The words "passion vote" get repeated with numbing frequency in the Oscar prediction racket, as pundits try to separate the niche contenders who inspire fierce devotion from the broadly agreeable ones who appear to be nobody's favorite. Year after year, we convince ourselves the former are in a more advantageous position; year after year, films like "Frost/Nixon" somehow get nominated. Mark Harris addresses this dichotomy in his column this week, acknowledging the films and actors that seem primed for passion votes (Fassbender, Swinton, "Margaret"), while wondering if they have enough support to overcome the Academy's dutiful tendency to reward dull familiarity and hard work ("an A-for-effort nomination for Leonardo DiCaprio" about sums it up). [Grantland]
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Just in case you were wondering, "The Iron Lady" is a better film -- and a better directed film -- than "Shame." Obviously. "Arthur Christmas" and "War Horse" are better British films than "Weekend," "Kill List" and "Wuthering Heights." Of course. Zoe Wanamaker and Judi Dench gave nomination-worthy performances in "My Week With Marilyn." (Sure, but why not throw in Emma Watson too? They're all better than Vanessa Redgrave in "Coriolanus.")
Hey, how about those awesome visual effects in "Midnight in Paris?" Better, I'm sure you'll agree, than those half-assed efforts in "The Tree of Life" -- which, by the way, has no place in a Best Director conversation that includes such visionary auteurs as Simon Curtis.
These golden truths all come to us courtesy of the BAFTA longlists, an annual preview (or, perhaps more appropriately, warning) of the British Academy's eventual nominations, in which 15 contenders are announced in each category, from which the five nominees will be chosen. Marked with an asterisk are the top choices of the relevant voting branch ("chapter" in BAFTA lingo) in each field -- in a reversal of the Oscar system, the general membership votes on the nominees in each category, while the chapter determines the winner in all categories except Best Film, Foreign Language Film, British Film, Documentary and the acting races.
"The Devil Inside" is an insidious kind of terrible movie, a movie that is simply low-grade bad for most of its thankfully brief running time before offering up an ending so openly contemptuous of the audience as to feel like a prank. Short version of this review: nope. Don't see it.
If you require more than that, then I'll be happy to share. I was invited to see the film at a screening tonight that Paramount held in downtown Los Angeles, and I was all set to go before I got invited to something else, something I'll write about tomorrow. Because that was at the same time, I decided to do that and then just pay for a midnight show of "The Devil inside" somewhere in Los Angeles. The other screening was on the Fox lot, so I considered staying there at the Century City AMC theater. They had an 11:45 screening of the film listed. Instead, because we got out of the other film and in our cars by 10:30, I decided to drive back to the Valley to see the movie near my house at the Woodland Hills Promenade 16. They had an 11:30 listed. I made the drive in time, and at 11:10, stepped up to buy my ticket and got told that the film was sold out.
I was so surprised that I think I stood there for a minute staring at the girl behind the window like she'd just called me a name. I still had time to try to find another screening, so I checked my phone, saw that there was a theater at Coldwater and Victory, right in the heart of the Valley, where there was a 12:01 show.
The gang is back in the U.S., but as exciting as that is for them (they can get haircuts! AND TANS!), some problems are harder to shake than bad jet lag. One particularly sticky problem is the alleged hook-up between Mike "The Situation" and Snooki. The more Snooki denies it, the more Mike wants to have every grisly detail tattooed on a bicep or shaved into his hairline. He knows THE TRUTH and even if she can't handle it, he had no compunction about sharing it with the rest of the cast while they were all in Italy -- and now that they're back home, there's one more person he's itching to enlighten: Snooki's boyfriend Jionni.
Aren't you excited that "Project Runway" is back? And not only is it back, but a cast of all stars (which means talented designers AND total lunatics!) will be returning for another shot at victory. Although there are some cast members I never really needed to see again (cough, Mila, cough), I'm not only interested to see if some of these people have grown as designers, but also to find out if the more annoying contenders have seen the error of their ways and might try playing nice this time around. I doubt it, but I'm interested just the same.
On Tuesday, January 10 at 7pm, USC and Fox Searchlight will host an “Out of the Box [Office]” screening of “Margaret” at the Ray Stark Family Theatre on the USC campus.
As many of you know, In Contention is firmly set in the #TeamMargaret camp. Kris named the film as his number one movie of the year, and Guy his number two. I saw “Margaret” via a streaming link recently. It was presented in six instillations that required me to log in at each breaking point, the player was about a quarter of the size of my 17-inch computer, and the name "Kris Tapley" sat as a vertical watermark across the frame for the entirety of the screening. And yet even given the constraints of that viewing experience, had I created a top 10 list, I would have named “Margaret” as my number two film of the year as well – if not my number one.
