Keira Knightley and Michael Fassbender in "A Dangerous Method," a gala selection at the New York Film Festival
Keira Knightley and Michael Fassbender in "A Dangerous Method," a gala selection at the New York Film Festival
Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Reviewing NYFF across space and time

Rounding up the New York fest titles we've already discussed

Like the upcoming London Film Festival (which I will be covering first-hand from next week), the New York Film Festival is one of those greatest-hits affairs consisting mainly of cherry-picked successes from previous fests -- with just enough new content to keep it from becoming a residents-only deal.

This year, for example, securing the world premiere of "My Week With Marilyn" (which will be unveiled on Sunday) has attracted enough eyeballs to the NYFF that even its repeats of already-reviewed hits from Cannes, Venice, Toronto and the like prompt flutters of Twitter activity.

I'd love to be in New York to bring you festival views directly -- actually, I'd love to be in New York for many reasons -- but obviously, I am not. Happily, however, Kris and I have seen enough of the NYFF selections between us that we could reasonably fake a festival report if required. It needn't come to that, of course, but for those of you following the festival coverage, what follows is a quick round-up of the NYFF titles we've already reviewed and/or discussed here at In Contention.

Read Full Post
<p>Corey&nbsp;Stoll's performance as&nbsp;Ernest Hemingway in the well-liked &quot;Midnight in&nbsp;Paris&quot;&nbsp;is the kind of thing that could find traction in a wide open field.</p>

Corey Stoll's performance as Ernest Hemingway in the well-liked "Midnight in Paris" is the kind of thing that could find traction in a wide open field.

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Off the Carpet: Wide open supporting actor race could be headlined by vets

Chrisopher Plummer, Albert Brooks, Max Von Sydow and Nick Nolte lead early talk

Last week -- out of pure laziness because there frankly isn't much about the season worth discussing without assigning dubious meaning to this and that -- I shined a light on the lead actor category in this space. Today, for the same reasons, let's move on to Best Supporting Actor.

Anne and I took a stab at the supporting categories in Friday's Oscar Talk, but digging in a bit on the fellows, it's exciting how wide open the field appears to be. When your best bet is a player in a fringe indie hopeful that isn't likely to stir much discussion in other arenas, you know it's a fluid line-up. Still, Christopher Plummer is a delight and makes it look so easy in "Beginners," so, fittingly, he's already having flags planted on his behalf by early kudo committees. But after that, it's anyone's game.

I placed a bet on Max Von Sydow last week after hearing multiple accounts of his work in "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" being something special and the most viable option from the cast. But it's still a largely unseen film, as is "My Week with Marilyn" and Kenneth Branagh's supporting turn as Laurence Olivier. But those who have caught a look are quick to mention the two.

Read Full Post
<p>Jeremy&nbsp;Irvine (left)&nbsp;and Steven&nbsp;Spielberg on the set of &quot;War Horse&quot;</p>

Jeremy Irvine (left) and Steven Spielberg on the set of "War Horse"

Credit: Touchstone Pictures

Oscarweb Round-up: 'But we haven't seen it!'

Also: Gold Derby heads off on its own again and Charlie Kaufman's latest is unfortunately spoiled publicly

Linked in today's round-up is a piece from Nathaniel Rogers about the fact that there are simply no locks for Oscar in the earliest stages, certainly not for films that are still unseen. Though it wasn't his point, it nevertheless got me thinking of two spats I got into last week with people who were flabbergasted at the idea of considering "War Horse" at the top of a list of Oscar guesses. "It hasn't been seen!" No kidding. But the fact is, if you're asking me to take wild stabs, I'll take an unseen Steven Spielberg movie based on a hit play set during World War I over an Alexander Payne comedy that has played well at festivals -- all day long. It's like saying it's silly in week one to bet on the Packers to make it to the Super Bowl because they play on Monday night and we haven't seen what they're made of, while the Lions killed in the early game on Sunday. Or something like that. It's fair to bank it on pedigree because the fact is it's all a bunch of nonsense guessing until voters -- the people who matter in the equation -- actually see the film, and that's not usually until the holidays, anyway. So spare me the indignant, "But we haven't seen it yet!" It's okay if things change. Anyway, let's see what's going on in the Oscarweb today...

