April 23, 2014

Tag Archives: Human Interest

Could ‘True Detective’ have been an Oscar player if it were a film?

I don’t watch a lot of television, honestly. Most of my time is filled up with movies…for obvious reasons. Every so often though, a show catches my eye, and True Detective was one of those. Eight episodes later, I think I saw an all time great TV series. Since I’m a film guy though, it got me thinking about the awards chances of the show, particularly if it had been one long movie (lets say three hours instead of the eight it actually is) instead. Yes, we all know it’ll do well with the Emmys and Golden Globes next year, but could it have been an Oscar player too?
If True Detective had been an epic motion picture instead of an anthology television series, I truly believe that it would have caught the Academy’s attention. I’ll try to avoid spoilers, but considering how the show wrapped up the season, I feel like it would have been a surefire Best Picture nominee and perhaps even a winner. It’s an incredibly dark show, but the final moments brought in some unexpected optimism, and Oscar voters love a happy ending, as we all know. Since both No Country for Old Men and The Silence of the Lambs both won Best Picture, a show that has much in common with both (to me at least) could very well have followed in their footsteps with the big prize.
Among the actors, both Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson would be surefire nominees for Best Actor, with McConaughey undeniably a frontrunner (perhaps both of them if Harrelson went Supporting). The women on the show weren’t handled quite as well, but Michelle Monaghan really did shine when she had opportunities, so I could definitely have seen a Best Supporting Actress citation coming her way.
You can’t leave out director Cary Joji Fukunaga and writer Nic Pizzolatto, who saw this vision through to the end. Fukunaga made a visual rich show that looked better than some of the most beautiful films of last year, while Pizzolatto created a dense procedural that turned out in the end to be a poignant character study. If that’s not Oscar friendly, I don’t know what is. One or both could have won, though I’d have expected Best Director and Best Original Screenplay nominations for both.
Down the line, Best Cinematography and Best Film Editing would be locks too, especially considering the now famous long take featuring [...]

Oscars: The Top 25 (Best Cinematography)

HOLLYWOOD NEWS NETWORK: Another new weekly series I’m going to be doing surrounds the top 25 Oscar winners in just about all of the categories. Aside from the shorts and something like Best Sound Mixing, I’ll be hitting them all, including of course the big eight categories. For starters though, I figured I’d go with one of the most highly regarded of the technical categories…Best Cinematography. Depending on the category, I may discuss the individual winners I’m citing specifically or just sort of give a broad overview of the winners, but for now, I’ll keep it simple. Honestly though, you all mostly want to see the list anyway, so I have no problem obliging you there. Just be patient over the next few paragraphs…
There are few categories more overtly artistic than this one, though the category has undergone some major changes over the decades. Up until 1967, the category was mostly split between black and white and color (though before 1936 there was only one award, since almost every movie was in black and white), so there were two Oscars given out before then, which gives you more winners than usual to sift through. Also of late, the trend has moved to rewarding 3D productions. In fact, only 3D works have won over the last few years, though time will tell if that’s what continues in the years going forward.
Among the black and white winners, the best in my book include Boris Kaufman for On the Waterfront and Robert Krasker for The Third Man, to name just a few. As for the 3D winners, the best so far is probably our most recent winner Emmanuel Lubezki for Gravity, though that’s going to be an evolving group in the years to come, so we’ll see how that holds up in a decade or so. For now though, Lubezki is on top in that regard.
My personal favorite bit of Oscar winning cinematography to date has got to be Janusz Kamiński’s work on Schindler’s List, though I’d also put Kamiński’s work in Saving Private Ryan up pretty high to, so I think we can figure out who my favorite winner is here (though Conrad Hall gives him a run for his money with two top notch winners cited by yours truly on the list to come as well) . Honestly, a lot of my favorites are bits of cinematography that either were nominated [...]

Coming Soon: More Producer Credit Glut!

