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Guilds, Guilds, Guilds Galore!

January 8, 2013 Leave a comment

sally_field_guild_awards_norma_rae

In the last several weeks, we’ve seen the top dogs of Hollywood’s guilds announce their nominations for best of the year. Nowadays, the precedent for any of these awards-giving bodies lining up with their equivalent Academy Award is virtually non-existant. However, they have always been the closest predictors of any precursor on the table. The Screen Actor’s Guild was the first to arrive with disappointments and surprises abound.

Undoubtedly, the guild elevated Nicole Kidman to a place of prominence in the Supporting field (simply a Golden Globe nomination could have been dismissible). Everything is pointing towards a nod, but I’m sticking with her just missing the cut for a surprise indy favorite in Ann Dowd from “Compliance”.

kinopoisk.ru

While the SAGs gave a boost to Kidman, they tied a cinderblock to perhaps my personal favorite performance of the year, none other than Joaquin Phoenix in “The Master”, in an attempt to drown it in the deep end of the pool. No doubt this miss of a nomination is due to Phoenix’ lack (or even disdain) of a campaign. He still managed the Globe and BFCA noms, however, and I doubt that Bradley Cooper will be able to garner as many No 1. votes on the ballots to squeeze him past such a die hard performance. Either you love it or hate it, but ask Terrence Malick how that methodology worked out for him last year.

Here’s the list of SAG nomination, color-coated with whom I think will advance:

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role 
Bradley Cooper – “Silver Linings Playbook”
Daniel Day-Lewis – “Lincoln”
John Hawkes – “The Sessions”
Denzel Washington – “Flight”
Hugh Jackman – “Les Miserables”

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role 
Jessica Chastain – “Zero Dark Thirty”
Jennifer Lawrence – “Silver Linings Playbook”
Helen Mirren – “Hitchcock”
Naomi Watts – “The Impossible”
Marion Cotillard – “Rust and Bone”

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role 
Alan Arkin – “Argo”
Robert De Niro – “Silver Linings Playbook”
Philip Seymour Hoffman – “The Master”
Tommy Lee Jones – “Lincoln”
Javier Bardem – “Skyfall”

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role 
Sally Field – “Lincoln”
Anne Hathaway – “Les Misérables”
Helen Hunt – “The Sessions”
Nicole Kidman – “The Paperboy”
Maggie Smith – “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”

As far as the Producer’s Guild is concerned, things couldn’t have gone more predictably. Generally, this field has a penchant for box office fair, with the Hollywood big whigs patting each other on the back over who managed to secure the best profit even when making decent cinema. Therefore, “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” with its minuscule budget and purebred independent production, showing up here is a bit surprising and more than a little admirable.

Daniel Craig

Meanwhile, I doubt that the mammoth monetary returns of the latest James Bond entry are the only reason for it’s appearance. “Skyfall” has been steadily gathering momentum since its release and a Best Picture nomination to follow would not be at all unexpected at this point. Given that it’s become a near lock for 4 nominations and a safe bet for 3 more, it may already be in the top tier in its total tally, so why not?

It’s really difficult to translate the PGA to Best Picture, given that one has a set amount of nominees, while the Oscars will be an unpredictable number between 5 and 10. Therefore, I’ve highlighted the definite locks and noted which films are surely on the bubble:

Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures
“Argo”
“Beasts of the Southern Wild”
“Django Unchained”
“Les Misérables”
“Life of Pi”
“Lincoln”
“Moonrise Kingdom”
“Silver Linings Playbook”
“Skyfall”
“Zero Dark Thirty”

As usual, the Writers Guild of America continued its inclusive, snobbish routine of listing all of the films that would not receive nominations based on the rules and regulations of the union and its membership. Some of the most prominent ineligibles include “”Django Unchained,” “Amour,” “Brave,” “Seven Psychopaths” and “The Intouchables” in in the original field, along with “Les Miserables,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and “Anna Karenina” absent from adapted.

Given that it actually did make the cut of qualifying films, “The Sessions” not showing up here is a major blow. It will have a hard time eking in a nod competing against a wider field on Thursday. “The Master” finally scored an important guild mention here after being largely shut out everywhere else. Will it be booted by QT’s “Django” in a few days. I severely pray not.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt; Bruce Willis

A joy to see on this list is definitely Rian Johnson’s mind-blowing sci fi action film “Looper,” which has risen from a financially unappreciated flop to a legitimate awards contender. Hopefully, it hold its ground for Oscar.

