A few years back, I think it was at the 2011 Santa Barbara film festival, I asked Christopher Nolan (then making the rounds for "Inception") if he could ever see himself heading back to the Independent Spirit Awards with a modest piece of work. After all, the director got his start at Slamdance in Park City, with the 1999 entry "Following," and again a couple years later with "Memento," which would later be recognized at the Spirits.
Welcome to Oscar Talk.
In case you're new to the site and/or the podcast, Oscar Talk is your one-stop awards chat shop between yours truly and Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood. The podcast is broadcast in special installments throughout the season, charting the ups and downs of contenders along the way. Plenty of things change en route to Oscar's stage and we're here to address it all as it unfolds.
On the docket today…
Spike Jonze's "Her" has been on limited release for the better part of a month now, but it finally goes wide today -- so those of you still left out of the loop can now find out why a film in which Joaquin Phoenix falls for a computer has attracted such critical superlatives across the board, as well as Best Picture prizes from the Los Angeles Film Critics' Association and National Board of Review.
I'm firmly in the fan club, having named it one of my top 15 films of 2013: I was touched by its high-concept romance, which I think touches on a number of hard truths about the way we communicate (or, more often don't) in the online age, was tickled by the gorgeous retro-futurism of its visuals, and think Joaquin Phoenix delivers one of the performances of the year. (Props to Scarlett Johansson's deft voice work, too, though I think Amy Adams is the unsung heroine of the piece.) Kris, however, is less convinced. Where do you land? Share your thoughts in the comments, and vote in the poll below.
After what has been universally acknowledged as a banner year for black filmmakers and black-themed cinema, the NAACP Image Awards -- usually an awards haven for popular film in the Tyler Perry vein -- have an unusual amount of prestige titles to recognize this year. Oscar frontrunner "12 Years a Slave," of course, figures heavily into the equation with six nominations, but its Lee Daniels' summer sleeper hit "The Butler" that leads the way with eight.
The American Cinema Editors (ACE) organization has announced nominees for the 64th annual ACE Eddie Awards, and "American Hustle" has predictably kept its strong guild showing going with a notice in the comedy or musical category.
For a while now, awards-watchers have noted the transformation of BAFTA from a quirky British outsider to a fairly slavish Oscar follower in the awards race -- and it turns out some voters have too. One, in particular, has anonymously admonished the organization (himself included) for dishonest voting: "The voting process is based less on artistic merit than on a combination of coercion, trend-following and pot luck ... Bafta voting guidelines state explicitly that you must only vote for films you have seen. Which makes perfect sense. But I've done it. And I bet everyone else has, too. You vote for the ones you think are going to win. We're sheep. And we follow the sheep in front of us ... It's why the same old names appear year after year." Not exactly a revelation, this, nor is it is exclusive to BAFTA. [The Guardian]
Sunday night brings the 71st annual Golden Globe Awards. Members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association will have their (and their various whisperers') say on the awards season in the form of wins in a variety of categories, on both the film and television side. Who will turn out the night's big winner? Will "Gravity," "12 Years a Slave" or "American Hustle" take command of the Oscar race? Will "Breaking Bad" get one more big send-off? Find out the answers to those questions and more as Gregory Ellwood, Guy Lodge, Daniel Fienberg and I place our bets on the various races, and tune in Sunday night to see who was right, and who was wrong.
Here we go again. A week from today, the nominees for the 86th annual Academy Awards will be announced. Here at Tech Support, we've analyzed each of the 10 crafts categories, and interviewed several of the contenders. It's now a waiting game with final calls to be made. Today, we take a final look at the fields of cinematography, music, makeup and hairstyling and visual effects.
The other day somebody asked me what my money was on for the Best Documentary Feature Oscar, and I realized I had no answer. Unlike last year, when "Searching for Sugar Man" swept all before it on its way to the Oscar podium, documentary honors have been generously dispersed this season -- and that trend of spreading the wealth continued at last night's Cinema Eye Honors in New York.
The USC Scripter Awards are one of the more interesting precursor awards on the circuit, recognizing as they do two different forms of authorship. Sometimes mistaken for a direct equivalent of the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, they are in fact limited to films based on published source material, rewarding both the screenwriter responsible for the adaptation and the author of the original text. (That means Oscar contenders like "Before Midnight" and "August: Osage County" are out of the picture.)