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Entries in Directors (119)

Tuesday
Dec162014

Open Thread & Roundtable Madness

I have been comically beset by obstacles this year so even though I'm roughly three weeks behind, I have to laugh a little at the strange stumbles and ouchy falls and just go... okay, well then. This is an interesting view of the floor! (apologiez: Oscar chart editing functions are somewhat on the fritz. trying for workarounds to fix)

Angelina Jolie talking about directing plane crashes and visual effects. Mike Leigh, hilariously also in this shot.

One of the victims of this impossible season for me at least has been THR's roundtables. I literally haven't watched a single one of those sometimes highly enjoyable if aggravating celeb gatherings. Not even the Actress Roundtable! (I'm certain it was its vibe of "The Amy Adams Show: Episode 5"  that killed my will to press play on the only day I had 50 minutes free on weeks ago. Important distinction: Amy Adams the actress is often very exciting to watch. Amy Adams the celebrity is like wallpaper.)

So consider this an open thread in which you can complain about all the Oscar stories we haven't covered this past couple of weeks (the charts WILL be updates tomorrow, damnit) and which exact minutes of these roundtables you would recommend that everyone including your host here must watch RIGHT NOW. The Hollywood Reporters six awards season roundtables to date follow. All five plus hours of them in case you've missed one. Or all six like me.  Along with the videos after the jump are the single questions per roundtable that I am pretending they answered...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Dec122014

Best Picture Predictions: Selma & Budapest on the Rise...

At this juncture in each film year, each week (hell, each day) brings another level of absurdity to the notion that anything is sure when it comes to Oscar. The awards table is constantly being shaken up and as soon as the pieces settle they're jostled again. All that and we're still almost three weeks away from actual Academy balloting for nominations.

you wish to have the curse reversed? get your screeners out first!

The tidal wave of awardage in early December reminds us once again that late December releases IF they are also late to screen can struggle. Still Alice and Cake, counter-examples, may be hiding from the public [ahem -grrr] but they premiered / screened regularly and early for the industry starting in September so their late arrivals haven't been a problem. Interstellar and Selma (both from Paramount) and A Most Violent Year (from A24) performed inconsistently without the benefit of awards screeners. Other late-to-screen releases (none of which have opened yet) including American Sniper, Into the Woods, Unbroken, and Big Eyes got screeners out but not in time for the SAG Nominating committee (from my understanding). Only Streep scored with a SAG nomination from those films.

And, let's face it, Into the Woods didn't even have to screen. Many many people in the world are willing to buy Meryl Streep on principal as Best even if they haven't yet seen whatever new character she's selling. (I wasn't joking when discussing her awards prospects on twitter when I said that only about once every 20 years do awards bodies en masse just decide to ignore her entirely in a given film year and we're not due for another one of those Brigadoon-like mystical occurences until 2024/2025. (If you're curious the last two times were Falling in Love in the 80s and Prime in the 00s)

Despite all the heat a Globe or SAG nomination or an LA / New York critics win can bring a film it's infinitely worth noting that Oscar balloting doesn't even begin until after Christmas so there are still important weeks ahead for all of these movies. In the end buzz only increases your likelihood that Academy members will watch your film. It doesn't necessarily mean that they'll like your film and vote for it. If you trust the precursors Whiplash isn't a threat for anything outside of Supporting Actor gold but I'm still willing to bet big on it in my predictions. At every industry event I've attended I've heard people speak of it with the kind of excitement that you can't buy with expensive PR pushes because the excitement is organic and personal taste driven. I'm not a huge fan of the film (though it has its moments and Damien Chazelle obviously has a big career ahead) but I hear actual love and not just respectful admiration when people talk about it and that is at least as good as, say, a Globe Best Picture Comedy or Musical nomination for Oscar heat, you know?

Best Picture is still something of a mystery, since we don't know how many nominees we will get or which of the 15 or so movies still in the running will be selected. We've had four completely consistent performers in the precursors that have already faced and won over both audiences and critics so you can lock them up: Birdman, Boyhood, The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything. But beyond that? Anyone's guess. 

The Globe love-in for Selma and that totally deserved but still a wee bit surprising SAG Cast nomination for Grand Budapest Hotel are arguably the 2 biggest deal awards occurrences this week. If AMPAS voters haven't yet decided to screen either of those films, you can be sure they're going to.

More questions: Can Foxcatcher, Gone Girl, or Interstellar reheat cooling buzz? Can Unbroken, Into the Woods, American Sniper, and A Most Violent Year rally their fan bases in the next two to three weeks? (Successful opening weekends definitely won't hurt if they can muster them.) 

What other questions are you asking about the best picture race? 

