Film guru gives us an inside scoop on the Oscars

2014-02-21 05:30
Cape Town - In the midst of the awards season, the BBC’s flagship global film programme Talking Movies marked it's 15 year anniversary in February 2014.  From big Hollywood blockbusters to cutting edge art-house films and experimental movies, the show has tracked developments and emerging trends in storytelling, technology and business over the course of its 15 years.

Launched in February 1999 and anchored by New York based Tom Brook, the long running series broadcasts globally on BBC World News (DStv channel 400) as well as featuring additional video and features on

Over the years Tom has interviewed an array of talent, writers and directors including: Robert Redford, Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep, top Indian stars Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan, Dame Judi Dench, Daniel Craig and Tom Cruise.  

We chatted to Tom Brook about his amazing journey at Talking Movies and picked his brain on the Oscars and the future of movies.

It’s the 15th anniversary of the series Talking Movies, what are some of your highlights?

When I think of highlights I think back over my whole career of movie reporting – not just my time doing Talking Movies. I’ll never forget interviewing screen legends James Cagney and Bette Davis – those were both very special. I also treasure the opportunities I’ve had to travel and explore cinema in other countries. We’ve just come back from India where we put together a programme on developments in the movies there and that was very rewarding.

What is your all-time favourite movie?

Citizen Kane

What do you think is the future of movies?

With the Hollywood studio movies I’m concerned because filmmaking has become so industrialised that I fear it’s going to become almost too difficult for a director with a strong artistic personal vision to make a film – and that concerns me. But I see plenty of exciting storytelling emerging in the independent sector.

What films are you looking forward to this year?

Noah – because I think Darren Aronofsky is an amazing director. Also Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel which seems to have pleased some critics in Berlin.

You’ve attended most of the Oscar ceremonies, what has been your most memorable experience?

It’s been a great experience covering the Oscars for the BBC for the last 25 years or so – and a privilege – the most memorable moments are seeing some of the big names on the red carpet just prior to getting a major Oscar trophy whether that be Colin Firth, Kate Winslet  or the Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi. Also memorable is when things go wrong during the live broadcast – last year Oscar winner Quvenzhané Wallis strode down the red carpet and although I thought I’d mastered the pronunciation of her name I totally mangled it on the air.

What are your Oscar predictions?

Best picture: 12 Years A Slave,  best actor: Matthew McConaughey,  best actress: Cate Blanchett,  best supporting actor: Jared Leto and best supporting actress: Lupita Nyong'o.  Best foreign language film: The Great Beauty.

If you could choose, who would you like to sit next to at the Oscars?

Dame Judi Dench – because she’s a brilliant actress and she’s got a great sense of humour.

If you could nominate a movie that's not up for nomination, what would it be?

Manakamana – I’d nominate it in the best documentary category – it’s put together by two American filmmakers and it’s an observational piece focusing on passengers on a cable car in Nepal – it’s very original – and very engaging.

Now that animation movies are catering to more than children, do you see an animated feature film being nominated for best picture in the near future?

Yes - and animated films have been nominated for best picture in the past – case in point is Beauty and the Beast .

What is your opinion of the calibre of the award winner’s speeches?

I think award winner speeches have deteriorated over the years. They’re not engaging. Too often the winners are addressing a very local audience that is self-serving: studio executives, agents etc. They’re not speaking out to the huge global audience who might want to hear something substantive, humorous or relevant to their lives.

Tom will be previewing this year’s Oscar contenders in a special edition of the programme. The programme will feature extended interviews with the nominees seen as favourites to win in the key categories: Matthew McConaughey, Cate Blanchett, Jared Leto and Lupita Nyong’o. The show will also hear from an Academy member who provides his personal insight into how the voting process works.

Catch the show on Saturday 22nd February 14.30 and Sunday 23rd February 09.30, 21.30. BBC World News (DStv channel 400)

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