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Countdown to Oscars

Posts Tagged ‘The Departed’

Tuesday January 14th, 2014

The Wolf in Context

By Søren Hough
Contributor

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We sit entrenched in an Irish mob den. Here, anyone could be a mole and thus everyone toes Death’s door. Then we are transported to an island, where a man is unsure of what is real, and what isn’t. His feverish nightmare reaches its peak before bringing his world down around him. And now we are in Paris, France, as snow falls quietly in front of a massive clock. Behind its imposing face, two young children discover the secrets of a filmmaker in hiding.

Given Martin Scorsese’s recent films, it’s no surprise there was backlash when he released The Wolf of Wall Street (2013). It’s been more than 20 years since the legendary filmmaker pushed the boundaries of the social conscience. Particularly after Hugo (2011) won five Academy Awards, the public image of Scorsese has been tempered with that of a straightforward, audience-pleasing director. When he followed up the kid-friendly Hugo with the extremely adult The Wolf of Wall Street, audiences seemed to forget that the latter, not the former, is business as usual for the director.

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Saturday January 11th, 2014

The Academy Awards: No Country for Old Men, or Women?


By Mark Pinkert
Contributor

At the ripe age of 79, Judi Dench could become the second oldest woman to win the Academy Award for Best Actress. She’s a likely nominee by way of Philomena (2013), a British comedy-drama in which Philomena Lee (Dench) pairs up with an out-of-work journalist, Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan), to find the son she was forced to give up 50 years earlier. An Academy win would make Dench the second oldest Best Actress behind only Jessica Tandy, who won the award at the age of 80 as Mrs. Daisy Werthan in Driving Miss Daisy (1989), and only the third Best Actress to receive the award while over the age of 65 (Katharine Hepburn won for On Golden Pond (1981) when she was 74 years old).

Dench–known more for her icy, matriarchal roles–is illuminated and humorous in Philomena, and she handles this role with great dexterity. But while she’s an almost guaranteed Best Actress nom, the film itself seems to be on the Best Picture bubble, and will have a tough time squeezing past the likes of Inside Llewyn Davis or Dallas Buyers Club. This despite the fact that the Academy voting body is notoriously known for being very old and very white, and often voting that way.

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Sunday September 22nd, 2013

The 10 Past Winners Most Likely to Be Nominated Again This Year

By Joey Magidson
Film Contributor

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Each year, Oscar voters reward several previously unrecognized talents with their first Academy Award nominations. But they have a habit of filling many if not most of their 20 acting slots with people whom they have previously been nominated. (If you happen to have already won an Oscar? Well, then you are sitting even prettier.)

Why is this the case? That’s probably a question for a psychologist, although my own guess would be that voters are more inclined to check out the work of — and reward — work by quantities who are known and established than who are not.

Regardless, there are, as usual, plenty of previous nominees and winners — actors, actresses, directors, writers, and various behind-the-scenes talent — angling this year to be a part of the Oscar race once again. I have decided to highlight the 10 whom I believe have the best shot at scoring that desired recognition.

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Wednesday September 18th, 2013

In Year of Dark Oscar Contenders, Is Academy Seeking Something Light?

By Joey Magidson
Contributor
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Over the course of the last 85 years, the best picture Oscar race has generally been won by the most “important” film — in terms of its social significance and/or impact on the film industry itself — that is also enjoyable and fun. Think about Argo (2012), The Artist (2011), The King’s Speech (2010) and so many others.

What makes this year’s best picture race unusual, so far, is that virtually all of the major contenders that we’ve seen are extremely dark — from the presumptive frontrunner 12 Years a Slave all the way through longer-shots such as Labor Day. In fact, a large number are literally about life and death crises, including GravityAll Is Lost, Captain Phillips, Fruitvale Station, The Book Thief and Prisoners.

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Wednesday January 30th, 2013

Do Films From Adapted Screenplays Fare Better In Best Picture Than Their Original Counterparts?

By Joey Magidson
Film Contributor

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Most years, one can find almost all of the Best Picture hopefuls contained in both the Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Screenplay categories. With 10 slots overall, at least half of the nominees are always present, if not more. The two categories are not looked at equally, though, as the Adapted contenders are consistently considered the better Oscar bet than their Original counterparts.

