My Oscar Predictions / Revised!

I have to revise my predictions.

I’m in LA and have just seen 1917. I had made my predictions earlier not having seen the film – based on reviews, guild wins, and industry momentum.

Having seen the film now I put it as my pick for Best Picture ahead of The Irishman.

I think it should also win Best Editing, Best Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Best Production Design.

And Roger Deakins is a slam dunk for Best Cinematography, as is Sam Mendes for Best Director.

It’s an astonishing piece of work all around.

My Oscar predictions for 2020

Each year, as many of you who follow this blog might know, I make my Oscar predictions.

I’m normally pretty good, with a strike rate usually in the mid 90%.

This year it’s going to be more difficult, because surprisingly at a time when cinema is dominated by Star Wars movies or Marvel or other bonehead super-hero movies, there have been a lot of standout “real” cinema films released.

I say that because Martin Scorcese started what turned out to be a spirited debate last year by claiming that comic book super-hero movies weren’t cinema.

Here is his Op-Ed piece in the New York Times that started it all:

Martin Scorcese is one of the greatest film directors of all time. He’s been nominated for an Oscar more times than any other living director. His films include Taxi Driver, Raging Bull (my favourite), Goodfellas, and most recently The Irishman. 

Essentially, what Scorcese said was that “cinema was about revelation — aesthetic, emotional and spiritual revelation. It was about characters — the complexity of people and their contradictory and sometimes paradoxical natures, the way they can hurt one another and love one another and suddenly come face to face with themselves.”

He upset a lot of people by saying that the superhero movies have none of that. He was supported by Francis Ford Coppola, another legendary director – director of The Godfather movies, and my second favourite war film of all time – Apocalypse Now – second to Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory.

Anyway, I digress.

Standout films this year, for me, were:

JoJo Rabbit

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Ford vs Ferrari
The Two Popes 
The Irishman

I haven’t seen all the nominated movies this year because I’ve been working on a new novel – Again, I Die – and a new movie – Facing Fear. And I live in Mudgee 4hrs drive out of Sydney and we don’t have a working cinema in town, sadly. So my predictions will be a bit of throwing darts at a board, blindfolded.

However, for me the top film of the year without a doubt was Joker. It was everything I want cinema to be – audacious, challenging, shocking, innovative in craft, and political. It was a movie that could be read either way on the political spectrum. And it was a film that spoke boldly about where we are right now, and where we might well end up. Joker for me was not only the best film of the year, but the best film I’ve seen in a long long time.

For sheer audacity though, it’s hard to beat JoJo Rabbit.

I predict Joker will win a slew of awards but not the top gong, because ultimately the Oscar voters are a bunch of elderly white rich dudes that are fairly conservative in their views. The fact that Joker was a huge financial success, taking in more than $1bn at the box office, will certainly help its chances.

But for me, the big tussle for Best Picture tonight I believe will be between The Irishman, Sam Mendes’ 1917, and Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. If The Irishman wins, it will be a huge coup for Netflix, which financed the movie. Traditional distribution shied away from Scorcese’s high production budget – but Netflix with huge resources at its disposal wrote the cheque – and if the movie wins Best Picture tonight it will further validate the position of the streamers in modern filmmaking.

Another film made for streaming was Marriage Story. I didn’t get that movie. There were several much better “kitchen sink” dramas made in the 70s. It gave me no great revelations about the human condition, or the times we live in. Two Popes did that in spades. I loved that movie.

Okay, so here are my predictions. As I say, this year is wide open with so many outstanding movies – but here goes:

Oh, and this year I’m adding the film or person that I believe deserved to win!

Best Picture
The Irishman
BB: Joker

Best Director
Sam Mendes / 1917
BB: Todd Philips / Joker

Best Actor
Joaquin Phoenix / Joker
BB: Joaquin Phoenix / Joker

Best Actress
Renee Zwelleger / Judy
BB: Scarlett Johansson / JoJo Rabbit

Best Supporting Actor
Brad Pitt / Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
BB: a three way tie between Joe Pesci / The Irishman, Anthony Hopkins / The Two Popes, and Taika Waititi / JoJo Rabbit

Best Supporting Actress
Laura Dern / Marriage Story
BB: Charlize Theron / Bombshell

Best Original Screenplay
Quentin Tarantino / Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
BB: Quentin Tarantino / Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Best Adapted Screenplay
Taika Waititi / JoJo Rabbit
BB: Anthony McCarten / The Two Popes

Best Foreign Language Film
BB: Parasite

Best Cinematography
Roger Deakins / 1917
BB: Lawrence Sher / Joker

Best Film Editing
Ford vs Ferarri
BB: Jeff Groth / Joker

Best Sound Mixing:
Ford vs Ferarri
BB: a tie between  Rocketman and Joker

Best Production Design
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
BB: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Visual Effects
BB: 1917

Original Score
BB: Joker

Original Song
I’m gonna Love me Again / Rocketman
BB: I’m gonna Love me Again / Rocketman

Best Costume Design
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
BB: Dolemite is my Name

Best Makeup & Hair
BB: Dolemite is my Name

Best Documentary
American Factory
BB: Honeyland

Best Animated Feature
Toy Story 4
BB: Frozen 2

Like I said, this year is incredibly hard to pick. I’m currently in LA and I’ll be flying back home tonight while the Oscars are on, so I’ll have to wait until I land Tuesday morning Sydney time to see how I did compared to who actually won.

