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Cinema Chat: Sundance Winners, 'The Lobster,' '45 Years,' 'Hail, Caesar!,' And More

Michigan Theater
Wikipedia Media Commons

Another Sundance Film Festival has wrapped up.  In this week's "Cinema Chat," Michigan Theater Executive Director Russ Collins discusses Sundance's big winners, plus other movies opening this weekend with WEMU's David Fair.

All of the Winners of the 2016 Sundance Film Festival

The awards ceremony featured host (and Sundance premiere "Hunt for theWilderpeople" director) TaikaWaititi (Flight of the Concords) shepherding along the festivities mostly amusing (and endearingly self-reflective) fashion.  Featuring awards judged by six different juries, the ceremony is always a lively, fun and forward-thinking end to the festival. Big winners included world features like "Sonita" and "Between Land and Sea," along with U.S. offerings like "Morris From America" and "The Birth of a Nation."

U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize:  "The Birth of a Nation"

U.S. Documentary Grand Jury Prize:  "Weiner"

U.S. Documentary Directing Award:  Roger Ross Williams, "Life, Animated"

U.S. Dramatic Directing Award:  The Daniels (Daniel Scheinart and Daniel Kwan), "Swiss Army Man"

World Cinema Grand Jury Prize, Dramatic:  "Sand Storm"

World Cinema Grand Jury Prize, Documentary:  "Sonita"

U.S. Dramatic Audience Award:  "The Birth of a Nation"

U.S. Documentary Audience Award:  "Jim"

World Cinema Audience Award, Dramatic:  "Between Sea and Land"

World Cinema Audience Award, Documentary: "Sonita"

Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award:  Chad Hartigan, "Morris From America"

NEXT Audience Award:  "First Girl I Loved"

U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Prize:  "As You Are"

U.S. Dramatic Breakthrough Performance Award:  JoeSeo, "Spa Night"

U.S. Dramatic Individual Performance Award:  Craig Robinson, "Morris From America"

U.S. Dramatic Individual Performance Award:  MelanieLynskey, "The Intervention"

U.S. Documentary Editing Award:  "NUTS!"

U.S. Documentary Social Impact Filmmaking Award:  "Trapped"

U.S. Documentary Writing Award:  "Kate Plays Christine"

U.S. Documentary Verite Filmmaking Award:  "The Bad Kids"

World Cinema Directing Award, Documentary: "All These Sleepless Nights"

World Cinema Directing Award, Dramatic:  "Belgica"

World Cinema Acting Award, Dramatic: Vicky Hernandez and ManoloCruz, "Between Land and Sea"

World Cinema Screenwriting Award, Dramatic:  "MiAmiga del Parque"

World Cinema Unique Vision and Design Award, Dramatic:  "The Lure"

World Cinema Editing Award, Documentary:  "We Are X"

World Cinema Cinematography Award, Documentary:  "The Land of the Enlightened"

World Cinema Best First Feature Award, Documentary:  "When Two Worlds Collide"

Alfred P. Sloan Prize: "Embrace of the Serpent" (announced earlier)

Direct From Sundance: The Lobster

Over the last decade, the Michigan Theater has developed a close relationship with the Sundance Film Festival.  Because of that relationship, Direct From Sundance, the Michigan Theater will host a very special screening of “The Lobster,” starring Colin Farrell, John C. Reilly and Rachel Weisz.  This one-night-only screening, taking place tonight, February 4 at 8 PM, is the Midwest premiere of this absurdist comedy, set in the near future when every adult must be part of a couple.  Recently dumped by his wife, David (Farrell) is assigned to a countryside “hotel” where he must find a suitable mate or be turned into the animal of his choice (part of the absurdist nature of this movie).  David attends group meetings and mixers designed to foster compatible pairings.  David’s search ultimately leads him to escape from the “hotel” to join a group of militant outcasts who live in the woods, free but hunted and living under their own set of quirky “rules.”  “The Lobster” exudes a Monty Python-like humor Ann Arbor audiences enjoy and is played by an expert cast for maximum fun.  “The Lobster” won the Jury Prize at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival and was a hit at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah – and now comes to Ann Arbor! Don’t miss it!

Opening Downtown

"45 Years"

There is just one week until Kate (Academy Award nominee Charlotte Rampling) and Geoff’s (Tom Courtenay) forty-fifth wedding anniversary, and planning for the party is going well.  But then a letter arrives for Geoff.  The body of his first love has been discovered, frozen and preserved in the icy glaciers of the Swiss Alps.  By the time the party is upon them, five days later, there may not be a marriage left to celebrate.  A.O. Scott of the New York Times writes “Mr. Courtenay, a naturally demonstrative actor, registers a convincing blend of longing, confusion and shame.  Ms. Rampling, a stiller, deeper-running pool, conveys emotions so strange and intense that they don’t quite have names.”  “45 Years” opens Friday at the Michigan.

"Where to Invade Next"

An expansive, rib-tickling, and subversive comedy in which director Michael Moore, playing the role of "invader," visits a host of nations to learn how the U.S. could improve its own prospects.  It turns out the solutions to America's most entrenched problems already existed in the world - they're just waiting to be co-opted.  “Where to Invade Next” opens Friday February 12 at the State, with special early screenings on Thursday, February 11.

Special Screenings Downtown

"Tazza: The Hidden Card"

A young man with natural born talents in gambling becomes the scapegoat of betrayal and conspiracy and is forced to be on the run.  Part of the Korean Cinema Now film series, it plays Saturday, February 6 at 2 PM at the Michigan.

"West Side Story"

The classic musical update of Romeo and Juliet plays Monday, February 8 at 7 PM at the Michigan as part of the The Bard: Film adaptations of plays by Shakespeare series.

"Black Jack (Burraku Jakku)"

“Black Jack” is the world’s most in-demand surgeon, but behind this cover is another mission: to protect humanity from super-beings who want to destroy all of mankind;  playing Wednesday, February 10 at 7 PM at the State as part of the CineManga Film Series.

Opening at the Multiplex

"Hail, Caesar!"

An all-star comedy set during the latter years of Hollywood's Golden Age, Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) is busy at work trying to solve all the problems of the actors and filmmakers at Capitol Pictures.  His latest assignments involve a disgruntled director, a singing cowboy, a beautiful swimmer and a handsome dancer.  As if all this wasn't enough, Mannix faces his biggest challenge when Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) gets kidnapped while in costume for the swords-and-sandals epic "Hail, Caesar!" If the studio doesn't pay $100,000, it's the end of the line for the movie star.  Written and directed by Oscar-winning filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen and also starring Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand and Tilda Swinton, “Hail, Caesar!” opens Friday.

"Pride and Prejudice and Zombies"

A zombie outbreak has fallen upon the land in Jane Austen's classic tale of the tangled relationships between lovers from different social classes in 19th century England.  Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James) is a master of martial arts and weaponry and the handsome Mr. Darcy (Sam Reilly) is a fierce zombie killer, yet the epitome of upper class prejudice.  As the zombie outbreak intensifies, they must swallow their pride and join forces on the blood-soaked battlefield.  “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” opens Friday.

"The Choice"

When feisty medical student Gabby moves in next door to perennial ladies' man Travis, they embark on a surprising romantic journey neither imagined possible.  “The Choice” opens Friday.

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at dfair@emich.edu

Contact David: dfair@emich.edu
Russ Collins is the executive director of Marquee Arts, the nonprofit that oversees the Michigan Theater and State Theater in Ann Arbor.
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