Oscar Beat: The Best Director Race at a Glance

by     Posted 5 hours ago

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As we head out of the Thanksgiving holiday, studios have been scrambling to get screeners out to critics and voters before early December deadlines, and some of the year’s later releases are finally starting to be seen, which means the Oscar race is becoming much clearer.  We already have one potentially huge game-changer in the form of Selma, which has enjoyed enthusiastically positive response from its initial screenings, but that film also throws a curious prospect into the mix: for the first time in history, could we actually have two female directors nominated for the Best Director Oscar?

After the jump, I consider this question as I take a look at the current state of the rather crowded Best Director race in this edition of Oscar Beat.

Oscar Beat: The Best Actress Race at a Glance

by     Posted 15 days ago

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Every year it seems like Oscars’ Best Actor category is crowded, while the number of contenders for the Best Actress trophy feels relatively thin.  It’s a result of the sad fact that there just aren’t as many interesting lead roles for women in Hollywood as there are for men; many times the “female lead” is relegated to existing only in relation to the film’s male lead.  It’s disappointing to be sure, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t any noteworthy female roles out there, and this year’s Best Actress race is an excellent showcase of both talent and range, from brilliant sociopaths to Alzheimer’s patients.

After the jump, I take a look at the current state of the Best Actress Oscar category in this new edition of Oscar Beat.

Oscars: 20 Films Submitted for Best Animated Feature Consideration

by     Posted 24 days ago

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A total of 20 films have been submitted for consideration for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, with titles ranging from The LEGO Movie to The Boxtrolls to The Tale of the Princess Kaguya.  This is an odd year in that there’s really no clear frontrunner yet.  Pixar didn’t release anything, and response to Walt Disney Animation’s sole offering, Big Hero 6, isn’t coming close to the near universal praise of Frozen last year.  DreamWorks Animation has a strong film in How to Train Your Dragon 2, but the sequel suffered a somewhat disappointing box office performance domestically.  Princess Kaguya comes from the revered folks at Studio Ghibli and studio co-founder Isao Takahata, so it could be a formidable force in the race, and I’d say The LEGO Movie is a strong contender to take home the trophy as well given its wildly positive response from critics and audiences alike.

Check out the full list and more commentary on the contenders after the jump.

Oscar Beat: The Best Actor Race at a Glance

by     Posted 27 days ago

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Every year in the awards race, it seems like the Best Actor field is the most crowded category.  That is certainly the case with this current crop of contenders, as there is no shortage of formidable talents vying for one of the five Best Actor Oscar slots.  While it’s still a tad early to start talking about possible winners, there’s plenty to discuss with regards to chances of being nominated.  The contenders range from well-respected underdogs to recent winners, and yes, spoiler alert, many of them are playing real people.  After the jump, I take a look at the Best Actor race at a glance in this edition of Oscar Beat.

Chris Rock and Julia Louis-Dreyfus Turned Down the Offer to Host This Year’s Oscars

by     Posted 37 days ago

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It was announced last week that the excellent Neil Patrick Harris will be hosting this coming February’s Oscar ceremony, but it turns out that NPH wasn’t the Academy’s first choice.  THR reports that producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron—who have produced the last two ceremonies in a row—first “begged” Ellen Degeneres to return as Oscar for this year’s ceremony.  She firmly declined the offer, and then they next approached Chris Rock, who hosted in 2005.  He turned down the offer as well, and so Zadan and Meron then went to Julia Louis-Dreyfus who, shocker, said “no”.  They then finally landed on Harris, who graciously agreed to take on the gig.  More after the jump.

Neil Patrick Harris to Host the 2015 Oscars

by     Posted 44 days ago

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The host for the 2015 Oscars has been chosen, and it’s a mighty fine choice.  Neil Patrick Harris has been tapped to host the 87th Academy Awards on February 22, 2015, ensuring that there will likely be at least one highly enjoyable musical number during the telecast.  Harris has plenty of experience hosting these kinds of ceremonies, having hosted the Tony Awards numerous times and the Emmy Awards this past year.  Ellen Degeneres hosted this past Oscar ceremony to positive results, but apparently she was apprehensive about accepting the gig and didn’t want to return for the 2015 Oscars.

