The Writers Guild of America has spoken, choosing their favorite scripts of the year in film and television. They repeat an interesting move from yesterday's Producers Guild Awards in that they've (somewhat) unexpectedly acknowledged Dallas Buyers Club, which few people thought was a strong contender outside of the male acting categories, while skipping the Coen Bros Inside Llewyn Davis for honors.
I'm sure you've seen the melancholy yet uplifting new spot for Nebraska that points out the ages of its principal cast and how long they've been acting. It's inspiring, for sure, as longevity often is. Hollywood and the Oscars often favor the sprinters (note all the stars, particularly actresses, who won too soon and all the films that opened in the rush of awards season that were only hot for two months) but life is a marathon.
Assuming Bruce Dern and June Squibb are both nominated on January 16th (and smart money says they will be) they'll both be among the top three oldest performers ever nominated in their categories. It will break down like so...
OLDEST BEST ACTOR NOMINEES
01 Richard Farnsworth, The Straight Story (1999) who was 79
02 Bruce Dern, Nebraska (20) who is 77*
03 Henry Fonda, On Golden Pond (1981) who was 76
04 Clint Eastwood, Million Dollar Baby (2004) who was 74
05 Peter O'Toole, Venus (2006) who was also 74
06 Morgan Freeman, Invictus (2008) who was 72
07 Sir Laurence Olivier, The Boys From Brazil (1978) who was 71
08 Frank Langella, Nixon (2008) who was also 71
09 Paul Newman, Nobody's Fool (1994) who had just turned 70
Those are the only 70somethings ever nominated for Best Actor... if Robert Redford and Bruce Dern are both nominated we'll have a perfect full top ten of 70something Best Actor candidates; they're only two months apart in age (with Dern born first). Among these senior men Henry Fonda was the only winner. If Dern wins -- and I've long thought he might with that magic combo of a likely Best Picture nominee, a moving performance, and a stellar campaign -- he'll become the oldest winner ever in the Best Actor category.
OLDEST BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS NOMINEES
01. Gloria Stuart, Titanic (1997) who was 87... and the oldest in *any* category actually
02. Ruby Dee, American Gangster (2007) who was 85 *but there are conflicting reports on her age*
03. June Squibb, Nebraska (2013) who is 84
03. Jessica Tandy, Fried Green Tomatoes (1991) who was 82
05. Eva Le Gallienne, Resurrection (1980 - recently discussed) who had just turned 82
Those are the only 80somethings ever nominated in Supporting Actress and none of them won. Can June Squibb break the pattern this year? (The current oldest winner ever in this category is Dame Peggy Ashcroft for A Passage to India (1984) who was 77). Speaking of Squibb, have you been watching the American remake of the British nursing comedy series Getting On? Squibb guest stars in one episode as a foul-mouthed cigarette-smoking patient. She and Niecy Nash are pretty great together.
What do you make of Dern & Squibb's Oscar chances?
The Year in Review continues with Michael Cusumano on Jennifer Lawrence's box office coronation, a more impressive achievement than you think.
At the sound of the closing bell, Iron Man 3 clings to the title of top grossing domestic release of 2013, but Tony Stark should savor the honor while it lasts. He is all but certain to relinquish the crown to Katniss Everdeen in the early weeks of 2014.
If one wants proof that this is all but a done deal, one need only compare the grosses of the first Hunger Games to its sequel. According to Box Office Mojo, Catching Fire’s 398 million is 24 million ahead of its predecessor at the same point in its release (41 days). Since the first Hunger Games’ final gross of 408 million is nearly tied with Iron Man 3’s 409 million, unless the grosses of Catching Fire unexpectedly crater it’s a safe bet that when we close the book on the 2013 the second entry in the Hunger Games series will hold true to its protagonist and emerge from the arena the final victor.
That a film with a strong, capable female protagonist as its sole lead is the year’s number one film is reason to cheer. That I was unable to recall the last film to duplicate this feat emphasizes the rarity of the achievement. It made me curious:
When was the last time a film led solely by a female character topped the domestic box office in its year? [The answer is after the jump]
It feels like Oscar's upcoming "In Memorium" segment this year is going to be extra exhaustingly sad. One of the tiny reasons among many larger ones that I wish they hadn't moved the Honorary Oscar to another event is that the eldest artists of the cinema shouldn't only be viewed through the prism of final goodbyes, you know? This past week we lost two more actresses, both of whom might feel right at home when they hear heavenly choirs.
When I think of Juanita Moore (1922-2014) and her classic Oscar-nominated performance in the Douglas Sirk melodrama Imitation of Life (1959), I nearly always think of a scene she isn't even in! My mind always rushes to her character's own funeral.
Is there a sung funereal performance more moving than Mahalia Jackson's "Trouble of the World"?
