With 2014 winding down, HitFix has been dabbling in all corners of the "year-in-review" game. Hopefully you've enjoyed the trip down recent memory lane. Now it's time for a thorough assessment of the year in film performances, and for a 12-month stretch marked in some quarters as "weak," there sure was a lot of stand-out work in front of the camera.
We haven't done one of these in a while, as the Oscar season has continued to take hold and staggered releases have made it a little difficult to suss out just how available some of these films might be to a wider audience. But obviously "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" has been blasted out globally, and I imagine there are some opinions on it locked and loaded.
When producer John Lesher first told me way back in June that "Birdman" was a bit of a "magic trick" designed to look like a single take, my jaw dropped. How had I not heard about this? "We're not really talking about it too much," he said at the time, a few months ahead of the film's Venice film festival debut. Which is fair enough. You don't want the technique to overshadow the experience of the film.
But then again, the technique of "Birdman" is the experience. It's the thematic soul of its very existence. So naturally, I was dying to talk to cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki ("Chivo") once the season got underway. Only problem: he was stuck in Calgary shooting Alejandro González Iñárritu's follow-up, "The Revenant," a production that runs through April. What???
The Nevada Film Critics Society has come along and added another film to the critics/precursor Best Picture hat — David Fincher's "Gone Girl" — bringing the number of films that have received top honors so far this year up to eight. "Nightcrawler" helmer Dan Gilroy won Best Director while Jakye Gyllenhaal and Rosamund Pike took top acting honors.
Don't call it a comeback, "The Grand Budapest Hotel" has been here since, um, March.
I guess the Florida Film Critics Circle really wanted their picks represented in the awards coverage space, seeing as I was pinged twice about it on Twitter today. I hardly see what the rush is, though, as it's more of the same. Kudos to them for picking the best film of the year and all, but as usual, we're getting to the point where these regional critics groups need to stop smelling each other's farts a bit and branch out if possible. At least this crowd got a bit adventurous in the foreign film category.
It seemed this year that if any artist was due for the retrospective treatment, it was "Unbroken" cinematographer Roger Deakins. While I of course did not address all of the 50-plus films he has shot throughout his illustrious career during a recent extended interview, I settled on a few in particular that I think represent a nice cross-section of his work. Each of them — "Nineteen Eighty-Four," "Sid and Nancy," "Barton Fink," "The Shawshank Redemption," "Kundun," "The Man Who Wasn't There" and "The Village" — will get their own space in the next few days.
Friday morning, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced its Foreign Language Film short list for the 87th Academy Awards. Out of 83 films, nine made the cut, with familiar titles like "Ida" and "Force Majeure" making the cut, along with Golden Globe-amplified "Tangerines" slipping in over expected contenders.
"Do you ever think you’ve seen things or done things that you wish you hadn’t?" goes the new trailer for "American Sniper." For those who haven’t, the two-minute sizzle reel is happy to oblige.
For those who thought the Hollywood Film Awards were a bit too virtuous, PEOPLE Magazine decided 2014 was the year to throw a hat into the awards ring, conjuring its own set of accolades to hand out during a star-studded gala event. Thursday night, the winners of the first annual The PEOPLE Magazine Awards were announced during a two-hour NBC special hosted by Nick Cannon. Completely comprised of talent-based honors, Jennifer Aniston took home the show’s Movie Performance of the Year — Actress award for her work in "Cake," while Michael Keaton earned the Male equivalent for his turn in "Birdman." Hey, PEOPLE is following the awards circuit!