Our editor, Clayton Davis, has recently unveiled his most recent Oscar predictions. In his front-runner spot for Lead Actor is veteran actor Bruce Dern for his upcoming turn in Alexander Payne’s Nebraska. I currently have Dern in the number five slot, but after this interesting first look at the film, I’m thinking Mr. Davis might be on to something. It isn’t much, but Dern packs a whole lot into this two-minute scene. Nebraska will screen at Cannes, giving us a little more information on the film – and Dern’s performance – before it goes into limited release on November 22.
Anyone who looks at a new Alexander Payne film and doesn’t assume that the Academy will nominate it in some way is honestly just blind to history. Aside from Payne’s feature debut Citizen Ruth, every single one of his movies has received at least one Oscar nomination, and a pair of them have won the filmmaker himself an Academy Award for screenwriting. His latest flick Nebraskacould very well continue that trend, with an upcoming debut at the Cannes Film Festival our first hint, though the people at Paramount seem to be confident about the work, as they’ve opted to begin its limited release rollout on November 22nd, right in the heart of the awards season. Not only that, but they’ve allowed him to release the picture in black and white as well. A little more after the jump.
As we all wait for the “official” announcement of the films that will be playing at this year’s prestigious Cannes Film Festival, IndieWire seems to already have the list. They films will officially start being announced at 11:00am, but with the leaked list at hand, some exciting and head-scratching films will be making their bow.
It was announced weeks ago that Baz Luhrmann’sThe Great Gatsby would be the opening film but it won’t be the only high-profile film at hand. James Gray’s film “Lowlife” seems to have received a title change to join Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station and David O. Russell’s American Hustle as name changes for the week. The film looks to now be titled The Immigrant and stars Jeremy Renner, Marion Cotillard, and Joaquin Phoenix.
Directed by: Alexander Payne Written by: Bob Nelson
Cast: Bruce Dern, Will Forte, Bob Okenkirk, Stacy Keach, June Squibb
Synopsis (courtesy of IMDb): An aging, booze-addled father makes the trip from Montana to Nebraska with his estranged son in order to claim a million dollar Publisher’s Clearing House sweepstakes prize. Read more on Awards Profile: Nebraska…
And it’s back…bringing you daily questions for you to weigh in on. Some will refer directly back to an Academy Award/Oscar Race and some will be simply about film and actors in general.
It’s generally believed that Paul Giamatti was snubbed in a big way for Alexander Payne’s Sideways (2004). The five actors that made the lineup were Don Cheadle for Hotel Rwanda (2004), Johnny Depp in Finding Neverland (2004), Leonardo DiCaprio for The Aviator (2004), Clint Eastwood for Million Dollar Baby (2004), and Jamie Foxx for Ray (2004). If you were going to insert Giamatti into the lineup, which actor would you remove? Read more on Oscar Question of the Day (10/2/2012)…
A couple of months ago the rumor mill was filled to the brim with who Alexander Payne was looking to cast in his next film ‘Nebraska’. Lots of names were floated, mostly A-list elder statesmen and up and coming younger actors (comparatively at least), though apparently Payne had settled in on a more unique teaming of Bruce Dern and Will Forte. Nothing was set in stone, though now The Playlist is reporting here that the film has gotten a green light and Dern/Forte are set to officially star. After the jump you can see a quick refresher on what the movie will be about, but I’m definitely intrigued by this one, as I am by any project the filmmaker gets his hands on. Do we have an upcoming Oscar contender on our hands? Time will tell, but read on below for more on the flick…
One of the things that I’d been rather curious about the past year or so in regards to Alexander Payne was why exactly he wasn’t still working with his writing partner Jim Taylor. On ‘The Descendants’ he co-wrote the film with Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, while his in development projects ‘Nebraska’ and ‘Fork in the Road’ are being penned by Phil Johnston and Bob Nelson (for the former), and Kerry Williamson (for the latter). Well, it seems that they won’t be apart for long, as they have a script called ‘The Lost Cause’, and according to The Playlisthere, they’re giving it a stage reading at the Nantucket Film Festival next month. After the jump you can learn what the film is about, but it’s good to have them together again, even if it’s likely that Payne won’t actually direct this flick. They’re one of the best teams in the business…
How do you follow up your second Oscar win for screenwriting? Well if your name is Alexander Payne you focus on a black and white road trip movie and cast an SNL alum and a great character actor. According to Deadline, Will Forte and Bruce Dern have been cast as the father-son duo in Nebraska, Payne’s follow up to his Oscar winning film The Descendants. Dern would play a crotchety alcoholic dad on the downside of his life, who gets a sweepstakes letter in the mail and thinks he’s struck it rich. He gets in a car to head down to claim his fortune, accompanied by his underachieving son (Forte).
