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Entries in The Tree of Life (31)

Wednesday
Jun012011

Oscar June Predix Update. What We Know Now...

... can fit into a thimble or a wee baby's hand. Sometimes by May's end one or two fairly-sure things have become clear, but the closest we have to that, still, is Rango in the animated film department. Old news.

What did the Month of May teach us suggest to us?


1. The Weinsteins, who finally won their first post-Miramax "Best Picture"  with The King's Speech, will not likely be satiated by that triumph. It'll just make them hungry for another. They have been beefing up their competitive slate. They either have faith in both Phyllida Lloyd's Thatcher bio The Iron Lady (which sounds typically "prestige" enough for Oscar play, even if it turns out dull) and the crowdpleaser The Artist (which sounds accessible enough for Oscar play, despite being a silent film) or they didn't want anyone else to have one or both of them. You never know with them. And you won't know till the last minute; the Weinsteins are notoriously patient about waiting it out, either because they like to see what the awards air is like, or just because they believe more strongly in the "ONLY DECEMBER!" Oscar strategy than any other distributor. We'll find out more about their plan towards the end of the year. 

2. Cannes elevated the intriguing possibility of Kirsten Dunst Best Actress traction for Melancholia -- something we've long hoped for for one of our favorite actresses -- but what's yet more delicious than her Cannes win is the myriad ways this could play out with a complicated mix of voting factors (actual high quality performance, off-performance sympathy votes, career comeback of sorts, Lars von Trier's unpredictable track record in US distribution); Those moviegoers who love to follow the politics of Oscar, not just the movies, are bound to enjoy this particular story as it unfolds. 

3. The warm reception for Midnight in Paris raised the distinct possibility that Woody Allen could see his 15th Best Original Screenplay nomination. Pundits, including myself, have regularly sold the idea that Mr Allen is always a threat in the Original Screenplay category but in truth, that "always" is quite an overestimation given that he hasn't been a  "regular" since the 90s. (He only received one nomination in the Aughts making him less an always then a 10% kinda guy these days). He didn't even get much Oscar traction for Vicky Cristina Barcelona despite a Golden Globe  Picture win and an eventual Oscar for Penélope Cruz. But Midnight, might be a different story. Firstly, there's no individual performance that awards bodies can latch on to -- the showiest work is done by the people with the teeniest parts -- and if anyone reaps the benefits of the love for the film, it'll be Allen himself. Midnight is quite light on its feet despite a theme with melancholy resonance, and it's performing well at the box office. As The Film Experience has always maintained, Oscar voters tastes are basically a figurative amalgam of critics + moviegoers + media; if those three groups like something (even if they do so for entirely different reasons), Oscar will join them.

4. I'm not sure what we know about The Tree of Life. I feel lost here. At first one heard "mixed reviews" than it won the "Palme D'Or" and then it opened. It's been a whirlwind of activity. If the random stories of older audiences walking out are true -- can one ever trust "stories" about certain demographics loving or hating any film? Said stories always seem rife with possible agendas and/or horse's mouth biases -- than it might be dead in the water for Oscar. BUT. It just opened. Let's see how it plays as it expands. If Malick teaches us anything he teaches us patience, right? See you at his next film in 2019! (I'm kidding. Supposedly the next film has already completed shooting... but I'll believe back-to-back Malick releases when they happen and no sooner.)

5. My guess is that Pirates of the Caribbean bombed too badly with critics to win it much heat in the technical categories where it's previously done fairly well for itself. Thor wasn't a big enough deal financially and in the passion-meter of its fans to score any technicals (though it's worth noting that its production designer Bo Welch is an Academy favorite), so the next two superhero tests are X-Men First Class and Green Lantern. For some possibly silly reason, I've convinced myself that it's Captain America that might get the tech nods that you know at least one of the comic book films will win.

Eventually comic book films will invade Oscar. Though it seems improbable now it's a matter of percentages. As more and more of them get made, Oscar will have less and less ways to avoid them.

Here's something we don't know...

What the hell is going on with The Eye of the Storm? It's one of those titles, an adaptation of a novel, that I only discovered in researching potential Oscar players (and talking in the comments to you!) but I never hear a peep about it in terms of "official" anything. Nevertheless it looks promising and actressy, and maybe Geoffrey Rush's post-Speech heat and general hammy deliciousness (to AMPAS palettes at least) can help it out? I've tried everything I could think of to embed the teaser (everything I could think of = copy and paste) but nothing works so you'll have to go to Twitch to see it.

Fly away, pigeon. Just say your farewell and go.

