Tom Hanks has been out and about plenty this week promoting today's release of "Cloud Atlas." I caught him on Letterman earlier this week, wonderful as ever, the perfect salesman. And yesterday, he showed up at "The Colbert Report" to engage in a little Halloween sketch built around that salesmanship.
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 accidentally neglected to mention the Hollywood Film Awards in yesterday's roundup. There may be much skepticism in the blogosphere as to their credibility, but like it or not, they are an awards show at the start of the season -- and we can expect to see a lot more of certain honorees in the months to come. Of course, the winners had all been announced beforehand: "Silver Linings Playbook" was a favorite of theirs, taking directing honors for David O. Russell, while Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro were named actor and supporting actor of the year, respectively. Others winners included Marion Cotillard, Amy Adams and Quvenzhané Wallis -- but by the time "Django Unchained" wins for its screenplay, when no one's yet had a chance to see how the script works on film, you get why they're not taken too seriously. As usual, Scott Feinberg is the go-to man on this subject. [The Race]
With the November 1 eligibility due date looming around the corner, it's time to really dig in on the Best Animated Feature Film category. Currently there are 16 titles assumed eligible for the award, which has been dished out at the annual Oscars for 11 years now. And that 12-year history has shown an interesting progression for the category.
The rise of GKIDS in the indie sector has shaken this race up a bit as of late, seemingly giving animators the artistic alternatives that they don't always get out of the commercial lot. The dirty little secret about the animated feature category is that it was, long before the Best Picture category's facelift, the first real step the Academy made toward allowing space for commercial films and therefore providing general audiences a better sense of accessibility to the annual Oscarcast.
But over time the category has naturally evolved, all the way up until just last year, when the studios were up against it as Pixar was shut out after winning the award four years in a row, two indie titles faced off against two traditional animation house films (from the same studio, in fact) and the win went to an in-house gem that came from a non-animator filmmaker who made his name in live action.
We all know what a pot sounds like when it comes crashing to the kitchen floor. But what about a Hulk smashing things? Or a Lizard man hissing? Or a bear screeching? Or a…Bane…making a tumbler fall several stories?
Such sounds can rarely be properly captured while filming, leaving our supervising sound editors with the responsibility of creating them. They are awarded at the Oscars for their accomplishments in the category of Best Sound Editing.
Like Best Sound Mixing, this category’s nominees are picked by the sound branch, though winners are chosen by the Academy as a whole. The category tends to favor action films and war films. This is unsurprising given the need to create distinctive aural accoutrement in such movies. Animated films, particularly those of Pixar, also do exceptionally well given that there is usually is no “filming” in the traditional sense where sounds would be captured.
As our recent top 10 list of her best work made clear, we love Nicole Kidman. So it's no surprise that my pick of yesterday's internet action is this fascinating piece the Oscar-winning actress wrote for The Hollywood Reporter, reflecting on the making "Eyes Wide Shut" with Stanley Kubrick. In it, she touches on her personal discovery of Kubrick's work, her affectionate, admiring relationship with a director that she refused to glorify and her closeness to Tom Cruise during filming -- despite media suspicions that the film wrecked their marriage. She writes: "Stanley wanted to use our marriage as a supposed reality... He used the movie as provocation, pretending it was our sex life -- which we weren't oblivious to, but obviously it wasn't us." Essential reading: more of this kind of thing, please. [THR]
“It's really... commercial,” a friend remarked to me as we left yesterday's screening of “Silver Linings Playbook,” a press-and-BAFTA mixer that was as warmly received as its buoyant Toronto debut had promised it would be. He said it with a hint of distaste, and he's not the only one resistant to its unapologetically Audience Award-y charms -- there are those who believe that a film dealing with tricky variations of mental illness and familial damage should perhaps make itself harder to like. Or just a little harder, period.
For my part, I joined the majority faction of those beguiled by the film. I delighted in the same free-jazz trick David O. Russell pulled so deftly with “The Fighter” two years ago: injecting tried-and-true narrative formula with agitated sociable energy, leaving the whole scrappier and more abrasive than most Hollywood journeymen would given the same script. It's a crowdpleaser that's at once comforting and unfamiliar as it hits its romantic comedy marks, giving its two superb leads plenty of space to see each other as emotional chaos slowly finds its way to order.
NEW YORK -- It's not like John Goodman hasn't been working consistently enough for a couple of decades, but the last two years have shown a stunning proliferation by anyone's measure. Last year he was featured in two eventual Best Picture nominees -- the Oscar-winning "The Artist" and Stephen Daldry's "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" -- as well as a recurring role on TV's "Community."
This year he's following that up with roles in a trio of awards season hopefuls ("Argo," "Flight" and "Trouble with the Curve") as well as some voice work in Henry Selick's "ParaNorman," while 2013 will bring the antagonist of "The Hangover: Part III," some more voice work in the much-anticipated Pixar sequel "Monsters University" and his fifth collaboration with the Coen brothers ("Inside Llewyn Davis").
In case you'd never noticed, Quentin Tarantino makes pretty snappily dressed movies. From the monochrome suits of "Reservoir Dogs" to the Bride's mustard tracksuit in "Kill Bill," the man knows the iconic power of a garment. The Academy's costume branch has never shared his taste -- not even, surprisingly enough, when he went all period on their asses in "Inglourious Basterds." Chris Laverty wonders if the jazzy-looking "Django Unchained" wardrobe, designed by former nominee Sharen Davis, could finally break their resistance: he touches on her research for the project, and the relevance of the film's narrowly pre-Civil War setting. [Clothes On Film]
On a slow news day for awards pundits, my mind got to wandering -- as is the rather tragic wont of awards pundits' minds -- to matters of trivia and statistics. When a colleague asked me to provide him with a list of the 2012 Oscar nominees that can, even at this early stage, be set in stone, one of the few titles I could comfortably jot down for inclusion, of course, was "Argo." Its current, widely perceived status as the Best Picture frontrunner isn't unassailable, but there are no grounds on which one can doubt its nomination: critically and commercially proven, popular in the industry, with no weaknesses in sight, it's officially in the black, as it were.
That means Ben Affleck can add at least one nomination -- well, with Best Director, almost certainly two -- to an Oscar record sheet that has remained unmarked since his joint screenplay win for "Good Will Hunting" 15 years ago. Win or lose, it's a happy turn of events for a career many thought was headed for punchline status a decade ago. But he's not the only major Hollywood star for whom an "Argo" nod would represent a milestone: some guy called George Clooney stands to make history with the film.