Oscar Talk: 2013 so far, fall festival preview and a look to the season ahead

Oscar Talk: 2013 so far, fall festival preview and a look to the season ahead

Our first podcast of the season dives deep

Welcome to Oscar Talk.

In case you're new to the site and/or the podcast, Oscar Talk is a one-stop awards chat shop between yours truly and Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood. The podcast is broadcast in special installments 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.

On the docket today…

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<p>Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo on the set of &quot;Foxcatcher.&quot;</p>

Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo on the set of "Foxcatcher."

Credit: Sony Classics

Sony Classics brings 'Foxcatcher' into the Oscar season

Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo and Steve Carell star in Bennett Miller's latest

Over the past few months, we've had a lot of queries from readers as to the release plans for Bennett Miller's star-studded, stranger-than-fiction biopic "Foxcatcher." The film has long looked like prime Oscar fodder, but it wasn't clear who would be distributing it, or whether it would be released this year at all. Back in June, Kris pondered its prospects, mentioning the possibility that the film could wind up as part of Sony Pictures Classics' 2013 awards slate.

And so it is. The speculation ended today with Sony Classics' announcement that they will be distributing "Foxcatcher," with a release date set for December 20.

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<p>&quot;The Act of Killing&quot;</p>

"The Act of Killing"

Credit: Drafthouse Films

Denmark's Oscar choice between 'The Hunt,' 'The Act of Killing' and 'Northwest'

Mads Mikkelsen drama is the safe bet, but the controversial doc would turn heads

As a rule, I don't tend to report on the shortlists of films being considered by individual countries for their Best Foreign Language Film Oscar submission -- the process is protracted enough without dwelling on the films (many of them low-profile) that might enter the race. However, when the shortlist presents a choice as intriguing and diverse as the one revealed by Denmark's selection board this year, it's worth making an exception. The Danish Film Institute today announced that the final three films in the running are Thomas Vinterberg's "The Hunt," Joshua Oppenheimer's "The Act of Killing" and Michael Noer's "Northwest."

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<p>Zhang Ziyi in &quot;The Grandmaster.&quot;</p>

Zhang Ziyi in "The Grandmaster."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Martin Scorsese lends his name to Wong Kar-wai's 'The Grandmaster'

Will it boost the film's fortunes ahead of its August 23 release?

Ever since it landed slightly softly at the Berlin Film Festival back in February, it seems The Weinstein Company has been doing its best to re-engineer “The Grandmaster” less as an art house item than as a crossover piece. It’s probably for the best. Wong Kar-wai devotees, hungry for the film after years of protracted waiting, will catch the film regardless, whether or not its critical reception improves upon its US release. Genre enthusiasts, however, will need more persuading on a film that, given Wong’s trademark flourishes of woozy romanticism, is still far from conventional martial-arts fare. 

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<p>A scene from &quot;The Wind Rises.&quot;</p>

A scene from "The Wind Rises."

Credit: Studio Ghibli

New trailer for Miyazaki's 'The Wind Rises' grounds spectacle in reality

And yes, the film will be released in time for Oscar consideration

One of the films I'm most looking forward to seeing at Venice in a couple of weeks' time -- and I'm not pretending this is a particularly original choice -- is Hayao Miyazaki's "The Wind Rises." Miyazaki is the rare animation director who has ascended to A-list auteur status, but while his last feature, "Ponyo," arguably found him (literally) treading water, this ambitious new project represents an exciting creative leap for him. Dropping the fantasy that has dominated most of his features, the film is a fictionalized biopic of WWII fighter plane designer Jiro Horikoshi, as told in the work of renowned writer and poet Tatsuo Hori.

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<p>Amy&nbsp;Adams in &quot;American Hustle&quot;</p>

Amy Adams in "American Hustle"

Credit: Sony Pictures

Performances on the lead-supporting bubble dance with category placement this season

Studios strategize on what's best but at the end of the day AMPAS will have its say

This week's report about Meryl Streep potentially being campaigned in the supporting actress category for her performance in John Wells' "August: Osage County" reminds of a slew of actors in a similar boat this year, dancing with category selection with arguments to be made on both sides.

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<p>Hans Zimmer</p>

Hans Zimmer

Credit: AP Photo

Hans Zimmer to receive Classic BRIT Award

Also, an FYC plea for his 'Lone Ranger' score

Okay, I'm just going to put this out there: I would really, really like Hans Zimmer to get an Oscar nomination for his tremendous score to "The Lone Ranger." The film may already be a punchline in industry circles -- undeservedly so, I think -- and the film's makers haven't done themselves any favors with their silly complaints of critical conspiracy. But it's one of the most remarkable crafts showcases Hollywood has produced this year (yes, the production budget is ludicrous, but at least it's evident), and Zimmer's elaborate orchestrations are among its foremost virtues.

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<p>Kirsten Dunst</p>

Kirsten Dunst

Credit: AP Photo

Kirsten Dunst joins Michael Shannon and Joel Edgerton in Jeff Nichols' 'Midnight Special'

The director of 'Take Shelter' and 'Mud' is back at work

Jeff Nichols' "Mud" may be fresh in everyone's mind this summer, but the film -- which premiered at Cannes almost a year before its eventual release -- is old news for its eager writer-director, who's already at work on his fourth feature.

And if you thought the Southern-fried coming-of-age tale found the maker of "Shotgun Stories" and "Take Shelter" embracing a slightly brighter shade of indie, you'll note that his flirtation with the mainstream has become a commitment: backed by Warner Bros., the supernatural adventure "Midnight Special" will be his first studio production.

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<p>Saoirse Ronan</p>

Saoirse Ronan

Credit: AP Photo

Saoirse Ronan and Susanne Bier in line for (another) 'Mary Queen of Scots'

Elizabethan royalty porn is back in style

A couple of weeks ago, Kris and I cast an eye over a number of upcoming prestige films still seeking US distribution as they head into the fall festival season. One of the longer shots for awards consideration on that list was “MARY Queen of Scots” (no, I don’t know what the capitalization is about either), a French-made take on the life of the ill-fated 16th-century royal, in which the eponymous Mary Stuart is played by relative newcomer Camille Rutherford. It’s a role that landed Vanessa Redgrave a Best Actress Oscar nomination for 1971’s rather stodgy “Mary Queen of Scots,” and the Academy’s taste for British royalty hasn’t waned since.


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<p>Dario Marianelli at the 2007 Academy Awards.</p>

Dario Marianelli at the 2007 Academy Awards.

Credit: AP Photo

BAFTA to spotlight work of Dario Marianelli and George Fenton

The pair selected for this year's Conversations with Screen Composers series

Last year, BAFTA inaugurated its Conversations with Screen Composers series, which proved a popular one: it's always nice to see industry groups highlighting its artists outside an awards context, particularly in a forum that's open to the public. Rachel Portman, the first woman to win a scoring Oscar, was the most prominent of three composers whose work was discussed and performed in a showcase at London's iconic Royal Albert Hall. The format was successful enough that it's being repeated this year with two significant film composers: Dario Marianelli and George Fenton.

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