Monday, January 27, 2014

Rudderless Rising/Cuaron Wins the DGA/Lupita Interview/TFF #41 and J.C. Chandor?/Making it in the Big Leagues

Welcome to Monday!


Standing ovation for William H. Macy's "Rudderless" at The Sundance Film Festival this past weekend.

Sundance's closing premiere, "Rudderless" premiered for Sundance audiences Friday night to a standing ovation.  The film was screened a second time on Sunday morning...also a standing ovation.  I have read half a dozen reviews of the film and five of the six range from good to ecstatic.  Variety is the one review that wasn't impressed with the film written by Casey Twenter and Jeff Robison and shot in Oklahoma last spring.

I am including links to reviews from The Hollywood Reporter, /Film, HitFix, The Playlist and WeLiveFilm:

There are plenty of blurb-worthy quotes to chose from and that you can expect to see in future marketing for the film.  As to The Variety review, I'm an unrepentant fan of the you can google it yourself if you want to read it.

If you have seen other reviews of the film, please drop me a note via the comments and I'll post those as well.

In other Sundance news, the biggest prize winner in the competition section was for "Whiplash" which opened the festival.  The film stars Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons and was written and directed by Damien Chazelle and focuses on the world of this case drumming.  "Whiplash" won the top dramatic prize and the audience award both on Saturday night.


Also on Saturday night...late Saturday night, the Directors Guild of America named Alfonso Cuaron the best feature film director of the year for "Gravity".  That solidifies the thinking that he will likely win the Oscar for the same feat and also boosts the chance that "Gravity" wins Best Picture on Oscar night.

It will be interesting to see how much the DGA win moves the tone of the Oscar pundits.  Over the last week the very strong popular narrative has been that "12 Years a Slave" would win Best Picture and tat Cuaron would win Best Director.  After the PGA tie between the two films last week, there was also a lot of discussion about what effect the DGA winner might have.

Though a split between Best Picture and Best Director is rare, it does happen.  It happened last year when Ang Lee won directing for "Life of Pi" and "Argo" won Best Picture.

Lost i the shuffle, at least a little bit over the past week has been "American Hustle" which looked like a house on fire after the SAG and Golden Globes and also after nomination morning when it co-lead the field (along with "Gravity") with 10 nominations.  I personally don't think you can completely write off its chances of winning Best Picture as it seems to have a lot of love from actors and that's the largest branch, by far, of the Academy's membership.

I also have to say that a real left field surprise could happen too.  I can see these three top films splitting #1 votes enough to allow a "compromise" candidate to emerge victorious.  Some of the Oscar elite think that could be "Philomena".  My "surprise" winner is "Dallas Buyers Club".  It's likely winning at least statues on Oscar night for Best Actor and Supporting Actor (McConaughey and Leto).  In addition to Best Picture, it has two other important nominations: Best Original Screenplay and Best Film Editing.  It also has a nomination for Makeup/Hair.  It also appears to be adored by the actors.  I'm telling you that if had scored a Best Direction nomination, it would be a serious part of the conversation.

The other "surprise" possibility: Alexander Payne's "Nebraska".  It even has a Best Directing nomination.  It's weakness is that it will likely not win a single Oscar that it's nominated for.  In addition to Best Picture and Direction; it's nominated for Actor (Bruce Dern), Supporting Actress (June Squibb), Original Screenplay and Cinematography.  I think that had it picked up an Editing nomination, it might be a bigger topic of conversation as well.

Bottom line...I'm still of a mind that "12 Years" wins Best Picture but I have to accede to the dominant thinking at this point.   Up until Saturday night, I had still thought that Steve McQueen would win Best Director come Oscar night (and that could still happen...DGA and Oscar don't always agree on Direction) but too much points to Cuaron winning Best Director.  It seems the split is likely or even that "Gravity" may have a near "Titanic"/"Lord of the Rings; Return of the King" type night.


Oscar nominated for "12 Years a Slave" (and perhaps a slight front runner), Lupita N'yong'o, spoke recently to The Carpetbagger/The New York Times.  Here's that interview:


A24 films have acquired the rights to writer/director J.C. Chandor's third feature: "A Most Violent Year". The film stars Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain.  I think it has a real chance to play at Telluirde #41 this Labor Day.  Reasons:  I spoke briefly last to both Chandor and Isaac at last year's festival, and both men seem to be having a great time.  Additionally, A24 has emerged as an occasional presence at Telluride with films playing as a part of the program in 2012 with "Ginger and Rosa' and last year with "Under the Skin".

Biggest reason that it might not play TFF hasn't started shooting yet.


This is completely unnecessary, but...

As you might expect, The Telluride Film Festival has official photographers and videographers.  I have to admit that I've always hoped that somehow, Kris and I might find ourselves in one of their shots someday.   You know, sort of as tangible proof to the rest of the world (and maybe even to ourselves) that we were actually there. The Fest puts out an annual Yearbook, there are certainly a ton of pictures from the fest as it's going on but it's never happened.  Until this year.

I was perusing the Fest's website recently and trolling through the official photos when I found this one from the Patron's Brunch:

Ostensibly this is a photo of past Guest directors Michal Ondaatje (author of "The English Patient") and Salman Rushdie author of "The Satanic Verses").  If you look at the background, to the left of Rushdie, you can see me standing (dressed in blue)  and looking out over the crowd.  Kris is blocked by the very nice woman in the salmon shirt (not Salman-ha!).  She's the artist who makes the medallions each years for the tributees.

Yes, that's really me behind Ondaatje and Rushdie...and I'm looking at a crowd that included Robert Redford, Francis Ford Coppola, Bruce Dern, The Coen Brothers, T.Bone Burnett and others. 

Objective photographic evidence my friends...I guess it really did happen.

More on Thursday...

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