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British stars nominated for Golden Globe awards

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Taron Egerton appears as Elton John in RocketmanImage copyright
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Taron Egerton as Elton John in Rocketman

British stars are well represented in this year’s Golden Globe nominations, with Rocketman’s Taron Egerton and Phoebe Waller-Bridge up for awards.

Waller-Bridge is up for a lead actress prize for Fleabag, while her Irish co-star Andrew Scott is also nominated.

Marriage Story, a Netflix production, is the most nominated film, having received six citations in all.

The Irishman, another Netflix film, and Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood have five nominations each.

The Crown, Chernobyl and Unbelievable lead the way on the TV side of things, having received four nominations apiece.

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Netflix

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Johansson and Driver play a divorcing couple in Marriage Story

Marriage Story and Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman are both up for best film drama, as are Joker, The Two Popes and Sam Mendes’ World War I epic 1917.

Tarantino’s film is up for best musical or comedy, alongside Jojo Rabbit, Knives Out, Rocketman and Dolemite Is My Name.

  • Golden Globes: 2020 nominees in full

Scorsese, Mendes and Tarantino are up for the best film director award, with Joker’s Todd Phillips and Parasite’s Bong Jong Ho completing the all-male line-up.

The South Korean film-maker is also up for best screenplay for Parasite – a dark comedy about his homeland’s social divides that is also up for best foreign language film.

Christian Bale is up for the best actor in a film drama award for Ford v Ferrari – released as Le Mans ’66 in the UK.

Bale’s competition includes fellow Brit Jonathan Pryce for The Two Popes, as well as Antonio Banderas, Adam Driver and Joaquin Phoenix for Pain and Glory, Marriage Story and Joker respectively.

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The second series of Fleabag gets three nominations in all

Daniel Craig is up for best actor in a film comedy or musical for Knives Out, as is Egerton for Elton John biopic Rocketman and Eddie Murphy for Dolemite Is My Name.

The best actress in a film comedy or musical shortlist includes Dame Emma Thompson for Late Night and The Farewell’s Awkwafina.

Oscar favourite

The best actress in a film drama shortlist includes Britain’s Cynthia Erivo for Harriet, a biopic of anti-slavery activist Harriet Tubman.

Erivo’s competition includes Scarlett Johansson for Marriage Story, Saoirse Ronan for Little Women and Judy’s Renee Zellweger – widely considered to be the favourite for both this award and 2020’s best actress Oscar.

I’m Gonna Love Me Again, a new track written for Rocketman by Sir Elton John and Bernie Taupin, is up for the best original film song award.

So is Beautiful Ghosts, written by Taylor Swift and Andrew Lloyd Webber for the upcoming film version of Cats.

It is the only nomination for Cats, which has been left out of the major categories despite reports it was screened for voters at the last minute.

Swift expressed delight on Twitter that “one of the most fun, fulfilling creative experiences” in her life had been recognised by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA).

Into the Unknown from Frozen 2 and Beyonce’s song Spirit from Disney’s The Lion King also make the cut.

Both films are up for best animated film – an award The Lion King will not be eligible for at the Oscars or Baftas, as it was not submitted for consideration.

Royal roles

Olivia Colman, Helena Bonham Carter and Tobias Menzies are all up for awards for their royal roles in the latest series of The Crown.

Colman is up for best actress in a TV drama, where her competition includes Killing Eve’s Jodie Comer and the stars of Apple TV series The Morning Show – Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon.

Dame Helen Mirren, Kit Harington, Emily Watson and Sacha Baron Cohen are among other British actors who are up for TV prizes.

Harington’s consideration for best actor in a TV drama is the only nomination for the final series of fantasy saga Game of Thrones.

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PA Media

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Menzies, Colman and Bonham Carter play Prince Philip, The Queen and Princess Margaret in The Crown

Overall there are 27 Britons in contention for the awards, which recognise both film and television.

Netflix – the streaming giant behind Marriage Story, The Irishman, The Two Popes and The Crown – has 34 nominations in all – 17 each for film and TV.

HBO have 15 TV nominations, four of them coming for their mini-series about the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Ricky Gervais will return to host the awards on 5 January, having previously hosted them in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2016.

Tom Hanks will receive a lifetime achievement award at the event, following in the footsteps of such recent honourees as Meryl Streep and Oprah Winfrey.

Hanks is also nominated for a best supporting actor prize for his role as children’s TV star Mr Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood.

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Dubs or subs? Parasite renews debate on how to watch foreign films

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South Korean director Bong Joon-hoImage copyright
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South Korean director Bong Joon-ho

The South Korean dark comedy film Parasite had a historic awards season sweep – and in the process, reignited the debate over whether subtitles or dubbing is the best way to watch a movie that isn’t in your native language.

As director Bong Joon Ho accepted the first-ever best foreign language picture Golden Globe for a South Korean film, he said: “Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”

Fast forward a month, and he was making history again, accepting the best picture award once more at the Oscars. Parasite’s Oscar win introduced it to a broad US audience – but not everyone was in favour of watching the award winner in its original language.

Dubbing takes the stress out of enjoying a foreign film, some argued, and performances are meant to be heard, not read. The angered response from subtitle fans ranged from accusations of racism to pointing out the needs of deaf viewers.

How you watch a foreign film is a clearly personal matter, tangled in pet peeves and accessibility. But as foreign flicks are gaining more screen time before American audiences, here’s a deeper dive into how we got here, and where the industry is headed.

