One of the big names missing when the Oscar nominations were revealed earlier this month was media mogul Oprah Winfrey, who won acclaim for her supporting turn in "Lee Daniels' The Butler," but failed to pick up a nomination.
It seems an uncommon occurrence for the live action short Oscar category to feel so much more compelling than its animated counterpart. Perhaps that's because the potential for instant gratification is so readily apparent in the animated field, or that the animators so often have a wide array of styles and media up their collective sleeve, making for a fresh-feeling crop every year. But I can't remember the last time the live action nominees made for this stacked a race, and indeed, like the animated shorts and the documentary shorts, the field is in keeping with the overall trend throughout the Oscars this year: thick competition.
We neglected to report on the nominations for the Canadian Screen Awards a little earlier this month, and while there is zero overlap between their list and the Academy's, more than a few of these names should be familiar to you. Leading the way with 10 nomination is Denis Villeneuve's Jake Gyllenhaal-starring thriller "Enemy," which was somewhat overshadowed at the Toronto fest last year by the pair's Hollywood collaboration, "Prisoners." Gyllenhaal joins the Best Actor field along with two other notable non-Canucks, Brendan Gleeson and Daniel Radcliffe. Not present in the category is Xavier Dolan, but the boy wonder's kinky noir "Tom at the Farm" (one of my 2013 Top 10) scored eight nods, including Best Picture. Also nominated in the top field: Canada's unsuccessful Oscar submission "Gabrielle." Full list of nominees after the jump. Keep up with the season at The Circuit.
J.C. Chandor is pretty hot property these days. His first film, "Margin Call," netted him an Oscar nod for Best Original Screenplay; "All is Lost" may not have garnered quite the awards attention people initially expected, but was still a formidable follow-up -- one that earned him a Cannes berth, lest we forget. So hopes are high for Chandor's third feature, "A Most Violent Year," which is already building quite an ensemble.
Emma Thompson has bowed out of receiving the Santa Barbara International Film Festival's Modern Master prize this year. "Nebraska" star Bruce Dern will be honored instead.
With apologies to any die-hard fans of "About Time," we're not exactly in a golden age for romantic comedies right now. Big-screen romance, however, is another matter: from "Before Midnight" to "Her" to "The Spectacular Now" to "Blue is the Warmest Color," 2013 was a rich year for films about love in its many complicated forms. Alexander Huls wonders if change is afoot: "It may be optimistic to declare the synchronous timing of these movies to be a new emerging status quo ... Still, I like to think prevalence could maybe mean change. Cinema, like nature, can abhor a vacuum. With no romantic-comedy revival in sight, and audiences’ ability to occasionally adapt, there’s a chance a different kind of romance could ascend. Or romantic comedies could at least evolve to adapt these characteristics." [The Atlantic]
PARK CITY - One of the most heartwarming stories of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival was the success of Ben Cotner and Ryan White's documentary "The Case Against 8." The duo began working on the film almost five years ago and spent four years following the legal case to strike down Proposition 8, a California ballot measure against gay marriage that surprised many by passing on the same night Barack Obama was elected president in 2008.
When Alfonso Cuarón won the DGA prize Saturday night, I laid out my thoughts on why "Gravity" should be considered the de facto frontrunner in this year's Best Picture race. With a PGA award (albeit in this case half of one) and a DGA honor in tow, it tends to be a done deal this time of year. But this isn't a typical year by any stretch.
One thing that could end up playing against "Gravity" in the end is an elongated phase two. The Winter Olympics have stretched things out and that's brutal for any film looking to maintain a certain buzz wave. At the moment, "Gravity" is cresting high on that wave (with added killer, relentless, epic new TV spots on key programming like last night's Grammy Awards). But "12 Years a Slave" has been chugging along since the Golden Globes, steadily building steam. And it could hit a real high note just two days into the final phase of Oscar voting begins this year.
Turns out that you just can't keep Helen Mirren out of awards season. A week after the 68-year-old actress stunned everyone -- not least herself -- by beating Elisabeth Moss at the SAG Awards, it has been announced that she'll add one more trophy to her mantelpiece before the seasson is out: the BAFTA Fellowship for outstanding contribution to cinema.
This year's documentary short subject Oscar race is a varied blend of profiles with a harrowing eye-witness account added for good measure. They tell stories of Holocaust survivors and earthworks artists, forgiveness, compassion and solidarity. It's a pretty strong assortment for voters to choose from with no clear winner from afar.