As we begin to taper off the weekly category run-downs (we have just one more left, Best Animated Feature Film), we move on to the screenplays. It's an interesting mix and the two categories, while not loaded with a ton of contenders, are still quite dense with multiple hopefuls sporting a fair shot at recognition from the writers branch.
The Academy has announced that 19 films have been submitted for consideration in this year's Best Animated Feature Film race. Per Academy rules, 16 qualifying films are needed for the category to extend to five nominations. But all 19 may not qualify. For instance, "The Smurfs 2" was submitted by Sony, but as with the first film in that franchise a few years ago, it could be dismissed by the Academy as ineligible due to various factors.
In the years since the 2007 release of Andrew Dominik's "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford," an even longer, deeper-realized cut of the 160-minute western has been a sort of holy grail for the film's acolytes. Mostly that's because of how within reach the possibility seems. This isn't a six-hour "Thin Red Line" that can't see the light of day by both reason and practicality. It's something that already has the willingness of the director going for it and could just use a little support from the studio to be realized.
The Santa Barbara International Film Festival has kicked off a wave of tribute announcements today with the revelation that Cate Blanchett will receive this year's Outstanding Performer of the Year award for her work in Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine."
You need only look to "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" to observe how hard the fall festival circuit can be on certain prestige hopefuls: prime Oscar bait on paper, The Weinstein Company contender's buzz plummeted after a first wave of reviews that deemed it (not inaccurately, I think) turgid biopic-by-numbers stuff, however well-acted. How to get people talking about it again? Well, the announcement of an official White House screening this week for President Obama, due to be attended by Mandela's daughters and stars Idris Elba and Naomie Harris, will earn it a fresh batch of headlines and nifty photo opportunities. Will it help? Tim Gray considers the value of a political endorsement. [Variety]
The Berlin Film Festival is generally seen as the least glamorous of the three major European fests: taking place in snowy February, it lands either too late or too early in the calendar to grab the sparkly awards-season hopefuls or the A-list international auteur titles. So landing the world premiere of Wes Anderson's "The Grand Budapest Hotel" as their Opening Film on February 6, 2014 is obviously a great get for the Berlinale -- one that may attract more international press than usual.
The European Film Awards are really spreading out their nominations announcement this year -- a couple of weeks ago, we got the nominees for Best Animated Feature, last week brought the winners in the technical categories, and today we have the final three films in the running for Best Documentary Feature. On Saturday, nominees in all remaining categories will be revealed; I guess this is their way of shining an individual spotlight on less covered races.
The deadline for Golden Globe submissions was Friday and so studios had to declare whether their contenders would be aiming for comedy or drama consideration. Of course, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) can overturn these categorizations, as they have in the past with films like "True Grit." Between now and the time ballots go out to members of the organization on Nov. 27, the group may do that with one or more of the films that straddle the line between comedy and drama, but it's a rare occurrence.
It's been a few weeks since I've been prepared to offer much of anything in this space, and really, it's been good to let the dust settle, as plenty has happened. "The Monuments Men" got out of dodge. "The Wolf of Wall Street" committed to Christmas. "Her" found critical embrace and "The Book Thief" has emerged as Fox's best bet for awards success. AFI Fest is on the horizon, and with it, the fates of "Out of the Furnace," "Lone Survivor" and, in some ways, "Saving Mr. Banks." The groundwork has mostly been laid otherwise and the circuit work is starting to click in.
Every once in a while a studio capitalizes on parallels between one of its awards hopefuls and a classic of the medium that also did pretty well on the circuit by booking a double bill. Fox Searchlight did it with "The Wrestler" and "On the Waterfront," for instance. This year, Paramount is going that route with Alexander Payne's "Nebraska" and Peter Bogdanovich's "Paper Moon."