Discuss the winners as they're announced
The BFCA's Critics' Choice Movie Awards are going down in roughly two-and-a-half hours and I need to go put on my face. The show will be broadcast on VH1 at 8pm ET. (It is tape-delayed for the west coast, unfortunately). I'm not sure if there is an online stream anywhere but I'm sure industrious readers can point you to one if there is. In any case, feel free to use this space to discuss the show and winners as it happens. The nominees are here. I'll be back tonight for post-ceremony commentary.
Guild offers further consolation to Oscar-snubbed 'The Interrupters'
Martin Scorsese sure is covering all his bases with the Directors' Guild of America. One year after winning his first television trophy from the Guild (for the pilot of "Boardwalk Empire"), he racked up his eight nomination in the feature film category for "Hugo" on Monday. Not content with that, meanwhile, he has just received his first ever DGA mention in the documentary department, as his mammoth "George Harrison: Living in the Material World" was among the five non-fiction naminees tapped by the Guild this morning. They like him, they really like him.
I don't think the Harrison film quite masures up to "No Direction Home" or "The Last Waltz" in Scorsese's rock-doc portfolio, but it's nice to see this sub-heading in his oeuvre getting some official recognition; for my money, it's the more successful of his two 2011 titles.
The writer/director finally speaks at length about his embattled labor of love
Some years back a young Kenneth Lonergan visited Italy, his first trip to a country where English wasn't the predominant language. He experienced a powerful bit of self-awareness. "My God," he thought. "These people have been here the whole time I've been alive."
It's one of those moments that is more striking than it sounds, particularly for a writer curious about the world and how people respond to it, are affected by it and, most importantly, are ignorant to it. Having always been interested in other people's points of view, the size of the world and the limitations of his own experiences with it, it was a seminal moment for the writer/director, one that tucked itself away in the recesses of his mind until it was called upon to flavor his latest effort, "Margaret."
The film, which has seen an embattled legal and post-production history, tells the story of a young woman's own watershed moment of epiphany, when suddenly the world seemed to expand beyond the borders of her privileged Manhattan life.
'The Descendants,' 'Moneyball' also in the mix, 'The Help,' 'Dragon Tattoo' omitted
Earlier this week, I singled out Peter Straughan and the late Bridget O'Connor's artful adapted screenplay for "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" as one of the 10 on-the-bubble contenders we'd most like to see show up in the Oscar race. The week before, I sang the praises of Moira Buffini's subtly innovative adaptation of "Jane Eyre" in my screenplay-themed First-Half FYC column.
So you can imagine that I'm pretty chuffed to see both these outstanding efforts show up in the list of nominees for the USC Scripter Award, a prize for literary adaptations that honors both the screenwriter and the author of the source material.
The Scripter's literary focus means it can't be compared directly to the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, which obviously considers adaptations from other media, but there's often a significant overlap between their nominees.
Also: People's Choice winners and Paul Thomas Anderson's IMAX ambitions
When it comes to the Best Picture race, it's fair to say that below-the-line support from the crafts branches can be a bit of a deal-breaker: you have to go all the way back to "Ordinary People" in 1980 to find a film that won the top prize after receiving no technical nominations whatsoever. Fox Searchlight is aware of that, as well as the fact that nobody's really singing the praises of "The Descendants" in any technical capacity. Their plan of action: a featurette focusing specifically on the film's cinematography and editing, exclusively debuted on Scott Feinberg's site. (The score -- thankfully, if you ask me -- is ineligible.) It's a clever attempt to cover a blind spot, but they'll likely have a tough time convincing branch voters in either category. [THR]
Oscar hopefuls 'Buck' and 'Pina' also honored, 'Project Nim' goes home empty-handed
It's amazing how fleetingly causes can come and go in the awards race. Upon its release in the summer, "The Interrupters" -- a complex, clear-eyed study of inner-city violence in Chicago, from "Hoop Dreams" director Steve James -- was lavished with critical praise, hailed as one of the year's best films, and a cinch to snag the Oscar nod owed James by the Academy, if not the outright frontrunner. (17 years on, the unaccountable non-nomination of "Hoop Dreams" still smarts.)
With predictably frustrating perversity -- and an apparent impulse to torment James -- the Academy promptly left it off their 15-title longlist for the documentary Oscar, prompting widespread critical outrage that a film this strong could be carelessly slighted. Yet in the two months since that uproar, the critics haven't exactly come through for the film, either: the only win it's clocked up has been, in a show of hometown pride, from the Chicago critics' circle. Most nominee lists acros the circuit have left it off altogether, as lesser works like "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" and "Project Nim" rack up the precursors. (Even the International Documentary Association blanked the film entirely.)
Female contenders Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence sidelined
If you want a job done properly... well, don't get the public to do it for you. That's the lesson, at least, that BAFTA has learned today: in handing the public the task of electing their five Rising Star Award nominees, instead of leaving it to an industry jury as in years past, they've wound up with a slate that rivals last week's awards longlists in the embarrassment stakes.
That's not to rag on the nominees themselves -- a bright, promising bunch of young actors, most of whom fit the 'rising star' profile rather neatly. I've already sung the praises of Chris Hemsworth and Chris O'Dowd, two of 2011's most appealing breakthrough performers, in my First-Half FYC columns -- the latter's performance in "Bridesmaids" still ranks in my personal Best Supporting Actor ballot for 2011. Tom Hiddleston, meanwhile, has amply proven his worth in an exciting range of mainstream and arthouse projects, from "Thor" to "Midnight in Paris" to "The Deep Blue Sea." Kudos all round.
Offer up your burning queries
Alright, you know the drill. Rifle off your need-to-knows and we'll try to address a few in the podcast. We'll surely be previewing the Golden Globes and talking about DGA, ASC, the Critics' Choice Movie Awards and other news items from the week as it is, so steer away from that and give us something fresh to chew on.
The actress gives context to the stunning work writer/director Kenneth Lonergan drew out of her six years ago
As the door closes on phase one of the Oscar season and nomination ballots are finalized, Kenneth Lonergan’s “Margaret” takes the stage in the final moments. Screeners of the film were finally sent out to all voting members of the Academy recently, and now, supporters of the film wait to see if said members may have responded to the material.
The actress at the center of the story, Anna Paquin, delivered her performance six years ago, when she was 23. And yet the experience still seems fresh and vivid in her mind, as if she were leaving the set after a day of emotional Olympics on “Margaret” rather than an evening of stunt-heavy work on Alan Ball’s southern-fried vamp camp phenomenon “True Blood.”
What the intermittent years have done is give her a sense of perspective akin to the kind of enriched self-understanding only attained with the passage of time. But then the actress already had the benefit of chronological distance from her character, Lisa Cohen, when production began, providing the space necessary for her to find what was lovable in a girl who she concedes is so often eristic in the film.
Yet another bump in the road for Steven Spielberg's World War I epic
The American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) has announced nominees for excellence in the field this year, and missing from the nominees was Janusz Kaminski's work on "War Horse," which marks yet another key snub for the film in the precursor season.
I've been critical of the lensing of Steven Spielberg's World War I epic, which was commendable in intent more so than practice and felt a bit uneven throughout. Nevertheless, it's a surprise to see Kaminski miss here, and further indication that the industry has not responded well to the film.
The happy surprise, though not all that surprising still, is Hoyte van Hoytema getting in for "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," a moody, atmospheric piece of work with photography as observational and patient as the directorial vision. It's the second guild nod for the film, following an Art Directors Guild citation, showing that the film has support through the craft branches even if it's not registering with groups like the PGA and DGA.