About Juan Carlos Ojano

I am an undergraduate student of the University of the Philippines-Diliman, currently taking up BA Film in the College of Mass Communication. I am an aspiring (and hardworking) actor, writer, and director. I am currently the secretary of the U.P. Cineastes' Studio, the first and premier student film organization in the Philippines, established in 1984. I love watching films, discussing films, writing about films, critiquing the politics of filmmaking, especially the awards season and the Academy Awards. Personal e-mail address: juancarlosojano@gmail.com Blog e-mail address: mylastoscar@gmail.com

Coming soon on The Final Oscar…

Hello! Are you still there?

I am.

Aside from a few posts about the first Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino and some film reviews, I haven’t been able to post anything post-6th TFO Awards.

In the film world, the awards season for #Oscars2018 is fast approaching. This is one of the most exciting Best Picture, and especially, Best Actress races ever, loaded with a large amount of solid contenders. The 90th Academy Awards will take place on March 4, 2018.

Meanwhile, something’s happening at this blog come March-April next year. I want to keep it a surprise until then.

For now, let’s get back to watching more films (and TV series, if you please).

How about you? How are you?

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Juan Carlos Ojano
Writer, The Final Oscar

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Special TFO Awards: Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino 2017

After watching the twelve entries of the 1st Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino (2017) and selecting the nominees for sixteen categories, here are the winners and rankings for the Special TFO Awards: PPP 2017 Edition!

For recap, here are the entries of the PPP 2017:

  • 100 Tula Para Kay Stella – Dir. Jason Paul Laxamana
  • AWOL – Dir. Enzo Williams
  • Bar Boys – Dir. Kip Oebanda
  • Birdshot – Dir. Mikhail Red
  • Hamog – Dir. Ralston Jover
  • Ang Manananggal saUnit 23B – Dir. Prime Cruz
  • Paglipay – Dir. Zig Madamba Dulay
  • Patay na si Hesus – Dir. Victor Villanueva
  • Pauwi Na – Dir. Paolo Villaluna
  • Salvage – Dir. Sherad Anthony Sanchez
  • Star na si Van Damme Stallone – Dir. Randolph Longjas
  • Triptiko – Dir. Miguel Franco Michelana

Here are the sixteen (16) categories for this TFO Awards:

  • Best Motion Picture
  • Best Achievement in Directing
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
  • Best Performance by an Acting Ensemble
  • Best Screenplay
  • Best Achievement in Casting
  • Best Achievement in Cinematography
  • Best Achievement in Film Editing
  • Best Achievement in Sound
  • Best Achievement in Music
  • Best Achievement in Production Design
  • Best Achievement in Costume Design
  • Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling

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BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

WINNER: Triptiko
2. Salvage
3. Birdshot
4. Ang Manananggal sa Unit 23B
5. Hamog

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BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN COSTUME DESIGN

WINNER: 100 Tula Para Kay Stella
2. Ang Manananggal sa Unit 23B
3. Bar Boys
4. Birdshot
5. Star na si Van Damme Stallone

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BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN PRODUCTION DESIGN

WINNER: Ang Manananggal sa Unit 23B (Nestor Abrogena)
2. Salvage
3. Birdshot
4. 100 Tula Para Kay Stella
5. Paglipay

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BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSIC

WINNER: Paglipay (Gian Gianan)
2. Salvage
3. Star na si Van Damme Stallone
4. Bar Boys
5. Hamog

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BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND DESIGN

WINNER: Salvage
2. Ang Manananggal sa Unit 23B
3. Birdshot
4. Triptiko
5. AWOL

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BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN FILM EDITING

WINNER: Salvage (Lawrence Ang)
2. Patay na si Hesus
3. Pauwi Na
4. Star na si Van Damme Stallone
5. Birdshot

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BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN CINEMATOGRAPHY

WINNER: Salvage (Malay Javier)
2. Ang Manananggal sa Unit 23B
3. Birdshot
4. Star na si Van Damme Stallone
5. Pauwi Na

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BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN CASTING

WINNER: Patay na si Hesus
2. Star na si Van Damme Stallone
3. Pauwi Na
4. Bar Boys
5. Hamog

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BEST SCREENPLAY

WINNER: Patay na si Hesus (Fatrick Tabada, Moira Lang)
2. Pauwi Na
3. Bar Boys
4. Star na si Van Damme Stallone
5. Bar Boys

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BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTING ENSEMBLE

WINNER: Pauwi Na
(Bimbo Bautista, Shamaine Centenera-Buemcamino, Chai Fonacier, Jess Mendoza, Jerald Napoles, Cherry Pie Picache, Bembol Roco, Meryll Soriano)

