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The Oscarweb today is mainly awash with responses to yesterday's Academy Award nominations, and little news besides, so let's lead with the most articulate of them. A.O. Scott, for one, is pretty thrilled with the list, seeing this year's Oscar class as an encouraging indication that there's still a place in the industry for entertaining, stimulating mainstream cinema for adults: "You may also notice a lot of big-studio releases without a superhero in sight. And, perhaps most remarkably, you will find movies that have already sparked passionate arguments and sold a lot of tickets. It would be hard to say the same about the last two best picture winners, 'The Artist' and 'The King’s Speech' ... What strikes me about this year’s Oscar nominees is how many of them invite, or even force, their viewers to think, and making thinking part of the pleasure they offer." Do you think this year's lineup represents an improvement on recent years? [New York Times]
I do not cover the Oscars here at HitFix, something that was voluntary. For one thing, we've got Greg Ellwood doing a great job of it with his Awards Campaign blog, and Greg has actually worked on Oscar campaigns back when he was working in studio publicity. He understands the psychology of the campaigns, and he also knows the Academy members who are voting and he has a sense of what they feel as the season wears on. Then we added Kris Tapley and Guy Lodge to the HitFix family, bringing their In Contention site into the fold, and that means we've got a lot of really smart and committed awards-season writers doing a great job of covering the ins and outs of Oscar all year round.
Then there's my whole attitude about the Oscars, which I've been vocal about here in the past. One year, I did a live-tweet of "Vampire Circus" on Blu-ray during the Oscars, and then last year, I had a very strange experience when Greg had an experimental television delivered to my house and I ended up live-blogging a ceremony that was broadcast from an alternate dimension. But this year, instead of just bitching about the awards again on nomination day, I thought I'd try something a little different, something that treats the Oscars seriously, but from a different perspective.
I apologized to Broadcast Film Critics Association president Joey Berlin after this evening's Critics' Choice Movie Awards for being frank about it, but I couldn't tell a lie: this year's show was an embarrassment. Appalling, I'd go so far to say.
Why? You've got Tony Kushner on stage during a commercial break, that's why. You've got Rich Moore talking over the crowd during another one upon accepting his Best Animated Film prize, that's why. You've deteriorated into the People's Choice Awards with added air time for Jennifer Lawrence to make some more "Hunger Games" remarks and Judd Apatow padding a show that could have dealt a little more courtesy to the winners of the evening.
So if Kushner can't have air time, I'll give him a little in that snap shot to the left. It was just disgraceful, to reduce the screenplay categories to the sidelines like that. The crafts categories, added a few years back, have always been dished out on the red carpet and announced as a bumper to commercial break, but it's just wrong. I was sitting next to "Life of Pi" cinematographer Claudio Miranda. He joked that his win was the best kind because he didn't have to get up and make a speech. Nevertheless, it's a level of disrespect that I don't find in keeping with the BFCA's stated purpose.
It's been a day of bittersweet fortunes for "Argo." This morning, the popular political thriller's hopes of winning the Best Picture Oscar were cut down to size when Ben Affleck shockingly failed to make the Best Director lineup. Hours later, however, Affleck was the golden boy once more at the Broadcast Film Critics' Association's Critics' Choice Awards, as he won both the Best Picture and Best Director trophies --elbowing out "Lincoln," which had led the field with 13 nominations. If not for this morning's bombshell, Affleck would likely now be in the driver's seat for the Oscar. It's a weird season, this.
Is The Beyonder going to join the Marvel movie universe in "Thor: The Dark World" this coming November?
A few hours ago, I got an e-mail pitching me an interview with Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje because he has three movies coming out this year. I don't need much convincing about him in general. I've been a fan since he appeared as the terrifying Adibisi, and I'd like to interview him just to finally ask how the hell he kept that hat on in that series. He was also Mr. Eko in "Lost," a role that he made seem more significant than it ended up being in the end. He's a talented guy, and he's impossible to forget after you've seen him work.
So in this e-mail, they went over his roles this year. First, there's "Bullet In The Head," the Walter Hill action film that stars Sylvester Stallone. He's also going to be at Sundance to promote the film "The Inevitable Defeat Of Mister and Pete," which he stars in with Jennifer Hudson and Jordin Sparks. But in the description of his role in "Thor: The Dark World," they highlight that he's playing both "Algrim The Strong" and "Kurse."
