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Entries in Zero Dark Thirty (23)

Tuesday
Jan072014

DGA Howls for Scorsese, Russell and Three First-Timers

The Directors Guild of America, more commonly referred to as simply DGA, have announced their nominees for the film year, and the expected nominees prevailed… with the possible exception of the final slot, alphabetically and most in doubt, which went to Martin Scorsese for his controversial satire.

The nominees are…


  • Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity (first time DGA nominee)
  • Paul Greengrass, Captain Philllips (first time DGA nominee)
  • Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave (first time DGA nominee)
  • David O. Russell, American Hustle (second DGA nomination though curiously not honored in 2012 when Silver Linings Playbook was all the rage)
  • Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street (12th DGA honor*)

In the past DGA nominees were literally the surest indication of which five movies would be nominated for Oscar’s Best Picture, even moreso than accurate bellweathers of what would happen in the director race itself. But since the upheavals in Academy voting since 2009, it’s tough to say what they mean anymore since Best Picture nominations are so much easier to come by. But whatever it means it is certainly not good news for the Coen brothers (Inside Llewyn Davis), Alexander Payne (Nebraska), or Spike Jonze (Her) all of whom have been nominated by the DGA in previous years.

In the past four years (2009-2012) of the DGA nominations 15 of 20 of their selections went on to be Oscar nominated in the same category with 2012 being famously divisive between the two awards groups – only 2 of the DGA’s choices made it to the Oscar lineup in a real surprise shake-up. But despite those disagreements only 1 of the DGA’s 20 selections in the past four years did NOT receive a Best Picture nomination (David Fincher’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo which won five Oscar nominations and 1 actual statue) so all five of these movies are likely to be Best Picture nominated

… yes, even The Wolf of Wall Street despite the defensive game it’s been playing the media. The Wolf of Wall Street’s current situation has been compared to Zero Dark Thirty’s last year (both here and elsewhere) and Zero Dark Thirty, like Dragon Tattoo, went on to five Oscar nominations and 1 win. So smart money…and by smart money I mean “people who believe in crazy coincidences of Oscar numerology” should expect 5 nominations and one win for Wolf, though not in Best Director and maybe not in Best Picture. In short: we know not a damn thing about how this will play out!

* It’s worth noting that Martin Scorsese is a beloved icon to the Directors Guild of America, having won television, narrative feature, and documentary honors. They’ve been slightly more generous with him over the years than Oscar has. As with Oscar he’s only won their top prize once (also for The Departed) but they’ve given him a lifetime achievement prize as well as nominating him for two pictures that Oscar did not recognize him for: Taxi Driver and The Age of Innocence. The only time the Oscars recognized him when the DGA didn’t was for The Last Tempation of Christ.

Monday
Mar182013

Likability

Hello, lovelies. Beau here, hoping you all have had a fantastic weekend. Whether that involved arguing over the season finale of Girls, shielding your eyes from Halle Berry’s hair in The Call, or just readying yourselves for the onslaught of leprechauns and green colored ale that is St. Patrick's Day, I hope it’s been an enjoyable one before heading back into the work week.

A lot has been said about Lena Dunham and Girls. I don’t have a strong desire at this point to rehash the plot details and synopses of the past episode or the entire season for that matter (though I did that for the finale of season one). But, for myself, being an avid viewer of Girls and eagerly anticipating the next step in Ms. Dunham’s career, the most discomforting element of all the criticism and controversy surrounding the show is that there is particular attention being paid to the characters "likability".

This concern isn’t strictly limited to Dunham or Girls. The "unlikable!" charge has been levied at multiple television programs and films these past couple of years, as though whether or not you liked the primary set of characters, or the supporting ones, dictated whether or not the work as a whole was working or not.

HUH?

Regan. Eve. Maya.