2. Patay na si Hesus
3. Bar Boys
4. Hamog
5. Birdshot

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BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

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5. Melde Montañez – Patay na si Hesus
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4. Art Acuña – Triptiko

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3. Jerald Napoles – Triptiko

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2. OJ Mariano – Hamog

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WINNER: Jerald Napoles – Pauwi Na

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HONORABLE MENTIONS:
6. Joel Saracho – Salvage
7. jess mendoza – pauwi na
8. Bon Andrew Lentejas – Hamog
9. Isaac Aguirre – Star na si Van Damme Stallone
10. Manuel Aquino – Birdshot

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BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

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5. Anna Luna – Hamog

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4. Chai Fonacier – Pauwi Na

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3. Mailes Kanapi – Patay na si Hesus

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2. Anna Luna – Paglipay

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WINNER: Chai Fonacier – Patay na si Hesus

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HONORABLE MENTIONS:
6. Mailes Kanapi – Bar Boys
7. Odette Khan – Bar Boys
8. shamaine centenera-buencamino – pauwi na
9. Anna Luna – Bar Boys
10. Joan dela Cruz – Paglipay

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BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

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5. Carlo Aquino – Bar Boys

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4. Bembol Roco – Pauwi Na

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3. John Arcilla – Birdshot

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2. Arnold Reyes – Birdshot

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WINNER: Zaijian Jaranilla – Hamog

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HONORABLE MENTIONS:
6. Garry Cabalic – Paglipay
7. Martin del Rosario – Ang Manananggal sa Unit 23B
8. JC Santos – 100 Tula Para Kay Stella
9. Rocco Nacino – Bar Boys
10. Paolo Pingol – Star na si Van Damme Stallone

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BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

.

5. Therese Malvar – Hamog

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4. Meryll Soriano – Pauwi Na

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3. Cherry Pie Picache – Pauwi Na

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2. Jaclyn Jose – Patay na si Hesus

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WINNER: Candy Pangilinan – Star na si Van Damme Stallone

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HONORABLE MENTIONS:
6. Bela Padilla – 100 Tula Para Kay Stella
7. Jessy Mendiola – Salvage
8. Ryza Cenon – Ang Manananggal sa Unit 23B
9. Mary Joy Apostol – Birdshot
10. Kylie Padilla – Triptiko

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BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN DIRECTING

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5. Prime Cruz – Ang Manananggal sa Unit 23B

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4. Randolph Longjas – Star na si Van Damme Stallone

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3. Mikhail Red – Birdshot

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2. Paolo Villaluna – Pauwi Na

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WINNER: Sherad Anthony Sanchez – Salvage

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BEST MOTION PICTURE

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5. Bar Boys

This youth-oriented drama-comedy film is about three friends who enter law school. Torran (Rocco Nacino) endures the hazing of a law school fraternity, Chris (Enzo Pineda) tries his best to please his demanding father, and Erik (Carlo Aquino) studies despite the limited financial status of his family.

My Twitter review: Lacks visual oomph, but solid writing: humor, depth, nuances, stakes. Owns its occasional cheese. Genuine pathos.”

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4. Patay na si Hesus

This comedy-drama is about Iyay (Jaclyn Jose), a single mother who compels his family to travel from Cebu to Dumaguete after her estranged ex-husband dies. Her children are lovely Bert (Bernard Catindig), stern Jude (Chai Fonacier), and discouraged Jay (Melde Montañez).

My Twitter review: Little Miss Sunshine’s soul sister. Grounds riotous idiosyncrasy on intricate family dynamics. Refreshing.”

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3. Star na si Van Damme Stallone

This drama-comedy is about single mother Nadia (Candy Pangilinan) who does her best to raise her child with Down syndrome, the titular character. Van Damme dreams of becoming an actor, so Nadia needs to make ends meet while trying to give Van Damme his dream.

My Twitter review: Nothing feels forced: its charm, emotions, punch. Candy Pangilinan’s best. Life affirming.”

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2. Salvage

This found footage horror-thriller is about a group of Manila-based group of media practitioners led by segment producer Melay (Jessy Mendiola) who brave the Mindanaoan countryside as they try to cover a series of murders credited to folk monsters called aswang.

My Twitter review: WTF?!?!? Taps real horrors, shakes your core, never lets go. Thrillingly subversive in form and themes. Haunting.”

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WINNER: Pauwi Na

This realist drama is about an impoverished family in the metro who decides to go back to their province to start farming by travelling while riding in two pedicabs. The members include driver Pepe (Bembol Roco), laundrywoman Remedios (Cherry Pie Picache), vendor daughter Pina (Chai Fonacier), thief JP (Jerald Napoles), and his blind wife Isabel (Meryll Soriano).

