January moviegoing looks one flatliner after another. The only film that may do some decent business this weekend is that Hilary Swank– saves-the-students-from-their-self-destructive-street- environment-and-street-attitudes movie Freedom Writers (Paramount). General awareness is 64, definite interest 32, first choice is 10. New Line’s Code Name: The Cleaner with Cedric the Entertainer (“You want tact, get a tactician!”) is at 47, 25 and 3. The animated Happily Never After (Lionsgate) is 53, 22 and 2.
Borat‘s Sacha Baron Cohen talks to Fresh Air’s Terry Gross (in his fey British accent) on National Public Radio. They have a moderately cool discussion that really goes into the nature of his comedy and what it says about — and how it may potentially affect — anti-semitism.
In a Hollywood Reporter directors roundtable discussion, interviewer Stephen Galloway asks David Lynch, Emilio Estevez, Nancy Meyers, Guillermo del Toro, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris to name any moment from any film that they would take with them into the afterlife.
Lynch: “Oh, man. Okay. I guess, Grace Kelly and Jimmy Stewart discovering the mystery across the [courtyard] in Rear Window.
Del Toro: The razor blade cutting the eye in Luis Bunuel‘s Andalusian Dog.
Dayton: “Dustin Hoffman pounding on the glass in the church and Katharine Ross yelling “Ben!” in The Graduate.
Estevez: “The last four minutes of Taxi Driver. It is so brutal;…so uncompromisingly violent and so shocking.”
Meyers: “There is this moment in Bringing Up Baby where Katharine Hepburn lands a butterfly net on Cary Grant‘s head, and he gestures he wants to strangle her. That never fails to crack me up.”
Faris: “Abel Gance‘s Napoleon. When I saw it and the end was projected on three scenes, that made me want to cry. It was all about the future of film and the past.
“In Munchkinland when The (Lollipop) Guild spoke, Dorothy listened. In Hollywoodland when The Guild speaks, everyone listens, at least during awards season because, to put it bluntly, the PGA, DGA, SAG and WGA noms and awards — more than all the seemingly hundreds of critics groups awards and top-ten lists combined — are by far the best indicators of where Oscar is heading in any given year.
“Quite frankly they are the only things that matter (of the pre-Oscar indicators),” one prominent awards consultant told us yesterday.
“The reason obviously is that all these unions are made up in part of Oscar voters as well. Of course they all have an even larger contingent of TV people on their membership rolls but that hasn’t kept the strong correlation between a guild nom and an Oscar nom from occurring year after year. 2005’s eventual Oscar champ, Crash, was barely on the map just 12 months ago when the Producers Guild gave it a surprise Best Picture nomination and all the others followed suit.
“Now with the PGA and SAG noms in, the race further tightens but what these nominations have told us is basically what we already know. Four Best Picture slots, most prognosticators seem to believe, will go to Dreamgirls, The Departed, The Queen and Little Miss Sunshine — and indeed they appear to be headed just that way.
“The coveted fifth slot, previously conceded to be a contest between the darker dramas like Babel, Little Children, Letters From Iwo Jima and (because of critical support) United 93, is now edging closer to a lock for — drumroll, please — Babel following up its combined 14 Golden Globe and Broadcast Critics noms with a PGA Best Picture nod and its tie for a leading 3 SAG nominations including Outstanding Cast.
“The latter [is] the guild’s version of a Best Picture prize (won last year by Crash). Perhaps most surprisingly, Clint Eastwood’s dual achievement of Letters From Iwo Jimaand its counterpart Flags Of Our Fathers, was completely overlooked by both groups. Did they cancel themselves out?
“But before we all jump on the Babelwagon, we should note that in fairness to Universal’s struggling-to-be-seen, and star challenged United 93, it was expected to get no action from the actors and little from the PGA. United 93‘s major test comes with the WGA and, especially, DGA nomination announcements next week.