I remember being pretty put off, frankly, this past summer when several online pundits and reviewers were slandering Leslye Headland’s Bachelorette for this very reason. more...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Mar122013

The Link and I

tumblr screenshots without pausing of Zero Dark Thirty's hallway showdown scene
MNPP on responsibility in film criticism and Michel Gondry's The We And I 
Unreality the Han Solo in carbonite business card case. I keep wondering if Patrick Bateman would love this
Pajiba sounds off on the official poster for Mad Men Season 6, which features an illustration of Don Draper looking at... himself? in passing.  I cannot cannot wait. You?
Antagony... follows up that best oscar wins list with its evil twin counterpart: worst oscar wins

the greatest sitcom?
I've been really impressed with Vulture's #sitcomsmackdown which has made all sort of insightful points about the state of the situation comedy throughout the past quarter century, even if I wish Vulture had been more clear about how much rewatching they've asked their selected writers to do. Glenn at Stale Popcorn sounds off on the uproar that greeted Sex & The City's win over 30 Rock. But, as Glenn points out, if you read the actual original essay the writer clearly loves both series and makes really salient engaging points about why she chose Sex as the winner. But alas, people don't read. They just choose sides and fight. I'm thankful I don't have to choose the ultimate winner from the past 30 years but many of the shows battling it out for the top slot would make my top 10.

weird coincidence
So this week while instant-watch surfing a few films I'd seen before, which I do on occasion to refresh my memory, I watched a few scenes from both Head On (1998) and from Trainspotting (1996). Both films were critical hits and bold in-your-face indies about hard-living young men. The two films served as major launching pad for two exciting actors (Alex Dimitriades and Ewan McGregor, respectively) though their careers didn't exactly turn out the same. And then yesterday while link surfing, I chance upon a piece about how hard it is for men to turn 40 that featured Alex Dimitriades and the news that Danny Boyle still wants to do a Trainspotting sequel and that, finally, Ewan McGregor may say yes. The article suggests that one hurdle has always been residual director/star strangement dating back to the days when Boyle threw his young start-up muse (Ewan had also been with him for his debut Shallow Grave) overboard for Leonardo DiCaprio on The Beach? I felt like the internet was reading my mind! 

Monday
Feb182013

Interview: Alexandre Desplat on Composing for "Argo" & "Zero Dark Thirty"

Matt here! Knowing my music background, Nathaniel asked me to speak with Alexandre Desplat for his fifth Oscar nomination. Desplat has composed scores for over 100 films including Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The King’s Speech, and The Tree of Life. This year alone, he wrote for Moonrise Kingdom, Rust and Bone, Rise of the Guardians, Zero Dark Thirty, and earned his latest Academy Award nomination for his work on Argo.

Desplat conducting his Rise of the Guardians score

Not only is Desplat impossibly prolific but he produces music of unprecedented diversity. Who could have guessed that the same man behind the jaunty storybook sounds of Fantastic Mr. Fox also wrote the cloudy chords at the end of Zero Dark Thirty? [more...]

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Feb132013

Links of Future Past Right Now

IndieWire Lars von Trier's Nymphomaniac won't be ready for Cannes
E! the real life Navy SEAL who shot bin Laden gets all movie critic like, loving Jessica Chastain but taking some issues with Zero Dark Thirty
Erik Lundegaard has a neat interactive chart where you can rank the Best Picture winners from all Oscar years
Pajiba on Lena Dunham fat-shaming and the already famous new episode of Girls
Vulture power rankings of the Friday Night Lights cast post series finale 


In Contention Kris Tapley launches his well regarded annual top ten shots column
TMZ Vivienne Jolie-Pitt gets her first movie role. She'll play the toddler Sleeping Beauty in Maleficent opposite her scary mom
MNPP do dump or marry: Matthias Schoenaerts, Guillame Canet and Jean Dujardin
Broadway Blog fun multipart piece on Broadway's best love songs from Les Misérables through Avenue Q
Gawker loves Madonna's instagram account and so do I
AMPAS last year I did a piece for Slate on the hierarchy of thank-yous in Oscar acceptance speeches that I was super proud of. The research took me so long I made negative money an hour on the piece but now Oscar has gone and done the work for me, unfortunately after the fact, by archiving acceptance speeches. Can't wait to investigate this archive when I have more time.

one of my all time favorite comic book issues. I still remember buying this when it appearedEmpire RIP Oscar nominated editor Gerry Hambling who was 86.
Playbill Les Misérables will hit DVD on March 22nd. Tom Hooper will do commentary. 

