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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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“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”

The PGA Nominations Announced

January 3, 2012 Leave a comment

I’m going to avoid any general discussion on this at the moment, suffice a moment of ecstatic joy concerning the official end of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows” Best Picture run. It would take a miracle to get it in if the Producers won’t even give it the time of day. Apologies to “Potter” aficionados who read this blog, but I have never been a fan and I’d hate to to see that film steal away a spot on the shortlist, namely from films like “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” or “Moneyball”.

I’m currently crafting an all-encompassing post on the status of the current race which will be out later today. But for now, here are the nominations:

“THE ARTIST”
Producer: Thomas Langmann

“BRIDESMAIDS”
Producers: Judd Apatow, Barry Mendel, Clayton Townsend

“THE DESCENDANTS”
Producers: Jim Burke, Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor

“THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO”
Producers: Ceán Chaffin, Scott Rudin

“THE HELP”
Producers: Michael Barnathan, Chris Columbus, Brunson Green

“HUGO”
Producers: Graham King, Martin Scorsese

“THE IDES OF MARCH”
Producers: George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Brian Oliver

“MIDNIGHT IN PARIS”
Producers: Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum

“MONEYBALL”
Producers: Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz, Brad Pitt

“WAR HORSE”
Producers: Kathleen Kennedy, Steven Spielberg

The Producers Guild of America Producer of the Year Award in Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures:

“THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN”
Producers: Peter Jackson, Kathleen Kennedy, Steven Spielberg

“CARS 2”
Producer: Denise Ream

“KUNG FU PANDA 2”
Producer: Melissa Cobb

“PUSS IN BOOTS”
Producers: Joe M. Aguilar, Latifa Ouaou

“RANGO”
Producers: John B. Carls, Gore Verbinski

The Producers Guild or “At least we’ve got a race, now.”

January 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Well, there you have it folks. The Producers Guild of America chosen “The King’s Speech” and “The Social Network” loses its first major Best Picture award this year. This is a major coup in the race for this year’s Oscars, easily the biggest (if not the only one that’s occurred this season). So I guess the question on everyone’s mind is, how upset am I?

Not really. I mean, let’s face it. Even I think that an Oscar race with absolutely no suspense whatsoever really is kind of boring. As exciting as it is to see your favorite film drive a clear path to big night, winning every award in sight, the Academy Awards are a bit more exciting when you’re biting your nails when the envelope is opened. I wish the award could have gone to a little bit more worthy of a film, like “Toy Story 3,” “The Fighter” or “Inception,” but c’est la vie. The only thing that I do have to worry about is that my biggest fears of only the critics, and not the industry itself, embracing the film.

Well, a bit of history. While the PGA has managed to line-up with Oscar the last three years, before that it wasn’t always such a lock. “Little Miss Sunshine,” “Brokeback Mountain,” “The Aviator” and “Moulin Rouge” all won the award without going on to win the Oscar. Also, the last three films to win the award also swept at least two of the other three major guilds, which “The King’s Speech” will certainly not be able to do.

It’s interesting that after all the critics awards, after all of the propaganda and the pundits, it comes right back down to what do many said it would be back in October: “The Social Network” vs. “The King’s Speech.” It’s the generation-defining landmark film vs. the Oscar-pedigree heartstring puller. It’s Rudin vs. Weinstein. Even though “The Fighter” is definitely poised to take down the Screen Actors Guild ensemble, it doesn’t have the same type of steam that either of the two frontrunners have. I’m even using the same picture that I concocted almost 4 months ago when I posted this blog’s very first Oscar predictions of the year. Bottom line is that even though “The Social Network” is still the favorite, it’s not over yet.

In closing, on a completely different note, GO BEARS!!! Gave it a hell of a run. Especially you, Forte. And I would be delighted to see Caleb Hanie at the helm next season.

The Shape of Things and Those to Come

January 22, 2011 8 comments

We’re now down to just over a month left until cinema’s biggest night, the 83rd Annual Academy Awards, and only three days left till the nominations are released. It’s a very exciting time for movies and an equally exciting time for The Edge of the Frame. I’ve got a lot of great stuff planned for the coming weeks.

First off, now that all of the guild nominations are complete, I will try to be as prompt as possible at announcing the winners as they are awarded. First off will be the Producers Guild which is holding its ceremony tonight. Many believe that, with the DGA and WGA all but locked up, the Producers are the last big hurdle that “The Social Network” needs to vanquish before it can be considered a virtual lock for the Best Picture Oscar. Or, put another way, if “The King’s Speech,” “Black Swan,” “The Fighter,” “Inception,” or even “Toy Story 3” wants to put up any kind of a fight, this should be their last stand. I mean these are producers we’re talking about, so massive box office success may be taken into account here. And all of the above-mentioned films have much more exciting box office turn-ins than the frontrunner (not that “TSN” fared badly, bringing in just shy of $100 million off of a $40 million dollar budget). As far as money goes, my own is still squarely behind David Fincher’s masterpiece. It doesn’t help having one of Hollywood’s most loved and successful producers behind the curtain, in the form of Scott Rudin.

