Like a number of films from 2013, many of them nominated in one or both of the Academy's sound categories — "All is Lost," "Inside Llewyn Davis," "Lone Survivor" — what the audience hears is crucial to the overall experience of the film. And that was never more the case this year than with Alfonso Cuarón's "Gravity." But when your goal is authenticity in orbit, how do you come at the problem laid out by the tagline for Ridley Scott's 1979 horror film "Alien": "In space, no one can hear you scream," or do anything, really.
Historian Alex von Tunzelmann considers this year's fact-based Oscar contenders, and argues there's more to effective cinema than mere historical accuracy: "There is extraordinary power in the moving image. Many of us will know that 'Braveheart' (1995) is tosh when we watch it, but years later bits of it may have taken root in our imaginations – and we don't always remember that they emanated from that great steaming heap of lies." She also evaluates seven of this year's Oscar nominees: "12 Years a Slave" passes with flying colors as both history and cinema, but she argues that the factual fidelity of "The Wolf of Wall Street" "undermines its own claim to be satire." [The Guardian]
The César Award nominations always provide an interesting perspective of how French cinema is perceived domestically -- which doesn't always match the view from the outside. This year's list, for example, feature multiple nominations for such international festival hits as Abdellatif Kechiche's "Blue is the Warmest Color," Alain Guiraudie's "Stranger by the Lake" and Asghar Farhadi's "The Past" -- all nominated for Best Picture and Director -- but the leading nominee, with 10 bids, was actor-turned-director Guillaume Gallienne's debut feature "Me, Myself and Mum."
It's unusual that at least two of this year's Best Picture Oscar nominees -- "Philomena" and "Dallas Buyers Club" -- deal with gay or transgender identity, even if neither film has a wholly LGBT protagonist. Both, naturally, are among the films singled out for recognition in the GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Defiance Against Defamation) Media Awards, Joining them, unsurprisingly, were "Blue is the Warmest Color" and "Kill Your Darlings," though "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones" isn't exactly an obvious call. ("Frozen" would fit the bill too, though they haven't gone there.)
On Jan. 16, cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel picked up his fourth Best Cinematography Oscar nomination to date, for the Coen brothers' "Inside Llewyn Davis." He has previously been nominated for "Amelie" in 2001, "A Very Long Engagement" in 2004 (for which he won the American Society of Cinematographers Award) and "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" in 2009.
Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto have earned an enormous amount of acclaim for their performances in "Dallas Buyers Club," which has put them at the front of their Oscar races. But their work was of course assisted by the Oscar-nominated makeup and hairstyling of Robin Mathews and Adruitha Lee, allowing them to slip further into their characters and fully inhabit the roles of Ron Woodroof and Rayon.
If your a fan of cinema and, more importantly, a fan of the art of cinema than you need to get excited about Jonathan Glazer's "Under the Skin."
When "The Great Gatsby" led the nominations for the Australian Academy Awards (aka the AACTA Awards), that seemed obvious enough, but I didn't expect to see it win outside the technical categories. "Moulin Rouge!" was also heavily nominated in its year ("Australia" less so), but voters preferred more locally flavored work in the top categories, and I assumed that'd be the case this year. Not so: "Gatsby" just about swept the night, winning all but one of the 14 awards for which it was nominated, including Best Film, Director and acting prizes for Leonardo DiCaprio, Joel Edgerton and striking newcomer Elizabeth Debicki. (Carey Mulligan was the lone loser, passed over in Best Actress for Rose Byrne.)
Just as Bruce Broughton has been punished by the Academy for his questionable campaign tactics, Vulture has chimed in with a detailed timeline of strategies employed by the master of Academy manipulation, Harvey Weinstein -- not all of them strictly by the Oscar playbook. Take this anecdote about Weinstein's 1996 campaign for Billy Bob Thornton in "Sling Blade": "John Ericson, a retired actor who lives in Santa Fe, N.M., said he was called several times recently by a representative from the studio. In the first call, this person asked Mr. Ericson if he had received Sling Blade and urged him to watch it. A few days later, the representative called back to gauge Mr. Ericson's reaction ... 'He said: "Didn't you think he was wonderful? I hope it will be something worthy of a nomination,"' Mr. Ericson recalled." [Vulture]
Updated (11:06 PM): Bruce Broughton and his wife responded to the controversy on their Facebook pages tonight.