Perception is everything for Tiffany Network's film division
The much beleaguered MGM could never seem to get the much rumored sequel to 1999's "The Thomas Crown Affair" off the ground, but CBS Films may have just landed the perfect 2011 model with "Gambit."
Based on the 1966 comedy thriller starring Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine, the film follows a London art dealer (recent Oscar winner Colin Firth) who enlists a Texas Rodeo Queen (Cameron "don't call it a comeback" Diaz) to help con one of the richest men in England. The project has some major pedigree behind it as the new screenplay is by none other than Joel and Ethan Coen. Bringing more prestige film acclaim to the party is "The Last Station's" Michael Hoffman who is on board to direct.
Can high school wrestling be funny? You bet it can
One of the more entertaining films at this year's 2011 Sundance Film Festival was "Win Win." Luckily for audiences, they haven't had to wait long for it to hit theaters as it opens in limited release on March 18.
The third directorial effort from Tom McCarthy, who previously helmed "The Station Agent" and "The Visitor," "Win" is set in a small New Jersey town where local lawyer Mike Flaherty (Paul Giamatti) is faced with mounting costs on his law practice while coaching one of the worst high school wrestling teams in the state. Things take a peculiar turn when the estranged grandson of one of his clients, Kyle (newcomer Alex Shaffer), arrives on his family's doorstep after running away from home. It turns out Kyle is a champion wrestler who had some emotional issues with his mom in the Midwest. While Kyle tries to figure out how to deal with his mother's addiction recovery, Mike recruits him to the wrestling team and, surprise, things turn around for all parties involved (although there are some surprises along the way).
Moving the Academy Awards to late Feb or Jan needs to be top priority
Well that was fun, wasn't it?
This year's sad excuse for an Oscar telecast will no doubt go down in Academy Awards history as being one of the most boring ever, but the producers and mismatched hosts certainly didn't have the benefit of either upsets or great speeches occurred during the broadcast. Oh, apologies, were unexpected wins in cinematography and art direction supposed to be true television drama? No, but it's not even about upsets at this point. Part of the fun with awards season is seeing who pulls out a close race at the last minute. Besides some questions between "Avatar" and "Hurt Locker" winning best picture last year and the race between "Departed," "Babel" and "Little Miss Sunshine" in 2007 that hasn't really been the case. Will that change in 2012? We can only hope.
Pop legend shows his disdain for the studio but where did his other remarks come from?
After the impressive box office of the Elton John produced "Gnomeo and Juliet" over the past few weeks, it's hard to find anyone in Hollywood who doesn't believe the animated hit couldn't have made more money if it was released under the Disney banner. Instead, "Gnomeo" was released under the studio's now seldom used Touchtone Pictures label. In 18 days the 3-D animated film has already grossed $74 million domestically and $101.6 million worldwide. Considering the family friendly nature of the Disney brand, most industry executives would have expected an even larger bounty if the film had been a "Disney" picture.
How many did you get right?
Predicting the Academy Awards is never easy and I just don't say that because I personally had a horrible year. Having only predicted 15 of the 24 categories correctly, I might need to be taken to the back of AMPAS headquarters and given a good scolding by Mr. Tom Hanks and possibly even Oprah. That being said, our popular Awards Pool had some excellent players in its first year.
The good, the bad and the ugly from the 83rd Academy Awards
Yes, it's that time again. It's the red carpet of all red carpets. The big kahuna. The award show that tops all others.
Sigh, no. Not the Teen Choice Awards, it's the 83rd Academy Awards! And none other than best actor nominee James Franco has graced us with his presence by taking time out from the 17 different art installations he's working on, studying for his third graduate degree and his recent addiction to twitpic to co-host the show with the always adorable Anne Hathaway. A new generation is here!
