The legendary actor speaks from the set of 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey'
WELLINGTON, NZ – After almost a year and a half of shooting two, er, now three “Hobbit” films, no one would fault Sir Ian McKellen for being a tad bored. That’s a long time to work on any movie or spend away from home (granted there were two long breaks). The 73-year-old acting icon has ventured to the set of “The Hobbit” this May day to spend what was supposed to just be 20 minutes talking to visiting press, but it soon became clear McKellen was excited to have a live audience again. 20 minutes soon turned into something closer to 40.
Also: Lana Wachowski talks transgenderism, and 'Silver Linings' vs. 'Smashed'
As our recent top 10 list of her best work made clear, we love Nicole Kidman. So it's no surprise that my pick of yesterday's internet action is this fascinating piece the Oscar-winning actress wrote for The Hollywood Reporter, reflecting on the making "Eyes Wide Shut" with Stanley Kubrick. In it, she touches on her personal discovery of Kubrick's work, her affectionate, admiring relationship with a director that she refused to glorify and her closeness to Tom Cruise during filming -- despite media suspicions that the film wrecked their marriage. She writes: "Stanley wanted to use our marriage as a supposed reality... He used the movie as provocation, pretending it was our sex life -- which we weren't oblivious to, but obviously it wasn't us." Essential reading: more of this kind of thing, please. [THR]
What counts as a 'studio movie' in the Oscar race these days?
“It's really... commercial,” a friend remarked to me as we left yesterday's screening of “Silver Linings Playbook,” a press-and-BAFTA mixer that was as warmly received as its buoyant Toronto debut had promised it would be. He said it with a hint of distaste, and he's not the only one resistant to its unapologetically Audience Award-y charms -- there are those who believe that a film dealing with tricky variations of mental illness and familial damage should perhaps make itself harder to like. Or just a little harder, period.
For my part, I joined the majority faction of those beguiled by the film. I delighted in the same free-jazz trick David O. Russell pulled so deftly with “The Fighter” two years ago: injecting tried-and-true narrative formula with agitated sociable energy, leaving the whole scrappier and more abrasive than most Hollywood journeymen would given the same script. It's a crowdpleaser that's at once comforting and unfamiliar as it hits its romantic comedy marks, giving its two superb leads plenty of space to see each other as emotional chaos slowly finds its way to order.
The actor is more prolific than ever
NEW YORK -- It's not like John Goodman hasn't been working consistently enough for a couple of decades, but the last two years have shown a stunning proliferation by anyone's measure. Last year he was featured in two eventual Best Picture nominees -- the Oscar-winning "The Artist" and Stephen Daldry's "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" -- as well as a recurring role on TV's "Community."
This year he's following that up with roles in a trio of awards season hopefuls ("Argo," "Flight" and "Trouble with the Curve") as well as some voice work in Henry Selick's "ParaNorman," while 2013 will bring the antagonist of "The Hangover: Part III," some more voice work in the much-anticipated Pixar sequel "Monsters University" and his fifth collaboration with the Coen brothers ("Inside Llewyn Davis").
How wide open is the category this year?
Now it's time for the supporting ladies. The actresses who usually steal the movie out from under their leading lady or gentleman co-stars. And unlike the past few years, 2012 seems to be something of a wide open race at the moment.
Also: James Cameron to return to earth, and Seth Macfarlane's Oscar chances
In case you'd never noticed, Quentin Tarantino makes pretty snappily dressed movies. From the monochrome suits of "Reservoir Dogs" to the Bride's mustard tracksuit in "Kill Bill," the man knows the iconic power of a garment. The Academy's costume branch has never shared his taste -- not even, surprisingly enough, when he went all period on their asses in "Inglourious Basterds." Chris Laverty wonders if the jazzy-looking "Django Unchained" wardrobe, designed by former nominee Sharen Davis, could finally break their resistance: he touches on her research for the project, and the relevance of the film's narrowly pre-Civil War setting. [Clothes On Film]
A Best Picture nod would make the star a nominee in six different categories
On a slow news day for awards pundits, my mind got to wandering -- as is the rather tragic wont of awards pundits' minds -- to matters of trivia and statistics. When a colleague asked me to provide him with a list of the 2012 Oscar nominees that can, even at this early stage, be set in stone, one of the few titles I could comfortably jot down for inclusion, of course, was "Argo." Its current, widely perceived status as the Best Picture frontrunner isn't unassailable, but there are no grounds on which one can doubt its nomination: critically and commercially proven, popular in the industry, with no weaknesses in sight, it's officially in the black, as it were.
That means Ben Affleck can add at least one nomination -- well, with Best Director, almost certainly two -- to an Oscar record sheet that has remained unmarked since his joint screenplay win for "Good Will Hunting" 15 years ago. Win or lose, it's a happy turn of events for a career many thought was headed for punchline status a decade ago. But he's not the only major Hollywood star for whom an "Argo" nod would represent a milestone: some guy called George Clooney stands to make history with the film.
Also: GKIDS starts the campaign, and are pundits overestimating 'Lincoln?'
On the one hand, it's totally unseemly and self-serving to put one's own article at the top of the daily roundup. On the other hand -- well, there is no other hand, but I'm doing it anyway. With "Skyfall" hitting UK screens on Friday, I donned my Guardian columnist hat to look into at the film's layered, long-haul promotional campaign, which combines stripped-down marketing materials -- posters focusing chiefly on the 007 brand, scarcely mentioning the A-list names involved -- with a relentless assault of brand placements and tie-ins, ranging from Heineken to Tom Ford to the Queen. (You tell me she isn't a brand.) The approach has box office pundits expecting the biggest-ever global gross for a Bond effort -- will it pay off with audiences? [The Guardian]
The documentary awards will be presented on December 7
The International Documentary Association Awards may be commonly labelled a precursor in the doc Oscar race, though that's not strictly the case -- as an independent-minded group, they frequently follow a very different path to the Academy's documentary branch. Last year, for example, their top prizewinner "Nostalgia for the Light" didn't crack the Academy's longlist, while eventual Oscar winner "Undefeated" wasn't tapped by the IDA. Would that more race saw this kind of divergence of opinion.
All of which is to say that the IDA's nominations, announced this morning, aren't any kind of harbinger of Oscar glory, though some high-profile films made the cut in their top category, including "Searching for Sugar Man" (which caught Kris's fancy in the summer) "Queen of Versailles" and "Central Park Five" (which I reviewed out of the LFF last week).
Kudos will be dished the same day as the Oscar nominations announcement
After a number of years partnered with VH1 for its annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards, the first televised film awards show of the season, the Broadcast Film Critics Association has announced that the 18th annual telecast will be broadcast on The CW network.
Also included in the announcement is the now-official date of January 10, 2013 for the show, which, yes, is the same day as the Oscar nominations. So there ought to be some interesting, awkward heartbreak on the red carpet for the inevitable BFCA nominees who were shafted by the Academy. This is the first time the awards are being held after the Oscar nominations announcement.