The Indies Came Out to Play

Written by Fernando Andrade

In a year with so many great independent films, it was rewarding to see so many different movies get love with this year’s Film Independent Spirit Award nominations. While it seems like bigger studio films will get the push for the Golden Globes and Oscar’s, a lot of these films will be relegated to just these independent awards, but maybe, these nominations will lead to some much-needed momentum come later in the awards season.

Just like last year, A24 dominated with a total of 12 nominations. Bo Burnham’s ‘Eighth Grade’ received nominations for best female lead in Elsie Fisher, best supporting male actor in Josh Hamilton, best first screenplay, and best feature. Surprisingly enough it did not get nominated for best first feature, but maybe that came down to the members wanting to spread the love since Ari Aster’s ‘Hereditary’ gave A24 a nominee in that category, as well as best female lead with Toni Collette. Paul Schrader’s ‘First Reformed’ also helped A24 with nominations in best feature, best director, best male lead, and best screenplay. While Jonah Hill’s directorial debut ‘Mid90’s’ only managed to get a best editing nomination.

Amazon, Netflix, and The Orchard, while nowhere near A24, performed well, with 6 nominations each. The Orchard does get bragging rights over A24 as ‘We the Animals’ picked up the single most nominations for a film with 5. Amazon was lead by Lynne Ramsay’s ‘You were never Really Here’ with 4 nominations, and Suspiria picked up a nomination for best cinematography and was awarded the prestigious Robert Altman Award. Netflix surprised many with its Indie hit ‘Private Life’ getting 3 nominations including best director, best supporting female actor, and best screenplay. They also received two best international film nominations with ‘Roma’ and‘Happy as Lazzaro’ both which were not eligible for other award consideration.

Annapurna also managed to snag an impressive 5 nominees thanks to Barry Jenkins’ ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ and Boots Riley’s ‘Sorry to Bother You’. Jenkins, who’s last film ‘Moonlight’ won best feature in 2016, once again sees his film receive a nomination for best feature along with himself for best director.

Other notable stand outs we want to highlight are Helena Howard and Ashley Connor who received nominations for best female lead and best cinematography respectively for there work on ‘Madelines Madeline’. Benjamin Loeb was nominated for cinematography for his work on Mandy. Daveed Diggs was nominated for his performance in ‘Blindspotting’ as well as John Cho for his performance in ‘Searching’. In a year with exceptional documentaries, two which are loved here at Jumpcut which got nominations are ‘Minding the Gap’ and ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor’. Jim Cummings film ‘Thunder Road’ also was nominated for the John Cassavetes Award for films budgeted at less than $500,000.

Some of the bigger studios this year seemed to be overshadowed, as Focus Features, Sony Picture Classics, and Fox Searchlight all had trouble breaking into the fold. Focus only managed 3 nominees with ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor’, Adam Driver for his supporting role in ‘BlackKklansman’, and best screenplay for ‘Thoroughbreds’. Fox Searchlight only saw 2 nominations for ‘Can You Ever Forgive Me?’ and one wasn’t even Melissa McCarthy, but instead Richard E. Grant and a best screenplay nomination. There third came in the form of Yorgos Lanthimos’ ‘The Favourite’ for best international film. Sony Picture Classics, which last year performed exceptionally well thanks to ‘Call Me By Your Name’ only managed a single nominations this year with Glenn Close for best female lead in ‘The Wife’.

Also, worth noting is the amount of inclusion from this year’s nominees. Whether its three female directors being nominated for best director, to three of the five best male leads being people of color, and a lot more spread throughout the nominations in every category, it is always great seeing diversity.

This year’s Film Independent Spirit Awards will take place on Saturday, February 23rd, 2019.

FULL LIST OF NOMINEES:

Best Feature

EIGHTH GRADE

FIRST REFORMED

IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK

LEAVE NO TRACE

YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE

Best Director

Debra Granik, LEAVE NO TRACE

Barry Jenkins, IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK

Tamara Jenkins, PRIVATE LIFE

Lynne Ramsay, YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE

Paul Schrader, FIRST REFORMED

Best First Feature

HEREDITARY

SORRY TO BOTHER YOU

THE TALE

WE THE ANIMALS

WILDLIFE

Best Male Lead

John Cho, SEARCHING

Daveed Diggs, BLINDSPOTTING

Ethan Hawke, FIRST REFORMED

Christian Malheiros, SÓCRATES

Joaquin Phoenix, YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE

Best Female Lead

Glenn Close, THE WIFE

Toni Collette, HEREDITARY

Elsie Fisher, EIGHTH GRADE

Regina Hall, SUPPORT THE GIRLS

Helena Howard, MADELINE’S MADELINE

Carey Mulligan, WILDLIFE

Best Supporting Female Actor

Kayli Carter, PRIVATE LIFE

Tyne Daly, A BREAD FACTORY

Regina King, IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK

Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie, LEAVE NO TRACE

J. Smith-Cameron, NANCY

Best Supporting Male Actor

Raúl Castillo, WE THE ANIMALS

Adam Driver, BLACKKKLANSMAN

Richard E. Grant, CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?

