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« "Holy Motors" Tops The Inaugural Team Experience Awards | Main | Curio: Alexa's Favorite Film Moments of 2012 »
Tuesday
Jan082013

Nom Nom Nom: The DGA's.

Hey, lovelies. Beau here, with the announcement of the DGA Nominees for 2013 whilst Nathaniel lunches with one of them.

  • Ben Affleck, Argo 
  • Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty
  • Tom Hooper, Les Miserables
  • Ang Lee, Life of Pi
  • Steven Spielberg, Lincoln

And so, the open spot goes to Tom Hooper, a recent recipient a couple years back for his work on The King’s Speech. If anything must be said about Les Miserables, it is that it is indeed a director’s vision; the intimacy of the camera superseding the largeness of the story in an effort to maximize the full emotional impact of the musical.

While I have many issues with the film, Hooper’s vision does lend itself well to Hathaway’s ‘I Dreamed a Dream’, the strongest scene in the film. Observing despair and bottling it in a shot that would have made Bergman proud, his attention to detail in Hathaway makes for something profoundly intimate and personal. That the rest of the film never lives up to this moment is not really surprising; its pacing and its reticence to self-edit do it a disservice, as the film never really gives its audience a moment to breathe and take in the considerable emotional toll. 

That being said, this is the lineup many have been predicting for quite some time now, give or take Hooper in place of Russell or Tarantino.  We’ll just have to see if Oscar feels the same way come Thursday morning.

Until then, dears. xo, Beau

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Reader Comments (36)

Holding out for a surprise in for that 5th slot on Thursday. Haneke, Wright, Zeitlin..someone who hasn't already shown up on Oscar's lineup before.

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoel V

It may turn out to be a rule that when Bigelow is nominated, there must also be a non-white nominee with the name "Lee".

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSean C.

I am very happy Lee made this list. He's not getting enough credit this awards season.

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

If I'm not wrong, since 2000 the DGA has matched the Oscar shortlist only twice... So there's a strong chance we'll have a surprise in that 5th slot (I REALLY hope so).

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn D.

Paul Thomas Anderson unjustly snubbed.

*goes into song*

How can you not like THE MASTER? How can you not appreciate its qualities? Where must I go? Where must I lay? I can take this any longer I refuse to eat cake.

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

That's not true the film doesn't live up to "I Dreamed a Dream." Several sequences after that one easily manage to match its rousing power. To name just a few:

"Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" (probably the most obvious *other* beneficiary of the extreme closeup)

The entire building of the barricade, with musical numbers "Do You Hear the People Sing?" and "Red and Black." Exhilarating.

"On My Own." Samantha Barks registers immense emotions, nearly equalling Hathaway.

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge

Four major hits and the fifth one likely to become a major hit after this weekend. The DGA likes people who make people money this year! (every year?)

I'm still pulling for O. Russell to make it in - at whose expense I don't really care!

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

Not a single SAG nom, not a WGA nom (okay, it wasn't eligible), and now not a DGA nom. Is Django in trouble? Can it still make a good showing on Thursday?

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterThe Wolfman

Am I the only one who is a little frustrated that every nominee on this list is already an Oscar winner? Even if it will be Ben Affleck's first nomination as a Director, he already won for writing Good Will Hunting. I'm hoping for surprise nominee who isn't already a winner (even if the winner will most likely be the first repeat in this caregory in 8 years).

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRichter Scale

Here's what I find most interesting about this list of directors: if this quintet carries over to the Oscars (and it surely wouldn't be a surprise if it did) then there will be four former winners in the category for the first time since 1984, when Woody Allen, Robert Benton, David Lean and eventual winner Milos Forman were all in the mix. Barring an "Argo" surge, then, we're sure to have our first repeat winner since Clint Eastwood. I'm an Oscar geek. I like stuff like this.

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDan Seeger

Between Best Director and Best Supporting Actor, there's a decent chance of all five former winners. I cannot think (and have been dying for someone to provide an example, as this is a REALLY BIG piece of Oscar history if it's happening for the first time) of a single time that a field was made up of five former winners in any category.

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

I remember being overjoyed when Clint won his second Best Director Oscar, because I loved his work in MDB, and it was a total shock to many because most thought Scorsese, being way overdue, was a shoe-in. That was a great Oscar moment.

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Harrison Ford reading Roman Polanski's name for THE PIANIST hands down is greatest moment in Oscar history. No one saw that coming and the room was a mixture of shock and humorous amusement.

