From 'Foreign Correspondent' to 'The Birds' and everything in between
With HBO's "The Girl" hitting the small screen recently and Sacha Gervasi's "Hitchcock" due in theaters this week, and with Universal's big boxed set of most of Alfred Hitchcock's great works on shelves, it seems that most identifiable of rotund maestros of the cinema is en vogue. But what has always been fascinating about "Hitch" for Oscar watchers is that, despite his legendary status -- "the premiere image-maker of the 20th century," as author Mark Cousins called him -- the man never won a competitive Oscar.
It really does seem like Oscar's big miss. Stanley Kubrick is a big deal -- my favorite filmmaker -- but there's something really strange about a guy like Hitchcock, who certainly never dallied in inaccessible realms, having never received his due. Sure, a mid-career work won Best Picture, and he received the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award from the Academy in 1968, but Best Director eluded him throughout. As did the DGA prize, in fact (though the guild saw fit to bestow lifetime achievement recognition the very same year he received the Thalberg).
Also: THR's Actress Roundtable, and 'The Hobbit' faces a PETA problem
It's been 15 years since Anthony Hopkins was last in the Oscar hunt, and even with Best Actor buzz brewing around his performance in "Hitchcock," he's in no hurry to get back on the campaign trail. Though he's not as impolite as Joaquin Phoenix recently was about the institution itself, he doesn't mince words when speaking about the "disgusting" process of industry glad-handing in pursuit of a nomination: "Kissing the backside of the authorities that can make or break it... It makes me want to throw up, it really does. It's sick-making. I've seen it so many times. I saw it fairly recently, last year. Some great producer-mogul and everyone kisses this guy's backside. I think, 'What are they doing? Don't they have any self respect?' I wanted to say, 'Fuck off.'" [Huffington Post]
Will she break through in the Best Actress race?
I've been kind of waiting to see how J.A. Bayona's "The Impossible" will fare with Academy and guild voters. The film hit first at Toronto. I saw it just before that and loved it. It felt, to me, like a sure-fire Oscar play. But will it find room in the bait-infested waters of December?
An award for star Naomi Watts will sure give it some higher wattage going into the holidays, and that's just what the Palm Springs International Film Festival has done. Watts will receive the Desert Palm Achievement Award at the 24th annual fest, an award that, in recent years, has gone to Michelle Williams, Natalie Portman, Marion Cotillard, Anne Hathaway, Charlize Theron, Kate Winslet and Halle Berry in recent years.
She's more concerned with getting attention for the movie than winning an Oscar
In a recent Long Shot column, I wrote about the shabby treatment typically given by awards pundits and voters alike to the Best Actress category, a race routinely described as "weak" due to the scarcity of major female-propelled prestige titles -- despite the abundance of outstanding work on the independent, genre and foreign fringes. One of the names I highlighted as unlikely to receive the attention they deserve was Linda Cardellini, whose measured, quietly aching performance as a returning war vet in Liza Johnson's microbudget debut feature "Return" went largely unseen on its release back in February.
I'm not the only one who believes the film and the actress, still arguably best-known for her TV work in "Freaks and Geeks" and "ER," deserve a second look. Over the weekend, the LA Times reported that Cardellini herself is launching a self-financed awards campaign for herself and for the film, mailing screeners to all 2200 members of the Screen Actors' Guild nominating committee, as well as to the actors', directors' and 'producers' branches of the Academy. More power to her, I say.
She praises the "extraordinary emotional depth" of McGregor's performance
LONDON - You may remember that two years ago, Julia Roberts attracted some attention in awards-watching circles when she held a private industry screening of "Biutiful" in aid of Javier Bardem's Best Actor campaign -- not because she was in any way involved or invested, but simply because she believed the performance was worthy of recognition, and wanted more of her colleagues to see it. We'll never know how much of an influence Roberts' efforts had, but together with the attached publicity, they certainly didn't hurt: Bardem came from behind to score a nomination for a challenging, little-seen foreign film, and in a competitive category to boot.