That’s certainly the perception, but is it actually the Academy Awards reality? Do adapted screenplays really have an easier road to Oscar glory than Original ones? In order to try and answer this question in a way that has modern applications, I’m going to focus on solely the past 25 years. That way, we can keep it relevant and not have too unwieldy of a sample size.

When I went back and took a look at the last quarter-decade, I came up with some results that I think you’ll all find rather interesting. While neither black nor white, the statistics show a shade of grey that fits in with most other supposed “rules” of how Academy members vote.

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Friday December 21st, 2012

TV Rewind: ‘X Factor’ Shakeups, Lawrence To Host ‘SNL’, ‘Best Funeral Ever’ Delayed

By Rachel Bennett
Television Editor & Columnist

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TOP STORIES

• Fox’s The X Factor is undergoing more judging shakeups. Although the reality singing competition added Britney Spears and Demi Lovato this season, judge L.A. Reid is departing the series following the finale.

• Dreams do come true! Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook) will host NBC’s Saturday Night Live on Jan. 19.

• In the aftermath of the tragic Newtown, Conn., shooting, TLC wisely delayed the premiere of its one-hour special Best Funeral Ever. Can we rename TLC (The Learning Channel) to NSC (Nothing is Sacred Channel)?

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Monday December 3rd, 2012

The Confounding Connection Between The Box Office And The Oscars

By Joey Magidson
Film Contributor

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As much as we all like to take a pure approach to movies and the awards season as a whole, looking at film only as an art form to be rewarded solely on its merit, the Oscars are a business. It’s mostly a matter of things being black and white. But we get shades of grey in the connection that exists (or maybe doesn’t) between the Oscars and the box office.

Long has been the contention that Oscars winners, especially Best Picture winners, need to be big moneymakers to actually take home the gold. Two out of the last three films crowned with the prize, though, have been among the very lowest grossers of all time. The Artist and The Hurt Locker beat out bigger bucks, with the latter especially noteworthy for triumphing over the highest grossing film of all time in Avatar.

While this could become the norm, it used to be a rarity (just look at how many people are still shocked that Annie Hall beat out Star Wars in 1978), and it’s currently cited as an example of how the tastes of the Academy and the mainstream public have never been less in sync. The Academy has even acknowledged its desire to cater to the average moviegoer’s likes through the expansion of Best Picture, albeit to mixed success. Is this necessarily a bad thing, and what does it mean for this year?

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Monday March 26th, 2012

Martin Sheen on Emilio and Charlie, ‘Badlands’ and ‘Apocalypse Now,’ and Finding ‘The Way’ (Video)

By Scott Feinberg

Recently, I received a once-in-a-lifetime invitation from one of my favorite actors, Martin Sheen. Apparently Sheen, 71, had heard through the grapevine how much I loved The Way, a deeply moving low-budget indie that was written and directed by one of his famous sons, Emilio Estevez, and offered him his first leading role on the big screen in years as a father who has a complicated relationship with his son (played, appropriately enough, by Estevez). I had seen the film three times — at its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2010; then at its U.S. premiere in New York in October 2011 (which was a fundraiser for the Walkabout Foundation and was attended by former President Bill Clinton); and then again on a DVD screener in January 2012. Now, Sheen wanted to know if I would care to visit him at his house in Malibu and spend an afternoon discussing it and other matters.

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Sunday February 12th, 2012

BAFTA Awards Offers Some Clues, Some Decoys About Oscar Race (Analysis)

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts handed out its 65th annual BAFTA Awards this afternoon across the pond, and many of the same folks who will congregate at the Oscars two weeks from today were in attendance. Of course, the question now on all of their minds — and ours — is whether or not the American Academy will annoint the same major winners as the British Academy: The Artist for best picture, Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist) for best director; Jean Dujardin (The Artist) for best actor; Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady) for best actress; Christopher Plummer (Beginners) for best supporting actor; and Octavia Spencer (The Help) for best supporting actress.

Here’s my take…

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Friday February 3rd, 2012

Why Martin Scorsese Ventured Into Family Friendly Fare With Oscar Nominated ‘Hugo’ (Video)

On Monday morning, I had the opportunity to sit down for a chat in Beverly Hills with the man who is arguably the greatest director of all time, Martin Scorsese.

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