Billy Boyd’s performance of “Edge of Night” in “Return of the King” is among the most stirring sequences in Peter Jackson’s original “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. After Denethor (John Noble) requests a ditty, Boyd’s Pippin serenades the king’s court with the memorable, falsetto ballad. Adapted by screenwriter Philippa Boyens from J.R.R. Tolkien’s poem, “A Walking Song,” and scored by composer Howard Shore, Jackson juxtaposes the haunting melody with shots of Faramir (David Wenham) battling over Osgiliath. “Return of the King” won 11 Oscars at the 2004 Academy Awards, “Edge of Night” didn’t earn any love — Best Song honors that year went to another “Lord of the Rings” tune: Annie Lennox’s “Into the West.”
Let's start with a broad assessment that may or may not be true, but can be taken as close enough for the purposes of this column: there are four Best Actor slots spoken for. What are they? Steve Carell in "Foxcatcher," Benedict Cumberbatch in "The Imitation Game," Michael Keaton in "Birdman" and Eddie Redmayne in "The Theory of Everything." Only one of those films, mind you, has opened and screened for the Academy ("Birdman"). But if I were a betting man, I'd say that quartet is secure. So who slides in besides?
BEVERLY HILLS — Fox Searchlight's "Birdman" flew into limited release this weekend with a fantastic $103,750-per-screen average and plenty of Oscar potential. This comes on the heels of a New York press blitz built around a closing night New York Film Festival berth for the film and with the expectation for limited availability from the ensemble and key crew members during the upcoming awards season (and in lieu of a proper Los Angeles premiere, to boot). At the film's official Academy screening Sunday afternoon, Alejandro González Iñárritu's thematically rich, formally inventive opus drew a sizable turnout (800 or so people in the 1,000-seat venue) and a warm reception that seemed to indicate this one will do well with voters.
"Birdman" flies into theaters this weekend, and with it comes one of the year's most finely tuned and vibrant ensembles. Indeed, as wonderful as Michael Keaton is in the leading role, and as much as actors like Edward Norton and Emma Stone stand out on the periphery, one of the unsung stories of the film is how well the cast jumped through the hoops of production, turning out an incredibly organic community performance.
David Ayer's World War II actioner "Fury" with Brad Pitt, Logan Lerman and Shia LaBeouf has arrived in theaters nationwide. The film enters the awards season without bothering with a festival bow (aside from this weekend's post-release closing night London Film Festival slot). It might be an Oscar contender at the end of the day, it might not, but surely Sony is mostly concerned with finding some box office capital before worrying too much about that.
One of the unique fixtures of an opening weekend in Los Angeles, whether it's an art house release or a studio blockbuster, are filmmakers and sometimes stars popping their heads into a theater to see how their baby plays. Well, if you're going to a screening of the new animated feature "The Book of Life" in the Southland this weekend, there's a good chance you might see Jorge R. Gutierrez dropping by your theater.
The conversation around "Birdman" has shifted a little bit since early raves out of the Venice and Telluride film festivals. Maybe as expected, a number of writers are taking umbrage with a certain critic depiction in the film. Some reviews go so far as to read like performance art based on that depiction. Nevertheless, there was always going to be a bend in that road, and I'm fine with that. But I want to talk about something else. I want to talk about how Michael Keaton deserves the Oscar for Best Actor walking away.
After a quiet bow at the Toronto International Film Festival, a distributor is finally coming to the rescue of writer-director Mike Binder's racially charged drama "Black and White." Excuse me, "Black or White," because someone owned the rights to the former and producers couldn't get it cleared. Sharing a title with a Michael Jackson track is easier, apparently.