No one needs awards coverage this deep
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.
The door is opened for five nominees this year
"Happy Feet Two" is one of a few performance-capture titles that faces tougher scrutiny this year.
Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures
The Academy has announced a list of 18 qualifying titles for this year's Best Animated Feature Film race. Among the films on the list is Steven Spielberg's "The Adventures of Tintin," the sequel "Happy Feet Two" and Disney's "Mars Needs Moms."
Those three are significant to note because their use of performance-capture technology left many wondering whether they would make the cut. But qualifying is only half the battle. We can safely assume "Mars Needs Moms" won't tickle the branch's fancy, but will bias against the technology still get in the way of the other two during the nominations process if they do become eligible, specifically Spielberg's hopeful? We'll see.
Other films submitted include foreign language entry "Alois Nebel" and a film called "Wrinkles," which is the one out-of-the-blue title, I guess. (This is the first I've heard of it.) Singapore foreign hopeful "Tatsumi" was thought to maybe be in the hunt, but I guess not.
A report suggests the Brit comedian will be back to roast Hollywood again
Ricky Gervais hosting the 2010 Golden Globe Awards
Well, no surprise here. It was revealed two months ago that Golden Globe producers had invited cheeky British comedian Ricky Gervais to host their reliably boozy shindig for a third straight year -- keen, one assumes, to reignite the media fuss that greeted his polarizing performance this year, which some found hilariously irreverent and others thought overly disrespectful to the industry being celebrated that night. (I was firmly in the former camp.)
At the time, Gervais claimed he was wary of accepting the offer to three-peat, but one needn't have been a mind-reader to know he'd inevitably relent. And so, it seems, he has: the New York Post is informed by an inside source that the deal has been made. Hurrah.
Assuming Gervais returns, it'll be interesting next year to see how him emceeing compares to that of Eddie Murphy, who, in case you'd forgotten, is running the slightly bigger show that is the Oscars. It's been a while since the Academy opted for a comedian with that level of bite: with Gervais's recent run, the Globes have rather cornered the 'funny' market in the season's endless procession of awards shows, and Murphy will have to be on vintage form to compete.
The film hits theaters nationwide today
Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy in a scene from "Tower Heist"
Credit: Universal Pictures
It's been a while since I've put up one of these. Sorry about that. It frankly keeps slipping my mind each week, but I'm glad you all have been engaging with what you've seen in the weekend Cinejabber posts. Today, though, a wide release is hitting and I'd love to get your feedback. I actually had a good time with Brett Ratner's "Tower Heist." I don't know what else I can say but that. It's interesting how it's landing just right in the zeitgeist as the Occupy Wall Street movement is at a fever pitch. And it's a nice antidote to the usual awards season flavor. If you happen to catch it this weekend, do come on back here and tell us what you thought.
Also: The 'pop-up' screening strategy and British indie film nods
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.
Even though we've been neck deep in Oscat talk for a few months now, the season proper only really starts this week (advertising-wise). It makes sense, then, that we're starting to pile on the screenings and have plenty to discuss today as a result. So, with that in mind, let's see what's on the docket today...