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Entries in Oscars (11) (332)

Thursday
Aug182011

Foreign Oscar Tracking: South Korea

Korean cinema has really been a hotspot this past decade, what with Kim Ki-Duk (Time, 3-Iron, Spring Summer...), Bong Joon-ho (The Host, Mother, Memories of Murder), Park Chan-wook (Thirst, Oldboy... the upcoming Stoker) and Lee Chang-dong (Poetry, Oasis, Peppermint Candy) winning over critics and Asian film fans quite regularly. South Korea's steady stream of great performances by actresses isn't hurting their rep either... especially not with The Film Experience ;) Just the other day I was skimming over The Housemaid again and, gah, actressy heaven. All four female players were totally working those roles.

The Front Line, Sunny, and Poonsang

So we're curious as to what they'll submit this year.  The Korean Film Commission has narrowed it down to six titles so one of these will be your Oscar contender:

 

  • Poonsan (Juhn Jai-hong) is a romantic drama about a South Korean messenger and his pick-up from North Korea that he's to smuggle across the border. 
  • The Yellow Sea (Na Hong-Jin) is about a gambling addict taxi driver who takes an assassination job to pay off his debts. Trouble follows, naturally.
  • The Front Line (Jang Hoon) The director used to be an assistant director to the great Kim Ki-Duk. Apparently there is now friction between the two of them in regards to the goings on of the Korean film industry. This is a big budgeted war drama taking place in 1951. 
  • Sunny (Kang Hyeong-cheol), is the year's biggest hit in Korea. And -- actress alert! -- it's about a group of girlfriends from school who reunite 25 years later to reminisce. 
  • The Day He Arrives (Hong Sang-soo) is a black and white picture about a man wandering around Seoul, running into friends and ex girlfriends and the like. It played at Cannes.
  • Hanji (or Scooping Up the Moonlight) (Im Kwon-taek) a government employee is assigned to revive the Hanji paper industry and he falls in love with it. Kwon-taek has been submitted once before with Chunhyang (2000)

 

It's tough to say what the Film Council will go for as there are a wide variety of factors in play from homefield success, through international auteur reps, to which films might appeal to AMPAS's sensibility. But the sad truth is that, whatever they choose, it's an uphill battle. Oscar has yet to nominate a Korean film... despite recent submissions as hugely acclaimed and well loved as Oasis (2002), Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring (2003), Secret Sunshine (2007) and Mother (2009).

Have you caught up with recent Korean successes like Mother, Poetry (my review), The Host or The Housemaid

Oscar Pages for Foreign Film Submission Lists

Tuesday
Aug162011

Foreign Oscar Track: Israel and Norway

Two more countries, neither of which have ever won the Foreign Film Prize in Hollywood, have announced their finalists lists.

We'll take Norway first since it's less popular with Oscar (5 nominations) and because I stand humbly before you to say I was wrong. My conjecture about what might be submitted -- other than the new Joachim Trier -- was quite wobbly. The three finalists are not the biggies from the Amanda awards but Joachim Trier’s Oslo, August 31st (Oslo, 31. august) which we briefly discussed, Anne Sewitsky’s Happy, Happy (Sykt lykkelig) and Jens Lien’s Sons of Norway (Sønner av Norge). While Trier has the highest international profile, that doesn't always equate with submission choice. Happy Happy is a very frisky marital comedy (I ♥ the trailer) and Sons of Norway is a punk rock coming of age film that even features a cameo from Sex Pistol Johnny Rotten. Neither of the trailers are subtitled and both feature nudity but if you want to see them they're here: Happy Happy and Sons of Norway.

Award winning filmmaker Joseph CedarIsrael, which has been nominated nine times (and thrice consecutively in recent years), just announced the nominees for their Oscars, the Ophir Awards.  This is always the list they pull from for their Best Foreign Language Film submission so it's probably going to be the 13 times nominated (whew) frontrunner Joseph Cedar's Footnote which played at Cannes winning the Screenplay award but garnering somewhat mixed reviews. It's about feuding father and son professors at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Writer/director Joseph Cedar, who was actually born here in New York City, was previously nominated for the soldier drama Beaufort (2007). 

But if there's a dark horse submission it'll be one of these four: Yossi Madmoni's Restoration, Nadav Lapid's Policeman (Ha-Shoter) Marco Carmel's My Lovely Sister or Maya Kenig's Off White Lies... all of which are more difficult to find info on then the Norwegian films at this point.

Slowly Evolving Oscar Foreign Film Pages Are Here.

Sunday
Aug142011

Melissa Harris-Perry and "The Help"

I fear that I may have to retitle the blog "The Help Experience" but that's okay. This kind of happens when Oscar contenders show up and get everyone talking. Soon there will be more of them and The Help won't hog so much attention.

If you haven't yet read my review, do that please (they don't write themselves!) but today I wanted to discuss Melissa Harris-Perry's righteous fury at the movie (There is a lot of this going around which Sasha Stone discussed recently though Perry was never mentioned).

For those of you who don't Perry she's a professor of political science at Tulane University, her new book "Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes and Black Women in America" just came out, and she's regularly on political programs as a talking head.  She's also one of the smartest people alive. Every time she's on television I swoon. When her segments are over I often feel as if the fog has cleared from the subject under scrutiny, her commentary is so perceptive and accessible. Gender, race and politics of the South are kind of her thing so, naturally, she HATED The Help. But she was amusing about it so I thought I'd share her disgruntled tweets.

They're not as incisive and genius as her political commentary but 140 characters, y'know. Read on!

Click to read more ...

