9 items from 2015
The sudden loss of one parent and the looming death of another set the stage for “James White,” a stripped-bare family drama that marks the feature directing debut of indie producer Josh Mond. Familiar in its general trajectory, but unusually raw and ragged in its emotional architecture, Mond’s fraught portrait of a mother and son in crisis sports a pair of knockout performances by Cynthia Nixon and “Girls” alumnus Christopher Abbott, and a vivid feel for wayward New York youths cocooned by upper-middle-class privilege, but little in the way of redemptive creature comforts. Audiences seeking spiritual uplift are strongly advised to look elsewhere.
Mond, who previously directed several short films, is best known as the longtime producing partner of directors Antonio Campos (“Afterschool”) and Sean Durkin (“Martha Marcy May Marlene”), whose New York-based Borderline Films collective has carved out a certain niche of dark, provocative psychological dramas strongly influenced »
- Scott Foundas
By Anjelica Oswald
With the addition of Marion Cotillard’s lead actress nomination for the Belgian film Two Days, One Night, 32 actors and actresses have been nominated for their performances in foreign-language films. Cotillard was nominated for her role as a young mother and wife struggling to salvage her job in Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardennes’ film, which was chosen as Belgium’s submission to the foreign-language category but failed to secure a spot on the Oscar shortist.
Though her performance did land a Critics’ Choice Award nomination, the Oscar nomination did come as a surprise for many pundits.
Cotillard was previously nominated for the French foreign-language film La Vie En Rose (2007) and won. She is one of six actors or actresses to win for a non-English role and is also the most recent winner.
The first acting nomination for a foreign-language performance went to Sophia Loren in 1962 for »
- Anjelica Oswald
Marrakech’s jury prexy, Isabelle Huppert, has just completed a four-month stint in the United States, where she co-starred with Cate Blanchett in the Sydney Theater Company production of Jean Genet’s “The Maids,” at the Lincoln Center Festival, followed by her film roles in Joachim Trier’s “Louder than Bombs,” alongside Jesse Eisenberg and Gabriel Byrne, and in Guillaume Nicloux’s “The Valley of Love,” with Gerard Depardieu.
In an interview at the Marrakech film festival she explained that her recent intensive U.S. experience is a pure coincidence of back-to-back projects.
Huppert explained that she’s very happy with the roles that she has been offered recently and is not overly concerned about being typecast, for example »
- Martin Dale
The cinema of Michael Haneke may be described as cold, distant, even isolating, as the Austrian auteur prizes the examination of estrangement and the discontent of families or individuals trapped within the confines of what we refer to as modern society. He also cares little for coddling audiences, often directly criticizing what we’ve come to expect and desire from cinematic narratives. Starting out as a director in television in the early 1970′s, it would be his 1989 feature debut The Seventh Continent that first garnered attention, followed by 1992′s Benny’s Video (starring Angela Winkler), which played at Director’s Fortnight, as did his 1994 title 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance. In 1997, Haneke would direct a television adaptation of Kafka’s The Castle, starring Susanne Lothar and Ulrich Muhe, the acting couple that would headline one of his most galvanizing titles also that year with Funny Games, »
- Nicholas Bell
Primarily known for his famed 1998 title Run, Lola Run, which shot actress Franka Potente into international stardom, German director Tom Tykwer’s been involved with a variety of international co-productions since, each seeming to find a minor cult following, such as Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006), The International (2009), and most infamously, Cloud Atlas (2012), which he co-directed with Andy and Lana Wachowski (however, we were most impressed with his less discussed return to Germany with 2010’s well performed Three). Now, Tykwer’s adapated David Eggar’s (screenwriter for Away We Go and Where the Wild Things Are) novel, A Hologram for a King, a political allegory set in an up-and-coming Saudi Arabian city. The comedy-drama tells the story of an American businessman who makes a last-ditch attempt to stave off bankruptcy and finally accomplish something big. He wants to »
- Nicholas Bell
By Scott Feinberg
The Hollywood Reporter
A version of this story first appeared in a special awards issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
One can quickly recall the names of acting Oscar nominees (Joaquin Phoenix for The Master, Rooney Mara for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Emmanuelle Riva for Amour) and winners (Christian Bale for The Fighter, Mo’Nique forPrecious, Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight) who got where they got without doing any real campaigning — because they number so few.
People might like to think that Oscar voting is solely about merit, but that’s naive and incorrect. Academy members are people, not machines, which means that they can be influenced. And when the prize at stake is one that carries as much prestige and potential for increased opportunity and earning as the Oscar does, well, of course contenders for it are going to try to influence the outcome by lobbying voters, »
- Anjelica Oswald
The National Society of Film Critics awarded “Goodbye to Language” its top honor on Saturday, selecting the film as 2014’s Best Picture.
Iconic French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard directed the 3-D film, which was little seen in the United States — due, in part, to the scarcity of arthouse theaters equipped to show 3-D — and decidedly more experimental than award-season favorites “Birdman” and “Boyhood.” But “Boyhood,” Richard Linklater‘s coming-of-age drama, was a close runner-up in the Nsfc Best Picture competition, losing out by only a single point in the balloting. Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s “Birdman” placed a more distant third.
- Travis Reilly and Steve Pond
Mention the word “overcrowded” and awards pundits immediately talk about the best-actor race. But the director ranks are just as jam-packed — and offer a more interesting insight into the state of the film biz.
There are at least a dozen individuals whose 2014 efforts are worth remembering; however, there are only five slots, meaning some deserving folks will be disappointed on Jan. 13, when the Directors Guild of America announces nominees, and on Jan. 15, when the Academy unveils the Oscar contenders.
This year’s director crop includes some interesting trends:
Two women: Ava DuVernay for “Selma” and Angelina Jolie for “Unbroken” mean history could be made this year. Admittedly, two is not a lot, considering there are 323 eligible films. But it is a sign that things are changing.
- Tim Gray
Can you believe that Oscar nominations are less than two weeks away? Yes, on January 15th the first phase of the awards season ends with the Academy Award nominations. Wow. Time flies once the precursors start. As such, this is the second to last set of Oscar predictions that I’ll be sharing with you before the announcement. So, I better figure this all out in a hurry! The Academy has sent out ballots, members are getting ready to finalize their choices, and precursors are going on all around them. It’s truly the busy season, with all the contenders in release and no excuses left to be made. Time to put up or shut up for the Oscar hopefuls, while voters hopefully do their due diligence with all of the potential players. Earlier today the Ace Eddie announcement was made, which could give some insight into both the Best »
- Joey Magidson
9 items from 2015
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