I remember for a number of years I used to own a VHS tape called "Oscar's Greatest Moments," a unique peek at the Academy Awards over a 20-year stretch, from 1971 to 1991. Unique because the Academy rarely offers up this sort of material, for whatever reason. The organization's YouTube channel has been a nice resource in recent years, but it's been a while since we've seen something quite like Turner Classic Movies' "And the Oscar Goes To" documentary, which premiered Saturday night and aired again this evening directly after the Super Bowl.
The London Film Critics’ Circle Awards have just been presented at a black-tie ceremony in London, and while it’d be unseemly for me to evaluate their choices – given that I’m one of the voters – it’s fair to say the wealth was generously spread. “12 Years a Slave,” which has taken the most Best Picture prizes from critics in the US, added another to its tally: in addition to the Film of the Year Award, it also took acting prizes for Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong’o.
Philip Seymour Hoffman had pretty much settled into one of the top tier actors of his generation. I shouldn't even hedge: he WAS one of the great actors of his generation, arguably at the very top. His trick was making it look easy, so the other guys get that recognition. The flashy players stand out. But Hoffman was sublime each and every time out. He brought A-game to things like "Along Came Polly," for Christ's sake.
And now he's gone?? I can't even begin to register that. That's a punch right in the stomach.
Rife as they are with studio politics, the Annie Awards can sometimes perversely turn against frontrunners in the animated Oscar race, but if you were looking for any such shake-ups this year, you were out of luck. Disney's all-but-certain Oscar winner "Frozen" was the night's big winner, taking five awards for Best Animated Feature, Direction, Music, Production Design and Voice Acting for Josh Gad's irrepressible summer-loving snowman.
Well, if you didn't already think the cinematography Oscar race was a done deal, it certainly is now: season-long favorite Emmanuel Lubezki has taken the ASC Award for "Gravity."
Of all the cinematography precursors on the circuit, the ASC is the most resistant to 3D and CGI-enhanced imagery: recent Oscar winners in the category like "Avatar," "Hugo" and "Life of Pi" all failed to win here, so it wouldn't have been a surprise to see the voters plump for the more old-school work of "Inside Llewyn Davis" or even "The Grandmaster." The fact that they, too, joined the "Gravity" express underlines that this year, nothing is coming between Lubezki and his overdue first Oscar.
The Writers' Guild of America Awards have taken place in their customary confusing fashion, with the lack of co-ordination between the East Coast and West Coast ceremonies meaning certain key winners were revealed well before their awards were actually presented. The WGA should probably work on that. Anyway, the big news is that the three big winners in the film categories are Spike Jonze for "Her," Billy Ray for "Captain Phillips" and Sarah Polley for "Stories We Tell."
The Academy has released a statement concerning the decision to rescind the Best Original Song Oscar nomination for "Alone Yet Not Alone." Here it is in full...
Two weeks ago cinematographer Roger Deakins picked up his eleventh Oscar nomination to date, and as many who trade in these circles are well aware, he's still on the lookout for his first win. "Prisoners" won't likely be the film to get him there as "Gravity" is gobbling up most of the attention in that field this season, but the consistent recognition (including a twelfth American Society of Cinematographers nomination) is unique and continues to mark Deakins as one of the greats.
Like a number of films from 2013, many of them nominated in one or both of the Academy's sound categories — "All is Lost," "Inside Llewyn Davis," "Lone Survivor" — what the audience hears is crucial to the overall experience of the film. And that was never more the case this year than with Alfonso Cuarón's "Gravity." But when your goal is authenticity in orbit, how do you come at the problem laid out by the tagline for Ridley Scott's 1979 horror film "Alien": "In space, no one can hear you scream," or do anything, really.
Historian Alex von Tunzelmann considers this year's fact-based Oscar contenders, and argues there's more to effective cinema than mere historical accuracy: "There is extraordinary power in the moving image. Many of us will know that 'Braveheart' (1995) is tosh when we watch it, but years later bits of it may have taken root in our imaginations – and we don't always remember that they emanated from that great steaming heap of lies." She also evaluates seven of this year's Oscar nominees: "12 Years a Slave" passes with flying colors as both history and cinema, but she argues that the factual fidelity of "The Wolf of Wall Street" "undermines its own claim to be satire." [The Guardian]