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Countdown to Oscars

Posts Tagged ‘Please Give’

Thursday January 6th, 2011

YOUR DAILY FIX OF OSCAR: 1/6/11

  • Entertainment Weekly: Dave Karger speaks with Julia Roberts after a special screening of “Biutiful” at CAA that she hosted for industry insiders to help call attention to the performance of her “Eat Pray Love” co-star Javier Bardem. (Robert Forster, Kyle MacLachlan, and Bardem’s pregnant wife Penelope Cruz were among the attendees.) Roberts explains, “I think the movie hasn’t gotten the exposure. You don’t know where it is. It’s like this hidden little jewel… I just have a great appreciation for what he went through to show us all this.”
  • Deadline Hollywood: Mike Fleming interviews producer-extraordinaire Scott Rudin, who this week became the first producer to receive PGA Award nominations for two features in the same year (for “The Social Network” and “True Grit”), and who will also be receiving the David O. Selznick Achievement Award at the PGA Awards ceremony. Rudin credits his “great [producing] partners on both” and emphasizes that while “the Oscar stuff is fantastic, rewarding and in some ways exciting… it’s not why you do it. You do it because you want to hold your own work to a standard of excellence.” He also notes that while he was heavily involved with the pre-production of both films (he worked closely with the screenwriters, for instance, while they formulated their scripts), he stayed out of the way of the directors during the filmmaking process itself.
  • Awards Tracker: Tom O’Neil advises those who believe that “True Grit” is now the best picture favorite just because it has done well at the box-office ($91.5 million and counting) to “hold your horses.” He submits that “financial success isn’t as important as it used to be to Oscar victory,” citing the fact the best picture Oscar winner went to films that earned at least $100 million domestically 75% of the time between 1986 and 2005, but that 60% of those since have gone to films that did not, including “Crash” ($54 million), “No Country for Old Men” ($74 million), and “The Hurt Locker” ($14 million, or $746 million less than it’s fellow nominee “Avatar”).
  • Hollywood-Elsewhere: Jeff Wells passes along an andorsement of the work of the cinematographer Hoyt Van Hoytema on “The Fighter” from legendary cinematographer Michael Chapman, who lensed perhaps the greatest boxing movie of all-time, “Raging Bull” (1980), among other classics. Chapman writes, “The movie struck me as doing the basic thing that cinematography does when it’s done well, which is to present a three-dimensional stage in which the actors can move.”
  • The Carpetbagger: Larry Rother mourns the fact that the French film “Carlos,” one of the most critically-beloved movies of 2010, is ineligible for Oscar consideration in any category this year “because of a quirk in the rules set by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences.” The film “was initially broadcast on French television before it was packaged and sold abroad for distribution, in two different versions, one long and one short, as a feature film,” which constitutes a violation of an Academy rule that states, “Films that, in any version, receive their first public exhibition or distribution in any manner other than as a theatrical motion picture release will not be eligible for Academy Awards in any category.”
  • Vulture: Jordana Horn asks Quentin Tarantino why he omitted Sofia Coppola’s “Somewhere” — the film to which the Venice Film Festival jury, over which he presided, awarded the Golden Lion back in September — from his year-end top 20 film list. “I’m a little embarrassed by it, actually,” Tarantino says, explaining, “It was never meant to be a dig against ‘Somewhere,’ or Sofia. I simply didn’t consider any of the films I’d seen in Venice for the list.” I put them in a separate box — I was on official duty at that time, not seeing the films theatrically, independently… Now I wish I’d put it on there — I didn’t think anyone would pay attention.” He adds, “I’d have put it in my top 10.”

Photo: Javier Bardem and Julia Roberts. Credit: Entertainment Weekly.