Read Full Post
<p>Osama bin -- er -- the Joker confronts George W. -- er -- Batman in &quot;The Dark Knight&quot;</p>

Osama bin -- er -- the Joker confronts George W. -- er -- Batman in "The Dark Knight"

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Cinejabber: Sometimes Batman just really wants to catch the Joker

Open thread. The floor is yours.

This is Cinejabber, your weekend space to cut loose about whatever is on your mind.

Today I'm thinking about politics in movies. Not surface politics, mind you, like, say, George Clooney's "The Ides of March" or Clint Eastwood's upcoming "J. Edgar." I'm talking about those movies that speak to the "zeitgeist," if you will, whether inherently or interpretively.

It hit me because I heard the strangest take on the finale of "Take Shelter" recently. I won't spoil it here, but someone called the ending of that film "too right wing." Upon reflection, I suppose I could understand how someone might see that. But it just reminds you that people will find politics anywhere.

Some are on about "Moneyball" speaking to things like "innovative problem-solving, and a moral ground that will benefit the team." Again, I can understand the dots and the connecting of them, but so often this kind of thing is perspective brought to the table rather than taken from it.

Read Full Post
Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford in "All the President's Men"
Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford in "All the President's Men"
Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

George Clooney lists 100 of his favorite films

'All the President's Men' cracks politically-minded star's top five

George Clooney is the rare kind of star whose magnetism is such that people might actually care what his favorite films are -- I rather like the idea of devout fans frantically updating their Netflix queues in response to this list he's shared with Parade magazine. (Their infomercial-like instructions: "See the films George Clooney loves!"

He's certainly been generous with his advice. Rather than reeling a couple of titles off the top of his head, he's recommended 100; before you go assuming these are his 100 all-time favorites, however, bear in mind that he's limited to focus to films made between 1964 and 1976, the period he believes to be the most exciting in film history.

His taste, rather like his filmmaking, is admirably classical if not terribly radical: most of the expected canon titles are present and correct, while guiltier pleaures seem largely to have been filtered out. Somewhat annoyingly, Parade have presented the list as a 100-panel slideshow; if you have the time to wade through it all, knock yourself out here.

Read Full Post
<p>(from left)&nbsp;Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, Christoph&nbsp;Waltz and Kate Winslet in Roman Polanski's &quot;Carnage&quot;</p>

(from left) Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, Christoph Waltz and Kate Winslet in Roman Polanski's "Carnage"

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Polanski's aptly titled 'Carnage' makes for dicey translation to the screen

Kate Winslet stands out by not standing out in histrionic cast

Ever since Roman Polanski's adaptation of Yasmina Reza's play "God of Carnage" announced its cast, I admit I've been a bit wary. The play, which I saw on Broadway in 2009, was rousing and wonderful, specifically because it was handled by a pitch-perfect cast -- Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis, James Gandolfini and Marcia Gay Harden --  that served the medium well. And I think that group would have served the film just as well, properly drilling things down to the more intimate medium of cinema.

Oddly, though, the quartet assembled for Polanski's stab -- Christoph Waltz, Kate Winslet, John C. Reilly and Jodie Foster -- by and large swings for the fences and plays to the non-existent rafters far too often for the story to settle in on celluloid. Obviously that's plenty owed to the direction of the material, which is a bit cumbersome elsewhere, too, book-ending the tightened quarrel at the center of the story with a superfluous depiction of the inciting incident. Meanwhile, while the tactic of closing things in and embracing the staginess of the tale actually works for material like this, having the actors perform it in such broad gestures really begins to eat away at and borderline lampoon what made the original work so cutting.

