As part of Collider’s new column, Oscar Beat, I’ve been covering the in’s and the out’s of this year’s awards race for the past few months. While there are plenty of excellent films contending for a number of different awards, there are also a number of films that, for one reason or another, don’t fit the “Oscar mold” but deserve recognition all the same. The Academy is loathe to recognize any kind of comedic work despite the fact that the “Best Actor” or “Best Picture” categories lack disclaimers that would disqualify genres other than drama, and smaller pictures have a hard time drumming up support against the studio-backed fare.
After the jump, I run down a number of films, performances, and screenplays from 2013 that are deserving of awards attention despite failing to drum up serious support.
The 2014 Independent Spirit Awards nominations have been announced, and director Steve McQueen’s excellent drama 12 Years a Slave tops the nominees with seven nods, including Best Feature, Best Director, and Best Actor. Nebraska is not far behind with six nominations, and the Robert Redford drama All Is Lost also did well with four nods. The much-beloved Short Term 12 failed to land a Best Feature nomination, but Primer director Shane Carruth’s twisty second feature Upstream Color landed nods for Best Director and Best Editing. The Best Actor category is a strong mirror of the very tight Oscar race in the same category, and the wonderful Shailene Woodley and Brie Larson nabbed Best Actress nominations for The Spectacular Now and Short Term 12, respectively.
Hit the jump for the full list of nominations and additional commentary. The Independent Spirit Awards will be hosted on March 1, 2014.
Screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber penned one of the best adaptations this year with The Spectacular Now. They’re also attached to adapt Amor Towles’ The Rules Of Civility, Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette, and John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. Now they’ve got another book to adapt with Jojo Moyes’ best-selling novel Me Before You. Per Deadline, the story is about “a young English woman hired as the caretaker for an affluent Londoner paralyzed in an accident. Both are surprised by how the relationship blossoms.” That sounds a lot like The Intouchables but with a romantic angle. I’m also going to say that since the plot synopsis for the book made me gag (Never write “A Love Story for this generation,”), this movie probably won’t be for me.
Hit the jump to for the full synopsis of Moyes’ Me Before You.
Emma Watson is poised to reteam with The Perks of Being a Wallflower writer/director Stephen Chbosky on another adaptation. While Chbosky adapted Perks from his own novel, Deadline reports that the director has now signed on to helm an adaptation of Adena Halpern’s book 29, which will be titled While We’re Young. The book revolves around a young-at-heart 75-year-old named Ellie who feels she has more in common with her 29-year-old granddaughter Lucy than her 55-year-old daughter Barbara. On her birthday, Ellie wishes she could be 29 again for just one day, and is surprised to find that the wish magically comes true. The story explores three generations of women and how one day changes everything they know about each other.
While the premise sounds a tad saccharine, so did the logline for Perks and Chbosky crafted that film into a mature, emotional, and honest look at young life; he’s more than earned the benefit of the doubt. Hit the jump for more.
The 2012 Black List has been released. For those unfamiliar with the Black List, it’s usually described as a list of the most-liked unproduced screenplays circling Hollywood even though A) the list is promoted by people who have a vested interest in making sure the script gets into development so this is more of a sales technique than a serious evaluation; B) some of these scripts are in production. In the case of the latter, Transcendence is in pre-production with Oscar-winning cinematographer Wally Pifster directing and Johnny Depp attached to star. The highest-ranked film, Draft Day, is currently in turnaround with Kevin Costner set to star and Ivan Reitman on board to direct.
Noteworthy inclusions on the list are biopics of Hillary Clinton and Dr. Seuss as well as screenplays from Jeremy Slater (Fantastic Four reboot), Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber ((500) Days of Summer), Eric Heisserer (Final Destination 5), Zack Whedon (Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog), and more. Hit the jump for the full list.
Screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber have been tapped to adapt John Green’s critically hailed novel The Fault in Our Stars. The story centers on two cancer-stricken teens that meet in a support group and develop a relationship. The novel follows the two through the ups and downs of their disease, as they embolden each other to face an uncertain future. Deadline reports that Fox 2000 and producers Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen have set the (500) Days of Summer screenwriters to pen the adaptation.
I’ve heard nothing but great things about Green’s novel, so this should come as good news to fans of the book. Given how they successfully blended comedy and drama with Summer, Neustadter and Weber seem a nice fit to tackle this challenging material. The two recently scripted the period comedy Rosaline, which tells the Romeo and Juliet story from the point of view of Romeo’s jilted ex-lover. Mildred Pierce helmer Michael Suscy is set to direct that film with Lily Collins, Deborah Ann Woll and Dave Franco poised to star. The duo also adapted the teen-skewing The Spectacular Now for producer Shawn Levy. Hit the jump to read a synopsis for The Fault in Our Stars.
We have a couple quick casting stories for you this afternoon. First up, Abigail Breslin has signed on to star in the dark indie drama The Class Project. Per Variety, “Story follows two sisters who, tired of their mother’s alcoholism and her abusive boyfriends, take matters into their own hands and plot to kill her.” I want to make fun of that logline, but it actually sounds like an intriguing premise and a nice development for the Little Miss Sunshine star. Stan Brooks will direct from a script by Fabrizio Filippo and Adam Till. Shooting begins later this month.
Breslin recently did some voice acting for Gore Verbinski’s Rango and she’ll next be seen in Gerry Marshall’s massive romantic comedy New Year’s Eve. Hit the jump for casting news on the Romeo & Juliet spinoff/re-imagining, Rosaline.