A slew of former Oscar winners and nominees headed to the desert for the annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards gala Saturday evening. The reason for the 2 hour plus ride from Los Angeles? Well, almost all of the famous faces on hand are hoping to earn Academy Award nominations later this month or assist a specific film in landing a best picture nod. It's become a staple on the awards season circuit and one reason stars from "American Hustle," "12 Years A Slave," "August: Osage County" and "Gravity" were on hand.
The National Society of Film Critics announced its 2013 honorees this afternoon and gave a much needed boost to the Oscar nomination chances for "Inside Llewyn Davis."
"Davis" earned best film, best director (Joel and Ethan Coen), best actor (Oscar Isaac) and best cinematography (Bruno Delbonnel) honors. The NFSC also gave kudos to "American Hustle's" Jennifer Lawrence for best supporting actress and "Spring Breakers'" James Franco for best supporting actor. Cate Blanchett once again won another best actress honor for "Blue Jasmine."
The NSFC has over 60 members from publications around the nation and their choices have historically not always lineup with their own local critics groups. The past five previous best film winners include "Amour," "Melancholia," "The Social Network," "The Hurt Locker" and "Waltz with Bashir." "The Hurt Locker" and "Million Dollar Baby" are the only films the organization has chosen as best film that also won the Oscar for best picture in the past 20 years. You can find a somewhat dated list of the membership on their official website here.
25 most anticipated prestige films of 2014: 'Inherent Vice,' 'Nymphomaniac,' 'The Grand Budapest Hotel'
Earlier this week, Kris, Greg and Drew put their heads together to compile a list of their 25 most anticipated films of 2014. It was certainly a fine, blockbuster-heavy list, but the cinematic buffet ahead of us stretches a lot further than just 25 films -- so we decided there was room for another list, focusing slightly more on the year's more specialist options.
"We've done pretty much all you can do to a boat," director J.C. Chandor says of his latest film "All is Lost" in an exclusive featurette we're premiering for you today. And indeed, the production of this film was a substantial undertaking from a crafts standpoint and it's a treat to see all of the principals in one video giving their perspective on the film.
The Writers Guild of America (WGA) has announced this year's list of narrative and documentary feature screenplay nominees, and given the wave of ineligibilities, which included such Oscar players as "12 Years a Slave," "Philomena" and "Fruitvale Station," it was a much smaller crop for the guild to choose from.
Hoyte Van Hoytema hit most cinephiles' radar in 2008 with the Swedish horror film "Let the Right One In." It was a dazzling display, a crystalline vision from director Tomas Alfredson aided by rich visuals that found Van Hoytema's work prominently recognized in an annual In Contention feature celebrating the greatest images in cinematography (and again a few years later.)
From there, the director of photography made his move into domestic features as David O. Russell — who has an eye for top cinematography talent, from Newton Thomas Sigel to Peter Deming to Masanobu Takayanagi — tapped him for the award-winning "The Fighter" in 2010. He kept the Alfredson partnership going with the director's 2011 English-language debut "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" and in 2013 found himself collaborating with Spike Jonze on the critically acclaimed "Her."
Sony Pictures Classics is usually the dominant force in the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar race -- they've won the award for the last four years running. But they took a knock when the Academy unveiled the nine-film shortlist last month: with "The Past" and "Wadjda" failing to make the cut, the savvy campaigners were left without a contender in the hunt. Until now. SPC has picked up one of the two distributor-less titles on the list, Hungary's hard-edged Holocaust drama "The Notebook." It was already a strong nomination possibility, given the Academy's seemingly tireless taste for films on that era. Now that it has Sony's undivided attention in this competitive category, however, it's a formidable threat. [Deadline]
"Gravity" picked up another Best Picture prize on the critics circuit today as the Central Ohio Film Critics Association handed it the year's top honor. Alfonso Cuarón won Best Director for the film and Emmanuel Lubezki won Best Cinematography. Top acting honors went to Chiwetel Ejiofor and Adèle Exarchopoulos and James Franco was recognized for his work in "Spring Breakers." Check out the nominees here, the full list of winners below and remember to keep track of the season at The Circuit.
As you may have noticed earlier today, we are now firmly into the Guild stage of the season -- with the critics (bar a few groups, notably the august National Society) having largely had their say, it's time for the industry to pinpoint their favorites of the season. More often than not, Guild nominations usher in a wave of dull consensus: while you'd hope various groups of professional peers would single out different films for different reasons, they have a tendency to zero in on the same tightening circle of Oscar contenders, whether the films particularly excel in their department or not. (Remember when "Sumdog Millionaire" won everything from the SAG ensemble prize to the Costume Designers' Guild award a few years back?)
It's enough of a challenge to capture a life like Nelson Mandela's in a 146-minute film, but how do you use music to reflect such an extraordinary man? That is the challenge that faced composer Alex Heffes on Justin Chadwick's "Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom," and his compositions have since earned him a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Score.