SEE UPDATED OSCAR CHARTS:
PICTURE | DIRECTOR | SCREENPLAYS

Wednesday
Dec102014

Bates, Sarandon & Curtis: Actressexual News Galore!

Manuel here bringing you some delicious actressexual news that'll make all of you 80s/90s film lovers really happy. 

A photo posted by xavierdolan (@xavierdolan) on Dec 12, 2014 at 3:41pm PST

Xavier Dolan's upcoming English language debut film, The Death & Life of John F. Donovan is slowly amassing quite the cast. The Mommy director had already announced the casting of Jessica Chastain and Kit Harrington but he's also added Susan Sarandon and Kathy Bates to the cast. Needless to say, the boy has taste. Also, if you're not following him on Instagram, you're really missing out. That's where he's been sharing tidbits from his upcoming film, but also more NSFW-ey stuff like this (think he was celebrating casting Kit, Susan & Kathy?).

In other news, Ryan Murphy, who has yet to meet an 80s or 90s cinema goddess he doesn't want to shower with a juicy part (see: Kathy Bates, Jessica Lange, Angela Bassett), has conscripted Jamie Lee Curtis for his upcoming horror/comedy anthology seriesScream Queens. You have to admit, that's some amazing casting. Joining her is Emma Roberts, a regular member of the Murphy AHSacting ensemble (and a Scream queen herself!). I won't hold my breath for this being a great show, but I will look forward to the sure to be batshit crazy stuff he'll have Curtis do. If nothing else, he'll have rescued her from a career as yogurt spokesperson so we should be grateful for that. 

Which 80s/90s star do you wish were given a plum role by an established TV mogul and/or a tantalizingly exuberant up and comer? 

Wednesday
Dec032014

Interview: Toa Fraser and the 'Cool Runnings' of the foreign language race.

Glenn here. If you had ever wondered what a pre-colonial New Zealand western may look like, Toa Fraser's The Dead Lands just may be it. The film's story of revenge taken by a Maori chieftain's son after the slaughter of his tribe and family is very typical fodder for the western genre, but with its use of indigenous languages (a language that itself has been slaughtered throughout history) mixed with local mythology and lore, the film proves an entirely unique proposition. It's only the third foreign language submission in the small island nation's history, and the first to be set before white settlement. I spoke to the director last week, just a few days before his film received the biggest haul of nominations at the New Zealand Film Awards. The Dead Lands received 14 nominations and will face stiff competition from the inspirational chess drama The Dark Horse with 13. We talked about about the festival circuit, Oscar campaigning, being the underdog, historic authenticity, costuming and more.

 You have recently played at Toronto and London film festivals, and now you're a submission for the Oscar, how have these last few months of yours been taking this film around the world.

It's been amazing. We only finished the movie a few weeks before we went to Toronto and I had only seen it once in its entirety before we screened it at Toronto so it was kind of a high stakes game. We had, I think, six cast members come to Toronto and be a part of the experience, so it was a great premiere and we were very happy with the way that it was received. We were very grateful. And then to get back to London for the festival was also great. We had a great big group of Maori come down to the show and stand proudly at the side of the stage without telling us they were coming. They all had a great time. And then back to New Zealand for the premiere there, so it's been a bit of a whirlwind, but I am very proud of the movie and love talking about it. Good times.

Have you by any chance been given any education on campaigning techniques when it comes to the Oscar? Is it a big deal in New Zealand or do you take it stride?

We are the Cool Runnings of the foreign language race [laughs]. You know, I think we're only the third ever from New Zealand…

Yeah, it is, after The Orator (2011) and White Lies (2013).

Yeah, and we're up against some formidable and very established industries that make movies in languages other than English. So, we under no pretense we have… we're the underdog in this game, but in terms of strategy? No. I understand there are very strict rules and so I'm anxious not to suck up. We're from New Zealand, we're very play by the rules types.

More on Peter O'Toole, costumes, and action choreograhy after the jump...

James Rolleston, Lawrence Makoare and Toa Fraser on the set of 'The Dead Lands'

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Nov192014

Steve McQueen to Helm a Paul Robeson Biopic (& other news)

Manuel here bringing you news about Steve McQueen's next film project.

Surely one of the joys of this past Oscar season was McQueen's ebullience, no?

While we know McQueen has been busy casting his lead for his HBO pilot, Codes of Conduct, it was less clear what his follow-up to his Academy Award winning 12 Years a Slave would be. Well, now we have an answer: a Paul Robeson biopic. He’s quoted by The Guardian, noting that,

“His life and legacy was the film I wanted to make the second after Hunger. But I didn’t have the power, I didn’t have the juice.”

