Last Thursday, when the Academy Awards nominations were announced, it was one of those moments when the nominations were very clarifying. Lincoln leading the pack (with 12), combined with the shocking roll call of snubs in the Best Director category (No Affleck! No Bigelow! No Quentin! No guy-who-made-The King’s Speech-and-Les Miz as if he’d been placed on this earth to be the 21st-century answer to middlebrow Oscar taste), instantly brought a fuzzy, multi-movie race into absolute focus, with Lincoln and its director and screenwriter, Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner, the obvious — and, to my mind, deserving — front-runners, and everything else fading to the sidelines. I don’t necessarily think any of that is wrong. Yet the whole reason I like writing about the Oscars is that, while I don’t pretend to have any special powers of prognostication (especially when compared to the reigning odds-makers at EW), I do think that the reasons that certain movies, and actors and actresses, and writers and directors triumph over others on awards night is not a question that can be divorced from critical/aesthetic analysis. Even mediocre choices reflect an aesthetic, and also a way that movies interact with the world; the critic’s task is to define what that is. In that spirit, here are a few observations about why I think the winners will win. READ FULL STORY »
Tag: Lincoln (11-20 of 62)
Every time it seems like the dust is settling, something kicks it back up again.
Just days after Ben Affleck’s epic directing snub for Argo seemed to invalidate that movie’s chances of winning Best Picture, it seems to be emerging as … the frontrunner?
Note the question mark in bold.
Argo won both best director and best drama at the Golden Globes last night (after claiming similar honors at the Broadcast Film Critics Awards on the night of the snub-tastic nominations), and even though there is no crossover between those groups and Academy voters, the victories have become rallying points for those who feel Affleck was done a grievous wrong. (The more divisive Kathryn Bigelow of Zero Dark Thirty and Tom Hooper of Les Miserables, also left off the Academy’s director list, don’t seem to be generating the same backlash. At least, not that I’ve heard so far.)
Could Argo claim the Oscar for Best Picture as the rest of the Academy tries to compensate for the directors branch overlooking him?
That was a theory put forth by many awards insiders and Academy voters at the parties last night. “If I were the frontrunner, I’d be worried,” said one member.
That means, once again, somebody needs to keep an eye on Lincoln’s back. READ FULL STORY »
You could hear the gasp when Benh Zeitlin’s name was read. It reverberated throughout Hollywood, which has to feel good if you’re the first-time feature director.
Even he didn’t expect himself to get a nomination. “For director, I honestly didn’t think there was any possibility that that was going to happen,” he told EW’s Karen Valby this morning. “And I thought they’d finished announcing the names so I wasn’t even nervous. … I just sort of tuned out and then I just heard my name out of the back of my head and I went into a black-out.”
If you’re three particular veteran directors … it didn’t feel quite so great.
The Beasts of the Southern Wild director wasn’t considered a favorite at all for a best director nomination … And where was Argo‘s Ben Affleck, Zero Dark Thirty‘s Kathryn Bigelow, and Les Miserables‘ Tom Hooper?
The directing category provided the most shocks, differing from the Directors Guild Awards contenders not just by one (which is typical) but by three. The other two surprises in addition to Zeitlin: Silver Linings Playbook‘s David O. Russell and Amour‘s Michael Haneke.
Here’s a breakdown of how some of the top categories shook out: READ FULL STORY »
Who’s in, who’s out?
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has finally settled the debate with its announcement of nominees for the 85th Academy Awards. Lincoln leads the pack with 12 nominations, followed by Life of Pi with 11.
There was a surprisingly strong showing for Beasts of the Southern Wild, which scored a directing nomination for Benh Zeitlin that few saw coming. Directing snubs for Argo‘s Ben Affleck, Zero Dark Thirty‘s Kathryn Bigelow, and Les Miserables‘ Tom Hooper does not bode well for those films going forward.
Below are the contenders for the ceremony, which will take place Feb. 24.
Those who truly love movies tend to particularly appreciate the work of a good cinematographer, and the American Society of Cinematographers has come out with its list of the best in the field this past year.
Here’s the line-up: READ FULL STORY »
You’ve seen their lists of best and worst movies of the year — now take a look at EW critics Owen Gleiberman and Lisa Schwarzbaum’s picks for best and worst scenes of the year.
Best scene — Owen’s pick
A president strategizes in Lincoln
At a cabinet meeting, Abraham Lincoln makes a startling confession: He has no idea if his Emancipation Proclamation is even legal. He just…did it. In fact, he’s been winging the legality of his actions through most of the Civil War. But then he floats a head-spinning case for why his push against slavery is legal—and why the courts, with no 13th amendment, may still overrule him. This spellbinder of a monologue seizes us with the intricacy of Lincoln’s mind, even as Daniel Day-Lewis’ acting shows us his secret renegade spirit. And Steven Spielberg uses a very slow zoom to mythically echo the scene in The Godfather when Michael Corleone ”joins” his family. That’s great filmmaking.