'Black Swan' has its moment in the cold and thoughts on a new network for the show
Last year Film Independent, the parent organization of the annual Independent Spirit Awards, decided to celebrate the show's 25th year by moving the show to a prime time Friday slot and holding it downtown (well there was a lot more that went into it including a great offer from AEG and pressure from IFC to change the time of the show but that's the nuts and bolts of it) Unfortunately, holding it downtown meant it still took place in a tent…on top of a parking garage at LA Live (not what many expected when they got their invites). To make matters worse, the show's host, the incredibly talented Eddie Izzard , had a very off night with a majority of the in person audience. It was obvious change was needed so the Spirits made a bold move and…went back to Santa Monica.
Like last year, however, there was some confusion about this year's event. Many of the show's nominees and attendees were unaware that the show was actually going to be taped and not aired live. It embarrassingly came up again and again during conversation in the cocktail hour before the show (embarrassing for the dummies in attendance, not the Spirits). Of course, it was right there in the letter that accompanied their ticket and IFC has been promoting the show's 10 PM airtime for over a month (so IFC's ratings have been growing, but obviously not enough). This discomforting realization was just one reason why this year's Spirits were an off kilter mix of freezing temperatures (see below, pt. 1), big stars (click here), well known winners (a complete list) and a first time host who could be on to bigger and better things (see below, pt. 2). But if anyone from Film Independent is listening out there, it's time to make a change.
IFC Films and the IFC network are great supporters of the indie film community. No one will dispute their contributions, but the Spirits have enough clout and starpower as an established cultural event that they should not become second fiddle to VH1's Critic's Choice Awards or TNT's SAG Awards in the mind of the American populace (you so don't want to compare ratings between the events). Independent film is part of the lifeblood of Hollywood and our country's culture. I could write 5,000 words on the influence of indie film on mainstream movies and television, but I'll spare you the gory details. The point is, the Spirits need a bigger cable home to help it convey its message to a diverse media audience who have more options than ever to watch independent cinema. If the Spirits are going to be a true showcase for films to be discovered, make a move that best serves that purpose. IFC is great and McHale was a pleasant surprise, but it's time for a bigger budget, a bigger network and a better overall show.
End of rant.
As for today's event, here's a quick rundown of what I thought was great, good and not-so good about the 2011 Independent Spirit Awards.
"Black Swan" got its moment in the sun
With the Academy Awards an expected battle between "The King's Speech," "The Fighter" and "The Social Network," Fox Searchlight's little $200 million globe hit (and still counting) landed best picture, best director, best actress and best cinematography Spirits. That's a nice way to end the season for a director and cast who have promoted the film since September.
The enthusiasm of youth
"Tiny Furniture's" Lena Dunham, a best first screenplay winner, and the trio who accepted "Daddy Longlegs" John Cassavettes Award were ecstatic in their wins. You couldn't help but be happy for them. They have at least another 5-7 years before they really become jaded in the industry.
Joel McHale has a third career path…if he wants it
Very few doubted McHale couldn't pull off hosting an award show like the spirits, but the "Community" star proved he could be spectacular with the right budget. His monologue was expertly delivered and he showed charisma and spark that the broadcast of the Spirits had been sorely lacking the bast few years. Can we suggest an Emmy gig in the near future?
Paul Rudd and Rosario Dawson should make a movie together
Won't spoil it, but the two actors had a well timed deadpan bit that should have made any execs in the audience go, "Hmmmm. These two have great chemistry together and might make a great pair in a movie." (hint, hint, Mr. Rudd, make it happen)
I mean, do we really have to say anything? Enjoy.
"Exit Through the Gift Shop" wins best documentary
The critically acclaimed film got the spotlight it might not find on Oscar Sunday, but where was Banksy? At the least we were expecting our cars to be graffitted on or something...
Ben Stiller presents…
Stiller had a nice bit about his honorary chair on the Spirits committee (which we think is the Film Independent board, but I digress…) and then threw the audience for a loop by mentioning Darren Aronofsky's name immediately before opening the envelope for best director. Aronofsky won, thankfully, but it was one of the best award show teases I can ever remember. Not as funny as his great bit at last year's Spirits, but we'll take it.
