Oscar Talk: Ep. 89 -- 'Life of Pi' opens NYFF but is it a player?

Oscar Talk: Ep. 89 -- 'Life of Pi' opens NYFF but is it a player?

Also: Surveying the Best Actor field and disagreeing on 'Silver Linings Playbook'

Welcome to Oscar Talk.

In case you're new to the site and/or the podcast, Oscar Talk is a weekly kudocast, your one-stop awards chat shop between yours truly and Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood. The podcast is weekly, every Friday throughout the season, charting the ups and downs of contenders along the way. Plenty of things change en route to Oscar's stage and we're here to address it all as it unfolds.

This week the New York Film Festival is launching and October is right around the corner. We're catching up with this and that along the way and have plenty to mull over as always, so with that, let's see what's on the docket today...

Read Full Post
<p>Suraj Sharma in &quot;Life of Pi&quot;</p>

Suraj Sharma in "Life of Pi"

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Ang Lee's 'Life of Pi' roars into the Oscar season

The visionary filmmaker taps a narrative of soul and spirit

NEW YORK -- Translating Yann Martel's award-winning novel "Life of Pi" to film has proven to be a daunting task for filmmakers kicking the tires on it for the better part of a decade, but in the hands of someone like Ang Lee, it was already getting off on the right foot. While the film, which opens the New York Film Festival this evening, takes some time revving past a clunky first act, it eventually settles into a visionary sweet spot for well over an hour. Messy though it may be, it's affecting on the whole for the truths with which it concerns itself and the journey it so passionately suggests.

The story of the film is the visual scope of the endeavor, and Lee's work with visual effects artists and cinematographer Claudio Miranda ("The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "TRON Legacy") has produced some of the most awe-inspiring images likely to grace a screen this year. And indeed, Lee wanted that extra power, so much so that he was basically thinking of 3D before he was thinking of 3D, as he put it at a press conference this morning. "I didn't think it was possible without 3D," he said. "It needed another dimension."

Read Full Post
<p>Suraj Sharma in &quot;Life of Pi.&quot;</p>

Suraj Sharma in "Life of Pi."

Credit: Twentieth Century-Fox

Roundup: Awaiting the New York premiere of 'Life of Pi'

Also: 'Life rights' in 'The Hurt Locker,' and Kylie talks 'Holy Motors'

The New York Film Festival kicks off its golden-anniversary edition tonight with the world premiere of Ang Lee's "Life of Pi" -- Kris will be on hand to offer his thoughts. In the meantime, A.O. Scott shares his notes on the films he's seen from the lineup, including "Pi," which he describes as "a lavish reminder that film nowadays is sometimes not film at all, but rather a rapidly evolving digital art form." He also notes that it's an unusually large-scale choice of opener for an arthouse-dominated fest that kicked off with an Alain Resnais film three years ago. Have they sold out? Scott discusses. [New York Times]

Read Full Post
<p>A scene from Ernst Lubitsch's &quot;The&nbsp;Patriot&quot;</p>

A scene from Ernst Lubitsch's "The Patriot"

Credit: Paramount Pictures

The Academy goes on the hunt for its own history

A 1928 Best Picture nominee by Ernst Lubitsch is still at large

Fixating as we do on the seasonal ins and outs of the Oscar process, it’s easy to forget that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has a purpose beyond handing out gold stars to the industry’s great and good. As an organization dedicated both to the development and preservation of the medium, they have fostered a wealth of films and archive materials that have scant relationship to the Academy Awards. Little wonder they warmed so to the film-preservation paean that was “Hugo” last year.

Still, when their archiving obligations overlap with celebration of the awards that made them famous, it’s an irresistible promotional opportunity for AMPAS. Hence the launch of their Oscar’s Most Wanted movement, which seeks to complete their library of every single film, short or feature-length, that was once graced with the golden man’s touch.

Read Full Post

Taking questions for 9/28 Oscar Talk

Offer up your burning queries

You know the drill. Oscar Talk is back tomorrow with a new installment so if you have any burning questions, offer them here. We'll be talking NYFF and "Life of Pi," the weekend's releases and this and that. Rifle off your need-to-knows and we'll try to address a few in the podcast.

