Six Spot #5: Best Director 2011

Welcome back to The Six Spot!  In case you missed last week’s 2003 Best Actress Six Spot, you can catch it here. This week, we discuss one of the more interesting pre-nomination races of the last decade, the 2011 Best Director race.  Unlike the four previous Six Spots, where we had a ton of non-nominees […]

Awards Profile: Trash

Directed By: Stephen Daldry Written By: Richard Curtis Cast: Rooney Mara, Martin Sheen, Wagner Moura, Selton Mello Synopsis: Set in an unnamed Third World country, three kids who make a discovery in a garbage dump soon find themselves running from the cops and trying to right a terrible wrong. Why It Could Succeed: The Director.  […]

Circuit 3: Steven Spielberg

Steven Allan Spielberg was born December 18, 1946, in the great state of Ohio. Before becoming one of our most beloved directors, Spielberg attended Long Beach State University, and made his first short film, Amblin‘, while working as an intern at Universal Studios (the title of which used when naming his production company, Amblin Entertainment). His first […]

Oscar Circuit: Best Cinematography

And the Nominees Are: Guillaume Schiffman “The Artist” Oscar Scene: Waking up from the sound dream sequence Jeff Cronenweth “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Oscar Scene: Opening credits Robert Richardson “Hugo” Oscar Scene: Traveling through the train station Emmanuel Lubezski “The Tree of Life” Oscar Scene: Creation Janusz Kaminski “War Horse” Oscar Scene: Joey […]

Making the final case for each Best Picture nominee…

As you’re reading this, the Oscar voters have already made their final selections for each category of the Academy Awards, and there’s nothing left to do but wait for the results at the awards ceremony on Sunday. It got me to thinking, what kind of case has each Best Picture contender made for their shot […]

Oscar Circuit: Art Direction

And the Nominees Are: The Artist – Laurence Bennett and Robert Gould Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 – Stuart Craig and Stephanie McMillan Hugo – Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo Midnight in Paris – Anne Seibel and Hélène Dubreuil War Horse – Rick Carter and Lee Sandales So where I began […]

Oscar Circuit: Best Sound Editing

And the Nominees Are: Drive The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Hugo Transformers: Dark of the Moon War Horse Just as my colleague and friend Mike Ward detailed the Best Sound Mixing race (the excellent write up can be found here), I’m diving right in and tackling the Best Sound Editing race. I know that […]

Oscar Circuit: Best Sound Mixing

The 2011 Nominees For Best Sound Mixing Are… • THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO • HUGO • MONEYBALL • TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON • WAR HORSE At my annual Oscar party, invariably some assemblage of attendees always ask questions such as “What is Cinematography?” “How do they judge Art Direction?” and a rather […]

Oscar Web Series Launches on has launched its brand new web series, “Nominated with Dave Karger”, that provides moviegoers with an in-depth look at each of the 2012 Oscar Nominees for Best Picture. Entertainment Weekly’s Oscar columnist, Dave Karger, hosts the web-series with insightful commentary that is inter-cut between clips of the films and interview footage from the crew, […]

Hindsight’s a Bitch

If you want a good laugh, take a look at early Oscar predictions of any given year.  It doesn’t matter who you look at, they’ll look ridiculous.  Not only are some of the forecasted contenders mediocre at best, but it seems obvious, looking back, that of course such films wouldn’t make any headway in the […]

Oscar Circuit: Best Original Score

And the Nominees Are: Ludovic Bource – “The Artist” Oscar Scene: “Bang!” (in the home theater) John Williams – “The Adventures of Tintin” Oscar Scene: Tintin and the big chase through the town square. Howard Shore – “Hugo” Oscar Scene: Georges Méliès’ movie Alberto Iglesias – “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” Oscar Scene: Opening Credits John […]

MPSE Sound Editors Nominees

Thanks to Sasha Stone @ Awards Daily FEATURE FILMS CATEGORY BEST SOUND EDITING: SOUND EFFECTS AND FOLEY IN A FEATURE FILM Drive Fast Five The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol Rise of the Planet of the Apes Super 8 Transformers: Dark of the Moon War Horse BEST SOUND EDITING: MUSIC IN […]

Sizing Up the Best Film Editing Field

Often called “the invisible art” of the movies, editing is a crucial and frequently undervalued (and misunderstood) element of filmmaking. Even more debatable is how to judge what “best” editing entails. Is it more commendable when an editor cuts a mediocre film out of pure garbage, or if they simply make impeccable footage flow well […]

A Word About Spielberg’s DGA Snub

The exclusion of Steven Spielberg and War Horse from the DGA race is a big deal indeed. Big enough to impact the entire Oscar race. It stands to change entire fabric of the current race right down to Best Picture. A nomination for Spielberg as Best Director could have easily become a win and at […]

Directors Guild of America Preview & Predictions

Probably the most important precursor of them all, the Directors Guild of America announces their nominees tomorrow.  With the field of Best Picture anywhere between five and ten, the names called tomorrow morning will be essential to making the final cut in both Motion Picture and Director.  Last year, the group chose Darren Aronofsky (Black […]

Sizing Up the Costume Design Field

So what could one possibly say about Best Costume Design that one couldn’t possibly infer from all of my previous installments? Even non-Oscar watchers could tell you that the most ornate and attention-grabbing costumes get the lion’s share of these prizes, meaning that period pieces and fantasy films almost always clean up here (but almost […]

War Horse for Picture, Scorsese for Director?

