The Oscar ballots are due by 5 PM today!
It's almost upon us. That's right -- the Super Bowl for film fans, the Academy Awards, which will air this Sunday, February 27.
Before I get to my post on predictions and all that business, here's some important news from TheWrap: the votes. The votes are a real thing (we often forget this), as in, real ballots exist and have to be counted in Los Angeles by 5 PM today.
They're sent in, but I like the idea of Mickey Rooney and Ernest Borgnine racing through traffic, making sure their votes are at the Pricewaterhouse office on time. And to accomplish this, they do as Bette Davis instructed, "take Fountain."
Here's more from TheWrap:
"Almost six months after "The King's speech" screened in Telluride and Toronto and "The Social Network" was first unveiled to critics, more than seven months after "Toy Story 3" topped the $400 million mark at the boxoffice, and a year after "Winter's Bone" and "The Kids Are All Right" debuted at Sundance, it's time to stop campaigning and start counting.
"Oscar ballots are due at PricewaterhouseCoopers' downtown Los Angeles offices by five p.m. on Tuesday. And that that point, a feverish, competitive awards season turns into a waiting game for everybody except a half-dozen PwC staffers.
"The accounting firm and the Academy don't release figures about how many last-minute ballots they receive – but Rick Rosas, one of the partners who oversee the process, has said that the number is substantial. (A public relations firm once put an observer in the lobby for the final day of voting, and counted about 500 ballots hand-delivered, expressed or FedExed that day.)"
The Liam Neeson thriller is number 1
I sort of doubt that. I think Disney shouldn't have named their film "I Am Number Four" and ... according to one certain movie, it's good to be the King. Hmm ... maybe President's Day did have something to do with it.
Here's more from TheWrap:
"Liam Neeson's thriller 'Unknown' won the four-day Presidents Day weekend box office, grossing $25.6 million, according to studio estimates.
"Overall, however, the domestic market was way off from last year's $240 million record gross on The the same weekend, with two other notable new releases underperforming.
"Disney's 'I Am Number Four,' a youth-targeted sci-fi drama that's the first film released under the studio's distribution agreement with DreamWorks, badly missed tracking in the $30 million range, grossing just $22.6 million over the four-day weekend.
"Fox's 'Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son' -- part three of the Martin Lawrence comedy franchise, which featured up-and-comer Brandon T. Jackson dawning his own latex fat suit -- grossed just $19 million. It was projected to take in around $25 million.
"While the overall domestic market continues to struggle, Oscar-nominated specialty titles keep thriving.
"One more such film passed the $100 million threshold domestically this weekend: Weinstein's 'The King's Speech' grossed an estimated $7.9 million over the four-day holiday period, bringing its North American total to $104.6 million."
Mr. Tarr and Mr. Khan
Béla Tarr, director of my favorite film at Berlinale, "The Turin Horse" warmly greets Bollywood superstar and International Jury Member Aamir Khan, backstage, after winning his Jury Grand Prix Award.
The list of winners
Alas, Tarr did not take home the Golden Bear. That honor went to the Iranian film "A Separation" directed by Asghar Farhadi.
Here's a complete list of the winners from the International Jury:
Golden Bear for the Best Film
"Jodaeiye Nader Az Simin" ("Nader and Simin," "A Separation")
Jury Grand Prix-Silver Bear
"A Torinoi Lo" ("The Turin Horse")
by Bela Tarr
Silver Bear for Best Director
Ulrich KOhler for "Schlafkrankheit" ("Sleeping Sickness")
Silver Bear for Best Actress
The actress-ensemble in "Jodaeiye Nader Az Simin" ("Nader and Simin," "A Separation") by Asghar Farhadi
Silver Bear for Best Actor
The actor-ensemble in "Jodaeiye Nader Az Simin" ("Nader and Simin," "A Separation") by Asghar Farhadi
Silver Bear for an Outstanding Artistic Achievement
In The Category Camera
Wojciech Staron for the camera in "El Premio" ("The Prize") by Paula Markovitch
In The Category Production Design
Barbara Enriquez for the production design in "El Premio" ("The Prize") by Paula Markovitch
Silver Bear for the Best Script
Joshua Marston and Andamion Murataj for
"The Forgiveness of Blood" ("The Forgiveness of Blood") by Joshua Marston
Check out sets for 'The Hobbit'
The One Ring (dot net ... I love that they're a net instead of a com ...), grabbed these exclusive pictures, one of them you can see at the top of this post.
Here's more from The One Ring:
"Ringer Spy Mr. Anderson sends along these exclusive pics of The Hobbit sets being built in Miramar, NZ. If you look closely at some of the pictures, you’ll notice that the architecture seems to resemble that of Moria. I’m sure we can all draw our own conclusions, but could this be a flashforward sequence for Moria? Maybe we are getting a peak into the Lonely Moutain? Or maybe it has nothing to do with Dwarves at all! Share your thoughts and click the ‘continue reading’ below for the full gallery."