Here’s the two categories and my perspective:

Best Adapted Screenplay:
“Argo”
“Life of Pi”
“Lincoln”
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower”
“Silver Linings Playbook”

Best Original Screenplay:
“Flight”
“Looper”
“The Master”
“Moonrise Kingdom”
“Zero Dark Thirty”

Finally, we come to the newly announced Directors Guild nominations, which, for the first time, were released after the close of Oscar balloting. Whether this proves a massive difference from other years will surely determine how much of an influence these nominations have on the hearts and minds of Oscar voters.

life_of_pi_directors_guild

Not a lot of surprises abound in this group of five. There were some who believed (and maybe a few who hoped, myself included) that “Life of Pi” had gone quiet in the final stretch of campaigning, leaving the coveted final spot for “Silver Linings Playbook” helmer David O’Russell. However, with nods from the PGA, WGA and now the DGA, it’s full steam ahead for this cartoonish storybook epic. Ang Lee is such a legend in this day and age that there might never have been a question about it.

I’m predicting a five-for-five line-up here, but would be thrilled to see either P.T. Anderson (“The Master”) or Michael Haneke (“Amour”) make surprise coups.

Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film:
Ben Affleck, “Argo
Tom Hooper, “Les Misérables”
Ang Lee, “Life of Pi”
Steven Spielberg, “Lincoln”
Kathryn Bigelow, “Zero Dark Thirty”

Stay tuned for my final Oscar predictions tomorrow evening. At this state in the race, it’s every man for himself until curtain call. Don’t be surprised if even what I’ve said above changes in the next 24 hours.

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Writers Guild and MPSE Announce Winners

February 20, 2012 Leave a comment

Well, the weekend has wrapped and all but a few precursors remain. Yesterday’s winners continued to shed a bit of light on how things will go this Sunday, and, in some ways, made things a little more confusing.

The Writers Guild of America announced their 64th annual slate of winners early in the evening. As was overwhelmingly expected, Woody Allen was awarded Best Original Screenplay for his comeback film “Midnight in Paris.” While some believe that this makes him a lock for the Oscar win, he is actually far from it. Due to the WGA’s wacky (and absurd, if you ask me) eligibility guidelines, many films did not even qualify for the nominations. One such film is Best Picture frontrunner “The Artist,” and to be quite honest, said film still has a tremendous chance of stealing that award away. I’d say the money is still on “Paris,” since it has managed to beat out its competition, thus far (except for the BAFTA). Yet, one should never underestimate the power of a film’s sweeping potential. Screenplay might just get caught up in the hurricane.

Adapted Screenplay was a bit of a depressing moment for me, last night. “The Descendants” expectantly won the award for writers Alexander Payne, Jim Rash and Nat Faxon. Put together with the Scripter, this easily makes it the leading contender for the Oscar equivalent. Truly sad, if you ask me. “Descendants” is a great script, hurt, mind you, by a uneven and largely expositional voiceover. However, the obvious and true winner of this award has been discarded. Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zallian, undoubtedly crafted the best screenplay of the year, and as of now, will probably not see their work awarded. I can only hope for a 2009-esque upset, when “Precious” defied all logic to beat “Up in the Air” (ironically also starring George Clooney). Don’t count on it, though.

The second and final awards ceremony of the night was the Motion Picture Sound Editors. Many of Oscar’s Sound Editing nominees had several mentions, here, making these awards a useful barometer. The winners went down as follows:

  • BEST SOUND EFFECTS AND FOLEY IN A FEATURE FILM: “War Horse”
  • BEST MUSIC IN A FEATURE FILM: “Hugo”
  • BEST SOUND EDITING IN AN ANIMATION FEATURE FILM: “The Adventures of Tintin”
  • BEST MUSIC IN A MUSICAL FEATURE FILM: “The Muppets”
  • BEST SOUND EDITING IN A FEATURE FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: “The Flowers of War”
  • BEST SOUND EDITING IN A FEATURE DOCUMENTARY: “George Harrison: Living in the Material World”
  • BEST DIALOGUE AND ADR IN A FEATURE FILM: “Super 8″

Of the winners, two films also share an Oscar nomination: “Hugo” and “War Horse,” and we can pretty much bet that this category will go to one or the other. Since “Hugo” will probably take Sound Mixing (given its Cinema Audio Society victory, two nights ago), it is very possible it might take both categories in a sweep. Yet, I believe I’ll have to go with “War Horse” for a multitude of reasons.

