The 21st annual Screen Actors Guild Awards are going down tonight live from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. I plead ignorance on a lot of the TV stuff (sorry Dan and Alan), but on the movies side, there is a lot of intrigue. After last night's Producers Guild victory for "Birdman," and with the film being a favorite to take the ensemble and lead actor prizes tonight, everyone is wondering if Alejandro González Iñárritu's film will come out of this weekend looking BOSS. We'll know in due time.
PARK CITY — No one needs to worry about Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig experiencing a sophomore slump. After collaborating behind the camera for 2012's "Frances Ha," the duo have reunited for "Mistress America," a hilarious new comedy that premiered Saturday evening at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. And yes, for those who care, this one is in color.
PARK CITY — The Sundance Film Festival has transformed the careers of many actors over the years. Parker Posey, Mo'Nique, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jesse Eisenberg, Miles Teller, Amy Adams and Vera Farminga are just a few who had their lives changed after a phenomenal performance shook the festival faithful. Today, another name should be added to that list: Bel Powley. The 22-year-old Brit has her coming out party in Marielle Heller's directorial debut, "The Diary of a Teenage Girl," which premiered Saturday at the 2015 edition of the festival.
Ever since "The Hurt Locker" triumphed over "Avatar" at the 2010 Producers Guild Awards, it has been rather obvious to me that this precursor announcement is the skeleton key to understanding how the Oscar vote will likely play out. Why? Because — as we've noted a number of times — the PGA is the only group that shares the preferential ballot system the Academy employs. So what won this year? "Birdman" won, that's what. And for those who were chalking this up as a boring, telegraphed Oscar season…
PARK CITY — There is a moment in Rupert Goold's "True Story" that is truly captivating. After watching her husband be manipulated from afar, Jill Finkel (played marvelously by Felicity Jones), goes to meet accused murderer Christian Longo (James Franco) at the county jail where he's incarcerated. In less than five minutes Jill uses the tale of 16th century composer Carlo Gesualdo, who murdered his wife and baby in cold blood, to unmask Longo as the killer she knows he is and to make it clear his charade will only get so far as long as she's around. It's a moment that demonstrates how talented the current Oscar nominee for Best Actress is in what has been a thankless role up until his point in the film. It also underlines how frustrating a film "True Story" is that the best scene in the movie doesn't include star Jonah Hill and barely involves Franco.
PARK CITY — The concept of "The D Train," which premiered Friday at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, may sound somewhat familiar. An everyday family man who has never moved out of his hometown discovers the most popular guy in high school is now a successful actor in Hollywood. Our hero decides to go to Los Angeles to convince his idol to return for their high school reunion. If he comes back, said hero will finally be "the man" and earn some respect from his former schoolmates. Sure, it hasn't exactly been made before, but there are numerous elements in the premise you've no doubt seen over the past few decades on both the small and big screen. What makes "D Train" unique is the commitment from directors Andrew Mogel and Jarrad Paul to center the storyline around one outrageous moment and then completely ride it out to an even more jaw-dropping conclusion.
PARK CITY — Nikole Beckwith's new drama, "Stockholm, Pennsylvania," which premiered Friday at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, asks a number of questions surrounding the provocative subject matter of child abductees. How would a young woman who has spent 17 of her 23 years captive in a basement adjust to living in the real world? And, more controversially, is this a better "life" than what she was experiencing before?
A handful of people ended up with multiple Oscar nominations this year, and a number of them are names you've heard. Alejandro G. Iñárritu, for instance, was nominated for producing, directing and writing "Birdman." Wes Anderson and Richard Linklater picked up the same trio for "The Grand Budapest Hotel" and "Boyhood" respectively, while Anthony McCarten double dipped for producing and writing "The Theory of Everything." And of course the prolific composer Alexandre Desplat was nominated for his work on both "Grand Budapest" and "The Imitation Game." Set decorator Anna Pinnock also picked up two for her work on "Grand Budapest" and "Into the Woods," but a pair of sound mixers made the cut for two entirely different projects and stood out as a particularly interesting trivia nugget this year: Jon Taylor and Frank A. Montaño.
Something happened with this year's Oscar nominations that marked another milestone on the ongoing sage of film and digital photography. For the first time ever, four of the Best Cinematography nominees were digital productions. The lone celluloid holdout? Robert D. Yeoman's work on Wes Anderson's "Grand Budapest Hotel."