No one needs awards coverage this deep
Other possibilities include 'Captain America,' 'Harry Potter' and 'J. Edgar'
Ah, Best Makeup.
I always say that this is without doubt one of the most difficult categories to predict, year in and year out. While very broad trends can be observed, every year seemingly sure things do not make the bake-off (a list of seven finalists announced before the field is narrowed down to three on nomination morning), and even when they do, there are often shocking snubs among the final nominees. Last year’s omission of “Alice in Wonderland” immediately jumps to mind, for instance.
All that having been said, some titles do seem more plausible than others. The kind of work that tends to find favor here includes extensive prosthetics, effective aging makeup, creation of monsters and transformative effects. Period films take a disproportionate share of the nominations.
Sam Mendes directs golden-anniversary entry in spy franchise
"This is a bit of an odd press conference," director Sam Mendes admitted at this morning's swish London media gathering to cut the ribbon on production of the 23rd and latest James Bond film. "Usually at these things, you have something you can talk about."
He wasn't kidding. With producers Michael J. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, plus stars Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Juli Dench, Naomie Harris and Berenice Marlohe, Mendes rocked up at the ballroom of Whitehall’s plush Corinthian Hotel – a venue one suspects Bond himself would choose – to tell us… well, not very much at all. Actors confirmed, but not present, include Ralph Fiennes, Albert Finney and Ben Whishaw: no surprise that Mendes’s Bond movie looks on course to be the luvviest one yet.
One journalist’s question after another was shut down with a slightly sheepish smile and a “maybe, maybe not” response. The one major nugget of information they had intended to reveal today had long been cracked open by the internet: “Introducing the world’s worst-kept secret,” Wilson said rather ruefully, as the film’s confirmed title, “Skyfall,” flashed onto the screen behind him. What does it mean? They can’t tell us, of course. It has “an emotional context,” offered Broccoli, reassuringly.
Also: Profiling Leo at the Gray Lady and the Academy toasts Pierre Étaix
Nathaniel Rogers points out that Steven Spielberg's "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" turns the arbitrary age of 34 this month. On the occasion, he put the ole' Blu-ray in and gave it a first look in a great many years. I, too, recently revisited the film for the first time in a LONG time (as a double feature with "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial" at the New Beverly Theater here in Los Angeles). It really is, to my mind, one of the directors top four or five efforts, and I look forward to re-watching most of his stuff soon as we'll be dedicating a December installment of The Lists to the best he's had to offer over the decades. [The Film Experience]
What do good-but-not-great numbers foretell for US release?
Box-office analysis is a funny old business, one I find simultaneously fascinating and alienating: the line between success and failure can be as subjective as it is fine. Which is why it's with some interest that I've been following the reports on the opening numbers for "The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn" in its first week of UK release: what initially appears to be good news turns out to have rather more mixed signals.
On the one hand, as The Guardian's Charles Gant (the go-to guy for British box-office reporting, for those interested) tells it, the film's a hit. Topping the charts with a first-week total of approximately $10.8 million (hey, we're a small country), it's enjoyed the biggest opening of any animated film this year. However, as Gant explains, when you factor in the money it made in previews, the film is actually tracking behind January opener "Tangled," with the end of the UK half-term school vacation promising something of a drop-off. In other words: sure, it's a hit. But it looks unlikely to be a phenomenon on the scale of Spielberg's Spielbiggest.
Britain offers a variety of quality contenders in 2011... but are there too many?
A strangely jubilant atmosphere prevailed at Monday’s boozy standing lunch in central London, where this year’s British Independent Film Award nominees were read out to an invited crowd of journalists, industry pros and some of the nominees themselves. Well, perhaps not “strangely”: free Moët champagne and gourmet sliders tend to brighten the black moods of film folk, and that’s before you start throwing awards at them.
