Also: Armond attacks the embargo and a wordsmith admires the silence of 'The Artist'
The SAG ensemble award is a strange beast, one that has made official nominees of such noted thespians as Gwen Stefani, Eli Roth and the RZA, sometimes at the expense of more accomplished colleagues. A quirk that causes trouble every year is their rigid but random method of determining which actors are key players in the ensemble, a screen credit issue that often leaves valued players out in the cold. This year, Corey Stoll, whose hilarious performance as Ernest Hemingway made him, for many critics, the MVP of “Midnight in Paris,” wasn’t included in the film’s ensemble nod, while Carla Bruni, perfectly fine in her bit part as a museum guide, was. Go figure. Nathaniel Rogers ponders this and other injustices, gets a diplomatic (but clearly vexed) response from Stoll, and offers a sensible solution. [Film Experience]
How Sergei Eisenstein's 'Ivan the Terrible' stuck with him
Earlier this morning I had a nice sit-down with "Hugo" star Ben Kingsley. Sir Ben Kingsley, I beg your pardon. It was a nice back and forth about working with Martin Scorsese, the dynamics of acting with a child actor, being sparked creatively by the set design of the film and more. I'll try to have that for you tomorrow or Friday, but for now, a nugget regarding Kingsley's cinematic awakening.
"Hugo," of course, is Scorsese's ode to the art form, ultimately a bit of a history lesson on its earliest beginnings and a study in passion through the prism of film preservation. Kingsley recalled seeing a great many films as a school boy and admits his knowledge of film history is all the more nourished for having collaborated with Scorsese on two occasions, now, last year's (criminally underrated) "Shutter Island" being the first.
I asked him if he could recall anything that really jumped out from those formative years where a passion for the cinema was concerned.
Acting winners include Michael Shannon and Brit Marling
After recently releasing a list of nominees, the San Diego Film Critics Society has announced "The Artist" as Best Picture of the year. Though the film won nothing else from the group. Nicolas Winding Refn took the Best Director honor for "Drive," which is becoming consistent. Check out the full list of winners below.
Offer up your burning queries
You know the drill. We're back to business as usual this week after last Friday's top 10 edition of Oscar Talk. We'll be addressing "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close," as well as the week in awards announcements. Rifle off your need-to-knows aside from that and we'll address a few on the show.
He'll be awarded for his work in 'The Tree of Life' and 'Moneyball'
It looks like the Palm Springs International Film Festival has chosen its Oscar stallion for the year. Brad Pitt has been selected to receive the Desert Palm Achievement Actor Award for his lead role in "Moneyball" and his supporting role in "The Tree of Life."
As has oft been discussed, Palm Springs's tendency toward predictive selections for its honorees has only increased over time. When the festival announced that Michelle Williams would be this year’s female awardee, we pointed out that the male recipient of the Desert Palm Achievement Award has gone on to win the Academy Award for Best Actor for four straight years. Will this be the fifth?
I am an admirer of Pitt’s work. I respect that he took a career that could have been vanilla ice cream and shaped it into something unique. He makes interesting choices. He has grown over time and been willing to do so. That takes a particular kind of will and character. It amazes me how often people continue to dismiss him as an actor because he happens to be an extraordinarily good-looking movie star. I would prefer to see his work in “The Tree of Life” honored this year, but I would not be surprised to see him nominated in both fields.
We predict 'The Artist' to come out tops in tomorrow's Golden Globe nods
We offered you a space to share your Screen Actors' Guild and Golden Globe predictions yesterday -- but since the majority of you had only SAG on the brain then, here's another chance for you to spitball the Globes list. They're always a fun lot predict, mostly because of the comedy/musical categories: even with a stronger field of industry favorites in the running this year, there's still plenty of room for them to throw in a star-baiting head-scratcher. Julia Roberts in "Larry Crowne?" Johnny Depp in "The Rum Diary?" Take your pick.
I've set the ball rolling with my own predictions across all their film categories. One doesn't need a crystal ball to tell that "The Artist" is set to have another strong morning: I'm expecting it to top the list with six nods, while the Best Drama category looks rather modest by comparison. Will "War Horse," "Hugo" and "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" bounce back after being totally blanked in today's SAG list? And why do I have a funny feeling that "Drive" could spring a surprise here? Take a look at my best guesses after the jump, and share yours in the comments.
