"Oh Lars, that was intense." Those were the words famously muttered by a mortified Kirsten Dunst after his infamous 2011 Cannes press conference, though I imagine many will say something similar after viewing the trailer the Danish provocateur dropped today for "Nymphomaniac." And the bomb-like implications of the verb "dropped" are fully applicable here: a brief but direct close-up of a plucked vagina sets the tone for a two-minute taster that was plainly calculated to generate maximum chatter about the all-star sex epic, and is already doing its job admirably.
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…
Hardly a week goes by in the awards season without someone or other lobbying for a new Oscar category. But while the likes of Woody Allen are calling for casting Oscars, Jason Statham is joining the chorus for to see stunt work recognized by the Academy: Jason Statham calls for an Oscar category for stunt artists. The British action man rants: “I think it is an overlooked category ... Nobody is giving them any credibility. They’re risking their necks. And then you’ve got poncy actors pretending like they’re doing [the stunts] ... It’s like a farce." Of course, SAG has a stunt award, but I'm not convinced many Academy voters would know how to judge the category. [Vanity Fair]
LOS ANGELES — If you've ever met Lee Daniels or seen an interview with him, you'd quickly ascertain that the director of "Precious" and "The Butler" is his own force of nature. He has a charisma and passion that has helped fuel his success as a filmmaker. So, to be fair, only a true diva could upstage him and especially on a night he's receiving a prestigious lifetime achievement award.
Enter Jane Fonda.
Tuesday morning Film Independent will announce this year's list of nominees for the 29th annual Spirit Awards. There are certainly a lot of opportunities to right some of the slights made by the Independent Film Project's list of Gotham Award nominees, revealed a few weeks ago, and plenty of considerations to be taken into account besides.
Welcome to the second year of Best "Makeup and Hairstyling." Last year’s long overdue official addition of hairstylists to the title of this category did not officially change anything; hairstylists had always been rewarded. But it was nice to see the recognition in the name.
Did that affect who was nominated? In this extremely unique category (with only three nominees), probably not, but one never knows as "Les Misérables" trumped "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" and "Hitchcock" for the win. This branch loves aging, monster makeup, period makeup and transforming famous actors into famous persons and there's plenty of all of that on display this season.
Another day, another Palm Springs Film Festival award announcement. The fest's latest honoree is Steve McQueen, who has been named Director of the Year for "12 Years a Slave," and will receive the prize at an awards gala on January 4. For those of you keeping score, the British filmmaker joins Matthew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock and Career Achievement Award winner Bruce Dern on the winners' list. As with the other Palm Springs awards, the director prize usually goes to an imminent Oscar nominee, though last year's recipient, Robert Zemeckis for "Flight," was an exception. “[McQueen] is a master of utilizing the senses to create the essence of his works," says Palm Springs chief Harold Metzner. [PSIFF]
The procession of publicity materials for Lars von Trier's "Nymphomaniac" has been so long and complex that I'm not only beginning to lose track of which ones I have and haven't seen -- though I've maintained a blanket avoidance of the clips and trailers thus far -- but find myself wondering if there's actually a film behind all the, er, foreplay. I rather hope there is, since "Nymphomaniac"'s seemingly ceaseless campaign hasn't yet succeeded in dulling my anticipation for von Trier's gargantuan sex epic: I'm a Lars die-hard, admittedly, but the sheer brazen loopiness of this project on paper would have me intrigued even as an agnostic.
Last month we broke the news that Warner Bros. will be submitting the short film "Aningaaq," a companion piece to Alfonso Cuarón's "Gravity" directed by Jonás Cuarón, for Oscar consideration in the Best Live Action Short race. We also talked to the father and son about what the thought process was behind the piece. Today, well ahead of the film's DVD/Blu-ray release, it looks like you can have a look at the short yourself.
The Independent Filmmaker Project announced today that the late James Gandolfini will be presented with a tribute at the upcoming Gotham Awards in New York by actor Steve Buscemi. He joins previously announced tributees Forest Whitaker, Richard Linklater and Katherine Oliver.