PARK CITY - If the wedding really is, as certain excitable liberal types will tell you, a fusty tradition increasingly headed for social obsolescence, the movies will hear none of it. Whether in broad Hollywood comedy or finely etched indies, screenwriters seem continually drawn to the tidy structural tension and compressed human emotions brought about by impending nuptials -- as airtight a dramatic excuse as any to combine characters who wouldn't, or shouldn't, ordinarily spend much time together.
PARK CITY - A year ago this week an unassuming indie called "Beasts of the Southern Wild" came to Park City looking for an intimate audience here at the very least, a distribution deal and therefore a chance at a wider audience at the very most. Certainly things like Oscar nominations were way off the radar, and yet, a week ago, the film landed major nominations for Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay and, perhaps the most surprising nomination of the year, Best Director.
The Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics' Association, who announced their nominees last week, distinguished themselves with some idiosyncratic categories, handing indie relationship drama "Keep the Lights On" their Best LGBT Film award, and sharing their "Campy Flick" prize between "Magic Mike" (which isn't particularly campy) and "The Paperboy" (which very much is). In the top categories, however, they fell in line behind season-long favorites, opting for "Argo" as the year's best film, and further decorating the trophy cabinets of Daniel Day-Lewis and Anne Hathaway. Full list of film winners after the jump; everything else at The Circuit.
Traditionally the last of the guilds to announce their nominations, the Costume Designers' Guild stuck to their guns this year, meaning they unveiled their nominees a week after the Academy's unusually early reveal. The order may be reversed, but the degree of overlap seems to be unaffected, as all five Oscar nominees for Best Costume Design made the CDG's larger list, which includes 15 films across period, fantasy and contemporary categories.
Perhaps not everyone feels this way, but I’ve always seen a gratifying kind of dignity in films nominated for a single Academy Award. Granted, for some contenders it can be a disappointing underachievement. For other, more marginalized films, however, it can be a heartening sign of individual voting branches paying careful attention to work that excelled in their own craft, and not just rubber-stamping the buzz-hogging juggernauts.
I caught Jeff Nichols' "Mud" yesterday in advance of its North American bow at Sundance next week and was bowled over. Over the moon. Full tilt in love with this movie, but I'll get into that during the festival.
Today, Roadside Attractions has released the first trailer for the film via Yahoo! Movies, which builds on its thriller aspects well enough but really isn't the most honest representation of what the film is. But that's fine. This will get people into the theater.
Check out the trailer above and stay tuned this week for further thoughts on the film and an interview with Nichols about his finest achievement to date. "Mud" opens in limited release April 26.
Kathryn Bigelow has long made it clear that she's not a filmmaker who particularly likes to speak for her own work, preferring to let her films do that on her own. She maintained that taciturnity through the early stages of the torture debate around "Zero Dark Thirty," but evidently felt it's escalated to a point where a lengthier response is warranted. Writing a guest column in the LA Times, the Oscar-winning director states: "I do wonder if some of the sentiments alternately expressed about the film might be more appropriately directed at those who instituted and ordered these U.S. policies, as opposed to a motion picture that brings the story to the screen. Those of us who work in the arts know that depiction is not endorsement ... On a practical and political level, it does seem illogical to me to make a case against torture by ignoring or denying the role it played in U.S. counter-terrorism policy and practices." [LA Times]
Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nominee "War Witch" could, I think, have been a real contender for the win in another year; the African-set child soldier drama delivers an emotional punch that's hard to argue with. As it is, it'll likely remain nobly content with the nomination, but it stands to dominate at its local answer to the Oscars, the Canadian Screen Awards. With 12 nominations, the film leads the field for the inaugural awards, which have assimilated the formerly separate Genie and Gemini Awards.
The word "snub" is one we all abuse on occasion -- I prefer "not nominated," since it doesn't imply active antagonism -- and I've seen it used a lot lately about Leonardo DiCaprio. It doesn't seem justified in his case either, given that the Academy evidently has a lot of respect for someone they've nominated three times, but it's true that he does boast more near-misses than most working actors today. Daniel Montgomery, meanwhile, notices an interesting anomaly: he's starred as a lead in six Best Picture nominees -- usually a decent route to Oscar attention -- but has only been nominated for one of them. Of course, "Django Unchained," in which he came up against unfortunate internal competition, is the latest example of this odd phenomenon. [Gold Derby]
The USC Scripter Awards is celebrating its silver anniversary this year. And in this 25th year, the USC Libraries' set of nominees is reflective of a very competitive year as, for the first time ever, a tie resulted in six nominees as opposed to the usual five.