“Mad Max: Fury Road” tops Austin Film Critics Association year-end list

imagesThe Austin Film Critics Association (AFCA) announced its 2015 awards Tuesday, with George Miller’s “Mad Max: Fury Road” winning Best Film and Best Director and leading the group’s Top Ten list.

“Room” received three awards, the most for a single film. “Ex Machina” and “Inside Out” also won multiple awards this year.

Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay star in "Room." (Ruth Hurl/Element Pictures)
Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay star in “Room.” (Ruth Hurl/Element Pictures)

“Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter,” directed by David Zellner, received the Austin Film Award. This award is given to a film made by a director whose primary residence was Austin during the time of filming.

Michael Fassbender won Best Actor for “Steve Jobs,” while Brie Larson received Best Actress for “Room.”

Larson’s costar, Jacob Tremblay, was named the Robert R. “Bobby” McCurdy Memorial Breakthrough Artist of 2015. Emma Donoghue, adapting her 2010 novel, won Best Adapted Screenplay. “Room” also was #5 on the AFCA Top Ten list.

Sylvester Stallone won Best Supporting Actor for “Creed;” the film was #8 on the AFCA Top Ten list.

Alicia Vikander received Best Supporting Actress for “Ex Machina.” Directed by Alex Garland, “Ex Machina” also picked up Best First Film.

Directed by Pete Docter, “Inside Out” received Best Animated Film in addition to Best Original Screenplay for Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve and Josh Cooley. “Inside Out” also tied for #6 on the AFCA Top Ten list.

László Nemes’ haunting “Son of Saul” won Best Foreign-Language Film and director Joshua Oppenheimer’s “The Look of Silence” won Best Documentary.

Edward Lachman won Best Cinematography for “Carol,” a film shot on 16mm and blown up to 35mm.

shoppingEnnio Morricone won Best Score for “The Hateful Eight.”

The group also recognized Austin-based writer/animator Don Hertzfeldt with a special award celebrating his extraordinary short filmmaking and contributions to animation spanning two decades, with 2015’s award-winning “World of Tomorrow” being recognized as his best work to date. I would be shocked if he wasn’t nominated for, then did not win, this year’s Oscar for Best Animated Short.





The full list of winners, plus the AFCA Top Ten Films of 2015 list:

Best Film: “Mad Max: Fury Road” (dir: George Miller)

Best Director: George Miller, “Mad Max: Fury Road”

Best Actor: Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs

Best Actress: Brie Larson, “Room”

Best Supporting Actor: Sylvester Stallone, “Creed”

Best Supporting Actress: Alicia Vikander, “Ex Machina”

Best Original Screenplay: Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley, “Inside Out”

Best Adapted Screenplay: Emma Donoghue, “Room”

Best Cinematography: Edward Lachman, “Carol”

Best Score: Ennio Morricone, “The Hateful Eight”

Best Foreign-Language Film: “Son of Saul” (dir: László Nemes)

Best Documentary: “The Look of Silence” (dir: Joshua Oppenheimer)

Best Animated Film: “Inside Out” (dir: Pete Docter)

Best First Film: “Ex Machina” (dir: Alex Garland)

The Robert R. “Bobby” McCurdy Memorial Breakthrough Artist Award: Jacob Tremblay, “Room”

Austin Film Award: “Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter” (dir: David Zellner)

Special Honorary Award: Austin-based writer/animator Don Hertzfeldt

AFCA 2015 Top Ten Films:

  1. “Mad Max: Fury Road”
  2. “Spotlight”
  3. “Carol”
  4. “Anomalisa”
  5. “Room”
  6. TIE: “Ex Machina” and “Inside Out”
  7. “Creed”
  8. “The Big Short”
  9. “Sicario”

Here is your Xmas gift from Richard Linklater: The first trailer for “Everybody Wants Some.”


Starring Zoey Deutch, Glen Powell, Tyler Hoechlin, this “spiritual companion” to “Dazed and Confused” makes its world premiere in Austin during South By Southwest film. Here is one poster for the movie:


Here is another:


Lord, I am looking forward to this thing.



Local Star Wars fanatic wins Drafthouse Star Wars contest

Five fans enter, one fan leaves.

Austin Star share_1200x627Wars fan Jim Braden (he of this dazzling toy collection) has won the Alamo Drafthouse’s “Star Wars: The Marathon Awakens” contest after 46 hours of watching the first six star wars movie, the holiday special (yes, the holiday special) and “The Force Awakens” nine (yes, nine) times.

Five people competed, starting this madness 4:30 a.m. Dec. 17.  No sleep, no talking and no texting. Braden beat them all. He now has a Drafthouse pass good for seven years, a complete set of 2015 and 2016 Topps Star Wars cards, some rare Star Wars  Mondo prints and a theater seat named in his honor, possibly one now perfectly shaped to his rear end. 

‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Strikes Austin

The 501st Legion, a group of Star Wars enthusiasts, greets moviegoers before the 7 p.m. premiere.

Ten minutes to showtime, a marching band followed by legions of storm troopers and Jedi knights paraded in front of the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar into the crowded theater to celebrate the opening of ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ in Austin. 

The long-awaited film premiered tonight at theaters across the country. Directed by J.J. Abrams, it is the seventh installment in the epic series, set 30 years after 1983’s ‘Return of the Jedi.’ It stars Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver and Lupita Nyong’o.

Star Wars prequels have had mixed reviews by enthusiasts over the years, and many at the showing tonight expressed excitement at a sequel at last.

“I’m curious to see if Luke comes back,” Kirin Vieira says. “Where has Luke been all this time?”

Vieira and her son Enzo have been binge-watching the previous six films in anticipation of tonight’s premiere. They don Darth Vader and Boba Fett costumes. And they are in good company.

