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Posts Tagged ‘Afghanistan’

Monday October 25th, 2010

YOUR DAILY FIX OF OSCAR: 10/25/10

  • Collider: Jeff Ames comments on a report from an Australian Web site that Warner Brothers “has expressed interest in a sequel” to Christopher Nolan’s “Inception,” which was released domestically this summer and has earned nearly $811 million internationally. Ames writes, “Nolan clearly enjoyed the experience of making the film and has recently stated plans to develop a video game based on the concept,” but “there really isn’t a logical way to further explore the world” portrayed in the film aside from a prequel — especially after Sir Michael Caine’s spoiler-slip on BBC Radio last month — so it will all depend on Nolan’s personal level of interest.
  • Cinematical: Chris Campbell reviews the history of celebrity narration of documentaries, a phenomenon that he says “has been around since the early days of sound cinema.” Originally, the primary candidate was seen as one who had a “deep and/or distinguished speech easily associated with either the ‘voice of god’ concept of omniscient narration or a kind of informed, journalistic quality.” More recently, however, filmmakers have turned to “subject-appropriate” talent. Matt Damon, for instance, was recruited to narrate “Inside Job” not only because he has a familar voice and character, but because is also “known to have political concerns in an intelligent way,” according to director Charles Ferguson.
  • The Wrap: Steve Pond explains the rules that determine the number of nominees in the best animated feature category — “it requires 16 qualifying films in order to reach a five-film ballot; any less would result in the nominations of only three, as it has in seven out of the nine years of its existence” — and confirms that the Japanese anime film “Summer Warswill be among the 2010 qualifiers, bringing the year’s total to 14, thus far. He notes that there are “enough question marks remaining to conceivably put the 16-film mark within reach,” but with the November 1 paperwork-deadline fast approaching, the number will probably stay at three. (The most likely nominees: “Toy Story 3,” “How to Train Your Dragon,” and “Tangled.”)
  • New York Times: Michael Cieply discusses the long history of American movies that “have helped get the country in gear when the solution to a crisis depends at least in part on new resolve and a boost to the spirits,” but mourns the fact that present-day filmmakers have been comparably slow to offer the same sort of cinematic salve. “They have been quick enough to spot Wall Street gone awry,” he writes, but “have offered little in the way of solace for Main Street… mostly, Hollywood has offered escape into fantasies.” He singles out John Wells’s upcoming “The Company Men” as an exception, noting that the film celebrates “a resilience in the American character.”
  • Hollywood-Elsewhere: Jeff Wells fears that Anne Hathaway may be denied a best actress nod for “Love and Other Drugs” because of “one of the oldest award-season prejudices” — namely, a strong distaste for romantic-comedies and people who are a part of them. Jeff scans the blogosphere and finds that “awards handicappers aren’t biting” — he cites Scott as one of just two who currently have her listed as a serious contender — but the truth is that many prognosticators simply haven’t yet seen her film.
  • Thompson on Hollywood: Anne Thompson questions the awards potential of Tyler Perry’s “For Colored Girls,” an adaptation of a hit Broadway play that boasts an all-star cast of black women. “If you’re serious about an Oscar campaign,” she writes, “you don’t hesitate to show your movie.” Thus far, the film has only been screened for Hollywood’s trade papers, Variety and The Hollywood Reporter — both of which trashed it in their reviews — leading Thompson to believe that Lionsgate’s awards campaign for the film may just be the studio’s way of “making nice to a favorite house director” who has made them a ton of money over the years.
  • New York Times: Dexter Filkins reports that Joao Silva, 44, one of the four original members of “The Bang Bang Club” — a group of war-zone photographers chronicled in an upcoming film of that same name — and one of only two still alive, was severely wounded on Saturday after stepping on a land mine in southern Afghanistan, where he was on assignment for the Times. (Meanwhile, Greg Marinovich, the club’s only other surviving member, pays tribute to “my best friend and soul brother” in a post on his Web site.)
  • Awards Daily: Sasha Stone observes that latest sort of “clever marketing” that some studios are doing on behalf of their awards hopefuls is creating Web sites that use a memorable quotes from a film as a URL and iconic images from it as a welcome page  — for instance, Columbia’s for “The Social Network” (http://www.youknowwhatscool.com/) and Fox Searchlight’s for “Black Swan” (http://www.ijustwanttobeperfect.com/). As Stone notes, it’s “a fairly low-tech way of [potentially] getting the film and its themes to go viral.”
  • Moviefone: Erik Childress scans the list of best actor contenders and concludes that Colin Firth (“The King’s Speech”), James Franco (“127 Hours”), and Robert Duvall (“Get Low”) are all “locks.” He then makes his way through the numerous options for the category’s other two slots, before arriving at the realization that all of his efforts might prove irrelevant if Paramount decides to campaign for Christian Bale (who is really Mark Wahlberg’s co-lead in “The Fighter”) in the best actor — rather than best supporting actor — category.
  • Political Ticker…: Former spy Valerie Plame Wilson and former ambassador Joseph Wilson, the married couple who are portrayed by Naomi Watts and Sean Penn in Doug Liman’s “Fair Game,” stopped by CNN’s “The Situation Room” on Friday for a lengthy segment with host Wolf Blitzer to promote the film.
  • New York Magazine: Kevin Gray sits down with Valerie Plame Wilson, the former spy, and Naomi Watts, the actress who portrays her in “Fair Game.” His objective was ostensibly to interview the two women, who have become friends, but they wind up largely chatting with each other about similar challenges that they have faced in their careers, marriages, dealing with the media, and more.
  • The Film Experience: Nathaniel Rogers marks the 93rd birthday of 1941 best actress Oscar winner Joan Fontaine (“Suspicion”) by listing the 50 oldest living Oscar nominees, noting, “We want the following to know that their past accomplishments are acknowledged by new generations.” (Scott tells me has interviewed 11 of them for his in-progress book about old movies for young people, including the oldest, 100-year-old 1936 and 1937 best actress Oscar winner Luise Rainer (“The Great Ziegfeld” and “The Good Earth,” respectively).
Photo: Leonardo DiCaprio and Christopher Nolan on the set of “Inception.” Credit: Warner Brothers.

