Another year, another top 10 list. This one, however, will be slightly different than previous installments.
Films with iconic and haunting images rule the year
'The Hobbit' and 'Rush' fail to make the cut
The Academy has announced this year's bake-off finalists for the Best Makeup and Hairstyling Oscar, and the big omissions appear to be Ron Howard's "Rush" and Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." But the Jackass boys have cause for celebration!
The trailer for Christopher Nolan's latest hit today and it has something to say
The teaser trailer for Christopher Nolan's first foray into filmmaking with the "Dark Knight" trilogy firmly in his rear view mirror landed today, and it's certainly a tease. Fleeting images of America's space race populate it, from Bell X-1 aircraft dropping into the atmosphere for collision course with the sound barrier to Walter Cronkite removing his glasses in awed disbelief after Neil Armstrong, the alien, set foot on the moon. Matthew McConaughey's voice over reflects a world that has left that innovation behind, and with it, the spirit to achieve wonders.
This is a thematic thread I'm very, very interested in, and where once "Interstellar" was a genre curiosity — well, more than that, a sci-fi excursion I was very much looking forward to from an immensely talented commercial filmmaker and a charismatic, revived leading man fronting an amazing cast — it has now taken on a whole new hue for me. This could be an extremely meaningful portrait at a time when NASA is seemingly funded just enough to keep the lights on, when that eagerness to "make the unknown known" has given way to global concerns that are often times necessary, others merely a distraction.
'Wolf of Wall Street' lands some top mentions
Another nomination list, another leading haul for "12 Years a Slave." This time, it's the San Francisco Film Critics Circle, and Steve McQueen's film receives nine nods. It's not an especially inventive list, but it's a solid one: nice to see the stars of "Blue is the Warmest Color" rack up another mention, while those of you rooting for "The Wolf of Wall Street" will be pleased to note nominations for Best Picture, Director and Actor. Perhaps the least expected mention: Harrison Ford's supporting actor nod for "42." That dogged FYC campaign finally yields some fruit. Winners will be announced on Sunday.
Scarlett Johansson takes another prize for her voice-only performance
The Detroit Film Critics Society mixed things up a little with their awards, giving Spike Jonze's "Her" another Best Picture win, but also going so far as to hand Scarlett Johansson their Best Supporting Actress prize for her voice work in the film. They also went against the grain in Best Actress, giving the win to Brie Larson for indie darling "Short Term 12" -- then doubling up by handing her their Best Breakthrough Performance award too. Larger-scale filmmaking muscled in with a Best Director win for "Gravity." Full list after the jump.
Sandra Bullock and Oprah Winfrey get on the scoreboard
In this banner year for black filmmakers, the African-American Film Critics' Association -- which doesn't exclusively honor black-themed cinema, but leans heavily in that direction -- was always going to be spoilt for choice. No surprise, then, to see "12 Years a Slave" take Best Picture, Director, Screenplay and Breakout Performance for Lupita Nyong'o, while their Best Picture runner-up, "Lee Daniels' The Butler," won acting awards for Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey. Sandra Bullock and Jared Leto round out the top prizewinners, while it's nice to see Andrew Dosunmu's superb "Mother of George" recognized further down. Full list after the jump.
How did a fantastic year of filmmaking shape up on our lists?
Welcome to Oscar Talk.
In case you're new to the site and/or the podcast, Oscar Talk is your one-stop awards chat shop between yours truly and Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood. The podcast is broadcast in special installments 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.
On the docket today…
The second part of Peter Jackson's return to Middle Earth hits screens today
I haven't yet caught up with "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" myself. On my one opportunity to see it this week, it was scheduled against "The Wolf of Wall Street" and -- well, you know. I didn't get on at all with "An Unexpected Journey" last year, finding it narratively listless and visually garish (not helped by the divisive 48fps technology).
But my curiosity has been renewed after a number of trusted colleagues deemed the new instalment significantly superior to its predecessor. Drew McWeeny is among the believers, declaring the film a "thrilling" improvement. Now it's your turn. Do you agree that "Smaug" is a step up? Perhaps you thought the first film required no improvement? Or can you still not get over the division of one slender book into three films? Share your thoughts in the comments if and when you've seen the film, and vote in our poll below.
The Berlin Golden Bear winner is Romania's entry to the Academy Awards
What might the late Chi-town legend Roger Ebert have thought of this year's films?
I was hit with a pang of sadness this morning when it occurred to me that the Chicago Film Critics Association's list of nominees this year are the organization's first since the passing of legendary Chicago critic Roger Ebert. What would he have thought of "12 Years a Slave," which led the way with 11 nominations? How would he have responded to "Gravity?" What invaluable insight might he have afforded films like "American Hustle," "Her" and "Inside Llewyn Davis," all of which fill out the group's Best Picture slate? We'll never know, and I don't know — it strikes me as particularly unfortunate in a year like this, which has been so, so extraordinary. Rest in peace, Roger. Check out the full list of CFCA nominations below. And remember to keep track of the season via The Circuit.