Haus of Phag Reviews:
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And the worst film of the year?
Cloud Atlas. By a mile.
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Haus of Phag Reviews:
If there is one film I urge you to see this winter, it's Gravity. I could easily end this review right there, but it has been a long time since I've seen a film so powerful, watchable and exciting as Alfonso Cuarón's space survival story, Gravity.Just as last year's Argo surprised critics and audiences alike with just how good an autumn-release thriller could be,Gravity does exactly the same, and then some...
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20. Under Control - Calvin Harris & Alesso feat. Hurts
19. You - Robin Stjernberg
18. Bang Bang - will.i.am
17. Same Love - Macklemore &Ryan Lewis feat. Mary Lambert
16. Wake Me Up - Avicii
15. C O O L - Le Youth
14. Blurred Lines - Robin Thicke feat. TI & Pharrell
13. Falling - Haim
12. Counting Stars - OneRepublic
11. Black Skinhead - Kanye West
10. Strong - London Grammar
9. Holy Grail - Jay-Z feat. Justin Timberlake
8. I Love It - Icona Pop feat. Charli XCX
7. You Make Me - Avicii
6. Afterglow - Wilkinson
5. We Can't Stop - Miley Cyrus
4. Flatline - Mutya Keisha Siobhan
3. Applause - Lady Gaga
2. Move - Little Mix
1. Hold On, We're Going Home - Drake
The Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild have both now released their film nominations for 2013. As the two most high-profile awarding bodies in cinema (besides the Oscars), their nominations are usually pretty indicative toward and influential over what the Academy will nominate in January. While they rarely marry up 100%, it’s pretty safe to now start making realistic predictions for what may or may not receive Oscar nods next year. So bearing the recent nominations in mind, here’s what I think will make the final lineup.
Best Supporting Actor:
Barkad Abdi – Captain Phillips
Daniel Brühl – Rush
Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club
John Goodman – Inside Llewyn Davis
Michael Fassbender – 12 Years A Slave
Leto, Fassbender and, surprisingly, Abdi seem to be our definite in this category. With a surprising amount of support appearing for Rush, I would say Brühl’s nomination is pretty likely too. I’ve put Goodman on there because, call me optimistic, I think the fact that he starred in the last two Best Picture winners may work in his favour here. However, possible spoilers could well come from Jonah Hill in The Wolf Of Wall Street or Will Forte in Nebraska. Saving Mr Banks has had a much weaker showing than expected in most categories thus far, but if the Academy bucks this trend, we could well see Tom Hanks receiving his second nomination of the year here too.
This is Leto’s for the win. At this stage I’d say he’s the out and out favourite, though Fassbender is his main competition.
Best Supporting Actress:
Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle
Julia Roberts – August: Osage County
June Squibb - Nebraska
Lupita N’yongo – 12 Years A Slave
Oprah Winfrey – The Butler
I’m pretty confident about this lineup. Winfrey’s snub at the Globes was a MASSIVE shock, but I’m confident the Academy will buckle to the Power of Oprah. Roberts may be the one to miss out here, so she could be replaced by surprise Globe nominee Sally Hawkins for Blue Jasmine, or even Octavia Spencer for Fruitvale Station. I’m pretty confident about this category however.
This should have been Oprah’s Oscar for definite. The Globe snub hasn’t helped, but I’m pretty confident she’ll still take it.
Bruce Dern – Nebraska
Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years A Slave
Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club
Robert Redford – All Is Lost
Tom Hanks – Captain Phillips
I think it’s safe to safe that this is our final lineup. I would LOVE for Leonardo di Caprio to make the cut for The Wolf Of Wall Street, but I doubt it. A nomination for Joaquin Phoenix for Her would be pretty left-field too, but I think that film will make its showing elsewhere.
At this stage I’d say Dern will win this… But maybe Ejiofor if 12 Years A Slave does a sweep a la The Artist?
Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine
Emma Thompson – Saving Mr Banks
Judi Dench - Philomena
Meryl Streep – August: Osage County
Sandra Bullock - Gravity
Six months ago I would have said that this was Amy Adams’ year. Unfortunately American Hustle’s reviews focus more on Lawrence than Adams and the category is so strong this year that I think even her fifth nomination may now elude her. I think this category is sewn up. If Kate Winslet hadn’t already won her Oscar I’d be predicting a nomination for Labor Day for sure here, but I just don’t think there’s room for her. If Saving Mr Banks does fall completely from grace over the next month or so however, Thompson could well be the one we lose from this lineup and maybe we could even see an Amour-esque nomination for Palme d’Or winner Blue Is The Warmest Colour in Adèle Exarchopoulos, who has appeared on several critics’ lists already.