James Franco win best actor
We're incredibly happy Franco's fantastic turn in "127 Hours" got recognized with a win, but we just wish his acceptance speech has been a tad more entertaining. We're officially worried Anne Hathaway may have to carry tomorrow's Oscar show.
Anybody got a space heater?
You might have heard or seen on twitter, but it was a week bit chilly at the beach this year. The Spirits wanted to return to the beach after a detour downtown for their 25th Anniversary in 2010. The problem was the weather didn't necessarily cooperate with the show's return. It could have been worst and been cold and rained, but instead, the windy beach combined with 50ish temps and no heaters had even presenters complaining.
2012 In Memoriam Segment
Whomever thought doing a comedy bit where you put the camera on members of the audience and then suggested how they might die in the last year is an idiot. There's nothing wrong with being the irreverent and "out there" awards show, but that showed a complete and utter lack of taste and class (fine, we laughed at the Jesse Eisenberg being killed by Michael Cera bit, but still).
Mark Ruffalo will end award season winless
There is little chance "The Kids Are All Right" will win the best supporting actor Oscar tomorrow, so the Spirits were his last chance to bring something home this season. No dice.
Wait, there are commercial breaks?
Considering how a majority of the Spirit audience has probably been to more awards shows than you've been to Disneyland (or Disney World), it was strange how unprepared the group was for the addition of commercial breaks to what traditional has been a straight through show. McHale had to plead numerous time that the audience sit down and some presenters were trying to speak over loud crowd noise. The show and whomever produces it needs to figure out a better way to handle it next year.
For more on this year's Spirit Awards, check out Dan Fienberg's live blog of the, um, taped show.
The entire HitFix crew will be back tomorrow with monitor to monitor coverage of the 83rd Academy Awards. Aren't you excited?
Will 'Black Swan' or 'Winter's Bone' celebrate on the beach?
Most of the media is focusing on the Academy Awards on Sunday, but a majority of them will also be at the Santa Monica Pier Saturday as most of Hollywood turns out -- rain or shine -- for the 2011 Independent Spirit Awards. This pundit will be there in person and share my thoughts on the show via twitter (follow me at @HitFixGregory) ahd in this blog immediately after. HitFix's own Dan Fienberg will be live blogging the "taped" show hosted by Joel McHale that will air at 10 PM ET/PT on IFC. The always irreverent event actually occurs at 2 PM PT, but there are promises the taped version will not be edited (fingers crossed).
Winners and upsets in all 24 categories
After six months of film festivals, pseudo award shows, real award shows, cocktail parties, Q&A's, repetitive profile pieces, millions spent in for your consideration ads, special events and enough red carpets to cover the globe 100 times, the 2010-2011 awards season will finally come to a close with the 83rd Academy Awards this Sunday.
Having chronicled the ups and downs of this awards season ad nauseum it's somewhat of a relief that there should still be some surprises Sunday night. Is best supporting actress really up for grabs? Can "The King's Speech" win best picture without winning editing or director? Will Annette Bening spoil Natalie Portman's expected best actress win? Frankly, none of those interesting scenarios may come to pass and the show may be a bore. And yet, every year, there are always upsets that make you realize, "Of course! How could we not have realized everyone in town thinks Jason Reitman is a douche?" Er, um, perhaps that was just last year after "Precious" upset "Up in the Air" for adapted screenplay, but you get the point.
So, without further delay, here's a rundown of my final predictions for all 24 categories for this year's 83rd Academy Awards.
Is this an upset category or just a figment of the media's imagination?
2010 was actually a pretty impressive year for the leading ladies in the best actress category. Especially when you consider that acclaimed performances by Tilda Swinton, Leslie Manville, Carey Mulligan and Julianne Moore didn't make the cut. Moreover, unlike best actor or best supporting actor, there is actually a chance for an upset. Whether that possibility is being overinflated by the press remains to be seen, but it's certainly made the frontrunner's camp a tad nervous. With that in mind, let's review this year's field shall we?