Yes, it's finally come to this. After months of festival debuts, cocktail parties and a fake awards show that somehow was aired on a major broadcast network, an awards event that actually means something (sort of) in the Oscar race is happening. The 2014 Independent Spirit Awards nominations are hours away and, in some ways, they are the most competitive in recent memory.
The gears in composer Alexandre Desplat’s head are always turning. They have to be; even with a packed scheduled — he’ll see five films hit American screens before the end of 2014 — his artistic process is still one of care and contemplation. With each new score, Desplat chisels out a sound that’s recognizably story-driven, interwoven with theme and individual from his other works. In his new film, "The Imitation Game," the composer translates Alan Turing’s life into a fractaling piano score that encompasses both the mathematician’s achievements — cracking the Nazi’s "Enigma Code" with a proto-computer known as the Turing Machine — and an emotional frustration bubbling underneath the surface.
"Moulin Rouge!" (2001), "Chicago" (2002), "The Phantom of the Opera" (2004), "Dreamgirls" (2006), "Enchanted" (2007), "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" (2007), "Nine" (2009), "Les Misérables" (2012). Between them, 50 oscar nominations, only three of them recognized for Best Picture and only one of them taking the big prize. That's more or less the modern legacy Rob Marshall's "Into the Woods" is looking to enter into, a stage of relative reinvigoration for the musical film genre.
BEVERLY HILLS — I love talking to Oscar Isaac about the craft of acting. He's never quick with a facile soundbite and always has something intriguing to chew on regarding his choices, if you're willing to get into it. And with his subtle, smoldering work as Abel — a man trying to build a business and a life in the middle of the cold and ruthless New York City of 1981 in J.C. Chandor's "A Most Violent Year" — there is plenty to chew on indeed.
Thomas Vinterberg’s "The Hunt" earned a Best Foreign Language Academy Award nomination at this year’s ceremony. Starring Mads Mikkelsen, the psychologically aggressive film focuses in on a town imploding after pedophilia accusations spread like wildfire. Like he did with his Dogme 95 film "The Celebration," Vinterberg’s film burrows straight to the gut, a moral play with physicality. Based on the trailer for his follow-up, an adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s "Far From The Madding Crowd," the director will adapt that audacious approach for sweeping romance.
We really shouldn't be having this conversation. It's just too soon. Isn't it?
When Meryl Streep won her third Academy Award for "The Iron Lady," the collective media mindset was that the acting icon had finally joined the three-timer club and any other nominations from that point on would be icing on the cake. A fourth Oscar win? Considering how many times she'd been overlooked since winning no. 2 for "Sophie's Choice" in 1982, it just didn't seem realistic that it would happen anytime soon or at all. Even after landing another Best Actress nod for "August: Osage County," the concept of Streep conceivably winning another statue just didn't register. That is, until now.
Perception is not always reality. Especially in the movie business.
Ever since the first trailer for "Paddington" arrived last March, eyebrows were raised. Would this CG-animated-live action hybrid do Michael Bond's beloved literary bear justice? Many thought the teaser looked more "Smurfs" or (perish the thought) "Garfield" than in the vein of a well-regarded "Fantastic Mr. Fox." It didn't matter that "Harry Potter" and "Gravity" producer David Heyman was shepherding the production; this was a movie that ended up having one bad publicity crisis after another.
This year's Best Animated Short Film Oscar race is, as ever, full of fetching displays of boundary-pushing technique and bold artistic voices. I sought out and watched all 10 of this year's contenders, announced recently by the Academy, from Disney's widely-viewed latest to an offering from the legendary Bill Plympton to new work from Oscar winners like William Joyce and Torill Kove. Let's just say I'm glad it's not my responsibility to whittle this down to five.
Palm Springs: The place to be during Oscar season. The California town’s annual film festival is a hotbed of potential nominees, actors and actresses wrangled for speciality honors that amplify existing buzz. Currently receiving accolades from Palm Springs International Film Festival: Eddie Redmayne ("The Theory of Everything"), Julianne Moore ("Still Alice"), and J.K. Simmons ("Whiplash"). Time for another name: Rosamund Pike.