Scott Feinberg has astutely pointed out that Steven Spielberg’s War Horse has galloped into the lead for the Oscar as Best Picture, easing past The Artist and The Descendants, with its old fashioned emotion and sentiment set against the horrors of war. Is anyone really surprised? Spielberg evokes the great works of John Ford and David […]

Year-In-Review (Editor’s Honorable Mentions)

2011 presented a nice eclectic view of cinema we haven’t seen throughout the years.  If we summed it up to a ‘theme’ for the year, “silence” or “origins of cinema” would come to mind.  Films like Michel Hazanavicius’ “The Artist” and Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo” would fall in line with those thoughts.  When creating my ballots […]

Circuit Round-Up (Week Ending 01/01)

Happy New Year, everyone!  We concluded 2011 with reviews of Sleeping Beauty, Declaration of War, Project Nim, 13 Assassins and A Separation. Anna Belickis concluded her countdown of the worst, most vile, most inhumane offenses to art that graced the TV screen last year.  What was the worst of the worst, and what was the […]

War Horse (**½)

At its core, War Horse is a heartfelt story about a young man and the bond he creates with a horse who reciprocates that bond.  The film is beautifully shot and looks stunning on the big screen, as Steven Spielberg reminds us just how the art of making motion pictures comes incredibly easy to him.  […]

Circuit Round-Up (Week Ending 12/25)

Happy holidays, everyone!  Last week saw reviews of Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close and The Adventures of Tintin. On top of revisiting The Help and Rise of the Planet of the Apes on Blu-Ray, Michael Ward also weighed in on Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, A Dangerous Method, The Artist, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo […]

Weekend Openings (December 23-25)

Per usual, the year’s end is very crowded with ambitious Oscar contenders and highly-anticipated prestige projects.  The surprisingly (or perhaps it isn’t; Brad Bird is a movie maestro, no?) acclaimed Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol looks to edge past the competition by a hair, and based on Joey’s report is entirely deserved.  But what of […]

War Horse (Multiple Reviews)

FOOTE (****) On stage the horses are created with puppets, which I understand is rather effective. The same sort of thing was accomplished with Equus in the seventies, when actors wore crowns that looked like the head of a horse and stood on hooves to create the illusion of a horse. It was a stunning effect, that […]

Southeastern Film Critics Association Awards

TOP TEN FILMS The Descendants The Artist Hugo Moneyball The Tree of Life Drive Midnight in Paris Win Win War Horse The Help BEST ACTOR Winner – George Clooney (The Descendants) Runner-up – Michael Fassbender (Shame) BEST ACTRESS Winner – Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady Runner-up – Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin

Sizing Up the Best Cinematography Field

Continuing with our look at the crafts categories is the favorite of many an Oscarphile, and it’s easy to see why.  After all, aren’t the specific lighting and camera choices made by a DP what distinguishes cinema as, well, cinematic?  As with Best Art Direction, the Academy historically tends to nominate the “most” of this […]

Circuit Round-Up (Week Ending 12/18)

Last week saw reviews of Poetry, Albert Nobbs, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. Michael Ward was not that impressed with Young Adult. Clayton Davis shared his BFCA, SAG and Golden Globe predictions.  Anna Belickis published her HFPA TV predictions.

Houston Film Critics Nominations

Best Picture Drive, Film District Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Warner Bros. Midnight in Paris, Sony Pictures Classics Take Shelter, Sony Pictures Classics The Artist, The Weinstein Company The Descendants, Fox Searchlight The Help, Dreamworks & Touchstone The Tree of Life, Fox Searchlight War Horse, Dreamworks & Disney Win Win, Fox Searchlight Best Director Alexander […]

American Film Institute (AFI) Preview & Predictions

The American Film Institute will be unveiling their top ten films of 2011 tomorrow and I couldn’t be more excited.  This particular group doesn’t have a huge impact on the race like it should but they do often present some eclectic choices.  Last  year they named every Best Picture nominee except for Oscar Best Picture Winner “The […]

Sizing Up the Best Art Direction Field

As my colleague Joey Magidson wraps up his series on the contenders for the “major” categories, I’m going to take a look at the Oscar chances of those hard-working folks behind the camera.  Also known as the “technical” or “below-the-line” categories, these award fields honor the building blocks of cinema, the kind of work that […]

Circuit Round-Up (Week Ending 12/04)

Last week saw reviews of Carnage, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and War Horse. The precursors began their runs, and to track their possible decisions Michael Ward analyzed the voting habits of the New York Film Critics Circle and National Board of Review, while Joey Magidson previewed the Independent Spirit Awards.  Editor Clayton Davis was a […]

War Horse (***)

Steven Spielberg, probably the most iconic and creative director of our modern time, returns with the long awaited War Horse.  The story follows a young man Albert (Jeremy Irvine) and his horse Joey, and their powerful friendship that battles through war, tragedy, and hope.  We follow Joey as he’s sold from Albert and becomes a […]

Spielberg – The Greatest?

In my upcoming book, Steven Spielberg: American Film Artist, I make the argument that Spielberg has evolved into not only one of the greatest modern directors, but just might be the greatest film director in film history. Nominated a record ten times for the Directors Guild of America (DGA), he has won that award three times, […]