It's a good weekend for catching up on Sundance highlights, big and small. Richard Linklater's "Boyhood" is, of course, the film on everybody's lips at the moment — and deservedly so — but that's no reason to ignore a more modest independent tale of growing up and growing out, albeit at a slightly different age. Aaron Katz and Martha Stephens' droll, laid-back comedy "Land Ho!" is the first collaboration between the two writer-directors, each one with a handful of delicately formed micro-indies behind them, and it is itself a story of an unexpected partnership: the plot centers on two drifting retirees, formerly in-laws, whose friendship is tested and deepened over the course of a spontaneous road trip through Iceland.
"Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" is getting killer reviews and I couldn't be happier for Matt Reeves and company. Though I think some of them might be a little too effusive ("Godzilla" remains, for me, the movie of the summer), this is a fantastic showcase. And naturally, the technical prowess on display is phenomenal; pity it seems something else is destined to come along and snatch the Best Visual Effects Oscar from this team every time ("Hugo" in 2011, "Interstellar" this year?).
"Pride" is heading to U.S. theaters.
The winner of the Queer Palm at this year's Cannes Film Festival has been acquired for Stateside distribution by CBS Films, it was announced today. Directed by Tony winner Matthew Warchus from a script by Stephen Beresford, the "dramatic comedy" stars Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Dominic West, Paddy Considine, Andrew Scott, Joseph Gilgun, George MacKay and Ben Schnetzer in a fact-based story about the unlikely alliance between LGBT activists and striking mineworkers in the U.K. during the mid-1980s.
Jean-Marc Vallée directed two actors to not only their first Oscar nominations last year, but their first wins, as "Dallas Buyers Club" stars Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto ended up walking away with gold that felt preordained early in the season. This year he could do the same for Reese Witherspoon, who won the Best Actress Oscar for "Walk the Line" back in 2005 and has a significant opportunity in "Wild" to remind us what she's capable of.
This morning was like Christmas for TV and Emmy fanatics, and among the nominees this year, as usual, were a slew of former Oscar winners.
As we all know very well, it's dangerous to be the sight-unseen "frontrunner" in an Oscar season. It rarely turns out well. Last year's "12 Years a Slave" made it through by the skin of its teeth as the rare example of a film expected very early on to take the Best Picture prize at the Oscars and pull it off. This year, Universal Pictures is facing that daunting status as Angelina Jolie's "Unbroken," on paper, simply looks like a film destined for the season. And the latest trailer for the film only further engrains that notion.
The fall festival season is lurking around the corner and before long, the Telluride guessing game will commence, the massive Toronto slate will be set (it'll be interesting to see how the tug of war between those two fests shakes out) and the always finely curated Venice line-up will help point the way after high profile debuts like "Gravity" and "The Master" in recent years. Add another to that growing list, as Alejandro González Iñárritu's highly anticipated "Birdman" has been tapped to open the 71st annual fest in a move you probably could have seen coming.
Robert Redford isn't messing around with this Oscar business.
After losing out on a nomination for his acclaimed, nearly dialogue-free performance in last year's "All Is Lost," the legendary actor is making another go at Academy consideration (at least in theory) as the star of "Truth," in which he'll play former CBS news anchor Dan Rather during the career-derailing 2004 "Rathergate" scandal, according to Deadline.
Richard Linklater's "Boyhood" is a masterpiece. Full stop. It's an effortless piece of humanist filmmaking we don't often see, particularly on these shores where the Hollywood machine has forever altered the concept of what a movie should be, where independent cinema is pushed to the fringes while soaring budget gambles dominate the status quo and the middle ground of American cinema is consistently eroded. "Boyhood" is, at last, I think, the film Linklater has been striving toward his whole career. It is his Truffaut film.
It's been nearly a decade since Reese Witherspoon picked up a Best Actress Oscar for "Walk the Line," but her recent renaissance (kicked off by her supporting turn in "Mud") could culminate in more Oscar attention.