The London Film Critics Circle (of which I'm a member) handed out its year-end kudos this evening, and "The Artist" was the big winner, taking awards for Film of the Year, Director of the Year and Actor of the Year. I'll be back from this evening's festivities soon enough to offer up extended commentary, but for now, check out the full list of winners below.
Nominee hogs 'Drive' and 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' combine for a single win
Part One: Art Direction, Cinematography, Costume Design, Film Editing and Makeup
In five days, the nominations for the 84th annual Academy Awards will be announced. It seems extraordinary that another season has nearly passed. And with a silent film and a somewhat fantastical (not-so-) children’s film poised to dominate the major categories, one realizes how quickly trends can change in Hollywood. The period nature of these films will result in their showing up across the crafts categories as well, along with many other usual suspects. But at the margins, there is definitely room for excitement.
So with that preface, I now embark on my final analysis of the crafts categories for the cinematic year of 2011. This will be done in two parts, five categories covered in each part. Check back later for part two.
And yes, another 'War Horse' snub
Following on the heels of the Cinema Audio Society today is the Costume Designers Guild, which has selected nominees in its three patented categories.
The first thing you'll notice, naturally, is yet another "War Horse" snub. I haven't been expecting an Oscar nomination for the film's costumes and the period field is particularly stacked this season, but nevertheless, another miss.
There aren't many surprises on the list, though the appearance of "X-Men: First Class" in the fantasy category is a nice inclusion for its blend of period styles with comic book tropes. Once upon a time I thought costumer Sammy Sheldon might be a possibility for an Oscar nod, and maybe that's even still the case. Ditto "Thor," outfitted by four-time nominee Alexandra Byrne.
Also: Designing 'Potter' and exhausting Uggie
Predicting Best Makeup nominees is always a blind-man's-buff process, but the one title we can reasonably expect to show up on Tuesday morning is "The Iron Lady"; like Marion Cotillard's Edith Piaf, Meryl Streep's Margaret Thatcher is enabled by startling cosmetic and prosthetic wizardry. This has been recognized by BAFTA, but as blogger Bradley Porter, who also worked on the film, points out, credit isn't entirely being given where it's due: the only name nominated by BAFTA is chief makeup and hair designer Marese Langan, thoroughly deserving of notice -- but prosthetics designer Mark Coulier isn't on the list. Given that he's the man behind the ageing work that most wows people in this area, that's a shameful oversight. Here's hoping the Academy doesn't make the same error. [Eat Sleep Live Film]
'War Horse' gets ignored by yet another guild
And now, as they say, for something completely different.
The guild nominations these last few weeks have been rank and file, the usual mish-mash of the same titles reflecting a bit of group think and perfunctory nominations. That ends today, though, as the Cinema Audio Society's crop of selections for excellence in sound mixing includes some eyebrow-raising, refreshingly singular choices.
First and foremost, "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" was snubbed, and I'm shocked by that. The sound mixers carried the franchise's last two films to nominations with both the CAS and the sound branch of the Academy, but stopped things dead in their tracks today by ignoring the year's best work in the field. Will it still be able to grab a mention from the smaller group within AMPAS? Maybe, but this is a blow.
Other awards for Meryl Streep, Michael Fassbender and 'The Muppets'
You could say that Andrew Haigh's shimmery boy-meets-boy romance "Weekend" was always going to be readily embraced by the Gay & Lesbian Critics' Association. Still, given that they already have a separate category for LGBT-themed fare, the fact that the film additionally took Film of the Year -- ahead of such season heavyweights as "The Artist" and "The Descendants" -- is pretty special. (Okay, I'm just glad of all and any recognition for my favorite film of 2011.)
Oscar-shortlisted AIDS doc "We Were Here" took an equivalent brace of awards in the documentary field. Funnily enough, however, the Performance of the Year award went to the one nominee whose character has no LGBT qualifications: Meryl Streep in "The Iron Lady." Other winners, meanwhile, include the natural pairing of Michael Fassbender and the Muppets. Roth reported on the nominees last week; full list of winners after the jump.