But the general air of apology and scepticism that clouds most British industry events was absent: for once, no one was complaining about what a crap year it was for UK cinema, a surprisingly routine line even in the best circumstances. Indeed, once the nominees for Best British Independent Film had been read out, conversation turned in quite the opposite direction: when the frequently filler-reliant BIFAs could assemble a slate as diverse and exciting as “Shame,” “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” “Senna” “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” and “Tyrannosaur,” you’d be hard-pressed to call it anything but a banner year for the industry.
Offer up your burning queries
Alright, you know the drill. Rifle off your need-to-knows and Anne and I will try to address a few for Friday's podcast. We'll already be covering: "Young Adult," "J. Edgar," the "War Horse" heartland screenings and British Independent Film Award nominations. So keep that in mind to steer away from redundancies.
Jason Reitman's latest film finally lands in Los Angeles and it's a winner
LOS ANGELES - "It's nice to just show the movie and say, 'Here it is, hope you like it,'" Jason Reitman said to me at a party following a "pop-up" screening of his latest film "Young Adult" last night. And he's been doing just that, in select cities across the country -- Chicago, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Austin and a stop north of the border in Toronto -- aiming at the kinds of fans who'll line up for a secret screening without knowing what the film will be. And the experience seems to have invigorated him a bit.
Going into these cities, he and screenwriter Diablo Cody haven't done the usual press commitments. No chatting with local news stations, radio shows, newspapers and college papers like you'd expect. In and out and a "hope you like it." It's fair to say the kind of intense press rounds he exhausted on "Up in the Air" two years ago were the last thing he wanted to do this time around, but it's also been about setting a foundation that says, "This ain't 'Juno.'"
And no, "Young Adult" is not "Juno." Not that the latter is the trifle it's come to be considered since its 2007 release (it has its dark and emotional moments), but the latest Cody/Reitman collaboration is an unflinching piece of work committed to following its lead character on a downward path, eschewing a narrative of redemption and never conceding any ground.
Also: ADG fetes 'Harry Potter' franchise and 'War Horse' pop-up screenings?
Not to follow up yesterday's round-up with yet another Pixar-themed lead story, but, alas, when it's in the news... Yesterday John Lasseter was the recipient of the 2,453rd star awarded/bought on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He apparently had some touching words for the late Steve Jobs, who passed away last month and was key to Pixar's early success. I wasn't able to attend the ceremony at the last minute, but Anne Thompson was on hand and got some nice video of the event. [Thompson on Hollywood]
Director-producer defined the latter-day Oscarcast format
I feel distinctly sad about the passing of Gil Cates, who died yesterday at the age of 77, and yet what I'm mourning isn't precisely the sum of his career parts. A proficient, professional producer-director for screens big and small, he directed at least one fine film: "Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams," a brittle 1973 character study for which Joanne Woodward was Oscar-robbed. (I admit I've never seen his "I Never Sang For My Father," which earned nominations for Gene Hackman and Melvyn Douglas.)
And yet it's not these perfectly credible titles that are foregrounded in his obituaries: rather, it's the less personal but no less demanding achievement of having produced a record 14 Oscar ceremonies between 1990 and 2008. It's those dates that resonate with me: the 1990 Academy Awards ceremony was the first one I ever watched in full, and the first one hosted by Billy Crystal, arguably the most widely beloved Oscar host of my lifetime.
Putting together a list of possibilities, from Mary J. Blige to Jónsi (again)
In four or five weeks we'll be closing out this year's slate of crafts category analysis via the weekly Tech Support column with my contribution to the cause: Best Original Song. I tend to wait until the end on that because it's best to hold off until a list of eligible contenders is announced and in place and, of course, to gauge how the tunes are used in the films in question.
But I haven't even gotten around to assembling a decent list of possibilities until just recently. So maybe it's time to toss that out there and maybe ask for a little help from the readership, since I'm sure plenty of you know some things about this race that I don't.
Let's start with a few things to get the discussion going, though. And animated films are always a good place to look. With that in mind, 20th Century Fox's "Rio" has a trio of contenders: "Real in Rio," "Let Me Take You to Rio" and "Hot Wings (I Wanna Party)."