Kathryn Bigelow has long made it clear that she's not a filmmaker who particularly likes to speak for her own work, preferring to let her films do that on her own. She maintained that taciturnity through the early stages of the torture debate around "Zero Dark Thirty," but evidently felt it's escalated to a point where a lengthier response is warranted. Writing a guest column in the LA Times, the Oscar-winning director states: "I do wonder if some of the sentiments alternately expressed about the film might be more appropriately directed at those who instituted and ordered these U.S. policies, as opposed to a motion picture that brings the story to the screen. Those of us who work in the arts know that depiction is not endorsement ... On a practical and political level, it does seem illogical to me to make a case against torture by ignoring or denying the role it played in U.S. counter-terrorism policy and practices." [LA Times]
Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nominee "War Witch" could, I think, have been a real contender for the win in another year; the African-set child soldier drama delivers an emotional punch that's hard to argue with. As it is, it'll likely remain nobly content with the nomination, but it stands to dominate at its local answer to the Oscars, the Canadian Screen Awards. With 12 nominations, the film leads the field for the inaugural awards, which have assimilated the formerly separate Genie and Gemini Awards.
The word "snub" is one we all abuse on occasion -- I prefer "not nominated," since it doesn't imply active antagonism -- and I've seen it used a lot lately about Leonardo DiCaprio. It doesn't seem justified in his case either, given that the Academy evidently has a lot of respect for someone they've nominated three times, but it's true that he does boast more near-misses than most working actors today. Daniel Montgomery, meanwhile, notices an interesting anomaly: he's starred as a lead in six Best Picture nominees -- usually a decent route to Oscar attention -- but has only been nominated for one of them. Of course, "Django Unchained," in which he came up against unfortunate internal competition, is the latest example of this odd phenomenon. [Gold Derby]
The USC Scripter Awards is celebrating its silver anniversary this year. And in this 25th year, the USC Libraries' set of nominees is reflective of a very competitive year as, for the first time ever, a tie resulted in six nominees as opposed to the usual five.
The Directors Guild of America (DGA) has offered up its list of nominees for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary Filmmaking, and it's a nice slice of vindication for a pair of Oscar snubees.
The last 100 hours or so in Hollywood has been intriguing, to say the least. The Oscar nominations on Thursday sent a series of shockwaves throughout the industry and were marvelously reflective of a tightly contended, stellar year of filmmaking. And of course, two names have been on everyone's lips since the Thursday morning bombshell: Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow.
First and foremost, I don't think it's an "embarrassment" that they were left off the list of Best Director nominees. That word has been thrown around a lot this weekend but I think it's a facile direction to go. Let's be honest. Steven Spielberg, Ang Lee, Michael Haneke, Benh Zeitlin and, though I don't like the film, David O. Russell (it is, after all, a genre rarely recognized, certainly for direction) is a strong, fascinating slate of nominees. And it would appear the two who scooted Affleck and Bigelow out of the mix were Haneke and Zeitlin. So let's look at that.
It was all smiles at the Warner Bros./In Style party Sunday night as team "Argo" had grabbed yet another one-two Best Picture/Best Director punch after the film's director Ben Affleck was unceremoniously snubbed from the Oscars' Best Director line-up late last week. The film is hitting rare air and hopes are high with the studio that they can still pull off some magic at the Academy Awards, despite the "stats.
For his part, Affleck felt vindicated. He confided that after Thursday morning he wondered how much people really liked the movie, if it was a sign of something. But after the Critics' Choice Movie Awards and the Golden Globes, he has an extra spring in his step. And as an observer, I love this moment for him. But I'll get into that more in a column tomorrow.
'Django' is Tarantino's biggest hit and 'Lincoln' crosses $150 mil as Best Picture nominees storm the box office this year
Kudos to The Weinstein Company this year for finding a fortunate release strategy in "Silver Linings Playbook" after bungling the release of "The Master" in September. It looks like it's going to work out. But I imagine most over there are happy as of late that "Django Unchained" is hitting as big as it is. Indeed, they needed this.
Not only that, but with this weekend's $11 million take, the film has become Quentin Tarantino's highest-grossing film to date. "Django" crossed the $125 million mark this weekend, besting the $120 million total "Inglourious Basterds" brought in 2009. It was down about 40% from last weekend with very little change in screen count and will likely percolate for a while longer.
Meanwhile, this is all part and parcel of the story of the year: Best Picture nominees have been box office hogs.
At this point, anyone who hasn't seen "Zero Dark Thirty" -- which is the majority of the movie-going public -- has had to hear it chewed on and mulled over for well over a month. Critics awards and controversy have shrouded the film upon delivery to a wider audience this weekend, and it's turned up #1 at the box office as a result. But how about some reactions? When/if you get around to the film, and indeed, if you already have, cut loose with your thoughts on it in the comments section below.
In years past, the Best Documentary Feature, Best Short Film (Animated) and Best Short Film (Live Action) categories have been decided by the limited amount of members who could make it to the screenings of the films and therefore prove they viewed them before voting. This has always made predicting the results of those categories a little interesting, given the assumed "typical" sort of member who would have the time to participate. Things are changing this year, though.
In an email AMPAS president Hawk Koch sent out to Academy members, he notes that, "For the first time this year, our entire membership will be able to vote in three additional categories. The Academy will be sending you DVD screeners of the nominated films from these three categories before final voting begins." However, he added, "We look forward to seeing you at our screenings of the nominated films, which will begin on January 19 in Los Angeles, New York, London and San Francisco." So obviously a theatrical look is still preferred.