This is a two horse race for sure. Blanchett and Bullock will be neck and neck to the finish line, but I stand by my early prediction that Blanchett will take this.
Alexander Payne – Nebraska
Alfonso Cuaron – Gravity
David O. Russell – American Hustle
Paul Greengrass – Captain Phillips
Steve McQueen – 12 Years A Slave
I think Russell might be the weak link here. While he has received two previous nominations for his last two films, American Hustle hasn’t been setting the critics alike in the way everyone expected it to. With The Wolf Of Wall Street a very late contender, Martin Scorsese may well get another nomination here. I’m sticking by Russell, but he could easily miss out. It could even be the Coens who get that fifth spot for Inside Llewyn Davis, though with Payne’s citation for a similarly low-key film, I think the nod will go to a film of a much grander scale.
This will be another two horse race. While part of me thinks McQueen will get it in a sweep across the board for his film, I do think the sheer technical achievement of Gravity will work in Cuaron’s favour. At this stage, I’m predicting Cuaron.
12 Years A Slave
Dallas Buyers Club
Inside Llewyn Davis
The Wolf Of Wall Street
With the uncertainty of how many films will be nominated in this category (it could be anywhere between 5 and 10), it’s hard to make a final prediction. I’m confident that this category will consist of the above, though maybe one or two will miss out – possibly Her or Dallas Buyers Club? Possible substitutions may come from Philomena, Rush, August: Osage County or Saving Mr Banks, but I sincerely doubt it.
At this stage, I’m pretty confident that the winner will be 12 Years A Slave. With many citing this as the film Hollywood should have made years ago, I think it will sweep the board, winning most awards it’s nominated for. Gravity will dominate the technical categories, but I’ll bet my bottom dollar it gets the screenplay and editing awards. And if it gets director too, the award is sewn up.
Nigella Lawson has long been my favourite TV chef. Her effortless blend of playful flirtation and unabashed love of calorific delights sets her apart from her peers; she wants the world to eat well, but without preaching about health, without being aloof or her food being completely unobtainable. She is that proverbial Domestic Goddess that we all aspire to be; she’s funny, talented, intelligent, witty, her recipes are amazing and just look at her - SHE’S FIFTY-THREE YEARS OLD! How could anyone NOT love Nigella?
When the pictures emerged in the summer of her then-husband Charles Saatchi with his hands around her throat in a restaurant, the world at large reacted in abhorrence. Was the world’s most perfect housewife actually the victim of domestic abuse? While obviously this wouldn’t be her fault, the image she had so carefully nurtured of that aspirational lifestyle was under threat. Just as Martha Stewart’s career was greatly damaged when she got in trouble with the law, so too was Lawson’s, from a force beyond her control. What followed was the most dignified and low-key response to what had become a completely public story. Nigella took herself and her children away, Saatchi presented himself quietly at a police station to receive a caution and they divorced behind closed doors. It seemed for a time that the pair’s marital problems had reached their zenith and they were parting relatively painlessly and without danger to either of their careers… Or at least that was how it seemed.
Skip forward a few months to today. Two members of the Saatchi/Lawson household staff, the Grillo Sisters, who had worked with the family for many years , are now appearing in court over accusations of credit card fraud. Allegedly, the pair used their company credit cards for purchasing almost £80,000’s-worth of personal items, including large quantities of designer clothes. With the court case not yet concluded, the truth behind the allegations is yet to be determined, but the opportunity to suddenly air the household’s dirty laundry in public couldn’t be more convenient for someone who seems intent on destroying his now ex-wife’s reputation. Let’s not forget that Charles Saatchi, one half of the PR giant Saatchi & Saatchi, is respected as one of the most influential and prominent men in his field. His whole career, he has been making and breaking the reputations of politicians, public figures and celebrities, so when coincidences begin to crop up in his favour, I think it’s safe to say that there’s a possibility they *may* have been orchestrated. Did the Grillo Sisters commit credit card fraud? Well they may well have done, but would it have reached the courts like this, playing out in such a public fashion if Charles Saatchi didn’t want to provide a platform for his mud-slinging match? I think not. If he didn’t want this to be played out on the front pages, Charles Saatchi would have resolved this issue behind closed doors.
