This is embarrassing.
Not for me, of course. I'm not the one who hit delete on whatever folder led to the desperate phone call I got at 4:30 in the afternoon on Saturday. I'm actually pretty flattered, considering all the time and energy I've spent writing about how much I don't like awards season. See, there's been a catastrophe at Price Waterhouse (1) and the Academy has been scrambling for the last few days to figure out how to handle it (2). Someone must have decided that it is my healthy disdain for the process that made me perfect to help them fix things, and as a result, I have been asked to step in this year and pick every single Academy Award on my own (3).
The weirder part is that they not only lost the winners, but the nominees and the categories, and so I've got to put it all back together. I'm pretty sure I got most of this right, and perhaps in a few cases, I've made slightly different choices than the Academy would have. Perhaps.
You tell me… as today wraps up this year's edition of what increasingly feels like a Bataan Death March… what movies would you like to celebrate today, whether they were nominated or not? Because if that's what today is genuinely supposed to be about, and if the Oscars are just a conversation starter, then what movies from 2012 would you like to celebrate one last time before we all move on to 2013?
This is embarrassing.
Mark Millar and Matthew Vaughn are slowly, surely building a shared filmography that is absolutely positively comic book crazy, and it looks like little by little, they're taking over 20th Century Fox's entire superhero agenda.
When I first talked to Vaughn about Millar's work in the days leading up to his decision to option the rights to "Kick-Ass," it was obvious that Vaughn responded to Millar's storytelling on an almost chemical level. It's not just which stories Millar was telling, but his voice. Vaughn loves to throw a shot to the ribs of propriety whenever he can, and in Millar, he seems to have found a fellow provocateur.
What I respect about Vaughn is the way he's built a very loyal crew that works for him not only when he's directing but also when he's producing. When I was on the set for "Kick-Ass 2," it may have been a Jeff Wadlow film, but I saw the same familiar faces in many of the key technical positions that I've seen on "Stardust" and "Kick-Ass" and "X-Men: First Class." His collaboration with Jane Goldman has been incredibly important to the overall voice of his films, and I would imagine Jane will be part of everything moving forward as long as Hollywood doesn't finally figure out that she's awesome and work her so hard that she's no longer got time to be part of each of Matthew's movies.
If The Mandarin is going to work as the villain in "Iron Man 3," he's going to have to be a fairly radical reinvention of the character that has traditionally appeared in the pages of the Marvel comics. It goes beyond the obvious issue of him being a sort of oddly dated "Yellow Menace" character, and it's more about the fact that villainy in the 21st century looks very different because the world itself has changed.
Ben Kingsley's take on The Mandarin is, before anything else, media-savvy. He's a television terrorist, a guy whose every accessory, whose look and voice and mannerisms are all created, calculated, part of an image that he's trying to project. He is a brilliant tactician, but that's not just about military strength or being able to reach out and, oh, I don't know… blow Tony Stark's house right off the side of the mountain where it sits. His strength comes from his complete lack of fear, his determination to use every single tool available to reshape the world to his will.
If you're a fan of the Hunger Games each year, then you're probably still just as stunned as I was by the way the 74th annual games wrapped up. I'll admit, at first I was upset by the idea that they had thrown out the rules and changed things just to give Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Meelark a happy ending, but the more I've thought about it, the more I think they deserved to win.
After all, the Games are about out-thinking your opponents just as much as it's a physical challenge, and it was just plain strategically brilliant for Katniss to make the move she did. It was the only way either of them was really going to "win," and it forced the Capitol to really decide what they want. Is the point of the Games to crush every player, no matter what, or is it to give us a new hero every year, someone to remind us of the best of what we can be and do? If that's the goal, then this year is the bonus plan, because I think both of these players are worth our admiration.
We here at HitFix are pleased that the Capitol reached out to us to help premiere this Victory Tour poster, and I don't know about you, but when Katniss and Peeta make their stop in my district, I'll definitely turn out to see them live and in person. It's strange… I know they're still part of the system, and nothing has really changed, but there's something about the way they pulled off their win that has given me something akin to real hope for the first time in a long time.
I wonder if that makes President Snow nervous at all. Because it should.
The most surprising thing about Ric Roman Waugh, the co-writer/director of "Snitch," having started his career as a stuntman from a family of stuntmen is that "Snitch" is, for the most part, a drama and not the action movie that the poster and the trailers would want to make you believe it is. That's not really a problem with the film so much as it is a case of misleading marketing. Taken on its own merits, "Snitch" is a solid, small-scale story about what a father is willing to do to help correct an injustice he sees landing on his teenage son after he makes an inexcusably stupid mistake.
Participant Media is one of the production partners on the film, and if you know them as a company, you know that their mandate is making movies that deal in some way with social issues, and I was surprised to see that this is really a movie about how flawed the mandatory minimum sentencing system is in the war on drugs. At the start of the film, Jason Collins (Rafi Gavron) is at home, and a college friend tells him that there's a package coming that he'll need to sign for, a package he'll pick up as soon as he gets home from school. It's a huge shipment of Ecstasy tablets, and when it arrives, he not only signs for it, but he opens it, and right away, the DEA descends on the house. They were ready for him to accept ownership of the package, and they treat Jason as a major drug dealer. Thanks to the amount they caught him with, they've got him on the hook for at least ten years, and they can go as high as thirty years if they choose to. The US Prosecutor on the case is the politically ambitious Joanne Keeghan (Susan Sarandon), and she seems more than happy to throw the book at this dumb kid.
