Tag Archives: International Oscar Showdown

New Oscar Showdowns

Hello everyone. I hope you’re OK…

I was going to write something about the state of the coronavirus lockdowns and the perpetual mismanagement of our response to the virus in the UK, but do you know what? I just hope you’re OK.

As further restrictions begin to spread, region by region (at least in Britain), you might find you’ve some more time to spend reading CONTENT, and boy, do I have some content for you. The International Oscar Showdown continues to garner a great response, so I’ll keep writing them for you movie fans out there.

Two new articles in the series have been published this month. 2010 saw Iraq-occupation drama The Hurt Locker up against Argentinian crime thriller The Secret In Their Eyes – and one of the closest match-ups I’ve written so far.

More recently, I posted 2009’s showdown between British movie Slumdog Millionaire and Japanese comedy-drama Departures. Both concerned with fatalism, they otherwise had very little in common, but so far one of the stand-out years with two really good films.

I mentioned before being asked to do a podcast to talk about Life Is Beautiful – my God, that is such a lovely, gut-wrenching film. Well, we did the recording last week, and I’m told by the producer of The One-Inch Barrier that it will be up in the next week or so. Prepare yourselves for my dulcet tones!

Thanks for reading this stuff, by the way. Seeing my reading figures go up always makes me happy. I hope you’ve also found your way into some films you’d not come across before. That’s definitely been a boon for me!

Anyway, stay safe, stop shaking hands, no kissing at the back, and enjoy the films…


Publishing and podcasts

Morning all, and happy Monday!

There’s a new International Oscar Showdown up, pitting The King’s Speech against Danish film In A Better World, which is basically comparing historical accuracy with fictional melodrama. Check it out here.

I’ve also set up a dedicated website for the International Oscar Showdown reviews, with brief intros to each year’s match-up and links to them so you can read on Medium for free. That way, if you enjoyed one, you can go back to the landing page and pick another easily.

Here’s the dedicated website: https://internationaloscarshowdown.wordpress.com

Excitingly, the review series caught the attention of one podcast producer who does deep-dives into the foreign-language Oscar category, and has asked me onto the show to talk about the 1998 winner Life is Beautiful, which we’re recording next month. Keep an eye out for that!

In the meantime, stay safe, be well, and have a gin & tonic.


Another Oscar Showdown

Hello everyone. Just a quick post to tell you about the latest International Oscar Showdown. The latest instalment reviews the winners from 2012 – comparing The Artist with Iranian film A Separation.

It’s been a real eye-opener writing this series, not least learning about Iran’s stringent film censorship, and how filmmakers from the country rely on metaphor, obfuscation and hyper-reality to get their viewpoints past the censors.

What’s more, filmmakers in Iran frequently face incarceration for breaching these rules of religious propriety. One award-winning director, Mohammad Rasoulof, has been sentenced to a year in prison for “spreading propaganda” against the Islamic State in his recent film There Is No Evil. Rasoulof has been banned from leaving the country or joining any groups or societies for two years.

So it is remarkable that a film like A Separation by fellow Iranian director Asghar Farhadi manages to shine a light on the nation’s frustratingly bureaucratic systems of justice or the needlessly restrictive notions of religious female sanctity.

Anyway, it’s a good movie, and you should watch it.

In a slight change of the format, I’ve gone back and added trailers at the end of all the review articles, so you can get an instant idea of the aesthetic and tone of the films, if you haven’t yet seen them.

Click here to read the latest Showdown!

Carpentry and criticism

Good day to you all! I hope you are well, and enduring the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune with good humour. Strange times, strange times indeed…

I’ve been filling my time – between work and my family – with some carpentry projects, recently. I built a dining table over the last couple of weeks (see the picture above), with an iroko worktop to match our kitchen, and will be making two benches with the same materials in the coming weeks. It’s been fun!

We have used it once for dinner, and we didn’t even end up on the floor. Success!


I also made this tiered herb planter for the garden, which remains standing, though we have had less luck actually growing plants in it. Still, it looks nice.

Meanwhile, Swarns and I continue our odyssey through the Oscars, and recently deliberated between 2013’s Best Picture winner – Argo – and its Best Foreign-Language Film counterpart – Amour.

It was fun to figure out what doesn’t sit right with Argo, and wonder how it got the top gong, and I kept coming back to Mission: Impossible for its amazing Langley vault scene, and – less well known – the Denzel Washington movie Out Of Time. There’s an amazing sequence in that movie where Denzel – the chief of police – has unwittingly committed a crime, and must obfuscate the evidence as it emerges in the police station, frantically intercepting faxes, modifying phone records and getting identified by a doddery old lady who has trouble telling black men apart.

It’s top-quality suspense, and it involves a fax machine. Brilliant.

There’s just not the same wit in Affleck’s movie.

Anyway, here’s my review of Argo and Amourhave a read!



International Oscar Showdown – 2015

Good morning lovelies. I know you’ve all been clamouring for more retrospective Oscars reviews, so here you are, you lucky devils!

The 2015 winners make for an interesting duel. On the one hand there’s Birdman, Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – [yes, that it is its full title] – a movie about a Hollywood actor trying to make something artistic and meaningful, and failing.

Up against it is arthouse movie Ida, a serious, dour, black & white film about an orphaned nun confronting her Jewish roots in 1960s Poland.

I mean, come on! It’s a little on the nose, isn’t it?

Anyway, you can read the review here.

Do comment if you enjoy the review, or even disagree with my analysis! I would love to hear from you.

All the best, you maniacs x