Unique set of winners includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Amy Ryan
The Utah Film Critics Association has chosen "Drive" as the Best Picture of the year. The film also won Best Supporting Actor for Albert Brooks and Best Cinematography. The group handed two awards to Jonathan Levine's "50/50," Best Actor for Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Best Original Screenplay. Check out the full list of winners below.
Also: Brad Bird's winter playlist and Kim Jong-il on film
With travel and near-terminal laptop trouble consuming the last two days for me, I was late getting to Indiewire's 2011 critics' poll, the most comprehensive collective of its type, and one in which Kris and I both participated. The results are unsurprising, but no less gratifying for it -- I'm particularly pleased to see "Margaret" scoring in the Top 10, while Anna Paquin, Jeannie Berlin and Kenneth Lonergan's screenplay all place in the top three of their respective fields. Additionally, they collected some observations from participants about the year in film: I muse on the British auteur revival, Mike D'Angelo celebrates the Team Margaret hashtag phenomenon and Richard Brody tackles the distribution racket. Fun reading all round. [Indiewire]
Will the new prequels find similar luck in the awards season?
Nearly eight years ago, the Academy Awards saw one of the great clean sweeps of all time as "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" walked away with the 11 Oscars for which it was nominated. The grand release at the end of a three-year journey that saw a total of 30 Oscar nominations and 17 wins, the film was the bow on a lucrative, critically acclaimed series that could only again be matched by the same unique mixture.
After legal disputes and a non-starting try with a different filmmaker at the helm, audiences will again be treated to that same unique mixture after all as the Peter Jackson-directed "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" hits theaters in one year's time, with a part two, "There and Back Again," to follow in 2013. And with the release of the first full trailer for the former, one can't help but wonder: will Oscar come calling again?
Olivier Litondo and Viola Davis win top acting honors
The Black Film Critics Circle has chosen "The Help" as the best film of the year. The film won four other awards, including Best Actress for Viola Davis. "Pariah" director Dee Rees won Best Director, one of three awards for the film. And Albert Brooks added yet another honor to his mantle. Check out the full list of winners below.
And Melissa McCarthy gets another feather in her cap
The Women Film Critics Circle has come out in strong favor of “The Help,” “The Iron Lady” and “The Whistleblower.” The association (which consists of 57 female film critics and scholars) has made selections that feel generally in line with the films and performances one would imagine ought to be be highlighted in this year’s landscape.
I will confess that their choices are seasoned with one or two surprises. Having said that, organizations such a this one are absolutely crucial. One hopes that enough balance will be achieved that they eventually become irrelevant. But as Melissa Silverstein pointed out in a November 17 Women and Hollywood article on The Hollywood Reporter’s directors roundtable, the feminine voice is still by-and-large underserved.
There are no real shakeups in the Best Film By A Woman category, which resulted in a tie between “The Iron Lady” and “We Need to Talk About Kevin." Both have been in the larger critical conversation, though primarily for the performances of their respective leads. Adapted from the novel by Kathryn Stockett by her childhood friend Tate Taylor, “The Help” feels like a no-brainer for a strong depiction of women (which is what I assume is meant by Best Movie About Women), as well as Best Ensemble. Viola Davis’s Best Actress win is another tip in a very tight Best Actress field.
Getting into the holiday spirit
This article first appeared in part at InContention.com on December 23, 2008. It seemed like a good time to re-purpose it for new readers here at HitFix and to give the usual list-making shenanigans a rest for a week.
Tis the season, no?
I don’t have the heart to call this a “best” list per se. So I'm giving it a different angle. Every year I have a few staples of the season that make their way into my DVD player or, in some instances — gasp! — my VCR, like new friends come home to visit before going back on the shelf for another 12-month stretch.
While the films on my list might not be the "best" Christmas movies or, in some cases, even considered Christmas movies, they are my Christmas movies. Typically, I just can’t feel right about the holiday season without making my way through each of them at least once. They’ve slowly gelled into my “must-watch” Christmas movie list for various reasons: reminiscence, unavoidable television programming, uniqueness in the face of the typical seasonal film glut, etc.
Also: Multiple identities in 'Dragon Tattoo' and a Best Picture nom for 'Bridesmaids?'
I find myself a little mystified by Stephen Daldry's "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," and not just because I haven't seen it yet. Usually, at this late point in the season, we have some idea if previously mooted Oscar bait is in the mix or dead on arrival, if it's closer to "The Artist" or, say, "The Lovely Bones." But with this one, the signals are still all over the place. Reviews are predictably divided, but so are the precursors: the BFCA, always sniffing for potential Oscar hopefuls, placed some stock in it, but SAG and the Globes didn't bite. Michael Cieply investigates the film's curious campaign strategy, revealing that the HFPA was "deeply split" on the film. [New York Times]
'A Separation' breaks into the top races, Paquin and Lonergan score for 'Margaret'
I feel a bit awkward commenting on a set of critics' award nominations that I had a hand in voting for -- any credit or blame for the choices can only bounce back to me and my colleagues in the London Film Critics' Circle. Happily, in this case, it's mostly credit: I realize how absurdly self-congratulatory this sounds, but for my money, this is the strongest of the countless such nominee lists that have been released in the past few weeks.
What can I say? I'm proud that the LFCC is the first group to promote Asghar Farhadi's Iranian Oscar entry "A Separation" from the foreign-language ghetto to the Best Film category. (It scored five nods overall, including a pleasantly surprising Supporting Actress bid for Sareh Bayat.) I'm proud that Kenneth Lonergan was recognized for the screenplay of late-breaking critics' cause "Margaret," while Anna Paquin made it into the Best Actress field. I'm pleased that Kirsten Dunst (look out for my interview with her later this week) cracked the same category for "Melancholia," while more obvious candidates, including Viola Davis, were left out. Critics should be there to mix up the awards race, not handicap it.
Discussing the function of awards and the ecstatic agony of the creative process
Kenneth Branagh embraced what he describes as potentially “dangerously obvious” casting with his portrayal of Sir Laurence Olivier in “My Week with Marilyn.” The actor has, of course, quite notably been compared to Olivier throughout the course of his career. He was given the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award in 1983 for Most Promising Newcomer. Both he and Olivier directed themselves as “Hamlet” and “Henry V” and both men often directed the women that they were involved with and/or married to.
Branagh has been nominated for four Academy Awards (Best Actor and Best Director for “Henry V” in 1990, Best Live Action Short for “Swan Song” in 1992 and Best Adapted Screenplay for “Hamlet” in 1996), but has yet to secure a win. Olivier himself was granted an honorary award in 1979 for the full body of his work. It would be somehow poetic if Branagh were to take home the Best Supporting Actor statue for his depiction of the man that paved the road for much of the trajectory of his own career.
Madonna out, 'Our Idiot Brother' in
The Academy has announced via press release the 39 eligible songs eligible for this year's Best Original Song Oscar. As I look over the list, I only noticed two songs on our on-going list of 24 at the Contenders section that didn't make the cut.
The first is "Fake I.D." from the "Footloose" remake, which I guess it was written prior to the film or something. The other is Madonna's Golden Globe-nominated "Masterpiece" from "W.E.," which you'll recall I had a hunch might be in trouble because it's the second cue of the film's closing credits (and the rules stipulate that if it's a closing credits number, it has to be the first cue).
All three tracks submitted by "The Muppets" are on there, and that's really where the story is, because at the end of the day, I expect there to be two of them in the mix. Which two is anyone's guess, but my favorite has always been "Pictures in My Head."