Dying Charlotte Rampling theatrically dismissing bitchy Judy Davis is my new two second obsession. Enjoy it with me!

UPDATED OSCAR PREDICTIONS ALL CATEGORIES
Click on the individual category titles to explore further.

Tuesday
May312011

Box Office: The Tree of Hungover Pandas in Paris

I know I said I was taking today off but I ended up drawing instead. I am not a summer person. (I am the opposite of bears, my form of hibernation involving air conditioning in summertime and avoiding bright light.) But moving on to more pressing movie matters...

Memorial Day Weekend at the Box Office proves that it's a repetitive world with tons of franchise action (Bridesmaids 2 already has a greenlight, right? If not, it can't be far off.) It all blends together for me.

Pandas are total lightweights.

The Box Office (4 Day Weekend Actuals!)

01 THE HANGOVER PART II new $103.4
02 KUNG FU PANDA 2 new  $60.8
03 PIRATES 4 $50 (cumulative 163.6)
04 BRIDESMAIDS 1 $20.7 (cumulative $89.3)
05 AVENGERS PREQUEL #2  $12 (cumulative $162.4)
06 THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS, 5TH EDITION $7.8 (cumulative $197.3)
        and leaving the world o' franchises behind...
07 MIDNIGHT IN PARIS $2.5 (cumulative $3.4)
08 RIO $2.4 (cumulative $135.4)
09 JUMPING THE BROOM $2.3 (cumulative $34.6)
10 SOMETHING BORROWED $2.2 (cumulative $35.1)

The success stories of the week -- honestly everyone and their dog monkey knew that the Hangover and Panda sequels would sell tickets -- were in limited release: Midnight in Paris and The Tree of Life had, by a significant margin, fuller houses than any other films.

If Woody's annual offering continues to generate this kind of interest he may be looking at a Match Point / Vicky Cristina Barcelona level success. Both of those films had real legs at the box office topping out at about $23 million domestically and nearing $100 million globally and both went on to a bit of Oscar play. For those who are curious about how he has such free reign despite never having "hits" in the traditional sense, it comes down to low budgets and a global fanbase which has been far more loyal to him than American audiences. Nearly all of his movies are much more successful overseas which is definitely not the norm... for American comedies especially.

Though it's sort of off topic, I still maintain that had Dreamworks done a better job with Match Point's release -- it was a sleeper waiting to happen but they held back and held back losing all of its Critics/Cannes/"Comeback!" steam before that lame weekend-after-Christmas Oscar glut strategy -- it would have been even bigger. Midnight hasn't even gone wide yet so things are looking very good IF they keep expanding. As for The Tree of Life... the latest augmentation of the Malick Mystique could have conceivably landed in the top ten had it been less timid about revealing itself; the theaters were packed but they numbered only four.

Oscar Predictions Updates Coming Wednesday. (Working on them now.) My reflections on The Tree of Life coming later. I'm mystified that so many web critics can write huge pieces on complicated movies without time to reflect or edit their words mere moments after they see them... but that's the way film criticism is going. It's an instantaneous world. Alas. (I know I need to speed up, shut up!)

What did you see this holiday weekend?
If it wasn't a holiday for you, did you still have time for a movie or three?

Sunday
May222011

Cannes Winners: Kiki, Malick, and More

The 64th annual Cannes Film Festival wrapped up today with the jury awards.

Some awards announcements feel like deflations to robust film festivals but not this year. Major conversation pieces won big, extending the buzz if not adding much in the way of a surprise element that can sometimes send hype spinning in new directions.

First and foremost I, personally, must let out a whoop of joy at the news that Kirsten Dunst took Best Actress. I've long been a champion of her underappreciated gifts. She's one of those rare actresses who is just as skilled at both comedic and dramatic roles and her filmography will eventually have the last laugh over her many detractors.  Her "comeback", artistically speaking, probably started with All Good Things this December. She won very complimentary reviews and a last minute Oscar campaign even though the film itself didn't get much attention. [The Film Experience Interview from Kirsten Dunst if you missed it.]