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

Harrison Ford presenting one of the big two awards is the omen of a shock to come. He also announced "Shakespeare in Love" as Best Picture when "Saving Private Ryan" was though to have it sewn up, especially after Spielberg won Best Director for it.

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDan Seeger

Yeah, this is your final five best director lineup. So sad for my beloved Paul Thomas Anderson. That middlebrow Academy doesn't deserve your auteur genius anyways. Let their cups runneth over with dose #2 of Tom Hooper. Barf.

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLiam

Am I alone in having a problem with Hooper and Bergman being connected at all?

In a word, to quote Tallulah, "WOW."

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPatryk

Damn. Hopefully Wes Anderson will have a chance in Best Screenplay. And sad for Zeitlin too-- working with kids, animals, and water, and non-actors? Come on--Beasts of the Southern Wild was amazing and unique. Maybe he'll win for Best Score, as well as Best Adapted Screenplay. I don't EVEN want to discuss why Hooper shouldn't be a DGA nom.

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPam

"his attention to detail in Hathaway makes for something profoundly intimate and personal"

Hathaway's performance makes for something profoundly intimate and personal. All Hooper had to do was drop a camera in front of her.

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterA.J

Patryk, in a word, NO.

I think I may be rooting for Affleck, since Lee doesn't have a prayer. And I never would've predicted that back when the awards season started.

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

@Patryck: Bergman has long been my favorite filmmaker. I feel the comparison is appropriate.

@A.J: I think you're oversimplifying his success with that scene. It takes an enormous amount of restraint on the part of the director to simply let the story and the performer live, and not interfere. The camera is Fantine's confessional; he gets that.

I'm not a Hooper apologist in the slightest, but credit is due where credit is due.

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBeau

As to the vision, there is a continuity that you only feel at first that becomes a powerful thread. Beginning Javert calls JVJ "24601". On learning he's paroled JVJ says "my name is JVJ. In the church he declares "JVJ is no more". As Le Maire Madeleine he looks in a mirror with "Who Am I and answers Jean Val Jean but then striding into court to become a prisoner again declares "Who Am I - 24601" but then flees to a convent and becomes Fauchelevant only to become 24601 again while rescuing Marius. On his deathbed he comes full circle he is finally Jean Val Jean whole and at peace.

I know that's long but as you watch it happen, you see Hooper and Jackman creating close up after close up scene after scene to bring that central thirty year core of the book and musical to life . It is masterful.

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

Sean C -- I like this rule. Funny, unusual, true. Like the Colleen Atwood and Sandy Powell not being able to win if they aren't nominated opposite each other ;)

January 8, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Beau -- you have balls to compare Bergman to Hooper but in this one very concentrated point I think it's apt. Nobody shot the human face with as much depth and psychological confrontration like Bergman did and even if Hooper has significant problems elsewhere and isnt an artist in the way Bergman is, that particular scene is its own miniature masterpiece. So what if the rest of the movie doesn't live up to it? The rest of most movies in the running don't live up to it, either.

January 8, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I think Hooper is a very flawed director, but he has at least one of these close-up scenes in each of his 'big' movies that seem to work out very well.

This Anne Hathaway scene, the first speech Colin Firth gives in The King's Speech when he can't say the words (that face of his says it all) and the interview of Michael Sheen's Brian Clough in The Damned United.

I also want to add that for me (and I liked both TKS and Les Mis) The Damned United is his best movie. Round, complete. And a star turn by Michael Sheen not short of Colin Firth's. At least for me.

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJorge Rodrigues

It takes enormous restraint to put in a grand total of two, unmoving close-ups in a movei where the camera is ADHD for the rest of the time? I agree that the Hathaway scene is great, but it also seems an obvious choice by Hooper to be still during such a a captivating, psychologically revealing moment. And as someone else has pointed out, that's something he regularly does for his other movies.

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteralice

alice: Precisely my opinion. I find it hard to give him credit when in that scene he had nowhere else to go or focus on. The camera only has eyes for Hathaway.

And he even said in an interview that that was not the take he had chosen; it was Eddie Redmayne that made him change his mind and pointed that the scene required the camera not to move to see all that Hathaway was giving.

I'd give full credit there to Anne Hathaway who was, at least for 40-50% of the rendition of the song, kicking that song's ass. ACTING with full capitals.