In the early days of film, on-screen text was far from a “one-inch barrier” – it was the only way to express dialogue. Title cards were the precursor to subtitles, and they, too, were controversial in a way that mirrors the modern debate.

Stage actors would try to hide their work in silent film as many felt the lack of sound diminished the quality of the performance, Professor Marsha McKeever, academic director of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, told the BBC.

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Silent era film stars (from left) Mary Pickford, David Griffith, Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks

But when conversations took place through cards instead of sound, adapting films to other languages was straightforward. As “movies” turned into “talkies”, subtitling emerged as a way to hold onto a lucrative foreign market.

It has since become the preferred way for film critics and connoisseurs to view foreign language features. NYU faculty, for example, would be unlikely to show a dub in class, the university’s graduate film department said.

For Prof McKeever, who is also a sound and picture editor, much of enjoying a movie boils down to what you hear.

“We react so emotionally to sound. That’s why films are scored, that’s why dialogue is important.”

If a dub has sub-par voice acting or doesn’t properly sync with what you see on screen, it can negatively affect your perception, Prof McKeever says. With subtitles, the audience both sees the original performance and hears the original emotion.

“Your brain is so used to hearing emotion in language that it will get the meaning behind the subtitle through the performance by the actor in the original language. You hear if they’re sad, if they’re happy.”

Regardless of what film purists say, however, dubbing is on the rise.

For that, you can blame Netflix.

In October, Netflix reported it had more subscribers outside the US – nearly 100 million – than domestically, where just over 60 million pay for the service.

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The streaming giant is driving the dubbing business by producing content around the world and localising it for a number of markets, says Jeff Howell, a vocal coach and director who works with Netflix.

To “localise” a production, the original studio hires professionals to analyse scenes and translate them to a new language.

Mr Howell has worked both as a vocal director and an “adapter” who works on casting and direction. “We spend quite a bit of time casting, sometimes we have to read-to-picture to make sure the voice sounds like it’s coming out of that mouth,” he says.

Dubbing has a bad reputation because, for years, it was badly done, he says – there was a lack of attention to detail to the voice acting and post-production processes.

But today, professionals are focusing on ways to make it better, carefully interpreting scripts and taking into consideration things like “lip flap” – when the mouth movement and dubbed-over voice do not sync up.

Dubbing defenders say that modern viewing habits make it superior to subtitles.

Mr Howell argues that dubbing is better for audiences as they increasingly view films and series on small, portable screens. “You can’t read subtitles on a phone or iPad, really,” he says.

And dubbing is easier on the brain. Getting information from a caption requires eye movements across a screen, cognitive input to interpret the words while also paying attention to the action on the screen.

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An educated US adult can do all three fluently, says Prof Charles Perfetti, a cognitive science professor at the University of Pittsburgh, but a less skilled reader will find it taxing.

For viewers with visual impairments, those cannot read or have conditions like dyslexia, dubbing is the only way they can enjoy media in non-native languages.

Outside the English-speaking world, dubbing has been less controversial. Much of Europe opts for dubbing in lieu of subtitles, though the latter is cheaper. Germany, Italy and France have dubbed foreign films since the 1930s – even as early critics blasted the process as “witchcraft” and an “amputation” of the original. China has also consistently dubbed films into Standard Mandarin.

Netflix’s dubbing efforts seem to be converting some Americans to the cause. Most US viewers preferred the dubbed versions of its most popular foreign shows, the streaming service told the New York Times.

As a dubbing director in this new streaming-heavy world, Mr Howell emphasises that he works to respect the original content – “to protect it”, not change it- though he admits some alterations are unavoidable.

“There are cultural nuances in language that we can’t possibly recreate,” he says. “We can have the greatest adaptation and it could line up almost perfectly but there are going to be subtle differences that don’t translate.

“It’s not 100% but I’d say we get as close as we possibly can, directing it in such a way that we’re protecting the creative integrity of the culture that created the material.”

And to be fair, alterations happen with subtitles too – language can be simplified to allow for quick reading in time with the action on screen.

Debates aside, outside of the streaming realm, foreign-language films still struggle to reach US markets.

As of 2020, only 12 have ever been released in more than 1,000 American theatres, according to data viewed by Quartz. Before Parasite, the last was Jet Li’s Fearless in 2006. When it debuted in October, the 2020 Best Picture Oscar winner was screened in only three theatres.

Yet, as its awards success has shown, a good film will captivate audiences no matter in what language. Subtitled films have rarely grossed over $100m (£77m), but Parasite has already surpassed $200m worldwide.

The biggest foreign language film to find success in the US to date is the Chinese drama Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, which grossed $128m in 2000 and won the Oscar and Golden Globe awards for best foreign language film.

“What it speaks to more than anything is we’re looking at filmmaking as the craft, not being bogged down in where it’s made and who is saying what in what language,” says Prof McKeever. “Is it a good story, is it done well, are we there emotionally with the actors?

“Regardless of language, that’s the heart of moviemaking.”



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Hip-hop’s iconic photos go on display

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The International Center of Photography in New York is showcasing photos of hip-hop’s greatest stars.

The ICP’s Vikki Tobak describes the exhibition as watching your favourite musical icons grow up in front of your eyes.

Included in the project is the photographer behind the famous image of The Notorious B.I.G wearing a crown.



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'Riverdance has been a part of my everyday life'

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It’s 25 years since Riverdance first burst onto screens during the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest.



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