My Twitter review: Disarming, gripping narrative. Amazing ensemble work. Engages, sustains. Beautifully builds to stunning finale.”

.

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RECAP OF WINNERS
Best Motion Picture: Pauwi Na
Best Achievement in Directing: Sherad Anthony Sanchez – Salvage
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role: Candy Pangilinan – Star na si Van Damme Stallone
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: Zaijian Jaranilla – Hamog
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Chai Fonacier – Patay na si Hesus
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role: Jerald Napoles – Pauwi Na
Best Performance by an Acting Ensemble: Pauwi Na (Bautista, Centenera-Buencamino, Fonacier, Mendoza, Napoles, Picache, Roco, Soriano)
Best Screenplay: Patay na si Hesus
Best Achievement in Casting: Patay na si Hesus
Best Achievement in Cinematography: Salvage
Best Achievement in Film Editing: Salvage
Best Achievement in Sound Design: Salvage
Best Achievement in Music: Paglipay
Best Achievement in Production Design: Ang Manananggal sa Unit 23B
Best Achievement in Costume Design: 100 Tula Para Kay Stella
Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling: Triptiko

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Screencap acknowledgements:
100 tula para kay stella – screengrab from trailer. courtesy of viva films.
bar boys – screengrab from trailer. courtesy of SM LIFESTYLE.
birdshot – screengrab from trailer. courtesy of tba and pelikulared.
hamog – screengrab from trailer. courtesy of cinema one originals.
ang manananggal sa unit 23b – screengrab from trailer. courtesy of ideafirst.
paglipay – screengrab from trailer. courtesy of universal harvester.
patay na si hesus – screengrab from trailer. courtesy of t-rex entertainment.
pauwi na – screengrab from trailer. courtesy of universal harvester.
salvage – screengrab from trailer. courtesy of cinema one.
star na si van damme stallone – screengrab from trailer. courtesy of cinefilipino.
triptiko – screengrab from trailer. courtesy of michelana brothers.

MY WEEK IN FILM: Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino (All Films, RANKED)

On the first year of the Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino, an initiative of the Film Development Council of the Philippines, twelve local films were screened in cinemas nationwide, barring other films not part of the festival line-up to be screened.

Luckily, this blogger was able to watch all the entries. With only one outright dud in this line-up, all of the entries have noteworthy strengths that make them acceptable to extremely worthy inclusion in the premiere edition of this hopefully lasting endeavour of the FDCP.

Let’s dive right into it.

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12. AWOL – Dir. Enzo WilliamsThis action thriller is about Lt. Abel Ibarra (Gerald Anderson) and his quest to avenge the death of his comrades after a bombing incident committed by a terrorist group. He takes the law in his own hands, searching for those responsible for the attack, rendering him labelled as AWOL by the military.

With nothing to serve but shallow drama, oversimplified characterization, bombastic execution, and an infuriating stance justifying extra-judicial killings, the audience is left with a serviceable lead performance from Gerald Anderson. He has been through this genre, with 2013’s masterful On the Job, but he was left with nothing but cheesy one-liners, and off-putting heroics which undermines his acting chops.

It’s a film so simple-minded, you wouldn’t miss anything even if you go to the comfort room or you check your phone while you are watching it. It’s that bad and negligible. [D+]

My Twitter review: “Are we still in the 90s? Trashy plot, cheesy action, shallow drama. Anderson deserved better. Objectionable. Pro-EJK ad.”

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11. 100 Tula Para Kay Stella – Dir. Jason Paul Laxamana

This romance drama is about Fidel (JC Santos), a stuttering freshman who falls in love and befriends college rockstar Stella (Bela Padilla). During the course of his entire college life, Fidel writes 100 poems to express his admiration and love for Stella.

As the festival’s runaway audience favourite, the film benefitted from the surge of low-budget romance films in the country, providing moviegoers with instantly quotable lines about love and romance. This film sticks with that and actually offers nothing much to the table in terms of originality.

However, the film is actually not that bad. Its emotional punches are much better than films of the same breed (I’m looking at you, Kita Kita), and it doesn’t feel old to me, even if it is. The build-up is actually suave, leading to the strongly acted Arayat sequence near its ending. It’s a scene of pureness, of clarity, and honesty that seals the deal and culminates the fim’s over-all appeal.

The film would have been more emotionally resonant if it casted actual teenagers in the role, especially with Fidel. I buy Padilla as Stella. Santos as Fidel, not that much. I’m talking about casting, not their acting: Santos is good in the role, and Padilla is much better, adding so much to her occasionally simplified character. I get the appeal. [B-]

My Twitter review: “Miscast. Santos good, Padilla better. Honest, but unexciting. Final 20 mins: those real emotions!”

