NEW YORK -- "The Dark Knight Rises" director Christopher Nolan stopped by the Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater Wednesday night for one of the Film Society's "An Evening with…" events. Scott Foundas moderated the discussion, which didn't focus on Nolan's full career, but rather, his experience with the character of Batman across a trilogy of films that has changed the landscape of blockbuster filmmaking and, indeed, the awards race itself.
Tech Support: 'Anna Karenina,' 'Snow White and the Huntsman' and 'A Royal Affair' feature in Best Costume Design
Oscar night is known for its glamor. “Who are you wearing” becomes a popular question to ask nominees as they make their way down the red carpet. But on screen, clothes do more than make actors look good. They certainly do that, but they also tell us something about the characters who wear them. They reveal things, telling the story visually like every other element of a production.
More than any other category, period pieces tend to dominate here. In many years, all five titles could have been classified as period. While there is usually room for one or occasionally even two fantasy nominees, such titles are not as welcome here as in, say, Best Production Design. Moreover, contemporary films tend to be cited no more than a few times a decade. Indeed, no such film was nominated between 1994 and 2006! Within this realm of “period,” clothes which are foreign and/or exotic are especially welcome, as is royalty.
After "Les Mis" premiered last week, a lot of pundits -- including our own Kris Tapley -- installed the film as the Best Picture frontrunner, but I'm not so keen to jump the "Argo" ship. The potential Oscar narrative for Ben Affleck is an attractive one for his Academy peers, and he's sure to receive a lot of honors and accolades over the next few weeks -- beginning with the handy publicity boost of Entertainment Weekly's Entertainer of the Year title. I'd have bet on Jennifer Lawrence taking that one, but this is a reminder of just how well-regarded Affleck is in showbiz circles: "Argo" producer George Clooney, naturally, leads the cheers in the magazine's tribute to him. Lawrence is also featured in the issue, of course, alongside Anne Hathaway, Seth MacFarlane and Channing Tatum, all of whom have enjoyed similarly bang-up years. [EW]
There's something to be said for not handing out lifetime achievement awards on an annual basis: when someone gets one, it's because a voting body genuinely thinks an artist's career merits the effort that goes such a tribute, and not just because they have a space to fill and that person's number has come up.
The Directors' Guild of America has been particularly stingy with their own top honor of late: the last recipient was Norman Jewison in 2010, and that came four years after the previous presentation, to Clint Eastwood. This year, the DGA has decided it's in a generous mood again, and the beneficiary is a worthy one: 80-year-old Czech-born master Milos Forman.
NEW YORK -- Focus Features is rallying the discussion around its late-season arrival "Promised Land" with a press day on Monday and an intimate luncheon this afternoon at Aquavit on 59th. Stars/screenwriters Matt Damon and John Krasinski were on hand, as well as director Gus Van Sant.
In case you were worried that Jennifer Lawrence is going a little under the radar this season, don't worry: the Santa Barbara International Film Festival is taking care of the situation. Festival director Roger Durling announced yesterday that the 22 year-old actress will receive their Outstanding Performer of the Year honor of February 2, in recognition of her 2012 work in both "Silver Linings Playbook" and "The Hunger Games." ("The House at the End of the Street" went unmentioned, though I assume that's an oversight.)
It's an award that has a reliable habit of going to Oscar frontrunners. Previous recipients Colin Firth, Penelope Cruz, Helen Mirren and Charlize Theron all received the honor en route to their eventual Oscar wins, while Kate Winslet, Heath Ledger, James Franco and last year's recipient Viola Davis were honored in years they were nominated by the Academy. (The only time the SBIFF selectors behind this award haven't seen eye-to-eye with the Academy was with Angelina Jolie in 2007, who missed the Oscar cut for "A Mighty Heart.")
As if the box-office numbers for "Life of Pi" over the weekend weren't enough, Ang Lee has found himself honored with two very different accolades over the past 24 hours. First, the French Ministry of Culture presented the Taiwanese-born director with the Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters for his contribution to the arts -- an honor previously bestowed on such non-French filmmakers as Clint Eastwood and Steven Spielberg. While that was going on, it was also announced yesterday that Lee will receive that 2013 Filmmaker Award at the Motion Picture Sound Editors' Golden Reel ceremony on February 17. MPSE president Bobbi Banks credited him with "continually break[ing] ground through the use of the latest technology both visually and sonically," adding that in "Life of Pi," "his use of Dolby Atmos guides audiences into the emotional intimacy of the sound experience." Is it one to watch in the sound categories?
NEW YORK -- Fox Searchlight Pictures held its annual east coast holiday party this evening at Andaz 5th Avenue with a nice second-floor spread with principals from the studio's awards season hopefuls -- "Beasts of the Southern Wild," "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," "Hitchcock" and "The Sessions" -- on hand. Spirits were particularly high after "Beasts" and "Sessions" combined for six Independent Spirit Award nominations (with one each for "Ruby Sparks" and "Sound of my Voice").
I was glad to finally meet "Hitchcock" director Sacha Gervasi, a charismatic guy who spoke with me about film critics baring their teeth and declaring that he "made up" the events of his film. I would posit that hero-worship may have gotten the better of many -- like, say, Manohla Dargis, whose review basically refuted reporting done by her New York Times colleague John Anderson a week earlier. "It...takes extravagant liberties with the dead," Dargis wrote. "Stephen Rebello, author of 'Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho,' the book on which 'Hitchcock' is partly based, interviewed many of Hitchcock’s collaborators on 'Psycho' and confirmed the film’s version of events," Anderson wrote.
Every year, the Independent Spirit Award nominations reveal American independent cinema to be a landscape where, to pinch Orwell's well-worn line, some are more equal than others. The awards may idealistically present themselves as a union of Davids standing tall against the hulking big-studio Goliaths, but the cosy we're-all-in-this-together front doesn't ring true when the nominees show up the gaping class chasms that exist merely within the so-called indie sphere.
No one's pretending a shoestring independent like "Middle of Nowhere" genuinely comes from the same stock as a starry mainstream entertainment like "Silver Linings Playbook"; these awards may ostensibly pitch them as fighting the same good fight, but they're doing so against very different obstacles.
The season's first major precursor nominations (sorry, Gotham Awards) have landed and, as usual, the Independent Spirit Awards have given the biggest boost to the biggest indies, amplifying the Oscar buzz they already had. It's no surprise, then, to see the Weinsteins' "Silver Linings Playbook" and Focus Features' "Moonrise Kingdom" leading the field with five nods apiece.
However, while the former's Best Picture Oscar nod was already a sure thing, the haul for "Moonrise," coming on the heels of its Gotham triumph last night, raises the question of whether Wes Anderson's nostalgic bauble, earmarked by most pundits chiefly as a screenplay contender, can crack the Academy's top field.