No one needs awards coverage this deep
A 1928 Best Picture nominee by Ernst Lubitsch is still at large
Fixating as we do on the seasonal ins and outs of the Oscar process, it’s easy to forget that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has a purpose beyond handing out gold stars to the industry’s great and good. As an organization dedicated both to the development and preservation of the medium, they have fostered a wealth of films and archive materials that have scant relationship to the Academy Awards. Little wonder they warmed so to the film-preservation paean that was “Hugo” last year.
Still, when their archiving obligations overlap with celebration of the awards that made them famous, it’s an irresistible promotional opportunity for AMPAS. Hence the launch of their Oscar’s Most Wanted movement, which seeks to complete their library of every single film, short or feature-length, that was once graced with the golden man’s touch.
Offer up your burning queries
You know the drill. Oscar Talk is back tomorrow with a new installment so if you have any burning questions, offer them here. We'll be talking NYFF and "Life of Pi," the weekend's releases and this and that. Rifle off your need-to-knows and we'll try to address a few in the podcast.
Your awards hub for film, TV and music
The move to HitFix has put us right at the center of some exciting developments on the film awards coverage side of things, and one of those elements was revealed yesterday. We've established a separate Awards Channel that will serve as your hub for all of HitFix's awards coverage, whether it's music, TV or film. We've got your Grammy, Emmy and Oscar fix.
In addition to circulating all of our content in this spectrum, the channel also offers the usual bells and whistles of HitFix: calendar reminders, links to our Contenders section, video interviews and more. There is also easy access to all of the site's festival coverage. So add a new bookmark!
Plus: Parsing the Bat's Oscar hopes, and 'Won't Back Down' pushback
As with most works of high-reaching ambition that critics can't quite agree on -- even those that like it -- "The Master" continues to inspire some of the knottiest film writing of the year. For her part, Stephanie Zacharek admires the film, but suggests a lot of her colleagues feel it's entitled to more thought and attention than it really is. She spins that into an observation of lofty, anti-mainstream festival titles in general: "There’s a danger in erecting false walls around different corners of the culture, of claiming some movies deserve our respect by virtue of who made them and of how they’re made, regardless of whether they arouse any passion in us." [The AV Club]
Why everyman stories get short shrift with the Academy
On Monday, a colleague pointed out to me that the next Academy Awards were, to the day, five months away. Strangely, he said it in the panicked tone of someone on whom Christmas has too swiftly crept up, whereas all I could think of was how dauntingly far away it sounded. Five months is a long time to parse the possibility of a third consecutive Best Picture from the Weinstein stable, to debate Philip Seymour Hoffman’s category placement, and for Jeff Wells to denigrate Daniel Day-Lewis’s Abe Lincoln accent; this weekly column, meanwhile, will have mulled over more than enough unseen variables before the season is out. Welcome.
Also: Designing 'Anna Karenina,' and early Oscar blogger meltdowns
Apologies for the very late roundup today: I've been having substantial technical problems. We kick off with a look at an Oscar category that few pundits claim to have a bead on: the Best Animated Feature category. In the second consecutive year that Pixar doesn't have it all wrapped up, Glenn Whipp surveys a highly flexible field, and wonders if venerable parent company Disney couldn't reclaim its dominance of the medium and score a trio of nods: with Tim Burton's well-received "Frankenweenie" (the one to beat, from where I'm standing) and "Wreck-It Ralph" bracketing Pixar's generally liked-but-not-loved "Brave." Wouldn't it be fun to have a race in this category for a change? [LA Times]
Surveying the field as the 2012-2013 Oscar season commences
The Oscar season is just warming up as the Venice, Telluride and Toronto film festivals have gotten us started. The New York and London film fests around the corner will keep things humming and in the meantime, a survey of the field is in order. This year's crop of possibilities is as diverse as ever, genre and foreign film making their voices heard, while animation is curiously absent. Presidential biopics are represented, as are political thrillers. Comedy, as ever, barely shows up, while Hollywood gets a unique spotlight the year after industry nostalgia owned the season. There's something for western fans, comic book fans and literary fans, so click through to check out our cross-section of the players, from "A(mour)" to "Z(ero" Dark Thirty). And of course, keep track of the ups and downs of the category all season at In Contention's Best Picture Contenders page.
Early-year releases and 2013 bump-ups find room to maneuver this season
For films that don't have deep pockets or any number of other elements stacked up against them in an awards season -- genre bias, early-year release, etc. -- muscling into the conversation at the end of the year can be tough. You use what's at your disposal, of course, and you seize the moment when you can. And make no mistake, there's always a moment to be seized. Because an Oscar season isn't a preordained thing. It's constantly shifting, giving slack, taking it in, ebbing, flowing.
This year, for instance, there is softness in the lead actress category to be capitalized upon. Of course, it seems like there is always a fair share of complaints to be lodged against a minimal amount of Best Actress contenders in a given season, but often enough (in my opinion), we have a strong field. And nevertheless, I think that blame lies first and foremost with a dearth of quality female roles than it does a dearth of quality female performances. So you get something like "Hitchcock" showing up with Helen Mirren in tow, or the possibility of multiple foreign nominees (which means, thankfully, they're getting a look as a result of wanting elsewhere), or you see a campaign excited about the possibilities of a Sundancer like Mary Elizabeth Winstead in "Smashed." The doors crack a bit and whoever wedges in a foot gets the shot.
Pablo Larrain's 1980s political satire was a critical sensation at Cannes
A flurry of new titles have been added to the pile of Best Foreign Language Film Oscars submissions -- which currently numbers 53 -- in the last day. Among them are films from such one-time nominees as Georgia and Vietnam, as well, hearteningly, the first ever entry from Kenya. I'm always pleased to see more African films in the mix.
Though I need to investigate the new additions further, only one of them immediately strikes me as newsworthy -- and it's a film I've been half-expecting and wholly hoping would show up here since its Cannes debut back in May. Given its combination of acclaim, awards and name appeal, you might have thought Pablo Larrain's superb political satire "No" a shoo-in to be Chile's submission, but there was always the realistic worry that the inscrutable politics of national selection would determine otherwise.
Also: Variety might share stables with Deadline, and defending Chris Hemsworth
Well, it sure is nice to see Helen Mirren win an award for once. It was announced today that the Oscar-winning actress will receive this year's European Achievement in World Cinema Award at December's European Film Awards ceremony -- "a very meaningful honor," she said, while clearing some shelf space. Of course, there's the possibility that this won't be the high point of her awards season, with Fox Searchlight planning a Best Actress Oscar campaign for her turn as Alma Reville opposite Anthony Hopkins's "Hitchcock." In other Mirren news, she's reprising her role as Queen Elizabeth II on the West End in a new Peter Morgan play, to be directed by Stephen Daldry. Seats will no doubt be in high demand, so I'll graciously sit this one out. [European Film Academy]