When Nigella gave evidence earlier this week, she said that her husband was trying to “ruin” her. Forcing her into admitting that she has dabbled with narcotics has certainly done nothing to help her image and the leaked email, which said she was permanently “high on drugs”, was almost certainly leaked by Team Saatchi. The PR giant is out for blood, but it would appear that he may have met his match. Team Nigella (or Team Cupcake, as she calls them) has kicked back. Saatchi may have a whole wealth of experience on his side, but unlike past manipulations of spin, this time we can see him pulling the strings. We may not always be aware when a person’s image is being manipulated in the press; that’s the point of PR. We believe what we’re told, with our inherent thirst for gossip sated by the titbits of information we’re drip fed by the press. But when we KNOW that someone has made their career by being the puppet-master, there is a natural cynicism that automatically kicks in. Everything that comes out about Nigella in this trial is being greeted by a sceptical public with automatic disbelief. I don’t think Saatchi really foresaw this.
Nigella’s arrival at court on the last two days has been a drama in itself. Her outfit, her makeup and her hair gave us the perfect paparazzi moment. She looked SENSATIONAL. She stormed into the courtroom a wronged woman, declaring to the world what everyone was thinking; her husband is trying to get his revenge. With witty quotes, instant soundbites and memorable terms like “intimate terrorism”, her finely tuned and well-rehearsed answers have stopped nay-sayers in their tracks. Saatchi’s attempt to air their laundry in public is back-firing; his ex-wife has stepped up to his challenge and shot him down. She knows that the whole court-case exists because of his vendetta. And while we watch him trying to pull strings from behind the scenes, Nigella’s very public defence has swung support even further in her favour. Usually, any accusations about drug-taking could destroy someone in the public eye, especially with an image like hers, but by her exposing what Saatchi is trying to do, any admissions about occasional drug-use becomes almost irrelevant. While Nigella appears pained to be letting this whole affair play out in the public sphere, she is meeting Saatchi head on. And like the fall of any business behemoth, he needed to be played at his own game.
As neither Nigella or Saatchi are on trial, neither are entitled to legal counsel or protection from the court. Saatchi chose this arena because even though there would be much press interest in the outcome of the trial, really what they’re reporting on is the testimony from the Grillos’ former employers. The outcome for the Grillo Sisters is almost irrelevant; Saatchi is hoping that by the time the verdict comes, there will have been enough mud slung at Nigella to tarnish her reputation forever. However, I think the opposite is true. While revelations about Nigella have certainly set the country talking, really the story has been how Saatchi has been manipulating the whole case. Like Rupert Murdoch and William Randolph Hearst before him, Charles Saatchi is beginning to be seen by the public for what he really is: powerful yes, but devious and calculating. While Nigella may no longer be seen as whiter than white, Saatchi has become a Machiavellian cartoon. And so what if Nigella has taken cocaine? Her image as the homely seductress was hardly virginal at all. I may have been Team Nigella long before the trial, but I think it’s safe to say that it’s her who will come out of this boxing match the eventual victor.
When I was about thirteen years old, a girl in my class said “I’ll bet you £100 that when you’re older, you’ll turn out to be gay”. I already knew at that stage that I was a raving homo, but I wasn’t ready to either confirm or deny her claim, or to help her win her bet. I came out early, much earlier than the rest of my peers, but for many people, even though their sexuality may be obvious to everyone around them, they don’t realise or come to terms with it themselves until much later. Coming out of the closet is a difficult and sometimes painful thing for all gay people, so having your hand forced by people who are convinced they already know, could never be an easy experience.
The news that Tom Daley had come out was met by the majority of people with a “Yes… We already knew that…”, much like parents who hug their teenage child after they’ve come out and tell them “I’ve always known”. It’s becoming more and more commonplace for celebrities to come out of the closet, with Daley’s revelation being reported in the same week as both Clare Balding’s and Maria Bello’s. People’s sexual orientation is becoming less and less of a big deal, and yet like Stephen Gately’s front-page coming out in 1998, Daley’s sexual orientation is big news. Why is this the case? And what makes his revelation more newsworthy than anyone else’s?
Well the reasons are probably twofold. Firstly, Daley is a sportsman. Diving may be one of the least butch sports out there, but he’s still a sportsman nonetheless. Competitive sport, run by archaic old men from dusty boardrooms in their governing bodies’ HQs, is littered with people still in the closet, because of the fear of what coming out might mean for their career. It isn’t so much that they’ll be met with homophobia inside their sport, but more of whether they will manage to have a career at the end of it. It’s the unfortunate case that most sportsmen fund their careers by making personal deals with sponsors. With most sponsorship coming from international brands that may be reluctant to associate themselves with an openly gay sportsmen, who will eventually compete in not-so-gay-friendly countries (i.e. Russia at the Sochi Olympics) at some point, coming out may seem to not be an option. What makes Daley unusual in this case is that his fame and popularity transcends his sport. He’s as much a celebrity and TV personality as he is a sportsman, so regardless of his sexual orientation, brands will want to be associated with the behemoth of Brand Daley.
