No one needs awards coverage this deep
Fest opens with Diane Kruger in lavish but tart take on the Marie Antoinette story
A scene from "Farewell, My Queen"
Credit: GMT Productions
BERLIN - Just one full day into the 2012 Berlinale, I’m struck by how many faces I recognize as I traipse across the snow-dusted triangle of the festival center at Potsdamer Platz: crimson-blazered festival stewards who all seem to man exactly the same stations they did last year; international critics in the press room whom I identify instantly by their hair, glasses or oddly colored overcoat, but couldn’t possibly name; even the slickly sullen barista at the one decent coffee source over the road.
Nothing and nobody appears to have moved in the space of a year in this city, making today feel less like the opening day of a major international film festival than a comfily unfazed resumption of business. “You’ve been here before,” the politely unenthused assistant said to me as she handed me my shiny new pass and no-nonsense black lanyard. “You know where to go.”
The Oscar-nominated composer details his approach
Howard Shore received his first non-"Lord of the Rings" Oscar nomination for his work on "Hugo."
Credit: AP Photo/Joe Tabacca
It’s a rare thing for Martin Scorsese to use a score as expansive and elaborate as Howard Shore’s Oscar-nominated one for “Hugo.” Indeed, Philip Glass's booming and full composition for “Kundun” 14 years ago represents the last score from one of Scorsese’s films to be nominated for an Academy Award.
“We worked very differently on this film than we had previously,” Shore says, calling from his studio in New Zealand where he is currently writing the “brand new and shiny” compositions for Peter Jackson's “The Hobbit.”
Shore won two Academy Awards for his scores on Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings" franchise, as well as Best Original Song for the series' final installment. His work on the trilogy was an immense undertaking which was eventually adapted into “'The Lord of the Rings' Symphony: Six Movements for Orchestra and Chorus."
"It appears you have bought your last zoo."
Jean Dujardin auditions for "Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer 2" at Funny or Die.
Credit: Funny or Die
Okay, full disclosure. An invested publicist forwarded this to me. But, well, it got me. And I had to post.
The running, cynical logic on Jean Dujardin for quite a while has been that we'll likely see him and the rest of the crew from "The Artist" fade away after this lightning-capturing season, and that if we don't, well, maybe Dujardin will play a Bond villain or something. Just look at Christoph Waltz, who has languished in bad-guy parts in "The Green Hornet" and "Water for Elephants" after winning his Oscar two years ago.
Funny or Die is always quick to get out ahead of a joke like that, and Dujardin is wise to be on board for something like their latest video, which spoofs the actor being tapped to audition for every Hollywood villain role available at the moment. He runs the gamut from "Mission: Impossible" and "Die Hard" sequels to hilariously dubious possibilities like follow-ups to "We Bought a Zoo" and "Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer."
How the film, recently restored, changed film advertising forever
A scene (and gorgeous image) from "A Clockwork Orange"
Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures
A well-known filmmaker friend and I were chatting about the dearth of quality films in the annual Oscar race at an awards show recently. He said to me, "When I was young, films like 'Network' and 'All the President's Men' were nominated. I feel sorry for you that nothing nominated touches those films these days."
Well, I'd argue few things MADE these days touch those films, and I almost wanted to say something like, "You're a filmmaker in today's environment. What does that say about you?" But nevertheless, point taken. Even still, I marvel at the fact that a film like, say, "A Clockwork Orange" was nominated in 1971. I couldn't fathom that kind of thing happening today. Of course, few films have the earth-shattering impact that Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece did, and when the earth moves, I guess you kind of have to take note.
On the incrementally self-medicating foreign language film process
The exclusion of Cristian Mungiu's "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" from the 2007 finalists list spurred the creation of an executive committee within the foreign language branch.
Credit: IFC Films
This may come as a shock to readers accustomed to my usual tone of weary despair when it comes to the category, but I’m about to write in defense of the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.
Reluctant defense, mind you – I’m not going to get either impassioned or affectionate for the award that recognized “Departures” over “The Class,” “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” over “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” and “Woman in the Dunes” and never even shortlisted “Persona,” “The 400 Blows” or anything by Kieslowski. For reasons both within and beyond their control, it’s a troubled category and always has been. But unlike most of the Academy’s many problem areas, it’s a highly self-aware and self-medicating one, forever adjusting its voting process to address blind spots.
