No one needs awards coverage this deep
Electronic balloting also introduced
The Academy has announced key dates in the timeline for this year's Oscars. We already knew the 85th Academy Awards were set for Sunday, February 24. Previously nominations for the Oscars were set for Tuesday, January 15, but the latest release has moved that date five days earlier to January 10. This is still nice for Sundance-goers who won't have to worry about covering the announcement while at the fest, which runs January 17 - 27. But it's also the first time they'll be announced before the Golden Globes are held (on January 13).
Polls for nominations will close on January 3, while voting begins for the second phase of the circuit on February 8, meaning there is nearly an entire month between the nominations announcement and the opening of the polls. That's a pretty long time. Usually it's no more than two weeks or so. How will that time be used for marketing purposes? That's a lot of days to fill, and a lot of time for the discussion to shift in interesting ways -- unless, of course, we're met with an undeniable this season, which is always possible.
The Weinsteins' feelgood comedy could be a formidable challenger for the award
Those of you who have been assuming Michael Haneke's "Amour" is in an unassailable position for this year's Best Foreign Language Film Oscar shouldn't be feeling quite so confident after this morning's news of the newest entrant in the race.
The French submission is always awaited more keenly than most at this stage: with 37 nods to date, France is the most-nominated country in the category's history, even if they haven't actually taken the gold in 20 years. It's for this reason that, in any given year, the French entry tends to be regarded as a frontrunner by default -- whether they've chosen particularly wisely or not.
Their selection committee has made some daring choices in the past: think back to 2007, when they forsook what might have been a relatively easy nomination for "La Vie en Rose" to put forth the Iranian Revolution animation "Persepolis" instead. (They didn't even crack the January shortlist.) This year, however, they have put commerce ahead of art with a strictly strategic choice: Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano's feelgood box-office smash "The Intouchables."
The film is set to go up against 'Django Unchained' at the box office
When Warner Bros. shuffled "The Great Gatsby" on to 2013, there was an opportunity for another holiday bow on December 25 opposite "Django Unchained." I had been wondering if any of the big latter-year films were going to jump on it but it started to seem like everyone was comfortable, until today, when Universal announced that it would be pushing Tom Hooper's "Les Misérables" two weeks to that date.
Meanwhile, one wonders whether the film could end up with the date all to itself (at least as far as films of this sort go). I keep wondering whether "Django Unchained," which was still shooting up until last month, will be ready in time. It surely has to be, given the revenue potential (and necessity) for The Weinstein Company. But with Quentin Tarantino working with a new editor -- Fred Raskin -- after the untimely passing of long-time collaborator Sally Menke, it might not be as fluid as usual. Of course, Raskin worked alongside Menke on the "Kill Bill" films, so he's not totally fresh, but you never can tell how these things will go.
Fans may have had a big hand in dubbing Paul Thomas Anderson's latest
The pre-release strategy for "The Master" was interesting. Unique, I guess is the word. The marketing side of this business is driven by the typical, but sometimes filmmakers chafe at having their work pitched in the usual ways. So you get someone like David Fincher or Paul Thomas Anderson who says, "Nope, we're gonna do THIS."
As far as screenings have been concerned, Anderson has clearly been all about getting it to fans first. We broke the news last month about the film's first public screening following a special showing of "The Shining" in Santa Monica, and that tactic was employed multiple times thereafter with pop-ups in Chicago, San Francisco, New York, Austin, etc. And in most cases, fans were getting a look at the movie before the press.
Well, Anderson's love affair with his flock stretches even further than that and their connection with "The Master" might be deeper than they even realize. It turns out, Paul Thomas Anderson's fans may have had a significant hand in giving the film its title.
How will it play for the Academy?
I guess I'm a little bit confused. After being told up one side and down the other to beware Robert Lorenz's "Trouble with the Curve," I found myself liking it just fine. It's a bit unruly in spots and amateurly conceived in others, but never to detriment. And even Clint Eastwood's grizzled performance, threatening to make good on the promise of "Gran Torino" (i.e. that he'll be in the self-parody business from here on out) didn't strike the sour chord I expected it to.
Then as the movie went along, I realized the framing -- my framing -- was all wrong. This isn't Clint Eastwood's movie. This is Amy Adams's movie. And she's great. Coupled with "The Master," her work here further shows a dynamic range for the actress, who by the way landed three Oscar nominations in just six years, for those keeping score at home. And if you're still not convinced, have a look at "On the Road," where she shows up out of nowhere and gives a unique if brief take opposite Viggo Mortensen.
