This review was originally published in March 2012 during the film’s North American theatrical run.

Glory of the gridiron – ★★★★½

Cynics, please stop reading. Undefeated is not for you.

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In Darkness (W ciemności) // JDIFF 2012

Dark night of the soul - ★★★★

In Darkness is the Polish entry for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars on Sunday and those lucky enough to get a ticket to JDIFF’s sold out screening were certainly not disappointed.

The film is set in the Nazi occupied Polish city of Lviv. It follows Poldek who works maintaining the sewers of the city and is also a part time burglar. When he comes across some Jews who have tunneled into the sewers as a means of escape from the Germans he sees an opportunity to make money.

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Winners of inaugural Spooool awards announced

| o | - Winners of the Spooools have been contacted by fax

| o | - Winners of the Spooools have been contacted by fax

So as we promised in our Oscar predictions post, we are delighted to announce this year’s lucky recipients of Spooool awards.

We published the nominations at the start of the month and after mulling it over and bringing in the lads from Pricewaterhouse Coopers to officiate we now have the winners.

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Join Spooool’s Oscar prediction game!

| o | - Are you cool enough to take home this virtual t-shirt??

Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you will be aware the Academy Awards take place tomorrow. Unless of course you don’t really like films or showbiz news which is fair enough, but eh, why are you on this site… Moms? Is that you again?

Regardless of the cynicism that seems to follow around the Oscars every year, we’re both happy to state our unadulterated love for them. Sure our Spooools (winners being announced this Sunday!) may be just as much fun, but truth be told they don’t really have the same history or prestige as their bigger Californian cousin.

So as the clock counts down to 8pm EST tomorrow (or 1am GMT Monday for you Europeans), we’ll be geared up either side of the Atlantic with our respective troops of followers. Alongside the obligatory bucket of popcorn and six-pack of beer will be the all-important Oscar ballot-sheet. The one thing that can keep you going as you struggle through the fifteenth ad-break is the fact that maybe, just maybe, Anonymous or W.E. will piss everyone off by taking home an Oscar for costume design despite being atrocious films.

Anyway for shits and giggles, here is the full list of 24 categories along with our “should win” and “will win” picks. (images shamelessly stolen from aol/movieline).

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Oscar Shorts: Live Action

Not a bit short on ambition - ★★★★ (overall average)

This year, films in the three short film categories – Live Action, Animation and Documentary – have been grouped together by Magnolia Pictures and Shorts HD. They are being presented in screenings with the intention of giving audiences an opportunity to see the nominated films prior to the Academy Awards ceremony this Sunday, February 26th. One of the theatres showing them is Toronto’s TIFF Bell Lightbox, where this Spooooler was lucky enough to see the Live Action set.

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Snubbed actors! Take back what is rightfully yours!

Tilda takes a bite of the Streep.

This is fun(ny).

London-based comedians Cope and Dalton with some pre-emptive highlights of the 2012 Academy Awards show.

Will Hugo Go Huge? Is The Artist silent but deadly? From Apes to Snapes to Anal Rapes… It’s the 84th Annual Academy Awards!

via thefilmexperience.net

2012 Oscar nominees supposedly “out of character”

| o | - Michelle Williams, Santa Claus and Berenice Bejo

The Academy has uploaded a great gallery of the 20 acting nominees, shot by photographer Douglas Kirkland. Check it out here – “Out of Character: Portraits of This Year’s Acting Nominees” [via indiewire]

Not sure how exactly they’re out of character… How do we know that Rooney Mara wasn’t being a cranky know-it-all bitch to everyone just like Lisbeth?

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The Spooools! Our Oscar-alternative awards…

|O| - O.M.G. The inaugural "Spooools" are here!

Yes we know the Oscars never pick the right films (Drive, Take Shelter) and make glaringly obvious omissions (Senna, Shame), but here at Spooool we love all the glitz, glamour, backstabbing, fake smiles, terrible jokes and embarrassingly emotional speeches that the Academy Awards have to offer.

You can of course check out the official Oscar nominations here but for our alternative take on the awards season, cast an eye over the inaugural “Spooools”.

From Best Facial Hair to Achievements in Gratuitous Violence we’ve tried to shine some light on the films the Oscars deemed unworthy of their little gold statuette.

Be sure to use the comments field to share your thoughts with us in the lead up to the big night on the 26th of Feb, but bear in mind these opinions will all be disregarded and our favourites chosen, this ain’t no democracy.

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The Descendants

- Aloha heeeey... you were cheating on me? - ★★★★½

originally published in November 2011

Y’know it’s not a lot of fun heading to the cinema knowing you’re going to see a “great” film that’s almost certain to be oscar-nominated. When a serious adult drama is showing up in all those “Potential Best Picture” lists it means you can set yourself up for a disappointing fall.

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Fingers crossed Sinead O’Connor is oscar-nominated next week

Sinead O'Connor - now usually described in the media as "troubled singer Sinead O'Connor"

Why is no one talking about the fact that Ireland’s tabloid-darling Sinead O’Connor is on the longlist for the oscar for Best Original Song, and almost certain to be nominated? O’Connor performs “Lay your head down” on the soundtrack for Albert Nobbs, which sees Glenn Close playing a woman passing as a man in order to work and survive in 19th century Ireland.