The adjustments sometimes cause blind spots of their own, like a game of cinematic and bureaucratic whack-a-mole, but you can hardly accuse them of shrugging their shoulders. When arcane eligibility bylaws about the required language of national submissions took Michael Haneke’s “Hidden” out of the running, rules were promptly changed the next year; when voters failed to place critics’ darling “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days” into the nine-film shortlist in 2007, branch leaders were sufficiently embarrassed to devise the executive-committee safety net that stands today.
'Barber of Birmingham,' 'God is the Bigger Elvis,' 'Incident in New Baghdad,' 'Saving Face' and 'Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom' square off
James Armstrong in "The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement"
Credit: ShortsHD/Magnolia Pictures
(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.)
For the second year in a row the documentary short nominees will be included in Shorts International/Magnolia Pictures' theatrical program of Oscar-nominated shorts. The films release as a package in 200 theaters nationwide on tomorrow, February 10.
The docs this year were an interesting and diverse assortment. At least two of them are top-notch works of cinema. Another is a gripping if somewhat clinical dissection of an unfortunate wartime event, while one will likely land well for its old Hollywood connections. The least-compelling of the lot is a new spin on familiar Civil Rights movement territory. Meanwhile, there are three former nominees in the line-up, two of them having been chalked up for feature work in the past.
The nominees are…
Also: UK citizens vote on the greatest BAFTA winner and who leads Best Actor Tweet mentions?
Max von Sydow at Monday's Nominees Luncheon
Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello
I've kind of been going nuts lately at the amount of people reporting from the Oscar Nominees Luncheon leaning on the amount of applause Max von Sydow received as if it's, in and of itself, an indication of anything. If you're a film industry professional and you have a chance to applaud for a guy like that, you're going to do it. Annette Bening got a lot of applause at last year's event. It just means respect. Plus, Christopher Plummer wasn't even there, so you can't gauge one response versus the other. This week, Dave Karger uses the burst of applause as a reason to move von Sydow up to #2 in his Best Supporting Actor rankings, but that's really where he should have been since day one. I'll say it again: von Sydow's mere presence in the category makes things interesting. [Entertainment Weekly]
A look (in video) at some of his most iconic work
John Williams in rehearsal with Boston Pops Orchestra.
Credit: AP Photo/Robert E. Klein
Whatever your take on Lucasfilm’s output over the last 13-years may be, there are very few of us who can listen to more than just a few notes of the “Star Wars” score without feeling a rushing sense of possibility, excitement and remembered pleasure, or if it is the "Imperial March" a delicious impression of impending evil.
John Williams is responsible for some of the most beloved and iconic scores of our time. He’s been nominated for 47 Oscars (including two this year, for “The Adventures of Tintin” and “War Horse”), making him the second-most nominated person after Walt Disney (and the most-nominated composer, passing Alfred Newman this year). He won four original score Oscars, for the haunting and evocative “Schindler’s List” (1993), the bitter-sweet optimism of “E.T.:The Extra-Terrestrial” (1983), the indelible and enduring “Star Wars” (1977), and what has become the universal sound symbol for “danger in the water,” “Jaws” (1975). He also won Best Scoring Adaptation and Original Song Score for “Fiddler on the Roof” in 1971, kicking off his love affair with the Academy.
Offer up your burning queries
Alright, you know the drill. Rifle off your need-to-knows and we'll address as many as we can on Friday's podcast. I believe we're going to try and discuss the live action and animated shorts, perhaps the doc features. Anyway, a few categories will be covered in detail. Have at it!
'Tinker, Tailor' star Gary Oldman hits the circuit with the Best Actor field in flux
"True Romance" alums Gary Oldman (left) and Brad Pitt mingle backstage at Monday's Nominees Luncheon.
Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello
Gary Oldman is back in town and hitting the press rounds hard on behalf of his first-ever Oscar nomination for "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy." And though I'm fairly resigned to Jean Dujardin turning the trick with Oscar as he did with SAG, I can't help but wonder -- or perhaps merely hope -- if things are in such a state of flux within the Best Actor category that a guy like Oldman has a decent shot.
Roth's piece on Brad Pitt's press rounds and a window of opportunity in the field was fair enough as it pertains to his chances. After all, Pitt's a big-time celebrity who doesn't rest on his laurels and is heavily involved, constructively, on the production side of things. And he turned out one of his best performances to date in "Moneyball."
But what about a guy like Oldman, who has worked with just about everyone in town and has been at the grind for decades? Not only is he a solid worker, but he offers up stunning portrayal after stunning portrayal, even in the most dubious of projects (many of which he's been forced to take on over the last 10 years or so).