A lot has happened to further set the stage for this year's Oscar race in the last week and a half. AFI Fest ultimately landed four major world premieres — "A Most Violent Year," "The Gambler," "Selma" and "American Sniper." Film Independent at LACMA added "Big Eyes" to the equation. "Unbroken" premiered in Sydney just hours ago as a show of appreciation (the film was largely shot in Australia) while screening to some press stateside (the big coming out will be Thanksgiving weekend). And the awards shows themselves have already started, namely the Governors Awards and the summarily dismissed Hollywood Film Awards. I suppose it's time to see where we stand…
The Santa Barbara International Film Festival announced today that Steve Carell is the recipient of this year's Outstanding Performer of the Year Award for his work in Bennett Miller's "Foxcatcher." The news comes right on the heels of the film's Thursday night AFI Fest premiere and theatrical release this weekend.
Chadwick Boseman is looking at me with a huge grin on his face.
On the one hand, the "Get on Up" star is no doubt in a great mood after being celebrated by well-wishers for his performance as the legendary James Brown in last summer's well-received biopic. The late love is thanks to Universal Pictures, who has organized a Sunday brunch at SoHo House West Hollywood to help remind voters about Boseman's critically acclaimed portrayal. Director Tate Taylor ("The Help"), producer Brian Grazer and co-star Craig Robinson are all on hand, but Boseman is the center of the attention.
It should have been bad. It should have been terrible. A live broadcast of the Hollywood Film Awards with Queen "People's Choice" Latifah as host? A network spotlight on the most fake awards show of them all? Even with low expectations, how could talent go on stage and pick up these, cough, "awards" in front of a national audience? An award given to them because they were available to show up and their studios lobbied for it? (At least fans vote for some of the Teen Choice Awards!) Well, watch out Critics Choice Awards because CBS and Dick Clark Productions figured out a way to fashion a much more entertaining two hours than you've delivered the past few years.
It's the awards show that isn't really an awards show, but that didn't stop almost every major contender in town for stopping by to pick up their awards or present one to someone else. Yes, the 2014 Hollywood Film Awards brought out some big names, even if we'll all forget this event happened tomorrow.
Director Bennett Miller has waited for "Foxcatcher" to hit theaters longer than you might have thought. He was actually hoping to shoot the film before 2011's "Moneyball," but got sidetracked stepping in for Steven Soderbergh on what eventually became a Best Picture-nominated smash. In fact, "Foxcatcher" has been in the works for so long that it was actually the first project Annapurna Pictures was prepared to fund before they found success with such films as "The Master" and "Zero Dark Thirty." After earning critical acclaim at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, Miller has had to wait another six months for his passion project to finally hit theaters. Which brings us to today.
Have to hand it to Eddie Redmayne: The man gave himself over to the role of Stephen Hawking in "Theory of Everything." Watching a new behind-the-scenes video, this is something of an objective fact. From choreographing Hawking’s degrading motor skills to the delicate makeup that would stunt his facial expressions ever so slightly to the demands of a non-linear shooting schedule, jumping from able to disabled in under an hour — well, it sounds like a workout. And we thought pilates were tough.
Among all working directors, few can rival Wes Anderson's reputation for set design. From the eccentric home of "The Royal Tenenbaums" to the maritime world of "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou" to the subtle 1960s environment of "Moonrise Kingdom," he works with his production designers to create memorable color palettes and designs that are of the utmost importance in telling the story.
In 2009, the Internet went crazy over a rumor that Neil Patrick Harris would play The Flash in a big screen "Justice League" movie. That didn’t happen — Ezra Miller got the job and Harris settled with voicing the character in a direct-to-dvd animated film. But now it’s looking like "Gone Girl" costar could finally get a superheroic boost from the team behind CW’s "The Flash." They’ll be feeding Harris his lines when he takes on hosting duties for the 87th Academy Awards.
With major studio premieres scattered throughout its programming, AFI Fest has become more of an Oscar-campaign launching pad than a sprawling movie smorgasbord. Luckily, that’s where the festival’s own awards come in handy, rewarding narrative and documentary films without the built-in anticipation factor that keeps eyes glued to the screening schedule. With a bump from AFI, this year’s winners are already among 2015’s most prestigious offerings.