What was hugely pleasing for me this year though was that there was a bunch of very fine films that were actually made for adults. Scorcese was right – this is cinema. 

The Kindness of Strangers ~

I was on my walk this morning –

Sunday mornings, I always walk. Today it was a 10km walk and by mid morning it was already hot – 38C, or 100F.

And it was smokey, from the bushfires.

The bushfires haven’t affected my town directly. I live in Mudgee, a beautiful wine-making town about 4hrs drive north-west of Sydney. The bushfires have come close to the town, and the smoke has at times been dense.

Anyway, I was about halfway into my walk, heading out through the vineyards, when a truck pulled up beside me.

A bloke leaned out of the cab of his battered 4WD, and he held up a face-mask. The kind you get from pharmacies to put over your mouth and nose to filter out the bad air.

Mate, you need this? 

I didn’t know this bloke.
He didn’t know me.
He was a stranger.
He looked like a bushie – someone who lives and works in the bush.

I was knocked out by this random act of kindness.
I said No thanks, I’m fine – and he nodded and drove on.
And I kept walking.

It was a small gesture, I know, but it meant a lot to me. And I began to think of all the random acts of kindness that are happening around our country at the moment, in the face of these devastating bushfires.

The firies, as the firefighters here are called, are largely volunteers – and they are literally putting their lives at risk each day to save lives and property. And they ask for nothing in return – not even recognition or praise.

Jennifer and I know one of these firies – someone close to us – and we have such admiration for the job he, and other members of the Rural Fire Service, are doing.

They would rail at being called heroes.
They just do what they’ve been trained to do – deal with firestorms.

When things get tough, the true character of a person comes to the fore.
And you see the world more clearly.
What’s important.
What’s dear to you.
And what’s unimportant.
What really doesn’t matter.

So much really doesn’t matter, does it, when it comes down to it.

Things don’t matter.
People matter.
Kindness matters.
Generosity of spirit matters.
Gratitude matters.
Love matters.

Most of all –
Love matters.


End of year Audit and hopes for 2020!

As followers of this blog know, at this time each year I do an audit of what I achieved this past year, pegged against what I said I wanted to achieve – and I set out what I hope to achieve the coming year.

How did I go? Well, as you’ll see from below it’s been another very busy year. I did some, didn’t do some. Here’s what I wanted to achieve in 2019, and what I did achieve –

  • Continue the marketing and promotion of PGS the movie.
    Yes, the marketing and promotion of PGS has been ongoing.
  • Shift into the educational side of PGS, through workshops, and online training.
    Done, sort of. We’ve started up a PGS Study Group with the help of Adriana Cortazzo, but intend to develop the educational side further in 2020 
  • Write the screenplay of THE WAY, MY WAY – and begin casting and financing.
    Done. I wrote the screenplay – I now have Australian/New Zealand distribution in place, a Spanish co-production partner, and a US sales agent/financier on board.
  • Complete the manuscript of the third in the Palace of Fires trilogy – BEAST.
    Done. I completed the manuscript – 110k words. A big book. And it’s a cracker of a finale to the trilogy.
  • Penguin Random House will publish BEAST.
    Done. It was published earlier this year.
  • I will write my next book, a thriller called Again, I Die.
    Done – sort of. I’m almost finished – currently at 85k words. The final manuscript will end up being about 100k words. I will have the ms completed, with revisions, by end of February.
  • I will commence production on my theatrical feature documentary on fear.
    Done. Have now shot more than 30 interviews, mostly in the US, and already have nearly 50hrs of footage.

So what do I hope to achieve in 2020? I’m not slowing down, that’s for sure!

  • Complete the manuscript of Again, I Die.
  • Get Again, I Die published.
  • Complete production of Fear – the Movie. 
  • Commence development of a TV series based on my feature film KISS OR KILL.
  • Commence production of DEFIANT, the feature film based on the true story of a double honour killing in India.
  • Get THE WAY, MY WAY cast and financed.
  • Write the manuscript for a new book on intuition.
  • Produce a Masterclass based around the book.
  • Get PGS out wider into culture.
  • Spend more time meditating.

In amongst all that I want to go visit exotic places, meet wonderful people and renew/refresh friendships, and have fun with my extraordinary life partner Jennifer.

I’m a Narcissist – so are you!

I’ve come to the conclusion I’m a narcissist.

It didn’t take me long, principally because I’m incredibly smart.
Actually, brilliant is probably more apt.

I’m a narcissist.

The mere fact that I’m writing this post – that in fact I have a blog at all, and in my own name what’s more – proves that I’m a narcissist.

I expect that others will be interested in my thoughts – that is, me – because I am what I think.

At least, I think I am.

I wasn’t always a narcissist.
I’ve become that way.
I’ve been required to.
It’s been a case of either become a narcissist or die.