On top of the guilds, I’m going to attempt to not wait until the last possible moment to announce my predictions for this year’s Academy Awards. I’m hoping that by tomorrow evening, I will be ready for my final guess. While, it’s true, there’s virtually nothing between today and Tuesday morning that could change what’s in the envelopes (especially since the AMPAS’ polls closed over a week ago). However, it’s all about the vibe, and for that, I have to take my time.

Along with continuing awards coverage, I am also drafting a few feature articles. I’m currently in progress on my next addition to The Lists series, focusing on the greatest addicts in movie history. Meanwhile, I’m also planning two articles in support of “The Social Network.” One, countering arguments that the film is overrated due to its historic inaccuracies and possibly another that defends Jesse Eisenberg’s performance as one of the year’s best, if not the best of the best.

You know, I take a lot of guff from people who say that I have a huge bias for the Facebook film; that this site is simply all “Social Network” all day long. Well, let’s face it folks. This awards season, let alone the year in cinema has been all “Social Network” all day. As the tagline states, “You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.” Well, you don’t get to win 30 out of 33 awards for Best Picture of the Year without being a pretty goddamn good movie, so I really don’t think I’m alone on this one.

Finally, as the 2010 film season comes to a close, it’s about time I conclude my critical coverage of the season. Soon, I will be rolling out my “Best of the Year” series. There are still four more films that I absolutely must see before I feel comfortable posting a valid list. David Michod’s “Animal Kingdom” is in my Blu ray player waiting for me when I get home from work, today. I’ve scheduled a screening of Mike Leigh’s “Another Year” tomorrow afternoon. I should have some time to check out Peter Weir’s “The Way Back later this week, and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “Biutiful” opens in Chicago on the 28th. On that time table, I should be able to assemble my Top Ten List by February 1st. I may just have time to sneak “Repo Men,” “Mother and Child,” “The Virginity Hit” and “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” into consideration, pending on how fast I can work my way through my Netflix DVD queue.

Shortly after I post my Top Ten of the Year, I will begin preparing the nominations for the Conroy Film Awards, or “The Connies” for a certain few who have chosen to refer to them that way. These are my own personal Academy Awards. I believe I have a set of them for every year going back to 1940. They’re tailored with the same nominees as the AMPAS, along with a few other fun categories, including Best Ensemble Cast, Best Heros/Villains, and Best Ending (with no spoilers included, of course).

All in all, it should be a good time. So keep reading, folks, cause the fun is about to begin.

Producers Guild Announces….Exactly as Expected

January 4, 2011 1 comment

The PGA have announced their nominees for 2010. As I said, over the weekend, these awards are basically the Producers’ union’s equivalent of the Best Picture Oscar. And while I’m very happy to see certain nominees up there, this is really showing how boring the rest of the season will be. I was really hoping that “Winter’s Bone” was going to be able to beat out “The Town,” but c’est la vie. At least the actual nominees for Best Picture are balloted by the entire Academy and not just the producers, so it should fare a better chance in a few weeks.

Here’s the full list of nominees:

Darryl F. Zanuck Producer of the Year Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures
“Black Swan” (Scott Franklin, Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver)
“The Fighter” (David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman, Mark Wahlberg)
“Inception” (Christopher Nolan, Emma Thomas)
“The Kids Are All Right” (Gary Gilbert, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, Celine Rattray)
“The King’s Speech” (Iain Cunning, Emile Sherman, Gareth Unwin)
“127 Hours” (Danny Boyle, Christian Colson)
“The Social Network” (Dana Brunetti, Ceán Chaffin, Michael De Luca, Scott Rudin)
“The Town” (Basil Iwanyk, Graham King)
“Toy Story 3″ (Darla K. Anderson)
“True Grit” (Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Scott Rudin)

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures
“Despicable Me” (John Cohen, Janet Healy, Christopher Meledandri)
“How to Train Your Dragon” (Bonnie Arnold)
“Toy Story 3″ (Darla K. Anderson)

Outstanding Producer of Documentary Theatrical Motion Pictures
“Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Elliot Spitzer” (awaiting final credit determination)
“Earth Made of Glass” (Reid Carolin, Deborah Scranton)
“Inside Job” (Charles Ferguson, Audrey Marrs)
“Smash His Camera” (Linda Saffire, Adam Schlesinger)
“The Tillman Story” (John Battsek)
“Waiting for Superman” (Lesley Chilcott)

Milestone Award
James Cameron

David O. Selznick Award
Scott Rudin

Nice to see Scott Rudin getting the Lifetime award at the end, there. The guy has really done a lot for film in the last decade. And it looks like he might be getting a chance at a second Oscar under his belt should “The Social Network’s luck continue. Rudin won three years ago for “No Country for Old Men.”

Interesting also to see “Despicable Me” beating out both “The Illusionist” and “Tangled” for Best Animated, However, once again these are producers, so box office success is taken much more into account.