Secondly, Daley is a figure who has been clearly marketed as a teenage sex symbol. Since coming of age, Daley’s beaming smile, immaculate teeth, perfectly chiselled body and ludicrously small swimming trunks have been plastered across TV adverts, magazines and the internet. We’re so used to seeing him with only 5% of his body covered that seeing him actually wearing clothes is somewhat peculiar; when he released his 2013 ‘sexy calendar’ he was actually wearing far more clothing than normal. Yes, Daley has a huge gay following, but his teenage pin-up image is very much aimed at the same market as One Direction, Little Mix and High School Musical. This saccharine family-friendly market isn’t one that’s quite ready for homosexuality yet. You’ve only got to look at One Direction, of which at least one is clearly a flamer, where marketers believe their brand as ‘teenage idols’ could only be shattered by the revelation that one (or more) of them is gay.
Both as a teen idol and a sportsman, Daley’s decision to come out is a huge anomaly. At nineteen, many gay people haven’t even come to terms with their sexuality themselves, let alone be prepared to make a public announcement about it. Daley has long been savvy in managing his own image and his decision to come out was based upon annoyance at being misquoted in the press; just as his sporting prowess was evident way beyond his years when he debuted at the Beijing Olympics at fourteen, so too is this bold and, dare I use the cliché, brave decision to tackle the press about his sexuality head on. Of course it’s worth noting that he hasn’t strictly declared himself as ‘gay’; bisexuality at least allows some wiggle-room for that pin-up image, but whether he genuinely is bi, or a case of “bi-now gay-later”, is pure conjecture. There’s no doubt about it, Daley will now be elevated into a previously unoccupied position; teenage gay icon. And in 2013, it’s about bloody time we had one.
Regardless of whether you like Brand Daley, whether Splash is the most awful show on TV or if his plucked and preened image is a little too contrived, Daley is breaking the taboo that we’ve long talked about needing breaking. Tom Daley, one of the country’s most popular current sports stars, is in a relationship with a man. And the reaction throughout the British press has been exemplary. Not a bad word has been spoken; words of encouragement have flooded in from the highest echelons of the media and sport. At a time when sport and its relationship to the LGBT community is greatly in the limelight (with widespread calls for athletes and sponsors to boycott the Sochi Olympics), to have its Golden Boy happily announce to the world that he’s in a relationship with a man is kind of a BIG DEAL. In years to come, a star’s sexuality will be wholly irrelevant and probably go unreported, but until the hangover from homophobia has subsided, role models like Daley are vitally important for young LGBT people.
We can clamber onto our high horse and say that his sexuality really shouldn’t be newsworthy, but you only have to see some of the reactions on Twitter to see that homophobia is alive and well. Support has come from many angles, but much bigotry, prejudice and hate has also been aimed at Daley over the last few days. It’s easy for me, in my safe gay Mancunian bubble, to say that one young man coming out makes very little difference to the world, but to young Julian on that council estate in Bradford, having Daley as a role model might make ALL the difference.
With all the ‘responsible journalism’ surrounding Daley’s revelations, reporting positively on a topic that has the potential to be a hot potato should anyone say the wrong thing, I think the real story is just who Tom is in this relationship with. Apparently it’s Oscar-winning Hollywood screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, which is a fact that’s just being added as a minor footnote to this story… Except if you watch Tom’s video, in which he says that he just met a guy that he feels comfortable with etc. etc., it sounds like he’s talking about some other teenage boy, who he met at school or in training… Not a 39 year old man who battled through the courts to retract his leaked “intimate images” a few years ago. That sounds like the kind of story the tabloids would normally jump on, but Brand Daley seems to be able to eclipse that.
However, to have responses on Twitter to his coming out still including, and I quote, “Tom Daley is gay I am now ashamed of my country ew we can't have a bloody fag representing us” says a lot. Gay Rights may have made enormous headway over the last few years, but that responses of hate like this can still spill out into the public sphere in our supposedly ‘tolerant’ country speaks volumes. Vanessa Feltz said in her column in the Daily Express, "people's sexual proclivities don't constitute news"; for an issue of Human Rights and equality, where the battle is still ongoing and those who speak the loudest are living where it’s safest, visibility is tantamount and thus of COURSE it’s news. I grew up in a rural community, where evolving societal ethics had taken decades to filter down to us and for places like that, it is vastly important to see such a positive and hyper-visible gay role model as Daley. Good on him, I say, and I hope he is the first of many (I’m looking at you directly, One Direction).
Writer, director, fascist dictator.