With 'The Iron Lady' on the way, we look back on the actress's career highlights
What is there left to say about Meryl Streep at this point that someone else hasn’t said already? At the age of 62, the actress who was already earning ‘all-time greatest’ citations decades earlier, has the career most of her contemporaries can only dream of.
Still in favor with critics, recently celebrated with a Kennedy Center honor and working like a demon, she is, even more remarkably, a bigger box-office draw than she ever was: pulling vast and varied audiences into the theater for such commercial juggernauts as “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Mamma Mia!,” she breaks every conceivable rule that has been established for middle-aged women in Hollywood. (One imagines Madeline Ashton, the vain, ageing, largely untalented leading lady she played nearly 20 years ago in “Death Becomes Her,” veritably seething with envy.)
She has, of course, broken her own record many times over to amass an astonishing 16 Oscar nominations: a 17th is undoubtedly on the way for her latest headlining role, as the reviled, long-serving British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in Phyllida Lloyd’s biopic “The Iron Lady.” The performance has already netted her a fifth New York Film Critics’ Circle Award – another rare distinction in a career not short of them, and an obvious subject for another installment of The Lists.
Widening the net in our annual year in review
With today's Screen Actors Guild announcement, we've officially moved onto the next stage of awards season, when the industry has its say and shares the spotlight a bit with the critics. I was happy to see that a few extraneous elements of the season (Demián Bichir, Jonah Hill) got some recognition and kept things fresh, because that's precisely why I decided to transition the annual "If I Had a Ballot" feature into something more thorough.
In its stead, The Longlists are just that: a series of lists in various categories featuring what I thought was the top echelon of each. I trotted out 10, rather than the Oscar-centric five, throughout.
If you missed it, Monday I wrote up my list of the year's 10 best films. Friday brings a final wrap-up with year-end superlatives in the categories below as well as a few others. And soon enough, it'll be 2012 and the year will officially be a memory. But the season will forge on.
The actor recently commented on losing his long-time friend and mentor
Somehow the embargo on "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" ended up extending at the last minute to the post-screening Q&A that accompanied last week's screening at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, a first, as far as I can recall. I couldn't even pass along this nugget, completely unrelated to the film.
Bizarre, I know, but I'll dig it up for you now in any case. I figure some comments made by Max von Sydow will be of some interest to cinephiles.
The line-up consisted of stars von Sydow, Thomas Horn and Sandra Bullock, as well as director Stephen Daldry and screenwriter Eric Roth. Daldry commandeered the Q&A from moderator Pete Hammond for a bit at one point and, amid discussion about where each of them were on 9/11 and considerations of grieving (ugh), he asked von Sydow about how he was able to handle the loss of long-time collaborator, mentor and friend, director Ingmar Bergman, in 2007.
Prominent snubs for Fassbender, Theron, Brooks and Woodley
Things I correctly predicted in this morning's Screen Actors' Guild nominations list: "Midnight in Paris" and "Bridesmaids" landing nominations in an unusually comedy-heavy Best Ensemble slate; "The Help" coming out on top with four nominations, including (hurrah!) a supporting bid for multi-tasker Jessica Chastain; Glenn Close's ailing Best Actress campaign for "Albert Nobbs" getting a boost with recognition from her fellow actors; "The Descendants" breakout Shailene Woodley getting the cold shoulder in the supporting actress category; and "Young Adult," "Hugo," "War Horse" and "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" among the films frozen out entirely.
Things I (and, as far as I can tell, everyone else) did not predict: a Best Actor nomination for Mexican veteran character actor Demián Bichir, whose performance as a hard-up immigrant worker in Chris Weitz's indie "A Better Life" was praised to the skies by critics upon its release in June, but was widely considered to be a forgotten factor in the Oscar race. No more. By landing a nod ahead of more heavily buzzed dark horses, Michaels Fassbender and Shannon, Bichir is a new player to watch in a field that currently has only three surefire Oscar nominees.