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10. Hamog – Dir. Ralston Jover

This realist drama is about a group of street children whose one act of petty theft to a taxi driver goes wrong and leads disastrous results. The film specifically follows the aftermath in the lives of Rashid (Zaijian Jaranilla) and Jinky (Therese Malvar), both neglected by their families.

A true mixed bag, the film is filled with many great ingredients, and yet, it’s lost in its self. Stylistically, it doesn’t always glue together: the camera goes into gritty long takes, and then jumps into jarringly steady shots that does nothing but provide an inconsistent camerawork. The film also has an unnecessarily odd structure: a mid-way shift in perspective, a pointless detour into a magical realist subplot, among others.

And yet, there is the strong ensemble work led by Zaiian Jaranilla and Therese Malvar, showing street-smart maturity that is hauntingly convincing and devoid of vanity. The film also has strong sequences, like the one-take look at Rashid’s residence and Jinky’s discovery of a dark secret in her guardian’s house.

A film that confounded me more than any of these entries, it has elements and glimpses of cinematic potency that can bring this up, and yet it also drops the ball on many occasions too. This makes for a really frustrating, but slightly leaning towards good, experience. [B-]

My Twitter review: “Visual style, structure not always cohesive. Scattershot at times. Potency peaks in grit. Cast excels, esp. leads.”

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9 .Triptiko – Dir. Miguel Franco Michelena

This absurdist comedy-thriller anthology follows three young men (Albie Casiño, Joseph Marco, and Kean Cipriano): one who witnesses a murder committed by a policeman, one whose modelling career is ruined by large boils, and one whose girlfriend displaying cat-like behavior.

Anthology films are tricky. It is inherently episodic, and yet, there must be an overarching unity in terms of theme, style, and impact. Once the first episode “Swerte” kicked in, I knew I was into something good. The film blasts with energy and commits to the absurdity of the set-up. It only gets better with body horror in “Hinog”, the second episode. However, the film significantly drops when it turns to the final episode, the downbeat “Musikerong John”. Dragging, drab, and aimless, it sticks out as the misfit of the three episodes.

While the three leads deliver serviceable work, it’s the supporting actors that leaves a mark. Two of them stand out: Jerald Napoles is terrifying as a calculating policeman, and Art Acuña is outrageous as the mysterious faith healer.

It’s a film that reaches greatness in its bizarreness, and then takes a disappointing turn by its finale.

My Twitter review: Achieves dark comedy brilliance in first two episodes, only to unravel in languidly paced, misplaced final episode.”

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8. Ang Manananggal sa Unit 23B – Dir. Prime Cruz

This horror-romance is about Jewel (Ryza Cenon), a mysterious but timid young woman living in an apartment building where a young man named Nico (Martin del Rosario) and his grandmother also lives. The two become friends while Jewel’s secret is slowly revealed.

By deciding to focus on its distinctively cool atmosphere over clarity in plot machinations, the film absorbs with stylistic control, with noteworthy cinematography, production design, music in particular. It maintains a steady verve that does not always peak, but sustains a delicious ride. Ryza Cenon and Martin del Rosario ignite an effortless chemistry that is more than enough to provide the emotional core.

While there are loose ends in the narrative (as I’ve said, the film hinges more on creating a strong mood than focusing on specificities), the film has a magnetic charm in it that makes it really watchable, if not totally remarkable.

It’s an exercise on style and its tinkering around of themes like horror, sexuality, and love. [B]

My Twitter review: “Highlights mood, atmosphere over narrative articulations. Restrained even when stylized.”

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7. Birdshot – Dir. Mikhail Red

This police procedural is about two policemen (Arnold Reyes and John Arcilla) who tracks down the person responsible for shooting the Haribon, an endangered species of bird in the Philippines. Little do they know that the shooter was the fourteen-year-old Maya (Mary Joy Apostol).

The festival’s critical favourite, the film amazes with its singular vision: inspired, clear-eyed, and striking. It has a strong ensemble of four actors. Particularly noteworthy are John Arcilla as the acerbic, experienced policeman and Arnold Reyes as his new companion whose journey is the film’s most engaging anchor.

And yet, the film is slight in establishing emotional connection, perhaps because it stubbornly stays in a slow burn throughout its running time. Perhaps because I was finding it hard to latch on to the storyline of the young female hunter compared to the virtuoso acting displayed on the policemen storyline.

However, the final thirty minutes or so are exquisite. Everything comes together into a heart-stopping finale (with that haunting final shot). I wish I loved it more. [B]

My Twitter review: Stylistically sophisticated, but curiously distant. Rarely reaches boiling point, stays in slow simmer. Strong cast.”

