If you look here and there on the web these days, you might notice that more than a few outlets are now cooking up their own "top 10 shots of the year" pieces. Here we are in our seventh year of producing such a collective, but imitation is flattery, and frankly, I'm glad others have caught on to the idea. Singular images and the thematic impact they make are as subjective as anything else we end up praising at the end of a given year, so having separate takes on the matter is only a good thing.
Hugh Jackman's stint as Oscars host remains one of the best, largely because he was part of an overall show with an amazing vision from director Bill Condon and producer Laurence Mark. That came after a few impressive stints emceeing the annual Tony Awards, including one such Emmy-winning example in 2004.
He hasn't hosted the show in nearly a decade but it's just been announced he'll be back for a fourth time at the 68th annual Tony Awards on Sunday, June 8, 2014.
When Pharrell Williams was confirmed last week to perform his Oscar-nominated "Despicable Me 2" track "Happy" at the Academy Awards, there was no doubt that this news would follow in short order. Yes, Idina Menzel will be performing "Frozen's" anthemic power ballad "Let It Go" on the show too.
I think most would agree that the Oscar season has felt especially long this year -- how did we tolerate it running to late March for seven years? With BAFTA winners the only new information we're likely to receive in the next three weeks, it's time when the conversation can really pall, and mountains get made out of molehills. Mark Harris refers to the questioning of Cate Blanchett's Best Actress chances following the reignition of the Woody Allen scandal as an example of this souring. But it's not all bad, he says: "The biggest fights about 2014’s Oscar contenders have not been about their aesthetics but about their politics and morality ... I’m going to raise my half-full glass and give a mild cheer for the fact that they’re happening at all." As always, a good read. [Grantland]
BEVERLY HILLS — It's been a much different awards season for Sandra Bullock than when she won her first Oscar a little less than four years ago. She became the frontrunner after that year's Golden Globes and you could sort of tell the pressure got to her toward the end (not that she wasn't her always down-to-earth, affable self). This year, Cate Blanchett has been in the driver's seat for most of the season and if Bullock won it would be something of an upset. Still, the blockbuster star shows no signs of abandoning ship. There is a joy in how she lovingly and energetically discusses director Alfonso Cuarón and "Gravity," unarguably the best film she's ever starred in.
On Monday, she joined many of her fellow nominees at the annual Oscar luncheon. She didn't have to make a quick trip to the press room, but discussing "Gravity" has clearly never been a chore for Bullock. At one point she was asked about whether it was difficult to trust Cuarón on such a risky endeavor. Her response speaks volumes.
BEVERLY HILLS — Jonah Hill loves Martin Scorsese. Not only did the master filmmaker guide him to his second Academy Award nomination for "The Wolf of Wall Street," but Hill was so eager to work with him he did it for scale. And considering "Wolf" had a budget of $100 million-plus, the actor might want to reconsider his representation.
Hill took a few minutes Monday during the annual Oscar Nominees Luncheon to speak to the press about his Best Supporting Actor honor and he showered Scorsese with love.
BERLIN - To briefly compare two comedies that have no obvious points of comparison whatsoever, "A Long Way Down" gets precisely one thing right that "M*A*S*H" does not: suicide is not painless. Not for viewers of the former, at any rate, as each mirthless minute of Pascal Chaumeil's wretched suicide-club farce prompts a fresh and previously unfamiliar grimace; rarely has such a comic premise been so exhaustively milked, as if to perversely prove its breathtaking lack of potential. "Still not laughing? Good. Now, try this cerebral palsy joke!"
Monday brought yet another Oscars nominee luncheon and, more importantly, a class photo of the nominees for the 86th Academy Awards.
While a number of famous faces including Jennifer Lawrence, Judi Dench, Michael Fassbender and Chiwetel Ejiofor were unavailable to attend the soiree still attracted a who's who of Hollywood star power. Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep, Christian Bale, Matthew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams and more had fun talking to their idols and peers at the annual Beverly Hilton bash. Oh, and some famous musical faces showed up too including this year's Grammy king Pharrell Williams and the one and only Bono.
Final voting for the 86th Academy Awards is just four days away, but Monday allowed this year's nominees one more stress-free event before it all gets "oh, so serious" again. For the public at large, the annual Oscar Nominees Luncheon is a celebration of the honorees as they all crowd into one room to take the "Class of" photo. It's also a huge press opportunity where the contenders can subtly communicate their final pitches in hopes that a stray Academy member will read it or hear about it on TV.
"Lone Survivor" sound editor Wylie Stateman picked up his seventh Oscar nomination to date last month, though despite wonderful work in films like "Cliffhanger," "Inglourious Basterds" and "Django Unchained," he's yet to win an Academy Award.