By ROBERT W. WELKOS
When you ask indie producer Luillo Ruiz how his recent low-budget action-comedy film Welcome to the Jungle featuring veteran martial arts star Jean-Claude Van Damme could come with 31 producer credits, his answer is simple and straightforward.
The film’s financiers were given executive producer credits, he said, while others who provided their production skills for less than what they would normally charge accepted other producer credits.
“They are not charging what they are supposed to charge but they are very passionate about bringing their skill to this film and the skills they bring to this film have a cost. That cost you should repay,” Ruiz explained by telephone from Puerto Rico, where his production company, Piemienta, is located and where the film was shot.
In the film, which came out in limited release Feb. 7 and has also been released on DVD, Van Damme plays an unhinged Marine who leads a group of unsuspecting office workers on a survival trek across a jungle-infested island when they find themselves stranded at a corporate retreat.
Ruiz said the shoot took 19 days in Puerto Rico.
According to IMDB, Welcome to the Jungle comes with two producers—Ruiz and L.A.-based Justin Kanew (“The Amazing Race”)—along with 14 executive producers, eight associate producers, four co-executive producers and three co-producers.
Welcome to the jungle, indeed.
But the Van Damme film is not an isolated case of producer credit glut.
Last year, Lee Daniels’ The Butler drew media attention apart from the drama’s strong reviews when it listed 41 producer credits.
The Producers Guild of America co-president Mark Gordon told the entertainment website The Wrap that the 41 producer credits was “a little embarrassing for everyone within our community.”
The PGA has been fighting producer credit bloat for years and now has a certification process in place to protect the integrity of the producer credit.
According to the PGA, once a producer’s work on a film is certified by the guild, the “Produced by” credit and producers name will be followed by the distinctive mark: “p.g.a.” All the major studios have signed on to the process as well as many independent producers.
In the days and weeks to come, Hollywood studios and independent distributors will be releasing all sorts of films that are crammed with producer credits. For example:
*Fifteen producer credits on IFC Films’ The Face of Love starring Robin Williams, Ed Harris and Annette Bening.
*Fourteen producer credits on A Birder’s Guide to [...]

Oscars: Why ‘American Hustle’ went home empty handed

One of the more interesting and unlikely developments from this past weekend’s Academy Awards telecast was David O. Russell’s film American Hustle managing to lose in each of the ten categories it was nominated in. Historically, 0-fors almost never happen. Recent examples include Gangs of New York and True Grit, but by and large, if your movie is among the most nominated of the year, it winds up going home with at least a token win. So, how did American Hustle wind up being shut out, and why exactly did it happen?
In short, it was mainly due to the competition. The flick wasn’t nominated in any one particular category where it had an easy road to a win. Maybe if you took away The Great Gatsby from contention, maybe Best Costume Design would have been the place? American Hustle was the runner up in a lot of places, likely including Best Supporting Actress and Best Original Screenplay, but there wasn’t an obvious place to reward it, so a concerted effort was never made to just honor it in one particular place. The closest things to that was the Supporting Actress race, where Jennifer Lawrence nearly upset Lupita Nyong’o, but that was always going to be a toss up category.
American Hustle probably also suffered to some degree because of the Olympics. That stretched out the season and gave members of the Academy extra time to get around to 12 Years a Slave and to revisit films like Gravity, The Great Gatsby, and Her. With a shorter decision time, Oscar voters who were flirting with Russell’s movie might have just up and committed to it, instead of holding back and ultimately going in a different direction. You never can be sure about something like this, but I have a feeling that over the last week or two, the flick really had its momentum come to a screeching halt.
Personally, I liked the film more than a lot of my colleagues did, so I take no enjoyment in seeing it go home empty handed. That’s just the nature of the business though. There are only so many awards to be given out, and in a super competitive year like this one, something had to give. In a very literal way, the nominations turned out to be the reward for American Hustle.
You have to give the film a great deal of credit though for going [...]