Gif via Rich at FourFour

 

Main Jury (Robert DeNiro was Jury President)
This jury, the jury that gets all the attention, hands out the prizes for the films in the main competition roster. But Cannes has several sidebars as well.
PALME D'OR The Tree of Life by Terrence Malick.
GRAND PRIX (runner up) The Kid With The Bike by the Dardenne Brothers who seem to win something each and every year and Once Upon a Time in Anatolia by Nuri Bilge Ceylan

JURY PRIZE Polisse by Maïwenn Le Besco (we discussed her very briefly)
DIRECTOR Nicolas Winding Refn for Drive (making good on the critical excitement)
SCREENPLAY Joseph Cedar for Footnote
ACTOR Jean DuJardin for The Artist
ACTRESS Kirsten Dunst for Melancholia (see previous posts)

Camera D'Or (Jury President Bong Joon Ho, of Mother and The Host fame)
GOLDEN CAMERA (Best First Feature)  Las Acacias directed by Pablo Giorgelli [Argentina]

Un Certain Regard (Jury President Emir Kusturica of Underground and Black Cat White Cat fame)
PRIZE OF UN CERTAIN REGARD (tie) Arirang by Kim Ki-Duk and Stopped on Track by Andreas Dresen

SPECIAL JURY PRIZE Elena by Andrey Zvyaginstev
DIRECTING PRIZE Mohammad Rasoulof for Bé Omid é Didar

Critics Week  (Jury President Chang-dong Lee of Poetry and Secret Sunshine fame)
This jury concentrates on new directors (meaning first or second timers)
FEATURE Take Shelter (which played at Sundance) starring Michael Shannon & Jessica Chastain.
SPECIAL MENTION Snowtown (a controversial choice)
CID/CCAS and the OFAJ Las Acacias (which also won the Camera D'Or)

The Skin I Live In wins a Cinematography Prize. Notice the poster on the wall is the one they've been using for the film's teaser poster

C.S.T
VULCAN PRIZE (for an artist technician) went to cinematographer José Luis Alcaine for Pedro Almodóvar's The Skin I Live In (previous posts)
SPECIAL DISTINCTION went to Sound Designer Paul Davies and Editor Joe Bini for Lynne Ramsay's We Need To Talk About Kevin

Cross-CountryCinefondation and Short Films (Jury President Michel Gondry)
SHORT FILMS
PALME D'OR Cross-Country by Maryna Vroda
JURY PRIZE Swimsuit 46 by Wannes Destoop

CINEFONDATION
1ST PRIZE Der Brief (The Letter) by Dorotyea Droumeva
2ND PRIZE Drari by Kamal Lazraq
3RD PRIZE Fly By Night by Son Tae-gyum

 

In terms of the Oscar race, which rarely correlates with Cannes and doesn't need to, this still adds a helpful sheen of prestige to The Tree of Life, Melancholia and Take Shelter which will all see the US marketplace. Given the multiple prizes for the Argentinian debut film Las Acacias one also wonders if it will be Argentina's Oscar submission?

What do you make of all this? Did anything surprise you?

Monday
May162011

Cannes Check: A long weekend

Robert (author of Distant Relatives) here. It feels like the dog days of Cannes. Film reactions keep coming in and while they seem endlessly mixed or average it's always helpful to remember that when most of these films make their way to the states (in what could be a week or a year... or two years... or never) many of them will be greeted by accolades and Rotten Tomato scores upwards of 80%.

Let's start with the gems. Alex has already clued you in on the success of The Artist. There was one other big hit this weekend. The Dardenne Brothers at this point could direct a Sham-Wow infomercial and it would be accepted to Cannes. But there's a reason why. The Kid With a Bike is being received as one more of many high points in their career. Are the Dardennes in the running for their third Palme? [Rotten Tomatoes page]

Footnote by Israeli director Joseph Cedar, who had an Oscar nominee in Beaufort recently, is also finding itself plenty of fans, as the MUBI roundup will attest. The film, about an accomplished but underappreciated professor constantly at odds with his very appreciated academic son is being praised for its mixture of dry, often awkward comedy and meaningful family pathos.

If you've seen previous Cannes winner The Son's Room, you're familiar with the work of director Nanni Moretti. His entry this year is We Have a Pope which is about a reluctant pontiff seems to have not struck the right note between comedy and drama. "Intermittently amusing" is the faint praise coming from IndieWIRE. 

Fans of Korea's Kim Ki-duk (3-Iron, spring summer fall winter...and spring) will be happy to know that he's returned, albeit with an odd project. Arirang is a documentary in which the director has turned the camera on himself to record his crises of confidence after an actress almost died on the set of his film Dream. A few viewers find the process intriguing, but many echo the sentiment of AV Club's Mike D'Angelo who calls it "self-indulgent, useless, “therapeutic” one-man tripe."

Miss Bala

Un Certain Regard film Miss Bala, a tense film about a Tijuana beauty queen's encounter with gangsters is getting good to strong notices.  As usual MUBI has done a fine job of summing up.

