As the year ticks to a close, the Central Ohio Film Critics Association has collectively spoken up with its list of nominees, and "12 Years a Slave" led the way with nine mentions. "Her" was a few steps behind with seven. Actors recognized for superlative bodies of work in 2013 include Amy Adams, Benedict Cumberbatch and Jennifer Lawrence. Check out the full list of nominees below and remember to keep track of all the ups and downs of the season via The Circuit.
This has been an exceptional year for a certain breed of acting, I've found. There has been a wave of unaffected work, eschewing capital "A" acting for a certain lived-in thing that is rare enough as it is, let alone prevalent throughout a year's greatest performances.
I wanted to pay some tribute to that, and to a number of more outwardly vibrant portraits this year that also go toward making it an exemplary year. It has been said a few times that 2013 has been a great year for movies, but that quality is owed in no small part to the work we saw on the screen.
Sound mixers Skip Lievsay and Peter Kurland on bringing the sonic world of 'Inside Llewyn Davis' to life
Nearly three decades ago, two young Minnesotans named Joel and Ethan Coen went down to Texas to shoot a film called "Blood Simple." It was their first feature. And to use a cliché, "the rest is history." But they were not the only artists making their debuts on that film who would later go on to become staples in the American film industry. Actress Frances McDormand, sound designer Lee Orloff, cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld, composer Carter Burwell, sound editor Skip Lievsay and boom operator Peter Kurland also cut their teeth on "Blood Simple."
Lievsay, now sound re-recording mixer and supervising sound editor, and Kurland, now production sound mixer, have worked with the Coens on every feature film the siblings have made since then, the most recent of which, "Inside Llewyn Davis," is a sound showcase.
Talking with Thelma Schoonmaker recently, it became quickly apparent that I wasn't even going to scratch the surface of her career's work with Martin Scorsese in a single piece. I couldn't help but play the retrospective game with her, and while I of course didn't address all 19 feature collaborations, I was curious about six films in particular that I think represent a nice cross-section of their work together. Each of them — "Who's That Knocking At My Door," "Raging Bull," "The Last Temptation of Christ," "Goodfellas," "Bringing Out the Dead" and "The Departed" — has received its own space in the last few days.
There's been much talk about how this stands to be a banner year for black-themed film and black artists at the Oscars -- though how much does that reflect any kind of industry upswing? Not enough, writes John Horn: "A few weeks of feel-good inclusion can't alter the more troubling fact that opportunities for people of color remain scarce and that, for all of the Academy Award interest these directors and actors are receiving, Hollywood ultimately will judge their value using the only yardstick it believes matters: box-office performance." He goes on to list the hard facts and stats that need improving on the racial and gender front; not to kill the holiday mood, but a good read. [LA Times]
"Nebraska" star Bruce Dern has said the same thing all season when the conversation has inevitably turned to his personal history as an actor: "I knew if you wanted to be an actor, you had to do three things. You had to go to New York, you had to try to get into the Actors Studio, and you had to work for Mr. Kazan."
He pulled all that off and tomorrow he gets a bit of a homecoming as he and daughter Laura will be appearing on Bravo's "Inside the Actors Studio" with James Lipton. The episode will air at 7pm ET/PT.
He kept us waiting, but it's finally heeeeeere: for a time, it seemed that Martin Scorsese's long, crazed trip through the stock-market hedonism of the 80s and early 90s might not manage a 2013 release at all, but it's now in theaters as the year's most deliciously inappropriate Christmas gift. It was such a late arrival that I still haven't got a bead on the critical consensus, though it already has a number of fiercely devoted admirers -- including HitFix's Drew McWeeny, while you can read Kris's early reaction here.
I'm still sorting out my feelings about it: it's certainly a frenzied blast of energy, and I was more stimulated than I was by Scorsese's last two films. At the same time, however, I wasn't left with much when the circus was over: its moral stance, such as it is, is laid out early on, leaving us jogging furiously in place for three hours. Largely the point, no doubt, but still. Anyway, we're curious to know how you land on this one: share your thoughts here, and vote in the poll below.
Thelma Schoonmaker recalls the heated controversy and moving testament of 'The Last Temptation of Christ'
Talking with Thelma Schoonmaker recently, it became quickly apparent that I wasn't even going to scratch the surface of her career's work with Martin Scorsese in a single piece. I couldn't help but play the retrospective game with her, and while I of course didn't address all 19 feature collaborations, I was curious about six films in particular that I think represent a nice cross-section of their work together. Each of them — "Who's That Knocking At My Door," "Raging Bull," "The Last Temptation of Christ," "Goodfellas," "Bringing Out the Dead" and "The Departed" — will get its own space in the next few days.
Every year, there's at least one major holiday release that I don't get round to before, well, the holidays -- or, in my case, January -- and Ben Stiller's "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" is that film this year. (I'll get to it, for sure; "Zoolander" loyalty dies hard.) A lot of my more cynically inclined colleagues would tell me that I passed on the right one: after having Oscar buzz for about a minute and landing a prestigious New York Film Festival slot, the romantic fantasy has landed pretty softly with critics -- not that Stiller has ever made films for them anyway. In any event, it looks like audiences will be more charmed by its whimsy: are any of you checking it out this Christmas? Share your thoughts here if so, and be sure to vote in the poll below.
And then there were 10. Yesterday, I counted down my first 15 favorites of the year -- though to be honest, it was a list that could significantly have changed, both in selections and arrangement, from one day to the next. My top 10 has felt a little firmer to me for some time, but that's not because these films particularly belong in a league above the rest. Rather, as I mentioned in my intro yesterday, it's the shape and synthesis of this collective that feels satisfying to me -- disparate as the choices may be, they're unified in my mind by threads both obvious (the list is bookended by the two faces of a single star, for starters) and less immediately apparent until the films are placed side by side.
Taken together, the list might say more about me than it does about the year in film -- which is how I prefer it. It was a very good year, by agreement, though as festivals keep mushrooming, while methods and means of global distribution keep expanding, no one viewer's 12 months at the movies looks quite like another's.