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Entries in Directors (95)

Sunday
Feb092014

21 Days Til Oscar

For the next twenty-one days we'll be sharing little trivia items as we count down to Hollywood's High Holy Night and surveying each category though we're not ready for the latter part just yet. Sound fun?

 Guess who's the only famous director to ever win exactly 21 nominations? That's Billy Wilder, pictured above with his bounty from The Apartment (1960). He won nominations in Picture, Director, and in the Writing categories over his very long directorial career which stretched from the French language Mauvaise Grain (1934) to the Jack Lemmon/Walter Matthau comedy Buddy Buddy (1981). His career total: 6 Oscars and a Thalberg!

The only director more celebrated in terms of total nominations in multiple categories is Woody Allen with 24 career nods, the huge bulk of which are for Best Original Screenplay (where he's nominated again this year for Blue Jasmine). Billy Wilder is also in second place in terms of total Best Director nominations with 8 though he shares that honor with Martin Scorsese (nominated again this year as well for The Wolf of Wall Street). First place is William Wyler (Ben Hur) with an incredible 12 Best Director nominations. Wyler is unlikely to ever be overthrown with his nearest living and working rivals so far behind him (Scorsese with 8, Steven Spielberg & Allen with 7 each and all of them senior citizens).

Some Like It Hot (1959) was nominated for 6 Oscars but not Picture or Actress, damnit

What's your favorite Billy Wilder movie?
It's an amazingly tough question since the man made Double Indemnity (1944), Sunset Boulevard (1950), Some Like It Hot (1959), and The Apartment (1960) all of which will regular pop up on "Best Movies Ever" lists. 

 

Tuesday
Jan072014

DGA Howls for Scorsese, Russell and Three First-Timers

The Directors Guild of America, more commonly referred to as simply DGA, have announced their nominees for the film year, and the expected nominees prevailed… with the possible exception of the final slot, alphabetically and most in doubt, which went to Martin Scorsese for his controversial satire.

The nominees are…


  • Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity (first time DGA nominee)
  • Paul Greengrass, Captain Philllips (first time DGA nominee)
  • Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave (first time DGA nominee)
  • David O. Russell, American Hustle (second DGA nomination though curiously not honored in 2012 when Silver Linings Playbook was all the rage)
  • Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street (12th DGA honor*)

In the past DGA nominees were literally the surest indication of which five movies would be nominated for Oscar’s Best Picture, even moreso than accurate bellweathers of what would happen in the director race itself. But since the upheavals in Academy voting since 2009, it’s tough to say what they mean anymore since Best Picture nominations are so much easier to come by. But whatever it means it is certainly not good news for the Coen brothers (Inside Llewyn Davis), Alexander Payne (Nebraska), or Spike Jonze (Her) all of whom have been nominated by the DGA in previous years.

In the past four years (2009-2012) of the DGA nominations 15 of 20 of their selections went on to be Oscar nominated in the same category with 2012 being famously divisive between the two awards groups – only 2 of the DGA’s choices made it to the Oscar lineup in a real surprise shake-up. But despite those disagreements only 1 of the DGA’s 20 selections in the past four years did NOT receive a Best Picture nomination (David Fincher’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo which won five Oscar nominations and 1 actual statue) so all five of these movies are likely to be Best Picture nominated

… yes, even The Wolf of Wall Street despite the defensive game it’s been playing the media. The Wolf of Wall Street’s current situation has been compared to Zero Dark Thirty’s last year (both here and elsewhere) and Zero Dark Thirty, like Dragon Tattoo, went on to five Oscar nominations and 1 win. So smart money…and by smart money I mean “people who believe in crazy coincidences of Oscar numerology” should expect 5 nominations and one win for Wolf, though not in Best Director and maybe not in Best Picture. In short: we know not a damn thing about how this will play out!

* It’s worth noting that Martin Scorsese is a beloved icon to the Directors Guild of America, having won television, narrative feature, and documentary honors. They’ve been slightly more generous with him over the years than Oscar has. As with Oscar he’s only won their top prize once (also for The Departed) but they’ve given him a lifetime achievement prize as well as nominating him for two pictures that Oscar did not recognize him for: Taxi Driver and The Age of Innocence. The only time the Oscars recognized him when the DGA didn’t was for The Last Tempation of Christ.

Saturday
Jan042014

Amir's Most Anticipated, 2014

Amir here, taking a break from the relentless torrent of lists, think pieces and twitter catfights about everything 2013 to look ahead at the new year.

Making a list of the year’s most anticipated films is always a risky task and there’s little payoff in raising one’s expectations of any film. Predictably so, there isn’t always overlap between what we anticipate and what we actually like when the final product materializes on the screen, but that’s the beauty of the whole thing. There will undoubtedly be disappointments, but in their stead, there will also be pleasant surprises. Of the films that shaped my lineup last year, only three ended up among my top 25 films of the year, but at this moment a year ago, I hadn’t even heard of something like Museum Hours or The Broken Circle Breakdown.

