No one needs awards coverage this deep
The writer/director of 'The Help' gets a boost of his own
After a strong showing for "The Help" at Sunday night’s Screen Actors Guild Awards, the film is set to receive another boon on its way to Oscar night. The Writers Guild of America (WGA) announced that it will honor writer/director Tate Taylor with the 2012 Paul Selvin Award, which recognizes "written work that embodies the spirit of constitutional rights and civil liberties,” according to the press release.
“Tate Taylor’s adapted screenplay for 'The Help' artfully distills the empowering essence and core emotional truths of Kathryn Stockett’s novel, translating it into a film that forcefully illustrates how ordinary people can impact positive social change,” said WGAw president Christopher Keyser. “Tate’s honor is well deserved and his script does Paul Selvin’s legacy proud by conveying the continuing power of the written word.”
The iconic director charts his evolution for a captivated SBIFF audience
SANTA BARBARA - Last night the big tributes wrapped up here at the Santa Barbara fest with the presentation of the American Riviera Award to "Hugo" director Martin Scorsese. Leonard Maltin conducted the on-stage interview, which got started nearly a half hour late and still blew past the usual two-hour time frame as a captivated, capacity audience at the Arlington Theatre never budged and delighted in hearing the director's tales of 50 years at work in the film industry.
Scorsese reflected first on the severity of awards season these days, which he said is "very arduous, in a way. But it's a very high class problem to have." Even the process of opening a film is much different, he noted, thinking back on his work in the early 1970s. "When the film opened, there was really no red carpet unless it was 'Cleopatra' or 'Ben-Hur,'" he said. "We'd go in on a Sunday to see if anyone was in line to see the movie, then we'd go get Chinese food or whatever and that was it."
Also: In praise of Viola Davis, and J.Lo and Uggie added to Oscar bill
I have a special place in my heart for Academy members who spill the beans on who they're voting for -- who isn't curious to know what their favorite director or actor's ballot looks like? Every year, there are always a few voters who anonymously share their choices with certain outlets, but since when has anonymity ever suited Madonna? Yep, the auteur, actress and sometime singer is an Academy member, and her Best Picture vote is going to "The Tree of Life" -- a noble choice, though I'm disappointed she's not even trying a write-in for "W.E." Where's her fighting spirit? This proves why we shouldn't be so quick to pass judgement on who is admitted to the Academy: for all we know, the Madonnas and Beyoncés and Brands are voting more adventurously than the establishment. [24 Frames]
The designer's work graced such films as 'Bram Stoker's Dracula' and 'Immortals'
I'm occasionally struck by the word-economizing way some people refer to the Best Costume Design Oscar as, simply, Best Costume: a minor, grammatically sound abbreviation that nonetheless skimps on a rather telling word. Almost any film, from studiously researched period pieces to Target-clothed contemporary works, is costumed -- but not every film is designed, its every shred of fabric selected and shaped to serve interdependent demands of character, atmosphere and directorial sensibility, while affording the designer a visible creative identity too.
Though chameleonic flexibility is prized, indeed required, of those who dress films across any number of genres, periods and guiding aesthetics, cinema's greatest costume designers are those whose artistic signature -- no less than that of a revered fashion designer -- is present in idiosyncratic stylistic details that connect otherwise vastly disparate projects. Eiko Ishioka, the gleefully cracked design genius who passed away last week at the age of 73, was one such artist: whether applied to a lavish Gothic period nightmare or a sleekly futuristic psycho-fantasy, her film costume work is bound by common forms, features and fetishes that build up to their own kind of auteur watermark.
It's come to this
Two weekends back I was told that a famous director at the Golden Globes observed the parading of "The Artist," uh, "star" Uggie on the stage yet again to get the easy laughs and "awws" from the audience as the film won the Best Picture - Comedy/Musical award. "Why does Harvey keep dragging this f***ing dog around," he quipped. "There's a dog in our movie, too. Our dog could EAT that dog."
With a recent tongue-in-cheek op-ed in the pages of the Los Angeles Times bearing his name, I suppose it's okay to reveal now that, indeed, the director in question was Martin Scorsese. The article is meant as a cute stumping call for Blackie, the Doberman "star" of Scorsese's Best Picture nominee "Hugo" in the wake of the canine being snubbed in the nominations for the first annual Golden Collar Awards, but it's absolutely brilliant for the way it takes the piss out of Oscar season oh so succinctly.
