Oscar nomination Tuesday is always hectic. Covering it from snowy Park City, Utah during the Sundance Film Festival makes it even more interesting. Especially when you're playing phone tag with talent.
The big buzz this morning has been over the startling omission of Christopher Nolan in the best director category from today's Oscar nominations announcement, but there's a bigger story that needs to be immediately addressed: the amazing turnaround of "127 Hours."
In Debra Granik's world, even though she'd been given ample warning by distributor Roadside Attractions, landing an Oscar nomination wasn't even a possibility. The director and co-writer of "Winter's Bone" just returned home from the Arctic Circle yesterday (really) having presented her Sundance Film Festival prize winner at the Tromso International Film Festival. She was getting her kids ready for school when a rep from Roadside called her with the news that "Bone" landed four nods including best picture, best actor (Jennifer Lawrence), best supporting actor (John Hawkes) and adapted screenplay for herself and Anne Rosellini.
As I noted in my review of the remarkable Sundance Film Festival entry "Like Crazy," Anton Yelchin has come a long way. He's always shown talent from his work in the underrated "Alpha Dog," but he's quickly and almost surprisingly turning into a compelling leading man.
After months of campaigning, millions of dollars in advertising, hundreds of guild screenings and a slew of second rate awards shows, the nominations announcement for the 83rd Academy Awards is almost here. Clearly, there will be weeks of debate over who will win best picture after "The King's Speech's" upset win at the PGA Awards this weekend, but for now it's all about just making the dance. Now, perhaps it's been the thin air in Park City or the extra time to ponder possibilities in-between Sundance screenings, but there have been some last minute changes in my overall predictions which I have written about in excruciating detail since August.
One of the most intriguing revelations about Paul Giamatti in Tom McCarthy's new dramedy "Win Win" is that the critically acclaimed "Sideways" and "John Adams" star makes a pretty damn good sports coach. One of the film's key elements is that Mike (Giamatti) is the high school wrestling coach for his Alma mater. And while Mike isn't a particularly effective coach when we first meet him, as the movie goes on he gets better and better until his team pulls something of a "Bad News Bears" turnaround. I left the theater thinking Giamatti would make a great baseball manager or college basketball coach on the big screen someday and that was just one of the topics we discussed in our sitdown the day after "Win Win" premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.
Now it gets interesting. In a surprising development that could be heard from Los Angeles to Park City, Utah to New York City, the Producer's Guild of America chose "The King's Speech" over "The Social Network" for best motion picture of 2010. This on the same night the organization lauded Scott Rudin, the primary producer on "Network," with a lifetime achievement award.
PARK CITY - Perhaps the hype was just a bit too much, but Jesse Perez's "My Idiot Brother" is not the slamdunk comedy most Sundance Film Festival attendees were hoping for.
Sundance Review: Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones are absolutely wonderful in exhilarating 'Like Crazy'
PARK CITY - Every year there always seems to be a movie or two that takes me completely by surprise and knock me for a loop. It's one of the joys of attending Sundance versus other film festivals -- the discovery of the truly unknown. Many of these films come immediately to mind. "Precious." "The Squid and the Whale." "Hustle & Flow." "The Kids Are All Right." "The Wackness." "Once." "Quinceañera." "Broken English." "I Am Love.""Blue Valentine." Another film will be added to the list this year, "Like Crazy."
PARK CITY - Fox Searchlight has become a staple at the Sundance Film Festival over the past decade and not just because they have acquired films such as "Napoleon Dynamite," "Once," "Little Miss Sunchine," "Garden State" and "Waitress." The company has also debuted their own features for the Park City faithful, sometimes up to a half a year before their release. The studio took chances on "The Savages," "500 Days of Summer" and "Cyrus" and were rewarded in spades with fantastic reviews across the board. This year, Searchlight has brought two of their more commercially viable films, the Ed Helms comedy "Cedar Rapids" and Thomas McCarthy's "Win Win" which debuted tonight.