I think it's fair to go ahead and stand out here and say Cate Blanchett gives a tour de force performance in Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine." It's definitely the best thing she's done since "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" if not "The Aviator" or "Notes on a Scandal." She takes a shallow concept of a character, really, and injects it with so much withered spirit, flighty contempt and horrified dissatisfaction that you can't help but expect her name will be in the conversation for awards at the end of the year.
You may have noticed a healthy showing for "Saving Mr. Banks" in Kris' updated sidebar predictions, and he's hardly out in the wilderness there. Sight-unseen buzz is strong for John Lee Hancock's first directorial effort since 2009 Best Picture nominee "The Blind Side," largely on the strength of good word (and a Black List mention) for Kelly Marcel's first feature script, which chronicles the brittle relationship between P.L. Travers, the Australian author of "Mary Poppins," and Walt Disney himself, as they sparred over his blockbuster adaptation of her children's novel.
Everyone has their reasons for making movies. Those reasons are different on a case-by-case basis and run the spectrum from superficial to profound, but you kind of live for this level of insight into a project and dedication to a deep, complex idea that really needs a medium like the cinema to fully explore it.
Welcome back to our long-dormant Oscar Bait column, in which we muse on the awards potential of a yet-to-be-produced project.
I'm afraid to say I've still not seen Angelina Jolie's 2011 directorial debut "In the Land of Blood and Honey," which never landed a UK distributor. The Bosnian War romance, shot in both Bosnian/Serbo-Croat and English-language versions, wasn't exactly a success, but it was no embarrassment either: it received some sympathetic reviews, played the Berlin Film Festival and nabbed a Golden Globe nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. (Okay, I think we all know why, but still.)
The 48th Karlovy Vary Film Festival closed over the weekend with a handful of juried awards for its premieres. I'm afraid I didn't see the winner of the festival's crowning Crystal Globe prize, Hungarian director Janos Szasz's WWII drama "The Notebook." I can, however, endorse the shared Best Actress award for the strong female ensemble of Lance Edmunds's painterly but ponderous US indie "Bluebird": Amy Morton, Louisa Krause, Emily Meade and Margo Martindale. Less so: a Special Jury Prize for British director Ben Wheatley's vastly disappointing "A Field in England." I caught up with the film in the UK on its unconventional multi-platform release (cinemas, DVD, VOD and terrestrial TV, all on the same day) last Friday, and will discuss it further at a later point.
We're right in the middle of the blockbuster movie season. Some think it's been a lackluster summer slate. I haven't had major expectations for much of anything so I guess I'm okay with merely being satisfied so far, but with Guillermo del Toro's massive-scale "Pacific Rim" hitting theaters this coming weekend, it seems now would be a nice opportunity to look at the race for Best Visual Effects.
Between "Gravity" and his directorial effort "The Monuments Men," George Clooney -- who, lest we forget, shared the Best Picture Oscar for "Argo" a few months back -- has what may be another busy awards season lying ahead of him. Even if his on-paper prospects don't pan out, however, he'll be accepting at least one award before the year is out, as BAFTA's Los Angeles division has named him the recipient of their Stanley Kubrick Britannia Award for Excellence in Film.
British director Stephen Daldry currently holds what I believe is a unique record: all four of his films to date have received Oscar nominations for either Best Picture, Best Director or both. That he's managed to maintain this Academy favor even when his last two films -- "The Reader" and, in particular, "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" -- ran into some critical opposition means any new project of his will be regarded in some quarters, however blindly or cynically, as a prestige player.
As I've already written, 2013 would appear to be the year that South Korea and Hollywood have become formally acquainted. Park Chan-wook and Kim Jee-woon made their US debuts with "Stoker" and "The Last Stand" respectively, while Bong Joon-ho has "Snowpiercer" coming our way. And in a tidy coincidence, one of Park's most well-regarded films, 2004's Cannes Grand Prix winner "Oldboy," is getting the remake treatment this year courtesy of Spike Lee.