Also: Gearing up for AFI Fest, and is 'Cloud Atlas' still a Best Pic player?
I have to say, Joaquin Phoenix deserves the Oscar for his interviews alone this season -- whether he likes it or not, he's swiftly shaping up as the most compelling human figure in this year's awards race, and I'm increasingly thinking his sheer unfiltered bolshiness could be more of a help than a hindrance to his reluctant Best Actor campaign. His latest refreshing dose of candor comes in a UK broadsheet interview, and is perhaps more endearing than his headline-making anti-awards rant. The choice quote: "I think the trouble is I'm not very good and I need a lot of help; I need the entire set to be working to help me." Keep going, sir. [The Independent]
A varied field of filmmakers makes the push for Oscar recognition this year
Moving right along through the season's major Oscar categories, we come today to the Best Director field. A wide and varied field of contenders is represented, from intimate dramas to CGI blockbusters and everything in between.
is it just a three-way race?
"Is it over yet?"
Usually, that's a common refrain you hear during awards season at the beginning of February after countless pseudo awards shows, screenings, cocktail parties, interviews and film festivals. Instead, it seems to be the nation's collective mindset about the upcoming presidential election. Since the conventions at the end of August, the nation's attention has been distracted or bombarded by election coverage, debates and commercials. And while few of the latter even air in Los Angeles, the movie industry is spending just as much time checking the latest poll results as a soccer mom in Kansas might be. Compound the last few months with three highly rated debates and 72 hours of Hurricane Sandy coverage (and concern) and you'll understand why it sort of feels like this year's Oscar race has been in a bit of a holding pattern.
Should the annual December glut of prestige fare be discouraged?
Spot question: What do the last seven winners of the Best Picture Oscar all have in common? Chances are you won't find many narrative, practical or technical common points between the lot of them, but there is this: none of them were first released Stateside in December. Yes, “The Artist” and “The King's Speech” only narrowly count by virtue of their limited Thanksgiving releases, but the point is that they, too, got in just ahead of the traditional Christmastime glut of prestige fare that has become inseparable from Oscar season.
In every year since the last-minute sneak attack by “Million Dollar Baby” in the 2004 season, the overstuffed Christmas stocking that is the December release calendar has produced contenders and nominees aplenty – as well as the high-profile misfires that are an equally inevitable part of the season. But when it comes to actually choosing their favorite of favorites, the Academy has recently proved that its collective memory can extend at least a little beyond the eggnog fog.
The production designer of Wes Anderson's latest details the experience
After serving as production designer Mark Friedberg's art director on 2007's "The Darjeeling Limited," Adam Stockhausen went on to design a number of commercials for director Wes Anderson over the last five years. In that time, the relationship strengthened and Anderson eventually tapped him to design his latest feature, "Moonrise Kingdom," and all the New England quirks and Boy Scout flourishes that would come with it.
Also: Celebrating 2012's risk-takers, and the greatest horror films ever
While I was sleeping last night, Twitter apparently melted down over the announcement that Disney has bought up Lucasfilm, an acquisition about which movie geeks and business brains alike have very strong feelings. I don't, but when I absorbed the news that a new "Star Wars" film will be coming down the pike in 2015 -- sans George Lucas, but still -- I was forced to conclude that this hasn't been much of a week for good news. Anyway, Drew McWeeny is both more informed and more invested than I, and offers his view of the situation, while Drew, Kris and Greg serve up a list of 10 things to look out for in the wake of the deal, from the theme park-ification of Skywalker Ranch to "Star Wars" for preschoolers. What joy. [Motion Captured]
Is he 2012's Ryan Gosling?
BEVERLY HILLS - Is last year's Ryan Gosling this year's Joseph Gordon-Levitt? The "Inception" star has been on a tear in 2012 with four films hitting theaters within five months. Gordon-Levitt became the new hope for Batman in "The Dark Knight Rises"; a bicycle messenger in the surprisingly well reviewed "Premium Rush"; a younger Bruce Willis in the hit Sci-Fi thriller "Looper"; and now he has a key supporting role in Steven Spielberg's new potential Oscar player "Lincoln."
The director and star stop by audience-free late night in New York
With writer John Gatins and star John Goodman in the air leaving Savannah after film festival tributes there, Paramount had the highlights of its "Flight" crew -- Robert Zemeckis and Denzel Washington -- back in New York Monday to promote the film, which releases Friday. Zemeckis was set to appear on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" while Washington was all set for "The Late Show with David Letterman." Then Hurricane Sandy came a'knockin'.
We're not quite done with 2011's awards contenders yet
Thought you'd seen "The Artist" win its last award? Think again. The Casting Society of America pretty much partied like it was 2011 at last night's Artios Awards -- the premier honor for casting directors in the industry, given the absence of an Oscar category for the discipline. (That absence is often lamented, but let's be honest -- the average Academy member knows even less about casting than he does about sound editing.)
Anyway, while a scattering of early 2012 releases -- "The Hunger Games," "21 Jump Street," "Friends With Kids" -- had cracked the nominee list, the CSA was all about the awards contenders of 2011 when it came to choosing the winners. "The Help" took the prize in the Big-Budget Feature: Drama category, which is hardly surprising, given the number of ensemble awards (culminating in SAG's top honor) the film took down last season.
'There are no atheists in foxholes or at 30,000 feet.'
NEW YORK – The day after John Gatins graduated Vassar in 1990 he got into a car and drove to California to be an actor. He was already having borderline "Whip-like issues," he says, referencing Whip Whitaker, the alcoholic airline pilot Denzel Washington plays in "Flight." Part of the decision was an attempt to leave those problems behind a little bit. So, naturally, he became a bartender.