Josh Hamilton, EIGHTH GRADE

John David Washington, MONSTERS AND MEN

Best Cinematography

Ashley Connor, MADELINE’S MADELINE

Diego Garcia, WILDLIFE

Benjamin Loeb, MANDY

Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, SUSPIRIA

Zak Mulligan, WE THE ANIMALS

Best Screenplay

Richard Glatzer (Writer/Story By), Rebecca Lenkiewicz & Wash Westmoreland, COLETTE

Nicole Holofcener & Jeff Whitty, CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?

Tamara Jenkins, PRIVATE LIFE

Boots Riley, SORRY TO BOTHER YOU

Paul Schrader FIRST REFORMED

Best First Screenplay

Bo Burnham, EIGHTH GRADE

Christina Choe, NANCY

Cory Finley, THOROUGHBREDS

Jennifer Fox, THE TALE

Quinn Shephard (Writer/Story By) and Laurie Shephard (Story By), BLAME

Best Editing

Joe Bini, YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE

Keiko Deguchi, Brian A. Kates & Jeremiah Zagar, WE THE ANIMALS

Luke Dunkley, Nick Fenton, Chris Gill & Julian Hart, AMERICAN ANIMALS

Anne Fabini, Alex Hall and Gary Levy, THE TALE

Nick Houy, MID90S

Best Documentary

HALE COUNTY THIS MORNING, THIS EVENING

MINDING THE GAP

OF FATHERS AND SONS

ON HER SHOULDERS

SHIRKERS

WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?

Best International Film

BURNING (South Korea)

THE FAVOURITE (United Kingdom)

HAPPY AS LAZZARO (Italy)

ROMA (Mexico)

SHOPLIFTERS (Japan)

The Truer Than Fiction Award

Alexandria Bombach, ON HER SHOULDERS

Bing Liu, MINDING THE GAP

RaMell Ross, HALE COUNTY THIS MORNING, THIS EVENING

Producers Award

Jonathan Duffy and Kelly Williams

Gabrielle Nadig

Shrihari Sathe

The Someone to Watch Award

Alex Moratto, SÓCRATES

Ioana Uricaru, LEMONADE

Jeremiah Zagar, WE THE ANIMALS

The Bonnie Award

Debra Granik

Tamara Jenkins

Karyn Kusama

Robert Altman Award

SUSPIRIA

Director: Luca Guadagnino

Casting Directors: Avy Kaufman, Stella Savino

Ensemble Cast: Malgosia Bela, Ingrid Caven, Lutz Ebersdorf, Elena Fokina, Mia Goth, Jessica Harper, Dakota Johnson, Gala Moody, Chloë Grace Moretz, Renée Soutendijk, Tilda Swinton, Sylvie Testud, Angela Winkler

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REVIEW: Private Life (2018)

Directed by: Tamara Jenkins
Starring: Kathryn Hahn, Paul Giamatti, Kayli Carter

Written by Jessica Pena

Richard and Rachel want to start a family. After many attempts and not being able to conceive on their own, they look at the means of assisted reproduction and other therapies to finally fulfil their wish to parent. When things go awry, they feel hopeless and in a very confused, exposed moment of their marriage. Like an act of serendipity, their step-niece Sadie moves in with them, being in a rut herself, dropping out of college and wanting to find inspiration. After seeing Sadie as so self-aware, kind, and just all around perfect, Richard and Rachel reconsider their fertility endeavours. Tamara Jenkins’ Private Life is unmistakingly poignant, revealing the truths in our blunders and journeys to rediscovery, hope, fulfilment, and wrapping those around us in two hours of a tender embrace.