'Dimanche (Sunday),' 'Fantastic Flying Books,' 'La Luna,' 'A Morning Stroll' and 'Wild Life' square off
(The Oscar Guide will be 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 26, with the Best Picture finale on Saturday, February 25.)
US audiences will once again get a chance to see the Oscar-nominated shorts this year as Shorts International (via ShortsHD) and Magnolia Pictures will be launching its popular program for the seventh-straight year. The nominees for animation, live action and documentaries (included for just the second year) will hit 200 theaters across the country for a limited time on February 10.
This year's crop of contenders in the animated field is a bit thin compared to years past, I feel. There's a great diversity of craft, which is always nice -- and typical, as the branch generally does a good job of representing a solid cross-section. However, I just wasn't as taken with as many of the nominees as I usually am. Nevertheless, personally speaking, one entry really stands out above the rest and could be the winner. Though, of course, we know what assuming can do for us in this category. It's always a fresh race and this year might be no different.
The nominees are…
Also: Jean Dujardin sings, and the 'post-macho world' of 'The Descendants'
I always find Sundance coverage rather difficult to follow from a distance -- critics there seem to talk much more about what they're seeing next than what they just saw, leaving me more aware of titles than actual movies. Still, two films generated enough buzz to permeate my consciousness, and as it happens they both emerged as prizewinners on the weekend: the rapturously reviewed "Beasts of the Southern Wild" took the Grand Jury Prize for dramatic features, while "The Surrogate," an acclaimed performance vehicle for John Hawkes and Helen Hunt, took both an Audience Award and a Jury Prize for its cast. Both have been acquired by Fox Searchlight, and some are already whispering the O-word. I just can't go there, but I'm glad we're allowed to like Hunt again. Greg Ellwood has the full list of winners. [Awards Campaign]
Honors for Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress and Best Ensemble mark a stellar night for the film
The 18th annual Screen Actors Guild went down tonight and added, well, nothing to the conversation. Okay, maybe a little something. But before getting to the Best Actor surprise of the evening...
I had thought maybe -- just maybe -- Melissa McCarthy and all that TV love (though not enough love to yield a separate nod for "Mike & Molly") could provide an interesting Johnny Depp moment for her and her "Bridesmaids" performance. It wasn't to be.
Christopher Plummer and Octavia Spencer kicked off the evening with largely expected wins in the supporting actor and supporting actress categories for "Beginners" and "The Help," respectively. Most expect that they've sewn up their Oscar glory, but I think in the case of the former, the presence of Max Von Sydow in Best Picture nominee "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" makes things a bit more interesting than that, but for the most part, I do agree that the course is (and really has been) set.
The festival presents the 'Beginners' star with its highest honor
SANTA BARBARA - Tonight brought the second tribute of this year's Santa Barbara film fest, a spotlight for "Beginners" star Christopher Plummer and the festival's highest honor: the Modern Master Award.
The evening was moderated by Deadline columnist Pete Hammond, who is a perfect fit for this kind of honoree with his own personal obsessive classic film knowledge and considerations. Plummer told Hammond and the captivated audience a number of wonderful stories throughout the evening, starting at the beginning with his awakening to the arts.
He was encouraged at a young age in Montreal to seek out everything that would play the local cinemas, any kind of theater or ballet, etc. He gravitated toward it quickly and he remembered nursing many a cold beer at this or that club, seeing a young Judy Garland in his youth, a young Frank Sinatra and Edith Piaf, even. "I thought, 'This is the greatest life,'" he recalled. And soon he made it his own.
Oscar-snubbed 'Project Nim' wins in documentary category
And with that, I think you can just about call this Oscar race -- if you weren't willing to do so already. Fabricate uncertainty if you like by remembering the last time the winner of the award didn't take the Oscar (it was Rob Marshall, nine years ago), but in winning the Directors' Guild of America Award last night, "The Artist" and Michel Hazanavicius have enjoyed their biggest and most telling victory yet on the circuit.
There was speculation in some quarters that immense peer affection for previous DGA honoree Martin Scorsese could see him pull off an upset, but I'm not sure how realistic a prospect that really was -- when the industry embraces a frontrunner as warmly as they have "The Artist," and it happens to be a film that hinges on its showy directorial conceits, there's little reason to suspect they won't reward the helmer as well.