“Right now [the Paul Greengrass film] has won several critics group Best Picture awards and has hit more top-ten lists than any film other than The Departed and The Queen, which are both heavily favored to repeat their success with the Academy.”
So Paramount chief Brad Grey, who yesterday lost “an aggressive bid” to be recognized by the Producers Guild of America as one of the producers of Martin Scorsese‘s The Departed (per Claudia Eller’s 1.4.07 L.A. Times story), is this year’s Bob Yari?
“People who have talked to the studio chief said he was angered by the guild’s decision but had not made up his mind whether to appeal to the academy,” Eller reports. “Scorsese reportedly advised Grey on Wednesday to appeal to the guild’s executive committee should The Departed be nominated.”
She adds, however, that “any such move to appeal carries big risks for Grey” because it “could it come off as an unseemly grab for personal glory to Hollywood insiders. To his bosses at Viacom Inc., it would [also] put him in direct competition with his own studio. Paramount’s Dreamgirls and Babel, which also received guild nominations, are strong contenders for the best picture Oscar.”
“Another movie about a well-meaning, white- bread teacher thrust among the savages? No, not by a long shot. Although Freedom Writers (Paramount, 1.5) is the latest in a long line of saint- saves-students stories, it takes the bold approach of being earnest, honest and unafraid to be called naive. As a result, it’s extremely affecting.
“Presided over by a sensitive, open performance by Hilary Swank and blessed by a gifted group of young actors, the drama could win hearts and dollars, especially if Paramount pushes pic’s humanity over its presumed nobility.” –from John Anderson‘s 1.3.07 Variety review.
I was running up the concrete steps from the L train platform underneath Union Square yesterday afternoon around 4:45 pm, and upon arriving at the main throughfare, right next to the R line stairways, I came upon a group of makeshift percussionists performing this.
Late yesterday afternoon I dropped by the office of Picturehouse chief Bob Berney (on the fifth floor of a Fifth Avenue landmark building in the high 40s, just south of Saks) to talk about the exceptionally strong Pan’s Labyrinth numbers, and here’s what he had to say.
The Spanish-language dark-fantasy flick opened last Friday on 17 screens and had earned $779,427 as of yesterday, with a million-dollar tally expected by sometime today. The 8:20 pm show I went to last night was all but sold out — several Upper West Side fanboy types but also a lot of couples and a few single women.
Berney figures that at this stage Pan’s Labyrinth is mainly benefitting from the Guillermo del Toro fanboys (i.e., the guys who are loyal because of the Blade flick he directed and particularly Hellboy) plus the attraction spurred by the great reviews (Metacritic is calling it the best-reviewed film of the year), the Best Foreign Language Film awards from the critics and the expected Oscar nom(s).
Berney happened to be talking to del Toro when I entered his office; Bob handed me the cell phone and Guillermo and I spoke about maybe getting together some- time next week in Los Angeles, perhaps with producer-screenwriter Kit Carson making it a third.
Here (again) is the recording of our nine-minute chat — Berney’s and mine, I mean. About halfway through my phone rang loudly — I forgot to turn it off. Then Picturehouse exec vp marketing Marian Koltai-Levine came in to discuss some promotional fan-greeting activities she wants del Toro to try and get to sometime later this week or next.
Moving Picture blog’s Joe Leydon is calling attention to the open-to-the-public nominating ballots for the 27th annual Golden Raspberry Awards, which is about honoring the absolute stanky worst of the year.
The “hopefuls” for Worst Screen Couple include “Nicolas Cage & His Bear Suit” in The Wicker Man, “Tim Allen & Any Juvenile Super Hero” in Zoom, and “Sharon Stone‘s Lop-Sided Breasts” in Basically, It Stinks, Too.
Final nominees will be announced on 1.22; winners will be announced on 2.24, or 24 hours before the Oscar telecast.
The Online Film Critics Society has put forward Babel, Children of Men, The Departed, Pan’s Labyrinth and United 93 as its top five Best Pictures of the Year, with a winner to be announced on Monday, 1.8.06. Four days hence — why don’t they just announce the winners now? What do they think they’re doing, generating suspense? This is not an Alfred Hitchcock film.
