The 2300 plus members of the European Film Academy have spoken and they have thoroughly endorsed Roman Polanski's "The Ghost Writer" as the best picture of the year. In a ceremony in Tallinn, Estonia tonight, the winners of the 23 European Film Awards were handed out and the Polanski thriller won six statues including European Film, Director, Actor (Ewan McGregor), Screenwriter (Robert Harris & Polanski), Production Design (Albrecht Konrad) and Composer (Alexandre Desplat).
"The Social Network" may have landed the first, cough, "critic's" group award by winning the top prize from the National Board of Review on Thursday, but most Oscar experts know that's hardly a universal barometer of a best picture winner. Instead, the polling from Movie City News' long running Gurus of Gold (which includes this pundit) still finds Tom Hooper's period drama "The King's Speech" as the frontrunner for yet another week.
"Speech" earned that designation afters its critically and audience praised debut at Toronto in September and the limited Thanksgiving box office lived up to the hype. Over the next month or so, The Weinstein Company has to transform that limited love to nationwide adoration to seal the deal with Academy voters. It's really that simple. More intriguing than "Network" is the possibilities of "Inception" and "True Grit" becoming spoilers in the race. Let's just use the old cliche, "anything's possible" shall we?
In the meantime, here's the latest award season rankings from Awards Campaign along with the Gurus pick and some insider analysis.
Jake Gyllenhaal was always a longshot candidate for awards kudos this year for his role in Ed Zwick's "Love and Other Drugs," but disappointing box office and so-so reviews have put an end to that potential run. So while his "Drugs" co-star Anne Hathaway prepares to host the Oscars he's spreading some love to another "Brokeback Mountain" alum, Michelle Williams.
The National Board of Review announced its annual winners list for 2010 and "The Social Network" was the big winner as best film of the year. The Scott Rudin production also won best director (David Fincher), best actor (Jesse Eisenberg) and best adapted screenplay (Aaron Sorkin) to dominate the organization's year end kudos. The biggest surprises were the complete lack of recognition for Fox Searchlight's "127 Hours," "Black Swan" and Focus Features' "The Kids Are All Right." To say the group might be showing its age is just a bit of an understatement ("Hereafter" top ten of the year? Really guys?).
Still, as the first major awards out of the gate not specifically associated with independent film, the winners will be trumpeted by their respective studios over the next six weeks until Oscar nomination ballots are due. With that in mind, let's look on how each award might help the films and talent at play.
Best Film - "The Social Network"
Lowdown: Sometimes NBR is a best picture predictor ("No Country For Old Men") and sometimes they are not ("Up in the Air"). It helps, but there is a long way to go.
Best Director - David Fincher, "The Social Network"
Lowdown: Clearly a leading contender with our without this honor. DGA win or loss will tell the tale.
Best Actor -Jesse Eisenberg, "The Social Network"
Lowdown: Still not convinced he's in the five, but this is a huge help. If he gets a SAG, he's got a nod. A win would be a big surprise.
Best Actress - Leslie Manville, "Another Year"
Lowdown: This is actually a nice boost for Manville who could be facing more competition than expected for a nod here. And, again, not opening until late Dec. and no screeners being sent out doesn't help her cause either.
Best Supporting Actor - Christian Bale, "The Fighter"
Lowdown: He's a lock for a nod in any case, but could still lose to Geoffrey Rush once all is said and done. Doesn't hurt though.
Best Supporting Actress - Jacki Weaver, "Animal Kingdom"
Lowdown: Wow, Sony Classics pulled a fast one here. She's still a huge reach to land an Oscar nod.
Best Foreign Film - "Of Gods and Men"
Lowdown: I'm trying to avoid putting a "Yawn" here, but I can't help it. Let's see if it makes Oscar's final five. I'm not convinced it will.
Best Documentary - "Waiting for 'Superman'"
Lowdown: This is a relief in many ways for Paramount after the Spirits snubbed it earlier this week.
Best Animated Feature - "Toy Story 3"
Lowdown: Check that one off the list. How many more wins to go?
Best Ensemble Cast - "The Town"
Lowdown: A nice coup for Ben Affleck's thriller considering the competition. It's looking more and more like the thriller will make Oscar's 10.
Breakthrough Performance - Jennifer Lawrence, "Winter's Bone"
Lowdown: Any recognition for Lawrence helps her, but she needs a SAG nomination big time.
Spotlight Award for Best Directorial Debut - Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington, "Restrepo"
Lowdown: Nice recognition from the NBR.
