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Entries in Oscars (12) (288)

Sunday
Nov112012

Interview: On 'Head Games' and Reshaping Oscar's Doc Branch with Steve James

Amir here. With an unusually large number of high profile contenders and a recent overhaul in the branch’s voting system, the documentary category is sure to be one of the exciting races at the Oscars this year. There are a few films firmly in the conversation already, but I recently caught up with a contender that has curiously slipped under the radar despite the talent involved.

Head Games, the newest from Steve James (Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters) is based on a book by former WWE wrestler Chris Nowinski and takes on the issue of concussion in contact sports, a topic that is increasingly discussed among Football and Hockey enthusiasts in particular. James goes back to a more traditional structure in setting up his film with many talking head interviews and archival footage, but the end result is unexpectedly moving. Given the prevalence of these injuries in athletes, from kids who play Football or Soccer on a regular basis at school to the professionals of NFL and NHL, it’s a film that will be emotionally involving for a lot of people. I choked up a few times.

James’s history with the Oscars is well-known: despite universal critical acclaim, both aforementioned titles were snubbed by the Academy, not to mention his other powerful films. He was nominated in the editing category for Hoop Dreams, but it will be a big moment whenever he finally scores his first nomination for best documentary. On the occasion of the film’s qualifying release, I had the opportunity to chat with him about the film, his passion for sports, the Oscars, and the documentary branch’s new voting system.

 Steve James, the director of Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters and now Head GamesINTERVIEW, OSCARS & EBERT AFTER THE JUMP

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Nov102012

"Rise of the Guardians" Begins Its Oscar Push

This morning, very bright and early, MOMI unveiled their new exhibit "The Art of Rise of the Guardians" with an accompanying film series on the Best of Dreamworks Animation. A museum exhibit is definitely a way to announce that you are Serious For Real and not just for, you know, for kids. Methinks Dreamworks Animation wants their third Animated Feature Oscar. 

And hey, this year's Oscar is totally up for grabs. Sure Wreck-It Ralph might be the one to beat unless the Cult of Pixar regathers for Brave but it's hardly a done deal this early in the toon throwdown.

Related Oscar Chart

The only two things I could think staring at this beautiful image above is 

  1. I have to see this exhibit! and...
  2. Wouldn't the (admittedly unseen) movie have been more awesome if it actually looked like this image above --- so graphically compelling and painterly and not like it does with the semi generic 3D modelled CGI?

Who do you think has the edge in the Animated Feature Race?

Friday
Nov092012

Animated Short Oscar Race ~ The Great Winnowing

The fifty-six wide list of Oscar semi-finalists previously announced has been narrowed down to just ten lucky films. Half of these (or less) will go on to win the insanely coveted title of "Oscar Nominee".

They are...

Adam and Dog (Minkyu Lee)
Combustible (Katsuhiro Otomo)
Dripped (Léo Verrier)
The Eagleman Stag (Mikey Please)
The Fall of the House of Usher (Raul Garcia)
Fresh Guacamole (PES) 
Head Over Heels (Timothy Reckart)
Maggie Simpson in 'The Longest Daycare' (David Silverman)
Paperman (John Kahrs)
Tram (Michaele Pavlátová) 

The list is notable for: the absence of Pixar, which usually has a showpony in this race, though Paperman represents for Disney; nudity since Tram is comically erotic and the Adam of Adam and Dog is the first man; the absence of any previous winners -- only Michaela Pavlátová has been Oscar nominated previously! It'll be a first time for anyone who wins and maybe for all who are nominated.  

You can see photos and read more about these on our Animated Predictions Chart. Reviews coming soon for the films we can get our hands on...

Thursday
Nov082012

Hedlund Owns The Road

Michael C. here.  Walter Salles’s big-screen adaptation of Kerouac’s On the Road is set for limited release December 21, but I fear that if people aren't buzzing about this one before Christmas then there's a real risk that one of the year’s best performances will be lost amid talk of Hobbits and show tunes sung live on set. So to prevent that happening I’m going to get the ball rolling right now: Garrett Hedlund deserves to be nominated for Best Supporting Actor.

FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION

Sam Riley may be the lead as Kerouac stand-in Sal Paradise, but the character is something of a cipher, passive and observant and taking notes the whole time. As Dean Moriarty, based on beat generation figure Neal Cassady, Hedlund has the star part. He drives the action. He is the guy who everyone talks about when he’s off-screen and is the unquestioned center of attention when on-screen. It's a daunting role. Hedlund needs to make Moriarty a solipsistic, libido-driven egomaniac that makes a wreck of all his relationships while at the same time have him be so irresistibly brilliant and charming that we believe it when all the other characters are attracted to him despite this behavior. It’s not for nothing that Kerouac originally wanted Marlon Brando for the role. 

Hedlund delivers big on all these counts and makes it all seem effortless. In one electric scene he lets fly with an impromptu monologue about a party that evolved into a bizarre orgy, and you can feel the whole story skipping right off the surface of Dean's Benzedrine-addled mind. 

Any film of On the Road is going to rise or fall based on the character of Dean. The character embodies all the novels romantic deals about the excitement of the open highway as well as the story's tragic grace notes when the road trip ends. That this adaptation works as well as it does suggests that voters need to find room among all the beloved veterans for one of 2012's breakout stars. 

The Best Supporting Actor Race

Monday
Nov052012

Review: "Flight"

This review was originally published in my column at Towleroad

Captain Whip

No one can fly a plane like Captain Whip (Denzel Washington). Unfortunately no one can drink like him either. Within the first fifteen or so minutes of Flight, the new drama from Robert Zemeckis, Whip has already downed multiple vodkas, beers, and at least one line of coke. He's high before lift-off; this bender is all on the morning he's piloting 104 souls on a commercial aircraft to Atlanta.

Whip gives drunk driving a whole new vertical meaning.

Captain Whip's flight is, unfortunately, doomed. The unusual crash is very well shot and edited -- a real armrest grabber and apparently it is possible to fly a plane inverted! In the aftermath Whip, his co-workers, multiple lawyers and moneyed executives are engaged in the very tense and very high-stakes legal battle as to the why the plane went down.

"Why?" is an open ended question so let's ask a more specific one...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Nov052012

Free Association: "Sandy" & The Impossible

You may have noticed that The Impossible has been fading on my Oscar charts these past couple of months. I always thought it a chancy Oscar prospect. Though it's undeniably technically impressive -- I'm not sure I want to know what Naomi Watts had to go through to film the tsunami scenes -- and emotionally compelling if you can get past its blonde privileged whiteness in a Thailand-set disaster epic. But its profile also seems quite low for a potentially major player. Summit is either planning a mega-blitz at the tail end of the year (a risky strategy with several giants opening at Christmas) or they're too busy rubbing their hands together gleefully whilst awaiting those Breaking Dawn Part 2 dollars to remember that they have an inspirational drama to push!

But lately I've been wondering if Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath might turn people off of The Impossible. More... 

Click to read more ...