No one needs awards coverage this deep
He gives perhaps his finest performance to date in the Oren Moverman cop drama
Woody Harrelson stars as a troubled, crooked LAPD cop in Moverman's police drama
Credit: Millennium Films
Sales at the Toronto Film Festival have become a complex card game over the years as production companies and talent hit the fest with films they want to see in that year's Oscar race. The goal for many is to land, make a big splash, come out of there with a deal and initiate a campaign to capture the lightning. And often, if the plan isn't to release that year, well, no deal.
The problem is, films can get lost at Toronto. They can get suffocated. And sometimes, films don't put their best foot forward by, say, holding for Sundance and stretching things out, rather than attempting to mobilize something as intensive as an awards campaign in three measly months.
Oren Moverman's "Rampart" is a film I think should have waited for Park City, much like the director's last effort, "The Messenger." It's very much a Sundance film and it could have milked things throughout the year after kicking up steam there in January. But as it stands, it was looking for a Toronto deal and a 2011 release. And now, it has one.
Also: Gold Derby kicks off its pundit poll and Roger Ebert's memoir gets some Gray Lady ink
Chris Pratt stars as catcher-turned-first baseman Scott Hatteberg in "Moneyball."
Credit: Columbia Pictures
Any time an Oscar contender comes along that dabbles in real-life situations and circumstances, you can see the take-down measures coming from a mile away: accuracy gripes. It's a story as old as time. Films like "The Hurricane," "A Beautiful Mind," "The Hurt Locker" and, just last year, "The Social Network" have come under fire during the Oscar race for liberties taken with the narrative, and it's always just such a tiresome, tedious argument. So you can bet baseball fan Steve Pond's recent piece, linked in today's round-up, which addresses the gripes from the sports world, will be the king of logic used by a smear campaign if one is even deemed necessary by "Moneyball" competition this year. Let me be clear that Steve is fair in his piece, but it simply reminded me of how touchy true stories can be for many, and how limp the ammunition of "but it didn't happen that way" can truly be. It rarely passes the smell test because, the fact remains, if people like a movie, they like a movie. Whether it "happened that way" or not. Now, let's see what's going on in the Oscarweb today...
'A Separation,' 'Albert Nobbs,' 'Where Do We Go Now?' among other prizewinners
Bérénice Bejo in "The Artist"
Credit: The Weinstein Company
Well, many of us expected Michel Hazanavicius's silent-cinema homage "The Artist" to take the Audience Award at Toronto last week. That didn't come to pass, but it has just taken the equivalent prize at the San Sebastian Film Festival -- a less high-profile honor, certainly, but one that further proves the film's crowd-pleasing chops.
What's perhaps most notable about the award is the number of high-profile films it beat to get it: also in the running, in a selection of 2011's finest the festival dubs the Zabaltegi Pearls section, were "Le Havre," "The Tree of Life," "Drive," "A Separation," "Pina," "Martha Marcy May Marlene," "Shame" and others.
It's interesting, given the strength of the competition, that surprise Toronto champ "Where Do We Go Now?" placed second in the audience balloting by only a handful of votes; for a film that stirred very little buzz on its Cannes debut, the Lebanese Oscar hopeful sure is making its presence felt now.
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Other debuts include 'Dolphin Tale,' 'Abduction' and 'Killer Elite'
"The Lion King 3D" was king of the jungle once again.
Credit: Walt Disney Pictures
In Friday's Oscar Talk podcast I told Anne I thought "Moneyball" would struggle to beat out "The Lion King 3D" at the box office this weekend. I thought it would pull it out, but I just expected it to be a struggle. Well, turns out it was a struggle indeed, as Disney's re-release took the top spot ($22.1 million) for a second weekend in a row, inching past Bennett Miller's debuting Oscar hopeful ($20.6 million) in the process.
"Moneyball" was tops on Friday, but kid-friendly movies tend to get a big bump on Saturdays, so that's what happened for "The Lion King 3D." It'll be interesting to see if Brad Pitt -- who always does well overseas -- can make baseball play in foreign markets.
Also opening this weekend were "Dolphin Tale" ($20.2 million) and "Abduction." ($11.2 million) The former actually almost dropped "Moneyball" to third place. I haven't seen either (and likely won't), so, I won't comment.
Open thread. The floor is yours.
The Aero Theatre in Santa Monica
Well, that's one week in the books here at HitFix. I wanted to take a second to thank everyone for coming along with us on this huge change and for sticking with us through the growing pains. It's been a crazy week for all of this, with Guy on leave for much of it, a screening every day (including two on Friday plus an interview), four hours of sleep a night, etc. But I think we're roaring loud and strong here at the new digs.
And with that, I'm taking the rest of the day off! But I thought I'd get the weekend Cinejabber posts going first. This Saturday feature -- for the uninitiated -- is simply a chance for you to discuss whatever is on your mind that hasn't really had a place elsewhere. Caught a movie that was released some time back and want to comment? Let us know here. Playing some awesome video game and you're dying to share? Let us know -- well, maybe don't let us know. The last thing I need is an excuse to go buy something else to eat up my time! Basically, it's an open thread and the floor is yours.
Usually I try to get things moving by offering up something that's on my mind as of late. Today, that would be last night's American Cinemateque double feature screening of Tim Burton's "Batman" and "Batman Returns" at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica.
Christian Bale could find himself in another Oscar vehicle this year
Deon Lotz in "Beauty," South Africa's official submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.
Credit: TLA Releasing
We talk about name appeal being a factor in the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar race, but no country this year can boast it to quite the same extent as China: not only is their submission, just announced today, directed by three-time Oscar nominee Zhang Yimou, but it stars reigning Best Supporting Actor champ Christian Bale. If nothing else, the lure of the familiar should be worth a few votes.
The film in question is "The Flowers of War," Zhang's much-anticipated epic set during the Japanese invasion of Nanking in 1937, in which Bale stars as an American priest trapped in a cathedral with a group of schoolchildren and courtesans. As the most expensive production in Chinese film history, the film has a lot riding on it; no one's seen the finished product yet, but 20 minutes of footage were previewed at the Toronto Film Festival to a strong reception. (The film opens in China in December, which would normally rule it ineligible for consideration, but will have a week-long qualifying run beginning tomorrow.)
The trio joins previously announced honoree Tom Rothman
Charlize Theron could be kicking off a long and rewarding awards circuit for her work in "Young Adult" with the honor.
Credit: AP Photo/Evan Agostini
I'm just now getting around to yesterday's press release concerning this year's Gotham Awards tributes, which will go to actress Charlize Theron, actor Gary Oldman and director David Cronenberg. Announced previously was a similar tribute for Fox Chairman and CEP Tom Rothman.
Now is the time of year when publicists jockey for their clients' positions at tributes throughout the various awards season events. Whether it's recognition at the Independent Film Project's (IFP) Gotham Awards ceremony, the Hollywood Film Festival's Hollywood Awards, the Palm Springs Film Festival's gala of honors or the Santa Barbara Film Festival's week-and-a-half of fetes, these notices can do a lot to further fuel an Oscar campaign, and these three will likely be in the thick of it.
Okay, maybe David Cronenberg is a stretch for Best Director recognition (for his work on "A Dangerous Method") at this point, but that doesn't mean the occasion of the film isn't a good excuse to recognize a career of singular work. But Charlize Theron and Gary Oldman will be very much in the conversation for Best Actress and Best Actor respectively.
With 'Moneyball' already in theaters, Sony has another winner on the way
George Clooney directs "The Ides of March" with a skilled hand and gives a fine supporting performance to boot.
Credit: Columbia Pictures
When George Clooney's "The Ides of March" screened for press at Venice, the reception was somewhat chilly. Bowing a film about political corruption to European audiences is always going to be a dicey play. And maybe it would have been wiser to choose a different venue for the reveal. I don't make these decisions.
But then the film played Toronto and similarly "meh" reactions were floating around. One critic went so far as to call it a "watered down version of 'Primary Colors.'" And so, at the time, I put up a post corralling some of these reviews and one-offs and titled it "Naiveté you can believe in," because the issue simply seemed to be that treating political corruption as profound insight was just silly in this day and age.
Here's the thing, though. After seeing the film last night, I feel strongly that "The Ides of March" isn't acting as if its pulling back a veil. It's handling, quite matter-of-factly, political corruption and scandal and the back-bitery of the Washington game as simple and plain harsh truth. I didn't read any of this to be presented as epiphany in the slightest, and indeed, I find it to be one of the most refined films of the year.
Are you ready for 'Getting Rid of Nemo?'
Albert Brooks starred as Marlin the Clownfish opposite Ellen DeGeneres in the 2003 animated hit "Finding Nemo."
Credit: Walt Disney Pictures
Thursday afternoon -- thanks to the miracle of Twitter -- I got "Drive" star Albert Brooks on the phone for a half hour to talk about his work in Nicolas Winding Refn's "Drive." The performance is really stirring the circuit up as Brooks lights up the campaign trail with his trademark humor and charm.
That interview will land in a few days, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to discuss a few other, extraneous things with Brooks about his work on other features and his wonderful presence on the social networking site that hooked us up. So over the next couple of days, I thought I'd drop in a few of those nuggets on the way to the big piece itself next week.
Today, it's all about "Finding Nemo" and Brooks's place in the Pixar family. The film is still my favorite Pixar effort, and for a long time it was the studio's most financially successful film. Indeed, it was the highest-grossing animated feature of all time until "Shrek 2" knocked it off its perch a year later. (This year, due to re-release, "The Lion King" has also leap-frogged it, while "Toy Story 3" became Pixar's all time box office champ last year.) "Finding Nemo" is also one of the Pixar films that hasn't been sullied (no pun intended -- if you caught that, that is) by a sequel. But Brooks has some choice thoughts on that in today's pull quote.