SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio hit the stage at the Arlington Theatre Thursday night as co-recipients of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival's Cinema Vanguard Award. A two-hour discussion, moderated by The Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy, covered all bases of their 12-year pas de deux, including, of course, their introduction to each other's work.
The unexpected love thrown to "Dallas Buyers Club" by the Academy was on of the best surprises when the Oscar nominations were announced last month. The film's 6 nods are a testament to the moving direction of Jean-Marc Valle (he earned an editing nod), the smart script by Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack and, obviously, the career best performances from stars Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Jennifer Garner and other unheralded members of the film's ensemble. McConaughey and Leto are the frontrunners in the best actor and best supporting actor categories respectively and have deservedly swept the equivalent Golden Globe and SAG Awards honors.
It's taken five weeks, but 2014 finally has a great movie on its hands. No, it's not "Boyhood," any other selection from the Sundance Film Festival last month or Lars Von Trier's slightly overrated "Nymphomaniac." It's Wes Anderson's "Grand Budapest Hotel." That's no disrespect to Richard Linklater's buzzed drama, it's no doubt great. "Grand Budapest" is very different from "Boyhoood" or any other film that screened in Park City. Simply, Anderson's latest is an example of an auteur at the peak of his cinematic powers.
BERLIN - At no point in its fleet runtime does anyone break into an actual dance routine -- and honestly, someone probably should -- yet the average Busby Berkeley musical barely contains as much regimented choreography as Wes Anderson's dizzy, chintzy and improbably touching "The Grand Budapest Hotel." Cast members don't walk; they glide, skip and occasionally pop into the frame as if released by a lever. The camera doesn't pan or track; it whirls and soars. The mise-en-scene is pulled into shape via an intricate operation of cogs and pulleys -- some of them visible. All moving parts -- cars, trains, bobsleds, even actors -- run like artisan-built clockwork toys.
Last I heard, Pope Francis is not an Academy voter, though at a time in the season where every headline opportunity counts, an appointment with him can't hurt. Oscar-nominated "Philomena" star/writer Steve Coogan and the film's real-life subject, Philomena Lee, met with His Holiness yesterday -- obviously not to promote the film (though there are reports of a screening being scheduled at the Vatican), but to campaign for the release of 60,000 adoption files held by the state and Church in Ireland. Lee says, "As the film portrays, I have always put great faith in the church and the good will to put the wrongs of the past right. I hope and believe that his Holiness Pope Francis joins me in the fight to help the thousands of mothers and children who need closure on their own stories." [BBC News]
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — After dancing across the stage at the Arlington Theatre to start a two-hour salute to her work on the big screen, Oprah Winfrey sat down across from moderator John Horn of the LA Times and made it clear from the outset that she was under "no illusion" about her "body of work," as she playfully referred to her scant work as a film actress throughout the evening. "God bless the editor who put that together," she said of the typical introductory clip package that kicked off the Montecito Award tribute off.
Wong Kar-wai's "The Grandmaster" is just the latest stylish entry in the filmography of a revered auteur. Yet remarkably, none of his films had been nominated for the Oscar for Best Cinematography until two weeks ago when his latest broke that unusual streak with a nomination for Philippe Le Sourd.
My memories of this year's Golden Globes will forever be unhappy ones, not because of the list of winners (which mostly made for a respectable line-up), but because I was couch-ridden with the same flu-like thing everyone else was fighting off last month. So I look forward to getting back out to the Beverly Hilton next year and hitting the afterparty circuit as NBC has claimed a date for the 72nd annual: January 11, 2015.
Even for those of us who enjoy the red-carpet portion of awards season, the vacant questions and 360-degree cameras that female stars must face from the likes of E! have become a bit exasperating. But as Hadley Freeman notes, the women are beginning to fight back against this institution, with stars like Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Thompson and Elisabeth Moss making a point of rebelling against red-carpet routine, whether by photobombing fellows stars or giving the finger to the (ugh) "manicam." "We have reached peak red carpet," writes Freeman. "It's all just got too stupid and too hysterical, and there are too many savvy, funny women working in the industry to put up with this bullshittery any more, or to swallow the old line that any bad behaviour on the red carpet could destroy their career." [The Guardian]
If Matthew McConaughey wins the Best Actor Oscar next month -- and the smart money says he will -- you could forgive the guy for taking his foot off the pedal a bit, and maybe dallying in one shoddy romantic comedy for old times' sake. Instead, however, the McConnaissance is continuing unabated, as the revived Hollywood golden boy keeps signing up for one classy project after the next.