Not every movie star works for every audience. There are people who make me happy every time they show up in a movie, and they haven't caught on with the mainstream for whatever reason, and there are movie stars I find baffling. Often, fandom finds itself divided along gender lines for reasons both obvious and not so obvious. What studios and filmmakers always hope for is a star who unites people, and Emma Stone appears to be just such a star.
There are many reasons people find her appealing. She's got great comic timing, and she seems to handle herself just as well in interviews as she does when her dialogue is scripted. She also rarely seems to take fame seriously, which is a healthy attitude. She's been smart so far about the films she's chosen and the collaborators she works with, and if anyone in her age group is poised for a long and interesting career, it's her.
While Oscar nominations dominated the news today, former Academy Award winner Trent Reznor has some non-film news of his own. His current band with Atticuss Ross and Mariqueen Maandig, How To Destroy Angels, has finally put a title and release date to their debut full-length.
"Welcome oblivion" (capitalization theirs) will be out on March 5 via Columbia; it's the follow-up to How To Destroy Angels' second EP "An Omen," released in the fall last year.
That set was their first in a partnership with Columbia records, which apparently was a strong enough showing for them to make good on another effort with the label.
Perhaps in an effort to kiss-off that set, the band has put out a dour video for "Omen" track "The loop closes." Because that's how they like to celebrate big news. Sleep tight in the videodrome.
Ang Lee likely woke up this morning knowing his critically acclaimed 3D epic "Life of Pi" would earn a number of key Academy Awards nominations. Speaking to HitFix earlier today, the helmer of of such classics as "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and "Brokeback Mountain" admitted that he wasn't expecting "Pi" to land a mammoth 11 nominations.
Brad Paisley pays homage to the pint-sized reality star in “The Ballad Of Honey Boo Boo.”
Paisley unveiled the tribute last night on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!.” Paisley, who is not only one of music’s best guitar players and songwriters, has the perfect ear for parody and his comedic timing is perfect in this clip that has too many highlights to mention. There’s one in particular that had us laughing out loud, but you’ll probably find your own.
[More after the jump...]
Though the letters SXSW catch in my throat as they're said, it's about that time to load up your potential schedule for the Austin-based music conference, with new headlining additions of Vampire Weekend, Fitz and the Tantrums, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Tegan and Sara and more.
Organizers announced a new crop of talent today, which will be scheduled soon to play between the dates March 12-17. The entirety of SXSW -- which includes film, education, interactive and comedy elements and conferences -- runs March 8-17.
Eagles of Death Metal, Local Natives, Frightened Rabbit, Black Lips, Wild Belle, The Besnard Lakes, Camera Obscura, Mr MFN eXquire, The Thermals, Immaculate Noise favorite Icona Pop, Allah-Las, AZARI & III, Bleached, Merchandise, and Psychic Twin are also among the fresh faces on the slate.
Already confirmed are Angel Haze (where's Azealia Banks?), Major Lazer, Wavves, Thurston Moore, Klaxons, Gallows, Alt-J, The Bug, Eric Burdon, Brendan Benson, Of Mice and Men, Marnie Stern, Why?, Black Moth Super Rainbow, Cold War Kids, The Joy Formidable, Dawes, Robyn Hitchcock, Richard Thompson, Toro Y Moi, Thee Oh Sees, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Charli XCX, Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears, top 10 album-makers Hundred Waters, The Hood Internet, Toddla T, Ezra Furman, Turbo Fruits, Akron/Family, Civil Twilight, Guards, Suuns, ITAL, Haim, Dusted, Fear of Men and White Lung.
The names already mixing you up? Me too. Start parsing at the SXSW Music site, which has a complete music artist listing.
Badges for the music portion can be bought via SXSW. Today is the last day your attendance will cost less than $700.
The Band Perry will release its sophomore album April 2.
Rick Rubin produced the album, whose title is still to be determined, and first single, “Better Dig Two,” has already rocketed to No. 4 on Billboards Country Songs chart.
[More after the jump...]