By Daniel Barna - Thursday, January 10, 2013 - 0 Comments
Fun facts you need to know about the 2013 Academy Award contenders
This morning the months of speculation, predictions, and odds-making came to an end when this year’s Oscar host Seth MacFarlane was joined onstage by Emma Stone to announce the nominees for the 85th Academy Awards. As expected, Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln led all films with 12 nominations, making it the early favourite for a Best Picture win. But Spielberg’s dominance was just about the only thing that went as imagined this morning: snubs and surprises abound. First fun fact: For the first time in history, all the nominees in a single acting category–best actor in a supporting role– have won before. Second fun fact: Emmannuelle Riva (Amour) and Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of The Southern Wild) become the oldest and youngest Best Actress nominees ever. Academy, your playfulness this year is much appreciated. Below, five more noteworthy things we noticed about the nominees. Now let the weeks of speculation, predictions, and odds-making begin!
By Brian D. Johnson - Friday, July 13, 2012 at 12:51 PM - 0 Comments
Christopher Nolan dusts off Batman, raises the stakes in Gotham and makes the butler cry
There’s no contest. The Dark Knight Rises, which opens next week, is the most hotly anticipated movie of the summer. And yes, it lives up to the hype. But what’s most astonishing is not Batman’s new flying machine that zooms around skyscraper canyons, or a flirty Anne Hathaway poured into a skin-tight catsuit and stiletto boots, or a muzzled terrorist who looks like an S&M wrestler on steroids. No, the most breathtaking moment in the epic finale of the Batman trilogy is when Michael Caine weeps.
Why? That would be a spoiler. Let’s just say the domestic bickering between Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) and Alfred (Caine), his paternal butler, finally comes to an emotional head. “Sir Michael Caine is always going to surprise you,” says writer-director Christopher Nolan, on the phone from Los Angeles. “Having worked with him on five movies, I knew he was going to bring something special to that scene. But when he performed it, it was absolutely gutting. We sat there in dailies and people were just sobbing.”
Don’t be surprised to see Caine honoured at the Oscars, or to see The Dark Knight Rises vie for Best Picture. Some franchises simply peter out. Nolan’s trilogy, like the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter sagas, has an engineered momentum that builds to a monumental climax. After Batman Begins (2005) and The Dark Knight (2008), “this is not another episode in a series for us,” says Nolan. “It’s the third act in one large story.”
By Jaime Weinman - Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 1:02 PM - 8 Comments
Update: For some actual analysis of the nominations, go directly to Brian D. Johnson at this same website.
I have long thought that the Best Director category at the Oscars is somewhat pointless, leading to a misunderstanding of what a director’s job usually is, and always raising the question (on the rare occasions when the awards diverge), “how can he be the best director if he didn’t make the best movie?” Every other category, even writing, is separable from the quality of the movie to a certain extent. The director’s job is to supervise all those other categories. If they don’t blend into the best movie, then it may not be the director’s fault, but he and the producer were the ones in charge.
But, that said, the Oscars’ return to 10 Best Picture nominees instead of five has made the Best Director nominees a little more fun to look at, because it allows us to get a hint — just a slight hint — of which movies really have the support of the Academy as a whole and which ones were probably nominated for commercial reasons. Or at the very least which ones wouldn’t have made the cut if there had been only five nominees. So Chris Nolan’s non-nomination for Inception, more than anything else, is an indication that Inception probably wouldn’t have been nominated if it hadn’t been for the larger number of nominees. Like Toy Story 3, it’s there to represent the huge blockbuster hits, but is probably not a serious contender for the award.
Even in the five-picture era you got some of these, like Jaws getting nominated for Best Picture in 1975 but Steven Spielberg getting snubbed for Best Director. (Instead, Frederico Fellini got a Best Director nomination, and Spielberg was shown on TV wailing something like “I didn’t get it! I got beaten out by Fellini!” Though I should add that Spielberg doesn’t come off badly when he says that; just disappointed. I’m sure if you put a camera on Chris Nolan he’d have a similar reaction.) It was a hint that the movie was there out of respect to its enormous success, but wasn’t going to win. Driving Miss Daisy won even though its director was not nominated, but that’s very rare. What the expanded Best Picture field has done is open the category up to more “token” nominees that aren’t really taken seriously as potential winners.
But I still think that the concept of Best Director just doesn’t make sense. As Joe Spinell put it after Spielberg got snubbed, “Who made the picture? Somebody’s mother? Who made it, the shark?”
By Brian D. Johnson - Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 4:00 PM - 0 Comments
An existential heist movie delivers a megaton blast of originality—and summer thrills
Ellen Page sits nestled in the middle of a large couch in a Beverly Hills hotel room, her small frame almost lost among the pillows. She looks artfully casual in a blue linen shirt, scarf, jeans and boots. Chestnut curls spill from a brown cotton cloche that masks her high forehead, and makes her face seem even more childlike than usual.
Clutching a water bottle in one hand and gesturing rapidly with the other, she’s visibly excited as she talks about Inception. When stars promote movies, it’s their duty to be excited, even when they’re not. But in this case, Page’s enthusiasm seems genuine. “Usually, I could care less if my friends see my movies or not,” says the 23-year-old Canadian actress. “In Nova Scotia, I like to leave my job behind. So when friends say, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t see that one,’ I don’t care.” But Inception was different: “I was just like, ‘Go see this!’ ”
By Paul Wells - Sunday, July 20, 2008 at 2:41 PM - 0 Comments
A few thoughts about Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, which I finally saw last…
A few thoughts about Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, which I finally saw last night, nearly two full days after it opened:
• It’s kind of amazing that everyone talks about what a dark movie this is. Psychologically it’s not that dark; one of Nolan’s themes is that the decent ordinary folk of Gotham are at least as plucky and help-thy-neighbour as, say, the plucky decent ordinary folk of New York City in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man II. In fact, if Nolan’s two Batman movies have anything in common, it’s the resistance of the big city to perverse influence. This one doesn’t even work very hard to establish the crime wave that’s supposedly sweeping Gotham at the outset. Brian Da Palma’s Chicago crime wave at the beginning of The Untouchables was much more convincing. I think, nearly 20 years after Tim Burton’s Batman, it’s now simply de rigueur to describe a reasonably straight-faced Batman movie as “dark.”
But that’s actually not my main point. Visually, this is one of the brightest movies I’ve seen since — well, since the last time I saw a Christopher Nolan movie. Continue…