Mark Harris' latest Oscar column is, as usual, a good read. The first half of it deals with the already much-discussed Oscar prospects of "Gravity," but things get really interesting when he turns to the Best Actress race, which is in danger of becoming only the second acting category ever to consist wholly of past Oscar winners. (The first, of course, was last year's Supporting Actor lineup.) And that, Harris writes, is "deplorable": "I don't know what's most dispiriting, the strong suggestion the Best Actress field lacks a deep bench, the comparative paucity of opportunities for actresses that a non-deep bench implies, or the assumption that Academy voters are disinclined to look beyond people they already know can give a nice speech." Of course, it doesn't have to be this way. Delpy, Gerwig, Exarchopoulos, Garcia: think outside the box, Academy. [Grantland]
George Clooney's "The Monuments Men" will be among the last of the season's potential Oscar candidates to reveal itself -- skipping the festival circuit, the film will open in the US on the prime holiday-season date of December 18. And while we have little else to go on right now, the project certainly doesn't lack for kerb appeal: a high-gloss Second World War adventure with an all-star cast including Clooney, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Hugh Bonneville and Bob Balaban.
In a film such as Alfonso Cuarón's "Gravity," which takes place in orbit and embraces the reality that "in space, no one can hear you scream" -- or anything else, for that matter -- music was always going to have an expanded role in the experience. The director was very determined from the outset that, like so many other elements in the film, the score would need to serve the immersive ends he was aiming toward. It was always going to be sort of moving around the audience in the theater, making you feel as though you were part of the action taking place on screen.
Let's be frank. Daniel Radcliffe made enough money starring in eight "Harry Potter" films to never have to work a day in his life gain. And, even at 25, that's an intriguing proposition. Instead, like his co-star Emma Watson, Radcliffe has been working his butt off.
The Academy has announced this year's field of contending documentary short subject films for the 86th annual Academy Awards. The crop has been trimmed down to eight, from which five nominees will be chosen.
"Lights. Camera. Action." This phrase is admittedly somewhat of a cliché, but it is iconic because it captures the feel of making a movie. Interesting that two of the three commands are directed to a film’s camera department. Without a camera, there is no cinema. Cinematography is essential, and when done well, from lighting to camera placement and movement to capturing the mood, there is no purer way to bring the director’s vision to screen.
It’s safe to say that reviews for Bill Condon’s WikiLeaks thriller “The Fifth Estate” were not quite what DreamWorks was hoping for when it opened the Toronto Film Festival last month. It was no embarrassment, and a number of critics had kind words for Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance as Julian Assange, but the middling response meant any opening-night buzz was swiftly subsumed by the prestige films that followed. (In contrast, “Gravity” opened Venice and was still a talking point by the festival’s close.)
The cast of Steve McQueen's acclaimed new drama "12 Years a Slave" is something of a wonder. Whether it's the remarkable work of Chiwetel Ejiofor as kidnapped freeman Solomon Northup or Michael Fassbender as the shockingly inhumane plantation owner Edwin Epps or Best Supporting Actress contender Lupita Nyong'o, the film features some of the most riveting performances of the year. What has gone slightly unheralded, however, are the fantastic smaller turns by the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Paul Dano and Alfre Woodard. And, the always wonderful Ms. Sarah Paulson.