First off, it took home the night’s big prize, Sound Effects and Foley, the award that most gravitates to the Oscar equivalent (“Inception,” “The Dark Knight Rises,” “The Bourne Ultimatum” and “Letters from Iwo Jima” all films that won both the MPSE and Oscar). Also, it is impossible to deny the insane popularity of Gary Rydstrom and Richard Hymns, with a combined ten Oscars between them. The last time they collaborated with Spielberg on a straight-up war film (“Saving Private Ryan”) they definitely do too shabby, either.

Everything else aside, there’s one glaring ideology pointing towards a “War Horse” victory. If “Hugo” were to win Best Sound Editing, it would be the first live action film without any gunfire to do so since “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” in 2002. If you take swordplay out of the equation, it goes back a lot further than that. With all things considered, this award leans towards movie action, and virtually always has. All of these factors, combined, point to not only a possible, but likely “War Horse” victory.

The sand is running out of the hourglass and only a few precursors to go. Tomorrow night is the Costume Designers Guild, where “The Artist,” “Bridesmaids” and “Harry Potter” appear to be likely winners. Then, the season is capped off by the Independent Spirit Awards less than twenty-four hours before the red carpet roles out. I’ll keep you posted.

The ACE, CAS and Scripter…Oh, my!

February 19, 2012 Leave a comment

Seven days left, folks. It’s the deep breath before the plunge. The last of the ballots are being finalized and pundits are making their final predictions. And while most of the race seems like a done deal, sealed and locked, there’s always the chance of a few upsets around the bend.

Aside from what I already mentioned, another event occurring in this final week is the rush for precursors to get their awards out before last call of the year. This weekend is a hornets nest of accolades being dished out almost faster than I can report them. While the Writers Guild is set to announce tonight, the other major screenplay award declared its winner yesterday evening. The USC Library Scripter, awarded each year to the finest example of adapting a film from another medium, went to Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash and novelist Kaui Hart Hemmings for “The Descendants.” Not at all a surprise, given the quality of the work. Personally I was predicting “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” to take this down. Also, the Scripter has absolutely no affiliation with the Academy or any other guild, so aside from common taste, this win has no impact on the Oscar outcome.

While “The Descendants” winning the Scripter was fairly expected, what was not was it’s simultaneous win with the American Cinema Editors. Forgive me, but this has to be one of the more outrageous and, more or less, absurd victories of the year. Going up against “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “Hugo,” “War Horse” and, for god’s sake, “Moneyball,” the actual winner was the least deserving of any of the dramatic nominees. It’s the only film in which the editing really adds no level of complexity or character. I really have no idea what this group was thinking. In the musical/comedy category, “The Artist” very expectantly took home the prize. Originally, this award seemed like a tight race between said frontrunner and either “Hugo” or “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” Yet, with this turn of events, it seems as though “The Artist” has a huge advantage next weekend. Add it to the pile.

The final award issued last night was the Cinema Audio Society, the guild equivalent of the Best Sound Mixing Oscar. As was largely expected, “Hugo” took this award home. This year presented a fairly odd situation, with the CAS and Oscar nominees only lining up 2/5 (only the second time in the CAS’ existence that their opinions differed so radically). However, going with statistics, NEVER since the formation of the CAS has a film won Best Sound Mixing without even being nominated by the guild. That would leave “Moneyball” and “Hugo.” With the latter winning the support from the guild, it has more than confirmed its frontrunner status. In fact a sweep of both sound categories is becoming more and more likely, but we’ll wait on the Motion Picture Sound Editors to announce, tonight.

With the WGA hours away, weighing extremely on the adapted screenplay field, I’ll make a prediction. However, my choice is definitely a lot more wishful thinking than common sense. If “Moneyball” takes this award down, it will reassert itself at the head of the pack (making me one happy pundit), although “The Descendants” is a steep wall to climb and the odds are definitely in its corner. I’ll stick with my favorite horse, though, but whatever wins here, will likely go on to Oscar gold.

