Oscar History

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Entries in Oscars (11) (332)


Steven Spielberg Cuts to the Chase

Editor's Note: Yonatan, a reader who we profiled a couple of months ago, wanted to sound off on an interesting aspect of Spielberg's career. Given the recent release of the The Adventures of TinTin teaser and it's international counterpart (included below) as well as the ongoing discussions of Oscars troubled relationship with motion capture animation, it's good timing.

So here is Yonatan...

Christmas is All Spielberg All The Time this year

Steven Spielberg has two movies coming out this year, a twin trick he's performed five other times: 1989, 1993, 1997, 2002 and 2005. Christmas break brings us The Adventures of TinTin: The Secret of the Unicorn and a week later on December 28th, War Horse opens.

The TinTin Teaser (International)

Yes No or Maybe So ? ;)

Aside from Spielberg's trusted collaborative team (composer John Williams, editor Michael Kahn, cinematographer Janusz Kaminski and the rest), his reliably huge box office results, his male protagonists, and child actors in lead or prominently featured roles, what other commonality do we often see in his work?

Here's one to consider...

If you want Spielberg to direct your script, have an element of chase in it. From his TV movie Duel, his megahits Jaws and E.T., the Indiana Jones franchise, through the two movies starring Tom Cruise and Catch Me If You Can (the title alone!), Spielberg's characters have been on the run. They've been out of breath for four decades. Where are they going? Who is chasing them? Why?

DUEL (1971 TV movie, released theatrically in Europe) A truck driver chases down a driver who had the nerve of passing him.

THE SUGARLAND EXPRESS (1974) Lou Jean and her husband Clovis (Goldie Hawn and William Atherton), an escaped convict, on the run from the law, chased by dozens of police cars.

JAWS (1975) After a shark and a police captain (Roy Shrieder) run people out of the water, three men (including the police captain) go after the killer shark.

RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981) The search for the lost coven of god. A big boulder chases Indiana Jones, our adventurous archeologist, right to the hands of his enemies, who chase him all the way to his awaiting seaplane, etc. Includes a chase in the crowded streets of Cairo.

E.T. (1982) The government is after the kids hiding the long-fingered alien who just wants to go home. Cue bicycle chase.

INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM (1984) It's one chase after another kicking off with Indy's frenzy to find the antidote to his poisoning, then the leap from a plane - snowy slope - river rapids sequence and finally the Sankara Stones and a chase on mine car tracks.

INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE (1989) The search for the holy grail. Nazis once again. Chases on boats, biplanes and tanks.

HOOK (1991) The boy who never grows up grew up to be Robin Williams. Peter Pan returns to Neverland after Captain Hook kidnaps his children. And the crocodile still haunts Captain Hook with his ticking stomach.

JURASSIC PARK (1993) The dinosaurs cut loose and it's a two-way chase: Dinosaurs vs. Humans, Humans vs. Dinosaurs. As is the case in the horrible sequel THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK (1997).

SAVING PRIVATE RYAN (1998) Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) and troupe race to find a single soldier (Matt Damon) behind enemy lines in WW2.

A.I. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (2001) Android David (Haley Joel Osment) joins Gigolo Joe (Jude Law) who is running from the police on murder charges, and they seek the Blue Fairy.

CATCH ME IF YOU CAN (2002) FBI agent Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks) chases conman Frank Abagnale Jr. (Leonardo DiCaprio).

MINORITY REPORT (2002) John Anderton (Tom Cruise) is continually on the run after being charged with a murder he has yet to commit.

MUNICH (2005) The hunt for the murderers of 11 Israeli athletes in the 1972 Olympic games in Munich.

WAR OF THE WORLDS (2005) Ray (Cruise again) and his kids run from murderous killing machines from outer space.

Spielberg loves a good chase

INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL (2008) Harrison Ford, no stranger to marathon runs (see also The Fugitive) is continually on the run when he's playing the world's most famous fictional anthropologist. This is the only movie in the franchises that I've seen but once but I remember a chase involving jeeps in the jungle.

In Saving Stablemate Joey AKA WAR HORSE, a horse named Joey is sold to the cavalry and sent to France. Albert, too young to enlist, goes out to save his horse (Matt Damon?) behind enemy lines in WWI.

And TIN TIN? We'll see. Did I miss any chases in these other pictures? 1941, Close Encounters, The Color Purple, Empire of the Sun, Always, Schindler's List, The Terminal?

Though Spielberg is not at prolific as Clint Eastwood or Woody Allen, he is known as a speedy director. He likes to shoot in more than one setting a day and apart from possibly Jaws (?) he finishes his movies ahead of schedule. Take War of the Worlds for an example of his post-production speed. Filming wrapped in March and the movie was in theaters by June! despite being heavy on the visual effects. This sense of urgency comes through in his movies, which could be one reason he's such a strong action director (I'd argue he's better with action than drama).

