When it comes to the Best Picture race, it's fair to say that below-the-line support from the crafts branches can be a bit of a deal-breaker: you have to go all the way back to "Ordinary People" in 1980 to find a film that won the top prize after receiving no technical nominations whatsoever. Fox Searchlight is aware of that, as well as the fact that nobody's really singing the praises of "The Descendants" in any technical capacity. Their plan of action: a featurette focusing specifically on the film's cinematography and editing, exclusively debuted on Scott Feinberg's site. (The score -- thankfully, if you ask me -- is ineligible.) It's a clever attempt to cover a blind spot, but they'll likely have a tough time convincing branch voters in either category. [THR]
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PASADENA - "We feel like jerks. We get asked that question a lot"
This was "How I Met Your Mother" co-creator Craig Thomas, addressing a handful of critics and reporters (including me) at a press tour lunch with co-creator Carter Bays. The question in particular was a familiar one about whether they'll introduce Ted to the Mother at the end of the series or make her a character much sooner(*), but "HIMYM" is structured in such a way that there are many questions the duo can't answer, even as they repeatedly apologize for their inability to do so.
As I've said, being at press tour limits my ability to keep up with current TV, both because I'm covering the tour round the clock and because I don't have a DVR here. But I had a chance to see last night's "Suburgatory" and "Happy Endings" and have a few thoughts on them - after which you all can use this to comment on any of the Wednesday comedies (even "Whitney") - coming up just as soon as I share a birthday with Hitler and Carmen Electra...
It's amazing how fleetingly causes can come and go in the awards race. Upon its release in the summer, "The Interrupters" -- a complex, clear-eyed study of inner-city violence in Chicago, from "Hoop Dreams" director Steve James -- was lavished with critical praise, hailed as one of the year's best films, and a cinch to snag the Oscar nod owed James by the Academy, if not the outright frontrunner. (17 years on, the unaccountable non-nomination of "Hoop Dreams" still smarts.)
With predictably frustrating perversity -- and an apparent impulse to torment James -- the Academy promptly left it off their 15-title longlist for the documentary Oscar, prompting widespread critical outrage that a film this strong could be carelessly slighted. Yet in the two months since that uproar, the critics haven't exactly come through for the film, either: the only win it's clocked up has been, in a show of hometown pride, from the Chicago critics' circle. Most nominee lists acros the circuit have left it off altogether, as lesser works like "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" and "Project Nim" rack up the precursors. (Even the International Documentary Association blanked the film entirely.)
Tuesday night I had the pleasure of moderating a conversation with Andy Serkis, director Rupert Wyatt and supervising sound supervisors Chuck Michael and John Larsen about their work bringing Caesar to live in the critically acclaimed "Rise of the Planet of the Apes." The evening was part of 20th Century Fox's campaign to land Serkis a best supporting actor nomination for his role as Caesar, an ape with extreme intelligence who falls victim to the prejudices and fears of man. If Serkis finds himself among the five nominees announced a week from Tuesday, it will make history as the first motion-capture performance recognized by the Academy (let alone any major awards organization). Can he surprise the pundits? Co-star James Franco, who played Caesar's adoptive human father Will, certainly thinks so.
We're down to an even split of guys versus girls, which isn't so surprising. What is surprising, however, is that Beverly hasn't been beaten up, melted by the hateful, laser-like stares of her teammates or otherwise taken out of commission. While she seems to be a talented chef and a good-natured gal, for some reason there's always someone around who loathes her with a white-hot passion. This week, that duty is shared by Lindsay and Sarah, who only succeed in making themselves look like the mean, ugly stepsisters in "Cinderella," but without the big ball gowns. But let's get to the food.
I've interviewed Elizabeth Banks a handful of times now, and she comes across during a press day the same way she comes across in her work: down to earth, not fussy at all, and always just sort of slightly kidding about things.
I'll have my full interview with her about the new film 'Man On A Ledge' soon, but for now, we wanted to share a short piece of the conversation when I brought up the impending onslaught of publicity and attention for "The Hunger Games."
I just talked to Woody Harrelson about the film as well, and he seemed well aware of what sort of expectation there is for the movie. Banks, though, seems like she's got her head down, focused on this year's "30 Rock" and doing publicity for "Ledge" and basically anything that keeps her from thinking about the insane spotlight that she's about to step into with this series.
I get it. It's one thing when you make a movie in a vacuum and you release it and people suddenly fall in love with it and there's a big fan base that grows from the movie. But this sort of big fat pop culture phenomenon that you're adapting is something very different, and it comes with a totally different type of attention. Fans of the "Hunger Games" series have very strong opinions about the casting, and while some of the choices may have been controversial, it seems like fans have taken to the idea of Banks playing Effie Trinket in a big way.
I posted my review of NBC's "Are You There, Chelsea?" on Monday. Now it's your turn. For those of you who watched, what did you think? How do you feel Laura Prepon did channeling a younger Chelsea Handler? Did you appreciate Handler's presence playing her sister? (And were you predisposed to liking Chandler ahead of time?) Did you enjoy Lauren Lapkus as the wacky new roommate Dee Dee? Appreciate Dot Marie Jones' cameo as Chelsea's cellmate? Did you laugh much? Did you like it more or less than "Whitney"?
Have at it.
It's been nine years, 200 episodes, 512 suspects and 738 head slaps for "NCIS," which was the subject of a celebratory panel at CBS' press day. While Mark Harmon, Pauley Perrette and the rest of the cast talked about feeling the love and their sense of gratitude, what they didn't talk about was seeing an end date to the show (ranked #1 in scripted programs) or what we might expect in future episodes. Luckily, executive producer Gary Glasberg showed a piece of raw footage to wrap up the panel -- and give the audience an inkling of what they can expect from the 200th episode.
If you want a job done properly... well, don't get the public to do it for you. That's the lesson, at least, that BAFTA has learned today: in handing the public the task of electing their five Rising Star Award nominees, instead of leaving it to an industry jury as in years past, they've wound up with a slate that rivals last week's awards longlists in the embarrassment stakes.
That's not to rag on the nominees themselves -- a bright, promising bunch of young actors, most of whom fit the 'rising star' profile rather neatly. I've already sung the praises of Chris Hemsworth and Chris O'Dowd, two of 2011's most appealing breakthrough performers, in my First-Half FYC columns -- the latter's performance in "Bridesmaids" still ranks in my personal Best Supporting Actor ballot for 2011. Tom Hiddleston, meanwhile, has amply proven his worth in an exciting range of mainstream and arthouse projects, from "Thor" to "Midnight in Paris" to "The Deep Blue Sea." Kudos all round.
There were far more than thousands of New Yorkers upset by the fact they couldn't nab a ticket to LCD Soundsystem's epic finale at Madison Square Garden last year. Millions of fans would have liked to see Regine from Arcade Fire do that little glove dance or Reggie Watts guest during the "45:33" zone-out run. With a show so very much final, a concert film was almost certainly in order.
A first glimpse of that film, "Shut Up and Play the Hits," will be at the Sundance Film Festival this month, where directors Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace will premiere it.
The documentary chronicles the lead-up, the day-of and the day-after of that April 2, 2011 New York concert; it was produced by Lucas Ochoa and Thomas Bensk (Blur's doc "No Distance Left to Run") and by LCD frontman James Murphy, who may just spend half the film hugging people and heavily sighing.
The trailer has debuted, below, featuring just those kind of moments, to the tune of "All My Friends."