Could the foreign language film nominee be an upset winner?
If you're looking for an upset contender in your local Oscar pool (or HitFix's Oscar pool where you can win $300 worth of movie tickets) you might look no further than best foreign language film.
Mini-reviews for a slew of festival titles
PARK CITY - It wasn't he best of times nor the worst of times at this year's 2012 Sundance Film Festival, but it clearly wasn't the most memorable. Every festival is likely to have an off year now or then, but it was the lack of buzz among many of the narrative films and even documentaries that was so disconcerting. There were a slew of fine or mediocre films, but few that were truly godawful (a good thing) or generated hype-worthy passion (a not so good thing). There was even a lack of controversy or pseudo celebrity around this year's edition that made the whole endeavor seem, well, forgettable.
Win a poster for 'The Artist' signed by SAG winner Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo and Michel Hazanavicius
Get it while it's hot
It's been a song and a dance so far for "The Artist" as the underdog silent film has magically made its way toward destiny and a likely* best picture win at this year's Academy Awards. And now, thanks to The Weinstein Company, you can win the movie's poster signed by SAG and Golden Globe Award winning actor Jean Dujardin, his leading lady Bérénice Bejo and DGA Award winner Michel Hazanavicius.
Will there be any surprises at this year's Academy Awards?
Three nominations and three wins at the 2012 SAG Awards for "The Help." You simply can't argue that the industry's actors don't adore "The Help" after it beat "The Artist," "The Descendants" and "Bridesmaids" in one of the more competitive best ensemble races in years Sunday night. Moreover, Meryl Streep delivered her best nominated performance in over a decade and "The Help's" Viola Davis still prevailed eliciting an emotional standing ovation from the audience. Add the picture's one expected win, Octavia Spencer in the best supporting actress category, and the conventional wisdom would suggest "The Help's" triple play has sent shock waves across the Oscar landscape.
'Project Nim,' 'Curb Your Enthusiasm,' Tony Awards helmers also honored
The Director's Guild of America announced their 2012 DGA Awards this evening and it featured a showdown in the feature film category that had every pundit and Oscar watcher this side of the Mississippi had their eye on: Michel Hazanavicus of "The Artist" vs. the legendary Martin Scorsese of "Hugo" fame. With the Producer's Guild having already awarded "The Artist" their best picture equivalent last weekend if "The Artist" could take the DGA honor its would pretty much lock up best picture.*
*The SAG Awards are expected to go to the more star-friendly ensembles of "The Help" or "The Descendants" or even "Bridesmaids" Sunday night.
Can the indie gay drama find an audience?
PARK CITY - One of the better films I saw at this year's 2012 Sundance Film Festival was Ira Sachs "Keep The Lights On." The drama about the ups and downs of a gay couples long term relationship as one of them battles a drug addiction and both of them keep secrets from each other was a moving and artistic portrait between two men we have rarely seen on screen. And yet, I was surprised by how many different reactions there were to the picture in the days following. While many appreciated it as much as I did, a significant amount of younger viewers didn't seem to get it (perhaps too little life experience?) and others didn't understand the motivations of one character or another. That could be one explanation why the picture still hasn't been officially acquired out of the festival yet (obviously indie gay films have their limitations at the box office). It's hard to imagine the film being relegated to just the gay film festival circuit, but stranger things have happened.
2012 is turning out to be another weak year for Academy Awards contenders
PARK CITY - It's been quite common over the past few years to receive a press release from the Sundance Film Festival congratulating the just announced Oscar nominees who debuted or screened their films at the previous edition of the festival. Impressively, the list of nominees was growing and including bigger and bigger categories almost every year. What once was just some nominations in the documentary short category had grown to best actor, best original screenplay and - gasp - best picture.
Best supporting actress nominee Melissa McCarthy reuniting with cast mates
The hilarious ladies of "Bridesmaids" are getting back together in a few weeks -- but not for the rumored sequel.
The hit film's stars Kristen Wiig, Rose Byrne, Ellie Kemper, Melissa McCarthy, Wendi McLendon-Covey and Maya Rudolph are set to be presenters at the 84th Academy Awards.
Emmy winner McCarthy ("Mike and Molly") is up for the best supporting actress Oscar for her scene-stealing performance in "Bridesmaids," while Wiig is nominated for the film’s original screenplay. All six are making their first Oscar show appearances.
The Academy Awards, produced by Brian Grazer and Don Mischer, will air on ABC Sunday, February 26 from the Kodak Theatre in L.A. Billy Crystal is hosting.
Think you can guess this year's winners? Prove it in our Oscar pool.
A refreshingly candid interview with the talented filmmaker
PARK CITY - Two years ago filmmaker and actor Josh Radnor arrived at the Sundance Film Festival with his debut feature "Happythankyoumoreplease." The dramatic competition dramedy was a crowd pleaser and was quickly acquired by an upstart distribution division of Hannover House before the end of the fest. Unfortunately, the story stopped being a happy one after that. Hannover House turned out to be a financial mess and "thankyou" didn't hit theaters until over a year after it debuted at the festival after Anchor Bay came in to give it a defacto release. Radnor, who most recognize as Ted on "How I Met Your Mother," is being much more discerning regarding his second feature, "Liberal Arts."
An the indie vet turns the tables on this pundit
PARK CITY - Tuesday was a good day for Sony Pictures Classics co-president and co-founder Michael Barker. Classics scored eight Academy Award nominations including four for Woody Allen's best picture player "Midnight in Paris" and found itself with three of the foreign language nominees: "A Separation," "Footnoote" and "In Darkness." The now legendary independent film distributor also secured distribution rights to the romantic dramedy "Celeste & Jesse" starring Andy Samberg, Rashida Jones and HitFix favorite Elijah Wood. And yet, when Barker called me to discuss his company's impressive Oscar haul he immediately turned the tables and wanted to know what films I liked at the festival. So, if Classics ends up securing "Keep The Lights On" or "Safety Not Guaranteed," I'll happily take credit for pushing them over the top for a sale. The Oscars were top of mind though and Barker admitted that he was once again surprised by some of the selections.