Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme has been tapped by the Cinema Audio Society for special recognition this year. The helmer of such films as "The Silence of the Lambs," "Philadelphia" and "The Manchurian Candidate" remake will receive the organization's Filmmaker Award at the 49th annual celebration.
Beyond the smallish circle of UK-based critics and industry folk, yesterday's British Independent Film Awards didn't attract much attention -- which is hardly surprising, given what a quiet year it's been for British film. Heavily-nominated titles like "Berberian Sound Studio" and "Sightseers," excellent as they are, aren't of much interest to awards-watchers with an eye only on Oscar possibilities -- of which the BIFA list presented very few.
Crossover nominee "The Imposter" is certainly one to watch in the documentary Oscar race, especially given the new voting system's emphasis on higher-profile theatrical releases. But the nominee we seem likeliest to hear more of in major categories through the rest of season is also the one that took BIFA observers most by surprise: John Madden's "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel."
Well, given what's going on out there, it'd seem inappropriate to lead with news of some minor precursor award announcement or random pre-release bumf for "The Hobbit" -- it's Election Day, and that weighs as heavily on Hollywood's mind as anyone else's. Variety Ted Johnson breaks down the implications for the film and entertainment industry of an Obama or a Romney victory, which could have a significant impact on issues ranging from piracy to censorship to same-sex marriage, and also examines the California propositions, some of them with starry cheerleaders, pertinent to showbiz folk. Good luck, America. Do the right thing. [Variety]
For a producer of such lush and exquisite work, cinematographer Roger Deakins is often a man of select words. Thoughtful, yes, but never of a mind to over-think it.
Responsible for some of the most stunning images on film in our age -- "Kundun," "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" and "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford," to barely scratch the surface -- he shook the landscape of his field a bit two years ago when he went digital for Andrew Niccol's "In Time." And this year he's back in the form with "Skyfall," the first James Bond installment to eschew celluloid for the progression of digital filmmaking.
"Right now I don’t see a reason to go back and shoot film," Deakins says. "And probably if I leave it much longer then I won’t have the opportunity, because it just won’t exist anyway."
The box-office headlines from the weekend have understandably been dominated by "Wreck-It Ralph," whose healthy opening gross (the highest ever for a Disney animated effort) helps its chances in a crowded Oscar race. But the runner-up on the chart, "Flight," made no less noteworthy a debut, taking just over $25m, despite a relatively modest release in 1884 theaters. That puts it roughly on pace with the last Denzel Washington starrer "Safe House," which took $40m from a wider release, though "Flight" has considerably more room to build. It's also considerably outpaced the $13m gross box office pundits predicted for the film, and nearly recouped its tidy $31m budget. Paramount distribution head Don Harris reckons the film's adult target market will be more in the mood for going to the movies once the presidential election and Hurricane Sandy are behind them. [Reuters]
Last year, the British Independent Film Awards -- the UK industry's answer to the Spirit Awards, though the chasm between independent and studio product here is a narrower one -- made the most of a banner year for British cinema, with citations aplenty for "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," "We Need to Talk About Kevin," "Shame," "Tyrannosaur," "Weekend," "Kill List" and the like.
2012 has been a bit less bountiful, and that's reflected in a slate of BIFA nods that reads a tad repetitively, with a small handful of films dominating the list. "Broken," a debut feature from acclaimed theater director Rufus Norris that was rather indifferently received at Cannes in the spring, leads the field with eight nominations, while "Berberian Sound Studio," "Sightseers" and "The Imposter" are close behind with seven apiece. Lest that field strike some as a little too niche, meanwhile, crossover smash "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" holds up the more mainstream end of the independent spectrum, nabbing five nominations, including Best Film -- a showing that bodes well for its BAFTA chances in a few months' time.
The truth is something on the fringe is likely to win the Best Animated Short Oscar this year. "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore" over "La Luna," "The Lost Thing" over "Day & Night," "Logorama" over "A Matter of Loaf and Death," "The Danish Poet" over "The Little Matchgirl" -- it happens. A lot.
That having been said, Disney's "Paperman," a delicate little love story that's greeting viewers of "Wreck-It Ralph" this weekend, is generating plenty of love and goodwill. It's a blend of hand-drawn 2D animation and 3D CG artwork. "The characters are modeled in CG and rendered in high contrast to create the modeling and shading, then merged with hand-drawn linework using a proprietary software program called Meander to create the final result," Jim MacQuarrie explains in a Wired piece, which also features an interview with the film's producer, Kristina Reed. "It looks like traditional 'classic' animation but with a sense of solidity and volume that’s more common to CG films." So maybe there's enough technical meat on its bones to grab the branch's collective brain in addition to its heart.
Following the International Documentary Association's breaking of the champagne on the hull of this year's documentary race, the Cinema Eye Honors have announced their list of nominees. "The Imposter" and "Searching for Sugar Man" led the way with five nominations each. Both are considered formidable competitors in this year's Oscar race for Best Documentary Feature. Check out the full list below.
I've been so tied up in my own little world this week, toiling away, working on this and that, closed up in the apartment for the most part (typical when you're at your busiest in this line of work -- and this has probably been the busiest week of the season for me), mainly aware of the horrors of Sandy via the news like most of you. Which is a trip. Out here, uptown, we're fine. We're lucky. Just a number of blocks this way or that, many people aren't.
So I feel like I really need to take stock of that. Lots of friends, whether they be in New Jersey, upstate, Long Island, wherever, are still stuck in a bad spot. I haven't had a chance to go downtown and take in the full effect of what's gone on down there, and I should. I will. My heart sank a little when I saw the cover of this week's New York Magazine. Then it was lifted again when I read the mag's editors' letter and all the resilience it reflected. And as resilient as New York is, it's a city in need of a laugh right now, to say the least.
The nominations for the 25th annual European Film Awards have been announced, and Michael Haneke's "Amour" led the way with six nominations.
This could be the start of an awards roll-out for "Amour" that few are expecting (many still refrain from seriously considering it in the Best Picture race at the Oscars). Well, I suppose that streak would more accurately have begun with the Palme d'Or win in Cannes, but nevertheless, with a December release still to come and critics groups sure to spring for it, it's about to come on strong, I'm betting.
Thomas Vinterberg's "The Hunt" and Steve McQueen's "Shame" weren't far behind with five nods and Tomas Alfredson's "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" also had a strong presence with four nods. The European Film category was filled out with foreign film hopefuls "Barbara" (two nods), "Caesar Must Die" (which won top honors in Berlin back in February) and "The Intouchables."