Coming on the heels of the selection of films in competition, the organizers of the Cannes Film Festival have announced the jurors who be tasked with judging the films. The jurors include Ewan McGregor, Diane Kruger, Oscar winner Alexander Payne and other notable international film presences.
Best Director, much like Best Picture seems pretty much locked up now that we are exactly one day away from The Academy Awards. Throughout the week, the staff here at The Awards Circuit put together our Will Win/Should Win list, if you followed all of our articles you would have noticed that we were all in agreement that Michel Hazanavicius will be the Director walking away with the Academy Award.
It’s Friday. Oscars are on Sunday. I’ve rattled my brain for hours, days, weeks. It hurts. I can’t. I am fully ready to be wrong in many categories. I also chickened out in several categories.
I wanted to put Max Von Sydow instead of Christopher Plummer. Not happening. Can I get some type of credit if it happens? No? I thought so. I wanted to place “The Artist” winning Original Screenplay over Woody Allen and “Midnight in Paris.” Terrible. I’m usually good at taking the big stabs. I chose Amy Adams when everyone said it was Rachel Weisz. I acknowledged I was wrong but I still went for it. It happens. But I have called great things like “The Hurt Locker” in May or Alan Arkin over Eddie Murphy and when I was in high school and had no idea what I was talking about I said Marcia Gay Harden for “Pollock.” Maybe it’ll be a safe year, maybe it’ll be a complete mind-trip, but at least it’ll be over. And then we can start this painful process again on Monday morning with the Year-In-Advance predictions.
You can check out each category through the Oscar Prediction pages with commentary for each category and my Who Will Win/Should Win. If you read the Davis Awards 2011, then you know my dream nominations and winners. Collectively, they are after the jump.
It was really a 2 horse race for the Scripter this year, and it seems that ‘The Descendants’ has hurdled past ‘Moneyball’ and taken the prize (and perhaps moved into the lead for Best Adapted Screenplay), as the Los Angeles Times reports:
“The Descendants” won the USC Libraries Scripter Award, a prize that honors the best adapted screenplay of the year as well as the book the film is based on. Screenwriters Alexander Payne (who also directed the film) and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash shared the prize with novelist Kaui Hart Hemmings at the Saturday ceremony at the university’s Edward L. Doheny Library.
The screenplay categories have a strong correlation with past Best Picture winners. In the past few years, “Slumdog Millionaire,” “No Country for Old Men,” and “The Departed” have all won the Adapted Screenplay race that translated to a Best Picture statue. Other winners such as “The Social Network,” “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire,” and “Brokeback Mountain” have lost Best Picture to an Original work. 2004 was the only year that a triumph occurred here that didn’t align with Oscar. Funny enough it was Alexander Payne’s “Sideways” which triumphed over Clint Eastwood’s winner “Million Dollar Baby.” With this year’s Best Picture race likely going to Michel Hazanavicius’ “The Artist” whoever wins in this category will likely be considered a “consolation” prize. Three out of the five films (The Descendants, Hugo, Moneyball), are nominated for Best Picture. ”Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” had a strong showing on nomination morning when many considered the film dead in the water. Lastly, “The Ides of March” pulled in a last minute mention, likely riding the coattails of George Clooney acting work in “The Descendants,” and made a well-deserved showing.
If you still weren’t willing to call the Oscar for “The Artist,” you should now. Not sure if this will necessarily translate to an automatic Directing win for the French director but the film is signed, sealed, and delivered for Oscar gold. Here’s the press release:
Best Picture: The Descendants
Best Director: Alexander Payne (The Descendants)
Best Actor: Brad Pitt (Moneyball)
Best Actress: Viola Davis (The Help)
Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer (Beginners)
Best Supporting Actress: Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids)
Best Animated Film: Rango
Best Film Yet to Open in Iowa: We Need to Talk About Kevin AND Project Nim
The Year-In-Review continues with some non-traditional citations on certain films and performances that did or did not make head way in 2011. What are your choices for “Limited Performance” of the year? or Most Underrated Film? or share what you thought about the Year-in-TV as I dish out my favorites in Television Drama and Comedies. Read more after jump. Read more on Year-In-Review: Editor’s Specialty Awards…
I had a really hard time composing this review to Alexander Payne’s long-awaited sixth feature and widely acclaimed dramedy, as I know that it will not be well-received. I’m sure there will be a lot of people reading this who will take issue with much of what I write about The Descendants. But believe me, I take no pleasure in calling this a dreadful failure on almost every level.