Read Full Post
<p>&nbsp;Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander in David Fincher's &quot;The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo&quot;</p>

 Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander in David Fincher's "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"

Credit: Columbia Pictures

David Fincher: Lisbeth Salander is 'refuse'

Director discusses his concept for 'Dragon Tattoo' heroine

I'm still not exactly sure how much I should be looking forward to David Fincher's remake of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." Having effortfully avoided all trailers so far, I have only the on-paper facts to go on -- and as much as the names involved push the film comfortably into must-see-and-soon status, I still wonder whether a truly great film can be made from a novel as limited in scope and bitter in aftertaste as Stieg Larsson's admittedly propulsive bestseller.

The lumbering Swedish original certainly didn't come close for me, and I at least feel secure in expecting a more cinematically stimulating interpretation of the material from Fincher. What I'm really hoping for, however, is a performance from the hitherto promising Rooney Mara that makes good on the reams of rhetoric we've been fed since the book's publication about Lisbeth Salander being a definitively conflicted 21st-century heroine. Noomi Rapace's widely praised performance in the Swedish films sold me on Salander's athleticism and severity, but for me, overegged the character's self-repression to the point of mere posing.

However, in an interview with Empire magazine, Fincher drops some intriguing hints about his vision for the character that suggests Salander's inner life has been amply thought through in the new film. Click through to read what he has to say.

Read Full Post
<p>Michael&nbsp;Shannon fears for the future in &quot;Take Shelter&quot;</p>

Michael Shannon fears for the future in "Take Shelter"

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Tell us what you thought of 'Take Shelter'

The Sundance stand-out finally hits theaters today

Ever since I caught "Take Shelter" in advance of the fall festival season, I can't really stop thinking about it. It's easily one of the most powerful, lingering works of the year for me, across the board. Michael Shannon's performance -- it's no secret -- gets top marks from me so far. I spoke to him earlier this week about his work on the film. His co-star, Jessica Chastain, is also quite wonderful in the film and this could actually be her best bet for a nomination. And, of course, Jeff Nichols' vision is so drilled down and vibrantly realized. Okay, enough from me. The film hits theaters today, so I'd love to hear your thoughts. Cut loose with them in the comments section here if/when you get around to seeing the film.

Read Full Post
<p>Trey Parker (far left) and Matt Stone (far right) make J-Lo and Paltrow proud with their 2000 homage...with a little Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds for added effect.</p>

Trey Parker (far left) and Matt Stone (far right) make J-Lo and Paltrow proud with their 2000 homage...with a little Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds for added effect.

Trey Parker and Matt Stone tripped acid at the Oscars in 2000

Imagine if they won and had to accept in those dresses?

One of the cooler Oscar nominations of recent memory was the Best Original Song recognition Trey Parker and Marc Shaiman received for the ditty "Blame Canada" from 1999's "South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut." And one of the more eye-popping moments of an Oscar telecast was when Parker and Matt Stone showed up to the ceremony in March of 2000 decked out in dresses similar to those worn by Jennifer Lopez and Gwyneth Paltrow at previous Oscar ceremonies.

While visiting David Letterman back in March, the duo copped to "Sheening" at the Oscars that year, in reference to bad boy Charlie Sheen, who was very much in the news for his shenanigans at the time of their Late Night appearance. "We were just Sheening our heads off," Parker said at the time. No explanation of the drug of choice, though given the association, many thought they were coked out of their minds. Well, they wanted to set the record straight when they appeared on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" last night.

Settle down, everyone. They weren't using cocaine that night. They were just flying high on a little acid, okay? Click through to see the section of the interview where they discuss the trippy night.

Read Full Post
Oscar Talk: Ep. 63 -- Digging into the supporting categories

Oscar Talk: Ep. 63 -- Digging into the supporting categories

Also: Urging you to see '50/50' and 'Take Shelter' and discussing the box office of films like 'Drive,' 'Warrior' and 'Moneyball'

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.

With the early fall tests behind us, we stand on the precipice of October. The New York film fest is just around the corner with London fest not far behind. We're very much off to the races, but also very much in our bubble right now, seeing a number of films that Academy members and even industry sorts haven't gotten around to yet. So that's the echo chamber for you. A few more weeks of that and finally the few voices will turn into a more rousing chorus. Now, let's see what's on the docket today...

Read Full Post