The song has already been nominated for Best Song at the Golden Globes, losing out to Madonna’s “Masterpiece” from W.E., but won the Satellite award last November. Lyrics for the song are by Glenn Close with Brian Byrne composing, suggesting that if it were nominated we may be denied seeing Sinead perform at the show. This isn’t unusual though, last year a pregnant Dido was replaced by Florence Welch for the performance of “If I Rise” from 127 Hours.

Because Madonna’s song didn’t play until midway through the W.E. credits, it means it is not eligible for the Oscars. I think this means the main competition will come from Flight of the Conchords’ Brett McKenzie for his songs from The Muppets.

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Oh no. The bloody Golden Globes. What WILL win and what SHOULD win.

The 2012 Golden Globes take place tonight at 8pm Eastern (1am for all the GMTers)

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s annual Golden Globes awards – which take place tonight – are really just the poor bastard cousin of the Oscars.

It seems the main logic in selecting their categories and nominations is to try and please everybody.

- The cop-out division of the film categories into “Drama” and “Comedy/Musical”. More nominated films and actors means more people show up.

- Tabloid-friendly token nods to people like Cher and Madonna despite their films (Burlesque, W.E.) being critically lambasted. This year Madge is up for best original score and best original song, for “Masterpiece.” from W.E.

- A few TV categories just to re-reward the winners of the Emmys from last August. Expect Modern Family, Downton Abbey and Breaking Bad to dominate. Though maybe the HFPA will see sense and give Claire Danes and Damien Lewis some love for their work on Homeland.

- “Miss Golden Globes”. Since 1963, a famous daughter of a celebrity gets to come out on stage and wave. This year Andie McDowell’s daughter Rainey Qualley will wobble on to stage and smile.

But despite all this, it is the first major show of awards season and I love awards dammit. Ricky Gervais is good value in his “controversial” role as host – “O.M.G. He just made fun of Scientology!!” – and it’s always fun to see Hollywood actors look bored when they drag out the best subtitled-latino-mini-series-or-TV-movie-that-isn’t-on-HBO…

Anyway Spooool won’t both you with any thoughts on the TV categories, but for those interested here’s a look at what I think should win, and what will win…

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Senna will not win an oscar // Thoughts on the 15 film documentary shortlist

No Oscar love for Ayrton.

Once again the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences have baffled me. Over the weekend they released their shortlist of the 15 features which will be vying for the oscar for Best Documentary Feature. They are…

Battle for Brooklyn
Bill Cunningham New York
Hell and Back Again
If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front
Jane’s Journey
The Loving Story
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory
Project Nim
Semper Fi: Always Faithful
Sing Your Song
Under Fire: Journalists in Combat
We Were Here

Now first of all, I am absolutely thrilled to see Hell and Back Again in there. It was the best film I saw at Toronto’s Hot Docs festival last spring, and the film-maker Danfung Dennis was a true gent as well as an incredibly talented man. Dennis is a stills photographer who shot Hell and Back Again on a Canon 5D Mark II with a custom-built rig (see his twitpic), creating the most immersive shots I’ve ever seen be they in a feature film, documentary or computer game. It’s well worth watching the trailer if you have a minute to spare.

While I’m sad to see Werner Herzog’s Into the Abyss, Susan Saladoff’s Hot Coffee and Constance Marks and Philip Shane’s Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey ommited from the list, there is no omission more glaring than that of Asif Kapadia’s Senna.

The movie tells the story of Formula One driver Ayrton Senna’s life from Sao Paolo to his fatal crash in the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. Whether you’re a fan of Formula One or not, this is an absolutely flawless documentary with more heart and emotion than any scripted movie. Its “characters”, “plot” and structure could have made for a really solid biopic, but the wealth of archive footage and interviews available meant there was no need. If you haven’t seen this, then see it. Laugh at his ladies. Boo the Frenchman. Marvel at his driving. Cry at the crash.

It did well at the box office and scored incredibly well with the critics and yet it looks like once again this has no bearing on the Academy’s choices. There had even been talk of Senna receiving a nod in other categories like editing and sound, but this now seems unlikely after its omission from the list for documentaries

It has happened before, with Grizzly Man, Hoop Dreams, Why We Fight and King of Kong all being notable examples that have failed to find any traction.

Now and again a film like Banksy’s Exit Through the Gift Shop, Murderball or Supersize Me sneaks in there, but nowadays it seems they like to have this as Oscar night’s “ISSUES” category. Last year alongside Banksy’s film we saw films about war (Restrepo), the environment (Waste Land and Gasland) and the economic crisis (Inside Job).

This longlist of 15 comes from a longer list of 124 entrants which the Academy’s documentary branch screening committee then whittle down. We’ll find out which five make the nominations list on January 24th.

We’ll complain about that too.

Adrien Brody – what the hell happened?

Adrien Brody - Oscar winner. Now Rob Schneider co-star.

Adrien Brody - Oscar winner. Now Rob Schneider co-star.

So I’m in the middle of downloading Wrecked, the most recent Adrien Brody film. Read More