Portugal opts for 'Blood of My Blood' over critics' favorite 'Tabu'
It's been a few days since I've updated the longlist of submissions for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar -- and, with the deadline exactly two weeks away, a few days amounts to a tall pile of new entries. I haven't yet had time to investigate the finer points of such exotic-sounding submissions as Croatia's "Cannibal Vegetarian" -- cursory research tells me it's less about cannibals than junkie gynaecologists -- but a few higher-profile possibilities have entered along with the probable filler.
Before I get to those, however: I figured that with the submissions count up to 28 (expect that to double in the next fortnight), we have enough films to begin playing with some predictions. So you'll find a highly malleable top five on the right-hand sidebar, drawn the pool of entries so far, with further rankings on the relevant Contenders page. None of it is to be taken too seriously, of course -- least of all in this eternally confounding category.
'Argo,' 'The Master' and 'Silver Linings Playbook' get us going
Ben Affleck's "Argo," Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" and David O. Russell's "Silver Linings Playbook." With Venice, Telluride and Toronto in the rear view, those are the three films with the early stranglehold on the 2012-2013 Oscar season.
In the case of Affleck's thrilling true story, an impressive ensemble carries the load and the zeitgeist has been unexpectedly tapped in very direct ways. In the case of Anderson's artful Rorschach, a pair of compelling performances reflects a vibrant thematic treatise that is sure to court the cinephile vote this year. And in the case of Russell's Toronto Audience Award-winning dip back into the world of quirk and comedy, an apparent (it's the one I've yet to see) return to form for a veteran actor matched with a sure-fire Best Actress contender -- and a lead with his fair share of praise -- reflects a filmmaker keeping an impressive stride.
I mention the performances of each because the actors branch -- the largest of the Academy -- is sure to find plenty to appreciate in this trio. And that will be key, as always. This even in the case of "Argo," which doesn't have a single stand-out, though Alan Arkin will surely land his share of votes.
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.
It's been too long since we last got together. Technical difficulties conspired to keep us away during the Toronto Film Festival, while a bout of a flu-like-thing kept us away while in Telluride. Alas, it's all for the better, as we come to you this weekend with a full, measured slate of material. Let's see what's on the docket...
Paul Thomas Anderson's latest opens in limited release today
Well, the day has finally come -- for those of you lucky enough to live in New York or Los Angeles, that is. After an enigmatic marketing campaign, and an unorthodox series of pop-up screenings preceding festival appointments at Venice -- where it won Best Director, Best Actor and very nearly the Golden Lion too -- and Toronto, Paul Thomas Anderson's sixth feature film is here to dazzle and perplex the general public. I flipped for it in Venice (the next few months will have to be impossibly astonishing for it not to crack my year-end Top 5), and many top critics are similarly enthused -- for the number-crunchers, its Metacritic score is currently a robust 87. Not everyone's a believer in this gleaming but prickly movie, however: our colleague Drew McWeeny has doubts, and I anticipate some interestingly varied reactions from your good selves. (Awards expectations are similarly scattered, though I think it can go the distance.) Chime in below when you get a chance to see it and feel free to rate it above, as well.
The Google+ Hangout event was broadcast in New York's Times Square
NEW YORK -- With much fanfare leading up to the reveal, Disney finally launched the trailer for Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" this evening. The event was part of a Google Play cross-promotion with Spielberg and star Joseph Gordon-Levitt on hand in a Google+ Hangout to take questions from selected fans for 30 minutes after the trailer debuted.
The event was simultaneously broadcast on the ABC SuperSign in Times Square, where a modest group of people stopped to watch and snap photos as rush hour dwindled. Google users' comments scrolled across the sign with exclamations like "Those are all gonna be great performances!" and "Anyone else smell the coming Oscar for Daniel Day-Lewis?"
Calling the production "one of the most compelling experiences" he has had making a film, Spielberg noted that it was important to get a penetrating and thorough look at Lincoln as a man, not as a myth. And one way into that was to focus on the final four months of his presidency, rather than the entire width and breadth of it, and his cues were taken from Doris Kearns Goodwin's book "Team of Rivals," on which Tony Kushner's screenplay is based.