Okay, now we can talk about the Oscars…

…Because the somewhat mysterious organization that mysteriously somehow sets the stage and begins the momentum for the awards season, the National Board of Review, has given its awards. Perhaps not so unexpectedly, the big winner appears to be “The Social Network” which earned awards for Best Picture, Best Director (David Fincher), Best Adapted Screenplay (Aaron Sorkin), and, most interestingly, earned a Best Actor nod for Jessie Eisenberg, making him suddenly something of a frontrunner for Best Actor, which is not to say that the award makes him some kind of a sure thing.

Jessie Eisenberg and I'm not sure who in

At 27, if Eisenberg does wins for his thoroughly on-target performance, he’ll be the youngest winner in that category yet, beating 29 year-old Adrien Brody for “The Pianist.” Still, he’ll likely be facing stiff competition from 50 year-old Colin Firth (“The King’s Speech”), 70 something Robert Duvall (“Get Low“), 30 something co-host James Franco (“127 Hours“) and, perhaps, 60 something Jeff Bridges (“True Grit,” a bit less stiff since he won last year and Oscar likes to spread the love around).

The Best Actress prize was equally interesting. Lesley Manville won for her extraordinary work in the upcoming “Another Year.” I’ve seen (and will be reviewing here), the latest from Mike Leigh. There’s no doubt that Manville did an absolutely remarkable job but her supremely needy, depressed, alcoholic character is often irritating to the point of distraction, on purpose. It hits closer to home because I think most of have known or have actually been (hopefully temporarily) people very much like her. Still, sometimes people tend to blame actors for playing characters they dislike or are made uncomfortable by. Regardless, she’s been noticed. At the press day, I half-jokingly suggested to Ms. Manville that she should work on her American accent.

Jacki Weaver's back in Another heretofore far from world-famed actress who might consider studying up on U.S. dialects is Australian veteran performer Jacki Weaver. She was nominated for her magnetically squirm-inducing crime grandma in the effective thriller, “Animal Kingdom.” It’s the first time she’s been in a film to make a splash stateside since Peter Weir’s “Picnic at Hanging Rock” back before Jesse Eisenberg and James Franco were yet born.

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Midweek movie news — the fatigue edition!

I’m overtired and miles from home in a West L.A. Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and I probably should have just thrown up another embed and gone for home and some sleep, but the movie news is just not waiting tonight…

* Johnny Depp is apparently wanting to star in a new version of Dashiell Hammett’s “The Thin Man,” or perhaps the series of really fun movies starring the great William Powell and Myrna Loy that the original 1934 movie adaptation spawned. I’ve no particular clue why he’d want Rob Marshall — not a bad director at all, but also not a great one and prone to ADHD editing — when he could have his pick. Of course, selecting a Nora Charles to go with his Nick will be half the fun — the possibilities are pretty endless though for some reason the only person I can think of right now is Cate Blanchett. She’s great, but don’t ask me why she comes to mind. It’s probably the fatigue. One big problem: Nick and Nora are a couple of merry alcoholics — or at least huge problem drinkers. It’ll be interesting to see how they handle that aspect of the property in today’s more abstemious world, although I suppose Nick Charles isn’t that far removed from Jack Sparrow or Keith Richard.

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* They worked mostly in other media, but they all had their moments in the movie sun: RIP Barbara Billingsley, Tom Bosley and, er, Bob Guccione.

* Cinephile’s cinephile uber-blogger David Hudson, who is based in Germany, gives us a fascinating post-mortem look at a writer and filmmaker I’ve never heard of until now, Thomas Harlan. The key fact here: Harlan’s father directed “Jew Suss,” the most notorious narrative antisemitic film produced by Joseph Goebbel’s Nazi UFA, and had been actively dealing with the legacy.

* Sometimes an actor blends so seamlessly into a part you wonder whether she is really even acting at all.

* In the battle of Hobbit-man Peter Jackson versus the NZ/Oz/U.S. unions, it sure looks like the unions blinked. This is probably the first such battle where I’m glad of it.

* “Giallo” is the name for the subgenre of bloody horror flicks from Italy that predated American slasher films with more mature characters and a heck of a lot more style from directors like Mario Bava and Dario Argento. Apparently wanting to get in on the whole self-awareness thing, Argento, who unbelievably is only just turning 70, made a movie actually called “Giallo” starring Adrien Brody. Brody says the producers didn’t pay him and is suing them and blocking the release of the movie for the time being. That’s always a mistake — not paying your star, I mean.

