We talk to the Boston and Los Angeles critics' choice for Best Actress
Admittedly, it's not an entirely unprompted statement. She's merely responding to my opening greeting, in which I mention how sorry I was to hear of her recent ill health – words which immediately draw a good-natured but puzzled laugh. “I'm sorry, illness?” she asks over the phone, via a translator, from her home in Paris. “I don't know what you mean.”
Nervous that I've kicked off an eagerly-awaited interview with an immediate faux pas, I sheepishly explain that her absence at the previous weekend's European Film Awards in Malta – where she was a popular winner of the Best Actress prize – had been explained by the presenter as the result of flu season. Happily, Riva cheerfully confirms, there must have been a misunderstanding. “I'm perfectly fine,” she says. “I was just tired. I've been doing interviews since Cannes!”
The actress is aiming for her fourth Oscar nod this season
Though the category remains highly flexible, Amy Adams's position in the Best Supporting Actress race had been looking the tiniest bit precarious until recently. Though critically beloved, "The Master" is clearly not a consensus favorite, while her excellent work in it risks getting sidelined -- not just because of her more prominently featured male co-stars, but because the chilly tenor of her performance as a slyly controlling kewpie-doll wife doesn't invite the same emotional response as some of her chief rivals.
Things are looking up, though. A win from the Los Angeles critics, who came through for "The Master" in a big way, is a major boost, and today it was announced that Adams will receive the Cinema Vanguard Award at next month's Santa Barbara International Film Festival -- which, like Palm Springs, is a useful stop on the Oscar campaign trail.
Helen Hunt gets chalked up as a lead
The San Diego Film Critics Society also dropped its nominees over the weekend and, well, they flew under my radar. But here they are, and "The Master" led the way with nine nominations. Not far behind was "Argo" with eight. "Django Unchained' picked up five while "Zero Dark Thirty" only managed four. "Silver Linings Playbook" rounded out the Best Film nominees with six nominations. Check out the full list of nominees below and keep track of the 2012-2013 film awards season via The Circuit.
'Les Misérables' also had a strong showing in the nominations
The Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association announced its list of nominees for the 2012 film awards season yesterday. Had no idea. Then winners today. A little too quick a turnaround, folks. Anyway, no surprise that Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" led the field with eight nominations. Tom Hooper's "Les Misérables" wasn't far behind with seven. But it was "Zero Dark Thirty" that took the wins for Best Picture and Best Director. It wouldn't be too crazy to expect a number of these categories to match up perfectly with Oscar. Check out the full list of nominees and winners (***) below, and remember to keep track of the 2012-2013 film awards season via The Circuit.
The usual collection of studio and indie fare
Adding another announcement to the stack this week is the American Film Institute. Remember, the Institute's annual list of the year's best films is limited to American cinema, so you won't see efforts like "Amour" or "Skyfall" pop up. Nevertheless, I think plenty of great American cinema is often avoided by this list in favor of the most obvious mixture of studio and indie fare.
Last year, for instance, standard awards-hunt comedies like "Bridesmaids" and "Midnight in Paris" that were threatening inclusion in the Best Picture field at the time made the cut, as well as those which clearly weren't, like Clint Eastwood's "J. Edgar."
Be sure to circle back on Friday for the podcast where Anne and I will reveal our own top 10s for the year. For all my snarkiness about this lot's list, I'd be dishonest if I didn't admit a fair share of them made my own collective.
Check out the full AFI list below.
The BSFC- and LAFCA-winning editor's busy year could yield a pair of Oscar nods
Duck into any number of industry -- and likely public -- screenings of Ben Affleck's "Argo" in the final moments of the film, and you're sure to hear a big burst of applause. It happens at the same moment every time: CIA agent Tony Mendez (Affleck) peers out the window of a plane he and six American embassy workers have boarded to flee Iran under the guise of a film crew as a number of soldiers wise to their plans at the last minute chase the flight down. The plane gains momentum then it's wheels up and, after a tense moment, clarity sets: they got away.
It's fair to attribute that burst of applause to the release of tension. The nail-biting final sequence of the film builds to a crescendo and is expertly assembled to play on that tension. But for editor William Goldenberg, with those kinds of sequences, you have to remain focused on the characters.
"That’s what I try to keep in my mind when I’m cutting it," Goldenberg says. "You’re trying to put the audience in the head of these people and not just make it about the event but the story of each person and what they’re going through, always keeping it personal. And luckily for me, the actors were all so good at being in the moment, being terrified but being under control at the same time. It made for great editing opportunities.
Also: Mark Harris on 'Zero Dark Thirty,' and Tarantino on 'Django' slavery
Bradley Cooper has seemed very much a touch-and-go prospect in a crowded Best Actor field, but the scales slowly seem to be tipping in his favor. In contrast to the perennially ingenue-friendly Best Actress race, youngish Hollywood dreamboats can struggle to win over Academy voters, particularly for romantic and/or comic leads, so Cooper's superb work in "Silver Linings Playbook" is at a disadvantage in several ways. But after last week's unexpected win with the National Board of Review, Cooper has also landed the Desert Palm Award for Achievement in Acting at the Palm Springs Film Festival. He's the first male acting honoree announced for this publicity-heavy Oscar-season pitstop: Sally Field, Helen Hunt, Naomi Watts and the "Argo" ensemble are also getting a boost there. The list of recent Desert Palm winners includes Colin Firth, Jeff Bridges and Daniel Day-Lewis, which doesn't hurt Cooper's Oscar voodoo any. [PSIFF]
Is 'Django' a lock for a best picture nomination?
Isn't this fun? The race for best picture continues to surprise at each turn. Outside of "Amour's" win with the LAFCA contingent Sunday, "Zero Dark Thirty" has emerged as the critics favorite winning NYFCC, Boston Society of Film Critics and the National Board of Review (among others). So far, the other presumed best picture frontrunners "Les Miserables," "Lincoln" and "Argo" have had to make due with just acting, directing or screenwriting honors. Of course, all this will change beginning Wednesday when SAG pipes in for its yearly honors and on Thursday when the HFPA hopes to influence something (most entertainment industry executives will tell you its ticket sales and Emmy voters). We're in the thick of it and pronouncements about the fates of contenders are being made left and right. Taking that into account, it seems appropriate to review some of these repeated refrains and determine whether or not they have any basis in reality.
Acting wins for Olivia Colman and Andrea Riseborough, 'Best Exotic' shut out
The British Independent Film Awards are known for surprises, and true to form, they sprung a last-minute one at tonight's ceremony. As I'd anticipated, Peter Strickland's critically beloved horror homage "Berberian Sound Studio" enjoyed a great haul, taking Best Director, Best Actor for Toby Jones and two extra prizes for production and technical achievement. But just as it seemed set to take the night, they swung left, handing the top prize to "Broken," the debut feature from acclaimed theater director Rufus Norris -- an unexpected choice both because it received mixed reviews upon its Cannes premiere, and won't be released until the spring in the UK. The film won in only one other category, for Best Supporting Actor.
'Zero Dark Thirty' finally hits the brakes
Over a week after their colleagues on the east coast went in big for Kathryn Bigelow's "Zero Dark Thirty," the Los Angeles Film Critics Association put the brakes on Kathryn Bigelow's film, which has been dominating the circuit. It even won two Best Picture prizes today, but one of them was not LAFCA's crown. Instead, the LA critics went with Michael Haneke's "Amour," and as a runner-up, a film clearly beloved by the group that won four other prizes, including Best Director, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress.
Check out the full list of winners below with running commentary.