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Entries in Argo (23)

Friday
Feb222013

Argo, A Second Viewing.

Amir here. There are two days left until the Oscars, but no doubt as to what name is called when the final envelope is opened at the ceremony. Argo has become a juggernaut, steamrolling through the reason with one industry award after another and is now undoubtedly in the driver's seat. As is par for the annual course, in the past few weeks, Affleck’s film has been subjected to more criticism than it probably deserves. A film that was once a successful crowd-pleaser, a surprising box-office sensation, a well-made, old-fashioned thriller, is now being touted as the best of the year by the Academy most of us hold in high regard, so naturally expectations have dramatically skyrocketed. 

Recently I rewatched it, hoping to reconsider my initial opinion of the film and find the spark it’d been missing the first time around. It’s not that I disliked Argo then. Quite the opposite, I really enjoyed it. For one thing, Argo’s depiction of Tehran in the early 80s is, on the surface, dead-on. I have my bones to pick with the characterization of Iranians in the film – particularly during the Bazaar sequence – but as a native of Tehran, I have to admit I got a kick out of watching the geography, the atmosphere and the language down to every banner and chant play out so accurately. All the more impressive when you stop to consider that it wasn’t filmed in Iran at all. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Monday
Feb182013

Interview: Alexandre Desplat on Composing for "Argo" & "Zero Dark Thirty"

Matt here! Knowing my music background, Nathaniel asked me to speak with Alexandre Desplat for his fifth Oscar nomination. Desplat has composed scores for over 100 films including Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The King’s Speech, and The Tree of Life. This year alone, he wrote for Moonrise Kingdom, Rust and Bone, Rise of the Guardians, Zero Dark Thirty, and earned his latest Academy Award nomination for his work on Argo.

Desplat conducting his Rise of the Guardians score

Not only is Desplat impossibly prolific but he produces music of unprecedented diversity. Who could have guessed that the same man behind the jaunty storybook sounds of Fantastic Mr. Fox also wrote the cloudy chords at the end of Zero Dark Thirty? [more...]

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Feb032013

Making Peace With "Argo". How Many Oscars Will It Win?

When Best Picture locks up each year -- which usually happens sooner than February 2nd so we should count our blessings that this year had more drama! -- the best thing that one can do is find a way to make peace with it. I've followed the Oscars long enough to know that when your absolute favorite in a category wins you should feel rapturous but treat it like its as rare as Brigadoon since you might never see it's like again. The trick to staying sane (not that I've actually mastered this, mind you) is to enjoy the annual awards festivities without caring about the winners so much as the journey to crown them. In its better moments the awards season circus provides plenty of entertainment, delectable star-gazing, and even the occasional conversational or critical insight into what makes particularly movies great or what makes people love particular movies despite their unfortunate lack of greatness.

I've learned to enjoy it when anything in my top ten each year wins something since, in most years, actual favorites are not crowned. It's harder though to enoy your non-favorites winning when they're solidly in the middle of the pack or when a particular forthcoming win defeats something clearly masterful.

Which brings us to Argo...

 

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jan302013

Link Wars Episode IV: A New Blog

MNPP on Keep the Lights On in 250 words or less. Good insights here - love the ending - though JA likes the film more than I do.
Deadline Upcoming 3D conversions of all Star Wars movies cancelled. Thank god. Every day I pray to the movie gods to take the plague of 3D and its conversions away from us!
Two Dollar Cinema heads to The Last Stand on account of a childhood spent with Arnold Schwarzenegger movies
The Film Doctor 10 questions about Silver Linings Playbook

 

Stale Popcorn takes in Xavier Dolan's Lawrence Anyways. I love Dolan but I'm scared of this one - three hour dramas are hard to pull off. 
Vulture interviews Steven Soderbergh who apparently really is retiring now.
Movie|Line is the upcoming Brad Bird/George Clooney feature Tomorrowland (previously title 1952) about early space travel?
In Contention will Argo be a Driving Miss Daisy or an Apollo 13
The Carpetbagger Mistakes were made on the marketing of Django and The Master 

And did you see Matt Damon talking to Nicole Kidman a few nights back on Jimmy Kimmel Live Jimmy Kimmel Sucks?

Hilarious. Nicole Kidman can steal my utensils any time she'd like. 

Sunday
Jan272013

Three Reasons Why "Argo" Became the One To Beat

You can't always know how the future will treat each year's awards recipients. Will their strengths will come into sharper focus as time erodes the particulars of the movie culture and conversation they arrived into or will that erosion grind a movie or performers appeal down with it? What will we make in five year's time of this moment when Hollywood threw awards at Argo instead of, say, Lincoln? That's what happened again last night at the Producers Guild Awards when Ben Affleck's 1970s CIA rescue tale took the top prize.

We don't have to wait for hindsight clarity when it comes to Argo's sudden rise in the previous deadheat Oscar race.  I'd say that three things are responsible, two of which no one could have predicted.

1. I'd been saying from the very start that Argo's narrative subtext, embedded into its truish story of a fake movie being used to rescue Americans from a hostile regime, that 'Movies Save the World!' feel would be irressistible to the back-patting awards season mentality in much the same way it was for the documentary The Cove some years ago.

The other two factors were not things anyone could have predicted though....

2.  Zero Dark Thirty emerged to somewhat reductive "so much better than Argo!" laudatory soundbytes (they both involve CIA meddling in the Middle East so they must be compared incessantly!) and for about a week it looked like The Real Oscar Deal but what happened next with it was very kind to Argo. Zero became the media's most slobbered on and teared at rag doll with everyone tsk-tsking and fuming and eventually subtly equating the making of it with condoning torture. By extension voting for it felt unpleasant to some, too. Suddenly the "better than Argo" conversation died and was replaced with just "...Argo", a rebooting if you will of where the Oscar conversation had previously been. Sometimes opening early helps and it's more than helped Argo.

