No one needs awards coverage this deep
How does anyone on the outside even begin to crack this field?
I honestly can't wait to talk to Matthew McConaughey again this year. We sat down at Sundance to discuss Jeff Nichols' "Mud" in some detail, but I'm ready to really dig in on what has driven the actor to such a profound turnaround in his career. It's been covered in fits and starts and superficial flourishes by the media, but I'm ready to get serious. It's fascinating to me.
We've been keyed into the "McConaissance," as it were, for quite some time. Over a year ago we were pondering 2012 as a watershed year for the actor, noting the kinds of talent he was working with: Nichols on "Mud" (which premiered at Cannes in 2012), William Friedkin on "Killer Joe," Steve Soderbergh on "Magic Mike," Lee Daniels on "The Paperboy," Richard Linklater on "Bernie," etc. When you're trying to turn your career around, the first thing you do is sign up to work with a different breed of filmmaker.
This year, "Mud" has finally arrived and become one of the most critically acclaimed films of the year. McConaughey has landed the lead role in Christopher Nolan's next big blockbuster, "Interstellar." Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street" is still to come, the trailer for HBO's "True Detective" promises an intriguing transition to television for the actor and, oh, that Oscar buzz we were expecting to accompany his performance in Jean-Marc Vallée's "Dallas Buyers Club?" It's here.
Indie distributor is wheelin' and dealin' early in the fall fest circuit
The funny thing about Jonathan Glazer's "Under the Skin" is that we pretty much called it. Okay, not in print, but Greg Ellwood and I were talking to A24 publicity at the Telluride Film Festival last week and he put it bluntly: "So, you'll be picking up 'Under the Skin,'" he said. "It's an A24 film if there ever was one." And so it is.
I'm glad A24 is out there grabbing titles like this, films that challenge even in the indie vein and might not be attractive buys in the current market for the companies that might have grabbed them in the past. And mostly, I'm just excited I'll definitely be able to see Glazer's latest, which I kept missing at Telluride and again missed at an LA screening after the fest (it's been playing Toronto this week).
Greg called the film a "near-masterpiece" at Telluride, noting that "Glazer has created a conversation piece that will be talked about long after the blockbusters of this year and next have come and gone." He gave high marks to Scarlett Johansson for her performance as well. Guy, meanwhile, called it "the riskiest, most extravagantly sensual and image-fuelled film in Competition at Venice."
Where do we currently stand in this wide-open category?
While in Venice, I lost track somewhat of the submissions process for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar -- and at this stage, with the deadline for entries only a few weeks away, turning your back on the process for even a few days means you feel significantly behind. Last time I checked in, five films had been submitted; today, by my count, the number has gone up to 22. I've gathered them all on the category's Contenders page for your reference, and even done some preliminary ranking based on the entries so far; expect considerable movement there as new films join the race. As always, inside tips and insights from our international readers are most welcome, so don't be shy.
Plus: He shares his adoration for cinematographer Roger Deakins
TORONTO - One of the more intense scenes in Denis Villeneuve well respected new thriller "Prisoners" features stars Hugh Jackman, Terrence Howard and Paul Dano. And it's a visceral, cinematic moment you'll likely remember the rest of the year.
It's a comedy, it's a dramedy, it's a mental health movie and more
TORONTO - Matthew Weiner has proven himself to be an incredible writer and director on the small screen. He's earned critical acclaim and numerous awards for his landmark series "Mad Men." On Saturday afternoon, Weiner unveiled his screenwriting and feature directorial debut at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival with the dramedy "You Are Here." It was not his finest two hours.
A watershed moment for the increasingly noisy awards beat?
Boy was there a wealth of topics to write about this week. I could have dug in on an extremely crowded Best Actor race that already features 12 or 13 performances that have actually been seen (with a handful that could be real threats still to come). I could have done a typical roundup of awards prospects for films that dropped in Toronto over the weekend. I could have commented on the amount of quality we've already seen and how, so far, it's looking like 2013 could be one of the great film years.
But then I saw this Vulture piece, and something I had been fending off as mere inside baseball bitching suddenly stuck in my craw. So let's get this business out of the way at the top so we can enjoy the season.
John Carney's 'Once' follow-up sparked an all-night auction
It's safe to say HitFix's Drew McWeeny was a big fan of John Carney's "Can a Song Save Your Life?," which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival yesterday. "It should not come as any surprise that John Carney, who wrote and directed 'Once,' has made another great film that focuses on songwriters and the way their lives influence their work, and I love that it doesn't feel like he's just trying to reproduce that movie's charms," Drew wrote in his review. "It's the sort of movie that I feel protective of right away, because it's delicate. It's not trying to be a giant megablockbuster that opens on 3000 screens. It is heartfelt and deeply human, and it means every word it says."
A number of distributors must feel similarly (or see the potential for audiences to feel similarly) about the film, which stars Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo: an all-night auction eventually led to The Weinstein Company securing exclusive talks to acquire it. Deadline is reporting that the film will be picked up for $7 million minimum for US rights with a $20 million P&A (prints and advertising) commitment.
Bertolucci's jury clearly set out to provoke, but 'Sacro GRA' is a respectable winner
VENICE - "I have a feeling Bertolucci's going to be a bit spikier than that," a colleague said to me yesterday, after I ventured my not-at-all confident prediction that Hayao Miyazaki's romantic animated biopic "The Wind Rises" would win the Golden Lion. To some extent, actually, we agreed. This year's Bertolucci-led jury didn't exactly seem likely to hand the top prize to the comfortingly middlebrow "Philomena," however much the crowds at Venice wanted them to: with other jurors including Andrea Arnold, Pablo Larrain and Carrie Fisher, it was hard to tell just what they'd agree on, but the odds were firmly stacked against it being safe.
Which one is now the frontrunner for Oscar?
TORONTO - As is often the case during the first weekend of the Toronto International Film Festival, two potential awards season contenders debuted within hours of each other Saturday night. In fact, "Dallas Buyers Club" and "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" premiered in theaters literally across the street from one another. And, happily, both have something to add to our long road to Oscar.
The film is set for release next year
The Toronto Film Festival is in full swing and HitFix's Greg Ellwood have chimed in on a number of films, from "Dallas Buyers Club" to "Enough Said," while a handful of Telluride players -- "12 Years a Slave," "Labor Day," "Gravity" (also Venice) have landed as well.
One of the films Greg has been high on is Jason Bateman's directorial debut, "Bad Words." Praising Bateman's transition to feature director (he's been directing television for years), Greg wrote that the film "will make many wonder if some of [Bateman's] recent flicks might have actually been even better if he'd been behind the camera instead of just in front of it." Indeed, with misses like "The Change-Up" and "Identity Thief" as of late, Bateman could certainly use a smash.
Focus Features will be aiming to turn "Bad Words" into just that as the studio acquired the film earlier this morning. Written by Andrew Dodge (and a Black List entry in 2011), it be released worldwide by Focus in 2014.