One of the coolest things to have seen take shape over my years covering the awards beat has been watching the program of Oscar-nominated short films find an outlet to the public through Shorts HD and Magnolia Pictures' annual theatrical and, eventually, VOD showcase of the contenders. And they're more accessible than ever as, in addition to theatrical distribution on Jan. 31, they'll be available on things like iTunes, Amazon Instant Video and DirecTV.
PARK CITY - Even with four critics reviewing movies it's hard to catch everything at a festival as big as Sundance. One movie that we'll be reviewing over the next few days is Edet Belzberg's new documentary "Watchers of the Sky." The film debuted last weekend in the U.S. documentary competition and follows four modern day humanitarians who all owe something to the legendary Raphael Lemkin, the man who first termed the word genocide (and that was just the beginning of his legacy).
Screenwriter Terence Winter, who last week was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for his work on Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street," was just as confused by some of the reactions to his film as Leonardo DiCaprio was toward the end of the year. The hedonistic depiction of Wall Street excess had led some to question its moral standing, surmising that it seemed to take far too much delight in its depictions.
But that thin line is also partly the point. It's a film that shows you a good time and dares you to have fun with it, because it's a display of antics that appeal to base, primal desires in many ways. That having been said, the idea that anyone would take away from it the idea that it was meant to be a glorification was "sort of a head-scratcher" for Winter, he says. "You'd think it would go without saying, but anyone who would watch that behavior and want to emulate what's going on on screen has got a screw loose as far as I'm concerned."
"The Great Gatsby" turned out to be a bone of contention between director Baz Luhrmann and his wife, costume designer and production designer Catherine Martin. He had loved F. Scott Fitzgerald's book for many years, while it didn't exactly bowl her over when she first read it as a teenager in Australia. As a 15-year-old, it alienated her, and she couldn't quite understand the central love story.
Probably the story that caught the most traction over the holiday yesterday was Harvey Weinstein's recent comments on violence in films on CNN's "Piers Morgan Live." Said the Weinstein Company co-chairman, "You have to look in the mirror," he said on the program. "I have to just choose that aren't as violent as they used to be. For me, personally, I can't continue to do that. So change starts here." Of course, Weinstein hasn't really traded in violence beyond his relationship with Quentin Tarantino. [CNN]
It may have been left out of the Oscar race entirely, but Cannes champion "Blue is the Warmest Color" reigned supreme at France's Lumiere Awards -- which hold a similar place in the French awards calendar to the Golden Globes. (The French Oscar equivalent, the Cesar Awards, announced their nods on January 31.) "Blue" won all four categories in which it was nominated: Best Film, Director, Actress for Lea Seydoux (shared with her work in "Grand Central") and Breakthrough Actress for Adele Exarchopoulos. Roman Polanski took Best Screenplay honors for "Venus in Fur"; Bertrand Tavernier's "The French Minister," which led the field with five nods, won nothing. Full list of winners below; everything else at The Circuit.
PARK CITY - Four features into his career, any words along the lines of “look out for Jim Mickle” are beginning to feel somewhat redundant – we’re looking, and he keeps showing up, nailing one nifty little genre film after another. To describe him as “going places” is to imply that there’s somewhere else he needs to be: Hollywood, perhaps, where his jacknife formal discipline and rowdy sense of humor would enliven any number of multiplex entertainments.
PARK CITY - Michael C. Hall is no stranger to the Sundance Film Festival (he was in Park City only last year for "Kill Your Darlings"), but representing a film as the leading man is a new experience for the TV star, best known for his Emmy-nominated roles in "Six Feet Under" and, of course, "Dexter." With the latter show having finished its long run last year, however, Hall is free to switch things up a bit.
I remember a few years ago, one of the more surprising Oscar nominees for both Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing was Edward Zwick's "Blood Diamond." It made sense in hindsight. Not only was it great work from respected artists, but Zwick has always had an ear for quality sound work; four of his films have been recognized with Oscar nominations by the branch. So he's a nice choice for this year's Filmmaker Award at the 50th annual Cinema Audio Society (CAS) Awards.
Alexander Payne's vision for "Nebraska" was always in black and white. Going way back to prep on 2004's "Sideways," he told his director of photography, Phedon Papamichael, that he had this little road trip movie he was keen to do free of color, which of course was appealing to Papamichael. Nearly a decade later they finally set out to make the movie, but they had a bit of a roadblock.