No one needs awards coverage this deep
Seven wins for the French silent, including Best Film, Director and Actor
Meryl Streep backstage at the BAFTA Awards after winning Best Actress for her performance in "The Iron Lady"
Credit: AP Photo/Joel Ryan
Well, quelle surprise. While its hometown advantage and impressive haul of 11 nominations gave “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” the appearance of a fighting chance in the BAFTA race, I think we all knew that the Brits, like pretty much everyone else, would fall in love with “The Artist.”
And boy, did they fall hard: with seven wins, including Best Film, Director, Actor and Original Screenplay, the French silent phenomenon completed the most comprehensive BAFTA sweep of the top categories in many a year. (Octavia Spencer, who added yet another Best Supporting Actress trophy to her mantel tonight, must be thanking her lucky stars that BAFTA voters correctly placed Berenice Bejo in the lead race.) “Tinker, Tailor,” meanwhile had to be content with the consolation prize of Best British Film, as well as Best Adapted Screenplay – a distant runner-up if ever there was one.
Prognostication collective foresees a 5/4 split for 'Hugo' and 'The Artist'
The Gurus o' Gold at Movie City News expect "Hugo" to come out on top with five wins.
Credit: Paramount Pictures
The Gurus o' Gold collective of Oscar dorks (yours truly included) at Movie City News have offered up final-ish predictions. I imagine David Poland will give us all an opportunity to change this or that, and certainly, my own picks aren't final until the Friday or Saturday before the show, but for the most part, these are where the chips lie.
No one is betting against "The Artist" winning Best Picture and Best Director at the moment. The only George Clooney holdouts in Best Actor are Grantland's Mark Harris, Entertainment Weekly's Dave Karger and The Wrap's Steve Pond, three smart guys in this game so that raises my eyebrow. Karger's colleague Anthony Breznican, though, is way out on a limb for Demián Bichir. The rest of us are picking Jean Dujardin.
The Toronto Star's Peter Howell and the LA Times' Greg Olsen seem to think Meryl Streep will pull off the Best Actress win over Viola Davis, while everyone agrees Octavia Spencer and Christopher Plummer will triumph in the supporting categories.
'A Cat in Paris' and 'Chico & Rita' play with the big boys
A scene from "Chico & Rita"
Somewhat lost or at the very least under-considered this year when it comes to the Best Animated Feature Film category is the success of indie distributor GKIDS in the field.
As usual, the Oscar is expected to go to the most popular film of the bunch, the film that reached the most eyeballs from a powerhouse studio: Gore Verbinski's "Rango." And a very deserved win it will be. But after getting "The Secret of Kells" in back in 2009 and sitting pretty with not just one but two nominations this year, I'd say GKIDS has become a premier destination for alternative contenders in the medium.
"A Cat in Paris" and "Chico & Rita" are gorgeously rendered stories, the latter particularly engaging with its combination of animation and Cuban music. It's a passionate, adult-oriented ode to a time and place.
Hip-hop icon Saul Williams an unlikely lead of Competition highlight
Saul Williams in Berlinale Competition entry "Aujourd'hui."
Credit: Granit Films
BERLIN - “Are these real films?” a colleague asked, his tone pitched halfway between irony and incredulity, as he contemplated a potential Berlinale marathon of such appetizingly titled sidebar entries as “The Woman Who Brushed Off Her Tears” and “The Woman in the Septic Tank.” “Or are audiences simply being punked by festival programmers, and no one can stay awake long enough past the opening credits to realize?”
We were killing time in the languidly paced press ticket queue, waiting to be told, rather curtly, that seats for Sundance critical hit “Keep the Lights On” were no longer available – with the wisdom that comes of experience and persistent disappointment, the aforementioned colleague already had his mind on plan B. More subtly coded but even more bewildering than the press-badge caste system at Cannes, the press screening schedule at Berlin is so riddled with conditions and restrictions (access levels to journalists vary from strand to strand, hour to hour, cinema to cinema) that planning a day’s viewing is scarcely less work than filing a day’s tax returns.
Will 'The Artist' continue its sweep, or will the Brits stick up for 'Tinker?'
Gary Oldman in "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy."
Credit: Focus Features
Simply by virtue of being the last televised precursor stop en route to the Academy Awards, the BAFTA Awards attract far more eyeballs, and provoke far more speculation, than they would at any other point in the calendar -- as an Oscar bellwether, they're somehow as encouraging to win as they are irrelevant to lose.
