The nominations for the César Awards -- the French film industry's answer to the Oscars -- were announced this morning, and most of the top contenders were easily seen coming: Oscar hopeful "Amour" received nine nominations, as did historical drama "Farewell My Queen," while "Rust and Bone" and "Holy Motors" scored eight apiece. The field leader, however, may come as a surprise to non-French observers: actress-director Noemie Lvovsky's time-travel comedy "Camille Rewinds," still little seen outside its home country, racked up a massive 13 nods.
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Welcome to Oscar Talk.
In case you're new to the site and/or the podcast, Oscar Talk is a weekly kudocast, your one-stop awards chat shop between yours truly and Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood. The podcast is weekly, every Friday throughout the season, charting the ups and downs of contenders along the way. Plenty of things change en route to Oscar's stage and we're here to address it all as it unfolds.
Premiering at Sundance, "Very Good Girls" stars Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olson, and with the girls' coming-of-age tale along with the female director's debut, Lewis set out to have a "strong female voice" to her songs -- even if she didn't spend much time singing on the largely instrumental tracks. Lewis wrangled in some backup singers and took cues from legendary soundtracks like "Harold & Maude" and some newer composers to dive in.
"I think of 'There Will Be Blood' and Trent Reznor's works when I think of these song-based scores," she told me in Park City. "Using old ideas, they speak to a certain generation."
As for new solo material -- since Rilo Kiley has broken up -- Lewis says she's halfway through recording a new album, and is "forming the concept as we speak right now. I love collaborating, so there's a whole cast of characters that I've toured with, played with in the past. It's a village effort."
Lewis' last solo album, "Acid Tongue," dropped via Warner Bros. in 2008, boasting of contributors like Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward (of She & Him), Chris Robinson, boyfriend and songwriter Johnathan Rice and Elvis Costello. She also released a duo album Jenny And Johnny with Rice in 2010, "I'm Having Fun Now."
Lewis also strongly hinted that she's joining "old friends" the Postal Service for tour in 2013. She said that it had been "10 years since we've played a show," and that she'll be needing to dust off her synthesizer for the stint. As previously reported, synth-pop crew the Postal Service (DNTEL and Death Cab For Cutie's Ben Gibbard) have reconvened for the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in April, and are planning on skedding further tour dates for those who can't make the double-weekend event. Jenny Lewis sang on their sole album "Give Up."
"I'm very excited," she said of the mysterious reunion.
I reviewed Tommy Wirkola's "Dead Snow" at Sundance back in 2009, and I was not a fan. As I said in that piece, "'Dead Snow' takes a really great monster to build a film around - Nazi zombies - and somehow adds up to total mediocrity in execution." Well, looks like Wirkola is two for two now. When you're making a film called "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters," you can approach it as a horror film first, or you can approach it as a dark comedy, or you could perhaps approach it as a really boring action movie that flubs both the horror and the comedy.
Guess which approach Wirkola opted for.
The script by Wirkola and Dante Harper opens with a very dark rendition of the classic Hansel and Gretel story, and right away, it feels like they're rushing to get through that moment instead of taking the time to tell it. I think it's actually sort of clever to start with that fairy tale, let us really see what that witch is like, and then once the kids deal with her and save themselves, jump forward to see that they've taken this on as their life's work. I can see how that premise could work. It just doesn't work here, in this film.
Every time a new reality TV show or special hits the air, someone claims that the genre has scraped bottom. Rarely do I agree -- until now. Really, "Plastic Wives," a one-hour special airing this Sunday (Jan. 27 at 10:00 p.m. ET, TLC) has a little something for everyone... to hate.
As I mentioned at the fest, I think the film with the most awards potential to come out of Sundance this year is Richard Linklater's "Before Midnight." Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actress and maybe even Best Actor and Best Picture could be in the cards. It just needs the right nuanced campaign.
Lionsgate was hovering. Fox Searchlight seemed like a good fit and was probably in the mix, but they sure did drop a lot on "The Way Way Back." So it was Sony Pictures Classics, which was busy at the fest with acquisitions of "Austenland" and "Kill Your Darlings," that grabbed the title for what is said to be well into the seven figure range.
Academy Awards telecast producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron have already announced plans, in the 50th year of James Bond, to offer 007 a tribute at this year's show. It dovetails nicely with the release of "Skyfall," and I imagine the two were giddy that Adele was nominated for her theme song. Indeed, they were quick to announce that she'll be on the show to perform the tune.
Today it's been announced that the Oscarcast will feature a tribute to three movie musicals of the last decade. That would be Broadway hits-turned Oscar nominees "Chicago," "Dreamgirls" and "Les Misérables." It's a shame they felt a need to limit it to a decade, though. Why not an expansion of considerations for the musical in the modern era? Then you could include films like "Moulin Rouge!," "Dancer in the Dark," "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," etc.
It's official: HBO has ordered a third season of "Girls."
The comedy's producers have been talking for a while like the third season was already a done deal — earlier this week, star/creator/producer Lena Dunham told Alec Baldwin on a podcast that the third season would film in some of the studio space "30 Rock" was vacating — but the actual announcement didn't come until this afternoon.
By conventional ratings measures, "Girls" doesn't look so spectacular, as the season 2 premiere only drew 866,000 for its first telecast, and only 1.6 million viewers over multiple airings that night. But in total, across many platforms (including HBOGo), more than 3.8 million have watched that episode so far. Besides, HBO doesn't really rely on conventional ratings measures — or on ratings at all — but on things that will drive subscriptions, enhance the company's brand, etc. And "Girls" has been a huge critical success, has won several awards (including a pair of Golden Globes earlier this month) and is a show that people are talking about — whether they like it or hate it.
The third season will consist of 12 episodes, as opposed to the 10 for the first two seasons. The third episode of season 2 airs Sunday night at 9 on HBO.
A review of last night's "The Office" coming up just as soon as I crack the Dunder Code...
A review of last night's "30 Rock" coming up just as soon as I've seen the porn version of "Transformers"...
Unsurprisingly, I think it's promising news that JJ Abrams is going to direct "Star Wars: Episode VII."
Since there's no officially confirmation yet and I haven't personally confirmed things with any of the involved parties, I'm taking on faith that Lucas Shaw broke the biggest film news of the very young year. If his story is accurate, then Abrams has the job. Done deal. Signed. That's the specific language of his story, and the five billion sites that have also "confirmed" the story (ie posted The Wrap's story) are reporting this as done. Closed. This is happening.
Okay, so let's take it as 100% accurate right now. Somewhere in LA, Abrams is wrapping up post-production on "Star Trek Into Darkness," approving FX shots and listening to tweaks on the sound mix and making sure it's as tight as it's going to get, and at the same time, he's got Michael Arndt's treatment (or script pages at this point for all I know) bouncing around in his head, and he's already dreaming about what he's going to do with "Star Wars."