It was a fairly slow weekend at the box office.
Despite a record-breaking opening, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey experienced a significant 57% drop off in its second week, bringing in an estimated $36.7 million, with an $8,952 per screen average. This brings The Hobbit’s ten-day gross to $149.9 million, tracking about 8% behind The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’s ten-day gross.
Paramount’s Jack Reacher (Cinema Score: A-) opened this past weekend in second place with a modest $15.6 million. Based on the popular Lee Child-created character, the Tom Cruise action flick has been somewhat of a box office wild card and will have to struggle to maintain momentum to make up the costs for the $60 million production. The weekend prior to the Christmas holiday isn’t usually the strongest at the box office, but last year Cruise’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol opened wide on December 21 at $29.6 million. As many have already mentioned, Jack Reacher fans are perhaps put off by the casting, since the character is supposed to be physically imposing at 6’5″.
Judd Apatow’s comedy This is 40 (Cinema Score: B-) also opened this weekend at $12 million to take third place. Though not abysmal, it doesn’t hold a candle to the $22.7 million, number one opening for Funny People, Apatow’s last directorial effort. But of course, Funny People starred Adam Sandler, which likely contributed to the strong opening. A sort of-sequel to Knocked Up (which opened at $30.7 million), This is 40 stars Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, and Albert Brooks, and boasts an impressively large cast including John Lithgow, Jason Segel, Chris O’Dowd, Megan Fox, Michael Ian Black, and Lena Dunham. But the 134-minute run time and Paul Rudd’s relatively low box office draw may have contributed to the low first weekend earnings.
Things did not fare as well for other weekend openings, including the Barbara Streisand and Seth Rogen road trip comedy The Guilt Trip (Cinema Score: B-) and Monsters, Inc. 3D, both of which failed to break the top five, bringing in $5.4 million and $5 million, respectively.
As expected, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, crushed the competition at the box office in its debut weekend, setting a new December record in the process.
The Middle-earth-set film grossed $84.8 million over its first three days, handily surpassing I Am Legend‘s $77.2 million bow, which has held the record for best December debut since 2007. The Hobbit earned that $84.8 million from 4,045 theaters, giving it a powerful $20,958 per theater average. Included in that theater count were 326 IMAX locations, which accounted for $10.1 million of the weekend gross, as well as 461 locations that showed the film in the controversial 48 frames per second rate — those screenings, thankfully, had no surcharge. About 49 percent of The Hobbit‘s weekend take came from 3-D showings.
All told, The Hobbit‘s debut weekend was obviously strong, but it must be said that it finished at the low end of pre-release expectations, most of which had the film earning more than $100 million in its debut frame. The Hobbit, the first in a trilogy produced by New Line and MGM (with Warner Bros. distributing) for a reported $600 million, earned $37.5 million on Friday, yet it only managed an internal multiplier (that’s weekend gross divided by Friday gross) of 2.25 — a very low number that signifies front-loaded performance. Judging by The Hobbit‘s 25 percent plummet on Saturday, it appears that the Tolkien faithful rushed out for the film early in the weekend. READ FULL STORY »
We already knew that The Hobbit earned a whopping $13.0 million during midnight showings, but over the course of its first full day in theaters the film took in an estimated $37.5 million, the highest gross ever for a December opening day.
The next best December bow was also of the Middle-earth variety – Lord of the Rings: Return of the King grossed $34.5 million on its opening day, a Wednesday, in 2003. Notably, The Hobbit sold fewer tickets on its opening day than Return of the King, but its gross was higher because of ticket price inflation and 3-D/IMAX surcharges. Still, huge is huge — and The Hobbit is headed for a mammoth debut. READ FULL STORY »
How much did this morning’s Golden Globe nominations shake up the Oscar race?
Eh … Let’s just say that the primary beneficiary will be DVDs of a little Ewan McGregor comedy called Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, which very modestly came and went from theaters early last spring. That movie picked up three nominations in the best musical/comedy categories of picture, lead actor for McGregor, and lead actress for Emily Blunt.
Also, what the …? Nicole Kidman gets another supporting actress nomination for the critically lambasted The Paperboy after yesterday’s nod from the Screen Actors Guild? Okay then.
I wouldn’t say that Kidman and Salmon Fishing now have shots at the Oscars, but these mentions by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association — which has no crossover with the voting body of the Academy Awards, by the way — are fairly strong “for your consideration” recommendations. The quirk of having a separate category for drama means that the occasional offbeat comedy choice like Salmon gets some time in the Globes spotlight. (I’m not sure how to explain the Kidman thing, though.)
The other nods were what you might expect: Lincoln led the contenders with seven nominations: best drama, dramatic actor for Daniel Day-Lewis, director for Steven Spielberg, a screenplay nomination for Tony Kushner, a music nomination for John Williams, and supporting mentions for Tommy Lee Jones and Sally Field.
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