Are the Disney and Pixar animation brands beginning to merge into each other? Josh L. Dickey is asking the question, as he notes that Pixar's tradition-focused summer hit "Brave" seemed to borrow significantly from the classic Disney storybook, while Disney's current smash "Wreck-It Ralph" is a hi-tech, pop-savvy firecracker that seems more informed by the contemporary Pixar model of crossover entertainment. (Dickey also wonders if "Ralph"'s box office performance would be even more impressive if it had been released under the Pixar label.) Are the twin houses going to borrow more from each other from here on out, or should Disney be mindful of preserving its more old-school identity? With their next film a Hans Christian Andersen fairytale adaptation, perhaps the overlap is temporary. [Variety]
Kris inaugurated our Oscar Bait column, in which we muse on the awards potential of projects still in development or production, a few weeks ago with some thoughts on Tom Hanks's upcoming turn as Walt Disney in "Saving Mr. Banks." Unfortunately, we've neglected to revisit the feature since -- as the season ramps up, after all, it's a challenge to see as far ahead as February, let alone to films that haven't even been made yet.
But when promising news dropped last week concerning the long-forestalled film adaptation of Lois Lowry's "The Giver," I pricked up my ears. Pre-production talk doesn't tend to grab my attention, but in this case I was willing to make an exception -- not least because I'd been talking with friends about my desire for "The Giver" to eventually reach the screen only two days before. (Sadly, this power to magick a project into being seems to be a one-time deal: I've casually been inserting Wong Kar-wai's abandoned Nicole Kidman collaboration "The Lady from Shanghai" into conversations for a whole week, but no dice.)
The cults surrounding "Twilight" and "Star Wars" may not look very similar, but what they do share is a near-evangelical belief in the cultural significance of their respective franchises. I wouldn't want to get in a fight with either of them -- let alone between them -- yet that's what UK critic Mark Kermode has done... and he's on the side of the Twi-hards. With "Breaking Dawn: Part 2" hitting screens this week, he isn't afraid to admit that he's excited. Claiming that most critics' dismissal of the series marks them as "out of touch," he adds: "I've had a lot more fun watching and arguing about the Twilight movies than I ever had with the Star Wars saga, that lumbering, narratively hobbled space opera which, we now learn, is to return to our screens for yet more boring instalments in the not too distant future." Hey, I'm just the messenger. [The Guardian]
When you stack up the Oscar records of cinematographer Roger Deakins, composer Thomas Newman and sound mixer Greg P. Russell, an amazing stat hits you in the face: 0-34. Three guys have gone to the Oscars 34 times and not once have they walked away with a trophy. And this year, each of them feature on one of the biggest critical and commercial hits of the year: Sam Mendes' "Skyfall."
The Oscars may seem some way off still, but the short film categories are already getting down to business. A couple of weeks ago, we got the official, er, shortlist for Best Documentary Short; now, Best Animated Short is the next category to whittle down the playing field.
Ten titles have advanced to the second voting stage, selected by the Academy's Short Film and Feature Animation Reviewing Committee from a pool of 56 entries. Interestingly, the press release states that three to five of the 10 will be nominated, though there haven't been fewer than five nominees in the category since 2000.
One of the most buzzed films of the Oscar season hits theaters today after having its "official" bow at AFI Fest last night. The film comes into the season with huge expectations and, by most accounts -- including, most definitely, my own -- it rises to them. But I don't expect the film will land so well with everyone, so I'll be curious to hear what others think. When you get around to it, do let us know your take in the comments section below. And as always, feel free to rate it above.
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.
I'm kind of hoping I can get to the theater while I'm in LA this week to see Sam Mendes' "Skyfall" again, which I quite liked. Guy was mostly positive on it, too. I'd particularly like to take it in on IMAX to soak in those beautiful Roger Deakins images. With much talk after the film opened early overseas (mopping up at the box office), it landed on these shores yesterday. So I'm very curious to know what our readers might think of it. If you get around to seeing it, come on back here and tell us what you thought. And as always, feel free to rate it above.
With Alan Cumming hosting, Matt Stone and Trey Parker on the winners list and Daniel Day-Lewis taking the stage with an Eastwooding routine, BAFTA/LA's Britannia Awards sound considerably more fun than their parent organization's February ceremony across the pond. Then again, that's often the case with awards shows the general public doesn't really know about -- though they'll have a chance to see for themselves when the ceremony is broadcast this Sunday on BBC America.
The Britannia Awards, which have been held by the British Academy's Los Angeles outcrop since 1989, aren't a competitive ceremony, but rather a celebration of a selected handful of individuals -- usually mostly British, though not this year -- deemed to have enriched the medium. It's not an award tied to specific films, though they often alight on artists who already have a clear presence in the awards season.
The AFI Fest closed last night with the "world premiere" (even if the NYFF let the cat out of the bag weeks ago) of "Lincoln," but not before handing out some awards. And the big winner was... well, Scandinavia. Swedish immigrant drama "Eat Sleep Die" took the Grand Jury Prize, and the superb Danish thriller "A Hijacking" (see my Variety review) took the Audience Award in the New Auteurs section, but the big winner from an Oscar perspective was Denmark's foreign-language submission "A Royal Affair," which underlined its serious contender status by taking the World Cinema Audience Award. Not many were paying attention when it won two prizes at Berlin in February, but this smart historical romance has grown in stature ever since. It wasn't the only foreign Oscar hopeful to take a gong: Kenya's first-ever entry, "Nairobi Half Life" was also rewarded. [AFI Fest]