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I have to admit that when Is saw that the latest mini-trend for this fall's television season was modern takes on fairy tales, I rolled my eyes (check out Alan Sepinwall's review here). Of course, it's a move that makes perfect sense from a writing (and studio) perspective. Audiences gravitate toward the familiar (just look at the number of retreads at your local movie theater), and this is some a whole mess of familiar sitting fat and happy in the public domain. Storylines are populated with easy-to-grasp heroes and villains, stakes are life-and-death and usually we get a happy ending (or at least we did once Disney had their way with the Brothers Grimm). What could be better?
Film music composers are so often the most expendable element of a given project, it seems. They come, they go, and typically, someone is brought on very late in the game when we thought another composer was on the case.
That seems to be what's up with Stephen Daldry's "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," which has until now been noted as another collaboration with composer Nico Muhly ("The Reader") for Daldry. As it turns out, Alexandre Desplat - perhaps the most prolific composer in the game -- has been quietly working on the project. And his intrepid publicist just sent out a release reminding the media of this.
And it's most certainly noteworthy. Earlier in the year Desplat put out quality work in Chris Weitz's "A Better Life," a score I really think deserves some attention. Meanwhile, I've been expecting him to get a much-deserved nomination for his work in George Clooney's "The Ides of March," one of the best scores of the year.
"Oscar prospects, before anyone asks: probably nil. And yay for that."
So I commented immediately after posting my review of Steve McQueen's "Shame" following its unveiling at the Venice Film Festival, hoping to pre-emptively defuse a natural line of questioning on this site, without suggesting the film in any way fell short. Regular readers will know that I can be a bit snippy when quizzed about the future awards outlook for festival films, partly because I'm loath to think like a pundit at a world-cinema carnival, and partly because there are often too many unknowns for such speculation to be at all meaningful: critical approval only counts for so much with films with no distributor and no proven real-world audience.
For every festival sensation whose Oscar potential is immediately apparent (think Mo'Nique, whose recent Best Supporting Actress win seemed sewn up at Sundance a year before she even netted the nomination), there's another that has to feel its way into the season. Certainly, nobody screamed "Best Picture!" when "The Hurt Locker" premiered at Venice a full 18 months before its Oscar-night triumph.
The traditional wisdom is that, in the world of sitcoms, major life events can signal a show is about to jump the shark. How many of us have groaned as formerly great shows muddle around in the tired territory of onesies and wedding dresses, with characters suddenly falling flat and humorless before us?
It would be easy to assume the same might happen with reality TV shows. After all, these shows are probably no less scripted than any other programming. But so far, I have high hopes for two shows on which main players have chosen to tackle big changes on-screen; "The Rachel Zoe Project" and "Gene Simmons Family Jewels" don't seem to be jettisoning their strong points to make room for plot points, or at least not so far.
ABC's "Once Upon a Time" (Sunday at 8 p.m.) is one of two new shows this season in which fairy tale characters start appearing in modern-day America, with NBC's fairy tale crime procedural "Grimm" debuting next Friday. Every TV season brings with it at least one set of weird dopplegangers like this - this one actually has several ("Mad Men"-era dramas, and sitcoms about the death of masculinity) - but the abundance of fairy tale stories seems less surprising than most.
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.
Today Anne and I are joined by In Contention's own Guy Lodge who is knee-deep in the London Film Festival these days, catching up on a number of titles he missed along the festival circuit. And, of course, he caught a certain highly anticipated film that's opening in the UK next week. Let's see what's on the docket today…
I make this the lead story here only because it's Friday and I'm a huge fan of the gaming series. Not awards related in the slightest, but I really hope they don't screw it up. It looks like Sony has acquired the film rights to Ubisoft's "Assassin's Creed." Ubisoft has been really careful about who these rights went to and I hope that means they are being delicate with the story, because I happen to think the story of "Assassin's Creed" -- even if portions amount to little more than boiled down ancient alien theory -- has a lot of potential. Of course, we'll likely get some kind of bottled up distillation that loses what's great about the narrative, but a guy can hope, right? [Variety]
We're at the start of that awkward post-premiere, pre-sweeps period of the TV season where networks start sprinkling in repeats(*), which means there's no new "Fringe" tonight. But that gives me an excuse to offer some overall thoughts on the first four episodes and how I'm feeling about the season to date, coming up just as soon as I get all my ideas from watching "The Matrix" fight scenes...
The 21st Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards were announced this morning and the results must have made the folks at Fox Searchlight very, very happy. The mini-major landed eight nominations including key best feature nominations for "The Descendants" and "The Tree of Life." Focus also has to be thrilled with "Beginners" strong showing in the feature and ensemble categories. "Take Shelter" shows some life by also landing feature and ensemble kudos.
This week Elena and the gang are finally seniors, but no one's truly excited about it. Instead of worrying about which college to go to and AP exams (though they're probably worrying about that, too), they're dealing with vampires and werewolves and hybrids, oh my. And given the current state of affairs, the theme seems to be loneliness. Elena's lost Stefan, Caroline feels like she's losing Taylor, Bonnie's on her way to losing Jeremy and Matt's already lost everyone. It definitely puts a whole new spin on senioritis.