<p>Michelle Yeoh as Aung San suu Kyi and David Thewlis as her husband Michael Aris in &quot;The Lady.&quot;</p>

Michelle Yeoh as Aung San suu Kyi and David Thewlis as her husband Michael Aris in "The Lady."

Credit: AP Photo/Cohen Media Group, Magali Bragard

Interview: David Thewlis on adult love, social change and ‘The Lady’

Casting a light on Burma and Aung San Suu Kyi

David Thewlis, like many of us, was only minimally familiar with the story of Aung San Suu Kyi when he was first presented with the script for director Luc Besson’s “The Lady.” The actor (who plays Suu Kyi’s husband Michael in the film) was aware of her as a Nobel laureate and political prisoner in Burma (known officially as the Republic of the Union of Myanmar), but did not know the story of her marriage, or that she had left her husband and two children behind in her fight. “I knew that there was a woman campaigning for democracy under a military regime,” he says.

I, too, possessed little more than iconic snapshot images of Suu Kyi and her work when I sat down to watch the film. I knew she was a leader of immeasurable courage. I knew of her now legendary walk past the raised guns of the Burmese military, a military that was prepared to kill without hesitation on behalf of an entrenched government that has ruled violently via repressive military dictatorship for decades. And yet they did not kill her. In my imagination, it was as though she was some unearthly figure, something so graceful that they could not bear to cut her down.

Read Full Post
<p>Mike Leigh has been named jury president at next year's Berlinale.</p>

Mike Leigh has been named jury president at next year's Berlinale.

Credit: AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau

Mike Leigh to head 2012 Berlinale jury

Will the veteran British director spot next year's 'A Separation?'

Mike Leigh, the seemingly mild-mannered master of contemporary British realism, is famously a man who takes no prisoners, and one imagines this extends to the jury table at film festivals. While serving as a Cannes juror in 1997, Leigh and jury president Isabelle Adjani are said to have butted heads repeatedly: "She's simply not very bright," he airily wrote years later.

So the jurors at next year's Berlin Film Festival in February will have to be on their game, as Leigh will be presiding over events: the first time, to my knowledge, that the director has headed the jury at any of the three European majors. As it happens, the first of them to invite him is also the only one at which he's never won: Leigh has a Palme d'Or and a Venice Golden Lion, but has only competed once at Berlin, with "Happy-Go-Lucky" in 2008. (He came away empty-handed; Sally Hawkins won Best Actress.)  

Read Full Post
<p>Michael Fassbender in a scene from &quot;Shame&quot;</p>

Michael Fassbender in a scene from "Shame"

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Tell us what you thought of 'Shame'

The film hits theaters today

How much more could be written about "Shame" at this point? Guy loved in Venice. I loved it in Telluride. The film got the inevitable NC-17 rating. Fox Searchlight wore that as a badge of honor and Roth talked to star Carey Mulligan about her performance. The film finally makes its way to screens today (on whichever ones will have them -- some, like Cinemark, will not). I'll be eager to hear your thoughts on the film when/if you get around to it this weekend or in the near future, so come on back here and give us your take if you do. Also, don't forget to rate the film in our "related events" feature below.

Read Full Post
<p>Julie Christie in Nicolas Roeg's &quot;Don't Look Now.&quot;</p>

Julie Christie in Nicolas Roeg's "Don't Look Now."

Credit: Paramount Pictures

London Critics' Circle honors Nicolas Roeg

Director of 'Don't Look Now' and 'Performance' recognized for contribution to British cinema

This is news I've been excited to report for some time. This year, I was on the London Film Critics' Circle awards committee to determine who would receive the group's annual Dilys Powell Award for contribution to British cinema, which wasn't the most simple of tasks. Many worthy names were bandied about, but the final choice is one no one could take issue with: venerable London-born director and former cinematographer Nicolas Roeg.

It's hard to think of someone more deserving of career recognition: in addition to helming such offbeat classics as "Performance," "Don't Look Now" and "The Man Who Fell to Earth," Roeg brought equal formal vigor to his lensing of "Far From the Madding Crowd" and "Petulia," among others. The choice strikes a chord with me personally, given that "The Witches" was something of a formative film for my seven year-old self. Indeed, Roeg's was the first director's name I ever took note of.

Read Full Post
Oscar Talk: Ep. 72 -- Gothams, Indie Spirits, NYFCC, NBR and 'We Bought a Zoo'

Oscar Talk: Ep. 72 -- Gothams, Indie Spirits, NYFCC, NBR and 'We Bought a Zoo'

Also: The fate of Leonaro DiCaprio and the 'Harry Potter' FYC splurge

Welcome to Oscar Talk.

In case you're new to the site and/or the podcast, Oscar Talk is a weekly kudocast, your one-stop awards chat shop between yours truly and Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood. The podcast is weekly, every Friday 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.