Another great Hollywood Vanity Fair bash… Stars, Stars, Stars

Vanity Fair upped its Oscar game last night. They build a huge multi level tented building in the parking behind Sunset Plaza. Traffic snaked back and forth on Sunset Boulevard in both directions. There was a big security plan, with metal detectors at the check in. And then you arrived to find an avalanche of stars. Stars and stars. Two by two, or three by three, they came.
Inside the main room, just to the right, if you could find them through the fog of formally attired people, Jane Fonda and Anjelica Huston set up a beach head. Many stars, old and young, were crowded into this area including Jane’s beau, Richard Perry, and Sarah Paulson, plus Quincy Jones, who was busy looking for Petra Nemcova, and Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks. Rosaria Dawson and Gabrielle Union weren’t far away. Sitting on a couch in a section nearby, the fabulous oldies group– Mickey Rooney and Martin Landau. And they were hosting this year’s nominee June Squibb.
Praise god– Don Rickles and his wife were entertaining Don’s many fans. “Do you have any Oscar jokes? I asked Rickles. “If you’re paying me!” he said. I did get a photo.
Just at the entrance to this room I tripped over Bill Hader, who was reconnecting with Will Forte and Paul Rudd, with a big group of comics around them. Hader made a beeline to see Larry David. In time that group was joined by hit pop star Ed Sheeran, who’d just come over from playing at Elton John’s AIDS Foundation fundraiser. Only 23, Sheeran– who’d been hanging with Taylor Swift–is about to break out in a big way. His new single comes this week, with a new album in June.
From there I headed to the upper level party, where Bill Murray and a big group had come to occupy a huge round room with Art Deco-ish banquettes– a hold over from past VF parties. They store their sets! This is where a lot of guests were dining on In and Out Burgers. Here were lots of people carrying Oscars, from “Gravity” and “12 Years a Slave” crew to winner Lupita Nyong’o. Super model Karolina Kurklova and her husband Archie Drury were getting burgers. Amazing since it looks she only eats celery stalks!
And yes, chowing down, was our old pal Kerry Washington, a month away from giving birth, radiant and round.
The thing about Vanity Fair’s parties is [...]

The Oscars® were no enormous shame, a few good jokes, no great shocks

I’m a big fan of Ellen DeGeneres and her understated, often brilliant humor. This was most evident when she hosted the 2001 Emmy Awards after the horrific events in New York and Washington that year. The show was postponed twice, and when it finally aired a couple of months later the big question was how it could be entertaining?
Almost from the outset Ellen delivered. To paraphrase what she said, it was something like the terrorists could not break our spirit. Then she paused and deadpanned that only network executives could do that.

It was funny, unexpected yet absolutely true. It related to the events just passed, but broke the ice and allowed the show to go on to its true purpose after the long delay.

The Oscars Rate a B-Minus.
I wish I could say Ellen’s performance last night rose to that occasion. Though it generally retained the dignity and glamour that audiences expect, something lost in last year’s show hosted by Seth MacFarlane, it was mostly bland with repetitive jokes and occasional good moments. Having said that, I cringed a bit when Ellen repeated out loud and very slowly a compliment to Nebraska supporting actress nominee June Squibb, whom Ellen had termed the oldest Oscar nominee ever, as if the actress were almost deaf and needed careful attention to hear her remarks.

Throughout the ABC show, Ellen drew from a past playbook and redid bits from the last time she hosted in 2007, often appearing in the audience, talking with this celebrity or that and taking photos. In one segment she asked if anyone was hungry, which drew very few responses and went on much too long. However, when a pizza man arrived later in the show, though only with three pizzas, it was amusing to see how many celebrities accepted a slice, including Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts and Harrison Ford. And that no one initially responded to Ellen’s request for donations to pay the man.
To read Michael Russnow’s latest book, “Hollywood on the Danube,” go to www.createspace.com/4497564

I’d thought sometime later it would have been funny if the delivery man, denied payment, started taking back the pizza slices from Meryl, Julia and the others. However, they eventually paid the bit off when Ellen passed a hat into which producer Harvey Weinstein threw two hundred dollars and several celebrities forked over twenty or more dollars each. By my count that was over three hundred [...]

