One day or one weekend and you're in
As Heidi Klum is fond of saying on "Project Runway," "One day you're in, the next day you're out." That pretty much sums up the pros and cons of a potential awards player set on debuting at a public festival. Unlike a traditional release which usually has the early reviews staggered, a festival provides instant reaction thanks to the internet age. So far, a number of films have played the festival game smoothly this season. "Argo" and "Silver Linings Playbook" got big boosts from the Telluride/Toronto game. "Lincoln" and "Flight" found fans at the New York Film Festival. Last week, "Hitchcock" opened AFI Film Fest in LA with Oscar buzz for stars Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren, but not so much for the film itself.
The proud father got to collaborate with his daughter on her biggest passion
Legendary documentarian Ken Burns wants to make sure the spotlight isn't too focused on him this time around. The fact is, the story of Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana Jr. and Kharey Wise -- the "Central Park Five," as they have come to be known -- had galvanized his daughter, Sarah, while she was in college. It was her passion, through school studies and a published book that spawned the film in the first place. The two serve as co-directors on the new film "The Central Park Five" along with Sarah's husband, David McMahon.
Also: Hollywood under Obama, and 'Skyfall' still storming Britain
Not much news out there that isn't focused on the vastly gratifying result of yesterday's election: well done, America. But to switch gears to movie matters, are you among those totally psyched for the new frame-rate technology set to be showcased in "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey?" Hard luck if you are, since it's been announced that just 450 theaters across the US will be screening the film in the 48-frames-per-second format -- a little over one-tenth of the likely screen count. Hardly a surprising turn of events after the largely tepid response to the 48fps footage screened at Comic-Con: while some advocates claimed to be seeing the future of cinema, many others found the future of cinema looked too much like hi-def TV for their liking. Will you be seeking it out in the new format? [LA Times]
Frequent collaborator Chris Newman will receive Career Ahievement award
Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme has been tapped by the Cinema Audio Society for special recognition this year. The helmer of such films as "The Silence of the Lambs," "Philadelphia" and "The Manchurian Candidate" remake will receive the organization's Filmmaker Award at the 49th annual celebration.
Yesterday's BIFA haul bodes well for multiple BAFTA nods
Beyond the smallish circle of UK-based critics and industry folk, yesterday's British Independent Film Awards didn't attract much attention -- which is hardly surprising, given what a quiet year it's been for British film. Heavily-nominated titles like "Berberian Sound Studio" and "Sightseers," excellent as they are, aren't of much interest to awards-watchers with an eye only on Oscar possibilities -- of which the BIFA list presented very few.
Crossover nominee "The Imposter" is certainly one to watch in the documentary Oscar race, especially given the new voting system's emphasis on higher-profile theatrical releases. But the nominee we seem likeliest to hear more of in major categories through the rest of season is also the one that took BIFA observers most by surprise: John Madden's "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel."
Also: Budweiser wants out of 'Flight,' and the many film faces of Lincoln
Well, given what's going on out there, it'd seem inappropriate to lead with news of some minor precursor award announcement or random pre-release bumf for "The Hobbit" -- it's Election Day, and that weighs as heavily on Hollywood's mind as anyone else's. Variety Ted Johnson breaks down the implications for the film and entertainment industry of an Obama or a Romney victory, which could have a significant impact on issues ranging from piracy to censorship to same-sex marriage, and also examines the California propositions, some of them with starry cheerleaders, pertinent to showbiz folk. Good luck, America. Do the right thing. [Variety]
Could he break that 0-9 streak at the Oscars with some of his best work yet?
For a producer of such lush and exquisite work, cinematographer Roger Deakins is often a man of select words. Thoughtful, yes, but never of a mind to over-think it.
Responsible for some of the most stunning images on film in our age -- "Kundun," "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" and "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford," to barely scratch the surface -- he shook the landscape of his field a bit two years ago when he went digital for Andrew Niccol's "In Time." And this year he's back in the form with "Skyfall," the first James Bond installment to eschew celluloid for the progression of digital filmmaking.
"Right now I don’t see a reason to go back and shoot film," Deakins says. "And probably if I leave it much longer then I won’t have the opportunity, because it just won’t exist anyway."
Also: Haneke speaks reluctantly, and 'Wreck-It Ralph' for Best Pic?
The box-office headlines from the weekend have understandably been dominated by "Wreck-It Ralph," whose healthy opening gross (the highest ever for a Disney animated effort) helps its chances in a crowded Oscar race. But the runner-up on the chart, "Flight," made no less noteworthy a debut, taking just over $25m, despite a relatively modest release in 1884 theaters. That puts it roughly on pace with the last Denzel Washington starrer "Safe House," which took $40m from a wider release, though "Flight" has considerably more room to build. It's also considerably outpaced the $13m gross box office pundits predicted for the film, and nearly recouped its tidy $31m budget. Paramount distribution head Don Harris reckons the film's adult target market will be more in the mood for going to the movies once the presidential election and Hurricane Sandy are behind them. [Reuters]
Elle Fanning, Meryl Streep and Judi Dench nab acting nods
Last year, the British Independent Film Awards -- the UK industry's answer to the Spirit Awards, though the chasm between independent and studio product here is a narrower one -- made the most of a banner year for British cinema, with citations aplenty for "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," "We Need to Talk About Kevin," "Shame," "Tyrannosaur," "Weekend," "Kill List" and the like.
2012 has been a bit less bountiful, and that's reflected in a slate of BIFA nods that reads a tad repetitively, with a small handful of films dominating the list. "Broken," a debut feature from acclaimed theater director Rufus Norris that was rather indifferently received at Cannes in the spring, leads the field with eight nominations, while "Berberian Sound Studio," "Sightseers" and "The Imposter" are close behind with seven apiece. Lest that field strike some as a little too niche, meanwhile, crossover smash "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" holds up the more mainstream end of the independent spectrum, nabbing five nominations, including Best Film -- a showing that bodes well for its BAFTA chances in a few months' time.
And 'Flight' makes a big move
Hurricane Sandy is still sadly the focus of the Northeast (as well as that of family and friends from those areas affected) and the 2012 election is finally coming to a merciful end Tuesday. And what that really means is we're about to enter eight weeks of very intense Academy campaigning. Technically, contenders have been holding screenings and Q&As from Los Angeles to San Francisco to New York (although it's been tough the past week) for months. Beginning Thursday, the always awards-friendly AFI Fest began and the pressure cooker got a wee bit busier. With that in mind, here's a snapshot of one pundit's busy award season weekend.