A couple of weeks ago, we reported that George Clooney will receive the Stanley Kubrick Award for Excellence in Film at the Britannia Awards, an annual event held by BAFTA's Los Angeles division to celebrate unity between the British and US film industries. Today, two further honorees were confirmed for the November 9 ceremony: Kathryn Bigelow and Ben Kingsley.
We have a host. Studios have made their fall festival moves. Potential season players like "Captain Phillips" and "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" and "The Fifth Estate" and "Gravity," etc., have secured their big reveals. Telluride is on the horizon and with it, the season. You ready to do this?
I'm not. Not yet, anyway. We looked at the sidebar and figured it's been a month, let's refresh the predictions and typically, a column comes with that. But what's there to say? Okay, there is this and that…
If you were A24 Films you had to be a tad worried going into the opening weekend of "The Spectacular Now." The Sundance favorite received, um, spectacular reviews (81 on Metacritic, 90% on Rotten Tomatoes), but the art house market and audience can only expand so much in the summer. "Blue Jasmine" is already a powerhouse and "Fruitvale Station" and "The Way Way Back" continue to do very strong business. Could "Spectacular" find an audience during this traditionally slow time for prestige indies? Thankfully, there was no need for concern. "Spectacular" is off to an excellent start grossing $200,000 or $50,000 per theater. And, happily, it means the great performances from Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley will not be forgotten.
Well, AMPAS brass decided to end the speculation mercifully early this year, announcing Ellen DeGeneres as the host of next year's Academy Awards ceremony -- her second stab at one of showbiz's trickiest gigs, having first done the job to amiable effect back in 2007. And predictably enough, the news has met with a mixed response: for everyone who's happy to see DeGeneres return with her warm, non-confrontational approach, there's another (like our own Greg Ellwood) who thinks it's too conservative a choice.
I very rarely run a transcript/Q&A-style interview because, well, on one hand I think it's kind of lazy (not always). On the other, I'm a writer and I like to write, I like to paint a portrait of someone and use their words as tools toward those ends.
But sometimes you talk to someone whose every word you want to print, and filmmaker Derek Cianfrance is definitely one of those guys. The director of "The Place Beyond the Pines" has been making the rounds lately to discuss the film again as it heads for DVD/Blu-ray next week and so it was a great opportunity to finally see the film (I had missed it in theatrical) and talk to him about his vision for it.
Yesterday, Kris and I looked over a number of upcoming potential prestige films that, despite high-profile festival appointments, are still seeking a foothold in the distribution market. Today, coincidentally enough, a trailer has arrived that handily proves just how long the journey from a festival premiere to an actual release can be -- even for a relatively big-name project. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Billy Bob Thornton's "Jayne Mansfield's Car."
When I woke up this morning I checked my inbox on my phone and quickly saw there were a number of E-mails with the headline "Ellen DeGeneres returns to host…" My first thought was, "Wow, FOX must have spent a ton of money to get DeGeneres to return as an 'American Idol' judge. I wonder if that means Jennifer Lopez is still coming back?" Of course, a host and a judge are two very different things (don't worry Seacrest your job is safe and I was half awake) and it quickly dawned on me that, instead, DeGeneres is heading for her second go around as Oscar host.
There are an awful lot of ifs, maybes and "in talks" still attached to this story, so don't get too excited (or bewildered) just yet, but it's certainly the least expected pre-production news of the day: veteran Chinese director Zhang Yimou is in the frame to direct his first Hollywood studio feature, "Quasimodo" -- obviously enough, a take on the oft-filmed Victor Hugo chestnut "The Hunchback of Notre Dame."
You can hear the machinery clicking to life. We've moved into August, meaning the Telluride Film Festival is just four short weeks away. Trailers are landing, festival announcements are filling email inboxes and soon enough the awards season will be in full swing.
As we inch closer, however, there are still a number of films that, at least on paper, would appear to have a lot of awards season potential. Many of them are playing the early fall fests, Toronto in particular, given the market for product at that annual showcase. It's possible this studio or that decides some added firepower is needed and they go shopping for more Oscar players, but just as many will be scooped up for 2014 release.
With all that in mind, Guy and I have put our heads together to come up with a list of 15 that, at least to our eye, could figure into the race in some way big or small if acquired in a timely fashion. We've noted festival players, though in the case of Telluride -- as ever -- all we can do is guess. So we've hung a "maybe" out on a few in that regard.
James Cameron taps 'Terminator,' 'Jurassic Park IV' and 'Aliens vs. Predator' writers for three 'Avatar' sequels
Four years ago James Cameron's "Avatar" made a huge impact on the film industry landscape. Raking in over $2 billion worldwide, it became the highest grossing film of all time and altered the business pattern of distribution by (unfortunately) ushering in the era of inflated ticket prices for 3D movies.