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On Monday, the most important precursor announcement of them all drops: the Directors Guild of America offers up its list of nominees for excellence in directing.
Except it isn't really about "excellence in directing" for this crowd. It really never has been. It's a chance for the organization to speak up on its picks for the "Best Picture" of the year.
There have been happy aberrations along the way, like Cameron Crowe getting recognized for "Almost Famous" or Christopher Nolan getting a surprising tip of the hat for "Memento." But while the group has dipped into "lone director" territory before (Mike Figgis, Ridley Scott), largely this has been about picking the five top films of the year, which often go on to be the eventual Best Picture nominees with the Academy. So the question is, why has the DGA's announcement so often been a reliable indicator of where the Academy will go with Best Picture?
Alright, you know the drill. Toss out your need-to-knows and we'll try to address a few on the first podcast of the new year tomorrow. As always, try to keep it fresh and stay away from stuff mulled over to death.
The Santa Barbara International Film Festival has announced, along with its film schedule, the recipients of this year's Virtuosos Award. And they cast the widest net yet, honoring Demián Bichir ("A Better Life"), Rooney Mara ("The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"), Melissa McCarthy ("Bridesmaids"), Patton Oswalt ("Young Adult"), Andy Serkis ("Rise of the Planet of the Apes," "The Adventures of Tintin") and Shailene Woodley ("The Descendants").
The Virtuosos Award is meant to recognize a select group of actors who have distinguished themselves through their work in a given year. In the press release, festival director Roger Durling praises the honorees for their "indelible performances."
You can't really argue with the list. Though I feel like Serkis stands out a bit and probably could have used some kind of singular achievement notice. Then again, rounding him up with a number of other actors is probably just how he'd like it to be. Performance capture is just a way of recording performance and it all still boils down to the elements of acting for him.
The Internet Film Critics Society has jumped into the fray with a list of winners this year. It's a nifty list because rather than just a "Best Picture" field, things are divided into a couple genres (drama, comedy, action, horror/sci-fi). Though I don't qualify "Drive" as "action." Check out the full list below.
This makes sense.
Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman adapted to the particular demands of making a "Paranormal Activity" movie with real aplomb this year, working quickly on a demanding schedule and turning in a film that absolutely extended the life of what is becoming one of Paramount's favorite franchises, teeny tiny cheap little movies that earn giant bags of cash for the studio each year.
So why wouldn't Paramount want to bring them back for another one? After all, they've demonstrated that they understand the rhythms of the series, and that they have a head for the increasingly-complicated mythology that is evolving from film to film. I talked to them this year about their work on the film, and they described the process to me as something that was difficult but also really exciting and fun, and it resulted in a movie that I think works very well.
Watching the two-hour pilot episode of NBC's "The Firm" (Sunday at 9 p.m.), my mind was filled with many questions, such as:
Well, yesterday's WGA predictions weren't far off at all. Sub in "Young Adult" for "Contagion" and "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" for "The Ides of March" and there you have it.
We've been very clear that ineligibilities were always going to limit the scope of these nominations. So don't expect this to be the Oscar line-up. The Academy could spring for a foreign entry, like "A Separation," or an animated one, like "Rango." Neither was eligible here. Meanwhile, others that weren't eligible here but that could get a decent amount of votes from the Academy's writers branch include "Martha Marcy May Marlene," "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," "Drive," "Margin Call" and "Beginners."
And, just like "The King's Speech" last year, expect "The Artist" (which wasn't eligible here) to slide right on in to the Best Original Screenplay field. It's not hurt at all by missing here. "War Horse," on the other hand (which I expected to miss with WGA on nothing more than a hunch) could be in an iffy spot. Check out the full list of narrative and documentary nominees below.
I'm always interested to see who lands on the cover of Entertainment Weekly's Oscar-themed issue. While their picks are hardly influential, they can be a good indication of where popular opinion lies -- something that becomes less clear when you cover this beat too thoroughly. Last year, they anticipated one winner by placing Natalie Portman and James Franco front and center; this year, they seem to feel they have two, declaring Viola Davis and George Clooney "frontrunners." (I say they've still got one out of two there.) It's a nice pairing, not only because the two actors are firm friends, but because Davis is the kind of minority character actress who deserves more magazines covers of her own; as she pointedly reminds EW, she stands to become only the second black actress to score a second Oscar nomination. [Entertainment Weekly]
Last night was mostly devoted to packing for press tour, and the only TV show I even half-saw was "Happy Endings," where Max's outfit for the bet gave me a prolonged, loud laugh.
I'll have reviews of some upcoming shows posting throughout the day today, but if anybody wants to discuss last night's "Happy Endings," "Modern Family," "Suburgatory" or "The Middle," here is the place. Just do me a favor and mention the name of the show you're going to talk about before you start talking about it, for the benefit of people who might have seen some but not all just yet.
There are days when there is just a torrent of news you're interested in, and other days where there's nothing at all. It's almost funny when one news story has about a dozen names you're interested in, all working together, a collision of many different interests all at once.
We talked yesterday about the needless panic about the prospect of a sequel to "Bridesmaids" happening without Kristen Wiig, and one thing that renders that question moot at this point is her schedule. She's busy nine months of the year with "Saturday Night Live," and then she's got, evidently, 40 movies she's making in those other three months. Those better be some well-scheduled months, but I think it could be worth it.
After all, who wouldn't want to be part of the second narrative feature film from acclaimed legendary documentary filmmaker Errol Morris? True, his first shot at making a fiction film was the adaptation of Tony Hillerman's "The Dark Wind," a 1991 film that barely got any distribution after a troubled post-production process. Even so, this is one of those guys whose voice is so strong and who has so much to say and who has been so consistently interesting since the amazing "Gates Of Heaven" in 1978, and if anyone deserves the benefit of the doubt as a storyteller, it's him.