You can now consider yourself caught up, except for the 500lb artistically narrated gorilla, which opens today.

[Editor's Note: Hi. It's Nathaniel. I'm back from a short trip away. We are opting not to say much about The Tree of Life, or to cover the inevitably ecstatic reviews and tweetgasms that are pouring in. For one thing, initial response to highly awaited festival fare is always tricky to gauge. No matter what this type of movie is like, the reaction will verge on hysteric (in any direction) since no critic -- even the best of them  -- will have had the proper time to truly contemplate it before writing their reviews (especially given that none of them are getting any sleep at the moment.) But mostly we don't want any spoilers. No, Malick's films aren't typically plotty but do you really want his amazing gift for indelible imagery described to you in detail before you're seeing it? I do not. I want to experience it in the purest way possible. Since the film is opening THIS MONTH patience is not only a virtue, but it's an easy (okay, easier) trait to adopt. Resist the modern urge to have every experience spoiled in advance for you!]

Thursday
Apr142011

The Festival They Inhabit.

Jose here to announce this year's Cannes Film Festival lineup.

As usual, Cannes will fill the Croisette with names we've heard year after year, but when those names are Pedro Almodóvar, the Dardenne brothers and Lars von Trier, you won't listen to much complains from our side.

This year the official lineup will include the following films:

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Mar292011

Link As We Know It

i09 offers a look at the clockwork man in Scorsese's The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Gold Derby wonders if Oscar winner Estelle Parsons (Bonnie & Clyde) has a Tony Award in her very near future.
In Contention Guy shares his review plans for The Tree of Life in light of its premiere plans. And the new poster. Why yes, reader, here it is. Enjoy.

Gold Derby Academy to honor Sophia Loren in May
Playbill Kristin Chenoweth is coming back to Broadway. Details are unknown but bliss will surely follow.
Self Styled Siren 10 Films that the Siren Should Love But Doesn't. What a fun idea for a list. It's not classics you don't like that everyone else does... it's films you should like, given what you typically respond to, but just don't.

Finally...here's the Onion's vicious but laugh out loud funny Katharine Heigl tragedy "In Freak Accident, 34 Katherine Keigl Films Released At Once." Thanks to Glenn for pointing it out.


In Freak Accident, 34 Katherine Heigl Films Released At Once

So so funny though that Venus & Mars poster / concept reads 100% like a real movie. For a second I thought it was. My favorite bit was the 700% rise in self-blindings and the stressed EMT.

We're doing the best we can out here but the movies are just coming out too fast.

In truth I am one of those rare souls who kind of likes Katharine Heigl. BUT here is how I escaped the hatred: I didn't see all these crappy movies she stars in and I only watched like one season of Grey's Anatomy because it was a shlocky gooey mess. If there is one star in need of saying "no" unless it's a prestige project with A list director next time, it's her. She has enough money. A hiatus until a quality offer shows itself is the only answer to turn this ship around.

 

Saturday
Jan152011

Handful of Link, Globe Fever

Stale Popcorn The best Burlesque review you may ever read. A delight.
THR Ridley Scott's Alien prequel is transforming into something else.
Guardian on the female villain rumors for The Dark Knight Rises. Although many strange assumptions are made in the article such as Chris Nolan would resist casting a non A lister. Okay maybe that last one is a safe bet but it's still weird. Nolan is a powerful enough director to cast whoever he wants and the franchise sells itself so one wonders why he does only cast big names. Why not make a star?
Variety France's Lumiére Awards went to their Oscar submission Of Gods and Men (Picture & Actor) and Roman Polanski's The Ghost Writer (Director & Screenplay).


Deadline Ben Foster signed to Fernando Meirelles "loose" adaptation of La Ronde. Infidelity ~ a fresh new motion picture topic!
AV Club Banksy's identity for sale on eBay? Hee.
Movie|Line Jacki Weaver appeals to Tarantino's foot fetish. Amusing/strange bit.
24 Frames the great cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki on Terrence Malicks Tree of Life (coming soon).
IndieWire Luca Guadagnino reflects on I Am Love's success going into the biggest awards weekend of the year (other than Oscar weekend of course)

Golden Globes on The Brain
Towleroad A Golden Globe drinking game devised by moi. Dare I do it whilst live blogging Sunday? Will you join me?
MNPP has five wishes for the The Golden Globes that feel directly pulled from my brain even though JA's brain is surely inimitable.
Movie|Line 5 times the Globes were smarter than Oscar

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