"Social" seems to be the biggest buzzword for the Playstation 4, as it is for pretty much any device that connects in any way to the Internet at this point.
Sony held a major press event tonight in New York to officially premiere the next generation console as well as some of the launch titles that will be available for it. The first one that flabbergasted me was "Driveclub," which is basically a virtual reality racing game that is based around team-based racing, and the racing footage they showed was so remarkable, so close to photo-real, that it really does feel like a jump forward, something I haven't felt from gaming in a while. It's been incremental steps for the last few years, and that's fine. I understand that we live in an age of technical marvels, and I don't take for granted how spectacular something like "Sleeping Dogs," which I just finished playing is, even if gamers in general greeted it with a shrug as a knock-off of "Grand Theft Auto." That may be true, but it's still eye-popping and the game play is mind-blowing considering I remember when "Spy Hunter" was the state of the art.
Okay, now it's getting exciting.
There is no Luke Skywalker but Mark Hamill. At least, that's always been the way I've felt about it. While Harrison Ford is the one who became the giant movie star, what Hamill had going for him was the feeling that he belonged in the world of "Star Wars" completely. Watch him dealing with the mundane details of the world, like doing the maintenance on the droids or seasoning his meal in Yoda's home or any of a million other little things he does that sell it as real. It goes beyond talking about performance for me, and all I can really say is that as a seven or a ten or a thirteen year old kid seeing the "Star Wars" films for the first time, Hamill was a big part of making me completely believe in that universe.
In an interview with "Entertainment Tonight," Hamill compared the announcement that there will be an "Episode VII" to finding a pair of jeans in the closet with a $20 in the pocket. That's probably my favorite reaction to the new "Star Wars" movies so far, and Hamill confirms what Lucas said initially, that he'd already started speaking to the principal cast.
It is vaguely amazing that Seth MacFarlane has become the media titan that he is today, and no matter what you think of his work, you have to give it up to the guy for the way he turned things around.
There was a point, after all, when he was just the guy whose show got canceled not once, but twice. It would have been easy, between 2002 and 2005, to pretty much count MacFarlane out. Now, here we are eight years later, and not only is he hosting the Academy Awards this coming Sunday night, but he's actually nominated for one of those Oscars, his film "Ted" is a gigantic worldwide megasmash hit, he's got three different animated shows running at the same time, and he's gearing up to make his second movie.
I'd say that qualifies as one of the greatest bounces in recent memory.
Media Rights Capital is underwriting the film, and I like the way MacFarlane's played it this time around, putting together an entire package before finding a studio partner. And despite Deadline's insistence that this is a "kindred spirit" to "Blazing Saddles," something MacFarlane directly disputed in this week's Entertainment Weekly cover story, they seem to have the details on how the auction is coming together on the film.
It seems like each week now, we get some new lesson in just how fast information, both true and false, can spread online. The moment someone breaks a story like El Mayimbe's Harrison Ford scoop last week, it is everywhere. And while there's been no official confirmation of that story yet, most online organizations picked the story up because they trusted the origin of the information.
But what about when people suddenly create headlines around something that comes from a totally untrustworthy and untested source? Why do things that have no immediate credibility suddenly become worldwide trending topics on Twitter? Is is just a case of people wanting a rumor to be true so much that they don't care about reality? As Wilco once sang, "All my lies are only wishes," and it sounds today like a lot of people wish there was a "Toy Story 4" arriving in theaters in 2015.
The problem is, it's not.
This past weekend, I sat down with Michelle Williams to talk about her role in Sam Raimi's "Oz The Great and Powerful," and we'll have that interview for you soon here at HitFix. Before we started, though, I mentioned to her that I just saw Sarah Polley's latest film, a personal documentary called "Stories We Tell," and that it completely changed the way I thought about Polley's previous film, "Take This Waltz." Williams lit up and we chatted about both films until they told me they needed to roll tape, and it's obvious that she is very fond of Polley as a filmmaker and just as impressed by her work as I am.
When I saw "Take This Waltz" at the Toronto Film Festival, it pretty much flattened me emotionally. I put it on my top ten for 2011, and I have seen the film three or four times since then, loving it just a little bit more each time. Polley has a strong, fascinating perspective, and it's not just because she's a woman. Yes, there are things about her work that are distinctly feminine, but she's also just got this huge curiosity about the really painful parts of life and the way those painful parts relate to the joy we feel. If you've seen "Waltz," you know it's about a married couple who come to a parting of the ways, and it's not anything the guy does. It's because the wife is simply open to life in a way that leaves her unguarded. She falls in love. She doesn't mean to do it, but she's wired to do it. She can't help but do it. She falls in love because that's the sort of person she is. That's what is important to her. She is so full of a certain kind of vitality and energy and when she finds someone who connects to it, she can't resist. And why should she? It's her nature.