Martin Scorsese's classic is shown in its 4K digital restoration
Last night in Berlin was the world premiere of the 4K restoration of Martin Scorsese's 1976 classic, "Taxi Driver." Not surprisingly, and after many viewings throughout my life, the movie, all red light and red blood and red anger, is still lingering in my mind. And Bickle's above proclamation, "morbid self-attention" is more relevant today. So much of the picture feels frighteningly prescient. Like "The King of Comedy," it seems to speak of an entire oncoming generation -- Travis Bickle's and Rupert Pupkin's, primping (inadvertently or on purpose) for their 15 minutes of fame and glory. 15 minutes and more. From Bernard Goetz to Reality TV to TMZ to YouTube to Twitter, we love to celebrate or watch or laugh at our misfits, our train- wrecks, our crackheads, ourselves ready for their (our) close-up on ... anything and everywhere. we love to celebrate or watch or laugh at our misfits, our train wrecks our crackheads, . We're not the "Me Generation" we're the "Look at Me Generation."
Screenwriter Paul Schrader and supervisor of restoration, Grover Crisp, were there to present -- Crisp going over the technical details; Schrader to briefly tell us what inspired his screenplay, a screenplay he wrote at a mere 24 years old while he was living in his car. Schrader admitted to feeling like Travis Bickle, and even owning a gun. That he, at one point, realized he hadn't talked to a single person in a month, and was so alienated by the city, that he felt he was dying a young death in his auto-coffin. He may as well have been a night shift Taxi Driver. Schrader said that "he had to do something about it." Much like Bickle attempting to gain advice from The Wizard (and the Wizard's advice is awful), because he felt like he was going to do something ... he just didn't know what, and that he was worried about it (a moment in which we feel terrible for Bickle, reaching out, receiving nothing), Schrader was worried too. He was going to do something.
He took that anxiety and anger and did do something -- he wrote "Taxi Driver."
Here's the back-story of the restoration via the Berlinale:
"In order to restore the film in spring 2010, the original 35mm negative was first read by a high resolution 4K scanner. The film was also re-graded and digitally restored in 4K: the media files were restored by Sony Pictures in California under the supervision of Grover Crisp; Scorsese’s cinematographer Michael Chapman supervised Scott Ostrowsky as he created a colour matched version that was approved by Scorsese. The 4K files were subsequently given a digital clean up by MTI film in Los Angeles. This involved removing scratches, stains and tread marks from the archived negative. Some scratches proved especially difficult to remove without altering the underlying imagery, particularly the faces of characters. The restoration of the sound was equally extensive and involved the production of a new multi-track stereo soundtrack from the film’s original recordings. The final version of the restored film was approved by Martin Scorsese in January 2011."
To see the film on the big screen (which I hadn't viewed, writ large, since college), was a revelation. There's been much debate about the restoration of the picture -- that it might take away the grit of Travis Bickle's New York City -- a city that he discusses in terms of filth and scum (which made me wonder, while Bickle was telling his surprise cab fare Senator Palantine the needed changes to the city, if this had been Mayor Giuliani's favorite movie). But watching the movie, I believe the right balance was achieved. Never once did you feel like you weren't in NYC 1976, never once did you think the vibrant reds took away from dirty streets, the garbage, in fact, they only seemed to highlight them more. I always though that even Betsy's dresses, often red striped or pure white, were an interesting counterpoint to the junkies and lowlifes (who were also, incredibly vibrant, even before restoration) -- she is, of course, an "angel," as Travis proclaims her. But soon, to him, like all the rest of them.
Stanwyck clashes with ... Robert Ryan
For my contribution at the Hitlist, I'm taking us through the week with one of noir's greatest icons -- Barbara Stanwyck -- highlighting some of her top noir performances.
Here's Stanwyck joined by the great Robert Ryan and a young Marilyn Monroe in a Fritz Lang picture written by Clifford Odets.
"Clash by Night" (1952) Fritz Lang
What makes Stanwyck tick? That's a continual question regarding the actress who played, among other characters, tramps and heiresses, wives and writers, scammers and showgirls. So it's especially electric to watch Robert Ryan attempt to figure her out in the Fritz Lang melodrama/noir Clash by Night (written by Clifford Odets). As a woman returning to her hometown of Monterey, Calif., we learn that her life hasn't worked out the way she hoped for. She yearns for a more substantial life and, as she admits to a young Marilyn Monroe, a man to help build her confidence. The man she chooses is a worshipful Paul Douglas, but he's not the one she wants, and she struggles with feelings for her husband's best friend, the probing hothead Ryan. Stanwyck gives one of her tour de force performances -- brittle, poignant, tragic and strong while being simultaneously down to earth and superior. You absolutely get why she would think better for herself, and then, in her wounded moments, why she couldn't quite succeed. But, true to her mystery, you never really understand why. Though Ryan spits, "Don't kid me, baby. I know a bottle by the label," he and the viewer never can put their finger on what that label reads. Barbara was never that easy.
A sneak peek at Kristen Stewart on that 'Road'
But, thanks to Movieline, I'm officially excited by this project because of ... stills. They are lovely. Director Walter Salles and his cinematographer Eric Gautier, are revealing that the picture at least looks authentic and beautiful.
The next still, of Stewart dancing, is after the jump: