The Academy’s rules for Best Documentary are so arbitrary and asinine that I always hold my breath when it comes to their shortlist. A list of final nominees is frustrating in any category, but it’s infuriating when a good film doesn’t even get a chance to compete. Thankfully, there are plenty of good choices among this year’s shortlist. The films eligible for a Best Documentary Oscar nomination include The Act of Killing (I’d be ballistic if this wasn’t in the running; my review), Cutie and the Boxer, God Loves Uganda, Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer, Stories We Tell (my review, although the movie didn’t hold up as well on a repeat viewing), and 20 Feet From Stardom (my review). If you have HBO GO, you can check out Pussy Riot along with other shortlisted docs The Crash Reel, First Cousin Once Removed, and Life According to Sam. As far as snubs go, I wish Casting By was in the running, but considering that it directly criticizes the Academy for not having an award for casting directors, I’m not surprised by its exclusion.
Hit the jump for the full shortlist. Nominations for the 86th Academy Awards will be announced on January 16th.
One of the most pleasant surprises of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival is Tim’s Vermeer. Made my legendary magicians and bullshit busters Penn & Teller the film is about the remarkable achievement of their friend Tim Jenison. A professional computer/optics expert and amateur inventor, Jenison became fascinated with the work of the great Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer whose ground-breakingly realistic work has confounded art critics and historians for centuries. Controversial recent theories have suggested that Vermeer used primitive camera lenses to essentially paint photographs and with a deep background in video technology, Jenison was not only qualified to see how that could be true, but also had a theory of how it was done.
Armed with the resources, dedication, eccentricity, and free time necessary to pull it off, Jenison dedicated a year of his life to proving the theory by recreating Vermeer’s studio, crafting a practical device Vermeer might have used to pull off the work, and meticulously recreated a classic painting using only tools and resources available in the 17th century. The only catch was that he’d never painted before, but with the invention he’d devised that didn’t matter. So Penn & Teller filmed the entire journey and presented the Tim’s journey in a manner as clever, funny, insightful, and moving as any of their finest work. Collider got a chance to chat with Penn, Teller, and Jenison at TIFF, delving into the making of their latest project, their underrated 1989 film Penn & Teller Get Killed, and, oddly, the relationship between Martin Mull and Jimi Hendrix. Hit the jump for the full chat.
Let’s take a look at some clips from the following films:
- Labor Day – Jason Reitman’s drama starring Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin, Tobey Maguire, James Van Der Beek and Clark Gregg, opening January 31, 2014.
- Tim’s Vermeer – Teller (of Penn & Teller) directs this documentary centering on inventor Tim Jenison’s quest to understand the painting techniques of Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer.
- The Face of Love - Arie Posin’s romantic drama starring Ed Harris, Annette Bening and Robin Williams.
Hit the jump to watch the clips.
Made by legendary bullshit busting magicians Penn & Teller, Tim’s Vermeer already looks like not just one of the best documentaries at TIFF this year, but possible one of the best films of the year, full stop. Like all of the best docs, it’s a unique story that would probably be unbelievable were it not factual. And like all Penn & Teller projects it’s flippantly funny, weirdly revealing, and always magical. You wouldn’t think that a movie about a computer genius with too much time on his hands recreating a Dutch master’s painting could be this entertaining, but you also wouldn’t think Penn & Teller would make a movie about it. So, I guess the whole thing is filled with surprises, isn’t it? Hit the jump for more.
The Telluride Film Festival gets under my skin. It’s incredibly expensive to attend, and you don’t know the line-up until the day before the festival begins. Its major advantage is that it’s become the place where awards films attempt to pick up a little steam. Telluride equivalent of a Preview Night. Rather than drop the films at the Toronto International Film Festival, they can start picking up some buzz from a smaller audience, which could potentially guide the much larger audience at the TIFF. Not all of the films are making debuts. Most notably, Cannes favorites Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska, and All Is Lost will be playing at Telluride, skipping TIFF, and then playing at the New York Film Festival. Gravity just had its premiere at Venice, but Telluride is now its North American debut. Other notable movies that will now be making their world premiere at Telluride are Jason Reitman‘s Labor Day, Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin, and Errol Morris‘ documentary The Unknown Known.
Hit the jump for the full line-up. The 2013 Telluride Film Festival runs from August 29 – September 2nd.
The latest TIFF 2013 line-up to be announced is what they have in store for documentaries. At the top of my must-see list are Errol Morris‘ Donald Rumsfeld documentary The Unknown Known and Frank Pavich‘s Jodorowsky’s Dune. Also, reading through the brief synopses, I’m going to try and make time for Beyond the Edge (a 3D doc about Everest climber Sir Edmund Hillary) and The Dog (the story that was used as the basis for Dog Day Afternoon). I’ll also be avoiding At Berkeley, which sounds just awful.
Hit the jump for the full documentary line-up. The 2013 Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 5 – 15th.