Lenser beats out fellow Oscar nominees 'The Artist,' 'Dragon Tattoo' and 'Hugo'
The American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) held its annual awards ceremony this evening, honoring achievement in feature film photography. After dominating the precursor circuit with win after win for his beautiful work on Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life," Emmanuel Lubezki walked away with the top prize from his peers.
Will he put a cherry on top of the season in two weeks with an Oscar win, though? I'm still not entirely convinced. And Lubezki is no stranger to having the carpet pulled out from underneath him when he looked like a no-brainer (losing in 2006 to "Pan's Labyrinth" when his work on "Children of Men" seemed like the one to beat).
Tuesday brings the first part of our fifth annual "Top 10 Shots of the Year" column, and in preparation for that, I've been talking to a lot of lensers lately. The vibe I got was that, surprisingly enough, Jeff Cronenweth's work on "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," not Robert Richardson's 3D photography on "Hugo" or Guillaume Schiffman's black-and-white lensing of Best Picture frontrunner "The Artist," was the one giving Lubezki a run for his money. Fascinating, that.
The 'Artist' star ups his profile a little more
Fresh off "The Artist"'s BAFTA dominance earlier today, we might as well post last night's "Saturday Night Live" riff on Michel Hazanavicius's film. Hey, when you hit SNL, you've really made it.
Jean Dujardin stopped by 30 Rock for a bit of shenanigans with gust host Zooey Deschanel and cast member Taran Killam for that French bit, "Le Jeunes de Paris." It's not particularly interesting and I'm sure any number of people across the country were thinking, "Who's that guy?" But they'll all remember back on this sketch when "The Artist" wins Best Picture in a couple of weeks.
Kristen Wiig made a quick appearance as Bérénice Bejo's Peppy Miller, so I guess it was kind of neat to see her and fellow Oscar nominee Dujardin cut a rug. It's not as good as Dujardin's Funny or Die thing a few days ago, but it'll do. Check out an embed of the sketch below. Meanwhile, here is HitFix's Ryan McGee with a recap of the entire show.
Seven wins for the French silent, including Best Film, Director and Actor
Well, quelle surprise. While its hometown advantage and impressive haul of 11 nominations gave “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” the appearance of a fighting chance in the BAFTA race, I think we all knew that the Brits, like pretty much everyone else, would fall in love with “The Artist.”
And boy, did they fall hard: with seven wins, including Best Film, Director, Actor and Original Screenplay, the French silent phenomenon completed the most comprehensive BAFTA sweep of the top categories in many a year. (Octavia Spencer, who added yet another Best Supporting Actress trophy to her mantel tonight, must be thanking her lucky stars that BAFTA voters correctly placed Berenice Bejo in the lead race.) “Tinker, Tailor,” meanwhile had to be content with the consolation prize of Best British Film, as well as Best Adapted Screenplay – a distant runner-up if ever there was one.
Prognostication collective foresees a 5/4 split for 'Hugo' and 'The Artist'
The Gurus o' Gold collective of Oscar dorks (yours truly included) at Movie City News have offered up final-ish predictions. I imagine David Poland will give us all an opportunity to change this or that, and certainly, my own picks aren't final until the Friday or Saturday before the show, but for the most part, these are where the chips lie.
No one is betting against "The Artist" winning Best Picture and Best Director at the moment. The only George Clooney holdouts in Best Actor are Grantland's Mark Harris, Entertainment Weekly's Dave Karger and The Wrap's Steve Pond, three smart guys in this game so that raises my eyebrow. Karger's colleague Anthony Breznican, though, is way out on a limb for Demián Bichir. The rest of us are picking Jean Dujardin.
The Toronto Star's Peter Howell and the LA Times' Greg Olsen seem to think Meryl Streep will pull off the Best Actress win over Viola Davis, while everyone agrees Octavia Spencer and Christopher Plummer will triumph in the supporting categories.
'A Cat in Paris' and 'Chico & Rita' play with the big boys
Somewhat lost or at the very least under-considered this year when it comes to the Best Animated Feature Film category is the success of indie distributor GKIDS in the field.
As usual, the Oscar is expected to go to the most popular film of the bunch, the film that reached the most eyeballs from a powerhouse studio: Gore Verbinski's "Rango." And a very deserved win it will be. But after getting "The Secret of Kells" in back in 2009 and sitting pretty with not just one but two nominations this year, I'd say GKIDS has become a premier destination for alternative contenders in the medium.
