Oscar

mcconaugheytampa

As I’m sure you’re aware, Matthew McConaughey is currently experiencing His Moment. Seemingly resurrected from the depths of bankable but critically ill-regarded romantic comedies, McConaughey is now headlining a gritty new HBO series, briefly stealing a scene in a Scorsese movie from fellow Best Actor nominee Leo DiCaprio, taking the lead in a characteristically ambitious and mysterious new Christopher Nolan movie, and, of course, cementing it all with an Oscar nomination and plenty of momentum to take home the statue in March. The fascinating turn of events that have occurred in the former Sahara star’s career since 2011, aka “The McConaissance,” is catnip for people who enjoy treating Hollywood seriously: it represents a tacit recognition by the star of the inherent limitations of Hollywood, and an attempt to transcend them; it evinces a star aware of his own public persona, who is seeking out roles that play with, and even subvert, that persona; and this particular star’s devotion to truly off-beat roles has made for something far more interesting than conventional career “comebacks” a la your Travolta, Rourke, or Downey, Jr. An Oscar for McConaughey would likely represent the apotheosis of the actor’s decisive shift in creative effort, a reward for his calculated and compelling career “redemption.” But McConaughey’s recognition for Dallas Buyers Club shows how even the most surprising of career moves are recognized for their most conventional and least surprising moments.

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Barton Fink

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Brave

In just a few months, a team of holiday warriors, an orange environmentalist and 19 other animated hopefuls will battle for an Oscar. Of course by then the number will have been whittled down to a handful (probably 5), but the astounding fact remains that this year features more award-submitted animated features than ever before. There are widely-released, popular entries like Hotel Transylvania, ParaNorman and Pirates! (THR has an excellent run-down of the entire list), but the large and diverse queue once again raises the problem inherent in having an animated category: animation is not a genre. While most of the films are aimed squarely at the young and young at heart, there’s also the wildcard Liar’s Autobiography which uses 17 different animation styles to tell the story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman. That dark horse is awkwardly shoehorned into a category that might also be called “Best Family Film” at this point.There’s also Hey Krishna, an entry from India that tells about the childhood years of the dairy-loving God, and “Best Talking Animal Animated Film” could be its own subcategory this year (although it’s unclear what species The Lorax is). Since the category has cemented its own importance (and arguably achieved the goal of placing a spotlight on animated work), we have to ask every year whether it’s time for this style of movie to stand on its own in the “regular” categories. With Toy Story 3 being nominated for Best Picture at the 2011 broadcast and an undeniably […]

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This new era of re-releases has definitely got its perks. Whether it’s seeing a modern classic like Jurassic Park return home to theaters or a movie from out of the mist of the past, it’s the kind of cash-grab that should be celebrated. What other time in your life would you be able to see the 1927 silent flick about pilots in WWI bravely battling (and kissing each other) as it was meant to be seen? Cinemark Theaters will play Wings – the first Best Picture Oscar winner – in select theaters on Wednesdays May 2nd and 16th. Those participating theaters can be found on the Cinemark website. The print has been completely restored. What’s crazy is that they’re showing in their Extreme Digital auditoriums, which means they much have restored the hell out of it.

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Boiling Point

The 84th Academy Awards have come and gone: let the bitching begin! As someone who is more of a genre fan than anything, I’ve never really cared too much about the Oscars, but that sure as hell doesn’t prevent me from complaining about them. Granted, over the years, some great films have won. I’m a big fan of Unforgiven and I dug Shakespeare In Love. I just think far too many good films are ignored in favor of “Oscar movies.” I can’t say that I was particularly impressed with any of the films nominated this year, but there were a few categories were I feel like the little golden man statue when to the wrong film. Luckily, the internet exists and I can complain about it!

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Culture Warrior

The Oscar montage reel is a genre on its own. It’s transparently demonstrative of the overall function of the Academy Awards. These montage reels summarize and make explicit what the annual ceremony attempts to accomplish writ large: to create and solidify a canon of important American films, along with a delimited understanding of their importance. Yes, the Oscars have occasionally given a voice to the indie underdog and rush through their obligatory movies-with-subtitles category, but besides the occasional screenplay nomination for a truly innovative film and the rare foreign language film that broaches through the marginal categories, the Oscars are by and large a celebration of American cinema, specifically Hollywood cinema. During the 2006 ceremony, a moment occurred that has been seared into my memory. I haven’t been able to find a clip of it online since it aired six years ago, so I hope this isn’t wishful or inaccurate. The 2006 ceremony consisted of a spate of overtly political films, as Crash, Brokeback Mountain, Munich, Good Night and Good Luck competed for top honors, and Syriana was in the running for other awards. In likely hopes of gaining cultural capital from celebrating mainstream cinema’s rarely explored but ever-present political function, the Academy aired a self-congratulatory reel of past Oscar-nominated films that have addressed other topical social problems, from In the Heat of the Night to Philadelphia. When the lights came back and the audience applauded with anticipated decorum, host Jon Stewart then graced the stage and stated, in a […]

