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Posts Tagged ‘Hoop Dreams’

Sunday January 20th, 2013

The History Of Sundance Films’ Pursuit Of The Oscars

By Joey Magidson
Film Contributor


Greetings from Park City, everyone! As I’m writing this piece, I’m in Utah attending the Sundance Film Festival. So far, it has been pretty cool (if a bit overwhelming at times), especially for a first-timer like myself. Being here inspired me to try and tie in the festival to the Oscars, as I’m prone to do with just about everything that I can. I’ve found that I’m on the lookout for what could move from this year’s festival lineup to the next awards season.

When I wrote about which film festivals influence the Oscar race a few weeks ago (found here), I mentioned how Sundance wasn’t the prime destination for awards hopefuls but still functioned as an essential launching pad. That was certainly true this year, and it will remain the case going forward.

It takes a certain kind of movie to make it from Park City to Hollywood for the Academy Awards. Not only do Sundance debuts have to deal with coming on the scene in January (at least a month before the previous Oscar ceremony even airs), but they also have to be picked up by a distributor with a solid game plan, released theatrically at a prime date and connect with both the independent, art house crowd and a broader audience of movie lovers.

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Friday November 18th, 2011

Academy’s Doc Shortlist Includes — and Leaves Out — Plenty of Great Films (Analysis)

Each year when the Academy’s documentary branch screening committee announces its  shortlist of 15 films from which the five best documentary (feature) Oscar contenders will be  selected, as they did today, there are inevitably a few  omissions that leave doc buffs stunned. This year is no exception.

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Wednesday January 26th, 2011


  • The Hollywood Reporter: Sofia M. Fernandez received word today from Fandango editor Chuck Walton that “The King’s Speech,” which opened eight weeks ago, is — on the heels of receiving 12 Oscar nominations yesterday — today’s top-selling movie ticket, with sales up about 75% from the same day last week. Walton also notes that the film “has received more ‘Must Go’ user ratings” on Fandango than any other film of the last few months.”
  • Company Town: Ben Fritz learns about some of Harvey Weinstein’s plans for “The King’s Speech” to try to capitalize on its nominations and “rope in more movie-going commoners who normally wouldn’t go near a historical drama about a British king.” Among them: “re-editing the movie to excise coarse language and secure a lower rating that will open [the film] to a broader audience” (although “a recut version wouldn’t hit theaters until after the Oscars ceremony”), as well as a publicity campaign that will launch around Valentine’s Day and encourage people to “see it with the person who inspired you and changed your life.”
  • Awards Daily: Sasha Stone passes along the news that the 26th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival has decided to honor “The King’s Speech” with its first ever “best motion picture ensemble award.” The film’s Oscar nominated lead actor Colin Firth, supporting actor Geoffrey Rush, supporting actress Helena Bonham Carter, and director Tom Hooper will be on hand to accept the honor when it is presented on Monday evening following a long-planned tribute to Rush, specifically.
  • Slate: Christopher Hitchens, meanwhile, rains a little on “The King’s Speech” parade, describing it as “an extremely well-made film with a seductive human interest plot” but also “a major desecration of the historical record.” He alleges that “it perpetrates a gross falsification of history” in the way that it depicts Winston Churchill (who is played in the film by Timothy Spall). He writes, “[Churchill] is shown as a consistent friend of the stuttering prince and his loyal princess and as a man generally in favor of a statesmanlike solution to the crisis of the abdication,” but, in fact, “was — for as long as he dared — a consistent friend of conceited, spoiled, Hitler-sympathizing [King] Edward VIII” (who is played in the film by Guy Pearce). Hitchens asks, “Would the true story not have been fractionally more interesting for the audience?”
  • Washington Post: Valerie Strauss believes that the Academy’s documentary branch “”got it right” when it denied “Waiting for ‘Superman’” a best documentary (feature) Oscar nomination yesterday. She argues that “classic documentaries are factual and straightforward, and don’t, as did ‘Superman,’ fake scenes for emotional impact.” She further alleges, “[Director Davis] Guggenheim edited the film to make it seem as if charter schools are a systemic answer to the ills afflicting many traditional public schools, even though they can’t be, by their very design. He unfairly demonized Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, and gave undeserved hero status to reformer and former D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee.”
  • Washington City Paper: Benjamin R. Freed, a columnist who has frequently criticized the arguments made in “Waiting for ‘Superman’,” writes that he, too, “was quite pleased to find… that it did not make the final cut for the Academy Awards.” For his post, he contacted me asking my opinion, and I told him, “It was as well-run an Oscar campaign as you can have for a documentary,” and noted that the film’s prospects were probably hurt by having to compete with “The Lottery,” a similarly-themed film that was also on the short-list of 15 from which the 5 nominees were eventually selected. I added that the snub of the popular film will undoubtedly come to be regarded as one of the branch’s most inexplicable omissions, alongside the likes of “Shoah” (1985), “The Thin Blue Line” (1988), “Roger and Me” (1989), “Hoop Dreams” (1994), and “Grizzly Man” (2005).
  • Hollywood, Esq.: Eriq Gardner, meanwhile, describes the legal problems currently facing the subject of the documentaries that was nominated yesterday, Banksy’s “Exit Through the Gift Shop.” Thierry Guetta, also known as “Mr. Brainwash,” has been embroiled for months now in a lawsuit in which Glen E. Friedman, another artist, alleges that Guetta “took his copyrighted photo without consent and made derivatives” for his “Life Is Beautiful” exhibition (which is prominently featured in the documentary). Gardner reports that as part of his defense, Guetta gave a sworn deposition, under the penalty of perjury, stating “that the artwork was his own and not, as some have speculated, a fabrication by Banksy.”
  • New York Times: Michael Cieply reports that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association claimed “in a little-noticed court filing [last] Tuesday]” that its ongoing legal battle with Dick Clark Productions, the longtime producer of its annual Golden Globe Awards telecast, might prevent next year’s show from happening at all because “there might not be time to find a new producer, a network and advertisers for next January’s show.” The HFPA is accusing the production company of “absconding with rights to the show by unilaterally reaching a new eight-year broadcast agreement with NBC, the network that now broadcasts the ceremony.” Dick Clark Productions, meanwhile, has asked for the lawsuit to be dismissed.

Photo: Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter in “The King’s Speech.” Credit: The Weinstein Company.