The best vaguely Oscar-related feature online today is Variety's "Directors on Directors" gallery, in which notable filmmakers comment on other directors' work that most stood out to them this year. Obviously, it's one big back-patting session, but it's the occasionally surprising combinations that make it interesting. It's not hard to see why Peter Bogdanovich would be so keen on Alexander Payne's "Nebraska," or Michael Mann on "Captain Phillips," but I wouldn't necessarily have expected Ben Affleck to single out Nicole Holofcener's "Enough Said." "Her direction is void of spectacle, distraction or maudlin sentiment," he says. "She directs with the humanist, realist sensibility of Renoir." Also cool: Ryan Fleck on Derek Cianfrance's "The Place Beyond the Pines," and plenty more. [Variety]
For the past month, "Captain Phillips" has riveted filmgoers and critics with its uber-realistic take on piracy and hostage-taking. One might expect a film with such a harrowing story and epic scope would have a similarly dramatic score. But the work of composer Henry Jackman, though extremely complementary to what was seen on screen, ended up being far from the theme-heavy bombastic music that is frequently on display in such epics.
The Oscar race may be a little under four months away, but the campaign circuit is already in full swing in Hollywood, where any number of industry screenings, Q&A's, parties, dinners and other glad-handing events are vying for the time and attention of voters. Glenn Whipp considers today's packed diary, with competing events for "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," "12 Years a Slave," "Her," "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" and "Inside Llewyn Davis," and wonders if things have already gone too far. "It's out of control," one academy member said of the barrage of events. Says one Academy member, "It's out of control ...people are already burned out. I'm just going to put on my pajamas and wait for the screeners to start arriving." The heart bleeds, doesn't it? [LA Times]
Last week the Academy announced its list of 19 films submitted for consideration in this year's Best Animated Feature Film Oscar race. Not all 19 are immediately eligible as there are other criteria they have to pass first, but even if two or three are knocked from the list (and only one really looks to be nixed), there will be at least 16 contenders, meaning the Academy's animation branch has the option of nominating up to five films.
But even then, that's just a ceiling, not a requirement. And in a year as seemingly weak as this for the category, it's entirely possible not enough movies hit high enough marks in the scoring process to even get it to five. Nevertheless, with the list out, it seemed the perfect opportunity for us to wrap up our weekly contender galleries feature. So have a look below to see what we're thinking and feel free to comment on this year's Best Animated Feature Film race in the comments section. Also, if you haven't already, sign up for HitFix Oscar Picks and make your own predictions.
By now we imagine you're well aware of the upcoming revival screening of "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" set for the Museum of the Moving Image in New York. The event sold out in 24 hours but we have an opportunity for New York-area readers to win a pair of tickets to the screening and Q&A as well as an official one-sheet for the film.
HOLLYWOOD — The "Nebraska" tour made a stop at AFI Fest last night as Alexander Payne's film enjoyed its Los Angeles premiere ahead of opening in limited release this Friday. Tethered to the event was a tribute to acting legend Bruce Dern, who finds himself in the hunt for his first-ever Best Actor Oscar nomination after winning a prize at the Cannes International Film Festival in May.
Quentin Tarantino introduced the opening clip package with the gusto you would expect of the filmmaker, who directed Dern briefly in last year's "Django Unchained." He commented on Dern's work ethic, mostly, noting that "when you look at Bruce Dern's filmography, that's a filmography that exemplifies hard work. He worked with the best directors in the business, and he worked with the worst."
It almost seems too perfect for the Santa Barbara Film Festival to recognize “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” star Oprah Winfrey with the annual Montecito Award this year. Winfrey lives in Montecito and doesn’t offer up too many chances for film awards lately, so festival director Roger Durling and company have struck while the iron is hot.
With Jason Reitman's "Labor Day" effectively out of the awards conversation -- with good reason, in my opinion, though it has its admirers -- Paramount evidently thought it wasn't worth subjecting the film to the commercial pressures of the Christmas rush. The Kate Winslet-John Brolin drama hasn't shifted out of the race entirely: it'll have a one-week qualifying run, beginning December 27. But regular US audiences will only be able to see it from January 31, when it goes wide -- one week before George Clooney's "The Monuments Men." Makes sense for a film that might connect more with adult (particularly female) audiences starved for higher-end mainstream fare in the winter lull, though those peek-a-boo qualifying releases have their detractors. [Hollywood Reporter]
Walt Disney Animation Studios might have the best movie musical of the year on its hands, but up until now they have been somewhat reticent to show it. If you've caught any trailers or TV spots for "Frozen" you may have realized it's just enough story paired with well-tested comedic bits to convince young boys to go see what is essentially a "princess" fairy tale. Well, if you're a fan of great music and specifically songs of the Broadway variety, you're in for a major treat.