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Cinema Chat: Oscar Winners, Independent Spirit Awards, 'Heart of a Dog,' 'Zootopia,' And More

Mar 3, 2016

Michigan Theater Lobby
Credit Wikipedia Media Commons / wikipedia.org

The 2016 Oscars have been handed out!  In this week's "Cinema Chat," WEMU's David Fair and Michigan Theater Executive Director Russ Collins talk Oscars, the Independent Spirit Awards and preview all the movies opening this weekend.


Oscar Winners 2016: How 'Spotlight,' 'The Revenant,' and 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Dominated the Academy Awards

While 'Fury Road' took home the most Oscars, Academy voters split Picture and Director yet again, as A.G. Iñárritu won his second directing Oscar in a row and indie 'Spotlight' took the big win.

While the 2016 Oscars were dominated by big-scale studio vehicles "The Revenant" and "Mad Max: Fury Road," two little-indies-that-could with gravitas, "Spotlight" and "Room," which launched like rockets out of the Telluride Film Festival, took Best Picture and Original Screenplay, and Best Actress, respectively, after taking the same wins at the Spirit Awards the day before.  Finally, the preferential ballot helped a movie with only two Oscar wins make the big score, as many voters placed it at number two. "We made this film for all the journalists who held the powerful accountable," said "Spotlight" writer-director Tom McCarthy.

Host Chris Rock did an outstanding job as the Oscar Host, lampooning the Academy and dealing creatively with the Oscar controversy about race and the “Oscar So White” boycott.

INDEPENDENT SPIRIT AWARDS

The night before Oscars were awarded the Independent Spirit Awards were bestowed.  And the winners were . . .

Best Feature -- "Spotlight"

Best Director -- Tom McCarthy, "Spotlight"

Best Screenplay -- Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer, "Spotlight"

Best First Screenplay -- Emma Donoghue, "Room"

Best First Feature -- "The Diary of a Teenage Girl"

Best Female Lead -- Brie Larson, "Room"

Best Male Lead -- Abraham Attah, "Beasts of No Nation"

Best Supporting Female -- Mya Taylor, "Tangerine"

Best Supporting Male -- Idris Elba, "Beasts of No Nation"

Best Documentary -- "The Look of Silence"

Best Cinematography -- Ed Lachman, "Carol"

Best Editing -- Tom McArdle, "Spotlight"

Best International Film -- "Son of Saul"

John Cassavetes Award -- "Krisha" (Given to the best feature made for under $500,000.)

Robert Altman Award -- "Spotlight"

ACADEMY AWARD WINNERS

“Spotlight,”

Winner of the 2016 Academy Award for Best Picture, it tells the riveting true story of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe investigation that would rock the city and cause a crisis in one of the world's oldest and most trusted institutions.  When the newspaper's tenacious "Spotlight" team of reporters delves into allegations of abuse in the Catholic Church, their year-long investigation uncovers a decades-long cover-up at the highest levels of Boston's religious, legal, and government establishment, touching off a wave of revelations around the world.  Directed by Academy Award-nominee Tom McCarthy, “Spotlight” is a tense investigative dramatic-thriller, tracing the steps to one of the biggest cover-ups in modern times.  “Spotlight” returns to the Michigan on Friday.

"Son of Saul"

In the searing drama nominated for this year’s Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, a concentration camp inmate tasked with burning the dead discovers the body of his young son and must choose between participating in the clandestine uprising being planned among the prisoners, or securing a proper Jewish burial for his child.  The film has received near-universal praise from critics; Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times writes “’Son of Saul’ is one of the best and most original and most devastatingly effective films ever made about the Holocaust…. (it is a) lasting work of art — difficult to watch, impossible to forget.”  “Son of Saul” opens Friday at the Michigan, with select screenings exhibited in 35mm.

SHORTS!!

See all the Oscar nominees for Best Animated, Live Action, and Documentary Shorts before the 88th Academy Awards ceremony on February 28!  Oscar-nominated shorts play at the Michigan Theater.  Check the Michigan Theater web site for times and complete details.

Now Playing

"The Lady in the Van"

This film tells the true story of the relationship between screenwriter and playwright Alan Bennett (Alex Jennings) and the singular Miss Shepherd (Dame Maggie Smith).