Paul Giamatti, Kathryn Hahn, and Kayli Carter pull at our heartstrings and it’s quite easy to understand how. Jenkins’ script is brilliantly natural, giving every character, even Molly Shannon’s supporting role as Sadie’s mother, a fully realized characterization with real-world emotions and troubles. At one turn in the film, Molly Shannon’s character even struggles with all the commotion on her plate while also dealing with personal anxieties. Just as you might think of her as a time filler, she’s actually cared for by way of Jenkins’ admiration for womanly worries and its endless obstacles. Here is the role of a mother who so desperately wishes her daughter would grow up, but who is also not immune to that same sense of actual inevitability.

Giamatti and Hahn are clearly one of the most surreal and endearing onscreen couples of recent time, dialling up their characters’ natural charm and klutzy, honest marital mishaps, and somehow letting us in on the way it pains them. At one of their worst times, the doctor hands them a pamphlet that reads, ‘Sometimes it takes three to make a family,’ and it sends Rachel into a frustration, feeling left out at the thought of not carrying the child on her own. After years of trying and having awkward encounters with adoption counsellors and having to continuously inject hormone therapies, it’s like they’re about to throw in the towel.

In the film, you’ll quickly realise how the “private life” of this married couple culminates into something very sincere and carefully paced, like a comfortable high in knowing these things aren’t always so clear cut. Even though there’s a running thread about their struggles with fertility, it doesn’t seem to have a misstep in taking us from one empathetic point of view to another. It’s not so much about their wish to get pregnant, than the rekindlement of warmth and how the introduction of Sadie as a means of salvation affects the story first-hand. This comes along with observations of their own lives, the golden times, aging, marriage, individual transparency, and even the notions of giving up on all of them at once. Even at its most theatrical of scenes, it slices up humour at a moment’s notice, crafting its unique execution. These are all reasons to pop this film on and enjoy its wonderful understanding of life at its most desperate and quirkily beautiful moments.

Experiencing infertility has its woes. Jenkins pulls bits and pieces from her own life’s experience with treatments and infuses that realness into the film, disarming it of its unconventional, preconceived notions. In part, it’s a story about womanhood, but one that tangles in daily social concerns, curiosities, and weaknesses as universal as they come to any one of us. Richard, who once ran a theatre company, now works at a pickle-making company. Rachel, an author all her life, is working to publish her latest piece of work. They’re coming into assisted reproduction routes with a tired, hopeless endearment. As they’re both over 40, it’s quite easy to understand where their mindsets are at. Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn are national treasures. Even at this couple’s defeats, they’re genuinely moving.

The many relationships of the film, the little moments shared with every other character, rests on the reliability and trust of its tender script. Whether it’s Rachel hanging out with Sadie—who’s half dressed and full of wanderlust—reminiscing her youthful self and seeing it in the girl in front of her, or the way Sadie is confiding to Richard that him and Rachel feel more like her parents than her own—the film wastes no precious moment.

Private Life says so much in scenes where words are minimal. The interpersonal dialogue feels quietly constructed, easing their poignancy and honesty into you. It’s inviting you to follow Richard and Rachel and be their confidant as a viewer. Throughout their most vulnerable moments and surprises, it leads on a keen, witty sense of their lives, fulfilled or otherwise. Sadie’s inclusion does wonders as much as it is truly bittersweet to the crystallisation of Richard and Rachel’s fertility voyage. Tamara Jenkins’ film is funny, gracefully poignant, and embedded in a wonderful, closely-knit ensemble. It’s a quietly magnificent film.

 

JESSICA’S VERDICT:

5

 

Watch this Space #4

We’re coming in hot this weekend with some new staff picks to make your streaming time interesting! This week’s selections come from all points of the spectrum as we recommend stories of thrill, ones with heartfelt gut-punches, and one’s that delightfully pass the time. Let us know what you’re eyeing on this list or if you’ve had the pleasure of seeing one or two of these spectacular finds!

Paddington (Paul King, 2014)

Amazon Prime UK, Netflix US/ UK

Paddington. Oh, what a lovely film indeed. For someone who, to the best of his knowledge, wasn’t all that big on the duffle coat wearing bear as a youngster, the cute little bugger won me over in the first 10 minutes of his live action outing.

There’s an insatiable British charm that runs through the entirety of Paddington, injected into the witticisms of the heartwarming bear and his surrounding ensemble. This includes, but isn’t limited to, Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Nicole Kidman and Peter Capaldi. But the success of the film lies most of all within Ben Whishaw’s sublime vocals as the titular hero. Polite, self-assured and hilariously innocent, he brings the bear to life in a way I didn’t think possible.