As far as my winner predictions go, I am both hoping and believing that “The Social Network” will take this down. Since it probably has both the DGA and the WGA in the bag, a win here would all but seal it for a Best Picture victory at the Oscars. If “The King’s Speech” doesn’t make a stand here, all the Golden Globes in the world aren’t going to be able to help it. I’d say that if anything were to upset “Network” it would be either “Black Swan” or “Inception.” Both films are riding huge waves, right now. They are also the two biggest box office successes in their respective areas, “Inception” being a towering Hollywood blockbuster and “Black Swan,” the independent film that just won’t stop breaking records.

Perhaps the biggest dark horse for the win is “Toy Story 3.” The film is a monster box office success, turning in mountains more than any other film this year. The PGA also has a penchant for honoring animated films. They were nominating Pixar before the Academy ever got around to it, and this was before there were ten nominees. They even gave the Zanuck award to “The Incredibles” in 2004. If “Toy Story 3” can pull off a win here, it will be a massive coup, and then every awards-related news story for the next month will be “Can an animated film win Best Picture?” and the dominos may begin to fall from there. We’ll see.

The film will for sure clean up in the Animated Feature Award. Sad, really. If it wasn’t for Pixar constantly bombarding us with amazing cinema, “How to Train Your Dragon” would have had a huge chance. Best Documentary should be a showdown between “Waiting for Superman” and “Inside Job,” but the latter definitely has the edge.

Stay tuned for the WGA nominations which should be out within the next few hours. I was reminded earlier that I completely forgot to consider “Animal Kingdom” in the Best Original Screenplay category, which has a lot of potential for showing up.

Producers and Writers Guild Preview

January 2, 2011 1 comment

Two more of the four major guilds will be announcing on Tuesday: the Producers Guild and the Writers Guild. It’s quite obvious that the WGA awards are related to the Oscars for Best Original and Adapted Screenplays, while the Producers’ award is the union equivalent of Best Picture.

For those who are unfamiliar with the whole precursor process, the guilds are the closest tool to predicting the Oscars for they make up the largest crossover of voting members. Both the guilds and the Oscars are made up of members of the film industry, itself, though the Academy is obviously more selective. The critics and the Golden Globes can confirm what are probably thought to be the best films of the year, however, only the guilds can be an accurate barometer of what the Academy will be thinking.

This is especially true, usually, for the Producers Guild. Last year, the PGA lined up with the Academy Award for Best Picture 8 for 10, missing “The Blind Side” and “A Serious Man.” Every year since 2004, they have matched up 4 for 5. While there’s no real process for predicting the Producers Guild, they do sometimes have a penchant for blockbusters with a brain, especially ones that perform better than expected. Therefore, I would be fast to predict “How to Train Your Dragon,” were it not for their Best Animated Feature category, which I don’t think it will be able to escape from.

Therefore, I believe these will be the nominees:

1. “The Social Network”
2. “Toy Story 3”
3. “Inception”
4. “The Fighter”
5. “The King’s Speech”
6. “Black Swan”
7. “True Grit”
8. “The Kids Are All Right”
9. “127 Hours”
10. “The Town”

I obviously want to predict “Winter’s Bone,” however, I’m afraid that it is too independent for the PGA’s taste. I hope that I am proven wrong and it ousts “The Town” from the line-up. Other alternates include “Shutter Island” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part I.”

The Writers Guild of America is a little bit tricker to predict due to their annual, well-publicized list of ineligible films. For instance, last year, four of the main contenders and eventual nominees for screenplay nominations were ineligible for the WGA. They included “An Education,” “District 9,” “In the Loop” and, a close contender for the win, “Inglourious Basterds.” When so many films with great chances to not only get nominated, but rather win the eventual Oscar, it is difficult to predict these based on what to expect from the Academy.

This year, the list of ineligible films include: “The King’s Speech,” “Another Year,” “Blue Valentine,” “Biutiful” and “Made in Dagenham” in original; “Toy Story 3,” “Winter’s Bone,” “The Ghost Writer,” “Never Let Me Go” and “The Way Back” in adapted. While not all of these are locks for Oscar nominations, some of them are, as well as being big contenders for the win.

Having whittled down the selection, I believe the WGA nominations will look like this:

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

1. “The Kids Are All Right”
2. “Inception”
3. “Black Swan”
4. “The Fighter”
5. “Please Give”
Alt: “Greenberg”

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
1. “The Social Network”
2. “True Grit”
3. “127 Hours”
4. “Rabbit Hole”
5. “The Town”
Alt: “Fair Game”

I personally believe that the eventual winners of the screenplay Oscars are, in fact, still eligible for the WGA, as well. An interesting piece of information, and quite bad news for films like “Toy Story 3” and “The King’s Speech” is that a film hasn’t won Best Picture and not been a WGA-eligible film since “Gladiator” won in 2000.

Check back to The Edge of the Frame on Tuesday for the official PGA and WGA nominations and we’ll see how close our predictions are.