Thursday December 30th, 2010

YOUR DAILY FIX OF OSCAR: 12/30/10

  • The Hot Blog: David Poland claims that “True Grit,” the Coen brothers Western, “has muscled its way into the frontrunner slot to win best picture” as a result of its solid box-office performance over the long Christmas weekend. (It generated $36.1 million, good enough for second place behind “Little Fockers,” which brought in only $9 million more.) Methinks Poland is too smart to actually believe that and is just hoping to generate some late phase one traffic to his site and/or be the one guy who made a crazy pick that somehow came true (as Tom O’Neil attempted last year with “Inglourious Basterds”). Jeff Wells (here) and Sasha Stone (here) seem to concur.
  • Entertainment Weekly: Dave Karger obtains a strange letter sent by “Buried” screenwriter Chris Sparling to members of the Academy’s writing branch urging them to honor his script with a best original screenplay nomination. Karger calls it “one of the more brazen Oscar campaign tactics I’ve ever seen,” and I would have to agree — in fact, the only precedent for it that I can think of is the newspaper ad that Chill Wills took out pleading for a best supporting actor Oscar for his performance in “The Alamo” (1960).
  • The Odds: Steve Pond learns that several of “the most acclaimed film scripts of the year” — including “Another Year,” “Blue Valentine,” “The King’s Speech,” “Toy Story 3,” “Winter’s Bone” — have been left off the Writers Guild of America’s list of films eligible for WGA Awards “because of guild rules that restrict nominations to films that are written for productions that are signatories to the guild’s Minimum Basic Agreement, or the agreements of several affiliated international guilds.” He adds, “In other words, the Writers Guild Awards are not set up to indiscriminately honor the best films of the year — their purpose is to honor the best films produced by WGA members, or under WGA guidelines.”
  • Deadline Hollywood: Pete Hammond breaks down Newmarket’s unconventional awards strategy for “The Way Back,” which is “aiming not to be first, but dead last” — not when it comes to voting, of course, but in terms of when its screeners land in the mailboxes of voters. Hammond, based on his conversations with publicists working on the film, writes, “The thinking was that, rather than getting lost in the pile of hopeful discs, it would be fresh in mind just as members start thinking seriously about filling out their ballot.” He also notes that “Oscar voters who would prefer to see the film in a commercial theatre this week… will have to trek to Covina, on the outskirts of L.A. County, for the one-week Academy qualifying run… the distrib didn’t want to blow its marketing wad on a December 29th qualifying release date but to save its money for the true rollout scheduled for January 21st when [the film] will open on several hundred screens, including those probably a bit closer for Acad members… The thinking is also that Academy voters are realistically more likely to watch the film on DVD than in a theatre.”
  • Gold Derby: Tom O’Neil passes along Tuesday’s announcement from the United States Postal Service that it will be unveiling, on August 19, 2011, a series of stamps featuring the Pixar characters Remy the rat and Linguini from “Ratatouille” (2007); the robot WALL-E from “WALL-E” (2008); Carl Fredricksen and Dug from “Up” (2009); Lightning McQueen and Mater from “Cars” (2006); and Buzz Lightyear and two of the green, three-eyed aliens from “Toy Story” (1995), “Toy Story 2” (1999), and “Toy Story 3” (2010).
  • HitFix: Greg Ellwood recalls that “there used to be a time when getting your Academy Award contending star or film on the cover of Entertainment Weekly‘s annual first ‘Oscar issue’ was a big deal,” but notes that today “you hardly hear anyone talking about who made the front page of [the] New York Times.” Still, there’s no denying that it’s a big deal that Fox Searchlight managed to land not one but both of its top acting contenders — best actor hopeful James Franco (“127 Hours”) and best actress hopeful Natalie Portman (“Black Swan”) — on the cover(s) of this year’s edition(s).
  • Los Angeles Times: Amy Kaufman reports that the 23-year-old actor Miles Teller, who portrays a teenager who accidentally kills a boy with his car in “Rabbit Hole,” was himself almost killed in a car accident a few years ago. Kaufman writes, “After spending a few days at a Connecticut music festival, he and two buddies were road tripping home to Florida. Cruising down the highway at 75 mph, Teller’s friend tried to switch lanes and nearly hit another vehicle. He jerked the steering wheel back but lost control of the car, which went across three lanes of traffic, into a grass median, and flipped seven times.”
  • Vulture: Kyle Buchanan teases New York Press critic Armond White, a notorious contrarian, by sharing excerpts of his reviews of several of the year’s most widely admired films, noting that “sure enough, White is a hard man to please.” Among his targets: “The Social Network” (“simply Hollywood’s way, post-Obama, of sanctioning Harvard’s ‘masters of the universe’ mystique”); “The King’s Speech” (“so poorly staged that its ineptitude sometimes borders on the avant-garde”); “The Kids Are All Right” (“a sitcom primed to flatter mainstream sensibility”); and “Toy Story 3” (“essentially a bored game that only the brainwashed will buy into… ‘Transformers 2’ already explored the same plot to greater thrill and opulence”).
  • The Playlist: Chris Bell, Kevin Jagernauth, Oliver Lyttleton, Drew Taylor, and Gabe Toro compile a list of what they regard as “27 of the most underrated and underappreciated films of 2010.” Among their selections: “The American” (see: George Clooney’s “startlingly rich internal performance”), “Please Give” (see: “Nicole Holofcener’s whipsmart screenplay”), “Ondine” (see: “Christopher Doyle’s gorgeous cinematography and Sigur Ros members’ elegiac score”), and “Stone” (see: “Milla Jovovich, who turns in a performance as sexy as it is powerful”).
  • BoxOffice.com: Phil Contrino conducts the debut BoxOffice.com podcast with guests Jeff Wells and yours truly. Over the course of about 30 minutes, we discuss “Biutiful” and “Blue Valentine,” which both opened in limited release yesterday; the astonishing performance of “True Grit” at the box-office over the long Christmas weekend; and the historic relevance — or lack thereof — of commercial performance when it comes to the Academy’s selection of the best documentary (feature) nominees, in connection with the performance of some of this year’s short-listed contenders (“Waiting for ‘Superman’,” “Inside Job,” and “Exit Through the Gift Shop” have done quite well, whereas “Waste Land” is struggling).