It's enough to make you weep as hard as Lora (Lana Turner) when she loses her dear friend Annie (Juanita Moore). I was such a wet-faced mess the first time I saw this movie. See, here's the thing. I think of the funeral first because Juanita's performance and plight as a mother continually rejected by her lighter-skinned daughter (who wants to pass as white) is so moving that it earns this unforgettable Mahalia Jackson send-off.
The Hungarian born operetta superstar Martha Eggerth (1912-2013) passed away just after Christmas at 101 years of age... she kept performing even into her late nineties! Though she was a much bigger star in European cinemas of the 30s, two Judy Garland pictures in the 40s made a big (brief) deal of her: For Me and My Gal (1942) is fun and quite famous, largely for being Gene Kelly's debut, but I'd argue that the more obscure Presenting Lily Mars (1943) is even better. I thought about just posting a still here but no photo will do her justice, despite her loveliness, since it was all about the voice. Here's a clip of her singing Voices of Spring. You can read a lot more about her here.
Vulture Battle of the Long Island Blondes in Wolf of Wall Street, Don Jon and American Hustle. My favorite among them is definitely ScarJo
The Playlist shares the new Electro teaser from The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (aka Spider-Man 5) and is it just me or does Electro wielding his powers with a pointy all fingers twitch seem like a really bad cheap imitation of the Emperor in Return of the Jedi ?
Les InRocks [for French speaking readers] interviews director Alain Guiraudie on his critical breakthrough Stranger by the Lake. Please let us know the most interesting lines because I love the portrait of Guiraudie in the bushes
Awards Daily Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio to be honored at Santa Barbara Film Festival. (But in what order are the 48 or so honorees being feted? No one speaks of this!)
Thompson on Hollywood icymi here's a long piece on the very complicated voting process for Oscar's Best Picture. I feel like you have to a higher education math degree or just have a very finely tuned stay-patient stay-focused button, to understand this. Since I have neither, I'm (partially) lost. I have too many questions once you hit step #7... But the theory presented is that we will have a smaller pool of nominees due to the large number of films with broad support, rather than the more common sense 'more beloved films means more nominated pictures' feeling.
Variety SPC picks up the Hungarian future Oscar nominee The Notebook
Cinema Blend a new Ralph Fiennes clip from Grand Budapest Hotel
Top Ten Mania
Towleroad my piece on the best queer characters of cinema this year from Kill Your Darlings through Blue is the Warmest Color
Towleroad best LGBT moments in television this year
Yahoo top grossing Broadway shows of 2013, The Lion King back on top despite Wicked continuing to rack in literally millions every week despite being several years old (Producers just burning money dawdilng about getting that movie mounted as we've bitched about a lot). I read so many articles about this and NONE list all ten even though they're referring to a mythical top ten... so you gotta check...
Broadway World ...for that
Pajiba the "brotastic" list of most pirated movies of 2013 from The Hangover Part 3 to Gangster Squad
Frontiers LA has an amazing top ten from the always hilarious and hip "Chloe Sevigny" (aka Drew Droege). Here are the actressy entries though the whole thing is worth a read...
6. The bowel-shaking rhythms of Jodie Foster’s Elysium timbre.
3. Actresses without teeth. Or anyone but Anne Hathaway.
Just when you thought the Best Picture race was solidifying around eight or nine contenders, the Producer's Guild today went and threw a couple of curveballs. Don't get me wrong, their nominees are barely a surprise, but at this stage of the race (with still two months to go!) it's nice to have some mystery evolving in the fringes of the top category.
The nominees are:
- American Hustle (Columbia Pictures)
Producers: Megan Ellison, Jon Gordon, Charles Roven, Richard Suckle
- Blue Jasmine (Sony Pictures Classics)
Producers: Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum
- Captain Phillips (Columbia Pictures)
Producers: Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca, Scott Rudin
- Dallas Buyers Club (Focus Features)
Producers: Robbie Brenner, Rachel Winter
- Gravity (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Producers: Alfonso Cuarón, David Heyman
- Her (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Producers: Megan Ellison, Spike Jonze, Vincent Landay
- Nebraska (Paramount Pictures)
Producers: Albert Berger, Ron Yerxa
- Saving Mr. Banks (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Producers: Ian Collie, Alison Owen, Philip Steuer
- 12 Years a Slave (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Producers: Anthony Katagas, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen, Brad Pitt & Dede Gardner
- Wolf of Wall Street (Paramount Pictures)
Producers: Riza Aziz, Emma Koskoff, Joey McFarland
Several of these were rather obvious, and if we still lived in a world of only five Best Picture nominees I have no doubt those five would be American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Gravity, Nebraska and 12 Years a Slave. Alas, we don't live in that world anymore, so here are nine thoughts I had in order of Oscar- relevance.