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJorge Rodrigues

I thought Hooper's work on " Les Miserables" was ok- he did pull off the big scenes- "One Day More" to me the most effective sequence was Redmayne's truly moving " Empty Chairs, Empty Tables".

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

Oof. I do not get Tom Hooper's nomination at all. I get a Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay kinda deal, but the direction of the film actively works against the source material in several places ("Master Of The House", "The Confrontation", "A Heart Full Of Love"). The choice to have actors sing live on set created hurdles for the actors as often as it created moments of brilliance, and it presented serious issues with the sound mixing as well. The choice to have every scene and every character at every moment shot in close up robbed the film of clarity, in terms of establishing both the spaces and the relationships on display. I've seen the film twice now, and both times I could not stop thinking of how much better, more affecting, more cohesive this film could have been with a different director.

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTB

I have to object to the Bergman comparison, even within this limited framework. Bergman's genius in shooting close-ups had a lot to do with finding the drama in faces that were often not "doing" very much, or at the very least alternated between moments of volcanic emotion and (typically longer) moments of controlled, masklike, or impassive expressions that nonetheless become incredibly revealing in his hands, and in those of Sven Nykvist and the pertinent actresses. Hathaway, by contrast, is going full-bore with emotional floridity, writ quite large in her huge, extremely active features. This is entirely in keeping with the piece, however you respond to it or however much you like it. But love it or hate it, Hooper's approach inclines in very different directions from what Bergman and his actresses were typically up to. I also don't think Danny Cohen's lighting plays anything like the role that Sven Nykvist's much more nuanced and elegant lighting does in making the face so evocative. (I know, I know, I hate the movie and can't be trusted, but for my own two cents, I just had to say this.)

January 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNick Davis

I can see that, Nick. Nice point.

January 9, 2013 | Registered CommenterBeau McCoy

Nick -- those are definitely important distinctions. and while I agree that Danny Cohen can be a problem I also object to the notion -- not stated by you but i've seen it here and elsewhere -- that anyone would have been able to give I DREAMED A DREAM the same resonance.

as a huge proponent of the underused "continuous shot" in movies, I can't imagine the scene any other way now that i've seen it like this. I feel sad that people aren't even willing to give a movie credit for being brave about anything if they don't like it and the continuous shot is definitely brave and risky and difficult to convince actors/producers/editors/ or whatever to do or we'd see it all the time. To me it has such natural electricity. I'm so sick to death of watching slivers of performances and it felt amazing to see a full one onscreen. The only time I get those is when I go to live theater.

all that said i'm the last person to defend Hooper's visual inflexibility elsewhere in the movie. I do think the camera is the movie's biggest problem but it enrages me that people think the showy continuous shot solo closeups are the problem. THAT'S SO NOT THE PROBLEM. it's just what you noticed because you can't miss it. I would not change one thing about SOLILOQUY or I DREAMED A DREAM .

January 9, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

but i would get rid of the jarring sudden canted angle in ... was it EMPTY CHAIRS. I was like "what the fuck?"

January 9, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

The close-up thing wasn't even Hooper's idea. He shot every scene with three cameras and the close-up thing was there for coverage only. Eddie Redmayne saw the footage and suggested they used the close-up only. It worked, and Hooper decided to use close-ups in most of the movie, despite having filmed everything in more angles. You can find the interview in which Hopper admits that. You know, even the good things about this movie are accidental.

January 9, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

In this particular case, I'm just speaking to Beau's Bergman comparison, which was provocative but I can't really get behind, and which got debated in some of the previous comments. As I said, love or hate the scene or the movie (and it's obvious where I stand), I don't think as a point of style it works to draw that link.

You know I will cross rivers to see an actress in close-up. I have no objection to that treatment of that scene. I do think you can see the stress-marks after the halfway point of AH's song that she's gone too big for such an intimate angle... not surprising, since as Hooper has widely publicized (whether or not it's strictly true), she wasn't expecting the whole scene to be in such tight CU. I don't love the moment, though I felt stirred by it for the first minute or so. I agree it's a relative high-point in the movie, but you and I just mean different things by that.

January 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNick Davis

The constant tilt of the camera (which is very Phyllida Lloyd) and the lack of attention towards the settings, the costumes and the crowds are my main issues with Hooper's work.

January 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I think I've officially become a Nick fanboy. "hides" :) The way you talk about film is fascinating. It's too bad that no one in my "real life" gives a shit about films. I wouldn't have to go on blogs and message boards to talk about one of my greatest interests.

January 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTiny Tim

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