George Clooney stars as beleaguered land baron and attorney Matt King, who informs us through voiceover of all the problems he’s facing in his life after scolding anyone who thinks that wealthy Hawaiian inheritors live just a little easier than the rest of us. It appears as though Mr. King is the sole trustee of about 35,000 acres of inherited virgin Kaua’i land, and has to decide whether or not to sell it off to real estate developers for a fortune. More pressing is that his wife Elizabeth has suffered a serious head injury and has been in a coma from which he learns will never recover from. His voiceover then goes on (and on) to bemoan the strained relationship his family has suffered in recent years, from his drifting apart from Elizabeth to difficulties with his daughters. He is especially having a hard time with his tempestuous teenage daughter Alex, who in a fit of despair reveals that her mother had been unfaithful to Matt, prompting a search for the man who cuckolded him. Read more on The Descendants (½ Star)…
Without question, Alexander Payne’s latest film “The Descendants” floored me. Making his mark with the 1996 abortion-debate satire “Citizen Ruth” and maneuvering through high school politics with “Election”, a melancholic essay on growing old in “About Schmidt”, and his 2004 Oscar breakthrough, “Sideways”, which won Payne an Oscar for co-writing that film’s screenplay, Payne has always focused on people, men mostly, on the verge of falling apart. A terrific writer and underrated director, Payne does not just deliver great lines of dialogue or iconic images. Whether they are found in the unforgiving hallways of a Nebraska high school, the rich and bountiful experiences in the Napa Valley wine country, or the gorgeous atmospheres found in Kauai, Hawai’i, Payne is brilliant at dialing into how his moments, settings, and characters all intertwine.
And with “The Descendants”, Payne’s 7-year hiatus as a director finds him returning with his best and most fully accomplished work. Featuring George Clooney in a performance richer, more rewarding, and more affecting than anything he has delivered in his Oscar-winning career, Payne offers a film that speaks to the connections we make and take for granted, the uncomfortable emotions we all too frequently suppress, and the sudden rush of realization that comes too late, when those relationships you have always assumed would be there…may be gone forever.
What does it mean to be a family? What does it mean to be Hawaiian? A father? A husband? How does one deal with tragedy? How does one act morally? Do we have a responsibility to those who have come before us? Alexander Payne tackles these questions and more in his 5th film ‘The Descendants’, a dramedy about no less than life itself and what we both choose to take with us and what we leave behind. Ladies and gentlemen…Payne is 5 for 5 with this borderline masterpiece. This is his best work to date, and that’s really saying something, considering how highly I think of both ‘About Schmidt’ and ‘Election’. Few filmmakers working today have the deft touch that Payne has for mixing comedy and drama, and here he shows it off like never before. Never has his topic been more serious, but Payne still perfectly mixes the smiles with the tears…and here you will undoubtedly have both. His choice of George Clooney to star is both out of the box thinking and perfect casting, as Clooney absolutely owns this role as a parent struggling to understand his children and deserves every nomination or award he’ll receive this year, and there will be quite a few. The entire cast is great (including Shailene Woodley, Robert Forster, and Judy Greer in nomination worthy parts), and the writing is as good as anything we’ve seen from Payne before. What really sets him apart this time is his direction. This could be the year that he takes home the Best Director Oscar that’s alluded him to date he’s that good. No one else has ever framed Hawaii in this sort of light before. It’s a magnificent job all around. I couldn’t agree more with my colleague John Foote. This is easily one of the best films of the year.
Once again I find myself returning to The Descendants, which I have recently seen for a third time, a superlative film that at this writing is far and away the very best of 2011, granted an opinion that might change by years end. Brimming with humanity, overflowing with a deep generosity of spirit, I believe The Descendants is an American masterpiece, a film that will endure for years to come, and will be looked upon as the finest work of both actor George Clooney and director Alexander Payne. Somehow these gifted artist have created a picture that gently strokes your soul with its brilliant depiction of forgiveness and humanity. Anyone committed to another will find deep connections within the film, and understand exactly what Matt is going through. Anyone who has ever loved someone will understand everything Matt is going through, and those unfortunate souls who have lost someone they love deeply, will see themselves on screen. Perhaps that is Alexander Payne’s greatest gift as a director, we look at his characters in his films and say to ourselves, “i know that man…I am that man”.