No one needs awards coverage this deep
The film played well for a mixed guild/AMPAS crowd at the WGA last night
The poster for Oren Moverman's "Rampart"
Credit: Millennium Entertainment
For whatever reason I've been saying no to Q&A moderation requests the last year or two. But when I was asked to do one last night for a mixed guild/AMPAS screening of Oren Moverman's "Rampart," I jumped at the opportunity. I was anxious to talk with Woody Harrelson again (after first crossing paths with him two years ago in the publicity blitz for "The Messenger"), and I was interested to see how the film played.
And it played really well. Lots of reverence for the actor (who joined me at the WGA with writer/director Oren Moverman and co-star Brie Larson) and, of course, the tour de force performance he delivers in the film.
Much of the discussion centered on Moverman's process of filming, allowing for no rehearsals and finding things organically. Larson quipped she is "ruined" after this experience, because she doesn't want to work any other way, while Harrelson admitted he prefers the preparation of rehearsal and it'll take him a good five or six takes to really get warmed up.
The director recently discussed the swift development of his Christmas 2011 entry
Jeremy Irvine (left) and Steven Spielberg on the set of "War Horse"
Credit: Touchstone Pictures
As Anne and I discussed in Friday's Oscar Talk podcast, Disney/DreamWorks has been screening Steven Spielberg's "War Horse" to the public in a pop-up screening strategy kinda/sorta like the one Paramount employed for "Young Adult." Some are taking the cynical route, thinking the strategy is playing keep-away with a film that doesn't have the goods for Oscar. The goal of these screenings is indeed fuzzy, but the reactions are key, and they seem to be wide-ranging.
If you dissect Twitter you can find them. Some call the film a "masterpiece." Others call it shameless "Oscar bait." Whatever it is, I stand by my comments on Friday. If press members want to feel scorned by not getting an early look at such a highly anticipated film and then take it out on said film, that's incredibly petty and sad. I look forward to seeing and hopefully enjoying the film on its own terms.
Meanwhile, though, the press tour is showing signs of life. And one of the first considerable interviews with Spielberg I've seen regarding the film has popped up over at the Chicago Tribune with film critic Michael Phillips.
Also: The milestones of Eddie Murphy's career and young Hollywood at AFI Fest
Keira Knightley at the London Film Festival premiere of "A Dangerous Method"
Credit: AP Photo/Jonathan Short
Actress Keira Knightley has cranked out a boatload of sincere performances in the wake of her work in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise, whether it be "Atonement" in 2007, "The Duchess" in 2008, "Never Let Me Go" last year or the soon-to-be-released "A Dangerous Method," which could generate Oscar talk for the actress yet again. Well, it turns out she's desperate for a bit of levity, having recently completed "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World" (great script) opposite Steve Carrell. But then, well, it's back to the grind with Joe Wright and "Anna Karenina," so call it a brief comedic pit stop. [Telegraph]
Oscar hopefuls 'The Artist' and 'Le Havre' also feature strongly
Kirsten Dunst in "Melancholia," which leads the European Film Award nominations with eight bids.
Credit: Magnolia Pictures
There's a tendency in our circles to talk about the European Film Awards, which announced their annual nominations on Saturday, as some kind of highbrow parallel-universe Oscars, where art reigns and Hollywood-style politics have no place. To some extent, that's true: at what other international awards ceremony would the top nominee be something as off-the-wall as Lars von Trier's apocalypse drama "Melancholia," which comfortably leads all takers with eight nods?
But look closer at the EFA list, and you'll see it's as riddled with conservatism and short-sightedness as any Academy Award ballot. Familiar big-name filmmakers dominate, while newer talents get frozen out. Exciting, difficult European marvels like "We Need to Talk About Kevin" and "Elena" are shunted out of the top categories in favor of vanilla, Academy-endorsed titles like "The King's Speech" and "In a Better World." Cannes remains the standard-setter: two-thirds of the Best European Film slate comes from this year's Competition.
Credits include 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' and 'Saturday Night Live'
Eddie Murphy and Brett Ratner hope to spice the Oscarcast up this year, now with a troupe of fresh writers.
Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
Over at the Los Angeles Times/Envelope 24 Frames blog, Nicole Sperling has a juicy exclusive regarding this year's Oscar telecast. It seems Brett Ratner and Don Mischer, producers of this year's show, have hired a unique crop of comedy writers to work alongside Eddie Murphy and shake things up a bit.
Scribes tapped include: Alec Berg and David Mandel, two of the writers on Larry David's successful HBO comedy series "Curb Your Enthusiasm"; Jeff Nathanson, who frequently works with Ratner ("Tower Heist" and the "Rush Hour" films); Ted Griffin, who was part of the team of writers on Steven Soderbergh's "Ocean's" franchise; and Barry Blaustein and David Sheffield, who worked with Murphy on the "Nutty Professor" series and "Saturday Night Live."
Jon Macks, who wrote on the last 14 Oscarcasts and has extensive experience with variety show writing, from the Emmys to the Country Music Awards to "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," will also be on board.