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6. Paglipay – Dir. Zig Madamba Dulay

This romance-drama is about Atan (Garry Cabalic) an Aeta man who, because of native customs, is compelled to marry his friend Ani (Joan dela Cruz). To complete the dowry for the marriage, Atan works in the lowlands, only to meet college student Rain (Anna Luna) doing a research on the Aeta culture.

The film relishes its beauty in the simplicity of life it examines. The intricacies of the Aeta culture explored in the film is refreshing to witness. Acted by non-actors, their evident inexperience actually adds vividness to their portrayal of this culture. The film is strong when it takes time to enjoy the quietness of telling the story in images and untarnished acting.

Meanwhile, the film loses its distinctiveness when the character of Rain enters the story. Though acted with appealing radiance and intelligence by Anna Luna, the film is thrown off-balance when the character start wording out the character’s emotional baggage. The film is much more effective when it leaves things unsaid and undeclared. And the drone shots are distracting. [B]

My Twitter review: Enamoring cultural specificities. Quietness an asset. Less impressive in wording out drama. Calm that drone.”

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And the TOP 5, these films selected as the Best Motion Picture of the Special TFO Awards: PPP 2017 Edition are…..

(in alphabetical order; full reviews at the Special TFO Awards)

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Bar Boys – Dir. Kip Oebanda

 

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Patay na si Hesus – Dir. Victor Villanueva

 

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Pauwi Na – Dir. Paolo Villaluna

 

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Salvage – Dir. Sherad Anthony Sanchez

 

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Star na si Van Damme Stallone – Dir. Randolph Longjas

 

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Watch out for the Special TFO Awards: PPP 2017 Edition to be posted this week where the ranking of the top 5 films will be revealed.

Special TFO Awards: Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino 2017 Edition – NOMINEES

Life event: this is the first local film festival where I’ve watched ALL of the entries. That’s a remarkable achievement for me.

Now, here’s my take on the best of the festival in all sixteen categories: Motion Picture, Directing, Acting Ensemble, Actor in a Leading Role, Actress in a Leading Role, Actor in a Supporting Role, Actress in a Supporting Role, Screenplay, Casting, Cinematography, Film Editing, Sound, Music, Makeup and Hairstyling, Production Design, and Costume Design.

Here are the nominees:

BEST MOTION PICTURE

  • Bar Boys
  • Patay na si Hesus
  • Pauwi Na
  • Salvage
  • Star na si Van Damme Stallone

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN DIRECTING

  • Mikhail Red – Birdshot
  • Prime Cruz – Ang Manananggal sa Unit 23B
  • Paolo Villaluna – Pauwi Na
  • Sherad Anthony Sanchez – Salvage
  • Randolph Longjas – Star na si Van Damme Stallone

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

  • Carlo Aquino – Bar Boys
  • John Arcilla – Birdshot
  • Zaijian Jaranilla – Hamog
  • Arnold Reyes – Birdshot
  • Bembol Roco – Pauwi Na

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

  • Jaclyn Jose – Patay na si Hesus
  • Therese Malvar – Hamog
  • Candy Pangilinan – Star na si Van Damme Stallone
  • Cherry Pie Picache – Pauwi Na
  • Meryll Soriano – Pauwi Na

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

  • Art Acuña – Triptiko
  • OJ Mariano – Hamog
  • Melde Montañez – Patay na si Hesus
  • Jerald Napoles – Pauwi Na
  • Jerald Napoles – Triptiko

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

  • Chai Fonacier – Patay na si Hesus
  • Chai Fonacier – Pauwi Na
  • Mailes Kanapi – Patay na si Hesus
  • Anna Luna – Hamog
  • Anna Luna – Paglipay

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTING ENSEMBLE

  • Bar Boys
  • Birdshot
  • Hamog
  • Patay na si Hesus
  • Pauwi Na

BEST SCREENPLAY

  • Bar Boys
  • Birdshot
  • Patay na si Hesus
  • Pauwi Na
  • Star na si Van Damme Stallone

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN CASTING

  • Bar Boys
  • Hamog
  • Patay na si Hesus
  • Pauwi Na
  • Star na si Van Damme Stallone

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN CINEMATOGRAPHY

  • Birdshot
  • Ang Manananggal sa Unit 23B
  • Pauwi Na
  • Salvage
  • Star na si Van Damme Stallone

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN FILM EDITING

  • Birdshot
  • Patay na si Hesus
  • Pauwi Na
  • Salvage
  • Star na si Van Damme Stallone

