"The Square," Egyptian-American director Jehane Noujaim's study of the Egyptian Revolution from its 2011 origins in Tahrir Square, has looked like on to watch the documentary Oscar race ever since it won the Audience Award in its section at the Sundance Film Festival. It followed that up with the People's Choice Award for documentaries at Toronto, and nabbed further headlines when it became Netflix's first film acquisition. Sure enough, it was among the 15 titles shortlisted by the Academy earlier this week.
Alex Gibney receives a Career Achievement Award
Familiar and not-so familiar players in the film, TV and media categories
Adele won a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for her iconic ballad "Skyfall" from last year's 007 blockbuster, but will Lana Del Rey's "Young and Beautiful" end her winning streak at the 56th Grammy Awards?
Yes, it's unlikely, isn't it? Adele is royalty. She rarely loses.
The 26-year-old Brit has already won nine Grammy Awards including a massive sweep of the major categories in 2012. Next month she'll go up against the "now you take me seriously" songstress Lana Del Rey in the always oddly dated Best Song Written for Visual Media category. Other contenders include Coldplay's "Atlas" from "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" (an unlikely nominee for Oscar), Jesse J's "Silver Lining" from "Silver Linings Playbook," Colbie Caillat and Gavin DeGraw's "We Both Know" from "Safe Haven" (darkhorse potential nominee) and Regina Spektor's "You've Got Time" from "Orange is the New Black" (who knew?).
While "Young and Beautiful" will likely lose to "Skyfall" this time around, the three nominations from "The Great Gatsby" in the song, original score and soundtrack categories could help Warner Bros. sneak it into the original score and original song races at the Academy Awards. Hey, everything helps.
Amazingly, besides the inclusion of "Great Gatsby's" Craig Armstrong, the best score soundtrack nominees are identical to the best original score nominees at the 85th Academy Awards last February. Alexandre Desplat's "Argo," John Williams' "Lincoln," Thomas Newman's "Skyfall" and Oscar winner Mychael Danna's "Life of Pi." Will "Pi" win this time around? Don't be so sure. And if Armstrong can upset? That's a nice win to tout to Academy members if "Gatsby" makes the original score five.
The major film, TV and visual media nominees this year are as follows:
Best Compilation Soundtrack For Visual Media
Label: Loma Vista/Universal Republic
"The Great Gatsby (Deluxe Edition)"
Label: WaterTower Music/ Interscope
"Les Misérables (Deluxe Edition)"
Label: Universal Republic
Label: Universal Republic
"Sound City: Real To Reel"
Dave Grohl & Various Artists
Label: RCA Records/Roswell Records
Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media
Alexandre Desplat, composer
Label: WaterTower Music
"The Great Gatsby"
Craig Armstrong, composer
Label: WaterTower Music/Interscope
"Life Of Pi"
Mychael Danna, composer
Label: Sony Classical/Fox Music
John Williams, composer
Label: Sony Classical
Thomas Newman, composer
Label: Sony Classical
"Zero Dark Thirty"
Alexandre Desplat, composer
Label: Madison Gate Records
Best Song Written For Visual Media
Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland, Will Champion & Chris Martin, songwriters (Coldplay)
Track from: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Diane Warren, songwriter (Jessie J)
Track from: "Silver Linings Playbook"
Adele Adkins & Paul Epworth, songwriters (Adele)
Track from: "Skyfall"
"We Both Know"
Colbie Caillat & Gavin DeGraw, songwriters (Colbie Caillat Featuring Gavin DeGraw)
Track from: "Safe Haven"
"Young And Beautiful"
Lana Del Rey & Rick Nowels, songwriters (Lana Del Rey)
Track from: "The Great Gatsby" (Deluxe Edition)
"You've Got Time"
Regina Spektor, songwriter (Regina Spektor)
Track from: "Orange Is The New Black"
The 56th Grammy Awards will be handed out live on Jan. 24, 2014 on CBS.
Will we ever see the 'Wicked' star sing it live?
The Best Original Song Oscar race was effectively over after "Frozen's" massive box office take this past weekend. The film's critical acclaim and record Thanksgiving animated haul has put Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez's "Let it Go," sung by Tony Award winner Idina Menzel, in the driver's seat to win the coveted Academy Award. In fact, Menzel's version of the song is actually outselling the Demi Lovato cover version on iTunes at the moment.
Also: Nelson Mandela's life in film, and Scorsese honored by ADG
An array of periods and genres make for a very wide-open race
The category of Best Costume Design is always one of my favorite races, particularly in the pre-nominations stage. It can be so unpredictable. This is also the first year where the costume designers have formed a separate branch from the art department. While it is difficult to know precisely how this will affect the race, it only increases my curiosity in what appears to be a very open category beyond two rather obvious leading contenders.
With a new, experimental directorial project, is JGL becoming James Franco?
Hard to believe that we're a little over a month away from Sundance, a film festival so sprawling that the announcement of its lineup is staggered over several days. Along with the rest of Team HitFix, I'll once more be braving the cold to give you the first word on eagerly awaited heavyweights and undiscovered gems alike. But not everything at the Sundance Film Festival is shiny and new -- some premieres from other fests are too exciting not to be cherry-picked, which brings us to the Spotlight section.
This year's selection of eight Spotlight titles includes films initially premiered at Cannes, Venice and Toronto, among others -- some of which perhaps didn't get the attention they deserved in the initial festival rush, and some of which certainly did.
You will believe a man...can't fly to the Oscars
Sorry, it's a little ridiculous that "Man of Steel" — I don't care WHAT you think of the film otherwise — was left off the Academy's list of seven bake-off finalists for Best Visual Effects. But these things are often about politics, and I imagine there was plenty of that at play here.
Magnolia confirms US release dates for Lars von Trier's two-part sex epic
Yes, Magnolia Pictures has at last confirmed the US release dates for both halves of "Nymphomaniac," and it all comes to a head, so to speak, on Good Friday, April 18 -- when Part Two will be set free into theaters. Part One, meanwhile, precedes it by nearly a month, hitting screens on March 21.
Penn & Teller's film opens in limited release this Friday
When I idly caught Teller's documentary "Tim's Vermeer" at Telluride back in August, it was an instant sensation. I adored its vision of art as ingenuity and the profound places it went. The film's subject, Tim Jenison, received one of the most enthusiastic standing ovations I've ever seen at Telluride, and the film, thankfully, made the cut with the Academy's list of documentary feature finalists earlier this week.
Also: On the early critics' award blitz, and a bit of Sundance fakery
Among the many things I liked about yesterday's NBR champ "Her" is the sleek, subtle futurism of its design elements -- Casey Storm's costumes, in particular, are among my favorites of the year, and while I wouldn't expect the Academy to spring for them, I really hope the Guild takes notice of Storm's cleverly evolved silhouettes and punchy color palette. After all, it's the only film this year to inspire a range from a high-end fashion house: with Spike Jonze's collaboration, Opening Ceremony is introducing the technology-minded line this month. Says Storm of his designs: “The idea was to create a world that looks a lot like the world we live in, but just different enough to tell you that you are not 100 percent in the present.” [New York Times]