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Whereas Pixar has dominated the category in recent years, the sense that Cars 2 isn’t a shoe-in for awards season is offering a spotlight to a wider field. In fact, it’s also a wider field that will beget more nominees – if there are 16 eligible in the given year, 5 nominees will make the short list. If the numbers stay steady, this would mark the third time since the Best Animated Feature‘s inception in 2001 that there are more than 3 films up for the big prize. According to The Wrap, the list of films that have been submitted for consideration include: The Adventures of Tintin, Alois Nebel, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, Arthur Christmas, Cars 2, A Cat in Paris, Chico & Rita, Gnomeo & Juliet, Happy Feet Two, Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil, Kung Fu Panda 2, Mars Needs Moms, Puss in Boots, Rango, Rio, The Smurfs, Winnie the Pooh, and Wrinkles. Just because they’ve been submitted doesn’t meant they’re all eligible. Several haven’t done qualifying runs in Los Angeles theaters, and many are questionable because of their use of motion capture or live-action blend. In the mo-cap cases of Tintin, Happy Feet Two and Mars Needs Moms, filmmakers have been asked to discuss their methods and intentions with the process in order to prove eligible. The Smurfs and Alvin and the Chipmunks are also animation/live-action hybrids, so their fate is unclear at this time. Without them, and without, say, the Czech Republic’s rotoscoped Alois Nebel, the […]

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Last Sunday, Inside Job was crowned the best documentary of the year by the Academy. But that’s not the reason to want to own it. The reason to want this insightful bit of filmmaking is so that you can (no matter your political beliefs) get into huge arguments with your family over it. Saint Patrick’s Day is coming up, and what better conversation piece is there to lob over the traditional feast of boiled potatoes, cabbage and shame? There is none. Plus, we’re giving away one copy for free and selling one for $2.02 trillion. How do you get your hands on the free copy? Glad you asked:

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Movies We Love

Throw Momma from the Train (1987) The night was humid. Synopsis Larry is a neurotic writer who hates his ex-wife for stealing his book and the fortune and fame that subsequently followed. Owen is a simpleton momma’s boy who takes Larry’s creative writing class and who hates his momma for being old and curmudgeonly. For separate reasons, neither one of them is able to write a good story: Larry, bitter and distracted, has writer’s block and Owen, simple and naive, just has no concept on how to write well. To help out his student’s pathetic attempt at a murder mystery, Larry offers a simple piece of advice – eliminate the motive – that Owen unfortunately interprets to mean if he murders Larry’s ex-wife, Larry will return the favor by murdering his momma.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr spent the night in jail after trying to sneak in and see Justin Bieber: Never Say Never 3D. The cops didn’t believe him that he was trying to watch the latest remake of Thunderball. Sadly, they just saw a pervy looking fat guy squealing and crying with a group of thirteen year old girls. Fortunately, he had a chance to catch the other movies of the week, including Gnomeo and Juliet, Just Go With It and The Eagle. He also gives a little bit of love (what’s left of it anyway after spending the night in lock-up) to the Oscar-Nominated Shorts.

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Emotions are running high in Hollywood this morning after the announcement of this year’s Academy Award nominations. Or at least that’s the sort of thing that people say when they talk about the Academy Awards. I don’t know if anybody really takes this kind of stuff seriously or not. Variety has been hard at work getting reactions from as many of the nominees as possible, which may just give us some insight. Joel and Ethan Coen may have given the most sincere response by saying, “Ten seems like an awful lot. We don’t want to take anyone else’s,” but they weren’t the only ones who avoided the word “journey” like 90% of the pack.

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In February 2010, Alyson Krier held her first Oscar statue and subsequently started a foolish cinematic journey to watch every movie that had ever been nominated for Best Picture by the Academy. Her plan was to do it in a year. That’s 470 films (about 9 a week) for 52 weeks. The Best Picture Project was born. Yes, it’s perfectly fine to be formulating your own journey now. It’s a great idea. Krier will join us on Reject Radio this Sunday to discuss the usual news bits, review Season of the Witch, do a little property damage, and then settle in to talk about the best movies of all time (and the average movies that sneaked into the pack). The show airs live Sunday, January 9th at 10pm EST (4am Oslo Time), but you can download it for your listening convenience on the following Monday. It promises to be a perfect primer to Oscar season, and since she’s been knee-deep in those movies, she probably can’t even get near re-capping 2010. You’re welcome.

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I can’t imagine that writer/producers Lesley Paterson and Ian Stokell have their sights set on an Oscar repeat, but they’ve picked up a young star that’s been locked in Potterdom despite a few attempts and opportunities to play around outside the wizarding world. According to Variety, Daniel Radcliffe has signed on to the project, taking on the role of Paul which was first originated on screen by the legendary Lew Ayres.

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Six hundred words on the Academy Awards? Sure why not.

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Fat Guys at the Movies

Before Kevin and Neil weigh in on the movies opening this week, they take a heartfelt look at the situation brewing between Kevin Smith and Southwest Airlines. And they have so much to say, you’ll need two seats to hear it all.

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AlecBaldwinOscar

Why at least one film journalist seems to think so.

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JasonReitmanUpintheAirInterview

We sat down with Up in the Air director Jason Reitman for an unorthodox interview which involved not talking about the film at all. Yes, I should probably be fired.

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InvictusHeader

Setting aside the fact that Morgan Freeman playing Nelson Mandella is a no-brainer for an Oscar grab, the poster is one of the best I’ve seen all year.

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AnthonyMackieHurtLockerInterview

After being blown away by The Hurt Locker, I was lucky enough to talk to Mackie about his role, the experience of the Middle East during Ramadan, his work with Matt Damon, his friendship with Wynton Marsalis, and his confidence in Kathryn Bigelow’s Oscar chances.

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oscar09preview-header

Today’s diversion: The 2009 movie preview reel that played during the credits of last night’s Academy Awards broadcast. It features shots from Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes, Pixar’s Up, McG’s Terminator Salvation and Michael Mann’s Public Enemies.

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