There are no big surprises in this morning's list of Art Directors Guild nominees -- though I guess leaving "Oz the Great and Powerful" out of the Fantasy category is an unexpected display of good taste. All the expected Oscar contenders for Best Production Design showed up in one of the Guild's three categories, notably the Period field, where Judy Becker's lurid 70s decor for "American Hustle," Catherine Martin's Jazz Age excess for "The Great Gatsby" and Adam Stockhausen's tangibly weathered plantation sets for "12 Years a Slave" will presumably duke it out for the win. (Nice, too, to see Jess Gonchor's gorgeously faded recreation of early-60s New York in "Inside Llewyn Davis" make the cut.)
They may not be as sexy as the main Academy Awards ceremony -- something the Academy effectively acknowledges by annually selecting the hottest ingenue available to host the evening -- but the Scientific and Technical Awards Presentation honors any number of worthy artists who contribute invaluably to our movie-watching pleasure. This year 52 individuals, covering 19 technical achievements, have been named as honorees, including cinematographer and VFX supervisor Peter W. Anderson, the recipient of this year's honorary Gordon E. Sawyer Award. (His credits range from "The China Syndrome" to "U2 3D.") The awards will be presented on February 15. [Deadline]
We're still a week away from the Oscar nominations and haven't so much as a clue how large this year's Best Picture category will be, yet the race already seems comfortably pared down to three films. That's not a complaint. Three plausible Best Picture contenders is more than we're given in many an Oscar year, even at the pre-nomination stage; I'm just happy in years when there appears to be a race at all. And I'm particularly happy with this one, given that the films in question -- "12 Years a Slave," "Gravity" and "American Hustle," if you haven't got the memo yet -- make for such a vibrant and disparate trifecta.
Meryl Streep won't be getting on the Walt Disney bandwagon this awards season.
While presenting the best actress award to "Saving Mr. Banks" star Emma Thompson (for her portrayal of "Mary Poppins" author P.L. Travers) at Tuesday night's National Board of Review awards gala, the actress railed against the "gender bigotry" and "racist proclivities" harbored by Disney (played in the film by Tom Hanks) while overseeing the studio that bears his name.
Hard to believe we're just a week away from the Sundance Film Festival -- I'm still getting to grips with the vast lineup. And it's now one film larger: music-themed documentary "Lambert & Stamp" has been added to the Documentary Premieres section, bringing the total number of feature titles at the fest to a round 120.
The Academy has unveiled the official poster for the upcoming 86th annual Academy Awards. Front and center is Oscars host Ellen DeGeneres, who will be tackling emcee duties for the second time on March 2. Check it out below and remember to tune in next Thursday for the announcement of this year's nominees!
If you were counting on the American Society of Cinematographers for pointers in predicting next week's Oscar nominations in the category, you're out of luck. Thanks to a three-way tie, this year's ASC slate features an unusual seven nominees, making for a pleasingly diverse field with one or two semi-surprises.
The Costume Designers Guild has become, if I'm not mistaken, the first below-the-line guild to reveal its 2013 nominees -- and a number of the season's most ubiquitous titles are once more in the mix. "American Hustle" extends its perfect Guild record thus far with a nomination in the period category for Michael Wikinson's extravagantly kitsch 70s threads, where it'll compete against the more muted wardrobe of fellow Best Picture frontrunner "12 Years a Slave." (Yes, we know the latter wasn't eligible for the WGA Award and, in effect, has an unblemished guild record too. No need to remind us.)
Well, this is a new one on me -- though the Screenwriters' Choice Awards are apparently in their second year. The name is, perhaps, slightly misleading: winners are determined by the worldwide users of Final Draft screenwriting software, though the nominees are drawn up by a panel of working screenwriters. We're not exactly talking a rival to the WGA here, but there's no harm in drawing more attention to the craft.
Another day, another "open letter." Closed letters are under-appreciated, as are, you know, articles. Still, Martin Scorsese's open letter to his daughter Francesca -- effectively an excuse for him to wax lyrical about the current (and future) state of film -- is coming from a good place, and a welcome corrective to all those "cinema is dead" thinkpieces that surface on an annual basis: "I don’t want to repeat what has been said and written by so many others before me, about all the changes in the business, and I’m heartened by the exceptions to the overall trend in moviemaking – Wes Anderson, Richard Linklater, David Fincher, Alexander Payne, the Coen Brothers, James Gray and Paul Thomas Anderson are all managing to get pictures made, and Paul not only got The Master made in 70mm, he even got it shown that way in a few cities. Anyone who cares about cinema should be thankful." [Espresso]