Spielberg's cameo in The Blues Brothers

Even when Spielberg isn't directing, he's producing big budget tent poles -- many with chase elements, even non-human ones like Twister (storm-chasing!). Even his rare cameo in The Blues Brothers fits in: he ends the police chase after the brothers.

Always on the run, the search and chase continue.


The Harvey Girl.

 Jose here with one for all of you Streep obsessives.... which is, hmmm, 88% of TFE readers? Last week The Weinstein Company acquired distribution rights for Meryl Streep's Margaret Thatcher movie The Iron Lady. Apparently Harvey Weinstein was so impressed with Meryl (duh?) that he just had to have this movie.

What does this mean in terms of Oscar? Meryl probably has it in the bag. Consider: Back in the glory days of Miramax, Meryl was nominated for Music of the Heart (one of the most forgettable performances in her oeuvre) and people like Émilie Dequenne, Julia Roberts, Cecilia Roth and Nicole Kidman were snubbed. Meryl had no chance of winning that year but still...

Fast forward nine years and Meryl was back to represent Miramax with Doubt. Difference is that by then, the company had nothing to do with the Weinsteins and Harvey was hard at work getting Kate Winslet her Oscar. Meryl was inarguably the runner-up that calendar year but it would be interesting to think how things might have gone, had Harvey been pushing Meryl and not Kate. Let's not forget that back in 01, Miramax (under Harvey) won Jim Broadbent an Oscar for Iris, in the year of Gandalf and Don Logan.

Harvey Weinstein is as much of an Oscar obsessive as we are and 2011 marks the 30th anniversary of Meryl Streep's first Best Actress nomination (The French Lieutenant's Woman). Will he be using this as an angle in his campaign?

Current Best Actress Chart (next update when Cannes concludes)
Streep Posts and Old Streep Posts


Cannes Check: "The Artist" Charms and Endears

Alex here (Nathaniel's back tomorrow).

Cannes has its first darling. My eye has been on The Artist ever since it was announced to join the competition at Cannes this year (I love when they add latecomers. It feels like it'll be a ringer for sure).  From filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius of the amazingly hilarious OSS:117 films (best spy spoofs ever!), this movie has garnered a lot of buzz since its screening last night.  With a cast that includes Jean Dujardin (star of the OSS:117 series), James Cromwell, and John Goodman among others, no wonder this film was snatched up by The Wienstein Company before its premiere.  Harvey even called the film, " a delicate flower."  Sensitive guy, eh?

Todd Macarthy, Guy Lodge, Indiewire and pretty much every review gush about its homage to the silent and golden eras of filmmaking, but emphasize how it's so much more.  Sasha Stone of Awards Daily had this particularly sweet closing comment in her review.

But as the credits rolled for The Artist I already knew I didn’t want it to end. I knew that I didn’t want the lights to come up and I certainly didn’t want to face the world outside. I had no idea it still existed: The magic of the movies.

Dave Karger of Entertainment Weekly is the first to start speculating on its Ocscar chances.  Cannes isn't even over yet! I guess with the Wiensteins backing it, it is a fair question.   Can't wait to see it. Us regular folk will just have to settle for the trailer for now. 

 People have also pegged the canine costar as a shoe for the Palm D'og. Yes, its real, people.


This & That: Ryder, Swank, Clooney, Allen

Buzzfeed has "20 celebrities who used to be hot" which is mildly amusing but at least a couple of the choices are people who still definitely have it goin' on -- hi, Helen Mirren! -- so deduct points for ageism.
MovieCityNews asked you to rank all of Woody Allen's films
New York Times Glowing Sutton Foster profile. Love her. Is Tony #2 coming in June? Anything Goes.

Vulture this brief piece on Winona Ryder's co-starring role with James Franco in The Stare is almost amusingly vague with a capital V. It tells you nothing. Neither will Noni!
Art of the Title Sequence YAY. I've been hoping for this. They've interviewed Angus Wall (who TFE interviewed round Oscar time) on the opening credits to HBO's Game of Thrones.

Ultimate Addict wonders which George Clooney effort will hit with Oscar: The Ides of March or The Descendants. If you're curious my next Oscar chart update will be directly after Cannes. No time for it this week. Busy busy.
Anne Thompson briefly checks in with Hilary Swank on her new role as a producer (Something Borrowed). Sayeth La Swank:

I don't read reviews.

Girl, maybe you should. You know, if you're going to be on the filmmaking side of the equation. Just a thought (It's a pet peeve of mine when stars act like they're above reviews. You can a learn a lot from film criticism, provided that the critic is a good one.)


