great example.

9. Embrace of the Serpent (out Jul 28) is the first film from Colombia to be nominated at the Academy Awards for best foreign language film. It's a beautifully shot drama inspired by the travels of two explorers who befriended a group of Amazonian tribes during the early 20th Century. Providing a voice to a group of people seldom seen on the big screen, this is a must-see.

8. Truman (out Aug 11) is one of the best films I've seen that covers the subject of death. It follows a man dying of terminal cancer who spends 4 days catching up with an old friend. Ricardo Darín and Javier Cámara and it's easy to see why this emotional piece won the Goya Award (the Spanish Oscars) for best picture.

7. Hunt For The Wilderpeople (out May 26) is the best film yet from director Taika Waititi. It follows a troubled boy and his disgruntled foster father who go on a hike across remote New Zealand for unusual reasons. Every character has a splash of quirkiness that makes them distinctive and memorable.

6. The First Monday In May (out May 12) is a superb documentary that follows the creation of a fashion exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the organisation of a gala ball in support of it. Director Andrew Rossi has shot some fascinating "behind the scenes" footage that makes this a compelling view from start to finish.

5. Nocturnal Animals (out Nov 10) is from director Tom Ford and is a beautifully told tale of revenge and the struggle to escape one's past. The performances are superb (Michael Shannon is tipped as an awards season contender) and the film is also to be admired for its colours, lighting and imagery.

4. Anomalisa (out Feb 4) is a rarity - a stop-motion animated feature pitched at adults. It's no surprise that it's come from the creative mind of Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich). The film follows a depressed writer travelling to Cincinnati for a public speaking event. It's a great conversation generator and I’m still reflecting on its style and themes.

3. Sing Street (out Jul 14) is set in 1985 and follows a high school student from a poor neighbourhood in Dublin who forms a band to win the affection of a girl. This is a simple, funny, sweet, beautiful film. Directed by John Carney (Once), it's filled with great 1980s music and a bunch of new songs that I'm still humming. A movie for anyone and everyone.

2. Spotlight (out Jan 28) is based on a true story and follows a team of investigative journalists as they dig deeper into the Catholic Church's cover up of child abuse in Boston. The script highlights the tough challenges that journalists face and the performances of the cast cannot be faulted. This is one of the best films I've seen in many years.

1. Brooklyn (out Feb 11) is set in 1952 and follows a young Irish woman (Saoirse Ronan) who immigrates to the United States. Battling homesickness, she meets an Italian guy determined to win her affections. This is a sweet, moving, gorgeously-shot tale that has the perfect balance of comedy and sentimentality. The characters are honest and genuine too.