TORONTO - In hindsight, no one should be surprised that Jason Bateman turned out to be a very smart and talented movie director. The Hollywood veteran has had a lifelong lesson in what works and what doesn't whether it was on the set of TV's "Silver Spoons" when he was a teenager, amongst the creative ensemble of "Arrested Development" or any number of hit comedies he's starred in over the past five years such as "Identity Thief" or "Horrible Bosses." And did we mention he's been directing TV sitcoms since he was 20? With "Bad Words," which premiered at the 2013 Toronto Film Festival Friday night, Bateman will make many wonder if some of his recent flicks might have actually been even better if he'd been behind the camera instead of just in front of it.
And we're back! Yes, it's your favorite weekly rundown of Best Picture contenders. A snapshot of who's up, who's down, who's got it in the bag and who's a big whiny pretender.
With Venice almost completed, Telluride in the books and Toronto opening her red carpets to the world, the 2013-2014 awards season is in full swing. Last year, "Silver Linings Playbook" was the surprise at Toronto as "Argo" kept its Telluride momentum going. "Lincoln's" debut was over a month away and many pundits were getting smoke signals that "Zero Dark Thirty" might not even make its expected end-of-year release. So, yep, a lot can happen between now and Dec. 1st. Telluride, however, was quite, um, telling this year (as it increasingly steals Venice and Toronto's thunder). A number of films proved their worthiness (or not) there. With that in mind, let's review the countdown as it stands today, Sept. 5, 2013.
TELLURIDE, Colo. - The 2013 Telluride Film Festival has come to a close and, overall, the quality of the slate was befitting the event's 40th anniversary. Granted, you might have expected more celebratory moments, but Telluride has always been about the movies first. Parties? Special ceremonies? Eh, they'll stick with the annual Thursday "feed" and Labor Day picnic thank you very much.
TELLURIDE, Colo. - More than any other medium, the chemistry between two actors is paramount onscreen. The camera intimately reveals what the stage cannot and, ultimately, is most unforgiving if there is none. The latter, sadly, is the fate of Ralph Fiennes' impeccably realized "The Invisible Woman," which premiered at the 2013 Telluride Film Festival on Saturday.
TELLURIDE, Colo. - After its premiere screening at the 2013 Telluride Film Festival Friday evening, it goes without saying that no narrative film or TV program has ever depicted the sheer brutality and horror that was American slavery as Steve McQueen's "12 Years A Slave" does. Based on the true story of Solomon Northup, a free black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841, "12 Years" is a powerful drama driven by McQueen's bold direction and the finest performance of Chiwetel Ejiofor's career.
TELLURIDE, Colo. - The Telluride Film Festival programmers saved Jonathan Glazer's new film "Under the Skin" for the last debut of opening day and at first glance it was a tad perplexing. The 11:45 PM screening time guaranteed that only the most hardcore of cinephiles would be in the audience. Considering that Glazer delivered the most high profile art film since "Holy Motors" that was a very smart move
TELLURIDE, Colo. - You may have met many a someone in your life whose passion for being in love is almost addictive. Someone who loves the intimacy so much it blinds them to the reality around them. Someone for whom there is no middle ground in a relationship. Either they are 110% in or they are out. That, in a nutshell, is the character of Adele, played by Kate Winslet, in Jason Reitman's new drama "Labor Day." It's also the crux of a storyline that will reward viewers who are willing to take a big jump.
TELLURIDE, Colo. - CBS Films helped the 40th annual Telluride Film Festival get off to a musical start by bringing in the Punch Brothers to perform at an opening night concert Wednesday night. Chris Thile and his band appear on the soundtrack to the Coen brothers' upcoming "Inside Llewyn Davis," and they played some bluegrass favorites to a nice crowd in the town park.
As awards season finally drags itself kicking and screaming back to Hollywood after a long well deserved vacation, there are two momentous events that officially signify its return. First, this pundit begins speaking in third person once again (oh, you know you love it) and, second, we present 10 predictions for the upcoming season. In August. In very early, er, late August.
Over the years this writer has been very right (calling "Precious" and "Inception" Best Picture nods) and he's been so, so wrong (yikes, I guess that nomination for Steve Martin's "Shopgirl" screenplay didn't happen did it?). Of course, putting yourself out there this early is part of the game and the equivalent of Miley Cyrus showing up at a Parents Television Council meeting anytime soon. But, we'd expect nothing less. If awards season is anything it's the most political, back-biting and euphoric yearly campaign west of our nation's capital. Whether you're trying to convince someone the Hollywood Film Awards has more legitimacy than the presiding regime in Syria or a member of the media dealing with feedback from your beloved fanbase.
That being said, we'll know a lot more after many of this year's contenders begin screening at the Venice and Telluride Film Festivals this week and the Toronto Film Festival the week following. In the meantime, are you ready to take a step into the future? This prognosticator is sure your knives are sharpening as you get ready to scroll down the page…
Ah, it's that time of year again. Do you feel it in the air? Pundits from coast to coast have been roughly awoken from their off-season slumber to groggily begin walking the long, tedious road to Oscar. There will be amazing moments of euphoria, oceans of tears, rivers of laughter, shocking upsets and devious betrayals, but eventually the Academy gods will come down from Mount Olympus (really, it's right around the corner from Hollywood) and proclaim who is truly worthy of their golden gifts.
That magical night is still a little less than, cough, seven, cough, months away. In the meantime, we have the first look at a consensus field from the ever prestigious…