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND

  • AWOL
  • Birdshot
  • Ang Manananggal sa Unit 23B
  • Salvage
  • Triptiko

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSIC

  • Bar Boys
  • Hamog
  • Paglipay
  • Salvage
  • Star na si Van Damme Stallone

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING

  • Birdshot
  • Hamog
  • Ang Manananggal sa Unit 23B
  • Salvage
  • Triptiko

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN PRODUCTION DESIGN

  • 100 Tula Para Kay Stella
  • Birdshot
  • Ang Manananggal sa Unit 23B
  • Paglipay
  • Salvage

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN COSTUME DESIGN

  • 100 Tula Para Kay Stella
  • Bar Boys
  • Birdshot
  • Ang Manananggal sa Unit 23B
  • Star na si Van Damme Stallone

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NOMINATIONS COUNT:

Pauwi Na – 12
Birdshot – 11
Patay na si Hesus – 9
Star na si Van Damme Stallone – 9
Salvage – 8
Hamog – 8
Bar Boys – 7
Ang Manananggal sa Unit 23B – 6
Paglipay – 3
Triptiko – 3
100 Tula Para Kay Stella – 2
AWOL – 1

SCHEDULE:
August 25/26 – Review of aAll PPP 2017 Entries – RANKED
August 27 – Special TFO Awards: PPP 2017 Edition – WINNERS

 

MY WEEK IN FILM: Dunkirk / Beautiful Pain / Patay na si Hesus / Kíta Kità (Aug. 5-12, 2017)

To shake things up around here, I’m gonna write bite-sized reviews of the films I’ve seen per week. I hope I can do this on a regular basis.

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1. Dunkirk (2017)

Welcome to Christopher Nolan’s magnum opus. Rid of his usually heavy dialogue that either makes for a complex (and sometimes perplexing) experience, Nolan instead focuses on inducing the unnerving experience of being in war told through different perspectives that deliciously come together in key moments.

Opting to not focus on a specific individual as the ‘one’ protagonist recalls this daring move also employed in Paul Greengrass’ United 93. This makes for a discomforting experience of always being on-the-edge, largely helped by the immersive sound design, exhilarating cinematography, and perhaps one of Hanz Zimmer’s most experimental scores: a musical piece that never stops, always deliciously building the tension in variously effective ways.

It all comes together with the incendiary editing of the intricate structure of the plot that bleeds one moment into the other, resulting to an unbearably tense and gripping experience. Props to its impeccable casting of actors, ranging from acting royalties, art-house favorites, unknown faces, and young celebrities.

This might just be Christopher Nolan’s best film. Talk about experiencing war and witnessing how each cinematic element comes together and overwhelms the audience in the best possible way.

Grade: A
Random Fact: This is my first experience in watching a film in IMAX. Wow.

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2. Beautiful Pain (2016)

This Malaysian submission to the 89th Academy Awards is a poignant look at a couple with different coping mechanisms when they discovered that their son is diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder.

I have to say it immediately: I so wanted to love this film. Films about autism is rare, and the thing that I was looking for in this one is authenticity. For the first half of the film, I am drawn to it. Something happens mid-way (I won’t spoil), and the film suddenly lost its footing in terms of tone. In its entirety, the film run the gamut of emotions from realistic to cheesy to grim to idealistic to sentimental. In a normal film, I’d immediately dismiss the film as ‘tonally incoherent’. But you know what? It kinda works.

Partly because the mess of emotions feels realistic (probably hard to explain this to people without first-hand experience), but the emotional shifts are all grounded on reality. I would’ve hated the presence of the helpful friends, cooperative strangers, and judgmental people – and to a certain extent, the film is guilty of these – but you know what? It feels real, and that’s what matters to me. Kudos to the actors for portraying the delicate relationships within the family with visible honesty.

Grade: B
Random Fact: My grade is very subjective; others might go for B- or C+. My younger has autism and I know how the experience. The film gets it, even if it struggles to find the right tone at times.

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3. Patay na si Hesus (eng. Jesus is Dead) (2016/17)

There is so much more in this film than its controversial title. Centering on a Cebu-based dysfunctional family led by hardworking matriarch Iyay, they embark on a cross-island road trip to visit the wake of Iyay’s former husband named Hesus.

The acting ensemble is top-notch. Jaclyn Jose proves herself to be a great actress if given the right material (see her Cannes-winning turn in Ma’Rosa for another proof; 2016 was indeed her year). Chai Fonacier, Bernard Catindig, Mailes Kanapi, and Melde Montañez make this film an idiosyncratic delight, relishing on the ridiculousness of life, death, and everything in between.

However, one must acknowledge how extremely well-written this film is. The film goes to all sorts of humor that are all seamlessly weaved together, forming a narrative that is filled with gags that serve the story, building jokes to progress the plot. The film also gracefully changes tones while still maintaining an over-all air of irreverence that make for a delightful watch.

