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Entries in Spotlight (46)

Sunday
Jan032016

National Society of Film Critics: Love for Spotlight, Carol, Creed....

The last important critics awards have been announced and in the week of Oscar nomination voting too. Though they went with many of the names that have previously mentioned at other stops, they made one particularly welcome new call in Michael B Jordan as Best Actor? But are Oscar voters still looking for suggestions? When you've got a field as potentially anemic as this year's Best Actor race where no one seems all that enthused about the very famous probabilities, dig a little deeper. It can only help! The NSFC, formed in 1966 and the third most important US critics group outside of NYFCC and LAFCA (yes some members overlap since "National" includes multiple cities) spread the wealth. Only Spotlight and Carol took more than one prize. 

The winners and runners up are after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Jan032016

Who Will Be This Year's "Out-of-Nowhere" Oscar Nominee? 

Coco here, ready to talk about the current Oscar race and the surprises that might pop up.

Last week, we discussed SAG's bizarre taste. The math works against it but we're desperately hoping the Academy breaks free of their influence. Perhaps we should focus our hope on a recent wave of surprising, "out-of-nowhere" nominations at the Oscars.  Ever since 2011 (the year the Academy turned Best Picture into a flexible category with as little as 5 and as many as 10 nominees), there's been at least one acting nominee that landed on Oscar's list without being previously nominated at either the Golden Globes, SAG, or BAFTA.

Here are the stats...

2011 - The shocking inclusion of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close in Best Picture came with the legendary Max von Sydow in tow for his mute performance in Best Supporting Actor. 

2012 - Everyone was surprised by the amount of support Silver Linings Playbook had considering the supporting Actress nomination for Jacki Weaver. (Various precursors had usually included Nicole Kidman in the divisive Lee Daniels film The Paperboy or random shout outs to Dames Judi Dench (Skyall) and Maggie Smith (Marigold Hotel) and even the then lesser known Ann Dowd (who was pitched as supporting in Compliance though she had the film's central role). It's also hard to remember now, but Quvenzhané Wallis had none of the big three precursor nominations before she made the Best Actress line-up for Beasts of the Southern Wild (though she was included at Critics Choice and at the Spirit Awards)

2013 & 2014 stats. Plus 2015 speculation after the jump... 

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Dec312015

Don't Forget About Michael Keaton

Greetings from Chris, wishing you all a Happy New Year! And a Happy Voting to Academy members finally filling out their nomination ballots. With plenty of FYC blurbs out on the internet proclaiming personal favorites outside of the race, I want to talk about someone much more obvious that's somehow missing out on the love: Michael Keaton in Spotlight.

Of course, he's winning attention as part of Spotlight's ensemble, but it's a headscratcher that he missed nominations from SAG, the Globes, and BFCA. Even various regional critics groups are favoring Mark Ruffalo to single out. The potential reasons for Keaton's omission (too much competition from his own film, category confusion, the notion he doesn't have a "scene") feel petty given the gravitas and soulfulness he brings to the narrative.

Some say Spotlight lacks threat or conflict, that the big, bad church we keep hearing will put their weight on the Boston Globe for their investigations never actually does. But what Spotlight is really about is getting the story right and facing up to our own culture of ignorance and the times we've looked the other way. All of that is perfectly embodied by the resurgent Keaton. It's not just that he's the member of the ensemble that has the clearest arc, but the grace to which he fills Walter "Robby" Robinson with regret and anger. Ruffalo's "scene" allows that actor a catharsis that Keaton's coiled disposition doesn't receive until the final moment when his team's efforts are shown to have an effect on the lives of victims.

The performance is a study gentlemanly rage. He underplays every scene where he is calling for justice, filling silences with loaded pauses and a judging stare that fuels the film's angry undercurrent. If you think he doesn't have a showy moment, rewatch any time wherein he studies the layers of spin and bullshit delivered by Billy Crudup's sleaveball lawyer and tell me that Spotlight's central conflict isn't right there on Keaton's expressive face. Where Birdman allowed him to run wild with mannered anxiety and deep well of emotion, Spotlight serves us the actor at his confident and naturalistic best.