Photo: Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld in “True Grit.” Credit: Paramount.

Wednesday December 1st, 2010

YOUR DAILY FIX OF OSCAR: 12/1/10

  • Los Angeles Times: An unattributed report filed late tonight states, “A man believed to be connected to the slaying of veteran Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen fatally shot himself at a Hollywood hotel Wednesday evening as Beverly Hills police were serving a search warrant there.” It continues, “The name of the man was not released, and his exact connection to the Chasen murder case was not immediately known. The shooting occurred after 6 p.m., according to two law enforcement sources who spoke on the condition that they not be named.”
  • The Odds: Steve Pond reports that some people close to the Academy are concerned about the implications of the recently-announced decision that actors James Franco and Anne Hathaway will be hosting the 2011 Academy Awards. Both are Oscar contenders this year — Franco is “all-but-certain” to get a best actor nod for “127 Hours” and Hathaway is a “long-shot” possibility for a best actress nod for ““Love and Other Drugs” — and these people believe that the selection of them is akin to “giving the Academy’s seal of approval to those two performers, and by extension their performances.” Academy president Tom Sherak, though, pointed out that nominees have hosted seven times in the past, most recently in 1987, and insists “it makes no difference to us.” (Nevertheless, one consultant insisted, “I don’t work with Colin Firth [the best actor favorite for “The King’s Speech”], but if I did, I would be worried that Franco is going to get a lot of goodwill out of this.”)
  • Screen Junkies: An unattributed interview with “The Fighter” director David O. Russell sheds light on some of the drama that unfolded during the making of the film courtesy of the colorful Wards/Eklunds of Lowell, Massachusetts, whose unusual family dynamics are largely its subject. “I thought they might be some very harsh people that I wouldn’t want to spend ten minutes with,” Russell confessed, but notes, “The fact is, the people are so unbelievably lovable. I still hang out with them.” (Still, Christian Bale, who plays Dickie Eklund in the film, notes, “There were a couple of times I had to physically restrain Dickie from going and landing one right on David… There were some script changes going on, and Dickie wasn’t initially totally understanding that sometimes in putting a whole life into two hours, a little bit of license has to be taken and mixing things up. He wanted everything initially to be absolutely how it was portrayed. And if it wasn’t, there was a couple of times he would say, ‘I’m gonna go and I’m gonna get him.’ So there’s a couple of times I’d be going, ‘No, no, no.’ Then we’d talk and David would talk with him.”)
    • Wax Word: Sharon Waxman reports that former United States Congressman Tom Davis (R-VA) is “the front-runner candidate” for the MPAA chairman position that was vacated in January by former Secretary of Agriculture Daniel Glickman. Davis, who is known for his expertise in the field of intellectual property, has reportedly “met most of the heads of the six major movie companies in the MPAA… [but] one individual knowledgable about the moguls’ views said that, ‘There are still question marks’ about Davis.”

    Photo: Ronni Chasen. Credit: Getty Images.

