If I wasn't clear enough at Sundance, I'm a huge fan of Jeff Nichols' "Mud." I can't wait to see it again and I have no doubt it will linger in my top 10 list until the end of the year. Roadside Attractions has begun its roll-out of the film, which is set for an April 26 release, first with a trailer in advance of the North American premiere at Sundance and now with a sweet poster that puts the film's star, Matthew McConaughey, front and center. Check out my interview with McConaughey from Park City here and get a load of the full poster (which debuted at Entertainment Weekly) below.
The last time Tim Burton made the awards press rounds, he was a nominee for 2005's "Corpse Bride." Interestingly enough, after a few decades in the live action trenches carving out his own identity and aesthetic on the screen, it's been only in the animation arena that Oscar has taken notice. He's back again this year as a nominee for his most personal film in some time, "Frankenweenie."
There were precious few of us who thought Michael Haneke's brilliant "Amour" had the proper support to show up in the major categories at the Academy Awards. At the end of the day, it was faith well-placed, as the film was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress and Best Original Screenplay (though I still wonder why Jean-Louis Trintignant was lost in the shuffle).
That is, in some ways, a win in and of itself. It's huge, really. But I'm troubled in my calls and conversations lately: many members, despite this strong showing, still haven't seen the film. And I would like to implore them now: watch the movie. It's not as much of a downer as you think it is. It's a beautiful exploration of its namesake. Actors in particular, it's a stunning display of your craft. And with a Best Actress race that has some excitement to it, it behooves you to make an educated pick.
(Welcome to the Oscar Guide, your chaperone through the Academy’s 24 categories awarding excellence in film. A new installment will hit every weekday in the run-up to the Oscars on February 24, with the Best Picture finale on Friday, February 22.)
FINALLY! The music branch smartened up about this category, changed its rules and put together five entirely respectable nominees. Two major Best Picture contenders with prominently placed songs managed to score, as did a haunting new tune for a documentary, the sultry and epic opening credits title song to a major franchise movie and the cute, somewhat tongue-in-cheek opening credits title song to a comedy about a potty-mouthed, pot-smoking teddy bear.
Old favorites such as Paul Williams (“Still Alive” from “Paul Williams: Still Alive”) and Dolly Parton (“From Here to the Moon and Back” from “Joyful Noise”) must be disappointed to miss the cut. Ditto for a big younger star like Keith Urban (“For You” from “Actor of Valor”). But perhaps the most obvious surprising omission is Ennio Morricone and Elisa for “Ancora Qui” from “Django Unchained”; who knows if there will be a chance to honor Morricone again? But this category has a heavy favorite, and justly so. An upset would be disconcerting to a lot of people, for a lot of reasons.
The nominees are…
The Evening Standard Film Awards -- among the most independent-minded stops on the UK awards scene -- have a rather circuitous way of revealing their nominees, first revealing a longlist too unruly to warrant a mention (this year's featured "The Dictator" up for Best Film, for example), before announcing a three-per-category shortlist a couple of weeks before the ceremony.
"Argo" may have been ruling the awards roost in the US for a couple of weeks now, but only this week are we going to learn if the Brits are quite as enamored of Ben Affleck's political thriller. It lost all four of its bids at the London Critics' Circle Awards two weeks ago, but this weekend, we'll see if BAFTA adds to its laurels -- I increasingly suspect they will, though it's no sure thing.
Still, "Argo" has received at least one British vote of confidence from the UK Regional Film Awards, representing the country's non-London-based critics. It received their Film of the Year award, though Affleck was pipped by "Skyfall" helmer Sam Mendes to Director of the Year. In their one public-voted award, meanwhile, Robert Pattinson took British Performance of the Year for the last "Twilight" film, which must come as some consolation after being cruelly shut out all season. Winners after the jump, and at The Circuit.
One of the reasons I get more bothered than some over the admittedly nebulous issue of so-called category fraud is that for every Christoph Waltz or Helen Hunt who gets slotted into the supporting race for a major role, it's harder for lesser-known actors who stand out in far smaller parts to get the recognition they deserve. If Hunt is supporting in "The Sessions," for example, then what is the superb Moon Bloodgood? So I'm glad Lisa Rosen has written this LA Times piece celebrating a number of uncelebrated faces from assorted awards contenders, including Bloodgood, Sheila Vand in "Argo" (not included in SAG's ensemble listing, by the way) and Gina Montana in "Beasts of the Southern Wild." I'd add Jesse Plemons in "The Master" and Corinne Masiero in "Rust and Bone," among others. What lesser-spotted supporting stars stood out to you? [LA Times]
Believe it or not, there's a bit of an Oscar angle to today's big game. This year's Super Bowl pits the San Francisco 49ers against the Baltimore Ravens, and on the offensive line of the latter, defending Joe Flacco's blind side throughout the game, will be Michael Oher, subject of the 2009 Oscar-winning film "The Blind Side."
The film came on strong at the end of the year that season, crossing $250 million at the domestic box office and landing a surprising Best Picture nomination in the first year that allowed 10 nominees. It also quickly became Sandra Bullock's victory march as the actress charged on through Oscar night to the Best Actress prize for her portrayal of Leigh Anne Tuohy, the Memphis socialite who took Oher in when he had nowhere to turn.
The Tuohys, of course, will be attending the big game in New Orleans this year. Not only that, but Bullock, who has kept in touch with the family ever since her experience working on the film, will be there as well, rooting for the purple and black.
Check off one more box on the "Argo" industry tour of awards season goodies. The Directors Guild of America (DGA) has crowned Ben Affleck with the award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film, this just a week removed from big wins from the Producers and Screen Actors Guilds. Is it really clear sailing to a Best Picture win at the Oscars from here? Or will the fact that Academy members won't even have ballots in hand until Friday mean there's too much time for "them" to second guess the guild circuit?