Read Full Post
<p>HitFix Awards</p>

HitFix Awards

Credit: HitFix

Introducing HitFix's Awards Channel

Your awards hub for film, TV and music

The move to HitFix has put us right at the center of some exciting developments on the film awards coverage side of things, and one of those elements was revealed yesterday. We've established a separate Awards Channel that will serve as your hub for all of HitFix's awards coverage, whether it's music, TV or film. We've got your Grammy, Emmy and Oscar fix.

In addition to circulating all of our content in this spectrum, the channel also offers the usual bells and whistles of HitFix: calendar reminders, links to our Contenders section, video interviews and more. There is also easy access to all of the site's festival coverage. So add a new bookmark!

Read Full Post
<p>Joaquin Phoenix in 'The Master.'</p>

Joaquin Phoenix in 'The Master.'

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Roundup: Are we getting too precious about 'The Master?'

Plus: Parsing the Bat's Oscar hopes, and 'Won't Back Down' pushback

As with most works of high-reaching ambition that critics can't quite agree on -- even those that like it -- "The Master" continues to inspire some of the knottiest film writing of the year. For her part, Stephanie Zacharek admires the film, but suggests a lot of her colleagues feel it's entitled to more thought and attention than it really is. She spins that into an observation of lofty, anti-mainstream festival titles in general: "There’s a danger in erecting false walls around different corners of the culture, of claiming some movies deserve our respect by virtue of who made them and of how they’re made, regardless of whether they arouse any passion in us." [The AV Club]

Read Full Post
<p>Meryl&nbsp;Streep in &quot;Hope Springs&quot;</p>

Meryl Streep in "Hope Springs"

Credit: Columbia Pictures

The Long Shot: The drawbacks of being a wallflower

Why everyman stories get short shrift with the Academy

On Monday, a colleague pointed out to me that the next Academy Awards were, to the day, five months away. Strangely, he said it in the panicked tone of someone on whom Christmas has too swiftly crept up, whereas all I could think of was how dauntingly far away it sounded. Five months is a long time to parse the possibility of a third consecutive Best Picture from the Weinstein stable, to debate Philip Seymour Hoffman’s category placement, and for Jeff Wells to denigrate Daniel Day-Lewis’s Abe Lincoln accent; this weekly column, meanwhile, will have mulled over more than enough unseen variables before the season is out. Welcome.

Read Full Post
<p>Could &quot;Frankenweenie&quot; take the Oscar for Disney?</p>

Could "Frankenweenie" take the Oscar for Disney?

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Roundup: The Mouse House looks to reclaim the animation crown

Also: Designing 'Anna Karenina,' and early Oscar blogger meltdowns

Apologies for the very late roundup today: I've been having substantial technical problems. We kick off with a look at an Oscar category that few pundits claim to have a bead on: the Best Animated Feature category. In the second consecutive year that Pixar doesn't have it all wrapped up, Glenn Whipp surveys a highly flexible field, and wonders if venerable parent company Disney couldn't reclaim its dominance of the medium and score a trio of nods: with Tim Burton's well-received "Frankenweenie" (the one to beat, from where I'm standing) and "Wreck-It Ralph" bracketing Pixar's generally liked-but-not-loved "Brave." Wouldn't it be fun to have a race in this category for a change? [LA Times]

Read Full Post
(from left) "Anna Karenina," "The Master" and "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" join the hunt for Best Picture.
(from left) "Anna Karenina," "The Master" and "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" join the hunt for Best Picture.
Credit: Focus Features/The Weinstein Company/Warner Bros. Pictures

Best Picture 2013: Potential nominees from 'Amour' to 'Zero Dark Thirty'

Surveying the field as the 2012-2013 Oscar season commences

The Oscar season is just warming up as the Venice, Telluride and Toronto film festivals have gotten us started. The New York and London film fests around the corner will keep things humming and in the meantime, a survey of the field is in order. This year's crop of possibilities is as diverse as ever, genre and foreign film making their voices heard, while animation is curiously absent. Presidential biopics are represented, as are political thrillers. Comedy, as ever, barely shows up, while Hollywood gets a unique spotlight the year after industry nostalgia owned the season. There's something for western fans, comic book fans and literary fans, so click through to check out our cross-section of the players, from "A(mour)" to "Z(ero" Dark Thirty). And of course, keep track of the ups and downs of the category all season at In Contention's Best Picture Contenders page.

Read Full Post