We Need To Link About Kevin

Given that many of you are on pins and needles about the new Tilda Swinton tour de force (no, we haven't seen it. But it's getting easier and easier to assume given her recent track record) We Need To Talk About Kevin...

Critics aren't tossing tomatoes but bouquets to Tilda in "We Need To Talk About Kevin"

Given that I have been weirdly unwilling to post the multiplying clips out there (I get in these moods where I don't wanna know see anything for movies I'm especially looking forward to) I should cave enough to link up to the raves. Perhaps you don't share my sudden unwillingness to read anything longer than a twitter length review for movies you can't see yet. Too many critics -- even the best ones! -- no longer worry about spoiling the experience in crucial ways.

Ezra Miller ("Kevin"), Tilda, the incredible Lynne Ramsay and Reilly in CannesMorvern Callar, the last Lynne Ramsay film, was way back in 2002, so add Ramsay to that "slowpokes" list of directors we were discussing. That earlier film with an indelible mysterious performance from Samantha Morton was such a startling and visceral experience that I want to experience We Need To Talk About Kevin in the same way. Which is to say, I'm going in cold!

But if you're less nervous -- MUBI has a collection of the raves. Might we see Tilda Swinton picking up "best actress" but zero Oscar attraction (you know how they ignore her brilliance 95% of the time)? Time will tell. In roughly two weeks and then again in the winter when precursor season kicks in.

Have any of you read the book this film is based on?


Waif vs. Waif: Mia Wasikowska vs. Saoirse Ronan

[This guest post is from Ester Bloom, recently reader-spotlighted. She and I were speaking off-blog about how much we missed the old shuttered website Fame Tracker. Ester whipped up this homage to one of their best series "Two Stars: One Slot". We hope you enjoy. -Nathaniel R.]

Battle of the Stars With Unpronouncable Names

Mia & Saoirse on May 2nd, 2011 at the Met Costume Gala

Saoirse (“Sur-shuh”) Ronan and Mia Wasikowska (“Vash-i-kov-ska”) burst upon the scene at roughly the same time: In 2007, S. Ronan lent much-needed eeriness to Joe Wright’s Atonement in her first major role and received an Academy Award nomination. In 2008, Mia W. elevated both the HBO series “In Treatment” and the Daniel Craig vehicle Defiance, earning a place as one of Variety magazine’s “Actresses to Watch” in the process.

Since then, neither actress has sat on her hands. S. Ronan gave critics something to praise about Peter Jackson’s misconceived but lush adaptation of The Lovely Bones. Mia W. brought gravitas to Tim Burton’s misconceived but lush adaptation of Alice in Wonderland and helped made 2010 The Year of the Teenage Virgin with her role as the daughter in Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids Are All Right.

Mia W. skipped ahead with a career-defining turn as the fierce, independent, young star of Jane Eyre, matching the intensity of Michael Fassbender. S. Ronan caught up by embodying another titular character: the fierce, independent, young star of Hanna, where she matched the intensity of Eric Bana and Cate Blanchett.

Mia as "Jane Eyre" & Saoirse as "Hanna"

Both parchment-skinned, fiery-eyed women hail from the former British Empire: though S. Ronan was born in New York, she was raised in Ireland, and Mia W. is from Canberra, Australia. They are only five years apart in age, and in many ways they could be sisters: they share a self-possession and a grace not easily found among Hollywood starlets. (Try to imagine either of them falling out of a limo, half-dressed.)

But where do they go from here? S. Ronan appears later this year in another popcorn flick about teenage assassins called Violet and Daisy directed by Geoffrey Fletcher (an Oscar winner for the screenplay of Precious). It could be good—Hanna is good, anxiety-inducing fun—but the presence of Alexis Bledel as a co-star doesn’t inspire confidence. After that, S. Ronan will return to form (and to screen with Cate Blanchett) in another, hopefully better, Peter Jackson vehicle, The Hobbit.  

Mia W. has chosen a more indie route, joining the crew of Gus Van Sant’s Restless and Rodrigo Garcia’s Albert Nobbs, as well as several other small-budget projects. 

Both of these steely sylphs have it in them to succeed despite their tongue-twisting names. Who has the edge? S. Ronan’s Hanna scared the bejesus out of audiences and Manohla Dargis, and she is already one of the youngest actresses to get an Oscar nomination; she has proven she can play to the mainstream and to art houses. Mia W. could manage a Best Actress nod this year for Jane Eyre and has plenty of other roles that will be catnip to Oscar on the horizon, but she hasn’t yet proven her box office chops. We have faith in both and this could easily be a draw, but Mia W., with more serious projects coming up, gets the edge.

Advantage: Mia W.