Social media.
That’s what’s done it.

Social media demands that each of us flaunt our narcissistic tendencies. We want people to like us. We acquire self esteem through our number of likes. Our sense of worth is no longer measured by what car we drive, or what house we live in – it’s measured by our following. Our community. How many friends we have.

I have nearly five thousand friends on Facebook.
I know maybe 200 of them.
I’m friends with maybe 100 of them.
That’s all I have time for.
Friends require time.
And I don’t have a great deal of time,
because I’m too busy being narcissistic.
Finding new friends.

We have come into an age where we’re not only allowed to be narcissistic, it’s de riguer. In fact, if you’re not narcissistic there’s something wrong with you.

You’re old fashioned.
You’re not cool.
You don’t exist.

Being narcissistic and being humble aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, they’re bed-fellows. I know people who tell people how humble they are.

Me: I’m humbler than you.
Him: No you’re not.
Me: Fuck yeah man, I’m way more humbler than you.
I’m on a spiritual journey and you’re not so I must be.
Him: (deflated) Oh yeah. I’m going to start my spiritual journey
once I get to 10,000 Instagram followers.
Me: Good luck with that.

I’m now going to post an image of myself on this blog.
What a wonderful act of narcissism.
Which photo should I choose?
There are so so many.
My god I’m handsome.
This is so difficult – choosing…
Me pensive?
Me virile?
Me ten years ago?
I know – I’ll choose this one…


New look – New title …

I’ve decided to retitle the blog – to just…

bill bennett
being – 

I like “being.”
I’m a human being.
And I try to just “be.”
Each day I am “be-ing.”
Or try to be!

Anyway, this allows me to blog about stuff that’s not Camino related necessarily – because as you know the blog began in April 2013 to document my walking the Camino de Santiago.

But the blog has gradually shifted away from that – to encompass my film work, my novels, and general stuff which interests me and I hope interests you.

There will still be Camino posts from time to time, because my engagement with the Camino is ongoing – but this new look/new title better suits the range of material I am now exploring.

I will also be blogging now at least once a week, and more if something comes up that I want to share with you.

I enjoy writing blog posts. It’s a different form of writing that requires different rules, different rhythms. Writing blogs has informed my writing style in other areas. It’s subtle, but to me it’s been revelatory.

Anyway, I feel refreshed.
Shiny and new!
A new look to go into the new year.

Stay with me because I’m going to have fun!

I’m viral! 2million views!

When I was younger – much younger – before I became a filmmaker I used to be a television reporter.

I was trained in news journalism at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and at the tender age of 23, after completing a three year cadetship, I moved across to the ABC’s flagship current affairs show at the time, This Day Tonight. I chose to be stationed in Adelaide, because I knew I’d screw up, being young and raw, and I figured that my televisual embarrassments would go largely unseen in the South Australian backwater.  

Not much happened in Adelaide. Which suited me fine, because it gave me the opportunity to develop my storytelling skills in an environment that was unpressured. I could make mistakes and have fun, and not get hammered by the tv execs.

Well, not much…

Being the youngest reporter there I was often given the shittiest jobs. It turned out to be a great training ground, because within two years I would be poached by the highest rating current affairs show on commercial tv, and a year later I would win the country’s highest award in television, a Logie, for Television Reporter of the Year.

But back to Adelaide –

It was a slow day in Adelaide and each day we had to fill half an hour of tv – to screen at prime time at 7:30pm. I was sent out to do a “puff piece” on milk cartons. This was 1976, and there’d been complaints in the local newspaper that the cartons, that had new-fangled pop-up spouts, were hard to open.

You have to understand that in Adelaide in 1976, it hadn’t been that long ago that milk got delivered in cans from the back of horse-drawn carts.

Anyway, I did this “filler” piece, and I had some fun with it, and then duly forgot about it. Until a few months ago, when my sister texted me to say that the ABC had put the story up on Facebook, as part of a retro series they were running.

That was four months ago.
It has now had more than two million views.
I guess that makes me viral.

Huh – and I always thought that being viral required bedrest and a hot lemon drink.

The video has been shared on Facebook more than 10k times, and had nearly 6k comments. And some of the comments are hilarious.
Some have required me to respond, such as:

Troy: He looks a bit like Ted Bundy.
Me: Ted Bundy didn’t wear turtlenecks.
Troy: Yes he did.
Me: Oh…

Peter: He doesn’t know how to pull the flaps apart. He must be gay.
Me: Actually I’m not, but I’ve since learned how the flaps work.

Margaret: My god, and he’s married. I hope he didn’t breed.
Me: I did. Watch out.

Christine: I want to punch him. HARD.
Me: Ouch.
Christine: Sorry Bill

Yousef: I need to meet this man.
Me: Believe me, you don’t!

Kusdi: For his age, he was very dumb.
Me: I still am…

There were a lot of comments from Millennials about how useless Boomers were/are, and how I had more than a passing resemblance to various serial killers.

At the time I did that story, it might have been seen by maybe 100,000 people the night it went to air. More than forty years later, and in four months it’s been seen by more than 2 million. What a crazy world we live in!

Here is the video: