The cast of Steve McQueen's acclaimed new drama "12 Years a Slave" is something of a wonder. Whether it's the remarkable work of Chiwetel Ejiofor as kidnapped freeman Solomon Northup or Michael Fassbender as the shockingly inhumane plantation owner Edwin Epps or Best Supporting Actress contender Lupita Nyong'o, the film features some of the most riveting performances of the year. What has gone slightly unheralded, however, are the fantastic smaller turns by the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Paul Dano and Alfre Woodard. And, the always wonderful Ms. Sarah Paulson.
We've been teasing a new feature here at In Contention for a few months now and I'm happy that we can finally lift the veil on HitFix Oscar Picks!
Two British (or part-British) films came out on top at the Toronto Film Festival this year -- and they haven't much more in common than what's already in this sentence. Unless you've just returned from an extended meditation retreat in the Hindu Kush, you're probably aware that Steve McQueen's biographical slavery drama "12 Years a Slave" emerged most triumphant all from the fall fests, bearing bushels of critical praise, the much-coveted TIFF Audience Award and a position as Oscar frontrunner that only "Gravity" has seen fit to challenge so far. We have yet to see how it fares in the real world, but it's an impressive run for a film that, by consensus, takes a brutal, unyielding approach to an eternally tough historical subject.
This year's Best Actress race is full of Oscar veterans, but there are also a fair amount of up-and-coming indie hopefuls, outsider foreign film players and fresh faces to the awards scene looking for their first trip to the Dolby Theater.
“Brave” is a word sorely overused by critics when describing any actor taking on a somewhat sexualized character – especially when they take off their clothing in the process. If the sexuality in question is LGBT, so much the “braver,” apparently. It's a word, then, that you may have read applied a few times to Robin Weigert's terrific performance as a dissatisfied lesbian wife and mother in Stacie Passon's sharp, sensual debut feature “Concussion” – released last Friday on the Weinsteins' TWC-Radius label.
There's a reason why teaser trailers are called just that -- they tease our imaginations with suggested possibilities, but tend to withhold the full picture. The initial teaser for Ben Stiller's "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" did a great job in that regard -- intriguing in its choice of sound and image, it provided several conflicting hints of where the romantic fantasy could go tonally. Now, with a complete trailer revealing more of the film to us -- well, those of us who haven't yet seen the whole thing at the New York Film Festival -- it would appear that "Walter Mitty" is slightly more straightforward than it initially appeared to be.
Right up there with Roger Deakins, Mexican master Emmanuel Lubezki is surely among the cinematographers most due for Oscar recognition: he'll surely get his sixth Oscar nomination for "Gravity," and this looks increasingly likely to be the year he finally takes the gold. Today's must-read is a Vulture "master class" with Lubezki, in which he talks us through five dazzling shots from his career, focusing exclusively on his partnerships with Alfonso Cuaron and Terrence Malick, including this year's gorgeous twofer of "Gravity" and "To the Wonder." Take note, Academy. [Vulture]
While films like "Hugo" and "Lincoln" may have received their first looks at the annual New York Film Festival via "secret screenings" in recent years, attendees can probably stop holding their breath for another surprise at the on-going 51st annual.
After a film strikes a chord with moviegoers like "Gravity" did last weekend, it's easy to try and find analogies for it among previous Best Picture nominees or winners. One comparison that continues to be made is to James Cameron's 2009 game changer, "Avatar." Before we judge the merits of that argument, let's jog your brain and revisit some movie history, shall we?