No one needs awards coverage this deep
A quartet of Oscar-winning filmmakers hold out on the season
I mentioned this on the podcast Friday and in a column recently, I think, but the lull has been considerable this year, it seems. The waiting for late-season contenders, I mean. It's subjective. Maybe I'm just coming from a weird perspective. But enough of it has to do with the four big remaining entries -- "Django Unchained," "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," "Les Misérables" and "Zero Dark Thirty" -- having been watched like a hawk as they race toward completion.
There has been this and that in the interim. Since the New York Film Festival dropped "Flight," "Life of Pi" and "Lincoln" onto the season we've gotten "Hitchcock" (which I liked), "This is 40" (Judd Apatow's richest work) and "Promised Land" (which has been shown a few times -- I'm seeing it today). But mostly it's been anticipation for what the aforementioned quartet will have to offer the season.
Also: Playing down the 'Skyfall' Oscar buzz, and a look at the doc feature race
We all know genre films don't usually get the respect they deserve from the Academy, and the same goes for the actors in them: when pressed for options, voters will nominate a Sigourney Weaver in "Aliens," but they're generally more comfortable filling out the ballot with sundry biopics and prestige dramas. Geoff Berkshire wishes that would change this year, citing Liam Neeson in "The Grey," Mark Ruffalo in "The Avengers" and Christopher Walken in "Seven Psychopaths" as examples of actors who "elevated the material" with their performances. (Perhaps the problem lies in the perception that genre material even needs elevation?) I'd throw Elizabeth Olsen in "Silent House," Javier Bardem in "Skyfall" and assorted supporting players in "Killing Them Softly" into the mix -- how about you? [The Vote]
Joe Wright's Leo Tolstoy adaptation rolls out this weekend
Also opening in limited release this weekend is Joe Wright's "Anna Karenina." I was personally quite taken with the film, which is boldly realized and a cinematic flourish that hopefully doesn't get forgotten as the awards season forges on. Guy was a bit less impressed when the film opened in the UK a few months back, but found it "adventurous" all the same. But let's hear what you have to say. Offer up your thoughts in the comments section below when/if you catch the film over the next few weeks. And as always, feel free to rate it above.
David O. Russell's rom-com Oscar play hits theaters this weekend
After dazzling in Toronto (where it won the audience award) and picking up steam at this fest and that, David O. Russell's "Silver Linings Playbook" finally hits theaters this weekend in limited release. It will continue to platform throughout the holiday and more and more of you will see it, I'm sure, so I'd love to gauge your reactions. I haven't written much at all because I just don't have much to say. It doesn't inspire me like it does others. I found it to be slightly above the average of its genre, though Bradley Cooper's performance is a pleasant surprise. But let's hear what you think. Feel free to rate the film above as well.
The Oscar-winner also weighs on on the Academy's new documentary rules
From misplaced questions to accidental transcription errors, interview fumbles are obviously to be avoided under any circumstances, but you particularly want to be on your game when the subject is one of America's preeminent documentarians – someone whose own profession is built on a level of journalistic expertise. So you can imagine my mortification when my iPhone recently took it upon itself to wipe its own memory clean – deleting, among other things, all aural evidence of my face-to-face conversation with Alex Gibney at last month's London Film Festival.
The prolific filmmaker, an Oscar-winner in 2007 for his devastating legalized-torture study “Taxi to the Dark Side,” was in town for the European premiere of his superb new film “Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God,” which would win him the festival's Best Documentary award the very next day. The film, which hits US theaters today, is not the first to examine the horrific history of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, but it is arguably the most penetrating, methodically tracing a dense network of crime and cover-up all the way from Milwaukee to the Vatican itself. It could well earn Gibney a deserved third Oscar nod.
The newly opened showcase runs through June of next year
LOS ANGELES – If LA film lovers are looking for something to do this holiday, look no further than the Stanley Kubrick exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. A touring treasure trove of artifacts from the famed filmmaker's career that has already made stops all over the world, from Frankfurt to Berlin, Melbourne to Ghent, Zurich to Rome, Paris to Amsterdam, it has set up shop in LA through June 30, 2013 and is well worth the $20 admission price.
As soon as you walk through the giant glass doors you're met with a career spanning three shorts and 16 features, including the uncompleted "Napoleon" and "Aryan Papers," as well as the Steven Spielberg-directed "A.I.: Artificial Intelligence," which Kubrick developed. A pair of video walls in a dark room greet you first, with clips from a number of films to get you in the right frame of mind. Then the journey really begins.
Also: Surveying Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Welcome to Oscar Talk.
In case you're new to the site and/or the podcast, Oscar Talk is a weekly kudocast, your one-stop awards chat shop between yours truly and Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood. The podcast is weekly, every Friday 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.
Also: American Cinematheque honors Ben Stiller, and celebrating 'Argo' attire
With Best Supporting Actress still the least defined of this year's four acting races, Helen Hunt currently seems as likely a frontrunner as anyone for her work in "The Sessions": partly because she's excellent in a well-liked film, and partly because, as Jennifer Hudson can attest, it doesn't hurt to be nominated in supporting for a lead role. Hunt's trophy trail began yesterday with the announcement that she is to receive the Spotlight Award at January's Palm Springs International Film Festival. It's an honor that has previously alighted on Jessica Chastain and Amy Adams en route to an Oscar nod, and while seemingly small, it's a well-timed opportunity for some California-based exposure and gladhanding as the race heats up. Everything counts. [Thompson on Hollywood]
1970s memory piece is being released elsewhere as 'After May'
From "Irma Vep" to "Demonlover" to "Summer Hours," Olivier Assayas has been one of the world's most vital filmmakers for some time now, but it seems many only caught wise to his gifts two years ago with "Carlos," his galvanizing five-hour biopic of infamous 1970s political terrorist Carlos the Jackal. Thanks to its unusual release both in cinemas and as a TV miniseries, the film managed to win Assayas a slew of US critics' awards, a TV Golden Globe and even an Emmy nomination. (If that wasn't surreal enough, he lost to "Downton Abbey.")
It'll be interesting to see if the Frenchman's newly acquired admirers follow him to "Something in the Air," a softer, woozier, faintly autobiographical reflection on an equivalent period of 1970s radicalism to "Carlos." You may also know the film as "After May," a literal translation of the French title being used in other territories. It's also the one used in the first international trailer for the film, which we're pleased to premiere below -- by kind permission of Australian distributor Palace Films.
A shimmery ensemble piece casting its gaze upon a group of teenage activists variously finding their own place in the post-1968 countercultural war, it takes more cues from Assayas' 1994 breakthrough feature "Cold Water." IFC Films is releasing the film Stateside in 2013; Artificial Eye will be doing the honors in the UK.
The category gets a name change as a varied field takes shape
A couple of weeks ago, I commented on how Best Production Design is a welcome name change for the category previously known as Best Art Direction. It is not the only such change this year, as the award for Best Makeup is now finally called Best Makeup and Hairstyling.
For years, I have said that the hairstyling portion of this award has been neglected. Whether the sorts of films that get nominated will change remains an open question. But at the very least, this should highlight for the public that the category isn't all about prosthetics and foundation.
This remains a unique category in that there are only three nominees. Moreover, said nominees are chosen from a group of seven finalists that are announced in the weeks leading up to the nominations. Voters from the branch view bake-off reels on the work done in those seven films before choosing the nominees.