Interestingly, while the adapted field will likely be decided tonight, the WGA’s Best Original Screenplay award will have little to no impact on the Oscar’s equivalent, barring any unforeseen upset. “Midnight in Paris” will likely take this award in a walk, but still move on to a dogfight next Sunday. That’s because the film’s stiffest opposition will not even be competing tonight. “The Artist,” which has basically become either the frontrunner or a threat in all of its categories, fell victim to the WGA’s strict eligibility rules. Therefore, even if Woody the Great is the winner tonight, “The Artist” just might be the odds-on favorite in seven days. It will be one of the night’s closest races for sure.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for updates from tonight’s awards, as well as the announcement of the 2nd Annual Edgy nominations. It’s about to get interesting.

“Tree of Life” Wins the ASC

February 13, 2012 Leave a comment

The American Society of Cinematographers held their gala and awards ceremony, celebrating the greatest achievements in cinematography from the 2011 film season. Of all the nominees, this year, one film has singled itself as the frontrunner by taking home nearly every honor for camera and lighting that it’s had the opportunity to. After being endlessly praised and awarded for his work on “The Tree of Life,” some believed that his peers in the ASC would throw Emmanuel Lubezki (and all of us) for a loop and go with something else. Yet, Malick and “El Chivo” fans can rejoice for the ASC’s grand prize did in fact go into said film’s pocket.

As far as my opinion is concerned, “The Tree of Life” may not have been my favorite work of the year, but certainly worth recognition. Working with such little light (and little story, if I want to be snarky), Lubezki took such small and seemingly insignificant events of a person’s life and crafted them into series upon series of gorgeous imagery that will be talked about for decades.

What does this all mean for Oscar? Well after “The Artist” managed to take down the cinematography prize at the British Academy Awards (also yesterday) and considering the potential “sweep” status of the film, I’d say that it is “The Tree of Life”‘s only real competition at this point. However, you have to consider that the Brits were not offered an official chance to screen “The Tree of Life,” so it’s impossible to gauge how that would have played out. Personally, I honestly can’t imagine that voters would not see how stupid they would look snubbing El Chivo again after his egregious loss for “Children of Men.” Yet, then again…Deakins.

Oh well. I stand by what I said two months ago. Next Sunday is going to be Emmanuel’s coronation as one of the finest cinematographers in the game. If not, I’ll have egg on my face, as will many, many more.

Screen Actors Guild Awards Winners – LIVE

January 29, 2012 Leave a comment

It’s the Screen Actors Guild Awards! Here, we find out who, in all probability, will win the Academy Awards in the acting categories. I’m hoping “The Help” has as good of night as it can, because seriously, it deserves it. Follow along as the winners are announced, live, on The Edge of the Frame.

Here are the winners:

FILM

OUTSTANDING ENSEMBLE in a MOTION PICTURE: “The Help”

OUTSTANDING ACTOR in a LEADING ROLE: Jean Dujardin – “The Artist”

OUTSTANDING ACTRESS in a LEADING ROLE: Viola Davis – “The Help”

OUTSTANDING ACTOR in a SUPPORTING ROLE: Christopher Plummer – “Beginners”

OUTSTANDING ACTRESS in a SUPPORTING ROLE: Octavia Spencer – “The Help”

__________

TELEVISION

OUTSTANDING ENSEMBLE in a DRAMA SERIES: “Boardwalk Empire”

OUTSTANDING ACTOR in a DRAMA SERIES: Steve Buscemi – “Boardwalk Empire”

OUTSTANDING ACTRESS in a DRAMA SERIES: Jessica Lange – “American Horror Story”

OUTSTANDING ENSEMBLE in a COMEDY SERIES: “Modern Family”

OUTSTANDING ACTOR in a COMEDY SERIES: Alec Bladwin – “30 Rock”

OUTSTANDING ACTRESS in a COMEDY SERIES: Betty White – “Hot in Cleveland”

OUTSTANDING ACTOR in a TV MINISERIES or MOVIE: Paul Giamatti – “Too Big to Fail”

OUTSTANDING ACTRESS in a TV MINISERIES or MOVIE: Kate Winslet – “Mildred Pierce”

“The Artist” Takes the Producers Guild

January 22, 2012 Leave a comment

Well, folks, I’m sorry to say that this Oscar race just keeps getting more and more boring by the minute. After taking a lion’s share of the critics awards (including the televised Critics Choice) and three Golden Globes, “The Artist” has began its domination of this industry’s guilds, as well. While one wants to discredit the circulating logic that this year’s frontrunner has had the big award sealed up since Cannes, it becomes more and more difficult to deny it, everyday.