Storm troopers, bike scouts, Sith Lords and Darth Vaders from the 501st Legion were at the theater beginning at 4:30 p.m. to greet moviegoers. The 501st legion is a group of costume enthusiasts who do volunteer work in the community.  

Mike Nottebart and @misunderstoodnight showed up promptly with light sabers for tonight’s Star Wars premiere.

But the 501st weren’t the first ones at Alamo today. The Drafthouse began screening a Star Wars marathon at 4:50 a.m., showing all 6 movies in preparation for the 7 p.m. premiere.

Crystal Campbell caught a quick smoke break outside, wearing her pajamas. She wanted to be comfortable for the 17-hour marathon. 

“I want to see what happens with Luke,” she says. “If he goes full dark side or good side.”

Christopher Schmitt comes dressed as Chewbacca with girlfriend Ari Stiles – against the grain in ‘Star Trek’ gear.

The film has already been reviewed by the American-Statesman, but we’ll leave you with no spoilers here. Most showings at the Drafthouse are sold out this weekend – unless you want to go really early or really late.

If you don’t have tickets and just want to take in the vibe, head down to South Lamar. There are screenings all night and a Cantina Cover Band Jamboree at The Highball until 1:30 a.m.

May the force be with you.

Great cast can’t save ‘Sisters’ (Our grade: C)


Katie Walsh – Tribune News Service

A lot of talented and likable people came together to make “Sisters.” Stars Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are much beloved for their iconic TV characters, longtime “Saturday Night Live” writer Paula Pell contributes the screenplay, and “Pitch Perfect” director Jason Moore takes on helming duties.

It’s a shame then, that with all these fine creators, this scattershot comedy just doesn’t gel in the way that it should.

» Read full review at MyStatesman.com » Find showtimes for “Sisters”

The beauty of ‘Youth’ lies in old age (Our grade: A-)


Italian director Paolo Sorrentino is making some of the most imaginative, gorgeous movies ever to grace the big screen, and he has done it again with “Youth.”

After winning the foreign language Oscar for 2013’s “The Great Beauty,” he’s back this year with a tale of two elderly friends who are spending the summer at a luxurious Swiss resort — the Art Nouveau showplace Berghotel Schatzalp.

» Read full review at MyStatesman.com » Find showtimes for “Youth”

‘Danish Girl’ is pretty picture about transgender pioneer (Our grade: C+)

Eddie Redmayne in "The Danish Girl." (Agatha A. Nitecka/Focus Features/TNS)
Eddie Redmayne in “The Danish Girl.” (Agatha A. Nitecka/Focus Features/TNS)

Ana Hornaday – Washington Post

With his lush settings, gentle tones and exquisite sense of visual design, director Tom Hooper has developed something of a house style. Having directed “The King’s Speech” and “Les Misérables,” the filmmaker has emerged as someone who’s less instinctively cinematic than pictorial, not communicating by way of moving images, but by creating backdrops — usually involving an artfully distressed wall — for high-toned, affecting performances.

All of Hooper’s strengths and weaknesses are on display in “The Danish Girl,” a tasteful, tender but oddly inert portrait of the early transgender pioneer Lili Elbe, who when the movie opens in 1920s Copenhagen, is a modestly well-known painter named Einar Wegener (Eddie Redmayne).

» Read full review at MyStatesman.com » Find showtimes for “The Danish Girl”

Carol Burnett will be inducted into the Texas Film Hall of Fame March 10

Carol Burnett
Carol Burnett

Carol Burnett will be the first honoree of the Texas Film Hall of Fame class of 2016, the Austin Film Society announced Tuesday.

The San Antonio born actress has won Emmys, Golden Globes, Peabody Awards, is a 2005 Kennedy Center Honoree and the 2013 recipient of the Mark Twain Prize. Burnett will be inducted at the Texas Film Awards at Austin Studios March 10.

Members of the Texas Film Hall of Fame include Tommy Lee Jones, Cyd Charisse, Terrence Malick, Sissy Spacek, Easy Rider and Quentin Tarantino.

The March 10 gala event benefits the Austin Film Society’s artistic and educational programs, which have given over $1.5 million in cash grants to emerging filmmakers throughout the state of Texas.

Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight” will screen in 70 mm in Austin Christmas Day

imagesQuentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight” will screen in 70 mm on Christmas Day in 100 venues inside of 44 markets, including Austin, it was announced Monday.

Variety reported Monday that Tarantino and cast members will be touring the country making surprise appearances in select cities at 70mm roadshow showings and that “this marks the widest 70mm release in 20 years.”

Purchase tickets at tickets.thehatefuleight.com.  When one plugs “Austin” into the city search area, up pops a link for Alamo Drafthouse Ritz and one for Cinemark Tinseltown 20.

Readers: Show us your ‘Star Wars’ photos!

Is your desk so crowded with Stormtrooper action figures that it looks like the Death Star? Have you dressed like Han Solo every Halloween for ten years straight? Does your dog bear an uncanny resemblance to Yoda? Then show us, and we’ll show the rest of the world!

The Statesman, in celebration of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” opening this week, wants photos that show the utmost of fandom from our readers. Costumes, souvenir collections, themed Christmas light displays? Bring ’em on. Send your pictures to readerphotos@statesman.com, and we will collect the best ones in a photo gallery.

John and Niki Powers dress as Star Wars characters Princess Leia and Bobafet on the first day of Wizard World Austin Comic Con at the Austin Convention Center on Friday, Nov. 22, 2013. (ERIKA RICH / AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN)
Josh and Niki Powers dress as Star Wars characters Princess Leia and Boba Fett on the first day of Wizard World Austin Comic Con at the Austin Convention Center on Friday, Nov. 22, 2013. (ERIKA RICH / AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

May the Force of excellent lighting be with you.