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Countdown to Oscars

Posts Tagged ‘Countdown to Zero’

Monday November 8th, 2010


  • indieWIRE: Peter Knegt reports that Roman Polanski’s dramatic thriller “The Ghost Writer” garnered a field-leading seven nominations for the 2010 European Film Awards including one for best film. “The most notable aspect of the nominations,” he writes, “was the fairly remarkable batch of films absent from the awards’ top category,” including Mike Leigh’s “Another Year,” Luca Guadagnino’s “I Am Love,” Olivier Assayas’s “Carlos,” Abbas Kiarostami’s “Certified Copy,” and Sylvain Chomet’s “The Illusionist.” Knegt adds, though, that “some of those films picked up nominations in other categories.” Winners will be announced at a ceremony on December 4 in Tallinn, Estonia.
  • New York Times: A.O. Scott visits with his great uncle, the legendary character actor Eli Wallach, less than a week before the Academy presents the 94-year-old with an honorary Oscar at its second annual Governors Awards ceremony.
  • Virgin Media: An unattributed report features quotes from the actress Mila Kunis about her portrayal of Natalie Portman’s nemesis in the soon-to-be-released thriller “Black Swan.” Regarding her lesbian sex scene with Portman, Kunis acknowledged, “It is slightly uncomfortable to have to be intimate with a good friend. The scene’s important for the character, but we went in going, ‘This is going to be a little different,’ yeah.” Kunis added, “She’s the strangest character I’ve ever played.”
  • New York Times: Manohla Dargis dissects director Tyler Perry (“For Colored Girls”), a film industry phenomenon who “has been led out to critical slaughter so many times, it might seem a wonder that he continues to make movies,” but who has found “enormous commercial success with a mainly black audience.” As Dargis puts it, “Whether you like Mr. Perry’s work may depend on your color or sex or love of boiling melodrama, ribald comedy, abrupt tonal shifts, blunt social messages, unforced talk about God, and flourishes of camp, sometimes whipped together in one scene.”
  • indieWIRE: Peter Knegt breaks down the impressive box-office numbers generated this weekend by “127 Hours,” which played in just four theaters in New York and Los Angeles but raked in $265,925 revenue from — or, in other words, “a whopping $66,481 per-theater-average.” That number comes close to but does not surpass 2010’s record, which is held by “The Kids Are All Right,” which brought in $70,282-per-seven screens this past July, but it is “now the clear runner-up, beating out ‘The Ghost Writer‘ and ‘Cyrus,’ which each had debut averages around $45,000.”
  • The Observer: Sean O’Hagan chats about cinema’s “digital revolution” with Hussain Currimbhoy, curator of Britain’s Sheffield Doc/Fest. The duo specifically focus on the unprecedented access to “affordable high-end digital camera and laptop technology,” and Lucy Walker, the young director of two of this year’s top docs — “Countdown to Zero” and “Waste Land” — insists that this low-budget technologyis responsible for “a golden age of documentary filmmaking” that is now upon us.
  • 24 Frames: Amy Kaufman sits down with three of Hollywood’s hottest young stars — Jesse Eisenberg, 27, Andrew Garfield, 27, and Carey Mulligan, 25 — to discuss the ways in which they handle “the challenges of global stardom as twentysomethings,” as well the perks of the job (including private jets, which Eisenberg tells her he enjoys because they are bigger than his New York City apartment.) This year, Eisenberg and Garfield co-starred in “The Social Network” and Garfield and Mulligan co-starred in “Never Let Me Go.”
  • Vanity Fair: Kate Reardon profiles the up-and-coming French actress Clemence Poesy, who American audiences will soon come to know as the ex-girlfriend of Aron Ralston (James Franco) in Danny Boyle’s heart-pounding “127 Hours.” The 27-year-old, described as “polite, enthusiastic, and well educated,” will subsequently star in the title role of a new adaptation of the Joan of Arc story.
  • 24 Frames: Steven Zeitchik wonders what exactly propelled Bruce Beresford’s “Mao’s Last Dancer,” an Australian-produced film that “features no big-name stars, drew mediocre reviews, and traffics in the esoterica of Chinese ballet,” to become one of the most acclaimed art-house hits of the year. “Despite a tough climate for specialty films,” Zeitchik writes, “the largely English-language movie is nearing the $5 million mark in U.S. box office ($4.5 million coming into this weekend) — an impressive run that’s lasted nearly three months.”
  • New York Times: Margalit Fox mourns the passing of actress Jill Clayburgh, who died on Friday at the age of 66 following a 21-year battle with chronic leukemia. Clayburgh, who was best known for her strong feminist roles — especially those in “An Unmarried Woman” (1978) and “Starting Over” (1979), both of which brought her best actress Oscar nods — and whose final performance can be seen in the upcoming “Love and Other Drugs,” in which she portrays the mother of Jake Gyllenhaal’s character.
  • Movieline: Dixon Gaines reports that Oscar show producers Bruce Cohen and Don Mischer asked Hugh Jackman, who hosted the 81st Academy Awards in 2009, to host the 83rd Academy Awards on February 27, 2011, but were turned down by the actor. Gaines, therefore, offers a few “humble suggestions” for others to whom the producers could turn: among them, Neil Patrick Harris, Steve Martin, Ricky Gervais, Tina Fey, and Joan Rivers. (Other reports suggest that 88-year-old Betty White is being seriously considered for the job!)

Photo: Ewan McGregor in “The Ghost Writer.” Credit: Summit.

Sunday September 26th, 2010


Photo: Valerie Plame Wilson and Naomi Watts at the Cannes Film Festival premiere of “Fair Game.” Credit: Celebrity-Event.com.

Sunday August 29th, 2010


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.

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