    Wednesday October 27th, 2010

    YOUR DAILY FIX OF OSCAR: 10/27/10

    • Deadline Hollywood: Pete Hammond writes up the 14th annual Hollywood Awards, which “drew an impressive star turnout” Monday evening at the Beverly Hilton. The honorees included the following: best actor Robert Duvall (“Get Low”), best actress Annette Bening (“The Kids Are All Right”), best supporting actor Sam Rockwell (“Conviction”), best supporting actress Helena Bonham Carter (“The King’s Speech”), best director Tom Hooper (“The King’s Speech”), best producers Danny Boyle and Christian Colson (“127 Hours”), and the cast of “The Social Network,” which won best ensemble.
    • Gold Derby: Tom O’Neil reports that the latest DVD screener to arrive in Academy members’ mailboxes — on the heels of “Animal Kingdom” and “Mother and Child” (9/29) and “City Island,” “Please Give,” “Solitary Man,” and “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger” (10/15) — is Debra Granik’s “Winter’s Bone,” which showed up for most of them on Friday. As you may recall, the film received a field-leading three nominations for the Gotham Independent Film Awards last week and was released on DVD yesterday.
    • The Wrap: Steve Pond learns that concerns raised yesterday by Guy Lodge about the Oscar eligibility of “Frankie and Alice” were unwarranted. Pond obtained emails that show the film’s production company contacted the Academy in November 2009 seeking details about the submission process, but the following month — after the Academy’s “reminder list” had been published with “Frankie and Alice” on it — “informed [them] that the film would not be opening in 2009 after all.” Academy spokesman Leslie Unger confirms that merely “having been included on the list last year” — as opposed to having had a one-week qualifying run on at least one screen in New York and Los Angeles — “does not disqualify it.”
    • In Contention: Guy Lodge wishes that the Academy would lighten up and give a best actress nod to Emma Stone for her “frisky, funny and stealthily wise performance” in “Easy A,” a “bubbly teen comedy,” but acknowledges that they rarely recognize “unadulterated comic fluff” in the category — indeed, one has to go back almost a decade to find the last time they did, when Renee Zellweger snuck in for “Bridget Jones’s Diary” (2001). As Guy puts it, “when the dish goes down that easily, one can forget how much expertise goes into making it rise.”
    • Movie Line: S.T. VanAirsdale performs a post-mortem on “Hereafter,” the clunky drama written by Peter Morgan and directed by Clint Eastwood — both highly-respected Oscar winners — that has received a luke-warm critical and commercial response. After reviewing the evidence, VanAirsdale divides the blame between both men: that the root of the problem, he says, was Eastwood’s rush to turn Morgan’s screenplay into a film (even though Morgan says it was a rough draft written “very sketchily” and “in a disgracefully short period”), and Morgan’s willingness to let him do so before he was pleased with it.
    • Hollywood-Elsewhere: Jeff Wells surveys the Oscar punditocracy to try to establish whether or not “I Am Love” star Tilda Swinton might snag a best actress nod for her performance in the two-hour-long subtitled Italian film. (Scott told him, “She has a very real shot… she’s very popular among her fellow actors, who admire her fiercely independent streak on-screen and off.”) Swinton’s rep told Wells that in a few weeks “she will be in L.A. for a big round of screenings and then on to New York” and that “Magnolia will be sending screeners to the entire Academy, SAG nominating committee, and HFPA, for starters.”
    • Time: Nate Jones interviews Sir Michael Caine, who is currently making the rounds promoting his newly-released memoirs “The Elephant to Hollywood,” and asks him several questions about the director Christopher Nolan, with whom Caine has collaborated on four films over the last six years — “Batman Begins” (2005), “The Prestige” (2006), “The Dark Knight” (2008), and “Inception” (2010) — and challenges him to explain “Inception” in just one sentence, to which Caine offers the tremendously helpful response, “If I’m in a scene, it’s real; if I’m not, it’s not.”
    • Politics Daily: Bonnie Goldstein notes that last Wednesday, just days after President Barack Obama hosted director Davis Guggenheim and the young subjects of his doc “Waiting for ‘Superman’” at the White House, the president’s half-sister Maya Soetoro-Ng — a “lifelong educator” (she was a high school history teacher and university instructor in Hawaii)” – wrote “an unsolicited email to her friends and family” urging them to see the film, which she believes will “help people to see the importance of graceful negotiation when trying to change a system and recognize the true power of persuasion.”
    • Deadline New York: Mike Fleming confirms that the Film Independent Spirit Awards (aka the “Indie Spirit Awards”), “one of the most enjoyable Oscar weekend events,” will be returning to the beach in Santa Monica and the Saturday before Oscars Sunday, just as it was held for years prior to last year — its 25th anniversary — when it was relocated to downtown Los Angeles and held on the Friday before Oscars Sunday.

    Photo: Emma Stone in “Easy A.” Credit: Screen Gems.

    Monday October 18th, 2010

    SONY CLASSICS FIGHTS GOOD FIGHT FOR EVEN LEAST LIKELY CONTENDERS

    Nobody can say that Sony Pictures Classics hasn’t done right by its films this Oscar season — even those with paper-thin prospects of making it to the big show in February. At a time when no other studio has mailed even one DVD “screener” to Academy members — the barrage typically starts in November — SPC has already gotten four into their hands: David Michod’s “Animal Kingdom” (8/13, trailer), Rodrigo Garcia’s “Mother and Child” (5/7, trailer), Nicole Holofcener’s “Please Give” (4/30, trailer), and Woody Allen’s “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger” (9/22, trailer). SPC, as you may recall, knows as well as any studio that special things can happen by simply getting a worthy film — however small and obscure — seen by voters before they are inundated with more (and more familiar) titles; just two years ago, their little Sundance acquisition “Frozen River” was the first screener mailed out, and it wound up with Oscar nods for best actress and best original screenplay.

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