My 2016 Oscar Nominations Prediction


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oscarIt’s getting to be that time for the Oscars to reveal their nominees for 2016. Every year, I predict who will make that list in the top categories, and this year I’ll also do Animation and Foreign Language films as well.
Generally I don’t do too badly. On average, I get one wrong per category. I don’t know how well I’ll do this year. Most of the nominees are certain, but there are quite a few wildcards this year.
Be sure and let me know what you think.

Continue reading

THE HOWIES or THE BEST IN FILM 2016


top-50-screenwriting-blogsFor questions: hcasner@aol.com
First, a word from our sponsors: I am now offering a new service: so much emphasis has been given lately to the importance of the opening of your screenplay, I now offer coverage for the first twenty pages at the cost of $20.00.  For those who don’t want to have full coverage on their screenplay at this time, but want to know how well their script is working with the opening pages, this is perfect for you.  I’ll help you not lose the reader on page one. 
 
Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay?  Check out my new e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year, and my film reviews of 2013.  Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r
 
and check out my Script Consultation Services: http://ow.ly/HPxKE
The movie seasons seems to now have settled into three periods of time. The first third is made up of the leftovers from the award season as the Oscars fast approach.
The second third is generally made up of tentpole/big studio type films with more and more counterprogramming for those more interested in independent and foreign films, and even more so as the distributors realize that there are still a lot of older filmgoers out there yet going to the theater (as well as growing niche markets for the diversity crowd).
This reverses in the final third, the months leading up to awards season, in which the distributors pull out their prestige pictures and Oscar bait films. This time the counterprogramming is for the more youthful market who tend to go to tentpole/big studio type films.
I don’t know how long this will last or what further changes will come about due to the rise of television and live streaming, but que sera sera.
And so to the point, my best of the year. Continue reading

IF ONLY: Silence


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First, a word from our sponsors: I am now offering a new service: so much emphasis has been given lately to the importance of the opening of your screenplay, I now offer coverage for the first twenty pages at the cost of $20.00.  For those who don’t want to have full coverage on their screenplay at this time, but want to know how well their script is working with the opening pages, this is perfect for you.  I’ll help you not lose the reader on page one. 
 
Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay?  Check out my new e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year, and my film reviews of 2013.  Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r
 
and check out my Script Consultation Services: http://ow.ly/HPxKE
 
Warning: SPOILERS
rev-1Silence, the new film written by Jay Cocks and Martin Scorsese, who also directed, is adapted from a 1966 Japanese novel by Shusako Endo. The basic premise revolves around two Portuguese priests, Fathers Rodrigues and Garrpe, who go to Japan to find out whether an earlier missionary, Father Ferreira, had buckled under the persecution of the government there, a government that had outlawed Christianity, and renounced his faith.
When the two fathers reach Japan, they see a cruel world in which the slightest hint of Christianity leads to savage torture. They do what they can for the underground faith while searching for Ferreira, but are eventually caught and tortured themselves.
I have to be honest. I don’t really know how I’m supposed to react to what I see on the screen. Scorsese is definitely sincere in trying to explore the meaning of faith. But for me, I think this is quite possibly the worst film made in some time by a great filmmaker. Continue reading

WE ARE FAMILY: Toni Erdmann, Fences, 20th Century Women, Julieta


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First, a word from our sponsors: I wanted to say thank you to everyone who contributed to our Indiegogo campaign for 15 Conversations in 10 Minutes. We did very well due to you folks. For those who weren’t able to give, keep us in your thoughts. And if you are able to contribute in the future, contact me and I’ll tell you how. I will even honor the perks on the original campaign.
I am now offering a new consultation service: so much emphasis has been given lately to the importance of the opening of your screenplay, I now offer coverage for the first twenty pages at the cost of $20.00.  For those who don’t want to have full coverage on their screenplay at this time, but want to know how well their script is working with the opening pages, this is perfect for you.  I’ll help you not lose the reader on page one. 
 
Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay?  FosCheck out my new e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year, and my film reviews of 2013.  Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r
 
and check out my Script Consultation Services: http://ow.ly/HPxKE
Warning: SPOILERS
rev-2Several movies have opened of late that revolve around parent/child relationships, especially a single-parent household. I don’t know if this is part of a zeitgeist or whether award season tends to topics that comic book movies normally don’t cover. But whatever the reason, it is what it is.
In Toni Erdmann, the German entry in the foreign language category at the Oscars, and the one expected to win, is about a retired father who decides to look up his consultant daughter who lives in another city. She’s in the middle of a major deal and really doesn’t have time for him (and the suggestion is that he’s never really had time for her), but instead of taking the hint and leaving, he sticks around, dons a wig and false teeth and pretends to be a life coach called Toni Erdmann, insinuating himself into his daughter’s life.
The odd turn here is that the daughter seems to decide to call his bluff and pretend that he is the person he is claiming to be.
The movie is overflowing with charm and has a certain quirky atmosphere to it. I can understand why it’s a crowd pleaser in many ways. And I can’t say I left disappointed. Continue reading

FINDING ONE’S VOICE: Sing and Slash


For questions: hcasner@aol.com
First, a word from our sponsors: I am now offering a new service: so much emphasis has been given lately to the importance of the opening of your screenplay, I now offer coverage for the first twenty pages at the cost of $20.00.  For those who don’t want to have full coverage on their screenplay at this time, but want to know how well their script is working with the opening pages, this is perfect for you.  I’ll help you not lose the reader on page one. 
 
Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay?  Check out my new e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year, and my film reviews of 2013.  Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r
 
and check out my Script Consultation Services: http://ow.ly/HPxKE
 
Warning: SPOILERS
rev-1Sing is an animated comedy about a koala bear producer about to lose his theater to the bank. To save his theater he comes up with what he seems to think is the most brilliant and original concept ever in the history of furrykind, though original and brilliant are very loosely defined here. He will hold a singing competition (now, I know that stories like this do take place in alternative universes, but it may still be a bit hard to believe no one has come up with American Idol, The Voice, or even Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour yet).
But actually, it’s not that bad an idea on the koala’s part. And in the end, there is nothing that wrong with the film. It’s perfectly pleasant and fun at times.
At the same time, it never really grabs hold of you either. Continue reading

ROGUE ONE, PASSENGERS ZERO: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Passengers


For questions: hcasner@aol.com
First, a word from our sponsors: I am now offering a new service: so much emphasis has been given lately to the importance of the opening of your screenplay, I now offer coverage for the first twenty pages at the cost of $20.00.  For those who don’t want to have full coverage on their screenplay at this time, but want to know how well their script is working with the opening pages, this is perfect for you.  I’ll help you not lose the reader on page one. 
 
Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay?  Check out my new e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year, and my film reviews of 2013.  Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r
 
and check out my Script Consultation Services: http://ow.ly/HPxKE
 
Warning: SPOILERS
rev-1In film, Sci-Fi has often been divided into two categories: adult science fiction, stories that capture the mind and are more philosophical and questioning in nature; and pop culture Sci-Fi, stories that are more escapist and less challenging where the grey cells are concerned.
Perhaps no better year can define this dichotomy than 1977 when the original Star Wars was released the same year as Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Critics often claim, or have a prejudice, that adult sci-fi is inherently superior or preferably to pop culture sci-fi. And I do have to admit, if truth be forceably told, I tend to prefer the former to the latter. But there is never a guarantee that one is going to be better than the other. In fact, in the end, the one that is better is simply the one that is better, and the reason why it is better is because, when all is said and done, it’s the, well… better one. Continue reading

OH MY GOD, THEY’RE CO-DEPENDENT: What’s More Important, Structure or Character, in Writing a Screenplay


For questions: hcasner@aol.com
First, a word from our sponsors: I am now offering a new service: so much emphasis has been given lately to the importance of the opening of your screenplay, I now offer coverage for the first twenty pages at the cost of $20.00.  For those who don’t want to have full coverage on their screenplay at this time, but want to know how well their script is working with the opening pages, this is perfect for you.  I’ll help you not lose the reader on page one. 
 
Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay?  Check out my new e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year, and my film reviews of 2013.  Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r
 
and check out my Script Consultation Services: http://ow.ly/HPxKE
blog1Over the last year or so, it has come to my attention that there is a central irony in how I cover and analyze screenplays.
When someone asks me what the most important aspect of a screenplay is, what I look for in recommending them for a second read in a contest or for further consideration for a production company, I always say: character, character, character.
For me, it rarely makes any difference as to how original a concept is, how clever or well plotted a story is, or how unique or intriguing the structure. If these other areas are not supported by rich and vibrant characters (or at the very least, a 7/8 on a scale of 10), it rarely matters what sort of folderol an author gets them caught up in. Continue reading