It bears much similarity plot wise to underrated dog-flick, Beethoven, but there’s a level of admirable ambition in elevating this to a larger than life, sweeter than marmalade adventure that will have adults and kids wiping away tears of laughter in equal measure. And don’t get me started on Paddington 2, that’s an even bigger treat.

— Cameron Frew

 

Thunder Road (short) (Jim Cummings, 2016)

Vimeo

My recommendation this week will only take 12 minutes of your time, but I genuinely can’t recommend it enough. Thunder Road is written and directed by Jim Cummings, a chap we were lucky enough to interview recently following the premiere of the feature-film adaptation of this short at BFI’s London Film Festival. The short focuses on Officer Jim Arnaud, who is about to make a speech at his mother’s funeral. Cummings’ depiction of his character’s grief is truly heartbreaking to watch, and yet, he manages to add some heartwarming comedy into his performance that almost made me feel bad for smiling at. I don’t really want to say any more about the short as it’s best to watch it all first hand and witness the grief-stricken officer deliver his eulogy. I’m keeping my fingers crossed the feature-film adaptation secures some form of UK distribution because my jealousy for those who’ve watched it at this year’s LFF is reaching dangerous levels!

Tom Sheffield

 

Apostle (Gareth Evans, 2018)

Netflix UK/ US

If you’re thinking of assessing your squeamish meter this Halloween, then Gareth Evans’ Apostle might just be the challenge to put your stomach to the test, or bestow a psychological break on whichever poor soul you convince to watch it with you. Determined and never without his furrowed brow, Dan Stevens must save his sister from captivity on an isolated island inhabited by a religious cult lead by Michael Sheen’s prophet.

Brutal and dripping with grunge, Apostle contests with the big torture porn players but is laced with myth and fantasy that distances itself from the likes of Hostel while displaying stellar performances from Stevens and Sheen. Evans’ slow burning tension around a contest of beliefs is reminiscent with The Wicker Man and The Witch with one eye-widening finale that takes an early twentieth century folktale through the meat grinder.

Jo Craig

 

Private Life (Tamara Jenkins, 2018)

Netflix UK/ US

This superbly sharp dramedy is guaranteed to tickle your funny bone with its wholesome humour and endearing awkwardness. But beware, there are plenty of gut-punching moments waiting to hit you, whether you like it or not – which I guess you could say is testament to the way the film portrays the authenticities of adult life. Both Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn give career-best performances, and clearly thrive in this more grounded, raw setting. Alongside them, breakout star Kayli Carter shines, offering up much of the great comedic moments in this little indie treat.

Jakob Lewis Barnes

 

Minding the Gap (Bing Liu, 2018)

Hulu

In a year of stellar documentary viewings to pick from, Bing Liu’s Minding the Gap uncovers some of the hardest truths in domestic violence and young teen culture. With a caring eye and ear to listen, Liu chronicles 12 years in the lives of his and two friends’ upbringing in turmultous homes. From the emotional scars of trauma to the side effects of growing out of it, the documentary digs deep and looks for answers.

One obvious haven for these young men is how the escapism of skateboarding all these years has helped them retain a foundation of trust, fun, and safety from the bad. It’s one thing to leave home for the day and forget about the worries, it’s another thing to grow up and examine the person you’re becoming in part due to your childhood. Minding the Gap just picked up a Gotham Awards nom for documentary and it surely deserves it. Go find it!

Jessica Peña


Be sure to give us a shout over on Twitter if we’ve twisted your arm into watching any of the above this weekend. Feel free to share your streaming recommendations with us too!

Reel Women: October UK Releases

Written by Elena Morgan

Welcome back to Reel Women, the monthly feature that highlights the films being released in the UK that are written and/or directed by women. October is London Film Festival month and 38% of the films on show there are directed by women, so if you get the chance to attend the festival, try and see the hidden gems on offer. But if you’re not at the festival, there’s still films being released in cinemas and on Netflix this month that are made by women. This month we’ve got Netflix originals, documentaries, book adaptations and an anti-hero superhero movie.

FotoJet.jpg

3 October

Venom

Directed by Ruben Fleischer
Written by Scott Rosenberg, Jeff Pinker, Kelly Marcel and Will Beall

When reporter Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) acquires the powers of an alien symbiote, he finds he’s not alone in his own mind and body anymore.

Kelly Marcel is a screenwriter, producer and actress. Her previous screenwriting credits include Fifty Shades of Grey and Saving Mr. Banks.

 

 

5 October

A Thousand Girls Like Me

Directed by Sahara Mani
Written by Giles Gardner and Sahra Mani

Documentary about Kjatera, a 23-year-old Afghan woman, tells the story of how she was sexually abused by her father on national TV. She’s seeking punishment for her perpetrator and to shed light onto the faulty Afghan judicial system.