This trend of peers effectively campaigning for each other looks set to continue, and we had this season's first instance of it last night at London's Soho Hotel, where Oscar-winner Angelina Jolie hosted an intimate reception and screening of "The Impossible" -- chiefly to talk up the performance of her friend Ewan McGregor. (Before you hit IMDb to jog your memory: no, they've never worked together.) I was lucky enough to be in attendance.
A quartet of Oscar-winning filmmakers hold out on the season
I mentioned this on the podcast Friday and in a column recently, I think, but the lull has been considerable this year, it seems. The waiting for late-season contenders, I mean. It's subjective. Maybe I'm just coming from a weird perspective. But enough of it has to do with the four big remaining entries -- "Django Unchained," "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," "Les Misérables" and "Zero Dark Thirty" -- having been watched like a hawk as they race toward completion.
There has been this and that in the interim. Since the New York Film Festival dropped "Flight," "Life of Pi" and "Lincoln" onto the season we've gotten "Hitchcock" (which I liked), "This is 40" (Judd Apatow's richest work) and "Promised Land" (which has been shown a few times -- I'm seeing it today). But mostly it's been anticipation for what the aforementioned quartet will have to offer the season.
Also: Playing down the 'Skyfall' Oscar buzz, and a look at the doc feature race
We all know genre films don't usually get the respect they deserve from the Academy, and the same goes for the actors in them: when pressed for options, voters will nominate a Sigourney Weaver in "Aliens," but they're generally more comfortable filling out the ballot with sundry biopics and prestige dramas. Geoff Berkshire wishes that would change this year, citing Liam Neeson in "The Grey," Mark Ruffalo in "The Avengers" and Christopher Walken in "Seven Psychopaths" as examples of actors who "elevated the material" with their performances. (Perhaps the problem lies in the perception that genre material even needs elevation?) I'd throw Elizabeth Olsen in "Silent House," Javier Bardem in "Skyfall" and assorted supporting players in "Killing Them Softly" into the mix -- how about you? [The Vote]
Plus: Interviews with Aaron Johnson, Domhnall Gleeson, Jude Law and Matthew Macfadyen
LOS ANGELES - Last Thursday, "Twilight" fans everywhere were anxiously getting ready to take their final bite of Bella, Jacob and Edward. And, as we soon discovered, history fans across the country were scouring to see if "Lincoln" was playing in a multiplex close by. I, on the other hand, ended up revisiting one of this season's expected awards season players, "Anna Karenina."
Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Biel, Helen Mirren and Toni Collette bring the starpower
Fox Searchlight had a strange predicament on its hands. How do you hold a U.S. premiere for a movie when your leading man - the actor who plays the title character of the picture no less - is an ocean away? Thankfully for the mini-major, the director and producers of "Hitchock" found a supporting cast with prestige credentials and paparazzi appeal.
With Anthony Hopkins in London, the New York premiere for "Hitchcock" featured the film's co-lead, Dame Helen Mirren, "Avenger" Scarlett Johansson, Toni "shouldn't I have another Oscar nomination by now?" Collette and Jessica "she's more talented than she gets credit for" Biel. And yes, James D'Arcy and director Sacha Gervasi were there too, but this special screening surpassed the world premiere at AFI Film Fest earlier this month because there were actual stars in the house.
And when you're opening on the Friday after Thanksgiving in 16 theaters a little attention from the press ain't such a bad thing. Check out the talented ladies in the gallery embedded in this post or read my AFI review here.
Are you looking forward to seeing "Hitchcock"? Do you think Hopkins and Mirren have a shot at nominations? Share your thoughts below.
Joe Wright's Leo Tolstoy adaptation rolls out this weekend
- Critic's Rating B+
- Readers' Rating C
Also opening in limited release this weekend is Joe Wright's "Anna Karenina." I was personally quite taken with the film, which is boldly realized and a cinematic flourish that hopefully doesn't get forgotten as the awards season forges on. Guy was a bit less impressed when the film opened in the UK a few months back, but found it "adventurous" all the same. But let's hear what you have to say. Offer up your thoughts in the comments section below when/if you catch the film over the next few weeks. And as always, feel free to rate it above.