12 Years a Slave wins five Independent Spirit Awards

Could the Independent Spirit Awards results from earlier today be foreshadowing what happens with the Academy Awards tomorrow night? Personally, I don’t think so, but the potential is there at least, especially after 12 Years a Slave pretty much dominated the show, taking five awards, including Best Feature, Best Director for Steve McQueen, Best Supporting Actress for Lupita Nyong’o, and Best Screenplay for John Ridley. The other award it won was Best Cinematography, but it’s not nominated for that Oscar, so there won’t be a chance of a perfect correlation here between the two voting bodies.
Among other major categories, Matthew McConaughey won Best Male Lead and Jared Leto won Best Supporting Male for their work in Dallas Buyers Club, while Cate Blanchett took home Best Female Lead for Blue Jasmine. We also had 20 Feet from Stardom winning Best Documentary, Blue is the Warmest Color winning Best International Film, and as previously announced Mud taking the Robert Altman Award.
While there’s no chance of Academy members being influenced here, considering that voting ended earlier this week, 12 Years a Slave finally got the chance to run roughshod over a televised awards show, and that’s something at least. Without competition from American Hustle and Gravity, you can’t be totally sure what this means, but it’s a nice citation for the movie, regardless.
You can see the full Spirit Award winners list below:
BEST FEATURE: 12 Years a Slave
BEST ACTOR: Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club
BEST ACTRESS: Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine
BEST SUPPORTING MALE: Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club
BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE: Lupita Nyong’o for 12 Years a Slave
BEST DIRECTOR: Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave
BEST SCREENPLAY: John Ridley for 12 Years a Slave
BEST DOCUMENTARY: 20 Feet From Stardom
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: 12 Years a Slave
BEST EDITING: Short Term 12
BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM: Blue Is the Warmest Color
BEST FIRST FEATURE: Fruitvale Station
BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY: Bob Nelson for Nebraska
ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD: Mud
JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD: This is Martin Bonner
PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD: Toby Halbrooks and James M. Johnston

France’s César Awards are handed out

We’re only two days out from the Oscars now, but today and tomorrow we have some other awards to report on, starting off right now with the just announced César Awards, which are the French equivalent of the Academy Awards. There’s no real Academy crossover to speak of, but it’s an interesting ceremony to take note of anyway. Any award show is worthwhile in my book, and I hope you agree as well.
The Best Picture prize went to Les Garçons Et Guillaume, A Table!, which also saw Guillaume Gallienne win Best Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay, while favorite son over there Roman Polanski took Best Director for Venus in Fur. Among more notable winners, The Broken Circle Breakdown won Best Foreign Film while Adèle Exarchopoulos took the Best Female Newcomer prize for her amazing work in Blue is the Warmest Color. Voters spread things around otherwise, as you’ll be able to see below.
Again, this means almost nothing for Oscar, unless you really want to extrapolate and try and make the case that The Broken Circle Breakdown could pull an upset on Sunday in the Best Foreign Language Feature category. Still, I was thrilled to see Exarchopoulos get noticed here, so consider me relatively pleased overall by these results.
Here now are all of the César award winners:
BEST PICTURE
Les Garçons Et Guillaume, A Table!
BEST DIRECTOR
Roman Polanski, Venus In Fur
BEST ACTOR
Guillaume Gallienne, Les Garçons Et Guillaume, A Table!
BEST ACTRESS
Sandrine Kiberlain, 9 Mois Ferme
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Niels Arestrup, Quai D’Orsay
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Adèle Haenel, Suzanne
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Guilaume Gallienne, Les Garçons Et Guillaume, A Table!
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Albert Dupontel, 9 Mois Ferme
BEST FOREIGN FILM
The Broken Circle Breakdown
BEST SHORT FILM
Avant Que De Tout Perdre, Xavier Legrand
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Thomas Hardmeier, The Young And Prodigious Mr Spivet
BEST EDITING
Valérie Deseine, Les Garçons Et Guillaume, A Table!
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Loulou L’Incroyable Secret, Eric Omond
BEST ANIMATED SHORT
Mademoiselle Kiki Et Les Montparnos, Amélie Harrault
BEST DOCUMENTARY
Sur Le Chemin De L’Ecole, Pascal Plisson
BEST SOUND
Jean-Pierre Duret, Jean Mallet & Mélissa Petitjean, Michael Kohlhaas
BEST ART DIRECTION
Stéphane Rozenbaum, L’Ecume Des Jours
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Martin Wheeler, Michael Kohlhaas
BEST COSTUMES
Pascaline Chavanne, Renoir
BEST DEBUT FEATURE
Les Garçons Et Guillaume, A Table!, Guillaume Gallienne
BEST NEWCOMER (Male)
Pierre Deladonchamps, Stranger By The Lake
BEST NEWCOMER (Female)
Adèle Exarchopoulos, Blue Is The Warmest Color