"A Cat in Paris" and "Chico & Rita" are gorgeously rendered stories, the latter particularly engaging with its combination of animation and Cuban music. It's a passionate, adult-oriented ode to a time and place.
Hip-hop icon Saul Williams an unlikely lead of Competition highlight
BERLIN - “Are these real films?” a colleague asked, his tone pitched halfway between irony and incredulity, as he contemplated a potential Berlinale marathon of such appetizingly titled sidebar entries as “The Woman Who Brushed Off Her Tears” and “The Woman in the Septic Tank.” “Or are audiences simply being punked by festival programmers, and no one can stay awake long enough past the opening credits to realize?”
We were killing time in the languidly paced press ticket queue, waiting to be told, rather curtly, that seats for Sundance critical hit “Keep the Lights On” were no longer available – with the wisdom that comes of experience and persistent disappointment, the aforementioned colleague already had his mind on plan B. More subtly coded but even more bewildering than the press-badge caste system at Cannes, the press screening schedule at Berlin is so riddled with conditions and restrictions (access levels to journalists vary from strand to strand, hour to hour, cinema to cinema) that planning a day’s viewing is scarcely less work than filing a day’s tax returns.
Will 'The Artist' continue its sweep, or will the Brits stick up for 'Tinker?'
Simply by virtue of being the last televised precursor stop en route to the Academy Awards, the BAFTA Awards attract far more eyeballs, and provoke far more speculation, than they would at any other point in the calendar -- as an Oscar bellwether, they're somehow as encouraging to win as they are irrelevant to lose.
On the occasions that they anticipate sharp left-turns in the Oscar race -- Marion Cotillard and Tilda Swinton's wins in 2007, Roman Polanski's out-of-nowhere triumph in 2002 -- people look back and credit the Brits for their influence. On the occasions they go off on their own, often parochial, tangent -- Colin Firth and Carey Mulligan's wins in 2009, for example -- people shrug their shoulders and say, "What did you expect? It's the BAFTAs."
The Wachowski brothers' cyberpunk-inspired opus swept 'Star Wars' back in 1999
I wasn't much of an Oscar-watcher in 1999. I was naive enough to think, surely, "The Insider" would be a big winner that year. "Three Kings" would definitely get a few nominations. "Magnolia" would HAVE to be a Best Picture nominee. None of that happened, of course.
I never liked "Star Wars." Still don't. Not one single entry in the franchise. Look, fans, I respect your obsession, admiration and commitment. But they don't work for me. So when I lined up for "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace" on May 19, a high school senior soon to enter film school (and let me tell you, what a year to be a film school student), I wasn't too pumped or anything. I had a number of friends who were, surely, but even they -- some of them on their third and fourth viewing of the DAY -- were beginning to cool on it a bit when I finally got there to see it that afternoon.
'Drive,' 'Dragon Tattoo,' 'Hugo,' 'Transformers' and 'War Horse' square off
(The Oscar Guide will be your chaperone through the Academy's 24 categories awarding excellence in film. A new installment will hit every weekday in the run-up to the Oscars on February 26, with the Best Picture finale on Saturday, February 25.)
As Guy intimated in his Oscar Guide to Best Sound Mixing, the sound categories really were interesting and all over the place this year. In the sound editing field, we have just two of the nine Best Picture nominees represented, one surprise show (for some) for a Cannes hit that was expected to pop up elsewhere, a franchise entry that deserves more love than it'll get and a tip of the hat to a Best Picture snubee that actually showed up in both sound fields.
Typically, voters pick their "favorite" movie of the nominees in these areas. That is, unless a palatable secondary option is available that makes its case for recognition of its aural qualities. I expect this year's situation to be more reflective of the latter.
The nominees are…
Also: What happened to Shailene Woodley's Oscar bid?
Welcome to Oscar Talk.
In case you're new to the site and/or the podcast, Oscar Talk is a weekly kudocast, your one-stop awards chat shop between yours truly and Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood. The podcast is weekly, every Friday 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.
We're getting close. Oh so close. The Oscars, if you can believe it, are just over two weeks away. We have a few more ceremonies on the horizon, but with ballots in hand for another week, it's a few more times into the breach. So, let's see what's on the docket today...