Friday
Aug122011

This & That: Pop Songs, Oscar Campaigns, Carnage Poster

Bill Pullman's new roleAV Club is success spoiling AMC? More rumors and commentary on the increasingly troubled network of Mad Men and Breaking Bad.
Macleans also reacts to this 'blame Mad Men' meme going around
i09 expresses shock that Bill Pullman is so amazing as a creepy motivational speaker/murderer on Torchwood: Miracle Day. I haven't seen it yet because we don't get Starz but Bill Pullman can do anything. Why are people surprised? Oh, right. Nobody goes to the theater. Pullman's performance on Broadway in The Goat: Or, Who Is Sylvia? is one of the greatest performances I've ever seen, I kid you not. (pun!) The movie roles obviously didn't challenge him enough.

The Hairpin has an interview with Kate Beaton who writes what may be my favorite webcomic "Hark, A Vagrant!"
Cinema Blend I was just talking about Patrick Wilson to a friend last night and bingo: today there's news that he's joined the cast of Ridley Scott's Prometheus. I should talk about actors who don't get enough good parts every night before I sleep so they'll be cast the next morning.
Inside Movies A story that the web will undoubtedly love: Andrew Garfield on the size of Spider-Man's package.

Oooh, lookie. It's the first poster for Roman Polanski's Carnage.

That's a weird loud poster but at least it's interesting. The moody faces are kind of an interesting way to get at the play's rollercoaster tonal shifts and convey that it's an actor's piece.

The Campaigning Begins
Gold Derby is already claiming the Best Actor Oscar for Leonardo DiCaprio in J Edgar. We'll see. Believe it or not he's still kind of young to win an Oscar. They make the men wait, you know. Different rules for men. Although I suppose it helps that he didn't turn out as elfin gorgeous as he looked like he might back in the days of his youth. Oscar likes his women drop dead gorgeous but doesn't like his men too purty. Just ask Paul Newman how long he had to wait. Or Brad Pitt who still hasn't won.
IndieWire Glenn Close to receive the lifetime achievement award at the San Sebastian Film Festival. Festival honors of the career variety are a standard stop on the way to would be Oscar glory. 
Just Jared just posted this promotional pic of Michelle Williams for My Week With Marilyn but labelled it a "still". If it's really a still in the proper sense than the movie is taking some adventurous chances with its look. 

For Laughs... Movie|Line is listing four reimaginings of princess movies that it never wants to see.

And in other news... True Blood has been renewed for a fifth season. Yay! Get caught up on The Film Experience commentary

Best Song of the 1980s?

Music makes the people come together.... yeah  
Critical Condition's Ultimate Pop Song Tournament has come down to the final four: Madonna's "Like a Prayer" (89), Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" (84), Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" (82) and Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" (81) This has been such fun for the past few weeks and it also just goes to show you how classic the 1980s are in the cultural canon since songs from other decades were eligible. You already know who I voted for, duh. Go and vote yourselves. May your favorite win... unless it's different than mine.
Boy Culture conjecture about Madonna's upcoming schedule
Examiner DC This is a good piece on the music industry's ability to keep the public interested in the classics, and the film industry's inability to do the same. A provocative mystery, that, right?

 

Friday
Aug122011

Oscar Predix Updates: Costumes, Make-Up, Visual F/X, Sound

Have you seen the Vanity Fair gallery of costumes from Madonna's W.E. designed by Arianne Phillips? Will she be Oscar nominated this year? Hmmmm.

James D'Arcy and Andrea Riseborough modelling the costumes

That's always a tough call given that the costume branch of the Academy sometimes goes their own way entirely, embracing films no one else cares about or have forgotten, and sometimes they just stick with general Oscar buzz or their default choices (Seriously you won't find someone who loves Sandy Powell more than me but that Tempest nomination was ri-dic-u-lous).

Here are my newly updated predictions in the visual categories.

Testify Leo!You'll notice that I've also added J. Edgar to the predicted Make Up Nominees but it wasn't because of this official still of Leonardo DiCaprio. Why then? Well, it was the accompanying text in Entertainment Weekly which read. 

The movie traces Hoover's life from his childhood in Washington, D.C., through his ascent to power in the 1920s, his 50-year reign over the FBI, and his death in 1972 — with Leonardo DiCaprio donning prosthetic makeup to portray the man well into his bulldog-like elderly years.

Prosthetic makeup. Bulldog-like. Elderly. DingDingDing. Though, really before I get to settled on this prediction I need to recall my own words on the Make-Up branch within the Academy. I just copy and paste this every year onto my charts because it never ceases to be true.

About the Make Up Category

Nearly impossible to predict... even up until the last moment. They like werewolf movies except when they don't. They love Rick Baker except when they don't. They admire old age makeup except when they don't. They eliminate films with extensive CGI work except when they don't. They never vote based on awesome period hairpieces and makeup (though that's part of the equation) except when they do. They disapprove of multiple nominations for the same series except when they don't. It's almost as if their membership is entirely dismissed and reformed from scratch each year.

 But back to J. Edgar. I must say that synopsis signals that I have official worry for the movie.  Covering fifty years in someone's life usually means the very traditional kind of biopic. The kind that is all "....and then this happened and then this happened and then this happened", the Greatest Hits Biopics. Those are always the least focused and the most boring kind of biopics. 

Visual Category Prediction Updates
Aural Category Prediction Updates
Unfortunately there's still many films that have not announced their composer so Original Score punditry is still nothingness.

You'll notice that Rise of the Planet of the Apes suddenly, well, rises in Sound categories and Visual FX. (Once films start showing themselves these things always change.) In visual effects in particular it's obviously become the instant frontrunner. You know that Andy Serkis's trailblazing motion capture acting will help the FX team win, though the FX team will not help Andy Serkis get recognition. It doesn't go both ways, though I think we can all agree that they make a beautiful team.