As much as I was looking forward to the return of “Vampire Diaries” tonight, I can’t say I wasn't prepared for the worst. When we left our determined Klaus hunters, Stefan had thrown a pretty substantial wrench into what otherwise seemed like a nifty plan to overthrow the fickle, pouty, daddy-issue-plagued original. Mikael, the daddy in said equation, was dead before we even had much of a chance to know him, Stefan was off the grid – but off the grid with leverage (he just happened to have snuck off with Klaus’ family, all conveniently pre-packaged and poked) and Klaus exactly who was out to get him.
Okay, tonight's the night, "Community" fans. NBC is about to rerun the last episode of the show that's currently scheduled to air on the network. While we know the remaining 12 episodes are going to air sometime, somewhere(*), for the moment, "Community" disappears from our televisions.
The Cinema Eye Honors are perhaps the most discerning and well-rounded of all documentary awards, so it figures that they'd be no less idiosyncratic when it comes to narrative cinema. This is where their Heterodox Award, now in its second year, comes in, and it's one of the more unusual categories on the awards beat, recognizing "narrative film[s] that imaginatively incorporate nonfiction strategies, content and/or modes of production... illuminat[ing] the formal possibilities of nonfiction filmmaking while raising provocative questions about on-going documentary orthodoxy and the perceived boundaries between narrative and nonfiction filmmaking. " Whew.
Obviously, it's not every film that fulfils that brief, making for an idiosyncratic list of nominees -- the highest-profile of which is "Beginners," Mike Mills's autobiographical indie about late-blooming romance and self-realization. The bulk of the film's awards recognition thus far has centered more on Christopher Plummer's Oscar-bound performance than Mills's own rather singular achievement, so it's nice to see the writer-director-designer honored specifically for his hybrid qualities as an artist, acknowledging the personal history he brought to the project.
At this point, I think Warner Bros. should ask themselves if there's any figure at which they truly believe audiences are clamoring to see a mostly-white live-action version of "Akira" made for a profoundly compromised budget.
I'm not sure there's any price tag that the film works at, frankly, because I'm still not sure who they think they're making the movie for. This has been a long development process, and I've read a number of different drafts of this as it's been winding its way through the studio system. It feels like every writer who's worked on it has tried hard to craft something that honors the spirit of what "Akira" is about, but little by little, most of the world-building, most of the rich detail that would make this something unusual or special, has been squeezed out, and what's left doesn't really work as "Akira," and it doesn't feel like it works as something new, either.
Ruairi Robinson almost made the film, and Albert Hughes almost made it as well. It looked like Jaume Collet-Serra was going to be the guy to finally get it across the finish line, and the film was announcing cast members, looking like a full-speed-ahead green light…
Don't expect that ooncha ooncha music as models walk down the runway to this soundtrack: Thom Yorke gave license to the Rag & Bone fashion company for a couple previously unreleased tracks.
"Stuck Together" and "Twist" are all electronica based, heavy on the bips and beeps (and moans).
Here's the catch: these guys have been around for a while, since September's New York Fashion Week. It's just that they made their way online just this week, thanks to @disco_naivete.
There are some artists who seem to just get hipper as they get older and Jack White seems to connect with each one of them.
First it was Loretta Lynn and then Wanda Jackson. Now, White has linked with Tom Jones, whom we were just raving about in our list of top concerts of 2011.
White recently told Mojo (via twentyfourbit) that the latest 45 from his label, Third Man Records, will be Jones performing “Jezebel”and Howlin’ Wolf’s “Evil (Is Going On).” White told the British magazine, “He impressed the shit out of everybody.” The single comes out March 5.
The recording would seem to be part of Third Man Records’ Blue Series, which may also include re-issues (in conjunction with Document Records) of some of the blues masters who influenced White, including Blind Willie McTell and Charley Patton.
Next up for White: he'll appear on The History Channel's "American Pickers" on Monday, Jan. 9., as the show visits Third Man Records in Nashville. Apparently, there's a little bargaining going on as White tries to barter the phone booth used in a Dead Weather video for, as a press release states, "one of the most memorable treasures ever to appear on the show."
In other Jones news, he will be one of the four coaches when the U.K. launches its own version of "The Voice" this Spring. The knighted Welshman will join Jessie J, The Script frontman Danny O'Donoghue and Black Eyed Peas' will.i.am.