Finally...
Cinema Blend Bryan Singer hasn't decided if Storm and Nightcrawler will be in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Alan Cumming told me he'd revisit the character if asked but can we please replace Storm? Since it's a time travel story why not give Angela Bassett the chance she deserved all along as a now older Storm? The cast list currently mixes X-Men First Class alums with previous X-Men franchise actors. Confirmed to appear: Ellen Page (Kitty Pryde), Patrick Stewart & James McAvoy (Professor Xavier), Ian McKellen & Michael Fassbender (Magneto), Hugh Jackman (Wolverine), Anna Paquin (Rogue), and Sean Ashmore (Iceman), Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique), Nicholas Hoult (The Beast), and Rose Byrne (Moira McTaggert)

Who do you hope joins this mashup X-Men team or are you done with that franchise?

Sunday
Jan272013

Three Reasons Why "Argo" Became the One To Beat

You can't always know how the future will treat each year's awards recipients. Will their strengths will come into sharper focus as time erodes the particulars of the movie culture and conversation they arrived into or will that erosion grind a movie or performers appeal down with it? What will we make in five year's time of this moment when Hollywood threw awards at Argo instead of, say, Lincoln? That's what happened again last night at the Producers Guild Awards when Ben Affleck's 1970s CIA rescue tale took the top prize.

We don't have to wait for hindsight clarity when it comes to Argo's sudden rise in the previous deadheat Oscar race.  I'd say that three things are responsible, two of which no one could have predicted.

1. I'd been saying from the very start that Argo's narrative subtext, embedded into its truish story of a fake movie being used to rescue Americans from a hostile regime, that 'Movies Save the World!' feel would be irressistible to the back-patting awards season mentality in much the same way it was for the documentary The Cove some years ago.

The other two factors were not things anyone could have predicted though....

2.  Zero Dark Thirty emerged to somewhat reductive "so much better than Argo!" laudatory soundbytes (they both involve CIA meddling in the Middle East so they must be compared incessantly!) and for about a week it looked like The Real Oscar Deal but what happened next with it was very kind to Argo. Zero became the media's most slobbered on and teared at rag doll with everyone tsk-tsking and fuming and eventually subtly equating the making of it with condoning torture. By extension voting for it felt unpleasant to some, too. Suddenly the "better than Argo" conversation died and was replaced with just "...Argo", a rebooting if you will of where the Oscar conversation had previously been. Sometimes opening early helps and it's more than helped Argo.

3. The last, and most shocking turn of events was Ben Affleck's omission from the Best Director lineup. I'd long been predicting him to win that statue even though I hadn't viewed Argo necessarily as the future Best Picture champ, suspecting that we were in for a split year. The best thing that ever happened to Argo in terms of its Best Picture prospects was Affleck's "snub". And conversely, that's the worse thing that happened to Lincoln. Whatever one makes of the quality of the Best Picture nominees (have you voted for your favorite here?), Lincoln previously had the strongest narrative arriving as it did in this historic year of President Obama's reelection and the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. Affleck's over-mourned "snub" (people keep conveniently forgetting how strong the Best Director lineup is without him!) handed Argo an underdog narrative in a season where the narratives -- those tricky hooks that make a person or movie so irresistible in the Story of the Year's Entertainments -- weren't all that strong even if the movies were.

Reason no. 3 is in some ways the most understandable now that it's happened and the most baffling. If you really step back for some perspective Ben Affleck is an enormous waste of a Sympathy Vote. He's already an Oscar winner. He's an Oscar nominee even when he's snubbed (he'll win the Oscar if Argo wins Best Picture since he produced) - fancy that. He has a happy Hollywood marriage. He rose to fame with his best friend who is still a huge power player in Hollywood, too. He's risen from the ashes of a weirdly shaky leading man career to become a respected director and a... uh... leading man again. He's super handsome and aging well. He's made only three films all of which received Oscar attention, the latter two of which were big big hits. If anything he's a true golden boy of showbiz with a hugely enviable career and awards run and yet, you'd think he were dying! To this Awards Season he's suddenly treated like the Fantine figure in Les Miz on her death bed; the one to cry over "if only life weren't so cruel!", the one to promise everything to in order to make amends.

