Watching your life flash before your eyes on the big screen can't be easy. It can be even more emotional if you're watching it in person on set. Cheryl Strayed can now join that select club.
It's sort of a bummer to me that the two films at the forefront of this year's Best Documentary Oscar race — Laura Poitros' "CITIZENFOUR" and Steve James' "Life Itself," each of which I like just fine — can't really hold a candle to some of the very best films in contention, whether "The Overnighters" (my favorite), "Tales of the Grim Sleeper," "Virunga," etc. Alas, that's how it's shaping up. And that's just, like, my opinion, man.
Nearly all of this year's Grammy nominees have been announced, with album of the year contenders still to be unveiled tonight. Looking at the nominees for visual media — i.e. film and TV stuff — we have a mix of Oscar nominees and winners from last year and potential contenders for this year. Let's take a look…
Friday afternoon, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that 10 films remain in the running in the Visual Effects category for the 87th Oscars. The Academy’s Visual Effects Branch Executive Committee determined the shortlist. If you were a big summer movie or holiday season blockbuster, chances are you made the cut.
Last year we whipped up a list of would-be Oscar contenders that went nowhere, movies that seemed poised for the season but ended up with a big ole' goose egg when the nominations were announced. It's less about pointing and laughing than it is about reminding of the lessons of the past. Hype is conjured by everyone from the agents and studio chiefs who encourage filmmakers with promises of prestige (this happens a lot) to media placing sometimes unwarranted expectations (hi!). There's no "fault" here, just an overall note about perspective.
Politics are all but removed from today’s pop music. If musicians gamble on voicing an opinion in a single, they risk alienating the audience that keeps them afloat. Playing it safe makes them stars. The trepidation is in stark contrast to, say, 1964, when Nina Simone felt assured enough to sing her ferocious protest song "Mississippi Goddam" to a crowd of white Carnegie Hall patrons. Like "Four Women" or "To Be Young, Gifted and Black," "Mississippi Goddam" was jaunty, raw and incriminating. There was nothing quite like it. That is what made Nina Simone a star.
I mention this because John Legend just released "Glory," an original song set to accompany Ava Duvernay's "Selma" as it rolls into theaters this holiday season. And, my word, it has that Nina Simone-patented fire.
A common question from those playing the awards season game the past few weeks has been: "Will this be the year we get fewer than nine Best Picture nominees?" It's not that anyone is rooting for fewer nominees (it's not in their business to), but with so many smaller films vying in the race many are assuming there won't be enough support for nine again. And yet, haven't we heard this before? Well, yes and no.
Critics' year-end lists are beginning to trickle out and that's a good thing for a number of movies vying for your attention. One benefactor may just be Paul Thomas Anderson's "Inherent Vice." The critically acclaimed film (which is almost un-categorizable) also hits Los Angeles and New York on Dec. 12. That might be just enough time to pump up the film's deserved awards season prospects.*
Earlier today Sony streamed a special announcement about the forthcoming James Bond film, revealing not just the new title ("Spectre"), but a list of new cast members, including Dave Bautista, Monica Bellucci, Lea Seydoux and Christoph Waltz. And of course, we broke the news a few weeks ago that "Interstellar" cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema would be stepping into Roger Deakins' shoes behind the camera. Exciting stuff, and a good enough reason, I suppose, to look back through the history of Bond at the Oscars.
The Academy Award for Best Original Score is one of the categories I find most interesting and most frustrating. First, the good: I love the awarding of film music, which can immeasurably improve the experience of a film and can become iconic in its own right. There is also much about the music branch that I love, particularly its international flavor, both in terms of the composers cited and the types of music rewarded. Moreover, while the category tends to favor Best Picture nominees and epic movies, it is not excessively exclusionary in this respect.