No one needs awards coverage this deep
Other awards for Meryl Streep, Michael Fassbender and 'The Muppets'
Chris New and Tom Cullen in "Weekend."
Credit: Sundance Selects
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
Credit: Drafthouse Films
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 in one of the images from her recent GQ photo shoot.
Credit: GQ/Michael Thompson
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
Credit: Paramount Pictures
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
Could Wim Wenders's "Pina" snag nominations in the Best Foreign Language Film and Documentary races?
Credit: Sundance Selects
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.
6 wins for Malick's film, Pitt takes lead and supporting awards
The Georgia critics gave Juliette Binoche her first US award of the season for "Certified Copy."
Credit: IFC Films
The Georgia Film Critics' Association distinguished themselves from the back last week with a fresh and considered list of nominees -- and their winners, announced earlier today, are no less intriguing. I can't think of another critics' group on the circuit that has fallen quite so hard for "The Tree of Life": Terrence Malick's intimate epic took six awards, including Best Picture and Director, as well as both supporting prizes for Jessica Chastain and Brad Pitt. (It wasn't Pitt's only win from the Peach State -- he also took Best Actor for "Moneyball.")
Meanwhile, they forever earned my affection by becoming the first critics 'group to hand Best Actress to Juliette Binoche for "Certified Copy," which also won Best Foreign Language Film. In the relentless grind of paint-by-numbers precursors, even the smallest victories are sweet. Also, it's about bloody time "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" won an ensemble award. Good work, guys. Full list of winners after the jump.
BAFTA recognized Jacqueline Durran's work this morning, but will the Guild?
Colin Firth, David Dencik, Toby Jones and John Hurt in "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy."
Credit: Focus Features
As I discussed this morning, the few instances where the BAFTA nominations -- voted on by the collected membership -- part ways with the top five choices of the category's relevant branch don't always reflect very well on the awards' voting system. "The Iron Lady" over "Young Adult" for Best Original Screenplay? "War Horse" over "Drive" for Best Cinematography (and over "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" for Best Visual Effects)? Jim Broadbent over, well, anyone for Best Supporting Actor? I'm unconvinced.
One area, however, where BAFTA at large did well to overrule the chapter vote was in Best Costume Design: where the costumers plumped for the lavish but rote Elizabethan rufflery of "Anonymous," the general voters jumped forward a few centuries to nominate "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" instead. Put it down to a sweep mentality if you like -- the film did score 11 nominations, after all -- but that strikes me as a particularly astute pick nonetheless.
Also: Luhrmann on 'Gatsby' in 3D, and Elton vs. Madonna
Elizabeth Olsen in "Martha Marcy May Marlene," one Sundance 2011 hit that didn't deliver on its early promise.
Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures
With this year's Sundance Film Festival two days away, Tom Brueggemann observes that very few films in the lineup already have confirmed distribution deals -- and thinks last year's underperforming crop has something to do with it. While many recent breakout hits of previous fests have gone on to sleeper commercial success and/or Oscar glory, last year's Sundance sensations have struggled: even with glowing reviews, despite landing powerful distributors, the likes of "Martha Marcy May Marlene," "Like Crazy" and "Take Shelter" haven't caught fire with audiences or awards voters thus far. As Brueggemann reports it, even the biggest commercial success from last year's group, the Weinsteins' "Our Idiot Brother," was an underperformer. What gives? [Thompson on Hollywood]
'Hugo' snubbed as 'Drive' cracks Best Film lineup
Local favourite "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" received 11 BAFTA nominations.
Credit: Focus Features
As ever with their nominations announcement, BAFTA giveth, and BAFTA taketh away. Excited to see "Drive" up for Best Film and Best Director? Sure, but in return we have to accept Jim Broadbent nominated, ahead of Albert Brooks, for a career-worst performance in "The Iron Lady," which also somehow copped a Best Original Screenplay nod. (Despite this showing, the film mercifully didn't crack their Best British Film lineup.)
Glad to see a strong showing at last for "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy?" Yes, but the flipside of that is zero nominations for "The Tree of Life" -- no, not even a cinematography nod for Emmanuel Lubezki. Even when trying to anticipate the Oscar race, BAFTA remain a law unto themselves -- which can be as exasperating as it is occasionally rewarding.
The frontrunners, of course, could have been spotted from space. Oscar favorite "The Artist" naturally leads the way with 12 nominations -- the (mostly) silent film scored even in the Best Sound category -- while British loyalty netted an impressive 11 nods for domestic hit "Tinker, Tailor." The two will fight it out for the top award, though with the latter primed for the consolation prize of Best British Film, I think we know how this is going to go.
Actors reflect on their own vanity and the inevitable insanity of awards season
Sally Field at the 57th annual Academy Awards
With the Golden Globes a memory and the announcement of this year’s Oscar nominations on January 24 just on the horizon, perhaps it's time to take a bit of the piss out of awards season. The validity of certain awards shows and organizations aside, it is an incredible professional accomplishment to be included in the hunt at all. It speaks to a level of success that most only dream of in a profoundly competitive industry. At the same time, perspective is often in order.
I have worked in entertainment for my entire adult life and have as great a passion for film today as I did in the throes of dreamy youth. No one’s feeding babies here, however. Even in an arena as large as the one the artists under discussion here dwell in, it’s important to have at least some measure of humor and ability to self-deprecate to season the inevitable neurosis that comes with working in a creative field