Best Original Screenplay - Chris Sparling, "Buried"
Lowdown: Honestly, the biggest shocker of them all. Even Sparling must be surprised.
Best Adapted Screenplay - Aaron Sorkin, "The Social Network"
Lowdown: The frontrunner and still out a head of the pack.
Special Filmmaking Achievement Award - Sofia Coppola, "Somewhere"
Lowdown: Really? Let's just leave it at that.
William K. Everson Film History Award - Leonard Maltin
NBR Freedom of Expression - "Fair Game," "Conviction," "Howl"
Lowdown: Searchlight's one recognition for "Conviction"? Not what the mini-major expected.
Top Eleven Films (In alphabetical order):
"The King’s Speech"
"The Social Network"
"Toy Story 3"
Lowdown: Again, "127 Hours," "Black Swan" and "The Kids Are All Right" -- if one or two of them hadn't made it, O.K., but all three? I'm afraid to ask what the average age of an NBR member is. Is this your grandfather's Academy? "Hereafter" and "Shutter Island" on the top list? Just ridiculous.
Top Ten Independent Films (In alphabetical order):
"The Ghost Writer"
"Let Me In"
"Youth in Revolt"
Lowdown: This honor roll makes a lot more sense, but not including "Blue Valentine," "Get Low" or even "Kids Are All Right" is distressing.
Top Six Foreign Films (In alphabetical order): â€¨
"I Am Love"
"Live, Above All"
"Of Gods and Men"
Lowdown: Happy to see "I Am Love" here. Feeling as though "Incendies" is going to take most of these from the critic's groups.
Top Six Documentary Films (In alphabetical order): â€¨
"A Film Unfinished"
"Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work"
"The Tillman Story"
"Waiting for 'Superman'"
Lowdown: What, no "Exit From The Gift Shop"? Why am I not surprised? Worth noting, "Joan Rivers" and "A Film Unfinished" did not make the Academy's documentary shortlist.
Let's get one thing out of the way first: "True Grit" is a clear contender in the best picture race. Any studios hoping or prophesying to the media that the Coen Bros. and producer Scott Rudin have just delivered a strong commercial player for the holidays are sadly mistaken. Not only is "Grit" a player, but it's one of the best pictures of the year.
Appropriately timed to the blockbuster's DVD and Blu-ray release next week, Warner Bros. held a swank celebration for "Inception" Tuesday night in the Hollywood Hills. And while only director Christopher Nolan, producer Emma Thomas and additional behind-the-scenes talent such as composer Hans Zimmer were promised to be in attendance, the party found stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page and Ken Watanabe coming out to support the film and its potent awards campaign. Besides select members of the media, the all important Hollywood Foreign Press Association were in the house, er, mansion as the picture battles for what is turning out to be an incredibly competitive best film - drama category for the organization's upcoming Golden Globes.
The Academy released the shortlists for best live action short and best animated short this morning with few surprises on the list. Of course, the number of people in the industry or media who actually track the live action short race could probably be counted on one hand, so it's unclear if there actually were any surprises yet. The animated short field, on the other hand, is much more recognizable.
The 10 finalists for best animated short are:
It's easy to assume that the Independent Spirit Awards just recognize films the general public haven't heard of, but that's rarely been the case. Previous best film winners include recognized classics such as "Platoon," "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," "Brokeback Mountain," "Pulp Fiction," "Fargo" and "Lost in Translation." So, it's no surprise that for the most part this year's Spirit nominees will be pretty recognizable to moviegoers when the awards ceremony is held on Feb. 26.
It was clearly "Winter's Bone's" night at the 20th Anniversary Gotham Awards. The Sundance Film Festival dramatic jury prize winner won both the best film and best ensemble awards. The Gothams certainly have a place in the heart of New York's independent film community, but you could easily argue the Independent Spirit Award nominations themselves (not even the winners) have a bigger impact on most of the year end races. Here's a rundown of this year's list of winners and some quick reaction.
FESTIVAL GENIUS AUDIENCE AWARD
"Waiting for Superman" - WINNER
Analysis: Beating out "Winter's Bone" is no easy feat. Nice coup for the Paramount Sundance pickup that's hoping to win the best doc award at the Oscars.
And now for something completely different…youth. Yes, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences took a bold and very intriguing step today by announcing that James Franco and Anne Hathaway will host the 83rd Academy Awards this February. And after last year's dismal turn by Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin all we can say is a big old "whew."