Guild favorite "Argo" may be closing in on "Lincoln" in the Best Adapted Screenplay race, but even if it continues its sweep, the WGA has ensured Tony Kushner won't go home empty-handed on February 17. The "Lincoln" scribe will be presented with the group's Paul Selvin Award for the script that "best embodies the spirit of the constitutional and civil rights and liberties, which are indispensable to the survival of free writers everywhere." If that award sounds pretty much tailor-made for "Lincoln" (hey, it wasn't going to go to "Django Unchained") it isn't: last year's winner was Tate Taylor for "The Help." [Deadline]
I confess it's news to me that the costume designers of the Academy didn't already have their own separate voting branch -- instead, they've always been lumped into a single Designers' Branch with the production designers, art directors and set decorators. Yet nominees in the Best Costume Design category are often so distinctive -- several of them scoring in no other Oscar field, even Best Art Direction -- that I'd assumed they were the result of a smaller branch of peers voting.
I have to say, it was nice to spend a week or so away from the Oscar fray, and for its part, the Oscar fray seemed to be very content with putting things on hold while the Sundance Film Festival did its thing in the mountains of Utah. I guess maybe that's one good thing about this season's scheduling change: room to breathe in January.
But the festival is over and now it's back to our regularly scheduled programming, with the deep dive happening this weekend as the guild awards got going. And the question rises once again: What's going to win Best Picture? Though that would seem to have been answered by the events of the last two days, it's still a question for some.
But I'll leave that for now. Lately I've been curious about the Best Director race. With an "Argo" win would obviously come a split director decision (unless that write-in stuff finds traction). My instinct has been Steven Spielberg, because "Lincoln" is a hell of an accomplishment and even if I'm betting "Argo" will reap the benefits of the preferential ballot system (born out by its victory Saturday), it still makes sense for Spielberg to get some love.
With the exhausting thrill of Sundance still in my bones, I'm not quite ready yet to think about diving into the Berlin Film Festival -- but there it is, less than two weeks away. The programme has been revealed in drips and drabs, and today we learned who'll serve alongside present Wong Kar-wai on the competition jury. As usual, it's an interesting group, and one that includes two Oscar winners: Tim Robbins and Danish writer-director Susanne Bier. Meanwhile, the addition presence of the superb cinematographer Ellen Kuras ("Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"). Iranian video artist turned filmmaker Shirin Neshat and Greek New Wave talent Athina Rachel Tsangrai (director of "Attenberg," but also a producer on Richard Linklater's "Before Midnight") makes for a mostly female jury this year. [Berlinale]
I've been out most of the evening but some quick thoughts on tonight's SAG outcome...
"Argo" is the story of the weekend, clearly. After coming out victorious at the PGA Awards it picked up the ensemble prize that everyone had either chalked up to "Lincoln" or "Silver Linings Playbook," with some outliers thinking "Les Misérables" had a shot at it. Surprise!
The Producers Guild of America (PGA) has crowned Ben Affleck's "Argo" with this year's Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures. Affleck received the award along with co-producers George Clooney and Grant Heslov.
SANTA BARBARA - As "Argo" star and director Ben Affleck took the stage of the Arlington Theatre last night to begin a two-hour Modern Master Award fete at the 28th annual Santa Barbara Film Festival, he settled into that on-going self-effacing tone immediately. "Ben Affleck, career retrospective," he said. "That could go one of two ways."
Indeed, the usual reminder reel of accomplishments that kicked off the evening was set to the Foo Fighters' "Walk," with lyrics ringing a note of redemption: "I think I lost my way," "getting good at starting over," "learning to walk again," "I believe I've waited long enough, where do I begin."
And maybe that angle is slightly played out to some at this point. How much can you really feel for a millionaire who cashed in early on and wants to be taken seriously as a craftsman now? That's a point of view for the cynical, though.
Affleck, who talked with moderator Leonard Maltin about getting the acting bug early and relishing the responsibility and commitment of the job, said he was pulled aside once and given a speech of encouragement by an acting mentor that has stuck with him and gave him a leg up into the early stages of his career. Lately, as he's looked to transition from tabloid beefcake to respected filmmaker, another vote of confidence wouldn't be misplaced. And that's what he's been getting every step of the way this season -- well, from everyone save the Academy's directors branch.
The nominations for the César Awards -- the French film industry's answer to the Oscars -- were announced this morning, and most of the top contenders were easily seen coming: Oscar hopeful "Amour" received nine nominations, as did historical drama "Farewell My Queen," while "Rust and Bone" and "Holy Motors" scored eight apiece. The field leader, however, may come as a surprise to non-French observers: actress-director Noemie Lvovsky's time-travel comedy "Camille Rewinds," still little seen outside its home country, racked up a massive 13 nods.
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.
As I mentioned at the fest, I think the film with the most awards potential to come out of Sundance this year is Richard Linklater's "Before Midnight." Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actress and maybe even Best Actor and Best Picture could be in the cards. It just needs the right nuanced campaign.
Lionsgate was hovering. Fox Searchlight seemed like a good fit and was probably in the mix, but they sure did drop a lot on "The Way Way Back." So it was Sony Pictures Classics, which was busy at the fest with acquisitions of "Austenland" and "Kill Your Darlings," that grabbed the title for what is said to be well into the seven figure range.