See it tonight!
Gina Carano in a scene from "Haywire"
Credit: Relativity Media
I had heard murmurs about this year's secret screening at AFI Fesst being Steven Soderbergh's "Haywire," starring Gina Carano. The bummer is I have to moderate a Q&A this evening, so I'll be missing it.
But hey, if you're in Los Angeles, you can see the film if you want! Via the press release, "Admission to 'Haywire' is available to AFI Fest 2011 pass holders and free tickets for the screening can be obtained at the AT&T Box Office located in suite 219 at the Hollywood and Highland Center between 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. today. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The Rush Line will begin forming at 8:30 p.m."
Soderbergh's "Contagion" is already in the marketplace (and has had a pretty solid box office run). Warner Bros. has been sniffing around a few awards prospects for that film, particularly Best Original Screenplay for writer Scott Z. Burns. I think Stephen Mirrione's film editing and the original score from Cliff Martinez deserve some consideration.
The legendary director's love for the form splashes on every frame
Ben Kingsley (left) and Asa Butterfield in Martin Scorsese's love letter to cinema, "Hugo."
Credit: Paramount Pictures
Paramount finally brought Martin Scorsese's "Hugo" before a lot of press (and a lot of guild members) in Los Angeles this afternoon. This after the film showed "unfinished" as a secret screening at the New York Film Festival last month.
Well, this print was "unfinished," too, actually. One effects shot was still left to be rendered, and closing credits were not yet complete, but by and large, it was finished. And though it's a flawed piece of work (stemming from a sluggish screenplay and a largely underwhelming lead performance from Asa Butterfield), I found it to be fiercely romantic and inspiringly passionate. I'll sign off on that most days of the week.
It's also immaculately crafted, from Dante Ferretti's jaw-dropping production design (hello, Oscar) to Robert Richardson's dazzling fluid master shots and foray into 3D to Sandy Powell's precise-as-always costume design to the complex visual effects work on the piece. The film creates a world and transports you there effortlessly.
Open thread. The floor is yours.
"Batman: Arkham City" owns my soul.
Credit: Rocksteady Studios
Welcome to Cinejabber, your weekend space to talk about whatever, whenever.
Me? I've been playing "Batman: Arkham City." As in, playing it too much. I have R. Kelly's "Batman & Robin" track "Gotham City" stuck in my head with "Gotham" replaced by "Arkham." It's that bad. But when you're obsessed with the Bat, I guess it's to be expected.
It's a dense game. Perhaps too dense. But it's a blast and has even sparked an interesting conversation about sexism (I don't see it, personally, though I'll admit it leans on a few cliches a bit too much). "Uncharted 3" is sitting on the table, waiting for its turn, and "Assassin's Creed: Revelations" is dropping in under two weeks. Hopefully I'll see my fiancee some over the next few months. #dork
Could tribute be followed up with an Oscar for 'Coriolanus?'
AMPAS pays tribute to Vanessa Redgrave in London on November 13.
Credit: Premier PR
A couple of things are unusual about the Academy Salute to Vanessa Redgrave, an AMPAS tribute evening (not to be confused with the Governors' Awards) dedicated to the Oscar-winning British acting legend, and taking place next Sunday. For one thing, it's being held in London, where Redgrave is currently performing on stage in a West End revival of "Driving Miss Daisy" -- the first time one of these AMPAS Salutes has taken place outside the US. (Which is lucky for me: I've got an invite.)
Furthermore, I can't remember the last time one of these evenings -- which have in recent years been held for the likes of Malcolm McDowell, Robert Evans and the late Hal Ashby -- was staged for someone already in the thick of Oscar talk that year: Redgrave is currently a Best Supporting Actress frontrunner for her tremendous performance in Ralph Fiennes's revisionist Shakespeare adaptation "Coriolanus." A tribute evening like this has no real bearing on the awards themselves, but this is nonetheless a nice bit of lily-gilding to kick off what promises to be a busy awards season for the veteran actress.
West Memphis Three doc receives inaugural Hell Yeah Prize
The "Paradise Lost" trilogy of documentaries traces the false imprisonment of the West Memphis Three.
Credit: HBO Documentary Films
Last week, we discussed the nominations for the documentary-oriented 2011 Cinema Eye Honors, which were announced at a fun pub party in East London and included many of the year's best docs. Basically, I like the way they do business. But one award wasn't announced that night, and it's a new and interesting one: the rather brilliantly named Hell Yeah Prize has been created to recognize strong films that can also claim to have made a measure of difference out in the real world.
I'm aware of, but have never seen, the inaugural recipient of the prize, the HBO Documentary Films trilogy "Paradise Lost" -- the first film of which was released back in 1996, and the third of which will premiere on HBO in January. But it seems a most worthy choice of winner to christen the award: over 16 years, the long-haul project tracked the miscarriage of justice involving the West Memphis Three, a trio of teenage boys who were falsely accused and convicted of child murder, and were finally released, after serving 18 years, earlier this year. The films, directed by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, reportedly played a key role in raising public and media awareness of the story, and keeping the case alive.