On the occasions that they anticipate sharp left-turns in the Oscar race -- Marion Cotillard and Tilda Swinton's wins in 2007, Roman Polanski's out-of-nowhere triumph in 2002 -- people look back and credit the Brits for their influence. On the occasions they go off on their own, often parochial, tangent -- Colin Firth and Carey Mulligan's wins in 2009, for example -- people shrug their shoulders and say, "What did you expect? It's the BAFTAs."
The Wachowski brothers' cyberpunk-inspired opus swept 'Star Wars' back in 1999
Ray Park as Darth Maul in "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace"
Credit: 20th Century Fox
I wasn't much of an Oscar-watcher in 1999. I was naive enough to think, surely, "The Insider" would be a big winner that year. "Three Kings" would definitely get a few nominations. "Magnolia" would HAVE to be a Best Picture nominee. None of that happened, of course.
I never liked "Star Wars." Still don't. Not one single entry in the franchise. Look, fans, I respect your obsession, admiration and commitment. But they don't work for me. So when I lined up for "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace" on May 19, a high school senior soon to enter film school (and let me tell you, what a year to be a film school student), I wasn't too pumped or anything. I had a number of friends who were, surely, but even they -- some of them on their third and fourth viewing of the DAY -- were beginning to cool on it a bit when I finally got there to see it that afternoon.
'Drive,' 'Dragon Tattoo,' 'Hugo,' 'Transformers' and 'War Horse' square off
Ryan Gosling blows some dude's face off in "Drive"
(The Oscar Guide will be your chaperone through the Academy's 24 categories awarding excellence in film. A new installment will hit every weekday in the run-up to the Oscars on February 26, with the Best Picture finale on Saturday, February 25.)
As Guy intimated in his Oscar Guide to Best Sound Mixing, the sound categories really were interesting and all over the place this year. In the sound editing field, we have just two of the nine Best Picture nominees represented, one surprise show (for some) for a Cannes hit that was expected to pop up elsewhere, a franchise entry that deserves more love than it'll get and a tip of the hat to a Best Picture snubee that actually showed up in both sound fields.
Typically, voters pick their "favorite" movie of the nominees in these areas. That is, unless a palatable secondary option is available that makes its case for recognition of its aural qualities. I expect this year's situation to be more reflective of the latter.
The nominees are…
Also: What happened to Shailene Woodley's Oscar bid?
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.
We're getting close. Oh so close. The Oscars, if you can believe it, are just over two weeks away. We have a few more ceremonies on the horizon, but with ballots in hand for another week, it's a few more times into the breach. So, let's see what's on the docket today...
Spielberg's maestro clocks seven nods
"Hanna" composers The Chemical Brothers, nominated for Breakout Composer of the Year
Credit: AP Photo/Jonathan Short
I'd like to humbly make a (self-serving) request of the International Film Music Critics Association. Bump your announcement up by a couple of weeks. Granted, you don't speak for composers, so your annual announcement of the best in film music doesn't necessarily indicate anything. But in a category with precious little in the way of precursor suggestion, every little bit helps.
This year's list of nominees was predictably dominated, however, by John Williams, who landed seven nominations across the various categories for his two Oscar-nominated scores: "The Adventures of Tintin" and "War Horse." Not too far back with five nods was "The Artist" composer Ludovic Bource.
Third was Michael Giacchino, who landed a nomination each for "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" and "Super 8" and was singled out in the Film Composer of the Year category as well. And Howard Shore had a decent showing for "Hugo," popping up twice.
Also: AMPAS promises to look at original song process and Hollywood and Highland pushes back against Kodak
Shailene Woodley and George Clooney in "The Descendants"
Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures
When I'm asked, I'm honest. And I've been asked about "The Descendants" plenty in the last few weeks, whether the Jean Dujardin SAG win is a harbinger, whether the film still has any gas left in the Best Picture tank after that post-Globes feeling of ecstasy, etc. And my line is this: Forget Best Picture. Stick with Best Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay before you lose those, too. In a recent piece, Brooks Barnes gets it wrong vis a vis what makes an Oscar underdog (both "Crash" and "Million Dollar Baby" were less that than alternatives at a time when the Academy really did want to go a different way), but he nevertheless props Fox Searchlight's big "underdog" push up. Look (and I really do believe this): it was never going to win Best Picture. Focus. [New York Times]