Harris is a fantastic showman and so I’m very pleased by this news.  Craig Zadan and Neil Meron are returning to produce for the third time in a row (sigh), but they’ve found themselves an excellent frontman.  Harris is extremely charismatic and funny, and he also might find himself appearing in one of the Best Picture nominees if Gone Girl takes off with the Academy.  Check out NPH’s video confirmation of the news after the jump.

Oscar Beat: The Best Picture Race at a Glance

by     Posted 44 days ago

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The awards race is off and running.  We’ve already been through the fall film festival circuit where a number of contenders emerged either as heavy hitters or non-players, and as November approaches we’re starting to get to the point where all of the big films have been seen.  As such, I thought now would be a good time to start taking a closer look at some of the big categories, seeing where things stand as far as what films and actors/actresses are most likely to be nominated.  Take a look at the Best Picture race at a glance in this week’s edition of Oscar Beat after the jump.

Julianne Moore Surges into Best Actress Race as STILL ALICE Gets Oscar-Qualifying Release from Sony Pictures Classics

by     Posted 63 days ago

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One of the big surprises of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival was a film called Still Alice.  Not many people I talked to saw it, but those that did were raving about Julianne Moore’s performance as a linguistics professor who begins showing the signs of Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease.  The consensus was that if a studio picked up the independent film and set it for release before the year was out, they would have very good odds of landing a Best Actress Oscar for Moore.  And that is just what Sony Pictures Classics has done.  The studio confirmed today that it will release co-directors and co-writers Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland’s adaptation of the Lisa Genova novel in New York and Los Angeles in December for a one-week awards qualifying run, officially entering Moore into this year’s Best Actress race.

Hit the jump for more on the Best Actress category as it stands now and Moore’s presumed frontrunner status for Still Alice.

Oscar Beat: Patricia Arquette Going Supporting for BOYHOOD While A MOST VIOLENT YEAR Enters Awards Race

by     Posted 71 days ago

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A couple of interesting developments have surfaced in the past 24 hours with regards to the current awards race.  While you may be saying, “Adam, it’s September, the awards race is still months away,” I’d counter by pointing out that the fall film festivals traditionally signal the start of the very long Oscar season—by this time last year, critics were already buzzing after the debuts of 12 Years a Slave and Gravity on the festival circuit.  I provided live Oscar Beat updates from TIFF just last week, but now we’ve got a couple of news-y bits of awards content to attend to.  Firstly, IFC Films has opted to submit Patricia Arquette in the Best Supporting Actress category for Boyhood instead of Best Actress, greatly increasing her chances of winning.

And secondly, A24 Films has officially set director J.C. Chandor’s highly anticipated All Is Lost follow-up A Most Violent Year for limited release on December 31st, crashing the awards race with an Oscar-qualifying run.  Much more after the jump.

Oscar Beat TIFF 2014: Reese Witherspoon Enters Frustratingly Thin Best Actress Race with WILD

by     Posted 77 days ago

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While the Toronto International Film Festival is a regular launching pad for awards season fare, this year’s fest lacked any one big breakout film like last year’s 12 Years a Slave and Gravity.  TIFF 2014, instead, was all about the performances.  I’ve already written about the awards prospects of the incredible work in Foxcatcher, The Imitation Game, and The Theory of Everything, not to mention a potential dark horse in Jake Gyllenhaal’s Nightcrawler, and now it’s time to discuss Reese Witherspoon’s raw, naked lead performance in director Jean-Marc Vallée’s pleasantly surprising and refreshing drama Wild.

You can read my full review of the film right here, but in this TIFF 2014 edition of Oscar Beat, I consider Witherspoon’s chances in the frustratingly weak Best Actress race.  Read on after the jump.

