No one needs awards coverage this deep
The second part of the smash-hit franchise hit theaters yesterday
Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and what appears to be one half of Daft Punk in "Catching Fire."
I haven't yet caught "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," but some films I look forward to seeing away from the press circuit in a multiplex environment, and this is one of them. I rather like Suzanne Collins' smart, straight-ahead literary franchise, and thought Gary Ross made a decent stab at realizing its story world last year, while leaving plenty to work on in terms of rhythm and visual flair. The critical consensus is that director Francis Lawrence (whose last film, "Water for Elephants," was actually kind of lovely) has made the necessary improvements, while Jennifer Lawrence, returning to the franchise as an Oscar winner, remains a committed Katniss Everdeen. (You can read Drew McWeeny's enthusiastic take here.)
A number of you will have caught it by now, so are you with the critics? Does "Catching Fire" meet or exceed the bar set by its predecessor? And are you glad Lawrence is on board for the "Mockingjay" two-parter? Share your thoughts in the comments if/when you've seen it, and vote in the poll below.
No love to be found for Jonás Cuarón's 'Aningaaq'
Venice Film Festival award-winning "Kush"
Credit: Red Carpet Moving Pictures
The Academy has announced the short list of contenders for this year's Best Short Film - Live Action Oscar competition, and of immediate note is the fact that Jonás Cuarón's "Aningaaq," which Warner Bros. submitted for consideration in the category, didn't make the cut. It would have been a first for a film with a tie to another (sure-fire) Oscar nominee — in this case "Gravity" — to land a nomination in the shorts field and a nice little entry in Academy history as a result.
The Oscar winner will receive the Spotlight Award, but she shouldn't need it
Julia Roberts in a rare moment of calm in "August: Osage County."
Credit: The Weinstein Company
I caught up with "August: Osage County" last night and found it, as colleagues had led me to expect, something of a mixed bag. Even with the playwright himself on adaptation duty, Tracy Letts' exhausting but enjoyably spiky Pulitzer Prize-winning play is diminished in its translation to the screen: compressing the material to two-thirds of its luxurious three-hour runtime reveals a number of its strains and superficialities, with the newly short shrift given to certain characters (notably Misty Upham's Johnna) affecting its cumulative emotional impact.
Dark comedy set for release on Christmas Day
Credit: Paramount Pictures
David O. Russell's "American Hustle" is set to finally start screening this weekend and one can only imagine Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street" won't be too far behind. The film has finally been screened internally at Paramount and is slowly making its way out into the light of day. Will it be an Oscar player? With four of Scorsese's last five features having made the cut, it's certainly fair to speculate along those lines.
But this will be a different breed. Set to compete in the comedy/musical category at the Golden Globes, "Wolf" will be a dark comedy and something of an antidote to the more somber pieces prevalent in this year's Oscar race. That tone is readily apparent in a new poster Paramount has provided us with to premiere this afternoon. Just look at the chaos going on below. This should be more fun than a barrel of monkeys. Wait! There's ACTUALLY a monkey! (OK, it's a chimp.)
Sex and whips and vagina close-ups, oh my
Charlotte Gainsbourg is completely clothed in the rest of this shot, of course.
Credit: Magnolia Pictures
"Oh Lars, that was intense." Those were the words famously muttered by a mortified Kirsten Dunst after his infamous 2011 Cannes press conference, though I imagine many will say something similar after viewing the trailer the Danish provocateur dropped today for "Nymphomaniac." And the bomb-like implications of the verb "dropped" are fully applicable here: a brief but direct close-up of a plucked vagina sets the tone for a two-minute taster that was plainly calculated to generate maximum chatter about the all-star sex epic, and is already doing its job admirably.
Will the precursor awards matter more than usual in this crowded season?
Welcome to Oscar Talk.
In case you're new to the site and/or the podcast, Oscar Talk is your one-stop awards chat shop between yours truly and Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood. The podcast is broadcast in special installments throughout the season, charting the ups and downs of contenders along the way. Plenty of things change en route to Oscar's stage and we're here to address it all as it unfolds.
On the docket today…
Also: Cannes wants von Trier back, and a 'Nebraska' without Dern
Jason Statham doing something vaguely stunt-y in "Killer Elite."
Credit: Open Road Films
Hardly a week goes by in the awards season without someone or other lobbying for a new Oscar category. But while the likes of Woody Allen are calling for casting Oscars, Jason Statham is joining the chorus for to see stunt work recognized by the Academy: Jason Statham calls for an Oscar category for stunt artists. The British action man rants: “I think it is an overlooked category ... Nobody is giving them any credibility. They’re risking their necks. And then you’ve got poncy actors pretending like they’re doing [the stunts] ... It’s like a farce." Of course, SAG has a stunt award, but I'm not convinced many Academy voters would know how to judge the category. [Vanity Fair]
Plus: Did Raven-Symoné make her first 'out' appearance?
Jane Fonda at the 2013 Outfest Legacy Awards.
LOS ANGELES — If you've ever met Lee Daniels or seen an interview with him, you'd quickly ascertain that the director of "Precious" and "The Butler" is his own force of nature. He has a charisma and passion that has helped fuel his success as a filmmaker. So, to be fair, only a true diva could upstage him and especially on a night he's receiving a prestigious lifetime achievement award.
Enter Jane Fonda.
This year's lot will be revealed on Tuesday morning
Tuesday morning Film Independent will announce this year's list of nominees for the 29th annual Spirit Awards. There are certainly a lot of opportunities to right some of the slights made by the Independent Film Project's list of Gotham Award nominees, revealed a few weeks ago, and plenty of considerations to be taken into account besides.
Nothing's a sure thing in this year's stacked race
Watch out for "Bad Grandpa" in this race. No, seriously...
Credit: Paramount Pictures
Welcome to the second year of Best "Makeup and Hairstyling." Last year’s long overdue official addition of hairstylists to the title of this category did not officially change anything; hairstylists had always been rewarded. But it was nice to see the recognition in the name.
Did that affect who was nominated? In this extremely unique category (with only three nominees), probably not, but one never knows as "Les Misérables" trumped "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" and "Hitchcock" for the win. This branch loves aging, monster makeup, period makeup and transforming famous actors into famous persons and there's plenty of all of that on display this season.