Oscars: Get to know the Best Supporting Actress race

Best Supporting Actress
Nominees: Sally Hawkins for Blue Jasmine, Jennifer Lawrence for American Hustle, Lupita Nyong’o for 12 Years a Slave, Julia Roberts for August: Osage County, and June Squibb for Nebraska
Notable precursor wins: Lawrence wins BAFTA and Golden Globe Awards, while Nyong’o wins Broadcast Film Critics and Screen Actors Guild Awards
Current frontrunner: Jennifer Lawrence (by a hair)
Next in line: Lupita Nyong’o (super close behind)
Dark horse: June Squibb (way behind)
Wrapping up my “Get to know” series, we now have the final piece of the puzzle as we focus today on the Best Supporting Actress race. As you can see in the vital statistics above, the gentlemen making up this category are Sally Hawkins for Blue Jasmine, Jennifer Lawrence for American Hustle, Lupita Nyong’o for 12 Years a Slave, Julia Roberts for August: Osage County, and June Squibb for Nebraska. Two of these ladies are way out in front, with predictions split between them. One’s got to emerge victorious though, so which one will it be?
From the very first of the precursors, it’s been a back and forth between Lawrence and Nyong’o. They’ve split the important precursors evenly, while both also picked up critics group attention in a big way. They’re all but tied, which means that something’s gotta give. Will Academy voters go full steam ahead in making Lawrence their new Oscar darling or will they crown Nyong’o instead, embracing a new face? It could go either way folks, though the late momentum has ever so slightly favored Lawrence.
Now then, one of them has to win, right? By a slim majority, my colleagues seem to be predicting Nyong’o, but my gut feeling is that Lawrence pulls it out in the end. An absolute shock would have Squibb sneaking in at the last minute, but I wouldn’t count on that. A Nyong’o win wouldn’t surprise me in the least, but I’m seeing a Lawrence victory at this current juncture. We’ll know for a sure in just a few days though…
That’s it for these categories, so stay tuned for the Academy Awards on Sunday night to see what actually happens!

Oscars: Get to know the Best Supporting Actor race

Best Supporting Actor
Nominees: Barkhad Abdi for Captain Phillips, Bradley Cooper for American Hustle, Michael Fassbender for 12 Years a Slave, Jonah Hill for The Wolf of Wall Street, and Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club
Notable precursor wins: Abdi wins BAFTA Award, while Leto wins Broadcast Film Critics, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild Awards
Current frontrunner: Jared Leto
Next in line: Bradley Cooper
Dark horse: Barkhad Abdi
Continuing on with my “Get to know” series, we now have our penultimate piece as we turn our attention today to the Best Supporting Actor race. As you can see in the vital statistics above, the gentlemen making up this category are Barkhad Abdi for Captain Phillips, Bradley Cooper for American Hustle, Michael Fassbender for 12 Years a Slave, Jonah Hill for The Wolf of Wall Street, and Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club. More or less the whole season, it’s been Leto’s Oscar to lose, and as he’s picked up win after win, that line of thinking has only gotten more common. At this point, he’s potentially the biggest lock of them all.
From the start of the precursors, Leto has all but swept the ceremonies, with the one exception being Abdi emerging victorious from BAFTA, where Leto wasn’t eligible/nominated. Especially with Matthew McConaughey likely to win Best Actor, that only increases the likelihood of Leto taking Supporting Actor. If you’re expecting anyone else to win, you’re quite frankly a bit on the delusional side.
Now, unless there’s an absolute shocker of an upset, Leto is going to be an Oscar winner on Sunday evening. Abdi and possibly even Bradley Cooper are the next in line contenders, but they’re runners up in the strongest sense of the word. The Leto train is pretty much unstoppable, so look for it to pull into the Oscar station in a few days time and pick up an Academy Award for Leto. You can all but mark it down in ink.
Stay tuned for the conclusion of the acting categories tomorrow, with Best Supporting Actress up next to wrap things up!

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