PARK CITY - Some small movies are bigger than others, and few contemporary filmmakers' careers are better suited to that sliding scale than Joe Swanberg, the self-sufficient indie all-rounder who has quietly reeled off 16 feature films since 2005. Until recently, they've been uniformly scrappy in scope and construction, with some more considered than others: the personal, plainly self-reflexive relationship studies (2008's Greta Gerwig-starring "Nights and Weekends" was a standout) rather than the quick-sketch genre exercises.
PARK CITY - John Michael McDonagh's "Calvary" was one of my most anticipated titles heading into Sundance, and with the festival at a close, it's among the films my mind returns to most often. The Irish writer-director's follow-up to the raucous cop comedy "The Guard" -- also a Park City premiere a few years back -- has a sharper, more complex comic flavor, taking on matters of faith, morality and mortality in the story of a Catholic priest (Brendan Gleeson) threatened with murder by one of his own troubled parishioners.
Welcome to Oscar Talk.
In case you're new to the site and/or the podcast, Oscar Talk is your one-stop awards chat shop between yours truly and Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood. The podcast is broadcast in special installments throughout the season, charting the ups and downs of contenders along the way. Plenty of things change en route to Oscar's stage and we're here to address it all as it unfolds.
On the docket today…
Last year the Academy finally made a move to open the short film races up to the entire voting membership. By providing screeners of all the nominees (for shorts as well as documentary features), the ballot is now free of all crevices of exclusivity, where formerly only members who showed up at sanctioned screenings of the nominees were allowed to vote in those specific categories.
Well, this is a positive turn of events for "Grace of Monaco." Olivier Dahan's biopic of Hollywood-turned-European princess Grace Kelly was initially slated to open until November last year, until The Weinstein Company booted it from their prestige release schedule and announced it'd be a spring 2014 release instead. With iffy word brewing about the Nicole Kidman starrer, and Dahan voicing his reservations about the Weinsteins' handling, it looked like the film might be quietly swept under the rug.
"Love" was all around at Sundance this week, as Radius-TWC gave some love to the Sundance entry "The One I Love," while Sony Pictures Classics fell for "Love is Strange."
We're about a week late in wising up to the Denver Film Critics Society's list of winners this year but, well, better late than never. "Gravity" was the big winner, taking prizes for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Score and Best Sci-Fi/Horror Film. The acting categories all went to the frontrunners save Best Supporting Actress, which went to "American Hustle's" Jennifer Lawrence rather than "12 Years a Slave's" Lupita Nyong'o. Steve McQueen's slavery drama, which was nominated for seven awards, received no trophies. Check out the nominations here, the winners below and keep track of the season at The Circuit.
"12 Years a Slave" has picked up yet another Best Picture prize from a critics organization, as the Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association (GALECA) tapped it the year's best for 2013. Oscar frontrunners Matthew McConaughey and Cate Blanchett won top acting honors, while "Blue is the Warmest Color" received a pair of prizes including LGBT Film of the Year. HBO's "Behind the Candelabra" and Netflix's "Orange is the New Black" picked up awards in the TV categories, including a tie for TV Drama of the Year. Check out the full list of nominees and winners below and remember to keep track of the season via The Circuit.
PARK CITY - Reviewing a new Lars von Trier joint is never exactly a breeze, though it's usually a little easier when you've seen the whole thing. Presented last night as the not-so-secret Secret Screening at the Sundance Film Festival, "Nymphomaniac (Part One)" offers at least a full film's worth of theories, provocations and retina-branding images in its first half -- as well it might, given that its first half is nearly two hours long. But they're cut off cruelly in limbo, with nothing so much as a tidy temporary knot or mini-catharsis to tide us over until Part Two, and I can't feign any insight as to the film's narrative or thematic endgame.
PARK CITY - During the Q&A for Charlie McDaniel's "The One I Love," an audience member asked the director and cast how would anyone be able to market this film without giving its big secret away? McDaniel, stars Mark Duplass, Elisabeth Moss and screenwriter Justin Lader laughed it off, but the same question could also be asked of someone reviewing the film. How do you attempt to review a movie where part of its success is not knowing a major key ingredient to the story? Perhaps that's why the term "spoiler alert" was invented. In any case, we're going to give it the old college try. And, provide an out if you'd like to stay ignorant of the set-up because this is one movie with more surprises than you could ever imagine.