Wow, what a Sundance! The 2015 edition of America's most prestigious film festival was once again full of standing ovations, slight controversies and late night bidding wars for films that will be headed your way very soon. And that's a major emphasis on why a throng of the nation's media head to Park City every year.
The Santa Barbara International Film Festival is already well underway this year and the tribute circuit got off to the races last night with a toast to "The Theory of Everything" stars Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones. Tonight Jennifer Aniston will get the same treatment while Michael Keaton makes the stop tomorrow.
"A Most Violent Year" may not have cracked any of the Academy's categories…but so what? It's one of the best films of last year, a stylish ode to the oft-longed-for craftsmanship of the '70s with two of the year's most compelling performances from Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain (and nothing to sneeze at from their co-stars, to be sure).
SANTA MONICA — It's been really easy for the media to talk about "Birdman" and Michael Keaton's award-winning performance in terms of being a "comeback," and of course, the meta angle of playing an actor who formerly starred as a superhero is just begging for attention. On one hand it's a fortunate hook to help sell the movie, but on the other, it's been a pretty simplistic reduction, not necessarily one that Keaton has had a big problem with, but one that could certainly be discussed with a little more nuance.
If you're looking for a potential upset that few if any are really keeping an eye on at the Oscars this year, I'd say watch out for Glen Campbell's original song "I'm Not Gonna Miss You" from "Glen Campbell…I'll Be Me." It's a very meaningful track in a very moving movie, Campbell's final song ever, and I can't imagine there won't be more than a few in the Academy who would love to see the legend — who is suffering from Alzheimer's disease — carry a trophy off into the sunset. Campbell of course can't perform the song on the upcoming show, but Oscarcast producers have lined up some heavy star power to do the honors.
Nominations have been revealed for the 10th annual Final Draft Awards. Pretty much anyone with the screenwriting software has a vote. You'd think, then, that the nominations might spread out a bit, but nope. Beyond a showing for Christopher and Jonathan Nolan's "Interstellar," everything is down the line as we've come to expect it in the screenwriting categories this year.
PARK CITY - The Sundance Film Festival can often focus too much on films set in New York or Los Angeles, but this year it provided a unique perspective on the latter in three very distinct films. "Dope" centers on African-American high school students in Inglewood, "Tangerine" is set in a small part of Hollywood known for transvestite hookers (as well as shining a spotlight on the city's Armenian Immigrant community) and Patrick Brice's "The Overnight" is a window into the hipster family scene in the city's Silverlake neighborhood. Radically different communities that don't always find their way on the big screen.
This year's Oscar nominees for Best Makeup and Hairstyling — "Foxcatcher," "The Grand Budapest Hotel" and "Guardians of the Galaxy" — are a typically varied assortment. This is a branch, after all, whose choices often reflect consideration of the work itself above Best Picture-contending frontrunners. Just last year we got nominations for films like "Bad Grandpa" and "The Lone Ranger." This time around, the cream of the crop just happened to come in critically acclaimed films.
SANTA MONICA — Michael Keaton has been asked about a sequel to "Beetlejuice" enough times to surely be sick of it by now, because the thing has moved at such a glacial pace there just isn't much to be said. But his work in the original film came at a time when his career was really taking off, and playing in the expressionistic world of Tim Burton in both that film and the first two "Batman" movies was a wholly new and exciting experience for him. In one, he helped build a character from the ground up, while in the other, he found himself at the center of a raging pop culture tempest.
It was a battle of Yves Saint Laurent biopics at the Césars (the French Oscars, if you will) this year as both the French foreign language Oscar submission "Saint Laurent" (leader of the pack with 10 nods) and "Yves Saint Laurent" picked up a ton of mentions. Oscar players that popped up include "Two Days, One Night" star Marion Cotillard and animated feature "Song of the Sea." Foreign film Oscar nominee "Timbuktu" also had a major showing.