Unless you were holding out hope that "A Madea Christmas" or "47 Ronin" would make an impact on the Oscar race, it's fair to say all the cards are on the table. "American Hustle" was shown to guilds and press last weekend and has been screening in earnest ever since. "The Wolf of Wall Street" was shown to guilds and HFPA over the last two days with further press screenings set for later this week. All the cats are out of the bag, and just in time, too. Because the critics are about to have their say.
FINAL UPDATE: After this, I'm done with it...as long as Ms. Van Blaricom is. The following is the last of an email exchange we had with the IPA president following her side of the story appearing in a report at Gold Derby (subsequently amended to further support our initial report):
"Much to my dismay, Mr. O’Neil misquoted my discussion with him. The International Press Academy members, who could attend the SAG-AFTRA Film Society 'The Wolf of Wall Street' screenings, did so, and subsequently submitted their votes for the film, resulting in enough votes for the film to be nominated."
This email was also sent to The Wrap following Steve Pond's coverage of the story. Pond conveyed O'Neil's response thusly:
"O’Neil told TheWrap that he did not misquote Van Blaricom, and that he 'took careful notes' while she twice repeated the specific numbers about how many IPA members attended the screenings."
Van Blaricom is now claiming to the studio that she saw the Sunday screening, not the Saturday screening, where she originally said she and 26 of her colleagues were in attendance.
You can make up your own mind, but we're done here. Read the rest below.
It was Universal's "Despicable Me 2" leading the way today with 11 nominations for the 41st annual Annie Awards. But Disney's "Frozen" — not far behind with 10 mentions — received nominations for Best Animated Feature, Best Direction and Best Writing. It's sure to dominate the scene this season en route to a likely Best Animated Feature Film Oscar win.
One of the great achievements of the year is Emmanuel Lubezki's lensing of Alfonso Cuarón's "Gravity," which it would seem has all but locked up his first Oscar win for Best Cinematography to date. His work in the film, which the uneducated will dismiss as limited due to the amount of CGI on display (failing to understand his invaluable place in that process), is a work of technical prowess and thematic potency.
On that last point, I recently spoke to Lubezki about some of the specific frames and fluid shots he and Cuarón crafted in the film. Perhaps you'll be reading those quotes later in the year as part of our annual "Top 10 Shots of the Year" column, but what struck me while discussing one image in particular was how much his thematic view of "Gravity" matches up with another film he made recently, from another master of the form.
Since its Cannes premiere, Alexander Payne's "Nebraska" has more or less divided critics into two camps: those who accept it as a wry but essentially loving study of small-town manners and mores in the director's home state, and those who see it as something rather more patronizing and misanthropic than that. (I'm in the latter camp.) Steven Zeitchik goes to Norfolk, Nebraska -- where much of the film was shot -- and finds residents there similarly mixed on its merits. Many are approving: one enthuses that "now the world will get to see" the divisions that exist in their society. Another, however, voices reservations about what he sees as the film's use of unfavourable stereotypes. Payne's response? "People want to say it's condescending? Let them say that. This is my love letter to the state of Nebraska." [LA Times]
It's been quite the somber season in some ways: slavery and racial tension, piracy and health care, dementia-addled fathers and embittered folk crooners. Even the year's biggest spectacle achievement, Alfonso Cuarón's "Gravity," ultimately takes its weightless heroine to weighty moments of emotion and catharsis (not that we're complaining). It almost feels like what the 2013 film awards season needs is a nice prestige-level dose of the outrageous, something bonkers, something to take the edge off. And Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street" is here to answer the call.
The film isn't set to screen for the press at large for another week, but this weekend it began making its way through guild screenings, where plus ones and crossover memberships with critics and the film commentariat are just unavoidable. So it was Saturday afternoon that I made my way to the first of two SAG screenings of this absolutely unrepentant entry (hopefully that caveat saves the studio some disgruntled phone calls — over 100 people were turned away from the two screenings, which were filled to the brim). Stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Rob Reiner, Cristina Milioti, Jon Favreau, P.J. Byrne and Kenneth Choi were on hand to discuss working with a master filmmaker and the life and times of a man, Jordan Belfort, who by anyone's measure should probably be dead by now.
Less eccentric than the Cahiers du Cinema list, and more representative than the awards of individual critics’ groups, the annual Sight & Sound poll is about the best monitor of international critical consensus at the year’s end – recent winners include David Fincher’s “The Social Network,” Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life” and Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master." But if those choices were easily seen coming, the 100-odd critics surveyed this year have thrown a collective curveball: Sight & Sound’s top film of 2013 is “The Act of Killing.”
We've reached a critical phase of the season, Oscar watchers. We're not talking about the shortened shopping season or families reuniting across the country for the holidays. No, Hollywood is heading into the high season. A time when we stop talking about who's going to get a nomination and who's going to actually win.
It's hard to believe that the Coen Bros.' "Inside Llewyn Davis" debuted at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival over six months ago. Now, after numerous festival screenings and events, its theatrical release is finally around the corner. Sure, it won't be anywhere near nationwide yet, but Coens fans will take it.
It is a cruel rule of thumb that extraordinary lives rarely make for extraordinary films. The more densely storied the personal narrative of its subject, the harder it is for dutiful screenwriters to resist tackling it whole, checking off every compelling accomplishment in thorough, linear fashion, even if such orderly diligence comes at the expense of more time-consuming character nuance. Critics have taken to calling this approach – not inaccurately – the “Wikipedia biopic,” though of course it dates back to the dustiest days of 1930s studio prestige drama, while Richard Attenborough effectively rebranded the genre in his own name decades later with the nobly dreary likes of “Young Winston” and “Gandhi.”