Changes will give more voters a say in the award
Unsurprisingly, considering the minimal theatrical exposure documentary shorts receive even relative to their live-action and animated counterparts, Best Documentary Short annually seems to be the award about which most Oscar watchers (and even some pundits) seem to be the least aware and/or informed. And the same is true within the Academy itself: among the 6000 voting AMPAS members, only a few hundred vote in this particular category.
Honestly, this project seems cursed...
A biopic of late, great stand-up comedian Richard Pryor is clearly a cursed production. Versions with filmmakers like Martin Scorsese and Kasi Lemmons have crashed and burned, even with stars attached. Filmmaker Bill Condon was coming off the $100 million "Dreamgirls" in 2006 and had an honest script in place depicting all the drugs, women and turmoil of Pryor's life, but the hard R rating made it difficult to land financing. It was dark with a capital "D," and stars such as Eddie Murphy, Will Smith and Jamie Foxx balked, further scaring off studios as the project bounced from Fox Searchlight to Paramount.
Magnolia will finally release the divisive film Stateside on April 12
Round about the time we were all waiting breathlessly for "The Tree of Life" to finally land, the idea of a Terrence Malick film bowing simultaneously in theaters and on VOD and iTunes would have seemed pretty far-fetched. But the journey for his follow-up, "To the Wonder," has been different from the off.
Unveiled at Venice without a US distributor, the esoteric love story garnered enough damning reviews to scare off bigger distributors like Fox Searchlight (who had nurtured "Tree"), and was left waiting for some time before finding a home with niche outfit Magnolia Pictures. They were in no hurry to release it, either, wisely skipping the pressures of the 2012 awards season and waiting until the spring -- allowing the UK to be the first territory to release the film, last month. Meanwhile, critical reception for the film has warmed up somewhat since its chilly festival debut, with further champions joining the early defenders.
Though my suggestion: Skip it and go into the movie fresh
Sony Pictures Classics has Richard Linklater's "Before Midnight" primed for a May 24 release. Michael Barker and Tom Bernard picked the film up out of Sundance, reuniting them with the filmmaker they brought to the fore over 20 years ago with "Slacker" via Orion Classics.
The period caper could be out later this year
I kept having to correct myself when writing about "Moonrise Kingdom" last year, as my brain repeatedly leapt to the assumption that it was a Fox Searchlight property -- instead of Focus Features, for which the whimsical youth romance was their biggest prestige triumph of 2012. There was a reason for the error: Searchlight had handled both Anderson's previous features, "The Darjeeling Limited" and "Fantastic Mr. Fox," and "Moonrise" played very much like something in their wheelhouse.
Anyway, I needn't make the same error with Anderson's next film, "The Grand Budapest Hotel." It was announced today that Searchlight have renewed their relationship with the writer-director, and have picked up "Hotel" with an eye to releasing it either in 2014 or late this year.
Scott Rudin will co-produce adaptation of journalist Maziar Bahari's memoir
While the media and cinephiles alike fixate on the films being officially premiered at Cannes, for many others, the festival is all about the market -- a separate insiders' sphere which nonetheless plays a huge role in determining what we're going to see in the months and years to come.
A film can be a hot property at the Cannes market before it even visibly exists, and one yet-to-be-shot title that'll be vying for buyers' attention on the Croisette this year is "Rosewater," the directorial debut of "Daily Show" anchor (and erstwhile Oscar host) Jon Stewart.
David O. Russell was reportedly never really attached to 'The Ends of the Earth'
Remember back on February 19 when The Weinstein Company put out a press release announcing that director David O. Russell would be taking the reins on "The Ends of the Earth," from a script by "Argo" writer Chris Terrio? But the Russell quote in the release said nothing about the project and everything about actress Jennifer Lawrence, who starred in his awards contender "Silver Linings Playbook" and was attached to the project?
"Jennifer possesses a self-deprecating humor that made all of the cast and crew feel at ease," Russell said of the Oscar-nominated (now Oscar-winning) actress in the release. "She is that kind of person. She is the most dedicated person I know. She is devoted to her family and they have been the true inspiration for her character and integrity. Her acting is effortless and she always makes it look easy."
It was a big love letter on the final day of Oscar voting to an actress in the thick of the Oscar conversation…but little more. Terrio was making it clear to journalists that he had no knowledge of any of it and hadn't even met Russell, but entertainment news outlets (yes, including HitFix) ran the news because there was really no reason on the face of it to think the press release was bogus.
But it was. And that's finally coming out now.
Oscar-winning director ruled himself out of the next one, but 'left the door open'
The will-he-won't-he dance between Sam Mendes and the James Bond franchise continues. After the Oscar-winning director steered "Skyfall" to the best critical and commercial returns of the series' 50-year history, it was obvious that the producers would want him to remain on board for the next entry. At one point, it seemed that could be the case: in November, screenwriter Robert Wade hinted that Mendes had devised a plot for the next film with co-writer John Logan, while at last month's BAFTA Awards, sound mixer Scott Milan suggested the director "might" return.
Plus, Korine's increasingly bizarre appearances on the show over the years
Meanwhile, James Franco seems like the hardest working man in show business these days, hitting the publicity circuit for both this film and "Oz the Great and Powerful." One of those stops came last night on David Letterman, during which Franco recalled the "legend" of Harmony Korine getting kicked off the show once upon a time.
"The legend is that he pushed Meryl Streep backstage," Franco said, coaxing Letterman to recall the altercation, which he did.
From Asghar Farhadi to Nicolas Winding Refn, we're counting on a diverse slate
In the blessed six months between the Venice Film Festival and the Academy Awards ceremony -- the Oscar off-season, if you will -- the Cannes Film Festival is the chief hub of speculation and spitballing in the prestige-film racket. As I type this, the blogosphere is already teeming with lists predicting what films will unspool on Croisette in less than two months' time, from heavyweight Hollywood productions to keenly awaited niche items from international auteurs to far-flung obscurities vying to be the next big festival discovery.