Much like “The Hurt Locker” did, two years prior, “The Artist” defied a certain common logic by taking this prize, being the lowest money-earner of the group. The most profitable of said nominees would be “The Help,” which grossed around $160 million dollars, domestically. Second is “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” which is steadily creeping up on the $100 million mark. yet, following a similar (though not as rushed) release schedule as last year’s Best Picture winner, “The King’s Speech,” which at this point in its theatrical run had already earned around $46 million, “The Artist” has scored a measly $9.2. Much of this can be due to relatively low word of mouth, a lack of stars, a foreign origin, it’s black and white print and…oh yeah…IT’S SILENT. Not exactly a recipe for monetary success.

However, while Harvey Weinstein isn’t always the best at making money, there’s one thing he is the boss at. That skill can be referred to as quietly rigging the Oscars. Granted that he never performs any illegal activities to do so (at least none that have been proven), the man always finds the right buttons to press to make everything go his way. One would like to believe that if a movie is smart, entertaining and an extremely well-maid endeavor, it would have a fighting chance for Oscar gold. Yet, in reality, we all know that this race was over before it began.

This was widely considered the last stand for many films, trying to peck out a piece of the precursor pie. A win here for “The Descendants,” “The Help” or “Hugo” would show that this is more than just a one-horse race. However, it looks as though they will all have to find comfort and satisfaction in a nomination. That’s pretty much all one can ask for in a race against “The Punisher” (Weinstein’s new nickname, endowed by Michelle Williams). True, “The Help” is still the frontrunner for the SAG Ensemble Award and we can all hope that Martin Scorsese takes the DGA if for no other reason than to shake things up, but soon might be time to accept the inevitable. This Oscar season…sadly…is over.

Here’s the full list of film winners from the Producers Guild Awards, announced late last night:

Producer of the Year Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures: “The Artist”

Producer of the Year Award in Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures : “The Adventures of Tintin”

Producer of the Year Award in Documentary Theatrical Motion Pictures: “Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels Of A Tribe Called Quest”

Motion Picture Sound Editors Announce 2012 Nominations

January 20, 2012 1 comment

I can’t say I’m as enthralled by the MPSE’s nominations. They just don’t have the same oomph and hutzpah that their younger brother, the Cinema Audio Society, seems to exhibit. It might have to do with their obvious indecisiveness, citing forty-seven nominees split into seven different categories. I do, in fact, understand the difference in editing both music and dialogue, yet, when you can’t narrow it down past eight nominees for ADR editing, you’re just not trying hard enough.

That brings me to the second point which is quality. When you’re nominating films like “Hop,” “Abduction” and “Priest” for actual awards, those films better have sound editing on par with “Saving Private Ryan.” Otherwise, you look just about as stupid as the Academy’s make-up branch when they nominate the latest Eddie Murphy or Adam Sandler flick. Some films just deserve to be forgotten and by nominating them for awards, you’re just not helping anyone. And “Quarantine II: Terminal”? Seriously? I have no words.

As far as what these awards mean for Oscar, one thing’s for sure. Even if the Academy’s visual effects corridor has shunned it, “Super 8” has certainly made its make in regards to its sound. After picking up a CAS nom yesterday, the film dominated the MPSE with three mentions, in other words, every category that it was eligible in. I think it would be safe to put money on Abrams’ film making it in for at least one, if not both of the AMPAS sound categories.

See the full list of nominees after the cut:

BEST SOUND EDITING: SOUND EFFECTS AND FOLEY IN A FEATURE FILM
“Drive”
“Fast Five”
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
“Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol”
“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”
“Super 8”
“Transformers: Dark of the Moon”
“War Horse”

Read more…