"Where to Invade Next"

An expansive, rib-tickling, and subversive comedy in which director Michael Moore, playing the role of "invader."

Opening Friday Downtown

"Heart of a Dog"

Artist Laurie Anderson reflects on the deaths of her husband Lou Reed, mother, and beloved dog Lolabelle, as well as subjects, such as family memories, surveillance, and Buddhist teachings.  Steven Rea of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes “’Heart of a Dog’ functions to illuminate the connections between art and life, human and beast, memory and imagination, between the loved ones in your life and the people you can't bring yourself to love.”  “Heart of a Dog” opens Friday at the Michigan.

"The Boy and the Beast"

One of Japan’s biggest theatrical hits of 2015, Kyuta, a young orphan, stumbles into a fantastic world of beasts.  He’s taken in by Kumatetsu, a rough-around-the-edges warrior beast who’s been searching for the perfect apprentice. When a deep darkness threatens to throw the human and beast worlds into chaos, the strong bond between this unlikely family will be put to ultimate test in a final showdown that will only be won if the two can work together using all of their combined strength and courage.  “The Boy and the Beast” opens Friday at the State.

Special Screenings Downtown

"The Taming of the Shrew"

Italian director Franco Zeffirelli is best known for his two Shakespearean adaptations: “Romeo and Juliet” and “The Taming of the Shrew.”  While Romeo and Juliet has gone on to have a considerable cinematic life, his version of “The Taming of the Shrew” remains the best known film version of the play, thanks in no small part to the star power leading his cast.  Bianca’s father will not let his daughter marry unless her hot-tempered sister, Katherina (Elizabeth Taylor), also has a suitor.  Luckily, the slovenly Petruchio (Taylor’s husband at the time, Richard Burton) is looking for an affluent woman to marry.  “The Taming of the Shrew” plays Monday, March 7 at 7 PM at the Michigan as part of The Bard Film Series.

"Battle Royale"

An unflinching live-action adaptation of Koushun Takami‘s equally gripping, groundbreaking manga that looks into the near future, one where the Japanese government captures a class of ninth-grade students and then forces them to kill each other under the revolutionary “Battle Royale” act. “Battle Royale” plays Wednesday, March 9 at 7 PM at the State as part of the CineManga Film Series.

"The Idol"

By amplifying Palestinian voices through the screen arts, the Ann Arbor Palestine Film Festival aims to educate the community of Ann Arbor about the arts, culture, politics, and history of Palestine.  Opening night of the 5th annual Ann Arbor Palestine Film Festival takes place Thursday, March 10 at the Michigan Theater, with a screening of “The Idol,” a biopic exploring the life of Mohammad Assaf, the Gazan wedding singer who became a worldwide sensation after winning the Arab Idol competition in 2013.

Opening at the Multiplex

"London Has Fallen"

The sequel to the worldwide smash hit "Olympus Has Fallen," the British Prime Minister has passed away under mysterious circumstances.  His funeral in London is a must-attend event for leaders of the western world.  However, what starts out as the most protected event on Earth turns into a deadly plot to kill the world's most powerful leaders, devastate every known landmark in the British capital, and unleash a terrifying vision of the future.  “London Has Fallen” opens Friday.

"Whiskey Tango Foxtrot"

Cable news producer Kim Barker decides to shake up her routine by taking a daring new assignment in Kabul, Afghanistan.  Dislodged from her comfortable American lifestyle, Barker finds herself in the middle of an out-of-control war zone.  Starring Tina Fey and Margot Robbie, “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” opens Friday.

"Zootopia"

The modern mammal metropolis of Zootopia is a city like no other. Comprised of habitat neighborhoods like ritzy Sahara Square and frigid Tundratown, it's a melting pot where animals from every environment live together-a place where no matter what you are, from the biggest elephant to the smallest shrew, you can be anything.  But when rookie Officer Judy Hopps arrives, she discovers that being the first bunny on a police force of big, tough animals isn't so easy.  Determined to prove herself, she jumps at the opportunity to crack a case, even if it means partnering with a fast-talking, scam-artist fox to solve the mystery.   “Zootopia” opens Friday.

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at 734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at dfair@emich.edu