It's been a busy, busy week on the awards circuit, and it was a busy Tuesday in particular. Awards shows, screenings, nominations announcements and the first critics awards of the season were all thrown into the mix. Let's see what's on the docket today...

Read Full Post
<p>Andy Serkis on the set of &quot;Rise of the Planet of the Apes&quot;</p>

Andy Serkis on the set of "Rise of the Planet of the Apes"

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Oscarweb Round-up: Stumping for Serkis

Also: Protesting 'Paradise Lost 3' and everyone's talking about 'Shame

You've probably noticed the Fox ads decorating a number of sites (including this one) pimping Andy Serkis's motion capture performance in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes." It's apt language -- "The time is now." -- and a commendable play even if it is the steepest of uphill battles. In this morning's Oscar Talk podcast we'll talk a little more about it, but it's worth it to stir the conversation at least to the point that those who walk in Serkis's footsteps in the form, or perhaps Serkis himself down the line, will benefit and maybe be taken a little more seriously in the awards season. The buzz on the matter has been swirling ever since Tom Roth made some public comments about it, and that buzz has made its way across the pond. [Guardian]

Read Full Post
<p>Ryan Gosling in &quot;Drive.&quot;</p>

Ryan Gosling in "Drive."

Credit: Film District

Satellite Award nominations topped by 'War Horse'... and 'Drive'

Season's most inscrutable precursors nominate practically everybody

The Satellite Awards don't get much respect on the precursor beat, and there's a reason for that: no one really seems to know who votes for them, they appear to be supremely undiscriminating with their lengthy nominee list, and their choices are frequently as head-scratching as they are admittedly inspired. (Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Best Supporting Actor nominee Colin Farrell in "Horrible Bosses.")

Still, as ridiculous as they are in many ways, I find it impossible to dislike an awards body that has so little regard for its own precursor status -- you certainly can't accuse a group who nominates John Michael McDonagh, debut helmer of "The Guard," for Best Director of trying to anticipate the Oscar race. And it's hard not to be a little tickled by a nominee list that is jointly led, with eight nods apiece, by two films at such opposite ends of the bait spectrum: "War Horse" and "Drive."

Read Full Post
<p>A scene from&nbsp;Pixar's &quot;La Luna&quot;</p>

A scene from Pixar's "La Luna"

Credit: Pixar Animation Studios

AMPAS advances 10 animated shorts, including Pixar's latest

Contenders include 'La Luna,' 'I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat' and 'Paths of Hate'

The Academy announced today its list of 10 animated shorts that will compete for nominations in the category. This has become a favorite race to follow in these later stretches, I must say. The only film of the bunch that I have seen is Pixar's "La Luna," which could walk away with the prize. (It's the studio's best animated short in years; my thoughts from Telluride can be found here.)

The Short Films and Feature Animation Branch Reviewing Committee viewed all the eligible entries for the preliminary round of voting in screenings held in New York and Los Angeles, the press release notes. Branch members will now select three to five nominees. Screenings will be held in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco in January.

The 84th Academy Awards nominations -- in case you need reminding -- will be announced live on Tuesday, January 24, 2012, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater. We'll know then which of these made the cut.

Check out the full list of shorts below.

Read Full Post
<p>Asa Butterfield in &quot;Hugo,&quot;&nbsp;NBR&nbsp;winner for best picture of the year</p>

Asa Butterfield in "Hugo," NBR winner for best picture of the year

Credit: Paramount Pictures

'Hugo' leaps into the Best Picture race with National Board of Review win

Martin Scorsese also takes Best Director; George Clooney and Tilda Swinton nab top acting honors

Not so fast, "The Artist." After Michel Hazanavicius's silent love letter came out earlier this week in the front of the Best Picture landscape (nailing down five Independent Spirit Award nominations and winning the New York Film Critics Circle's Best Picture prize), Martin Scorsese's "Hugo" has planted a flag in the race today by claiming the National Board of Review's prize for best film of the year.

The film also won the Best Director prize for Scorsese, and overall, I'm a bit surprised. But happily. I was worried for a moment there we might have a steamroller this season.

"The Artist" did manage to crack the NBR's top 10 list, which also included Best Picture hopefuls "The Descendants" and "War Horse," and somewhat surprisingly left room for Nicolas Winding Refn's "Drive" and Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life." And the organization being the Clint Eastwood devotees that they are, "J. Edgar" naturally showed up, too.

Read Full Post

Taking questions for 12/2 Oscar Talk

Offer up your burning queries

As we await the National Board of Review announcement, let's go ahead and knock this out. Anne and I will of course be giving our thoughts on the NYFCC, Indie Spirits and NBR announcements, as well as the Gothams and probably a bit on "We Bought a Zoo." Tell us your need-to-knows outside of that and we'll try to address a few. Keep it interesting, stay away from stuff we've already covered, etc.

Read Full Post