Grade: B+
Random Fact: I think this is my first experience watching a predominantly Visayan-language film. More non-Manila centric films, please.

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4. Kíta Kità (eng. I See You) (B-)

Currently sitting as the highest grossing independent film in the Philippines, there is so much hype going around this film. The film tells the story of  Lea and Tonyo, two neighboring OFWs based in Japan who form a friendship while Lea is suffering from temporary blindness.

Sold as a romantic comedy, the film oozes with likability for at least 2/3 of it. Its asset are undoubtedly the chemistry of its leads. De Rossi, known for her art-house success as well as her larger-than-life antagonists in TV, and Marquez, an unlikely fit for the ‘leading man’ type, spark something that is inherently charming. I’m not a fan of the writing, but I do get the charm. Add in the cinematography and music that makes this film relaxing to watch and you have a film that amply gives its focus to its two likable leads…

… until it reaches its final third. It’s an unexpectedly dark and scary and makes us question what the film really is about: was it an innocent exploration of how serendipity works in love? Or is it a glorification of stalking? Was the sweetness intended to mislead us for the reveal to have a stronger impact, or was the filmmakers misled themselves in proposing the sweetness within stalking?

I’m still feeling my way through this dilemma. What’s clear is that the film is more tragic than romantic. That’s why after watching the film, I was not buying the it as a romance but as an unexpectedly somber look at defeated characters. But then again: what’s with all the fuss?

Grade: B-
Random Fact: I’m in love with KZ Tandingan’s rendition of the theme song.

Meryl @ 68 – Happy Birthday, My Love

meryl.jpgPhoto from Variety.

I started becoming so passionate about film around 2008. I was thirteen years old.

I watched all the Best Picture nominees at the Oscars. I tried to watch as many Oscar nominees as possible.

That year, one film really stuck with me like no other, and I think it’s still my most watched film from that year. It was Doubt.

The entire cast was excellent – from Amy Adams’ delicately balancing nun, to Philip Seymour Hoffman’s emotionally charged priest, to Viola Davis’ rapturous one-scene wonder.

But of course, my eyes were on that nun, Sister Aloysius Beauvier.

Meryl Streep played her. Or to say it better, Meryl was Sister Aloysius.

I was just so attached on her quiet ferocity, that determination that simmers as she fights for what she believes is the right thing to do. And on repeated viewings, Meryl just stuck with me as, for lack of the better word, the definition of ‘great’.

When I say a performance is ‘great’, I always go back to Meryl and see if “has this person met her standards?”.

I know it’s not fair to do that to other actors, but that’s how she struck me. And then 2009 came – Julie and Julia and It’s Complicated. I loved her in both.

By that time, I was just fascinated by how she always does her best in acting but not seeming as if she was trying to hard.

She came at a crucial moment in my life – as my love for film was about to become serious (which eventually led me to taking Bachelor of Arts in Film as my course), she was there, reminding me of what excellence is and how a person can convey so much, can portray life within the limited time of a film.

Meryl Streep, in other words, was a godsend for me.

And I couldn’t be more thankful for her existence.

She’s a trailblazer – she showed through her work how her willingness to bare herself in camera can help us understand more about other people.

I know I’m not the only one who feels this. Meryl has influenced generations of actors, filmmakers, and artists not just in acting and in film, but also in life.

I haven’t met her yet. I don’t know if I ever will.

I really wish I could meet her one day and give her a big hug for everything she has done.

I know she’s just trying to do her best in her craft, but in doing so, she has touched so many lives.

And I’m no exception.

To (probably) my first true love in film.

I love you, Meryl.

And I thank you for what you have done to us.

Here’s looking forward to your future work (and Oscar nominations) while I also go back to your earlier works.

Here’s an altar of her twenty Oscar nominated roles, an all-time record (and I seriously doubt someone will break that anytime soon).

meryl @ 20.png

Just for the fun of ranking stuff, here’s how I’d rank her Oscar-nominated works (performances, not the films; all good-to-all-time-great; purely subjective):