Two good things: they nominated The Departed‘s Mark Wahlberg ias Best Supporting Actor, and they nominated Emmanuel Lubezki for his cinematography of Children of Men.
The Best Foreign Film nominees omitted The Lives of Others….what’s that about? The five are The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, L’Enfant, Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo’s film is obviously doing double-duty), Volver and Water.
The Best Director noms went to Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men), Paul Greengrass (United 93), Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Babel), Martin Scorsese (The Departed) and Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth).
I can’t list any more….my heart’s not in it. Here’s the Variety story link.
I’m supposed to be feeling excitement or at least a moderate sense of urgency about the Screen Actors Guild nomina- tions, partly (I’m thinking) because they announced them at 6:05 ayem Pacific, which was no skin off my ass sitting here in Brooklyn. The three biggest statistical beneficiaries (because they each got three nominations) are Babel, Dreamgirls and Little Miss Sunshine — make of this what you will. Here’s what I make of it: go, Babel! Yay, Sunshine! And despite divided loyalties, an “attagirl” to Best Supporting Actress nominee Jennifer Hudson.
The Departed getting only an ensemble acting nomination plus a Best Supporting Actor nom for Leonardo DiCaprio means…aahh, probably nothing. (It just would have been cooler if The Departed‘s Mouthy-Boston-Attitude King Mark Wahlberg had snuck in alongside DiCaprio.)
The big news as far as the Best Actress category is concerned is…no big news. Penelope Cruz for Volver, Judi Dench for Notes on a Scandal, Helen Mirren for The Queen, Meryl Streep for The Devil Wears Prada and Kate Winslet for Little Children. Right down the middle, totally expected, etc. Likeliest Winner at This Stage: Judi….kidding! Obviously Ms. Mirren.
No surprises in the Best Supporting Actress category either: Adriana Barraza for Babel, Cate Blanchett for Notes on a Scandal, Abigail Breslin for Little Miss Sunshine, Jennifer Hudson for Dreamgirls and Rinko Kikuchi for Babel. Breslin’s inclusion plus Alan Arkin‘s nomination for Best Suppporting Actor plus Little Miss Sunshine‘s acting ensemble nomination obviously means there’s lots of love for the little movie that might. Likeliest Winner at This Stage: Jennifer Hudson, no?
The Best Actor rundown played strictly according to mainstream opinion as reflected by the critics groups and the Oscar blogging community…zip in the way of shockers. Leonardo Dicaprio for Blood Diamond, Ryan Gosling for Half Nelson, Peter O’Toole for Venus, Will Smith for The Pursuit of Happyness and Forest Whitaker for The Last King of Scotland. Those critics awards for Gosling and all those Half Nelson FYC ads helped, I’m sure — congrats to ThinkFilm. Likeliest Winner at This Stage: Whitaker, right?
The Best Supporting Actor category is a little weird. Alan Arkin for Little Miss Sunshine. Leonardo DiCaprio for The Departed. Jackie Earle Haley for Little Children. Djimon Honsou for Blood Diamond. (What? “Son! I want my son!”) and Eddie Murphy for Dreamgirls. What could the Murphy nom be about? Because he sings well, drops his pants and then dies? I ‘ve been told all along that the SAG rank-and-file regards Murphy as an asshole. Maybe it’s the old animal-kingdom instinct of showing obeisance before power, because Murphy was King Shit in the ’80s? I know this: Murphy isn’t fit to shine Mark Wahlberg’s shoes. Likeliest Winner at This Stage: DiCaprio.
The Ensemble Acting nominations went to Babel, Bobby (hooray for Harvey), The Departed, Dreamgirls and Little Miss Sunshine. Likeliest Winners at This Stage: either the Babel or the Little Miss Sunshine crew. Am I wrong?
The SAG awards will be handed out on Sunday, 1.28.