Sunday August 29th, 2010

2010: THE YEAR OF THE DOCUMENTARY

Since I first started covering the annual awards seasons a decade ago, one of the most striking trends I have observed has been a marked uptick in the quantity and quality of documentary features. Each November, the Academy’s documentary branch selects 15 for a shortlist from which they ultimately pick five nominees. This year, I don’t know how they’re going to do it — Fall hasn’t even arrived yet and there are already way more than 15 worthy candidates. Frankly, I don’t think it would be going out on a huge limb to declare 2010 the strongest — or, at the very least, the deepest — year yet in the history of documentary filmmaking.

Here’s a bit of commentary on each of the docs that are registering strongest on my radar at the moment…

Now in Theaters

  • “The Tillman Story” (The Weinstein Company, 8/20, trailer) — Amir Bar-Lev (“My Kid Could Paint That”) tells the true story of the man who gave up a multi-million dollar NFL contract to join the U.S. Army; who was killed in Iraq in 2004; whose “heroic” death the Bush Administration tried to use to increase public support for the war; but whose family — most of whom granted interviews for the film — ultimately discovered that the true manner in which he had been killed had been buried as part of a cover-up that led directly to the highest reaches of the military and government.
  • “A Film Unfinished” (Oscilloscope, 8/18, trailer) — The object of recents raves in Entertainment Weekly and the New York Times, Yael Hersonski‘s doc deconstructs “Das Ghetto,” a Nazi propaganda film of Jewish life in the Warsaw Ghetto that was shot in 1942, and which for 40 years was considered to be unmanipulated footage until another reel was discovered and exposes it as anything but that. The most powerful part of this multi-faceted effort to set the record straight: testimony from five Holocaust survivors who lived in the ghetto, as well as one of the cameramen who filmed it.

Read the rest of this entry »