Following the Birdman miss, it's particularly odd that Keaton is on the outside of the nomination conversation. Best Supporting Actor often favors combacks from older actors and previous losers, so you think he'd be a plum candidate to ride the past year's momentum in a Best Picture frontrunner at that. He'll soon return to leading roles in John Lee Hancock's McDonalds biopic The Founder, but don't let the opportunity to reward some of his best work pass you by!

Thursday
Dec242015

THR's Screenwriter Roundtable

Chris here. I hope you're having a relaxing and safe holiday weekend!

Earlier this week, hiding among the constant updates on the reams of money The Force Awakens is floating in, we got this year's Screenwriters Roundtable! You'll remember from November that we had some feelings about this year's Actress Roundtable and I'll confess that I found this year's Actor Roundtable underwhelming in lineup and discussion. However, the Screenwriters edition is often the loosest and freshest each year - with its selected participants typically on point.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Dec212015

Best of '15: Co-Star Chemistry, the Great Intangible 

These are the 15 relationships that really crackled for us on screen this year with an electric snap... or familial/platonic warmth... or sexual combustibility... or tense reserve ... or  lived-in authenticity ...or any combo thereof depending on what the relationship called for. Kudos to the actors, directors, screenwriters, and casting directors who all obviously contributed to capture lightning in a bottle. The following examples of screen chemistry told us so much about the characters within the story and sometimes outside of it from long before the events of the movie or projecting out after the narrative. Do I find it troubling that the SAG and BFCA nominations for Best Ensemble avoided ALL of these films save Spotlight? Why, yes --- yes I do! Thanks for asking. 

Note: I opted not to include Carol in the list primarily because the obsession is too strong and every single relationship in the movie is fascinating (yes even Therese & Richard's! Even Harge & Abby who only get one scene together) and it wouldn't be fair to the other pictures with its web of relationships, new, old, soured, fresh, complicated and all superbly rendered. Joy, which is better than the initial response suggests, also has fine pockets of chemistry within a bustling cast (something David O. Russell excels at) but I couldn't settle on any one relationship.

The list is presented without commentary... but for what you have to say in the comments. 

15 Sylvester Stallone & Michael B Jordan in Creed (trainer/trainee and surrogate something)

14 more couplings after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Dec092015

SAG Ensemble -- Everyone's Nominated... Except for You! 

Happy SAG NOMINATION DAY! It's time for our glorious depressing tradition of trying to convince a UNION that they ought to look into slightly different rules that are less likely to devalue their dues paying members. Each year when the SAG ensemble nominees are announced the list of actual nominees from the films reveal that non-big name actors are routinely excluded. The problem is that the size of your fame doesn't always correlate with your role and the bulk of SAG's membership is non-famous actors.  If you're curious about why this happens it's due to the rules that you have to have your own title card to be considered part of the official ensemble. In other words you need to a) be famous or b) have a really good agent or c) have the leading role. The only exception to this rule is when the credits don't follow the normal rules. For example Woody Allen movies always list the cast alphabetically on a shared title card. In those cases, you have to be on the first title card to make it in which is why Corey Stoll, who gave the best performance in Midnight in Paris, was left out that year. He wasn't famous enough yet to be on the first page of credits. Now he tends to get his own title card. 

So let's look at who was honored and who was mistreated this morning by the group nominations.

BEASTS OF NO NATION
Nominated Cast: Abraham Attah, Idris Elba, Kurt Egyiawan (as "2nd I-C")

Who was left out: Just about everyone which makes it the strangest nomination of the group. Does three make an ensemble?  I have not yet seen the film -- child soldier dramas are a subgenre I avoid like the plague since they're mentally scarring -- but I hear that Emmanuel Nii Adom Quaye who plays "Strika" is quite good in the movie. 

more after the jump...

Click to read more ...

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