The Sundance Film Institute announced the U.S. dramatic, world dramatic, U.S. documentary, world documentary and NEXT selections for the 2015 Sundance Film Festival today. The premier film festival in the United States, Sundance is coming off a banner 2014 edition that brought films earning year-end kudos such as "Whiplash," "Boyhood," "Dear White People," "Obvious Child" and "The Skeleton Twins" into the world. The 2015 slate just looks just as intriguing and, according to the festival, perhaps more emotional and challenging.
Louis Zamperini was very aware of his inspirational potential. This is not a knock at the Olympian/war veteran. He has reason to believe his story could motivate millions. In 1936, he ran himself to the Berlin Summer Olympics, he became a bombardier World War II, he survived a plane crash, and he suffered through two years as a Japanese POW. In his post-war days, Zamperini became a born again-Christian and made a living giving speeches about his harrowing war days. His mantra is tagged on to the end of a new featurette for his biopic, "Unbroken." It’s simple and absolute: "To persevere, I think, is important for everybody. Don't give up, don't give in."
"The Shawshank Redemption," "Fargo," "Kundun," "O Brother, Where Art Thou?," "The Man Who Wasn't There," "No Country for Old Men," "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford," "The Reader," "True Grit," "Skyfall," "Prisoners." Surely one of those films won the Oscar for Best Cinematography, right? Nope. Roger Deakins has 11 Oscar nominations but, to date, has not been granted access to the Dolby Theater stage (or the Kodak Theater…or the Shrine Auditorium…he's a veteran of multiple Oscar venues at this point). Could that change with Angelina Jolie's "Unbroken?" Possibly.
A common refrain you hear every year during awards season is something hyperbolic along the lines of, "It's the most competitive class of [insert Oscar category] contenders ever!" You can almost predict it. One year it's Best Adapted Screenplay. Another it's Best Supporting Actor. There have even been years when the Best Cinematography nominees could have been replaced by another list of five and it would be hard to quibble. This year's embarrassment of riches? Best Actor.
The New York-based National Board of Review can often be a bit funky and fun with its Best Film pick. Movies like "Quills," for instance, have taken the cake in the past. This year, they really, really liked J.C. Chandor's "A Most Violent Year," handing the film its top honor as well as a tied Best Actor prize with Michael Keaton for Oscar Isaac and the Best Supporting Actress award for Jessica Chastain.
Every year there is an interesting list of ineligible contenders for the Writers Guild of America (WGA) Awards. Sometimes it's because the film's production company was not a guild signatory (though these things can often be amended retroactively, if there is a will to do so). Other times it's because the writer is not a WGA member. Whatever the case, it's their rules, and they're not that unreasonable, so no reason to get too bent out of shape about it. HitFix has obtained a copy of the official WGA ballot for this year's awards, so let's see what didn't make the cut this year…
With guilds and organizations plucking eclectic titles from this year’s notable documentaries for their awards ceremonies, the nonfiction race remains competitive and mysterious. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Tuesday afternoon that 15 films in the Documentary Feature category will advance in the voting process for the 87th Oscars. There aren’t too many surprises in the bunch, but that won’t help those looking for early locks either.
Lana Del Rey may be in Oscar contention with the title track from Tim Burton's film "Big Eyes," and she gets some help from five-time Oscar nominee Amy Adams and two-time winner Christoph Waltz in the song's new lyric video.
Jumping on writer-performer Larry Wilmore exponentially rising career, the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) announced Tuesday morning that the comedian will host the 67th annual Writers Guild Awards New York.
Aimlessly wandering around Cipriani Wall Street, the lavish home of New York City’s Gotham Awards, I wondered if anyone knew the awards season was in full swing. That morning, a critics group handed out the first batch of accolades. Present company would soon receive statues swaying the race towards buzzed about thespian thoroughbreds. It was "on."
Yet, this crowd didn’t have that awareness. This was way too chill. I was the only one wondering if "Under the Skin" could upset "Birdman," weighing options in anticipation of the question mark-filled Breakthrough Actor category. Somehow, a run-in with "Boyhood" star Ellar Coltrane ended with us wondering out loud, "What does it all mean?" in the existential sense.
So this is why everyone was downing bellinis.