PARK CITY - Slugs and snails and puppy dog tails: that is no longer what little boys are made of, if the angsty strain of coming-of-age narratives in recent American indies is to be believed. Films such as "Mud," "The Kings of Summer" and "Hide Your Smiling Faces" have presented adolescent male protagonists with decidedly adult moral and domestic quandaries, wrestled out largely without supervision; at a time when the man-child stands tall in commercial cinema, other filmmakers are keen to present the child itself as an endangered species. "Hellion," the third feature from Austin-based filmmaker Kat Candler, follows solemnly in this tradition: sun-bleached scenes of motocross racing and laddish misbehavior abound, yet boyhood is a bleak business here.
A day after the Academy dropped its array of surprises throughout its 24 categories, and notably the 10 crafts fields, it's time to reflect on what the months of build-up have left us with. A few trends come to mind…
PARK CITY - The documentary that styles itself as a genre film is a risky gambit -- for every example that pulls off the disguise (think Bart Layton's elegantly shifty "The Imposter"), there's at least one other that carries a faint whiff of desperation, employing thriller tactics in the hope of sexing up serious-minded material, selling its subject and audience short in one fell swoop.
Early on in Nadav Schirman's "The Green Prince," a smart, tightly assembled film that kicked off the World Documentary Competition at the Sundance Film Festival tonight, there's reason to fear the film will fall into the latter camp, as title cards skitter across the screen in that analog typeface native to the contemporary Hollywood war movie, as an ominous, militaristic score rumbles in the background. "Yes, here's another urgent reflection on Israeli-Palestinian politics," these embellishments appear to say. "But wait, this one's exciting."
PARK CITY - In theory, casting a top-tier actor in your independent film is a godsend. They should elevate the material and help mask any flaws that a small budget or a shortened shooting schedule might cause. Unfortunately, that isn't always the case. Often, said actor may seem out of place among the film's other talent or another aspect of the film is so weak — say, screenwriting or production design — that the film still fails overall. The latter, among other problems, is the issue with Ben Whishaw's casting in Hong Khaou's directorial debut "Lilting," which was one of four films to open the 2014 Sundance Film Festival Thursday night.
Landing an Academy Award is usually a moment someone will remember for the rest of his or her life. As "American Hustle" producer Richard Suckle noted this morning, he's been instructed to "take it all in and enjoy the moment." Because, unless you're Scott Rudin, this doesn't happen often.
PARK CITY - Oscar nominations day is always busy, but before transitioning to Sundance Film Festival coverage, Gregory Ellwood and Guy Lodge took a few minutes to chat about what today's nods mean as the march continues toward the 86th Academy Awards.
SANTA MONICA, Calif. — The Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) has found a bit of a sweet spot for its annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards by holding them on the very night of the Oscar nominations. This evening marked the second such occasion after necessity forced the organization's hand last year and ended up working out for them, and spirits were certainly high amongst the many Oscar nominees in attendance this time around.
Winners were announced for the 19th annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards this evening in Santa Monica, Calif. Largely considered a barometer for which way the Academy might vote, they recognize accomplishments in an array of genres and crafts. "12 Years a Slave" won Best Picture honors, as well as Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress, but it was "Gravity" that led the way with wins far and away with seven trophies. "American Hustle" picked up four, including Best Comedy and Best Actress in a Comedy. Check out the nominees here, the full list of winners below and remember to follow the season at The Circuit.
PARK CITY - J.C. Chandor’s “All Is Lost” earned exactly one Academy Award nomination this morning, and actor and filmmaker Robert Redford powered through his reaction right at the top of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.
The Oscar nominations brought with them joy for some, despair for others. Perhaps indifference for a few (like Robert Redford, taking it in stride up in Park City at this very moment). As ever, there are winners and losers to be assessed from the morning's announcement, and Team HitFix has tee'd them up for you in the gallery story below. Click through to see who's glad and who's mad.