10 Noah (Darren Aronofsky)
Because: the director. The director, I say! The trailer for this biblical epic was mostly disappointing. The CGI looked unconvincing, the dialogue was gratingly cheesy and, as a non-religious man, I find the basic premise of this oft-told story laughable. But who am I kidding? I’m still going to be there on opening day. Darren Aronofsky has (almost) never disappointed and something tells me he’ll find an interesting angle on the most famous of all tales. Plus, I have a fondness for Russell Crowe few can match.

Nine more possible great ones after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Nov302013

Team FYC: Edgar Wright for Best Director

Wright's Feature Filmography: Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and The World's EndIn this series Team Experience sounds off (individually) on their favorite fringe awards contenders. Here's Michael Cusumano on Edgar Wright


Four features into his career it is clear that Edgar Wright is building a body of work that will end up ranking with the greats of film comedy. It is time the Academy recognizes this fact (and their aversion to comedy) and honors The World’s End, his best film to date, with a nomination for Best Director. 

Stop and consider everything Wright's latest film accomplishes, all while staying as light and zippy as classic screwball by the likes of Hawks or Sturges. The World’s End is simultaneously a genre spoof, a farce, a biting social satire, a character study, and a moving comedy about middle-aged friendship. And above all else it’s funny. Wright keeps the pace jumping throughout and unlike other directors he never sacrifices the integrity of the material for a gag.

If the fact that Wright deserves it on the merits isn’t enough to sway voters how about nominating him because of the message it sends about the state of comedy in 2013. Look at the top box office comedy hits for the year. It’s an embarrassment. Identity Thief, Hangover, Grown Ups. Even the few bright spots like The Heat or This is the End still exhibit a “Who cares?” attitude about visuals and screenplay structure and are content to lean on the charisma of the stars and coast on the fundamentals. 

Edgar Wright, on the other hand, holds his film to a standard as high as any prestige Oscar bait and he is in control of every element of every frame of this baby. Everyone is rowing in the same direction on The World’s End, from the quicksilver editing to the witty production design to the cast, including stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost whom Wright guides to career-best performances. That is the stuff of which Best Director nominations should be made.

previous fycs

 

Saturday
Nov092013

AFI: Colin Farrell, "Harbinger of Hope"

Even if this year's AFI Fest in Los Angeles proves to be entirely frontloaded -- I had such a ball on opening day with the Saving Mr Banks festivities --  the trip will have been worth it. My adventure began with an exclusive pre-screening cocktail party with the Saving Mr Banks team where I met Emma Th-- no, no, she gets her own post... I'm still processing that one! For now two quick tidbits about the men.

The men of SAVING MR BANKS (and Emma Thompson, its star)

Director John Lee Hancock, no longer The Rookie on his fourth picture, was standing tall and proud while we chatted over drinks. I don't mean that metaphorically but literally since he towered over me - so tall! Thoughnot intimidating, I must add, what with his warm smile, and alarmingly good manners. We were interrupted while he was telling a story which is so common at cocktail parties that you think nothing of it as the celebrity is whisked off to meet another well-wisher or member of the press. You certainly never expect to hear the ending of the anecdote but he sought me out later to finish it.

I couldn't resist asking The Blind Side director what he thought of Gravity. "My girl, Sandy!" he blurts out, the grin even grinnier. "I haven't seen it yet!" he adds with a touch of surprise and apology. He'll rectify that as soon as his press schedule for Saving Mr Banks lightens up. Next week, he hopes.

A few minutes later I had a brief chat with Colin Farrell, also in very good spirits but that's probably easy when your movie has Best Picture buzz. He plays the alcoholic father of the author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) in flashback, but it's a substantial role since the flashbacks run parallel to the A story of the making of Mary Poppins, a way of illuminating the author's deep personal attachment to her Poppins creations ("they're family") and why she's so hesistant to sell them to Walt Disney. In the Best Supporting Actor Oscar race Farrell is most likely to be overshadowed by Tom Hanks who gets the plum Disney role (or, as Hancock put it an hour later as he introduced his cast at the screening "an icon playing an icon") but I'm personally confident that one day Farrell will get the right role for the Academy to notice his gift (and not just his celebrity). I told him he'd make my list of Hollywood's Most Underappreciated to which he jokingly replied "I'd make my own list of most underappreciated!" 

We ended the conversation reminiscing about his surprise Golden Globe win for In Bruges (2008). I tell him that's one of those rare deserving moments in awards history that pundits and cinephiles like me point too with 'anything is possible!' optimism. "I'M A HARBINGER OF HOPE!" he volleys back.