Robeson’s life will surely offer McQueen quite a bit to play with, though I’d love for him to focus on Robeson’s impact and role in the Harlem Renaissance; might I be selfish in wanting him to craft an entire movie out of Robeson’s (in)famous Emperor Jones production? I feel we’ve yet to get a big-screen treatment of that colorful era, with so much necessary cultural history embedded within. After 12 Years’ historic win, it seems fitting that McQueen (who’s teaming up with Harry Belafonte for the pic) would use his leverage to get his passion project off the ground and particularly timely as 2014 continues to see films for, about, and by black artists taking center stage in mainstream conversations.

And for those of you who want to champion and support work by African American women (also beautifully being spotlit recently with Ava Duvernay, Gina Prince-Bythewood, as well as Brit Amma Asante’s films all receiving warm critical and box office notices), the African-American Women in Cinema festival kicks off today in New York City. It looks like a wonderfully diverse slate; the opening night film Seasons of Love features Taraji P. Henson, (also soon to be seen in the upcoming Lee Daniels’ produced television show Empire which will hopefully give her the juice role she deserves) as well as the fittingly and timely titled Afraid of the Dark documentary which attempts to answer the question, in director Mya B.’s words, “Why is everyone afraid of black men?” Let us know if you make it to any of the films! 

Taraji & Gladys Knight in Seasons of Love 

Who do you think McQueen should cast as Robeson? And while we’re on the subject, share with us your favorite film directed by a woman of color (mine’s The Watermelon Woman); I’m always on the lookout for new titles from voices that veer away from the stronghold of the straight white male director.

Monday
Nov172014

Oscar Prediction Updates. 10 Questions

It's a participatory round! The Oscar Charts are updated in every category but here are ten questions that are on my mind. Try to answer them (or at least some of them) in the comments. 

01. Why am I the only pundit that has faith in Jake Gyllenhaal as a Best Actor nominee?
Many many people were more than wow'ed by his work. I realize that as a non-recovering Gyllenhaalic for many years now my wildcard prediction will be thought of as Wishful Thinking but I've heard so much negativity about Foxcatcher that I'm starting to think only Ruffalo makes it. That makes room for other leading contenders to rise if Carell and Channing are weaker than expected.

02. Can Ava DuVernay and Damien Chazelle both really score Best Director nods? 
The Academy has been notoriously standoffish about female directors. But has the tide turned with all the attention that's been paid to that factoid? Will they admire her grasp of a large canvas or is she still too much of an outsider? Is passion for Whiplash growing or levelling off? I hear it brought up at every industry party like "oh, I LOVED that movie." Or will a Screenplay nomination have to do for 2nd time young director Damian Chazelle? If you think they're missing who do you think would be there instead?

03. Is it insane that I have Birdman leading the nomination tally with 9? 
Divisive formally ingeniuous showbiz meta pictures aren't exactly the norm for the Academy but neither are there all that many of them made. For nominations, passion counts for a lot with #1 placements.  If you don't think it's Birdman, what do you think will lead the pack on Nomination Morning?

04. If Whiplash is not the 5 nomination Best Picture threat that I think it is, does that mean Supporting Actor is an actual race?
Or do you think J.K. Simmons' name engrave on a statue is going to happen regardless? Confession: So rooting for either Ruffalo or Norton to finally win.

Selma's cinematography. Most of it isn't this showy.

05. Can Bradford Young finally get an Oscar nod for Cinematography?
Or will his work on Selma and A Most Violent Year split his support within that branch? 

06. What do you think of TFE's predictions for the Foreign Film 9-wide Finalist List?
Too strong? Too weak? Just right? Which country do you think absolutely shouldn't be underestimated right now?

06. Will anyone remember Dawn of the Planet of the Apes?
That was such a big critical and audience deal this summer and it seems like a likely contender in several categories. But is anyone talking about it? Or will it end up like its predecessor with only a Visual Effects nomination despite its incredible Production Design and so on.

08. Who do you want to see performing our Original Song nominees?
I'm just throwing darts at this category because god only knows with the music branch. Is even "Lost Stars" safe since they regularly shun presumed powerhouses in the category? 

09. Interstellar's Reviews Mean...?
We know that some major directors admire it but Nolan has still not been nominated for Best Director. Does the mixed response mean this is closer to The Dark Knights Rises Oscar nomination tally (0) or Inception's (8)

10. Which movie do you think lands the most Oscar nods without a corresponding Best Picture placement?
I suspect that's going to be either Into the Woods, Interstellar or Grand Budapest Hotel depending of course on which doesn't make the list and how many Best Picture nominees we actually get. It can't really be 9 films every year! 

every Oscar chart