Awards season

The Golden Globes, the run-up to the Oscars – an interesting exercise in how the industry (‘the business’ according to yesterday’s Guardian) is feeling about itself, the whole process is still annoying in terms of what gets recognised and what doesn’t.

People I meet on courses or at events often ask me what I think about this or that film and they seem surprised that I haven’t seen such an important film. I’m not sure if this is true for everyone who teaches film, but I certainly don’t get to the cinema as often as I would like (lack of organisation, probably) and when I do get to a screening, it’s often a film I’ve booked or I’m considering booking for a course. Although I do often see films for work, I do enjoy seeing films just for fun, but then I choose very carefully. The more hype a film receives, the less I am likely to see it, unless something specific in the promotion (or word of mouth) attracts me. In 2006 I saw just over a film a week at the cinema. Here is the list of titles, leaving out multiple screeenings of the films I used on events:

The Departed, Red Road, Children of Men, Pan’s Labyrinth, The Host (S. Korea), Shanghai Dreams (China), Ghost World, A History of Violence, Princess Mononoke, Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, Man Push Cart, The History Boys, American Psycho, Love + Hate, Tsotsi, Three Times (Taiwan), Tickets, The Wind That Shakes the Barley, The Last Picture Show, Brokeback Mountain, Hi-Lo Country, Volver, Innocent Voices, Kiss Me Deadly, The River (Renoir), The Bad Sleep Well (Kurosawa), Twilight Samurai, An Actor’s Revenge (Japan), 36, Down in the Valley, Inside Man, Untold Scandal (S. Korea), Taxi Driver, Confetti, Life is to Whistle (Cuba), The Waiting List (Cuba), Omkara (India), Miami Vice, Pirates of the Caribbean 2, Superman Returns, Marie Antoinette, Shaun of the Dead, La Haine, Sweet Sixteen, Crash, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, Hidden, The Beat That My Heart Skipped, Intimacy, Memories of Murder (S. Korea), My Sassy Girl (South Korea) Nowhere to Hide (S. Korea), Le Doulos, Les Armees des Ombres, Paisa, Dirty Pretty Things, Edward Scissorhands, The Notorious Bettie Page, Walk the Line, A Cock & Bull Story

Out of these, there was only one that wasn’t worth the bother – Confetti. From the rest, I can select some possible award winners from this year’s releases:

Best debut picture: Red Road for its intensity and roller coaster last third and The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada for being the best Peckinpah-style movie since Sam went (would be good if the same director and writer tackled Cormac McCarthy’s border stories)

Best re-release: Les Armees des Ombres (see my earlier blog entry)

Most enjoyable: Volver

Most adventurous direction: Children of Men – lots of holes in the story, but a brave and technically skilful rendition of the UK in 20 years time with good performances.

Most unjustly ignored in the UK: The Host – the best action film I’ve seen, a mammoth blockbuster in East Asia, its shunning by UK audiences is shaming.

Most over-rated film: Hidden – supposedly the favourite film for discussion around the dinner tables of North London. Certainly a well-made film with good performances and a couple of stunning moments, but I sense an emptiness where it purports to be saying something profound.

Best picture: Pan’s Labyrinth. A wholly deserved triumph for Guillermo del Toro – perhaps someone will now re-release The Devil’s Backbone on 35mm, since it disappeared soon after its first outing.

2007 has started well and A Prairie Home Companion was hugely enjoyable and a fitting send-off for Robert Altman.


  1. Nick Lacey

    Children of Men was my film of the year and I agree that Pan’s Labyrinth was excellent and Hidden wasn’t.V for Vendetta was brilliant too along with A History of Violence, Crash, Hotel Rwanda (not all 2006 releases I know).Probably the most disturbing film I saw was Osama (Afghanistan, 2003).


  2. Anonymous

    Doesn’t it just show the differences in taste-buds! I really enjoyed Hidden and watched in a cinema that was electric with the tension and concentration. A friend struggled through it another day, to the sound of other people’s snoring. The comments already seem to show a fantastic range of stuff available. However, I was looking on the Film Comment website (New York based) with its critics top films of the year. Most interesting, is the list of films not yet released or without distribution (USA). I was lucky enough to see one (Wristcutters: A Love Story) – it’s really fun and original (set in the world where all suicides are sent after death) and I’d love to see it again. No chance, without a distributors ultimate say-so over cinematic life or death – here or in the States. I agree that the Awards season is a tedious role-call of the usual suspects who are already in the club. So much hidden talent we don’t get to see because of cultural blind spots (as you said with The Host) and institutional stitch-ups.Rona Murray


  3. peter

    Hi Roy,From the list of films you posted, the ones I most enjoyed seeing were Three Times, The Beat That My Heart Skipped, The History Boys and Walk The Line. Three Times is a masterpiece.


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