* Ben Affleck is considering switching from character-driven crime fiction adaptations to a character-driven fantasy-drama adaptation, “Replay.” I gather the book by the late Ken Groomwood is an old favorite of my highly esteemed colleague Will Harris and won a World Fantasy Award in 1987. Why have I never heard of it before?

* “Heckraiser“?

* Today’s tie for the “is this really news” prize: Robert Downey, Jr. “eyes” playing a really intense guy who gets involved in paranoid wackiness. Also, crazed lunatic Mel Gibson follows the path of reformed ear-biter Mike Tyson and will appear in “The Hangover 2” according to the totally awesome-in-my-book Jodie Foster, who seems to be doing whatever she can to try and salvage her widely discussed movie, “The Beaver” by trying to help repair his insanely in-shambles image. Talk about strange bedfellows.

  

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We interrupt this movie news blog…

For a day of trailers and suchlike frivolity. My excuse reason is that, other than the unveiling of the movie costume for Captain America at AICN, or Anne Thompson noting that James Cameron has put in his two-cents on undersea robotic technology re: the Gulf of Mexico oil spill (how could the feds keep him away?), it’s looking like a pretty damn slow movie news day. Also, I’m got some other stuff to catch up on that I think some of you might like. Watch this space.

So, courtesy of Latino Review, here’s one of this week’s upcoming new releases. Produced by the recently self-disenhobbited Guillermo del Toro, directed by Canada’s Vincenzo Natili (“Cube”), and starring a more grown-up looking and therefore more beautiful than ever Sarah Polley and Adrien Brody, this buzz on “Splice” has been good. It sure looks to be a clever little science-fiction and horror spin on the Frankenstein model.  This extreme-gore-phobe who nevertheless loves a good horror flick is happy to note that its MPAA R-rating, is for “disturbing elements including strong sexuality, nudity, sci-fi violence and language.”  Those are a few of my favorite things. I mean who can resist “language.” Anyhow, take a look.

  

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Playing catch-up

Predator with Arnold Schwarzennegger

A few more random items worth mentioning…

* Robert Rodriguez is producing a “Predator” reboot, entitled “Predators,” to be directed by Hungarian-American helmer Nimród Antal. As per today’s Variety, along for the ride are Adrien Brody and Topher Grace. I, personally, will wait for the movie to decide first whether I’ll bother to see it and second whether these two undoubtedly talented actors are well cast here. (Grace is kind of a personal favorite and this sounds like chance to be sort of a badass Norman Bates, which I can kind of see.) However, as usual geek film bloggers and some film geek bloggers can’t wait for the movie to have an opinion, and Spout’s Christopher Campbell collates the reaction. No word on Brody’s chances for eventually becoming a not-too competent and unlucky governor of California.

* Two very tentative but interesting items from Mike Fleming today. Gary Ross, who’s past specialty was such seriocomic Oscarish fare as “Dave,” “Pleasantville,” and “Seabiscuit” but who is doing the the latest rewrite on the next “Spiderman” film may also be directing as well as rewriting a proposed “Venom” movie, without Topher Grace, most likely. The many problems with “Spider-Man 3” to my mind had nothing at all to do with Grace, but who said life was fair?

* The second Fleming item has screenwriter-director Bill Condon (“Dreamgirls“) “in discussions” to return to biographical material somewhat along the lines of “Gods and Monsters” and “Kinsey,” with a proposed film about the late Richard Pryor to star Marlon Wayans. Adam Sandler‘s “Happy Madison” company is involved at this point, which makes sense given the reverence nearly all modern comedians have for Pryor.

* Speaking of people who’ve been known to throw a few M-F bombs in the name of a laugh, our own Will Harris has an interview with the praised and maligned indie film mainstay and part-time funny de facto stand-up comic, Kevin Smith at Bullz-Eye. Very definitely worth a read. And, though I probably don’t need to say it, the following video is NSFW and is just plain dangerous to your life and career if you are anywhere near Gwyneth Paltrow, Steven Spielberg, or George Lucas.

  

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