3. The last, and most shocking turn of events was Ben Affleck's omission from the Best Director lineup. I'd long been predicting him to win that statue even though I hadn't viewed Argo necessarily as the future Best Picture champ, suspecting that we were in for a split year. The best thing that ever happened to Argo in terms of its Best Picture prospects was Affleck's "snub". And conversely, that's the worse thing that happened to Lincoln. Whatever one makes of the quality of the Best Picture nominees (have you voted for your favorite here?), Lincoln previously had the strongest narrative arriving as it did in this historic year of President Obama's reelection and the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. Affleck's over-mourned "snub" (people keep conveniently forgetting how strong the Best Director lineup is without him!) handed Argo an underdog narrative in a season where the narratives -- those tricky hooks that make a person or movie so irresistible in the Story of the Year's Entertainments -- weren't all that strong even if the movies were.

Reason no. 3 is in some ways the most understandable now that it's happened and the most baffling. If you really step back for some perspective Ben Affleck is an enormous waste of a Sympathy Vote. He's already an Oscar winner. He's an Oscar nominee even when he's snubbed (he'll win the Oscar if Argo wins Best Picture since he produced) - fancy that. He has a happy Hollywood marriage. He rose to fame with his best friend who is still a huge power player in Hollywood, too. He's risen from the ashes of a weirdly shaky leading man career to become a respected director and a... uh... leading man again. He's super handsome and aging well. He's made only three films all of which received Oscar attention, the latter two of which were big big hits. If anything he's a true golden boy of showbiz with a hugely enviable career and awards run and yet, you'd think he were dying! To this Awards Season he's suddenly treated like the Fantine figure in Les Miz on her death bed; the one to cry over "if only life weren't so cruel!", the one to promise everything to in order to make amends.

And all because he missed out on an expected Best Director nomination?

Mrs. Affleck at the PGAs. Oh, you know she makes this pose at home while mock scolding BenTHE WINNERS

Outstanding Producer, Film: Ben Affleck, Grant Henslov, George Clooney for Argo
Outstanding Producer, Documentary: Malik Bendjelloul, Simon Chinn for Searching for Sugar Man
Outstanding Producer, Animated: Clark Spencer for Wreck-it Ralph
Outstanding Producer, Longform TV: Gary Goetzman, Tom Hanks, Jay Roach, Amy Sayres, Steven Shareshian, Danny Strong for "Game Change"
Outstanding Producer, Episodic TV (Drama): Henry Bromell, Alexander Cary, Michael Cuesta, Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon, Chip Johannessen, Michael Klick, Meredith Stiehm for "Homeland"
Outstanding Producer, Episodic TV (Comedy): Cindy Chupack, Paul Corrigan, Abraham Higginbotham, Ben Karlin, Steven Levitan, Christopher Lloyd, Jeff Morton, Dan O’Shannon, Jeffrey Richman, Chris Smirnoff, Brad Walsh, Bill Wrubel, Danny Zuker for "Modern Family" 
Outstanding Producer, NonFiction TV: Prudence Glass, Susan Lacy,Julie Sacks for "American Masters" PBS 
Outstanding Producer, Live TV: Meredith Bennett, Stephen Colbert, Richard Dahm, Paul Dinello, Barry Julien, Matt Lappin, Emily Lazar, Tanya Michnevich Bracco, Tom Purcell,Jon Stewart for "The Colbert Report" 
Outsanding Producer, Competition TV:  Jerry Bruckheimer, Elise Doganieri, Jonathan Littman, Bertram van Munster, Mark Vertullo for "The Amazing Race"

Outstanding Sports Program: "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel"
Outstanding Children's Program:  "Sesame Street"
Outstanding Digital Series: "30 Rock: The Webisodes" 

 

 

Saturday
Jan262013

SAG Award Seating. Any Requests?

Thanks to Sasha Stone for tweeting this. It's a SAG Awards seating chart (of sorts).

I can't make out the faces as well as I'd like but Jessica Chastain and Denzel Washington are right up front with Helen Hunt just the next table back. Expect lots of reaction shots from the front. Do you think any of them will win tomorrow night?

BFFs since before they were famous - Nicole & NaomiTV Guide has a partial seating chart which indicates that Les Misérables and Argo have front row tables both to the right of the stage and get this, SAG honors requests so...

BFFs Naomi Watts(The Impossible) and Nicole Kidman (The Paperboy) asked to sit together and are placed at Table 21. 

Awwww!

Double nominees get to choose where they sit so Bryan Cranston opted for the Breaking Bad table instead of sitting with King Ben of Argopolis. 

Which table would you most want to carouse with? Will you be hear for liveblogging tomorrow? I promise to stay put to avoid tech difficulties as with the Globes.

Friday
Jan182013

Re: Ben Affleck

I would like to go on record... as saying that this hideous idea of a "write-in" vote for Ben Affleck which is making the webrounds should not be humored by any Academy member or Oscar pundit who respects that the votes are what the votes are come what may. We all have disagreements each year. I mean I think it's ludicrous / embarrassing / etcetera that Crash won best picture but I haven't demanded a recount or a retroactive do-over. The Oscars are what they are: a historical document of a given moment in time and what an elite group of people in Hollywood in those fields valued at the time. 

To deny the directors their ability to choose the five Best Directors is tantamount to overthrowing the entire system in which the nominations come from their own branch of expertise. What's next, actors being able to choose which 5 sound engineers should be up for awards? Documentarians choosing which 5 costume designers should be nominated because, they themselves understand so much about character and clothing?

If I were Ben Affleck I would shut this down immediately somehow. No one likes a sore loser.