And all because he missed out on an expected Best Director nomination?

Mrs. Affleck at the PGAs. Oh, you know she makes this pose at home while mock scolding BenTHE WINNERS

Outstanding Producer, Film: Ben Affleck, Grant Henslov, George Clooney for Argo
Outstanding Producer, Documentary: Malik Bendjelloul, Simon Chinn for Searching for Sugar Man
Outstanding Producer, Animated: Clark Spencer for Wreck-it Ralph
Outstanding Producer, Longform TV: Gary Goetzman, Tom Hanks, Jay Roach, Amy Sayres, Steven Shareshian, Danny Strong for "Game Change"
Outstanding Producer, Episodic TV (Drama): Henry Bromell, Alexander Cary, Michael Cuesta, Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon, Chip Johannessen, Michael Klick, Meredith Stiehm for "Homeland"
Outstanding Producer, Episodic TV (Comedy): Cindy Chupack, Paul Corrigan, Abraham Higginbotham, Ben Karlin, Steven Levitan, Christopher Lloyd, Jeff Morton, Dan O’Shannon, Jeffrey Richman, Chris Smirnoff, Brad Walsh, Bill Wrubel, Danny Zuker for "Modern Family" 
Outstanding Producer, NonFiction TV: Prudence Glass, Susan Lacy,Julie Sacks for "American Masters" PBS 
Outstanding Producer, Live TV: Meredith Bennett, Stephen Colbert, Richard Dahm, Paul Dinello, Barry Julien, Matt Lappin, Emily Lazar, Tanya Michnevich Bracco, Tom Purcell,Jon Stewart for "The Colbert Report" 
Outsanding Producer, Competition TV:  Jerry Bruckheimer, Elise Doganieri, Jonathan Littman, Bertram van Munster, Mark Vertullo for "The Amazing Race"

Outstanding Sports Program: "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel"
Outstanding Children's Program:  "Sesame Street"
Outstanding Digital Series: "30 Rock: The Webisodes" 

 

 

Tuesday
Jan222013

Amir's Best of 2012

Amir here. Nathaniel has invited TFE contributors to share their top ten lists along with his own. Drawing up this list is a real dilemma every year. Not that I’m under the illusion that a list like this bears any significance on my personal affection for the films I leave out, but I still want it to be representative of the whole picture. This year was particularly tough. It’s been a terrific year for cinema, possibly my favorite since 2007. Even with five honorable mentions I still couldn’t find room for Moonrise Kingdom, Queen of Versailles, Silver Linings Playbook, The Grey, Damsels in Distress, Anna Karenina and so many others that I thoroughly enjoyed. But these lists are never definitive. Ask me on a different day and I might give you a whole different set. At this moment, this is where I stand.

Honorable Mentions
We don’t get to see films as unique and original as Beasts of the Southern Wild very often so it pains me to leave it off. It moved me to tears and its images are etched in my memory all these months later. Magic Mike was a real highlight, a fully realized screenplay that dug beneath the flesh of its stars to explore universal themes and it had a few career-best performances to boot. As a big documentary buff and in such a banner year for the form, I find myself surprised that no doc made it to the top ten but three of my favorites were left just off: Sarah Polley’s brave and engrossing Stories We Tell in which the young Canadian filmmaker had the audacity to reveal the deepest secrets of her family through her poetic vision; Searching For Sugar Man, where the incredible story of a gifted, but largely unknown artist takes a twist that is as heartbreaking as it is heartwarming; and The Gatekeepers, an unprecedented exposé of the politics of the Israel-Palestine conflict and undoubtedly the most important film of the year. 

top ten after the jump

Click to read more ...