  1. Sophie’s Choice (1982) as Sophie Zawistowski
  2. The Iron Lady (2011) as Margaret Thatcher
  3. Doubt (2008) as Sister Aloysius Beauvier
  4. Ironweed (1987) as Helen Archer
  5. A Cry in the Dark (1988) as Lindy Chamberlain
  6. Silkwood (1983) as Karen Silkwood
  7. Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) as Joanna Kramer
  8. The Devil Wears Prada (2006) as Miranda Priestly
  9. Postcards from the Edge (1990) as Suzanne Vale
  10. August: Osage County (2013) as Violet Weston
  11. Julie and Julia (2009) as Julia Child
  12. Florence Foster Jenkins (2016) as Florence Foster Jenkins
  13. One True Thing (1998) as Kate Gulden
  14. Adaptation. (2002) as Susan Orlean
  15. Music of the Heart (1999) as Roberta Guaspari
  16. The Deer Hunter (1978) as Linda
  17. Out of Africa (1985) as Karen Blixen
  18. The Bridges of Madison County (1995) as Francesca Johnson
  19. The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1981) as Sarah/Anna
  20. Into the Woods (2014) as The Witch

Plus, her non-Oscar nominated performances:

  1. The Hours (2002) as Clarissa Vaughan
  2. Ricki and the Flash (2015) as Linda Brummel/Ricki Rendazzo
  3. Hope Springs (2012) as Kay Soames
  4. The River Wild (1994) as Gail Hartman
  5. Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) as Mrs. Fox
  6. It’s Complicated (2009) as Jane Adler
  7. Suffragette (2015) as Emmeline Pankhurst
  8. The Homesman (2014) as Altha Carter
  9. Mamma Mia! (2008) as Donna Sheridan

There you go. Looking forward to more years to come for you.

Always wishing you the success you deserve and the health that you need to do great work, on and off-screen.

Happy birthday, My Love.

Love you, Meryl.

Best Picture Nominees (2009-2016), RANKED

Since the Academy Awards reinstated the expanded Best Picture field in the 82nd Academy Awards (2009 in film), a system implemented during from 1930s to mid-1940s, the Academy has nominated 72 films for the awards’ highest honor.

Now in its eighth year, this new system has produced some of the most out-there choices, films that would not have gone anywhere near the Best Picture race had it stayed the traditional five nominees, as well as some stinkers that benefitted from the increased number of slots in the category.

Here is my ranking of the 72 Best Picture nominees from 2009 to 2016:

Gravity (2013) and Spotlight (2015) – the best nominee and the best winner of this category since the expanded category began in 2009.

BEST OF THE BEST
1. Gravity (2013)
2. Spotlight (2015) – WINNER
3. La La Land (2016)
4. Arrival (2016)
5. Birdman Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014) – WINNER
6. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
7. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011)
8. Amour (2012)
9. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
10. The Tree of Life (2011)
11. Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)
12. Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
13. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
14. Inception (2010)
15. Black Swan (2010)
16. Whiplash (2014)
17. The Artist (2011) – WINNER
18. The Hurt Locker (2009) – WINNER
19. Up (2009)
20. Hell or High Water (2016)
21. 12 Years a Slave (2013) – WINNER
22. Les Miserables (2012)
23. Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
24. The Revenant (2015)
25. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
26. Selma (2014)
27. Up in the Air (2009)

Relatively young production/distribution company A24 scored back-to-back nominations with Room (2015) and Moonlight (2016), with the latter becoming a landmark Best Picture winner.

GREAT CHOICES
28. The King’s Speech (2010) – WINNER
29. Room (2015)
30. Moonlight (2016) – WINNER
31. The Martian (2015)
32. The Fighter (2010)
33. Her (2013)
34. The Social Network (2010)
35. Toy Story 3 (2010)
36. Brooklyn (2015)
37. Hugo (2011)
38. Midnight in Paris (2011)
39. Nebraska (2013)
40. District 9 (2009)
41. Captain Phillips (2013)
42. Lincoln (2012)
43. Lion (2015)
44. An Education (2009)
45. True Grit (2010)

EARNED THOSE BEST PICTURE NOMINATIONS
46. Life of Pi (2012)
47. Boyhood (2014)
48. Hidden Figures (2016)
49. Manchester by the Sea (2016)
50. A Serious Man (2009)
51. Winter’s Bone (2010)
52. Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009)
53. Fences (2016)
54. Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
55. Philomena (2013)
56. The Imitation Game (2014)
57. Moneyball (2011)
58. The Kids are All Right (2010)
59. The Help (2011)
60. 127 Hours (2010)
61. Hacksaw Ridge (2016)
62. American Hustle (2013)

STRIKING MERITS DESPITE MY INDIFFERENCE (ON VARYING LEVELS)
63. Argo (2012) – WINNER
64. The Big Short (2015)
65. American Sniper (2014)
66. Django Unchained (2012)
67. Avatar (2009)
68. War Horse (2011)

I WON’T CHOOSE THEM, BUT I UNDERSTAND THE MENTION
69. The Theory of Everything (2014)
70. The Descendants (2011)

THOSE BAD APPLES FROM THE BUNCH – WHY?
71. Bridge of Spies (2015)
72. The Blind Side (2009)