A Thousand Girls Like Me is Sahara Mani’s first film, as well as writing and directing it she also produced it.

 

Jalouse

Written and Directed by David Foenkinos and Stéphane Foenkinos

A divorced teacher suddenly becomes jealous of everyone, including her daughter, friends and neighbours.

Stéphane Foenkinos is an actor, writer, director and casting director. Jalouse is her second feature film, her first film Delicacy was nominated for Best First Film at the 2012 César Awards.

 

Kusama: Infinity

Directed by Heather Lenz
Written by Heather Lenz and Keita Ideno

Documentary about artist Yayoi Kusama who, along with experts, discuss her life and work.

This is Heather Lenz’s first feature-length documentary, as well as writing and directing it, she also edited and produced it. Kusama: Infinity was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival earlier this year.

 

Private Life

Written and Directed by Tamara Jenkins

Author Rachel (Kathryn Hahn) and her husband Richard (Paul Giamatti) are going through multiple fertility treatments and it’s putting pressure on their relationship.

New to Netflix, Private Life is Jenkins’ third feature film. She was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for her previous film The Savages (2007).

 

 

12 October

Smallfoot

Directed by Karey Kirkpatrick and Jason Reisig
Written by Karey Kirkpatrick and Clare Sera

Animated adventure about a yeti is convinced that the elusive creatures know as humans, or smallfoots, really do exist.

Clare Sera is an actress, director and screenwriter. Her previous screenplay was the Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler comedy film Blended.

 

Pili

Written and Directed by Leanne Welham

Pili (Bello Rashid) lives in rural Tanzania, working the fields for less than $1 a day to feed her two children and struggling to manage her HIV-positive status in secret. When she is offered the chance to rent a sought-after market-stall, Pili is forced to make increasingly difficult decisions in order to get the stall.

Pili is Leanne Welham’s first feature film as well as writing and directing it she also produced it. Previously she has directed five short films.

 

 

13 October

Make Me Up

Written and Directed Rachel Maclean

Siri wakes to find herself trapped inside a brutalist candy-coloured dreamhouse. Despite the cutesy decor, the place is far from benign, and she and her inmates are encouraged to compete for survival.

Make Me Up is Rachel Maclean’s second feature film. She edited it, acted it and was the production designer for the film.

 

 

19 October

Science Fair

Directed by Cristina Constantini and Darren Foster
Written by Cristina Costantini, Darren Foster and Jeff Plunkett

Documentary about nine high school students from around the world competing in an international science fair.

Science Fair is Cristina Constantini’s first film.

 

Touch Me Not

Written and Directed by Adina Pintilie

A documentary about filmmaker Pintilie as she and her characters venture into a personal research project about intimacy.

Touch Me Not is Adina Pintilie’s first feature film and has won both the Best First Feature Award and the Golden Berlin Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival earlier this year.

 

 

22 October

The Hate U Give

Directed by George Tilman Jr.
Written by Audrey Wells

Starr (Amanda Stenberg) has two lives, one in her community and one in her private school. Those two lives come crashing down when she witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend by a police officer, and Starr must find her voice and stand up for what’s right.

Audrey Wells is a screenwriter and director. The Hate U Give is her ninth produced screenplay and it is an adaptation of the critically-acclaimed novel by Angie Thomas.

 

 

26 October

Utøya – July 22

Directed by Erik Poppe
Written by Siv Rajendram Eliassen and Anna Bache-Wiig

Teenager Kaja (Andrea Berntzen) struggles to survive as she searches for her younger sister during the July 2011 terrorist mass murder at a political summer camp on the Norwegian island of Utøya.

Anna Bache-Wiig is an actress and writer. Utøya – July 22 is her first feature film; however, she’s written a number of episodes of the TV show Acquitted which she also starred in.

 

Shirkers

Written and Directed by Sandi Tan

A documentary about Sandi Tan and her co-creators who made Shirkers which could’ve been a Singapore-made 1992 cult classic had the 16mm footage not been stolen by their enigmatic American collaborator who disappeared.

Shirkers is Sandi Tan’s first feature-length documentary. As well as writing and directing it, she also edited and produced it.


And that’s it for this month! Thirteen films that are made by women – ooh, thirteen unlucky for some, well it is October! Do let us know what you think of any of these films, or any of the films made by women at the London Film Festival, if you catch them this month.