One of the pleasures I’ve allowed myself at this year’s Edinburgh fest is more time than usual to graze the handpicked short film programme – annually a point of pride for the festival, though inevitably swamped in the attention stakes by even the most negligible features in the lineup. That’s understandable: it’s hard to cover films that your readers have no certain way of accessing, and even with advances in online exhibition, distribution of shorts remains a niche affair. Taking aside from the annual release of those fortunate shorts rather randomly singled out by the Oscars, civilian cinemagoers are unlikely to see any at all.
The Academy has announced its annual list of invitees to its esteemed membership, including 276 names from actors Jason Bateman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jennifer Lopez and Milla Jovovich to directors Steve McQueen, Todd Phillips and last year's wunderkind Benh Zeitlin.
American audiences will have to wait until December 6 to see "Inside Llewyn Davis," the Coen Brothers' folk-scene study that wowed critics (and Steven Spielberg's jury) at Cannes last month. But take heart: you can hear it -- well, sort of -- a few months earlier, as the film's excellent (and highly integral) soundtrack is released on September 17. That's in time for Grammy consideration, by the way -- and while it won't be eligible for any music Oscars, they may as well start engraving the Best Compilation Soundtrack Grammy statuette right now.
There's a lot of apologizing for Roland Emmerich's "White House Down" going on out there. On one hand, I get it. It's fun. Etc. And I've certainly been an Emmerich apologist in my time. On the other hand, the film is so PAINFULLY derivative and you can only roll your eyes so many times in a film before it just stops being an enjoyable experience, no? I just didn't realize you could get paid for a script that so liberally cribs another ("Die Hard"). Right down to the Beethoven. Noted. Anyway, HitFix's Drew McWeeny is on my side of the line, calling the film "inconsequential summer programming." But let's hear what you have to say about it. Rifle off your thoughts in the comments section below when and if you see the film, and feel free to vote in our poll, too.
As I was saying the other day, James Franco has a lot going on. As an actor, he's already had four films out this year, others from Sundance and Berlin still awaiting release, while his sixth feature as a director, the William Faulkner adaptation "As I Lay Dying," just premiered at Cannes. He's got an art exhibition on the go in London, and, with his producer's cap on, is currently seeking crowdfunding for three feature-length adaptations of his short stories. Whether you love, loathe or are simply bemused by Franco, you can't accuse him of hiding his light under a bushel.
When you take a look across Sony Pictures' impressive slate for the upcoming fall movie season, it becomes clear that the studio has a lot to work with. There's George Clooney, fresh off "Argo"'s Best Picture Oscar win with his directorial effort "The Monuments Men." There's also another heavyweight from last year's Oscar race, David O. Russell, back in the saddle with a big cast in "American Hustle."
Those two would be more than enough for any awards campaign to handle, but then there's Paul Greengrass's "Captain Phillips," the true-life account of a 2009 Somali pirate raid starring Tom Hanks. And finally, "Moneyball" director Bennett Miller will be back with "Foxcatcher," the bizarre true story of convicted millionaire murderer John duPont with Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum. Something might need to blink, and the way I hear it, it may just be "Foxcatcher."
Boy, make $400 million at the box office and everyone wants to hop on your franchise. Young Adult adaptation "The Hunger Games" hit last year and it hit big, making a bigger star of Jennifer Lawrence and establishing a giant money magnet for Lionsgate in the process. The sequels were immediately set up with Lawrence and co-stars Woody Harrelson and Josh Hutcherson returning, with director Francis Lawrence at the helm.
You can hear the Oscar gurgles percolating as studios have been showing films in hushed theaters looking for feedback and shuffling their schedules to find the right release dates for this and that. Soon the fall festival season will reveal what's what and it'll be a race to the finish among the players.
As the clock ticks down on June, so it does on the first half of 2013. It's funny how fast those first six months zip by. The Oscar season bleeds into the year, March rolls around and soon enough, the summer movie season arrives. Then Cannes and before you know it, the mid-way point.
How has the year stacked up so far? Personally, I've been consistently pleased, and I'm even somewhat satisfied with the blockbuster offerings of the hot months. Could anything we've seen so far show up on the Oscar radar at the end of the year? Time will tell, but I think there are some strong possibilities.
EDINBURGH - This year's trip to the Edinburgh Film Festival has been a brief, last-minute one. After three days of attempting to distil the highlights of artistic director Chris Fujiwara's defiantly independent-minded programming -- ranging from "The Conjuring" to "Leviathan" --, I'm heading home this evening, my festival experience over before it's even begun. (Tomorrow: off to Karlovy Vary.) Still, I'll be sharing the standouts with you in a couple of paired review pieces. First up: "This Is Martin Bonner," which begins its staggered release tomorrow, and "Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction" -- which, it was announced yesterday, will be released in Los Angeles on September 13.