"Birdman" has led with the most nominations from another critics group, this time the San Francisco Film Critics Circle. The film picked up nine nominations. A distant second was "Boyhood" with six. Most interesting tip of the hat? To Gene Jones, nominated for Best Supporting Actor in "The Sacrament."
I love the roving European Film Awards. They're held in a different city every other year, often touching base in Berlin in between. This time around, the Latvian capital of Riga was the scene, where "Ida" took top honors for European film of the year. No surprise, really, as the film led the way with nominations and won four other prizes besides, including Best Director. Timothy Spall ("Mr. Turner") and Marion Cotillard ("Two Days, One Night") took top acting honors.
"Foxcatcher" was a pretty arduous ordeal, according to screenwriters E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman. It was something that only existed in the head of director Bennett Miller, who saw potent drama in the story of John du Pont and the wrestling brothers Schultz, Dave and Mark, but couldn't quite intimate what that was. Frye started chiseling away first, and latter Futterman came on to do more work. The result is a film that resonates on every level, the hard work clearly having paid off.
In a very open Oscar race for Best Original Score, Marco Beltrami's compositions for Tommy Lee Jones' western "The Homesman" may well find themselves in the final five. He has earned two previous nominations somewhat unexpectedly ("3:10 to Yuma" and "The Hurt Locker") and his latest endeavor very much set the mood of Jones's progressive period piece.
The Broadcast Film Critics Association announces nominees Monday. It will be interesting to see which way they (well, we; I'm a member) go. Unlike the other critics groups that have announced so far, the BFCA — which, it should be pointed out, isn't completely made of critics, a line increasingly blurred — is a vast organization with something like 300 members. So within that, you can get a bead on consensus. Anyway, that's Monday. For now, the organization has announced a number of special awards for the Jan. 15 ceremony.
This year's Best Original Song Oscar race hasn't really achieved much lift-off. Of course, the contenders have been obvious. "Lost Stars" from "Begin Again" may well be the best of them, though "Everything is Awesome" from "The LEGO Movie" certainly has its punch-drunk fans.
If you thought the recent Golden Globes nominations slighted some of the better performances this year, allow the Santa Barbara International Film Festival to shine its spotlight on some of the underdogs (along with a few major contenders we can’t cynically roll our eyes at — they’re just too lovable).
A "weak" year? It's subjective, really. And even then, it can mean a number of things. A weak year for Oscar films? OK, sure. That's just 6,000 people with a certain broad prestige taste, though. A weak year for the nuts and bolts of the trade? I've already argued not. A weak year for box office? I think we've long-proved that's a volatile game of up and down, so who cares? It's just what you like, man. And I liked some stuff.
If you still haven’t seen Steve James’ congenial "Life Itself"... get on that. Along with being a thorough look at film critic Roger Ebert’s life — the good, the bad, and the hilarious — it’s filled with anecdotes from creatives whose lives he touched over the years. A regular on almost every festival circuit, Ebert championed young filmmakers and earned friendships along the way. One such person: Ava DuVernay, who just earned a Best Director Golden Globe-nomination for her film "Selma"
For nearly three-weeks, Sony Pictures has been fortifying security and watching confidential information spill into the cultural conversation after a hacker group calling itself the "Guardians of Peace" broke into the company’s computer systems with chaotic intent. It’s been a weird event to watch from the outside. The leak spawned fun tidbits (the idea that the "Jump Street" franchise may crossover with "Men in Black" sent the Internet into a tizzy) and sour revelations, personal correspondences scrutinized under a microscope. For many, the attack feels harmless — it’s just Hollywood after all! But pulling back to a macro view, the idea that the tap of a few buttons could cripple a major corporation is downright terrifying. What if the info didn’t feel so superfluous? What if criminally obtained knowledge flipped the state of the world forever? Welcome to the scenario revolving around Michael Mann’s new movie "Blackhat." There’s no way to ingest the film’s new trailer without considering the Sony hack. That’s probably a good thing.