Oscar Beat TIFF 2014: Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones Shine in THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING

by     Posted 80 days ago

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As I said in yesterday’s Oscar Beat article focusing on The Imitation Game, the awards season is always prime time for biopics.  At the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival—which acts as a sort of launching pad for much of the season’s awards fare—there were two high-profile films based on the lives of historical figures that screened for audiences.  The Imitation Game took the non-traditional route, turning the life of Alan Turing into a sort of spy thriller, while the Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything is pretty standard as far as the genre goes (read Phil’s review here).  However, director James Marsh’s drama is rendered highly emotional by two absolutely stellar lead performances by Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones, which will undoubtedly land them in the frontlines of the Oscar conversation.  More after the jump.

Oscar Beat TIFF 2014: Benedict Cumberbatch Launches Into the Best Actor Race with THE IMITATION GAME

by     Posted 81 days ago

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The awards season is certainly prone to recognizing biopics, and luckily there are two high-profile films based on the lives of historical figures screening at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.  I’ll have a full Oscar Beat report up on The Theory of Everything soon (for now read Phil’s review), but for now it’s time to focus on the fact that Benedict Cumberbatch might very well end up with a Best Actor nomination for his fantastic performance as Alan Turing in The Imitation Game.  Moreover, the film itself has been receiving high praise, and I left the theater this afternoon thinking, “this feels like the kind of movie that wins Best Picture.”  More after the jump.

Oscar Beat TIFF 2014: FOXCATCHER Enters Awards Race with Tremendous Performances from Channing Tatum, Steve Carell, and Mark Ruffalo

by     Posted 81 days ago

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The terrific, immensely unsettling drama Foxcatcher is finally on the verge of release on November 14th, and the film comes with incredibly high expectations.  Not only does it carry a fascinating, true story premise (eccentric millionaire John du Pont’s quest to coach an Olympic wrestling team) but the movie hails from filmmaker Bennett Miller, who is two-for-two when it comes to directing Best Picture nominees and even landed a Best Director Oscar nomination for his narrative feature debut Capote.  Having finally gotten a chance to see Foxcatcher at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, I can confirm that it is indeed a major contender in the upcoming awards race, especially when it comes to the film’s jaw-dropping trio of performances from Channing Tatum, Steve Carell, and Mark Ruffalo.

In this TIFF 2014 edition of Oscar Beat, I run down Foxcatcher’s chances in the upcoming Oscar race, including a very tricky quandary when it comes to category placement for the performances.  Read on after the jump.

Oscar Beat TIFF 2014 Edition: Part 1 – Jake Gyllenhaal, MR. TURNER, and the Return of Jason Reitman

by     Posted 82 days ago

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The first few days of the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival are in the bag, but it’s an uncharacteristically slow start to what is usually a big awards season kickoff.  Due to a rule change this year, only films that have not previously premiered at other festivals (ie. Telluride) can be highlighted during the first four days of TIFF, which leaves potential heavy hitters like Foxcatcher, The Imitation Game, and Wild on the bench until next week.  That said, these first couple of days have given us the debuts of Jason Reitman’s heavy drama Men, Women & Children, an unhinged Jake Gyllenhaal in the fantastic psychological thriller Nightcrawler, and the charming new Noah Baumbach feature While We’re Young, as well as the Canadian Premiere of the well-received Mr. Turner.

While major Oscar contenders have yet to surface, there are a few noticeable standouts from the aforementioned features that could pick up steam as the season rolls on.  More after the jump in this TIFF 2014 edition of Oscar Beat.

Oscar Beat: What Awards Prospects Does the First Half of 2014 Have to Offer?

by     Posted 143 days ago

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We’ve now passed the halfway point of 2014, and while we dusted off our awards column Oscar Beat to rundown the post-Cannes Film Festival atmosphere back in May, the Oscar season doesn’t begin in earnest until September.  That said, given that fall isn’t the only time of the year that’s considered eligible for awards notice, I thought it fitting to take a look back at the last six months to see what films might pop up in the Oscar conversation later this year.  Read on after the jump.

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