France's 'Declaration of War' and Mexico's 'Miss Bala' snubbed
The biggest surprise about the nine-film shortlist for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar is, well, how unsurprising it is. Seven of the titles I predicted yesterday are on it; the two films I didn't, Morocco's "Omar Killed Me" and Taiwan's "Warriors of the Rainbow," are the kind of could-have-been-anything choices that we know to expect (or not to expect, as it were) by now. Presumed frontrunner "A Separation" naturally made the cut and festival favorites "Pina" and "Bullhead" are present and correct -- as is the semi-obligatory annual Holocaust drama, in the shape of Agnieszka Holland's "In Darkness." Check, check, check.
The general predictability of the list makes it harder than usual to speculate what three films may have been rescued by the executive committee. There's nothing as outwardly subversive as "Dogtooth" or "Confessions" in the group, which suggests to me that the committee may have had their hands full saving consensus critical favorites: if they really did have to come to the rescue of a film like "A Separation," as has been rumored, that narrows the window for a truly "difficult" film like "The Turin Horse" to slide in.
Also: Mourning Colman's BAFTA snub, and Gervais steps down
Michelle Williams is someone who seems to have planned her entire career in contravention of Hollywood's usual code for beautiful young actresses: from her taste in offbeat indie projects to her shy public demeanor and pixie-ish styling, she's pretty much the anti-ingenue, and the last person you'd expect to be the subject of a raunchy lad's-mag photo shoot. Which is partly why her casting as a publicity-fed sex symbol like Marilyn Monroe is so counter-intuitively effective, as is this eye-opening QG profile, in which she further channels the star by stripping down to her underwear and posing up a storm. An ingenious ploy by Harvey Weinstein? Her own initiative? Either way, it's getting the Best Actress hopeful attention at just the right time, and for those who do read the accompanying interview, she comes off as smart and engaging. Well played. [GQ]
AMPAS president Tom Sherak, Paramount CEO Brad Grey and the family of William A. Wellman toast the first-ever Best Picture winner's 85th anniversary
It was a nice change of pace interlude this evening, even if it was ultimately awards related in some way.
"War Horse" may be the World War I film currently in cinemas stirring awards talk throughout the season, and "The Artist" might be the black and white silent film leading the charge in this year's Best Picture race, but for two evenings at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Wilshire Blvd. in Beverly Hills, William A. Wellman is stealing some of Steven Spielberg and Michel Hazanavicius' spotlight.
Wellman's silent, black and white, 1927 Best Picture-winning WWI epic "Wings" has been fully restored in a partnership between Paramount Pictures (this year celebrating its 100th anniversary), the Academy's Film Archive and Technicolor. It was unveiled this evening at the Academy in the first of two screenings this week as part of the studio's centenary and the film's (as well as the Academy's) 85th anniversary in advance of a January 24 Blu-ray release.
List of nine contenders due to be announced tomorrow
Tomorrow brings the first major cull in what is almost annually the most exasperating of Oscar races, Best Foreign Language Film. As has become the new custom, a shortlist of nine titles will be announced in the morning -- six of them voted on by the collected members of the foreign-language branch, with a further three added by a select committee to rectify the larger group's blind spots.
It is never confirmed which are which, though it can be rather easy to tell: there were no prizes last year for guessing that Greece's critically adored but thematically dangerous "Dogtooth" was a minority pick rescued by the committee to add cred to the Academy's roster. It's an imperfect system, but still preferable to the previous one, which regularly raised howls of critical anguish as such films as "City of God" and "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" failed even to crack the pre-nomination shortlist.
The committee itself can be pretty wily in their choices -- eyebrows were raised when they failed to rescue favorites like "Gomorrah" and "Of Gods and Men" recently -- and still can't do anything about the Academy's final (and dependably milquetoast) choice of winner, but they're pushing more adventurous titles into the conversation, and for that, one can hardly be ungrateful.